open thread – October 2, 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 :)

{ 1,124 comments… read them below }

  1. costume teapot*

    I’m really unsure how to handle this issue or whether this is a “writing on the wall” type of problem.

    I’ve been at my job since the beginning of the year. For the most part I like it, but I am feeling a little hamstrung at times.

    Part of my job is to track, file, organize, and log all of a certain kind of document that comes through our company. I have a gazillion tracking documents that I inherited from the previous person–really about four, much of them redundant. It’s inefficient and part of what I’ve done this year is explore potential other options.

    This week I’ve received so much negative feedback that I’m feeling very concerned.

    First point was that my motivation seems to be gone. It’s a valid point. I’ve been sick for about five months and the Docs have no idea what it is. It’s difficult to get to the Dr right now because my supervisor is doing the job of 3 people since the other person in the loop left at the beginning of the month. She can’t cover a day-long absence. I’m really hoping someone will start soon so I can go to the doctor in earnest. They know I’m sick but I won’t share why; my inability to have a bowel movement more than once a week is really none of their business and way too gross to talk about at work.

    Second point was that I mis-labeled documents back in June. Somehow things got confused and I labeled documents 2 and 3 both as document 2, so when documents 4 and 5 came in my numbers were skewed. Valid, I dropped a plate there. Not really sure why it happened but I corrected it. We’re having a meeting with the projects side on Monday to go over it with the projects side. It almost feels like a meeting to shame me for messing up but I’m ignoring that for now.

    Third point was last night–I was asked for a document on the fly with the person wanting it standing over my shoulder. He was in a meeting with the company executive and needed it NOW NOW NOW. I rushed in getting him the answer and gave him the wrong answer–that we had only one document A when had I taken my time and checked my trackers/folder more carefully, I would have seen we had two document As. I received an email late last night saying I was asked for documents A and B and could not find them and that she found and saved the documents and that I need to correct the trackers, save files with clear labels, and update everything by COB today.

    But I checked the documents and did some looking back–*I* saved documents A1, A2, AND document B. I wasn’t even asked for document B yesterday, but I had saved it. I have no idea what she’s talking about, or if my computer recordis wrong, why I would have made those mistakes.

    I have no idea how to react to her e-mail. I don’t want to be held responsible for not doing something I did, and I don’t understand what I may have done wrong. I won’t see her in person until Monday and need to be productive and correspond with her today. I have no problem with negative feedback, but I have a problem with A LOT of negative feedback ALL AT ONCE. Especially that where I don’t think I actually did anything hugely majorly wrong.

    Tangentally related, all this coming at me all this week has me wondering whether I should be worried about my job. My understanding is that the company does not provide clear guidance as to when a problem might lead to termination, as the last person fired literally said “It came out of left field, I thought I was progressing towards my goals really nicely.”

    ….should I be this concerned? What kind of conversation should I have/language should I use with my supervisor? I don’t have a problem being direct but I don’t think saying “I’m pretty sure you lied because the computer records said I created these documents” is going to go over well.

    ….or do I start job hunting again?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Don’t frame it as “you lied because computer records,” frame it as “I think we may have (had) a miscommunication here” and try to figure out what the nomenclature problem is so that you’re all talking about the same information/documents. Obviously you know your org culture best, but if you legitimately sound like you’re trying to clear up a mis-communication, as opposed to sounding defensive, it may go over better. Good luck.

    2. Been there*

      I had something very similar happen recently–a lot of negative feedback, all at once, some of it factually incorrect. It seemed totally out of the blue because I usually receive very positive feedback from my boss and others. Like you, I totally freaked out and thought it was a first step toward serious discipline, even though I couldn’t understand where it was coming from. The next week, I came to my boss prepared to say, “I appreciate your feedback on x and y. Here is my plan to address those concerns. On z, I believe that you may have been missing some information; here it is.” But, he stopped me before I could continue, apologized for being so negative, and said that he was just trying to give constructive feedback about very minor issues, and that I shouldn’t spend too much time and energy addressing them. Basically, he was having a bad day, and he took it out on me. Not great, but it happens (and I should say that he’s usually a great boss.) So maybe follow up with your boss when she seems to be in a good mood and see how the conversation goes before you get too worried.

    3. Natalie*

      Regarding your health issue, I think you should consider approaching your supervisor and explain the issue. Not the details of the health problem, but the fact that you need to figure out some time to see a doctor. I know if probably feels risky, but if it’s affecting your work you’re already taking a risk by not addressing it. And really, you don’t know when additional employees will be hired. What if it’s 6 months from now, or a year? Or never?

    4. That Marketing Chick*

      Start job hunting. Not so much because your errors might be enough that they aren’t going to keep you around much longer, but more that you’ve been sick for so long. In my case, it was the unhappiness at my job that was making me sick. Once I realized how unhappy I truly was and found a job more interesting and challenging…most of my physical issues (mostly migraines) have become much more manageable.

  2. UniStudent*

    I’m in my final year of uni, and recently secured a job for when I graduate next summer (I’m in the UK). However, as the job is working with finance I need to have a fairly thorough background check, one component of which must be completed within one month of beginning employement. Essentially my offer won’t be unconditional for another nine months.

    Should I keep job searching? On one hand I feel I should as the offer is conditional, on the other it feels unethical to keep looking and possibly accept a second job when I’ve told the first company I’m accepting their offer.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Are you looking for a job to start right away or another job that will start in nine months? If you are looking for another job that will start in nine months, I wouldn’t bother. Any job offer now is going to be conditional, even if they say isn’t because things change in nine months. Wait until you are three out and then touch base with this job and if it sounds at all uncertain, then start looking just in case.

    2. diosamante*

      AAM always advises to keep looking until you signed the contract. I know it sucks (I hate job searching…) but if you’re not thrilled to work in finance I wouldn’t stop. Maybe you can keep searching but spending less hour every week?

    3. Ezri*

      This is a hard one – the exact same thing happened to me when I graduated. I accepted a conditional offer in November, but the background check wasn’t run until May. I personally did not job search after I had the offer, but if something had happened in the background check I would have been SOL. It did give me a lot of anxiety during my last year of school. I imagine a lot of places do that, so I don’t know if there’s a good answer.

    4. Sunflower*

      I would ask HR what parts of the background check are completed now and what is done within a month of starting. Chances are they just want to cover themselves in case you do something bad(like kill someone or destroy your credit) in the next year. Have you already run a ‘background check’ on yourself? Like checked references and credit scores?

      Hopefully someone with a similar background can answer this as I think it’s very common to offer positions well before start dates when it comes to college grads.

      1. Sunflower*

        Its also worth noting you might run into this with any other job offer you get this far out from a start date

    5. FelineFine*

      I guess your actions depend on you. Here (Canada) those offers are rarely rescinded – unless something comes up in your background check. If you have a criminal record and/or poor credit, then I would keep looking. Otherwise, barring any drastic changes in the stock market, you should be good to go. FTR – I really dislike those industries that do all of their recruiting in September for both summer and new grad roles.

  3. ACA*

    Literally every single person in my office is wearing extra layers and/or running a space heater at their desk. That is how cold it is in my office today.

    1. WLE*

      Our office is the same way. My fingers are numb. It makes it really hard for me to be comfortable and do my job. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to keep offices at a comfortable temperature. I’ve worked at several jobs where space heaters are not allowed, and all around me co-workers are wrapped up in blankets hovering over their keyboards, blowing on their hands to keep them warm. This can’t be good for productivity.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I have fingerless gloves that I wear when it’s so cold that I can’t type. They have bunnies on them, so awesome.

        1. T3k*

          Sadly, fingerless gloves don’t work for everyone. When I get cold, the tips of my fingers and my feet are the most affected and trying to type with gloves on is practically impossible (tried several times).

            1. WLE*

              I just tweeted about that jokingly the other day! If those actually exist, I am going to need to get them. I am particularly sensitive to the cold. I actually have Renaud’s, so my hands and feet turn yellow (sorry TMI), and it makes work extremely uncomfortable.

              1. Happy Lurker*

                I have socks with batteries in them. Originally for skiing, now for the office. Found them at Dicks a few years ago.

              2. Bagworm*

                They really are out there. Shopping sites are blocked at my work. (Happily AAM is not.) So, I could post a link this evening but you should be able to find them if you Google it and I’m pretty sure T3k has the right idea on heading over to Amazon. I had a coworker with a heated mouse and she said it was a big help.

      2. ACA*

        I’m pretty sure that space heaters aren’t technically allowed, but we all have them anyway – rumor has it that our office is directly on top of a cold storage unit, so it’s cold even at the best of times. Today, when it’s chilly out and our heat is broken, is not the best of times.

      3. Artemesia*

        If you have an office microwave, you can get one of those ‘bed buddy’ things or shawl things that are filled with groats or various synthetic beads that can be heated in the microwave. I am traveling in Russia right now where they haven’t turned the heat on in apartments and it is really cold at night and having one of those really makes things bearable. You can heat it up for a couple of minutes and then put the shawl around your shoulders or the longer heat thing in the small of your back or your lap or whatever and can rest your hands on it from time to time. Of course they ought to heat the place, but these things can make life more pleasant if they don’t. They come in various forms so can be wrapped around the shoulders or middle or ankles or whatever.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      It got cold last night here. I had to get up and go drag one of my heaters out of the garage and into my bedroom. Thank goodness I have a small blanket in my footrest.

    3. Anonasaurus Rex*

      Maintenance had to confiscate or unplug all our extra space heaters because they were fire hazards (okay not reallly but technically yes they COULD be as any electrical thing can be). Now it’s 64 in our office and my hands are freezing. My boss, bless his heart, is throwing a fit because he’s going to have to send us home because it’s not okay to work like this. Maintenance’s response… why don’t you get some space heaters?


      1. msmanager*

        One guy in our office has a contraband space heater and by amazing coincidence, the rest of us frequently have to “get Bob’s opinion” on whatever project we are working on.

      2. Beezus*

        We technically don’t allow space heaters, but it’s been so long since we’ve had a crackdown that most people use them with impunity. I just got a new desk neighbor, and she has one, and it actually smelled like fire yesterday. Her response? “Oh, it just does that sometimes, I think it’s broken.” And she continues to use it!

        I don’t need one, my body is pretty good at temperature regulation and I’m usually comfortable.

      3. Z*

        One of the assistants in my office had a space heater. She was finally told she couldn’t have it anymore b/c it would frequently short out our bay of computers (there are three of us).

        She has a heating pad now, instead.

        And the firm bought us fleece jackets (b/c the thermostat is for the whole building, so we don’t have any control).

      4. Charityb*

        My theory – maintenance has a side business selling the space heaters they confiscate from people and their inventory is running low.

      5. Artemesia*

        See my ‘bed buddy’ comment above. And those small square ceramic space heaters are pretty easy to stow in a file drawer so they aren’t obvious at the end of the day.

        1. sweetknee*

          We are not supposed to have space heaters, so I sit on a heating pad. If my booty is warm, the rest of me eventually warms up.

          1. WLE*

            Good idea! Sometimes I sit on my hands for a few minutes and then type, then sit on my hands again.

            1. Nashira*

              This reminds me that I need to get wool to knit new handwarmers. Just a long tube with a gusset thumb, but they keep my Reynaud’sy fingers pink if they go from mid-forearm to my second knuckles!

    4. Rebecca*

      Finally, I can wear something else other than short sleeve shirts and capri or shorts. It’s so hot in my office because the air conditioning vent doesn’t blow anything – no cold air, no heat, nothing. My office mate and I make do with fans, but it gets so stuffy and horrible from May to September that we welcome cooler weather. I’ll be able to wear 3/4 sleeve shirts by winter, because the people in the offices on both sides of us use huge space heaters, and keep their offices over 80 degrees (personally, I’d be so sick to my stomach and sleepy I couldn’t work), so our office stay relatively comfortable all winter long. Then, there’s a nice period about April but it’s back to stuffiness in May. Ugh.

    5. AggrAV8ed Tech*

      My space heater died last winter. I’m scared that they won’t turn on the heat in here until after Thanksgiving again.

    6. Lillian McGee*

      I’m pretty sure our building doesn’t turn the heat on until enough people complain. I am wearing a wool sweater and wool socks today so I’m good!

    7. Book Person*

      YEP. It got cold quite literally overnight here. There is ONE temperature control for all the various businesses across levels in the building where I work. Just got word that the heat is scheduled to be turned on Monday the 12. October. The. 12. I don’t know what it is about the heating system that requires scheduling someone to come in and turn it on, but there you have it.

      We are all wearing coats, scarves, gloves, and blankets, and trying to make the best of it today. Space heaters will have to mysteriously appear over the weekend to see us through next week.

    8. Nashira*

      I wore two sweaters to work yesterday – a higher necked grey cotton one and a big cushy wool sweater… Also grey. It’s good that I had a bright colored blouse or else I would have been so monotonous.

      It won’t be much longer before I’m wearing tights under my pants and wishing my lined wool gabardine pants still fit. :|

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

      Space heaters aren’t allowed in our building either, but I’ve gotten wise and brought in a heated blanket that I cover my legs and lap with. No one can see it under my desk and it definitely keeps me warm. Just a thought…

    10. Honeybee*

      At my office most people keep a hoodie or sweater at their desk because it is freezing in here all the time. I am not sure why! I actually bought a hoodie to keep specifically at my desk. (It’s nice and toasty and I feel much better – still cold, but not freezing like before).

    11. sndslkslly*

      They turned on the heater at my work today and it’s driving my allergies absolutely insane. I wish they’d give me some warning so I could double down on meds.

  4. lia*

    How do you make the call to go to a manager/HR when a coworker makes inappropriate remarks towards you? I’ve got a coworker who I considered a work friend (coffee breaks and water cooler talk, asked about his wife and kids after meeting them at work functions, etc) but it escalated on his part. He bought me an expensive birthday present, spent increasing amounts of time around me, and eventually said that he had to leave the company so he didn’t do anything inappropriate towards me. With the last line, I told him that made me uncomfortable and I preferred we limit our contact to work-related conversations. He had already had another job lined up and left the company within a few weeks. On his last day, he asked to speak to me, and told me he loved me. I reiterated that he was being inappropriate, and ended the conversation.

    I didn’t mention anything to anyone because he was leaving. Neither I nor anyone else at the company would ever have to worry about inappropriate/uncomfortable remarks. But was that the right call? Or should one always report such things?

    1. Nom d' Pixel*

      I accidentally posted this below instead of as a reply to you,
      I haven’t had anyone express inappropriate affections toward me, only hostility, so take this as you will. I think it is important to let the person know as soon as their behavior becomes inappropriate. As soon as he made you feel uncomfortable, you should have told him to back off. You can say it nicely, but you still have to be firm. Then, if he escalates his behavior or even persists, I would give him one more warning and document it. After that, it is time to go the boss or HR. However, you do have a responsibility to tell the guy that you are uncomfortable with his behavior (unless it is something obvious or egregious, in which case he should know better).

      1. diosamante*

        It looks like lia said something here. And yes, you did the right thing. I have read enough of AAM, even though not for a very long time, to know that this is wildly inappropriate. I mean, you guys talked about his wife and kids!
        I would tell my manager if I were you. Maybe on a one-on-one coffee breaks, just to let her know. You never know what could happen, and as a manager I would like to know

          1. diosamante*

            You never know what could happen. Some people who are rejected sometimes complains that they were the one harassed.

      2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        I agree. It wasn’t clear to me if the OP said something while the person was still their coworker (like when he gave an expensive gift-was it accepted? Did they say something then?) or only at the point he was leaving. So while this advice may not deal with what the OP is asking for, I do think it needs to be said in case it comes up again.

        I certainly don’t think it would hurt to tell HR or a manager now, while understanding that there really isn’t anything they can do. But I guess it wouldn’t hurt in case he tries to work there again or for the sake of documentation if something happens later.

    2. WLE*

      This is a tough one for me. I lean towards notifying HR, so they can at least document it should he ever try to work for the company again. It’s also good to have on file if, God forbid, he gets even more inappropriate.

    3. Uncomfortable Coworker*

      As someone who has dealt with something similar, I can tell you that if the person has already left, there isn’t much your company can do. If he continues to contact you, it seems like you’ve done a good job making it clear that his attention is unwanted.

      That said, it might have been a good idea to say something when he was still your coworker; and maybe you can next time. If there’s any chance that he could be rehired I would tell HR that this person made you uncomfortable for x, y, and z reasons, and mention that you would rather not work with him in the future if it can be avoided.

      But that’s only if you have a good/understanding HR department.

      1. Artemesia*

        I would want someone in authority at work to know the situation so that if it ever blows back — he says something about you coming onto him as the reason he left — or whatever, you have innoculated your workplace. I’d do it in the context of ‘I know Wolfgang has left and there is nothing for HR to do here, but I wanted to let you know the situation when he left.’ You don’t want to get caught flat footed down the road on it.

    4. fposte*

      I don’t think I’d go to HR. Not just because he left, but also because it sounds like he pretty much stopped when you told him to; the last-day comment I’d be willing to give a bit of a pass to because he’s going out the door and isn’t a part of any ongoing harassment, as you say.

      I don’t think it rises to the level of something that should affect his references or his chances for rehire, from what you’re saying. And that’s why I’d go to HR.

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        I’m not so sure it shouldn’t affect his chances for rehire. I don’t think it should nuke his eligibility, but it should be weighed carefully if he’s ever being considered. At the very least, that should be up to HR and the hypothetical hiring manager.

        1. fposte*

          I’d want to know more before I’d say that. I don’t think displaying interest in somebody at work is a dealbreaker. Displaying interest when you’ve been told it’s unwelcome and to knock it off–that’s a dealbreaker.

    5. L*

      Please say something. Get this on the record, even with just HR. Hopefully it was just a work crush, but for some people it escalates into full blown stalking. The more “proof” you have, the better.

      1. WLE*

        That’s my thinking as well. I don’t think OP should go to HR thinking they can do anything now, but just to have a record of the situation should his behavior continue or worsen =/

    6. Lily in NYC*

      I think you are asking if we think you should have gone to HR when this was going on, not now that he’s gone, right? If so, then I think you handled it well – you told him to his face first and gave him a chance to stop his behavior. I think he professed his love as a last ditch effort on his last day because he had nothing to lose. However, if he had kept up courting you after you told him to leave you alone then it would be time to go to HR.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I think you handled it well. You made your preferences clear. It was his last day. Nothing else seems to be happening, therefore, I’d let it go at this point.

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

      Since he’s no longer your co-worker, I would let it go UNLESS he continues to contact you after you have explicitly told him that you do not want contact with him. If he does continue to contact you, then you can give your manager/HR a heads up about the situation.

    9. CRA*

      You should report only if you told him that the behavior was unwelcome and then it happened again. It did in this case but he was leaving the company and it seems that he just wanted one last chance to say something to you. HR couldn’t do anything about it at this point, so I would just let it go. In the future, please speak up directly to the person, letting them know that you are uncomfortable and then progress to HR if the behavior does not change.

    10. Student*

      Three questions to ask yourself when you decide whether to report:
      What if he does this to me again? (rephrased: What are the possible implications for me)?
      What if you found out that he went on to do the same thing to another woman after you left?
      What if he did this to another woman before you?

      I’m not in your shoes, so I can’t make the call for you. When I report people for this, it’s either because I am afraid of it escalating to create problems for me of any kind (physical harm to me, harm to my professional reputation, harm to my relationship with my spouse, harm to my career), or because I’m afraid they will harm / have harmed others. If a guy hits on me and it’s unwanted, but I don’t fear the consequences of turning him down, I don’t report that. If a guy hits on me after being told to stop hitting on me, I’ll usually report it as it’s interfering with my ability to do my job by working with that guy. I probably wouldn’t bother reporting it if I could cut the guy off with no career consequences and I had no fear of being harmed by the guy, like with you leaving the company.

      If a guy tries to harm me, or harms me, or I fear he may harm me (he’s a boss, he’s acting erratically, he’s getting angry, etc.) I always report it. I don’t do it because I expect it will actually resolve the problem. I do it because, if there’s a record he did this to me, then it might make a difference for the next woman he targets. People I work with don’t tend to take a single woman’s testimony about these kinds of issues seriously. Usually, the woman has to leave after making this kind of report, no matter how bad the man’s behavior is. I’ve had it happen to me before. However, reasonable people will start to take it seriously when multiple, unrelated women make the same complaint about the same guy. And every once in a while, you luck out when you make a report and find out that a couple of women before you said the same thing, it got recorded and noticed, and now the boss is finally willing to throw out the guy who is clearly proven to be the bad actor. It’s sad that it still takes the testimony of like 3 women to equal the testimony of 1 man, but I remain optimistic that this will slowly change.

  5. Any Feds know the rules on this?*

    Oh I need this this week! Hoping that one of the many feds out there knows the answer to this:

    So I’ve been encouraged to apply to a fed govt contracting job. I’ve worked with the contracting company before and they’re…OK. But I’ve also worked with the COR in the past and know him personally. What are the rules on me reaching out to the COR and getting a feel on the position and if he thinks I’d be a good fit? Allowed? Or can he not talk to me about it?

    1. lulu*

      Not a fed, but former govt contracting company worker. Is this an existing contract that the company holds, or an RFP? With an RFP you want to be careful and not reach out. If there is a contract, you’re still “supposed” to go through the contracting firm, and as a firm we would frown upon consultants/applicants reaching out to the COR directly. But if you have a good relationship with the COR, you could give him a call; I’ve definitely seen it happen. Depends if the COR is the kind to stick by the rules, or doesn’t care about that kind of stuff.

      1. RR*

        also not a fed, but a current employee of a firm that contracts w/the Govt. As lulu notes, we aren’t always wild about consultants who go through the COR — depends on the relationship we have with the COR. But officially, COR is not supposed to be involved AT ALL in hiring process. If COR approval is required for consultant/contracted position, this can pose a conflict of interest. Also, as the one requesting approval, we often have to certify that the COR did not direct/influence our decision. That being said, if you have a good relationship with the COR, you may be in a position to get some general info about the position — just be careful not to seem like you are seeking their involvement in the actual hiring process

        1. Any Feds know the rules on this?*

          Thanks lulu and RR!

          To answer, yes, there is a contract that exists. Sounds like it’ll be better for me to err on the side of not reaching out and seeing how the process goes.

      2. Fedhopeful*

        Lulu- I’m currently looking for a contracting job after having no success with USAJOBs. I reached out to a contractor for a position. While they said that’s already further along in the process, they called to discuss another one with me. The recruiter indicated that I would be the the first candidate sent to the government agency for review. Is this good? Also, I’m still waiting for a description of the role. If I get a ”meet and greet’, what should I expect? Any advice?

        1. AnotherFed*

          Yes, that’s good, but not final. The meet and greet would probably be with the contractor, not the government, and can vary as much as any job interview. However, the hiring process will likely be short – once the government approves a candidate (assuming it’s for a specific need that has been passed to the contractor), they want the person to report as soon as possible and don’t like having to wait more than a couple of weeks.

    2. The IT Manager*

      If I am reading the situation right, you wish to apply for a job with a vendor supporting the government. You know the government’s COR.

      I think you can reach out and informally ask about the job/environment. The COR will have no influence or say in who the vendor hires; or at least he shouldn’t. Contract employees just show up as far as the government is concerned because the vendor’s do all the hiring. It’s not an example of knowing someone who can put in a good word for you; the COR should not do that. I think, however, this relationship can help you understand the job/culture to know if you want to take the job.

      1. Any Feds know the rules on this?*

        Yes, you’ve got it right. The good thing is since I know the COR, I already have a pretty good idea on how he’d run the office and manage me…I’m more interested in getting a feel for what they want out of the position, and sadly I think that might veer a little too close to taboo, job-specific stuff. Oh well. Thanks!

        1. AnotherFed*

          It’s worth checking on the COR’s position – the COR is not your manager, only a person empowered to do some contract-related tasks (and only that because of borrowed authority from the contracting officer), and the COR isn’t necessarily the government person you’d be dealing with on a daily basis – in lots of places, the COR is not the task lead, and the TPOC on the TI or a senior person in the office is the person who actually gives out your day-to-day tasking.

  6. Consultant Mouse*

    My team has faced a lot of turnover (three senior leaders have left), and now we are sorely understaffed and burned out. I am looking at opportunities outside of my organization, and am wondering if it is OK to give only two weeks notice. I’d prefer to give the minimum notice period because I am physically/emotionally/mentally spent, and the next three months are our busiest time of year. Also, everyone else that has left has given minimal notice and has not extended their notice period at the request of the employer. I’m feeling guilty though, for my colleagues at the organization. We are already understaffed, and if I leave with minimal notice, they won’t be able to backfill (they are still trying to fill the other three openings…). Thoughts?

    1. J.B.*

      Why wouldn’t it be ok to give two weeks notice? That’s the convention. Them being understaffed won’t change with a longer notice.

    2. J.B.*

      Also, it’s great that you care about your colleagues. You really need to focus on you and move on. The good ones will be happy for you.

    3. Sunshine Brite*

      I would say minimal notice is really all that can be expected and everything above that is more of a favor. Especially since it sounds like you may need to recharge before starting a new position. This is something for the company to address and I know it’s difficult for coworkers but it’s not something you can address directly.

    4. Lia (the other one)*

      I wouldn’t spend any energy feeling bad about it. Would THEY extend the same courtesy if they were doing layoffs?

      Have to put on your own mask before helping others with theirs. I stayed way too long at a previous job because I felt guilty about leaving people in the lurch if I left.

    5. msmanager*

      My office has faced a huge amount of turnover this year – I came here to post about it, actually!

      Yes, it’s hard on the remaining staff but no, you shouldn’t let that stop you from doing what is best for you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The remaining staff will also give two weeks notice which you won’t be there to see. Everyone does what they have to do.

    6. Bagworm*

      When I left my last job, I was feeling guilty, too, so I agreed to extend my notice period to six weeks. It was really exhausting. (And two and a half years later I’m still working for them as a consultant!)

      If you’re concerned about your co-workers, you can start now to make sure all your processes and procedures are well documented and get any projects you’re working on in good order. In the long run this will be more beneficial to them than a longer notice period and it’s something you can work on before you even give your notice.

      Good luck!

    7. Lizzy May*

      I agree with everyone else. A notice period isn’t so a new hire can be made, it exists so that work and projects can be wrapped up and transitioned to other employees. In most cases two weeks is enough and to me it should like its something you need.

    8. SwissTeapot*

      You should do what’s best for your health, sanity and career. A great piece of advice I received when I quit my first job and was feeling extremely guilty about leaving my overworked colleagues with more work: if/when your company does not need you or feels you are detrimental to its health, it will not hesitate to ask you to leave asap and sometimes the very same day. Company/employee relationships is primarily a meeting of mutual needs.

      You have done your courtesy bit by providing 2-weeks notice. It is not your job to fix the company’s manpower problems, particularly if it’s at the expense of your health.

    9. Noah*

      I hate saying this, but it is not your problem that the organization in understaffed. There is nothing wrong with giving two weeks notice and moving to a new position somewhere else. I understand why you feel guilty, and I probably would too, but in the end you have to look out for yourself first.

    10. Kyrielle*

      It is going to bite for your remaining coworkers, yes. It will bite whether you give more than two weeks’ notice or don’t, however – you can’t dig them out of that hole. It is not your job to fix that problem – not unless the new position you get is as a higher-up in the same company, overseeing that group from a level high enough to change whatever issue(s) are making hiring people into the empty positions harder!

      Absent a magic wand or a jump to such a job, this is not something you *can* fix. (It’s also not your problem, but I get that things that aren’t your problem but can be solved are sometimes worth solving. This one is out of your control, and two weeks vs. 3-4 weeks will not make much difference here.)

      I gave 2.5 weeks of notice at my last job – but that was because I had a modified schedule and I wanted to make sure they got 80+ hours, and I didn’t feel like working 40-hour weeks my last two weeks to achieve it. We weren’t in quite the situation you were, but I’d been there a long time, was very productive, and was the go-to person for a number of things. I spent pretty much _all_ my remaining time (and some leading up to it, quietly and without telling my boss) writing up things that people would need to know and handing off information.

      Anything you can do for them in that regard, provided your boss supports it once you do give notice or your time allows for it now (not from the sound of it!) would be awesome, but inasmuch as they have a feet-on-the-ground problem…solving the feet-on-the-ground problem cannot be done by longer notice and, honestly, the last thing you want to do is further burn yourself out before starting your next opportunity.

      tl;dr Take care of yourself, it’s okay to sympathize with your current coworkers’ plight, but it’s not only not your job to solve it, you can’t. (Unless you’re hiding a magic wand. If you’re hiding a magic wand, and it’s not strictly restricted to work purposes, I’d love to ask a small favor…. heh)

    1. Rat Racer*

      Whoa – this is horrifying! What is WRONG with people?! Why are they filled with so much hatred?

      1. Anonynous for obvious reasons*

        Unfortunately too much of our society has been taught to look for the bad, look for the differences, look for offense. We forget that we are all much more alike than we are different.

        1. Rat Racer*

          I should clarify that, while I found the article itself to be totally offensive, my real horror was the comments. I should know better than to read comments and stay away from the ugly, slimy underbelly of the internet.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t think I’ll read the comments. I’m trying to keep my blood pressure down, not make it go up. :P
      Overreactions only make it harder for everyone else, whether they are freaking out like the article writer says or interpreting every single polite gesture as predatory.

      1. Charby*

        I pretty much only read the comments on like two sites nowadays. It’s generally not worth it. I like thinking that most people I encounter are reasonable and decent, and I’d prefer not to expose myself to any counterevidence…

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        The comments made my blood boil so they’re not likely to do anything to help your blood pressure.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        It’s quite arrogant of the writer to think that men have to help woman and it implies women can’t help men.

        I’m also having a hard time imaging a work place where interacting with colleagues is optional and can be avoided.

      2. Artemesia*

        Exactly. I open doors for men carrying things. I assisted colleagues over the years when they needed help and they assisted me. For the most part it had nothing to do with gender.

    3. TV Researcher*

      Oh, I wish I hadn’t read the article and I really wish I hadn’t read any of the comments.

      1. TV Researcher*

        And I should never have checked out the author’s Twitter feed. He’s apparently a MRA Activist (though that would be a Men’s Rights Activist Activist), so maybe it should be phrased – he subscribes to the MRA view of life).

      2. Revanche*

        I was loading the article and decided to heed your comment and just stop. Thanks for the warning about the author being an MRA, I can’t cope with any of their nonsense.

    4. Vladimir*

      Well I will not read the comment, I have higher blood pressure as it is, but I can imagine, bet majority commes from men frusterated because they cannot control women anymore. But one really cannot expect better from Torygraph their attitute to women isnt better then Daily Fail

  7. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in a week or so ago when I asked about applying for seasonal work. I had two interviews this week at places I’d really enjoy working for (at least short term!) and should know if they want to bring me on board by Monday! Even if nothing ends up panning out I’m feeling accomplished (and it’s always nice to have interview practice).

  8. Toaster Strudel*

    I was unemployed for 12 weeks. Six weeks ago, I did a phone interview with company A. A month ago, I did an in-person interview with company B. Three weeks ago, I did an in-person interview with company A. Two days after that interview, company B offered me the job and I took it, because I was not allowed to turn down a job offer while drawing unemployment. I started two weeks ago. This morning, company A called to offer me the job there. I have the weekend to think it over. I would really prefer the company A job, but I feel awful at the idea of quitting after two weeks with company B. I’m at a loss at what to do. Company B is fine, but company A pays more and the benefits are better. How bad would it be to quit and take company A’s job?

    1. RG*

      You’d have to be prepared to burn bridges at Company B. Whether you want to do this or can afford to will depend on how small your industry is, mostly. I mean, if you’re a nurse choosing between two mega hospitals, then you might be fine, but it could be a problem if you’re a teacher choosing between the only two high schools, or something like that. Also, am I the only one that thinks it’s weird that you can’t turn down an offer? I just have a feeling that that could lead to some bad jobs for people.

      1. xarcady*

        It’s a pretty standard thing for unemployment benefits–designed to get people back to work and not drawing benefits.

        It can be tough, though, because you have to apply for a certain number of jobs each week, and there may not be that many jobs in your field to apply for. So you have to pick your applications carefully, in the hopes that you won’t be called in for an interview for a job you really don’t want, or is too far away, or something like that.

        In my state, at least, while you are not supposed to refuse work, you are allowed to turn down a job if it turns out not to be in your field (you can always claim the ad indicated a different sort of work), or more than 35 miles from your place of residence, or if the pay is not enough to cover basic bills–rent/mortgage, utilities, food, gas. (I don’t know how you’d prove these points, but technically you can turn down certain job offers.)

    2. Beck*

      This sounds like a tough one, because you didn’t have the opportunity to turn down B and wait for A’s response. I’m interested in seeing what people say as well but it does sound a lot like a question that was posted in the past week or so. Maybe check the past weeks archives for advice.

    3. LSP*

      Think in the long term. Would you every be happy with B? Would you regret not taking A?

      I would go for A. The bridge would probably be burned with B, but you need to do what’s best for you and if that’s A, then take it!

      This happened at my last company. A girl left after one week, same situation. Didn’t hurt that her A was paying $20k more. My company (B) understood and who would blame her. Good luck!

    4. Delyssia*

      I get why you feel bad at the idea of leaving a job after only two weeks, and I’d urge you to be really, really sure about the job at Company A (you mention the pay and benefits, but not the job or the people you’d be working with, the environment overall, and so on). All that said, it happens. You have to do what’s right for you. If you’re really sure that you’d prefer Company A, then all you can do is try to smooth your exit at Company B as much as possible (keeping in mind that even with a perfect exit strategy, you’re probably burning that bridge).

      If you’re ever in a similar situation in the future, when you get the offer from Company B, stall them for as long as you can and let Company A know that you have another offer but that you’d prefer to work for Company A. They may not be able to move any faster, but sometimes they can and will if you’re the frontrunner and they know you have another offer.

    5. Mike C.*

      Bridges will be burned, but I think as long as you’re straight forward, remind them that you were under a legal obligation to accept the job and so on, I think you can minimize the damage as much as possible.

      1. fposte*

        I’m torn on the “legal obligation to accept the job” thing–it seems like something that’s just going to further discourage the employer from hiring an applicant who’s currently unemployed, so I might do my unemployed brethren a solid and skip the emphasis on that part.

    6. AdAgencyChick*

      Ugh, that stinks.

      It is going to be a bridge burned, even though I suspect you’ll get more sympathy than you would if you hadn’t been unemployed beforehand. The reason is that you’re basically telling them, “I didn’t want to come here 100%, but I kind of had to.”

      Do what’s best for you, whether that is taking the job or leaving the bridge intact.

    7. Lily in NYC*

      Alison answered a similar question on 9/29 titled “Can I ask for a raise at my new job since I got a higher offer somewhere else?” I suggest reading the comments from that post because your dilemma is discussed quite a bit there.

    8. Not So Sunny*

      If A is what you really want, take it. I think AAM had a question/answer on this topic not long ago, see if her advice will help you.

      Good luck!

    9. Sunflower*

      Agree with what mostly everyone here said. I get what you’re saying- you didn’t really have a choice in the matter….but your current company doesn’t care. You’d need to weigh out your options here. This depends a lot on your industry and how big your job market is. Some industries talk a lot, others not at all. That being said, if you work somewhere for 2 weeks…well, it’s possible your boss could forget who you are the day you leave.

    10. Meh*

      Not that is helps you in this case, but it would have been best to ask for some time to think over you offer at company B, and then use that time contact company A and see if they could expedite the offer. That way you could have made an informed decision. Unemployment benefits or no, you are still able to ask for time to think the job offer over and weight your other options carefully before choosing.

  9. Whataweek*

    It’s been a loooooong and difficult week, and I think I’ve burned a bridge (/severely damaged a bridge) with a coworker for the first time ever. To try to make a long story short: I am taking the lead on designing a project in the teapot sector in Country A. Coworker is familiar with the teapot sector in Country A and was supposed to provide feedback and support, but it’s not her primary job to design projects, so I was still “the lead,” although she is senior to me.

    I circulated the initial design documents. Coworker asked for a more detailed document to explain the rationale behind the central design premise (chocolate teapots instead of vanilla teapots). I provided this to her. She said she was still unclear, so had another conversation with her to explain my rationale (a conversation during which it was obvious she had not read my initial document). After a few day with no real engagement from her we sat down and I spent 2.5 hours going through the entire document explaining all of my assumptions, thoughts, decisions throughout the design process. In literally every subsequent meeting, she has asked some variation of: “Why chocolate teapots?” “Has anyone even thought about why we’re doing chocolate teapots, not vanilla teapots?” “Did anyone even CONSIDER about why chocolate teapots?”

    To borrow a phrase from Zoolander, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Has she not been listening to me this whole time? Is it ME that’s not making sense? Do I speak at a vocal pitch that she can’t hear? (For the record, my direct supervisor is on my side and agrees that Coworker is being obstructionist.) Anyways, I finally broke down at YET ANOTHER “why chocolate teapots?” meeting yesterday and got visibly angry. I didn’t say anything rude and didn’t yell, but my clenched jaw, annoyed tone and abrupt exit from the post-meeting chit chat signalled it loud and clear. I sent a conciliatory email a few hours after the meeting acknowledging that the process has been challenging but “I think we’re really getting somewhere, thanks so much for all your time and input into this process.”

    In response to my greeting and friendly chit chat this morning with Coworker, I got: “Fine.” “Not really.” And no eye contact. Agghhhhh. I feel so hopeless and frustrated.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Have you asked her for her objections to chocolate teapots? Maybe she assumed you would have consulted with her more and that she would have more input. Sounds like you had everything done and then asked her opinion. If you really need her input, then maybe you have play her game. Go back and ask what she would have done from the beginning and then get her opinion on what you have done. Who knows, you may get some truly helpful information.

      1. whataweek*

        I think there is definitely some truth to her not feeling consulted enough, but I am not sure if it’s a legitimate concern on her part because: 1) I asked for her input before the design process even began (i.e. “in your opinion, should I be looking at any specific kinds of teapots when I go on my project design trip?”) and she offered no feedback ; 2) she hasn’t really made any substantive arguments against chocolate teapots or *for* another type of teapot, just repeatedly stated that we “should look into it more” while not addressing any of my stated reasons for choosing chocolate teapots; 3) she ends every criticism by saying “ohh, but I don’t really know anything about chocolate teapots”.

        However, because we’ve met with such resistance on this from her, I’m actually meeting with her in an hour to “start from scratch.” Hopefully it will have better results. Thanks for your comment, it helped me see things a bit more from her point of view (although I know that I still sound frustrated!).

    2. Ad Astra*

      It sounds like your coworker is being weird, at least based on the information you’re sharing here. It’s possible that something in your company’s culture or politics would explain this, and of course none of us will have the context to identify what that might be.

      What does your direct supervisor suggest? Is everyone else on board with chocolate teapots? I do think you should continue being as friendly and chatty as you usually would be with her.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      Honestly, your coworker is being an asshole. I’d treat her with professional courtesy, continue to try to collaborate with her, but don’t apologize again or bend over backwards for her.

      You might also say something like, “We’ve talked at length about why we’re not planning on chocolate teapots. Do you have specific concerns we should consider?”

      1. Anie*


        If anything, it’s on her to apologize for constantly going back to the same issue that’s been explained. Of course you got frustrated. Maybe her behavior now is well-deserved embarrassment.

      2. Book Person*


        I don’t blame you at all for being annoyed, especially since your coworker isn’t offering any constructive reason for why s/he is otherwise ignoring your detailed documentation. I really, really quite like Bend&Snap’s suggested script here. You need specificity, otherwise you need coworker to sign off on this so you can carry forward. Also “That’s addressed in [document]. Is there a specific aspect I can elaborate on for you?” and similar. Polite, but straight-forward.

    4. Eugenie*

      I feel you — I’ve got a meeting scheduled in two weeks to go over a project that I’ve already gone over with this particular VP multiple times.

      Me: Here is my team’s plan for our winter programming this year, it’s pretty similar to last year with a few small changes to make it logistically easier to implement.

      VP: But what are we doing for programming?

      Me: Here’s the plan all laid out, let me explain to you why we chose to stick with last year’s basic formula.

      VP: But what are we doing for programming?

      Me: Here’s the programming calendar.

      VP: But I don’t understand what we’re doing for programming. We need to sit down with VP X, VP Y, Director Z and all discuss this and come up with a plan.

      And now we’re about a month away from going live and she’s still holding meetings on how my team should do their jobs. Nothing like waiting til the last second when you had the ability to shape this topic months ago!

      1. WLE*

        I don’t let people get away with that. I politely say, “Did you have a chance to look over the email I sent (attached)? This outlines my team’s plan for the Winter programming this year. Do you have any questions/concerns?”

      2. meower*

        This sounds like my boss. He eats a lot of marijuana and is also passive agressive. I never know if he is wasted or just pretending not to understand things he doesn’t want to deal with.

    5. fposte*

      For the future, you’re always free to address those comments in the moment, too. “You’ve asked that a few times now, and it’s a valid/interesting question, but it really is peripheral to what we need to spend our time on right now, so let’s cross that question off the list for a while.”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Is this a loss for you? Some folks I work with are so supportive that something like this makes me drop everything and work it through with them. It’s not because of their question, it’s because of their role in my work life. There is something about them that is well worth my energy and my time.

      You don’t indicate how you really need her in your work. Maybe you don’t? Maybe it is just because this is the first person you “lost” in the process of working on a project? Eh, sometimes this stuff happens. She may come back around, or not. Or the two of you may discuss it later on and figure out what happened there.

      One thing I have to watch with myself is “am I answering the question that was asked?” Typically if people are asking about why chocolate teapots they are not going to hear a 2.5 hour recap of the whole project. The reason for that is they feel their question has not been answered and until that question gets answered the question will continue to gnaw on their brain. Distracted by their own question 2.5 hours of recap goes down the tubes. It’s the same as if you had said nothing at all. This is a very important thing to watch for, it happens often enough. People who feel their question has not been answered will not be able to hear what else is being said.

      So I would answer the question directly, first and foremost. “Here are the reasons for chocolate teapots: A, B and C.” Then I would ask if there are any concerns, sometimes I say, “Why do you ask, have I missed something?”.

      As fposte said, definitely point out to them that “Gee, that weighs heavy on your mind because you have asked me that before. Can you tell me why that bothers you?”

      Sometimes the only thing that quiets down this type of repetitive question is “Because Big Whig Boss said to use chocolate teapots. The decision has been made for us and we must move on.” (Only use if that is true, though.)

    7. Shannon*

      You can’t accept responsibility for other people’s actions or reactions. You can’t make crazy people sane.

    8. DatSci*

      Here’s a trick I use in situations like these that always works.

      My mother was a grade school teacher, whenever my brother and I acted as though we didn’t understand or have information she already told us (when we obviously did, and were being obnoxious or obtuse on purpose); she’d break it down into “elementry schooler” language…speaking very slooooooowly and using overly enunciated small words. We immediately got it together in order to not be treated that way.

      When I come across these types (like your coworker) at my office, I employ the same technique. They knock off the obstructionism straight away. Rather than taking the bait that you’re crazy when she says chocolate teapots haven’t been considered, you treat her like she obviously doesn’t have the capacity to understand the material.

      1. Meh*

        This is a bad idea, especially if it is a manager over you.

        In my experience people who pull this card already lack confidence and often use it against people they perceive as threatening. By making them look stupid in front of others you are guarantee that the work-bridge is burned.

        Analysts and Techies really can not afford that sort of spent political capital in the workplace. Since people generally call in analysts and IT experts when they don’t understand a problem, lauding the fact that they don’t understand over them won’t help.

    9. Biff*

      Is it possible that you are running into a massive cultural gulf? This happened to me about a year ago. The US team had a very cool idea on how to get our extremely complex ordering process onto a smart phone so that salesmen could do on the fly, no-laptop-needed quotes for customers. Very in line with standard US business practices. Our non-US team was really lukewarm about it and we were baffled.

      Well, it turned out that the kind of product we were selling would NEVER be sold that way in their country. The sales tactic we were supporting was considered gauche, at least for this kind of product. When I told them this was very much how US business was done, they had a reaction on par with “how barbaric” but once they understood the purpose of the project, they were much more on board.

  10. LSP*

    Hi everyone! I have a title question. Do you list your job title in your resume or your payroll title (assuming they are different)? Our business cards say job title, but my resume says both.

    More background if you are curious:

    I currently work as a Teapot Agent (job title is Agent, payroll title is Agent 3). There is an internal opening for another agent position that I thought would be listed as an Agent/Agent 4 (because that’s what the other 5 people in this position are listed as) but upon further inspection it is listed as job title Agent/payroll title Teapot Tech Support 3. It has a slightly different pay range (higher, yay), but when I think of tech support, I think of outsourcing/the Apple Genius Bar/”sir, have you restarted you computer?” (I don’t mean to offend any tech support people out there, but I am not too familiar with what y’all do and all I know are comedy sketches, soooorrrryyyyy.)

    **I** know that the position is another specialized Agent, but if I am offered/take this roll I feel like it will sound like a demotion, not the promotion it actually is.

    Thanks AAMers!

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I would list the one that sounds better on your resume. I’m not promoting making up job titles just to look good, but in your case, it sounds like both of these are actually your title, so I think you can just choose.

      1. Rat Racer*

        I’d second that. My company has job titles that don’t make any sense whatsoever (What the heck is a Senior Teapot Change Management Advisor? Not my title, but mine is equally meaningless). So, I have constructed my own. It still begins with Director, but describes what I’m a director of, rather than the vague categories designated by HR.

    2. WLE*

      Without knowing your industry, I think you could list it however you want (within reason). If you simply put Teapot Agent, your employer isn’t going to say “But s/he wasn’t a Teapot Agent! S/he was Teapot Tech Support 3.” I think it’s ok to generalize.

    3. NylaW*

      List both so that if anyone calls your company to verify employment they have both to give them. You don’t want it to sound like you’re lying if the HR person says no they were actually “Agent 3” when you said something else.

    4. themmases*

      Unless you’re using a really well-known system (like GS-whatever in government jobs), people outside your organization most likely don’t know what the number after your title means. And to me it makes the whole job sound lower… In my job searches I only see numbers after support-type postions like admin assistant, research assistant, tech support. I would personally only include the number if I got promoted or something and I was trying to emphasize the difference.

      Of your titles that are technically accurate, put the one that sounds the best and that your former manager wouldn’t argue with if called on your resume. When you just talk about your work, use whatever title you need to to make yourself understood. If your title is particularly confusing or inaccurate, put a more generic title in parentheses after it.

    5. Noah*

      Our payroll titles are really generic, mine is Director (Y8). The Y is supposedly equivalent to years of experience or something and is tied to your payrate. I always list my functional title on my resume which is Director of ________.

    6. periwinkle*

      My payroll title is a very generic X which I share with most of my direct co-workers. We also have functional titles with defined roles/responsibilities (although in my case the functional title isn’t accurate either). I had another job with a similar set up – we shared a payroll title but had wildly different sets of responsibilities.

      If I ever get around to updating my resume, the current job would be listed as “Caramel Handle Developer (payroll title: Teapot Development Specialist)”; on the job application, the position would be described as Teapot Development Specialist since that’s what the HR system calls me.

      To make things more fun, we’re about to re-org and I’m likely to be moved into a newly created function with a new functional title along the lines of Teapot Evaluation Research. But I’ll still be a Teapot Development Specialist in HR’s eyes.

    7. Student*

      Your resume is a marketing document. List a title that is (1) Honest, first and foremost (2) Makes sense to your intended audience.

      In your case, if you take the new job, you may find out why it’s called a Teapot Tech Support, and you could opt for Teapot Agent, Teapot Technician, Teapot Tech Support, Teapot Agent Tech Support, Teapot Support, Teapot Specialist, or anything that makes reasonable sense to someone in your field but outside of your current company and accurately reflects your contribution/seniority. The grade information is only useful internally, or if it’s part of a widely adopted standard across your industry.

  11. Gwen*

    Tips for dealing with long-term simmering burnout when you’re the only person who does your job and are about to embark on the biggest project of the year? Agh. (I’m trying to take time away when I can, but the refreshing is not happening.)

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Oh hey, you’re me! I don’t really have time to take off, and when I do, there’s usually something to be done around the house, and just vegging out in front of the tv isn’t really helping relieve stress.

      Weirdly, taking up crocheting has helped. It’s just the right balance of mindless and useful for me to feel really relaxed in the evening. So there’s that….lol

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        Crocheting is so meditative. That explains why my house is strewn with afghans.

        I have had that problem at work, too. However, I like starting new projects, so even if it is really big, I enjoy the change of going from an old project to a new challenge.

        Not having backup is a big problem, though. I had that problem for a couple years, and whenever I would bring it up, I got a spiel about how it would take so long to train someone to do what I do, and they wouldn’t be as good…blah…blah…blah. It was exhausting, though. I was working really long hours because I was the only one with the technical skills, and I was getting really irritable and run down. Then I pointed out to my boss that I have some dangerous hobbies (I sit here covered in bruises and with a sprained shoulder as I type) and that it was completely possible that I could injure myself badly enough that I wouldn’t be able to come into work for a long period of time. That opened his eyes, and he let me train other people to back me up.

          1. Windchime*

            Suggested song titles:

            “Let Me Get You a Cup of Tea”
            “There’s a Kitty on my Lap”
            “The Granny Squares of my Life”

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      The only thing I can suggest — and I am not an expert in this at all, it’s something I’ve been trying to figure out myself — is try to find something that you can do that makes you feel good and is completely unrelated to your job. Learn to box. Knitting. Take up yoga or make a promise to practice X times a week if you already do. Turn of your phone, completely unplug for that hour/half hour. Take baths. The idea is that rediscovering your passion for something can ignite your energy in general and give you something to love/look forward to outside of work.

    3. Melissa*

      Ten-minute meditation breaks. I know sometimes it feels hard to just sit quietly for 10 minutes when there’s so much to do, but I find that it actually pays off in improved productivity overall.

    4. InterviewFreeZone*

      I’m in this boat too! Oddly what helps me is reading. Any down time I have, like on the train in the morning, I read. Diverting my mind away from the stress seems to help me retain a hold on all the small details of the project.

    5. Not Myself*

      Find something that makes you happy, no matter how small, in the daily actions you take. Whether it’s getting a hot cup of tea from the kitchen, taking a pile of paper to the shredder, or giving status reports on how awesome the stuff you’ve accomplished is, having some small joy to look forward to can make the difference. This helps me survive my day to day grind in a job that’s high stress, understaffed, and very underappreciated.

      Long term – publish your accomplishments, particularly if you have measurably improved something. Make sure your management is aware of your stress levels, and ask for relief – this can be vacation, bonus, more people, temps, raise, whatever. If you don’t get what you need in the long term, assuming you’ve communicated your needs, don’t feel bad about leaving. Your management’s job is to support you in doing yours. If you are not supported properly, they are not doing their job and they can expect to see consequences.

    6. Aardvark*

      When I’ve been in situations like this, I’ve found that having one day a week (Wednesdays or something) to always leave on time/early and do minimal/no work when you get home helps a little.
      Also, I’ve noticed that a bunch of other people I know including myself (especially women type people) have a tendency to do things like go on diets or take up ambitious exercise regimes at high-stress work times. I think it’s a way of re-exerting control, but it often turns into a stress and shame spiral where you just wear yourself out faster. I try to be conscious of that and other stressors when I know my time is heavily impacted. So make sure you’re being kind to yourself!!!

  12. Anoning it Up*

    I want to apply to a job where I used to have an internship. They want references as part of the initial app packet. All my references would either (1) be at my current job and I don’t want to use them or (2) be from that internship. Do I just give them references that work in that (small) office? I don’t know how to approach this. I hate when people ask for references with the application.

    1. BabyAttorney*

      Yep, give them references from within their own office. If you don’t have ANY others, it might be hard (someone in your org you consider a friend? Former teacher? Someone from volunteer work our another internship or extra curriculars?) It’s hard if you only have one or two but references from within their own org are always great.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      I would argue that you can use references from that internship. They should understand that you may not want to list a current employer as a reference (although instead of using your supervisor, can you use a peer colleague at the current job? Or would that person not be discreet?). If you’ve graduated relatively recently (not sure whether that’s the case), do you have a supervisor from a campus job or a professor who knows your work ethic who would be willing to serve as a reference?

      1. Anoning it Up*

        Nope, didn’t really graduate recently. I’ve just been at the same job for a few years, so my options are (1) people at my current place (2) people from this internship (which was what I did directly before my current job) (3) professors, even though I’ve been out of school for a while.

        My other thought was to try to explain this in the cover letter? I just feel so weird giving Jim the contact info for Sue in literally the next office over.

        1. fposte*

          I wouldn’t waste cover letter space on it. You can mention your wonderful internship there, but I wouldn’t go on to talk about reference availability. And go ahead and give Jim info for Sue. That’s how you note who your references are. It’s better to be too formal than too casual with offices where you used to work.

        2. TootsNYC*

          DId no one from your current job ever leave to work somewhere else? Those a great references.

          Maybe they aren’t people who were your managers, but senior colleagues can be very valuable.

    3. themmases*

      I don’t understand, isn’t it a good thing that you have so many contacts in this office? Especially if they were people you would want to use as references regardless of where you are applying. Definitely no one expects you to list people from your current job as references, although if there is a discreet person above you or to whom you delivered work but who isn’t your actual manager, I think that’s nice to include.

      I would just use the references you have from the internship; it seems like it’s actually an advantage. Sure it’s kind of awkward to give them their own contact information since they don’t need it, but it’s not your fault and anyway it doesn’t look bad. In a way, the contact information is actually helpful to confirm that no, it’s not just a coincidence and one of your references really is Sally Smith the program director. Mention what you liked an accomplished at the internship in your cover letter and that you’re reapplying as an employee, they probably have former interns reapply all the time.

  13. Sunflower*

    A couple weeks into my new job and so far so good! Naturally some questions have come up.

    1. Most days I don’t have much to do. My manager is in a different office and there is a lot going on right now- we’re in our really busy time so she has her hands tied up quite a bit. Should I just keep quiet and assume the work will soon follow? What stuff should I do in the meantime to occupy myself?

    2. She seems nervous about getting me involved in things too soon. While obviously she has been here longer than me and knows more about how the company works, I feel like she is overly worried about overwhelming me. This month is really busy and there are tons of events (I’m an event planner BTW). She is stretching other people thin and putting them at multiple events because she is worried if she sends me, I’ll be overwhelmed. There is always a manager there running the event and I’m more like an assistant(running the reg. desk, directing people where to go- stuff I feel more than comfortable doing). Is there a way to let her know ‘hey don’t be scared to give me more challenging stuff to do!’

    1. Daisy Steiner*

      1. Not sure if I can offer any constructive advice, but I just want to empathise – those first few weeks (or sometimes months!) when you’re in a new job and don’t have enough to do are the worst! The thing I hate most is not even being 100% sure whether I should be doing something, or whether it’s fine that I’m twiddling my thumbs.

      At least in the case of my current job, it passed before long. But when you’re living it, it’s a lifetime!

      1. Steve G*

        +100. But I have to say…in my last 3 jobs, I went through this stress and though about leaving, but sooner or later, some time in those first few weeks/months, new problems and products and customers suddenly popped up, and became mine……because everyone else was too busy to notice the new stuff….. And the momentum started building once people see you handle those few situations well, and then you have more than you can handle…….

    2. Kasia*

      I started a new position and this happened to me too (the lack of work) and it seemed to happen to me at every position I’ve ever been in and I thought there was something wrong with me.

      I think it’s pretty normal for there to be little work for you to do in a new position. I’m sure there are jobs out there where you just jump in and get going right away but that’s never been my experience. Just remember that they were without someone in your position for some time and they may have gotten used to it. Or maybe people haven’t really learned what you can do (or that you’ve even started) so they haven’t reached out to you yet. At two months in I’m finally getting some work to fill my days but some times I’m still doing nothing. I would suggest reaching out to other people to see if they have anything (even simple things like filing or data entry. Literally anything that will keep you busy for a few minutes).

      As for your Boss i think they only thing you can do is talk to her. Let her know that you don’t seem to have much to do and you’re more than ready and willing to take on more. Maybe suggest that she give you just new thing a week if that makes her more comfortable. And make sure you assure her that if you do feel overwhelmed you’ll let her know. And assuming you have some experience, maybe remind her you’ve done XX before and you’re comfortable doing it!

      Hope that helps!

    3. I'm Not Phyllis*

      The first few weeks can be dull with a doubt. I would assume that the work will come, but in the meantime are there ways you can be proactive? Bring yourself up to date on company literature, set up meetings with the staff to find out more about their program areas, make yourself some contact lists, etc.? But also don’t be afraid task for work or to help out during a busy time!

    4. LAI*

      Yes, I would assume that the work will come. When I’m new at a job and don’t have much actual work to do, I spend as much time as I can learning things. I read everything I can find (websites, whatever internal documents I can get my hands on, etc.). Sometimes I make up projects for myself to practice (i.e. pretend that this project was assigned to me and see if I know everything I would have to do for it and how to do it). I document everything I’m learning so that it’s easy to refer back to and I won’t forget things. I’ll also sometimes ask if I can shadow other people for an hour to better understand what they do (this might not make sense in every field), or sit in on a meeting to learn more about something relevant.

      It can be tough to supervise new people because you have so many things you need to get done yourself, it’s hard to find time to come up with projects for your new people. I know that I would really appreciate someone who takes the initiative to come up with useful ways to occupy themselves (although you’d probably want to do at least a quick check-in with your boss first to make sure it’s ok for you to do all of these things).

  14. New Banker*

    Anyone here work in banking and been through a core conversion? My company is about to take the plunge and people seem kinda freaked out. I realize it’s a huge project that affects almost everyone, but I’ve been through big software and organizational changes at past jobs. I’m starting to wonder if I’m not sufficiently alarmed?

    1. Anonymosity*

      My company does this and we get banks through it all the time. That particular activity is not my area, so I can’t offer much advice, but the software company should be prepared for nearly all contingencies. Does your bank have a go-to support person set up there whom you can speak with? If you’re not in charge of handling this at your bank, maybe you could get a list of the most relevant questions together and present it to the person who is. A little reassurance can go a long way.

      Also, if the employees don’t have much experience with a conversion, I can see where it would freak them out. I freak out when I have to change Windows versions! But as far as I can tell from what I’ve seen, most banking software works pretty much the same way.

    2. Noah*

      Good luck, there’s a reason most airline’s are run on software that is 40+ years old, the thought of changing over is terrifying and the amount of transactions the systems handle is huge.

  15. Just trying to get through the day*

    Ideas on how to get through the workday productively while in the midst of a personal issue/crisis? Contacted the EAP, am going to counseling, etc., but am still having a hell of a time concentrating and not making mistakes. Help!!

    1. Nom d' Pixel*

      Have you let your boss know? You don’t have to give details, but around here if someone is having a personal crisis, they are usually cut some slack.

    2. Christy*

      Captain Awkward letter #450 is written for exactly this issue! Google it and read it. I have it bookmarked. Basically, keep your work stuff organized and keep on trying.

    3. Sunflower*

      What works for me is giving myself ‘anger/sad/anxiety time’. I set aside x amount of time(and it can be multiple times a day, just make sure it’s in increments small enough to not really affect your work) and that’s the time I can address my feelings. It’s really easy for little things to creep into your head when you have even 5 seconds of downtime or time you let your mind wander. When something like that comes up, I write it on a notepad and save it for that time. Sometimes just taking some deep breaths helps a lot too. And make sure you’re taking care of yourself outside of work. What also helps me is when I feel like I’m working towards something so maybe try writing out a list of things you want to talk about with the counselor. Good luck with whatever you’re dealing with.

    4. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      Going though the same thing- I put my dog down Wednesday and already have drawn the wrong tube on two patients. I noticed before they left and redrew them but I cant handle my brain today- I was fine yesterday.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Oh no, I’m so sorry. I put my cat down a couple years back, the silver lining was that I took the day I did it off, then the next day was the first day of a holiday weekend. I can’t imagine if I’d had to go right back to work, I was a wreck those first few days.

    5. WLE*

      Everyone is different, but it helps me to just put some ear buds in, turn on music that makes me happy, and get caught up in my work to distract myself.

    6. Terra*

      Checklists would be my go to. Either on paper or the computer make a list of everything that has to be done, preferably in order. You can make sections or different lists for different tasks and break it down as much or as little as you like. You can focus on doing each checklist task as you go and then marking it off. That should help with concentration and with limiting mistakes. You could also look into the pomodoro method or just using timers in general. Sometimes setting a timer for a short period of time and telling yourself “I will work on project A until this timer goes off and then I’ll take a break/work on project B/etc.” can help with concentration/focus issues.

      If possible you can also talk to a boss/supervisor and acknowledge the issue. They may either be able to prioritize your tasks if your output is going to be reduced so it’s not as big an issue or have other suggestions. If none of these are workable you can always look into taking time off if possible. Sometimes it’s better to take a short break rather than trying to push through it.

    7. Ad Astra*

      Not sure how you typically manage your work, but now would be a good time to set very specific goals about what you want to accomplish each day. Then go through and enumerate each step that goes into achieving that. No step is too tiny when you’re struggling.

      You also might try setting reminders for yourself on your Outlook calendar or your phone:
      10 a.m.: Don’t forget to reconfigure the chocolate melters!
      1:30 p.m.: Have you eaten?
      4:30 p.m.: Time to make tomorrow’s to-do list!

      Basically, I’m suggesting you micromanage yourself to minimize the amount of spacing out you can do in a day. I like some of the other suggestions people are making, too. And I hope you start feeling better soon.

    8. Bagworm*

      I agree about letting your manager know (without details). If she’s able (and a decent manager/person), she probably will give you some slack and can also help with things like prioritizing when you need it.

      It sounds weird but when I was going through a major breakup (and kept bursting into tears everywhere), I started reciting (in my head) the US presidents in order of service (but you could use any other kind of list…periodic table, Ani DiFranco songs, etc.). It helped take my mind off what was going on in my personal life and get my brain back into focus mode. Probably not for everyone but it did help me.

      1. Nashira*

        I have memorized the powers of two up to 2^16 from figuring them when I needed a distraction. Now I use ad hoc binary to hexadecimal conversion or just binary math. Useful in my programming home life and really difficult to do after a certain point, so very distracting from bad feelings.

    9. Just trying to get through the day*

      Thank you all so much, what great ideas, every one of them. Boss does know, and is a great guy, so no worries there. Things should settle down in the next few weeks (I hope), so I will try some of these ideas to make it through. Thanks again, you’re a great group of folks!!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Often times we tell ourselves the wrong thing and set ourselves up to fail. For example: Instead of telling yourself “I will not make a mistake”, which is unrealistic, tell yourself, “I will double check all my work and I will find my own mistakes.” The latter statement is reality based.

      My life is going along okay, but my work is a lot “I” dotting and “T” crossing. I still tell myself, “I will double check this screen before I close it. If I have made any mistakes I will find my own mistakes before I move on to the next thing.” I hope you chuckle, I am surprised by how many mistakes I find and I am surprised later when I reopen the screen and see how well I did. ha!

      Overall rule of thumb: Watch your self-talk. It if is rude to say to a friend is rude to say it to yourself. Replace your negative statements or your worry statements with positive, proactive statements. “I don’t know how I will stay awake at work all day, I did not sleep a wink last night” becomes “I will do the best I can today and I will speak gently to myself. I will ease myself through the day.”

      1. Just trying to get through the day*

        This will help, thanks. I do have a lot of detailed oriented work that should be double checked. And I do have a tendency to lose my train of thought recently.

  16. first time commenter*

    I could be getting a job offer next week (reference checking is happening right now), and I need help with revealing that I don’t actually go by my full name. I know Alison recommends applying to jobs using your preferred name, but it’s too late for that now. It seems like this company uses nicknames in email addresses because quite a few of the people I’ve been in touch with have what seem like shortened versions of their real names for their email address. If I accept an offer, should I mention to HR that I have a preferred nickname so they can set up my email address as what people will actually be calling me? Or wait until I actually start? What’s my best course of action here?

    1. Nom d' Pixel*

      At my company (which is very large so the policies might not apply to smaller places), people fill out forms on their first day that include what they prefer to be called. IT then bases the emails off that. However, I don’t see any harm in bringing it when when you accept the offer. I have interviewed people who said they prefer to be called by their middle names or a nickname. It is no big deal.

      Good luck, and I hope you get a great offer.

      1. Observer*

        That’s not that common, I think, even in larger places. If they wait till the first day to get that information, then people can’t start with functioning email and often even without a working phone or phone extension.

    2. Rita*

      Let them know now. They will likely getting things ready before you start (email, announcement to team, business cards if needed), so if they have to go back and change it would be extra work.

      HR might beat you to it and ask you though. After an offer is accepted we have an email we send to all new hires with information about their first day (identification to bring in, when to arrive, where to park, etc.) and one of the questions we ask is what they prefer to be called. But if they don’t ask that, I would just let them know.

      Good luck!

    3. Beck*

      Just tell HR when you accept the offer. A lot of companies want to have things ready for the day you start, so they’ll have your email address ready on day 1 and send out a welcome email to the company. When you accept just write – I go by my full legal name on applications and such but in my regular life I go by __. Please use this name for further communication, email addresses, etc. Thanks!

    4. Sunflower*

      Let them know once you accept your offer. I was given my email before I started so I think once you accept that will be the perfect time to bring it up so they have everything accurate on company files.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Oh, you mean like “Jenny” instead of “Jennifer”? I think you should mention it if you accept an offer. I came in on my first day to find they gave me an email address with a version of my first name that I don’t use, and I never asked them to change it. Now I’ve been here 10 years and I regret not saying something when I had the chance. I misread your question at first and thought you only went by one name like Cher or Madonna. Now that is a conversation with IT or HR that I’d love to witness!

    6. Observer*

      Tell them the second you accept the job. If you wait, then you create all sorts of stupid problems. Even if they are flexible and can fix it, why create extra work?

      Don’t turn this into a big “reveal”. Just a simple statement something along the lines of “As you know my legal name is First Time Commenter, but I generally go by Firsty. I would be preferable to have my email and our phone directory reflect that. Thanks!’

    7. Thinking out loud*

      Congratulations! I’d tell them when/if you accept the offer. (“I’d like to accept your offer. I’m really excited to be working at Chocolate Teapots, Inc. Just as one side note – I normally go by Connie rather than Constance, so I’d like to use that name for badging and e-mail addresses to be consistent if that’s all right with you.”

    8. LBK*

      I’d just say it matter-of-factly and nonchalantly – if you act like it’s not a big deal or an odd exception, people will tend to follow suit.

      I wish I could find a clip of Jennifer from Big Brother 5 telling the houseguests she goes by Nakomis since she does it perfectly. If she can get that house of wingnuts to call her by a completely different name without anyone batting an eyelash, I’m confident you can get your professional office to do the same for what I presume is just a typical nickname for your actual full name.

  17. Guy Incognito*

    I got some good news yesterday after a year in my current role I’ve just been offered a sideways move in to a Business Intelligence team which looks like an amazing opportunity, the team is only 3 months old and I’m really excited to join them now to start building the reporting tools the business needs, there’s going to be a lot for me to learn and I like to ask if anyone:

    Has any recommendations for online Business Objects training / tutorials?
    Has any recommendations for good BI blogs or communities in general?
    Has any expirance in working in BI and has any general advice?

    I’d really appreciate anything advice people have to offer.

    1. Dawn*

      Advice is going to be pretty dependent on which BI you’re working for as the company culture at the BI firms is all different.

      I worked in BI for three years and a lot of it is learn as you go, as each BI system is different and does things differently. Ask around once you start at your new job for resources, as your coworkers will probably have loads of pointed recommendations.

    2. Noah*

      My last company was a big user of SAP. My only real knowledge surrounds Crystal Reports, which I love. I always relied on the BI team to load them into the web platform. The SAP website actually has a great community of users that has helped me out many times.

      Current company uses a combo of Crystal Reports (for static reports) and Tableau (for dashboards and more dynamic info).

  18. Anon Guy*

    Not question but I thought some of your readers will appreciate this.

    I applied for a job with the City and County of San Francisco and, two weeks later, they sent me my “test point” number and these instructions to calculate my “score” while informing me that I was on the hire list for the next six months. These are the most arcane instructions I’ve ever seen and anyone who can figure them out DESERVES to be hired:

    “Convert your Test Points to the 1000 point scale using the following formula:

    700 + [(300/Range) x (Your Test Points – Minimum Passing Score)]
    Range of Scores = 1.11
    Minimum Passing Score = 2.76
    Now do the following to calculate your Total Points:
    First subtract 2.76 from your Test Points
    Then multiply that number by 270.270
    Then add 700 to that number:
    Then add Promotive Points or Veteran’s Preference Points, if applicable, to reach your Total Points.

    How do they even think this stuff up?!?!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is our government. This is how our taxpayer dollars get spent. [Head down in total despair.]

    2. Anonynous for obvious reasons*

      Why do they need to convert and why don’t they just do it and tell you what that number is? Government processes can be very interesting

      1. Noah*

        I was thinking the same thing, what’s up with the conversions instead of just giving you the final number?

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      *falls over laughing* Got the same email, a couple years back. Along with a veeeeerrrry long list of the published exam results. (16 names that scored 180/180, 25 who scored 179/180, etc.)

  19. sophiabrooks*

    I have heard from two different sources that either it is “illegal”/we are not allowed by our University/Medical Center to give any tests to applicants. So, we cannot give a test to screen for computer skills, we can only ask the applicants about it. Or, for people who have to do medicine calculation, we cannot give them a test, we have to hire them, and see how they do on their probationary period. This seems wrong to me, but I can’t identify where the message went wrong. We will be hiring a new admin soon, and we really need them to be able to do things like make an appointment in Outlook, use formatting correctly in word, run a mail merge, search their email and computer, search the web,m and do basic, basic sums in Excel. Although my little area hasn’t hired before, the admins at my school (except about 3 of us) cannot do these things and I really want to avoid this. It seems a test would help, but again, there is a “policy” (that I cannot find) that we cannot do that.

      1. sophiabrooks*

        One person was in charge of nursing recruitment, the other was our Associate Dean for Finance, who said SHE was told by the head of the IT department.

        1. Violetta*

          I’d try to get to the bottom of this with and see if the policy HR actually exists. Maybe it’s a myth! It certainly sounds ridiculous.

        2. OfficePrincess*

          So the IT department is making the rules? This definitely is something you should run by HR. “I’ve heard that there is a policy that X, but I’m not able to find it. Could you clarify?”

    1. Ad Astra*

      I admit this policy sounds strange, but you don’t absolutely need a test to determine whether your candidates have these skills. Asking about these skills should work, especially if you can turn it into a “How much did you [XYZ] in your old job?” or “Tell me about how you used [XYZ]” instead of a yes/no question. It’s harder to lie or exaggerate your abilities if you have to form a complete thought about it.

      Also, some of the skills you’re looking for are so basic that I’m a little worried. Has someone tried to teach the admins to make appointments in Outlook and search their email and computer? That’s about 3 minutes’ worth of training.

      1. Violetta*

        Yeah I’m a little confused at that part too. How does an admin who does not know such basic things do their job? I have to wonder if some kind of wilfull ignorance is at play in this organisation.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Outside of the mail merge and Excel stuff (which are also not that tricky), these skills are so basic that I wouldn’t even think to screen for them. Maybe that’s how sophiabrooks got burned in the first place, and now she’s trying to prevent that? I am always surprised at how many educated professionals are walking this earth without even basic computer skills.

          1. sophiabrooks*

            This is a typical story

            There is a shared drive where we are supposed to save the pdf forms that students are filling out for a scholarship. They fill out the pdf electronically and they are sent via email to the secretary, who saves them there so the committee can review.

            She does this by printing the pdf and scanning it, then sending the scanned document there. This meant that all the interactive fields did not work.

            She also can’t figure out how to get back to them, because she was attempting to open the pdf using word. SHe had no idea that she could navigate the shared drive and click on a document. SHe opened every document by opening word and searching for it. She kept telling my boss the “couldn’t see” the .pdfs.

            1. Noah*

              The ID badge application at a former company had to be done electronically in a PDF file. They even insisted you sign it electronically. It was always a PITA to walk remote employees through this process.

              I was royally peeved when I saw the badging office process an application one day. Turns out they printed the application and put it into a paper file.

      2. sophiabrooks*

        Part of the issue is that the people hiring are mostly nurses and professors who often don’t know what to look for and are barely computer literate themselves. Since my boss is computer savvy, we probably have a better chance! I have shown most of them the search, and how to use outlook to see people’s availability (since it was driving me crazy answering 1400 emails about my boss’s availability when they could just look on outlook). They often don’t retain, or prefer to do it their way (especially mail merges– they like to type all the names into the letters!).

      3. WLE*

        I agree. I think that for MOST of these things, you should be able to find out from interview questions. “Can you tell me about a time when you used the search feature in Outlook to find an important email?” “We need you to schedule a meeting with Bob, Jane, and Bill. Can you tell me how you would determine their availability and schedule the appointment?”

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I wonder if someone got confused about testing candidates by having them do real work from the role- that can get you into trouble. But a computer test? You almost have to do this. I can’t tell you how many people say they know Powerpoint/Outlook Calendar/ Excel and really have no clue.

      1. Windchime*

        Not to mention SQL. We have interviewed several people who self-rate themselves at an 8 or 9 (!!!) in SQL and then can’t write a simple query on the whiteboard, or can’t tell me the difference between DROP and TRUNCATE.

    3. Mimmy*

      I don’t know how hiring works in medical centers, but it would make sense that they’d want to test applicants’ skills on certain things; even Alison has said she favors this. To say this is “illegal / not allowed” seems wrong, especially for medicine calculations! I wouldn’t want someone they’re “trying out” calculating my medications!!

    4. CV*

      Can you, in the moment (or now), ask the person telling you that “Can you point me towards those policies?” That way you can read them yourself, or establish that no, those policies don’t actually exist, and you CAN do tests for job candidates?

      1. sophiabrooks*

        I will try the next time. The people telling me this are several levels above my boss, so it is a little awkward. They were complaining about it, so maybe they would welcome me fixing it.

    5. MaryMary*

      My understanding is that employment testing is legal (in the US) as long as it is a) directly related to the job, and b) given to all applicants for that position. It’s not usual for organizations to be overly conservative in this area, though. Especially public sector/non-profits.

      I agree with the folks who suggest using behavioral questions. Most of the admins I’ve worked with could do a mail merge in their sleep, they could definitely talk through the steps to do it.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s absolutely not illegal. It’s very normal to give job candidates tests and exercises to assess their skills, and in fact it’s a very bad idea to hire without doing it.

      This is another case of an employer coming up with an internal rule and then people assuming it’s the law, but it’s not.

      1. ConstructionSafety*

        We call it “Post offer, pre-employment screening”. It includes drug & alcohol testing & physical, and can include craft and operational testing.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s actually a different thing though — I’m talking about exercises you’d do as part of assessing candidates in order to decide who to hire.

    7. Student*

      Do what everyone else on Earth does:
      Ask the candidate if they know how to do X.
      If you have good reason to worry they are lying or don’t understand your question, ask a follow-up question to tease that out. Tell me about a challenging Word document you had to format. What do you do when you can’t figure out how to format something in Word according to a client’s specifications? How often did you have to book Outlook appointments at your last job, and have you used Outlook systems that are tied into conference room schedules?

      And, if you hire someone who doesn’t have every skill you need, you do some training. The things you mentioned are really easy to train someone on. Why haven’t you trained the other admins in the department? Maybe there’s politics there, I don’t know. New person won’t have the same political status as old computer-illiterate admins, so take advantage of that and make sure she’s trained on everything major you need her to do.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I … would never just ask a candidate if they know how to do X. People self-assess very differently and what was considered good performance in an area in one company might be considered subpar in another. If you want to hire well, you’ve got to see people in action — which means exercises, simulations, etc.

      2. LBK*

        How would that ever work? Who’s ever going to say “Nope, I’m actually terrible at using Excel. Don’t hire me!”

        1. MaryMary*

          Well, and “good at Excel” is pretty subjective. I can sort data, program in formulas and create pivot tables (if I concentrate really hard). Some places, that would make me an Excel genuis, and some places that would be barely passable.

          1. LBK*

            Exactly, that’s why a skills test is so much more effective than just asking questions. It’ll be really obvious if someone doesn’t actually know how to make a pivot table if you ask them to do it in front of you.

    8. k cat*

      I was told the same thing about hiring here. My theory is someone, somewhere, got interview testing confused with human testing for experiments, which has to go through an Institutional Review Board, and issued a blanket rule against tests. In our case, we ask for code samples, which is allowed, and ask pretty detailed questions about how they would handle various tricky coding situations. So far, it’s seemed to work out well. So for a mail merge, I’d probably have a question like “when you receive a data set that has errors such as X, how do you go about cleaning that up in order to perform a successful mail merge” or the like (It’s been a looooong time since I’ve done a mail merge, but ask a person who does them for a good question and what the answer should sound like). Or, for searching, “how would you go about looking for web pages on cats but not kittens on the web” and should expect an answer about using the advanced capabilities of their favorite search engine.

  20. AV*

    My boss forgot to do my 6 month review (which should have been done 4 months ago) and we’re going to do it in about an hour and I am HONESTLY scared shitless. I feel like I haven’t been performing to the best of my abilities lately and that I’ve been forgetting so many little things. I’m afraid that I’ll be FIRED!!!

    My coworkers have assured me that I won’t be fired (I’m in Canada and in a union, lol, so it might be a little difficult?), but I am petrified. I’m shaking and I’m flushed right now. He’s just such an intimidating personality.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      Good luck! This may be too late for this meeting, but have you tried “power posing”? It has really helped me calm down before big meetings with my boss.

      1. AV*

        Not too late yet, lol! I have about 20 minutes to go!

        Tell me more about power posing, I don’t think I’m familiar!

        1. videogame Princess*

          Stand up straight and raise your arms straight up. It increases testosterone and boots confidence.

        2. Isben Takes Tea*

          I think there was a TED talk about it, and I know Brene Brown mentioned it in her writing. The essential bit is that your physical posture actually changes the levels of different hormones in your body, so that staying in a “power” posture for 2 minutes literally changes how you feel: sitting with your hands behind your head and your feet up on a desk; standing with legs a shoulder-width apart, hands on hips, and chest out (think Superman); generally any position where your hips and shoulders are “open” and your eyes are looking straight out or upward. (When we’re nervous or anxious, our shoulders curl in, our hips are set back, and we keep our eyes toward the ground.)

          Congratulations, and good luck in the future!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          So you were worried about getting fired and you got a full-time gig instead? Too funny. Congrats! Now go enjoy your weekend!

  21. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    So, my notoriously awful boss is unsurprisingly also a notoriously awful driver. Aggressive, speeds, tailgates, flips people off, etc., and sees this as totally acceptable. We also have a company trailer we use for hauling stuff to trade shows that is plastered all over with our logo and phone number. My boss, being the owner, uses this truck mostly for personal stuff, taking things to and from his cottage and so on.

    A few weeks ago we received a phone call at the office saying he wanted to notify us that someone with our trailer was driving very erratically and dangerously and he wanted to speak with the owner or CEO, and that he had the offending driver on tape with his dash cam. We didn’t know what to do (can you say “that’s the owner right there!”) but offered to let him leave a voice mail for the owner and then urged him to contact the police if he felt it necessary. My boss never said anything about it, nor received any tickets, so we just sort of let it go.

    After this we are all dreadfully uncomfortable with driving with him anywhere, even more so than before. What do you even do in a situation where it’s the owner doing the dangerous behavior? I’ve restarted my job search in earnest and all of my coworkers are half out the door but….What else is there to do?

    1. Rita*

      Maybe you can contact your local police department and ask them? If anything it can put him on their radar, hopefully.

      I don’t understand how people with company cars/trucks with names on this can drive this way. I called 911 once because a pickup truck with a paint company name went flying up the breakdown lane. I thought he was going to get off at the next exit, but then he cut over three lanes of traffic, and was weaving in and out everywhere. This was in moderately heavy rush hour traffic, and it was the most dangerous driving I have ever seen – And I live in Massachusetts and we have lots of dangerous drivers here.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I would have told the person on the phone they were more than welcome to speak to the owner to make a complaint but that it was the boss that was driving like an asshat.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        But it sounds like the owner IS the boss. FDCA would be endangering his? her? job by speaking up.

        FDCA, what an awful situation. No advice, just commiseration.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I used boss and owner interchangeably I’m my comment which wasnt very clear.

          What I meant was FDCA should tell the person on the phone they could make a complaint if they wanted to. But they would be complaining to the person who was driving badly.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’d lie. “Boss, I have had a couple people comment to me about your driving. [Lie.] I am concerned here that you or someone else could get seriously hurt.” Then he gives me whatever statement he thinks will blow me off and I’d reply, “I will not be riding with you any more. I will make arrangements to meet you at the site.”

      If you can’t get him to control his driving, then the only thing to do is refuse to ride with him.

      I briefly worked with someone who was a terrible driver and laughed at other’s concerns about his driving. It detracted from his credibility as a leader. Eventually, I had to leave because there were other issues running along with the driving issue.

    4. ConstructionSafety*

      I took a call from an irate, but lucid, motorist about someone driving one of our company trucks. After the investigation our employee no longer had access to company vehicles.

  22. RG*

    Pretty simple question – I’m job searching, and focusing on software development, computer engineering, power engineering, and really anything that requires an electrical engineering degree. I’ve applied for about 15 jobs now, and submitted two cover letters. And I’ve been submitting cover letters even when they’re optional – most of the time, there isn’t even an option to upload one. Is this normal for these fields?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      From what I have gathered from the engineering/software/tech fields in general (including search committees I have sat on for those roles in higher education), the cover letter is often not required in those fields, or it’s more of a pro-forma document. I’ve seen “cover letters” for IT consist of “Attached/enclosed is my resume for XYZ position.” I suspect that in many technical fields, the emphasis is “what technical/computer skills do you have” and they look to the resume to list certifications, software languages, etc. as the most obvious/efficient way to screen for that. I’m sure there are tech/engineering/computer companies that care about a well-written cover letter, but they may be the exception.

      AAM folks in those fields–let me know if I’m over-generalizing from the examples/feedback I’ve gotten.

      1. Terra*

        It depends a little on how big the company is and the exact role. When applying for something that is not client facing, consists mostly of straight technical work, and at a large company who will likely get a lot of applicants then cover letters are often not required or even discouraged because they would add to the workload of going through candidate resumes. If you’re doing something like technical writing or something that involves more interfacing with the public/non-technical co-workers then a cover letter is important as a demonstration for how you communicate.

        1. Bagworm*

          That’s interesting. I would think finding out that a candidate is able to communicate effectively (via a cover letter) would be valuable regardless of the type of role.

          1. Terra*

            I agree generally but in tech there’s still this pervasive idea that the best/most brilliant tech people are also the most socially incompetent (and admittedly I’ve known people who went into the field because they didn’t want to talk to people). There’s been some push back against it but a lot of companies, especially large ones where it’s already heavily ingrained, still tend to go with the flow on this.

    2. Bagworm*

      I don’t know about the applicability of cover letters in this particular field but when I’ve applied through systems that don’t have an option to upload a cover letter, I often include it with my resume (if it allows you to upload a resume and there’s nothing indicating explicitly that they don’t want cover letters).

      1. Honeybee*

        That’s a good point. I did that at one company (I don’t remember which one) – I put my cover letter and resume together in one PDF document. I did it in Mac OS X’s Preview but I believe Adobe Reader also allows you to do this (and you can also do it in Microsoft Word and save it as a PDF).

    3. Honeybee*

      I’m in tech (but not an engineer or developer) and I found that to be pretty standard across technology companies. Most of them said cover letters were optional, and a few did not even allow me the option to upload one. The job I currently have had no way for me to send in a cover letter – no place to attach one, and no contact information to send one.

    4. AnotherFed*

      I’ve never seen a (federal) engineering posting require or even request a cover letter. When I was job hunting about 5 years ago, I never wrote one and only applied to companies that didn’t require one, and had no issues finding jobs to apply for or getting interviews.

    5. Quirk*

      In an area with a reasonable density of software companies, software developers with even a couple of years’ experience in something broadly relevant tend to be fought over. My girlfriend recently put up a CV with literally two years of experience in a mixture of common languages on a British job site, and got hit by a dozen recruiters in the first day – almost all looking to place her locally, and we’re not in London. I’ve got a lot more experience, and the feeding frenzy if I signal I’m on the market is correspondingly more intense.

      Cover letters are not a thing in software because software is a seller’s market. If your CV looks half-okay, you will get plenty of interviews; if it looks good you get to leaf through job specs and discard all the ones that don’t excite you. Requiring a cover letter is a great way to waft a job spec into the wastepaper basket.

      That said, it can be hard for a new graduate to break into software. The perception of graduates is that they are initially a drain on resources which suck up the time of expensive experienced engineers to train, and then once you’ve trained them they leave. In my local area this keeps the number of open roles for graduates lower than for slightly more experienced developers, which only serves to perpetuate the imbalance between supply and demand for the latter.

  23. MaryMary*

    I felt unreasonably defensive when a post this week featured a coworker named Mary. I had to stop myself from posting “No, Mary would never do something like that!” a couple of times. Do the Janes, Bobs, Lucindas, and Percivals of AAM feel like this? Do you have an irrational urge to defend your namesakes?

    And poor Wakeen! AAM pseudonym turned hurricane.

    1. Beck*

      I’m so confused because people keep on saying “wakeen,” but the hurricane’s name is “joaquin.” Am I missing something?

      1. Evan Þ*

        Is that a joke? If so, it’s a great one!

        (In one of the “Share your experience with X” threads, someone spent several months under the impression that “Wakeen” and “Joaquin” were two different coworkers of hers, and even tagged them both by different responsibilities and character traits… when actually, the name “Joaquin” is pronounced “Wakeen.”)

    2. Charityb*

      I remember reading through the archives and getting to the one about people who are pressured into charitable giving by their coworkers. After a while, “I don’t want to give to your stupid Charity” started to feel like a personal attack.

      1. Evan Þ*

        Ah, but how do you feel about all the requests urging people to “Give money to Charity”?

        1. Charityb*

          Honestly, I think those people are making a pretty reasonable and well thought-out request and I didn’t really understand the hostility I noticed targeted towards them.

    3. Marzipan*

      There’s another Marzipan in my workplace – we’re usually ‘Marzipan B’ and ‘Marzipan Y’, or sometimes ‘Proper Marzipan’ and ‘Other Marzipan’. She has the unfortunate habit of talking about herself when she’s made a mistake of any kind, so she’ll say something like ‘Oh, Marzipan, you stupid idiot, what have you done that for?’ and I’ll have to hastily explain to anyone within earshot that no, she isn’t insulting me!

  24. Anon for this*

    Been waiting for this one!

    Earlier this week my team had a team-building event after work. (Yeah, I know. Not my idea.) It was an activity with no food or drink (bleh, but it was actually fun, to my surprise).

    Beforehand, my counterpart (say, he’s Wakeen the Teapot Spout Manager to my Teapot Handle Manager) rounded our department up for a drink before the activity. Our mutual boss met us later at the activity, so the drinks were just me, Wakeen, and Wakeen’s and my direct reports.

    I assumed the drinks were part of the evening and would be company paid. As the check arrives, Wakeen announces, “Guys, we can’t expense this one” and suggests that we all split the bill. I was mildly annoyed, but got out money for my share. (Note: I have been at this company less than a month, so I didn’t know that it is normal for them to pay for the “team builder” but not for anything before or after.)

    One of my direct reports, however, was really upset about having to pay. First he tried to get Wakeen to agree that it was a company function. Then he glared right at me and said, “As an officer of the company” (note: I’m a middle manager) “what are you going to do about this?” I told him that I was sorry and that I hadn’t known either that this was not going to be company sponsored, but that I could not buy his drink. (To be fair, I think I would then have had to buy for my four other direct and indirect reports there too.)

    He ended up disappearing and not attending the activity at all.

    I’m not sure how to deal with this. On the one hand, I think he’s justified in being mad, although not at me personally. I’m not going to make the mistake of thinking that because the amount of money involved was less than $20, that it shouldn’t mean anything. On the other hand, I think leaving was over the top. (It wasn’t a stomp-out or anything — we just all looked around and realized he hadn’t followed us from the bar to the activity.)

    What do I do?

    1. Violetta*

      He’d be justified in being annoyed (spending $ 20 unexpectedly sucks if you’re on a tight budget), but I think it shows poor judgement on his part to get so upset and skip the event over it. I would bring it up with him one-to-one, maybe as “I was surprised to find you’d left the other day” and see what he says.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      I guess I’ve never worked anywhere where it was okay for the alcohol to be covered by the company outside of sponsored events and wouldn’t have thought that drinks weren’t optional at this seemingly happy hour pre-activity. If anything, I’d just be hoping that big boss would come and cover it but if it was just a couple managers and their reports I wouldn’t think anything of covering it myself.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        A long way of saying that his expectations aren’t in line at all with the norms I’ve experienced in various workplaces.

      2. Beck*

        To be fair, there are companies and industries where the company covers alcohol all the time. In his place, I would’ve also been annoyed to have to pay for something I expected to get for free, but his response was super immature.

      3. EmmaBlake*

        My boss has taken our department out a couple of times Once as a surprise celebration when I was getting married. I was very surprised. It was very very sweet. And again simply as team building. It was not company sponsored. Our boss told us from the beginning, “I’ll get the first round and appetizers, the rest is on you.” (Well, for my wedding celebration, I paid for nothing).

        I think it odd that it wasn’t explicitly stated that this would be a buy your own type deal, but I also don’t see where the depth of his anger comes in. Sorry. Not much advice. Just… I too find his reaction odd and out of place.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      Not paying for alcohol with company funds (unless it’s a fundraising/parent/alumni event) is so normal for higher education that I wouldn’t have assumed the company would pick up the tab. I get where he thought it was cheap not to, and I think he figured he could get YOU (“office of the company”) to pay for it. For the purposes of the trip to the bar, he was counting on you standing in for the company and paying for the drinks out of your pocket if the company wouldn’t (and maybe assuming you make way more $ than he does, that you should pay for it).

      Bottom line, he was somewhat rightfully annoyed that he had to pay for his own drinks, but he lost a lot of sympathy for me when he badgered you (a new middle manager) and especially when he bailed out of the event.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Were they on the clock?
      I don’t drink so that means I have some bias going on. I would be ticked if I was invited to something and then found I had to pay my own way. People should have been told before hand.

      If he was not supposed to leave then you may need to tell him that. But if the activity was optional, then I guess there is not much you can do. I think the whole thing was not set up very well and when things are not set up well, stuff like this happens. I’d chalk it up to a learning experience. The next time I would make sure my people knew they were buying their own drinks before we left to go to the activity.

    5. AnonUk*

      I work in an office there any sort of this type of event is rare (ie. anything ‘social’ with your office). Basically, the only function we have of this nature is a Christmas meal, where drinks (incl. alcoholic) are covered by the company. Personally, I actually feel kind of odd about it even though it’s the norm where I work and typically have ordered a soft drink like coke and then re-filled my own glass with tap-water the rest of the evening rather than ordering a second drink. That’s just my own weirdness…

      In this case, I think the upset employee in question should probably have asked if drinks were being covered before ordering if it was going to be a problem. I always figure it’s safe to assume things are NOT covered until you are explicitly told that they are. If he was told they’d be covered but then later asked to pay, that’s one thing. But since he wasn’t told that, and didn’t ask, then he really has no basis to be mad just because he made the assumption.

      (ps. I think it’s ok for the question-asker to have felt annoyed as you can’t help how you feel, only how you act. If they had acted badly like the upset employee did, then it wouldn’t be ok).

    6. Bonnie*

      I think you can talk to him about his behavior because you were in the same position he was and you behaved differently. You thought the invitation to pre-event drinks was company sponsored and so you were as blind sided as he was but you didn’t abandon the group and go home and you didn’t through a fit on the spot. If your employee hope to move up to a manager position he needs to start showing the same type of poise that you did in that situation.

      I will say two other things. You didn’t say if the team-building event was voluntary or mandatory but if it wasn’t voluntary that is a much bigger deal than deciding he didn’t want to go after he got mad. The second is that I would also have a conversation with Wakeen about how this usually works and why he didn’t indicate to people that this was a non-work gathering and everyone would be on their own when bill came. If Wakeen felt the need to announce when the bill came that he wasn’t paying for it, it seems like he was surprising his own direct reports as well as yours. I might even have the conversation with Wakeen before you have the one with your direct report.

    7. The Great Attractor*

      I realize that this is easy for me to say, but – I really do think that for these kinds of events, whatever management is involved should make it clear up-front whether or not they’re buying. Especially if there are folks who are new or low on the totem pole: it’s easy for *me* to shrug off a $10 coke. Maybe not so easy for the new person.

      BTW, management or not, as someone who is often ‘senior’ in age at these events, I’ll look around and if I see anyone is having trouble coming up with the cash, I’ll often discretely ask if they need a $20. It can be a nice way to bond, as well as a nice thing in general.

      Although: file under “kids these days:” when they were in high school, my wife and I volunteered to take our kids plus some classmates down to the coast for a science Olympiad thing. There were probably 8 adults and 25 kids, HS seniors and juniors. One night we went out to eat at some overpriced seafood dive. One of the kids couldn’t pay for his meal. So I bought it for him (~$20). He said he’d pay me back. He never did. $20, pfft – not a big deal, it’s charity. But when I was that age, I wouldn’t have slept well until I paid that money back. It was how I was raised.

    8. TootsNYC*

      I think you should approach Wakeen and say, “I understand why Jerry was blindsided by finding out he had to buy his own drinks. I too thought it would be part of the activity and expense-able. Next time, it’ important to alert people to this before they place an order–they may choose to spend their money differently, even if they aren’t splurging on the company’s dime.”

  25. Anie*

    OMG! Office Whistler! No! This needs to be stopped. I’m terrible with tone (though I’ll try VERY hard), but I’d love some help with phrasing.

    He’s 22 and this is his first job out of college. We’re a very small, quiet office. He whistles all day. I even hear him whistling in the bathroom!

    He’s been doing it for at least a couple weeks. I can’t blame anyone for not saying anything because clearly I haven’t either…. I hesitated initially because I know I have a loud voice and some people might compare us as both being unwanted noise-makers. But conversation is normal and for the most part can be blocked out. Whistling? I can’t block it out. Yes, we can wear headphones, but I don’t want to wear headphones ALL DAY.

    A friend mentioned it must be in person, even though it’s basically impossible to say anything without several other people hearing. I didn’t want to embarrass him, but in person is apparently gentler?

    I was thinking this: “Hey! How’s it going? blah blah. I don’t know if you realize, but you whistle all day. I find that to be very distracting and difficult to ignore. Is there any way you could keep the whistling out of the office? Thank you so much!”

    1. Nom d' Pixel*

      The office hummer needs to be stopped, too. Maybe we can lock them in a room together so they don’t annoy anyone else.

      1. Anie*

        Ha! I was actually thinking about something along the lines of humming. As in, yes, I talk a lot but that’s not the same thing as whistling. If I sung under my breath all day, that would also be bad office behavior.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        “The office hummer needs to be stopped, too.”

        Tell that to the Duck Club! Quack!

        Also, while you may find it annoying, I have noticed that people who whistle while they do their work are (generally speaking) better at their jobs. Just based on my experience, YMMV.

          1. NotherName*

            I agree! I hate the sound of most whistling, mainly because so few people are good at it. I know one person who is really, really good at whistling, and I could listen to him all day, as he can carry an actual tune and imitate birds, but that’s it. It’s definitely a skill, and not someone most people have; nor do I want to listen to those who are still developing said skill. (Much like playing the saxophone.)

            I don’t have many other suggestions other than sympathy, but I do think it’s something that you could ask nicely for the person not to do around you, as you find it distracting. (Otherwise, earphones?)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              My whistling, humming, and singing former coworker did have a very nice (and somewhat quiet) whistle and he did birds also. I got used to it and when he was out, I actually missed it! Plus, he would make up funny lyrics. I’m pretty sure he did it because he knew I would laugh. And I always did.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            Oh, I should have been more specific… people who are good whistlers. Yes, listening to off-key whistling/singing, humming, throat clearing, loud chewing, crunching on hard candies is going to quickly drive someone into BEC mode.

            Seriously, the best plumber I ever hired was a whistler. It was kind of cheery listening to him warble away. Another person I worked with was an excellent project manager and she was a whistler. It was almost like an insight into her mind, what she chose to whistle.

      3. Hellanon*

        A little OT, but I used to work for one of those trade schools with justifiably terrible reputations, and for a while there, we couldn’t do any effective discipline, even for cheating, sleeping, blowing off class completely. All we could do was let them fail out on their own*. So for exams, I’d put the cheaters next to the sleepers & let nature have its way… not an ideal solution, but it served the purpose…

        *Note: anyone who needed extra help got it. Some folks are highly resistant to change, though.

      4. NickD*

        We have an office singer. He’s in the lab next to the offices. I’ll point you his way when you’re locking people in closets.

        He also walks around going “Baaaaaauuuum Baaaauuuummm” Why? WHY?

    2. Christy*

      In person definitely! Everything else seems weirdly avoidant. In person, just be direct, “Hey, I don’t know if you even realize it, but you whistle all day, and I have a really hard time concentrating with that in the background. Can you make an effort to stop? I’d really appreciate it.”

      So, basically what you have, but slightly more direct. I think “Is there any way” is a little too gentle/passive.

      1. Anie*

        So true! I’m trying to change my language patterns to be less passive/unnecessarily apologetic. Someone mentioned once (maybe on this blog) that it’s essentially a trait in women to “apologize” of their presence in the workplace.

        1. Christy*

          Yes! I don’t say “sorry” anymore at work, unless I’m genuinely sorry about something. I’m much more direct, and it’s awesome. I think the office thinks I’m the office diva for asking everyone to stop using speakerphone as much, but you know what? They don’t use speakerphone as much! Totally worth it.

          1. Anie*

            Whhhaaaaat?! It worked for you? Excellent. Seriously perfect. And they certainly shouldn’t be on speaker phone all the darn time, especially if they’re not in their own office with a closed door.

            1. Christy*

              It’s better than it was! It’s not 100% but it’s definitely better. It’s amazing. They only do it for me, not as like a general courtesy, but they do it for me!

    3. Katie the Fed*

      As I get older/more experienced, I’m less inclined to worry about these kinds of conversations.

      This isn’t any harder than:

      “Hey, can you please stop whistling? Thanks”

      1. Anie*


        Mountain out of a molehill, eh? <3

        Everyone these days get so incredibly sensitive and it seems like minor things get blown up so easily. Better safe than sorry?

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I think we (reasonably) worry about offending others. But this isn’t a big deal. Now, if they were playing an Andean panflute all day and claiming it was part of their culture, that’s another issue. Also, I’d probably drink hemlock to end the agony.

        2. Hellanon*

          How Captain Awkward frames it is that you are putting the discomfort back where it belongs, with the person causing it. Somebody doing something annoying *should* be the one to have to modify their behavior or come up with a solid justification for forcing everyone else to modify theirs to endure it. Regardless of why they are whistling (clipping their nails, burning popcorn in the microwave, etc) a simple conversation can, I’ve found, head off months of silent fuming….

      2. Ad Astra*

        Yep, that’s the best way to go. Say it as privately as possible, but it’s not a huge deal if someone overhears you.

        My husband is a whistler, so I feel for you.

    4. Kasia*

      Honestly next time you hear it just say “hey can you stop whistling? It’s pretty annoying”. And then when he starts again just say “you’re whistling again, can you stop?”

      Not everything has to be a drawn-out polite conversation. Just say something

      1. Lillian McGee*

        I would say “distracting” in place of “annoying…” fact vs. opinion and all that….

    5. Mockingjay*

      One of the software guys likes to bounce a tennis ball when he is bored. Which seems to be frequently.

      Someday, I may grab a racquet and send him a nice “backhand.”

    6. Bye Academia*

      I am That Hummer and I swear I don’t even realize I’m doing it. If someone came up to me and said your script, I would definitely apologize and stop. And tell you to tell me to stop every time I subconsciously start again, haha. Seriously, don’t feel bad about asking that. It’s a very reasonable and polite request.

      1. Anie*

        Well that is good to know! I feel like he may not realizing he’s doing it (because really, who whistles in the restroom?), but it’s just a weird habit for him to suddenly gain. We’ve worked together for a year and all of a sudden it’s an all day, every day thing?

    7. FiveWheels*

      Ha, I’ll go with the opposite and say for me I don’t mind office whistling, humming or singing but talking totally shuts down my ability to do any work. I think it’s because most of my work is either producing or reviewing written documents and my brain can’t handle dealing with two sets of words at once.

      This thread has inspired me to try shutting down the next conversation at my desk with a firm bit polite “Guys, can you talk elsewhere? I need to concentrate on something” instead of silently fuming to myself!

  26. Ciela*

    What am I missing regarding answering the telephone?
    (I apologize for the length of this post, but I kept thinking of more pertinent details)

    I have been answering the telephone for one business or another for over 25 years, and recently have noticed an odd trend.
    I always answer the phone the same way, “Good afternoon, Teapots Inc. This is Lucinda, may I help you?” If the caller wishes to speak to someone who is not available, I will say something along the lines of, “He’s already gone for the day. May I take a message, or is there anything I can help you with?” Or the related response, “She’s with a customer right now. May I take a message, or is there anything I can help you with?”
    About 5 months ago I had 3 different customers accuse me of rudeness, and spend a minimum of 5 minutes berating me for having one of these exchanges with them.
    I am befuddled. Is there some new standard of phone etiquette of which I am unaware?

    My boss then informed me that I cannot allow customers to become upset with me, without offering any guidance on what I had done to upset them in the first place, other than to Google it. I see a few problems with this. I cannot “allow” customers to become upset? I can understand needing to be as polite and helpful as possible, but if the people are going to lose it for no reason that I can determine, I’m not sure what to do.

    For a while I stopped answering the phone until it got to 5 or 6 rings. We had 2 full-time secretaries, who were supposed to answering the phones anyway, so that worked for a bit. Then the more focused and detail oriented of our secretaries, Jane, quit. There were a variety of valid reasons, the most prominent one being that she was doing all of her duties, and about 80% of the duties that the other secretary, Bubble, was supposed to be handling.

    Jane’s been gone a few months now, and for some reason between noon and 4PM everyday Bubble does not answer the phone. We’re only allowed 30 minutes for lunch, and I can see that she is at her desk. So even if she were using her lunch break to browse social media, in no way should that take up 4 hours everyday.

    When the customers call and ask to speak with someone else, if that someone is not available, I’ve stopped asking if there is anything that I can help with, and am only offering to take messages. It should be noted that other than questions for Accounts Payable, I was able to answer over 95% of the questions any customer had.

    So far no one has gone off on me since I stopped offering to help customers on the phone, but it feels like a ticking time-bomb. I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching phone etiquette, general etiquette, how to deal with angry people, etc., to try and determine how to avoid upsetting customers in the future, but I have come up with nothing.

    1. DG*

      Is it your tone of voice? That’s the only thing I could think of that would have offended people based on what you’ve written here. Perhaps you sound aggravated at having to answer the phone and customers are picking up on that?

      Otherwise, please try not stress about it. Maybe it was just a fluke if you’ve had no other complaints!

    2. Anon Accountant*

      I think with some they are calling with the intent of reaming out anyone they can reach. If it wasn’t you then it’d be the person they were calling for. Especially if they were frustrated that they cannot reach their intended person they were calling.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Having been stuck in someone’s automatic system, I can understand the frustration of needing to talk to a real live human being and not being able to. That is frustrating. I can also understand that calling and the person you need to speak with is unavailable is also frustrating. But, I doubt these people are upset with *you* specifically, just the situation overall. And that is not your fault. You have zero control over who is going to take issue with something and be unhappy. As the saying goes, you cannot make everyone happy… you are not pizza.

    3. Sunshine Brite*

      Your boss is unrealistic. My clients regularly become upset with me, often due to general frustration. Some of them even apologize as they continue to vent. It’s normal that anything phone/client service related tends to put people on edge in general.

    4. Violetta*

      Are you sure it was three different customers? I see nothing wrong with your script so I’m surprised three separate people would somehow take offense. I don’t know how much stock I’d put into a claim of rudeness from someone who’s willing to spend 5 minutes berating a stranger over the phone.

    5. OfficePrincess*

      Your boss is a loon. Some people just go off with no real provocation. “Hi, what can I help you with” sent someone off on a tirade here yesterday. The only thing I see wrong here is Bubble not doing her job and your boss giving horrible feedback.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Was it because they ended the sentence in a preposition? ;)
        Seriously, going by what you’ve said, your boss is being ridiculous. Sure, it COULD be something about your tone or something, but it’s much more likely they’re disgruntled for reasons completely unrelated to you.

    6. Wisteria*

      Your words also sound fine to me, maybe it’s a tone issue? I find that it helps to a smile whilst talking on the phone, however fake the smile is, it manages to lift the tone with very little effort.

      Or more likely, it’s nothing that you’re doing wrong. My experience of answering phones is that customers can be crazy. I once had someone yell at me for 5 minutes because he thought I said something cost £80 when it actually cost 80p (pounds and pence do sound quite similar, but it was very obvious from the context, and he would not let me explain)

      1. Vorthys*

        I agree on the smile suggestion. Even a ridiculous fake smile makes me sound really friendly in comparison to my usual neutral tone. It probably helps that it makes me feel silly.

    7. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Some people just want someone to yell at and it wouldn’t matter how nicely you spoke to them. I personally don’t see anything wrong with your phone script.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t either, and I have years of phone experience. We had people at Exjob who would do this, and sometimes if their target wasn’t available, they would get unreasonably angry. I had to tell one caller, “Sir, if you do not stop yelling at me, I am going to hang up. I cannot help you when you are yelling.” He apologized immediately.

        If it’s three out of hundreds, then your boss is putting too much emphasis on this, IMO.

    8. Ad Astra*

      Phone etiquette has changed to some extent, especially when it comes to personal calls, but there’s nothing wrong with your script. Like others said, I would double check your tone — but since you’ve been answering phones for so long, I sort of doubt that’s the problem.

      Did the callers have any specific complaints about what you said or how you said it? I am trying to think of ways this script would come off as rude, but it’s not easy.

    9. Tomato Frog*

      One time I had two customers complain about me to my boss in one day. My boss, who knew I was never rude and understood customers, asked me if perhaps they had sensed some sort of weakness, but I said no. In fact I had felt unusually upbeat and cheerful that day, remarkably so. Later it came to me that they must have been offended by my cheerfulness. Maybe they felt I wasn’t taking their problems seriously, or was being condescending. My being young & female probably did not help. I wonder if you might have been experiencing something similar.

    10. Avery*

      It could just be the business you’re in–I think sometimes people just want to be angry at the messenger because they aren’t going to get what they want. It sounds like you made the right choice in not offering to help.

      I agree with the smiling on the phone and tone of voice. One technique I’ve used is to practice imitating an actress or radio personality with a warm friendly tone (the radio announcer “Delilah” of the Delilah Show comes to mind although I’m sure there are examples more suited to receptionist work).

      In college, I was a work-study for a defense testing facility. The area where they did the testing was actually quite far from the office I worked in, in an area with no cellular reception (back then). One day I was asked to answer phones while the receptionist was at lunch. A “gentleman” called, trying to reach his colleague. I explained that he was at the testing facility, explained the situation with the cell phones, and said his colleague would be unreachable until the afternoon. The man proceeded to berate me and demanded to speak with “someone competent” who could put him in touch with his colleague. (Who might that be? A good psychic? A competent pilot who could tow a banner behind his plane?)

      19-year-old me was like, “Uh…sorry. They’re all at lunch.” I thought I was going to get in trouble, so I confessed what had happened to the receptionist when she returned from lunch. “Oh, just hang up on people like that. You don’t need to listen to them,” she said. It was so totally not a big deal. She got calls like that all the time, and she was a great receptionist with a very pleasant phone personality.

    11. Wanna-Alp*

      Is it is possible it could be to do with pronouncing something in a way that accidentally makes it sound like something else?

      Maybe try some role play with a willing co-worker if they phone you from a different room, to try and get to the bottom of what it is that is going on? Sounds incredibly unusual if several people have said the same thing over nothing.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      In the most genuine voice I can muster, I would say something to the effect of, “Sir, I am not trying to be rude. Bob is actually not here right now and I am not sure how else I can convey that information to you. I am most willing to take a message or help you if it’s within my realm to help out with a particular question. But, sincerely, Sir, I mean no rudeness at all.”

      People who want to be talked down from the ceiling will let you talk them down. People who want to remain on the ceiling will not allow your words to impact them. Your boss’ attitude is more concerning than these people, I am afraid.

    13. The Great Attractor*

      A number of people have suggested that perhaps it’s your tone, or perhaps you mispronounced a word, I’d like to suggest that you did absolutely nothing wrong. It’s simple statistics: if you answer the phone enough times, you will eventually encounter someone who is irrational.

      I’d suggest that if your boss wanted to be realistic, that he count the number of times you answer the phone, and then the number of times you answer and it is some irrational person, and if it’s under 1%, he should be happy.

      Oh, finally: practice saying “Bunny! Please answer the phone!”

    14. Ciela*

      wow, so many comments! I was unexpectedly away from my computer for most of the day.
      I have in fact been employing the fake smile when answering the phone for over 2 decades now. I get about 1-2 comments a week about how cheerful I sound (and that is probably about 1% of the calls I answer)
      I am certain that those 3 irate people were not the same person, as they all did eventually leave their contact info.
      This calendar year, there have only been 2 other customers that have complained about me. One of those said I was helpful and polite, but not very chatty. She neglected to tell my boss in her written complaint, that she spent the majority of the call screaming obscenities at me about how an item she purchased from a competitor of ours was incorrect. I doubt that would get anyone in a chatty mood.
      The other complainer did not like that every request he made I answered with, “we can do that”, “I’ll e-mail you that revised proposal right away” or some other affirmative response. WTF? So I’ve answered the phone somewhere in excess of 3,000 times this year, and have had 5 upset people. (Oh, according to the revised employee handbook we will be ineligible for promotion if we receive a customer complaint in the 12 month period prior to our promotion)
      Supposedly, according to my boss, they never receive any complaints about any other employees. I find that impossible to believe. *I* get at least 1 complaint everyday about Bubble, but the customers never want to escalate their complaint to one of the bosses. For a while I did document these complaints, but they didn’t want to hear about it.
      I have asked Bubble to answer the phone, but she is always “busy”. I am not a secretary anymore! I’m in charge of personalizing / decorating the Teapots, and just answer the phone when it becomes apparent that no one else will.
      I had been hoping there was some alternate greeting I could use that would be less offensive, but I guess I am just stuck waiting for the next person to yell at me for no apparent reason.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        Yeah, no. Your boss is a jackass and Bubble is clearly untouchable. Time to look for a new gig. It sounds like there’s no way for you to win here. I’m so sorry!

  27. Sigh...*

    Is there any way to tell whether an employer has decided to go with an internal candidate?
    In my experience people who are hiring usually wait until they’ve finalised a hire (or at least come very close to it) before they reject the remaining candidates. But I just had an interview on Wednesday morning, and got the rejection on Thursday afternoon, which seems like really speedy turnaround (to get an answer from the candidate then conduct reference checks etc.)

    This sort of feels like they already had an internal candidate but had to adhere to the policy of opening the role to external candidates. (Something similar happened in my current workplace, I wasn’t personally involved but the hiring manager was pretty blatant about the fact the job ad only went up because it had to, and it was going to an internal candidate all along).

    I’ve asked for feedback, in case there was something in my response that triggered the quick rejection. I mean I do appreciate the not stringing me along for longer than necessary, but if it was the case it’s still frustrating.

    Anyone ever experienced anything similar?

    1. Sunflower*

      Once there was a snow storm and I was called to know my interview would need to be rescheduled. The next day they let me know the interview would not be rescheduled since they hired someone and I’m pretty sure it was internal. I was rejected from a job and a month or two later I checked on the company LinkedIn Page and found the person who got the job was internal. Doing some heavy LinkedIn Stalking would be the only way you could maybe find out.

      On another note, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It’s super annoying and I get so frustrated with it but it’s the way companies do things- and it’s actually a practice I don’t really disagree with regardless of how annoying it is. But regardless of whether the eventual hire was internal or external, extremely qualified people lose out all the time on jobs for many different reasons beyond their control. If they give you something other than generic feedback, focus on that. It sucks though I totally sympathize.

      1. fposte*

        Sorry, didn’t mean to post that on its own. Or the committee managed to meet the next day and the decision was like any other. Or they had an internal candidate but weren’t sure that she was the best candidate until after the interviews, etc. I think truly pro forma interviews aren’t nearly as common as they’re made out to be.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not everyone waits until they’ve finalized a hire before they reject other candidates — I don’t, actually. If I know someone is a no, I don’t see any reason to keep them hanging and will tell them pretty quickly. I don’t reject candidates who I might want to hire if my first choice doesn’t work out, but if I know someone isn’t right for the job and I’m not going to make them an offer regardless of what happens with other candidates, I’ll go ahead and reject them now.

      1. Sigh...*

        That’s all fine, which is where the feedback would be really helpful so I’ll know not to make the same mistake again. Maybe an answer I gave went against their company values or something without me realising, so a bit more homework as well.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It could also just be that you’re just not what they’re looking for in a way that’s hard to see from the outside, but not that you made a mistake or something they could easily give feedback on.

  28. AnonySad*

    Mainly just posting for commiseration.

    I went to an industry mixer last night. There was lots of wine and no food, and I kinda ended up telling a story about this weird thing my supervisor does. Now I’m paranoid it will get back to him :-(

    1. Anon Accountant*

      How obvious was it that was about your supervisor? Could it have been a story that could have been about a former coworker/old acquaintance or was it obvious it was about your supervisor?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If confronted can you use humor to work it through with your supervisor?
      Or can you lightly brush it off that you did not mean anything by it and it will not happen again?

    3. Bonnie*

      I have such a fear of this happening to me. I have a partner who is a little goofy and absent minded and we kid him about it a great deal. He is such a great sport and it doesn’t bother him. But I live in fear of the day I make a joke about him outside the company and then it won’t be funny anymore.

  29. Informational*

    About to go to my first ever informational interview, I’ve read some of the posts here about expected protocol etc. But I was wondering if it’s okay to be taking notes while they talked? Or would that be too distracting? And if it’s okay, does it matter whether I do it by pen/paper or on my laptop?

    1. Beck*

      Pen and paper would be ok for an interview but try not to writing constantly. You want this to be plenty of a conversation, you can always write some stuff down afterwards. Definitely no no no laptop.

    2. fposte*

      I’ll be interested to see what other people say, but I’d differ from Beck–in a regular interview a laptop is a faux pas, but for an informational interview I’d have no problem with somebody wanting to use the laptop to enter some of that information.

      1. KW10*

        I agree that taking notes on paper is fine – almost expected even – but using a laptop seems weird. Also- don’t forget to send a thank-you email afterwards! I just gave my first two informational interviews and neither person sent a thank-you. If they had I was going to send them some helpful links too :)

  30. SevenSixOne*

    Let’s talk about what it’s like not to have a college degree!

    Do you feel not having a degree holds you back?
    What kind of job do you have now? What kind of jobs have you had in the past?
    How old are you, and do you feel like your age is a factor in the type of jobs you can(‘t) get?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      5 years ago, I felt like it was really holding me back. People wanted their secretaries and receptionists to have 4 year degrees! I feel like some companies have recently opened up and are looking at experience more than a degree. I think it depends on the HR person’s personal opinions and if they have a computer gatekeeper.
      That said, I’m getting my degree now (I’m 35) because you never know what can happen. It is sure easier if you have a degree.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      I don’t have a degree (but about 3 years of college credits). I’m in my early-to-mid 30s.
      I don’t REALLY feel like a degree holds me back, as I make more than many of my friends with degrees. But I’ve worked almost exclusively for small companies so I think if/when I want to move to a bigger company, it may hold me back more! I’ve worked in procurement/sourcing/supply chain.

    3. Vorthys*

      I felt stuck in lower level administrative positions without a college degree, but I can’t judge the change well because I ended up going for a wildly unrelated professional degree (engineering).

      I’m often mistaken as much younger than I actually am because of my current career progression and the fact that my older history has fallen off my resume, so I don’t think being in my thirties factors in most of the time. (My semi-secret reserve of administrative skills, however, have pushed me increasingly towards project management positions.) Still, the fact that my current life priorities lean towards the soccer mom-ish has affected my networking opportunities. I can’t make excuses to get sent to far flung conferences unless I really need to be there and such.

    4. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      No degree, I think it does hold me back. I think that with my personality I need to be in the lab not around people. Ive been a phlebotomist since high school and im now in my late 20’s im stuck as there is nothing else in this area that pays as well…

    5. shaky bacon*

      Yes, I feel that it holds me back. I got to where I am through a combination of dumb luck and good connections, and I’m fortunate that my current employer is very open-minded when it comes to education/experience (degrees are not requirements in most jobs, just nice-to-haves) so I was able to get this job. However, I’ve been getting increasingly jaded with my job and field in general (HR), so I’m switching gears to a completely different field – taking classes/upgrading while saving up to become a full-time student in a couple of years’ time, get a diploma, and hopefully a brand new career. I’m 32 btw, never too late to go back. As they say, the time will pass anyway so might as well do something productive with it.

    6. A Minion*

      I believe that not having a degree definitely held me back. I’m 40 now and I just graduated with my BS in Accounting in August of 2014. I worked full time as a bookkeeper for a small nonprofit up until October of last year. During my last year in that role I applied for countless positions and had quite a few interviews, but nothing came of it until I actually graduated. Then, in October of last year I was offered the position I’m in now, which is Finance Director of a larger nonprofit in the same area. My new salary is 48% higher than in my previous position.
      So, yeah, I would say that it held me back and, honestly, I wish I’d gone to school much, much earlier in my life. The truth of the matter, though, is that I could have learned this job without the degree. It would have been harder – don’t get me wrong, but I definitely could have done it. My predecessor doesn’t have a degree and she did this job for 18 years and did it well, so it’s not like I have some magical knowledge that I couldn’t possibly have gotten any other place besides a classroom, but apparently when they talked about what they wanted in a candidate, they decided upon a degree as one of the criteria.
      I think employers often get too caught up in degrees. Aside from a few professions that obviously need extensive education, I would think most jobs could be done without the person having a degree with the proper training. But, really, what do I know?

  31. Anon Poster*

    So this week Jane, our rogue receptionist, was mad at another administrative assistant “Cathy” and wouldn’t ask her to cover the phones or front desk while she went to lunch. It was about 20 minutes before we realized no one was covering the front desk during her lunch so Cathy covered for her.

    Jane told the managing partner she had “no one to cover for her” and she transferred all incoming calls to him! Our managing partner actually answered the incoming switchboard calls from his desk for her.

    We are stunned. Jane actually transferred all incoming calls to the MANAGING PARTNER. Jane is still employed by the way.

      1. Anon Poster*

        Yeah. We think she’s had/is having an affair with someone and protects her job this way. I could fill the thread with posting about her major fireable deeds but will refrain. Several of us thought we’d faint when we realized she not only transferred calls to him but that he actually was answering the calls. Didn’t delegate someone else to cover the phones but ANSWERED THE MAIN LINE.

        1. Observer*

          Well, that part could be because he doesn’t know how to transfer it back and doesn’t want to admit it.

    1. Anie*

      That is so crazy. Honestly, sometimes if you do something really crazy but with a dead-certain attitude that it’s acceptable, people just kind of … go along. It can really throw a normally firm, knowledgeable person off.

    2. Sunday Night Confessions Here*


      I used to work for the finance director in my last job. I was mornings only but at christmas i agreed to do a full day to help with office cover. Mid afternoon the finance director came down to my office, logged into one of the other desks and kicked me out, insisting she would handle the calls for the last hour or so. And even then i was reluctand to leave her to it!

      Your story is officially crazy.

    3. Time to sleep*

      Are you in LA because I think I know Jane lol. In my previous job, the receptionist was so passive aggressive and jealous of everything. She treated all new hires like crap but had convinced all the partners that the office would fall apart without her.

      Plus she, in my opinion, was terrible at answering the phones but my old boss loved her so when she received complaints, it ended up being my fault. That crazy lady was 1 of the reasons why I left.

  32. Applesauced*

    I wrote a few weeks ago about interviewing at company I’m not sure I’d want to work for… well, this afternoon I’m interviewing there!
    I’m trying my best to go in open minded, but I really have no idea what I would do if I actually get an offer.
    While I don’t love my current job (Company A), I don’t hate it, the people are nice and I am learning a lot. But I’ve never worked somewhere like Company B – they’re HUGE and everyone I know there loves it. Company B’s work aren’t the projects I’m most interested in, but neither is what I’m doing at A…
    Anyway, thanks to all who weighed in last time, and wish me luck this afternoon!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Have an idea of what it would take to make you want to move, this could be a raise, different work, better hours or anything. Make a list of things that would be of some value to you, if offered.

      Good luck!

    2. frequentflyer*

      I find that if you go for an interview where you’re not crazy about the company (like, even if they made you an offer, there’s a 50% chance you might reject it)…. it shows. So if you really need a job, any job, you need to psyche yourself into the “omg I really want to join your company” mode before the interview. Good luck!

  33. Wisteria*

    I have a new job starting soon, and they have asked me to bring in my resume on my first day for their records. I applied via an application form so I never had to tailor my resume for this position. Will it be okay to just give them my unedited generic resume, or do I still need to tailor it?

    1. DG*

      Tailor it. Some orgs use your resume to judge things like performance reviews/gaining experience or training and that sort of thing.

      Better safe than sorry!

    2. MMM*

      I would edit it. It is part of your record. I have referred back to resumes before in looking for current employees who might be able to fill a particular role or to see if an employee had anything in their background that might suggest additional abilities.

    3. Wisteria*

      Thank you – that’s good to know! As much as I wanted to avoid resume writing after finally managing to get a job, it sounds like it’s definitely worth putting in that little bit of effort.

  34. Brett*

    Does anyone know much about Taleo status messages?

    A position I was being recruited for at one point has had the Job Status “Inactive (No Longer Accepting Job Submissions)” and Submission Status “Resume Accepted” since late August. It was set to this status as soon as the positing closed.
    I figured that probably means they filled or otherwise closed the position, but was not really sure.
    I have not heard from the recruiter since I put in my resume in August, and I am wondering if I should even bother to check in with them.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I wouldn’t put any stock in those status messages. I end up getting so many applicants that I don’t always update the status unless I am outright rejecting the person. If the position is listed as closed, I wouldn’t bother checking in. For example, our jobs can be open on taleo for months. It takes us a long time to hire and we also don’t close the position until the person starts (and we often have people who don’t start for a month or two because of a bonus cycle or travel). I usually keep screening resumes throughout our interview process. So there are lots of people I’ll mark as eligible candidates who never even get their resumes seen by anyone else because we hired someone already. And, depressingly, we go through all of that and then 75% of the time end up hiring someone that someone who was referred by a current employee.

  35. Holly*

    Is there a polite way to ask your boss if you can leave early today because it’s the day before the anniversary of your Dad dying, you really want to go home and make cookies, and really, there’s nothing going on at work anyway? I think it’s pretty impossible since this is the boss that made me come in when my car was totally dead, but a girl could dream. Blargh.

    1. Ad Astra*

      Your best bet might be to come down with some kind of “illness” during the day, preferably digestive in nature.

    2. Nom d' Pixel*

      How sympathetic is your boss? I might leave out the details about cookies, but you could just ask to leave a little early because you have something personal to take care of.

      1. Holly*

        Yeah, I wasn’t going to mention something like that, haha. I was just rambling how I’m feeling this morning.

        He can be sympathetic, but he can also be a bit hard line… thus the “yes your car is completely dead, but we need this one thing immediately, so find a way” situation that completely imprinted itself on my head as a sign of how he’d respond to me ever taking time off ever (as unfair as that is.)

        1. Beck*

          Yea I don’t think that’s fair for you to assume he would be averse to you taking time off (to grieve OR for vacation) just because of that one situation. If you car is dead and something needs to get done you just find a cab or borrow or rent a car. There’s nothing unusual about that. It’s a whole different ball game from scheduled time off.

        2. RR*

          If there’s nothing much going on, can you say something about being both a little bit under the weather and also caught up with your work, so you’d like to head out? I know I’d be totally fine with one of my employees making such a request.

        3. NotherName*

          He might be sympathetic if nothing is going on at work. I think you could mention the anniversary (I’m sorry for your loss, by the way) and say that you wanted to leave early to do something to commemorate your father. Visiting graves or going to a religious service are so common for this sort of thing that he might not blink an eye over it. But it depends upon if he seems sympathetic to loss in general.

    3. Holly*

      Update: he just came by my desk to say hello and asked me how I am and I just said “eh.” with a frown and a shrug. So at least he knows today isn’t all sunshine and rainbows?

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        It’s valid that you’re not feeling well. Because you aren’t…it’s just not physical. Are you feeling like you’re “fighting something off”…maybe if you get some extra rest it won’t turn into a full blown thing?

    4. Sandra Dee*

      I have tried to work on the anniversary of my mom’s passing, and I am just not worth being around and not very productive, so I now schedule that day as a PTO day every year. It’s peace of mind knowing I can handle it how I want that year, and not have to carry that emotional baggage to the office. I haven’t had that day hit on a weekend yet, but I am sure I would either take the Friday before or the Monday after.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Aw Holly, I can relate to how your feeling and I’m sorry about your dad. Give yourself permission to fib, tell your boss you feel a migraine coming on and that you need to leave before it hits, and go home and take care of yourself.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        “you’re, not your”. My god, I think that’s the first time I’ve made that dreaded typo.

          1. Moksha Maginifique*

            Or if you’re my old coworker, you think it’s A-OK to use “their” for their, there, AND they’re, even after it’s been pointed out to you multiple times. You apparently get a free pass as long as you roll your eyes and tell the person who has been tasked with coaching you on improving the quality of your ticket documentation that THEY’RE a grammar Nazi.

            Man, I love this place. ;/

    6. Thinking out loud*

      I’m so sorry. I’d be honest without details – “I’m caught up on work, and I need to take care of some personal things this afternoon, so I’m planning to leave at about 2 pm.” I also wouldn’t ask if it’s okay – don’t give him the opportunity to say no, and if he bothers you about it, say, “My personal stuff has to be done today, but I can come in a little earlier than usual or stay a little later on Monday if I need to.”

    7. Bonnie*

      One year on the anniversary of my Dad’s death one of my managers came by my office and found me crying. She sent me home once she knew shy I was crying. I supposed you could try that.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If you think something of your boss, you may want to loop him in on what is going on.
      However, if you just want the time to yourself then it is time for a severe headache or stomach ache. Seriously. Sometimes we just have to take the time out and it’s not really up for discussion. If this is where you are at, make your excuse bullet proof and get yourself out of there for the day. As long as you are not doing this often, I see no need to load the boss up with details. “I don’t feel well and I must go home”, should be enough said right there.

    9. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I wouldn’t assume the car thing would predict his response here. I’m pretty form about people finding a way to get transportation to work, but would be 100% sympathetic here.

  36. Wanda*

    I wish there was a way to politely get people to take the stairs instead of the elevator. My building has 8 floors in total, and I must always park on the bottom parking garage floor. My office is the 4th floor (not counting parking garage) and I must walk up 7 flights to reach it by stairs. Meanwhile, everyday during the busiest elevator hours, people always hop on, chatting away, only to hop off on one floor up or down from where they got on.

    I realize some of them might have unseen conditions (or age, illness, etc). I also concede that when you’re carrying something awkward or heavy or wearing uncomfortable shoes, the stairs are not ideal. I recognize that, but stopping on every floor all the way up to mine just because 5 different people couldn’t take the stairs for whatever reason is annoying and inconsiderate to me and fellow riders, assuming they are healthy enough to use the stairs.

    Also granted, the stairs are shoved off to the sides of the building and definitely look like dirty emergency exits.

    I’m just ranting here. If I, an obese out of shape woman, can huff my way up seven flights on a frequent basis, why can’t people take the stairs for just one or two floors? Especially when they are going down!

    I take the stairs almost exclusively now, both for my own health and out or pure frustration with the elevator “commute.”

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Because it’s really fucking hard for me to walk right now and I’m still having a lot of foot, knee and hip problems.

      So I DO take the elevator up/down one flight of steps at a time, and I see the looks people like you give me. Would you like my to wear a t-shirt that says “I have an invisible disability!” so you know not to judge me? Or you could just accept that people are the best judges of their own capabilities.

      1. the_scientist*

        I want to stand up and give this comment a million slow claps and also add an anecdote of my own. I am by all standards a fit, healthy young person. I do several hours of high-impact exercise a week and have no chronic health conditions. HOWEVER, for the last 5 months, I have been taking a medication that causes, among other side effects, chronic joint pain. I’ve basically had shin splints every single day for the last 4 months and going down the stairs is actually worse than going up, because the pain extends into my knees and ankles. So yeah, sometimes I take the elevator up or down one floor, and if anyone has an issue with that they can kiss my ass.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Yup, I have a couple of chronic health conditions that result in joint pain and extreme fatigue at times, and have similar pain and unsteadiness going down stairs. I also developed a lovely case of anemia early this year, and while my high potency iron supplements are finally starting to help some, there are still some days where I have trouble catching my breath after something as simple as climbing a couple of flights of stairs. So yeah, sometimes I sign up for the elevator for one floor.

          I’ll also add that placement and signage of the stairs makes a huge difference here. I used to travel to the same vacation spot and stay at the same place every year as a kid, and it took my family a good 5-6 years to realize we could use the stairs for those one level up or down trips (they only had ice machines on every other floor, sigh!) The signage for the stairs made it look like they were only to be used in an emergency and that the alarms throughout the facility would go off if the doors were opened, so we always thought we couldn’t use them for regular trips. I think we only figured it out because we saw some other people coming out of the stairwell, but I can’t remember what the “aha” moment was…In any event, in that case we would have preferred to use the stairs, but thought that wasn’t an option without setting off all of the fire alarms and/or getting locked in the stairwell because of the signs in the building.

    2. Christy*

      Yeah, I think taking the stairs and feeling self-righteous about it is your only real option here.

      (Sorry if that’s too snarky, but honestly taking the elevator is part of office culture in a lot of places, I think, and you don’t make the stairs in your office sound appealing. No wonder people take the elevator if the stairs are gross.)

      1. Ezri*

        Yup – get a fitbit, track your steps / floors, prosper. XD I love having excuses to bump my numbers up.

    3. jhhj*

      In my experience, a lot of people who have trouble on stairs (foot/knee/leg/hip problems), find going down the stairs much harder than going up. So it’s not just a “well, why not take the stairs down?” issue.

      And, honestly, that’s what elevators are for. I mean, it’s annoying for you, but “the elevator makes a lot of stops during the busy hours” is what elevators do.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yes! Down is a lot harder than going up! I have to cling to the railing for dear life and then I walk like an idiot.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Down with the bad foot, up with the good foot, right? My MIL was a nurse and she always said that. I can’t say how many times I have used it.

          1. jhhj*

            Bad foot/leg goes to hell, good one goes to heaven. Which is fine but it means you need to walk differently up vs down and it is easy to forget.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yep, it’s verrrry easy to forget that is why the little saying. Before you take that first step you can remind yourself up with the good, down with the bad.

        2. Wanda*

          Id just like to point out that I did mention people being sick, infirmed, having uncomfortable shoes, or carrying awkward or heavy things having a legit reason to take the elevator. But if you want me to feel like a bad person for not knowing your exact situation and acting as though I was personally out to get you, go right ahead. I can be rude and condescending too :)

          1. Not So Sunny*

            But those aren’t the only valid reasons for taking the elevator. THere’s nothing that says I can’t take it for a single floor in either direction. It’s there to convenience me and millions of others.

          2. jhhj*

            I think it’s one of those things where focussing on how annoying the people are who are taking the elevator one floor is probably just going to ramp up your irritation, so imagining people have good reasons to use the elevator for the exact purpose it was designed for is going to make you happier.

            Think of it this way, at least it isn’t those elevators I remember from my childhood here and there, with the operator who stopped at every single floor no matter what.

          3. Katie the Fed*

            The thing is though – you have no way to know who is in the “lazy” category versus the “injured/disabled” category. This is like people who decide all fat people are lazy with big caveat that they’re ok if they have a medical condition. YOU have no way to know which is which so it might be better to just knock off the judgement altogether, ya know? Because it’s really, really, hard to have mobility problems. I’m getting better but there are days I want to burst into tears because it’s still so hard to do basic things like go down a flight of stairs. A little more compassion and a lot less judgement would go a long way.

          4. Requisite*

            “I can be rude and condescending too” – yeah, that was more than clear from your post, thanks.

    4. Applesauced*

      I would love this! I work on floor 12 of 12, and get really annoyed when people take the elevator to 2 or 3. But I also feel like a terrible person for being annoyed because I don’t know their life/situation….

    5. Gwen*

      Yeah, I can understand why that would be annoying but…that’s the point of an elevator? People who find it irritating and are able to can choose to take the stairs (like you have). I don’t really think you can expect people not to take advantage of a mode of transportation provided to them.

    6. Anie*

      Oh jeeze, lol. I’m in my late 20s and reasonably fit, and I collapse and die if I took the stairs everyday. And I’m only on the 5th floor!

      Kudos to you for taking the stairs but I don’t think there’s much that could be said to others. Some people just aren’t going to, even if you brought it up. And you seem to have a solution, right? You take the stairs instead of crowding on the elevator.

      1. Ezri*

        I’m 23 and healthy, but I’m on the way to having knee problems. I live in a townhouse, and if I do too many stairs at work I’ll wear out the left knee and be in pain trying to get up to my bedroom that night. I think my Dad’s side of the family just had bum joints. :P Sounds lame, but it’s the truth. Walking and running is no problem, it’s just that up motion that goes with stairs that pisses it off. I’d probably take the elevator rather than walk up a flight of stairs every time I go to my office.

    7. Ihmmy*

      “assuming they are healthy enough to use the stairs.”
      but this is a HUGE assumption to make that you can in no way judge off of what someone looks like. Maybe they have a knee injury. Maybe they have a phobia or anxiety issue around people seeing them exercising. Maybe they have a respiratory illness. There’s a thousand and six different ‘invisible’ illnesses that could preclude them from taking the stairs.

    8. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Flip side: I would loooove to take the stairs every day, but you actually can’t get to my floor with the stairs (you can leave…through the emergency exit, but you can’t get in). Argh!

      1. Applesauced*

        That’s something I hadn’t thought of – a lot of buildings lock the stairs from the inside (you can enter the stairs from the hallway, but not the opposite) for security.

      2. Isben Takes Tea*

        This. Our building does this, but nobody told me. Oops.

        I now tell all new employees my #1 piece of advice: don’t take the stairs.

      3. Noah*

        This is exactly why everyone in my building takes the elevator. Once you go into the staircase, the only place you can go is outside.

    9. Sualah*

      I totally get it that people have invisible disabilities and don’t really think much of it usually, but I did laugh to myself a little bit the day that I saw my 2-up manager, a avid runner, get on the elevator with me in all his running gear to go out for his daily run at lunch…and go down one floor.

      1. Observer*

        Even there, you really can’t know. Stairs are funny – and going DOWN stairs can get even weirder. Someone can be extremely fit, and even be able to run, but still have the kind of problem with a knee, ankle or their back that makes the stairs a real problem.

      2. TheLazyB (UK)*

        My colleague in my old job was 50+ a runner who will always be faster than me and the very definition of ‘not lazy’. She was also literally the only person to use the lift for our three floor building. Always made me chuckle.

      3. Dawn*

        Yeah I work on the 2nd floor of a 2 story office building and take the elevator up and down to the ground level exit because I have an issue with my left knee right now and my doctor said “no stairs”… and frequently it’s to walk over to the gym before walking home afterwards! Just because someone can exercise doesn’t mean they can take the stairs :)

      4. CheeryO*

        I’m a pretty avid runner, and I almost always take the elevator to and from my second floor office. Honestly, I’m just lazy. I’d have to walk out of my way to get to the stairs, and it’s not like I need the extra exercise (not trying to humble brag, just a fact). And sometimes my knees hurt after a race or a long run, and it’s just easier not to do stairs.

    10. ElCee*

      Honestly? I take the elevator for one stop sometimes. I am able-bodied. Judge away. People shouldn’t have to prove that they “need” an elevator–it’s an elevator, not an express bus.

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        Yes, this. I don’t have any disabilities, but sometimes I just don’t feel like taking the stairs. I don’t see how it’s anyone else’s business.

    11. Lily in NYC*

      LOL, I wonder how many people judged me yesterday for taking the elevator one floor. Multiple times. Sorry if my vertigo cramps your style. My wish not to fall down the stairs trumps your wish for a speedy elevator commute. But I get pet peeves; we all have them.

    12. Observer*

      Aside from the health issues, lots of people won’t do the stairs for safety reasons. If the stairs are as bad as you describe, it’s not unreasonable for people to be worried that the stair well is a good place to get attacked.

    13. Arjay*

      The last two office buildings I’ve worked in have had terrible stairs. At one of them, the staircase was barely wide enough for two people to pass each other, so you’d have all these awkward pauses at the landings and having to turn sideways to get by, and people would still brush into each other. Yuk.

      And in my current building the stairs are light colored and have dark non-skids edges on them, and for some reason this particular combination makes it really difficult on my visual depth perception to not fall down.

      1. Natalie*

        Ours are crammed into such a tight space that they give people vertigo from turning around too much – there’s a landing every 8 steps or so.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I’m on the third (top) floor and I use the stairs for a twice-daily workout, but that’s without all my crap–purse, tote, etc. I park in front and our building’s stairwells are at the rear. First thing in the morning and when I leave, the elevator is my friend. I have to share it with everyone in the building and so I expect it will stop frequently.

      If I’m going one floor down for a meeting, I use the stairs, and so do most people unless they have bad legs/backs/etc. It wasn’t fun when the elevator broke a week before I went on holiday in April, after my bad knee flared up and my doctor told me to stay off it if I wanted to walk in London at all. I seriously thought I might have to get a cane.

    15. Ad Astra*

      I take the stairs up to my office on the second floor, but I would probably take the elevator if I worked on the fourth or higher. I get sweaty easily, and we have a “business professional” dress code.

    16. Wanna-Alp*

      So, let me see if I have this straight:

      You, an able-bodied person, would like some other able-bodied people to not use the elevator so that you can use the elevator quicker. Yes?

    17. Not Myself*

      I just don’t WANT to use the stairs though I’m perfectly capable of doing so. I just like elevators. And I really don’t think I have to cater to or explain myself to people who have an issue with that.

    18. themmases*

      I think everyone can relate to the frustration of riding a very slow elevator to the very top, but I think we all have to accept that we don’t know what other people are dealing with. Speaking as a healthy person who loves the stairs– I’m a chronic disease researcher and I personally lost a bunch of weight taking the stairs at an old job– I still take the elevator all the time for reasons like, tired, had a bad day, too lazy to get out my key card, talking to someone and don’t want to assume they want to use the stairs.

      All that said, encouraging stair use is a potentially effective workplace health intervention. There is strong evidence that signs posted by stairs and elevators really do get people to take the stairs more. Improving the condition of stairs might encourage people to use them, too, but there’s less evidence about that (Google “community guide stairs” and click the first link if you want to learn more).

      If this really bugs you, your company might be interested in posting signs and making the stairwells cleaner and more accessible as an extremely low-cost investment in their employees’ health. My old employer did this, complete with profiles in our newsletter of people who lost weight on the stairs, partly because we were a health care provider and partly because it quickly became clear that our new building did not have enough/fast enough elevators. As long as it never crosses over into questioning individual choices to ride the elevator, that can be effective and fun.

    19. Not So NewReader*

      Change the way you look at this in your head and see if the stairs get easier. One day just try banishing all negative thoughts as you climb the stairs, only allow yourself positive thoughts. Do it just as an experiment to see what happens. I had a situation where no one at work did X, so I always did it. Over time, I built up some muscle. Then I got so I did not care I was the only one doing it because I was kind of proud of the muscle I had built up. Others started to notice that I could do X and they could not. hmm. It took work to get myself there, though.

    20. Not So Sunny*

      Seriously? You resent folks taking the elevator because it holds you up in the morning?

    21. the gold digger*

      I once rolled my eyes at a co-worker who was in his mid 30s and appeared healthy as he took the elevator down one flight of stairs instead of walking and then I said something to him.

      He replied in a low voice that he had serious back problems and that it was very painful for him to take the stairs but that he sure wished he could.

      Since then, I, properly shamed, have kept my mouth shut about people taking the elevator.

    22. Wanda*

      I really appreciate everyone pointing out things that I said in my own post, particularly you, Katy, and making me feel judged for having an opinion. I guess I just can’t win.

      I have nothing against people who are injured or disabled. My brother is autistic, and I’ve been judged my whole life just for standing next to him during his occasional violent temper tantrums. But I love him and would not change him, because he’s my family. My mom has been judged in grocery stores for when he or I were loud, crying, or being messy. Because all parents get judged for the small, every day things kids do, as though because your child is “misbehaving” you raised them wrong.

      My point is: everyone has a story, and everyone unfairly judges everyone else. I’m truly sorry if I offended someone with my comments, but I really was trying to be fair while at the same time venting some frustration. I was raised to be polite and courteous towards other people (stepping aside on escalators so people can pass, not blocking isle or walkways, etc) and there are some people out there are discourteous because they just don’t care or haven’t even thought about how they affect others. If you want to, by all means, take the elevator.

      1. Panini*

        I agree. Suddenly, this site turned into Tumblr or something.

        It is frustrating, but you’re right. There’s really nothing you can do about it. :) Suck it up and smile.

      2. Not So Sunny*

        I’m sorry, Wanda, but I just don’t see what any of this has to do with riding an elevator, which you think people shouldn’t do for only one floor unless they have a good reason, and which most people think needs no reason at all.

      3. Steve G*

        Oh jeez sorry for the pile on! I commented below. I work in an avant garde area of Brooklyn in a very “artistic” building where the average age is like 27, and people speed walk everywhere, but they have the patience to wait 3 minutes for an elevator to go only a few floors. So I know what you meant

    23. F.*

      Just wow! And when everyone else starts taking the stairs, will you be complaining that the stairs are now too crowded? I used to work on the 48th floor of a 54-story building. It made for some long elevator rides, even with express elevators. If waiting for others to use the elevator is so distressing, look at it as an opportunity to learn patience. (or as my mother would say, offer it up as penance.)

    24. Ned Schneebly*

      I honestly can’t believe that you (assuming you’re healthy) need the elevator to go up to the 4th floor. I’d never use the elevator unless I had to go to the 6th or higher.

    25. Steve G*

      No I am with you, working in a very youthful building in NYC. The issues I see are that people don’t know where the stairs are, some floors block reentry, one you have to press a button from the inside to open, one door has to be remembered to be unlocked by the custodian in the morning… people don’t always run to take the stairs (though I do, I hate waiting!)

    26. Victoria, Please*

      I’m visiting an institution of higher education right now where the students are not ALLOWED to take the elevator! Pretty much the staff and faculty walk, too. Stairs are very fashionable for everyone here. I like it.

      And I have a sneaking sympathy for the OP! Yes, I know about the invisible disabilities and the dingy stairs at my home institution, but I still stifle a silent “dang it” when I am on my way from the top floor and a bloomingly healthy looking student gets on at 3 and off at 2.

  37. Katie the Fed*

    Ever been unable to distinguish between being actually sick, and suffering from burnout/malaise? Either way I’m still in my jammies today.

    1. Christy*

      I’m glad you’re taking the day! And I’m fortunate (?) in that when I’m really burned out, I get stomach issues that are basically the same as actual illness, so I have to take sick leave! Hooray.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I do too! I carry my stress in my stomach. I also worked all of last weekend so I really needed the day.

      2. overeducated and underemployed*

        Haha that happened to me last week, I was too nauseated due to anxiety to get ready in time for my bus and wound up calling in sick. But I also had a cold and lost my voice at work the next day (public speaking is 75% of my job!), so I thought it was a mental health day but it wound up just being necessary.

    2. BabyAttorney*

      I’ve been dealing with an undiagnosed mystery sickness since like May. Hadn’t thought it might be a physical expression of psychological distress….hm. food for thought c:

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I get big old headaches that feel like migraines, with throbbing and eye pain, etc. It’s hard to tell sometimes if they’re stress-related or not. They lay me out–I often have to sleep them off. I tend to get migraines more often when I’m stressed, so I suspect it’s a cycle.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Unfortunately, my husband also decided to work from home which detracted from full-on vegging :/

        1. A Minion*

          I may be a terrible person. Your use of “unfortunately” made me think I may not be alone, though.

          My job offers more paid holidays than my husbands, so I end up with three or four days a year that I have off and he doesn’t. I look forward to those days so much because I can just stay in bed, lounge around all day in my jammies and watch trash TV or binge on Netflix. The next day I get off is Columbus Day on the 12th and my husband decided to take that day as a PTO day as well. Surprise!! I’m trying to act excited, but secretly I want to call his boss and ask him to please rescind his PTO request approval! LOL The weird thing (to me, anyway) is that I genuinely look forward to my weekends and spending time with him and to vacations we take together, but I’m strangely jealous of my “bonus” days off. Not sure why.

          1. CheeryO*

            I have Columbus Day off and my boyfriend doesn’t, and I CANNOT WAIT. I feel so mean thinking that way, but it’s not often that I get a day to myself with literally no accountability to anyone else.

          2. Katie the Fed*

            Nope, not alone. It was bugging me so much. And he wasn’t working at home to take care of me – he was dealing with repairmen and avoiding the rain. All fine but…I just wanted to watch law and order all day and drink tea and his mere presence annoyed me. I love him to bits. But sometimes I just want the house to myself to do nothing.

    4. SL #2*

      Oh no! I got sick last weekend so I was out for the first half of the week… and now it’s Friday and I’m feeling just a little burned out because I spent all of yesterday catching up.

    5. Ad Astra*

      At my last job, I used ALL of my sick days for the year by October, and 90 percent of them was somewhere on the line between actual sickness and burnout/malaise. I think there was maybe one day when I definitely had a cold or something.

    6. FiveWheels*

      I have no advice, just that I’ve been in a similar situation lately. I wasn’t sure if I was burning out or seriously ill. I put off going to the doctor because I was scared he’d either tell me I was dying, or tell me there was nothing wrong and I was just incapable of doing my job.

      Anyway I saw him last week – the diagnosis is not nearly as bad as I was expecting, treatment is working, and I feel totally able to cope again.

      Anyway – this is obvious, but if you can, get to the doctor asap. If you ARE burning out it’s better to know so you can decide what to do about it.

    7. Rock*

      Ug I’m close to the same boat. No day off for me (although I’m taking random days of vacation later this month so it should be alright) but I know the feeling. I’ve developed heartburn these last 3 days, and I’m 99% sure I gave myself stress abdominal issues after a big event earlier in the year.
      Yay bodies and minds and how annoyingly connected they are… :<
      Sorry you're not doing well. Here's hoping the long weekend clears it up!

  38. Anontoday*

    I have a problem
    I work in health care, I see about 50 patients a day, briefly in a triage type of situation. I am very uncomfortable with the amount of men that ask me out, tell me im beautiful and at times even touch me. there is no reason for them to touch me yet they do. this is not just one patient, this is not a staff member it happens about 2 twice a day.
    There is nothing that my boss can do really I just have to find a way to better handle this. I work alone, adding another staff is not practical nor is changing my role. any advise?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I would handle it very directly.

      “Please don’t touch me.”
      “I’m your healthcare provider, and this line of discussion is entirely inappropriate. Please stop.”

      I’m sorry you deal with this. It’s disgusting.

      1. AnonToday*

        That’s what I do and the patient is always receptive and rarely to they persist but it always happens again later. Im not sitting here saying OMG im so pretty but being attractive is new for me. ive recently had major life style changes and gone from being unattractive to apparently rather attractive. I know im sensitive because of past events with men but im married and really not looking. this shouldn’t be as big of a problem as it it. I have an apt with EAP but I need to find a way to change my thinking

        1. Katie the Fed*

          It honestly doesn’t matter if you’re attractive or not, or looking or whatever. There are men who like to push boundaries. They know it’s inappropriate – you don’t need to feel bad about shutting it down. Just think of them as stupid children with no impulse control or sense of boundaries. Because that’s how they’re acting.

        2. Violetta*

          It doesn’t matter what you look like! All of us should be able to do our jobs without being made uncomfortable by comments on our appearance. You’re totally justified in wanting to shut this down.

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            Yes, this. It’s totally reasonable to want to just do your job without comments about your appearance. Don’t feel bad about telling them to knock it off.

        3. Sunshine Brite*

          I know it feels new, but I know to me it’s happens off and on repeatedly. What you’re doing is all that you can do. Boundary violations are part of working with the public as frustrating as it is.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Even without all this, the answer to these men is still the same: “you are over the line”. It matters to you that you look better, it matters to you that you have history with men, but, really, that’s only where it should matter. It’s something that you are working on privately and has nothing to do with your job or your work with people. These people are not using appropriate behaviors and they need to be shut down, period.

    2. Violetta*

      I hope this doesn’t come off as ‘Google it!’ but that’s what I just did because I was interested in the possible approaches for this in the healthcare field. I found some seemingly good articles so I’ll link one in my next comment.

      1. AnonToday*

        thank you, that’s exactly how my boss is handling it and they are great here, I love my job.
        Ive thought about putting a picture of my husband and I up, it would not look out of place but because he is in law enforcement in the area I wonder if that would be a bad idea.

        1. Ad Astra*

          I’m really sorry to hear that this is so common. You’re doing the right thing by shutting it down immediately and making it clear that these comments are unwelcome.

          If you get a patient who’s persistent with these kinds of comments, I don’t think you’d be out of line saying something like “Your comments are making it a lot harder for me to work with you” or even, “If you don’t stop making these comments, I’ll have to refer you to a different clinic.” Talk to your boss about what, exactly, you’re empowered to say here and keep him/her in the loop.

          And, I hate to say it, but you might try being a little less friendly. You’re not doing anything wrong by smiling or making small talk or being warm with customers — that’s if the clientele at your office is full of men who don’t understand boundaries, then maybe being more stern will help. That’s your call, though.

    3. The Great Attractor*

      … in a triage type of situation.

      I realize that ‘triage’ can be used in many different ways and in many different kinds of situations. But I’m left wondering: are you literally making “who lives / who dies” kinds of evaluations on people? If so, that kind of adds a whole ‘nother layer on the situation.

      1. anontoday*

        no, blood pressures, temperatures and “what brings you in today”. Some shots but mostly a briefing for the doctor.

    4. L*

      So a) figure out what happens when you can’t handle it alone (how to call an appropriate code, how to flag people before you bring them back for triage, security measures like adding a mirror so someone outside of the room can see in/around corners) and b) develop a stern don’t screw with me face. Practice it. Practice saying with authority, “I am your health care provider and that is inappropriate and needs to stop immediately.” Then continue on with whatever you’re doing. If they don’t stop, tell them that is inappropriate and the facility does not tolerate harassment of staff and be prepared to act.

    5. Thinking out loud*

      I’m sorry, but the statement that there’s nothing your boss can do is nonsense. Your boss should handle this. However, if s/he doesn’t, you should be blunt with the person/people doing this: “I don’t appreciate being [spoken to / touched like that. Please stop.”

      1. fposte*

        I don’t see how her boss could handle this for her, though. Is she supposed to call the boss every time somebody hits on her over a blood pressure cuff? This isn’t a single bad apple who won’t get the message and go away, this is barista/waitress syndrome where it’s a constant part of the job. The boss should absolutely support her in saying a firm “That’s not appropriate” and shutting it down, but it’s not something you can prevent, and it’s not something the boss can swoop in and fix.

    6. Book Person*

      Nothing much to say apart from I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. It’s good that they’re receptive by and large and don’t push, but it still puts the onus on you to have to say “no, don’t touch me” to begin with. I’m glad your office is being supportive.

  39. NylaW*

    Work is so stressful it’s making my usually mild seasonal allergies go bonkers. I broke out in hives, had swelling in my hands and feet (from hives under the skin basically). My doctor confirmed that it’s probably being exacerbated by stress because stress causes your body to ramp up its histamine response which makes it seem like you’re having a major allergic reaction. I’m on extra allergy meds that make me want to nap and I look and feel horrible. I feel like going to my boss about this so he can very plainly see this is how bad it is right now. If I’m like this, what are others feeling, and how bad will it be when we start Super Huge Big Important Project in January?

  40. The Cosmic Avenger*

    OK, I don’t want to jump the gun, but I’m kind of hoping for an offer some time soon.

    The question is, how do I evaluate it?

    I’m currently employed, and I like what I do and the people with whom I do it. The compensation is pretty good.

    The new position may require a slight pay cut, but have better benefits and better job security. It would have a slightly shorter commute, but we’re talking 5-10 minutes shorter.

    I can cost out the benefits, but while I used to say it would take a big pay bump to get me to move, that was when I wasn’t thinking of a job with a better commute.

    I also really liked the people with whom I interviewed…but I also like my current co-workers a lot.

    (My sympathies to those of you who are still looking, or looking for something better. I know this is a problem a lot of people would like to have. But it’s the one in front of me right now.)

    1. Christy*

      Do the math on the benefits, including any premiums or deductibles. And consider how difficult it is for you to get another job–if your skills are in demand, security isn’t *as* important. I don’t think the 5-10 minutes of commuting difference should factor into your decision.

      Do you need a change? Are your skills getting stale? Have you been with your employer for a long time? Those are all good reasons for a change.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’ve been with my current small employer for a long time, and the new job would be Federal. But it’s a bit like a family here, and I like the owners and my coworkers.

        I guess I always tell people in negotiations they should know their bottom line number ahead of time, but I’m having trouble deciding if I want to switch jobs if the compensation is a wash, or even just a few thousand a year better. But then part of me says I should even take a small pay cut for a TSP and pension.

        1. Christy*

          Well, there are definite costs to federal employment (Katie the Fed?). They include: Benefits aren’t actually that cheap. My girlfriend works for a local county and her benefits are better. The TSP is guaranteed, but I don’t have faith that my pension will still exist when I retire. There’s always the threat of shutdown. There can be a lot more bureaucracy, and you can have problem employees who stick around (not that this is necessarily true). It can be hard to leave the government precisely because of the pension/benefits. Raises are very fixed and based on time in, mostly. No bonus potential, pretty much. You might have to deal with a union.

    2. grumpy career changer*

      I agree that a good commute is a huge improvement in quality of life. It depends on the situation — is it thirty minutes becoming twenty, or an hour becoming fifty?

      It sounds like either decision will have a good outcome.

      Good luck!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Gee, reading that comment after the fact, I probably couldn’t have been more opaque if I had tried!

        My current commute is 25-30 minutes, and it would be around 20-25 at the potential new job.

  41. Anon for this*

    I feel like I’m drowning.

    My work involves an extreme level of detail-orientation, the ability to juggle multiple tasks at any one time, almost no support, and the expectation that I figure things out as I go. In addition, my company has crazy turnover (about 50% leave in the first year), crappy benefits, and general demoralization. That said, I love my clients, and I have gotten a lot of opportunities to do things that I wouldn’t be allowed at a more functional organization.

    Right now, though I have some personal things going on that are making it very, very hard for me to focus–my SO had a medical emergency that resulted in her needing to take an undetermined amount of unpaid medical leave. In addition to worrying about her, I also feel very stressed about the financial situation. We do both have some savings and neither of us have much debt, but it’s unclear when she may be able to return to work, and if she’ll be able to return to the same job at all. Selfishly, I’m also really down because now I can’t take the vacation I’ve been saving for.

    I keep forgetting details because I’m stressed, and being stressed causes me to forget more details. I know I’m probably also dealing with some depression, which I often have problems with in the fall, despite using a full-spectrum light in the office and other things. In addition, I’m struggling to find time for self care, because I’m running behind and exhausted both physically and emotionally.

    I don’t know if I’m asking for help or just venting, honestly, but I really wanted to get this off my chest.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Have you told your boss what’s going on? If you haven’t, you really should – I know I respond different to an employee making mistakes if there’s something going on in their personal life that’s making things hard.

      I’m sorry you’re having a tough time and I hope things look up!

      1. Anon for this*

        Yes, and she’s been supportive. But she can’t really do anything to fix it–she is vastly overworked herself and my job is extremely different from everyone else’s in our department. No one else knows HOW to do what I do.

    2. AlsoAutumnDepression*

      Autumn’s changes in sunlight and temperatures can be hard for so many people. You are not alone! Sounds like stress, on top of worry, on top of your own personal expectations is really getting to you.

      I know that for me, using a super powerful light, like a HappyLight, taking good vitamins, and making getting enough sleep a priority can be huge helps in the autumn. I’ve also recently started using a sublingual vitamin B12 spray a couple of times a day — it’s really made a difference in my thought patterns and energy level.

      I feel for you!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Oh no–I hope she’ll be okay.

      Could you take a little time to document procedures? I find that helps me when I get off track, kind of like making a list. Plus, it could help someone else pick up a few tasks if you have to take time to care for SO or if they manage to get you some assistance. If no one else knows what to do, it’s a good idea to document anyway.

      Try to eat regularly and well, and get as much sleep as you can. I know it’s hard, but you need to take care of yourself.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This might sound ridiculous but seriously consider redefining what you call important. Not everything can be a five alarm fire. Sometimes when faced with crisis, we forget to prioritize. Before you get stress out over X or Y, ask yourself, “Is this actually critical?” It’s amazing how much stuff we run at and there is no need to run at it.
      As you go about your day, both at home and at work, ask yourself “Is this actually important or am I just assuming it’s important?” Get rid of the non-essential work. Look for ways to shorten or ease repetitive tasks that you must do. And most importantly, take time to recharge/invest in you everyday. This could mean making a salad for dinner, going to bed early, telling a coworker “no, I cannot help you. I am overloaded now.” The recharge or investment is whatever you think you need to do but do some little thing daily.

    5. Bonnie*

      I don’t know if this will help but the one thing you do have control over right now is your work. You don’t have control over much sunlight you are getting, you don’t have control over your SO’s health and right now you don’t have as much control as you want over your financial situation. But the one thing that is 100% within your control is your performance at work. Maybe focus on that.

    6. misspiggy*

      It’s interesting that you can’t do self care because you’re behind with other things. Would it help to think of self care as something that must come first at the moment, because you’re in for a longish period of extra demands on you? What could you do to give yourself extra rest, space and enjoyment, as a priority?

  42. T3k*

    Question to fellow designers:

    What do you do if a piece isn’t 100% your work, do you still add it to your portfolio? For example, I do some design work where sometimes I’ll use a free vector piece that can sometimes be a small part of the design or a central part, and while I’m trying to add to my portfolio to make it more versatile, I’m stuck on the whole “it’s not 100% my artwork.” Do you have certain rules you go by about whether you add it to your portfolio?

    1. Lizabeth*

      Hmmm…on the fence about this – showcase just your part of it instead of the whole thing? I usually try to put as close to 100% done by me in the portfolio. Easier to deal with especially if you’re sending off a pdf for them to glance through.

    2. Terra*

      As long as you did the majority of the work (I’d say 70% or better but technically if you did 51% it still counts) then add it and possibly put a small note on the bottom that says “with assistance from [name]” or “vector created by [name]” then you’ve covered yourself legally but can still use the piece and anyone if your field should realize that not all work is going to be done 100% by one person.

      1. T3k*

        Oh yeah, I like this idea. I’ve done credit before in the past for some stuff (like if I used logos, game artwork, etc. for personal projects).

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      I think, like Terra, it depends on how much of the piece is yours. One could argue that as the designer you have pulled elements to create ThisNewThing. I mean, if you designed a brochure, you would be provided photography, text, etc. from the company to make it. You take all the elements and make the thing. No one (or few people) would think that you also took the photos of that plant in Singapore and wrote the copy.

      As for giving credit… I don’t think you need to do that unless someone asks. If you have outright taken someone else’s artwork and added your own touches to it, then yes, that should be acknowledged but saying you got the art from so-and-so on iStock, nobody I know does that.

      1. T3k*

        Yeah, my problem is with vectors, not as many people realize they can be bought or supplied like photos, and since lately I’ve been doing a lot of vector artwork I don’t want someone to see one piece and go “you drew all this?” when I actually drew only 25% of it while another piece I did 90%.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Over ten years ago, I was given two designs to turn into logo animations. I knew the designer, I had worked with them previously. The designs were very good, completely different styles from each other and I was impressed. But when I requested the source files (because you can’t animate a jpg), I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to see that all their “design” was finding something on iStock and adding the logo to it, which they had done. When I found that out, I stopped trying so hard to come up with completely original, all-my-own work. Frankly, most of the budgets I work with aren’t that robust for anything other than sourcing and alteration anyway.

          Now, did she put that into a portfolio? I have no idea. It was a subcontracting situation, so even if she wanted to, she probably wouldn’t have been allowed to (which is another conversation entirely). Did I put the animations into my portfolio? Yes, I did — but it’s not online. Because I tell people who I show it to that I animated it, someone else did the design. In my job, sometimes that’s all people want, they want to know if you can animate something that someone else gave you. TBH, I have several samples like that, where someone else has done the design and I have just done the animation/template (more than I’d like).

          Because here’s the thing: like I said before, unless you’re painting or doing sculpture or something where it’s art totally dependent on you, to be a designer often means taking someone else’s content and organising it/tweaking it/changing it/altering it into the design. If you design books, you hire an illustrator for the cover. You hire writers for content, photographers, etc. You set the tone (especially if you are the creative director), find the art that works with that tone and carry it out. One of my art school teachers was an illustrator who did Harlequin covers for a while. He worked from photos he took of models, I doubt he ever credited them.

          So I say, put it in your portfolio. If people ask, tell them what your thought process was, why you made the choices you made, what inspired you to choose the elements you used. One of the things I learned at art school was that you can pretty much get away with anything so long as you can justify why you did it. Yes, that sounds terribly cynical but if you had seen some of the projects people got away with because they had some good patter, you would be amazed. I know I was.

    4. Applesauced*

      I struggle with this too – we often have outside companies do renderings or final images for projects. I add a note saying “rendering to show scope of project” and explain if I’m in person. Lisitng your specific responsibilities helps too (“art and layout” vs “layout”)

  43. chump with a degree*

    Am I the only one after yesterday checking everyone out for sleeveless tops? Still warm here and our dress code is “wear shoes”.

    1. Anie*

      You know, I hate armpits. But I would be pissed if I couldn’t wear sleeveless shirts.

      Quite frankly, I’ve been noticing a close coworker’s armpits all summer and you know what? She wears sleeves! But she favors white and sweats dramatically and almost every time I talk to her she raises her arms and puts them behind her head. I’m left staring at her giant, yellow, damp pit-stains constantly. Would sleeveless be better? Maybe. At least she could air those puppies out….

    2. Bagworm*

      Warning Possibly TMI: I haven’t been checking for sleeveless tops but I was thinking about it this morning when I was shaving my armpits.

      1. Mephyle*

        Actually, did anybody who read yesterday’s discussion and shaved armpits today not think about it?

        1. afiendishthingy*

          I thought of the happy armpit haters this morning, everyone was bundled up because of Hurricane Wakeen

  44. lunch meat*

    I take a lot of minutes for committee and board meetings, probably one set each week. I always have them proofread by 2-3 coworkers before submitting them. Lately my boss has been commenting on the amount of minor mistakes in the minutes – not typos or grammatical errors, but inconsistency in am vs a.m., Oxford commas, etc. I do my best to read everything closely and check for these kinds of things, and it’s usually only one thing each set, but I feel like she’s saying that that’s too many. Is it reasonable for her to suggest one mistake of this kind is too many? I feel like perfection in this is not even possible. Should I just ask more people to proofread and focus on the things she mentions?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      That sounds crazy to me. If these were official minutes for board meetings that are going to be posted for shareholders to read, then OK. But regular everyday notes? I’ve taken department meeting notes on a paper towel. You just need to have the topics and resolutions documented. It sounds like you need to ask what kind of grammatical formatting he wants: APA, MLA? I feel sorry for you. Your boss is focusing on the wrong stuff.

    2. Not me*

      The nitpicking’s obnoxious, but these kinds of things can be learned if you need to. Focus on those mistakes and see if there is a style you are supposed to follow. If there isn’t, decide on the nitpicky things yourself to build the consistency your boss is looking for. Only use “a.m.” and don’t use Oxford commas, for example.

      I do think it’s unreasonable for her to expect so much from notes. It’s not really possible to be perfect. I’m sorry your boss is being so weird about this.

    3. xarcady*

      If it is mostly that Boss wants things to be consistent, but doesn’t care which you choose (use the Oxford comma, don’t use the Oxford comma), then I think it’s possible to improve things.

      And a lot of is repetitive. Decide whether or not to use periods in abbreviations. So it’s always am or always p.m, always PO Box or always P.O. Box. It’s not something that you need to make a decision on every time it comes up, if that helps make this seem less daunting.

      For every issue that is pointed out as inconsistent, pick one. Doesn’t matter which. Write down which one you pick. Basically, create your own style sheet. Always use that, no matter what you are writing–minutes, emails, reports. Get so that it becomes instinct and you don’t have to think about it.

      I think that for meeting minutes, your boss is being a bit nit-picky. But you are being told that this is important, so I’d try to find a way to get more consistent with things.

    4. INTP*

      I think it’s ridiculous to focus that much on consistency in an internal reference document. Reviewing meeting notes for oxford commas does not sound like a profitable use of time, for sure. But if your boss does insist, it’s helpful to create a checklist of everything you need to look for (I do a nitpicky kind of proofreading for my job and am not really a detail person). You can also make it go more quickly by automating some of the checks. Just do a search-and-replace for “AM” or “a.m.” to “A.M.” before turning them in, as a habit. If your boss doesn’t care whether you use Oxford commas, just whether they’re consistent, you can search-and-replace “, and” with ” and”. (For all of these I’d recommend replacing one at a time and never clicking “replace all” so that you don’t make an edit you shouldn’t.)

      1. lunch meat*

        I do the board minutes which are seen by a lot of people and volunteers, but I also do a lot of other notes and other documents, and the nitpicking for all of them is constant. I try to focus more on content since she does a lot of rewording too, but then she nitpick both of them. It’s just demoralizing. I feel like I’ve been rewriting the same 4 documents and that’s all I’ve been doing for the past month. So it’s really a bigger issue than just the one thing. But the style sheet is a really good idea so I’ll put one together.

        1. Bagworm*

          I’m afraid I don’t have any advice beyond what’s been offered but I do sympathize. I had a boss like this (former English teacher). The most frustrating thing was when she would yell at me (and she did yell) about errors in something that she had revised!

    5. fposte*

      I’m pretty anal about writing detail and definitely have documents where one mistake is too much, but I wouldn’t care about style inconsistencies in meeting minutes as a manager.

      However, your boss does. Can you 1) create a style sheet if the main issue is inconsistency, and 2) identify the time cost of additional style checks so that it can be clear that this priority is worth the minutes being ready later and you not being able to get to other things until later?

      1. TootsNYC*

        also–if things like “a.m. / am ” are showing up in some standard place, like meeting start time, you might reduce the number of things like this you have to worry about by creating a template that you fill in.

    6. Carrie in Scotland*

      Also, printing them out and reading them on actual paper might be a way of picking up am/a.m. etc. And reading backwards, from the end to the start.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It seems that the 2-3 people you ask are wasting their time, you only need to ask her. You could try asking why this has suddenly become so important and is there something else going on that you should be aware of. Definitely do point out how many hours you are sinking into these “minutes”.

      It’s a long shot but maybe she is prepping you to take on different work where such accuracy is important. Maybe keeping that possibility in mind, will help you some how.

    8. Mockingjay*

      Your boss may be forwarding them to higher-ups, so presentation is important.

      It sounds like you do a good job capturing the important points. She probably wants just a little polish. The style sheet and proofing suggestions here should take care of it.

    9. TootsNYC*

      Consumer magazines have entire teams of specialists to handle those sorts of things. Because it’s a huge time suck, and it’s a major distraction for editors who are supposed to be focusing on whether the information is correct or well presented, well organized, charmingly written, etc.

  45. Anon for this*

    Question – can your previous employer find out your identity (name, email address, etc.) if you post about the CONS of the job on glassdoor?
    My previous company is a small public company (yet growing fast) of about 200 employees. It has been in business since the 1980’s and it has only 2 reviews on glassdoor.
    I really want to warn others about this company!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m pretty sure it’s anonymous, but if the company is small and you right anything detailed there is a chance they could recognise you from the post.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        A guy who was let go right after I started posted a very detailed and long-winded negative review. I saw it. I know it was him. Small companies often make for easily identifiable ex-employees.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I once left a bad review on glassdoor. I made a fake email address, with a fake name. I was paranoid too, but I really wanted to warn people.

    3. INTP*

      I don’t think Glassdoor will share the info, but with a small company, it would be pretty easy to figure it out. I’ve figured out what my coworkers made that way (unintentionally – there was one person in the company with the job title listed with a salary). I think it could be possible to suss out even if you try not to post specific details, like if your manager recognizes your writing style.

    4. Vorthys*

      I’ve left a few critical reviews on glassdoor before, but I use a fake account and wait a few months before I post anything. I also keep the details rather vague and sufficiently broad. It should offer some protection to your reputation.

    5. Buttonhole*

      You can choose to be completely anonymous (you are already but…) but not stipulating your position, where you worked or for how long you worked with the company.

  46. Nom d' Pixel*

    Do we have a best/worst of the week thread yet? If not, I’ll start.
    Best: We had a horrible employee (incompetent, hot-tempered, rude) who we were getting ready to fire. Well, he saved us the trouble and quit.
    Worst: He accused pretty much everyone in the department of bullying him and being out to get him, so now we all have to be interviewed by HR.

    1. ACA*

      Best: I got to do some proofreading for an upcoming event program – I love proofreading, but it isn’t generally part of my job function.

      Worst: Foolishly assumed the office copier/scanner could send me an email with 40 JPEG attachments. It could not; I had to re-scan all of them.

    2. Terra*

      Best: I am a finalist for a government job I think I’ll enjoy if I get it.

      Worst: Before I get an official offer they want a reference from my current job which I’m leaving because my boss has started yelling at me for “pissing him off”.

    3. Lizabeth*

      Best #1 – the PTB FINALLY paid our sample vendors so we’ll be able to proceed with the sampling for a major trade show that is in 3 weeks so we can make money to pay the bills.
      Worse #1 – found out from one of said sample vendors that the PTB tried to muscle them a bit using the line “we’ll take our business elsewhere” before sending the check. WTF????? There is nobody else to do this work that doesn’t already know that the PTB aren’t paying the bills on time. (forehead to keyboard)

      Best #2 – the PTB gave us raises after 9 years.
      Worse #2 – only after cutting our hours back to a 32 hour week until further notice.

      Yes, I’m looking in spite of the “raise”.

      1. Kelly White*

        You may be eligible for unemployment- when my company cut us back from 40 hours to 32 (so 4 days a week instead of 5) and we were able to collect for the 1 day a week. It was quite helpful, especially on a tight budget!

    4. shaky bacon*

      Best: Made a most excellent dinner last night of baked acorn squash stuffed with spicy Italian sausage, tomatoes, and cheese. Will be making this more often – so easy and comforting.
      Worst: workdays have ended in me crying when I get home because I’m hating it so much right now. It’s just one of those weeks where it has peaked to unbearable levels :/

      1. Red Stapler*

        I both love & can’t wrap my head fully around the acorn squash idea. I’ve literally only ever had acorn squash as a desert, little bit of butter & little bit of brown sugar. The idea of it as a savory would never have occurred to me in a million years.

    5. Margali*

      Worst: Stopped for coffee on the way to work, came back to find that someone had parked so closely and crookedly next to my car that I literally was unable to get into the front seat. I checked back at the coffee shop, but no one admitted to it being their car. I’m inflexible enough that climbing in through the passenger side would have been REALLY hard. Fortunately, a tall, skinny man came out and volunteered to squeeze into the front door and back my car out for me.

      Best: Kindness of strangers as per above, and the CEO is closing the office at noon today and taking us all to a private movie screening. Yay, Friday!

      1. kbeersosu*

        That’s so nice of a random stranger! I’ve been in this situation before and there is just no dignified way of getting in your car and over to the driver’s side.

    6. overeducated and underemployed*

      Best: I burned a bridge Monday morning by backing out of an offer for a new job in a different field that I accepted verbally on Friday afternoon (there was pressure to give an answer and it made so much sense on paper, but all weekend I became convinced it was the wrong decision). It was such a relief to not be dreading the new job start date, and to return to my current job, where I’m working on a fun project based totally on my background and interests.

      Worst: Needing to reevaluate my job search and life plans, since now it’s clear to me that “I’ll just take any full-time, permanent job” is NOT actually something I’m willing to do, but full time opportunities in my field are incredibly rare and competitive, and I’m even nervous about finding a short term contract for the spring. If I don’t find anything by the time my current contract ends this winter, it is going to be a rough few months or more….

    7. The Great Attractor*

      I guess I just missed this – I should have waited.

      Best: (as below) patent filed -> award money -> new toys!

      Also best: it took a long time and sometimes it felt like it was going on slow motion, but I managed to get a fair salary for this employee I am helping to transfer from “Teapots India” to “Teapost USA”. I had been given a salary by someone in HR and told “just use that”, but I did some investigating and discovered that it was actually rather unfairly low. Without going into details, let’s just say that adjusting the figure to a more “appropriate” number was non-trivial.

      Mo’ best: got word today that I’m going to be even more heavily involved in the recruiting effort for my company in this upcoming year! I like this kind of work.

    8. Anie*

      Worst: I came across the instgram of someone I graduated grad school with. She had all these photos of exotic locals and famous people. It made me fee a bit like a failure. Why haven’t I traveled and met all of the people?

      Best: I was able to remind myself that I really like my life. I hate traveling and meeting famous people would crazy stress me out. I don’t have to be a rockstar in my field to do a good job and enjoy myself.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Amen. Sometimes people put themselves out there like that because it meets a need they have. Not everyone feels the same push, though. A lot of people are content with what they have going on around them.

    9. Merry and Bright*

      Best: no minute taking this week. I don’t mind too much but it’s been on overdrive lately.

      Worst: someone behind the scenes looked at a project I helped with in August. They assumed I had made an error with the expense code (I hadn’t) and helpfully reallocated it to the wrong area. Luckily I had the scanned paperwork and email chain to clear it up but it still took a Long Time.

    10. SL #2*

      Best: competent admins! As an admittedly competent admin myself, I find it so relaxing to work with other admins that I can trust to not drop the ball.

      Worst: I got sick and took a few days off to recover, and I’m still a little groggy from the Nyquil I took last night. Thank god it’s Friday.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Best: Leftover food two days in a row from the massive BBQ the department I sit near had. They invited me to the BBQ because I’m usually on my own. Yay!

      Worst: Boring. Everything is really super boring right now. Boss is on a cruise and I am jealous. I need another trip. NEEEEED. If I save money and PTO, maybe I can go somewhere again in the spring.

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

      Worst: Went to court this week and what was suppose to be a temporary order regarding my divorce became a finalized divorce. It hit me harder than I thought, even though I was the one to file. I ended up not going in to the office that day, but going home and crawling under the covers for the rest of the day. Oh and he is still in the house and our son doesn’t know yet. We tell him tomorrow…

      Better: Colleague was out of the office the following day sick and counterpart is traveling this week so I had a quiet day to myself at work and no one had to see me only half-way functioning.

      Best: Enjoyed volunteering at my son’s school picnic and even had a nice dinner with the now ex and son afterward. Oh and he just texted me and said he found a place to move to…

    13. Red Stapler*

      Best: My SO may have a great job offer. (waiting on an e-mail with details).

      Worst: I came to work today in a shirt way too small with only one of my hands nails painted dark red. I slept through my alarm and woke up with only 10 min to get out the door, and of course all my shirts were in the washer since I always get up in time to start the dryer.

    14. AnotherFed*

      Best: After 20 straight days working, I have tomorrow off!

      Other best: Finally have staffing and workload balance sorted – we traded a very junior person for one with more experience who can take on more work with less help, and an unpleasant project just wrapped up. I can probably get weekends back for the forseeable future!

      Worst: Found out this afternoon that I did not get a promotion job I interviewed for. I was a longshot anyway – I have the technical skills but not as many years of experience as many of the candidates – so it’s not a surprise. Hopefully, I can get some actionable feedback anyway.

  47. Raia*

    When a job asks for you to send a resume to, and doesn’t ask for a cover letter… What do you put in the email body?

    I put a paragraph of cover letter-like content. A sentence each on stating the position, how I have exp and interest in their most desired skill, my experience matches, please let me know any questions, and that I look forward to hearing from them. Should I have written out a full cover letter and just put it in the email body? Or should I have just said I was excited to apply, let me know? Or did I correctly pick a middle ground?

    1. Florida*

      I would include a cover letter even if they don’t ask for it. I usually put the cover letter as the body of the letter, but I don’t think it matters if you it in the body or as an attachment. The only time I don’t use a cover letter is if it some funky online application and there is no way I can attach anything.

  48. The Great Attractor*

    I successfully filed (yet another) patent through work. I kinda have mixed feelings about patents and IP these days, but this one is actually worthwhile. Aside from the way patents are used in the larger sense, there are people at my company who more or less ‘game’ the system and who have filed hundreds of patents and collected large amounts of money via my company’s incentive system. I’ve filed about 30 over my entire career, I figure that’s not too bad. I’ll get a couple of thousand dollars from this latest – just in time for the new iPad Pro and, better yet, Moog just announced the Mother 32, its first entry into Eurorack format. I’m near the top of the list for when they begin shipping – woo-hoo!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Patents are a funny/odd thing. My dad had quite a few also. After thinking about it some, I kind of concluded that if someone gets a patent, they should put it into use. People that get patents and don’t use them, simply block others who would have used the patent. That just seems so wrong to me.
      My father had one patent for a door latch. When he described it to me, I was surprised that no one had patented it yet. But there it was. On the flip side of the coin, the design was so simple and so ordinary that I wondered if it was almost a public domain type of thing. Obviously, the patent office did not agree with me.

      1. The Great Attractor*

        They do get used as blockers. True story: there used to be two competing companies that were leaders in the field of surgical robotics. They were so highly litigious that progress in the industry was forced to a limp. Until … one of the companies managed to raise a largish sum of money and *bought* the competition. No more lawsuits, and I’m told that great strides have been made in the field.

  49. Katie the Fed*

    So earlier this week, a colleague of mine attempted to volunteer me to bake for an office function. W…T…F. He did it in the middle of a meeting – “Katie has volunteered to bring in the baked goods.”

    I was just caught really off guard – I don’t bake for the office. I’ve NEVER baked for the office. If he had said “Katie has offered to bring treats” I might have laughed more, but ugh. I just said “I don’t bake – what a strange suggestion!” and then he had to awkwardly stammer his way out of it. Thing is – he’s a nice (but socially awkward guy) – but people, you’ve got to THINK before you open your mouths.

    1. Christy*

      Oh HELL no. I’m glad you shut it down, and I’m kind of glad he had to stammer his way out of it.

    2. INTP*

      What on earth would possess him to just randomly name you as the baked goods volunteer in the middle of the meeting? I’m glad you called him out on it and shut it down.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah I need to have a follow-up conversation with him about it but I didn’t have time yet.

    3. NotherName*

      I do bake and am actually pretty proud of my skills. But I do it of my own volition – and good ingredients cost money, and baking is work. This is just so inappropriate… I’d be mad, too.

      1. Rebecca 2*

        Same – my coworkers never assume, though. One time my client did ask me to bake for our other client’s birthday and offered fair market compensation. I was happy to do it, but I was *asked* or volunteer, I certainly wouldn’t react well to being voluntold. A dozen cupcakes costs me $10-$20 in ingredients, depending on what goes in!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        It was a poorly executed something :)

        He’s a nice guy, he really is. I just don’t think he thought through the optics of it.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I hope it was a joke because volunteering someone else for something isn’t a very nice thing to do.

    4. Wanna-Alp*

      Wow. Is this a thing? Men surprise-volunteering women for something food-related? (Happened to me a fortnight ago.)

      Anyway your response was great.

    5. MKT*

      Since started my new job(still in a 100% male company, I feel like I’m breaking records over here….) I haven’t baked anything, because I’m trying not to default to “the woman of the office” so I’ve taken the advice I’ve read here and not brought in treats or anything.
      But it’s KILLING me. We have a full kitchen in our office(like, nicer than a lot of home kitchens) and I wouldn’t even need to bring baked goods from home, I could literally keep ingredients in the fridge and pantry and use the oven to bake! The struggle is real.
      I also started thinking this morning, “I could make a big breakfast early one morning!!!” *Mental slap*

  50. Cog*

    How do you move up your career if you’re stuck in a job that treats you like a cog in the machine but you don’t want to move to another company and start from the bottom? I’m in an entry-level position but I’m wondering how in general people can move up other than internal promotions. I’m taking some classes so I can move up eventually, but don’t have the actual work experience to move up directly, so if I want to move up, is my only option to move laterally to another company and work my way up there?

    1. Christy*

      In general, people move up by gaining new skills and going to other companies as promotions. So for me, I moved to another office (as a promotion) by learning and using SharePoint, and then I got a new job in an office that does all SharePoint. So it was only like 20% of my job before, and now it’s 100% of my job. I think it works like that.

    2. Amtelope*

      Well, your other option is waiting until you have the work experience to get a job at another company that’s a step up from your current position. It’s rarely possible to move straight from an entry-level position to a higher-level position without getting some experience in your current role, whether you’re trying to move up internally or get a higher-level position at another company.

      1. Cog*

        There’s the catch-22. I can’t get the work experience for a step up at my company but I need the work experience for a step up. I can take classes but I will still be lacking work experience.

        1. Vorthys*

          Apply to things you think you’re underqualified for based on their description, but have some of the support skills and maybe even some classroom experience for. If that’s not allowed at your company and they don’t want to invest in you, it isn’t a bad idea to set least test the waters for higher positions elsewhere.

          Just don’t settle on a lateral move by default. There’s a good chance someone out there is willing to hire you on the lower end of a higher payband and train you up if you’ve done a good job with your entry level position.

    3. Krystle*

      In my opinion and experience, you won’t be losing much to leave this dead end entry level job to get a entry level job at a company that supports internal growth… you’ll just be spinning your wheels at this place waiting for them to clue in and change their processes.

    4. periwinkle*

      It sounds like you’re already at the bottom. Perhaps it’s time to investigate a lateral or upward move to another company that encourages professional growth through education, stretch assignments, mentoring, and project work. Make sure you interview them when they’re interviewing you!

      As you noted, you need work experience in order to grow. If your current position doesn’t offer opportunities to get that experience, cut your losses and go.

  51. Bend & Snap*

    I went on a business trip with some colleagues this week. A vendor took us out for drinks and the evening devolved into going to a karaoke bar. I am MORTIFIED because I had tee many martoonis (and put my singing/dancing shoes on) but everyone seems to have fun and our management is glad we had some team bonding time.

    Feels very weird. Should I just try to shake the mortification?

  52. TheExchequer*

    My coworkers are having an office lotto pool. While I don’t play (I have this weird idea that if I have enough money for the lotto, I have enough money to give to charity, but then again, you should see the ebooks I buy and never read, so to each their own frivolous spending of money), it’s been kind of fun fantasizing about what I would buy if I *did* win.

    So, if you won your office lotto, what would you buy and what would you do?

    1. Rebecca*

      If I won enough money, like my take home pay x 40, I’d walk out the door never to be seen again. I’d change all my passwords first, log off, and walk. I wouldn’t even look back.

    2. T3k*

      If it was enough to not work again and pay off my student loans, I’d quit my job and start volunteering at local animal shelters. I’d personally love to work for an animal shelter, but unfortunately they don’t have the money to pay well enough to keep my head afloat. I’d also spend down time working on my crafts.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      Ooh, I think it would be a bit awkward for us. We’re a nonprofit so I think there would be a lot of peer pressure to give to the organization, but then again… we are vastly underpaid compared to market so the temptation to take the money and run would be strong.
      Personally I’d take the money, pay off student loans and mortgage, set up a nice trust and if there’s any leftover give to the org. I wouldn’t quit either!

    4. Anie*

      I’ve been daydreaming a lot about this, weirdly. I decided I’d pay off my student loads, fly my mom into town and sight see (very historical part of the country she hadn’t gotten to experience yet), and maybe go on a cruise.

      And of course quit my job and write a book or freelance a teeny bit.

    5. Applesauced*

      1) pay off mine, my boyfriends, and my sister’s student loans
      2) buy property
      3) pay off my parents mortgage
      4) vacation

    6. Ad Astra*

      Assuming it was enough money, I’d…

      1. Pay off my student loans
      2. Buy a new car
      3. Buy a house
      4. Consider dropping down to part-time. Or maybe I’d just quit but I’d start looking for some kind of part-time work to keep me busy and because I’m terrified of not having an income.
      5. Get another dog
      6. Talk to hubs about when he wants to start having babies
      7. Buy some plane tickets, because I have years of vacations to make up.
      8. I guess I’d save or invest or whatever too.

    7. TheExchequer*

      So, the first thing I would do is get a lawyer and set up a trust so that if anything should happen to me, the money would go to my family.

      Second thing I would do is buy a house.

      Third thing I would do is find a way to invest the money so more money is coming in than going out.

      I’d pay off my student loans, buy nicer cars, give to my favorite charities, and sign up for grad school.

      Then and only then would I consider quitting, but honestly, I think I would go nuts if I didn’t have something to do. Maybe I’d set up a retirement account for my mom though.

    8. Natalie*

      Assuming it was a lot:

      1. Quit my job. (I haaaaaaaaate it here)
      2. Set up some kind of trust or whatever so I can live off the proceeds.
      3. Find some kind of low-key job or volunteer gig where I can actually make a difference in the world and do that.
      4. Travel a lot.

    9. Bagworm*

      I feel bummed (but comforted that I’m not alone) that pretty much everyone needs to pay off student loans.

    10. ConstructionSafety*

      I won the college bowl game challenge at the office in 201o. I took the cash, added a little to it & bought the family a stainless steel Weber natural gas fired grill.

    11. Avery*

      I’d pay off my student loans too, and everything else. Then I’d buy an RV and wander around, send my kids and other peoples’ kids to college, and travel overseas.

      You know, the strange thing is, I have friends who have huge trust funds and they don’t have fabulous lives. They don’t travel anywhere and they live pretty much the same lifestyle I do, except that they have bad relationships (with people who are attracted to the money) and recurring addictions to pills and alcohol. I’m sure there’s lots of people who have trust funds and are happy, but after seeing how my friends’ lives have turned out, I’m pretty wary of large amounts of money. I mean, who’s to say I wouldn’t be like them or worse? I often wonder if my lack of funds has turned out to be a positive thing rather than a negative thing. (Although I could truly do without the student loans!)

    12. lfi*

      1) pay off mortgage
      2) donate oodles to various animal welfare non profits
      3) pay off my parents line of credit
      4) travel.

    13. AvonLady Barksdale*

      1. Buy a house.
      2. Spend a lot of money getting someone else to decorate that house.
      3. Quit and get a job doing something I find fun, like working in specialty foods or wine.
      4. Travel. With and without my boyfriend.
      5. Throw a really awesome wedding. Not that I couldn’t do this now, it would just be easier to do it if I had lots of money and time.
      6. Find a really great restaurant somewhere in a remote place that would pay me room, board, and airfare to spend two months setting up pickles and fermented food for the year.
      7. Buy my boyfriend a car.

    14. Hazel Asperg*

      Ooh! I would buy a great holiday for me and my husband to go to Australia (from the UK, for context.) And we’d get the deposit for a mortgage – or buy a house, depending on the size of the lottery – and I’d have a dozen pets and sit outside reading every day.

  53. Ms. I Need a New Job*

    At what point during the interview/negotiation process should I bring up a 3-week vacation that I booked a couple of months ago and ask for that time off? The vacation would be in December.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Not during the interview process. Only after you’ve been made an offer that you’re willing to accept. In my own experience, I’ve handled that as the last of a series of negotiation points (salary, questions about benefits, etc.).

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      At the job offer stage. That would be part of your negotiation: “I’d be fine starting at X date, but I have a 3-week vacation already booked for December.”

  54. Skye*

    Being a longish term reader of AAM, I thought that since I had the free time, I’d go to a ‘resume lab’ talk given by my university’s career center.

    I am here to report that they recommend (or require, if you are a student and using their online application system) an objective statement as well as a core competencies section.

    They never talked about cover letters. Instead, time was devoted to business cards (is this a thing for college seniors and new graduates now?) though we did get a handout advising that your cover letter ought to open with “I am submitting my qualifications for [position]” and include the job listing number. Also mentioned was not using a free e-mail account, so that an ATS wouldn’t reject the application… which, I don’t even know what to say about that.

    And then we got to “think about your job duties and conclude what the best title would be for your position”. And that ‘receptionist’ could definitely be used in place of ‘student worker’ because both positions answer phones and greet people.

    I almost walked out. I really wished I had told them their advice was bad, but I couldn’t figure out how to do so politely.

    1. Violetta*

      What is even supposed to be on your business card at that point? Sue, Job Seeker? Joe, Student?

      If you don’t get an opportunity to fill out a survey or give feedback, I’d consider sending some directly to the career center. I hate the idea that they’re sabotaging people’s chances :/

      1. Random Guy*

        Well, on one hand they say that you should put down the career of the job you want, or at least fudge a little and already call yourself whatever you’re applying for, even if you’re unemployed. Another thing is that everybody is assuming that between summer jobs, internships and the like, recent grads should already have five years experience at anything (at least that’s what the companies I’m applying to expect.)

    2. College Career Counselor*

      DAMMIT. These people are giving the rest of us a bad name. Did they learn about resume formats circa 1980 and never think about it after that ever again? The objective statement needs to be forcibly retired, as it’s filler under the best of circumstances (and it’s ridiculous for most entry level jobs). Double plus ungood to requiring an objective statement for a resume through their system. Core competencies *might* have some value in some circumstances, but not as a blanket requirement, which will lead to all kinds of unsupported stuff like “hard worker, good communicator, able teammate,” etc. That said, I’m not surprised that they didn’t do “cover letter” at a resume lab–those are often two separate presentations.

      Business cards for college students come and go (it’s relatively easy to print something up on decent cardstock these days), and I suspect this was for a job fair or other networking event. But they’re not required. What IS a good idea is for the student/recent grad to get the card of the person they’re meeting with.

      Finally, the “no free email account” is stupid (it’s not 1996 any more), the reason given (ATS rejecting applications) is bogus, and fudging the job titles is at best unethical and more likely fraudulent and grounds for dismissal/rejection if it comes out.

    3. fposte*

      Does “no free e-mail account” mean no gmail? Because I think gmail keeps the planet turning.

  55. KarenT*

    So this happened to me, and I find it really annoying. I was contacted randomly by a recruiter on Linkedin. The recruiter worked in HR at the company, so not a third party recruiter. The recruiter asked if I’d be interested in working at Teapots Incorporated, and would I be interested. I said I wasn’t really looking to leave where I am now as I’m happy there but for the right opportunity I’d consider moving on. So I asked her to tell me more about the role, and it sounded interesting, so she asked me to send in a resume. After sending in my resume, she phoned and said the hiring manager was excited about my resume and to set up an in person interview, but first they wanted to know my salary expectations. I said my salary expectations were $X, and she said that was $10k higher than the max for the role, and wanted to know if my number was firm. It absolutely was, as I’m currently relatively happy at my current job, so that’s what it would take for me to even consider leaving. She said she’d run it by the hiring manager and see if it still made sense to bring me in. The hiring manager called me herself to set up an interview, so I assumed everything was good.
    Fast forward through two interviews and a job simulation, and I get an offer. Not only did they not offer me $X, they offered me $X minus $20k! (Not even the $10K difference we were originally at!). I told them I was very surprised by their offer as I was clear what salary I wanted in this role, and that we’d sort of agreed not to move forward if we weren’t on the same page. (Not to mention they found me–I did not apply.) She revised the offer to $X minus $10k, but said she wouldn’t be able to do $X. I again said I was disappointed to hear this as I meant it when I said $X was my requirement, and that I really am happy at my current company so it probably made sense for us to part ways at this point. She then phoned me and started selling me on the flexible workplace, benefits, bonus, etc. (None of which exceeded what I’m currently getting at my current company). I turned down the job again, but am so annoyed! It’s a poor way to treat a passive candidate, and I feel like they were playing games when I was very upfront about my salary requirements. (They could have said we’re $10k apart, do you want to learn more about the job and then decide, where as this felt like a bait and switch).

    No question, really, just a Friday workplace rant :P

    1. Buttonhole*

      I dislike recruiters immensely. I know, I know: there are some good ones but I would rather not be bothered with finding the few good ones. A recruiter lied to me about the amount of leave- he said 30 days excluding public hols (this in Britain) and it turned out to be including holds- I specifically asked him “including hols or not?”.

    2. kdizzle*

      That sucks. Something very similar happened to me once upon a time. They kept using my current salary as my salary requirement, and I kept correcting them…. in writing, in person, whatever. “You reached out to me…I’ve told you I’m happy in my current job…and I would require $X to leave my happy situation for a complete unknown.”

      They assured me they understood what I was looking for…then the offer comes and…. ‘poof!’ …exactly what I was making at my current job. Once I gave my final “no”…the recruiter tried to make me feel bad about wasting THEIR time. Say what?

      All that to say, I hear you.

      1. KarenT*

        I felt the same way–that they were annoyed with me for wasting their time. It was all very strange!

    3. Noah*

      Yup, that sucks. I had a very similar scenario where they insisted that matching my current salary was a good deal. I explained again that I was very happy in my current role and that they reached out to me. In order for me to move to a new job, new company, new city, there would need to be adequate compensation.

  56. Christina*

    I just spent the last half hour trying not to cry laughing after reading my organization’s women’s association newsletter whose goal is, presumably, to support a professional network of women, requires members pay dues, and gets decent funding from administration. Two highlights, copied verbatim:

    – Are you interested in writing and editing? Markeing, branding and promotion? Then be a part of the Publicity Committee! (This is not a one-off, just the funniest–there are typos and grammatical errors throughout.)
    -Although she’s received a lot of great advice over the years, here are three of her favorite tidbits: remember to have compassion for yourself and others; you never know if you don’t try; don’t eat stuff off the sidewalk. A little known fact is that she only has one cat, though she suspects people may assume she has a lot more. (side note–the person profiled is on the above-mentioned publicity committee and includes one of three mentions of cats in a 9 page newsletter)

    And the third thing that’s too long to copy and paste is an article on phone etiquette that could have come from a 1950’s guide for “Ladies in the Workplace.”

    This actually offends me as a woman, an alumna (this is at a university!) , a writer, an employee, and a professional. At least it lent some amusement to my day.

    1. NotherName*

      Maybe the Publicity Committee is trying to show how much they need writers, editors, and proofreaders? Otherwise, I got nothin’!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I read “don’t eat stuff off the sidewalk” and started laughing right before the phone rang. Was very hard not to go, “XYZ Company, how may I direct–bwwaaaaahhhhaahah!”

      1. Christina*

        That’s what made me completely lose it at my desk. I kept imagining this poor woman introducing herself to colleagues at a networking event. “Hi! I’m Susie, I work in the Registrar’s Office and I don’t eat thing off the sidewalk! Nice to meet you!”

  57. Shell*

    I have overslept for four out of five days this week. Sometimes by up to an hour.

    Surprisingly, I have not been late for work (though I am literally striding through the door at 8:29 for an 8:30 start. Good thing I have a desk job in which I don’t really have to get anything prepared and I can eat breakfast at).

    Good grief, this week.

    1. Rebecca*

      Same. I need to set up my alarm, which is one of those ones that uses light. Maybe across the room.

    2. Tagg*

      I’ve done it twice this week. I have two alarms set in the morning – one when I’m supposed to get up, and one 45 minutes later to remind me to take my various medications. I’ll wake up for the first one – hit snooze a couple times, then completely zonk out and sleep through the second. I’ve even changed it to a louder, more obnoxious alarm sound without much success.

      I blame the weather too, and the fact that I’ve been picking up a bunch of evening shifts at another location within my organization. (yay overtime pay.)

  58. INTP*

    Here’s a topic that came up via an acquaintance this week, I’d be interested to know what you guys think. Is there any reason that it would be illegal for a company to require employees to wear a fitbit at all times and log their food intake?

    Obviously, it’s ridiculous unless it’s an opt-in sort of thing, but I assume it’s perfectly legal because I can’t think of a law that would prohibit it. Others in the conversation insisted it’s illegal, but didn’t name specific laws. The employee in question is in eating disorder recovery which can absolutely be compromised by tracking steps and calories (she just tries not to look at the totals and ignore the app), so I wondered if an ADA accommodation might apply, but I’m guessing no. (It wouldn’t immediately impair her ability to perform daily tasks, just increase her odds of developing a condition that might.) She doesn’t want to disclose the ED to her employer, though (which I think is understandable).

    1. Rebecca*

      I’ve heard of companies buying FitBits and giving them to the employees to encourage physical activity, but logging food intake? Seriously? I have a FitBit Zip, and I wear it for me – only for me – to encourage myself to get off my butt and get some activities done, like walking or biking. I don’t use the sleep, water, food, or weight tracking part. I can’t be bothered with keeping track of all that stuff and logging it when I don’t have an actual health issue that my doctor would maybe want me track that stuff for.

      If my company did this, and pushed the issue, I’d totally make up the food stuff and just key in whatever, regardless of what I actually ate or drank. I can’t imagine how it’s any of their business how much cabbage I eat or don’t eat, for example.

      1. NotherName*

        I’d be tempted to give my company the impression I live entirely upon devil’s food cake and root beer floats…. I’m actually a pretty healthy eater, but that doesn’t mean I need to tell my company what goes in my mouth. (Once my parents stopped monitoring my food intake, I assumed that became my job alone…)

          1. NotherName*

            A bottle of Kahlua. I think it would mix better with the ice cream and cake.

            Godiva has some liqueurs that might work here…

    2. ACA*

      Uh. I don’t know if it’s legal or not, but as another ED-recoverer, I can confirm that something like this would definitely have a very negative effect on me. I hope your friend doesn’t have to put up with this for too much longer.

      1. INTP*

        Yeah, same for me (also have an ED history). I have a fitbit and using it for step tracking isn’t triggering (I definitely see how it could be, I’m just not at a point where I’m going to walk too much – it motivates me to walk a healthy amount), but I could never use a calorie log. I’d get way too much of a rush out of seeing my number be as low as possible. I told her to give the fitbit to a friend who wanted a free fitbit in exchange for logging food on her account, but it’s a wrist one so I don’t know if they’d notice she wasn’t wearing it.

        1. NotherName*

          I think someone needs to bring up to the company that there are definitely good reasons why the calorie counting could be an unhealthy thing for employees. And why do they need that information anyway?

    3. Katie the Fed*

      It’s not illegal, but it’s really, REALLY weird. But, nothing to say it has to be honest, right? She could always just add a bunch of stuff to it. But seriously, that’s such a waste of time. I hope they’re letting employees log it on work hours since it’s a job requirement.

      But yeah, unless she’s willing to request accommodation I think she’s stuck.

      1. INTP*

        Yeah, I think making stuff up is the way to go if she isn’t able to get away with just lending the fitbit and login credentials to someone who wants one.

    4. MaryMary*

      It depends on what the outcome of declining to participate is, and if there is an alternative program employees can participate in. And if you and your friend live in the US, I don’t know the regs for other countries.

      The EEOC recently released preliminary guidance that employer wellness programs must be optional. Employers can offer wellness incentives (commonly less expensive health plan premiums) but cannot requre employees to participate, deny them access to health insurance, or retaliate against them. If a program is outcomes-based (you need to achieve X goal or Y target), there must be a reasonable alternative. For example, my employer’s wellness program requires my BMI to be less than 29 in order to receive a lower contribution toward my health plan. My BMI is higher than that, so I had to meet with a dietitian (provided by my employer) to get the lower rate.

      The EEOC rules aren’t finalized, but they’re likely to be soon. The reasonable alternative piece is part of the ACA (Obamacare) and is already law. I’ll post a link to a Q&A from the EEOC below.

    5. Observer*

      I would think that ADA would apply here. Uncontrolled eating disorders most definitely do interfere with activities of daily life (they also wind up interrupting life itself, which is the ultimate disruptor of daily activities…). That’s what triggers a duty to accommodate. Anything that interferes with her recovery would need to be accommodated unless the item was a part of the core duties of the job. It is VERY hard to imagine any job where this kind of thing could be a core requirement.

        1. Observer*

          Of course. My point was that it would be perfectly in line to request this accommodation because the duty itself doesn’t need to directly interfere with life activities, as long as the condition is affects does.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. If I am going to be keeping a food log for work, I need to get paid for it. Otherwise, my food log just became a list of what I ate at work.

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      I agree it seems legal but horrifyingly bad.

      But it’s only legal if they’re paying you for the time you spend tracking and logging your stats.

    7. Curious*

      Don’t think it would violate the ADA, and even if it did, she would have to disclose her ED to get protection anyway.

      I think there might be a route under HIPPA, but that could also be a stretch and I’m not really that familiar with HIPPA.

  59. LSP*

    How flexible is your job?

    I currently commute 3 hours total to my job. So stupid, but that’s my own fault I suppose. I take the train and would like to ask that that time be factored into my hours. My company says they are flexible. The majority of my work is answering emails, running reports, and returning a few phone calls. I could easily do this on the train if I don’t sit in the Silencio Porfavor car.

    Am I crazy? I would ask just to WFH, but I can see the importance of physically being in the office sometimes. TIA.

    1. Shell*

      I would not advise doing your job functions on the train. You’re not guaranteed a seat and they’re typically noisy as well (from commuters, from the train itself). Answering phones would be a nightmare, and it’d be hard to run reports and answer emails without actually sitting down with a keyboard (unless you’re a super typer and use your phone for that). And there’s the possibility of people looking over your shoulder, so if you do anything confidential, that’s a huge obstacle.

      Ask to work from home a few days a week.

    2. Violetta*

      I don’t know what your job’s like but for many there would be a confidentiality issue. I also think you’d come off as out of touch if you asked for your commute to count as ‘work hours’ (you accepted the job knowing what the commute was + you probably wouldn’t be as productive on a train as in the office). Can you ask to work from home part-time, so you wouldn’t have to deal with the commute one or two days a week?

      1. LSP*

        You’re right. I’d be taking a new job, so I thought it be an opportunity to change things up, but regardless I think it might come off as out of touch.
        There is an office close to me, but I think they want to keep me at the big downtown office. *cry*

    3. Thinking out loud*

      Maybe you could ask to work from home one day a week? Or you could work four long days instead of five normal-length days? I think I could reply to e-mails and run reports using my laptop on a train (assuming it has wifi that is free or you’re willing to pay for), but I don’t think I would attempt to make or receive phone calls on the train.

    4. Sophia in the DMV*

      I have this commute and can accomplish a lot on the Amtrak (internet is free and mostly works). I like the quiet car bc I can concentrate. I wouldn’t recommend making phone calls on the train (in the non quiet cars) bc phone calls are loud and have no privacy and the train/people can be noisy

    5. misspiggy*

      I think it all depends on the commuting environment. On long commuter routes in the UK it is completely normal for people to count commuting time as work time, assuming you get on early enough in the route to get a guaranteed seat. At commuting times people are generally quiet to allow others to work on laptops and make business calls, as long as the calls aren’t long or shouty. You’d need to be sure that phone reception is good though.

  60. A to the N to the O to the N to the... you get the idea.*

    The TL;DR version:
    What are my first moves as a brand-new manager, managing a team of my former peers? What questions should I be asking my manager during the responsibility hand-off? What caveats should I look out for?

    The long version:
    Next week, I’ll be officially promoted to managing my immediate team! I’ve been in a leadership role for awhile now, but I’m nervous about the transition from peer to manager. I’ve never had direct reports before, so all I know about management I’ve learned from my (good) managers and AAM!

    I feel like I have an intellectual grasp on some steps to take (1x1s with team members, actively encouraging/participating in their career development, addressing performance issues), and I have already been performing some of the day-to-day duties to make sure my team members could complete their work. But – I feel like there are things I’m definitely not thinking of.

    My manager (who has been managing our entire team) will be sitting down with each team member to talk to them about the organizational changes that will affect them, then I will be sitting down with my manager to fully discuss my new responsibilities (I have a basic idea but we weren’t able to discuss details until everything is official).

    I feel like I’m overthinking this, but what’s my first move when my team knows what’s going on? Do I pull them all immediately into a meeting to make a speech? Have a chat with each individual?

    We’ve all worked together as a team for years – I don’t want it to be weird. Our office culture has led to a very informal relationship, and I know I’ll need to dial back the (usually mild) snark I’m liable to spout out without thinking. I have always gotten along with everyone on the team and I know they respect my expertise, which makes me even more nervous about living up to their expectations! My imposter syndrome is kicking in a little bit – have I managed to fake it so well that I’ve convinced management that I’m much better at my job than I really am? Eek!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      When you go from colleague to manager I think the best thing you can do for a bit is observe and listen – don’t start making changes yet. But there may be employees who try to challenge your authority – nip that right in the bud.

      1. Bagworm*

        I’m likely to be in a similar situation soon but my boss wants me in the manager role specifically to make changes and as soon as possible. (She already has me making recommendations to colleagues on how to improve their processes.) Any advice on how to handle that scenario?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s going to be more time consuming, but put in the time to explain changes as they come up. And ask for inputs and suggestions where appropriate- then actually use those inputs and suggestions. Also, constantly check to make sure people have what they need to do their jobs.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Let your anxiousness keep you sharp/on your toes. Let it help you to be in tune with other people so you get a good launch in your new position. Anxiousness is not all bad, it can help with self-preservation in positive ways, if we let it.

    2. The Great Attractor*

      Taking over as manager on a team that you previously led? I’ve never done this – but on the face of it, it sounds like it might not be difficult. Again, this is all hypothetical to me, but I think I would set aside some time with my manager and find out what parts of my job have changed (i.e., appraisals, professional development, etc).

      Just me, but I wouldn’t hold a meeting and give a speech. I’d have my manager hold a meeting and announce my new job as manager. One thing you may need to do right away is assign any technical tasks you were responsible for to members of your team.

      In a way, it sounds like you’re getting a break, because you already know everyone and they know you. I guess the only thing to watch for would be bad feelings from someone who resents your promotion. But if that were to happen, I would have expected it when you became team lead … it would seem odd (to me) for it to arise now.

    3. ThatOneRedhead*

      I did this, and what worked for me was to schedule 1 on 1’s right after the official announcement. In that meeting, I acknowledged that there would be some awkwardness during the transition, and then discussed expectations. For example, I let them know that they could expect that if I had or heard feedback about their performance, I would tell them within a week (instead of waiting for reviews). From them, I expect that obstacles (that stop them for longer than a few days) will be shared with me so that we can strategize.

      Setting the ground rules for both of us helped me communicate what kind of manager I wanted to be, and aligning to those expectations helped me build trust with my team.

      Good luck!

      1. misspiggy*

        Yes – as well as asking employees how they like to be managed. One nice thing a previous manager did was to invite each employee to a one to one with her and the new manager, to do a handover of management and make sure the new manager/ex team mate knew about all our strengths and the priority things we were working on.

    4. A to the N to the O to the N to the... you get the idea.*

      Thanks everyone for your suggestions! The comment from Not So New Reader for Bagworm’s similar situation about channeling anxiousness into keeping you on your toes is really good – I have a tendency to get swept up in anxiety but that’s a good reminder to redirect it productively.

      I’m really hopeful that this will be a positive change for our team – the last couple of years (and especially the last year) have been a time of transition, and it feels like things are finally settling down in a way that makes sense for everyone. I want my team to be successful, recognized for their efforts, and happy – and I’m pleased to have the opportunity and status to help that in a more meaningful way.

    5. Artemesia*

      I think you sit down with each person you manage and solicit their input about what is and isn’t working. You can if you are under the gun to make changes share that tactfully at that point in the context of wanting their inputs about implementation and improvement. If changes are going to be made, then it is important that people know this is a mandate; it is also critical that they feel they have been listened to ; and when you listen you also in addition to creating potential buy in actually get good ideas and insights.

  61. onnellinen*

    A little bit of a vent – I got an informal job offer from an organization I would be thrilled to work for (yay!!). The catch: they requested to speak to my current manager as one of my references, and pushed back a bit when I discussed my reasons for providing that yet (I don’t know anything about their benefits or pay package, other than a general range for salary, and I’m at an age where family leave policies may be important in the next few years). We’ve agreed on a compromise, but I feel like even though I’m really excited, they’re forgetting that it’s still a 2-way conversation! :P

  62. Anon for This*

    Salary negotiation help/advice:

    Just finished a fairly long interview process. Had the final interview this week and was offered the position the next day.

    They offered $x, about 12% more than I’m making now. I countered and said I was looking for more like $y, which is closer to 23% more than I’m making now. Waiting for a reply.

    Assuming they don’t come back and match what I asked for, what should I do? If we are between X and Y, do I ask them to come up a little more and “split the difference”, or should I say okay but ask them to start me at the next “tier” of vacation time accrual?

    1. Christy*

      I think if they offer somewhere between x and y, and making y isn’t a dealbreaker for you, then I’d accept the amount between x and y and ask for more vacation. Like, go with the assumption that they’re offering you as much money as they can, and ask for vacation to make up that gap.

    2. MMM*

      I don’t know what industry you are in, but if you tried to negotiate salary where I work, and I upped my offer, and you continued to negotiate, I would be wondering if I had made a mistake in hiring. I would not be impressed with a new employee who was pushing this hard from the start.

      1. Anon for This*

        Government/defense, mid-career level. Have received offers of $Y for other jobs that I turned down, so don’t feel I’m out of the ballpark.

      2. LSP*

        I don’t think they upped the offer. The new salary is 12% more than his/her current salary. It doesn’t sound like they offered 12% but LW then asked for 23%

        1. Anon for This*

          Yes – for example, don’t want to out myself here:

          Current salary: 70k
          Initial offer: 78k
          My counter: 85k

          This is where it sits now. If they come back with, say, 81, do I say “let’s split the difference” and do 82.5? Or say, “I understand this is what you can do – could I start at the 6 hours of vacation tier instead of 4?”

          1. Thinking out loud*

            I usually ask for more money once and then work on other benefits – vacation, flexible hours, etc.

          2. Charityb*

            Those are both good options. What I’d ask myself is, “If I were choosing between two firm job offers — $82.5K and standard vacation, or $81K and higher vacation, which would I take?” You may be in a position where you can push for both, but the risk then is that they might think that you’re a lot more “expensive” than they intended and may push back just because you’re asking for too many concessions at once. I would kind of feel it out, but definitely go in prepared to pick one of those things (better benefits or a salary bump). You don’t want to dither while you’re actually there.

          3. AnotherFed*

            If it’s government, they may not be able to bump you to the next vacation tier – that tends to be a perk based on your years of government employment, so unless you have previous government or military time that you can count towards it, that is likely to be non-negotiable.

  63. esra*

    Week one at new job complete. Everyone still eerily nice, no shoes have dropped. They feed us, there is a friendly office dog, people remember my name.

    All updates from old job so far are of the “You would NOT BELIEVE what management has done now” variety, so I’m feeling pretty good about my decision.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      That’s great!

      There’s nothing better than getting away from an unpleasant situation and ending up in a better place.

    2. OriginalYup*

      Congrats on week one! Don’t worry, the shoe-dropping anticipation will fade with each day away from the old job.

  64. Random Guy*

    I’m having a little trouble with the whole “nothing personal” aspect of job hunting. Now that my personal crisis has passed, I’ve dived headfirst back into the job hunt. I’ve gotten used to sending out a wave of resumes and cover letters to only have nothing in response (though I do get a little cheesed off that a simple “Thank you for your interest, but the position has been filled” seems to be out of reach of most companies.) What’s been driving me crazy is there’s one company that has a position on their website I think I’d be good for. It’s been up for over a year (I checked to make sure the company didn’t fold and the website wasn’t simply a ghost, they’re still there,) I applied twice already (once a year ago and again six months ago,) and nada.
    I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, but they clearly posted the job because they had a void that needed to be filled, so for them to decide an empty chair would be more useful and productive makes it easy for that little negative voice in my head to start taking it personally.

    1. Kasia*

      A lot of times on company websites they just forget to take the posting down. Especially if it’s a smaller company who doesn’t have a person whose job it is to specifically update the career page of the website. I generally don’t apply to positions that are more than a few weeks old. The applications recieved for that job probably go to a specific folder or webpage that they don’t even check anymore.

      In general though, remember that you are one of many candidates and they’re just trying to fill a position the best they can. Companies don’t always have time for the feelings of individual candidates. Sorry if that sounds harsh but that’s why you can’t get too attached to a single posting.

    2. Terra*

      Depending on the company/job it may be some kind of internal issue. Since you haven’t heard anything back yet you probably don’t have anything to lose by seeing if you can call HR and either verify that the job is still open or verify that they got your resume/application. One call shouldn’t be considered too pushy and if the job has been posted for over a year you have a legitimate reason to ask.

      Alternatively, track down someone who works there on LinkedIn and send them a message saying you’re interested in the company and ask if they’d have some time to chat. The worst that can happen is they say no/don’t respond and you may find someone who’s open to talking that you can ask about normal hiring practice.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I applied at one place that would have been a nice but not great fit for me. I waited for … crickets. After 8 months or more I finally found someone to talk to about the job posting.

      “Oh, they always leave that up, even if they don’t need anyone. They might need someone suddenly and it’s handy to have some apps to chose from. No the ad does not actually mean anything.”

      Don’t personalize something that is just a way of life for that company.

  65. Dani S*

    I had a work friend (we worked closely together as our department is very small, but didn’t hang out outside of work) “Jen” recently quit, claiming it was because of the commute. Later I found out through the grapevine that she wrote HR a harsh letter complaining about my boss, who I actually really like and respect, and who Jen had appeared to get along with just fine. It clearly upset my boss, as she met with each of us individually to make sure we were comfortable with her management style and ask if we felt we could come to her directly with complaints. I didn’t hear from Jen for a while, and wasn’t planning on keeping in touch, but then my co-workers and I received a text a couple weeks ago from her asking if she can stop by the office sometime to see us. I still haven’t responded because I don’t know what to do. If I didn’t know about the letter–and I feel that I SHOULDN’T know about it–I would have said yes in a heartbeat. But since I do know about the letter, I feel nervous about hurting my boss or getting caught in the middle of drama. I definitely don’t think she should come to the office. All of my co-workers are mad at Jen and are ignoring the text. My plan right now is to see if she wants to meet somewhere for lunch, but I’m still worried that my boss will find out and think we’re getting together to vent about her or something (although my boss doesn’t know that I know about the letter). Any advice? Would you get together with her or just ignore the text?

    1. msmanager*

      If you weren’t planning on keeping in touch anyway, there doesn’t seem to be an upside to getting together with her. If ignoring her makes you uncomfortable, you could reply that it’s not a good time, things are really busy, etc. and hope she gets the hint.

    2. MMM*

      This is a work friend with whom you no longer have a relationship, so I would ignore it or make an excuse. There is an air of drama here, and you really want to steer clear of that. If news of the letter hit the grapevine, it is quite possible that Jen is the one that leaked it.

      Regarding the letter, sometimes people have trouble separating from a workplace, and they will look for things to be angry about on their way out the door, because it is easier to leave if you are angry. It’s another symptom of drama that may be at play here.

    3. Thinking out loud*

      I would get together for coffee or lunch outside of work. I would purposefully keep work stuff light and try to redirect if she pries – “It’s great – how is your new job going?” If anyone in the office hears about it, I’d say, “Jen asked me to meet her for lunch, so I did. We didn’t talk a lot about the office here, but it was nice to see her, and it sounds like she’s happy in her new job.”

    4. Not So Sunny*

      Avoid the drama. Ignore the text. If she pushes, just say, “No thanks, I’m really busy these days.”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      No, do not meet with Jen. Call it loyalty to your boss/company, call it self-preservation or whatever.

      Just tell her now is not a good time to stop by the office. The unspoken here is that there will never be a good time to stop by the office.
      I am saying this because you were not friends outside of work and her reason for leaving seems to be murky and upsetting to your boss, who you actually like. Keeping your job intact and your boss happy, trumps a causal work friendship. (If you two were good friends for a long time, my answer might be different.)

      She either wants something from you that you are probably not willing to give or she wants to tell you what a horrid place you work for. You won’t miss much by skipping this one.

      Annnd last thought- just assume some one has told the boss that Jen pinged you guys. You don’t want to be the only one who answered that ping. This can test the patience of even the best of bosses.

    6. Sophia in the DMV*

      You can ignore her. I wouldn’t be mad at her either. You don’t know what’s going on. My boss doesn’t know I’m looking for a new job and would be surprised if I left. But he’s said really sexist things that have made me lose all respect for him. I’m nice to him bc I’m a professional not bc I like him

    7. Artemesia*

      I would not hide that I know about the letter. I’d say ‘I think it is really inappropriate for you to drop by the office; you really burned your bridges here and I don’t want it to appear that I am on your team on this because I am not. I’d be good with getting lunch on a Saturday or getting together some evening.’

      She is a risk to your work reputation. You have more to lose by not being blunt than by being blunt.

  66. Hakky chan*

    Hi everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I’m starting to job search after 8.5 years in the same position. I’m not concerned about the apparent stagnation, because the job grew tremendously in those years and I’m addressing that in my cover letter.

    My question is how much is too much to put into my resume? I have a lot of accomplishments through my tenure at my current job. In my current draft, I have 16 points which takes up the bulk of one page. When I compare it to other jobs I’ve held, which have lasted around 2 years, they have 4 points each, so I’m basically including 2 per year at a job. But I’m also afraid that it makes the first page look overwhelming. What are people’s thoughts on this?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Well, a resume is a marketing document, and you should be tailoring it to each position. So I would choose the most relevant ones for each position that you’re applying to. Maybe five or so on that first job? Sixteen seems like a lot.

    2. kbeersosu*

      So strange, but I’m in a similar position. My current role grew after year one when the person above me suddenly announced that she was leaving and I was handed all of her duties on top of my own. (And, no, I didn’t get a raise.) I’ve been actively applying for jobs for about six months (dual search with the husband, thus why it’s taking so long) and my resume has 20 bullets for this role alone. But, industry standard is a 2-page resume, and the bullets are concise and focus mostly on accomplishments, with few covering my core responsibilities. I’ve had considerable interest (many first round interviews, about 10 second and thirds, and even two offers!) so I think it really depends on what industry you’re in.

    3. Development professional*

      A page of resume is generally 10-ish years of experience, so I don’t think it’s weird at all that 8.5 years in a job takes up most of a page. Especially if the job is directly relevant to the new ones you’re applying for.

  67. Terra*

    What’s everyone’s thoughts on listing jobs/job titles on your resume? My current job title is technically Customer Service Representative but my actual duties are more that of a Technical Service Representative/Technical Writer. I’m currently applying to new jobs that essentially require me to have the Technical Service Rep/Technical Writer experience in order to qualify. So far I’ve listed the job title that’s closer to my actual duties and then try to mention in the interview that my actual job title is different. Does this seem dishonest? Should I list my actual job title and trust that someone reading the duties would realize that they’re above what would by typical for a CSR?

    1. Dawn*

      No no no no no- list the job title that HR has you down as. Anything else will make it look like you’re lying on your resume!

      Any recruiter worth their salt is going to look at your duties and go “huh, this person is qualified for this position they’re applying for, let’s bring them in” and not put too much stock in your job title.

      1. Artemesia*

        You must list your job title. You can then put in brackets something like ‘functioning primarily as title you like better’ or find some other way to highlight what you really did. But using a title that is not your title is a huge red flag.

    2. themmases*

      I think you should stop claiming a job title that isn’t officially yours unless your real job title is something confusing or dumb (e.g. “Customer Support Ninja”). It could make you look like you are lying or exaggerating your experience. I feel your pain because I’ve been in a similar situation– and my real job title really was confusing– but you don’t want to risk looking like you’re lying or having references contradict you in the future.

      Describe what you did, and particularly the level of responsibility you had, in your resume, putting the things that are the most important to you first. Then describe it in your cover letter as well. IMO it doesn’t come off well to come out and say that your job title wasn’t right. But if you describe what you did, people will get the picture. If your extra duties were unusual it can even be impressive, e.g. if documentation has been your main focus for the last 2 years because you gained a reputation for being good at it. Sharing that makes you sound good, just changing your job title makes you sound bad.

    3. Charityb*

      Maybe you could make the actual job responsibility the first line of your job description, in the area where you usually put your achievements. Maybe something like, “area of focus – technical writing”.

      In my industry, there are a lot of really general sounding job titles like “Analyst”, “Consultant”, and “Auditor” which could mean anything. You should definitely use that, but if your specific role as an “Analyst” is implementing ERP solutions that’s a huge gap from someone who is an “Analyst” and mostly doing data entry or an “Analyst” modeling financial data in Excel. Your first line could be something more descriptive to keep the person screening resumes from glancing past the descriptions and moving on because your job title is the same title as, say, a Wal-mart greeter or a stock clerk at a grocery store.

      1. Terra*

        I like this idea and AnonAnalysts below. My main concern was being in a field where a lot of resumes go through a computer program first that I might be missing out on opportunities for not having the specific phrasing on my resume. Unfortunately, I know this happened once and luckily was caught since I was working with a recruiter who was able to confirm my resume had been auto-dropped and manually put it back into consideration. Auto-scanners are the bane of my existence.

        1. Artemesia*

          By using the Real Title (functioning as title I prefer) format, the computer should pick up the faux title as well.

    4. AnonAnalyst*

      I ran into this during my last job search because my previous job title was weirdly specific and fairly meaningless outside of my organization (not anything cheesy like “Customer Support Ninja” but just oddly specific to one area of the organization that wasn’t obviously transferable). What I ended up doing was adding a parenthetical after my job title summarizing overall what the job was. In your case, I might have put something like “Customer Service Representative (Technical Service and Writing).” This only really works, though, if your bullet points back up the parenthetical.

      But yes, don’t list your job title differently. My terrible graduate school career services center originally convinced me that that was fine to do to properly convey what the job was, and it ultimately only led to angst that I would eventually lose out on an awesome job when they ran a background check and came back with a different job title (I didn’t, luckily, but it totally could have gone that way).

      1. Terra*

        I like this idea, thanks! My school career center also encouraged us to edit our job titles on resumes to “promote clarity” with the idea that as long as you didn’t put it on a resume it wasn’t lying. It sort of made sense for differentiating positions within a department such as the “head” CSR being addressed as such at work but not on their checks. Since I found out my resume got dropped once for not having the specific “Technical Service Rep” keywords I got a little paranoid about it!

    5. Development professional*

      One thing you might try is giving a descriptive heading to the section that includes this job. Instead of just calling “Experience” call the whole section “Technical Service and Writing Experience” – even if that section is only this job. That gives you the opportunity to characterize it in a really stand-out way, without compromising your integrity on your actually job title.

    6. Audiophile*

      I’ve been told something somewhat different, by an HR person at a large corp. I’ve basically had two jobs where the title was Receptionist. So I was looking for work outside that and was told by this HR person that I should change one of them to “front desk” op or something similar, otherwise I was backing myself into a corner.
      I never had any issues with listing the title differently. I’m no longer in that job, but I regularly got interviews and just explained my role. No one ever asked “is this your actual title?”

      1. Artemesia*

        Receptionist and ‘Front Desk Op’ seem equivalent though. Customer service Rep and Technical writer are two different jobs — it will look like lying.

  68. Want Bagels*

    Just wondering whether anyone else has experienced job hunting while very pregnant. My current job is fine, so I can be picky at this point, but I would like to change it up. I had an interview yesterday and I’d let them know in advance since it’s, well, very obvious at this point (7.5 months) and I didn’t want it to be a surprise when I walked in!

    Would I be crazy to change jobs at this point though? Would they be crazy to hire me? (I’m director-level in a field where there tends to be lots of demand.) My current maternity leave benefits are crummy, so losing those wouldn’t matter that much. Looking for some outside perspective :)

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      That’s really tough. It may depend on how much leave you are planning to take. I once had someone apply at 8 months pregnant who would have delivered 2 weeks after starting the job, and wanted 4 months off. We are too small for FMLA, so that was a no-go. I mean, I could have hired her pregnant, but she certainly couldn’t take a long leave right after starting.

    2. Thinking out loud*

      At 7.5 months, I’d assume you’re looking for jobs where you would effectively be starting after you come back from leave – the search/offer/acceptance phase normally lasts a month at the minimum, then you’d have a two week notice, so you’d only end up with about two weeks of work before maternity leave.

    3. AMT*

      it’s really tricky, but possible. I decided to go back to work right after I got pregnant with my second kid, when the first was about two, but I was looking for only part-time work (office work, which is near impossible to find!) I finally got an interview when I was about 6 months pregnant. I didn’t mention it beforehand (though I went though Accountemps as I’d been having no luck on my own finding openings, and they knew but the employer didn’t). Anyway, it worked out for me, though I hadn’t expected it to. The owner of the company was visibly surprised when he saw me, but he was also desperate (bookkeeping position had been vacant for two years, they were in a real mess!). So I don’t think it’s crazy to be looking right now, I think the question is when you want to start? If you want to start now and take leave that’s different than saying you will start in 4 months when your leave is over or whenever. However, the job search could take awhile, so if you don’t get any interviews until next month when you are 8.5 months pregnant you’d probably have to say you wouldn’t be able to start for three months or however long you need. But go ahead and start looking!

  69. ExceptionToTheRule*

    I need to vent. Our annual, industry-wide regional MAJOR AWARDS ceremony is coming up on Saturday and people in my company has been nominated for 15 awards. Our boss put out an offer for people to attend the ceremony and he ended up paying for a table of 10. There are 11 people who want to go and it’s too late to purchase a single ticket for the 11th person, who would have to sit at a different table by themselves anyway. So our boss sent out an email asking for someone to volunteer not to go to the MAJOR AWARDS ceremony, but it turns out that the 11th person is someone’s spouse, not an actual nominated employee. Several people are more than slightly annoyed that they’re being asked to recuse themselves from a party they want to attend so that someone’s spouse can go. Everyone’s pretty much like: “Just tell Bob his wife can’t go” and be done with it. Why is this so hard? /vent

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That’s ridiculous. Bob’s wife should not go. I wouldn’t want to anyway, were it me, if I had to sit alone by myself while my husband sat at a table with his colleagues.

    2. Charityb*

      I bet Bob’s wife will be super-disappointed to hear that they might not be able to eat rubber chicken and listen to long-winded speakers try to make Teapot Handle Glazing sound like the most important and critical industry in the history of the human race. Seriously, shouldn’t it have been a clue if none of the other attendees needed a ticket for their spouse??

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      UPDATE: Boss has decided that the person not going to MAJOR AWARDS ceremony is: Boss. Which, if he isn’t going to tell Bob’s spouse to not go, is the rightest thing to do.

  70. Oh no not again*

    Argh! How is it possible for a reasonably intelligent person to not know the basic functions of a computer when they’ve been using one for three years? Telling them the same thing over a dozen times PER PROBLEM has worn my patience thin. I put my foot down and demanded that if I help, everything I show has to be written down. By them. I got my own stuff to do. What’s so hard about taking the initiative to learn something so that one can better do their job? Every interruption (several a day) takes away from my own work. Managers, please recognize when an employee is taking up way too much of their coworker’s time with things they should already know how to do. I’m getting help with helping out now because I spoke up. Gah! Been going on too long and I just had to rant!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “please recognize when an employee is taking up way too much of their coworker’s time with things they should already know how to do. ”

      But we often don’t know unless someone tells us. We’re not omniscient!

      1. Oh no not again*

        Well, its obvious in our office because the supervisor is in the same room. “Oh no not again, come back here!” is said multiple times per day. I understand not everyone has the same setup, but the obvious cases, ugh. When you see it, speak up please.

    2. SnowWhite*

      This. I am having this at the moment.

      However, everything is easy once you know how to do it. I would speak with your manager, let them know how much time this is taking.

      Or, if you don’t want to go down that route, take an hour – write a step by step guide, and refer them back to the guide next time they ask the same question.

      1. Oh no not again*

        Sorry you’re dealing with it, too. I did talk to my manager a little about it today and they’re helping this person out to give me a break. Writing a guide is a possibility. Something needs to happen. I might be able to do it in a couple of weeks.

    3. Not Myself*

      No joke! Teaching a coworker who has been using computers for decades now how to select a line of text – click and drag over the stuff you want – was just incredibly startling.

      There’s other stuff too, like being able to keep a browser open while doing something else, that I just can’t fathom someone not getting. Especially given the fact that she’s been doing tasks requiring a computer for at least the last decade…

      1. Oh no not again*

        Lol, are you me? Properly placing the cursor and highlighting the text to copy and paste it elsewhere was the lesson today before I couldn’t take it any more.

        1. Not Myself*

          I’m sad that there’s more than one of us in this situation… best of luck, doppelgänger friend.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I worked with a person who made it clear that she had no intention of learning how to use her computer. Every 15 minutes there was a question. I kept losing my train of thought. I started saying, “You asked me that last week/yesterday/whatever and what did we decide was the best way to handle that?” When she asked me the same question more than once, I made her work at the answer. I also said things like, “What have you tried so far?” When she answered, “nothing”, I would reply, “Okay, you need to try to find an answer on your own first, then come back and tell me what you have tried.”

      The next step in this story was that it was extremely painful to watch her struggle. I had to remind myself that I could not let her walk all over me. Fortunately, a man I worked with kind of supported me by pointing out that he noticed she was asking me something every 15 minutes. I knew I was not off base.

  71. Catherine*

    I stumbled upon this site, and this wall, rather by accident. I am so glad that I did!

    Here is my question: I was a stay at home mom for more than 10 years. My younger son was born with several severe Congenital Heart Defects, and I made the decision [which I do NOT regret, by the way! :-)] to stay at home, and raise my children. The CA Bar Exam isn’t going anywhere (I earned my JD back in 2004); my children needed me NOW. That being said, my last experience working in law office/legal capacity was also in 2004.

    How should I explain this lengthy absence from the (legal) workforce? I am presently employed, part time, in a completely unrelated field, and I desperately want to resume my legal career. I wasn’t going to put my present employment on my current resume, since it isn’t at all related to what I wish to do (unless I should?!?!). Also, what are your thoughts about putting “Stay at Home Mom” on my resume, and listing some of the tasks that I dealt with in that position (child with complex medical needs, husband on two deployments, etc)???

    I really don’t know what is the best route, here. I don’t know who will be reading my resume. One person may well empathize and understand that particular job; another may find it to be a BAD thing, and toss my resume in the trash.

    I know that I am competing for work against individuals younger than me, with CURRENT legal/law firm experience. I want my resume to stand out, in a GOOD way, not a bad one! LOL!

    I truly appreciate any and all feedback (even negative ones, since I want a completely unbiased opinion!)



    1. Katie the Fed*

      Cathy – you should explain it in the cover letter, not the resume. And definitely don’t list it as a job with job skills. I know it’s a “job” in that it requires a lot of you, but it’s not a “job” in the sense that someone could call your manager and get an assessment of your skills. Does that make sense?

      In your cover letter, I would specify that you’re re-entering the workforce after caring for a family member with a medical issue.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Oh I don’t think so at all! It’s perfectly normal, if not commendable. I would focus on “family member with health issues” though instead of “stay at home mom” because I would worry about being mommy-tracked with the latter wording, if that makes sense.

          1. Catherine*

            I REALLY appreciate your input, Katie! Also, should I list my CURRENT employer on my resume? It’s a COMPLETELY different field, and I’m not sure if it would be pertinent? I also am concerned about how I will be viewed by the reader–Why is someone with a JD working in the pet food/supplies industry?! I am a salesperson. I took the first job that I was offered after my divorce, and am not so proud as to say “I don’t want this job, it’s not commensurate with my education level.” I needed a job, fast!

            1. misspiggy*

              Yes I think so – it shows you have got back into the world of work and are able to cope with basic office norms.

        2. J.B.*

          That depends on the person. But you have to explain it somehow. But you still have kids and someone who rejects you for taking time out of work is also going to make your life difficult for things like dealing with run of the mill kid stuff. I would include your present employment on your resume, and if you have any volunteer stuff/could collect some relevant skills. For example, would you need to start continuing legal education? Any brush up on law changes? Etc.

          Best of luck!

          1. Catherine*

            I am hoping to sit for the CBE in February, 2016. My studying is also allowing me to brush up on the law! LOL! I am trying to find work as a law clerk. I know that CA requires that paralegals be certified, and I am NOT going back to school for a year, for that certification! I will be paying on my current school loans ’til the cows come home!!! Most people applying for this same type of work will most likely have more current experience with the technical aspects (filing documents, online research tools, etc.). When I last worked in a law firm, electronic filing of documents was just being started, and the online research tools were Westlaw, LoisLaw, and Lexus-Nexus. I’m not even sure if those are the current tools being used?! I feel like a dinosaur!

        3. CrazyCatLady*

          Plus, if they’re the kind of employer that would reject you based on that, do you really want to work for them anyway?

    2. Sualah*

      I’m not a manager or in charge of hiring at all, but I would think the current job would be a good thing–it shows that you’re used to working a set schedule, you know how to deal with coworkers, you have an idea of how office norms/equipment have changed since 2004, you’re in sales, so you get along with people…I guess I can’t see how that would be a negative. And employers usually seem to prefer to hire someone who is currently employed!

    3. just laura*

      Since you might be new to the site: search for stay at home mom or similar terms– there are lots of older posts addressing this issue. Good luck!

    4. Aussie Teacher*

      Hi Cathy,
      I’ve just re entered the work force after 5 years as a SAHM. My most recent job was as Enrolments Officer (volunteer) for a local playgroup and I listed 4 achievements from my time there (streamlined existing processes, took back duties that had been shared out to other positions due to workload concerns, created a social media presence (FB and website) which generated steady traffic and increased awareness of our playgroup etc).
      It didn’t have anything to do with my field (teaching) but it showed I was back in the work force doing /something/.
      Your cover letter is going to be where you sell yourself. You need to tell them (through examples) why you’d be so awesome at their job, as well as briefly mention that you were caring for a family member with health issues, but that you’re looking to return to your field. While searching for the right job, you’ve been working as X (unrelated field) to pay the bills, and you’ve kept up with current practice in your field by Z (reading publications, doing professional development, volunteering in your field, networking etc – anything you can point to).
      Hope that helps!

      1. Aussie Teacher*

        PS There was a mum on AAM a while back who DID use her experience caring for a special needs child in her cover letter, but she had specific achievements to point to – I’m hazy on the details but I think she got involved in advocacy at the state level for that particular disability or something that was very impressive.

        Does anyone else remember – was it Jamie or am I misremembering?

  72. SnowWhite*

    Urgh, I have a problem I don’t know how to solve – and I’m stubborn so refuse to leave my current role because of it.

    I work in a standalone HR role, and report directly into our CEO.
    It is a small company and we have a tiny admin team – so work tasks overlap e.g. alongside HR I do social media, marketing, written communications and database management.

    The problem I have is: when working on tasks, our Admin group of 4 seem to have separated into a sub-team and split all tasks 3 ways and seem to only get the smaller tasks. I get the complicated larger ones, and when I ask for support the eldest in this sub-team makes statements like ‘well the tricky thing is looking for the images’ (context, the team of 3 were looking for 10 images – I was asking for support writing 200 project copies where I had not received the information from the sub-team 4 months later).

    The eldest of the sub-team has taken to picking apart my work and cc’ing senior management to strange requests – such as putting articles which are completely irrelevant to our organisation and social media plan. When I explain that although it is is a nice article but irrelevant to the package I manage, she will continue sending her ‘ideas’ and challenging why they are irrelevant and making statements not directly saying I am not doing my job but the connotation is still there.

    I am talking everything I do, I turned around 200 project copy in 2 days to hit the deadline – her response? She feels it is too short and insufficient information, yet the copy is based on information she has given me.

    I ask for help, she says there is no information until I send the completed product – which is then the information I am looking for is found and almost always means my work is now incorrect and I have to repeat multiple times.

    I don’t know what to do, when I write down all of the things she picks at I feel like I am being petty – but the constant battle is really driving me down and I don’t know how to handle it. I can’t go to my CEO because how small the individual occurances are, but when it happens on a daily basis it is making me feel physically ill.

    I feel like I can not do anything right, my work is never good enough and that I have to constantly repeat my work. This woman is so nice to other employees that I feel totally alone and isolated, when mentioned to the Office Manager (another member of the sub-team) she says ‘I’m sorry that you feel that way’.

    At the moment I feel like I am fighting a losing battle, am completely demotivated and just feel awful.

    1. SnowWhite*

      Being the eldest doesn’t hold any difference to me – just a way to separate the team members.

    2. J.B.*

      Who decides on the breakout of tasks and why? If things are really unbalanced you may need to approach the CEO about getting the necessary support. Or maybe to separate yourself from “the admin team.” Your role seems to require specialized skills.

    3. J.B.*

      And I should explain better, go to the CEO and explain the pattern. This happened over and over and it was a problem in the following ways. Is the woman truly senior to you?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Sincere question- why do you want to stay here? Yes, it’s important because your reason why is what motivates/drives you to cope with these Mt Everest size issues. So it should be a really good reason. “Because I am stubborn” is not a strong enough reason, but it is a good way to get into ICU or an early grave. These things can eat up our insides.

      Who assigns the work?
      Is the Nit Picker your supervisor?
      Does your boss realize you are not being given what you need to do your job?

      Your last sentence- people have left jobs for LESS than this. What would have to happen to make this situation turn around for you? What would your job look like?

    5. misspiggy*

      I would ask the CEO for clearer lines of accountability, because work is being slowed and made more inefficient by the current setup. Who can assign work to you; to whom can you assign work; does anyone need to review and approve your work, and if so who (one person)? If that changes from project to project, get those three things clear from the CEO at the start of each project. Politely ignore all other inputs or critiques.

      1. misspiggy*

        Oh, and if others won’t go along with a clear accountability approach, let work fail and be very clear with the CEO about why.

  73. Not Myself*

    What do you do when you bring a serious, time sensitive, compliance problem done by a coworker to that person, and she refuses to correct it? We’re on the same team, but I honestly think she resents me bringing it up because she’s been doing this stuff for 25 years longer than me.

    I’m not wrong about the problem, by the way. It’s cut and dry, should have been obvious to her, quick to fix, and really could become a Very Big Problem.

    1. Mike C.*

      Escalate. If we’re talking about capital C Compliance here, follow your QMS and escalate until the problem is resolved.

      1. Not Myself*

        Oh, I did in this case, but I hate taking everything to management. It makes me feel petty, even though I’m not. What about ways to convince the coworker that this thing really does need to be their priority? Given the seniority differential, I’m concerned that this will happen again.

        1. Mike C.*

          You’ve already tried that route and it didn’t work. You don’t have the power or leverage on your own, so you need help.

          The thing is, you feel like you’re being petty because you see yourself as the aggressor here, but you’re not. Your coworker could have followed the QMS or corrected the mistake after being told but they didn’t. That leaves you with no further choice.

          Things like not being compliant will put the business in danger and depending on the industry will put lives at risk as well. You aren’t tattling, you aren’t being petty, you’re speaking up because you see a problem and worry that it will happen in the future.

        2. Bend & Snap*

          That’s your boss’s job. Did you explain that you brought the issue up and she refused to correct it?

        3. periwinkle*

          Issues that impact compliance are never, ever petty. Slacking on complying with compliance is a fireable offense at my company. Loop in management.

  74. Mike C.*

    Ok, this is interesting timing.

    So I just found out I have an interview on Monday for an internal position/promotion. The question is, how do I dress without giving it away too much?
    Normally, I wear nice jeans/polo shirt, but I should at least bump that up to a button down shirt/slacks. If I go full suit/tie I’ll be more dressed up than upper management, even though that’s the traditional interview outfit.

    Counterpoint – I’m not sure that I’d mind folks knowing I was being interviewed elsewhere within the company. It’s common as all heck to move around, and my manager has known all year that I’ve been wanting to work up towards a promotion and nothing has happened in that area so far. So maybe I shouldn’t sweat this anyway.

    What do folks think?

    1. Buttonhole*

      Wear your shirt and slacks- mirror those on the level you are aiming at. Care more about the impression you make on your interviewers than with your colleagues.

    2. AnonPi*

      I just had this situation and didn’t want anyone in my group finding out I was interviewing for a job where I currently work, and I knew the interview clothes would tip them off. So I wore my “interview shirt” with jeans, then changed pants/shoes a half hour before the interview, and changed back when I was done. Of course the building I work in is different than the building the interview was held, so this worked for that situation. If you’re just in one office building that may be more difficult. If its a lot of trouble then I say just wear your interview clothes to work and forget it.

    3. Aunt Vixen*

      Wear your button-up and non-jeans, and stash a tie and possibly even a jacket (if you feel like you need to) in your car/bag/desk drawer so you can take one more step up on your way to your interview?

    4. acmx*

      late but slacks and button up shirt and good luck.

      I still expect near vertical TO videos from you, though. Or even better maneuvers…

  75. msmanager*

    My boss asked me to help her plan an office party “to improve morale”. The problem is – she is the reason morale is in the toilet!

    We have had massive turnover this year (at least seven people out or in and out since January, I have honestly lost track). Managers are not getting appropriate training, my boss’s idea of mentoring is to say “you’ve just got to figure it out” and she just does not listen to anything her team says. When client issues get escalated to her, she either tries to avoid dealing with the client at all or just does whatever the client wants to be happy, no matter what impact that has on her team or our workload. Oh and she’s hardly ever in the office because she has three children under the age of four and has been either on maternity leave, at a doctor’s appointment, or “working from home with a sick child” for the better part of the last four years.

    I don’t see how upper management can’t NOT be aware of these issues so I can only assume she’s not going anywhere. But a party isn’t going to fix anything. Sorry, just needed to vent. (And how can I get out of this party?)

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Is she open to feedback enough that you could tell her that you don’t think the team wants a party, but maybe they’d be interested in making suggestions that would improve morale?

      If not, just give people free pizza.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Tell her you are backlogged with work and she has to ask someone else.

      Or, tell her everyone is so busy there is no time for a party to build morale.

      snark/ Tell her if she wants to improve morale she will just have to figure it out. /snark

      1. msmanager*

        Ha! That would be awesome, actually.

        I ended up just giving her a vague “Oh that kind of thing just isn’t in my wheelhouse”. She looked sad, but accepted it. It’s going to be a Halloween themed event and I really hope that does not mean we will be expected to dress up.

  76. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I have a job offer of Senior Teapot Writer starting in 2-3 weeks. I haven’t given notice at my current job because its contractors may be moved onto new bridge contract into Role A. However, after the quasi-interview session for Role A, I was told I’d get a contingent offer soon—but its been 4 days after the interview session—and nothing. Still waiting.

    Also, I went to a different interview session for Role B that involves working on that bridge contract, except with potentially 15% more pay. It went really well and the interviewer knew about/asked about impending offers, so he knew to expedite the process. That was last night. So, I emailed a second copy of my CV to him as he requested, and still waiting.

    What do I do? Have the offer of Senior Teapot and hold on to it? Or get rid of it in exchange for uncertainty? I’ve already checked in enough times so I can’t risk looking annoying at this point by bugging the interviewers more.

    At this point—accept the Senior Teapot offer, and one week before the role starts, give notice if the other 2 roles don’t work out? Advice? :S

    Tl;dr: 1 solid offer/starts in couple weeks but 2 other (potential better) offers loom in the (uncertain) distance

    1. fposte*

      This doesn’t sound that much changed from last week; I’m totally with Dawn. You have a good offer for a job you think you’d like. Take it.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks. Yup.
        Actually, it seems like the current contract expires next month (mere few weeks) and the bridge contract and other contact is stalling (and annoyingly so).

        I promised myself that if I don’t hear back from said contacts by Weds, I’m giving notice and getting out. (Except our division is chronically understaffed, 4-6 people, plus most are away on a work site)…this should make for a creative *cough*chaotic* next week :S

  77. Lightning Fast*

    So I think I am going through an unusually fast hiring process with a would-be employer. Timeline goes something like this:

    * Last week (Wednesday?): Job opening was posted
    * Friday morning: I applied for the job
    * Friday evening: I got an email asking me to take an assessment for the job, which I of course did
    * Monday: Just hours after I turned in the assessment, they set up an interview
    * Tuesday: First-round interview
    * Yesterday: Second-round interview. After asking a few questions, he spent about 8-10 minutes talking about the job, the organization, etc. They brought up the offer letter (they said something “will be included in the offer letter”). They also asked for references.

    But here’s the problem: They specifically asked for a reference for an employer from a few years ago… for a job from which I was fired.

    I can understand wanting to hire somebody ASAP, but this is kind of quick, no?

    Also, I’m 95% sure Alison has talked about this issue of references from a job from which a candidate was fired… but I can’t figure out where and when she mentioned that.

    1. Krystle*

      Just curious, why would you include a reference with your CV if you were fired from that job and are afraid of what might be said? Or am I misunderstanding? Did they somehow find out that you were fired from a job a few years ago and want to talk to that employer?

  78. Real Estate*

    Any real estate agents out there? I’m thinking of getting into the field and would love some advice! Also what are the general personality aspects you need to be a successful agent?

    1. Florida*

      I have never worked as a residential salesperson but I have worked in other areas of real estate.
      You need to be a self starter. It’s commission based so you only eat what you kill. Sometimes you will do a lot of work and get paid zero for it. You have to be willing to accept that that is part of the job. You have to be willing to make cold calls and talk to a lot of people you don’t know.

      That’s what I can think of right now. All of the real estate type things you will learn in the job. In Florida, about 13,000 new people get a real estate license each year. A lot of people go into the field and a lot of people get out.

      Most everyone has a horror story about a realtor, so if you are good, you should be able to get a lot of referrals. I think the skills that make a good realtor are the same as a customer service job.

      Did you have any specific questions?

  79. HigherEd Admin*

    I am SO excited. About a month ago, I interviewed for a job I really wanted at a company I really liked, but didn’t get it. Between now and then, something happened and the position is available again. They’ve reached out to me to re-interview. I can’t tell if I’m the only person they’re interviewing, but I’m glad they’ve reached back out to me. My question is this: Should I or could I ask why the position is open again, and if so, how do I phrase it without coming across as simply nosy? (What I’d really like to know is if they hired someone and realized it wasn’t working out, what wasn’t working and how can I avoid a similar circumstance?)

    In other news, I had an abhorrent interview yesterday. The hiring manager was a jerk who confused “being direct” with “being mean.” I interviewed well, but know that I could never work for him. Bullet dodged.

    1. Bagworm*

      I had a job offer once that I declined (long story on why) even though I was interested in taking it. Three months later they called me and asked if I was still looking and if I would re-consider their offer. I definitely asked why it was open again so soon. I think that’s a reasonable question and important information for you. (Although, don’t be surprised if you get a relatively vague answer but you can probably at least find out if the original hire left on their own or was fired.)
      Good luck!

  80. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hey y’all — there was a long string of about 30 comments all discussing the weather and the dreariness of the day at the very top of the page, which I removed because the intent of the Friday open thread is to discuss work stuff (and because people already find the length of these open threads daunting). This isn’t an attempt to chastise anyone (and I like that people here like talking to each other that way); I just wanted to explain where it went.

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      I saw it. I really appreciate you deleting it. If it’d been further down it would have been ok.

      Apologies in advance, but its been beautiful in the UK this week ;)

  81. InterviewFreeZone*

    Who else is waiting on the “final answer” from a job interview on this rainy Friday? Would love to commiserate and wish you all luck :-)

  82. Florida*

    I’m considering a job that require a significant commute – longer than I’ve ever had. I’m wondering what was the longest commute everyone has ever had? Also, were you driving or was it public transportation? Because that definitely affects how you deal with the commute.

    For me, the longest commute I’ve ever had was about 30 minutes and I drove. Fortunately, it was at odd hours, so I never had to deal with rush hour traffic.

    1. Ally*

      My commute is an hour and 15 minutes long and I drive, then take the train and a subway at rush hour. It’s a nightmare sometimes (train gets cancelled or delayed, weather issues), but I mostly don’t mind it, gives me time to relax before I get home.

      1. Catherine*

        My commute for my current employer can range from 40 minutes, up to and hour and a half. The fact that my work location is only 17 miles away is completely irrelevant; we’re talking about Southern California traffic, here where commute is measured by TIME, not DISTANCE! LOL!

        Best of luck!

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      My longest was 1.5 hours each way. I drove to the bus station, then took the bus, then took the train from the bus. I read the whole way, so it wasn’t too terrible, but I also had zero free time in the evenings.

    3. Charby*

      My longest commute was from Dumfries VA to Baltimore MD, about two hours each way driving. It lasted for about two months. I don’t really remember any of it to be honest. All I remember is that when I got home I would fall asleep immediately and not wake up until 5 am the next day.

      I think people understate the negative impact of long commutes on their lives. If you’re commuting two hours one way, and working for 8 hours a day, that means you’re basically spending about 12 hours a day either at work or going to work. I’m not saying that there aren’t people who can’t handle that long-term; heck, I bet there are people who love long drives who would actually prefer something like that. For me I found it nearly unbearable (especially of course the traffic) and it was a major factor in my career path from then on. I don’t mind putting in long hours at work but I never want my commute to be half as long as my time spent in the office and twice as long as the time I spend with my family in the weekdays.

      1. Florida*

        This has been helpful. Thanks everyone.

        I think I could handle an hour or two if it was public transit because I could read the whole time. But public transportation is a joke down here, so I would have to drive.

    4. Not Karen*

      45 minutes driving, 30 minutes public transit

      Last Friday the bus was 30 minutes late so technically my commute was 1 hour.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      Having a commute is like having a part-time job on top of your full-time one. But, if you have to do it, then you have to do it.

      I took a train for 3 years and then later I drove for almost 6. The drive entirely depends on traffic/weather. It once took 3 hours to get halfway there before I chucked it in and went home, called in PTO (there was nothing going on at work for me to do anyway). Or, at 1am, it took 45 minutes. I couldn’t take the train, as the location was out of the downtown core in a shady area and I frequently worked late at night.

      So, my suggestion is: can you flex your hours? Come in at 7am, leave at 3pm? Or come in for 10, leave at 6? Because it’s not the driving that will drive you insane, it’s the traffic. If you can avoid rush hour, it’s much better.

      My other suggestion is that you find something you can do in the car. Audiobooks, podcasts for example. Something you can pause, check the traffic report then get back to. Radio is OK but it can get annoying. If you always wanted to read the Jobs biography but never had the time… with an audiobook version, you could listen to it during the commute — whether you drive or take a train.

    6. AnonPi*

      My current job is 35-55 mins depending on timing/traffic (coming in at 9 vs 8 can save me as much as 20 mins). I grew up in a small town where you had to drive to the nearest city about 30 mins (often longer) to get to anything, 45 mins to get to college, so I’m kinda used to commuting. I think that effects a lot on commute tolerance, if you grow up with it as a normal thing, then it’s not such a big deal later in life. That said I hope to eventually move/get a job where my commute is 30 mins or less.

      Much more than an hour, I think I’d question taking it, especially if you’re not used to it. I think you’d get tired of it quickly. If you can take public transport that may mitigate it a bit if you’re the type that can read/work/whatever while riding a bus/train. Is it a job you could work from home at all? If you could do that even one day a week/every other week, that would help offset it. I try to w-f-h at least once a month and I can’t tell you how great even that little amount is, it helps a lot.

    7. Ad Astra*

      My longest commute was probably 35-45 minutes each way (always seemed to take longer to get home than to get to work) and I drove. Now my commute is more like 20 minutes and that’s where I’d like to keep it. I would only commute 45-60 minutes for an incredible job, and even then I’d consider just moving closer to the office.

    8. Calacademic*

      1 hour 20 minutes door-to-door, all public transit. Part of it is on a coach bus, which I would highly recommend as a much much much more pleasant part of the journey than the local subway.

    9. Nerdling*

      9 miles, one bus + Metro + walk, approximately one hour each way. More in bad weather.

      I did that for about 18 months, and it really only worked because I flexed my hours to avoid the very worst of rush hour (working 7:30-4) and didn’t have a hugely active social life. I worked with people who commuted 2+ hours each way every day, and I honestly don’t know how they did it. I saw not a lot of my now-husband for the nine months he lived up there with me in the evenings, but it was just the two of us, so that wasn’t a huge deal. With a family now, I wouldn’t want to do it again.

    10. themmases*

      I currently have a commute that is 45-60 minutes each way by public transportation. I’ve had it for about 15 months and I’m really looking forward to it being over. I did it because my partner and I knew my grad program was only 2 years and that we would definitely be moving at the end of it, and we were really happy with our existing apartment (especially the rent since I would no longer be helping pay it).

      I think my commute would be totally unbearable if I had to drive that amount. I get to walk for part of my current commute, and for the rest I can read (for fun or for work) or just stare out the window at the pretty architecture and Lake Michigan. When I had a driving commute that took a similar amount of time, I was ready to crack after a few months. I would be unlikely to ever commit to a commute of this type again unless I knew it was for a limited time.

      A big part of it for me (maybe because I’m a grad student) is whether I can work or not. My commute is of limited value to me because my work involves programming, which I can’t do on the train, and there is really only so much I can or want to read for work. If I do need to read something and it turns out the train is too crowded to sit, I basically feel like my fellow passengers/CTA/god are stealing potentially productive time from my life. There’s very little work you can do from a car, and none you really should do.

    11. Noah*

      My longest commute ever was a 45 minute drive. The company moved offices a couple of years after I started there, basically from one end of the city to the other. I hated the long drive.

      My current commute is 10-15 minutes depending on traffic. I love it. Enough time to decompress from the workday in the car on the way home, but not so long that it is daunting each day.

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My first job out of college was in Northern VA while I lived in Baltimore County when I first started. The commute was unpredictable– some days it was 90 minutes each way, some days 45 minutes, some days it could be 2 hours. It was horrible. It was only six weeks before I moved out, but they were amazingly stressful weeks. Several years later I moved to NYC and learned to love zoning out on public transportation, even when my commute could get up to 1 hour on the subway. I got a lot of reading done.

      I wouldn’t drive more than 30 minutes now, MAYBE 40. I have a 15-minute drive against traffic and it is glorious.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I had a job that was about 30 minutes away. I remember one trip into work during an ice storm that took me three hours. Once I got to work, I was so tense I could not do any work. That same job, I drove home one night in a blizzard and it took me two hours. I never did figure out how I lived to tell that story.

    14. acmx*

      IDK if you’re in my part of the state but my longest commute was an hour in rush hour traffic on the highway. It’s about 30ish min outside of core hours (there’s always traffic). I don’t think I’d be willing to do anything longer.

    15. Charlotte*

      I had one job where I took the bus every day to work (25-45 minutes), another where I took the metro every day (also 25-45 minutes), and now I drive. Longest and shortest commute is the one I have now, since it varies between 15 minutes and an hour, depending on traffic and the time of day…on average, it’s 35 minutes. I usually talk to my family during this time or listen to music or books on CD’s from the library. My husband has a similar commute by car does the same, but he also listens to language-learning CD’s from the library.

    16. voluptuousfire*

      My commute varies. Usually about 70-90 minutes in the morning (70 without traffic, 90+ with) and about the same home. I take public transportation in NYC to and from work (express bus in the morning and train home) and I would love to find a job where I didn’t have to do that every day.

  83. Nervous Accountant*

    I’ve been feeling a little stressed out at work last few weeks; in fact every week I think of posting but then stop myself from doing so. Last month, we have a new(ish) team leader who was recently promoted, and I disagreed with many of the things he said. Plus my direct supervisor just gave his resignation, so I was a nervous wreck as to what’ll happen to me (if they’ll let me go etc).

    Ended up having an impromptu meeting earlier this week w my team leader, and he said that he was happy with my productivity and work and my general performance, and htat I’ve greatly improved on one thing that he discussed with me, but he’d like to see more improvement. Now taht my direct supervisor is leaving, I’ll be taking some of his clients and my bosses have said that this will be a good opportunity/test for me to prove myself to the company.

    All in all, it was a pretty positive meeting, I’m nervous but not so much.. but the biggest change is that I’m finally at the point where Im not fearful that I’ll be let go ASAP.

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      The reason I’m posting this is because I know I usually post negative/weird things, but I wanted to share some slightly positive stuff for now. I was reading over my blogs on another website from a few months/yeras ago, always constantly stressed out and worried….and it feels good to not have that fear for now … :-)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am so happy for you. People cannot lift our fears for us, we usually need something substantial to relieve our concerns. The best people can do is keep us bumping along until the tide turns. It sounds like your tide turned, you rode it out and got to a better place. congrats.

  84. Fundraiserfran*

    I’m finding it incredibly hard to perform the core functions of my job while I’m burned out. I’ve been at my job as a fundraiser for 1.5 years at an arts organization that does several legally and ethically shady things (I won’t name them here for fear of identification). There are ~50 employees, and at least 10 people have told me that they’re currently job searching because of the toxic environment. 4 people have left in the last month because of the organizational dysfunction.

    Upper management has forced some pretty awful fundraising practices on the team. I’ve pushed back as much as I can but it’s exhausting. The donors are amazing people and I feel like I’m forced to lie to them about the organization’s impact for the sake of donations. Also, if the donors knew the way they were talked about by upper management, I can guarantee that none of them would donate. Coworkers have told me that my predecessors have had the same problems with the organization that I do; I’m the fifth person in my position in as many years.

    My burnout has resulted in a complete inability to fundraise – I just can’t get it together to ask for people’s hard-earned money when