open thread – August 21, 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 :)

{ 1,775 comments… read them below }

    1. TGIF*

      Best: Finishing a tedious unexpected project that’s been looming over me for a couple weeks.

      Worst: Having to work at home Tuesday because of a back problem (although being at home was nice) and then being late today because of yet another bladder infection. Fourth one in four months! Oh, and a very painful interview with an internal candidate. I know, that’s three things.

      1. HR Generalist*

        Best: Feeling like I made some progress with our union and improved our working relationship; we came to agreement on an issue we were previously butting heads on.

        Worst: Large workload, feeling overwhelmed, ready for a vacation but unlikely to have time until October.

      2. Bend & Snap*

        Best: Got a big project funded.

        Worst: I haven’t had a vacation since 2011 because all my vacation goes toward having a sick kid or other obligatory things, and I’m already almost out of vacay for the year.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          I’m almost out, too. I took a week of vacay but then I had doctor’s appointments, I was sick, and I had a couple of interviews. I can’t do any more of those things this year, and it’s only August. :(

      3. Lady Bug*

        I just went through this. 5 utis in 3 months after 10 years without one. Turned out to be a kidney stone (my first). I just had it blasted last week and its getting better, I still get irritation, but its less frequent. While getting diagnosed I started cranberry pills which kept me from getting infections, but didn’t stop the irritation from the stone. At least they kept me off the antibiotics and the other lady infections they were causing. Best of luck!

        1. Save it for Sunday*

          Not work related, Lady Bug, and honestly, I’m not wanting to know about these types of personal issues on this sort of Career forum/blog.

    2. themmases*

      Best: I found out yesterday that I am getting a tuition waiver from my assistantship for the rest of my MS in epidemiology. So all together, I only had to take out loans for one semester and some summer classes of this degree, and the other three semesters I’ve managed to get tuition waivers. Both of my jobs originally didn’t come with tuition, but I stuck with my boss anyway because I liked her, liked the work, and knew she had tried to get me tuition before. My trust in her really paid off! My last job was really terrible, so it feels amazing to basically be given a tuition-sized pay increase.

      Worst: I am doing fieldwork for my other job and it is really dragging. The only places left to visit are, let’s just say, last on the list for a reason. They’re hard to get to, hard to find, and usually there is nothing there. And I’m supposed to replace any locations that don’t work out. I just want to be done!

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Best: I just fixed a personnel issue with a total win/win solution that made everyone happy!

      Worst: My new boss is a micromanager and driving me absolutely insane.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I *think* he’ll get better – he can’t possibly keep up at this pace. But right now it’s driving me nuts. I can manage my own team, kthanxbai

    4. nameless cog in the machine*

      Best: I get to travel overnight for work for the first time next week! I’m excited, even though it will be my first night away from my baby, so that will be hard (both emotionally and in terms of milk logistics).

      Worst: Things have just been an administrative mess this week – I only found out about this trip almost too late, I spent a lot of time on the phone trying to deal with other benefits issues, and communications from higher up about fall and winter work schedules have literally reversed every single day. It does not make me feel like a valued employee, even when directly told so by my boss (who is also annoyed by all these policy reversals and bureaucratic snafus). My week ends tomorrow, I’ve barely slept in days (see: baby), and I am just having trouble making it through.

      1. Coffee, Please*

        Good luck on the logistics of being a nursing mom on an overnight trip! If you need any resources or support on pumping and storing milk, check out

    5. TheExchequer*

      Best: Being treated like the goddess of all things Microsoft for knowing how to make the music play on PowerPoint through the entire presentation rather than just for one slide.

      Worst: The person training me is behaving like the Keeper of the Keys for some vital knowledge, tells me I should be asking questions, then when I go and ask her questions, she tells me to “just look it up”. I’ve only been here three weeks and that is not helpful.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          After you insert the music, you have to go into the animation properties — which you have to do anyway to make it play automatically since the automatic setting is “On Click” — and check off “Play Across Slides” which is going to be in different places depending on version.

      1. MegEB*

        Ugh, the Keeper of the Keys personality. I used to work with an office manager that was the epitome of this (and I suppose, in a way, she WAS). She would get really territorial about certain pieces of information, and it drove everyone crazy.

      2. E*

        Can you try responding with a smile that “thanks, I’ve actually already tried that” and see if she’ll divulge the solution? If it helps, take notes in front of her so that she can see that you don’t want to have to come back and ask the same question again. Or, gather all these questions in a day and ask them at one time.

    6. Ad Astra*

      Best: Getting some big projects out of the way so I can focus on the 18 million one-off assignments I keep getting from everyone and their ferret.

      Worst: I work in one of those offices where everyone wants to know about something before it happens, everyone wants to sign off on internal communication before I post it, everyone wants to be consulted… but everyone’s in endless meetings all day and impossible to reach. Several of my relatively simple projects this week were delayed by hours because I couldn’t get 15 seconds of someone’s time.

    7. NickD*

      Worst and best are combined. Found out the federal and state agencies that oversee my local program are fed up to their ears with my boss being uncooperative, argumentative, and plain just blowing them off (a high-ish employee of the state agency passed on the information as I’m working to improve our program) It’s the worst because our agency is a joke at best. It’s the best because I at least feel like I haven’t been off base about my feelings on our program/the way my boss goes about implementing things.

      1. Managing Tricky*

        If you have the ear of decision makers (Are they coming to you? Is your funding in danger?)
        Is there a good AA or EA, that you can bring up from another department that knows the lay of the land? Filter work and communication through this person/use the assistant as a buffer to get things done/smooth over ruffled feathers. Can you hire a temporary AA or EA? Present having an admin as a perk or as a status symbol?

        Might be worth the cost, while the company figures out a long term solution or send this person to EI or Business Etiquette training for a two-day seminar.
        Good Luck with that.

        Sticky as you are not their boss.
        Resume up to date?

    8. Oatmeal*

      Best: there’s very little work to do right now, so I can take advantage of my flexible hours and spend less time in the office.

      Worst: I am completely disengaged and feel useless when I am not being used to my full capacity.

      1. Red*

        I’ve felt the same. The worst part is that a prolonged period of disuse actually has left me burned out. There were other contributing factors (lack of control over my work is a big one), but now I just lack the energy, motivation, and focus to exceed now that I am suddenly swamped with work.

        The best thing is that I am preparing to resign at the end of the year to pursue a full time writing career.

        1. cuppa*

          OMG! I thought I was the only one? Who gets burned out from not having enough to do? It’s affecting my personal life, too. I get home and have no motivation for housework.

          1. Oatmeal*

            I was surprised to find this out about myself – I really do my best work when there are tons of deadlines and a high volume of things to do. My brain has two work modes and when things get slow it quickly switches from “on” to “off”.

            …and I also hear you on it affecting your motivation to do housework too. My house is a wreck right now.

          2. Violet Rose*

            You are definitely not the only one! I know that when I, at least, get used to this pattern of “ho hum, nothing to do”, I have trouble scrounging up the motivation to do anything at all – which creates a feedback loop of lethargy which is difficult to break.

            1. meggers*

              I also call that “meggers law of inertia” – a meggers not in motion tends to stay not in motion, often even if acted upon.

          3. Red*

            Yeah, a key symptom of burnout is that it also effects your life outside of the task/role you’re burned out of. I completely sympathize. It’s been hard to work on writing, which is something I have a passion for; even harder to take care of the duller but important things like cleaning… Ugh. Of course, that makes a negative feedback loop too. I’ve been working hard to police myself there. My partner has been understanding and helpful, and watching my burnout progress has made him come around to supporting me becoming self-employed.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ditto, for both best and worst. I love the relaxed pace, but I feel more useful and appreciated when I have more to do.

    9. cuppa*

      Best: One of my great staff members is moving on to something bigger and better. I’m sad, but I’m really proud of her.
      Worst: A snarky e-mail from my manager that makes me feel unappreciated and like a child. :(

    10. Sascha*

      Best: free breakfast food, bacon included, at work.

      Worst: My manager asked for some graphic design work 2 days before an event that has been scheduled for weeks. 1) Though I used to do graphic design, it’s not part of my job now – like way outside the scope of this position – but I’m pretty much the only person in the department right now who knows how to use Photoshop 2) 2 days is not sufficient notice for me to pull together polished-looking marketing materials, or at least what I consider polished-looking.

      Overall not too bad, but it raises my design hackles when non-designer people are like, just throw something together! how hard can it be!! (see also: My teenage niece/nephew has Paint and could do that.)

      1. T3k*

        Ugh, I hate when people are like that, and if I had a dollar for every time a customer or stranger told me it was “easy work” my student loans would probably be halfway paid for.

        I’m a graphic designer but I work for a printing business, so we get some artwork that comes in from the outside that we have to make print ready. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone be all “here’s my design!” and they submit a low quality picture when I need a vector format, or they submit a vector format but you can tell they don’t know how to really use the program because when I ask them to outline the fonts so we can use the file they go “…outline? What’s that?”

      2. Clever Name*

        “My teenage niece/nephew has Paint and could do that.”

        “Great! Then have them do it!”

      3. Anony-moose*


        I’m not a graphic designer. I took a graphic design class in high school. I’ve used photoshop and indesign under supervision from ACTUALLY designers. But I have a halfway decent eye and can bluster through Publisher.

        Which means I’m the graphic designer for our organization. And I’ve spent three days on a project that is literally sucking the life out of me.


    11. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      Best: It’s Friday!

      Worst: We just found out that despite not being entirely done with a change from one system to another, we’re being forced to do so to yet another system. The higher-ups have known this was happening for months and didn’t say anything. And yet we’re supposed to be the people who know the systems inside and out, we’re the people OTHER people are supposed to go to with questions. And we haven’t had a chance to even SEE the new system. There’s literal concern for jobs now, since the last change over was awful and we lost a lot of clients over it and we will have no voice in this upcoming change, so we fully expect to lose a bunch more clients yet again.

    12. Nashira*

      Best: I am now up to two stretch positions I’ve applied for, and it’s really galvanizing me to finish studying for a couple of credentials. I’m not sure I’ll get any bites but applying is a big step for me.

      Worst: My boss has been out all week because her adult kid almost died. We’re all scared for them.

    13. Shell*

      Best: that it’s almost over? Oh, and I have some superb coworkers who save my neck with a smile. “No worries, we’re a team” was said more than once. I should bring them some cookies.

      Worst: due to drama in my personal life and not a lot of sleep, this week at work has been an endless stream of “How many small, easily-preventable, dumb mistakes can Shell make in a five-minute span?!” I was this close to facepalming a hole right through my own head on Wednesday.

      Going to go do some retail therapy at the two-dollar store this weekend. Sigh.

    14. LBK*

      Worst: Got a last-minute request to complete a huge report yesterday that I hadn’t even started since I thought I had more time to do it, and naturally the system I needed to pull the data was being a PITA since nothing ever works when you need it ASAP!

      Best: Still managed to finish every yesterday as requested and the requester was extremely grateful, which is great since he’s one of our higher ups in the sales division and coming through on this project will give me a ton of visibility.

    15. Emmie*

      Best: Completed employee performance reviews. Had a budget – albeit modest – to reward employee.

      Worst: Constant last minute project changes in commitments mean I’m working a lot of hours over the weeekend, and juggling multiple on fire projects. But, I will get this done!

    16. SanguineAspect*

      Best: Monday to Friday this week FLEW by, so suddenly it’s the weekend.

      Worst: I’m working with 2 tech architects at my company on a few different project. Arch 1 (Josh) is working on one project with me and Arch 2 (Matt) is working on 2 projects with me. They’re in meetings with me all the time. This last week, I have been CONSTANTLY calling Josh “Matt” on calls. It’s to the point where they’ve both been teasing me about it, I KNOW I’ve been doing it, and I’m still doing it. It’s like my brain has wires crossed.

      They’re both really smart guys, sound kind of similar, and are from the same remote office, so I rarely work with them face-to-face. To complicate matters, the two projects Josh is with me on have clients named “Matt” — so that makes things even more confusing when I’m on a call and asking “Matt” a question (meaning Josh), and the clients are also confused. It’s to the point where I second-guess myself any time I’m about to say one of their names out loud, which is kind of weird. I’ve never had this problem before.

      1. SanguineAspect*

        And I got it backwards even in this post. Josh is working on two projects with me and Matt is working on one… O.O

        1. mutt*

          This happened to me so much, I finally wrote out what project and who was on it (lead / team / clients) so I could keep it straight. Finally solved the prob.

          Therefore, I totally agree with Kyrielle; write it down someplace highly visible, maybe use different colors for Josh/Matt. Good luck!

      2. Kyrielle*

        You could create a note card with each name on it and have the appropriate one in front of you for each call?

        Otherwise, much sympathy. I’m terrible with names, and I’m pretty sure I’d have trouble in that scenario too.

      3. SanguineAspect*

        Thanks mutt and Kyrielle for the advice! I think having something to look at when I’m on calls with their names might really help.

    17. Kyrielle*

      Best: figured out how to get two pieces of code working (mostly) on my own! Still learning the new systems, so I’m feeling pretty good about not having to ask lots of questions to find what I needed.

      Worst: dragging myself in on two separate days not feeling well. (Not contagious – one due to a chronic issue and a poor choice of food the night before, the other one because we were flying back from a weekend vacation and our flight was delayed and I got to bed at midnight. I need my sleep. So it goes!)

    18. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Best: It’s over.

      Worst: New leadership + last minute information requests + “the project is on…no wait it’s cancelled…nope on again” + vital team members taking key days off. ARGH.

    19. SL*

      Best: quiet-ish week because our major event was last week (and went off without a hitch, might I add).
      Worst: …the traffic this week now that school’s started and everyone’s home from vacation. UGH.

    20. Kelly L.*

      Best: free food this morning (and it was good!) and it’s Friday!

      Worst: Intra-department sniping

    21. Lily in NYC*

      Best: I’m going on vacation next week (for two whole weeks!)
      Worst: It will be in FL. Florida in August is a special level of hell.

      1. NJ Anon*

        We used to vacay in Florida all the time. It was just as hot in NJ as it was in FL. At least you are on vacation!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          It is way hotter in FL than NY in Aug. and Sept.. The heat index at my mom’s house is 117 degrees right now. It is going to be in the low 80s in NY next week. I want to stay home!

          1. Ad Astra*

            Do you have access to a pool or beach? I don’t mind the heat when I’m on vacation and can spend my time swimming, tanning, or wearing shorts. But going about my daily life in that kind of heat is really unpleasant.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Both! We have a pool and are less than a mile from the beach. I’m just being cranky because my mom is trying to make tons of plans for me to see people I don’t care at all about and barely know (I didn’t grow up there; my parents retired there).

    22. anon for this*

      Best: A former mentor of mine introduced me to her former assistant, who’s interested in freelancing for us, so I’m going to help her get started. I’ve always felt lucky to have had wonderful people who believe in me and helped me get where I am in my career, and I have a desire to pay it forward, but given my “cool” field this tends to result in me wasting time on ingrates… so I’m happy that I might actually be able to help someone this time, and gain a new freelancer!

      Worst: A contractor charged us a higher rate than was originally agreed upon, then flipped out when I called him on it and said he’d been unhappy with us for misrepresenting the work we send him and if we didn’t pay the higher rate, he couldn’t work with us again. Fine, but this is also the only person my boss likes to have work on his projects (I have others who I think are just as good but he’s only criticized them). I’m pretty sure I inadvertently stepped in something that was already going on between them, but. Arrrgh.

      1. Polka Dot Bird*

        Wow, randomly charging more at the end is not a good way to respond to that problem. Ugh. I feel your pain.

    23. Clever Name*

      Best: I’m leaving early for lunch and shopping

      Worst: I can leave early because I’ve been working 10-12 hour days and am just done this week. Everyone in my office is going nuts with stress. We are way too busy and we are growing too fast and nobody can keep up. I’m trying to hang in there, but I’m considering looking at other jobs.

    24. Ihmmy*

      Best: we had a day out of the office for team building and brainstorming and stuff
      Worst: see above. It was good but SOOO social, introverted me was just feeling wrecked afterward and ended up skipping the company bbq because the thought of being near people was too much to manage

    25. araminty*

      Best: I resigned on Wednesday. Hurray! I’d been down on this job for many months, for lots of reasons. But it finally got to a place where I’d had more than enough, and the program is is adequate shape that it can continue operations while my organization’s glacial hiring to replace me goes on.

      Worst: I have to do some serious-soul searching about my work life. I’m TERRIBLE at working. I mean, I DO good work, I have the awards and raises to prove it (to myself and others). I’m thinking for the first time about starting my own business, having dismissed the idea in the past as I’m so un-entrepreneurial. But the idea of having something scalable really appeals, that I can take on more when I’m able and back off when I need a break… that sounds great.

      So maybe I’m retraining as a dog trainer?? Any thoughts about the Karen Pryor Academy?

    26. Monodon monoceros*

      Best: it’s Friday

      Worst: Huge international corporation with 3 billion dollars in profit in the 1st quarter just informed me that they are backing out of their commitment to provide funds for our international symposium that is happening in less than 2 months because of the “changing business climate ” The amount they were supposed to give was so tiny for them but is huge to us. Grrrrr….

    27. Dr. Doll*

      Worst — hitting the send button with the wrong email address in the to: line. Had to send a major apology and have not heard back from the person. I have never before in my life done that.

      Best — got a nice compliment from the person who handles the budgets in our area. My work is “clear and thorough.”

    28. Amber Rose*

      Best: sucked it up and did two things I’d been dreading, neither of which were that bad.

      Worst: the coworker who got fired screwed up a lot of stuff before he left, and we’ve been cleaning up his mess all week. We’ll probably be finding his mess ups for a while yet.

    29. the gold digger*

      Worst: Added a new tag to sharepoint term store. Realized it was redundant to a tag that already existed. Deleted tag. Wait. Deleted existing tag, not new tag. Had to sort through a few hundred documents to re-tag everything. Hope I got it all. Still feeling sick to my stomach.

      Best: Saw an internal announcement: “X is a career engineering professional who brings over 30 years of …. experience”

    30. Hlyssande*

      Best: Renaissance Festival starts this weekend!!!!!

      Worst: Renaissance Festival starts this weekend!!!!!

      Okay, but seriously. The worst is finding a huge dealbreaker problem in a build that’s almost to production that I feel like I should have caught in the previous test instance. I am so frustrated with myself over this. It works when done manually in the database, it works with a data load into the database, but it doesn’t work via the application we use to have people request for creations or updates in the database.

      I talked to the PM for it and he assured me that it wasn’t something he would’ve caught either – it was totally a lucky break to catch while we were testing another thing. Just like the other issue I found yesterday, totally found by luck. He says that as long as he has me on the testing team, he feels secure in that we will find the majority, if not all, of the issues. That’s super flattering, but doesn’t make me less annoyed about not finding things.

      Also, fest will be utterly exhausting. As of Monday the 17th, I will only have one day off (between work-work and fest volunteer work) until Oct 5th. Good luck, me! No throwing any patrons in the quarry!

        1. Hlyssande*

          MNRF! The only place in the world it will be muddy and dusty at the same time!

          I still have a scarf to find, lunches to pack, and some light apartment cleaning to do in prep for friends arriving tonight (I live 10 minutes from site), but I’m ready!

          And of course, a 7am conference call was just scheduled for Monday morning…

          1. PhoenixBurn*

            Hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed the fest! It sounds like you managed to come out on top!

      1. Hlyssande*

        Also, update regarding the dealbreaker build issue I found. They already put a fix together and we just tested it successfully in the dev environment. Huzzah!

        And we already found a non-code and easily fixable reason for the other big issue I found this week, so I’m just waiting on a response from my contacts in Dubai and Manila so I can implement whichever one is correct. Also huzzah! (20 pounds for the Queen!)

    31. Colorado Girl*

      Worst: Having a staff of three in a company with only 10 employees (including PT and IT consultants) and finding out that employee #1 (your stellar CSR) inherited a bunch of money, no longer needs to save to for the kids’ college fund and has decided to quit, finding out that employee #2 (the person you hired several months ago to replace your old position) has to take medical leave for at least a month while employee number #3 has planned surgery coming up next month. Oh, and we’re about to launch a whole new CRM system in the next few weeks!

      Best: It’s only 10:30a on Friday – there’s still time to find it!

    32. nep*

      ‘Would-have-been-a ‘best’-if-I-could-keep-it’ : An inexplicable extra $200-plus dollars in my pay today.

    33. Bea W*

      Worst: Recent system upgrade/change broke things. They are fixed now…maybe.

      Best: We’re finally getting some good resumes. The last batch was awful. The temp agency just didn’t get it.

    34. anon for this*

      Can I put in a request to stop the best/worst of the week in the work-related thread? It takes space away from giving/getting advice which is the point of these threads and today it made me wade through 60+ comments to get to the next post topic.

        1. nep*

          ‘Collapse replies’ takes care of it for those who’d rather have it out of the way — Reckon some people like this feature in the Fri / work open thread.

        2. Today's anon*

          It would be nice to also have a “collapse within the thread” thing too because for the really long comments, things get hard to follow and also some sub-threads are not always as interesting and it would be nice to skip them.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You know, I’ve actually thought about this — it can be daunting when people see 500+ comments on the post before they’ve even opened it, and when the best/worst makes up such a sizable portion of those, I agree it’s something to think about. Maybe we reserve it for the weekend non-work thread instead?

        1. Christy*

          Perhaps defaulting to collapsed comments for the open threads? I would appreciate that, as I do it automatically anyway.

          And personally, I enjoy best/worst for work stuff.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s tough to do with this system, unfortunately. (When you’ve seen it set up that way on other sites, it’s probably with outside commenting systems like Disqus or Intense Debate. Adding it here would make things a bit messy: The site would still need to load the full page of comments before collapsing them, which would cause issues for people on slow connections because you’d be reading comments and then suddenly they’d collapse once the page finished loading.)

        2. Heather*

          I have a hard time keeping up with these open threads anyhow. I like to read the work ones because there is some good stuff in there but I find it hard to navigate even without the best/worst stuff.

        3. Turanga Leela*

          Mostly related: Alison, I had a dream this week that you were fed up with all our comments, and you asked us if we could please keep it under 60 per post. You said wouldn’t delete our comments, though; we were just on the honor system to only post if it was REALLY important.

          I had completely forgotten until I saw this discussion.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That is hilarious, because I did fleetingly wonder earlier this week if there would ever be a point where comments should close after a certain number of them (much higher than 60) though. I decided no, but that’s pretty weird timing for you to dream that!

            (Also, I love the honor system part there. Comments 62-75 would be people chastising commenter 61 for going over 60.)

        4. CIVICSGRATE*

          Have you considered opening the work and non-work open threads up at the same time on Friday? I really don’t know what, if any, difference it might make. It might make the threads grow more slowly and evenly (ie, come Sunday evening, instead of 800 work and 400 non-work comments, it might be more like 600 work and 600 non-work comments). Or not.

          1. fretnone*

            This is interesting. I’ve been finding that I want to ask questions/comment in the non-work open threads, but since I mostly read AAM at work (as it seems many of us do), the activity is all but over by the weekdays.

            Obviously this is not speaking for everyone as the weekend threads are very active, but it has crossed my mind many times!

      2. mutt*

        You can “Collapse 64 replies” skip ANY thread you don’t want to see. Just look for the arrow at the bottom of the very first post. Easy!

        I love the Best/Worst and look forward to it weekly, but I tend to collapse other things that stress me out, etc. Works great.

    35. INFJ*

      Best: Getting really flattering feedback from the managers in my department 4 months in on the new job.

      Worst: Nightmare crowds and massive delays at the train station yesterday resulted in a 2.5 hour commute home :-/

    36. matcha123*

      Best: Not much work in the office.

      Worst: Knowing that while my coworkers value my contribution and (seem to) think highly of my work that everything I do will not be considered by any future employer because I’m a contract employee with no ability to lead or propose projects. *sigh*

    37. NJ Anon*

      Best: It’s FRIDAY!
      Worst: Dealing with the State on a contract renewal. They are driving us nuts!

    38. Anna*

      Best: Vacation in two weeks and successful launch of mentoring program at work that I somehow became in charge of, despite having a committee (maybe that’s a worst) but I plan on claiming that for myself.

      Worst: New director is hard to read and my boss (the boss over everyone) is sort of pushing us to work together and I’m not entirely sure what’s up. I’m reminding myself that he and I have different approaches and that he’s as new now to this industry as I was two years ago.

    39. Ethan*

      Best: 6 weeks out from trade show I plan (well, really, two of us plan) and got whole lot done this week, AND was able to give lots of important stuff to my new intern, because she’s one of the good ones.

      Worst: Realized I should have started graphics for badges two weeks ago an hour ago.

    40. LiveAndLetDie*

      Best: A problem employee who was scheduled to have a (not great) performance review next week (including probationary measures and improvement plans) quit this week to go back to school, so that’s a weight off my shoulders.

      Worst: The restrooms for the floor of the building my office is on continue to be disgusting at all times thanks to the school on the other end of the building. The restroom isn’t big enough to handle the volume of people that move through there now that there are classes of students that come in every two hours, and the building’s maintenance team seems to barely be able to manage it. I end up taking the extra time to go up to other floors to use the restroom.

    41. AE*

      Best: Keeping my composure all week long
      Worst: People who procrastinate or spend endless amounts of time pondering what to do or screw around and then don’t meet deadlines on multiple projects and make excuses, but that’s kind of a daily thing around here.

      Note to self: gotta stop setting Friday deadlines! It’s too aggravating!

    42. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Took the day off today. Really needed it.

      Worst: I’ll be the only person in the office next week who can work with clients since my colleague will be on vacation. That will be exhausting.

    43. zora*

      Best and Worst: I gave my notice yesterday ,and next week will be officially my last day at this temp job.

      Best because the new boss is kind of micro-manage-ey and also a know-it-all but he’s new and really doesn’t know anything, so he’s been making my life infinitely harder, and I’m glad I won’t have to work for him any more.

      Worst because I actually really liked everyone else here, and because I will be unemployed again, and I haven’t gotten any bites on a single one of my job applications lately. So, I’m trying not to panic about having zero income again. But I have to go out of town next week anyway, so I wouldn’t have been here in any case. I think it will all work out eventually…. I hope…..

    44. Coppertina*

      Best: Had a very positive interview with hiring manager of 2nd choice position on Tuesday. Got quick response to my midweek request for timeline update from hiring manager of 1st choice position. Turns out he’s been swamped and he expected to be able to update me in the next day or so (scheduling additional interviewers has stalled due to PTO, other challenges).

      Worst: I woke this morning to find that my email provider had deleted my account/mailbox overnight!!! Long story short, I own a vanity domain ( and for many years, have paid for email address which is my primary account. I’ve tolerated subpar performance (POP limitations, very slow webmail) but had no major issues. They spam me regularly with offers for this and that. Where this becomes a two company customer service FAIL actually traces back to June and my bank. Bank overzealously included the email renewal charge among the fraudulent purchases and later issued a chargeback. Despite my alerting them that it was valid and requested they reinstate it, they never did so. Did email provider attempt to charge the replacement card number? Nope. Did they send me a note saying, “Hey, we need some $ from you or else your e-mail goes bye-bye”? Nope, despite the fact they clearly have my address. I wasted 90 minutes on the phone this morning that I’d very much wanted to spend more productively. Nearly 6 hours ago, I was told that the mailbox restore could take up to 4 hours. Sigh. Still no email. :-(

      Sorry, I know that was a vent/rant. Thank you for providing this forum which is very therapeutic for muting anger. Ahhhh, fury and rage….these were very deeply felt emotions for me this morning as I had this vital artery of communication violently severed, and had to contemplate possible loss of vital communication threads with potential employers. I felt the embarrassment of having to send a few notes out from my gmail account saying, “In the event you’ve tried to contact me….blah, blah…please use this other email temporarily…”

      Aaaaaargh! It is probably time for me to transition to gmail for my main email account. It’s hard to continue doing business with a provider that has such an unacceptably cavalier attitude towards meeting customer needs. My bank will also be hearing from me as their sloppiness triggered the whole chain of events.

    45. Jen RO*

      Worst: Still bummed about the performance review last week, so I’m doing the bare minimum. I figure that my (almost) best got my a “meh” review and all the mediocre coworkers also got a “meh” review, so I might as well be mediocre, but relaxed. The downside is that I *like* being involved in everything, but I keep telling myself that it’s time to focus more on myself rather than helping others.

      Best: One coworker just accepted an internal position, so she will be getting away from her horrible manager and getting a 50% raise! Another coworker is interviewing and her potential job got me all excited. It’s got some downsides, so she is not 100% sold, but I am happy to see “my” juniors moving on to bigger, better things. As for me, the best job-related thing is that I am on holiday until Wednesday!

    46. Buu*

      Worst – Nothing to do at work, boss won’t admit it. Slowly going mad.

      Best – Freelance project I got hired to help on by a friend got noticed by someone both my employer and myself are huge fans of. That person makes a point to network with start ups. It’s a big win as it should hopefully push this project further and has put our names in front of someone we respect.

  1. Ashley Madison*

    Anybody read this story about Ashley Madison? (I’ll post the link separately)

    According to one article, there were 15,000 government and military email addresses registered to the site. Some were apparently fake addresses but still thousands seem to be legit. And according to another article (that I of course can’t find now) there was rampant use of work email addresses as well. Some big companies too.

    What do you think should happen to these employees? Should their employers be concerned? Should they be fired, reprimanded? Should action against the government and military employees be more severe than the others?

    On the one hand I think that it’s their private lives and if this had never become public no one would ever know. On the other hand, I think using your work email for something like this shows an incredible lack of sound judgement.

    Plus, I’m sure people are getting in tons of trouble with their spouses too.

    1. LQ*

      I haven’t been able to stop reading stories about this entire thing. It’s fascinating. And the DMCA (?) take down letters that were sent. And the thing with famous people being called out. And that they released the personal data before they released the CEO data and then saying it’s a moral thing about the set up of the company. And the gender ratios. And and and! I can’t stop reading these things.

      1. Ashley Madison*

        I was equally as fascinated when my husband mentioned it to me last night. It’s a weird mix of “Ha! That’s what you get cheaters!” and “Man, we shouldn’t be invading people’s privacy this way”. I know the hackers think they are on some moral high ground with this but I don’t really think leaking peoples personal information and sexual fantasies to the world is in any way moral.

        Plus, I think there is a possibility that a small percentage of the people on there actually do have their spouses consent. Some people have open relationships. And they will be exposed when they’ve done nothing wrong. Except possibly use their work email address. LOL

        1. Bekx*

          I agree, I have a HUGE problem with Doxxing. Even when it’s used for “good” things like exposing cheaters, racists, etc…I just don’t think we should be comfortable with it, or praise it at all.

          My friend in high school was the victim of doxxing when we were in school. She posted something stupid online, it got attention…and people found out her real name and our school. They called the police and the school and she was horribly embarrassed. She was 14 and just trying to be cool. While nothing ultimately happened, and it was before facebook/social media was a big thing…I could see it going very differently and that scares me.

          1. LBK*

            Getting someone’s full name and their school isn’t really “doxxing” though – that’s usually publicly available via social media (although depending how long ago this was, you might be right that it wasn’t as easy to obtain as it would be now). Doxxing is getting really personal info like financials, SSN, address and family addresses and other personal/private documents.

            1. LQ*

              No, doxxing would include information not put out there. So like I use a fake, anon name, if you dug up my real name and address that would be doxxing.

              If I was putting my full name and address here then releasing it wouldn’t be. But since I don’t, doing so would absolutely be doxxing.

              1. LBK*

                If you make posts on social media that include your town (often auto-tagged), pictures of you and even just your first name, I don’t think it’s really doxxing to look you up on Facebook and pull the public info off your profile. That would mean looking someone up in the phone book based on knowing their name would be a form of doxxing.

                1. LQ*

                  Yeah. But if I’m making a post here where all you know is LQ then releasing that would be. It’s basically finding more than the person wanted to release/make public on their own. Often through nefarious means. If I’m posting with my full name on Facebook and you say Full Name said on Facebook that A Thing Happened. Then whatever. But if I’m posting here and you spend hours digging and find out Full Name then go post Full Name said on AAM that A Thing Happened. That would be. It’s making more public than the person wants.

                  If I find out who LBK is and scream it to the Gawker empire even if all I tell them is your full name that’s definitely a doxx. I’d say doing something like using this data dump to out someone would be. Especially if you dug through the AM data and went oh look LBK! It must be the same one as AAM – here’s their profile and credit card info.

                2. Ad Astra*

                  I can see the distinction, but it’s pretty uncool to research and share someone’s identity in an effort to make them look bad, even if that doesn’t count as doxxing. Especially if that someone is 14.

                3. TootsNYC*

                  actually, I do think that’s doxxing. It’s about the invasion of your real world with animosity from the online world.

              2. LBK*

                (And I do understand that true doxxing does still happen like it did in this case, but I often hear “doxxing” thrown around for some of the social media firings that have happened and it just doesn’t seem like it applies since these were people that publicly put info that made it easy to identify them alongside their racist/sexist/etc opinions.)

            2. The IT Manager*

              So what is “doxxing”?

              Is it revealing John Doe is actually Jon Hebert who live in Ville and works at the Ville Electric Company?

              My question is why is Jon Herbert finding it necessary to hide his identity on social media? But I am no longer cool. I was shocked that facebook expected people to use their real names (and I used a kind of fake one when I started) because that didn’t used to be done, but I have grown used to it.

              1. Bekx*

                I think LQ explained it well. I go by Bekx because I don’t want to post my real name — just as you don’t post your real name and you go by The IT Manager. If I were to go through all your posts here and magically figure out who you were, and where you worked, that would be doxxing.

              2. Lucina*

                I think that’s because it’s very easy to make a small mistake in the privacy settings and sometimes you don’t want to be found. I ended up setting up a FB account to keep in touch with some work friends that left, but I use an alias. I do my best to avoid posting things with my real name, and I don’t use Linkedin b/c of the identity issue. I have a very unusual name (commmon first name but max 20 people have the same family name) and it is enough to identify me. I don’t want this. I’m probably a little paranoid, but social media, and generally the web2.0 user generated content – like this comment – make me feel more exposed than I like.

                1. Zillah*

                  Ditto. I also broke up with a guy almost ten years ago who tended to fixate on previous girlfriends, including googling them for years after the fact – he definitely kept bothering me via email/phone and following my posts on a forum long after we broke up. I’d rather not make it super easy for him, particularly when it comes to my personal life.

              3. Shannon*

                When people know your real name, where you live and work, you have to be on your best behavior at all times. It’s like having your conservative grandmother with a heart problem follow you all the time.

                I don’t want the fact that I laughed at a dirty joke, have questionable hobbies (and by questionable hobbies, I mean the fact that I used to play role playing games online. That legitimately used to be considered satanic where I lived until *very* recently) or like a certain politician to be used against me. I want to be in control of my personal information, including what I reveal to whom and when.

            3. Bekx*

              This was before Facebook. They had to do digging to find her. Basically it involved googling her username, reading her posts to find out what part of the country she was in, connecting the dots that her username was a nickname for her last name (Think Sherly instead of Sherlock). Finding her myspace because of this last name and location and then finding her real age, her address, her parents names, the high school we went to and her siblings name.

              That is 100% doxxing.

        2. LQ*

          If the hackers really wanted to make a big deal of this why wouldn’t they have lead with the ceos data, source data, aggregate data. That they lead with the personal data makes me go…eh, you want to make a splash, you don’t really care that these people are being scammed.

          As I’m reading all of it I also think about the Planned Parenthood hack that initially happened right after the AM one. If that data is leaked it could be devastating to people which is horrible.

          And so many of the commenters on posts seem to think this is a get what you deserve, but there was no verification, you could have signed someone else up to get them a whole bunch of AM spam, because I’m sure a site like AM/Avid spams to all end.

          1. Ashley Madison*

            My husband has a very uncommon first name, but his email only uses his first letter and last name which is common and people sign up for stuff all the time. It’s shocking how many people don’t seem to know their own email addresses. I could totally see this happening with AM too.

            1. Elysian*

              I have a whole folder full of things people have improperly signed me up for because they don’t know their own email address – Verizon bill, tracker-related listservs, boudoir photos, real estate agent, Ancestory dot com…. when its important stuff (like the photos, omg I didn’t need those!!!) I usually respond and say “Hey you should really be more careful about stuff like this…” but it probably happens to me with mundane stuff about twice a week.

              1. Ashley Madison*

                He has sent people responses when it has been a personal email. There was one woman who kept emailing him plans for a family reunion who was trying to make plans with him to be picked up at the airport (in another state than we live in and it was no one he knew). And he kept writing her back to say she had the wrong person but she never responded to him but kept emailing updates. I have no idea if she was ever picked up from the airport.

                The most aggravating thing is that his last name is French and the majority he gets are in French, which he actually can’t read. He also get’s a lot of kids signing up for video game sites (or I suppose they could be adults). Once he got a egift card and he had to reply to the person who sent it to let them know they sent it to the wrong person. They were so impressed with his honesty they told him to keep it!

                The other day someone bought and expensive software program and used his email address so he got the direct download for it instead of the other person. He’s sent the company a note on the online help forms to notify them, but hasn’t heard back.

                1. Adonday Veeah*

                  I am on the email list of an organization of “football” referees somewhere in England. For years, I have been receiving notices of their monthly meetings, the menu of snacks being served (what the heck is a butty?) and enticements to participate in the raffle. I tried multiple times telling them I’m a middle-aged woman in America who doesn’t belong on the list, but they rudely insisted it was important info and I MUST receive the emails. It’s been YEARS and I still get these. I actually look forward to them when “football” season starts up every year.

                2. Cath in Canada*

                  Butty = sandwich :)

                  I get emails from some Christian daycare in Ontario. I don’t have kids, don’t live in Ontario, and am not a Christian, but informing them of these facts just seems to increase the flow of emails.

                3. silence covered the sky*

                  I’ve had a small amount of success coping with similar emails by emailing back to everyone on the To: and Cc: lines with a request to please remove my email address – and also I embed a suitably disturbing Google DeepDream image in the email text.

              2. Kat*

                There is a girl with my name that set her google recovery email to mine. I keep getting notices “my” email is used to log into device-name. I swear she’s a drug dealer because it’s a new phone almost every week.
                I finally emailed her and told her. Did she change it? Nooo. I’ve thought about using password recovery to log in and lock her out, but that would be mean.

                1. Elysian*

                  Mean, but just.

                  I logged into the Ancestry dot com person’s account and changed all her relatives names into a sentence about how she had the wrong email address. It’s only fair.

                2. blackcat*

                  I did that with someone who WOULD NOT change their dating website email address to be correct, despite multiple pleadings from me (they even told me that I should hand over my FirstnameLastname @ g mail address because they wanted it more). I locked them out. It solved the problem. I was okay being mean.

                  I have a super common name and got gmail a very, very long time ago. So I get misdirected email all of the time. I set up certain filters (LastnameFirstname @gmail ‘s elderly mom could not figure it out, so that filter has been in place for TEN YEARS.) and I have a canned response set up so I just click 1 button. About 50% of people apologize, about 45% never respond, and the other 5% are nasty. I’m okay locking the nasty people out of online accounts, in part because the other 95% of misdirected email folks are fine.

                  All of that said, I wouldn’t be surprised of there was an Ashley Maddison account tied to my email address–again, it’s a super common name, and like many internet services, they do not verify email addresses. Oh how I wish verification were standard….

                3. Elysian*

                  I agree – why isn’t email verification standard if you require an email address!!? It is just common sense.

                4. Zillah*

                  Yeah, if you don’t require email verification, you should just allow people to put in usernames without emails.

                5. Ops Analyst*

                  I’m confused. How do you notify people who are using your email address as their own? How do you have their real email? I get it with the recovery email, but otherwise I can’t recall a time where an email sent to me from something I’ve signed up for contains another of my email addresses. Or are you actually picking up the phone and calling them when all their contact info is included?

                6. blackcat*

                  I’ve encountered a couple of sites that allow people to set up two email addresses. I go in, and if I see another one, or something like a Skype or AIM name, use that to contact them.

                  For other services, like skype, I send them a skype message. Everyone (4 people) on skype has been apologetic about mis-typing emails, though.

                  I only do this if I’m getting lots of notifications and/or private messages from companies that I also use (so I don’t want to set up a black hole filter). I do have such filters for a lot of stuff, too.

              3. Small Creatures Such As We*

                I can’t respond directly to the Gmail filter/canned-response email below, but +1 on that. I have a super UNCOMMON last name, and this still happens to me.

                I have a filter that auto-responds with a canned response, letting them know that they’ve emailed the wrong person, asking them to update their contact information for the intended recipient, and informing them that they will continue to receive this canned response every time they email me. Every time I get a mis-directed email from a different email address, I add it to the filter, and it will send the canned response only to the address that was just added to the filter.

                I’ve had a couple of particularly bad re-offenders that prompted this:
                I actually set up the canned response because of a real-estate agent who I’d emailed directly telling her that that she had the wrong person. Then she sent secure documents to my email address (!!!), intended for someone else, for “me” to sign.
                The nastiest was some professional-group reply-all that refused to remove me from their reply-all OR STOP PROVIDING MY EMAIL ADDRESS AS THE “NEW” ADDRESS FOR SOMEONE — until they included me in some kind of rather confidential/internal-strategy-discussion of competitors that they would definitely not want leaked to the public. After encounters like this, I don’t feel bad about having a direct canned response.

            2. Honeybee*

              I have a very common first and last name, and I signed up for Gmail when it first debuted (back when you still needed an invitation) so I managed to get my firstname.lastname without any numbers or underscores or anything. I get misdirected mail ALL the time, either because people don’t know their own address or because the people responding left out a crucial letter or number. One time I had a posse of people RSVP to my address for a bridal brunch!

              I usually send them responses suggesting that they may have left out a letter or number.

          2. zora*

            “you could have signed someone else up to get them a whole bunch of AM spam, because I’m sure a site like AM/Avid spams to all end.”

            Two of my friends actually had a prank war going for a while where they were signing each other up for things they hated. It was childish, and both of them probably wouldn’t be adversely affected if their info was in the AM data, bc they have partners that would trust them that it was a joke, but it just made me think that is actually a very real possibility: that someone was signed up by someone else for AM, whether as a joke, or maliciously, or who knows why?

            1. zora*

              (although, actually, it was kind of funny as a prank war. To sign up an active party Democrat for Anne Coulter’s email list, etc. They would both get super exasperated, and I just got to laugh at both of them.)

              1. Shannon*

                My Republican husband is convinced that his Democrat friend signed him up for the White House’s mailing list.

          3. Krystal*

            My name is very uncommon … but there is apparently someone whose first name is Krystyl (and I thought MY name was stupid) and has my fairly uncommon last name. I’ve received emails from her mother, the social worker handling her foster care situation, and her BANK. Get your shit together, Krystyl.

        3. MegEB*

          Ashley Madison specifically caters to people look to have an affair behind their spouse’s back, though. I’ve had open relationships in the past and I know quite a few couples who are in open or poly relationships, and I don’t know anyone who uses Ashley Madison (or any of the related sites, such as EstablishedMen) to find new partners. Nonmonogamous couples are not the demographic Ashley Madison is targeting.

          I’m really torn on this too. On one hand, I generally feel like cheaters deserve what they get, and I certainly don’t feel sorry for them. But I also can’t support the idea of hackers illegally obtaining data to essentially push a moral agenda. It’s one thing to attack cheating partners (I don’t think you’re going to find too many people outraged about that), but what if it was a more controversial issue? For example, what if the hackers wanted to push a pro-life agenda and hacked into medical records to see who’s had an abortion? I just don’t support vigilante justice, even for something as reprehensible as cheating on your spouse.

          1. LQ*

            The Planned Parenthood hack that happened immediately after the AM one is exactly this. Though they werent’ able to get nearly as much information and haven’t done the big public splash that the AM hackers did.

            1. Steve G*

              Mmmmm…..that is not a very good comparison. PP is funded in part by $500M in taxpayer funding, so we have a right to know what they are using it for, regardless of anyone’s stance on the issue.

              Taxpayers have no vested interest in whether a couple cheats or not.

              1. Natalie*

                Huh? Hacking into someone’s secure database and stealing personal information on their employees is not okay because their organization receives some taxpayer funding. Good lord.

                1. Natalie*

                  @ Steve G, again, huh? Every news article I’ve seen says they gained access to PP databases.

              2. MegEB*

                Uh, no. No one has the right to know another person’s medical records unless consent is explicitly given. We’re talking medical records, not financial documents.

              3. AMT*

                You may have a right to know what Planned Parenthood spends taxpayer money on (hint: its not abortions), but you don’t have a right to know what I personally went to PP for.

              4. Elysian*

                By that logic it would be “ok” to hack into the bank account of every individual with student loans on Income Based Repayment just because we as taxpayers subsidizing their loan and have a “vested interest” or some kind of “right” to know what they’re using their money for. We don’t — taxpayer money or not, its still a huge violation of privacy. If anyone has an actual right, they’ll have to set up transparent reporting guidelines, not hack in.

                1. Natalie*

                  And every government employee, every business that has ever received a government contract or jobzone-type grant, everyone who gets the EITC (it’s extra money, not just a refund), and on and on.

                2. Steve G*

                  That does NOT follow from my logic. PP was about the general actions of an organization, not individual patient cases. And why are you mentioning hacking in comparison to PP? It wasn’t a hacking case. My comment above was that there is no comparison to Ashley Madison and PP, nothing more.

                3. LBK*

                  I can’t find anything too specific about the details of the hack but I did see some news reports that PP’s databases were accessed, which I assume would include patient records. I don’t see how that’s any different.

                1. Steve G*

                  Yes, and I don’t expect people to skew my comments though. Someone made a comparison between divulging a bunch of A.M. information to doing undercover videos at PP. I commented it is apples and oranges. Other commenters somehow took the leap into “so you are for divulging medical records of PP patients?” What? Where does that come from. Not me. Someone even went so far as to say “every story about PP mentioned hacking.” Absolutely false. PP was not a hacking story. It was an undercover camera story.

                  This is reminding me about what Joey wrote about last week. Commenters are adding things (that PP was a hacking personal data story) to what I wrote then attacking it.

                2. Steve G*

                  @AAM. Thank you. I already feel like I watch too much news and I didn’t see this or the story on the 6th PP video until just now. Too much going on in the world now to follow

              5. Observer*

                Are you seriously arguing that taxpayers are entitled to know all of the personal information about every person who works for every government agency, or for any organization that gets any government money? Including sensitive personal stuff (eg medical conditions etc. ) and the kind of personal information that can be used to commit fraud (eg bank account information and SS#)?

                1. I'm a Little Teapot*

                  Thanks for putting it better than I did, Observer. As someone who has worked both in government and in healthcare, I find this sort of viewpoint terrifying. There are a lot of people out there who consider all government workers to be Pure Evil simply by virtue of working for the gubmint, and and a fair number of those people are armed and inclined toward violence. There have also been numerous cases of shootings and bombings directed at abortion clinics, at people who work at them, or at places/people with some connection to abortion. Releasing the private information and whereabouts of clinic workers (or even people who work for an organization that performs abortions or advocates legal abortion access, whatever their actual roles), in the hopes that people will harass, attack, or kill them, is a classic tactic of extremist anti-abortion groups.

                  Certain extreme libertarians advocate even scarier tactics to get rid of government by getting rid of anyone who works for a government. That’s part of why Bitcoin exists. There was an influential essay posted online about twenty years ago proposing an “assassination market” enabled by untraceable electronic currency and encrypted networks where anyone could pay for the murder of anyone they didn’t like, and the essay suggested using it to eliminate the state by setting up rewards for killing every single person who works for a government entity until all the surviving government workers quit. Seriously. Google Charles Stross’s “Why Bitcoin needs to die in a fire.”

                  In short, this shit gets people killed. Which is precisely the intention of a fair number of the people who do it.

                2. Steve G*

                  It looks like we were talking about two different things. I thought we were just talking about the PP videos, I didn’t know there was also a hacking case! There is too much freaking news going on, I am behind even though I read a lot! I didn’t see this, I probably stopped opening PP articles at some points because they were becoming redundant……

                  No I don’t think lists of abortion patients should be shared. Aggregate stats only, but not via a hack!

              6. Honeybee*

                Taxpayers may have a vested interest in how a company in aggregate spends their money. That doesn’t mean that you need to know the individual records of the people who use PP’s services.

          2. Ashley Madison*

            Yup. I agree they are not targeting non-monogamous couples, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a small percentage of them on there. I think there are people who are non-monogamous who aren’t necessarily mingling along the poly world or are “out” about that choice. People can be pretty critical of it. I’m sure there are couples that could be using sites like this discretely and don’t know anyone else in their immediate circle who are in an open relationship that is out in the open.

          3. Ad Astra*

            I just don’t support vigilante justice, even for something as reprehensible as cheating on your spouse.

            Exactly. I can’t get behind the idea of exposing and shaming people for doing something you don’t approve of. Lots of people don’t approve of abortion, plastic surgery, sexting, homosexuality, any number of things… but that doesn’t mean it’s the world’s right to know which legal activities these private citizens are up to.

              1. Chriama*

                No-one ‘exposed’ that employee, though. Posting something on twitter is like shouting it from the rooftops. I think that’s the difference between having a discreet affair in a hotel across town and participating in the workplace duck club.

                1. Creag an Tuire*

                  I am curious, though, whether anybody’s opinion would be different if the website in question were, say, StormFront instead of Ashley Madison. (Just to spare anybody a potentially NSFW Google, StormFront is Nazis.)

                2. LBK*

                  I actually don’t know that the reactions would be *totally* different – AM is certainly a site that a lot of people consider morally dubious and there are still plenty of defenders saying the hack wasn’t justified. SF is on a whole other level of immoral, so I think it would be harder (at least for me) to continue to push the right to privacy line, but I think there’d still be people who’d say that no one deserves to have their private data released, end of sentence.

                3. Shannon*

                  You know, on The Sims 3, you could use a video camera to record two other sims having an affair and show it to the sim who had been cheated on. The relationship took the same penalty every time the sim who had been cheated on saw the video, regardless of how many times they had seen it, how long ago it was or if the relationship had been previously repaired.

                  I think in a lot of ways, the internet is turning into that video camera. That off color joke you made as a stupid teenager in 1995 is just as fresh as saying it yesterday to your insulted friend, despite the fact that it was 20 years ago and you have substantially changed since then.

                  It’s not right or fair, but, I really think the internet means the end of second chances.

              2. Steve G*

                I know…I saw that as a contradiction but didn’t want to stir the pot on that one. Especially because she said “if you don’t like it here go back to where you’re from” and it didn’t apply to any specific race. People for whatever reason assumed it was anti-black, but it clearly is referring to illegal immigrants newly arrived but already complaining about the way America is.

                You can disagree with my interpretation of what she said, but if we have to interpret what someone means, if it isn’t even clear cut, then maybe the person needs to be cut a little slack or given a chance to explain what they meant.

                1. LBK*

                  I don’t see how that interpretation of the statement is really any better, plus given the time when it was posted and context it seems pretty clear that’s not what she was saying.

                2. Zillah*

                  … Except that when you target a characteristic that is disproportionately true for one group of people, plausible deniability doesn’t really work.

                  I’m also confused about why you’re so outraged that she wasn’t able to defend herself when she was insulting and stereotyping a huge swath of people who weren’t given the opportunity to defend themselves:

                3. Honeybee*

                  What other explanation is there for “if you are a minority and don’t like it, go back thats [sic] what freedom is”? It doesn’t have to target a specific racial group to be racist and offensive. People assumed it was anti-black because it happened in the wake of an anti-black shooting. There’s nothing in the tweets indicating that she’s speaking about illegal immigrants newly arrived; in fact, one of her tweets (“Don’t complain about being a minority and say whites are a problem when your ancestors chose to come here knowing they would be a minority”, emphasis mine) directly contradicts that interpretation. (It would, however, seem to indicate an astonishing lack of knowledge of American history and how most African-descended people ended up here.)

                  …and even if it was directed at illegal immigrants and just showed poor timing…they’re still racist and offensive!

              3. MegEB*

                Well, first of all, making statements on Twitter is not the same as discreetly signing up for an AM account. One is shouting your opinion from the rooftops (to use Chrianna’s excellent analogy), the other is, well, not. I think it’s also important to note that hacking into someone’s account and posting personal data is very much illegal, while emailing your CEO to inform them of an employee making racist statements is not. It’s a significant difference.

              4. Ad Astra*

                It’s a little different because the movie theater employee was posting on an unlocked Twitter account, and these people were using what was supposed to be a discreet, private dating website. But I happen to disagree with the vigilante justice in both cases, because I think it’s wrong to try to get someone fired for doing or saying something you disagree with.

                The racist employee is a particularly unsympathetic “victim” (if we can call her that), but what if I said “Abortion should be safe and legal, and these restrictive laws are bullshit” and a bunch of people publicly demanded to know whether my company agrees with the statement? I can’t be sure my company would have my back.

                Alison and other commenters believe most employers would make a distinction between hate speech and social/political discourse, but I don’t.

              5. Cordelia Naismith*

                It’s not “vigilante justice” to hold people accountable for the things they say in public. Twitter is public. That’s not the same as hacking into a website and stealing subscriber data.

        4. Ad Astra*

          FWIW, a large number of people on Ashley Madison are single men (because single men are everywhere on the internet) and people whose spouses are already aware of the situation. I don’t see any productive purpose for exposing people who are on the website, even if they are cheating on their spouses. That information is only relevant to the spouse, and I can’t imagine this is how you’d like to find out your husband or wife is having an affair.

          But using your work email to sign up is pretty bad judgment.

          1. Lionness*

            “FWIW, a large number of people on Ashley Madison are single men (because single men are everywhere on the internet) and people whose spouses are already aware of the situation.”

            I don’t know how we could know that this is true

            1. JMegan*

              But it’s a number greater than zero, in any case. Not to mention non-monogamous people, and other people who signed up with their spouses’ full knowledge and consent.

              Of course we have no idea if X is more like 2% or more like 20%, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that every person on there was actively cheating on their spouse when they signed up.

              1. Lionness*

                I don’t think anyone is assuming everyone was actively cheating. But I think it is reasonable to state that AM did not market towards consenting, non-monogamous couples, nor single people. They marketed towards married people seeking to cheat.

          2. MegEB*

            I don’t know how one can back up that statistic, especially considering that AM’s entire layout, including their slogan, is designed to appeal to people looking for the secrecy of an affair. I’m sure there are people using Ashley Madison who have their spouse’s consent, but I suspect that number is not statistically significant. Most of the people I know who have non-monogamous relationships have zero interest in using Ashley Madison, because they’re not looking to keep anything a secret.

            1. Ad Astra*

              I don’t have any idea what the statistic would be, I just know that one of my female friends had an account and said she got tons of messages from single guys, just like if she were on OK Cupid or something. I guess they thought going on an affair site would help their chances of hooking up, and it would be easier to find someone who wasn’t looking for a real relationship? It was definitely a surprisingly high number of single guys. She showed me her phone and it was just guy after guy after guy. But there’s no denying that Ashley Madison is explicitly marketed toward people looking for illicit affairs. And I guess you could argue that single guys trying to hook up with married women aren’t much better than cheaters themselves.

              (My friend swears she never met anyone from Ashley Madison and eventually got off the site and into marriage counseling. To be honest, I think she just didn’t find anyone to her liking.)

              1. Panda Bandit*

                But were those guys actually single or were they pretending to be single? People know cheating is wrong but not everyone wants to admit they’re doing bad things or that they’re a bad person.

          3. Observer*

            Using a work email is monumentally bad judgment. Using any real email is pretty stupid, especially on a site that doesn’t do any verification.

          4. Kas*

            I saw an article which asserted that gay people living in countries where homosexuality is outlawed were also using AM to arrange sexual encounters. In some countries, being outed for that could ruin (or end) your life. They weren’t cheating on anyone, just trying to find happiness in as safe a way as possible.

            I have no idea if people were actually using the site in this way, and, if so, what proportion of site users fit into this category, but even if it were just one person that would be harmed by a leak of this nature, that’s one person too many.

            1. Jen RO*

              There was an AMA on Reddit by a guy in Saudi Arabia claiming that he was in exactly this situation (used AM for gay encounters in the US, now back in SA and in danger if anyone identified him).

        5. Allison*

          I agree that leaking those details about a person’s life to the internet isn’t okay, as it can open people up to things like credit card fraud, stalking, or worse, and that’s not necessarily deserved. That said, I do think cheating on your spouse is morally reprehensible – not because you’re having sex outside of the confines of a socially approved relationship and thus breaking society’s arbitrary rules about when you can and can’t have sex, but because of the impact it has on the person you’re cheating on – and I have no problem with cheaters being outed to their spouses.

        6. Lionness*

          For your everyday private person, I do not think it is right that their private data was released (although…I am a little too gleeful that they’ve been exposed as cheating cheaters who at least tried to cheat). But for elected officials, people who screamed family values *cough*DUGGAR*cough*, etc? Meh. You don’t get privacy.

    2. SandrineSmiles (France)*

      The only part I read about it was with Dan Savage. He basically argued that there are people (like some Duggar person) that could seem like legitimate targets for information reveal, but most others ? Bah, who cares, really.

      1. Violetta*

        Yeah, I’m having trouble reconciling my feelings on that part of it. On the one hand I think it’s wrong to leak personal information of all these people and whoever did it should be prosecuted for it. On the other hand I’m not gonna pretend I didn’t read that Josh Duggar article with malicious glee.

        1. Lionness*

          Yea. The only person I feel bad for in *that* situations is his wife. Let’s not pretend she has a choice about staying with him.

        2. The Strand*

          Hate to agree that I felt similarly about Duggar. I feel bad for his wife, though, who I am sure is blaming herself and feels personally, deeply, humiliated. I hope she finds a good divorce lawyer and leaves the Christian patriarchy environment.

          1. Blurgle*

            The entire basis of their religion is that when men do something bad, it’s always the fault of some woman. Always. Even now, Josh’s wife is taking all the blame for his actions.

      2. Steve G*

        Do we have to bring Dan Savage into this? I am gay and I HATE his constant “playing the gay card” to push his warped extreme view of the world. For example, he has a clear anti-Christian bias. He is not a source of information unless you want someone to criticize traditional facets of American life.

        1. MegEB*

          I’m curious what you mean by warped. I actually really enjoy Dan Savage and would love to hear his take on this, but now I’d also like to know why you dislike him so much. Is it mostly because of his atheist tendencies, or are there other reasons?

          1. Steve G*

            Not a religious issues I just don’t like a lot of what he says. I don’t want to open a whole political debate here because I could easily write something to spark a 1000 comment thread. But one example is calling people against Obamacare scumbags. As if there is something morally wrong with not being for socialized medicine. And he put the word “socialized” in quotation marks as if that isn’t what it actually is. Personally, I am very against the government being involved in anything having to do with my healthcare. But he apparently doesn’t want to hear why that would be because he is going to roll his eyes at you.

            1. Nashira*

              He might also have already considered positions like yours and dismissed them as being completely counter to his values and sincere beliefs. I mean, that’s a thing that happens, man.

              1. Steve G*

                I know but I don’t name call when someone doesn’t agree with me. I don’t consider people who name call because people don’t agree with them to be good sources of information in the future, because people who resort to name calling also tend to be people who get frustrated when things don’t fit into their agenda

            2. Huh?*

              Um, I should resist this because I don’t want to derail either…but Obamacare isn’t socialized medicine, like, at all.

              1. Steve G*

                The idea of pooling taxpayer money for a program that benefits a minority and then having the program run by the government is socialist in itself. It doesn’t need to be an exact model of the USSR’s medical system to call it “socialist.”

                1. Nashira*

                  I mean this sincerely: so how is using socialist as an insult not an ad hominem?

                  Plus, I have never understood why socialism in governance is some big bugbear. Plenty of countries have socialized elements, especially healthcare, and do just as good (if not better) than the US does on the relevant metrics. Then again, I’m unashamedly socialist when it comes to feeding, housing, and caring for people in need.

                2. Creag an Tuire*

                  So, unless you’re just talking about the Medicaid expansion (in some states), Obamacare -still- isn’t socialist. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of legitimate points of complaint against a system requiring you to purchase a product from a private for-profit third party which is managed by said, but “socialism” isn’t one of them.

                3. Steve G*

                  @ Nashira – to answer the first question, because describing something as socialistic because it has a redistribution-of-wealth aspect is different than insulting a person with curse words as DS has done because you don’t agree with them.

                  Also, in the US media, “socialist” is used all of the time to describe welfare type programs or redistribution of wealth type programs. It doesn’t = same as USSR.

                  For the record, I am very gun-ho about reining in the programs you mentioned. I know someone who is here illegally and gets all sorts of welfare + food stamps for her kids even though she could easily go back to Poland. My 1/2 brother’s mom has been collecting food stamps + welfare for her kids and is always out partying + going on vacations…and then she “took custody” of one of her grandkids (even though the dad lives in the same house sometimes!) to collect social security until the kid turns 18. And where I used to live in Brooklyn for 5 years, about 1/3 the people in the local deli and grocery store used WIC cards (food stamps) even though they had iphones, nice clothes, a couple of kids even though they are only early 20s…these programs are out of control and not helping the people they were intended for.

                  Look at stories of NYC public housing if you want an example of how “socialist” housing turns out. Huge backlogs of repairs, walls being put over leaking pipes, mold issues, rodent issues, elevator issues. They had to clean house at the top in 2013 because the execs were overpaid and abusing private cars while a record # of repair requests sat.

                4. Panda Bandit*

                  Oh no, millions of people can get somewhat affordable health care now. It’s such a tragedy how you can’t individually choose who gets to benefit.

                5. Lore*

                  I’m still confused. The tax credits are run by the government. Some of the enrollment websites are run by the government. None of the health insurance, or the actual healthcare, is run by the government. All of the money spent on health insurance is going to private corporations.

                  If taxpayer money is being redistributed, it’s primarily being redistributed to Aetna and Cigna. You can call that many things, and I am by no means a partisan of the program in its actual current form, but socialist seems at best a serious stretch.

                  By your logic, wouldn’t most tax credits be socialist?

                6. Steve G*

                  @ Lore. I was referring to the $900bn – $1 trillion Obama said the cost of Obamacare would be over the next decade. Other estimates put it over $2 trillion over the 2014-2024 period.

            3. Lionness*

              It….isn’t…what it actually is, though. Socialized medicine would be medicaid and medicare or any other single payer system. This is subsidized medicine (just like we have subsidized corn and subsidized roads and subsidized firefighters – the federal government pays part and we pay part either via local taxes or one time fees).

        2. LBK*

          I don’t really understand why his biases matter…he’s a columnist, not a reporter. Basically his whole job is giving his opinion.

          1. Steve G*

            Because it also impacts what sort of stories you even cover. It’s not only about your take on a particular issue, it’s about whether you are even going to cover something or not because it might conflict with your ideas.

            Even the very opinionated Bill Maher, for example, sometimes discusses topics that don’t fit in with his ideas, and then you have to remove some of his biases to get to the information, but at least he covers the story. DS would just not report a story. Hard to quantify, but then again, it’s not like he has stories out on extreme range of topics.

        3. Meg*

          Have you read any of his books? He talks a fair bit about religion in American Savage – about his upbringing as the son of a Catholic preacher and how he kind of drifted back to religion after the death of his mother. I always appreciate his nuanced view.

        4. Anonymous Educator*

          I’m a Christian, and I don’t find him displaying any anti-Christian bias. In fact, he regularly has Christians on his show… just not right-wing anti-gay Christians.

        5. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

          Dan Savage gives advice my old school Catholic aunt would agree with.

    3. Jerzy*

      Work email addresses, as far as I’m concerned, shouldn’t be used for anything that’s not work-related. That’s not to say you can’t occasionally send a personal email from your work email address, but signing up for a site (any site) that’s not related to your job can leave your work email account more susceptible to dangerous spam and viruses. THAT’s the real issue with people using their work emails in this way. And for Government workers, it’s worse, because they are using a public resource for personal reasons.

      The fact that the whole thing is just icky should be left out of the broader picture of employees using work resources for strictly personal reasons. Leave the judgement of their nasty behavior between them and their spouses.

      1. Jane*

        I was just going to say this exact same thing. Don’t bosses have access to employees’ emails? Mine does. I’d never use it for anything even slightly non work-related.

        1. Ad Astra*

          My boss doesn’t have access to my email, but I’m sure IT would give him access if he presented a good reason for it. A lot of our admins and project managers have access to their boss’s emails to send stuff out on their behalf. It would be weird to me if my boss wanted access to my email, but I would never assume my work email is private.

          1. Jane*

            Hmm, I guess my situation is a little unique. My address is the email that a lot of general questions get sent to. So when I’m out of the office, it still has to be checked frequently. But I always figured managers and supervisors would want access to certain messages, through IT or otherwise, like you said. If you screwed up a client relationship, they’d probably want to pry and figure out why. I guess that’s not the case everywhere though.

      2. Ashley Madison*

        Yeah. I had to sign an agreement not to use my work email for anything other than work and it expressly forbid signing up for anything non work related with it and even discouraged emailing family/friends with it. But my company is very security driven as it’s part of what their business is about. If there was a breach, it. would. not. be. good.

        I agree that the behavior should be irrelevant but then I started thinking about companies with morality clauses and the appearance of having many employees using their work email to participate in extramarital affairs.

      3. Artemesia*

        I worked for a place that a perk of retirement is you can continue to use your email from the organization. so I have always mixed work and personal emails. BUT I would never put anything in an email on that account that would be humiliating to be disclosed. So yeah my new dishwasher receipt just arrived on this email but should I ever be ordering fancy dildos or criticizing the organization or making political diatribes — that goes to Gmail.

      4. Emmie*

        The Wash. Post or NYT said that Ashley Madison never verified the users email addresses. Theoretically individuals could have signed up with a fake work or gov email address.
        Yet, the data also included credit card info with addresses. Unless subscribers used a pre paid credit card, this info seems more reliable

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            So….a third party could sign someone up for an account without that person’s permission, then use it for impersonation or blackmail? Or AM could even sign someone up for an account and not take it down unless that person pays a fee to get rid of it? (I’m not saying they do, but they could.)

            Scary. Also, this means we can’t assume any of these accounts were actually created by the people they supposedly belong to.

      5. Lucky*

        Plus, if your company ends up in litigation (or, if you work for a government office that is subject to FOIA requests) lawyers are going to see your personal emails and we may have to provide those emails to third parties and they may ask you about your personal emails during your desposition.

    4. Kyrielle*

      I think using your work email for any kind of dating site – whether it purports to be aboveboard or for affairs – is incredibly tacky, and if a company took action on it, I wouldn’t blame them. (It’s also stupid, because IT at the companies / military could have spotted the emails being sent…unless there are never emails, in which case validating the addresses is really questionable.)

      The military members (especially those who are actually married) have the worst exposure, though – because adultery can be a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Using your email for it apparently also is. If it can be confirmed they used their emails (vs someone else using their emails), and if they prosecute (which I’m not sure they will – just that they could), they could face dishonorable discharge and other penalties.

      I’m with “incredible lack of judgement” re the work emails, and doubly so for the military members, knowing it was prohibited conduct. If their employers want to react to that, I think it’s very much within their rights – though I’d hope employers without any code of conduct (or code of justice as the military) regarding the issue would ignore the adultery aspect and focus on the ‘misuse of work email’ aspect.

      1. Ashley Madison*

        I’m with “incredible lack of judgement” re the work emails, and doubly so for the military members, knowing it was prohibited conduct.

        This is the part that left me truly shaking my head.

        1. Chris*

          You’ve never been in the military, have you? Pretty much every day I was there I was shaking my head at something. The idea of a “professional” military isn’t embraced at the lower enlisted levels. The amount of prohibited things that happen are too varied to list. When you live at your job for over six months at a time, throw in extreme amounts of stress, and top it off with young people + fairly well-paying jobs, the line between personal and professional tends to blur rapidly.

          1. Chris*

            To be fair, my experience may have been colored, as my ship was known to be the worst ship on the West Coast.

          2. Ashley Madison*

            Nope. I’ve never been in the military. Not much experience with it at all, though my husband’s father was military. I can see your point for sure.

            I was however not really thinking about that in the context of them being military but more just the basics of a person knowing something could get them in a lot of trouble and choosing to do it anyway. When people are informed of what would be considered prohibited conduct at their jobs they usually choose not to do it. Like I’m not allowed to use my email for personal things. I could get in a lot of trouble. So I don’t. Doesn’t matter that I probably wouldn’t be caught.

            It was more a general thought overall than specifically relating to people in the military.

            1. The Strand*

              Oh, one other comment in response to that. As far as people doing something that they “know… could get them in a lot of trouble” — don’t underestimate how some – the type of kids Chris is speaking to – really *don’t* know these middle-class norms about being professional and not doing certain things.

              I have heard stories about kids going into boot or initial training that have never seen a dentist, didn’t know basic geography, had to get help learning how to read, needed help learning to maintain their physical appearance (meaning, use deodorant and take regular baths). This was from two very different services.

              We overestimate the knowledge we expect young people to have about “safe use of technology”.

              1. Chris*

                Confirmed. And I taught those same kids how to safely operate nuclear reactors while at the same time trying to stop them from getting married to someone they met three weeks ago.

                1. Shannon*

                  I lost count of the number of couples I saw who got engaged in less than a month in the military. The only thing I could figure was that they were trying for some form of stability in an otherwise very volatile environment.

              2. Ashley Madison*

                I was basing this on them actually having been informed that it was prohibited, not on people just having known it because they figured it out on their own or through experience.

          3. The Strand*

            Hey, Chris, you took the words right out of my brain when I was reading the original comment.
            Adultery is the one of the least unusual “prohibited” activities you can witness on base or just off it.

            About the only thing I disagree with is regarding the lower enlisted levels not embracing “professionalism”. First, it very much depends on why you went in; if Dad is a master sergeant or chief, or /and Mom was a 2nd class petty officer before she had children, you generally have a different attitude than someone just trying to escape boredom, a dying rural town, or urban blight. And many of those young kids do, over time, grow up in that system and become more professional… I always think of Colin Powell and what he was like prior to service.

            Secondly, since my brother was an officer and very much a “Dudley Do Right”, I had certain assumptions about differences between officers and enlisted people. It was only in dating two enlisted men, one of whom I married, that I realized that some officers were also very immature and unprofessional. Alas, I think the sheer number of people who have been canned from their own ships or command in recent years shows that unprofessionalism isn’t going away.

            1. Chris*

              Very true. (Full disclosure, I was one of those enlisted personnel myself.) Some of the most professional people I served with were enlisted, and some of the worst were officers. The thing that the officers generally had going for them was four years to mellow out at college and get a chance to make mistakes without the UCMJ over them.

              1. jamlady*

                Ugh my husband went to college and then enlisted at an older age and has spent the last 6 years just shaking his head. We’ve seen the worst examples of human behavior from some of these people (and their spouses, like woah). Military culture does very little to promote maturity and it’s very bothersome. Military personnel using their work information for a cheating website is the least shocking thing I’ve heard all year.

      2. Anna*

        Seriously. It would be SO EASY to set up a dummy email account that you only use for that one purpose. People are stupid.

    5. Sunflower*

      First of all, I’m really surprised how many people do not have email accounts outside of their work emails and don’t see anything wrong with that. My boss is one and it blows my mind. Even if you’re signing up for things that are totally legit and PG like Target, you really shouldn’t be using your work email for any personal reasons.

      I think firing someone over this is extreme. I would definitely have a talk with employees about how work emails should and should not be used. It’s probably a good idea at this point for a lot of companies, whether or not their employees were called out during this, to re-issue their use of work email addresses statement.

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        My dad was one of those people for years (until he retired). He worked for a company that did defense contracting and my emails to him would frequently get blocked because I’d forget to censor myself and use unfortunate slang (“Hi Dad, really bombed my math test today”). He was never reprimanded or told not to use it for personal email though… I’m sure if I had names I could find many people from his former company on Ashley Madison

      2. Natalie*

        Similarly, I have co-workers who’s only phone is their work phone, which I just find really odd. I get that carrying around 2 phones sucks, but why would you want all of your private communication subject to whatever your employers rules about data are?

        1. Ashley Madison*

          I think it depends. When I was an admin for a big corp phones were a perk for a lot of people I supported. I ordered the phones and set up the accounts for people, but once in their possession the only requirement was that it was password protected IF they added the work email account. They didn’t have to add that if they didn’t want to. The phone was theirs and they didn’t have to return it if they left the job (the account would be canceled though). The company had absolutely no access to the information on it at all.

          1. Natalie*

            Fair enough, but with my co-workers that is definitely not the case. The phone does not belong to them and it subject to all the same rules our work laptops are, including being wiped remotely if they were fired.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Which is the best reason ever for having a work and personal phone. I get that you may want to use your snazzy iPhone all the time and find Android/BB/Samsung/whatever not as cool or easy to use but dayum… if something happens and they wipe your phone, you are going to lose all your personal information, too. A work phone could be left at work. There’s too much blurring the lines of where the workday begin and ends right now.

              1. Natalie*

                IKR? Plus all your photos and stuff. I don’t think we own the cloud backups of our work phones, either.

                1. Dynamic Beige*

                  Honestly, I was doing a job where they were announcing this new “use your own device!” plan and cheers went up in the room… and all I could think about was how nice it must be for a corporation to not have to pay for phone upgrades and have the ability to wipe their employees’ phones whenever. Nope.

        2. Career Counselorette*

          My dad is like this. I just upgraded my phone, and he made me hold onto my old iPhone 4 with a pink and blue flower case on it so that he’ll be able to have a phone when he retires and no longer has a company one. My dad is 63 years old. My iPhone will probably not even work by the time he’s ready to retire.

        3. Ad Astra*

          When I worked for a newspaper, everyone was issued a smartphone and encouraged to use it as their only phone. At first, my work-issued phone was the only Android phone in a fleet of iPhones, so none of the work-related functions were compatible with our systems; I chose not to use it. After several people quit or were laid off/fired, I noticed what a PITA it was for them to go set up new accounts (especially if they just lost their jobs), so I opted not to use a company iPhone as my only phone once there was one available.

          It caused a lot of friction with my manager, but one of my relatives was already paying for my phone (I know, I know) so it wasn’t costing me anything to keep my number, my device, and my damn privacy. Nobody ever asked to see someone’s private data/photos/whatever on their work phone, but they certainly could have, and that weirds me out.

        4. Shannon*

          My husband’s only phone is his work phone. His personal use of his work phone is so mundane that he doesn’t really care.

      3. Koko*

        Right? Setting aside any potential misuse issues, how would you even stay on top of your work email if all your personal email was coming in there too? I get hundreds of emails to my personal account every day, and that’s just the legitimate email, not all spam that Gmail does a great job of catching. I would be so worried about missing an important work email if all my personal email was diluting the inbox.

    6. MegEB*

      I think employers should absolutely be concerned if their employees are using work emails to sign up for Ashley Madison. The lack of judgement in doing so is … astounding. Whether they should be fired or reprimanded should probably depend on a host of other factors such as their general performance, whether they’ve shown a lack of good judgement in the past, etc, but if I was managing someone who was exposed in this hack, and they used their work email, I would be having a very serious meeting with them at the very least.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I would hope that employers use a big picture focus. If that is the only thing the employee is doing perhaps a stern “talking to” is enough to stop the problem. However, if the employer checks email and sees a bunch of other activities, maybe something more is necessary. I think each employer has to decide each situation. In my mind if the employee has security clearances this makes the situation more serious, because the employee may not recognize the responsibility that comes with the security clearance.

      2. Shannon*

        Yeah. I’d be concerned about the judgement involved in so badly misusing company resources, if not company time.

    7. Katie the Fed*

      It’s actually far worse because IP addresses were also listed. So now they can find government employees who were using this from work. NOT OK.

      I would support disciplinary action against military and government. For military, it’s actionable under UCMJ. For government, it’s a misuse of government resources, especially if you happen to be an in sensitive position. You put yourself in a compromising position. Not ok.

      1. Nerdling*

        I hadn’t heard that the leak included IP addresses. From a government IT perspective, that could be Very Bad.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          The Associated Press is reporting:
          “They encompass more than two dozen agencies, such as the departments of State, Justice, Energy, Treasury and Transportation. Others came from House or Senate computer networks.”

          Heh. It’s about to get real!

          1. Nerdling*

            Oh lawdamercy! I’ll just be over here quietly thanking the heavens I have more sense. And possibly popping some popcorn.

        1. Kyrielle*

          The IP address definitely identifies the network, and sometimes identifies the computer. The more common cases, it won’t identify the computer *unless* someone subpoenas logs from the network. But for static IPs with no network address translation (NAT – more on that in a minute), it will.

          A static IP is an IP address permanently assigned to one computer, on that network. Sometimes it’s unique on the internet, but if NAT is in use, it’s not.

          A dynamic IP is issued at need to a computer that connects, and those are *not* unique to that computer but they are unique to that computer *at that moment in time* (and on that network).

          Network address translation – so I can assign internet address A1 to a gateway, and have a huge network inside the gateway using addresses B1-B255, and all the internet sees it as IP address A1. The unique B1-B255 are unique *inside that network*, but not on the wider network.

          And all of this ignores the use of proxies (basically adding NAT) designed to obscure and hide your IP, which can in theory be a solution if someone has a static IP but wants to sneak around.

        2. The IT Manager*

          I actually haven’t done networking in quite a while. In theory you could determine the actual computer, but the reality with dynamic IP addressing (IP address is assigned from a pool of IP addresses every time you log on), web proxy servers, and other similar technology you could mostly only determine the network it came from.

        3. another IT manager*

          Broadly, the concern here is that IP addresses will ID your internet carrier, possibly the person/entity renting the circuit, and (eventually, depending on access to records), the physical address of the circuit (where it’s delivered).

          So my home IP address will show that I’m coming from (ISP) in the Boston area, and if you ask (ISP) correctly, they will tell you that I’m at (home address).

          My work IP will tell you that I’m coming from Comcast in … Utah, actually, which is weird, but okay Comcast. But again, Comcast will tell you exactly where we’re located f you ask the right way. And our phone number and my email address, because I’m the contact for the circuit.

        4. Not me*

          The explanations above are good. You can also use proxies to CYA if you want to hide your real IP for whatever reason. Or if you want to look like you’re using the Internet from a specific location, like, for example, a country that has a better Netflix selection than your own.

          1. Not me*

            Also, there are extensions like Ghostery that make you invisible to some IP trackers. It’s cool.

      2. Florida*

        If you are sending and receiving emails from a government email address, isn’t that public record? Let’s say Congressman ABC signed up for Ashley Madison using his government email, and I made a public information request of all of his emails between certain dates. Wouldn’t I receive a copy of the confirmation email that says Welcome to Ashley Madison as part of my public record request? Sure, your average American isn’t going to request that information but you can bet that the opponent of Congressman ABC will be requesting it.

        1. The IT Manager*

          Not if there was never an email sent from/to Ashley Madison which is what someone said how it works; the email addresses are never verified for non-paying accounts. The email addresses may be used as login IDs (maybe).

          But yes, if there was ever an email to or from a government account it would probably be stored somewhere on a backup; although, not necessarily easily accessible if it was deleted long ago. Although I don’t know for Congressman. I have always been a peon and citizens don’t make requests for my emails.

    8. Meg Murry*

      I don’t know if they necessarily should lose their jobs – however, if the company was otherwise looking to get rid of someone, it is probably a free pass as improper use of company email. I know this is how one company I worked with finally got rid of a slacker –

      The slacker was finally put on a PIP after constantly calling in sick, often the day before big projects were due, and my boss and I were the lucky ones who had to throw aside all our work and scramble to do his in order to keep the customer happy. After going on and on with the person regarding his performance, attendance, and inability to meet his goals, the final straw was that the company had a clause clearly stated in the employee handbook about no using company email or computer resources for personal use. Well, the genius was using his work email for Craigslist personal meet-ups, and they were able to use that as a clear paper trail violation of company policies. The stupidest part? His reasoning was that he didn’t want to use his personal (yahoo) account because he didn’t want his wife seeing the messages. Hello? It’s not hard to set up another yahoo or gmail or hotmail or anything else free email account. Not the sharpest crayon in the box.

      I am firmly in the “use work email for work and personal email for personal stuff” camp, and setup multiple personal email addresses if that is what you need to do. And this is another reason why.

      1. some1*

        I’m single and I would *still* set up a fake yahoo or gmail account to respond to craigslist personals in case I met a wierdo who used my email to try to find me.

        1. Cat*

          Yeah, my takeaway from this is that people need to learn how to set up a burner gmail account and forward it to their regular email. It’s free, people!

          1. JMegan*

            And it takes like five seconds. Get yourself, forward it to your regular email, and you’re done. I get that not everybody knows how to do that, but surely if you’re computer-literate enough to use a dating site, you’re also literate enough to come up with an anonymous email account!

            1. Cat*

              Funny story – my email is I have literally had other people with the same first initial and last name sign up for dating sites with my address. I keep wanting to log-in and change their profile to something like “I do not know my own email address and thus am not computer literate enough to internet date.”

          2. Meg Murry*

            Or don’t forward it to your regular email if you are trying to hide it from a spouse or someone who would have access to your regular email – just log in to it from an incognito window on Chrome and make sure to uncheck “remember me”.

            Not hard. I’m not trying to hide from a spouse, but I have a burner account I don’t want associated with my “real” gmail account because I don’t want the spam, and this is how I deal with it. I use it whenever I have to give an email address to get a deal, and then only check it when I’m looking for coupons for online shopping or whatever.

            1. Lindsay J*

              Yeah, I have three email addresses. One for deals/spam, one for online communications that I actually want (message board comments, account statements, etc), and one for communicating with real live human beings.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          That’s actually the best way to go about it. Someone gets weird or pushy, you can delete the account and set up another. Much easier to let go of some account you don’t really care about because you’ve had it for 2 months than one you’ve had for 10 years and all your family/friends knows.

          Why people who are looking for a secret affair wouldn’t figure this out is mind blowing to me.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I figure that’s why most people who used their work accounts used them. No way for spouse to catch them. Even a burner “email address” could be accessed from a home computer, but work email can’t or would likely be ignored by spouse.

        OTOH, yes, stupid, stupid, stupid to use government email. I am curious about ability to use fake emails that are never verified on AM, and may have to look into this more.

        1. Green*

          The fake emails are obviously fake. It’d be a long con to register someone else you randomly knew in the hopes that one day AM would be hacked…

    9. Green*

      Employers are definitely very concerned about this, primarily with people who used their work email addresses.

    10. Retail Lifer*

      I can’t feel bad about anyone getting in trouble for using their work email. It takes minutes to make a dummy account on gmail, Yahoo, etc.

    11. LBK*

      I think what makes me uneasy about workplaces taking action is that I don’t know how many are clear-eyed about it doing it purely because it’s using work email for a personal matter (as I suspect many will claim) vs because they have a moral problem with cheating. If the cheating were uncovered any other way, I would be really uncomfortable with a company firing an employee for it because I just don’t think that’s the employer’s business. With something that carries such a stigma and such high emotional stakes for many people, I’m nervous that decisions will be made that wouldn’t be made if it were any other kind of non-pornographic personal email, even another dating site.

      1. Green*

        I think most companies are not OK with you using their resources or otherwise associating your sex life with them, even if you were single. They wouldn’t be thrilled about other uses, but there’s a difference between using from a work address and signing up for a porn site. In the end, very few employees who did not use their work emails will be fired (preachers, family values non-profits, etc.. the notable exceptions).

      2. Case of the Mondays*

        While I agree, I think we have to be aware of the employers that have legitimate reasons for morality clauses. People with security clearances and cops for example. The idea is the individual can’t have anything they wouldn’t want public going on because they are then open to blackmail. It can also go to someone’s credibility if they have to appear as a truthful person for testimonial purposes. “Officer Joe, you say you are being honest about the reason for this traffic stop but you have lied before right? You lie to your wife every Thursday when you say you are going to poker but are really meeting Sally Jane?” Or, you get the super Christian family man who is cheating and has a clearance. Blackmailer says give me x secret or I’m telling your wife and church about your affair. Those employers have a legit right to care about their employees having affairs.

        1. some1*

          My friend is a 911 dispatcher and from what she has told me, if cops got fired for cheating on their spouses, there’d basically be no cops at all.

      3. Case of the Mondays*

        I have a longer post that appeared to go into moderation. Basically, some employers have a right to care about their employees morality to avoid situations where the employee could be black mailed (clearance situations) or where their credibility is a job requirement (those who testify).

      4. Observer*

        If someone cheats on their spouse I can see the argument that it’s not the employer’s business. But, when you use your employer’s resources – ie the email assigned to you, you have just MADE IT their business. You don’t want your employer mixing into your private life? Don’t drag him into it!

    12. Ad Astra*

      I think that depends on the company and what their policies are about using your work email. I would think government agencies might have a big problem with this. But no matter where you work, it’s bad form.

      Maybe the cheaters thought they’d be less likely to get caught if the emails went to their work accounts instead of their personal accounts?

    13. Bekx*

      Just a thought — I imagine people used their work emails because it was “safer” from their spouse. Most people wouldn’t expect your work email to have anything bad on it, so I could see serial cheaters thinking that if they get caught they can just show their normal email and be like “See? Nothing bad!”

      1. LBK*

        +1 – usually a work email is much harder to access for someone who’s not an employee. A secondary personal address could be accidentally left logged in on a home computer. It kind of makes sense that if they were trying to hide it they’d use an email address they knew would never be accessible to their spouse.

      2. Emmie*

        Work emails also have a secondary benefit. If the subscriber uses that email to also correspond to potential suitors, a .gov, .edu, or a work email could lend itself to a perceived level of trustworthiness to potential suitors.

        1. Bekx*

          “…could lend itself to a perceived level of trustworthiness to potential suitors.”

          Ew. That just gave me such a gross feeling.

    14. themmases*

      I do find it interesting, but I feel kind of gross about it. I think this post (The Awl, “Early Notes on the Ashley Madison Hack”, link to follow) made some good points and I highly recommend reading the link in point 11 for some highly enjoyable food for thought.

      I think the best point the author made was that this hack is special in being basically intended to personally harm a lot of individuals, rather than for financial gain. People have been financially harmed before by identity theft from hacking, but their banks or the hacked stores absorbed a lot of the actual cost. This is hacking just to mess with people’s personal lives, it seems. Sure cheating sucks, but I think we should all be worried about vigilante hackers basically targeting sites because they don’t like the presumed personal behavior of their users.

      I don’t agree that people should be punished for using their personal addresses. It’s not an appropriate use of work email, for sure. However it doesn’t really show poor judgment to have failed to anticipate something that has never really happened before. I definitely don’t agree that government employees should face any additional censure. Americans have a really messed up idea that we own government employees down to the minutiae of their work environments and apparently even their personal conduct– essentially, that we own them as people. We don’t.

      1. Ashley Madison*

        I don’t necessarily think the poor judgment is that they failed to anticipate the site being hacked and their personal info being leaked. I think the poor judgment comes from choosing your work email to sign up for a site that has to do with finding a sex partner.

        I agree nothing should be done to people who used their personal emails. It’s none of anyone else’s business and the leak is bad enough for them. My husband was curious to look some people up out of curiosity but I encouraged him not to because 1) I don’t want to know if someone in my family or who I am close with is on there, and 2) it’s a violation of their privacy and these are people who we care about. He agreed and didn’t look anyone up. He just hadn’t thought of it that way at first.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I’m with you on not wanting to know if someone I know is on that list. It’s their monkeys/circus. If they want me to know they will tell me directly. Otherwise, life goes on. It’s not that I don’t care, but I have my own monkeys to tend to.

      2. Observer*

        However it doesn’t really show poor judgment to have failed to anticipate something that has never really happened before.

        This is not the first time a site with people’s personal information has been hacked, so it’s just not true that no one could have foreseen it. Maybe not in this particular form. But in the general sense? Absolutely. Besides, people’s work accounts get looked at ALL. THE. TIME. If you are a government employee, then it gets even worse.

        If someone is paying for your resources specifically to do a job, then that “person” does actually have a right to have a say in how those resources are used.

        If you don’t want your employer involved in your personal life, don’t use your work email or phone for that.

    15. Allison*

      While I appreciate that most companies are taking a reasonable, common sense approach to web browsing at work and not punishing people for, say, checking Facebook or Reddit or commenting on this site, I wouldn’t blame a single manager for firing someone after finding out they were going on Ashley Madison at work, or even for using their work e-mail to sign up. Not because they were cheating, but because they were using company resources to do something the company doesn’t approve of, and the company doesn’t want its name associated with the behavior.

    16. Rebecca*

      I suspect we’ll be seeing some more of the family values and moral police names popping up, other than Josh Duggar. He can’t be the only one riding the moral high horse to be involved in this. Other than the total hack and release of data, this is what bothers me the most: people who criticize and publicly state how others should act, sanctity of marriage, this is bad, and you are bad, that type of thing, while at the same time they are morally bankrupt. Such hypocrisy.

      1. JMegan*

        Yeah, I have to say I feel bad for all the newsroom interns, whose job for the next few days is going to be “make a list of all the famous people you can think of, and see if their names appear in the database.” Not only are you looking for a needle in a haystack, but you don’t even necessarily know if the needle is in there in the first place!

    17. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t know how I feel about the govt. emails but I’m feeling some sort of schadenfreude that the Duggar scumbag who molested his sisters had two accounts and was completely outed for it.

      1. some1*

        I agree. I don’t really care if people who aren’t my partner cheat on their wives, but his actual job was to convince people that gay people were ruining marriage.

    18. Not me*

      This whole thing is so weird, and it’s fascinating how it’s turning out to be so big.- I had no idea so many people used this site.

      I’m not sure how I feel about the public shaming aspect of it. I’m not always totally against the name & shame, but I feel like exposing everyone who ever used a website is kind of …intense.

      I definitely think people shouldn’t be using work email addresses or internet connections for it. But what should an employer do about it?

      1. WorkerBee*

        Two things about the name and shame that are important to remember – there are many, many people who joined the site for a laugh or for benign purposes, or haven’t used it in years (the records supposedly go as far back as 2004) – and more importantly, there was no email verification for free accounts, so anyone can sign anyone else up for it. That’s my qualm with this leak – there are people on there who may never have been on the site, let alone used it for an affair, or perhaps might have used it when their circumstances were drastically different. I can’t get behind wholesale shaming of people whose lives we just don’t know.

        1. Observer*

          And let us also keep in mind the sanctimonious hypocrisy of the people who did the hack and leak!

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        it’s fascinating how it’s turning out to be so big.- I had no idea so many people used this site.

        They advertise on TV, and that ain’t cheap. If they can afford to buy commercial time, there are a lot of people using the site — and paying. Enough to justify the spend to lure in more people. While they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, I don’t think this hack is going to enlarge their subscriber base. I could see it going away and then coming back as a brand new affairs site with a new name, enhanced security or something.

          1. Observer*

            It’s not really surprising. Keep in mind that their entire business model is built on helping people act like scumbags. And, the hack has also provided proof, if anyone needed it, that they are not to be trusted either. Not just that they clearly didn’t take basic precautions with people’s sensitive data, but they were taking payment to do something that they were not doing. Why would anyone be surprised that they would trash someone for the sake of a few dollars, much less a lot of dollars?

    19. Not So NewReader*

      I had hoped that everyone got the memo, “What you do online can become public knowledge” but I guess not everyone found that memo.

      I am interested in finding out who hacked them. Apparently, not Anonymous?

      A thing that concerned me is one reporter mentioned there were people from .sa on the list. Then he added that people are killed in Saudi Arabia for adultery. It got me to thinking, how many people will end up dead over this? I had to set my popcorn aside. Sometimes things have far bigger consequences that one would think of at first glance.

    20. Honeybee*

      My personal feelings are that infidelity is a private matter between a person and their partner, and shouldn’t affect your job.

      However, military officials are subject to different rules/laws than civilians. Adultery is addressed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Of course, an account on is no ironclad evidence that one actually did commit adultery, but it could be used as evidence. This is especially because the part about adultery “must either be directly prejudicial to good order and discipline or service discrediting” and whether the adultery is private and discreet is considered…a public outing as a member of a prominent cheating website isn’t quite private or discreet, and might be judged prejudicial.

      With government employees, I think it’s more the higher-level elected officials and appointed ones with certain roles (like judges, attorneys, politicians, etc.) It’s that the appearance of it reflects poorly on the office, and a lot of governments don’t want to deal with the backlash. (That said if you’re an appointed judge or attorney general and you joined Ashley Madison with your real name and your work email…that shows bad judgment!)

  2. Anie*

    I’m feeling a bit weird about work today. I recognize that this is just complaining and I am likely the person being too sensitive.

    I got a new boss about 6 weeks ago at my primary, 4 day a week job. It’s been a struggle. He was very forceful about “easing in” and I am still doing a lot of his work. We disagree on a lot of policies, which really just results in him changing the policy to match what he wants (and as the boss, that is his right).

    I found his personal facebook the other week. I wasn’t looking! It popped up in my “Do you know this person” area. He’s a diehard Christian. Most of his posts were pictures of Jesus with captions like “Repost if you’re a part of God’s army!” Which is fine. There was nothing hurtful or bigoted.

    I just…. I’m always a little on edge when I first find out someone is very serious about their religion. A good percentage of the time, our values might not align. A good friend of mine is studying to become a rabbi, so I know my atheism isn’t something that prevents me from liking people. I am just not interested in talking about religion—especially in the workplace—because it makes me uncomfortable.

    And this is really making me uncomfortable! I work in medical publishing. Religion has nothing to do with our industry, but because it’s important to him it keeps coming up. First it was tiny comments/interactions that made me grimace but that I could get over.

    One example. He’d say, “Merry Christmas! I got the CEO to approve buying us new style books!”
    Me: “I’m so glad we’re getting new books!”
    Him: “Oh wow, I really shouldn’t have assumed you celebrate Christmas. That’s a thing these days. So do you? Celebrate Christmas that is?”
    Me: “No, I don’t actually, but it’s not a big deal.”
    Him: “Hmmm, well. This is still a perfect present. Happy Kwanza then.”
    Me: “I’m not black, so I also don’t celebrate Kwanza….”

    And today, it’s become something of a bigger issue. I work with him and our staff writer on weekly stories for our publication. He was incredibly enthused about a new story idea of his involving the Catholic Church. Apparently they released an index of companies that have catholic values and two were healthcare companies.

    I don’t know why this bothers me so much. I wish I could just roll my eyes and get over it, but it’s just…not what I expect when I go in to work. His idea won’t get approved. I know that. It’s so far in left field. Even if the company owner wasn’t Jewish, our focus is on clinical trials, not Catholic values.

    But because I know my personal views aren’t universally believed, I make it a point not to talk about sexual orientation, tattoos, alternative lifestyles, gender norms, or religion in the work place. If I’m going out of my way to be respectful so as to not make others uncomfortable, it bothers me that here someone is without that same care.

    I can’t say anything because he’s my boss, and even if he wasn’t there’s really no reason he shouldn’t/can’t make small comments. I need to keep reminding myself I’m being too sensitive.

    1. Happy Lurker*

      It’s ok to feel annoyed, just as long as it doesn’t interfere with your work.
      I really like your note that his Catholic values probably will not float with the Jewish owner. Made me laugh.
      Good luck!

      1. Steve G*

        But I don’t think this is true, the values are not different. Both revolve around the golden rule, I would say. Half of the customers/channel partners at my longest-ever job were Hasidic or Orthodox Jews. Obviously they are very religious. We never had any sort of ideological clash because I am Catholic. They would send us Christmas presents and we’d send them presents around the same time – not because they celebrate Christmas, but because most of them took off that week anyway.

        I just don’t want to support the notion that coming from different religions would be the cause of some sort of clash with the owners.

        **Though I think the story idea isn’t good because the focus is medical care, as you say. Not a religious view on medical care – on plain old medical care.

    2. Tagg*

      I wouldn’t say you’re being too sensitive. As a bisexual (closeted genderqueer) atheist living in the Bible Belt of Pennsylvania, I can totally relate to this. I’ve been lucky with my coworkers being generally chill, but every now and then I’ll get a patient that lays it on a bit thick.

      I will say this about your boss: He is most likely completely oblivious. In his world, everyone is amazed by God and wants to know all the latest information about the church, the doctrine, etc, etc. It just simply doesn’t enter his head that someone might not be that enthusiastic about it until he’s bluntly reminded of the fact. Unfortunately, nothing’s really gonna be able to change that.

      However, what is the general culture of your organization? Are a large portion of your coworkers as deeply religious as he is? If not, he might eventually get the picture (especially if he says the Wrong Thing to someone higher up than he is). Additionally, are you close enough with someone at his level or higher that you can confide in? They might be able to point out to him that hey, we don’t really mix religion and work here so tone it down a bit.

      Best of luck!

      1. Anie*

        Thank you! You’ve got a really interesting perspective. You’re right, too. Because his viewpoint is more mainstream, it would make sense for him to naturally assume most people have the same viewpoint.

        This does help. I keep putting a tone on everything he says when religion enters the picture, but I really don’t feel that’s an accurate representation of him. He seems like a nice guy; just not…aware. The only semi-practicing religious people here are all Jewish (and I think the owner may have recruited them from his synagogue, lol). But honestly, it almost never comes up except for when there’s a scheduling conflict with a holiday.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, it sounds like with his comment about how some people don’t celebrate Christmas he’s not a complete jerk, just someone who’s really unaware that there are people different from him out there – maybe his previous job was all people just like him?

          I think if you can try to see it as uneducated instead of malicious that would help? Not that you have to be the one to educate him – but I feel like there is a difference between ignorant vs. intolerant.

          1. Steve G*

            Uneducated and intolerant because you said “Merry Christmas?!” I need to push back on that. Where is saying Merry Christmas so bothersome besides in certain pockets of the internet? In my melting pot here everyone says it and everyone takes off for Christmas whether they are Christian or not. Heck, even all of the Hasidic Jews from previous job took off around Christmas because no on else was working. So even if they weren’t celebrating per se, it was still a “holiday” for them.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  That’s not my read of it. Meg didn’t say he was intolerant; she said uneducated about/ignorant of other people’s views.

                  It’s not about saying Merry Xmas. It’s about his insisting on knowing if she did celebrate Xmas and making it into a “thing” in the workplace, which is extra inappropriate because he’s her boss.

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  I agree with Alison – what was uncomfortable about the exchange was his “That’s a thing now…” (uh, people being of different faiths? always a thing) aside, and his follow up question.

                3. Meg Murry*

                  No Steve, it is not. I’m not saying uneducated as an insult. I’m saying uneducated as in “hasn’t been exposed to other religions and is just starting to realize not everyone celebrates Christmas.”

                  FWIW, If he just said “Merry Christmas” and left it at that, I wouldn’t care. It was the “that’s a thing now …” as if it hasn’t actually been a thing forever, it’s just a thing he was only recently made aware of.

                  My perspective comes from a friend of mine who came from a country (outside the US) where 95% of the population was Christian, and she went to a religious school. She knew Jews were a different religion, but she honestly didn’t know that they didn’t celebrate Christmas until she put her foot in her mouth when we were trying to explain why we were having a “holiday” party, not a “Christmas” party at the end of the school year. It wasn’t that she was ignorant in a “stick your head in the sand” kind of way – she was naive and hadn’t been exposed to anything else and hadn’t really thought about it. I had a similar experience when I was a kid as I had known about Christians and Jews but never really realized that there were other religions in the world – it just never occurred to me that their could be more choices. Again, young, naive and now I know better.

            1. Anie*

              No, you’ve misunderstood. I don’t have any issues with people wishing me Merry Christmas. I’m happy for the time off!

              I didn’t like his dismissivness by redirecting to Kwanza instead, because that showed a lack of understanding and sensitivity.

              I’m also feeling a bit on guard because his religion is so much a part of his identity that he’s shown he’s unable to leave it at home. I don’t make every conversation at work revolve around queers or feminist ideals even though they’re huge parts of my identity, so it bothers me that he can’t do the same. Neither relate to our work.

            2. TootsNYC*

              yeah, I didn’t get the impression that it was the “Merry Christmas” that was the problem–it was the stuff that followed, in which he was (I think) flat-out fishing to find out what her religious beliefs were.

              And she had to include the “Merry Christmas” because that created the entire context. It was the peg on which he hung the inquiry.
              He may have just say “Merry Christmas” without thinking; lots of people use that when the give someone a gift, even non-religious people. and he may then have gone down the road he did because he was awkward, but I do think he began fishing on purpose at some point.

        2. Tagg*

          I know exactly what you mean when you say you’re putting a tone on everything about religion. I used to bristle every time anyone mentioned anything religious, even if it was just a rather innocent “Have a blessed day!” as they walked out the door.

          It really helped me to think about the sentiment of the statement, rather than the details. That patient that just walked out wants me to have a good day, and I want them to have a good day, we just have a culturally different way of saying it.

          I know a lot of media attention is paid to the asshole religious people that make life difficult for someone who doesn’t follow their beliefs. These people absolutely exist, and they’re a problem – not only for someone like me, but for my patients as well. 99% of the people who come into my office are genuinely pleasant, nice people. I used to always equate religiousiocity with extremism and would worry that every “God bless you!” was just a precursor to “Go to hell, heathen scum!”

          That’s not to say I haven’t heard some blood-boiling conversations happen in my waiting room, but for the most part people are Nice and maybe just a little bit sheltered :)

        3. Steve G*

          As someone from NYC where there are lots of atheists + non-practicioners of many religions + a lot of Judaism…I do think you are being a bit oversensitive. Everyone throws around “Merry Christmas.” I think its a myth in the media or TV or somewhere else that it is not sensitive to say “Merry Christmas.” I mean, even if you aren’t Christian, most people get PTO around the end of December and thus “celebrate” it in some way. Obviously it is weird if you say it to a Jewish or Muslim person, but then again….

          You also say yourself that you went on his FB page. This is the second thread here (including the one about Ashely Madison) where people are asking how to handle information that they would not have had access to prior to the internet age. IMO information gathered this way is no one’s business unless it’s hateful or promotes abuse against animals, etc. But finding out that someone is a member of a religion that promotes peace isn’t really something to get worked up about.

          And I think his story idea is going to get rejected because it doesn’t have to do with your mission of medical care. I’d just b patient and let that happen on its own. I’d also advise against what Tagg says about going to speak with a higher up, because there isn’t an issue yet.

          1. Natalie*

            I think you’re misreading Anie’s post. She doesn’t say anywhere that the simple greeting of “Merry Christmas” bothered, she relays a whole conversation where he does come across as fairly tone deaf (the Kwanzaa thing in particular).

            1. Powers that Be*

              As a new to the Midwest East Coast Transplant although I “get” that I was a minority, it still is a little strange around the holiday season to hear “Merry Christmas” used instead of hello and goodbye. I never thought the response should be, ” I don’t celebrate Christmas” I just say it back as in “I wish you a Merry Christmas” If I was back in NYC, I probably would have thought it odd to hear it in daily work-life. On a tangential note – My Mother-in-Law (Minnesota Lutheran) once asked me ” what do your people do for Christmas?” Yes, she knew we were Jewish. She looked very puzzled at my answer. We volunteer at local hospitals and homeless shelters, eat Chinese food and go to the movies.

      2. PA Bible Belter*

        I’m also from the Bible Belt of PA, a heterosexual Christian that attends a very evangelical church. I agree with Tagg, the boss is likely oblivious and doesn’t know he is making you uncomfortable. It’s not an excuse, but he probably has to learn to stop making statements like this. I know I did. Luckily this blog has taught me a lot about professional interpersonal communication. I even learned a new word today (genderqueer).

        1. Steve G*

          But not every Christian is “evangelical” and/or has a rigid set of beliefs. Not sure how “genderqueer” got in the mix but since you brought that up….a lot of Christians don’t care if someone is gay or whatever. Just because the Vatican says something doesn’t mean the people believe it….we shouldn’t be making assumptions about what this guy believes.

          1. Tagg*

            If you’ll read my comment upthread, I essentially said this.

            Also, I’m genderqueer and mentioned it upthread.

          2. PA Bible Belter*

            My point was that based on my background/upbringing, I thought (in the past) that it was OK to make comments at work about religion and other sensitive subjects. That is likely the case for Anie’s boss, too (I wasn’t making an assumption that he was evangelical, just that he may come from a background where it is common/acceptable to make these types of comments). This behavior needs to be un-learned. Through this blog and other professional development, I’ve learned to modify my assumptions and language.
            The genderqueer statement was referring to the fact that I (coming from a community that is generally conservative and Christian) was not familiar with some of the terminology used in the LGBTQ community. I’m glad Tagg shared this because it was something I didn’t know, and I’m always learning new things here.

            1. Steve G*

              Oh OK, I thought you mentioned “evangelical” because they have a rep here for being strict (IDK, don’t meet any), and that they would be inclined to impose their lifestyles more on other because they are so strict.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                As someone raised in an evangelical church, whose family members mostly still belong to an evangelical church, and who grew up with many friends in different evangelical churches, I can say that in the area where I grew up, that would not be a misstatement. They were and are inclined to impose their lifestyles on others (ask me how I feel about that when I can’t go to the liquor store on Sunday! or listening to the Christian radio station while getting my teeth cleaned). This is not a blanket statement of all evangelicals, because I’ve known plenty (including me growing up) who did not. But even for me and a lot of people I knew like me, I sometimes unintentionally made people uncomfortable because I didn’t realize how what I was saying would make others feel.

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  And to clarify, I do still consider myself a Christian. I just don’t go about practicing it the same way.

    3. Ad Astra*

      Wow, that’s awkward. He obviously wasn’t sincerely wishing you a merry Christmas in August, so it doesn’t really matter if you celebrate Christmas. I think everyone understands that he’s saying “Look, I’m bringing gifts! It’s as if today is a holiday closely associated with exchanging gifts!” Why take the conversation down such a weird path?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think that the environment, tptb, etc will rope him in at some point. Either that, or else he will figure out he is in the wrong line of work. None of this helps you right now, though.

      I hope you actually explained about Kwanza like that, I hope you didn’t just think it inside your head. If it were me, I would try to give little, random cues like that. I would make sure no one over heard me, keep it between the two of you. I would use a tone of “I am trying to help you acclimate here”.

      He sounds like my father when it comes to the topic of awareness of other’s cultures/beliefs/etc. My father had very close to zero awareness. Maybe you can find that he is basically a well-meaning person. This would give you an entry, “Hey, you’re basically a well-meaning person so I thought you would want to know that ________.” Fill in the blank with whatever he needs to know. I had to have a few conversations with my father. (Shaking my head.)

      And if you can’t think of anything else maybe this thought will help, tell him this: “Jesus said above all else, love each other. People don’t have to go to his church and sit in his pew, in order for him to love his fellow sister/brother human being. Just being considerate of others can be an expression of love/faith.”

      1. PA Bible Belter*

        “He sounds like my father when it comes to the topic of awareness of other’s cultures/beliefs/etc. My father had very close to zero awareness.”

        Mine too. Not religion, but my dad (who is so well-meaning and kind, but not tuned into this kind of thing) unfortunately never caught on to changing language norms. He grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, when racial segregation existed. Some of the language he used (which was acceptable in the media in his formative years) set my teeth on edge growing up in the 1980’s because it had significantly evolved over 30-40 years. I had to constantly correct him, lest someone think he was a racist bigot…when in fact he never meant to be insensitive.

    5. AE*

      I’m also an atheist, but I’d be annoyed even if I agreed with him. Religion just doesn’t need to intrude into a workplace that’s not a religious workplace per se. As for Catholic values corporations.. what??? Why not Protestant values, Jewish values, Mormon values, etc.? That’s just so wrong in so many ways. Are all your customers & clients & contractors Catholic?

      If your company has more than 40 employees, you’d be wise to say something to gently rein him in. He’s going to get the company into trouble and nobody wants that.

    6. Lindsay J*

      Ugh, I feel you. It’s not my boss, but a coworker of mine has social and political views that are vastly different than mine.

      I’m generally fairly outspoken about my values and beliefs (to the extent that I’m pretty sure I’ve lost Facebook friends over them). However, it is not appropriate discussion for work, and my coworker’s political affiliations do not affect me at all so I don’t bring up the topic, and am quiet if asked.

      Said coworker brings his up quite often, and generally with the “wink wink nudge nudge” kind of attitude like he just expects that you agree with him. I don’t. But I also don’t want to make waves by saying as much.

      So mostly I suffer in silence and text likeminded friends to complain to them about it.

  3. Aussie Teacher*

    TL;dr version: I got the job!!! And it’s all thanks to Alison!!

    Long version: I’ve been a SAHM for 5 years and an avid reader of AAM for 4. I started keeping an eye out for part-time work last year and this year, but only applied for one or two jobs total. I credit Alison’s advice with giving me the impetus to get back into paid work/increase my earning potential etc a lot sooner than I otherwise would have.
    I posted last Friday that I had an interview on Monday. I was upfront in my awesome cover letter that I was only looking for 2-3 days a week, even though the ad said ‘full time (negotiable)’, and they decided to interview me anyway. Well thanks to Alison’s interview guide and all her advice on interviews, I totally nailed it! I had practiced answers to nearly all their questions (including “what is the achievement you’re most proud of” to which their response was,”Wow. That’s really impressive. Well done!”) and I was able to ask insightful questions when it was my turn.
    They called me back the next day to come in for a second practical interview (working with their choir). Then I met with the Principal and the Head of Department. Yesterday they called me and offered me the job! They have bent over backwards to give me the days I wanted, and they have been treating me like a valuable commodity they are keen to secure, rather than me feeling like I needed to beg for a job. Again, thank you Alison and commentariat for all the many discussions of how women need to act confidently in interviews (eg don’t downplay achievements).
    And I start on this coming Monday!! So I’ve been racing around organising child care for my kids, and it’s all exhausting and crazy, but I’m thrilled.

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      Congratulations! And these words of yours particularly struck me…. “they have been treating me like a valuable commodity they are keen to secure, rather than me feeling like I needed to beg for a job. ” I’ll remember this when reading about or discussing (arguing about) the recent news stories about Amazon. It’s not only about work / life balance; it’s about really valuing the human potential that every worker could offer.

    2. TootsNYC*

      they have been treating me like a valuable commodity they are keen to secure, rather than me feeling like I needed to beg for a job.

      When I hire people, that’s exactly how I feel about them!

      I’m so glad you got yourself a spot where they treat you like that.

    3. Honeybee*

      There’s really to be treated like a valued potential employee rather than a supplicant. I start my new job on Monday, too, but throughout the hiring process my new company has treated me like a very valued new member of the team, and it’s already fostered so much goodwill in me without me even stepping into the door yet.

  4. TGIF*

    Last week I mentioned I’m hiring for a back office, research-intensive junior position, and that I had an internal applicant who is pursuing a degree in broadcasting. She also put her beauty pageant work on her resume, which I thought was strange at the time. In addition, she had had many short-term jobs over the last several years. She was one of two candidates I normally wouldn’t interview for this position, but since she’s internal, I had to.

    Well, she had her interview this week. She presented very well, seemed to have done her research on this particular role, and had thoughtful answers. I asked her about her crowded work history and she understood my concern. She said she chalks it up to a young mindset and not really knowing what she wanted to do. She said she now realizes she need to plant herself somewhere for awhile. Oh, and I also asked about how her pageant work has helped her in her career. She said as a shy person, it gave her confidence and the ability to interact with all different kinds of people. I was thinking, OK she might be a contender.

    Then at the end I asked her what area of broadcasting she wanted to pursue. She said she wants to be out front, reporting the news. Fine. But then she went on to say she tried the back end of broadcasting, like editing and voiceovers, and hated it. She wanted all attention to be on her. That’s when I decided that she wouldn’t be happy in a role like this one. It’s back office, glued to a PC all day, and not a lot of interaction.

    After she left, I looked over her resume again and noticed that she listed references, but there were no company names. Just name, position and phone for each reference. I thought that was weird. Also, one of the references was an IT person, which didn’t fit with her work history and the types of jobs she held. That kind of made me feel like maybe she was hiding something and didn’t want someone in particular contacted. Or maybe not. Who knows?

    The other interviews went well, although one, another internal candidate, was just plain painful. It was like pulling teeth to get anything out of her. I could have been done in 10 minutes, but I stretched it to 30 minutes, thinking maybe if I ask questions differently I’ll get her to open up. She was very…awkward. I guess that’s the right word. She came across as goofy and ditzy, I hate to say. There’s just no other way to describe it. Part of interviewing internally is giving feedback to HR, who will then give the feedback to the candidate. I plan to say something about it. I won’t be mean about it, but I think this is something she could easily work on and I think her current demeanor would really hurt her chances if she were to look outside the company.

    Anyway, no question here today. Just telling my tales.

    1. Anie*

      I like that you came back to us about actually interviewing the beauty pageant contestant! I like how she tied it in. the other stuff, yeah, makes her a not-so-great fit, but still interesting to hear her reasoning for including it on her resume. It seemed valid to me.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Many years ago I never checked references. Then one time I was having a hard time between two candidates and calling the references made a world of difference. Now, I always call and the information gleaned is invaluable.

      2. TGIF*

        Yes, they struck me as bogus since there were no company names and at least one of them didn’t tie in with they jobs she held. But she’s not in the running so no need to check. But it could be interesting, I’m betting…

    2. LadyTL*

      I wonder why she was interviewing for a back end position when she said she hated doing that work specifically. Wouldn’t that be counter productive for doing the work she wanted to do? Or was she hoping to springboard it into front end quickly?

      1. TGIF*

        She’s going to school for broadcasting, but she works in a totally different industry right now and plans to leave when she gets her degree in a few years. Her current job is a front end customer-facing role. The job she applied for is in the back office. Maybe she would like the back office in my industry, but I’m thinking not due to the research-intensive, solitary aspect of it.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          That seems like a logical assumption to make, but did you ask her directly about it? (Mostly I’m curious how she would frame that apparent misalignment between career goals and job expectations.)

          1. TGIF*

            To be honest, I didn’t. I was walking her out at that point and it was just casual conversation. I then found two candidates afterwards that really impressed me and I’m trying to hire them both, so at this point she wouldn’t be in the running anyway.

    3. catsAreCool*

      “She wanted all attention to be on her.” To me, that’s a bit of a red flag. Even people who are in front of the cameras don’t always have all of the attention. Maybe this is just her still being young.

  5. Elkay*

    What’s everyone’s experience with JIRA? Previously I’ve relied heavily on Kanban boards but my current team looked at me like I’ve got two heads when mentioned boards as they only use dashboards. Am I the weird one or is it normal to only use dashboards to manage workload?

    1. AnotherFed*

      Love it. We’ve been playing with several tools as part of investigating alternatives to the homegrown tool we’ve outgrown, and I like it best of our options.

      Jira dashboards are so configurable that they could easily be the only tool to manage workload – you can set it up to show everything assigned to you, due dates, progress, etc., or if you’re managing other people’s workload, you can see summary stats about what they are working on, how much time they’re spending on it, what their backlog looks like, etc. Basically, if it’s important to you to see, you can add that field to issues (if it isn’t there already) and see it in whatever combination you want on your dashboard.

    2. SanguineAspect*

      JIRA-user here. I think, as with most things “agile,” what works for one team may not work for another team. Kanban boards are really great for getting an at-a-glance view of where things are with each team member, what’s sitting in the backlog, and (if you’re running actual Kanban) making sure that people aren’t “hoarding” tickets, making sure things aren’t getting dumped on QA all at once, and that things are actually getting done.

      I could see a developer preferring to use a dashboard to get, at a glance, what tickets are assigned to them, maybe how many days are left in a Sprint, etc., etc. There’s no reason why you can’t have a Kanban board set up for your team that you use/reference in your standups, even if they prefer to use the dashboards to keep track of their work.

  6. Jane*

    First time posting on the open thread! So of course I have an issue ….

    I work for a tiny business – there are four of us total: me (the office manager), my boss (the owner), a work-from-home employee who comes in a couple of days a week, and a part-time office assistant that I work with only one day a week. Because we are such a small company, the office assistant doesn’t technically work for me – he works for the owner, and I just manage schedules and client relationships. So when we work together that one day a week, it’s like we’re peers.

    This guy hates his job. I mean, HATES it. He is constantly complaining about the work and how bored he is. And in order to combat his boredom, he talks to me nonstop about my personal life. He’s asked me questions like “How can you stand it here?” and “What do you like about this job?”. At one point, I told him to just go home and that I’d let the boss know he was sick or something. He then said, “You know, whether you like it or not, I’m working here with you, and we both have to suck it up.” Every time I try to be firmly polite and ask him to stop distracting me or make an effort to get along with the others in the office, I get a rude and insulting response like that.

    He’s also constantly saying how close to being fired he is. I can honestly see why. He’s one of those people who swears all the time, and it doesn’t stop at work. He argues with the boss about temperature, music, etc (the owner has repeatedly told him that we’re only to have classical music or neutral ambiance-type music on, yet this office assistant will beg and beg for something more mainstream). And he takes a ten minute walk-around-the-building break every hour because he’s getting so “burned out.”

    I am heading back to school in September, which means I will be going down to a little less than half-time hours, which is why I think Boss doesn’t want to fire this guy (it’s too late for me to find someone new and train them).

    I don’t hate the office assistant, but I’m at a loss for how to deal with him. Being told to “suck up” his moodiness is not fun. Is there a better way to say “Please stop being so disrespectful to me and your boss, and just get your work done?” so that he actually listens? Or is it time to sit down with Boss and persuade him to take some action? (I have held off on doing that because office assistant makes no effort to hide his behavior around him.)

    Stuff that may or may not be relevant: I am the only woman and the only person not born in an eastern European country, the remote employee and the owner have been friends for most of their lives, I have been working here for two years, and the office assistant has been here for a little less than a year.

    1. Swarley*

      That’s annoying. I’d just redirect the conversation as soon as it starts heading down a negative path. Something like: I can see that you’re frustrated, you might consider talking to boss about it. So getting back to project X, I was thinking we could start by compiling the data in a spreadsheet, etc.

      If he continues to complain, keep redirecting…
      Coworker: But I’m just so tired…
      You: I can understand, but we really need to get back to project X.

      1. Jane*

        I hadn’t thought about directing the office assistant to talking to the boss. Who knows, he might get assigned different work and end up happier.

    2. AVP*

      omigosh this would drive me so insane. I can’t speak to the cultural aspects here, but I also work in a really small business and have been the office manager in the past, and had subpar employees foisted on me that I couldn’t manage or discipline due to company structure.

      I think it would help a lot if you could just get him to shut up. Are there any physical structure you could use, i.e., could you separate yourself into a different office or didn’t part of the office with partial walls? Can you use headphones? Can you do anything else to make it clear that you need silence while you’re working, and he needs to facilitate that? If you make it about the work you have to get done, and you are struggling to do with his talking, he shouldn’t take it personally, or at least you have plausible deniability if he does.

      You could also say, “you know, I understand that you don’t enjoy this job, or that you’re struggling to maintain focus, but this is what I do and I don’t mind it and would really like to get back to the X account right now.” You don’t need to defend your life choices, just shift the focus onto the fact that you are there to do a job, you are getting paid to do it, and you want to do it well. It’s uncomfortable, but I’d rather have uncomfortable silence than have to deal with annoying people. You are not a babysitter or responsible for entertaining him or being his soundboard all day.

      1. Jane*

        Ugh, I do feel like a babysitter. I am definitely going to steal that quote – after all, I am just here to work. Thanks.

    3. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

      Since you and office assistant will soon both be part-time, any chance you can just shift your hours so that you’re not there when he’s there? (Not ideal, since ideal would be “boss fixes the issue with Bad Attitude Bob,” but it doesn’t sound like “ideal” is on the table here.)

      1. Jane*

        That’s my goal, but I think I’ll still end up working a half day with him at the least for the next year. There are certain things that we HAVE to work on together, so that’s unavoidable unfortunately.

        1. E*

          As he said, you *both* have to suck it up. That would mean he needs to also try to work well with others. I don’t think he realizes how hard he is to work with when he’s complaining.

    4. Artemesia*

      Have a sit down with the boss about how distracting and dysfunctional this guy is and suggest hiring a temp with the idea of replacing him.

    5. The Strand*

      Maybe this is a crazy idea, but for the rest of this period, could he wear headphones and listen to radio or a podcast, or his preferred music? He sounds so unprofessional.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Let’s break this down a little bit, because he has many annoying things that he does.

      “He’s asked me questions like “How can you stand it here?” and “What do you like about this job?”
      You: I have already answered those questions and I am not going to answer them again. Please stop asking. [Here, you are refusing to deal with questions/issues that have already been discussed. Don’t keep beating a dead horse. remind him that you both talked about X yesterday/last week and then let him know you have nothing further to add. You see no need to keep discussing it.]

      “You know, whether you like it or not, I’m working here with you, and we both have to suck it up.”
      You: That’s right it goes both ways. I basically like my job and I am grateful to have a job. That is where I am at and it will not change. [Keep your sentences short, keep your reply short. Picture yourself as this great big rock wall that will not move. He has to see you as unwavering and totally committed to doing a good job. This is turning the tables on him, giving him his own attitude right back but you are using your strength for positive reasons.]

      OTH, you can let him ramble and then say, “Okay, that being said, I am asking you to stop interrupting me unless it is task related. Are you able to do that?” In other words, you blow by the insulting thing, reframe the same statement and ask again. You can even preface it with, “Okay, this is just a simple request. It does not require a big discussion. I am asking you to stop interrupting me. Can you do that?”

      If you have not discussed this with your boss, you probably should. Frame it as you are not able to concentrate on your work, you have to double check your work constantly and it is slowing you down or whatever accurately describes his impact on your work. If outsiders are complaining about his cussing, be sure to mention that. Or if people on the phone can hear him cussing in the background, be sure to mention that.

      1. Jane*

        Thanks for the advice. I think you’re right – refusing to answer the same questions every week is the way to go. I’ll try it.

      2. TootsNYC*

        also, feel free to say that YOU are bothered by his cussing, that you don’t like being around it, and that you find the cussing makes the atmosphere unpleasant for you.

    7. AE*

      My answer to whiners: If you hate this job so much why don’t you quit? Meanwhile, stop trying to make this place miserable for me too.

      That usually shuts them up.

    8. TootsNYC*

      He sounds so incredibly non-productive. Unproductive.

      I totally challenge the assumption that your company wouldn’t be better off finding someone new and training them.

      He’s an office assistant, for heaven’s sake! There have to be people who have experience in office stuff, and who have enough of a brain to figure out what needs to get done.

      I think you shoudl sit down with the boss and say, “it’s not just that he clashes with you–he gets almost no work done, and he is constantly interrupting and distracting me, and when I try to redirect him get gets nasty. Can’t we just get rid of him? There have to be other, intelligent people.

      He’s there only one day a week! If you find someone good, you can maybe have them help while you’re back at school.

      Also, feel free to say, “I need you to just be quiet now. Don’t talk–not at all. I’m working, and I need to focus.”

      Or maybe, “Why don’t you quit? I think you should quit. And now please hush–I need to work.”

      “Joe, I’m going to ask you to keep your unhappiness to yourself for a bit–it’s really bringing me down.”

      1. Jane*

        Yeah, it’s not like admin work is super hard and difficult to learn. A new person should be able to pick up pretty quickly. I have now asked my boss if we can just get someone new, and he’s made it clear that he really doesn’t want to deal with a new hire right now. Blah. I’ll try again in a month or so when maybe my boss realizes that having this guy around for four days instead of one is too much for him to handle.

        Also, this guy had zero office experience before this job. And he didn’t go to college (which I don’t judge him for, but that could be why he hasn’t picked up any professional habits).

  7. Mosquitos everywhere!*

    Next week, I’m going on a 5-day vacation to London. Whenever anyone in the office asks about my upcoming trip, they always point out that I’m going for such a short amount of time and criticize my five-day trip. Does anyone have any witty comebacks? I’m tempted to say that I’d be willing to extend the trip if they’d like to pay for it.

    1. UKAnon*

      Being British, I’d run with something about the weather.

      The radio tells me that there’s a heatwave in the SE today (anybody confirm?) but it’s rain across the rest of the country, so maybe just say you want to escape before UK monsoon season hits, or similar?

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I’d probably say something like, “Thanks! I appreciate your good wishes! Cheerio” or “Does this mean you don’t want me to bring you some fish and chips?” and ignore them or act like they were being positive. Most people don’t even realize when they are being a total blizzard on someone’s fun.

        Have a great time! Cheerio! Sounds like a great trip!

    2. TNTT*

      That’s probably what I’d say. Or something about covering for me when I jaunt off for a month next time.

      Also five days is plenty of time to see and enjoy London! Have a great time.

    3. Jennifer*

      I think “I’d extend the trip if you’re paying for it” should cover the subject entirely.

      Also, it’s America, and most of us can’t afford even two weeks of vacation or be gone from work that long.

    4. Not tired of life*

      Ha! 5 days is plenty to see a lot of London and have a great time. Would longer be better? Sure but how long? 7 days, 2 weeks, a lifetime? The thing is to plan the time you have to your satisfaction and let the rest go. There’s always something more to see or do everywhere; enjoy what you choose to do and have no FOMO!

    5. Jerzy*

      I LOVE London! My husband and I stayed there for three days of our honeymoon before leaving to drink a ton of wine in France. We squeezed a LOT into those three days: Tower of London, Stonehenge, Windsor, Bath, and pubs, pubs and more pubs.

      I like your line about asking them to pay for an additional day or two, then just look at them wide-eyed like you genuinely think they’ll offer it up. Because unless they’re paying for it, how you plan your vacations is none of their business.

      Oh, but have fun!

      1. W.*

        That’s quite funny – Bath, Stonehenge and Windsor are outside London, so you saw a lot of the South of England. Op if you plan well I’m sure you’ll see loads – also you could turn it around on the ppl commenting and say oh have you been – what do you recommend? (Probably fine v few have been – they’re just jealous!)

    6. Heather*

      That’s what I would say! What is up with people? What difference how long you go for makes to them?

    7. themmases*

      That is weird. I went to London for a week last year and all anyone said was that they were jealous!

      That said, it is hard to see all the sights in that amount of time, and I just had to get used to telling people that somehow I went to London without seeing [big deal thing], because we were really loving something else. I’m pretty sure you could live in London and not have done everything that you “should” have.

      My partner and I stayed in the Ruskin Hotel, which is directly across the street from the British Museum, so we went there 3 days in a row until we were too tired to be there anymore, then retired to Russell Square to picnic and read in the park until dinner. We *still* didn’t see everything on our lists just from the British Museum. Seriously.

      1. Me*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s ‘plenty’ of time–I was there a couple years ago for a week and missed the Globe. On the other hand, I took a day trip to Oxford (so awesome!) so it’s all about priorities.

        Try this: “It’s better than a poke in the eye w/ a sharp stick.”

    8. fposte*

      I think it’s probably just blather, though, not serious criticism. If it’s just blather, a witty comeback (the “ha–are you going to pay for it?” type is perfect) is the right tone; if you think it’s serious criticism, I’d go with a shrug and puzzled “Okay.”

    9. Lily in NYC*

      Why would you need a witty comeback to such an innocuous comment? It’s just small talk – if someone told me they were going on a long flight for a very short trip I would probably say the same thing. I don’t understand why you think this is criticism; it sounds like mindless chatting to me. I went from NYC to Hawaii for three days and everyone commented on the length vs. the time to get there. And I agreed with them! People tend to comment on things that are slightly out of the norm, that’s all.

      1. mosquitos everywhere*

        Please trust me when I say it’s criticism. When more than one person brings it up more than once and have judgmental tones, I think it moves past innocuous small talk. Thank you other commentors for your suggestions and well wishes!

        1. JMegan*

          In that case I would go with the classic “Why do you want to know?” if you feel like engaging on the subject, or the shrug and “Okay” as fposte suggests if you don’t. If you actually do feel like they’re being judgmental or critical, then I would skip being witty and just shut it down.

          Also, have fun on your trip, it sounds amazing!

        2. Lily in NYC*

          That is weird. What the heck is wrong with your coworkers? I cannot fathom judging someone for the length of their vacation!

        3. Not So NewReader*

          “Why do you guys keep asking that?”

          “What an odd thing to say… [your voice trails off and you wander off to your next task…]

          “Why? How long do you stay when you go?”

          “Gee, a simple ‘safe journey’ was all I was really looking for here.”

          “I guess that means you are wishing me a great trip?”

          And if you really need to, you can always say, “Gee, you almost seem upset about it. Why?”

        4. TootsNYC*

          Use your tone of voice right back at them. Say, very levelly and patiently, “That’s all the vacation time I have. I’m sorry if it doesn’t meet with your approval.” And then immediately turn away and find some work to do.

          or, say, “Are you criticizing my vacation plans? I’m not sure how to interpret your tone of voice.”

    10. MK*

      Every single one of my trips abroad (all in Europe) was 4 or 5 days, and my experience was that 5 days is ideal for seeing one city (if you want to tour the countryside or visit more than one, yes, you need at least a week). 5 days is enough time to see a lot of things, but not so much that you fall into the trap of trying to see every single item of the travel guide; the limitation forces you to think about how you want to spent your time. No, you can’t see everything, but do you really want to see that British Dental Association Dental Museum?

    11. puddin*

      “You are right. It is not a lot of time. But it is what my budget can handle right now and I am still very excited!”

      “I would love to spend more time. I also want to travel as much as I can. Since this is what my budget allows for right now I would rather go and enjoy myself than put it off for ‘someday.'”

    12. BRR*

      Ugh I hate when people do this. You know roughly how much people make, you know how much vacation time your coworkers get.

      For professional responses:
      -I was able to fit in everything that I was eager to see.
      -I got really good airfare but it had to be those 5 days.
      -I needed to be back for X.
      -This is the only time SO could take off (if that works).

      For witty responses:
      -The Queen only was able to see me for 5 days instead of our usual two-week visits.
      -William and Kate only needed a baby sitter for 5 days.

    13. LOLwut*

      I was in London for seven days, and even that didn’t feel like enough! Especially since one day was basically stolen because of the Tube strike. But you sure can pack a lot into five days, especially in London where a lot of the good stuff is really close together.

    14. Steve G*

      I went on a 5-day, 4-night trip to Ireland. It was enough. The transatlantic flight isn’t SO long, the jet lag was the biggest issue. My mom’s friend used to go to Ireland for extended weekends.

      Not to mention I spent a total of about $220 per day, counting the plane, so every day counted!

    15. MoinMoin*

      Maybe a play on “I love summer in [wherever that’s chilly and wet], it’s my favorite week.”
      Like… “well, I wanted to spend the whole summer there and I’m told I am.” Or something. I’m not clever. But I AM a big fan of London and hope you have a great time. I was there less than 48 hours last time (spent time in other parts of the UK and Europe, then flew home out of London) and it was still better than not spending 48 hours in London so there’s always that. The Tower of London was very worth it in my opinion. I hope you have a great time!

    16. Intrepid Intern*

      You tell me. It’s gotten to the point that I try not to tell anyone I know when I get an interview– they’re too hopeful for me, and then they ask about it for months. It just feels like their hope is bludgeoning me.

    17. SherryD*

      I know you asked for witty retorts, but my response to idiotic feedback is usually, “Thanks,” or, “Thanks for the feedback.” As pleasantly or as deadpan as your mood allows.

    18. Cam*

      “You’re right! I think I’ll take a month of instead. Thanks for offering to cover my workload!”

      “I can’t leave my plants for more than five days or they start craving fresh blood.”

      “I don’t want to catch an accent while I’m over there! They can be so hard to treat.”

      1. catsAreCool*

        “I don’t want to catch an accent while I’m over there! They can be so hard to treat.” LOL

  8. Lil*

    How do you get over rejection and disappointment?

    I know better than to get my hopes up (over just about anything) but when I got an interview for a job that seemed so suited for me (the description, the location, the timing of it all) I foolishly thought maybe things were coming together. Oh how many times must I go through this before I know to rid myself of being hopeful at all?

    Yeah, I should’ve known better. I should know by now things like that just don’t happen for me. I’m feeling trapped and there’s no way out and it’s not going to get better.

      1. InterviewFreeZone*

        Agreed! It takes a lot of disappointment to become immune from the hurt. I have low expectations, but sometimes I can’t help but feel the sting of rejection still.

      2. BRR*

        Reading it 500 times on AAM really helped me. Having the mindset before you apply is also very helpful. Maybe I’m a Debbie Downer now, but I cringe when I see people say things like “dream job” or “the description was made for me.”

    1. Lamington*

      I feel the same Lil no matter the preparation is useless. Well hopefully we will move on to better things.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I might be taking this way past the answer that you wanted, but a CBT therapist can help, often pretty quickly, with this kind of thing. What they would do is help you see patterns in your thinking that you can shift in order to feel better. For example: “things like this just don’t happen for me” can become “I didn’t get the job this time. There were probably a lot of factors at play, and I know that I have a lot to offer”. CBT therapists are pretty good at helping you break down the patterns of thinking that are making you feel trapped, disappointed and rejected and helping you learn how to shift those on your own (without the therapist).

      1. fposte*

        I was thinking this. It’s really hard just to train yourself to be different out of sheer force of will. I think also there are some free online resources for this–I’m pretty sure Moodgym, out of Australia, for instance, has some CBT guides.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There is a lot of overlap with DBT – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and either would probably be fine.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I had this thought as well–but really only because you seem to be buying into some “universal truth” that doesn’t exist (“things like this just don’t happen for me”). And that’s just not good for you.

        And I found cognitive behavioral therapy to be pretty effective at changing thinking patterns.

    3. sittingduck*

      I’ve been there, when I was job searching for 3.5 years before the job I have not fell into my lap.

      Its hard to look from the outside and see how you actually aren’t the perfect fit for a job that you feel you are perfect for. I actually first applied for a different job at the company I now work at, but didn’t get it, I was feeling how you are now. However, now that I do work here, and see the work I would have been doing had I gotten that job, I’m SO glad I didn’t get it, I would HATE the work my co-worker does, (but she loves it) and the job I ended up with is so much better suited for me!

      Try to remember that you don’t have all the information on the job, and maybe think about it from the perspective that since you didn’t get the job, someone else who has possibly been looking just as long or longer, did get the job. Perhaps you can try to be happy for that person and just remember that your perfect job will come along eventually.

      I know its wicked hard to think this way when you are in the midst of being rejected, good luck!

    4. bassclefchick*

      I’m with you! I’ve been a temp for 4 years and have had several interviews in the meantime, but nothing ever pans out in my favor. Job hunting is such a soul sucking activity. Just know you aren’t the only one and we’re all in this together! Good luck!

    5. Malissa*

      I focus on the next opportunity. But that’s hard when they get few and far between.
      I also try to keep in mind that there’s probably a good reason things didn’t work out. Like that the boss would be horrible or something.

    6. Retail Lifer*

      It never gets much easier. The best way to handle it is to vent with other people that are going though exactly the same thing. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of us.

      I’ve applied to about 100 jobs this year. That’s resulted in interviews at only four places. One of which was a retail management job. I’ve been in retail for 21 years and a manager for 17. I didn’t even get a second interview. I had to rescind my interest in another job because the paycut + cost of insurance wasn’t doable, even with them offering me a bit more than they normally offer people.

    7. nameless cog in the machine*

      You have to just hang in there until the next opportunity for hope presents itself. I was feeling pretty down last week and this week after a phone interview that didn’t go well and radio silence after an in-person interview that I thought DID go well. A couple days ago I had a better phone screen with a hiring manager who said she’d like to schedule an in person interview as soon as she can match up all the interviewers’ schedules. It made me feel optimistic again. I know fixating on any job isn’t healthy, but imagining all the possible futures when you’re job hunting is emotionally exhausting, and we need some sources of hope.

    8. cuppa*

      I feel your pain. I’ve seen some of the hindsight that the other commenters have mentioned, and some days it makes me feel better, and some bad days it doesn’t. I think the hardest part for me is wanting it to be MY time instead of watching it be everyone else’s time.

      Good luck.

    9. Dang*

      I was there for a long time, and you have my sympathy. It was always the ones that seemed *perfect* that were the most depressing. Something will come through eventually, just keep plugging along.

      1. Art Vandelay*

        I’m sorry. I feel the same way but for my partner who is not getting interviews for positions he’s ridiculously qualified for. I just don’t understand people sometimes.

    10. Another HRPro*

      I think it is good to be hopeful, you just don’t want to build up each possible opportunity as “the one”. Being hopeful about a position actually will help you during the interview process. So don’t lose that.

      The side effect can be disappointment. For me, I personally acknowledge the let down but I don’t dwell on it. I accept it and then move on. Nothing good can come from dwelling on not being selected for a position. I also hate the term “rejection” as in “rejection letter”. They aren’t rejecting you. They are selecting someone else. (Ok, occasionally they are actually rejecting the person as they are a totally unqualified freak, but that is not the norm!) Every time you don’t get selected, immediately focus on a different opportunity.

    11. NotAFed*

      Man, I’ve been where you’ve been – so. many. times. I would apply for a job that seemed like an awesome fit for me, interview, get to the final round…and then not get selected for numerous reasons. It was so demoralizing and I was starting to get really down on myself, my skills, abilities…just everything.

      But recently things turned a corner for me. I got two offers within a few weeks and just accepted one. I had been looking for a new job for almost two years.

      I think the key is to keep pushing forward, even when you don’t feel like it or want to. It’s about applying for jobs when you’re tired. It’s about pulling that awful, uncomfortable suit out of the closet and putting it on, and going in for an interview, even when it’s the last thing you want to do.

      At the beginning of my career, someone gave me some really good advice – “Every ‘no’ gets you closer to a ‘yes.'” You’re getting closer to that yes, Lil – hang it there.

    12. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      Since I gave up hope I feel much better.

      No, really. I’m usually pretty optimistic, but whenever I’m job searching I just have to turn myself into the biggest pessimist ever, or I open myself up to emotional chaos. Give up hope. You’ll feel much better.

    13. CheeryO*

      Ugh, I’ve been there. I was so distraught last year when I didn’t get a job that I thought would have been pretty much perfect for me… it was honestly one of the worst days of my life (realizing that yes, that means I have things pretty good).

      I don’t know if my story will make you feel better, but here goes anyway: That was my second rejection from the same agency, one that I always had my heart set on. (I literally crashed my car when I got the first rejection… it was very minor, but still!) I had an interview for a third position a few months later, and I was just SO over it. I gave the best interview of my life because I just didn’t care enough to be nervous. (I was actually almost late for the interview because I didn’t even bother leaving early.) They hired me, and almost a year later, I am so glad that things happened the way that they did. My boss (who came off as a total nutter in the interview) is amazing. The work is much more interesting than it looked on paper. I’m learning so much more than I would have in the second position, and my growth potential is much better compared to the first position. (And wouldn’t you know, both of those positions ended up going to acquaintances, and they’re both total rock stars – the kind of people who you’d be grateful just to be competing with.)

      So I guess the moral is to (1) be careful about getting too attached to any one opportunity, no matter how perfect it seems, and (2) to keep at it, because you never know what’s around the corner.

    14. Dana*

      I would also love to hear the advice on this. I’m recently serious about my job search efforts and within the last two months or so have applied to a handful of positions–stretch positions, part time ones–anything that sounded like me just to get my head in the space. No interviews yet. I got rejection letters from the stretch positions (not surprised) but I am pretty demoralized by getting a rejection for the part time position at a place I really wanted to work that was possibly the lowest entry level position. I would love to work part time because I’m desperate for more work-life balance and I conveyed that in the cover letter. Really felt like “oh, you aren’t even qualified for THIS!”

    15. AE*

      Ask for feedback. The worst that could happen is that they say they don’t do that. If they do give you helpful feedback, use it to polish your act for the next one.

  9. PecanSandies*

    Early this year I started a job with a small company. The job description said I would be doing A, B and C. For a few weeks, that is what I did and was getting good results. Then the owner decided I should also be doing X, Y and Z, in which I have little to no experience. But I tried my best and used my own time to read about X, Y and Z and engage in any available tutorials I could find in order to get better. Last week the owner called me with no notice to tell me that they hadn’t set me up to succeed and that they would be letting me go, effective immediately. A few days later I got an email from a coworker who said that in addition to her own work, she was now getting my A, B and C duties dumped on her as well. She hasn’t really done A, B and C before and certainly does not have the skills required to do it, and I wasn’t asked to stick around to train her, so now she’s in a tough spot too. I imagine the owner will soon ask her to also do X, Y and Z.
    My question is what do I say when asked why I left my last job? Can I say that it was a short-term position or that my position was eliminated? The owner stressed that I wasn’t being fired for poor performance. I think it was also partially a financial decision that they couldn’t keep me on, but he didn’t say that. He also promised me a glowing reference.

    1. Ama*

      I think you’ve got an out in just saying that you were hired to do A,B,and C, and the owner decided they needed someone with experience in X, Y, and Z. You don’t need to bring your coworker into it at all (as far as anyone you interview with knows, you aren’t privy to anything that happened at your company after you left). As long as you aren’t applying for a job that requires X, Y, or Z that should be fine.

      1. Anyonymous*

        The problem is that I wouldn’t mind learning how to do X, Y or Z, I would just need to do it at a more junior level. I was basically expected to be at a manager level at something I hadn’t done before but which was related to A, B and C. If I could get an assistant or associate level job doing it, I’m sure it would be fine. I just wasn’t ready/prepared to be The Man at it.

        1. fposte*

          All of which is reasonable. “I was hired to do marketing and they expanded duties to coding. I’d love to start coding, but I wasn’t up to the level they needed.”

          1. PecanSandies*

            That doesn’t make you look super inexperienced, though? I was worried about saying that because X, Y and Z are not as different from A, B and C as marketing and coding are. They are in the same general scope, but X, Y and Z just required more skill and experience than A, B, and C. It’s sort of like they hired me to write short stories but then expanded the duties to writing full novels. I feel like to an outsider, they’d be thinking, “Why would that be so difficult to adapt to?”

            1. fposte*

              But it sounds like it’s true–you weren’t experienced enough for what they wanted. That’s okay to say.

              1. BRR*

                Yeah, you need to be honest. Changing the reason you were fired is a big no (especially if you are using the owner as a reference, which as I say below is a good thing if you were fired and can get a good reference from the owner).

                You can add where your experience level is and that they needed someone to be up to a certain level quicker than you would have been able to get there without being able to devote more time to training/you had to focus on A,B, and C and couldn’t learn X,Y, and Z to the level they needed while still doing A,B, and C.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              “Why would that be so difficult to adapt to?”

              The boss that you WANT to work for will know that making the switch is not an instant thing. Your former boss missed that point among other problems.

        2. Ama*

          I think adding that kind of clarification is fine, too — “company needed a true expert on X, Y, Z, and though I’m interested in developing my skills in that area, I didn’t have the level of experience they needed.”

    2. Beti*

      If they are piling on unrelated duties onto unqualified/untrained employees, it certainly sounds like financial problems to me – they should be hiring an additional person to do X, Y, Z but can’t afford it so they assigned them to you and then the other woman. Otherwise, can you said that it wasn’t a good fit? You were hired to do A, B, C which you are great at but it turns out they needed someone to do X, Y, Z which isn’t your area of specialty. I know it’s sometimes hard to give honest answers without sounding like you are badmouthing the company. (I’m sorry they were lame.)

    3. Jerzy*

      I think you can say your former company eliminated your position due to financial constraints.

      You might also want to reach out to your former boss and ask if he or she will be a reference for you as you look for a new position. That may also help eliminate any thoughts on behalf of a potential new employer that you have something to hide from your previous position.

      1. BRR*

        If the owner isn’t going to say it was for financial constraints I wouldn’t say it. It is a good sign to employers the owner will serve as a reference but PecanSandies needs to be in alignment with what the owner will say. If PecanSandies says they were fired for budget reasons and the owner won’t say that, it will likely prevent an offer.

        Also don’t say it was a short-term position if you are trying to imply it was a term position and don’t say it was eliminated. This was a questions I asked Alison once and she replied via email. I was in a similar position and they restructured after I was fired. They didn’t fire me as part of the restructuring, they fired me then restructured. They set you up to fail and it’s perfectly ok to say you were hired to do A,B, and C but then the owner wanted you to do X,Y, and Z and the owner admitted that when you were hired your skills in X,Y, and Z weren’t being considered.

    4. Nobody*

      I would suggest talking to the owner to find out how he plans to describe your departure. You wouldn’t want to say your position was eliminated only to have him tell a prospective employer that you were fired due to incompetence (although he probably wouldn’t say that if he offered to give you a glowing reference). It looks like he feels bad about the whole thing, so if you tell him what you plan to say to prospective employers about this job, he will probably agree to say the same thing.

      1. BRR*

        I agree with this, if you’re using the owner as a reference make sure your stories are aligned. If you have doubts about what he’ll say, this might be one of those situations where a friend can pretend to do a reference check.

    5. TootsNYC*

      absolutely, you have an out:

      The duties of the job changed from something you were strong in for something you had significantly less experience in. You gave it a good shot, and sought out online training on your own, but ultimately it just wasn’t working, so you and they decided to move on.

  10. themmases*

    I have a CV question.

    I’ve had numerous (3 and counting) research assistantships at the same institution. While some of them are short enough that I otherwise wouldn’t include them, they represent a career change for me from clinical research to public health so they do add new skills and big public health topic areas (e.g. physical activity, tobacco control) that are important in my field.

    Given that, would you list them all– briefly, of course? What about on LinkedIn?

    And would you include any information on your CV about what the program even is? Some of these projects are part of programs run by big organizations in my field (think federal organizations related to public health and medicine).

    1. Artemesia*

      I would list them as one thing — Research assistantships at Giant Octopus U and then detail the content briefly — but it is one category/line on the resume.

    2. Oatmeal*

      Here’s what I do:

      Research Assistant (Physical Activity; Tobacco Control)
      Dates (2009 – 2010; 2012 – 2013)
      Bullet points

    3. Anonsie*

      Agreed with Artemesia and Oatmeal above. Something like

      Giant Octopus U
      —Research Assistant, Project [date-date] and Project [date-date]
      —Clinical Research Assistant, Project [date-date]

      Arranging the formatting in whatever way doesn’t make it crazy long (not sure how many lines the above would give you, but you get the idea). And include some word somewhere in there that indicates what topic and type the project is (smoking cessation education, oncology clinical trial) and possibly any relevant side notes on what regulatory or funding agencies may have been involved (PCORI, FDA) since dealing with those is important experience.

      1. themmases*

        Thank you! I like this format a lot.

        I think part of my problem is that each of these are totally different PIs and research projects that happen to be housed in the same research institute. The PI and project name are obviously super important if you’re going to stay in research– more important than saying whether the project happened to live in the graduate college or a specific institute.

        Right now I have a header with the job title, institution, date, and then my first bullet point is a short project/funder description (“Illinois grantee of the CDC Land Squid Surveillance System”). Then the other bullet points are normal, accomplishment-based ones.

        1. Anonsie*

          I think that makes sense. I usually list the PI in whatever description of the project I give (“blankety blank thing sponsored by Funding Agency under Dr. Person”)

        2. TootsNYC*

          I think it’s fine to have the shorter, or less relevant/important/prestigious item be pretty cursory, and then have more accomplishments/detail on the ones that matter more.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I would list them individually, but group them if possible (but I tend to do a chronology, so that might not work if you worked elsewhere).

      Remember one other important thing they show: That you were sane and competent enough to get repeated assignments at the SAME company, over and over.
      That’s why I think you should list them individually, with their own chronology. Even if they aren’t terribly relevant, they show the reputation you’ve built inside the institution.

  11. BRR*

    So an update. At my 60 day check in for my 90 day PIP, it was determined after a screw up last week that this isn’t going to end successfully (and it was on a project I recommended too, last time I will be proactive at work). I at least get to work until my PIP is up and my manager said I can take as many sick and vacation days as needed. Also there is someone in HR who does career development and while I have heard some of his resume and cover letter advice, which I don’t agree with, he is going to help me to see if there is another position at the university I would be a good fit for. In a sense I am relieved as the PIP was causing pretty bad anxiety, now hopefully I can get an interview/hired before my PIP is up.

    1. Mimmy*

      I’ve been following your story…good luck with this. I know how it feels to be on thin ice at work. At the job I was laid off from, my new-hire probationary period was extended twice to give me a chance to get it together. My problems was more with my confidence–I never got any truly bad feedback from callers I helped; it was that I wasn’t always confident with the information / suggestions I was providing and constantly asking questions.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Aw, I’m sorry. It sounds like this was always going to be the outcome and it was stressing you out so much. It’s almost better to know and not be stressing over it. So sorry though :(

      1. BRR*

        Thank you for your kind words. It was stressing me out and I was barely staying afloat. I was close to pulling through but like the follow up letter Alison had posted from someone who survived a PIP, I feel like I would have always been on edge (not that I would have stopped my job hunt). I actually do feel so much better now knowing.

    3. fposte*

      This has just been tough. I’m glad that they’re offering resources to give you a good landing place; hopefully a better fit and a fresh start will make your days a lot brighter.

      1. BRR*

        Thank you for your support and the advice you have provided me through this tough time. At the moment I am excited about the new possibilities that are available to me.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I sure can understand why you’d be anxious. I’m sorry you are going through this; I know how much it sucks.

    5. Another HRPro*

      I’m very sorry to hear this BRR. But now that you know, you can start taking steps toward something else. I would strongly encourage you to look outside the university. It could work out well as there may be position that would be a good fit. But I would be concerned that you would have to deal with having a history of a PIP. That doesn’t mean it can’t work out and I have in fact seen situations where it all does. That just isn’t the norm. I encourage you to ramp up your job search. Good luck.

      1. BRR*

        When the HR representative suggested other positions in the university I was sort of taken aback (as was my manager), like “why would another department hire me when I’m on a PIP?” I’m definitely not counting on anything here though. I have been looking around since this all started and this weekend will definitely be full of application sending.

    6. brightstar*

      I’m sorry to hear this, at the least the stress of the PIP is off of your back now. Having worked a position that I wasn’t a good fit for and that made me feel hugely incompetent, it’s a huge relief being in a position that is a good fit. I hope you find something that’s better suited for you!

      1. BRR*

        It’s really nice at the moment getting to do all the functions of my job I like and am good at. I’m happy I get to stick around because I like what I do, I can say I’m employed to other jobs, I’m getting paid, and I like to keep busy.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. This situation so sucks. I am sorry this is happening to you. You’re level-headed and reality based. These two things will help you so much. It sounds to me that you are pretty well liked, too. (I think I noticed that before from something else you said.) I suspect people will offer leads/tips. If so then at least check it out and see if it’s anything for you. I think in the long run you will land in a good spot, even though, now is not a great time at all. Sending a bunch of good vibes your way…

      1. BRR*

        Aww thanks for such a nice message (I’m loving the compliments!).For as much anxiety as I suffer from I’m confident I will land on my feet.

    8. Vancouver Reader*

      Sorry to hear that the PIP is not going as you would’ve liked, but I found when I wasn’t performing up to par in a job, sometimes it’s better to have a fresh start.

      Good luck!

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Aw, BRR, I’m sorry to hear that! You’re so clearly a smart and thoughtful person, and I would bet vast amounts of money that you’ll look back on this someday as a blip and not anything that will define you. I am hoping good things come quickly for you.

  12. InterviewFreeZone*

    I know this has been discussed on the site before, but I want to vent.

    I was contacted by a very large and extremely well-known non profit organization about a senior level position last week. I was working so the call (around 4pm) went to voicemail. I called back the next morning and left a voicemail with the HR woman. I didn’t hear back over the next two days, so I called again…voicemail.

    Yesterday I got an email stating the position is now filled but that they would like to keep me in mind for other openings that are coming up. I really wanted to reply and say “if this is how you conduct your searches, I’d rather not be considered.”

    How rude! Clearly she had all my contact information. How do you just ignore a candidate’s calls when you reached out to them about an interview?

    1. YOLO*

      Ha! Working at an organization very similar to what you’ve described, I can say that the HR can be a disaster at even the most prestigious and well-funded institutions (it was a surprise to me and I remain baffled as to why it has not improved in the years since I was hired).
      Don’t take it personally, but do realize that it’s a red flag about where you are interested in working. If that organization is anything like mine, the same level of dismissiveness towards people on the outside (or anyone perceived to be a ‘supplicant’ or of lower rank) will pervade the workplace. It’s sad, it’s unnecessary, and it’s a compromise you’ll have to make in order to stay.

      1. InterviewFreeZone*

        That’s exactly what I tried to tell myself! But this organization is so huge! And this person is clearly doing recruiting for the entire East Coast. I’m just taken aback by the treatment. This person isn’t located anywhere near the office I would have been interviewing in, but I’m really curious if the hiring managers have any idea that this is how she’s handling applicants. To boot, weeks before this phone interaction, I was contacted via email saying I urgently needed to take a personality assessment, that took about an hour of my time, if I wanted to be considered. Ugh, just overall left a bad taste in my mouth.

    2. Allison*

      I do sympathize with people who contact candidates about positions, only to find out that, actually, the hiring manager is not interviewing any new people because they have a finalist in process. It can be a difficult thing to communicate to the candidate without sounding like an idiot, or an asshole, not to mention they may have wanted to keep you in limbo in case the finalist didn’t pan out. That doesn’t excuse ignoring you, though! They should have figured out what to say to you, and called you back the next day to break the news to you, even if it meant admitting a mistake on their end.

    3. BRR*

      Ugh I hate when employers do this. I’d leave a review on glassdoor and move on. If they ever contact you about another position you can express your concerns due to your treatment at that time.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      For what it’s worth, there can be perfectly legitimate reasons for this. She might have been out sick or on vacation when you called back and by the time she returned they’d made a hire (or were on the verge of making a hire and didn’t want to waste your time, which is a good thing).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If folks were just given a bit more context, just a few more words, then companies would be less apt to leave people with a negative memory of that company.

  13. Oatmeal*

    I am trying to decide whether I should decline a job interview that I have scheduled for next week.

    I really don’t think I’d take it if offered – it is an Event Manager role (similar to what I am currently doing) for a not-for-profit organization. THe org is lower profile than my current organization, very small, and while I identify with their mission, their events seem really kitschy and outdated (from what I’ve found on their website.)

    The pros are that it is close to home and their newly built office with river frontage is stunningly gorgeous.

    There are a couple other “yellow flags” – there is no staff diversity (all middle aged white women), their website looks like it is from 1995, and I suspect from their social media that it is the kind of place that puts a big emphasis on “everyone here is like family!”

    What would you do? Interview? Cancel?

    1. Anie*

      I might go just to see if what I was thinking played true, but if I’m wary of using the vacation time or tipping off my current company that I’m interviewing, yeah, I’d probably not go.

      1. Oatmeal*

        Thanks! I don’t think it would tip off my current job, and I wouldn’t have to use vacation time. I am basically 100% sure that I wouldn’t take the job, though, so I am feeling like 1) I don’t want to spend time preparing for this and 2) I don’t want them to call my references (because I’d hate for my references to spend time giving a reference for a job I don’t want to take.

        It’s probably self-evident, but I am feeling all kinds of dread around this.

        1. jarofbluefire*

          For what it’s worth, earlier this year I had a series of interviews in precisely this situation [your description has me really wondering if it isn’t the exact same org]. I didn’t get warm fuzzies and saw many ‘hmmm’ moments from what I found online [the Glassdoor reviews were particularly insightful], but went in with a ‘hey, these people do work for a mission that is really wonderful, let’s see what the deal is.’

          Every concern I had was reinforced by the interview process, clearly and without doubt. Since I had the time and the bandwidth, I don’t regret the effort spent, and I felt better for having my hunches validated.

          Would it be possible to hold your references’ information until such point as you were sure you were interested? I’ve taken to keeping mine to myself until I’m at the point where I’m all in, and it’s worked out very well for me thus far.

          1. Oatmeal*

            Hah – I think there are many small organizations like this one that are similar in their approach.

            They asked me to bring a list of three references to the interview… I honestly wouldn’t know how to end the interview: “Thanks for the practice interview, I’m not interested, so don’t call my references, BYEEEEE!!!”

        2. Lily in NYC*

          If you are 100% sure then cancel. Just send a nice email stating that due to some changes at work, you are no longer looking.

          1. Oatmeal*

            Thanks. I think that is the direction I’m leaning in. I’m kind of overthinking the whole thing because the entire internet says “You never know! Don’t turn down an opportunity! It could turn out great! It’s good practice!” Plus the org hasn’t done anything atrocious, it’s just a bunch of small stuff that contributes to a bad gut feeling about fit on this one.

            1. Mockingjay*

              Trust your feelings. I withdrew my candidacy from a job last week. There wasn’t anything huge as a flag. I would just be trading one small contractor company for another, both of which have lost some business in the past years (although the new one has won some work recently). The interview revealed that the position was middle rank, and the work rather rote; I know I would be bored quickly. I grabbed the offer from Current Job when I was being laid off; I was paranoid about unemployment. Had I taken a deep breath and thought it over, I would have realized that Current Job is not right for me and would have looked more. So this time I thought it over.

              I’m still looking, but I’ll probably stay here at Current Job through winter. We have some vacation planned, and I have leave saved up for it, which I will lose if I don’t use (company does NOT pay out leave).

              (Besides, if I leave, how else can I relate the latest chapter in the Meeting Minutes Saga?)

            2. Honeybee*

              I wouldn’t go to an interview for the practice, but I did continue on an interview process for a job I thought I wouldn’t take were I offered it. I surprised myself by becoming increasingly interested in the job with each successive interview. Part of it was that my first interview (a phone screen) was with an HR person but the second interview was actually with someone on the team I’d be joining.

    2. Violetta*

      I would go. Maybe they’re hiring because they’re aware of those problemss and would like to shake things up a little?

      1. Jerzy*

        That’s what I was thinking. Go into the interview with a list of ideas of how they can improve and what it would do for their image. If they like your ideas and want to let you run with them, this could be a great opportunity. If they don’t, they won’t offer you the job. It really can’t hurt.

      2. CollegeAdmin*

        I agree with Violetta. If these are things they want to change, you could be that change-maker they’re trying to bring in! I say nothing ventured, nothing gained here.

      3. Oatmeal*

        Maybe. It’s their entire event model that I find disagreeable, though. It’s all peer-to-peer fundraising, which I find completely annoying as a practice. I doubt they are going to make a major shift away from that.

        1. BRR*

          I was going to say take it until this comment. Unless it is clear they’re changing their fundraising model that is going to stay as it is.

    3. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA*

      I would go and see what they have to say. If nothing else, it’s always good to practice interviewing.

    4. Steve G*

      I would go, only because our office used to be next to an event planning place (are you in NYC and the interview in on Park Ave South ?:-)) and their website looked 90s-ish, as did the pictures, but I know they were VERY successful from word of mouth and from all of their repeat events. I guess the fancy website wasn’t necessary to attract more business. Also, not sure how “diversity” makes a company a better place to work for you, you should care about working with the most qualified people for their jobs, but this place was all middle aged Jewish women. And it was very successful.

      As per the “Everyone is family” part though, that did seem to be true:-)

      1. Oatmeal*

        This isn’t an event planning place – it is a non-profit with a health based mission. The role is managing their fundraising events.

        Regarding diversity in the workplace: from past experience, I’ve found that when everyone in the workplace has similar backgrounds, they usually bring similar ideas. In this type of situation (especially for non-profits, which are mission-based and most especially for very small non-profits), it can create a weird bubble/feedback loop where everyone is reinforcing everyone else’s ideas without a view of external context. Community engagement is a huge part of this sector, and from experience it can be hard to engage communities when those communities do not see themselves reflected in the staff or programs of the organization.

        I also personally find it more rewarding and engaging to work with people who have different backgrounds than me, so that we can help to address each other’s blind spots (which most of the time we’re not even aware exist!) That is the environment I’m coming from, so I think be comparison this would seem…. dull.

        1. Steve G*

          Well I see you cancelled but that was one example of a company that looked not great from the outside but was doing really well

          As per “diversity” also keep in mind that it comes in all forms – people that grew up in cities vs. the country, or grew up in different parts of the country or grew up poor vs. rich etc. are all going to bring different views to the table

    5. Oatmeal*

      Update: I emailed the hiring manager and declined the interview. I felt an immediate sense of relief.

      1. jarofbluefire*

        Smart move. And you just freed them up to find the right fit to focus on, and didn’t waste their time, which is always a nice thing to do for people.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        That feeling of dread was where I changed my mind. I took a couple part time jobs that came with the feeling of dread. It never got better, mostly it got worse once I took the job. Smart move, I think.

  14. Lamington*

    I’m dissapointed I had several internal interviews and nothing :( all told me I’m great, good questions but no offers. After 4 years in the same place, I feel I need to move ob where I would be appreciated.

    1. voluptuousfire*

      I can’t offer advice but can offer commiseration. I posted about the same thing last week. Interviews don’t pan out into offers and when you do get feedback, it’s positive: you interview well, you present well, you really impressed me, I can pass your resume onto colleagues, etc.

      Ultimately it boils down to that one person who decides to give you a shot and hire you and trying to find that person is frankly, a PITA.

  15. Nerdling*

    I asked last week about baking and selling cakes on the side as an occasional thing, and someone suggested making sure of the legalities. Turns out my state has such restrictive cottage food laws that the only people who can cook at home and sell it are farmers. So I’m likely going to join a group to try to get the law changed – I see no reason why the only individuals able to benefit from this type of business are those who own a farm. It hugely limits working at home options for a lot of folks and is not based on health issues.

    1. KarenT*

      Oh, that’s interesting. It wouldn’t have occurred to me since so many people seem to do it. Are you sure it’s not for health issues? I would have guessed it’s because of health inspections and public health regulations.

      1. Nerdling*

        That would have been my assumption, too, but no. Farmers aren’t required to have health inspections – the Health Department may choose to come by, but it’s not required at all. You just have to have a separate pantry/fridge for those items.

      2. Anonsie*

        I remember reading about these restrictions maaany many years ago and IIRC, they are rather antiquated regulations. I want to say it had less to do with health restrictions than protecting specific business types, since as Nerdling notes the health oversight isn’t often present for the farms either.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have heard talk here of sharing a commercial kitchen. A group of people chip in and buy or build a commercial kitchen. Then they get to use it to make their products. They can add members if scheduling permits. But the kitchen gets the inspections that are required by law and the owners/members get a commercial kitchen for their use. Membership dues cover the operating costs. I have yet to see this plan materialize. But the point is that there are others like you who would make use of a commercial kitchen if they had one.

  16. themmases*

    For a more fun question: how has stuff from your job helped you in the rest of your life? Are there any life skills you picked up specifically by working, or job-specific knowledge you can apply outside of work?

    1. Bostonian*

      Does using InDesign to lay out the program for my friends’ wedding count?

      More seriously, I absolutely hated making phone calls all the way through college and into my first job. Working an office job for a while got me comfortable enough that now it’s no big deal to call customer service, make appointments, and all those other things that would have totally stressed me out before.

      That first job was at a financial services firm, and I got a good handle on the basics of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, etc. That’s been good to have.

      1. PecanSandies*

        I still haven’t gotten over my phone phobia, and in the retail jobs I had, I had to be on the damn phone all the time answering questions. Still hate the phone.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Ha, my phone avoidance actually started after a telemarketing job. Before that, I loved talking on the phone and would do it for hours. Now, I loathe talking on the phone and dislike making even the simplest call – like ordering a pizza or scheduling a doctor’s appt.

      3. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)*

        More seriously, I absolutely hated making phone calls all the way through college and into my first job. Working an office job for a while got me comfortable enough that now it’s no big deal to call customer service, make appointments, and all those other things that would have totally stressed me out before.

        THIS. Further down in the thread I posted about temping and getting stuck with just reception jobs. I neglected to mention the ironic part of all this: phones have actually caused me a lot of anxiety at times. I used to absolutely dread making phone calls. Answering phones I’m okay with, it’s just making the calls that’s a problem. I often put off making appointments. Sometimes I just stared at the phone and couldn’t dial. It took a lot of effort to psyche myself up to just do it. I like privacy when I make personal calls. Part of the reason I put off making appointments is because I needed to do it when I was alone. And some calls are easier to make than others. It depends on the context. I had to answer customer calls when I worked in retail too. I’ve been forced just to get used to it. I still don’t like phones and I never will but I’m a lot better off than I used to be.

    2. PecanSandies*

      I’m very good at trivia having worked at a bookstore. All those 30 minute lunches reading snippets of books.

    3. Rat Racer*

      I find myself constantly putting on my consulting hat because it’s helpful, even though the jargon is obnoxious. Kids are grumpy: what is the root cause of grumpiness? If it’s lack of sleep, let’s start testing some new workflows around an earlier bedtime. What’s the right framework for an allowance system? How can we reduce the error rate on grocery lists?

      This is silly, but in general, the degree to which I need to be articulate and precise in my work life has tremendous spillover into whatever else I’m doing.

    4. Oatmeal*

      Two general life skills my work has helped me with are:

      1) Socializing/small talk (I’m naturally a slightly anxious introvert, but now I am a total pro at talking to anyone about absolutely anything. Parties are a lot more fun now!)
      2) Being able to tell people directly and honestly exactly what I want and the reasons why.

      Oh, and also negotiation… when I was planning my wedding, I was so good at negotiating that it almost felt unfair to the vendors.

    5. fposte*

      Managing people (and reading AAM to do it) has taught me a ton about dealing with people in general. The place I seem to have found it most relevant is dealing with medical facilities; I have a better grasp of what people think they’re saying behind what they actually are saying and am much better at finding ways to collaborate to fix stuff.

      The book reviewing side means I’ve amassed a crap-ton of random information; I’m sure it’s been relevant at some point :-).

    6. Jerzy*

      Waitressing has by far provided me with the best life skill of knowing when to just keep that smile plastered on my face as I calmly tell rude people what they don’t want to hear. I use it all the time dealing with insurance companies, any kind of lousy customer service reps, and even in my personal relationships.

      If you can learn how to stay calm and focused while being yelled at by customers, your floor manager and the cook, and walk back out to your table with a smile on your face, you can handle most of what life throws your way. I highly recommend everyone do some time in a front-of-house position.

      1. MegEB*

        Waiting tables was absolutely invaluable for me. I learned so much about how to deal with difficult people and I use those skills regularly. I totally agree.

      2. Red*

        I’m not a waitress, but I handle payroll overpayments and all manner of wage garnishments at my workplace–it has helped me learn to keep my composure so, so much better than any other experiences I’ve had, especially with enraged, upset, and difficult people!

    7. CA Admin*

      I was a manager at a high-end pet supply store out of college. The amount I know about pet food, nutrition, and other products is something that’s helped both me and my extended family. Cat peeing outside the litter box? Dog licking its paws? Cat diagnosed with diabetes? These are all things I’ve been able to help out with.

    8. literateliz*

      I’m an editorial assistant (largely on cookbooks) and I’ve learned a TON about food, cooking, wine, whiskey, etc. It’s improved my cooking, and when I go out to a fancypants restaurant and there’s some mysterious ingredient on the menu I’m usually the one who knows what the heck it is!

    9. Natalie*

      Despite not being a law talking guy (RIP Lionel Hutz) I’v read a lot of leases and contracts at work, which came in handy when I was buying a house. I’m also used to dealing with contractors, which I imagine will come in handy in the future.

      I suspect that mentioning that I am also a landlord kept my residential landlords from trying to pull shit on me, but not proof.

    10. Calacademic*

      I can fix a lot more things now. I probably wouldn’t take on a car, but your basic handyman stuff I can take on. Benefits of being an experimentalist.

    11. brightstar*

      Work experience, particularly retail and customer service, made me a less sensitive person. I used to cry at the drop of a hat and now I just shrug a lot of things off.

      The most fun thing I’ve learned was working in a wine department, I learned a lot of about wine, whiskey, beer, and various liquors. It expanded my palate and taught me an appreciation of wine.

    12. Bea W*

      I work in clinical trials, largely dealing with the data end but I also have quite a bit of experience on the clinical site monitoring end I picked up along the way.

      Recently I switched doctors. I handed her a pile of well organized medical records. She was ecstatic. :)

      My work skills also help me a lot with my personal genealogy research. They are two entirely different fields, but all that troubleshooting, data mining, and documentation I have to do at work really translates well to deep diving into ancestry. Working with a family tree is not unlike working with relational databases.

    13. MegEB*

      I used to work as a patient coordinator in an oncology clinic, which meant I was spending the majority of my days on the phone with highly stressed out people. Now I am a) really good at handling stressed people, and b) great on the phone. Gone is my fear of ever actually calling someone. I currently work as an admin, and I find myself using my organizational skills to help my friends and family plan outings and events all the time, especially with my mother. I love her dearly, but she is one of the flakiest, spaciest people I know, so it usually falls on me to make things happen (even simple things like dinner reservations).

    14. Z*

      I have picked up a ton of Excel skills at my job over the past few years, which have come in handy planning my wedding. It’s great- I have all these formulas set up that track how many invites we need, who’s coming, etc.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I showed my husband some very basic Excel tools I’d set up to track our mortgage and a recent non-work project, and now he thinks I’m a wizard (he’s never needed to use Excel, or indeed any programme other than email or internet)

      2. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)*

        I like playing around with Excel and I’ve actually done more with it for my own use than I have in any job. It’s a good way to learn though. Hopefully some day I’ll be able to take all the stuff I’ve figured out on my own and actually use it for work.

        I like using conditional formatting whenever possible, even that involves a somewhat complex formula and when doing things manually would be simpler. If I have some complicated formula and it spits out an answer that doesn’t make sense, I’ll pick it apart and basically go about fixing it the same way I’d debug a program. I enjoy the challenge and the satisfaction of solving a problem.

        When I was job searching, I was tracking jobs in a spreadsheet and I found some way to format it so that once I logged that I had applied for a job, it would automatically go to the top section of the table. I’ve used tables and pivot tables and formulas to compare flight options. I track my cell phone use because right now it’s cheaper to stay on a prepaid service and I’d like it to be clear if that ever changes.

        Yeah, I’m a nerd. I know.

    15. Victoria, Please*

      Excellent question. Years of college teaching means I now have zero stage fright in any situation.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      I worked in a nursery for almost a decade, that gave me a good basic education for understanding more and more about plant health and, in turn, human health because this is our environment and our food.

      But I think my richest experience has been from the wide variety of people I have met and worked with. Things that I used to think were odd/wrong/unusual, I came to realize that a lot of those things are simply human nature. My own thinking lightened up, I learned to be a little less hard on myself and skip to the part of fixing the problem, rather than waste time scolding myself. In as much as we are different one to the other, there are many ways we have similar feelings/thoughts/hopes. And my big surprise was that people can be amazingly transparent, even when they don’t want to be.

    17. Red*

      I’m awesome at budgeting, bank statement reconciliations, evaluating investment options, and filing individual tax returns now thanks to my professional training, haha. I’ve become much more confident about the little incidental day to day interactions with clerks and others during my errands. Better phone manners, too. I’m a recluse by nature, so all the phone and face-to-face support I have to provide for my day job has helped me improve my social skills and my overall confidence by leaps and bounds. I’ve also gotten a bit better at controlling my intense resting … mean face.

    18. Shannon*

      Before I started working, I was always very optimistically independent and brash. I picked up a lot of communication skills and appreciate the value of working with a group. I also understand politics, now. Not governmental politics, but, organizational politics.

    19. TootsNYC*

      I use my editing skills to edit other people’s resumes.

      And I used the InDesign/page layout skills to make a booklet of cocktail recipes for my daughter’s 21st-b’day present. But I apparently left my proofreading skills in the office, because I didn’t realize that I hadn’t successfully updated the picture on my template, and a whole bunch of them have the same placeholder photo instead of the real one.

    20. Honeybee*

      I’m a researcher that runs experiments and surveys and does statistical analysis as part of my job. My focus until recently was on health-related research.

      It’s helped in a lot of areas. Probably the biggest is spotting the flaws in science writing articles in newspapers. Another is realizing the omitted information in sales pitches and polls and such (e.g., someone will compare groups with a 51% and 53% success rate and I’ll mention that the difference may not be statistically significant or isn’t practically large enough to make a difference; or someone will cherry-pick statistics and I know enough about it to highlight what they left out and why it weakens their case). I also use it a lot to analyze marketing campaigns, which I really love, lol.

      1. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)*

        Yeah, that’s kind of like me. When I see articles that list figures like that, sometimes I’ll start thinking about any obvious things that would explain those numbers.

        One in particular that stuck in mind was about the richest group of people being men their 50s or something. The article pointed out there were fewer rich men in their 60s. Well, my first thought was that by that age, there are probably more who have gotten divorced and had to split some of that wealth.

        Most annoying thing I ever saw in an article was a pie chart showing percentages of a group of people that fell into various categories which were NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE!! The percents added up to about 200 or so. I saw this quarter of a pie that said 55% and had a good WTF moment and then I saw what the hell they were doing. *FACEPALM* That totally defeats the purpose of using a visual to display the data. I should have written to the editor and complained about that one.

    21. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      Archivist here. Among the skills I have applied in my real life – evaluating where information comes from, coming up with new techniques to do a specific task, learning more about what government entity handles a specific service, discovering weird trivia answers, and finding my way around slightly unfamiliar cities. Generally the latter is due to the path I want to take is closed or their is a major wreck, but my processing or providing reference on collections has introducing myself to alternative routes.

    22. asteramella*

      I currently work in health insurance. I learned that in the U.S. you must always, always dispute any medical bill because about 90% of them contain errors or overcharges. I now also know a lot more about deductibles, etc. and have helped lots of friends who didn’t realize how many services they are now entitled to receive for free because of the Affordable Care Act insurance reforms.

  17. Rye-Ann*

    Good news – I got an interview for Monday. Yay! Sounds like a decent position, too.

    I have a question about something they said though. I was informed that whoever gets this position will have to go to New Jersey for 3 weeks for training. (For reference, the actual job is in Maine, near where I live. It’s basically 7ish hours away by car or a 1.5 hour flight to a nearby city.) She mentioned that the “company will take care of it” or something like that but I’m not sure what that means. I guess what I want to know is this: what should I expect them to pay for, and what should I expect to have to pay for myself, should I find myself getting this job and going to that training? According to people I know, I should probably expect them to pay for everything (though I’m thinking I will probably be expected to buy my own food) – fight/transportation, hotel, a rental car* if relevant. Is this right?

    I know that just because I have an interview it doesn’t mean I’ll get the job. I just wanted to be informed ahead of time, in case it does come up. If I do get the position, it will be soon, because the training starts September 13.

    *I really hope I won’t need a rental car, or that they’ll take care of it if I do. I have been informed that renting a car requires a credit card, which I do not have.

    1. Jennifer*

      Most of the time I’ve heard that you will have to pay for a lot of things yourself and then get reimbursed…and it could be for ANY or all of that stuff. It probably depends on your company, though.
      I was up for a job that would require travel too and I was going to have that problem as well if I got it. I have a credit card but I don’t have a high enough limit to pay for a rental car and hotel.

    2. KT*

      The company will likely cover all travel, including meals.

      HOWEVER, you will probably need to have a credit card. In many companies (not all), you’ll pay for things and get reimbursed later, rather than being issued a company card. It depends on the company size and your individual role.

      1. Rye-Ann*

        Hmm…they are a pretty large company. I’m not sure exactly what aspects of the role it would depend on, but it’s definitely NOT a manager position, if that’s what you mean.

        I’ve never looked into getting a credit card, but I was sort of hoping to get a job before getting one. At the very least, I don’t know if there would be enough time between an offer and needing a card to actually get one. If it really does need to be a credit card (and not a debit card), I might be SOL. Hmm.

        1. Ad Astra*

          In most situations, a debit card will work just fine if you have enough money in your account to cover it. The benefit to using a credit card is that you don’t have to have the money available right then, and if your company handles reimbursement quickly enough, your personal finances would never be affected by work-related charges. Plus you can earn points or miles, and build your credit history.

          In the case of a 3-week training course, I would expect the company to pay for at least the hotel room upfront, but it will definitely vary by company.

        2. manomanon*

          You can definitely rent a car through enterprise with just a debit card and I pay for hotels all the time on my debit card as well. You may be surprised by how they do expenses- in my 15 person office we all have company cards but my mom’s big university employer has a one per department policy. Also at a minimum they should be able to book the travel stuff ahead of time on the corporate card or by using a purchase order

        3. Colette*

          If it’s a large company, they may supply you with a card. If you explain you don’t have a credit card, they may also be able to do a cash advance or have someone else pay.

        4. Another HRPro*

          If it is a large company, they will most likely provide you with a company credit card. However, you typically are responsible for this card and will be reimbursed for your expenses. Generally most major companies will pay for all travel related expenses (air, ground, hotel, etc.) as well as some food costs while you are away. They generally don’t pay for any personal entertainment.

        5. Amtelope*

          A debit card should work, but both the hotel and the rental card company may hold a deposit on your card if you use a debit card instead of a credit card. Even if the hotel is being direct-billed to the company, they’ll still require a credit card for incidentals (i.e., in case you run up room service bills or trash the room and your employer won’t pay.) If you use a debit card, they’ll usually pre-authorize a certain amount of money as a deposit, and you won’t be able to use that money until they release the hold.

    3. AnotherFed*

      They would probably also pay for food, or at least reimburse you up to a certain amount, but flights, hotels, and transportation are definitely the things a normal company would pay for.

      You might want to keep an eye out for a credit card you are willing/able to sign up for if you get the job, though – many companies would rather reimburse you for expenses after you have receipts, and you might not be set up with a company card in advance if the timing is tight.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      They should cover everything: flights, cab to and from airports, hotel, meals, etc. The only things they shouldn’t cover are entertainment, alcohol, and so on.

    5. Ama*

      Depending on where it is in New Jersey, you may be able to get around on mass transit and cabs.

      If the training is a regular part of the business, they probably have a regular procedure for handling those costs — especially as even if they will eventually give you a company credit card, a lot of times those take a few weeks to set up. I wouldn’t worry about it until they actually make you an offer.

      1. Rye-Ann*

        I don’t want to give too many details away, but it’s close to Philedelphia, if that helps.

        Anyway, you’re right, I probably am getting ahead of myself here. :P I just wanted to know what I should expect from them, in case they say, “You’re on your own for the hotel,” or something like that – whether that would be a perfectly normal expectation or if they would be taking advantage of me (I am pretty new to the working world).

        1. Meg Murry*

          Totally not normal for them to expect you to pay for the hotel. You might have a standard limit for meals each day though, and be expected to pay if your cost is above and beyond that. You might also be expected to put it on your own card and expense it, as mentioned above. The company probably would not cover other things that you might need in your personal life in order to make that trip – for instance, the cost of a pet sitter at home, or laundry if you wind up having to go to a laundromat during the trip.

          I agree this is getting ahead of yourself, and probably the kind of thing you would want to hammer out once you got the offer but before you actually accept it.

          My other question would be: would you be expected to stay in NJ for the whole 3 weeks? Or would they allow (and pay for) you to fly back on weekends or give you mileage and time (leave Friday afternoon, be back by Monday mid-day, for instance) to go home? Or is it “go to NJ on 9/13, come back home 10/4”?

          1. Meg Murry*

            For more clarification, most companies pay for:
            -Travel to/from the site. Either airfare + cabs, or rental car + gas, or mileage on your personal vehicle (note: if you get mileage on a personal vehicle, you don’t turn in gas receipts – that is on you, and is part of the mileage). Tolls, if applicable (ask for receipts!)
            -Travel while at the site: either a rental car, or paying for cabs or public transit so you can get to/from your hotel to the training location, and for reasonable things like going to dinner somewhere nearby.
            -A typical hotel room, like a room with a single queen bed.
            -Meals (often with a maximum amount for breakfasts, lunches and dinners). Many companies do NOT pay for alcohol though.
            -Either for parking at the airport while your car is there or for a cab to take you to/from the airport

            Usually not covered:
            -Dry cleaning, room service, runs to CVS when you forgot your shampoo, pay-per-view or anything extra at the hotel, entertainment like cover charges or going out to the movies

            Tip: you have to turn in itemized receipts for everything. That means when you go to a restaurant, you need to bring home your receipt that lists out all the items you ordered, AND you need customer copy credit card slip with how much you tipped. Many people on their first business trip lose out on a lot of money for reimbursements because they don’t get itemized receipts or don’t know to turn them in or lose them.

            1. BRR*

              This list is what I was going to write.

              Take particular notice of the meal amount. It might seem like a lot but when you’re eating out every meal your money doesn’t go as far.

            2. Rye-Ann*

              Seeing it in list form like this is perfect – thanks! This is exactly what I wanted to know! And yeah, I may not get this job, so I am probably way ahead of myself, but it still could be good to know for whatever job I do get.

        2. CJ*

          Pretty standard it seems, however, I would also expect them to at least pay for the hotel up-front. A lot of companies have contracts with hotels to allow them to be invoiced directly, too.

          Also, I don’t want to make any assumptions, but even if you decide get a credit card, the limit may not be high enough to cover all of this. If that might be the case, Alison has a couple of great posts on how to approach HR/Accounting about this situation:

        3. Amtelope*

          They should cover the hotel, your flight, cabs, meals that aren’t provided at the training site, a rental car if they decide you need one (that’s their call — often you won’t need a car, or several people will share a rental car), and any parking, tolls, or bag check fees involved. Hotel and flight are usually paid by the company up front, meals and smaller things like parking you pay and they reimburse. (Unless you’re issued a company credit card, in which case you can charge all those things on the card.)

          For meals, there may be a limit on how much they’ll pay for; they may either require you to turn in meal receipts and reimburse you the exact amount you spent, or just pay you a certain amount per day to cover your meals (in which case you can save a bit by being thrifty about where you eat.) Alcohol often isn’t reimbursed, although that varies by company culture.

    6. another IT manager*

      Everyone else has covered it, but: if you can’t cover the cost of transportation/hotel, ask your manager (if you get to that point). I had a trip this spring where I was expected to cover the hotel and expense it (which is standard at my company). Except that I don’t have a credit card, and didn’t have the $1400 it would have put on my debit card. I talked to my boss, and he basically said, yeah, don’t worry, I’ll put it on my (company) card when I get in (he was going to the same thing).

    7. once a lurker*

      Others in this thread have covered what you can expect the employer to pay for and reimburse you for. The one thing nobody’s mentioned is that some employers will give you a travel advance, so even though you’re paying the restaurants, you’re using money they’ve already given you. Good luck with the interview!

    8. TootsNYC*

      Depending where the training is in NJ, you may be able to get there via public transportation.

      They may also pay the hotel bill directly; especially if you can arrange things well in advance, that’s a possibility.

      And if she said “the company will take care of it,” I would bet she means they pay all the expenses of the trip. It would majorly amaze me if they didn’t.

  18. AnotherFed*

    The witch discussion earlier this week reminded me – what’d be your creative go-to curse (witch variety, not swear words) for coworkers, bosses, and/or clients?

    I’ve been doing lots of budget and planning stuff this week, which are among my absolute least favorite tasks, so I’m about ready to curse my PM to have Alvin and the Chipmunks singing The Song That Never Ends for as long as he has either Excel or Project open.

    1. Mrs. Audi*

      How hard is it to get into consulting at one of the big firms like BCG or Bain as a career-changer? I’m 4 years post-undergrad degree and have been working as a data analyst for the past 2 years. I have no business background. Thank you!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Hi Audi, I know this was not where you meant to post but I can tell you that those places are extremely competitive. Are you sure this is what you want? I work in a dept. that only hires from the big consulting firms and I find many of their personalities to be “difficult” at best. And the work is a grind – constant travel, long hours, and you can be fired very easily for not producing. Some firms are better than others – if I had to work for a consulting firm I’d stay away from McKinsey, BCG, and especially Bain. I might consider Oliver Wyman or a smaller niche firm. And be warned, many of them have elitist hiring practices and rarely hire outside of the ivy league (my best friend is a recruiter for Mckinsey and talking to her is eye-opening and disappointing).

            1. Another HRPro*

              They are very competitive to get into and very tough environments. Most that go and work for them view it as a launch board to do something else. Many good companies hires alumni from these firms so working at them does give your resume some weight. But, if you want to actually do consulting as a career, I wouldn’t recommend them.

            2. Honeybee*

              To add to that, most of the people who go into those positions plan to only be there for 2-3 years as a springboard to something else. It’s churn and burn – they burn their junior consultants out very quickly.

              But yeah, from what I hear it’s pretty difficult to get in as an experienced candidate. Most of the people I know who work(ed) there graduated from target schools – elite universities.

      1. AnotherFed*

        I don’t know, but karma just got me – someone was humming it in the bathroom and now it’s trying very hard to get stuck in my head, too.

    2. Emmie*

      None really, but lighting your nose hairs on fire the next time you grill might be entertaining. I instead just tell that to friends when I get irritated with my friends! :)

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Instarrhea! It’s something I made up called “instant diarrhea”. It’s more of a super-power than a curse and would allow me to be able to use my mind to cause someone who makes me mad to have instant diarrhea in their pants. Fantasizing about it is the only way I keep sane on my horrendous subway commute.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          It’s all in the timing…believe me, I have thought this through to an embarrassing degree.

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      When I was still at Exjob I used to imagine casting some kind of compulsion spell on Cruella, my bitch eating crackers, so she’d think she wanted to leave and someone capable of doing the job would replace her. Now I have left, I think Voldemort may have done that job for me with my replacements because a LOT of people are deciding to quit that place.

      There’s a job at my place that used to have that problem but Neal has now been in that role since January and looks like he may actually stick out his year long contract.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      Oh I think I must have missed this due to being away, which thread was the original witch discussion on?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I worked with someone who used to like to picture me choking the obnoxious person. Well, I was right near by, so it was handy to picture me doing this.

      My go to is: “Darwin was WRONG!”

      1. AnotherFed*

        HA! This almost made me spray the monitor. I think the Darwin comment is getting even more entertaining – we’ve got a Darwin in the office (his first name is Darwin), so maybe it’s becoming a normal name. Even if it isn’t widespread, we have waaaaaaay too much fun with Darwin cracks.

    7. honoria*

      “May you be trapped on a desert island with Merv Griffin and no dictionary”
      (not mine, and I have long forgotten the source)

  19. Ragnelle*

    Hi, everyone. I’ve had somewhat of a stressful week. We’ve started a big creative project at work. It seems like every time we do one, the workplace turns into drama-central. Everyone ends up hating each other, there are multiple very tense meetings, people threaten to rage-quit left and right, and everyone loses the ability to communicate professionally. Thankfully, the project itself usually turns out well and no one from the outside can see the problems, but then we are so burnt out that it takes us far too long to attempt another project.

    The problem seems to stem from a couple of directions. A lot of people want to have a say in the final direction of the project—the old “too many cooks” thing. Also, a couple of the people involved have somewhat toxic personalities, at least when it comes to creative stuff. Meanwhile, I’m trying to coordinate the project and keep the peace so we get it done by our deadline, and I’m about ready to pull out my hair. Yesterday, one of the key people got angry during a meeting about the director and others nixing a part of the project he was particularly excited about. He threatened to drop the project entirely. These projects are highly visible, so failure or a sub-par product is not an option, and he is very talented. So I went to lunch with him and listened to him make nasty comments about pretty muchly everyone we work with until his ego felt soothed enough he could continue working on the project. And just this morning, he walked into my office an announced that the work we did yesterday was unusable and that we’ll have to redo it all again. Ugh.

    Has anyone else ever faced this problem at work? How do you deal with it? Any advice for my situation? Do I just need to grit me teeth and bear it until it’s over?

    1. AVP*

      This sounds pretty toxic, but as the coordinator, the best thing you can do is to just keep is together, stay out of the drama as much as possible, and keep the whole thing moving forward. In my business people usually use the swan analogy – kicking like crazy under the water, appearing calm and unperturbed on the surface. Take time to breathe alone, realize it will eventually end and that in any creative endeavor, not everyone is going to end up happy.

      It would be better if there was one clear “director / decision-maker” because then you can sort of defer to them for the final sign-off on everything, and then people have a specific place to vent their anger toward if it ends up being different from their vision or if the final product isn’t good. I know I get a lot of mileage out of the line, “well, I know this isn’t exactly what you signed up to do, but this is what the director wants, so….” Sometimes people just want to feel heard and acknowledged.

    2. Beti*

      If so, first I’d say put your foot down about the personal comments. No matter how talented a person is, snotty behavior isn’t appropriate and isn’t helpful. “I’m happy to talk about the process and/or your ideas but I’m don’t want to hear disparaging comments about other staff.”

      Also, before you start the next project, can you get everyone together to address the *process*? It’s clear most people aren’t happy about the way things progress, so maybe get them involved in solving it. I’d also suggest a neutral third party to come in a mediate. Someone who can redirect when people get huffy and want to flounce out. It sounds like there are too many Type As and everyone wants to be in charge. Can you rotate who are the leads so everyone knows they’ll get a chance to show their skills/ideas?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My advice is that this is a toxic work place that could pull your health down, leaving might not be a bad idea.

      But basically, you will continue to go through this because it’s allowed. People are holding the company hostage by withholding work in order to get their way. Everyone can be replaced.
      You are dealing with a pack of very tall five year olds. Sane companies would deal with threats of quitting by saying, “there’s the door, see ya.”

      You can try talking to the big boss, but if you do not see changes in a pre-determined time frame, then for your own health make plans to get out. Probably not an answer you wanted to hear. But I would be very surprised if anything changed there. They have been doing this for a while and they will probably continue to do this.

    4. NicoleK*

      The key guy….is this typical behavior for him? Making nasty comments about others and threatening to stop work on the project. If not, then it’s perhaps a sign of how deeply frustrated he has become. Sounds like your work place is a bit dysfunctional and you may just have to grit your teeth and bear it.

  20. Not Karen*

    Anybody have suggestions for how to come up with goals on a performance review when you’re not really passionate about your career?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      In my job, we have to come up with professional development type goals and more direct on-the-job goals. If you weren’t really passionate, I’d focus on the on-the-job goals and look at improving processes to streamline your work (less time spent on work, the better if you don’t love it, right?). If you focus on professional dev goals, see if you can find a nugget in one part of your job that you like more than the rest and set a goal to build on that.

    2. Jennifer*

      “I’d like to take X, Y, and Z classes” is usually what I put down. That’s assuming that is an option at your work.

    3. Kyrielle*

      At $PreviousJob I came up with goals like “Assuming business needs allow, I will work more in X and Y subsystems to improve my knowledge of Z.”

      a) Business needs never allow.

      b) Z is a nicely marketable skill that would be handy if I were job searching in the future.

      (Here, I will probably have goals that I pick to actually improve my performance here, because I’m still learning lots of things.)

      1. TootsNYC*

        even if they’re small? For one thing, if they’re smallish, they’re probably more achievable.

    4. fposte*

      Similar to the classes–are there skills you could learn that would make you more marketable elsewhere as well as more valuable there?

    5. Hlyssande*

      This is so hard for me every year. I’ve been here for 10 years and have never been passionate about it at all and I hate the industry, but it’s a comfortable rut that pays fairly and has great benefits.

      I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. :(

    6. Kirsten*

      Can you shadow / become more involved in learning something from another department? Expanding your skill set is always good for when you’re looking for a new job.

  21. Golden Yeti*


    So, in casual communications with a former coworker friend this week, we were talking about wages at my current position. The argument management always puts forth to prospective hires (and I know because I can hear it from my office) is that in the industry we are in, the company cannot afford to pay higher rates like in other, more obviously lucrative industries.

    This old coworker said, “Well that’s bunk, because when I was working there I was making $X/hr.” The number she mentioned was $10/hr more than me, and one of the numbers usually mentioned as being too high in said management spiel. The coworker did a great job while she was here (at least I thought), but she wasn’t here even a year. I’m going on 5. And, when we don’t have someone “designated” filling that position, it’s my job to do several of its duties, along with my own. In fact, when she left, I had to take on a few projects she had been working on. Plus, I have heard my manager bragging to third parties about how good I am at this work, and how I’m doing it all even though it’s not my job.

    Talk is cheap. And apparently, my management is even more hypocritical than I thought. It is way past time to get out of here.

    :End Rant:

    1. Anie*

      That suuuuucks. I’m be steaming. There is the possibility that, after paying her that salary, they realized that was way out of their budget and should never happen again? But I always err on the side of company’s being not cool about pay.

      I mean, I’ve worked at my current place for 2 years without a raise, ever. And when the director, my boss, left, I did her position AND mine for 3+ months. They saved money on her salary so I know they could’ve bumped me up or given me a bonus or something. But nope. Nadda.

    2. 22dncr*

      And that was the universe giving you a kick in the pants to get moving! Happens to me all the time. When I’ve finally decided I need to leave I tell the universe to chill – I KNOW I need to leave and I DON’T need the universe putting it’s 2 cents in (;

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on. Sometimes we start to convince ourselves that we are comfy and a bit of reality comes dancing into the room.

    3. InterviewFreeZone*

      This happened to me. I was training and sharing an office with 2 coworkers of the same title and experience level that were getting paid 25k more than me. I was there 5 years and had been promoted into the role. They came in from outside and I guess did a great job negotiating. It’s a frustrating situation. I constantly heard “we don’t have the budget” to move my salary to market, so I just left.

  22. Malissa*

    Yesterday was really interesting. I got called for an interview and agreed to it before they would tell me the company. Had I known that up front I wouldn’t have gone. Possibly the only company I know that’s a definite wild card to work for. And their reputation is horrible.
    On the way to that interview I got called for an interview for a position I really want. They originally said it was this morning and wanted a 10 minute power point presentation. “That’s awfully quick” I said but agreed anyway because this position in more in line with my long term goals. They called back 10 minutes later and the interview isn’t until Monday. Whew! So I get to prepare this slide show on team building strategies, positive work culture, and how all of this relates to the position while relaxing on the beach this weekend. Hopefully that will provide as much inspiration as the patio where that intern wanted to work.
    Seems like everybody is in a hurry to hire.

  23. Dice-K*

    I know that federal government job applications have been discussed here before, but I wanted some clarification. I recently applied for 3 federal government positions via USAJobs that I know I would be an excellent candidate for, but I got rejected as “Not Qualified” for two of them and “Not Rated” for the third. I thought I had done a good job of tailoring my resume, but apparently I needed to go further. So I would really love some advice on the best way to approach a USAJobs application.

    –Should I literally repeat most of the phrases in the vacancy announcement in my resume? (Is that not plagiarism in some form?)
    –Do I have any hope of landing a government position if I am not already completing the exact work for the position? It seems like you need to have already done the job to get the job.
    –Should I apply at a GS-level that I know I am overqualified for, just to get in?

    Note – these positions had multiple vacancies and were open for more than two weeks, so I am pretty sure they were not targeted specifically at internal candidates.

    1. NickD*

      Oh, I’m very very happy to see this because I was going to ask a similar question. I’m finishing up an application this weekend and am looking for any advice that folks can offer. I’ve only got one that I’m applying for right now but it is a step to a dream job.

    2. GS*

      I’m in the middle of the USAJobs grind as well, though I’ve been hired in the past. In my experience, you need to be very explicit in how your prior experience matches up with the requirements, even if the jobs were different. So, if they say you need 1 year analyzing spreadsheets, you should be using the same language in your resume for every job in which you analyzed spreadsheets. (That’s really not plagiarism if you really did that work.) Make it crystal clear that you meet each and every minimum requirement no matter how small in order to get rated qualified. In my experience, you don’t need to necessarily have done the exact same job, but you need to explain very clearly how your different background fits the description. So, if they’re looking for a spreadsheet analyst, and you were an executive assistant who happened to work in spreadsheets often, you need to very clearly state that you meet the requirement because as an AA you analyzed spreadsheets Also, if this is one of those jobs that has you fill out a questionnaire about your experience, reuse their language with the dates, title, company, etc. For example:
      Q1. Do you have more than one year of experience analyzing spreadsheet data for accuracy?
      Answer: Yes. I spent more than 2 years at ABC, Inc. (June 2001-August 2003) as an Administrative Assistant to the CFO where I actively analyzed both financial and non-financial spreadsheet data for accuracy.

      Don’t feel too bad about the Not Rated one. I’m pretty sure that just means they hit an internal applicant cap and stopped evaluating anyone else. Happens to me all the time. Sigh. USAJobs can be quite the grind, good luck!

      1. NickD*

        What do you think about how many of their programs you need to have good experience with? They have Major Program A (MPA) and Major Program B (MPB) listed, both of which my current position of five years covers. They also list SubProgramB1 and B2 however and neither of these are a part of my job in more than a brief review. My experience with MPA and MPB gives me a skillset that what they are asking to have done with SPB1 and B2 would not be a problem, but I’d have to spend some time reading those regs. Which, if I get past the screening process, I will do. How should I address those?

        1. GS*

          I’m by no means an expert on USAJobs, but I think it really depends on whether they’re listing the programs as part of the qualifications (as AnotherFed’s awesome advice states: the 3-7 items at the end) or just explaining the work you’d be doing. I’d focus on the skills shared by your knowledge of the current ones and of your ability to research regulatory rules.

    3. AnotherFed*

      It sounds like you aren’t making the HR certification for the positions. This could be happening for either of two reasons: 1) the questions kind of sucked and/or HR didn’t know enough to properly screen applications against the criteria or 2) you didn’t have enough points to make the certification.

      If you really suspect it is situation #1, and you know someone in the organization or involved in hiring for the position, give them a call and tell them what happened. The hiring managers usually have the authority to do some level of re-examining of the cert to make sure it’s done right, especially if they can point to qualified candidates who did not make it through and bad candidates who did. Telling them you applied but didn’t make it can help them identify that the cert is bad. If it’s too messed up, sometimes they have to repost the position, so this may take a long time to fix (but keep your eye out for the positions to be reposted – it could happen).

      If it’s more likely to be #2, and to improve your chances of making it through even if it’s situation #1, you need to look hard at the piece of the job posting that list criteria that you will be evaluated against (usually a list of 3-7 items). They don’t tell you what the weighting is, but make sure your application materials very clearly point out your experience and achievements related to those things. In the questions about your ability/experience doing various things related to the job, you probably will not qualify unless you rate yourself at least D (do it without supervision) for most or all of the questions. You can also use the free text boxes to explain how your previous work experience is related – I don’t think that’s a mandatory field, but it’s certainly helpful and the interviewers (past HR) will read it.

      You do have a chance to land a position doing different work from your current job, but you have to clearly explain why your experience is relevant and what skills and abilities you have. I would not recommend applying too low level just to get in if the position is on the GS scale. GS scale pay increases are based primarily on time, so working their 5 years at a satisfactory or above level will get you more pay than 4 years of superstar performance, and the only way to move up quickly would be to apply for another position (assuming you’re looking to move up to the 12/13/14/15 level).

  24. LBK*

    With the whole Jared Fogle ordeal blowing up, I’ve seen a lot of people condemning Subway for not more thoroughly vetting their spokesperson. I personally find that kind of ridiculous – this was obviously so well hidden that it took years of him being in the public eye before enough scrutiny was given to reveal what was happening. I don’t think there’s anything they could’ve done to uncover this beforehand. But it just makes me generally curious how much everyone thinks it reflects on a company to hire someone who later turns out to have committed a serious crime.

    1. KT*

      Well, the informant said she had info for over ten years and kept reporting it without getting results…so SOMEONE knew and didn’t take action.

      He also spent a lot of time in Thailand, etc by himself for sex tourism trips…I feel like a company should know that’s a red flag

      1. LBK*

        Oh, I missed that – was this an informant at the company and/or someone reporting it to the company? Or to the authorities?

        1. AnotherAlison*

          She was a local news reporter who reported it to the FBI & the FBI investigated. Not clear if anyone reported anything to Subway.

          1. LBK*

            Interesting. I’m still not 100% sure I’d blame Subway for not doing anything, especially if the authorities were already involved and no charges had been levied yet – they certainly aren’t going to be able to investigate any better than the FBI would, and it would feel like jumping the gun to me to drop him just based on allegations.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              We can agree to disagree, but to me, it feels like prioritizing profits is what would lead you to “not jump the gun” and suspend his contract while the FBI investigates. I suppose the FBI is wrong sometimes, but if your company CFO was being investigated, would you let him continue being CFO?

              (I don’t know if Subway *knew* the FBI was investigating or not. I’m sure we’ll still eat there sometimes. It’s not the individual franchisees’ fault, for sure, unless it comes out that they were helping him with his “needs” but so far I haven’t heard anything like that.)

              1. LBK*

                For a company that large and a spokesperson so recognizable, I feel that even a suspension would bring too much negative attention so that if it turned out he was innocent after all, it would still permanently tarnish his and the company’s reputation. Particularly with sexual crimes, it’s extremely hard to come back from accusations even if they’re proven or ruled false.

                I know innocent until proven guilty is a legal principle, not a social one, but I still think it’s valuable to maintain as a mental tenet. Admittedly, it seems in almost every case it turns out that the accusations are true (I certainly wasn’t defending Bill Cosby before he confessed) so I can understand that it seems like a waste of time to suspend judgment. But I’d think if you were in that position you wouldn’t want people assuming you were guilty before any investigation had even been done.

                (On a side note, I’ve been watching the show Rectify lately, which does an absolutely amazing exploration of this subject. Perhaps that’s why it’s on my mind and what’s shaping my thinking here.)

                1. AnotherAlison*

                  My line of thinking is someone had to overhear something. Whether you knew the full extent of his actions, if you overheard some of the things the reports say he’s said, fire him for that! You don’t have to say anything to the public about the firing, just stop using him and have new ads. When asked, just say it was time to go a new direction. (It would depend what any Subway employees hypothetically overheard on whether they should report him).

                  I mean, the guy is visiting restaurants where 16 y.o. girls are working, independent of his work with kids through his foundation. If an adult employee regularly made inappropriate comments about LEGAL age employees, I would want him gone.

                  I wouldn’t want to destroy the guy’s life for no reason and mere suspicion, but I think it will come out that tons of people had heard him say inappropriate comments. Not the hard evidence to convict him of a crime, but enough that you don’t want him as the face of your business. (I could be totally wrong, but I sadly know a few people who have lived double lives and someone always knew all along.)

                2. LBK*

                  I guess I still feel icky about making any kind of decisions about someone’s livelihood based on hearsay and rumors – I’d actually be more willing to go along with doing it just based on formal charges being levied, but doing it based on things you’ve overheard and reports that have been made, with literally zero evidence beyond those accusations? That’s a little scary to me, unless it’s like Cosby’s case where there were a TON of accusations that all followed a very similar thread/story, so it either had to be true or a very bizarre coincidence/conspiracy.

                  Like I said, almost all of these stories do end up being true, and like you said it usually does turn up that there was someone who knew all along. But I think using that as your frame of reference really screws over the 1% of times where it’s not true and innocent people have their reputations and lives irreparably damaged because it’s almost impossible to turn the tide of accusations like that. A portion of people will always still think you did it, and it can take years to get back everything you lost during the time where everyone else believed you did it.

            2. catsAreCool*

              When the FBI is investigating someone for this type of thing, I wouldn’t want the person as a spokesperson. I might not drop the person without proof, but I wouldn’t be putting the person on the TV screen.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          One manager had him banned from her store. “Him” meaning any promotional materials with his picture on them. Corporate let her do that, too. That tells me right there that they knew something was wrong- they caved and there had to be a reason why.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Exactly! (I already typed a response once, but my browser crashed, so I’ll just piggyback on what you’ve already said.)

        IMO, someone knew. It’s kind of like Jerry Sandusky. People knew. We will find out that Subway people knew.

        I’m surprised how many people have zero intuition for this. It’s easy to say now, wow, yeah, Jared’s a creepy guy, but I can generally spot the creepy ones (I have a great example that happened this week, but I don’t want to hijack this talk). Sure, but If I’m a national sandwich franchise and this guy seems off, I might dig around a little.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          (Should say “Sure, not every creepy guy does this, but if”. . .)

          I have sadly known a few people who had similar legal issues.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But there are also probably people out there doing awful things and they’re not setting off your creep radar. It’s confirmation bias from the ones who do.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Oh, I’m sure there are. I will say I’m quite a pessimistic person and tend to assume the worst, so it is easy to say “I knew it all along” when you assume everyone has a dark side. I really am bad. I google everyone.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      I only hold a company accountable like that if it’s apparent they were willfully ignorant of ongoing suspicions, but that doesn’t seen to be the case here.

      I think people might be hitting Subway harder because Jared wasn’t just the guy you see in commercials, he was paid to go talk to students and be the face of public health campaigns. I think somehow this makes it worse for people. I can’t see the same backlash if it were the “Can you hear me now?” Verizon guy.

    3. Jennifer*

      I don’t think it reflects badly on Subway. The guy probably looked like a marketing dream at the time, and being into kiddie porn is pretty rare.

      On the other hand, if you know you’re into kiddie porn, why did you start seeking fame and fortune and attention when that only makes it more likely that people will find out that you like kiddie porn?
      On a related note, there was someone who was a Big Deal Around Here/minor celebrity in a community I’m in that got busted for porn and the same applies to him. Apparently he’d been a total ass to his ex and terrorized his relatives and came on to a lot of young girls, but it was all getting hidden until the bust. I thought the guy seemed mean and I only was ever around him because certain friends of mine were into his work, but even I wouldn’t have guessed he was into THAT–even if his last girlfriend looked to be 25 at most and he’s at least over 50. Which is a red flag to me, but at least she looked legal.

      1. Allison*

        People have to realize this isn’t like the “good ol’ days” where rich and famous men can do shady stuff and get away with it, it’s 2015. We have smartphones with multiple communication platforms beyond the “text” app every phone comes with, not to mention social media, forums, and the internet in general, and people who know how to hack basically anything. If you do something bad, you will probably get caught, and especially if you’re a public figure, that information will be leaked at some point no matter how much money you toss around to cover it up. You can be a creep or you can be in the public eye, but you really don’t want to be both.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep, and now that I think of it, Jared started being famous when everything really wasn’t as connected. He might have thought he could get away with it.

          I also think some creeps think everybody else is secretly a creep, too, and don’t realize they’re as far outside the norm as they are.

          1. Allison*

            Seems to be pretty common, really, people defending sketchy behavior by arguing that lots of people do it.

            1. Blurgle*

              This isn’t restricted to creepy behaviour, though; people generally assume everyone is like them until proven otherwise.

              For a non-creepy example: people who loathe “political correctness” and are open about it generally believe that most people agree with them but are too cowardly to stand up for The Truth. It never seems to occur to them that those who object consider the Politically Incorrect Warrior a big loud-mouthed lying bully.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I don’t think it reflects badly on Subway. The guy probably looked like a marketing dream at the time, and being into kiddie porn is pretty rare.

        I’ve never worked in a fast food place but it seems to me that corporate level and local franchise owner are not the same thing. If I found out that a local Subway owner was arrested for child-related abuses/offences, you bet I would never go to that location again if I had been a customer before. But, I’ve never gone to Subway because of their pitchman or advertising — I always thought Jared was kind of creepy and never understood why that campaign lasted as long as it did. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at someone and thought “that guy is into kiddie porn”, it’s just not something that I automatically go to and I imagine most people don’t think that way. Yes, if Subway corporate knew and did nothing, that’s horrible and on them. But I don’t see how punishing the local owner/operators would be useful.

    4. Could be anyone*

      Too many people fail to realize you don’t know what you don’t know till you do. A background check is only going to show what someone has already been caught doing, not what they are doing or might do. The only way to avoid embarrassment is to either never use real people or find those people from Minority Report who can see future events to vet everyone.

    5. peanut butter kisses*

      Subway isn’t the best at looking closely at people they want to be associated with their brand. Google how they awarded Michael Vick a good sportsmanship award after he got out of prison. I know many people who are still boycotting Subway over that. Subway never apologized for that one.

  25. Elizabeth*

    Got invited for a third Skype interview for a great-sounding position. The strange-ish thing is that the company is in my town, as is everyone who’s been interviewing me. This particular company puts a huge emphasis on finding the right fit, so their hiring processes are notoriously long, but man, there’s a part of me that is saying, “Invite me for an in-person already!” Also, there’s only so many “appointments” I can have when it comes to coming in an hour late or leaving an hour early at my current job before it’s going to start raising suspicion.

    I know I shouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth, just a minor vent in terms of an otherwise good week. :)

    1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

      Other excuses–you have to get a blood draw for cortisol level and it has to be done between 8-10am.

      1. Elizabeth*

        That’s a good one! I just heard back–interview is at 8:30am. They said it will only take 30 minutes, so worst case scenario I’m in by 9:20ish (I work 9-5). My supervisors don’t usually roll in until about then anyway.

    2. Lia*

      It’s amazing how your plumbing can develop sudden problems first thing in the morning, requiring you to go in late! ;)

  26. Ad Astra*

    My boss is looking for suggestions to make our work environment more fun, creative, and comfortable. Our company’s culture overall is very buttoned-up, our office is visually appealing but virtually silent, and our industry is very traditional. But my department is marketing, and our office isn’t a great environment for that.

    My biggest gripes about working here are the puny vacation packages, the very formal dress code, and the fact that most employees (excluding marketing) can’t access social media or other “non-work” websites on their computers. None of these things is an option to change, so I’m at a loss.

    Should we just turn on some music or what?

      1. Ad Astra*

        Well, it’s kind of a conflict between the culture of our department and the culture of the company as a whole. None of us have worked in our current industry before, so we’re used to more casual, creative, collaborative workplaces. My coworker has suggested things like spirit weeks and scavenger hunts and different kinds of games, but I worry that those would start to feel like forced fun.

        We talked about bringing some kids in to trick-or-treat around Halloween, but there’s no way we’d be allowed to wear costumes.

      2. Windchime*

        Sounds like they don’t want fun so much as they just want people to appear to be less unhappy. Of course, the answer to that is usually making sure that people have generous pay and benefits (including vacation and sick time), as well as loosening up the dress code for special occasions. For instance, we are allowed/encouraged to wear Seahawk gear on the Friday before a home game in our office.

        But yeah. Saying “let’s make our office appear to be more fun while still keeping everyone on virtual lockdown” isn’t probably going to yield a bunch of good ideas.

      1. Ad Astra*

        As a company, we’re allowed about 3 dress-down days a year as part of various charity things. I don’t think we could get the big boss’s approval for anything more than that. It’s a real sticking point around here, for reasons I don’t understand.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I don’t think there is a budget, but I’ve considered suggesting food or something. We already benefit from plenty of leftovers and treats on our floor (free food at least once a week), and we have a floor-wide potluck every other month. Our company provides soda for meetings, but it’s supposed to be a nice thing to offer guests or a rare treat for an employee who’s been in meetings all day.

        I’m trying to lose weight and encouraging people to bring junk food in probably won’t help my efforts, but it would kind of add to the fun factor. Especially if employees weren’t tasked with buying or cooking it.

        1. fposte*

          If your boss can’t change any of the restrictive policies *and* can’t spend any money, I don’t think there’s any way to significantly perk things up there long-term.

          1. Ad Astra*

            It’s more likely that he can find some money in the budget than that he can relax the policies. Our dress code is mostly devised by our company’s president, who has forbidden men to roll up their long sleeves in the summer because he “doesn’t think it’s a good look.” (They’re also not allowed to wear short sleeves.)

            It sounds like free food might be our best bet.

      2. Allison*

        Seriously, don’t underestimate free food. My company started giving us free bagels on Monday and I can’t speak for everyone, but free bagels are awesome! As is free pizza. And routinely being given free bags of pirate’s booty and cheez-its is great too. I don’t need alcohol, just gimme cheese!

        1. Kelly L.*

          Seriously. I realized, after posting “free food” as one of my “bests” upthread, that free food figures in several people’s bests.

    1. pony tailed wonder*

      We have been having fun with the buy two brands of junk food and taste test to see which is the best – i.e. Pringles vs. Lay’s Stax – get one from each flavor and do side by side taste offs. The Lay’s Do Me A Flavor thing where they have the 4 new flavors auditioning this summer to be permanent was also popular. Store brand chocolate chip cookies vs. Chips Ahoy, etc. Everyone wants to have their opinion listened to and it is fun and cheap to do.

      1. pony tailed wonder*

        By they way – no clear winner in the Do Me A Flavor except only one person liked the Gyros flavor, other were spitting that one out. Pringles vs. Lays Stax – it was half and half. Store brand vs. Chips Ahoy – Chips Ahoy until the cost difference was told and then people went about half and half.

  27. bassclefchick*

    It happened. My contract got cancelled. Today is my last day at my current assignment. Of course, this is not shocking to me since 165 people got laid off last week. It was just a matter of time. The permanent employees are still worried about their jobs. Some think that this location will be closed within 5 years. So, it’s probably for the best.

    On the plus side, I already have a new assignment! I’m going back to a company I previously temped with. They really liked my work and I’ve heard they’ve been asking if I’m available. I just talked to my old boss yesterday and he said they have a position for me! Yay! AND they are going to pay me more than the last time I was there! Yippee!!!

    I don’t have a firm start date yet, but that’s OK, at least I have something and I won’t have to file for unemployment. I’m getting rather burned out on being a temp and always worrying about when my assignment will end. I’m going to have to buckle down and start putting out resumes for permanent positions and hope that I find something soon.

    1. littlemoose*

      I’m happy to hear that another door opened for you right away. It’s great that the previous company wanted you back – you must have been awesome there!

    2. Mel*

      By chance, are you at the location in the land of cheese? What’s your area of expertise (marketing, food science…) If you are, I might know of something that might work for you.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I AM in the land of cheese! I am mostly administrative and worked in the transportation department.

        1. Mel*

          Don’t know if this is too far for you- But there is an Irish company (named for a county in Ireland) that is in Beloit that is looking for people. Knowing where you came from, you have an advantage (there are a few people there from the land of ketchup from earlier).

  28. Isben Takes Tea*

    I’ve just been put in charge of hiring our department’s interns, and so I am reviewing cover letters and resumes (and interviewing) for the first time.

    All I can say is do everything Alison says! It’s amazing how being on “the other side” shifts your perspective on what works and what doesn’t.

    I’m also eternally grateful for all the advice here on how (not) to conduct interviews–I’m grateful to my manager for this opportunity to gain management experience, but she didn’t give me any tools to do it with! I actually found this site by Googling “how to conduct an interview,” and I feel much more confident about what I’m doing after reading posts here for a few months.

    1. Oatmeal*

      Every time I review application materials it makes me feel soooooo good about my own. It is nuts the things people will send, and how people with no apparent experience will apply for anything and everything. (I had someone with only retail and fast food experience apply for a senior level director job this year. It made me wonder why they even took the time…)

      1. TootsNYC*

        yeah! When I was in college, I won a prestigious internship in my industry. I come from a dinky little state school (not even a dinky-but-prestigious private school!), and most of these internships go to high-profile colleges.

        Years later, I was asked (or volunteered?) to review the applications from that year’s crop. I felt SO good about my own application packet.

    2. SL*

      Because of Alison’s advice, I wrote an incredibly customized cover letter for my current job. My boss still refers to what I wrote about, or will say “I remember that from your cover letter!” when things come up related to some of what I wrote in that opening paragraph. And even now, when I review resumes and cover letters, I look for things that I wouldn’t have known to look for if it weren’t for this blog.

    3. BRR*

      Being on the other side is some of the best help when you have to job hunt yourself. I wish everybody could experience the process.

  29. GOG11*

    I interviewed for a job yesterday. I’m not actively searching by any means, but this job seems like a great fit. It would move me in the direction I want to go, it would allow me to do the things I enjoy about Current Job without most of the stuff I loathe, and it would allow me to work with a manager I’ve worked under before who is AMAZING. I’d also have an office. With a door. O.M.G., people. My very own door.

    The hiring manager called me yesterday evening to follow up, see if I had any other questions, and to see where I was at with things (what did I think about the position sort of stuff). I wasn’t able to chat, but we’re scheduled to talk this evening. She did say in the voicemail that I interviewed “exceptionally well” and I’m optimistic. At this point, I’m going to brush up on etiquette and logistical stuff for potential next steps, but assume I’ll keep on keeping on where I am.

    1. Beti*

      An office with a door sounds delightful. I’ll be moving into an office job in another year or so (I’m currently working in an A&D facility) and I’m really afraid I’ll end up in an open office at one of those long shared desks. I just cannot relate to anyone who says they hate offices and like the huge open spaces. I can manage a cube but a cavernous noisy office? That’s going to be difficult transition. Good luck!

  30. Retail Lifer*

    What are your thoughts on applying for another position in a company when a decision hasn’t yet been made about a different position that you recently interviewed for? I made it through all of the interviews, sent thank you emails, and was contacted for some more information for a non-retail job (finally!). That was two weeks ago. I sent a follow up email this morning and although she assured me that the position hadn’t been filled yet, the recruiter’s usual friendly, casual tone was replaced with a canned response. I know the rule about mentally moving on after an interview (and boy, has that helped with all of the rejections), but I don’t want to do anything that MIGHT even SLIGHTLY jeopardize my chances at this job. It has been literally the only job that I’ve gotten this far in the process with that wouldn’t involve a big pay cut and would actually be a great career opportunity. The other job is at a different division of the same company and I would be dealing with the same recruiter, but probably not the same upper management that I already interviewed with. I don’t want them to think I’m not interested in the original job anymore, especially because I know at the last step it was down to me and just a couple other people. Is there a chance that it might come off the wrong way if I apply to this other job before I’m officially rejected for the first job?

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Hmmm.. I think there is probably a way to do this, but I don’t think I’d officially apply for the other job as a first step. How about sending an e-mail to the recruiter like, “As I’ve learned more about x position, I’ve become even more excited about working for your company in this role [because…]. I saw that you are also hiring for y role, and I wanted to let you know that y interests me as well [because…]. I wanted to let you know that I’m very interested in being considered for both. Since I have an application pending already, I wasn’t sure of the process for expressing my interest in the y position, and I didn’t want you to mistake my interest in y for a lack of interest in x. Perhaps this e-mail is all you need, but if there’s a better way for me to communicate that I’d like to be considered for both x and y, I’d appreciate your sharing that with me. Thank you [blah blah].

      You can probably word that more efficiently – I didn’t really edit.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I’m half tempted to cut and paste that and just edit out the blah blah blah part. ;)


        1. BRR*

          This is a tough situation and I like Ashley’s message. If you can I would try and wait with your application materials ready to go.

    2. PhoenixBurn*

      Apply. It won’t necessarily hurt your changes, and if it’s a different division, then you’d have a different hiring manager. Good luck!

    3. Jennifer*

      I doubt it, no job is certain any more. I’d apply for the other one too just in case.

      On the other hand, if they didn’t pick you for the first job, it’s entirely possible they’ll pass information about you to the people hiring for the second job.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I think you could just say, “I saw the other position, and would like to apply for it, but I’m hesitant, because I don’t want you to think that I’m not really enthusiastic about Job A. Job A is the one I would prefer, and I’m very interested in it. But if somethign doesn’t work out there, I don’t want to lose out on the chance to be in the running for Job B. What would you suggest?

      Just bring it out into the open and acknowledge it. There’s no reason to hide it.

  31. Eugenie*

    Any other museum or non-profit have problems with their Marketing departments? I’ve had ongoing issues with territory for years with the Marketing team being convinced that it’s their job to tell my team (front line visitor and programming staff) what to do and how we should develop our programs. This all came to a head this week with a pretty contentious meeting between me and the Marketing VP. They keep claiming they’re thinking is totally standard, but that hasn’t been how planning or programming has worked anywhere else I’ve worked and now it’s got me wondering if I’m just way off base with my thinking

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      My understanding is that planning and programming is decided first, and then marketing figures out how to…market…that.

      I can see that if the marketing department has been burdened with bringing in X demographic, they would best know what X demographic wants, and would then inform the operations side what needed to change. Maybe the marketing VP feels like this is the case?

      Maybe a follow-up discussion would be helpful so everyone understand everyone’s goals, and where those goals are coming from (self-initiated or from higher-ups).

      1. Hoopdeedoop*

        I am marketing/comms for a museum, and since starting I’ve been trying to be very delicate not to control programming etc. because we have super talented people here who a) do that way better, and b) know the missions and subjects way better. They come to me for how to reach target audiences, how to communicate, how to strategize and implement etc. I enjoy being invited during the planning stages and NOT advising on the programming itself but adding input on how we can communicate and cross-promote everything we do.

        IMHO There are two thoughts to marketing, the one you mentioned above where a program/product is created and then marketers market.
        My approach to marketing is kind of Purple Cow, in that half of the marketing is in creating a totally killer program/service/product with marketing “in mind” from the beginning. So maybe that’s where the conflict comes in – because marketing want to create a program that they know they can market. I’d love to do that, sure, but the people where I work are so freaking creative that they tell me an idea they have and I say “I can totally market that – do it!” And the conversation flows from there.

        Having said that, it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes the programs are rigid and hard to promote and my suggestions for changing language are shot down. And sometimes I’m viewed with suspicion because of previous conflicts before my time.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          I agree that the whole system works best when it’s a top-to-bottom partnership.

          I work in publishing, and the marketing team participates in discussions of whether or not an editor should acquire a book so they can provide feedback and suggestions about how the book could could be marketed. It’s ultimately an editorial decision about what books get acquired, and once they’re acquired the marketers have to do their best with it, but the editors know that the marketing team knows their stuff and values their input from the beginning.

    2. Bekx*

      I’m not in either of those fields….but I know in jobs I’ve worked the events/programming person has been under marketing. Take my comment with a grain of salt, but if the VP is from a different background….that might be why there’s tension.

    3. Marie*

      I work in a museum and our marketing director frequently creates events herself with no input. Our director thinks everything she does is gold so he okays everything but to me, marketing should be marketing existing events, not creating more work for everyone else. Maybe museum marketing just attracts those type of people?

      1. Kelly L.*

        Ugh, I’ve experienced something similar. Marketing would create events “about” our department but not tell us, and then we’d get all these calls and sound like idiots.

      2. Eugenie*

        So glad I’m not the only person with this issue! My events team works insanely hard on all of their programs and the marketing vp just likes to poke holes in everything and is now suggesting re-working how our teams work together (to give marketing way more leverage, of course). I’m putting my foot down and saying they have no place in that process, plus our events have been super successful in terms of audience growth, revenue, efficiency, etc — why re-invent the wheel when everything’s working pretty well!

      3. Hoopdeedoop*

        I’m a museum marketer and never do that, so I promise we are not all like that! I take an existing event/program and find a way to fit it in with our marketing goals.

    4. Oatmeal*

      YES. We had this exact problem. The communications department wanted wayyyy more control over things than they should have. It got to the point that they were basically changing program guidelines for “grammar and flow”. They also tried to impose overly perscriptive proof reading and copy editing guidelines on us that interfered with everyone else’s deadlines and work styles.

      The solution (which won’t help you) is the the manager in charge of the department decided to move on of her own accord. We have a new director now and she is soooo much better. She sees her department’s role as communicating the work that other teams are doing. Her team (same people) is now supportive and helpful. It is way more functional.

      So… that doesn’t help probably, but I definitely commiserate.

    5. Samantha*

      I’ve worked at several nonprofits, usually on the marketing/communications side, but most recently in programs. And in almost every job there were issues between the two departments. It’s been interesting to see both sides of it. It should be programs staff developing the programs, but sometimes marketing can feel like they’re not given the information (or the information in a timely manner) to be able to do their jobs. I hope you can sit down with the marketing VP and really get to the bottom of what the issue is and why they feel they need to be involved in program development.

      1. Hoopdeedoop*

        Yes, there have been times where me (as the marketer) know an event is approaching and we need to get the word out, but with few details to go on, which is a nightmare. So I have to make it up, and then suddenly I get revised copy because what I did was totally wrong …

    6. Anonsie*

      Oh bzzzzzt if marketing could handle doing expert museum programming, we wouldn’t have people who specialize in museum programming. It’s a separate job for a reason.

    7. Ragnelle*

      It’s good to hear that other organizations have existing tension between marketing and programming departments. My workplace is doing much better with it now after the director stepped in to make sure everybody was clear about their roles, which means that the front-line staff plan programs from A to Z and are responsible for passing the information on to marketing in a timely manner so the events are promoted. I don’t think the initial problem was anyone’s fault; in fact, part of the issue was that the program costs were coming out of the marketing budget (?!?!?, I know!) when our current marketing person got here.

      Because she enjoys doing programs and because our organizational structure allows it, our marketing person is responsible for planning a few very big events every year. Other departments plan programs for their area, but anything general interest with large crowds falls under her purview. It works for us.

      I would definitely recommend that you do all you can to get everyone’s roles clarified. Our situation got pretty toxic before the director stepped in, and the fallout lasted for a few months, which wasn’t a good situation for any of the employees involved or the people we serve.

    8. BRR*

      That’s highly unusual but honestly I think a marketing department weighing in would be nice in a certain respect. I used to work in the development department of a performing arts organization and we could tell you what patrons liked and didn’t like but programming never asked us. And this wasn’t some huge shift where we would have strayed super far from our mission. I could go through the calendar and pick out what wasn’t going to sell well and what donors wouldn’t enjoy.

      But really one department should be careful when telling another department what to do unless it’s something like finance giving instructions on how to write out their budgets or something.

    9. AE*

      Whenever you hear “Marketing” think “Fund-raising.” That’s their true goal, whereas yours will be more in line with the organization’s mission. Try being cynical with this manager and ask if there’s a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow. Or, ask how you can fit in an educational component into a marketing gimmick that isn’t jiving for you.

    10. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      In the information cluster (and other fields if we’re honest), the marketing department might see their job as a was to make what the museum does as cool as a theme park or latest video game. This can often clash with professional standards and expectations. We’ve had to push back many times when the marketing department wants us to let people into the stacks to demystify what we do (but not schedule tours or work with us to create materials). Or turn the temperature up because people are cold.

      I tiamge these marketing people or upper management people go to conferences and hear what others are doing, and think these new ideas are the norm and are applicable in every situation. Why can be done? The best thing to do is to “educate” the marketing department. Frame this as getting on the same page. This will take a long time and will be painful at times.

  32. LibrarianJ*

    I’m concerned I may have made a goof at work, and I’m hoping to get a sense from other folks of whether this was as big a gaff as it feels, and any suggestions for turning things around.

    My department offered a workshop in June for folks from other departments, and during this event it became clear that one faculty member was very disgruntled about our services (at first glance, it seems a combination of legitimate complaint, poor lines of communication with previous staff and unreasonable expectations on his part). I’m the liaison to his area and he was interested in setting up a meeting to see if we could address his concerns. After some back and forth we arranged a meeting for July. However, I came down with some sort of respiratory thing and the day before the meeting, I woke up losing my voice — I could speak, but with some difficulty and discomfort. I went to the doctor immediately and she advised resting my voice as much as possible. ‘

    Here’s the part where I think I screwed up: I don’t think there’s much room for error in a situation like this, so normally I would have pushed through the long meeting anyway and dealt with the consequences / taken care of my voice later. Unfortunately, this meeting was also about a week before my wedding, and there was a good bet that if I pushed myself I wouldn’t heal in time. This, of course, also meant that I had several days of vacation scheduled over the next few weeks. While I also thought I might wake up completely voiceless the next morning, I admit that the wedding factor probably influenced me more than it should have, and after checking with my supervisor, who said it was fine, I explained the medical circumstances and my upcoming leave, and asked to reschedule the meeting. The individual said that that would be fine and we could reschedule when I returned to the office. I reached out via e-mail (usually the best contact method over the summer) on my first morning back. Unfortunately, that was 3 weeks ago, and I still have not received a response. I am now beginning to despair that I made a huge error in rescheduling, personal life be damned, and that I have missed my opportunity to repair our relationship with this individual.

    Is this an accurate way to look at what happened, or am I being too hard on myself? Friends say that I need to stop writing off my personal life, but I’m not sure that my personal life should have taken precedent here, particularly with something like a wedding that doubtless calls up all kinds of stereotypes about my youth and gender. And if I did screw up, is it out of line to persist in emailing the individual again, or would that be annoying and do I need to wait for a response?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      You are being way too hard on yourself. You were sick, then you were on leave. You reached out immediately after coming back. I’d reach out again, but there’s no need to kick yourself.

    2. Sadsack*

      I think you are being overly hard on yourself. You were sick. You reached out to reschedule as soon as possible. Why not write again asking if he wants to schedule, or just pick up the phone? No need to be overly apologetic though. Stuff happens.

    3. LCL*

      You are being too hard on yourself. You were physically ill. If it is possible, I would go to the guy’s office with a copy of my schedule and work with him to set up the date. Sometimes email just complicates things (said the person who just sent an email that reads like it was blaming many people for a minor snafu, when it was my fault)

    4. Bostonian*

      It sounds like you’re being way too hard on yourself. Being sick and having things previously scheduled are totally normal, and meetings like this have to be rescheduled all the time.

      I’m not sure about your institution, but you mention that this is a faculty member so I’m assuming a university. Lots of the faculty in my department are all over the place in August, either taking time off or traveling for research, conferences, etc. You might try reaching out again once classes start in September – a lot of people are disorganized and just won’t reply while they’re on the road, or when they know they won’t be able to schedule anything for a few weeks anyway.

      You could also try checking in with someone in his department about whether he’s even in town – he might or might not have an assistant of some sort, but there may be an admin for his lab/research center/department you could ask about the best way to get in touch with him or get some time on his calendar. That’s pretty situation-dependent, though.

    5. fposte*

      In addition to the emotional component–if you’re in the US, and you were trying to get a faculty member in the summer, I’m not surprised you’ve gotten no response yet.

    6. Oatmeal*

      That all sounds totally normal to me. It is very, very, tough to schedule things in the summer.

    7. TCO*

      I don’t think you did anything wrong at all! You are way, way, overthinking this and being far too hard on yourself.

      It’s not surprising the faculty hasn’t gotten back to you, and for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Maybe he just got over his frustration–events/conversations have a way of bringing things up that aren’t really that big of a deal day-to-day. Maybe he’s preparing for the semester, or on vacation, or meeting a big research deadline. Maybe he’s just not that good at responding to e-mail.

      I’d call or e-mail a second time to reiterate your openness to meeting, and then the ball is in their court. You could always find an “excuse” to stay in occasional contact with this faculty member throughout the year so that he knows you’re responsive and willing to meet should he want that down the road.

    8. AE*

      Wouldn’t a faculty member be really really busy about now, with syllabi and faculty meetings and whatnot? Or squeezing in a family vacation before things get crazy?

      1. Red*

        Seconding this – August is the last month of summer sabbatical style stuff for our faculty. Not to mention that faculty seem to perceive time very differently, ha.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Let’s pretend this is your error. It’s NOT. But just for argument’s sake let’s pretend it is. You still can’t unring the bell. You can only move forward, which means call the person. Or if he has an office, maybe consider going to see him.
      See? No, matter which way you slice this one the answer is still the same. Pick up the phone, apologize if you must and continue forward.

      When something eats at me, the way this is eating at you here, I have to develop an action plan and start my plan. I can’t let it fester.
      I had a problem that someone needed x from my boss. Technicality speaking, I should have filled the request, but because I was new to the job there was no way I was going to be able to sort all that was needed to fill the request. The man made the request THREE times. A huge no-no in my arena to allow that to happen. Finally, one day the boss and I dropped everything and worked on the request. We completed the work. I hand-delivered the work to the man several towns over. I made sure he had the information he wanted and I answered all his questions (this took about 1o minutes). It was enough of a gesture to turn that whole situation right around.

    10. TootsNYC*

      I’m sorry–that can’t possibly be a big mistake. Not in a fair world.

      I think the mistake was in not following up at week 1; you’ve waited 3 weeks for a response, and I think you should have pinged him after one week.

      But, no biggie–ping him now. And ping him every 3 days until you get it on the calendar.

      1. TootsNYC*

        oops–saw the faculty schedule notes. So ping him now, and include in that a plan to ping him about 3 weeks after classes start. Maybe even suggest a set time to meet.

    11. ModernHypatia*

      Totally in the ‘this is totally normal summer weirdness scheduling’.

      I’d try reaching out one more time by email, and then, if you don’t hear anything back, either stop by in the first week of classes (can you find a time when you’re pretty sure he will be in his office? Like the tail end of public office hours?) with something you think he’d like. This can be something like coffee or candy, if you happen to know the person likes it, but a copy of an article that’s right up his alley, or a “Hey, we’ve got a little money to order things in your area” or “I’ve got some ideas to help with [project he cares about/class he teaches].”

      And then a “I really do want to talk more to you about that thing, over the summer, so I can understand your concerns and see how we can make things work better. I’m really sorry I had to cancel on you, but here’s when I’m free the next few weeks.” (make sure you have your calendar handy!)

      You can do the same thing by email, too, but sometimes stopping by helps – both with making the person feel you really do care about sorting it out, and especially with someone who feels their concerns have been ignored/etc.

      1. Thinking out loud*

        +1 to stopping by his office if it’s possible. That had lots of benefits – he knows you value the meeting, you can see whether he’s annoyed, and you get the meeting set up immediately.

  33. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

    I’ve been waiting for this thread for days!

    I have a Skype interview for a part-time job next week, and I have a question about the etiquette of where to take the call. A couple of things to note up-front – I need to take the call during the work day because of the availability of the interviewer, and it needs to be a video (rather than voice) call because the position itself is Skype/video-call-based, so asking to do the call as voice-only is out. While my full-time job (which I plan to keep) has no explicit policy against taking on additional part-time work, most people with second jobs tend to keep it very quiet, so I can’t do the interview at work, and I’d rather not do it from a local Starbucks or whatever because of the risk of someone from work walking in and wondering what I’m doing.

    Is it ok to video-Skype from my car? I will, of course, check to make sure the tech side of things works out before I take the call, but I’m worried it will come across as weird. If it’s not ok to do this from my car, any other suggestions of types of places I can go that will be sufficiently private? (I could maybe manage to go home if I absolutely need to, but I’d have to invent a doctor’s appointment or something to account for taking an extra-long lunch, which I don’t love doing, so I’d rather avoid it if at all possible.)

    Also, I’ve never done a Skype interview with video before – anything I should be taking into consideration as I prepare? I’m confident and comfortable with interviews generally, and for the type of position I’m applying for in particular, but not sure how (if at all) the video aspect changes things.

    1. CJ*

      If you do it from your car, consider right outside of the Starbucks or a McDonalds or someplace where you can still hop onto their Wifi. Unless you know for sure your phone has really great connectivity.

      Consider getting a mini tripod, so you don’t have to try to concentrate on holding your phone super still the entire time.

      Consider what is in the background too… if you could see people walking around, it might be slightly distracting.

      1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

        Thanks – I was planning to go to a park where the parking lot is typically empty, but I will make sure to test my phone’s connectivity from that location before the interview (I hadn’t thought of that!).

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I think it would be odd to take the call from your car, especially since they’re interested in your Skype fluency. Where would you be doing the calls from if you got the job? I’d do it there, even if it means having a “personal appointment” over lunch.

      1. Chriama*

        Agreed. Car for a phone call is fine, but for a skype call would be weird. And if there are any issues with connectivity, it will influence the whole tone of the interivew. Do it from wherever you’d do it if you got the job.

    3. Beti*

      Most of the public libraries in my area have little study rooms around the perimeter you can reserve. They generally have wi-fi and the rooms are very quiet. The decor of the rooms is pretty neutral and looks sufficiently business-like. Is that an option?

    4. Oatmeal*

      If you’re in a midsize or largish city, see if you can find a co-work space that rents by the hour. They’ll usually have small meeting rooms and they are becoming more popular and common.

      Things to be aware of during Skype interviews: lag time (you might find yourselves accidentally talking over each other because of it), and make sure that you are looking at the correct angle so it looks like you are actually talking to the person. It is good to practice this one because it can be unintuitive. (Making it worse is that you can’t check by looking at the picture of yourself in the corner… that only makes it worse.)

    5. BRR*

      Alison has a good post on skype interviews so search for that. Your situation is a little more difficult though, here are some thoughts:
      -I would make sure to have Wifi.
      -Make sure your phone is charged.
      -I feel like a professional background reflects better on you, not your car or a park, and something plain is less distracting.

      I’m sorry I can’t think of any place specifically that hasn’t already been mentioned.

    6. Kristine*

      I actually have to offer a dissenting opinion on this. If I were the interviewer for this part-time job (who knew that you worked full-time) I certainly wouldn’t hold it against you if you Skyped in your car. As long as it’s quiet and your connectivity is good, I don’t see the issue. I’m actually curious as to why others see this as unprofessional.

  34. CJ*

    It’s been an almost 2 month process (and still going) for the nice, Big University job I’ve been kind of pining for. I’m pretty happy where I am, but this would be a good step in the right direction.

    No question, just venting about why the process has to take so long!!!

    1. InterviewFreeZone*

      Same here, though not as long. Mine has just been 3 weeks so far, but there are two more possible rounds and I haven’t heard anything since early last week so I’m not even sure if I’m moving on to the next round yet. And now other jobs are coming out of the woodwork, but I too want Big University Job more than the others! Sigh. My last university job hiring process started in late June and I didn’t have my first day of work until after Labor Day.

      1. CJ*

        I hope I don’t have to wait until Labor Day, but if it means I get the job, so be it.
        And good luck to you! 3 weeks is forever is Job-Searching Land…

    2. fposte*

      Two months is about average at my university, I’m afraid; throw in the fact that it’s over the summer, and I’m not surprised it’s going longer. Good luck for good news soon!

      1. CJ*

        Thank you! She did mention that vacations have side-tracked the decision, so yep, that’s part of it.

  35. June*

    Friends with MBAs–I’ve ready some things lately about how an MBA is not worth as much as it used to be. Has anyone had that experience? I’m starting to do research on schools and programs, but being as I’m still not 100% sure what I want to ~do with my life~ I don’t want to make the decision to go back to school and spend $$$ lightly.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      (MBA spouse here, not MBA myself.)

      MBAs can be incredibly valuable, but only in certain circumstances:

      – You attend a full-time program at a top ~20 school.
      – You want to work in finance, consulting, marketing, etc. – the classic MBA fields.

      The on-campus recruiting process opens up a lot of opportunities that literally aren’t available any other way.

    2. Rat Racer*

      I second Victoria Nonprofit. There are so many MBA programs out there and they are not all created equal. If you have a sense of what industry you’re most interested in (and it’s not, say, banking) you might get more bang for your buck with a Master’s in Public Policy (if you’re interested in government/non-profit) a Master’s in Public Health (if you’re interested in healthcare) or something else that’s industry-specific. Those programs are much less expensive. My graduate program at UC Berkeley was $2,500 per semester – and I worked as a grad student researcher for 3 out of the 4 semesters so my tuition was free and I was paid a stipend.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      Other than the top 20 schools Victoria mentioned and going into finance or consulting, I see if fairly useful for people to go to local schools part-time to get ahead in their current companies, depending on the career track they’re already on. I think you have to time it right (5-10 yr people), though, and I haven’t seen that type of degree as particularly useful to try to find a brand new career when you graduate. (Most of the people I know doing what I describe are getting reimbursed, too, so they have to stay at their companies for a while).

      1. BRR*

        This is what I would think in addition to Victoria’s thoughts. Especially if the programs isn’t too expensive or your company covers it.

    4. Bostonian*

      I’m in grad school now – a masters degree, not an MBA, but I’d say don’t do it unless you’re sure. It’s best to work backwards: figure out what kind of job you want, and then look at what you need to do to get there. For the kind of job you want, does what school you go to matter, or is it a credential you have to check off to even be considered? Would a degree from a locally/regionally respected school do what you need, or should you aim for a nationally-ranked program? Would an MBA program get you access to an alumni network or internships that would be helpful? Are you changing careers and a graduate degree is a good way of doing that (my situation)? Or could you get to what you want to do by working your way up to it? Is there a similar degree that you could get at least partly funded, or could you find a job where the employer would sponsor you?

      If you don’t know what job you want, pick a couple of things that sound interesting and start doing a lot of networking and informational interviewing. My undergrad alumni network was great for this, and it really helped me get clear on what I wanted to do and what my options were to get there.

    5. Hillary*

      I second AnotherAlison’s comment, but don’t spend the money until you know your goals and can calculate the ROI. It might be worth taking the GMAT now too so you can understand what schools you can get into.

      In my area there’s been a proliferation of new business schools. They’re accredited, but not established. If a hiring manager won’t recognize and respect the name it’s not worth it.

      If you’re looking at full time, I agree with Victoria.

  36. Feeling pigeonholed*

    I went to graduate school in a technical field, but wound up taking a job in an event planning/communications role related to that technical field. After four years, I have come to the realization that I dislike event planning and communications; instead of serving as a technical expert myself, I’m just supporting and connecting all the other technical experts. I hate that my own technical expertise is eroding, and I’d love to find a more analytical/research position. I want to produce new knowledge and advise projects.

    My question is, is it too late? Have I pigeonholed myself and screwed myself over? Will I need to take a step down to a more assistant-level position in order to re-orient my career? Or will my graduate degree and my broad familiarity with the technical field still be a boon to me?

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Is there a way to take some continuing education courses to keep your degree fresh? Without knowing the details of your degree, I’d think you would want to show that you are staying current on trends and new research/technology.

    2. Lillie Lane*

      (I have a graduate degree and work in a technical position). Not knowing what your field is, I tried imagining myself in a similar situation, as if I were in my coworker’s job (marketing/communications/event planning). I think you’re probably overestimating the pigeonhole effect. Are you sure your technical expertise has eroded that much over 4 years? Have you worked closely with the technical team members, synthesizing plans/processes/protocols/materials? Have you attended/organized industry events and communications? Any/all of these are keeping you in the loop somewhat, and that’s what I’d focus on.

      I was in a similar situation about 5 years ago, where I had a 3-yr position that was more on the education/outreach/event planning side and wasn’t technical. However, I easily moved back into a technical role because it also required some outreach/client interaction that someone with a purely technical background might find challenging. The job you have now may in fact make you a more flexible candidate!

      1. Lillie Lane*

        And (maybe) like you, I hatehatehated the event planning stuff. I have so much admiration for event planners because they are talented and can handle something I am It’s giving me anxiety just thinking about it!

    3. AE*

      Fortunately, you’ve met a LOT of people along the way who might offer better answers to that question than we will.

    4. catsAreCool*

      You may have made some great contacts in your current work that might be able to help with this. You may need to take more classes, and you might have to take a lesser role than you want, but it sounds like that would be better than going forward on smoething you don’t want to do.

  37. Van Wilder*

    An update on The Sleeper.

    My senior manager wanted to talk to the partner (I’m the manager) before we had a formal conversation with our employee about his sleeping during the training. But then we were having another short training on Monday and my senior manager was threatening to go to the training and watch him and wake him up, embarrassing him if necessary.

    I couldn’t let that happen so I pulled him aside and told him that he really needs to be awake during the trainings. And if he needs to excuse himself to get water, or stand in the back, he could do that. He apologized and said he knows it’s a problem and he didn’t get sleep the night before, etc. So, he stood for the whole training. Reports came back that he still had his eyes closed at times but, honestly, I’ll take it.

    We’re having other problems with him and the other new staff on our project. They are both slow to pick up on things, seem easily distracted and have trouble concentrating, and take longer on tasks than they should. We’re working with them but also taking notes on everything because we can’t have them slowing us down if they don’t improve. We are a large firm and get hundreds of new hires every year and these two are just sub par. But, we live to manage another day.

    1. AE*

      Are you paying people so little that they have to work a second job? Otherwise, if they’re still in their probationary period, just say goodbye and move on.

  38. Natalie*

    TL;DR version: I’m currently planning on putting in my notice about a year from now and finishing school full time without working. Have you done this? Thoughts? Things I should plan for since I have about 18 months before I’ll be sans job?

    Longer version: I work full time and am in school part time getting the accounting education I didn’t know I wanted during College 1.0. My job has lots of advantages at the moment but I’m pretty unhappy here. And yet, assuming I have time to look for another job I always find myself unable to take the leap and go somewhere else.

    My fiance and I have been having some conversations about me doing the last portion of school full time and not working. We can live on his income, especially if I save extra money until then. I’m also pretty attracted to making a clean break from this place and having time during my final undergrad semester and my masters’ program to network and volunteer in a professional capacity. Curious what other people’s experiences with this are.

    1. Artemesia*

      The full time school covers your resume so I’d do this in a heartbeat; a new degree sort of resets the clock and it is expected that people will make job transitions like this.

    2. themmases*

      I did this. I’ve had a really good experience and I’m glad I did it. My old job made some changes that made it really awful for me, and since this was a career shift for me I wanted to be available to take student jobs and network with people who actually work in my program.

      My partner pays somewhere between most and all of each of our bills, and I only borrow the amount of my tuition. Both of the research assistant jobs I took didn’t originally come with tuition waivers but were able to offer them later, and they are worth way more than my old job’s tuition benefit would have been (they offered about $5000/year, my tuition + fees are more like $20,000/year) in addition to paying me more per hour (graduate minimum at my school is around $20/hour). So I pay my own personal expenses and help with groceries and entertainment as I can afford. Without my awesome partner, I’m not sure I could have justified the (in-state) tuition loans or leaving my crappy job.

      Save whatever you can this year. Get the highest-interest savings account you can (I use Ally) and if you get a merit increase, redirect the whole amount to your savings account automatically. I am pretty healthy, so I also changed my insurance to a high-deductible option for the last ~7 months I was at my old job and saved the difference. This also came with an HSA that I could keep, rather than the money disappearing at the end of the year. The savings money will come in handy to pay any fees you don’t want to borrow for, cover tuition if you’re ever not full-time and aren’t eligible for aid (this happened to me in the summer when I took one class), start paying your loans off early, or just be an emergency fund that earns you a little interest. I used mine for all of the above.

      My student jobs have paid off in spades. My boss from my first job hired me onto her next project and recommended me for a second job that I did just for fun/experience this summer. They’ve been in areas where I needed experience, for important faculty members and programs. It was scary– especially not supporting myself– but because the degree is neeeded for my career path I’m very glad I did it.

  39. AdAgencyChick*

    I wanted to ask this question last week when I might have actually changed my behavior based on the consensus :) oh well! My last day at old job was yesterday, and I’m plunging into my 10 days of funemployment with gusto.

    But, I’m gonna ask anyway: how much “senioritis” is understandable/acceptable when an employee quits? I realize this may vary by industry and am curious what others think.

    To be clear: I didn’t totally slack off. But I did make it clear to a team that I was doing a favor for anyway — it wasn’t part of my normal job — that that favor did not extend to my being willing to do weekend work for them. Fortunately they were reasonable people and didn’t seem miffed. It did make me wonder, though — where is the line at which it would lead to a bad reference? Refusing to stay a minute past 5? Past 6? Doing all that you’re asked to do but not proactively trying to fill up any downtime? (I definitely did that last.)

    1. fposte*

      There’s no hard and fast rule; it’s going to depend on the person giving the reference, the situation, and the amount of goodwill you’ve built up while you were there.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I totally rolled out after lunch on my last day. And did next to nothing the whole week before. I’d been planning for weeks to be able to give notice, so everything was as tied up as I could get it at the time.

    3. AE*

      I spend my last minutes touching base with all my coworkers. Sometimes I just tell them how much I appreciate them, sometimes I have in-progress notes for them. I feel the opposite of senioritis. I want to squeeze in every last bit of good stuff before I go. Even the time I knew I was about to be fired, I checked in with the people whose projects I’d tried to support but didn’t succeed, just to tell them that I’d tried and I had been on their side. They all knew that, but I wanted to give them what little encouragement I could. I even named names of higher-ups that I’d said great things about them to, just so they’d know good words had been said on their behalf. I still mist up thinking about some of the people I have left behind.

    4. MaryMary*

      I don’t think anyone really blames the person who put in their notice for dialing it back a few notches during their final days. However, people really remember and speak in glowing terms if someone does go above and beyond before leaving. There was a guy at OldJob who put in 80 some hours his last week finishing a project. He became almost legendary. And when the company he left OldJob for sold off his division and started laying people off, OldJob rehired him right away.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Do people in your company routinely watch this? I had one company that I worked for where the supervisor would keep track of every. single. thing. you did during your notice period. Since I already knew that I was okay. It was not a deep dark secret that she did this, it was a big topic of conversation.

  40. GMA*

    Next week, I have a job interview for a position in city government that involves doing inspections and, therefore, sometimes giving bad news. I’m confident in the technical aspects of the job, but all of my customer service experience has been in retail “the customer is always right” environments, which would not be the case for this position. Does anyone have any tips or guidelines for me on how to deliver non-negotiable bad news? I was told explicitly that there would be a “customer service” question during the interview, and this is what I’m most worried about. I’m a recent grad, have learned so much from this site, and I hope that someone here will have some tips for me!

    1. Retail Lifer*

      It’s really hard to do so, but just stick to the facts and don’t interject any opinions into the news. You can preface it with something like, “I’m sorry, but…” or “I hate to have to tell you this, but…” but you really just need to plainly say what the issue is and what the resolutions, if any, could be.

      1. LCL*

        I will just tell you some general thoughts re how we handle customers.
        When you are actually on the job, make some copies of the relevant section of code that you can hand out to the customers, and walk them through it. If there is something the customer has to do, that should be in a handout that you give and explain to the customer.
        We explain to the customer what needs to be done, and why. We provide them with a business card or handout with an appropriate number to call for follow up. You won’t know the chain of command at the new place yet, but you should know that customers need a follow up number and you will follow policy to provide customers the right follow up number. (This is bigger than you think, customers HATE getting the bureaucracy runaround. When I get misdirected calls from the public, I figure out who they need and give them the correct number.)

        Sometimes, we explain to the customer what could possibly go wrong if they continue doing what they are doing. Not as a threat, but as a natural consequence of physics. We NEVER threaten customers, but we have told them of events where someone has been injured or died.

        We always strive for courtesy and calmness when we talk to customers. We recognize that the customer may be very worked up about something and we may have to ask them several questions to identify their issue.

        It might help your interview if you can find out the term used to refer to the people you serve. It could be citizens, or customers, or rate payers, or tax payers, or residents, or clients, or?

    2. Larold*

      Ugh, this is hard. It helps to remember WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. I do a lot of inspections for compliance with environmental regulations, and it helps me to think about how badly I want to be a good environmental steward, whether its for the benefit of wildlife or residents or people who use the land/water for recreation. That makes it a lot easier to tell someone that they need to do X and Y by such-and-such date or they could potentially face such-and-such consequences, even though you know that it might be difficult/stressful for them.

      Dumb things… I always wear my logo jacket when the weather allows it. I carry a clipboard with copies of any relevant regulations and permits. I bought a lanyard to put my ID in, because for some stupid reason it makes me feel more official.

      Also, remember that it isn’t personal. When I tell people things that they don’t like, they might grumble about my agency as a whole, but they probably aren’t going to think that I’m a jerk, as long as I’m not rude to them. Hopefully it isn’t an industry where a person’s livelihood is on the line, because that does make things a bit more awkward and a bit more personal. In that case, you can go with a slightly softer approach, but you still need to be firm.

      I’m not sure what they’ll ask you in the interview. I had a lot of scenarios presented to me in my interview, and I had to explain what I would do. A lot of my answers boiled down to, “Tell them what they’re doing wrong and back it up with the appropriate sections of the appropriate regulations. Don’t waver even if they make excuses or cry about not having enough money or personnel to get the work done.”

    3. AE*

      My lines:
      This is the policy, this is the reason, I’m just doing my job and trying to help you stay out of trouble.

    4. meggers*

      I agree with the points LCL and Retail Lifer made. Remove opinion. Be clear and specific. Don’t sugar-coat (but don’t be rude). Provide clear next steps, written/emailed in addition to verbal if possible.

      Remove hedging/indefinite language. Unless there are actual options, don’t say “You could do this,” or “Consider trying this.” “This is the next step/solution” is better. If there are actual options, make them clear. If there are options with preferences, make that clear, too. “You can do x or y. Y is preferable, but x is also acceptable.” Use a calm, firm, and confident tone, but be conscious of sounding condescending or overly aggressive.

      Become ok with silence. Deliver the facts, then give people time to process; don’t feel like you need to continue to explain/justify. They’ll let you know if they have more questions. Humans hate uncomfortable silence, and there will be a strong desire to fill the quiet. Don’t. You’ll end up saying unhelpful/weird/unrelated/incorrect things.

      Don’t apologize if there’s nothing to apologize for. That said, if you can sincerely offer empathy (and it makes sense in the context), do that.

      Don’t get into an argument as to whether the requirement makes sense or not. You don’t make policy, presumably, and even if you do, right now, the requirement is x. “Y is destroying my business!” “That may be the case. Currently, though, to be in compliance, Y needs to be in place.” You might even add, “The best place to go with concerns about Y is blah (insert email, website, person’s name, etc.)”

      When possible, rather than say “you did x”, consider using “X has happened” or “X is in violation” or some other passive form. While I’m sure my English teachers cry every time I suggest using passive voice, taking out “you” can help the situation feel less accusatory. When someone hears “You did X,” they typically get defensive, simply because that’s what humans do. “X exists in the universe, and needs to be Y instead” feels a lot less personal. The hearer is more open to next steps and spends less energy investing in rationalizing why X is ok/you are wrong etc.

      As much as you can, try to communicate a sincere desire to help whomever you’re speaking with. Consider approaching the position not as punitive, but rather as you helping the business understand and meet the required standards. Your goal is to help them be successful and safe, and inspections (or audits or meeting regulations) help them do that.

      Be kind and be patient. Some people will be awful. Many will not be as bad as you think.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Real life examples:

      My friend went to get her driver’s license. The examiner got in the car and told her, “The reason I am here is to help you become a better driver.” She exhaled and went on to pass her test.

      A health inspector came into our store. He said, “I am here to help you help your customer effectively.”

      I went to have my car worked on. It was making a noise and I was getting a little nervous. Okay, a lot of nervous. I limped to the repair shop. The service manager came out and said, “NSNR, we have to take your keys. For your own safety we cannot let you have that vehicle back.” (I was relieved at that point, granted not everyone would feel that way.) He told me the problem, he then explained how they would fix the problem and how long it would take. This is more of that explaining stuff. If you can give people explanations that will save you a lot of hassle.

      In short, KNOW why you are there. I am guessing you inspect buildings, perhaps fire code? Okay, then in that case you are there to help keep people safe and keep the person’s business alive and well. If you think of yourself as an Enforcer or a Policeman, you might have difficulty. But if you think of yourself as a teacher, an assistant of sorts, a front line person who keeps people safe, you might gain more ground quicker.

    6. TootsNYC*

      As a manager, I’ve had to deliver bad news for people who worked for me. I like to approach it from a “the job needs this” point of view.

      It’s not personal; it’s not me. It’s not even other people. The job needs this, and it’s not getting it.

      In your case, you might also think of it as providing them information. “Bad news, your restaurant failed inspection, and here’s the info about what you need to do to fix it.”

      Because if they’re *honorable*, they want their restaurant to pass inspection, so they want to know what the problem si so they can fix it.

      You aren’t scolding anybody; you’re not passing moral judgment; you’re not mom or dad or the principal.

      You’re the expert (like the plumber) with the expert information.

      Also remember, it doesn’t matter whether they like or, or whether they agree with you. These are the facts, and you don’t have to wait until they’re happy. You can deliver the information and leave.

  41. T3k*

    Another week, another job hunt (though, thanks to Alison’s advice, I’ve been reworking my resume to hopefully stand out more). It’s pretty frustrating though when I applied for 2 new (contract) positions at this one company, and not even a week later, they were taken down, meaning they’ve already picked someone (this is the type of company that leaves job postings up on their site for months until they fill it). My guess is they already had someone in mind, but their policy dictates they have to post it up anyways and get some hits on it.

  42. Nefarious Hibachi (formerly Kay)*

    I’m not even sure what my question is about this situation.
    I work at a State government, however I am a Temp, not an actual employee here. Yesterday I got on an elevator, and shortly after me, five men got on. I had my resting bitch face on, and the guy closest to me said “Well hello there…” I gave him a brief smile and moved over slightly to give him more room. He immediately said “Oh a nice big smile, that just made my whole day”, proceeded to move closer to me and stare at me. He then started making weird kissing sounds next to me. His friends started laughing and saying “oh you are such a tool”. I got off the elevator and walked over to a wall to pretend to make a phone call so he wouldn’t follow me off, and he stared at me and then licked his lips as he went by. I ended up shaking and crying in my and waiting until a friend could come and take me back up on the elevator. The same friend told me that I really should report it.

    So I went to my boss and told her what happened. She was very sympathetic but the first thing she said was “Well, from now on make sure you don’t get on a crowded elevator”. I explained that they had gotten on MY elevator. She then said “Next time you need to say ‘Stop that right now'”. The problem was…I didn’t feel safe speaking in that situation. I feel like a bit of an idiot because I like to think of myself as this badass chick who can handle anything, but it just did not feel like a safe situation there. My boss said that if I wanted to I could go down to the floor and try pointing out the guys, but….ugh. My boss said that they are going to try to approve a memo to go out, but now I just want it over with. I know that it’s already getting spread around the office, and I hate that I am going to be the target of gossip. I like to be thought of as supremely competent, and I’m really worried that more people are going to have the (ridiculous) reaction of “Well, why didn’t you say something at the time”. I guess, the question for the AAMhive is…what should I have done? Also, what the hell right? It’s stupid for me to be worried every day about getting in the elevator, its stupid that I have to change my behavior if I want to avoid this in the future. Is it even worth taking this another step?

    TL;DR uggggggggggggh

    1. Violetta*

      Wow I am so sorry that happened to you. What an asshole. And your boss’ reaction was useless. In what world is it acceptable to advise an employee to avoid using the elevator at HER PLACE OF WORK like she should expect to feel in danger there? (I’m steaming. What if the guy does this in the breakroom, lobby, or hallway next? Should you just avoid those too?)

      Do NOT feel like this is on you for not having said anything at the time. I personally would have been at a loss of words when faced with such appalling behaviour from a coworker. This is 100 % on that guy and since your boss is being so useless I would strongly encourage you to speak to HR about this. If they have any common sense they’d flip their lid about an employee being treated like this and then being advised to change HER behaviour.

      1. Sadsack*

        I agree, the manager is a useless idiot. Go straight to HR, now. I am sorry this happened to you. F those guys.

    2. CollegeAdmin*

      Nefarious Hibachi, I’m so sorry that happened to you, and that your boss is not at ALL handling it correctly. I’m wondering if you should talk to HR about it, but if you don’t want a fuss, I don’t know if I’d recommend it. (And for what it’s worth: the “fuss” and “target” should be on HIM – and his bystander friends – since they were the wrongdoers. You did NOTHING wrong.)

      I’ll admit, I probably would have done nothing at the time too and kicked myself later for it. I would have wanted to say, “EXCUSE me?!” or “That’s inappropriate, knock it off” or “Back off. NOW” or “If you keep doing that with your lips, I’m going to staple them together.” (Okay, maybe not that last one.)

      Alison and several commenters have previously recommended “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin deBecker (??); I haven’t read it but from what they’ve said, maybe you’d find it useful?

      1. Sadsack*

        Yeah, I like to think I’d say those things, too, but it is hard to know until you’re in that situation. I probably would be shocked and embarrassed into silence, too. Again, F those guys.

    3. Kyrielle*

      I have to wonder…are there security cameras in the elevator? Because if there are, and it goes to HR, it’s totally possible the guy could be identified and dealt with.

      Honestly, I think you handled it fine, you weren’t expecting a bad moment and weren’t braced to defend yourself from *a coworker* in an elevator *at work* when there were *other coworkers present* no less (a situation that would, you know, deter most such people). And he kept escalating it.

      You might also practice saying “Stop that.” No please, no politeness, “Stop that.” Not because you should have to, but because teaching yourself a script for next time will probably make you feel better about your ability to deal with this. (And if it won’t, then don’t do it, because you shouldn’t have to.)

      Your boss is a tool. Not as much of a tool as the dude in the elevator, but still a tool.

    4. T3k*

      I’d have said something, but that’s just me (probably something along the lines of “What the HELL is wrong with you?” or “You know, you seem to have a weird thing going on with your lips there. You should have a doctor check that out, could be serious.”) But as Violetta pointed out, even if you didn’t say anything, you should not feel guilty about this at all. This is on the guy and his friends (for not telling him to cut it out). If you really feel strongly about it and leaves you feeling unsafe (as you say you’re worried every day about getting on the elevator) I second going to HR about it.

    5. Kelly L.*

      Ew, what idiots, both the boors in the elevator and your boss. You shouldn’t have to avoid normal work settings in order to not get harassed. It sounds like she’s operating under Broken Stair philosophy (see Cliff P*rvocracy) wher everybody knows a situation is bad, but just work around it rather than do anything about it.

    6. Beti*

      First, I’m sorry this happened. Second, try to get past the “I should have done X” mindset. YOU shouldn’t have to be worried about doing ANYTHING. You shouldn’t have to worry about having a plan to deal with harassing behavior in any workplace let alone a government office. It doesn’t matter if you are a temp, an employee or queen of the universe. Their behavior was completely wrong. Third, if I had happened to me, I’d pursue it and get it addressed – and not with some cop-out BS memo. Odds are that this is not the first time these pigs have behaved this way. And it won’t be the last. If you feel like you want to push this forward, you are likely helping other women, too. But seriously, you have the power here – do exactly what is right for you.

      The only change to my behavior is I’d totally carry a stapler and use CollegeAdmin’s line. That’s excellent! Assholes like that look for soft targets. It seems pretty likely to me that any push back will cause them to back down. Good luck!

    7. fposte*

      Yeah, you don’t have a lot of time to figure out a response in a situation like that.

      Another possibility is to focus not on the offender but one of his counterparts. Single one out. “If I report your friend’s sexual harassment, are you going to lie for him?” Wreck the mob glee and break the tacit rule that because he spoke, he’s in charge of them and you’re only allowed to talk to him.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree. You did nothing wrong, and in fact I think that actions you did take were BRILLIANT!!!

        You got yourself out to somewhere safe. Good for you.

        Of course you don’t feel safe–and that’s all on the bozo.

        I agree, go to HR. And make the point that guys who will do this once will do it many times.
        It’s not that all guys, or even so many guys, are like this.
        It’s that the guys that ARE like this, do it all the time to everybody. It’s what they’re like; they’re guys who do this. So they will do it.

        Again and again. So make that point to HR, and think of yourself not as a victim, but as a canary in the coal mine, who has the opportunity to alert the office to this unpleasantness.

    8. Chriama*

      You did *nothing* wrong. We don’t really spend time practicing what to say to people who cross typical social boundaries, so it’s not surprising that our first response is usually to do nothing. I think this is worth pointing going to HR if you want, and tracking down the guy. A ‘memo’ to the office doesn’t really mean anything, it would be more effective for them to sit this guy down and tell him (and his 2 douchebros) that this kind of behaviour isn’t appropriate at work. On the other hand, I think you might benefit from some time praciticing what to say in future situations — not because it’s your fault, but because it stops the whole “I should have said something” negative self-talk that happens afterwards.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree: we don’t usually spend time practicing how to respond. So of course we don’t think about it (and what you did, in the moment was good caretaking behavior!).

        And, now that you’ve been through it, you might pick a tactic or two that feels right to you, and role play it.
        Maybe going on the attack (step in close, glare, put your hands on your hips, and scold loudly until the elevator gets to your floor). Or questioning (can I have your name? What department do you work in? Who’s your boss?)

        You might find that this exercise builds your confidence and your ability to handle conflict in lots of other places!

    9. AE*

      Stomping on the foot and acting like it was an accident is a good move for an elevator.

      If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, pretend not to be able to hear, or start speaking another language.

    10. Jem*

      I don’t know if it’s possible for you but I would quit the assignment and let my agency and everyone else know why. Give them consequences for letting their employees sexually harrass people.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. No job is worth this crap. You are on an elevator with five guys. The odds are not in your favor. And now you are supposed to tell these guys off? as one woman in an elevator of five guys? REALLY?
        Your boss is not the brightest light in the chandelier.