open thread – August 7, 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 :)

{ 1,404 comments… read them below }

  1. Mockingjay

    Meeting Minutes Saga: had to do them for the monthly all-staff gathering. Admin Assistant showed up with a notepad and phone. As usual, she did not write down a single word.

    For the record, she still has not completed the minutes from last month’s brief that Intrepid Colleague got sucked into covering as well (“to back her up”). Boss continues to say nothing.

    Job Search: Interview went well yesterday. I met with the VP and the HR Manager.

    I asked them to describe their company culture. HR Manager thought that was a very good question (thanks, Alison!). She described it as pretty relaxed – it’s a small software/IT company. But I got a mixed vibe:
    – The HR Recruiter was wearing jeans.
    – The HR Manager wore slacks and a light sweater.
    – The VP was in very starched white shirt and tie.

    Of course, the top echelon is usually more formal in a company, but the VP seemed really buttoned up. Body language – kept leaning waaay back in his chair, rather than leaning forward to engage.

    The position is actually a little lower-level than the description indicated (although the technical knowledge required to do the work is rather high). That wasn’t disclosed until well into the interview. They asked me to provide a writing sample, which I can work on over the weekend.

    Based on what I have learned here at AAM, if I get an offer, I am going to consider long and hard whether this would be a good fit. I didn’t walk out thinking, “Wow, I want to work here!” It was more like, meh.

    1. Dawn

      Are you going to be working directly with the VP? If not, then he is probably just acting like “big business VP man”. I have known a TON of VP level men and women who at first glance look all hard-ass and buttoned up but when you get to know them they’re actually super chill and really good at management.

      Not saying don’t think long and hard about taking the job, just that sometimes people in upper management look a particular way without actually being a particular way!

      1. Mockingjay

        Yes, I would be interacting with him quite a bit. It is a technical proposal writing position and he will review/sign off on all submissions.

        I will see what happens with the writing sample.

    2. nep

      Whenever someone I’m talking to leans waaaaaay back in their chair, my thoughts go immediately to my breath. (Though my thoughts were probably there already because I’ve got a big issue with that.)

    3. Rbit

      For the note about clothes – my company recently switched to a casual environment (t-shirts, jeans, shorts, sandals), but you get a wide mixture between departments and people. Usually people interacting with clients stick to more formal wear (slacks, button shirt or polo), while those that are mainly internal interactions go for casual. However, it’s personal preference too – there are still those that don’t interact with clients that wear slacks with buttoned shirts or polos and dress shoes. Others wear shorts, tennis shoes, and t-shirts. It doesn’t appear to be generational as to the mix either. So it probably depends on the dress code they have on what you can wear and what you prefer/feel comfortable to wear.

  2. FAQ?

    Hi Alison, I’ve been reading through your archives and notice some questions seems to come up rather frequently in the comments (e.g. ‘what’s the meaning of chocolate teapots?’), have you thought about including an FAQ section on your blog?

    (or do you already have one that I haven’t noticed yet?)

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      In theory, I think it would be great to have one for substance stuff that comes up all the time (like “when do I mention my pre-planned vacation while I’m interviewing for a new job?” and “do I need to address my cover letter using the hiring manager’s name?”), but in reality I am too lazy to make it happen.

      1. LBK

        I suspect your highly productive, organized and enthusiastic reader base wouldn’t mind contributing if you were open to crowd-sourcing the rough draft. Maybe a Google doc?

        1. GOG11

          Oh, I’m willing to help with that, but I don’t know enough about crowd sourcing to take the lead/get it started.

          1. GOG11

            Thank you for getting this started. I went to the link, but nothing it’s giving me a blank document. I don’t mean to be a pain (I’m trying to be the opposite!)…did something happen to it?

    2. gsa


      The search function on this site is as strong as the content, IOW: very!

      Give it a try. I will post a link of an example shortly.

      1. ACA

        I think she means more like a guide to commonly used terms – chocolate teapots, Wakeen, Hanukkah Balls, etc. – the kinds of things that wouldn’t be obvious and could very well be confusing to a newer reader. Someone did a really helpful one for Captain Awkward that I’ll link in another comment.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Ah, I see. I’m not so much a fan of that kind, at least for here; I think it can look a little overly precious to someone who’s not already a regular. (If I was reading a site for the first time and saw a guide to inside jokes, I think I’d get a different idea of the site than if I discovered those jokes naturally over time.) I might be the only who feels that way, but for some reason it’s not my bag :)

          1. Christy

            I’m totally with you. I think a frequently asked-to-Alison questions page would be useful, though, particularly for those who are new to the site.

          2. JB (not in Houston)

            That kind of thing is very helpful to me as someone who, when reading online comments, doesn’t always get inside jokes; doesn’t always know if something’s an inside joke, a joke of any kind, or something I should be able to pick up on; and doesn’t want to be the 100th person to ask to have it explained to them.

            But I definitely think I’m in the minority on that. And since I actually have managed to pick up on most of the commonly-used references on your blog, it seems like it’s probably not as necessary as in some other online spaces. If *I* can get it, it has to be pretty easy to figure out, is what I guess I’m saying.

            1. On the outside looking in

              I agree with your first paragraph. I hate it when I start reading a site and find people making those sort of references, with no way to find out what they mean. It makes me feel like the commenters are all a little clique of popular people, and I’m not welcome. It’s really alienating and unpleasant. The Captain Awkward guide was amazing when I discovered it! finally, a site that didn’t feel like it was trying to make me feel stupid because I hadn’t read every post ever made there.

              1. JB (not in Houston)

                Yes, I found that Captain Awkward guide very helpful! I think some of those references are harder to pick up than some of the ones used here (like, I totally got that chocolate teapots and Wakeen were used as examples). But as the blog gets older, there will be–and already are–references that are not intuitive or obvious to the newer commenters.


    I had a meeting with a bigwig the other day, and he wasn’t in his office when I got there, so I had a seat at the conference table in his office and waited for him, and he seemed really weirded out when he got there. Am I creepy?

    1. Not Today Satan

      Do you work in the same office as him? I would have just emailed him saying I stopped by for our meeting, let me know when I should come back.

      1. PEBCAK

        Yeah, I would do things differently next time, but I’m kinda hoping it’s the type of thing he forgot about ten minutes later and I’m the only one replaying it over and over as a huge mistake.

        1. Sunflower

          I wouldn’t beat yourself up over this one. I don’t think it’s a huge deal and he probably already forgot about it. Probably just something he was a little confused about at the time but I doubt it’s a big edeal

    2. Sadsack

      It probably depends. I think I would have gone away and come back in a minute, or waited outside his office. I think it really depends on the person. How well you know him, etc.

    3. kozinskey

      I think it’s a little creepy to camp out in someone’s office when they’re not there. I could see that being normal in some offices, but it would be weird in mine. In the future, I’d probably leave the office & check with Bigwig’s assistant to see when he might return.

    4. Jwal

      Mmm, if the table was in his office then I’d think that’s weird. I think I would’ve waited outside (if possible), or just popped back a minute or two later.

    5. AnotherAlison

      That’s standard operating procedure for one of the bigwigs here. He’s someone who’s triple booked all the time, so even if you schedule a meeting with him, you have to wait for him to show up if you want to get your 5 minutes in. That’s apparently the way he likes to do things, though, so he’s not creeped out.

      1. Koko

        Yeah, here it’s actually more common the higher-ranking the person is. If you have a meeting with a VP, you sit patiently in their office as long as it takes for them to arrive. If it’s a director, you might wait a couple of minutes. If it’s a manager or lower, you return immediately to your own office and IM/email them that you came by and please let you know when they’re back.

        I’ve never really thought about it until now, but I guess waiting in their office is showing deference because you aren’t calling attention to their lateness nor making them have to track you down and wait for you to return once they get back. You also probably know that they have back-to-back meetings so every extra minute you lose waiting for them to let you know they’re back and then for you to walk back to their office is a minute the meeting loses and won’t get back. Whereas with lower ranking colleagues, your own time and ability to get things down during their delay is more important and their time is more available anyway.

    6. TCO

      In my workplace that would be a little weird, but it probably depends on the office. I tend to just check back in five minutes or so.

    7. JB (not in Houston)

      I don’t know if creepy is the right word. But it might have made me discomfited. If I tell my secretary it’s a good time for her to come to my office for us to go over something , and I dash out to get coffee from the break room first, I’m not surprised to come back and find her in my office. If I come back to my office at just about any other time and find someone sitting in my office, I would be taken aback. I just wouldn’t expect it. And given that I have some nosy coworkers, I’d wonder if they’d have been looking over stuff on my desk, etc. And I would never go plop myself down in the office of a bigwig if they aren’t there, even if we are due for a meeting. It’s not creepy, it just doesn’t feel like something one does, though I can’t put my feeling on why.

      Maybe because it’s kind of a hierarchy thing, that you wouldn’t make yourself at home, essentially inviting yourself in, to the office of someone higher up that you? But I can imagine some offices where this would be just fine.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Well, I may be missing a joke here, but that’s her official job title, so that’s the title I use for her.

          1. Lily in NYC

            It’s considered a little outdated; most people prefer to be called an administrative assistant (I’m an executive assistant but honestly don’t care about my title as long as I’m getting paid well).

            1. JB (not in Houston)

              I think maybe it depends on your profession. I’m the legal field, and I don’t know any lawyers who have admin assistants. They have secretaries or paralegals. I’m not saying no lawyers do, but I don’t know any.

              1. Sadsack

                Ha I didn’t see your post before I posted. I can’t think of a profession besides law that have secretaries, either.

                1. JB (not in Houston)

                  That’s funny, I was just about to say what Anoynousaurus Rex said–government was the other area I was thinking of that uses the secretary title.

                2. The Strand

                  Even in higher ed the classification has generally changed to “administrative assistants” or “administrative coordinators”. A quick peek at Higheredjobs shows 106 positions when the title “secretary” is searched, and 3 times as many when “administrative assistant” is searched. Most “secretary” jobs are from Eastern Michigan, Harvard, Rutgers, John Hopkins, U-Utah. John Hopkins is a little weird in that they have administrative assistants, secretaries, and administrative coordinator postings!

                  My experience is that usually someone still called a “secretary” is someone who has been around for a very long time (and the HR title has not changed) or is being referred to by someone who has been around for a very long time (an ancient professor emeritus or the like).

              2. AnonymousaurusRex

                When I worked in local government the appointed officials often had secretaries as well. This was a different position and “unclassified” as opposed to a classified civil service position of say, clerk-typist, which is like an administrative assistant position.

                1. JB (not in Houston)

                  Yep, in the local and state governments I’ve worked with or known people who worked in, admin asst and secretary were different jobs with different classifications. You couldn’t swap one title for the other.

        2. Vancouver Reader

          Where I work, we go by secretary or administrative assistant, or when they’re talking about the group of us, they call us girls. No one’s offended by it though, it’s just the terminology used in this company. This may one day change if by some chance we get a male admin assistant but I think for many years now, it’s never happened.

          1. The Strand

            Isn’t it possible that because you’re all commonly known as “the girls” the likelihood of a male admin assistant being hired is very small? In other words, they could associate the job with your gender, and wouldn’t ordinarily consider a male in the role?

            I’ve worked in companies and institutions where there were male administrative assistants, and others where only women staffed those jobs. My experience is that whether people are offended by the term (“hey girls” isn’t too different from “hey guys”) if the language actually means the role is seen as an exclusively female one, it’s likely that the role is poorly paid, too.

            At a previous org, I watched two departments that do essentially the same thing for slightly different clientele.. One is a mixed gender group about 50-50 male female; the other is all female. The all female team is referred to as [Female Supervisor’s] girls. They’re not paid as well as the mixed gender group (the median salary is lower too), and there’s no career path out. A young, motivated woman in the “girls” group moved to the mixed gender group and bumped her pay up by several thousand.

    8. bridget

      I usually stand out in the hall when this happens to me and wait for them there. Usually there is something for me to sit/lean on and read my notes or whatever, so I don’t look like I’m awkwardly waiting to pounce.

      Even though bigwigs often have conference space in their office, it’s not like a neutral conference room. It’s more like the living room in their house, where you could root around their personal stuff and work product. Even if doors are open and generally it’s no big deal to go into someone’s office while they aren’t there, it’s odd to feel like someone has spent real time in your office without you. It feels slightly boundary violating.

    9. my whole existence is flawed

      We don’t have many offices that are set up that way at my work, but – was the door open? How long were you waiting?

      I think it could depend on a number of things, like the corporate culture, and just how the office furniture was arranged. Was there any kind of waiting area outside?

      All that said – I can see doing the same thing myself, especially if the door was open, there was no place to sit and wait, and it was more than just a few minutes wait. Maybe he was unhappy that he left his office open so you could walk in and take a seat? If so – that’s really on him.

      Sitting at his desk would be a definite no-no. But at his conference table? Especially if you had paperwork out, ready to begin the meeting?

      I guess you could have tried to disarm by rising as he came in and saying “the door was open; I figured you’d want me to get set up” or words to that effect.

      It’s possible he’s an irrational jerk and will have issues with it, even though the “fault” was his.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        I don’t know. Every place I’ve worked, the bigwigs left the doors open. That doesn’t mean it’s ok to go in and sit down if they weren’t in. In this case, PEBCAK had a meeting scheduled so it’s not the same as a random employee going in. I just mean that I don’t think you can say “it’s on him” that someone went in just because the door was open. Or I may be misunderstanding what you meant.

    10. Rock

      At my previous worksite, that would have been 100% normal. But Big Wig at that place is nearly impossible to pin down, so if you had a meeting with him you had to camp to make sure you kept it. And then sometimes it would be a “meeting while Big Wig preps for another meeting” and that’s just what you got.
      People hanging out in his office while he wasn’t there was par for the course; he was always having to run somewhere or another.

      1. BenAdminGeek

        Agreed- the culture dictates here. I used to wait for my boss all the time, so would amuse myself by adding items to his To Do list on the whiteboard. He found it less amusing than I did.

    11. Anonsie

      I think this is one of those things that varies entirely by office and the person themselves, so I guess your answer is “apparently yes, this time, but you didn’t do anything crazy in general.”

    12. Bigwigs

      I don’t think you’re creepy. In fact, if I was said bigwig, I probably would’ve thanked you & apologized for making you wait. But that’s me… who, at the moment, is very much *not* a bigwig, so YMMV.

    13. gsa

      Did you let yourself in? Or did you have to go through his secretary? I prefer “handler”. Was there a place outside his palatial office to wait?

      Pacing around waiting for anyone has always annoyed me to (think mad lib answer here).

  4. Anna

    I recently joined a new team at work. My new team leader is very helpful, very personable, and quite attractive. I think I’m starting to like him more than is appropriate. Really need to keep my head in the right place and stay out of that minefield.

    1. AnonEMoose

      That is a tough place to be in. Something I have found helpful in the past is to not try to totally ignore/deny the thoughts and emotions when they occur. I’ve found that for me it works better to sort of acknowledge and move on.

      So instead of “nope, can’t think about that, don’t even go there,” something more like “Yeah, he’s cute. Now about that TPS report…”. Kind of a self-redirect, if that makes sense. Keeping conversations with him to 95% work stuff might also help.

      Basically, I think that making the feelings of attraction “taboo” in your head, they perversely become even more compelling, because they’ve acquired the allure of forbidden fruit. If you can instead acknowledge it to yourself and then distract yourself with something else, you might be able to avoid that, and eventually it will fade on its own.

      1. Kairi

        +1 I’ve been in that position before and sometimes would think about it briefly, then refocus on work again. About a month later I stopped thinking about it altogether.

      2. Sans

        I agree. I let myself feel the “crush” and then moved on and made very sure my actions never betrayed my feelings.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Same here. I get crushes pretty easily, so I’ve had a lot of work crushes. I don’t think my behavior has ever betrayed anything, though; I just enjoy the crush quietly to myself until it’s run its course.

    2. Sunflower

      Remind yourself that the reason you like him is because he’s new and you don’t know much about him. Every time you start thinking about him, remind yourself in a few months you’ll have found out a few things about him that drive you nuts.

    3. Longtime Reader anon for this

      This is a similar comment I had last week! I have a huge crush on a co-worker, who I work very closely with We’re both married, 40’s. It’s been killing me actually but hoping the feelings go away and very soon! The commenters said it’s normal to have work crushes. I guess we’re all human..

  5. ACA

    So I gave notice on Monday! My boss was initially super pissy about it because it’s not technically a full two weeks (it’s nine business days), but my manager was like “What’s she supposed to do, not go on vacation?” And that calmed him down a bit. Everyone else in my office is supportive, and since it’s an internal transfer it’s not like they won’t see me again.

    Yesterday I emailed all the people in the other departments I work with to let them know I’ll be leaving, and got a flurry of emails and phone calls congratulating me…and also a few (jokingly) telling me that I’m not allowed to leave because then they’ll have to deal with my boss directly. I also emailed the people I know in the department I’m transferring to, and they’re all looking forward to working with me in a new capacity. So that was all really encouraging – in a job where I’ve gotten little support, it’s nice to know that people think I’m actually good at what I do and maybe that I’m even a valuable employee.

  6. Finding Nemo

    Does anyone else ever feel uncomfortable or self-conscious taking credit for their own work?

    It’s like some form of imposter syndrome I guess, like if I’m complimented on a project I feel the need to downplay my role and talk about how much help I had from all the other people involved. So far I’ve been lucky enough that the people I work with will acknowledge the work I put in, but I can easily imagine being taken advantage of. How do I get over this?

    1. Jwal

      “Thank you *smiles*”
      Repeat as required.

      I’m really bad at taking compliments, and I’m working at trying to get better at it. One thing I read was that by saying ‘thank you’ you’re not agreeing with the person necessarily, but acknowledging what they say. Thinking about thanks like that rather than like “you’re right, I am awesome” has been helpful for me.

      Hope this helps!

    2. Lisa

      Yes. All the time. There are studies that say women do this more often than men, but I think it has more to do with upbringing and how bragging can be seen as bad or in poor taste. But it isn’t bragging.

      Mindy Kaling has a new book out and this is an excerpt:

      “Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement has gotten a bad rap because it’s used almost exclusively for the useless children of the rich, reality TV stars, and Conrad Hilton Jr., who gets kicked off an airplane for smoking pot in the lavatory and calling people peasants or whatever. But entitlement in and of itself isn’t so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. “

      1. Cordelia Naismith

        Yes, true. Entitlement isn’t a problem, but feelings of undeserved entitlement are. It’s hard sometimes to remember these are two different things! It’s okay to feel entitled to something you do actually deserve (like thanks for a job well done when you did work hard and do a good job).

    3. Christy

      I ask myself how a 30-year-old man would handle it. My best male friend is kind of full of himself, so I just pretend that I’m him. It definitely makes me take credit for my work.

      1. Kelly L.

        Oh, this is really helpful to me. I have a supremely arrogant friend that I could use for this exercise. :D

      2. Dawn

        Yeah thinking this way has helped a TON with imposter syndrome for me. If I start getting anxious or worked up I ask myself “If I was a man would I feel this way?” and usually the answer is no, or “Not exactly, I’d probably be thinking about XYZ instead”. Helps a lot.

        Sucks to infinity and beyond that I have to think like that, but it helps.

    4. LBK

      Practice saying “thanks!” or “you’re welcome!” as a complete sentence. It will feel really awkward at first (“you’re welcome” in particular can be oddly uncomfortable to say in response to someone thanking you for your work) but if you force yourself to just say those words and then shut up, it will cut back on your tendency to want to elaborate and sell yourself short.

      1. Koko

        In my case, I’m a naturally warm person and it feels sort of cold and conversation-killing to me in some contexts to just say “thanks” and stop. So I often will add on a sort of positive attitude type of statement about how I enjoyed the work, or feel proud of it, or feel good knowing others will benefit from my work.

        “Thanks! I loved getting a chance to step back and take a look at the bigger picture with this project since I ordinarily spend so much of my time working on the details.”
        “Thanks! I’m really proud of the final product.”
        “Thanks! I hope this resource is going to make everyone’s lives a little easier.”

        It lets me lend a little warmth to my response without downplaying my efforts or selling myself short.

        This works for me mostly because it’s consistent with my professional image: maintaining a positive ethic and leveraging informal professional relationships are my signature dishes, and I’m respected for my ability to get results from difficult-to-work-with people and people outside our immediate team because just about everyone owes me a favor or two.

      2. BenAdminGeek

        I sometimes say “I live to serve” – but I also struggle with self-deprecating humor so maybe I’m a terrible example.

    5. Turanga Leela

      Think about it this way: you are an asset to your company. It benefits your company to have you be awesome and impressive. Hopefully your boss is seeing the great work you do; if not, talk about it in meetings or performance reviews. “This week I finished the ABC report and sent it around for comments. So far I’ve gotten very positive feedback from the team.” Then later: “I heard back from Client Z, and she was delighted with the ABC report we sent her last month.” Your boss needs to know about your contributions in order to be a good manager.

      As far as responding to compliments, practice just saying, “Thanks!”

    6. AndersonDarling

      I have a hard time if it was something super easy and management thinks it took me days to put together when it really took 10 minutes.
      On big things, I try to share the complement by mentioning anyone who was part of the project, even the receptionist who carried back lunch once.

    7. my whole existence is flawed

      If it was something that was truly all my work, I’ll just say “thank you.”

      If it was something where I was team lead and a number of people contributed, I’ll say “thank you – it was a team effort” and (depending on circumstances) possibly go on about who is on my team.

      (You can tell me this is a bad practice, but so far it has always worked out well to promote my team. When rewards and other good things happen to my team, there tends to be good stuff for me, too).

      1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

        I think it’s good practice to recognize your team — if it was a team effort. I usually say something like “Thanks! I had a lot of support on this project from Arya and Sansa, I’ll let them know you were happy with the final outcome.”

      2. QualityControlFreak

        Yup, me too. One of my teams is quick to point out that I did the lion’s share of the work. I just say, “that may be true, but I couldn’t have done it without your support.”

    8. Daisy Steiner

      My fall-back in these situations is “Oh, that’s very kind!” because it doesn’t strictly contradict my internal voice, which is saying “But it’s not true!”. I try to use it to graciously accept personal compliments as well as professional ones.

      1. Aunt Vixen

        I say “You’re very kind” or “It’s nice of you to say so” when the compliment is about something I can’t change (when someone tells me I have a lovely voice, for example) and “I was glad to help” or similar when the compliment was about something I did.

        1. Not So NewReader

          “Glad to hear that you are happy with X.”

          “Oh, it’s always nice to hear that people found my (our) efforts helpful/beneficial.”

    9. Credit

      Yes and no. If I have help, I go out of my way to credit those who helped. As far as things I’ve accomplished on my own… I really appreciate kudos and understand the importance of them when trying to advance in an organization, but I think I need to work on this some more, if I’m being honest with myself.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I think it’s important to give credit where credit is due, especially in places where morale is low.

    10. Monodon monoceros

      Yes, all the time. The worst is when I’m rapporteur for a meeting and they praise something I’ve done…I can’t bring myself to write it in the report. Usually I’ll leave it out and then somewhere in the draft revisions someone will add in “The group commended Monodon monoceros on the forage fish project.” But it’s too weird for me to write it myself!

    11. Chalupa Batman

      I am SO uncomfortable with public praise. My last boss was a big promoter of our work, so that helped-not because it changed my comfort level, but because it showed me how necessary a little horn tooting is to getting ahead. I was flying completely under the radar and wondering why I kept getting dumped on, but when my boss started singing my praises for my work on high profile projects, I suddenly started getting taken seriously and invited to work on projects I wanted. I’m a big fan of Koko’s suggested phrases to acknowledge without downplaying, things like “thank you, it was a big effort, but I’m really happy with the result.” Accept the compliment, state a fact, and move on. Remember that taking credit where it’s due is not the same in the workplace as it is in social situations. It’s not any more immodest for you to accept a compliment than it is for you to accept your paycheck.

    12. LQ

      I like, “I enjoyed working on the project.” (assuming I did) or “It was a really engaging project.” or something along those lines. They make me feel more comfortable talking about it.

    13. Brett

      I’ve found a good way to deal with this is not just to say “Thank you” but follow up with “Feel free to ask me if you have any questions about the project.” (Or if it seems like they have immediate interest in the project, “Thank you. Did you have any questions about it?”)

      This sometimes will open up a small dialogue about the project, and it is always easy to feel at ease about your recognition when you are talking about what you did to earn it. Even if they have no questions then or later, asking for questions shows that you have enthusiasm about your work and are happy that other people recognize your success.

    14. NDQ

      Previous boss took sole credit for everyone else’s work. I may go overboard now with giving staff credit due. But yeah, sometimes you have to force yourself to say “thank you ” and stop talking.


  7. Nervous Accountant

    They fired two people at my job this week. They assured us it wasn’t a mass layoff like in previous years but their firings were for performance issues.

    I don’t know the details at all except what upper management told us but I (think) I got along well with the one who was demoted… I worked with other one directly a few times and never had an issue with his work…but I’ve been a lot of the staff talk crap about him since day 1…

    It leaves a very bad taste in my mouth because as crazy as it sounds, both of these ppl were also not part of this “clique” at work which makes me wonder if that had even a tiny little bit to do with it. It scares me because…I’m not either.

    I was written up over 2 months ago for performance issues but I *think* I’ve improved since then. Nothing of that nature has happened in the last few months and neither my boss/supervisor/manager (the hierarchy is a little muddled here) have pointed anything out to me so I’m really not sure if it’s because I’m doing better or they don’t want to, so Im wondering if I have a false sense of security here.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Me too. The sirens started really started going off for me at “the hierarchy is a little muddled here”.

        1. Nervous Accountant

          How so?

          (not being facetious…..this is my first time in a medium sized company as a FT employee so Im still not sure how everything really works….just started my 9th month)

          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            I’ll bet we could find dozens of letters that Alison has responded to that are about unclear hierarchy. Usually it’s because different managers are giving differing directions to the same employee — sometimes it’s inadvertent and disorganized, but sometimes it’s part of a fully intentional power struggle. And not knowing who to ask when there’s an issue that’s above your pay grade is a recipe for disaster. One of the best things about my project director is that he acts as a buffer between us and the client when we need it. And what would you do if your boss was out, or acting irrationally? If you don’t know who is above them, you can’t escalate problems when necessary. Now, that’s hardly ever necessary, but when it is, that means it’s already really bad.

            1. Nervous Accountant

              Ohhh okay I see. Okay maybe I misused the term here then, I can describe it a little and you guys weigh in?

              So there’s the person I refer to as my boss, she’s the VP of operations and oversees our department. She’s in charge of hiring/firing for our department and a step below upper management (the CEO, CFO, Controller, VP of etc etc). It’s an open plan so she works alongside us and we’re welcome to ask her questions about the company policies or work related or client issues.

              We’re broken up into zones or teams and I have a team leader that I refer to as my manager or supervisor…I can address all of the above issues as well and he also assigns tasks too. The reason I said it’s muddled is because the previous team leader went on maternity leave and resigned, he was “assistant” leader…as far as I can tell, there hasn’t been any formal promotion of his duties, but he’s the direct person people report to on our team.

              Finally, each team is broken up into smaller teams that include a “project manager” (my term here–hope it’s being used correctly) and 2 support staff; I’m a support staff.. If I have any questions/issues with my workload or assignments or clients or the work itself, I have to bring it to his attention….however, my PM was the one who had to provide feedback on our performance evaluations and oversees majority of my work.

          2. some1

            I can’t speak for Cosmic Avenger, but when you basically report to more than one person, it’s hard to know if you are getting all the feedback you need.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I thought of that, but performance evaluations are coming up next week so I wanted to wait until my meeting to possibly bring it up. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll have my meeting, but is it appropriate to bring up before it?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Nah, if they’re next week it’ll seem weird that you’re not just waiting until then, since it’s clearly going to be covered then. Your instincts are right to wait, given that.

          1. Nervous Accountant

            The evaluations covered from July 1 to June 30th, so is it still appropriate to bring up stuff from last month? Also, the date was tentative, if they’re pushed back for any reason, how long is enough to wait to be proactive about this?

            1. BenAdminGeek

              In my experience as a manager, I review the time period of the evaluation and then talk about changes since then- good and bad. So I would assume July/August will come up naturally, but if not it’s fine to mention.

    1. LBK

      Ask for feedback! Having a concrete starting point like a past write-up actually makes that conversation easier, since you can say “I feel like I’ve improved on this since our last conversation by doing x, y and z but I wanted to get your perspective.”

    2. Katie the Fed

      If you’ve been written up twice – I’d ask your boss for a sit-down to discuss how he feels about your progress. Be proactive about it.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I’ve only been written up once (and last/only time hopefully!!!!!!!!!!!!!!),. The workload has also been a lot more easier and manageable since no immediate deadlines are approaching..

        1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

          If you’ve been written up, even once, and there are other firings… I’d take that as a big sign for concern. Lots of places I’ve worked have made the decision to thin the ranks, with step one being negative writeups. Then a few months later the axe falls. The writeup is a CYA effort on the part of the company so that they have documentation of cause for the firings.

    3. Sunflower

      I haven’t caught the open thread a whole lot this summer but I have been keeping up with you a bit. Just hoping for a positive performance review for you and, either way, hoping things get better! I’m not sure if you are job searching but I’m always in the camp to trust you gut and if things are looking iffy at your job, it can’t hurt to polish your resume just in case

    4. Biff

      My work has a growing clique issue that management seems to be actively encouraging. :/ I, too, have been written up, and while my own manager seems to think the write up is bunk, their manager told her that they have someone already chosen to replace me, should I fail to improve.

      I’m trying to hold on long enough to save money for retraining, but if it weren’t for that, I’d be looking for new jobs like a hungry lion looks for gazelles. I strongly suggest you document your improvement by saving emails and jotting down any atta-boy comments from your boss or coworkers, in case you get the axe. This will help you prove wrongful termination or at least get unemployment.

  8. Ops Analyst

    Looking for input and advice from trainers and those who handle process improvements.

    I’m 4 months in at a new job, which was somewhat of a career change for me. My background is in arts administration, program development, and technical training and enablement for nonprofit institutions like museums, .orgs and universities, with a bit of corporate admin/training work mixed in. I also have a number of certifications in training and development.

    Now I’m working in sales operations for a global software company. I was brought in specifically because my background gave me a unique perspective on training in a corporate environment. They are looking for a fresh approach to their enablement initiatives for another department that operations over sees.

    I’ve just been given my first big project. It’s huge actually. I’ll be looking at process efficiencies and enablement gaps within the department (which has thousands of employees) and developing solutions to improve them, either through training, documentation, or changes to the processes themselves.

    Results need to be measurable, so I guess this is where my question comes in. How do I start off measuring the current state of things and then how do I evaluate the changes? I have an understanding of how to do this on a much smaller scale. I have just never done anything this big before or in a corporate environment. So I am looking for advice on best practices to keep in mind and perhaps some tools and references I can turn to. What first steps should I take in order to ensure measurable outcomes? Also would love advice from people who handle process improvements within their organization.

    There is an education department that is more like the typical corporate training structure with instructional designers, developers, and trainers. This is separate from what I am doing. There is a bit of overlap, but they don’t really handle much for the department I am covering. So I am the only one who is doing this, which basically means I have to spearhead the entire project and pretty much do all the work myself, though I will be gathering information from SMEs.

    They are looking for “lots of small wins” and I want to set myself up for achieving that. I would be grateful for any advice, as well as encouragement, because this project is giving me a bit of imposter syndrome, even though I know I’m capable of doing this and doing it well.

    1. Colleen

      Ops Analyst: Create current state maps and future state maps which identify areas of backlog and non-value added work. Google them and you will find ways to make it work. These are the most basic tools in Lean manufacturing and there is probably more out there for you to work with, but this will get you started.

      1. Ops Analyst

        This is great. I had a similar idea to this but didn’t have a name for it, nor was it as fleshed out as this process. Super helpful. Thanks!

          1. BenAdminGeek

            Agreed- people often go overboard with Six Sigma, but it sounds like there’s a lot of opportunity for you here. Do fishbones, ask 5 why’s, remove NVA – it’ll be fun!

    2. LBK

      Glad to hear you’re working with SMEs – that was going to be my main suggestion. I think they’ll actually be able to give you a lot of what you’re looking for, particularly around measurable metrics, because they’ll understand what’s important to their departments and the best way to gauge that. In the early stages of the product, I’d just be a sponge – absorb as much information and feedback as you can from the people in each department. I suspect your process will evolve organically from there once you have a better grasp on the needs and metrics of each department from an internal perspective because the ways to address those needs (better training, improved systems, increased staffing, etc) will become apparent once they’re identified.

    3. AndersonDarling

      Process Mapping would be a good place to start, and I’d use the two step method. 1st sit down with the manager and ask what their process is for the TPS reports. 2nd have a meeting with the team and ask what the real process is. This always finds redundancies and gaps. Then you can go back to the manager and work out what the real process should be, and create training for it.

      1. Ops Analyst

        Haha. This made me chuckle, but so true. Part of my challenge here is that the team are sales people in the field. I won’t be able to sit down and have a meeting with them. I could potentially schedule a call but finding time for that with them is extraordinarily difficult. However, a survey would probably work. I could probably send that out to the whole org and get feedback. Though, I’m not sure how I would learn what they think the real process is in that way.

        1. Meg Murry

          Ask if you can shadow them like a trainee, or talk to a newly trained person. Get a copy of whatever the current official documentation is now (if such a thing exists) and then have someone walk you through how it actually happens.

          Also, you can just ask “what takes way too long and annoys you” or “what is repetitive and annoying”? Maybe it’s something like “we have to type our sales data into the master database, which is fine at HQ but super slow when I have to do it over VPN” and there might be a better way to get that data to them. Or “we still have to hand write these forms instead of typing” or “every time I make a new order with the same customer I have to fill in the address and customer name again, even if I just did it yesterday”

      2. Meg Murry

        Another thing/place to measure might be how many hands does it have to pass through. For instance, in order to complete the TPS reports, is actually the admins who make them, but only the bosses who have logins to the system to pull the data out? Or do they have to contact IT or Accounting every month to get the sales numbers when maybe there can either be a custom query written for that or they could be given read only access to a section of a database to pull the data themselves?

        Regarding measureable and “lots of small wins” I would think looking at number of days or number of man hours it takes to complete a task now, and then after your changes go into effect could be a big one. If you can take the time it takes to produce a TPS report from 4 hours to 3, or 4 days to 3, that might not seem like a big deal – but if the company produces thousands of TPS reports a month, those savings can add up. Or with Process Mapping, if you can take something down from 17 steps to 14, that’s 3 less places where a mistake can be made and shortens the overall process. Spaghetti diagrams are also a good way to go in this (link to follow but will be caught in moderation, so just google it).

        Same thing with errors. Is there a way to track how many times a report goes through with no errors, or not required to be bounced back to the originator? I worked at a place that tracked stats on that, and once they really started honing in on it, it became clear that having things bounced back and forth really slowed things down, but getting something through correctly the first time might take a little longer in the short run, but saved a ton of time in the long run on the corrections.

    4. E

      Read a book on change management by John Kotter, or Google his method. Lots of info about “small wins” and the steps toward making changes.

  9. Sunflower

    I was at a networking event last night and realized I’m really good at getting people to warm up to me/out of their shell. I feel like there are a lot of good jobs out there for people who can make and build connections and relationships and naturally my first thought went to sales. I’m really good at talking to people and getting them to trust me but the part where I’d actually have to sell things freaks me out. I’m not a very pushy person and while I’m a good negotiating, I don’t like pushing people onto things and it feels so awkward to me. How much of sales is doing the uncomfortable pushing and how much is just getting people to like you? Are there jobs where you can make good money by just doing client relationship management? I have a few friends in medical device sales who seem to enjoy it?

    1. HigherEd Admin

      There are lots of jobs that are about building relationships that have nothing to do with sales. I work in a university, so that’s where my mind goes — but others can chime in with more suggestions:

      — Campus recruiting (on the corporate side) or employer relations (on the college side)
      — Alumni relations
      — Fundraising (admittedly fundraising can be about sales/money, but a lot of it is just relationship building)
      — Volunteer management
      — Certain aspects of HR that involve training or assisting companies with mergers/team-building/etc.

    2. Turanga Leela

      I know nothing about sales, but it is hard to find good development/fundraising people, and this is a big part of the skill set for that job. I’d really consider development.

    3. CJ

      Our salespeople are taught on a Sandler method, which revolved around building rapport, finding the customer’s points of pain and finding solutions together. It is specifically designed to “pull” the customer through rather than “push” them. I’m on the Marketing team and helped developed a scoresheet for a role-playing compeititon we have going on: points get deducted for being a pushy salesperson. :) Not all of the roles are like that. HigherEd Admin has some great options as well.

      1. Ife

        I get the distinction you’re making, but this sounds like the same thing in different words. Sure, in the “pull” version, the customer probably feels better about the transaction, but aren’t they still ending up buying something they didn’t want? I guess it depends on how hard the salesperson has to “pull.” :)

        1. CJ

          It depends on the salesperson. Part of the Sandler process is ensuring that we have a solution for the customer (Qualification). We have a daily morning huddle with Sales and at least once a week, they will say they had a phone conversation with a prospect that ended without a quote because the customer was needing another type of product, we didn’t have something for the customer, our product was too much for the customer (i.e. they only needed a manual brush, not a hydraulic system), etc. So I think in our case, it is truly making sure the customer has a pain and a need and finding them solutions for that.

          Of course, the Qualification step has the other benefit of vetting the customer to make sure they are even in the right industry and truly need some of our products so that our salespeople save time.

    4. the gold digger

      I don’t like pushing people onto things

      Good salespeople do not push people onto things. They help customers solve problems. There is nothing wrong with saying to a prospect, “I don’t think we can help you.”

      1. Addiez

        However, a lot of that will depend on the culture of the org. There are plenty of sales/fundraising jobs where relationships are prioritized, but also plenty that want you to SELL SELL SELL to hit your goals regardless of relationships. I think sales and/or fundraising could be great, just be conscious of this.

    5. Ama

      Any kind of stewardship/donor relations position in the nonprofit or university sector — that is all about connecting with donors and potential donors and making them feel valued. It won’t be as high a salary as a private sector job (particularly not to start), but those are extremely valuable positions, and a good stewardship director can make a nice amount of money.

    6. Career Counselorette

      I don’t know how good the money is, necessarily, but I think there are a lot of non-profit jobs where this kind of skill would be highly appreciated, like doing intakes, tracking participant activity, etc.

      1. Meg Murry

        Yes, account management is usually under sales, but it’s more a case of “this person is already our customer and buys stuff from us, how can I help them make the buying process smoother, or make sure they get what they really want” and less “get people to buy more more more stuff from us!”

        Or what about a recruiting role in HR? Or some other type of customer support role?

    7. GOG11

      I used to get freaked out by the prospect of selling things, but then I realized that there are people who sell things to sell things/make money (which is what I thought everyone did), and then there are people who are knowledgeable about a range of products or services and who build relationships with clients to get to know their needs. They then seek to bridge the gap between “client wants something that does X, costs Y and comes in blue” and “service that does X, costs Y and comes in blue.”

      I know you specifically asked about positions that don’t involve sales/just involve client relationship management, but I wanted to throw that out there because it really changed the way I felt about and viewed sales, and I think some places/roles/cultures can support or encourage the meeting of clients’ needs in a genuine way, even though meeting those needs involves the client buying something from you. I don’t know how the bridge-the-gap technique plays out on a large scale/long-term as I only worked retail, so it should be taken with a grain of salt.

      1. GOG11

        Re: “Service that…comes in blue” – This example brought to you by Blue Man Group/my half-dead-Friday brain.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I am so glad I am not the only person with Friday brain today. And I enjoyed your Friday brain manifestation.

    8. AFT123

      I’m in sales and account management. Honestly, I think a lot of sales environments will “beat” this great quality out of you. Those skills can go a long way in many positions, but I would personally suggest staying away from a hard quota positions. Of course, your mileage may vary, but if you want to try and pursue sales I’d probably recommend a small business outside sales position. A good place to start are payroll companies like ADP – good learning, get your feet wet, can advance within the company quickly if you want, and will expose you to many other business options to consider for future career steps.

    9. Lily in NYC

      I have a similar personality and probably should have gone into sales, but I didn’t because I thought it would be all cold calling and being pushy. But I think a lot of account reps don’t do that – they manage the existing relationships. But don’t forget about things like selling real estate -every aptitude test I’ve taken said I should do sales or be a psychologist. So that’s another thought if you are interested in going back to school. But I don’t think all types of counselors need a grad degree (i.e. marriage counseling). If I could do it all over again I’d get a degree in forensic/industrial psychology.

      1. Sunflower

        A lot of my aptitude tests also said counselor/psychologist! Right after college, I was determined to get my masters in counseling until I looked at the tuition and figured I should hold off to see if that’s what I really want. I’m hoping that maybe one day when I’m more financially secure or married, I can go back to school but for now, corporate world it is.

    10. College Career Counselor

      It sounds to me as if you are the kind of person who has to believe in what they are selling or promoting in order to be effective. Is there a field of interest, a cause or issue or product that you personally believe in, care about or use? Consider whether getting involved with supporting that might make the “sales” aspect more palatable for you.

      Along those lines, Development/Fundraising comes to mind, although you still need to be able to make the “ask” (ie, close the sale) to be effective. I am reasonably good at talking to people and getting them comfortable, but I absolutely hate making the ask, so I am with you on the selling aspect. Perhaps community relations for an organization or a company that’s looking to increase its impact/improve its image in the larger community?

    11. Koko

      Sales is only pushy when you don’t really believe in the product. That would be my chief advice to you: sell something that you’re genuinely interested in and that you genuinely believe makes people’s lives better.

      As a salesperson, your job isn’t to sell something to a customer. It’s to find the right product for that person’s needs. If you sell cars you’ll listen to things like how much of a concern gas mileage, how often they need cargo space, how many kids they drive around on a regular basis. If it’s blenders you find out if they need ice-crushing for margaritas or food-processing ability for veggie smoothies or if they want a stick blender that can go right into their crock pot to make bone broth.

      When people buy something that makes their lives better and that they feel good about buying, they become repeat customers. And they remember the salesperson who helped them make the right choice. The best salespeople don’t hoodwink or pressure anyone into anything. They listen to the customer’s needs and then use their uniquely human ability to synthesize those needs against their own knowledge of the products available and recommend a product that the customer is going to be eager and happy to buy, and is going to continue to feel good about buying for months after the sale.

      If you don’t really, truly think the product you’re selling is good for anyone, you have nothing left but high-pressure slimy tactics. It’s unfortunate that this outcome is what most people think sales is.

      About other relationship jobs: Yes! Most large agencies that have clients have relationship managers. There is some sales involved, but even more than with regular sales it’s really more about the repeat sales – you’ll likely inherit a lot of clients when you first start and many leads that come in via the website or other channels will be given to you to follow up on. Your job once someone has signed on is to keep the client happy enough that they renew their contract. A lot of this boils down to shielding the engineer-types from the clients and vice versa, so the engineers don’t get annoyed with the clients for making stupid requests and the clients don’t feel confused or bored to death by the technical details of what the engineers are doing. You play liaison or go-between.

      1. GH in SoCAl

        “The best salespeople don’t hoodwink or pressure anyone into anything. They listen to the customer’s needs and then use their uniquely human ability to synthesize those needs against their own knowledge of the products available and recommend a product that the customer is going to be eager and happy to buy, and is going to continue to feel good about buying for months after the sale.”

        +1000 from someone who still feels good about paying over retail for getting the right entertainment system from a professional installer.

    12. PhoenixBurn

      Customer service roles? I’m in the moving & storage industry, and we have customer service people who partner with our clients throughout the move process. The sales people actually go to the home and close the sale, then the customer service rep carries the family through the move itself. They develop the relationship with the people, help allay nerves/fears, and generally just advocate for the customer so that the business never forgets that while we move thousands of people a year, the average person only moves once every 7 years or so. It takes a lot of the skills that you’ve described above to help people through that.

    13. INFJ

      Successful salesmanship isn’t about being pushy.

      It’s about being able to read people and knowing your product. You have to know what questions to ask to find out what their needs are and identify possible concerns they may have.

      Being able to get people to open up certainly helps.

  10. Anie

    Here’s the update on the new guy at my work.

    (Recap: His first day, he made a comment about me having a big rack and responded to directions by saying, “yessa masser.”)

    Well, he’s still there. Sigh. We ended up having to fire a different new hire last week, after I posted.
    She’s been with the company about a month and a half. I’d only worked with her one-on-one once and immediately told my boss, “She isn’t going to work out.” She was horrible but in different ways from the new guy.

    What led to the firing was she was a no-call no-show for 2 days. When we finally got a hold of her, she explained her car had failed inspection. While Massachusetts lets you drive on a red sticker/failed sticker for 30 days to give you time to fix the issue (so I hear—I don’t own a car), she decided she didn’t want to risk it. Instead of using public transportation or carpooling, she wanted the next three weeks off until she got around to fixing her car.

    She told this to my boss, who’s car broke down 2 months ago. My boss, who lives twice as far, who’s been carpooling with family and friends, and who hasn’t had time to buy a car because she’s also taking care of her sister’s newborn while her sister stays hospitalized after the difficult birth. My boss, who sometimes can’t get a ride until 4 hours after her shift, just takes the train to the hospital to visit her sister and wait until a family member drops by that can drive her.

    Fortunately, my boss was approved to take a week off this past week, mostly to deal with the new baby, hopefully get a car, and oh yeah, her grandma died Monday. She’ll deal with the new guy when she returns this coming Monday.
    In the mean time, he said to me, “Oh, I’ve got some funny jokes for you, but I’m not sure I should tell you.”

    Me: “Don’t.”

    He told someone else, who came right to me about them. They were…wow. Think of the meanest, sexist thing a person can think. That’s his jokes.

    1. ACA

      Ugggh, I am so sorry you still have to deal with that dirtbag. Hopefully his days at work are numbered (and hopefully that number is 1).

    2. Ad Astra

      How are these new hires passing the screening process at your company? Are these positions difficult to fill? You’ve got some doozies.

      “My car broke down” isn’t typically an acceptable reason to miss work, but if I was going to stay home for that, I’d at least call someone and let them know. Jeez.

      It sounds like your boss deserves a day off. Someone buy that lady a drink.

      1. Anie

        See, I think the hiring manager may be doing it to our department on purpose. I doubt anyone remembers, but last year we had a huge mess at work where one girl in our department decided she knew better than everyone else after a month. Serious attitude problem and every five minutes she wandered off to complain to her boyfriend or dad (both in different departments–can you guess how she got the job?).

        But for some reason our hiring manager got rabid about protecting her without ever discussing the issues with myself or the girls’ manager. The hiring manager got pretty intense with the bad-mouthing until her boss stepped in. But there’s still some long-last bad feelings….

        1. AdAgencyChick

          So your boss doesn’t get to hire people that report to her? No wonder things are messed up?

        2. brightstar

          It sounds as though it is getting to the point where, if the hiring manager is doing this on purpose, it’s setting the company up for legal liability and needs to be addressed.

          Also, why isn’t your boss allowed to hire the persons who will be working in her department?

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Have you reported the comments? There’s some legal liability for the company to having a sexist asshole running around making harassing comments.

      1. Anie

        My boss knows and she did bring it up the ladder, at least as far as in-building management goes. The most recent poor jokes I haven’t said anything both because my boss has been out and also because he didn’t say anything directly to me. The person who brought it up to me wasn’t complaining, technically. He was a younger guy more shocked and amused by the jokes…

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          The “big rack” thing really should be an official complaint to HR. I can’t believe they wouldn’t do something about that, at least if you’re in the U.S. Also, mention something to his boss, if you haven’t already.

    4. anonanonanon

      While Massachusetts lets you drive on a red sticker/failed sticker for 30 days to give you time to fix the issue (so I hear—I don’t own a car), she decided she didn’t want to risk it.

      I believe it’s actually 60 days, but if the car failed the safety inspection then you’re immediately banned from driving. I haven’t owned a car for a long time, so it might have changed.

      1. Anie

        Interesting! I wasn’t privy to what exactly failed, so perhaps it was a legitimate safety issue.

    5. Paige Turner

      UGH, I hope he gets tossed out as soon as your boss has time. It sucks that he’s still there, but I can see that your boss has way more important things going on. Sorry to hear about boss’s grandmother and hope her sister gets better soon. New guy has it coming for sure! As for other new person, jeez. This isn’t what you asked, but maybe whoever is hiring for these positions needs to try a different approach.

      1. Ama

        Yeah, that was my take away, too. If employees are able to tell immediately that a new hire is a problem, but they are getting hired anyway, something’s terrible wrong with the hiring process.

    6. Anonsie

      Nooo I’m so disappointed that chucklehead didn’t get dumped out immediately. Are they just waiting until boss is back on Monday?

      1. Anie

        I think it’s a mixture? Wait until boss is back–and wait for more examples of lack of judgment.

  11. Random CPA

    I’m on maternity leave, and I want to ask my boss to go back to work on a reduced schedule for six months after I return. Is this something it would be okay to ask by email, or should I go in to talk to him? If I go in to talk to him, I’d have to bring the baby and that seems less professional than sending and email.

      1. Random CPA

        I’m just worried if I do that, he’s going to think I’m having him call me so I can tell him I’m not coming back. I like what someone else suggested which is to outline my proposal and then have him call me to discuss.

    1. Mockingjay

      Write a detailed document outlining your case and email it as an attachment. In the email, request a phone conference to discuss it. That will give your boss time to read over your proposal and to think about it.

      Are there company/HR policies about reduced work schedule that you will have to comply with? Does it affect benefits? Do your homework and prepare a good business case.

      And congratulations on your baby!

    2. BananaPants

      I’ll differ from others on this – I would probably try to go in to meet with him, or at least email a clear proposal and offer to come meet with him to discuss it further. Have others in your workplace been successful in negotiating a reduced schedule for that length of time before?

      FWIW, I went to the office at around the 6-7 week mark to chat with my boss about my return to work because I wanted to work half days for the first two weeks. I brought the baby with me and she napped in her car seat bucket in his office the entire time, and it was totally fine. (I was only able to get my manager to agree to one week of half days, even using my vacation time.)

      1. Jesse

        When my one coworker came in with her baby to resign during her maternity leave, she was so stressed out about it, the baby was, too — and cried the whole time she was there! It was not the best, and other people had to walk the baby while she had her meetings.

      2. Random CPA

        We actually have a few people at my office that already work reduced schedules, though for all of them it’s just a preference, not because of recently having children. So I don’t think it will be an issue. However, as the commenter below noted, the baby could be fussy, so I don’t want to worry about that if I go in. I like the idea of proposing my schedule and asking my boss to call me to discuss it. This way he’ll have time to think it over and present any concerns. I’m also going to let him know that I’m totally fine going back full-time if he doesn’t think it will work out, or, if he allows it, to rescind it at any time if he feels like it’s not going well.

        The only thing I need to worry about benefits-wise is working at least 30 hours a week to maintain benefits. I’m planning on asking to work 4 8-hour days with 1 day off per week, or alternately if he would like me there everyday, then 5 6-hour days. And obviously take the appropriate salary cut based on the option I end up working. We just hired an extra person in my department that I passed along a lot of my duties to so my boss could push down more of his work to me. He’s slow to pass on work so I think the reduced schedule will give him time to pass work along to me.

    3. E

      Just wanted to say thanks for asking. I’m 5 months out from delivery of my first child, but am already trying to determine the best way to negotiate for a partial work from home schedule for the month or two after maternity leave. I just don’t see adjusting back to full time work as going completely smoothly. Fortunately I already am able to work from home with boss’ approval as needed occasionally, so it’s not a huge leap and I really think I’d still get all my work done.

  12. Treading Water

    This might sound silly, but I am about to embark on a job search after really building up my network the past year and a half. I haven’t really worked my network in the past for jobs, but it’s very common in the industry I am now in. My question is… How have you all begun those conversations in the past? Ask your contact to get coffee and talk to them about an interest in their company? Suddenly email them from your personal email saying you’re looking and are interested in a possible position with them?

    I can easily have the conversation once I’m in front of them, but getting started feels so awkward to me! What have others done in the past? Things that worked, things that didn’t work?

    1. Diddly

      What you’ve said doesn’t sound to bad to me, maybe instead phrase it that you’ve just started looking and are interested in picking their brains about their company/role or just ask their advice – can we meet up for a quick coffee?
      I’d love to talk to you about x, do you have some free time for a coffee and a chat?
      They can arrange a time that suits them, quick coffee means they can always dash if they feel uncomfortable – you can do the same, and you can buy the coffee :)
      I should do this but have no useful contacts :). I think it’s pretty common, nothing to feel bad about. Some people might not respond though or say they have no time.

    2. Sunflower

      I would send an email and say you’re job searching and interested in their company. I would hold off on bringing up getting coffee. Some people are really busy and want to help but really don’t have the time(or don’t want to) commit an hour to something like this. Let them decide where to go from your inquiry. Some will just send an email back and say this and this about my company, these jobs are open or some will ask if you want to get together to chat.

      I know it feels awkward but people do it alllllll the time. Most people, esp if they are higher up and it’s common in your industry, are super used to it.

      1. Koko

        This, but with a slight modification – just let them know that you’re looking for work doing X, Y, and/or Z, and you would appreciate if they let you know of any opportunities they think would be a good match. Don’t necessarily limit it to opportunities at their own company unless you specifically are only interested in a few companies. Most of the job opportunities I’ve gotten through my network has not been directly for the employer of the person who referred me. An agency rep will discreetly let me know that one of their other clients is hiring for a position like mine, or I’ll get a heads-up from a peer who has a similar job function as me but in a different industry (say, we both do teapot design but he works in chocolate and I work in mascarpone so he knows who in chocolate needs teapot designers but my contacts are mostly limited to other mascarpone companies).

  13. Intern, leaving soon

    I am so glad I got on this early.
    I am an intern at a large energy company within the audit department. I will be leaving on the 14th to return to college for my last year. I would like to bring in some thing to thank the people I worked with, both in my sub department and the department as a whole. I have a direct supervisor at this office, with the director of my department and the intern manager located in a different office in another state. So I have 2 questions. Would it be out of line to send a thank you note or email to my 3 supervisors, or would an in person thank you suffice? Also, would bringing a treat in, like a box of doughnut holes, be inappropriate. I don’t think I will get a FT offer, but would like to maintain a positive relationship with the people I worked with. Also, AMA has been invaluable in helping me navigate the professional world, thank you so much.

    1. kozinskey

      It’s totally appropriate to bring in a treat on your last day. In my interning days I brought in a big bowl of fun-size candy; our current intern brought in donuts today for his last day. I’m a fan of the email thank-you, because that way you can thank everyone you worked with and provide contact information. That’s a good thing to do in case they have questions about any work you did, and of course helps them get in touch with you if they decide they want you back =)

    2. Jwal

      Do people bring food into your office? In mine if you were to bring in a box of doughnuts or something then everyone would love you (bonus points if you also brought in grapes or something so people could kid themselves that they are eating healthily).

    3. hermit crab

      This depends a lot on your company culture, but in most cases I think either an in-person or emailed thank you would be appropriate. Around here, people tend to send a blanket “thanks, it’s been great, let’s keep in touch” goodbye email on their last day to all the people they’ve been working closely with. I’d probably skip the treats unless it’s a common thing to do in your office.

    4. Dr. Ruthless

      I think that a thank you email is perfectly appropriate (and could/should be done in addition to in-person thank you).

      Donut holes or a similar (small, cheap) gesture might be nice. But seriously, don’t spend too much (or, like, stay up all night baking on your last night or anything). I always felt weird when our interns brought us snacks, because, like, we don’t pay you [much/at all]. Let *me* buy *you* coffee.

      1. hermit crab

        Yes, thanks for articulating what I was thinking! It’s not that it’s inappropriate to bring in little treats (not at all!), but I would feel a little awkward if they’re coming from an intern. It’s different among regular employees — bring on the baked goods! :)

        1. TCO

          I once had an unpaid intern (nonprofit) who also worked at Panera and occasionally got to bring in free treats. I think it’s totally fine to bring in something inexpensive, but I would have felt uncomfortable if she’d paid a lot for the treats.

    5. SL

      I wish I’d brought in treats my last day as an intern! My company treated me to lunch and then threw me a goodbye party. It was quite a send-off for an intern, but I know that not every office is like that. If bringing in treats is something you’ve seen people do when they come back from vacation or when they just baked way too much at home, then by all means, go for it, and leave a note next to the plate in the kitchen.

      But a thank you card or email (I tend to do both email and a nice card for my supervisors) is always, always, always welcomed. Don’t skip on those! I would also look at sending an all-department goodbye email near the end of the day with your contact information and LinkedIn profile.

    6. Lily in NYC

      We had one great intern last year who gave his supervisors hand-written thank you notes, and it went over extremely well – they were all very pleased by it. Email is fine too, but don’t second-guess yourself if you want to give them hand-written ones.

      1. SL

        I had great internships and I was always sad to go, but my favorite part was going to the store to pick up thank you notes/cards and getting to pick ones that fit the personality or interests of the people I was writing them to. So many people, interns or not, don’t take the time to hand-write thank you notes anymore that it comes off as a thoughtful gesture.

      2. Sunflower

        I love to give a handwritten thank you when I can. Since it doesn’t really make sense for interviews, since you never know when it’s gonna get there in relationship to when they’re making a decision, I love doing it for things that are not time sensitive. And I think people LOVE getting them since they are so not common nowadays.

    7. T3k

      When I finished up my internships, I made sure to give them a thank you card (I was a design/print major, so it was common for us to create and print our own). It never crossed my mind to bring food, but then again, I never got a goodbye party either (though I did get to share in a wonderful German chocolate cake the bakery next door gave us because it had fallen over in it’s box so they couldn’t use it for an event).

      1. T3k

        Also, I printed my message in the card as well. It wasn’t a generic template, but because my handwriting is so small and can be difficult to read, I wanted to make sure they could actually read it xD

  14. Fawn

    I’m going to be starting a post-grad program in career advising in September. I’m really excited about it – I work at a university now in academic advising, and I expect that I’ll continue to work in college/university career centres (I love working with students). After 3 years of reading this blog, I’m hopeful that I’ll be one of ‘the good ones’.

    I’m interested in hearing from other career advisors/counsellors on a few points:
    – where do you work? (university, college, gov’t, private organization, self-employed?)
    – what do you enjoy most about your work/enjoy least?
    – and advice for someone hoping to break into the field?
    – what’s the market like in your area for this type of role? (I know mine is fairly good…just interested to know)

    1. College Career Counselor

      Congratulations on starting a post-grad program! I have also worked in academic advising, and I think you’ll find a lot of the skills are transferrable (able to listen to students, ask probing questions about what they’re interested in/care about, familiarity with higher education bureaucracy–it’s a feature, not a bug!).

      What I enjoy most about what I do is working with students to help them figure out what they’re really interested in, good at, and what skills that actually translates into. Then, showing them how to explore those interests and articulate their education and skills effectively. I got into the field to help students a zillion years ago, and they’re the reason I continue to do this work. (That said, I have done some private practice career coaching/consulting on the side and while it’s okay, I found that did not enjoy things like billing/collections, self-promotion/marketing, etc. YMMV, of course.)

      What I enjoy least about my work is two-fold:
      1) The lack of student follow-through to explore or evaluate advice, resources, suggestions, information, etc. In other words, you can lead the horse to the ATS, but you can’t make him apply. On a related note, students often don’t come back to tell you what happened with their internship/job search/grad school application/interview/negotiation, etc.

      2) The institutional pressure to provide effective services/demonstrate tangible outcomes for everyone. I get why it’s happening, but many places aren’t resourced properly and career services is an optional service for students to access at the vast majority of institutions in the U.S. So, you still get judged on the outcomes for people that you’ve never seen, can’t get to come in, and who just plain aren’t ready (for reasons of maturity, interest, focus, etc.) to take the next steps in their professional development. Get ready to do much online and group work with student populations if you go the university route, but be prepared that you will have to operate from a standpoint of encouragement and influence to engage with you, not authority.

      Advice: cultivate relationships with faculty, coaches and other university personnel who have the attention of students–they will be your allies to compete for their attention around that vast and ill-defined thing known as “life after college.” You absolutely cannot operate effectively without building those relationships (and convincing them of the value career services in general–depending on the reputation of the career department–is critical to winning their trust).

      From what I have seen, the market nationally seems to be fairly robust, depending on the level/type of institution you’re looking for. There are fewer jobs the higher up you go (which makes sense). If you’re willing to re-locate (or if your area has a lot of colleges), you should have options at the career counselor/assistant director level. Consider pre-professional advising roles (pre-health, pre-law, etc.) as another way of doing college career counseling, as well as civic engagement/community service learning as a bridge to career services. If your area has a local/regional career development professionals group, join it and go to their meetings to network with people and learn best practices–you might also get a heads-up on jobs before they’re posted.

      Hope this is helpful–good luck!

      1. Mimmy

        I’m not the original asker of this question, but you’ve piqued my curiosity. A few years ago, I had attended a function for students and alumni at the university where I got my Masters, and I remember talking with a couple of people who were just starting their programs (I think I might’ve been the only alumni there–I was invited by a faculty member I’m friendly with). One gentleman said “thank you for your counsel”. To myself, I was all, “hmmm…”. You mentioned advising for pre-professional students; what about those in professional graduate degrees, like social work or counseling?

        I haven’t been in touch with my profession as much since. I like my current graduate program (advanced certificate), but I miss my old stomping grounds!

        1. College Career Counselor

          In the undergraduate world (in my experience, anyway), there is often a pre-law or pre-health (md, PA, PT, etc.) advisor. This person may be a faculty member, a staff member, or even a part-time professional moonlighting or volunteering. I’ve occasionally seen pre-business or pre-engineering advisors, although those tend to be faculty members who are in charge of shepherding students to the 3+1/2 program (undergrad + professional degree).

          Unfortunately what I haven’t seen is anyone specifically tasked with being the pre-social work/counseling advisor. Quite a few career counseling types have social work/counseling backgrounds, so they probably do it on their own as part of their regular career counseling activities. I suspect that because the “medical/law/business professions” were historically high-paying (and the admissions process was more constrained than other fields), this contributed to the idea that specialized advising services were appropriate/necessary for students considering those paths.

          My colleagues and I have certainly had a ton of conversations with social work/counseling interested students over the years, but I’ve never seen or heard of anyone specifically tasked with that demographic as their sole job. Maybe others have, though?

        2. College Career Counselor

          Ack! I may have misunderstood! Did you mean is there career counseling for grad students in social work/counseling programs? If that’s what you meant, the answer is “sometimes.” If the school is separate/decentralized enough to have its own career services operation, there can be a director of career services for the students, often by someone who has a counseling degree/background him/herself. This person may also work with the program for practicum placement, but not always. Other times, the faculty are expected to do a lot of work with assisting their students/advisees in finding placements. If the grad student is NOT going into a counseling/social work field (which happens more than you’d think), the students generally to go university-wide career services to learn about alternatives.

          1. Mimmy

            Sorry, I know my questions don’t always make much sense :( I was referring to academic advising, but now that I think about it, I think that role falls mostly with faculty…I had a couple of academic advisors, and both were faculty members. My university (state university) did have career counselors who were liaisons to specific schools, but they still functioned under the centralized career services system, and I think it still does. The woman I regularly saw was the school of social work liaison, but I think her background was counseling, so I don’t think she understood the breadth of the field, which a LOT of people don’t (I’d ultimately wanted to move away from traditional, direct service roles).

            Ack, I digress!! Anyway, thank you so much for your insights. Your posts are always very helpful. And now I see how frustrating it can be to work with young people!! (but it sounds like it can be rewarding at times too).

      2. Fawn

        This is more insight than I ever could have hoped for – thank you so much! In many ways, it sounds like the challenges will closely mirror those in my current work – lack of follow-through from students can sometimes be disheartening, and institutional expectations can be frustrating (and shockingly out of touch). I don’t know how well-suited I would be to private coaching/consulting either, at this point in my life, but it’s definitely appealing to have the option if there’s a time when I need to create some flexibility. You’ve given me a good deal to think about.

        Also, reading your response reminded me of a comment from another AAM open thread back in December 2014 that I had actually saved because it so accurately described the type of work I enjoy doing. I pulled it up from my desktop and, sure enough, it was a comment from you! Your advice obviously speaks to me :)

  15. AndersonDarling

    I wanted to give some support to other job seekers. My husband interviewed for a “perfect” job and was supposed to hear back on Tuesday. Each day without a call was more and more depressing. (I thought I had moved passed getting obsessed with potential jobs, but I haven’t.) This job seemed so great that nothing could compare to it.
    Then I realized that this “perfect” job surfaced after just two weeks of searching and there will certainly be another one in a few weeks. There is more than one great job opening in the world! We just have to wait.

    1. Not So Sunny

      I commiserate with you. My husband is also searching and the ups and downs can be overwhelming. Like you, I so want him to find something he’s happy with. Best of luck!

    2. voluptuousfire

      +1. If you have a good resume and cover letter, there will always be other interviews. I remind myself of that when I have an interview that bites the dust. Another one pops up later that day or the next.

    3. Diddly

      Had interesting experience in terms of PR I guess surrounding job applications. I wrote last week about a job I applied for which didn’t seem to have some common sense parts in their application. Because of this I couldn’t see myself getting the role (although I gave it my all.)
      I got a rejection this week, which was the standard, we’ve gotten so many applications, you didn’t make the cut, we won’t tell you why. I decided to give them feedback on things I thought they were lacking in the application form (not in a ranty antagonistic way, but in I was frustrated I didn’t have the capacity to do x, y, z .) I didn’t expect an instant response but I got one – except it was generic without my name, saying they didn’t give feedback (which I had asked about if possible at the end.) Really all they had to do was fob me off with thank you for your feedback and we’ll look into it, and use my name and they could have responded days later. – Just left a bad feeling, that it was an impenetrable organization and I was being ignored.

      Compare this to an application I made, where they must equally get the same number of applicants, where they acknowledge my application, used my name in the Dear section, gave me a time frame, were just warm, friendly, positive and were obviously trying to keep me as a customer if I didn’t get the role – but they did it in such a way that I had a positive feeling.
      It was just such a disparate reaction, I think employers forget that job hunters are essentially insiders to their procedures and bad word of mouth spreads quicker than good.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      I once applied for a job that had my name on it. I didn’t hear anything for nearly 6 months. Then they called me in, interviewed me, and hired me. So great jobs can take a long time.

      It was a great job too. But then the CEO was killed in an auto accident, and things just fell apart. Within a year, our great team had scattered to the wind, myself included. Even perfect jobs don’t always last.

  16. Calla

    WORK UPDATE: I’ve posted in the last two threads about a male admin making a suspicious amount more than female admins with identical jobs, and how it was discovered that he founded a pick-up artist group, and then it was revealed that a director who left at the beginning of this year ALSO ran a different PUA group. Well, update! For some reason, male admin was moved to a different position which (intel says) resulted in a significant pay cut. That was super satisfying for us female admins! A few days after that, he approached one of my coworkers (in a completely different department) asking if he could join her team. She’s not hiring anyone but I don’t think she would have regardless since she knows what’s up with him!

    ALSO: I think this is kind of work related. I just started an etsy shop selling essential oil perfumes and (soon to come) skincare products! I’m pretty excited and for being open only about 2 weeks I feel good about already having some sales including a custom order. I’ve set up a FB connected to it. Does anyone have any tips for really kickstarting an online shop? I’m obviously not expecting to support myself on this but I would let to have it be an active shop.

    1. kozinskey

      I think social media can be key for etsy! I’d make sure to update the facebook page frequently. I’d also start up an instagram — I follow a few etsy folks on instagram and I love seeing pictures of new products.

      1. Calla

        Thanks! Instagram (maybe connected to a tumblr) has occurred to me but on the other hand I feel like you can only make bottles of perfume and tubs of lotion look so pretty, you know? It’s not like clothes or jewelry or something. But I’m definitely brainstorming around that.

        1. Not So Sunny

          Showing cool shots of ingredients and inspiration, along with work in progress, can be engaging.

        2. Liz

          If you go with the tumblr/blog route, use it to do more than just post pictures.

          One thing that can be very useful with corporate blogging is to become a subject matter expert on whatever you are selling.

          Have a series of posts dedicated to the benefits of different oils. Talk about the history and origin of the products. Find a way to get people to your site who aren’t looking to buy and then convert them. Link up with other bloggers in similar but not identical (think healthy/natural living) and join the community to cross-promote your products.

          Also look into pinterest. You can have your pins link to either the store or the blog depending on what you are posting. Plus you never know what kinds of things will get big on there. I am just a casual pinner, but a few of my pins that I only found sort of interesting continually have been repinned for the past year

    2. H. Hog

      You might want to consider buying one of the spots available on Etsy for one or two days. A friend of mine swears that worked for getting her sales. It’s not much money; I forget how much. Good luck to you!

      1. Calla

        Oh yeah, promoted listings? I have that set up! It’s at a pretty low daily max though, so maybe I should try upping that if it really works.

        1. Tris Prior

          For what it’s worth, promoted listings never worked for me. Being active on social media seemed to help more, and also having good tags to help people find my products in search.

          Good luck! For me summer is pretty slow on Etsy but things really pick up in the fall so you’re launching at a good time, I think.

          1. Calla

            That’s good to know! Honestly I wouldn’t have thought of there being seasons on such a huge online marketplace. What kind of shop do you have?

            1. Tris Prior

              I make jewelry – so it’s REALLY tough for me to get seen. SO much jewelry on there!

    3. Bekx

      I’d recommend a lot of keywords and basic SEO techniques. Some of the shops I’ve seen that seem successful do a lot of advertising on other platforms (instagram, facebook, tumblr, reddit) and post things that are in their shops.

      1. Calla

        Ooh, thanks! That looks great. I don’t currently meet the minimum number of items (10) but I’m going to work on some more this weekend.

    4. Chalupa Batman

      I have a friend who started a similar Etsy shop, and I did a review on her products for my blog. Then we partnered for a review and giveaway a few weeks later when she started making a product that directly related to my main topic. I don’t know if it translated to sales or not, but the review posts are still popular, and the giveaway winner was a popular blogger who raved about the products to a good sized audience. If you are able to spare a few samples, check out a few of the beauty blog groups in Facebook or look for #bbloggers in any social media, find a few bloggers that have a writing style that’s a good match for you, and offer them the samples in exchange for their honest review. Beauty bloggers are a huge community of people who are eager to give indie products a try, and we all read each other’s stuff. My blog is just for fun, but I have at least 20-30 other beauty blogs on my feed. We’re also a polite bunch-even in negative reviews, I’ve noticed that beauty bloggers try to give indies benefit of the doubt and cover pros and cons, even for products they don’t love.

  17. Christy

    Can we talk about non-profit boards? A few commenters this morning complained about boards that they’d worked with or under. I’m interested to know the general vibe around boards on AAM. I’m on a board for a small non-profit and it’s still kind of foreign to me. (Criticism totally welcomed, btw. I just want to know what people think.)

    1. misspiggy

      There’s often feeling among employees that the board should hold higher management to account, and that boards don’t do this. Good board members, while being realistic about how much actual power they have over management, make an effort to build relationships with staff to get a feel for how day to day business is going.

      1. Christy

        Real question: When would a board member interact with staff? In my instance, we only see staff a few times a year, much less than we see the executive director.

        1. misspiggy

          If it’s a funding foundation, at funding approval meetings; at site visits; at all-staff or volunteer events; at strategy and review meetings; at goodbyes for longtime staff; chatting in the corridor on the way to meetings with the CEO… In my experience with several UK NGOs of varying sizes, the best nonprofits make opportunities for board members to meet staff and clients, and the best board members push for those opportunities if not offered.

          1. misspiggy

            Should add that a few times a year is fine if board members make the effort to have formal and informal conversations with a range of staff.

        2. Florida

          In any nonprofit, the board will work mostly with the ED. In some cases, you may work a lot with development or finance. That depends on your role on the board (what committees are you on?) and the culture of the nonprofit.

          Many EDs want to keep their staff away from board members. To me, this is a red flag, particularly if the ED wants to keep development and finance staff away from the board. Let me clarify that a little… For the most part, the staff will not need to talk to the board, but I’m always concerned when the ED forbids the staff from talking to the board. I worked at place once where the ED forbid the Development Director from talking directly to any board member. That place was toxic.

          Now, it would be wildly inappropriate for a staffer to call you and complain about management issues. If that ever happens (except in very extreme situations), your response should probably be, “Have you talked to the ED about this?” You can’t get involved in the day-to-day operations of the nonprofit. That never works. But if you have a question about the tutoring program, you should be able to call the person in charge of the tutoring program to get your question answered (do we do tutoring at XYZ school?), if you want to, but it is not your place to tell the tutoring guy how to run the program.

          Does that help?

        3. InterviewFreeZone

          I’m an event director at a non-profit. I interact with my board very regularly as they are the driving force behind some of our event fundraising efforts. Same thing with my boss, the development director. And of course, the ED.

    2. KathyGeiss

      I totally understand why some staff members would want the board to be more informed/involved in the day-to-day when they feel management isn’t doing a good job. But, if you’re a board for an organization that has staff, your mandate is to stay OUT of the day-to-day and focus on the long-term direction of the organization. You need to hire a competent executive director and give them space to do their job.

      I’ve worked for organizations where board members get too involved and it causes all sorts of problems.

      Now, I think there is value in assessing the organizations health based on metrics that include staffing health (for lack of a better term). If there is lots of turnover or poor morale, you’ll want to dig into understanding why.

      1. MsM

        It also depends on the type of day-to-day help. Want to try and get your friends to donate to the organization? I am thrilled to work with you on that. Have an idea for a new speaker or a reception when the big conference is two weeks away and the programs are at the printers? Not so much.

      2. Jenna Maroney

        I just started 30 Rock (into season 4 in record time) and I have to say I giggle whenever I see your name.

      3. BRR

        I’m not sure people want the board involved in day-to-day stuff, they just want the staff to hold the ED accountable for the ED’s day-to-day stuff.

      4. Ihmmy

        I know they’re supposed to be fairly hands off, but I’ve also had the incredible frustration of having a terrible CEO and the Board refused to get involved when there were issues between her and us staff that were.. well, she was a terrible terrible ‘leader’. But she politicked well and got financial results, so they pretended it didn’t matter that she slept with past presidents and chased away the staff.

    3. khoots

      I think for me it has always been to have realistic expectations for the non-profit you’re serving. For example, the board of directors for my non-profit are extremely demanding (we also have an unrealistically large board) in the types of reports we get.

      Also if you are coming from a for-profit company, realize that the company you’re on the board for has a non-profit budget and limitations. Yes it would be great if we could cut costs and improve revenue, but as a non-profit, we’re here for the clients and not just to make an extra buck.

      1. Christy

        Thank you! What do you mean “in the types of reports we get”? Does that mean they want you to report a lot to them?

        1. khoots

          Yes they want a lot of detail; certain figures on our donors, our clients etc. A lot of it is detail that has no bearing on decision making, it’s more so for their curiosity. Things like age, gender, and location of clients I can understand, but I won’t be able to tell you how many clients have brown hair.

          We also have limitations in what our reporting software is able to provide. Yes I would love to tell you how many clients are single parent, 3 children households, but if we aren’t able to track it through the software we use then we aren’t able to report on it.

          There are also sometimes requests that we get last minute. If you are going to have a board of directors meeting, try not to request a complicated report 24hours before you meet. That is always very stressful for us on our end.

  18. Angela Vickers

    Not exactly “work” related, but an organization I volunteer for is really trying to get feedback from volunteers. I read the little form they sent out and don’t have any feedback to give them (at least that I am willing to share, so I emailed the volunteer co-ordinator telling her that I really don’t have much to share. I basically got an email back from her almost DEMANDING that I give feedback when I honestly don’t have any!!! In her email she said that she “knows” I have opinions/thoughts on the organization and begged me to share them, but…. I really don’t have any feedback that I want to share.

    How can I politely decline giving feedback AGAIN??

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      “I really don’t, but I’ll let you know if anything comes to mind. If there’s something very specific you’d like feedback on, let me know.”

    2. Paige Turner

      Wow…ironically if you didn’t have feedback before, you do now. Is there someone else in the org that you could get in touch with about the volunteer co-ordinator getting pushy? If you don’t want to do that, then I don’t think you need to be super polite back to a person who has been pretty rude to you. Tell her you already said that you don’t have feedback.

    3. AndersonDarling

      Could you comment on if they were organized? Friendly? You felt like you were making a difference or felt valued as a volunteer? Even a note that you are satisfied and plan to continue volunteering may be all they need.
      The coordinator may be trying to get a 100% response rate, so any kind of feedback is acceptable.

      1. MsM

        Or they may just need enough of a response to satisfy whoever wants the evaluation done. You obviously don’t have to do it, but I also don’t think you need to overthink it. Even “I wouldn’t change anything” is feedback. (Even if you’re only saying it because you know you can’t change the stuff that bugs you.)

        1. Florida

          I understand the need to get a certain number of surveys completed, but I would not recommend giving false feedback. If you are going to give feedback, tell them what you really think. If you aren’t willing to do that (which it sounds like the person isn’t willing), then don’t do it at all.

          Just tell them that you don’t have any feedback that you are willing to share right now. If she pushes you, just repeat that you don’t have any feedback that you are willing to share. The more she pushes, the more I would stick to the talking points.

    4. Another HRPro

      Remember, feedback isn’t limited to criticism or opportunities. Think about what you like about your volunteer experience, what you don’t like, what you would change if you could, what you want to make sure doesn’t change.

  19. Holly

    Anyone else still have (actual) nightmares after a former, absolutely horrible job/company you used to work at? Even months or years after leaving there?

    1. H. Hog

      Actually, yes, I do. I was in the legal field as an admin assistant for about a decade, and sometimes I dream I am in this law firm, expected to use a typewriter (yes, I am that old) and working for one of the most annoying bosses I’ve ever had (he had Alzheimer’s and nobody would admit anything was wrong. It was like “Gaslight.”) This was a good 20 years ago now.
      Also, for the longest time after I was laid off from my former position, I dreamed I was working there for no pay. In the dream, I volunteered to go in there and work and told them I didn’t even need money–to please just let me stay. Which was totally bizarre, b/c I hated that job and it was a total relief when they let me go.

      1. Bend & Snap

        Yes. 8 years in that company, 3 years gone, and I still have dreams about my terrorist of a boss.

    2. Turanga Leela

      Yep. I used to be a teacher in a wildly disorganized school, and I still have nightmares that I’m in front of a class with no lesson plan and a horde of middle schoolers to contain.

      I think most teachers have some version of this dream, just like most students have dreams about taking an exam for a class they didn’t realize they were in.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Yeah, every teacher I know has this recurring dream. I have the one of being in college and forgetting I’ve been enrolled in a class and the final is tomorrow.

        1. Holly

          I havef that one constantly even though I’ve been out of college for years! Apparently I enrolled in several classes but don’t know where the classrooms are, and then I figure out 1-2 of them and think I’m fine but it turns out I forgot another 1-2 and haven’t attended since first week and now I’m failing them…argh. They’re the worst.

          1. H. Hog

            OMG! I have that one too, about the forgotten class and non-attendance. I’m in grad school at the moment so I’m sure that has something to do with it.

          2. sophiabrooks

            I have this exact dream all the time, too. It also involves trying to go to the registrar’s office to try and withdraw from the classes I haven’t been attending. But I can never locate the office, or if I do, I can’t find or fill out the right forms in time to make the deadline.

            Often the classes are located in my high school.

            I graduated from high school in 1991 and college in 1995.

            1. Dynamic Beige

              I’ve had this one a few times, too and haven’t been in college for years. It usually happens that there’s a big project due, I haven’t been to the class (sometimes I forgot I was even enrolled in it) and the deadline for withdrawal has past.

              I had the taking-an-exam-that-you-don’t-know-what-it-is-and-haven’t-studied dream once. I was back in the high school gym, I could see the foolscap paper, the clock on the wall counting down to 9am. But as I started to panic, I suddenly just burst out in the dream “This is ridiculous! I graduated from high school years ago!” Never had it again and I am not someone who can lucid dream, it was pure frustration on my part.

            2. afiendishthingy

              In my high school dreams I can never find my locker and I can’t remember my schedule. I also feel really awkward about being in high school even though I’m in my 30s, but there was one class I never took that was actually required. And of course I haven’t been in months. Usually at some point I say WAIT don’t I have two post-secondary degrees?? They wouldn’t have given those to me if I hadn’t really graduated high school, would they??

        2. H. Hog

          My mom was a schoolteacher and she still has a recurring dream that she gets a letter in the mail that her college degree is invalid and she has to take a special test to get “recertified.”

          1. Colorado

            haha! Me too! I have a reoccurring dream that I never finished my degree and have to go back to living in the dorms. Just had it the other night again!

        3. bridget

          They are also always, always math classes, so I KNOW that I cannot BS/guess my way into a passing grade. (I haven’t taken a real math class since I was 17, but clearly the anxiety really settled in).

          1. Katie the Fed

            Mine is usually something obscure that I couldn’t possibly memorize the night before the test, like 19th century Japanese history.

        4. Anonsie

          I have this dream all the time. There was an XKCD about it some years ago and Randall Munroe said you just get those dreams forever. Forever.

          I feel like this is a pretty good indicator of how we treat students.

          1. Katie the Fed

            When I was a teaching assistant, I actually had a kid run up to me after a class the week before the final. He had always been on the roll but never there so I figured it was a registrar mistake. Anyway, he comes in and says “Is this PoliSci 120? I totally forgot I enrolled in this class – what should I do?”

            All I could think was to send him to the registrar.

            So it actually IS possible this can happen – which I think scares me even more :)

            1. College Career Counselor

              You did the right thing. Depending on the school, sometimes you can get the instructor to sign a “never taken/never attended” form which will allow the student to drop the class. How do I know this? Because I pre-registered for a course as a “place-holder” in the spring for the upcoming fall semester. Four months later in the fall, I got into the course that I had initially been closed out of and forgot to drop the original class. D’OH! (Turned out okay, but I was sweating getting an F for a class I never took)

              1. Anonsie

                This should make me feel better but all it’s doing it spiking my anxiety that it is totally possible to accidentally be registered in a course all semester without knowing. Oh god.

    3. Owl

      Yep. But mostly they consist of things being so horrible that I yell at them about it. I’m the last person to yell at anyone for anything, am slow to anger, etc, but in those dreams, wow! I think in the most recent one they weren’t taking care of the fish properly and I chewed out my former manager about it. Heh. Felt awful when I woke up, but also felt relieved. I didn’t realize how bad it was until after I left.

    4. louise

      Yes. It used to be at least a couple times a week, but as time has gone by, I only remember these dreams a couple times a month. I keep hoping they’ll go away for good.

    5. GOG11

      I had some dreams after quitting my retail job. One in particular that I remember wasn’t actually after I’d left, but it was pretty funny.

      My cat had had surgery that day and was pretty loopy so when I went to bed I left the bedroom door open so I could hear if he got into (or fell off of) anything. Sometime in the middle of the night, the anesthesia wore off but not the pain meds, so he was feeling really good I guess. He kept doing laps around my place, part of which involved jumping up on the bed, running over my body, and jumping back down.

      My brain translated that into him being a customer placing orders, but he kept changing the details so I’d have to redo bits, but I couldn’t understand him because he ordered in meows. I somehow was still producing things and was super stressed that I wouldn’t get his ever-changing orders completed in time. I don’t miss that job.

      1. Kelly L.

        To be fair, dealing with annoying customers is a lot like dealing with an insomniac, drugged cat. LOL!

          1. GOG11

            I tend to agree with you. I had one guy who was talking on the phone through his whole order. He asked for a copy of something, I made a copy, gave him the copy and the original, and he asked which one was the copy. I pointed to it, and he replied that it looked like shit. Uh…if you can’t tell the difference between your original and the copy, maybe your original looks like shit? Why would you expect a copy of it to be any better? It’s a copier, not f*cking photoshop.

    6. Kairi

      I used to work at a Panera Bread a few years back, and I still have nightmares about portioning chicken and endless customers complaining but every time I tried to fix the problem, something else would go wrong. Working in the food industry was really eye-opening about a lot of things.

    7. Sydney Bristow

      I used to work retail and fast food and still have nightmares about trying to close up but people keep showing up and I can’t ever lock the doors.

    8. msbadbar

      Yes–oddly, I was just thinking about this yesterday after I saw my old manager’s face on LinkedIn. It looks like he’s still using the fake job title he made up for his tenure at my old company. He was the Teapot Director, but he listed his title as Director of all Ceramics Production so he could get his current job, Director of all Ceramics Production. I wonder how HR at his new org didn’t catch that.

      He was a piece of work and made working there very depressing. He bad mouthed the org and most people in it to us, his team, on a regular basis. He had some kind of beef with his boss (a woman I respected and liked) and spread around ill will on the regular. Almost every team meeting was about how the company sucked and was doing us all wrong and we should all find new jobs (really). It was sad.

    9. Another English Major

      Yes, I used to wait table and I had nightmares all the time about angry customers, getting too many tables all at once, and basic things like drinks and bread running out. I haven’t been a server for 5 years now but every once in a while I still have these nightmares.

    10. Elizabeth West

      Not nightmares, but I still dream about the cafe in California and it’s been like 25 years. I dream that I stop in and have to make sandwiches. Or that I have to work there again for some reason. One time I dreamed I was still working there and a spaceship landed in the parking lot and my boss made me go out to see if they wanted to place an order. o_O

  20. lia

    I’ve done a couple rounds of interviews with a company I’d like to work for and the final round will be next week. I haven’t been asked for references yet, but I’m sure it will come up soon. Problem is, one of my usual references applied for a job at this company and turned it down in favor of another offer. Should I shy away from giving him as a reference for this company, or would something like this not matter?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Shouldn’t matter. They thought enough of him to want to hire him, and it’s not like turning down an offer = spitting in their face. It’s a normal part of doing business.

  21. Anonforthisoneyeah

    It doesn’t matter how many hiring committees I serve on, I still get anxious when I’m waiting to hear back about a job I applied for.

    On the flip side, I was able to hire the candidate I wanted.

  22. HigherEd Frustration

    Does anyone in HigherEd have any advice? I’m trying to move into HigherEd in a more entry level position and/or Admin Assist position. I graduated in 2012 and have about 3-5 years of experience doing Administrative Assistant roles or things very similar. I keep getting interviews (thanks to this blog!), and got to the final round of interviews for about half, but I still can’t seem to get a job offer. When I ask for feedback, I’ve been told that my resume and cover letter are great, that my interview was impressive, and there’s nothing they think I need to work on. It all comes down to the other person having more experience than me. A couple have even called me on the phone to tell me to look out for future openings and that they really hope to see me in the future. I know they might be blowing a little smoke and/or not being 100% truthful in their feedback, but I feel really hopeless. I know its rough out there, but my current job is a nightmare I’ve been trying to escape for the last year. Any advice on how to stand out or make a great impression in a University interview?

    1. TotesMaGoats

      It sounds like are doing a great job already. It’s entirely possible that the other candidates really do have more experience and that’s the deciding factor. The only other advice I can give is to make sure you’ve really done your homework on the university you are apply to. I always ask “tell me what you know about X College?” as my first question. It’s super simple but cuts through the weaker candidates quickly. The normal answer is “my friend/coworker/etc went there and really liked it.” No, just no. Be able to talk about mission, history, the population served (if it’s a non-traditional school, for example), about the president and his/her goals for the institution and how you can help with that.
      I like asking that because it’s all easily accessible information and if you can’t answer it then you probably didn’t do any research. So immediately you are bumped down my list.

      1. Ama

        Seconded. I will add that a lot of universities have customized or in-house systems they expect an admin assistant to be able to get up to speed on quickly — you may be losing out to people who have worked directly with their byzantine in house purchasing system, or whatever. I know that was a huge barrier to entry at the last university I worked for.

        What has always worked for me when trying to get hired in areas where I have little experience is stressing examples where I had to quickly get up to speed on a process or system and was successful. It seems to reassure people that I’m both aware of how much I don’t know, but also totally capable of dealing with it until I do.

      2. College Career Counselor

        +1. They want to know why you want to work THERE (as opposed to the college across the street), and the more specific you can be about how the student population/mission/ethos of the place not only fits what you’re looking for but how you can contribute to it, the better.

    2. voluptuousfire

      Can’t offer you any advice in regards to higher ed, but can definitely empathize about getting to the last round of interviews and being edged out to that other candidate with the magical x factor you don’t have. It’s too much of not enough. Solidarity!

      1. HigherEd Frustration

        How have you expressed how you are a quick learner/can learn new systems easily? I actually worked at my university using some of the systems these jobs require, but it only seems to get me in the door. I’ve talked about how I have always learned new skills quickly. I try to highlight how I’ve been promoted at my last job, I take new projects on, proactive in solving problems; I’ve even talked about traveling abroad by myself (when it seemed appropriate). I’m really struggling to figure out how to answer these questions when I do have limited experience. It seems like my college degree and non-work related experiences aren’t helping either. I guess I’m just ranting a bit, but how am I supposed to edge out people with more experience when no one will give me the opportunity to gain more experience? Thanks for the solidarity!

    3. sophiabrooks

      At my university, the jobs labeled “Admin Assistant” really needed someone who knew all the university systems already, or at least knew where they could get their own training. The job I had to start with was Secretary III, then move up to Secretary IV, and then move to Admin Assistant, which is for some reason considered “Professional Staff” and not “Support Staff” like the secretaries. I don’t think I know anyone who started at the Admin Assistant level who had not worked at the university in a support staff role.

      I don’t know if this is true for the universities you are applying to, it might just be a weirdness of mine.

      1. HigherEd Frustration

        From all of the obsessive information gathering I’ve been doing for the past year, “Admin Assist II” seems to be the most entry level position in a support staff role at this university. Some of the departments have “Admin Assist I” or some variant of “Support Coordinator,” etc. It seems to really be up to the department. I won’t get a call for the lower level position, but then will get calls for higher level positions. “Admin Assist II” also has a LARGE degree of what they can be responsible for from basic receptionist duties to being in charge of high pressure graduate recruitment and marketing (I was NOT prepared for that interview ugh). I’m just really frustrated that the minimum requirement is HS Diploma or GED and 2-5 years experience and I’m either told I don’t have enough experience or asked why I would want an entry level position with all of my experience?! WHAT?!

        1. Ama

          Yeah, university positions can vary widely depending on individual department structures. I started at an Admin Assit II position in a teeny department (3 full time employees) and by the time I left it I was basically the department administrative manager (but couldn’t get an actual raise/promotion, so I left) — then I was an Administrative Coordinator position which was technically a higher level and paid more (there were “staff” positions and “administrator” positions, and AC was an administrator tier), but it was for an entire grad school, so it was mostly just a bigger workload with less authority.

    4. Another HRPro

      It has been several years, but I used to work in HigherEd. I would make sure you convey why you want to work in this field. Folks in HigherEd tend to talk almost as if their work is a calling. They place a high value on the aspiration to be involved (in any way) in educating society and young people specifically. They also value people want to advance their own education so if you have an interest in continuing your own education, I would mention that as well. Good luck!

      1. HigherEd Frustration

        Good to know! One of the main reasons I was interested in working there was the opportunity to continue my education, but I wasn’t sure if that was really appropriate to bring up. I didn’t want them to think that was the one and only driving force behind why I applied there.

    5. InterviewFreeZone

      I’ve been in this boat. Just keep applying – I’m sure you’ve heard that already, but it’s true. When I was hiring admins for my department in a university, we would literally get 300+ applications within the first few days. We regularly had more good candidates than we could use and we absolutely would pass on the resumes to other hiring managers looking for admins to save them some time on the initial screenings. In my experience, the HR person would not be indicating you should keep applying unless you were a strong candidate. It can take a frustratingly long time, but you’ll get in the door. It’s just very competitive due to the benefits that come with a lot of those jobs (health, dental, life, amazing retirement, tuition, childcare, etc).

      1. HigherEd Frustration

        I guess part of the problem is that I am usually only interacting with the search committee and don’t have a direct HR person to speak with. The people telling me I am a strong candidate are on the hiring committee of the department, so if I apply to a different department it’s kind of like starting all over again. Could this potentially not be true? Ughh Thanks for listening, its just very disheartening when I’ve applied so many times and interviewed so many times and nothing is happening. AwfulJob isn’t helping. TGIF.

    6. Jennifer

      I have the same problem, and there’s nothing you can do if someone has more experience.

    7. Cruciatus

      I’ve been working at a med school (until today!) and start as an admin 2 within a major university system on Monday. It took me what felt like “forever” to get here. Even before I started at the med school I was looking for university jobs to no avail. But I started in the library doing a crap job with terrible hours (for nearly 2 years), then doing an administrative role with way more responsibilities (2.5 years). I started applying to other positions (mostly at universities) about a year into the med school administrative role. About 1.5 years later I got a few bites and a couple of interviews, then nothing. Kept this up until about 1.5 months ago when I told myself to just write the damn cover letter already and send it in–why spend so much time on it just to get rejected? (I realize this is probably my issue, not yours–just telling you what I went through). So I banged one out and sent it and…2 hits in a row at universities. Two interviews. Two offers. I couldn’t believe I was in the position to turn something down! But when I did the interview for the job I eventually accepted it felt right. I have my Master’s in sociology and this position is for a humanities/social sciences department. Just everything seemed to click. I didn’t think this when I was rejected previously, but now, I’m almost glad I didn’t get the other jobs because I think this position is more up my alley than the others. I thought the previous interviews I had were pretty good, if maybe not always great. But I seemed to click instantly with the staff/faculty at the interview and was the right one at the right time. I’m not saying fate/destiny or anything like that! Just that while waiting to get a new job I kept building up my experience until eventually I had everything they were looking for and the right person liked what they saw.

      So, in short, keep applying. I know you’re frustrated–I was there too! I almost can’t believe how good my job/employer I start on Monday sounds. I want to say “it was just luck” but I finally had the right person read my resume and was able to convey my skills/experiences in the interview well. It sounds like you’re doing what you can–I doubt these people are lying to you. Just keep applying and I’ll bet you’ll be perfect for a job that’s just around the corner.

    8. Pinkie Pie Chart

      Anyone who calls you telling you to look for future openings is indeed very interested. If you see something that comes up, apply and then give your contact a heads up. That can short circuit some of the rigamarole you have to go through. Take heart that you *are* getting interviews and you *are* killing them and you *are* AWESOME!

      I recently went through a similar thing. Made it to the final two, other person was offered and accepted. Less than 3 weeks later, they called me and asked me if I was still interested in working with them and that they had a new job opening. I know it’s depressing when you can’t take that last step, but it will work out eventually.

  23. Malory Archer

    It’s my last day at my summer internship! My manager and I had a great conversation last week, I got a lot of positive feedback and based on what he said it sounds like I have an open invite to come back after I graduate next spring (it’s not like a finance/consulting deal where there’s a specific offer on the table that I’d have to take or leave). I said I’d like to maintain some (very limited) level of involvement during the school year, which is something my team had been pushing for previously, so things are definitely ending on a good note.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can best maintain the relationship with the company/stay involved without overextending myself while I’m in school, and also keeping my options open? I did make it clear that I’d have to keep it very limited for now especially since I’ll be recovering from surgery and starting classes again. It’s a very interesting company and I like the people A LOT – but since it’s a rapidly changing environment and there’s no formal offer I also don’t want to close myself off to other options. I’m thankful to be in such a great position and don’t want to screw it up so I’d love any advice :)

    1. Bee

      I don’t know how you can keep in touch work wise, but make sure to keep them updated of your school progress or just drop an email now and then so they don’t forget you!

    2. fposte

      Can you be more specific about what you mean by limited involvement? Is it an hourly job or volunteering, and is there a specific project or goal that you might be involved with?

      1. Malory Archer

        We’ve talked about it in terms of having me work on projects that could be done entirely on my own time and remotely (thus eliminating the need for my attendance at any meetings or having to rework my schedule). I’m currently paid hourly. For example, one of the things we talked about was building a more formal relationship between the company and my school for recruiting purposes.

        I’m mostly concerned about not getting stuck in a commitment to a certain number of hours, and being able to say no to tasks. (The project manager I work with a lot, who is not my manager, frequently gives me more menial things to do, which is fine while I’m a full time intern but I don’t want to be writing emails or creating agendas for him while I’m in school.)

        1. Dawn

          I totally think you should email whoever would be assigning you tasks once you have settled in for your first week or two of school and outline *extremely clearly* what level of commitment you’re comfortable with. So you can figure out which classes are gonna be tough and get a handle on how much time you’re going to have to commit to your studies.

          Send a really friendly informative email like “Hey Tawanda, I’m settled in at school and right now I can comfortably handle X hours of work for you guys a (week/month/whatever). I’ll have two big papers coming due the week of (date) and (date) so I have to block off those weeks now so I can work on them. Really looking forward to staying in touch with you (end email on a note of how great it was to work with them etc etc)”

          1. fposte

            This is excellent. Do this.

            From my standpoint, as somebody who relies on students for a lot of work, I’m fine with some irregularity of schedule, but I have to know what I could count on you for. Dawn’s answer articulates what you *can* do, and that’s why it’s great.

          2. Malory Archer

            I like this a lot too! The only complicating factor – which HR is currently sorting out – is whether they decided to “extend” my internship status, and have me keep my computer and whatnot while I’m dormant, which would make me feel a little more obligated to start working sooner/more. But that’s mostly my own anxiety, I guess.

            1. Dawn

              You ain’t obligated to do jack shit till you get your school stuff sorted out. Finishing school is priority #1- you’ve got the rest of your life for work to be top priority!

        2. College Career Counselor

          Do they want you to be a recruiting ambassador among your peers? You could always loop your career services recruiting folks into the conversation and see if it makes sense to do an info session/presentation on campus with the company recruiter AND you. Just a thought..

          1. Malory Archer

            Yup, we’ve definitely talked about that – it’s beneficial all around so I would do it even if they weren’t keeping me on. My manager graduated from the same b-school I’m at so he’s really excited about developing a better relationship.

        3. Another HRPro

          My company does this with interns. I would recommend asking them what they see as the time commitment. Generally it is not too much. I believe our former interns work around 10 hours a week. The majority of the responsibilities include helping with campus recruiting event. In our case, we are very flexible with these individuals on their schedule.

  24. bassclefchick

    The WORST interview experience ever (a final update):

    Last week, I posted about being called in for an interview the previous Thursday (so, 2 weeks ago now). The admin wanted it scheduled as soon as possible, so I set it up for the next day (Friday). Less than 24 hours to prepare for an interview isn’t ideal, but fine, I can do it.

    Three hours after setting up the interview, the admin calls me back and tells me that the hiring manager’s schedule has changed and they’ll have to reschedule my interview. OK, a bit odd, but this stuff happens.

    So I heard nothing from the admin on that Friday or the next Monday morning, so I called her last Monday afternoon to ask for an update. All she said at that point was that the hiring manager had not gotten back to her yet and they would let me know. Well, now the alarm bells are starting to ring and I’m getting extra nervous. But I figured I followed up once and that’s all I get.

    Did I ever hear back from them? No. Instead, this week I got the “thanks, but no thanks..we decided to go with a candidate with more experience” email. Um, what?! More experience? I met every single one of their requirements in the job description. I don’t know what more I could have done.

    So, I’m left to conclude that the admin royally screwed up and wasn’t supposed to call me in for an interview at all and I was just supposed to get the rejection email. Which really sucks. I mean, I get it. Mistakes happen. But own up to it. Don’t lie to me and tell me you’re going to reschedule the interview and then cop out and send me a crappy email saying I won’t be moving forward. I would have much rather gotten (and really, I kind of deserved) a phone call explaining the mistake and an apology. But at least they didn’t make me come in for an interview anyway if I had zero chance of getting hired.

    I’m trying to look at this as a bullet dodged because if this is how they operate at this stage of the hiring process, what would they be like to work with?! Job hunting sucks anyway, but this one? This one really hurt.

    1. H. Hog

      I’m sorry this happened to you. Job hunting does suck, and this kind of thing is a big red flag. Be glad you are not working for people who can’t get their act together.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Meeting all their requirements doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t have been more qualified, and that while the admin was waiting on rescheduling info, someone else got hired. I’d take it at face value and not assume there’s something nefarious going on here.

      1. Mimmy

        While I agree with the first part about the requirements, I just think this process was handled sloppily. I don’t think it was intentional, but it doesn’t seem right to leave someone hanging like that. If you’re not going to reschedule after all, be upfront. Maybe I’m out of touch, JMHO.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, ideally there would have been a personalized email explaining what happened instead of a form rejection (and that’s certainly what I would have done) but I don’t think the way this went down is terribly unusual or outrageous in the scheme of things.

        2. AnonAnalyst

          I agree. I think this was handled poorly. I am super wary of the last minute interview cancellation after having something similar happen to me twice. I pretty much expect to never hear back again when that happens. Just tell me that you’ve decided to move forward with other candidates, rather than saying “we need to reschedule” and disappearing or sending me a rejection later. That leaves a much worse impression of your organization with me as a candidate.

    3. Anie

      That suuuucks! I was once on my way to an interview. An assistant called to reschedule because the person I was meeting “decided to leave early?” Umm, wut? Thanks but no thanks.

      1. OfficePrincess

        I had one call to reschedule an interview right as I was parking my car in their lot. Gee, I’m so glad I got ready and fought traffic to have you call less than 20 minutes before our time. I ended up getting an offer before they ever called with a new time. Sorry but no.

        1. College Career Counselor

          I was rear-ended once about two minutes out from a job interview. Granted, there was little to no damage, but I did have quite a bit of adrenaline going into that first meeting.

          1. BenAdminGeek

            I once interviewed someone who’d just totaled his car driving over to our building. The first 15 minutes of the interview were a bit awkward as the poor guy sweated profusely and tried to compose himself and kept apologizing. Overall a good candidate, we hired him.

    4. Kasia

      I think this is a pretty big over reaction. Theres nothing telling you that the admin screwed up. She was probably told to call you to schedule the interview and then they needed to reschedule and they hired someone in the mean time. Or maybe they were waiting to hear back from someone they already offered the job to and didn’t want to waste your time with an interview but also didn’t want to reject you yet. Who knows.

      And I’m going to guess the “went with someone with more experience” email was a form email and I don’t think you should take it so personally.

      Job searching does suck but as someone who has been on both sides of the coin you really need to understand that you’re just a candidate to them until they hire you and you’re really not entitled to much. Not everything is personal.

        1. bassclefchick

          All very good points! Thanks, everyone for the perspective! It just seemed REALLY odd to me. At least I got SOME sort of response out of them instead of wondering when they were going to reschedule. I’ve been reading this blog long enough to know that nothing is certain until an offer is presented. Time to move on and look for the next opportunity!

      1. Anonsie

        I agree. Rather than assuming the admin screwed up, I would assume this was the poor admin having to be the middleman in an awkward position. They decided to interview you and asked her to do that, then something changed and they asked her to hold off, then they went with someone else and told her to just not schedule you at all.

        I’m usually the middleman between the people I support and other departments, and I end up looking like a crazy person all the time. In my department they’ll be making decisions based on things I don’t want to broadcast, so I have to be very generic when changing the instructions I’m giving other people. Some folks seem to get it, but some people definitely do seem to just assume it’s some problem with me.

      2. Sunflower

        Yea this is how I feel. Same thing happened to me. They called said they needed to reschedule the interview and would call back later to do so. I got an email a few hours later saying they wouldn’t be rescheduling because they hired someone. It all sucks but everything Kasia said is true. Don’t take it personally and just move on.

    5. Lizzy

      I once had an admin assistant call me to set up a phone screener. I got back to his message a few hours later and he said that he has enough candidates to interview for now, but my credentials was great and maybe next time his org would reach out to me if another position opened up. Apparently, he was suppose to pick 10 candidates to phone screen and recommend 4-5 for his manager to interview in person, but mistakenly called 15 and decided whoever got back to him on a first-come-first-serve basis would get in the screening pool. Ugh. I’ve also shown up to interviews only to be told they filled the position already. Man, was I bitter about that!

      The reality is the hiring process is riddled with human error. It is likely you were in consideration at some point, but the candidate they really wanted got in before you and they decided to cancel the rest of the hiring process. It sucks, but it happens. As the AMA motto goes: You just have to move on.

    6. YaH

      I emailed my resume, had my personal contact put in a good word, and waited. A week or so later, I get an email from the person for whom I’d be working- “Thank you for coming in to interview for this position, but we have decided to go in a different direction.” Erm… I didn’t interview? I just responded by thanking them for letting me know, and I’m relieved to have inadvertently discovered their disorganization before it was too late.

      Interestingly, there’s another opening for the exact same title currently posted. (There are only 4 of these positions.)

  25. H. Hog

    I don’t know what to do about my situation. Without any kind of forewarning, my boss gave me a rather bad annual review. I was warned that if my rating dropped anymore, I would be written up. I believe I was being punished for trying to not engage in personal conversations with him. He talks endlessly about his hobby to anyone who will listen. Because there is not enough work here (for anyone), I can’t use the method Allison recommends (“Say, Wakeen, I’d like to chat, but I’ve got to get these TPS reports done ASAP.”) If you try to change the subject, he brings it right back. If you get up to go to the bathroom, he remembers where he left off. Basically, an annoying narcissist.
    So I started semi-ignoring him, or giving noncommittal comments. In my review he said I was “isolating myself from the rest of the dept.” and twisted it around so that my review says I’m not a team player. Also, I complained about getting a new telephone (I was in a particularly bad mood that day–my mom had had a bad fall and ended up in hospital, which I explained to him. His response? We all have our problems). So on my review, he put that I don’t adapt well to new situations in the office.
    Never once did he approach me to discuss his “concerns.” He also said that a senior member of staff “never sees me anymore” and for that reason, I must now work half a day at the front desk (it’s a library) and share my desk with a person I absolutely despise (and who is now boss’s New Best Friend). No one else in the library has to share a desk. Some people even have their own offices (and not just the librarians–the assistants).
    I feel that I am being punished and targeted for this kind of treatment. IN the meantime, my partner thinks I should approach that senior member and mention that my boss said “he never sees me anymore” at the desk, and that I’m concerned and would like to discuss it. Senior member and my boss are also friends (like, for 25 years). I’m afraid doing that will backfire.
    My plan is to apply for another job as soon as one becomes available. Not only for the above reasons, but because I am bored stiff at this job and I’m not learning any new skills or gaining any valuable experience.
    Just wondering what you think. Should I just let this go? Should I approach senior member of staff? Should I mention it to anyone that I’m the only person sharing a desk in the library?
    This is really upsetting me and I don’t even want to come to work anymore.
    Thank you for listening.

      1. Turanga Leela

        Yeah, H.Hog, if it’s not getting in the way of your work, you probably have to embrace your boss’s hobby (and conversations about the hobby). Think of it as a new job responsibility.

        But I’m sorry you were blindsided by the review—that sucks, and it sounds like work is just a lousy place to be right now. Hang in there.

        1. H. Hog

          Thank you. That’s what I’m trying to do, just keep a positive attitude while I’m here and keep looking around.

      2. H. Hog

        Well, I wasn’t exactly ignoring him, as in pretending he’s a ghost or something. I just didn’t fully turn around in my seat when he was addressing me. Or I would just not really engage in the conversation. Honestly, I just couldn’t take it anymore. IT’s the same stories over and over and over…for four years now.

        1. Christy

          This desk-sharing–are you sharing the front desk? Or is desk-sharer moving into your existing desk part time? I’m confused about the logistics here.

          1. H. Hog

            We are also sharing the front desk.
            Backstory: Mr. Desk Sharer never really had a desk, because the position he was hired to fill was previously part time. He was the only staff person on duty after the rest of us went home at night. So he didn’t really need a desk. So the desk I was using was considered “shared” with whoever held the night shift, even though that person does not have any personal objects (such as photos), nor do they have any work-related papers. I do have work-related papers–part of my job requires keeping binders of various types, plus supplies for book-labeling, etc.

            The thing is, there is a lot wasted space behind the front desk, including a desk that supposedly belongs to my boss and is full of old paperwork and dried-up supplies, plus a bookcase that is full of (you guessed it) old paperwork and dried-up supplies. Things could probably be moved around and consolidated, but I think it has less to do with organization than it does to do with “showing me who is boss.”

            Oh, by the way, Mr. Desk Sharer’s mother is in administration in this institution. Favoritism, maybe? Just possibly?

            1. Christy

              I’m probably not getting the whole picture here, but I’m not entirely seeing how this is “showing you who is boss”. Could you take the initiative to clean up behind the desk so that you don’t have to share space anymore? It seems like that way, you could still have your own desk and you’d be getting rid of something that’s probably been an issue for a while.

              1. H. Hog

                It’s a bit hard to picture, but I can’t clean the boss’s desk or the shelf unit. The boss goes apeshit when anybody touches anything, even if it’s been sitting there for eons and covered in dust bunnies.

                I think he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder in addition to being a narcissist. For example, he has his own two-drawer file cabinet, which he locks at night. After he locks it, he pulls on the drawers five times each to make sure they’re really locked.

                If you move anything around here, he gets really upset.

                I’ve been told by a coworker that the staff in this place really, really dislikes change of any kind.

                1. Beancounter in Texas

                  I think we have the same boss.

                  I used to work late because I’d be interrupted so much during the day that finally, after 5pm I could focus and get something finished. Nope! Boss would find me and reiterate a story I’d heard numerous times before, demanding my entire attention.

                  Once he expounded on his disbelief that some companies let employees bring dogs into the office! Dogs! He could never let that happen here – it’s too unprofessional and nothing would get done. And the very next morning, I sh*t you not, his dogs escaped his yard, so he brought them both into the office(!!!). I stopped staying late since he would just monopolize my time anyway.

                  And while The Boss isn’t OCD, he hoards papers. I kid you not, there is a folder labeled “XXX’s Taxes ’75 & ’76” taking up prime real estate in the filing cabinets here, next to file drawers full of The Boss’ personal papers, like folders labelled “E., A. & H.’s Trip To San Antonio 7/15/2002” and it’s full of MapQuest directions, hotel reservations, and a dated brochure about the hotel amenities. Meanwhile, files in which we actually need to store in file cabinets get packed into bankers boxes and files older than me, and never looked at, occupy file drawers. I feel your pain H. Hog.

    1. Ragnelle

      H. Hog, sorry you are going through this. The whole situation sounds demoralizing. Working the front desk should never be used as a “punishment”–it should be the focal point of a library’s customer service, and treating it like that leads to disgruntled, burned-out employees and less-than-stellar customer service.

      In my experience with people like this, my best advice is to keep your head down until your boss finds a new person to be upset with. Does your boss tend to hold grudges for a long time? Things may change soon(ish) into something you can live with. Use your free time to work on job applications.

      If you have a good relationship with the senior member, you might consider asking about why they feel they haven’t seen you lately, but it definitely could backfire. I would recommend talking to your boss either in person or by email to say that you were somewhat surprised by the review you received and would like to discuss ways you can improve your performance. Such a discussion will hopefully encourage him to quantify what he wants from you and let you know what he expects so the situation doesn’t get worse.

      Finally, as boring as it may be, can you engage him in conversation when he starts talking to you? Ask questions about his hobby? Talk about someone you know who also does that hobby? Think of him as a particularly trying patron rather than your boss, maybe. I hope the situation gets resolved soon, one way or another.

    2. fposte

      Well, your boss sounds deeply annoying. However, I don’t think sharing a desk is an issue worth going over a boss’s head about–after all, at least one other person does have to share a desk, so it’s not only you, and you haven’t described any reason why it’s a problem for your work productivity. I also don’t see any reason to assume that favoritism is why your boss has his job, given that it sounds like there’s overstaffing generally, since you say you don’t have much work to do either (unless you’re also part of the family :-)). Whether family stresses give you an out for a bad attitude moment depends on what you actually said and what your attitude is like otherwise; doing desk duty also doesn’t seem out of line as a library expectation since it’s not making it impossible for you to do your other work, regardless of the motivation.

      I think, though, that you and your boss have kind of had it with each other, and that that’s really hard to pull out of, especially for the junior side of the dyad. I think your plan to move on is a good one, and in the meantime I would, for your own training and morale, experiment with letting the annoyance go–let the boss natter, bring your brightest smile to the front desk and your shared desk, and mentally move on.

      1. Christy

        fposte, you’re the best. I agree with everything you said, and I couldn’t have put it this well.

      2. H. Hog

        No, my boss doesn’t have his job because of this other guy’s mom. He’s been here for years and years. The Desk Sharer was foisted on our department by the mom. He’s highly incompetent and no matter how many times we try to show him how to do things according to library procedure, he does it for a little while and then just does whatever the heck he feels like doing, whether it’s incorrect or not. My boss has stopped correcting him or talking to him about his errors (willful or not), and I think their friendship has impacted my boss’s judgment.

        That said, no, it’s not unreasonable to work the front desk. The thing is, our regular desks are located within 10 feet of the front desk, so it’s no problem to get up and walk to the desk and wait on a patron. There is another (peer) coworker in our department who is NOT being made to sit at the front desk or share HER desk.

        I’d say my attitude is generally friendly. No patrons have ever complained about my service, I get along with everyone in the library, I have faculty friendships and friends in other departments.

        But you’re right–I think the relationship between me and my boss is over. I probably will not be going over his head about the desk issue.

        1. fposte

          In general, “I’m not being treated fairly” isn’t something to go over a boss’s head about unless it’s illegal or it’s a demonstrable pay/benefits issue that the boss won’t discuss. If the boss starts being unfair in a way that’s illegal, or causing problems in your getting your work done in a way that is a problem for the library, that’s when it’s worth going to somebody else.

          It sounds like you’re in an old-school academic backwater. On the upside, you’ve got a job that would have been trimmed back at a lot of schools, since I don’t know anybody at my school who doesn’t have enough to do; that can keep you fed while you find a position that allows you to grow the way you want.

        2. peanut butter kisses

          I worked in a library department for over a decade where we all had to share desks except for the boss. It was not a ploy to get at employees, it was just that our office was too small. And you said that there are four employees and just three desks? I think you just might have lost a coin toss.

          I would recommend getting on various library committees to network. You can also have the added bonus of committee work that needs to be done with high concentration so you can let you boss know that you need some time to do xyz and are unable to talk at the moment if you need to carve out some quiet time.

          1. H. Hog

            I’m not sure what you mean by “library committees.” Do you mean in the public system? I am working in a private library at a college. There aren’t any library committees here.

            There are plenty of empty desks around here (including the one I mentioned that is full of junk). I think it is just easier for them to make me share mine than to clean one of them out and move it into the available space that is here. Which is why this feels unfair to me.

            1. fposte

              Oh, it’s absolutely unfair. It’s just that “unfair” isn’t the same thing as “picking on you” or “worthy of going over your boss’s head” or even “worth being annoyed about.” One of the important workplace skills is understanding what kinds of unfairness are real problems and what aren’t–for both you and for your workplace.

              Just to be clear, though: you’ve offered to clean out one of the empty desks–not the one your boss’s stuff is in–and your boss has said no to that? Then yeah, that’s a territorial thing you’re not going to get past.

              1. H. Hog

                No, I haven’t offered. The desks are in various locations throughout the library. Some old-timers have told me that there used to be a bigger staff, and of course, through computers, many jobs just fell by the wayside over the years. They’re just sort of sitting there, with junk piled on them. But they are not in this department.

                I’m just going to give up on this issue. I know everyone reading this probably thinks I am just out of college. I have been working more than 30 years, however. Maybe it’s not worth being annoyed about. Believe me, I am trying not to let it get to me. I’m really trying.

                1. Christy

                  Well then, if the desks aren’t near where your coworkers are, it makes sense that they want you to sit with coworkers.

                  And you definitely don’t sound like you’re just out of college. I would have pegged you as having that much work experience.

                2. fposte

                  If you really want a desk, I’d ask about clearing one off, then. If you think you’re getting a message that it’s important to be with your colleagues, I’d let it go.

                  And I certainly don’t blame you for finding this annoying and depressing. While there’s more support-giving in the open thread, I still think of this as an advice blog and tend to offer possible solutions. If mostly you just wanted some acknowledgment of the suck, I can get on board there. The whole place sounds pretty grim to me, and as somebody in the field I also think it’s pretty disappointing.

                3. Not So NewReader

                  BTDT. Not with a desk issue but with another issue, it just was in my face every time I turned around.

                  This stuff can eat at a person and get them out the door prematurely, before they have a job lined up. You may or may not be in a position to leave suddenly.

                  Here is something to consider: You are saying there are a few messy abandoned desks around and, yet, no one has anything to do. I am willing to bet there are other messes that can be cleaned up and no one is doing that either. Using fresh eyes look around. I think you will come to the conclusion that these people WANT it this way. If they wanted the place neater and more organized it would be, they seem to have enough people to do this tidying. So I must conclude they are happy with the messes they have.

                  Here is the deal: How long have you worked there? How long have those messes been there?

                  Our town has a little library. We had someone come (an advocate) to show us how to maximize our space and to make the library more modern and inviting. Those little messes you are talking about- she found every. single. one of them in our library that we had. She said they had to be revamped- find places for the stuff, sort it, whatever actions necessary to empty out the area.

                  Things don’t get cleaned up until someone wants them cleaned up. No one (among the leadership) wants it cleaned up in your setting. This is an important thing to observe. When you are interviewing at other jobs, look around. What do you see? If you see piles of clutter here and there, think of it as a yellow flag at least. Healthier, happier workplaces try to keep work areas neat.

                  Lastly, this “person” is pulling you down. She has you focused on desks and other stuff rather than focusing on your career, your growth and other longer term things that are actually important. She is a waste of your time- I cannot think of an uglier thing to say. No human being should be a waste of time to another human being- but here we have it.

                  We have a choice, we can let these people and their petty head games fill up our time/brain space OR we can build a workable plan and get out of these places. Don’t let her pull you down to her level.

            2. peanut butter kisses

              At my library, each one of us is required to be on a committee of some sort, either in the library or in the university. We have emergency action committees, signage committees, policy committees, holiday party committees, etc. It is annoying as all get out. Over 400 employees and each and every one of us has to be on at least one committee.

              1. H. Hog

                There were many committees at the last college I worked for (though I wasn’t in the library there). But here, there don’t seem to be any. At least, they are never mentioned in the daily emails we get from administration. Odd.

                Thank you all for listening and for the reality check. I’ve decided to stop letting this make me miserable and start thinking about what I want the future to look like.

  26. OneWomanShow

    Uncooperative colleagues and technology, sympathy welcome

    With both the CEO and COO out on vacation this week, it’s been one hell of a ride for OneWomanShow!

    Please permit me to summarize the acts of unprofessionalism and rudeness I’ve encountered this week:

    • Prior to leaving for vacation, the CEO ordered me to send out a press release regarding a certification the organization earned recently. I did as asked and was subsequently contacted by a local reporter who wanted detailed information to flesh out the press release. I then asked the person left in charge who would be the most appropriate source for the reporter’s story and reached out to said person. This woman decides she doesn’t trust my request and emails me back with a CC to her boss, who is neither reading nor responding to work emails for the entire week. As a means of asserting my need to secure the interview for the reporter, I email HR and CC both the CEO and COO to explain the urgency of the request and my confusion about the lack of cooperation, especially given that the CEO wanted the press release sent while he was out of the office with limited access to technology. Following that, I have sent another email asking the difficult colleague what I can do to make her more comfortable speaking with the reporter in a timely fashion. As of this time, I have received no responses to my emails. Thoughts????

    • My laptop has crashed more than 20 times in the past three weeks. I have placed two tickets with IT about the problems and spent 90 minutes waiting for a diagnosis. The network administrator who examined my computer assured me that he checked for viruses, compatibility with program updates, and I should not have any further issues. Since that time, my computer has crashed from “bad pool header” and “IRQL_not_less_or_equal,” among others.

    Okay, I’ve vented a bit and would appreciate any advice, commiseration or general comments.

    Thanks for taking time to read this!

    1. Cucumberzucchini

      Sounds like it’s time to schedule a meeting with Senor Margarita!

      Explaining you’re confused by lack of cooperation, depending on how you worded, probably didn’t do you any favors with difficult woman.

      1. OneWomanShow

        Thanks for the response!

        I phrased my confusion as it relates directly to the CEO’s instructions and my specific job title and description. I also included HR in the email in the hopes of receiving some backing such as “yes, OneWomanShow has complete oversight on media relations. Please coordinate an interview time with her.” No such luck as of yet.

        Oh, and I will be having a very generous pour of wine sometime soon!

    2. Jen RO

      Maybe failing RAM? My computer was doing similar stuff (crashing multiple times a day with BSOD) and it turned out to be a faulty RAM module.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      I guess your IT department is super swamped? Scanning for viruses and program compatibility isn’t enough for this type of situation. The best thing to do would be the isolate the variables: swap out the hard drive for an identical laptop model and see if it might be faulty (non-hard-drive) hardware… or finding a definitely-working laptop and just copy your files and programs over and see if the issue persists… or log in as another user and see if it’s user-account-specific or not. Or how about they Google the issue? Seems to be that second error is to do with some bad drivers installed… checking the driver versions against another laptop that’s definitely working would be a good place to start…

      I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re swamped and overworked instead of incompetent… either way, I’m sorry you get the brunt of it!

    4. Not So NewReader

      It might not work in your setting, but with the places I have worked, I would either phone or go see the person in question and ask the same question that I did in email. I would frame is as “Don’t shoot the messenger, but CEO wants X and I could use your help with this piece of it.” Well, I would clean that sentence up A LOT, I am just giving you the general idea of what I would say.

      But it sounds like you have the basics covered, so the reporter can just go with that. And you have an email trail showing that people did not respond to your request. There have been plenty of times where I have seen stuff go out that I knew it could have been better. In some cases, though, it was amazing anything got done on it. I’m not saying that is right, I am just saying that is the way it is.

  27. Bekx

    We have construction going on at my company. Since January, I’ve had to replace 1 tire (screw in the sidewall), patch another tire (metal shard in tread) and today my brand new car with 1000 miles on it alerted me that my tire pressure is low. It might be a fluke, but if I have to replace my tire or patch it up.

    Do you think it’s acceptable for me to complain to facilities and ask for them to pay it or at least half? I’ve complained the other two times, and they told me that the construction crew cleans up every day but I’ve seen nails and screws in the parking lot before when I walk.

    I’m not the only one with this problem — the owner of the company had a screw in his sidewall too!

    1. SwissTeapot

      Maybe a few pictures of nails and screws lying around on the parking lot will convince the facilities otherwise.

      1. Sadsack

        Right, take photos, then take whoever told you they are cleaning up for walk to show him in person. I’d be pretty mad about it if I were you, too.

        1. Bekx

          I’ll take a look on my afternoon walk! Thanks guys, can’t believe I didn’t think of that!

  28. AnotherFed

    Just for fun, what are the stereotypes/reputations in your industry about certain jobs/sub-professions within that industry?

    I work in an engineering organization as a mechanical engineer. Here’s what we seem to have for stereotypes:
    Mechanicals: Will break anything you let them near. Have to be able see/visualize a problem to deal with it.
    Electrical: The nerd/dork of the engineers. Think mechanical and civil engineers are barely engineers.
    Civil: Either very artsy, or washed out of the ME program/needed a technical degree (we don’t have any traditional civil engineering work in my organization).
    Systems Engineering: Management. May or may not have ever had to build anything ever.
    Software/Comp Sci: Input cheetos and Mountain Dew, receive code. Do not question exactly what the software is doing or they will actually tell you in far more detail than you ever wanted.

    1. hermit crab

      On the other hand, we geologists tend to lump all engineers together in one category, and make fun of them as a group. :)

      1. AnotherFed

        You geologists are the ones always asking if we’re having a gneiss day, and telling us not to take it for granite. :)

        Kidding aside, I’ve never met a geologist who didn’t have a poster with those puns on it, but the physicists are the ones who are completely nuts about puns.

        1. hermit crab

          Mine are actually on a t-shirt, not a poster. But hey, we all have our faults. (Get it, faults?)

          And my fiance is a physicist. You are right about them!

    2. AnotherAlison

      Mechanicals – the best and most important engineers
      Electricals – overpaid just to run an analysis on a few T-lines
      Civils – barely engineers. Didn’t even take thermo. It’s just not that complicated. . .it’s dirt and water.
      Systems -schedulers
      Software-the people who take the cheap, working tools and replace them with overly complex, broken systems that require twice the staff to run

      Guess what my background is. (And before someone gets offended, this is in jest. Everyone’s job is important.)

      1. ConstructionHR

        Civils: Only two things to learn: 1) you can’t push a rope; 2) poop flows downhill.; but it still takes four years to learn that.

    3. AndersonDarling

      I always heard that if you give a widget to an engineer and a mechanic and ask them to fix it, the engineer will measure it, find it’s water displacement, conduct experiments to find the metal composition, then draw up plans to recreate it over the next year with the help of 10 staff members.
      The mechanic will look for the serial number and order a new one.

      1. QualityControlFreak

        Many years ago, in a Security Assistance Management class, I heard the following definition. “Engineer’s Quote: What it would cost to do the job in heaven.”

      2. jamlady

        My father was an aerospace engineer and my husband is an aircraft maintainer. This is too accurate hahaha

    4. AdAgencyChick

      “Creatives” (yup, “creative” is a noun in advertising — although I guess the larger world now knows that due to Mad Men?), that is, graphic designers and copywriters: flaky, airy-fairy, never in at work before 10 AM.
      Account executives (the Pete Campbells of the world): slave drivers, anal-retentive
      Editors: REALLY anal-retentive

    5. GlorifiedPlumber

      Oooo good one! Sorry, this one will have a cynical lens to it… it is my day off, the bachelor party starts in 4 hours, and I am feeling snarky! You can guess which one I am…

      Chemical/Process: The reason you have a job. The only ones who know what is going on with the big picture and why you are doing what you are doing! Better get them on your project early and befriend one so you can be kept in the loop! Also, often accused of blowing the budget because… the budget was based on something made up by the PM to win the job and wouldn’t change order the client because… conflict is hard.

      Mechanical: Pretty solid folks, definitely second in charge with the process engineers to keep the peace over the other engineers. In charge of all the HVAC… thank goodness. Also have a good idea what is going on and why we’re doing it. Help the chem E’s fight the PM’s.

      Electrical: Where is my equipment list! I can’t do anything until you tell me my pump horsepower! I’m going to tell the PM I’m constrainted! What’s FEL 0? What do you mean you don’t know how big the pump is yet?? Also, “Conduit… everywhere you want to be!” (TM) You know that famous Return of the Jedi scene where the Millennium Falcon flies into the tunnel? If that was a real process plant it would have T-boned a field routed 3/4″ conduit about 30 feet in. Electrical engineers are future PM material at my firm…

      I&C Controls Engineers: Data sheets, data sheets, and more data sheets! Those who have to make your process work…

      Structural: He/She who must coordinate. He/She with whom you must coordinate. Remember, the steel gets built first. Trust me, the client will perceive your pipe as hitting their steel, not their steel hitting your pipe (even though that is what USUALLY happens)! Also, has no idea what is going on in the process… “I just put steel up… I don’t actually know what is in the pipes, that is your job!”

      Civil: Only show up when we’re doing anything OUTSIDE… always seem to know exactly what is going on despite not being in the loop, get their stuff done immediately, and then peace out. As far as I know, the civil engineers at my firm are actually Seal Team 6. Every time they show up, it’s by surprise in the middle of the night, they kill some terrorists, and then peace out… when you wake up, all the civil scope is designed, ready for review, and never has any RFI’s.

      Comp/Sci: Not actually engineers… wah wah, I said it. Shots fired. #ThesePeopleAreNotEngineers

      Industrial Engineers: I used to call them imaginary engineers… and then they saved our butts on projects. Now I love them… the GOOD future PM’s come from this cadre.

      Architects: Not actually engineers… but god forbid I have to explain code to a client. That’s what the architects are for. The architects are kind of the Delta Force of my firm. No one knows exactly what they do, but they seem to have lots of fancy equipment, seem to know what is going on, seem to show up when you need them, work behind the scenes, and all the site master plans seem to work out.

      Client Engineers: Ugh… I have a factory to run. Go away.

      Former Engineers Now Turned Management: “So I told the client we’d do this poorly defined project with lean principals for 30% less money… also told them the end product would be 30% cheaper! I’d love to stick around and help you actually map this workflow I sold them, but, I have to jet off to the next client and give my “lean speech” again! Good luck!”

    6. Ife

      “Do not question exactly what the software is doing or they will actually tell you in far more detail than you ever wanted.”

      Lol, this is true for me. I have two settings when describing code — either “It does that thing you wanted,” or “…And then on line 23, I set the temp variable to ‘1’…” I’m working on finding the middle ground!

    7. Ezri

      I respond better to sour cream and cheddar chips + Mountain Dew. :) The software one does apply to me overall, but I’m the only one in my office you could really say that about.

    8. Beancounter in Texas

      Love it! My brother double majored in mechanical engineering and food science (so he could build machines for food production) and works on restoring a Model T in his spare time. He also went to a cotton gin show and when asked by a salesperson, “Wouldn’t you prefer to have a machine that doesn’t have any moving parts?”, he couldn’t help but correct him, “It’s not a machine. It’s an object.” So that’s my stereotype of engineers in general. :)

    9. BenAdminGeek

      I enjoy telling engineers that “All engineering is pretty much the same thing. You just engineer stuff up.” That’s usually good for about a 15-minute, very patient, detailed explanation of why I am incorrect and what various engineers do. I’ve found you can repeat this as many times as you like.

      1. AnotherFed

        Yeah, that’s bait we’ll fall for every single time. We’ve all been traumatized by one of the church ladies/mom’s friends/friend’s parent asking “You’re majoring in engineering? So, you’ll work on, like, uh, trains… and stuff?”

    10. Oranges

      Back End Devs: can juggle insane amounts of data. Do not ask to make a web site look good. Or even let them near html and Css. It never ends well.

      Front end Devs: they aren’t real developers anyone can make a web site. HTML doesn’t even have logic.

      Ux/UI: scary practitioners of dark magic who make the users do what they want them to do.

      1. Oranges

        Forgot to add in front end Devs: JavaScript doesn’t count either since it doesn’t even have classes.

  29. Log Lady

    I must know if I’m being a party pooper, or if this is as awkward as this seems to me. Someone who works part time here found out that our owner’s wedding anniversary is coming up, so she’s coming in today on her day off to throw him and his wife (who’s here doing some work for us) a surprise wedding anniversary party with cake and gifts and a card. We don’t do birthdays around here, and it’s not even a milestone anniversary, it’s like their 33rd or something. It just feels awkward and kinda inappropriate. Am I wrong?

    1. OfficePrincess

      That’s just awkward. I suppose since it’s today, there’s no time to get her to cancel but yikes. Even in an office that does birthdays I feel like a surprise anniversary party would be weird.

      1. Log Lady

        There was no way to get her to cancel it back when she started planning it, I don’t think. I don’t have any authority over her, and my manager thought it was weird, but she’s out of the office today and was like, I’m not her manager and I’m washing my hands of this. And she was glad she didn’t have to be part of it.

        Some other people think she’s sucking up, and I don’t think she is, I think she just really likes to throw these sort of celebrations for people, but god, there’s a time and a place for it, and this is neither.

    2. Ad Astra

      Sounds pretty weird to me. I think it’s strange when anyone who’s not married to me remembers my anniversary.

      1. Log Lady

        She remembers all the dates. My birthday is coming up next week and I just remembered that she knows and I don’t want her to know now.

      2. Cath in Canada

        Same here. My anniversary is for me and my husband to celebrate together – the idea that other people might feel obliged to send a card is a bit odd. I always feel weird getting a card from my parents and one of my aunties!

    3. Katie the Fed

      That is so weird. Anniversaries are between the spouses – I never even do anything for my family members for theirs. It’s their anniversary.

      That’s really, really weird.

    4. LBK

      That’s really bizarre. Even if it were a milestone, anniversary parties are supposed to be thrown by the people in the couple to invite people into their celebration – it’s not like a birthday where it’s more about other people celebrating you.

      1. Judy

        Hmm, we apparently have done it wrong, then.

        My sister and I have planned my parents 25th, 40th and 50th anniversary, and will be overjoyed to plan my parents’ 60th party in 6 years if we get there. To my knowledge, those are the only anniversary parties they have had.

        1. LBK

          Oops, I shouldn’t have said “supposed to be thrown by” – I meant “are usually thrown by”. I think it’s less common (but obviously not wrong or gauche) to throw an anniversary party for someone else compared to, say, a birthday party, which is pretty normal to have thrown by someone else.

        2. The IT Manager

          I’m with you. The couple doesn’t have to plan it themselves, but I’d expect family or very close friends to throw a anniversary party – not co-workers. An anniversary party, like a marriage, should be kept separate from work.

        3. TCO

          Anniversary parties by/with family and friends are entirely appropriate, especially for big milestones, and particularly when hosted by the kids who were the fruit of that relationship. Workplace anniversary parties, on the other hand, are really weird.

    5. MashaKasha

      No, not that I can tell you’re not wrong. Weird and intrusive and did I say weird? very weird.

    6. stellanor

      Yeah that’s weird.

      My office doesn’t throw parties for anybody for anything ever, the most we ever do is bring cupcakes for the immediate team on a birthday.

      One of my coworkers decided to throw a surprise baby shower with a custom made cake and decorations and gifts for another employee, and solicited donations for all that stuff (which I ignored, of course). The honoree called in to work on the day of the shower. Oops.

    7. Betty (the other Betty)

      Not to mention that no one except the couple really knows what is going on in the marriage. Maybe an anniversary is a cause for a big celebration, but maybe it’s not. Awkward.

      1. Another English Major

        I didn’t even think of that, but it’s a very good point. Even if the marriage is great it’s still awkward and strange for an employee to throw an anniversary party, especially a surprise one!

    8. Anonsie

      I surprise myself with this, but I have unpacked my pearls from my jewelry box so I may clutch them in response to this idea.

    9. Sunflower

      This is really awkward! Honestly I’m shocked her manager didn’t say anything to her like ‘that’s so nice but we don’t really do that here’

    10. peanut butter kisses

      You are not being a party pooper, you just have the common sense to know the culture around your office. Cakes and gifts from a part timer? Awkward. You might want to sidle up to her and put a quiet hint in her ear about it.

      1. peanut butter kisses

        Also, please give an update to this when you can. I am curious how this was received and handled by the couple.

        1. afiendishthingy

          Seconded!!!! My parents frequently forget their own wedding anniversary. I could see my sisters and me throwing them a party for a milestone anniversary, but definitely not a surprise party, and an employee doing it?? super weird. I must know more. How big is your office, do you know if others thought it was weird? They must have.

          I bet the happy couple is VERY surprised though. Awkward.

    11. Windchime

      Super awkward. I thought it was weird when my (then)mother-in-law used to give us a card on our wedding anniversary. In my family of origin, the wedding anniversary was always just celebrated between the two people who were married. I can’t imagine celebrating my boss’ anniversary.

  30. RG

    Early again! OK, so I mentioned last week that I saw a job opening for a patent agent at another law firm. I reached out to a partner that I’ve met before and that I have reason to believe I would work with either directly or indirectly. I wanted to reach out to him for some insights because to apply you only send in a letter of interest (I’m assuming that they would then contact you if they were interested and wanted to view your resume). I worked on the letter of interest this weekend and I just have a few tweaks to make.

    I planned to submit the letter even without hearing back from him. However, I did hear back from him yesterday, and it seems like we’re trying to schedule some time to talk. I still plan to submit the letter this weekend. I’d really appreciate it if someone could confirm, basically, that this is the right approach. I’d also appreciate any unique questions you’ve asked or been asked in an informational interview. Well maybe unique isn’t the right word, but any questions outside of the usual that you or the other person liked.


    1. Graciosa


      Please don’t focus on being “unique.” This is the kind of thing that leads to people sending chocolates or picture frames or singing telegrams to the hiring manager.

      Instead, I would be yourself. Your work self rather than your party self or hanging around the house on the weekend self, but still yourself.

      I hope that your work self is basically honest – which means you make sure that the partner knows that you are reaching out to him related to an open position with an active search. This may change what he is willing or able to share with you (or may not) but that’s fine. Honesty is more important than burning a bridge by making the partner feel you were less than forthcoming.

      I also hope your work self is curious about the position – what is the environment like, what would the work be like – and excited about the opportunity and its potential.

      Questions about these may not seem original, but again, that’s okay. You don’t want to be that weird candidate who asked what kind of a tree the firm would be.

      Good luck.

      1. RG

        Well, when I said unique, I meant in terms in good questions to ask. I didn’t mean trying to “be unique,” and I’d like to think I have enough common sense not send people that I might work with weird gifts.

        1. Graciosa

          “Unique” questions are going to produce the same sense that you’re trying too hard to be original instead of being yourself. Alison has some good suggestions for questions if you search, but honestly, as a hiring manager, I have heard them before.

          Please understand that this is not a problem. There is a range of standard questions that candidates tend to ask, which is fine. I am more impressed by people who ask about the work, performance standards, the culture, my management style etc., than people who ask *only* about pay and benefits. Other turn-offs include “When can I start?” or “What will it take to put me in this job?” or anything that sounds like it’s coming from a used car salesman.

          I’m glad you have enough common sense not to send weird gifts. No insult was intended in my response – if you read regularly, you know that not everyone does have that much sense.

          I was quite serious about advising you to be yourself. The best interviews I’ve had have been conversational, and the candidates were clearly asking questions related to things that came up in the interview process, or related to the key areas I mentioned above.

          I’ve also had interviews that went definitely awry for the candidate (although they may not have realized it) because they were obviously trying to get their sound-bites in – including in the portion of the interview where they were asking questions.

          You should go into the interview with a sense of what you want to learn about your prospective employer, and ask questions about the areas where you still need more information. You do want a fairly broad range – both because you should want to know a fair amount about a prospective employer, and also because different interviewers will cover different aspects in the main body of the interview.

          I have no problem with a candidate looking at their notes for a moment to decide what questions to ask, and then simply starting with “Can you tell me a little bit more about X?” where X could be any of the major topics I listed earlier.

          The best candidates treated the opportunity to ask questions as an opportunity to gather information rather than an opportunity to impress their interviewer.

          I’m not sure this is what you wanted to hear, but it is the best advice I can offer you.

          Best wishes –

  31. OfficePrincess


    Technology can bite me. This week I had to have IT update my version of IE (I know, I know, but I have no choice) because critical system 1 wasn’t compatible with the older version I was running and IE itself was crashing multiple times per day. But once they did that, I discovered that critical system 2 isn’t fully compatible with the new version. I can use the basic functions, but if I need to use any of the admin functions I have to do it from home.

    Anyone else have some tech headaches to unleash?

    1. Adam

      Not to make fun of you, but coincidentally a big part of my job is customer service over phone and email usually and so many of the people I serves tech issues could be solved with the question “Can you use ANYTHING besides IE?”

      Considering work with lawyers, tech is not an immediate strong suit, and explaining that not all browsers are created equal is like a whole new world to a lot of them.

      1. OfficePrincess

        Unfortunately both systems are completely incompatible with Chrome. I’m not sure about Firefox because I can’t install it on my work computer. So I’m stuck. :-(

        1. Ama

          Ugh, I feel you. At my last employer the budget system *only* worked with IE run from PCs. I worked for a department that was externally funded and our external funder insisted on buying us all Macs. We had to purchase software that would run virtual Windows just to access the budget system — it took a full ten minutes to start up but if you left it running and it was idle for more than 20 minutes it would log you off . Probably this could have been fixed with some investigation into the settings but university IT wouldn’t help us because their desktop support didn’t include help with Macs or non-standard software.

    2. Kyrielle

      What a pain. Can you force it into compatability mode for site/system 2 and have it work, or has that been tried and failed?

      1. OfficePrincess

        I’m going to blame not having thought of that on the ridiculous that was the past two weeks and say THANK YOU. I haven’t tested every feature yet, but I played around and it’s SO MUCH better.

          1. OfficePrincess

            Pretty much. Granted, there are busier times it could have happened, but my mind still went right to “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE @#(*$&#@()%&@q KIDDING ME”. I’m one of two people at my site with admin rights, the other being my technologically challenged boss who only has them because he’s the boss, not because he could actually do anything with it. (And related to this morning, there are other people at other sites who do to and can help out in a pinch, but I refuse to use them unless absolutely necessary – they’ve got their own ish to do.)

    3. MaryMary

      OldJob was really into creating their own software internally. For some reason, the customer service system refused to work with any version of IE later than 6. We were also not able to download any other browsers. Even after we started getting errors trying to access other (work related) websites because our browser was too old, it took months for IT to update the customer service software to work with newer browsers.

    4. Ezri

      I feel your pain. I work at a company that uses Microsoft everything, which means most of our software and applications are built to work with IE9. Not just any IE, but IE9 in particular. And we just upgraded from 8 a year ago. I do a lot of UI work, so not only do I get the fun of trying to make things compatible for whatever the heck special snowflake CSS world old versions of IE live in, but I get the handful of users running on IE11 who are annoyed that the IE9 apps look funny.

      I don’t know how many times I’ve had people ask me how we can resolve an issue, and my only response is ‘stop using IE’.

      1. Bea W

        LOL we get that response from our helpdesk (supporting our apps, not the company helpdesk) all the time. Sorry, we don’t get a say in the matter. I personally submitted a security request exception to be able to install other browsers. I do build and UAT. So it was approved for that reason. Otherwise I’d be SOL.

    5. Elizabeth West

      Every damn day, when I come into the office and turn on my monitor and open my laptop to log in, the screen does not open on the big monitor. I can’t tell if it’s my dock or my laptop. If I pick up the laptop off the dock and then put it back on, it shows up on the monitor. Also, it takes forever for the keyboard light to come on. I hate logging in on the laptop.

      Twice, when I’ve removed my laptop to go do the front desk, it logged me OUT OF THE NETWORK COMPLETELY. I had to call IT to unlock me so I could log in. It didn’t do that last time, thank God but it’s getting stupid. I don’t want a new laptop until we get Windows 10. I DO NOT WANT WINDOWS 8.

    6. Bea W

      Welcome to my life. My group is doing a major systems upgrade, and our company’s browser (IE8) is not compatible. They rolled out Chrome, but Chrome and Business Objects do not get along. So we tried IE11 and there were issues with compatibility again though I can’t recall what they are. Plus the corporate controlled settings on everything break stuff and good luck getting that resolved. There is so much beauracracy and opaqueness that the fact whole groups of people cannot work doesn’t matter.

      IT tends to ninja rollout updates. You could get back from lunch and find something broken and no one who can explain why. No one communicates these to the Helpless Desk either. I had a deskside tech actually say as much. Just watching him try to get our software to work after it suddenly stopped working was painful. It was clear he spent more time solving mysteries than actually resolving issues because no one communicated changes.

  32. Haiku

    Does anyone know Alison’s posting schedule? I find myself checking the site for updates obsessively ( I think I’m 1.2 million pageviews all by myself). I know she posts the first one at midnight, are the rest also autoposted as well?


    1. Christy

      Weekdays midnight, 11 AM, 12:30 PM, 2 PM. It’s usually within a minute or two of those times. And Saturdays at midnight at 2ish pm.

    2. CJ

      You could always sign up for an RSS reader with an app for your phone so you get alerts when a new article is posted. This may or may not be what I do…. :)

  33. Anie

    I think I need an attitude adjustment. Can I get your thoughts?

    At my primary job (4 days a week), my boss left in May. I’ve been covering her position, and mine, for the same pay and with no thanks or added hours. It sucked.

    Someone was finally hired about a month ago. He was very clear his first week that he wanted to ease in, and so he only took over some of my previous boss’s duties.

    It’s been some time so I tried to start giving them back to him. I’m starting to get some push back from him though and I’m not sure what I should think about it.

    Earlier this week, I forwarded him an email from an outside source. She’s only contacted me b/c I’d worked with her when there was no one in my boss’s role and she wasn’t aware of his hiring.

    He came right back to me with the comment, “What is this? What do you want from me?”

    I said, “Well, I want you to reply to her and work with her on this future contract.” His job is literally to pick who we accept and don’t accept. I can’t make any decisions on this topic.

    His sarcastic response, “Well, anything I can do for YOU. That’s what I’m here for.”

    I just walked away. But I’d also emailed him this week, 4 weeks after his start date, a list of things I was still covering and asking if I can start training him on them. We met about an hour ago and he seemed suuuuper POed about it.

    He just kept repeating “There was at least FOUR things” and “Anything to make YOUR plate lighter.”

    Should I address his attitude? As my boss, is it my place to do so? Should I just accept that I have more duties because he doesn’t want to handle them?

    1. Dasha

      I would say start by talking to him when he’s in a better mood and try something, “Hey New Guy, I’ve noticed that there seems to be confusion. Usually, Previous Person handled the X requests. They are being sent me because I was covering for Previous Person until you were hired so this is something in your realm of duties. If you have any questions at all please let me know and I can help.”

      See if that helps at all if not, then yeah, you need to talk to your boss about being clear what responsibilities are his.

    2. Adam

      Of the two of you, one of you definitely needs an attitude adjustment and I doubt the one who does is reading this right now.

      I suppose I could ask if it was made clear to your boss during the hiring phase what his job duties would be and how much of the work you were currently doing would be passed back to him. If not that was a misstep but hopefully it can be corrected now.

      If he’s still not keen on it then I think it’s time open up a new discussion about reworking your job description and compensation accordingly.

    3. Kelly L.

      Yikes. Is he your boss like his predecessor was, or are you his, or are you peers? It might make a difference in how to approach it.

      1. Anie

        He’s definitely my boss. I have an assistant-level title. And I’m fairly certain there’s no way he could misunderstand the differences between our duties.

        We’re a publishing company. For every publication, he’s got a list that show either instructions on how to gather the content for a page or the name of who should be doing it for him.

        So far he’s only accepting 4 things out of 10 on the list from other people. Of the other 6, he’s supposed to do 4 and I’m supposed to do 2. I don’t know how he could miss that fact that my name is only on two items, and he has instructions for the rest…. Yeah, I get that it’s a lot of stuff. Trust me, lol, I def get that. But he’s paid more, has a higher title, and I’ve got oodles of other projects that just got tossed my way. I’m busy too.

        I also brought up in our intro meeting his first week, “Yay, I’ve been so overwhelmed! I’m so glad your here.” And he threw the breaks and was all, “Well, how about we hold off on some of this stuff?”

        1. BenAdminGeek

          Maybe start by saying, “Hey, please remember I’ve got a ‘nice rack.’ Now, about these job duties…”

          But seriously, it sounds like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place here, and that sucks :(

    4. AdAgencyChick

      I think it would probably help to have a neutral, nonconfrontational conversation with him about what the workload was when your old boss was around, and how he would like to handle things moving forward — which may not be the same as it was before. But your current boss may have it in mind that what you do now is what you’re supposed to be doing, and that you are trying to pass off your work to him, when in fact you’re trying to restore the balance of duties to what it was before.

      If you can show him, “Wakeen did A, B, and C, and I’ve always handled X, Y, and Z. I’ve been doing A and B in the interim period, but doing A, B, X, Y, and Z isn’t really sustainable. How should we handle this?” It may be that you end up doing A, B, and Z and he takes X and Y from you and does C. But he’ll feel like it was his idea, and he’ll understand why it needs to happen.

      1. Dasha

        Oh yeah, this might be better. I somehow missed that this guy was now your boss in my comment :-/

      2. catsAreCool

        “your current boss may have it in mind that what you do now is what you’re supposed to be doing, and that you are trying to pass off your work to him,” This! The new boss sounds like that’s what he’s thinking based on his passive-aggressive words.

    5. Paige Turner

      YIKES I don’t think you’re being unreasonable at all. Is New Guy a peer or your boss?

    6. E

      Review his job description. After a month he should have whatever duties he started with already under control and be able to add more, unless your former boss was extremely overloaded. Not that it’s any of his business (since you can assign these duties to him from what I understand), but you might explain that keeping these extra duties that are not yours long-term is keeping you from completing your normal full list of duties.

    7. afiendishthingy

      Ugh, I’m sorry. My director was recently fired after spending his first year declining to perform the majority of the duties assigned to his position. Hopefully yours will either shape up or ship out sooner rather than later…

  34. Feeling infantilized...

    Can I just vent for a minute?

    I’m a little frustrated with some of my co-workers because they don’t treat me my age. I’m a female, 30 years old but they treat me as though I’m a child. I am the youngest woman in the office and to be fair I do look young. They do things like call me sweetie or other pet names and I’m fairly certain they don’t extend those terms of endearment to everyone else. One of my coworkers has continuously said, “Oh yeah, you’re like 22 right?” and I’ve corrected him about three or four times now, “No, I’m 30… I thought I told you already?” Another new co-worker asked if this was my first job out of college and I can’t think of specific example but another co-worker tries to mother me a lot. She has a 20 year old daughter and is constantly comparing me to her and her likes/dislikes.

    I do dress professionally and conservatively and wear minimal makeup.

    I guess I’m tired of going through so much effort to be professional, dress professionally, be respectful, do a great job to be treated like a child.

    Just needed to vent thanks for reading my whine!

    1. Mockingjay

      It sucks. I know from experience. And it’s the last thing you want to hear, but time will eventually cure this problem.

      In the final days of my internship, I was asked, “are you graduating from HS? Where do you plan to go to college?” “I just graduated from college and I am 21.”

      On my first business trip, the flight attendant yelled at me to sit in my seat. She thought I was 12. I was 23.

      Now that I am on the “Other Side of Life” (Justin Hayward!), I wish people would think I am younger. Now they see me as Office Mom.

      1. AnotherAlison

        I used to have the same problems. I was 19 when I was pregnant with my first son, and I went to dinner with my parents and was offered a kids menu. I mean, 19 is young to be a mom, but I certainly wasn’t 11. I continued to look about 14 through most of my 20s.

        I think I’m in the middle now. The~20s people in my office think I’m a fossil and the late-50s people think I’m much younger than I am. I’d like to still pass for 25, though!

      2. afiendishthingy

        I was told when I was 27 that children weren’t allowed in the section of a venue I was sitting in.

    2. Steve G

      I’ve kvetched about this before. I am 34, it is finally starting to slow down, but it is annoying as heck, especially because it usually comes from people who aren’t that old, sometimes only a few years older than you. Someone who is truly old doesn’t do this. This is the one area where I’ve envied my similarly-aged colleagues who’ve looked older and don’t have to listen to this crap, which is always quite weird because when I worked with someone who was only 3 years older than me, visiting coworkers from other offices always talked to him like he was the experienced one, and then they’d ask me questions you usually ask a 25yo (how old are you, do you have roommates, etc.). Sorry I don’t have fine lines yet! They are avoidable.

      1. AnonPi

        OMG yes this is exactly the type of thing I deal with too! I’ll be 40 next spring but you’d think I’m in my 20’s the way my coworkers (who are 1, 3 and 5 years older than me) act. The one who likes to try to act like a mother half the time (knows better than me cause she’s older) drives me absolutely nuts!

    3. Calacademic

      At least you’re not a child. I have a 16 year old undergraduate working for me (he’s fantastic) but he can’t work with chemicals or go to conferences because he’s a minor.

    4. fposte

      To be honest, I don’t remember how old people are and 22 and 30 aren’t that different to me. I wouldn’t worry about the number; I’d stick to worrying about whether people respect your work.

      1. College Career Counselor

        +1. I’m now at the point where the 30 year old alumni look the same to me as the 22 year old seniors. Not that I’ve ever gotten them mixed up before. #awkwardconversation

      2. Steve G

        I get that, and that is fine if someone just thinks you are young (which is fine!). But if someone starts teaching you stuff you already know, and they assume you don’t know only because of age – that is annoying!!!

    5. Me

      Joe, you keep saying that. I’ve told you I’m 30. Are you ok? Maybe you shd see a doctor. They say the short-term memory is the first to go.

      Get all concern-troll-y on them.

      1. fposte

        If you did that to me, I’d just start wondering why you cared so much. Unless I’m throwing you the birthday party, I don’t really need to know your age, and it seems defensive to focus on it.

        If they’re offering their perception of age as meaningful, address the meaning. “Has there been a concern about my productivity/professionalism/teapots? I’m happy to discuss any concerns and receive feedback, if so.” But let the actual age part be just a number.

    6. Not So NewReader

      The best I ever came up with was to vow not to do these things when I got older, try to remember how people appeared to me when they did that to me.

      I have kept that vow…. most of the time… sort of….sigh.

      It sounds like they basically like you. That’s huge. Maybe you can switch to thinking about that sometimes when they make these references. I did not care for that stuff, either, so I don’t blame you for feeling put out by it.

  35. T3k

    Ugh, difficult week. I have a boss that’s extremely forgetful (she’s old) and it’s hard for her to adapt to technology (she had gotten this thing similar to Square that’s a tablet people can pay through. She sent it back claiming it was too hard to learn… it really wasn’t, just wasn’t ideal for the job). She keeps trying to ask me how to make things better and I’ve already given her my advice (most of it means switching to electronic or switching to a better email system) but she never implements them.

    Not to mention, there’s a coworker here I’ve really began to not like at all. He’s difficult enough to deal with but, hey, I know I’m a difficult person to get along with myself. However, he made an offensive comment about gays a few days ago and it’s just instilled in my mind that he’s an a$$. So yeah, adding to the list of reasons I’m job hunting: find a boss that’s not so forgetful that I have to remind her 5+ times about something and to find coworkers that don’t spew close-minded crap.

    1. T3k

      Oh, forgot to add: clash of personalities. I’m a very blunt person and while I try to check that anything I send doesn’t come off as rude, someone with a more sensitive attitude would still see it that way. Boss didn’t like that and kept saying it was rude and couldn’t understand that I didn’t mean for it come off as that (there was no offensive language, just asking her to stop re-sending order changes I’d already got). She also keeps thinking that I can just “get better” in wanting to work with customers, even after I explained I’m an extreme introvert and it’s mentally draining, no matter how you often you’re exposed to a stimulus. And then she tried to say that “well, I have Asian friends that aren’t introverted!” (I’m part Asian). Had to bite my tongue from replying back, as I knew it’d be something offensive. Should have told her she was using a handful of people to try and validate her generalization of a group that ranks as one of the most introverted countries and, since she met those people on trips, they were probably extroverts anyways, as that particular country is known to be somewhat standoffish to foreigners.

      1. fposte

        Wow, the “Asian friends” comment is a trip.

        However, you did take to heart the email communication thing, right? That one’s on you to change, not on her to get used to.

        1. T3k

          I tried re-reading the email to see if there was any other way to word it to not come off as rude, but all I can think of is maybe I should have said “please can you stop re-forwarding this…” rather than “can you stop re-forwarding this…” (It’s funny, I usually always say “please” and “thanks” in speech, but in emails, I keep forgetting to).

            1. fposte

              I would definitely add a please and thank you–those would be pretty expected around here. Like you, I’m more naturally telegrammatic in emails, so I finish and then go back and add the pleasantries.

              Alternatively, is this your boss who’s sending you the stuff you’ve already got? Then unless it hurts something I’d just disregard it.

              1. Sammie

                Perhaps work out a system…where you respond to her forward–so she knows you’ve got it under control?

  36. louise

    Happy news:
    An auditor came in yesterday. It was not supposed to be a surprise, but he had left messages for our owner and the owner didn’t tell me or the accountant!! We were not prepared and I *knew* exactly what was wrong in my files and what he would find. Even with warning, I would only have been able to fix a little of it in in time.

    BUT–no fines assessed! He said this was “an educational audit only” and not a compliance audit. A compliance audit would have resulted in a $10k fine for each of the things he found wrong. We very well may get a compliance audit at some point, but he said the educational audit DOES NOT automatically trigger a compliance one in the future.

    Best of all, he gave me some pointers on what to focus my efforts on repairing and what to not worry about.

    Can we just focus again on the NO FINES ASSESSED bit? I now need to have a heart to heart with my boss to explain (AGAIN) what resources I need in order to make these fixes.

    1. Dawn

      Hey now you have really good ammo for that conversation! “Hey Wakeen, I need X and Y in order to solve these problems or else when the compliance audit comes they’ll be $10K per error!”

    2. Beancounter in Texas

      WHEW! Yay!!

      Point out the potential consequences for not getting the resources needed to fix the problems. That seems to get even the laziest boss motivated. :)

  37. voluptuousfire

    I had a really interesting response to a rejection email for an interview I had the other week. I phone screened for a role and received a rejection email a week or so later. I usually ignore them but this one time I responded back thanking them for letting me know and to have a nice week. I got a response within a few minutes, saying that I had really impressed her and ultimately went in another direction with candidates but she would be happy to refer me to colleagues of hers. I thanked her for the feedback and told her to feel free to pass along my resume. Totally surprising response to an interview I thought went south.

    But again, I thought it was kinda strange that I apparently impressed her very much and wasn’t brought in for an interview. If someone really intrigued/impressed you enough but their experience wasn’t an exact match, wouldn’t you want to meet them in person? If anything, it would give more social proof to a referral, I would think.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Not if you knew you weren’t going to end up hiring them for that position — when you’re busy, it often doesn’t make sense to spend your time that way.

    2. Steve G

      IME I wouldn’t put too much energy into it. In this job hunt, I’ve been referred to other positions twice like this, and both of those referrals went nowhere. I see lots of stories on the net about “I wasn’t good for position X but they referred me to Y and it was perfect for me and I love the job” but that didn’t happen with me. For one, it wasn’t really a good fit (bad judgment on the part of the company to even refer me), and for the second, I was just an average candidate for what they wanted.

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      No, I wouldn’t interview you if I didn’t think I might hire you. I’ve been quite impressed with plenty of people I didn’t hire. Perhaps I thought they would be better suited for a more senior position and that’s not what I had, or I needed someone with a ton of experience, and they were more entry level, but really awesome. I have absolutely (with permission) forwarded resumes for people I though were awesome but couldn’t hire myself. I’m willing to invest the time in sending your resume to a colleague, but probably not willing to spend over an hour with you if I know it won’t work out here.

    4. voluptuousfire

      I have gotten feedback like this before but it was usually after an in person interview, not a phone screen. That’s why it struck me as a little strange.

    5. fposte

      Nope. If you’re not in the running for this job, I’m not going to haul you in. I don’t ask or give that time until I do have something that might be a fit.

    6. MsM

      There’s “not an exact match,” and then there’s “definitely not a fit, but boy, I wish we had something that was.”

  38. Cruciatus

    Someone needs to create a guide on quitting a job for introverts. These last 2 weeks have been mentally exhausting. I promise I don’t mean this as a humblebrag where everyone likes me and boo hoo it’s hard. People I only spoke with occasionally and everyone else all came out to talk to me, hug me, wish me well. Today they had a party for me and presented me with gifts! My boss is happy for me but panicking about what will happen to the position until they hire someone. I have never talked about myself this much in a long time. I’ve been getting home just. so. mentally. tired. I hate that I’m almost more relieved it’s all over because I like these people, a lot! But I’m still in the same city. I’m not dying. This was my first time quitting a job on my own terms and I get now why others who have left kept it quiet, besides from HR and their supervisors. It’s too much for this introvert!

    1. Colleen

      Yes. Surprise parties are a no-no for introverts. Having lots of people who you have to have the same conversation with when they come over to wish you well: “Yes, it will be different.” “Yes, I am excited.” “No, no regrets.”

      As an introvert, when I quit, I told my boss. Then I concentrated on getting everything together so that I wouldn’t leave any loose ends — created procedures and lists to help the next person. Then I waited until the last day, sent an email to my contacts and faded into the wind.

      Not ideal, but it worked for me.

      1. Cruciatus

        Fortunately it wasn’t a surprise, but there was still the moment my boss made a little speech and all attention was on me as I opened my gifts. I didn’t like this at my own birthday parties as a kid, and I still don’t like it!

        But yes, I was so tired of saying the same thing. Next time (hopefully not for a long time) I will know better.

    2. Ama

      Oof, yeah. My boss *cried* at my goodbye party — it was super embarrassing (especially since I’m a sympathetic crier, so I teared up even though I was mostly annoyed).

      Party aside, she made things easier on me possibly by accident, though, because she is an extrovert and absolutely can not hold anything back in conversation, so she did a lot of the “where is she going” conversations for me with a lot of the higher ups (and random other people who happened to run into her — as I said, she holds nothing back).

    3. Kristen

      Yup, I know exactly what you’re going through as I have been going through the same thing for the past two weeks. It’s really nice to hear how much people care, but difficult to keep talking about it. I start a new job on Monday which will offer its own challenges as I get to know new people in a new environment. I’m really looking forward to the first month in the new job being over. Hopefully by that time I’ll feel more relaxed. Good luck and congratulations to you!

      1. Cruciatus

        I’m totally with you! I’m excited to start, but I’m already ready to be used to my new surroundings and coworkers and getting a semblance of a routine started. My new job starts Monday too. Congrats to you as well! I hope the new place is awesome!

  39. Customer service, kind of

    My job has recently begun to include answering more customer service/support calls. Since this isn’t the main part of my job, I don’t have any training in it or the opportunity for training. I’m trying to emulate my coworkers, but I would like to learn a little more. Are there any online resources or books that you all would recommend for this?

  40. Ruth (UK)

    This isn’t a question or even a vent.. But it is about work!

    A coworker of mine who is also a friend gave her notice today (pretty standard reason – got a better job which is more in line with her career goals). I’m sad because she’s very good at her job so great to have around for that reason as well as being a good friend. :(

    1. M

      I recently had my best work-friend leave for another company as well, so I feel your pain! It has been very hard not having her around to talk to (and I work remotely, so it was very nice to have someone I could call when things get too quiet!). I’m sorry this is happening.

    2. Dirk Gently

      Aww, that’s hard. My work bestie who is also a friend outside of work is in month 2 of a year-long mat leave, not that I’m counting, and I miss her tons.

      On the flip side, my BEC just announced that she’s pregnant, so I get a year off from her soon!

  41. Anon for this

    I need serious help with my writing. I have a habit of letting typos slip through in emails. I also tend to stop editing sentences midway, so I send out emails with non-sequitors, sentences that stop midway, or abruptly change direction. Problem is, I don’t see these errors. My manager points out something egregious once month, I’m working on it, but I feel like I don’t have the ability to resolve on my own. I proofread my emails several times, and change fonts to help spot errors. I’ve started sending more emails to colleagues to proof, I have a couple of templates for things I send out often, but it’s still an issue. I don’t think I have dyslexia (I took an online dyslexia assessment). Any advice on software or processes that could help? I wish I could just install a stronger spell check to spot these errors.

    1. Helka

      One of the things I do with my emails is I read them “aloud” (quietly whispering or even just mouthing the words) for a final check-through. It tends to help me spot places where I’ve made typos, accidentally switched where a sentence was going mid-stream, or used less than optimal wording.

    2. Christy

      Apologies if I’m suggesting anything obvious. Have you tried reading the emails aloud to yourself? How about reading sentences individually, and starting from the bottom, to make sure they each are complete and make sense? Or pretending you have no idea what you’re reading and seeing if you can make sense of them. Do you have the automatic spellcheck pop up? That might be a reminder to you to reread for clarity.

      1. bridget

        A couple of other proofreading tips I use (mostly when it’s REALLY important things be perfect; but it sounds like the OP isn’t confident that her regular proofreading will be good enough for an email).

        – print out the email and read it on paper, putting the nib of your pen on each and every word, so you don’t stop proofing in the middle of a sentence
        – change the font to shake your brain out of assuming it knows what the sentence says (because sometimes when we are familiar with what we’re reading, our brain fills in the gaps to what the sentence SHOULD say, not what it ought to say – this is the same reason people proof from the bottom up, like Christy suggests).

    3. Jo

      Have you tried making an outline of the email first? Make a list of the points you want to touch on, in order, and then expand the bullet points into sentences.

      1. Anon for this

        Actually, that’s what I do. The issue is I don’t fully flesh out the bullets, and I don’t see they are incomplete thoughts when I proofread.

        1. fposte

          Instead of thinking of it as proofreading, can you articulate to yourself what specific questions your recipient has on the topic and check to make sure they’re all answered? Like “What are we meeting about, where are we meeting, what time is the meeting, and will an agenda be provided?”

        2. Not So NewReader

          I am not sure this is all a proof reading problem. I see what I want to say inside my head and miss parts of the explanation because I forget the person is not looking at the thing I am looking at.

          What I do is get the whole thing typed out, then I say to myself, “If I received this message would I understand what the other person wants of me?” It’s a logic check. Is this thing logical to someone who is coming in cold and seeing it the first time?

          The reason I don’t definite it as a proof reading problem is because I feel I am too locked into my own thoughts and I need to step back and consider someone else’s perspective. I also check for ambiguity. For example, if I am talking about two women, I make sure I don’t use the pronoun “her”, as in “did you ask her?” Will the reader know which woman I meant?

          It takes practice. I blame it on having have so much work that I sorted on my own, I am not always as sharp as I could be about having to loop someone in.

          A good way to start this whole questioning process is just make yourself slow down and pause. This stuff can happen if we are thinking about the next task and not focused on the current task.

    4. Colleen

      Are you better at proofreading in Word? Or is it a generalized thing?

      If you are better in Word, then create your important emails there first and transfer. I’ve done that and it works very well.

      1. AcidMeFlux

        I usually start emails in a Word document and then copy/paste to mail. Another thing that could help is using a fairly large font (16) and double spacing in your draft, even if you’re not nearsighted. Your mistakes can stand out more when they’re more in your face. (I teach EFL to adults and in companies in Spain. I’ve recommended this trick to lots of students who have to write in English, and they tell me they’ve had better results as well.) It also helps me when I have to write in Spainish, which is my second language.

          1. LCL

            +1 on the large font and double space. Also, only if you are comfortable working with and changing fonts back and forth, write your draft in comic sans. It really is easier to read. It is considered very unprofessional and many people hate it, so if you can’t remember to change it back don’t do this.

            Try writing the email without the address line. Save the email, do something else, then come back to it to proof it. When you are satisfied with it, then type in the address line and type send. I don’t always do this but I should, for technical emails.

    5. Lore

      If you’re not working on super time-sensitive stuff, I find that fully drafting the email, then putting it away for an hour (or even ten minutes) before doing the final readthrough and sending, is enormously helpful (and I’m a professional copy editor!). It helps with spotting errors but it also helps with figuring out what might be extraneous or overexplained (or underexplained).

      Also, this is inefficient, but a lot of people find it easier to proofread on paper than on screen. For especially critical emails, it might be worth printing out and rereading before sending.

      And finally–if you find yourself making the same errors over and over, you can customize your auto-correct settings in Word. The grammar checker also can be customized more than you might think–it’s not 100 percent reliable, but you can set it to identify sentence fragments, for example. You’d probably want to draft your emails in Word and then paste into your email, but that also helps with not accidentally sending before you’re ready.

    6. Arjay

      If your email uses the Word dictionary (and probably if it has it’s own internal dictionary), you can set it up to flag or to autocorrect any typos you make frequently, even if the typo is a valid word. (e.g., correct pubic to public, or manger to manager.)
      In addition to the techniques you’re already using, it can also help to print important documents and read them on paper, instead of on the screen. I don’t want to turn you into a tree killer, but sometimes it’s necessary.

    7. khoots

      If you’re looking for typos or grammatical errors, it always helps me if I read the email backwards. That way you don’t add in extra words or skip over things. For example if I wrote this sentence, “Today has been a rough day so I think I’ll go home now.” I would read it as: “now home go I’ll think I so day rough a been has Today”

    8. msbadbar

      Hi Anon,

      How often are you sending emails with typos? You mentioned your manager points it out once a month. That doesn’t sound like a huge problem to me. However, if many or most emails contain the things you mention, I can understand why you’d want to work on it more. Just keep in mind that everyone misses typos from time to time. I’m a technical writer, and editing is a large part of my job. Some of my favorite books about editing contain pretty gnarly typos. It’s rare to read a book that doesn’t contain grammatical errors. So, you’re in good company.

      That being said, here are a couple tips:

      *If you’re using Outlook, turn on grammar check in addition to spell check.
      *Read your writing backwards to catch typos. (This can help you to see each word individually.)

      As far as tools, my company recently starting using WordRake. I haven’t used it, but people seem to like it. (Just keep in mind that these tools aren’t perfect–you’ll still need to check your work.) It’s not cheap, but if this is a big enough problem for you, maybe your manager would spring for something like it?

    9. Dawn

      I use Grammarly extension for Chrome to catch stuff and I know there’s free grammar software that you can use as well. It catches more than spelling errors- it’ll catch the improper use of commas and grammar too. I find it SUPER DUPER helpful!

      1. TCO

        I was about to mention the same thing–Grammarly’s not perfect, but it’s often “smarter” about grammar, sentence fragments, etc. than other tools.

    10. grayjedi

      Can you split paragraphs into smaller paragraphs? Also, try proofreading from the end to the beginning, one sentence at a time. The paragraphs won’t make sense that way, which helps prevent accidental skimming.

    11. BRR

      I have ADD and this is a huge problem with me. Is that a possibility? I’m going to repeat some but these are what I have found work best for me:

      -Printing it out in hard copy
      -take one of the color binder dividers that are transparent, they’re like a dollar, and placing it over the paper (thank you to whoever sent this to me on here)
      -using another sheet of blank paper to go line
      -Let it sit
      -Use a text to speech website and slow it down a notch. I use imtranslator.

  42. Ali

    Wooo open thread! I want to celebrate the fact that I got a better paying part-time job! I actually interviewed at this company, which is pretty close to a dream company for me (yeah, yeah), for a full-time position. The HR manager called to tell me I was his first choice candidate, but they got an internal candidate last minute. I was definitely bummed out, but he was quick to offer me the part time role to get my foot in the door, since it can be hard to get a job here if you’re not already in the door; they like to do internal hiring when they can. Anyway, the PT job pays close to $4 an hour better than my pharmacy position and will get me at least three days a week of work, maybe four or five depending on business needs and if anyone is on vacation. Right now, I’m only getting about 10-15 hours a week in the pharmacy for not-so-great pay, and while the work is interesting, the low pay and limited hours don’t make it sustainable. The pay increase and better hours were things I couldn’t pass up.

    I took the drug test the other day and am now waiting to hear back for the all clear on reference and background checks. The HR manager is on vacation but advised me to not resign from my pharmacy job until everything came back good. Maybe he reads AAM? Hahaha!

    I’m also starting to look into a new career and have an interest in HR management. I reached out to the president of our local SHRM chapter to introduce myself and see if she had any advice on how I could get started as a career changer. I’m hoping this is a better path for me than communications/marketing, though I already know it won’t be easy.

      1. Ali

        I don’t really want to. I also have a freelance social media job, but that can be done from home and has no set hours. I don’t want to have three jobs, and if the pharmacy isn’t going to give me hours and pay poorly on top of that, I don’t see the point in staying. When they do schedule me, my shifts are usually only four hours. I also don’t agree with the fast food mentality/deadlines approach they take to filling scripts.

    1. voluptuousfire

      Fantastic! You sounded so down regarding the job situation in previous threads and I’m so glad it worked out for you. :)

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree, you sound great, Ali! I am very happy for you! Congrats and wishing you many positive experiences at New Job.

  43. Always anon for this type of thing

    I emailed a professional contact last night asking about job opportunities at her company. There’s no client/vendor/service provider relationship between us; basically, one of our clients does business with one of her clients, and we sometimes liaise on our clients’ behalf.

    I told her I was looking to move on from my current company, and specifically looking to move to her area. I was able to briefly tell her where I’m at now by linking to a (someone old) job ad at her company for a position similar to my current job. And then I asked if she was willing to talk to me about opportunities, or connect me to somebody else at her organization.

    I’m just looking for somebody to tell me “that’s okay to do!” Was it okay to do? She owes me nothing and doesn’t know my abilities very well, but I think I’ve acquitted myself decently in our business dealings.

  44. TheExchequer

    I left my old job (though it may not have left me – more on that in a second) and started my new job.

    I love love love my new job. I’m so completely overwhelmed with how much there is to know, but I have the distinct feeling I can succeed. My commute is so much less time and less stress, I almost don’t know what to do with myself. (And today I found out they have breakfast every Friday including both fruit and donuts. Oh yeah, baby. That’s what I’m talking about).

    My old job? Oh, old job.

    I told you last week that my boss decided he wanted to do an exit interview. Not only did he not have my last paycheck (and I live in the lovely liberal land of California where the department of labor takes a dim view of these sorts of things), he asked *me* to pay *him* money (Seven hundred dollars! No, really!) for an order – short story, I switched some numbers, then the client decided to sign a legally binding document without reading it. While I take the mistake seriously, I have zero plans to pay a single red cent towards the error. He then asked if I would contribute anything towards it. Uh, no. That’s not how this works.

    I called him Wednesday as I *still* didn’t have my paycheck and he said I’d have it by Friday because his accountant had been on vacation. (I can’t decide if that’s better or worse than being too overwhelmed to pay me on time). Then I got a text (yes, really!) yesterday saying I wouldn’t have it until Tuesday because the accountant had screwed up the check.

    Now, I know California law would not, shall we say, be particularly kind about this. But I have a new job and cannot afford to take *any* time off to deal with this. Also, old job was my first “real” professional job. I know if I go to the law with this, I can kiss my good reference there goodbye. (It is a tiny family company- less than 10 people. There’s no HR to go to and my boss was the owner so there’s no one to appeal to over him). Should I nail this guy to the wall as he more than deserves it? Or, you know what, I’m not a litigious person. Should I be thankful when (if?) I get my check and just let it go? This is the question I’ve been wrestling with this week.

    1. Kyrielle

      Maybe set a date to yourself by which, if they haven’t sent you the money, you will go after it? Unless it’s a tiny sum, in which case it may not be worth it, but since it’s pay, hopefully it’s not. Though I think in your shoes I’d wait until Wednesday and if I didn’t have the money and hadn’t heard from them, I’d call. Either way, the conversation would go along the lines of how that is your money that you earned and you really need it to keep your finances in order, and you hope they’ll get it to you soon. If you want to mildly threaten without threatening, you could add that you understand they have extenuating circumstances that mean it couldn’t be done within the legal limit of X but you need them to get it to you soon.

      If that doesn’t work, I would totally go after them, despite the reference thing. But I dislike people not playing by the rules, and your mileage may vary.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I like this, especially the part about referring to the law without saying you plan to use it — which will (a) let them know that there is indeed law on this, if they didn’t already realize that (totally possible with small companies) and (b) let them know that YOU know about that law.

    2. the gold digger

      I switched some numbers, then the client decided to sign a legally binding document without reading it. While I take the mistake seriously…

      You might not get a good reference from them anyhow.

      1. the gold digger

        (Not saying this to be unkind – let those among us who has not inadvertently caused a $30,000 print job – which was more than my annual salary at the time – to be redone because she added the Pantone number for the new color but did not remove the old sample for the old color from the order throw the first stone.)

        1. BenAdminGeek

          Hey, we’ve all accidentally over-funded the HSA of the employees, which legally you can’t get back…. right?

      2. Kyrielle

        Yeah, if they wanted you to pay for the mistake (not reasonable: mistakes happen!) and you didn’t (and shouldn’t have to), this reference may already be toast. Another point in favor of going after it, if the nicer approach doesn’t get you the money.

    3. Dawn

      Rihanna totally has a song about this that you need to go listen to about five times, call the guy once and play nice-nice while dropping the “yeah there’s a law about this jerkwad” card, and then call up the DOL and anyone else who will listen and get your last paycheck.

      The only way that people are ever going to stop jerking around employees is if we collectively decide to stop letting ourselves be jerked around. Good luck!

      1. Anonsie

        The only way that people are ever going to stop jerking around employees is if we collectively decide to stop letting ourselves be jerked around.

        And how. Your state has resources for this, use them! Even if it’s just letting them know that you will go that route if they don’t do it by x date (I like Kyrielle’s suggestion above). Then follow through as soon as that deadline slips by, if it does. As my old dad the union rep used to say, “eff* you, pay me.”

        *Better believe he did not say eff.

    4. BRR

      From what I read it sounds like there’s a penalty of up to 30 days of additional pay if they’re late. Hopefully everything is in writing. If it were me and I could afford it, I’d wait 30 days then say by law they owe you the additional money. Unless you desperately need a reference.

      This is if I have everything right.

  45. Helka

    I’ve been thinking about submitting this as a question for Alison, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it. Open to all thoughts.

    Basically, long story short, the work my department does is pretty strongly dependent on having very strong reading comprehension and written communication skills. Being able to understand submissions that may be (poorly) handwritten or use unfamiliar abbreviations or jargon, and then being able to generate a professional, detailed, and firm response is a key of our entire function.

    My department just hired some new employees, and one of them is not a native English speaker — she’s from Europe, and while she’s quite knowledgeable on the subject matter at hand, she has been struggling with the reading comprehension/response writing portion of our job. I wasn’t involved in her initial training, but I’m the person she is expected to go to most with questions and for clarification, and I’m finding that instead of helping her with any of the little nitpicky bits of the job, I’m mostly helping her with understanding what is written that needs to be reviewed, or helping her write a good response, and we’re often spending a lot of time going back and forth as I try to explain things to her in a way that she can understand.

    So what I’m wondering is — at what point do I raise this with my boss, and what’s the best way to do it? Boss obviously thought she was a good choice for the role on hiring her, and so it seems like it could be a little tricky to come back and say “Look, I think she just doesn’t have the language skills for this job” but on the other hand, financial liability is involved in everything we do, and having someone who is having difficulty understanding the documents she’s handling in that position means opening up our department to the possibility of incurring some pretty significant financial losses.

    1. Katie the Fed

      If she’s as smart as you say she is, her English skills should improve quickly in the new job. I’d give it a few months before you raise it.

      1. AcidMeFlux

        Yes, this. Work-related language learning, especially at higher levels, is extremely effective. Also, is it that her understanding is shaky, or is she just being super-dilligent in confirming that she in fact is understanding correctly?

    2. fposte

      From a different angle–is this a burden on your time, or is it mainly the concern that this isn’t a good fit. Because I think it’s fine to help her get up to speed and all, but if it’s eating into your productivity that’s a lot to ask of a co-worker. I would open a conversation with a manager earlier than later if that’s the case–“Natalya is smart and quick and may well pick this up pretty soon, but right now it’s taking a lot of my time to help her. Would you like me to keep doing that and push the XYZ back instead, or is there another way she should be getting this coaching?”

      1. AcidMeFlux

        Well, maybe consider getting an ESL teacher for once a week classes for short-term help to give this employee a boost in her language skills. (Half the work I do here in Spain with EFL classes in companies is basically this; reviewing the work people do in English, teaching proactive proofreading, etc.) Frankly, I think a lot of firms even with native speakers could use help with English. Back in the 80s when I still lived in NYC I did a lot of temp, and a number of times I got sent to law firms, supposedly for secretarial work, but the agency would tell me sotto voce that “this partner is brilliant but can’t write a memo to save his life”.

        1. fposte

          The manager might, but Helka’s the co-worker–she doesn’t have any say over this. That’s why I wanted to inquire about whether this is pressing too much on Helka’s time, since coaching this co-worker would default to being her manager’s job and not hers.

  46. Steve G

    Urgh, I had an interview cancelled because my salary expectations were “too much.” They weren’t on glassdoor so I chose a salary range that was utterly normal for that job in NYC. I was a little miffed because they asked me what I have been doing since I lost my job, told me what I want to much, then cancel the interview. I felt like saying “don’t have your offices in NYC if you want to pay Ohio salaries” but didn’t. I hate the “what have you been doing since you’ve been unemployed thing.” Truth of the matter is, I’ve been doing some personal stuff such as helping a friend with his building renovation that sounds like BS I made up (similar to “I’ve been consulting”), and I’ve spent a lot of time applying to jobs and interviewing at some places multiple times, only to have the job frozen, or have Mr. Ideal Candidate come along and get the job.

    1. YandO

      can you enroll yourself in some class? A graduate certificate program, maybe?

      Also, have you considered volunteering?

      I think that might help with the “what have you been doing?” questions

      1. Steve G

        Well….I volunteer worked on a farm and taught ESL on the side for years, and it has never even come up in a job interview…and you can teach yourself most computer programs yourself these days online + with books….and I don’t want to sign up for some schooling (and I’d be singing up for Spring 2016 at this point anyway)….so none of those items solve the problem.

        Also, I don’t understand what any of those things have to do with getting a job. So what if I shovel manure once a week, I’m not applying to manure-shoveling jobs. And I spent a lot of time this year renovating our new house, which I found to be a turnoff in interviews, maybe because people view owning a house here = being rich (and thus will not be happy without a high salary), though that isn’t necessarily true.

        1. Steve G

          Sorry if that sounds snippy. It isn’t aimed at you. I just get really frustrated with that question. It seems that every answer is wrong. I did set up an SQL server and practiced SQL. When I brought that up in an interview it took the “oh so you’ve never worked with it?” question. Very frustrating. I don’t know what employers think unemployed people are doing. I think most people have long lists of things they do when they aren’t working, and I’m doing those things. And not all of them are interesting to talk about with people. No one is sitting on the couch staring at the wall aimlessly waiting for a job offer.

          1. Nashira

            Empathy here on the “so you’ve never done it at work” bit. I’m applying to some networking jobs that I meet the quals for, but I have no formal experience networking. I’m worried about hearing that too.

            Job hunting can freaking suck sometimes.

    2. voluptuousfire

      It sounds like they were jerks. I’ve found most interviewers never asked about what I did on my time off and those who did, only a few really seemed to really stress it. If someone cancels your interview because your salary range is too much, forget them.

    3. Lady Bug

      I hate the what have you been doing question too! Sleeping late, going to the gym, trying to find a #!÷%^”!% job and binge watching What Not to Wear and the Incredible Hulk. It didn’t help being unemployed over the coldest winter in years, I wasn’t leaving the house unless absolutely necessary.

  47. over educated and underemployed

    This has been a rough week on the job front! Rejected from a fill-in-needed-immediately part time position that would have been well paid and great for my current situation, and kind of depressed about that, because I know that based on the rush it was a far, far less competitive situation than most. Turned down an in-person interview for a job that I found out on the phone interview would’ve been a 20% pay cut, with hours that would’ve required paying another $500 in day care on top of that. Had a first interview for a job that sounded pretty neat, but got the vibe and did research indicating that it would probably also be a pay cut, so I have mixed feelings on that too.

    I know nonprofits aren’t supposed to pay much, but I feel like these are depressingly low wages for jobs requiring a master’s degree and 3-5 years experience. I’m afraid if I get one I’ll be looking for an exit strategy a year in because my paycheck will barely cover day care, and I’ll feel like I’m being supported by my husband while having a full-time job that’s the financial equivalent of a hobby and making us live paycheck to paycheck. Universities and government pay more for the same duties but I haven’t even landed an interview with either of those. I’d like to be able to hold out for something that matches my current (not all that high) wages at least, but my job ends in four months, so I’m not sure if I can.

    Optimism? Advice? Commiseration from other job seekers?

    1. Christy

      The budget for childcare does not come exclusively from your earnings! Continuing to work increases your future earnings, and stopping work makes it a lot harder to reenter the market once your kid is older. It’s not as simple as [Cost of childcare] > [your salary] ==>stop working, it’s your fault that daycare is expensive.

      There’s an article on The Billfold that I’m going to link in a reply.

        1. Ad Astra

          How do male teachers manager to outearn female teachers? Their salaries are based entirely on education and experience. I would hazard a guess that female teachers might lose a few years of experience if they decide to stay home for a while, but I don’t know. All the teachers I know personally didn’t feel the need to stay home because the job comes with so much time off already.

          This is really going to bother me because the teachers in my family claim there’s no pay gap in education.

          1. blackcat

            I’m betting for 2 reasons:
            1. Coaching. Male teachers are much more likely to coach a sports team and that comes with extra $$
            2. Summer/night school. When I taught in public school, a large percentage of the male teachers took on these extra jobs. It was in a district that paid well enough that, by taking on extra responsibilities, a fair number of teachers managed to have a stay at home wife.

      1. kozinskey

        +1 to this! Also, depending on your personality, having a full-time job outside the home can be key to your emotional well-being. That’s worth something too!

        1. over educated and underemployed

          Definitely! I would extend that to say that can also be the case for part time work though. Right now I work 32 hours a week and with an hour commute, it’s being out of the house for 40 hours a week, which is a pretty substantial amount but not overwhelming. I feel like with this commute, working 24-32 hours is ideal. I would go up to 40 for more money, but I just don’t want to work an extra day a week for nothing.

      2. over educated and underemployed

        I know that, and I certainly don’t plan to stop working. But right now we only pay for day care part time, and the idea of getting a full time job where I would make less money as well as get less time with the kid doesn’t sound like it would help my future earnings or sanity much either!

        And I know day care is a joint expense, but I do think about it in relation to my salary because my husband makes juuuust enough to cover our other bills, so if I make less than it costs, we would go into debt. If I make what it costs, I’m working full time for no change in our finances. Ideally, I would make enough additional money that with two full time working parents, we’d have some breathing room, and maybe even be able to save for retirement and college. In fact, I REALLY want to be able to do that.

    2. K

      You just have to find the right nonprofit. I work for a nonprofit and get paid what I consider a pretty healthy salary with great benefits, though yes, if I worked for the for-profit equivalent in my field I’d probably get paid more.

      1. over educated and underemployed

        Thanks! I hope to. Not looking to strike it rich here, “pretty healthy” sounds great.

    3. Sweatin' like a pig

      Deeply felt commiseration. I’m trying to get out of a bad situation – I’m also OEUE, but my job actually pays decently and has great benefits. Only…it’s rapidly draining away my will to live, due to the toxic nature of the non-profit and the reduction of the actual role to mind-numbing rote work.

      However, any jobs that I can find that I would be well-qualified to do (due to previous job experience & educational experience) pays such a pittance, I can’t see doing that to my family unit. We’d be taking a hit with my lowered salary (and we’re talking about 10’s of thousands of dollars here – going from mid 60’s to mid 40s at best), increased benefits costs, and less retirement savings. On the one hand, it’d hopefully pay off in the sense that in another 3-5 years I could move up into a better role. On the other hand, that’s what I’d thought about my current job, and it seems to be going in the reverse.

      I’m finding it hard to accept that it might make the most rational economic sense to stay where I am – that makes me die inside. But at the same time, going back to living like I was a grad student and pinching pennies until they squeal and having to use food banks to get by?

      So not much helpful to say here except that you’re not alone!

      1. over educated and underemployed

        I hear that! These jobs actually pay…what I was making as a grad student. Just without the flexibility and probably without the completely employer-paid health premiums. I did not think that would be the peak of my earning power, and I also wonder if taking a job like that actually would allow me to move into a better role in a year or two (can’t afford to stick around for 3-5). Good luck!

  48. happypup

    I’m not sure how to best manage this situation and I’d appreciate some input.

    The background: I work in a unit (A) within my organization that supports a bunch of departments. There’s another, different unit (B) that does basically the same work for a whole other set of departments. Totally different reporting lines, etc., but we’re pretty much the same in terms of services offered. There’s some territorialness on both sides, and I’m pretty new, so I’ve stepped in it a couple times when people from the units served by B came to me for help and I just worked with them instead of referring them to B. I have a better understanding of the boundaries now and do a better job checking people’s affiliations, but my relationship with the staff from B is still pretty strained and there have been a couple times when they complained because they suspected I was working with their people (but I wasn’t). My direct boss understands the situation, has dealt with the folks at B pretty extensively before and has my back.

    The problem I’m not sure how to deal with is that there’s another, higher-up boss who occasionally talks about my projects with B. And here’s the thing: she pretty regularly misspeaks about who I’m working with. Like, I work with the Marble Teapot groups and she tells B that I’m working with the Meringue Teapot groups (who are B’s to work with). It’s just a slip of the tongue, but it sets off this whole cycle of B complaining and me getting negative feedback and having to explain that no, really, I would never work with Meringue Teapots, higher-up boss just meant Marble. If B and I had a friendly relationship, I think this is the kind of thing we could just laugh off (c’mon boss, get your departments straight!) but since things are fraught anyhow, it just immediately escalates and I feel like it reignites their suspicion of me every time.

    Maybe this is all just something to continue to let my direct boss act at the buffer/mediator/whatever on and hope that it will all improve over time, but it just feels like there ought to be something I could proactively do to fix this. Any suggestions?

    1. Arjay

      Would it be possible to have a conversation with one or more of the folks at B to sort of reset your interactions? This part of your story stood out to me: “I have a better understanding of the boundaries now and do a better job checking people’s affiliations…” If you haven’t directly told that to B, I think that’s a good place to start. Maybe the B people don’t realize that you are doing your homework to be more aligned? Even if they see that you haven’t been working on Meringue teapots, they might be thinking it’s just dumb luck that you’ve been getting it right, as opposed to being part of a concerted effort to better understand the work divisions.

      1. happypup

        Even if they see that you haven’t been working on Meringue teapots, they might be thinking it’s just dumb luck that you’ve been getting it right, as opposed to being part of a concerted effort to better understand the work divisions.

        This is a good point. I’ve been feeling a bit resentful that there’s like zero benefit of the doubt when they suspect I’m out of line but thinking about it this way helps makes sense a little of how they react. Obviously the resentfulness isn’t helpful and I may need to really emphasize to them that I get their concerns and respect their boundaries (even though I think they’re a little overzealous, haha).

    2. fposte

      Ah, I can totally see that happening here–I have about three different work axes that leave people confusing me with somebody else. Do you have or can you cultivate a friendly contact at B who can help with the message? It may not work if B is too big or too scattered, but it’s a possibility to consider too. In general, it sounds like finding a few warm spots in the relationship with B would be advantageous.

      I also think that this should be a known bug in the big boss by now, and they should have heard her make the mistake going the other way, too. Don’t know if they’re slow at putting it together or just irritable.

  49. anonanonanon

    I keep getting more responsibility at work – to the point that I have double the number of projects as my team members and am doing work more on par with a senior level team member. I’ve been at this company for about two years and have five years experience in the industry before coming here. I’ve asked for a raise or a promotion, but it’s very much a corporate “everyone gets the same raise and that’s based on the company’s profit, not your performance” type of thing. Promotions only happen if someone else leaves the team or department and most people here have been in their positions for years and have no indication of moving. There’s no opportunity for a title change either.

    I’m just really frustrated that all comments about my work have been excellent and I’ve been given more responsibilities and duties, but that there’s no pay increase or chance of promotion. It’s a bit disheartening to know that pay raises aren’t based on the quality of my work, and that everyone gets the same yearly raise regardless.

    1. Dawn

      Don’t take the pay raise thing too personally- the last company I worked for was like that for whatever reason. Pay raises ONLY happened with a change of title.

      Otherwise, hey look at it this way- this is gonna look really good on your resume as you spruce it up to go job shopping for places that will actually want and respect the level of work you’ve been putting out!

      1. anonanonanon

        I’m trying to think of it that way, but it can get frustrating! But glad to know there are other companies who do this.

    2. TCO

      Could it be time to think about moving on to a company who will reward your increased skills/responsibility?

      1. anonanonanon

        I’ve been thinking about it, but I’m worried that this is an industry trend, since I had the same problem at my last company and I know people at other companies in the industry also share this frustration.

          1. it happens

            yup – sadly, a lot of companies are willing to pay more for someone ‘with outside experience’ rather than just give a raise to people with internal knowledge. Never quite understood it, myself.

  50. CJ

    Just an update. Had an interview at a big University on Wednesday. It was canceled (not their fault – the entire University closed for the day) and moved to Monday and now I’m just hanging around and playing the waiting game.

    Who else is waiting around and what do you do to avoid thinking about it constantly?!

      1. CJ

        Oh, I wish I liked video games…. that does sound like an awesome solution. Maybe I need to go to the closet and drag out my paints and paintbrushes… that would make it go by.

        And I suppose I should really focus on my current job as well…. I just can’t help but daydream about the new job. boo.

  51. I really want to learn new teapot skills.... or leave

    I design chocolate teapots. However, professional development is very important to me. Unfortunately, my manager gives me no developmental opportunities (he keeps them for himself) and he also always finds ways to block development ideas that I come up with on my own. As a result of the lack of development, I am thinking of leaving the company but until I do, I am trying to make the most of this job and have been trying to take the initiative to offer assistance, volunteer for projects and present myself as willing and eager to lend my chocolate teapot design expertise to him and to other departments as needed.

    Our company COO recently sent a memo requesting that department heads form a task group to focus on developing strategic solutions to address issues the company has been experiencing with overall teapot quality. The issues are a HUGE deal and have the potential to completely undermine the company’s teapot making enterprise. The COO’s message was that departments needed to work (as a group) to identify solutions. It was clear that the COO sees problem resolution as a company wide effort.

    When the memo was published I asked my manager if I could be the teapot design representative to the task force. Here is his reply:

    I think you could make a valuable contribution the effort, but the activity does not require chocolate teapot design expertise and I think you should focus on the many teapot design issues that have been arising such as teapot handles coming off, defective spouts, etc. I will let Mr. Flubberbudgit know that if he would like to speak to you specifically about problems with chocolate teapot design, he can but unless he directly asks you to help I do not want you to get involved the strategic planning efforts and meetings that I think that Flubberbudgit will organize

    How do I reply to this? My chocolate teapot design responsibilities are well under control and in fact I have done everything I need to analyze existing teapot designs, create new designs and examine risks of the new designs. My designs have now gone into prototype production. I might be needed again once my new designs go into production or the designs fail and/or need additional tweaking. Until then, there is little day-to day design work for me to do. I have enough room to accommodate any new responsibilities that may come out of the task force. (My manager used to hold my job so he should be fully aware that sometimes the job has a “stand-by” component to it.)

    This is not the first time that something like this has happened. I have approached him directly and requested his support for my development efforts but he just pays lip service to the concept and then later blocks everything I try to do. I can try to push harder but he is paranoid, extremely resistant to criticism and anything that he sees as a challenge his authority.

    I feel that my manager wants me to do ONLY the narrow specific I was hired to do- and nothing else- and it is extremely frustrating. The irony is that he got promoted because someone encouraged his career development into new areas. He just does not seem to want to do the same for anyone else.

    He inherited me and I know he wants replace me with his own pick so he would love to see me go voluntarily ( I am well regarded and competent so unless I screw up, firing me is not likely option).
    I am in a good job but I am unwilling to stay in this position if I can’t develop new skills or be challenged.

    How can I get him to stop blocking my efforts to gain new skills?

    1. TotesMaGoats

      Honestly, unless you jump over him, he’s going to keep doing this. And jumping past him will probably have some major repercussions. My old boss would do stuff like this. I’d specifically ask for development/larger involvement in various areas (budget, strategy, etc) but get turned down kind of like you were. That’s why I left. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to grow in the ways I wanted/needed to.

    2. Dawn

      You’re not going to get him to stop. You’ve identified the issue- he’s paranoid about keeping his position and terrified of competition- so just work on getting out of there!

    3. Camellia

      I noticed this phrase, “…unless he directly asks you to help I do not want you to get involved the strategic planning efforts and meetings that I think that Flubberbudgit will organize.”

      Is there a way you can discreetly let Mr. Flubberbudgit know that you would be available if he asked for your participation?

    4. Dynamic Beige

      Short answer: you can’t.

      I had a manager who would order the newest version of whatever software for himself, try and figure it out/do things with it then make a report to his boss about how great it was “Lookit what I did!” and then make a case for the upgrade for everyone. Now, some of you may be thinking that that’s “normal” and that’s what a manager does but… not in this case. He had no skills, it was why he was promoted into management. He would play around for months, holding up production. It would have made more sense to get one of the employees who was more familiar with the software and production to do it.

      At LastJob, they spent a lot of money getting a custom timesheet program developed and it became policy that every hour had to be billable to a job docket. There were slow times of the year when literally nothing happened but there wasn’t any way to show that. They got rid of the R&D category and training. Just trying to get a copy of something different to play with got a suspicious “why do you want to do that?” or a complete shutdown “that’s so-and-so’s job”. That manager told me that if I wanted to design, I should take a continuing education course in my personal time. Even when I went above and beyond and pulled off stuff that more senior people couldn’t do, it didn’t matter.

      So here’s my advice to you: you need a mentor. Someone higher than your boss who has taken a shine to you and can advocate for your advancement — just like your manager has/had. This is not an easy thing to get, especially because it has to look as though you didn’t ask for it. The problem is that your manager is in a bind: they know that you are a better whatever than they were, that you have more talent and skills than they did/do… but they also know that keeping you where you are on their team is key to their success. They may like their friend better, but that person may not be as good at WhateverYouDo as you are.

      You’re going to have to network. Does your company have something like a baseball team? Or does charity work like with Habitat for Humanity? Is there an internal mentorship programme? Is there a group that goes out for drinks after work? Is there someone in the company who does what you do/where you want to go that you could just speak to informally about next steps in your career in an overarching/broad strokes kind of way? Is there another department in your company that you could apply to transfer to? I would also suggest that if you’ve got ideas for improving quality, write them down. It’s your impression from the memo that was circulated company-wide (I assume, otherwise how did you see it?) that everyone should be involved in the process. Your manager has said that he thinks you have something to offer, but he doesn’t want you participating in meetings or speaking with the COO personally… but he never said anything about submitting a report to the committee. Yes, doing that without permission will get you in some trouble but 1. I doubt your manager is going to say anything to Mr. Flubberbudgit and 2. you know that passing it by your manager first is not going to deliver a positive result, he’ll quash it… and then probably claim the ideas as his own.

      1. I really want to learn new teapot skills.... or leave

        Thanks. Great post! I am starting to network internally and hope to develop a mentro from that.

    5. Thinking out loud

      I would go talk to Mr F about the task force and its goals and my ideas to fix the problems – everything except explicitly saying that I wanted to join the task force. If I knew the COO well enough, I might even day, “I’ve been told that I could join the task force if you asked me to do so.” Then I would hope he says something that I could interpret as directly asking me for help. I’d go tell my manager that Mr F did indeed ask me to help, so I’m joining the task force.

    6. I really want to learn new teapot skills.... or leave

      Thanks for the suggestions, all. I am implementing a couple of them today.

  52. Jo

    Okay so I responded to this job posting that I’m wondering its a scam. It was posted on a major job search site.
    It reads that they Hiring Immediately. Great Compensation and it lists a bunch of perks. I applied on Wednesday, and I received a generic email this morning from some email that is does not look like a company email. The person’s last name is not in the email. And I just noticed that when I go on their website, they are a marketing company that supposedly has a lot of clients, but does not list who they are. I cannot find anywhere who the CEO is. They supposedly have a good employee review on the Fair Business Report but there is no mention of them on LinkedIn or Glassdoor or anywhere. Even on the website, there are random first names but no last names. They have a facebook and twitter, but it does not talk about anything that they actually do. Instead it just quotes inspirational phrases from other well known people. Is this weird?

    1. Kairi

      My sister worked for a company like that and it turned out to be door-to-door sales, 100% commission based.

    2. Katie the Fed

      Sounds like a multi-level marketing scheme. They love those inspirational quotes and stories. I’ll bet you’d be selling Jamberry or some other such nonsense.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Oh and if they call it “Direct sales” – that’s definitely multi-level marketing.

        1. Kairi

          +1000 Exactly, also if it they have “fast track” to management that’s generally a sign too.

          1. Kelly L.

            And if they gush about all the things you can buy with your money, rather than how you’re going to be making it. Watch out for too much focus on people’s Cadillacs and mansions and such. Also, if they talk like their business is for only a few elite people who are superior to everybody else, as if direct sales were the Marine Corps.

  53. Just Reading A Little

    Has anyone ever worked as a chat customer service representative for websites? You know, when you go to a website and they have someone to chat with. I think this could be a great fit for me; I am hard of hearing, and cannot hear on the phone. I like chatting with people online, and I can certainly be helpful and professional. Plus, I am online all the time already! Win, win, win! I just wonder if anyone here has done it and would like to share their experience.

    1. Customer Service Rep's Fiancee

      Hi there. My fiancée is a customer service rep and while his job is over the phone I feel qualified to give you the point of view he’s shared with others who have asked about it. Many of the customers you’ll get will be easy to neutral to work with, polite for the most part though they may not have all the answers you need to help them (customer’s often forget or never knew important details of their case). That being said, a portion of people will may bee rude, belligerent and use profanity (happens several times a week to him via phone, and my guess is some people especially when cloaked with anonymity of being online will do so as well). Over time, the job will get easier as you know more and are more confident. You’ll enjoy helping those you can and who appreciate you (most) and regardless of how good you get, will probably get a few bad apples just do to statistics. Good luck!

    2. YandO

      check out olark – they are always hiring part-time remote

      also, stripe may be a good fit. And other start ups.

  54. WantstoStand

    I just got told by our company’s HR that my request to have a riser for my computer so I can stand instead of sit got turned down. I wanted to do so to improve circulation/add to my out of work efforts lose weight (through diet and exercise), however, they say as it’s not to correct a medical problem that I can document with a doctor’s note I can’t. I’m really bummed, I get it’s an unusual request (as far as this company is concerned), however, I think a company that really cares would embrace people wanting to be healthier.

    1. Colleen

      At my company, people who have had this happen to them have just piled up reams of paper or boxes to make a temporary “riser.” It is actually a good thing to try so that you know if it is something you will actually use. Then, if you find out that, say, it helps with your lower back pain, you might be able to make a case for getting a real one.

    2. Ash (the other one)

      You can get a cheap mod from IKEA… I have a few colleagues who did that. Technically employers don’t have to pay for things that are not work related or medically necessary.

    3. kozinskey

      This would make me tempted to go to my doctor and see if they could come up with a note. Actually, I’ve been tempted to get one for low back/hip pain caused by sitting too much. But yeah, if that’s not feasible I’d look at DIY risers or something you can purchase for yourself.

    4. AnotherAlison

      Would a chiropractor’s note suffice?

      I got a note last week for a standing desk. Granted, I’ve been getting treated for 6 months by this person and have documentation going back two years of appointments with a primary care doctor, ortho, PT, different chiro, and this guy. The chiro is doing myofascial release to treat the tightness and pain that I get in my hips, which truly is aggravated by sitting all day. But, I think almost everyone gets musculoskeletal issues from sitting at a desk all day and most chiros will write this note. (I understand some people don’t want to spend the $40, but I’m already spending it for the treatment.) FWIW, the MRT helped for the first 5 months, and then something happened and I have pain in my other side now, which is why we are going for the desk. 30 min. weekly treatment to undo 40 hours/week of damage is asking a lot.

    5. Another English Major

      I agree with AnotherAlison you should maybe get a chiropractor’s note, but you’re right it is incredibly short sighted of your company. I don’t understand companies that don’t want to make it easier for employees to be productive when they have nothing to lose. I went through the same thing a few years ago just to switch to a different chair, it’s ridiculous.

      1. WantstoStand

        Thanks everyone for your replies. In my frustration at typing this out I was unclear, I have been unilaterally turned down for standing period regardless if I buy a riser myself, use boxes, etc. The HR person basically said if people are working in ways that are outside of our company’s norm they need a note. I like the chiropractor idea, however, as I already admitted to him that I don’t have a medical issue for this to fix per se (I’d like to lose weight as stated – I’m getting married in 10 months and this is extra motivation), I’d probably have to wait a while to try that to say I do have a medical condition.

        1. Another English Major

          I don’t think you need to wait awhile. This is part of proactive health and if a chiropractor or doctor wrote you a note it should be covered under “medical condition.”

        2. AnotherAlison

          Your first post mentioned you are working out. You could have a medical issue arise at any time!

  55. Anti-Drama Queen

    I’m fairly new to administration (5 months) and work with 3 other admins (2 lead admins, one of which is my boss, and 1 “regular” admin like myself). I’ve been finding that the lead admin who is not my boss is very sneaky and likes to start drama. This admin used to be my coworkers old boss, and she caused enough drama to get HR involved.

    My example is that I restock the cafe in the morning when I come in and before I leave at night, but she tells my coworker that she’s the only one who does it. I’ve been finding that this is not the case and that she’s actually stopped helping out altogether. I’m worried that she’s going to say she’s the only one restocking to my boss and that I’m going to get in trouble for it.

    That’s just one example, but my question is how do you avoid getting caught in drama from someone who is looking for reasons to get you in trouble?

    1. fposte

      By not accepting the challenge. I wouldn’t worry about what she said to the boss (I don’t think most bosses deeply care who’s restocking the kitchen stuff, for one thing). I might consider saying calmly to her at one point that it sounds like there’s been some confusion on the restocking–you’ve been doing it regularly and are happy to do it, so she doesn’t need to worry about it. But that’s the last I’d talk about the topic.

      Dramamongers are sometimes dramatic actors themselves, but really they’re directors–they need you to leap onstage for their work to be satisfying. Stay offstage.

      1. Anti-Drama Queen

        Yeah I might send an e-mail just clarifying the schedule. I think I was more worried that it would be seen that I wasn’t doing my job and I’d get in trouble for it. Having a written schedule would help keep things orderly and on track.

        Thanks for the creative advice of staying offstage!

  56. Cass

    I used the “magic interview question” on a phone interview for a job I thought was a stretch – they seemed to respond really well and I think it was a big help in my favor! At the end of the call, they said a very, *very* (their emphasis) select group of their 10 phone interviews would be invited to the final stage in-person. Well, only 3 days have passed and I got an email saying they were “extremely impressed with me” and want the in-person on Monday!!!! Wish me luck, this site has been a huge help so far.

    1. Cass

      Oops, meant to include they said they would be in touch “in a few weeks” if I got the next interview so I was pleasantly surprised to get the email 3 days later.

  57. Amber Rose

    Although it surprises me somewhat, I really enjoy the job I was hired for. Like a lot. I had believed I would be good with anything that paid the bills since I have no particular work aspirations, but I really like the work I’m doing. And now that jerk face has been let go (and we’re getting a lot of cheering about that, I guess he was actually pretty terrible to deal with for clients too) and I’m taking on a chunk of his work, I’m busy too. Really busy.

    The problem is that a month or so after I was hired, they decided I should train to take over the safety program, which is not work I actually enjoy much after all. And the more I learn it, the more I’m expected to do. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, and also feeling that I don’t want to inherit this program when the existing coordinator leaves (another year, mabye 2). Because that would take me away from the other stuff that I enjoy.

    My 6 month review is next week. Should I bring these feelings up with my boss? Or is it too soon for that? I’m fine with being part of the safety committee and helping out, but I don’t really want it to be mine.

    1. fposte

      I think it’s legit to bring up at that meeting rather than later, since that gives them time to find somebody else. “I’m happy to help out as best as I can, but the more I get a hold of the Teapots part of the job the more I know that’s where I want to spend my time and grow. Would it be a problem to put somebody else on training to replace Jane?” Be aware that that may be the growth opportunity they had to hand you, though, and if so that may mean slower growth.

    2. Dawn

      Sure, bring it up. Frame it as a “hey I am really enjoying (work I was hired to do)! Here’s everything I have on my plate (list everything). One thing- I am happy to help out with the safety program but it’s really eating into my ability to keep up with (work that you guys actually hired me to do). How do you want me to handle that?”

      Your boss needs to know the impact that this safety program is having on the work that the company actually hired you to do, so make sure you’re explicitly laying that out so your boss can make a decision about your continued involvement with that.

      1. Dawn

        Also note that the ONLY way that it’s going to get better for you is if you’re really, really clearly communicating your workload and the impact that the safety program has on your workload, so don’t sugarcoat it!

  58. TotesMaGoats

    This week has been a lot of WTF. Finally got a chance to go through the mass of files that ended up in my office and I’m honestly not sure what exactly my predecessor did. It clearly wasn’t anything remotely related to admissions best practices or even common sense. No wonder numbers are in the tank. I’ve gotten some great feedback from coworkers on ideas and suggestions I’ve made. None of this is rocket science by any means but they all seem so astounded. And since this is our busiest time of the year, I’m offering to help in other ways and they all seem so surprised by that. And thankful, like inordinately thankful. And I’m like this is what you do to be a good team player and because I like to be helpful and it usually gives me strings to pull at the future date.

    So, things are getting better here every day. I’m feeling productive and more in control of things. And I did the actual math and I’ll be out of the leave hole by October, so I can take a fall vacation. It’s been hard to adjust from earning leave on an hourly basis with each paycheck to earning it by the day each month with a monthly paycheck. I actually earn slightly more leave but my brain just wouldn’t wrap around it.

  59. Sunshine Brite

    What’s a good, non-boring way for a fairly large, growing unit to get to know each other? My area is always looking for suggestions as we mainly work remotely from one another and there’s a lot of turnover. We have large group meetings every couple months and they want to encourage getting to know new people in a meaningful way.

    1. Solid B Student

      Please… no team-building exercises but how about a (voluntary ) off-site luncheon or after work mixer?

      1. Sunshine Brite

        That’s what I said at the last planning meeting! As well as not going through and individually introducing the 105ish people. The others ended up coming up with 3 less ridic games than I was imagining and remained more focused on work than not work which was nice. We used 1 for the last meeting due to time and people seemed to like it more than I thought they would which was weird. The boss’s boss wanted intros so we had to sit through those again.

        Sept. is going to be a picnic which is awesome. An after work mixer probably wouldn’t fly with all the remoteness and general introvertedness that this job attracts even though I think it’d be fun

        1. Kai

          Oh man, aren’t those “go around the table and introduce yourself” things the worst? It’s one thing if you have like 5 people or less and knowing one another is actually going to be helpful. But we do it in large groups all the time here and it’s ridiculous.

    2. LBK

      I’m not sure how remote these people are but could you arrange job shadowing between people in different positions? I like those as opposed to “everyone just get together and be social” events sometimes because they provide a natural way to fill the time, they give you something to talk about if either of you aren’t naturally chatty people and they help the business by giving you more of an appreciation for what your coworkers do. They’re great for people like me who loathe the small talk that usually occurs at mixers or luncheons.

  60. Paige Turner

    Can anyone tell me if I’m being paranoid here?
    I’m anxious by nature but I’ve always done well at work. I recently landed a job that got me out of my two part-time retail jobs and into office work. The job isn’t in my field and the pay isn’t great, but it seemed like a step in the right direction. I work for a very small consulting company (Company A) as a subcontractor to a larger consulting company (Company B) working for a government agency. I was hired to handle admin work for the overworked project manager from Company B, “Tim,” and his colleagues. I’ve been there a month and while I’ve been given some tasks, I have about 10-15 hours of actual work a week. I’m based in the agency office while most everyone else is remote or in Company B’s office. I’m bored.
    I want to stick it out and build experience, but in the past week, I’ve been getting emails from the owner “Sam” (my boss in the sense of the person who pays me) of Company A, asking for info about what’s going on with Company B. He’s been asking me for details about hiring and the like, and wants me to ask around at Company B, but to not tell them he asked. I have only met Sam once briefly, so while I work for him, I really don’t know him or have an idea of the factors at play here. Sam knows “Tim,” but he doesn’t have a day-to-day role in supervising my work. My coworkers are all from Company B, and I feel uncomfortable “spying” on them for Company A. I don’t mind to give Sam some details here and there, but I’m not privy to higher decision making, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking. I feel a bit like a pawn between Sam and Tim. I have an idea of why I work for A and not B (budgeting and contracting reasons), but it still feels odd being the only person from A (and the only non-exempt person, but that’s another thing).
    Am I over-reacting? How should I respond to Sam?

    1. fposte

      Yeah, that’s weird and unpleasant–you’re not being paranoid. I might go for a shield of cheerful cluelessness. “Their job postings are at this link, and I’m sure Beth in HR would be happy to talk to you about what you want to know. Around the office we mostly just talk about baseball these days–there’s never too much mockery for the Cubs fans!”

    2. The IT Manager

      Hmmm … I’m sorry I don’t have a great answer. Generally I think anything you see/witness/are aware of you can tell Sam about. If it were proprietary, Company B would keep it hidden from you. Sam is trying to find something out to give Company A an edge. I would tell him what I knew without resorting to asking people direct questions for Sam. But Sam is your boss with the power to fire you.

      1. Paige Turner

        Thanks to both for the input. I agree that anything that I know can’t be too secret, but thanks for validating that this makes me feel awkward at best. (And so true about mocking Cubs fans- and I’m not even near Chicago!)

    3. Not So NewReader

      The times I have seen this between competitors it is because the boss who asks the questions feels jealous about the assets a competitor has.

      Since this has been going on for a week, you might get away with pretending not to notice the oddness of the questions. Just answer with what you observe in front of you. If pressed, just tell him that it would look very odd for you to be asking those types of questions and it would not take long for them to figure out that he was having you ask.

  61. Hooligan

    I escalated an issue with a colleague to my manager this week. I’m a PM, they’re a junior PM. I was asked to support the junior person on a big project. After the first status call, I realized the big project was out of control – no agenda, unclear next steps, promising the client services we don’t offer, suggesting we’d give away services for free. My “support” wouldn’t be enough to salvage it, and I would have responsibility fro the project. Turns out the person’s performance is a known issue, and they were already gathering input to coach them. That said, I’ve been feeling nauseous about this for a day. I actually woke up in the middle of the night and, lay in bed for a couple of hours feeling terrible.

    1. Not So NewReader

      And they gave you no warning that you were walking into this hornet’s nest? Wow.

      I hope you took something to protect your stomach. And try, try, try to remember you did not cause this problem, Junior Person caused it.

      When the dust settles (I know it will be a while) consider going back to the boss and doing an autopsy here. The primary thing that gets me is that they just sort of threw you into the mess. Ask to have some idea of what is going on, if there ever is a next time.

  62. Folklorist

    Thanks (and curses!) to whoever recommended as a stress-reliever last week. I have spent an unhealthy amount of time watching and waiting for Sisko to have her kittens this week! What a fascinating site–especially the chats with the community of people from all over the world just…watching a pregnant cat sleep.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think I was the one who mentioned it last week, but someone else here originally mentioned it a few months ago and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

    2. kozinskey

      There are lots of kitten cams out there! I used The Critter Room as stress relief when I was studying for the bar. Foster Dad John is an amazing human being and his interactions with the kittens are absolutely adorable.

    3. Bekx

      Awww Livestream is blocked at work. I was hoping I could let it play in the background while I did some graphic design work today :(

  63. Stranger than fiction

    Latest sound driving me nuts at office: Nail clipping. So gross, really you need to do that with your door open? And what are your nails made out of, oak?

    1. Paige Turner

      *Shudder* My sympathies to you. This is possibly worse than my coworker who talks on the phone in the restroom- on speakerphone.

    2. Amber Rose

      Our shipper does this. She has the desk next to mine, and by the sound she either has way more than 10 fingers, or cuts away the tiniest possible amount each time. It takes her ages to finish.

      Or maybe it just feels like an age because it’s so gross.

    3. ACA

      I sympathize – I’ve got a coworker who does this too. She also talks so loudly on her phone that I can clearly hear her conversations from like 50 feet down the hall.

    4. Nashira

      Oh god, yeah. A work friend does this and it makes me want to claw my skin off and also strangle them a little.

    5. NacSacJack

      As I sit here with my long nails that I havent cut because I cant find the fingernail clippers I bought last week and I am not using toenail clippers on fingernails ever again. I swear nail clippers go into the same black hole as sox and other stuff.

      PS I found them in the dishrack this morning. I bought them at the grocery store and unpacked in the kitchen.

  64. Lisbonslady

    Curious – have many of you given notice and been let go that day? First time for me, yesterday, and I’m a little shell shocked.

    Clearly the place was bad enough that I finally couldn’t take it anymore so maybe I shouldn’t assume they would treat me well on my way out the door! But I was willing to help in any way with the transition. Now I have people so lost because many things only I handled.

    Not my problem now, right?

    1. Stranger than fiction

      This is somewhat common for Sales roles or other similar positions where they don’t want you pilfering customers before you go.

      1. Lisbonslady

        Thanks. It was actually an administrative coordinator role connected to an event where I was the main contact for presenters and handled other major projects no one else deals with. Others have given notice and stayed. But then again my manager didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day so who knows what’s going on there.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          I see so perhaps you were privy to other proprietary information or your boss is just plain butthurt.

          1. Lisbonslady

            Yes, well, the way she treats everyone on the team is the reason I finally left. I was concerned about wrapping up the work… time to just let it go.

    2. fposte

      Ouch, I’m sorry, Lisbonslady. I think shell shock is an understandable reaction.

      I’ve heard of it at a lot of places now that we’re all plugged into delicate networks, but I think it’s not a pleasant way to treat people.

    3. Dynamic Beige

      Yep. Happened to me, I went in to give notice and was told it would be my last day. I was expecting it, though, as it had happened that way to a coworker a couple weeks before. The company had no work and they were somewhat paranoid that I would take company secrets with me (ha!)

      No longer your monkeys, no longer your circus. Have the best weekend ever!

  65. College Career Counselor

    I’m on a search committee at my current university, and I got the opportunity to question why we ask candidates to provide their salary history earlier this week. This is roughly how it went:

    “Is there any particular reason we ask them to disclose previous salary, other than habit or tradition? I mean, what do we do with this information?”

    “Well, if a salary range that we have in mind is 60-80k for example, and a candidate is only making 40k, we could probably offer 50k and it would be fine with the candidate.”

    “So, it’s a means of gathering information to low-ball candidates on salary, then?”

    “Well, no, but this information is useful to us should the candidate wish to negotiate salary .”

    “So we’re starting off our relationship with candidates on an inherently unequal footing around salary negotiation?”

    “But it works the other way, too. If we know a candidate is making 100k, we can probably assume that s/he isn’t interested in a job paying only half that.”

    “So it’s a way of screening out people who already make too much? If we just gave a salary range–or had a conversation with candidates at the front end of the process–we could handle this much more transparently than we are now.”

    I went on to say that a salary range should be based on what our market analysis says it should be, informed by what our budget can actually support, which the search committee and the HR person in the room did not have a philosophical problem with. It was confirmed that it was optional for candidates to list that information, and some sure did. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to disclose their salary history voluntarily, but I suspect it was because either they thought they had to (fill in all the form blanks) or they thought this disclosure gave them some advantage over others who didn’t follow suit.

    I have no illusions that this conversation is going to change HR’s approach at my university overnight, but it did feel good to raise these issues and hear how other people in the room felt (some said they always disclose the range when they head a search committee) and perhaps the HR person will raise the issue with other folks in the HR hierarchy.

    1. LBK

      That’s awesome that you at least had the chance to put the idea into the heads of people who can make that change. I doubt many people get the opportunity to be so direct with feedback about their company’s hiring process.

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      “So, it’s a means of gathering information to low-ball candidates on salary, then?”

      “Well, no, but this information is useful to us should the candidate wish to negotiate salary. ”

      I have no idea what this means other than “well no, but…yes, basically.”

      Good for you for speaking up!

    3. TCO

      Nice work. If your university is public like mine is, it’s also worth noting that it’s really easy for employees to find out their coworkers’ salaries and realize that their pay isn’t equitable. That’s grounds for the low-balled people to feel disgruntled, think about leaving, or even start making noise about discriminatory practices (I’m not saying you’re discriminating, but you don’t want to give the appearance that you are).

      1. College Career Counselor

        Good point. We are private, so finding out salary ranges (unless you’re in HR) is much more opaque.

      2. Nashira

        Oh yeah. I can find out the salary of most public employees in my state with a simple website. You don’t even need complete names for it.

  66. AdAgencyChick

    You asked, I’m answering…

    I’d been job hunting for several months (and not posting about it here, at least not under my regular handle, because I know at least one person from my agency reads this blog, although I’m not sure whether she reads the comments). There have been some senior management changes that I can only describe as no bueno. The last straw for me was when my awesome boss, who was my layer of insulation between me and what was going on up top, moved to another division of the company. I figured out she was going to do it, asked her to lunch, and basically told her, “I see you have an exit strategy. I need one too.” It was her hope that we’d find one for me within the company, and the wheels started turning, but far too slowly and I felt like my job was not safe under my new boss.

    So I was looking…and looking…and looking. And the well of jobs at my job title was DRY. I talked to everyone I knew at other agencies asking them whether they knew of anything. Nothing. Then a few weeks ago I got a phone call from an agency where I’ve applied a couple of times before, fallen in mutual love with a team, and then suddenly they didn’t have budget for the position any more. Well, they do now! I got along with everyone I interviewed with like a house on fire, and I also know a TON of people at this agency who assured me that this team was not just blowing smoke up my butt about what it’s like to work on this team. My final interview was Tuesday morning, they made me an offer Tuesday evening, and I accepted on the spot and resigned the next day. I am GIDDY with excitement.

    The hilarious thing is, now that I have a job offer, other companies are coming out of the woodwork to ask me, “Are you still looking?” One of them, I had gone to a first interview with on Monday, and they wanted me to meet some more people. I had told them I was far along in the process with the other agency, and they didn’t end up moving fast enough. I was supposed to have a second interview with them next week, which I have since canceled, and they just told me, “The other two people decided they don’t need to meet you because the hiring manager liked you so much, would you consider coming over now?” I said no — both because I don’t want to renege and burn a bridge, but also because I’m genuinely thrilled to accept the first agency’s offer.

    Like I said, I’m giddy!

    1. voluptuousfire

      It’s like when you start dating someone, that’s when previous suitors and paramours and the like come out with “oh, I always had a thing for you! Too bad you’re not single anymore.”

      1. voluptuousfire

        And you’re like “where were you two months ago when I was single?!?!”

        That was supposed to be part of the last comment. Accidentally hit submit before I finished up.

  67. LSP

    Does anyone know if there is a legal requirement to interview X amount of candidates for any position? What if only one person applies for the job?

    My friend applied internally for a position that they created specifically for him but they keep postponing the decision because they said no one else (internally or externally) had applied.

    Google University surprisingly could not give me any clear answers. T.I.A.

    1. Ash (the other one)

      In government, yes, there are those requirements to an extent. In private sector? Nope. I just went through a hiring process that we needed to fill quickly. We did 2 phone screens, 1 in person interview, and offered that person the job.

    2. Sascha

      I don’t know about legal, but at my state university (Texas), we’re required to interview 3 candidates for positions open to the public, but I’m not sure we have to do that for those that are open only to the university – which itself is code for “this is a promotion created for an existing employee, so don’t bother applying.”

      We have been in that position before where we had to find 3 people to interview, and for the longest time only 2 applied for our position, so it was really annoying to have to wait, especially when we wanted to make an offer to one of the people we interviewed.

    3. LSP

      Thanks everyone! This is for a private company in the golden state. I feel like they are just pulling his leg, although maybe they do have an internal policy he isn’t aware of. Such a bummer!

      1. NoCalHR

        There’s no law in CA that requires a specific number of candidates. However in addition to internal policy/practice, if the hiring company has any union employees, they may have a contractual obligation to meet that bleeds over into non-union positions. We modified our non-union job posting policy to match the union job posting practice, primarily to be even-handed and transparent.

        1. LSP

          Fascinating! This might totally apply to his situation.

          I wish I knew more about the intricacies of HR… Hmm, I haven’t read Evil HR Lady in a while.

  68. Ash (the other one)

    This is sort of work related, sort of tangential so if I should wait to the weekend let me know.

    I was just invited to do a TV interview at the end of September when I’ll be over 9 months pregnant. I’m already struggling to look work appropriate with my current wardrobe and don’t want to spend a ton, but also want to look professional on TV! What do I wear? I’ve always been told not to wear all black for media, and the most professional thing I have that fits at this point is a black sheath dress that I could throw a blaze (that would be far from buttoned) over. I could order something from Isabella Olivier, but I hate to spend that much money!

    Ack, help!

    1. Paige Turner

      Well, would the camera only be filming you from the upper-chest up? If so, focus on that…I think the outfit you describe sounds fine, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing an unbuttoned blazer at nine months pregnant! If you want to add color, I think a scarf would do nicely.
      Congrats on the interview and good luck with the baby :)

    2. Diddly

      Over nine months pregnant? That seems a really weird time to schedule an interview, I mean pregnancies can go over-term so you could have had the baby only very recently, or if you’re lucky had the baby a month ago. Seems unnecessarily stressful – can you ask them to reschedule in light of pregnancy – I mean doing it at 7 or 8 months seems better – dependent on how much your doctor thinks you should move – other issue what if there are medical complications?/caesarian? I mean could they do it in three months after you’ve given birth – and you get contact with them once you’re clearer on dates?

    3. Snork Maiden

      One quick way to look more professional is to have your arms covered, or at least to your elbows. For some reason on TV short sleeves or no sleeves looks even more casual (with a few exceptions that usually prove the rule). Will your blazer look awkward unbuttoned? If not I’d recommend that. If you’re worried about having too much black on, a statement necklace peps things up, although I’d stay away from anything with large reflective surfaces or has a lot of moving elements. Seconding Paige Turner’s scarf recommendation as well.

      I hope your TV interview goes well!

    4. Silver

      A few things I’ve noticed from working in broadcast for a few years.

      Stay away from green shades and some shades of blue if filming will be in front of a superimposed background/green screen in a studio.
      Stripes tend to read wrong on TV. Avoid if possible as they may end up looking wavy. Tight checks, especially in black and white can also distort a little. Solid colours are the least likely to suffer from any distortion on screen.

      Stay away from sheer or anything that seems flimsy. The lights can make certain fabrics see through. The blazer can help to prevent this. Also nude undergarments if possible again to prevent them showing through the clothes under the lights.

      If you’re still in doubt check out some newsreaders to get styling cues and colour scheme ideas.

  69. Alistair

    So I’ve had a very busy two months, with several weeks away from home (not all at the same time, fortunately!). These last two days have been tough for me to get going and keep going. I worry I’m burning out. But the problem is, I’m not sure what burn out is like for me. Right now, i feel laziness, not being interested in my work, and am having many fantasies about finding other work or at least being able to do my hobbies.

    So, good people of AAM! Tell me about your burn out warning signs, and what (if anything) you’ve done to combat it, besides taking time off. My job is not done yet, I have to push maybe another week before I could take some time.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Diddly

      Hmm I think I had burnout during end of a course I was doing, felt I had taken on too much, and outside in my personal life things were very stressful and there was no solid ground. I was very tired – a lot of the time, I struggled to put work together, and ultimately stopped a couple of weeks before end of year – but that was unique as I’d almost been carrying others who hadn’t been submitting anything. I was tearful – overly emotional – and constantly on edge, it was like I was constantly on the edge of the seat – overly reactive I guess – which meant I was relying on my last nerve. And it felt like that – like I was relying on my nerves – and that I couldn’t keep up much longer. So maybe I was heading for burnout?

    2. over educated and underemployed

      I’m feeling that right now due to a so-far-unsuccessful job search on top of regular work and having no free time. I’m just so glad I’m taking 3 days off, giving me a 5 day weekend to visit family, which I really really need.

      But if I had a week of additional pushing, my coping strategies are 1) counting down the time, because no matter how busy you are, it keeps passing, yay!, 2) working in little rewards to brighten my day along the way, like “today I get to eat junk food for lunch” or something like that, and 3) keeping in mind something to look forward to after the push is over, like spending a weekend day pursuing a hobby, or having a friend over for dinner, or something. Good luck! The end is nigh!

    3. Not So NewReader

      Warning signs. Can’t sleep at night, can’t stay awake during the day. Moody and trying not to show it then getting more tired from hiding the moodiness. Unusual and embarrassing lack of patience. Eating way to much food (energy has to come from some where, no sleep = more food.) A 15 minute task feels like it takes an hour. Discomfort with driving a car. Annoying little aches and pains.

      What I did- streamlined what I am doing, for example fix two meals at once, put one away for tomorrow. Leave the tv off, skip other time wasters. If I can delegate something at work or at home, I made more of an effort to do so. Refuse to take on any other commitments for my time.

  70. Carmen Sandiego JD

    I had a written test, followed by detailed phone interview, then interview by 9 principals/attorneys/consultants at a major top teapot firm, last Thursday. The lead said she’d pass my details to the company’s founder the day after (Friday) and that they’d get back to me next week. Well, it’s next week now, 7-8 days passed, no word. What happened, and why don’t they respond, considering they first contacted me in late June, July was the written round, and last week was the 1 hr 20 min in-person I thought went so well? Rg….:/

    1. JMegan

      Aw, that’s the worst, isn’t it.

      Probably nothing at all happened, other than it’s summer and people aren’t around as much, and things often take longer than we think they will. There are a thousand possible reasons why they haven’t called yet – some of which mean they don’t want to offer you the job, and some of which mean they do want to offer you the job but can’t yet. There’s just no way to know.

      ^^And I know you know all that! It’s so easy to say, when you’re not the one waiting for that phone call. All I can say is, the waiting part sucks, and I hope they get back to you soon.

    2. afiendishthingy

      That sounds very promising. Don’t read into them not contacting you but do try to move on mentally as Alison suggests, keep applying for stuff. Good luck. Waiting is the worst.

  71. SeveSixOne

    Let’s talk about the types of people you see over and over again at work. It seems like certain awful personality traits show up again and again at work. How many of these sound like people you’ve worked with?

    -The Agitator, who loves to stir up trouble

    -The Hot Potato, who gets passed around from manager to manager instead of getting fired (often because they *can’t* get fired for Complicated Reasons)

    -The Golden Child, who can do no wrong

    -The Scapegoat, who can do no right

    -The Iron Fist, who insists on Following The Rules No Matter What

    -The Blister, the pain who doesn’t show up until after the hard work is done

    -The Doomsday Prophet, who always assumes the worst

    -The Paul Revere, who can’t keep a secret

    Smaller workplaces often have a single person in more than one role– in the worst job I’ve ever had, the boss was nearly all of these roles in one awful package. In larger organizations, I’ve even noticed that individual DEPARTMENTS sometimes have the roles/reputations above.

    Have you noticed this? What other roles have you seen over and over in your working life?

    1. Not me

      Agitator! Well, she agitated herself more than anyone else.

      She liked to pit people against each other, shout, hit her desk, and throw things. And she would instigate fights with my other coworker when he was “unprofessional” (he cursed sometimes), which featured more shouting and desk-hitting. She also pitched fits at our manager, who had the gall to be a manager while being a year younger than her, oh no.

      She stormed out one day and was replaced with someone who is extremely calm and easy to get along with. Yay.

    2. Katie the Fed

      I see a lot of what I call The Tank. They are really smart and really good at getting things done but they have the people skills of a Mongol warrior. Like a tank, they’re effective when used in the right context, but might not be worth the destruction they wreak on everything around them.

      1. SeveSixOne

        Do you think the Tank is a subset of the Brilliant Jerk we talked about earlier this week, or in a class by itself?

    3. Katie the Fed

      Unfortunately, I also see a few Den Mothers. Almost always women, they’re the ones who bring in cookies and brownies and clean the fridge and do the party planning.

      I object to them on principle because they’re not doing much to help their own careers OR perceptions of the role of women in the workplace.

      1. SeveSixOne

        Ugh, yes. Den Mothers are often Paul Reveres too, which is a SUPER FUN (read: not fun at all) combo. /s

        I didn’t want to get too deep into this, but I definitely can’t help noticing that most of these traits are especially common among one specific age/gender/class/whatever group.

    4. GOG11

      I have a Paul Revere here. He’ll tell me something and then come back later and ask me not to pass it on because he shouldn’t have told me. There’s also an Iron Fist, but he’s got so much institutional knowledge and he’s so approachable and helpful that I appreciate him a lot (though I do tend to have Iron Fist tendencies myself…).

    5. JMegan

      The Chicken Little, for whom everything is an emergency.

      I’m dealing with one of those right now. My manager has explicitly told me that my job with relation to Chicken Little is to talk her down from the ceiling. It’s fine with me, since I generally only interact with her a couple of times a month, but it must be exhausting for people who work with her all the time!

    6. MaryMary

      The Overpromiser. The coworker, usually a sales person or relationship manager who says “oh, of course we can do that” to any client request, no matter how bizarre or impossible. Some Overpromisers even double down and manage to make reasonable requests unreasonble: “The client asked if we could have that information to them by next Friday, but I said we’d get it over to them tomorrow.”

      The Overpromiser is never the one who has to deliver on the promises.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        One Hallowe’en there was a costume party after work. I went to it because… well, you’re sort of supposed to. But, I was going to be working onsite all day so I decided to just go in my suit, it was too much work to come up with some sort of quickie costume. At the party, one of my coworkers came up to me and asked where my costume was. How I managed to spit this out, I have no idea but I said “Are you kidding? I’m the scariest person in this room” gesturing to my suit “… an Account Exec who cannot say ‘no'” I quickly threw out a few examples that were only slightly exaggerated from some things that had happened. They got a look on their face I will never forget and quickly walked away.

    7. Katie the Fed

      Another one! The Office Dementor: The person who is so negative, whiny, and pessimistic they immediately ruin your day when you talk to them.

      1. Ezri

        Ugh, I work with one of these. It’s just exhausting, and I always put my headphones on when they wander down my aisle. No matter the context, they always find some way to make a comment about how miserable their lives are and how hard their job is.

      2. MaryMary

        Mine is more like an Eeyore. So continuously pessimistic and full of gloom and doom that it’s circled back toward being kind of funny.

    8. ConstructionHR

      Close Talkers
      We have one guy hear who has done everything, been everywhere, made killer money, told clients to F-off & has about 200 years worth of stories in his 45 y.o. obese, chain-smoking frame.

      1. SevenSixOne

        The Yakker in my office is named (for example) Midas, and he’s so notorious for yakking that I use “Midased” as shorthand for “trapped in a poinless boring nonversation with someone who won’t shut up”.

        I hate it when I have to ask Midas for anything, because something that would take 30 seconds with anyone else is at least five minutes with the Midas touch.

    9. the_scientist

      The Trainwreck- the person whose personal life is in shambles and can’t help bringing their personal business into work. Features: carrying on loud phone conversations of a very personal nature in a public area, telling anyone who will listen about their latest Relationship Drama, and creeping boyfriends/dates/exes on Facebook and parsing their status updates with colleagues. Woe be unto the poor soul who sits near this person.

      1. QualityControlFreak

        Oh dear, we have one of these. In addition to relationship drama, we get to hear all about their medical history and current health issues (soooo many health issues). They are extremely loud and there is no way to opt out of receiving this unwelcome information. This person is also a Slacker who misses prodigious amounts of work, and I’m sure they believe they cannot be let go because “Medical Issues” are sacrosanct. Basically it appears they want to not work but still be paid. When they are on the clock they do more socializing/personal business than work. I have actually compared working with this person to watching a train wreck up close and in slow motion.

    10. OfficePrincess

      I’m not sure what you’d call a cross between an Agitator, Iron Fist (who only gets the rule right 50% of the time) and Drama Lama, but if you think of a name, I’ve got one.

    11. Kai

      The Hulk, who growls and pounds his fist on the desk and angrily grumbles when anything even mildly irritating happens.

    12. Goat Scape

      +1 to departments having these reputations.

      I worked for a company’s Golden Child department, then got Hot Potato-ed to the Scapegoat department when the owner died.

      That was fun :(

  72. Blue Anne

    Here in the UK, it’s a couple of minutes to 5. Most of my office has already left. I’m sitting here studying for the retake of a Tax exam for my accountancy qualification – we all do the same one in my firm and it’s incredibly embarrassing to me that I failed it, even though everyone’s being nice about it.

    If I fail it again (which I think I might) I won’t get fired, but I will be the first person who has ever failed an exam twice and not gotten fired, thanks to a policy change. Theoretically, I can take the exam up to four times, but if I fail it again I feel like it would be kinder for them to fire me and just let me find a new job at a second-tier firm.

    If you had a colleague in the office in my (potential) position, how would you see them? Someone who has failed more exams than you were allowed to fail without losing their job? I feel like my colleagues would all think I’m not really good enough.

    1. Chris

      Honestly, I’d just assume you don’t test well. I test really well, and I know that’s not entirely usual. I’d probably have sympathy that you were struggling. (I’d tell you if I would be a jerk about it, too.) This is all assuming you’re good at your job. If you were incompetent AND you failed the exam, then I’d judge. But it would be based off your general incompetence, not the exam.

      1. Blue Anne

        Luckily, I seem to be competent. Or that’s what my performance manager tells me. :)

        Thank you.

    2. Diddly

      I think you’re being very hard on yourself, which won’t help you study, which is your priority. Focus one what you can do to pass on the second round, perhaps one of your colleagues can help you study? Or you could get a tutor? Do practice exams?
      I think make it a priority to study for this exam. Thinking about anything else will cause unnecessary stress – you can’t know what your colleagues are thinking. I doubt the rules were changed specifically for you, but they were changed so the company must have thought they were losing valuable employees due to it. – If it was changed due to you – then you’re definitely a valued employee.
      If you do fail the second exam, take it as it comes, don’t instantly demote yourself. But key point – is you’re thinking kind of like a depressed person. All or nothing thinking, deciding other people’s thoughts that you can’t possibly know, predicting the worse, and being overly hard on yourself. Would you act the same way to a colleague or friend?
      Please focus on the exam and being kind to yourself, not what others think.

      1. JMegan

        I agree with all of this. Take deep breaths, as many as you need, and focus on the task at hand. If you have time, try to get some exercise before the exam – even a long walk can be good if you don’t have a usual routine. And above all, as Diddly said, be kind to yourself.

      2. Blue Anne

        Studying for the exam is definitely a priority. I’ve gotten extra material from the institute, a big pack of new exam-standard questions to practice on. And I’m being good about giving myself breaks. I had a nice movie night with my boyfriend last night, I’m doing a bit of internet browsing every couple hours. But it’s so hard to not beat myself up, and when I start doing that it’s difficult to get motivated again.

        On the “thinking like a depressed person” – yes, I’m in treatment for anxiety and I’m worried that it has morphed. :(

        I have therapy tomorrow so I will talk about this with my therapist, who is wonderful at giving me perspective and making me *actually* believe it.

        1. Diddly

          Glad you’ve got someone to talk to – I just recognised certain patterns that I’m prone to and have to talk myself out of – good luck!

      3. Not So NewReader

        Agreed. You are focusing on what people will think and not focusing on what you need to know for the test. This trap will get you if you let it.

        Whatever people think- so what. Who cares. Next year it might be their turn to retake the exam, and what will you think of them? You’ll probably quietly say “BTDT” and never mention it to them, which leaves them wondering what YOU think! See, it’s a pit. Don’t fall in it.

        What is really important here is what you think of you. Positive mental imaginary is needed here. Picture yourself, you have finished the test and you get The Word: PASSED! Get that picture in your head and every time you have a negative thought make yourself look at that picture in your head.

    3. Carmen Sandiego JD

      I’d see them as strong in the knowledge, just not in test-taking scenarios. Case in point: I personally failed 3 bar exams re: attorney licensure. Despite this, I have a masters as well as a JD, and have a superb writing position for a major billion dollar strategy initiative. It is possible to be successful/have a job having failed the exam. But what really matters is how you distinguish yourself in your area–do you have a specialty? And what are your long-range career goals?

      (Also, note that your family may not be supportive b/c of the supposed “failures.” Mine aren’t and they keep trying to give me job ads despite the fact I’m perfectly happy where I am).

      1. Blue Anne

        My specialty is Audit, and I seem to be doing okay at it. My performance reviews are fine, occasionally good. Long term, I think I really want to get out of here, dye my hair pink and just do accounting for all my freelancer buddies from a coffee shop. So…. I shouldn’t really be too worried about what kind of promotion potential I’m building up or anything, but it’s still hard.

        Luckily, my mom is very supportive, but mostly because she wants me to have a graduate qualification. I’m the only one in the family with no PhD. She likes telling me about how in the week before her bar exam, she was studying so much she put her hard contacts in the wrong eyes and went temporarily blind, and they brought my grandma in to the read the questions out and she touch-typed the answers on a typewriter. And she passed. (Yes, she did that and *then* a PhD.)

        It’s that kind of support. :/

        1. F.

          Sounds like you could even be self-sabotaging. Passing this test seems to be more about living up to your mother’s expectations than what YOU really want to be doing. In the long run, your happiness depends on what you want, even if it is having pink hair and doing your friends’ accounting.

    4. Chorizo

      Good luck on your exam! The REG section of the CPA exam was my hardest. And it sucks to have to study when it’s the weekend and the weather is nice.

    5. Ezri

      I think it depends on the context, honestly. I test really well, but I understand that not everyone does. In my experience, professional tests (for certifications and such) have been much more difficult to pass than tests in school. I think that’s because in school you take a class on Chocolate Teapot Spouts, and then you take a test on Chocolate Teapot Spouts. But in order to get certified in Chocolate Teapots, you might have to be equally informed about Chocolate Teapot Spouts, Bases, Handles, and Widgets. And you might not actually use all those concepts day-to-day as a Chocolate Teapot Designer.

      In short, I wouldn’t think less of you. My manager, who has been doing Teapot Design for decades, recently attempted the Core Teapot Design certification exam in our field without studying and didn’t pass. I studied for two weeks and failed the same exam with double my manager’s score, but that certainly doesn’t mean I know more about the topic.

      I failed my driving test the first time, too. I know it’s not all the same thing, but failing a test doesn’t make you inadequate or mean you will never be decent at something. Just do your best, and if anyone is looking down on your for failing then they’re jerks. If the policy says you can fail without getting fired, and your work performance is otherwise good, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    6. Apollo Warbucks

      I took my financial reporting exam 3 times, my collegue tooks one ACCA exam 5 times. Don’t let it bother you, just do what you can and prepare the best you can.

      Good luck for the exam

  73. Diddly

    I’m looking at some PA jobs which sound good and don’t seem to require previous PA experience – just admin, which I have, and the industry which – ditto.
    Just wondering what sort of things to highlight in cover letter – regarding admin work that might translate into being a good PA? Or from PAs out there (or people who rely on PAs) what makes a great PA? Thanks!

  74. Feeling Vindicated

    Just want to share with everyone something that’s made my week! I overheard my coworker complaining about the major issues raised in her performance review. They were she’s too noisy and she takes too many sick days. Hurray! I’m so happy my boss actually noticed that she takes a lot of sick days and actually addressed it in her performance review so that it’s documented and HR and our director will see it. I feel optimistic that there is fairness in the world. My coworker takes a sick day every few weeks. Just last month, she was away on 3 different occasions for a cold, a headache, and a migraine. It would be more believable if it wasn’t like this every month or if she would actually just offer to do some work from home when she feels better. Her migraines, which are legitimately debilitating, only happens a couple of times a year, which means that she gets a cold, virus, whatever every other week. Every time someone in the office falls sick, lo and behold, she’s takes a sick day right after. And she plays it up every time someone so much as coughs or sneezes (“Oh, are you sick? I heard there’s a nasty flu/stomach bug/whatever going around. Now you’re going to give it to us!”). Never mind that no one else gets sick.
    Anyway, I felt like an insensitive ogre for being annoyed at her taking sick days (as I have to take care of her work because she’s away) but she does it so often so now I feel so vindicated that someone else, even our boss, has brought it up.

    1. Katie the Fed

      A lot of times employees think nothing is being done about problematic behavior. If we’re doing our jobs as managers, the employee’s coworkers will never know there’s action being taken. So it sounds like your boss is doing a good job.

      1. Feeling Vindicated

        Yes, she’s a good manager to me. But my coworker has been here for 10 years and still acts really unprofessional. Her work is good, but her behaviour isn’t. Anywhere else, and she would be fired for what she does, which is why I lack faith that her issues are being addressed by management. I’m glad to find that at least some issues are!

    2. LSP

      I was just thinking about this, sick leave in general I mean.

      “Sally” will end up taking 6 days of sick/personal time in 2 months. She legitimately has dentist and medical appointments, takes an immediate family member to the doctor, and…has an interview (but no one needs to know that!). The rest of the year she takes sick time here and there. Why does Sally feel so guilty?! What is the point of sick/personal time if every time you request it you cringe?

      It definitely sounds like your coworker was/is piggybacking off the illness of others though. F that. I think it’s easy to tell when others are taking advantage of the situation. Then again, this blog has taught me that we don’t always know what’s going on behind the scenes.

      1. Feeling Vindicated

        Yup, my coworker is a single woman living on her own. She’s in her 30s, and yet she takes more sick days than staff who’re in their 40s and 50s with children and family to look after. And we can take 2 hours off for dental and medical appointments any day, so there’s no need to book a whole day off for several appointments. You can just leave early or come late or just pop over to a clinic during the day if you have an appointment. And if you do need a whole day for several appointments at once, you don’t need that many full days off in such a short time! It frustrates me when people just play the system because they, well, just push the boundaries enough but never enough to actually be in the wrong.

        1. Diddly

          Don’t feel it’s relevant that she’s single and lives on her own. She could also have family members/friends that are sick need/help. Although it sounds she’s misusing the sick-days. But being single and living alone doesn’t mean you’re less entitled to sick days or have anything less going on in your life.
          Although it’s funny because we had a post not that long ago complaining about people coming in when they’re sick – and being told to use their sick days.. Giving her the benefit of the doubt-she could have a really poor immune system and the people she’s complaining about that are sick are the ones who should use their sick days?

          1. Feeling Vindicated

            No, she gives us the reason why she’s taking the sick day. It’s not because of family members, it’s always because she’s got a cold, a headache, that nasty stomach bug, etc. As for the coworkers who are sick, it’s obvious to everyone when they are coming down with something and are told to stay home and rest. They sound congested the day before or just look pale or flushed and leave early. She, on the other hand, always seems normal until the day of, when she’s suddenly down with a cold, stomach bug, whatever. Occasionally, no one would bat an eye–people do get sick, after all. But every two or three weeks? Just because there are instances when people come in when they’re sick doesn’t mean that people don’t stay home when they’re not sick and just don’t feel up to work. I’m not a suspicious, mistrusting ogre, just someone who now rolls my eyes when I come into work to find out that this coworker is away sick again for the third time this month.

            1. QualityControlFreak

              Try Every. Single. Week. And you get to cover for them. Fun times. It does sound like management is managing here. Change doesn’t happen overnight.

          2. Anonsie

            Seriously. Whenever someone comes in where I work saying they tamped down their fever with Tylenol or assuring us they haven’t vomited since the night before or whatever, I get very frustrated. I frequently catch whatever people bring into the office, it’s not fun. I point it out because I’m hoping it will inspire people to stop coming in sick, but no such luck.

      2. MaryMary

        Well, and I have a friend who is just, I don’t know, sickly. She catches every bug that goes around, gets strep a couple times a year, and has a tempermental digestive system. She’s been like this since she was a child. In high school, they threatened to hold her back a year because she missed so many days (her grades were fine). Could she power through the sniffles or a headache sometimes? Probably. But she’d still miss a ton of days when she’s physically too ill to work.

  75. Katie the Fed

    I’m going to have to start setting some boundaries at work. I have a couple different seniors who have pulled me in to advise on special projects they’re working. One of them I let my ego get the better of me – it was a hugely flattering offer and I should have said no because I just don’t have the time but I agreed to it and now I regret it. It’s going to be a major time suck for the next few weeks, all because I occasionally love being part of high-level things. Sigh.

    1. Christy

      It sounds worth it, though! It’s the kind of thing that’ll help you in the future. (Are you interested in advancing further, or are you happy where you are?)

      1. Katie the Fed

        Maybe? I haven’t been feeling terribly ambitious lately – more content to just stay where I am and enjoy having a life. I’ve done the making-myself-indispensable thing and it just left me exhausted. So I have to find the happy medium :/

        1. fposte

          I think you’re right that there are stages. The “Never say no” stage (okay, almost never) is really useful, but you can’t keep it up forever, and now you’ve moved past it.

  76. Anonymous in the South

    Is it ever appropriate to tell the “big boss” that a department manager is terrible, even if BB really likes that manager? He doesn’t respect her for her managing skills (which are nonexistent), her mind or her work- I think he’s mainly attracted to her but hasn’t acted upon it because he can’t catch her between husbands and he is married. I think she knows he is attracted to her and uses it to her advantage. She is a horrible manager- people are constantly leaving her department, but he’s too busy looking at her breasts and butt to notice. Would pointing out that 8 people have left her department in 6 months help or should I just not worry about it?

    1. Katie the Fed

      sounds like all risk and no gain. You’re pretty sure he’s not going to do anything about it so there’s nothing to be gained

    2. Mike C.

      Firing her would ethically open him up to having an affair without violating conflict of interest issues though…

      /Just stirring the pot!

    3. ConstructionHR

      Maybe ask him, with your best look of consternation/perplexity, if he had any idea why the turnover was so high in your department??

    4. peanut butter kisses

      The kind of person who doesn’t notice the high turnover isn’t going to appreciate the heads up. The evidence is there, the eyes aren’t working.

  77. Gingerbread

    Are there any jobs out there that combine business and computer science? My best friend is a business major and has taught herself computer programming. She wants to find a job that combines both fields, but can’t seem to find any, so I thought I’d ask here.

    1. LBK

      Sounds like a business analyst – you need the business skills to be able to translate business needs into changes, and you need the technological skills to be able to build and implement those changes.

      1. Blue Anne

        Yes, this is what my husband does. Gingerbread, it sounds like your friend is building up a great skillset to be a business analyst.

    2. Marcela

      Maybe, and I am very vague because it’s something somebody told me, not something I’ve done, data forecasting? It needs computational resources, to analyze data and create intelligible reports and plots, but also needs understanding of business, strategies and goals.

    3. Some

      Yes, Business Intelligence Analyst, for example. I’m actually looking for people with business and computer science background for our team. The problem is that is very hard because most people are good at one or the other and almost never at both.

  78. Trixie

    I received some info on Cactus Global, specifically on freelance writers and editors. Has anyone worked with them before? I’d assume you need a strong science background but maybe not if it’s smoothing out the translations.

  79. The Cosmic Avenger

    Thanks, Alison, for having the Cover Letter tag! I submitted an application for a Federal job, and before I did I touched up my cover letter based on what I read there. I have one that I used for other Federal jobs in my field that are for very similar divisions, so I really didn’t *need* to change anything other than the name and address, but I think the tweaks really made it more readable.

    And I was surprised how much quicker it was to apply now than just a few years ago! No writing KSAs, just rating yourself on the tasks.

  80. Zee

    Okay folks. How do you prefer to use vacation time? I’m in my first full-time real job and have scads of vacation time to use up because I have no actual idea the best way to use it. Do you prefer to take smaller bites, large chunks or accrue until you’re desperate? I don’t think it matters much, but I have two weeks to use before December and very few compelling events in my life to use it before then, so I kind of feel forced to do so, but want it to be effective and kind to my coworkers.

    1. Katie the Fed

      All of the above!

      I love a long weekend. I love a day off in the middle of the week. I love taking a big block at a time. It depends what I need it for.

      Really I just love when I’m not working :)

      But for you – I’d maybe do a few 4-day weekends and then a week off at once.

    2. GOG11

      I’m in my first full-time job that offers two weeks of vacation for the year. Initially, I thought ZOMG SO MUCH TIME! But now I wish I had more. Ideally, I’d love to have two weeks to use at once, and then another week or two that I could use in chunks. I’d use the time on a few of three-day weekends a year, either to have a long weekend to relax, or to use Friday to get stuff done so I could relax on Saturday and Sunday. I would use a chunk or two to get projects or deep cleaning done. Or I’d just take like a three-week vacation and use the first few days to deep clean and the rest of the time to bask in the products of my cleaning and organizing glory. Granted, I work in a field that has a three-month-long notoriously slow season, so this wouldn’t work for many jobs.

      Back to the real world…I ended up using up a couple of days here and there (court day, long weekend) and then horded everything else and took an awkwardly-structured 1.5 week vacation.

      1. Diddly

        I guess the way to expand it is to schedule it around times when there are nationwide holidays anyway so you feel like you’re stretching you’re vacation time out.

        1. GOG11

          I did end up doing that for the 1.5 week holiday. It was my first time taking a vacation, so I didn’t realize how short it would feel. I’m going to ration better this year, and continue to take advantage of organization-wide holidays.

    3. Sandy

      I used to love taking long weekends here or there. In my latest job, that has been a recipe for disaster. I wind up answering “emergency” calls the whole time.

      Now I wind up taking a two to three week chunk of time. If I do that, people actually have to make contingency plans and work around that time.

      Not my preferred method, but I like it better than traipsing around Rome a few years ago answering calls on my Blackberry.

    4. Ama

      For me it really depends on what’s going on at work — I can’t relax on long vacations if I know there’s going to be a mountain of tasks to handle when I return, so I schedule those for when my workload is less urgent. But I’ve found that when it is possible to carve out a three or four day weekend in the middle of a busier period (my crunch times tend to last 2-3 months) it can really help keep my stress levels manageable.

      However, I find I need at least one 5+ vacation day chunk every 6-8 months or all the three day weekends in the world won’t save me from turning into a stressed out mess. I’ve been really bad about not taking this into consideration the past couple of years, but I’m trying to do better going forward.

    5. SL

      I’ve been banking it, but I’ll be using a day to extend my September trip past the long weekend. It helps that I’m on a 9/80 schedule and so I get every other Friday off… it really helps with banking the time up for a longer trip because I don’t have to use PTO to get a long weekend to recharge.

    6. Ad Astra

      You have to use it before December, or you have to use it by the end of the year?

      I like to save a couple of days to use around Thanksgiving and Christmas so I can travel to see my family. That’s something to consider.

      Beyond that, I’d suggest take one full week off to take a real vacation — go somewhere cool if you can afford it, or stay home and catch up on household things if you can’t.

      Then use the rest to extend some key weekends. A weekend at the lake? A football game at your alma mater? Some kind of music or food festival that starts on a Friday?

    7. the_scientist

      Oh, this is me too! And I feel terrible about even slightly suggesting it’s a problem because I have seriously amazing vacation time. I have like 14 days I still need to schedule in before the end of December -I’ve already booked off the week between Christmas and New Year’s and taken two extra-long weekends! Part of my problem is that I’m saving up for two bigger trips next year so I don’t have a ton of money available for a trip now, and I don’t really want to spend 4-5 days bumming around my apartment (plus my SO doesn’t have as much time as me, so we wouldn’t be able to do something together)- for whatever reason that feels like a “waste” of vacation time to me. On the other hand, I could play tourist in the city, do appointments and errands, and just relax. Taking random days off seems less “wasteful” but I also usually don’t find them that relaxing- like I just end up spending the whole day grocery shopping and cleaning and then I’m like “well, gotta go back to work tomorrow….”

    8. Jen RO

      I’m in Europe, so it’s fast (2-3 hours by plane) to get to lots of cool countries, so I usually take a couple of long weekends (usually Friday to Tuesday) for a city break, and two longer holidays (one in summer – this year we’re going to Italy for 9 days – and one on winter to just veg out for the holidays).

  81. stellanor

    My team is being reorganized and I’m either going to get shuffled onto a different team with a manager I don’t know or get stuck doing my least-favorite kind of work that I was trying to move away from. :/ The latter seems more likely from what my boss is saying. I’m updating my resume and getting my LinkedIn current just in case, because I don’t think I can last more than six months assigned primarily to Task I Actually Loathe.

    1. Brownie Queen

      I was having the same issue with this site. I went and blocked all plugins so the autoplay ads that change etc. no longer affect me and I don’t get bounced back up to the top of the page all the time.

      I am using a Chromebook

  82. work,work,work

    How do you manage people who always take the victim position and basically always says “it’s someone else’s fault” that they were not able to do a certain task? I’ve tried to explain that it is their responsibility but they seem to think that if they just do the first action (for example, they’ll call person X to get information and leave a message) that is “doing their job”. When the job is actually to get the information, no matter how many calls it takes (not that many usually, and it’s more like they forgot to call back than anything malicious). I don’t want to keep reminding them of it. I am obviously not getting the point across but am not sure what I am doing wrong here. It is a bit the culture of the institution (higher education, very unionized) and they have been here much longer than me and no one seems to ever get any sort of trouble ever, so there is also that going on in the background.

    1. Diddly

      Can you give them a deadline when you require this information by, and that you won’t accept excuses for not having it by then? And be clear their job is to get the information not to wait on other people to do it for them. It isn’t x’s job to call them back. Also why couldn’t they email or go round to that person and see them – arrange a meeting, or talk to someone. Or research?
      I guess you could explain that you expect some initiative. But if there are no consequences – and it sounds like they’re unmotivated, I’m not sure how you make it happen.
      But the first step might just be not being nice. Say you wont accept excuses – shut it down when she starts, and say you expect the information you requested, no matter how they have to get it.

    2. fposte

      If they report to you, you still get to manage them. So when they say “Well, I called X and left a message” you can say calmly “We’ve talked about the fact that your job is to not merely to call but keep communicating until you get the information. Why didn’t you do that?” And then shut up let her tell you why she didn’t do that. Don’t let her derail by talking about other people. “My expectation is that you will call, email, or walk to their office and acquire the needed information in the stated timeframe whether they return your first call or not. Merely calling means you haven’t completed the task and aren’t doing the job. Do you understand what I’m saying the job is? Can you do that job?”

    3. Dr. Doll

      You clearly work where I do. It’s a total pain, but I think you may need to keep a running list of what you ask the person to do, and check in with them on a regular basis. Also, say clearly that if you need to have this conversation more than a couple more times, it will need to go into their yearly evaluation (For all the good it does). I’m really sorry for you, because you’re right, in a unionized higher ed environment, it’s very, very difficult to really address a performance problem.

  83. Hlyssande

    My group moved to new desks this week (one row over) in prep for some renovations and a move after that…and I keep walking down the wrong aisles.

    I’ve walked down the old one twice and another one twice so far this morning. Good job, me!

      1. Nanc

        Yeah, parking in the driveway and having the new owner come out and give you the stink eye. . . really, I’m not usually that flaky! At least I wasn’t at the door wondering why the key wasn’t working.

      2. Hlyssande

        I have done that, but with apartments.

        Hopefully I’ll get the new location into my muscle memory before too long. It’s too weird not to turn into the old row.

  84. aNoN

    I am struggling with something that is eating me up. I am the most junior person on my team. A lot is expected of me and the environment is very fast paced. There is a manager on my team I work with on most of my responsibilities with. I really like this person but this person is so controlling and overwhelming. Everything is nitpicked to no end. I get a lot of requests from this person which I am happy to help with but half the time this person ends up doing the work themselves after I submit the final work to this person because what I submit even after careful, discussion, check ins, and what not. Sometimes we have discussions initiated by questions about the business from this person and my answers are never satisfactory.

    I think this manager is as lost as I am. Our group is directly under our executive management and we are expected to be knowledgeable, efficient, and deliver accurate results no matter what. I think this person feels just as overwhelmed and lost as I do so controlling my work is perhaps a relief. Who knows, maybe I am over analyzing this. Our direct manager has structured our group so that this manager and I team up on most projects. This manager is awesome in many ways and I learn a lot but lately I feel like a hamster in a wheel just trying to keep up with my own work on top of the projects we work on together.

    I have gotten to the point where I no longer challenge anything and just do what I am told. I feel like my list of to do’s grows twice as long as I can check things off. Basically, I hate my job. I have my list of to do’s, projects I work on with this manager, and things that would be nice to do but I probably won’t get to. This position is so un-fulfilling. I work for a multi billion dollar corporation that shoves their values down our throats like well, a cult. I like the pay and benefits and I am only a couple years out of college so I need a solid track record on my resume. As soon as I finish my CPA, I am outta here. I don’t even want to bother looking for another role in the same company. My boss is always traveling and means well when he does try to help but I am unhappy and nothing can change that.

    How can I stay focused until I pass all my CPA sections? Any advice on dealing with this situation??

    1. Christy

      Are you able to leave work at work? I’d focus on really separating work and home and building a fulfilling home life. Sorry it’s so unpleasant.

    2. fposte

      I think you’ve got some really good perspective given how stressful the situation is–that observation about your manager being as lost as you are is a very thoughtful one.

      But overall I’m just agreeing with Christy. Disengage, identify your own internal goals so you can define some things as success for yourself, watch your savings grow. If you had one or two specific requests to articulate to your manager, I’d say that might be worth talking with her about, but it sounds like this is a general culture that she couldn’t fix even if she had the skills, which she doesn’t.

    3. Not So NewReader

      FWIW, regarding a person redoing all your work: I have asked if I could be given something that did not need redoing. I have pointed out that if someone re-does my work it’s a waste of company payroll for me to work on it. I have even asked “why am I here?”

      I have found that it is a tough nut to crack, if someone wants to keep redoing your work, they will for quite a while. So if you go this route of asking questions to stir up the thinking then be prepared to do it for a while. The compulsion to redo is a deeply rooted thing. Just my opinion, though.

  85. aNoN

    *Everything is nitpicked to no end. I get a lot of requests from this person which I am happy to help with but half the time this person ends up doing the work themselves after I submit the final work to this person because what I submit even after careful, discussion, check ins, and what not turns out to not be what this person was actually asking for

    1. Not So NewReader

      If you are checking in that much and she see the product in process then I would say it’s her not you. I have had a lot of people check in with me and never had a person fail who did the check ins. Likewise, I have checked in when I did not know, and had similar results. The end item is just fine.

      I suspect you are dealing with a person who likes to test your ESP, as in “Guess what I REALLY want?”

      The next time a task/project “fails”, tell her that this happens often in spite of frequent check ins. Tell her you want to do a good job the first time and ask what the you can do differently going forward. Keep the question handy. Say it each time she tells you that you have failed for some reason.

      You may wear her down.

      But mostly, what I get from this technique is the satisfaction of knowing I am sincerely trying to do a good job. It’s exhausting. Take care of yourself.

  86. Dulcinea

    Advise please: I sent a document to a more senior colleague for their review. It is a PDF that I scanned. Because it kept jamming the machine when I tried scanning it the right way, I scanned it upside down. When you open it it takes maybe 2 seconds to click the arrows in adobe and re-orient it so you can read it. The colleague emailed me to say he can’t read it because its upside down. Should I:
    (a) Just figure out how to correct it and resend without saying anything? If I do this, is there a way to fix this without re-scanning the document? (IE, to “save” the orientation)

    (b) Write back and suggest he try re-orienting it with the arrow buttons in adobe? If I should do this, how do I phrase it nicely? I think this guy may be pretty behind the times as far as technology is concerned and maybe he really doesn’t know how to do this, but I am not sure. He’s working from home today so maybe his home computer has some weird old software or something?

    1. Diddly

      I’d go for 2. Just say I’m really sorry I had loads of trouble with the machine to get it to scan at all, I found you can re-orient the document by doing x and then it should be the right way up. If that doesn’t work I can see if the machine has unjammed and try and send it again.

      (But really how difficult is it to re-orient a pdf)

    2. Dulcinea

      Thanks everyone. It turns out there is a way to permanently fix this in Adobe- go to file, pages, rotate pages and then be sure to save your changes. Now when you open it it will be the correct orientation, whereas if you had just rotated it using the little arrows at the bottom of the window, those changes would not be saved. So I fixed it and re-sent including a small explanation; hopefully he will appreciate learning something new and convenient (ie, that you can rotate the view of a document).

      1. fposte

        To be honest, I would actually expect the person sending it to me to have rotated the document. Presentation is on the sender, not the recipient. I’d be really taken aback to get instructions on rotation rather than a corrected document, too.

        1. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)

          I would too. I scan a lot of books and before I send the file I make sure the pages are all the same direction and legible.

      2. OfficePrincess

        Hmm good to know. I have a few things that are upside down or sideways that I’ve just learned to deal with. Normally I just need to look at one piece quickly, so I don’t find it worth it to click the rotate button, wait for my screen to adjust, click it again, wait again and then see what I need.

      3. Shell

        I’m with fposte here. I know this is a tiny thing but honestly if I were your colleague, I’d expect you to have figured out how to present the document properly, whether that was wrestling the copier into submission or reorienting the scan after. I wouldn’t have messaged you about it because I do know how to reorient pages in Adobe, but I would’ve expected you have done it and would’ve been a bit surprised that you hadn’t.

    3. peanut butter kisses

      We run into that problem a lot in the library. A patron will call to have something scanned out of a book and we can only fit the books a certain way on the scanner in order to not crack the book spine and damage the book. It is challenging to orient each page before we send it.

      1. Dulcinea

        Would context make a difference to anyone who is saying I should have just corrected it the first time (fwiw, I thought I had fixed it the first time but turns out I was wrong) ?

        The context is that colleague and I are lawyers working together on a very complicated civil suit. I am lead counsel (even though he is more senior) and he just provides some guidance/advice/alternate perspective. There are about 15 things on fire right now, and 5 that are starting to smoke (and colleague knows this). We are being inundated with paper from the other side. There are at least 12 opposing counsel, not including their secretaries, paralegals, and first-year associates not named in the signature blocks on the brief. On our side, its just me and one other guy who isn’t even really required to share responsibility 50-50 (because Internal Politics). And I don’t have any admin support, at all.

        Based on his response when I sent the corrected docs I think he really didn’t know how to reorient the doc himself, so I see why he asked me to. BUT assuming you were someone who did know how to re-orient, would you feel less annoyed receiving an upside-down doc from a colleague, knowing the circumstances? Or is it a matter of principle?

        1. Shell

          This is such a non-issue in most cases–even without the context of fifteen fires to handle–that I don’t think I’d even have gotten to annoyance, frankly. More like an “oy!” and move on with my life. In general, if I received such a doc I’d have a brief thought of “that’s sloppy” and move on (reorient/save the doc) and probably wouldn’t even mention it unless sloppiness is a pattern with the person who had sent me that particular document.

          So my answer is a bit of both. Would I be annoyed by receiving an upside-down doc? Barely, if at all. Do I think it is the responsibility of the sender to orient their docs correctly before sending? Yes.

          Knowing the circumstances grants you more leniency, but again, my initial reaction without the context would only be surprise/half an iota of annoyance at most. But in general, yes, I do expect the sender to check what they’re sending.

        2. Not So NewReader

          It could be me. As a sender, I would feel the onus was on me to twig that. However, as a recipient, I would not say anything unless it happened a few times.

  87. Ann Furthermore

    I traveled last week to help the users I’ve been working with over the last year and a half through their first month end close after implementing a new ERP system.

    They paid absolutely no attention during any of the testing events, which was painfully obvious. I worked 110 hours last week trying to get through the train wreck.

    I thought for a long time about how I’d describe it to someone who doesn’t do this kind of work. What I came up with was this:

    Imagine trying to coordinate a bunch of 6 year olds on unicycles that are constantly being distracted by puppies.

    It’s always a challenge, and always stressful, but this was way beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before.

  88. Audiophile

    Another busy Friday in here.

    It looks like a I should be receiving an offer or two very soon. Here’s what’s making me nervous:

    I interviewed with an organization early last month. I didn’t hear anything for weeks, until a reference let me know at the end of the month that they’d been contacted. Right after that, the organization got back in touch to ask about a second round where I would complete some tests. I called back and was told they’d be in touch that afternoon, they did not get in touch. A few days later the reference got back in touch to let me know they’d spoken with the organization. The org got back in touch to say they were having trouble getting in touch with my other references and could I provide some more. I obliged and hoped that an offer was in the works. Then yesterday I got an email that they’d reached out and were waiting to hear back but was I available in the interim to take some tests.

    This all seems out of order to me. I’ve never had an org contact references and then ask about a second round. Usually reference aren’t contacting until interview process has finished. I’m starting to worry, since last year I took a job and it fell apart so disastrously within a month. I definitely don’t want to go through that again.

    I had a second round yesterday with a different non-profit, who emailed within a few hours asking for references and saying they’re very interested. They’ve been very clear about their process and what they’re looking for and they’ve moved relatively quickly without a lot of back and forth.

    I’m just curious has anyone gone through what I’m going through with the first organization. It just feels very unclear.

    1. Swarley

      I haven’t gone through something similar, but that does seem out of order to me. It sounds like they might be doing reference checks to help determine who comes in for a “final round.” It strikes me as a little unorganized, but not enough to opt out of consideration (assuming the rest of the process has gone smoothly). And I definitely wouldn’t put anything on hold waiting for an offer. Perhaps the 2nd organization will move quickly and you’ll be stuck evaluating two fine offers.

      1. Audiophile

        There was no mention of a second round in the first interview, so that’s part of what’s throwing me off.
        Besides that, when my follow up message was ignored, I figured they’d hired someone and just didn’t want to be upfront. But it feels like the last few steps have been unorganized. They mentioned a second round in a VM, didn’t return my phone call. Then didn’t mention a second round in the request for more references. It just seems like they’re unsure of the last few steps.

  89. MBA

    I have an informal lunch (sort of an informational interview but even less formal that that) with the VP of my department today. This is a fairly large, well known company and I’m a lowly MBA intern making very little money.

    We’re eating at a restaurant today (I was hoping we would just eat on campus but no luck.) I would normally offer to pay without thinking twice but since this person is so far above me, I feel like it would be really weird to offer to pay.

    Thoughts on how I can act gracefully in the situation?

    1. Christy

      Do you have cash? I’d definitely bring cash, and if she offers to pay, I’d accept graciously and offer to leave the (generous) tip in cash. If she doesn’t offer, then I’d split down the middle or get two checks.

        1. Christy

          Honestly, you’ll be totally fine. I never have cash either. In that case, I’d offer to split the bill but not protest if she insists on paying.

    2. TCO

      I wouldn’t be surprised if your VP has an expense account/company card that she will use. If not, I think splitting the bill is totally fine in this setting.

  90. Sandy

    The head of another section came into my office today to ask for advice.

    Basically, she’s leaving and one of her three employees has been wayyyyy over the top with goodbye partIES, gifts, etc. so now she feels obligated to give him a big gift as a thank you (not including her other two employees in the equation).

    She wanted my advice on what exactly to give the guy.

    I flat-out told her that it’s inappropriate and I couldn’t give advice. She kept pushing for ideas, so I finally said “look, a good gift is appropriate and suits the receiver. Since this isn’t appropriate AT ALL, I have nothing to suggest.”

    She walked off in a huff…

    1. Lily in NYC

      I feel like I’m missing something. What is the big deal if she wants to give someone a gift? She’s leaving so it’s not like it matters… honestly, I think you were a bit rude to her.

      1. LBK

        Giving someone a gift to thank them for giving you a gift is kind of weird. Giving your star performer something to thank them for everything they did for you is one thing, or giving gifts to your whole team, but a thank you gift is odd to begin with and not appropriate for work, I’d say.

      2. Sandy

        She wants to give one team member a big gift but not the other two? After one subordinate went way over the top in gifting her?

        1. Audiophile

          So really she’s only gifting because she feels like she has to? It sounds like she doesn’t want to give a gift at all, but because this guy always gifts, she feels obligated. In that case, I’d still recommend she give all three small gifts, otherwise, you’re correct that it will not end well.

      3. Sandy

        Cut off before I could finish my own comment.

        How on earth can that be expected to end well?

  91. Tau

    Okay, UK people, I’d like it if someone could weigh in on whether this is totally normal and I’m out of touch to be upset about this or what…

    I have a minor surgery coming up that means I’ll have to miss work for over a week. I figured I would be getting this as either paid sick leave or unpaid leave. But – today HR sat down with me and told me that sick leave is only for unplanned things, and since this was a planned appointment it would either be unpaid (okay, can live with that) or – the kicker – I’d have to take it as holiday. They were unable to tell me which as they “didn’t have enough information”.

    I’m just… really upset. This would knock out almost all my holiday allowance, I might not be able to visit friends for New Year, I’d barely be able to make it back to my family over Christmas (not at all if my recovery takes a single day longer than planned!), and of course I was kind of hoping to do something more fun for my holiday than lie in bed hurting a lot! And part of me is just really bitter about this planned/unplanned distinction as it seems to me this actively penalises taking preventive measures.

    So… is this normal for the UK?

    1. Not helpful

      Accidentally replied below
      I don’t know about the UK but this is ridiculous. Sick leave in the US usually covers appointments which are planned (like dentist or annual physical). Just because you knew ahead of time something needed to be down does not mean you’re not sick. Under your HR’s explanation you’d get sick leave for hurting your knee but not for the surgery one month out to fix the problem.

        1. Diddly

          Good point – all surgery is planned unless there is an emergency. This sounds like bull from HR.

      1. Tau

        Yeah, it’s – what will start happening if I don’t get this procedure done will be far more disruptive and probably leave me off sick for much longer in total than if I do. If I don’t get this procedure, they’ll start getting calls that I can’t come in because I collapsed on the way to work and am now in A&E. It’s absurd that, from where I’m standing, I’m being penalised for trying to *prevent* that from happening.

        1. Diddly

          Can’t you get a doctors letter to this effect? Sounds ridiculous, so sorry, doesn’t sound legal to me.

    2. Elkay

      No, not normal. You should be able to get a doctor’s note which is normally enough. Check policies to see what they say. HR are being ridiculous. I had to have all day follow up appointments for 7 years after a procedure, going through 4 employers in that time, none of them ever questioned it or made me take leave.

    3. fposte

      This sounds like they’re confusing “planned” with “elective/optional.” I think they’re not wanting to give sick leave to people getting butt implants (though really who cares?) and they’ve failed at implementation.

    4. Apollo Warbucks

      The short answer is you’re right, your company suck big time for pulling this bullshit. Firstly check your employment contract for anything relevant to sick leave and your right of appeal against the original refusal to grant your sick leave.

      If it is a company sickpay scheme then they almost certianly have it written into the terms and conditions that payment is at your managers discretion so as dumb as they are being they could be within their rights to refuse you paid leave. You can claim SSP (statutory sick pay) which is paid for illnesses over 3 days in length but the rate of pay is really low, if your recovery lasts for 7 days or less you can self certify or get a doctors note for a longer absence.

      I would speak to your GP and ask them to confirm in writing the recovery time and what restrictions it will have on you working (like needing bed rest) then go back to HR and tell them this a bonafide medical issue that needs a short amount of time off and if using the company sickpay scheme isn’t an option you will be claiming SSP but you might like to check with the citizens advice bureau for further information or the directgov website has a lot of information about sick leave.

      But seriously push back on this and escalate the issue to more senior HR people or your manager as what you’ve described is appealing and I’ve never heard of sickpay being turned down for an operation

  92. Jillociraptor

    What are your best tips for starting a new job?

    I’m moving to a pretty different type of workplace (actually very similar work but super fast-paced nonprofit to huge university) and I really want to totally knock it out of the park. How did you get up to speed on the organizational culture, start building really good relationships, and get a sense of what you can contribute in your new job?

    1. Swarley

      – Bring a notebook, take copious amounts of notes. Your manager will love that you don’t want to be the new employee coming into her office every 30 minutes with the same question.
      – Remember that it takes a good amount of time (maybe 6 months) before you start to feel comfortable in your new role. So you won’t absorb everything you need to know in the first week.
      – Ask questions if you’re unsure about something.
      – Introduce yourself to your coworkers (assuming your manager doesn’t bring you around to meet people).
      – Try to keep an open mind about how things are done in your new office. You may have done something that seemed more efficient at your old job and want to offer a new way of doing things, but you might not have the perspective just yet about why something is done in a specific way.

      Good luck!

      1. Jillociraptor

        Thank you! That last one is a really good reminder. As a process creator in my current job, I will definitely need to keep an open mind and really learn the why behind what how things go down.

    2. Nanc

      Thumbs up to everything Swarley said–especially the bit about it taking time before you’re truly comfortable in the new role.
      To add:
      1. If there’s no tour, ask where the bathrooms, office supplies, break/lunch room, etc. are located.
      2. Ask if there are SOPs for your job. If there aren’t, create them as you learn so when you’re promoted your replacement will have that documentation!
      3. If possible, try to take a little walk outside on a break or at lunch, just to clear your head and get some alone time.
      4. For the first couple of weeks, when you get home and have had a chance to relax, write up a little recap of your day, what you learned, what you have questions about, etc. I found this helped me realize how much I had learned and accomplished, which helped get rid of some of the OH MY THIS IS ALL SO NEW anxiety.
      5. If they offer any sort of computer or other office training–take it! Even if it’s not in your job description or current duties, it will give you a chance to get used to how the new company trains, especially if it’s an industry specific training.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes.

      1. Swarley