open thread – July 31, 2015

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,275 comments… read them below }

  1. Hooligan

    Any project managers out there? I just moved into project management after working as a data analyst for 5 years. I’m really happy with the move, but I haven’t figured out what my career progression could look like. There’s working on increasingly complicated and big projects. And there’s a list of skills I can upgrade (stakeholder management, budgeting, getting my PMI cert). I’m not sure how it would in terms of formal career progression. With analysis, it was pretty clear, data analyst – > senior analyst – > run my own analytics teams. I guess I could go from PM to director of PM, but I don’t have a super specific understanding of that progression.

    Anyone willing to share their own experience?

    1. Rock

      My (limited) understanding is that this will vary a lot by field. Might help to give what industry you’re in?
      I am not a PM, but my industry has them. Around here at least it seems to be PMs with more experience get meatier projects with a lot more moving parts and a lot more risk and potential gain. The career progression isn’t laddered … specifically… but PMs are sometimes the ones who get tapped for Division Managers etc. We have one person who is titled Executive Project Manager, who manages the managers of a number of related projects, but that is a pretty specific situation/client, and I don’t know if it’s typical at all.

      1. AnotherAlison

        I’m on the “E” side of an EPC company, and it’s similar. We typically start as engineering leads, move to engineering manager, project manager, project sponsor (over more than 1 project), then area manager (over a whole set of projects in a common market), and then up to DM or some other layer of senior management. You’ll also move up through the capital range — a guy in charge of a billion dollar job has done a few before. Sometimes, PMs (or people at any point on that path) will get tapped to go to another division and PM there or they get assigned to a special project for corporate.

        1. Hooligan

          So I also think the reason I’m having trouble envisioning a concrete pathway is that my company is small and growing. We just built our PM team this winter/spring and we’re working on developing systems and processes. It’s not like I can see what path people who came before me took, because no one came before me. My manager came out of a client services role, not PM.

          1. AnotherAlison

            My company is large but my specific division grew about 7-fold from when I started 10 years ago. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have done things much differently. Layers of positions will likely be created that you can’t even imagine now. It sounds like by moving into PM, you’re well-positioned to take advantage of the growth. I wouldn’t sweat it too much, unless “PM” starts to look like will-do-anything-required and you’re doing things you don’t want to do. For example, the PM role I have now used to be structured 50% sales/50% PM. I would have hated that, but once they changed it, I was interested in moving to this job.

    2. Dawn

      I had the option to go either PM or Analyst and I chose Analyst because I hate doing PM with a fiery passion. Good PMs are like a combination of miracle workers and saints and are essential when doing any sort of software project at all.

      Be really honest with yourself about your capacity to organize and manage projects. PM progression usually has you starting out managing a smaller project, then moving on to bigger and more complex project and probably working in tandem with other PMs, then if you’re management track you’ll be put in charge of other PMs who are responsible for projects and then you just go up the ladder until you’re managing a lot of PMs and projects.

      70-80% of the PM jobs I see advertised require the PM certification so set your sights on getting that early and keep your certification current.

    3. SanguineAspect

      I’ve been a project manager for the last 5 years or so, and as Rock said below, it can very a lot by industry. I’m in software development, and I’ve worked exclusively with companies who are proponents of “agile development,” so having something like a PMI cert would be fine, but wasn’t necessarily as valued as, say, a CSM (Certified Scrum Master) certification. Experience counts for a lot as well. There are other companies where PMI certifications are highly valued, and someone like me probably wouldn’t fit their qualifications. Things like compensation amount seem to me to have to do more with your years of experience, rather than your title. “Project Manager” can mean someone with 0 or 20 years of experience.

      1. SanguineAspect

        Coming back to say that my title has varied in different organizations. I’ve been a “Scrum Master,” “Project Manger,” “Sr. Project Manager,” “Sr. Associate Program Manager” and “Project Director” at 4 different companies. I don’t place a lot of value on titles. As a “Project Director” in my current role, I’m client-facing and typically run 2-3 projects ($100k-$800k, depending on size) and 1-2 paid Research and Analysis projects ($30k-$60k) at a time. No other PMs report into me. In my prior role as a “Sr. Associate Program Manager” I did much the same.

    4. JBeane

      PM here, and I agree that it really depends on your industry. In my former industry project managers would be promoted to account managers and then move up the client-facing ladder. Now I’m doing more software project management and it seems like career progression takes you into program management over multiple projects.

    5. The Toxic Avenger

      Hey there Hooligan! I’m a senior-level technical project manager and my area of expertise is infrastructure (server operations, networking, storage, virtualization, disaster recovery, and the like). I have recently moved into program management (managing a series of projects that collectively achieve a goal that a single project cannot achieve on its own). Congratulations on your career change! I was an analyst for many years, and I still enjoy that kind of work. Having an analysis background will serve you very well as a PM, because you will know how to ask the right questions, dig for answers, press for details and challenge assumptions.

      Your career track may look like this: PM – Senior PM – Program Manager. I would recommend this progression if you are not interested in managing people (spoiler alert: I am not – I tried it and it did not work for me). If you are interested in being a manager / senior leader, it could look like PM – Senior PM – PM Manager – Director.

      I hope this helps!

      1. The Toxic Avenger

        Oh…and…my personal opinion is that the PMI cert is not that valuable; I had mine from 2001 – 2009, and it was nothing but alphabet soup. However, some companies may require it. You may want to go ahead and get it just to put an extra feather in your cap!

        1. AnotherAlison

          Interesting. . .of the 14 PMs in my group, only 1 has a PMI cert. I don’t think it’s very useful in my industry (people look at the PE license, MBA, or EMan degree more), but I was under the impression that it was a bigger deal for positions like the one you describe.

          1. Hooligan

            I’m thinking it might make sense to get it if my company pays for it to have on my resume. If I ever want to go somewhere else, I can check that box. I do see it in job ads. I figure it might also give me better facility with the terms people in the field use.

            1. AnotherAlison

              Yeah, if you don’t have to fund it and you have time, why not?

              Related, I have a professional acquaintance who was laid off from a director position with a manufacturing company last fall and has struggled to find a new position. He revealed he’s getting some sort of lean six sigma certification now, because despite 25 years of experience and knowing the principles, he’s losing out on jobs by not having the certification.

        2. M

          Agreed! PM here w/ 11 years experience and no PMP and no desire whatsoever to get it (my firm won’t pay for it, I’m too cheap, and I just don’t want to back into study/test mode) The one thing it will do for you is get you past SOME HR/recruiters, but that’s about it.

    6. hooligan

      For those who asked about my industry:
      I work on IT implementations for a tech start up. My work is heavily client facing, and I got this job because I used to work in the industry most of my clients are in. I don’t have any background in the software engineering end of of business.

      1. Hooligan

        Also, I really like working with people and with clients. I enjoy brainstorming with colleauges how I’m going to approach a tricky interaction.I’ve had some challenging situations already, and while frustrating, I see them as opportunities to develop soft skills. I enjoy working with people far more than spending 5 hours a day looking at a Stata green screen or making pivot tables (though I’m glad I have those skills). I’m in IT now, and I have not IT background, and I’m wondering how much IT content knowledge I’ll need to move forward. Like I said in my first update, it’s really my client industry knowledge that faciliated this career change.

        I love my job so far. It really taps into my intuitive skill set. I have days that I show up to work and I’m like “this is what I’m meant to be doing.” In the past, it felt like I was capable of doing my job, but it was too much of a slog.

        1. Girasol

          In my company a PM job is different depending on the department. Some are admin supports taking minutes and updating status reports for a technical lead who is truly managing the project. Some do waterfall management (where PMI training is quite useful) and some do Agile scrum. Some move into program management and others are program managers in all but title. We have several project management offices (PMOs) where project managers who have moved up manage the process and measure the success of project managers. It seems like project management is a bit different wherever you find it. At the very least, if you’re exercising the skills from PMI or Agile training, you’re practicing a lot of the skills of a manager, which could open that career path. On the other hand, if helping groups solve problems is your bent, have you looked at business analysis? That’s another interesting possibility that can be a write-your-own-ticket sort of job.

    7. The IT Manager

      It depends. For my organization:
      Project Manager (smaller -> larger projects) -> Program Manager -> Portfolio Manager

      There’s also a stop in there to be a people manager/supervisor of PMs who are matrixed to another chain of command for projects, but need a supervisor to keep an eye on training and provide feedback.

      However my organization is huge and it sounds like your company might not have programs and portfolios as next steps.

    8. kirsten

      I’ve been working in project management since 2007 in the Market Research industry. My career path was associate -> PM -> Senior PM. As a Senior PM I take on the higher level projects and manage 2-3 associates/PM’s. My next step up from here would be Director and I would then manage other SPM’s (I am still a few years off from this though.)

      Can you talk to HR about what a career path would be? In some companies I’ve seen a good career path within project mgmt and in other companies I’ve seen people get promoted into a client facing role after they get good project mgmt experience. I am happy my company doesn’t do that because I enjoy project mgmt.

      As far as the PMI cert no one in my company has it so I don’t plan to get it but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to get it.

      good luck!

  2. Beancounter in Texas

    Has anyone posted a resume/seeking job advertisement on Craigslist (or some other such similar site)? I have a dream job ad written for myself, but I was wondering whether it could be used as a marketing tool to attract potential employers. Has anyone done something similar? How did you do it?

    1. Lizzy

      I have done it before and I would get bombarded with recruiters for commission-based sales positions and sometimes even scammers. There were also a couple of really weird ones in there, like someone looking for women willing to pose for private boudoir photo session for his clientele (I didn’t put any identifying info either whether I was male or female).

      A friend of mine had some relative success landing freelance work that helped him break into his field. He said small, growing businesses occasionally look for talent that way.

      You could try it, but I don’t think it is the best method.

      1. Beancounter in Texas

        I agree it’s probably not the best method, but the only alternative of which I can think is using my LinkedIn profile as a match-maker’s ad (kick-ass QuickBooks bookkeeper seeking small business employer with casual dress code). I’m not likely to be seen as much there, I wouldn’t think. I’m basically wanting to advertise myself like employers advertise available positions and interview employers who bite (as much as they would interview me). Maybe that’s Just Not How Things Work in the employment match-making… Although writing that out, perhaps teaming up with recruiters is what I need to do… Or become self employed. :|

        1. Dynamic Beige

          You could also start a website that is your ad. There are plenty of services out there that get advertised (like Wix) as build it yourself with our templates easy. Craigslist may be cheap and a lot of people may use it because of that but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find the right people.

          There was a woman up here at some point in the last year who walked around the downtown core with a hand made sign/sandwich board about how she was looking for a job in marketing. It was on all the newscasts and generated a lot of “is this a good idea/is this what job seekers have come to?” commentary. She did get a job and the company that hired her was also on the news (hmmm). I don’t know if she still has that job, or how that job is going.

  3. ACA

    I got the job!!!!

    The offer letter came in on Wednesday. They listed the salary by month (rather than by year), and I wasn’t reading closely because I missed the decimal point and was like, “That is less than I am making now, wtf.” At which point I noticed I’d missed the word “monthly,” did the math, and almost spit out my drink when I realized that it’s almost a 20% increase on my current salary, and significantly more than I was asking for. So, yeah, I accepted that without any need to negotiate.

    I haven’t given notice yet because one of my managers is on vacation, and I’d rather meet with her and my boss at the same time – hopefully that can be first-thing on Monday! I’m probably going to spend all weekend freaking out about it, especially because I’ve never had to give notice before. Anyone have any advice?

    1. Beancounter in Texas

      I’ve Googled for resignation letters to get the right wording, but usually I come out right with the facts. “Boss, I’ve accepted another job.”

      Congratulations!!

    2. GOG11

      There are some really great resources on here under the “resigning” tag. Congratulations!!!! I love that you nearly spit your drink out when you realized it is per month.

    3. Cruciatus

      Congrats! I just did this on Monday (for the first time as well)! I told my boss in person first. I just ripped the bandage off. I was freaking out about his reaction. I just said that I wanted to tell him that received and accepted another offer but I had enjoyed my work while I was here. Then I wrote a very short letter to HR. Just about 3 of 4 sentences–basically what Alison has suggested to people. “After 4.5 years here at XXXX I have made the difficult decision to move on. My last day will be Aug. 7. I wish XXXX continued success.” That’s really about it. Took it to HR and they got the ball rolling with what I need to do by next Friday. You’ll be fine, I promise! After I got it out I felt a weight taken off my shoulders.

    4. Retail Lifer

      Congratulations! You need to put it in writing that you’re resigning and what your last day will be. That’s all any HR manager ever requested of me.

    5. Shell

      Oh, I sympathize with the freaking out about resigning. I didn’t like the first job I resigned from and I was still anxious about resigning; when I resigned from my last job I was practically hyperventilating because I did like my bosses and was afraid of…I don’t know what, considering I knew those bosses were very chill, very reasonable people.

      You’ll be fine. I padded my resignation speech more than was necessary (“I wasn’t really looking, but this fell into my lap” etc. ad nauseum, even though it was true). But the bosses took it very well and congratulated me.

      Deep breaths and good luck!

      1. AggrAV8ed Tech

        I’m gonna need advice in about a year for what to do when resigning when you DON’T like your boss. :)

    6. Kyrielle

      Congratulations!!

      For speaking to them, I just said, “I wanted to let you know I am resigning, and my last day will be (date).” I think I added that I really enjoyed working there / working with him, which was true, but that’s not necessary. Not every company will want a letter of resignation as well as verbal so I didn’t write one – my HR asked for one.

      So I wrote and sent something along the lines of, “This is to formally let you know that I am resigning, and my last day will be (date). In my (#) years working here, I have learned a lot and been proud to be part of the team. I will miss everyone lots, and wish you the best.”

      (Again, all of that was honest in my case. It’s usually nice to say something positive if you can, I think, whether it’s about the opportunities or the people or something, but really the important sentence is the first one.)

    7. Bea W

      Congratulations! I got a spit out my drink offer on my last search and it was hard not to go skipping off down the halls of my current office.

      1. Bea W

        I also worked on a miserable toxic environment and it was really hard not to announce my resignation with a marching band, streamers, ballons, and confetti. In the end I opted for the subdued, starchy but professional couple lines on plain white copy paper.

        1. ACA

          I personally want to announce mine with skywriting, but that might be prohibitively expensive. :D

      2. Honeybee

        I was really glad I was off when I got my offer so I could celebrate properly, but I was also driving down a highway for a weekend trip. I had to pull over at a rest stop so I could listen to the offer details and scream a little scream.

    8. JMegan

      Wow, congratulations!

      On the resignation letter, just talk to your boss first. You may not need one at all, or if you do, she can tell you exactly what to put in it. Done and done. Good luck!

    9. INFJ

      Congratulations!

      I have recently quit for the first time (for a reason other than going away to college). I was super nervous because I actually liked my boss and job at the time, but found a job that allowed me to use my background in both X and Y, whereas old job was strictly X with no ability to do Y. That helped a little, because I was able to honestly tell my boss that I had been happy on his team, but found an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.

      Before I give any resignation advice, please make sure that the offer no longer has any contingencies (background check, etc.) and that you have agreed upon a start date for the new position before resigning from the old.

      Now that that’s out of the way, my advice is to keep it simple and honest. Let your manager(s) know that you appreciate what you learned and accomplished in your position with them (as much as is true). Pick a last day and BE FIRM if they ask for more. You did good by deciding to wait a day to do it in person. If you haven’t already told others, make sure nobody else at work finds out before your boss.

      Good luck and try not to be too nervous this weekend!

      1. ACA

        I already have a start date (August 24), but I’m not actually sure what my last day is. I know my last day in the office will be August 14, and then I have a pre-planned vacation the 16th-21st. Since it’s technically an internal transfer (different department, same university), I think I’ll be able to stay on payroll while I’m on vacation? I don’t know. It’s one of the things I’ll have to talk with my HR manager about.

    10. Elizabeth West

      Congrats!!!

      LOL, I did the same thing when I got the offer for this job–I misread the number and thought they were offering me less. I asked my boss about it and she pointed out my error and thankfully didn’t hold it against me!

    11. SanguineAspect

      Congratulations!! A 20% increase is really exciting and it’s fantastic that you’re so excited about the role! Spend the weekend celebrating and don’t sweat the resignation too much. I think in-person is a really good impulse. As some others have suggested, I’d follow up the conversation with an email to HR, letting them know about your resignation conversation and when your last day will be.

    12. Hermoine Granger

      Congrats! Depending on your work relationship, it probably doesn’t need to be anything complex but let them know ASAP.

    13. NoCalHR

      Congratulations!!! A 20% raise is wonderful news!!!
      And giving notice is easy:
      TODAY’S DATE
      Manager Name –
      I am resigning effective DATE. My last day of work will be DATE2.
      (signed) ACA.
      You can add a line or two about appreciating the opportunities, or the great work environment, or whatever. If you’ll need to transition work, you can say something about that as well. Some of this will depend on your company and your relationship with your manager & boss. However all you need are the four lines above.

    14. Jesse

      Congrats!

      From the boss’s side of things, we almost always know when people come to the door all nervous and say “Do you have a minute?” So then you really can just say it, and it’s fine. Especially early-career staff, I’m always happy to see them advancing, even (or especially) when I’m sad to see them go!!

  4. Folklorist

    I feel dumb for having to ask this, but…can someone please explain billable hours to me?

    I went from working through several temp agencies (including temp-to-perm at my current job—I’m exempt now; wasn’t before), and where I had to always have 8 hours on the books for the temp job, I now don’t know how to charge my time. No one taught me best practices for doing my timesheet here, so I’ve always just rounded my hours to make sure that there were 8 in a day, unless I took sick time or something. I’m so confused about how to even handle lunch that I normally just work through it. When I asked my boss about how to handle it, he just said “handle it like you’ve always handled lunch.”

    But, in a recent Open Thread, there was a long discussion about procrastination and how much time people actually spend WORKING at work—and several people said that they can work 45 hours in a week, but they might only get 35 billable hours out of it. Then someone else in my department mentioned off-handedly to me the other day that she under-bills a lot of the time, and sometimes only puts in for 23-25 hours.

    How does this work? I’m afraid if I start billing for the actual hours I work (like, taking out lunch or unexpectedly extended AAM breaks), they’ll think my productivity is dropping—even if it stays the same. But I also don’t want to over-charge on my projects. (BTW, I’m not a lawyer and don’t work with clients; many of our project funds come from different grants.)

    1. Anon369

      Can you find another person at your company to ask? This is probably a know-your-office. (Are they billing for contracts, for expense allocation, etc.?)

    2. misspiggy

      Billable hours works differently depending on the profession. If you’re grant funded, your organisation should be telling you very clearly what goes in as billable and what doesn’t. If you’re just being asked to put in timesheets for your total hours worked, and someone else decides what should be billed to which grant, it would make sense to be as accurate as possible.

    3. AnotherAlison

      You would really need to get this clarification from your manager.

      I am a project manager for small cap engineering projects. Our budgets are small and typically ‘time and material,’ so we are very careful about billable hours. I can only charge the client on my time sheet for hours I worked on their project, so if that was 8 working hours, it’s 8 hours. If it’s 7 hours plus a one-hour department meeting, then it’s 7 hours billed to the client and 1 hour to overhead. There’s not a place for charging lunch or AAM-reading time. If I take 1 hour for lunch and 30 minutes doing nothing, then I need to work 9.5 hours that day to fill the 8 hours on my timesheet. There is of course some leeway for off-task time, but that’s a sense that I’ve developed over years and varies by manager, company, industry, etc.

      Now, if I worked on our large cap jobs with multi-million dollar budgets, the time-charging philosophy is different. They put all 40 hours per week on their time sheet for that project, even if they had department meetings or other things I would charge to overhead. The reason is that those projects are structured differently contractually and it’s covered. (The details would be a lot to get into on here.)

      Overtime hours are a whole other wrinkle. I don’t get paid if I work 45 hours, but we still bill those 5 hours to the client, so I have to put it on my time sheet.

        1. AnotherAlison

          You have to get manager approval to charge to overhead in that situation. We also have some work that the department manager will assign you that is OH anyway (training, proposals, department tool development). If I’m spending a 40-hour week doing OH projects for my manager, I’m not too worried about making sure I was 100% on-task 8 hours/day. The main concern is making sure we bill clients fairly.

        2. hermit crab

          In addition to getting approval for overhead/indirect tasks, like AnotherAlison described, other things I have done in various circumstances include: walk around the office asking if anyone has anything I can do; carefully review the work I just did to make sure it’s 100% awesome; see if there are any administrative-type tasks that are billable to a specific project (e.g., organizing files we’ve been to busy to tackle until now); go home and take the rest of the day as vacation; and go home and assume I will have enough hours later in the week to make up for it. But we have a very thorough workload tracking process and a lot of long-term projects, so work shortages are almost never a surprise.

    4. hermit crab

      I totally get where you are coming from. I’ve been there! It is NOT a dumb question, but there are a lot of different billable hours models and requirements/best practices for your company could be completely different from someone else’s. The way we do things, working on federal contracts, is probably way different from your grant-funded model, so if I explain how we do things it might not be useful to you.

      Your manager probably just finds this all so second-nature that he doesn’t realize nobody ever told you what to do. I think you really just have to have a more detailed conversation with someone about expectations. If you are uncomfortable talking to your manager about this, I’d recommend going to a friendly coworker first. You can frame it like you just want to clarify things, which is true.

      1. zora

        or go to the person who processes the hours? At my last job where we had to report time for grant-funding, our payroll person was the most helpful because he was the one who understood the grant reporting the best and what information they wanted. See if there’s a person like that who can explain it more clearly than your boss has.

    5. RR

      This is usually a really really important issue, but one that varies not only by industry, but by organization. Your supervisor should be able to detail for you how to charge your time. I work in the arena of grant-funded activities. Anyone who charges time to a grant must be able to demonstrate that they were working on that specific grant. Actual hours by actual activities. Your organization could be subject to criminal charges if you have Federal funding and the US Government is charged for work that was not performed.

      For those of us who are not working on specific grants have other charge codes to use for our time. Re AAM: as a manager, I have no qualms about charging my time reading AAM to my general management charge code – I figure it’s clearly a work-related activity. I’ve also pointed staff to this website, and have no problems with them spending a bit of work time reading this. I figure it makes us all more efficient performers in the long run. Now, if I decide to spend an extended amount of time reading the comment threads, that I do on break, and I don’t charge that time.

    6. RG

      OK, I work as a patent agent at a law firm, so this may vary for you. So, a lot of orgs have a fixed fee schedule for different types of projects. Then, within the fixed fee, there is a certain amount of money you’re allowed to bill for based on the type of work and your particular role in the project. Divide the amount of money by your billing rate, and voila, there’s the amount of time you can bill. If you spend more time than you can bill, then that’s bad, because you can’t bill it even though you’re still working on it. If you spend less time, that’s great, because you still bill all of the allowed time even though you’ve moved on to something else.

      Now, everyone honestly gets distracted, but people usually still bill for that time – unless they’ve been goofing off for like an hour or something. I would only bill time didn’t lunch if I actually worked through lunch. I’m a bit worried that they would expect you to bill 8 hours everyday though. Typically, you wouldn’t bill dedicated breaks – as opposed to getting distracted for a few minutes. To expect you to bill 8 hours a day everyday would assume that you work through lunch or that you are constantly making time on your work, which would assume that the budget for that work is too high, the work is fairly simple, and/or you’ve done that type of work often enough for it to be second nature.

    7. MaryMary

      Billable hours vary not only by organization, but sometimes by client contract. Some contracts are very specific about what can and cannot be billed to the client. In general, work that directly pertains to the client or project in question is billed to the client. Tasks that are not specific to a client are billed elsewhere, such as professional development. Lunch is not billed if you take a break, if you work through it you bill according to the word you did.

      But ask your manager. It’s much better to ensure you’re billing correctly than to go back and try to fix old time sheets.

    8. The IT Manager

      You need clarification from your office. If your time is being billed to different grants depending on what you work on there should be very clear cut instructions. For example, if you do an hour of web-based training that is work you will be paid for, but there’s a good chance that it is not billable to a particular grant because it’s considered overhead.

      Now if you are just talking about filling in your timesheet to show you worked 8 hours – no break out – it’s an entirely different story. You said you’re exempt, just put in 8 hours for every day if that’s the standard unless you left early, took leave, or worked late.

    9. DaBlonde

      Since you are exempt and your project has multiple funding grants, there is probably someone at your office who oversees all of the grant money and expenses. Find out who this person is and ask her how she would like the hours billed.
      At my office, billable hours are sometimes split on a percentage basis and sometimes on an hourly basis.
      For example, my current job I teach one group of students in the morning and then switch and tutor an entirely different group in the afternoon. Each class is funded by a different grant. My hours are billed based on the actual hours that I spend with each group.
      In the past when I was doing clerical work for multiple projects, my time would simply be split by billing 30% to Grant A and 70% to Grant B because I was continuously working on both throughout the day but Grant B had a heavier workload.

    10. bridget

      I weighed in on the open thread re: billable hours, but my answer was specific to law firms. Basically, I get paid a salary, but the way that my company gets paid by our clients is by sending an invoice saying “bridget spent 1.3 hours on Tuesday reviewing and revising Contract X” and “bridget spent 4.5 hours on Wednesday drafting Motion Y.” So my metrics are determined by how much time I bill; I have a set number of hours I am supposed to be hitting on an annual basis, and I keep track on a daily and weekly basis so I can know whether I’m up to pace for the year. Rules of legal ethics say that I have to bill my time in increments of 1/10 of an hour (six minutes), and I can’t round to the nearest hour or half hour, just the nearest tenth of an hour. Anything less precise is unethical. Lawyers track this in various ways, with more or less precision. Plenty of people leave the clock running while they go refill their coffee in the break room or go to the bathroom, because they are probably still in the mode of thinking about Contract X or Motion Y. Unless it was a working lunch, I don’t know anybody who would count lunchtime. Extended AAM breaks or other internet browsing are not ok. My general rule of thumb is that if whatever break I’m taking is more than 10-15 minutes, I stop the clock because I will probably get my brain unplugged enough from the project that it’s not ok to bill a client for that time. Smaller interruptions are just part of the cost of hiring a human to do the work, in my mind.

      So, none of this may apply to a temp agency. You need to check with your company to figure out how they figure out billable hours.

    11. Creag an Tuire

      Tenthing the “you need to ask your manager, not Ask A Manger”.

      Just to give you an example from WifesJob, though, their concept of billable time is that you detail the amount of time you’ve spent working on any given client project — 3 hours on the Wakeem’s Teapots account, 2 on Teapots Unlimited, etc., and that any time not directly connected to projects — so not just lunch but filling out HR paperwork, using downtime to take a company training, spending 30 minutes checking your e-mail, whatever — has to be marked as unbillable time. (Which doesn’t mean you don’t get -paid- for the time, just that the company doesn’t get to bill it to a client. Of course, companies with a billable time model usually expect you to maintain a certain ratio of billable hours/hours at work.)

      Hope this helps.

    12. Student

      Ask what the time sheets are actually used for.

      I work on grant-based research. Every place I’ve worked handled this differently. Some of them just want to use it to track your vacation / sick / holiday time allotments. Some don’t use it for anything – they don’t actually care at all what you put down and base no business decisions off the information, and only “track” the information because somebody told them it was a funding requirement to do so. Some use it to carefully track how much resources each different task or project takes, and re-balance the resources periodically based on the info.

    13. afiendishthingy

      That’s pretty annoying nobody’s bothered to explain it to you, because as you can see, it’s very workplace specific. My hours are billed to Medicaid, and there are very strict specifications on what each member of the clinical team can bill. A year into my job I’m still occasionally asking coworkers or my manager “Can I bill for this?” or “What code does this get billed under?” I’m fortunate to have a coworker who loves to make lists and templates and manuals for every process, and she gave me a big explanatory document on Teapot Masseuse Billable Activities when I started. If your manager is as hands off as he sounds, do you have any colleagues who might be able to give you more information on the process?

  5. Rin

    Calling all authors: what do you put in your queries? I’ve had a couple of versions, with friends looking over them, and no one’s biting. I don’t want to misrepresent my work by making the query super exciting/eye-catching. I feel stuck. Thanks!

    1. Charlotte Collins

      I don’t currently write queries, but Writer’s Digest tends to have a lot of advice and resources for query letters.

    2. katamia

      Take a look at Miss Snark’s archives at missnark.blogspot.com. This is also a pretty good article: blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/08/how-to-write-query-letter.html. Hoping these don’t show up as links so they don’t get stuck in moderation.

    3. hannah

      Your query should answer the following three questions in 250-300 words: what does your protagonist want? what do they have to do to get it? and what will happen if they fail?

      I got this advice from Absolute Write’s Query Letter Hell forum (you have to sign in to access this particular sub-forum). I highly recommend you visit this site, it has tons of great advice – from writers, agents and publishers. You can also post your query there for critique and read over critiques others have been given.

    4. LisaLee

      You should check out Query Shark (queryshark.blogspot.com). The literary agent who runs the site, Janet Reid, takes real query letters and explains what does and doesn’t work in each of them, which I think is way more helpful than just having a formula.

    5. Red

      Hey fellow querier! I find that composing a query letter is more agonizing than just writing and revising the manuscript itself. I don’t have a knack for correspondence. AbsoluteWrite’s Query Hell and QueryShark are both really good resources as others have already suggested. QueryTracker is also a really useful site, moreso for researching agents and response times.

      One hot tip is to not include a complete synopsis of the work in the query. Your ending/conclusion should be left up in the air a bit – you want the agent to be enticed. Nevertheless, I recommend starting by refining your elevator pitch, blurb, and synopsis. That will really help you crystallize how you want to describe your work to an agent.

      Make sure you’re also targeting your queries appropriately. Research your agents thoroughly. You don’t want to get hooked with a scammer or waste your time querying someone who isn’t into what you’re offering. Same for if you’re looking at small or indie presses. Pretty much anyone can hang out a shingle and say they’re an agent. It pays to know who they’ve repped and what they’ve sold (and to whom). Also, aim high and work your way down!

      As a cautionary tale… I’ve had a small press divulge my personal information and entire manuscript to a third party site, and I realized too late that an elderly agent I queried might be senile. Don’t be me!

    6. Fact & Fiction

      Tons of good advice given already; I definitely echo the recs to check out Miss Snark, Query Shark, and Absolute Write’s Query Hell. I don’t frequent AW as much as I did before I got an agent, but there is a lot of great info there.

  6. Sandy

    I have had an absolutely brutal week at work- I am seriously starting to question humanity. Too much death, hatred, cruelty, etc.

    Any tried and true strategies for pushing away? Surely some EMTs, emergency room nurses, social workers, etc. on here have some tips.

    1. Folklorist

      I’ve felt like this a lot lately. There was a recent spate of violence in my neighborhood (someone shot half a block from me; another person 4 blocks away was shot, dumped in a trashcan, and burned). Now all I seem to see around me is violence and heartache. I wish I had something more productive to say other than “I feel you,” but will be watching this thread with interest!

        1. Folklorist

          Let’s just say major East Coast city and leave it at that. My neighborhood used to be a very dangerous one and has gotten much better over the past ~15 years or so. I’ve never felt unsafe there before this summer. The entire city has seen a huge increase in violence this summer, so it’s not just my neighborhood. My friend had a shooting on her block the same night as the shooting on mine, and she lives in the “nicer” part of town, where I had been thinking of moving.

          But, this summer, two of my friends were robbed on separate occasions and another close friend of mine found two(!!!) guns in the street by her house on the same night. (Turned out, a guy was fleeing the police and tossed them out the window.) It’s just been a very surreal, icky-feeling summer.

      1. Paige Turner

        Either I know where this is, or this happened in more than one place in the US recently :(

    2. AndersonDarling

      I think of what Mr Rogers said: when there is tragedy, focus on the helpers- the people who show up and help save people and make the situation better.
      I work with tragedy in my job, and it can get you down (and scared!), so I look at the good my organization does, and all the wonderful people who work with me every day. It’s easy to see the bad, but when you look at all the good people, you see that there are so many more good people than bad.

    3. Anon for this

      Like AndersonDarling said, focus on the helpers.

      It’s also okay to, if you can, limit how much of this you’re involved in. It’s not insensitive or selfish to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is what will allow you to do your best for other people.

      Put your own oxygen mask on before helping other passengers.

    4. OriginalYup

      Lots of burnout in my field too. Things that work well for me personally: spending time with animals, visiting outdoor spaces/gardens/parks, and looking at art (museums, galleries, public displays of sculpture and murals, etc).

    5. Shannon

      I like looking at pictures of kittens. Or babies playing with kittens.

      I know it sounds kind of stupid, but, I actually have emergency stress relief kitten pictures on my phone. I can literally feel my blood pressure go down when I look at them.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          God, yes, tinykittens.com. But right now the two cats there are pregnant and waiting to deliver, so there aren’t currently kittens. I think there are archived videos of former litters though. (She’s a foster home for pregnant cats and their kittens once they have them.)

          1. Anonyby

            There’s two related cams that she’s close to that have kittens–Foster Dad John has the Clone Trooper kittens, and Sarah’s Kitten Cuddle Room has the Cocktail Kittens. Both litters are supremely adorable!

        2. Anna

          I was having a rough day yesterday so a friend posted a YouTube video of squeaky baby sloths. ERMAGERD! It as so cute and totally helped. THEY ARE SO SQUEAKY!

      1. oldfashionedlovesong

        Baby elephants too! There’s this video going round the interwebs right now of a baby ellie chasing some birds and it’s kind of perfect. I also love videos of people rescuing baby ellies who get stuck in wells or pits, especially when mom is hovering a short distance away anxiously and then comes running over when baby is finally free.

      2. Joline

        Pandas on slides! (especially when panda coming down a slide acts like a bowling ball and knocks down pandas hanging out on the end of said slide)

      3. Marcela

        I like documentaries or videos of volunteers or vets helping animals. I cry all the time with them, but afterwards I feel the world can’t be all horrible if there are persons like them, fighting against the odds to save an animal (yesterday I watched a vet documentary about a rhino receiving a skin graft after she was attacked by poachers).

    6. KT

      You need absolute trash in your life. Like complete and utter trash. Jersey Shore-level trash. Anything that shows ridiculous people being ridiculous and making you laugh. It will suppress the horror stories you’ve seen and make you laugh at utter petty nonsense.

      And lots of self care. Get good sleep, eat well, read a good book.

    7. Muriel Heslop

      I’ve been there Sandy, and it stinks. I’m sorry.

      What helped me was exercise (lots of exercise), healthy food and definitely some wine (but not too much or else I became morose.) Escape TV and books, and definitely: find the good. There is always good to be found, somewhere, if only a sliver of sunlight. It can be hard to find, in my experience, but it’s there.

      I hope your weekend is full of peace.

    8. Kat

      Write about it in a journal. I am a venter, but due to HIPAA I cant talk to anyone about what I’ve seen.

      I have a journal where I write every detail down, including my feelings. No one at work knows, I can just imagine that being subpoenaed in a lawsuit, but it helps. I dont go back and read it. I write, cry, look at kitten gifs and then pull myself back together. It’s hard.

      A therapist can help too. In EMS it’s frowned upon, which is stupid. We arent super heroes. We are expected to bounce back inmediately after a call, but even a rubber band breaks.

      On the plus side, EMS is finally starting to realize this is a problem and trying to address it.

      I am sending internet hugs and I’ll keep you in my prayers.

      1. the_scientist

        Putting in a plug here for the great work that the TEMA Trust is doing in Canada- if you’re an EMS worker and struggling, check out their website for resources!

        Also, debrief with your team. I think the culture of EMS is changing somewhat; a lot of the old guard are still very “real men don’t show emotions” but the younger members (and there are more of them than the old guard, now) are MUCH more open to debriefing, and realistically it’s a great habit to get into. Source: not an EMS person, but was a volunteer EMT for many years, we always always always debriefed and had access to traumatic incident stress services.

        If your org has access to crisis counselling, professional debriefing services after traumatic calls, or other resources- use them! And remember, admitting you need help and support is NOT a weakness, and doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in this job. You’re just a compassionate human being who’s been exposed to a lot of horror.

    9. Kyrielle

      I haven’t been there and I can’t say if this scales up to that level of thing – but at the times of greatest stress in my life, I have found that returning to hobbies that have no relation at all (getting out in nature, photography, coloring – adult coloring books are awesome) has helped.

        1. moss

          Adult coloring you say? My etsy shop is linked in my username. I will send out free samples to anyone who wants one!

          1. Worker Bee (Germany)

            Me. I am curious.. I also use an old childs coloring book just bc it makes me smile and takes my mind of things. Also doing any crafts. I noticed for myself that working with my hands (crafting, wood work, painting ect takes of my mind completly)

            1. moss

              Worker Bee, I would love to send you a sample! Send me an email at coloringforadults @ gmail.com and I will see if I have a picture you would like. If you take a look at my etsy shop you can pick any single page from there.

    10. Career Counselorette

      I get this every so often reading news stories and getting bogged down at work. Very long walks do it for me, especially when I’m able to go all the way to the water or deep into the park where you’re not likely to see that many people. It’s kind of silly, but being alone in nature makes you forget about people for a bit.

    11. cuppa

      I’ve been feeling a lot like this, too, so hugs to you!
      I was surprised at how much going to a museum helped. Also, a really absorbing book helps. I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter series this week and it really has helped to escape. I’ve been working on the Headspace app and it’s been helpful.

      And yes, cute animals help too. I definitely hit iStockphoto for kittens and lamb fixes in an emergency.

    12. CJ

      I live in Cincinnati and there was a lot of tension this past week. I think giving yourself a media break is crucial. If you’re online a lot like me, you see things everywhere. Don’t go to those websites and give yourself a break from the news. Turn to Netflix and visits with friends where the topics of conversation must be positive.

      1. Camellia

        Former Cincinnatian here – I deplore the act but am proud of my former city for all the things the people there DIDN’T do.

        1. CJ

          Camellia, I feel the same way. It’s been handled very well and thankfully the ones behaving the worst are really just the anons on the internet saying inappropriate things.

      2. Elizabeth West

        This is what I do also. When I see someone has posted something, and I’ve reached saturation/burnout, I either hide it (on Facebook) or tell myself, “I don’t need to read/comment on that!” and then scroll on.

      3. Not So NewReader

        This. Definitely watch out for how much news you are taking in. Is it necessary to have the news on while getting ready for work/ going to work/ fixing dinner? Perhaps you can have a no fly zone each day for news reports.

    13. Sunshine Brite

      I vent, try to find the good in people – including the people frustrating me if I know them well enough, hang out with my cat, get lost in a silly show, exercise, etc. I’m pretty introverted, but if I like crowds, I’d go out to events, go to museums that sort of thing to get my mind off it.

    14. Nerdling

      Sometimes I have to take a day off when we’ve had a particularly brutal week or two, just to get my mind back in a decent place.

      Otherwise, I find other things to push my energy into when I can. I bake. I decorate cakes. I play with my kid. I get lost in video games sometimes, silly TV other times. I try to go to the gym when it’s really bad – I had a crying jag on the elliptical once that probably looked ridiculous but left me feeling a lot cleaner, in a sense.

      *hugs*

    15. Realistic

      I keep 2 “memo files” in my phone: “Rewards” and “Recharge” — Rewards are things like links to easy recipes or good sounding restaurants, cheap trinkets and household items that are wildly decadent to my mentality (a funky pen, a cool notepad, a new toothbrush holder that I love. Recharge are things that I want to do. The “someday I’ll make time to” — figure out if I can afford a trip to Costa Rica, reframe that poster in the kitchen, clean out the junk drawer, re-listen to a favorite CD, make a new playlist….
      Since I always have my phone with me, I get in the habit of typing those “some day” or “how, how cool” things into there. They give me inspiration at a time when I need it, but don’t have the brainpower to come up with it on my own. Good luck finding what works for you!

      1. OriginalYup

        What a great idea! I keep a bookmarks folder called “Fun Stuff to Do” with links to concert calendars, activity guides for my city, movies I want to see, and vacation ideas. But your Rewards/Recharge split is so much better, thank you!

    16. Boop

      Sorry to hear about your week, Sandy. We all have those weeks that make us wonder if humanity should have left the caves!
      Customer service has been a major push at my organization lately, and I find that by focusing on providing good customer service I can help maintain a more positive attitude in general. Sure, sometimes you want lose it at someone, but generally if you’re polite and helpful, people will respond positively.
      Also, find something that you do for yourself. I do jigsaw puzzles, keep and rainforest of plants, spend time with my parents, and do other things and go on outings that bring me pleasure. That way, I am re-charged for the next day’s craziness. If you have a family, see if you can carve out some time for yourself. Sometimes you just need some alone time!

    17. Sparky

      I like the site UpWorthy for good news, and I like Eldad Hagar’s Youtube videos of dog rescues on Youtube for his Hope for Paws, although they don’t always show a lot of the life after rescue for the dogs and of course, the dogs are sad and abandonded at the start of the videos.

      There is a Youtube video of a baby elephant interacting with a flock of birds that is pretty cute, too.

    18. Anony-moose

      God, yes. I work for a nonprofit that helps students cope with violence and trauma as part of our work. I’m not on the program side but I write about it all.day.long. So many shootings. So many children being killed.

      I spend a good amount of time just feeling…a bit hopeless. I don’t know how to shake it. But to deal day to day I do yoga, play with my dog, read fantastic journalism about this issue and others, and do more yoga. The most powerful tool for me has been adopting a regular yoga and meditation practice. For many others it’s running, or dancing, or something else where you have to push your mind AND body to let go.

    19. Lizzie

      I’m a social worker. I work with victims of human trafficking every day. Believe me, I understand questioning humanity – I’ve seen and heard some incredibly heinous things in the last five years.

      I find that what I have to do is find a safe place for me to let out whatever it is that I’m feeling. If I’m overwhelmingly sad, I draw myself a nice bath, hunker down, and have a good cry. Seriously. It’s very healing to allow yourself to just let that out, and it’s tremendously helpful to me. If I find myself unspeakably angry … well, I’ve taken up muay thai as a hobby and that’s a pretty good outlet (and has the added amusement of getting to bewilder grown men as a 5’2″ lady!). Physical activity in general is a really good way to channel that, if you’re up to it.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Your work has to be mind blowing. I can’t imagine. I picture this as something that impacts a person for life, and, in turn, impacts the social service people, around the person, for life. I admire your willingness to do this absolutely necessary work.

        1. Lizzie

          Thank you very much. It’s honestly very difficult work but it’s very rewarding overall and I feel like as hard as it is, I’m in the right place. Sex and labor trafficking are quite prevalent where I live, and there are very few people who have the education and training to try to advocate for victims and combat it. The turnover rate is very high, though – I got this job right out of college thanks to an internship and I’ve been through three supervisors and several new co-workers in the five years I’ve had it (I’ve been here the longest). People think you can go home and turn it off, but you don’t. You just learn to cope. Self-care is ESSENTIAL in our field – social workers tend not to survive without it.

          1. Not So NewReader

            “Self-care is ESSENTIAL in our field – social workers tend not to survive without it.”

            We (as a society) do not do a good job of taking care of those who take care of others. Coping tools are not in us at birth, we need to learn them. I can’t for the life me figure out why there are not programs and support available for our front line people. This is part of a much bigger soapbox I have. But, right, I totally agree. You can not get down in the trenches and then go home and turn it off. That’s not going to happen.

            One of Alison’s interviews with you would be verrry interesting. But I am betting most of what you have to say is covered by confidentiality regs.

              1. Worker Bee (Germany)

                Came here to say the same as Not So NewReader. An interview with Alison would be very interesting!

  7. RG

    Woo hoo, got here early. So, last week I saw a job opening at another law firm that I’m mostly qualified for, so I thought to apply. However, a couple of years ago, I met with one of the associates (who is now a partner) to discuss a possible internship (that didn’t work out for logistical reasons). On Tuesday, I sent the partner a message on LinkedIn reintroducing myself and asking if he has any particular insights into the job, since there is a possibility that he may give me work either directly or indirectly. How long should I wait for a response before applying? I understand that’s it’s LinkedIn, and people miss messages there frequently, but I don’t want to wait too long and end up missing my chance. Did waiting until next Wednesday seem like a good amount of time?

    1. Christy

      I don’t know why you would wait at all. I feel like the information you might glean from him would be useful for something like an interview rather than your cover letter or resume. Apply now!

      1. The IT Manager

        +1 Don’t wait.

        Apply now and if he responds tell him you have applied and ask for whatever you want to ask for.

    2. Beancounter in Texas

      I think so. The partner may not check LinkedIn very frequently, even if he gets email notifications about new messages. I’d proceed without his input as best as possible. Assume he simply didn’t get the message.

    3. oldfashionedlovesong

      Replying to follow because I’m in a similar situation, having sent a message on LinkedIn to a former classmate who is now at a company that has an opening I’d like to apply for. My kneejerk thought was to wait until I hear from the person, but Christy and Beancounter’s dovetailing advice makes me think differently.

    4. RG

      Thanks for your replies. To give a bit more background, to apply for this job, I’m supposed to send a letter of interest. No resume, just the letter. My understanding is that a letter of interest differs slightly from a cover letter in that a cover letter advocates for a position but a letter of interest advocates for moving to the next step of the process. That’s why I decided to reach out now. But, like I said, I wanted to give him a chance to respond but also wanted a good cutoff where I could just go ahead and apply regardless of a response. Thanks again for your help!

      1. The IT Manager

        Next Wednesday – 8 days – sounds like a good time to wait. Recommend you work on your draft letter this weekend so you’re prepared if he doesn’t respond and have a starting point if he does.

      2. ella

        Most law firms have websites with attorney email addresses. Try looking him up and contacting him that way.

  8. Christine

    I’m looking for some advice/guidance on how to put together a freelancing resume. I have a full-time day job, but I also do some freelance work on the side (and in an ideal world, I’d build up the freelance side enough that I could do that full-time, but that’s years off, if ever). I know how to structure a resume for my regular job, but I’m a bit stumped on what information to include on my freelance resume. I’ve tried searching for freelance resume samples, but most of them seem to assume that as a freelancer, I’ve done contract work at various companies. I’ve got a couple contracts, but they’re remote work and on a project-by-project basis– I don’t go into an office, I just edit things when they’re sent to me. Does anyone have any tips or advice on how to showcase the work I’ve done? I’ve gotten a lot more work in the past year and I want to make that clear, but I’m not quite sure how.

    1. GOG11

      You could group it all under “Teapots Consulting, Freelance Spout Designer” and then put any notable accomplishments. I don’t know what type of work you do or what metrics you’d use to determine how successful you are, but using those would be good. If your work was used in something with a lot of visibility, that could be noted, too. “Designed spouts for Macy’s spring and fall 2015 line of dessert teapots.” When I did freelance work, the expected measure was whether or not proposals were funded, so I would note the ones I wrote that were funded and how much they were for.

      1. Lore

        On the topic of metrics–continuing relationships with editing clients generally indicate that you’re doing strong work. Our freelance pool is extremely deep, and if you’re getting a constant flow of jobs, especially from multiple staff people, that means you’re at the top of the list.

    2. Lore

      Most of the freelance resumes that get submitted to my company (and we hire a lot of editorial freelancers) come one of two ways. If someone freelances alongside full time work, then there’s generally a single entry for freelance work that says something like “Freelance copyeditor: clients include companies x, y, z.” Or “recent projects include “magazine art

      1. Lore

        Sorry–hit submit by accident. “Article on X or book on y.” Full time freelancers’ resumes tend to include more detail, possibly breaking clients out separate if they’ve got longstanding relationships and also including things like writing or artistic work.

    3. MsChanandlerBong

      I’m a freelance writer/editor/proofreader, so I have all my work under one heading. Under the heading, I have a short summary of my skills and a sampling of my clients (only the big brands people will recognize). Then I have a bulleted list of accomplishments/duties (e.g. wrote copy that increased client’s sales by 42 percent; increased traffic to landing page by 300 percent, etc.).

  9. bassclefchick

    Interview update…..

    I posted about this in last week’s thread, but wanted to give an update. Last Thursday, I got a call to come in for an interview. The job sounded interesting, the company is a non profit that does great things and I met ALL of the requirements in the posting. I scheduled the interview for the next day and started to prepare for it.

    Three hours later, the hiring manager’s admin called and said the hiring manager’s calendar changed and they’d have to reschedule. Great! More time for me to prepare. I didn’t hear anything on Friday or Monday, so I called the admin back and said I was still interested and was wondering if they had an update. She said the manager hadn’t gotten back to her yet and they would be in touch.

    Now a week has gone by since this all started and I’ve heard nothing. And there was the thread earlier this week where all the hiring managers basically said to not call to check on your status. But this is a bit different, since they DID call me to set up an interview and flaked out on me. Right?!

    Job hunting should NOT be this confusing!!! I guess I’ve just mentally moved on and figured they changed their mind and no longer want to interview me. But this would have been a great opportunity.

    1. Shell

      I think this is different. You don’t want to call hiring managers/potential workplaces to check on the status of your application. But if they had already shortlisted you for an interview and booked an interview slot with you only to cancel at the last minute, I think you’re well within your rights to follow up once.

      1. bassclefchick

        Oh, good!! That was my thinking too. I figure they’re telling me something significant about how they operate if this is how they treat me at this stage. Even a phone call of…”hey, sorry, manager STILL hasn’t told me her schedule yet, but we DO still want to interview you” would be appreciated.

    2. Biff

      I think I’d call them and let them know you are still interested, but they need to reach out to you if they are still interested because you don’t want to hassle them. But that’s me.

      1. bassclefchick

        Yes, I did call them once on Monday afternoon. And you’re right, anything more would be too much. So, I patiently wait (or not so patiently!) for them to decide what they want to do.

    3. Steve G

      Job hunting should not be this hard! I interviewed 3X at a company in March and I still keep seeing the job advertised, now through recruiters as well. OK, I may not have said everything perfectly in the interview, and maybe I wasn’t a 110% fit, but I felt 90%+ across the board. Maybe my past salary was “too high,” IDK. But I just don’t get how them filling this not-hard-to-fill job is taking this long. It should not be this hard! Meanwhile, I’ve been sitting here unemployed since then!

  10. T3k

    This may be a bit of an usual question but anyone have advice on how to go about letting my boss know that I want to cut my hours? I work 40 hours, but want to cut it down t0 20 (my work can easily be done in the first 3 hours I’m at work). The reason I want to do 20 is because my boss can’t afford to pay me more per hour (I’m paid 11/hr), so I want to pick up another job that can pay more per hour, but also because I know eventually I’m going to leave here anyways because there’s no room for growth or advancement here, but until I can find a full time job that pays a livable salary, my best bet is to find another part time job and split my time between them.

    1. GOG11

      Are you hoping to go down to 20 hours at $11 an hour or are you wanting to work for fewer hours at a higher rate but with the promise that you’ll get the same results?

      1. T3k

        Ideally, I’d love to do that (like go “Hey, I want to do 20 hours a week, and can you bump my pay up per hour to $13?”) but not sure how well that’d go over. Plus, in my reasoning with her on it, I want say “And since you’ll be paying me less overall, you can then hire extra help” which she’s always talking about doing. Because it’s such a tiny business, I’m hired for one thing but then have to help out elsewhere, so I need to find a way to show it won’t be a problem for cutting hours.

        1. GOG11

          Ah, okay. I agree with Dawn about focusing on how it benefits the business. It’s fine to show that it’s mutually beneficial, but the focus should largely be on how it affects the overall functioning of your department/company.

          In asking for more money, make sure you go about it in the general sense you would for any other raise – your work being worth more money, not this is how much I need to get by on fewer hours. Also address how fewer hours benefits the company. Working fewer hours makes a raise possible, but it isn’t the reason for the raise.

          1. T3k

            True. Th good thing is I look like a really stellar employee next to others here, so it shouldn’t be too hard for me to explain my time is worth more and if I can reduce my hours, it shouldn’t hurt too much to do that. I just now have to find a way to word it nicely.

    2. Dawn

      Don’t phrase it as “I want to cut my hours”, go to him and see if he’s amicable about shifting your position to a part-time position. It’s not about what you want as an employee, it’s about what the company needs from the position that you fill. Be prepared for him to say no, and have a fallback plan for if that happens.

      1. T3k

        I’ve been thinking about what I’d do if they said no… and I think I may put my notice in then (assuming I was being offered a part time position elsewhere). Then I could use the 20 hours that freed up to take on some contract or temp. work with an employment agency I’m signed on with for my field. Reason I haven’t done that already though is because I like stable money coming in (which in the above scenario, would come from the new part time position).

    3. Student

      Look for a new full-time job that pays better instead. Or, if you’re going to cut your hours, use the freed-up time to try to get into some training for jobs that will pay a living wage. You are never going to get out of this situation by taking on multiple part-time jobs.

      1. T3k

        You seem to be out of touch with the job market. As I explained, I’ve been trying to find a full-time job, but the job market is very tight atm and cutting my hours/wages isn’t feasible right now for me without some other source of income. At least if I can find another part time that pays more, it’d allow me to actually save some money towards taking some training courses at nearby colleges.

        Also, some part time jobs can be turned into full time (two friends had that happen, and a few positions I applied to have mentioned they’d like to turn the position into full time later, or temp-to-hire jobs).

        1. T3k

          Sorry, didn’t mean for that to sound rude. Just your statement comes off like what my dad kept saying last summer, who thinks it’s so easy to find a job and still thinks the way to do it is by dropping in on the business and asking.

  11. Katie the Fed

    So, um – any advice for dealing with puppy- and baby- induced migraines?

    I kid, I kid. Man, I am seriuosly needing a vacation. Just a few more weeks. I haven’t been on a vacation since my honeymoon, which is actually unusual for me, but with the accident this year we had to cancel our spring one. I think I’ll be crawling to the finish line before this one. So exhausted, cranky, and out of patience!

    1. Christy

      Oh, yikes. Can you take a day and give yourself a long weekend before then? Or maybe a random Wednesday?

      1. Katie the Fed

        I’ve been doing that here and there – but mostly to catch up on life stuff. I need a few days of doing nothing. And some quality time with Mr. The Fed.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I hear you. I’m out next week and I NEED IT. I have never needed a vacation so much. Just keep swimming… just keep swimming…

    3. AnotherFed

      I hear you – I took last week off without realizing quite how much I needed it until I came back to work this week and discovered that things that had me at Bitch Eating Crackers were suddenly no big deal.

    4. Mimmy

      You’ve had a lot going on in your life this past year, both good and not-so-good. I would definitely try to get in a long weekend before your vacation so you can just relax. Even if you can’t, try to do something relaxing this weekend. Not sure how the weather is where you are, but I think it’s supposed to be less humid here in NJ for the next couple of days (though still very warm).

      Keep swimming!!

    5. PhoenixBurn

      Do you have a local spa or massage therapy place? Massage therapy works great for the headaches – releases all that tension, so you at least have longer in between bouts. And it’s an hour of YOU time, which is always beneficial.

      If you can’t do that – heck, spend an hour in a bubble bath and let Mr. the Fed handle puppy and baby for an hour!

      Best of luck!

      1. Katie the Fed

        Oh, that part was a joke, sorry :) just a reference to all the massive interest in the baby, puppy and migraine posts this week.

        But I DO like the idea of a massage!

        1. PhoenixBurn

          No worries. Chalk it up to me scanning posts and getting a little Friday afternoon cabin fever! Re-reading, I see you mentioning joking.

          A close friend of mine is a massage therapist, and I finally broke down one day and asked her what her rate would be for an hour because I was just going nuts! Best $40 I ever spent! LOL

  12. Cruciatus

    For those keeping tabs, this week I officially told my boss I was leaving, sent in my resignation letter to HR, turned down the other job offer, and started my paper work for my new job. Phew! My last day at my current place will be August 7. I won’t have any break besides a weekend before I start the new one but that’s life. Word is officially out now. I’m the one being gossiped about (hopefully just in a “Did you hear? Cruciatus is leaving!” kind of way.) My boss asked if it was just about the money. It’s not. It’s about not working for a dysfunctional employer any more who thinks I’m only worth $10.60 an hour after 4.5 years of good damn work. And there’s nowhere else to go here. But it sounded like he was ready to fight to get me the 33% pay increase I’ll be getting from my new employer. I mentioned the contract was signed anyway and he stopped with that.

    I was super nervous about telling my supervisor, but he took it OK. Started by saying “Fuuu…!” but stopped himself and in the end congratulated me. Told me I could use him as a reference whenever I need to, that he won’t wonder why I’m asking about it 5 years from now or something. So now I’m just working on getting as far ahead as possible and trying to remember that, after I leave, nothing is up to me anymore. Part of me hates giving up parts of the job (“No one can do it better than I can!”) but that is untrue and I’ll have to let go. This time next week will be very weird. Right now it’s all surreal. I did/said what I needed to but it doesn’t feel real yet. I’m working on normal, everyday stuff…

    No one has had anything bad to say about my soon-to-be employer. Everyone thinks I made the right choice picking them over the other university that gave me an offer. It almost sounds too good to be true. I’m very optimistic about my future there (though I’ve never had a year long probationary period. Hopefully that’s not a big deal).

    1. GOG11

      Congratulations!!!! Let us know how the new job is going once you’re settled in if you get the chance.

    2. Mimmy

      Yay, congratulations!!! A year-long probationary period seems pretty long, but if that’s the worst of it, you’re in good shape :)

    3. TheLazyB (UK)

      Really glad to hear this update. Yeah it’s hard to let go! But you can do it :)

    4. Vancouver Reader

      Congratulations! The year’s probation will go by quicker than you think, you’ll be so busy showing them what a superstar you are, the year will just fly by.

  13. Rebecca Too

    I’m going on holidays for two weeks on Tuesday (which I’m very excited about) but I have a ton of work to do before I leave. I’m pretty much going to have to work over all the weekend.

    And now I’m finding it impossible to stay focused. Anyone have any tips for getting through a huge workload when I keep getting off track/daydreaming about what I’m going to do in Paris?

    1. Elkay

      To do lists, keep it visible on your desk so when you start to get distracted it’s there staring you in the face.

    2. Beancounter in Texas

      Music helps keep me focused. And endless sources of food brought to me, so I don’t have to think about it. Beyond that, I’d be just as distracted as you! Have fun!

    3. Kate R. Pillar

      For me, daydreaming mostly takes the from of “I should Google this!” “I could research that!” “I wonder whether…” “I absolutely need to pack..”.
      What’s worked for me (sometimes…) is keeping a “distraction notepad” next to my keyboard where I jot down all these ideas, so I don’t lose the thought for later. Or putting it in an e-mail to myself (or Evernote).

      Enjoy your holiday! Paris is awesome! Try some falafel in the Marais!!

    4. Natalie

      Music and brutal prioritization. I move everything not absolutely critical onto my B-Squad to do list and put that list somewhere that I don’t see it all the time. Rank everything critical in order of priority and then just knock them out.

    5. Almond Milk Latte

      tomato-timer.com! Work for 25 minutes, spend 5 minutes reading the history of spoons on Wikipedia, work for another 25 minutes, think about sea lions for 5, work for 25 minutes, and so on and so on.

      1. Windchime

        I’ve been doing something similar on my work-at-home day and it’s been working so well. I set the timer on my phone for 45 minutes, and during that time I work. If the thought of browsing the internet (even AAM!) pops into my mind, I just tell myself that I will have a break in a bit and get back to work. When the timer goes off, I can do what I want for 10-15 minutes. Throw in a load of wash, get a cool drink, read a little AAM, and then reset the timer for another 45 minutes. When I did this last Friday, I got a TON of work done. It seems counter-intuitive, but the timer really helped me.

    6. Elizabeth West

      When doing prep for my holiday last autumn, I made a list. I had to–all I could think about was my trip, and I knew I had to do as much as possible before I left because I wasn’t working while I was out. I was deathly afraid I’d forget something. So it was look at the list, do thing, mark off on list. Lather, rinse, repeat. I forced myself to concentrate on the list and only let myself look at itinerary/travel stuff on lunchtime.

    1. Cruciatus

      I had 2 interviews on the same day about two weeks ago, and I don’t know what came over me–I wasn’t perfect, but I was confident and words (mostly) flowed from my mouth. I prepared with questions but tried not to get too bogged down in the process. Tried to remember the interviewers were human too. But I don’t know what made the difference but after both of them I thought, “Damn, I was really good!” I hope you get what you’re looking for!

  14. OneWomanShow

    How to manage without authority?

    I am a one-person communications department tasked with helping to promote all organizational programs externally via traditional media, social media, printed materials, outreach events, partnerships, etc. I’ve only been in the position, which is revamped from an older job that’s now divided among departments, for about four months.

    As such, I need each program director to supply me with accurate and detailed information about their respective programs such as: cost, sign-up process, availability, specific services offered, etc. I am finding that directors expect me to magically have the required knowledge of their programs and know their audience(s) without engaging with me.

    Please advise me on how I can gently tell them that I need them to provide me with the necessary information in a timely manner to ensure the external communication/promotion is effective.

    Thanks for taking time to read this!

    1. Dasha

      Maybe a reminder to them that this required information will help enhance promotions and make their programs more successful?

      Does it have to be the actual program director to supply this information? Maybe you would have better luck if you asked them to assign it to one of their staff?

    2. Not Today Satan

      Do you have a boss with authority who could back you up? I was in this situation and it was pretty awful because the people whose work I relied on had zero accountability and my bosses didn’t back me up at all. I would imagine though if I higher up sent a memo detailing the workflow for your projects it might help.

    3. Amtelope

      Step 1: talk to them. “In order to effectively promote your department’s programs, I need X information. Who in your department can get that information to me? Will that be by email, or should I set up a meeting? Who can I set that meeting up with? Let’s get that on the calendar.

      Step 2, if all you get is excuses, radio silence, or “I can pencil you in two months from now”: talk to your boss (executive director?) “In order to promote our programs, I need X information. Bob says his team doesn’t have time to get it to me/hasn’t replied to my emails/has promised it multiple times, but hasn’t delivered it. Can you talk to the other departments about the need to complete this task?” Ultimately you can’t make them get you what you need — but there’s probably someone in your organization who can.

      1. Shannon

        +2

        I don’t know if this helps, but, when you’re managing without authority, you often rely a lot on internal sales. Each program director is your customer. Really highlight what you can do for them. (“The sales of Jane’s product went up by X after I did Y for her.”)

        Another possibility is to back door the information you need from them. If you can get your hands on an old flyer/ web page, something, you can say, “Hey, Program Director. I found this old information about your product. How much of this is still accurate?”

        1. GOG11

          +1 to old info. It’s much easier for them to say “green, 17, it’s 24% now and the price is $300” than for them to dedicate the time and mental focus it requires to come up with something from scratch.

          Looking at old materials can help you create a timeline, too. I was having a heck of a time getting people to give me content for our social media accounts so I looked at the one account that had a couple of years worth of archives and I mapped out all of the posts by year. Now I know to cover X thing in December, and that Y happens in March. Now I have the entire year mapped out and I have a template for the other areas as well (if there’s a National Teapot Month, maybe there’s a National Spout Week, too). It doesn’t give you all the info you need, but it can help you generate content that they can give you a “yes” or “no, tweak this,” which will make everything much easier.

        2. Shannon

          Oh! And as a corollary, you can ask other people in the department and present the information to the Project Manager. “Hey, I got this information from Steve about your product. Is it accurate? Can I ask him for it in the future?”

        3. catsAreCool

          And if you can’t find old info, write down what you do know, add a list of items you need to know, include some educated guesses (make it obvious that these are guesses), and ask them to go over it and let you know what you need to fix.

      2. Bea W

        Agree with above. Don’t do it “gently”. You need to be clear and straightforward about what you need when and the consequences if you don’t get it.

    4. Kate R. Pillar

      How are you asking them for that information? Would it be a possibility to have a questionnaire for them to fill in (or have filled in by their staff)? Perhaps with drop-down menus/checkboxes where appropriate to make filling it in somewhat faster?

      I have good experience with having (short, easy) questionnares for stuff where I need input: The format makes it clear what I need, and my aim is to make it easier for those I need input from to organize their thoughts.

      You could include short explanations also how this information fits into/leads to the finished product.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree. They need a check list. Come in on the plane of “I know you are super busy…. I hope this makes it easier for you….”

    5. Ama

      I deal with needing info from very busy people who I have no authority over on a weekly basis — the trick is to set clear parameters on exactly what info you need, give a simple explanation of why it will help them, and to not be afraid to follow up (politely but firmly) if they don’t initially respond. If you need a standard set of info from every department, maybe a questionnaire in a Word document will help them know what you are looking for, along with a firm but reasonable deadline on when you need it returned.

      My nuclear option, if people don’t respond after multiple follow ups, is to write up whatever info I do have on hand, and send it to them with a polite “I know you’re busy so I tried to pull something together for you. Please let me know if you have any comments by X date, otherwise we’ll just [print this/run it on the website/include it in the press release] as is.” Only had to do it twice — got me immediate responses both times.

      1. Bea W

        There are some people I have to physically track down. You can email them to kingdom come and get nothing, but talk to them in person and it’ll be wrapped up in minutes. These tend to be the same people everytime. I get to know who they are, and will not spend a lot of time sending follow-up emails to them.

        Deadline dates are so important. If you give someone a clear deadline, they are more likely to prioritize your request and not forget about it.

    6. Malissa

      Have you directly asked them?
      Jane I would love to get this to you but I need X, Y and Z first to make sure everything is good.

    7. LQ

      Can you ask for referrals to other people? There might be others who would have more time/information within those departments that could give you what you need.

    8. Mephyle

      Have they explicitly said things that let you know that they expect you to magically have the required knowledge etc.? I would combat this with some flattery – when asking them for their information, remind them that they are the experts on their program; they know more about it than anyone else (including OneWomanShow) and you are there (or enthusiastic) to help them get that knowledge out there.

  15. I hope I'm not a mean girl...

    Kind of a weird question… I know a while back there was a letter to Alison from someone who wanted to remain a little distant from their co-workers for various reasons and the comments were really supportive and helpful. This is a little different because I’ve let myself get somewhat close to a coworker and I’d like to take a step back.

    I’m in a fairly new job (6 months) and I think part of the reason I love it so much is because I haven’t been close with anyone at work and therefore I don’t stress about anyone else or get involved in any drama/gossip/whatever. Recently, we had a new woman begin and she keeps trying really hard to be my friend because I think I’m the only other female in the office.

    I have been friendly to her because she was really struggling to get settled here. I don’t want to be mean but I really want to step back because I feel like she’s getting to personal with me. I’m engaged and she keeps hounding me when I’m having the wedding even though I’ve told her due to finances probably not for a long time. She’s almost pushy when she asks now despite me telling her something along the lines it’s really a sore subject at the moment and I’m going to rethink everything in a couple of months when we get a better idea of our finances.

    Any tips on how to not be a complete jerk but to step back gracefully?

    I don’t want to be a mean girl but I let her get too close to me and I need help stepping back.

    1. some1

      Have you tried saying something non-commital and steering the conversation back to work?

      “So when are you guys having the wedding?”

      “Nothing’s really set on that. How is that data project going?”

    2. KathyGeiss

      Can you reframe it a bit in your mind? The way the situation reads to me is that she’s the jerk, not you. She keeps asking even though you’ve made it clear you don’t want to discuss.

      I’d become a broken record with responses that shut down the line of questioning followed by redirection to Work Things:
      “I don’t want to focus on the wedding. Can you give me that file for that client?”
      “I’ve told you already that I’d rather not talk about it. Can we focus on work?”
      “I know you’re interested, but it’s important to me to focus on work while I’m at work.”
      “I’ve mentione this before, please stop asking me about the wedding.” – if you want to soften it you could add “I’ll share news when there is news. I’d prefer to focus on work for now”

      Repeat ad nauseum. And don’t beat yourself up for being rude. She’s being the rude one.

      1. Jerzy

        +1! If you directly say you don’t want to talk about something, especially because it’s a painful subject, and she just keeps going, she’s overstepping her bounds and you need to tell her that directly as well. If she gets upset, so be it, and you can tell her that you don’t mean to upset her, but she need to respect your wishes.

    3. Dawn

      I love the Captain Awkward blog for finding good scripts for dealing with people like this- check out the posts there and I’m sure you’ll come up with a buncha stuff.

    4. KT

      redirect and don’t engage on a personal level.

      “Have you set a date”
      “Not yet. Did you see the latest memo”

    5. pony tailed wonder

      The next time she asks, just ask her why she is being so rude when you have told her time and time again to knock it off. She might be under the impression that she is being friendly by showing an interest. Don’t say it in an angry voice because you don’t want to make an enemy and listen to what she says.

    6. SherryD

      Ugh. Some people can’t mind their own business about dating, weddings, and marriage. It feels like you’re talking to a dim-witted character from a Jane Austen novel. I have a coworker like this, and I’d love to tell her off with some feminist screed… But what’s the point? I basically try to ignore her. For example, after a delivery guy comes through, she’ll say, “Oooh, he would be a cute date for you!” I’ll say, “Sorry, I didn’t notice.” But it still makes me cranky, so I don’t know if my technique is so great!

    7. Vancouver Reader

      I don’t know if it would work or not, but if it were me, I’d just tell her straight out that I’m not comfortable with talking about my personal life at work, and to please stop asking me about it.

    8. ActCasual

      Maybe you can find a way to frame all this in the spirit you’ve explained here, that you prefer not to have overly personal relationships at work or talk about personal things and you are happy you have a comfortable working relationship with her but that’s it? Otherwise I think she’ll end up hurt and confused when that’s obviously not your intent.

    9. Not So NewReader

      “Hey, I have already answered that question so I will not be answering it again.”

      “You ask me that a lot. Please stop, I want us to focus on the work we have.”

      “I really should not have mentioned anything earlier. I like to keep “at home stuff” at home and “at work stuff” at work. I am sorry I gave you the wrong impression of my preferences.”

  16. Christina

    How do you deal with a manager who doesn’t understand the value in communication styles other than her own? I work in communication (oh, the irony) and recently got “I want to push you out of your comfort zone, I want to see you be more outgoing and talk more.” What she means is she wants me to gossip/gripe about my coworkers, colleagues, and management the way she and her best buddy (who is also her subordinate, which brings its own level of awful) do.

    The working relationships I have are very good and I actually produce (which, honestly, cannot be said of her). I tried to explain that, and pointed out examples of how I do communicate well, but what she wants is for me to communicate like she does. I’m at a loss…

    1. OneWomanShow

      Christina:

      You have my sympathies!

      I work in an environment where everything is communicated in color-coded emails, and people are discouraged from talking face to face. This leads to email chains of 20-30 messages when a 5-minute conversation would have easily resolved the issue.

      I hope you are able to maintain your professionalism, despite your gossipy boss and co-workers.

    2. GOG11

      Is there a way you could ask her for examples of how she’d like you to communicate instead? If it would make her think through her request, she might realize that her idea of getting our of your comfort zone and being more outgoing is actually being more gossipy, and she might get off your back.

      That could backfire, though, if she provides gossipy behaviors to engage in because then you’d have specific behaviors she’s asked you to do that you really don’t want to do, and it’s easier to seem insubordinate if you’re not following specific requests than if you’re not following the vague one she’s set before you now.

      1. Shannon

        Would it be possible to engage in positive gossiping? That is, just saying nice or harmless things about your coworkers? “I really like what Sue did with the X project!” or “Did you hear that Jane has a new cat?”

        1. GOG11

          This is a great response, too. It works well if it’s something you can loop back to work.

          In my coworker’s case, I don’t think it would have worked.

          He complained to a student about an issue with his contract (in front of me, but I wasn’t actually part of the convo), he inquired about a coworker’s alleged divorce (he saw something somewhere and was wondering if it was our coworker or someone else) and he shared some deeply personal struggles a student was facing with me. In all of these cases, the only thing I could come up with was to be indifferent because they don’t even tangentially relate to work or to the behaviors of my coworkers. Luckily, my manager is much more in line with my take on things than his, so I’m not being roped into this stuff by anyone with authority over me.

          1. pony tailed wonder

            Ask him why he thought you needed to know xy and z and then follow up with a suggestion that he reread the FERPA requirements if it was something about a student.

            1. GOG11

              I hadn’t thought about FERPA (it wasn’t anything relating to her academics…it was about her health, funny enough, but we’re not covered by HIPAA). I was too flabbergasted to think about much.

        2. GOG11

          Just realize that perhaps you were offering that more to OP than me or that it potentially nested weirdly. If that’s the case, sorry for the mini novella on my awkward coworker’s behavior.

        3. Christina

          Complimenting other teams or people, except the ones she likes that day, results in being lectured on how I should be “coaching” them the next time I speak with them, and to talk to her before I interact with them the next time so she can prepare me on the “politics of the situation.”

          1. ActCasual

            Ugh. Sounds like my know-it-all, deeply insecure and paranoid exBoss. My defense at the end was usually to avoid him like the plague. Sending you good thoughts & moral support.

          2. Shannon

            I know “find another job” gets bandied about a lot on these forums, but, reading your other comments, I’m sorry. Your boss is nuts. There is no fixing her, though other commenters have given good advice for strategies to deal with her while you have to. This situation is not going to get better unless you compromise yourself and become her lackey. Get out before you have to get out. The writing is on the wall.

    3. Anne S

      Other people might have better advice for trying to get your boss to see things your way, but if that doesn’t work, it might be worth thinking about ways to placate her. If she values a lot of verbal interaction, would a stream of mundane chatter satisfy her? I’m imagining a lot of talk about the weather, construction in the office neighborhood, places to get lunch, a hobby you have – something that will feed her need for ‘chatty’ without forcing you to do gossip that makes you uncomfortable.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      Ask for concrete examples of how and where she wants you to talk more and be more outgoing. Ask questions.

      “You say you want me to talk more? Where is a situation where I didn’t talk as much as you would like, and what would you have had me say?” Get her to either explicitly say she wants you to gossip, and ask clarifying questions until it is clear that is what she is asking, or perhaps she really does have something else in mind. If she wants gossip, asking her to clarify will either make her realize what she is asking, and she’ll stop, or else she won’t. In which case, keep asking questions. “So, you want me to tell Bob that Lucinda doesn’t like his hairstyle? What is the business case for that? Will that help us work together better?” If she does have something else in mind, the questions will clarify that too.

      1. Christina

        Oh man, she hates when I do this because yes, it forces her to articulate what it is she wants. She prefers that I guess and then tears apart whatever I come up with. She gave me an assignment last week to come up with a newsletter and figure out who to send it to. I was trying to ask questions about what she was looking for, what had been done up to this point on related projects (which I wasn’t involved in) and she actually said “I don’t want to tell you what I’m thinking, I want to see what you come up with!” I swear I almost started banging my head on the desk.

        1. Not So NewReader

          If she can’t find her way out of a paper bag, how, oh, how, will this woman ever be able to lead people?

          You have a really crappy boss. I am so sorry.

        2. Not So NewReader

          “Well, Boss, I could guess. But we have done this before. I am concerned that I am wasting company time and resources by doing work that may or may not be used. If you tell me what you would like specifically, I will be very happy to get that for you. I will start it as soon as you give me the details, but meanwhile I still have A, B and C that I am working on.”

          The technique here is that you are worried about wasting company resources, but you are the most accommodating person on earth ANNDDD you are also busy with the last 3/4/5 things she has asked you to do.
          If you act like you are hurried/busy this gives her less time to torture you. If you act like the most accommodating person in the world, you have that to fall back on if she accuses you otherwise. Being concerned about company resources takes the focus off you and redirects the conversation to what is important- doing a good job.

          Job hunt like crazy. No one can fix her.

    5. LQ

      Can you try to get her to tell you the outcomes that are the problem?

      “Can you give me an example of a problem on a project this has created?”
      “It would really help me to know what the result of doing x would be.”

      Alternately can you listen and ask questions without talking yourself? Lots of people who are that kind of communicator are more than happy to talk extensively if you ask lots of questions. (Also the positive gossip mentioned.)

    6. Biff

      What I’ve been doing is letting my boss chit-chat about those topics to me, acknowledge them in a way that it seems like I’m engaged, and then say something like “oh, you know, we don’t have a ton of time left, so can we talk about X really quickly.”

      Then I let her go off on another chit-chatty tangent. It’s okay, but not great.

    7. Anony-moose

      This is timely. I had a really freaking hard week. Our higher up basically just…lectures and yells at everyone. So a conversation this week would go:

      “Fergus, there are some discrepancies in this document I need your input on before we send it out. I’ve highlighted and bolded them in red and notated the pages where there are errors. Can we talk through them”

      Fergus, not listening. “There are errors in this. I can’t trust your work if there are errors. Do you know how important it is to turn in accurate work?”

      My solution has been to look for jobs across the country. It makes me feel better to pretend I can go live next door to my sister!

  17. coffee or tea

    What is the best way to extract myself from internal drama? Some background: young attorney working for a small firm. I am the only woman attorney, the rest are men. All the support staff are women. The support staff view me as “one of them” which has worked to my advantage in certain situations but has put me in a real pickle. However, there always seems to be drama among the staff, lots of gossiping, etc… Since they are all high performers and great at what they do the other attorneys just shut their doors and ignore it. But since I’m viewed as “one of them” they often come into my office to complain about each other or about my bosses. It seems they are mostly just blowing off steam, which I get, but it makes me feel uncomfortable because I’m not really staff but I’m not a partner either. I try ignoring them, or telling them I’m busy or just not engaging but nothing works. This week has been especially bad and it has really started affecting my morale. Any advice?

    1. Sadsack

      You are in a tough spot. Does the support staff have a manager? The next time someone comes to your door, you could cut in with, “I am sorry, I realize that you are upset, but I am probably not the appropriate person to discuss this with. Have you talked to Chauncey about it?”. If you keep that up, they may realize that they shouldn’t vent to you.

      1. Swarley

        I agree. I think Alison might have addressed this in previous letters where coworkers were consistently complaining, but you might also try saying something like: “That sounds frustrating. So what do you plan to do about it?” But I definitely think that shutting it down in the moment within wording like Sadsack suggested is the quickest way to make this stop.

        1. coffee or tea

          Unfortunately the support staff manager are the Partners and they usually have the more senior support staff actually manage the day to day stuff. When they come to my office to complain about the partners it is often after they’ve brought an issue to the partners and do not feel like it was adequately handled or they feel like there is an issue that I should bring to the attention to the partners (whole different issue that I think I’ve solved)
          But I think both those lines are worth trying next time it occurs, especially next time the younger woman comes into my office (she’s a couple years younger than I am). Thanks!

          1. GOG11

            “When they come to my office to complain about the partners it is often after they’ve brought an issue to the partners and do not feel like it was adequately handled or they feel like there is an issue that I should bring to the attention to the partners (whole different issue that I think I’ve solved)”

            It’s okay to direct them back to the partner(s). “It sounds like that solution isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, but you need to bring that up with partner(s).”

    2. Miss Pym

      Women are socialized to bond over “trouble talk” so it makes sense that you are being included. But there’s (at least) two problems with this! You are busy with your actual work…and you are an attorney, not a member of this group in work terms. I think you do have to draw some boundaries by being very pleasant but professional, ie keeping attention on work and redirecting complaints as suggested by another poster. But figuring out an appropriate way to stay friendly with this group is important too. That’s the tricky part. I’d lean though to doing it by acknowledging good work, showing friendly interest in good personal news, etc. Basically, do what the male attorneys do, but maybe with more warmth. They are judging you differently because you’re a woman. Find the fine line! :)

      1. coffee or tea

        That is the problem! and one I’ve been trying to navigate since I started working here last year. I’ll try out your suggestions and hopefully I’ll be able to do so successfully!

        1. Miss Pym

          It can feel classist and all but you need to hang with the attorneys, not with the support staff. If the support staff feel you are “one of them”, how do the attorneys see you? Saying this not to pile on about past role blurring but to give you strong encouragement to recalibrate going forward even if it might feel “mean” . I’m super interested in gender, work and organizations so your issue really resonates for me!

          1. QualityControlFreak

            Your last sentence is interesting. I’ve been in the workforce a while, the past 25 years spent in industries which statistically are male-dominated (women are the minority in general as well as in leadership roles). However, support staff was often female, particularly in administrative roles. It does make for some interesting dynamics in workflow and organizational structure.

            I vote for directing them back to their managers (in this case, the partners). In some of the more highly structured organizations, I wouldn’t have hesitated to refer someone back to their own chain of command if they wanted action on their complaints. In organizations with a flatter structure (no “layers” of management) – which it sounds like this is – that may be the Big Boss(es).

            1. Miss Pym

              This plays out much the same for anyone who is the sole rep of their gender, race, ethnicity, social class in a professional group of “higher status” than support staff who share your characteristics. You’re no longer “one of us” but does that mean you’re now “one of them”? Well, yes, no and not really. Minefields to negotiate, not least forging your own identity. I do believe it’s possible though!

    3. Limes

      This might seem trivial but, are they opening your door to come in? Or is your door always open and they just wander in when they want to chat?

      I worked in a support position at a law firm for a little bit and frankly was a little terrified to open any of the lawyers’ doors when they were closed because it was clear that they didn’t want to be disturbed. Is your door open more often than not?

      1. coffee or tea

        My door is typically open and I realize that it does invite people to just walk in. I have been keeping my door closed more often, which has stopped some of it. However the worst offender has been known to walk into my office when the door is closed (knocking first). The way my office is positioned causes certain noises to amplify if my office door is closed, so if someone is nearby and having a conversation I can hear the entire thing

        1. Limes

          I think this goes back to how women have traditionally been socialized and how society’s been conditioned to interact with women’s space (i.e. often not respect it). We’re supposed to always be accommodating and “open”.

          You may just want to start leaving your door closed more often and use ear buds to block out the noise and signal to someone who STILL opens your door that you’re busy. If you keep your door closed and make a big show of being busy and inconveniently stopping whenever someone wanders in to chat they’ll probably start to get the hint. And maybe make a habit of opening your door the last hour or so of the day, like “office hours” so they still feel welcome?

  18. Bangs not Fringe

    Two interviews and no feedback.

    My spouse applied to a position in January. His first in-person interview was in mid-February. It was a very good interview according to him. He followed up with a thank you, which was reciprocated with a nice email in return. In the first week of March he received an email that the client had suspended the project and hiring. They expected the hiring freeze to end the next month and “would love to reach out” to him again to see if he’s still available and interested. In mid-May (a bit more than next month) they each out to see if he was interested in another interview. He didn’t have the second in-person interview until June. This interview was with another person, who according to my spouse was off-putting, allowed people to interrupt the interview for coffee orders and other random questions, and seemed disinterested in the whole process. He again followed up with a thank you email. Since then, nothing. Two in-person interviews… and nothing? Is it worth reaching out again? If so to who? The interview organizer? The person he interviewed with first and had a good rapport with?

    1. Swarley

      I wouldn’t reach out again. He’s had two interviews at this point, and if they’re interested in moving forward they won’t forget to reach out. I’d move on and continue searching. And if they contact him with something more concrete, then he can decide how he wants to move forward from there.

      1. Bangs not Fringe

        I guess it’s just a bummer to get nothing after 6 months and 2 in person interviews. I would at least expect a rejection. Not radio silence for two additional months.

    2. brightstar

      I wouldn’t bother reaching out again, they’ve shown if they’re interested that they will contact him. Hiring often takes longer than expected or maybe they’ve passed on and it’s the type of organization that feels it isn’t obligated to inform candidates they haven’t been selected. If they’ve had a hiring freeze they may have other fires they’re putting out at the time, it could be any number of things.

  19. Like the turkey I am DONE!

    I turned in my notice yesterday!
    I was SO nervous – like couldn’t sleep, cold sweats, couldn’t eat nervous – and to top it all off, my husband works for the same company and he was ALSO resigning (we’re moving back to our home state) so we had to time it all really well.

    But it did go well! It was so weird, though – I’ve always felt like I do a good job, but I’m just kind of average. They hired someone in an equivalent position to me (but with significantly less experience) about a year ago and she was being paid significantly more than me. I brought it up and the answer was basically “sucks to be you”.

    And of course, when I turned my notice in yesterday, cue everyone freaking out and throwing significantly more money at me because I’m a “rock star” “stellar employee”, etc.

    But, whatever. I’m super excited for my new job, super excited to move closer to family, and super excited to explore and live in a new city!

    1. Beancounter in Texas

      Yay!! Congrats on your new adventure and I hope your move is smooth & uneventful.

  20. JP

    We’re relocating (I already have a job) and my husband has been job hunting for about three weeks now. So far, he has not really heard back from any applications. I’ve checked his resume and it’s great (I’ve read lots of advice here!), he tailors it to each position. Why is he not getting calls? He’s applied to probably 40 engineering jobs by now.

    1. misspiggy

      What about cover letters? Alison has a lot to say about how vital they are. If he’s not submitting cover letters or supporting statements he may be disadvantaging himself, even if they’re not explicitly requested.

      1. JP

        Our strategy (yes, I’m helping, to an extent) has been to do a full out tailored cover letter/resume for things that are a good fit (most of the applications) and then just a resume to some “stretch” positions. I’m in a different industry and this stuff is 100% vital to getting a job, so I totally get it. I think I’m just panicking because I’d rather not move without him – we can’t afford for both of us not to have jobs, so he will be staying behind until he finds a position.

        1. brightstar

          I would think it’s especially important for the stretch positions to include a cover letter. Also, three weeks is a blip in the time line of a job search. Try to be patient.

          Have you worked out a plan if he doesn’t find a job immediately? This was years ago, but a couple I know had to move at different times to a new city because she got a job there and it took him a little while to find one of his own. It was tough for them but they got through it.

    2. Retail Lifer

      I’ve applied to about 100 jobs this year. Scam jobs aside, I’ve received 6 phone calls, 4 interviews, and no offers. My boyfriend, in another field, has put in about 40 applications, gotten a few phone calls, two interviews, and no offers. The job market is tight and it’s a numbers game. I think he just needs to apply to more stuff to increase his odds.

    3. Limes

      The job market is still not great. I have a job but have kept a spreadsheet of all the positions I applied to in the past year before getting it … it was around 70. And they weren’t stretches either.

    4. AVP

      Three weeks isn’t a very long time. He might hear back from them next week, or in a month, or never.

    5. Ama

      Three weeks really isn’t a long stretch of time — it’s entirely possible many of those jobs are still collecting applications and haven’t even started sorting through them to select people for interviews. Especially since it is summertime, and they may be working around vacations for people involved in the hiring process.

    6. Recruiter

      If he’s not already, he should include a cover letter that makes it’s clear he’s definitely moving to this new city, will be there by X date, and will not need relocation assistance.

      1. Ad Astra

        This could be key if he’s not doing that already. Or, if some of the applications are just “send me your resume,” he should be sure to mention that he’s relocating when he emails the resume.

        Beyond that, I’d say three weeks is not long enough to raise any red flags. I’m sure at least some of those companies are still evaluating applications and haven’t decided who to interview yet. I think it’s a good sign that he’s found 40 relevant job openings in one area.

    7. The IT Manager

      Three weeks is not a long time for companies. They will often collect resumes for a few weeks before sorting through them and deciding who to call.

      That said 40 resumes in three weeks sounds like a lot. Is he really a good fit for all the jobs or is he applying to anything sort of close? There’s nothing wrong with the shot gun approach per se but it’ll have less greater percentage of no responses than a more targeted approach.

  21. Retail Lifer

    I had to take myself out of the running for the one job I got landed an interview for. It was a pay cut, which I could have dealt with, but that coupled with the price of insurance made it not doable. They were willing to negotiate a couple bucks an hour, but it wouldn’t have been enough. I just hit my second anniversary at this job and my first anniversary of trying to quit before I get fired or laid off. I think I’m secure through the end of the year at least, but I’ll be livid if I’m still here on Thanksgiving when we open at 6pm and I have to spend another holiday by myself because of my work schedule.

    1. Ad Astra

      I’m rooting for you! Even when you have great skills and experience, so much of job searching falls upon luck and timing.

  22. Ms. Elizabeth

    My manager asked for my job description and asked me write one. Is this normal? What I find strange is that I already have one from when I started.

    1. fposte

      It’s pretty standard around here; that’s how they evolve. Probably the one you got when you started was written by your predecessor.

      So use that as a template and update it to describe what you actually do.

    2. AndersonDarling

      It happens. Someone in HR realizes that they haven’t updated the job description in 5 years and they are all outdated. Or they could be doing a compensation evaluation to make sure the payscales are still accurate and this is the first step.

    3. Dawn

      Super common. Usually stuff like this is when someone in HR gets a bug up their butt to have totally updated job descriptions for some reason- either for making sure compensation is in line with job duties or maybe for regulatory reasons or tax purposes. When I worked at a big company there was this thing where R&D was counted totally differently than everything else for tax/stock market purposes so they had to go through EVERYONE’S job description with a fine toothed comb and figure out who was R&D. The easiest way to get an updated job description from everyone is to have everyone write their own job description, because who better to know exactly what you do at that job?

    4. PhoenixBurn

      Pretty standard, and with the proposed changes to the FLSA regs, a lot of companies are cleaning up their job descriptions even if they don’t do it regularly (which they should). It’s a good thing that they’re coming to you – who knows your job better than you do? You’re the best source for what makes sense to be on the job description – HR can’t know everything that you influence every day.

    5. Ad Astra

      This could be a great opportunity to talk to your boss about how you want to divide your time up. You could potentially address any duties that have fallen to you but might be better suited for someone else, or talk about taking over duties that fit well with your skills but are being handled (or mishandled) elsewhere.

      If your boss isn’t keen on you making actual changes to your official responsibilities, you could still turn this into a conversation about how best to measure success in your role.

      Or maybe she just wants an exhaustive list of exactly what you do all day. If you’re not sure, ask.

    6. Erin

      I do think it’s normal, I remember doing it for a prior job. Presumably your job has expanded since you were hired and you’ve taken on new responsibilities. Your manager is probably requesting an updated description because A, he just wants to have that on record, B, he trusts you to do your job and doesn’t micromanage, so he’d just like to be brought back in the loop as far as what you actually do every day, or C, he’d like it in case you go on vacation or have to take sick time, so he can ensure your duties are properly delegated and taken care of in your absence.

  23. Notetaker

    Is taking a lot of notes during training off putting?

    I recently started a new job (entry level assistant position) and during my training meetings with my manager have been taking fairly detailed notes. She’s been teaching me both about the industry, big picture of the company, but also how to use a lot of the applications I’ll need.

    But I heard from my friend in the same company that when she was training, her boss (different from mine), said “Oh this isn’t college, you don’t need to do that.” Granted, this particular manager is not known for being very detail oriented herself and doesn’t rely as much on notes and organization in her own work.

    Is it offputting when I take very detailed notes? I just want to make sure I retain as much as possible, as I am new to both the job and the industry! Is it more professional to just retain things mostly aurally?

    I know I’m overthinking this, but if it is somehow a faux-pas I want to be aware of it. Thanks everyone!

    1. TheExchequer

      If taking notes to help remember something is a faux pas, I would not work well in that place.

      1. Notetaker

        That was my thinking too! To be clear, I WAS taking fairly detailed notes. It absolutely did not affect my ability to verbally engage with my manager or to look when she showed me things, but I am usually writing for the majority of the training meeting (not just jotting down things here and there).

        I mean, as I said, these are literally my first training sessions. I want to retain as much as possible and that system works best for me, but I want to make sure it didn’t come off as excessive somehow.

      2. Elizabeth West

        Me either. I tell people training me that it might take us more time to go over stuff if I take notes, but it’s unlikely you’ll have to go over it again. And if we miss something, I can easily see where we didn’t cover it or where I can insert it into my procedural.

      3. Not So NewReader

        Yep. I had a boss that would not let me write down the steps for a 27 step process. His excuse was that he did not have time to wait for me. I cannot tell you how many times I screwed up that process. But maybe that is what he wanted. I don’t know. I finally grabbed other people and they filled me in.

        Always take notes. Be wary of anyone who says not to take notes. I have had people tell me, “I am always willing to help you because you take notes, it shows that you care about doing a good job.”

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      Take as many notes as you need, if that is how you retain information.

      Try to do it when there is a natural pause for a moment or when something is really important to write down straight away and don’t focus so much on the note taking you’re not engaged in the conversation.

    3. Rock

      What.
      No. Taking notes is critical, especially if that’s how you remember things best. I’d be much more frustrated if a person didn’t take notes and then came and asked for answers that we’d gone over multiple times. There is no faux-pas here.

    4. MissLibby

      If I was training you and you were not taking notes, I would be very worried about your success. Most people cannot retain all of the information given verbally and notes are really helpful. However, your note taking should not be taking more of your attention than the actual training.

      1. Sprocket

        Yes this. When I train people and they don’t take notes, they always circle back to me on something we’d covered that they’ve forgotten.

        I’ve never had a manager discourage me from taking notes. Most have made comments about how much they appreciate that I do. But I’ve always been straightforward that if I don’t write something down, I will totally forget. Whereas something about pen to paper makes me remember got a long while before I even have to reread those notes.

    5. T3k

      Your friend sounds odd, or maybe she’s one of those who can retain information from hearing it. However, I love taking notes and at my first job the manager was perfectly ok with me taking notes so that I could look at them first before bugging him if I had a question.

    6. AnotherAlison

      A while back, I had a temp work for me who did this, and it was off-putting. With her, it was all about the notes. I wanted her to focus on *understanding* what I was saying rather than making a detailed step by step record of what I was showing her.

      I remember in college, I would write down a professor working through a problem step-by-step, and I couldn’t really think about what he was doing when I was furiously scribbling that down. Only later, when I could walk through it on my own, did I digest it. In the case of my temp, I wanted her to work on digesting it when I was there to explain the “why” of something. If she got stuck on a procedural step of doing something later, I could easily tell her, “Then you go here and do xyz.”

      So, it’s not necessarily wrong to do, but it may not be the best way to learn what your trainer wants you to learn.

      1. AnotherAlison

        (Also, for clarification, I definitely think you should note a few things to help you remember. . .just not a verbatim record of what I said.)

        1. Amber Rose

          I was gonna say, there’s a happy medium. Notes are meant to be quick, shorthand notations to act as reminders of key info. Not a full on recording of everything said.

      2. T3k

        Just a heads up, but everyone is different in how they can process something. In college I was able to write/type and draw, almost verbatim, what a teacher said/drew while being able to process it in my mind. It actually helped me better because when I went over my notes it’d refresh my memory on that particular lecture.

        1. Anx

          Yes to this.

          I don’t pay attention well to oral instructions. I try, I really do, but so much of my workplace anxiety comes from looking or feeling stupid or unfocused because I need to have information repeated or not feeling confident that I’m hearing things correctly.

          The act of writing helped me focus on what is being said. If I try to hard to just ‘pay attention’ I find myself just nodding along. I must have done this for years throughout childhood and never realized I was doing it.

        2. AnotherAlison

          Yeah, definitely agree with that. . .I would end up thinking about what I was going to have for lunch if I wasn’t taking notes, so it helped me focus, too, even if I didn’t get all the details on how we got from step 1 to step 13 the first time through.

          I admit, this woman was an extreme case. It was to the point where the 3 of us working with her made jokes about her note taking after she left because she had to have notes to do anything, took notes on everything, and typed up her notes after the fact. She would interrupt you an make you wait while she wrote something down, and the notes were to the level of “Step 1. Open Spreadsheet.” The person really oversold her Excel experience, so it was aggravating when I had to stop showing her what to do while she wrote down notes on how to format cells and things like that. Any normal note-taking doesn’t bother me.

          1. AnotherAlison

            (I promise I’m not a complete a-hole. . .I interviewed her and asked her about advanced Excel functions she didn’t know how to do, and she assured me that she was great at researching things and using forums and YouTube to figure it out. Nope, not really, and once you showed her, she never fully committed it to her arsenal. She relied on her notes from day 1 until the end and spent 20 hrs per week doing what I had previously done in 1 hour.)

            1. T3k

              Oh wow… ok yeah, I’d make fun of that first step too xD Sounds like she’s either really forgetful, or needs to work on that skill where things eventually become automatic after doing something over and over.

      3. Clever Name

        I process info as I write, and I remember it better. And if I don’t, I have detailed notes to refer to.

      4. Ad Astra

        It’s off-putting (to me, anyway) when someone is basically transcribing everything the speaker is saying when the situation is supposed to be more of a conversation than a lecture. Is your manager giving you detailed information, like step-by-step directions or due dates? Or is she trying to have a conversation about big picture stuff, like the office culture?

        Either way, your manager hasn’t brought it up with you, so it’s likely not a problem. The other manager probably just has different preferences.

    7. Diddly

      Can’t imagine it’s a faux pas – if you’re writing everything down word for word it might come across as a little strange and might be a bit frustrating for the person you’re training with.
      If someone queries it you can just say it’s your learning style – and you learn better this way.

    8. Swarley

      No way. And if someone does say something I’d say: you’ll thank me when I’m not in your office every 20 minutes asking the same question.

    9. Bea W

      I don’t think it normally is off-putting. A lot of people take notes. I’ve even had some who asked for a moment to finish writing something down before moving on. If taking notes helps you remember, that’s better for you and your trainer if you can take notes.

      I’ve been out of school more than 10 years. I still take notes, especially if I am being trained or learning something new.

    10. Clever Name

      If you’re concerned how you’ll come off taking copious notes, I think it might be a good idea to say something like, “I’m a compulsive note-taker, so if it looks like I’m not paying attention because I’m writing, I really am listening to everything you’re saying. Writing it helps me pay attention and remember the information.”

    11. TheLazyB (UK)

      I started a new job in June. Still taking copious notes every meeting.

      Some people don’t like taking notes, I guess. Those weirdos!

      ;)

    12. Rebecca

      What? No! I do some training for new employees and get really annoyed if they don’t take notes and then ask me about it later. Um, we’ve already gone over that. You should have written it down!

    13. Notetaker

      Super late, I know, but thanks for the replies everyone! It’s been reassuring. Regardless, I do think I’ll taper off on the notes the more immersed I get in the job — my notes tend to get more detailed the newer the topic is to me, which is what feels natural. I was just paranoid initially because my manager never outwardly seemed approving of my note taking – she frequently looks stressed in general but has otherwise been giving me only good feedback. And I am happy to report that so far I haven’t had to ask her to repeat anything! :)

  24. Carmen Sandiego JD

    For those of you who went to law school and are pursuing an alternative (non-practicing) career, what are you doing? I’m interested in crisis management/public policy/public relations but wasn’t sure where to start. Thanks :)

    1. Lo

      A close friend/former coworker of mine just graduated with her JD. For the last summer and year of law school, she interned in govt relations at a insurance company. She was offered a full time position there, as a policy analyst, post Bar-exam.

    2. Katiedid

      I am a government relations manager for a non-profit (translation: a lobbyist without the big salary or any campaign contributions!). The JD is definitely helpful in deciphering legislative proposals and drafting them as well. I actually never even took the bar since by the time I was a 2L, I knew this was what I wanted to do and didn’t see the need to take the bar.

      Right after law school, I worked on the legislative staff for our state senate as well. I’ve also done compliance work in regulated areas (education and insurance), as an extension of government relations, where I analyzed newly passed legislation and informed business units on what processes would need to change because of the new statutes. For me, I didn’t like that as well because I like the legislative process, rather than dealing with its fallout!

    3. Jerzy

      My former chief of staff in a state legislative office was an attorney who only practiced for a short while before quitting.

      He didn’t quit law to be a chief of staff. He took the COS role because it offered him more flexibility…

      … to be a stand up comedian.

      He even helped start a group comprised SOLELY of former and practicing attorneys who really just want to be comedians. They’re called Comedians-at-Law.

    4. S

      I work in Alumni Relations at a university. I had Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing before I got my law degree.

    5. LENEL

      I am in Australia so jurisdictionally this may not be helpful, but I went straight from graduating to a policy and legislation role for State Government – it was the first offer to come in and I haven’t looked back (too much anyway).

      I did a whole range of things including delegations of legislative powers, writing letters to people about policy positions on my hot-button issues, working with other departments on relevant amendments to their legislation and writing cabinet submissions.

      I’ve since moved in to Governance in local government. It’s very interesting too, I still do legislation amendments and review, delegations, I help find relevant legal advices for internal departments and refer them for advice where it’s needed. I do Right to Information (FOI in other jurisdictions) and internal reviews of administrative complaints.

      It’s… satisfyingly legal without requiring me to engage in legal practice. I personally always loved the idea of the model litigant and am very rule orientated and risk-averse, so this type of role suits me (mostly) down to the ground. Aside from now and then stints of imposter syndrome and realising that I’m vastly underpaid for what I do (hello PPD time) I very much enjoy 95% of my job and I’m very glad I’m not practicing.

  25. Bend & Snap

    I am struggling to not verbally eviscerate my BEC. Anytime I present a new program (these are vetted, approved and funded by my department by the time she’s in a presentation) she goes out of her ways to try to poke holes in it in front of management. Her critiques are almost always without merit but she spends a lot of time trying to take me down/make me look stupid in front of my team.

    How do you guys politely shut this stuff down?

    1. fposte

      Or she thinks she’s being the useful devil’s advocate–it’s not necessarily about taking you down.

      I would consider what the goal of such a presentation is. If what she’s doing fits within the goal, then I think you just ride it out; if it’s outside the scope, you can say “Jane, we’re past that development stage now” or “That’s more granular than I can get today–could you write it up and send it to me?”

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      I would just let her keep sniping, and keep dismissing her “critiques” calmly and logically. Eventually someone in charge will get tired of her wasting time and tell her to zip it. Or maybe they see her as making sure that you’ve covered the bases on those issues she raises, so maybe you can be more proactive in talking about the possible obstacles you are trying to avoid by the particular approach you have chosen.

    3. KathyGeiss

      I’ve had this happen to me, although it was actually constructive but still frustrating. Two things helped me: can you engage with this person in advance and create a new space for these critiques before it’s in front of the big bosses? That will work if she has legit critique and isn’t trying to be a jerk.

      If that does work, I find it helpful to reframe my expectations. Going into a meeting knowing you’re going to be attacked doesn’t feel great but it can help you prepare for it -emotionally and literally with responses.

    4. T3k

      Sadly, I’m like one of those people. It’s just how I am and in my case, I’m not trying to be rude, but since I’m highly logical (I’m the one trying to figure out in a movie why they didn’t do it this other, simpler way and such) I don’t realize I’m coming off as being overly critical. The best way for someone to get this through to me is to be blunt. Had a friend that finally snapped one time “I’m not doing it that way because of this and this!” I wouldn’t suggest that though in the workplace. Instead, if you can, try talking to her and be direct like “I appreciate your concerns, but they’re coming off as overly critical and makes me look bad in front of my team” or maybe, as another suggested, give her a chance to look it over first?

    5. Bend & Snap

      Part of my challenge is that she competes with me (one sided). My boss has proactively noted it with me and addressed it with her.

      I don’t think she realize she’s coming off as an a-hole; she’s widely known for being intolerable to deal with because she’s a know-it-all. In this case, anything she’s raising has already been covered in the development process or is without merit.

      I don’t want to loop her in ahead of time because frankly, I don’t want to give her critiques any weight. I just want her to shut her pie hole in these meetings and if she feels really strongly about something, discuss with me in private.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Well, it sounds like everyone but her knows she’s being an asshat. So I’d say while you shouldn’t let her derail presentations or meetings with her nit-picking, that confirms to me that you can just say “Well, we already decided that X wasn’t a problem because of Y. Now, as I was saying…” and everyone else will take it as a poor reflection on her, not on you. You’ll come out looking like a well-prepared saint. :)

      2. AMG

        This happens to me and I think COsmic Avenger is right. People like this frequently dig their own holes, so take comfort in that while you shut her down.

      3. T3k

        After what you stated (she competes with you, boss knows, everyone knows she annoying) Cosmic’s is probably a better solution. Just be direct and leave no room for her to edge another word in.

      4. pony tailed wonder

        Wasn’t there a politician who shut down an opponent in a presidential debate by saying something like “Oh Jane, there you go again”, laughed and shook his head? I think he then continued with his point of view.

        1. Not So NewReader

          This might be the route to go, especially if everyone else seems about done with her questions also.

      5. fposte

        I don’t think shutting her piehole is worth spending a lot of effort on, though. You can go with “That’s outside of the scope for today, so we need to move on” when she raises something inappropriately, but getting her never to open her mouth in the first place is a goal beyond the workplace reasonable. So just keep your deflector shields polished.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Can you limit the number of questions per person?

      Can you tell her, “Jane, you always have lots of questions, let’s hear from other people.”

      As Jane starts her next question, “Jane, I have answered a few questions of your questions, I think that we should allow other people time to ask their questions. Does anyone else have questions? No? Good. [Go into wrap up.]”

      Which brings me to another point. Do you limit the Q and A time? That might help.

      Try, try, try to remember that you control the floor because you are the speaker. Practice redirecting the conversation at home and alone, if you want to. Personally, I do autopsies. I review the day and figure out what I let sail by me. Then I vow not to let a comment or question of that nature sail by me again. I work up a plan so it won’t. This takes time but the effect is cumulative. You will find that you think on your feet better because you have analyzed so many previous situations. It’s training your brain.

      Here I would decide to limit the Q and A time, if it is not already limited. Then I would practice and be comfortable with a couple of redirects that pull Jane out of the spotlight. See, this may not be about stomping all over you, it could be that Jane just likes the spotlight. Try to detach a little bit and frame it as “my audience wants Jane’s questions to STOP so they can go back to their jobs.” This detaching is important because it’s easy to want to cut her down with a few sentences. You give her those sentences and she’ll just be happy to be in the spotlight even more.

  26. TheExchequer

    My last day here and then I’m FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    My boss wants to do an exit interview. It’s a tiny company (less than 10 people) and my boss is also the owner of the company, so there’s nobody higher to appeal to. While I’ll be honest that his not paying me on time multiple times was an issue (especially after I brought the issue to him multiple times), I plan on being as diplomatic as possible about all the rest of it.

    My work here is done, after all.

    1. Beancounter in Texas

      Ummm…. not paying you on time is illegal, assuming you are/were an employee. If you’d like to make a Big Deal about it or at least see him reprimanded for it, contact an attorney or the Department of Labor. Since you’re looking to be as diplomatic as possible, though, perhaps just show him the laws in your state and the penalties for not paying employees on time. You’re not threatening him, just trying to help him for future payrolls.

      Glad you’re getting outta there, but I’m surprised you stuck around after multiple late payrolls.

      1. TheExchequer

        I know, but even in the state of California, the wheels of the Department of Labor grind very slowly. (Ask me how I know. >.<).

        I had to have a paycheck, even if it was a late one, so I stuck around until I got a new job. With my current financial situation, I didn't have the luxury of just quitting. As tempting as it sometimes was.

  27. bad at online naming

    I (finally) switched managers, and my new manager wants to have a career-pathing discussion next week.

    This is great, but… I honestly don’t really know what I want beyond the very short term. Short of spending $100s to go to a really fancy life/career consultation that several acquaintances have sworn by, any recommendations?

    1. Dawn

      Honestly? Wing it. There’s really no more “Work for the same company for 45 years and then retire” anymore, so there’s no need to sit down when you’re young and go “Hmm what do I want to do that won’t make me die inside every day twenty years from now?”

      Talk to your manager next week, see what your options are at the company you’re at, see what sounds interesting, go from there. I landed as a Business Analyst because four years ago I had the option of either continuing in a customer facing role or trying out being a Research Analyst, and being an RA sounded more interesting and wouldn’t have required me moving my desk. Now I’m riding the BA wave and enjoying myself, but making plans in the back of my head for when I will open up an organic farm and charcuterie business and how the skills I’ve learned in customer service and now RA/BA/Business Strategy will help with that.

      1. Not So NewReader

        “Hmm what do I want to do that won’t make me die inside every day twenty years from now?”

        LOVE this.

    2. AnotherFed

      It’s ok to not know what you want to do long term, just be honest that you’re still exploring that.

      One thing commenters here have recommended that seems really helpful is to think about what you can’t not do. Combine that with the things you’re interested in doing more of or learning about, and you’ll have something to talk to your manager about where you’d like to work/grow in the short-term.

  28. AnonyGoose

    Fellow vegetarians: What do you do at work potlucks?

    I find that if I eat beforehand, I get a constant stream of “why aren’t you eating?” If I try to eat the things I can (and at least halfway want) to, I end up with a lunch of potato chips and iceberg lettuce. Nine times out of ten, the “main” is provided, and it would feel weird to bring a competing main dish.

    1. Sunny

      Depending on your company, you can ask for accomadations. Be warned, for whatever reason, people will want to eat the limited supply of vegetarian food, leaving you without food.

      1. Oranges

        Not eating the vegetarian food can backfire though because then it’s not eaten and people assume there’s not less of a need them there actually is.

        In my choir we have a large spectrum of food issues from vegitarian/vegan to allergies to surgery and what works best is for the dishes to be labeled and the people who have dietary restrictions to go first if they so desire. That way if your diet is so restricted you’re sure to get food and the people behind you don’t have to worry that they’re going to leave you with nothing edible.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      Mac and cheese can be both a main and a side! Don’t feel weird about anything. Potlucks tend to be weird no matter what!

      I’m not a vegetarian but my boyfriend is and we don’t cook meat in the house, so “bring a dish” from us is always something veggie. I like to make substantial sides. I just did a bulgur and lentil salad that was SO good, and I’ve made things like tomato cobbler, seven-layer dip, noodle kugel… If it’s potluck, you can (and should) bring in a dish that you can eat.

    3. Apollo Warbucks

      Being vegetarian is a pretty standard dietary requirement to accommodate it shouldn’t be hard to get an option included in the pot luck you can eat

      I’m not vegetarian myself, but if there wasn’t normally anything to eat at the pot luck it would depend on if you are
      the only vegetarian? if so I would just bring some lunch for myself and eat it with everyone or I’d bring something along as a main dish, I can’t imagine that anyone would consider it being meant to compete with the meat based main dish.

    4. Limes

      Say I have a “really awesome dish” that I want everyone to try/get feedback on. Veggie lasagna, macaroni and cheese, potato salad (German style), etc. Usually it is something entree-like (I love to cook) but that way it’s FOR everyone and it’s not weird that you’re eating it.

    5. MissLibby

      We have a vegetarian in our office and for the last potluck, the organizer just put a note on the email invite saying that if anyone would consider bringing a meat free dish, it would be appreciated. People were really accommodating.

      1. einahpets

        I was going to suggest something like this — we don’t do many potlucks in my office, but amongst my friends we have a number of vegetarians and even though I am not vegetarian, I am happy to make something meatless that everyone can enjoy.

    6. Calla

      The last job we did work potlucks at, I organized them and people knew I was vegetarian, so I feel like they were more inclined to bring some non-meat dishes.

      But imo, it’s fine to bring another “main” dish. It’s a potluck, not a planned dinner party, it’s ok to have 2 things that could be a main–then people can choose! or have both! I typically made vegetarian chili for our potlucks, which definitely COULD be a main, but doesn’t have to be—some folks would take a full bowl, some would put just a scoop with the rest of their food.

      1. Jesse

        Also, die-hard meat eaters don’t think it is a “main” if it doesn’t have meat! So it’s not like people would be insulted.

    7. Retail Lifer

      I HATE work potlucks. I’m a vegetarian and I hate cooking. I usually eat beforehand and bring a bag of Sun Chips, or don’t attend at all if that’s an option.

    8. Rock

      “I end up with a lunch of potato chips and iceberg lettuce.”
      Oh, do I feel you. I haven’t found great solutions, other than when possible, bringing stuff I actually want to eat. A good defense strategy to keep others from chowing down on all of it is to make it as completely Obviously vegetarian as possible. Put kale and chickpeas in it. Make it look weird and scary. ;)
      At my last jobsite we had monthly “site lunches” that were mandatory. The food provided, meant for 400-800 construction workers, was about as vegetarian un-friendly as possible. Coleslaw and cookies were many a lunch for me. Solidarity, friend.

      1. Retail Lifer

        We’ve had work lunches at previous jobs where my only option was picking the meat out of pre-made sandwiches or picking the pepperoni off of pizza.

        1. Charlotte Collins

          I once ate a lettuce and mustard sandwich at the yearly all-employee meeting with lunch provided to thank everyone. I really felt the gratitude. (Keep in mind that this was in an area where cheese production is a big part of the economy. Why wasn’t there any cheese? The burger-eaters would have appreciated it, too!)

          At the most recent such event, they gave us veggie burgers (yay!). With no condiments (huh?). Luckily, I had brought a couple cheese slices from home (just in case) and had some catsup packets in my desk.

      2. literateliz

        Haha, okay, I often quietly marvel at the (intra-US) cultural differences I see in the comments here, but I just had to comment on the equation of kale and chickpeas = weird and scary… anything with kale and chickpeas would vanish immediately in my office! Other winners at previous work potlucks: beet dip, lotus root chips. The problem for our vegetarians is that we think their food looks extra delicious and want to eat it but at least they have plenty of options.

        1. S

          I used to order fully vegetarian Mediterranean platters for work functions and the falafel would disappear in 30 mins!

      3. Anx

        Wait.

        Is it a faux pas to eat vegetarian dishes if you eat meat? So long as you don’t pile up your plate with any one dish until everyone has a chance to help themselves, what’s the logic here?

        1. Charlotte Collins

          It is a faux pas if everyone eats the vegetarian food before the actual vegetarians get a chance at it. (The same goes for gluten-free, kosher, or anything else where someone has some sort of dietary restriction. Also, if you have been asked in advance about a dietary restriction – such as for a work-sponsored event, only enough food for those who listed the restriction might have been ordered. If you didn’t request a special meal, don’t take the special food. This happened at a club event I attended once. The caterers were great about providing more food as soon as they could, but it meant that some of us had to rush through our meals and to the next event, because we were waiting for the food we could eat.)

          My experience is that people who are used to buffet meals with those with dietary restrictions often make sure that those who have the restriction get to go through the line first. (Or they hold some of the food back for when those people can go through line and put it out when the “special diet” people have a chance to get some food.)

          1. Anx

            Interesting.

            I wouldn’t want to feel like I was restricted to meat-containing food at a potluck or something just because vegetarians were present. Especially as a former vegetarian, I tend to gravitate to those meals. It would seem a little counterproductive to dissuade omnivores from vegetarian dishes if your motive for vegetarianism was ethical and not medical.

            Potlucks/buffets are much different than plated dinners in that regard. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like eat an earmarked meal, but in cases where there were 3 types of sandwich with no indication that one was special I’ve probably gone for that one.

            I like the idea of people with special diets going through first.

            1. Charlotte Collins

              For the record, I’m on the “bring enough that the majority can try some” bus. My former manager loved the fact that I always brought twice as much as I thought I might need of an appetizer/savory dish and hold half back to refresh my offering in the afternoon if it turned out to be popular. She felt it was a wonderful surprise to find more of something she really liked around 1:00. (Since she had Type II diabetes, I also tried to bring something that worked with her diet if I wasn’t baking for the day.

              1. Anx

                I love bringing two dishes to refresh one later. I’m a licensed health inspector so I like doing thing to keep them out in shifts or in case a bunch of flies lands in one.

            2. Charlotte Collins

              For the record, I’m on the “bring enough that the majority can try some” bus. My former manager loved the fact that I always brought twice as much as I thought I might need of an appetizer/savory dish and hold half back to refresh my offering in the afternoon if it turned out to be popular. She felt it was a wonderful surprise to find more of something she really liked around 1:00. (Since she had Type II diabetes, I also tried to bring something that worked with her diet if I wasn’t baking for the day.)

          2. also veggie

            For some reason this reminds me of my sister’s college graduation…there was a pre-ordered lunch where my mom ordered 7 vegetarian sandwiches. Well, it turned out that they assumed that there were only 20 vegetarians at the whole event and your ticket was for *a* sandwich, not the one you pre-ordered, so by the time we got there there were no vegetarian sandwiches (and lots of upset people waiting). It turns out that some meat eaters also didn’t want to eat turkey.

            For the OP – I would bring a veggie dish that some people might enjoy as a side – like a three bean salad or something similar.

        2. ReanaZ

          Yeah, it really depends on the amount of vegetarian food (or gluten-free food or lactose-free food or whatever) to the number of vegos (or people needing other food accomodation) in the room. It’s generally a problem only when vego food is a half-assed after-thought or ordered as a special accommodation (i.e. we ordered one sandwich per vego and PILES of meat-laden sandwiches for everyone to share or there’s one single vego dish at the entire potluck).

          Now the proper solution to this is to order a normal amount of food of different categories (i.e. 1 tray of vego sandwiches for every 1-2 meat ones, a mix of veg and non-veg potluck dishes), not shame people who want to eat vego food without being strict vegos.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            The truth is that I *like* it when the non-veg people eat veg food and so we can prove to them how tasty it is. (Sadly, I have some really good tofu dishes that I’ve never brought because they’d be too “out there” at my workplace – the first time I brought hummus, I had no idea that it would be a New Thing and Big Deal for some people.) But I also like being able to get enough to eat. :)

            I’m lacto-ovo, and I guarantee that if there were any vegans or GF people at our potlucks, I’d let them go first. (And feel very sad for the GF people, because I love bread!)

    9. The Cosmic Avenger

      I’m not a vegetarian now, but we have had a few on our team at various times, and we always have plenty of vegetarian options. I often prefer them myself. And if you find that people often don’t accommodate you, just bring your own dish or eat your own lunch beforehand. That’s what I sometimes did when I was trying to lose weight. People should already know why you’re not eating, so if they ask, you should remind them that there is nothing there that you can eat.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Yeah, I can’t understand why, if it’s a potluck, the OP wouldn’t bring something. At Exjob, if you never brought stuff to the potlucks but ate anyway, you got the side-eye. Even a couple bags of Lays or signing up to bring drinks was acceptable.

    10. Liz

      I usually will make a side that can double as a main (which honestly is what most of my regular meals are), and then stick to that. Bean salads, mac and cheese, and pasta salads are all good for that.

      If I ever get bugged about not eating something, I just tell them straight-forward that I don’t eat meat and find it easier to stick to meals that I have prepared myself since there’s no knowing what someone puts in their food, especially when it comes to broth. For the most part people understand and leave it, but if anyone keeps prodding I just state that I’ve been doing this for over 5 years and it’s a system that works well for me and leave it at that.

    11. Anonymous Educator

      I’ve never done a work potluck, but I’ve done many non-work potlucks and often been concerned about what to eat. My solution is simple: the dish I bring is going to be vegetarian. If no one else brings anything for me to eat, I’ll eat what I brought.

    12. Ad Astra

      I’m surprised you have so much trouble finding something to eat at these potlucks. Other than the main dish, almost all the dishes my coworkers like to bring to potlucks — pasta salad, veggies and various dips, crackers, lots of desserts — is vegetarian. But this is about your office, not mine.

      Are the potlucks typically organized by the same person or group? I think it would be reasonable to approach them next time and let them know what you’d like to bring, and you can even add that you chose that dish because you’re a vegetarian. You could also ask them to provide something vegetarian, and most reasonable people would do their best to find an option that worked for you. Vegetarianism is a very easy dietary restriction to accommodate.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        I know, right? Now I’m thinking that AnonyGoose may work in the Chicago area. I love my family in Chicago, but they put meat and a stick of butter in EVERYDAMNEDTHING.

        1. fposte

          Hah, I’m from the Chicago area and I was thinking the south, where my vegetarian friend was lovingly presented with a salad–with ham in it.

          1. Rebecca

            Hahaha, one time my MIL made white bean soup for dinner. She proudly told me it was vegetarian, the sausage was in it but only for flavor. Oooookay…?

      2. Liz

        I was actually surprised when I first stopped eating meat how many side-dishes aren’t really vegetarian.

        A lot of pasta salads will have bacon thrown in, same with beans. Casseroles are often made with chicken stock. My roommate even makes a type of broccoli/coleslaw that has chicken seasoning in it which I never would suspect if I hadn’t watched her make it.

        Then you have the issue of salad dressings – many (Cesar is a big one, but certain brands do this as well) have fish or Worcestershire sauce in them. There’s also the threat of “natural flavor” in anything that someone buys from there store – there is no way of knowing what that natural flavor is, and there are cases when that is meat derived (I believe mcdonalds french fries are/were guilty of this). I have even found yogurts and desserts (twinkies!) that are made with meat products.

        Meat and meat-derived products are so ingrained in every type of food that it can be hard to get away from it.

        1. Ad Astra

          Ooh, I didn’t realize Worcestershire sauce wasn’t vegetarian! Though, it’s only just occurring to me that I have no idea what’s in Worcestershire sauce.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            There are anchovies in it, but you can buy vegetarian versions. Or you can make your own. (I’ve seen recipes but never actually tried this.)

    13. Charlotte Collins

      It depends on what kind of potluck we’re having. If it’s one where a complete meal is expected, then I always sign up to bring something that works as a vegetarian main. However, most of ours are just “bring what you want” and really tend to focus on the appetizers and desserts. I like to bake, so I often bring a dessert, but I will try to bring an appetizer that is vegetarian if I feel like that. (Brie wedges with grapes and candied pecans once was so popular that I think the entire tray was gone by 10:00 am. I also like to bring caprese skewers in the summer – grape/cherry tomato, basil leaf, fresh mozzarella.)

      However, unless it’s clear that the buffet is expected to be the meal for the day, I generally bring a sandwich and just enjoy the sides and dessert.

      On the other hand, I used to work with a woman who was allergic to chocolate. Because these events are chocolate heavy, I always brought a second dessert if I made something chocolate. She always really appreciated it.

      1. ReanaZ

        As a fellow sufferer of being unable to eat chocolate, I heart you for this. I love chocolate. I’m sad I can’t eat it. I’m even sadder when every single dessert option is chocolate and everyone is chomping down exclaiming how good it is and telling me I should have some. I even have one friend who routinely shows up to events *at my house* bringing only chocolate-containing snacks. Sigh.

        I don’t expect everyone to remember and accommodate my random food intolerance, but I have a deep and abiding love for those that do.

    14. Cube Farmer

      As a vegan, I know I have to plan well in advance for these types of meals. Even then, things sometimes do not go well (anecdote below). I like to cook so I bring a couple of vegan options, even main dishes. People usually enjoy trying new things. Inevitably there ALWAYS ends up being some BIG discussion over what I eat and do not eat…”You eat fish though, right?” No, I don’t eat fish. No animals, no animal secretions. “But what about cheese? You can eat that right?” No. “But what about…” No animals, no animal secretions. I eat plants. Plants and things that are made from plants, that’s what I eat.

      When vegan left me starving (well….very hungry): We were working on a Habitat for Humanity house as a company volunteer project. Lunch had been ordered by our awesome office manager and she had made sure to order me a vegan sandwich. We get there and it is announced that lunch is being provided by some other organization, so my company cancels the sandwich orders. I figure, “hey, at least there will probably be chips and veggies for me to eat.” No. There was chicken and rice, cooked in chicken stock, and soda. I was sitting with my company when over half way through lunch my boss looks at my soda and says “Oh, do you want me to go get you something to eat?” “No, hopefully the calories in this soda will get me through the day.” I learned to always have some nuts or peanut butter on me after that day.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        Oh god when I started working in one office my colleague could not get her head around my being a vegetarian. “But you still eat chicken, right?!” Errrr… no.

        1. Rebecca

          “Oh, of course! Chickens grow from the ground, right?”

          I have a friend who calls himself vegan, but eats fish. :/

          1. Charlotte Collins

            And this is why people ask stupid questions when they are presented with an actual vegetarian.

    15. kirsten

      Do people know that you’re a vegetarian? Everyone knows that I am at my office and I feel like some of them make an extra effort to bring veggie friendly things because of it. I also contribute something that could be a side dish or a main course like mac and cheese or pasta salad. There have been a few meetings where the person ordering the food didn’t ask for a vegetarian sandwich, and my boss will let me expense a lunch after the meeting because he felt bad.

      1. Kristen

        I would talk to the person who organizes the potlucks and make sure they are aware you are a vegetarian. They should include in the posting/email all dietary restrictions so that there is enough food for everyone. We have an employee that is lactose intolerant so we always take that into account when planning work potlucks and also lunch/dinner meetings outside of the office.

        1. Elizabeth West

          We have a person who has celiac in our meetup–when we have food, she doesn’t make a fuss and either eats beforehand or brings something she can eat. We always try to have at least one person bring a gluten-free option, and sometimes several GF things will appear. They’re usually quite good so we all can share. It’s nice to make sure the person gets something.

    16. Mephyle

      Bring a “side” of some vegetable and/or pasta. Never mind that to you it’s a main dish. Bring a lot of it. Somehow all the people who are all “I could never be a vegetarian – I love my meat” will decimate your vegetarian dish and leave hardly any for the vegetarians.

    17. zora

      when I was vegan, I just always brought something that would function as my main course. I just feed myself, and don’t worry about anyone else or what they bring.

    18. Rebecca

      I’m not entirely vegetarian, but I don’t eat pork or beef plus really dislike seafood. I volunteer to bring something that could be a side or main. Something like a big hearty green salad, grain/pasta salad, beans, something like that. So then there’s something that I know I can eat. I’ll fill up my plate with that and other sides. If someone asks why I’m not eating the main dish, I just say, “Oh, I don’t eat beef/pork. Everything looks great, though!” And then steer the conversation away from follow-up questions.

      I always have protein bars and other snacks at my desk, so if I need something else I will eat it later.

  29. The Other Dawn

    I’m 8 months into my new job and I’m starting to struggle with the move from doing and managing the day-to-day and high-level stuff, to just mostly managing both.

    I was the long-timer at OldJob1. I was there 17+ years, was a VP, had all the institutional knowledge, had my hands into everything, and knew all the obscure bits of information. I was very much in the weeds. I was the go-to person, also. At OldJob2 – I was there only 10 months – I was a worker bee and hated it. The job, the boss, the company. But I was still in the weeds so that made it somewhat tolerable. At the current job I’m back to being a manager, which I’m thrilled about. But I’m not really involved much on the day-to-day stuff unless someone has a question or we’re talking through an issue. I have lots of higher level stuff I’m working on and that keeps me busy, though.

    I struggled a lot at first with not being in the weeds on the day-to-day stuff, but was OK once I saw the team in action and started learning more about the systems and how we do things. But now that I’m established in the department in general, I’m noticing that the feeling isn’t really going away.

    So, how do people deal with going from being so entrenched in all the day-to-day activities of a department, to just managing the department and dealing with the higher level stuff? Do I just need to get over it? Or are there ways to not feel so…I don’t know what the right word is. I guess I feel like if I’m not dealing with all the daily tasks then I’m not really part of the department. Not sure if that makes sense. (Sorry, I’m really tired and headache-y today.)

    1. Dawn

      Well, I guess the first thing is: do you *need* to be in the weeds? Do the people under you operate well enough that you don’t need to be in the weeds with them? If so, freakin’ awesome, you’ve got a good team. Are you having meetings with your reports on a regular enough basis that you can at least keep tabs on what’s going on? Are you circulating out of your office and getting in face time with people- and I don’t mean on serious stuff I just mean hey are you learning everyone’s names and chatting about weekend plans when you get coffee and just generally cultivating a “hey I’m here for you if you need me and I’m nice and I have an open door policy” if that’s what you’re going for?

      To me, “Feeling like part of the department” is more of a really recognizing your role within the larger organization as a whole and then figuring out how to make yourself shine in that role.

    2. Beancounter in Texas

      I’m dealing with the same feelings. I use to be in the action, day to day work of keeping the books and now I have two bookies who do the boring payables and routine receivables, which is nice, but I feel adrift. When they go on vacation and I cover their essential duties during those days, I feel back to myself again, but I don’t want that to be my day-to-day routine anymore.

      What I’m finding helps me is asking them and thinking about ways to improve process efficiency. This week I convinced The Boss to (**finally**) let us print deposit slips from QuickBooks instead of handwriting them with a bunch of extra information about which the bank could not care less. I also earned permission to pursue online banking feeds directly into QuickBooks because The Boss is basically scared employees will find a way to steal money from him without his knowledge if we get online banking access.

      I’m also researching a SAAS to streamline the rents collections (basically the whole AR process), potentially going paperless, human resources management software (but probably just an Access database), and perhaps instituting a process workbook, so that anyone who comes behind me can get a sense of who/what/how/why/where.

      So these kinds of projects occupy my time (as does cruising AAM), but I work in a small family business (where the dysfunction is real) and I have more lateral reach to propose changes.

    3. Hazel Asperg

      I have no real, helpful advice, but I am glad I learned the phase ‘in the weeds’ since I’d never heard it before. I guess it’s an American idiom.

    4. Not So NewReader

      You are missing two things here: institutional knowledge and weeding. I think it’s normal to feel adrift if those two are missing. These are two things that make a person feel anchored/secured. Instead of focusing on the weeds, why not focus on stuff that would make you feel more “settled in”.

      This could be anything. Maybe you go through some archives to beef up your institutional knowledge. Maybe you spend more time talking to the employees to learn about their weeds. Maybe dig into the nuts and bolts of your job some more. It could be you need to rotate in and out of all three.

      I think that after being at a job long term, the first year on a new job is TOUGH. It’s like someone rearranged your furniture at home or maybe even moved your house. Nothing is familiar, nothing is old hat. It takes a while for things to be come old hat. Decide to grant yourself that time.

  30. AvonLady Barksdale

    Because I have a few projects coming up and September is closer than we think, I’m curious– to all of you out there who are Jewish, Muslim, or belong to any religion where your major holidays are not observed by your workplace… how do your companies handle time off for big religious holidays? Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are right around the corner and I’m at a new job, so while I don’t need advice, I’m curious. :) For my part, I’m relatively observant but not very religious, if that makes sense– I don’t keep kosher or keep the Sabbath to the letter, but I do belong to a synagogue, attend services regularly, and the High Holidays are very important to me. I generally take two days off for Rosh Hashanah and a day and a half for Yom Kippur– during those days I am completely out of pocket, as I don’t check emails or answer the phone.

    At my first job out of college, my boss was Jewish and simply let me take the days without using PTO. At my second job, I had to take PTO– though we had 4 “personal holidays” in addition to vacation that I could use (and eventually I had 25 vacation days, so it didn’t hurt as much). At my last job, where I was the only Jewish person on staff (kind of strange to me, as I work in media and the company was based in LA! But it was tiny), my boss insisted that I get the days off without it counting toward my (very meager) PTO. At my current job, I’ll have to use vacation days; while we have the week off between Christmas and New Year’s and our Fridays are flexible, so it’s not the worst, this means I use 3.5 out of 10 vacation days for the holidays.

    So what do you do? Do you take the days you need and take the hit on your PTO bank? Are your employers flexible? Do you ever get in a situation where you feel like you can’t or shouldn’t observe a holiday because you can’t get the time off?

    Again, mostly just curious here, but this has always fascinated me. :)

    1. Katie the Fed

      Well, in most places, not being able to get the time off shouldn’t be an issue, because your employer has a legal responsibility to allow you to observe the holiday as long it’s not an unreasonable burden on the employer.

      In practicality, I’ve never had an issue. I have a very devout Muslim employee who prays 5 times a day and despite us being super busy I’ve never noticed. He asked for Eid al Fitr off and that was an easy fix – if he wanted to make up the hours another time I would have let him. My Jewish employees have been able to take the high holidays off without issue, and they’re usually fine with working Christmas if we need so it’s a win/win.

      1. Elkay

        But do they take them from PTO or are they given them without needing to use allowances? My old boss was Sikh and if she went “home” to her parents for Diwali she took leave (I’m in the UK).

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            As it should be, right? Why would taking time off for a religious holiday (that is not an organization-wide holiday) be treated differently than taking time off for vacation, death in the family, illness, or etc.?

            (I do acknowledge the unfairness of the days that are usually given as org-wide days off – Christmas, for example, but not Yom Kippur or Eid or etc.)

            1. AvonLady Barksdale

              I think that’s the only time it truly irks me– Yom Kippur. I don’t mind taking days off for personal things, including holidays, but I don’t know a single Jewish person who doesn’t take off for YK (I’m sure there are many, don’t get me wrong), it’s a Big Freaking Deal, and… nope. Still have to take a vacation day.

              I do appreciate Christmas as my Day Off From the World, but my partner’s family isn’t Jewish (he’s pretty much Jewish minus the mikvah, at this point) so I have to, like, do stuff on Christmas now. Dammit.

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                yeah, I hear you. My last organization closed down between Christmas and New Year’s, and while that was awesome (for me, because I do celebrate Christmas and usually do my family travel during that time frame; and for everyone, because it’s wonderful to have EVERYONE out at the same time), but was patently unfair. It aligned perfectly with all the Christian (and culturally Christian) people’s travel/time off needs and not at all for anyone who didn’t celebrate Christmas.

                Two jobs ago, we shut down for a week over the 4th of July. That seemed like a perfect solution to me.

                (Current job, no shut down. But tons of vacation days, so I’m not complaining.)

                1. fposte

                  Though the December week off also aligns for all the non-Christians with kids in school; that’s a pretty significant addition to the constituency.

            2. Cath in Canada

              Well, a lot of places in predominantly Christian countries give Christmas and Easter as a “freebie” – it’s a public holiday, so you don’t have to burn PTO to get the day off.

              In some places I’ve worked, employees who observe non-Christian holidays were given the option to work on the Christmas and Easter public holidays and take their “freebies” on different dates – is that an option for you?

      2. Retail Lifer

        My company was founded by a Jewish family but, depending in your position, you might only get standard (?) holidays off, or none if you’re part-time and work in a mall location. None of the Jweish holidays count for us. You have to use PTO for any additional holidays not granted to everyone, and you’te just screwed if you’re part time and are needed that day.

    2. fposte

      It’s a fascinating question to me too, since I’m a version of a state employee; it made me curious to see how we handled it.

      The answer is that individual campuses and divisions seem to have have been allowed some wiggle room, which surprised me. However, we get “floating holidays” on top of vacation, and in at least one instance those are specifically indicated as what you’d take for religious holidays where we’re not otherwise closed. (The only religious-associated holiday we close on is Christmas, so it’s not like there’s a wave of Christian holidays we get off either.)

    3. b lee

      First of all, truly excellent name!

      I am not at all observant and usually don’t take off for the High Holy Days (I actually started this job on Rosh Hashanah because I totally forgot about it when I agreed to the start date), but that is also partially because my company requires people to use PTO and I just don’t prioritize it. Whoops.

      1. b lee

        With that said, I’m sure that if I asked my boss she would probably let me make up the time instead of using PTO. But we don’t allow for “extra” holidays or whatever.

    4. MaryMary

      Old Job had a floating holiday. You could use it for Rosh Hashanah, Eid, Good Friday, or any holy day of your choice. Technically, it was an additional PTO day, so you could declare a holiday and take it whenever you chose. One year I decided my birthday should be a holiday.

      1. Beancounter in Texas

        RadioShack let retail employees have their birthday off as a holiday to even out that the corporate employees got the day after Thanksgiving. I thought it was a nice gesture so that nobody got more holidays than others due to the nature of retail business.

    5. Beancounter in Texas

      With the shoe on the other foot, as I work for an Orthodox Jewish family and we get all of the observed non-working Jewish holidays off paid. It’s a kind of golden handcuffs, because while it’s nice to get a some four day weekends in a row (as a Gentile), and lump together with vacation days, the same amount of monthly work needs to be completed in less time.

      But then, The Boss doesn’t comprehend how big of a holiday Christmas is for Gentiles, even the non-religious ones, so we’ve had to push for some flexibility regarding getting off early on Christmas Eve to travel and tacking on vacation days with Christmas. He either Doesn’t Get It, or Doesn’t Sympathize with employees enough, seeing that he takes a day and a half off for Yom Kippur and leaves early before Pesach. (But, he’s The Boss.)

      One of the Gentiles of the group is Catholic and likes to attend mass on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, with which The Boss does not have a problem, but the hourly employee does not get paid for leaving early on those days. I think he shortens his lunch to avoid taking vacation time.

      The Boss’ Son, however, is not penalized for leaving at 3:30pm to get home in time for Shabbat in the winter, but I think he works late in the summer and it’s not my habit to police the family’s working hours.

      I don’t think it’s fair that non-Christians (in the US) are can be required to utilize PTO to get paid for their observed holidays, but if everyone is treated equally regarding paid time off, the employer doesn’t really have control over the reasons for using PTO. This is also why I believe three weeks is the minimum vacation that should be given, but I digress. I sympathize.

    6. someone

      i’ve always had to use PTO/vacation to take the day/half-day off when i go to Eid prayers; however in my current job (exempt, usually >55 hours/wk) my boss doesn’t care as long as my work gets done – so I would just work more hours as needed later that day/week to get my stuff done and not have to use PTO.

      1. someone

        sorry, i should add that if i want to NOT WORK at all that day (i.e. if we’re going to prayers, then several people’s houses, etc. for celebrations), then i do in fact use PTO in my current job – it’s like a boundary around the whole day to let my boss/team know i’m not online that day.

    7. Elizabeth West

      We did not have any Jewish (or Muslim) employees at Exjob, but the Jewish holidays did impact us. We had customers in the eastern part of the country who would be closed on those days. I had to be careful to ship stuff to them so it would arrive before or after the holidays. I would write them all on my calendar so I could estimate delivery dates, because FedEx would either drop it off and it would sit there, thus risking theft, or we’d risk it getting lost in the warehouse or coming back to us (all of which would cost us money). It wasn’t much trouble for me, though we did sometimes have to overnight stuff to make sure it got there on time. I wrote down the Canadian holidays too, for our customers in Canada.

    8. DebbieDebbieDebbie

      I am also a Fed. There is one other person in my department who has the same role. She is Jewish (orthodox). She negotiated four 10-hour days compared to my five 8-hour days. She cares for things that come up with my projects after 3pm and I care care of business every Friday. With the generous paid leave that accompanies federal employment, she is able to take the holidays and days before for preparation. Since it is just the two of us, I plan to avoid taking time off in Sept-Oct. However, when Passover and Easter overlap, we are both permitted to take the time off we request without so much as a peep from our manager when such requests would never fly any other time. We have worked together for 8 years and while there have been some aches and pains, I would loathe to be a person who would interfere with any other person’s heartfelt worship.

    9. ReanaZ

      I really like the approach of having a few ‘floating holidays’ for all employees. It was a good compromise for both religious holidays and for navigating different holiday schedules between different state offices. People who didn’t take them for either were encouraged to take them at the end of the year/beginning of the new year.

      I like it because no one’s religious is getting prioritised or penalised. While I understand “PTO/holiday time is designed to allow you the flexibly manage your life priorities”, the fact that people of a dominant religious group get their holidays as paid holidays (and often, time around the holiday for travel and preparation) and members of minority religious groups have to use their PTO benefits to observe their own holidays is pretty icky.

    10. Silver

      At a former employer the staff were under a union agreement that allowed for 6 weeks of PTO a year but you only got two listed public holidays off, the rest you could choose to take using your extra PTO. This was a very multicultural employer and it was their way of allowing employees to take their specific Holy Days off while still being fully staffed. (Note that this location had people working 24 hours ever day of the year.)

  31. Me

    How do you guys remain “drama-free”? In the last two positions I have held, there is always a bunch of gossip and backstabbing. I know that I am the common denominator, but I am not sure what I need to do to change.

    Some people seem to be impervious to drama and I want to be one of those people. Tell me your secrets.

    1. HigherEd Admin

      Don’t engage. When people start coming to you with gossip and ally-making, simply say you’re busy with work and can’t talk. Or say you like to keep your involvement professional. The only way to be impervious to drama is to not even remotely engage in it.

      1. Retail Lifer

        This. If you respond, people will keep coming to you. When it starts, I usually just say “Uh huh” and either continue what I’m doing and walk away. If you’re no fun to talk to, no one will be interested in telling you.

      2. esra

        Yea, this here. I just be really boring and dry when anyone tries to engage in this kind of this. Lots of “Oh, really?” and “I see, well, back to project X…” responses.

    2. The Other Dawn

      I just go in and do my job. I’m being paid to do it. Time spent on gossip is taking time away from the things I’m supposed to be doing. I resist the urge to be “one of the gang”, even though I used to be a follower when I was younger, by not participating in any of it. I used to engage in gossip, but all it did was make my productivity and reputation suffer.

    3. Katie the Fed

      Respond like this, and people will think you’re an old stick-in-the-mud and stop coming to you:

      “Oh, I actually like Daria”
      “Oh, I don’t this Daria is bad at that”
      “Oh, I don’t really like to speculate on people’s personal lives.”
      “mmmm”

    4. nona

      When someone tries to gossip with you, suddenly become the most boring, least opinionated person alive. Vaguely like everything they bring up. Anything else gives them more material to work with.

    5. sittingduck

      My co-worker recently commented to me that she had mentioned to my boss that I don’t ever talk about my other co-workers behind their back, and she found that admirable.

      I’m not sure I have a ‘secret’, there is totally drama in my office, and I tend to hear about most of it, from one source or another, I guess my ‘secret’ is to just not engage. I will listen to what my co-workers say about others, but I don’t engage, I don’t agree or disagree, I just act as an ear for them to talk to. I think most times when someone is griping, they are just looking for someone to listen. I am willing to be that listener, but since I really don’t want to be part of any drama, I don’t perpetuate it, or add my own opinions.

      I do have opinions too, I just choose not to share them, with my co-workers. I will from time to time gripe to my friends about my co-workers, if I need to gripe, but just never in the office.

      I even heard through a co-workers that others were talking about me once, and while it pissed me off, and i fumed for 1/2 a day, then I decided its not worth getting upset over, and I just let it go. I know that is harder than it sounds. I just really don’t want to be part of the office drama, so I choose to stay out of it (now consciously, before my co-workers comment it was actually unintentional)

      Good luck!

    6. GOG11

      I have a coworker who knows EVERYTHING. He gossips like you wouldn’t believe. If he talks about something, I do work in the background or, if it’s related to work, I give low-key answers like “huh, interesting.” If he asks me a question, I try to very nonchalantly say, “Oh, I don’t know about that.” or, lately, “I just work here” with a bit of a laugh. During my review, I did mention to my boss that sometimes I struggled to respond to some of my colleagues and I gave an example of something inappropriate my colleague had asked about another colleague (not naming any names). She knew who I was talking about (not from the example, but because he’s “that guy.”) and I took the opportunity to say that if she gets complaints that I seem standoffish or rude, that might be why.

      TL;DR – don’t engage with your tone, body language or words (be neutral, or as another commenter in a previous open thread said, be beige) and they will realize they can’t get what they’re seeking from you, whether it’s a listening ear or dirt on someone else.

    7. CanoeSeeMe

      Well, I stood up to my bullying ex-boss on multiple occasions, but she then fired me, so that may not be the route you wish to go. My secrets (MWA-HA-HA!):
      Be honest. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Flakiness leads to drama.
      If it’s your fault, just apologize for it and try to make it right or move on. As my friend says, “The maximum effective range of an excuse is zero meters.” If you’re known as someone who will never be at fault for anything and/or always has an excuse, that can lead to drama. If you’re in management, never apologizing doesn’t cement your authority; it just makes it clear that you’re afraid of losing your authority.
      Over-communicate. One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was to send your supervisor an email at the end of the week identifying what you did/accomplished that week. “What is that guy doing?” is replaced with, “Oh yeah, he just emailed me about the Larson project.” Boss knows what you’re doing = decreased drama.
      Refuse to participate in gossip. As with cheating, if they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you. Gossip leads to drama.
      At work functions, you may have one drink. More than one drink leads to the legendary stories about coworkers or predecessors: “Oh, yeah, at last year’s Christmas party, Dr. J got up and…”
      Avoid places in academia or with nepotism (if you can). If the odds of losing your job are excruciatingly low, then making someone else’s life miserable is easy because the stakes (for you) are so low. People who can walk and will over you with impunity lead to drama.

      Any other advice? People to tell me that they would hate working with me?

      1. Not So NewReader

        This does work. I had a boss tell me, “You never talk about other people.” Well, not totally true. And I believe most people gossip at some point.

        First thing, there is a difference between asking for help with a difficult situation and gossiping. Additionally, I tend to be work focused where I map out my day and I want to get x done by 9 y done by 10;30 and so on. If you are seriously doing this mapping each day, people pick up on your work focus and tend to not bother you with gossip.

    8. LQ

      Never repeat anything.

      If people come to you because you are a repeater/sharer then become the vault. Information goes in but never comes out. This cuts down on a lot. It does take a type of currency away from you which can be a problem. If you use information as a currency to make friends then not having that currency can be hard. So you’ll have to find other kinds of currency. But that’s a big piece to stop.

    9. OriginalYup

      I try to be courteous to everyone I work with, regardless of whether I like them. With someone who’s a total PITA, I try to keep our interactions limited and strictly business, and I try to start from a neutral place with them in each interaction (don’t start stewing about what a PITA they area before you walk into a meeting with them).

      When people try to bring me into their drama, I do what Katie the Fed says above. “I like Daria, I think she’s really nice.” “I’m sorry to hear you’re not getting along with Steve. Have you talked with him about what’s bothering you?”

      If someone tries to start drama *with* me, I remind myself that it’s a choice to engage. Just because they’re screaming and rolling around in the mud doesn’t mean I have to. I’ll speak up firmly if it crosses a line — “please lower your voice” — but otherwise, let them have their one-person boxing match.

    10. Biff

      I’m dealing with the same problem, compounded by the fact that the right mix of gossiping and backstabbing will get people promotions. I’ve had some harsh realizations in the last few months:

      1. People are often talking to you to get or confirm dirt. They may use idle chatter against you much later.
      2. I’m not good at filtering and I can easily be pushed to over-share.
      3. I feel bad after interactions — and that’s the INTENTION. It’s not me ‘failing’ at small talk. It’s the intended outcome.

      The best way I’ve learned to disengage is to watch how they talk to other people. When I see people get baited or walk away obviously feeling bad…. it reinforces my desire to not engage and it also helps me recognize when they are engaging in a dirt-finding exercise instead of just slacking. I do have to make small-talk sometimes and I’m trying to teach myself that if I accidentally end up in potentially bad territory to back out instead of rush through to the other side, or just walk away.

  32. Lasso

    Anyone have advice on taking a pay cut? I work in libraries now but have a potential offer (I know offers aren’t guaranteed, just trying to plan ahead) at a college office. I’d LOVE to work for a college, it’s been my goal, in just about any capacity. The pros: it’s in the state I actually want to live in, at an institution I want to be a part of, summers off. The con: pay is much less. Normally I wouldn’t care too much, but I’m a bit afraid of my student loans coming due soon. I think I can afford to pay them with an income based repayment schedule but I’m scared. I’d very much appreciate any advice or words of wisdom on this.

    1. Dawn

      Be absolutely sure you can repay those loans, then go for it. If you don’t you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

    2. limenotapple

      I am dealing with the same thing, and I work in libraryland. I don’t have an offer in hand, but I think if I do it could be for a lower salary. So, we are currently living as if we have that lower salary and we’re seeing how we feel about it. Not sure if you have time to do that, but it’s made me think about how I spend my money and what things are worth it and what things are not.
      I’m a list maker, so I am making lists of what I would have to give up on the new budget. It’s helpful to look at how many times I could afford to go out with friends/spend on entertainment/enjoy restaurants, etc, and then deciding if that’s how I want my life to be.
      Not sure if any of this is helpful, but i do understand the dilemma. Good luck!

    3. Anonymous Educator

      Spouse and I have always been able to ask to have the loan monthly payments reduced when one of us is between jobs or making less than before. You may want to contact your loan provider to see if you can lower the monthly payment.

      Loan payments aside, though, I will say I’ve taken pay cuts several times for a better working environment or a better job, and I have never regretted it. In fact, at my current job, I’m making 19% less than at my last job, and I’m in a properly supportive (and less stressful) environment and learning a lot more.

    4. Ragnelle

      What is the cost of living in the city and state you’d be moving to if you accepted a job offer? If you look at the housing options and other living costs in the area, you might find that you are getting a better deal if prices are lower. Alternatively, you might find that housing isn’t significantly cheaper at all, which would make the pay cut have a more dramatic effect on your quality of life. The city’s chamber of commerce may have some good information about costs, benefits, and other amenities in the area for you to consider as you make a decision.

    5. Pineapple Incident

      Income-based repayment has been my lifesaver! If you have Federal student loans, the kicker is for at least one of those plans you don’t have to pay more than 10% of your income (verified annually) each month- this plan is called ‘Pay As You Earn’. You can choose to put in extra payments or extra on any given payment if you want here or there, and it doesn’t count against you or change the amount that you’re required to pay. I was super terrified of this on a pretty low salary but I was able to make my payments even when I was working in retail for teeny wages.

      If, however, this is still too much of a stretch for your new salary, you can always file for a forbearance. This is basically a declaration that you’re making too little to manage loan payments right now, and it continues for 6-months (you can verify again at this point to continue the forbearance if you’re still making the same amount). Loan servicers want to keep you out of delinquency/default, so always explore these options before you miss a payment if you’re anticipating problems. I hope you get your offer!

    6. Anonymousterical

      I took a 36% pay cut to work in higher ed administration. Totally worth it. Just make sure that you can afford your loans and other bills, and be prepared to cut back on extras, but, if you can reasonably swing it, then go for it. The environment is like none other.

    7. BRR

      Specifically about your student loans, if you switch to an income-based repayment plan it’s a possibility interest can accrue faster than you’re paying them off. So you could be paying $X per month and at the end of the year extra interest has accrued (and if they’re federal which it sounds like they are I believe that amount gets added to the principal). Just because you’re paying on them doesn’t mean the amount owed is going down.

    8. JustMelissa

      Also, if you have federal student loans, and the college is a non-profit state college you may qualify for the public service student loan forgiveness program. Of course, if you work in a public library this is also true!

  33. Lizzy

    I have been reading over topics on how to answer “why do you want to leave your current position?” in job interviews, particularly when trying to leave a toxic environment. I have discussed my current situation in a few threads before–read here and here for more detail.

    Here is a summary:

    I have been working for a performing arts org since last fall. I was hired by the Managing Director (who herself was hired to clean up some org issues) and was doing a good job growing in my position in my first 6 months until she left for maternity in May. Since we are small, there was no plan set in place, thus leading to staff being managed by the Board. Not only have they done a poor job, but things have definitely gotten worse. They micromanage and expect every little detail to go through them, but they are inaccessible and never get back to us in a timely manner (they are constantly on vacation). They are very critical of our work, but not in a way that is very constructive. They don’t understand how day-to-day operations work, but won’t admit what they don’t know, which continues to hold us up since we are expected to constantly defer to them before moving forward with anything. We have a situation where we have books on backorder for our youth program that starts up again this fall and we are getting tons of angry emails and calls from parents on a daily basis. Yet they have been really nonchalant about dealing with this–and it is the organization’s flagship program! The icing on the cake is finding out from a coworker that the Board President doesn’t trust me to perform certain tasks, though she acts hunky dory and would not give me any feedback when I have asked a few times (kept saying I was doing a “good” job). I have contacted my supervisor and she is on her staff’s side, but there is still a lot of uncertainly going forward and she admitted she might not be able to come back–and I really liked working with her too. I personally am at the end of my rope and can understand why there has been such high staff turnover, especially in my position.

    Obviously, I want to avoid sounding bitter in interviews when stating my reason — i.e. “My boss was such a jerk to me!” But I am still struggling to come up with a good answer that doesn’t make it obvious that I am trying to get out of a toxic workplace. And of course, looking for work when I have not been there a full year yet is going to make it even more obvious to a hiring manager. Plus, the situation is so complicated to sum up in a succinct way (I really had to edit down my summary above).

    Any suggestions?

    1. Cruciatus

      I want to leave my current employer because they are insane and make rules apply to everyone when just 1 or 2 people do something wrong and they don’t pay squat and I have no room for movement. What I said was, “I’m looking for a new opportunity where I can take on more responsibilities that are more aligned with my career goals.” It’s technically all true and I didn’t get grilled beyond that. Good luck!

    2. overeducated and underemployed

      Could you say that your organization is going through some internal organizational changes (about which you’re not free to go into detail) that are changing the direction of your job duties, and you are looking for a new opportunity that is more aligned with your long term career goals?

  34. Boogles

    Looping back to the previous post about migraines, how do you get your manager to stop being pissy about something you can’t control? I mean, I already feel bad enough as it is because I can’t be as dependable as I want to be. Career change to something more flexible?

    1. Katie the Fed

      So vague – can you be more specific? Some things are legally protected – disabilities, religion, etc. But without knowing more I’m not sure.

      1. Boogles

        It basically comes down to the fact that I miss more work than the average worker. In my current job, they don’t like for you to miss more than 3 days a year due to illness. If I have a BAD migraine, one that requires the doctor or the ER, that could keep me down and out for 3 days alone. Every time I miss, we have a talk about being dependable and not putting an undue burden on the team. She also says things like my absences are noticed and she fears when she comes in in the morning and sees a light on her voicemail. I’ve been absent 7 days this year, 5 were migraine related and one was because I took a severe fall and bruised my ribs and pulled a muscle in my back. I try to make up my time when I can, but sometimes, I’m so drained from the migraine it’s all I can do to make it through the rest of the week.

        1. Katie the Fed

          Is your employer big enough that you’re elligible for FMLA? You might want to check on that and see if you can take advantage of intermittent FMLA.

          That would be my first course of action.

          Next, I’d have a frank discussion with her. 3 days a year for illness is kind of crazy (but I’m sick more frequently than average, I think). A single bout of the flu can have you out for a week, and throw in a cold or stomach bug or two and you’re looking at 7-8 days on average.

          But if that’s their expectation, I think you need to talk to her about how she wants you to manage it. Does she need medical documentation? Does it just not matter and you hvae to come in no matter what? In that case I’d start looking for another job if the FMLA thing doesn’t pan out.

          I think your boss is being ridiculous. I was in such a bad accident I was out of work for 5 WEEKS this year. I recognize that not all employers could deal with that, but that’s life.

        2. Dawn

          If that’s her reaction she’s not going to change. She’s basically said that your absences are a serious problem and that you’re seen as not dependable, and regardless of if you think that’s fair or not it’s how you’re being perceived. This is a *huge* problem to your potential advancement at that company and to your continued employment.

          I’d sit down with her and have a very serious talk about your migraines, how they affect your life, and if you’re a good fit for the job knowing that you’ll probably have more absences the longer you work there. It’s a tough conversation, but it has to happen because otherwise she’s just going to get more and more exasperated to the point that you’re going to be fired for it. See if you two can’t come to an agreement on how to proceed before it gets to that point.

        3. Ama

          Well part of it is your employer is completely unreasonable. I don’t have any chronic health issues and I’ve already missed five days this year. I ‘m pretty sure that’s on the low end of sick days for my office, too.

        4. Ad Astra

          I would consider 7 absences a year to be on the high end of normal — more than what some people would use, but not excessive. Are you allotted just 3 sick days each year, or does your manager not want you to use the PTO you’re owed?

          It sounds like your manager is being unreasonable. I would also venture to guess that your office is a bit understaffed, which is why one person’s absence is so widely noticed. How is your actual performance and productivity? If you’re still doing great work, bringing that to your manager’s attention could go a long way.

        5. Boogles

          I do great work and am extremely productive. This company is large. We have a good team and plenty of staff. They couch everything under the umbrella of being “conservative” and my boss especially is an extreme rule follower. For me, I manage the work. If the work is getting done, I don’t care how my team is doing it. We all cover for each other, no big deal. However, my boss gets involved and creates drama where it’s not necessary. I can definitely look at intermittant FMLA, I just wish I didn’t have to and that they could be more understanding. Life happens. People aren’t robots. Thanks for the awesome feedback! I’m feeling much less crappy about the situation!

          1. LQ

            If your boss is an extreme rule follower I’d really look at FMLA. There’s NO reason to not use it. And there are lots of rules especially at big places. At my Big Place they boss only knows it’s allowed and what kind is allowed, they don’t see any paperwork and if they ask they get in big trouble. They don’t get to say anything or harrass people about it at all.

            FMLA is because some bosses aren’t reasonable. If everyone was always super good to other people we wouldn’t need to worry about it. You aren’t doing anything wrong or taking advantage or anything. You have a tool, if it is the correct tool, use it!

        6. Creag an Tuire

          If your boss is getting huffy about 7 (7! And that’s -with- a serious medical condition!) sick days a -year-, then I’m afraid this is an example of “Your Boss Is An Ass And Won’t Change”.

          My only advice is don’t beat yourself on top of this — you are -not- less dependable then the average worker, you really aren’t.

    2. AnotherFed

      Like Katie The Fed says, it’s all about context. If your manager is unhappy with you because of a performance problem (not completing work on time, making too many mistakes, being the office mean girl, etc.), then your manager has the responsibility to set clear expectations and give concrete feedback on what is not meeting those expectations. It’s up to you to take that feedback to heart and work on improving; if your manager isn’t giving good feedback, it’s worth considering whether you take feedback gracefully and professionally and trying to engage your manager to discuss the issues with your performance.

      If your manager is displeased over something that doesn’t appear to be a performance issue, it may be worth it to still approach them to discuss – something like “I’m getting the impression that aren’t pleased with X, Y, Z products/meeting results/attendance/whatever makes sense in your context. What should I do differently to address any concerns moving forward?” and then listen. You might find out that you have a performance problem you didn’t even know about, or that a protected accommodation for you is having unintended consequences for others that can be minimized by changing up something simple (and not getting rid of the accommodation), or just that your manager sucks and you aren’t going to get anywhere if you stay at the current job. Any of that is pretty valuable info, so I’d probably ask!

    3. Anonsie

      In my experience? You can’t. This is built into our culture. You just have to put your foot down and look out for yourself, maybe get FMLA going if that setup will help you.

    4. Mephyle

      It seems she doesn’t get the “not under your control” part. I don’t know whether it is worth trying to talk to her about that.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I worked for a place where two days a year was considered excessive. It’s embedded in the company.
      In the end, you may want to move on because this company is starting to cause you to have more headaches.

  35. I am now a llama

    How much time do you spend on job hunting and sending resumes? I find that I come home so exhausted from being stressed at work and weekends are so busy.

    Please share your tips!

    1. MissLibby

      I only apply to a few jobs a year so it is not really time intensive, but I hear what you are saying about being exhausted at night and busy on the weekends. I generally try to use my lunch hour to work on resumes and applications when I am applying. I am still in work mode then and it is easier for me to focus. If I am home there are too many distractions and I am not in my professional mode, if that makes sense.

    2. some1

      When I was job-hunting I used to peruse jobs on my phone when I had down-time (riding the bus, waiting in line at the store) and email the jobs that looked promising to myself. Then I when I had an hour or longer to devote time to, I would get on the computer and apply to those jobs. I also kept a working template of a cover letter that I could tweak, and kept info that was likely to be asked on apps in a single doc so I didn’t have to go look it up every time (like mailing addresses and phone numbers of old jobs or schools). These steps saved me a good deal of time.

    3. T3k

      I spend about 5-30 mins. a day (not weekends, though occasionally I will look then too). Some days I’m dead tired, but I realized I really need to get out of my current job, so it’s pushed me to spend a small time everyday looking and applying.

    4. overeducated and underemployed

      It is hard! I’ve only been getting out about 3 applications a week, usually 2 on the weekend (average of 1-2 hours per app, but sometimes substantially more if they require special materials) and one in fits and starts during the work week.

  36. Limes

    I previously worked for a nonprofit that – in addition to being dysfunctional – was either lazy or unethical (or both) when it came to donor information. Instead of using a CRM or secure database to maintain donor records (address, phone number, contributions, etc.) they used … a Google doc. Meaning a shareable Excel sheet housed on the internet that pretty much anybody in the office (or anyone who knew an employee well enough to guess their email password) could access. In that spread sheet they kept credit card numbers, which I’m pretty sure is illegal.

    I thought maybe it was a temporary thing, but I got an email solicitation a few weeks ago (guess I’m still on that list) for a campaign. What was in it? A Google Form where you could input your name, address, phone number and credit card for the donation. They added a “don’t worry it’s secure!” message at the bottom, but having worked there I know the data’s just going to a Google doc spread sheet and I know exactly who has access to it. I think it’s unethical at the least to expose people’s data like this … probably illegal. Should I mention this to someone? I already raised the issue when I worked there, is there an entity that monitors this? Or is none of my business?

    1. fposte

      Somebody more familiar with this stuff may chime in, but from what I can see, in the absence of an actual security incident it’s not breaking any laws. What it is, however, is a breach of PCI standards enacted by the card issuers and that the org agreed to when it signed up to accept credit cards. Which subjects them to the possibility of big fines–as well as the risk of bigger liability.

      In general, you have a better chance to fix something like that while you’re still there. You could poke around to see if you could find the Visa/Mastercard police to report them, I suppose; less punitively, you could drop them a note in response to the solicitation saying “Hey, this reminds me that I think we were way out of compliance on this–see what it says we should do on this PCI doc I’ve attached?”

      1. Limes

        I had mentioned it as a concern when I did work there … the Resource Development team failed to see the problem so I don’t think giving them a heads up would work.

        Every other nonprofit I’ve interned or worked for has been exceptionally careful with donor data, which I guess is why this just seems like a huge breach in protocol to me. There’s also ridiculously high turnover in this office and they’re not vigilant at locking people out of their Google accounts when they leave. Which I know from experience.

        1. Observer

          There’s also ridiculously high turnover in this office and they’re not vigilant at locking people out of their Google accounts when they leave. Which I know from experience.

          Now THAT is a major issue. But, it would not be any different if they were using any other CRM. They ALL depend on some level of due diligence on the part of the organization.

          In our organization, there are at least two people with the management password for every cloud based account (in case one of them leaves on short notice), and ALL account access is terminated as soon as someone leaves (with a few key exceptions, for which there always has to be a specific reason.) Otherwise, you’re asking for chaos. But, these folks don’t seem to be great managers.

    2. Dawn

      Not illegal, although I’m not a lawyer. Companies should probably keep stuff like that secure, but there is no law saying they have to (unless they’re a bank or something like that). Hell, look at the US Gov’s OPM breach- EVERYTHING WAS IN PLAINTEXT. Everything. And it was the freakin’ government.

      Let it go, send them an email asking for your information to be removed from the list, and let it go.

    3. Dasha

      OMG their credit card info??? I think you should mention it but I’m not sure to who… I mean put yourself in the donor’s shoes, wouldn’t you want to know if it was your info?

      1. Sunshine Brite

        I know! Is there a board of directors or some other sort of oversight committee that you could write and suggest increasing data security?

        1. Limes

          Don’t remember the Board being very involved and if there is an oversight committee for this sort of thing, I’ve never heard of them. It bugs me because this stuff is VERY easily accessible and I feel bad for the donors who actually are trusting them with their info.

          I wasn’t sure if there was some well known entity or a process to alert auditors about something like this so I thought I’d throw it out to the AAM community, but I guess the best course is to just let it go.

          1. fposte

            I think if you’re notifying, it’s either Visa/Mastercard or the BOD.

            But I really hope they figure this out before somebody gets ripped off.

          2. zora

            well the board technically has a responsibility to be overseeing the practices of the organization, but if this place is as badly organized as you say, no one probably gets that or cares. But I agree with fposte, the merchant services would be the ones with a stake.

    4. T3k

      Highly doubtful it’s illegal, but not a good situation either. If most of the employees work at a particular place, it’s safer to have it stored on the head’s computer where it can only be accessed through an internal network. At my last place, when we took CC#s down, we wrote them onto the customer’s job jacket and then that job jacket was filed away into unlocked cabinets. Not a good solution either but better than it being online where if a hacker gets into one of the employee’s emails, they could access the list.

    5. Observer

      Actually, Google Docs are not that insecure, if they are reasonably set up. Unless the document is set up differently, people need to have a password, not just an email address, to get in.

      What makes you think that you don’t need a password? On the other hand, what makes you think that other CRM do a better job. CRM has been moving into the cloud and some of the most highly regarded CRMs and donor management systems are cloud based. And they all use the same type of security – login and password.

      If they get hacked, though, they could get sued. And I’d be willing to bet that they are not PCI compliant, which adds another layer of liability. Beyond that, how does anyone manage donor information with a couple of spreadsheets?!

      1. fposte

        I don’t think the issue is so much the Google docs as the fact that CC#s aren’t supposed to be stored in plain text, period.

        1. Observer

          100% on that. Actually, I would even question why they are keeping CC numbers – more often than not, it’s not a terribly good idea anyway.

          I think that if Limes wants to kick this upstairs somehow, the two things to focus are on the way the CC #’s are being stored and the fact that no one is being proactive about making sure that account access is being kept up to date. Both are huge red flags. And they are both independent of the system being used to store them.

  37. Calla

    Oof, it’s been a week.

    1. Last week I posted about a coworker who is making 2.5x what the women in his same position (with more experience) are making and how I found out he misled on his resume and (unrelated) actually ran a pick up artist group. WELL, since then, delightfully, I have found a couple of his “pick up artist”-y advice articles. Through another admin, we also found out that ANOTHER former employee at the director-level was doing the same thing. Is there an underground pick up artist ring at my company??

    2. I am expecting updates on 2 jobs today that I interviewed for and it cannot come soon enough. My boss has been brutal. I got chewed out for her calendar next week, even though every single meeting was at her request. I get told (IN WRITING) “Schedule this meeting at this time for 30 minutes,” then scolded for 5 minutes about how I shouldn’t have scheduled it for 30 min because she’s told me she wants everything to be an hour. Other instances this week include:
    — Coworker coordinating an interview for her through me; boss sends coworker a “nasty” email about how she had to reschedule something to do the interview. She had nothing on her calendar for the time of the meeting.
    — Boss and coworker have a weekly meeting, but my boss was traveling 4 out of 5 days this week. Last week, we went over her OOO time, and I asked if I should cancel everything on the days she was traveling. She said yes. Coworker (same as above) gets another mean email about how they didn’t get to have their weekly meeting this week.

    Basically, she NEVER remembers what she asks for, and when she forgets and/or changes her mind, you’re on blast for it. Having it in writing is useless because you don’t have TIME to point that out because she talks so much and so fast. I’m just SO OVER IT this week, I think it’s made so much worse by the fact that I’m waiting to hear back from two jobs that could get me out of here.

    1. Sascha

      1. Do they quack?

      2. I’m sorry. I’ve had those types of people in my both my personal and professional lives, and oof, not fun.

    2. esra

      Oh yikes, I seriously hope one of those jobs pans out.

      I left a job last year with a president much like you describe here. Even if you had hard, written proof she asked for something, it still didn’t matter. Even being a mindreader wouldn’t have pleased her.

      1. Calla

        Yes! As a good admin, I do try to predict certain wants/needs, but I do not have the time or brain power to do that when I’m getting constantly slammed for doing exactly what she asks for.

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      Your point #2 is almost identical to the situation I had with my boss, and why eventually I hit a wall and resigned without another job lined up (they ended up creating a new position in order to keep me, but I realize not everyone is that lucky!).

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      So, basically, her management style is “management by gaslighting”. Lovely.

      1. Calla

        You know, I don’t use the term gaslighting lightly, but it’s funny you say that because just this morning I remarked to a coworker that I was going to start keeping daily screenshots of her calendar (in response to her chewing out coworker because of having to “reschedule” for an interview, when she had no conflict) so I knew I wasn’t the crazy one.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          I realized that technically she’s contradicting herself or giving you contradictory instructions more than telling you that she said something that you know she didn’t (or vice versa), but from your account I have no doubt that if you pushed her she would claim she never told you that, and if you showed her proof, would either accuse you of making it up or claim “you should have known” which directive took precedence. I’ve seen it many times before, and I’m sorry you have to deal with her.

          1. Anonsie

            Ah yes. “You should have known.” The ol’ “I didn’t tell you this, and in fact maybe I told you do the exact opposite of this, but I’m not responsible for my actions. You are responsible for my actions.”

    5. S

      As an admin with an incredibly easy to work with ED, I’m so sorry about this. I hope those two jobs work out for you, and soon!

  38. Steve G

    I wanted to share and get some good interview conversation-starters. I have noticed that a lot of the lists of “top questions to ask in interviews” are too canned to use anymore, and I am also noticing a shift in interview styles as this is the first job hunt where the (at least first round interviewees) are late genx/millennial age. I think younger people want the interview to flow as a conversation, and they aren’t coming with lists of questions for me to keep the conversation going….so it’s no longer about planning a brilliant question to impress the interviewer, and more about keeping the talk flowing so it doesn’t go quiet too long and you lose the momentum.

    So here are my questions. If you have some interview questions to add, please do so! Mine are for jobs in sales operations/analysis BTW:

    1) What are your sales and growth targets? How would I be supporting the growth?
    2) How much customer contact is there in this role? What type of customers are there? How big is the average sale? How long has the typical customer been a customer?
    3) What is your sales structure – does it tend to be through channel partners, or through direct sales people?
    4) How long does it usually take new employees here to start doing “real” work?
    5) Is there a chance to practice VBA/C+/SQL, etc. here, or are most of your computer programs proprietary programs?
    6) Are there any processes waiting to be automated? Is that a priority for you?
    7) Is there a calendar of ongoing work, or is most of it ad hoc?
    8) Where does new work come from – from management down? From coworkers? Or is most of it self-identified work? Is there overlap with other similar roles in the company? If yes, how do you split it up?
    9) If I am working with data, where is the data stored? Will there be ongoing issues with data collection and accuracy? Would I be responsible for that? How many line items are the data sets typically? Are there any data issues I should be aware with, for example, that there might be missing time/date stamps on a regular basis?

    1. Amber Rose

      I don’t like #4. It implies you’re expecting to not do any work for x time after you start, and that you don’t think of training as something to work at.

      Make sure you don’t get so caught up in a premade list of questions that you stop listening and asking things you really want to know.

      1. Steve G

        I’m trying to get a longer list of “premade” questions because I am finding I am interviewing with people who don’t come prepared and/or aren’t particularly talkative! I NEED MORE premade questions!

        1. Dawn

          Wait so you’re the interviewer in this situation and not the interviewee? Why are you coming up with these questions in the first place? It’s not your job to string these people along when they’re interviewing- if they don’t know well enough to come up with questions in the first place then that’s not your fault, it’s theirs.

          1. Steve G

            I am interviewing to get a job. So am I supposed to go to interviews without any questions? I have been on 20 phone screens/calls, and on about 70% of them the person leading the call or interview had 3 or less questions to ask, and only about 5 gave a shpeel on their company, with only about 2 selling their company as a great place to work.

            I can’t sit there and wait for interviewers to think up things to ask if they don’t prep for interviews, so I was asking for questions to ask when the interviewer doesn’t ask any.

            1. Sadsack

              Ah, I think a few of us were confused by what you wrote originally, so thanks for clarifying.

          2. BRR

            But it hurts Steve G to have a super short interview.

            Also I have found that asking more position specific questions reflects really well on you.

        2. Sadsack

          I am confused! I thought you were putting together a list of questions you would ask an interviewer. Are these questions you are going to give people you are interviewing and want them to ask you? Or do you mean that these are questions you would expect them to have so you are planning on addressing each of these items in your conversation without being asked…?

      2. Sadsack

        A better way to phrase it may be, “How long do you expect it to take the new hire to be trained and working independently?”

    2. I am now a llama

      I’m actually looking to get into sales ops, any tips to share from your experience?

      1. Steve G

        I’m sad that no one actually answered my question:-)

        As per getting into sales ops, 1) being advanced in Excel, 2) being advanced in at least one other popular computer program, Salesforce seems to be all the rage today, and 3) some sort of experience working in sales, inside sales, customer service w/ at least some experience upselling or handling sales-related paperwork, or sales support, and expressing a genuine interest in helping sales when you do get interviews

        1. Steve G

          And I should mention that beginning job titles will include Sales Analyst, Sales Operations Specialist/Coordinator/Analyst, Sales Coordinator, Operations Analyst (though this is often a term used specifically in investment banking), Commissions Analyst, Contracts Coordinator…..

      2. YandO

        I was just looking for semi-entry level sales op/client relationship mngmt positions

        it’s a lot of behavioral questions

        Tell us about a time…. Tell us about a client…How did you turn around a rejection?

        Salesforce is the rage, but any other CRM is good too. Make sure to express enthusiasm, a lot of it, for using CRMs. A good story about a CRM works really well.

        I also noticed that efficiency is a big thing, so a story about making this a priority is important.

        In general, story telling for any type of customer facing role is huge. You need to be personable.

        Finally, follow up, follow up, follow up. I cannot emphasize this enough. You cannot do sales ops without showing that you know to respond quickly, write well, and always always say thank you, but never in the same way.

    3. YandO

      I think it is important to remember to ask questions that make sense for a person to answer

      Every interviewer I ask why/how they joined the company, what they like, and what challenges they faced. I then thank them for sharing their story with me when I write my thank you email.

      I always ask questions around the concept of “what do I need to do to be successful and make YOUR job easier? How can I help YOU?”. I word it differently depending on person’s position, but ultimately that’s what I am looking for.

      Sometimes I ask how they handle mistakes and what would be a big/common mistake for someone in my role. I know this may not be the greatest question form their perspective, but it gives me a lot of valuable information.

    4. CoffeeLover

      I think it’s hard to answer your question because the questions you would ask in an interview will be really position and company specific. I mean in my line of work I would never ask any of the ones you’ve listed above. Usually I have a lot of things I’m curious about. I start with one question and then ask follow up questions as they come (I’m a millennial, so maybe this is the flow-style interview you’re talking about). I try to keep the things I’m most curious about (other than benefits/pay) in mind. For example, when interviewing for a consulting firm I asked, “Which industries does the majority of your work come from? Do a lot of your projects involve (some industry related issue where I show off how much I know)? Is there an opportunity to work in X industry?” I also like to ask firm specific questions if I can. A lot of firms want to know you want to work for THEM, so they like this. For example, “You recently acquired Y company; how do you see this impacting the work you do?” I tend to keep my questions very high-level. To be honest, I didn’t like some of your questions because I felt like they were too “in the weeds,” but that may make sense for your job/industry.

    5. Sprocket

      I have not noticed a lack of questions from interviewers lately. Could it be that you were interviewing with inexperienced interviewers or they were just a short screen?

      I do always feel like a really good interview is a conversation versus a Q&A so it comes down to taking a thread running with it to highlight your experiences etc.

    6. Windchime

      I would be thrilled if a candidate came to an interview and asked these types of questions. We interviewed a really sharp young lady the other day, but she had zero questions for us. None. Not even, “What would a typical day look like for someone in this position?” I would expect people to ask questions about hours, flexibility, general duties, what kind of environment would I be working in, who would I report to, what are the training opportunities, etc.

      A really good candidate (that we unanimously loved and hired from another department) asked if it was allowed to listen to music on headphones while she worked. Her old department allowed that, and it was important to her to know whether or not she could keep bringing her headphones. Questions like that tell me she is actually *thinking* about the job and the environment.

    7. voluptuousfire

      Steve G, you’ve been interviewing with start ups mostly, right? I’ve had the same experiences where phone screens are short or stilted/one sided. It’s really quite amazing how many interviews I’ve had where I had to prompt the interviewer to tell me more about the position/company or I walked away not knowing any more about the company and role than I did before the interview. Usually those roles were with people who were not recruiters or experienced interviewers.

  39. Cass

    I’m currently working a part time job, hoping to land a full time at my work (large university.) I may be offered another part time job in a different department with much higher pay and more of the area I want to go into for a full time job. I’d feel crummy leaving for another part time job, but it may be the right thing to do? I’m a bit conflicted.

    (And to add to it, I have an first interview for a FT position at my current work unit next week. Waiting to hear on a decision for the PT job next week.)

    1. Nanc

      Any chance you can work both part-time positions? I did this many years ago at a University and both departments were great about being flexible, including letting me respond to phone calls and emails about each job while at the other (if that makes sense).

      1. Cass

        Unfortunately, no. I believe with the health care restrictions, it would require adding insurance benefits. It’s a bummer

    2. overeducated and underemployed

      I’m in a similar position and I think it depends on whether or not you think the FT position is worth holding out for, with the risk that you’ll stay stuck in the current part time job if you don’t get it. If that seems like too big a risk, definitely take the other part time job.

  40. The Other Dawn

    Well, the news is out that our rock star team member is leaving. The team member whose reaction I worried about went pretty much the way I thought it would: he was surprised she’s leaving, but is really, really worried about the department’s workload. I can understand, as it was a two-person department for a long time and they were working ridiculous hours. It only expanded to 6 in the last year, which includes me (and we still need another!).

    While I worry about the workload also – we have several big, planned projects, and several big, unplanned projects going on, plus all the regular stuff – I think there’s some work PTSD going on there. I just don’t know how to address it or if I even should. He vented a bit the day of the announcement and I let him, because I totally understand his feeling of being overwhelmed, but I just feel like I couldn’t come up with any words that would help how he’s feeling. He left my office and I felt crappy for not saying some magical words that would make it OK. And it doesn’t help that I’m horrible at comforting people.

    The two of us had a planning session with my boss the other day and that seemed to help a bit. We talked about having other departments help us and that we might hire a few more people instead of just the one.

    Any suggestions? Should I just continue to have a positive attitude that we will survive this and model that?

    1. AnotherFed

      Yes. Don’t get sucked into the doom spiral with him! It might help him balance if you stick to pragmatic but positive or at least neutral attitudes, just don’t go too overboard – excessive optimism can be just as hard to handle as crushing negativity.

      The planning thing helps a lot – if there’s a concrete way to get through a rough patch, even if I know going in that the plan requires long hours, it’s still reassuring to see that it’s been thought through and it’s crappy but doable.

      1. Ama

        Yes, I’ve been through the coworker left in the lurch a few times, and when I had a manger who not only had a plan for redistributing the work, but actually followed through with it it was great. Just try not to overpromise a timeline or help that you aren’t absolutely sure you can deliver — I was once handed extra work “until we can hire another full time admin” which got downgraded after six months of stalling to two student workers who worked 20 hours a week total.

        It won’t help in the immediate future, but if he handles himself well during the worst of the crunch and your company is able to give spot bonuses, that always went a *long* way with me in terms of feeling appreciated.

  41. Sascha

    I don’t have a question, just a musing…so I applied for a position at another university in October 2014, and got an auto reject email in May 2015. I never received a phone call or email for an interview, which I know is not a guaranteed thing at all, but I thought I fit the position pretty well…it was asking for 2 years of system admin experience in the exact application that I’ve been system admin-ing for 8 years, at another university. It was like reading my own job description, but with a “manager” title instead of a “specialist”, so I thought I would at least get a phone screen (and I have been doing people management!). Anyway, I just found out the position has been reposted…and it was open for several months before I applied for it last year! It just amuses me as to why this school can’t seem to fill that position. Hiring is weird, y’all.

  42. Amber Rose

    I cried at work on Monday. In front of everyone. D:

    I can still come back from that right?

    The one coworker that I dislike is being fired probably today or maybe Tuesday. My manager took me out for sushi to tell me about it. I feel sad for him. The job is a really bad fit for him and i’ve seen him struggling to keep up and fit in and it just didn’t happen. But as my manager said, you can’t employ people just because they’re nice, you have to employ people because they can do the job.

    Anyways, now I get half his work, plus we’re safety auditing, plus my other miscellaneous projects, so I’m looking at one hell of an August. *sigh*

    1. Dasha

      You can still come back from the crying :) just try to be professional and calm from here on out!

    2. Chorizo

      I cried at work last week when we were told our manager is moving to another department. Our VP was sitting in on the meeting. It was mortifying.

    3. afiendishthingy

      I’m sure it’s field dependent but my personal experience has been if it’s infrequent, doesn’t make it hard for people to give you feedback, not a spectacle (eg loud sobbing rather than a few silent tears), and you’re generally known to be composed and professional, it’s not a huge deal.

      It sounds like this is the first time it’s happened to you, and like you have a good relationship with your manager, so I wouldn’t worry too much. If you wanted to you could talk to or email your manager Monday and say something like “Hey, just so you know I do understand the tough decision you had to make. I’m grieving for Wakeen because he’s a nice person, but I know this is the right thing for the company. It’s going to be a busy month while I’m taking on some of his responsibilities, but I’m up for the challenge and appreciate any guidance you can give me for the transition.”

      For those like me who have lost track of how many times they’ve cried at work over the years, I like to tell my managers and coworkers (ideally not while the tears are flowing) not to worry, it’s often part of processing stressful situations for me, and (if applicable) I still appreciate getting feedback on my work. It still sucks! But it’s not the end of the world. We’re humans, and humans cry sometimes.

      1. Amber Rose

        Oh, man I worded that bad.

        I didn’t cry for jerk face being fired. I cried after a distressing personal phone call… and I totally just sobbed and made a bit of a spectacle of myself. :/

        People were nice about it but it’s still pretty mortifying. In my defense, I did try to cry in the bathroom but I was heard. And then they asked if I was ok which set me off again. Bluh.

        1. afiendishthingy

          oh, oh. I was a little confused by the wording so I took a guess. I think it’s one hundred percent okay to cry about a distressing personal phone call and unless they’re total douchecanoes people aren’t going to think less of you, they’ll just be concerned. Which I can understand can be embarrassing, but it’s really unlikely to change their opinion of you.

        2. Not So NewReader

          You will be okay. It was a moment, that is all. I hope I don’t sound like I am diminishing any of your concerns. A lot of people have hit that emotional brick wall at 90 mph, so there are a lot of people who understand. If they are asking you if you are okay, they, themselves, probably know something about going 90 mph into an emotional brick wall.

          This might sound counter-intuitive but invest in you- get extra rest, drink more water, all those little things that help with stress loads. Weepies, or leaks, can be a reminder to us to fortify- recognize that we are being drained and drained and now we must put something into ourselves. It can be anything, keep it simple, keep it doable.

  43. esra

    Parents who have taken proper (6-12 month) mat/pat leave:

    Did you ever check in with the person covering your leave? I’m entering month 8 of a 12 month contract and haven’t heard a peep from the woman I’m covering, who has been in the position for five years. I wondered if this was normal?

    I’m torn, because I’m honestly not sure if I’d be checking in once a month, or pretending like the office didn’t even exist.

    1. Joie de Vivre

      I’ve never taken leave, but I’ve managed teams where people regularly took 12-18 mths parental leave. Other than social events or coming in with the new baby once or twice, we generally didn’t hear from them until a couple of weeks before their scheduled return date.

    2. schnapps

      Yes, its normal. I had a 12 month maternity leave (yay, Canada) and only dropped by the office twice: once to show off the baby, and once when she was older to have lunch with a couple of coworkers. Same with two subsequent mat leaves in my workgroup.

      1. esra

        Okay, that makes more sense. I’m used to mat/pat leaves (also Canadian), but everywhere else I worked, the person would check in every now and then.

        1. QualityControlFreak

          Heh. When I was on mat leave (US – 8 weeks), the person covering called me several times a week for guidance. That was interesting.

    3. MaryMary

      OldJob was super concerned about leave management, and if you went on leave (mat/pat, medical, unpaid hiatus, whatever) they completely revoked your security and access. You could not access email, you could not log into VPN, you couldn’t even swipe your badge to open the office door. As a result, we hardly ever heard from people on leave until they were ready to come back.

    4. TheLazyB (UK)

      I wasn’t replaced when I was out on mat leave, but if I had been, I wouldn’t have contacted my cover person, just my line manager.

    5. Apollo Warbucks

      In the UK there is a maximum of 10 days that can be worked whilst on maternity leave and there normally saved until near the end of the leave the only person I’ve worked closely with who took maternity saved them until the last two months and worked a couple of days a week.

    6. Anonsie

      When I covered someone’s mat leave, it was like she didn’t exist. No one heard a peep, not even about the baby haha.

  44. RCB

    Hi everyone,

    I was let go this past week from my job. I was completely blindsided by this, there had been no indication up till now (in the form of PIPs or progressive disciplinary action) that there were performance issues. And in fact, what I was told was that I was actually very good at what I was doing, and completed my work accurately and on time. The official reason they gave is that I wasn’t “dynamic” enough and thus not a good fit, but based on some of the comments my direct supervisor made when I asked for clarification on what she considered “dynamic”, I got the sense that she just simply didn’t like me as a person (she refused to give specifics when I said I’d like more clarity to take with me as I move forward with a job search, said she didn’t have time nor the inclination to give me that kind of feedback). She was not always easy to get along with an in retrospect I think perhaps she just realized she didn’t care for me a while back but didn’t really have a concrete justification for terminating me (as I said, she admitted that I did good work, and I was well-liked by my colleagues) so came up with this. So okay, I was pushed out due to a personality conflict. It happens.

    Here’s my question: I was only at this company for 7 months, and it’s a pretty big company, well-known in our industry. Being there for only 7 months looks obviously suspect on a resume. On top of that, given the size and notoriety of the company, I am finding via LinkedIn that many other companies in my industry who are hiring have hiring managers who are connected with the company that just let me go. My concern is, if I apply for these jobs, seeing that I was only with this company for 7 months is going to take me out of the running, and further, if that doesn’t take me out of the running, any hiring manager who wants to find out more about me and is connected with anyone at my former company will call to find out why I was only there for 7 months and potentially hear unflattering things about me.

    So what do I do? Do I just not list this last job on my resume and deal with what will look like a 7-month employment gap? How do I explain that gap? I also spent a lot of time doing contract work for the past few years before landing this last job due to the difficulty of finding work during the recession, and now I really just look like a job-hopper. Am I screwed? How do I move forward and find a new job in these circumstances? Please help! I am so lost.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      It doesn’t sound like a big deal you weren’t fired for anything outrageous, its a shame you were blind sided by it but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Personally I would go with listing the job as a 7 month absence wont look great and you’ll only be ask to explain what you were doing in that time anyway.

      Alison has some advice about talking about why you were fired / left a job with out a new one lined up, but mainly it comes down to talking about it not being the right fit for you, not making any negative comments about the employer and if you can talk about skills that job required but are not needed in the new job you are applying for so much the better.

    2. PontoonPirate

      I have to think through this a bit before I can offer any overall advice, but one thing I would advise is to make sure that on your resume and on LinkedIn you’re indicated that those short-term jobs were contract jobs. I’ve done work on contract and I usually say something like, “Teapot Marketing Analyst (limited contract)” to indicate that it was a contract job without possibility of extension.

      That lessens the perception you have trouble staying in one spot. If, by the nature of the job it’s time-limited, it shouldn’t be looked at as hopping.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        but this was a permanent job, not a job that was intended to be a short term contract.

        1. PontoonPirate

          Right, I’m talking about the previous jobs, to prevent the perception this is another in a line of hopped jobs. You can’t say this job was a contract, but it helps soften the blow if the other jobs have a logical reason for being short-lived.

    3. some1

      It sounds like the company is pretty hooked in your industry/area, so if you get asked in interviews why you left the job, I’d be honest and unemotional. “I was given good performance reviews and feedback, but my supervisor let me go. She told me I wasn’t dynamic enough.” I assume there was a witness to the dynamic comment besides you?

      1. RCB

        Yes, my supervisor’s boss was also in the room. I have a good rapport with him but his job is several levels above mine so whatever information he knows about my performance came from my supervisor.

        Technically I hadn’t had a review yet – this is review time for the company, and I guess this is why she took this opportunity to cut me loose? But I have received lots of positive feedback from colleagues and other staff that I supported, and as I said, there is no documented trail of performance issues (unless my supervisor is shady enough to try to manufacture those after the fact, which I highly doubt – she’s prickly, but not dishonest, I don’t think). I can say truthfully that I got good feedback on my work from colleagues, and that I was told on the way out that I was doing solid work.

      1. RCB

        Thank you, I appreciate it. :)

        Truth be told, now that I’ve had a couple of days to process it, I’m a bit relieved. I did not find her easy to work with or for, and so I think in the long term this is probably the best outcome (rather than prolonging a tense relationship). I’m mostly just at a loss as to how to find a new job in this industry when everyone knows everyone.

        1. Renee

          It’s possible though that those hiring managers know your manager and have seen this kind of thing before. I worked as a temp at a company that had a pretty terrible culture. Two years later, a lot of friends I made there are at a competing company, and are pretty open about the bad atmosphere at the first company. I’d list the job and hope that anyone connected with your prior employer already understood the situation somewhat. You’re in a tough spot, but I’d simply describe it in a neutral way if asked. You were advised that your work was good and your reason for being let go was that you were not “dynamic.” No you don’t know what that means either but perhaps manager did not mesh with you personally. That’s never happened before but these things sometimes happen.

        2. Not So NewReader

          You might find out that everyone knowing everyone works FOR you, not against you.

          Both me and my husband would mention former employers, then we would hear, “Hmmm, now how long did you work there?” We’d answer. “You lasted THAT long with THAT person???”

          In some cases, places make a habit of hiring someone else’s former employees. I know of one manager, locally, that will look extra hard and carefully consider apps from people who have been employed by another well-known business here.

          This may not be as dark as you think. It might take a while to play out but you might find that your former boss has a BIG reputation.

    4. Katie the Fed

      Did you talk to your former supervisor about what kind of reference she’d be willing to give for you? If it was just a personality issue and they like your work, you should be able to arrange a decent reference. She might even have some connections she can link you up with. I removed a contractor from my team but felt he might be a good fit elsewhere and I connected him with companies I thought he’d do well in.

      1. RCB

        I haven’t done that, and based on what I know of her I’m sure that if asked about me she wouldn’t say anything outright negative, but I also don’t think she would be inclined to help me find something new. She seemed pretty eager to get me out the door. The whole conversation was fast – I showed up to work at 8, and was escorted to the elevator by 8:30. I don’t think she’s going to be interested in taking any extra time to help me. I am sure that I could get a colleague to vouch for me, and even if that’s not possible I am very close to my vendors and have already heard from one who is sad that I’m no longer with the company and has offered to be a reference, so I guess that’s something.

    5. Ad Astra

      I have no idea what “dynamic” is supposed to mean when used to describe a person. I would have a hard time not rolling my eyes at someone who told me I wasn’t “dynamic” enough.

      Anyway, I think you’re better off leaving this job on your resume, especially if you did work that you’re proud of and picked up some valuable skills. If they ask why you left your last job, you can explain that it just wasn’t a good fit. The situation isn’t awesome, but I really don’t think you’re screwed.

      1. RCB

        It’s funny, everyone I have told this story to IRL has had the same reaction as you to the term “dynamic”. It’s such a vague term, and then on top of that to have her refuse to clarify what she meant when she said I wasn’t “dynamic” enough is what has me thinking that this is at it’s core a personality conflict. If she has an idea in her head of what a good direct report would be and I didn’t fill it in some nebulous way despite doing good work, then…what else is there to say. This is the first time in my career I have encountered something like this and it has quite thrown me for a loop.

    6. Biff

      I think this might be a good time to pop out the tried-and-true “They decided to focus on X, but I’m more into Y.”
      Dynamic to me means someone who is good at presenting new Big Ideas or roping in reluctant clients, so I think I’d go with something like: “I got very good reviews for my work. However, the company is looking for someone who could do my work and also incorporate more sales and ideas. I’m just not a Big Ideas generator, though I’m great at helping people turn their Big Ideas into the real deal.”

  45. Persephone Mulberry

    I applied for a job today! I have a sneaking suspicion that it will end up not paying enough to make me move, but we’ll see.

    On a related note, I was polishing my resume before submitting it and noticed that I apparently have a thing about August. Every professional job I’ve had since 2001, I’ve left in August. Isn’t that odd?

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

      Mine is October. Apparently I get antsy at the end of summer?

  46. schnapps

    Oh I have been waiting for this thread.

    I’ve mentioned in passing that my direct report manager is a bully. We went through a process where they brought in an external “coach” for her and she had a 4 month period to shape up or ship out. A month in she had done SFA with the program. A week after the one-month follow up meeting where we all called her out on doing SFA (and by “we”, I mean the three of us who brought the complaint, the coach and our department head), she went on medical leave for two months.

    That was a little over two months ago. Yesterday my department head got a note from HR saying the manager is resigning her position with my local government body.

    On the outside, I said, “I hope she’s happy and that she feels she made the best decision for her. I just can’t muster up any sadness that she won’t be returning.” On the inside I was doing the Snoopy happy dance because I was so relieved we don’t have to pick this crap back up in the fall.

    1. The IT Manager

      Ummm … Congrats! I’m glad the situation was resolved in a positive manner.

    2. Not So NewReader

      It’s the best possible outcome. Hopefully she will find something better for herself.

      [I’d be doing a happy dance, also!]

  47. Anie

    You would not believe what happened to me this week. Cue rant:

    New guy started on Tuesday. I wasn’t involved with his interview, but my boss was unexpectedly late that morning so I was stuck with him for a few hours. I have never disliked someone at work so intensely, so immediately.

    He’s in his mid-late 30s, I’d guess. I’m in my late 20s, but look much younger. He’s a former military man with absolutely no respect for women.

    Early on, I broke a nail. I made a side comment to a different co-worker about going to get a bandaid for it to, you know, stop the bleeding. This new guy would NOT let it go. The whole day, all day, I get comments from him, generally in a pouty baby-voice, like, “Aww, are you feeling better? Does your nail still hurt? Today is all about YOU!” I regret not being more firm. Instead I brushed him off, or looked at him like he was crazy, or just said “I’m fine” and changed the subject.

    Here’s the next example of this guy being a douche-bro. I try to be polite. For the most part, when I was training him, I’d say something like, “When you’re done, please put it over here. Thanks,” or “Can you do it this way please? Thank you.” So then, after an hour or two, I said, “Put that here when you’re done.” His response? He slurred, “Yessa masser!” I guess implying that I’m some sort of rude, terrible, slave master? The worst was even though we were around people, no one heard him say it but me! He also said it again later to our (female) boss, but she didn’t hear him either.

    You want to know the real kicker? He made a joke about me having a big rack. Some dude, his first day, made a joke about a female coworker having big boobs TOO HER FACE. I immediately called him on it, but he denied saying it. I think he feels if he says something semi-softly it doesn’t count, like “master” comments? My boss has already put in a recommendation that he be terminated.

    1. LizB

      WOW. I was so relieved to read your last sentence (that your boss is already trying to fire him), because holy crap this guy is incredibly out of line. What a glassbowl.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I know– the whole time I was reading, I was thinking, “REPORT THIS! REPORT THIS!” but then when I got to that, I thought, “Thank goodness!!!”

    2. Sadsack

      Wow! I am glad for you that you manager is handling it now. Why does this guy think it’s ok to act like that? I bet he’ll be shocked when he is fired.

    3. voluptuousfire

      “Oh, I was just kidding her! She’s too sensitive. Women!” –is what this Broseph will say when he’s fired and his comments come back to bite him in the ass.

      Could you imagine what he’d do if he was settled in and comfortable? He’d be a walking sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.

      1. Anie

        I know he’ll say this. In his mind, I’ll be a bitch who can’t take a joke. That is EXACTLY how his worldview works.

        1. Not So NewReader

          “Modern thinking is that no, this is not a joke. Just so you are aware, most people would not consider that funny.”

    4. AVP

      ohmygod! Burn him with fire. He deserves it.

      I don’t even know what I would do in that situation…probably just stand there dumbfounded and come up with a witty reply three days later.

    5. PontoonPirate

      Wow.
      Even though you say people around you didn’t hear it, I think it’s worth documenting in a factual, objective email to your boss all the moments of crass, undiluted, astoundingly awful racist and sexist things he’s said/done.

      1. someone

        +1! definiely document this – your boss might get pushback on terminating someone so quickly, and the documentation will be really critical. be as complete and factual as possible, and don’t be embarrassed by documenting it all – he’s the one that said crazy stuff and acted inappropriately.

    6. Dasha

      Wow, has this guy like never had a normal job where he had to have normal interactions? So inappropriate!

      1. Observer

        I’d love to find out if he really was ex-military, or he lied on his application. I don’t think you can get away with that kind of garbage in the military.

        1. QualityControlFreak

          I’ve known a lot of current and ex-military men (and women) and none of them would ever act like this. I think he’s just a douche.

        2. Charlotte Collins

          Yep. That kind of behavior is insubordination, and they tend to take a dim view of it…

          But he might be ex-military for a reason. In the US military, if you can’t show yourself as promotable, you do not get to renew your enlistment.

        3. zora

          seriously. My friends who were/are military would have been overjoyed to get rid of him, too. UGH!

      1. Anie

        I hope I’ll be able to come back with good news. I’m seeing him again tomorrow (I’ve been out of the office) and I am prepared to be MUCH more firm.

        Apparently his second day (which I was not there for) also did not go well. My boss called me about it. She asked him to do something a bit basic and he started laughing and rolling his eyes. She asked his about his behavior immediately and he was very upfront that he was too good to do that role. I have no idea where his entitlement is coming from, as he saw both myself and our boss doing this task his first day.

        1. LizB

          Well, yeah, but you and your boss are ~women~! He can’t be expected to do ~girly~ ~female~ tasks, now can he? (Ugh ugh ugh, what a waste of space.)

        2. Ad Astra

          How did he manage to hide this kind of disdain for women during the interview process? I’m stunned.

        3. AMG

          Like PontoonPirate said, start documenting now. Are you going to say something to your manager about what he has said?

        4. OriginalYup

          My jaw is on the floor at this whole story.

          It’s like a horrendous bingo game for bad coworkers. You’ve already got arrogant, racist, sexist, and stupid. If he eats someone else’s food tomorrow, you win a prize!

        5. Not So NewReader

          Him: “I am too good for this job.”

          Boss: “You’re right. There’s the door you can leave now and find a job that is good enough for you.”

    7. The Cosmic Avenger

      I’m so happy that management is on to his act. He should take a long walk off of a short pier into shark-infested waters…wearing bacon pants.

      1. The Toxic Avenger

        Yes! Bacon pants! Anie, I’m with Cosmic…it sucks to be stuck with this douchewaffle, but – he is misbehaving and your boss got to see it firsthand. He’ll be gone soon.

    8. Ad Astra

      Oh my god.

      Obviously the big rack thing is the most outrageous, but the part that actually bugs me the most is the broken nail thing. I hate that “Oh, did you break a nail?” is used essentially to mean “Oh, did the lazy, shallow girl find herself mildly inconvenienced?” because breaking a nail actually does hurt, and frequently involves blood. Why don’t men understand that?

    9. someone

      i’ve worked with a lot of former military officers. most of them adjusted after some time to civilian corporate life, mostly having a hard time dealing with the non-straightforward power realities… only one had trouble with women in power, as far as i could tell (they mostly reported to me (a woman) for 6-10 months). i’m really sorry to hear this one has been such a disappointment! how did he even get hired??

    10. Paige Turner

      WHAT THE WTF. I guess the only good thing is that he started off being a sexist, racist ass right away instead of waiting a bit when it might be harder/ more time-consuming to fire him?

  48. Human Services

    Does anyone else work in a direct human/social services role? At my new job, I spent between five and seven hours a day in meetings with clients. I really like my job, and I like spending time directly with clients, but it can be overwhelming/exhausting. And while many clients are nice, a minority are very rude, and that causes me stress. Any tips in general to help take care of myself?

    1. JMegan

      I’m not in a role like this, but a couple of my friends are, and they have to focus a lot on self-care. Not just thinking about it, but prioritizing it, and making it a thing that they do regularly and often.

      Does your workplace have any sort of EAP or support system for its employees? Surely you’re not the only one dealing with this, so I’d like to think that your employers have a plan to help you out.

    2. NicoleK

      I use to work in direct service in the social service sector. Try to take breaks in between client meetings. Even if it’s a 10 minute break. I try to leave the office for a 15 minute walk around the block/building.

    3. afiendishthingy

      I supervise direct human services staff, and I did direct human services and special education work for about five years. Direct support staff have really hard jobs and their pay doesn’t reflect it, so it’s easy to burn out even when you love the work. Are you one on one with the clients, or in a group setting with colleagues around? If you don’t have much contact with other staff, I’d try to find a way to find someone to debrief with who’s familiar with your work, whether it’s a supervisor, a colleague, or talking to a therapist or using your EAP. It’s really helpful to have someone to process with, just make sure you’re not violating client confidentiality. If you’re struggling with a particular client, please TELL YOUR SUPERVISOR sooner rather than later so they can help you figure it out. Unless they’re terrible people they will not think less of you for needing help, they want to be in the loop, and they don’t want you to burn out, because burnt-out employees have absenteeism issues and are much more likely to make big mistakes or do something unethical that’s going to be bad for the clients and/or the agency.

      Be very mindful of your boundaries. Try to avoid sharing too much personal stuff about yourself with your clients – among other reasons it helps you realize that when they’re rude to you, they’re not attacking Real You, they’re frustrated with their own situations and the System and you’re basically a stand in for all that. Unless you’re required to be “on call”, don’t answer calls outside of regular work hours.

      Try really, really hard to keep work at work. Listening to talk radio or podcasts on the commute home or to and from visits helps keep me from obsessing over my client’s problems or the client who treated me rudely. After that debriefing session with your colleague or supervisor, try to objectively take what you learned from a difficult situation to use in the future, and put the rest of it aside. Watch movies, read books, go for walks, make time for yourself.

      Lastly, recognize that you may not want to stay in a direct service role forever. There were a lot of things I loved about doing direct service, but those five years were PLENTY. Having to be “on” with clients all day is absolutely draining, not to mention the abysmal pay. I went to grad school at night and became a BCBA a year ago. Now I supervise home-based services and spend maybe five to seven hours a week with clients instead of 35. It definitely comes with a lot of its own stress, irritation, and risk of burn-out, but I’m so glad to be in this position. So look around and see if there are other positions in your field you could see yourself moving into that may have less client-facing time, and what you’d have to do to work up to them. In the meantime, take care of yourself.

      Good luck! Hope this novel-length comment is helpful. At the very least there are reminders for me of all the advice I don’t always follow :)

      1. Sunshine Brite

        All of this!

        I also try to remind myself that a lot of a time it’s not me, it’s the system. Sometimes the frustrating clients even say that to me as they’re chewing me out for things that are not my fault.

        Let clients know what’s unacceptable. Sometimes they need a model of positive behavior, it really depends on your role and delivery though

        1. afiendishthingy

          Also: recognize that you’re not going to solve all their problems, and for some you won’t solve any, and that is very unlikely to be your fault. Most of the families I work with have so much going against them that if I can make one tiny part of it better that’s a success. Some people aren’t ready to change. I recently said to my supervisor that I was trying to accept the fact that I can’t make things any better for a client in any single home visit, and she responded “No, and sometimes you’ll make things worse.” Sounds depressing but it was comforting for me, just that acknowledgement that I am not in fact Annie Sullivan the Effing Miracle Worker. “Things getting worse” temporarily is often an important part of change, because progress isn’t usually linear.

    4. ModernHypatia

      Librarian, but some jobs I’ve had have been very ‘helping people all the time’ sorts of jobs. Besides the other good tips, one I’ve found really helpful is having a clear routine that separates ‘work’ from ‘home’ – stuff I do on the commute that’s different than work, and I often have my bath right when I get home.

      The separation makes it much easier to leave the complex social dealing with people at work, and helps keep me from going “I could have done X better” all night at home.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I did direct care for years. Everyone here has excellent advice, including realizing that these jobs are probably finite. There will come a time to leave.

      If the rude people are stressing you out, please take a look at your boundaries. Make sure you are setting boundaries at the earliest possible point into the behaviors. Escalation is never good.

      Be consistent about your boundaries. This means never being tired or having an off-day. What I did was target behaviors that I could commit to following up on. For example, screaming FU at me was never, ever acceptable.

      Make sure you know what recourse you have when the client exhibits an undesirable behavior.

      Get together with other people who serve the same client and ask them how things are going and what they are seeing. This is important, don’t skip this step. Some folks have lots and lots of problems. Don’t allow yourself to be working alone on these things, it’s too much for anyone person, talk with other people.

  49. Hlyssande

    I have to give a 20 minutes presentation to my group’s new VP next Wednesday and I’m really struggling with it. He just wants to know what we do day to day and he’s an extremely laid back and awesome guy, but 20 minutes of talking about myself and what I do is seriously daunting.

    I’ve put together powerpoints in groups before for other presentations, but I haven’t done one myself since 2004 and it was only the once. I’ve been completely comfortable giving other presentations and training via conference calls, but this is somehow different.

    I’m sure I will get it done and it will be fine. This is just majorly nerve-wracking and triggering my tendency to procrastinate on things that make me anxious. I have scheduled out time today, Monday, and Tuesday to work on it.

    1. OriginalYup

      If it helps, change “I have to present to the VP” to “I need to explain what we do to a new employee.” Pretend you’re putting something together to help the new Junior Teapot Associate understand what the Global Teapots Division does. It might help you be less nervous, and also approach concepts in way you already feel comfortable talking about.

    2. someone

      i second originalyup’s advice, and would add to think about the various activities you/your group does, organize them into categories, add detail on who the stakeholders are upstream and downstream, and the benefits each provides to the stakeholders. it might help your procrastination ( i have the same for tasks which i think are “really big”) to break down the content in notes first and then build the slides, i.e. make the task less big.

  50. LizB

    Anyone have experience with a non-typical schedule?

    I had an interview yesterday for a position that I think I’d really like. My one hesitation is that the schedule would be Friday-Tuesday 2pm-11pm. I’ve thought a lot about it, made my pros&cons list, and I think I could make it work, but I know it would be a big adjustment. I’ve love to hear from anyone who’s worked these kinds of hours. How did it affect your life? What surprised you about working this kind of schedule? What issues did you run into that you hadn’t anticipated?

    (I also had an interview today for a position with “normal” hours that also went well, but their hiring timeline is much longer, so if I get offered this first position I’m going to have to make a decision on it.)

    1. Anon the Great and Powerful

      I love that type of schedule. Having your “weekend” on Wednesday and Thursday is awesome because nowhere is busy. Small lines at the grocery store, fewer tourists at fun local places, super easy to go to the doctor/dentist/post office/other 9-5 places. Oh and no more rush hour traffic.

      1. LizB

        Yeah, I put that on my “pro” list — never having to scramble to get to the bank or the doctor around your work hours.

    2. MT

      I would look at your social life outside of work. If the majority of events are currently happening during this time frame, it will be an issue. You tell yourself that event time will change due to your schedule, but they prob wont. 2pm to 11pm is a rough schedule.

      1. LizB

        I’ve thought about that, and there really aren’t that many events going on during those hours. I would probably miss out on a few parties, but I’m not a huge partier, and most of my friends would be just as happy to meet up for brunch as for dinner. It would definitely be an adjustment, though.

    3. Anonasaurus Rex

      As long as you don’t have kids or pets that need looking after in the evening (or your significant other is okay with being on their own for the whole evening with them) and you don’t mind watching all your favorite TV shows on demand or off a DVR, it’s not a bad schedule. It gives you tons of free time during the day during the week so you can actually go places like the DMV and the bank that have terrible hours for day shift workers, and the stores are less busy.

      But, my husband did that for 2 months, from when our daughter was 7 to 9 months old. It was horrible. I’d pick up the kid from the sitter, come home from work and basically feel like I never stopped working because there was no one to help me with anything. I was worn out and getting depressed so he had to stop even though it was good pay with the shift diff and the OT he’d inevitably get when they had to stay late a couple nights a week. He’d also still have to do his weekend rotation so sometimes he wouldn’t really be home for a stretch of 6 to 7 days.

      1. LizB

        Thank you for sharing your experience. I don’t have kids or pets, my boyfriend is okay with having evenings to himself, and I watch all my TV on Netflix or the internet anyway. I’ll keep the challenges in mind if I happen to be working this schedule when I start thinking about kids, though.

        1. Anonasaurus Rex

          Then it sounds like it could be a perfect shift for you, and if you get shift diff that’s even better. Just make sure if you ever go off that kind of shift that you factor in the loss of any shift diff.

    4. Gwen

      I worked second shift over a summer while I was in college, and I reallyyyy disliked it. I never properly adjusted to it and always felt like my entire day was wasted. To be fair, it was also a much more physical job than I was used to (I walked almost constantly for the whole shift), so I was always exhausted.

      1. LizB

        That’s a good thing to keep in mind. This job would definitely take a lot of energy, so I’ll have to make sure I get enough sleep.

    5. LCL

      Swing shift can be awesome. Good points are being able to stay up late, sleep in, and run errands and go to the gym and parks without dealing with crowds.
      The bad comes when you have to interact with other people. You have to be very assertive about setting up your appointments and commitments so they don’t interfere with your sleep time.
      The schedule you will be working looks particularly brutal because it is swing shift every weekend and non rotating.
      I think you should take the job and work it for awhile so you can experience it for yourself. Eventually you will get sick of working every weekend, and either work with your company to adjust your schedule or else find another job.

      1. LizB

        Good to know about setting boundaries with people — I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve thought about taking it and then trying to negotiate a switch if I hate it; there’s also some room for growth (they’re going to be adding another middle level of management soon, and said I would be a good candidate for that position), so it may be possible to move around.

    6. AnotherFed

      I love hours like that – I hate hate hate mornings, so it’s nice to be able to sleep in, get any errands dealt with, and then go in to work.

      The downside is that having those hours on weekends mean you’re probably limited to lunch social events with people. It can be a real drag if your spouse/SO is working normal M-F day shift – there’s not much time to overlap.

      1. LizB

        Yeah, the non-overlapping with my boyfriend is the thing I’m most concerned about, but he thinks we can make it work. We mostly saw each other on the weekends for the past two years, but we’ve just moved in together, so I’ll definitely see him in the evenings (he stays up late) and weekend mornings. It’ll be an interesting challenge, that’s for sure!

        1. Arjay

          Tagging onto this, if you guys ever want to go away for a “weekend” or whatever, it sounds like one of you will have to take PTO for whichever days you select. Manageable in many cases, but something to be aware of.

    7. LizB

      …and this just became a much more urgent question, because they just called to offer me the job! :D :D :D :D I have until Monday to look over the benefits package and decide. I’m so excited!

    8. Ordinary Worker

      From my experience (2+ years working 4pm to 12:30am) the biggest adjustment is enjoying your morning and then realizing that you have to go in to work at 2pm. It can make the time off seem very short at times.

      There were days we were enjoying a nice day with the family and then at 3:00 I realized, Oh yea, now I have to go work for 8 hours. It can be a shock even though you know it’s there.

      Sounds from what you’re saying that it could work well for you though!

      1. LizB

        That’s a really good point. You kind of have to rearrange your concept of work hours vs. free hours — I’m so used to work hours in the morning and free hours in the afternoon that this would definitely be a big change.

        1. Ordinary Worker

          Exactly that. Most of us are used to getting up in the morning and heading right to work it’s a shock to reverse that.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            I loved it when I did it while training PT evening employees. I’m a night owl, so it worked for me. And I prefer to do my errands/chores in the morning, anyway. The best part is that you get errands done much more quickly when you are going to businesses during their slow time (it’s pretty much you, retirees, and people with young children out and about). But I definitely agree that you have to prioritize your time so that you can judge when it’s time to leave wherever you are for work. (If I had a lot of errands to run, I made sure I had everything I would need at work with me in case I wasn’t going to get home before work.)

            Also, I highly recommend getting your dinner all ready in the morning/early afternoon to just throw in the oven or microwave when you get home. You will not feel like cooking when you get home. Unless you decide to completely change your sleeping schedule and get up at noon. :) This is possible, but it makes it harder to adjust to a “regular” schedule on your days off. Also, you really want to get your sunlight exposure in before work, as the sun will be down when you get home, and you will miss it!

      2. cardiganed librarian

        Yes, I hate those shifts for that reason! I liked doing them once or twice a week, because I could run errands in the morning, but I never felt like there was time to do much more than run some errands – it wasn’t at all the same as having an evening off. If you’re more of a night owl than me and can adjust your schedule so you have some time off in the evening and can enjoy sleeping in in the morning, it might work better.

    9. AVP

      I had this schedule for awhile when I was freelancing and ended up on a project that needed round-the-clock coverage. I liked it at the time but it did take a toll on my social life – on the other hand, I knew it was a temporary situation so I didn’t mind it.

      The only unexpected con for me was FOOD. I could not figure out a normal eating schedule, the only restaurants open during my “lunch” period were junk, and I had a hard time cooking because I had roommates and making noise super early in the morning seemed rude.

      Unexpected pro was being in the office when no one else was there, so I could just do my work, finish it, and leave, without getting sucked into a mot of meetings or face-time or having someone dump more work on me when I was about to leave. Also, going to a 24-hour gym at 1am after work was awesome.

      1. LizB

        Ooh, good to know. I would definitely be eating dinner at work, but I’ll have to think about how to do other meals. This is a client-facing position, so I won’t be alone in the office, but I’m definitely looking forward to morning gym time! I hate going in the afternoon.

    10. Anx

      I’ve worked similar positions and I wasn’t too thrilled about the hours. It made it very difficult see people as I could never visit them on weekends and they could never visit me.

      Also, weddings, baby showers, funerals become much more difficult to attend.

      It probably won’t be as bad if you’re paid minimum wage or more because you aren’t taking the pay hit that a bartender or server would (where 80% of your weekly pay comes from weekend work, taking a weekend off is almost akin to taking the week off pay wise)

      I have Fridays off now and I love it because it’s awesome. I mean, I would much rather have the hours or be full-time, but if I’m going to be part-time, it’s awesome to have a proper weekend plus a bonus banks-are-open day off.

      1. LizB

        I’m paid a decent wage, and given pretty generous PTO, from the looks of it, so I think if I have a wedding/baby shower/etc. to go to it’ll be okay to take it off. (Also, I’m still young enough that most of my friends aren’t getting married or having babies quite yet. Soon, though, I’m sure!) I think this may be one of those things where you have to start doing it to figure out how you’re really going to react.

        1. Charlotte Collins

          My dad worked nights when I was a kid, so I think schedules like this don’t seem as odd to me. It actually helped with childcare. Both my parents worked, and they didn’t have to worry about daycare (not easily available in my area when I was a kid, anyway), since someone was home during the day in the summers and when a kid had to stay home sick or because school was closed. Also, we had a closer relationship with our father than many of our classmates did.

      2. Anon the Great and Powerful

        “Also, weddings, baby showers, funerals become much more difficult to attend.”

        This can be a good thing! My work schedule has gotten me out of so many social events that I didn’t want to go to.

    11. Ad Astra

      I worked a very similar schedule for about 2.5 years after college. Same days, but the hours were more like 3:30-12:30 or 4-1.

      Advantages
      1. I got really good at fitting my workout in before my shift because it meant I only had to wake up by 10 or 11 a.m.
      2. You can schedule appointments on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so you never have to use PTO for a check-up
      3. I managed to get 8 hours of sleep most nights just by forcing myself to go to bed by 3 a.m.
      4. You’ll be doing stuff like grocery shopping at working out either during most people’s workday or late at night, so you can avoid the crowds.
      5. This schedule is also great if you’re into stuff like golf, where it’s cheaper to do it during the week. Wednesday and Thursday night drink specials tend to be better than Friday and Saturday night specials. Live music venues typically have a lower cover on weeknights. Air travel is less expensive when you leave on a Wednesday.

      Disadvantages
      1. You wind up using a lot of your vacation days on normal Saturday things like weddings, baby showers, beach days with your friends, etc. After a while, I started really resenting this.
      2. You won’t be able to get much done after work, so you’ll have to be disciplined about doing everything before you go in. If you live in a city that has 24-hour grocery stores and pharmacies, you’ll be better off.
      3. Your schedule won’t match most people’s schedules. How big a problem this is depends on what’s happening in your personal life. Will your friends want to hang out on a Wednesday night? Are you ok with not tailgating on Saturdays in the fall? Do you have a spouse or significant other who works 9-5?
      4. Depending on the laws in your area, the liquor store may be closed when you get off work. Parking in popular bar areas will also be a little more challenging if you want to meet your friends out.
      5. Holidays that fall on a Monday will just interrupt your week instead of giving you a 3-day weekend (disregard if this is a job where you work holidays and then take an extra day off to compensate).

      Overall, I liked this schedule, but it stopped working for me when I started planning my wedding and needed to align my scheduled with my fiance’s. Think hard about how your lifestyle would fit into this schedule. And definitely consider the late night convenience and entertainment options in your location. It works better in Chicago than it does in, say, rural Minnesota.

      1. LizB

        Thank you for this comprehensive comment! I had thought of some of these, but other ones I hadn’t come up with. It’s funny that you use Chicago vs. rural MN as your example, because I live in Minneapolis; my closest grocery store is 24-hour, so that won’t be a problem. Hadn’t thought about the liquor stores, though… I’ll have to make sure I go in before my shift, since they close at 8 most evenings!

    12. Anonymousterical

      I’ve worked 1-10p and 2-11p for three years, with my days off being Tuesday and Thursday; went to a traditional schedule for 4 years at another company; and then worked 12-10p for four months then 1p-1a for seven months at yet another company, with my days off rotating to different days every week. And now I’m back to a traditional, 8-5p, weekends off job, very happily.

      It’s nice to have weekdays off to get appointments in (vet, bank, doctor, etc), and it’s nice to have less crowds, but, after a while, for me, I became more and more bitter about missing the world. Because the world is set up to accommodate a traditional schedule. Festivals, fireworks, parades, community events–everything is geared toward a traditional schedule, not a swing shift where you’re at work all afternoon and all night every weekend. I never saw my husband — a little bit here and there in the morning or at night and maybe one day a week was not feasible, even though we thought it would be. I missed out on weddings, cookouts, get-togethers, and Christmas parties — a lot of fun things with friends. And these are all things that happen much, much more often than a dentist visit, a doctor visit, and a vet appointment.

      Congrats on the offer, but go in with your eyes open and complete honesty with yourself. This schedule can really work for some people.

      1. LizB

        This is a good perspective to hear. My boyfriend and I are both very aware that we’re going to need to find ways to spend time together, since it won’t be built into my schedule. I’m definitely going into it from the perspective of, this is going to be a big challenge, and if it doesn’t work for me I can start job searching again. (I haven’t done any job-hopping, so it wouldn’t be a huge deal to bail after 6 months if I really couldn’t handle it, and I think employers would probably understand.) Thank you for sharing!

    13. ModernHypatia

      I worked two sets of weird schedules (1:30-11 M-T, 5:30-11 Sunday, one about 11-8 M-Thurs, and 11-5 Sunday) in the previous year.

      I am not naturally a morning person, so that was great. And being able to do errands and things was also great. But the meal timing was weird, definitely (and it got weird when I tried to do errands) and I also found it had a big impact on the kinds of projects I’d normally do for 2-3 hours after work. In the mornings, even when I had the time, I’d often feel like I didn’t want to pick them up, because I’d have to get ready to go to work in a bit and even though I had about the same amount of time free, it didn’t feel the same.

      What I ended up doing was coming home, having dinner, and then staying up late enough to get that time after (going to bed around 1:30 when I was working until 11), which when I was working until 11 sort of mitigated having much time free time in the morning for things that need to happen when stores/offices were open.

    14. Not So NewReader

      I did a 2-11, M-F for a while. The pay was good, the people were nice and the work was not hard.

      I hated it. The number one reason was because everyone else in my life lived on the other end of the clock. It felt like all I did was sleep/work, sleep/work. I am more introverted than extroverted and at that time, I was more so than I am now. It surprised me to see how much I did not like being unable to see family and friends because of conflicting work schedules.

  51. ZSD

    I’m frustrated at the lack of security at my new job.
    -None of our office doors have locks.
    -There is nothing *in* my office that locks. There’s a filing cabinet that has a lock, but I don’t have the key. So I have nowhere to secure my purse while I’m away from my office.
    -My first paycheck was given to me on paper, yesterday. Since I didn’t want to carry it around the city – or leave it unlocked in my office – I immediately went to my bank to deposit it. They couldn’t take it because the check was post-dated to today! I went back to the head of HR and asked her to lock up the check for me until today, but she said she couldn’t do that because she’d be out today. I told her she should have either had one of her employees give me the check on Friday or have the check dated for 7/30. She said the paychecks have to come from the person in charge of payroll, and they can’t date a check for other than the official payday. I ended up having my husband take the train down to get the check from me and then take it home to our place so that I wouldn’t be dragging it around a dangerous city all day.
    But none of that would have been necessary if there were just something that locked in my office!

    1. Anie

      This sounds like a personal problem. Nothing in my office locks. Heck, I just got back from a meeting and realized I’d left my new iPhone 6 Plus on my desk. Have the people there given you a reason not to trust them?

      Maybe you could invest in a small lock box for your office?

      1. Spiky Plant

        This is what I’m thinking. I’ve never felt the need to lock anything up, and I’m unclear on why you can’t carry a check on your person for a day? Does your office have some kind of rampant theft problem?

    2. Molly

      None of the offices at my company have locking doors, and most people don’t lock their cabinets. Actually about 80% of our work force is in cube farms and nobody locks their cabinets. This has always just seemed normal to me. Do you have a bad problem with theft where you work?

      I would think that just putting your purse and/or the check in a closed file cabinet would be pretty safe, unless you have some reason to believe this office has been experiencing theft. Or maybe there was a big theft problem at your last job? I’m afraid if someone came to me with this concern in our office I think I’d find it a bit weird/security obsessed.

      The only time I ever worry about putting stuff in a drawer at work is when I bring my personal laptop; then I mostly just make sure it’s out of sight. But maybe I’m too *relaxed* about security!

      1. ZSD

        I’m honestly less concerned about my purse and more about paperwork with PII on it. In my first week, they gave me official paperwork to fill out, which of course ended up having my and my husband’s SSNs on it, and then when I went to turn it in, all the HR people were already gone for the day. Of course I didn’t want to leave paperwork with SSNs on it sitting out in an unlocked room, so I ended up taking it home and then bringing it in again the next day, which was a pain.
        Also, my office has no drawers whatsoever. The filing cabinet is the kind with hanging files, not drawers, and my desk has no drawers. So I can’t even stick things out of sight. The HR people don’t seem to understand why it might be nice to have a desk where I didn’t have to keep my pens, scissors, staple remover, Wite-Out, post-its, and paperclips on top of my desk.

        1. Molly

          I suggest the same solution for checks and paper work with personal identity info – tuck it in a file folder and bring it with you. Everybody in my office carries files or notebooks or something to meetings, even lunch, so it would look totally normal.

          For your purse, you might consider swapping to a bag that will accommodate the folder with your personal id info in it. Nothing huge like a beach bag, but just something you can stuff folders in. Carrying that around with you would not look at all out of place in most offices.

        2. Amtelope

          I suggest a desk organizer for your office supplies, a briefcase or file box (locking, if you really want) for papers that you don’t want on public view, and a hook for the underside of your desk so that you can hang your purse out of sight. Really, unless your office has a known problem with theft, that should be all you need.

      2. AnotherFed

        Echoing this – is there a reason to believe that your office has a theft problem? Even if you’re uncomfortable leaving your purse, can you just bring it with you with the check tucked away? Unless you look super uncomfortable, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to be more suspicious that you have a paycheck or other valuables in the purse than they would have been before unless you work at a large company widely known to pay people on Thursdays without direct deposit…

      1. Amtelope

        +1

        That’s hard for me to understand — if by some chance the check were stolen, your employer would stop payment on it and issue you a new one. That would be inconvenient, but not worth worrying excessively over the small chance that a check might be stolen from your purse in your office.

        1. ZSD

          It’s just weird to be carrying around a document worth over $2k. Yes, I wrote, “For Deposit Only,” on the back of it, but still. I’ve lived in this city for less than a month, and in that time, one person has been stabbed to death on the metro, and another was shot to death in a metro parking lot. At least for the stabbing case, it originally started when the eventual murderer tried to rob the victim. This is just a much more dangerous city than I recently moved from, and I don’t like the idea of carrying around something that valuable.

          1. University Girl

            If that’s the case I’d be more comfortable leaving the document at work then taking it home

          2. bridget

            Unless you endorsed it already (which one generally shouldn’t do to a check until the moment of depositing it), it isn’t any more dangerous to carry around than any other piece of paper that may or may not be valuable to some people. You’d need ID to cash or deposit it, and if it was missing before you had that chance, you’d just tell the company to stop payment and issue you a new one. Holding it does not increase your chances of being mugged in the metro.

            I don’t want to discount your fear, but I think you may be overestimating the amount of personal danger you are in, perhaps because you are used to other cities. Unless you live and work in a bad neighborhood of some city with an absurdly high murder rate … two acts of violence in a city in one month is not alarmingly high, honestly. I live in a very safe smallish city and have never felt in any danger, and if there were only two deadly acts of crime in my city in a month, I would think it’s pretty light. Unless you plan to move to Mayberry, one just has to get familiar with which places of the city are unsafe and when, and plan your life accordingly. I know that can be daunting when you are new to an area.

            1. Nashira

              I live in a small Midwestern capital city and we’ve had three shootings this week. Based off that, one might assume it’s dangerous, but… That’s in the news because it’s weird. Not because it’s normal.

          3. Anonsie

            It’s not worth over $2k without your signature and your banking information. Without you, it’s just paper. No one robs people for checks– and that’s why you can send them in the mail, too.

          4. BlueSunday

            I know what city you are referring to. As a local to this city, I’d like to gently suggest that you are over estimating how dangerous this city is. It is a relatively safe city to live in and work in. Like any large city, there are going to be scary incidents, but for the most part, they are few and far between. Frankly, I was shocked by both of those murders, and I think they got a lot of media coverage because things like that don’t happen here. So, to summarize, my advice is, please consider that your reaction may be disproportionate to your actual safety.

          5. zora

            I think you are misunderstanding how checks work. I have carried checks around in my wallet for up to a week before getting a chance to deposit them. Don’t ever write anything in the endorsement area until you are actually at the bank depositing it, but as long as it’s blank, it really is not that easy for just anyone to take the money. And even if someone uses your check to get your routing number and account number, they really can’t do anything with that info except to deposit money INTO your account, and if they want to do that, I’m fine with it. ;o)

      2. Marcela

        Well, I do worry like a crazy person, as my boss would say, about checks. I do not know if they are easy to forge, or how easy is to cancel one, or anything, but my gut feeling is that they are very dangerous, an open door to my bank account :D And the feeling is the same when the check is not mine. It feels like a time bomb, it I wait an extra second to deposit it, it’s going to explode, i.e. the money will disappear. Hehehe, I know I’m weird about it, and I was so happy when ai discovered that in Spain nobody use checks… only to discover that in the US I have to use them because that’s how my landlord wants to get the rent :(

    3. Clever Name

      What about setting up direct deposit so you don’t have to worry about a paper check?

      As to where to keep your purse during the day, what do your female coworkers do? The only office where I locked my door (or even had a door that locked) was when I worked in an airport and my office was accessible to the public. Granted, it was tucked away where I’m sure no passengers ever ventured, but they could technically get up there. So we locked the door when we left.

    4. BRR

      If you can’t do direct deposit could you mobile deposit it?

      I’d see if theft was a big problem in your office. Everywhere I have worked never had locked offices, drawers, or cabinets. I know that’s not representative of everybody’s office but I’d evaluate.

      1. Sophia in the DMV

        Yes, this. If you have a smart phone and bank with a major bank, you can deposit the check via your phone. It’s actually quite simple

    5. Not So NewReader

      Several things:
      If you feel this strongly about it, why not bring in a cabinet that locks?
      Ask people what the deal is on no locks anywhere.
      Get a belt that you can wear under you clothes. Don’t they have ankle wallets, too?

      I hate saying this but a lot of safety boils down to planning, keeping a watchful eye, and looking like you know where you are going, even if you don’t. Be deliberate with each step. Keep your cell handy.

      I grew up in an area that was relatively safe. One night when I was twelve, I caught two guys trying to break into the house. Fortunately, my 135 pound dog had a woof that sounded like a base drum. It went right through you and made your hair stand on end. I learned something about the importance of presence of mind, being cognizant of where you are and what is going on.

      I always say, if I am worried about something I just made a commitment to me to find ways to mitigate that worry. Commit to finding ways to keep yourself safe.

  52. A Minion

    I’m still new to management and, fortunately, I only have one direct report and two with duties that fall within my department so I have partial oversight of them. So far I haven’t had to have any really uncomfortable conversations, but I know that part of managing is sometimes having to confront someone or be very direct. The problem is that I have a serious aversion to conflict and find myself trying to avoid it at all costs. I’ve always been this way and I experience overwhelming anxiety when I even think about having to have a direct conversation that I believe will upset another person or will make them angry at me, etc.
    Has anyone else experienced this level of conflict aversion, (seriously, I’ve been a doormat all my life in my personal life and even in my professional life because I can’t seem to say what’s on my mind unless I’ve been pushed beyond a certain point and by then I can be very emotional), and, if so, what have you done to counteract this when you have to have a very direct or uncomfortable conversation? How do you cope with it, day to day? Do you have any strategies that won’t leave me curled up in the fetal position breathing into a brown paper bag? I really want to be a good manager and I can’t if I let this continue.

    1. Christy

      Do you actually want to be a manager?

      I’m not a manager, but I would probably address the doormat thing in general with a therapist. My anxiety therapist was life-changing. Even this week, when I was feeling some anxiety and was thinking about making an appointment, I instead thought about what she’d tell me to do, and I did that instead. It took about 18 months but it’s been great. I haven’t seen her since April.

    2. Katie the Fed

      Honestly, if you have that strong of an aversion to conflict, you’re in the wrong job. YOu shouldn’t have too much conflict as a manager but there are definitely times you need to just pony up and have a really hard conversation. It’s not fun – I dread it and lose sleep in the lead up, but you’re not doing your job if you avoid conflict or difficult conversations.

      You might want to work with a therapist on this. I think it would help you in life in general. I’m more confident in general since I became a manager – I actually CAN do this! If you don’t think you can get there, I’d recommend you tell your boss you don’t want to manage. It’s better to be self-aware now than to screw up later.

      1. zora

        side note: I love your use of ‘pony up’ and i’m going to steal it. ;o) I’ve been using “woman up” instead of “man up”, but a non-gender version is even better.

      2. afiendishthingy

        Minion, my personal opinion is you should DEFINITELY seek treatment for anxiety, especially if you’re committed remaining a manager. I’ve struggled with it my whole life and, while it’s still a constant in my life, I’m able to function so much better in my personal and professional life thanks to therapy and (sometimes) medication. There’s no cure, but there’s definitely hope of improvement.

        I’ve been in my first management position for a year. My position (not quite social work but similar) also sometimes requires me to have frank conversations with parents about how they may be contributing their children’s challenges, how their house needs to be just a little cleaner when staff are present, how I don’t see their child making progress if the parent doesn’t get counseling for herself. I’m nervous before any of those conversations or any tough conversations with staff. But I agree with Katie the Fed, I am getting more confident in general the more tough conversations I get through at work. It is hard but it’s kind of liberating to say something painful but true, especially when it works and actually helps your employee, your team, your client, whatever. Good luck!

    3. The IT Manager

      I think you can be a good manager despite a natural aversion to conflict. I struggle with that part of management too though not as badly as it sounds you do. I just try to psych myself up by telling myself that the uncomfortable conversation now is better than letting things so. It usually is. Telling them that they’re messing up now gives them a chance to improve before things get so bad that they need to be fired for example.

    4. Billybob

      I didn’t/don’t have that level of anxiety, but I can tell you it does get better with experience. What you can do to feel more comfortable:

      1) Make sure you know the job (all the technical details, not just the managerial tasks.) This way you can tell if the person you’re talking to is trying to string you along.

      2) Make a script, or bullet points with details of supporting evidence, so that you don’t have to memorize everything. Practice it like you would a speech. When the time comes, you probably won’t even look at the paper. And if you do, no one will notice because it’s natural to consult notes during a meeting.

      3) This depends on who it is you need to confront and your actual level of influence in the organization, but my next advice is to not assume that you’ll actually get in a fight. Don’t forget that you are a manager, and that there is power in being right. Once I had to make a speech to my team (mainly targeting one specific guy who was badmouthing me to other people in my organization), I had my speech written out word for word in front of me, I felt like I was shaking and could even hear my voice quavering while I addressed everyone, to tell them that if they have a problem, they bring it to me so that we can resolve it. Well, the guy in question (a former Marine as he always liked to remind us) looked like he was going to die, and didn’t open his mouth for the entire meeting.

      4) Realize that you don’t have to engage in a debate on the spot. Some people are big debaters, and can spin words around you. If they say something you didn’t realize, note it down so that you can think about it without the pressure. Never try to debate them at their level/speed; you’ll probably lose. And again, remember you’re the manager. You don’t have to make a decision on the spot; if you need to revisit, tell that person you will schedule a follow up to discuss. There will be situations where it’s best to respond immediately and ruthlessly, but you can slowly work up to that. Hope this helps!

      Hope this helps!

    5. NicoleK

      Try to find a mentor with management experience in your field. Or pay a consultant to work with you. It was very helpful for me to work with a consultant my first year in management.

    6. Nashira

      Have you considered working with a therapist on better tools for managing your conflict anxiety, so it doesn’t overwhelm you? It can be very helpful.

    7. Not So NewReader

      Agreeing with everyone here.

      OP, if you avoid conflict with your subordinates you will have worse problems than you ever imaged.

      Figure out what it is about conflict that makes you go to extremes to avoid it. It could be that you don’t have the confidence to believe that someone would listen to you. It could be that you do not know what words to use. Maybe you think that any rebuttal you come up with won’t carry any weight.

      FWIW, I don’t think a good manager needs to actually argue that much. People discuss the pros and cons of something- but that is not true arguing. But there are times where managers need to make tough decisions. Are you actually avoiding tough decisions? Don’t answer here, I am just throwing out stuff to think about.

      1. Billybob

        Yes, I definitely agree that making decisions is also very important. It doesn’t even have to be tough ones. If you are too afraid to express what you prefer for day-to-day operations (you don’t even have to be conflict-avoidant to suffer from this. Many people don’t want to take any responsibility in case something doesn’t work out), then no one is going to get anything done either.

  53. Nonnymousie

    More of a vent than a request for advice, but if anyone has any of the latter, I’ll take it.

    A few months ago, Big Boss asks me to put together a write-up on all our organization’s projects and services for prospective clients and partners. She stresses that it should be comprehensive. Okay, sez I, and write the draft. Not comprehensive enough. I get feedback from all the project directors, try to wrangle it into something resembling a coherent document, and send it back for further input. She makes some minimal changes and declares it good to go. I continue to offer her the chance to review customized variations on it we send out. She approves these as well, or just says she doesn’t need to see them.

    Flash forward to this week. Suddenly, Big Boss hates the document. Can’t believe we’ve been sending this out to people. I ask her for feedback on what she wants changed: page limit, cut certain sections, go back to the drawing board? Nope. Apparently I can’t be trusted with it any more. She hands it off to the Chief of Staff, who also declares himself disgusted with it (despite having seen those same earlier versions), and now I’m even being cut out of conversations relating to what we do with it when it’s finalized.

    This isn’t the first time she’s made a 180 degree turnaround in opinion, and I don’t plan to stick around for the next one if I can help it. At this point, I wouldn’t even mind being summarily dismissed, if not for the impact it’d have on my immediate boss. But for the love of the Chicago Manual of Style, I wish she’d at least acknowledge when she’s gone back on her original vision and give me a chance to make it better without having to read her mind to do it.

    1. OriginalYup

      That’s so frustrating. I’ve been in your shoes a lot lately and it often makes me want to scream, “USE YOUR WORDS.”

      I don’t have a lot of advice for handling it other than to wait for the final product to see what they come up with.
      – If it’s pretty close to what you did, you can mentally roll your eyes at them.
      – If it actually is very different and yet pretty good, you can chalk it up to bad management and try to retro-assess what they wanted, so you know for future when they burble about “wrong bad hate you are terrible fix this” that it’s code for “please add more details on technical specs.”
      – If it’s very different and yet very bad, you can reassure yourself you’re perfectly fine because honestly, how you would ever have known to produce this cr@p?

    2. Sammie

      I used to deal with this all the time. It sucks when management only knows what they don’t want—but can’t tell you what they want. The twit I report to now is KING of this.

      Sorry!

  54. Sadsack

    Wow! I am glad for you that you manager is handling it now. Why does this guy think it’s ok to act like that? I bet he’ll be shocked when he is fired.

  55. afiendishthingy

    Managers, want to share firing stories? I fired someone for the first time yesterday. Staff claimed I had always had it in for her (my coworker hired her to work with one of my clients without consulting me, I never would have even given her an interview based on her awful application materials, so it’s true I never thought she was a good fit) and that I “set her up” when I caught her doing Against Policy Thing two days after we wrote her up for doing Against Policy Thing. I known she brought it on herself, and I’m relieved to be able to move on, but it definitely doesn’t feel great.

    I’d especially like to hear how you dealt with emotional reactions, both the terminated employee’s and your own (I was professional in the meeting and said “I’m sorry you feel that way,” but I was a bit of a wreck afterwards).

    1. AVP

      Hmm. I was in somewhat of a similar situation a few years ago although I didn’t do the actual firing. [My boss hired someone to report to me who was flat-out terrible, never would have gotten an interview in a normal company, and was just really unreliable. She also appealed to him under the guise that I’d had it in for her for no reason, was setting her up to fail, etc.]

      Honestly – the best thing that happened was that, after she got fired, time passed. We hired someone great to do her job, and the people around me could see what that position looked like when someone great was doing it. It took some time but I think everyone eventually realized that I hadn’t been exaggerating, particularly when they finally got access to her files and realized that longer-lead projects she had been working on for them were in disastrous states. Six months later, we got a call to be a reference for her and it was discovered that she’d lied about dates on her new application – these things come out eventually.

      As for the emotional reactions – I was thankfully not in the firing meeting. I did feel a lot of guilt, and questioned my role in a lot of what happened – was my conduct really unimpeachable? What can I learn about managing people in the future? What could I have done better? There were definitely lessons I told from that, and I learned a lot about remaining professional every when you’d rather not. Trusting my own judgment but presenting that in the right way for other people to understand. Everyone is different, but I can confront guilt much better if I feel like something good is coming out of it, that I’ll learn something and be better next time. It’s a process that takes time, though, and firing people in any situation takes a lot out of you.

      1. afiendishthingy

        Yes, thanks for this, this does sound similar to my situation and reaction. I do think I did a lot of things right with this employee over the last couple months, and as for the things I could have handled better, those were just training for the next time around.

    2. Boogles

      Discuss it with someone outside of work. Don’t discuss it with any members of your staff. Keep things confidential and eventually the dust will settle. Moving forward, it sounds like you might have to reestablish trust with your staff. I would be extracommunicative and transparent whenever I could and call people out that are doing good work.

      1. afiendishthingy

        Thanks. Luckily the staff morale/trust is not an issue; I supervise staff who work directly in client’s homes; only one or two direct staff is assigned to a case at a time, and she was the only staff currently assigned to this particular client. (There is a little smoothing over to do with the client, but if we find a good replacement she’ll be ok.) So none of my other reports are aware, and I think I have a pretty good relationship with most of them. Nonetheless it is a good reminder to be extra communicative with all my staff and make sure to recognize those who are doing good work.

    3. PhoenixBurn

      As HR, I’ve been part of many terminations and have had to fire people on my own team. It’s never easy. Positive thoughts in your direction!

      It’s ok to be emotional about it as long as you stay professional in the meeting (like you did). I actually do my best to schedule termination meetings (when possible) at the end of the day, so that I have the evening to regroup. They always drain me.

      Just remember – people tend to fire themselves (if management is doing the right thing). If you’ve done everything you can to coach, counsel, write up, etc., and they continue the behaviors – they have fired themselves. A mentor told me that long ago, and told me to always make sure that I felt we’d done right by the person before making the decision to terminate (barring egregious things like theft, violence, etc.), then I could at least go to sleep with a clear conscience, even if I needed a glass of wine to be able to get to sleep!

    4. NoCalHR

      Two suggestions: First, debrief with your manager and/or HR about professionalism in a termination interview. Your description sounds professional to me both in how you dealt with persistent Policy violations, and in how you handled yourself and the employee reaction in the exit interview. That said, the opinion of those closer to the situation and familiar with your organization can validate/coach your behavior. Second, if your organization sponsors an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), reach out to them! They specialize in workplace issues and you find both support and guidance there. I give everyone participating in a termination interview (soon-to-be-Ex-employee, manager, director, etc.) an EAP referral card. Both your manager and HR can talk with you about this, the EAP’s support and feedback is golden!

    5. Liane

      I have never been in a position where I would be doing this. However my dad owned his own business, which wasn’t very big, so was only one who could fire people. He told me many times that firing someone was the worst part of being The Boss, no matter how bad the person’s performance or attitude was. And that it was worse if you actually liked them. He had to let a guy go because of drug addiction, but he never forgot the man.

    6. Not So NewReader

      One thing that I have held on to is that a bad hire must be shown the door for the sake of the group. I cannot keep asking the group to work with Person Impossible indefinitely. I must take a stand and protect the group. In turn, my decision also protects the company, which part of my job to protect the company interests.

      Sounds a bit cold, I think. But I need to think logically like that, because, dang, firing is that hard.

  56. kristinyc

    Have any of you worked as consultants with Guidepoint or GLG or something similar? I was just asked to do this, and they want to know what rate to charge. (I’m in a niche techy/marketing industry – email marketing). I know what I would charge for freelance work where I’m actually doing the projects, but not sure what it should be if I’m just talking to someone on the phone for an hour. Should it be more? I’ve heard a pretty wide range of rates, and really don’t want to undersell myself.

  57. CJ

    I have an interview on Monday at a huge University. I’m excited and nervous at the same time.

    Any tips on interviewing at a University and/or in a Design, Communications, Public Relations role? What will they be looking for and what are they trying to avoid in candidates? Anything specific to the educational realm that is different than general interviewing?

    I’m in a comfortable spot as far as reviewing all of Alison’s “interview” posts, gathering information and my portofolio and rehearsing my answers… just preparing 110% is what calms me down so that’s where I am. TIA!

    1. Sascha

      The only thing I’ve noticed that is different about interviewing in higher education is that they seem to place more emphasis on having a degree, and also they seem to be looking for an interest in overall higher education and an interest in helping students. Even if you don’t interact with students at all in the role, hiring managers seem to appreciate a student-focused mindset.

      Take it with a grain of salt – I’ve been working at universities for 8 years now, but of course every workplace and hiring manager is different. Good luck!

      1. CJ

        Thank you, Sascha!

        I do value higher education and was going to bring that up, but I don’t know if I would have thought to mention something about the students specifically.

        1. Sascha

          I would also say just kind of take your cues from the interviewers. And like with most jobs, they really want to know that you WANT to work in higher ed, because often going into higher ed from corporate is a step down – pay is worse, there’s not as much room for growth, etc. But the trade off is that it’s usually more flexible, slower paced, and can be less stressful. On the flip side of that, it’s often harder to transition out of higher ed into corporate for those exact reasons – so that’s something to consider for long term planning.

          1. CJ

            Luckily for me, the pay is almost exactly the same, but the benefits are somewhat nicer, the job is more in line with 90/10 what I what to do instead of 40/60% right now and (best of all) my commute goes to 30 min max versus 1 hr 15 min.

            The transition out thought is interesting. I think with the role I am pursing, that will not be as much of an issue than it would if I was looking into the management or professorial side of things, but definitely something to consider.

            Thanks again. You’ve been very helpful!!!

            1. Sascha

              A shorter commute is a pay raise in and of itself – I started my career with around an hour commute and I’ve gotten it down to 15 minutes, and I feel so spoiled now. I hope everything goes well and this job works out for you!

    2. idontwanttoliveonthisplanetanymore

      I feel weird right now. I am a receptionist and I think the title is really getting to me. Don’t get me wrong, I get great pay lots of flexibility with hours great benefits too easy of a commute. Really it’s the best paying job I’ve had so far in my short career. I just feel like all the project managers and engineers give me no respect. I guess my job is way easier than theirs but of course their pay is much larger than mine so… Anyways, I would really like some work that uses my training. My training being Public Relations and Marketing. (those were my internships, my BA is in Philosophy). I’ve had plenty office experience and recently, almost on a goof, I applied for a job that I found on linked in. Within hours I was on the phone interview and then then next day I came in for the interview. Today, the day after the interview, I am going over how the interview went and I think I did really well. I mean I know it’s not a given but IF the job is offered to me then I’ll have to make some tough decisions. First, my job currently allows me so much flexibility and my manager and I just talked about receiving a raise. They are really supportive in me growing with the company, but I just feel like the type of job that I want will never be available here. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if they extend the offer to me and what type of benefits the company has.

  58. Too Midwest? Regional Diff @ Work

    How do you view people from other American regions? I am a Midwestern woman working remotely for a DC based company in HR. My boss keeps telling me “oh, that’s your Midwestern niceness” or ” yep, that’s the Midwest for ya.” I’ve worked across the us before, and this is new feedback. What is this Midwestern niceness? Is it a problem, and how should I adapt? I am so curious about how you perceive other regions, and whether this is a thing!

    1. Christy

      Sometimes you can tell. Like, I have a bunch of coworkers in Utah and you can just tell they’re from Utah. But I don’t typically say anything to them about it! It sounds like your boss is being weird about it.

      1. Christy

        It’s more that they’re similar to each other and similar to my former boss, also from Utah. It’s nothing actually about them. I’m realizing how weird it sounds.

      2. bridget

        Ha, I’m a Utahan who is probably oblivious to her Utahan-ness. Unless it’s causing an actual problem with your work (like, if someone from the Midwest is too nice to negotiate strongly in a role that requires it), it just seems weird to mention it all the time. People are different and come from different cultures. It’s rude to fixate on it, and just shows that the speaker is the type of person to buy into (and look to confirm) stereotypes, which is awkward and best.

    2. Anonasaurus Rex

      Your boss is being weird and also buying into stereotypes that really don’t exist. There’s this perception that people from the East Coast are rude (NYC, Boston mostly) and therefore people from areas that have a lot of small towns aren’t. But as someone who has lived in the Midwest her entire 35 year life both in small towns and in larger cities, I have encountered a large amount of bigotry and rudeness over gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. I think it’s just that people in the Midwest are good at being fake nice, or nice in different ways as long as you appear to match their preferences.

      1. MaryMary

        I think Midwesterners are polite, not necessarily nice. ;-) I might not like you or respect you, but if you have knee surgery I’ll stop by and drop off a casserole.

      2. Anonsie

        It’s that the idea of what’s polite is different everywhere, not what people actually think or do.

    3. S

      I’m from California! I have lots of friends from Chicago and I like to joke that Midwestern politeness is a thing, but I’ve never heard it outside a social context where you are already close friends with everyone else, and definitely not when I’m in the workplace.

    4. Anie

      I’m originally from Minnesota. When I first moved to Boston, I would seriously have random strangers tell me I was clearly too nice and obviously from the Midwest and how sweet I was blah blah.

      Boston has broken me though. I am no longer nice to strangers. Or customers. Or people on the phone.

      1. Ad Astra

        East coaster can smell the Midwest on you when you walk into their cities. Even worse if you come from the upper Midwest, because your accent will give you away. I always feel so conspicuous when I go back east.

        1. afiendishthingy

          I grew up in Missouri, went to college in Minnesota, moved to Rhode Island 5 years ago. I was really appalled at first at how unfriendly cashiers were here, but now they seem totally normal. I think Midwesterners tend to come off a little friendlier/warmer than East Coasters, but I also suspect your boss is attributing Midwestern Niceness to you just because she knows you’re fromm the Midwest.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      It doesn’t sound like the boss thinks it’s a problem, so I wouldn’t try to change. And I agree that they’re weird and awkward for mentioning this more than once. Could it be that the boss has a lot invested in her identity as a tough, independent Big City Gal, and so they are using this as a way of reinforcing their own hard-won identity?

      1. Charlotte Collins

        Too bad we don’t have any cities here in the Midwest… Oh, wait. Sorry, I forgot that we do. But I’m too nice to mention them.

    6. Formerly The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

      Midwesterners ARE nice. As a Californian born and raised now living in the Midwest, I sometimes feel like the biggest jerk ever. I try really hard to fake it, but sometimes it just doesn’t convey.
      Like, who stops when entering a highway or interstate??? Midwesterners.
      Maybe not you, Too Midwest? Regional Diff @ Work, but someone living near you totally does this on a regular basis and I’m the one laying on the horn behind them.
      Sorry, had to get that off my chest. ;)

      That being said, I typically rely on accents to know where someone is from not their mannerisms at work.

          1. bridget

            Nooooooooo! It totally messes up the flow of traffic! Incoming traffic shouldn’t brake to merge, they should speed up to existing traffic and zip in, and you shouldn’t brake to let them in, because then it forces them to brake to merge, causing the whole flow to slow down. Most freeways have the space to accommodate all rush hour traffic without a jam, except that unnecessary braking creates an accordion effect and BAM. jammed every day.

            1. Elizabeth West

              I sometimes HAVE to do this, because the damn idiots in the middle lane won’t move over and let me move out of the way, and the idiot in front of me is tootling along wayyyy below the speed limit, oblivious to the fact that someone else may be behind them. There is nowhere for anyone to go if I don’t! See why I hate my commute!?

              1. bridget

                Oh, I’m not saying it *works*, just that it theoretically should if everybody drove just like I do :) The reason why traffic in general is so aggravating is that if everybody approached it the same way (or if we were all in self-driving cars), we could avoid almost all of the problems. It only takes one tootler or brake-merger or slow driver chilling in the left lane to mess it all up, and make it harder for everybody else to do the Good Thing For Traffic.

                Anyway, I’m going to start blaming it on visiting Midwesterners based on the stereotypes I am learning in this thread. :p

      1. S

        My best friend went to college in Chicago and met her Chicago-native boyfriend there, and when he moved out to CA to be with her, he was driving at 50 mph on 65 mph roads with clear traffic. In a city notorious for fast and impatient drivers.

        2 years later, he’s broken the habit, but oh man, did we rib him for that for a while…

        1. MaryMary

          I lived in Chicago for 8 years and then moved back to Ohio. Ohio law enforcement does not approve of my Chicago driving habits (particularly my lead foot).

        2. Charlotte Collins

          OK, that is not typical Chicago driving from my experience. Trust me, drivers there drive plenty fast and aggressively.

      2. hermit crab

        On the other hand, my friend actually got rejected from a job because he didn’t have “California values” — whatever that means!

      3. Not So NewReader

        When I went for driving lessons I was taught never, ever, never stop on an entrance ramp. If there is an accident and I stopped on the ramp it would be MY fault.

        It’s funny. I went to PA a while ago. Went up the entrance ramp and there is a STOP sign! wth.
        If you did that here you would probably get killed by the pile up behind you.

    7. Timothea Horton

      Canadians get this from Americans all the time. You know what – we’re not that nice, it’s just hard for you to tell when we’re being snarky. :). I once tried to explain to an airplane seatmate on a US flight that Canadians were a mixed bunch, just like Americans but it seemed to really upset her. Seriously. I think “move to Canada” was some sort of life escape plan for her and I was ruining it.

    8. Ad Astra

      In my experience, Southerners are friendly, Midwesterners are polite, and Northerners are direct. (Less flattering descriptions would be that Southerners are slow, Midwesterners are pushovers, and Northerners are brusque. It’s a matter of perspective.) That’s if we’re talking in terms of how much a person values certain social niceties like introductions, small talk, holding doors, etc.

      Of course, there are a million exceptions to these generalizations because there’s a lot more to our personalities than what part of the country we come from. Your boss is being weird, and I can’t tell if he’s trying to be complimentary or suggesting that you’re to deferential.

    9. MaryMary

      I’d push back and ask for specifics. Are you being too indirect? Too non-confrontational? Or does your boss think it’s weird that you end emails with “Thanks!”

    10. AnotherAlison

      I just got off the phone with someone in PA and immediately thought of this question! He kind of pissed me off. I was looking for information, and dude was immediately adversarial. First time I’ve ever talked to him. Whatever.

      What’s so bad about being decent to people? Midwesterners for the win. ; )

    11. Charlotte Collins

      Are you the only remote worker? Maybe just the distance is making you seem somehow exotic to your boss… Or is it just in response to normal, everyday politeness, like saying “please” and “thank you”?

      Also, does it seem like this is in response to things he likes, but for some reason feels the need to mention the Midwest?

    12. Sprocket

      Oh I get this a lot too. There’s something about growing up as Midwesterner that born and raised East Coasters see, find endearing, but believe we need to overcome/work around. Typically in my experience these follow situations of “if I have nothing nice to say, I won’t say anything,” or when wanting to give someone more of a chance to “get with it” than impatient east coasters do, or when just being able to easily small talk with truly anyone (particularly to urban east coasters, this is apparently some magic ability that only a Midwesterner could possess)

      Mind you, I’ve now lived as long on the east coast as I did in the Midwest but growing up there has apparently stuck with me more than I always consciously realize.

    13. Too Midwest? Regional Diff @ Work

      Thank you, everyone for your comments. The next time she says this, I am going to ask her for clarification and whether she sees this as having a job impact, so I know to evolve my skills!

  59. Anonasaurus Rex

    I don’t know if any of you remember, but a couple of months ago I was offered an internal job that was half lateral move, half promotion, because a coworker was leaving for another job in another state. Then that coworker because undid everything. He unbought a house, unaccepted the new job offer, and unresigned, staying at our company. This also undid my new job.

    So that all kind of prompted me to start looking for another job. I figured that I might as well since it’s far easier to look for a new one while I have one and can be picky if I want. Well, I had an interview last week and received an offer yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, I’m not inclined to accept it. The money, which is the best they can do – they were very open about the pay range – and it’s not enough to counter the cost of living increase we’d have by moving. I am over qualified for the job as well, though that division is expanding and the hiring manager stressed there would be opportunity for me to move into another role within a year.

    Is it worth it to talk to my boss about this and tell him I have another offer, even if I’m not going to accept it?

    1. Anie

      I don’t think I would. Then you’ll be firmly in their minds as the person with one foot out the door and you’ll definitely not get a future promotion if you stay.

    2. CMT

      Nooooooooo! What if your boss’s reaction is “Okay, go take that other job.” Then you’re SOL.

    3. catsAreCool

      I wouldn’t talk to the boss about another offer, but it’s OK to talk to your boss about things that would make your work life better without having a job offer as leverage.

  60. MrsL

    After 7 months of job searching I finally interviewed for what seems to be a dream position and I could sense how everything just clicked. It’s a really good fit and a great stepping stone in getting my career on the right path. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I am sensing a job offer coming.

    2 things though. I have concerns about the commute. It is 1.5 hours door ot door. Anyone with experience in commuting far for the right job? Is it worth it? I really fear missing out on valuable family time.

    Second thing. Turns out my former employer has worked with who is going to be my new boss. Upon the reference check, he called me up (we had a great working relationship and we still keep in touch) and mentioned how the person had been a real pain to work with and that it basically was the devil in disguise. He just wanted me to get his perspective, but also said that it does not necessary mean that she will be a bad boss or manager. Bur it definitely raised a red flag. I don’t know what to do with this information.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      Is that 45 each way or 1.5 hours each way? 1.5 hours day isn’t that bad but 3 hours is more travalling than I’d want to do

        1. PhoenixBurn

          Ouch. I did this for two years. It’s doable – but very tough, and frequently means sacrificing social life and even something as simple as cooking dinner at night. I was completely exhausted at the end of two years and didn’t realize how much of a difference it had made – until I only had a 1/2 hour commute to work one way, and was able to see how much energy and time that equated to.

          Good luck with whatever you do!

    2. Diddly

      I did just under an hour each way for awhile (50 mins if I was lucky) and it did get tiring especially at winter when it’s just driving constantly in the dark.
      It wasn’t awful, just could be draining, and there always seemed to be slower moving traffic the closer I got to work – grr – nobody else commuted either – or not that far.
      Also depends how you commute I was driving and had previously done similar commutes by bus, but in the bus you could read, nap, daydream – driving not so much. It definitely wears on you, but is manageable- if it’s 1.5 hrs each way by public transport I think I’d be more for it than by car.

      1. MrsL

        I live in New York and the job is in New Jersey. I would use public transport since I do not have a car nor a drivers license. Public transport feels better than spending time in a car. But still, it is a lot of time. Any I would have to weigh in the cost of the commute as well of course.

        On the flip side, the work would be 9-5, but not really rigid, so there is a lot of flexibility on when I start and leave work. And some jobs are actually 9-6. So I might return home approximately the same time as I would in a 9-6 job in the city.

        I feel like this is a hard nut to crack. I would not know what it would be like with the commute, unless I actually done it for some while. That’s why I appreciate the input from everyone here.

        1. the_scientist

          I would not do this type of commute, personally. I am in Toronto and for a time, I commuted downtown from the suburbs surrounding the city, using public transportation. So that would be: drive to train station –> train –> subway–> streetcar/walk, and later car–> train–> subway. Regardless, it was 1.5 to 2 hours each way since the trains going to my hometown left at the most bizarre hours and I’d frequently need to wait 40 minutes for the train. I had decently flexible workplaces, where I could come in a little after 9 or leave before 5 to make my train (plus, almost everyone in the suburbs surrounding Toronto has a 1 hr.plus commute, so employers are generally flexible) and I was miserable after only a few weeks. I stopped doing any hobbies, because my hobby became commuting. It was a struggle to get the bare minimum of anything done (like exercise, housework, packing lunches, grocery shopping) and I was actually living with my parents at the time! So they were shouldering 90% of the housework and meal prep. If I was on my own and had that type of commute, I’d need to hire a housecleaner, and would probably end up eating takeout 80% of the time unless my partner picked up the slack- so that’s something for you to consider. Also, I would think that this type of commute would be completely unsustainable if you had kids that needed to be picked up from childcare at certain times.
          Finally, while, yes, public transport is more relaxing than driving…..it’s not completely stress-free. Here, the transit system is completely overloaded and can’t support the number of daily riders. So you’re dealing with un-airconditioned streetcars in 40 degree heat, frequent delays, malfunctions and other service issues, and packed-to-the-gills trains.
          Anyway, TL;DR, I know there are some relentlessly organized people that do long commutes for years, but I absolutely hated my brief time commuting and now would really try to avoid having a commute longer than about 45 minutes each way.

      2. another IT manager

        This. The year I commuted 55 miles each way DTD was terrible. I was doing ~50 miles on the highway, against traffic, and it was still awful.

        That was also the winter where I spent SO MUCH money on car maintenance and tow trucks (I had the alternator die, the gas line ruptured, and something noisy happened to the brakes over the course of 13 months). F-, would not commute again.

        1. Sammie

          I did 1.5 hours each way (3 total) for a year. It KILLED me. My attitude was lousy–my social life dwindled and my wine consumption doubled. Additionally I spent entire weekends dreading the Monday commute…

          1. Windchime

            I’ve done it for a week at a time and it was soul-sucking. I occasionally have to drive to a city that’s about 20 miles south of here, but it could take over 90 minutes to get there. Which means that the average speed all the way down was about 10 MPH. It was horrible.

    3. Dawn

      A 3 hour round trip commute is going to slowly kill you, even if the job was amazaballs perfect. With someone who knows you and trusts you calling you up telling you that your new boss is going to be a dickbutt, yeahhhhhhhhhh that’s some serious red flag right there.

      That commute is insane tho and totally unsustainable. It’ll sap your will to live very quickly. If you could move closer to your new job, then perhaps I’d say go ahead even with the negative news about your boss, but don’t take the job if you couldn’t move closer.

      (And this is coming from someone in DC so I know a thing or three about insanely stupid long commutes!)

    4. Christy

      I’d really watch out for that boss. Do you totally trust the former coworker’s judgment? If so, I’d probably run unless you really wanted to work this job for a while to move up.

      As to the commute, how many transfers do you have? What’s your usual bedtime? I think getting home at 7:30 in NYC is totally fine and doable. I used to have a 90 minute train commute and I slept the whole way there and hung out or read the whole way home. It was great. Sure, days were long, but it wasn’t really bad time commuting. Now my commute is about 40 miles shorter but still 55 minutes long, with a transfer from bus to train now. 90 minutes won’t kill you. Do you have family that you live with? What about your spouse/partner/kids/schnauzer?

      1. MrsL

        Yes, I trust my former co-worker entirely. It’s hard though, because I had such a great meeting and talk with who would be my new boss and did not get any red flags. Also talked to another employee at the company, and she did not raise any red flags for me.

        With the commute, I would have to walk 15 min to the subway, change lines once and then switch to a bus and lastly walk approximately 5-10 minutes.

        I live with my husband and we have a 1.5 year old. I mostly worry about missing out on family time.

        1. AMG

          a Person can behave differently with different people. Maybe She hates men, so even though she’s out of line, it isn’t your problem to solve. Maybe she doesn’t like introverts, or extroverts, or whatever. Just go see and then you will have more information. It’s a file-this-away type of thing.

          1. MrsL

            That is true. It’s funny though, she really seemed like the type of person that easily gets along with all kinds of people, and she seemed to really welcome different personality types. She seemed to enjoy the mentoring aspects of her job, which is why I got so excited about working for her.

            It does not feel right to speculate to much about what happened between her and my college. It could be a one time thing, where she lost it a little bit. But it definitely created some smoke.

            With this possibly being my first job offer since January though, it is really eating away on me. I want to make a smart decision, but I feel desperation is rising as well.

        2. Christy

          Two transfers sounds rather miserable to me, but I think that’s just because it’s one more than I have now.

          Can you start before 9? Could you do 8-4? That would have you leaving at 6:30 and getting home at 5:30. 5:30 gives you a ton of time at home in the evening while your kid is awake. I am gone 6:30-5 for work and I have basically infinite evening.

          Is your husband closer? Is he a SAHD? I think the family time is fine–you just need to make an effort to actually have family time when you get home. If you husband cooked, you could have concentrated time with child after zoning out and de-stressing on your commute.

          1. MrsL

            I did not feel like the transfers where that big of a deal. But then again, I have only done it once so far.

            I could and would not move closer to the job. My husband on the other hand is super close to his job. It is basically across the street from where we live, so is the daycare. So he will be the one to both leave and pick up for daycare. But I would feel really bad to leave all responsibilities at home to him.

            I guess I probably could leave earlier for work and get home earlier. But that would mean early bedtime as well, and that would be a big adjustment. The whole family is nighttime people.

        3. Lo-lee-ta

          I had a 4 hr round trip commute. 4 hrs out of every day. It was terrible. I really liked my job, but we couldn’t sell our house to move closer. I quit one morning after driving past a horrific accident on the highway. Not to mention, I think my kids, husband and dog weren’t happy with me never being home.

          1. MrsL

            Wow 4 hours! I actually think that if I had a car, I would not be very comfortable driving, because of traffic. It sounds like that accident put perspective into things. And that is what I am trying to do here as well. I want to make sure I thought things through before I take the job (if I get it).

        4. NJ Anon

          Honestly, a 3-hour round trip commute with a toddler would not be something I would do. My commute now is about an hour each way and I am starting to hate it.

    5. MissLibby

      I have been doing a 3 hour round trip commute for almost 7 years. My drive is easy, no traffic, and I have a little bit of flexibility where I can work from home if the weather is bad. It is time away from my family, but has been a trade off that we as family have been willing to make to live on an acreage, not make kids changes schools, and hubby change jobs. I really like my job and get paid well so it works for us.

      I don’t have experience with public transit, but in some ways I think that would be better than driving. At least you could read a book, work on an ipad, etc.

    6. DaBlonde

      I would definitely give some weight to the warning from your former employer.
      If he was concerned enough to call you and warn you about your new boss it is serious.
      I had a former boss try to warn me about the administration at my new employer, I didn’t listen and I regretted it later.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree. Actions speak louder than words. He felt it was important enough to call you. I’d think about this one very carefully.

    7. Aussie academic

      My commute is roughly similar, about an hour 15 into the office and an hour 30-45 (depending on traffic) coming home. I have flexibility about the hours I work, so I start early (leave home 6am, start at 7:15). This reduces the morning commute and as a bonus, I get uninterrupted work time for a bit when I first get in (I’m in an open plan office, which is really annoying at times). I also take public transport (2 buses each way). It would be quicker by car (45-60 mins each way) but parking is really expensive, and I like the time on the bus to check email, read AAM, etc. I don’t find the commute too bad, just need to be organised (eg put dinner in the slow cooker before leaving for work in the morning so don’t have a lot of meal prep in the evening) and schedule as much as possible for the weekend. Often I don’t leave at the 3-4pm you’d think the early start would warrant (more like 5-6pm) and the getting home in the dark/not seeing daylight during the week is the hardest bit, and I try to get some sun on the weekends for my vitamin D levels. I also will IM/email my DH during the day as needed to organise things as he’s still asleep when I leave in the morning. Ultimately for me, it’s worth it – I live in a much cheaper area (houses cost half, literally, here than where I work) and there aren’t any jobs like mine around here. Definitely not for everyone but it can work.

    8. Sunday

      2. Can you have some chat time with potential co-workers if you get an offer or another interview? Perhaps your old boss can give you an idea of what kinds of things were issues for him, and figure out ways to ask about those and other traits with those folks?

      1. 3 hours or more a day of commute time is a lot. An 8 hour workday plus a 1 hour lunch plus a 3 hour commute is 12 hours a day.
      Have you done the commute at rush hour? What are your transportation options if you have to work late/come in early/work weekends? If your spouse is away or unavailable, how would you handle child care, including pick up and drop off? If the need arises, can you get a cab, and if so about what does that cost? Can you make good use of the commute time as it’s public transit? Can you read, nap, whatever? Can you telecommute? What does the commute cost? What does that do to your take home pay? Does the company subsidize public transit costs?

  61. BD

    My manager is thinking about retirement and is doing succession planning. Our organization is set up so that departments generally have a senior vice president who runs the department and a vice president that helps, although sometimes there are people who are vice presidents in other roles (e.g., not necessarily just one per department). My manager is the senior vice president of our department. She had a vice president under her who left the organization a few years ago and hasn’t been replaced, so my department hasn’t had a vice president in a while.

    My manager has been open that she is grooming me and another dude in my department for management/leadership. Great, right? The problem is that this has put me into total Imposter Syndrome mode. I’m convinced that the other dude would be a better manager than me, and that everyone knows that, and that he’s going to get promoted to a vice president and I will not be. I think there is a touch of truth to some of my thoughts—I’m a quieter female and he’s a less-quiet male, and I could easily see people above us thinking he has more of an “executive presence” than I do. (Not necessarily related to our genders as much as to our more gender-stereotypical styles, but I am putting it there for context.) I get stupidly jealous whenever he’s invited to something that I’m not, never mind that I am sometimes invited to things that he is not. And my manager has been making an effort to pull both of us into important meetings.

    Obviously my manager wouldn’t be actively grooming both of us if her plan was to promote him and not do anything with me, although I suppose she could do that if her thought was that he be promoted into the “vacant” VP spot now and that we both move up one when she retires. But our structure isn’t so rigid that they couldn’t theoretically promote both of us to VP now, either. I’m not looking for advice, but more wanted to vent!

    1. Sammie

      Been there. I’ve both been the person that was promoted–and not been the person that was promoted. I have no miracle-working guidance—but mad empathy from me to you! Bonne Chance!

  62. Student

    I’m trying to figure out how to handle something obnoxious at work.

    I recently went on a business trip to perform some work with an external business partner, Tyrion. He’s not a client, exactly – more like a collaborator on a joint project run by two different businesses. He’s in charge of getting the project done, but doesn’t have direct authority over me.

    During this trip, Tyrion asked me (I’m a woman, it may or may not be relevant) if I’d ever been to a strip club and made some speculative comments regarding my personal life. In front of a room full of guys eating lunch. At the time, I brushed it off with no comment, because I didn’t want to show weakness in front of the room full of guys and possibly have them decide to pile on. The location has a reputation for bad behavior towards women, and I didn’t want to spill blood in a shark tank.. I’m angry about it and deeply annoyed – I didn’t like Tyrion before and I certainly don’t like him now. I don’t really know what he was trying to accomplish with this, though. It didn’t come off like he was hitting on me, and if it was an attempt at a power play it sure fell flat. It came out of nowhere, conversation-wise, so I don’t really have any context for why he’d say something like that or what he was thinking.

    I’m trying to decide whether to mention this incident with Tyrion to my company’s project manager for this project. I don’t think our company can really do anything about this guy, though, so I’m not sure what complaining would accomplish. Any thoughts?

    1. Anie

      I think I might say something. In a casual sense, if he’s already the topic. Not this wording, but something along this lines of: “I’m not really feeling Tyrion. He was very inappropriate such and such time. This is what I think of his performance (good or bad), but I’m not appreciating his personality/sense of humor.”

    2. esra

      What kind of relationship do you have with the project manager?

      I’m the type who would mention something like this, it’s valuable information to have going forward about the type of behaviour people can expect with Tyrion.

    3. catsAreCool

      I think I’d say something. Try to be as factual as possible. This seems like the kind of thing that needs some documentation.

      One possible answer when someone’s being obnoxious like he was is saying “Excuse me?” in a tone like you can’t believe your ears and with just a bit of push back to it.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I would say something. It might get results or it might not. But at least you would be on the record with this complaint. If anything else happens, (hope NOT!) you can reference your previous complaint.

  63. Grumpy Editor

    Wednesday’s letter (about editing) made me think of this. I realize that I am being a bit petty, but a former coworker who never made it out of training has a link in his LinkedIn to “some of [his] editorial work.” Which would be a good idea, except for the part where he selected one of the documents that he did an absolute terrible job on, that I spent hours cleaning up for him (so the final version is quite nice), and that we had to credit 30 hours to the customer because he billed an outrageous amount of time. It pisses me off that this condescending butthead is misrepresenting his editing skills with something I heavily edited for him. I know there is nothing I can really do and this is small in the scheme of things, but it feels good to get this off my chest. Anyone have similar stories? (With poetic justice endings?)

    1. Trixie

      Not really but it sounds like you can rest assured knowing he’ll fail any editing rest/project/assessment they give him.

    2. Clever Name

      Yeah. Not cool.

      I had a coworker, let’s call him Tim, who came onboard as a field teapot assessor with several years experience assessing teapots in remote locales. I was just learning teapot assessment, but had several years of experience (plus a masters) in a related field. Initially, I liked Tim. I thought he was a decent guy, and if we weren’t friends, I at least considered us to be friendly at work.

      About a year later I’m asked to lead a functional teapot assessment, involving a team of coworkers, including Tim. Apparently Tim’s ego could not handle this, and he went off at me in a reply-all email, to which he added several managers not on the original email, accusing me of stealing his ideas. I was taken aback.

      As part of this, he also had other complaints about me, one of which was I was making more money than him (recall my equivalent experience plus masters). He managed to get himself a fat raise, among other things. I resigned, but was convinced to stay on under certain conditions. For several years, I keep my head down, doing good work in the meantime.

      In the interim, we hire many new people. Tim gets a reputation for being an obnoxious blowhard in meetings, as well as being generally unhelpful. It also comes to light that when he does his field teapot assessment work, he does not follow procedure, making the company look like we are wasting our clients’ money because he has. Nothing to show for his field efforts.

      I have no idea if there will be any consequences for Tim (other than people knowing what a lazy dickbag he is), but I really feel vindicated.

      1. Windchime

        His name isn’t really Ted, is it? Because he sounds like a guy I used to know. Who may or may not have actually been called Ted.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Thanks all!

      Elizabeth: It’s the second test (of three) that one takes to become a Chartered Financial Analyst (a credential necessary for working in a lot of finance jobs, especially trading – traders, portfolio managers, etc.). The three tests are long (~6 hours each), very difficult (pass rates between 35% – 50%), and offered only once a year, so passing is a Very Big Deal.

  64. Hey you, right there

    I unexpectedly lost my job not long ago, and was promptly offered a part-time, freelance position within my industry (i.e. no benefits). I accepted it and have been there for a few weeks. I’ve now been offered a full-time job (with benefits) in my industry with another organization.

    Is this one of those situations where I’m a jerk for leaving quickly or should I “stick it out” at the part-time gig? As a bit of background, I have about 10 years experience.

    1. Diddly

      I guess it depends how the part time role was offered and how small the industry is. But I think they should understand that full time with benefits trumps freelance part time without.
      Don’t lose a full time job for a part time job is my thinking it seems like you’d just be hurting yourself, and whoever hired you should hopefully understand. It might be pretty awkward but I’d hand in your notice, you can thank them for the opportunity but since you were hired you’ve been offered a full time job with benefits and while you love x y and z about this company you can’t turn down a full time role.

      1. Shannon

        Is the freelance position time based or project based? If it’s time based, just hand in your notice like any other job. If it’s project based, I’d consider staying on until my project was finished or at a good stopping point with detailed directions for the next steps.

        You really can’t lose a full time gig for a part time gig. Sane people understand that.

        1. Hey you, right there

          It’s just part-time freelance. No project or anything. Just a freelance gig.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Then it’s your choice whether you want to go to the full-time job and never hear from these people again or work it out as a side business (provided your full time job doesn’t have any sort of conflict with that). But, if they’ve hired you as part time freelance, you don’t really owe them any loyalty.

            And as someone who has been freelance for over 15 years now, what exactly is part-time freelance? You either freelance or you don’t. You have either committed X hours per week to this client (leaving you free to work for other ones) or some other arrangement. These kind of things usually have an end and if you would prefer a full-time job with benefits, hello ending!

    2. Nanc

      I’m with everyone else, go with the full time position but do whatever you can to make the transition smooth for this part time place. Any possibility you could finish the current work evenings and weekends until they can hire a replacement? Can you recommend someone to step in on short notice?

  65. MaryMary

    Earlier this week, I attended a presentation where whoever created the powerpoint slipped in a Friends reference and called the person in an example Regina Phalange. However, the person actually doing the presentation kept calling the example Regina Fa-longe, and ruined the joke (actually, I found the whole thing pretty funny). Last week, I saw a demo where all the example people were characters from Firefly.

    Do you have a favorite pop culture name or names to slip into work documents?

    1. Sascha

      I use names from Ghost in the Shell. One of my coworkers likes using Twin Peaks. I have to create a lot of fake accounts for application testing and then documentation, and I just prefer seeing Motoko Kusanagi to Student_1.

    2. Cruciatus

      How do you work that reference in and then not know how to pronounce it!? I’m an administrative assistant, but I wrote an email to the students once about something they weren’t doing properly that they needed to hand in to me and used Hermoine and Ron as examples. I would do it all the time if it came up more!

      1. MaryMary

        I’m guessing the person who created the powerpoint is not the person who gave the presenatation.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Heh heh, I like this. I don’t typically do it in work documents, because I don’t get the chance, but I would love it if I could. I do use stuff for examples on my blog. Mostly Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman, X-Files, Sherlock, and occasionally Scooby Doo. The funnier the example, the better. Like for the vocabulary posts, I use the word in a sentence. Here’s one of my favorite ones, from my R post:

      Rhizogenic: produces roots.

      ——The Doctor shook his head sadly. “This poor alien’s rhizogenic properties doomed him. See, he could not get out of the Cyberman’s way and was crushed.”

      ——“Doctor,” Sarah Jane said. “That’s a carrot.”

      ——“Well, so it is. Must have left my glasses in the TARDIS! Hmm…suddenly, I’d like a salad. With extra aliens, if you please!”

      :D

      People here use Game of Thrones a lot, but I don’t watch it, so half the time I have to stop and think, Oh yeah, that’s GoT, when you guys do it.

    4. littlemoose

      I like names from “The Office.” One of my sample documents uses the name Dwight Schrute.

      1. littlemoose

        Also, the presentation creator should have stuck with “Ken Adams” – much easier to pronounce.

    5. Cath in Canada

      I created some sample completed grant application cover sheets for our trainees, because they kept doing it incorrectly. I used Honeydew and Beaker as the professor and grad student in my example, and “The genomics of accident-proneness in laboratory scientists” as the application title.

      One of the postdocs submitted the form with the joke title.

      TWICE.

      He is now known as Dr. Muppet.

      I gave the two senior professors who signed the form a hard time about it – but luckily our grants office found it hilarious!

      Oh, and the forms are now on the intranet as PDFs, not Word documents.

    6. bkanon

      Hah! Yes, I do this. It’s mostly Harry Potter and Friends references, but I’ll switch it up to Wings or Frasier from time to time.

    7. hermit crab

      I use American first ladies. The “approved users” for the test case of my reporting tool are Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

    8. Windchime

      We used to have a bunch of test users in our system named Fred and Wilma Flintstone, Barney and Betty Rubble, etc.

  66. Diddly

    Mild annoyance. I applied a while back for a job I’d love, but the application really stumped me. You put your previous jobs in, asked some questions and put your education in without dates. There was no boring how do you skills and experience meet the role, or why would you be the best person for the job part. I would love this job but felt i couldn’t convey that with the little I got to say – the qs were all related to the job as in things you might do, but without a cover letter type section I don’t really understand how they can judge applicants at all. Also I understand the idea of not putting dates in for education in terms of ageism (which would help me as it’s a graduate role and I graduated years ago) but without indicating how long you spent there, years, and also the institution I felt I like it didn’t make a whole lot of sense…
    Oh well I didn’t see myself likely to get the role anyway.

  67. JessA

    Hello.

    Does anyone have any experience in group interviews? Or has anyone been on the hiring side of this? I have one coming up and I’m rather nervous. (Personally, I generally prefer to have singular interviews where it’s just me and the hiring manager rather than doing a group interview.) Any tips or suggestions?

    Thanks!

    1. Nanc

      Do you mean group interview as in a bunch of interviewees in the room with the interviewer (which is done but why, oh why?!), or as in you’re interviewing with a panel/group of interviewers?

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      Group interview as in several candidates together, group interview as in multiple interviewers, or both?

      I’ve done one group/panel interview (5 candidates and 5 interviewers), and it was actually one of my favorite interview experiences. I liked being able to hear all the other candidate’s answers to the questions and to tweak my planned answers so that they weren’t too similar to someone else’s.

      I’m still mad the universe for giving me the flu on the day of my second interview for that job. :(

    3. Anonymousterical

      I’ve never been part of a multi-interviewee situation, but I recently had an interview with four interviewers (and got the job). I tried to make eye contact with every interviewer during an answer, giving more attention to the interviewer who had asked me the question. I thanked the person who had asked the question, after they said they were satisfied with my answer. I made an effort to not ignore one or two people or give one person more attention than the others. Smile. It really comes down to controlling the room, and a little confidence goes a long way.

  68. S

    Well, since we just had the discussion about dogs in the office earlier this week, I wanted to mention that there is indeed a dog in the office today (she’s visited before) and she is still the sweetest, sleepiest pup I’ve ever seen.

    But in other news, we’re going to be going through some major (temporary) changes in the next couple of months at work, and it’s making me a little nervous. But we won’t know much more until next week. The waiting, it kills…

    1. Katie the Fed

      PUPPIES!!!
      God, I love dogs. Even when my dog is bad I can’t help but brighten up at her silly, stupid smile.

      Go pet that puppy and try not to stress.

      1. S

        There has already been plenty of belly rubs for her (and a sacrifice in the form of a plastic ball I usually keep on my desk) and it’s still early in the morning over here!

  69. Anon Accountant

    My medical leave ends today and Monday is my first day back after 7 weeks off. :( This time off helped me realize just how much I dislike my job. I’m applying for a few jobs yet feel guilty about the possibility of leaving. We are a small company and lost 3 people including me in 2 weeks. 1 quit and 1 was fired. My leave was unexpected due to emergency surgery but everything is going better now.

    I’d tried to negotiate another week of paid time off while on the unpaid leave but was turned down. They’ve hired 2 far less qualified people and paid them considerably more but given me their work to correct. In several cases they’ve given me their work to do because the hires didn’t do it correctly. Negotiating a raise didn’t work due to “budgetary reasons” but I’m “their right hand gal”.

    So I’ve made myself a doormat and shouldn’t feel guilty but do. Why do we feel bad about the possibilities of leaving dysfunctional places? Better the crap we know than the crap we don’t know?

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Nope. If your manager has been around for a while, they know it’s pretty common for people to quit after an extended leave. It’s not a manager’s favorite day when lots of people quit at once, but it’s also just something that happens. Your manager might get upset, but it’s their responsibility to handle their own feeling of frustration.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      Leave and don’t look back, they’ve brought in junior staff and pay them more than you, refused to adjust your pay and wouldn’t even give you an extra week of PTO that tells you all you need to know about how much respect they have got for you.

      1. Anon Accountant

        You are right. They sure haven’t shown respect. :(

        Time to just suck it up, cut my losses and move on.

  70. Nurse? or Not?

    Any nurses out there?

    The company I work for is in health insurance. I work with a LOT of nurses, but I’m not a clinician myself. I’m more of a project manager/member education person. I’m looking for ways to move up, but many of the positions I might want that are higher on the ladder require you to be an RN or BSN. Most of these positions are not practicing nurses in contact with patients or members; they just require a higher degree of clinical knowledge than non-nurses tend to have.

    How crazy would it be to get a nursing degree in order to progress at my company, with no intention of being a practicing nurse at any point in my career? I like the company I work for; I have great relationships at my own and higher levels, and I like my coworkers. I don’t want to leave – but I don’t want to stagnate at the NotaNurse Project Manager level.

    The plan I’m considering is to pick up pre-reqs and get my ADN at a local community college on the cheap, then do an online RN-to-BSN program if I need more credentials. My boss is likely to be flexible with time out for clinical training, and my company reimburses most tuition costs. I’ve always had a strong interest in the medical field, so this is not something I’d be doing ONLY for a better job.

    I also have a physical challenge, in that I’m overweight and worried about a lot of standing up during clinical training. But I think I can get in better shape by the time I reach that level – I have at least a year of prerequisites to take before I would start the ADN.

    Is this just nuts?

    1. Biff

      I like the idea! You might want to get your LPN first, to see if you like the actual work.

    2. Emmie

      Here are the questions I would ask myself:
      * Nursing programs in my area require a full-time clinical rotation, which means you cannot work while doing the clinicals. What do the reputable programs in your area require? Can you, if needed, quit your full time job?
      * Education alone will probably not equate to the higher positions. You may need some practical experience in nursing (i.e. working a part-time or contingent nursing job at least.) Are you willing to do that? Would that work conflict with your current job (i.e. hours, rules about working for hospitals / doctors in your network.)
      * Are there any other ways to achive this goal? Nursing programs have a VERY long wait. Can you do something less competitive like radiography, etc … (I am using radiography as an example b/c that is less competitive in my region.)
      * Are these promotions you really want b/c the work interests you, or is it for another reason (prestige, money, new challenges)? Is there another way to reach that goal?
      * What is it about healthcare that interests you? You have been in the field a long time. Perhaps your skills could lead to promotions in another related sector (hospitals, extended care facilities), or in a different industry (anything really.)
      Good luck!

  71. Paloma Pigeon

    Anyone have suggestions for free web-based project management software for volunteers? I’ve looked at Trello, Asana, and a host of others. I’m leaning toward Trello, because it seems intuitive, but really it’s more about a culture shift from endless email chains and ‘reply alls’ that I’m looking for – plus a place to stash versions of stuff that is easily accessible.

      1. Paloma Pigeon

        Really? Can you elaborate? Just trying it on my own, it seemed okay, but why does it work well with teams/tasks?

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

          It has the live update/cooperative work usability of Google Drive, but is easier to use on the go. The app is really good, it allows you(or anyone) to make the list and then drag tasks as they work on them and complete.
          And it has reminders/alarms/dates to complete. It works for me. I could see some people not liking it, but I like it’s simplicity.

    1. AVP

      I love Trello for organizing things with friends! My company is incorporating Podeo, which I also like, but if you have a lot of volunteers it might not be free? I’m not sure how or if they charge.

    2. Bekx

      We use Asana! At first we all felt a bit overwhelmed with it, but after using it for 6 months I’d say it’s definitely something that helps.

    3. esra

      We use asana and it’s working pretty well. The endless email chain was exactly why we chose it, and so far so good. I like being able to get a quick overview of my task list, but it definitely depends on sorting tasks well, thinking about how subtasks will work, and making sure everyone agrees to the same flow of information.

  72. MrsL

    Anyone else sensing an increase in the pressure on availability “at all times” from employers?

    Me, job hunting, it seems to occur all over, in lots of job ads and it is definitly keeping me from applying to positions.

    Frankly, it annoys me. I want to invest my time and effort in my career, but I am also a mother. Does those two have to be som hard to combine? It is important to me with some sense of respect for life outside work with a toddler at home. When I leave work, I am basically entering my second one. I have a hard time even preparing dinner and could not possibly be checking and following up on emails throughout the night. I would become misearble.

    Just yesterday I went to an interview which clearly mentioned that I would be expected to answer e-mail as late as 11 pm at night. Really? My only time off would be when sleeping?

    How do you approach the “available at all times” in your job search or in your daily job?

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      That is absurd. I mean, we do list that we sometimes require evening or weekend work, but we are also pretty clear that and (a) it’s 8 to 10 evenings and up to 2 weekends per years (b) because of the nature of the job you can normally schedule the dates yourself. I don’t know who – besides maybe young, single, healthy people who are only responsible for caring for themselves – can do this kind of work and stay healthy. The only way I could see this working is if this job paid a LOT – enough that you could hire someone at the last minute to take care of personal things for you task-rabbit style. But obviously you don’t want to turn over all your parenting to someone else 24-7. Also, most of the parents of small children I know go to bed well before 11pm, so that makes it sound even crazier.

      This is not a good strategy for attracting good people, but I wonder if the employer is doing this because they are tired of people asking too much availability-wise, and if they might actually accommodate some reasonable boundaries on your time. I mean, our management team normally answers e-mail in the evening if there is something urgent, but we do ask that you text us so that we don’t have to constantly check e-mail just to see. And the person wanting an answer is supposed to move on to a different manager if they don’t hear from the first one within an hour.

      But I would never take a job like that unless I absolutely had to.

      1. MrsL

        Well, the particular job I mentioned is in a start up and they are hiring for a new position. They are small but growing fast and I felt like they probably would be better off with someone you are describing. It is not paying a lot either. And they would only pay office hours and not the time you spent answering emails late at night. (?!)

        I am no stranger to answer an occasional urgent e-mail. I like to be on top of things and resolve things quickly and in my previous jobs I had no issues with finding a balance between work and life.

        But to now find the “available at all times” requirment in a lot of jobs is really off-putting. I can see how it attracts the “desperate for a job”-types (almost me, I’ve been job searching since January), but I can’t see how someone in a role like that would be happy for long. I would become miserable quickly. Which is why I stay away. But with this increasing requirement, I worry that this is becoming more normalized and that I would have to adjust to that.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          I agree. I don’t know who would want that unless you were desperate or did not have other demands on your time and attention.

    2. Elizabeth West

      That’s ridiculous. I don’t have kids, and I’m not going to be available at all times. Since I’m usually hourly, it’s easy to avoid; most places don’t want to pay overtime. If my boss wanted me to be available at all hours, I’d push back big time—many times, you can’t do anything about whatever it is from home anyway because you have to be on the company intranet or your computer. Lucky for me I don’t have one of those bosses.

  73. Anon Admin For This

    Ok, I need help here y’all….

    I’m in the middle of the interviewing process with THREE companies(seriously, when it rains it pours and when there’s a drought, it’s DRY)
    One sent me an offer yesterday. Here’s the catch. I know the company via my former company and this company is friends with the owner of the old company. So they asked the old owner what I made(didn’t ask me ever) and then asked me for my range. I’ll say my range was 30,000 to 34,000(it wasn’t but I also don’t want to out myself or anything here) and let’s say at OldJob I was making 29,000.
    They offered me 29,000. This new position is basically exactly the same, but this position requires business dress(old was jeans/blouse/sweater generally pretty casual) AND OldJob was in a small town and this new job is in a large city.
    They do have a better PTO accrual, but the health benefits are expensive so I’d likely stay on my husband’s and wouldn’t take advantage of it.
    Am I crazy for being annoyed and slightly offended?
    Top it off with:
    I have an interview on Monday that I feel pretty confident about that I know would pay more than this first offer, AND I am finishing up another interview process with a position that would pay the same as this offer, BUT it would be 100% telecommute. Which obviously would have no commute, no dress code, ect.
    But I only have one offer(I think I’ll get the other two early next week)
    HELP ME I’m lost and confused.

    1. Maria

      Congrats! I had a similar experience a couple weeks ago. I landed 3 interviews in a week. Two were admin jobs at my dream school and one was for an internship in the IT field. I ended up accepting the internship for the experience and I’m at my admin job part time.

      Anyway, if your goal is for more money, ask for it or wait until you have other offers come through. I don’t think you’re crazy for being annoyed or offended, but this isn’t something I’d take offence to. It’s the nature of the recruiting process. You told them a range and they came in slightly under the low end of what you told them you wanted. Maybe if you gave them a higher range, you’d be happier with your offer. Either way, you should definitely wait and see if you get other offers before making a decision. Sounds like you’re not that into the job you were offered anyway. Just wait it out :-)

      Good luck!

    2. Rock

      Ask for time to think things over, and then in a day or two come back and explain your salary range (again) and ask if there’s any way to make it work. AMA has mentioned before it’s not your salary history that matters, it’s what the position is worth and what you’re worth. They offered below what you outlined, and you should 100% negotiate.

      :)
      And hopefully in that time you’ll get something else and can use that as either a plan B, or as negotiating power.

      Do you WANT the job you have an offer for?

    3. BRR

      I’d be more than slightly offended that they sought out your current salary and only matched it. I’m not sure if your range is a lot higher than your current salary but I’d negotiate. It doesn’t sound like there’s a reason to accept the offer.

  74. Malissa

    So last week I had two great interviews. Both with companies I interviewed with last year. Both are supposed to get back to me next week. I’m trying to put it out of my mind and move on.
    Yesterday, after two years, my current job has finally decided I need business cards. Two years! I really tried to convince them otherwise. I really haven’t had much reason to give any out. They are insisting, so this means I’ll end up with a new job right after they order them right?

    1. Windchime

      Yes, but business cards are like six bucks a box, I think, so I wouldn’t worry about it. They are insisting so let them buy them.

  75. Ghost Pepper

    How do you deal with a coworker who does not respect you and with whom you HAVE to work?

    This person does not report to me. We are both director-level positions and our jobs necessarily have to collaborate. However, I find that he pushes back on everything I attempt to do. He flatly disregards my opinions and previously attempted to exclude me from a committee that dealt with my subject-matter expertise. Only after both his boss and my boss tell him he is wrong and I am right will he back down.

    I haven’t experienced this with anyone else in the organization. While sometimes other coworkers have disagreed with certain things I’ve proposed, they back it up with sound reasons. This guy is rigid in his workflows and doesn’t back up his positions with any real reason other than “this is how it should be done.” Reasoning with him doesn’t work.

    I have no say over his work. His work personality makes it very difficult for me to do my work.

    I’m not sure if this makes a difference: He is male, I am female. He is in his fifties, I am in my thirties. He likes to name drop all the large companies he’s worked with in the past and tout his “decades” of experience. Experience is great, but it doesn’t automatically stamp every one of your proposals as The Correct and Only Way.

    The only way I feel like I can get things done is to escalate it to my boss (who is male).

    Any other ideas? Anyone every go through this? How did you resolve it?

    1. Even more anonymous than usual

      I’m in a similar situation, but I don’t think I have it quite as bad as you do. My co-worker is actually technically underneath me (though does not report to me–we have the same manager) and constantly makes it sound as if whatever I’m doing is the “wrong” way to do it, even if there are multiple legitimate ways to do something or if my way is actually better or more efficient. He will constantly butt into random things I’m doing and say “Oh, don’t do that” or “You don