Friday open thread – September 4, 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 :)

{ 1,249 comments… read them below }

  1. LSP

    How do you guys run/exercise at work in a big city (LA, NY, etc.)?

    I have very specific goals I need to meet (2 mile run under 16 minutes) but I’m having a hard time imagining myself doing this at lunch especially given the city blocks/people/traffic. Right now the sun sets late enough that I run after work, but come November with the time change I know I’ll need to change my routine.

    Thanks AAMers!

    1. Swarley

      Oooh yeah, I definitely wouldn’t rely on running through crowded city streets and sidewalks if you have a target pace you need to maintain.

      Is there a gym within walking/biking distance from your work?
      Is it possible to run before work?

      Worst case scenario: Is there a relatively quiet stretch of path (100 meters at least) where you could run back and forth? Not ideal, but probably more consistent than dodging pedestrians and crosswalks.

    2. RunnerGirl

      Can you run in the mornings? I get my runs in before work (and before my kids wake up)- it really is the only way I can do it with a full-time job and family obligations. But I curse every morning when the alarm goes off!

    3. JM

      We are lucky to have a small workout room for employees with a couple of treadmills, bikes and weight stuff. I use the treadmill a often as possible during lunch (I usually take a late lunch, around 3). Could you use you lunch break to run in the neighborhood around your office?

      1. JuniorMinion

        How close are you to the west side highway esplanade / FDR drive path / Central Park? That’s where I did my outdoor speed work when training for half marathons in New York City. I also went in the mornings before work.

    4. MegEB

      I live in Boston and I typically run/exercise before work. I really hated it at first, since I’ve never been much of a morning person, but I like it now! I feel refreshed and energized for the rest of the day.

      1. the gold digger

        I loved exercising before work (I used to attend a 5:30 a.m. boot camp class run by a former Marine DI) not because I love to exercise (I don’t – I hate it, but I love to eat) but because I got it over with before I could really think about it and dread it and because I got to feel so smug the rest of the day, looking at everyone who had not and would not exercise. (I know being smug is not an attractive quality – I did keep it to myself. I think.)

        1. Kyrielle

          …I really don’t like exercising in the morning and have trouble getting going, but giving myself permission to be silently smug actually might do it. Thank you!

          1. Recent Grad

            I’m a runner, and usually before-work runs are a last resort. I love evening runs in the dark though. (side note: I live in a smallish, relatively safe city. The only real safety concern is cars, and if I throw on a reflective vest, wear a headlamp, and assume people aren’t paying attention, that’s fine. Not sure I’d advise it in a big city.) Good luck!

      2. anonanonanon

        Agreed. I tend to run along the Esplanade in the mornings and I’ve found it’s a nice way to start my day. I’m lucky enough to have a gym about five minutes from work that I can visit if I don’t make my morning run, but I like getting exercising out of the way in the morning so I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.

    5. LSP

      Great suggestions! I think I might have to go the treadmill route since there is a 24 Fitness near by. I know some of you runners out there will feel me, but treadmill running is just not the same. You gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.
      Unfortunately I take the 5:30 am train to work, but I’d love to workout in the morning. I live in a pretty safe area, but if I can get my spouse to run with me at 4 am that just might work too :)
      Anyone do insanely early workouts?

      1. Swarley

        Yes. Treadmill = The Devil

        Just be sure to adjust the incline so your not running on a completely flat surface. I’ll occasionally get up at 4:00am to squeeze in a run, but it has to be a relatively short run. I will echo what others have said up-thread about how great you feel for the rest of the day following a morning run.

      2. Snargulfuss

        I’ve been running before work and I love it, but the days are getting shorter and my runs are now almost entirely in the dark. I hate, hate, hate the thought of going back to the indoor track, but I don’t feel safe running alone in the dark, so I’m going to have to bite the bullet and go back inside soon.

      3. Ditto

        Oh man this is my dilemma too! Trying to train for the Chicago Marathon but leave for work before 6. While I live in an ok neighborhood, I’m not about to risk running in the dark as a single female. Can’t do it at work because the last shuttle to my train leaves around 6pm. Dreadmill it is, I suppose! I have found the P90x dvds really helpful for the days you can’t get out but still need a bit of a workout. :)

        1. Ditto

          Wanted to add that maybe you can check out if there are any running groups by you that train in groups in the evenings. I know Fleet Feet and the Nike running store near me do – even in the dark, winter months. Even if they aren’t doing exactly the plan you need, you’re still keeping your base and could maximize your speed training in the daylight hours you have on the weekends.

          1. Rebecca

            I agree, definitely look for a group! There is safety in numbers, plus they usually already have some routes mapped out for you.

          2. I'll think of something later

            Seconding running groups! There you can find people to run with all year/weather/lighting, all paces, and people who will talk to you about running without saying, gross, I hate running. You’ll probably also find that it’s easier to run faster/farther when you have people to run with and maybe find people with similar goals as you.

      4. RunnerGirl

        Once or twice a week, I get up at 4 or 4:30am for speed workouts. It requires me to be super organized (getting clothes, food, etc. ready the night before) which does not come to me naturally! When the weather is bad, I’ll do a high-intensity circuit training in my living with lots of jumps squats (which I love and hate simultaneously). Once a week I go into work later (and finish later) so I can get a mid-distance run in before work. (Long runs on weekends.) I avoid the treadmill at all costs, but like you said, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!

      5. nep

        Indeed treadmill running hugely different from outdoors. (Wouldn’t say it’s ‘the devil’, however — I don’t feel *that* strongly about it.) You could see whether any nearby gyms have the Trueform Runner. I’ve not used one but apparently the action more closely simulates road or trail running.
        Anyone here have experience w the Trueform?

    6. Today's anon

      I usually run in he morning but if I can’t, I will run to one of the sides by the river and then do my main run there. It acts as a warm up of sorts.

    7. CheeryO

      At the risk of getting way off topic, it’s actually best if you do most of your runs at an easy pace and save the speed workouts for once or twice per week, max. That way you can recover fully between hard workouts. (Most people do their fast running too slow because they also do their slow running too fast.) So what I would do is do an easy run at lunch 2-3 times per week and save the speedwork for the weekend or the dreadmill. Maybe stick to main arterials so you don’t get caught at every light. (I live in a small city, so I don’t know if running at lunch is truly feasible for you or not, but I think it’s worth a try.)

    8. Anon369

      If you have strip malls, you might be able to run laps there in the evening. Parking lots are always lit. Common sense caveats apply.

    9. Elizabeth West

      I don’t run; I walk. Usually outside in my neighborhood after work, but I’m lucky that we have a parks and recreation gym right next door to my office. So in the winter, when it’s dark and cold out after work, I pop over there and do my walk before I go home. Plus I climb stairs in the building twice a day–three floors, six times.

    10. Honeybee

      When I lived in New York and it got dark early, I ran in the mornings right as the sun was rising. Easier to run in the parks.

      Is your job nearby a park, maybe?

  2. JP

    My husband is on his way to job offers with two companies (one has specifically said, “HR is currently working on putting together an offer”), and he’s thrilled. I, on the other hand, have “you don’t have an offer until you have an offer” drilled into my head thanks to AAM. He’s mad at me because I’m “being negative”. I don’t know how else to tamp his hopes without coming across as a jerk.

    1. The IT Manager

      I think he can be excited. “you don’t have an offer until you have an offer” is more about not burning bridges – quitting, cancelling other interviews, and stopping the job hunt – before he has that offer in hand. You can both be thrilled and excited about what’s coming.

      1. BRR

        Exactly. It’s keep hunting, don’t quit, don’t cancel interviews, don’t’ slash your boss’ tires. You can be excited about “HR is currently working on putting together an offer,” although I’d still be a Debbie downer that it might not be a good offer (I’d probably not tell him that though).

      2. Lucy

        Totally agree! I would try to do something fun over the weekend (brunch, a hike, whatever) to get him out of his head a little bit!

    2. Lizzie's Patronus

      Good luck to him. I’m the job seeker here and my husband tries to be super positive… It can be a little too much for me at times. When I try to just be realistic he also feels I’m being negative. Not sure how to address that. We’ve talked about it. I notice my husband just leaves me be now. He gets I don’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed. He always wishes me luck of course but he’s toned it down. Maybe you can explain that’s where you are coming from, just not wanting to see him set himself up for a (possible) disappointment later? If not maybe just let him be, maybe he needs to get all excited and that’s just what works for him.

    3. asteramella

      Jerk is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t it’s too negative to say “If this job offer comes through with X, Y, and Z conditions you’re looking for, what would be super exciting!” But coming off the high of a good interview experience, he might experience that as an unpleasant bump back to earth.

    4. fposte

      Why do you have to tamp his hopes? It’s pretty likely he’ll get an offer, and if he doesn’t, he’ll be disappointed but will get over it.

      I mean, I get the logic of your approach, but it seems to me that you’re doing the thing of disappointing a loved one for fear of a loved one being disappointed. Unless he’s making financial or life commitments in anticipation of this, I’d say let it go.

    5. WLE

      The job hunt can be really stressful and frustrating. For most, there’s a lot of rejection. It sounds like he got a bit of good news and was just wanting a moment to celebrate, even if it wasn’t the actual offer yet. I would be happy for him. This sounds promising.

    6. AnonAcademic

      I am in the same situation! My husband just had two very good interviews and keeps talking like the offers are inevitable. I keep telling him, “yes wouldn’t that be a great best case scenario if they both come through! Have you thought about if only one comes through?” I don’t have the heart to remind him that NEITHER place might offer, that seems too Negative Nancy. But I do worry how crushed he’ll be if that happens.

    7. Lady Bug

      I’m the opposite with my spouse. I’m all how could they not love you, you’re amazing, they are jerks if they pass you up, I’d have made an offer on the spot. I mean its your spouse, you are supposed to be unrealistically supportive of each other. The rest of the world is there to bring you down, bring each other up.

      1. JP

        I’m not telling him he’s a horrible person, I have just read too many stories of the CEO’s son’s cousin needing a job and a sure thing suddenly disappears. I’m being cautiously optimistic.

        1. Lady Bug

          I didn’t mean to imply you were being horrible! My husband always refers to himself as my cheerleader. We all need one of those, no caution.

          Congrats on getting the offer letter!

    8. Observer

      Why do you need to tamp down in his hopes? As long as he’s not doing anything stupid or major based on an offer that has not come through, let him hope.

    9. JP

      Apparently all he needed was for me to post this because company #1 just sent him his offer letter. Relief!!

    10. Artemesia

      My husband was given an oral offer that was then not completed because of one member of the firm who disagreed and hadn’t been consulted. We found this out when we arrived at a party given for the firm to which we had been invited and people didn’t meet our gaze. I immediately knew what had happened, but he didn’t realize it was over until the partner who had made the offer took him aside. Most horrible social experience every.

      Stuff happens. But no point tamping his hopes; the most I would do is encourage him to wait and see what the other offer looks like when it comes through/if it comes through. He will learn this ugly lesson without his wife dashing his hopes. And maybe he will have two fat offers.

  3. Jenn Po

    Calling engineers! I’m an editor at an engineering education magazine. I’m working on an article about engineering women (especially in academia, but not necessarily limited to that field) who have been interested in entrepreneurship, but haven’t entered it for whatever reason.

    My article is inspired by this quote from an Ohio State study called Academic Women: Overlooked Entrepreneurs: “Faculty, particularly those in the basic sciences, have chosen academia over other career paths (especially industry). A strong prejudice against business thinking prevails, which produces a parallel distaste for commercialization—the ‘ick’ factor. One faculty member even described venture capital funding as ‘dirty money.’” They used a fairly small sample size and didn’t focus solely on engineers, who are more open to entrepreneurship, but still sometimes deterred.

    It does jibe with other national data I’m seeing: 95% of angel funding goes to white men, while less than 1% of funding goes to non-Asian minorities; women-owned businesses are more likely to be started with personal capital, and many of them are started with $5,000 or less (and are smaller, but more successful long-term), whereas the average start-up funding for men is $30,000. Interestingly, 41% of women-owned businesses who apply for funding get it, but they only receive 5% of the overall available funds.

    There is plenty of speculation about the traits that make for successful entrepreneurs—including the discredited “entrepreneurial gene”—but I’m wondering about this side of risk aversion that we rarely hear about: that there might be a built-in moral imperative stopping people from getting into entrepreneurship or borrowing money.
    I’m looking for people who have any experience with this at all who might be interested in speaking with me. This has proven to be a difficult article to research because I’m trying to find stories from people who exist, but aren’t often talked about: Highly intelligent, driven people who DIDN’T accomplish something because they found the standard methods of entering the practice to be inherently objectionable. I believe that AAM readers are the most thoughtful, diverse group of people on the Internet, so I thought that some of you might have experience with this–or know people who do. Please either comment or reach out to me directly: my email is attached to my username.

    TL;DR: Journalist looking for women engineers who didn’t get into entrepreneurship because Venture Capital, Angel Investors, businesspeople are shady. Please comment or message me with your story! (Email in username)

    1. TWIG

      I have nothing for you, unfortunately, but your topic fascinates me. I hope that you get some helpful replies.

    2. the gold digger

      . A strong prejudice against business thinking prevails, which produces a parallel distaste for commercialization—the ‘ick’ factor.

      This is fascinating to me. What is the point of doing research that nobody will ever use? Even medical research eventually leads to someone paying for a device, a drug, or a procedure. There is a place for pure research, but even that becomes the foundation for other research that leads to commercialization, doesn’t it?

      I work in the R&D group of an engineering company and all we want to do is invent new stuff and commercialize it! Research for research’s sake generates no money and no jobs in the private sector.

      1. mull

        “I’m working on an article about engineering women….”

        Watch Weird Science and The Bride of Frankenstein.

      2. STEM Lady

        I’ve seen that attitude a lot! I currently work in biotech and while not an engineer specifically, do have a strong STEM background. When I left my lab to go work in business, my PI and labmates gave me lots of grief about “selling out” and becoming a “business person” (said in the most distasteful manner possible).
        Heck, even my current boss (a former academic) talks about businessmen like the word leaves a bad taste in his mouth. Sorry to break it to you, but owning a biotech business for 20 years means you’re in business!
        I think there’s a certain mindset that values discovery for the sake of learning new things, and once you attach dollar signs to that discovery it becomes distasteful to academics.
        This is a really interesting post – looking forward to seeing more comments.

        1. Not So NewReader

          To me there’s an even bigger picture that is more disturbing. There is a general, low level (?) contempt for various professions. Lawyers, contractors, doctors, the list goes on. There are many “dirty” words out there, it just depends on who is talking. Most of it comes from stereotyping or from negative stories about a few rotten apples. I am alarmed by our (society’s) willingness to stereotype and to repeat negative stories that in effect bring down entire groups of workers.

          While I can see that academics might not always be happy with business people, I see this as part of a larger problem. I grew up on the tail end of an era where doctors, lawyers* and many others were respected and you could see the respect. I don’t see that so much any more.

          *I keep saying doctors and lawyers, because those are easy to grab examples. But I see other groups of professionals getting chopped, also.

          1. Artemesia

            Try being a teacher. I really fear for that profession with the ugliness heaped on their heads. Most of them work long hours for modest pay and have horrifying working conditions and frustrating micromanagement.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Yep, that is another group of people who all get painted with the same brush. It’s disturbing to watch this trend.

      3. Tau

        I have a STEM PhD and come from a STEM-academic family. The attitude described is like an old, old friend. I like to think I’ve combated my own case of it, especially since I “sold out” myself. (My mother joked that I was exploring new and uncharted territory as the first person in the family to go into industry.)

        Although… I think part of it is the worry that attaching dollar signs to learning new things for the sake of learning new things can lead to those areas of discovery that directly lead to dollar signs being prioritised and the ones which are worthwhile but not foreseeably monetisable getting short shrift. Pure research can lead to commercialisation down the line, sure, but the path from research to dollar signs can be twisty, indirect, occasionally leading to dead ends, take a long time and generally be something where it’s easy for external people to say “psht, your research is useless”. So people working in those areas can get quite defensive.

        As an example of what I’m talking about… a few years ago the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which is the big government funding body for research in those areas in the UK, announced that this year all of its funding for postdoc positions in maths and stats would go to the areas of statistics and applied probability, since those were the areas with direct business impact. I don’t know what came of it directly, but I remember that the uproar among mathematicians was tremendous, and it was born out of this short-sighted focus on immediate applications vs the long-term impacts of foundational research.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I am seeing a parallel dislike for long term investments when it comes to the question of investing in infrastructure. We could be talking about state or local levels. If it’s not big, obviously new and shiny, people are not interested. Our roads here are getting worse every year. I see power poles leaning at very bad angles. Then there’s water systems, sewer and storm drain systems, etc. It’s a hot mess. Ugh.
          I think it is something in the nature of human beings, we do not like things that are a long term investment or that take a long time to develop into something.

        2. Alicia

          I have a STEM PhD and straddle the industry/academia line where I do applied research specifically for an industrial partner. I also do fundamental research. Where’s the majority of the funding opportunities in Canada of late? Applied science leading to commercialization, and industry/academic partnerships. I basically act as a consultant to companies and get to charge some extra overhead to slush my pure research account.

        3. Honeybee

          I agree with this and I was going to say something very similar. I think a lot of academics work on important basic/theoretical research that will eventually become the foundation for applied research and research that has direct applications. After all, Isaac Newton et al. had to develop calculus before we could get statistics.

          However, I think that academics should do a better job articulating that, too. A lot of academics get offended at the very idea that their existence should be justified rather than thinking of creative ways to explain their worth and value to short-sighted administrators and investors.

    3. Weekday Warrior

      For a no holds barred perspective from young women entrepreneurs, you might want to get in touch with Jen Dzuira of Get Bullish .

    4. AnotherFed

      This female engineer picked federal service in part because of the service aspect. It’s not that industry or entrepreneurs are evil, bad, or morally lacking, it’s just that I wanted to do something good for the country more than I wanted to do something that might make me very rich.

    5. Kate F

      I am an OSU 2012 industrial engineering grad with a minor in entrepreneurship and you’re right I am distinctly avoiding starting a business at least during the initial 20 years or so of my career even though it’s been a dream of mine and I would love to talk to you about why! Please feel free to contact me at admkatfish@gmail.com

    6. Not Quite an Engineer

      I have an engineering degree, but have not worked in the field. I had thought initially to enter academia, but one year of a PhD program convinced me that I did not want to work in this insular, grant-seeking environment. I am very happy working with data, and partly went into it because of the collaborative, low-key way the field is structured, and skills reign over politics. My long term (in a decade) goal is to start my own data science consultancy, serving engineering companies. I may be outside of your target research group, but I am interested in the topic, so if I can be of help you can reach me at Natalya.Polishchuk@gmail.com.

    7. Honeybee

      I’m not an engineer, but I do agree with the idea that there’s a strong basic prejudice against any kind of business thinking, whether that’s starting your own business as a former academic/PhD holder, or applying the principles of business and finance to academic work and career choices. A lot of academics seem simply SHOCKED, I tell you, that their applications for grant funding are weighed against financial concerns of the funding agency and that agency’s priorities and needs, and seem to be upset by the very idea that we should have to justify the research work that we do. Our brilliance should be immediately recognized and our work should be funded simply for the sake of SCIENCE!

      So I think that does play into why some scientists don’t want to pursue angel investors or venture capitalists. Many of them don’t like the idea that they have to talk about their science in terms of how it might make money.

  4. Ops Analyst

    My office is having a bathroom cleanliness issue. Without going into too much horrifying detail I will simply say that there is a “feces situation”.

    I’m in an office park and our floor is shared by 2 other companies. One office is vacant almost constantly and the other is pretty large and takes up about 2/3 of the floor. My office is mostly men and there are only 3 women here on a regular basis and we are 99% sure it’s none of us (at least I’m 100% sure it isn’t me). So that leaves only one other company that has the problem employees. These people seem to be largely unfazed by the issue. I have literally heard one person say to another upon entering the bathroom “don’t use that stall”, followed by the other person looking in the stall and saying “oh” in the most cavalier tone ever, then moving on to a new conversation while standing in the filthy, smelly bathroom completely unbothered. What was in “that stall” is pretty much exactly what you would imagine based on the description “feces situation”. I find this nonchalant reaction just…odd. My reaction was “What the hell is wrong with people?!?!?!” followed by gagging noises and immediately talking to my coworkers about it and sending an email off to our offsite facilities guy.

    This is not the first time I’ve complained to him and this been passed on to the building manager on our behalf. No one else in the building seems to be complaining about the problem, which is also…odd. Nothing has been done beyond sending an email to the other office. I don’t think the building manager fully understood how bad it was so yesterday I sent off some photos and today signs about respecting other employees and cleaning up after yourself have been plastered all over the bathroom. (Part of me feels like these guys are going to think I’m the employee who keeps complaining, but then I think about how unacceptable this is. )

    I’m just not sure what else can be done. I’m not convinced that the issue is going to go away simply because a couple of signs have been posted. If this continues to be a problem, what can we do to get it to stop? How do we deal with the problem when it is a totally different company responsible?

    1. The IT Manager

      I don’t want to be gross, but to be clear is this a problem that can be fixed with a flush or does there need to be extensive cleaning?

    2. UKAnon

      Well, firstly, I sort of wish I hadn’t read that. But I really do feel your pain! When I was undergrad there was always one set of toilets that you Didn’t Go Into. Floors, walls, doors, nothing was immune. Are there any other toilets you can use? Hopefully the offender(s) will stick to one location. Otherwise, might it be worth looking into H&S laws for your area? It sounds like it might cause problems, which you could use to prod your building management into doing more. Is there also somebody at the other company you’d be comfortable asking to do a round email telling people to STOP with the disgusting please?

      1. Ops Analyst

        I think the building manager might genuinely be as horrified as I am. I also think he has no idea what to do about it. I don’t know anyone in the other office at all.

        1. The IT Manager

          Uggg!

          My best suggestion either you or the person in your office whose job it is it to handle the interactions with the building manager, tell him that something needs to be done to stop this. This something would be building manager talking to reps from each company who rents about the problem and their HR talking to possible offenders (women). Maybe there’s a medical condition; I hope so. Also worth looking into if someone could be sneaking in the building or onto the floor. Basically this isn’t your job to fix and it sucks that the building manager has to do this at all but it falls under his responsibility.

          1. Ops Analyst

            I’ve done pretty much exactly that, short of suggesting HR at the other company talk to possible offenders. I also considered a medical condition. Who knows?

            I don’t think anyone is sneaking in because the building is secure. We have to use badges to enter the building and our offices.

        2. UKAnon

          Any chance you could quietly suggest to him that he might be able to charge companies a fine for extra maintenance required? The threat of financial penalties might make someone investigate further.

          (I would also be investing in one of the many devices which seem to be available for opening doors without touching them, and have anti-bac handy, because eww)

          1. Ops Analyst

            I have asked them to provide Clorox wipes. I’m not sure I can suggest a fine. I don’t know how they would know who is paying it.

    3. Trix

      Not to be too detailed here but is the stall/seat/floor/wall dirted? Or does the toilet just need to be flushed?

    4. Ops Analyst

      There was a flushing issue that started a few months ago. The auto flush stopped working and no one would manually flush for some reason. I’ve also heard that a few years ago there was a problem with the toilets backing up and flooding the floor and dripping down to the floor below us so they thought maybe people were a bit gun shy about flushing. But the bathroom wasn’t great before that. The real problems seem to have started around the same time though and it has gone downhill from there.

      1. E

        Would this not be an OSHA or even city health ordinance violation? Ugh, that’s nasty that this would be allowed to flood the floor and drip down to the floor below.

        1. Ops Analyst

          To be clear, I’m not sure that the incident a few years ago was mishandled. I wasn’t here. I think it may have backed up and overflowed unexpectedly and then it was cleaned up as quickly as possible.

    5. Retail Lifer

      This won’t help you at all, but I can sympathize. We have an employees-only restroom and that toilet is, uh, less than optimal for #2. It seems to clog any time #2 happens there, and sometimes it overflows. Our maintenance guys come and plunge it, which works for a day or two, three if we’re lucky, but then the clogging and overflow happens again. Some real work neesds to be done there, but no one will pay for it, so I resorted to making a sign that said “#1 only, please. Thanks, Management.” (We have public restrooms near by so it’s not as bad as it sounds.)

      It didn’t work. It was clogged this morning.

    6. fposte

      My impression is that when somebody’s leaving a stall in that condition, it’s a statement, so I agree that the notes aren’t likely to do anything except maybe encourage more of the behavior. (You’re saying that this has happened more than once, right?)

      I would set aside the “unfazed” thing because it wouldn’t stop any faster if that office was fazed, and I also don’t think you’ve given any logical reason for the belief that it’s not one of your office mates, so it would be a particularly bad plan to approach the other office as if it had to be one of them.

      Two things I might do to start with: explore the possibility of a lock on a bathroom door, and find a counterpart in the other office who’s willing to coordinate with you on efforts here. But this is a really tough thing to solve, and if you look through the AAM archives you’ll see other people talking about it occasionally.

      1. BRR

        I don’t know if it’s always a statement. I’ve met people who think, “it’s not mine so I don’t care.”

        No matter the reason this has been an unsolvable problem if memory serves me right. The person needs to leave or you need to start spiking the water with Imodium.

        1. fposte

          I think it depends on what Ops Analyst was delicately being vague about. But in general, if you’re getting stuff on the walls, you’re putting in effort, not just not caring.

          1. Merry and Bright

            Exactly this. I’m not a doctor but I can’t imagine a physical condition that would spread The Brown Stuff around like this. I’ve seen messy and unflushed office toilets enough not to be surprised anymore, but this must be deliberate somehow.

            1. Not So NewReader

              An intestinal virus can do this. BUT. The person would look pale and weak, perhaps even shake a little bit because of being weak. The person might appear to have suddenly lost weight.

      2. Ops Analyst

        You’re right, it could be one of my offices mates. Though, I doubt it. I work right next to one and yesterday she hadn’t even gone to the bathroom when this happened. The other is my manager. I don’t know when she uses the bathroom but yesterday she was out of the office most of the day.

        The unfazed this was just more of me being surprised that the other office doesn’t seem to care, nor are they complaining about the problem. That doesn’t mean they know who is doing it. I just thought it strange.

        1. Not So NewReader

          If you keep a written chart documenting similar to what you have here then you might be able to logically deduce who it is. But that will take time.

      3. Not So NewReader

        I agree with fposte in regards to putting a lock on the door. I also think that broad announcements by the manager/big bosses would also help. It’s vandalizing company property so I don’t see a big problem with firing such a person. The big bosses could announce that this is unacceptable behavior and anyone with information regarding the problem should feel free to step forward. Then add, the offender will be fired.

        But-but-but. I know, there is a lot of what-if’s here and a lot of “but you can’t because ____.”
        If the managers do not drag this out into the light of day, it will never be resolved. I am in favor of confronting it head on even if it means a good bluff. The main goal is to get the behavior to stop. Putting out for open discussion, asking everyone to help figure out what is going on and letting everyone know that if caught they can expect to be fired, are the type of things to do that should change the situation.
        It’s a totally unacceptable act and I think it requires a sledge hammer type reaction, coming from TPTB. Hiding it, whispering about it, etc, is just going to allow the problem to keep happening. You, OP, may have to be that lone voice in the wilderness that says, “This is not acceptable” in order to make those changes start rolling. Just keep saying it.

        1. Ops Analyst

          Yup. I intend to do that. I told the facilities guy in no uncertain terms that it must be resolved. Our company can’t fire anyone though unless its someone in my company and I REALLY don’t think it is. I’m not exaggerating when I say there are only 3 of us. I work closely with one coworker and I know when she goes to the bathroom, which is not often. And the other is my manager who was barely in the office yesterday. Also talking to my manager today, there has apparently been a cleanliness issue for years. My coworker and I both started 5 months ago so they can pretty much rule us out. I’m not 100% sure it’s not my manager since I don’t watch her every move but I’m close to it.

          I will keep pushing my company to handle it. We are a small satellite office but a big global company and I don’t think they will actively ignore employees working conditions. but they will have to work with the building manager to solve it. If indeed it is the other office they won’t have any say as to how they handle it.

          I suppose it would make sense for my company to make some sledgehammer remarks to our office just in case. But I don’t think it will solve the problem since I’m pretty sure it’s not us.

        2. Artemesia

          Ridiculous as it seems, I would be instituting a key system so that someone had to sign out a key to use the restroom and the building manager could do spot checks to narrow down who had the key when the problem occurs. This is infantile, but then so is crap on the walls. If there is only one restroom obviously you can’t separate by business. It would be great if each office had an assigned restroom and keys.

    7. BRR

      Ha maybe send a picture to the building manager.

      But really is there anything in your agreement about the state the bathrooms need to be kept in? Can you use another floor?

      1. Ops Analyst

        There is only one other bathroom in the building I can use that is on another floor. It’s not the end of the world to have to do that, and I do. But it also eats up a lot of my time. I can’t take the stairs and we work at the back of the office. The elevator is at the front and it is slooooow. So it’s 10 minutes just to go to the bathroom every time I have to go.

    8. InterviewFreeZone

      This happened in my old job and it went on for YEARS. We referred to it as “Code Brown”.

      I think what finally put a stop to it was all the talk. We started talking about it more openly with a larger group of people so the culprit knew that everyone was aware. For us, it was pretty crazy because we moved floors several times and it was different departments that got switched around so our list of suspects got pretty narrow as people resigned over that time period and as the people with access to each bathroom changed. After our final move, there was one incident and then it stopped completely. I think the person realized we knew her identity.

      1. Kelly L.

        How, how, how did she manage to make that much of a mess in the stall and none on her person? I mean, I believe you, I just have no idea what contortions she’d have to do to fling poo everywhere and still come out unscathed enough that no one knew it was her.

        1. InterviewFreeZone

          I have no idea. I always assumed that this person had a mental problem and was doing it on purpose. She ranged from the level of nasty described by the person above (wall, toilet, floor) to leave uhhh mounds in the middle of the floor and nothing else. Sometimes just on the seat. Also during this time period, she wore really unusual clothes. Like Carthart work pants in a dark color and a tshirt of the same color and boots. This was a business casual office environment. I could see how a mess of that kind could be concealed in that attire. After the code browns stopped, her wardrobe seemed to change pretty quickly.

            1. RVA Cat

              …but, but…what about the SMELL?!?

              This reminds me of a situation with another dept. on our floor a few years ago. It never got quite “code brown” bad, but what was almost worse is that somebody had an ummm medical issue of the fishy-smelling, possible STD variety and left her nasty underwear on the floor of the stall. Many months and passive-aggressive notes later, that dept. finally moved to another floor. But the day before, somebody left a “parting gift” in the form of feces deliberately smeared on the door handles of all the stalls.

              The cleaning lady really should have gotten hazard pay….

          1. RVA Cat

            p.s. Phrasing it really makes me wish it was Mounds, the candy bar, sort of like the Baby Ruth in Caddyshack.

          2. Not So NewReader

            There is a diagnosis for people who do this on a regular basis. But I have forgotten what the term is.

        2. Ops Analyst

          I have been wondering pretty much exactly this. I don’t know how this person is going back to work without it being incredibly obvious. Yesterday it was tracked around the floor. It must have been on her shoes.

    9. Rachel

      Yuck yuck yuck!

      I’ve worked at a couple places where some people left the stalls in less than sanitary conditions – though not quite as bad as you describe! It always boggled my mind that people got to adulthood without grasping the concept of basic bathroom etiquette.

    10. Erin

      I can’t believe you *took photos* – I suppose that alone speaks volumes.

      I agree with the commenter that this falls on the building manager. Maybe send him daily updated photos.

      I mean I hate to advise annoying and grossing someone out as a means to get something done, but my God. I think “desperate times call for desperate measures” applies here.

      1. Ops Analyst

        LOL I actually apologized to our facilities guy because I sent pics. But I did it because I thought the building manager assumed we were complaining about toilet paper scraps and a stray pube here and there, or just some sprinkles.

    11. RoseTyler

      So you have a…shituation? :/

      Depending on your position/leverage I would ask the building owner to put a lock on the door, and let them know that you consider ongoing unchecked problems of this nature to be a violation of your lease (which presumably includes a requirement that they maintain the bathrooms).

      I would stop with the signs though. The person/people they are directed at don’t care, aned everyone else agrees with you.

      1. Ops Analyst

        Good point about the signs. I didn’t think of that. But I didn’t put them up, the building manager did. I have no authority to even suggest that we would terminate the lease.

      2. Effective Immediately

        You said you have a secure building, does that include a swipe card or badge system? It would be somewhat expensive, but if you did, you could add a reader to the bathroom doors.

        I know that’s a bit Big Brother, but I am otherwise at a loss here.

    12. Ops Analyst

      Slight update to this. Today there was more poo on the toilet despite the signs. Somehow talk of this is making its way around the office. One of the guys in my office said something about the ladies room having soiled underwear in it. That is not something I have seen, but I wonder if there actually IS someone else complaining because I did not mention it to anyone other than my manager and coworker and the guys aren’t stationed near us to hear the convo. Plus soiled underwear never came up.

      1. InterviewFreeZone

        Oh boy. “Soiled” underwear…that’s an upgrade to this situation. Is there anyone that you know of there that is having health problems? For the longest time, our “code brown” situations just got cleaned up and people were quiet about them because we had a wonderful woman who was dealing with cancer on top of another very serious health issue and we thought it may have been her.

        1. Ops Analyst

          Nobody in my office has a medical issue that has been discussed with me. It’s possible I suppose. I have no idea about the other office. I really know nothing about the other office at all except for their name and what a few random employees look like.

          1. Artemesia

            But if you had a ‘medical issues’ like this wouldn’t you be hyper about cleaning up after yourself? This is not ;medical except perhaps mental health medical. This is an aggressive act and not that uncommon of one. It is being done to hurt people and or the business..

  5. Vanishing Girl

    How much of your resume should you put on LinkedIn? I am using Alison’s tips for writing my resume and it looks so much better than before! But I am not sure how much of this new text I should use to replace my old text on LinkedIn. Should LinkedIn job descriptions be as long as those on my resume, or should they be shorter (like one sentence or bullet point)?

    1. Sascha

      I think shorter bullet points are better for LinkedIn, but that’s just my preference. I’m more “scanny” with LinkedIn than I am with a real resume. Probably because if I’m looking at a resume, I usually receive it via a job application, and I’m more seriously considering that candidate, as opposed to browsing LinkedIn.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        Thanks! I am thinking if someone looks up my profile after getting my resume, so shorter probably is better.

    2. Ad Astra

      I actually have slightly more information on my LinkedIn than I do on my resume because there are no space constraints, but I still stick to bullet points and concise language. My normal resume doesn’t have room for stuff like courses and volunteer work, but I have filled those fields in on LinkedIn because many people in my line of work like to know everything about everyone.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        Thanks! I have volunteer work and some more information about courses I took in grad school on there as well. I am definitely going to cut down my work experience blurbs.

  6. TGIF

    So, my new hire hopefully starts on 09/21; she’s coming from another department. I was hoping for a start date of 09/14 (two weeks from date of acceptance), but the other department needs some coverage (they have two open positions). The other department manager emailed and said he wanted to keep her until 10/03 (five weeks)! I compromised and said three weeks, and that he could use her a few days a week or several hours a day until 10/03. I think that’s pretty reasonable. If she were going to another company, he’d only have her for two weeks and he’d have to deal with it. I ended the email saying to let me know what works best for him. No answer and it has been four days. Not a very long time, but I think four days is enough time to reply. I get the feeling he’s ticked that he didn’t get his way, although from what I know of him I don’t really have reason to believe he’s a petty person. Am I reading too much into this?

    1. KT

      Internal transfers always need more time than an external hire, in my experience. Instead of just 2 weeks (which even with external hires is a bit short, as most higher level employees would want to give their employer more notice as a courtesy), the company needs business to continue on, which often means longer notice periods or half duty, where the new hire does some of each job 50% of the time.

      I wouldn’t assume he’s ticked. I’m sure he’s busy and has 1000 emails…why not follow up with another email, or better yet, walk over and have a real conversation?

    2. Sascha

      Or he could be waiting on the input of other people? That sucks for the new hire, though. I would be really annoyed if my former manager kept pushing back my start date.

    3. WLE

      I prefer dealing with these types of things face to face or over the phone. It’s too easy for things to be misunderstood via email. It’s very possible that he’s not ignoring you, and he just hasn’t responded because of the holiday weekend. Is it possible to have a face to face with him and discuss it? Then there will be no questions about what is going to happen and no bad blood. If he’s in the office on Tuesday, I’d just tap on his door sometime mid-afternoon and say something to the affect of “Do you have a moment to chat about transitioning X to my department? I know there was some concern about coverage. Did you have time to review the email that I sent last week?”

    4. CollegeAdmin

      Not necessarily an answer for you, but have you talked to your new hire at all about all this? I just went through the same mess when I switched departments at my work, and quite frankly, I was left feeling like chattel. Key phrases I’m seeing here are, “he wanted to keep her,” “he could use her,” etc. that make me worry that your new hire may be feeling the same way.

      Also, if anyone had asked me, I did not want to stay in my current department one minute longer than I had to, and I resented the fact that my old and new bosses had worked out this weird timeshare arrangement. I had jumped at the new position for a reason – I wanted out of that old office.

      1. TGIF

        I mentioned to her that her tentative start date is 09/21 and that ex-manager may need her to cover periodically for an additional two weeks, but that I’d let her know for sure. She understands that they’re shorthanded in her current department and seems OK with it.

    5. fposte

      I would really try to resist the negative mind-reading trap here where you preemptively decide he’s angry; it doesn’t get you anything and may make you turn the situation sour yourself. I agree with WLE on the followup.

    6. Ann Furthermore

      My advice is to stand firm on the 10/3 date. I hired a temp in another area into my group a few years ago, and told the manager that she could help out here and there when it was needed. They completely sucked up her time to the point that she was unable to focus on her new job duties. I had to lay the smackdown and tell the manager that his team needed to stop coming to her for every little thing. It was very frustrating for her, and for me.

      1. TGIF

        I’m afraid of that, but I have the backing of my boss who will definitely put his foot down if necessary. He predicted the other manager would say he needs more time and he was right; however, I didn’t expect the manager would want FIVE weeks.

    7. Sammie

      I was a pawn in the internal transfer game. I was doing both jobs for SIX MONTHS. The only way it stopped was that my CEO got wind of it and told old-boss that she just needed to deal.

      PS Her immediate response was bursting into tears.

      PPS I was told this by a witness (not the CEO).

  7. BRR

    I have a couple questions this week:
    -I have an interview coming up and I was wondering if it’s appropriate to ask about budget? The role would involve some services with annual subscription fees and it is very important what the budget is as it would impact my ability to do the job.
    -So my last day is in three weeks (being fired if it matters), I work at a university and have acquired a moderate amount of swag. What is the professional approach? Take it all with? Leave some? Depends on the item? I have things ranging from a university umbrella to a stationary set and a book about the school’s history. I really don’t want to see the stuff as it doesn’t have great memories but I know it might be better to just smile and take it and throw it away at home.
    -How do you handle being fired in the middle of a hiring process? I have 3 weeks left and some interviews between now and then. It’s a possibility I’ll interview while still an employee but by the time a background check or reference check happens I will have been let go. Also, how common is it to want to speak to your current manager/employer? I’m really at a loss with this one.

    Thanks everybody!

    1. The IT Manager

      Leave the swag you don’t want that can be used by others. Not clothing, but the other stuff. I think leaving the items you listed makes sense as new person might be able to make use of the book and stationary. And an emergency umbrella in the office isn’t a bad thing. Or maybe you can place it with office supplies or in common area for if your co-workers want / need it.

      1. BRR

        Thanks! I don’t want to seem ungrateful but I also don’t want some of this stuff/it might be a nice welcome for my replacement.

        1. Not So NewReader

          FWIW, I have brought home tons of stuff and just thrown it out. The one time I did not was when I knew the item was a new and coveted item. I had just received it and others would be able to use it. I placed the item, neatly, on the boss’ desk.

          Don’t beat yourself up over what to do, just do what seems to be the right thing to do and let it go. I tossed stuff because passing it out would have been a disruption.

    2. WLE

      For your last question, I would find a reasonable sounding answer as to why you left and rehearse this several times, so you’re comfortable explaining it during an interview. I didn’t leave my last job on the best terms. Some of the reasons were complicated. However, one of the reasons was because I was working upwards of 65 hours per week, including nights, weekends, and even on my vacation. I explained that I left to pursue a position that would offer a better work/life balance. It can be tricky since you say you’ll be there for another 3 weeks. However, I don’t think you want this coming up further along in the interview process as a “surprise.”

      1. BRR

        That’s a good point. Up until this point my answers have been as if I would be still employed indefinitely and explaining why I’m interested in the position I’m applying for. I’ve got some serious thinking to do on this one.

    3. MoinMoin

      When I was fired I had seen it coming and had a big drawer that I’d stuck all the swag I didn’t want, so I left it. But I realized when I left that I was wearing a company hoodie. I remembered seeing a diy dog toy for dogs that like to pull the stuffing out of toys that includes an open-netting type ball that you stuff with strips of fabric, so I drove straight from former job to the pet store to pick up a ball, then went home and enjoyed cutting up the sweatshirt. I have other stuff I kept, like nice pens, but in general I just left it for whoever wanted it. Since you’re being given a few weeks of working there after knowing you’ll be fired, they obviously think your leaving will be on good terms, so whether or not that’s true you may as well keep up the illusion and leave stuff you don’t want. Unless there’s something in there you’d like to cathartically destroy. Take that.

        1. GoldfishObituary

          Thank you! Dissecting stuffed toys is my dachshund’s favorite hobby! I’ll give this a try!

    4. PB

      I’ve asked about budget in interviews before, for the same reason, too low of a budget can really hurt your chances of accomplishing the goals they are hoping to accomplish by hiring you. I felt the question was well received provided it was phrased under that premise. However, I didn’t get the job, but I don’t think asking was the reason.

      1. BRR

        90 PIP and at the 60 days check in it was determined it won’t end successfully. I’m allowed to work the last 30 days.

        1. Anoning it Up

          I’m in a less severe but similar situation (which I’m asking for advice for below!), and just can’t figure out how to work these last howevermany days. I want to keep working and getting paid, but I just don’t want to be here now that I know there’s no future. I’m sorry we’re in similar and awful boats.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I might have missed the point here about the budget, so please excuse me, if I am off-base.
      My suggestion is instead of asking about the budget why not just ask them if they have on going subscriptions to X, Y and Z?

      Worse case scenario, they don’t have them all. So then you say, “Lacking Y and Z, how do you handle Tasks A, B and C?” Then wait for the answer. Let’s say they reply, “Oh we need Y and Z???” Then you launch into your professional self by explaining to them how helpful this is (use examples) and how you have used it with success to benefit Old Job (more examples).

      1. BRR

        This is actually what I was thinking. Do you have this and that? Then ask, what opportunities are there for other subscriptions. Basically I don’t want to be applying for a mechanic position then find out I can only buy a wrench.

        Thanks for your reply.

  8. Lizzie's Patronus

    Ok this just happened to my yesterday. I am interviewing in Philly for an Admin Coordinator position and have over 10 years experience working as an Exec Admin in NYC. I had interviews with 5 people, one main manager, 3 direct reports and the EA to the CEO of a large non-profit.

    The main person met with me at first and then before I left for 15 minutes. Anyway, she mentioned that I was from NY quite a bit, and talked about how I can’t be harsh in this kind of environment. I explained that while I love NY, I left because I wanted a different quality of life and left the corporate world behind, while I’m grateful for the skills, etc., I’m looking for more meaningful work and have been working with and for non-profits for a few years now. Anyway, she brought it up again at the close. Saying ‘you can take the girl out of NY but you can’t take NY out of the girl’. She is from the midwest and lived in NYC herself for several years. I’m guessing she had a bad experience? I again tried to assure her that I conduct myself professionally at all times and with finesse when I need to address an issue but it was just really weird. I normally tend to downplay I’m from NY as it can cause quite a reaction from people in Philly but professionally it can be a plus. But not sure what to do about this if it comes up in the future. Being an EA in NYC, in Finance and Advertising, having worked for the CEO of a company everyone knows, I thought were all positives.

    Any suggestions on how to handle moving forward (could this even come up again???) I sent that thank you note and while I debated on whether to address it I just kept everything positive but this really threw me… Thanks.

    1. KT

      I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m a Philly girl, and we have way more attitude/toughness in demeanor than New Yorkers, in my experience. I think this interviewer was just odd or was just trying to bond, because that’s a weird thing to say anyway

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      That is… super weird. As an NYC transplant myself, I’m actually kind of baffled by what she said to you. I might get it if she had never lived in New York, but… she has, yet she thinks all NYC-ers are harsh assholes? I completely agree with you that being an EA in NYC is a huge professional plus, so I don’t get it either. For the record, I’m no shrinking violet, but I can absolutely tell you that living in NYC taught me how to be reasonable, polite and conscientious– not the opposite. New Yorkers live to get things done, but most also recognize obstacles like time, resources and subway schedules.

      It would be really easy to advise you to be all sugary sweet and agree with her, and say something like, “Oh, I know, I left NYC because of all the big bad meanies and I’m just not like that!” but that’s not only disingenuous, it plays right into her strange impression. I would continue to answer as you have been, but really think about whether you’d want to work for someone who is apparently prejudiced and unwilling to concede.

      1. Nancypie

        So weird, especially since Philly isn’t THAT much different from NY. It’s not like you’re interviewing is some small, slow paced town.

    3. BG

      It sounds like a weird personal hang-up due to her own experiences. Would this person be your direct manager? I wouldn’t address it in any thank yous, but if they will be your actual manager I can see it being a problem.

    4. College Career Counselor

      I find it hard to believe that someone in Philly is bagging on a New Yorker about being “harsh.” I suspect this has more to do with the person being from the Midwest and not having had a great experience in NYC (or over-generalizing behavior) when she worked there. It’s possible that she’s reacting to others having had challenges adjusting to a nonprofit mentality from the corporate world (or maybe she had a previous admin coordinator from NYC that she didn’t mesh with). Absent any other issues that make you think this person would be hard to work with, I’d take it as her giving you the heads-up about the institutional culture. If it comes up again, maybe ask for some examples of “harsh” behavior that wouldn’t fit in.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Good idea. Go right into with her instead of trying to work past it. “You have mentioned this a couple times and I see it is a concern. I would like to help lessen your concerns, can we talk about this a little more in depth?”

        I agree with AvonLady, I think living in a big city and close quarters teaches you to be more aware of your word choices and your gestures/body language. By the simple fact you are surrounded by a wide variety of people, you also had to have a high level of awareness of cultural and social variations among people.

    5. K5280

      There is also a saying “I’m not angry, I’m from Philly” for a reason. My uber-sterotypically Canadian in-laws live there and have relayed proof of the truth of that to me, their NYer DIL, so I’m not sure how much of a difference there is between the stereotypes of people from either city.

      If it comes up again, I would probably assure this person that your experience as an EA working with many people from places other than NY has given you the skills to conduct yourself professionally in any environment.

    6. pony tailed wonder

      I would tell her that you are confused by all the New York comments. Ask her to explain the comments. Just say “I am baffled by all the comments you keep making about New York. Why do you keep going back to a New York stereotype?”

    7. BRR

      Couple scenarios/possibilities:
      -She has an idea in her head about NYC and it won’t change.
      -She had a poor experience in NYC.
      -I’ve met a couple people (not all people) from Philly who seem to have an inferiority complex and automatically hate everything NYC.

      In general NYC tends to be divisive to many.

      Suggestions:
      -I think you handled it alright, although in your response you did kind of perpetuate the stereotype she has in her head and it might have been possibly better to politely dismiss it. But then you have to be concerned about being out of touch (really?!?! they don’t think NYC was harsh)
      -Are you from NYC? If not say, oh I’m from Missouri and just lived in NYC the past X years.
      – Is it possible it’s more comprehensive than just harshness? She’s worried you won’t acclimate to leaving NYC?

    8. Nonnymousie

      I’ve been job-hunting in Philly for a little while now (originally from DC; moved here for my partner), and I’ve noticed a lot of interviewers who seem to really want you to go above and beyond to impress them if you’re not from here. What I’ve found works best is if you talk up the area and how much you’re loving [insert neighborhood or local institutions here] and looking forward to getting to know even more of the community, rather than downplaying the other city.

    9. Allison

      What the hell? How is that an appropriate thing to say to a candidate? I can understand mentioning your own experience in NYC, but to assume that the candidate is a jerk because of where they’re from, and than say that that’ll never change is not really okay.

    10. AcidMeFlux

      Native New Yorker here who’s been living in a major city in Europe for over 25 years. In that time I’ve gotten a fair number of weird attitude and comments like the above. I shrug them off, but I do take it as a sign that the other person has issues, and keep my guard up. But if the situation came up in the hiring process? I’d really have my danger -sensors set to high.

    11. Lisbonslady

      Thanks everyone. It is bothering me and giving me a bad feeling about the role given she would be my primary manager. Especially given she brought it up more than once. She talked about how it’s a family culture at this non-profit, there is a no blame attitude and how everything has to be said with the lightest touch. It’s interesting because in explaining this she seemed not to fit in to the culture herself and even mentioned she reached out to me to schedule the interviews because she had no idea how long it could take HR to do it. So I actually sensed a little frustration from her and wasn’t sure what to make of it. So yes, it was a bit strange all around where all the other people I met were pleasant and professional. NY came up with no one else!

      I didn’t mean to perpetuate what she was saying but wanted to try and explain that leaving Finance and Wall Street to move to South Jersey and work in non-profit was a shift for me and in line with my values and working there. I usually feel a little explanation is needed with the career shift.

      I love the idea of talking up Philly, hadn’t thought of that. I love exploring cities and have been since I’ve been here. It felt very strange to be stereotyped in this way, nothing we discussed was about harshness or attitude so I guess she has her own ideas about that that have nothing to do with me. Last night I wondered if I might not get the job cause I’m from NY, and if so, so be it, nothing I can do about that!

      Thanks everyone, appreciate the feedback. A few close friends (yes in NY!) found this both ridiculous and hilarious as well, lol. Adventures in interviewing!

      1. Not So NewReader

        Ooohhh. She maybe one of those people who has to hire for a position for a company that she no longer believes in. With your post here, I think this is more about her ultra-sensitive company than it is about you being from NYC. Please spend some time considering the idea that she might be telling you to “RUN”.
        All too often, I know I personalize messages to be about a short-coming of mine and I lose the real message of “Hey, CYA, here!” Please consider this possibility.

      2. BRR

        She just sounds odd. It might not be an environment you want to be in. Also a lot of NYC people have been moving to Philly (there was an article about it somewhere recently) and maybe she has some weird sort of issue with that.

      3. Effective Immediately

        “She talked about how it’s a family culture at this non-profit, there is a no blame attitude and how everything has to be said with the lightest touch. ”

        Everything about this screams RUN, RUN FAR AWAY to me. This sounds like a culture where no one says anything even moderately direct to each other (which is a recipe for endemic passive aggression) and no one is held accountable.

        Personally, I would not last 10 minutes in a “no-blame” environment where everyone had to be coddled lest they need their smelling salts.

        I think this lady might have done you a favor.

      4. Krystal

        It sounds like a nightmare job. I work with nonprofits sometimes in my role, and there is a weird attitude amongst a lot of Philadelphia nonprofits. You’re supposed to apologize for not being from there, especially if you’re doing direct services work. That’s mostly tongue in cheek, but yeah.

        1. Lisbonslady

          Thanks again everyone. I hadn’t thought of that but maybe that is what she was trying to do, warn me, in her way. I tend to interview well and right from the start I felt we didn’t click and then with this insistent NY stuff, I was a little thrown and did personalize it.

          And I am a direct person, not agressive but certainly assertive so fit could be a real issue. My most recent role was in a very critical, micro managing, abusive environment so at first this kind of culture did seem appealing but if this is a place where nothing can be addressed I don’t know that I would be able to deal.

          Appreciate the feedback all around.

    12. Steve G

      Weird comments especially from someone who had lived here. The NY stereotype she is feeding into is about 1% of the population, and is mostly rich high-power professionals living in certain areas of Manhattan, and even then, it is a stereotype.

  9. FootinMouth

    Office politics are causing me much anxiety

    The fallout from my intense discussion with my boss continues.

    Nearly two weeks ago, my supervisor confronted me about comments that reached him about my frustrations at work. I apologized and explained that I was upset and promised to refrain from making such statements going forward. He seemed to accept my sincere apology.

    However, now I’ve learned that he plans to confront one of the people who gave me information that caused me some discomfort. He told me directly that the information is inaccurate, but there is documentation and statements from six other staff members to disprove it.

    I’m worried about what he’s going to say to this person and how it will go over. Part of me wants to warn my colleague that an unpleasant conversation with our shared supervisor is ahead, but I am only privy to the meeting info because the secretary accidentally showed me the schedule for the next two weeks.

    Is there any course of action I can take? I’ve already spoken with my boss and tried to remedy the situation, so I don’t know what else I can do.

    Please share advice, particularly on what I can do to contain my anxiety and guilt about the brewing storm.

    1. KT

      Nooooo. Shush. You’ve already found out what happens when you talk about things you’re not supposed to. Doing anything else will just cause pain for everyone–and potentially cost you your job

    2. BG

      I wouldn’t warn your colleague – if that gets back to your manager, I think it will end up causing more problems.

    3. NJ Anon

      RE: warning colleague. I would say it depends on your relationship with them and whether you can trust them not to throw you under the bus.

    4. BRR

      I get your temptation but just stay away. The best possible outcome from this is your coworker will have some time to mentally prepare. I would appreciate knowing but this situation is high risk and low reward. Only possible way to ease things that I can think of is to take that day off.

      1. FootinMouth

        Thanks for the feedback, BRR!

        Unfortunately, I am unable to take the day off and will have two meetings– one in a group and one individual–with the big boss that morning. His meeting with my co-worker is scheduled in the afternoon.

        To ease my discomfort, I have scheduled myself to be viewing space and meeting with event staff at another location for the time leading up to the meeting through its conclusion. The meeting location is several miles away, so I’m hoping for the “out of sight, out of mind” principle to take over my brain, at least in the short term.

    5. Clever Name

      Please don’t warn your colleague. Honestly, I don’t really read this is an office politics situation. I think it’s more that you probably need to be more circumspect in what you say and to whom. For the time being, I’d work on not saying anything even remotely speculative to anyone. Maybe at some point you can figure out who will keep your confidence and who won’t. Always assume that anything you say may get back to your boss.

      1. FootinMouth

        Clever Name, thanks for your comments.

        You’re correct that I need to take much more care in choosing my confidantes, especially when speaking of colleagues.

        This particular situation is a bit unusual in that the co-worker who is meeting with the big boss has a history of stirring the pot and causing dust-ups with one of the boss’ favorite employees. This dynamic began prior to my short tenure and will probably continue until at least one of the involved parties either resigns or is fired.

        1. Clever Name

          Ugh. Yeah, anything that gets said to a pot-stirrer will probably be shared in such a way as to make you look as bad as possible. Stay far away.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I agree with the others that are saying just lay low.

      This does sound interesting though. If I am reading this right, this person gave you info that was unsettling, but accurate. Six other people can attest to the accuracy. The boss thinks the info is false.

      Let the chips fall where they may on this one. It sounds like seven people (total) should be able to tell the boss he is wrong. Let them do that for you. You have done enough, it’s their turn.

      Dealing with anxiety: From what you are saying here you are standing on the perimeter of the problem. You did not cause the problem, you simply participated in what was already going on. You have apologized and promised to handle things differently. It does not get any better than this. A logical boss realizes you cannot offer a pound of flesh.

      Dealing with guilt: Carrying too much guilt is similar to saying “Yes, I can control the actions of the people around me and I failed dismally.” Well, we know that is NOT true at all. Each person involved here is responsible for their own actions. Annnd it is up to them, not you, to defend their actions to the boss in an adequate manner. Take care to own the parts of the situation that are JUST yours.

      Check this out. Are you, perhaps, feeling a bit isolated now? Sometimes isolation comes with guilt and anxiety. These three emotions tend to encourage each other to get worse. This will pass. It might be a week or a month or more, but it will pass, I promise. Nothing lasts forever. Fortunately, the nature of business is to keep moving. And this will move also. From what you say here someone will explain to the boss that he is the one who is not seeing the facts of the matter and the boss will be forced to deal with that aspect of the story.

      In my mind, this sounds like things would not have come to a head if the boss had done something different. Why is he not aware of this problem? Why are people talking behind his back and not showing him the problem? These are the things that should come to light here. Yeah, so stuff is going to change in a bit. One of the changes that will become apparent is that this does not all fall on your shoulders, you can exhale.

    7. JGray

      I know it’s hard but you really just need to lay low and do not let your coworker know about the upcoming discussion. Unfortunately, there are times where management seems to think that keeping things quite or saying something that is only partly true is the way to go. People find out and employees talk to no matter how hard management tries everyone still finds out. Don’t be so hard on yourself- the feelings you are having means that you are human and in all honestly how could you have known how things would work out. It is okay to voice frustrations. I also think that now you know who to voice them too perhaps you have a friend who you can talk to instead of a coworker who will tell your manager.

    8. Argh!

      Bad actors get what they deserve. If you hadn’t said something, eventually someone else would have. You aren’t the guilty party – they are, so you shouldn’t feel guilty. Your loyalty should be toward your paycheck, not to a jerk of a coworker.

  10. Little Teapot

    Hey y’all! Trainee social worker needing advice! Week after next I am starting my first three & a half month placement in social work – I am in Australia but would appreciate any pearls of wisdom! I’m not coming in completely blind as I’ve worked in the industry for 7 years but I don’t have specific case management experience. Any advice is welcome! Thanks :)

    1. afiendishthingy

      I’m not a social worker but very similar, and a lot of my work is analogous to case management. Any particular questions? One of the tough things for me going from being a paraprofessional/direct staff to being a clinician was feeling like I needed to have all the answers to staff and family questions, because I’m the one who writes the treatment plans. (I’m sure this is not remotely limited to this field.) But it really is ok to say “Hmm, let me think about/check into that and get back to you.” Somebody on here had a phrase, I think it was “confidently uncertain” which I like. After a year I still feel pretty new but there’s not nearly as much of that panicked feeling when I get a question, sometimes because I have enough experience to give a decent answer right away, but also because I’m more comfortable saying “I’m not sure but I will find out.”

      1. Prismatic Professional

        +1

        The freedom of being able to say, “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you” is amazing. I’d also have a list of common resources needed (will vary by population). I have food pantries, clothing closets, crisis hot lines, shelters, and specific mental health resources (bereavement, domestic violence, drug addiction, LGBTQ+ positive).

        I also have a problem solving playlist that I made after reading Chip and Dan Heath’s Decisive. (Questions include: What other resources do you have? Where can you find that information? What can you accomplish where you are staying? Within walking/biking distance? Who has solved your problem before [neighbors? family? friends?] and what did they do? What has worked in the past, even if only once?)

    2. Lizzie

      Oh! Welcome to social work! :)

      Just to clarify: is this a field placement from a social work program at a university/etc.?

        1. Lizzie

          Oh, awesome. Congrats!

          If your field placement is awesome and amazing and very in line with what you think you’d like to do — ask tons of questions, take copious notes, and dedicate some effort to making significant connections and establishing relationships. In my MSW program (admittedly in the United States, not in Australia, so your mileage may vary), probably 75-80% of my cohort was offered a position where they were doing their final field placement, and their first placement influenced the places they gunned for in their final placement. Making connections now (and later, when you do your second placement if there is one in Australia) will help you with that if you’re interested in staying. So get to know people and what they do, what they love about their jobs, and do whatever you can to make yourself stand out as a great client advocate and someone they might want to invest in later on — or encourage someone else to!

          If it’s not so great — and that does happen — still ask questions and take notes, but realize that although that three month placement isn’t the best, you’re learning everything you want to learn *not* to do, and that’s still valuable. Make great use of your advisors and seminar leaders (if you have those in your programs). Do still make connections, but don’t make them by commiserating or complaining with people. Stay carefully neutral in a placement you don’t like and highlight the things you do get insight into in a positive way when you start looking for your second placement.

          I agree with AcidMeFlux — keep a journal of the good and the bad, but keep that private unless you’re taking seminar and will be journaling, and feel the need to bring any of that up to your seminar leader. Look back on this when the placement is done and be proud of how much you will have definitely grown and evolved as a social worker in such a short time!

          Above all, remember that although it serves you well to do what you can to be memorable in a positive way and to prove yourself an asset overall if you’re interested in working in that area later, you are there to learn before you are there to do anything else. You are expected to ask billions of questions, need (and seek out!) guidance, trip up occasionally and get a handle on what professional environments are like. You will jack something up at least once. Someone will be able to fix it. All of these things are scary and perhaps slightly embarrassing, but perfectly okay.

          Drop a comment in the open threads sometime, I’d love to see how you’re doing once you’ve settled in!

    3. AcidMeFlux

      Keep a journal (not on your work computer) of the everyday happenings, the feedback you get from supervisors, comments from clients. Being able to look back and see what you were doing and thinking a few weeks/months ago in a learning situation like this is very helpful, and looking back at it again long after it’s over will really give you perspective.

  11. Fundraiser

    Do you think working at a “controversial” nonprofit impacts your career? I work in fundraising and have an interview with planned parenthood. I’m really interested in the organization and this position but thinking long-term will it have a significant impact on applying to future jobs?

    1. puddin

      Yes, I think it will impact your career. However, in the balance I think that just as many employers will be drawn to you because of this work experience as those who will pull away. It will change your job hunt dynamic and possibly your career trajectory, but I do not think it will impact your overall chances of success.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I commented below, but I wanted to address this part in particular — it’s true. I’ve been brought on to do work by quite a few mainstream, relatively cautious companies who know my professional background (marijuana policy! animal rights radicalism! shocking! ) and aren’t bothered by it.

    2. KT

      What do you want to do next? If say, you eventually want to be a campaigner for the Republican party or a Conservative Christian group, probably a poor career move. But otherwise, I don’t see it impacting you.

    3. Gillian

      I think the biggest impact it would have would be to limit the kinds of nonprofits you would work at in the future – right or wrong, most nonprofit employees are expected to identify at least somewhat with the organization’s mission. So if you worked for Planned Parenthood, you’d probably never be able to be hired at a later date by an organization on the other end of the ideological spectrum.

      1. Anony-moose

        Agreed. And then there’s the question…would you want to? I would love to work at an org like PP and would NOT want to work somewhere that wouldn’t hire me based on that work experience.

        1. Gillian

          Definitely! I think a lot of the issues you’d potentially run into, you’d self-select out of anyways.

        2. Fundraiser

          I definitely won’t go really far in the other direction. But I’m thinking about places like universities and arts organizations.

          Also I appreciate how this has stayed career focused and non-political.

          1. Anony-moose

            I think the only area it might be an issue could be grants. I’m a fundraiser for an educational foundation and we do tons of sex ed with our kids. In fact one funder completely underwrote our sex ed program. Yet other funders are very conservative, so we don’t shine a spotlight on the fact that we’ve worked with Planned Parenthood and teach comprehensive sex ed. (Of course, we don’t hide it, either).

            If you were applying somewhere where major funders or board members were opposed to Planned Parenthood that might raise a red flag, but I think that in general you’re probably ok!

          2. MsM

            No, the bigger issue is going to be convincing them why you’re looking to get out of the policy field. And as others have said, it could be seen as a benefit to those organizations who want someone with experience managing large campaigns or complex grants in an environment where there’s a lot of scrutiny and pressure to get everything right.

          3. Bagworm

            I can tell you that after several unsuccessful applications to my alma mater (a Jesuit university in the Midwest), I was able to connect with an acquaintance in HR there and she confirmed my suspicion that my time work at Planned Parenthood pretty much immediately rules me out. Of course, one of their hiring criteria is related to if your values are aligned and (despite my knowing plenty of staff and professors who fully support PP, including a nun) my former employer definitely is an issue related to my “values”. That does bug me some but generally, in the private sector, I don’t think I would want to work somewhere that had such an issue with my work there.
            On the other hand, I had one interview (eventual job offer) from a government organization (totally unrelated to healthcare or reproductive rights) where the director told me explicitly that my time at PP was one of the reasons she wanted to interview me. In addition to supporting PP, she saw my experience there as representative of my commitment to things that are important to me and having the capacity to navigate potentially rocky political waters (our PP had the largest Republicans for Choice group at the time I worked there).
            Despite the minor annoyance mentioned above, I am so, so glad I worked there. It was amazing to get to go to work every day at a place where I was passionate about the mission.
            Good luck!

    4. Jerzy

      Firstly, Planned Parenthood, while only associated with abortions among the uninformed, is first and foremost, an organization providing medical care to women in need. Among people who are more well-informed about what they do and do not do, this is far from a “controversial” organization.

      I wouldn’t think you’d be able to easily transition from a career at Planned Parenthood to, say, The Heritage Foundation, or some right-to-life organization, but if you’re going to continue in either the medical field or that of more progressive nonprofits, or even in many, many for profit businesses, this career move shouldn’t be a problem.

      Good luck, btw!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, huge, huge portions of the country don’t consider PP “controversial” at all. And I don’t mean that in the sense of “well, people on the left don’t consider it controversial”; I mean that even most middle of the road people don’t. It’s a women’s health care organization to most people.

        I’ve worked for controversial organizations (animal rights, drug policy); PP isn’t going to get you those reactions from most people.

        1. Fundraiser

          This is true. I have a horrible addiction to reading comments on news articles (like slowing down to see a car accident) and with the recent press PP has gotten I think my perception has been skewed.

        2. Anx

          I think this is entirely region dependent.

          Where I live now, I think animal rights advocacy or drug policy work would be far more mainstream. Tim Tebow’s mom spoke at our local convention center this year and even the public comm college refers students to a crisis pregnancy center for women’s health.

          I never would have guessed this when I lived in a conservative area in the NE.

    5. Rex

      Unless you hope some day to work at a nonprofit completely at odds with PP, I think it is a strength. It shows that you can fundraise in a more challenging environment than, say “save the puppies”. That you can think about strategy and framing and all the more complex issues that inevitably arise. That you can handle being attacked. These are usually considered good things.

      1. Fundraiser

        Wait, is save the puppies hiring?!?! I want that job! Chief Puppy Officer

        But really that’s a good point for future jobs because I think every organization has a set of challenges they need to overcome when fundraising.

    6. Lucky

      I think it depends on whether you would be staying in a more liberal environment post-this job. If you’re staying in the non-profit world, you’ll likely see many liberal-leaning organizations (and liberal-leaning people at those organizations) who would have no problem with PP.

      If you won’t necessarily stay in non-profits, or if your dream is to work with a conservative-leaning organization, you may find (or suspect) that your resume is being round-filed because of your PP experience. Even then, HR is a woman-dominated field, and most women (even conservative women) like PP. But if your dream is to head up a future republican presidential campaign, this may be a problem.

      Personally, in my field (law), PP experience would help lift your resume to the top of the pile. I’ve found that non-profit, grant-funded organizational experience turns out hard-working, motivated, problem-solving people, and I like to work with those people.

      1. Fundraiser

        I want to stay in nonprofits and I’ve only worked at two organizations so I don’t want to make sweeping generalizations from that but it seems nobody has been super far right. That they would let results trump personal ideology.

    7. InterviewFreeZone

      My experience has been that it only has an impact with organizations or hiring managers who have a personal bias against whatever that former employer’s mission was. I work for a controversial organization and it has not hurt me, to my knowledge.

    8. SystemsLady

      I’m grew up in a swing state in the Midwest where I’m pretty sure 25% of voters on the right would be proud communists if the anti-abortion movement were on that side, and it’s true that quite a lot of people who take it that seriously are the same people who would’ve taken that PP Abortionplex Onion article seriously. (Oddly, 50% of those people also don’t seem to care about other social conservative hot-button issues).

      So I definitely get the perspective you might be coming from.

      But no matter what your Facebook feed looks like, the statistical fact of the matter is that people who find Planned Parenthood controversial are not a huge chunk of the population, and people who would take that to work are a smaller chunk still. I’m not saying you won’t run into a resume-scanner or two who will toss your resume, but in the career area you’ve picked, you will probably end up OK.

      1. BRR

        “I’m pretty sure 25% of voters on the right would be proud communists if the anti-abortion movement were on that side”

        This is one of the best comments I have ever heard.

    9. AcidMeFlux

      One of my favorite jobs in teaching was in health care education, working with medical students. It had a definite strong feminist slant to it (though not radical). Over the years it’s gotten almost 100% positive reactions from potential employers. The couple of times anyone raised an eyebrow, it was clear anyway that I wasn’t suited for that job. Consider that citation on your resumè as a litmus test for how interviewers will perceive you in general.

    10. Bluebell

      I also agree that it depends on where you live, and where you might want to work next. Also – what’s the reputation of the nonprofit in your city/region? I can tell you that here in the Boston area, PP has had a lot of excellent fundraisers, so seeing that on a resume would impress me.

    11. Sydney Bristow

      A friend of mine has spent her 5-year career to this point trying to steer clear of jobs at places that might impact her future job search. Over that time though, she has discovered how truly passionate she is about one of those fields she was sort of avoiding. Now she really wants to get into it but is having trouble because she doesn’t have a ton of experience to back up why she is interested in the cause. She’s volunteering for those types of orgs now to back up her interest. She’s told me that she wishes she had just gone for it in the first place when she was right out of school so she could just continue on that path.

      Based on her experience, I would think about whether you want to be in that kind of work (or at least work at places that won’t think negatively about your PP work) in the future.

    12. Anon PPer

      Hi, possible future comrade. :) I’m a regular, but I’m going Anon for this.

      I will say, my experience working at PP is that the networking opportunities are incredible. I have met Cecile Richards; several local and state-level politicians and all of their people; dozens of community activists and people from a broad spectrum of non-profits. It’s true, you’re not going to meet a lot of people on the other end of the spectrum, and if you want to move on to a conservative or faith-based non-profit it *could* be tricky (then again, I recently had an employee leave for a Catholic org, so your mileage will vary wildly), but–especially in Public Affairs and Development–the opportunities to connect with other similar orgs (off the top of my head, local and state DOH; community health providers; LGBTQ resource orgs; every kind of social service provider imaginable, and the more intuitive ones like Med Students for Choice, NARAL, ACLU and whatever your state has for a Family Planning lobby group) are huge.

      As others have said, though, usually if you’re inclined to work at PP, the places that would hold that against you are not the ones you’d want to work for anyway. I suppose it’s possible you could apply to a corporate job where the hiring manager–on a personal level–would hold that against you, but you run that risk entering into any kind of nominally politicized work. Not to create a false equivalency, but you never know: you could interview with a militant vegan who hates that you used to work for KFC. Personally, working for PP has been a big boost for my career (though obviously that won’t be true for everyone), and I think you’re just as likely to find a hiring manager who wants to interview you because you worked at PP as you are the opposite.

      I think to work with us, you have to believe the strength of our mission outweighs the potential drawbacks. I put my face out there in my community, knowing it could have ramifications, even beyond my professional life. But I am so, so proud of what I do (and of my team; I truly believe they’re the very best around) that I am happy to go back and do it every day, in spite of the potential risk. Working in Development, it’s going to be something of a delicate balance (sometimes reaching out to establish new funding streams that may or may not be supportive) but many affiliates have robust community ties already and have a good idea of who not to approach.

      I love working for PP (obviously), and I can’t imagine going back to the regular world where they don’t talk third wave feminism in the break room. Good luck!

  12. Sutter

    I need to get better at telling my boss, “Hey, this problem is too big for me to solve on my own, and nobody else on the team knows what to do either. Who outside of our team can I go to for help?” I’m normally all about learning-by-doing independently, but I had a situation this week where I tried to problem-solve something that was outside of my expertise by seeking out help elsewhere in the organization… which my boss was not happy about me doing without consulting him first. There was a broader context that he hadn’t shared with me when he told me to get this done, which changed the situation from what I thought it was. Aaargh.

      1. Nom d' Pixel

        I was thinking of a variation on that, something along the lines of “can you recommend someone in another department who can share their expertise?” However, if I need the expertise of someone from another department, I just go to that person directly, and my boss appreciates my initiative, so I think it depends on your boss.

    1. periwinkle

      I agree with E’s advice – ask your boss how he wants such situations handled. My boss is pretty much the opposite of yours as he expects us to be resourceful (but still sensitive to organizational politics) when we need help outside our group’s expertise.

      It’s pretty complicated here because the company is beyond huge and highly vertical in structure. On the plus side we have a ton of people who have been here for more than a decade and have moved around the company. I work with a person who knows this other person who used to work with a third person who reports up to the manager who is a peer of the person managing the department from which I need assistance. That’s our culture – cultivating a broad network is essential for working up to those prime, visible projects. (that culture also encourages cooperation from those distant connections who are also trying to broaden their own networks!)

  13. Spooky

    Hooray for Friday!

    I’ve always had full-time positions, and thought of freelance as being something a little less stable, less of a time commitment (say a few days a week instead of all five) and with less benefits (ie no vacation.) But recently, I’ve been seeing more and more postings for “full-time freelance” positions. My company has even replaced my manager with a full-time freelancer. Contrary to what I thought, she’s supposed to be on-call during all standard work hours and has already taken two vacations.

    So what exactly is the modern version of “full-time freelance?” How does it stack up against regular full-time positions, and against the older notion of freelancing? What’s the difference?

    1. KT

      Freelance is almost never LESS of a time commitment. The work IS less stable, so freelancers often kill themselves to shore up funds for a rainy day–some months I would make 4x normal income and I’d be rolling in dough, other months I’d have droughts of work. It requires careful budgeting to make sure you have money for the bills instead of blowing it all during the “feast” period.

      Freelancing just means I have control. Of course I have vacation–I can take off whenever I want (that’s the fun of it!), I just don’t get paid. So I often take vacation during those drought periods–because I can. Then during the busy seasons, I often put in 80 hour weeks, so it balances out. If my client ticks me off, I can dump them for annoying me. (Of course, they can do the same, which is why it’s important to diversify). But it’s empowering to know that I don’t have to take crap from someone–if they’re unreasonable, I tell them I will no longer work for them and move on.

      So in summary:

      Pros: I can make more money (multiple clients, as many hours as I want), more flexibility in hours/vacation, personal accountability

      Cons: Less stability, dry periods, lack of benefits (I self-purchase)

    2. Not So Sunny

      That sounds like a contractor position, which is common. You promise a company full-time hours on-site (usually) and get no/few benefits. For example, I am a contractor through a talent agency and have been placed in a company at full-time hours. I get no PTO (including holidays) and can purchase health insurance through the agency.

      The old notion of freelancing, IMO, is about working from a home studio on a project basis.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Where I am, you can’t be a “full-time freelancer” and work at one company. You can be a contract worker — where the terms of your employment has defined beginning and endpoints. But you cannot be, say, someone’s admin assistant and invoice your hours every week for 52 weeks of the year.

        I am a “full-time freelancer” in the sense that I work independently on a project basis for local businesses. I buy my own stuff, remit my own taxes, etc. And what KT said about the dry periods.

    3. voluptuousfire

      I think “freelance” has become the new term of choice instead of “independent contractor.”

      1. AcidMeFlux

        And a new way to get suckered into doing more of the same work for less money while paying for your own benefits and vacation/sick time.

      2. Anon for this

        Companies and freelancers actually have to maker sure they fully understand and follow all applicable laws regarding freelancers. You can’t just use someone as a full-time employee and call them a freelancer. There are specific tax implications, etc. and the IRS will look at whether someone is only “freelancing” for one company.

      3. I'm a Little Teapot

        Yeah, “full time freelance” sounds like it’s probably illegal misclassification. Which is generally also a red flag for other Bad Stuff. I worked a couple of illegally classified “independent contractor” positions when I was young and desperate. One was run by a crazy 9/11 Truther who spouted his bizarre beliefs to any potential client who walked in, barely paid people anything (I made $250 in 3 months, seriously), and had a super sketchy arrangement where his horribly underpaid 23-year-old recent grad secretary whom he was rather creepy to was “generously” allowed to live in a spare room in his house for only $200 a month in exchange for being on-call 24/7 to do his housework; on what he paid her it was literally the only place she could afford. (Emotional manipulation was his strong suit; he’d find desperate young people and convince them he was doing them a huge favor and they’d never get a better job anywhere else, both because they weren’t good enough and because other employers were all eeevil.) The other was run by a petty micromanaging tyrant with impossible expectations who made me cry every day and also turned out to be sexually harassing one of my coworkers while deliberately giving her bad references so she couldn’t get a job anywhere else.

  14. Windchime

    We are currently searching for candidates to fill two new positions, and have had such weird problems. Because of the nature of the position, we have posted the jobs on our company website and are also going through a couple of recruiters. The candidates that we’ve gotten through the website are not the problem; we’ve only had a three apply through there but two have sailed through the phone screen and have been offered interviews.

    But the candidates who are coming through the recruiters — yikes! The Hiring Manager has it set up for the candidate to call in; she tells the recruiter a time frame and the recruiter communicates with the candidate and sends out the exact time in a calendar appointment. Here is a sampling:

    —The woman who called a day early for her phone screen, and then called HR, the Hiring Manager and HER manager, to chew everyone out for not answering the call. Um, no—you called a day early. Even after that, the Hiring Manager still chose to do a phone screen (on the correct day) and the candidate demanded to be hired at the top of the range and promoted to Senior after one year.

    —The man who sounded like he was heavily medicated. We tried asking him a few technical questions, and he would answer in monotone, short phrases. “Tell me what your typical duties are in your current position?” “I optimize the query.” We finally gave up.

    —The guy who rambled on and on for 7 minutes, non-stop, until the Hiring Manager finally stopped him.

    —The job hopper who never spent more than 18 months in a position. We thought he surely must be a contractor; nope. They were all FTE positions. The only questions he had for us were about schedule flexibility and working at home.

    —The guy yesterday whose resume looked pretty good. We thought, “Hey, this guy looks like he might be a possibility!”. Then he no-showed for the phone screen. We waited 15 minutes, then the Manager notified the recruiter that the guy was a no-show. He finally called in 20 minutes late but …..too late. If he can’t read a simple email then he probably won’t work out here.

    It’s very discouraging. I know there are smart, qualified people searching for jobs out there but where are they!??

    1. Violetta

      Sounds like your recruiter is the problem. Shouldn’t they do at least a cursory phone call with them to screen out the worst?

      1. Windchime

        I agree. We finally stopped using Recruiter A because they were sending us bizarre candidates. Recruiter B has a good reputation and we’ve found several awesome people through them in the past, but this current batch of candidates has been baffling to say the least.

        1. Windchime

          Nope, he knew ahead of time because the same email was sent to our manager and him at the same time. He just spaced out and was waiting for us to call him instead of him calling us, as was clearly outlined in the email.

    2. Sascha

      I understand! I was doing some hiring once and we had a woman like your #1 – she got the time wrong, even though the hiring manager confirmed it on email (with time zones!) and then sent us a really nasty email about how unprofessional we were, even though we spent almost 30 min trying to get in touch with her after the mix up. I just don’t get why people feel the need to be so rude about stuff like that.

    3. Traveler

      “The job hopper who never spent more than 18 months in a position. We thought he surely must be a contractor; nope. They were all FTE positions. The only questions he had for us were about schedule flexibility and working at home.”

      There are a lot of places where there is no such thing as upward mobility (whether because of corporate policy or because of managers), and the only way to achieve it is to move on to the next place.

      1. Windchime

        18 months was his longest stint; there were many that were 4 to 6 months. He wasn’t moving up; he was moving around. I understand that people can have a spell of bad luck ( several consecutive layoffs), but this was pretty crazy.

          1. Windchime

            I wondered that as well. It wasn’t my choice. The hiring manager wasn’t sure whether or not they were contract stints, so I think that’s why she wanted to talk to him.

            Also, even though we are in the greater Seattle area, some people don’t want to drive to our location because of the commute, so we don’t get as many applicants as one might think. Se we are a little more willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

      2. Carrie in Scotland

        Totally agree with this. My longest job is from 2006-2008 (18 months) in retail which has little to do with my job now (admin). 2 of those short term jobs (less than a year) were part time contracts, the rest being, as Traveler says, due to no upward mobility.

      3. Retail Lifer

        Certainly the case in my field. I usually last 2-3 years, but if there’s no chance for a promotion and the raises remain at 0-1%, I leave and find someone who will pay me more. And then the same thing happens again, so rinse and repeat in another couple of years.

      1. Windchime

        I know; I see them posting here every day! Smart, articulate people. Somehow we just aren’t reaching them.

        Funnily enough, I took a class a couple of weeks ago and mentioned to the instructors (in hearing of the class as we were all packing up to go) that we were looking for a couple of developers. After her coworkers left, one of my classmates came back in to exchange contact information. She seems like a great candidate and I think we will be interviewing her next week. :)

    4. Blue_eyes

      Over here! *waves arms over head* I feel like I’m on the opposite side of this. I’m smart, qualified, reliable, etc. – why aren’t hiring managers calling me?!

      Also, that stinks. Hope you get some more decent candidates in soon.

  15. PX

    Question for any UK readers out there:
    Have been thinking about making a move over there (while my EU passport will still be valid!) – and wanted some advice on using recruitment firms? Any tips/tricks/suggestions for good ones? Would it make sense to register before moving over (am in Europe already if it matters) or should I just make the move and then hope I can find me something quickly?

    If it matters, my background is in engineering, are there specific companies I should be targeting?

    Thanks!

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Engineering is a big world. Depends where you end up – oil based companies aren’t doing overly well at the moment so hopefully your background is in another part of engineering.

      1. PX

        Currently working in oil and gas, hence my rapidly ramped up job search…But my degree is in aerospace and I could probably do most things that fall under mechanical.

        For what its worth, I’m not looking for a purely technical job, but ideally something more product/project management, business improvement/analysis type thing. Even as a student I knew I wouldnt want to crunch numbers/formulae all day, but much prefer planning/organising/presenting/client facing roles – but I do want them to be technical in nature if possible – because I am an engineer after all!

    2. Stef

      I am Italian and moved to the UK 5 years ago. Here recruitment agencies are pretty good and specialise in specific work niches. They are proactive in reaching out to you, even though they still publish listings around. That means that if you have a Linkedin account or your CV uploaded on the top job listing websites, you can be found easily, particularly if you do a specific job where the pool is limited like engineering.
      For the last two jobs, I didn’t really have to apply anywhere, I just had to decide to finally answer to the recruiters that had been contacting me for a while.
      Direct contact with companies is there, but recruiters are heavily used anyway.
      Still, if you want to check for job ads, I guess you can start with the main websites, like Monster.co.uk, Reed.co.uk and Indeed.com.
      Good luck!

    3. Waddles the Penguin

      My experience with recruiters in the UK has been that they see my CV (usually on reed) and contact me. A lot publish stuff but most seem to just look through CVs and reach out to candidates they like.

      You could start job searching and contact a few. Most will want to know a firmish date of when you plan to arrive though so that is something to consider. For many if its more then a month-two away they aren’t going to be looking to help you for a while as most of their openings will need to be filled sooner.

      1. PX

        Thanks, the start date issue is a good point. I know I want to start early next year, but would also like to take some time for travel in between my current contract end date, so something to consider :D

    4. FatBigot

      How familiar are you with the different parts of the UK? You might want to narrow down your search by region a bit. Roughly speaking, the further south you go, the more you will be paid, but the cost of living (especially housing) rises disproportionately. If children are any part of your plans, then you have to contend with the further distortions to house prices and rents caused by good and bad school catchment areas.

      Universities regularly are recruiting, and overseas visitors & workers are welcome, especially from the EU. Unfortunately the jobs are normally tied to grants and thus only 2 or 3 year duration.

      As well as recruitment firms, most big firms recruit directly on their website and it may be worth trying some of these. With your background, Rolls-Royce seems an obvious target.

      1. PX

        Thanks! I do know enough to know that North = cheaper and South = expensive, luckily I’m not really aiming for a specific place other than reasonably sized city because I’m a city person. And no kids or partner to consider which keeps me flexible. So if you have suggestions they are more than welcome!

        Alas, Rolls-Royce constantly seem to have jobs which I look at and go, its a stretch, I could probably do it, but you probably want someone with more experience. The few applications I’ve sent in have just been automatic rejections, which is part of what triggered the thought of going the recruiter route.

          1. PX

            Oooh. I probably wouldnt have thought of them, in my head you would need more of an Industrial Design background, but having had a look, they seem like a great place to work and I’ve seen a position that caught my eye. Now to figure out how to deal with the fact that they WANT salary expectations upfront….

            1. FatBigot

              There is one obvious path that has not been discussed: The engineering institutions. Most branches of engineering in the UK will have their own institution that, among other things, publishes a magazine for members. The main ones are IET (Engineering and Technology Magazine) and IMechE (Professional Engineering magazine). These obviously have job adverts and notices of engineering career fairs. The IET Jobs board is publicly accessible at http://engineering-jobs.theiet.org/

        1. misspiggy

          It would be worth trying to get hold of someone in Rolls Royce HR for a sense of what positions they recruit for and what attributes they’re looking for. They have a wide range of roles, although there have been some recent cuts to the non-engineering posts. It is possible that you’re not going for the right type of job with them, and it can’t hurt to try for more information. They are an excellent employer and it’s a pretty nice part of the UK to live in.

  16. Bekx

    This is hypothetical but…if you’re laid off from your company after working there a couple of years, and then get rehired after the business recovers…do you ask for a higher salary than what you left with?

    Let’s say there is maybe a year in between being laid off and being rehired. Maybe you are working, maybe you aren’t.

    This isn’t happening to me or anyone I know…it was just a shower thought.

    1. Ad Astra

      It would depend on a lot of factors, but I think most of the time my answer would be yes. Cost of living will no doubt increase over a year, so presumably the market rate for the same set of skills would increase too. And of course if you come back as a more experienced candidate or you have new, marketable skills, that would increase your value.

      On the other hand, if you were grossly overpaid to begin with, you might not get much traction asking for more money. Same goes for if your market is flooded with people who have your skill set (which often is the case after big layoffs).

    2. AdAgencyChick

      I don’t think it hurts to ask, knowing that they might say no. If I were working somewhere else, I would definitely ask.

    3. Technical Editor

      I would! I’d also ask for other things (like an extra week of vacation or a higher bonus percentage) so when the next layoff inevitably comes, you’ll hopefully be in a better position than the others.

      1. Kyrielle

        Also – and the “extra week of vacation” made me think of this – ask to be re-hired with your previous tenure counted. So if you had been an employee for 1 year and 10 months, then two months after your re-hire you count as an employee for “two years”. Anywhere where any of the benefits scale with time employed (as weeks of vacation often do, and sometimes vesting, etc.), this can be fairly handy.

  17. Sad or What?

    During lunch with other female coworkers yesterday I found out that it’s actually pretty common for most of us to cry about work. I’ve never been one much for crying, but this job is driving me to that. While it’s great to know I’m not alone, why are we all working at a place that makes us cry?

    1. Barbara in Swampeast

      The one place that made cry I left the next day. I was on the ropes anyway and just couldn’t take anymore idiocy like, “Sarah said you didn’t say hi to her in the hallway. Why can’t you get along with people.” I called the temp agency I had worked for before that job and they were happy I was back. That was a Thursday. On Friday they called with a job on Monday.

      It was night and day. The temp job wanted to keep me permanently, but it was reception and not for me. It was nice to be treated like an adult instead of a misbehaving six-year-old. Took me years of looking over my shoulder to get over the job that made me cry.

      1. RoseRed

        This is where I’m at now. I’m hating the “I can’t cite anything you’re doing wrong, but people don’t like you and it must be your fault” game.

    2. TheLazyB (UK)

      That’s awful :( are you wanting to see if it’s fix-able or has it made you want to leave/more?

      Or something else?

      You have my sympathies. It sucks working somewhere that makes you cry :(

    3. AMT

      That sucks – I had a job that I loved the first two years but quickly grew to hate… it was miserable. I was sticking it out for a set period of time (my husband was having brain surgery and I needed to be home for a month while he recovered), but planned to start looking for a job as soon as he was well. (Didn’t work out that way – two days after my leave I was fired, not for performance but because they knew I wasn’t happy. So thoughtful of them, ugh!). Anyway – what I was trying to work my way around to is that even if it’s AWFUL its also scary to leave – obviously there are terrible workplaces out there and you are at one of them, but what if the next one is even WORSE???? Because you usually can’t tell before you start a job, or else you probably wouldn’t have taken it. Better the devil you know and all that.

      1. AcidMeFlux

        I get you, but….once you start thinking “I have to stay, it might be even WORSE out there…” then it’s REALLY time to get out. That’s a sign your mental health is being affected. I know sometimes you’ve just got to slog on to survive, but start looking and mentalizing; it’s not me, it’s them. Because once you’re really depressed and beaten down, you won’t be an attractive job candidate for anybody.

        1. RoseRed

          Agreed. I definitely started realizing my mental health was being affected when I thought this, and even more so when I started believing that I had to stay because nobody else would want me. Work is kind of gaslighting me right now, which is contributing, but most places have hiring timelines that don’t fit with my “get out immediately” timeline, so it looks like I’ll be here awhile. Despite wanting to be out of things, I want to make sure that wherever I end up is a good move both in terms of being a better workplace and being good for my career on the whole.

        2. AlanS

          100% agree. I had a boss who made a point of telling me a meeting was completely confidential then reported falsified versions of my comments (e.g., me saying I was happy our project was growing and was looking forward to the opportunity to learn more became me saying that I was sick of the low-level work and couldn’t believe I didn’t have more responsibility) to his boss, who then confronted me about these supposed comments in yet another “confidential” meeting. I was so thrown by the many trying experiences with this manager (and lack of recourse) that I ran to the first place that offered me a job. And the new boss had a habit of screaming mercilessly at his employees throughout the day, threatening to fire everyone, leaving leftovers to rot around the office, and other fun stuff. I know it’s not always an option to leave, but sometimes a consequence of staying in a bad place too long is that you don’t have the focus to make better choices when you finally do leave.

    4. Lizzie

      Bills still have to be paid, I guess. I’ve stayed in some really horrible situations because I really just didn’t have any other options at the time for a variety of reasons, and my landlord wouldn’t have cared if I hated my job, just whether or not he was getting his check. There was nowhere else that I could go for money if I just up and quit, and I wasn’t finding things that would pay me as much or more than the position that I had.

      I did quit to go somewhere for less pay once, though … I worked at a butcher shop, the owner was a brand of cruel to me I had not yet encountered and I cried before and after work every day for the six months that I worked there. (and I don’t mean silent tears behind the steering wheel, I mean full-on sobbed until I felt sick). I ate a lot of plain rice and ramen noodles, but I didn’t cry as much.

    5. Mme Pomme-p-door

      I rather like my job, the company I work for, and the people I work with day-to-day. However, I have cried at work more in the past year than I’d ever admit to anyone in person.
      Much of this is due to working with another department on a project – they would change meeting times without notification (and then ask why I wasn’t there), implement changes without checking the impacts to other parts of the company, and generally do completely strange things, expect the rest of us to go along with their secret code & punish everyone if we don’t. It was like being Alice in Wonderland – the sheer frustration & unreasonableness just gets to you.

    6. Windchime

      I think it’s possible to get job-related Stockholm syndrome. I think that’s what I had, anyway. I had worked at this place for 22 years (in different roles). So for most of my adult life, I had been a proud employee of OldJob. Then they decided to close down our department and they put us all on the implementation team of NewBillingProduct. We had an impossibly small team, a truly impossible timeline, and a manager who knew NOTHING. Believe me, most of us spent at least part of every day crying. It still took me over year of that to seriously contemplate leaving, but once someone reached out to me with another job, I was GONE.

      Sometimes things have to get really, really bad first.

    7. Nom d' Pixel

      Is this a weekly cry, or a cry every couple years? If you work at a place long enough, eventually something will get to you. I have seen most of the people (women and men) in my department cry in the 12 years that I have been here. The job is fairly high stress and requires a very difficult skill set. However, if you are regularly crying at work, that is a problem.

    8. Not So NewReader

      I had a job where I cried on the way to work and I cried on the way home, every. single. day. Now it is my gold standard for comparison with any new job.

      I was surprised when one boss mentioned his wife comes home crying every night. I was doubly surprised that he did not see anything wrong with that. But it explained a lot of things.

      Since the Very Bad Job, I have cried from time-to-time about work problems. But usually less than a week at a clip. I do use tears to dissipate anger.
      I don’t think there is a way to accurately anticipate which places are going to reduce us to tears. I do believe in watching for red flags on interviews. And I think that sometimes I stay too long at a job, I need to start looking for a lateral or upward move quicker than I think I should. My third consideration is to make myself learn some discernment- learn to tell the difference between work places that will get better and work places that will never get better.

      My current job was NOT good when I got there. But my boss is a good person and she had a PLAN to deal with the issues. I stayed. She was in awe that I stayed and dealt with the issues and I was in awe that she kept building plans to deal with stuff as it cropped up.

  18. Retail Lifer

    What are everyone’s thoughts on profesisonal resume writers? Is it ever worth it? I can stay at this crappy job for now if I need to, but I’m not thrilled about having to be here at 6pm on Thanksgiving again. I made it my goal LAST Thanksgiving to be out of here by now, but that’s looking less and less likely. I’ve Ask-A-Managered my resume out, but maybe I’m just not able to see it objectively. Even though my job will probably be eliminated in the future, it’s safe through the holidays at least. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was laid off last week and needs to find something as quickly as possible. Is a fancy, expensive resume possibly going to help?

    1. Traveler

      I wouldn’t. Unless you participate in one of the rounds that AAM does it herself. A lot of them have turned out to be frauds, or people who only vaguely knew what they were doing, or gimmicks.

    2. June

      I would find someone you trust professionally rather than pay, unless it’s AAM. We’ve heard too many horror stories here.

    3. Technical Editor

      I do professional resumes on the side, so I’m biased when I say yes. I don’t charge a lot but my customers are very happy with the end result and generally get a better paying job within 6-8 weeks. I had a customer that went from a dead-end sales job to working at the top software firm in our area in 4 weeks. I’d say that’s pretty good.

    4. puddin

      Welp contrary to the advice you will find here…I did hire a service about 10 years ago and had great results. Even more unlikely, I hired from Craigslist, spent about $125. I was very pleased with the results and have kept the same format since that time (for the most part). Most feedback I receive from my current resume on this last job hunt go-around was very positive or at least neutral. This may be atypical, but frankly for me it was one of the best investments, albeit an uninformed one, I have made in my career.

      Can you afford to spend $X and take the risk that you will get little out of it? Do you have the confidence that if you were provided a sub-par resume you would be able to tell (so at least you would not use it)? Are you able to carefully vet the services and ‘interview’ them to determine if they can meet your needs?

      If you do decide to take the plunge, caveat emptor and really get into the details of what you want e.g. career change, focus on X skills, break into a specific company/industry…and make sure the answers to your needs are specific and clear. Also, I have seen some places with multiple pricing levels. For me this is a red flag. What are you providing to those who pay more that I will not be getting and how can you even justify that? Do they get ‘better verbs’, a truly well organized format while the lower payments get a slopped together job? Tiered pricing seems like a gimmick and indicative of a fly by night organization to me. There are also some ‘services’ whose online presence/web site was so horrid, I could not even imagine what a mess the resume would be – they tended to be the tiered pricing guys.

      One last word, Mr puddin and I are currently looking for a resume service for his resume (he is embarking on a new career). We found what we were looking for on elance – which I think is called updesk now. We found a local provider who will be/looks to be familiar with our city, the specific industry, and the regional norms. No result as we have not pulled the trigger just yet.

      Best of luck!

      1. AnonAnalyst

        I also had a great experience with a professional resume writer about eight years ago, and considered it a really valuable experience both for thinking through how I present things on my resume, as well as the actual changes to my resume, which were a vast improvement over my previous resume. I think I also found the writer I worked with on Craigslist!

        I think the questions that puddin asked are spot on, and will help you determine whether you might get any benefit out of one of these services. I would also say that any resume writer who’s worth using will be willing to spend time talking/communicating with you up front, about themselves, the service, and what the process entails. The writer I worked with was very clear that a 1-2 hour discussion about my background and experience would be part of the process – he wasn’t just going to take my original resume and reformat it and change the wording. He was going to talk with me about all the things I had done so that he could re-frame what was useful and most valuable to a potential employer. I didn’t have that knowledge at that point (I hadn’t found AAM!), so it was helpful for me to work with someone else who did.

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      One thing I’ve noticed in the rounds of resume reviews that I offer here: When people send me their resume for feedback and note that it was done by a professional resume writer, they are nearly always in need of a lot of work. Not infrequently, the professional has done things to their resume that are actively bad and made them worse than they were before.

      I’m sure there are good pros out there (and the pool of professionally done resumes that I’m seeing might be more likely to be from people who have gone to a bad pro, which is why they’re now feeling uncertain enough to send it to me to look at), but it’s really turned me off to that industry.

      1. Retail Lifer

        I’m going back to school at the end of this month and I took a look at the resume services they offer. All I can say is that I’m glad they don’t charge for this service, and they employ a “certified resume specialist” (or some similar title).

      2. Come On Eileen

        I sub-contracted for a professional resume writing company for a few months while I was out of work and needed a job. I read your site every day, I work professionally as a writer, so I figured I’d kick ass at it. The company paid us $25 per resume. No matter how long you needed to spend. There was NO incentive to spend time to get things to sound amazing, because you needed to crank through several resumes a day to even approach making decent money. I stopped doing it after a few months because it wasn’t worth the hassle (several rounds of edits with the requestor, no ability to specialize in certain fields — I wrote everything from a mechanic’s resume to a NASA scientist’s resume — etc.)

        I will still help friends occasionally on the side with their resumes, and I enjoy that so much more, because I can spend time getting to know what they do, why they are good at it, and deliver a product that I know they’ll be happy with.

      3. A Bug!

        I wonder if it’s because a person trying to make an income from writing resumes feels pressure to produce a resume that the customer will perceive as valuable as opposed to one that is actually professional and useful.

      4. Windchime

        My son is at his wits’ end with his resume. I tried to get him to take advantage of Alison’s last round of resume reviews, but he has it stuck in his head that someone needs to actually rewrite his resume himself (rather than giving advice about it). I gave him my best “What would Alison say?” advice regarding his resume, but I think next time the review offer is made I will just purchase it for him and make him send it in. He’s a really smart, capable guy but is seriously underemployed and I really think that his resume is the problem.

    6. BRR

      I know how hard you’ve been looking, I’d be skeptical about finding a good one. I think it’s also really tough to be able to say you need help or you don’t without seeing either of your resumes. I’d say try to find someone who’s opinion you trust and see if they’ll take a look. Somebody who does hiring or even who just recently job hunted would be the best option.

  19. Traveler

    Salary requirements on a resume? I’m finally breaking down and applying for one of these even though I know the general consensus is that it is a red flag. Where does it go on the resume?

      1. Traveler

        This specifically asks for me to submit a “…cover letter, resume with salary requirements to:…” I am reading that to mean they want it in the resume. Am I wrong ?

        1. Karowen

          No, you’re reading it right. It’s weird, but there’s not much you can do about that. I would either put it in a narrative section (profile/objective/whatever) or just do a separate section called “salary requirements” at the bottom and throw it in there.

        2. Mockingjay

          I think it was just poorly worded. Put it in the cover letter. That will enable you to provide some context: “looking for a salary range of $X to $Y, commensurate with my 10 years’ experience in custom teapot design.”

          1. Florida

            Agree that this was probably a poorly worded sentence. Leave it off the resume. Put it on the cover letter. I can’t imagine any reasonable person eliminating you because it wasn’t actually in the resume.

        3. BRR

          I think you’d be ok if you put it in your cover letter. I bet they just want it somewhere. I’m in a similar situation where I have previously left it out even when asked but finally I bit the bullet. I like Mockingjay’s suggestion. I put “per your request I am looking for a salary in the range of …. depending on benefits.”

  20. Gillian

    Have you encountered acronyms in your organization that don’t match up with the rest of the world? I overheard (open office plan) someone talking with their manager about their goals for their PIP and was surprised, as I thought she’d had a long track record of good work. Turns out here PIP is the performance INCENTIVE program for bonuses, and you’re only on a PIP if you’re excelling. Anyone else come across things like this?

    1. Nerdling

      I work for the government; acronyms are our bailiwick. And we love to take normal ones and butcher them into something different. It definitely makes for some interesting moments!

      1. periwinkle

        Ha! I’ve been on federal contracts and thought those were acronym-heavy environments… and then I joined my current employer. We have an acronym database that pulls in terms from nearly 90 different internal glossaries. There are 45 different phrases for which PIP is the acronym. The acronym for my job title has 14 other definitions listed in the term bank. One of the first things you learn about as a new hire is the link to that database, thank goodness.

    2. Malissa

      I worked in a retail store where they said they were going to give me a pink slip. Turns out it was just a BS write-up and not a termination.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        At my university, a “pink slip” is a sheet that we can set up for students, faculty, or guests at the student union food court. They can have a group meal and instead of paying at the register, they sign the group pink slip, which is tied to our department’s campus dining purchase order.

    3. Info Mgmt

      Frequently! Or rather, it’s a case of two different programs using the same acronym, within the same organization. My unit is called Information Management Services, and the office also has an Incident Management System. As you may guess, one of these is significantly higher-profile than the other.

      So I hear things like “Have you been trained in IMS?” and get very confused. My first response is usually “Um, yes? It’s my job?” before I realize they’re talking about something really specific, and completely unrelated to the work I do day-to-day.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        Yeah, in my last org AP stood for two different things. Drove me crackers. I could usually tell from context but not always.

    4. Retail Lifer

      In retail, the cash register/computer is referred to a point-of-sale system, abbreviated as POS. Honestly, in plenty of companies I’ve worked for, that shared acronym is an accurate description.

    5. Tagg

      I work in healthcare. We looooove our acronyms.
      BMP, CMP, EKG, ESC (three different things depending on what you’re talking about), EUC, RUC, SOP (formerly HC), DOP, THG, IMS, ARS, ARSE (yes, really), OV, RX, DX, DES, DNC, Pt, PT, TSH, TB, XR, CT, US, CTA, MRI, VPP, CSS, PAR… I could go on and on…

      1. Windchime

        Yes, this. And don’t forget many different names for an insurance plan: It used to be Secure Horizons but is now UHC. And all the sudden we now have Apple Health, which is really the same things as Healthy Options…or is it just plain DSHS, also known as Welfare?

        Very confusing!

    6. LQ

      I work at a place where the name of the type of business we do is the same as the software kind of work I do. (Think working for DOL and you worked with software called DOL that was totally unrelated.) It’s worst for the consultants who come in and talk about the software/etc and everyone thinks they are talking about the org. Because no one else at the org knows the software is called that.

    7. Kyrielle

      Okay, that would be really disorienting. Yikes. I’ve worked in places where there were acronyms that were non-standard for the wider world, but they weren’t direct reversals – they just were different subject domains.

      I also tried to get a sub-system of our software named something that worked out to THE as an acronym, so that clients could have reported if they had any issues with the THE system. I didn’t expect to succeed, which is good, because I didn’t. (REALLY good, because actually, if I had succeeded, I’d have had to live with the resulting conversations too.)

    8. Belle diVedremo

      Oh, yes.

      STD. Standard, Sacred Theology Doctorate, and um, STD.

      Used to work in standardization, had a colleague with a Sacred Theology Doctorate (who rather enjoyed telling new colleagues he had an STD).

      And apologies to C for adopting her nom de internet. “Sunday” just wasn’t really true any more.

    9. KD

      Last month I provided my manager a 2 page write up with no nouns outside of acronyms. The report was an ATM. Which does not in fact stand for automated teller machine but “A technical memorandum” where A is the name of the company.

      Ive learned to compile a running acronym list for every project I work on because no one uses the full name of anything in my field. For example a MOSFET which is a basic component in electronics is actually a “metal-oxide-semiconductor field effect transistor” and nobody wants to say that more than they have to.

  21. Ad Astra

    My manager, who gets 4 weeks of vacation every year, is about to take his second week-long vacation of the summer, which is absolutely fine. Good for him. But when my coworkers and I mentioned that we only get one week of vacation per year — and, in the second year, all 5 days must be used consecutively for an audit week — he said “Yeah, we get our fair share of vacation around here. I don’t even use all mine.” Oh.

    He also makes frequent mention of working through lunch or staying after 5, which is pretty different from our company’s culture as a whole and not something the rest of our department does or would like to do. We stay late when we’re up against a hard deadline, which is pretty rare.

    Is he just being annoying, or should I take this as a cue that he values face time and “putting in the hours” more than he values output?

      1. Ad Astra

        To be honest, I can’t remember if he said that before or after we chimed in that we only get a week, so I’m not sure if that was his “answer” to the comment or not. But it’s something he says a lot, and he seems to be sort of aware that we only get 25% of the time off. He is mostly a nice guy, but seems insensitive in a lot of situations.

        1. Ad Astra

          And yes, it is SO WEIRD to me that nobody in this company acknowledges that one week a year is far less than the standard for entry level — nevermind that nobody in our department is entry level, and one of our employees has decades of experience but happens to be new to the company. I would feel so much better if someone who gets 3 or 4 weeks would acknowledge that 1 week is not competitive, even if they couldn’t do anything to fix it.

    1. Anx

      I had someone talk to me for almost 10 minutes about their Labor Day Weekend Plans at work (another department). I’m hourly, no PTO. All Labor Day means to me is a 25% reduction in my pay for the week. I really didn’t want to hear all about how LDW is the bestest.

  22. Carrie in Scotland

    So, I have a work situation (obviously!).

    The person I sit next to closest is not from the UK (she is Finnish but has been here for 30 years) and some of what she says is…abrupt/rude.

    For example, I recently moved (as documented in the weekend threads) and I have a cat. My cat was outdoors and is now, sadly, indoors. Finnish woman says “Why did you take your cat if she is only indoors?” I said, mustering up politeness that it was hopefully a temporary situation and when I buy a property, the cat will be outdoors again.

    Any advice on how to handle such comments? It made me sad, when she said that. FWIW, she also said that a thin woman was fat at some point in the past, so it’s not just me but the way she is.

        1. fposte

          Consider that if she were in the US, she’d likely get her ass handed to her for suggesting it’s a problem the cat is an indoor cat. As a subject, Indoor/outdoor cat is up there with breastfeeding for descending into acrimony.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            Yeah, I didn’t realize that was such a hot topic (even though I had read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom) until I mentioned that my one cat is indoor/outdoor and caught holy hell about it. I guess I thought people who cared that passionately about it were confined to that book.

              1. the gold digger

                Our cat loves to go outside. We compromise by putting her on a leash and attaching it to the clothesline. She gets to be outside but cannot wander. Even tethered, she catches small varmints.

      1. Elkay

        I think sometimes second language speakers can come across as more rude than native speakers due to translation. I’ve heard similar things said about Dutch people speaking English (that they come across as rude/abrupt).

        1. PX

          Nah, Dutch people are just rude :P

          (I once read a KLM magazine which put it brilliantly: “They have a reputation for being honest to the point of rudeness’)

          1. Zhook

            I love this about my Dutch colleagues! “Your idea is terrible, here is why.” You never have to wonder what they’re thinking. :)

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Same with my Finnish colleague. She would say to the design students, “Why do you make this sh*t?!!” and they loved her for it, because it wasn’t coming from a place of meanness; she was just being very forthright.

        2. Bangs not Fringe

          Agreed.

          I also see what she said as a mere question not necessarily at dig at your cat-mothering skills. Was it possible you were expressing concern about your cat’s adjustment to living indoors or something? Clearly something prompted her question. To me it just looks like curiosity and making conversation, just rather bluntly.

          1. Dana

            I read it as “Why didn’t you just abandon your cat, which I think is a normal thing to do since I’m just bringing it up in a total nonchalant way”.

            If that were the case, I would think less of that person based on her disregard for other people’s pets that they love and care about.

            But that’s just my interpretation.

            1. Carrie in Scotland

              @ dana – that’s how I took it too…but again (as in the weekend threads) I have been worrying over this and am quite sensitive on the subject.

          2. Monodon monoceros

            Agree, also, I am from the US but living in Norway, and a lot of people here feel strongly that it is natural for cats to be outdoors, and that it is cruel to keep them locked up. I have an indoor cat myself, so I have this conversation a lot.

            Many people here also are against spaying and neutering, also because they feel it is un-natural. Both my animals are “fixed” so I get to have that conversation as well…

            It’s culture, not rudeness though.

            1. Chrissi

              It would be cruel to keep my cat outside. She grew up in a cage for the first year or two of her life (laboratory animal), so she LOVES people because she’s so used to being around them, but I tried to take her outside on a harness a few times in the backyard and she was terrified and flattened herself to the ground and wouldn’t move, then ran back inside :)

        3. Dee

          Agreed, I’ve had a couple of co-workers, one Dutch and one Eastern European, who just act like this. They sincerely mean nothing bad, nor intend to be rude, it’s just their style. They both had difficulty fitting into the two office cultures they were in when i met them due to it but once i had a lightbulb moment, ‘oh that’s their style’ nothing they said ruffled me again because i – they weren’t trying to be rude in anyway.
          To the OP: can you ry and approach it from that perspective and see if how you feel about it changes?

    1. Monodon monoceros

      It is possible that it is a cultural thing, even after 30 years. I think come cultures are not rude, but more direct. I deal with this a lot. For example, I work for an international organisation and we speak English at work, even though I’m the only one who’s native tongue is English. This is fine at work, but when I explain this to people I meet outside of work, but in the country I’m in, they often as “why?” in a tone of “what the hell is wrong with you guys there?” but it really is just a direct question, rather than rudeness.

      I’m confused about your last sentence so it didn’t really shed any light on the situation for me, but I would just take her comments as direct, but not think of them as rude. Especially since you just recently started working there, correct? Maybe you will find later that she is, in fact, rude, but I’d give it more time.

    2. Amanda

      I work with a lot of non-native speakers (my native language is English and I live in the US), and some of them do often come across in English as rude, abrupt or tone-deaf. In some cultures, bluntness is not rude, just the way people communicate (I’ve had several co-workers from similar cultures say things like “that woman is fat” or announce at a meeting “I have diarrhea” who are, in my mind, pleasant, appropriate and kind people.) On the flip side, I’m sure that in French I come across as rude, abrupt and tone-deaf fairly often. So maybe that’s the issue. She might also just be a blunt person who comes across as blunter when she doesn’t have the same culture or innate language understanding that you do.

      Or maybe she’s just really rude in any language. Either way, I find that for me, I’d rather give someone the benefit of the doubt and move on.

      1. Windchime

        A lot of this can be cultural, for sure. I work with a woman from Russia, who has been here for about 12 years. Her English is pretty good, although I sometimes have to explain some uncommon words to her. She can come off sometimes as very abrupt and rude, but she is horrified and upset when she realizes that she has upset or offended someone. She is really a kind, happy person but her lack of fancy “filler” words combine with her strong accent can make her sound much more rude and abrupt than she intends.

        1. Sweaty

          Yeah, there are languages that have fewer words that English, e.g. fewer synonyms that mean the same thing, and fewer qualifiers. It’s just not possible to beat around the bush the same way you can in English. Plus, a non-native speaker probably has a smaller vocabulary, so they have fewer words available to them. The result is unintentional bluntness.

    3. UK Curious

      To be honest that doesn’t sound rude to me, but maybe you’ve decided she’s being judgemental rather than curious/inquisitive? Unless she says more heinous things I wouldn’t take offence, she’s querying your actions not you. Or perhaps she doesn’t want to know more about your cat – have you talked about it a lot? Or is perhaps the move itself/temporary situation something you feel raw about which she might not be aware of?
      I would say that my experience of Finn’s is a little reserved and matter of fact, and they warm up with alcohol. She could also be like (apparently) a lot of AAM readers and not like talking about non-work matters, and so come across as nonsympathetic as its not her ‘thing’.
      Also people are weird about cats, she may not like them at all.

    4. voluptuousfire

      Finns tend to be rather blunt. They’re not into small talk and overall I think that avoidance of trivialities does make for a more direct manner of speaking than compared to other cultures. But again, living in the UK for 30 years plus speaking English at or near full fluency would have softened those edges to a certain extent. I can see how the politeness of the Brits would be ruffled by a very plainspeaking Finnish woman.

      The Finns are known for being a very taciturn people. Very quiet and reserved but pretty spectacular people once you get to know them.

    5. NJ Anon

      I don’t get it. Why is that rude? Dumb maybe (Of course you’re going to take your cat!) but not hearing rude.

    6. Camellia

      And some people occasionally say something totally unexpected. I worked with a woman that was the most professional and yet warmest person I had ever met. She was a great mentor. I still do admire her very much. But one day she said, “I can’t understand why people slow down or stop for the geese that are crossing the road. They should just hit them! It’s not like they’re endangered!” I was stunned. Literally speechless.

      1. SherryD

        Well, she’s not wrong. In my jurisdiction, you’re legally not supposed to disrupt the flow of traffic to stop or slow for an animal unless it’s big enough to hurt you (deer, moose). That being said, I think most people would stop or slow for a small animal as long as they could do so safely.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I am shuddering. The other day I was in a downtown area of a busy city near me. I was very surprised to see a group of ducklings walking on the crowded sidewalk. Oddly, there was about 40 of them, they were all different sizes but they still had their baby feathers. There was ONE adult duck leading the group. (No other adults in the group.)
        My heart went into my throat when I saw the adult lead the group toward the street. This is a four lane road, with bumper to bumper traffic. Fortunately, the adult turned back toward the sidewalk and the group followed. For a moment I thought I was going to have to jump out into traffic. But at least I know that here most people will stop.

    7. Waddles the Penguin

      Hmmm It could really just be a more direct cultural issue.

      You might have interpreted what she said as “Why did you bring your pet if you were going to be cruel to it?” And what she could have meant was something closer to “Why did you bring the pet now if its going to cause an issue?” I know someone who when moving from London up to Birmginham left her cat with friends for a few weeks so she could get a new place set up and let the cat out. Or maybe she doesn’t have any pets so doesn’t understand the attachment.

      As for calling someone fat who is thin. Thin is an abstract concept. Maybe she genuinely thought the person was fat as in opposite of thin and it wasn’t intended as an insult but more a physical description. Idk.

      If its just the two things I would wait to see how it goes. If she says something bordering on rude again you can always say “What do you mean?” So she can expand and reword it to get a clearer idea of her intent.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. (Love your name, btw.)

        I would copy her. It sounds like she is trying to figure out why you say the things you say, so do the same. Just ask her why. Treat the situation like you are learning about each other.

        Her actions already show that your questions will be okay with her. She asks you questions. I would try to control my tone of voice when I asked, if I were the one doing this. But I would still ask. At some point you might work your way up to talking to her about tone of voice. Just because a person has learned a language does not mean they have learned the various meanings of a word that change with voice inflection. And you can also talk about types of questions or statements- but that will come later.
        If you give her the benefit of the doubt you have nothing to lose and you might gain something.

        1. Jasmine

          Chiming in with an additional thing about tone of voice. Finnish does not use inflection to convey unspoken meaning, it uses stretched out sounds to distinguish words. Which basically means it can be very difficult to figure out “implied” meaning if a Finnish speaker is using English.

          UK English, even more so than Canadian English, can be very indirect, and very dependant on tone to convey meaning. There is often no way to do that in the Finnish language, and more than that, it is specifically an offensive thing to do. See the note below about how my boyfriend views this topic!

          Example: In Canada, ordering a beer would literally sound like “Can I please have a Molsen?” or ” I’ll have what’s on tap, thanks” In Finnish, often the literal words are “Give me beer”. Three words. No softening. No “politeness”. Just a simple statement of what is required. They do not have an equivalent for the word “please”.( They do have “thank you”. “Thank you very much” is reserved for really, really large things). When you bump into someone the appropriate response is basically “oh, dear, or “oops”, not “sorry”. I could go on.

          Finland is tiny, homogenous, rural and did not go through the feudal system. They never developed “manners” in the same way as cultures with complex social hierarchies, lots of immigration, or lots of internal movement. It is not necessary to smooth interactions between people in quite the same way if you know them all, and they are mostly like you. (I’m simplifying for effect but a lot of it comes down to that).

          Basically, yes, it’s cultural. In sum: Always, always, ask for “why do you say that?” You’ll probably keel over in astonishment at some of the answers you’ll get.

          *My boyfriend of 8 years (who now has permenant residency in Canada) is from Finland. He went from a technical field to a customer service field when he moved here, which meant he had to learn cultural norms, communications, tact, rephrasing, etc. all at once and rather abruptly. He regularly offends people by making (to him) mild observational statements that sounds incredibly brash to a Canadian ear.

          Tact is not a thing he possesses; it is something he is only just beginning to grasp the concept of, and he has lived here for 5 years. He’s a very smart person with incredible interpersonal skills, he simply did not believe us for many years when we tried to explain politeness. What Canadians find polite, he interprets as lying, or decietfulness, because it is not direct. And because of the inflection thing, often nobody has any clue whatsoever that he is joking (which is unfortunate, because he is hilarious).

          He has a strong accent, and is not interested in changing it, because he actually speaks very well. He now overemphasizes inflection when he speaks in English, so we can figure things out from his tone of voice. Which means when he speaks to his family in Finnish, they laugh at him for sounding so…unnaturally bouncy.

  23. A Non

    We had an all-staff meeting yesterday. It involved handing everyone kazoos and insisting that we play them.

      1. A Non

        Hah, you have a much better attitude about it than I did! I’m usually okay at going along with “fun” things, but I was not having it yesterday. I did leave my kazoo on the table, but now I’m wishing I hadn’t. The best way to make sure this never happens again would be to play it while walking around the office for the next month.

    1. Anony-moose

      This was my college…

      Nicknamed Kzoo…

      We got kazoos at graduation and had a kazoo chorus of our anthem.

      1. Whatsername

        I just found out my team has a mandatory fun day coming up. On a boat. At a particularly unappealing lake. In September in Texas. During work hours.

      1. A Non

        Almost half my coworkers didn’t know that. If I hadn’t been trying to die of embarrassment, I would have been shocked.

        1. afiendishthingy

          what?? so at least they learned something.

          TBH I’m not that big on team building activities but I would have been WAY INTO THIS.

    2. Mimmy

      Oyyy my sensory overload-prone self is seriously twitching right now!! Why did they think this was a good idea??

    3. Nom d' Pixel

      My allergies were acting up and half of the department has colds (their kids just went back to school, so the end of August/beginning of September is always a germ fest). Unfortunately, I am now imagining a bunch of people with sinus problems trying to play kazoos.

    4. carafein

      I’m an exec asst. My CEO had me buy a complete set of rhythm instruments (think sitting in Pre-K in a circle with wood blocks, triangles and maracas) for an off-site executive meeting (22 people). His intention was to have the upper level executives “team-build” by having a jam session. Ugh. The assistant I sent to the oversee the offsite hid the instrument box in her car and was “unable to find” them when he wanted to have the jam session. Bless her. The CEO thankfully immediately forgot about them and moved on to the next crazy idea. Sometimes I feel like I’m working for Dug the dog from “Up”. Squirrel!!!

    5. AnotherFed

      That sounds like a hilariously bad idea! Granted, I’m pretty sure we’d spend the next week kazooing at each other anytime the manager was in earshot (did you know you can sort of talk through a kazoo?) because my office is made up of 7 year olds masquerading as responsible adults.

      1. afiendishthingy

        Hmmm I guess I am the only one who thinks this sounds like an awesome meeting. In college my roommate and I found out that a friend, an international student from Pakistan, didn’t know what a kazoo was and then we somehow found and purchased a bag of them. I have fond memories of my roomie and me playing “Cecilia” in harmony on our kazoos

  24. SophiaB

    Happy Friday!

    Does anyone have any advice about telling my boss that I’ve applied for an internal post in another department? I think I’m going to do it via email, so some wording-help would be appreciated.

    For some back-ground, my boss and I do not get along. She does not understand the work that I do and keeps changing my responsibilities to things that make no sense and break the programme of work. She then shouts (actual shouting, for an hour or so) at me when the work packages break. I’ve had enough and I’m keen to get out of here, but I don’t want to leave the company. I’m also going to be leaving my current team in a right mess because the skillset she’s going to have to re-hire for is going to be wanting double my salary.

    The new role came up and I applied on Monday, not realising that my boss was out on leave this week. They were surprisingly quick with the interviews and interviewed me on Thursday, and from what I can tell, really liked me. They’re letting me know at the end of next week. I’m glad that it’s moving fast because I want out as soon as possible, but now I’m in a bit of a sticky position in terms of how I present this to my boss.

    I’ve also spoken to a few of my friends in the department about the interview, and although I asked them to keep it quiet, I know how the office grapevine works. So now I’ve got to tell her before I hear whether I’ve got through.

    If I thought I could deal with it, I’d let her know in person, but I’m just too tired to deal with her hysterics at this point. Can I just send her a notification:

    ‘I just wanted to let you know that I’ve applied for this role and had an interview on Thursday. I should hear by the end of the week and will let you know the outcome as soon as I hear.’

    Do I need to put anything else? She’s going to hit the roof. I’d rather keep it brief and get it over with.

    1. Mockingjay

      Regarding the office grapevine, does your office have a policy of keeping internal transfer applications private? I wouldn’t confirm or deny unless you get the position. If you do (here’s hoping!), I would ask HR how to handle informing your boss. It might be best if it is delivered at a managerial level.

      After she has been informed, email her. Frame it as simple information with general thanks. “As you know, I am transferring to the Teapot Spout Department. I have enjoyed my time with the Handle Design team, and appreciate all the opportunities I have had. Attached is my transition plan to close out my work.”

      1. SophiaB

        Yes, the interviewing department will keep it quiet and not contact her, but the other lady on my team already knows (because I had to go for the interview in the workday, so there was no way of hiding it). I’m trying to head off the worst of my boss’s wrath by just being straight with her so it doesn’t look like I’m screwing her over.

        Plus, there’s some planning to be done in terms of handover / recruiting for my role if I get the job. The interviewing department are looking to move fast (which totally suits me!) and I don’t want my boss to be able to delay my move by claiming that I need to wait until she’s hired someone else.

        I desperately need to learn how to manage up, I think. I do really like the wording on that email if I do get through and get the job though. It’s exactly what I need to say, but it doesn’t sound harsh. Thank you for that.

    2. ACA

      It’s not clear – do they need to contact her about a reference? If so, what you have is fine; if not, you might as well wait to tell her until you’re ready to give notice.

    3. Artemesia

      I would have tried to keep this on the QT as jerk bosses have a habit of derailing internal transfers. But since you already discussed it with colleagues I’d let her know asap — I might not indicate it is as likely as you think it is so as not to encourage her to try to torpedo you. (of course maybe that would backfire – hard to guess)

  25. Holly

    I need help. So, I’m at a new job, have been here for about 3 months and I love this place. I bonded with the IT guy here pretty quickly because we’re both giant comic book nerds and we like a lot of the same other interests, etc. There’s few people here even in my age range (he’s a little older, but not by much) so it was nice to connect with one who was. Well, lately he’s been making comments…telling me I look really good when it’s t-shirt and jeans day, then adding “but you look beautiful in your dresses too.” One morning he addressed me with “what’s shakin, good lookin’?” And yesterday he said I looked hot in the dress I was wearing. Just.. unprompted. I got out of a 1:1 actual business meeting with him and he said that as I was standing. I didn’t know what to say except “thank you.”

    But it’s making me uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. However, I’m a non-confrontational person and don’t want to cause any drama. I can’t really tell anyone else in the office because we’re a small office (50 employees) and anyway, I can’t make the relationship tense because he’s the only IT guy in this office!! But I’m afraid he’ll keep escalating his comments because I’m not telling him to stop. What do?

    1. KT

      This isn’t drama-this is pretty uncomfortable. The next time he says it, reply “That’s not cool” or “that’s not appropriate” or “Please don’t say things like that”. Don’t soften, don’t smile. It’s inappropriate, but not worth escalating to management–this is something you can nip in the bud.

    2. Sadsack

      How about the next time he says something about how you look, you just ask, “Do you think it’s appropriate to say that?” Then just wait for his response. I mean don’ laugh or or say anything, just wait it out for him to respond. You are not causing drama. If he is reasonable, he’ll realize that he overstepped professional bounds and will apologize and won’t do it again. If he argues or blows off your question, then you know he isn’t ad niceas you thought and he has a problem.

    3. Rock

      Well, you tell him to stop. <3
      I know it's not fun, and I know you said you're non confrontational, but a simple, "Look, man, you really got to cut that out, it's making me really uncomfortable. We have a good working relationship, and this is inappropriate," is a necessary first step.
      And then, if he keeps it up (chances are he will because sometimes people are asshats) you talk to your manager. Seriously.

      1. JMegan

        Agreed.

        I totally get that you’re non-confrontational – I am too, in a lot of ways. But which would you rather be? Non-confrontational and uncomfortable in your workplace? Or, confrontational* and comfortable? Because “non-confrontational and comfortable” unfortunately isn’t an option in this situation, so you’re going to have to choose one or the other.

        I vote for having the difficult conversation and telling him to knock it off. You deserve to not be sexually harrassed at work.

        Best of luck, OP, it’s a crappy situation for you right now.

        *I don’t think “confrontational” is exactly the right word here. I would prefer something like “assertive,” which is not the opposite of non-confrontational, but am using the OP’s wording to illustrate the choice.

    4. Anonmanom

      Ugh, this is one of those societal programming to be nice and not hurt feelings things I hate. I have found if you think its just harmless flirting, you can deter the normal guys with an awkward response. I prefer the raised eyebrow, maybe adding a um thanks? like you have no idea why they would say that approach for these ones. If they think you aren’t appreciating the comments, a lot of them stop.

      The best answer, the one most people will chime in now and tell you, is to tell him to stop, its not work appropriate. But I was totally the super shy, don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, how do I handle this ick, type throughout my 20s, so I get the complete inability to confront someone. So, maybe try something less confrontational and see if you can get the point across that way.

    5. fposte

      Umpteenthing the “you tell him to stop.” That’s not a confrontation or drama, that’s a key life skill. Think of it as like driving or riding a bike–it’s never too late to learn. You’re looking for a way to tell him without feeling vulnerable by asking for what you want. It’s really important that you be able to ask for what you want.

    6. Ad Astra

      If you really can’t bring yourself to ask him to stop (though that is solid advice), try deflecting with something like “Well that’s a weird thing to say to a coworker.” There is a small chance that he’s a fairly conscientious person who will be mortified that he sincerely misunderstood the nature of your relationship, and the comments will stop immediately.

      But there’s a decent chance he won’t immediately realize his mistake, and you’ll have to ask him to stop like everyone else has suggested. Any drama that results from a firm-but-calm request to stop commenting about your appearance is him stirring up drama, not you. He’s the one who’s out of line.

    7. TheLazyB (UK)

      He’s causing any drama by being super-inappropriate. I bet he’s noticed that you’re not thrilled by the comments and yet he hasn’t stopped.

      Can you role-play telling him to stop with a friend/family member? I bet it you practise a few different scenarios (denial/fury/upset/etc) you’ll feel better able to actually speak to him.

      1. Rock

        That’s good advice! The situation-unknowns are sometimes the scariest, and practicing what you want to say will also make it less uncomfortable.

    8. Someone Else

      Even if you dislike confrontation, you have to ask him to stop. It should be direct and simply stated, i.e. ‘I find it uncomfortable when you compliment my appearance. Please do not continue to do it. ‘ If he’s a decent guy, and your bond means anything, he will just accept that you want him to stop. If he reacts negatively, then it’s a good thing you didn’t let his behavior continue without calling him out on it.

    9. MsM

      “Look, dude, I like talking comic books with you. But if we were close enough friends for you to say that kind of stuff to me and not have it be weird, you’d know better than to say that kind of stuff to me in the first place. So let’s keep the compliments focused on work and not my looks from now on. Deal?”

      Or just go with the patented Carolyn Hax “wow.” But yeah, no more “thank you”s.

    10. JMegan

      Also, I need to point out that his behaviour is escalating – from “you look good” to “beautiful” to “hot,” all within three months! So if you think it’s uncomfortable now, imagine what it will be like in another three to six months if he keeps on like this.

      He needs to stop, and unfortunately the only way that will happen is if you say something. I know it sucks, but there really isn’t another way around it. Good luck!

    11. asteramella

      It’s not drama, it’s correcting a coworker about appropriate workplace norms so he doesn’t carry on escalating and 1) make you uncomfortable and less able to do your job and/or 2) get your company sued for creating a hostile work environment.

      Document what he has said and anything he does say. Tell him to stop commenting on your physical appearance. Document anything that happens after that and go to HR if he continues. If HR is competent they will ensure that he stops for good.

      1. naanie

        seconding this, start documenting his behavior now and tell him explicitly that it is not to make comments like that at work, it is inappropriate.

    12. Waddles the Penguin

      I love talking comic books with one of our IT guys. For a while he hit on me but he has since stopped. It wasn’t him being a jerk or anything its just that he didn’t get to mean a lot of women, especially ones who like comic books and didn’t realise his jokes/advances were inappropriate.

      A lot of romances (especially on TV) start in the workplace (I don’t recommend). Some people flirt at work and its okay and others don’t.

      Your colleague won’t know his comments make you uncomfortable unless you tell him. If he says you look beautiful and all you say is thanks. How is he supposed to know it wasn’t an appropriate thing to say?

      I got my colleague to stop by telling him. Whenever he said “hey gorgeous” I would respond with “hey inappropriate.” Or “dude not cool.” He got the hint pretty fast and knocked it off. If he hasn’t I would have had an awkward but necessary your comments are inappropriate stop now conversation. But I let him know in a slightly nicer tone first and that worked.

      But you do need to say something when he makes these uncomfortable comments so he knows to stop.

      1. LibbyG

        Just this week a coworker I rarely see commented inappropriately on my appearance. I was surprised. I said, “I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to say crap like that.” I wish I hadn’t softened it, but apparently it worked because he emailed me an apology right away. I think I had a good “dafuq you just say?” face going too. I second the suggestion of practicing out loud a few times. It might help to channel an assertive woman hero. Be Meryl Streep or Oprah Winfrey or Amy Pohler or whoever strikes you as both assertive and warm.

    13. AngieB

      I hope you get a notification on the response as this thread is old but I really wanted to chime in.
      Ive recently had a HUGE weight loss (nearly 200 pounds gone) and Ive got from never being hit on to it being something that happens a few times a day. I work in a large doctors office and men from the doctors themselves, drug reps, nurses, patient and visitors. It makes me very uncomfortable, being noticed make me very uncomfortable.
      Having to deal with this and remain professional has taught me a lot about the way men think. Men are mostly simple, they hit on you because they think they can. Once politely corrected only a few have ever persisted. saying something like “by boyfriend/husband realty likes this dress too” or just throwing out in casual conversation that you aren’t on the market. since you two are friends you could also bring it up in conversation like ” i’m in a funk today, I saw someone from my old job at the gas station, he always seemed to have something to say about my appearance it made working with him so uncomfortable. I cringe at the thought of it” a white lie to make everyone feel less uncomfortable in a situation like this is fine. he’ll most likely get the hint without being embarrassed and you’ll get to have a nice work bud.

  26. Internal Interviewee

    Yay, open thread! I’ve been waiting to ask this question. So, I have an interview next week for an internal position. Opportunities like this are really, really hard to come by in my organization, so I want to prepare as best I can. My current position is as a Teapot Maker, and this position would be as a Teapot Quality Specialist. I have gotten a lot of really positive feedback on my work as a Teapot Maker, I’ve trained other people in teapot making, etc. My problem is that my productivity in teapot making (which is a factor, though certainly not the only one, in job performance) is not so great. The reasons for my low productivity are multi-factorial. It’s partly because I am often asked to make the most complex teapots in the office, which takes more time. The aforementioned training also takes away some time when you look at the pure productivity numbers. But my productivity in the last couple of years was also adversely impacted by my own health problems (hospitalized 3x last year), and my father’s serious illness and recent death. My question is, if they ask me about my productivity, should I mention these personal factors? I’m leaning toward no, and just giving the business reasons, but I’m worried that won’t adequately explain it. At the same time, I don’t want to seem like I can’t keep my personal life out of the office or maintain professionalism. What say you, AAMers?

    1. fposte

      I think you mention the personal factors if you took time off, because then they’re explaining time off, but you don’t do it to directly explain the productivity. So “I had a lot of trouble with my mole last year and couldn’t concentrate”–no. “I had to take some unplanned time out last year for surgery and rehab, so these are partial-year stats”–yes.

      1. Hermione

        Agreed. Additionally, if those health concerns have since been resolved, I would also include that information “…these are partial-year stats. Those problems have since cleared up and I’m looking forward to being able to resume my usual productivity of xyz.” If they haven’t been resolved, I’d stick to fposte’s wording.

        I’m very sorry to hear about your father. <3

    2. sittingduck

      Have they mentioned to you before that your productivity isn’t up to par, or are you making that designation yourself?

      If they do bring it up I would mention the complex nature of the Teapots you have made, but leave out the personal stuff. Is it something that is easy enough for you to calculate numbers on? If so I”d try to calculate it based on the time you were actually at work, no one can fault you for not being productive when you aren’t at work – so really the productivity should be based on the time you spent at work divided by the number of Teapots you made – does that make sense?

      If you do need to mention something, I’d just say that you had some family matters/health matters to deal with that took you away from work more than you would have liked, but you don’t anticipate that being a problem int he future (if thats true).

    3. HR Recruiter

      That’s a tough one. Normally I’d say leave personal information out of it. But since its an internal interview they may already have an idea that you had some personal issues. If they bring up the subject it may be appropriate to say that you had health and family issues that impacted your work but those are no longer factors and you have learned to work through difficulties.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I am not sure how quality specialist would be hinged on productivity levels. But, okay. It’s clear that you know many aspects of production. Your boss must have been satisfied with your numbers because you are still there and you are given the tougher jobs. They do not give tough jobs to slackers.

      Can you do the basic tasks at a reasonable speed? I am thinking the tasks that an entry level person would have to learn or do in your department. If you had to train someone to get their speed up, could you offer pointers that would help? You must be aware of the common pitfalls that come from working too fast. So as a quality specialist if you see X problem with Y teapot then you know the person is working too fast and not allowing time for A or skipping step B and so on. Be sure to talk about your awareness of these pitfalls and show that you can diagnose the problem based on the work you have done. In short draw their attention to the fact that productivity levels are part of the job but not the sum total of the job.

  27. Fireye

    Hello all!

    I am one of the lucky ones who has a great stable job with wonderful benefits working with really good people who support each other and I love going to work every day. This is the first time I’ve not actively been job searching and simply enjoying where I am. Last week, however, I stumbled over a job opportunity closer to my family in a facebook group and am considering applying. I’ve got my resume ready to go and have been mulling over writing the cover letter for a few days now. Although I love my job and where I live, the pull of returning home and being close to family has me interested in the new job.

    The new job would be a minimum 32% raise based on the stated salary (not counting negotiation opportunities) and moving would mean a 13% decrease in the cost of living. The job would be a lateral move, doing pretty much the same things I do currently, but it would be to a bigger system where there may be more opportunities to move up, though right now I’m enjoying the level I’m at and am not sure I even want to pursue management. On the other hand, even though the salary is much lower where I currently work, I earn 4.5 weeks of vacation per year with the option to roll over unused time, as well as having generous sick leave and retirement/health. I’m 2 years out of grad school so I have many, many years left before even thinking about being able to retire.

    Obviously I’m purely speculating and am not in any way assuming I will get an interview or an offer, but I’m curious to know what the AAM community thinks. Would you leave a great place for a 32% raise and the unknown? Or, would no amount of money lure you away from a very good job? What’s your personal tipping point to where you just can’t say no to the new job opportunity? Any advice on choosing to stay or go, or other things that might be worth considering?

    1. Christy

      Definitely apply. There’s no harm in applying! A 32% raise early in your career is huge. It’s huge. And you’re under no obligation to take the job. Only take it if it sounds like a good match and the benefits/pay/work-life balance is there.

    2. Curious

      You sounds like you’re in a fantastic place. I’m jealous, so I recommend staying. What you have is pretty rare-a great work environment doing work you love. The grass isn’t always greener.

      1. Fireye

        Yes, grass is greener syndrome is a big worry of mine since my first job in my first career was 3 years in an awful environment with horrible and petty coworkers and bosses. I have since been very successful at choosing employment more carefully, but I’m very aware I have a great thing going.

    3. voluptuousfire

      Go for it! A 32% raise is well worth an application based on that fact alone. Even if you don’t hear from them, you at least know you gave it a good shot and you won’t wonder about what could have been.

    4. Lucky

      Vacation time is negotiable. If you get an offer and their standard vacation benefit is 2 weeks, it may be hard to get 4.5, but you may be able to get up to 3 or 3 1/2. YMMV, but this has never not worked for me — when I think I’m close to their salary limit in negotiations, I always ask for an extra week of vacation. I’d rather have an extra week than the extra $2-4K that we’re arguing over; time /=/ $$.

      Plus, since you’ll be closer to family, you won’t be needing those extra days for holiday travel. Avoiding the airport or freeway on Thanksgiving weekend is so worth it.

      1. Camellia

        You know, I see this all the time here – vacation time is negotiable. Where do you all work that has negotiable vacation time? Is it mostly mom-and-pop businesses, or what?

        I’ve always worked in the corporate world and vacation is definitely NOT negotiable. It is set based on parameters such as length of service or level in the organization.

        So I’m really curious as to where it is negotiable.

        1. Ad Astra

          The idea is that vacation doesn’t cost a company any more money. If your salary is $50K with 2 weeks of vacation, and your negotiation-savvy coworker’s salary is $50K with 4 weeks of vacation, both of you are costing the company $50K a piece. In most white-collar environments, both employees would have the same workload and the same expectations for productivity. Companies that refuse to negotiate PTO aren’t doing themselves any favors.

        2. AdAgencyChick

          In my industry, companies try to set it based on a combination of length of service + job title. But at certain levels there’s a dearth of good candidates, so I’ve seen people negotiate an extra week successfully.

        3. Windchime

          I was able to negotiate vacation to a certain degree*, but there were a couple of extenuating circumstances: I was recruited away from my old job, the company who recruited me was in a pickle as far as needing someone NOW, and I was bringing over 10 years experience with me. I think that if I was an unknown person coming in off the street, it would be a lot tougher to negotiate. I also suspect that the more senior you are, the more willing a company might be to negotiate.

          *They wouldn’t bring me in at quite as high a rate as I was earning in my old workplace (8 hours per pay period), but they got close and they compensated by front-loading my PTO account with 25 days to make up for the 5 years I’d be accruing at a lower rate.

          1. Anna

            My employer did something similar. Vacation time was only negotiable for management and mid- to senior-level engineering positions. For my position, the strict limit was two weeks per year for the first 5 years, but I was already earning three weeks where I was (sinking ship) and the pay was the same. When I did not jump at the job offer and asked what was holding me back, I was honest about the total compensation being less than what I currently earned and was offered 5 weeks paid up front to make up for the vacation time I would be missing.

      2. Fireye

        This is my current plan if it gets that far, especially considering I will already be getting a decent pay bump and the vacation time is worth it to me.

    5. Kyrielle

      Go for it – but don’t just accept if they offer. In all cases, *you* are interviewing *them* as well as the reverse, but in this case, you know what you already have. Don’t throw it away – but do consider moving on *if* the job interviews well enough.

      That means you want them to be at least as good an environment as far as people and tasks as what you have now; you want good sick/vacation/retirement (though a little drop in sick/vacation may be acceptable, if the change in cost of living and salary is worth it to you, especially if they’d potentially let you take unpaid time and the salary/COL difference more than offsets that).

      (Good retirement benefits, such as 401k matching, early in your career can lead to a very good retirement at the end of it!)

      I’d definitely look into it. But I wouldn’t accept an offer unless everything looked really good about it, or I was able to negotiate to where it did. (And if the interviews/visits suggest the office environment isn’t as good as what you’d have, I’d be more likely to give it a miss.)

  28. Ann Furthermore

    I’ve ranted here quite a bit about this horrible, unending project I’ve been on for the last year and a half. They went live in July, and the support has been every bit as painful as the implementation.

    I’ve also ranted about how this is the most clueless, oblivious bunch of people that I’ve ever worked with. They called me at 11:00 Tuesday night, woke me up, and told me there was an issue with an allocation process that absolutely HAD to be resolved before they submitted their numbers for the month to our parent company. So I got out of bed, fired up my laptop, logged on and was trying to figure out what was going on. Then they called me back 10 minutes later and said, “Oh, never mind, we’ll just deal with it tomorrow.”

    Are. You. Kidding. Me. Well thanks, jackholes, but now that I’m wide awake and completely pissed off, I’m going to troubleshoot your stupid issue. Which is that you did not follow the painfully detailed instructions I sent you three months ago.

    The good news is that I had a meeting with my boss on Wednesday, and based on our communications back and forth, I was about halfway convinced that I would walk out of that meeting deciding that I had to start looking for another job. I started my resume, and was perusing job websites.

    She came into the meeting and the first thing she said was, “What happened last night was completely unacceptable.” I sent her an email when that happened, and told her that this, and at least a dozen other examples like this, is what has escalated my frustration with this group to the breaking point. We had strongly disagreed about how to support these users for their month-end close, and I was overruled. And exactly what I said was going to happen, happened. I had an opportunity to talk things through with her and explain my reasoning, and she understood. And then, about our terse exchanges earlier in the week, she said, “I think we were both just testy.” That was a huge relief.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      What the fudge?

      Glad that your manager is backing you and hopefully the terse-ness has atmosphere has evaporated. What’s going to happen going forward with this group?

      1. Ann Furthermore

        Who knows? I think my boss understands now why I’m so frustrated. There’s a difference between providing support, and sitting on the phone with someone telling them what to do. I was trying to help someone through something via IM the other day, and from her questions it was clear that she wasn’t even trying to understand what she was doing, she just wanted to sit there and have me feed her every single step without having to think about it — even though the processes have been thoroughly documented in test scripts and training documents. It was the end of the day, and I had to be somewhere by 5:30, so I finally just quit responding. Then she called my manager to complain that I wasn’t “providing support.”

        I did check emails a couple times throughout the evening, and did not see any from her. When I got to the office the next morning, I looked at what the transactions she’d processed, and she had worked her way through it by herself. I have discovered with this group that if they’re forced to figure things out on their own, they can, they just don’t want to. And after I quit responding to this person’s completely inane questions, lo and behold, she figured it out on her own. So now she knows how to do it, and next month, she’ll be able to walk someone else through the process that is also documented in excruciating detail in additional training material I created. That’s what I explained to my boss.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule

      It sucks when you can see the headlight of the oncoming train like that & get hit by it anyway because someone ties you to the tracks.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        It really does. In this situation, there are users in the California, UK, and India. Everyone struggled last month, but things really went to hell in a handbasket when the UK and India teams were not able to meet their deadlines to get things submitted to the US, and it just snowballed from there.

        So this month, I really wanted to go to the UK to work in person with the team there, and then also be more available for the India team. Since the time zones are so much closer together, I thought I’d be able to help them during more of their normal business hours, and they wouldn’t have to work through the night like they did last month. The US team had a tantrum, and said that I absolutely had to be there onsite with them. I really clashed with my boss over it, because I felt very strongly that the best chance of helping them be successful this month was to help their 2 subsidiaries. But I was overruled, and off I went back to SoCal. Where I provided remote support from a conference room down the hall, because about 80% of the time they were pinging me via IM or email instead of talking to me in person. I was so frustrated. So I told my boss that it had been unnecessarily disruptive, and that I was annoyed that I’d missed my daughter’s back-to-school night to come sit by myself in a conference room. She basically said, “Well, you were willing to go to the UK so I don’t understand what your problem is.”

        So when we talked, I reminded her that in the 7 years I’ve been working for her, I’ve never once complained about having to travel, because it’s a necessary part of the work we do (which she acknowledged was true). Plus the frequent flyer miles let me take my family on pretty nice vacations. And if it’s going to be helpful, and add value, then if I have to miss personal things here and there, well, that’s an occupational hazard that comes with the territory. I knew the UK and India teams were going to struggle, so I wanted to be there for them. Flying out there to SoCal to provide remote support from down the hall was not helpful, and did not add value, and was not worth missing an event with my daughter. And guess what, the UK and India teams struggled again because they had no support, and everything spiraled out of control again. I told her that I really didn’t want to travel anywhere this month, but I would be willing to go to the UK to work with the team there, because it’s clear they’ve been given zero guidance by their leadership and they’re just guessing about what they need to do. It is the absolute worst to be in a situation like that, and I feel bad for them because they’re in such a crappy situation. After we talked through that, she finally got what I was saying.

    1. KathyGeiss

      I have a whole range of responses based on how egregious it is, who says it and how I’m feeling that day. Some ideas:

      -straight-faced “wow” with a walk away
      – straight-faced “please don’t say things like that to me”
      -walk away, compose myself, come back calm and explain that I found their comment offensive and would appreciate if they would refrain from using that language/sharing those views/etc with me at work
      -(when it’s a customer) remove myself from the situation or help the target of the harassment remove themselves. Have a chat with other colleagues there about how best to deal with that customer in the future.

    2. T3k

      If’s a male making a remark about women “Oh look, it’s a male that’s stuck in the 50s. I didn’t think I’d see one of your kind outside a museum.” Specifically if they make the “women belong in the kitchen” comment, I’d go “Yep, and that’s also where the knives are…” then give a devious grin and walk off.

      If making remarks isn’t your approach, call them out on it “You know that was a sexist thing to say, right?” and if they try to say it wasn’t, tell them why it is.

      1. INFJ

        Ugh. If I like/know the person well, I try to explain why it’s sexist. However, it’s almost never interpreted as me giving my point of view on the situation, but rather me being “sensitive.”

      2. Sweaty

        Tell them to go back to Saudi Arabia – especially if they are white (all my coworkers are white so I use this line at work sometimes). I wouldn’t say this if the person might actually be from Saudi Arabia.

        My dad’s favorite is “women shouldn’t be allowed to drive”, and I always respond, “you should move to Saudi Arabia – you’d fit right in!” This angers him tremendously because he hates Saudi Arabia.

    3. Malissa

      My go to is, “I’m sorry what did you say?” In a genuine tone like I didn’t really hear them. This gives them a chance to save face. If they utter the same word again I just look at them and walk away.

    4. AnonAcademic

      If someone is more clueless than malicious I’ve found laughing at them like they said something funny throws them off. “Hahahaha, women should be in the kitchen – good one Gus!” Works well with elderly men who think they’re being paternalistic when they’re actually being sexist.

    5. A

      Call them out. “That is a sexist remark, and is inappropriate. I cannot control what you say or do outside of work but I expect that you can conduct yourself as a professional while you’re here. Professionalism is not sexism.” Repeat it every time and if it continues more than a couple of times, escalate. Zero tolerance.

    6. AcidMeFlux

      Stare blankly at the offender, and repeat the comment in a monotone. “Women are too emotional for X kind of work”. Stare silently at them for a moment. Repeat “Women are….”. Shake head. Walk away, shaking head and repeating “Women are…”. You haven’t engaged in confrontation, but it still freaks them out.

    7. Lord Baltimore

      As an observer: “Dude. Line. Crossing it.”

      As the target: “Huh? I don’t get it,” or, “Say that to may face again and I’ll rip yours off,” depending on the office culture.

    8. Wanna-Alp

      Sometimes I deal with a “Hello, young [my first name]!” (a greeting that none of the men in the office get), with the response “Hello, old [greeter’s first name]!” Often it gets a chuckle from one of the other men in the office.

  29. Gene

    I’ve been thinking about mandatory Public Service for two years after highschool. Military/AmeriCorps/Peace Corps/Something akin to the WPA/Whatever. No deferments other than severe mental deficiency – there’s something out there that everyone could do.

    Ignoring the good/bad of that idea, what I’m interested in here is your views on how this would affect the business world. Once it is imposed, there would be a two year time period where there would be no new HS grads available, there would be a two year gap in university enrollments. The “new” employee cadre would actually have some real-life experience prior to entering the work world.

    Thoughts?

    1. The IT Manager

      People who hire high school grads probably have limited impact because they can hire people who graduated two years ago.

      The universities whose main customers are the recent high school grads (not all but mostly) would lose most of their income for two years and have to layoff instructors and I’m not sure that they could recover. And it would never be implemented because of this impact.

    2. Technical Editor

      I cans see elite schools making a one-year service assignment a requirement for admission, thereby making it compulsory for only the most motivated students. Who knows, maybe it would have a ripple effect?

    3. Kat M2

      It would have to depend on the program, for sure. Peace Corps actually isn’t something most recent high school grads can do-most positions require a four year degree or five years work experience (the latter in a trade or technical field). They go by what the countries want-a lot of them want people who have an education background or a health background, as well as a few engineers, plumbers, farmers, etc. I point this out because it’s not as well understood and, as an applicant myself (and former AmeriCorps member), I constantly have to correct a lot of my relatives.

      That said, I think it would be a great complement to a diploma and I think, even during the two year transition program, companies would find themselves hiring more experienced people and those positions would probably pay more.

    4. Chriama

      Mandatorily enforced by whom, the government? Not every 18 year old has a reliable family situation, so it would have to pay well enough that someone supporting their household would choose this over other entry level work. Honestly, it wouldn’t affect the business world all that much. Other countries have education programs which incorporate real-world work experience (e.g. Germany), and I think that’s a better idea than mandatory public service — honestly, the biggest impact would be a bunch of PO’d govt. employees trying to deal with a bunch of snot-nosed interns who are just killing time and collecting a paycheque.

    5. OriginalEmma

      In the US, we haven’t even gotten around to the concept of a “gap year.” I’d like that before any mandatory public service.

      Can we add mandatory part-time retail and food service employment to that as well? We’d be a whole lot more patient, understanding and charitable if we all understood how tough it is to work those jobs.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Which work world are they entering? If it’s the work world of building dams/bridges/roads then, okay, the WPA is relevant. Same thought with others.
      But let’s not put reluctant interns next to a soldier who is fighting for his life. Matter of fact, let’s not put them anywhere that lives are at stake.

      What is the goal to teach business skills or to just teach a general work ethic? I don’t think building a road is going to teach folks about business. Unless the intern went to a tangent arena, the experience is probably not that meaningful to an average business person.

      I think that you would find that the list of exclusions will have to go well beyond the mental deficiency exclusion you mention here. Additionally, if you channel a bunch of people into a place they do not want to be, the results can be a disaster.

      Okay, picture you are the foreman of a road crew. You are repaving a road. You have 15 people working for you. They don’t want to be there. They know that they have to be there for the next two years. How will you motivate them to do a good job everyday? How do you assign tasks? Who gets to drive the Big Rigs? How will you get them trained to do the work?

      I get the general drift of your idea. I felt that high school* was totally irrelevant as preparation for the work world. And college, although much more interesting, was about as irrelevant.
      Another problem I see is that some people do not fair well in our school system. They actually need hands on involvement. This could mean car repair, computer programming, space technology, heck it could mean almost anything. These are people that cannot sit in a classroom day after day. If forced to sit there they will fail, it’s 100% certainty.
      My father got Cs and Ds mostly through high school. He went on to get 50 patents. It’s not that he was stupid or lazy, it’s that he had no connection to the material presented in high school. I have seen this happen with quite a few people.

      *High school. Dear friend was a high school teacher. Put her in a class room and she was on top of her game. She retired and went to work doing retail. She was absolutely appalled by what she saw and what she learned. Her conclusion was “our schools do nothing to prepare students for the world of work.”

      Long answer made very short: I think it would delay the same problem by two years.

    7. Anx

      I don’t think they would have the experience employers are looking for, though. I don’t think most young people are devoid of skills, but that too MUCH of their experience is volunteer work or internship or fellowship or military experience, etc.

    8. GreatLakesGal

      My understanding is that Israel deals with this just fine: there is mandatory military service after high school, followed by University or work.

      Any Israeli readers out there to comment further?

      1. Observer

        Well, there are a lot of deferments other than severe mental deficiency. On the other hand, these kids come out of the army (or national service) with some “soft” skills that are relevant to any work situation – most importantly, that you don’t get to do only what you like or want to do.

        The thing is that these are not a bunch on “snot nosed volunteers and interns” but soldiers like all the rest of the soldiers in the army. And they are fighting for their lives, or not, just like any of the other soldiers in the army. (Not all soldiers are in combat or combat support positions.)

        I’m not Israeli, but I have family in Israel, and many friends and acquaintances from Israel.

  30. T3k

    Not directly a work update, but I got the fee waived to take a Javascript class this month to help me get one step closer to a better job.

    And yesterday I almost wanted to flat out quit because things were so disorganized, it felt like nothing was getting done and it was like “Do this, and this, and this and this… why haven’t you finished the last task yet?!” Well, if I didn’t have to chase them down for every task to clarify things on it, I’d finish a lot quicker! Imagine that…

  31. KathyGeiss

    I’m curious on others opinions on this potential opportunity. A woman I work with will be taking a year mat leave (I’m in Canada, this is normal) and I’d like to “try out” her job. This is pretty normal here too. I’m not interested in her job for a long time but having that experience for a year would help me do my job better. It’s a pretty unique opportunity as there is no one else in her role that will be likely to take leave anytime soon.

    But! There are lots of rumours flying that our competitor wants to buy us out (read: lots of articles on Bloomberg in the news and open talks of hostile take overs). I’m a bit nervous about potentially being in a “temporary” position if a buy out was to happen.

    I know I can’t predict what will happen but is this a reasonable concern?

    1. NacSacJack

      Its a concern, but not one in your control. Companies merge and break up at a moment’s notice. What you need to do is remind yourself, it’s not in my control, therefore it’s not worth losing sleep. With that being said, you will turn and churn on it, just try to keep it down. As for the mat leave opportunity, I say GO FOR IT!! I’d love a change to try out a job. It shows you’re willing to change and try new challenges. If nothing else, it shows you that you can try out new opportunities.

    2. TheLazyB (UK)

      In the UK your substantive post might be filled temporarily but it would yours to go back to if something went wrong. Is that not the case in Canada?

      1. Jasmine

        It is, but it sounds like the original poster knows that, and just wants to try it out for the time of the leave.

    3. Not So NewReader

      You could get bumped out if you stay at your current position, also. I think that levels the playing field between the two jobs.
      I think you should go for it. Check it out, see if you can get some type of assurances that if there is a buy out or if the lady comes back they will get you into a different slot.

  32. TheExchequer

    Happy Friday and three day weekend for me!

    Yesterday marked my first month at my new job! I still feel overwhelmed and sometimes incompetent – but I get paid on time and I’m starting to do better work.

    One of the things I didn’t realize that I would like so much about my job is that it is in the middle of a food mecca. Old job had a 30 minute lunch and was only close to a slow and mediocre Thai place and a Jack in the Box if you didn’t mind spending your entire break getting there and back. New job has an hour lunch break and more food options than you can shake a stick at: Mexican, pizza, Chinese, fast food, delis. I almost always bring a lunch and still end up saying screw it on some days. I think I need to plan a bit more money for lunch out and a little less for groceries, but it can be a tough thing to plan!

    1. W.

      Food is so important as is space! Last job was rural hell and there was no where to get away from work, or tune out. Def know the difference it makes.

    2. Nikki T

      I usually just treat myself to lunch on Fridays. It usually helps incentivize me to bring my lunch because on Friday I get to have X. I’ve burned through a lot of money on takeout and finally got a handle on it this year.

      I’m glad for you, it’s great to have a *nice* lunch hour, even just to take a walk and/or people watch.

      1. Ad Astra

        That’s a great idea and I’m going to try it next week! I’m usually pretty good about bringing my lunch but as the week goes on I start feeling deprived (first world problem for sure) or I don’t have time to pack a lunch (because I hit snooze 30 times). This might keep me in line.

        IME, it also helps to bring lunches you really want to eat. Lately, I’ve tried some new dinner recipes that turned out to be a hit, and bringing those leftovers for lunch is so much more exciting than my cold, flaccid turkey sandwich.

        1. Blue_eyes

          Having a lunch to look forward to can make all the difference! At OldJob I used to allow myself to get breakfast at Starbucks (well, actually it was Caribou) OR order Jimmy Johns for lunch (it was the only place nearby that delivered) once each week. If it was a bad week, sometimes it was Starbucks AND Jimmy Johns. I also brought a frozen meal (like Lean Cuisine) once a week. Suddenly only having to think about lunches 3 days a week made it much more doable and I didn’t get tired of sandwiches and leftovers.

        2. Nanc

          Train yourself to pack your lunch the night before! I usually make mine while I’m making dinner and then I just have to grab the bag out of the fridge.

    3. RoseRed

      I love the super-rural area where I live now, but I miss living in the city for the food! Just down the street from OldOldJob, there was an amazing Indian buffet, a taco place with $1 Taco Tuesdays, a coffee shop, and a million other quick, easily-accessible places within a couple blocks. It was amazing.

      Now I have a 30-minute working lunch, and only a handful of places that offer delivery. At least it encourages me to cook more!

  33. Hlyssande

    My team is trying to implement monthly lunch outings (rotating restaurants by vote, we pay for ourselves, etc). Today only two of us can make it, and I’m regretting saying yes to still going because the other one is the coworker I dislike the most (he has a history of getting away with saying some pretty awful stuff). But I already agreed to it, so…Yep. I’ve never been to the place, but I’ve heard good things.

    Wish me luck!

    1. Hlyssande

      It went better than expected, hurray! The food was pretty good, and we kept conversation to pretty safe topics.

  34. Michelle in Ontario

    Hello there,

    I am looking for any advice I can get about a situation that happened to me an hour ago. A company that has been in my top 5 targets for years finally called me today to arrange an interview. However, the date that the HR rep gave me will be impossible as I will by on a 14 hour flight that day. When I said that I would not be available on that day but I would be happy to interview on any other day I was told: “Sorry, this is the only day we will be conducting interviews for this position.”

    The rep said that she would be in touch with me if the HR dept. decided to add additional interview days. I’m pretty disappointed at the moment. Is there any way that I can salvage this?

    Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom.

    1. E

      They are being extremely inflexible on this. I’d suggest just a brief email follow up that you appreciate the consideration for the position, would love to be considered if their schedule for interviews opens up beyond the one day that you aren’t available at all due to being on a plane, and let it go from there. Not much you can change.

      1. Michelle in Ontario

        Thanks, I am going to try this. I looked up the young woman who called me on Linked In and see that she is an HR student with one month of experience on the job. It’s likely that she is following her script to the letter and isn’t prepared to handle scheduling conflicts.

        It’s just very bizarre to me. I’ve actually had two other occasions where organizations were happy to conduct interviews with me remotely due to scheduling conflicts.

        1. Artemesia

          I don’t know how high level a position this is but I remember when my son who is a hot prospect in his field was interviewing and a company he had some interest in called and the contact invited him to a ‘job event’ (or some euphemism like that ) He responded ‘job fair’? I am not interested in that. He was pretty offended by their expectation that he would go through a process designed pretty much for high school grads and similar entry level types when he was already a high flyer in a highly skilled and competitive industry. It totally turned him off on the company so that when someone called an hour later to want to fly him in for interviews, he declined.

          I note this because you may have an inexperienced HR person (as surely the one who called my son was) who doesn’t understand the important of the position she is filling and the rarity of great candidates like you. It would be good if you could get word to the organization that you will be on a 14 hour flight that day but would be interested in interviewing another day.

  35. Hoping I'm not recognised

    This is rather long-sorry!

    I’m in the UK. I sort of line manage a number of people; because of restructures my position and theirs has not been clear but is getting clearer. I can’t make the decision to hire/fire someone without approval but I will be managing more (still a bit unclear what that means but setting targets/ carrying out performance reviews/approving leave). I also create the rota for freelancers and oversee their work.

    One member of staff has three roles; one I will be managing directly, one of the freelance roles and another role where who the manager is, is unclear; this make her employment messy. There is a reluctance to deal with because it is complicated but it is looking like some steps will be taken towards resolving it (there is a meeting with HR next week).

    The lack of clarity over whether I do manage her has contributed to her viewing me as incompetent and to my lack of confidence in dealing with her and others. Added to this, I started as a volunteer so there is some role reversal going on about who is in charge. We work at a ‘secondary’ site, so no one has really been overseeing here, and we’re in at different times. I am at least 10 years younger than everyone else who works at my site and am over 40 years younger than the person I have particular problems with, which matters to them. I have been working on modernisations and changes that are unpopular.

    It has been suggested by other staff that the messiness has led to her claiming more hours than she’s worked and potentially claiming for two of her roles at the same time. I have no firm proof of this being ongoing, just a few recent examples. Without proof (that I can’t get myself) I think any examples I have will be brushed off as a ‘one off’ or an ‘understandable mistake’.

    I’m also suspicious as she is generally secretive and doesn’t want anything she does brought to people’s attention in case it means they make changes. She won’t tell me when she’s coming in (I’ve asked her to she has refused) and I’ve only recently achieved getting her to give her freelance role invoices to me, as everyone else does.

    She has said to me directly that she does not want me interfering with her roles (when I have questioned or said I will check on something; even when I’m saying I will follow up on something she has complained about) but my manager wants my input.

    I have previous experience of her reaction to other people who she has felt were a ‘threat’ to her and I am actually scared by what her response is going to be to me when changes happen; it will be seen by her as my doing. Her response previously has been subtle but nasty and contributed towards other people leaving. Management has put this down to personality clashes and said that they can’t and won’t get involved in cases like that.

    What I’d like advice on is if I should say anything about claiming for hours she hasn’t done or double claims? Should I pre-empt any backlash from her about changes by voicing my concerns? And how on earth can I get out of this with a professional reputation and respect of other people I work with? With hindsight I could have handled things better earlier but I am/was inexperienced. I’m at a point where I just don’t like her and feel that however impartial and rational I try to be that might be clouding my judgement.

    1. fposte

      I think the problem lies above you. This place sounds pretty screwed up–you don’t know if you’re actually managing people, nobody knows how many hours this employee actually works, etc.

      If so, you can’t fix that. What you might be able to do is go to your manager and say “There’s been some question about Lavinia’s hours. Since she’s never had an official manager, they’re not getting tracked. I wanted to alert you in case you wanted to take action–and also to request that if you’d like me to handle it, we three meet together and make it clear to Lavinia that I’ve officially become her manager.” In general, people in this kind of place are often reluctant to embrace structure, so I’m not surprised you’re having pushback; however, they’re sometimes okay with charge being taken as long as they’re not the ones to take charge. So I suspect that the only way for there to be a clearer responsibility for Lavinia is for you to ask for it and then to use it.

      I think there are people here with more experience than me on the actual hours-claims areas. My inclination, however, is to clarify with her going forward on what’s acceptable and consider any extra pay to be the company’s penalty for being ditzy.

        1. Hoping I'm not recognised

          Thank you for the reply, that’s sort of what I was thinking, look for clarity going forward and leave any issues of pay going back alone, just wanted an outside opinion that I wasn’t entirely off base!

    2. Not So NewReader

      I hope I can say this right- use less words when you talk to your bosses. I know you had to give us the idea of all the messiness going on. But when you talk about this person here with your bosses keep it short and get to the punchline fast.

      If you do become her boss, let your boss know that she has driven people out of the company. Let your boss know that you will be documenting starting immediately. Go over the procedure for dismissal. Read up on work place bullies. She may or may not be a bully, but the reading will help you to put what you see into words and accurately describe the undesirable behaviors that you are seeing. You’ll, also, want to cover the things that you know are a problem now- such as when she will be into work. Your boss should tell her that she needs to let you know what her plans are.

  36. Rye-Ann

    Hi all! Another question this week. Some background: the HR person from a company called me toward the end of July. Originally, it was to schedule an interview, but when she found out that I was moving soon (within the next month or so), we decided to reconnect after I moved. I assumed this meant I was to call her, since I didn’t have an exact date at the time so there was no way for her to know when it would be a good time for me to talk. I ended up moving on the 10th, which is earlier than expected. I think it was later that week that I first called her back, leaving a message. I didn’t hear from her, so I called a few more times, mostly without leaving a message except for the last time that I called, which was this Monday. So it’s been like 3 weeks since I first called her (leaving a total of 2 messages, one at each end of that time frame basically), and I still haven’t heard back.

    My question is: is there anything else I can do besides wait? Someone else suggested to me that I try calling the general company phone number (as opposed to the number she gave me, which seems to be the number for her desk phone) to try and find out what’s going on – whether she’s on vacation, or whether they decided not to interview me after all. I don’t want to be too pushy though, and I fear I may have already gone too far.

    1. fposte

      I think you should drop her an email, if you haven’t, but otherwise leave her alone. And definitely don’t call without leaving a message any more.

  37. AnonyMs.

    I started working for a small company (about 40 employees) less than a year ago. During the interview process, my boss– who is very senior in the company– told me that while the company didn’t offer health insurance, it was on their agenda for 2015 and very important to him. It’s important to me too! I am a strong advocate for preventive care, annual physicals, skin screenings, flu shots, etc. I accepted the job because everything else about it was great, and I’m paid enough that I can afford a very good Marketplace plan (Silver, but still pretty good, though it’s not nearly as good as the health insurance I had at other jobs).

    A few months ago, the CEO announced that they were looking into a company health plan. Great! It was presented to us this week. It is… terrible, frankly. The premiums are very high– the Bronze plan is almost $100 more/month than my plan– the network is limited, and it was just disappointing. Even worse? No employer contribution. I walked away from this meeting feeling almost insulted, but I have a good plan that I can afford and, well, whatever. I also left the meeting reminded that the pay cut I took to come here is even greater than it seemed at first, since my last employer paid 100% of our health insurance premiums (yes– totally rare and a great benefit, though I hated that job).

    However… I think this is a problem with bringing on new employees. I was one of the first people hired who is too old to be covered under a parent’s insurance plan, and I was one of the first people hired over 26 who is also single– no spouse’s company insurance to fall back on. Again, I’m paid well enough to pay for a Marketplace plan, but this is my first job that doesn’t offer excellent health insurance with an employer contribution. We’re trying to grow, and I just think we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by limiting our benefits.

    My question is: how much of a dealbreaker is it when a company doesn’t offer insurance? Or when they have a plan but it’s 100% employee contribution? I actually think the latter is worse than the former, just in terms of how it was presented to us (“look at how great we are to offer this crappy plan, huzzah!”), but I’m curious as to what other people think.

    1. Kristine

      I agree with you, I would rather have no plan than a plan that was 100% employee contribution. I have worked for a company before that offered no health insurance, but they offered other perks to make up for it (flexible hours, free food, etc). If I have to pay for my health care coverage myself then I don’t want to be limited to a few crappy employer-chosen options.

      1. Judy

        Especially since many plans have provisions that you can’t cover your spouse if they are offered insurance through work. I’d be upset if I could have been on my husband’s plan, but now can’t because they offered something at my work, yet I have to pay all of the costs.

        1. Artemesia

          Wow that sucks. At one point the cost of insurance for my husband at his firm was 20K and I could move him to my insurance for about $85 a month — so he dropped his insurance and we added him to mine. He was able to recoup part of that 20K as salary (it was a partnership) It would be dreadful to be forced to take a company health plan that was this bad.

    2. Gillian

      My old job had great insurance for if you were just you – the 100% employee coverage. But they didn’t contribute anything if you had dependents that needed coverage, and the premiums were very high. It was a religious school, as well, so it kept touting itself as family-friendly, when in reality they’d lose good teachers to the public school district every year who couldn’t afford to pay more than half of their paycheck to have insurance for their kids.

      I’ve had serious health problems in my medical history and having good insurance options was a huge (probably the #1) factor when I was job-hunting last year. I turned down my first job offer because they only offered health insurance after your probationary period of 6 months was over, and I didn’t want to have to pay COBRA for the interim.

    3. the gold digger

      It is a total dealbreaker. I would not even waste time interviewing at a company that did not offer insurance.

      And if they don’t contribute anything to the premium, they are not offering insurance. They are giving you an application somewhere.

      1. L

        +1. I’ve declined positions that had really crappy insurance attached to them as well.

        Health insurance is usually the second largest portion of your overall compensation. If a company doesn’t offer health insurance, they need to make that up in a BIG way.

    4. Ad Astra

      My husband is a government employee with great insurance (100% paid for him, and it was 100% paid for me when I was unemployed, but now it’s like $100/month with very reasonable copays), so it wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me right now.

      If I didn’t have access to such a great plan through my spouse, the insurance thing would be an absolute dealbreaker for me. What is the advantage to having a company-offered plan if it’s 100% employee paid? I would think most employees would rather just go through the Marketplace, but maybe I’m missing some benefit to going through the employer?

      If you’re competing with larger companies for talented hires, offering no insurance or crummy insurance is going to hurt you.

      1. AnonyMs.

        That’s exactly what I think. Especially your second paragraph– what’s the advantage? I don’t see one, except having an agent to do legwork and walk you through the process. I think it’s sad that our employees who are about to turn 27 will look at this and think it’s their only or best option. I can’t say anything to them– it would be bad politically– but part of me wants to call all of them and beg them to research their options first. Those that do come to me for advice (office therapist, right here)? I will say exactly that.

      2. Anonymous Fish

        If I remember correctly, the advantage is that you can buy it with your pre-tax dollars, rather than post-tax dollars. That’s better than a sharp stick in the eye, at least.

    5. AMT

      That is so terrible, I don’t know what companies are thinking sometimes. My husband has had to turn down jobs because of the lack of insurance (for years he was uninsurable and any HIPPA-plan we could continue on cost as much as his salary!) – I really really hate our insurance system in the US, it is completely horrible. For me insurance has always been a major component of considering accepting a job – unless my pay is doubled I probably wouldn’t consider a job without insurance (and employer contributions!)

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      You know, this makes me wonder about discrimination issues. I am not a lawyer, or an HR person, but my understanding is discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional to be illegal. That is, if your business policies or practices result in an all-under 40 workforce, that could be illegal. I wonder whether we’ll see some case law about that as the health care economy evolves.

    7. same situation

      Is there room for flexibility to WFH at all at the company? I’ve stayed with a company longer than I should have because there was so much flexibility in when I could come in and with working from home..only had partially paid premiums, no PTO or paid holidays and low pay.

      Eventually I took another job because I really needed benefits and higher pay, and I lucked out, got $5/hour more, I got premiums covered 100%, 3 weeks PTO and 10 paid holidays……but no flexibility in times to be at work and only on the rare occasion could I work from home. I was so much happier happier at my first job, this one burned me out and I gained 10 pounds while I was there.

      Unfortunately, I recently got laid off and finally found a new job..luckily it only took a month and I got another raise along with it, $8/hour more! I knew insurance wouldn’t be provided as I found that out during the interview and I heard previous people had left for jobs with insurance. However, I really can’t afford to be unemployed and with a 44% raise in salary, I figure I won’t mind paying for insurance. I didn’t think about how I won’t have dental insurance though (which I wish I took advantage of) and did not account for no paid holidays/sick days/PTO which brings the value of my salary down a lot.

      I’ve already accepted the offer and I am so annoyed at myself for not negotiating a higher hourly rate to help make up for the days I won’t have work. The only thing that’s keeping me from rescinding is 1) I need to find something ASAP and 2) This place is SUPER close to my house, I don’t have to get on any main roads to get there and 3) It seems that I will have a lot of flexibility in when I put my hours in and I won’t have to spend my whole day working there everyday, and flexibility is something I REALLY miss so I honestly think to me, it’s worth it for now (and hopefully I can handle it for 2-3 years since I got laid off after 10 months and really don’t want to job hop).

      Sorry I started rambling on but basically, offer some other type of incentive (flexible start times, WFH) that could provide a better work-life balance, if people value that more, they may not mind the premiums as much.

    8. NDQ

      Healthcare is a big deal. I have a great government employer plan. I pay a portion and opted for the cheaper high deductible plan so that I could fund an HSA rather than the FSA.

      I think hiring great people will be tough for your company.

      NDQ

    9. BRR

      As others have said, dealbreaker unless I had spousal coverage or your employer offered something. Higher salary, tons of PTO, flexible work schedule and telecommuting, shorter work week.

    10. Anx

      I think it’s better to have no plan because then you don’t have to worry about wonky calculations. If your employer offers you an affordable option (I think premiums under 9% of your income) you won’t qualify for a subsidy.

      I sometimes wish my employer gave me a pay cut and paid for my insurance. My income is too low to depend on ACA subsidies (I got some for part of this year, but I’m losing it). I’ve never had employer based insurance or been on my parent’s as an adult (that only benefits young adults whose parents have group insurance)

  38. HigherEd Frustration

    Hi guys,

    I just had an interview where they asked me about salary expectations. I mentioned that I looked at the guide, but ended up giving them a number 2-4k dollars less than the salary guide for the position. Should I mention my mistake in the thank you email? Or just let it go, as I would be happy with the starting salary that was mentioned in the guide? This is for a University position, so it seems like the salaries are pretty much within the given range. I was nervous and not prepared, and now my anxiety is making me unsure of the correct course of action. Any advice would be great!

    1. fposte

      I would wait until they come back with an offer. If the offer is guide range, then hurrah, end of problem. If the offer is what you stated as an expectation and you want guide range, you operate delicately. “Thanks, I’m excited! I did want to ask about something, though–during the interview discussion, I now realize underestimated the usual range for this position, and I wanted to see if there was room to move to $X.”

  39. Slimy Contractor

    What are the tired, unfunny office “jokes” you wish would die forever? Here are my top three:
    1. “This must be the local,” when the elevator makes a lot of stops.
    2. “We’re on the same schedule!” when you see the same person in the bathroom more than once in a day.
    3. “Shall we dance?” when you unsuccessfully try to pass a coworker in the hallway.

    Can we just stop with these? Please? ARRRRRGGHHH.

    1. Christy

      Hah, I love the first two. I almost wish I had occasion to use the elevator so I could use the first line. I also like stuff like “Happy Friday” though.

      I do think there’s nothing to be done other than getting over the dislike. There’s some things that will never change.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        On no! I do the “express” vs. “local” joke! (Which I’m not sure everyone gets, because we don’t have commuter rail where I live, but I grew up somewhere that did.) However, I only do it as a response to a comment when I think it’s a joke the other person will appreciate. In fact, I think I’m the only one who makes the joke where I work.

        I’ve never said #2, but I have done the “We have to stop meeting like this!” when it’s someone who I see in the same place at the same time more than twice in a row. (Once again, know your audience.)

        1. Slimy Contractor

          Oh, yes, “We have to stop meeting like this!” I haven’t heard this one in awhile, but it’s definitely on my list. :)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      OMG, “This must be the local”– haaaaaaaate. Hate it. With a passion. I used to work on the 45th floor of a building, so of COURSE the elevator would stop a lot at the end of the day. Was it annoying? Yup. Was that joke tired? YUP.

      My current workplace has excellent office jokes that I hope stay forever, like saying “Awesome!” a la Cecily Strong as The Girl You Don’t Want to Talk to At a Party and “I need to focus” with the vowels in “focus” transposed. We are a small and mercifully like-minded group.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I work on the fourth floor of a building with slooow elevators. The worst is when the door is closing, someone presses the call button to open it, then hits 2 and say something like, “I’m going to make you late! [giggle]” Yes, that’s very funny. Especially when they then hold the door open for someone who’s going to 3. Then I wonder if a walk up the unventilated stairs in high heels is really such a bad thing after all…

        (For the record, I understand that not everyone can take the stairs, but I have a hard time believing that the number of people who take the elevator to the second floor where I work couldn’t just take the stairs. I would, but I’m usually either carrying something or know that I’m going to be breathing heavily before my floor…)

        1. Slimy Contractor

          Our elevator also has that “feature” where if you’re being “nice” by holding the door for someone, it ends up buzzing loudly at you, telling you to get out of the doors, and taking forever to close up and stop moving. We have six elevators–just wait for the next one, it’ll only be 20 seconds!

        2. Delyssia

          I used to work on the second floor of a building with 10ish stories. I felt very bad every time I got on the elevator full of people and had to get off on the very next floor. But from inside the stairwell, the doors only opened onto the first floor (they were locked from inside the stairwell for all other floors–I don’t think I’m explaining that well). So you couldn’t actually take the stairs to the second floor. I don’t know if this is a local thing, but it seems to be surprisingly common for buildings to have stairwells as out only or emergency access only.

          The thing is, I never knew if people on higher floors knew that you couldn’t take the stairs up in the building, so I’d want to explain, but I also didn’t want to be That Person, so I’d bite back the urge to explain… The whole thing just drove me batty.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            Since my building is only tenanted by people who work for the same company, we all know that you can get in or out on the 2nd floor. But I have seen that setup before when I’ve had to go to appointments, and it drives me batty! Also, why do so many buildings “hide” the stairs? If I only need to go up or down one floor, I’d much rather use stairs than an elevator.

      1. Slimy Contractor

        Oh no! I’ve done that when I can’t find a price tag on something. You’re right, I bet retail employees hear that ALL the time. I’ll try to cut down on that one.

      2. Nanc

        I always say “sorry for picking the only one that won’t scan!” and now I’ll just say it to myself!

    3. Ad Astra

      I’ve never heard the first one, but I live in an area with almost zero public transit, so maybe that’s why. All three of these are less bothersome to me than “Happy Monday!” or even “Happy Friday!” For some reason, talking about each day as if it were some kind of holiday or anniversary really grinds my gears, even though it’s totally harmless.

      1. Gillian

        We have someone who uses the variation on “Happy Friday” of “Hey, did you know it’s Friday?” Like no one in the office realizes what day it is? They mean well, but… I don’t need to get asked that question every week.

      2. Slimy Contractor

        Interesting–“Happy Monday” and “Happy Friday” don’t actually bother me, and I get annoyed by EVERYTHING. ;)

    4. fposte

      I kind of love repeat jokes. They’re like that favorite pair of jeans that are all broken in and soft and comfy.

      1. Slimy Contractor

        Is that the same reason people quote lines from movies all the time? I’ve always worked with some people who think it is the HEIGHT of wit to repeat something from a movie or a TV commercial. I always think, “I know you didn’t write that joke. Why are you acting like you’re so smart for saying it?”

        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          I quote stuff all the time. It’s no fun when people don’t get the reference! What fposte says.

    5. Tagg

      A little morbid, but I can’t stand when I tell a patient that we’ll see them in a year/six months/two weeks for a follow up and they say “If I’m still alive then!”

      *chirping crickets*

      1. Slimy Contractor

        Oh, that kinda sounds like something I would say, too. I’m not sure I’d say it to a doctor’s office, though–maybe just family and friends.

      1. Ad Astra

        Tuesday is actually the worst day of the week because that’s when the exhaustion from Monday finally catches up with you. Wake up, sheeple!

      2. bridget

        Ha – I started to develop a very similar reaction to the running joke here (which seems to have subsided somewhat) that anytime there was a post even slightly out-of-the-ordinary, there would be a shower of “it’s not even Wednesday yet!” or “it must be Wednesday!” or “wait what, Wednesday is over!”

    6. Maureen

      The one that drives me crazy:

      When doing a group interview, referring to the candidate’s place at the table as, “the hot seat”. I know I’m being irrational in my annoyance, but it’s just so cliche.

    7. DebbieDebbieDebbie

      Healthcare provider here and I have two:
      1) When I evaluate a patient first thing in the morning and ask how they are feeling: “With my fingers!” ugh
      2) The greeter dude on the footbridge into the hospital who could be the product spokesman for Red Bull who declares every Thursday as “Friday Eve!!!!!!” woo-hoo

      1. Slimy Contractor

        OMG, those are both TERRIBLE. And this is the first time I’ve heard either one of them, so I haven’t even had the opportunity to get sick of the repetition yet.

        I think the one I do at the doctor’s office all the time is when they ask me, “How are you?” I always say, “I’ve been better,” because, like, I’m obviously not “fine,” I’m at the freakin’ doctor’s office! :) I bet healthcare professionals hear that all the time, too.

      2. RoseRed

        This is just a personal weirdness for me, but I think pleasantries at Urgent Care are hilarious. “How are you?” Um….not good, otherwise I wouldn’t be here? I can’t tell whether to respond with the usual “fine, thanks” when I’m clearly keeling over from strep throat or something, or be like “honestly, not so great” when they probably already know that. :-P

    8. Big Tom

      We have a printer that actually says “PC Load Letter” when it’s out of paper. My colleague says the line Every. Single. Time. he refills the tray. It hasn’t been funny for 12 years.

  40. anonanonanonanon

    I wrote in a couple of weeks ago about when to follow up with a company about their timelines. I followed advice and waited an extra week before I asked, and they told me they would contact me early this week. Friday and still nothing. I’m kind of in a situation where I am definitely leaving my job (and would love to do so as soon as possible) and at a minimum will be doing some consulting work, if I can’t get this fulltime position at the company I’ve interviewed with. Given that my situation isn’t really a competing job offer, but a situation that would take some time and paperwork to set up to be a consultant, how (and when) should I go back to the company and say I need an answer?

    1. fposte

      In general, I wouldn’t say “I need an answer by x date” unless I genuinely wouldn’t accept a good offer from them after that–it’s informing them about your window, not moving them along. So is there a time when you’d turn down their offer because it was too late, even if it was acceptable pay? Then put a week or so before that.

  41. DMouse

    Wow, things are so much better in the office now that my boss’s boss resigned! “Dan” complanined when the office was messy, but also when I put things away to clean it. Dan had me work on a project assigned to him by HIS boss, got mad at me (in front of other people) that I didn’t do it correctly, then his boss (who is very high up in the company) called me directly and turned out that Dan had completely misunderstood what we were doing. The time wasted on he back-and-forth led to other delays on other projects. One time Dan came to me in a panic that my boss wasn’t in yet because he HAD TO TALK TO HER. When she called me with her ETA, I went in to update him and he looked at me like I was crazy and said, why was I telling him something he didn’t need to know. Another time, he packed up a box in his office and told me to handle shipping it, and that I should get a guy to help lift it. Then when I did, he told me I “made him look stupid” because the guy would wonder why Dan didn’t help me himself. Yay, no more dealing with the craziness!!!

  42. Mockingjay

    Meeting Minutes Saga!

    Big meeting yesterday. Admin Assistant did two (tiny) things for it.

    Day before, meeting prep.
    – Logistics Manager prints and binds brochures.
    – Intrepid Tech Writer Colleague proofs the PowerPoints.
    – I review the agenda and check with Senior Engineer on the final guest list.
    – Logistics Manager prepares visitor badges for guests.
    – Logistics Manager sets up table for coffee and snacks.
    – Admin Assistant does nothing.

    Day of meeting:
    – Logistics Manager arrives early, having picked up donuts and bagels for guests on the way. He greets visitors and issues badges.
    – Admin Assistant sends around a meeting sign-in sheet.
    – Admin Assistant takes lunch orders and calls in order to local deli.
    – I take minutes all day, during briefs in conference room and during demos on the engineering floor. In the middle of the morning brief, Admin Assistant gets hungry, so she just gets up and wanders out to get a bagel and juice.

    Lunch is delivered. She picks hers up and walks back to her office. One of the engineers has to distribute the meals to the guests. Meanwhile, the Logistics Manager is making coffee and refilling the drinks bucket with beverages and ice to ensure everyone has something to quaff.

    She remained in her office for the rest of the day.

    Must be nice. I had a whopping dehydration headache by the end of the day because I couldn’t stop typing long enough to get a drink. I have nearly 30 pages of notes to transcribe today. Oh, and where is Admin Assistant today? “Working from home.” Riiiight.

    1. Lillian McGee

      She sounds like me in my first job… Oblivious. I didn’t know what was expected of me and was humiliated to find out that people thought I was lazy and flippant. But I really was just ignorant and needed guidance. I WANTED to do good work, but no one had told me what I was supposed to be doing!
      If I’m right, her supervisor needs to sit her down and explain to her that she is expected to do certain things during meetings, and tell her explicitly what those things are. Of course, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt!

      1. Mockingjay

        I trained her when she came on board. She has a printed list of duties on her desk. I set up folders and templates for documents on SharePoint – all she has to do is fill them in. I gave her a non-technical synopsis of our engineering work and explained the roles on the org chart. I gave her SOPs and training on all the databases.

        She is a “Chosen One” – Boss’s favorite. He likes her just as she is. Rumor has them both members of the Duck Club. They have been seen being touchy-feely with each other. (Ugh.)

      2. Kelly L.

        Yes this! I don’t know all the backstory here, but does she know she’s expected to print brochures (like, does anyone say so, or send her the info to be printed?) and prepare PowerPoints and badges and such, and pick up bagels on the way, and so on? She might just think that these people do these things as a matter of course.

  43. Alston

    What sites do you guys use to search for jobs? And for what type of jobs? I’m helping one of my friends look right now and mostly it’s Venturefizz or Craigslist. Any other reccomendations?

    1. voluptuousfire

      Indeed was wonderful. I got my last two jobs from there.

      LinkedIn was helpful as well. I’ve looked at admin jobs.

      If your friend is looking for start-up jobs, try Angel List. I can’t say it’s too great but it’s a good start.

    2. KJR

      To recruit, I mainly use Indeed and Careerbuilder. I’ve also used craigslist, career board, and university job boards if the job I’m looking to fill requires a degree.

    3. College Career Counselor

      depends on the field/industry. I like Indeed as a job aggregator, but sometimes you find good listings on professional association websites. I like idealist.org for many nonprofit opportunities.

    4. Blue_eyes

      I like idealist.org for non-profit type jobs. I find that most of their posts seem to be real, with very little spam, repeated posts, etc. I also use craigslist (in fact, the majority of employment I’ve had in the last 4 years has been as a result of following up on craigslist ads). Angel List is good for startups and I also use Indeed sometimes. Plus a few industry specific job boards like the one my graduate school hosts for alumni.

    5. Elizabeth West

      I liked Indeed. I also looked on Glassdoor, which came with the added bonus of company reviews. CareerBuilder here was a bust. The rest of the time, I looked at our state job website. That’s actually where I found Exjob.

      I can’t remember where I saw the first job listing I applied to at my present company (I interviewed but didn’t get it), but I found my new job on their company website.

  44. Grey

    Have you ever read about yourself at Ask A Manager? I don’t mean literally. I mean, have you ever read a story here about a boss or coworker and thought, “Hey, that could be me”?

    Do you walk around barefoot at the office? Do you microwave fish in the break room? Do you have loud personal phone conversations? Have you ever eaten your employee’s lunches? Do you park in the company lot with a “no fat chicks” decal on your truck? Things like that.

    1. Christy

      I microwave fish sometimes. Sometimes that’s the leftovers, which means it’s lunch. It’s usually not white fish, so it usually doesn’t smell that bad.

      One time I microwaved fish at like 10 AM. I’m a bad person.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I microwave salmon patties sometimes. I’m not sorry; if I have to smell burnt popcorn and burnt coffee (people like to go off and leave a millimeter of coffee left in the pot on the hot burner), they can handle my fish smell.

    2. Victoria, Please

      Oh hell yes. Usually when I read about a mistake a manager made and I think “Oh my god, did I do that…yes, I did something a little like that. Don’t do that again.”

    3. SophiaB

      I kick my shoes off under the desk and I have had to run across the office barefoot twice now! I go barefoot all the time in my non-work life, but this is an office where Reception have ties in the drawer because even visitors are not allowed in the building without a tie. It was an massive open office we were in, but fortunately customers weren’t allowed in my department, so I didn’t get a talking to about it. I keep emergency flats under my desk now just in case.

      (Our department is mostly hot desks, but the admin and management teams have specific desks, and their desks have landlines. One of the consultants from a different department would park himself on my boss’s desk and then complain that the phone kept ringing because people wanted to speak to my boss. He’d then tell them that he didn’t know where the boss was, and start talking all sorts of nonsense until I ran across and rescued the phone and re-directed the called to my boss’s mobile.

      Stop answering named phones and getting confused when the caller asks for the person who’s phone it is! The project admins do not like dashing across the office to rescue the poor caller! You could just ignore the phone!)

      1. Colleen

        Wait… what? Your receptionist has to ask people (men only, I am assuming) to put on ties if they are not wearing them when they arrive? Awkward.

    4. Ad Astra

      I often identify with the tales of defensive, unreliable, or argumentative employees. I don’t think those traits describe me on most days, but that’s because I work on it. When people do have complaints about me, they usually fall into those categories. I especially identify with letter writers (or the subjects of those letters) who are constantly trying to get their way through some kind of technicality. If I didn’t know better, I’d be an “Is it legal?” person. Even in my personal relationships, it’s hard for me to accept that a well composed argument isn’t going to force someone to feel the way I want them to.

      1. Kelly L.

        Yes! I still have to take lots of deep breaths and bite back defensiveness when criticized. It’s crap from my childhood and I know it. I’ve also been guilty of “I’m new and I don’t know that yet, but I’ll check.”

        I’ve microwaved fish. I’ve taken my shoes off. I’ve clipped a hangnail. I still don’t know what people mean when they say “styled” hair–in my head, that means curling a few arbitrary parts of it and using hairspray; I keep mine tied back, but I don’t think I do what people are talking about when they say “styled.”

    5. A Bug!

      Regularly. Most often it’s “I could have written that letter X years ago,” though, from someone who’s still figuring out workplace norms and learning how to navigate professional life.

    6. Amber Rose

      A little. I sometimes have a hard time with being too chatty, and I’m a bit of an over-sharer with personal stuff.

      But I’m better than I used to be.

      1. Slimy Contractor

        Yeah, this is me, too. Sometimes I think I’ve never had an unspoken thought. Nobody cares, Slimy! Keep it to yourself! :)

    7. Gwen

      Everyone I know takes their shoes off at their desk. My department is in the back of the office and fairly remote, so if we’re fairly confident no one who cares will see, people definitely walk around shoeless (I don’t personally ever go barefoot, but I’ve walked to the printer with just tights before). Also before I came on here, I had no idea people had so many strong feelings about microwaving…everywhere I’ve worked, people just heat up whatever and we deal.

    8. June

      I feel like I could be barefoot girl! Except with tights and occasionally socks. But I am in a three person office with a rare person wandering in, so I’m not changing my ways!

      1. Not So NewReader

        My boss pads around barefoot, so guess what? Me, too. But I only do it when things are slow and we do not expect anyone.

    9. Chrissi

      Every time there’s a column about talkative people, I kind of sigh and think, yup, that’s me (or was). I feel the need to chime in in the comments too as a mostly reformed can’t-take-a-hint overly talkative talker to try and help nontalkative people understand how to deal with us :)

      1. Slimy Contractor

        Sometimes I overhear people over the cubicle wall talking about something I know the answer to, and I have to bite my tongue and tell myself, “They’ll figure it out. Focus on your own work, and let them do theirs.” It may not surprise you to learn that I was kind of a know-it-all in school.

        1. Blue_eyes

          This is totally me. I’m definitely the person who inserts myself into conversations at Starbucks (“but they were talking about teaching graduate programs, I did one of those and know about the others, they NEEDED my information!”). I hope I’m usually able to butt in fairly gracefully and not overstay my welcome in strangers’ conversations. I was totally a know-it-all too.

    10. DebbieDebbieDebbie

      I am barefoot, random nonstop chatty officemate. But I am extremely happy to report that I am not the out of control pooper!

    11. Slimy Contractor

      I’m always worried that one of the “my coworker talks to much and I can’t get her to shut up and let me work” letters is about me. I’m really lucky that I get along with my coworkers, but I’m trying to do better on cutting down on the chit-chat.

    12. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      We have barefooters, a lot of sneaky barefooters and occasionally I’ll go back, in stocking (tighted) feet and stand on the cool warehouse floor because it feels so good. :)

      Also, have we had a letter about a complete maniac who tries to hunt down the person who microwaved fish or burnt popcorn, calling out loudly “WHO MICROWAVED FISH” ? ‘Cause that’s me. :p

      1. Renee

        I very quietly taped a biohazard symbol to the door of the coworker who microwaved fish at my very small office. It’s still there, like some smelly badge of honor.

    13. schnapps

      I walk around in socks much of the time – never barefoot though. I’ve also slobbed around in flip-flops all day. I put on shoes when I have to exit the office (e.g. – bathroom, lunch) or have to step up front to meet a client. If I’m just standing a lot (not moving around, like when I have to collate stuff), then I wear shoes or my arches will collapse.

      My department head cooks full meals in our kitchen – it’s kind of rough when she cooks fish. And there was this one time she roasted cauliflower in the toaster oven.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        Cauliflower is awful!

        I bite my tongue when people cook smelly vegetables but the smell is probably as bad as microwaved fish. It doesn’t seem to linger as long, though. (For whatever quirks of venting in our building, bad smell in the kitchen area floods the entire first floor and just hangs. Fish will make everyone and everything smell like fish for the entire rest of the day. It’s gagging.)

        1. Elizabeth West

          People near the break room lobbied successfully to leave the door closed because all the chit-chat in there disturbed them when they were trying to work. It also cut way down on the burnt popcorn smell that would drift silent but deadly tendrils throughout the office. Facilities put one of those foot opener things on the inside of the door so people could get out if their hands were full, and we’re all very good about holding it for one another and trying not to slam anyone in the face by flinging it open.

        2. schnapps

          Ugh. I work in a heritage building with really bad ventilation, on the corner of two major roads not far from downtown. Any smells from the kitchen area tend to hang around for quite awhile. My department head got a load of hell for the cauliflower, even from the two vegans in the office.

    14. InterviewFreeZone

      Yep, most in the task vs people oriented discussions. I’m a very empathetic person, but I have super low tolerance for people who use “I’m people oriented” as an excuse for why they can’t answer basic questions about work or their progress on a project, etc.

    15. RoseRed

      I am every employee who has ever talked too much. :-P Every post about overly chatty employees makes me think “whoops, must be me”. I don’t think any of the more bizarre-sounding ones have looked too familiar, but I’m still reading back entries–I’m sure I’ll come upon one of my “eccentricities” at some point.

  45. Zinnia

    Moved to a new city and started a new job about two months ago. It’s going really well–I’m liking the work and the people and have been told I’m exceeding expectations for where I would be two months after hire. Since I’m new in town, I’m still working on meeting people. But I was thinking of inviting a couple of coworkers over for dinner. At my last job, this wasn’t really done. Group lunches were a thing, but nothing outside of work hours, so I’m not sure if this is a general workplace norm and it would be strange to invite people over or not. Thoughts?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      If you have a good rapport with your co-workers, it’s not unheard of, but, as you mentioned, it may vary workplace to workplace. Personally, I’ve never had coworkers over for dinner—only ex-coworkers. I find that makes things less complicated. But if you feel really close to a couple of coworkers in particular and think the feeling is mutual, it can’t hurt to ask them.

    2. T3k

      Do you mean invite over for dinner, or meet some place for dinner? Around here, it’s almost unheard of to have dinner over at a coworker’s place, but fairly common to meet at a restaurant for dinner if they get along well. Most though tend to grab lunch together as it’s easier than trying to make time to meet up outside work hours.

  46. Jennifer M.

    So I just received a 30 day notification on my job sort of. We are essentially a consulting firm. I spend three years out in the field in another country and returned to the home office in April. I was told that I would have time to find a job but after a certain point I would be terminated. Well, I’ve had “internal” work the entire time but none of it has been billable. I was asked to help in Department X which does no billing at all. I was asked to do some short term billable work here and there, but I had the previous commitment in the other department. Fair enough that they want me settled, but I am pissed that someone else who came back before I did has not received a similar notification (happy for her as she is a friend of mine but unhappy at the unfairness). I think it is because she has been doing more billable work than I have. So basically by helping out in that first department and them extending it over and over again, I have shot myself in the foot. Though, there is another department that needs me because they have 2 people going on maternity leave shortly. So if I am terminated, there is an excellent chance that the other department might hire me on as a consultant. Our company policy is that consultant’s get a 25% bump to their daily rate over their full time rate. So this would hopefully cover COBRA while I found a permanent position. I’m just trying to stay positive.

  47. Hlyssande

    Another thing:

    I had my yearly merit review thing yesterday and once again pulled in a good raise and promotion to a new pay grade. They also finally – FINALLY – updated our titles to actually reflect what we do. Yay!

    Imposter syndrome is really kicking my butt, but yay anyway! The raise should take effect in my next paycheck.

    1. Anony-moose

      I just got a raise, too! I’ve been here since October, but our fiscal year ends June 30 so my raise will be retroactive to July 1. It’s 3.6% which makes me happy – it’s more than I was expecting and has helped quell some of the nutso activity going on here.

  48. Incognito Agent

    I’m a regular poster here, but anonymous for today. I am at a job right now where we have a very worrisome manager. This person screams regularly, has irrational outbursts, gives conflicting priorities for work on a regular basis that make it impossible to get any one job done, calls people “f-ing (insert insult here)” in front of other staff and in front of clients, gossips regularly about employees problems that should remain privileged information, and also has very emotional public crying sessions. It has taken its toll on the staff. Many staff have had breakdowns and have sought medical help for depression and anxiety. Upper management either does not know or does not care, and staff are paranoid to report for fear of reprisal. The manager is clueless that the staff are unhappy,as the manager talks regularly about what a good job they do. Turnover is not as high as it would or should be because of the niche area of clients we serve and lack of other jobs in that niche. I think I’m mostly here to vent because it seems the only solution would be for people to leave, but part of me hopes for actionable suggestions. Thoughts?

    1. Swarley

      Yikes. I think I would start by finding out for sure if upper management or HR is actually aware of the situation. Or do you have a good relationship with your manager’s manager? Whomever you talk with, I’d keep it objective and talk about how the manager’s outbursts are impacting morale and productivity. If they choose to ignore it then I’d start looking for another job.

      And it doesn’t sound like your manager is reasonable enough to approach about this due to said outbursts. Good luck.

      1. Incognito Agent

        Thanks for the advice. And yes, I’d be afraid to discuss with manager for fear of being “the bad guy” no matter how politely or objectively I stated it. Manager’s manager is a possible option. I just hope its not a nuclear one. I’m the kind that likes to keep their head down and work at work.

        1. Not So NewReader

          This can change when the fear of not reporting is greater than the fear of reporting.
          Right now those fears are equal.
          “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” I think there comes a tipping point, a last straw, and then you know and you go do it.

          However, just for the mental exercise of it: Is there a way that his own foolishness can be used to unravel him? For example: When he is in one of his screaming modes can a big exec be called down to the office? Can you just happen to be on the phone with Big Wig in the midst of his screaming?
          Is it possible that a client will report him for his verbal abuse? Can a client be encouraged to file a complaint?
          Assuming you are an NPO, are there any monitoring agencies that will come in if a report is filed? You’d have to have something like mismanagement, mishandling funds, abuse of a protected person, something like that.

          And as long as you are doing the mental exercises: Let’s say you report him. Then, what? Suppose he retaliates? What is the worst thing he will do? What will you do if he does that (after you tell HR, “I told you so!”)? If he is just going to scream some more, well you already have that going on. Every day, you know he is going to scream some more.

          He wants everyone to have the same inferior quality of life he has. It looks like he is very effective at reaching this goal.
          It also looks like this guy is headed for a major heart event. Just my opinion, though. Clearly, he is not well on more than one level.

  49. Laura

    I’m on the fence about whether this is work-related or not but since I’m here I’ll throw it up.

    First, and related – on Monday night I went to trivia at a local coffee shop for the first time. There is a team called the Chocolate Teapots !!! So if you live in a small college town in North Carolina and play trivia on Mondays and have a team with a cool AAM reference in your title … hello! Would it be super-weird for me to come say hi next week?

    Which leads to my somewhat work-related question. Which is: how do you make work friends? I just moved for this job. I’m an academic so we have a small cohort of people who are coming in together, which is nice. But that’s a small group. I would really like to make friends with people who are more settled here but am finding that really challenging. I want to make friends and be actively involved here socially without giving the impression that I’m here to play, not to work. Thoughts?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I would TOTALLY just go over and say hi. It’s trivia! It’s fun and crazy! Saying, “I love your name” is a great opener.

      Re: work friends– proceed with caution. I have had several issues where I thought a colleague was cool, we would hang out, then I would realize he or she was a dumbass, or annoying, or just in a completely different zone. Start with suggesting everyone (or a few people) go out for a beer after work, and take it slow. Remember that you want to hang out with people because you like them, not because they’re there.

      1. Laura

        I was on the fence about trying to figure out which table it was. “Hey, are you guys the Chocolate Teapots? Which one of you is Wakeen?”

        1. Blue_eyes

          We could be known as “Friends of Wakeen,” like how people in AA are “Friends of Bill W.” when being discreet.

    2. Lillian McGee

      I heard the term “chocolate teapots” before I started reading AAM. Specifically, “This thing is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.” So they may just be fans of wry simile???

    3. T3k

      Honestly, I don’t really make friends with people I work with. I basically go by “just because we work together, doesn’t mean we get along personality wise.” If I ever happen to meet someone at a job that I actually get along with well, great! If not, that’s ok too.

      Maybe you can check out Meet Up, or see if there are local events that spark your interest and make new friends that way.

    4. Nikki T

      Hmmm..my location could match that description. Now I will have to see what is going on at the coffee shops around town, there aren’t that many…

      Can’t help you on the work friends, mine are starting to get on my nerves :/

    5. Nanc

      Get a library card at your local public library! Ask if they need speakers on [your academic topic here] and give a fun, informative talk about whatever is cool and current in your area and why it’s interesting to the general public. If you’ve written books give a talk on those–even if they’re geared towards other academics–library card holders show up for everything, especially if there’s free coffee and cookies!

      Is there a Chamber of Commerce in your town? Is your university a member? If they are, find out who the liaison is and ask if you can attend one of the greeters or networking functions as a guest. If the Chamber puts on any sort of community event, you could volunteer, even if it’s just a one day thing. You could also ask if they know of a newcomers group. My small town with a university has one–they meet once a month and it’s just a chance for for new folks to mingle and ask lots of questions.

    6. afiendishthingy

      Late, but this just occurred to me as I was reading upthread about someone wondering about inviting coworkers over for dinner. I agree with those who responded saying that would be very unusual in most workplaces, but I’m wondering if academia has different norms or if it’s just my experience. My dad is an academic in a small college town, and lot of my parents’ social circle is other academics. The town itself is very conservative, but the university faculty skews much more liberal. Also many of the faculty are transplants and so naturally find one another. Anyway, my parents have been there thirty years now, and my dad helps with some new faculty orientation stuff, and often will invite whoever he hits it off with there over for dinner. I would try to reach outside of just your cohort and department, see what activities/committees/clubs/whatever interest you, so you’ll have a pretty natural way to meet people who are within the university setting but who you won’t have to see every single day if it turns out they’re super annoying. Not that you have to limit yourself to just academics, of course, but it may be the easiest place to start and then they can introduce you to other people. Good luck! It’s hard making friends as an adult. I have this preconceived notion that it’s easier within academia, but maybe my parents are just unusually social.

      1. Laura

        Yes, I do think academia is weird in this way! Especially when the school is somewhat isolated, not having work friends is basically equivalent to having no friends. I like the idea of trying to find institutional stuff that isn’t related to my cohort/department. Thanks!

  50. Ella

    I need some advice on a situation with our cleaning lady. Let’s call her Jane. We adore her and she does an excellent job. There is a bit of a language barrier, but we have no complaints with her. However, about 6 months ago, her husband, “Joe,” lost his job. Now Joe comes with her to “help” her. He does not do as good of a job as her, but that’s not the problem. Joe is a U.S. citizen who speaks perfect English, but he has zero idea of social norms for some reason. He is constantly bringing up money, like how they don’t have enough to even make a cake for their kid’s birthday (I mean how much does a box mix cost, $1?). Jane I don’t think quite realizes what her husband is saying because her English isn’t great. Meanwhile, we pay them $100 to clean the house every other week, and they actually drive nicer cars than my husband and I do. I’m not judging this, but this is all relevant to the big kicker: They recently asked us to “help them out” with a $4,000 medical bill they have. I am sympathetic to medical bills, but I feel this is wildly inappropriate to ask a customer to give you extra money to pay bills (no talk of a loan, just asking if we could help). They could sell their brand new car to cover it if they want, and asking for money in combination with them constantly talking about how they don’t have any money is making us really uncomfortable. Am I off base here in not wanting to give them money? And any suggestions for how to deflect future comments about this? I’ve suggested to my husband (who is the one usually home when they are there) to respond when they make a comment about money to say “I’m sorry, I feel your pain though, we have tons of student loans to pay!” or “Wow, I’m kind of uncomfortable knowing other people’s financial information!” Those seem kind of cold and awkward, though, and I don’t think he wants to say that. Any advice? We are considering just finding new people to clean the house because it’s becoming a stressful issue.

    1. Bekx

      Maybe a “I’m sorry, it’s just not in our budget.”

      It sounds like Joe is really risking Jane’s job. I’d be uncomfortable in your shoes.

    2. the gold digger

      That is really out of line. I would be super uncomfortable, too, and would probably fire them. (Even though it is really hard to find good help – I had to fire one cleaning lady for letting her toddler daughter scribble with pen on my white sofa. She was so good until then – she even washed windows. “That’s part of cleaning a house, right?” she asked.)

    3. Traveler

      This is really out of line with US cultural norms, but it might not be out of line with foreign cultural norms. Have you done any research into their culture of origin, and how these sorts of things are treated there? It might give you an opening to discussing how things are different here in the US that would be more sensitive, and would leave you feeling less cold and awkward.

    4. Katie the Fed

      I think you’re being a little judgmental and making a lot of assumptions about their finances, but they also brought it on themselves by discussing their financial issues with you. If you’re paying fairly for the cleaning (including enough to make sure she can pay whatever taxes/social security she has to pay because she’s an independent contractor) then that’s the extent of your agreement. But I also don’t think Joe should be coming at all. You wouldn’t let any other employee bring her husband to work. I think you can tell her that you don’t want Joe coming along, but this situation does concern me because he seems to have questionable boundaries and I’m not sure I’d want anyone with questionable boundaries in my house without me there.

      1. Chriama

        Domestic work often has a different standard from other employment situations though. Many people would let their nanny bring her kid to the job, for example. I think it’s fine to request that Joe doesn’t come along, but it’s not inherently unprofessional.

        For this specific request I would just say you’re sorry but you can’t help, and ignore any future comments about finances – just redirect the conversation without even acknowledging what they said.

        However: someone who makes comments like that would make me uncomfortable enough to fire them, just because I don’t want the potential for jealousy in my house. Even if they never do anything but quietly resent me for what they think I have, I don’t want to be the target of their envy. If I ever hired a cleaner it would be through a company rather than a lone person, even though it’s more expensive, because it makes the relationship less personal — I’m just one customer on a list.

      2. Artemesia

        This. People with boundary issues are a risk to have in your home. I would not allow her to have her husband come into your home during work hours. But this one may be burnt. You may have to let her go. My spidey sense is really tingling on this one.

    5. Ad Astra

      Have you considered offering to refer Jane to your friends or family so she can pick up more work? Sure, it’s possible she already works 80 hours per week and doesn’t need new clients, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Or does Joe have some kind of skill (even just mowing the lawn or moving logs) that you or your friends and family might hire him to do? I think those are the most appropriate ways for a client to help an employee who’s hurting for money.

    6. LCL

      Joe doesn’t have zero idea of social norms, he knows exactly what he is doing. He is trying to guilt and extort you into paying more. You must be very nice, because you are questioning if it is even OK for you to not want to give him money. You are even considering hiring someone else rather than directly saying no. As many people before me have made the point, no is a complete sentence. Pay Jane more if you think you should, or don’t. I wouldn’t let Joe in my house anymore.

      1. F.

        I would also be concerned that items of value might turn up missing. Joe sounds like a con-man. Demand that he not come to your house anymore and make it stick.

    7. fposte

      I feel like you’re going unnecessarily into the weeds on this. You do not need to explain to people why you’re not going to pay their medical bills or analyze why how they could or couldn’t pay them. “Sorry, Joe, I can’t help you. Please don’t ask again.”

      (Remember the post earlier this week about “Why do these people always approach me?” I bet Joe has raised this with everybody Jane cleans for, and some of shut him right down already. Feel free to join them.)

    8. Ella

      Thanks everyone for the good advice. I think we’re probably going to part ways. This has made us really uncomfortable and these are people that come in to our home, which you should obviously be comfortable with! As some of you noted though, it’s going to be tough to find a replacement. Sigh.

      1. jimbs

        You would rather fire her than be direct with her? That seems unkind. It might be useful for her to know that her husband is alienating her customers; at least mention that if you fire her.

        “Please don’t bring your husband with you to clean my home.”

  51. Tris Prior

    Had a situation where the boss approved vacation time on the same days for nearly our entire very small company. Apparently he did not notice this (although it was on the vacation calendar that everyone can access) until I called it to his attention, as I’m one of two people who doesn’t have those days off.

    On the plus side, he recognizes that the two of us cannot cover the entire company’s workload and that some deadlines may slip. But he’s not making anyone cancel their plans (to be fair, I believe everyone is traveling). I’m just baffled as to how this even happens.

    1. Erin

      That is silly that that went unnoticed, but hopefully now that it’s happened he’ll know not to let it happen again.

      I do think it would be unfair of him to make people cancel their plans, and revoke time off that he already approved.

      Hopefully, A) He’ll pitch in himself during those two days, and/or B) You can use this as an excellent opportunity to prove your awesome worth at the company.

      1. Tris Prior

        Oh, and, you’re right, it wouldn’t be cool to ask people to cancel their plans. It’s just, everywhere I’ve worked before, there were processes and policies to make sure that everyone wasn’t off at the same time. Maybe this is a small-company-with-no-HR thing.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      While this is indeed a Not Good thing to have happen, I respect your boss a lot for acknowledging that it’s his mistake. Maybe that’s just me projecting these days, but I wish more bosses would say, “Oops! I goofed. Now I must help fix it without penalizing anyone but myself.”

    3. Katie the Fed

      Bosses are human – we make mistakes. I made a COLOSSAL mistake recently with two of my employees – basically promised them both the same special assignment because I completely forgot that I’d had a conversation with one of them. I felt like a total ass and apologized profusely and found a win/win solution for both of them.

      But yeah – we screw up.

      1. LCL

        How it happens? Holiday weekend + one pre vacation injury claim + one soon to be retired and at the DGAS stage sicking out for the whole weekend + me screwing up the DGAS employee vacation because he changed the dates 4 times counting the last minute request + one last minute vacation request approved by me BEFORE the sickouts ’cause it worked on paper + all the usual OT fill in people out of town or entertaining relatives…

    4. Chriama

      Was this a mix-up or a system failure? My boss keeps a calendar of everyone’s vacation requests. If you want time off, she checks the calendar, and if she verbally confirms it’s good we send an ‘official’ request by email that she responds to so that everyone’s on the same page. It sounds like this guy might just be keeping the schedule in his head. Just because there are fewer employees doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time to make a semi-formal process for this going forward.

  52. Potential Librarian?

    Do any librarians read AMA? I’m currently working at a library (been here 1.5 years now!) and am really very happy here. I like the tasks, I like my coworkers, and I like the work culture. But I’ve realized I can’t move up the ranks until I get an MLS or MLiS. The problem is that I’m still paying off my student loans from undergrad, and I’m not entirely sure if I’d be able to make enough as a librarian to still have enough to make rent, eat, and see the occasional movie if I’m paying back two sets of loans. I’ve asked at work about educational assistance but all we’re eligible for is $1,000/ academic year… which is half of what it costs to take 3 credits at the nearest library school (UMD). So, librarian AMA readers:

    1) Do you have any financial difficulties after taking out a loan for an MLS/MLiS?
    2) Do people in the field look down on librarians with cheaper online master’s degrees?

    I love this field and I want to stay in it, but I want to be realistic about how to do so. Thank you very much to anyone who can help!

    1. An Archivist

      I have more student loans from my MLS than I do from my Ph.D. in history. But, yeah, you really do need the piece of paper to move up. Most physical MLS programs now have completely online programs, so you can avoid bias by going with one of those. Simmons apparently now has an entirely online program, and they have a good reputation. But I do know people who got the online degree from San Jose State and haven’t had any problems. Experience is more important than where the degree is from, and you already have a lot!

      1. Potential Librarian?

        Thank you for letting me know about Simmons and San Jose State! I will definitely look into them.

        (Also, I’m really surprised that you’re more in debt from the MLS! If it’s not too forward of me to ask, did you get fully funded for your Ph.D.?)

    2. Erin

      I seriously looked into being a librarian awhile back and ultimately decided not to for just this reason (still paying off bachelor’s degree loans, librarians don’t make a lot of money, etc.)

      I do think it’s possible as you continue working your ample experience can serve as a tool in and of itself to move up, in place of the MLS.

      I’m slightly biased because I recently read basically an entire book on how paying off all debt is essential to move forward financially, but, I would say to hold off on this for now.

      1. GrandCanyon Jen

        I got my MLIS four years ago and never found a full-time library job. I didn’t take out any loans to do it, but it would be nice to have that $10K to use on home improvements… If I moved to a different area I could probably find a full-time job (the library job market is pretty saturated here), but my husband really likes his job, we own a home, and we like our city. I wish I would have taken a library paraprofessional position instead of getting my MLIS. Because I can’t afford to work only part-time, I’m now an elementary-school secretary. With a master’s degree.

    3. Cheddar2.0

      My sister got her MLiS 10 years ago and has been unable to find full-time permanent work since :( Her loans are enormous and she ended up starting her own business after giving up on trying to break into the library scene.

      1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

        I say do NOT get a library degree, and I have a MLIS and a librarian job. The trend in the public library systems is hiring fewer MLIS librarians–you’d do better with extensive public service and event planning experience and tech knowledge. The actual degree program is tiresome and not that rigorous. Overall, the market is in such flux any projections about employement, how to get a job, and where the jobs are are just bullshit.

        Seriously, unless someone is offering tuition help it is not worth it. Keep doing what you’re doing, take on stretch projects, hone your personal interests, and that will be more valuable in the future.

        1. Potential Librarian?

          Thank you very much for the advice, Kerry! I do event planning at the library (which is why I didn’t need a MLS/ MLiS to get the position)- I’m glad to hear that the kind of work I like to do won’t cause me to get further in debt.

      2. Anomnomnom

        I have an MLS and am in a similar position, though it’s only been 5 years for me. I have a temp job outside the library world and work as a Saturday substitute branch librarian.

    4. Anoners

      Librarian here. I wouldn’t say the the extra MLIS degree cost is a burden. I’m in Canada so all my school loans are combined through the government program, so it’s not too much more payment wise (I also managed to pay most of my second year off myself by working). Having said that, grad programs are only about 8 k a year here for tuition (“only”.. ugh). My American friend had to pay 20 k a year tuition. So, I guess a lot depends on where you are and how much it’ll cost you.

      I don’t hire in libraries, so I can ‘t say for sure if people put weight on where you went to school. Most job postings I see just say you need to have graduated from an ALA accredited program. So the school you go to MUST have this or it’s pretty much a waste of time.

      You are in a really good spot because it sounds like you already have your foot in the door. Most people who I know who graduated from a MLIS program are not working in the field. I went to school with lots of people who already worked in a library, and just needed the accreditation to move up. They were in the best position because they pretty much already had a job lined up for them. I have a hard time recommending library school unless the person going is willing to work in a job outside of a traditional academic/public setting. Everyone I went to school with had a super specific niche “dream” job in mind, and once they realized they couldn’t have that exact job, gave up.There are tons of jobs (legal, gov, etc.) that MLIS degrees work well with. Anywhoo, just my views on it.

    5. cataloger

      I got a a graduate assistantship (which waived tuition) during library school, so I didn’t have to take out any loans, but it was part-time and didn’t pay well, so I did have to work other jobs. My first job out of library school was not a librarian position (professional staff for two years) but it did get me the needed experience/reputation to get the librarian position I have now.

      As others have said, many library/information science schools have gone completely online (including University of Kentucky, where I got my MLIS in f2f classses) and it’s no problem. As long as the school is ALA-accredited, it counts; the fact that you have library experience already (yay!) will be a bigger factor in finding library jobs than which school you got a degree from.

      Good luck with whatever you decide!

    6. Fireye

      Librarian here and all I can say is I absolutely love the profession and have not found the hardships others here are posting about. The degree will count no matter if it’s online or in-person as long as you make sure it’s from an ALA accredited school. One thing to consider looking at are placement rates after graduation. I went to a school that has consistently had 100% of graduates enter employment, an internship or a PhD program within a year of graduating. For me that spoke volumes to how well the program was preparing students for what was next (although there is a big difference between an internship and employment). I cannot speak to the loan situation as I only have loans for half of my grad school tuition and none from undergrad carrying over. I did work 3 part-time jobs through grad school to help cover costs but thats not always feasible. Good luck! The profession is changing but it’s been the best move for my career I could have ever made.

    7. Lost in Libraryland

      I’m a library manager and from the perspective at the ‘top’ it seems that all we do is hire – seriously. I know this depends on your sector and location but if you’re willing to move to keep gaining experience, there are jobs both in traditional library settings and in many other ‘knowledge management’ roles. Make sure your degree is ALA accredited and keep building your skills in new areas. Your previous experience counts too. Event management – awesome for outreach librarian positions in public libraries, for example. Every generation of aspiring and new librarians is told that ‘there are no jobs’ and truthfully some really good people aren’t able to find one. Luck plays a role. Low pay? Move on if you can. The degree means you can work almost anywhere in the world and the career is great.

      1. FutureLibrarian

        Not OP, but can I ask what state you’re in? As I posted below, I am currently on the hunt for a job as I graduate in December, and am always looking for the areas doing a lot of hiring!

        1. Lost in Libraryland

          Sorry, Canadian academic library. But check out Library Journal’s salary report to see where the best paid US jobs are. Good luck!

          1. FutureLibrarian

            Oh really? That’s interesting. I happen to live in a border state, and was considering looking for jobs up North.

            Does the degree in the states translate, or is it not worth my time to look?

    8. FutureLibrarian

      Well, as evidenced by my username, I am currently earning my MLIS.

      I’m at a major public university, and while I did have a scholarship last year for a small portion of my tuition, I will end up around 50K in debt, total, for both undergrad and grad. Having a graduate student job neither pays enough nor provides you with enough hours to even make a dent in your tuition. I know some offer tuition reimbursement, but not my program.

      Basically, you need to either have something lined up and guaranteed in your system, or you need to be prepared to pack up and move to wherever the best offer is. I anticipate finding a job (and know many who have), but am prepared to move a long way from home. I’ve also started job hunting already, as I graduate in December.

      Most schools these days offer at least a partially online program or fully online program, and no one thinks anything of it. Graduate school for librarians is nothing more than a rubber stamp with some very, very, very expensive ink. You will learn more working in a library than you ever do in a classroom!

      Also, if I cannot, for whatever reason, find a job, I am prepared to do something else and live at home with mom and dad while continuing to job hunt and volunteer at libraries. This is all I can imagine doing with my life, so, I am prepared to do what it takes to be a librarian.

      Good luck with whatever your decision is!

    9. Sparkly Librarian

      I did my MLIS online, and have been hired into a system with many alumni of the same school. However, I made a point to pay off all of my undergraduate loans before starting grad school, and then I scrimped for a few years while working/schooling full-time so that I could repay my grad school loans in full at graduation (before interest kicked in). I definitely did not want to carry debt out of it.

      Working in a library as a paraprofessional gives you a leg up post-MLIS, for sure. Are you full-time currently? Can you stay put on your current earnings while you pay down your undergraduate debt? In my system (which may be different than yours), an experienced Library Assistant is paid about as much as a starting Librarian, but doesn’t require the degree. You might have a little room to grow professionally before taking on the graduate program.

    10. MJ

      It may be because Texas subsidizes tuition at state universities, but my MLS only cost $12k, online through TWU. I believe UNT is similar in cost.

      Often states have reciprocal agreements with nearby states, so you might look for programs where you might be eligible for paying lower rates as a resident

      I learned a lot in my MLS program… I think what you get out of it is in proportion to what you put in to it, and I was very much interested in learning great all I could.

      You will have difficulty moving up the ranks without the degree.

  53. Victoria, Please

    AAM Large Brain! Has anyone figured out a professional thing to do with one’s hands during a meeting? I’m convinced that much of the fiddling with phones and things is because we need something to do with our hands during a time when we are listening but not needing to take notes.

    I used to have a colleague who would knit simple scarves during long meetings and it looked terrible, but I could see the point! She was fully engaged and active, and way less bored and frustrated than she would have been if she’d been sitting there with nothing in her hands. I had another colleague who was a heavy doodler, and that looked as bad as the knitting if not worse.

    So, this activity needs to be: Not taking notes (because we don’t need to do that ALL the time). Not doodling (some of us aren’t doodlers). But professional-looking.

    Any thoughts? Have we talked about this before? I seem to remember talking about this before.

    1. the gold digger

      I used to knit during the meetings when I was a Peace Corps volunteer because my co-workers could take an entire day to discuss (but not resolve), “Should our mission be to serve Mapuche women” or “to serve YOUNG Mapuche women?”

      The director of my agency finally asked me to stop knitting, telling me it was distracting.

      She told me this while she had her blouse open and a baby nursing at her breast. And three other women were doing the same.

      Knitting = distracting.
      Nursing babies and toddlers and four year olds, exposed breasts, children in the office = not distracting

        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          We’ll ignore how loud the kids will be when they’ve finished. Babies and toddlers ALWAYS know when to be quiet!!!!

          Love,
          The mother of a four year old child who is VERY NOISY

      1. Victoria, Please

        I do find knitting distracting! The needles click a bit and they are always moving so my eyes want to go to the movement. Plus, it’s just mesmerizing to see something beautiful shaping up as if by magic.

        But, uh, breastfeeding is pretty distracting too.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          I’ve nursed my four year old in public without anyone noticing.

          But I would never do so in the office, so there you go.

    2. Hlyssande

      I used to knit during classes in college for just that reason. I wasn’t good at it, but it kept my hands busy so I could actually focus. And yes, I was still able to take good notes!

      In convention meetings, at conventions, and at other volunteer stuff, I always take something to do with my hands. Right now it’s wire knitting around a stick. I’m good enough at it that it’s practically mindless.

      I wish I could do the same during long, interminable conference calls. I always get so, so distracted by other emails or AAM or something. :(

      1. F.

        I knitted my way through a paralegal certificate in night school while working full-time days. It was the only way I could stay awake and focus. One semester I knitted a baby blanket for one of my instructors, a young attorney whose wife was expecting their first child. I gave it to him on the last day of class. He and his wife loved it.

    3. Sascha

      I wear a leather bracelet that I mess with during meetings. I keep my hands below table level though, so it’s out of sight. If that’s not possible, I suggest clasping your fingers together so they don’t get the urge to wiggle around. :)

    4. Charlotte Collins

      I wish I could knit during meetings, but it would definitely look strange where I work. (Even though I can pay attention while knitting – everyone knits or spins or something during my monthly knitting guild meetings! But other people might not see it that way and don’t know that there’s a difference between knitting a simple hat and knitting a lace shawl.) I would say the rule is that if other people are doing handwork, so can you.

      Otherwise, I always have a notebook and pen at all meetings. You might need to take notes, but you can always work on your to-do list, etc. It looks professional, keeps your hands occupied, and can end up being extremely useful.

    5. AnotherAlison

      My pens always end up broken and disassembled in this situation. Careful for when a piece goes flying across the room, though!

    6. Nikki T

      I always just look at the speaker and I always feel weird for being the only one looking at the speaker and then the speaker focuses on me….Now I stare intently at the agenda.

      I guess I’ve never really needed anything to do with my hands. Maybe fiddle with the pen?

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Ha. Me too. I guess I just do more eye contact than other people, so I always wind up having talks delivered right to me.

        1. Charlotte Collins

          As a former instructor, I do the same thing. On the other hand, if I have a question, I get it answered very quickly.

    7. afiendishthingy

      I have a fidget toy for kids with ADHD I play with sometimes. It is probably distracting… but my agency serves kids with neurological/psychiatric/developmental disorders so I figure it’s pretty safe. And better than my colleague who jiggles his leg the whole time.

  54. Negotiating Vacation

    I’m expecting to receive a job offer next week and would love some advice. My understanding is that the pay is based on years of experience, so I don’t think there is room to negotiate there. What I would like to try and negotiate is for 4 weeks of vacation (up from the 3 that I’m pretty sure they’ll offer). I currently can take as much unpaid vacation as I want and have absolutely no paid vacation. So I’d be super happy with 4 weeks of paid vacation, but if I can’t get an additional paid week I’d like to make sure that I can take some unpaid time. My husband currently has 6 weeks and I’d like to be able to travel with him for more than half of that.

    The job offer (if it comes, fingers crossed!) will also offer health insurance, which I won’t need since I have an excellent plan through my husband. I don’t know whether that offers any leverage.

    I’ve never negotiated a job offer before and would love a script or language that I could use or just any advice.

    1. the gold digger

      If you are in the US, I would suggest that your husband make sure that he will not have to pay a penalty for keeping you on his insurance once you are eligible to get it through your own employer. My husband’s employer would have let me stay on his insurance (which was a million times better than the plan offered at my job), but we would have had to pay a penalty of $100 a month.

      1. Negotiating Vacation

        Thanks for pointing that out. I am in the US but there isn’t a penalty for him to keep me on his insurance. I’m actually eligible for a plan at my current job but his is so much better and luckily there isn’t a penalty.

    2. PX

      I would search the site for some of the general scripts regarding negotiating salary, and then try and tweak them to negotiating vacation days. I think the principle shouldnt change too much!

  55. not for me

    Any tips on convincing your boss to let you work remotely?

    My husband is applying to jobs in a pretty narrow field close to my hometown, which is ultimately where we’d like to live in the future. I work at a company whose CEO is VERY anti-remote work, so my boss won’t even consider it right now. But I suspect that even if the CEO was okay with it, she might not be (even though my job is 100% suited for remote work).

    We’re expecting some organizational changes soon so our CEO might not be the final word on this at that point. But how can I try selling my boss on the idea of moving about 3 hrs away and still working for the company?

    1. The IT Manager

      Come up with pros and cons from your bosses perspective and really consider ways to eliminate or mitigate the cons. But you need to consider it from their POV. What will you miss out on not being in the office? How can they work around it? Is it worth it for them to work around it to keep you on rather than just hire your replacement.

      TBH it is a hard sell to be the first one to telework because there’s no infrastructure and processes in place yet and implementing them for one person may not be cost effective. If everyone works from home then teleconference meetings are common. If you are the only person working from home and the only one dialing in the meeting, you will miss out. It is harder to do teleconferences than in person meeting; there is less communication and more technical issues.

  56. Cheddar2.0

    Yes, I’ve been waiting for open thread Friday! I really need some advice :(
    I’m having some issues with my boss and (for those of you who remember Hildi’s amazing post) it comes down to task-versus-people orientation. My boss is incredibly task oriented, to the point where it’s problematic because she doesn’t give “credit” for any work that anyone does that can’t be itemized into deliverables. As a very people – oriented person, I am really struggling lately with what appears to be a complete lack of empathy, interest, and feedback. This came to a head recently as I found out I need surgery and was trying to talk to my boss about short term disability and potential accommodations and her response was, word for word, “should you be working on this stuff during work hours?” Not a single sign of empathy or encouragement. I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile to bring up our differences in personality and how I feel totally uncared-for. Anyone ever successfully had a chat like this with their boss? Or should I just move on and start looking for other jobs?

    1. Chriama

      The stuff you were working on “during work hours” was how to coordinate benefits and accomodations for a medical procedure? That sounds like a significant lack of empathy, and honestly I’m not sure how anyone who acts like that can be a great boss. (Ironic that the other post today is about whether or not bad bosses and employees can change!). I think the difficulty with expressing things to her is the fact that ‘feeling uncared-for’ isn’t actionable feedback, but I’d love to hear scripts from other people.

      1. Cheddar2.0

        Yes, I specifically had told her I was looking into the process (in terms of paperwork) so that we wouldn’t be caught off guard when the time comes for me to actually use any disability benefits. And then she said that and the conversation came to a screeching halt. I understand that both her position and personality are very task-oriented but it feels like she doesn’t care at all about me (or the other coworkers). It’s not even that she’s a mean or bad person, it just seems be literally incomprehensible to her that there’s any benefit to bonding with people at work even a little bit. Which is actually kind of bad, as our work requires a fair amount of people skills and collaboration.

        1. fposte

          And as a task-oriented person, I note that she is also incorrect–that is indeed appropriate for your work hours.

          Here’s the sticky part–it’s almost always doom to say “Hey, stop being the way you are.” What you’d need to do is find quantifiable things to suggest that you’d find helpful. Don’t expect to state a general principle about bonding or being recognized as a person and expect her to extrapolate. Activate your relationship-to-task translator. “Boss, I think you’d get even better work out of some of us in the organization if you occasionally acknowledged our human sides that go beyond work. I have two suggestions for you–would you like to hear them?”

          1. F.

            I am very task-oriented. I sometimes need someone to explain to me how being more relationship oriented can help get the task done. I am the person some of you call “blunt” and “rude”. I am learning so much from AAM, though. My boss is also good about helping me understand how to reach and motivate my colleagues and the company owner to do the things that need to be done to get results.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I’m sorry. This sucks.

      My own experience was that I had to move on. I just couldn’t be successful in an environment that was so out of whack with what I value. I admire the work my former employer does, but it didn’t bring out the best in me. I’m much happier working in an organization that share my (operational) values.

  57. Beezus

    OMG, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. One of the managers I work with (not for) just reset 3,000 cells of intricate conditional formatting as a “favor” to me because he thought it was wrong. It wasn’t wrong, he just didn’t understand how it was supposed to work, and rather than ask, he went in and changed it and then told me like I was an idiot who’s been publishing this information inaccurately for the couple of months he’s been aware of the file and would be grateful to him for spending his time setting it right.

    (I barged into his office and asked him if he was punking me, then explained why it was right in the first place and why it was that way. He said that should be more obvious. I explained that it was obvious to the people who actually use the file for its intended purpose (it’s been around for years, he just started sharing it with me a couple of months ago because he can piggyback off of my data to do some other calculations. I don’t mess with his data and I expected him not to make changes to mine, grrrrr.) I can revoke his access to the file, but the stuff he’s working on is mission critical and he needs the data to do it, so I can’t get away with doing it over one incident. I could make him rewrite his stuff so it’s in a separate file that just pulls data from mine, but I think that would be an overreaction at this point. He offered to fix it, but I asked him to just keep his focus on his own sections of the file and leave my parts alone.

    I thought it was going to be a quiet Friday.

      1. Beezus

        Unfortunately, no. I made some significant revisions earlier this week and my backup file is older than that, plus there are day-to-day tweaks that I would lose. Shame on me for not updating my backup…I’m going to write a script that saves a short-term backup automatically, I think.

        1. another IT manager

          If it’s on a server, your IT should be making backups and may be able to restore a backup. Shadow Copies are REALLY AWESOME for this.

          For longer-term backups, I’m a huge fan of Carbonite, if your company is willing to pay for backup services.

        2. Observer

          Check with IT. If not, you really, really need some sort of backup strategy.

          The following suggestion is ONLY if your company does not do backups – if they do, they are likely not going to take this well, but if they don’t that’s a strong sign that they don’t have any information security in place, nor do they know enough to care.

          There are a number of services you can use to back up your files, and the good ones will do versioning. Some are free, some a freemium (ie a small amount of data is free, and above that you pay) and some are paid for. But even the ones you pay for are not that expensive, and may be worth the money.

    1. puddin

      OMG I would flip! Absolutely have him access a secondary file. He crossed over so many lines here. He does not own the data nor the report, it not the original intended user, did not consult with you ahead of time, does not know that he does not understand the report, nor does he seem to be apologetic for the extra work he caused you.

      Yep, he is in separate report town permanently. I would even be tempted to make this SOP going forward for ‘secondary users.

      1. Beezus

        The only, only reason he’s accessing it directly in the first place is because until his immediate-boss-until-recently, Fergus, is the one who originated the file when he worked in my team years ago. Fergus is an Excel wizard – the man can code VBA script off the top of his head. Fergus understood the file inside out and was very generous with his time helping me troubleshoot/improve it, and I allowed his team direct access to it as a favor to him because I trusted him with it. He left a couple of weeks ago, and….yeah, this might not work anymore.

        I sent my boss a note letting him know what happened and how I handled it. I’ll talk to him about it next week. The thing is, the offender is a longterm employee, he outranks me, and there’s a chance I could end up working with him more closely or even for him someday – I’ve already experienced that once in my career, and it was not fun. I’ll lobby harder to kick him out if something like this happens again, but the career capital cost is too high for me to do it now. If my boss decides to do it on his own, that’s a different story. :)

        1. puddin

          Good weigh out of the pro’s and con’s. And smart of you to keep the politics in mind. Hope all goes well!

    2. TheLazyB (UK)

      Oh Jesus. I just started to teach myself conditional formatting and I feel sick at the thought.

      I would totally make him save his own copy that pulls from yours (but that’s SOP at our work).

      (I sent a nested IF formula to one of my colleagues yesterday because I knew she’d be impressed.)

      1. Judy

        I think you can also just lock certain sheets or even certain ranges of fields.

        We had excel tools at a past job where you edited the values in the yellow boxes, and you got outputs in the green boxes, but you could only edit the cells with yellow boxes. The intermediate calculations happened in non-color coded boxes, even with those cells locked.

        It’s also possible you could copy the conditional formatting from your back up and paste the formatting into the current file.

    3. Anony-moose

      I want to throw something at the wall for you.

      I am the default data person here because I have decent excel skills and my team (2 other people) are CONSTANTLY going into my spreadsheets and “updating them”. They don’t understand excel at all so we’re talking just typing text into a box where I have a complex formula.

      I’ve locked everything in the past but I do need them in there…just not messing with the master report page that says DO NOT EDIT. :)

    4. Elkay

      Undo! Undo!

      Our Excel whizz in the office used to protect cells so people couldn’t over-write her careful formatting.

    5. Steve G

      Wait, so he just undid the conditional formatting or he redid the parameters? Curious because I usually only enter rules myself (usually if the cell is above or below a certain value or is blank) and it is very hard to tell if the formatting rule is “correct” or not or for anyone to even know what the rules are for….

  58. over educated and underemployed

    Two part comment here. One venting in case anyone else is in a similar situation, or has been – the moral support here can be great! And one asking an actual question.

    Venting: Last night I kind of lost it from the anxiety and stress of working while conducting a job search. It feels like the worst of both worlds – I feel a lot of pressure to find something because my current term position ends this winter, but I also am spending the vast majority of my very, very limited free time during my work week just to get in three applications a week (long commute, home responsibilities, etc.). I’ve only had three in person interviews in two months, so I feel really hopeless and anxious about the future. I don’t think I can do this for another year – please please tell me there might be light at the end of the tunnel sooner than that.

    Question: how late is too late to apply for a listed job? I’ve been applying with either smaller nonprofits (small enough that you just send a resume and cover letter) or large universities/organizations with online HR systems. I haven’t gotten a single call for any of my large org applications, just some e-mail rejections, so clearly I’m striking out with their online systems or just not competitive within larger applicant pools. But every phone screen or interview request I’ve gotten for the small nonprofits has been when I’ve applied for a job within a couple days after posting. This is making me think it isn’t even worth applying for something that’s been listed online for a week, much less two. Is this true? Is it true for both small and large orgs?

    1. OhNo

      I’m sorry your job search is a pain so far. :( Job searching is one of those things that seems to be feast or famine, so hopefully you’ll start getting an upswing in responses soon. If you think it would help, try giving yourself a week (or however long you can stand) completely off from job searching. Sometimes just giving yourself permission to relax for a few days can help reduce the stress and let you come back at it refreshed when you start up again.

      For the timing question, what I’ve found is that smaller organizations seem to hire a bit faster than big ones. They don’t have as much staff time to devote to the search, and honestly the gap in their workforce probably has a bigger impact than it would in larger org with multiple redundancies built in. So it makes sense that they would try and hire someone ASAP rather than waiting weeks to collect resumes before moving on in the process.

      My standard cut-off for the kind of jobs I apply to are 1 week after posting for small orgs, and 2 weeks or the closing date for large orgs. It sounds like you might be in similar circumstances in your field, at least with the small orgs.

    2. fposte

      No, it’s not true.

      It might be true for some jobs, where they don’t have a close date and just move on when they have enough in the pool, so it’s definitely better to apply earlier just in case. But it’s never a reason to just bail on applying entirely.

    3. Not So NewReader

      This is only tangentially related. What are you doing to help ease some of that stress? My suggestion is to build your plan B. Figure out some of the things you will do if you do not find a job by winter. You could ponder this during your commute time. The reason I am saying this is because that stress could be coming out in your job search and that’s not good. I know if I have a plan for worst case scenario, I start to calm down and work sharper at my current stuff.

    4. BRR

      Three in person interviews in two months is pretty decent. It’s really tough to name a timeline. I’d say anything within a month for a posting with no deadline is fair game. This is completely arbitrary though. We hired for a position that collected resumes for 3 months.

    5. onnellinen

      Ugh – job hunting, especially when you’ve got a deadline, is the worst. Hope you find something soon.

      If a job is still posted *and* doesn’t clearly have a closing date that’s past, I think it is never too late to apply. In hiring, a week or two is hardly enough time for anyone to look at the resumes – I think it’s just a coincidence, and hopefully you’ll get more soon. I know when I’ve been involved in hiring, we’ve posted for a minimum of 3 weeks because even serious job-hunters may not check our orgs careers page more than once a week, and we want good candidates to have enough time to see the posting, and put together an application.

    6. Felicia

      Not true in my small non profit. We had a job listed for four weeks, and we didn’t even look at any of the aps until that four week deadline had passed. The person who ultimately got it applied about two and a half weeks after it was posted. The people we interviewed who were mostly strong contenders applied anywhere from an hour after we posted teh job, to an hour before it expired, four weeks later, to a bunch of times in between. When they applied didn’t really affect our decision.

  59. Kristine

    How early is too early to ask about a raise? I’ve been with this company a little over 4 months. The salary they offered (that they wouldn’t negotiate on) was average for the job. However, I am pulling 50-60 hour weeks and am starting to feel underpaid. The other benefits are eh and the commute is long.

    1. Technical Editor

      Wait til 6 months and ask for a review with your manager. Make sure you document what value you’ve brought to the company – in dollars. Then ask for the raise to bring you up above average.

      If that meeting doesn’t go well, polish your resume. Your health isn’t worth being underemployed (I should know- I waited too long to leave a toxic place and my health suffered for it).

    2. AnotherFed

      In most places, asking for a raise at the 1 year mark is the right time. If your job is turning out to be more responsibility and required work output than the initial job description they gave, then you could have an argument for a raise sooner – maybe the 6 month point. But you definitely want to make sure that you have been there long enough to have a feel for how they handle raises – for example, if they do them as part of an annual performance review cycle, and you’re asking 4 months ahead of the cycle, you really want to be asking for advice on how to set yourself up for a good review a few months down the road.

  60. Anon today

    I am starting back to work in a week after a six month absence due to an injury. I was back in the office half-time for a month during that time, but the injury was not fully healed and I had a relapse. I’ve been working from home (unpaid by the company! covered by our health care) about half time during this time as well.

    My boss’s boss, the CEO, is convinced that my relapse is my own fault. I had mentioned to him that I was doing X activity, and he believes that caused it. I told him that X was cleared by my doctors at the time, and he segued into ranting about how I should know better anyway and I should have gotten second opinions etc.

    It is a small office and we generally all eat lunch together. What are some polite ways I can fend off personal questions in the future? I tend to be very honest and open when asked questions so I need some quick go-tos.

    What do I do if he brings this up directly? As tempting as it would be to answer “What makes you think I would ever share anything about my personal life with you ever again” I do want to keep the peace. I know how vindictive he can be when crossed.

    1. Katie the Fed

      I think this is where you use a strategy I use with my mom. Telling her anything other than “everything is going great!” invites criticism so I’m the most ridiculously upbeat person without sharing any details beyond the mundane.

      1. Anon today

        I think that’s going to have to be my strategy – that and deflecting. Though I am so tempted to weave an entire web of lies about the risky sports I’m taking up now that I’m cleared for them… skydiving, mud motorbiking, stunt bike riding, hog wrestling….

    2. OhNo

      If you’re interested in fending of personal questions in general, I’d suggest having an innocuous topic on hand that you can revert to whenever people ask you questions. TV shows or books are usually a pretty good bet – whenever someone asks what you’ve been doing lately or how you’ve been or whatever question you would usually answer honestly, just default to “I’m great! Been watching a lot of Law and Order lately – I forgot how addictive that show can be!” or something similar.

      If it’s specifically medical questions that you want to avoid (which sounds like it might be the case with that jerk CEO in particular), deflect and cite privacy or being sick of talking about it. “Oh, I prefer keep my medical info between me and my doctor,” or “Actually, I’m kind of sick of talking about my back problems. Everyone keeps asking the same questions! Can we talk about something else?” are good staples.

    3. fposte

      In addition to the general deflections, you could try something like a wide-eyed “I know! That’s what I thought too, and when I told my doctor she laughed and laughed–apparently that got debunked years ago!”

    4. Not So NewReader

      I had a boss that did a similar thing. I finally settled on “I’m fine, I feel great!”, as I stood there very pale in the face and having had some weight loss. She knew that meant to stop talking about it.

  61. InterviewFreeZone

    I’m leaving my job (hopefully soon!) due to unethical conduct and an unhealthy environment (literally, I have asthma and there’s no a/c or ventilation whatsoever and they refuse to do anything about it). I’ve been looking for 6 six months, the past 3 months pretty aggressively.

    I have a big project mid to late October that involves travel. I only have a 2 week notice period. I may be giving notice within the next 2 weeks. I’m scared of how this all is going to be received. If the environment were healthy or I had been treated with respect, I’d absolutely go above and beyond to work something out to see it all through. But the way things are now, if I get an offer, I plan to create an extremely thorough binder outlining any last steps that need to be done and also suggest they increase the retainer for a consultant who assists on the project so that they can execute any final steps.

    Am I doing something egregiously wrong by resigning before this project comes to fruition?

    1. Sascha

      No, your health comes first. They should have plans in place in case people leave, for any reason and at any time. They will probably be unhappy, but it’s their problem, not yours.

    2. Artemesia

      You tried to fix the problems in your workplace and they declined to help so blank them and the horse they rode in on. They are reaping the natural consequences of their inactions and poor management. You need to work on righteous indignation rather than feeling guilty. Practice saying when they fuss at you for leaving before the big project ‘I feel terrible having to leave, but since you were not able to address the building issues that were aggravating my asthma, I had no choice but to look for a job elsewhere. I have pulled together information about the project here, so that the next person responsible for it has what s/he needs to carry it through.’

      You owe them the best you can your final two weeks organizing information on the project for your successor. You don’t owe them your health or your feelings of guilt. Be matter of fact and slightly regretful when you give notice and reference your health. Don’t cringe or act guilty, because you aren’t. They are. Hope you get the new opportunity and can get out of there asap.

  62. OhNo

    What are people’s opinions on changing out of gym clothes at the office?

    I work at a university, and since I’m only part-time I usually go to the gym before work. I don’t always have time to change before I leave the gym, so sometimes I change at work in the bathroom instead, but I’ve been getting some weird looks from my boss and coworkers lately. Generally, I’ll duck into my office to drop off my stuff and turn on my computer, then go change. Sometimes, if I see something really important in my email, I’ll work for ten-fifteen minutes before I change. I know a former coworker of mine changed out of biking clothes at work when she was here, but she usually arrived before any students were around, and since I start in the middle of the day, there are always students around when I come in.

    So, is that weird and/or unprofessional? Should I make a point to change before I get to work?

    1. puddin

      If I looked at you ‘funny’ it would be out of guilt that I was not doing the same thing.

      Naw, its not unprofessional as long as you get to work early enough to be at your desk in your work clothes by the starting time. I would try to avoid answering the email in your work out clothes. Even something urgent can wait 15 minutes.

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead

      There is nothing wrong with changing from workout clothes at work but I would suggest that you don’t enter your office or general work area before you change. I think that might be the cause of the funny looks. I think it’s great when people workout before or after work and I think it’s fine if you see them in their workout gear but I do think it’s strange when they are doing any type of work in that gear unless it’s way after hours or on the weekends. If you were arriving before anyone else, I don’t think it would matter that you were dropping your stuff off in your office. Since you are arriving in the middle of the day when everyone else is already settled and in work mode, it might seem a little off or noticeable.

      Just as a funny story side note, I had a coworker who used to do this but she wore these hot pink compression socks when she worked out. So she would show up at the office and remain in her workout gear while she dropped her stuff off and fixed her coffee. The hot pink compression socks definitely made me smile but it was weird to see in the office.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      To be honest, I would look at you funny because you weren’t showering after the gym. I don’t have a problem with changing clothes at work, and biking to commute strikes me as a different thing, like a different level of intensity. If I were you, I’d drop off my stuff, go straight into the bathroom, freshen up and change.

    4. Dr. Doll

      Oh, heavens no, this is not weird or unprofessional! Presumably you aren’t hogging up a bathroom stall for 20 minutes or splashing water all over the place and not wiping it up.

      Matter-of-factly changing into street clothes from gym clothes in a bathroom stall would not cause so much as a blink from anyone in any university I’ve ever been in.

      Don’t flinch, just do it and smile at people when they catch your eye.

    5. Artemesia

      I think it is odd that you don’t have time at the gym but then can take time during your work time on the job. THAT and not the changing would bug me if you are working part time and some of that time is spent changing clothes. I’d get to the gym 15 minutes earlier and get showered and dressed there.

  63. JAL

    How do you deal with complete inconsistency among higher ups when they all feel like their way is right ?

    I’m a quality assurance agent for a company that does 3rd party insurance surveys for major insurance companies. How my job works is we edit the cases that field reps do across the country and then we submit it. We get complaints frequently from the insurance agencies and their underwriters and it varies from underwriter to underwriter. Our job uses a lot of judgement and my numbers are affected if the underwriter’s judgement differs from mine. I’ve talked to my manager and she says just to follow their advice, but it’s so contradictory half the time.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Can you ask each underwriter for a good list of guidelines that she follows? Then you can anticipate her responses better?

      I am not clear if the underwriters are contradicting themselves or if they are contradicting each other. Why not just ask them how you can better anticipate what they will say?

  64. Tiffany

    My most recent job just ended last week after 3 months (1st post-grad job) and I’m concerned I may not get a great reference from them. My work was great, and if the reference is just based on that, it will be fine…but I’m in the process of filing a form with the IRS that will launch an investigation on their part into a incorrect classification of independent contractor. My former employer is aware of this, as I gave them 1 last chance to resolve the situation without involving the authorities and it didn’t work. I left the company because they eliminated my position and it wasn’t because of anything I did or didn’t do; however I imagine reporting them to the authorities doesn’t make them want to say anything good about me. I’m interviewing for new jobs though and I’m not sure what to say if they ask if they can talk with my former company. The job was at a really small tech startup, so there’s only a handful of people working there and we all worked closely together. My experience prior to this job is solid and my other references are excellent, so I would hope that 1 bad reference wouldn’t hurt me. However, I’d like to avoid that chance if at all possible. Is there anyway I can mitigate that risk?

    1. i've been there

      I was working at a company and had two issues with them, first the whole independent contractor VS employee classification. I know you can’t do this now, but what I did (after making sure I was 100% correct) was made up a story and said that after talking to my financial advisor about my job, they informed me I’m most likely an employee according to IRS standards and should get that changed. I told HR and it happened within a week. When it came time for taxes, I owed a ton of money and I told the person preparing my taxes that I shouldn’t be paying this much and that I was improperly classified and switched over. My taxes were changed and I still worked for them for awhile, I’m not sure if the IRS ever contacted them about that or if I may get audited down the line but I didn’t feel bad about that because I was going to owe $500 more in taxes if I was an IC and I was hardly paid anything.

      The second issue I had, and this is where I felt like you, was when I talked to HR multiple times about how working more than 8 hours a day in California requires overtime, it’s not just 40 hours per week. I also researched the hell out of this because I didn’t want to look ignorant but when talking to HR they said they follow federal guidelines…well that’s nice and all but they have to follow California, they’re located in California…….I was extremely irritated about this and almost was going to send an email to HR after I quit requesting the money or I would raise the issue to a higher level but I decided against it, just because what if I want to return to the company (doubtful) or if some other issue arises later on, I didn’t want to burn bridges and it only ended up being $150 they owed me.

      Although I’m not gonna lie, I still have the draft of the email I had planned to send to HR sitting in my email haha

      1. Tiffany

        There is no HR department for me to talk to and the person who handles business stuff is the person who put me in this mess to begin with. Everyone else in charge (there’s 3 of them total that run things) defaults to whatever the business guy says. They have a total of 6 employees and a ton of contractors. I didn’t quit either, was laid off, so I have no choice but to involve the authorities in order to get unemployment/not pay a ridiculous amount of taxes. I’m just trying to figure out how likely 1 bad reference is going to kill any job opportunities I have and if there’s a way when interviewing/talking with new companies that I can potentially be upfront about the potentially bad reference (if I even should).

          1. Tiffany

            I don’t intend to, but I can’t stop a company from contacting them or asking why I’m not providing them as a reference. I’m not sure what to say if that situation happens.

            1. BRR

              I remember this too, I thought it was the department of labor. Anyways, I would say that the company tried to involve you in illegal practices and that you did not want to participate.

  65. Annie

    I recently moved to a new city and have just started looking for a job (stress!).

    I got an interview with a company I really wanted to work for and it was a nice conversation with two of the managers in that department. Unfortunately since it was my first interview for a while, nerves got the better of me and I didn’t do as well as I could have.

    In the rejection letter, the hiring manager actually provided quite detailed feedback (outline strengths/weaknesses) and then offered to have an informal chat with me about working in that city (she knew I just moved here).

    So now I’m wondering whether that’s something they just offer as a nicety (and won’t bother following through)? Should I take up that offer? If it’s genuine then I assume it’d be like an informational interview? Has there been advice here about how to make the most of something like that if I do end up having this meeting?

    1. De Minimis

      I would take them up on it, I don’t think they would just offer to do that casually. I agree that you should treat it like an informational interview, though.

      1. Annie

        Oh I’m definitely under no illusion that it’ll be anything more than that! I’m just wondering what I should ask that would help me for the future.

        1. fposte

          Tons! “Do you have any advice about getting a toehold in [field] in [city]? What do you think the main new opportunities are likely to be? What challenges do you see the field as facing? You mentioned I could have been stronger in X, and I agree–do you think that [online course/community college/whatever] is a good way to get some experience?”

    2. Ad Astra

      Oh, absolutely take her up on that. It sounds like she thought you were a strong candidate, just not the right person for this job, and she honestly wants to help. This is definitely not an offer someone would extend if they didn’t want to follow through with it.

      1. College Career Counselor

        Agreed. No one is offering to do that pro forma. They gave detailed appropriate feedback and offered to talk with you further? That means they thought you were a strong candidate, have something to offer AND that you’re worth going out of the way to assist. Treat it as an informational interview about other opportunities in the area. Good luck!

    3. MsM

      Definitely take them up on it. If they don’t follow through, you’ve lost nothing. If they do – and like others, I don’t think they would if they didn’t genuinely think you had potential despite not being right for this – then yes, treat it like an informational interview. But I’d focus more on trying to get to know the community and identify other avenues you should explore than getting them to consider you in future. If it goes well, they’ll probably do that anyway.

  66. Shell

    How do you judge whether your expectations for a given position are fair? (I am not the powers that be who can decide anything, I’m just curious.)

    What inspired this question: long ago, we used to have two receptionists at the front desk, which got absorbed into one position when our past receptionist, X, came on board. (I don’t think it was intentional; the powers that be were planning to hire a second person, but X handled the entire front desk herself with gusto and they just never hired a second person. Presumably that budget was then reassigned to other things.)

    X has since been promoted into our office manager. Her replacement, Y, is young (just graduated) and this is Y’s first full-time job. She’s been here a few months, said everything was fine…and then suddenly left this week for stress leave due to work. In short, she thinks work is extremely stressful and she just got overwhelmed. She didn’t convey this at all, it was “oh, it’s fine, it’s fine” and then boom, left for a week (with a doc’s note).

    I’m not the powers that be, so the arrangement of Y’s return/hiring extra people/etc. isn’t up to me. I’m just curious, for all the management folks on this blog: where do you draw the line of competence? Given past precedent, is it that Y isn’t quite as awesome because this is her first job out of school, and X’s precedent is entirely reasonable? Or is X just a rockstar of rockstars and it’s unfair to hold incomers to her standard? How would you make that judgement call?

    In our particular situation, there are several people to call on as help/relief on an as-needed basis when the front is swamped. Just that when X was up front, there was no need to have two people up there for the entire day. But I’m also interested in your stories in general, not necessarily advice to my office.

    1. MsM

      I think it depends on whether the job really is a two-person job, or it had just historically been done by two people until X came along and challenged that assumption. Or maybe it’s a feasible workload for a seasoned receptionist, but some of the duties need to be parceled out to other people if you have an entry level person in the role. At the very least, someone needs to take a look at the job description while Y’s gone, and have a conversation with her when she gets back about exactly where the stressors are and whether those are things that can be adjusted or not.

    2. fposte

      I think if she went first to stress leave before telling anybody at work she’s struggling, it means either 1) she wasn’t getting sufficient supervision or 2) she really was suffering from lack of seasoning and was just a bad hire. (There’s also 3), both.)

      In general, when Jane has killed at a role for three years, nobody who comes in can be expected to be third-year Jane in their first year; often Jane’s successor is perceived as failing for being merely equal to Jane when Jane started and not Jane when she finished.

      But overall, I don’t think there’s any way of determining “fair” or not–it’s whether you can get somebody who can do it without killing yourself to find them. If this person, with her seemingly limited credentials, was genuinely the best you could get, then the role may be underpaid, which is going to make it hard to get somebody who really wants ownership.

    3. Not So NewReader

      You can’t always know that your expectations for a position are fair. You can get better at guessing, but you really can’t be 100% certain. You can compare people over time and get a idea of what is average. If you have done the job yourself that really gives you a leg up on the answer.
      I don’t think I draw a line, I have more like a middle area similar to a band or a swath. One reason is that jobs change, more and more tasks get added and no one has figured out how to make more than 60 minutes go into an hour. Some people are fast at A but slow at B, then the next person might be fast at B and slow at A. If there is a lot of A and not much B, that second person is going to have a harder time. You can kind of tell when people are going to work out of it, they will get the job and be good at it. So those people I just tried to keep them calm and focused until they realized they had caught on.

      Overall, the people who are going to eventually catch on have a different attitude/approach than those who will never catch on. In your story here, I think that X was a rock star and I would not expect everyone to do that well. However, Y, needs to have a chat about asking for help and letting someone know when the work is piling up. It sounds like with the exception of this one thing, she was doing fine with the job. So I would be inclined to make a plan with her so she does not lose another week.

  67. LS

    I need some advice on a lowball job offer.

    Background: The company is in my old hometown in a different state. They flew me out to interview for a position a few months ago but decided to hire someone else with more experience. I took a few months off from the job search after that to focus on preparing for an exam that would give me a major industry designation. I passed the exam and have continued my job search.

    A few days ago the firm contacted me with a different position that they feel I would be a good fit for. The position sounds interesting but has limited growth opportunities. I received the offer yesterday and it is VERY low – what I would consider entry-level. The salary is slightly higher than what I’m earning in a lower position, but the overall package is very disappointing. Expensive parking, expensive health insurance, nearly no time off, etc. This means that I would actually be earning less than what I make now where parking is free, health insurance is free, I work a 35 hour week, and have 12 days of PTO. I would need at LEAST 15% more pay and 3x the days off being offered. With multiple years of experience in the industry and my new certification, I’m expecting to earn more than I do currently.

    Is it worth trying to negotiate such a terrible offer? I’m a bit offended by it. Their justification is that they need me to prove myself before they can pay me more. Help please.

    1. Amber Rose

      You can try to negotiate but it’s unlikely you’ll get everything on your list changed. Unless you’re desperate I’d say politely decline and keep looking.

    2. Chriama

      Who determined this offer? The lower vacation and higher health insurance and parking is probably standard for all employees of a certain level, so I wouldn’t rancor at that fact. However, needing me to “prove myself before they can pay me more” is so passive-agressive that I might turn the job down just on principle.

      If you really want the job I would negotiate pay up front and get a plan for getting a raise within x months/years in writing (with actionable goals so it’s not left up to personal judgement).

    3. LS

      Thanks for the advice. I needed validation that it’s ok to not attempt negotiation in this circumstance. I’m not desperate for a job and while it would be nice to move back home, I’m more concerned with finding a good fit – wherever that may be.

      I agree with you, Chriama, that the ‘prove’ statement is passive-aggressive. I’ve been working full time for 8 years so I’ve heard that line before.

      Is an email ok to decline the offer or do I need to call them? The offer letter was emailed to me if that makes a difference.

      1. Artemesia

        I’d be inclined to email and use a line that indicates you don’t think it is not a good fit as you have been working for 8 years and were recently credentialed in advanced whatever and are not looking for an entry level position.

  68. Complicated Name Here

    Has anyone ever changed their name partway through their career? I don’t mean surnames for people who get married and choose to change their name, but rather people who have ethnic-sounding names that they feel might be holding them back?

    1. Charlotte Collins

      Do you mean your given name or surname? (I’ve never done either, but I do know people who have.)

  69. canigetthisoffmychest

    So I’m new (technically a rehire) at my company, 2 months, and I don’t want to be an instigator. But my trainer is off training at another location so that meant someone else had to check my work, and she found an error and asked me who/why and I said, “Oh well, trainer said X, Y, not Z,” so she emailed my trainer and said, “newbie said you told her to do this wrong,” and cc’ed me in the email. And of course, now trainer has emailed me saying she never said that and we will go over this topic when she gets back. I emailed her back to say my notes just went over X and Y not Z and that I had added Z now and wished her a wonderful weekend, but I think anytime I ask her questions for more clarification or anything she thinks I’m being combative and argumentative.
    And I’m seriously not trying to be at all. I’m just trying to get answers/explanation so I can learn this job. I know I’m brand new and know nothing–that’s why I keep asking questions and for more detail. Because while I am confident trainer knows how to do her job, I have less faith in her training abilities. Her teaching so far has been full of assumptions made that I would ‘just know’ or ‘figure it out’ or ‘oh I thought someone else would’ve told you that already’. When I ask questions I get this much |…| of an answer when I really need |…………| to do the job right. So I keep asking. I don’t care if we aren’t friends, I just don’t want to be labeled as argumentative or an instigator of things just because I’m trying to learn the job! I think she makes all these assumptions b/c back in the day I worked for this company before in a different department and different job. The job I did before is like “step 1” of the process and now I’m in the job that does “Step 2.” But I think she fails to remember (though I’ve mentioned it) how much time has passed since I was in Step 1 and how much the company/processing has changed since then. (the main part of the job is completely different now).
    And when she’s correcting my stuff it’s getting annoying to me, because I’ve come a long long way in being able to handle criticism and I’ve definitely found out for me it’s all about HOW it’s delivered vs. what is actually being critiqued and she’s gotten into this passive aggressive, mom tone when she’s correcting my work. Like “I don’t know if you’re using your notes,” when they are clearly out on my desk.
    I say mom tone because it reminds me of my mom back in the childhood days when she would say something like “Paint this room with orange stripes” and I would do it and she would come back to inspect and say “This is WRONG!! Totally wrong. Wrong color. Wrong stripe pattern etc. and I know I said orange stripes but you were supposed to know I meant green plaid.”

    1. Not So NewReader

      It’s tough not to hear our parent’s voice in other authority figures.

      Like you, I would over explain and then reexplain. It gets tiring for a trainer. I learned that using less words is better.
      For example: The email at the top of your post here. It might be better to try saying “Okay, Thanks.” and then sign your name. See, she said she would talk with you later about it. So trying to talk in email now, signals that you did not “hear” her say she would talk to you later. And I am not sure how she read the wonderful weekend thing- remember it is hard to hear tone of voice in email. She may have read that as sarcasm. I don’t think you meant it that way, but it’s good to be aware that sometimes things get misunderstood.

      As far as the notes on the desk beside you- uh, I am sorry to say this. But I have trained enough people that I know for a fact the notes are beside them and they do not use them. So no, don’t assume she knows you are using the notes. Likewise, when your turn to train someone comes up, do not assume they are using their notes just because the notes are beside them on the desk. Sad stuff, but true.

      People don’t train the way we need them to train, they train in the way they know how to train. So, yeah, there’s going to be some gaps. When I write training notes for myself I leave random blank spaces because I can almost always count on hearing, “oh, I forgot to tell you about this step. You have to do it between step number 25 and step number 26.” REALLLY? And it makes the learning curve incredibly long.

      I think I am picking up on some panic in your post. Take some deep breaths and just slow down a bit. You learned to do the other job you will get this one, too. Stop thinking about your mother- that is pulling you down. It’s not helping you with this job at all. Just like you want this lady to give you a fair shake, you can try to give her a fair shake, too. This means ditch the mom comparisons off some where, it’s not fair to her. When she sees changes in you, probably she will change a bit also.

      Is there resources that you can use to look things up, rather than asking your trainer all the time? See if you can line up some resources for yourself so that you can do more on your own and do it with confidence.
      Most of all be patient with YOU. Don’t expect to learn everything in one day/week/month. Focus on today and do your best today. Deal with tomorrow, when tomorrow gets here. You’ll be okay.

  70. US to UK

    We are planning to move to the UK in 6 months. Spouse is an EU citizen, so I can work without needing sponsorship. I’m starting to put together a CV based on my recently-revised resume after Alison’s great input. So my question is: can any UK readers point me towards a good CV site that lists what needs to be on a CV vs resume (or give a quick rundown)? Everything I’ve seen is pointed toward recent graduates or has advice that is totally contradictory to AAM and makes me doubt anything they say.

    1. Short and Stout

      Alison’s CV/resume advice has worked well for me in the UK. ;)

      My feeling is just to go with what is right for your field, as the norms between industries tend to differ more than the norms between USA/UK.

    2. Short and Stout

      Care to share your most recently learned computer shortcut?

      Mine: I’m overpleased with myself for having leant to use fields properly in Word. Now I have form letter templates that fill themselves in with a macro that runs at the start. No more error-prone copy/pasting or multiple choice deleting.

    3. Tau

      I’m in the UK and used Alison’s CV advice, with a few tweaks:

      – making it longer – one and a half to two pages was my impression, even for people early in their careers.
      – adding an interests/hobbies section at the end – I was told to do this by basically everyone I talked to…
      – didn’t do but probably should have done: adding my high school results. I say “probably should have” because I got asked about my high school results by nearly every job I applied to and several times got the impression they were puzzled I hadn’t put them on my CV.

      Unlike some other countries in Europe, my understanding is that you do NOT add a photo, your age, marital status or anything along those lines – same as in the US.

      I am no expert so take this with a large grain of salt, but it seemed to work pretty well – I got a high amount of callbacks and interviews out of it, at least. Can’t recommend a specific website since I don’t know any definitely trustworthy ones and was looking at the new-grad-focused information anyway!

    4. College Career Counselor

      I have found that UK CVs can contain more information and/or things that a US resume would never have (marital/parental status, for example). This may have changed, however (let me know if I’m wrong, UK people!), and perhaps it depends on how much you want YOUR document to resemble a “native” document. In any event, the Going Global Resume/CV guide is pretty good, I think (and has examples of non-entry level documents). Your local library/career services office is likely to have a copy if you don’t want to buy one outright.

      1. Short and Stout

        Hmm. Marital / parental status is as out of place in the UK as AAM discussions suggest to me that it is in the US.

        Advice from both the university careers services I got CV booklets from had 2 page CVs suggeted as the norm … but I never did this, and have consistently stuck to a 1 page CV. This strategy has consistenly resulted in interviews and praise from interviewers for having a short CV containing only salient info.

      2. Buttonhole

        No you never put your marital and parental status on a CV in the UK. I only have name, email, mobile and nationality (due to work permit issues- so putting down that I am British and therefore can work in my own country) but not even my address. None of their business where I live. And no photo ever.

        1-2 page length, some people ask for 1-page CVs nowadays. And you only put your high school results if you are a recent graduate, ie aged 22-24 years. I am 32 and never put school results on.

    5. FatBigot

      Be absolutely certain about your immigration status. Make no assumptions just because your spouse is an EU citizen. Check the exact wording on the Home Office website yourself.

      If you have a UK work permit and indefinite leave to remain, or EU rules exempt you from those requirements, then say so clearly. Sadly, it may also be worth checking what happens if you separate from your spouse.

      1. Marcela

        Well, I am the wife of a British citizen, and while living in Spain, not only I had a work permit, but permanent residence too because of him. I know the UK has (had?) a “wife visa”, but as US to UK didn’t say her spouse is British, I don’t think that applies to her. The UK is not completely EU for several things, but my guess (after so many discussions about the free movement of european citizens) is that in this particular case, we wives only have to register with the government with our documents of marriage, to get work permits. We don’t have to get sponsored or apply for a limited visa.

        But yeah, FatBigot is right: check the Home Office website.

        1. Artemesia

          My SIL is married to a British citizen and lives in East Anglia and it was a giant big hassle for her to even get a visa to live there much less work there; at one point my husband and his siblings had to actual sign documents that we would not all move to Britain and go on the dole. She did not automatically have the right to work when they married. I would not assume you can automatically work there without confirmation of that.

  71. KJR

    I mustered up the courage to go to IT to have AAM unblocked. I came in one day last week, and he had blocked all blogs. My heart just sank, and I swear I broke into a cold sweat. Thank goodness I have it back.

    1. Windchime

      This happened to me at work awhile back when they installed a new firewall and many blogs were blocked. I got them to unblock it because it was a career development blog. (They also had my favorite SQL blog blocked, boo……but this one and the SQL blog are now unblocked).

  72. Amber Rose

    All right, I need some snappy comebacks to smart-ass coworkers.

    We have a department of guys who just have it in their nature to give everyone a hard time about everything. I should be clear, I don’t mind this. I find their antics moderately amusing and I feel lucky to have a relaxed, friendly bunch of coworkers.

    The problem is me. I’m not good at responding to teasing, so even if I find it fun, I can come across as cold or upset. The one or two times I’ve managed to respond, I got laughs and stuff and I want to fit in well here. (Does anyone else watch Regular Show? They’re like those cops who bust people’s chops.)

    How does one become witty and smooth?

    An example of the silliness:
    I have to a daily log where I check in and make sure nobody died or broke anything and the supervisors initial my report. The one group will pretend to close and lock the office door when they see me coming, or assign silly tasks I need to do first like “tell me how to spell [coworker]’s name” or “25 cent charge”.

    1. Malissa

      Can you spell the coworker’s name D-O-N-K-E-Y?
      .25 charge? “I’ll gladly pay you Wednesday for access today”
      They lock the door, “Oh, so you are going to check the log for me this morning, thanks!”
      Another phrase to keep handy:
      Don’t make me unleash the flying monkeys

      Basically it takes practice.

    2. Chrissi

      My type of humor is not the snappy, witty, one-liner kind and I’ve decided that’s ok. When I deal with this w/ friends or coworkers (which I’m fine w/, like you) I tend to have just a few go-to things to say that aren’t necessarily comebacks. Like when they close and lock the office door, I’d probably shake my head in a mockingly stern way and say “Not cool, man”, or for the assigned tasks say very primly “that’s not in my job description”. Of course, both of those you’d be joking, so you keep up the light-hearted tone, but you don’t have to feel bad for not being “witty enough” or whatever. Good luck! I also find that they more I know someone and more comfortable I am, the easier it gets to come up w/ a comeback because you kind of know what they’re going to say and have more of a routine, if that makes any sense.

    3. Gandalf the Nude

      This is gonna sound so weird, but I learned sass from webcomics. They gave me a vast and constantly-updating supply of one-liners that most people wouldn’t recognize (until I started recommending comics to friends) while I worked on delivery. I just kind of internalized and mimicked the characters’ conversation styles (and, honestly, stole their jokes), and my own witticisms gradually formed until I found I was no longer borrowing ammunition but firing my own shots.

    4. fposte

      You can also be the person who laughs at the quips and doesn’t quip back. I like the Miss Manners idea of assigning somebody to be your representative in that situation. “I never know what to say to that! Bob, speak for me here.” Or just revel in the awkwardness and say “Witty thing! Was that witty enough?”

    5. Not So NewReader

      I have said things pretending to be the person doing the joke.
      So with the office door joke, I would say “Quick lock the office door, Amber Rose is coming!” but I would say it in a funny voice. If you can get it out just as they are beginning to close the door that makes it funnier.

      The 25 cent charge can work into an on-going joke about you just putting it on your tab, and boy, that tab must be huge by now, etc.

      In general, I try to make my comebacks fairly neutral. I never make a joke involving a person. If I can I deflect it to some mundane thing or some thing that most people agree is funny. It takes a while to develop a sense of how you would like to handle jokes. I used to mull it over before falling asleep. (I also went over how to handle sarcastic remarks, too.) I would pick a joke that got by me and think about what ideas I had for comebacks. I did this for a while and it seemed to help me think on my feet better after a bit.

  73. Dr. Johnny Fever

    So, weirdness this week –
    Long story short, I am a practitioner who is having a difference in opinion with two vendor consultants. When I got tired of them stonewalling me, I went to their sponsor. Their sponsor is now asking them to make changes, and this week they found out that those suggestions are the same ones I’ve been giving them that they’ve dismissed. They are pissed off.

    This week, the duo have been grabbing me at odd times to force their opinion on me. I tell them to talk to their sponsor. One of the two GOT IN MY FACE – we’re talking nostrils flared, eyes blazing, pointing – and he’s taller than me so it was meant to be physically intimidating. I stepped forward instead of backing off and the other guy separated us.

    PaciGuy asked me to see things from Angry Man’s POV and try to discuss things calmly. I told him to f’that. On a call with my boss the next day, Angry Guy verbally bullied and insulted me.

    Turns out, tons of witnesses to the physical part called my boss – he knew before I told him. Then he heard the bullying tone. He’s working on a resolution, I’m gob smacked as to the behavior, and still coming down from the rush. I have today off, and I told my boss when I come back, I want no contact at all with Angry Guy, and very little with PaciGuy who doesn’t seem to see the problem here.

    I’m just wondering how the hell I attract the crazy like this. It’s not the first time this has happened, but never to this level of hostility.

    1. Artemesia

      I don’t understand your relationship with the ‘vendors’ — in my world a vendor can be dismissed for being a dick. Your boss needs to either change vendors or insist that the sponsor assign different people to this account — or perhaps I don’t understand at all. This kind of behavior should have led to terminating this relationship or firing this guy. There should be zero tolerance for intimidating behavior.

      I’ve told this before, but my organization makes it clear to contractors who work on the physical plant that sexual harassment, catcalling etc will result in terminating the contract. We had one workman who hung a scale on the doorknob of a new highly valued hire who is somewhat overweight — the company has a multi million dollar contract with the organization and was told that one more incident would terminate the contract. They pulled that work crew from the job and have been absolutely punctilious about their behavior since then.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        The sponsor is several levels higher in paygrade than me, so he’s the one who manages their contracts. He’s in another city, so PaciGuy and AngryGuy think he doesn’t know what’s going on.

        They don’t realize that the resolution my boss is working on *is* the termination of the contracts; he’s in the same city as the sponsor and updated him on everything, including the witness calls. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m fairly positive. I’ve been questioning them for a while, and this behavior isn’t tolerated by my employer. I’ll be surprised, frankly, if I see either of them when I return next week. I hope.

  74. De Minimis

    The job search continues…..

    Got a rejection letter for another government job earlier this week. It was one I wasn’t really crazy about [pay was low for this area, and it sounded like they demanded a lot of overtime–I would have gotten comp time for it, but not something I really want.] It’s still disheartening. I’ve started applying more out of my work specialty, I did get one response but their pay is low [after the various payroll taxes it would be less than unemployment] and it wouldn’t be helping my career. And in the end I think they too may have decided no.

    Have nothing solid on the horizon right now, and I think it may be a lot longer haul to my next job than I’d thought. These past few months I’ve never gone more than a week or two without an interview, but that seems to have stopped. Just have to keep plugging away. Still really troubled that I’m getting very little interest from private sector employers, even for positions that are more or less identical to my previous position.

    I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, there’s just a lot of competition for jobs. May start volunteering, just for something to do. I’ve checked Idealist and elsewhere and it seems like most of the volunteer work available is the more general type that wouldn’t incorporate my professional skills, though.

    Have till the end of the year before my unemployment runs out, not sure what I’ll do then. I’m looking into H and R Block for next tax season but I am not going to pay $200 for a course. Allegedly they have an assessment where you can “test out” of the course but we’ll see. From what I’ve researched, working with them probably won’t pay as much as unemployment either. But I guess it would be better than nothing, and I could still look for a job while doing it since they generally don’t need people full time. It probably won’t do enough to pay the bills. I guess at that point I may start looking for work outside the region and do yet another long-distance separation from my spouse. Same crappy song, same lousy verse….

    1. Malissa

      The job market is weird right now. Tax season should bring more opportunities at places other than H&R block. Hopefully something will work out soon for you.

        1. De Minimis

          It’s different than before, though…the last time I went through unemployment there were just no jobs to even apply to. Now there are tons of jobs [different location helps, plus I have more experience] but I still can’t seem to break through.

          I don’t know if I can get work doing taxes other than HR Block, I know one recruiter told me I could pretty much forget about working in public accounting again since I’ve been out of it too long [haven’t worked with taxes in nearly seven years and wasn’t so great at it to begin with.]

          1. Anon for this one

            Hey De Minimis, if you’d like to know more about Block, feel free to email me. I work there and love it and would be happy to share my experiences with you. You can email me at contrarygirl at the email of yahoo.

  75. Lunar

    I need some intern advice. Our intern (who I supervise) started a few weeks ago. He is a few years older than me (I graduated with my bachelors just over a year ago and he is a graduate student (who is probably overqualified to be working on the project but seemed really interested and my boss liked him)) and has been behaving rather unprofessionally, but has been walking a line. He sends email that are a little too casual (adding extra letters, using abbreviations, etc). He has asked questions and talked about things that are a little off (he has asked how old I am, if I’m single, how long my last relationship was and has talked about how he drinks every night including 12 beers (!!) the night before he came in to the office. I feel like it lands in the realm of a little awkward, but co-workers do talk about their social lives/relationships (my only other co-workers are my bosses and much older so I don’t have a good perspective on this). I have been redirecting the conversations to work and responding to emails professionally, trying to set a good example. Do I need to say something or see if he takes the hint? I’m not sure if it has risen to that level yet, but I get weird vibes.

    Sorry if this is very disjointed and unclear – typing this from my phone.

    1. Katie the Fed

      If you’re supervising, you need to be clear with him. Hints clearly aren’t working with him, as they usually don’t work with the office idiots.

      “Trevor, I’d like to talk to you about some concerns I have about how you present yourself in the office.” And then give some examples.

      But you should also be addressing these in the moment – a quick correction is better than having to have A Big Formal Talk. “Oh, those questions aren’t really work place appropriate.” “Oh, you know, probably don’t want to talk about how much you drank last night when you want to be taken seriously.” “Hi, this email is too casual – please use proper English.” Etc.

      It’s your job to show him the ropes – you’re not doing either of you any favors by dropping hints.

    2. LQ

      You’ve tried hints, they didn’t work. Be direct. Everything Katie said above. I would say that even if you aren’t his supervisor you can still say that the questions aren’t appropriate for the workplace or that you really don’t want to know how much he drank.

      If you are and you do address his emails be very clear. Things like here’s how this email should look. And then show the changes.

  76. mno

    I work with an idiot. I spend way too much time prepping myself for how to around it. ARGH. I’m trying to look at it as an exercise in patience, understanding, and how to work with COMPLETE MORONS.

    Whew! Thanks!

  77. Anon4this

    I think uncovered the reason for all the interpersonal issues I’ve been having with my boss recently.

    Some background: I recently was promoted and negotiated about a 25% raise (commiserate with the average market rate for my new title) by leveraging an offer I received from another company. When I told my boss, he hemmed and hawed for a bit, told me he’d see what he could do to match the other offer and got a couple executives involved. By the end of the next day I had the promotion I’d been angling for, for over a year and a great raise to boot. I figured there’s no way they would pull all those strings so fast to keep me if they didn’t really want me, however my boss started acting very rude and confrontational with me in particular over the following couple of months. Never consistently, we are both very busy and there’s a lot going on, but he’d be very insulting and combative for a few days and then again a couple weeks later and then again a few weeks after that. I couldn’t make sense of it.

    I’ve just been included in some higher level meetings and found that managers at his level are offered an incentive by our company to “give budget back” at the end of the year. Meaning if he doesn’t give out any raises/bonuses and our department still meets its production goals, he gets a bonus of a certain percentage/value.

    Now it seems clear to me that he’s taken my “forcing” him to promote me personally, as it’s practically money out of his own pocket for me to get that raise. Furthermore, no one on the rest of the team has received raises (or promotions) this year. We received laughably paltry bonuses.

    Is this sort of practice by companies (to incentivize managers to give budgeted money back) typical in most businesses?

    Any suggestions on how to smooth things over with my boss moving forward? I really can’t help that he’s taken this personally but I find this response immature and inappropriate.

    1. Ad Astra

      I know of a chain of gas stations with a similar policy, which in practice discourages managers from replacing broken stuff or buying a new mop when they need a new mop, and generally pushes them to cut corners wherever they can. It’s a bad way to run a gas station, but it seems like an even worse way to run an office.

      Regardless, his response is immature and inappropriate as you say. And, FWIW, it probably would have cost him more to replace you than to give you a raise.

    2. BRR

      I’ve heard of it and it’s a shitty practice. It’s an incentive for managers to screw over their employees.

    3. Little Teapot

      There was an episode of The Office about this – they needed a new printer & desk chairs but Michael wanted neither so he could keep the $600 bonus. I think when it takes away from staff / the office it’s so dodgy.

  78. lionelrichiesclayhead

    Can anyone offer some insight into what might be included on a writing assessment for an interview? I have never had to complete a writing assessment before since I was previously in the financial field. I’m interviewing for a job in a new industry and it involves some technical writing. I’ve been googling but haven’t really found the information I’m looking for or that seems to fit.

    I asked the interviewer about it and she said it would involve proofing and correcting messaging and a couple tasks where I will document my answers. They are aware that I don’t have any formal technical writing experience so are they just making sure I can put cohesive sentences together?

    Any thoughts or tips would be appreciated!

    1. Short and Stout

      I interviewed for technical writing jobs last year.

      Pre-interview tests for both companies involved writing instructions for simple processes, e.g. how to make a cell phone call, buy for someone with very little technical know how.

      I also got a timed test during a phone interview. I had to correct some instructions to follow a style guide, ie use second person and imperative tense, and rearrange the info into a more logical order.

      During interviews I was asked to mark up good / bad user experience features of a settings menu of a software package on a print out. I had figured this would come up and had practised.

      Good luck with your interview!

  79. Karowen

    First sighting in the wild: Someone coming in to our building to follow up on a resume after having called and emailed as well.

    I know we’ve heard stories on here but this is the first time I’ve witnessed something like it! I almost want to follow the poor guy out to give him a link to this site.

    1. fposte

      I had that once. I was so startled by it that I didn’t handle it smoothly. I wasn’t mean or anything but I should have let the poor guy, who was not US born, know that this wasn’t a good move.

  80. Anon for this

    Ok. Regular commenter, going anon for a bit here. Yesterday was the worst. My husband got fired. He had only worked at that job for about 6 months and before that he was mostly unemployed for about 18 months. Two years ago he was fired from his previous job. I’ve been underemployed for about 18 months and constantly searching for a full-time gig, so when my husband got this job it seemed like things were looking up for us. I had been offered more hours at my job and we were going to be able to make ends meet. Then yesterday afternoon I got a call to tell me that my hours had been reduced again at my job. I’m just so sick of this. It’s been two straight years of one or both of us job hunting and never having enough money and I just want this nightmare to end. We’re fortunate that both of our sets of parents have been able to help us out financially, but I hate taking money from them. I just turned 29 and I would really love to be financially independent from our parents before I turn 30.

    1. A Girl Named Red

      I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this. My fiance and I have been in a similar situation for awhile now, too. He just got let go yesterday– 3rd time in 12 months (none performance related, 2 downsizing and 1 bad culture fit). I thankfully am in a fairly stable FT job at the moment, but I was only making 1/3 of our combined income and we can’t live on my paycheck alone. And we literally JUST bought a house two weeks ago…and our wedding is in 6 months.

      It’s so stressful, that feeling you get when you thought it was ok to relax and take a breath and then suddenly everything bottoms out and you’re back to scrambling. The paranoia and fear is real.

      I hope everything works out for you and your husband and that this period soon becomes just a bad memory.

      1. Anon for this

        Oh boy do I know that feeling. Thanks for commiserating. I hope things get better for you and your fiance soon!

    2. Ad Astra

      I’m around the same age and just got out of a similarly miserable two-year period. For us, things got better when we relocated to a city where we had more personal and professional connections. Within 24 hours of moving, my husband went from underemployed to working a good-paying job in his field that he loves. Within 6 months, I went from unemployed to working a decent-paying job in my chosen field.

      Relocating might not be the right solution for you, but I’m chiming in here mostly to say that things really can get better. There were times when it looked like we had no way out, and now our situation is awesome. So don’t lose hope.

      1. Anon for this

        Thanks for the message of hope Ad Astra! We live very close to husband’s family (which is one reason we would like to stay here), but relocating is definitely on our radar.

  81. Anon this Friday - not usually

    I keep in touch with one of my first bosses from when I started working full time about 10 years ago. I moved on to another role 3 years ago and then so did he .

    Our next jobs both tanked and we were both fired. We commiserated a lot through that. Since then, though, I’ve done very well and landed on my feet. He has continued to struggle and has job hopped several times, which I never would have guessed he’d do from when I worked with him. I think if he worked under a strong leader, he’d do great. I think he’s been so desperate to move on from multiple previous jobs that he hasn’t screened well.

    Whatever the reason for his current troubles, I’m now in the field he is trying to get into. His encouragement is what prompted me to even look into this in the first place. I’ve tried everything to encourage him in his endeavor by telling him what has worked for my break into this field, from recommending AAM (and sending links to especially pertinent posts) to strongly encouraging him to join a networking group in this profession that has gotten me tons of connections.

    Instead of acting on any of that, he’s getting his masters (not vital in this field– there are some professional certifications that would be more valuable) and he seems so down about his stalled career every time I talk to him. He also keeps applying for things in this field and lists me as a reference. I don’t mind talking about what a great boss he was and what kind of environment I think he thrives in, but is that disingenuous since I don’t think he’s at the top of his game right now? I just want to shake him and say “I KNOW you’re discouraged, but this didn’t just happen to me–I’ve worked at it and your encouragement years ago is a big reason why!”

    How can I encourage him when I think the masters is a waste of time (he’s now only 8 months from finishing, so there’s no quitting that now) and I feel like he’s ignoring my good advice?

    1. fposte

      90% of the time people are going to ignore your good advice, because they’re people :-). But it sounds like you’ve gotten a little emotionally invested in the outcome here in a way that I’d recommend dialing back, and also I’d consider finding a lower level of general encouragement that isn’t based on whether his actions are what you’d recommend. And in general, references are talking to what this person was like to work with, not what you think of their subsequent trajectory; it’s not disingenuous to fail to mention you don’t approve of his getting a master’s.

      It’s tough when people are down but not ready to find the way to up–I know we’ve probably all encountered the friend who’s miserable but won’t break up with the BF/GF, and this is kind of like that. So be kind, but I don’t think you have to accept venting as the sole communication, either.

  82. TheLazyB (UK)

    I had my three month review today. It generally went well, but I failed to do something a month or so back. This wouldn’t have been an issue if I had JUST TOLD SOMEONE that I was struggling with it.

    I owned it; I knew I was messing up even as I was doing it. We’ve discussed the reasons; there were good reasons but none of them explain why I didn’t just tell someone.

    I am generally pleased with my progress but am quite gutted about this still. But pleased that while my line manager was clearly disappointed she was very understanding and will give me more support in future.

    So. Just need to be a rock star in general to ensure the shadow of it doesn’t last :-/

    1. Mockingjay

      I have done it often. I put the cell phone or office phone on speaker. Then I take notes as usual. It’s no different, really, than you being in the conference room when someone dials into the speaker phone.

      The only difficulty is that it can be hard to determine who the speaker is. I work around that in the minutes by stressing the information or the team, not individual speakers. “The committee approved the chocolate teapot design.” “Production will be increased by 15% starting in July.”

    2. Charlotte Collins

      Yes, but you need a clear agenda, and people need to understand that there might be pauses while someone takes notes. Also, it’s extremely useful if the minute taker is not the facilitator or presenter (unless it’s a really small group). If the phone lines allow for recording (our teleconference system does for a slight charge), this can be useful for going back to check notes. And a headset instead of a handset for the person taking notes, unless it’s on speaker phone. I’ve found it works best if everyone is on a separate phone, because the group dynamics work the same for everyone.

      If you are a quick typist with a noisy keyboard like me, I recommend putting the phone on mute for this. :)

    3. TheLazyB (UK)

      That’s really helpful Mockingjay and Charlotte Collins, thank you! I might have to start doing so soon.

    4. Nanc

      Record the call. If your conference system doesn’t have a recording function, use a mini recorder with a USB and phone adapter. Just go to Radio Shack or something like that and take your phone system manual and they can set you up.

      You can still take notes during the call, but if a lot is happening you can make a note of the time and go back and review that part of the call.