open thread – September 25, 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 :)

{ 1,144 comments… read them below }

  1. SweetTeapots*

    How do you indicate you’re applying for a position but only if remote work is possible?

    I live an hour from the closest major metro without traffic, 2 with. My job is a bit niche in that most available positions are primarily in the metro area. I am lucky in that I currently have a job in my field in my hometown but I’m looking to leave. I originally was not open to the metro area but I think I might have to be.

    I’m only willing to consider a job in the metro that allows for remote work, either full time or part time, with being allowed a later shift (10am) on non remote days, I did that commute for 3 years and can’t go back to it. It’s a big hub with a lot of big name companies that are leading the trends of great benefits you typically hear about, so remote is not unheard of in this field but I’m not encountering a lot of roles that specifically state the position allows for it. Is this something you would bring up on initial contact, or not until reaching an offer stage? And how would you phrase it?

    I obviously have much less leverage with roles I’m not actively recruited for.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I think you have to bring it up at the initial phone screening. If I were the hiring manager, I’d be PISSED if I fell in love with someone and extended an offer only to find there was a deal breaker (and it would be, in my industry) that had been around from the beginning.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I agree; I think you need to mention it up front to avoid wasting each other’s time if there’s no chance from the start.

        Some (a lot) of places don’t have that flexibility or if they did they would have mentioned remote as a perk of the job. This isn’t the same a pregnancy which they can’t take into consideration when hiring or planned vacation or other minor schedule change.

    2. Jerzy*

      I was coming here to ask this exact question. I just found a position that’s perfect for me, but would require me to commute over an hour each way, and with a 2 year old at home, that’s not ideal. However, this organization has an office 30 minutes from my house as well, and it would be great if I could work from there (or better yet, work from home) most days and just travel to the main office as needed.

      The answer I came up with is to see if I get an interview, and bring it up then. I’d love to hear thoughts from others on this as well.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I was in a similar situation. The job was at a University about 2 hours away, but there is a local extension. It didn’t mention remote work, but it was a type of work where that is reasonable. I got the interview and drove the 2 hours. Their first question was “Why do you want to move to Uni-town?” Remote was not an option. I wish I had mentioned it up front, and not wasted their time.

    3. SweetTeapots*

      My husband is lucky in that he can WFH 2-3 days a week, and the other days is in at 10, so that even if he does have to go in 4, 5 days it’s not torture and the ride takes 40 minutes as opposed to 90. But he was recruited for the role.

    4. Glasskey*

      Curious to hear what others would do…. For me I think it would boil down to what I’m really asking for, full-time or part-time; if part-time then yeah, *maybe* you could leverage that at the offer stage, but full-time may be a lot harder to do at that point and could backfire. Bear in mind, too, that whatever they offer today may change over time as business needs change and they may find that they really DO need someone there in the office at 8am. It would be good to know if there are organizational policies in place with your prospective employer that support alternative work schedules or whether your request is a one-off that might make you more vulnerable. For instance, my organization supports part-time telecommuting but a) not within the first 6 months of hire, and b) it can be revoked any time at the discretion of the mgr.

      1. SweetTeapots*

        All good points. Before even considering applying, I look up how big the company is, reviews of their policies, and other job postings to see if they support full time remote work for other roles. If they do, I’d consider applying.

        Just to say I have not yet actually applied to any of these roles, but only would given that I did the research above, and would broach it on first contact.

      2. Mary in Texas*

        I agree. I work for a company in the top 10 of the Fortune 500 and we do not have a WFH policy. A lot of people have asked for it, and you’d think a company of our size and worth would have something, but we don’t and our leaders are adamantly against it. I would ask a recruiter or hiring manager about it over the phone before I wasted anyone’s time. I think you’ll be surprised at how many will say no.

      1. FJ*

        I didn’t see anyone else mention cover letter.
        For what’s it worth, I tried putting it in the cover letter with three applications earlier this year. Applying to startups… tech-savvy… potentially work-remote friendly.

        I heard back from one that they want all their team to be local. I never heard back from the others. I think next time I will try in the initial phone screening.

  2. Forrest*

    I had two really great interviews for a awesome nonprofit and received an email that said that due to unforeseen circumstances they will not be filling the position. Such a bummer.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      I’m sorry. =( That happened to me so many times. I wish orgs would get their ducks in a row before bringing people in for interviews.

        1. Forrest*

          Yea, I don’t fault the nonprofit at all. Its one I cared about even before I applied. I’m just nervous for them because that position held a lot of responsibility.

        2. nep*

          Yes — it is not always just because organisations don’t have their stuff together; unexpected and undesired circumstances can make openings disappear.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have had a couple of acquaintances who took a promotion job with another company and then had the company reorganize and the division they were recruited to head centralized elsewhere or simply eliminated. Neither was there long enough to have been fired because they weren’t good — things changed after they gave up good steady not toxic jobs for a bright new opportunity. Better before than after being hired.

  3. Jubilance*

    Back in June I received a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn about a position. After a very long interview process that concluded with me flying out to interview at the end of August, I learned that the position has been put on hold until the new year. :-/ Needless to say, I’m bummed. What really bums me out & makes me worried that something else is going on, is that I had to call the recruiter to get an update. When I called, she seemed so shocked to hear from me, and said that she had notified everyone when she learned the position was hold. I scoured my email & VM – no messages from her or even the automated system. My fear is that it’s not really on hold, I just didn’t get the job. I totally know this isn’t the way to think about this, but I do.

    On the bright side, this was a position that came up & sounded good, but I wasn’t in a rush to leave my company/location anyway.

      1. Glasskey*

        Could be a one-time mistake on her end, maybe she just got swamped. I am actually less concerned about the fact that the job is now on hold. I’ve seen this happen for a multitude of reasons–maybe there’s a new boss/employee starting soon and they want that person to have some say in the decision, maybe there’s something that needs to be updated in the job description which then requires approval (etc.). I once had to put hiring for a position on hold because I had a whole bunch of new openings and I just had to stagger the hiring/training a bit to do everyone justice. Hang in there and keep your eyes peeled for it to get re-posted. If there are worse things going on, they’ll probably crop up at that point.

        1. HarryV*

          Similar happened to me too where after a MONTH of radio silence after the final interview, I emailed a 2nd time and found out they filled the position. You would think they would take the time to let the final candidates know that they filled the position.

  4. Final Straw?*

    So, not necessarily looking for advice, more commisseration. A week ago the President of my company told me that he realized I did a lot more work and brought a lot more value to the company than what he paid me to do. I thanked him for recognizing my efforts and said I’d remind him of the conversation come raise time, typically November. Yesterday I was about to submit payroll and he came to me with two increases to include – guess who wasn’t one of those two to receive an increase…

    I’m now stuck in that I don’t think I should go to him right now to discuss an increase because 1) we typically only do them at EOY; and, 2) I don’t want it to seem as though I’m only asking because of the other people getting an increase. I know there is reasons for a merit increase. It now just seems like it is all shot to hell.

    It also adds fuel to my need to look for another job because when I originally took the job, a couple of years ago, I negotiated a 10% increase after 6 months if I took, and passed, certain relevant courses. I took and passed the courses in the time allotted, submitted the paperwork and inquired about the increase. I was told that they didn’t think they wouldn’t be doing it after all, despite it being in writing. I know I probably should have let it go by now but it still burns, mostly because they preach about honesty and integrity and living up to your word yet screw me over.

    1. J.B.*

      Bring it up. Don’t use seeing the increases as part of the request, while that should be obvious to them, just remind them of the overall conversation. And keep looking.

    2. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I understand why you would be sensitive to this since you didn’t get the raise you were promised before, but do you know why those two people received raises? Perhaps he somehow guessed you would have a problem with this so he mentioned how much he appreciates your work now.

      You say that November is the normal time for raises and you told the President you would remind him then. Go ahead and remind him in November. Go ahead and start your search for a new job now.

    3. lulu*

      The big boss just told you that basically you deserved a raise. Why wouldn’t you follow up with him? The fact that other people are getting raise is a good sign in my opinion. If you go ask for a raise and don’t get it, then that would be another story, but don’t go into it with a defeated attitude.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If these two raises are outside your typical raise time, isn’t it possible that these are special circumstances and that your raise will still be considered along with everyone else’s in November?

    5. New To Managemnet*

      Perhaps during your original conversation he took you saying that you’d remind him of the conversation come November that you are happy at your current rate until November. He may have been planning on discussing a potential raise with you at that time and then decided that since you weren’t pushing for a raise until November you are currently happy where you’re at.

    6. Alma*

      Raises may come at the EOY, however they must be included in budget planning.

      Do speak to the President. The worst that can be said is “No” – and then you have the opportunity to ask some great questions – read Alison’s book again – about what you could do to increase your level of responsibility / to exceed his expectations for your position / to impress other decision makers as you impressed him when you spoke previously.

      Even if this is not a long-term thing (the “where do you see yourself in five years?” kind of place) you have the perfect opportunity to have a practice run. Ask about the career path for someone in your current position. Perhaps ask for some mentoring, or the possibility of meeting him in his office every other month for coffee and discussion prior to the start of the regular work day.

    7. Orbital Transport Six, attached to Masters' Starship CX110*

      I think you should definitely talk to someone about a raise. My only question is: is the President the right person? I mean: is he your direct boss / manager / supervisor? If so – then yes, he’s the one to talk to.

      But if you report to someone else – you should probably talk to the person you report to. But I don’t know your job or your company. I hate to be a downer, but sometimes corporate bigshots will say stuff like “yes, you should get a raise!” but when it comes to following through, they’ll tend to delegate it to someone under them and then forget about it.

      Oh – if you’re going to talk to someone about it: I’d say do it now. It often takes a fair amount of time to push any kind of salary adjustment through all of the paperwork. And: if you talk to the President, you should talk to him while he still remembers your conversation.,

      Good luck with this!

    8. Artemesia*

      I would bring it up now and mention that you already didn’t receive a promised raise and in light of your efforts and accomplishments think it is time. And I would be searching for a job at a company that doesn’t yank you around. You already folded once when they stiffed you on a promise that was in writing; they think they can abuse you indefinitely. Time to go.

  5. matcha123*

    I’ve been on interviews where I’ve been asked how long I plan to stay in the country (living overseas atm). I honestly don’t know, but it’s been hinted at that I should say “forever” or “at least another five years.”

    I usually say that I can’t know for sure because if my parent in the US has a health problem or something like that, I will go home. Is it better to just lie?

    On a slightly related note, I do translation. Most translators are freelance or “in-house” and I have no mentor to speak of. A lot of job-related advice centers around having a mentor or someone “in the same field” I can talk to to get ideas, etc. from. What can someone like myself do if having a mentor is not an option?

    1. Jerzy*

      Unless your parent back home seems likely to develop an illness for which you’d have to move back to the US, would it be fair to say you’re planning on staying “for the foreseeable future?”

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yes – there are always things that could make someone stay in a job for less time than they thought they would. You could have a family member get sick, you could fall in love with someone who then gets an amazing job offer in San Francisco, you yourself could have a health problem, your long-lost great uncle could die and leave you an estate in southern France but only if you go live on it… you just never know. And all of those things could happen to someone who had been born and raised in the place you are now. Any reasonable employer will be understanding when life circumstances change unexpectedly, and even if they turn unreasonable, they can’t keep you against your will. “But you said you’d stay here five years, so there!”

        They just don’t want to hire you if you plan to leave soon – if you were 90% sure you were going to move back to the US in a year or so, or if you’re currently filling out grad school applications for next fall, or etc.

      2. matcha123*

        I’ve actually used a similar phrase (in that language), but that doesn’t seem to go over that well. Some people, who I guess would be my competition, have married and have kids here, so they’re not looking to “run off,” but I’ve been here so long I’m not sure what more they hope to hear.

        But, it looks like “for the foreseeable future” is the popular choice, so I’ll stick with that on future interviews and hope that the phrase doesn’t need any further explanation!

        Thank you all!

        1. Jaydee*

          I do wonder if “for the foreseeable future” seems a little too uncertain. If you really have no plans to leave the country, maybe you could be a little more direct and say something like “Well, I have lived here for X years and love it here and love the type of work I do. It would take a pretty significant change in circumstances for me to think about leaving.”

    2. Beti*

      How about “for the foreseeable future”? I mean that’s true, right? You’d only leave if there was a problem. And you don’t currently see any problems.

    3. hermit crab*

      Ha! I was also just about to suggest something like “for the foreseeable future.” There’s nothing in that response that precludes you from changing your mind at some point, should your circumstances change.

    4. Lynn Rainham*

      In regards to your mentor question: I don’t know if there is a professional association for translators where you are, but I’d recommend reaching out if there is. When I was a student I joined the local PR association and they had a formal mentor program I became a part of. You might not get so lucky as to have a formal mentoring program, but you’ll definitely meet with people who would be interested in working with you and providing guidance. Best of luck!

    5. Gwen*

      Yeah, I don’t think they’re asking if you would stay through any major personal emergency, just whether you’re only planning to be in the country for a year or so. I’d probably just say I have no plans to leave the country.

    6. Monique*

      I’d simply answer that you don’t currently have any plans to move back – if that is true.

      I’m also an ex pat, and like you, the honest answer is, “I don’t know.” I could well stay here the rest of my life, but if I grow tired of it for any reason, I’d just as easily pack up and go home.

      I don’t currently have any plans to do that, though, so… that tends to be my answer.

    7. Daisy Steiner*

      My husband and I are currently in this situation. When he was offered the job in this country, we were still living in our home country, and they had a lot of discussion with him wanting reassurance that he would be staying for longer than just a year or two – he wasn’t just seeing this as a ‘semester abroad’ and would then be leaving.

      He was worried that this meant he now HAD to stay with the company at least 2 years, even if he didn’t like it. I told him that was ridiculous – you can only ever answer those questions about your plans with the information you have at the time. If it turns out LATER that you don’t like the job, you don’t like the new country, your parent gets sick, etc. I don’t see any problem at all in cutting short your employment – as long as you answered in good faith when they asked you.

      To answer your specific question, I found when conducting my job search in the new country that employers were reassured when I answered ‘At least 5 years’ to that question – I’ve had 4 job offers (accepted 2 of them) since I moved to this country and they all seemed satisfied with that response.

    8. Lucky*

      If there an ex-pat community in your country/city, you could inquire to find other Americans or native English speakers who are working as translators, and reach out to them for coffee and see if any are mentor-material, or at least someone with insight into your work, who you can trade ideas and stories with.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I had problems with questions like this, too. They are not asking you for every imaginable situation that could come up. They are just asking you if you have anything planned they should know about. We don’t plan our parents’ illnesses. If everyone answered the question taking into consideration all the things that could happen, no one would make any commitments beyond two weeks. ;) As it stands now, you have no plans of returning home. I don’t think that it is a lie and I think a reasonable person would realize that, “of course, if you have a family crisis you will want to return home”. That just makes sense and does not need explanation.

  6. katamia*

    Still miserable at my job. They reduced my workload for the next few weeks, which is great news in the short term because my current weekly workload was just too much, but in the long run I still have to be able to do the full load. They start new people out slow, so I haven’t even had to do a full workload yet–I’m still in the probationary period and the smaller workload still feels like too much even though they really like the work I’ve been doing.

    Which brings me to my question: should I be job hunting? Do people usually job hunt while in probationary periods if they’re not sure it’s going to work out? If the answer is normally yes, should I list this job on my resume/LinkedIn while I search?

    1. BRR*

      Is it possible it will set easier to handle the workload as you get more experience?

      I would say put it if there is a pretty long gap and no way to explain it. You can get one or two job hops but you need the able to explain it well and stay in the next position for a long time.

      1. katamia*

        It might get easier to handle the workload. I’m hoping it will. But I want to be prepared in case it doesn’t. (Although a lot of people who have been here longer than I have stay late on a regular or semiregular basis, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that long-term just because of how exhausted I already am.)

        I only left my last jobs in July/August (multiple part-time positions), so it’s not that bad, although my probationary period lasts until November, and I suspect July/August-November might be too much of a gap.

    2. Jennifer*

      You can job hunt whenever you want. Should you list the job–well, for now, sure. Maybe not in the future if you’re only there for 2 months and then quit or something.

    3. Charityb*

      You can definitely job hunt during the probationary period and if you have any reason to suspect that you aren’t likely to stay with the job (either because you will quit or because you won’t pass probation) then you really should. As far as including the job, there’s nothing unethical about including it but it might be hard for you to describe your work experience positively if you spend too little time on the job. I’d try and draft a resume with the job included and run it by anyone you trust to see if you have enough experience from that job to make it worth taking up the space.

    4. Alli525*

      I don’t usually read the Open Threads, so you might have answered this question in previous posts, but… have you been able to find a “mentor” of sorts at work to help you with perspective and prioritization? Job-hunting is so exhausting (especially on top of a job that’s running you ragged) so my inclination would be to try to re-examine the issues you’re having from a different angle/another set of brains to see if there’s a way to make your current job better. I have a coworker going through a tough time right now – our company throws everyone into the deep end on Day 1 and says “sink or swim!” – plus she’s young and unaccustomed to the insane workload we have here. I’ve been helping as much as I can to walk through things and show her how to streamline, prioritize, etc., and I think it’s been helping.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. If you can find someone who seems to take an interest in you maybe that person will help you streamline what you are doing and help you to more efficient.

        But I want to throw this out there: How are others doing with their workloads? Are they crying in the bathroom? Or are they just a little grouchy? Do they work late a lot (if it’s allowed to work late)?

        My next question is – do you have something that reeeally motivates you to tough it out? one place I worked paid me more than my previous employers. Yep, I was motivated. Another place I worked I totally enjoyed the people. I had to give myself a talking-to in order to get me to move on. Try to figure out if there is something unique about this job and then figure out if that unique thing is big enough to help pull you through the steep learning curve.

        1. katamia*

          It’s what I eventually want to go back to doing as a freelancer, so the experience will be FANTASTIC for that. But I’m a low-energy person by nature, and not being able to do anything else during the weekday and even on a lot of weekend days is really hard for me psychologically, especially since this job is also aggravating some physical issues I have. I don’t know how long “It’s great experience!” will win out over “I feel less healthy than I have in years!”

      2. katamia*

        I have a trainer and have been very open about…well, not the misery part, but concrete difficulties that I’ve been having with certain parts of the job. He’s very good about answering questions, but the vibe I’m getting is that at least some of what I’m struggling with is an inherent part of the job that will never go away, and that there will always be days when I have to work very late or finish my work at home. And that’s one of the big things that exhausts me so much. If I could leave pretty much right at the end of the workday, it wouldn’t be so bad. And since I’m already needing to stay late when I don’t have a full workload, I don’t know if it’s going to get better as the amount of work I have to do increases.

    1. Chorizo*

      Worst – Spending 2.5 hours trying to ties report to the general ledger with no success

      Best – realizing the next day that the GL numbers were from last year and that the report ties to this year’s GL with no problems

      Shining example of “detail oriented”, eh?

      1. AMT*

        oh man, that is the worst! I hate that…. I’m currently trying to tie a 1099 to the general ledger. It’s not going so well.

        1. De Minimis*

          Had an interview this week at a hospital. It would be a big step up for me. Not sure how it went, but not sure it would be right for me. I know careerwise it would be better for me, but they were pretty clear during the interview that it would be a lot of hours, and I’m not really crazy about that. I think it may also be a type of environment that I haven’t done well at in the past.

          I have an interview at a non-profit next week that I’m very excited about, and right now that would probably be the one I’d want the most. The main issue with that is I know we probably won’t live in this area long-term, and we might end up someplace with not a lot of non-profit presence.

          Have a couple of government interviews coming up too, one of those I would also be really interested in [handling cost accounting duties for the county library.] The other I am not too crazy about mainly due to a longer commute [a town about 50 miles from here] but I’d applied to it because it isn’t entirely beyond the pale of reasonable commutes.

          And I interviewed with a local recruiting agency this week that actually may be a source of work if nothing else works out.

    2. Emily Lemily*

      I got mad props yesterday for fearsomely negotiating a deal with a new vendor. A few weeks earlier, my director had had a gentle sit down with me where he encouraged me to be more direct and blunt internally when I’m pushing projects forward. Before I started working here, I was kind of known for being bossy/blunt/on-the-nose, so I was surprised but took it as the go-ahead to unleash that and was rewarded.

    3. hermit crab*

      Best – working remotely from a fun place.

      Worst – working remotely from a fun place. I am SO BAD at working when I’m not in the office!

    4. lfi*

      best: The head of our department who is visiting left a little welcome to the team goodie bag for me, which was so sweet.
      worst: Wednesday was just not fun. slow. eep.

    5. ACA*

      Best: Being treated like an equal by my primary boss.

      Worst: Having one of my other bosses passive-aggressively correct me on something via email in a way that made me feel small and stupid (and subsequently furious).

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Ugh, anything passive-aggressive at work usually makes me feel small and stupid. I’d so much rather someone be direct about something.

        1. ACA*

          Exactly! If I should correct something going forward, just tell me, “Hey, make sure you say X instead of Y next time.”

    6. Lillian McGee*

      Best: Got a huge compliment from the ED about how glad she is I am in the role I am in and that she trusts my work completely and never has to worry about how things are getting on in my department etc.
      Worst: (Aside from the email debacle I wrote about below) The entire office is diseased! Some kind of virus is taking us out one by one and I was out sick for a day and a half. Ugh!

      1. Casual Friday*

        Awesome to part 1!
        Yuck to part 2. It’s starting already, yikes. The flu shot people were here this week so I can’t deny that the season is here…

    7. super anon*

      best: i got my own office after 3 months at my new job! my first office ever! :D

      worst: the person who had it before me never moved their things out of the office when they left the org and they’ve been sitting there for over a year. there’s no room for any of my own things (literally every cupboard and drawer is full of something), and i can’t even fully open the door because their boxes are blocking it. i’m not allowed to move anything to make the space useable, we can’t pack their things and put it in the building’s secure storage and the person has promised to come twice but has never shown up. i’m so frustrated with having an disorganized space that i can’t properly work in!

      1. Alli525*

        Why aren’t you “allowed”? Who told you you can’t pack up all her stuff and leave it in a stack of boxes in a corner? If your manager won’t let you (WHY??), maybe it’s time to speak to an office manager, or someone who has a good relationship with the former employee and can negotiate SOME way to make your work space a place where you can actually… oh I don’t know… WORK!!

        1. super anon*

          the office manager is the one who told us that the things can’t be moved. my team has tried multiple times to see if the things can be moved out but to no avail, the only option is to wait for her to come and take her things away. i just can’t believe that they’ve essentially let this woman use this office as free storage for such a long time and continue to do so when space is such a premium here! someone told me “well, she’s working with suicidal youth so she probably has more important things to do”… but that seems like such a flimsy excuse. gah.

          also i’m in academia so i’m 100% not surprised that this is a thing that has happened, it’s an entirely different world on this side of the employment fence.

          1. Seal*

            That’s ridiculous. Time for you or your manager or both to go over the office manager’s head and find someone who will resolve the issue to your satisfaction. I’ve worked in academia my entire career and you are correct – this is unfortunately very common. In fact, every job I’ve had has started off with cleaning out the previous person’s office and getting rid of junk they left behind. My philosophy is if it belongs to the institution it’s either returned to its proper place or discarded if no longer usable; personal belongings are either mailed directly to the person, or that person is giving x number of days to pick them up before they’re tossed. I can sort of understand people not dealing with piles of work stuff when they leave a job, but leaving behind personal belongings? And not just the odd coffee mug – I’ve found love letters, personalized artwork, porn…you name it. Don’t know why some of that stuff winds up at work and especially why they didn’t make a point of taking it with them. Needless to say, I always make sure to clean out my office completely when I leave a job (not that I’d EVER bring any of the aforementioned items to work in the first place!).

              1. Alma*

                The former employee is getting free storage – why should they move all their stuff?

                It would be reasonable, I think, for the former employee to be given a short deadline – like 2 weeks – to arrange for the things to disappear ummmm…. be picked up, or they will be put in storage and s/he will be charged for the moving (I’m guessing books, right?) and monthly storage.

                1. super anon*

                  There’s so much stuff. There’s 8 moving boxes of files that are still packed, plus a ton of books, cds, and more files in all of the verticle file storage. That’s not to mention all of her personal items, including art, sculptures, a full tea service including cutlery, and tons of pictures of her kids (that I currently have covered because I’m terrible human and don’t want someone else’s kids staring at me all day). There’s also hand cream that’s so old it’s separated and is disgusting to look at but I can’t throw away because “it’s her stuff”. I have confidential files that need to be locked up in my office that can’t be right now and I’m so frustrated. I’m going to ask again if we can set a timeline for this woman, because you’re right, if she’s getting free storage she’s never going to come get all of her stuff.

    8. schnapps*

      Not necessarily best/worst but kind of both in a weird way.

      Back in the summer, I applied for an internal-ish position (different, mostly independent department from the larger org) – call it Teapot Manager, and after testing and one interview they said they were reviewing the position, and that I was encouraged to reapply when they repost in a few months. Turns person in the position immediately under the Teapot Manager position has resigned and her last day is today (which is why they’re reviewing both positions). So now they’ve asked my department for assistance for a meeting on Monday, and asked for me specifically.

    9. Happy Lurker*

      Best: former employee asking if their job had been filled, because the new job is too much (they left without notice but ultimately we were happy they left)
      Worst: since I have too much on my plate I forgot to send in a quasi important document and feel like crap about it.

    10. Mockingjay*

      Meeting minutes all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Admin Assistant is “working from home” again, so no help there.
      Software team waited until last minute, as usual, to complete the software documentation package that has been languishing for 3 weeks. Guess who has to stay until it’s done (while they go to lunch and leave by 3)?

      One of the guys always makes a special pot of Kona coffee on Fridays. Today’s was Kona Chocolate Macadamia Nut. Yum!

      1. Yet Another JD*

        No snark intended here, I honestly want to know: how does an admin work at home? Maybe the job is different now from when I did it ages ago, but I don’t understand how it’s possible.

    11. GigglyPuff*

      Best: getting the first full draft of a six-month project finally finished, especially since it’s weeks overdue, do to other people not getting me stuff on time.

      Worst: my manager saying one of the main components needs to be re-done, (she’s not completely happy with the sound), despite the very last cut off for finishing is next Wednesday.

    12. NGL*

      Been lurking here for awhile…figure an open thread is a good time to jump in. Especially since this week I just started a new job! So best of the week: making it through week one without any kind of melt down/serious doubt that this move was the right one for me.

      Worst: the new office is located right across the street from where the Pope is visiting this afternoon.

        1. AVP*

          SIGH he’s right in Midtown so if nearby offices closed down half the city would have to be shut.

          My office is farther off but I have to go to a wedding in NJ this afternoon so I’m working from home because I didn’t want to get stuck and miss it!

        2. NGL*

          Office is definitely open. My husband’s boss offered him the chance to work from home, even though his office isn’t in the middle of Pope-hoopla, but no such offer over here. Just e-mails from HR reminding us to allow extra travel time. (My boss did say he was okay if I showed up late due to the traffic, which was good. But I’m a morning person so I showed up early anyway)

      1. Hlyssande*

        Best: Unexpectedly got a free lunch from the cafe two buildings over. Last week I found a bone in my chicken soup and brought it to the attention of the cashier who’d checked me out. She told me today that the manager told her that my next meal was free. Woo! Kindness and politeness really goes a long way.

        Worst part a: Having to downgrade the priority of two major issues found in testing yesterday and today to allow the project to move forward to the next environment because the one we’re in is getting cloned this weekend. They really shouldn’t be the lower priority, but if I mark them at the right one, the project go live gets pushed back another two months. PM and assistant PM are positive the issues can be fixed in the next environment.

        Worst part b: One of the aforementioned major issues is incredibly confusing because we can’t find anything at all that should/would cause what we’re seeing. For just this one business unit in the database. The rest are all getting completed correctly except this one.

    13. Shell*

      Best: had two coworkers talking in the kitchen (I’m about five feet from the kitchen’s door) about me…and they were giving me mad props. In fact, one of them basically said “you’re awesome” as he walked by my cubicle, and the other flashed me a thumbs-up from the kitchen. When I called back thanks and asked what inspired this train of thought, the coworker in the kitchen yelled back “general awesomeness!”

      Ooookay. Yay!

      Worst: I feel like my to-do list keeps getting longer.

    14. TheExchequer*

      Best: Having the manager who flies into the office tell me I’m doing a good job

      Worst: Having the (female) manager training me tell me I should be using my “feminine wiles”. In the year 2015. :|

        1. TheExchequer*

          Right! I thought she was joking, so I started laughing. She was not really joking.

          Whatever line there was to stand in for feminine wiles, I noped on out of that one so I’m pretending it didn’t happen.

    15. Nerdling*

      Best: Um, doctor prescribed me a small pharmacy, so I should be able to survive next week’s training. (Nasty ear infection, can still only hear fully out of one ear after a week of other drugs.)

      Worst: Some other folks let thongs fall through the cracks on a project, so we missed out on an unexpected opportunity to bring it to completion.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        thongs fall through the cracks

        Hee hee hee hee! I’m twelve. Also the reason I don’t wear those things.

        1. This is not me*

          Years ago, back when Napster was a thing, my mom told me that she was trying to find a song that my Andy Griffith-esque dad liked but she wasn’t having any luck. I mentioned it to a cousin, who found the song and called my mom, but didn’t leave a message. With logic only my mother could have, she called me to find out what the cousin wanted. I said “He found that song you wanted for Dad.” There was dead silence for a long while then my catholic school educated mother screamed down the phone line “Thong??? I don’t want a thong for your dad!!” I told my brothers I didn’t know which was worse, the thought of my dad in a thong, or the thought of my fairly goofy cousin in Victoria’s Secret saying “Size? I dunno. The Leopard print looks nice though.”

        2. Nerdling*

          Hahaha! Oh, bless my phone’s tiny keyboard and my tendency not to spell check! That one has gotten me twice today.

          And it really is awful when thongs fall through the cracks…

      2. Nerdling*

        I also have to change my best to chasing my fifty-something coworker down the hallway while he yelled, “Keep your fart cloud away from me!” after he sent us all a link to a Wired article titled “Your Body is Surrounded by Clouds of Skin and Fart Bacteria.”

    16. Lizabeth*

      Best: The office squawker is getting a complete chewing out that’s been a long time coming.
      Worst: It’s loud enough (we don’t have walls to the ceiling) that I’m hearing every word. I’m probably screwing my karma by enjoying it too much.

    17. Golden Yeti*

      Best: bosses gone for the week, because their presence is a huge factor in my unhappiness at this job.

      Worst: getting a call from a recruiter only to find out I’m missing the industry background they were seeking for a position.

      Best/Worst: applying for a job that could screw me up, but maybe in a good way (working for a nonprofit geared toward youth in crisis)

    18. SMT*

      Best – After having last Saturday requested off, my boss gave me Sunday and Monday off this week. I enjoyed it, since starting next week our event season goes from 3 days a week to 4, including Sundays, and I don’t typically get Sundays off during non-event seasons. Then I got my schedule for the week after next, and I have another Sunday/Monday off!

      Worst – I came back to work Tueseday to find our shared office a mess. My colleagues didn’t take care of paperwork (they put it on a shelf, instead of in the binder on that same shelf), and replace the weekly quiz/drawing papers with the ones for this week. It’s a project I started, but they all have access to the documents (or could have found the copies I’d already made in the managers office), and have been encouraged to work on it with me.

    19. NacSacJack*

      Worst – Being told no possibility of promotion to next level this year or next
      Even Worse – A lost and confusing email reared its ugly head this week
      Even Worser – Laid my head down last three evenings after work and crashed out

    20. Small town reporter*

      Best: My boss told me this week I was one of the top two or three hires he has made in 18 years with the company.
      Worst: A bit of drama between my two co-workers (who are in another office and I don’t have to deal with their issues much) about an office policy. I sort of feel stuck in the middle.

    21. MissLibby*

      Best: having last minute lunch plans with my work BFF that no longer works here!

      Worst: getting in a car wreck on my way to work on Monday and spending the rest of the week trying to catch up while not feeling great.

    22. CMT*

      Best: Uh . . . I stopped and got a breakfast burrito on the way to work?
      Worst: I haven’t been reimbursed for travel expenses (including hotel) for a trip I took over a month ago (so now I’m being charged interest on my credit card) and nobody here seems to care or think it’s a problem. Our policy is to reimburse within 10 business days. This was the result of some mistakes by a couple other people and I am the one literally paying for it. I’d be less upset if they acknowledged that it’s a problem.

      1. Library Lady*

        Ouch. Resubmit, with copies of the initial submission, indicating that they need to reimburse you for more money due to their own errors. That might help them understand that it’s a problem, as well as cover the now- larger expenses.

    23. Charlotte*

      Best: having a client call me, the junior associate (since my boss was busy), and ask me to help them resolve an urgent matter, being able to respond with a legitimate solution, acting on that solution, and resolving the issue before morning’s end. Ended with a compliment from my boss for handling it well.

      Worst: trying to wrap up a relatively long-term project but I keep getting interrupted by other more urgent matters all the time.

    24. Anna*

      Best: That’s still up in the air. Having an event at work today and it may or may not go well, so we’ll see.

      Worst: Finding out that I might go to DC for some training in November, bringing it up with my boss, and being told they aren’t sure I’m going yet because money, which is always the issue here. This lead me in to a spiral of not wanting to herd cats anymore and fantasizing about working for an organization that doesn’t have to stress about budget quite as much as they do here.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Best: overabundance of offers (2 with a potential 3)

        Worst: deciding which offer and waiting for people to write the verbal one out, which could slow everything down

        Also worst: the mild callus-like tiny cluster on palm of hand disappeared and resurfaced on my other hand’s index finger X/

    25. Lucky*

      No worst, but two bests: First, when I brought past-due invoices to a client’s attention, he was mortified that he had missed them and said he would immediately put a check in the mail and he did. Second, the new general counsel for my contract position is awesome and we basically finish each other’s sandwiches (i.e., sentences — someone here will get that joke).

    26. Rooose*

      Best: Finding a fantastic candidate who has all the skills for a really niche role I’m working. Interview on Tuesday.
      Worst: Been waiting for a decision on a final round candidate for 2 months. He’s now (reasonably) threatening to pull out of the process. Client won’t reply to emails in a timely manner. Epic, lifechanging job for the candidate. Epic, target smashing fee for me. I could weep.

    27. Elizabeth West*

      Best: The weather is really nice right now. Allergies can go suck it. I’m going out anyway.

      Worst: Finding out we have to go through a new procedure handled by a specific department, but when I emailed them a question, I got a form email back–“Your email has been received by X. A representative will respond to your message in 2 – 3 business days.” THIS IS INTERNAL IS THERE EVEN ANYONE THERE

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        The weather has gone chilly here :(

        Also, some departments seem to have a black hole vortex where you can never get a hold of people.

      2. Nashira*

        The weather really is beautiful out. I’m sitting in the shade on sun-warmed granite, waiting for my ride. I think I’m charming him into going for a walk at the nature center.

    28. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: there was a coffee morning and I ate cake. Leaving work at 5 pm.

      Worst: I still don’t know what my job purpose is.

      Other worst: at above coffee morning, I baked a cake and it was still in the tin. The bottom of my tin has gone missing. Been baking for workplaces since ’09. Never had anything go missing/stolen before.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am hoping that it is soaking in a sink, but OP didn’t notice because there was something on top. sigh. Free cake and they steal the tin. jeepers.

    29. Audiophile*

      Best: Well it looked like I was going to have a few phone interviews. Those disappeared.

      Worst: Got turned down for a job out west, and do to a glitch in the system I got 12 rejection notices for the same job.

    30. periwinkle*

      Worst: Being informed that The Powers That Be were going to halt my project with an external software developer, with development resuming only after we work through a bureaucratic internal process that could take another two months.
      Best: Being informed that we could proceed anyway! Our project has a sponsor at the executive level and I suspect she’s behind the abrupt change of heart by The Powers That Be (she’s the boss’s boss of TPTB).

    31. Kairi*

      Worst – Working with the maintenance guy in our building to hang pictures in someone’s office, only to have him put it in the wrong place. There were lines on the wall for where it should have been hung whoops! (It has since been fixed which is good).

      Best – I gave my dad a tour of the office, and during an introduction to the director of HR, she said that she wants me to be on her team but since I haven’t been here too long she doesn’t want to steal my from my manager yet. I’m an entry-level admin so it was nice to hear that my hard work is noticed and that people want me in their department :)

    32. Nom d' Pixel*

      Best: Starting a new project (that always makes me happy).

      Worst: Going through all of the hoops that we have to go through to demonstrate that an extremely difficult employee can’t be redeemed before firing him. I have the complete support of my boss and even the department VP, but it is really hard to get someone fired around here. He has horrendous mood swings, so the VP told me that anytime he starts to lose his temper, I should just end the conversation and refuse to deal with him for the rest of the day.

    33. Merry and Bright*

      Best: receiving a really nice email from my boss about some work I had covered for a colleague. And discovering I work for the same org as another AAM poster.

      Worst: having my mind go completely blank when I was setting up a conference call. A roomful of people were looking at me to start the call and I just could not remember how to do it. I’ve done it so many times before and yet I could hardly function. Luckily someone stepped in but I wanted to disappear.

    34. QualityControlFreak*

      Worst: Actually had a coworker throw a shit fit at me because I didn’t do her job for her. While she was right there, at her desk.

      Best: I just turned around and walked away rather than saying or doing the extremely unprofessional things I wanted to.

      It has not been a great week at work.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Actually you did quite well. You can’t let stuff like that go unchecked, the no word has to come out.

    35. Nobody*

      Best: I worked a bunch of overtime this week, and my next paycheck is going to be sweet.

      Worst: We had something of a crisis at work, which increased my workload by about a factor of 10. I did an objectively awesome job of handling the flood and triaging everything that needed to be done, but I made a typo on one document, out of dozens that I processed that day. I typed 100 when I meant to type 10, and it kind of screwed up the rest of the document because it made the teapot prices show up as 10 times higher than they should have been. It was the last document I processed before I left for the day, and it wasn’t done yet when I left, so I didn’t have a chance to double-check it as I normally do. Instead, my boss saw it before I did, and the next day, he reamed me for the mistake, even though it took about 30 seconds to correct the typo and reprint the document. It just sucks that I worked my ass off and one easily-corrected typo made me a failure for the whole day.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You’re not the failure in this story. There’s only so many times the boss is going to do that and then he is going to out an employee.

    36. Nashira*

      Best: Found an interesting, unusual networking position that I’m actually a good candidate for, despite only having admin experience formally. Husband helped me brainstorm some great cover letter stuff to demonstrate why I’d be awesome. I’m actually excited to write the letter tonight.

      Worst: working when your brain is in full jerkbrain mode! Or having an argument about job hunting with husband because we were both prickly stressed and punched buttons on accident. Sigh.

    37. Liane*

      Best: A couple days ago, I got an email from the Managing Editor at the gaming blog where I am a Staff Writer & the Copy Editor. The deal all along has been that I was paid for articles I wrote but no additional compensation for the copy editing. He and the owner of the gaming company (it owns the blog) had gone over the budget numbers and were giving me a monthly stipend for Copy Editor duties! It’s very small but I am being paid to do something I enjoy!

      Worst: Out of my 7 hour shift, only the last hour was spent making new teapots. Most of the morning we spent on rework the previous shift was too lazy to do like they were supposed to. The rest of the morning and the afternoon until about 1 hour before leaving was spent fixing a screw-up.

    38. Alma*

      Best: I got a call back for a second interview with a non-profit. It has been a loooooong time since I had a call back. And there are medical benefits. We meet in the coming week!

      Worst: My birthday SUCKED. Two friends took me out to dinner, and when I told them about my job news, and raised my (beautiful, first in a looooong time) glass of wine, neither of them did. They kept eating. It felt like more of a “duty dinner.” I went home and tossed and turned and had angry-sleep all night.

  7. Bio-Pharma*

    An old classmate (i.e. acquaintance) asked for a referral for a job at the company I work at. I’m 90% sure our company won’t be interested based on his background, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to give him that favor. Then I saw #2 of AAM’s article.

    Do you think AAM’s advice applies if the recommendation is for a job in a different department (and therefore you wouldn’t be expected to have the best “judgment or insight into the company’s needs” for that specific role)?

    Also, my company uses Jobvite and encourages all employees to help out with recruiting (e.g. automatically post job announcements on our LinkedIn pages). Because of that culture, could there be less pressure to recommend a star?

    Is it important to send HR a separate email mentioning that my referral is just an acquaintance as a way to protect myself?

    1. Karowen*

      I wouldn’t necessarily give a recommendation, but I don’t see any harm in forwarding their info with a note along the lines of “Hey, here’s a great looking applicant that I happen to know.” If you’re asked, definitely make it clear that you haven’t worked with them so you can’t say whether or not they’re a hard worker, but even just making sure that their application materials get in front of the hiring manager can be a huge help.

    2. Charityb*

      I think the main issue you might have is that you don’t seem to have experience with the department OR with the candidate you want to refer. A recommendation from someone like that really wouldn’t carry much weight since all you would be saying is, “I heard you’re hiring, here’s someone I know is looking for a job.” It can be helpful if you can get his resume in front of the hiring manager, but if you know the person is unqualified I’m not sure if that will be too helpful. You probably won’t get into any personal trouble since you’re not vouching for them as candidates though.

      1. Bio-Pharma*

        I understand my recommendation/referral wouldn’t carry much weight, but my question is whether it would HURT to do so.

        1. Charityb*

          Yeah, and I’m saying that it won’t hurt as long as you’re clear that you’re not vouching for them in any way. It’s not uncommon for people to pass along resumes and as long as you don’t create the impression that you think this person might be a good fit or might be worth interviewing they can’t really get mad at you.

          I personally try not to recommend friends (that I haven’t worked with in any setting — either at a job/school or volunteering) but it sounds like you’re not doing something like that. The HR email might be a little overkill though but you can send it for peace of mind.

    3. Thinking out loud*

      I am generally very honest with resumes I forward along – in this case, if day “Fergus was a classmate of mine X years ago and did good work then. I haven’t worked with him and am not sure if he’s be a good fit because of [reasons], but I thought it might be worth sending you his resume in case you are interested.”

  8. BRR*

    So following last week’s question I decided to resign as of today instead of being fired. I want to be able to present my resignation the best way possible and am looking for feedback.

    I feel like I might have an offer coming this week and I was planning on saying that I decided to resign because I was in the interview process with a couple of organizations (true) and wanted to make sure I had some time to work on my thesis between jobs (my resume shows how I’m still in the process of getting my masters). Thoughts? Suggestions?

    How should I present this in future interviews when I’m not as far a long where I applied while employed but now am not? I can get a good reference or two from senior colleagues but my manager wouldn’t be great to list. I asked out of curiosity and she said she would try and say positive things but would have to mention my pip if asked. Thanks everyone!

    1. WLE*

      I would try to explain that you left because you were doing something different than what you would like to be doing, and that there company is more in line with your professional goals. (If this is true of course.)

      I recently left my position at Flora’s Flowers. My position had evolved into working more on ____ when I would prefer to be working on ______. The time off has given me time to complete my thesis and pursue a new position. I was very excited to see that this position will involve a lot of ______.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      In an interview, the question will be “why did you leave this job?” and the answer can be “it wasn’t a good fit” or “seeking other opportunities.” You don’t have to bring up whose idea it was! I’ve never told anyone I was fired, and the HR records say laid off, so that’s what they would hear if they call.

      References are another story, so if you don’t have to have one from that job, I wouldn’t.

    3. A Non*

      In my resign-before-being-fired situation, my boss (who was a lovely and very professional person) said that she would be happy to recommend me, just not for the type of work I’d been doing. We could both articulate why the type of work I’d been doing was a bad fit and why something else would be fine. I only got into that line of work because the job description changed on me 3 months in, which also helped explain it to future employers.

  9. Lizabeth*

    Check in with AAM collective – is anyone else having issues with the ADP payroll calculators on their website? (link to follow) In Firefox, Safari and Chrome I’ve only been able to use 2 of the 10 voluntary deduction fields or the calculate buttons disappear completely and there’s no way to scroll down. In Microsoft I was able to access 3 of them. So it seems like a coding problem on their end.

    My issue: I tried calling it in to ADP about the website glitch but couldn’t talk to anyone on the phone because I wasn’t the administrator for my company’s account. There’s no one to email via their website either – it all flips back to contacting your admin at your company. My admin doesn’t think that there’s a problem and won’t contact them. I’m planning to write an old fashioned letter to the CEO at the NYC headquarters and see what happens.

    1. Nanc*

      Sigh. Your admin is an [bad word here]. If it’s a problem for one person, than it’s a problem for the admin to solve. That said:
      Have you tried accessing it on other computers or via mobile? If it doesn’t work on any platform you try, it’s a problem for your admin to tackle.
      What version of Windows/Apple OS are you using? I’ve found our one Windows 8 machine has more issues than our 7s or 10s. I know there was a big Firefox update this week, are you sure you have the latest version?
      Do you have a help desk? Maybe open a ticket with them about the issue. They’ll probably kick it to the admin and hopefully hound him/her because they want that ticket closed.
      Reach out to ADP via Twitter or Facebook, in a nice, friendly way, and ask if someone can contact you about an issue.
      On their website, go to the Contact Us page. Click on Company Information (far right) and scroll down to office locations. Find your local office and call them. They’re probably a sales office but maybe having a local contact will help you find a quick solution.

      Good luck!

      1. Lizabeth*

        At home the most up to date Apple OS on the iPad (which doesn’t work at all on that one!), Snow Leopard at home, at work the most up to date Firefox, not sure about the Windows at work. But did query the bro (software engineer) about it and he had problems as well. We don’t have a help desk and yes, I’ve had issues of “helpfulness” with the said admin on other things.
        Twitter and Facebook are a good idea as is trying the local number. I had called the 800 number the first time.

  10. Lillian McGee*

    Yesterday I got the most infuriating email I think I’ve ever gotten. This is from someone that I used to support (lawyer-paralegal) but am no longer subordinate to in any sense of the word. Subject line only (and sent to both me and the current paralegal): “One of you needs to give me some XYZ report training.”

    He has a history of sending these barking orders via email and I have pushed back every time, asking him to communicate more thoughtfully. I thought once I was promoted out of the department I’d be rid of him but no! My response: “Maybe you didn’t realize it, but this email reads like you are giving an order instead of making a request for someone to help you do your job. I don’t take orders, so you may want to consider rephrasing. Thanks.” He responded only that he didn’t realize I wasn’t already in on the conversation where it was decided he’d have to do the reports from now on (???)

    I also forwarded the email to his supervisor (with whom I have good rapport) and let him know how furious I was. He will “talk to” to the offender but he is not a good manager of people. No backbone whatsoever. Should I confront the guy instead and tell him I don’t appreciate his tone-deaf Neanderthal-esque communication style, or should I just let it go? I know I’m going to end up having to train the guy… not sure if it’s a battle I want to pick.

    1. BRR*

      The guy sounds like an ass and I think you’re going to have to establish how to communicate but your response was a little harsh and will likely just escalate things. You can be professional and assertive.

    2. Rat Racer*

      It’s interesting being so far outside of context – I read that email title as someone expressing frustration with technology rather than barking orders. As though the sentence continues silently “or I will throw my &%#@!!! computer out the window in frustration.”

      I posted something similar below about a colleague of mine who is a total ogre “ME NO LIKE HOW RAT RUNS PROJECT GRRRR!!!” What’s with all these grouches??

      A colleague told me that “Mercury is in retrograde.” I have not a clue what that means, but apparently it brings out the worst in people.

      1. Mike C.*

        There are times when one of the planets (or other celestial object) with an orbit inside the orbit of the earth appears to “move backwards” when your frame of reference is the Earth rather than the sun. That’s when a planet is in retrograde.

          1. Anlyn*

            Astrology. Planets in retrograde means that everything is topsy-turvy, which can bring out the worst in people.

              1. Nonniemoose*

                Ack, sorry, I shouldn’t have simplified so much. He’s the messenger of the gods, but usually astrologers translate that into “you have good communication skills.” (Gemini is ruled by Mercury so typically they will write that Geminis have the gift of gab.)

    3. Jerzy*

      I’m honestly not sure if “tone” is a fight to pick. Some people are genuinely tone deaf to the way they sound to other people. I’m married to someone like that. He honestly has no idea how his abrupt tone sounds to others, and it really hurt when they take offense. I’m not saying that this guy is hurt by your being offended, but he may quite honestly have no idea why you’d be upset in the first place. Changing this deeply ingrained communication style is very difficult for some people. It’s likely he’s like this with everyone, and it’s nothing to be taken personally.

      1. Lillian McGee*

        You’re probably right, and he definitely is like this with everyone, not just me. Thing is, his terse communication is not compatible with our office culture. We are a bunch of bleeding heart, save-the-world nonprofiters… not military recruits! So it’s pretty hard to take.

        1. Jerzy*

          I get that. I am a bleeding heart, save-the-world kind of person, and my husband is… not. He loves me and I love him, and knowing that makes it easier to deal with his abrupt attitude.

          A side effect of being married to someone like this is that it makes it easier to deal with similar people I meet out in the world. I try not to take things personally, because they really are almost never meant that way. MY husband is fond of the saying, “Offense is taken, not given.”

          1. LQ*

            To me that sounds like “I should be allowed to continue my behavior as is, I demand you change your behavior to suit me.”

            I do think that finding a way to cope with these people better is a good plan, but I do wish that those kinds of people would be occasionally held accountable for their behavior instead of being able to assume (correctly) that everyone else will have to change to suit them.

            1. Anna*

              I have a theory that some people aren’t apologizing for their past transgression, their apologizing so they can do it again. I know people like this. I call it apologizing in advance.

            2. Jerzy*

              Yeah, I know it sounds like an excuse to be a jerk, and there are some people who know they are acting inappropriately and are choosing not to change. I would also prefer that they be held to account for being the jerks they are.

              I guess I just find it easier to assume they don’t mean it, at least, up to a point. I will let people know when they’ve crossed a line and when I expect that to never happen again. But for a small thing such as a bossy/abrupt tone in an email, I think it’s better to assume no offense intended and move on.

        2. WLE*

          I wouldn’t go to battle over this. If you think you’re going to change him, you’re not. Just try not to let it bother you and keep on keeping on. If he’s treating you poorly in other ways, that might be something to address. However, if this is just regarding his tone in emails, I would just let it go. I’ve learned that some people do not have the best email etiquette. I’ve received emails in all caps, in red, etc. etc. you name it. None of these offenders meant anything negative. They simply weren’t using best practices for sending emails.

      2. Rat Racer*

        I used to work with a physician exec who used to SEND EMAIL IN ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME. “You’re yelling,” we told her, but she never changed. Physician Leaders at that particular organization are notoriously slow to change behavior. (makes it super fun to work with them as a Consultant.)

      3. Charityb*

        True. I get that it’s hard to change, but if you know that you have this kind of issue (because people have brought it up to you over and over and over again) it’s not really cool to take it personally when they get mad at you in return. Not everyone likes to be barked at, and when it’s someone like a coworker (as opposed to a husband who you know personally and know is a good person) it’s grating — especially if they pretend not to remember that you talked to them about this before.

        I agree that it’s important to probably let it go, I just wanted to point out that the “quite honestly have no idea why you’re upset” is hard to believe since the OP has talked to him about this after every single time he did it in the past.

    4. fposte*

      I’m with Rat Racer–without knowing the guy, I wouldn’t have read it as an order. Which also puts me with J.B.–you’ve said your piece; now let it go.

    5. the gold digger*

      I think the issue bigger than his being a jerk on email is his telling you what to do.

      If he doesn’t have the authority to boss you around, then just ignore him.

      If he does have the authority, then I am not sure there is much more you can do. Is he nice in person who is not good at email? Or is he a total jerk? Either way, if he has the authority to make you comply, then I would not die on this hill.

    6. Ama*

      Ugh, I sympathize. One of the directors of another department here has the bad habit of losing track of the status of a project and then emailing everyone who might have been involved with said project asking for a status update in this way that makes it sound like *we’re* the ones who somehow dropped the ball (when what usually happened is she didn’t bother to search her email and find that we sent the information she requested from us days/weeks/months ago). We’re a week out from her department’s biggest event of the year and she’s managed to piss off half the office in the last three days.

      I’m leaving it alone, though because she’s a higher level than I am and I don’t report directly to her. (Unsurprisingly, her department’s personnel has almost completely turned over in the two years she’s been here, as she’s just incredibly frustrating to work for.)

    7. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      Even though he has a history of barking out orders, I don’t know if I would have responded in print the way you did. I would have probably responded a little more gently, then taken a quick walk to his office to say something like you did in the email, still with probably a little less vinegar. I completely understand wanting to tell him where to stick it, but at the end of the day you want to maintain your professionalism (in a way that says you won’t be disrespected) and focus on more important things. If you do have to train him, just be sure to not let him rattle your cage and when he says something idiotic or demeaning, raise an eyebrow and keep going as if you didn’t hear him. This will “hopefully” let him know that in order to get his questions answered he needs to ask a little differently. Good luck!

      1. Lillian McGee*

        I am a real hothead so I thought I was being gentle!! In fact I wrote and rewrote that response and really took it down a few notches… I’m glad for the perspective though, thank you.

        1. Alma*


          What would Joan (Mad Men) or Donna (Suits) do?

          Joan had that raised eyebrow that could burn through granite.

    8. MsM*

      “Sorry, can’t do it.” Or, “Sorry, it doesn’t look like I’m going to have time to squeeze that in until X, and I doubt you want to wait that long. Have you tried [resource or other person]?” It gets the message across that, no, you don’t “have” to do anything on his orders without lecturing him.

    9. Mike C.*

      I don’t see a problem with setting boundaries and expectations with regards to how other people treat you. Sometimes that’s the only way to stop this behavior.

    10. T3k*

      Does he act demanding outside emails? If he does, then he probably needs to be made aware of how he’s coming off, which might include confronting (prepare for butting heads). But if he isn’t demanding outside emails, you could have been a bit more gentle in telling him his email came off demanding. Basically, if you had left off the second sentence, it’d have been a good way to get it across without coming off abrasive. As a fellow tone-deaf email writer, if I got your email response, that second sentence would have rubbed me the wrong way and I’d get highly defensive and I’d forget the first sentence’s input entirely.

      And honestly, his subject title isn’t very demanding to me. If it had been more like “one of you needs to train me ASAP/NOW” that would set me off. It may have been difficult to squeeze “please” in there if it’s something that has to be done because saying please comes off more like “you guys don’t have to train me, but it’d be nice” feeling. But that’s just me.

    11. Chriama*

      This is not the hill I would die on. I understand how this would be frustrating in the larger context of how he treated you in the past, but I wouldn’t even talk to a colleague the way you did, especially one who used to be my boss. And I definitely wouldn’t escalate an email like this to his supervisor. Did he swear in the email or something?

      Anyway, when you’re at this level of hostility with someone I think it’s especially important to pick your battles wisely. It would have been enough to tell him “I’m actually busy with x work for my realboss. Did you mean to ask someone else?” Especially if other people are conflict-avoidant or don’t have the same kind of tension in their relationship with him, you have nothing to gain by escalating every small thing he does, even if it fits in a larger pattern of his behaviour towards you.

    12. Ask a Manager* Post author

      For what it’s worth, that email doesn’t rub me the wrong way at all. Your response, on the other hand, seems really prickly and more than the situation warrants! I’d be … concerned by your response. I’m sure that’s because of context with this guy, but I think it’s worth considering that you might have overreacted to a pretty basic email.

      1. Lillian McGee*

        I guess context is key. He acts this way in person too, not just via email. It’s especially concerning because he treats clients as brusquely as he treats coworkers and clients are low-income people in very vulnerable situations who should be treated with extra compassion. It’s hard for me to hear about that and not get angry when I see him carrying on like nothing’s wrong with the way he talks to people.
        But I’ve done this before… let other information about someone color my reaction to something else entirely. And it has gotten me into trouble. Thanks for helping me realize that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh, that can be a tough one. Things merge inside our heads and three Wednesdays ago and last Friday some how all blend into the event today. I had to make up a few rules for myself because of scope creep on issues.

          Make sure I address what is being said right here and now. If I do not address it when I see it, then that becomes a no-fly zone because I chose not to address it in the moment.

          Make sure I am addressing what is actually being said, not what I THINK is being said.

          Double check my tone. I try to match or come in below the other person. If the person is screaming/cussing, I will not match that. But if someone is making a false accusation, I will stand up for myself in a logical/persuasive manner.

          And sometimes I fail. So my third rule is whenever I feel a conversation went poorly, I must take some quiet time to figure out what parts I could have handled better. And I think about what parts I did well, because very seldom is the whole conversaton a total miss. I don’t make the autopsy a belabored thing. I pick out a couple things off the top that I did not like and want to handle differently. Then I pick out something that I did like and I want to keep doing.So maybe I spend 10-15 minutes thinking about it on the way home from work. And then I vow to apply what I have learned to the next situation. I did this for a while and found myself improving, my responses were sharper and fit the immediate situation better. I still do these autopsies, because, hey, there’s always some different situation popping up.

          1. Alma*

            This post is incredibly helpful, NSNR. Thank you. I’m going to print it out and read it so often I don’t have to think about what to do next.

            You have Won the Internet today IMHO.

        2. Orbital Transport Six, attached to Masters' Starship CX110*

          I feel your pain. Seriously – earlier this week I got a text message from someone I once worked with – someone who was (and reportedly still is) a complete pain in the ass. The message was something like “Give me a call so we can talk about blah”. If they had used the word “please”, I would have gotten back to them.

          Sometimes little things mean a lot.

    13. Boston admin*

      I think it’s great you spoke up. Too many people would just stew about it and vent to 20 people, but you’re walking the walk and talking the talk. It’s not personal, you are just letting him know how he came off.

    14. Alli525*

      I know EXACTLY how you feel about emails like this! I am also no-longer-subordinate to someone awful, and he’ll occasionally cc me on something to his admin that clearly have nothing to do with me, or say something like “New Admin, do this. Alli525 will show you.” The f**k I will! You can ask nicely!

      That said, I think your response was probably unnecessarily hostile. I just wouldn’t have replied, and filed it in a “whatever” folder or trashed it. He’s not my boss, he can’t give me an order, but being rude/harsh with someone who is still technically higher than you on the work ladder just makes YOU look like the unprofessional one. Sinking to his level feels good in the moment but can really do harm in the long run.

  11. Assistant Troubles*

    I have to sit down with my assistant today and have a difficult conversation. She worked for us originally as an intern and we offered her a full-time job. She already had a commitment immediately post-graduation but eagerly accepted the job for after the commitment concluded. So, she’s been back now for about 2 months. I was anxious for her to return and thought that she’d pick up roughly where she left off but would need a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things. Well, 2 months later and she’s still not even performing at the level she was before she left.

    I want her to be able to take on higher level responsibilities and elevate her position but I need to know she has a firm grasp on the simple tasks she’s currently assigned. I also need to know that she can work efficiently and meet deadlines.

    Any words of wisdom?

    1. BRR*

      Be clear and direct. Say what you said here. Let her know the consequences. Have tissues handy. If you can/she needs it offer her a long lunch or to go home early without losing pto.

      Also hopefully this isn’t a surprise to her.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I wouldn’t go into the conversation expecting her to fall apart. She might react many different ways.

        I agree, though, that being clear and direct is the way to go. Start by expressing the positive – tell her that you know she can perform at a higher level because you were seeing it before graduation. Be specific about what the problems are and what you need to be seeing: “Sometimes the teapot reports are late and have typos. You need to check over them to make sure there aren’t any mistakes, and they have to be in every Tuesday by 10 am.”

        I’d also be ready to listen, in case there’s something going on that you’re not seeing or something in her outside-work life. Not that personal life issues necessarily excuse poor job performance, but knowing that that’s a factor could help you and her come up with strategies.

    2. Mike C.*

      Set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Yes, it’s a dumb buzzword thing, but it’s a useful dumb buzzword thing.

      Also, ask your employee how they think they’re doing. There might be a disconnect here, or there might be other issues you’re not aware of. Or maybe there are outside distractions, who knows?

    3. Macedon*

      Might be worth taking a look at what’s set off the discrepancy between her performances. Is she working under different conditions? On a predominance of different tasks? At different times of the day? With different people? To different metrics? Is something going on privately that’s preventing her from giving her all to the job this round?

      If there’s nothing like that in the cards: set specific objectives, mention your concern about her current progress and that you’d like to help her to return to form. See if she’s willing to do that – maybe she was significantly more dedicated during the trial period but feels she’s not willing to dedicate as much time/energy to the job on the long run – and how she feels about the subject, then go from there.

    4. Assistant Troubles*

      I think some of these things are my struggle, and I should have been more specific in my original post. Several times over the past 2 months I’ve followed up with her on things and asked if there is a better way to communicate tasks, deadlines, etc. Asked her for feedback on what is/isn’t working for her. Talked with her about what her current tasks are and the goal for the position. I just get a blank stare back and/or tears. I’m guessing she’s overwhelmed with entering the adult world but I can’t do anything unless she communicates and tells me what’s going on and/or where she needs help.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        “Here’s what I’m seeing / what’s going on?”

        Said in a kind tone. Makes it clear there’s an issue, but is a reasonably supportive way of broaching it.

    5. LQ*

      Examples. You did X, I need you to do Y. You missed Z, I need to know you have a plan in place to not miss Z again.

      Specific examples are such a big help.

  12. hermit crab*

    Do you consider yourself a scientist? Why or why not?

    I’ve been wondering recently about who “gets” to call themselves a scientist. Is it everyone who has a science degree? Everyone who has a science degree and uses that knowledge, even if they are not actually “doing” science? Or is it only people who are actively researching, teaching, etc.?

    I have a science degree but basically work in policy — I haven’t done original research since undergrad. Sometimes I feel like a sellout because, clearly, as an analytically minded person, I should be a REAL SCIENTIST instead of contributing to the women-leaving-STEM situation! (said with some sarcasm) Does anyone else wonder about this?

    1. J.B.*

      Policy is hugely important to science because without funding how is the science going to happen? I tend to define those things by degree, after all a MD could be doing not-active-patient care but definitely still be “Doctor” :)

    2. Jubilance*

      I went through this when I transitioned from laboratory chemistry to supply chain work. Recently someone said to me “once a chemist, always a chemist” and I decided at that moment that it was true :-). In my case, I have 2 degrees in chemistry and worked in labs for the first 7 years of my career, so while I may not work in the lab anymore, I’m still a scientist. Even in my current work, I use scientific methods when I approach my analysis/daily work so there’s still a tie-in.

      I think it gets more tricky when someone has a degree in the sciences but has never worked in the field. But at the end of the day, I’m fine with whatever a person wants to refer to themselves as.

      1. hermit crab*

        I like that! I usually say “My background is in [field]-ology” — even though I’ve since gotten another degree that is more related to my policy work, my career is still focused on that original field. But by the “once a scientist, always a scientist” definition, I could cut to the chase and call myself a [field]-ologist without feeling like a fraud. :)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I have a degree in criminology, but I would never refer to myself as a criminologist. It’s an associate degree (I only lacked Statistics to pull it to bachelor level and there is no way I could have passed that), and I have never worked in the field. All it’s good for is writing crime novels.

        Which will be nice if I can actually publish them!

      3. QA Lady*

        I agree with this. I have a BS in chemistry and even work at a lab, but I’ve transitioned into QA. Considering I do considerably more research and number crunching now than I did when I was running water samples through columns on the bench I would argue I’m more of a scientist now than when I was an analyst doing stuff by rote.

        1. Algae*

          Same here (are you me?). :)

          I do refer to myself as a scientist, especially among my kids, because I feel it’s important to show science is more than just chemicals, women are scientists, and there’s lots of different parts to science. But I don’t work in the lab or the manufacturing floor and rarely wear a lab coat.

    3. Mike C.*

      At the very least we should exclude the folks who sit at home and read conspiracy blogs and random abstracts in PubMed.

      I have a BS in Math/Bio, started in the lab sciences and am now in aerospace. First off, I don’t think you’re a sell out because we all have to pay the bills, and research budgets public and private have been going down the tubes for years now. Bell Labs, Xerox PARC and so on don’t exist anymore. Secondly, if you’re using your expertise in a related field – you mention policy, but i would count advocacy or journalism among others – I think that totally counts. We need folks who actually understand the science rather than being swayed by public fear or private lobbying.

      As for the actual title of scientist? I’m guessing someone with a masters/PhD performing actual research, but I think reasonable people can expand what being a “scientist” in 2015 really means. I do agree that there should be a distinction between folks who deal with scientific topics, and those who have a scientific background and are dealing with such topics.

      It reminds me when I was watching a political debate years ago and it was early on and a bunch of candidates were trying to throw out crazy sound bites to get attention. When some complicated international relations questions came up, the candidates who had actually served time on the Foreign Relations Committee dropped their facile sound bites and started discussing how complicated things really were and how there wasn’t a simple solution. Those without such experience just continued on. They then went back to previous tactics afterwards, but the contrast was telling.

      1. LQ*

        But reading conspiracy blogs in my pjs and claiming I know ALL THE THINGs from the abstract (because I do!) is how I show I am a Real Scientist.

        (I really do wish I’d gone into sciences but I was …aggressively dissuaded because girls don’t do that. So mostly I read conspiracy blogs and try to shut things down. It never works with true believers but I’ve made a few people slightly less credible over time.)

      2. themmases*

        People really need to stop going off of PubMed abstracts. I get that unless you’re connected to a really good library, the full article is behind a paywall for most laypeople. But abstracts aren’t intended to serve as a substitute for the paper, even for experts. They’re intended to help the paper’s actual audience– again, experts– decide whether to read the paper. They do that by highlighting the main result and giving basic information about the method, keywords, and secondary results that would be the most interesting to other people who do research in that field. Speaking as someone who has cut down countless abstracts, the authors do this within incredibly tight character and formatting limits that force them to cut out important information.

        A major thing I see laypeople argue about with study results is control of confounders. Most of the time, authors don’t have room in the abstract to list every factor they controlled for, but it doesn’t mean they didn’t do so, and it would be obvious to anyone reading an actual table of their results. Even if the abstract does say the authors controlled for something like smoking, without reading the article you have no idea how they ascertained it. (Smoker/nonsmoker? Never/former/current? Lifetime pack years?) In any case, adequate control of confounders doesn’t mean an association is causative, only that it is valid. Many study designs can’t establish causation, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad studies.

        In general I would say, if you wouldn’t be able to understand the full paper without doing a lot of research, you don’t understand the abstract either.

        1. hermit crab*

          There’s a fun systematic review looking at common foods and cancer risk that contains this absolutely wonderful sentence in its own abstract: “Statistically significant results were more likely than nonsignificant findings to be published in the study abstract than in only the full text (P < 0.0001)." That's science, right there!

        2. Shell*

          Amen to this. I always want people to cite/read the original study if possible, but if you (general you) don’t understand it or can’t access it, I’d rather you read a summary from another source (preferably written by someone who has read/can understand the paper) than try to draw your own conclusions based on an abstract you don’t understand.

          And most people don’t understand academic papers! I don’t understand most papers on chemistry, and that was my area of study! I wouldn’t have a prayer for papers on other subjects. But I wouldn’t pretend to be a subject-matter expert on a topic I don’t understand based on the abstract of a paper I didn’t read.


          1. themmases*

            Yes! There is no shame in not being able to understand an academic paper. Most of them need the context of what else is going on in that specific field to really be understood. They are really part of a big conversation where everyone has to come in in the middle and read for a while before they understand what is going on. Outside of a couple of areas where I’ve done research myself, I would need a long ramp-up time to understand them too.

            I was complaining about this once to my partner, whose dad is exactly the type of conspiracy theorist who will link to a bunch of abstracts that probably aren’t even from reputable journals. He asked me how he should go about finding actually reputable material to refute him then and I told him, just don’t. You can eventually read enough articles to understand one without trouble. It just doesn’t work that way with abstracts, and the fact that PubMed indexed something doesn’t mean it’s a good source.

        3. Honeybee*

          And the thing is, most scientists would know and assume that a well-done study has some controls/covariates/cofounders. You poke into the methods section to find out what those are, but big prominent studies in good journals would never get through peer review without controls. I’ve found that most non-scientists do the opposite – they automatically assume that the authors didn’t control for simple things unless the newspaper article they are reading explicitly says so.

    4. Alison with one L*

      I have a similar struggle with “Engineer” as opposed to Scientist. I directly apply the knowledge from my degree, but I work in an environment where no one else has Engineering degrees. My title doesn’t mention Engineer. I’m probably on the periphery of “STEM” in my day job, despite being quite passionate about encouraging women in STEM. The struggle is real.

      1. Nashira*

        I’m there with software engineer and developer. In some ways, I am a better programmer than my brother who works as an app dev, per him, but I’m shy of applying to dev jobs because I haven’t got a degree yet. I feel like I have to be thoroughly credentialed before trying, because I’m legally a woman. :-|

      2. Honeybee*

        My job is listed under an “engineering” job function and I don’t do anything remotely like engineering, lol. My degree is in psychology. My title also makes me sound like I do stuff that I don’t actually do.

    5. Shell*

      I think I wold call people with a master’s in a science, and who uses (or remembers) that knowledge, a scientist. I don’t call myself a scientist, because with only a B.Sc, I feel like I have nowhere near the depth and breadth of knowledge for that title :)

      A thing I’ve heard is that for engineers in the hard sciences, after a bachelor’s you’re an engineer (or a very junior one, until you’ve passed the professional licensing exam), but for the sciences, a bachelor’s means that you’re only beginning to learn the science. And while I can’t speak for sane, real-world engineers (my only real exposure to an engineer was a real blowhard who was all “I’m an engineer! Engineers are the smartest people in the world!!1!111!!!”), I do think the part about scientists is true. Especially since five years out from my degree, I’ve forgotten quite a lot.

      Chemistry was my religion up until the tail end of my B.Sc. I’m confident I can still, say, tutor grade 12 chem easily and I still remember most of the basic concepts that first year students take. But I’ve forgotten my organic chem, I would have great difficulty reading an NMR, and point groups and coordination chemistry is a distant memory.

      1. Mike C.*

        I feel like I have nowhere near the depth and breadth of knowledge for that title :)

        I know, right!? I feel like I’m better at calling something out as bad science than having that deep, deep understanding that you speak of.

        1. Shell*

          Of course, my original post should’ve said “master’s and above” (i.e PhD), but I think everyone knew what I meant :) Man, I worded that poorly; let’s try that again!

          I have great respect for people with a scientific background who also uses that knowledge (patent lawyers/agents, policy makers, etc.), but I wouldn’t call them scientists. My personal definition of scientist are for people who are doing, or have done research of some sort, and thus expanding the knowledge of their scientific niche/fields. (If they’re not currently doing it but have done it/remembers doing it and still retain that knowledge, I’d still call them a scientist.)

          As for the M.Sc and above distinction…I’ve done research work myself, but I wouldn’t call myself a scientist because I was mostly just following directions from the prof or grad students; they were the brains. I was more of a glorified lab tech. I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the hypervalent iodine I was using, but they knew all about it! A glorified lab tech like myself back then doesn’t quite deserve the scientist title.

        2. hermit crab*

          On the other hand, maybe it’s exactly that “I am always learning” attitude that makes someone a scientist!

        3. Rye-Ann*

          Heh, I have a Master’s in chemistry and I feel this way too. Of course, according to some people, a Master’s in chemistry is only worth marginally more than a B.S., so there’s that. XD

      2. hermit crab*

        Haha, I’ve definitely run across that ONLY ENGINEERS CAN EVER BE USEFUL mindset. There’s a type of engineering that’s sort of adjacent to my field in the sciences, so at conferences there’s a lot of (mostly) friendly us-versus-them comments.

        I wonder if an education/experience metric similar to what you see in some job applications could apply to your definition — for example, if someone has a bachelors in a science plus X years of experience during which they continued to learn/expand their knowledge, that counts too.

      3. Stephanie*

        (my only real exposure to an engineer was a real blowhard who was all “I’m an engineer! Engineers are the smartest people in the world!!1!111!!!”)

        Eyeroll. I hate that attitude, especially since engineers having communication/presentation issues is so common.

      4. Anx*

        I don’t know that the level of degree should really matter, although it really does seem as though anyone without an advanced degree is considered ‘not a scientist.’ In fact, I think this whole thread points out the odd elitism in science.

        You can be a PhD student who knows a lot about your research topic, but who is working almost exclusively under an advisor and carrying out their experiments, whereas you can be an undergraduate research assistant or hired research assistant who has more influence in the direction of an experiment.

    6. RG*

      So, full disclosure – I’m a patent agent, so I’m kind of in the same boat. I personally think that if a job requires scientific out engineering knowledge, then it’s STEM. So if you work in science policy, that’s STEM. Patent law is STEM. Technical writing can be STEM. Even if you aren’t actually producing knowledge or a product, I think as long as you are using your knowledge it should count.

      If you don’t mind my asking, what kind of policy do you work in? I’m interested in policy, specifically tech policy.

      1. hermit crab*

        I’m in the environmental field, with degrees in a natural science and public health. I work for a consulting firm that has technical support contracts with federal agencies — so we are not making policy, but rather informing it and helping to implement it.

        1. RG*

          That sounds really interesting! Would you mind talking about it? I’d be more then willing to email you if you’d prefer that.

        2. themmases*

          I think what counts as a scientist is particularly fuzzy in public health since so much of it is implemented through policy. For example, program/policy evaluation *is* research in the public health field. There are many program director jobs in public health that require at least some knowledge of basic research methods as well as deep knowledge of the evidence base for a particular health policy, to which your work is somehow adding.

      2. hermit crab*

        Also, I think “Even if you aren’t actually producing knowledge or a product, I think as long as you are using your knowledge it should count” is exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you :)

    7. blackcat*

      I am in a STEM field, currently in grad school in an interdisciplinary program. So it’s joint STEM vs not-STEM field. I’m housed in the STEM department and do most of my coursework/teaching there, but my research is solidly in the not-STEM field. My masters (en route to the PhD) is in the STEM field.

      For me, the self-identification as a scientist is about the way I approach the world. The world is full of puzzles to figure out, and I have a pretty sophisticated set of science and mathematical tools to tackle them. There is so much to learn, and I would spend my entire life just learning about the different subfields of my field. The issue for me in doing research in the discipline is that I seem to have a strong desire to be a jack of all trades rather than a master of anything, because being a jack of all trades gives me the ability to understand SO MUCH about the world.

      Oddly enough, my self-identification with the word “scientist” grew stronger while I was a high school teacher. I think some of that was to encourage my students to really adopt the mind-set of the field, but some of it was how much being a scientist effected my teaching. It did so in ways that are hard to explain–some of it was how I was always curious and wanted what happened in the classroom to be about exploring *with* my students, some of it was about using my science knowledge to make sense of research on best teaching practices, and some of it was just about sharing my love of the discipline. One of my coworkers once commented that what made me such a good teacher of my science field is that I was a scientist first and a teacher second. The kids saw me in this way, too, which I think was particularly important to a lot of the girls (I am in a male-dominated branch of STEM and I am female).

    8. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Ooo, this is dear to my heart. I teach science at the elementary level, and encourage my students to think of themselves as scientists, not just students learning about science. “All right, first grade scientists, bring your journals to the rug and let’s talk about what you observed with the tennis balls and the ramps.” I also emphasize to them that all kinds of people do science, even in their everyday lives – a baker adjusting the amount of leavening in a recipe, a gardener trying to get rid of slugs, a birdwatcher on a hike, a baby playing with toys in the bath.

      On the other hand, when I’m in a grown-up setting and meet someone new, do I introduce myself as “I’m a scientist”? No, never. I call myself a science teacher. And sometimes I feel the same way you do – like maybe I sold out, because I should have used my biology degree to go do REAL SCIENCE and be a WOMAN IN SCIENCE instead of being a woman teaching elementary school, because ugh how cliche and what is this 1860?

      But most of the time, especially almost a decade into teaching, I don’t feel that way. I think both you and I are doing important work for science even if we are not pipetting things or collecting soil samples or making particles collide underground in Switzerland. That kind of work can’t happen if the public doesn’t understand the value of science, and if children aren’t brought up to be excited about science. Also, do you like what you do? Because I love what I do, and frankly I found rotating petri dishes tedious, even when p came out <0.05. And in the end, I'm living my life to make myself happy as well as making the world better.

      So that's my essay on the topic…

      1. hermit crab*

        Oh, thank you for this. I like the idea of “doing important work for science”! And yes, I love what I do. I don’t think I would be happy working out in the field (there’s a reason I took an office job in the first place) and I doubt any feelings of hard-core-ness or contributions to knowledge would make up for that!

      2. Honeybee*

        Arguably you are doing the most important job IN science, because none of us scientists would exist if we didn’t have great teachers who fostered our love in science and got us excited about it. I still remember my school teachers who helped my fascination with subjects blossom.

    9. LabTech*

      I work in a chemistry lab, but have never really considered myself a scientist. I always thought the distinction had as much to do with education as with occupation. I have a bachelor’s in chemistry and math, and work as an analytical chemist, but don’t have an advanced degree, and don’t do original research. (We’re the ones who analyze things for the people doing research.)

      I sometimes consider myself a chemist, but I don’t know if that’s entirely true since my title is assistant chemist, and don’t see a promotion happening any time soon.

    10. themmases*

      Interesting question! I think about this occasionally because I am working on an MS in epidemiology and my work (racial/socioeconomic disparities in chronic disease outcomes) is a very desk-based affair with strong ties to social/behavioral science. No stereotypical germ hunting like TV epidemiologists, and I don’t even get (or need) a lab coat anymore! My work *is* science but I’m not sure if I would call lump it in with STEM or if laypeople would misunderstand me if I called myself a scientist.

      I’ll consider myself a scientist when I finish my MS I think. Normally I just say I’m training to be an epidemiologist. When I was a research coordinator (making big contributions to study design which is how I even got into this) I called myself a researcher to people who didn’t need the gory details of my day to day work.

    11. Calacademic*

      I’m a scientist. I am NOT a technician, I am NOT an engineer.

      Technicians — these guys (usually guys) know machines top-to-bottom, can diagnose problems in 10 seconds, and solve mechanical problems on the fly. They know HOW to run a machine but don’t know why you might want to change a parameter. 1.2 or 1.1 seconds? I don’t know… the limits are x and y, so you can do either.

      Engineers — very close cousins. I think the main difference between engineers and scientists are motives. I work in the Bay Area and there are tech startups here who work in our big University fabrication facility. Those guys are literally trying to produce electronics chips that they can mail to a customer. They are constantly having to solve problems or optimize the process, but the end result is to get a product in a customer’s hands. They DO science in the process, but not to publish in a paper. (And they’re not always willing to share their secrets, because they’re secret. Q: Why are you using Helium in that machine? A: Proprietary.)

    12. Nonniemoose*

      Are you me? I could have written this exact thing myself with all the same sentiments. For now, I usually say that I “got my degree in science” to distinguish from the work I do now, or I clarify that I’m still interested in science as a personal hobby.

      Since you’re in the same boat as me, I’d also be curious to hear from you: Do you like policy or do you want to go back to science? Sometimes I feel like working in policy is useless because of the current congressional gridlock. You expend a ton of energy to move the football 1 yard. And on a personal level, I’m also not a “people person” (I can get by, I’m developing my “people” skills in a technical way, but I’m never going to be naturally gifted with it), which is something that is key for policy work, while I’m very gifted, technically speaking, with science. I also just love academia in general. All of this to say that I’m torn between continuing the “good fight” with policy (advocacy) or going back to do something science-y. I was curious if you felt the same way or if you really love what you do with policy? (And if you love policy, I’d be interested to hear why! It’s always good to get other perspectives.)

      1. hermit crab*

        I’m glad to find so many kindred spirits here! I think part of my struggle is that I actually do love what I do — I’m a big-picture type and a people person, and I learned early on that the extreme focus on small areas of expertise required by academia is not for me.

        It’s funny though, because I have almost the opposite opinion from you — that doing science for science’s sake is what’s “fighting the good fight.” I guess the grass is always greener!

        1. Nonniemoose*

          I think it’s great that you’ve found what you love to do! That’s obviously really important for life and personal satisfaction. If you are keeping up on science topics (and it sounds like you are), and you’re reading abstracts and evaluating the validity of the experiment, etc., I think that would still qualify as science-y and calling yourself a scientist might still apply.

          You’ve also given me some food for thought, and it’s heartening to hear that others think doing science for its own sake is “fighting the good fight.” It’s also given me the thought that exploring options to go back into academia might not be a bad idea. So, thank you for that! :)

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          This is a big part of why I prefer my teaching job to research also. By teaching, I’m not focused in on just one part of one topic of one discipline in science – especially by teaching at the elementary level, where I teach so many different topics over the five-year span that I have my kids. Today I get to think about buoyancy, then anatomy, then evolution, then geology, all in one day. I’m certainly not going as deep with those ideas as I would if I were specialized, but I am a dabbler at heart and so this suits me.

          1. Honeybee*

            Do you teach at a school where you teach all the elementary kids in science topics? I’m curious because most elementary teachers I am familiar with teach all subjects to a specific grade level, so they only have the kids one year. If you’re in the former situation, that’s really really cool because I’ve often thought elementary school should be done that way – with targeted subject-matter experts who know how to teach $subject to young children.

            1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

              Yes! I have a similar job to the art teacher and the music teacher -I have my own classroom and each class (kindergarten to fourth grade) comes to science once or twice a week. They also do have a main classroom where they learn math, reading, writing, social studies, and may do some more reading-focused science, but I get to spend all my time creating hands-on experiments and activities for them. I love love love it.
              My school is a private school, but I know of some public schools with science specialists, too – and on the other hand not all private schools in my area have one.

              1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                Oh, and it’s also great because I get to know the kids over five whole years, and so can create a really long-term curriculum that builds on previous years.

              2. hermit crab*

                Oh wow, that sounds amazing! I wish we had done science like that in my elementary school. Instead (as I remember it) it was almost 100% reading the textbook and doing worksheets.

    13. Stephanie*

      Ah, interesting. I was an engineering major, but haven’t really worked as an engineer. I did patent work and do supply chain work now, so I’m always mixed whether I can claim the designation (I did pass the FE, so I have the license…that is gathering dust). I had to understand the technicalities of the inventions for patent work, so I did use my degree very specifically then. Now, I use my background in a more broad “Ok, I can think like a left-brained person” way.

      I’m always mixed about doing STEM outreach work. One reason (among many) is because I’m like “Yes! Go be an engineer! And then leave the field after graduation like I did!”

      1. Anx*

        STEM outreach work is hard to be enthusiastic about because I don’t think most people are even leaving the field on purpose, but that there are limited opportunities.

        Maybe that’s just because I have been unsuccessful in science, though.

    14. Nom d' Pixel*

      A have a Ph.D. in chemistry and do research for a drug company. I should be in the lab right now, but it is Friday :/ So yeah, I consider myself a scientist.
      I am not sure what you mean by working in policy, but your job doesn’t sound scientific, so sorry, I wouldn’t count it. I only consider people to be scientists if they work in labs/field/etc… or directly supervise those that do.

    15. DatSci*

      I consider myself a scientist, because that is what I am, a data scientist. My degree is in psychology, which was part of the College of Sciences at my university. What I hate hate hate is when people refer to me as a marketer (usually because this type of research is part of corporate marketing departments). I am not a marketer, that is a completely different job, I am a researcher and scientist. I think the fact I wear khakis and not a lab coat is what throws people off…hehe.

    16. Nelle Jefe*

      I am a field scientist, but I often feel like I am Not a Real Scientist because pretty much all of my time is spent collecting data. I have hardly any publications to my name, and I’m definitely in a culture where one’s status as a scientist is measured by publications. I have written tons of quarterly and annual analyses of environmental time-series data, but that Does Not Count.

      Sometimes I worry about this, either realistically or not; but sometimes I revel in the fact that I am basically Indiana Jones.

    17. Honeybee*

      I consider myself a scientist. I’m a psychologist who does research in interactive media for a private company (not academia, not a research lab like Bell or something). A lot of people might say that a social scientist does not count, but I had an NSF in graduate school and the NSF considers me a scientist under that umbrella, so I think that’s good enough.

      Science is a way of thinking, not necessarily a spread of fields. I think if you’re trained as a scientist and you are using that training in your work – even if you aren’t doing bench science – you’re a scientist. Hell, even if I went into something completely unrelated, I’d still identify as a scientist, because my training and viewpoint doesn’t disappear the moment I enter another job.

      1. SocSci*

        “Science is a way of thinking, not necessarily a spread of fields.”

        This! My first undergraduate and graduate degrees were in STEM, which has absolutely influenced how I approached both my Ph.D. and the ‘soft science’ organizational work I do today!

    18. Clever Name*

      I have a BS and a MS, both in a science, and my job title has the word “scientist” in it, so yeah, I consider myself a scientist. I don’t to research, so I consider myself an applied scientist.

  13. Jane, the world's worst employee*

    Has anyone successfully transitioned into a financial planning/debt reduction consulting career?

    Background: I’ve been working in marketing for nearly 10 years. I like it okay and am good at what I do and have built a strong career. I live in a mid-size city and make $65K annually. I’ve been at my large, corporate company for almost five years. They were recently sold to a competitor and I am planning to be out of a job within the next 12-24 months, though nothing is for certain. I’m trying to make plans for my next career during this time.

    In the past few years, I have discovered that I’m quite good at financial planning and helping others get out debt. My church recently asked me to lead a debt reduction/fp class early next year actually. I have turned my financial life around (debt-free, saving for retirement, down payment for a home). Most importantly, I am incredibly passionate about financial literacy. I literally will talk to anyone and everyone I know about it – that’s how passionate (and annoying) I am about it.

    Ideally, I want to make more than my current salary and I’ve heard that many financial planners make in the six figures. To be able to live the lifestyle I want, I’m going to have to increase my income.

    1. fposte*

      I think there are a few things to consider here. If money is really important, that points you more toward high-commission percentage-of-assets accounts that handle investments (which requires registration with the SEC); if financial literacy is the driver, that points more toward hourly-fee-based stuff that brings in less money. It’s not impossible to do both, but there’s a big chunk of the financial planner world that makes their money *because* their clients aren’t financially literate.

      Do you know if you’d be looking for a CFA or CFP credential, or joining a network like Garrett? Sites for those seem to have some more information that might help you, too.

    2. Allons-y!*

      My husband has been a financial advisor for about 3 years. He is exceptionally smart in this area, and was very excited about the career in part because of the six-figure pay check. He is only three years in, but he is continually struggling because being an FA (depending on which company you go with), is essentially like starting your own business. Most of his frustration is that a lot of people say he’ll do business with him, or would like to talk to him, but then they never do. In this three years, he is no where close to the six-figure wage, and is getting very discouraged (I’m actually making more than him, and I’m an entry-level receptionist!). From my experience, it’s a tough business. Definitely do a lot of research to find out what type of advising you’d like to do.
      Some places only target people in a high earning range, and focus on retirement, and the stock market, and not much room for actual advising and assisting with getting out of debt.
      Other companies are more involved with that process, and don’t limit their clients to just people with lots of money. My husband is excited that he can actually help everyone, rather than being limited to the rich folk.

    3. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I can’t speak to being a financial planner. I know there are basically two types; fee-based is you have set fees for different planning help, and percentage of assets – where you get a percentage of assets. I know if I was looking for a financial planner, I would also be looking for one that is certified, so you need to look into getting a CFP.

      You can also volunteer at your local Financial Counseling Association of America nonprofit and help people get out of debt.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      I don’t know how successful he’s been, but a former colleague went from being a video producer to financial planner. If he can do it, I’m sure you can. Just look into what kind of programs you would have to study/take to get the kind of accreditation you need. You’ve got a couple of years to ramp up, so it’s not like you need this settled tomorrow. But IMO if this is something you’ve discovered you’re passionate about, go for it!

    5. Credit Counselor*

      I’m a credit counselor, which is different than financial planning. I’m not that familiar with financial planning, but I associate it more with investments and planning for retirement. It sort of sounds to me like you’re talking about credit counseling. In my city, we make between 30 and 45 thousand a year.

    6. some1*

      I’m an admin supporting financial advisors. The salaries definitely have the potential to be six-figures, but as Allons-y points out, that isn’t certain, and involves a LOOOOT of hustle (like succeeding in any kind of sales) and at leas at my org, the goals can be tough, the competition is fierce, clients can be high-maintenance and/or flighty.

      Also, it’s an insanely regulated industry. There are any processes tha don’t seem to make much sense and are too drawnout but you have to do them that way because Compliance. You also have to be in really good standing wth your finances, credit and no criminal record.You can and do get fired for filing personal bankruptcy (except for medical bills), defaulting on a loan, getting into debt or even getting a DWI.

      1. fposte*

        I’d like to emphasize the word that some1 uses: sales. That’s a huge part of big-income financial planning.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “Insanely regulated industry” does not begin to describe what is going on there. Every move you make is covered by a reg somewhere.

      1. Jane, the world's worst employee*

        Thank you! :) I mean, really – she *is* just the worst employee ever. Who else is responsible for heating up fish in the office microwave, putting magic curses on her coworkers, asking job applicants to put on a skit and cook dinner for 47 people, and quacking. It could only be Jane.

  14. Mimmy*

    Rant: Gee, thanks for telling me and my colleague to wear a suit to a meeting with a municipal official; yet, you can’t be bothered to wear a suit yourselves?? You even TOLD my colleague you were wearing a suit! Oh, did I mention the municipal official was casually dressed as well?? (At least they were dressed neatly).

    My colleague and I are volunteers, the casually-dressed guys are employees of the agency we volunteer with. You would think it’d be the reverse!


    1. Charityb*

      That’s maddening. I know that a lot of people are dismissive of dress issues (in the sense that it’s not too important to tell people about that stuff) but it’s sooooo frustrating when you look out of place like that. At least you were the ones dressed up and not the other crowd; you may have stuck out but at least you looked good!

  15. Calla*

    Two questions this week!

    1. Almost-kinda-sorta like one of the questions this morning but without intended deception. Basically, after getting married I thought I was going to start going by my middle name instead of my very-unusual first name. Make all the name changes at once, I thought. I applied to some jobs with this name on my resume, and started the interview process the same way. I’m still in the running for one position where they know me by my middle name. The catch is, I’ve decided that even if it would make my life easier, I realized that I don’t think I could get used to going by my middle name, and I’m sticking with my given first name. ASSUMING this place hires me (I had a final interview last Friday), when do I bring it up and how weird does it seem?

    2. Another assume-I-get-this-job. I interviewed for a brand new publication that is an offshoot of a major publication. Obviously, if I got the job, I wouldn’t be job searching again for a long time. But I’m curious, in scenarios like these is it appropriate to indicate the parent company on your resume like “Actual Company (Parent-Company-Name Media)”? The new publication (at least for a while) probably won’t be recognized, but the main publication is a major name and definitely would be.

    1. KathyGeiss*

      Re: name change. I’d bring it up at the offer stage. It’s a bit of a clunky story to explain but try to come up wit my a short, straight forward explanation. “This may be strange but I’d like to start my employment being referred to by my first name, NAME. I know it’s a bit unconventional but I’ve gone by MIDDLE NAME in the past and I’d like to make the switch before I start here.”

      I realize that’s not the whole truth but it’s easier to explain and understand.

      1. Calla*

        That’s along the lines of what I was thinking. References might have been a hitch in the story (as in, “I’ve gone by middle name in the past” and yet telling them “my references know me by first name so use that one when inquiring”) but I’m actually interviewing for this one through an outside recruiter, so he does the reference checking, I believe.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      Are you going to legally change it again? Because then you could just mention that you are undergoing a name change and prefer to be called ___. If not, you could just let them know you have a preferred name without all the backstory and if there’s a background check you’ll provide your previous names anyway and they can see the changes.

      1. Calla*

        No, since it was my middle name there was no need to legally change, and the extent of using my middle name was a handful of job applications. Preferred names are totally normal I know, but usually it’s so you go by something OTHER than your first name, not switching back to it, so that’s why I’m a little unsure how to go about this one.

    3. BRR*

      First question I’d just be honest. “I thought about going by my middle name after getting married but decided not to.” It’s not that weird.

      Second. Maybe put the big company as the employer then your position title at smaller company? So like
      Director of chocolate teapot videos at YouTube.


      Director of chocolate teapot sitcoms at cbs.

      1. Calla*

        Thanks! I didn’t want to come across as wishy-washy but the way you phrased it sounds so simple!

        And for the second thing, that’s a good idea. I guess how the offer comes across could also help (as in, does it come directly from Google? if so there’s my answer!).

    4. Honeybee*

      1. You can bring it up at the offer stage. Different, but I applied to all of my jobs by my original (“maiden”) last name. At the offer stage, I brought up that my legal last name was different but I go professionally by my original last name. This was important for background checks, I-9, etc. I’m in a month in and it’s gone relatively smoothly!

  16. Beti*

    I am pursuing a career change as an actuarial. I keep reading on the actuarial forums that resumes should be one page. I can’t quite tell if they are talking to brand new graduates (I’m in my late 40s so I have plenty of work experience just not in this field) or if this is a quirk of the actuarial industry. Thanks in advance for any input on this – and any other getting-into-the industry advice!

  17. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    My boss seems to have a weird concept of what a boss actually does–he’s almost afraid to tell us what to do. (This is on top of his loathing to tell us anything in a normal straightforward manner, and the absolute lack of both good and bad feedback.) We have a show next week that a coworker and I are heading up to a few days after my boss does, and he asks “When did you want to come up?” Uh, we had been under the impression that we were to appear there on Tuesday. “Well, it’s fine, whenever you guys want is fine.” Tell us what to do! Don’t make us guess and penalize us for guessing incorrectly!

    I told him I wanted to take a week off in October and he said “well, I guess I can’t stop you.” Yes you can! You can feel free to say no! You are the boss, you can tell me if it’s not a good time to take vacation! Our former admin asked him for two weeks off in the spring and when she got back my boss told her “You are NEVER doing that ever again.” You cleared it! You could have said no!

    I fully realize that I am not being the best employee possible, but frankly between the absurdity of my job, ongoing family struggles, and trying to get back to the States to spend time with my terminally ill father who is dying of cancer….I think I’ll just deal with it and not care that much. This job is not my life.

    1. The IT Manager*


      Had a similar frustration this week.
      On Day-2, vendor asks “when do you want to hold first meeting?”
      I say: “How about Day-5?”
      Vendor hems and haws a tiny bit and eventually says “How about Day-10?”
      That’s the last day they can hold the kick-off by contract! I not really upset by holding it on the last day, but, really, the guy wasn’t offering me my pick of dates so why play it that way?

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      Ugh people like that are so frustrating! My boss is like that, too. I’m sorry about your current life circumstances, too. That must make it even harder to deal with.

    3. LAI*

      Same! Not my boss, but I am on a project team and the team lead refuses to make a decision or have an opinion about anything. He spends half of every meeting asking everyone else for their opinions, and the other half apologizing for not considering our opinions enough. Every single time we ask him for an answer to anything (like “when do you want this by?”) the answer is always something like “what do you think we should do?” or “I need to check with the director of the program” (who obviously doesn’t need to be involved with minor details at this level).

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I have this problem with skating coaches sometimes. They are hesitant to tell me what to do because I’m older than they are. Um, I’m PAYING you to boss me around! I had one coach who had no qualms about it and I made actual real serious progress under her. Sadly, she moved to Florida. :(

      It’s really tough to have to manage yourself. And I hope you get to visit your dad. :P on your boss if he doesn’t like it.

  18. Purple Jello*

    The company is running lean, we recently lost some key (and well-liked) people, everyone is stressed. Any suggestions on how to spread a positive attitude and keep energy up?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      No specific advice, but I think the most important thing is to send the message that the company will get through it. Having a plan in place for getting the work done in the meantime, and also for replacing some people, will help also.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Ask/Determine what the priorities should be, then let people focus on those only. “Hey, people, we’re going to work on the X files only, this week/during the next month/until we get some new people on board. Drop everything else. (SIGHS OF RELIEF FROM REMAINING STAFF.) If you run into snags, let me know and we’ll figure it out together.”

      Revisit those priorities weekly. Communicate.

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        Setting priorities and communicating is so valuable for morale no matter what the circumstances. I wish more bosses would realize that.

    3. Mike C.*

      Be transparent, and set a plan going forward. Show folks that even though things are tough, that you’re actually acknowledging that things are difficult. When things get better, make sure things do get better top to bottm rather than making running on fumes the new normal.

    4. Chriama*

      I think rather than trying to spread a positive attitude and keep energy up (which kind of sounds like trying to control people’s emotions and reactions to a stressful situation), focus on being open and transparent with people. Let them express their concerns but don’t let it turn into unhealthy venting. Acknowledge the difficulty they’re going through and encourage them to talk to you if they need more information. Basically, treat them like adults rather than teenagers at a summer camp or a pep rally.

    5. Bonnie*

      I agree with everyone above about communication but I will add that stress is contagious. If management is stressed, employees will be stressed even if they don’t know what the problem is. Management’s confidence in communicating the plan to get through the rough patch will come through and will help to reduce the overall stress level.

    6. Going Anon*

      A few years ago, the minority partner at my company decided, right after renewing his contract, to leave to start his own company. Because of the financial hole his departure was going to put us in, we had to let 5-6 people go the morning he left, at a company of ~45. It was shellshocking, but the layoffs happened first thing in the morning, and the minute the last person had been walked out, the CEO called an all-staff meeting and said “That was awful, but it’s over now – if you’re sitting in this room, your job is safe.” He let us know as much as we really needed to know, then sat in the room until everyone had had a chance to ask a question. Each team at the company was given something to do to help reorient – sales called clients to inform them, admins updated marketing documents, etc.

      I think being as transparent as possible, and as realistically optimistic as possible, is essential for leaders who are trying to move a company through a crisis. If their jobs AREN’T safe, don’t tell them they are, and don’t give away state secrets, but honesty and optimism trickles down.

    7. Ad Astra*

      Lots of good advice here, but here’s my contribution: Be willing to let some lower-priority tasks or projects go. When you’ve got a skeleton crew, it’s reasonable to ask people to take on some new responsibilities, especially if some of that is temporary. If the current lineup can’t reasonably accomplish everything the previous crew could, decide which things can be put off for the time being and take a look at any processes/tasks/projects that could be dropped permanently.

      I don’t know what industry you’re in, but when I worked for a newspaper we had an extremely lean crew and, because the hours and pay were both crappy, we lost a lot of top performers. The best thing our executive editor ever did was identify some tasks that were no longer worth our time: like spending a good hour or so a week assembling and then reformatting an arts & entertainment calendar that nobody ever read, according to our analytics. There were a lot of small things that we’d been doing just because we’d always done them, and it took several months of being severely understaffed before someone thought to re-evaluate the way we spent our time.

  19. Katie the Fed*

    argh, I’m trying to make November’s schedule and 90% of my team wants the friday after Thanksgiving off. I don’t understand why it’s not an official holiday. Grrrrrrr.

    And now the looming doom of the shutdown so everyone’s all stressed about that.

    1. Mimmy*

      It’s been awhile since I’ve heard anything about this looming shutdown (it’s all been Pope stuff)….seriously, again? What’s the deadline? Crossing fingers they come to their senses.

      1. Jerzy*

        The deadline is the end of September, so if there’s no budget by Wednesday @ 11:59 p.m., the federal government shuts down. As a contractor for a federal agency, I’m curious to see if we’re going to be allowed to continue to work on/bill for our projects.

        Any guidance, Katie the Fed?

        1. Nerdling*

          Not Katie, but I think all the contractors or most were designated non-essential last time. I’d say your best bet is to talk with anyone who was there during the last shutdown. As contractors, if you’re labeled non-essential, you won’t be working, and there’s no guarantee that Congress will agree to allow back pay for the hours not worked.

          If you manage to be labeled essential, you will have to work, but you won’t get paid until the shutdown is lifted

        2. hermit crab*

          We’re federal contractors and all billing stops during a shutdown. We take vacation or work on overhead/indirect stuff — it’s a pretty big financial hit for the company.

        3. Katie the Fed*

          I think it depends on the terms of the contract – we’re hearing that contractors stay on because their money is already allocated.

        4. AnotherFed*

          All of our contractors stay on – the contracts are funded separately from the fiscal year, so as long as there is legitimate work for them to do, they get to work and get paid. The tricky bit is when the contract period of performance ends before the government gets the money to pay for the next period of performance – then there’s a gap and temporary lay offs on the contractor side.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        It’s my annual email-to-zero day when I fully clean out my inbox and get it down to zero messages. I love it!

        1. I Heart Oregon*

          Ummm wow! Impressive! Can you explain to me your system? Both my work and personal email are a mess-only the very most important emails get organized. I am too afraid to get rid of most work emails from clients or employees in case I need them for documentation. Which normally I don’t. But sometimes I do. Help!

      2. Ezri*

        My husband went into retail this year, so he has to work on almost every major holiday. I end up working around those holidays as well, so I can use my PTO when he’s off. I think it’s nice to be in the office when 80% of people are off, and get myself organized without being interrupted every five minutes. Those days are relaxing in their own way.

      3. Anx*

        I think if I were to stay local, I’d love the chance to work on a quiet day (plus, I could use the paycheck!). But I wouldn’t want to have to cancel holiday travel over it.

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        I also hated the thing where they would send people home at noon and give us half a day but only if you already planned on working it. If I took a vacation day, I was charged a vacation day, but if I planned on working (which could interfere with plans for family time), I might get sent home early and not charged a vacation day. But they wouldn’t do it consistently. It was always a gamble.

    2. Nerdling*

      I feel you on the shutdown stress! I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it on the front of getting your personal ducks in a row AND managing your employees’ stress.

      Given how many people travel, I’m always surprised the day after Thanksgiving isn’t a day off.

    3. BRR*

      I despise how it’s not official everywhere.

      I’m sorry about the possible shutdown. We have a great post to know what to say and not to say though :).

    4. Mockingjay*

      After all these years working as a Federal contractor, I have learned to plan for shutdowns. I think Mr. Mockingjay and I (he’s a contractor, too) shall be painting rooms. I have the colors all picked out. :)

    5. Mike C.*

      Yeah, I really feel for you guys, like teachers you guys always seem to get the brunt of the bullshit that’s happening way, way above you. :(

      If it makes you feel better, it looks like Congressional leadership wants to avoid a shutdown at all costs, so here’s hoping it’s not a foregone conclusion.

      1. Mike C.*

        Also holy crap, Speaker Boehner is retiring in October. Yeah, there’s likely going to be a clean CR because his opponents can’t threaten him with losing his job at this point.

    6. The IT Manager*

      I’m getting the “we have full confidence the government will not shut down” email assurances. Not actually reassuring since that is what they said in 2013 and they said that up the moment we were told to shut down.

    7. cuppa*

      I’m dealing with the same thing the day after Christmas, even though it’s a Saturday this year.
      A few years ago, we traded Veteran’s Day for the Friday after Thanksgiving as a holiday. I love the veterans, but it’s been great.

    8. Ad Astra*

      I wish it were an official holiday. I have to work the day after Thanksgiving, which makes it impossible for me to travel to spend Thanksgiving with the family I haven’t seen in two years. But pretty much everyone else will be out of the office, so I won’t be getting much done anyway. There is no real need for me to work that day (unlike at other jobs, where the work absolutely has to get done each day), so I’m pretty frustrated.

      I would also be ok with moving Thanksgiving to a Friday.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We will be open because our clients are open. I don’t mind; I think the fam is meeting up at Christmas this year instead of Turkey Day, and since I always have an ice show in early December, I hate going out of town that weekend anyway. I need to practice and sew a stinkin’ dress. I hate sewing.

        I kind of wish I didn’t have to do Christmas this year either. I wish I could go somewhere.

      2. Ad Astra*

        (I’m not a state employee but we have all national holidays off, except we didn’t get July 3 this year when July 4 was a Saturday, and I doubt we’ll get any weekday off for Christmas next year since Dec. 25 will be a Sunday.)

        Man, what I wouldn’t give for the opportunity to work on Veterans Day (a random Wednesday in November that none of my friends or family have off) instead of the Friday after Thanksgiving.

      3. Sparkly Librarian*

        My family celebrates Friday Thanksgiving – stems from my grandmother realizing that her grown/growing children would have other commitments on the Thursday. I love it! If I have Thursday off, I can relax or accept an invitation to a friend’s gathering, and if someone has to work that day, I get major points for volunteering in exchange for my choice (Friday) off.

    9. OriginalEmma*

      Another federale stressed about the shutdown, too. I have vacation planned for Oct. 1st and 2nd, an event a few states away, and I may have to cancel. :(

      1. Yet Another Fed*

        I think that if you have your leave approved before the shutdown, you can go ahead and take the time off (which YetAnotherFed spouse [also a Fed] had to do for our vacation during Columbus Day week). The real messy situation is if you didn’t have your annual leave request in and approved before the shutdown. Then you could be considered AWOL if you tried to take leave.

    10. Could be*

      Pennsylvania state worker’s holidays

      1. New Year’s Day
      2. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday
      3. Presidents’ Day
      4. Memorial Day
      5. Independence Day
      6. Labor Day
      7. Columbus Day
      8. Veterans’ Day
      9. Thanksgiving Day
      10. Day after Thanksgiving
      11. Christmas Day

      1. Ellen*

        As a native Pennsylvanian, the surprise for me in this list is that it doesn’t include the Monday after Thanksgiving (the first day of deer hunting season, for which schools are routinely closed, because, I was told, they simply wouldn’t have been able to sufficiently staff any aspect of operations, including teachers).

    11. Omne*

      For employees of the state I work for it’s a holiday. IIRC they swapped Columbus Day for it back in the early 80’s.
      The four day weekend is nice.

    12. Hlyssande*

      My company uses it as an official holiday for US workers. Our Manila team also follows US holidays.

      Sadly, not all divisions choose that as a holiday, so we do need to have a few people in the office, but there’s always some shifting around and comp holiday time.

      I took it off last year and it was a wonderful long weekend, exactly what I needed to destress.

    13. Noah*

      I don’t work for the federal government, but the idea of a shutdown sucks because the industry I work for is heavily regulated and it takes months to get anything done as-is. Last time there was a shutdown it was a disaster.

    14. Marcela*

      When there was a government shutdown (2013?) we were freaking out because that could mean my employment card was not going to arrive on time and I would have to quit my job for a while. Now, we are freaking out because my husband, now a federal employee, could be forced to use his holiday days when the lab is closed, so he won’t be able to travel to our home country next year as we wanted. WTH?!

  20. eliza*

    Does anyone have any advice about pursuing education in graphic design? I’m interested in trying for more creative jobs but I feel that my education is lacking. In addition to taking classes and fooling around on my own I’d like some formal classes that have assigned projects and peer review. Another Bachelor’s (I graduated in 2010) would probably be overkill, right? Is a certificate program a good idea? (There are a couple options locally – I’m in North Texas.) I’m trying to distill my abstract thoughts into a more actionable plan in hopes of getting out of my increasingly awful current work environment.

    1. SweetTeapots*

      Have you looked it to the free/low cost options of massive online open courses? Like EdX or Coursera. I know they offer a lot of coding courses, but they may provide graphic design too.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      I think that you should look into what kind of night school/continuing education is offered in your area. Most of the colleges around here (including the one I attended) have weekend/night classes for people who want to learn various things (i.e. printmaking, figure drawing). It’s a matter of finding it. There are some things you just can’t really learn online and having exposure to other students’ work helps you gauge your own/gives you ideas and perspectives you didn’t think of before. You may not need to take a full Bachelor’s degree, you may just need to study the things you’re interested in… unless that kind of diploma is required by the places you would want to apply to.

    3. Chriama*

      Interested to hear about this too! I’m interested in teaching myself web design, but I feel like my overall aesthetic sense is a little lacking for front-end work.

    4. Brian*

      While you are exploring education, is there a small nonprofit that you could do volunteer graphic work for? A lot of small organizations would adore the help, even if you don’t have formal education – and it would simultaneously give you a portfolio and some graphic-related experience for your resume!

  21. KathyGeiss*

    What do you do to stay motivated? I love what I do day-to-day and I work with great people. But for the past few years my company has been performing poorly on a regional and global level (and this impacts our budgets and bonuses). I have a hard time buying into the strategy set out by senior leaders and it’s really demotivating. Even though it doesn’t Impact my day to day much, I strongly value being part of something bigger and I’m struggling to stay motivated because I don’t toally believe in that bigger thing.

    I’m not willing to jump ship just because thing are tough but I’m open to any ideas on how to stay positive and motivated.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      Following, I’ve been feeling super anxious and overloaded recently and want to recharge. I was thinking of volunteering with a student as a field instructor where I got my masters but I think that might be too much commitment.

    2. MsM*

      Well, I think there’s a difference between jumping ship because times are tough, and moving on because you don’t have faith in leadership’s ability to make things better or at least minimize the impact of whatever else is going on. But if you’re going to stick around, I think you just keep telling yourself that while the big picture is important, your contribution to making that vision possible is the work you do on a day to day basis. You need to make sure that’s as good as it can be, and that you’re keeping an eye out for opportunities to make it better. If that work and those suggestions are being undervalued or shot down without due consideration, then it’s definitely time to move on.

    3. Boononymous*

      I have always worked in a fast-paced environment and have had trouble understanding why certain things are done, to the point of frustration. Long story short: I focus on me. Every morning I try to read an article/story or listen to a podcast/TEDtalk that speaks to me as an individual — be it about communication, personality, leadership, etc. I’ve also started writing in the Five-Minute Journal every morning. These two exercises honestly let me express gratitude, identify what I look forward to and start me on a positive path throughout the day.

      The day may turn ugly later, but only you can control how you feel. If you like your job/company, focus on you and you can make the experience better. Find ways to make you happy and it will infect others.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The times that I have stuck with difficult situations have been rewarding times because that is when I have learned A LOT.

      It’s important to realize that when we are questioning our leadership, it’s IS going to be hard to stay motivated. Sometimes just dragging that truth out into the light of day helps in a small way.

      Most of the time, when I have stuck with a difficult situation it never played out as bad as I thought it would. I call this a lesson about fearlessness. It’s valuable. Anyone can be a good worker when things are going well, but how do we handle it when things are NOT going well. So you can motivate yourself by telling yourself you are learning about marching forward in face of numerous obstacles/concerns. Tell yourself, “this will grow me, if I let it”.

      On the personal side, remember these sitautions are draining. Make sure you are getting rest, eating well and taking time outs from work. See, it’s not just about fortifying you as an employee, it’s also about fortifying you as a person. How are your goals in your personal life coming along? If your work life dominates your thoughts, and your personal life slides to the backburner it’s going to be much harder to cope at work. This is because you are giving up your personal life so you can put the bulk of your energy into coping with your job.

      Lastly, be willing to do check-ins. A decision today to tough it out, might not be appropriate three weeks from now or three years from now. Check-in periodically to make sure that you still want this decision here. Even if you decide, yes, you still want to tough it out, sometimes reaffirming your commitment helps in a small way.

  22. Rat Racer*

    I have a meeting today for a project I’m leading and I am nervous. There is a man on my project team (more senior than me, but from another department) who gets really surly/grumpy. When he’s dissatisfied with something I’ve said, the way data are portrayed, or (I don’t know) the weather, he calls me out harshly in front of the rest of the team. He’s known throughout the organization as being a grouch, so generally, I just focus on the content of his comments and not his tone. But I’m thinking that I need to take a more assertive stance and say, “OK Ogre, I’m hearing that you want to change X, Y and Z. If you want to talk more off line about how this project is being run, let’s set up a call.” (Note: all meetings are virtual here). AAM Community, does that sound like a good approach? Should I just ignore Ogre’s surliness? Now that I’ve enlisted one of my direct reports to join this meeting I feel a sense stronger sense of obligation to stand up for myself – she is a young woman (like I am), and I want to set a good example.

    1. KathyGeiss*

      I don’t think you should put up with it and your approach sounds good to me.

      It diffuses the situation while still giving him an opening if he has legit concerns. Good luck.

  23. Marie*

    I’ve been looking for a new job for several months now. These last few weeks, I’ve had several phone interviews, in-person interviews, and have even reached the reference stage. Next week, I have 3 interviews coming up and I’m awaiting confirmations from 2 more. I’m on a roll and I feel my time may be coming soon and I’m so excited! In the meantime, I’m preparing myself for the inevitable time I leave. I’d like my successor to be prepared, especially if I need to leave without much notice. I would like to put together a good reference document for my successor. Does anyone have any tips? I’m currently an admin assistant by the way.

    1. Virginian*

      When I left my former job, I put together a binder for my successor that included tips for the parts of my job that people weren’t too familiar with and made sure that all the files I created were labelled correctly and stored in a shared drive.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is exactly what I did–in fact, I did it as I was training, so I could refer to it. It helped when I went on holiday and my backup had questions. Someone had done it for a previous job and as it was rather persnickety, I was forever grateful.

    2. Kasia*

      Make sure your instructions are as dummy-proof as possible. You never know who will take your position over and what they have experience in so it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m talking step-by-step instructions that anyone with zero experience would be able to follow.

      I’ve had experience in both making a binder and trying to follow instructions left behind by someone else. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to follow instructions that give you vague details.

  24. Sara The Event Planner*

    A couple of weeks ago, I posted looking for advice on telling my boss I’m pregnant. I just wanted to thank everyone for the great tips! The conversation went really well, and she seemed genuinely happy and excited for me. She also seemed to appreciate the fact that I had given some thought to who should handle my projects while I’m on leave. Overall, not scary at all – and as I suspected, I now feel silly for being so anxious in the first place! :)

  25. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    It’s back-to-grad-school time and I’m taking a class on management. We are using a textbook that seems to believe it can teach us all to be managers- which is a really interesting idea to me, the idea of being taught in a strictly academic setting (distance learning at that!) to be a good manager.

    I am excited to see how the class goes, even though some of my least favorite peers are also in it. I never thought I wanted to act as a manager in any kind of capacity but aspiring to be a head archivist means I could very well end up as one (if I’m not a “lone arranger”).

    If anyone has any experiences learning management skills from a book, I’d be interested to hear about your experience!

    1. Rat Racer*

      My grad school management class was the MOST useless class I ever took. But it was interesting – kind of – in so much as the science of human behavior is interesting. Now as a new manager what I really long and wish for is a cohort of managers (some new, some more seasoned) who can gather together on a weekly or even monthly basis and talk through our management questions, concerns and woes. The AAM community is my virtual version of this.

      Also: 100X more helpful than my management class at Cal: Alison’s book on Non-Profit Management.

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        Obviously I’m partial to Alison and wish her book was required reading, but in all seriousness I think that style of book- written as guides by managers but accessible and not heavy collegiate texts, would probably be more beneficial. I mean, I’m a grad student I don’t need a whole chapter defining “personality,” I need to know how to work with them!

        1. Rat Racer*

          Exactly. And knowing someone’s Meyers Briggs won’t tell you how give feedback when you feel like a team-member isn’t pulling their weight, isn’t paying enough attention to detail, is sending e-mail in the wrong tone of voice. More importantly, a text book can’t help you navigate the politics of your particular organization, telling you which hills to die on, which to pots to stir. That’s why mentorship is SO important and I really really wish we had something at my company for that purpose.

          1. catsAreCool*

            True, but if you grew up in a family of introverts, learning about extroverts can be very helpful and vice versa. A feeling type may feel that a thinking type is too abrasive, where other thinking types think that person is not abrasive at all. A perceiving type may find a judging type’s tendency to plan well in advance annoying and likely to ignore interesting things that come up at the last minute. A judging type may find a perceiving type “flaky”. The fact is, we’re different, and being able to understand the good and less good in each type makes us better rounded.

            I think Myers-Briggs is more about understanding different ways of being more than problem people.

    2. BRR*

      I took a management class online. Awful. Somebody who has only been a professor teaching students how to manage in an office environment where tenure doesn’t exist. The books were decent but still all academicy. They had AAM concepts but spelled out longer.

    3. cuppa*

      I’ve decided that this is my new passion in life: helping others to be great managers. There are so many skills that just aren’t taught in books and you can’t learn them on the job. This site has helped me so much with being a manager — even just the help with how to phrase something.

      1. Rat Racer*

        I wish there were more people out there like you, Cuppa! The world needs good managers. My poor direct reports are my guinea pigs, and no one deserves that

        1. academic librarian*

          I am a manager in your field. I am the curator of a special archive. Take and do well in the management class. You won’t know how this part of your education will inform your work. And truly…Ask A Manager and Evil HR Lady should be required reading for these classes. If you get lucky, you will have staff to supervise in addition to interns, student workers, and volunteers. Think about the good and bad managers that you have had so far…you can learn from both experiences. In all circumstances, choose kindness.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      The only class like that I ever took was criminal justice organization and management. That was the single most boring class I’ve ever had in my entire life. There is just no way to make “should we implement a non-smoking policy in this facility” interesting in any way whatsoever. I saved the book, however, for reference. So far, I haven’t had to use it, and I’m not looking forward to it.

    5. Ad Astra*

      In journalism school, I took an elective that was called something like Media Leadership & Management, and that’s what first sparked my interest in management and corporate culture. I was really hoping the things I learned would help me land a position as managing editor at my school’s student newspaper, but they did the traditional newspaper thing and promoted the best reporters into positions that would no longer allow them to report.

      Reading AAM has made me realize that I may not be cut out for management because I’m not good with uncomfortable conversations.

    6. MaryMary*

      The professor for my undergrad management class was one of the worst teachers I had in college. He had been in academia his entire career and could only talk to the theory, no practical experience at all. He was also sexist (if a male student and a female student made the exact same point, he’d praise the man and tell the woman she was wrong) and used to make us complete surveys to support his management research either directly before or directly after we took our midterms and final (he had to have gotten a lot of surveys where someone circled A for every single question).

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It is exactly what you are saying here. But, it should be a fairly straightforward class to take. Try not to think about real world relevance and you will be okay.

      I believe I have learned more about work place issues, management perspective and other topics here, than I ever did in school. Except maybe accounting. My father insisted I take an accounting course, years ago. He said it would help me to understand why bosses make the decisions they make. I agree, that helped me a lot.

      But, you will be okay. Don’t over think questions. There seems to be lots of lists. Instead of memorizing the list I used to just picture an example and then figure out the steps of working it through – this got me fairly close to the list in the book.

  26. Cannon Mall*

    Should I take a long, dragged out job application process as a red flag? It’s been almost 5 months and they’re still stringing me along. At my current job, we usually make an offer within 2 weeks of reviewing resumes and scheduling interviews. There is no reason to prolong it for ourselves or the applicant.

    1. fposte*

      Maybe. Some places just are really slow and it has nothing to do with anything else; some places are really slow about everything and nobody is willing to commit to anything.

      On the other hand, your current job sounds remarkably efficient. Has that been a good indicator of how they operate generally, or was it a misleading green flag?

    2. GlamNonprofitSquirrel*

      IMHO, I’d chalk that potential job as a “not going to happen” and move along. It’s most likely their own internal issues (dysfunction, disorganization) but it’s a good “red flag” for any future with them.

      TL; DR Run away!

    3. Ting*

      It depends on the position. Where I currently work, I was in the process for 3 months and interviewed with 13 people. They wanted to be sure to hire the right person. What type of position is this for?

  27. the gold digger*

    I want to thank Alison and the chorus for comments about how to deal with interns, who might not yet understand workplace norms. I was very annoyed earlier this week trying to schedule a meeting with an intern whose calendar showed as available. I finally had to call HR to find out if he even worked here any more. Turns out he is part time and had not been here to see my emails and meeting requests.

    I fumed and thought, “He is not doing it right!”

    Then I thought, “Oh. He might not even know, if he is a student, that accepted practice at this organization is to block your calendar for times you are not available.”

    So I just talked to him about it and he had not even thought about that as an issue. He has since blocked his calendar and we have a happy ending.

    1. Judy*

      We have someone who graduated last May who I had a quick talk with the other week after I tried to schedule a meeting, and he wasn’t available because he had a dentist appointment. If you’re not available during the work day, put it on your calendar.

    2. Ad Astra*

      That’s so great! I have never worked in an office where you’re supposed to block your calendar for days off, so that’s definitely not a given, but it’s a common enough practice that you’ve probably saved him some trouble at a future job!

    3. Hlyssande*

      Blocking off my lunch hour as a recurring appointment is how I got my manager to stop constantly scheduling things during that time. It still happens sometimes, but it’s very rare compared to the multiple 5-10 times a month it happened before.

      1. Lionness*

        Yep. I work in a remote office and could not get people to understand why a 3pm meeting (their time) was so inconvenient for me (hello, lunch hour!). So, instead of fuming silently, I booked a “no meetings” slot. Sure enough, people stopped requesting that time real quick and put two and two together.

    4. Anx*

      Does your office have a big physical calendar, or is there an admin that you let you know about these things if you wouldn’t be avaiable?

  28. Lizabeth*

    Paralegal as a second career? Am wondering what’s it’s like to do the job (besides dealing with the outrageous lawyer types). There’s got to be some interesting places to work that have decent people…

    1. Lillian McGee*

      Yes! So underrated: legal nonprofits. You still get the quirky lawyer-types but with a passion for social justice instead of billable hours!

      1. some1*

        Many “outrageous lawyer types” work at non-profits because they want to be a judge someay and it looks good on their resume.

    2. Charlotte*

      Be organized and attentive to detail, but especially to instructions from the lawyers. Depending on what kind of firm/org/co you join, you could be making a lot of copies, exhibits, binders, doing research, some writing, maybe some running around to court houses, document review…

    3. F.*

      Take a good look at the starting pay and determine whether you can afford to live on it. I got my Paralegal certificate from a Bar Association accredited school while I was working at a large financial services company with the idea of moving up in the company. I was then laid off in a large merger. When I tried to get paralegal work in the “real world”, I found that it paid substantially less than I could make as a mid-career administrative assistant. So I have the certificate but have never used it. Come to think about it, I have never used my B.S. in Math as a career, either, and for a similar reason.

  29. Allison*

    I want to get people’s opinions on a wardrobe dilemma I seem to be running into.

    A couple of years ago I learned the general rule that if an article of clothing is something you’d wear (or see yourself wearing) somewhere other than work, you shouldn’t wear it to work. It does make a bit of sense, you certainly shouldn’t wear clubwear, party dresses, or ballgowns to the office! And I save my fun, flouncy dresses for swing dances. But is that rule really black and white? I work in a casual office, and while I do try to keep my work clothes and non-work clothes separate, I have some clothes that I generally wear in my non-work life but could possibly be suitable for work as well. Do other people have some pieces that they wear both to work and, say, out to dinner or something? Or should everyone keep their work wardrobe and non-work clothes 100% separate all the time?

    1. Sara The Event Planner*

      There is TONS of overlap between my work wardrobe and my “other stuff” wardrobe. Of course, I wouldn’t wear a cocktail dress or yoga pants to the office, but decent jeans and a blouse? I’ll totally wear the same outfit to work and then to dinner and a movie on the weekend. That being said, my office is super casual and my day-to-day clothes are perfectly appropriate. If that wasn’t the case, I would need a bit more separation.

      1. AVP*

        I have the same work environment, and tons of overlap. I think it’s fine as long as you’re starting from a place of neat, properly-fitting clothing.

        I could see giving this rule to a very particular type of young person who needs a lot of help in the “whats appropriate for work” area, but once you get out of your early 20’s I don’t think it’s as cut and dry.

    2. ACA*

      I definitely have a few outfits that can transition from work to dinner out, and once winter hits most of my sweaters do double-duty as work and casual pieces (my office is business casual, fwiw). Except for things like uniforms, I can’t imagine anyone having a strict separation between work and non-work.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      I don’t have that many clothes to have 2 separate wardrobes, so all my casual outfits get worn in and outside of work (except jeans as it doesn’t look like new office does jeans).
      I don’t wear posh dinner/wedding/interview outfits to work unless there is a work party on.

    4. Stephanie*

      I think that rule would only make sense if you worked in a really formal office. Plenty of things can be dressed up for work.

        1. Tinker*

          Ahhh, Corporette. I read that too, occasionally, and here is the thing I note about it:

          They are giving advice for a very particular situation — namely, more or less, women working in the conservative end of traditional non-tech professions in regions like the US East Coast that are more formal and have a lot of concern with subtle professional signals in clothing and accessories. They also seem not to be very AWARE of the limited scope they are addressing, or at least speak as if the rules they give are universals when they are not.

          (They had an article awhile back on how to dress professionally on a factory tour. Having actually worked in similar environments, I found both it and most of the comments HILARIOUS.)

          I think they’re probably absolutely right, if you live in an area where you are expected to “dress up” for both work and “going out”, and the expectations for what constitutes “dressed up” in these environments are in some way mutually exclusive. For instance, my understanding is that there are formal non-business expectations where women are expected to make more or different displays of femininity than would be considered wise for, for instance, a new lawyer in a very conservative law office. That would tend to result in very little overlap between work and non-work outfits, such that this rule could serve as a very rough guide. Otherwise — I wouldn’t necessarily be too troubled by diverging from what Corporette says is The Right Thing. It’s likely because they’re not talking to you.

          1. Stephanie*

            I think, too, Corporette assumes one has an at least decent salary as well. I went there because I had to start wearing business casual at work and it was like “These slacks are a steal at $85!” Um, no. At least not on my salary.

          2. Honeybee*

            I think Corporette is aware of the limited situation they are addressing; it’s just that the author and the commenters don’t repeat it in every post. I’ve seen her note it in several posts – “know your office”, etc. – and in her “about” section she lists the target demographics she’s going for (“lawyers, bankers, MBAs, consultants…”) Most of the commenters definitely seem to be lawyers and bankers; a lot of the law blogs mention her a lot so they come from there. I think the target demographic both influences what kind of work style she’s talking about (conservative East Coast Wall Street-type offices – not West Coast or tech jobs) and what price point she’s aiming for (her “low end” or “inexpensive” price point is usually actually mid-range stuff, and her top price point is thousands of dollars – like Chanel or Armani).

          3. Anx*

            I think I decided that Corporette would be completely useless to me that day I saw a debate in the comment thread about whether or not flats could ever be considered professional.

    5. Jubilance*

      My company went to “business casual” last year so there’s a huge overlap between my work clothes and non-work clothes now. I had a separate wardrobe when I worked in offices that required professional dress. Given that my office is casual now, it would serve me no purpose to have separate casual clothes for work, and incur that expense. Granted – my casual clothes aren’t slouchy by any means. I woudn’t wear ripped jeans or stained clothing at work or on my personal time.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, that’s what helps me in the overlap. One, I wouldn’t wear oversized things, ripped jeans, paint-spattered stuff, etc. on my off-time either – just my personal style. But two, because I work at a casual office, I’m conscious of that when I’m out shopping – and choose to buy things I know I can wear at work.

    6. AnonEMoose*

      I have a few pieces I wear to work (also a casual office) and to some non-work events. Khaki pants, or black slacks, for example, could be suitable both for work and for a casual dinner out or a party where jeans aren’t quite appropriate. For my workplace, plain, nicer t-shirts are also fine, and I’d definitely wear those outside of work for various things. So I think it varies, depending on your workplace and lifestyle, but I don’t think it’s necessary to keep work clothes separated 100% of the time.

    7. Samantha*

      I don’t think they have to be 100% separate. I have several dresses I wear out to dinner or on the weekends. The only reason I wouldn’t wear them as-is to work is because they have thin straps. If I just add a little cardigan, they become work appropriate. Because I don’t have the budget to have an entire wardrobe dedicated just to work and an entire wardrobe dedicated just to my non-work life, I try to buy pieces (dresses, especially) that can work for both.

    8. Frieswitdat*

      I have some nice dress shirts that I wouldn’t worry about wearing out normally. I usually wear a nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt to work. So I like my shirts so be pretty versatile.

    9. Isben Takes Tea*

      Huh–I’ve never heard of this rule, though it makes some sense. However, I think it *entirely* depends on your office culture. Ours is “business casual” and I’ve seen people wear anything from Forever 21 to designer labels (granted, the higher the pay scale, the more expensive the clothes). I don’t like buying clothes for single situations, so I have a lot of mix-and-match pieces I can dress up for work or down for weekends.

    10. Jamie*

      For context, I’m a financial advisor who dresses business professional most of the time. There are plenty of times I’ve worn tops that aren’t necessarily professional on their own (sleeveless or spaghetti straps, or with a back detail or cut out) and made them perfectly appropriate with a cardigan or blazer. My work and personal wardrobes heavily mix.

    11. Ann O'Nemity*

      I follow the opposite philosophy and deliberately buy clothes that I can wear for multiple purposes. I love figuring out day to night outfits, so for example I can just remove my blazer and change my shoes instead of running home to change after work. Or finding nice blouses that look great with suits or with jeans. And if you’re in a casual office, I expect that line would get even more blurred.

    12. MsM*

      Most of my blouses, skirts, and cocktail dresses are work appropriate. I don’t work in law or finance or somewhere else with a super-strict strict dress code, though.

    13. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      Also it depends on your style of dress outside the office. Sometimes people just like to dress nice all (most) of the time. In these situations, then there is sure to be crossover, especially for women. I don’t keep my wardrobe separate and have been known to throw on a button up shirt with a pair of jeans and cute boots/heels on the weekend!

    14. Kelly L.*

      I’ve never heard that rule, and I do have a little overlap. I would say not a lot–I have a very particular style I’ve cultivated for work and it’s not the style I dress when I’m off–but I have a few things that cross over. I think if your office is relatively casual, that’s not unusual or wrong.

    15. Shell*

      My office is on the casual side of business casual (as in, sneakers/flip-flops are allowed on Fridays. I’ve seen them on other days too, but I don’t dare wear them on any other day).

      My uniform is usually structured button-down shirts (not the drape-y, flow-y ones, but the ones you can take an iron to) and jeans/slacks, with a nice blazer if it’s cold. (Just because I don’t have to think about it and any top can go with any bottom.) I don’t wear those out on the weekends because I can wear sweats and stuff, so why would I mess up my nice work wardrobe? And my friends would look askance at me for showing up in a fitted black blazer when I’m usually wearing yoga pants and hiking boots.

      But I’ve definitely worn nice but casual tops to work given the casual norms at my office.

    16. Gwen*

      I wear my fun flouncy dresses to work! I dress retro~ probably 80% of the time and have only ever gotten compliments at my slightly conservative business casual office.

      1. Allison*

        Me too! I dress retro pretty much all the time – to work, running errands on the weekend, out to dinner, and of course to ALL the swing dances. But again, I try to keep things separate. My 20’s outfits? Not for work. My sailor dress with the halter top? Definitely not for work! My 50’s style skirts I wear with plain, white tops? Awesome for weekends, too girly for work and too much skirt to dance in.

        There’s this weird assumption that retro to work means going to the office in, like, 50’s ballgowns or something, so I do want to clarify I wear retro-style stuff that would generally be considered work appropriate in this day and age. And do avoid things that are super custome-y.

    17. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      especially in winter I wear a lot of solid-color long-sleeve shirts that look great with slacks and great with jeans and feel great buried under 80 layers of sweatshirt. Where there are certain things that I certainly think cross the “work-appropriate line” that rule seems very rigid unless you work at a place with a very particular dress code.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yes, me too! I found the Uniqlo ones look professional with slacks and maybe a dressy scarf, but they’re frequent weekend-wear too.

    18. Nerdling*

      I really, really find this more likely to apply for an office where you are expected in suits pretty much all the time, although even then I had a lot of overlap because I couldn’t afford not to!

      Right now, I have a lot of pieces I can wear day or night or weekends because we lean more toward business casual. Lots of button-down shirts that I can pair with trouser jeans or a suit or skinny jeans, depending on the occasion, and accessorize a lot of different ways. With my dresses, I might pair them with blazers or cardigans for work although I do have some that are definitely not work appropriate. Layering sweaters over dress shirts for work, then just wearing the sweaters out and about.

    19. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I work at an elementary school, so we’re not quite as business-y as some workplaces – but there’s a lot of overlap between my work clothes and non-work clothes. I have multiple dresses that I would wear at work or out to a play, as well as lots of tops that I might wear with black slacks at work or jeans on the weekend. I have some things that I’d only really wear to work (like a few pairs of pants) and some only not-at-work (like t-shirts with things written on them, and of course special event stuff like you mentioned), but they’re not the majority of my clothes.

    20. Ezri*

      I think it depends on the office, and your wardrobe. I don’t like owning clothing that I’d only wear in one circumstance, so 80% of my clothes have some overlap. I own some black button-up shirts that I would also wear on a night out. My day-to-day office environment is pretty casual, so I’m usually in jeans and a nice sweater or blouse, which I’d definitely wear elsewhere. But I also own a couple of suits that only come out when the Big Bosses roll into town, and those are pretty much work-only. Mostly because I don’t like skirts, dress pants, and suit jackets. >_<

    21. cuppa*

      I have a few things on either end of the spectrum that I wouldn’t wear to work (what can I say, I have a thing for beer t-shirts and fancy dresses), but for the most part, my wardrobe is the same inside and outside of work.

      I do have a lot of dresses that I wear to work that I don’t have too much occasion to wear outside of work, but I do when the right occasion hits.

    22. Not Today Satan*

      “the general rule that if an article of clothing is something you’d wear (or see yourself wearing) somewhere other than work, you shouldn’t wear it to work.” Lol, that’s ridiculous! I actually pretty much only ever wear clothes that I also wear to work, in order to not have a gigantic wardrobe.

    23. Ad Astra*

      Almost all of my dresses are appropriate for both work and social events. Same goes for my cardigans and layering tanks and some of my jewelry. But my office dress code is pretty much business professional so there’s very little overlap when it comes to pants, tops, and shoes.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Oh, and something a female higher-up (who dresses pretty well, imo) said to me about our dress code: Most days, you should be dressed up enough that if you went directly from work to a concert or a party, you’d feel a bit overdressed.

        But that means the whole outfit, not each individual piece.

    24. Tinker*

      Hrm. I think it depends a lot on what sort of office you work in, how you tend to dress in your personal life, and probably things like your gender presentation.

      I present as masculine, commute by bike, work in a very casual office, and don’t tend to dress in a particularly flashy or daring way in my personal life, so for ordinary clothes my “work” and “non-work” clothing is essentially the same — of late, tech fabric cargo pants, canvas sneakers with minor cycling-specific features, a T-shirt or casual collared shirt with undershirt, and weather items such as fleece jacket, tech fabric vest, some sort of off-bike insulating hat, etc. Variances would be:

      — I’ve got a set of clothes designated for dirty work (home projects, Habitat stuff, etc) and some clothes that are designated for specific athletic activities (mud run clothes, martial arts uniform, everyday running outfit). These mostly don’t make it to work, although the former set is in some elements descended from things that I did or might have worn to work back when I did field work.
      — There are a couple items around that are pretty much for lounging and, like, making quick trips to the store for more snacks. Those don’t make it to work either, partly because the wrap pants would likely not survive the commute.
      — Most of my LARP costuming, although not all, hasn’t made it to work and probably won’t. I also don’t often wear my base portrayer clothes (which are essentially what I might wear as a theater tech) to work, although they’re really not that dissimilar from my everyday clothes — but they’re solid black, and something about the fit of the pants is different in a way that sets off my “something is not right about your clothing” button when I wear them in a work context and have my wallet, keys, et cetera in the pockets (same sort of deal as not wearing shoes or a belt).
      — I tend to wear T-shirts less often at work, and collared shirts rather more. Also tend to skew more toward the interesting or work-relevant end of my T-shirt collection at work, whereas at home I’ll sometimes break out the race finisher souvenir shirts and such like.

      I’d also throw in here that my dad worked in a somewhat formal office before he retired — think it was something like the upper end of business casual, no jeans whatsoever, suits definitely favored — and his work stuff would also often show up in other contexts. He tends to fly in polo shirt and khakis, for instance, and so far as I know he wears the same or similar suits to work as to weddings, funerals, church, etc.

      The folks who make those statements, I think, are often quite correct for the domain they’re operating in, but they may also be unaware of the multitude of assumptions they may be making that determine the scope in which their statement is actually useful. This is a common problem in work-related clothing advice, and I would probably conclude that if any given bit of advice does not seem to make sense in your environment, this is because it actually does not make sense in your environment.

    25. AdAgencyChick*

      Gawd I hope not! Advertising does have a fairly casual dress code so my husband, who works in an industry that requires dress pants and dress shirts, often complains that when we meet up after work, I look like I’m going to paint the house. :P

      Of course we’re still expected not to wear anything too revealing like actual clubwear. I do try to restrain myself from buying new clothes that I consider exclusively weekend wear (like a cocktail dress or a crop top) because there are only so many weekend days a year, so most of my wardrobe had better be appropriate to most of my life.

    26. LAI*

      I have never heard of your rule and definitely do not follow it. In fact, I deliberately try my best to buy ONLY clothes that I would wear both to work and outside of work, because I can’t afford that many clothes. I think the only clothing I have that is work-only is one pair of black dress pants, and my interview suit.

    27. GOG11*

      Vivienne Files (a fashion blog) does several posts that take one color scheme/wardrobe from casual to professional. The casual end of the spectrum is all that casual at times, but I think she does a good job of showing how pieces can be mixed and matched/dressed up or dressed down, and some pieces are used in multiple scenarios. I tend to wear quite a few items at work and at home, especially tops (I wear a lot of plain, structured t-shirts, turtle necks and cardigans).

    28. I'm Not Phyllis*

      For me, the only area where there’s really no overlap is pants! Almost all of my shirts get worn in both my work life and my personal life … the difference is that I wear dress pants at work and jeans on the weekend. That’s it! (Well, there are other differences too, like doing my hair and makeup properly, and sometimes a little jewellery at work – on the weekend it’s no make-up, ponytail and no jewellery at all.) It really depends on your office environment though.

    29. MaryMary*

      I work in a fairly formal office, and I have a ton of clothes that cross over between work and casual. As I get older, my casual wardrobe has actually gotten nicer since I spend a lot of time at work and don’t want to invest in clothes I can’t wear a majority of the time. Sure, I still have yoga pants and t shirts and jeans, but most of the time the top I wear on Saturday is something I could wear to the office if I swapped my jeans for pants or a skirt, or I’ll wear a more casual work dress with comfy tights and flats.

    30. Observer*

      I haven’t read all of the responses, but I would say that even if your workplace is not super casual, it’s quite possible that there could be overlap. This is especially true if you are talking about basic, decent quality, well fitting foundation type pieces. I don’t wear pants, but I imagine that pretty much the same thing would apply there as to skirts for me. A basic dark colored a-line skirt will work up and down the scale from non-party casual to fairly formal work situations, depending on what I’m wearing it with. A lot of my tops are that way, too. I can wear them with or with out a cardigan or blazer, so I can wear them in a range of situations.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Yeah, on the weekends or in the evenings I do like to wear the stuff I can’t wear to work- so jeans and tank tops now, but when I had more physical jobs where I couldn’t wear skirts, I’d wear dresses/skirts on the weekend. It helps with the separation between work and fun, plus I don’t want to waste a clean work outfit on a saturday. That said, pretty much all of my work pieces are appropriate for a lot of non-work activities.

    31. skyline*

      I keep my casual and work wardrobes fairly separate (except for jeans, which get worn on Fridays as well as weekends), but that’s mostly due to my futile attempts to minimize the amount of cat hair and the number of snagged threads on my work clothes.

      If I didn’t have extremely affectionate cats who like to curl up on my lap and shed, most of my work wardrobe (except for suiting) would be fine for casual settings if remixed in different combinations. My work cardigans aren’t inherently dressy. They just look fine for business casual work attire when worn with a blouse and pencil skirt. The more formal items could work fine for a nice dinner out, though they might look a bit conservative.

      I can’t say all of my casual wardrobe is fine for work though. Running gear is not for work! Not even a fairly casual, laid-back office. This apparently had to be explained to a nice but slightly clueless coworker of mine. Sigh.

  30. The Other Dawn*

    Just finished up the conference I’m attending in California. Awesome content, great food and location, and fantasic people, but what a grueling pace! I felt like a I barely had time to use the bathroom. Breakfast was at 7:30 and then the program started at 9. There were several main sessions and then there were several intervals where it broke out into individual 20 minute sessions running concurrently and they repeated two to three times. So basically you could attend all the sessions over three days and not miss anything. But that meant not taking a break since the break was built into the individual sessions. If you wanted a break you would have to skip a session, but then you might miss one you wanted to attend. Same thing with lunch. Lunch plus sessions running concurrently. I didn’t putz around at lunch and still was rushing around to see the sessions and get my butt back in the main ballroom for the main session. End time was 5:45 pm and then a dinner reception from 7 to 9 each night. I attended Tuesday so I could appear to be social and do a little networking, but not Wednesday; I was tired and wanted to relax a bit. Conference ended at noon yesterday and all I wanted to do was relax. I need a vacation from the conference!

    1. KathyGeiss*

      These types of conferences are gruelling. I have stopped beating myself up and feeling guilty about missing sessions. Maybe next time it comes around you could work yourself in a bit more downtime.

      In the past, I’ve made schedules that were the opposite of colleagues and then we’d meet after the conference to share learnings.

    2. Windchime*

      I’m headed to a big conference in Boston on Sunday. The actual conference should be fine, but I’m totally dreading the cross-country flights there and back.

    3. Orbital Transport Six, attached to Masters' Starship CX110*

      I feel for you, but I have to say: if you feel like you need a rest after the conference, I think that’s a sign that you’re doing it right. Every so often I’ll go to SIGGRAPH, and I’ll spend at least two or three hours scheduling the coming days. Some years are better than others, but there tend to be 3 or more concurrent sessions going at any given time – I’ll typically order them in terms of preference, because sometimes choice #1 is too crowded (or, to be honest, not as interesting as I’d hoped). It’s great fun, but – well – it’s also work. My big mistake tends to be that I’ll carry around too much stuff with me.

      Were you at the LA Convention Center? I hate that place. Eating lunch there was a nightmare. Also – I guess this isn’t surprising – sometimes they’ll have a director or other ‘moviemaking professional’ give a pitch, and – these are people who don’t care about showing up on time, and, in fact, strolling slowly past the huge line of people who’ve been waiting for you for the past 30 minutes seems to be a large part of why they even show up. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Rob Cohen!

    4. onnellinen*

      Hope the Wednesday night left you feeling a bit more recharged! When I’m at a conference, I love a quiet night in my hotel room, especially after spending the whole day chatting with people I barely know.

  31. matcha123*

    Another question since I’m up. I don’t live in the capital of this country. The capital has more job opportunities, but I can’t move there because I don’t have the money and securing housing as a foreigner is tricky.
    When I’m asked at interviews in the capital why I haven’t moved there, I get stuck.

    Apparently it’s bad form to say that I haven’t moved there because I can’t afford it, but I’m not exactly set on staying in my current area. Why is it such bad form to say, “I would move there if I had a job and funds to move there, but my current job doesn’t provide me with a salary that would allow that to happen?” or “I would love to move up here if a company could help with relocation and housing expenses”?

    To make it clear, I can’t waltz into a realtor’s office and be moved into a new apartment without having a person of that nationality as a guarantor and thousands of dollars of unreturnable move-in fees.

    1. lulu*

      how about: “I’m open to it if the right opportunity comes along” or “I’m looking for the right job to make it happen”.

    2. Alli525*

      I think it’s fine to be somewhat honest here – I don’t know if this is your particular situation, but many foreigners need to have their work visas sponsored by a company, so it might help potential employers to hear “Well, as you know, as a foreigner my work visa needs to be sponsored, and landlords in Capital need proof of employment before renting an apartment, so it’s sort of a ‘chicken or egg’ issue. I’m looking to move to Capital for work, but I would need to have my work situation settled before my housing situation can be settled.”

      Moving expenses is a different thing, and many industries only pay moving expenses for senior positions, but maybe there’d be a way to figure out a work-from-home setup for the first couple months while you save up enough money to move out there. Or something.

      Best of luck!

      1. matcha123*

        The “chicken and egg” issue might work! I’ll try that next time.
        Unfortunately, working from home is an option I’ve never seen in this country! I’m always surprised when I read about it here, because I don’t remember it being a big thing when I left the US.

  32. RG*

    Don’t really have much to say, just that I’m kicking my job search into high gear. Trying to remember to apply and forget.

  33. katamia*

    And another question that I feel pretty silly asking, but in an office setting, what should I go to IT for and what should I do myself? I’m not qualified to be in IT myself, but I understand computers somewhat well and can typically Google my way to an answer.

    But that’s on my computer, not one that’s owned by the company. But I felt really silly yesterday when I asked IT to help me plug my monitor back in (although, not gonna lie, I didn’t want to get down there on my hands and knees and do it myself). What are some general guidelines for this?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I work in IT but didn’t used to. I think part of this has to do with the culture of your company/organization/school. I’ve seen places where you aren’t allowed to touch X. Only Qualified Person can touch X, even if X is simple, and you can totally handle X.

      That said, most places I’ve worked don’t have such strict policies. Generally speaking, there will always be a bit of a fuzzy gray area of what you can do and what IT can do.

      I haven’t had to articulate such a guidelines, but if I had to articulate actual guidelines for users, it would be this:

      1. Don’t do anything intentionally destructive.
      2. If you have any concerns about being able to handle something, ask IT and don’t do it yourself.
      3. Even if you can do something yourself but aren’t sure if you should do it, ask IT.

      Otherwise, just go about your merry business. Frankly, if you call me over to plug in your monitor, I’d actually prefer you to say explicitly, “I know I can plug it in myself, but I don’t really want to get down in there. Sorry!” than just say “Can you plug this in?” Because if you do the latter, it just makes you look like an idiot who doesn’t know how to plug in a monitor. If you do the former, it’s perfectly understandable. Not your job to get on your hands and knees and crawl under desks.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yes, I’ve been in a workplace before where we didn’t even have administrator passwords/access to our computers, and I couldn’t install anything – not even Firefox – without approval from IT. That was godawful because I had to call IT for the most ridiculous small things and I’m pretty handy with a computer.

        Then I worked at one place you could apply for an administrator password and get approval. Almost everyone got it, but it took a little while, which meant that I went a few weeks without essential things on my machine.

        At my new job they assume you aren’t going to blow it up and your main account is an administrator account. Hooray.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I was the appointed IT person at last company, among other things, because we had no extra money and i was the only technically inclined person. I struggle with IT related stuff at my new company. We have an IT department, but because I know my way around the system and the hardware always struggling with whether to call them or not. If it’s something like a printing problem or something that’s minor and doesn’t require administration privileges then I do it myself. It’s a fine line though because companies with IT departments generally don’t want others messing around in there. Security, consistency, etc.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I beg of you, though, don’t leave the paper jam for someone else to find!! Try to fix it first. If you can’t then call IT. Don’t leave it for the next person to deal with when they racing for a meeting and need to print one last document. People who do that suck!

    3. fposte*

      This is likely to be workplace-variable. However, I wouldn’t call IT for plugging. In fact, I’d check all plugs before I called IT. I’d also do a quick Google before I called them on a software-type problem, since the staff I deal with would probably do that as the first go anyway and it’ll be quicker if I do it.

      Anything involving network, authorization, etc., I go straight to IT without passing Go.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I’d plug things in myself and restart the computer once or twice, but beyond that I contact the help desk. They install all software (that isn’t automatically pushed) and change settings. I don’t have the authority/power to do much myself.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I need to put a printout of Roy from The IT Crowd in my cube where he’s saying, “Hello, IT, have you tried turning it off and back on again?” I KNOW THIS but I forget. EVERY TIME.

    5. Chriama*

      Basically don’t call until you run into something you need administrator’s permission for on your computer or specific tools that you don’t have (e.g. mounting a monitor on a desk mount). I can’t imaging how plugging a monitor is worth a call (also that would be facilities in my company, not IT), but I guess it depends on exactly how your company is set up.

      1. Phobia Field*

        This is how it is at my office too. I think other people have to call IT for stuff that doesn’t require admin privileges. But I fix a lot of my own problems, I am used to maintaining multiple personal computers on my own after all. Our IT also has an hours-long wait sometimes, so it’s faster to fix it oneself. But it’s very company dependent.

    6. themmases*

      It probably depends on your workplace. Stuff like how much IT staff you have and how security conscious you have to be can change the answer a lot.

      I usually just call after I’ve exhausted what I know how to do. If the solution turns out to be or look quick and easy, I do the same thing I would do with my building manager. While I have them there, I ask if this is something I could/should just do myself in the future, and if so, how.

    7. Observer*

      Plugging a monitor in is generally something you can do yourself. Installing stuff? Please talk to the IT first. It can be annoying, but there is a good reason why most IT departments have users run in non-admin mode, and generally won’t even provide the Admin password. Troubleshooting is something to avoid, except for the procedures your IT department has specifically mentioned to you, and a few basics like shutting the computer down and turning it back on and checking all of the connections.

      I know that to a lot of people this kind of thing sounds like control freak territory, but generally “knowing about computers” and “knowing enough to get yourself in trouble” are not that far apart, and at work can affect more people.

  34. Undercover Regular*

    My company got bought out this week. We were looking for a partner to help fund a bunch of growth that we want to achieve over the next few years, and it sounds like this partner is a good one. There have been a couple of guarantees (no merger-related layoffs for at least two years [if ever], no changes in benefits or leadership, etc). But I’m still pretty nervous about it and am wondering what kind of changes I can expect. People keep saying, “Well, you can find a different job if this doesn’t work out”. But I am in my mid 50’s and I’m not so sure it’s that easy.

    No question, just feeling nervous.

  35. Frieswitdat*

    So I have a question about a job offer.

    I have been offered a job with a company I really want to work for. They seem really great, the office culture looks like one I’d fit in with, I love their work, and I would have room to input my own creativity. Problem is this is a very low-paying job. I really want the job. I mean I WANT it. At the same time I currently rely on my parents for support and they are ready for me to start taking care of my own bills.

    On the other hand I have an interview next week with another company which is a very good, well-known company in the area. I would like to work for them but I am not as passionate about the job as I would be this lower paying one. There are other details but I don’t feel comfortable getting into them on a public forum.

    What advice do you guys have for me? Is there anything I can read or look at to figure out what I should do? I know people say a lot that doing what you love counts for a lot, but at the same time I have to make a living.

    1. Anony-Moose*

      I think that you need to assess how important financial stability is to you. I’m at a point in my life where I know how much we need to make to be able to really take care of ourselves and that no longer means “Yay, I can pay all my bills!” (Which was a really big deal for me when I finally got to that point!)

      Today, it’s “I can pay my bills. And put a few hundred in savings each month. And have expensive hobbies like horseback riding. And go to therapy. And still have fun.” So I’d be hard pressed to take a job that didn’t support our current quality of life which is frugal but still really enjoyable.

      Another thing to consider: What would happen if your parents stopped supporting you? What if something (god forbid) happened and that money was diverted to medical bills?

      You have to think about your short-term self but also your long-term self. Not that you have to save every penny earned, but can you live in the kind of apartment you want, have the kind of hobbies you want, and feel confident that you won’t be wiped out by an emergency or freak medical bill.

      1. Frieswitdat*

        Thanks. I do have some savings, thanks to my dad’s management of some money I got from an inheritance a few years ago. I don’t have really expensive hobbies at the moment. But the biggest thing you pointed out that I’d be SOL if my parents stopped supporting me. I know I’m at the age where I can no longer dittle around but I’m still going to consider this job, but I will include my parents in the decision since they would still have to pay for some of my bills during it.

        1. Chalupa Batman*

          You may want to see if your bank or a community agency offers free financial planning services. In my community, there’s a free agency affiliated with a credit union that helps with budgets and gives financial advice, and they were SO helpful. Likewise, when I first got my retirement plan, I took advantage of the one-on-ones that Oldjob provided with a financial planner and got great advice about retirement and general advice specific to my age and situation. It sounds like standing on your own two feet is an emminent goal for you, and a financial planner can really give you some direction on how to meet that goal in the timeline you want. If the job you really want to take will get you there eventually but not yet, a professional can help with making that gap time smaller.

    2. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      I think as an adult, you sometimes have to make some hard decisions and realize how your decisions impact others whether rightfully or not. In this case, your taking a job you are passionate about but not enough to live off of will put the onus on your parents to financially support you which is NOT their job anymore. It’s time to be responsible for yourself and if that means taking a job that pays the bills but you are not as excited about then perhaps you should do that for the time being. Or you can continue to look for a job that is both exciting and pays all the bills. But I would not take the job that does not pay enough for you to live off of. Good luck.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          What do you mean when you say your parents support you? Like, do they pay your rent? Or they are there as a safety net in case something goes wrong?

          As you know, there are plenty of ways to live pretty frugally without depending on your parents: live in a group home, don’t own a car, don’t have a smart phone, don’t eat out, etc. I’m not sure where you’re at with that kind of stuff now.

          There’s a lot of fluff in my current budget, because my husband and I earn relatively high salaries. Without making any drastic changes (selling the house, moving to a cheaper part of the world, etc.) I’d guess that we could cut ~30% of our spending without too much difficulty. But if you’re living closer to the bone, that’s obviously much harder.

      1. AdAgencyChick*


        If you can’t find a way to REALLY tighten your belt and live on the lower salary, it’s not fair to ask your parents to make up the difference.

    3. Chriama*

      I… would not take a job that required me to remain financially dependent on my parents. Bottom line.

      I’m also really cynical about those industries (and manipulative companies) that don’t pay a living wage but encourage people to take crap jobs because they’re “passionate” about the work. I’m passionate about financial stability and a well-funded (early) retirement.

      However, the relationship is between you and your parents, so you’re going to have to talk it out with them. I guess it also depends on how quickly you can leverage this job into something that pays better, either at this company or another one. And if the extent of their support letting you live at home for free rather than than paying for things like your car or student loans then I’m personally more ok with that.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m also really cynical about those industries (and manipulative companies) that don’t pay a living wage but encourage people to take crap jobs because they’re “passionate” about the work. I’m passionate about financial stability and a well-funded (early) retirement.

        Yup, it’s exploitative. And the passion will burn out eventually.

      2. Jane, the world's worst employee*

        A close friend and I were having a very similar conversation about this same issue a few weeks ago. We are both single and work in marketing. We’ve had to be very picky about the types of jobs we’ve taken because we still have a need for certain things (i.e. health insurance, a livable salary, etc.). We both come from single parent families who have struggled mightily.

        We have friends (women) who are married that have the luxury of either a.) taking very low-paying but interesting jobs they are very passionate about or b.) don’t have to work at all. (NOTE: I know this isn’t every couple’s situation but for the particular friends we were talking it, this is all true in their situations.)

        Both my friend and I agreed that while we would both love to take more a risk when it comes to our careers, right now just isn’t the time. Plus, we both really enjoy having decent health insurance that doesn’t cost a fortune and a steady paycheck that allows us to be completely financial independent. It’s a trade-off and definitely depends on your current situation. But as others have said, I wouldn’t want to be dependent on my family to support me and in my case, that simply isn’t an option anyway.

        One thing I have done that has helped is that I do freelance work that I really love and really is my passion. I get to exercise my creativity but I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay my bills either.

    4. Stephanie*

      If you get the second job, I’d take that. Passion can only sustain you for so long until the realities of that lower paycheck hit. And you might be in trouble if something happened to your parents or if they just decided they didn’t want to support you anymore.

      If you are insistent about doing the first job, I’d look around for somewhere to moonlight to augment the lower salary.

    5. Honeybee*

      Chiming in to say that I also personally would not take that job. I’d hold out for something that could support me. For all the reasons that everyone else already said – but also, Alison has a really good post from a couple years back about why you shouldn’t follow your passion (I’ll link in a subsequent comment). There was another more recent one from a letter writer who felt “meh” about her job, and there were a lot of great comments there, too. Several people pointed out that they liked that they were NOT passionate about their jobs, because it enabled them to leave work at work and go home and transition over at 5 or 6 pm to their home life. Other people shared the other perspective – while they were really passionate about their work, it was difficult to disconnect so they worked longer hours than they intended.

      I turn “doing what you love counts for a lot” into “doing something you like in a job you reasonably enjoy counts for a lot”. It might require some reframing – for example, when I used to have college students who told me that they wanted to “help people” (so they felt like they needed a lower-paying position at a social services agency) I told them all kinds of positions “help people” – HR helps people sort out hiring and payroll issues; accountants help people manage their money; managers help people achieve their career goals, etc. And maybe the things you really want, and the creativity you want to employ, can be used in some way at Company B that you don’t anticipate right now. Work is work. You don’t have to looooove it to enjoy the work and feel good about what you do. In fact, some people would prefer not to work at something they really love and save that for the hobby.

    6. Lionness*

      Passion is great but unless your landlord accepts it as payment for rent, it can only go so far. And let me be among the masses that tells you: when you realize you can’t pay the bills and your parents no longer wish to support you, passion will pack up and leave you with a job you resent and a pile of debts.

      I wish I was giving you more words of encouragement. I’m not even going to sit here and say your parents shouldn’t be helping you. If they are fine with it and you are fine with it and they can afford it, that is between the three of you. But, you need to know the risks. They could decide tomorrow they are done supporting you – especially if you go to them and tell them you’re taking a low paying job that relies on their support.

      Also, there is a very real risk this company sucks. They don’t pay a livable wage. That alone makes them a least a bit sucky. And, for many, it is a massive red flag.

      1. Lionness*

        I will say, if you really really want to take this job…take a long hard look at your expenses. Can you get a roommate and reduce rent? Can you ditch your smart phone? Cut cable? No more internet at home? Nix eating out? Drop the car? Maybe you’ve already done these and you still can’t live on that salary. Or, maybe you decide that it isn’t worth it to drop all (or some) of these things in order to live on that salary. That is ok. But these are things to really think about before you accept that job.

    7. Frieswitdat*

      Thanks everyone for the help and suggestions. I talked it over with my family and we looked at my budget to figure out what I would need. I am definitely going to seek a job that pays me what I am worth.

  36. Brett*

    Well, after all the hoops I jumped through to finally find a position I could apply to (and met nearly all the requirements for), it looks like they filled it without me even getting an interview.

    I am sure my resume and application were not that well put together, since it has been so long since I applied for something like that. But I am wondering if it is worthwhile at all to follow up with the recruiter to see if my current employer’s complicated post-employment ordinance was a factor. (I know they took the ordinance to their lawyers, but never heard back after that.)

    On the bright side, everything I went through talking with our own personnel office and lawyers to get permission to apply will make it a lot easier to do that in the future.

    1. Frieswitdat*

      Ugh that happened to me with grad school…. I had to jump through hoops to get a class approved as one of their required classes for applications, then they didn’t even admit me. So much frustration.

    2. fposte*

      While I don’t know that much about recruiters, that seems an absolutely reasonable thing to inquire about–it’s specific information and has nothing to do with arguing about the applicant choice.

      1. Brett*

        Yes, I thought it was totally reasonable and tried to work with them on getting the information they needed.
        But the very last email I received from them was the one saying they were running the ordinance by their lawyers. If that was a factor in not getting an interview, I may need to work more on how to present that to potential employers. My resume likely needs the most work though.

  37. Aardvark*

    Any advice for dealing with being bored at work? I have lots of stuff to do, it’s just…99.5% of it is a never-ending avalanche of the same boring as heck tasks as I’ve been doing for a year now. (Leaving isn’t an option for a while for a variety of personal and professional reasons and the job isn’t likely to change soon.) I need to build up some coping strategies, because telling myself to suck it up and be an adult because this is how the world works isn’t gaining the traction it did oh, six months ago…

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      What I’ve done in situations like that is try and turn it into a game. How many TPS reports can I file in 15 minutes? Or, I’ve got X number of things to staple, how long is it going to take me?

      You might want to try doing the tasks in small chunks. I don’t know what you do exactly, so if you’ve got 2 hours of filing to do and 1 hour of alphabetizing, could you file for 15 minutes, alphabetize for 10, take bathroom break, do other task for X minutes, then back to another 1/2 hour of filing? Sometimes, it’s easier to do things in one big lump, so that may not be possible to break it down because you’ll lose flow.

      Also, if they let you wear earbuds, could you play some of your favourite music while you do it? Unless what you do requires you to listen like transcription, having some up tunes is a good way to get going.

      1. Aardvark*

        I do some of that gamification for the repetitive tasks, but it’s not so much that they’re rote or even all that simple, just…boring? Like, I figured out how to do X, now I’ve been doing X for a year, and I’d like a new problem to solve? I do listen to music and use a pomodoro method variant and pretty aggressive task tracking to stay focused, but it’s kind of losing its effect over time.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          And there’s no way you can speak to your manager about changing the scope of your job? Or streamlining the process for X so that it’s different/more efficient and writing up the documentation for that?

          Because if you’re bored but you can’t leave and your job won’t change… I don’t see how there is enough coping skills for that. Eventually, there aren’t going to be enough treats in the world to get you through another day. If there was a definite end in sight, it would just be a matter of crossing off dates on the calendar. I don’t know what to say except what are the hobbies you do outside of work? Many people work to live and aren’t interested in living to work. If you have things you do outside of your job, maybe you can do them during your lunch break. Maybe you’ll feel like you’re accomplishing something if every day you spend part of your lunch knitting that afghan/writing out your Xmas card list/reading a chapter of that book you’ve been meaning to read. Honestly, I don’t know. When I was bored it usually was because there wasn’t enough to do, so I made stuff for me to do or got a new job.

          1. Aardvark*

            For the first part…no. My manager’s aware of a lot of this, and things can’t change until other things change elsewhere in the org and of course, there’s no expected date of completion for that.

            This may be my “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment! (When it’s feasible to leave in a year or so.)

    2. SMT*

      I know it helps me when I have plans outside of work – work out class, plans with a friend, anything, that kind of makes my work day ‘worth it’.

      One benefit with my job, is that even with the boring stuff, I can create some of my own projects when I have downtime to give myself some variety (and stuff to do to justify my hours in slow periods)

      1. Aardvark*

        I do some of that and it definitely helps. Unfortunately, there’s too much on my plate (I’m perpetually a month behind, give or take) to take on independent projects.

    3. Boononymous*

      I was a report monkey for two years. I hated it and decided to start looking for another job with the idea it had to be a great replacement (it took me a year to find one too). Being a report monkey though, I rewarded myself — lunch out, stepping away from my desk to stretch/walk for 10 minutes, changing my environment (standing table, picnic area outside). I also started doing more professional development. That may be hard to do if the monotonous work is enough to keep you busy all day, but I looked forward to my intermissions and was adding to my skill set at the same time.

      1. Aardvark*

        Out of curiosity, what did you do to move from report monkey to something more interesting? At the risk of doxxing myself since I think I know people who read this blog, that’s kind of what my job devolved into and…yeah.

        1. Boononymous*

          My “report monkey” days were pulling web analytics monthly and transforming the data into a client-friendly report. Three months into it I knew I hated it; I did the same thing 25x a month/every month, was given unhelpful feedback and my boss sighed every time I asked a question. But I put my head down and told myself to be a sponge for a year — learn as much as I could about digital marketing and see if it helped me in the long-term.

          I decided to job search in the role I had previously had in media and I knew I didn’t want to work in an ad agency, so I was very specific with my search. I had several interviews, no luck and finally had found the place I wanted to be… only to not get the job. Things worked out though, I spoke with a different manager and was hired to do project management instead. I LOVE IT. I went from handing over multiple deliverables a month to being in a supportive role and helping others meet their deadlines. I didn’t have professional experience/certification, but the shoe fits.

      2. Stephanie*

        Report monkey. Love this. I’m one as well.

        (I don’t think my boss would appreciate me throwing poop at the Excel spreadsheets when I get frustrated.)

        1. Boononymous*

          Power to the folks who can hammer it out. But yes, I’d refrain from tossing scat anywhere in the office. ;)

    4. Mkb*

      My job can be like this too at times. I usually take a quick break every hour to two and walk around for a few minutes (or go outside.) I also listen to podcasts or audiobooks a lot, especially when I’m doing something that doesn’t require as much concentration (like formatting a ppt.)

  38. Stephanie*

    So ended up not getting the job I interviewed for last week. Disappointing, but oh well. What was a little odd was that we wrapped up the interview and the hiring manager is like “If you’re still interested in the role, I’ll send along this mini assignment to complete.” He sends along the assignment. Monday, I get an email from the recruiter saying they decided to go with candidates who were a closer fit (I hadn’t submitted the project yet). So who knows.

    I “interviewed” for a part-time job yesterday locally. (I’m around 30 hours at my current job.) Job was for a math tutor at a private company and the interview was just a proficiency test. On the application, it asked for references, including a couple of supervisors. Would it be odd to list my current boss? (I’d ask, first.) I mean, he knows I’m not full time and can’t be that shocked I’d need additional income, right?

    1. Library Lady*

      If you do ask him, be prepared to say how this doesn’t conflict with the current job and schedule.
      Didn’t you coach a kids science team project for a while? Would your supervisor there be a good reference?

  39. Anony-Moose*

    For those of you who have relocated, how was that process?

    Mr. Anony-Moose and I are in Chicago and have lived here our entire lives (except school). We’re both 29 and ready to move, likely to Portland, OR to be closer to tons of family.

    I’m in a program that ends in May, so the soonest we’d be moving is end of May. I plan on starting the job search in January or February knowing it will take a while. Same with the Mister. I’m really lucky that I have two family members/friends who have offered to help us network, and who are both well established and respected in their fields so I feel pretty confident they can help us think about who/what/where to apply, live, etc.

    But the whole process is a bit daunting. For those of you who made this type of move, how did it work? What did you learn? What were the horror moments when you Just Couldn’t? Help me, oh AAM Hive Mind of Awesomeness!

    (And as an aside I’m all about learning about great nonprofit organizations in Portland, OR. )

    1. Jubilance*

      I’ve moved twice for jobs – both jobs had a relocation benefit. Between the two, the company that covered everything instead of providing a lump sum, was superior. With the covered move, I didn’t have to find movers, or a shipper for my car – it was all handled for me by a 3rd party vendor. That made my move extremely smooth because I didn’t have to worry about anything. If you’re going to be doing the move on your own dime, or using a lump sum, start researching tips to minimize move costs. For me, that meant driving my own car to my new destination instead of having it shipped, and searching for a low-cost moving company, and packing my items myself.

      For both positions, I started looking months in advance. For the 2nd move (the fully covered one) it took about 9 months of searching and applying before I had an offer.

      1. Anony-Moose*

        Thank you! I’ve been hesitant to start looking since I have this commitment through May, but a 9 month timeline makes me feel like I can start looking sooner. Right now both Mr. Anony-Moose and I are thinking about what we need to do to gear up our job hunts: I’ve redone my resume and reached out to a few contacts; he’s updating his portfolio, etc. Seems like it’s not too early to start looking!

        I’d be shocked if we got a job that offered relocation benefits – I worked in the nonprofit field and he’s at the low end of the totem pole in the agency world- so we’ll likely be moving ourselves. My best friend is also thinking about doing the same move, so I’m kind of hoping we can move together and split the cost of the van, etc.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          The problem with looking for a job too far in advance is, if you find a good fit, they are likely to want you to start right away (within a month). So even though it might take 6-9 months, starting sooner might not really help you.

          I’ve moved states several times, and have never managed to get a job in the new place before I moved there — it’s just so much harder to do a job search remotely.

          From the other side, I’m already annoyed that I reached out to set up an interview with someone who says she plans to move to my city, but isn’t available for an in-person interview for like a month. That is no bueno.

    2. Malissa*

      First step is selling everything you own that is not sentimental or necessary. The less crap you have to move, the easier the process.
      The first time I had a major relocation we sold a house and moved. Lived off savings until we found jobs. Excellent way to do it if you can.
      The second time I found the job first and then moved. Income at a high level was necessary to be sure of before we moved.
      The one thing that made both moves affordable, and I know this won’t work for everyone, is we bought a used school bus. That way we could pack every thing into it and didn’t have to immediately unload at the other end if we did’t have the room.

      1. Anony-Moose*

        1) that is AWESOME that you bought a used schoolbus. I love it. We don’t own, so we’ll be going from rental to rental.

        Luckily, my great aunt has an extra apartment in the city so she’s offered to host us for a few weeks. I’m hoping that if one of us needs to move first to find a job, we could stay rent free for a month or so. Not ideal, but it would work. Thank you for your insight!

      2. The IT Manager*

        Agree 100% with number 1. Start culling things clothes/paperwork/even furniture to make the move easier now. I did it last minute and ran out of time and moved things I didn’t need to.

    3. MsM*

      Are these nonprofits you’re looking at larger or smaller? Because the tricky thing with smaller orgs is that they generally don’t post jobs unless they need them filled yesterday. So even if you start looking in January or February, whatever’s currently being listed might be a non-starter if you can’t start until June. I might spend those months reaching out to whatever contacts your friends can provide to see if you can get their advice about the move (and any insider tips about jobs coming up), or focusing on dream jobs/perfect fits that you’d hate not to take a chance on, and start the actual search in March.

      Also, have a local address listed on your resume and cover letter, and be very, very clear in your interviews that this move is happening and you’re not expecting relocation assistance. (Again, the latter’s more critical for smaller orgs than larger ones.)

      1. Anony-Moose*

        MsM that’s a really great point. I’d be wanting to go to another small org (less than 20 people, less than $2M budget.) I’m in fundraising, and would hope to move up from Assistant Director of Development to an Associate Director/Director title. I know those job searches tend to take longer than programmatic jobs.

        Great advice to stress that I’m not expecting relocation assistance!

        1. MsM*

          Interesting. I work in development, too, and I’ve never had an associate-level search take longer than 4 months. Director can take longer, but nobody wants to write the grant reports or make the prospect visits themselves as long as the low- to mid-level stuff stays open. ;)

          1. Anony-Moose*

            To clarify, I mean Associate Director (which is mostly in bigger orgs) and not Development Associate. You’re right, those tend to be quicker job searches since it’s a lower level search.

            My “dream job” right now would be Development Director with a smaller org with a budget of <$1M. My sense is that those jobs might be a little harder to find, but I'm not sure why I think that.

    4. Dawn*

      My husband had an out of the blue job interview in DC and was offered the job the next day. We had a 3-week turnaround from the day of the interview till the day we got the keys to our new (rented) house.

      Basically, if you know now that you’re going to be moving, START THE PACKING PROCESS IMMEDIATELY. Clean out closets, donate to Goodwill, have multiple yard sales, start hoarding boxes, that kind of thing. The getting a job bit and the finding somewhere to live bit will work itself out without you having to do much, but the “OMG MUST PACK ALL THE THINGS AND DECIDE IF WE WANT TO KEEP IT AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET RID OF IT REALLY FAST AND CLEAN ALL THE THINGS” was the stressful part.

      As for finding somewhere to live we used a Realtor- up until then I didn’t even know they helped with finding places to rent. If you’re going to live in an apartment or whatever then you won’t have to worry about that but if you’re looking to live in a townhouse or an actual house then it can help. She sent along a bunch of places that were in our area/budget and then we spent one Saturday going to all of them before finding our perfect place (with a fantastic landlord) that we’re still at 6 years later.

      1. Anony-Moose*

        Ooh, using a realtor would be great. I’d love to be able to rent a house versus an apartment!

        And +1,000,000 about starting the move now. I needed to hear that. I’ve already started to freak out about having to move all my plants. And then bought more plants. It will be good to start paring down and will certainly shape the holiday season. 3 week turnaround is NUTS! I’m glad you survived!

        1. The IT Manager*

          Ohhh! Stop buying things that won’t be consumed before your move. It’s a bit early for you now, but there may well be stuff that you buy in bulk that you can start purchasing smaller amounts already. Start trying to empty the pantry now with those staples that sit on the shelf for months.

          I had really good luck with Craig’s list for finding a rental home.

          1. Anony-Moose*

            Smart! I realized I need to stop buying anything related to my hobbies. (yarn. plants. yarn. plants). I have enough yarn to last me a year of steady knitting. no more yarn.

            I also just sent my little sis a TON of clothes. I think she’s going to make out like a bandit during this whole process.

    5. Carrie in Scotland*

      Make sure that if they do have a relocation package, it applies to you/position. I just got screwed over this as I feel that the package my org uses was ambiguous – basically I don’t qualify as my position grade is too low.

  40. KS*

    Super nervous today! Have an interview for a position I’m very interested in at 2 today! It would be my first permanent job after graduating from college. Wish me luck!

    1. KS*

      Thanks for the good vibes! I thought the interview went well, they want to meet again next week for a second round. I’m excited but more nervous now!

  41. super anon*

    i made multiple coworkers cry last week in a workshop designed to get us in touch with our “feelings” and to make us like each other (the place is mad toxic and incredibly racist), when what really needs to happen is proper management for that dept. i ended up having to tell one of my coworkers that we weren’t friends when she insisted that we were, except she says multiple racist things to me, including accusing me of lying about my race to get my job more than once, and is constantly slagging on me and my appearance. she’s gone on tirades about how she hates basic bitches and every single thing she described as making up a basic bitch described me – she was basically describing me!! there’s been more terrible things, so i have no idea why she thought we were friends.

    also the workshop leader said everything was confidential and any stories/anything was said was confidential and we couldn’t even tell hr what happened in this 8 hour session… is that even a restriction she could put on us?

    ugh, all in all it was terrible and i do not recommend ever. i’m so lucky i rarely have to work with this portion of coworkers and that they’re at a different location.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Wow, that workshop sounds like a bad idea. Out of curiosity, and only if you don’t mind saying, what made the other co-workers cry (besides the one who wasn’t your friend)?

      1. super anon*

        we all had to bring in an artefact that was a representation of who we are and our values and describe it and its relation to us – i brought in a book of poetry and essays and my description of the book made people cry.. it was kind of uncomfortable tbh.

        this wasn’t directly me related, but she also led us in a seeing your ancestors exercise in which we had to close our eyes and imagine our ancestors and then they would come to us and give us advice on how to deal with our situation, and then share it with the group. unsurprisingly a) everyone (except me) cried, and b) the advice the ancestors gave to each person essentially boiled down to “fuck everyone else you’re right in this situation #letitgo”.

        i was the only one who didn’t share, mostly because i don’t believe in these things. my grandfather (who raised me from a baby and was basically my father) died 2 weeks before this and all she did was make me think of him and make me really sad.

        … i’ve decided i’m not going to another one of these sessions if they host it, i have a lot of deadlines i need to make and can’t if i’m wasting 2 days a week on this ish.

        1. fposte*

          I thought the crying was going to be much worse from your initial description–this sounds like what people there would have considered good crying.

          However, it also sounds like a situation where crying was a big thing that people ended up being supposed to do. Ick ick ick ick. (And I love your observation that everybody’s ancestor ego-stroked. Nobody’s ancestor said “Girl, we crossed an ocean for you to fuss about this”?)

    2. Kat M2*

      Ugh, those are the worst. Not to get in too much detail-but I really think work places that hose sensitivity trainings or what have you need to only commit if they truly know what they’re doing. And frankly, these types of sessions aren’t effective if management and HR aren’t doing their jobs….

    3. fposte*

      Oh, that sounds like a bad situation all around.

      I also think “basic” and “basic bitch” are like “sheeple”–it automatically fits the speaker more than anybody they’re talking about.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      also the workshop leader said everything was confidential and any stories/anything was said was confidential and we couldn’t even tell hr what happened in this 8 hour session… is that even a restriction she could put on us?

      It’s a trap! Or at least that’s what I’ve thought every time someone said something like this to me and more often than not, it has come back to bite me in the arse.

      Sure, she can put that restriction on you — but it’s up to everyone in the group to honour and abide by it. Just as you can’t un-ring a bell, no one can just forget what they heard in that session and put it aside unless they make a conscious effort to do so. I would not be surprised that that stuff will fly out in a moment of pique.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “HR Person, I can’t tell you what goes on in these sessions but I can tell you that they are a huge waste of my time. There is nothing productive going on here. I see no point in attending any more sessions.”

    5. YaH*

      “also the workshop leader said everything was confidential and any stories/anything was said was confidential and we couldn’t even tell hr what happened in this 8 hour session…”

      FALSE. Not if it was a work-specific event. Plus, the only person who can guarantee confidentiality is the workshop leader her/himself. Any of the attendees are under no ethical, legal, or professional requirement to keep anything they heard to themselves.

      And nobody gets to tell you what you can and cannot talk to HR about.

      1. Orbital Transport Six, attached to Masters' Starship CX110*

        I have found that, in general, whenever someone tells me that something is “confidential”, I simply assume that no, it is not confidential. Sooner or later, I’ll find out that my words have been circulated around. I don’t think people are intentionally trying to screw me around[1] – like, this workshop, I’m sure they just wanted to encourage people to open up – but, in general: people suck at keeping secrets.

        [1] I once worked with a fellow who was a serious bastard, and he actually would try to get people to tell him their ‘dirt’ – which he would then invariably use against them in some way. He’d tend to get someone alone – “hey, wanna go out for lunch?” – and then get all sympatico and talking about personal stuff, and quite often people will respond in kind. And then a few hours later it might occur to a person that maybe that stuff they told him about that argument with the wife was maybe something they shouldn’t have shared.

      2. Weekend Warrior*

        I was in an ice breaking exercise with coworkers from other units and we were asked to share something personal that people didn’t know. One guy shared that he had been a very large baby (he’s still a large guy) and now every time I see him I visualize him as a (big) baby. Aargh.

  42. CC*

    I’ve seen people talk about important it is for people, when starting a new job, to make a clean break and not be at the service of your ex-employer. I think this is a healthy thing to do, especially if you’re leaving the job on your own terms and to escape negativity (such as poor leadership, dysfunction, etc.) But what about employers who encourage staff to reach out to ex-employees ? Recently, a coworker/friend left and since she’s left my boss still asks me to reach out to them for certain projects. I know this former coworker well enough to know that they left this place because she was miserable here (hopefully I’m right behind them) and does not want to be contacted by this place for anything – because she’s moved on. So far, I just let my boss believe I reached out to them whenever she’s asked me to. But I don’t want to do that forever. I just see a pattern starting and I need to put an end to it – I just don’t know how. My boss has a very difficult personality and she just wants/expects things to go as she wants.

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      Wow, I think that is a really, really odd thing for your boss to ask.

      I would be tempted to reach out as instructed – with an undertone of ‘it would be really helpful if you tell me to tell {boss} never to contact you about work again’. Because… srsly, that’s weird.

    2. Anony-Moose*

      I have no idea, but as an ex-employee who has been on the receiving end of “boss wanted me to reach out” thank you! I left a job and got calls for MONTHS from my old boss. I’d worked in 3 departments so the questions ranged from “Where’s that fundraising report” to “how do you plan this event.” I’d left meticulous notes but… you know how what it is.

      Finally my coworker who was still there flat-out said to my old boss “you know, I think Anony-moose is working hard to settle into her new job and probably doesn’t remember where the file from two years ago is. Why don’t we save the questions until we have something really big?” OldBoss heard her, miraculously.

      Being on the receiving end, I just started scaling back my support. I liked OldBoss but after a few weeks I’d send really friendly answers along the terms of “I’m so sorry, I don’t remember the outcome of that meeting. It’s probably in the minutes, though.” I’d also take a day or two to answer. I wasn’t blowing her off but I was establishing that she was no longer my boss. She stopped emailing about work, and we’ve kept up a great relationship.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Well, it sounds as if your boss is looking for ex-employees to be contractors. Is that correct? If so, there’s no harm in “reach[ing] out to them for certain projects,” because the ex-employees can then say either “Sure. Here are my terms and my hourly rate,” or “No thanks. I’m not interested and don’t have the time to enter into a contract on top of my full-time job [not for your company any more].”

      If your boss wants you to reach out to ex-employees to do work for free, you can shoot an email and just say “Ms. [Boss’s Name] wanted me to ask you about blah blah blah,” and then if the ex-employee has any sesnse, she’ll just ignore your email (unless it’s one or two reasonable requests for information—not work—within a few weeks of having left).

      But if it’s been months or even years since an employee has left, it’s okay to push back on your boss and say “That person doesn’t work for us any more. Would you like me to see if she’d be interested in being a paid contractor?” Or “I don’t feel comfortable sending that email. Perhaps you can reach out to her directly.”

      1. CC*

        No, it’s only been a couple of weeks and I know for a fact she’s not interested in hiring them as a contractor. My boss doesn’t appear to see anything problematic about this. Even if she were, I know my coworker would not be in the least bit interested.

        1. CMT*

          The contracting offer is more to make your boss realize how ridiculous it is to ask an ex-employee to continue doing work.

    4. T3k*

      I’d say something like “Unfortunately, ex-coworker has been really busy and can’t help out” and maybe add on “but I can talk to other coworker/I can research this problem” or something to give your boss a “hey, I am exploring other areas for help” vibe. I’m in a similar situation where a college friend and I basically switched jobs with 2 different companies and on occasion my new boss would go “can you ask Beth about it? She did something to do that.” Thankfully that only carried on the first few months I was here and, as Beth did like this boss (left for other reasons) she was ok with answering my questions.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      If Boss won’t blow up, say, “I’m not comfortable asking her to help us for free.”

      If Boss is an ass and will want to see that you tried: Depending on your relationship with the former coworker — that is, if you can trust her not to rat you out to your old boss — you could send her an email from your private address saying, “Boss told me to ask you questions. Ignore the email I’m going to send you asking you the questions, or feel free to write back and say you’ll consult for a fee.” Then send an email from work address asking the question. “See, look, Boss, I asked her and she said no/she ignored me/she’ll do it, but only for $500 an hour!”

    6. AMT*

      Hmmm, I think I would maybe just call the ex-employee privately and say that boss asked me to reach out, but if you do not want us to contact you again please tell me so now and I will relay the message. Giving her a clear out and you have done what Boss asked.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Have you reached out or do you just nod and smile a lot?
      If you have reached out and you are not getting answers then USE that. “Boss, this is lost time for me. The last 8 times you told me to reach out to someone, that person never answered. I am willing to help out in any way I can, but this method here is not very productive. I would like to put my energy into something that does give the results you are looking for.”

      The idea here is you are showing her how it is in her best interest to do something different. Self-focused people are not going to be interested in hearing how something appears to others or impacts others, so skip that part. Go directly to the part where you are showing her how to make the best use of time.

  43. Mallory Janis Ian*

    [1] Woo hoo!! Friday!

    [2] My co-worker and predecessor to my current position just left to go on maternity leave and won’t return until January, when the university reopens after the winter break. It has been very helpful to have a successful predecessor around to ask questions of, but part of me is kind of glad that she will be gone for awhile. It will give me a chance to make the position more my own and to form my own relationships with the faculty without feeling like I’m being watched to see if I do everything like she did. I just left a job where I had worked for eight years, and where I was the go-to person who knew everything about everything. It was nice at first to have a break from that and to be the person who doesn’t know anything about anything; it was nice to see everyone going to someone else instead of always bothering me. But now I’m ready to make the job more my own, and I feel like having a little time out from under the watchful eye of my predecessor will be good for me.

  44. TheLazyB (UK)*

    So a few weeks ago I posted about being paranoid that someone from my work might be reading. And yesterday another regular commenter and I figured out we work for the same org (albeit different locations). What are the odds?

    I am partly excited about this but also rather paranoid that they will turn out to be someone I know rather than just a name.

    So, yes. I don’t think I’ve said anything I don’t stand behind but maybe I might have been more discreet?

    Have you ever regretted a post about work here?

    Alison I hope this isn’t too meta!

    1. Merry and Bright*

      I promise I’m not cyber stalking here. Hope I can offer some reassurance (since I’m the other commenter). I honestly haven’t figured which colleague you are. I know 4 women (as opposed to names) from your location and I know (from yesterday and earlier posts) that none of them are you. So I promise your anonymity stands as that goes. I honestly can’t identify your team mates from anything you’ve said.

      Another way to look at it is that I’ve also posted stuff about the same organisation that rather makes us quits. I’m more likely actually to be in sympathy.

      Please don’t feel paranoid on my account – seriously :)

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        Hehe I outed myself on the other post, as I would rather be out if I’m out (iykwim!) – if you look on (work social network) I recently started a thread about IT shortcuts. Don’t feel like you have to out yourself in return if you don’t wanna.

        It is quite nice having a colleague on here. Especially now I can stop worrying that you are my senior manager ;)

        Thanks for the reassurance, I do have some bad-job-PTSD on top of some anxiety, so do get a bit worried about this kind of thing :)

        1. Merry and Bright*

          I like the idea of having a colleague on here but my brain is still getting used to the idea a bit! I didn’t pick up the network reference properly before but I’ll take a look next week. Now I know when you are coming down next I will keep a look out and try to find a way to say hello if I see you.

          I don’t manage anyone so you are definitely OK there!

          I totally get the work-related PTSD stuff. Very much been there. In fact, the job in question is about 5 mins from New Office so I am hoping I don’t run into a couple of people on my travels.

          1. TheLazyB (UK)*

            I put it in pointy brackets which meant the key part disappeared :)

            I think the way it goes is our brains simultaneously go ‘yay!!/oh crap!!’ for a couple of days and then we just realise it’s all fine ;)

            I can imagine it’s not nice being close to an old job like that :-/ fingers crossed that if you run into them it’s on a day when you are rocking everything and your confidence is sky high!

    2. Hattie McDoogal*

      One time AAM answered one of my letters and I felt soon after that it was dumb/embarrassing and I wished I hadn’t sent it in and was hoping I could just pretend it never happened (yay anonymity!). But I had talked about the issue elsewhere and someone I knew there happened to be an AAM reader as well, and recognized my letter so I was ‘outed’. Not a big deal in grand scheme of things but I did regret sending in the letter.

    3. Hattie McDoogal*

      Also, how cool that you two were able to figure that out! There are sometimes letters/comments here that I could almost swear are about my workplace but it never has been (yet).

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        Yeah it’s funny I knew we worked in similar environments but never dreamed it was the same org until we started talking about ridiculous office stuff!

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’ve recommended this blog to many people – I am sure that someone I know from the internet world (a blogging site of sorts) posts irregularly here from the things that I know of them and what they say here. I did once want to say “hey are __on AAM?” but thought that would be very strange so didn’t.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        Yeah i think it’s almost easier that Merry and Bright and I don’t actually know each other.

        I quite regularly send people links here and am always surprised that people I send them to enjoy the posts but don’t start reading it in general. Weirdoes ;)

    5. Windchime*

      We interviewed a GREAT candidate a couple of weeks ago and we are so fortunate that she accepted our offer. When it was her turn to ask questions in the interview, she asked, “What would a successful candidate look like to you for this role?”, and I thought “She reads AAM!!!” I haven’t asked her yet, but when she joins the team I will.

      And Candidate, if you’re out there and recognize this situation, then Hello! I’m the person you met at the training thing a month or so ago and gave you the job lead!

  45. ACA*

    So due to the Pope’s visit, my office is closed. We’re supposed to treat it like we would a snow day, so I’ll be checking email throughout the day, but otherwise there’s not actually much work I can do…and I can’t even respond to most of the emails I’m getting, because the info they need is at work.

    On the plus side, that means I won’t feel terribly guilty if I walk away from my inbox for a few hours. :)

  46. T3k*

    For those who use LinkedIn, is it unusual to get a request/prospective person looking for a job from someone you don’t know but is shown to have a 2nd degree connection? I came across a company that sounds really up my alley in terms of a cultural fit and I’d be genuinely excited if I got an opportunity to interview with them. However their website had hiccups when I submitted my information, giving me a 404 error. I tried once more and again, another 404, so I saw I could send an email to their career email and I mentioned the error, but haven’t heard a response if they got my application or how to submit my resume if they didn’t get it. I did come across one of the head’s profile pages on LinkedIn (that’s how I actually came across their company in the first place) and am wondering if I’d be overstepping the boundaries if I messaged him about it?

    1. AnonPi*

      Eh, maybe? Can you see if you can find an HR person to contact? Or look up the company website and see if they have a contact number and talk to HR.

    2. Charityb*

      If you can find a recruiter or someone in HR that might be better. Additionally, and this might be a little elaborate but it *could* work if you ever need information that would be on the site, you might be able to use the Wayback Machine online to get a look at their webpage from before their server started having problems. Assuming that this issue is recent you might be able to use that to find out the contact information or at least the name of the person that you’re looking for within the company even if the website remains down.

      (If the person is a 2nd connection, maybe you can reach out to a mutual contact to help out as well.)

  47. Christy*

    I have a hard time estimating timelines for work. Basically now I make them up and hope I meet them. Obviously this isn’t ideal. I don’t have a ton of experience with the work that I’m doing, so I don’t know how long some things should take. I’m both the developer and project manager. Any advice? I work with SharePoint forms and workflows, if that helps.

    1. katamia*

      I don’t know about SharePoint, but it might help to log your time. When you start something, when you finish something, every time you take a break, etc. Over time, it might help you see which tasks are taking up more of your time and give you a better sense of how long things take. Also, do you have a trusted coworker or friend who does similar work who you could ask about the time?

      1. Christy*

        Oh good call! Logging my time makes total sense. And no, it’s a small team of us and somehow I’m being praised as the fast worker, even though I’m so new. So there’s not really anyone to turn to. (I also feel like I’m a lot slower than everyone else, but I might not be in reality? I’m still trying to figure that part out.)

    2. Judy*

      You may want to look at Carnegie Mellon University’s Personal Software Process.

      When I was using it a few years ago, it helped me understand how to estimate. Basically, it requires you to estimate, then track, and then compare your estimates. This gives you concrete data on how long X took, which leads that Y is 80% of X or Z is 110% of X. It also allows you to understand how accurate you are.

    3. LQ*

      Ah SharePoint.

      The suggestion of logging your time for what you do. I work with SP and InfoPath forms and Nintex so I totally understand.

      I sort things into 3 categories.
      Stuff I know so well it bores me and so sometimes I end up getting a little distracted. These are the fastest (but also the things I try to find workarounds so I don’t have to keep doing them). I give next to no time contingency on these. I know what needs to be done, I’ve done it a dozen times, this won’t be different I figure out how long last time took and go with that.
      Stuff I’m pretty good on but still improving. These are pretty quick, but sometimes I find a time saver or a thing that trips me up. I go with about a 10% time contingency on these based on last time.
      Brand new stuff. (My favorite!) These I try to look for something that was most similar and then I actually put in about a 50% contingency. (Though most of my projects are less than 100 hour projects, if I was going for a longer project I might cut my contingency percentage down a bit.) There is a lot I don’t know, and I don’t have really good people I could turn to when I run into a problem. It’s mostly google and trial and error.

      I really try to think of time like a budget and work it that way.

      1. Christy*

        You are the best! These are really great suggestions. Google can really tell you amazing things. Nintex seems great but we don’t have it :(

        Thank you for your SharePoint specifics.

    4. Boononymous*

      What I do when creating timelines is define the due date — give yourself a deadline. Then identify milestones from today through due date. It allows me to see what needs to happen from now to Milestone 1 and so forth.
      Or if you’re trying to discover how long it takes to complete certain projects, track your time. There are several free time tracking apps to help with this. Knowing how much time it takes will result in knowing how your timelines should look.

  48. Strafed by Helicopter Parents*

    Every so often, I get someone who will tell me about a job they’ve posted or a certain kind of person they’re trying to find for a job. In years past, I have posted whatever information they have supplied in some private groups and just let people do with it as they will.

    Recently, a few jobs I’ve posted have resulted not in job seekers contacting me, but their parents. “My offspring is looking to make a career change, do you think they could call you to discuss the job?” These are not jobs that I am posting where I am hiring someone. I make it clear that it’s a friend of mine who is looking, I am not associated with the company in any way but it just gets out of hand with the “can you provide more details?” “can I speak to your friend about it?” What is so hard about passing along a link to your offspring and letting them follow up or apply through the provided details? Is there something else I should be doing to try and get the message across?

    Just like online dating, I’m sure that there’s nothing that can be done because people gonna do what they’re gonna do but sheesh.

    1. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      IF you’re inclined, I would email them back and let them know the proper steps to take. And for kicks and giggles let them know how their actions reflect upon them and their offspring. We can call it “A Service to Humanity”. Copy, paste, and email as needed!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I am a grump, but I would say this to them: “I’m not the one hiring for this position, so anyone interested should use the link I provided for more information. I’d definitely encourage you, though, to have your daughter do any outreach or follow-up on her own; it can reflect badly on candidates if a parent reaches out on their behalf.”

    3. College Career Counselor*

      Oh, does this ever ring true for me. In no particular order, I have seen parents:

      *make appointments for their students in the career center
      *request lists of alumni in order to set up networking appointments for the student (“he’s too busy to do this himself, so I’m doing it for him”)
      *INSIST on attending career advising sessions (always uncomfortable and usually super-awkward)
      *call up complaining because their student did not know about XYZ career program/opportunity
      *Proceed to complain that their student wasn’t given SPECIAL announcements when told that all students got publicity about XYZ
      *maintain all their student’s important papers (ie, resumes, term papers, etc.)

      In my opinion, most of it stems from a desire to help the kid succeed, although it winds up looking more like infantilizing/enabling behavior the longer it goes on. Sometimes, the student needs to do it (or fail) on his/her own before the Maturity Gene(tm) gets activated.

    4. Elle the new fed*

      Are they kidding? This is SO off-base. I wonder if the offspring even knows what the parent is doing. I’d definitely use Alison’s wording to respond to them!

      This is also good information for me as I’m transitioning into a hiring manager role. The positions I’m filling tend to attract recent grads and I didn’t even think about parents being a problem.

      1. Strafed by Helicopter Parents*

        No joke. This happened a few weeks ago and that is a direct quote what the woman said. The role wasn’t something I’ve ever even done where I could advise on. After almost a dozen e-mails back and forth, I finally said that I would not be providing any more information unless Offspring contacted me about it because I have been in more than one situation where it has backfired on me (I did have a direct contact e-mail address, but I wasn’t going to give it out just ‘cuz). MaMa agreed and I haven’t heard a peep since then.

        What is so difficult about sending your Offspring a quick “I found this job opening and thought you might want to check it out. It seems to be in line with what you were talking about when we spoke last.” I mean seriously, I get that you want your child to succeed but if they don’t apply for the job themselves… what sense of accomplishment is there in having Mommy or Daddy hand you a job?

        Oh and… “Hey, hey! Come out and play!”

    5. Ellen*

      You might head some of this off by including contact information for the appropriate person in the posting (“For more information, please contact Esmerelda Stardust at estardust@[whatevercompany]”). Then I think you can either ignore inquiries that come to you, or direct them back to the contact information in your posting. I like Alison’s response too, but think if you can provide information for someone who *can* answer questions, that would be very helpful.

      Finally, one note of possible sympathy/understanding for these potential applicants and their parents. I obviously know nothing about the types of groups in which you’re posting these things, but I’m imagining something like my college’s alumni club regional facebook group (“Smallschool Alumni in Awesomecity”). Assuming that the parent is a member of the group and the student is not a member of the group (and maybe can’t be a member–isn’t a Smallschool alum in this example), a parental reach-out seems less terrible to me. It’s essentially someone with a small connection to you (being in the same group) saying, “Hey, that thing you mentioned to our group isn’t really relevant to me, but I’m close to a non-member who might be interested. Might she contact you to talk more about it?” Feel free to disregard this comment if it doesn’t seem to fit–maybe you’re just encountering a bunch of really over involved parents–but I thought it might be worth mentioning.

      1. Strafed by Helicopter Parents*

        Actually, they are private groups for professionals in my industry. The Mother who contacted me is someone I had worked with on a project many years ago, but have never actually met in person. I can see your point but when you say “Hey, ThisCompany is hiring for ThisPosition and a friend of mine there told me that there will be some other similar positions opening soon. Go to ThisURL to apply.” I’m not sure how much clearer someone can get. Here’s a job, it’s publicly available but you may not have seen it on job boards/during your search, go apply for it if you want to. No language about “this is specifically just for us, don’t pass this posting on to other people” or anything. If I saw a job posting that I thought someone might be interested in, I’d forward the e-mail to them, or copy the information from the website and e-mail it to them with a “Saw this and thought you might be interested in it” message. Up to them whether they want to pursue it or pass it on to someone else.

        While I did have a contact for the person doing the hiring, I didn’t want to post that willy-nilly. I thought that if someone was really interested and contacted me, I could forward them that information. Offspring never did that, so their loss.

  49. Amy*

    I’m wondering what kind of women’s interview attire is appropriate when applying for creative positions (specifically graphic design. I’m not limiting myself to any particular area but see jobs in nonprofits, ad agencies, small businesses, the corporate world, etc.) Is it really necessary to wear a suit? I don’t own one and don’t feel particularly comfortable in one and I also cannot walk in heels and don’t own any. My normal wardrobe contains a lot of print dresses, skirts, cardigans, etc, so it’s not like I dress like a slob, but I doubt most of that would be appropriate for an interview. Would a nice blouse and skirt with a suit jacket work? Or even more casual, like a nice blouse and skirt with a cardigan? I don’t want to flaunt the norms but it seems like the attire norm would be different than for something like an accounting job.

    1. AnonPi*

      I wouldn’t think so but it’s not a field I’m terribly familiar with. Can you look up some company sites/profiles of the type of places intend to apply to, and look for photos that may indicate what people wear on a typical day there? I don’t wear heels, nor have a suit or anything like that either. I usually go with black slacks, black flats, nice button down shirt, then a cardigan/jacket I can throw on.

    2. k cat*

      I’ve started defaulting to nice slacks and blouse plus a blazer or nice cardigan. I’ve even done slacks + high end tshirt and blazer. When we’re interviewing for those types of positions at MPOW, fewer and fewer people are showing up in full suits, and they kind of stand out in a weird way when they do. Times are changing, I guess!

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Unfortunately I think it has a lot to do with the company, not your position.

      Ad agencies, at least in the niche I work in, are very casual, and you can show up to your interview in a wrap dress and be just fine. I’ve even interviewed people in jeans and a nice top — they were already employed and I totally understood that if they went to work in a nicer outfit, it would be a dead giveaway that they were interviewing.

      But I would imagine that a graphic designer at a nonprofit has to dress like other people who work at the nonprofit, or at least like others who work there who are not donor-facing. And so I would also expect that you have to wear on an interview whatever it would be normal for a non-designer to wear.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Ooh, this is a good point. If it’s a creative job in a not-so-creative industry, go with something more conservative. It probably still doesn’t have to be a suit, but a blouse and skirt with a blazer would be wise.

    4. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      You definitely don’t have to wear heels, and if you did a simple straight, A-line or pencil skirt with a cardigan or suit jacket and scoop neck shirt or button up blouse will work just fine.

    5. Creative-ish*

      I work in a creative setting and I don’t believe that a suit is absolutely necessary for an interview. A polished and professional look is a must though; play around and try a few different things and see how they make you feel.

    6. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I hire graphic designers. We’re a business casual, East Coast suburban company. What catches my eye is when a graphic designer is dressed well. Color, patterns, prints, interesting. Suits or no suits doesn’t matter. The visual reassurance that the person looks like they can design things, and cares about the visual appearance of things makes an impact.

      I’d expect a suit or a jacketed outfit for a management level graphic design position.

      1. Orbital Transport Six, attached to Masters' Starship CX110*

        Agreed. I’ve hired several graphic designers, and while their appearance was only part of what I considered, it did indeed matter to me that they looked like someone who put some time and thought into what they looked like. It’s not some kind of sexist pig thing; it’s like WTL wrote above: someone who knows how to design and who cares about the visual appearance of things will tend to show that in their dress. The nearest thing in my personal experience is that it’s like designing an avatar for an MMORPG: in environments that allow for a LOT of customization, it’s usually pretty easy to tell who does (and does not) know a thing or two about design.

    7. Windchime*

      We interviewed a woman for a software developer position the other day (I consider this a creative position). I had to think hard to remember what she wore. Something black on top, and a gray skirt I think. There may or may not have been boots. She looked fine, but we were really more interested in her skills and personality.

      Unless someone comes in wearing PJ’s, smelly clothes, or a swimsuit, we just don’t care (or notice, usually).

    8. catsAreCool*

      I never wear heels because I don’t like them (not comfortable, can eventually be bad for legs/feet), and when I’m trying to be dressy, I wear a pair of flats, usually in the Mary Jane or pump variety. I hope I haven’t been doing this wrong. I’m not so good at fashion, so I tend to go for classic styles when I get dressy clothes.

  50. Lizzy*

    I had lunch last weekend with a good friend (I will refer to him as Ned) and while I complain about where I work all the time here, I think Ned has it worse than me. Specifically, he has a nightmare coworker who his organization doesn’t want to get rid of.

    The backstory: Ned works for a national nonprofit who was awarded millions of dollars in grant money to fund a multi-year teapot safety campaign. He was hired as part of a team to create and implement this 3-year project. He already worked internally for the org, but due to lack of mobility in his former department, Ned thought this would a perfect opportunity for him. And he’s loved it, for the most part, except when dealing with his coworker: Sansa.

    He works closely with a Sansa, who is essentially the project manager. Because their work often deals with communicating with funders and campaign partners, she was adamant that she would be the one to lead external communications. Ned is junior to her so that didn’t seem like such an odd request. Except according to him, she takes days to respond to emails (if she even responds at all). In fact, Ned says he has walked by her desk to talk to her and and has seen tons of unread emails sitting in her inbox (she is not even reading them when they first come in). When he brought up to her about the urgency of these emails, especially when dealing with funders and partners, Sansa brushed him off. Apparently, she thinks 72-96 hours is a perfectly adequate amount of time to respond to an email. Ned has tried taking the lead on some of these emails, especially with campaign partners who get anxious over the status of a project, but this has led to them butting heads and she has accused him of going over her authority. Now every time an email comes in addressed to both of them, he has to go over to her desk to let her know; it is the only way Sansa will promptly respond or tell Ned how to respond. When she does get around to responding to the funders or the partners, she is rude and even downright hostile. They have told Ned privately they would rather deal with him.

    Ned also sees her online shopping most of the time he passes her computer. And she leaves early and arrives late every day. Plus, when he asks her a question or needs a favor, she doesn’t know the information and gets irritated with him.

    I think the worst offense is that he has discovered that another coworker, Khaleesi, has been plagiarizing her work (he also copy edits all campaign material) and when he has reported this to Sansa, she has done nothing. He was horrified too when he recently found out why: Khaleesi and the Sansa are close friends and often go to lunch together. Sansa is no doubt covering for Khaleesi.

    His boss, Jon, isn’t blind to this either. Jon has even tried getting rid of Sansa, and not just because of her issues with Ned. She is also responsible for creating quarterly budget reports and her numbers have always been egregiously off. When Jon brings this up, she gets defensive and tries to throw the blame back at him. Ned thinks Jon is struggling to get rid of her because she was a political hire by someone above Jon and his bosses think it isn’t worth the cost to replace her with just 1.5 year left on the campaign. So while Ned is grateful Jon is in his corner, they are both frustrated with dealing with her. Ned, however, thinks that his plagiarism case might finally get the ball rolling.

    Any suggestions? Has anyone dealt with a similar situation where an incompetent, immoral coworker has been able to get away with it?

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s up to Jon, not Ned. I also think that 72-96 hours can be absolutely fine for an email response, so it’s not automatically a problem that she answers in that window unless Jon and the org think it is.

      I also think the Khaleesi thing is really about Khaleesi, not Sansa, but again, it’s up to Jon and not Ned. I think Ned needs to buckle down for the long haul on this and start training himself away from worrying about Sansa.

      1. Lizzy*

        I left many other things out because this was getting too long, but there is more to this. I should clarify a few things:

        1,) The organization has a 24-hour policy regarding responding to external emails. And because they work in an environment with lots of project deadlines, it is imperative these emails get answered right away. Because of Sansa’s unwillingness to answer emails right away, they have twice missed emergency meeting opportunities with their partners. When Ned has gone over Sansa, he has been able to curtail missing a few deadlines for projects (even if it means incurring Sansa’s wrath later).

        2.) Since Sansa is senior, the onus is on her to report Khaleesi’s misconduct to management before Ned can. My understanding is that he has done it himself already, but it is part of her job to either dig into the problem or report it to management. She has done neither.

        3.) Jon and Sansa’s work coincide and overlap, so while he has no authority over her, her unwillingness to do her work affects his work. When things have fallen through due to her unresponsiveness, he has to take the blame as well. When he has come through where she drops the ball, she gets that credit as well. He very much has to worry about her since she effects him.

        Overall, I do agree that this up to Jon, but I was looking for ways for him to deal with this in the meantime.

        1. fposte*

          But he still can’t fix this without Jon, and noting things like her online shopping is just going to make him crazy.

          The problem may have started as Sansa, but now it’s Jon.

        2. Charityb*

          Ned is not in a good position to really resolve this, since it sounds like the people who have all of the responsibility and authority are choosing to do nothing. (If people are OK with her blowing off deadlines, ignoring partners, creating more work for other employees, covering up plagiarism, etc. then that says something about the kind of workplace this is and Ned might be the odd man out, not Sansa.)

          Honestly, in terms of coping, I might actually tell him to pull back a little and stop working so hard to cover for their incompetence/fraud. It’s easy for upper management to ignore problem employees when other employees go above and beyond to fix this so that there are no consequences to the organization as a whole. As another AAM from yesterday pointed out, employers care more about results than process; if “the team” (Ned, Sansa, et al) are still succeeding, the managers might not care if it’s because Ned is bending over backwards to work around dysfunctional coworkers.

          I’m not suggesting that he stop caring about his work, but there’s some room to “work to code” here. If Sansa is the only person authorized to do a task or talk to a person, let her do it. If she doesn’t, and something blows up, let her deal with the consequences. Don’t undermine her or defy her, but don’t spend so much energy bailing her out any more. This might not fix things right away, but it could get some attention or scrutiny on the situation and hopefully take some of the stress from Ned so that he doesn’t… lose his head… from the pressure.