open thread – July 3, 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 :)

{ 872 comments… read them below }

  1. WFH Employee Home Searches?*

    I’m curious what everyone’s take is on something I’ve noticed recently. At the last two companies I have worked at, the employee handbook has instituted far reaching search clauses stating “[Company] reserves the right to search your work area at any time, even if said work area is not located on [Company] property.”

    My current employer has gone even further and expressly states “We reserve the right to search the work area of any employee working from home to determine that the workspace meets [our criteria].”

    Is this a trend or have I just been unlucky? What do people think about companies trying to make home searches a condition of employment?

    1. Ad Astra*

      That would make me extremely uncomfortable. What kind of work would someone be doing that their remote work environment mattered so much?

    2. Jenn*

      I think it’s a safety issue – or at least that was my former company’s motivation. I’m sure there was a liability reason also from their perspective, but from mine it was totally fine by me to have someone in to check my equipment and set up.

    3. Emily*

      I have seen work from home contracts that say they can search the area you work in, but they mean the desk/computer/etc, not your whole home/apt. This seems odd to me. If they don’t trust you, why let you work at home?

    4. AnotherFed*

      That’s a condition of our telework. They don’t actually enforce it unless there’s suspicion of wrongdoing and you are under investigation, but they have to be able to. At a minimum, if there’s an information leak, they have to be able to contain it.

    5. HR Generalist*

      We have that – it’s a health and safety concern. They want to have the option to double-check that you’re working under safe conditions, as far as I know my organization doesn’t exercise it but they do have it built into policy and you sign off that you’re using appropriate work equipment (i.e. a desk chair, not a stool).

    6. OfficePrincess*

      In the past, my husband had to send in pictures of his workspace for an “inspection”. He had to include things like the fire extinguisher and exits (from the room, but not the apartment) and that there was no personal information for their customers written down on the desk. Once an inspection was announced, he had like 10 minutes to send in the pictures. It was weird, but at least no one was coming into our apartment.

    7. Arjay*

      I think the term “search” is what’s throwing me off here. An inspection process seems normal, but searching does sound like it goes too far.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Agree. What if your office space is in your bedroom? Do you really want people from your work going through your underwear drawer? Even the police need a warrant from the court specifying precisely what they are looking for.

        I think I would ask what they mean by “search” and ask if they mean “inspect”.

        1. Anna*

          I think that’s definitely the way to go. They can certainly inspect the area to make sure it meets safety requirements; they cannot (I imagine) go through your stuff and see what you’ve got in the drawers.

          Unless, of course, the office/cubical is on site. Then they can do whatever they want because it’s their property. Although I do wonder…do you still need a search warrant to go through someone’s on-site office?

    8. Apollo Warbucks*

      Certainly in the UK employers have an obligation to ensure safe working conditions and could be liable for damages if an employee hurts themselves whilst working at home.

    9. NoCalHR*

      We use this to ensure a safe workplace – both to meet CalOSHA requirements, and to manage the potential Workers’ Comp issues. Most folks have set up their home offices to avoid the most common CalOSHA stuff (no bare wires, no cables across the walkways, etc.). The ergonomic aspects of a home office are more subtle and difficult to do for yourself, hence our inspection rights and home visits!

    10. lawsuited*

      I’m a lawyer and in my jurisdiction any home office set-up has to meet certain requirements of our governing body to protect confidentiality of client information. When setting up remote access, I have to prove to my employer that my work space is sufficiently secure. It’s usually a third party IT person, rather than my employer, who sets it up anyway.

    11. INTP*

      I have heard of this. TBH, I think it makes sense to some extent. Not for them to pre-emptively inspect your home office or anything, but if productivity issues develop it would be reasonable for them to want to check and make sure that you’re working in a proper space where you can concentrate and not sitting on the couch with kids and pets all around you. If that was the crux of the performance issues, it would be helpful for them to know so they could just stop letting you WFH.

    12. Stephanie*

      My mom’s WFH contract mandates inspection. (Now she’s never actually had one in the five years she’s worked remotely.) For her company, it’s ensuring that the home office is secure (like an office with a lock is one requirement).

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Perhaps a tangentially related scenario? When I picked out my previous pup, I signed a paper that the dog rescue could inspect my home at any time for as long as the dog lived. I questioned that. They said they never used it unless there were other problems going such as someone reported to them that I was abusing the dog. Given the logistics involved and knowing my dog would not be abused, I felt certain I would never hear from them again and I didn’t.
      Maybe this is a similar idea, that a home inspection is only used when there is another problem of serious concern happening.

  2. Me me*

    I’ve been waiting for this.

    I relocated for work about 4 months ago. I work in a pretty small office. There are about 9 employees who come in to work in the office daily and the rest of the people (about 140) are remote. I work closely with one person, I’ll call her T. We were hired at the same time. Our cubes are across from each other. There are another 4 employees who work at the other end of the office, about 20 feet away. All the cubes between us and them are empty.

    T had been telling me for a couple of weeks now that she hears the other 4 talking about our office closing. I tend to tune people out to focus on work and they are far enough away that I can’t hear them well anyway. So I hadn’t heard any of the conversation. But a few days ago when they were talking T got my attention and told me to listen. I did and there is definitely something going on.

    We’ve learned enough to know that there serious consideration of at least these 4 employees having to work remote and/or commute to one of our bigger offices an hour and a half away. I didn’t hear them specifically say that the office was closing but T says she’s heard them say “if the office closes…”

    We’ve speculated a lot about whether this applies to us or not. My manager hasn’t said anything either. But I can’t imagine them only moving these other 4 and keeping the office open or why they would even move them if the office was staying open. So I imagine it would affect us too.

    We’re both new and I relocated for this job, at my own expense. My husband left his job too. I’m really nervous about what this means for me. I want to ask about it and so does T, but whenever I suggest it she has arguments for not asking. Will these guys get in trouble for talking? Will we seem like eavesdroppers? If we ask the guys will they tell someone we were asking? And a multitude of other concerns. I think most of them are not particularly valid worries and we have a right to know what’s going on.

    Should we ask about it? If so, who would you suggest we ask? And what should we say?

    1. Mike C.*

      Absolutely ask! There’s nothing wrong with directly saying, “we’ve heard rumors about major changes going on here, would you mind setting the record straight for us?”

    2. Fleur*

      That’s a really precarious situation to be in, OP. I’d want to have all my bases covered and start looking for jobs ASAP. At the same time, is it possible for you to work remote as well? It’s a bit odd to me that you’d have 140 employees remote, and 9 people in the office. If all work can be done remotely, I can see why they’d not want to continue paying rent. It’s a bad sign still if the other employees are being told to prepare for either a commute or remote work while you’re in the dark, though. It sounds like they have a transition plan and you’re not included.

      1. Me me*

        Yup. The 140 are sales people who go to client sites. But they are “assigned” to this office. The people who work in the office have different functions. The 4 guys do something that they can’t VPN in for due to security. Weve been thinking that it may be training related that we can’t work remote regularly and it might change but that hasn’t been said.

        I am worried that they are not transitioning us. It would be really horrible for them to have me relocate and then terminate me 4 months later. But I guess companies have done worse.

    3. YandO*

      Are you worried they will fire you or make you remote? Would your job land nicely to being remote? or do you need an office?

      1. Me me*

        I’m worried they could eliminate my position but it’s a newly formed position that was needed and we’re doing things no one else in the company is really doing for our specific department. It could easily be remote. I work with my manager and T but there’s nothing we do that we HAVE to be in the same room for. Most of the people I work on my projects with are not in my office. When they listed this job it was posted for several different locations because it didn’t have to be local but my manager decided she wanted a local team. That’s part of what’s frustrating because I asked to go to this other location (where they are talking about moving the others) and was told that was off the table so I moved to this location.

    4. Hermoine Granger*

      I would suggest asking your manager about what’s going on. No need to mention where you heard the info from. Depending on the response I’d start job searching.

  3. Ad Astra*

    I have to work today while all my family and friends have the day off and I’m being a huge baby about it. I’ve worked tons of actual holidays and weekends in my career, so I really shouldn’t be so bothered that my job is asking me to do work on a workday. Someone kick me in the pants so I can get over my attitude problem.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      I’m working today too. I have a few big projects to finish, but on the plus side, I’m the only person in the office. I’m wearing super-comfy clothes, drinking tea, and listening to music. Practically a holiday. :)

    2. OfficePrincess*

      I’m working today too. We’re running normal shifts today full speed ahead to be able to shut down as early as possible tomorrow. There’s a group of us who don’t have to all be here on holidays like this, so we all kind of trade off. The bulk of my normal tasks I can’t do, but I’m using this as a day to catch up on a few things and get ahead so I’ll have less to do Monday. Of course, I did that already and am now doing busy work. So bored.

    3. Afiendishthingy*

      I’m supposedly off from today until next Thursday except I didn’t finish some paperwork that needs to be done by Monday, so I took it home with me. Grrr and I only have myself to blame.

      It is super annoying working when everyone else is off. But just a few more hours, right?

    4. Amber Rose*

      Today is the parade. THE parade to start the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. It’s huge. People from around the world show up and the city shuts down. It’ll be useless trying to do anything for the next 10 days while everyone is at this thing.

      I’m sitting here at work with my sore foot propped on a garbage can trying to sort out technical documentation for a customer.

      Basically, I sympathize.

    5. A Dispatcher*

      If it makes you feel better I worked 12 hours into this morning, will do 12 tonight, and 12 again Saturday night. And for those who don’t know, the 4th of July is one of the busiest night of the year for police dispatch (New Years Eve/New Years being the other standout).

      1. Ad Astra*

        Ah yes, here’s wishing you the calmest weekend possible under the circumstances! July 4 is my favorite holiday so I always tried to get that day off if I could.

      2. Act Casual*

        I’m working 12 hours tonight and tomorrow night as well. My least favorite weekend of the year to work (I’m in law enforcement dispatch as well). Fireworks are illegal to possess and use in most municipalities in my state, but legal to buy and use in unincorporated areas. So this results in pretty much everyone buying them in the county, bringing them into the city and blowing them off…which results in most of the other citizens calling 911 and saying, “There’s fiiiiiiiiirewoooooooooooorks! They’re noisy and they’re going to catch my house on fire!” I totally sympathize, believe me. I’m not a fireworks fan. But we simply don’t have enough officers to contain the problem.

      3. Melissa*

        My husband was just telling me that some hospital workers told him how much they hate the Fourth of July.

        1. Anna*

          I have a good friend who’s a nurse at a very large research hospital with a very sophisticated trauma ward. Summers in general see a huge spike in trauma cases, and 4th of July especially is crazy.

    6. Retail Lifer*

      We completely lost the 4th as a paid holiday this year. I’m at work, too. I feel your pain.

      1. Ad Astra*

        It’s like, don’t tell me you offer 10 paid holidays a year when it’s clearly 9. Although I’m not sure how this affects people who would normally work Saturday, because that still is a holiday. And obviously 9/10 holidays a year is a lot, but I still feel like something was taken away from me.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I work in a 24/7/365 industry and our holiday is the 3rd. Working Saturday? Yeah, that sucks, but it’s not a “holiday” as far as the business office is concerned.

          I will say that if you’re full-time you get paid 8 hours of straight time even if the holiday falls on your regularly scheduled day off.

      2. Sparkly Librarian*

        In my office jobs we almost always would have Friday the 3rd off in a year like this (although depending on the job, we might still have needed holiday coverage and I’d usually volunteer in hopes of getting other preferred holidays off). I just changed to a public service job, and the deal is that we work on Friday (all locations), and then those whose normal schedules include Saturday get Saturday off (and locations closed) while the rest of us get a comp day to be taken sometime in the future. 8 extra vacation hours accrued on the paystub, basically.

        1. Ad Astra*

          See, comp time would make me a lot less grumpy about this. But really, I need to suck it up and do my job. And then I guess I can gloat on Columbus Day.

      3. Persephone Mulberry*

        Yuck. I’m at work today too, but since the 4th is on a Saturday they gave us a floating holiday. Lots of people took it today, but I’m using mine in a couple weeks to take a long weekend around my sister’s wedding.

    7. Mel in HR*

      I’m also working and I have a final paper due tonight that I want to be working on. BUT I’m hourly and we don’t get Independence Day as a holiday so I am glad I can get paid for this. Still, it’s raining and I had to lay off two people today so I really wish I was laying in bed and/or writing my paper…..

    8. Rye-Ann*

      No advice, but I am also working today. I’m a chemistry grad student, and my thesis is due soon but I still have a few experiments to do. So…I’m working today, and probably on Sunday too. I sympathize. :\

      1. Anx*

        The lab was so quiet today, it was amazing. I feel like for the first time all semester I wasn’t distracting my supervisor and was actually more helpful than draining. But the buildings are key access only and I’m not a student where I intern so I’ve had to be strategic about water fountain breaks.

    9. overqualified and underemployed*

      I’m working today AND tomorrow, if that makes you feel better!

    10. Nancie*

      No kick in the pants from me, I’m afraid.

      But feel free to consider yourself a proxy for at least one person who worked today who I’m incredibly grateful to. If it wasn’t for them, I’d have no AC this weekend. I may as well live in a swamp, the heat and humidity are so high — so like I said, grateful. Very.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I had nothing to do today. I probably could have worked. :P But the office is closed and it’s a paid holiday, so eh. (Some parts of the company are working, but I’m not in that department.)

    12. Audiophile*

      I worked today, even though the office I work in was technically closed. The part that bummed me out, was as a contractor, I got paid straight time but the employee I was working with got double time. I’ll get holiday pay for working tomorrow and I’ll also get some OT for the week.

    13. TootsNYC*

      I count myself incredibly lucky to work at a job that gives me days off like this (a paid holiday to honor the 4th, and early dismissal the day before).

      So very, very many people don’t get that kind of time.

  4. hermit crab*

    So yesterday I was walking through a local university campus and saw a flyer that said (if I am remembering the wording right):

    We will apply to jobs on Craigslist FOR you for $1 a day.
    Call [phone number] for details.
    Limited availability, first come/first served.

    Reactions? Anybody else ever seen something like this?

    1. Ad Astra*

      If you can afford to pay someone to apply for jobs for you, maybe you don’t need a job that bad.

    2. Emily*

      I have seen this before. I think its bored college kids. I wouldn’t trust someone else with something like a job search, personally. It seems kinda shady.

      1. hermit crab*

        Oh definitely. I love how the charge is just $1 a day. What do you think you’d be getting for that??

        1. SevenSixOne*

          Whoever is running this scam won’t find you a job, but they do get access to loads of your personal information for a dollar a day.


    3. Excel Slayer*

      No, never.
      Although I really hope no one actually asked them to apply for jobs.

  5. Ally*

    How did you decide on the degree/job that you ultimately ended up with?

    I’m really struggling to find what I want to do!

    1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

      Try and error. I decided to study business management. The nice thing in Germany is that there are programs that combine work and study. So you actually need the job to get your degree. It is not an intern position with the company more like trainee I guess. So the nice think about that was that I would move around the different departments. I was in Sales for 1 Year doing well and liking it, avoided customer service (dont have the patients), half year of marketing (which I knew that I would hate…) and one and a half years in finance department (my thing!) I always knew numbers were my thing but initially more interested in sales. Being able to test a lot was really helpful. Now I am about to finish my masters in finance which I never thought of when I first started my Bachelors.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Yup, definitely trial and error. My bachelors is in anthropology, does not have a lot to do with my career. I bounced around a lot in my early twenties and fell into my current career path when I was 25.

        1. Jill of All Trades*

          Me too!!! Do people always tell you that their favorite elective in college was the anthro class?

          BTW, I ended up in corporate finance (blah).

      2. danr*

        Same here… Started out as History/Secondary ed. Did student teaching with 8th graders and realized I was with the wrong age group. I had to go to grad school for my elementary certification and got a job teaching 5th grade. It wasn’t a resounding success. So I saved my money and left for library school. That was more successful and eventually I ended up at my last company. I would have retired from there, but they were bought out and closed a year or so before that could happen.

    2. Ad Astra*

      My favorite high school activity was working on the school newspaper, so I knew going into college I wanted to study journalism. I did consider also majoring in Classics because I liked Latin, but it turns out I wasn’t a good enough student in my high school Latin classes to keep up with the college courses. I also considered psychology, but you can’t do much with a bachelor’s in psych and I knew I couldn’t afford grad school.

      In my junior year, I started really considering going into K-12 education instead, but it was sorta too late. The prerequisites were completely different, and it would have taken me 6 years to graduate. So I stuck with journalism. I worked for newspapers for four years after college, then got laid off and found a new job in marketing.

      So basically, I’ve always had a path. It’s just that the path keeps changing.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I got into computers because I enjoyed my computer classes in high school. It’s nice when high school stuff actually helps prepare you for decisions in real life.

    3. AnotherFed*

      Process of elimination, to some extent. Think about the things you really like doing, the things you are content to do as long as someone pays you, the things you put up with because you can be a responsible adult if you have to, and the things you just can’t stand. Past jobs are definitely good teachers of what you do and don’t like, and if you have even a rough idea of the field you want, take the time to do internships and get to know different sides of the industry.

      For me, I hate putting up with people in customer service type interactions – I’m totally ok with mentoring a new hire asking tons of questions, but can’t stand customer after customer asking the same questions about information clearly written on product labels. It’s irrational, because I absolutely ask for help in stores, but it’s something to absolutely avoid for me. I love figuring out how things work, why they work, why someone built them that way, and how to make them better/faster/stronger/lighter. So, engineering in a non-client facing role.

    4. Violet Rose*

      My degree: I was good at it – and eventually realised that, hey, I liked it! (Mathematics, in my case, so there was a lot of encouragement from people in my life as it’s seen as a “safe” degree. I toyed with being an art major, for very similar reasons, but decided on an art minor instead.)

      My job: …still working that one out. So far I’ve not had many, and most of the ones I’ve had were not good experiences.

    5. hermit crab*

      My answer is: people. The geology professors at my school were the best and the kindest and the most interesting, and now I work in geology with other interesting and kind people. That is not a very scientific way of going about things, but (among other factors) I definitely recommend thinking about the types of personalities that tend to self-select into a field you’re considering.

    6. Amber Rose*

      I tried a ton of things and spoke to a ton of people. I picked a degree based on my favorite high school subject (physics, natch) but spent my first year taking classes in every other department, and talking to professors and heads about the pros and cons. I also talked to a guidance counselor. We ended up deciding how to combine my love of science with my lack of logic (seriously) by putting me in a new program: GIS and Geography.

      So I double majored and took a variety of geography related jobs before landing in an oil and gas company as their technical documentation and social media person.

      1. Sloth Loves Chunk*

        Wow, I followed almost the same path! I have a BS in Applied Physics, which I was not very good at. (Also chose because I really liked physics in high school and was considering engineering) A year later, after getting laid off and realizing I needed a new career path I chose to get a master’s degree in Geography with a focus on GIS because I like that it encompassed tech. and both physical and social science.
        My only regret is that I didn’t find out about GIS sooner because then I could have avoided Quantum Physics!

        1. Amber Rose*

          GIS is lovely that way. I’ve ended up focused more on geography than GIS but it did give me some useful database management skills.

          I looked into remote sensing as well but it turns out it bores me to tears. =P

        2. LPBB*

          I wish I had thought about/known about Geography/GIS before the grad program that I ultimately chose. If I weren’t so heavily in debt from that program, I would seriously consider it now.

      2. hermit crab*

        I went into college intending to major in physics … and ended up not taking a single physics class!

          1. hermit crab*

            Haha, fantastic. I guess I am marrying a physicist now (10+ years later) so … partial credit?

        1. Short Geologist*

          Ha! I selected a college specifically for archaeology and didn’t take a single class! Although geology isn’t far off – it’s still doing science outside.

          1. OfficePrincess*

            I chose a college for it’s forensic science program, graduated with a criminal justice degree, and am working in logistics. The only investigating I do now is backtracking to figure out how things got screwed up.

    7. Turanga Leela*

      When I was in college, my academic advisor pointed out to me that every class I had signed up for was cross-listed as public policy. He told me that if I wanted to do policy work, I should go to either law school or business school. I wasn’t interested in business, so I went to law school.

      Once I was there, I realized that I had stumbled into a field that let me read, write, and talk for a living—all things I enjoy and am good at. Plus, I have always been interested in law and government (I’m one of those people hanging out on SCOTUSblog when opinions are released). My current position is very policy-focused, but I’ve also done litigation and liked it. It turns out I was born to be a lawyer, and the big question is why it took me so long to realize that.

    8. Mel in HR*

      It was a long process. I have 2 associate’s degrees and a bachelor’s and now am working on a Master’s. I wanted to be a musician, but as I was finishing my degree, I realized that there wasn’t much money in that. I had so many interests that I panicked, but I thought back on what I had always wanted to do and that was to start my own company. So I went into business and my advisor recommended I take an HR class as an elective. I fell in love with the field immediately and knew it was what I wanted to do. I then got my Bachelor’s in HR Management and now am working on my MBA in HR while working full time in the field. (I know the stance on graduate degrees, but where I live most of the good HR jobs require a Master’s or a ridiculous amount of experience). The job I have now I actually got through a temp agency. I was assigned to be the receptionist/admin/CEO’s assistant. They learned I had limited HR experience and a degree in the field and I was hired on into the HR role I am in now, because they needed an HR department.
      Long story still long, think about what type of things you are really drawn to and enjoy doing. Consider doing temp work to try out different jobs and see what you like!

    9. Jen RO*

      I chose my degree through process of elimination (ending up with something that sounded OK to me, as opposed to the things that I definitely *didn’t* like), but I never used it. I got my current job through a lucky string of events that started with my love of sci-fi and the emergence of blogs, and it turned out to be a perfect match. (Publishing house editor was reading my blog, needed a copy editor who knew sci-fi, then I got hired as a tech writer based on my editing experience. My degree is in economics/tourism.)

    10. GiantPanda*

      Family heritage. My parents have the same degree as I chose to study. I left the field afterwards…
      Note: They didn’t put any pressure on me, ever. I just majored in their subject by default.

    11. Diddly*

      Wish I’d thought about it more, at the time I just had to go do a degree as that what’s my folks said (complicated), I ended up on a course I hated and switched to one I eventually grew to enjoy but that did not translate to any sort of obvious career path. And then there was the recession – YAY!
      I don’t know how old you are, but I’d recommend doing some work before you go to college so that your degree is both relevant/what you want to do – so you’re motivated to do it and so that once you graduate you have relevant experience plus the degree to help you get that job.
      Also with working before college I think people are more lenient with you cutting and changing and trying things out then they will be after college. Good luck!

    12. Hermoine Granger*

      I applied for the architecture and communications programs at my college. I was accepted into the communications program and took a required Advertising class during my first semester. The professor made it sound like the most amazing field. I unofficially changed my major to advertising and then added in business and marketing courses as electives. I liked the idea of creative but strategic design.

    13. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t stress too much about it. There are exceptions, of course, but usually young people don’t know what they want to do and can’t plan ahead for it. In fact, many older people are doing jobs now that didn’t even exist ten or fifteen years ago!

      I was an English major, then an English teacher. Eventually I made my way to being a Director of Technology. I have never regretted having been an English major. Not once did I ever say to myself, “If only I’d majored in computer science instead…”

      I know someone else who studied film and tried to get into the film industry… and is now working in advertising (not a film part of advertising).

      Another English major I know went back to get a second degree in graphic design and then became a graphic designer.

      Life (and careers) take you on funny paths sometimes. I don’t mean this is a trite cliché at all—you really should just pursue what you love and are interested in. If that doesn’t pay the bills, get a job that does… and then still focus on what you love and are interested in. I used to work at an art school, and most of the people on admin staff there (registrar’s office, accounts payable, admissions, etc.) were artists. They did admin work during the day to pay the bills, and then they went to their studios at night to paint or make jewelry.

      Best of luck to you!

    14. Caroline*

      Trial and error, I guess. After high school and an unsuccessful attempt at college, I worked as a kitchen manager. I liked it a lot, but I knew most kitchens are awful places to work, and I didn’t see a path to financial stability there. I had developed a passion for midwifery, after running across the idea online, so I decided to go back to college to study nursing with plans to become a nurse midwife.
      In the first semester, I realized nursing was not at all for me, but decided to stick around. I found the nicest, most helpful professor I had met thus far, and declared my major her subject so I could have her as an advisor. I had always wanted to “finish” math since I didn’t get to calculus in high school, so I took Calc. I loved it and wanted to take more math classes so I did so. My awesome (non-math) advisor told me if I was quantitative, I should take a computer science class since she got many requests for sociologists who could code.
      I did, and liked it. I switched my major to math. I ended up taking an internship as a software developer. It was too late to do a CS double major with math, so I just did an unofficial minor. It was sufficient though, to land me a job as a software engineer, where I am now.
      I’m sure my career will continue to shift over my lifetime. I’ve just tried to take the next interesting opportunity, and when I didn’t know what that was, my goal was to try something, for the purposes of ruling it in or out.

    15. Zatchmort*

      For me, it was mostly luck. I used to watch Voyager and think that the engineering looked awesome – it was work that relied on knowing a lot to start with, but being able to apply it in creative new ways to fix problems. I realized a few years later that doing tech support (just for family members at that time) helped me access that feeling.

      Fast forward to college – I planned to major in physics, but though I really enjoyed the lectures in my first college physics course, I hated the labs. That experience eventually helped me realize that although I’m smart and I like finding stuff out, I don’t particularly want to be the *first* to do the painstaking effort of finding new knowledge (and then repeating it over and over to be sure). I ended up majoring in Japanese with a minor in linguistics because those courses were the most fun for the least work, and so since I like helping people being a Japanese professor seemed like the thing to do. I took a year off to volunteer in Japan before going to grad school, which was *absolutely* a good decision. It gave me the chance to think things over and do some reading and realize that a) very few professors focus on the language, it’s mostly subject matter experts doing a language course on the sides; b) professors have to do research, you can’t just teach; c) I don’t actually enjoy living in Japan all that much (which is almost certainly where I’d need to do Japanese linguistic research); and d) the number of tenure-track positions in the humanities is tiny compared to the number of qualified applicants.

      At that point I realized that I’d also really enjoyed the internships and student jobs I’d had in tech, and those would also put food on the table, so I went back to my alma mater and worked my way up to a senior tech support staff position. It’s been very rewarding so far.

      So, lessons learned:
      1) The best way to find out if you’d enjoy doing something is to actually do it. Intern, job-shadow – whatever it takes to see the day-to-day work, and preferably before committing to grad school.
      2) Don’t be too hemmed in by what you think you “ought” to do. Many people hate tech support; I love it. More importantly, not everybody who enjoys an academic subject and is good at it becomes a professor, or even goes to grad school. The pursuit of pure knowledge is pretty cool, and has a lot of social regard, but it is not all there is to life, and picking a different path does NOT mean you couldn’t hack it. (This should be obvious but it honestly never occurred to me in college.)
      3) Don’t assume that your passion and your job have to be one and the same. I was fortunate enough to find a career that I actually am really passionate about, but the tradeoff for intellectual challenge during the day is that my hobbies have gotten way less interesting since I started. There are plenty of people who put in their 8-5 so they can put food on the table, and then do amazing, creative, inspiring things with their evenings and weekends.

    16. Jo*

      I majored in public affairs, ended up doing AmeriCorps after graduation, and now I work in higher ed. I picked a major based on my interests in government and then through my work experience (internships, americorps, etc.), I ended up narrowing my focus. I would definitely encourage you to look into internships. I did one internship in event planning and realized that while I would probably do well in the field, my heart wasn’t into it.

    17. Claire (Scotland)*

      I knew I was interested in teaching from when I was about 14, but I was rejected from the BEd Primary Education when I applied in my final year of high school, for being too young (I was the youngest in my year and went to Uni at 17, they didn’t think I had enough life experience at that point – and they were probably right! – but encouraged me to reapply the following year). So I was in school, talking to my teachers about what to do next, and they encouraged me to consider doing a BA instead and then do a post-grad for teaching if that was what I wanted. I applied through Clearing (late applications service) for a subject I’d crashed (taken without prior study) in Sixth Year and loved. I got a few offers, so I ended up picking a uni that I liked the look of.

      I loved studying my subject, and would have liked to do a PhD but getting funding was a problem. So I
      did my Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (as the Scottish Government would fund me to do that).

      Two months in I went on my first teaching placement, bombed, and nearly quit. Two months after a make-or-break meeting with my tutor, I went on my second teaching placement, LOVED it, and realised the problem with the first placement wasn’t the teaching but the school I was in (I am NOT cut out for the private school environment, it made me miserable). I fell in love with teaching in those few weeks, and 17 years on I still love my job.

    18. Alistair*

      I was always interested in rocks. Mom said that she’d always have to check my pockets for rocks. I took the intro class my first semester, and was hooked.

      Later in school, I learned that the geology department was super research oriented, which was not for me. Fortunately, I met a professor who pointed me to the Mining Engineering department, where you pretty much get trained to plan and run mines; very hands-on, real world stuff. I was even more hooked.

      It was too late to switch or double, so I minored in mining, and eventually got a job working in mining and geology consulting. It’s mostly been a good time since, and hey, I’ve gotten to do some great traveling (and some not so great trips…).

    19. An anon regular*

      Don’t want to give up too much info, so I don’t want this associated with my usual handle.

      I worked as an EMT and volunteer teacher after college. I kinda liked both, but both were too stressful and, while very rewarding in certain ways, were also lacking something. Because of my medical background I wound up working in a lab, which was OK but really didn’t even require a degree. I then got into government consulting because I had family in it, and I found that I liked it. I believe it had what the other positions lacked: the ability to constantly challenge me and the opportunity to keep learning new things. Puzzle solving, and learning new fields and new skills, all were things that appealed to me and that I had been lacking before.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      I wanted to work in the criminal justice system, so I started as a crim major and then for some stupid reason I switched to English, thinking I would teach. Ended up with a BS in English and an AS in criminology. I wrote a crime novel, so I guess that was all they were good for! Failed at grad school (education) and bailed on the professional writing degree (I just couldn’t stand being in school anymore). Now all I have is mounds of debt and probably no Social Security. :P

      This job I lucked into, and no one is paying me to write books. So whatever. I don’t know why I kept running back into the arms of education, but I’m done with it. Like a bad relationship, I’m done.

    21. AnnieNonymous*

      I majored in music (piano performance) because I was going through a lot at the time and I felt that it was the only program I would stick with and finish. I graduated in 2008. When the recession hit a few months later, I went back for my MA in English (I’d taken enough writing electives/credits to qualify) with the idea that I’d be making myself better suited for white collar office work. I currently do marketing and SEO work for online-based business. The English degree definitely helps when it comes to getting writing-heavy jobs.

      I’ve also thought about teaching one class per term at the local community college as a side gig, but I’m waiting until I’m fully ready to get back into an academic environment. I was in school for a long time so I needed some time away from that stuff.

    22. Silver*

      I’ve always loved science so I did a Applied Science degree straight after school and then applied for postgrad med school. Decided to take a year off before I applied to med school and went OS.
      Did a short film course there which set me on my current path. After a few detours I ended up working in acquisitions for a television station and now work for a major studio in distribution in my country.
      My job requires that I be very systematic, detail oriented and able to solve problems for clients quickly. I’ve been really lucky to end up in a career that I love so much.

    23. Pipes32*

      I had a twisting road too, like most everyone else here!

      I love working with people. So, I originally went into hotel / restaurant management – after 2 weeks I realized it wasn’t for me, as I could probably skip the schooling and work my way up in the industry for a lot cheaper, and besides I liked my holidays and didn’t want to give all of them up.

      That led to communication sciences, which is basically half public speaking and half the science of how people communicate. Most people end up going into law school and that’s what I thought I wanted to. But towards the end, I realized I didn’t want to go to law school (or any more school for that matter). I thought to myself, how do I still get to work with people? I wanted to be a trial lawyer to persuade people to do things…sales!

      Got a miserable, terrible sales internship that led to an amazing sales job, still at it.

  6. Carrie in Scotland*

    So, people who have been following me on various open threads – both this one and the weekend one know that I’ve been wanting to relocate.
    Well this week I had an interview and I only went and got the job!!
    Thanks to the advice of The Hive and Alison on many interview things (how to best answer questions etc) and negotiating, I also managed to get myself a raise; not much, just a few hundred pounds a year but it all helps.

    So I know have to work my month’s notice (UK standard) and start my new job mid-Aug. Excite/nervous!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        It’s another admin one, for a different department but some of the duties are the same or similar – just more students!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Well done!

      You’ll be so busy planning the move the month will soon fly by.

    2. Hermoine Granger*

      Congrats on your new position! Hopefully the month flies by and you’re at your new job before you know it.

    3. TheLazyB*

      Oooooh well done, how fab!

      Is it the one that told you you were free to leave?! Enquiring minds…. :)

      So pleased for you!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        yes, it was that one! :) maybe I will ask about it, at some point.

        Thanks for all your good wishes!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is wonderful news. Congratulations, good for you for negotiating, too.

  7. Emily*

    Does anyone have any tips for managing burn out and resentment when you have been trying repeatedly to advance your career and failing? I’ve worked in a position for 9 years. My numbers are awesome, I am sociable and friendly with the entire department, I go above and beyond by stepping up and helping others and jumping up first to be on new projects and initiatives. I’ve been put into promotions via temporary positions when someone is on leave or for Projects and received compliments and awards for them. I took 4 interview classes and read Alison’s guide and have gotten complimented by hiring managers on my interview skills. However, I applied for the last 5 promotions to the next level and been declined every time. The first two times I received zero feedback and the last three I was told I interviewed so well and was an amazing candidate but someone else was a better fit. I am now starting to get burnt out over this. I cannot talk to my boss about development without getting teary and having to step away. I am unhappy at work and trying very hard to not show it. I’ve developed some depression and insomnia and now I’m needing to down 2-4 cans of soda a day at work to maintain an upbeat demeanor and try to show this isn’t affecting me. The last 2 people who were hired are people I trained and whom are struggling to do the job and even come to me for help, which is making me resentful and a little annoyed. I am scared to leave my company and have to start all over again at entry level (and min wage!) at a new company and I have been given feedback by my boss that this can be normal and I need to just keep applying so upper management sees I am serious. Does anyone have any tips for anything I can do to get over this and just be okay with my current job until it’s “my turn”? Any advice is appreciated!

    1. Mike C.*

      It sounds like you need to look outside your company. You won’t start at the bottom because you have years of accumulated experience and successes.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Why would you assume you have to start at minimum wage? I’m curious what’s feeding that assumption.

      2. Bea W*

        Totally agree. Sometimes you can be so valued in your current position that you get pigeon-holed into it. That happened to me, and it was near impossible to move even laterally.

        You have 9 years experience at your current job. You will not be starting over in an entry level position at a new company. It is worth exploring what is out there to see where you might go next. If you are nervous, just look and see what it out there. That may give you inspiration or confidence to start applying for positions outside the company. What is the worst that could happen if you apply outside? You don’t get the job or you are offered a job you don’t want and decline? You’ll still have your current position and be no worse off than you are now.

    2. Ad Astra*

      Have you tried applying for more senior positions at other organizations? Many, many people advance their careers that way. In fact, for a lot of people, getting a new position with a new company is the only way to get a raise. I wouldn’t expect someone with 9 years’ experience to start at entry level just because they changed companies.

        1. Bea W*

          Same :-/ Especially at my current company where it’s impossible to get a promotion and the raises are less than the increase in COL.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        This is how I most recently advanced. I topped out in my department after 10 years and had to move to another to get the promotion I wanted. In my case, too many people in the old dept saw me as still junior despite my growth.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        Agreed. I’m not sure why you think you would need to start at the bottom again. Take a look at the types of positions you’ve been applying to internally, and start looking for similar positions externally.

    3. Jwal*

      I’m sorry to say but if your company won’t promote youafter nearly ten years (for whatever reason) then it seems unlikely that they’re going to. I would start looking elsewhere, if you can, and if an offer of a promotion magically appears when you tell them you’re leaving then you can decide at that point if you want to take it.

      good luck!

    4. Stephanie*

      It’s time to look elsewhere. You wouldn’t start over from the bottom! You have nearly a decade of experience at you current company. Try looking at other companies for the next rung up job wise.

    5. Mel in HR*

      I really think this is something you need to communicate better with your boss/hiring managers. Sit down with them and explain that you really want to advance your career and ask if they could develop a plan for you to do so. Most importantly, do this professionally and without crying.
      Having said all that, if you are not getting the response you are wanting (as in- they are not going to promote you) you need to decide if that is a deal breaker for you. If it truly is important to move up, then I would start applying to positions that fit what you are looking to do.

    6. Diddly*

      Please look outside the company they clearly don’t value you and it is affecting you a great deal. Perhaps you could also speak to a career counsellour or therapist about how you’re feeling.
      If you’re able to perhaps speak to a manager about the fact these new people who have been promoted are coming to you for advice and that you’re confused why you haven’t progressed and ask if there is anything that’s holding you back? (Once you’re able to speak about it or if you can.)
      Also please make sure you’re doing something enjoyable after work/have fun hobbies/people to meet and see, so that work isn’t everything. Can you take a big chunk of vacation time to feel better? Take a spa-day? Or just take some time for yourself and what you enjoy?
      Also you should definitely not start on the bottom rung at another company, you’ve got tonnes of experience.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Please look outside the company they clearly don’t value you and it is affecting you a great deal.

        I think you should immediately send out resumés. I have sometimes been amazed at what an ego boost it is to go and explain myself and my skills to a different potential employer. Even when I knew I didn’t want the job.

        And ditto on the idea of finding things outside that are fun and mentally enjoyable.

    7. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      And just on a self-care note: an unhealthy diet can feed the depression and insomnia. While you are taking the great advice above, I would simultaneously try to cut back on the soda and processed foods if you can. Be well!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is so true. Junk food will feed the crying jags and make them worse. It sounds like this job setting is really draining you, I think it would drain most people. It sounds very discouraging. Be sure to build things into your personal life that build you up in some manner. Never stop setting personal goals, and working toward them. This is different than setting career goals- I am talking about just goals for your own self. Keep the goals simple and keep them doable- so that you actually see progress in some part of your life.

    8. Alma*

      I’m going to emphasize the benefit of getting yourself in a strong emotional and physical mindset to 1) endure the time in the present, and while you pursue advancement or other positions, and 2) can self-assess and self-promote with confidence, and most especially 3) present well (the not breaking into tears thing – none of us want to do that, and it IMHO tells me you are really hurting).

      Start with the EAP at your company. They usually have short-term referral to a counselor (maybe four visits), and while you meet with the counselor you can evaluate your need for additional meetings with another counselor, and discuss what you might focus on, as well as counselors the EAP counselor might think you would work well with. It also gives you someone to “sound things out” with. It is important to have someone objective who can talk with you about depression – and if you are experiencing situational depression (IANAD!) what your options might be to get you through this rough time. (Sometimes for me, just knowing I have an appt with my counselor in one or two weeks is enough to look forward to, and I continue my figurative list of what I will address at that session.)

      Do you have an activity that completely takes your mind off work? I work on the Sunday crossword puzzle (well, yes, in ink…) all week, right before I turn the light out for bed. It breaks the cycle of the day for me, and signals bedtime. And I sleep well.

      Please post an update – I’m sending all the best your way.

      1. Alma*

        In paragraph 1, I mean “pre-SENT” well. Show your best side, your skills, your “plays well with others” stuff. This is for the current job, and any options you explore as well. It is also for yourself. I don’t remember who said it, but while they were feeling miserable (and broke) they went out and bought a high-end tube of lipstick. That tube of lipstick, she said, made her feel like a million dollars. She wore it on interviews. She wore it “just because.” She couldn’t help but smile at herself in the mirror when she saw what a kick-@$$ color it was – and that made her smile more all the time. You know, “you’re worth it.”

    9. fposte*

      As a somewhat change-averse person myself, I think you’re seeing the problems of change-aversion here. They’ve been sending you pretty clear messages about where you stand in the organization, and most people would have left years ago as a result. You’re staying because you’d rather cling to the teeny and likely misguided hope that they will one day promote you than deal with a job hunt. Yes, job-hunting sucks, and change is work. But looking for a new job is not worse than where you are. And no, they’re not going make you start back at entry level, but even if they did, you could probably climb faster from entry level at a place that’s willing to promote you than from the job you’re in now.

      You’ve been there nine years. Nothing’s changed. Is changing jobs worse than being there twenty years, thirty years, forty years with nothing changing? Go find somebody who values you. You can do this.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Change aversion- good point. I don’t mind change myself, but when I am in a sucky situation it is the hardest thing in the world to find the energy or mindset to work on making that switch. Take baby steps, but do some little things frequently. Here it is cumulative, you take a number of little steps and see where that puts you in a week or in a month. Don’t try to eat an elephant in one meal. Annnnd don’t let yourself fall into isolation. Find one or two trust worthy people who you respect (notice: you must think highly of these people) and chat with them. Find out their thoughts on things, find out what new is happening around you that might be interesting, etc.

    10. JenGray*

      Look outside your company and you will be 100 times happier. That is what I did when my last job wouldn’t promote me or would only offer me lateral moves that came with pay decreases. I know it sucks because you have put so much of your life into the job and done a good job but sometimes you are the victim of your own sucess. At least you will have a good reference when you leave.

  8. Oryx*


    I’ve been looking to leave my current position for over 2 years and I’m super, super excited for my new job. It’s still in my field but in a completely different capacity so there will be challenges, but I’m ready to take the leap. I actually interviewed with them about eight years ago, right out of grad school, and now I’m joining the team. Everyone at AAM, both Alison and all the advice from the comments section, was a big help in getting me here. I start the 20th and I can’t wait!!

  9. Alter_ego*

    I’m curious how annoyed people think I have a right to be about this. We work late at my job a lot. If we’re there later than 6, and going to be staying for another few hours, we’re allowed to order dinner and expense it, which is an awesome perk. We typically all order our own dish from a place that has pretty big portions. So you’ll get a calzone, or steak tips, or ravioli, and only be able to eat half because of how much food it is. So, fine, you toss it in the fridge to eat the next day for lunch.

    But we have one coworker who insists that since the company paid for the food, it belongs to all the employees, and he’ll eat your leftover ravioli or whatever for breakfast. Basically any takeout box he sees from the place we normally order from is considered fair game. This means if you didn’t bring a lunch because you were planning on eating your leftovers, you now have to go buy one. We’ve told him repeatedly to stop, but it’s obviously had no effect, as he thinks he’s in the right. This is obnoxious, right?

    1. Elkay*

      Yep, obnoxious. Just because it belongs to the company doesn’t mean it belongs to him.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      He’s a jerk.
      But you could always put the food in a different box than the takeout one.

    3. Turanga Leela*

      Totally obnoxious. The company bought the food, but the company bought it for YOU, the person who was working late. Your coworker doesn’t have the right to steal your office supplies, right?

    4. Ad Astra*

      Does that mean he’d feel entitled to your leftovers if you were traveling for work and didn’t finish the meal you bought with your per diem? (Ew, I just realized the answer is probably yes.)

      This is a little bit gross and a lotta bit obnoxious.

    5. AnotherFed*

      That’s really irritating. Time to invest in one of the locking fridge boxes featured in a post earlier this week! “Perfect for protecting your food from Refridge-A-Raiders!”

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      That is unbelievably rude, obnoxious, and clueless. If it was me I’d liberally douse my next bunch of leftovers with Tobasco or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and leave it in the fridge for him.

    7. A Dispatcher*

      Whaaaaaaaat? Okay first of all, who eats other people’s leftovers?! (I say this as someone who has had my leftovers stolen out of the work fridge as well and I always vacillate between being pissed and grossed out).

      But as to your actual question, is it weird I almost see where he’s coming from? Almost. Not defending it, but if they’d ordered a bunch of pizza and there was plenty leftover, that would probably be fair game. As is stuff like leftovers from conferences and lunch meetings normally. He’s taking it to a crazy extreme though.

    8. Anoners*

      I do not see the appeal of eating someone else’s leftover food! It actually grosses me out. Why people do this is beyond me (and they’re eating that kind of food for breakfast? extra gross). You work with monsters.

      1. Arjay*

        “You work with monsters” should become another of Alison’s go-to phrases. So succinct, I love it.

        1. Anoners*

          Haha. I give AAM permission to use it as needed. It really captures the essence of so many people in the working world.

    9. Malissa*

      I would write on my leftover box. “I licked it.” But I’m mean. Otherwise it might not be a bad idea to keep Tupperware to transfers the left overs into to disguise them.

      1. Kat*

        Back when I was a teenager, I had some crispito things from taco bell that I brought home. The deep fried flour tortillas covered in cinnamon and sugar. (This was before they switched to the swirly things they have.)

        I had licked the cinnamon and sugar off of each one and had left them in the bag on the kitchen counter. My dad came home from work and saw them. He ate them. Later he made a comment about them not having much cinnamon or sugar on them. I told him it was because I had already licked it off.

        He turned green lol. He always asked first before eating any leftovers after that lol.

        1. cardiganed librarian*

          Haha! That could so easily happen with my father and I. I’m the only child, a girl, so he seems to think that as the man he automatically gets the lion’s share of all leftovers. The best is that it was completely unintentional.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I wouldn’t do that even–he’d probably go into the containers or even take them. Nobody messes with MY Tupperware.
        I’d just take the leftovers home with me and bring them back the next day in my lunchbox.

    10. Ally*

      Uhh WHAT? This is so incredibly rude.

      I can not believe someone would not only do this, but continue to do it after you’ve all asked him to stop. I’d be super annoyed too.

    11. Mel in HR*

      The company paid for YOU to eat it, not the coworker. This is about as normal as the boss that was eating the employee’s lunch. I would handle it similar to that post, or simply take the left overs home with you and return the next day with it in a different container. Or that whole locked lunch box deal since this guy feel entitled to mooch like that.

    12. super anon*

      Ew! That’s obnoxious and disgusting. Who eats someone else’s left overs, especially at work?! (The exceptions to this being stuff like those little sandwich platters that are left over from meetings)

    13. Persephone Mulberry*

      What?! That guys is nuts.

      That said, if you’ve told him to knock it off and he won’t, you either need to have your boss tell him to knock it off, or start taking your leftovers home at the end of the night and bringing it back the next day in your own container.

    14. Diddly*

      Very obnoxious. Can you take it home with you and bring it in the next day or just eat the rest at home when you want? It’s a perk because you worked late – he didn’t so doesn’t get to have the food – simple. Can a manager tell him that? If he worked late, orders and expenses it himself – he can eat the food, if he has done none of those things then it’s not his food.
      Not sure how you deal with idiots like that. Be mean and leave something nasty as the leftovers for his breakfast? Or create ridiculous little boxes with locks to keep your food in…

    15. Hermoine Granger*

      Eww, that’s so nasty. Leftover pizza or sandwiches left in the break room that everyone has been invited to eat is one thing. A half eaten calzone or anything someone might have bitten / put a fork in should be off limits. Honestly, unless it was offered or food left in a particular spot is up for grabs, it’s not yours to eat.

      Why would you want eat a coworker’s leftovers? That’s disgusting.

    16. Melissa*

      I totally disagree with him – just because the company paid for the food doesn’t mean it belongs to all the employees. The company pays for a lot of things that don’t belong to all the employees; just because the company gives you a paycheck doesn’t mean he’s entitled to it, right? I see it as part of your compensation, a perk. He’s being obnoxious and trying to justify it.

      That doesn’t mean he’ll stop, though, so folks should probably take their dinner home with them and bring it back the next day if they want to eat it for lunch.

      1. cardiganed librarian*

        Yes. What if you were extra hungry one night and did eat the entire meal? Does he think you would pay the company back for 50%?

    17. Anx*

      And just why does he assume he gets to be the one to eat it even if it is communal food at that point?

    18. TootsNYC*

      I am the manager who authorizes that sort of supper. If you told me he was doing this, I’d pin his ears to his head.

      I buy a slightly splurgy dinner for you because it’s part of how I treat you well. I buy you a fancy dinner, and lunch the next day, because I consider it part of my compensation TO YOU for working late.

      I compensated him with his own meal. Or, I didn’t compensate him, because he didn’t work late!

      If I found out someone who worked for me was in your position, I’d be saying, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Please tell me right away on this stuff.”

    19. Jo*

      That’s obnoxious and disgusting. The way I look at it if the company is paying for 5 employees meals and then he eats the 4 others leftovers, then that means he’s getting 5 meals (his meal+ the 4 leftovers) whereas everyone else is getting one. So if each meal costs $10 and all 4 of you only eat half, then that means the company is spending $30 on him ($10 for his meal + $20 for him to eat leftovers – estimated $5/half meal) and $10 on everyone else. (Note: I’m totally making up all these numbers & it’s assuming that all the meals are relatively the same cost. regardless of the monetary value, it’s not cool that he’s doing that)

    20. Not So NewReader*

      This guy is clueless.

      Does he bring a lunch in case there isn’t any leftovers? I would tell him that he has to give me his lunch since he took my lunch. Of course, I would not actually eat his lunch, ha!

      However, how about taking your lunch home with you? Or keeping in an insulated bag at your desk?

      You could just tack a note on it and say, “Norman, this is NOT your food. Do not take this food.” Then see what happens.

    21. catsAreCool*

      This co-worker is a jerk. The company bought the food to reward people who worked late – therefore the individual leftovers belong to the person who didn’t finish them the night before.

    22. TootsNYC*

      Oh–here’s another point.

      He’s eating it for lunch the next day, right? So–the company didn’t want to buy his lunch that day, he’s supposed to be getting his own lunch.

      Therefore, even if a person *did* accept his “it belongs to the company” theory (sort of like, oh, staples or photocopies), then he’s in the wrong, because he’s “using it for personal” (sort of like, oh, stapling a bunch of photocopies for his personal club or some other non-business activity).

  10. Cambridge Comma*

    Randomly and misguidedly. No regrets, but if I had to do it again I would wait a few years and work before studying, and find out a bit more about my work preferences.

  11. Eva G.*

    Are there any other redditors among the AAM readers? Does anyone want to defend the recent behavior by reddit management?

    For those not in the know, reddit is currently undergoing a partial (and huge) blackout, with many moderators of popular subreddits temporarily shutting down their subreddits to protest the way a recent firing of an employee was handled. The employee in question, Victoria, took care of many of reddit’s so-called AMAs (“Ask Me Anything”, in which a noteworthy person answers questions from redditors) and when she was suddenly gone without warning, subreddits were left scrambling to figure out how to handle their scheduled AMAs without her assistance. The fact that Victoria was popular and that the reason for her firing is unknown has contributed to the ire. As of this writing, it is not known why Victoria was fired, but the way the whole thing has been handled seems highly unprofessional to me.

    1. OfficePrincess*

      Yikes. I could see postponing scheduled AMAs until a plan could be figured out, but this just sounds too much like taking your toys and going home. Are the moderators paid employees or volunteers? It’s not normal for the reason for a person’s firing to be shared with others, and neither is refusing to work because someone else got fired.

      1. Eva G.*

        Moderators are all volunteers.

        It seems like the firing itself is not the main issue (even though she was popular, people get that a sudden firing can be warranted in egregious cases) so much as the incompetence displayed by the admins who seem to have thought firing this employee would be no big deal when in fact it left moderators scrambling to handle their scheduled AMAs. And it’s part of a larger pattern of moderator frustration with the admins. I will post a separate comment with a link to a post explaining this larger pattern.

    2. KSM*

      So I’d be more sympathetic to Reddit if not for the fact that the only official Reddit app on Android is the AMA app. You made an *entire app* for this feature/sub, fired your point person on it, and apparently didn’t know enough to immediately transfer her responsibilities and set up a transition team. Meanwhile, celebrities who were scheduled are furious (apparently one flew out to NYC to do an AMA with Victoria, and is now right out of luck), the community is furious (she was apparently the only responsive admin; this is the cause of 90%+ of the blackouts), and you broke a few very popular subs so badly that they shut down just to figure out next steps (the cause of the IAMA, history, science, etc. blackouts, as they literally can only contact scheduled celebs via Victoria).

      So, so badly mishandled. The only explanation I have is they just radically undervalued her (not necessarily the reason for the firing) and did not understand how key she was to their most heavily-promoted feature.

      FWIW, I was very pro-banning the harassing subs and there is a heavy layer of vitriol about that, and Ellen Pao’s mere existence, to the blackouts that makes me deeply uncomfortable.

      1. Eva G.*

        I think you’re right that they radically undervalued her.

        FWIW, I was pro-banning the harassment subs too, *but* I think they should have communicated with the moderators of those subs to warn them that failing to contain activity within the subreddit would result in a ban. The moderators claim they never heard anything at all from admins (and that their own attempts to communicate with admins were all ignored), which I think reflects poorly on the admins. No matter how despicable those subs were, I believe that on principle they deserved warnings prior to being banned, similar to how even the poorest-performing employee deserves to be warned that failure to improve her performance will result in her being fired.

        1. KSM*

          I’m not sure I agree with that — I hold a different standard for forum users versus employees, and since I was a small forum admin, I know that warnings and the like don’t usually do much except extend the pain. Rip off the bandaid and ban ’em; the rules are clearly visible.

          1. Eva G.*

            Yes, I think there is room to disagree on this issue. I do think it is worth pointing out that to whatever extent harassing and brigading was actually going on, it had likely been going on for months before they chose to crack down on it. The biggest subreddit, FPH, was expecting the ban for at least a month before it happened (because they had heard through the grapevine that admins were ashamed of that subreddit being a part of reddit). Why not warn the moderators that they were in danger of being banned – or at least respond to messages sent from the moderators instead of ignoring them – during that time? Looking back on it now, it seems like part of a larger pattern of disdaining moderators and belittling their concerns. But as mentioned, I was for the ban too; I’m just a stickler for principle – and if the principle was to ban without warning then they went against THAT principle by not banning the subreddits much sooner! :)

    3. Colette*

      I know nothing about this specific situation, and it’s possible her firing was over something petty (or nothing at all), but it’s also possible it was over something serious (death threats, theft, fraud). I actually think that not explaining why she was fired is the right choice (would you want the reason you were fired to be all over the Internet?)

      It’s really common to not have an immediate action plan when someone leaves a job abruptly, so that’s not surprising.

      How would you have wanted them to handle it?

      1. Eva G.*

        I am suspending judgment on the firing itself, since we do not know the reason, although my faith in reddit management is so shaken (and my impression of Victoria is so positive) that I would not be at all surprised if the firing was unwarranted.

        But I definitely think the management should (a) have understood the impact that her immediate removal would have had on the scheduled AMAs and (b) have immediately communicated to the moderators what was going on and (c) have expressed their regret over the firing to demonstrate that they are in touch with their users and know how popular she was. As it happened, they waited many hours to even acknowledge that she was gone and were remarkably casual, even flippant, about it until sh*t really hit the fan when moderators started shutting down the big subreddits in protest.

        1. Can-Do*

          I also see a common thread in moderator comments that other Reddit employees are unreachable when there are issues that need addressing. Victoria was the only one who would assist them with problems on a timely basis. When your product’s success is so heavily dependent on user generated content and volunteers are moderating subreddits with hundreds of thousands subscribers, you should be at their beck and call.

          One person told the story of getting fed up with beta version of their app (which has since been discontinued) that he (a well known contributor and moderator) and a few others wrote code to fix it and offered it to the company free of charge. Their emails didn’t get a single response.

          If I had been enduring that for years and then saw the only responsive employee get fired, I’d be fed up too.

          1. Eva G.*

            Oh wow, I didn’t know that story about the fix offered free of charge. Wow. The management really needs to work on their attitude problem.

            1. Can-Do*

              Yeah, and that’s just the user facing app. Moderators also have special tools they use to moderate subs and had to build their own extension code to make the tools work. There is some discussion among the moderators as to how long they should keep subs private, with some saying they will only open up again once reddit shows some committment to fixing those tools. We’ll see what happens!

              1. Eva G.*

                I hope the moderators do hold out for long enough to force some changes. Reddit has been such a great site and could be even better; it’s a pity that the management can’t seem to do better.

            2. De (Germany)*

              It’s often not that easy to just accept user code contributions. For some projects, you need all contributors to have signed documents, for example.

              1. Colette*

                And you need to integrate it with your existing code, make sure it doesn’t break anything, document it, and maintain it.

    4. Jen RO*

      I’ve been following the drama all day, with metaphorical popcorn.

      My understanding is that Victoria’s firing was the spark, but the subreddits are going private to protest the lack of responsiveness of the admins and the inadequate tools offered to mods.

        1. Eva G.*

          Oh wow again.

          I would pay a lot of money for a sneak peek behind the scenes at reddit to find out what on earth is going on. I picture a lot of people who aren’t looking each other in the eye as they collectively avoid talking straight about the issues at hand.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There are also rumors that the reason for her firing was, basically, that she did her job with integrity — management wanted to let celebrities’ PR agents do AMAs on their behalf (posing as the celebrity) and she was staunchly opposed (and known for being really rigorous about getting proof that the celebrity was actually the celebrity and not their agent).

  12. Ali*

    Thanks to everyone who listened to my frustrations about my new job. I had on the job training last week, and the pharmacist who trained me said I did well, as did two of the other pharmacy techs in my home store. I also found out the reason why I trained in another store is bc that pharmacy is a lower volume one in terms of prescriptions produced, so it all is starting to make sense.

    I do have some more training classes to do but now that I have been on the job and worked a couple shifts, it feels better. I suppose I learn better hands on as opposed to just reading or sitting in a classroom.

    I also just had an interview for a full time job, but part of me thinks I could be fine doing my tech work and looking for a flexible second income like freelancing when I am not working at the pharmacy.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I also found out the reason why I trained in another store is bc that pharmacy is a lower volume one in terms of prescriptions produced, so it all is starting to make sense.

      I’m not surprised at all that they had a very good reason for wanting you to train in that particular store. They’ve done this before.

  13. AnotherFed*

    What do people think about the President’s changes to FLSA? For the support contractors I work with who might be affected (admins, drafters, techs), their hours are already capped at 35 or 40 except in special, pre-approved exceptions. The staffer/consultant types probably make more than the minimum, so I don’t think it would have any impact on them.

    When I worked in non-gov’t jobs, they pretty much never let anyone get into overtime because clients didn’t like being billed for it. They tended to have a few extra drafters/CAD monkeys and would send people home if there wasn’t work, which sucked if you were counting on getting a full paycheck that week. I could easily see those companies trying to expand that up into the junior engineer categories, but junior engineers probably have more options and wouldn’t take that kind of job for long.

    How do you all think this will play out at your jobs? Going to drive more positions to PT shift work to prevent OT, or going to get people pay raises? Would you rather have more free time and the same pay, or exempt hours but more pay?

    1. OfficePrincess*

      I’m in a private for-profit company. If I had it my way, I’d take the raise, though I don’t know what my company’s actual plan would be. I did the math the other day, and while it would be a little bit cheaper for my company to pay me OT based on my normal hours physically in the office (generally 45-50/week), it would be a huge PITA for all involved since I’m always on call and answering questions from home.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      From a management perspective, I freaked out a little bit until I went through our numbers. It might have a mild $ effect but not much, and, given that we’ve got a 40 hour a week culture (never relying on unpaid overtime or skirting ethics), I’ve come to the conclusion we’ll end up with a competitive advantage from the whole thing. If our competitors were relying on unpaid overtime from salaries now under the new threshold, we’ll end up ahead.

      I think the macro effect will be job creation.

      As a business person, I’m never happy or excited about things that will cause me More Paperwork or more rules and regulations to worry about, but as a person living in this country, I think this is good for everyone overall.

      1. abby*

        As a non-profit manager, I had a similar reaction initially. But I reviewed our numbers and see that we have only a few exempt employees whose salaries are less than the proposed threshold, and not by much. Because we do not regularly expect exempt employees to work more than 40 hours a week, we could convert them to non-exempt without much financial impact. However, because we are in California, which has an 8-hour per day limit before payment of overtime, converting exempt employees to non-exempt will have the unfortunate effect of eliminating a lot of flexibility.

    3. Mel in HR*

      Our company could never afford to raise the pay of our exempt employees, so all it will do is make it harder on us. Our exempt folks will no longer be exempt and will have to work less hours, but we can’t afford to hire anyone to help us complete our tasks either.

      1. Observer*

        It sounds like your company has depended on underpaying people and understaffing. People in the pay-grade under discussion should not need to work 45-50 hour weeks on a regular basis. If they are being required to do so, you don’t have adequate staffing. That’s not a sound way to run an organization.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, this. Exempt status wasn’t meant to squeeze unpaid overtime out of people. We need to realize that work should get done in a 40 hour work week (or even 35 hours, like a lot of other industrialized countries, who also require a minimum amount of leave), or else the company needs to hire more people. Cutting costs by making employees work ridiculous hours is like cutting costs by using substandard materials: sure, it make things cheaper, but it…makes things cheaper.

    4. BRR*

      I think it’s good because I don’t think that many positions are correctly classified as exempt at lower wages. At my organization some administrative assistants are exempt and earning high 30s or low 40s a year. To me that never seemed kosher.

      1. Ad Astra*

        WHAT THE WHAT. I’ve heard a tiny bit about these changes but assumed they didn’t affect me until I saw you talking about high 30s/low 40s. I didn’t realize the proposal would change the threshold to about $50K. (!!!)

        In my first exempt job, I made about $36K in a surprisingly high COL city and I always resented working 50 hours a week and still struggling to keep a roof over my head. Overtime pay would have made a world of difference to me in that position. Now I make $36,500 in a much lower COL city and I never work more than 40 hours.

        I assume both of my exempt jobs would cap my hours at 40 a week if these changes go through. These days, I’d rather have the time than the money. A year ago, I’d say the opposite.

      2. AnotherFed*

        Yeah, there do seem to be a lot of admin and technical editor positions that don’t really sound like they have the management/decision-making functions to really count as exempt. It wasn’t until I started reading all of Alison’s “is this legal?” responses before I understood the difference well enough to realize that, so I could easily see many other people not even knowing there was an issue with their job classification.

    5. Student*

      I think it’s a good way to try to re-normalize the 40-hour work week. Paying people for a 40-hour week and expecting more, sometimes much more, is a bad thing for the overall economy and the employees. Those people could be doing other things with their time – be it taking care of themselves and their families, working on side projects/businesses, volunteering, or taking part time jobs that will actually pay them for those extra hours.

      If there’s no serious enforcement, then the change is really just likely to result in a lot of companies ignoring the law. There’s already an epidemic of companies flouting current employment law with little to no consequences.

      I expect most companies will react by scheduling so that there’s no overtime pay, to start with. Small companies probably won’t have nearly as much pain through this adjustment process as big companies. If you have a handful of people who are no longer working at ~110%, then maybe you can still trim out 10% you don’t need to maintain the status quo. If you have ~50 people who are all no longer working at 110%, then it’s probably going to mean you need to hire several more people, make large-scale changes, or pay a lot of overtime.

      1. Anx*

        I was going to make a point about the fact that I have a hard time wrapping my head around this issue. I’ve never worked a job with overtime. By and large, my problem has always been about getting enough hours. Wage increases and benefits would be nice, but I struggle mostly because I can’t break out of part-time work.

        From my perspective, I’d almost rather be unemployed than be the float they call to avoid paying overtime wages. I think it’s great normalize a 40 hour work week, but I’d much rather be stuck working 60 at a certain wage than 20 at a certain wage (or even a higher wage). I just hope that in normalizing a not-more-than-40-hour-week we don’t keep normalizing part-time, per diem, contingency work.

        1. Observer*

          Unfortunately, your problem is not uncommon. Fortunately, there seems to be a push to change it, at least somewhat. So much so that some companies are talking about making some voluntary changes. Walmart, for instance is talking about changing the way they schedule hourly store workers to give them more consistent schedules. And on the other side, the Walmart unionizers are pushing for more consistent schedules and more full time jobs. Starbucks is also taking baby steps, after some really negative publicity.

          Best of luck in improving your situation!

      2. TootsNYC*

        Paying people for a 40-hour week and expecting more, sometimes much more, is a bad thing for the overall economy and the employees.

        It’s bad for the company as well, truly. They may think they’re coming out ahead, but they’re not. They’re fueling so much waste.

    6. manomanon*

      I think it’s fantastic. But, that comes from the view of having been wrongly classified (ahh hindsight) and being expected to work 55-60 hours a week at a nonprofit that was already underpaying people. I would have taken either version of the obvious outcomes, working less for the same money or taking the raise to be just above the threshold (which would have been about $20,000 per year) and continuing to work the crazy hours.

      1. zora*

        Seriously, I’m right there with you. I was getting $34k as a Program Director working many 60-hour+ weeks per year. The change this would have meant for me is almost blowing my mind.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      I read a few days ago that it will just take it back to near where it was a decade or two ago. In other words, this used to be normal, but the cap didn’t move as minimum wages increased. He’s just moving the cap back to near where it used to be.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        That’s true (although I think it’s more a couple decades back) but the impact to many businesses is ginaormous. The proposal is a big leap.

        As I say up thread, I’m personally in favor of this and minimally impacted but the impact can’t be glossed over.

        We’re in a relatively high COL area so anybody I am counting on as exempt is either over the threshold or so very close it’s a small amount of money to adjust.

        If I was running the same op in a low COL area, I’d have way more headaches. The headache I would dread the most is telling people that they can’t voluntarily finish their work, catch up on the weekends, respond to emails, etc. People hate to be told that.

        1. AnotherFed*

          That last bit is a really good point – the people I usually want to hire and keep are go-getters, who will take the extra 30 minutes to go from good to great, and telling them not to be overachievers would be very hard as a manager!

        2. GreatLakesGal*

          No, they don’t.

          I thank heaven every day that , despite my fairly good wage, my company considers anyone who is not actually a manager as non-exempt.

          I am beyond thankful that I never, ever, ever need to answer an email about work when I am not there.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I think that’s great.

            My experience though, has been with a not a small amount of push back from some people.

            A woman who was on my direct report team practically cried when I told her that she could not answer any emails outside of the office and I preferred that she removed work email from her phone, would you please. She felt that it made her second class to exempt staff that was allowed to answer email outside of work. We went round a few times with me, as kindly as possible, explaining to her that she was non-exempt and could not work more than her 37.5 hours, period. She was very frustrated and kept saying “but I’m salaried!” and “it’s not like I’m going to say anything, who will know”, etc. I had to be very firm and she walked away not happy.

            Several non-exempt people became agitated when we enforced the 37.5 you are out the door rule. They’d been used to sneaking in an extra half hour or so to wrap up whatever was on their desks. Same conversation, same frustration, although less the second class part and more the “I want to do this, I need to do this, don’t stop me from doing this, how stupid is that” part.

            Having to have that conversation with people who previously considered themselves management or currently are considered management, I wouldn’t look forward to that.

            1. AnotherFed*

              As one of those types, I can see that being an issue, and even more of an issue if the new threshold falls in between levels of people who have to work together on projects. If more senior people are allowed to work the extra few hours a week and respond to emails outside of normal hours, non-exempt people may have some heartburn and discontent, especially if they are concerned about not looking as responsive, not being able to meet deadlines as well, and not having quite as polished an output as the exempt people they work with. It’s bad enough to have to hand over something you think needs just a little more work, it’d be even worse to have to hand it over knowing that Joe gets that extra time if he wants it.

    8. Lionness*

      I don’t find it at all a coincidence that my raise was announced shortly after the President’s announcement and it took me to just over what the new minimum would be.

      I mean, I’m not complaining. I rarely work more than 45 hours a week and I feel fairly compensated for the work I do…but it just made me roll my eyes.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        People will absolutely be adjusting up all around. Adjusting up isn’t just saving OT, it’s saving headaches, regulations, worries about lawsuits and record keeping. If an exempt employee is within a few thousand of the floor, raises all around.

        1. Lionness*

          Exactly. And no one at my company is complaining. I work so little OT that I am coming out even, either way, if not a little ahead.

          I think where this will see big impact is in places like large call centers were Customer Service supervisors are often classified as exempt and earn around $30,000 a year but work 50-60 hours. That isn’t right and it should be fixed.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Yeah, you might see a trend back to offshoring in that sector, depending on how the math shakes out.

            The other option (picture me as Snively Whiplash, twirling my mustache as I write this) is adjusting people’s base pay down so that their net pay with OT comes out about the way it was before.

            Base pay downgrade is another possible effect.

            1. Lionness*

              That is a legitimate possibility with sucky companies. I really wish more companies would just treat their employees like humans with value. I work hard and put a lot of effort into the work I do for my company. And in return, I ask to be fairly compensated. If the roles were reversed (I did crapass work and demanded high pay) I doubt they would stand for it, but they expect it the other way around. Unreal.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                The thing is, if they do choose to downgrade pay, at least it is transparent. Participating in AAM has been eye opening for me. I was blissfully unaware (mostly) of the abuses of people’s time in many companies. Sure, I knew that if you worked at Walmart and were made assistant manager at $17 an hour, they squeezed 60 hours out of you, but I didn’t realize that so many places of business had this as the new normal.

                So, even if they downgrade pay in order to net out the same, at least the rate of pay/expectations will be transparent when you take the the job. And then employers can compete in the marketplace on a real dollars paid, not with salary and extra hour gotchas.

          2. AnotherFed*

            On the call center and retail management ‘supervisor’ roles that are going from exempt to non-exempt – what’s the likelihood that they push that into shift work, too? Wal-mart has a terrible reputation for keeping as many people PT as they can, so my first thought was that they’d replace the 1 salaried manager with 2 PT people they don’t have to offer benefits to, but that might be my anti-Wal-mart brainwashing kicking in…

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              I’d argue that at some point, if they tried that, Walmart would run out of available workers in many locales. There’s not an endless supply of reliable people who will work PT for a relatively low wage and no benefits.

              Not they wouldn’t try.

              1. AnotherFed*

                I’m pretty sure our Wal-mart deliberately hires the slowest, most un-motivated people they can find, but there always seem to be plenty of them there… Of course, if I were making minimum wage to put up with the things you see on People of Walmart, then I would likely become sloth-slow and utterly unmotivated!

    9. JMW*

      This will be problematic for us. We are in an economy where salaries in the 40s are quite common, so many of our employees will switch to hourly under the new plan. How it will affect us:

      — The 50K threshold is high for this part of the country. Cost of living here is lower than most parts of the country.
      — We have a number of exempt employees in the 40Ks who will have to switch to hourly, which they will perceive as a demotion. It will create a divide between the above 50K staffers and the below 50K staffers.
      — Most of our exempt employees have a 38-hour week so that once a month they will work an additional weekend day, balancing out to 40-hours per week over the course of the month. This will require a complete overhaul of our scheduling. We are open 7 days a week in two locations, so this is really difficult.
      — As exempt employees switch to hourly, they will have to be clockwatchers. They will not like this. It will necessitate creating a lot of rules about people’s responsibility to make sure they do not work overtime, because we are a government agency, and paying overtime is not considered a good use of taxpayer money.
      — We cannot afford to take all salaries over $50K. There are many perks with this job that are part of compensation, one of which is a degree of scheduling flexibility which will completely go away with clockwatching.

      One of the repercussions of this rule at some organizations (not ours) is that companies will hire more part-time people in order to not have employees bumping up against the overtime barrier.

      I am not against a change, but I think the threshold needs to take local economy into account.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I was shocked the number came in so high (see post above re freak out). That is such a massive leap for businesses to deal with, and in all parts of the country.

        Once I figured out we were pretty much okay, of course I calmed down. ;) I went through all the mental calculations you’re faced with now, though, before I did.

        IDK how I feel about it not being COL adjusted. Honestly, that works in my favor for like once in my life. Our major online competitors are located in much lower COL areas so I’ve got a little “so there! take that! suck it! even the playing field a little, punks! ” feeling about the non COL adjustment.

        For not-my-competitor, you have my sympathy. It’s a struggle now telling non-exempt people what they aren’t allowed to do which includes working past time ever, unless there is specific OT offered, or having work email on their smart phones. They are not happy that they can’t just catch up or answer a few emails off time.

      2. Greggles*

        I agree. I think something else that’s going to come into play is butt in seat time. Right now there are a lot of people that maybe work 45 hours but 5 hours are at home maybe answering emails, or doing various things or answering urgent emails. I can see that going away for non exempt employees, or they will have to come into the office for those things.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I think the real benefit we’ll see is to the people who have been misclassified and taken advantage of like retail assistant managers worked 60 hours but paid $30,000 a year.

          I think people in the $40k to $45k range who are used to a bit more freedom, but don’t feel taken advantage of, may get a pinch from this in terms of restrictions.

          The thing I don’t think will happen is tons more overtime being paid. I don’t think this will raise people’s incomes (via OT). I think it will reduce the time they need to work and might create more part time or full time jobs but I don’t think there people pounding calculators figuring out how to budget for a lot of time and a half.

          1. Elsajeni*

            I think people in the $40k to $45k range who are used to a bit more freedom, but don’t feel taken advantage of, may get a pinch from this in terms of restrictions.

            I’m in that range, and that’s exactly what I’m thinking. I virtually never work a meaningful amount of overtime — I doubt I’ve ever worked more than 45 hours in a week, and even that much would be rare — but I check my email on evenings and weekends, I occasionally log in and deal with a problem from home, and I value having the flexibility to keep working until I get to a stopping point without worrying about whether it’ll put me over some time threshold. (And of course, in exchange I get a little more flexibility in the ways that benefit me — come in late, leave early, easily work from home if I need to, etc.) I think all of that will become a bigger pain in the neck, or be disallowed entirely, if I become non-exempt, and I don’t think I’ll derive any real benefit from it in exchange. I’m not going to raise a big fuss about it — I think the change is good for more people than it’s bad for. But I’m a little bummed to be in the group it’s (slightly) bad for.

          2. Greggles*

            I agree with this as a former food service manager. The downside of this is you will have people that used to have steady income become shift workers. I used to work 55 hours as an assistant for 35K. As an hourly manager though I was making 9 bucks per hour and subject to getting my hours cut. Never knew if I was going to have 80 hours or 60 hours.

      3. Observer*

        , because we are a government agency, and paying overtime is not considered a good use of taxpayer money.

        This is one of my pet peeves. The obsession with overtime pay in government and in the non-profit sector where similar standards are maintained makes me nuts. Overtimes is NOT always the result of poor management. And, not surprisingly, the blanket proscription against overtime takes no account of circumstances and actually costs many in many circumstances.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, we had that issue at FirstJob, which was a government agency with a giant backlog. (We were mostly fee-funded anyway, so I don’t think taxpayer waste was the issue.) Junior employees in my role (GS-5 and GS-7 level) weren’t supposed to work overtime unless authorized. Problem was, we were so backlogged that pretty much everyone at that level worked unpaid overtime (we were exempt anyway) to meet quota. We did all kinds of weird things to hide it (not logging off computers, not sending emails outside our specific work time, etc). I accidentally sent an email outside business hours and got in trouble with my boss for it.

        2. JMW*

          We will pay overtime in a pinch, as emergency situation do occasionally arise. But we are not an emergency-prone business, so generally overtime IS the result of poor management.

          1. Observer*

            Even that’s not always true. Many jobs don’t fit neatly into 40 hours per week, even though the people doing them are not, and should not, be classified as exempt. For instance, the extra weekend day that you describe is not always a matter of poor planning, but actually a sensible way to run a program. Eg Kitchen staff come in on the First Sunday of the month to do a thorough scrubdown of the kitchen, instead of doing it on a day when people need to be fed. It might mean a few hours of overtime, but it makes sense in terms of minimizing disruption (assuming the scrubdown is needed.)

            Sometimes is just a matter of what makes sense in terms of capacity. For instance, you have someone to do data entry. The necessary amount of data entry averages 40-42 hours a week. More often than not, the most cost effective thing is to pay the occasional (or even weekly) overtime hour.

            Obviously, many cases good management can avoid over-time in a cost effective manner. But the line “overtime is not a good use of taxpayer money” is simply so over-broad as to be wildly out of sync with reality. As you describe it in your agency, it sounds more like a knee jerk reaction or a symptom of previously poor management, than a reflection of the needs of your program.

      4. Observer*

        There are many perks with this job that are part of compensation, one of which is a degree of scheduling flexibility which will completely go away with clockwatching.

        Why? We have more than one non-exempt person in our organization that is able to make good use of a fair amount of schedule flexibility. In most of our positions, the limiting factor is not exempt vs non, but coverage needs and the specifics of the job.

        1. JMW*

          The flexibility has to do with working more hours one week and less the next. If they want to be paid for 40 hours each week, that’s exactly how many they will need to put in. They will not have the flexibility of putting in a long day to finish a project that they are into unless we can afford for them to be out of the office on another day in that workweek, and that is something that has to be coordinated with others since much of our work is public-facing. They will not have the ability to take as long as they want on a pet project because they will not be allowed to work more than 40 hours. They will not have the ability to catch up on emails at home on the weekend or at night. Oftentimes the workweek is 42 hours because 2 hours or more is spent fluffing around. They will not be able to fluff around and still get the work done in the 40 hour limit.

        2. abby*

          Not the original commenter, but I can answer from our perspective. Our organization is located in California, which requires payment of overtime after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours a week. I cannot ask an employee to work 10 hours one day and 6 hours the next to meet business needs without paying overtime, even if the total for the week is 40 hour or less.

          1. Observer*

            I supposed I should have included the caveat “Unless you’re in California”.

          2. SpottedTheUnicorn*

            Actually, you could, if you invoke Makeup Time, but that has to be planned ahead of time, not just as “Oh, you worked 10 hours today, here fill out this Makeup Time form and just work 6 hours tomorrow.” And Makeup Time requests are supposed to originate from the employee, not the employer; however, you may have responsible nonexempt staff who would appreciate knowing about this.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My very first thought was “Here’s a group of people who have never worked in the retail sector. They are unaware of all the games that are played.” I fully expect to see people suffering from crushing levels of expectations as they try to pack 60 hours of work into a 40 hour week, because companies have done nothing to lighten their load. I know of places where 6o hour work weeks are not enough time to get done routine, weekly work. I cannot imagine what will happen when that person is adjusted to 40 hours per week.
      I am in favor of protecting employees in this manner but I think that TPTB will find that it does not protect people as much as they thought it would.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Such a naive question I am about to ask.

        Given that you can’t get blood from a stone or bend the time space continuum, what would management’s plan for 60 hours into 40 hours possibly be?

        Do you think that they’d plan to pressure so much people would sneak extra work in? (That’s a pricey lawsuit when totaled up. )

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s not a formal plan. It more like a slow erosion/wearing down with insults/put downs/threats. And then when you do not get that work done, they give you more and write you up if you do not complete the additional work. Their final step is to just find another person to replace you. No they definitely do not plan to make people sneak in extra hours. It’s more like a totally disconnect where they tell you that you have to learn to work faster/smarter.
          Very few people sue or even consult a lawyer over this. There was one case recently in the news with Big Name Company. Even after the court coming down on the company, nothing has changed. Hourly workers are given salary pay and expected to work upwards of 24 hours per day on a random basis. If they do not do it, their job will go to someone who will. (In this case, we are talking about tens of thousand of employees.)

          It all boils down to people have to have jobs above all else. Not too many people are willing to put themselves out there like that.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I actually did work retail in 1978, I forgot. 1978 to 1979, it was a fair environment. I don’t know if all retail was fair at that time, but from what I’ve heard, it was a good era. There was a lot of emphasis on making sure you took your breaks and available OT. Maybe they worked the managers like dogs but I never heard anybody complain and people I worked with were happy.

            I follow what you are saying but the math HAS to give at some point. PTB in retail, under the new regs, would have to make a new plan re people accomplishing their jobs. What I’ve heard is that an expectation for lower management now is to drive from store to store. If you are spending 4 or 5 hours a day driving from store to store, you literally can’t be working at the stores at the same time. You can make an unrealistic plan via wishful thinking but you can’t make a physically impossible one.

            Because I am a geek and this new change fascinates me, I’ve run through scenarios for a bunch of different sectors and industries. Retail/fast food/casual dining is the area that I just plain cannot see how the hell they are going to implement this without coughing up a bunch more cash to workers. It’s also an area under a ton of under performing economic stress already, so, who knows what happens next. It’s possible for this change to accelerate a death spiral.

    11. NewDoc*

      I’m wondering how residency programs will handle this — mine pays $51000 but there are many many programs that are under the cap — I’d imagine increasing everyone to $50000 would be cheaper than overtime given residents work up to 80h/week…but that would mean getting the increased funding from Medicare…

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Woah, yeah, they are going to have to rebudget that whole affair. You can’t pay residents overtime.

        I wonder if the comment period is going to result in exemptions for certain sectors/jobs. Nobody can argue that residents shouldn’t make the $50k threshold, but squawk about the “additional cost added to the cost of healthcare” is a hot issue also.

        I wonder what they are going to do about commissioned outside sales people. Sales has always been exempt. There are plenty of people who make under $50k when they start out and you can’t put sales on an 8 hour a day clock. And you can’t pay OT.

        Glad that’s not my headache.

    12. soooo Anon*

      Looking at the published proposed changes, I think the DOL got this mostly right on target (and it is way overdue- currently there is such abuse of exempt status, and very little enforcement, combined with employees who have little understanding of the rules, and feel they have little power to fight it or question it.)

      But, and its a big but. I also think that for a large chunk of people, it will not really change anything. If you are a middle manager at a smallish to mid-size company (assumes a low to mid cost of living area) and making around $35 thousand for 45-50 hours per week, you will find yourself “converted” to an hourly rate that with overtime works out to the same dollars. And the employer will sell it as “no change.” The reality is that there is no way those employers can basically overnight give those employees a 17-20 thousand dollar per year raise, nor can they afford to hire the additional staff to pick up the slack for extra hours over 40 or to pay overtime at the “real” hourly rate they are now paying.

      I do hope though that it will start to re-set expectations and have some long term benefits. it will be easier to compare the real earnings of these types of positions, which is now obscured by wildly different expectations at different employers and remove the perceived “status” of being underpaid, but “exempt” from the equation.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I concur….mostly.

        $35,000 a year, divided by 52, divided by 40 is $16.83 an hour. If you counted on that person to work 60, it would cost you straight time for the first 40 and time and a half for the next 20. You have to go to $9.75 per hour as the base rate to get 60 hours of work from the same amount of money.

        Can you sell a management position at $9.75 an hour?

        The DOL is throwing a bees nest (big bees nest! BEEEES!) into business across the country. My personal belief is that it needed a giant bees nest thrown in so, eat popcorn and see what happens next, but just employers just adjusting rates isn’t going to do it.

        I think one of the side effects will be expecting that $35k a year person to be x% more effective and productive within 40-50 hours a week.

        A little part of me thinks this change is so gigantic, something will happen between comment period and implementation to adjust the threshold downward.

        1. soooo Anon*

          Yep, I am sure they will also be looking for “increased efficiency” but I think (and I don’t know, just guessing based on my midwest area and the norms here) that most of these positions are either in the retail sector, or positions that never should have been exempt in the first place.

          In retail, and I’m including fast food, grocery stores, etc in this market, the choice for the employees is pretty much to accept what they will give, go back to the non-management jobs, or look for another job. And here at least, it is still an employer’s market- jobs are not that easy to find. Unfortunately, they really do have lots of people who would take that job. So for the existing employee, the sell job is that the bottom line (take home pay and hours) stays the same… and I think in too many cases it will sell.

          I also agree that we will have to see what comes out the other end after the comments period, but even if they lower the initial amount, if the automatic increases are kept in I think it looks better for the future. The biggest issue is that it went for so long with no change, and here we are. And yes, popcorn :)

  14. Little Teapot*

    Hi Alison! Any word on when another resume review will come up? I would love to send mine to you!

      1. Pest Control - (Yes Anon)*

        Perfect timing. That’s when I plan on revving up my job search.

  15. Ann Furthermore*

    Happy Friday AAM hive mind!

    I need some advice about a conversation I need to have with my boss. Apologies for the long-winded post.

    I’m at the tail-end of a 15-month ERP implementation project. My company and the customer for this project are both subsidiaries of the same very large company. This is one of the most (if not the most) difficult, stressful, and frustrating projects I’ve ever worked on. Part of it is replacing a home-grown database that they’ve been using for many years. It was developed by the project’s IT focal on the customer side. She knows everything about it, inside and out, and it’s her baby. Now it’s being taken away from her, and this has made her extremely difficult to work with. As the project has progressed, she has become increasingly confrontational, defensive, and argumentative. She has alienated not just me, but several other people on the team. Last Friday, a co-worker and I ran into a problem with some conversion data, and tried to talk to her about it. Things got rather heated on a conference call, and she accused us of intentionally manipulating or excluding the data during the last round of testing, and saying that was the reason this problem was just being discovered now. We were able to show that she passed data differently in the final conversion file. So now we’re at the point where she’ll accuse us of lying, and question our integrity, before considering that there’s even the slightest possibility that something on her side could be causing the issue. I can’t remember the last time I was so livid. Over the weekend, she spent 3 hours arguing via email with one of our developers that an interface had missed 2 records, and then finally sent an email saying that she had filtered her data incorrectly, and the 2 records had not been missed after all. I have many examples of behavior like that.

    My boss is aware of the problems this person has caused for not just me, but many people on the team. When I’ve tried to talk to her about it she just says things like we need to maintain our professionalism and get the project across the finish line, and not get into finger-pointing. She’s right about that, and I agree with her. But here’s my problem: one of my challenges, that I’m aware of and really do try to work on, is that I can have a short fuse, and get impatient and annoyed with people. This is almost always a function of my stress level. When deadlines are looming and someone wants to, say, rehash something that was decided months ago, that has already been discussed over and over and over again, I have a hard time maintaining my composure. There is no time for that, we have passed the point where we can make changes, and we have to keep things moving forward.

    So here’s my question: when I have my next one-on-one with my boss, how can I get her to understand that I absolutely accept I’m not perfect, and I’m sure there are things I could have handled differently/better. But the behavior by this person on the customer side is just not acceptable. No one on our team should have to put up with being accused of lying. Questioning someone’s integrity before you will admit you made a mistake is way, way, WAY out of line. I’m concerned that my boss will brush it off by assuming, “Oh, we all know that Ann can be kind of a hothead,” and not really acknowledge that this other person has contributed to the problem too, and has damaged the relationship with not just me but pretty much the entire team. I do not think that I should be criticized for being angry about my integrity being questioned, when I’ve never done anything to warrant such a claim, and nothing will ever make me believe otherwise. How can I get my boss to understand just how big a deal this is to me? I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am an extremely honest person. So there really is very little more offensive, upsetting, and infuriating to me than being accused of lying.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I want her to not just brush this off and say this is just another example of me being a hothead. She’s an awesome manager, but sometimes I feel like she doesn’t totally get how difficult some internal customers are. Yes, we need to consider their needs and deliver systems that meet their requirements, but we shouldn’t have to put up with being treated this way as part of the bargain.

        1. Amtelope*

          Specifically, though: given that your boss can’t manage this person (because she doesn’t work for her, or even for your branch of the company, and she’s the customer in this situation), what action do you want her to take? Are you just looking for her to say “yes, you’re right, she’s awful and she shouldn’t behave this way”? That’s probably not worth pushing for. Do you want her to talk to this person’s boss about how her behavior is causing problems for your team? That may or may not work, and may not be worth it when the project is nearing the finish line.

          Sometimes you just have to deal with difficult clients being difficult. And the fact that this one works for another subsidiary of the same big company doesn’t necessarily mean your boss has any more control over her behavior than over any other client, unfortunately.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Ann, I’ve been on both sides of the desk for this one. I get 100% completely and totally what you are saying, I feel for you and, great job bringing the project home.

          I believe what your boss is doing is avoiding stoking the fires. You’re already pissed as hell, with good reason, but the part where you are pissed isn’t relevant to the overall completion just get this freaking thing done already done done done already task.

          When I’m on your side of the desk, what I want to hear back is outrage! that this Other Person could behave so badly and this will be addressed! and I completely mirror your feelings!

          When I’m on the other side of the desk what I want is my trusted team member to keep her feelings in check and focus on the end goal/prize and get us the hell out of this and onto the next thing. On the other side of the desk, my team doesn’t necessarily know about all of the other phone calls/communications/meetings that are making my life a living hell also. So please, let’s get this done and move on.

          Does that help at all? I want to be helpful. If you are feeling unsupported by your boss, you should say that directly to her and have the frank conversation. Maybe she will let her hair down a little in a way that makes you feel better/more supported.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            Well, when it’s all said and done, I don’t want this to be used as an example in my year-end review of how I need to be more patient with people. I do need to be more patient with people, and it’s something I work on. My boss actually commended me on my improvement in this area in my last review. But I think it’s unfair to use my dealings with this person as an example of that, after being accused of lying and all the rest of the crap I (and the rest of my co-workers) have been put through.

            I think she tends to oversimplify things here, and assumes that any problems I have with people (and really, there aren’t that many, even though I’m probably sounding like a complete harridan) are all on me, because I have struggled with this in the past. There are shades of gray, and I’d like her to acknowledge that.

            1. TootsNYC*

              I’m not sure that this is a fair thing for you to ask. This is a prime example of how *important* it is to be able to maintain your cool.

              So, maybe focus less on “being patient” with this annoying person, and more on “maintaining your own integrity and cool” with her. And focus on looking out for yourself, and acting in your own best interests, longterm and overall, instead of protecting yourself against someone who herself has not integrity.

              Maybe it will help you if you can get your boss to assure you that this woman’s accusations of lying, etc., etc., will not carry any weight with her. If you can feel you have your boss’s confidence, then it won’t matter so much to you what nonsense this woman spouts.

    1. Colette*

      Working with difficult clients is part of a lot of jobs, and I’m not sure what your boss could do here.

      What can you do?

      For example, when she brings up something that has already been decided, can you say “we’ve decided to go with A for this release, but if you believe B is a better approach, send me an email explaining why and we will consider it for the next release”?

      When she accuses you of lying, can you say to yourself “one of us is wrong, let me check my records”?

    2. Malissa*

      The time for this conversation was months ago. Ann has been handled wrong the entire time. But she is the customer and reluctant to give up her baby and change. At this point she’s feeling a whole lot steamrolled and not appreciated. That said I’m sure your boss, and pretty much everyone else, is taking what she says with a grain of salt. They know that most of what she’s saying is out of frustration, not truth.
      The best thing you can do at this point is let Ann speak her peace and acknowledge it then move on with, “I’m sorry but we decided this back in March and it’s too late to change now. Now let’s get back to X which is the next thing we need to conquer.
      In the future you should try to spot the Ann and make them an ally in the beginning.

    3. Observer*

      I’m going to mirror what the others have said and ask you what specifically do you want from your boss? Is it something she can even deliver? And if she could, would it really help?

      Some examples of what I mean:

      You want Ann to stop questioning your integrity. How is your boss supposed to make this happen?

      You want your boss to publicly and hotly defend you. Could that make things WORSE?

      You want your boss to shut these conversations down. Is this something your boss can actually do?

      You want your boss to acknowledge to you and the higher up that you are not the one at fault. Will this be of any use to you?

      If what you want is both doable and useful then ask for the specifically, rather than going on about how awful Ann is. So, for example, if you want your boss to make sure it’s clear to the bosses that you are not the one at fault you might say something like “I realize that you can’t control Ann. But, I think it’s important that you make it clear to xxx that Anne’s behavior was uncalled for and unjustified by either the history of this project or my history.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        You want your boss to shut these conversations down. Is this something your boss can actually do?

        Or, to be totally practical and proactive–is this something YOU can do? Maybe what you can get out of this is for your boss to authorize and back you up on a power switch.

        So YOU say to the client’s person: “That topic is closed. It was decided, months ago, there is not time, and we will not discuss it.” And then refuse to engage.

        Or, is that a specific something you can get from your boss? For her to take the question of reopening old issues to management for the client and get it shut down, and negotiate the transition in the balance of power, so that your company (meaning you and your partner) get to decide what conversations will go on.

        Or maybe another specific something your boss can do: When something like “reopening decisions made months ago and deeply implemented” comes you, you bounce it to her immediately, and then you get to mentally ignore it while *she* does all the emails back and forth (leaving you out) to shut the topic down.

        Or do you want her to give you permission to get snippy when someone accuses you of lying or doing something wrong? That’s not all that wise, to be honest.

    4. pony tailed wonder*

      There may be things that your boss is doing behind the scenes that you may not know about. If Ann is being this obvious about being a sub par worker, her own manager may be trying to work with her about it. You get to manage yourself in the office, not other co-workers from other departments. Your boss has heard what happened, why dredge it up again? If anything else happens, keep your boss in the loop.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Some anger can stem from the feeling of “I do not have the skill set in place to deal with this situation.” All of us hit this wall at some point, so don’t feel alone here. You are wise to work up a plan or two. That will help with your frustration level, definitely.

      One of the happy coincidences I have found is that once I hammer out a plan to handle a nasty remark, most times I do not hear the remark again. It’s like garlic/crosses/mirrors are to vampires, having a plan seems to help ward off nasty comments.

      I think the number one thing I would do is tell the boss that I was being subjected to verbal insults from a customer. Then ask him how he wants me to handle it. Be prepared to hear, “suck it up and get over it” this is your worst case scenario answer. At this point if you are concerned about how this will impact your professional reputation, your ability to complete your work on time, etc state these things. Hopefully with specific concerns your boss will have an answer that you can actually use.

      One of the problems I see here is that both of you are accelerating, the situation keeps getting worse and worse. Remember this: You already won the war. You are redoing all her work, granted it is updating it/modernizing it. But in her eyes you have won the war and she never even got to fire a shot. You were on the invading army and you just marched in and took over- this is the way she sees it. In her mind your boss is already “on your side” so to speak because he okayed the work; he okayed your unwanted take over and occupation of her “life’s work”.
      Please think about this, people who are on a slippery slope are the ones who have nothing to lose and they feel free to take cheap verbal shots. If you think about it this way, you realize people give themselves away. She covertly feels like crap about herself and her work. For where you sit, sometimes winning in the big picture is actually sucky on the day to day level. Try to think about what it would be like ten years from now, when someone else comes along and wants you to help them implement a new system that replaces the one you built. What would that be like for you? (Not being snarky, this is a real thing to consider.)

      Left to handle the problem on my own, I would say something like this: “I am not speaking to you that way, because I do not expect to be spoken to that way. Neither one of us is in a position of having to assess the other’s work/ethics/[insert other attributes]. I think we should just remain focused on the task of transitioning this system and let the rest go.”

      Lastly, does it really matter that this person thinks so little of you/your work? It sounds like she is not in a position with some clout to it. Try to figure out how her words/actions impact you and your future. I am thinking that she is small potatoes in the long run.

      I do think that it is okay to tell your boss that this person slowed the progress of the work, did not answer questions, was unusually insulting/rude, etc. But I would not belabor it if he blew me off. My point would still have been made. If someone from another department mentions a problem he will have heard it from me first, not from an outside source. Yes, that does matter where he hears it from first.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        The most unfortunate thing about this is that this person was very short-sighted in how she chose to approach this project. She’s very bright. She designed a pretty complex database that the company was able to use successfully for many years. You have to be smart to be able to do something like that.

        However, our parent company is in the process of outsourcing many of the back office functions, and centralizing them in 3 global locations. Not just at the subsidiary level, but across the entire parent company too. Her department performs one of these functions. So…her department is on the verge of being outsourced, which means that her job may be at risk. How much at risk, I don’t know, but it is at risk. The people in those same departments at my company have all been told that the transition is happening early next year, and they’re all preparing to be laid off. So the situation at her company has got to be similar.

        She had a fabulous opportunity to immerse herself in this project, and spend over a year getting up to speed on the ins and outs of a very popular and widely used ERP system. Not only that, she had a team of 10-12 people, all with many years of experience, who would have been happy to share their expertise with her, and help her learn how to use the system from the front end, support business users, how to query data from the back end, troubleshoot issues, and all the rest of it. She could have come out of this thing WAY more marketable than she was going into it.

        But because of the way she’s behaved, no one on our team is inclined to help her do that now. Of course we’ll provide support, because we’re professionals and it’s not acceptable to just leave people hanging when they need help. But beyond that, there won’t be much else.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s a shame. What a loss. But a powerful story for anyone reading here, as in do not make THIS mistake. And you can see how readily this can happen, “Hey this is MY kid, I created it, raised it up, taught it right from wrong and now you are pushing it to one side? This is MY baby!”
          I am very impressed with how you show here people were rallying to try to include her in the project. Very poor choice on her part.

          Your last paragraph–I wonder if you could say something like that to your boss to show the severity of the situation. But, you know, if she is willing to behave like this with all of you, she is probably doing other things,too, and her whole department has a laundry list.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      Thanks all for your replies. I’m very late getting back, because I worked all day (on this wretched project…almost across the finsh line….) and then there was a great big fuster cluck at the end of the day. Ugh.

      Lots of good feedback here, and I really appreciate it. Perhaps I just needed to vent. As I replied to Alison above, when it’s all said and done, there are just a couple things I’d really like as an outcome.

      First, I want her to acknowledge that these were extenuating circumstances, and I don’t want this to come up in my review as an example of how I’m too impatient with people and get annoyed too easily. I really don’t think that me being too terse and abrupt with people, and needing to soften my approach a bit (which I’ve been able to do) is in the same ball park of getting pissed off because someone has accused me of lying. There are shades of gray. My boss is great — really, one of the best managers I’ve ever had — but she tends to oversimplify here and assume that if there’s tension between someone else and me that it’s all on me because I’ve had “communication issues” in the past. So I’d like her to not do that, but I’m not sure how to do that without sounding like a whiner.

      Second, I want her, or the PM, or our director, or someone, to talk to the project sponsor on the user side. Not in generalities, but in specifics. I want him to know that she was very difficult to work with, to the point that she has, almost single-handedly, created a great deal of tension in the relationship between our 2 groups. I want someone to tell him that her accusing us of lying rather than admitting she made a mistake was way over the line. And, on a kinder note, I want someone to tell him that while she’s very bright, her interpersonal skills are lacking, and it will end up harming her career if someone doesn’t coach her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Communication issues is the magic/solve everything answer. (NOT) It’s kind of a lame, catch-all, really. I think your best bet is to say that you are concerned because she is accusing you and others of lying. I would say that now,rather than wait for an evaluation to happen.

        If you get hit with the communications issues thing- ask in a sincere voice, “how would you like me to handle it?” Or ask if you can briefly role play, where the boss is you and you are her. I would even go as far as asking the boss what books to read to beef up my communication skills. You can say, “I was hoping we could move away from that problem that was so long ago. Now I am asking you what you think I should do to address my communication skills. I would like to get out from under this cloud and move on.”

        As far as her career, it sounds like she has already blown it, at least inside your company. When it comes to concerns about her career, I would tell myself , “Not my circus…” You tried to help her career once already and it blew up in a spectacular manner. I think at this point I would not be so concerned about her career. She does not really want help.

  16. Fie87*

    So I’m about a year away from graduating and I have no clue what I want to do. Hoping you guys would have some suggestions of what people usually do with my degree and work experience.

    I’m getting a degree in business management from an AACSB accredited school. I also plan on getting an MBA but not sure when- I don’t really want to go straight into it after my bachelors. I am a department manager in the food service industry. I currently do hiring and scheduling. My other duties are running shifts, training new managers, posting marketing materials (like the menu boards), so on. I do have a shot at becoming the next general manager of the store, though I don’t want to stay in food service forever.

    I just have no clue what kinds of jobs I’d want to apply to! Any help?

    1. Student*

      The best managers I’ve had are people who have serious expertise in the field they are managing and an aptitude for business management skills. I suggest that you start looking for some field to become familiar with before you jump into any type of MBA program. Nobody goes to hire saying, “I need managers.” They say, “I need software development managers,” or “I need food services managers”.

      So, while you have a year to go, start getting a minor in a specific field, or maybe look for another degree program where you can pick up a second degree in only a year or two, or get some practical job experience in a specific field that you might want to work in. If you don’t want to stay in food services, you need to start moving out of it sooner rather than later.

    2. Jo*

      If you aren’t already, take advantage of your colleges career services. Attend workshop, career panels, etc. Also if your school has a career fair in the fall, start prepping now!

    3. CoffeeLover*

      I would recommend working for a professional service company if you’re not sure what you want to do. Professional service companies work across a variety of industries (think accounting/consulting firms, law firms, insurance firms, etc.) So you do a specific job (provide a specific service), but you work with clients in different industries. I think this gives you a bit more flexibility down the road, since you generally don’t get pigeon holed into one industry, and it also exposes you to different industries that you may want to work for down the road.

      You might want to go the internship/temporary work route. It gives you a chance to try something without committing. I agree with Jo that you should check out career fairs and workshops to start to get a feel for the job hunt. A lot of companies hire in the fall for the following year and that’s when a lot of these fairs/workshops happen too. Finally, I agree with your decision not to go straight into an MBA. It’s much better to first get some good work experience, and it won’t necessarily help you find a job.

    4. Random CPA*

      Start looking for jobs now and see what skills match your background. You could talk with your professors and see if your college partners with local businesses to fill positions. They may be able to offer you more insight on your future job prospects.

    5. MsM*

      What do you like about your current duties? What don’t you like? When you think about being a manager, what kind of office environment do you want to be in? Do you like lots of different projects, or getting to focus on a big one? Take advantage of still being in school to do some informational interviews with people in jobs you find interesting while you try to sort through those questions. And remember, if the first job you take after this one isn’t a perfect fit, take that as part of the learning experience and refine accordingly while you look for the next one.

      I would strongly advise waiting a while before getting your MBA – I got mine after four years of post-BA work experience, and in retrospect, I think that was on the low side. It’s a lot easier to contribute to in-class discussions when you can draw on real world experiences. And while you don’t have to know exactly what you want your next job to look like, it helps to have some kind of plan at least in terms of industry or function.

  17. Violet Rose*

    I’d especially appreciate hearing from other UK readers, but any advice, commiseration, or tangentially-related anecdotes are welcome.

    I’m keeping the details deliberately vague, but essentially, I’m about to inform my former employer that I believe I was wrongfully dismissed. I was summarily dismissed for “gross misconduct” – while I definitely made mistakes, but I don’t think anything I did came anywhere near gross misconduct. The actual content of my work had always been praised – the CEO just didn’t like my apparent “lack of enthusiasm.”

    What concerns me most is that there is at least one false allegation in my dismissal letter, and another that’s highly dubious. It’s essentially my word against his, which freaks me out as he’s more than twice my age and obviously much better-established in his career, but he’s also highly emotional and, quite frankly, his evidence for the false allegation makes him sound unhinged. I really hope it doesn’t come to an employment tribunal, but if it does, the burden of proof is on the employer, right?

    1. Violet Rose*

      The CEO (the one who sacked me) is also the charmer behind multiple previous open thread rants, so I’m not exactly heartbroken to not be working there anymore, but this does (at the very least, temporarily) screw up my hopes of using my previous manager (who is NOT the CEO, and who is far more reasonable) as a reference.

    2. Jwal*

      I think it would be good to get some independent legal advice if you think that it has the possibility of going somewhere, to at least know where you stand. I know somebody who did something similar (we were all convinced he was right) who subsequently lost, so it’s worth it to be clear from the beginning.

      LegalChoices can give you places where you might be able to get some pro-bono advice in your area, and the LawSociety has a facility for you to search for solicitors in your areathat offer certain types of advice (and then you can call them to find if they’ll do a free consultation). Good luck!

      1. Violet Rose*

        Thanks, I’d not heard of either of those! So far I’ve been to the Citizens Advice Bureau in my city, who thought I had a reasonably strong case, and I hope to get a second meeting with them to help me through the early steps.

        1. Jwal*

          I work for a regulatory body and used to take complaints about things that had happened as a result of those we regulated, and it’s surprising how many people haven’t heard of them!

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Talk to the citizens advice bureau, they provide free impartial legal advice to people with employment issues. They really are very good and will support bringing a claim at an employment tribunal.

    4. FatBigot*

      While it’s too late in this case, situations like this are exactly what the unions (in the UK) are for.

      There might be public posturing at the top of the union organisation, but very often the people at the grass roots are concerned with individual injustice like this. Especially if the employer has made demonstrably false statements in writing.

        1. Violet Rose*

          Another friend of mine also asked me if I’d been in a union – something I should maybe keep in mind

    5. TheLazyB*

      My DH was sacked for gross misconduct that just….. wasn’t. They basically said that he had missed doing too many things in his department and that that was gross misconduct.

      He ran a department of three including him, and two of them had left and not been replaced, and he had told his boss that he was missing things and with the best will in the world he was losing track of what he was missing. They took the opportunity of him going on a fortnight’s leave to gather evidence and suspended him, then fired him.

      He spoke to a friend of mine who knows about these things (if you happen to be in the north east maybe speak to newcastle law centre) and she said basically they had next to no case but we couldn’t afford to fight legally. He appealed, they rescinded the firing and made it into a last warning, and expected him back in the office the next day. He then resigned and started another job he’d been offered.

      So…. yeah. Just because a company is talking out of its arse doesn’t mean you can necessarily win :(

      I hope you do better than we did. Being sacked is a horrible thing to happen, whether it’s justified or not, but when it’s that unfair it’s awful. Don’t let the b******s get you down mate, and good luck x x

      1. Violet Rose*

        Thanks for the encouragement! What happened to your DH really sucks – it sounds like he was doing the best he could :(

  18. Amber Rose*

    Just a small rant of frustration: my husband is job hunting because his work at a DMV is killing his soul. So far nothing has come of his search except for one thing:

    He keeps being targeted by MLMs. I didn’t even know these were a thing in Canada, but it’s really making me mad how they keep harassing him and creating hope where none exists.


    1. Violet Rose*

      Ugh, I got very briefly involved with an MLM in the year between university and graduate studies. Fortunately for me, I didn’t stick around very long and so had barely sunk any money into it – I realised very quickly that an MLM is not a good place for someone who hates sales!

    2. Hattie McDoogal*

      Ooh, my husband got a bunch of calls from MLMs when he was job hunting a few months ago, too (and we’re also in Canada). My husband is pretty cynical and never actually wasted time going to “interviews” but I was still pretty disgusted at how predatory they were. Ugh, indeed.

    3. KarenT*

      Huge thing in Canada, at least in Toronto where I am. I have friends selling Juice Plus, Beach body, Vemma, Stella and Dot, Epicurious, Dottera, Arbonne, Younique, those skin wraps, candles, and sex toys! Joining their ranks will change my life, apparently.

  19. Sourire*

    So at the risk of sounding like a Lavinia from yesterday (and that’s actually what made me think of this), I really need to vent…

    I have a couple of coworkers who call in sick ALL THE TIME, I’m not exaggerating, I can’t recall the last time either has worked a full week. I really couldn’t care less (nor is it my business) what the issues are but it’s starting to get very frustrating. We work at a job where we need minimum staffing covered at all times, so the last minute sick leave creates a lot of overtime and headaches. But, even more frustrating I think, is that these coworkers will come in and work overtime themselves* and thus end up getting paid at a much higher rate than their coworkers. They work less hours, but because of the time and a half pay rate for overtime, they end up making a similar amount to their coworkers who are putting in a normal work week. I know the problem is much more to do with our overtime policy than with them, but I feel like it’s abusing the system and it’s definitely creating a morale issue among many of my coworkers. It doesn’t help that neither of the worst offenders are the most pleasant of coworkers when they are here.

    *Our “overtime” isn’t like normal. It’s not for hours worked over 40 per week. Any time the shift needs to hire an extra body to meet minimums, they are approved to hire that as overtime at the time and a half rate, regardless of whether that employee has worked 2 hours or 80 that week.

    1. AnotherFed*

      That is so frustrating. However, I don’t think you can tell your boss the OT policy sucks without it sounding like you and your coworkers resent the workers who are abusing it.

      What you probably can do is bring up to your boss how the last minute sick leave is affecting your work. He probably knows he’s having to call in last minute support, but are there other things that aren’t as obvious? For example, if you’re always having to shift people around, are there efficiency impacts? Are there things that aren’t getting done or done on time because the people with those skills keep having to cover other areas? The boss may be able to do something that evens out the scheduling a little better to help with that. Even if you don’t get the satisfaction of seeing your problem workers get their comeuppance, you’ll probably be able to handle them a lot better if they weren’t directly impacting your quality of life!

    2. Adnan*

      We had similar problems at my former employer. The unionized part-time staff have two days in a week that are designated as days off (in lieu of the Sat,Sun weekends off for Mon-Fri full-time employees) and any hours worked on those days are paid at 2 times the regular rate. We have several Lavinia’s who call in sick on their regular scheduled days and ask for shifts on their designated off days. They work three days a week but get paid the same as a regular full-time employee. Management put a stop to this – when we needed shifts covered, only employees that are supposed to work on that day are now being called in. Some of the employees have been doing this for so long they think getting OT is an entitlement.Management also rolled out a new sick leave policy. The Lavinia’s are now screaming murder saying their incomes have dropped so much they cannot make mortgage payments any more. Most of the employees are ok with the policy changes as they know management did it to avoid budget deficits and subsequent layoffs.
      In your case Souriere, the policy needs to change so employees are not taking advantage of it. Management has a right to run the business efficiently.

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      I don’t have the same problem with overtime shift scheduling (how frustrating that other people can benefit from that!), but I am also resentful of my coworkers who take sick days. It’s not even that I think they’re abusing the policy (that’s between them and management); I’m just bummed that I can’t do the same while I’m on new-hire probation. People are taking doctor/dentist/PT appointments left and right, or calling out before/after a holiday, and I haven’t been able to see a doctor or have blood taken (normal medical upkeep for me) in 3 months. Even when I feel under the weather and would normally stay home, I’ve gotta show up. 6 more months to go. Maybe I can find a clinic that has weekend hours.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          I was unclear. The probationary period lasts 9 months, with multiple performance evaluations. During this time I accrue sick leave and vacation leave, but I can’t use any sick leave for the first 90 days (I am rounding the corner on that period next week). Still haven’t gotten my insurance card, though.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Is the rule no time off at all or no paid time off?

        Both suck but unpaid leave might be an option.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Oh, good point. Hm. Looking over the paperwork, it says there is “no paid leave entitlement” for the full probationary period of 9 months, and further specifies that while leave accrues, it may not be used during that time. I would happily take the time unpaid if possible, but hadn’t wanted to rock the boat by asking (I also took two brief vacations that had been scheduled prior to my hire; I was out of town and wasn’t able to use any of that time for medical visits.).

        2. Anx*

          Wait a second.

          I’m going back in my memory, and there have been a few jobs where I was told no days off for the first 90 days while interviewing. Now, I didn’t actually get those, but I assumed they meant that you can’t take a day off unless it’s an emergency.

          I’ve worked in other jobs where it was pretty much verboten to take a day off without an emergency until you were a seasoned employee. Going to a wedding or graduation or being sick without a doctor’s note was grounds for dismissal, so I wasn’t thrown off by the ‘no days off’ thing. I thought they meant they didn’t want anyone to get too cozy or be flaky from the get-go, but now I’m wondering if they meant no paid days off (paid days off is a concept I’ve heard of, but haven’t really experienced). I remember wondering if I’d take one of the jobs because I had a sick relative who I wanted to visit with within 3 months.

    4. cardiganed librarian*

      Urgh. I had a manager who did that. She didn’t like making her commute five days a week so she worked overtime one or two nights instead, at time and a half, and then took a full day off. The other staff were frustrated that we were always short-staffed on those days, but her bosses seemed kind of baffled by her nerve and clearly felt powerless in the face of the union. It was a somewhat public-facing job, too, so her being away meant other people not being able to take real lunches!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This sounds like weak management. Union contract should have shown five work days and the union should have backed management on this one.

  20. Sascha*

    I don’t really have a question, just need to get thoughts out. I found out my department is about to go through a major reorganization. I’m going to benefit from this – I will be getting a new position on a new team that I have wait for for a long time, and I’m really excited about the work I’ll be doing and the direction our team is going. However, two other teams in my department are getting relocated to different unit in the company, and I don’t think it will be good for them. I’m close with my coworkers on those teams, and they are great people and employees, and I hate that they are getting the shaft. I actually feel guilty that I’m getting a promotion and the opportunity to do some really exciting work, and they are not also getting this chance. My director is hoping some spots on this new team will open up later and we can hire them back if they are interested, but I doubt that will happen. Just having to process my emotions about this.

    1. AnotherFed*

      It’s OK to be both excited for yourself and upset for your coworkers. However, what seems terrible for them right now might not turn out as badly as expected – they could decide they like the new work, or take it as an opportunity to pursue a promotion (even outside your company), or the new work might suck but the new boss and other perks/policies in the other unit balance that out. Ultimately, reorgs, mergers, splits, realignments, etc. happen a lot, and while you leave behind good people, you meet more good people and get to keep in touch with the others. You’d be surprised how often you find yourself running into the same people in your professional career – good people like to work with other good people.

      1. Sascha*

        Thank you, that is what I needed to hear. I can’t foresee if the reorg will be worse for them, or even better for me (one hopes). It may turn out to be just what we all need.

  21. Argh*

    Any thoughts to what it means when the company that just acquired you goes ahead and also acquires your biggest competitor? The company I work for is about twice the size of our competitor, but our product and distribution model is very similar with a lot of crossover. Why would a corporation want both of us? In other words, what I’m really asking, is how doomed am I?

    1. PEBCAK*

      Not necessarily doomed. For all you know, the competitor could have some kind of intellectual property or something that the parent company wanted.

    2. anonanonanonanon*

      Is the company that acquired yours one of those serial acquirers? are they trying to get a “monopoly” in the area that you and your competitor work in? For example, maybe you both specialize in one thing that they want to expand their business into.

      In my industry with acquisitions, there are always redundancies that occur. If you are concerned, I would put your head down, do your job the best that you can, but also, start looking for other options for a job. Good luck and try not to stress about it until you know more.

      1. Argh*

        Thanks, and yes, exactly, they are trying to build the part of the business that we currently work in. I understood why they acquired us, or would have acquired our competitor, but not both in a short time frame. But this is my first acquisition rodeo, so I’m not really sure what’s normal.

    3. Jen RO*

      My company does this occasionally. We are in software, so the people who actually contribute to the software creation (development, QA) are not usually affected… but there are usually layoffs in the “extra” departments like HR and marketing.

    4. danr*

      You’re probably okay. It’s the folks from the competitor who have the feeling of doom.

  22. Potstirrer Help*

    Has anyone here every had to deal with the potstirrer personality? How did you deal with it?

    By potstirrer, I mean someone who is masterful at stirring up trouble, and magically being far removed from it when the trouble manifests. A concrete example is that I have a co-worker who keeps “helping” by going to my peer managers “for me” and giving them misinformation. This person also makes my life difficult in other ways, and was openly hostile to me in a private hallway with no witnesses … so I know they aren’t really trying to be helpful. I don’t have any hard evidence, since all the trouble they cause me is indirect, so I am curious if others have dealt with someone like this and how they dealt with it? This person ingratiates themself to everyone else and is really nice to everyone. The person also frequently has “no recollection” of the incidents that cause trouble (such as specifically telling me not to take notes at my first training session with them only to later lambast me in front of my peers for not paying attention).

    Help! I’ve documented everything, but again since it was all verbal all I have is this growing word doc of “this hapened at this date and this was said.” : ?

    1. HR Generalist*

      My solution would be distance and learning from your mistake. Make yourself as far removed from this employee as possible. And stop taking their advice, don’t refer to them for anything at all. Prevention is the best solution.

      1. JHS*

        Absolutely agree. I had a similar situation except it was my assigned “mentor” who told me I could talk to her about anything and vent. Being very green, I believed she was trying to help me work through things and I talked to her about issues and problems I had (especially personality issues with some bosses and trying to figure out how to work with them). Unbeknownst to me, she immediately went to upper management and twisted everything I said to try to damage my reputation. I didn’t find out about her being two-faced for almost a year, from a more senior manager who I proved myself with through hard work and who realized none of the things that were said could be true, but the damage had already been done with some other people on the team. As soon as I found out, I distanced myself as much as possible while still trying to maintain a very cordial relationship with her, but never said a word that wasn’t cheerful, positive, etc to her again, or asked her a single piece of advice. To this day, she doesn’t know that I know what she did, but let me tell you, she is never going to have a negative thing to say about me again.

    2. Colette*

      Are you at the same level as the peer managers or the coworker?

      Have you asked her to stop going to the managers on your behalf? If you have, gphave you told the managers you’ve done so – I.e. “By the way, I’ve noticed that things get lost in translation when Jane mentions them to you. If you have any questions about what I’m working on. I’d be glad to answer them!”

      1. fposte*

        Yup. Do this, and then pull your own spoon out of the pot and stop caring. It sounds like it hasn’t had any impact on your work or the way other people deal with you, so it’s not worth emotional energy, and it’s certainly not worth documenting.

        1. Potstirrer Help*

          I’m at the same level as the potstirrer and the peer managers. Potstirrer use to be in my role, but took over a different line.

          Yes. I’ve asked the potstirrer to please let me handle the communication. I’ve also let the manager know that I asked potstirrer to due this since it causes confusion and to please come to me with any questions.

          The potstirrer is definitely disrupting my work and impacting the way other people deal with me. I’m new to the team, and the training incident made everyone else on our team reluctant to help me or show me anything since the potstirrer went around complaining that I did not listen/take notes. They are only just now coming around. Plus each time the potstirrer steps in, it spreads mis-information up the chain that I eventually have to clear up. Not to mention when I do have to work with the potstirrer (which I certainly avoid at all costs) they purposefully drag their feet and don’t give me the pieces I need to move forward until I involve our direct supervisor (who thankfully likes me).

          I guess I am just really surprised you want me to stop documenting? What if this escalates? If she does something more overt I can show it’s a pattern of behavior and not a one-off event? Isn’t that the entire point of documenting?

          1. fposte*

            I’m coming from a US standpoint here, and I don’t know where you’re located, but honestly, I think there’s only rarely a point to documenting. It’s something people say to do because it feels like an organized way to deal with a problem, but most of the time it ends up making the problem feel bigger in somebody’s mind. Unless there’s something specific being worked toward and there’s an attempt to measure it, or something legal in the offing, it’s not usually helpful. In this case, what action are you asking documentation to support? A manager firing Jane, or telling her not to be mean to you? Neither of those are all that likely, the second one isn’t likely to help you as much as you’d hope, and writing it down doesn’t make it any more an objective truth.

            Jane sucks. She’s always going to suck. This is almost certainly no secret in your workplace. Did your co-workers explicitly say “I don’t want to help you because Jane says you don’t take notes”? Because if they didn’t, I suspect that wasn’t what was driving co-workers’ reactions to you. If she won’t give you work that you need to do to be productive, that’s worth taking to a manager. If Lucinda won’t give you the training your shared manager suggested because of what Jane said, that’s worth taking to a manager, but not because of what Jane said, because of what the workplace needs Lucinda to do. If Jane just tells people you suck or is unpleasant to you in the hallway, that’s not worth taking to a manager.

            If by “misinformation” you mean Jane told people the work would be ready on Wednesday and it’s scheduled to conclude on Friday, yes, you need to clear that up, but those things happen and if it happens often it’ll be clear Jane isn’t a reliable informant. If by “misinformation” Jane said you don’t take notes or you don’t listen, you clear that up by being awesome at your job, ignoring buzzing flies like Jane, and coolly dismissing any mention of this as a misunderstanding. This is, I think, really related to your newness on the team, and if you wait it out and pick your battles–like when the workflow is compromised, as you’ve noted–you’re going to end up with a lot more respect than if you managed to convince a manager to tell your peers that Jane’s been too mean to you. I don’t mean to belittle your situation–it’s definitely upsetting–but upsetting isn’t the same as a supervisory concern.

            Step back. Let Jane be a buzzing fly. Note to your supervisor when the work isn’t happening as it’s supposed to, and otherwise be really good at your job. The charisma of negativity is sexy, but the charisma of competence generally beats it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think there’s only rarely a point to documenting. It’s something people say to do because it feels like an organized way to deal with a problem, but most of the time it ends up making the problem feel bigger in somebody’s mind. Unless there’s something specific being worked toward and there’s an attempt to measure it, or something legal in the offing, it’s not usually helpful.

              Totally agree.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              I have documented twice in my 30 plus years of work. Since I have not done much of it, I found it helpful. I could release some of that extra energy that comes with frustration/anger. And it helped me to collect my thoughts about what is important and what is not important. I could better see patterns in the difficulties I was having and in turn, I could piece together an idea of how to handle some stuff.

              Both times turn into one of those coincidences where I started documenting and the behaviors stopped. It could be that journaling helped me collect my thoughts and I presented as being more put together then that caused the person to stop some of their nonsense? I don’t know.

              One thing I would definitely do is work according to my own standards regardless of this person’s advice. So if I would normally take notes, I would still take notes even if this person told me not to worry about it. As she has revealed, you now know that the opposite of what she is saying is probably what you need to do. All the more reason to work according to your standards and ignore her advice.

              Next thing I would do is try to reach out and get to know other people better. This is a good way to dilute her power AND help you feel better about your job all in the same stroke. Treat everyone in a similar friendly manner.

              I seem to vaguely recall a person like this once. I was at the job for a while, so other new hires came in. I did have an opportunity to empathize with the new hires about the pot-stirrer and advise them to collect their information/instructions from other sources not from pot-stirrer. That was a very satisfying feeling because I knew my issues with the pot-stirrer were dead. Her power had been broken, permanently.

  23. Stephanie*

    So I got promoted at work to the job I referenced in last week’s open thread. Unfortunately, it’s still underemployment (it’ll be 25-30 hours a week), but the work’s more high-level than what I’ve been doing. Thing is, they’re still not quite paying a living wage and my commute’s about to triple (not paying enough to move closer, unfortunately. So how long should I wait until I start sending out resumes?

    (No clue about the internal transfer policy yet. I think it might be a year for a self-directed transfer.)

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      If you’re able to bet on the long run, in the long run, this is probably going to work out for you. You moved one rung up in a good national employer. The circumstances here suck so, depending on your tolerance level for how long this sucks, that’s the amount of time it should take for you to look elsewhere at the same time.

      BTW, we had logistics people from your employer out to our facilities for a week and those people were amazing. I was thinking about you the whole time. Their job was helping us plan space and run data and all kinds of amazing amazing nubmery things . I was thinking Stephanie should do this! A man and a woman. They’d worked for your employer for many years and travel all around the US doing what they were doing for us.

  24. JJ*

    Does anyone have advice on how to respond to (and discourage) professional negging in the workplace? As in, I’m not talking about the pick-up artist form of negging…I mean the professional version where, say, a co-worker acts like they want to be buddy-buddy, blindsides you with a comment meant to make you feel bad about yourself professionally, and then continues to act all buddy-buddy? I feel like the first step to formulating a strategy is understanding why people do this, but (a) I don’t neg people, and (b) I am generally struggling to figure out what I can do in the situation to discourage this behavior.

    1. Diddly*

      Wow that’s weird I’ve never heard of that before. Is that something that happens a lot at your office? Or is it’s someone’s poor social skills/attempt at humor or to make them feel good about themselves?
      Can you give an example?
      It sounds extremely childish. Is it possible there is a lot of hostility/frustration in the office with regards people’s positions/abilities and that there isn’t a direct way to say this? Or is it just a toxic environment?
      Giving clear directions on this to everyone – as in professional conduct might come across as weird as it literally sounds like people just don’t know how to make friends or be polite to one another.

      1. JJ*

        The org is still relatively young (~5 years), but things were scandalous in the beginning because the former president did some shady things and was basically chased out by the employees. Today, there are better people in charge, but I think a lot of distrust and unhappiness lingers in the air (which is partly why I was hired–to clean things up and help the org recover and grow). So, there possibly could be an org culture influence. Thankfully, my immediate team is perfectly sane and friendly, which helps a lot.

        In terms of an example: I can name more than one example, so I’ll just give a prototypical example that follows three phases (buddy, neg, buddy):

        Phase One: I’m the new person and meet a seemingly friendly person, who invites me to have dinner with them and their family so they can get to know me and make me feel welcome at the org and to the new town (I’ve never lived here and don’t know anyone).
        Phase Two: Haven’t had dinner with said person yet, but have had a few conversations in passing containing questionable out-of-the-blue statements, such as “Why are you here?” (clear negative “if you’re so great, why are you here?” connotation to the question), “I hate [the committee I’m in charge of]!”, “I’d hate being you”, “We’re bad people”, etc.
        Phase Three: By now, I don’t really *want* to do the dinner thing, but I’ve received several enthusiastic reminders from said person and I’m so confused by these mixed friendly/insulting signals that I feel like going might be a helpful way to get to the bottom of it. Dinner goes fine, but it contains a similar mix of friendliness/implied insults, and I leave definitely feeling like something is “off” and that, ironically, my presence didn’t even seem to register.

        It’s weird, right? I don’t know things like this happen in the service of someone (1) trying to be friendly but is inept at doing so, (2) trying to gather intel on me for gossip purposes, or (3) wanting me to be impressed with them or intimidated by them. It’s all very confusing and, as you said, very childish.

        1. Diddly*

          Could be an inferiority complex? They feel they have to put you down and that you weren’t required to be there? Are you from out of town? Last week someone commented that they were from out of town – a big city, and they (without knowing it) had taken the job of an internal potential hire and it seemed to cause a lot of resentment. Also perhaps there’s hostility because you were brought in to curb the nasty behavior? Weird.
          Or is it some sort of strange gas-lighting behavior?
          Perhaps these people also feel they’re being helpful – giving you a heads up about the company environment – and that perhaps (in a positive spin) they feel you could be somewhere better, and are warning people they should leave? (Or think they are…)
          Definitely sounds like it’s leftover from the hostile work environment previously. Can you change it so there’s a big dinner for all new employees – so that you can tell them to blow off other invitations – that’s so kind but there’s no need to welcome employees individually as we’ll be having a big get together.

          1. JJ*

            HA! I kind of love the idea of stealing other people’s thunder and throwing a dinner like that. I also think your other observations are spot-on given other pieces of info I didn’t want to take additional space to disclose (yep, I’m from a big city and am currently in a smaller town….yep, I have more impressive credentials than the questionable people and am younger than them…and yet, I don’t feel the need to be a dick about it to everyone).

            1. So Very Anonymous*

              I’ve definitely had something similar happen to me (I’ve had lunches exactly like the dinner you describe) because of some of the things you mention here — being from somewhere else, in my case having an advanced degree that most people in my department don’t have, being from an adjacent field, etc. In my case the different credential thing is a bigger issue across my current field (I’ve had weird things said to me in interviews), but the “negging” stuff seems related to problems within my particular workplace. I’d say focus on the more straightforwardly friendly people if you can.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          ““Why are you here?” (clear negative “if you’re so great, why are you here?” connotation to the question), “I hate [the committee I’m in charge of]!”, “I’d hate being you”, “We’re bad people”, etc.”

          The one time I have seen these remarks it was from people who hated the company so very much and hated themselves for staying at such a dreadful company.
          “Why are you here?” = why would anyone want to work in this hellhole? I am so unhappy I want to die.

          “If you are so great, why are you here?”= The only reason any of us are still here is because we can’t get a job anywhere else, No one in their right minds would hire us.

          “I hate the committee I am in charge of.” = I hate this company so much that I even hate the committee I am in charge of.

          “I”d hate being you.” = I know how badly they are screwing you, because there is a few things they did not mention and should have.

          “We are bad people.”= We can’t work anywhere else, no one would hire us. We are stuck in hell.
          Yes, these are actual quotes that I am using here.
          In short you are dealing with people who are burned out beyond comprehension. My opinion is that this has very little to do with you personally or professionally. You are dealing with some very bruised employees whose ability to trust has been entirely broken.

          You did not ask, but don’t go to dinner at this person house. Don’t do anything that looks like you want to be cliquey with people or that you favor some people over others. This probably has something to do with the old regime and the problems in the old regime. There was probably a lot of favoritism and that only scratches the surface of what went on.

    2. AnotherFed*

      I’m not familiar with negging, but I could see the scenario you described as someone’s effort to help you out. It might be badly phrased or poorly timed, but if an office buddy of mine gave me work-related feedback, even if harsh, I’d tend to think it’s worth examining. If this is someone who isn’t your friend giving unsolicited advice, especially unwritten things like boss’ preferences, then certainly think about their professional reputation and decide if they are in a position to give good advice before you implement it.

      1. JJ*

        I think there could be a *portion* of that included what’s going on. As in, by bemoaning to me about how awful my job is, maybe that is their weird way of conveying sympathy for what they perceive is a tough situation. If so, it would be much more helpful to just *say that* rather than leaving these weird conversations open to interpretation. My job is fine, but it would be even better without these workplace funeral weirdos floating around me, haha.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think it’s negging, in the strategic sense; I think you’re just dealing with somebody who’s pretty conflicted and a poor communicator, and I’d be polite but look for friendship elsewhere.

          1. JJ*

            I agree. My example was based somewhat closely on something that happened–as in, there really was a dinner. I decided to go because I needed answers, and I’m pretty sure I found them, so….no more socializing with questionable people for me!

            1. schnapps*

              Honestly, I’d just call them out with a “Sorry, I’m not sure why you said that. Could you clarify what you meant?”

              They might be flabbergasted, but if they get out a response, your response can be, “Oh, yes. Of course. Thank you for your candour.”

              (which confuses the hell out of everyone. It’s basically telling them to F-off)

    3. Melissa*

      Well, the purpose of negging in the dating world is to theoretically undermine a person’s confidence so that they are more vulnerable to your advances. The idea is that if you make a person feel unworthy of love and relationships from anyone else, they feel “so lucky” to have the negger, while simultaneously feeling like they can’t leave because they won’t find anyone else. Thus the negger gets more control over the relationship.

      If this is truly professional negging, it could be a coworker with similar intentions – making you feel incompetent and unworthy of your position so that when they “help” you, you feel forced to take it – and they have the upper hand in that relationship. It’s less clear what the desired outcome is, but it could be a variety of things. I had a similar relationship with a colleague one time who I suspect was trying to undermine what she perceived as competition for future jobs in the field. Maybe your coworker wants you to feel like you always have to go to him for help so that he keeps a close eye on what you are doing, and thereby your performance. Or maybe she doesn’t want you to compete with her for promotions at the next level. Who knows?

      In this situation, the best thing I did to address the behavior was alternately call it out and ignore it. For more minor comments, I simply raised an eyebrow and kept on rolling in the conversation as if the negger never said anything untoward, which does not have the effect that the one doing the negging desires. If you don’t visibly show any signs of being affected, it’s perceived as less effective. For more major comments, I said something like “Don’t say that.” or “Why would you say that?” or give her a funny look that made it clear what she was saying was inappropriate (but not that it bothered me emotionally – sort of in a dispassionate way). This shows that the negging has an unintended effect – the negger wants you to feel intimidated but like she’s there to help you. This response, rather, shows that the target is not intimidated but also that she realizes that the negger is doing something weird and inappropriate, and not helpful.

      Of course, success depends on the reason behind the negging, too. In my case colleague partially felt threatened by competition and partially was really awkward in social situations and tended to blurt out whatever she was thinking when interacting with other people, which went badly for her in other ways, too. So I partially solved the problem by doing the above, but also partially solved it by making it clear that I was not in competition with her and was not willing to have some kind of competition for stuff – and instead demonstrated how we could work together and collaborate. We’re friends now! and frequent collaborators! And she doesn’t say that weird stuff anymore. (She does, however, do it to other people, perhaps without even realizing it. I continue to call her out on her comments.)

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        This is really insightful, and definitely speaks to what I’ve experienced. Much appreciated.

  25. manomanon*

    I was covering for our HR manager this week since a search for one of our higher level positions was winding down and the hiring manager wanted things to get to her asap. Among other travesties we received a resume that was 18 PAGES long. 4 page bio and then every project this guy worked on at every job he ever had.
    Why why why why why would someone find that to be a good idea? This is someone who’s been working for long enough that a 2 page resume would be reasonable- even 2.5 if including publications but 18 pages??? I am baffled by people.

    1. JJ*

      You mean you don’t want to take in 18 pages of how CLEARLY AWESOME this person is? Come on, man. DRINK IT IN. :)

    2. mondegreen*

      If he’s straight out of academia (or has a PhD and works in an adjacent industry) he might think a CV instead of a résumé is normal. The mention of publications sent my thoughts in that direction. Even so, the two-page bio sounds excessive.

      1. JJ*

        Yeah, I have a PhD and would never in a million years think that the CV was an appropriate place for a bio. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen that as the norm in any of the fields my colleagues or peers belonged to, though I could be wrong. In any case, it makes me wonder how lengthy his LinkedIn profile must be, let alone any online dating profiles he might have. :)

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          With 18 pages, maybe he thinks of the bio as the equivalent of an executive summary? (Which there is also no need for in a c.v.?)

      2. Marcela*

        Or if he’s not American. At least in Spain and Chile, we use CV’s, not resumes. Although to have 18 pages, the candidate should be kind of old…

    3. Mel in HR*

      I got a 20 page resume when I was recruiting for a government contractor. I *tried* reading it but dozed off somewhere around page 4…..

    4. Algae*

      We had a seven page resume once. Complete with a reason for leaving one job was due to the commute.

      18 would have baffled me.

      1. Felicia*

        9 pages was the longest we ever got. And the person had just graduated university and had very little experience.

  26. Retail Lifer*

    I’m at the point where I think I’m unemployable. I got stuck in retail management for years, went back to school and got a degree in HR, and, seven years later, I’m still in retail management. I’m trying for property management jobs now (at bigger companies that don’t require a real estate license) and admissions reps jobs, plus the occassional inside sales job that’s legitimately INSIDE (job postings tend to be misleading). I’m getting NOWHERE. Signs are not good for me here…I’m going to get fired or laid off at some point and I need to get out. I can’t even fall back on retail anymore because everyone seems to require you to have a car and be willing to travel to every store within an hour’s radius. I’m incredibly frustrated and have no idea what to do.

    1. Colette*

      That’s a discouraging place to be. I’m sure you’re not unemployable.

      Retail gives you a lot of good skills, but I understand it’s hard to make the leap to another profession. Networking might be helpful, if you haven’t tried it (even if it just gives you confidence in your skills).

    2. Ali*

      You have my sympathies, as I’ve felt the same. My field is different; I went to school for communications. I have experience in writing, editing and now social media, but I still keep getting told employers want more experienced candidates. I have tried jobs in social media, marketing, general communications, staff writing positions…and nothing. Except opportunities to write for people for “exposure,” AKA no pay. I am so over hearing how great my experience and application materials are, and then the employer turning around and saying they found a better fit. I just want to be the best fit for once!

      Ironically, I am in retail, working for one of the big drugstore chains as a pharmacy tech. I just started a couple of weeks ago, but the pharmacists and techs I’ve worked with/trained with are noting that I’m doing well for a newbie. I’m about ready to give up searching, start up my freelance writing business like I’ve always thought about and just do my writing and my pharmacy tech work. The drugstore is the only place that wanted to hire me and not bemoan my lack of experience, and if I stay long enough, they’ll pay for my materials and fees to take the pharmacy tech certification.

      And not to mention the people who seem to think I have a boatload of privilege and can answer questions like “What is your dream job?” and “You should find out what you’re passionate about!” At this point? I’m passionate about working and being out of the house. Don’t even get me started on all the people I know with cushy careers and life satisfaction who keep telling me “You’ll find something! Keep your chin up!” Right. Easy for you to say when you’ve never had a problem finding work and make a good enough salary to live independently of your family.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Seriously! My other issue is that, when I find a company who feels like my skills might be a match, it’s for something close to entry-level and has the expected almost entry-level pay. I can handle a slight pay cut, but not $6000 or so. I can’t pay my rent on that.

    3. Diddly*

      Can you transition from retail to retail HR? Or is this something you’ve already been trying to do?
      If I remember from What Color is Your Parachute? Author recommends that you try and go sideways into your profession – so it’s somewhat a leap but you have relevant skills.

      Can you meet up with someone who works in HR and ask them what they recommend? I’m going to a conference soon that offers a CV overview and opportunity to speak to someone about what’s expected in the industry – is there something similar in HR (if this is what you’re looking to do?)

      Also is it impossible for you to get a car? Can you drive? Could you get a used car?

      1. Retail Lifer*

        There are several big retail corporations based out of my city. I ‘ve applied for various positions at those corporate offices (HR stuff and other) but I’ve never been able to get an interview.

        I hate driving and don’t want to have to do it on a regular basis. I’m not whining (too much). I have some medical issues that make traveling difficult. Even if I did find something that paid enough to make getting a car worth it, I would be miserable if I had to either travel regularly or if I had to drive an hour to work.

        1. Ashley*

          Try store operations, or a store-level HR position (some bigger chains (i.e. Toys R Us, Target) will have a store HR manager and admin).

          My husband was stuck in retail management (had worked for the same smaller, mall-based retailed since his sophomore year of college, even though he is SUPER smart and has a college degree (granted it’s in history, but still)) – he wasn’t getting paid a lot, but had worked for the same company and was always identified as a strong employee, but…it wasn’t going anywhere. Literally out of nowhere one day his corporate office called and asked if he’d be interested in interviewing for a new position that was in the corporate office. It required a relocation for us (which we were open to), but it was a great career move.

          I work in corporate HR for a retailer – I regularly get random resumes/emails from people who are looking to make the transition from store to corporate. It’s difficult to do, but NOT impossible (I actually just made an offer yesterday to a store manager with a degree in art for a buying role. It happens!). HR in general always feels like a saturated field to me (there are a lot of qualified candidates for few positions), but don’t lose hope. It will happen for you. In the mean time, make yourself a superstar with your current company. Always be in touch with your HR manager/DSM/regional/LP person/buyers/etc. Be wary of hoping around from industry to industry – on your resume it will look like you don’t know what you’re looking for – one of those “jack of all trades, master of none” situations.

        2. JHS*

          Another option would be to keep your retail job, but see if you can modify your hours for a few months and offer to “intern” or “shadow” with a retail HR person. Try to find someone on Linked In or through some other form of networking, or even internally with the company you’re with. Then you will have some real experience to put on your resume that will tie in with your previous work and add a bit more to your resume in order to get your foot in the door with a paid HR position.

        3. Diddly*

          Ah ok and there’s no present way for you to internally get into HR?
          Do you have contacts from your HR degree course/professors/classmates that you could talk to? Or a careers advisory service you could talk to?
          Maybe in this case you need to apply for other HR positions rather than HR, I don’t know much about HR so don’t know which industries would be comparable.
          Is there an inbetween job you could take that’s still in retail, but gives you some of the skills required to do HR, that you could use to get out retail?

          1. Retail Lifer*

            I’ve been doing all of the store-level HR stuff for years, which is why I thought getting an HR degree would be smart. I’ve honestly given up on that now and am seeking something else entirely. It’s been 7 years…

            1. Diddly*

              Ah ok, sorry misunderstood.
              I’m sorry you feel that way.
              I don’t feel ‘unemployable’ but I do feel over job-searching. Even when I had long stints in jobs – they were never what I actually wanted and I was always searching and applying. It just seems like an ongoing battle that I can’t really win, and feel like perhaps I’ve been on the wrong side all the time. It does make you constantly reassess yourself.
              A job-searching gap might be what’s called for. Just forget about searching and look at doing things you enjoy, or taking over different responsibilities at your current job.

              1. Retail Lifer*

                I feel the same way. I’m always casually searching again after 6 months, and them really amping it up after a year or two when I know I’m completely done. I’d really LIKE to win this battle eventually.

    4. Steve G*

      Well don’t feel unemployable, the job market sucks and it isn’t a reflection on you.

      That being said, are you sure you qualify for a property management role? I worked with property and facility managers in the last job (in energy, we’d help them manage their energy use and facility upgrades) and many of them had engineering degrees/backgrounds; their expertise was in areas like managing electric and mechanical projects, knowing the basics of how elevators, HVAC, washing machines, etc. work, knowing insurance rules for buildings and people working on your property, and keeping up to date on City, State, and environmental laws that impact your site (how to dispose of special trash, whether you need permits for certain things, in NYC, do you have any benchmarking reporting requirements……)….I’m not seeing a correlation between retail management and property management, maybe your cover letter isn’t making the connection obvious?

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I’m definitely NOT qualified for that! I’m talking about apartment complex management. You usually need a real estate license (which is not doable – in my state you can only do that in person, not online, and my work schedule doesn’t macth up with class times). Some of the bigger complexes around here get around by having enough staff where the license isn’t necessary because someone else can do the stuff that requires it. One company in particular actively recruits people with retail management experience because it’s relatable, but I can’t get them to talk to me.

        1. Steve G*

          Oh OK, I was thinking from my NY-centric mindset where there is a bigger job market/competition for them, and it seemed that every time I met one, they’d been in the same building for a ridiculous amount of time, like 30 years.

    5. Ad Astra*

      I get frustrated reading your updates sometimes because you’re so clearly employable. You have tons of skills and valuable experience. I’m not sure why companies aren’t seeing this.

    6. Sunday*

      You clearly have good people skills – anyone who can stop turnover the way you’ve mentioned doing while ensuring the store is meeting goals is far better than average. That kind of thing plus your retail HR work plus the degree is going to look very appealing to the right people. I’m assuming from what you’ve said that you do (informal or formal) coaching and training, too.

      You’ve mentioned in passing what sound like great skills in comments here, don’t downplay them.

      Is there a local SHRM chapter near you? They’ll have ideas and connections that may not pan out immediately but could over time; they seem to also have job boards. I know it’s hard to plan around a retail schedule to get to regular evening meetings, etc, but sometimes is better than not at all. And definitely stay in touch with the place you got your HR degree and their job board/s and placement office/s.

      Not at all surprised if you’ve already thought of anything that comes to my mind right now, but here goes:

      Places with retail or retail-like staff who hire office staff: Banks, grocery stores (which you may already include in your definition of retail), libraries and other public service places (water dept, police dept), utility companies, direct care companies (eg those who hire CNAs and others who offer in home care, as well as nursing homes, hospitals, etc). How do you hire, train, and retain those offering direct service/customer service and develop them?

      There’s a retailer with a large red circle as the logo who seems to have an HR person on site in the store near me; this person also works on the floor so the combination of experience could be a good fit for now and a bridge to something more fully “HR.”

      And have you worked with the district/corporate in coordinating deliveries, products, etc? Those are other arenas where your experience might bridge nicely.

      Since you mentioned Admissions jobs I plugged “academic hr jobs” into Google and got back academicHR dot com – they’re part of universityjobs dot com which has alot more options beyond HR too. Assume you know about jobs.shrm dot org. And the Chronicle of Higher Education has a job board, chroniclevitae dot com. Since I mentioned banking efinancialcareers dot com. And ihireHR dot com.

      The market is still pretty miserable, but remember that you offer a lot.

        1. Stephanie*

          Also, HERC dot org for higher ed jobs.

          You could try my employer (the brown shipping company). They have a lot of employees (and a lot of unionized ones), so they need lots of HR folks who understand working in that environment. Pay might not be great (they don’t pay me particularly well as I was complaining on this thread) and they tend to hire a lot of people just shy of full-time for weird shifts.

  27. Jader*

    My Husband works nonprofit and has moved his way up from caseworker to manager over approximately 10 years. His degree is in education just fyi. He’s trying to move into corporate jobs and is having a really hard time convincing employers his experience is relevant. He’s only gotten one interview, where they told him he interviews incredibly well but then decided he didn’t have enough corporate facilitation experience although he has ten years in facilitation. He is super discouraged and losing motivation. Has anyone else made the leap? Is it just a matter of waiting until something sticks? At his level should he try working with a recruiter?

    1. Mel in HR*

      I would recommend he work on his resume. So few interviews tells me that his resume and/or cover letters are lacking. I would also see if he could join any professional organizations and network. I’m a huge fan of networking to help transition from one area of work to another.

    2. MsM*

      I don’t know about a recruiter, but he should probably find someone in the field who can sit down with him and help him “translate” his resume and cover letter into corporate. If he doesn’t have any of those contacts, he should definitely look for opportunities to network.

  28. Diddly*

    A while ago I was worried about a job interview I had, which has resolved itself as I didn’t get the job. I knew afterwards that firstly I didn’t want it and secondly I hadn’t come across very well.

    But what threw me off was throughout the interview one of my interviewers was constantly in and out taking phone calls, literally sits down for one second and then leaves to take a phone call. In the end I had done most of the interview and questions with the one interviewer and really had nothing to say to the other one when she finally got off the phone.

    My question is should I give them feedback and state that it threw me off and made me wonder how they were going to be judging my interview properly and I’d found it very rude and unprofessional? Or should I just leave it and thank them for their time?

    1. Colette*

      Leave it alone. There’s no benefit to you in speaking up, and if it’s a real problem (as opposed to an unusual situation that required the interviewer to stay on top of it), the other interviewer knows it happened.

      1. Diddly*

        The other interviewer literally said – I just turned my cellphone off and put it away… in response to her going back and forth over and over with no idea what we were speaking about.
        It’s just that because of the way they were handling the interview I was very thrown. But anyway I guess I didn’t want it and it would clearly have been a bad environment :)

        1. OfficePrincess*

          From the sounds of things, the other interviewer agrees with you that it was rude and unprofessional, and honestly, the higher ups would be more likely to listen to/act on feedback from one of their own anyway. I’d just roll my eyes and move on glad to not have to work with that person.

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      Telling them they were rude and unprofessional is just going to come off as… Well, probably rude and unprofessional. It sucks, but you’re better off just moving on.

  29. MF*

    So, I’ve been looking for a new jobs for several months now, for a variety of reasons. A lot of my coworkers are looking for new jobs as well (for similar reasons, including bad management, etc…) and in the last few weeks, 2 folks have given notice. This has, pretty understandably, made my boss a little worried (we’re a very small company – under 20 employees, and quite new, so these are some of the first resignations ever), and she now seems to be looking for ways to keep people happy. This includes promoting some people on what seems a faster timeline than usual, and promoting me pretty unexpectedly (and since my company is so new, and roles beyond the standard junior/senior roles that most of the office has are undefined, I would get to pretty much define my new role).

    However, I have a potential job offer coming soon (it’s actually a position they’re creating for me – yay! – but they don’t know if they’ll have the budget for my salary range, so right now it’s pretty wait and see). I know I don’t owe my boss anything except 2 weeks notice, but I feel very weird about accepting a promotion (although I wasn’t so much asked if I wanted to be promoted as told – again, bad management), when I know I have one foot out the door. (And if this particular job doesn’t work out, there’s still a chance I’ll be out of there in the next few months).

    Will it reflect badly on me if I accept a promotion and then leave shortly thereafter? (The promotion wouldn’t be fulfilling any super critical business functions – mainly expanding on my current role and expanding some of the things my company does). Should I feel bad about this? Also, any advice on working in a workplace where a large portion of the staff is pretty dissatisfied? I feel like I’m in a good position to be pretty honest with my boss about some of the problems, but past experience has led me to believe that small, surface-level changes would be the response to some pretty deep-rooted problems. Is the time to be honest when I’m leaving? (Or is it now, when folks have started to leave and my boss may finally be receptive?)

    1. Diddly*

      Only thing I think I can say is that it would probably look very strange if you didn’t accept the promotion, and you as of yet don’t have a job offer. So I think I’d leave it, it sounds like you don’t have the opportunity to accept the promotion anyway – you’re just being given it.

      I’m not sure about the feedback, if you’re offering improvements, then leave shortly after I’m not sure how that would look, but doing it as you’re walking out the door might not leave a great impression either. I think I’d wait to see if you have a firm job offer from this other company and in that case I wouldn’t say anything. If you find you’re staying for an unspecified amount of time then I think you could voice some positive improvements to your boss. As in- it would be great if we could do _ _ Carol and Clarissa were just saying how they find it’s a great way to improve __ etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward*

      I was in a similar situation at my last transition: waiting on an official offer from a new company at the same time that an internal transfer/promotion was sprung on me. (I had expressed during a quarterly review a desire to shift some of my responsibilities and take on a new focus, but there wasn’t a new position to apply to; my boss walked up and pulled me into a meeting room and said, “I thought about what we talked about last week, and I’ve pulled some strings to create this new position for you. I wanted to check that you were on board before I finalize things with HR.”)

      I was ready to leave (the new job was about 2/3rds of the way to my dream job, and had been in the works for a year and a half), but I didn’t want to hand in my notice before I’d received a formal offer! But I, like you, didn’t want to accept a promotion and then resign right after, especially if my boss had put in extra effort to get me promoted. So I stalled. I smiled and agreed that the new position sounded like a good move, even though I was surprised that it was moving so fast. I emphasized the need to wrap up or transition some projects (which I’d have to do anyway if I were to leave the company) and that I wasn’t in a big hurry. (I think my boss was worried that I was looking elsewhere – which I WAS/had been, but it wasn’t related to my review.) Basically, I left the ball in my boss’s court, and I didn’t do any of the usual follow-up I might have. No check-ins re: timeline, no bringing up the subject unless she did, even arranging to skip our weekly 1:1 when I didn’t have anything pressing. I stalled for 3 and a half weeks. On the other side, I alerted the hiring manager to this new urgency, and DID do all of the follow-up with that company’s HR department. Got my offer in hand, then was able to give (a long) notice, and in the meantime I’d been writing documentation for the transition and giving training sessions to people who’d be taking over my job duties.

      On the other hand, I’d been in the application pool for the new job for a year and half (bureaucracy is like that). In the time between applying and receiving an offer, I’d received a transfer to a new department, increased responsibilities, and a big raise (which I stashed in savings in anticipation of the career change). I’d taken on a couple of big projects and sharpened my skills. If I’d turned down opportunities for professional development because I was looking forward to working for the new company, I’d’ve missed out. That’s where the “lean in” philosophy was applied. I didn’t leave until I was actually leaving.

      TL;DR: Unless you have a really good relationship with your current manager, STALL. If the new outside position isn’t very close to being locked down, take the promotion anyway. Things change, and professionals understand that you can’t predict the future.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Employe retention starts way before you’ve got one foot out the door, and the company culture is something management are responsible for.

      Don’t feel bad about looking after yourself, the promotion is something you’ve been given not asked for, take the promotion and wait and see how the other job plays out

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, this company knows they messed up big time. But that does not put any new responsibilities on OP. This is not like OP asked for a promotion or applied for a different job within the company. Management went to OP instead. The timing is not your fault, OP.

    4. INFJ*

      Until you have accepted an offer with no contingencies remaining, you should really act as though you’re going to stay at your current job, which means taking the promotion. Even if you plan on job searching regardless of the outcome of the current opportunity. It’s the best way to protect yourself.

      As for giving advice on how to improve the working situation, don’t wait until you’re walking out the door. You might not be taken seriously or they might not even ask. (I was a little surprised that my last company didn’t schedule an exit interview when I left, considering the high turnover, and the facts that I left on good terms and worked there for almost 10 years.)

  30. Taco Bella*

    Here’s an unsolicited piece of advice for all the management folks out there: Don’t discuss the struggles of owning multiple homes with your very dedicated contractor while they’ve been on a multi-month quest to be brought on full time.

    Grumble grumble.

    1. Anoners*

      Yikes. My friend was talking to her boss about her low rate of pay (she gets paid less than the men on her team, blah blah, legitimate concerns) and she started talking about how she feels the struggle, because she has to put her kids through a special summer school that costs 5 k a month… *blank stare*

    2. Ashley*

      Ugh. One of my coworkers was brought in at a significantly higher salary than me because she “asked for more, even though you probably deserve a higher salary since you are more competent and have a lot more experience” (direct quote from my boss (I do on-boarding so I didn’t have to do anything sketchy to find out her salary, it was given to me)), and she regularly complains about how little money she makes. Sometimes I have to walk away to avoid screaming at her.

    3. Stephanie*

      Blah. Reminds me when my boss was like “I got paid less when I moved into management, but I do now have a pension, a 401(k), and stock options.”

      Meanwhile, I’m a temp with no benefits.

    4. Arjay*

      People can be so tone deaf. I sat near a big boss who was pretty clueless about the job. It was beyond frustrating to listen to his hours of daily personal calls over a 2 month period about the $35,000 “outdoor kitchen” he was having installed. Grr.

    5. Diddly*

      Last bosses would always complain how busy they were, and how they needed to learn to delegate – would also garble the delegation so you just wished they gave you the project from the get-go. Would pop out all over the place whenever they wanted for childcare, family meetings, outings, vacation time, appointments -without warning anyone. Then have extensive vacations and complain they never went on vacation when they got back.

    6. Dynamic Beige*

      Following the crash of 08, a client laid off just about everyone she could, they weren’t full-time employees but contract workers so if you had a project, you stayed, you didn’t, nice knowing you. I was sitting at dinner with her and other team members when she started bragging about what a great deal she had gotten on a retirement home in Arizona. Uh… did you just hear what you said?

    7. Chickaletta*

      Or complain to your unemployed friend how expensive it was to take your family to Orlando for a week and how much work it was to set up your ride fast-pass options online.

    8. zora*

      ugh. Reminds me of the org that was facing massive layoffs (60% of the workers) and paycuts for everyone who was staying.. and the CEO had announced that she was ‘voluntarily taking a 10% pay cut’ to show how much she cared about all of the rest of us for losing our jobs. And we gave our regional manager the (solicited) feedback that hearing about the salaries at the top was really backfiring and making us more angry, that it would really only help if it was more like a 50% paycut. And she said “well, you have to remember, you can’t really understand someone else’s situation, I mean that much of a paycut could really affect someone. Maybe they’d have to give up a second house, or extra car or something….”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Well, she could not use the “let them eat cake” line, that has already been used. She had to come up with something different.

  31. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

    Just venting. I started this job last fall after escaping a highly toxic and unethical work place. During my interview I was told that the office had secured funding for my position for 2, possibly 3 years and that there would be opportunities to move into a more permanent position after finishing my 2-3 years. Now, 9 mos in, my employer is cutting my pay pretty significantly and just revealed that they don’t know if I’ll even have a job after this year is up. That information, coupled with the really horrific management at my location, has me thinking I need to start job searching yet again. This is my third job in 2 years (I left my first after 7 mos because I was so sure that the actually toxic job would be exactly what I’d been looking for.) We’ve moved 4 times in those same 2 years, and each time my husband has to start all over again in terms of work and education. I’m feeling a bit discouraged and like all these short stints on my resume aren’t going to do me any favors in an already very competitive field. We’re expecting our first child in 2 mos and while I’m very excited, I’m also realizing I have absolutely zero stability to offer this baby. What a mess.

    1. Diddly*

      Firstly congratulations on the baby! And I’m sorry for your situation.
      Are you the main bread-winner? Is it possible for your husband to look for more secure work while you take maternity leave – or leave the job to take maternity leave? Could his position be the one you focus on next? And you try and find work that accommodates his work? I’m just thinking that the two of you both having lots of short term positions might make things difficult in future, and perhaps you focus on his career for a little bit, while you give yourself time to think things over about where you go next?

      Not saying this because of traditional roles or anything like that, but it sounds like this is worrying you too and also that your many recent positions haven’t turned out as you hoped.

      But also I’d say that I don’t think this last position will look bad on your CV as you can explain just as you have here that you were told that the position would last 3 years,which you were v excited about, but unfortunately the funding didn’t come through to allow this.
      Or you’re in the useful position of being about to have your first child and can explain – if you decide to leave this role that you stepped away due to taking maternity leave.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        Thanks! I am the primary bread winner. My husband just got a decent job but it doesn’t pay enough to cover all of our bills. We’d actually planned on him staying home with the baby after he’s born but now I’m not sure if I’ll have a job at that point. There are no other organizations in the area that I can even apply to work at so job search means plastering my resume across the state (country?) again and probably planning for another move. It’s hard enough to get the motivation to do this without considering how my impending fmla may complicate getting another job.

        I guess, as annoyed as a I am, I need to just suck it up and start applying for jobs. I feel a bit disappointed in this organization, which has a very strong reputation in the field, and I’m starting to a feel a bit disillusioned with the field in general. Not ready to give up the profession, I love what I do, I’d just prefer to do it in a healthy workplace.

    2. Chickaletta*

      Oh, man. I’m so sorry. I’ve been there, with the moves and job instability while expecting a baby. I can’t say it’s got any better for us, but I hope it does for you. Hang in there.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        Oh no! I was hoping you would say it did eventually get better. I hope it does get easier for both of us, and soon!

  32. EmilyG*

    When starting a new job, you need to know what makes people (direct reports, but also others) tick and what their communication styles are. But how do you find out? (Assume no useful documentation left behind.) Are there recommended probing questions to suss that out? I’m thinking of asking about email/phone/IM preferences as well as asking about a favorite project that went well, to see what they highlight as successful about it.

    1. JO*

      Check out the book The First 90 Days – it is a great, quick read with a very practical approach to getting up to speed in a new job. It walks you through getting to understand the individuals you are working with, and also guides you through understanding the big picture situation in your organization and formulating a plan for going forward.

        1. EmilyG*

          Wanted to follow up and say this book was great! In case anyone ever is digging in this thread later.

      1. Diddly*

        Would be good to know what non-managers should do – the actual direct reports. If you assume the manager isn’t very clear, and you’re meant to get up to speed yourself. (I had a previous manager who refused to train me – said I was smart enough, I could figure it out myself, and no one else in the office knew this role he did…)
        What would you recommend in that scenario?

      2. EmilyG*

        Thanks! I probably saw this entry on some previous dive into the archives and it was tickling the back of my mind.

  33. Excel Slayer*

    Any tips for dealing with the frustration of having a Very Lazy coworker?
    More detail: said coworker (let’s call him Adam) sits at the desk next to mine, but he is managed by a different department. Him not doing his work does not affect my work a good amount of the time (the most distracting thing is when his manager gets annoyed that he hasn’t done his work).
    Last month Adam had an ‘improvement plan’ put in place, which he seemed very worried about. Despite this, Adam still spends a good part of his day on personal calls and surfing the net. This saddens me because I like him as a person, and I know what’s inevitably coming. It also frustrates me because he gets paid nearly twice what I do, yet barely does any work (again, I shouldn’t be getting annoyed over this since something is in hand).
    So – is there any way to deal with these feelings, short of keeping a kitten at my desk?

    1. Diddly*

      Someone’s workplace has a kitten library…
      It’s definitely frustrating when someone’s not pulling their weight and nobody’s doing anything about it, but in this case it sounds like they are. It terms of frustration, my general thing is to step away from my desk – get a cup of coffee, perhaps go speak to a co-worker rather than email them about something. Make sure you get out of work during lunch – go for a walk, meet people etc.
      Also maybe you feel frustrated because you never check the web/take personal calls? So perhaps allow yourself a little leyway on those things (not like him.) As in text a bit, or quickly check news etc, give yourself a five minute break for a job welldone etc.
      But other than that – it depends on what your relationship is. You could ask him about his improvement plan I guess? Maybe figure out what he thinks it means – in case no one has explicitly said if you don’t do this you will lose your job, and maybe gently nudge him that that’s the case. Or better yet tell his manager that you don’t think he understands his job is in jeopardy. But otherwise it doesn’t look like he’s paying attention to his manager so I’m not sure why he’d take advice from you.

      1. Excel Slayer*

        Thanks :). I’m suggesting to my boss that we get a kitten library now!
        I do already give myself some slack with internetting / personal calls, it’s the sheer amount of his that’s frustrating (it’s not uncommon for him to break off talking to someone about a task he needs to do or that he needs them to do to take a call – which I would understand if it was something deeply important, but it never is – a good chunk of the time it’s a spam caller) (weirdly, he never takes calls when he’s on lunch).
        I don’t know if anyone’s explicitly told him that his job might be on the line though (or that his calls/web surfing might not be looked upon favourably by his manager – he isn’t very self aware about this kind of thing). Maybe I could give him a few nudges when there’s no one else about? We’re not really friends, so I don’t think I could ask him outright.

        1. Diddly*

          I’m not sure now, if you’re not really able to ask something like ‘How are you feeling about your improvement plan?’ ‘Or I understand your on an improvement plan, that must be tough? How’s it going?’ Then I’m not sure how you can nudge him?
          Unless you’re like – is it a bit of an easy day? Not much to do – I just noticed you’re browsing the internet a lot…
          Are you googling how to do something? Do you need any help?
          Maybe you’re a better nudger! I tend to be blunt…

          1. fposte*

            My main advice here is going to be to tune it out and let it go. If Adam’s job is falling from his grasp and an improvement plan hasn’t shaped him up, I doubt that what you say will make much difference. Additionally, it’s tough because you really don’t know what has and hasn’t been said to him.

            That being said, I think blunt could work well here: “Adam, you still seem really easily distracted by non-work stuff when work stuff is supposed to be done. People get fired for that around here, and you’re already on an improvement plan. I like you and want you to stay here, so I wanted to say something to you while it still might make a difference.”

            Then let it go and tune it out.

            1. Excel Slayer*

              Yes, you’re very likely right. At least I know he’s not going to hurt for money, which takes a bit of the sting out of it.
              I just hate to watch him descend into getting himself fired while he sits there and makes things worse for himself. I guess it ultimately boils down to me not understanding why he’s acting the way he is at all.

              1. fposte*

                And you probably never will. He may not understand it either. I don’t always understand why I’m messing up or goofing off either, even if I’m pretty sure I’m not doing it to a job-losing level.

              2. MsM*

                It’s possible that deep down (or maybe not even that deep down), he knows the job’s just not a good fit for him. I know my Internet surfing is usually proportional to how much I do not want to be doing the thing I should be doing instead.

    2. Mel in HR*

      I would suggest trying to tune it out and focus on your work. They put him on an improvement plan, but he’s not improving which shows that he doesn’t really care. if he doesn’t care, why should you? I know it’s hard to separate, but ultimately it’s his problem. Unless he starts doing things that distract you, then you should ask him to stop that. And don’t be frustrated. He may be making more than you, but it sounds like it won’t be for long!

      1. Excel Slayer*

        Like I said to fposte above, you’re likely right. I just don’t like it very much. I really wish he did care about the whole thing more (although I bet his manager wishes that far more than me, so at least I’m not the only one).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This is sad. I don’t know why some of the non-producers are some of the nicest people. Maybe that is how they coast through life? Not sure. It’s hard watching a train derail in slow motion.

      Can you turn your chair or your desk so you cannot look over at him easily? Can you stack books or binders so that your view is blocked somewhat?

      These types of situations turn me all introspective. Why does this bother me so? I usually end up with several answers because why would it be just ONE answer? It’s not usually straightforward. But it could be that you have a loved one who is similar and that causes your frustration levels to rise. With me, I go back to my first job where I was told I did not work hard enough. (Skip the part about conflicting directives that could not possibly have had bearing on anything.) So a situation like this would make me think of that story in my life.

      Maybe what you are reacting to is mostly about the pay. Have you gotten/asked for a raise recently?

      Take a look around. Usually frustration has more than one trigger. Use the frustration to help you revisit and reconsider your own setting and your own thoughts on things. Consider this story from various angles and see what triggers you find.

      1. Excel Slayer*

        Although this is a slightly belated update – my boss has agreed to talk to me about my pay! I am hopeful about this. You’re right, I could be reacting a lot to this since I’ve been struggling a bit recently.

        It would be very awkward to try and block my view – the office we sit in is just too small for that. But I’ve been taking a deep breath and reminding myself that the way he works is his decision for the last two day. It’s been helping a little.

  34. Holly*

    Ever just have that one person you can’t seem to like, but you don’t know why?

    Just started at a new company – a thousand times better than my old job. I have a cube in a hallway where pretty much no one goes. The only other person in my area is Rachel*, who’s unhappy that she got moved from her high-social area to here. She never really says anything to me… the only words we’ve exchanged are her chastising me for using the coffee maker behind her, basically, and telling me I needed to branch out and be more social in the rest of the office (I have, actually! but she hasn’t noticed.) People come up to her every single day to chat about how sad it is that she’s in this new area, and whether she can get moved back, and on.

    And I’m being petty, but it’s hard not to develop negative feelings. Like, I get you don’t like being in my area, and you don’t want to bother being friendly to me, goodness. /pouts

    1. JO*

      Well, it seems pretty clear why you don’t like this other person – she’s negative and critical of you. That would definitely make her hard to like.

      That said, you can dislike someone and still be professional and civil. I think the key is not getting into “b*tch eating crackers” mode, where you hate everything they do just because they are the ones doing.

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      There was a quote on the adulting tumblr a while back – “when somebody doesn’t like you and you don’t like them, that’s not a problem, it’s a consensus.” It’s totally fine not to like her. When I give myself permission not to like someone it sometimes help me avoid the bitch eating crackers phase.

      And on a side note I kind of wish I had a cube in a low traffic area. My desk is in close quarters with 10 other people and I like them but it can be really distracting.

      1. Diddly*

        Hehe like that.
        But there are those people where everyone else seems to like them and you just don’t – it’s very strange happened to me a couple of times when I’m like what aren’t I seeing that everyone else is and why can’t they see what I see! Grr!
        But I would say the other problem is all the other people coming to see Rachel while Holly is ignored, that would make me feel crappy – sounds kind of high school, like she’s been put on the unpopular table or something. I’d just make sure you have fun people to talk to outside of work and find the nice people inside of work, who you can go check up on so you can get away from Rachel.

        1. Afiendishthingy*

          Yeah, I get that. but she did also say she has branched out and been social with the rest of the office, and she’s still new, so I’m thinking she will get some decent coworker relationships with time and not have to worry as much about this particular Mean Girl.

        2. fposte*

          I’m going to defend the other people, though–they’re coming to talk to their friend. Holly may become their friend later, but she isn’t one now. It’s okay to want to socialize with your friends rather than everyone in the office.

          Not that Rachel isn’t being a bit of a pill (and it may be she got moved because her socializing was impairing her productivity), but it’s okay to be friends with some people but not everybody at work.

          1. Diddly*

            I meant that Rachel was acting like she got moved to the unpopular table, but I think I missed that Holly was new.

          2. Holly*

            Oh, I don’t have qualms with people coming over and talking to Rachel! It’s more the tone of “don’t you hate being in this spot/can’t you ask to come back?” that keeps coming up, maybe because I’m taking it personally. I know I shouldn’t and that I’m being sensitive but after the sixth time in three weeks it’s becoming “yes I know it sucks being in the same room as me, jesus, I get it.” (we’re the only two people in this area)

            (And I probably wouldn’t feel this way at all if I wasn’t new and struggling to form my own friendships with some of these people, so there’s that personal insecurity at play.)

            But yeah, she’s… not exactly my favorite person in the office right now. She’s the only one I feel that way toward, and everyone else loves her, so I don’t know.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I think that’s not about you–it’s “You used to be sitting next to your friends and they’ve transferred you to the other class, OMG!”

              And “I don’t know” is fine–you don’t have to know on Rachel yet. Somebody else on this post is talking about somebody who was all friendly to the newbie but it turned out friendliness had spikes in it. No need to decide how everybody is right from the get-go.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      They will stop saying that so much in time- probably within a few weeks. Hang tough for the moment.

      You know, coworkers do not have to be friends but they do have to be professional. Part of that professionalism is to be open to conversation, be approachable. I am sorry, but Rachel does not sound approachable. It sounds like she has her group of friends and that is it. She criticizes you for not being friendly? She is an established worker, why isn’t she welcoming you to the company? grrr.

      Find a high road here, where you decide that the main point is to have a professional working relationship. I have worked with people that I could never be friends with and some of them were the best coworkers I have had. You have the work in common. Use what you DO have in common to build some kind of relationship. Finding things in common with people is how we can break through that antagonism.

  35. Elkay*

    I’d like to apologise for my rant from last week. I know it was basically a case of suck it up buttercup and I’ve calmed down slightly since last week. I’m still annoyed that I’m going to have to cover for a job that is really far out of my comfort zone but I get that it is what it is.

  36. Sandy*

    Ugh. I’m starting to get a glimpse of why some people quit so soon after coming back from maternity/parental leave, and it has nothing to do with the baby(ies) in question.

    Workplace politics and endless bureaucratic paperwork. If they weren’t annoying before, they sure as heck are now.

  37. Lizzy*

    So I complained about this 2 weeks ago in the managing unrealistic expectations discussion, but my work place is getting more dysfunctional by the minute. I work for a performing arts organization that is very small and has about 5 people on staff. My supervisor went on maternity leave in late May and there was originally no backup plan put in place. After two weeks with no supervisor, the decision was made that the Board President and the Treasurer were going to supervise staff.

    The problem is they don’t really know how things work and are rarely available. When they are, they constantly berate our work and pick at the tiniest details, yet still expecting for things to be done on time. For example, it took us 2 weeks to get a Save the Date notice out for our fall gala because every time I made revisions on the invite or on the website to order form, the President would get back 24-48 hours later and tell me to change one word or phrase. I would do that and then let her know the website/invite was ready to go, only to have her decide 24-48 hours later that something else needed to be changed. The gala invite is just one of example of what I have to deal with on a weekly basis.

    There was also a recent situation where we were dealing with an overdue grant report from the NEA. It wasn’t in any of my records and no mentioned it to me at all. If we don’t get the report done in the next few weeks, we will be ineligible from applying for future grants until 2020. The grant was submitted 3 years ago and she was even one of the people who worked on it and submitted it. She basically brushed off her accountability and tried pinning this on my predecessors for not having it on record. FYI, there have been 3-4 people in my position in the past 3 years. Turnover is bad, especially for my position and my supervisor’s position. The reason I took this job was because my current supervisor was a beacon of hope for this organization and when she hired me, she told me she had confidence in me that I would be good for this org. We were making strides for the first 6 months, but after she left for maternity leave, I learned firsthand how the Board President excels at driving people away.

    There is also my poor coworker who is in charge of a lot of administrative duties and has to deal with the incompetent Treasurer. He recently admitted to her that he doesn’t know how things work, even after she explained it to him multiple times. Yet everything has to go through him and he also holds things up. Recently, my coworker took it upon herself to pay the rent for our office space because it was overdue and we were cutting it close to the period where late fees were going to be tacked on (and money is so tight that we cannot afford something like that). The problem arose because our supervisor was still taking care of financials until a week ago when it was decided she needed a vacation. She did, however, give my coworker the go ahead to take care of situations like this. Honestly, if my coworker hadn’t reacted promptly and deferred to the Board Treasurer, we would be dealing with late fees and the rent would go unpaid.

    TL;DR: my supervisor went on maternity leave early this summer, but prior to that she had been working hard to fix my organization’s problems and empowered her employees to be part of the solution. However, with the Board President and Treasurer in charge, they berate our work, take forever to get back to us, don’t want to admit what they don’t know (which is a lot), and expect deference for everything, while still expecting us to get things done in a timely manner. If you are wondering, yes, we have tried speaking to them about this and proposed many solutions. They just shrug our suggestions off. And yes, I am currently looking for a new job.

    And now both of these buffoons are going on vacation for most of the month of July, but we are somehow expected to defer to them and get our projects done on time.

    So with all that said, does anyone have any good dysfunctional work stories to share?

    1. Katriona*

      I actually came into this open thread to share/get advice on a very similar story–so thank you, because it’s encouraging to know that other orgs are dealing with this too!

      My story starts out very much like yours, except that we do have someone to cover my supervisor’s maternity leave–and the Board President *still* insists on micromanaging us! This is my first nonprofit job so I don’t know how much board involvement is appropriate or where it’s okay to push back, but we’re also dealing with someone who wants to approve every single detail yet can’t get back to us in a timely manner. He insists on making painstakingly small changes to documents that have already been finalized–and he writes the way he talks, so while he’s a wonderful public speaker, those changes often just end up looking sloppy in print. And while he’s busy breathing down the staff’s neck, the board is doing absolutely nothing.

      I’ve seen him go off on my previous supervisors for questioning him (including a three-hour rant about how awesome he is, in one memorable instance) so I really need to tread carefully, but this is really hurting the organization. Does anyone have any experience with standing up to someone like this in a way that preserves his ego (and my job)?

      1. MsM*

        I’ve found that with board members and unresponsive EDs, it’s really important to spell out the schedule, the negative impact if the schedule isn’t followed, and what your next steps are going to be. “This letter needs to go to the printers by tomorrow, or we won’t be able to get the mailing out in time for the event. Please get me all changes by noon; if I don’t hear from you by then, I’ll assume there are none.” Make sure to give at least 24 hours lead time and at least one follow up if possible. If they still complain about not seeing the email until 1, just tell them you’re sorry, but you had to keep things moving. And keep looking for that new job.

        1. MsM*

          Also, if the board members are big enough big shots to have their own dedicated assistants, make those people your best friends. They can make sure the board member sees your email in a timely fashion, or pass along the message in a way that won’t ruffle any feathers.

        2. zora*

          This. Feedback that is late just doesn’t get considered. Too bad, but that’s what we needed to do or they wouldn’t get printed at all.

          And, if you are looking for a new job, I would say the same on everything else. Managing by committee NEVER WORKS. Never. Ever. So, if Board members are constantly horning in on day-to-day details, that is just not good for the organization and actually getting the work done, and it means they don’t know what they are doing. I would ignore them as much as possible, get your work done to the best of your abilities and check out. Your supervisor knows they are terrible and that they are messing things up and she specifically gave you permission to go around them when something was urgent. Well, as of today you have decided that EVERYTHING is urgent. Oops, sorry, we had to get that done, we didn’t have time to call you, or wait for you to get back from vacation. Too bad, so sad. Everyone important (your supervisor, your coworkers, the community your org serves) will see that the end results are happening when they need to and they won’t care how you had to make it happen. And when your supervisor gets back, she will appreciate that you did that and probably won’t care if the president is pissed. And they are going on vacation for a month!! That is a good thing, enjoy a month free of their BS, and get some stuff done! You just need to care less about what these stupidheads think.

  38. Big Boss troubles*

    I don’t know if I have a question really, it is more of a vent. One of our managers (a peer to me) just retired and despite giving us 6 months notice, because he and Big Boss did not get along, nothing was done to prepare for this. One the one hand, yes, things will get done; on the other hand, the rumors are going crazy and the morale is dragging ever so lower as things remain in such limbo (who for example has authority to decide to hire someone to replace someone who will be out at the end of the month for maternity leave?)

    I don’t know if I was just naive or what but I am becoming so disappointed in BB. He wants people to take the initiative and organically come up with solutions but he never opens the discussion or make that clear and of course, he can make shoot people’s ideas down in about 10 seconds (I found one of our best male employees crying after such a meeting, and while he is still a great employee, he’s also a lot more cautious; BB probably has not noticed it though). Apparently he could not mend his differences with the retiring manager even for the good of the organization; it is becoming ever clearer he can only talk about differences with people who can be fired much more easily or are on yearly contracts. But if that’s your trump card … you are a weak manager.

    I don’t think there is anything I can do, esp. since it’s not my department but we are a small place so it affects all us. I feel like I am just watching the sinking of the Titanic. I am trying to maintain my own professionalism and take care of my employees as best I can but it all feels pretty hopeless. Any words of comfort? Something I could do? I am looking for other jobs.

  39. activelylooking*

    Well, I’ve got two interviews next week! My husband and I are trying to relocate back to our home town, or at least the same region (we’re currently on the east coast, originally from the Midwest), and Thursday I’m flying to CityA for an interview for role 1 and Friday I’m flying to CityB for an interview for a role 2. I’m super excited! Although, when I put in the request for time off, my boss told me “sure thing, as long as you’re not interviewing – I can’t handle this place without you!”…which makes me feel SUPER guilty. I’ve never quit a job for a new job – it’s always been because I’ve moved or graduated or whatever, so this will (fingers crossed) be my first “surprise” resignation.

    now my question: when interviewing for multiple positions, do you tell the companies?

    I’m only traveling for interviews for roles I’m actually really interested in, but I guess I want each place to know that I’m potentially entertaining offers from other companies to speed it along. I wouldn’t bring it up unless it came up naturally, but while phone interviewing yesterday for a third role the hiring manager asked me if I was interviewing anywhere else, so I told her the truth (not specifics, just that yes, I’m interviewing). She still wants to move forward so I guess it wasn’t bad to say?

    1. Delyssia*

      If they ask, I don’t think it hurts to answer honestly, though I’d try to highlight some reasons why I’m particularly interested in working for THIS company. You just don’t want to come across as though you’re desperate and talking to anybody and everybody.

      If they don’t ask, the only time I would bring it up is if you actually have an offer on the table. At that point, you can go back to other companies that are still considering their decision and politely let them know that you have another offer, but you’d still like to work with them and you’re wondering what their timeframe is. (I’m pretty sure Alison has some good wording on this somewhere on the site.)

  40. Hermoine Granger*

    My last permanent marketing position ended last August and I spent until the end of the year just focused on job searching. I’m still job searching but have been working on other things as well. Does it make sense to include these activities in a resume or cover letter and if yes, how?

    I got back into consistently blogging in January which includes creating digital assets and also managing social media accounts. This is on my resume because I’ve been doing it for a few years now and it showcases my writing, content creation, and social media skills. I’ve also been working on a plan to expand the blog into video and possibly events and podcasting.

    I did some part-time volunteer consulting work in January. I helped a small non-profit put together their social media plan, updated some of their marketing materials, and conducted research to put together a proposal for using crowdfunding to create a new source for donations. I volunteered with that organization for about a month before leaving due to their disorganization and the director being overly demanding. I don’t have this on my resume given the length of time.

    Since April I’ve been working part-time in an on-site customer service position for a company that makes apps / devices for cultural organizations. The job doesn’t pay much and I don’t have anything to do with the design of the apps. I just help people obtain the apps / devices and explain how to use them. This isn’t on my resume and I’m not sure that it should be.

    I’ve had interviewers ask what I’ve been doing since my last position. Some are fine with my explanation while I get the feeling that others think there’s something wrong with me job searching for almost a year. I have healthy savings and would like to find a reasonably good job rather than just accepting anything as I’ve done in the past (which led to negative experiences). How can I better address that I haven’t just been sitting on my couch for almost a year?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I always feel like I should try to answer marketing questions, since that’s so much of what I do, but I don’t feel qualified to answer “what should be on my resume or in my cover letter” questions since I don’t know the first thing about job hunting. I only know how I react as a hiring manager.

      So! I will tell you only that.

      If you applied for a marketing job with us, I would look at what you’d be doing most recently on your resume. If the most recent thing on your resume was a year ago, I’d ask myself why. If I saw the part time app cs job as the most recent experience, I’d say “okay, that’s what she’s doing to pay the bills in the meantime, hey look, she’s got experience in cs for apps, she’s tech saavy, I should interview her”.

      Most marketing people don’t come with tech saavy. I think adding that job would help and not hurt.

      1. Hermoine Granger*

        Thanks for replying. Your perspective as a hiring manager is really useful. I want to explain how I’m keeping busy but wasn’t sure if including a gap job would help or hurt. I was concerned that hiring managers might view it negatively or as a sign of desperation and try to lowball me on salary offers. Thanks again!

  41. anonanonanonanon*

    I have a question for all about whether I’m being naive about thinking a job and the money are feasible.
    Long story short, my company was acquired earlier this year and I was one of the minority of employees retained. It isn’t a company I want to work for, so I started applying for jobs immediately. In my city, the part of my industry that I want to do doesn’t have much opportunities, so a lot of my applications have been focused out of state. Recently there have been some family issues that have made me realize I don’t want to move across country and be far away from my family.
    I do have one offer here locally. However, it is basically part-time, with no benefits. The pay is a little less than 50% of my current salary, but I am pretty frugal and have few expenses and I basically live on ~25% of my current salary.
    I’m interested in this position because it would give me some flexibility with my family and allow me to get out of a situation that I do not want to be in with my current company. But I’m concerned that I am underestimating healthcare and other costs.

    Does anyone have any experience with positions without benefits and estimating those expenses? I should note that the position could be reassessed at the end of the year and go to more hours and benefits.

    1. AnotherFed*

      Insurance policies can cost 2-3X as much as you pay currently – definitely shop around and include that in your budgeting. Also don’t forget to think about other benefits – health spending accounts, retirement benefits, and corporate discounts you take advantage of. It also sounds like you’re setting yourself up for a couple of years where you won’t be able to contribute to retirement savings (assuming you’re of an age where that matters and you aren’t expecting a pension of some sort).

      One other thing to think about is whether your expenses will stay the same if you have family issues to take care of – little things can start to add up, so plan some extra room in the budget for that. When my grandmother fell and broke several bones, there were tons of things to cover – making her house handicapped accessible and doing repairs (and buying all the parts and supplies to do those), covering the bills while she was still in the hospital, transport to and from doctors, running errands for her, etc. It was a lot less stressful to know it was covered and focus on her rather than having anyone in the family worrying about when insurance would reimburse something so the mortgage could get paid, and that alone was so valuable in an otherwise crappy time.

  42. Delyssia*

    I’m toying with the idea of requesting a transfer to a different office location with my current employer. I’m currently in DC, and I’m looking at a move to Louisville. I’m pretty sure my boss would approve it (based on colleagues who have moved offices), especially because none of my regular internal clients are located in or near the office I work in now. The move would put me closer to family and in an area with a much more reasonable cost of living than where I am now. Since it would be at my request, I would expect to pay all the move expenses.

    All that said, what should I be researching, considering, thinking about, etc. before I make a decision? Any insight would be appreciated.

    1. Christy*

      I’m considering this too! I’m in DC and thinking about transferring with the government to Kansas City. Here’s what I’m considering:

      1. All but one of my coworkers are remote anyway. My boss is in Tacoma and most of my peers are in Dallas, and everyone works from home most of the time. My one local coworker is deaf, and I don’t know ASL, so we can’t really communicate in person anyway. He also works from home most of the time. It sounds like you’re in a similar situation here. (I’m also in a new office with the government anyway and so I’m not leaving behind old work friend and–I’ve just done that anyway.)

      2. If I actually like the new area. I’m not clear on if you’re from Louisville or if you’ve even been there before. I’m actually in KC right now figuring out how I like it. (Undetermined thus far and I will be posting on the open thread about it later today.) I’m figuring out if my girlfriend and I could actually live here. We’re trying to pick a neighborhood and stuff like that.

      3. Do you like to travel? What is travel like from Louisville? KC being a non-hub and in the middle of the country means that international travel will become slightly more arduous. It has been amazing living near three major airports, including one that is so close and one that is a Southwest hub. You may miss that.

      4. Will you miss the ocean? Will the weather be worse or better for you? Are you a vegetarian? A queer person (I am)? A lover of some kind of art that is more plentiful in DC than Louisville?

      5. Is DC the central, main office for you? Will you miss out on opportunities by transferring to a branch office somewhere else? For me, I know I can always move back and it won’t be a huge deal.

      6. Will you miss your local friends? How about dating? If you’re dating or interested in it, the pools are probably very different in the two places.

  43. Relosa*

    Oooo I have been waiting all week for this! I’m excited, please excuse my ramblyness! But there’s also a question in there at the end!

    SO! I just have to share the good news first: I had an interview on Monday with, well, of course not Dream Job, but we’ll say Ideal Job for Current Career Path. I work in a very odd field and so positions like this open up very rarely, and of course I applied. It’s exactly the type of role I moved out here for, one that I was almost afraid I’d have to start over at the bottom of a company and work in for another 5 – 10 years to acquire. I was honestly on the verge of officially putting this field on the back burner and focusing on something else instead because I was getting so discouraged, and because of the time it would take to get settled into the network out here.

    Wellllllp, anywho, they called me the morning after I submitted my resume, and I cannot believe how amazing the interview was. From the get-go, it was evident that everyone was content with their job and truly happy to be there. It was clean inside and out – backstage and front. I met with the operations director first, and we hit it off right away. He knew two or three people on my references list (+1 for me!) and told me outright about one of the things that impressed him the most on my resume, something that no one else has picked up before and so I was equally impressed with him.

    Afterwards, I also met with the VP of marketing. We also hit it off really well.

    So instead of going over my conversation with him in detail, I’ll just mention all the “Yes, this Interview was Aced!” Checklist:

    1) When I asked about concerns with my experience, both separately said the same thing, and both stressed that they were more looking for fit, and that the one bit of experience I didn’t have is understandably hard to come by in this field

    2) They were selling me the position – both had to stop themselves and make sure they still discussed realities and challenges of the position

    3) Kept adding on more stops and people to meet – I was only interviewed by the two of them (and was originally only scheduled to meet with one) but I was introduced to several others in the office

    4) Made their timeline explicitly clear – and told me from the get-go they were going to check references, and had me submit my background and drug test right away

    5) At the time, they said they only had one other candidate they were talking to (!) though of course in reality they may have contacted others by now

    6) Networking hardcore: they knew everyone I mentioned I worked with at these organizations on my resume, yasssss

    Okay so, I’m trying really hard not to obsess, I did my followup on Tuesday night. Still making myself apply to other jobs but only picked up speed on that yesterday.

    So here’s the one question/concern I have: when we were talking about salary, I insanely low-balled myself. Salary in this field is awful, nobody talks about it, and it’s hard to research and get a reliable number. Since it’s also my first ~professional~ position, I inflated my expected number a wee bit and they still said they started about $20k higher than what I asked for (!). So I’m worried that if I do receive an offer (god I hope I do) that they will slash the salary more and that I’ve lost a lot of negotiating power. They don’t seem to be the type of team to undercut like that, but of course we were both so far off that I can’t but help suspect they’d take advantage of it. Because of a bit of experience that is missing that we talked about, I am willing to take a bit of a cut than what they’d usually start at, but I’ve never negotiated before, because I’ve never been in a position where that was an option.

    If this moves forward, they do plan to move somewhat quickly – any advice on this would help a lot! I’m not sure if helps any but this is very much new territory for me – the most I’ve ever made is about half of what they ball-parked, and this business is a bit “now or never” so tips on how to fairly assert and get a fair price IF I get an offer OR if it comes up in the second interview (I suspect it might) then that’d be great. I’d say it’s the one part of the interview I was really surprised by, and that’s after I prepped, rehearsed, and practiced!

    PHEW this is long. Sorry! So excited about this!!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I honestly think that if they planned to take advantage of you lowballing yourself, they wouldn’t have told you how far off you were from what they expect to pay. They would have just smiled and nodded and offered you what you asked for.

      1. Relosa*

        herp derp, of course the obvious answer I didn’t think about – clearly my n00b is showing.

    2. fposte*

      I think if they mentioned what it is they pay and it was acceptable to you, it’s reasonable to push back if they offer you less: “I was going on the understanding that $60k was your starting rate for this position.” It would seem surprising for them to do, if they were transparent in the conversation already, so I don’t expect that.

      But–if you’ve said you’d take $40k and they offer that standard $60k, it’s going to be tough to negotiate for more. I think there might be a place for candor as long as you can provide a solid reason behind the request: “Thanks. I know $60k is your standard starting practice, and I realize the number I named in our previous discussion was below that–I just wasn’t up to speed on the field yet. Given that my experience is ahead of most start-level employees, is there room for movement to $65k-$70k?” But feel out the room on that.

      1. Relosa*

        The role is a step higher than I originally thought, and even so, the salary they start with is still above the norm, from what little information I can gather about it – but I know this is also because the workload is higher and business never really slows down. So if they offered that base salary, give or take about $5k I’d take it – they said they “start around $X” but not specifically “this is the base salary”. But something lower that’s closer to the median of my price versus theirs is something I’d have to think about.

        1. TootsNYC*

          This is not an indicator for you, but generally when I’m hiring someone I want, and am excited about, I don’t want to low-ball them.

          I want them to come in feeling really appreciated and valued, because then they’ll be ready to work those long hours, put in that extra energy, etc. Especially if those long hours are something we’ve already got out in the open between us.

          I’ve even said to someone, “I’m offering you the top of my range; I can’t go up, don’t even bother asking for more. I’m giving you everything I’ve got because I want you to come in here really excited and feeling strong.”
          And especially because there isn’t often much I can do in the way of true promotions, which I have mentioned as well.

  44. Ali*

    I just want to vent for a minute..not really looking for advice, though if anyone wants to weigh in…

    I am starting to get tired of talking about my job search with some of my friends. This past week alone, I talked to two of them, and they proceeded to say”What is your dream job?” and “You should find what you’re passionate about!” Ugh. I have been searching for a year now and don’t feel I have this privilege any longer. Plus, it makes me feel panicky to think I now have to take all this time to soul search and discover my passions and dreams. I used to be all about wanting to do work I LOVED, as I wanted to work for a hockey team and I love hockey, and all the “dream” to be in sports PR got me was nowhere on the job market and then fired from my media gig when I got burned out and my performance went down the tubes.

    I have been looking for a year, but despite experience in writing, editing and social media, I keep being told there are more experienced candidates available. One employer went on about my impressive experience while rejecting me…but I never even got an interview, so it hurt even more. I’m so impressive yet you didn’t even want to meet me? That might help others, but it doesn’t do anything to make me feel better.

    I almost had a fight with a friend in a good career the other day because she trotted out the old “Oh hang in there; you’ll find something line!” I got frustrated and said that’s easy to say when she’s sitting pretty in her job and making good money. She got mad and told me she works hard for every penny she earns. I always feel it’s a dig at me when I hear people brag about how hard they work to get where they are…because at this point it sounds to me like “I work hard and you don’t hahahaha.” I always find that “You’ll get something!” comes from people who have rarely, if ever, struggled at work. People who genuinely understand how hard it is to get work don’t say that to me.

    I would love to just work as a pharmacy tech part-time, but the pay isn’t great while I’m unlicensed and I have to keep reporting what I earn to unemployment, so that means I have to keep up with job searching and “work search activities.” I don’t want to play the government game anymore and just want to cut myself free from my claim. I am really just over searching and want to focus on the one place that would hire me…after all I’m evidently not perfect enough to work anywhere else.

    1. Ad Astra*

      When I worked in media, it was tough to have work-related conversations with my friends who were in accounting or engineering or whatever because they made way more money, worked fewer hours, had better benefits, and worried less about layoffs. Some of them even loved the work they were doing. I left every conversation feeling incredibly jealous, and a lot of their well-meaning advice sounded condescending to me.

      Part of this is due to the fact that media is a crappy industry. That’s why so many people GTFO after a few years.

      Are you willing to relocate for a job? That can be a huge factor in media. There are jobs out there, but some markets are going to be more competitive than others. I really do think you’ll find something if you keep looking.

      1. Ali*

        I am willing to relocate! I hate my hometown anyway and have a relative living in NYC who was nice enough to let me use her address on my NYC resumes and come crash at her place if I needed to go for an interview. I did get some bites there and am glad I had the chance to interview in such a competitive market. However, two employers dismissed me within 5-10 minutes once they met me because of the experience issue, and the others I never heard from again despite the compliments they gave me on my background, the work I did, etc. I thought I’d even impressed one b/c she was amazed that I bought a last-minute travel ticket to NYC from my hometown. But I guess not being local hurt in the end.

        I feel you on the friends in other fields, though. My one friend majored in finance and got hired at her first choice company right after her college graduation. She’s younger than me, so this was very recent…like two months ago, not even. I have a cousin who did engineering and a now-ex friend who went into physical therapy (we’re ex-friends for non-work related reasons, though) who are both doing great financially and can afford to live on their own, travel a lot, etc.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Yeah, I thought I remembered seeing your LinkedIn and noticing you were somewhat close to NYC. That’s probably the most competitive media market there is, but you know that.

          I have a couple of friends who do social media for SB Nation part time, and I think they might be hiring now? I can’t remember how long ago I saw the listing, so I’m not sure. And that’s remote work. Other than that, I think all my contacts work in the Midwest.

    2. Steve G*

      I’m with you, I’m with you. I don’t discuss my job hunt anymore, period. Also, you are right that many people just got lucky with their career paths and growth opportunities and job titles (I keep meeting 20-somethings with Manager and Director titles, but NEVER worked anywhere where anyone under approx. late 30s was a Director, so yeah, I am jealous! Because they can take that job title somewhere else and get another higher level job based on that title, meanwhile at places I worked, people did high level work but without fancy titles) and can’t emotionally relate. That doesn’t mean they are bad sources of information though (if that is what you want).

    3. Diddly*

      Know what you mean, it does hurt and people do feel superior (or come across as superior) if they’ve got a job and discuss it while you haven’t, especially as usually their job attaining process was easy and years ago . The working hard for every penny you earned is a bit mean, but maybe your friend saw it that you were saying their industry was easy or her job was cushy. Whereas you saw it as being berated. I think hang in there – is just the go to thing to say, while you’re frustrated and tired the other person is just trying to say comforting things rather than anything significant.
      Can you step away from the job search for the moment and perhaps temp for awhile? As a temp I ended up in quite a few marketing roles, perhaps something similar could happen to you – you go in the back door – or you gain more experience to get your ‘ideal job’. Or you can apply internally for other roles.

      1. Ali*

        Honestly I don’t know if I want to temp. My pharmacy tech gig is part time but classified as permanent, and I’d hate to jump ship for a temp job. I did a staffing agency once, but of course I didn’t have enough experience for the one marketing job available. Temp agencies where I live are mostly looking to fill call center and warehouse work. Plus, techs are seen as in demand. I guess I’m just tired of looking and think that this tech job is as good as it’s going to get.

        1. Diddly*

          I know the tired of looking feeling. I was going to say give yourself a break, but I don’t really understand how unemployment works in the US. Can you survive off of it for awhile? And then are you allowed back on when you feel better looking?

          1. Ali*

            Unemployment in the US varies by state, so there’s not one set of unemployment federal laws. In my state (Pennsylvania), you have to prove you were looking for work and keep track of your job search records, though they say to only send your work search record to unemployment if asked. If you work enough to earn a certain amount of money in a week, you only need to apply for one job that week. Otherwise, it’s apply to two jobs and do a “work search activity” (which classifies as going to job fairs, events at our ever-useless career center or talking to former colleagues about jobs), or apply to three jobs and skip the activity portion. The career center has nothing of use for me and I hate networking (I’d rather go to the dentist), so I usually just apply for at least three jobs a week. If you close your claim and reopen it later, you have to answer a good amount of questions about what you were doing in the meantime.

    4. Chickaletta*

      It sucks. Part of it is luck, serendipity. People with nice paying jobs don’t want to admit that, they want everyone to know that it’s all hard work that got them good jobs, and sure that counts, but it’s also luck. I’ve been on both sides, I know people on both sides, that’s why I know it’s true.

      Also, “dream jobs” might not pay the bills. I got some good advice late in life, so it’s very hard for myself to make it work, but if you’re younger then take heed: Don’t ask yourself what your dream job is, ask yourself what your dream lifestyle looks like. Then find out what job you need in order to make that lifestyle a reality.

      1. Dan*

        I’ll be the first to admit it, and strangely, when I do, people tell me not to sell myself short. I work in a tiny industry that can be very cyclical.

        1) I’m lucky that I was born good at math. Pretty much all of the top paying careers at the BS level require somebody with some decent math/logic/critical thinking skills/aptitude. (I don’t really “do math” much these days, but I rely on those left-brained skills every day.)

        2) I’m lucky that employers in “my field” actually have jobs available when I’m looking. I’m also lucky that they call me for interviews. I feel like that even for the ones I’m perfectly qualified for, I only get calls about half of the time. So I feel lucky just to get an interview.

        3) I’m also lucky that I like my job. Few people in this country do, so that actually makes me lucky. Or so I think.

        FWIW, wages have nothing to do with hard work and effort, but everything to do with supply and demand of the workforce and labor. My field has to pay what it does, precisely because I *can* go find another job without a ton of effort. Fields that pay poorly do so because “if you don’t like it, we can replace you tomorrow.”

    5. Dan*


      What do you actually expect your friends to say to you?

      Second, please keep in mind that friendship is a two-way street. If you’re going to “almost get into a fight” with someone who tells you to “hang in there” why would they want to be your friend? It’s hard to be friends with people who choose to take comments with malice when malice wasn’t intended. I guarantee you that “hang in there” isn’t code for “I work hard and you don’t haha” If that’s the way you choose to take statements like that, that’s a problem that has to be solved from within, and not your friends’ doing. Until you get that under control, you’re right in that you might want to not talk about job searches with your friends.

      BTW, don’t read anything into rejection letters. They tell you that to soften the blow… works for most people, although, like you, I couldn’t care less. My credentials *aren’t* impressive if you haven’t bothered to interview me.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Agreeing with Dan here. Most rejections are boilerplate form letters; don’t read anything into them.

        Also agreeing with Dan on the friend issue. Are you bringing up your job search with these friends? If you are, you can’t really blame them for saying things that they hope will be supportive. If they’re the ones bringing it up, just tell them you want to focus on something more fun while you’re with them and pretend the job search is happening.

        “Hang in there” is someone trying to be kind and supportive. I’d be pretty put off if I tried to be nice to a job-searching friend and she told me that was easy for me to say when I’m sitting pretty in a job. That’s … not a very nice thing to say to someone who’s trying to be nice to you (or to anyone, really). You’ve noted here before that you do feel resentful of friends who seem to get jobs easily, and maybe that resentment is coming across to them? If so, that can be really tough to take on the friend’s side.

        1. Christy*

          Perhaps you could talk to a third party about your job search? It sounds like you might be at the point with your frustration that you might benefit from seeing a therapist for a few sessions, just so you can complain about the job search and work on your resentment towards your friends. (I’m sorry if this is overstepping. I’ve been on therapy for two years and it has been life changing.)

  45. CollegeAdmin*

    Anyone use a yoga ball as a desk chair at work? Do you like it? I find that I’m slouching at my desk and I’m wondering if that will force me to sit up straight.

    (Also, did you bring it to work inflated, or inflate it there, and if so, how?)

    1. Delyssia*

      I use a yoga ball desk chair (the kind with the wheely base). The best thing I find is that if I sit too long, my butt starts to go numb, so it forces me to get up every so often (every hour or two, not ridiculously often). At first, I found that I sat with wonderful posture on it. But I’ve since discovered the ability to slouch in increasingly creative ways on the yoga ball chair. I think the biggest factor in that is that I want to rest my arm on something, and I have no arm rests on the chair, so I lean over to rest my arm on the desk (it’s kind of L-shaped, so I have desk alongside and in front of me).

      Overall, I like it, but it doesn’t help in the ways I expected.

      And mine is a long-term borrow, so it was already inflated when I claimed it, so I have no help to offer there.

    2. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

      I tried using one for a while but found it wasn’t at an ideal height for my desk. I keep it around so I can switch things up but ultimately ended up buying a back support pillow for my regular desk chair (not as cool as a yoga ball but it’s very comfortable!)

    3. AnotherFed*

      I use one when I hot desk in our test area. It’s comfy, and no one there cares that I bounce incessantly while I use it, but I’m only there for a max of a few hours at a time and not trying to use it with a real desk, just observing tests or doing test-related paperwork. It also says something that it is the guest seating, not the permanent chair of any of the people who work in that area.

      Some yoga balls can be squeaky, so you might want to pre-inflate and test it at home to make sure you aren’t going to be driving your coworkers nuts with every tiny movement.

    4. fposte*

      I’ve used one sometimes; I might go back to it for a bit. I don’t think it would work as my single and only sitting place, but I’m lucky enough to be able to move around between sitting options.

      There are inexpensive plastic footpumps that are usually sold alongside the balls; if you have a corner at work where you could spend 5-10 minutes pumping (it’s a little wheezy, so you want to be out of the main workstream) that would work fine.

  46. Elfie*

    Ok, I’m in serious need of advice. I’m looking for a new job, because my current job is a really bad fit for me culture-wise, so bad, in fact, that I was off for three months with depression earlier in the year. I’ve been back at work for six weeks, but I still hate it, and basically I’m desperate to get out.

    I have an interview in just over a weeks time (with a company that – on paper – looks to be a great fit for me). My question is, how soon in the interview process should I mention that I was off sick (if at all?) For context, I’m in the UK, and would have to give three months notice at my job (fairly standard for this type of job and level). My company would make me work it, too, so it would be almost six months of being back at work before I started anywhere else.

    I know employers want to know if there is anything that could affect your ability to do the job, and since I was off with depression I can’t honestly say that it would never crop up again. However, I’ve had it for over 20 years, and this is the only job where it’s ever been a problem. I’m now seeing a counsellor and on anti-depressants, and I’m much more open with the people around me (both professionally and socially) about what I’m going through. I feel stronger (not better, I don’t think I’ll ever get better) and I’m doing everything I can to keep mentally healthy, so I don’t think it will affect me any more in the workplace, but I can’t guarantee it. What does everyone think? All advice and opinions welcome!

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think you need to mention it, unless you need some accommodations (like leaving early every Tuesday for an appointment) – if that’s the case, mention it when you get an offer. If you were diabetic or prone to kidney stones, you wouldn’t mention it, right?

      1. Elfie*

        I wouldn’t even think to mention it, except for the fact that part of Currentjob’s hiring process was documented proof of all sickness absence and reasons for the previous two years.

        1. AnotherFed*

          That sounds like a massive red flag. It strongly implies that they would make hiring decisions based on disabilities, and it’s just a pain – who gets a doctor’s note for every cold or migraine or stomach bug?

          1. TheLazyB*

            It’s the norm in the UK to ask, and I’m pretty sure they can’t use it to discriminate…. if you have a disability. I remember looking it up when I was worried about my sickness record of anxiety and depression :( if you have a union ask them?

          2. Elfie*

            I should have taken it as a red flag, considering how toxic the environment is, but I was naive. Maybe I’ll stick to only mentioning it if asked.

        2. Colette*

          If that’s the norm, then I’d mention it when they ask – I don’t see a need to proactively mention it. I suspect you want to go for factual and calm. Many, many people have chronic illnesses.

    2. misspiggy*

      Don’t mention it proactively, especially to the hiring manager. If HR ask, they will have the training and legal understanding to take your answer without prejudice. And by that point, it’s likely that the employer will be at the stage of wanting to offer you the job, so they will be more invested in you.

      Also, it actually looks much better to have had one period off sick rather than lots of intermittent sick leave. You could also ask your doctor for advice on how to constructively word the description of your illness on the form.

  47. GS*

    I work in a home health and our home has been close with another one on the area run by the same agency. We have done favors for each other plenty of times, as our houses used to be run by the same supervisor. The other day, I needed help and the worker there told me they are not allowed to do favors for other houses now as per their supervisor. My coworker told me we are now not helping them at all.

    My issue is, I don’t want to play this game. If a favor is in my ability, I feel that I should do it because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want to get involved with this mess. I’m leaving in a month so I won’t be here much longer anyway. Their supervisor agreed to be my reference, as the other higher ups are not trustworthy. I’m sure he still wants to vouch for me, but it puts me on a tough position at work, as I do not want to follow a coworker’s instructions, but my direct supervisor is on vacation and I’m not sure going to the fill-in is the best idea. Do I just suck it up? Or bring it to management?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I usually go with no changes until I hear the word from the boss. Since you are only going to be there a month longer, I would go ahead and do as normal. When your boss comes back, if she tells you otherwise, then deal with it at that point.

  48. BizzieLizzie*

    Worried my new employee is a Know-it-all or worse just a PITA

    My new employee (4 weeks in) – is showing some annoying traits. Several niggly things really – just getting under my skin a bit.

    NIGGLE SCALE OF 1 (low) TO 10- used:)

    Example as his manager – I pre-ordered him a company laptop, standard issue. Same laptop as everyone else in his type of role.
    On week 2 he asked me that ‘did I know’ that there ‘was an option for a MAC’ and that he would have preferred a MAC.

    I explained that I did indeed “know”it was an option, but that I would not have authorised a MAC , because the reason everyone in this role is assigned a PC is that not every version of our software works for a MAC.

    OK. NIGGLE FACTOR = 2. (A bit forward, but OK with me for someone to have a preference.)

    Today (week 4) – I get long long email which is essentially outlining in detail about how he has tried using the software on his personal MAC, it works just great! And future versions will also work on a MAC & Macs are so much better & for reasons a, b, c, d…x, y, z.. (Except it took 500+ words in his email)

    Now. NIGGLE FACTOR = 8.
    I feel this comes across patronising.

    I don’t know why this is getting under my skin – usually I’m fine with employees or colleagues questioning or challenging. I suppose what gets me is I just don’t see what he is hoping to achieve by this essay – other than correcting me.

    (Note I stand by my original reasoning for ordering the pc….. if he ever needs to drop back a version on his MAC he’ll have some limitations. I don’t know everything, and can & do make mistakes, but as background I have 10 years experience in this software, he has 4 weeks)

    Comments welcome! Maybe I’m the PITA:)

    1. Steve G*

      For reference, how old is he. I know, I know not all 22yo’s are clueless at work, but I was wondering if its possible that he is close to entry level and just doesn’t know how to ask for and justify what he wants/needs.

      Also, some people don’t come from environments where they are taught how to behave. I had a 24yo coworker who thought he was God’s gift to the world and didn’t do real work, but picked all of these pet projects that had no real impact but looked cool. He did “weird” things (for our office anyways) like spend hours picking project management software to streamline processes when he only had like 10 non-intense projects, or automating processes that didn’t need to be automated. One of his parents was a higher up so everyone was afraid to say anything.

      But yeah, I’d be annoyed too!

      1. BizzieLizzie*

        He’s mid 30’s….but I maybe because I’m older (45) he might worry ‘the old lady doesn’t get it:)

    2. Elfie*

      Well, unless it’s his job to evaluate how your software works on a mac, I’d say he’s the one being a PITA. I know people like this – generally they’re already Apple fanboys and just can’t see why everyone else isn’t. If you’re confident that your reasoning is valid, then I’d tell him to cut it out – but I’m not a people manager because I would probably suck at it! If you want to give him a bit more leeway then ask him to make a business case for a mac over the kit he has – and just because he prefers it isn’t good enough.

      1. BizzieLizzie*

        Yes agreed. There is no busisnss case & the corporate policy is once you have your laptop – no reordering for 3 years unless it breaks of course & can’t be fixed

        1. JO*

          Didn’t see your comment before I commented, so that does shut down a lot of your options.

          But I CANNOT imagine trying to work on a 3 year old laptop! I hope you don’t do anything computationally intensive!

          1. fposte*

            I’m guessing you’re in graphics or video or something resource-intensive? Our computers get changed every five years, and I don’t think I’ve ever retired a personal laptop earlier than that; for the Office Suite stuff that’s the bulk of our work that’s fine.

        2. Diddly*

          That seems a reasonable way to shut it down and also say that office wide you use PCs (it’s difficult to work between the two in my experience also in an old place I worked the IT department only had one person who knew how to deal with Macs, was a massive pain…)
          Macs are also more expensive.
          Apple fanboys are just weird and obsessive (to generalize…)

          But he’s being ridiculous and looking silly. You might say I understand you might prefer a Mac but this is company policy and there is no leyway.

    3. JO*

      Oy, yeah that’s irritating, and unless his job is doing Apple vs. Microsoft research, writing a huge long email about it is probably not a great use of his time.

      However – it is possible this guy just is more comfortable using a Mac, and he may have certain workflows and approaches that are Mac-centric. Some Apple nerds get really into using apps to highly customize the way their computers work and make themselves more efficient as a result. This is particularly true for people doing programming or creative work. It can be hard for people to say as new employees, “I’m less comfortable with this computer and I would work better with a different computer.” Instead he’s trying to show that the Mac is objectively better, but it kind of sounds like he is stressed about having to use a PC. If swapping the PC out for a Mac would be no big deal, then it might be worth it to have a discussion about his discomfort with the PC and swap out computers. “I can see that the type of computer you use if really important to you. Do you find that you are more efficient on a Mac?” If you make it about him and his preferences and skills, rather than whether PCs or Macs are better, it could be a good way to build trust. The key thing here is not that you are “giving in” or something, but that as his manager you are understanding his needs and giving him the tools he needs to be as good as possible at his job. Whether this approach will work probably depends a lot on your organizational culture.

      If changing computers isn’t an option, I would ignore the email, and if he tries to bring it up again just refocus him on the actual priorities of the work and refuse to engage about whether he should have a different computer. “You have been very clear about your computer preferences, but this department uses PCs and right now I need you to focus on $WORKTHING.”

      PS – MAC isn’t an acronym, so it doesn’t need to be all caps.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I’ve had people be annoying about MACs also. Or the size of the screen for their PC. Or their office chair. Or how much light their desk does or doesn’t get. Or whatever.

      If people email me annoying things, I usually ignore their emails after I’ve responded with finality one time. I’m too busy for that crap.

      If I ignored dude’s subsequent emails and he then wanted to continue to talk about MACs face to face, I’d shut it down with “you don’t need to explain how MACs work to me. We’re not providing you with a MAC. I don’t want to talk about this again” (more or less).

      It is *possible* this is the only subject he will be annoying about. Unlikely, but possible. So shut it down or ignore and see how anything else pans out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So much this. OP, I think you could have a labor intensive employee on your hands. Shut it down. Firmly. Tell him he cannot waste company time putting things on his own computer. Tell him you only read the first four lines of email and the rest gets deleted. (Don’t let him feel he can email massive explanations to you on a regular basis.)
        Remind him that he has been here four weeks and he needs to learn why things are the way they are BEFORE he starts making suggestions. And remind him he was not hired to revamp the entire workplace, because this sounds like where he is going with this.

        If he continues in this manner he will be detriment not a help to your group.

    5. AnotherFed*

      I’m a pretty big fan of telling people why their good idea is not feasible or going to happen so that they understand it’s a thought out decision and they hopefully can make a better judgement about the next good idea before bringing it forward (and you probably don’t want to completely squash the good idea fairy). If you feel like taking this route, you can explain (ONCE) that just because he’s tried it mostly kinda sort of on his Mac, that does not mean that the overall software package has been verified to be stable or error free on a Mac, there are known limitations and issues with previous versions that he might also need to use, and your IT support is prepared for the software and operating system combination he was provided. You are not paying him to develop a full suite of testing to determine complete compatibility, and you are not giving anyone else at the company time on the clock to even answer questions about how he might do such a thing because it is not in the budget and there is an acceptable solution already.

      If he keeps pushing it, though, shut him down like Wakeen suggested.

    6. Jen RO*

      This reminds me of one of my employees, and yes I do get the annoyance… he’s basically saying that you don’t know what you are talking about. Whether he meant it like that or he’s just bad at communicating… hard to say.

    7. fposte*

      I think SteveG is right, regardless of the guy’s age; he doesn’t know how to ask for what he wants so he’s doing it in a very irritating way.

      I would be direct, probably face to face at this point. “I’ve said no to a Mac. That’s a firm no. You’re required to work on the company-provided computer, and that won’t change because of any new information about Macs, so please don’t send any more emails on the topic. Additionally, if you wish to question my decision, I would ask you to be direct about it; sometimes I can make changes, so it’s worth asking, but ask directly and then let it drop when I’ve said no. Is that something you think you can do?”

    8. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      1) He’s showing insubordination by directly objecting to your position and arguing for his.
      2) He downloaded company software onto his personal device, which has to be a violation of some kind.

      How new is he? I might go ahead and punt him based on these behaviors alone – and especially for the security violation. If he downloaded software, will he download company data?

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Yeah, testing the software on his personal computer was a giant red flag for me. Unless he individually licensed the software, that’s just a glaring lapse in professional judgement, even if he was “just trying it out.”

        You need to give him a “No,” not a “No, because” since he seems the type to take that as an invitation to find a solution to the “because” and circle back to you.

      2. fposte*

        I did wonder about the software thing–I was thinking that he had himself acquired the Mac version, though, since he couldn’t just have copied it off of Windows machines.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          I admittedly didn’t think of that. I am a PC (and I love John Hodgman).

          If dude has his own version on his Mac and loves his Mac so, could he work on company files on his personal devices – would those files be compatible? Because now my concern would be that Egghead would work on his Mac instead of the company-issued laptop (which has stricter admin rights and network security controls than the Mac).

          I dunno. I assume a lot. But his overall tone strikes me funny, especially as a four-week employee with that severe of a superiority complex. I think I’d still punt him while I had the chance before he gets bolder.

    9. Ad Astra*

      I’m a big fan of Apple products and would always prefer a Mac to a PC because they’re flat-out better. But I don’t need a Mac, and it sounds like this guy doesn’t either, so both of us should just shut up and deal with it. He’s being a PITA.

      1. Chickaletta*

        Same here. I have a Mac at home and for my last three jobs I worked on a Mac. Personally, I really like them. If I had to work on a PC it would be weird since I haven’t operated one since about 2005, but I would never dream of telling my boss what kind of machine to order for me. If my next job has a PC, then I’ll use a PC. Whatever. There’s no reason this person needs a Mac, they’re just being unadaptable.

    10. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

      I’ved used both PC and Macs for work; as long as the software I needed ran properly on it, I didn’t care which platform it was. It’s just software.

    11. MsM*

      “New Employee, perhaps I haven’t been clear enough. I appreciate that you prefer Macs, and perhaps if future versions do iron out the problems we’ve encountered over the years, we’ll revisit the issue. For the foreseeable future, though, I’m going to need you to accept that PCs are a requirement for this role and turn your attention toward getting comfortable with that.”

      I sympathize with the guy; I got my first work Mac earlier this year, and discovered that I like looking at them a lot more than using them. But he needs to understand that this isn’t negotiable, and you’re not going to debate it with him.

  49. Kmizzle*

    I just got hired into a great company in a position that is perfect for me (thanks to AAM for all the help on here!!!)! However, let me start this off by saying my ex interviewed and was chosen second twice by this company a year ago and my “F You” to him was to get a job there. However, I found out that not only does his uncle work in the corporate building too, but he will also be working in the same section and is a few cubicles down from where I’ll be. How should I approach this situation? Wait for him to notice (if he even does)? Go up to him and agree to be professional on all fronts? Or just try to not speak to him at all?

    1. BizzieLizzie*

      Hi Kmizzle

      I sympathise, my ‘F You’ to my ex was to go on a mad gym & diet regime before turning up at an event I couldn’t avoid that I knew he’d attend with his new, 10 years my junior, slimmer, silicon chested girlfriend. She still looked better than me & of course I ate like a savage the following week – but hey I held my head high, smiled & acquitted my self fine on the night in question.

      Anyway – same for you – to fully accomplish a ‘F you’ you need to treat the Uncle EXACTLY like everyone else who works there. Anything different & you reverse the F you effect.
      Good Luck.

  50. Fawn*

    Ugh. So I cried at work this week. Like full on sobbing. Fortunately/unfortunately, it was just in front of my very kind, very human manager, so the damage wasn’t too extreme, and I left for the day right away. Honestly, I had just taken a medication with a huge punch of hormones the day before, and I was a complete mess – when she asked if I was okay (I was having some stomach issues as well, and I must have seemed off) I just broke down. I assured her it wasn’t work related, and excused myself. I thanked her for the compassion the next day, and left it at that, but I’m still extremely embarrassed by how random it must have seemed to her (I mean, it was surprising enough to me) – there was no negative feedback or bad news to trigger it. Part of me wants to explain what was going on, because we have a pretty open office…but on the other hand, I also think that I should just let it pass. What would you all do?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would do exactly what you did. Your boss sounds very, as you say, human– so I don’t think you have to sweat it. My very favorite thing about my boss is when he once asked me if I was ok and I completely lost it, he smiled and moved on. I would have done the same in his position, because sometimes we just lose our s**t for various reasons.

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      Yeah, you’ve addressed it already, let it be. I think I have cried at least once at every job I’ve ever had and it is embarrassing but not the worst thing that could happen. My sympathies, though!

    3. Ad Astra*

      I think you handled it the right way, especially with following up to thank her and letting her know it wasn’t about work.

      She probably assumes something upset you in your personal life, and she probably prefers not to know what, exactly, that is. Unless you foresee an ongoing problem (and it sounds like this was a one-time thing), I wouldn’t bring it up again.

  51. Lionness*

    So, I need some advice.

    We just did yearly reviews and pay increases. One of my top workers came to me disappointed in his raise. Unfortunately, raises are non-negotiable (although based upon merit) at his level. He is an absolutely phenomenal worker and I advocated for a high raise for him. However, the company just had a very large expense and so raises were on the smaller end this year (although he was at the top of the raise scale).

    I listened to his concerns, did what I could to show him he was valued and talked about how he can continue to provide this feedback and how I can continue to advocate for his progression. But…I feel like there is something more I should do. I really can’t get him more money. I did push for an award for him that earned an extra paid day off (on top of an already generous PTO amount that is above the norm for our department) and I am working to get him more challenging and rewarding projects.

    I guess I’m just wondering what you would want if you were in his shoes. What else can I do to show him I value his work and contributions to the team?

    1. AnotherFed*

      For me, the biggest thing is to be open and honest about things like raises and promotion potential. It would help most to understand the explanation about overall raises you included in your discussion – I can’t tell if you shared that with him or not. Whatever you do, don’t oversell your ability to get him something like a better raise or a promotion in the next cycle. Listen to him about where he wants his career to go, and help him get there by giving him assignments and sending him to training/development opportunities that build towards what he wants to do.

      1. Lionness*

        I was really clear with him that I can’t promise that I can get anything different in the next cycle, but I can advocate for him and provide a fair view of his performance and value to the people that do make those choices. I also gave him a few outlets where feedback is solicited regarding pay at our company (including fully anonymous routes, if he chooses) so he can provide direct feedback. Finally, I did tell him that he was at the top of the raise bracket for this year.

        He is an interesting employee. He doesn’t want advancement. He came to us after holding much higher positions and he hated them. He assures me he wants a good job that he can enjoy and be challenged at, but that he can leave behind at the end of the day – and that is what he has now. I just hope I can keep him challenged and feeling valued because he is really great at what he does and I’d hate to lose him.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      To start off with have you thought about if he deserve more money and are his complaints justified, what’s the market rate for the job he’s doing?

      I’ve been in a similar situation of being unhappy with not getting a raise once year, when I was massivly underpaid. I tried to talk to my boss about it and he ignored and fobbed of the conversation for months he just would not discuss it with me so talking about it is a big step toward handling this rignt.

      Training is always something worth talking about I wanted some technical training in lieu of a pay rise once year my boss didn’t go for it, is your training budget spoken for or could you give him a big share of that to use?

    3. zora*

      Trainings/Professional Development? Acknowledgment within the org? Some workspace perks? Just continue being an awesome manager? ;o)

  52. GMA*

    I will soon be interviewing for a job that I really want in a city department. Unfortunately, that department has had serious morale problems in the last few years – significant enough that the newspaper wrote a story about it a few months ago! My understanding is that much (but not all) of the low morale is due to overwork. Staffing levels were cut by almost 50% after the recession, and even though the workload has since rebounded, the staffing levels hadn’t. Now they’re in the middle of a hiring binge to bring staffing levels back up. Is the morale problem something I can/should ask about in my interview? I am in contact with someone who is in a very similar role, and who is the one who originally told me about the position, so if it’s not appropriate to ask in an interview, I could ask her. I may be way overthinking this, so let me know if that’s the case.

    1. fposte*

      Well, you can definitely ask your contact. I think if the morale problem was written about in the newspaper recently, it’s on the table enough to bring up in an interview, but figure out what it is you want to know about it so you’re not just asking “Hey, is everybody miserable and will I be too?” What is being done to meet the challenge? What effects are the changes having? What would be good for a new employee to know on this front?

      I also think if they have a problem with being asked that, that’s a bad sign about how they’re dealing with it.

    2. Melissa*

      I had heard vague reports about one of the companies I interviewed for having terrible work/life balance, so I asked that question directly – “How is the work/life balance in this role/at this company?” – in a phone interview. The key is to listen closely to the way the question is answered and not just the answer itself. In my case, the interviewer danced around it weirdly – she kept saying that people worked hard and long here because we love it! Which to me was code for “yes, our work/life balance is out of whack a bit,” but also the more underlying tone that everyone has to either be or really act like they are totally into the party line of being super passionate about the work. The company wasn’t a nonprofit and isn’t representing any sort of charitable mission or something, so it was really kind of weird.

      So I’d ask a question worded like that. After all, an interview is about a mutual discovery of whether the role is a good fit. They still advanced me to the next stages despite me asking, so I’m assuming that the asking of it wasn’t terrible (and I asked the question in another interview process and was offered the job).

      Another set of questions I asked that might get at it were “What is the culture like here/on this team?” and “What is it like working with the team I’d be on?” For the last person I interviewed with at the job I got the offer from, I asked him why people typically left when they left the position. He’d already acknowledged that the reason they were hiring is because several of people had left recently. So maybe those questions might also get at what you want, without directly saying “I heard your morale sucks. Is that true?”

      1. Stephanie*

        You were interviewing at tech companies, right? I interviewed for two different roles at Zuckerberg Land and I picked up that yeah, work-life balance is out of whack there (neither role was even in the Silicon Valley office) and you have to have this almost evangelical belief in “the platform” (one interviewer kept calling it that). When I asked about my interest in working there, I said something like “Yeah, it’s really fascinating to see how it changed from this fun distraction in college [my college was one of the first few back in 2004] to the force it is today” and the interviewer latched on the first half like “How dare she say this is less than game-changing or disruptive!” and I think I pretty much sealed my fate from there. (Interview also turned out to be a bunch of case questions and brain teasers, when I prepped for a behvioral interview, so it was kind of a disaster all around.)

        I also interviewed at the HQ of Everyone’s Favorite Job Search Site (I have a sort-of eclectic background that has attracted disparate employers during this search). Same deal. No work-life balance unless you considered working lots of hours and/or hanging out with colleagues your non-work life. And again, lots of breathless talk about “game-changing platforms.”

        I interviewed for a role on a consulting team in the advisory practice of a Big 4 Firm. They were blatantly honest about long hours and frequent travel. Everyone I met with there asked if I’d be ok with lots of travel and extra hours in very straightforward terms. But they were the exception.

        Like Melissa said, a lot of it is reading between the lines. How they respond to that question and what they don’t say in the response is almost as important as what they do say.

        1. Melissa*

          Yes, at tech companies, and yes, that in part differentiated the role I really wanted (and got!) from the role that I would probably take but not stay in. One of the companies was definitely like the one you described – we! love! the! work! We’re changing the world!! Our CEO is so great! It was a little grating, honestly, particularly coming from the team I was interviewing for (basically, an in-house consulting position that would be tasked with doing research to improve processes in the company, a position that I think should come with a healthy amount of skepticism). I kind of toed the party line a little bit in my interview – saying the right buzzwords, and they latched onto it. It felt icky, though, because I don’t think there’s anything potentially world-changing about the product this particular company is turning out.

          I tried to prepare for both behavioral interviews and those weird brain teasers. I’d read that a lot of companies like Search Giant had dropped their brain teaser questions for more behavioral ones because they weren’t working – they had absolutely no effect on getting people who could do the job (DUH). What I was pleasantly surprised to find is that a lot of tech companies are using problem-solving interviews in all sectors of their hiring and not just software/coding. You know how they’ll ask potential software developers to write code that solves problems? My interviews were all for behavioral research positions, and they would ask me to plan research projects to solve particular problems with certain parameters (time, money, etc.) It was fun, and also gave me an insight into the kinds of problems I would actually be working on, and they generally pulled them from actual work they’d done in the past. I also got some behavioral questions.

          And ha, I probably would’ve said the same thing about the Zuckerberg Thing, and also tanked. My college joined it in early 2005 and I have repeatedly thought the same thing about the product when it celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. Ugh.

          1. Stephanie*

            I actually don’t mind case questions (brain teasers, I find a little grating, but I can tolerate them)…just not when I get them without warning. Since I hadn’t prepped for those types of questions, I just ended up rambling, which is bad during a phone screen. I had interviewed at Zuckerberg Land once before and it was all behavioral, so it threw me for a loop when I got a case question. I actually prefer doing case questions or exercises to a bunch of behavioral questions.

            It is weird how Search Giant and Zuckerberg Land seem to be creating the modern equivalent of company towns (“We’ll provide your transportation to work! We’ll feed you! We’ll have your whole life revolve around this company! We’ll want you to believe in this company/product to an extreme degree!”) Zuckerberg Land is building housing, apparently.

            I work at probably the diametric opposite of a tech company now (uh, we just got rid of a dot matrix printer like a year ago, apparently) and it’s interesting seeing how they approach interviews. Much more matter of fact, no talk of the service being “game changing.” Now they could probably stand to modernize a bit, but I don’t think anyone thinks our CEO is some sort of deity.

            I’m glad you were able to land something! God, tech needs more diversity so there are fewer things like Sketchfactor (an app that let users know how “sketchy” a neighborhood is). I’ll post a link to this in a reply–a SV entrepreneur was questioning why Twitter wasn’t paying more attention to its black users.

  53. Aardvark*

    Right now I have a position with a great boss, nice team, decent pay, competent upper management, etc., but I’m intensely bored by my work, have few opportunities for growth, and thinking of making an inter-state move in the next year or two for personal reasons. Unfortunately, in my current role I’ve gotten pigeonholed into a really boring task and have gotten really good at it, and keep getting asked to do more of it, to the detriment of building other skills.

    How do you even get out of say, the teapot-filling rut and into handle design? I’ve tried taking extension classes through the local university, but obviously they don’t count for much. It’s even more frustrating because I was promised time to learn some better handle design tools (and took the extension classes to show that I had handle design potential), but there are always so many more teapots that require urgent filling and those take precedent. I’m the only teapot filler at my company (we also have a teacup filler, but sometimes her pouring is sloppy.)

    Does anyone have any inspirational stories of major career leaps? Maybe with a practical tip or two?

    1. setsuko*

      I made a big career change a few years back, moving from something with little required techincal or specialist knowledge to something with a *lot*. I found that three things helped:

      1. Take a class, or read books. Is there an online course you can do? Lots of universities have put their course materials online. I found that learnign the material was much more important than getting a certificate at the end of it. You can talk about what you learned in a cover letter, even if you don’t haev a formal qualification. It shows heaps of initiative to learn by yourself!
      2. Be prepared to start from the bottom. I saved for a few years so that I could afford to go without pay for a year to take a Masters course. I now earn a lot less than at my previous job, but am enjoying my work more. In a few years, I hope to be back up to my old salary, maybe even earnign a lot more.
      3. Be enthusiatic and think through why you want to make this change. You will have to convince hiring managers that you are commited to this new career.

      1. setsuko*

        What area do you want to get into? Mine was a type of physics, so I started with some high school and college level text books. Then used online resources like:

        I was also really lucky, as I emailed some lecturers at my local university, saying that I wanted to do some prep for my masters course, and they let me sit in on some of their lectures! Obviously I had no access to course notes, assigments or discussions with the staff, but it was still insanely nice of them, given how much tuition costs.

  54. Intrepid Intern*

    A few weeks ago, I interviewed with Company. They called my references, one of whom told me their concerns (mostly that I was nervous, I didn’t do as well on a test as they thought I would, and that I might lack a particular skill #2). She added that she might be overstepping reference check norms, but wanted to me to have the feedback, which I really appreciated. I was rejected for that job by a form email.

    Now, Company has posted another job. The skill I tested on is no longer relevant, and I actually have skill #2 in spades– they just never asked about it in the interview (I also had about 12 hours to prep for the interview, so it didn’t occur to me to preemptively bring it up). I’d like to apply for this new job, but is there any way that I can address the concerns they had about me last time? Will it look bad for my reference that she told me their concerns, and can I work around this in a way that doesn’t reflect badly on her?

    1. fposte*

      I wouldn’t do it explicitly–not because she shouldn’t have told you, but because it would be a little weird, especially if it ends up with a different hiring committee.

      Just reapply, use the cover letter to sell your #2 skills (shut up, you know what I mean :-)), and rehearse interviewing a ton so that you’re not presenting as nervous.

    2. Sherm*

      I wouldn’t say or imply that you’ve been talking to the reference. Interviewers like communications with references to be confidential, so that references can feel free to be perfectly honest, without worrying about angering the applicant. Besides, if they are competent they should already realize that the test is no longer relevant and that you have the skill they are looking for.

  55. Cruciatus*

    Took the week off of work. Did nothing. It was glorious. How likely is it that I haven’t heard back from an employer (small university) since my phone interview over 2 weeks ago because of vacations, holidays, etc.? I tried telling myself it was the holidays at Christmas time in a similar scenario and then I never heard anything at all and only discovered the job was filled when I checked their online directory and saw the new name there. I’d love to just assume people are out so they can’t get everyone together but I’m starting to doubt that. I would hope they’d give a rejection to a phone interview candidate but these days it’s hard to tell.

    1. Fawn*

      One university staffer’s opinion…very likely. It’s a ghost town here from June – August. That, combined with the number of people who need to buy into a hire for it to move forward amounts to a very drawn out process. Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to check in if they haven’t given you a timeline!

    2. fposte*

      Seconding Fawn, as another academic. Add in the fact that conference season hits a lot of academics in June, and that academics are always slow and almost always slower than they promise.

  56. BRR*

    Is it worth it to let a coworker know about a position they’d be a good match for? I saw a post for an internal position in a different department (we’re at a university) that would be a HUGE raise and my coworker is really well qualified. Is it worth it to let him know and if so how do I do it? He’s not currently looking as far as I know.

    1. fposte*

      Unless they’re crazy paranoid, sure–I think that’s a nice thing, and that’s how we get a lot of applicants in our university department. “Hey, Bob, I saw that Teapot Alchemestrics is looking for a grants project manager–I don’t know if you’re interested in other possibilities, but you’d be great at that, so I thought I’d mention it.”

    2. Melissa*

      Yes! If you’re worried you can always preface it with “I know you’re not currently looking and I like/love working with you, but I saw this internal position and thought it might be a good fit for you.”

  57. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I am probably being paranoid here, so I look to you all to help me get some perspective on this work situation. I have this terrible fear that I’m about to get fired.

    I started a new job 6 months ago and loved it from the beginning, but I was immediately assigned to a difficult client with a lot of demands and a lot of fast-moving projects. I was quickly overwhelmed, and while I made some efforts to tell people I was overwhelmed, I was also in the, “You’re new, you’re experienced, you’re busy, this is a tough client, keep your mouth shut” zone. Last month, there were some miscommunications for which I was partly but not entirely to blame, and I ended up on a video call with the CEO, HR, my boss and the manager I was working with– 45 minutes before an out-of-town client meeting– during which I was basically told that I was doing a shitty job, I was a disappointment, and I needed to step up. It was pretty horrible.

    The result of that call was a discussion with my extremely supportive boss who pulled me off the difficult client as fast as he could and an email I wrote to the manager I had worked with outlining everything I thought went wrong and how to fix it. She shared that with the CEO, and they actually implemented my suggestions– including putting two people on these projects and making sure company procedures were followed to the letter and not just ignored because things were coming in so fast and furious. I’m seeing my current portion of that client’s project to completion, then I’m off the business completely (and on to other things).

    That was almost 30 days ago. Since then, I’ve been doing really well with my new client and I even got an email from the CEO (with my boss cc’d) praising my improvements. Every phone call with the CEO has been extremely positive, including things like, “I like the way you’re thinking here.” My boss has enlisted me to train interns and now treats me like his right hand. My co-workers all look up to me and ask me for help on stuff. All sounds good, right?

    Well… yesterday I was looking at the CEO’s calendar to schedule a meeting and I saw one scheduled for this Tuesday that said, “Meeting: follow-up on AvonLady’s work performance”. My stomach sank. I’m sure it’s just a follow-up and all is fine now, but really, dude? REALLY? You put that on there where EVERYONE can see it. People doing the same thing I was– trying to schedule a meeting on our PUBLIC calendars– can see that you’re having a meeting about me!!! It’s embarrassing and makes me feel terrible, and now I’m worried I’ll get the ax. Rationally, that’s nuts, but I was recently left off the invitation for a meeting with everyone in my peer group– I thought it was an oversight, but now I’m all, “Did the CEO tell the lead not to include me???” The lead, by the way, set up the meeting and promptly left on vacation, so if there’s a correction to be made, she can’t do it until next week.

    So, two questions, if you’ve read this far: 1) from an outsider’s perspective, should I start looking for another job? And 2) should I address the lack of discretion about this meeting with my boss (or anyone else)?

    1. fposte*

      I’d talk to your boss before you did anything else. It sounds like she’s in your corner, and she’d have the best idea of what’s going on. But I think this is a stupid and thoughtless glitch and not anything significant–as you say, if you’d just had the meeting you wouldn’t have been alarmed by it. I think you can mention to the boss that it freaked you out and smacked your morale to think that these conversations are all public and they’ll affect your dealing with co-workers.

      My alternative read is: the CEO screwed up and made public something that would have been no big deal privately, and that freaked you out enough that it ignited your worry about your job, even though that’s not what it was about.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I concur with fposte here.

        May I say, this is so sucks and giant hugs. I would feel exactly as you feel, even if I also knew that plausible explanations exist.

    2. Lionness*

      If you have been getting unsolicited praise on recent work and have not been getting feedback that things aren’t going well, I would assume this is just a routine follow up due to the previous situation. The CEO likely wants to know if there is anything else happening that he isn’t aware of.

      That said, the calendar thing sucks. At my company, we have a catch-all code for “we need to discuss something and I don’t want to subject in your public calendar.” Everyone knows what it means, and we usually send a separate email outlining the agenda. I might bring this up to your boss and say you were a little caught off guard to see such a blatant reference in the calendar.

    3. Ad Astra*

      My best guess is that the CEO either doesn’t realize everyone can see his calendar (maybe he thinks it just says “busy” or “available”) or made that meeting public by mistake. Or he lacks tact.

      As you mention, a follow-up meeting about your progress would be completely normal, and the other invitation is likely just an unfortunate coincidence. Don’t let this throw you off your game.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Thanks, everyone. Our CEO does indeed lack a whoooooole bunch of tact and isn’t exactly the most intelligent guy in the world, so I’m sure I don’t have too much to worry about. It just sucks being on these eggshells again.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Prepare, prepare. Think of the worst thing he could say and then think of how you will respond to that statement. Plan it out, write it out if necessary. That is the only thing I know of that works on the nervous/eggshell stuff.

        Also prepare positive statements that you would like to say. I always liked doing this part because it made me feel better about everything.

  58. Pearl*

    Next week, my boss wants us to begin a long meeting by sharing 5 minutes(!) of personal information so that we can all get to know each other better. I and a co-worker tried to explicitly explain that we were uncomfortable with this, but were overruled. Boss feels this is necessary to foster “real relationships.”

    A different co-worker said as he walked past me that he was excited to “finally learn about Pearl’s boyfriend.” I cringed. However, I am prepared to say, “Oh, I’m happily single.” (And refrain from snarking, “Wow, that’s inappropriate!” or “The village elders are still interviewing candidates.”)

    I am NOT prepared for brushing off questions about my family. Normally I would not expect anyone to ask, except that before this activity was announced, no one ever asked about my dating life, either! I am the only person in the office who never talks about my family and know everyone else will to fill their five minutes. My go-to “I don’t want to talk about that” and “Since you insist, they’re abusive and I moved 3000 miles to escape them” seem blunt/inappropriate for a work meeting.

    Is it possible to brush family questions off without seeming cold? Especially in an environment where people are very “family is the most important thing”?

    1. Delyssia*

      I would try to fill up that five minutes with enough info that nobody realizes just how much you’re NOT talking about your family or your dating life or whatever else you don’t want to get into. Do you have friends who you view as your chosen family, for instance? If you talk with great excitement about friends, pets, hobbies, other ways you spend your time outside of work, hopefully no one will ask the awkward and awful questions. If they do ask about your family, be prepared with something fairly generic — “we’re not close” — and be prepared to be a broken record on the topic.

      This sounds awful, by the way. I wish you the best in getting through this. Ugh.

      1. Pearl*

        Thank you for the advice. I will try to concentrate on pumping myself up to be excited about a couple of things and hopefully that will overwhelm my anxiety about the rest. As for chosen family, I do have some friends who are doing things right now I’m very proud of them for, so maybe I will brag on them a bit.

        1. Delyssia*

          Good luck! FWIW, I have a friend who is a master of this sort of misdirection. Not that I’ve seen her in this sort of situation specifically, but she generally comes across as so open and chatty about what’s going on in her life that very often people don’t realize they’re only getting part of the story or that she never really explained why she was in a given situation or whatnot.

          1. Ad Astra*

            That’s the key. Share every little piece of information you can think of that won’t make you uncomfortable. That makes you seem forthcoming, and people won’t notice that you left anything out.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              “I am very excited about painting my living room. And I have advanced one more level in my karate class. For relaxation, I am reading War and Peace for the tenth time.”
              Notice how every one of these statements is in current time. You are talking about what is going on currently.

              If anyone asks about family you can point to your friends (and pets if you have any pets). If pressed you can say you have very few family members and they are far away. Practice saying that sentence out loud at home. Sometimes the worst part of this type of thing is NOT what to say, it’s hearing our own voices saying it. Get used to the sound of your own voice saying it.
              As you practice, remind yourself that you are safe now. Deliberately try to build a connection in your mind between your explanation about family and the fact that you are now safe. Doing this as you practice will make the real conversation a tiny bit easier.

          2. Elfie*

            Yep, that’s my way of dealing with things. If people think you’re an open book, they won’t want to pry. I come across as friendly and chatty, but there are some subjects that I never, never discuss in person (except with my counsellor!)

      2. Melissa*

        I agree with this advice. As for misdirection, I might say something like “We’re not close. I consider my close friends and inner circle to be my family, actually. For example, my best friend Ronnie…” and veer the conversation back to things you do want to talk about.

    2. Lionness*

      That sounds awful. But, I think you have to talk or it will be seen as weird and standoffish (even though it shouldn’t, at all). I would fill five minutes with fluff like “I hike a lot and oh there is this great trail that I really enjoyed, it has this wonderful little bridge. I take my dog there. His name is Barky and he just runs and jumps and plays and splashes. Sometimes, we go to another trail where there is a great little waterfall….” Basically, just ramble for five minutes about nothing. Sounds excited. No one should ask questions.

      Also, your boss sucks.

      1. Pearl*

        Thank you. I think I will try to concentrate on sounding excited and hopefully that will help me not be nervous / roll on past any questions that are asked. It seems weird that I will have to practice rambling but it seems like that’s what I’ll need to do…

        It’s so frustrating because normally he’s a very reasonable person :P Something must have put him on a kick.

        1. Afiendishthingy*

          Yeah, it seems like he must not have thought this one through, but you’d think he would have budged when you said you weren’t comfortable. It’s just a bad idea. Good luck.

    3. AnotherFed*

      I second the misdirection. Talk about pets, friends, favorite sports teams, best movie ever, hobbies, whatever, as long as you do it with enough enthusiasm that the audience (especially boss who is insisting on this) feels like you’ve shared things that are genuinely important to you.

      Alternatively, you can make up a family (be generic and base it on something familiar, like a TV family, so that you don’t get your story mixed up later) or pick just one aspect that is harmless but amusing or is focused on peripheral people – maybe a horrible relative dated a hilariously silly airhead and you can talk about the airhead, or your second cousin twice removed is a wonderful baker.

      1. Pearl*

        Thank you for the advice. I like the idea of focusing on peripheral people, I can pick my grandma’s church friends or my mom’s coworkers from my childhood if absolutely pressed to that end. And I will try to concentrate on making the things everyone already knows sound as important to me as they really are.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        This makes me think of the (US) office episode where people were supposed to share their personal stories of grief and Pam used the plot of Million Dollar Baby and Ryan used the Lion King. I think this is a good way to go.

        1. AnotherFed*

          Yeah, I normally am against outright lying to people, but when people in positions of authority abuse that authority to make you discuss personal topics after you’ve clearly indicated you don’t want to, then it’s game on. Just don’t talk about your dead parents and being raised by your butler, Alfred – that’s a little too obvious!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’d be tempted to get up and tearfully leave the room (to laugh), offering the explanation, “I’m sorry, but this story is triggering terrible memories of when I was a toddler being forced to leave my parents behind while their planet exploded.”

    4. Colette*

      I like the misdirection, but if someone specifically asks about your family, something like “we’re not close” or “I haven’t had a chance to talk to them lately” are vague and don’t encourage further comments.

      1. Pearl*

        Thank you, I love the phrase “I haven’t had a chance to talk to them lately.” That is one I am definitely going to save.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      Have you thought about going in to way too much detail about something trivial? I would attempt to describe my trials with seeing if butter or margarine is better for baking X recipe and then wonder whether or not you have given Crisco a chance.

      Also, since I work in a library, this might only work in this environment but mention what you are reading and ask what other people recommend. I suppose you can ask for good tv or movie recommendations as well.

      I think asking people’s advice about something would go a long way here. Say that you want to make pork chops but are tired of having your usual sides and ask what they think would pair well with the chops, etc. This also has an effect of drawing other people out into the conversation and leaving less of it left up to you to fill in.

    6. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Once, when pressed to share something personal about myself after I had declined twice, I told the room that I had been the kid in the tree in the Oscar Mayer ad and proceeded to sing the bologna song.

      Friends who knew me were biting their hands. Everyone asked me what it was like – “Oh, I was almost 4, I don’t really remember, I was just excited to be in the tree – no I didn’t climb it. Yes, those were my overalls.”

      Tell them you were the Shake ‘n’ Bake girl or a Barbie girl or something :)

      1. Felicia*

        That’s funny, because a coworker of mine was the child in a very popular TV commercial around here in the mid 90s (most people remembered it, it was for Kraft Singles), and when she shared that in an exercise like this, no one believed her.

    7. AnnieNonymous*

      Are you a good cook? Can you spend 5 minutes talking about your favorite things to cook? Seriously, no one wants to hear about other people’s moms or boyfriends, but everyone wants to hear about food.

    8. zora*

      Can I just say, this sounds absolutely horrifying?!?! FIVE MINUTES???? I just can’t even, and I’m a pretty chatty/friendly coworker. But 5 minutes is an eternity.

  59. Brett*

    After months of searching without any results I’m finally getting somewhere in my job search and I could use some advice…I have company A working on an offer which I should receive next week. I did some negotiation with the recruiter and managers in my area and they are proposing a particular comp package. They have sent it to get approval by a hiring committee, but warned me that it’s not guaranteed because they typically don’t give such a large increase from the last immediate role (where I was definitely under market).

    Today I was asked by company B for references to begin the process of making an offer. The recruiter did not ask me if I had any other offers or opportunities pending, and I didn’t volunteer anything. I *think* this offer will naturally come in at about the rate that company A is proposing based on the fact that I told them a similar salary was what I was seeking during my initial call with the recruiter. I do know that company B does not offer as much vacation as I’ve had in the past, and would want to counter on that point.

    Both companies seem very enthusiastic about me, with managers calling/emailing specifically to compliment me and asking me to contact them if I have any concerns. All things being equal I prefer company A…it will be a very meaty role that I think will be great career wise. It will also have less quality of life due to a lot of travel. Company B is a pretty decent role but nothing out of the ordinary in terms of career. I’d definitely enjoy working there.

    So the question is, should I notify company B about my anticipated offer with A? Or just wait for them to come in? Notifying them might prompt them to make their strongest possible offer. But I’m not sure how to respond if B asks how they stack up, since the answer is not as well.

    (As a side note it frustrates me how much I dread having to turn down an offer, since companies reject people all the time. It’s just business and it shouldn’ t bother me….but it does.)

    1. fposte*

      First, congratulations! Both on getting good offers and on getting ready to move, period.

      It sounds to me like it’s A unless something hideous–not just slightly disappointing–happens with the offer package; it also sounds like this isn’t a firm offer. If so, I wouldn’t push B–even if they match A, it doesn’t sound like you want them, so it seems like unnecessary messing around. Yes, this means that if A completely tanks you can’t use their offer to raise the offer at B, but honestly, without a firm offer, I don’t think you could anyway.

      (I’m sure there are industries where people say “I’m talking to Enron about a $500k start package; why would i keep talking to you about $300k?”, but I think they’re jerks.)

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Congratulations on your choices!

      Look it, if both A and B come through, it’s going to suck to tell one “taking another offer but thanks for all of the work you put in anyway” but we do that on the hiring side all the time. It sucks to tell a good candidate whom you’d like hire that there was another candidate just a smidge better and good luck in your search.

      You won’t have this problem unless both A and B come through. Wait to worry then.

  60. morgab*

    Last year, I got into an argument with a family member. He called the police and we were both arrested. The whole thing was completely ridiculous and a complete overreaction. The arrest was published in the local paper and is now archived online. If someone searches for my name on Google, they will find a page that comes up about me being arrested for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. (The dangerous weapon was an empty plastic water bottle.) I am looking to start a new job hunt soon and inevitable people will google my name when I send out my resume. I don’t have much of an online presence besides LinkedIn and the above-mentioned arrest. I don’t feel it’s appropriate to go into any detail as to what happened to any potential employers. What is the best way for me to address this issue with potential employers?

    1. fposte*

      I’d certainly try to up your net presence to push that Google result down. I’m sure there are guidelines for that all around the web–Jon Ronson mentions some in a chapter of “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” too.

      I wouldn’t bring it up unsolicited, but if it comes up, I’d treat it *very* differently than you do here. The hiring manager doesn’t know you and isn’t going to trust your take on it, so if you’re dismissive and say it was completely wrong, you’re indistinguishable from somebody who’s lying about it. Be serious about this: “Yes, it was all quickly dropped [externally verifiable], but I regret how much our brotherly fight scared our grandmother, and we’ve worked to make sure future disagreements stay more reasonable [taking the effect seriously].”

      1. morgab*

        Thanks for that. Yes I agree that I cannot minimize this at an interview. I was just having a hard time thinking of a way to address this if it does come up. The wording I had in mind would almost sound like I was asking for sympathy.

    2. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

      I know it won’t help immediately but have you thought of writing a strongly worded letter to the local paper and asking them to remove the story from their online archives? (If a lawyer is an option for you, hire one to write the letter on your behalf. Our local legal aid has a re-entry attorney that does this.) Of course it’s not illegal for the story to be up but you can certainly cite the difficulties it creates for you and the strong public policy against publicizing that sort of information in a permanent way for exactly the reasons you discuss. Also, have you looked at your state laws to see if employers are allowed to consider arrests/convictions in their decision making? You can’t stop them from doing so informally, but many states have laws in place prohibiting employers from even asking about arrests. I don’t know the laws in your state, but if nothing came of this incident, and it comes up in an interview, I wonder if you could offer a general explanation and then steer the conversation back to the substance of the interview. A lawyer in your area may be able to explain exactly what your rights (and potential recourses) are in this situation.

      1. morgab*

        I just found out that my relative who was involved was able to get the story with his name removed on google just recently. His academic advisor was able to pull some strings and was able to contact someone to get it removed on the site. I didn’t realize this was even possible. I called the local paper a while back and explained the situation and was told it was just a public record and everything I read online seemed to be saying the same thing. I will write the letter and hopefully someone will be understanding or someone will find me convincing.

        1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

          That’s encouraging! Maybe you just need an advocate with the right kind of connections, do you know anyone like your relative’s advisor who might be able to pull strings? Of course the paper has no obligation to take the article down but perhaps they can understand how leaving it up is harming you more than it’s helping them (I can’t imagine an archived story about a old family argument draws much traffic).

      2. Ad Astra*

        Almost every newspaper is going to tell you they won’t take it down without evidence that they published inaccurate information. If what the article says is true — and it sounds like that’s the case — you’re out of luck.

        I know that charges often sound more serious than they are, and it sounds like that was the case with you. But fposte’s advice about not seeming dismissive or defensive is very important.

        You would be surprised how many companies don’t Google applicants. It’s also possible that a potential employer will Google you, find that, and make a conscious decision to withhold judgment until he knows the facts. As we get more and more used to stuff like this being on the Internet forever, some people have become a little more forgiving of these things.

        All that said, were you convicted of a crime or just charged? That could be what makes the difference.

        1. morgab*

          All charges were dropped. I can just try my luck and hopefully I will find a company that doesn’t Google candidates. Even so, it is out there and potential coworkers or managers could see it and I may have to address it. It’s possible I may not even be called for interviews and I may not even have the chance to even address it (if it’s even legal for them to ask about it).

          1. TootsNYC*

            If you do contact the paper, and they resist taking it down, you might really push for them to include **inside the same story** the update that all charges were dropped, because to leave it up there INCOMPLETE is a form of defamation, even if it is accurate.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Most employers know there is a difference between being arrested and being convicted. Good employers are interested in the truth so that means they would be looking to see if you were convicted. There won’t be a conviction on your record.

  61. overqualified and underemployed*

    I’ve been waiting for this! I have such a hard decision to make, what do you internet strangers think?

    Short version: I’ve been offered a job that has been my goal for years, but due to my spouse’s job situation, we would have to live 5 hours apart for 2 years. We also have an infant. Should I take the job or turn it down?

    Long version: I just finished a lengthy, extremely specialized graduate program, and these goal jobs really don’t come up very often. The likelihood that one would come up in my area in the next two years is very, very low, so if I don’t take it, I will probably wind up doing something else and trying to wind my way much more slowly toward that goal, or find a new one because honestly, I might not get another chance. My current job has aspects I love, but it’s low-level and seasonal, whereas I would like a full time job with more responsibility and security (a “career” type job, not a “job” job). I’m willing to work outside of my narrow field, but need to get hired first, and need to be willing to adjust my long-term goals and dreams to maybe go in another direction. This job offer, in itself, is probably the best opportunity I could possibly get as a new graduate if I want to stay in my field.

    BUT…between my application and the offer (a process of several months), my spouse accepted a 2 year contract in our current city, and it is also the best opportunity he could possibly get for his career. During that time, I thought about withdrawing my application, but I was curious to see how far I could get, and unfortunately now I have an unexpected and really difficult choice! If I took it, we’d have to live apart, and he’d try to drive the 5 hours every weekend (hoping to work out telecommuting on Fridays, but that’s still a lot of time apart, and a lot of driving). The idea of being the sole parent on hand while working all the time during the week makes me really sad – also, my current job is pretty low-key, but this would be a much more high-pressure one, and I just don’t know if I could find the energy. I think the separation would be really hard on him and our child as well. The new job is also in a very small town, so it might be hard for my husband to find work, meaning that even if he moved there after 2 years, we might have to move on relatively soon after that. I’d be in a better position to find a more senior-level job, but we would also have spent two years apart just for that, which doesn’t seem like a good enough reason.

    Am I crazy to think about doing it? Am I crazy to think about not? I really feel like I have a stark choice between career and family – is it really an issue of living apart from my family vs. “mommy-tracking” myself forever, or will there be other opportunities? I have a conversation scheduled with HR on Monday, when I’ll receive salary and benefits information, so I feel like I have the weekend to think it over, but I need to make a pretty quick decision after that. What would you do?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I can’t imagine having to make this choice.

      If you try this, and it turns out to be unbearable, what are your choices? I might try it if I felt I had a decent enough back up plan to bail if I was too unhappy after 6 months.

      I’m team career and team family. I can’t imagine having to choose in this fashion, with a new infant. If it was with a school age child, and for two years, I’d have a way easier time choosing to make the move, with spouse cooperation.

      1. over educated and underemployed*

        I want to be team career and team family too! My instinct is to say you only have one family, but there will be other jobs…I just am not sure if that second part is true.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I…don’t know what to say. I’ve read your post 5x.

          Before I reread your post four more times, I was ready to say (cautiously) that as team work as I am, I would choose not to split off with for two years, with a new job, with primary and sole care of my new baby.

          Then I reread your post 4x and I’m ready to say (cautiously) with the leg up to your career and your family economic stability, I might choose that box after all.

          I think this is the toughest AAM question in history.

          God! Hugs!

          1. over educated and underemployed*

            Aaaah! Honestly I just keep hoping for people to say “that’s ridiculous, stay with your family.” Are job opportunities really that impossible to find?

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      Neither is a crazy option. It’s one of the unfortunate side effects of a specialized grad degrees. Which one of your careers will get you to your overall goals as a couple? Would you be happy working outside your field or would there be an everlasting grass is greener feeling?

      1. seasonal employee*

        That’s what happens when you meet your spouse in grad school, unfortunately! Our goal is to both be employed as a couple, but I am more willing to work outside my field. My big fear is that I won’t be able to make a successful transition in the next 2 years either, though. I don’t want to be a seasonal worker forever.

    3. AnotherFed*

      That does sound like a hard choice! Regardless of what anyone else would do, what can you NOT live with? I’ve done the geo-separation thing (without kids) and it’s pretty doable, especially if you both know going in that it’s for X years and you both plan to be Y other place at the end of that. New babies are lots of work, but I think that parents not living together for a while is easier before the kids are old enough to remember something different. You might want to check out some of the advice blogs for military spouses – your split obviously isn’t because of a military deployment, but that’s a whole group of people who struggle with and have figured out ways to deal with kids, jobs, and limited time with their spouse, so it may help you decide if you can do it and how to handle some things.

      1. Melissa*

        Seconded on the military blogs and message boards. They do have lots and lots of stories and advice about how to make separation with kids and families more bearable. They’re also a great source of support when your spouse is away and you need someone to vent about it – they understand better than anyone else, and give great encouragement (even if you never post and just read their words of encouragement to other spouses – inevitably someone will write a vent that sounds like it was plucked directly from your head.)

    4. Chickaletta*

      So, the baby would live with you?

      I think whether this is going to work depends a lot on your personalities. My husband traveled 100% for work for a year and a half before having medical problems that forced him to quit. He hated every minute of the job. He hated coming home to an empty hotel room, he hated not seeing me or our child, he hated having to drive 7 hours one way to see us on the weekends (when he could) and hated saying goodbye on Sundays in the early afternoon so he could drive back. He developed nightmares and depression. As for me, I got used to living without him. I was a single mom for the most part. I ran the household, I made the decisions, I took care of the kid, I managed bills, finances, house repairs, my part-time job, and our social life. I got used to deflecting the pity party other well-meaning people wanted to throw at us when they heard about our situation. When people asked me what I did in my free time I just laughed and then mumbled something about watching a show on Netflix a couple times a week so I didn’t seem like such a loser. When my husband came home for the weekend, it was like having a visitor in the house: chores didn’t get done and difficult discussions weren’t had because we felt pressured to make the best of the time we had together. My husband isn’t a conversationalist, so we didn’t talk much on the phone either. To be honest, we grew apart and our marriage will take a long time to recover from those 18 months we spent apart.

      If you guys are going to do this separation thing, make sure you both have the personalities to handle it. Both of you need to be “talkers”, the type of couple who easily shares details about their day and reaches out to each other for decisions and advice, the kind of couple who doesn’t get jealous or anxious wondering what the other person is up to, the kind of people who don’t search for sympathy or complain about how much work your doing as if the other person has it easier because I made the mistake of getting frustrated at my husband who complained about being alone in that hotel room when I couldn’t get five minutes to myself; we had completely opposite problems and it became harder and harder to sympathise with the other person. You should both be the kind of people who don’t get depressed without the other person by your side, each of you needs to have the ability to maintain a social life and happiness without the other person.

      I imagine that knowing the timeframe would help, part of our problem was that my husband was on a month-to-month contract so we had no idea during that time how long our situation would last. But this situation you are talking about will be no cakewalk. If you both are full in and healthy mentally and physically, then you can probably get through it.

      1. over educated and underemployed*

        The baby would live with me. I am confident my spouse could handle the separation with grace, but I am the kind of person who gets emotional and overwhelmed, so I think it would be bad for my mental health, and tough on our marriage. We’ve been apart for work for months before, but not for years and not with a kid, and I just counted the days each time.

        Would you do it again, knowing what you know now?

        1. Chickaletta*

          Probably not. My husband took that job because he had been looking for 3-4 months, so we felt desperate. But looking back we should have tried a different strategy. It was very hard on him in particular, and it didn’t advance his career. So that might make things different for you if you think there’s a pay-off down the road for the sacrifice today. But we’re in no better position today than we were two years ago.

        2. Melissa*

          Mmm, it’s good that you’re honest about your own emotional limitations in this kind of situation. If the last time you just counted the days, that’s not a good sign for the stability of this kind of separation (as I noted below I’ve done it before, without the infant though). One of the best ways to make this thing work is that you have to develop a full and happy life in your immediate situation – lots of distractions – to keep yourself busy, make the time move quickly, and allow yourself to live independently. I know that can be difficult in a small town because I live in one now, and it sounds like it could be harder with an infant. So you’ve got to honestly answer for yourself whether you’d be able to develop that flourishing kind of life (even if it’s really just being content with being home alone with the baby most days, or doing singular hobbies like walking and shopping etc.) or whether you’d feel really empty and miserable in short order.

          Also, regardless of how well-adjusted you are to living apart, there’s always this weird adjustment phase when you finally do move back in because of what Chickaletta said – you get so used to running a household your way that you “forget” you’re part of a twosome. You can minimize that, definitely, by making at least some joint decisions together – maybe pooling your money and paying the rents and bills together rather than separately, for example, or him coming out and touring childcare facilities with you, or other things. One of the things I’m going to do differently with my next move is bring my husband with me to hunt for apartments in our New City so that we select it together, and it immediately feels more like ours than just mine.

    5. Steve G*

      I would lean towards taking the job. But why is it for only 2 years? You’re still going to be together every weekend, correct? The main consideration is whether your SO can handle childcare + the job on their own.

      1. over educated and underemployed*

        I would be handling childcare plus the job, which sounds really hard to me. Spouse would “only” be driving 10 hours a week to see us, weather permitting. It would be 2 years until spouse could move to join us.

        1. misspiggy*

          After the two years, what is the likelihood that you and your spouse would be able to get satisfying work in the same place? That seems key to me – would this two year period get your family where it wants to be, or would it lead to another period where it’s difficult for one or both of you to get good work in the same place? If it’s the latter, it might be useful to thoroughly review all the options for making career and family life harmonise, before you make a decision about this particular job.

          1. over educated and underemployed*

            It’s a huge toss up. We are both specialized. If I took the job, we would spend as long as we could in the small town looking for work for my spouse, but there is a possibility we might have to move on sooner than I’d like if there is none. On the other hand spouse needs a new job in 2 years no matter what. If i find something good here, he’ll try to find something local, and there are a lot of potential employers for him here. My big fear is that my job here, whatever it is then, isn’t “good enough” to stick around for, or doesn’t pay enough to support us while he searches, so we move for his next offer and I wind up unemployable in a small town in a whole different part of the country.

    6. Melissa*

      I’m in this situation now, although without the infant. My husband and I live 4 hours apart while I work a postdoctoral position and he finishes a degree program in our original city. In a few months, I’ll be moving even further from him to take a dream ideal job; much like yours, it’s not the kind of job that comes up every day. We’ll probably be separated for about 9 more months while he finishes up. (And we’ve done long-distance before, for career-related reasons as well).

      No, you’re not crazy to contemplate it. The way I thought about it is this: Is it short-term pain for long-term gain? We chose the move because of that concept – that we’d have to sacrifice in the short-term to have things work out for us in the long term. In my case, it was a postdoctoral position that was only designed to last for 2 years; we never intended for Husband to find work in the area (which was a very small town, too). The goal would be that after I finished the position I’d use it as a stepping stone to move to an academic job somewhere we could both find jobs. In my case, in my career, doing a job for 2 years and moving on was a practical requirement.

      But you have to decide (together) whether that is something you want, and whether this interim job will go a long way towards helping you find a job in the same field in another city more bearable for both of you. You said that jobs in this field don’t come up all the time. Is that going to be a problem when you are job hunting in 2 years? In other words, is there a chance (and how big is it) that this separation is not going to yield great fruit because your field is super competitive with very few openings in the first place? And how willing are you both to give in to that risk/chance? When I first chose to do it with my husband it seemed like a great idea. I have chosen to leave that field, but I absolutely do not regret my choice, because I do believe that the year in this position did act as a stepping stone to a related job in a different field. But even if it hadn’t, would I have regretted it? I don’t know, but I tend not to have regrets, because you can only make the choices that are best for you at the time, you know?

      I usually drive the four hours to see my husband – not every weekend, but at least once a month. He has no car, but he can take a bus to see me. People’s tolerances for drives are different. Personally, 4 hours is about my personal limit and I find it a bit exhausting, but I want to see him more than I don’t want to drive, so I do it. (I could take the bus, but I have a dog and I usually bring her along). You’ll also have to think about how you’ll both feel if he had an exhausting week and just doesn’t have the energy to make that drive out on the weekend, particularly since you’d be doing infant care alone when you might have anticipated a helpmeet.

      The baby does complicate matters a bit, particularly if the job is high-pressure. You’d have to think about whether you and hubby together could afford support services in the new city (good day care, maybe an aide or nanny or occasional babysitter) to help you adjust and shoulder the load if necessary. Also, do you have to be the one to take the baby? If she’s nursing that might be necessary, but could you trade months or maybe he can take her in the beginning while you adjust and then you take her later? (I don’t have kids so this might not be sensitive to the needs of parents, and I apologize in advance if that’s the case.)

      Also, another thing is that maintaining two households is way more expensive than you think it’s going to be. Like, you anticipate the two rents and everything, but there’s also two sets of groceries, two sets of furniture (one of which will become obsolete when you move back in together!)…then he (and you potentially) have to choose whether to schlep your clothes or keep an extra set, both of which have annoyances…there are small things that are pains in the ass that you kind of don’t anticipate on the front end.

      Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in very small towns (and whether this job is maybe in a college town), but resources can often be scarce – particularly child care. A colleague of mine just had a baby a few months ago, and she and her husband struggled to find good childcare – a lot of the places were full, including the best ones. (Also add that to the expenses of the two households).

      There will always be other opportunities. Whether they are the opportunities you want in your field kind of depends on the field. I can only speak for my experience in academia, which is kind of similar in that positions don’t always open up and when they do they are rarely in the place you want to live, and when they are 200-300+ people also apply for it. I think about it kind of like moving apart for a postdoc (2-3 year job, stepping stone to professor positions). So I guess the question is – how badly do you really want to be in this career, and how good of a stepping stone is this job?

      Also, what are the chances that there are contract issues in your spouse’s job and he has to stay on for an extra year or so unexpectedly? My husband’s time in Original City got unexpectedly extended by about 6 months because of some complications. Would that change the decision for you, if you had to remain separated for 3 years instead of two?

      And no, I definitely wouldn’t think about it as family vs. career. It’s one particular career decision. You can have a fabulous career while not living apart from your family; furthermore, your career sacrifice is FOR your family – for a better standard of living and happiness for you and your spouse and child. That’s the way I always tried to approach these decisions. You’re not choosing your career over your family if you make the move. You’re making a temporary sacrifice to improve your standard of living for your family. You just have to decide how open you are to different interpretations of “fabulous career,” IMO – aka, how willing you are to give up the chance to stay in this one career vs. exploring others you might love that are less geographically dispersed and difficult to find. And I feel like if you are in a career field that’s competitive and in which jobs don’t open up that often, this isn’t going to be the only time you have to make this decision – you’ll have to think about it when the next job opportunity arises, potentially in a place you never considered living, and where options might be limited for your spouse. (Or…if you can’t find another job quickly on the other end. So if you end up saying in Very Small Town for more than 2 years. What if your spouse struggles finding work in his field? You’ll again have to contend with choosing to leave the field for another city or trying to make it work.)

      I hope that this made some kind of sense – I kind of typed things as I was thinking of them and tried to organize them afterwards.

      1. over educated and underemployed*

        My spouse’s job is a postdoc too :) So we are both in fields where the opportunities are all over the country, and it’s very likely this kind of decision will come up again for one or both of us. We’d be stuck in place for a few years at least if I took this job (which is meant to be permanent), so not finding a job near the town would be a known risk for him, but if not, there is definitely a chance that our opportunities would not line up 2 years from now…big unknown risk for me as the one without the current stepping stone job.

        I am definitely OK with exploring other fields, but we don’t have the disposable income right now to pay for additional childcare outside of my work hours to do lots of informational interviews or unpaid internships, so those are limitations. Not sure what progress I’ll be able to make in 2 years – we live in a major city with lots of employers, but the competition is stiff too!

        Having a child does change things, in that it’s a lot more work for the one there, but being away from a baby who’s changing every week is tough on the one away too. We couldn’t switch off due to the expense of day care, no way could we afford it in both locations. Also…I refuse to be away from the kid. That’s a deal breaker for me.

        1. Christy*

          Then I think that’s the real question: do you want to be a single mom for two years? Does he want to be apart from the baby for two years? He’ll miss first steps, first words, first tooth, many of the firsts.

          Do you want to live a separated existence for possibly your whole career? I think you have to keep that in mind if you take this job (because it’s in a small town).

          Honestly, I think you should not take this job. But then, I don’t think your husband should have taken the postdoc if this was likely for you. The baby really complicates everything. Sans baby, take the job, no question. With baby, don’t. That said, does your husband NEED to stay at his postdoc? Why not have him quit and follow?

          1. over educated and underemployed*

            No, no, and no to all of those questions! It’s really a matter of having to tolerate two bad years in the hope of future good years, but I really want to stay with my family now AND in the long term.

            The postdoc thing was not actually a bad move based on what we knew at the time – he took it in part because I had no strong prospects at the time it was offered, and I wanted to stay in our city to at least keep doing my seasonal work rather than being unemployed. I had put in this application about a month before he got his offer, but I didn’t get called for an interview until over a month after he’d already signed his contract. (At that point I saw it as “good interview experience” and went ahead, not suspecting I’d get this far…bad move on my part.)

            1. Melissa*

              No, it’s never a bad move to explore your options. After all, you can always say no.

              Honestly, the more I’m reading about your own desires and preferences, I kind of agree that this job doesn’t sound like it really lines up with what you both want out of your life personally and professionally.

              Christy also asks a really good question – “do you want to live a separated existence for possibly your whole career?” That’s partially why I asked the question about being sure this is just two years. I know lots of postdocs who decided to stay on longer than 2 years and their spouses have had to change plans, because academia is so competitive now and the 2 years go by much faster than you’d expect. A lot of people stay on to get a few more papers or try for a grant or…whatever. Or the same thing that happened to me could happen: you find the excellent next step on your career ladder a year in, and it’s in a city you both decide you can settle in long-term, but it’s even further away from your husband.

              The good thing about postdoc contracts is that most of them can be broken early if necessary without any repercussions, unless the PI is terrible. I know quite a few people who have left a postdoc early – because they got a job, usually, whether that job was academic or non-academic. (Aaaand I will be one of those people, ha.)

              1. over educated and underemployed*

                Congrats! I don’t think he will be breaking his contract given the type and nature of his funding, and the fact that he doesn’t feel competitive for the TT market yet, but I think if you are on a renewable year to year contract and get a permanent offer, leaving the postdoc early definitely makes sense. If he wound up getting funding to stay on after two years, I’d probably jump for joy.

                I think there are maybe a few cities where we could see ourselves long term where I would consider moving for a permanent job before he finishes, like you are doing (think northern, small cities with lots of universities and relatively low costs of living). But for the most part, I’m just not sure that even an ideal job on paper is worth the distance to me. we spend a lot of hours at work, but one of the things I learned in graduate school is that work isn’t enough for me to have a fulfilling life.

        2. Melissa*

          Yeah, I figured that the childcare in both locations would be a sticking point since I know you generally have to pay for a whole month even if you don’t use the whole thing. And understandable about not wanting to be away from the kid.

          Good luck with everything. I’ve watched a couple other couples go through this besides my own, sometimes with children, and there doesn’t seem to be a “right answer” or one best way to do it.

          1. over educated and underemployed*

            Thanks. I hope your situation gets you both to where you want to be soon, and I appreciate your helping me think it through. Honestly, I think I have been looking for people to reflect back to me that saying no will be ok, I will have a career somehow.

    7. Anx*

      I don’t think you’re crazy to think about this, or to dismiss it. I wouldn’t say you’re in an impossible situation, but it sounds really tough. I don’t have kids or my own career to think about, but your concerns resonated with me deeply.

      Sometimes I think (for women especially) so much about the work-parenthood discussion is based on the assumption that you choose your role. You make choices of course, but so much of the outcome is based on external factors. Of course everything could work out if you choose to focus on your family, but I know how important it is to hit the ground running when you just finish a grad program. Even if you chose to give up a career in your field, that doesn’t mean you’d have easy access to part-time employment, so I can imagine that makes it so much harder not to pursue a chance at a career.

      I have no advice, but I wish you the very best!

      1. over educated and underemployed*

        Fortunately, I do have part time employment in/near my field, and I literally do not think I could find better pay, hours, or work environment at a non salaried job in said field. Even though it’s entry level my boss is very supportive of professional development and initiative, so there are some things I can do to keep building my resume. But it’s only for six months of the year, so that limits the size of projects I can take on, and I can’t get supervisory experience. If it were year round I’d never leave!

        thanks for your sympathy. I think job searching makes work life balance less of a choice, but sometimes them’s the breaks.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          Everything you’ve written on the personal side makes me lean towards recommending staying. You’ve done LDR in this relationship before that you couldn’t stand, you have an infant, and you’d be solely responsible for care. Being the primary parent is exhausting. While it might not be your dream career, it sounds like your current position has perks, plus being part-time as a new parent is going to add to childcare savings.

          I always hate to advise against a woman pursuing her ideal career goals because if you don’t do this I think it’ll be more likely that your husband will continue to advance and next big career decision will automatically, likely out of necessity, will be based primarily on his needs and wants. It’s your decision if you’ll end up feeling too resentful of that, but if you already know that you don’t handle LDRs well, going into a minimum 2 year separation as a new mom is a recipe for disaster for your marriage.

          1. over educated and underemployed*

            This is what worries me too! I don’t want to get stuck unable to get a job worth moving/staying for in 2 years, moving somewhere totally random for his next job, and becoming a stay at home mom (or just unable to support us, should something go terribly wrong) by default. So stereotypical! Being separated for 2 years would be rough on our marriage, but being unemployed in 5 years would too, so I really just want an in-between route. Personally I’d be OK with a less-ideal job and a more winding route to a decent career, I just want to get somewhere. Figuring out how to balance our two careers two years from now will be something we have to be very conscious about, but he is willing to try to stay in our city if I do have a job here then…just need to actually get another good offer, which is the part I can’t predict.

            1. Anx*

              “Personally I’d be OK with a less-ideal job and a more winding route to a decent career, I just want to get somewhere”

              I hear you on that one.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      “but this would be a much more high-pressure one, and I just don’t know if I could find the energy”

      My thought: That one sentence right there says “deal breaker”.

      The times I have said that I did not think I could find the energy and forced myself to proceed did not work out well. The times that I have said “this will require a lot of energy but I will do it anyway” have usually worked out reasonably okay.
      My point is that if you want to start something and you seriously question your energy for that commitment then this might be an early warning sign.

      If you decide not to take the job, then also make a promise to yourself that you will do what it takes later on to get back to where you want to be. Turn it into two steps a decision plus a promise.

      1. over educated and underemployed*

        Thanks for this. I am telling myself that if I do not take the job (and I’m increasingly inclined to trust my gut), I need to turn my sadness about the lost opportunity into 1) a commitment to ramp up my job search with more applications and 2) a good reason to meet with my boss and ask how I can spend the next few months working to develop some skills in one or two areas in my current position. Jobs like the offered one are very much “jack of all trades” type jobs, whereas my current one has a lot of division of responsibility, but maybe I could at least volunteer for a few small projects to round out my experiences more.

  62. management*

    I have a newish high level employee who reports to me. He is very interested in the job and it’s been a pleasure working with him overall. We meet regularly and I give him various advice of how to handle committee work he is on, and also various projects he is working on. But now I hear him often talking about how he came up with this idea or that, and he will blog about something he did – which he did but at my direction/it was my idea. I am finding myself struggling a bit with this. On the one hand, I feel that everything that is done in my department is of course understood as being with my knowledge and approval, on the other hand, I worry that people will think he is the one doing all this work (it is work he can do on his own), and that I don’t have a hand at all in what he is doing. It feels like I am being totally defensive but at times, like when he happens to talk to my manager who is then all administrative of his work, it really irks me because I know that the reasons things happened smoothly was because I was there advising my guy. If you manage people, do you feel that sometimes? how do you deal with it?

    1. fposte*

      It depends on the extent of this. It’s pretty natural in work to accept praise and talk about what you did without always footnoting who helped or guided you. But there’s also an expectation–how high varies from field to field and workplace to workplace–that you not claim credit for everything you do that other people have parts in. I don’t know where this guy falls, but maybe you could think about your own presentation and responses and think about specific times where you would have made a point of crediting other people. Assuming that you’re not somebody who tends to deflect instead of owning, which can be its own problem, that might give you some specific examples to give him some cultural guidance on.

      But if his blog is personal, I don’t see why what he says there matters, and I’d just not read it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Banking off of fposte’s comment about taking credit, you could give him a chat about giving credit where credit is due and watching that he accurately gives credit to the right sources. That is just good general career advice.

  63. DMouse77*

    Another frustrating week with my boss’s boss. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that he gave me a project to work on and didn’t tell me the real deadline, then got mad that I didn’t complete it sooner. Well, next it turned out that he didn’t even give me the complete information I needed to complete what was needed, and tried to blame me for…basically not reading his mind. My awesome boss was just as frustrated as I was, so she took over all communication with him about this project. So one of the emails he sent her was a file that he wanted us to “add” into our work – and it was not only a file I had created, but it was the very first piece of information I had used two weeks ago when we started working on this! He just never actually looked at or read anything I had sent him!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      At least your own boss sees it for what it is. Ugh. That is pretty disturbing, though.

  64. Laura*

    So I have recently gone from a seasonal position to a regular position at the same company. The duties are identical but my title had a minor change as well as an adequate hourly pay increase. As of last night, I have that portion of my resume structured as follows:

    Chocolate teapots Ltd.
    Seasonal Sales Associate Nov. 2014-Feb. 2015, May 2015

    Sales Associate Jul. 2015-present


    Is that a good way to do this or is there a better way to do it?

    Thanks for your time.

    (Month abbriviations used here for space saving)

    1. Relosa*

      I work in a field where the vast majority of positions are seasonal, and fulltime regular positions are rare at best. So, given that caveat, when I apply to places in the same field, they already know based on my role that it was seasonal. But if there is a requirement where I have to document a specific estimated number of hours/months/years in a position, then I break it down like this:

      TITLE, Company
      City, State | Month 2005 – Month 2010
      Seasonal Role 1 2005 – 2006
      Leadership Seasonal Role 2007 – 2009
      Supervisory Seasonal Role2009 – 2010

      And then all of my bullet points usually refer back to the final role I was in, as they were of course bigger and broader responsibilities, unless the position I’m applying for specifically requires something that I was exceptional at in a lower-level role

      1. Laura*

        I may try that.

        It’s part time regular work. A step up from seasonal. My duties would not change drastically (example: I would still be required to wipe down display cases). They may increase slightly, but I’m not expecting any task that is required of a seasonal employee to not be required of me.

        This is a retail job. And honestly while it’s not where I see myself forever, it’s very valuable in that I’ve learned how I work and also a good strong track record establishing opportunity. (I don’t know what I want to do when I “grow up” as it were)

        I have a BA in English but I’m not terribly interested in going into work specifically for that degree. Plus I have a few other circumstances that make getting full time work a bit of a stretch right now.

  65. Anonymous Educator*

    Just a rant: someone very close to me just left a very toxic work environment that was an exempt (not hourly non-exempt) position, and the former employer just plain did not pay her the last paycheck! It was very stressful, but after she called them out on it and pestered them, they finally paid her. I just can’t believe they would do that…

    1. Relosa*

      ugh, sounds like and OldBoss of mine. I was genuinely worried that my last check was going to be null or hugely messed up, but they actually cut it correctly.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I can’t believe people exist like that in the world. To the organization or company, that’s pocket change. To the employee, that’s rent… or life and death.

  66. Silvercat*

    Mostly venting.

    I got a call from a recruiter and I’ve got an interview with her on Monday. Why people from companies with offices all over the place don’t mention which office they’re from, I don’t know. And she wants me to bring in a list of accomplishments, but I don’t have anything that’s not already on my resume, because why wouldn’t I put it on my resume?

    I don’t really want to go back to working full time because of mental issues, but I need the money. I hate that I can’t motivate myself enough to be self-employed & freelancing.

    1. Sherm*

      Best of luck! For accomplishments, I think you could include things that don’t necessarily go into a resume but reveal qualities that workplaces appreciate. It might turn out you like the job a lot. But if you don’t, it’s not permanent!

      Be sure to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. A lot of people tell themselves “Once I get X, Y, and Z in my life, then I’ll be happy!” But it’s more the other way around: “If I’m in a good place emotionally, then it’s more likely that I can get X, Y, and Z.”

      1. Silvercat*

        Thanks. I’m doing my best to take care of myself, but it’s tough right now. I was supposed to see a shrink on the 10th to get ADHD meds, but it got cancelled because that doctor no longer works there. Which knocked my legs out from under me because I’d been counting on that appointment since February. So I have no idea when I’ll be able to get in. I’ll be calling my GP on Monday to get a higher dose of anti-depressants.

        I do my best to be optimistic and realistic even when my brain is trying to sabotage me. Right now I’m getting a lot of cuddles from my parents’ cats, trying to spend a lot of time with my rats, and trying to accomplish at least a few things every day.

        1. Melissa*

          Pet cuddles are great therapy :) Feel better and take care yourself. And don’t beat yourself up – self-employment isn’t for everyone. I know I couldn’t do it, for the same reasons – I wouldn’t motivate myself to get clients.

  67. Anonyby*

    So, I’ve been floating at this one office for over a month now. Normally I try to be very nice and accommodating and helpful. However, the admin at this office is abrasive. Not necessarily mean, but abrasive all the same. Unfortunately, I can feel her rubbing off on me while I’m there. (Thankfully this hasn’t been happening while I”m at other offices.)

    Any suggestions for how to get back to normal while working with her? This office is going to need me there on a regular basis for at least the rest of the month.

    1. misspiggy*

      Perhaps try to think about how you like to be, what your best self is like, and then consciously try to roleplay that.

  68. AnonymousKate*

    Does anyone have any advice about how to interview for two jobs at once?

    I’m interviewing at a government agency, and there are two positions open in the same department (same job title). They are conducting one series of interviews, although the positions are for different divisions, and under two different managers (both will be interviewing). Any tips on how to deal with this? It seems like it will be a little awkward, as I’m going to be trying to get a sense of whether or not I will be a good fit for two different jobs, the management styles of two different people, etc.


    (And I hope all Americans have a fabulous 4th of July.)

    1. Denita*

      Wow, that…sounds like what I interviewed for yesterday, haha, except mine was for two different departments with both managers at the panel.

      Anyway, my tip is to try and not think any differently about the two interviewers. Simply think of them as a panel, which they are, and treat them equally. They’ll probably alternate on asking questions like a regular panel interview, so keep with the flow and answer your questions in a professional manner.

    2. AnotherFed*

      This is not uncommon in my organization. As the candidate, you just need to focus on getting enough of an understanding of what the two different divisions do and what the difference in work would be that you can tell which you would rather do. You could be asked which job you prefer before getting an offer, because the hiring manager often has to fill out paperwork for HR, and HR will not send out multiple offers to the same person from different divisions (assuming they both have the same HR office).

      From the hiring manager side, when we do this, either we interview separately (so the candidate comes for a day of interviews and gets an hour to interview with each interested group), or for less formal interviews, the lead HM gets to ask most of the questions and the secondary HM will get a few questions at the end. If you end up in the second situation, try to ask questions so you see both sides (how different would a typical day be in your divisions? what are the differences in day to day job duties? how much work is team work and how much is independent projects?) and that are detailed enough about the job they’re hiring for that both HMs have to answer and one can’t answer for both – that lets you get a better feel for the non-lead HM.

  69. Denita*

    So my office had a pot luck a few minutes ago (lots of leftovers, yum) and it was a blast! We’re hoping our director can give the okay to let everyone in our department early today but eh, take what you can get.

    How is everyone’s Friday going?

    1. Sascha*

      Better, now that I’ve had some delicious cupcakes. :) And got to play with my baby…I love being able to work from home.

      1. Denita*

        Mmm, cupcakes are the best :9 and it’s great you can spend time with your baby *and* you can work from home!

    2. Ad Astra*

      I went out to lunch with a couple of coworkers, one of whom I haven’t had the chance to talk to much, so I’m feeling a lot less grumpy than I did this morning. And I’ve actually achieved more at work today than I thought I would.

    3. Hellanon*

      Quiet. I start in a new role on Monday & am taking a couple of days off, but I worked so many weekends Feb-April that I keep looking around my office here at home wondering what I’ve forgotten to do… But! I have been cooking, cleaning, organizing (OMG organizing) and I will be able to start on Monday with out a huge backlog of fiddly house stuff to distract me…

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Mine is uneventful. I did not work today. The weather is beautiful, so I made sure to go to the store so I could get out and about.

      But I had to take Psycho Kitty to the vet yesterday, and when I went to pick her up (she had her teeth cleaned and they had to knock her out), I ran into OldBoss and Bosswife (apparently it’s their vet too). We got all huggy and then Oldboss took their pet to the car and Bosswife was standing there when they totted up my bill. It was way higher than I expected, and I asked if I could pay half that day and half next Friday when I get paid again (Kitty’s three recent visits put a dent in my bank account). They were fine with that, so I paid the half and Bosswife and I said bye and she left.

      Today the vet’s office called me and told me that Bosswife came in and paid the other half of my bill.


  70. James*

    I’d like some opinions regarding an ongoing “situation” at work.

    Some background: I’ve been working at a large company for a little over a year. My department is part of a larger sector that encompasses the whole floor of a building, however my specific department is very small (just the Director and I). The Director is my supervisor and I have little interaction with other staff, despite working on the same floor. I could go weeks without seeing most people (including my boss’s boss)!

    So here’s the situation: my salary is very low. My boss knows this, I know this, but we also know that a decent raise is not an option at this time. I work very hard and my boss views me as an asset. To offset the low pay, he’s always telling me I can leave early- sometimes by 6 hours!

    Leaving that early makes me uncomfortable so I don’t do it but because I only use 20 minutes of my unpaid lunch break (an hour) every day, I do sometimes leave after 4. No matter how much I protest he keeps insisting and I’ll admit now that’s it’s incredibly slow in the office (as it is during the summer, practically no work) it’s tempting to leave earlier. Not 6 hours, but maybe 2.

    Some final yet important notes: He signs off on my time cards and as I’m paid hourly, insists I put down a full day of hours even when suggesting I leave early. Also, it is true that my absence would not garner a second thought by other staff members, as the floor as a whole is very flexible re: appointments and vacation days. If someone were to come into my office (very rare) and see me gone they would assume I was out for one of the aforementioned.

    So I’m just curious: has anyone else been in this situation, and what did you do? Would you leave early once in a great while?

    1. Thinking out loud*

      Can you go talk to him and ask whether he’s willing to increase the number of vacation days you have or document somewhere that you’re only required to work 35 hours per week instead of 40? I’d explain that you appreciate his wanting to let you go early but want to make sure it’s documented so that neither of you see any negative consequences from it.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would be very worried, because while it’s unlikely you’ll be caught, technically this definitely meets the legal definition of fraud. You really shouldn’t put down more hours than you worked. Just tell him you’re not comfortable signing off on it, and maybe he’ll change it himself, which would absolve you of liability.

      Can you check on email from home, and put in hours like that, so at least it’s reasonable to say you’re working even when you’re not there?

      1. James*

        The answer to both of these is no, but is along the lines of what I thought/how I feel. Like a diet though sometimes you need reassurance to stick to your guns in the face of temptation! So thank you. I will continue to do the appropriate thing.

    3. Anonymosity*

      Depends, I guess…my boss does this sometimes before a holiday. She goes, “I don’t know why you’re still here; put your time down as usual and geddoudahere.” But it’s not all the time and it’s for SURE not six hours.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Yes, I would leave early when he suggested it. But not so frequently that I felt I was taking advantage.

      And yes, as a manager, I would send you home, paying you the full time, as a way to try to give you -something- back. In fact, I do that with my team now. They work darned hard on busy weeks, so if there’s a light week, I send them home early.

      I do understand the potential fraud problem, but it hasn’t tagged me yet, as a manager! I have actually mentioned this tactic of mine to the business manager, etc., and have gotten an understanding nod.

  71. Diddly*

    How do you explain to interviews that you’re great at organizing/attention to detail?
    These aren’t my most natural skills, they’re just what seems to come up a lot in my jobs and questions at interviews. I also never really know what they want to hear – the latest To do list fad? How I’m a member of GTD? Or that I prioritze tasks and get them done in the right order? (How much detail can you get into this…)
    I have examples of previous jobs – and tasks I did there, but this never seems to be actually what the interviewer wants to hear – in my personal life I don’t really have these skills – but I focus on them at work.

    1. AnotherFed*

      Explain with an example. Talk about a project you had to do, give a general overview of what you had to keep organized/scheduled/documented, what you did and how the project turned out or how you saved money/averted disaster/tool over the world.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t know what particularly your interviewers are looking for (you can ask them if there’s something else they’re looking for, if they still seem perplexed after you give a sample), but in general I don’t want to hear what you *are*, I want to hear what you’ve done. What have you used this organizational skills to achieve? What have you tracked and juggled? How many people, spreadsheets, and dates did it involve? I deal with a lot of recent graduates, and I’m fine with hearing about post-it layouts to identify class assignment priorities or checklists to make sure all your summer campers had passed their swimming tests before being allowed in the deep end.

  72. Diddly*

    Also, for attention to detail heavy tasks I need a good amount of focus so I can concentrate on these tasks well. I think this was a problem in my last job, I was given lots of off the cuff tasks while I was trying to get other attention to detail jobs done, and then it would get messy (not hugely – tiny things missed.) I said this was my weakness in my last interview – bad idea?
    My friend recommend I say that when I multi-task too much – or take on too much work at one go, my attention to detail is not up to the standard I pride myself on (probably better but sounds very rehearsed to me…)

    1. fposte*

      As an interviewer, I don’t like the “what’s your weakness” question, so I hope you don’t get it again. But this is an answer that risks sounding like “I don’t have good attention to detail,” so that may not be what you want to tell them if, as you note upthread, you’re trying to state you do have good attention to detail. Your friend’s answer is definitely cheesy but slightly better.

      But if it’s truthful, it’s also useful information. A couple of my staff positions require both flexibility and attention to detail, so the people in them have to be able to identify less-interruptible timeslots to save for some tasks and to get quickly back into detail-checking mindset after being interrupted. So maybe that wouldn’t be a job for you.

      Or maybe it would be if you learned how to control communications or carve out times for specific detail-oriented tasks, so maybe that would be a way to talk about the weakness. “I’d like to improve on learning to balance availability and need for focus. We live in such a do-it-now world of communications, and I like to be responsive, but sometimes a non-communication task needs deep focus and takes priority, and I’m still figuring out the best way to meet both needs.”

      1. Diddly*

        Yeah unfortunately the what’s your weakness question seems to be the go to for every interview I’ve ever been on. Previously I think I said I preferred variety and didn’t like repetitive tasks but had learned to alternate between different tasks and manage my time well which was true as well.
        Yeah I hate this question so much because they want you to be truthful but they also want a tailored response I guess. But I think your answer below is exactly true, I do like variety and flipping from task to task and being ready to help with new tasks but some tasks require a deeper focus which I can’t achieve if I’m constantly reactive or ‘on’. And I do think it’s something I’m still working on as in previously roles -as temp I’d have a fixed project to complete- usually very attention to detail heavy, but complete focus no incoming emails, phone calls etc, and I could make it less repetitive by flipping from different sections of the project, also listening to music. Other job, I alternated between attention to detail to answering customer inquiries and solving then (off-set boredom off repetitive tasks.) But my last role was very bitty and there was a constant stream of tasks added and new information and it was harder to find that focus. Anyway thank you that was helpful! Now I just need your help in figuring out all the other interview questions ;)

  73. Anon Today*

    I feel awful because I’m late on turning in a report. My stomach has been turning for the last 48 hrs, while I’ve been working my butt off to get it done. I already gave the client a large document with the majority of the findings a few weeks ago, and this report is essentially a prettier version with some extra higher-level findings. But it’s taking me forever to do it, because I’m really agonizing making every single finding actionable. And also dealing with the tediousness of editing and formatting in PPT (which I’m trying to leave mostly until the end).

    Thing is, I said I’d email it to them this morning. And at midnight last night, I realized that it just wouldn’t be possible. I’m in the US, so most people have today off and won’t read this 100-page report until next week anyway. Should I email the client to let them know I need to finish some things up but they’ll have it for Monday morning? Should I hope they’re all out of the office and won’t notice anyway? (I did get an auto-reply from the main client that she’s out of the office until Monday).

    I know that I struggle with keeping things simple and not trying to make everything perfect. Done (and on time) is better than perfect, I realize. I just feel like it’s either done right, or I’m staring at a blank page. I do want this to be done- I don’t want to spend my weekend on it. I just feel awful and ashamed that it takes me so long.

    1. Colette*

      Finish it, today, and send it out with apologies for being later than expected.

      No point in ruining your weekend over this.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Absolutely email her to acknowledge the delay. I’m far more frustrated when something doesn’t come by the deadline and the person doesn’t email to acknowledge it than by the delay itself; it makes them look disorganized and unreliable. So email her — and just because she’s out of the office doesn’t mean she’s not still expecting it today.

      1. Anon Today*

        Thanks, Alison. This was a kick in the bum that I needed. I emailed my contact there (just below the main client herself), and got an auto response from her, too. I still feel bad, and am working as fast as possible today (not even reading the other open tread comments!), but at least I feel more honest now.

  74. Tomato Frog*

    What’s your job and what works of fiction have gotten it right?

    I’m an archivist. We’re not terribly well-represented in fiction but Enough Said, where James Gandolfini plays a television archivist, didn’t get anything horribly wrong, which is all I really ask for.

    1. AnotherFed*

      I’m an engineer. I haven’t seen any fictional novels at all that has modern engineering right, but occasionally Stargate Atlantis would come close on TV. That “Hey, look! I found random bits of electronics and batteries, and if I put them together I can make Awesome Thing!” theme at least captures the spirit of it, if not the real timeline!

      1. danr*

        The original was MacGyver. He always had to put stuff together to get out of a jam.

        1. AnotherFed*

          Fortunately, my engineering career rarely (to my knowledge) has anything to do with Soviet spies.

    2. Delyssia*

      In my particular niche, I can only think of examples where they’ve gotten it wrong. Really, really wrong.

    3. Ad Astra*

      I’m in marketing, and I can’t speak to what the job was like in the ’60s, but “Mad Men” isn’t very accurate compared to how things are today.

      I used to be a journalist for community newspapers (not tiny, but not metros). Probably the most accurate depiction was Shauna Malwae-Tweep from Parks & Rec, though she was a reporter and I was an editor. Her character reminded me a lot of the reporters I worked with, and the “stories” she was sent out to cover often matched the inanity of the stuff my colleagues had to cover on slow news days.

      Early episodes of House of Cards really nailed the tension between traditional newspapers and online-only news organizations, but overall they get it wrong. So does The Newsroom. SportsNight seems to be a somewhat accurate portrayal of how things work at ESPN, based on what I’ve heard from classmates. Robin Scherbatzky’s career troubles on How I Met Your Mother strike a familiar cord, but there’s no way she could afford her own apartment in New York working for the lowest-rated local news in the market.

      Actually, my biggest complaint about fictional portrayal of journalists is that they’re always making way too much money and they never seem to work weekends or holidays. And they’re always reporters. Do you know how many different jobs there are in a newsroom?

      1. Lulubell*

        I worked in an ad agency in the late 90’s, and, when Mad Men started, I couldn’t believe how many similarities I recognized from my experience.

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      I am an editor.
      There was a terribly unrealistically glamourous trashy book called ‘The other side of the story’ by Marian Keyes where several of the main characters were editors.
      Otheriwse, the only other representation of editors I’ve seen is a Mexican film Todo el mundo tiene a algien menos yo. Uncomfortably accurate.

    5. eleven of our most annoying lawyers*

      I’m a software engineer. The Matrix got a fair number of things right before it “went down the rabbithole”. There’s a new show called Mr. Robot that has (so far) been keeping the details real – the episode names are all things like “eps1.2_d3bug.mkv” – so at least one of the writers has a good grasp of the culture. The movies Primer and Office Space are not terribly unlike reality. Silicon Valley, while it does some things totally right, it’s most just an enjoyable fantasy. Those oddball developers are a lot less amusing if you have to work with them in real life.

      Not a lot else is coming to mind, though. The sad truth is that it’s really not “exciting” in a way that works in a movie or on a television drama.

    6. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

      I am a medical librarian at a teaching hospital. My job never gets to be part of a tv show.

      But the Australian tv show The Librarians? Kind of right on the money.

    7. Lulubell*

      Not so much now, but The Devil Wears Prada came out just after I stopped working in fashion PR, and that book was spot-on.

    8. zora*

      oy. I work(ed) in public policy and advocacy and as much as I love tv shows about the craziness of DC (Scandal, House of Cards, etc) they get it sooooo wroonnggggg. It’s fun to watch for the train wreck aspect but sometimes I have to take breaks because i get so mad I want to yell at the people on the tv. I honestly can’t think of any one who has gotten it right, except documentaries. The Good Wife has come closest maybe. It’s even worse when they try to talk about “activists” and do any kind of protest or activist group storyline. That episode of Castle with the storyline about the Occupy-esque protest and the backpack bombing made me so livid I actually turned it off and refused to finish it.

      1. zora*

        Oh, and Parks and Rec is actually pretty good. ;o) Especially Leslie organizing the Parks Committee of Pawnee (PCP) and that one lady who keeps wanting to start a letter writing campaign.

        “I know for a fact that nobody in the Parks Department reads letters. Except for one person.
        Who is amazing, but she isn’t currently there, because he was suspended.”

        That is literally my life. Except you can also substitute “a viral youtube” or “an online petition” for “letter writing campaign.”

  75. Rose of Cimarron*

    Just wrote a very long comment about my despondency six months into my job (sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel really IS a moving train) but had second thoughts about posting. But thanks for being here, AAMers. This is my first holiday off since my job started, and I need to figure out a plan and an exit strategy and stop blaming myself and stop punishing myself (the job and everything it’s done to my life is punishment enough).

    Also, I’d gladly pay for this site if it meant not getting the auto-play video ads.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      There will be an option to turn off the auto play adds in your browser settings.

        1. danr*

          There is an extension in Chrome called “Stop YouTube HTML5 Autoplay”. It works for me, but others have mentioned that it doesn’t work for them. Search on the extension name in Google and you’ll see other options. The PC World article in the list is the one where I found the extension. It has some other things to try if the extension doesn’t work. Good luck.

  76. super anon*

    Anyone have any suggestions for good books for professional development? I plan on buying Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (I saw it mentioned in a thread here actually) as a lot of my work in my new role is going to be meeting with people and trying to convince them to do things they don’t want to do.. and it sounds like it might be helpful for me to look through. But, I have a lot of time on my hands currently, so I’m sure I’ll have time to go through other books as well.

    (please don’t suggest Strengthsfinders, i did it at my last job and found the entire book to be utter nonsense and more self-help than pd)

    1. AnotherFed*

      I liked some of the Myers-Briggs type indicator literature. Understanding what makes other people tick has never been a strong suit for me, so this was helpful in breaking down differences into areas I could wrap my head around, then reassembling those traits into the various permutations to get back to overall behavior and preferences. It’s not terribly good if you try to bin people into rigid boxes, but it at least provides a mental framework to help structure predictions about how people would prefer to have a situation handled and tip the situation from ‘you are so strange that I have no concept of how you think or why you just did that’ to ‘that seems odd, but I can see where you’re going and we can get there from here’.

  77. Jennifer*

    So I have an interview next week for a job I really qualify for. Huzzah! Which is good because I had my review and was told that I am so awful that I’m no longer eligible for automatic raises and if I’m not DRASTICALLY BETTER by next year, well….I’m assuming they mean they’ll fire me for sucking. They keep asking what they can do to help me improve, but other than “take me off public service” (which they categorically will. not. do.), fuck if I know. I can’t do anything right. ANYTHING. Yesterday I got in trouble for not putting a space on a letter between the date and the name. Seriously?!

    As a friend of mine pointed out, all they do is tell me to suck less. I thought about asking how they’d decide if I’ve improved or not, but I think (a) they’d have no idea, and (b) I have pissed all over my reputation so much that nothing I do matters and I look bad no matter what even if say, I didn’t get written up this year. The more I try, the more they think I’m awful and complain that I’m not obviously taking care of everything with ease. I feel like Cinderella’s stepsisters–I cut off my toes to fit into these shoes and they’re complaining that I bleed on the carpet. Sigh. Anyway, during my review I told my boss I have the interview (which is being held IN MY OFFICE, ARGH, so it’d be seen anyway) and she was delighted for me. Huzzah for that. Heck, she offered to be a reference since this job involves my area of expertise and doesn’t involve public service.

    Anyway….what does one wear for an interview when the weather is 100 degrees? And how the hell can I hide from my coworkers so they don’t find out about this and I’m going to have to wait in the lobby (where everyone sees me) until 8:30?

    1. IndianSummer*

      I live in a very warm climate and wore a sleeveless dress with a 3/4 sleeve blazer to my interview. It was warm but tolerable.

      Good luck!

  78. ScottySmalls*

    I had a interview this week, yay!! It’s for a job that’s local to me, but when I asked if it was a phone interview they said it was at the headquarters, 2+ hours away during morning traffic. There wasn’t a lot of questions, I felt they could have asked me them over the phone. Especially since the 2nd interview will be in the new office they are opening here. Is it possible they were testing whether applicants would be willing and able to drive for the job?

  79. IndianSummer*

    I had an interview this week that I was really hopeful would work out. In the end, it did not go very well. I’m ok with that because the following warning signs were presented:

    – A sign prominently displayed in the hiring manager’s office that said “I’m not bossy, I’m just [something].”
    – Two of the interviewers were on the phone rather than present in the office. (Not egregious, but I would have preferred to actually meet them.)
    – The hiring manager said she was looking for someone who could anticipate where she would stand on issues. (Not an outrageous request, I guess, but it seemed more like she was looking for an assistant than an analyst.)
    – I was asked what I look for in a manager. I ended my thought process with organized. The hiring manager’s eyes got big as she pointed around her office and said, “This is actually organized for me.” (I told a story about a former manager who had to physically move items out of the way so that we could have a conversation in her office. This hiring manager nodded in acknowledgement that she followed the same behavior. Point taken.)
    – It was not disclosed until near the end of the interview that the person interviewing me was not actually the hiring manager. She would be the day to day supervisor, but someone else (who I did not meet) would be the manager on paper. If I made it to the next round (round 3), I would meet the actual manager.
    – After the interview, as the hiring manager led me out, she said she was friends with someone at my current organization. It turned out to be my former manager, who was demoted in January. (The former manager was actually my reason for tacking on organized in answer to the What-I-Look-For-In-A-Manager question.)

    Are these red flags for others? Is it just me?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I think if they are red flags to you, they are red flags.

      I always have to move things when people come to talk to me. I’ve got all kinds of crap piled up. The last thing I want is to work with someone who has an issue with that (’cause, I ain’t changing).

      There’s not a thing on your list that would red flag ME, because not one of those things would have bothered me, but culture match is a Real Thing. Hiring managers talk about how important culture match is and I think that prospective employees, eager for a job, often gloss over bad matches. Asking an employer to be a match for the kind of culture you prefer is wise.

      1. IndianSummer*

        Thanks for the feedback!

        I guess organization popped into my mind because this former manager was on the extreme end of disorganization – there was food all over the office and splenda spilled all over the desk. However, the bigger issue was that her disorganization spread into her management style. She was like a tornado, leaving a trail of destruction in her path.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I can’t say there’s not a correlation.

          In my case, there’s not a correlation. I’m borderline OCD organized in my computer, in our processes and in my communications.

          It seems like the way people organize their physical space should correlate, but it doesn’t with me. In my case, I hyper focus on the things I value and I don’t value my physical space being in any sort of order. (Which reminds me, I started a project two months ago to dump my entire desk and then forgot about it.)

    2. AnotherFed*

      Those wouldn’t be red flags for me, but I tend towards more love of chaos in everything but Really Big Deal topics, like getting paid on time. However, if you hate disorganization, don’t want to have to anticipate your manager’s stance, and don’t want to have the potential chaos of two sort-of bosses, then it sounds like this job has some serious drawbacks for you. Kudos to you for recognizing these things as red flags before you had already committed to this company! Whether you decide to take the job anyway or keep looking, at least you had your eyes open and are making an informed decision about it – too many people want a job so badly they ignore anything that seems less than ideal.

      1. IndianSummer*

        Thanks for the feedback!

        Other aspects of the job just weren’t for me, but these items popped out at me as things that would likely make me crazy. I am not expecting a call back, but if I do receive one, I will decline.

    3. Steve G*

      The what-do-you-look-for-in-a-manager one looks iffy to me, I mean, they can’t change the manager based on your answer…………..

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, but they can make sure they don’t put you in a job working under someone who will make you miserable. It goes to wanting to find the right fit on both sides, which is in the candidate’s best interests too.

  80. Name changed to protect the innocent*

    Well, the day I’ve dreaded for years has finally arrived. My direct report, whom I respect and rely on as a colleague and love dearly as a friend, has told me he is going to retire. I know it is the right thing for him at this time in his life but I am heartbroken and will miss him more than words can express.

    At the moment, I’m toying with the idea of “reverting” back to his job – the one I held before I applied for my current job (I hired him to fill my previous role). While it would undoubtedly be a pay cut, it would allow me to focus on the parts of my current job that I love, without the management parts that I hate. I just had this idea last night (he broke the news yesterday afternoon) and I’m wondering what thoughts people might have? Honestly, the idea of starting fresh managing a new young person without much experience in his position, on top of my full-time-plus job, is making me hyperventilate. After almost a decade in my current job I’m ready to let someone else deal with the stress.

    1. fposte*