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.”


    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*


      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*


      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*


      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:
      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*


      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 This is also a pretty good article: 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 ( 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. Steve G*

            Wow, yeah, that kind of increase in violence can shake your sense of a lot of stuff.

      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, 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 @ 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.


      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I am not the only person that has cried on the elliptical – that’s comforting!

    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 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*! 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*


        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*


      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*

      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*


        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*


            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.”

    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.