open thread – October 23, 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 :)

{ 1,336 comments… read them below }

  1. Lily Evans

    I applied for a job at a fairly large university a couple months ago and had a phone interview that I felt went well, but then I never heard back from them and it’s been well over two months (they said I’d hear back within a week). I’m really interested in working at this college and they usually have multiple admin type positions open across various departments. How should I go about applying to another position there? I know the standard advice is to address previous interviews in your cover letter, but what do I say when I never heard back? Should I just say that I’ve interviewed previously with the Teapot Studies Department and leave it at that?

    1. Jennifer

      I think you only need to worry about that if you are applying in the same department again. If you’re applying at the Plates Department, they don’t care about Teapot Studies.

      But in my experience , you probably don’t have a great shot if you apply at Teapot Studies a second time though…or at least after my first interview, they didn’t call me for the second. I’m sure someone passed the word along that I was missing a thing they wanted, so why bother.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I would just apply cold to those other positions and not mention anything in your cover letter about the previous positions.

    3. Sparty07

      I’ve been through the we’ll get back to you after a couple weeks due to vacations, only to not hear back a yes or no (in this case no because they never got back to me) even after following up a month after the initial email via phone and email (in case I didn’t have the correct email address).

    4. MM

      Working in post-secondary education as a manager, I’ve come to discover that the hiring process for these institutions are often atypical and can take a looooong time (months sometimes). Not saying this is the case everywhere, but it’s definitely not unheard of. I don’t think you necessarily need to address that you previously applied, as HR likely has that on file. It doesn’t hurt you either way.

    5. Audiophile

      I interviewed for two separate departments at a college, two weeks apart. No one said a thing. My applications were maybe a month apart.
      I say go for it. Good luck!

    6. LoFlow

      I at a Big10 school and get involved in some of the hiring processes. You would be surprised how nothing is centralized when it comes to hiring. After talking to many people, this seems to be a very common practice in higher education.

  2. Anon (and embarrassed) this Friday

    I’m embarrassed about this: I submitted some important paperwork on an employee many weeks later than I should have. I got it in BARELY before the last possible deadline and there was no good reason to have waited so long.

    My reason? The employee drives me crazy. He doesn’t report to me, but does need things from my office periodically. He has been such a frustration to others that recently his boss told him he’s not allowed to call the office anymore (he’s remote), he is to call his boss and his boss will relay what he needs. His boss told him if contacts us directly again, he’ll let him go.

    So frankly, when it was time to submit the paperwork, I didn’t care. I was irritated at him and I knew we had nearly 2 months before it would be an issue.

    It scares me though that I can be that vindictive! I don’t want to turn into a mean person! And what if I had forgotten about or lost the paperwork and did end up missing the final deadline? Am I becoming a terrible person?

    1. Rat Racer

      I’ve definitely been in a similar boat, battling with myself over whether to go to bat for a colleague who drives me nuts. Should I give my best shot at helping him when he’s asking for stuff at the last minute on a Friday and doesn’t show up to his own prep meeting?? It’s only human to wrestle with these questions. The good news is that it proves that relationships DO matter – something I remind myself of when I start believing that nice people finish last.

    2. Charlatan

      I think the fact that you’re worried about it means you’re less likely to continue similar things or become even more vindictive. Just remind yourself that you don’t want to be that kind of person and hopefully the next time a similar situation presents itself you’ll be able to smash it down and treat him like everyone else.

      This is not to say that I don’t appreciate the desire to get back at annoying folks in tiny ways, btw. We’re all only human.

    3. KathyGeiss

      You’re not a terrible person; you’re totally human. What you did wasn’t exactly kind but I can totally understand the drivers. That you recognize it as being vindictive shows a lot of self awareness and will help yourself stop you from letting it happen too frequently.

      I sometimes joke that if you recognize your faults, they stop being faults. Obviously that’s not true but there is a lot of power in self awareness.

      Forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.

    4. Barbara in Swampeast

      You are not a terrible person. But this is a good lesson for you, that you have the potential to do things that could be detrimental to others. Now that you know, you can be on your guard and not let it happen again.

    5. Ad Astra

      If you were a terrible person, you wouldn’t be feeling as contrite and embarrassed as you feel right now. Just do better next time.

    6. Career Counselorette

      No, you’re not terrible. I have totally done this. One thing that’s helped me to keep my craving for power and revenge in check and also stop me from ruminating on how I’m being vindictive is to give myself a short allotment of time to put the work down and be pissed at the person, and then another deadline to just do the thing (call them, file the paperwork, whatever) so that it’s not hanging over me as something else I haven’t done. Because ultimately if you miss the task and get called to the carpet for it, “I was angry at him” is a flimsy defense.

    7. Not me

      I don’t think you’re a mean person. It gives you something to look out for next time.

      If this comes up again, try to think of whatever you’re supposed to do as a chance to be better than that guy.

    8. Former Retail Manager

      Nope, not a terrible person, just human, as others said. I am someone who readily identifies myself as vindictive. (Note: I am not in management and it sounds like you may not be either, but rather just in a position that necessitates your dealing with this person in a co-worker type capacity….been there, had to do that.) My rule is three strikes and you’re out. I will deal with your ridiculousness three times, give you fair warning about your ridiculousness, and if you refuse to stop or correct whatever you’re doing, all bets are off. This isn’t kindergarten…this is life. Everyone isn’t always treated fairly and sometimes there is a reason…the offender is a difficult individual and potential moron. My advice is to CYA and don’t ever do anything so blatant as to get yourself in trouble, but if someone makes your life miserable, you are entitled to do the same in whatever small, insignificant way you can get away with. Hopefully this person’s “talking to” from the boss will be sufficient. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This person sounds like a real doozie.

      1. neverjaunty

        This is life, not kindergarten, thus “you started it” and “he did it first!” are not excuses that justify being a bad person. Most people who do petty, vindictive, nasty things justify it to themselves with exactly this kind of excuse-making; very few people believe that they pick on others for no good reason. If you want to be a vindictive person seeking excuses to punish people who irritate you, okay, but why invent a fake moral structure for it? Just own it!

        Anon-but-embarrassed, you ARE human and you are right to be concerned about doing this – and that’s why you’re not a bad person. Go forth and act petty no more, and anyway, be pretty confident that this jerk is going to get himself canned, because it sounds like he is!

    9. Anie

      I think most of us have made this kind of mistake. While not perfectly professional, it’s human.

      When I was in college, I was a member of the resource center that helped students with papers. There was also an online, unsecured drop box. Sometimes during holiday break, people not affiliated with the college would submit papers requesting help. Out of sheer boredom, I would occasionally help by going over their papers and giving feedback.

      Once, a few days before Christmas, I logged on and found a 10 page paper discussing why the writer felt gay people were lesser beings who didn’t deserve marriage rights, much less health benefits, etc. As a newly out queer, I stared at it and considered just leaving it in the inbox until my manager began working in 3 weeks. But then I deleted it.

      A friend of mine said, upon hearing what I’d done, “You’re better than that.” I replied, “I’m really not.”

      1. Jazzy Red

        I really can’t blame you for that. I’m not gay, and I’m offended by stuff like that. I might have done exactly the same thing.

      2. Isabel

        Ha! I was expecting worse as I read along – thought maybe you gave incorrect advice on bibliography-writing or something so they would get a lower grade.

        I think what you did was fine, and even professionally defensible. It’s not as if it was the only copy of the person’s work. More importantly, this was truly offensive material. The student did not merely assert political opinions that differ with your own. Deciding that groups are human beings are lesser beings is not a valid stance.

        Imagine the same paper being written about an ethnic or religious group.

      3. TheLazyB (UK)

        Someone said to me in work the other day, in all seriousness, ‘where is our special consideration for being straight?’
        Aw HELL no.
        To make it worse my closest colleague is not straight. I felt like it was an attack on her :(
        To add insult to injury she works in HR…..

        1. louise

          Oh no! I started a whole big rant but it was convoluted and I’d only be preaching to the choir here anyway. But ick! And in HR. Ick.

      4. louise

        I don’t even know how I would have responded to that. Your deleting seems like a very tame response. And there’s plausible deniability if someone ever said their paper disappeared…”Did it? How frustrating. Occasionally our dropbox system gives us fits…” Or, “our dropbox system screens for hate speech keywords and rejects anything that comes in with that…I’m sure that couldn’t be it though. Must have just been a glitch.”

        1. OhNo

          Oh, that second line though. How glorious of a response would that be? I’m getting all dreamy just imagining the person trying to explain that yes, actually, that would make a lot of sense because there may have been one… or two… or ten… pieces of degrading hate speech in there.

          I’m not usually confrontational or vindictive, but man, if I’d seen this one… Anie, you may not be as much of a perfect paragon of virtue as your friend thinks, but you are definitely a better person than me.

    10. Anna

      If you actually were a vindictive horrible person, you would have let that deadline fly on by. Not that you should let this happen again, but I think you’re doing all right.

      1. Anon (and embarrassed) this Friday

        Don’t think that didn’t cross my mind. :) Ultimately, however, I would have been in really deep $hit for that and it could have resulted in a big fine…so really, my fears for myself and my job just outweighed how much I wanted to make him suffer…

        1. Observer

          That’s another thing to keep in mind when you want to mess someone over – even if it’s fully understandable, it’s likely to come back to haunt in some way or other.

        2. Not So NewReader

          More than likely, it will continue to go this way for you, your concern for your job/future will kick in and take over what ever skulduggery you think of to do in these instances.

          For people who are a thorn in my side, sometimes, I do their work first. Just to get it out of the way and focus on the more pleasant people in life/work. While I totally understand your thinking about this guy, I also know that procrastinating is away to dwell on the situation. Decide not dwell, do his paperwork soon after it comes in and let yourself go about your own work life.

          In my work, I have some discretion over some aspects. When a person gets under my skin, I ask my boss what she thinks is fair. I do whatever she tells me. Likewise, there have been a couple times where I have helped her in the same way.
          Know that sometimes sometimes people can just put us up on the ceiling because of their actions or attitude. It happens. If you can’t find someone to bounce stuff off of or you managed to miss doing the paperwork again, ask yourself this question: “How would I respond to this if I liked this person?” And then try to do something that is close to the way you would handle it for a likable person. You are not handling it this way for HIM, you are handling it this way for YOU. You have to live with yourself and know that you are doing your best no matter what.

          No, your not a rotten person. You are a human being.

    11. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Like others said, you’re human! Nothing to be embarrassed about.

      On the flip side, I will commonly accelerate requests or got the extra mile for someone who has helped me out in the past or who is learning or who I just really really like for some unknown reason. I will handle requests from people I do not like, but I’m likely to push them a bit further down on my todo list and do only what is required, no more. I would prefer to treat others the way I would like to be treated, but I learn that treatment is unappreciated, I leave it at the door.

  3. Sunflower

    So I’m a month into my new job but still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and still have limited work to do. It feels so bizarre because we are in a really busy time and my manager is just trying to keep her head above water while I’m over here doing nothing most days. My last company was very small and training was limited- I was more just thrown into things and had to learn as I went. I’m at a much bigger company now and I can’t help but be scared that I’m going to screw something up at all times! I’ll be CCed on emails and think ‘I think I know how to do this- but would my boss rather I sit back or do it and possibly be wrong.’ So I’m letting her know I’m here and can do anything she needs me to do. I guess I’ll just have to stick it out the next 2 weeks until we’re through the busy time and hopefully I’ll get more hands on training. Any advice on how to get through this time? Is there something else I should be doing?

    1. Window Seat Anon

      Hi Sunflower. I’m in a pretty similar situation right now, only I’ve been here for 6 months. I am getting training, it’s just going very slowly. I think as long as you’re clearly communicating with your manager that you’re there, you want to help and you want to learn then that’s all you can do. Then it’s on them to get you the training you need and work to do.
      I think part of the reason my training is going so slowly is that the one trainer has 4 of us to mentor/teach and one is out of state; so sometimes she has to travel to the other office. Plus we are all at different levels so sometimes she forgets who she’s taught what to yet. But this office is definitely a change from the one I came from. They work meticulously slow here.

      Anyway, yeah, just keep letting them know you’re there and hopefully they’ll give you more. :)

    2. Charlatan

      Do you have any peers that you can ask for information or offer to assist while you wait for things to slow down for your boss?

    3. Bowserkitty

      I’m in the same boat, Sunflower!! I’m closing my third week today :) I personally think you’re doing the right thing just asking if there’s anything you can do. They understand you don’t want to just be twiddling your thumbs!

      My previous job of three years was very toxic so I’m still healing and working up to realizing that my boss is not going to freak out on me for random, undeserved reasons.

    4. CrazyCatLady

      Does she have time for a quick chat? If you’re comfortable with it, I would probably just talk to her and ask her if she wants you to start handling things you’re CC’d on, or if she’d rather wait until you get more training. And you can ask if there will be more hands on training.

      1. Afiendishingy

        Yes, do you have regularly scheduled 1:1 check ins? If not can you check if it’s a possibility? Hang in there- I think this is a very common situation and it is weirdly stressful to not have enough to do!

        1. Sunflower

          We have a weekly check in. I know there will be more training because there are trainings we were supposed to do that ended up not happening- we work in event planning so there are a lot of last minute things that come up. I’ll definitely ask her how to handle the emails I’m CCed on.

    5. Sparty07

      Why not ask if you can sit in with her while she deals with a few of these things. That way she isn’t officially training you, but you are still learning?

    6. Mike C.

      The thing about working at a big company is that there are plenty of people who can take care of an issue if you happen to screw up, and even if you do, no one reasonable is going to care because there’s always a huge learning curve when you’re new.

      So jump in where you can, and maybe look into any company training documentation while you’re at it.

    7. Rex

      A month is nothing, especially during a busy time. Sit tight, keep looking for ways to contribute, and when the busy time passes, be ready with a good list of ways you think you can engage.

    8. Cici

      As someone who’s been the manager in this scenario–desperately trying to find time to give more training and guidance to a new employee whom I was eager to get on board–it was a lot easier to find 5 – 10 minutes when the employee came to me with specific questions and suggestions for what tasks they could take on. How about when you see those emails asking for things that you think you can handle, you offer to take on that specific request for your boss? Be prepared to walk through some top level steps on how you would tackle the task so she can course correct if needed, and ask her to check your work before sending it out. This will help your worry that about the chance you might not get it right (and it’s perfectly acceptable that you might not–you’re still learning after all!). But it’s a lot less time and effort for your manager to provide guidance this way, and will show her the things you are managing to learn despite the lack of more structured training. Good luck, and I hope the new job goes well!

      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreeing with asking situation specific questions. You are just looking for inroads, so go one situation at a time. I find that I can see a situation and know that I can do steps 1-3 then steps 7-9. But steps 4,5 and 6 are rocky for me. Go to the boss and ask about those steps.

        Another good thing to do if you can, is let the boss know, “I have done X before, I think I will be okay doing it here.

        Or you can use your newbie-ness to your advantage. “I see that no one has time for A. I have learned that part. Why don’t I pick up all the A’s until work slows down that would free people up to do B’s and C’s that I can’t do yet.”

        When I supervised in a chaotic place the new hires that got my attention were the ones who volunteered for specific tasks or let me know they had done specific things before. I loved those people. It might not be fair but those are the people who got to learn more/do more while the busy times were in progress. The key for me was I knew I could do a hit and run conversation. I could take a few minutes to explain something and the person was okay with that. I would check back later, or ask someone to check in with them, later on.

    9. The Optimizer

      I once started a new job in a big financial company during the last days of March. They basically stuck me in a cube with another new hire, gave us some things to read and told us to poke around the system. Once the chaos of quarter-end was over, they fetched us and had us both doing real work.

      I would suggest what others have said – ask if there is anything you can do, try to glean as much info as possible from those CCs. You might also want to ask if you can sit with someone who is doing similar work to what will eventually be expected of you so you can observe as long as it isn’t too much of an inconvenience for them.

    10. TheLazyB (UK)

      It took me about 3.5 months to stop feeling like that :) sounds like you’re handling it right! I’m 5 mo in now and finally feeling like I have a handle on stuff.

  4. bassclefchick

    Oh, my goodness!!! I managed to snag an interview with the Transit department of my city! Holy cow, this would be a really great opportunity for me. Please send good thoughts. I’m not a very strong interviewer, so I’ll be pouring over all the interview advice here for the next 2 weeks. I don’t want to get too excited because I’ve been disappointed before. But, I KNOW that I have a 1 in 6 shot of landing this. And I got the 2nd highest score on their test. So there’s a chance!!!!!

    1. LCL

      Government job? Expect a few questions about ethics and what to do about bad employee behavior. Answers should be obvious, but you should clearly state you won’t tolerate bad stuff, you will stop it immediately and you will report it as appropriate.

      1. A Dispatcher

        Yep, also, if it’s civil service, be prepared for a possible panel-type interview with very canned questions and people writing down/scoring your answers. Which sounds nerve-wracking and I don’t mean to scare you, but just help you to prepare for that so you don’t feel even more on the stop if you find yourself in that type of interview without expecting it.

        Try not to pay attention to what or how much they’re writing or how you think they may be scoring you. Just keep going and pretend like it’s a normal interview. Some places are more flexible about follow up questions than others, but if you find yourself in one where they seem to just go from question to question right away, you can use your time at the end to ask questions to hopefully make it feel more like a 2 way street.

        Good luck!

        1. bassclefchick

          Yup, I already know it’s a 3 person panel interview. I’ve done those before, so not too scary. Just the normal interview nerves.

      2. Random citizen

        Okay, sorry, your typo made me laugh. :)
        “Yeah, I’m calling to report that a person using our transit system was following the rules. This is so appropriate!!”

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      Alison’s free e-book download for interviewing, that is really good if you’ve not seen it I would recommend it.

    3. EmilyG

      Good luck! And don’t let yourself think that you’re not a good interviewee. Maybe you’ve had weird interviewers in the past, or it’s a skill you can develop. After you read the advice on here, tell yourself that you’re *well prepared* for the interview, so you can go in with confidence. :)

    4. OriginalEmma

      Epic! Many good thoughts your way. You may need to talk about your knowledge, skills and abilities/attitude, so draw up some bullet-points (just for yourself) and prepare to speak on them if asked.

    5. Not So NewReader

      From today forward, every time you think to yourself “I do not interview well” make a correction very quickly, tell yourself “I can and I will interview well”. All the prep work in the world might not be worth a lot if our own self-talk is in the latrine. Gently and insistently, correct your own self-talk, each time you catch yourself. You know the “what would you tell a friend rule”- you would never tell a friend she does not interview well, right? You would give her pointers and cheer her on. Do this for yourself.
      You CAN get this job.

    6. mdv

      What kind of job in transit? Depending on that, I would also recommend brushing up on the technical aspects of the potential job, as well as related federal requirements… but it really just depends on what the job is!

      1. bassclefchick

        It’s mostly accounts payable type stuff. Counting the fares from the buses, processing invoices, helping with the advertising, stuff like that.

  5. quitting =)

    I’m quitting my job next week (yay!) but wanted to ask about notice periods. I’m an American (so I’m used to the idea of 2 weeks’ notice) working in another country for a non-American company that requires 2 MONTHS’ notice. I get why (they do a lot of recruiting from overseas, so their hiring process takes a long time).

    But. I’m still in my (3-month) probation period. Obviously none of you know my company specifically (I hope, anyway), but are they likely to make me work the full 2 months or less time or make me leave that day? What are some factors that affect whether or not a company has someone work their full notice period when they give notice during the probation period? I’m willing to work the full 2 months if they want me to, but I’d be dancing in the streets if they made me leave that day because I HATE THIS JOB.

    1. KathyGeiss

      Can you find out what happened with other people in your position in the past? You might not be able to if asking question would rouse suspicion.

      But, I’d prepare yourself for both options. Be sure you’ve organized your personal stuff at your work space in case your walked out that day but mentally prepare for a 2 month slog if they want you around.

    2. Another Anon

      I think it depends on the company. Some will make you stay and some will cut you loose. It seems to me that if you work in a field that is very confidential, or it’s in the best interest of the company to let you go, then they’ll probably cut you loose. If they are super busy and need you to work until they have your replacement hired/in place, then you’ll probably be expected to work the full 2 months.

      Is there anyone who you’ve seen go through this at your company? If you know of someone who gave notice, and the company let them go rather than keeping them on, then you should expect that the company will do the same in your situation.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        Depends.

        If you’re a new employee and are leaving before your first three months are up — WHY?

        If the job itself isn’t working out — they may be relieved to see that you agree with that and feel that the best way is to break the relationship shortly and quickly but allow for an orderly transition.

        When you accept a position – particularly, a PROFESSIONAL position — I have always regarded entering a new situation in good faith as giving it several months. If it’s not a good fit for you, or the company, you likely will know that in the first few months.

        But you owe it to yourself – and your resume – and your future – to not be a “floater” – and unless there is some mitigating circumstance (you’ve been sexually harassed, for instance, or family emergency, etc) people are going to look at a job stay of less than three months with a somewhat jaundiced eye.

        When I started with my current company – we were going through a period of expansion and needed people desperately — and, we would sit and go through stacks of resumes.

        When we saw someone who had eight jobs in three years, unless he/she was a private contractor – DUMP. We had one guy – in mid-20s – who had a seven-page job history. How he kept getting hired was a mystery to us, he had never stayed more than four months in any one spot.

        Even if you hate the job – THINK about “down the road.”

        1. quitting =)

          I’ve been in the “run to the bathroom so I don’t cry”/”fantasize about getting fired” mindset with this job since I started, honestly. I kept hoping it would get better, but this week I realized that I would always be working long hours on 40-hour-a-week pay (or less, since they dock people’s pay for leaving early/coming late–this country doesn’t have exempt/nonexempt, but I’m basically the equivalent of salaried nonexempt but don’t get overtime) in a job that is exacerbating some health problems I already have.

          I know it’s not ideal to quit so soon, but in addition to the internship I posted about below, I’m 98% sure that a place I was contracting with before (for about 2 years, so awhile) will be happy to have me back, and I have some other contract and freelance work in the pipeline as well.

        2. Red Stapler

          I wouldn’t want to encourage OP to stay in a job they hate, mainly because people who hate their job tend to start working poorly and getting fired is worse than quitting.

          However, I very wholeheartedly agree with The Artist here on job hopping. I hired a woman who had a huge resume for her age because it turned out she was fantastic at interviewing. Worst mistake I ever made. I found out later she’d left off at least 1/3 of the jobs she’d had, and although she was energetic, it was only about talking about her many other jobs or organizing (hiding) things. She finally got fired after there was an emergency and we found her on security camera sorting coupons for 1.5hrs before calling the owners to tell them. So yeah, no matter how good you are in the interview, if you have tons of short term jobs, I wouldn’t hire you.

          1. Retail Lifer

            I always worry about tons of short term jobs, but if the OP’s work history was otherwise pretty decent, one three month stint wouldn’t bother me. I think most of us had the experience of a job being not at all what we were told it would be.

        3. Koko

          Some fields are more tolerant of job-hopping than others. I have several friends who work as code developers and they seem to get poached/recruited away from their jobs about every 6-12 months. The industry norm there seems to be that it’s acceptable for developers to jump ship for a better offer – or the recruiters wouldn’t so aggressively be poaching each other’s candidates, knowing that they’re hiring someone who can be lured away from a job they’ve had for less than a year if the pay is attractive enough.

    3. Sunflower

      Hopefully a non american can help you out here. I would think they would want you to work out the period if they need a butt in a seat since it takes longer to hire people there.

    4. Canadian in Germany

      If you have a contract, it should say something about notice period during the probation period. I’d be surprised if it was also 2 months, because… what’s the point of a probation period if that’s the case? In Germany, if it doesn’t say anything about the notice period in the contract, then it’s 2 weeks to the day. I’d take a look at your contract and the law where you are working.

      With respect to what they’ll ask you for, that will vary.

      1. quitting =)

        No, I’ve checked both my contract and the employee manual, and both basically say that at the end of the probation period, the company decides whether or not to keep the employee in the current position and that an employee who quits must give two months’ notice. I agree with you that it feels like they shouldn’t be the same (although I’m also biased lol), but they don’t mention an employee deciding to quit during the probation period.

        1. Mike C.

          Wait, which document says you must give two months notice, and are they both contractually binding in the country you’re in?

          Also, what is keeping you there? Are they not fulfilling other parts of your contract which might render the whole thing moot?

          /Seriously not a lawyer.

          1. quitting =)

            The handbook says I need to give two months’ notice (and also that if I give less than that, they reserve the right to withhold some of my pay as damages–no idea if this is legal here or not, and tbh unless I can find the answer very quickly, it’s probably not worth fighting it because I don’t speak the language that the laws are written in and I really just want to be done with this place). The contract actually doesn’t, surprisingly enough–it only talks about the employer’s rights and requirements when

            And what’s keeping me here is that I haven’t given my notice yet. :P

        2. Canadian in Germany

          What country are you in? An acquaintance of mine here got out of giving the “contractual” notice because she said it wasn’t allowed according to the law. I don’t know the details of that for sure, but it might be worth talking to someone who understands the law where you are.

          1. quitting =)

            I don’t want to say what country I’m in just in case anyone from my company reads this (although I seriously doubt it), but there’s a pretty significant language barrier here. I don’t speak the local language very well at all, and while a lot of people know a *bit* of English (and probably don’t know any of the other languages I speak), finding a lawyer who speaks English well enough to explain things to me would probably consume too much time and energy to be worth it.

            1. BRR

              I don’t think we can give you a definitive answer. It’s primarily an American readership and with no country and without being able to read your contract or employee handbook for ourselves, we can only provide guiding questions for you to find the answer.

              1. quitting =)

                Yeah, I’m not looking for exact answers, just more tendencies (like if most people’s experiences are that people who quit during their probation periods leave sooner or work their entire notice period) and weird possibilities and issues that might crop up.

        3. Canadian in Germany

          Also, I would think that a probation period set up like that would not be legal in Germany (as far as I can tell, but I’m not a lawyer or a native speaker!). My understanding of the law here is that any shortening or lengthening of the notice period must apply to both the employer and employee. I’d have to dig into the details / call a lawyer to be sure.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      These things SHOULD be reciprocal, so if they can fire you at any time without notice during your probation period, you can probably quit at any time with no notice during that period. However, as others have said, first check your contract if you have one, but if you don’t (and I’m guessing that you’re asking because you don’t), check if there is a company handbook or something.

      But bottom line, even though you are unhappy, since you say you can work 2 more months if they want you to, I’d suggest asking how much notice they would like, then you can try negotiating that down a bit if they ask for more than 2 weeks. It’ll probably both improve the references you receive from them, and make it easier to work there during your notice period.

      1. quitting =)

        I have a contract and a handbook, but they don’t say. I agree that I *should* be able to just walk away or work 2 or 3 weeks to finish up the work they’ve already assigned to me (especially since I’d be moving during the holidays if I stayed 2 months–yeerg), but I do want to end this on the best terms possible, and if they want 2 months, then they’ll get it. *shudder*

        How would one go about negotiating a notice period, though? I’ve always been of the “2 weeks, not a day more” school of thought when it comes to giving notice except for my contract work, and that’s because I needed letters of recommendation from them to get my immigration status worked out to come here.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Oh, I think I missed or glossed over that you’re an American working ABROAD for a foreign company. It could be you’d be in legal trouble if you don’t work the full 2 months, but then your big out is if they let you go earlier. I’d say negotiate it the same way you’d negotiate anything: explain why it’s to their benefit. Tell them that since you’re still in your probationary period and the job was not going well, you’re willing to free up that position for a new probationary employee/trainee as soon as they have someone to replace you, or sooner if they prefer, but you will not stay more than two months.

      2. Jen RO

        Obviously can’t generalize to entire Europe, but in Romania it works like you described – during the three months of probation, you can quit and get fired without notice. Afterwards, it’s (usually) 20 working days for either of them.

    6. Cambridge Comma

      Depends on the country, but in some countries, ending the employment during the probation period requires no notice from either side.

  6. louise

    A few weeks ago my boss was all for me getting an assistant, but wanted to hash out some details first…now, he’s impossible to even catch long enough to talk about it and he seems to think it’s not needed anymore.

    Sigh. It’s needed.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      Can you set a meeting?

      I had a similar thing with my former boss and I had to present the information multiple times before I got sign-off.

      1. Sunflower

        I agree to set up a meeting. It’s best to just set the time as opposed to trying to squeeze it into quick conversation.

    2. OriginalYup

      Can you send an email? “Hi Fergus, I’ve given some more thought to the details on potentially hiring an assistant. I’ve written up the main bullet points for a job description. Should I send them over for you to review, or do you want to discuss the elements in person first?”

    3. Not So NewReader

      Tell him there is a trickle down process, when he is super busy, then you are super busy. His busyness is proof that you need more help. Let him know that he seems short on time to meet and discuss this and that is even more proof that another person is necessary, because there is a lot of work in your department.

  7. The Other Dawn

    I’ve had a great morning: I just really embarrassed my team with some well-deserved praise.

    Three of the four are new within the last year—one within the last month—and they’ve done such an awesome job of learning what they need to learn, being thoughtful about their work, going above and beyond without being asked, and helping to address a bunch of auditor recommendations. Aside from the usual, “Awesome job,” etc., I gave them the biggest compliment I could ever give: “You’re the reason I sleep well at night.” I don’t ever worry that something will fall through the cracks; I know that deadlines will be met, things will get done accurately and completely, and they’ll just do what it is they do without attitude or drama.

    I regularly tell them they’re doing well and thank them for their work, but I wanted to say something extra today since we have a regulatory exam starting next week; they seemed to really like that.

    1. Charlatan

      I love hearing stuff like that from my manager. It might be embarrassing to some but they need to know that their good work is recognized and appreciated.

    2. Jcsgo

      Ah, the sign of a helpful, encouraging manager! I appreciate that you added the reasons *why* you sleep well at night – the specific things your employees do that permit you to mentally rest. My previous manager would also tell me specific reasons, and it’d help me remember (and believe!) when I felt unaccomplished or discouraged. Hurray for good coworkers!

      1. The Other Dawn

        Yes, it’s awesome to have a great team. I didn’t always have that. I spent many nights and vacations worrying about what wasn’t getting done, who screwed up what, and whether I could trust the results.

    3. Afiendishingy

      Thanks for the reminder to give positive feedback! The positions I supervise are classified as part time temporary, as staff are assigned to individual clients who can end services at will. Many staff work with multiple clients. After some bad experiences, I’ve gotten very picky about which staff I put on my cases, and it is so great having people I know don’t need micromanaging! I definitely don’t tell them that enough, so I’m going to make that a priority.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Ahh, if they are embarrassed then that means they need to hear it more. That’s what I did to a group that I had. I didn’t paint the praise on everything, but I made sure they did hear me when I was talking about what I liked with their work. My reward was they worked harder and totally blew me away. I don’t understand the bosses that do not do this. If you let people know what they are doing right, they will go out of their way to more of that “right” thing.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      Best: I think I FINALLY got through to my micromanaging boss. After a couple direct but calm conversations with him didn’t work, it got to the point where I was visibly irritated. I never wanted to get to that point at work, but he straight-out asked if I was annoyed with him, and I told him and told him why. He finally admitted that he would feel the same way if someone were doing that to him. So hopefully that begins to change.

      Worst: I still work here.

        1. CrazyCatLady

          I’m impressed with myself, too! I’m getting to the point in my life where I’d rather just be direct and open and hope for the best and if someone can’t take that, it’s on them.

    2. Anna

      Best: An event that I have literally been thinking about for about a year happened yesterday and was a success.

      Worst: Other people think it was their idea first and are trying to take credit for it. Luckily my boss knows I came up with it, but I think the fact that I’m not letting other people take the credit is causing some upset with those people.

    3. Kyrielle

      Best: I fixed a bug!

      Worst: I thought the other bug was a non-issue/user error, and it’s not. Oops. So back comes the bug report and now I get to try again. (I don’t mind it coming back, and I’d like to figure it out. I’m just embarrassed that I mis-diagnosed the first time!)

      1. moss

        don’t worry… it happens… having a good attitude is important and it sounds like you do. Go you! BUGKILLER!

    4. HeyNonnyNonny

      Best: Potential great opportunity I applied to on the horizon! Keeping my fingers crossed.

      Worst: Being sick when you have no sick days. Seriously the worst.

    5. Not myself today

      Best: After today, I’m on vacation!
      Worst: We’ve had several issues over the last week that have lead to us being really really behind and I. hate. that. It won’t be a particularly relaxing break if some of this isn’t sorted before I go.

    6. Jerzy

      Best: I finished writing a thought-leadership piece that could possibly have national implications in my field, which makes me feel really great.

      Worst: A client just now decided that a product we are well on our way promoting, which has been posted online for nearly 2 months, should have gone through additional approvals. All of this was brought to our attention yesterday, and next Monday we have more than 500 people signed up for a webinar that is part of the product promotion. I also have a virtual meeting scheduled for another project on Tuesday, and the practitioner who was supposed to attend has pulled out and we’re scrambling to find a replacement. Just a lot of needless running around at the last minute, which I hate.

    7. Anie

      Worst: I had to work Monday through Sunday this week (which means I still have to come in tomorrow and Sunday).

      Best: I have next week off! I requested a month ago, my boss signed off on it, it’s been on the calendar, but my boss completely forgot. When he threw a tanty this morning, I just kinda went ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    8. Folklorist

      Best AND Worst: Work for a small magazine. Directly after a glowing first-year review from boss, (which included one of my greatest strengths: coming up with great headlines). Boss asks me to come up with a punchy, eye-grabbing headline for the cover. Cover article is about systems engineers who streamline medical facilities, leaving more time for patient care. Proposed headline: “Medical Waste Disposal.”
      Problem: Cover image is of a premature baby in an incubator.
      Boss: “Umm…you DO know what’s been going on at Planned Parenthood, right?!”
      Me: “@#$@!%@!#$#%@#! I’m SO sorry.” (Came up with a very good headline after that; we all laughed about my temporary horrible lapse in judgement.)

      1. Anna

        Review: Fails to see big picture. I lol’ed. Good eye for your boss to catch it, otherwise welcome to CNN front page! And not in a good way!

        1. Folklorist

          OMG, seriously. I’m just lucky I work with people who have a critical eye AND a sense of humor! My defense: I was ridiculously tired, having been untangling other peoples’ terrible writing mistakes all day; everything I had thought of to go with the cover was terribly trite, so I tried to forget the image and just keep the story in mind– I thought that the subtitle would tie everything together. And, just, no. No, no, no, no, no. So bad. ::Cringing and Laughing::

      2. The Expendable Redshirt

        O_o Oh dear…. I’m glad someone caught that.

        Though I’m not understanding the connection between article title and the original image. Maybe it makes sense in person? lol.

        1. Folklorist

          It was all-around fail. I was trying to connect it to the article text and then the image was, to me, just “healthcare image”. Sleep-deprived bad decision making; you’re not missing anything!

    9. A is for A

      Best: I got a lot done today, and actually only worked two and a half days this week , so that was a win.

      Worst: I have a very serious phobia of spiders, and a huge one (like 2.5 inches across) made its way into my office this morning. I’m still scared to put my feet on the floor while I’m at my desk. I keep having images of it crawling up my leg. It was caught and killed by another employee (amazing of her to do that while I stood on my desk chair in horror), but I’m just psycho.

    10. Elizabeth West

      WORST: It’s been a long week. Not too busy or too boring; just looooooooong. The weather has been nice but it’s feeling unsettled and people are starting to catch colds, etc. I wish it would just get cold already instead of see-sawing, but that’s to be expected this time of year. I never know what to wear to work on any given day. Layers FTW. It keeps starting to cool off, but then it gets hot again and I have to forego a scarf. I miss my scarves!

      BEST: I found out yesterday I don’t have to sub for front desk lunch next Friday, which is awesome because I need to leave early for an ice show. Woo hoo! I actually don’t have to do it today, either. I’m going to get spoiled. :)

    11. Overeducated and underemployed

      Worst: crushing rejection for a job I wanted that had even requested written references. I was SO disappointed, and now feel more stressed about my impending unemployment.

      Best: new prospects on the horizon, with one phone and one physical interview early next week, aND a potenting temoray part tI’m gig through a connection. Also put the kid in day care for one extra day so I could just focus on job applications instead of only having time on lunch breaks and going to bed too late, and it was really helpful.

    12. Slippy

      Best: Did the badging requirements for my new job.

      Worst: Doing technical referencing when the group you are under is so anal retentive that you cannot form a logical conclusion with referencing sentence by sentence the facts…even though they are in the preceding sentences. <–This x40.

    13. ACA

      Best: Got great feedback and many thanks regarding an event I helped organize.

      Worst: I have many indirect bosses, in addition to my primary boss. Two of them especially I think are so used to dealing with my predecessor that they don’t always explain exactly what they need – just “Can you take care of this?” or “Update this and send it back,” etc.. But having been here for only two months, I’m still learning the processes. So it stresses me out because I can never be sure I’m providing exactly what they want.

    14. bridget

      Best: I had a super productive day yesterday, and crossed a bunch of lingering tasks off of my to-do list.

      Worst: I just found out that the due dates for *several* big assignments range from December 24-28. There is plenty of time to do it all between now and then, and I can turn them in early, so now I just have to get over my strong penchant for procrastination in the coming weeks (which is easier said than done). If I fail, I’ve ruined my own Christmas weekend.

    15. Maxwell Edison

      Worst: What I thought was a potential new client is someone trying to get their book edited for free, one sample edit at a time. (I do a free sample edit of 2,000 words; this “client” had sent in a sample last month, and now is sending in the next 2,000 words under a different name and email address).

      Best: Before I got more than a page into the “new” sample, I realized it was familiar and double checked. It didn’t hurt that the scammer used the same title for the book excerpt.

        1. Maxwell Edison

          I actually didn’t reply. If they try it a third time I will come up with something scathing but polite. I’ve heard of writers trying this stunt but this was the first time it happened to me.

    16. Hellanon

      Best: Boss keeps talking about the big-ass promotion she’s got in mind for me.

      Worst: on Monday, one of our long-term department chairs died from an illness that was only diagnosed a month ago. I didn’t know her very well, but the people who worked most closely with her are just shattered – she was both well-respected and well-liked.

    17. Brett

      Best: Did not happen at work. Ran into a high-level consultant in my field (countries hire him for 4-figures per hour) at a bar, and he knew my projects, called me a hero to the profession, and bought me a beer.

      Worst: Had a state senator on a live broadcast call my work “inadequate to save lives” and accuse my boss to his face of being a liar because of it.

      1. OriginalEmma

        First I was like :D, then I was like D:

        Wow. Yup, that’s definitely best/worst material. I’m interested in learning more about what you do now!

        1. Brett

          Unfortunately, I would need an already active clearance (TS/SCI with CI Poly even) to do that. That’s part of why consultants like this guy get paid so much.

      2. Hlyssande

        That’s really freaking cool about the consultant! Go you!

        And that senator is a buttfor who needs to stfu. You’re awesome.

    18. The Expendable Redshirt

      Best: I designed a new way to visually show a Budget (aka Spending Plan) using play money and pieces of paper. The money is the same size and colour as actual money, and is very convincing. The token money is placed on sheets of paper with pictures of what the category is. For example, clipart pictures of food, shopping carts, and people eating to represent the Groceries category. It can really surprise clients when they can touch/see how much of their money goes to X. There have been a few Moments of Clarity

      Worst: I am currently out of mango juice at the office

    19. lfi

      best: boss’s boss saying “your manager and I thank god every day that you are here and we hired you”.

      worst: catching a mistake, bringing it up to manager, she not acting on it, and mistake still happens. ugh.

    20. Oryx

      Worst: I spent an hour doing research to answer a question I apparently completely misunderstood, so when I gave the info he’s like “Hmm, I actually was looking for X and Y, not X and Z.” So 1) felt like an idiot 2) the answer to X and Z took all of five minutes. I just keep telling myself I’ve only been here for 3 months, so I’m still new.

      Best: My co-workers and I spent our lunch going to Goodwill shopping for our group Halloween costume. It’s been a long, long, LONG time since I had such a good group of co-workers like this.

    21. J.B.

      Best…I have some interesting projects coming up.

      Worst…my best chance at landing a new job is probably not going to work out. I’m too specialized at this point in a subset and would need to either take a pay cut or go back to school to find something else. Even though I have good project work, the total dysfunction and “employees are morons” attitude has been getting me down.

    22. Hiding on the Internet Today

      Best: A bunch of people have written thank yous to me or my management for stuff my staff worked on. It was a good week for the performance review file.

      Worst: A new initiative I got added to at the last minute scheduled a meeting on the day I was out. For various technical reasons I didn’t check my mail or anything so I totally missed the meeting existed until the organizer sent me a reschedule with “Disappointed to not see you yesterday”. On one hand – I was on vacation and I’m explicitly told to be unavailable when I’m out, even though I usually check in anyway. And if you schedule a same day meeting sometimes things happen. On the other hand – I hate when I feel unreliable and I’m now going over all of the things I could have/should have done to prevent it. (I don’t usually put up out of office notes for single day absences – most of my work is either seconds count emergencies where getting no answer will just move to the next person who can help even if I’m just in a meeting or the bathroom OR months long slogs of projects where a day delay in response is normal. I marked myself out on my team calendar but not the company wide visible calendar – most of the time same day meeting scheduling isn’t the norm or acceptable here. Etc, etc)

      I’ll get over the guilt eventually. I hope.

      1. Hlyssande

        Don’t beat yourself up too badly. Same day meeting scheduling is always a complete hit or miss and the organizer should be aware of that.

        But yeah, setting an OOO message in the future will probably help with that issue. I’ve started doing it even if I’m gone for a half day. It’s easier than dealing with increasingly angry emails when I get back.

    23. the gold digger

      I have been helping a friend with her facebook page for her book. She is super modest and doesn’t want to promote herself. She was in the US for a reading and I suggested we do a targeted facebook ad. According to the bookstore, the interest was much higher than normal. In addition, the bookstore had ordered 165 of her books and she sold 150 of them in two hours! I am so excited for her! And so excited that we figured out an ad strategy that worked!

    24. Nobody

      Best: I noticed someone else’s mistake just in time to prevent a very big problem.

      Worst: I am working 75 hours this week and I’m so, so tired (but I get overtime, so I will get a nice paycheck for it).

    25. Anx

      Best: Having a full work-week after having to miss two days the previous week. So, full-paycheck!

      Worst: One of my local institutions is making a sweep to keep reducing the paid entry-level positions I’ve been training for and replacing them with more interns and students. I knew this was a trend, but it’s so disheartening to hear about the strategy of it all.

      1. Anx

        (also, I wasn’t just upset about having a break at work because it meant a 2 day paycut, but also because while I like sleeping in, I like my job more. I genuinely going to work)

    26. Shishimai

      My team threw together a delicious breakfast this morning. The cheer from that held me over all day.

      Go, team!

    27. NicoleK

      Best: Coworker finished a very minor task that I requested. Finally!! (it’s been a real struggle to get coworker to work on anything that I need her to do)
      Worst: Still here…….still waiting for news about a job….still waiting for interviews to materialize…..just still waiting

    28. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      Best: I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for a long list of work on my to do list.

      Worst: Having a co-worker irrationally twist my statement into a personal affront against her and her family situation. Then escalate it to the entire team within the hour. Spent the rest of Friday having my team stand around and talk about me every time I left the room. That did not feel good at all and, frankly, has burned my trust in my team pretty much completely.

  8. quitting =)

    Also, I’m not really looking for jobs yet because I don’t know when I’ll be leaving my current job (and by extension the country), but I found one (paying) internship I’d really like to apply for that closes on Monday. However, I’m confused about a few things:

    1. My ability to be reached by phone is iffy right now because I’m 12 hours off (i.e., 9am there is 9pm here, so I’m asleep for the majority of business hours there) and also because phone service here appears to be really uneven. I also don’t seem to be able to get voicemails, so if they’re interested in me and leave me a message, I won’t be able to listen to it. Would it be okay to just say in the cover letter that because I’m currently in Grand Fenwick, the best/only way to reach me is by email? Any wording suggestions? Should I still put my (mostly useless) phone number on my resume?

    2. The posting says, “People who would like to work for Teapots for Tots long term will be given preference.” Do I need to do anything besides just saying that I’m interested in working for them long term to get this across?

    3. The posting doesn’t list a start date. Is there a good way to ask in my cover letter about the start date, since I’m kind of halfway around the world right now/possibly will be here for 2+ more months, or is that something that should wait for the phone/hopefully Skype screen?

    1. Jessica (tc)

      I don’t know if it’s possible where you are, but Google Voice has been such a help to me when I was in an area with bad reception and I couldn’t get calls or voicemails. A family member was ill, so I needed to at least get VMs if nothing else, and I just gave everyone my Voice number to reach me. It worked well and I was pretty much guaranteed to get the VMs. (I’m not sure what Google Voice’s reach is, however.)

      I would still say that due to your current location, the best way to contact you is via email. My feeling is that if you can’t get voicemails, the last thing you want is for them to call and think they’ve reached you via VM–and then never hear back from you, because you never got it. I’d be inclined to leave my number off in this case (not only because of the VM issue, but also due to the major time difference so the likelihood is that you’ll miss it by being asleep or having poor reception), but I’d like to hear what others are thinking.

  9. Need advice about school issue

    Desperately looking for advice here. I went away to university in August about 3 hours away from home. My existing anxiety and depression worsened when I got there, and I had to leave mid-semester to come home, obviously earning no credit hours. I am now applying to a local university so I can continue my studies living at home. My question is, besides supplying documentation for the medical withdrawal which I received from the first university, and transcripts, do I offer any kind of explanation in the essay portion of the application as to why I had to quit, and why I am now applying locally? The essay is not required, so an option would be to submit the medical withdrawal paperwork and leave it at that. Please weigh in if you have any thought as to how I should handle this. Thank you!

    1. Calla

      It probably varies based on the university (how selective it is, etc), but in your situation I wouldn’t provide anything. You didn’t fail any classes, right, just didn’t complete them to earn credit?

      My second year of college I had a major depressive breakdown and before I finally made the decision to withdraw, I ended up failing 3 out of 4 classes because I literally could not leave even to get food most days. It was bad! So then I took a few years off. When I decided to apply to a new college, I think the most I did was include a note about how I was dealing with an untreated medical issue that was now being treated and under control. It was a fairly selective college and I still got in no problem.

    2. Monodon monoceros

      If you are not trying to apply any credits from the first university, does the second university need to know anything about university #1? I wouldn’t think they need the medical documents, transcripts or anything.

    3. Anna

      I don’t think you need to offer any more explanation than the medical withdrawal paperwork you’re already sending in. If you want to do the essay portion, focus on why you think the school is a better option for you. Example: It’s close to home (because, that IS a good thing for you) and growing up close to the school you know what it has to offer.

    4. Isben Takes Tea

      It sounds like you are not in the U.S., so I don’t know of the same logic applies, but here, the essay portion of a college application is purely a “can this candidate write okay/get a little more personal feel of the candidate” inquiry. I wouldn’t include an explanation in the essay portion unless you were recasting it in a “I had this big experience and it caused me to grow” kind of essay. The medical forms should be enough…I’d use the essay to share something about something unrelated but positive.

    5. HappyWriter

      The same thing happened to me when I went away to college. When I applied to my local college to start the sprint semester, I didn’t say anything about the previous attempt – and didn’t submit any medical paperwork. I don’t think it’s that unusual (at least here in the U.S.) for people to take a semester off, so the school may not even bat an eyelash at it.
      Best of luck!!

    6. Anon for Adm Officer

      I work as an admissions officer at a university and we see this all. the. time. Whether to provide the info or not comes down to how your transcript looks. If you have courses considered “failing” (whether that’s a failing grade, or a grade of incomplete with academic penalty), we would expect some sort of explanation for what went wrong, and the steps you’ve taken to ensure that you’ve found resources to help you succeed. Medical documents are a big part of this, but so is your ability to self-manage. If your transcript shows withdrawal without failure or academic penalty, there may be no real need to submit anything further since your medical documentation should speak for itself. That said, I would encourage you to contact the admission office and ask to speak with an admission counsellor. They can help you make sure that you are presenting yourself in the best possible light so that you have a strong case if your application moves forward to committee.

      1. Need advice about school issue

        Thank you so much for this. It was a medical withdrawal without failure or penalty, so that is in my favor.

    7. Need advice about school issue

      Thank you to everyone for your help! I feel much better about the whole situation, and am looking forward to moving ahead with my studies.

      1. Anon for Adm Officer

        Good luck! It happens way more often than you may think. Good for you for getting yourself healthy and back on track!

  10. I am now a llama

    Does it look better to work at a bigger company? Would it improve my career/resume?

    I know it also depends on experience but I’ve only worked at smaller companies (under 40 employees). I’ve seen many people get hired from larger companies and when they say where they worked, people say the names like its very impressive to work at such big name companies.

      1. Rat Racer

        Agreed. And I would think that the more important question is about the position in question (how much responsibility does it give? How much opportunity for growth is there?) and also how you personally feel about working for a Big Corporate Giant.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      I’ve also only worked for small companies and I know management is usually very impressed if we’re able to bring on someone who worked at a large, well-known company before.

    2. I am now a llama

      As a follow up, what is it like working in a larger company? Since I have only worked with very small companies, I don’t have experience with such a large environment.

      1. The Other Dawn

        I went from working a company with less than 15 employees (for 17 years) to now working at a company with 350+, which seems huge to me. It can be tough to figure out who to go to in another department when something needs to get done; it’s not a one-stop shop like it usually is at a very small company. I also have a tough time remembering that many different departments need to be involved when I make one little process change. Other than that, benefits seem to be better at a big company and there might be more perks, like an on-site gym or something like that. Also, it takes a lot more time to get to know anyone outside your own department. Processes are usually documented better and there are more resources.

      2. beachlover

        Well if you are talking major corporation, then be prepared for not be able to get things done in a hurry. More people usually mean more layers of authorizations, less accessibility to higher level mgmt. On the other hand, hopefully they have better benefits, etc. I have spent the majority of my career working for small to medium size company’s. Even now, working for a multi Billion dollar company, we still operate like a small business in the fact that if you need to get something done, you can walk thru the system and get accomplished quickly. We pride ourselves on getting a product from development to the shelf in about 90 days. However, we are heading toward a more big corporate structure, and that has definitely slowed down the process. I find myself chaffing at the bit, because I have to wait for someone to dot an i or cross a t, so to speak.

      3. Mike C.

        So you’re going to encounter more bureaucracy, more rules, more standards. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, pay/benefits will usually be better and you’ll generally have more access to more interesting things like company discounts on products unrelated to your company (I got a discount on my car because the parent company is a supplier of ours), education reimbursement and much better rates on the funds in the 401(k). You’ll also be more likely to be in an environment where the laws are followed, and that processes are in place to ensure fairness and standards in hiring and promotion. You’ll also have more room to grow professionally rather than having to hop jobs every few years. And it doesn’t hurt to have a household name on your resume.

        On the other hand, you could end up in a maze of politics if these sorts of things aren’t well documented *coughcoughcough* and you’re going to have a learning curve dealing with the culture of the company. You’re experience is entirely based on how good/terrible your local management is. It’s also difficult to make huge changes in how things work – it’s the different between steering a speedboat and a Panamax cargo ship. Momentum is a huge thing, and it’s really easy to fall backwards into “this is how we’ve always done it”.

        On the third hand, I’ll take working at a place with 150k worldwide over the 150+ family owned nepotistic hole I was previously at any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

      4. Sunflower

        I used to work in a company of 50 and now I’m at one with about 1,750. Things are done much more formally here- use calendars/meeting request pretty much anytime you wanna talk to someone for more than 2 minutes, MANY more meetings, it’s harder to identify who you go to for what. It will also all depend on the company but at mine, our dept is dispersed through many different offices and most managers and their direct reports are not in the same office.

        So far, I like it a lot better than a small company. Way more perks, better benefits, much better support. I work for a law firm but IANAL and we are offered all the same perks the lawyers get so we have plenty of admin support.

        The best part for me is that we have much bigger budgets to work with and there’s more places to get money from. When we needed support in my old job, it was a rigorous process just trying to hire a temp for a few weeks. Here we just open a new position. I don’t need to justify why we went $100 over budget. I don’t need to justify my travel costs beyond a receipt.

      5. BRR

        In addition to the above, possibly in general but especially at the lower level your responsibilities will be narrower. If you currently do A, B, and C at a small organization, there’s a good chance A,B, and C are separate roles at a big organization.

    3. Sparty07

      At a big company, someone with a manager title may be responsible for a $100M business, while a small business in itself may be smaller than that. This can cause titles to be very different.

    4. The Other Dawn

      It really depends on the industry, and the hiring manager’s experience and preferences. I’m in banking and worked at a very small company for many years. When hiring someone, I prefer someone from a small bank, because someone at a small bank has typically has more diverse experience. Rather than just knowing how to underwrite a loan, they also know the application process, the closing, servicing, etc. (I’m not in Loans, BTW.)

    5. Former Retail Manager

      Without knowing your industry or personal career growth goals, it’s hard to say with certainty, but in general, yes, bigger is better. The issue seems to be when transitioning from small to large or vice versa. There is a stigma out there that someone who has spent a long period of time in a small company won’t do well at a large company or that someone who is accustomed to a large, structured organization won’t transition to a smaller company with ease. And then there’s the pay issue, a whole other discussion, which is usually a problem when going from larger to smaller. If someone has the skillset for the position, past employer size shouldn’t matter, but in some interviewers minds, it seems to, unfortunately. You can really never know your interviewers biases so just give it your best shot if you’re looking to transition.

    6. Nom d' Pixel

      It depends on how high up you are. Higher job titles count for more from big companies, but I don’t think entry-level ones count as much. For example, my brother got in with a start up right after college and was made a VP in just a couple years. Of course, he also only had 3 people working under him. When he decided to seek employment elsewhere, he got a job at a large company but only in low-level management because that was commiserate with his experience, rather than title. However, he gets paid more now.

    7. Quirk

      Depends.

      My industry’s software, so it may vary in other fields. You get a lot of credit for having a critical role in a start-up, whether or not that start-up subsequently became successful; people understand that start-ups are hard work and assume a level of talent and drive. You can potentially also get a lot of credit for working for a large software company; working at a large company which is not known primarily for software does not impact reputation in the same way and is much the same as working for an established smaller company.

      1. Quirk

        (Obviously, being a critical member of a start-up that subsequently grew to become quite a large company is the best of all – what I meant by my comment was that being part of a start-up from the early days works in your favour even if it never became a notable company).

    8. Sunflower

      It’s usually easier to move up in big companies. I work at a huge company but I will most likely have to change companies when I want to move up- that’s common in my industry though so for me, the networking opportunities are a major plus. Everyone knows everyone else in the field in our area so if I ever want to change jobs, people either already know me or know my bosses. My company also pays for me to belong to associations and they foot the bill for any events I attend. At my small company, they would have laughed in my face if I asked for that. I’m also working with bigger budgets and numbers that a small company would ever have. I’d have to agree it really depends on your industry. I think smaller companies are great when you are starting your career since you tend to wear many hats and can learn a lot about a lot of different things(For example, it would have taken me 5-6 years to get the experience i got in 1.5 years at my last job). Once you get older and more specialized, that isn’t so important anymore so maybe a bigger company is a good jump.

    9. Hiding on the Internet Today

      The only thing I can think of that is “better” if you’re coming from a larger company that an smaller one is management chops. The experience of a “Director of Teapots” who had a staff of 500 around the world is different from a “Director of Teapots” who was responsible for 2 full time staff, an intern and the office cat. Both of them may have experience with the teapot market, teapot design, and teapot strategy, but I’d expect Director A to have a much broader view as well as much deeper management abilities.

      This bleeds a little into process creation and improvement as well – smaller companies have different things they optimize for and their processes can end up a lot less complex than in larger companies.

      What can add to the cache of a big name company is if they are known for training their staff in really solid tools or approaches, or if they are known for being a really tough environment, or if they are especially good at networking. For better or worse, some big name companies are like graduating from the Ivy League – high expectations afterward.

    10. lfi

      i recently made a jump from 600 to 3400+. on the sage advice of a good mentor/old boss, he said it’s the corporate gig that could make my resume and career. so far, no regrets. ;)

    11. Hillary

      I just went from 10,000+ employees to <200. The big company definitely helped my resume, mostly because they're very well known in my area. If I mention the Fortune 250 I worked at before the big company I get blank stares since they aren't known locally (I worked at a small office).

      I miss the resources I had at the big company – defined processes, plenty of people for backup coverage, subject matter experts and all the software tools I needed. But I really like the way I can make a difference quickly at the small company.

  11. Incognit00

    Anon for this since it’s pretty obvious if a coworker sees this. So for the past few weeks we’ve been having problems with the women’s restroom. People have been leaving poo on the toilet seat, floor…there was a smear on the wall this week that looked more like someone failed to wash their hands and then reached for the door. It’s pretty gross, and it’s been the talk of the office. Yesterday, we got an email from an Exec & HR. It stated that the smearing of fecal matter needs to stop and if anyone is found to be violating the facilities, disciplinary action will happen (not limited to termination). Oh my GOD, guys.

    1. Delyssia

      One of the most fascinating and disturbing things I’ve learned by reading AAM is that this is apparently far more common than you would think. Really.

      1. Windchime

        I was shocked to discover this as well. Thank goodness I’ve never encountered it in the real world, but I’ve heard about it often enough here to know that it’s a real thing.

        ::::shudder:::: I hope they find the offender soon. So gross.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t know if this applies to adults, but for children it can be (not necessarily, but definitely on the list) an indication of sexual abuse. It’s not someone being inconsiderate—it’s a kind of acting out.

      1. Incognit00

        For some reason it sounds like they believe this is an angry employee. Not sure why they believe this, but with the language in the email we got, and the rumor mill, it sounds like they believe this is being done on purpose.

        We just got brand new bathrooms right before this started, too.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          I don’t know anything about your organization, but even if the employee is angry, under normal circumstances a way to express that anger is not to smear feces on the wall of the bathroom. It’s not really an either/or. There’s something psychologically going on with this employee… but she could also be angry.

        2. Natalie

          In my line of work (commercial landlord), it’s usually an angry employee. We usually hear about a tense firing or layoff within a few weeks and then no more feces smearing.

      2. CrazyCatLady

        I think it’s still acting out for adults – just not necessarily indicative of sexual abuse! It does seem like either a sign of mental illness or some sort of anger issue.

        1. Not So NewReader

          If I recall correctly there is a specific illness that can drive this behavior. If it is illness driven they will just keep doing it. In some cases they will do it in front of others. Yes, try not to think about that.

    3. Book Person

      UGHHHH I don’t even understand. Are visitors coming into the building at all, or is it someone in your office? We had this problem once, and it turned out that a restaurant in the same building had left the hallway access unlocked, so a drunk patron wandered into our bathroom and made a mess of it. I can’t imagine why anyone would do this, but especially not someone who has to work there (and presumably continue to use the facilities during the day).

      1. Incognit00

        We sometimes have clients come in, but based on the time of day this seems to happen, and the male dominated industry we’re in….I doubt it’s a customer.

      1. Anonymous Educator

        Actually, I don’t think bathrooms do have cameras in the corner. There’s a reasonable expectation of privacy people are supposed to have in the bathroom.

        1. bridget

          Some do – it’s obviously asking for trouble, but places that have issues with bathroom security will sometimes put them in. Pointed at the sinks/doors, not the stalls. (although a camera right *outside* of the bathroom might do just as well, if you can narrow down the time window when the smearer struck). Although often a bad idea, it’s not actually illegal/violating a privacy right.

            1. bridget

              Yeah, that could turn “security” into illegal voyeurism pretty quick, if it’s surreptitious (and if it’s not surreptitious, then why would anybody in the building agree to use that bathroom?!)

      2. Log Lady

        I used to think that my old job had a camera in the corner, until I figured out it was a fancy air freshener with a timer, that I think was meant to look like a camera.

      3. louise

        We have a camera on the hall, but definitely not in the restrooms. I checked the footage once when one of the restrooms had been left with a serious clog. I had a little chat with the employee and he quickly found out it was neither friendly nor anonymous to just leave that for the next person to solve.

    4. Former Retail Manager

      Where I work, people have acted out by pooping in cubicles. Seriously…like a pile on the floor. WHY?????

    5. Treena

      The first week I started at my last job, I saw a dozen emails about this exact same issue!! I rarely worked from the office, so never saw any evidence myself, but it was a similar situation/tone. It was determined that while clients and employees shared most bathrooms, there was one that we didn’t let clients use and that one was ahem “defaced” just as much as the shared ones. It wasn’t as bad as the door handles but it was apparently so bad that there was no way someone could have left the mess just by using the bathroom. Shortly after I started, the emails stopped, so whatever it was worked!

    6. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

      This happened at my husband’s job too (he works at a local television affiliate). The company eventually sussed out who the culprit was, and the person admitted to it being intentional when confronted. You know how cats will poop outside the litterbox if they’re mad at their owners? This was along those same lines, Needless to say, the employee was terminated immediately.

    7. JM

      We had a similar issue! Someone actually left poop in the lobby and our bathrooms are always a mess with things other than poop as well. There was actually a toilet that was ripped from the wall. I just don’t understand how people can do this and think it’s ok.

    8. OriginalYup

      There have been a surprising number of threads and discussions about this on AAM. (If you haven’t seen, I definitely recommend searching this site so you can feel like alone!)

      I am always gobsmacked every time it comes up here. Every. Single. Time.

      1. Happy Lurker

        “I am always gobsmacked every time it comes up here. Every. Single. Time.”
        Yes to this! The stuff people will do is insane.
        It makes me think the “polite conversations” I have had to have about using the sanitary bags are totally tame.

      2. Incognit00

        I have seen them! That’s why I immediately came to post about it. I was more amazed that we got an email Memo about it!

    9. Guy incognito

      I work at a fortune 100 company, and there are signs in the bathroom stalls that say “in the interests of hygiene please do not smear bodily fluids on the walls” when I first started working there I asked if they were necessary and was told yes yes they really were.

    10. OriginalEmma

      I was congratulating (mentally) my workplace today on how clean the restrooms typically are….then I saw that a customer had squatted (feet on seat, a la primitive squat toilets) and made a huge mess. I’m surprised they didn’t break the whole thing. Oy.

    11. ScarlettNZ

      In my first job we shared a bathroom with several other companies in the same building. We had to use a key to unlock the door so it wasn’t accessible by the general public. Someone used to pick their nose and smear the results all over the walls. Without going into too much graphic detail I’ll just say that this woman had an awful lot of snot up her nose. It was disgusting.

  12. So Timely

    Hi all, I have finally realized that I need to get out of my current employment. I love the job and people I work with, but management, not so much, they are toxic. Fortunately, management is in another state, but yet they try to micromanage everything here! Yesterday I sent out some resumes and have received two replies. I am mentally ready for a change, but emotionally, I am not. My stomach has been in knots and I have felt so weepy. Any suggestions?

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      Breathe :)

      Leaving a job you love, even if you have a really good reason, is hard. Give yourself time to process your decision and grieve.

      Also, think about how awesome your new job is going to be!

      1. Anna

        The grieving process is important. And remind yourself why you wanted to start looking at other opportunities in the first place.

        1. So Timely

          Thanks, I think this will be a weekend of reflection. I finally got a hold of one of the companies that contacted me and have an interview scheduled for Tuesday! It is an Office Manager position that sounds rather exciting and 20 miles closer to my home!

    2. Nom d' Pixel

      Try being excited about the new opportunities and celebrate that you have already received replies.
      I am going through something similar. I love the type of work that I do, but our department head is also toxic (I am going to start using that). I want to stay within the company, but I am applying to another department today.

    3. Sunflower

      Have you tried to identify why you feel this way? Are you scared- if so, what are you scared of? Is it something specific or just change? If you are scared of getting into an even worse environment(I’ve had that feeling), prepare yourself with a list of questions to ask during the interview to weed that out.

      Change is scary all around, regardless of what you’re changing to. Even if you are 100% confident about a new job, you’re still gonna be scared. It’s natural. Don’t let that get in the way of making a good decision for yourself.

      If you’re scared of leaving your coworkers behind, just remember that by leaving, you are showing them that there is hope and that yes, they can too get out of a toxic environment.

      1. So Timely

        Change is always scary, the best I can come up with is: It is like breaking up with someone, there is so much I like about my job, but the little bit I don’t like is making me miserable.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Very seldom is anything totally bad. Most times there are good points about a given situation. Probably anticipating the relief from the bad parts of your job (with job apps) freed you up to think about the parts you like about your job.

          It’s okay to have two conflicting emotions at the same time. Allow yourself to feel each emotion, don’t push one emotion off to one side and ignore it. These are just emotions, it’s not like actions. Now, if you do two conflicting actions concurrently, that might cause you some problems. But emotions alone do not involve action, so there is less worry about conflict/mixed messages to others/ etc.

          Take the things you like about your job and use that as part of your “grocery” list as you shop for a new job. See if you can find other places that have those good things.

    4. Hiding on the Internet Today

      This sounds like you’re in a great spot to go job hunting! Not so desperate that you’re going to burn your bridges and quit without something new lined up, but you want to get out badly enough to put the work in to find a really good next step.

      Use this to figure out what you really want in your next position and focus your search there. You know what a good team looks like and you know what work you really enjoy doing, aim to keep those. You know what management style doesn’t work for you, make sure you avoid it.

      As for the emotional stuff, it is a bit like a break up. You get to decide when you’re done and that’s okay. You get to decide that this isn’t good enough for you, even if it could be good for someone else, and that’s great. these are great reasons to give yourself freedom.

      1. So Timely

        You are absolutely right, this is the first time in a long time that I feel in control of my job search! Thanks for pointing that out to me!

      1. onnellinen

        I’ve recently gone through a similar situation of deciding to leave a job and colleagues I really love for something new. You really hit the nail on it describing it as “not ready emotionally”. Each step in the job search will give you more time to get ready and look forward to new opportunities. Good luck!

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      Are their industry metrics you can use?

      Like number of leads, number of phone calls/emails, number of visits, number of closed deals?

    2. Development professional

      Are you requiring them to set goals for themselves, and then periodically reviewing their performance against those goals? Seems like the first step.

  13. NewTraveler

    I’m going on my first international business trip in December! I’ll be in Calcutta, India for a week. This is both my first business trip and my first time traveling outside of the US and western Europe. Does anyone have any advice? Things that you wished you had known before your first business trip, or if you’ve been to India? I’m really excited about this opportunity, but also a little nervous too because of all the unknowns.

    1. dancer

      Hi there. I visit India relatively regularly (every 4-5 years), but I’ve never been to Calcutta. The biggest thing for me is to be very careful with food and water. Avoid fried foods and uncooked produce. Also make you sure you get bottled water if you’re out. You might want to consider dressing more conservatively than you may be used to in hot weather. In the parts of India I visit, shorts and short skirts cause staring, but Calcutta may be more cosmopolitan. That said, people tend to stare anyways :P People also tend to have a much smaller personal bubble than what I’m used to, so they tend to get closer than I’m comfortable with (that may just be me though).

      December is the best time to visit India, so if you have time, definitely go sightseeing!

      1. NewTraveler

        Thanks! I definitely will be careful what I eat.

        I own two Salwar Kameezs that I was planning on bringing and wearing if I have the time to go sightseeing/shopping. Would that be ok, or seen as being culturally appropriative? I don’t want to attract too much attention to myself.

        1. wanderlust

          In my experience, people in India think it’s great when people visiting wear the traditional clothing. If it makes you uncomfortable to have others comment on your outfit, though, you may want to rethink. They will comment on it (they’ll compliment you and say how beautiful it is, etc.), but I always felt like people stared at me more when I was wearing more “western” clothing. I don’t think you’ll offend anyone.

        2. dancer

          Nope, I think you’re good! Salwaar kameez are perfect for the weather. Keep in mind that even if you are brown-skinned, people will magically be able to tell that you are a foreigner so you might get some attention regardless. I know because the village kids come to stare at me and my sister even when we’re in Indian clothes and keeping our mouths shut :P That said, Calcutta is a huge port city, so I doubt that foreigners will be as much of a novelty.

          1. NewTraveler

            Oh good! I’ve always wanted to wear them somewhere other than around the house. I’m pretty white, and I know that I’ll stick out as a foreigner no matter what I do or wear. I just didn’t want to accidentally offend anyone if I could avoid it.

    2. Spice for this

      I visited India many many years ago (a tour of multiple countries arranged by my parents, so we traveled with a tour group).
      My recommendations:
      -take a small bottle of essential oils with you (what ever scent you enjoy)
      -take some snacks with you (crackers, cookies, bars, etc.)
      -if possible do not explore the city alone
      -check out adventurouskate website for advice
      I hope you have a nice time.

      1. NewTraveler

        Thank you for your tips and for the link to the travel blog! I hadn’t thought about taking a bottle of essential oils with me, that’s a good idea.

    3. Development professional

      Please be sure to read up on business norms in India if you are traveling for business. There are some good books/articles out there that explain colloquialisms, gestures, and other expressions that are going to be VERY useful for understanding people. You speak English and they speak English, but it can be really different!

      1. NewTraveler

        I’ll definitely read up on business norms. I checked a few books out from the library on India/Calcutta, but one explicitly on business norms is a good idea. Thank you!

    4. Sunflower

      Read up on business norms and talk to co-workers/bosses who have been there or have traveled internationally before. Ask your boss LOTS of questions before you go- like how much cash should you carry, where/when should you exchange.

      Besides business norms, also read up on social norms and how to dress when you’re outside of work. Also make sure to plan a little something fun for yourself. Traveling for work is anything but a vacation but I think it’s really important to do something for yourself while you’re there. I’m always bummed(even after I go places that I’ve been to a million times) without doing something in the city that I can’t do elsewhere.

      1. NewTraveler

        I feel like I’m smothering my coworkers with questions, but it really is better to be prepared. Luckily, my boss is going with me, so I’m not completely flying solo, but I want to be as prepared as possible!

        I do want to have fun in addition to just working- especially because Christmas is approaching and I want to bring back nice presents for friends and family! There are so many interesting things to see, and I hope I have the chance to do some touristy things.

    5. wanderlust

      In response to what dancer said, Calcutta (Kolkata is what they call it, actually) is not really more cosmopolitan. It’s more cosmopolitan than like, a village, but I would say less so than some of the other major business hubs – Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, etc. – at least in terms of wardrobe. I used to wear leggings and kurthi tops (like a tunic, most of the women wear this kind of thing, you can buy them there for cheap) but I worked for a nonprofit and I don’t know how professional you have to look.

      The jetlag on the way there is terrible. Be prepared to feel like falling asleep at 3 pm. Be prepared for it to take forever to get anywhere – your driver may not know all the places you’re going to, and there is lots and lots of traffic. Fortunately, Indians typically run late anyway. Second the person who said bring snacks and don’t travel around alone – just use your best judgement. BRING TOILET PAPER WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES.

      Embrace humidity, people staring at you, tea with lots of cream, the mingled smell of BO and curry, and having an upset stomach for most of your trip :) Eat the snacks they offer you to be polite. Try to be patient with the overly helpful hotel staff people. If you are female (or male, I guess), see if someone will take you shopping somewhere as you can get some sweet jewelry and scarves and stuff for very little. Indians are very friendly, and they really love exposing foreigners to their culture. Someone will probably offer to take you out/buy you dinner/etc.

      1. dancer

        Fair enough. I though it might be like Mumbai or Bangalore since they are similarly sized, but I’ve never actually been to that part of India. Also good tip about the toilet paper. I almost forgot about that because I tend to do without, but I’m certainly happier when I have it.

      2. NewTraveler

        Thank you for all your advice! I’m not looking forward to the long plane ride and anticipated jetlag, but I can’t wait to have this incredible experience. I hadn’t thought about bringing toilet paper, but that’s absolutely something I should bring!

        I am female, and I wasn’t planning on traveling around alone. I don’t want to curtail my activities (like shopping or seeing a tourist attraction!), but I want to be safe. It would be nice to be able to bring back jewelry and scarves just in time for Christmas!

        1. wanderlust

          Oh and you might want to pack some socks in your purse every day if walking around barefoot in India freaks you out. If you’re at a temple or even some other places, like certain wings of hospitals, they will make you take your shoes off. I once got stuck walking barefoot into an elephant’s stall (it was a temple elephant). So glad I didn’t contract tetanus or ringworm.

      3. Happy Lurker

        Glad someone mentioned the toilet paper! And anything else like that that you may need, be sure to bring it.
        I had friends go to Calcutta and that’s what I remember them telling me. Among other things.

    6. Chai Lover

      My extended family resides in Kolkata (as it’s now known) and I have been traveling there since I was kid. These are my suggestions: The pollution is quite bad, so I would recommend against public transportation for getting around the city. It is safer, and fairly economical, to arrange for a private car to transport you around the city. Take toilet paper with you, but do not assume you will be able to flush it. Make sure you pack some type of mosquito repellent. ATMs are common, and you can use your debit card to pull out rupees. I would not wear skirts or shorts. You will be more comfortable in your salwar kameezs. If you have time for sightseeing, I recommend stopping by the Victoria Memorial and Park Street for shopping. Haggling is expected by vendors, so don’t be afraid to negotiate. You’re going to have a great time!

      1. NewTraveler

        Thank you for your advice! I’ve never haggled before, but I’ll do my best. I’ll definitely pack mosquito repellent. I have a tendency to get bitten even when no one else does. I really hope that I have some time for sightseeing, and thank you for your suggestions!

        1. moss

          I learned to haggle in Egypt, it’s actually a LOT of fun. It makes the whole transaction seem more sociable and friendly and at the end you and the merchant can sort of smile at each other as two worthy combatants. If you can view it as a way to draw the transaction out in a friendly way, it will be more enjoyable than viewing each purchase as a sinister battle to rip each other off.

        2. wanderlust

          If you have a local with you, ask them to do the haggling. They’ll have a better idea of a fair price and can conduct the negotiation in the language. Foreigners automatically get charged 100x more for anything.

    7. edj3

      Everyone’s given you good advice–I’ll just add don’t forget to get all your immunizations up to date. And if you haven’t yet been vaccinated for hepatitis (all kinds) do that now. It’s a risk here in the States and certainly abroad too.

      I personally don’t take anti-malarials when I travel to India but I go to Bangalore and the risk for malaria isn’t so high as it is in cities that are at lower altitudes.

      I’ll also second not wearing shorts. I just haven’t seen them much–as in I can count on one hand and have fingers leftover the number of times I saw shorts this summer.

      1. NewTraveler

        I have an appointment scheduled at a Travel Clinic to get the necessary immunizations! I’m debating whether or not I need anti-malarials, as I’ve read conflicting recommendations as to whether or not they’re needed in Kolkata. I’d rather be safe than sorry, so I’ll probably end up taking them.

        Thanks for the anti-shorts recommendation. I wasn’t planning on bringing any. Jeans are probably out too, right?

        1. edj3

          You’ll roast in jeans! I wear knee length skirts or dresses, or I go with flowy pants. Scarves are great for covering up your neckline or your upper arms without adding to the heat.

          1. NewTraveler

            I need to do some clothes shopping before I go then! Pants wise, I have work slacks and jeans. Plus the two salwar kameezes that I own. I’m going in December, so it won’t be blazingly hot at least. I have a few nice scarves that I’m planning on bringing too.

        2. help needed - brain freeze

          Re: anti-malarials, be sure the physician knows this is the first time you will be taking them. Especially mention any tummy issues you may have had with other medications you’ve been prescribed, as some of these meds can do a number on you. And if you tend toward sinus infections and are conversant with early symptoms, see if the clinic physician or your primary-care provider will prescribe you a Z-pack or similar to take with you in case you need it while on the road.

        3. hope this isn't a duplicate

          Re: anti-malarials, be sure the physician knows this is the first time you will be taking them. Especially mention any tummy issues you may have had with other medications you’ve been prescribed, as some of these meds can do a number on you. And if you tend toward sinus infections and are conversant with early symptoms, see if the clinic physician or your primary-care provider will prescribe you a Z-pack or similar to take with you in case you need it while on the road.

    8. Rosa

      I realize this isn’t what you’re looking for, but the KFC in India is amaaaaazing. Coming from someone who would pass on it in the states, I always make sure to get to in India.

    9. misspiggy

      On the food front, be careful of hotel buffets. If something isn’t piping hot, avoid. Don’t have salad, including fruit salad – safer to peel fruit or veg yourself. Check what water is used for ice before accepting ice in your drink – most hotels and higher end restaurants will use filtered, but again if you have any doubts, or if you have a tendency to catch tummy bugs, order your drink with no ice.

      Fresh lime soda is commonly available, and is a delight – you can have it sweet or salty (breaking my own rules a little bit here as it usually has lime pieces in it, but so far so good :-)

    10. Belle diVedremo

      Before my first business trip, it would have been smart to talk with my boss about how much free time there might be and how I might use it. In her mind, we were on duty from 6:00am to at least 10:00pm. In 4 days, I got 15 daytime minutes to myself. Her thinking was that the company paid for us to be there and we’d be working as much as possible (including flight time). That was extreme, in my experience, but I learned to have the conversation about expectations ahead of time.

      You’re going to India! I’d ask about likely free time, and if it were me I’d also think about asking for a couple days of leave to do some exploring on my own. Airfare will be covered, and the cost of a few days of hotel and meals is a lot less than an entire separate trip.

      I’d also find some local radio stations on the ‘net and do some listening over the next few months. It’ll help with getting accents and speech patterns in your ear. Eg: Some places folks talk a lot faster than they do where I am, and being accustomed to listening faster really helps.

      Have a great trip.

  14. IrishGirl

    What do people understand by “flex time”?

    For me, flex time has always been a situation where you have a set number of hours to work per day, and core hours where you must be present. You normally have a week/month to ensure your average daily hours works out at at least the minimum. I used to have a goverment job where we had to work 7.5 hours daily, with a minimum of 30 minutes unpaid lunch to be taken. You could work between 8am and 7pm, but you had to be present between 10-4, and you had to take between 30 mins and 2 hours for lunch between 12 and 2.

    I’ve seen commentators here though describe flex time as working (for example) 8-4 or 7-3 instead of 9-5, still with set start and finish times.

    I know I’m in a different country, but was just curious as to what people understood by the term.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      Yeah, I would call the second thing you’re describing a different shift, rather than “flex time.”

      1. Sadsack

        Not necessarily. Or normal business hours are 8-5. One member of our dept negotiated working 6:30 – 3:30, and it is approved as a flex schedule. She is still here for the majority of the core business hours, she isn’t on a different shift.

    2. Sadsack

      I think it means all of the above. It depends on your business, your role, and what your manager approves.

    3. Judy

      Most places I’ve worked with flex time required an agreed upon start and finish time. You couldn’t randomly come in at 10 on Monday and then 8 on Tuesday. You could have a schedule like that, but it would have to be posted, and most likely would only be approved if someone had an appointment or class. It was expected that you were mostly predictable.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        ^ This.

        For me it’s always been that though the company is flexible about start and end time, you have a standard schedule (even if it’s varied).

    4. Anna

      Today I’m flexing my schedule to leave early because I did a couple of events this week that were outside my normal 8-5 schedule. In the context we use it where I work, it mostly means making adjustments to our schedule to keep it at 40 hours in one week.

    5. Mockingjay

      Each company (in the U.S.) that I have worked for had a different interpretation.

      Core Hours + Random Flex Time: Had to be present from 9 to 3; could vary start and finish times as long as it was a full 8 hours.

      Core Hours + Specified Flex Time: Must be present from 9 to 3; can pick start and finish times, but must be the same hours every day. Example: 8:30 to 5:00 with 1/2 hour (unpaid) lunch, Monday through Friday. This is what I currently work. My colleague works 7:30 to 4:00 everyday. Another works 6:30 to 3:00. Meetings aren’t usually scheduled until 9:00 to ensure everyone is present.

      Flex Time for Special Accommodation: I worked for one company that allowed this for employees attending college or post-grad studies. Approval was case-by-case. Employee might work 7:30 – 5:00 on MWF (9 hours total, with 1/2 hour lunch), and work 7:30 – 3:00 on TTh (7 hours total, with 1/2 hour lunch) so they could leave early for a class.

      Then there were the companies that did not do flex time at ALL and had the same set working hours for all employees.

    6. xarcady

      Some companies have flex time, in that you can choose when to come in and when to leave as long as you cover the core hours, but they want each employee on a set schedule. So you can choose to come in at 8 and leave at 4, but then that’s your schedule, and if necessary, you need to alert your supervisor/manager if you will be working 10-6 one day, or something like that.

      So it is flex-time in that not all employees start and end their workdays at the same time, but it is not so flexible that you can come in at 8 on Monday and 10 on Tuesday and 9 on Wednesday without letting someone know of the changes in your schedule.

      Frequently, companies that do this are trying to alleviate the impact of hundreds of people leaving work at the same time, clogging the roads around the office and straining public transport to the limit. Perhaps a better term would be “staggered start times.”

    7. Prismatic Professional

      Where I work, flex time means we just need to work 40 hrs/week. We have a normal schedule, but if something comes up we can come in early/stay late on the other days to make up the time so we don’t have to use PTO. :-)

      My manager is awesome. She fought for this perk for our team.

    8. Nom d' Pixel

      Your definition is what I consider to be flex time. Our department has something like that. You have to be here by 8 am, and your day can’t end before 3:30, but you can come in as early as you want if you like to take a long lunch (several people workout during lunch) or stay as late as needed.

    9. ACA

      My husband has something similar to your situation – it doesn’t matter when he shows up to work as long as he works any 8.5hrs between 6am and 6pm. Sometimes he’ll go in from, say, 7-12, leave for a doctor’s appointment, then go back and work 3-6.

    10. T3k

      I’d say all fit. For example, where I work, we’re open from 10am to about 8pm and you’re allowed to choose whatever schedule you want, but I’ve set my hours to early because I have to drive quite a bit to get home, though if I lived close by, I’d love to not come into work until noon.

      Also, I know of a company in the area that I’ve been trying to get into for years that has the core hour thing (I think for them it’s 12pm – 4pm) but otherwise, people can set their hours to work around it (some come in at 8am, some 12pm, etc).

      Then, of course, there’s the flex time I use where I am now and at my old job. If I need to leave early one day, I’ll work it out with my boss so I come in so many minutes earlier on other days (or stay later) so I can still get my hours in for the week.

  15. Bye Academia

    Sad news in my family this week. My dad, who is in his late fifties and ~5 years away from retirement, got laid off from the company he’s worked at for 25+ years. He’s not sure yet whether he’ll just try to retire now or find a new job. Luckily, the work he does is amenable to temporary contract positions, so he can do that if he can’t find a permanent position suited for him.

    He’s got a year of severance so there isn’t any immediate financial pressure, but this definitely changes my parents’ long term plans. Has anyone gone through something similar? Had a parent go through something similar? Is there anything I can do to support him?

    1. QA Lady

      My father was in this position. 2 days before he turned 60 he found out his company was closing their only (our country) location. He found out in November and worked until June, then had several weeks severance followed by unemployment. He got a job about a year after his last day and lasted 4 weeks before quitting. Now he and my mom are trying to decide if they should sell their house and retire, or he should find something for 2-3 years. They’re lucky in that he doesn’t need to match his previous salary to maintain their standard of living. Also, their house has a very high resale value and they would be able to purchase a home a bit farther away from (big city) and have about the equivalent of 5 years salary left over if they sell and retire (but mom doesn’t want to move).

    2. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

      Yes! It really threw my dad for a loop when he lost the job he’d had since before I was born, because I really think he thought he’d retire from there. It gave him an appreciation of my moving from one job to another (he had originally wondered why I didn’t just stay with my current company–forever) a few years prior, because the job search and job holding situation is much different than it ever was for him as a young man. I just listened to him when he vented frustrations about the depressed job market in their (very rural) area. They had just purchased their first house just a year before this, so there was also a lot of fear that they’d lose their house, which they had wanted my entire life.

      I think just letting him know that he can vent to you (if you have that kind of relationship) can be helpful. He didn’t want to keep burdening my mom with the same thoughts, so having an additional ear when he was overwhelmed was helpful (I hope, anyway). He hasn’t had luck finding a good-paying or long-term (or heck, even a full-time) job since, sadly, because the market in their area is ridiculously bad (mainly because it’s so rural). I know he’s glad that I went to college, because he thinks it opens up a lot more doors to me than anyone else in my family has ever had, and I think it makes him a bit happier to see me doing well.

      At the same time, I’m frustrated for him, because he is the one who taught me my strong work ethic to be an honest, hard working employee, and to see him have a hard time finding a job when I know what a great employee he is bothers me. (I still don’t get that. I have a family member who is a slacker that floats from job to job to job regularly and without long-term stays anywhere, and he always manages to find another job three months after he starts the one he’s leaving. Can anyone explain that to me?)

    3. oh noes

      my dad has gone through this, and it’s ended up in a revolving door of jobs, prospects and lay offs (again and again), he’s a bit older in his 60s. I try to be positive, and encouraging. My dad is a huge part of the reason why I am professional success (work ethic, professionalism, and strategy), and I try to convey that to him too.

    4. Elizabeth West

      I’m not sure what advice I can offer. You can help him find resources if he decides to keep looking–if he hasn’t done it in 25 or more years, obviously procedures are going to be different. If he’s not comfortable online, maybe help him out with that.

      My parents are dealing with a similar situation, but someone is being very fatalistic about it, which is NOT helping. I have no clue how to handle that. You can’t help someone who refuses to do anything to adapt.

    5. Lizzy

      This happened to my dad exactly two years ago. It was the year he turned 60 and he had celebrated his 35th anniversary with the company.

      It took him a year to find a new job, which was a huge paycut for him. Prior to that, I did my best to pass along all the resources I could find and overall just supported him as much as I could. I called him a lot to see how he was doing, even though there were days he just wanted to talk about movies and sports to keep his mind off of things.

    6. Bye Academia

      Thanks for all your advice/commiseration. My dad isn’t really the type to talk about his feelings, but I’m pretty sure he’s bummed and surprised. I’ll just try to listen if/when he wants to vent and offer him resources on current job searches if he decides to start looking.

      1. Not So Sunny

        Maybe he can start reading AAM to get a feel for what the job world is like “on the outside.”

    7. Anx

      My parents had a business. When they got divorced, things got a little nasty and it made no sense to keep it running (it was a retail business that’s literally joked about being passe now).

      That was over 10 years ago. Neither of my parents were ever able to find full-time or regular employment since.

      My mom’s in her early 60s now and still looking. She’s looking at jobs taht aren’t strenuous, and I don’t think she’d retire until she was sick. But I think people assume she’d only want a year or so to work.

    8. Cutlet

      Just happened to my father-in-law. He’d been with the same company for 30 years and got the news he was getting laid off back in November. He stayed until about April of this year. He decided to just retire. His wife is still working and has a government job so they have great benefits through her.

  16. Log Lady

    Oh gosh. I’m sitting here and I just realized I forgot to flip my septum ring up this morning before I got to work. I’ve been here for two hours with it down. No one said anything, but I’m kind of embarrassed now. I’ve never done that before and now I wonder if anyone noticed. Oh god, I interacted with vendor. Oops. It’s hidden now.

    1. Anna

      Ha! I think you’ll be all right. If the vendor mentions it to your boss, just apologize and promise you’ll make sure it’s tucked away in the future.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      Cool, I did not know that that was a thing. Much easier to hide a septum piercing than, say, an eyebrow or lip piercing, who knew?

    3. Former Retail Manager

      Are there people who actually don’t notice it? Flipped up or not, it is usually obvious to me when someone has it done. I can’t imagine you are fooling anyone. On another note, I think it’s ridiculous we still live in a world where this is an issue. Don’t stress too much.

      1. Log Lady

        To be honest, i think the only person who notices it when it’s up is my mother. I have a sort of large honker, so, it’s ~easier to hide that way. But, I think they’re less offended by a wider nose than some metal hanging out of it and yes, I think it’s ridiculous that this is an issue you too.

      2. T3k

        You’ll be surprised about some piercings going unnoticed. I have an eyebrow piercing and it took my coworkers several days to realize I had it (when I started, I had taken the previous one out to let it heal as it moved too far over and got it re-pierced a month after I started).

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      Aw, I feel for you! But no one said anything– don’t be embarrassed! Is there a rule in place that you can’t wear it, or is it more of a personal feeling that you need to flip up the ring to look more professional? If there’s a rule, and it’s ever brought up, then apologize and say you’ll be more diligent in the future. But if it’s just a personal preference, then take the not saying anything as people being much, much more chill about your piercing that you think, which is a good thing.

      1. Log Lady

        It’s not a rule, no, it’s just actually my manager’s preference because I think she thinks our big boss won’t like it so much. I work in the office of a machine shop, so, we’re super casual. My nose piercing wasn’t a biggie, but that’s long gone. I just wear it up here and having it down without realizing it kinda made me feel exposed haha.

    5. Liz

      I’ve found that people tend to notice only what they want to notice. So even if someone saw the ring, they may not have registered what it was.

      When my nose was pierced, I wore the stud to all sorts of things that I wasn’t supposed to but no one ever said anything (and I definitely had people in my life who would have). When I explicitly stated something in an “oops I forgot to take the stud out” kind of way, the common response was that they hadn’t even noticed it

      1. Lindsay J

        My mom didn’t notice my nose piercing until about two months after I got it (I was living with her at the time). I also got away with it at my no piercings allowed workplace.

  17. AdAgencyChick

    Dear everyone who thinks it’s cool to book all the time between 12 and 2 for meetings, or wants to book one after 5 because “that’s the only time you’re all free”:

    A gal has to eat. A gal also has work to do that cannot be accomplished while I’m in meetings. At least let me start doing that work at 5, not at 6.

    Oh well, if that’s the worst thing I have to deal with at my new gig, that’s *fine*. At least my boss has my back now that I’ve told her I’m going to start judiciously using the “decline” button. (Not for HER meetings, of course.)

    1. Delyssia

      I’m regularly on conference calls with people around the world, which means any given call is going to be at a bad time/outside of 9-5 for someone (the 12-hour time difference with China is really a *^#%@#&). The only upside is that all of these people are hard to schedule time with, so it’s not like I have hours on end of this nonsense.

      1. beachlover

        The conference calls with other countries are a real bear!! I currently work with both East coast US plants ( I am on west coast) and just started working with some Asian plants. My hours are 7:00 to 4:00, so it is a really long day when the Asian plants want to schedule a meeting at 10:am their time, which is 6:00 pm our time (or there about).

      2. Hlyssande

        Oh yes, this! I’ve had requests for meetings all hours of the night from the developers in India and our groups in China and Australia. NO THANKS.

        Fortunately, my supervisor and boss come down very firmly on the ‘we’re the ones who have to deal with this and you, our subordinate, don’t have to attend’ as much as possible. I’m exempt and I have my own laptop, so calling in from home is possible, but they try to avoid making me do so.

        Now if only I could come up with a business reason to NOT have to do hours of go live testing on Sunday, Nov 1st. I had to cancel my Halloween plans. :(

    2. Ad Astra

      My office is really good about catering lunch for noon meetings, so I don’t usually mind those. But my company does have an annoying tendency to want to “celebrate” project wrap-ups and other group achievements with events scheduled after 5. No thank you. I want to go home.

      1. Applesauced

        This! My company has weekly happy hours on Fridays (they buy booze, and we start after quittin’ time). I like socializing with (some) coworkers but even free booze can’t keep me in the office longer than a glass of wine or two.

      2. Happy Lurker

        My coworker/friend gave me the best excuse years ago “I can’t possibly stay today, I have 8 people coming for dinner”. She didn’t, she never had anyone come over on a weeknight. I saw her do this and had to run away before I laughed out loud.

    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      My former job was a mix of salaried, salaried non-exempt, and hourly positions, so meeting times were *highly* regulated.

      Nothing started before 9am or after 4 pm, and you could not schedule between 11:30 – 1:30. It was a nice change of pace.

    4. Bend & Snap

      I tend to get irritated at calls before 9:30, at lunchtime or after 5…but sometimes you have to suck it up.

      Other times I just decline or propose a new time. I’m not good at sucking it up when I don’t absolutely have to.

    5. Mockingjay

      I used to be on a team that had to do a lot of conference calls between East and West Coasts. We used to stagger the meeting times around lunch times: sometimes East Coast would be inconvenienced through lunch; next time it was the West Coast’s turn. These were regular meetings. Once we got them on the calendar, we left them alone (no postponing or rescheduling permitted). Worked out pretty well.

    6. Sparty07

      In order to make it seem like you’re not just holding time for lunch, schedule 30 minute meetings in your calendar starting between 11:30-1:00 on different days on Monday. By randomizing them, it doesn’t quite seem to be holding time for lunch.

      This has helped me in the past when someone kept scheduling 12-1 meetings.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        Oh, I do that trick already. People schedule meetings anyway. It’s like they don’t even bother looking at the “scheduling assistant” screen in Outlook sometimes.

    7. Cucumberzucchini

      Yeah that’s super annoying. What’s wrong with the people that schedule these things, do they not eat?

      1. mander

        I’ve worked for a supervisor who never eats anything. I just can’t understand how he survives, especially doing a very physical job. Of course, he is also the crankiest person I have ever met, which might explain some things….

    8. Anne S

      If I start to notice a day filling up, I go in and schedule an appointment with myself at lunch time to make sure no one else thinks they can book it!

    9. Nom d' Pixel

      There is a special place in hell for people who do that, especially if the meeting is at the end of the day on Friday.

    10. TheLazyB (UK)

      People quite often book their entire lunchtime out with meetings where I work now. It freaks me out and if I’m booking meetings I always try to leave at least 30m gap. It worries me if I ever want to move up :-/

    11. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      I actually got permisson from my boss to start booking “Reserved for working” blocks on my calendar each week. I am starting with a 1/2 day but I will bump it up to a full day if needed.

      I”m hoping it will force those who want me in the meeting “Just in case we need you” to take notes and instead pass on to me any work they need from me as a result of the meeting.

  18. Former Diet Coke Addict

    One of my coworkers got a new job! Which is great for her. But depressing, as I’ve been looking for a new job for almost a year and have nothing but a few interviews to show for it. Part of it is that the job market here is abysmal–the listing are retail, skilled trades (millwright, plumber), nursing, factory work, or high-level executive work. I apply for every job that pops up that I’m qualified for and interested in, but otherwise just waiting. So it’s a little painful to watch my coworker go.

    She’s lucky, too: this week my boss sent us a mailer and asked for our feedback, and when I mentioned a few spelling and grammar changes, he said “I like it better my way.” With typos? Then why do you ask? We were also treated to a long angry fight he had with his sister in our building, a long angry discussion with his son’s teacher, and a dispute with the guy who mows the lawn. Even with the door closed (which he does not do) you can hear every last word!

    1. Not So Sunny

      “I like it better my way.” With typos?
      …..

      I can’t even. “Let’s have all our customers laugh at us, shall we?”

    2. T3k

      Awww, I feel for you. My boss had hired a new girl that was actually competent at the job, only for her to be offered a much better job elsewhere a month later. I feel happy for her (heck, if I had a place to stay at rent free where she went, I’d follow suit) but makes me sad because I’ve been applying around for 6 months and still nothing.

  19. Midge

    Does anyone have stories of customer service over-corrections?

    For example, we have the occasional problem of customers calling us repeatedly without leaving a voicemail, instead of leaving a message so we can call them back. So my department actually had a meeting about how we could change the outgoing message from “We’re not in right now. Please leave a message with X, Y, and Z details and we’ll get back to you.” to something even more emphatic about how they MUST leave a message.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I recently called a billing office that had a message to the effect of “calls without voicemail messages will not be returned.”

      However, repeat callers often hang up as soon as they hear the voicemail, so they may not even be listening to the message.

    2. Treena

      I literally will never leave a message for customer service issues, even/especially with an outgoing message like the one suggested. I don’t want you calling me back at a time that’s convenient for you, I want to talk to you when it’s convenient for me. You’re right in that your department is creating a huge overcorrection and it’s really annoying. I would rather wait on hold for 60+ minutes than leave a message!

      1. Midge

        I hear what you’re saying. Though, we’re not actually a customer services department, so it’s not possible to just wait on the line until someone picks up. We’re just an office that field a lot of phone calls.

        I guess I’m curious if others have stories of encountering an issue with a client/customer, and then going a little overboard trying to fix it. Because I felt like everyone was looking at me like I was the crazy one when I pushed back on their suggestions.

    3. MaryMary

      One of our vendor partners was getting a lot of feedback that they were not responsive enough (I’m pretty sure they’re understaffed), so they added “emails will be returned within three business days” to their email signatures. Part of me applauds them for setting expectations, and part of me thinks three business days is a looooong time to respond to an email.

    4. Viktoria

      Unfortunately my experience has been that it’s difficult to accomplish this. We don’t have that problem, but we do have a big wrong number problem, mainly because of how we do our advertising on search engines.

      “Teapots Etc, how many I help you?”
      “What are the hours for your shop in Topeka?”
      “No, you have the wrong number.”
      “But I was just at the Topeka Shop.”
      “We are Teapots Etc, and we do not have a Topeka store. What business are you trying to reach?”
      “Leroy’s Teapots. Can you just transfer me to the Topeka store?”

      Sigh.

      I would imagine that some people just don’t like leaving voicemails and prefer to call back multiple times. I sometimes prefer to that, depending on the business / nature of my call.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep. I find repeated hang ups on my vm at work. Usually it’s the same caller, who just called several times before I got to work or on my days off. In some cases, the person really cannot leave a message because the message is too involved for voice mail. In other cases, my answer to one question changes the questions that follow up, this makes voice mail pointless.

  20. CAF

    Someone contacted me via linkedin about a job available in my department that they’d already applied for. We don’t know anyone in common and I’m not the hiring manager. I switched careers, so I may look more senior at a glance, but I have the same title as the open job. Anyway, I told the person HR wouldn’t let me have coffee with an applicant, which is true. But really I felt it was inappropriate to basically ask for an “informational interview” that the person was clearly hoping would become a job interview. Furthermore, my organization works on saving broken teapots, which the person’s degree was in, but I work in the fundraising area with a job that’s not too well known outside of fundraising. I think she just wanted to save broken teapots, based on her experience and degree. Apparently, we’ve had a lot of applicants who want to directly save broken teapots. Read the description, people!

    1. Kyrielle

      I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the person wanted to have a job interview, unless they said so. They may have been hoping you’d give them insider information about the organization, to help them decide if they wanted the job and/or to make a better impression at the actual interview. Not that it sounds like the candidate is very on top of other things, but it’s more likely they were trying to learn more about the organization than try to “interview” with you.

      1. CAF

        I was still weirded out that someone would reach out like that without some kind of contact in common. I thought of the interview thing because I’ve read here that some people make requests like this to try to put themselves to the top of the pile. I did tell the person to reach out to me in a few months if they are still interested in breaking into fundraising, and it really is true that HR won’t let us sidestep them in the hiring process to reach out to or meet with applicants.

    2. BRR

      It sounds like they were trying to stand out.

      With nonprofits I know there are also people who want to save broken teapots and they’ll apply to any job at organizations that do that or they have one organization they want to work for and will apply to any position. That said there are people with degrees in something who decide they want to fundraise for the cause but I have seen a lot of people who get a degree in something and get a fundraising job because they want to just get their foot in the door or they think it will be much more involved with saving broken teaports than it really is.

      1. CAF

        I think this person falls into the latter category for reasons too specific to get into here. My org is high profile enough that anyone into saving teapots would want to work there. If she wants to do what I do, the door is open for her to contact me later for an informational interview… but I also mentioned that to point out what the job actually is ;)

  21. Not the Droid You are Looking For

    I had a horrible interview this week for what should have been a perfect job.

    The hiring manage was nearly 10 minutes late to my interview, it was clear she hadn’t thought at all about the position or the interviews. For the the first time ever, I actually needed the extra copies of my resume I bring along, because she hadn’t printed them out for the group. The questions were stilted and all over the place, and everything just felt super awkward.

    I am really bummed as (at least from the posting) this had really seemed like the perfect job :( I still sent a thank you note, but I’m just sure it was completely unrecoverable.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        Thank you :)

        Mostly I was just disappointed in myself, that I couldn’t get the conversation back on track.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            Thanks! As AAM always says I need to just assume I didn’t get the job and move on, rather than dwell on what I thought could have gone better.

    1. Kelly White

      Take heart! If it was a group interview, maybe you wowed the rest of the group, and the will have some influence for the hiring.
      Honestly, if I could see a candidate was collected and responsive, even if my colleague was all over the place, I’d be impressed!

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        I hope! They are a pretty big employer around town and the other folks were from different departments.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        Yeah…it was definitely a good indicator of what the work would be like!

  22. toa

    Should I send a “brag packet” to my former managers/mentors/references?

    I work in communications and recently completed my largest project in my role, and in my career. It is a multi-piece mailer that also has online components. I was thinking about sending a copy to my former manager/mentors/references, but I’m not sure if that’s weird. I have been really bad about keeping in contact with them (some I haven’t spoken to in a year, one I met for coffee in the last six months). I would like to tell them about what I’m working on, and thank them for their past support, but I don’t know if it’s awkward for my first communication in a while to be a brag.

    Thoughts?

    1. Rat Racer

      What if you called it a “portfolio” rather than a “brag packet”? Would that make it seem more palatable? What your suggesting sounds reasonable to me…

    2. CrazyCatLady

      Hmm, I’ve never heard of that so I would think it’s weird but maybe other people will disagree. I would get in touch with them on a more personal level, ask how they’re doing, what they’ve been up to, how business is and then let them know what I’ve been up to – but I may wait to hear back from them first.

      1. toa

        That was my thought as well…that I should ask about them before talking about myself! But all my mentors are so busy I wonder if they would rather I just get to the point.

        1. CrazyCatLady

          Well, what is the point? What are you hoping to accomplish by doing this? I think maybe if you were going to be using them as a reference, it would make more sense to give them an idea of what you’re doing now… but if you really want to do it, I would definitely phrase it as a friendly, catching-up email, with a casual bit at the end about what you’ve been working on.

          1. toa

            Yes, these people have been references for me in the past, and I would like them to be references again in the future (but not in the near future, not job searching right now). My role has changed a lot in the last year – I’ve finally really broken in to the role I want and I’m running my own communications campaigns, as opposed to being in assistant-type roles. So I want to show them that, and thank them for their support along the way.

            1. Dynamic Beige

              “Dear $FormerMentor,
              I hope this card/letter finds you well and thriving! I wanted to reach out because recently I have broken into the kind of job I’ve always dreamed of having. It has been challenging, etc. I know that, in part, I owe this to you due to the support/guidance/teaching you gave me a JobWeWereAtTogether and I just want to say thank you! It’s a rare and special thing when someone will take the time and energy to help someone else in their career and I just wanted to tell you that I will always appreciate what you have done for me.
              Best regards,
              toa”
              If you want to drop in some sort of “if you’re free for lunch/coffee I would love to get caught up” or something along those lines, that’s up to you. I would leave the “lookit what I did!” bragging out of it, though. If this is truly about thanking them for the time and effort they spent in making you the person you are today, acknowledge that, don’t go trying to fish for compliments on some project that they know nothing about. For all you know, your (hand written, sent in the mail) letter or card could catch them on a bad day and the last thing they will want to hear is “Lookit how great I am!!!”

    3. Gillian

      I’d actually think this was pretty neat, but I’m also the person who saves a file full of direct mail pieces/gala invitations/other company’s newsletters that I like to steal ideas from later or keep on hand as inspiration. Maybe couch it as “thanks for your help, because of what you’ve taught me I was able to achieve this?”

      1. EmilyG

        That’s how I would frame it! I don’t do a job where I have something concrete that I could mail to someone, so off the top of my head it seems a little strange, but in this field, it seems like setting aside a few copies of the work and sending it as a hello would be fun. I’d be happy to get something like that from a former student or staffmember. But it would be nicer if it came with a personal catch-up note or something.

      2. Lily Rowan

        Yeah, same. I think it would be great for someone who knew you earlier in your career to see a big accomplishment with a thank-you note.

  23. Cruciatus

    So my new workplace does Halloween. I don’t dislike the holiday, but am not excited at the prospect of being in a costume all day at work. I could opt out–no one said “YOU MUST DO THIS” but it’s obvious they think it’s fun. There are only 4-5 of us (depending on when the director is there) so I’ll really stand out if I don’t do it. Especially as I’m a front desk person in this university department. So…I’ll do it. The theme is the ’60s. But I need cheap, quick, and comfortable costume ideas (I’m a woman). I don’t want to spend a lot of money (since the likelihood is high I will never wear these things again). My parents don’t have good ’60s clothes in their closets and I don’t have much in the way that can help. I hate shopping and don’t want to search Salvation Army (etc.) stores all weekend. I want to be comfortable enough (for sitting all day and taking my 30 min. lunch break walk). Anyone have any ideas that can help me participate without much time, effort, or money? (Wow, I sound no fun at all!–it’s just that after age 14 dressing up for Halloween hasn’t been my thing).

    1. AdAgencyChick

      I’m with you. I hate Halloween. I love little kids in costume but I have ZERO interest in scrounging up a costume of my own.

      Maybe an all-black outfit and a mod scarf?

      1. LCL

        Borrow a tie dye t shirt from someone, wear with a pair of Levis jeans and flat sandals or hiking boots, add sunglasses, feather earrings.

    2. Sadsack

      The 60s must be the easiest theme! I would just wear jeans, flares if you have them, make a headband out of a scarf or something similar, wear long beads, paint a peace sign on your cheek, done! You could go farther, but if you are not feeling it, I’d say this look will fit in without being over the top, and you wouldn’t look too outlandish on your way to/from work. Except maybe wait till you are at work to put on the peace sign and headband. Ih and you could tuck some flowers in the headband then, too.

      1. Development professional

        Peace sign on the cheek is such a good idea! A little facepaint pretty much instantly indicates “I’m dressed up for Halloween” no matter how minimal an effort you put in on the rest of the outfit.

    3. Kyrielle

      Do you have friends roughly your size who love Halloween, who might have something you could borrow?

      Or, are they going 60’s pop culture or just 60s in general? If the second, could you research business-wear and see if you have stuff that’s mostly close enough?

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I’m a Halloween hater (for adults), and my new job also does Halloween in a big way. I’m not going to dress up or decorate my cube (there’s a contest; people really go all out), but I’ll happily distribute candy to the kiddos that come through.

    5. Bend & Snap

      I hate it too–but last time I had to dress up for work I went as a Roller Derby dame, so at least I got to wear roller skates.

      Legging, sporty shorts, tube socks, t shirt with a logo on the front/name on the back, pigtails and I got to skate everywhere. It was fun and still felt like I was wearing regular clothes aside from the roller skates.

    6. xarcady

      Or a caftan in a wild print and lots of bead necklaces.

      Or think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Little black dress, cigarette holder, sunglasses, pearls. Or Jackie O with a little suit and pillbox hat and gloves.

      Other 60s references: headbands, bell-bottoms, fringed vests.

    7. Gandalf the Nude

      Can you wiggle your nose? Just wear a button-down and jeans and call yourself Samantha Stephens!

    8. Malissa

      I did the hippie thing a few years ago. But I had the clothes in my closet. I wore a flowy skirt, white shirt, and a tapestry vest. I bought some cheap flowers and took the baby breath and put it in my hair with some hair spray. It was a very comfortable outfit.

    9. BenAdminGeek

      This doesn’t help you, but the story amuses me anyway… my second professional job was with a huge financial firm. Most of my peers were young, and we were in a junior-level position. The guy supervising us told us that everyone loved Halloween here, and everyone dressed up.

      Come Halloween day, I decided not to wear anything, but some of my peers did. The supervisor came dressed as the grim reaper. Unfortunately, that was also the day that we were scheduled to tour the various programs of the firm. So we wandered around the network security offices and trading floors following the grim reaper as a bunch of people in suits stared at us. Slightly mortifying.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

        I had to have an unexpected conversation about an extremely sensitive, urgent matter at my last job on Halloween. I was in full cosplay dress as Elsa from Frozen at the time. As soon as I walked into his office and saw the somewhat stunned look on his face, I just said, “I have something very important to discuss with you, but I can understand if it’s had to take me seriously right now.” Luckily, while he found it very amusing, we were able to have a productive discussion anyway.

    10. Isben Takes Tea

      Another option is to forgo the costume but wear a festive hat or headband with dingle-ball antennas. Maybe you can find a headband with tie-dyed peace signs and wear some strings of Mardi Gras beads?

    11. Victoria, Please

      Best suit and heels and wear a button that says CEO.
      Jeans, flannel shirt, work gloves, straw hat — farmer.
      If you have friends from India, borrow a salwar kameez. (No, it’s not inappropriate cultural appropriation.)
      Workout clothes, make ears and a tail and call yourself a gym rat.
      Domino face mask at a dollar store and dress like you normally do, just put the mask on.

      I’m with you, I Do Not Wear Costumes. I do like the suggestion to wear all black and a cool scarf or something.

      1. dancer

        I don’t know about the cultural appropriation bit, but I’d be annoyed if someone dressed up as an Indian for a costume. All the other things are occupations, but wearing a culture’s day to day clothes as a costume seems a bit skeevy to me. It would be different if you’re dressing up in Indian clothes to be Gandhi or something, but not just taking everyday clothes and calling it a costume.

        I’m probably not expressing myself very well. It’s not something I’d be outraged about, but I’d definitely give it side-eye.

        1. Kelly L.

          This isn’t dressing up as “an Indian,” though, it’s dressing up as a hippie who’s wearing an Indian shirt, which many hippies did.

          It’s my understanding that the salwar kameez is considered (by people from India) to be OK for anyone to wear, as it’s just “normal clothes,” while borrowing the sari has bigger cultural implications and can be more problematic, but I don’t remember where I read that, so please, please correct me if I’m wrong. The thing I read suggested wearing the salwar kameez instead of the sari if you wanted to wear Indian clothes.

          1. dancer

            Perhaps I took it out of context since Victoria’s other suggestions weren’t 60’s themed. My thoughts are that if you want to wear a salwaar kameez for a party or even day to day, that’s fine, I don’t care. But for an occasion where dressing up = costume, I think that’s a bit sketchy. If you want a hippy tunic, as you suggested, just wearing the kameez get you the effect you want and the salwaar adds nothing to the look. I’m not well-versed on the intricacies cultural appropriation issue, but in general I feel its wrong to treat someone’s cultural clothes like a costume.

            As for the sari thing, I think for non-South Asians, its hard to see the difference between a sari tied correctly and one that isn’t. A lot of people who don’t know how to put on sari correctly end up looking pretty trashy to South Asian eyes.

            1. Kelly L.

              Ah, I thought it was for the 60’s theme. And now I’ve learned something, because I thought “salwar kameez” was the name of just the shirt, and now I know the salwar part is the pants.

              1. dancer

                Ah, I see. Yeah the kameez is just the top. The OP could also borrow a kurta or a kurti, which would be even better because they are shorter. Kameez tend to be below the knee. Kurta/kurtis are either above the knee or hip length (I can never remember which is which).

                As an aside, when I was a kid we brought my piano teacher a salwaar kameez from India because she compained she could never find brightly coloured, fancy pantsuits here. She happily wore it to a bunch of our piano recitals until it wore out. I’m not opposed to people wearing Indian clothes in general, but Halloween is not the time for it.

      2. Not So Sunny

        White flowy shirt, beret, skinny black pants, voila! You’re French.

        Which is absolutely as far as I’ll go on Halloween.

      3. Victoria, Please

        I missed the bit about the 60s theme being required, so the salwar suggestion wasn’t 60s either.

    12. Student

      Grab a laser pointer and carry it around with you all day. The first working laser was made in 1960.

      Other science – 1960s ideas that are likely to generate low-impact costumes:
      Jane Goodall started her work with apes in the wild in 1960
      First red LED was 1962
      First lava lamp was 1963
      First episode of Doctor Who was 1963
      Lots of space race stuff happened (not sure if that makes for good costume inspiration) – first man in space, first stuff sent to the moon, first looks at Venus, etc.
      First computer mouse was made in the 1960s
      Laser printer was invented in 1969

    13. Treena

      I felt the same way when last job did this! I did a heels, business skirt, and a button-up (buttoned halfway up) with a wonder woman t-shirt underneath and said I was Diana Prince. You can do the same thing with Clark Kent for men.

    14. Sunflower

      Tie Die shirt and jeans could work? Just pile on all the jewelry you have.

      Other thoughts are leggings/tights and a funky print dress?

      Maybe not the most comfy but you could go Jackie O/Audrey Hepburn- might have some work pieces that accomplish that.

    15. Swoop

      60s mod? shift dress with tights/leggings (& boots if you have them), lots of eye makeup (more sculptural than we do now), and either sleek hair or slightly bouffant with a headband. Took a quick search and black & white seems on, particularly if you have one piece with stripes (even a scarf I’d think), but a coloured dress would work too if you match at least one other piece to it (headband/footwear/bracelet/bag/scarf tied to your bag)

    16. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

      Wear all black, and when people ask what you’re supposed to be, tell them you’re “the dark” (as in “Are you afraid of the…”). Or wear all black + a beret and say you’re a beatnik.

      Alternatively, workout gear + sweatbands = fitness instructor. Or a pencil skirt, a twinset, and (fake, if you don’t wear them normally) glasses, + put your hair in a bun and say you’re a librarian. (The bonus of librarian is you have an excuse to shush people all day, which is helpful when dealing with annoying co-workers.)

      Last idea: Cheap white lab coat + stethoscope (you can find them in a Halloween store, likely for <$30) over business casual, and boom, you're a doctor.

  24. Sparty07

    Is it just me, or did it bother anyone else how many comments on the 5 Q/A for today said that people refused to do stuff because they had to call vs. doing it online? We as a society are slowly creeping into our own little bubbles and try to avoid any sort of human interaction at all. It’s not hard to roll-over a 401K or make medical appointments over the phone. I have done 4 401K rollovers myself and prefer to do it with a live person as they are able to discuss various options and explain things in more detail (do you want to sell the company stock, or transfer it? The transfer will take an additional few days because…)/ When it comes to medical appointments, you may think you only need a certain appointment, but based on a conversation you may need a shorter/longer appointment. Usually companies have good reasons to not have an online form other than to “inconvenience” you.

    Examples:
    “but this is why I haven’t rolled over my 401k – ugh, I have to call?! and talk to a person?!”
    “That’s me! I actually have two 401k accounts that I need to roll over. And a router I need to return to my old internet provider. And none of the doctor’s offices around here allow online booking for new patients.”
    “I am postponing a medical appointment because I need to call a hotline and there is no way to do it online… ugh”

    Rant Over.

    P.S. I am lumped in with the Millennial Generation and really despise that.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      I HATE the phone. Hate it hate it hate it.

      I don’t mind talking to people in person. But I hate the phone. I hate leaving messages, I hate being on hold, and I REALLY hate the average phone tree that forces me to listen to a bunch of irrelevant options before I finally get to pick the one I need.

      I’m technically a Gen Xer but I will happily lump myself in with Millennials in preferring to use a website (and yes, I admit, occasionally delaying making certain appointments if I must use the phone).

      1. Anna

        Same. I’m better about it since my job involves being on the phone frequently, but I still prefer email or anything that isn’t talking on the phone.

      2. 22dncr

        I hate those phone trees too but I discovered GetHuman. It tells you haw to bypass most, if not all, of the tree (;

      3. Felicia

        I hate the phone too but also love talking people in person, i think because if i am speaking out loud, I need to see body language to feel comfortable.

        I think there has always been a certain percentage of people uncomfortable on the phone (maybe the same percentage even) just now we have other options.

    2. katamia

      I don’t think it’s about people retreating into bubbles necessarily. I think it’s about phone service typically being awful. My knee doc has horible wait times and you have to go through multiple poorly worded menus to reach the person who does the scheduling. His hold music (which hasn’t changed in years) now induces a Pavlovian rage in me.

      And a family member (bureaucrat who’s really good at this stuff) and I probably spent 24 hours or more total on the phone with the state when I was first trying to sign up for health care through the ACA, and I was living in one of the states that WASN’T fighting it tooth and nail.

      All that plus customer service people who don’t care or are poorly trained or don’t have the background knowledge to redirect you to who can fix your weird issue, and, yes, I absolutely understand why people hate using the phone for business.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict

        Calling my doctor is an ordeal. The recorded message doesn’t even say hello before it launches into “Listen carefully,” and then it’s a three-minute spiel of their hours, other numbers to call, and so on. And it’s the kind where you can’t immediately dial the extension you need! I’ve tried! And once you do get the extension you’re on hold for minimum 3-5 minutes with no music, just the beep to signify you’re on hold. It takes forever and if I didn’t have urgent medical stuff to schedule I would absolutely put it off. It’s that much of a huge pain.

        Some service providers are generally that awful to call. Government agencies are another bad one here. Sifting through four or five menus only to reach a dead end that says “Try again later?” The worst. Just the worst.

        1. AndersonDarling

          Doctor’s offices were immediately what I was thinking! I’ve been trying to find a new GP and no one has an open appointment until December. So I wait on hold, answer a bunch of questions, and then get told I have to wait 2-3 months for an appointment. Then I call another doc and start it over again. It’s very draining.
          And calling customer service and ending up with an overseas rep who I can’t understand. I had to call Target cust service and I honestly could find the operator’s words through her accent. And she could not understand my question.
          So this is why I don’t like calling anyone on the phone. I just end up disappointed.

          1. Krystal

            Amazon is the worst for this. Ugh. I have had to deal with their CSRs who don’t even have a good grasp of English … which is frustrating when you are already annoyed because of an order issue.

        2. Elizabeth West

          I hate that too. And then I never get the receptionist because they’re always on the phone or talking to someone who is right in front of them, so I have to leave a message. They rarely return my call the same day even if I call before three o’clock. Luckily, my doctor’s office has a messaging system I can use online if I just have a question about a symptom or something that can be answered non-urgently. I log in and send a message and when they answer, I get an email so I can log in and see the reply.

        3. Lindsay J

          Seriously. Making my car payment takes 20 minutes over the phone. Would take about a minute online.

          At no point during the call do I ever interact with an actual human being (that costs $9 instead of $5).

          I call. Have to listen to a little blurb about how they’re happy I’m their customer. Listen to a little blurb about how account services are available on their website 24/7 (when I try to sign up for the website it tells me my account number is invalid, otherwise I would be using the website), and listen to the phone tree menu.

          Choose make a payment. Get told again that I can make a payment online 24/7 on the website. Get told that there is a $5 service charge for making my payment by phone, and that I can make payments with my checking or savings account, credit, atm, or debit card.

          Enter last 4 digits of my ss #. Get told the due date (which I have from my mailed account statement), get told the amount due (which I have from my mailed account statement). Get read my account number and told to remember it. Get asked it I want to make a payment now.

          Get forwarded to Western Union. Get asked for account number. System repeats account number aloud and has me confirm it.

          System asks whether it is bank account or card.

          Enter card number. System reads card number aloud and has me confirm it.

          System tells me my card is a debit card.

          Get reminded that there will be a $5 charge for paying by phone. Get told what the $5 charge will appear as on my statement.

          System tells me my account balance. Asks if I want to pay full amount.

          Asks to confirm payment.

          Tells me to hold while payment processes and that processing can take up to 5 minutes.

          30 seconds of clicky sounds.

          Get told my payment has been approved.

          Get told to write down confirmation number.

          System reads confirmation number twice.

          Get told amount and date of payment.

          Get another phone tree. Select 9 to end call.

      2. Kelly L.

        This. It’s phone trees, and being bounced from department to department, and companies who put people on the phones without giving them any training or authority, so they can only actually fix your problem if it’s one of the ~10 most common problems that they have verbatim instructions on. If your problem is weird, they’ll just bounce you somewhere else and you have to tell the whole saga again.

        If I email, they’re probably still bouncing my email around behind the scenes, but I don’t have to sit through every forwarding.

        Also a Gen Xer.

    3. Charlatan

      For me it’s an issue of timing and convenience. I vastly prefer the online options because I can do it at my leisure at any hour. When I call it’s often to places with business hours that match my own so I need to call during my own work hours. I prefer making calls like that in private during my lunch time but it’s not always possible.

    4. Rebecca

      My main complaint with this is that the companies I need to call are only open while I’m at work, and sometimes the hold times are insane! My health insurance company is like this, with complicated menu trees and having to listen to a long laundry list of items, punching in numbers, verifying this that and the next thing, and a half hour later (yes, sitting at work trying to work while listening to their hold music and “your call is important to us” ad nauseum), finally someone picks up and I have to go over everything again. I’d rather just send an email if possible, and let someone get back to me. It’s not the human interaction that’s the problem, it’s the endless automated crap that you have to joust with just to get to a human.

      1. some1

        Ditto. I either have to call from my desk and have coworkers overhear my personal medical issue or step out and use a bunch of minutes on hold.

        1. Kelly L.

          Yep, and I also have crap for cell reception in my office (I work in a building that could survive the apocalypse), so I’m either abusing my work phone or having terrible reception or going outside where it’s loud.

      2. Kelly L.

        Having to punch in your account number, phone number, IDK probably your social and date of birth and height and weight and junior high locker combination, and then when you finally get through, you have to say it all again anyway!

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Oh gawd. I hate that. I’ve asked why they do that and gotten a variety of “we’re confirming it’s you” kind of answers but I dunno… The other thing I hate about calling in is the “please tell us your secret password!” thing. Uh… I haven’t had to call in to your call center for X years, how exactly do you expect me to remember what word I chose 10 years ago when you hit me on the spot to choose a secret password and I flailed trying to think of one?

          FWIW, I like talking on the phone, but I hate the automated receptionist answering thingys. “Please listen carefully to the following options as they have changed… ” Aaaaugh!

      3. De (Germany)

        I can’t even take my phone to work with me, because of security regulations. My husband usually schedules my doctor’s appointments because of this, but occasionally I have to call in person…

    5. Sadsack

      I only caught it on the first one. Why would you stalk someone online when they work for the same company and you can just pick up the phone?

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      First of all, this doesn’t seem like a Friday work-open-thread topic. Maybe Sunday?

      Second, this is also pretty rude, especially copying people’s exact comments. Why does it matter to you how people manage (or even mismanage) their personal business? Truly.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers. — Socrates (469–399 B.C.)

          Just needs a few mentions of smartphones! *grumble*

      1. AnonAnalyst

        Yeah, I got this feeling too. Copying the exact comments as a way of pointing out “what the heck is wrong with people?” seems really unnecessary. I can go either way on which open-thread this discussion fits into, but there was a way to start it without the examples.

    7. Kyrielle

      Yeah, if I could handle my 401k rollover in person, it’d be done by now. I need to navigate their phone tree or their web site, and both were designed by the same people who brought you the Minotaur’s labyrinth, I swear.

      I hate phone calls too because I never know if they’re going to take 60 seconds or a half hour, given hold times, phone trees, and all that “fun”. If I could schedule a time when I could call and they’d just answer and handle it, I wouldn’t mind half so much. (There’s a reason that certain phone calls I have to make get made quickly, and the rest get deferred until I admit I really have to do it…certain places _actually handle their phone calls reasonably_.)

      1. Jessica (tc)

        Part of it for me is this, too. I’d prefer to deal with people in person or, failing that, online. I hate the phone, because so many companies don’t actually pay attention to what you’re saying. They just want to fit everything into their script, and not everything in the world can or does. Even the medical system around here has a weirdly complicated phone system that means I rarely get to talk to a human being, instead being routed to a voicemail where I hope I get a call back sometime today. Yuck.

        If I knew I could get it taken care of quickly and efficiently on the phone? Yep, I’d be okay with calling. I just hate not knowing if it’s going to suck up my entire day or not. (Honestly, I don’t sign up for things where I’d have to call to cancel them, if I decided I didn’t want it in the future. Why? Because I hate how long it takes to cancel something while they sweet-talk to try to keep you on or upsell you. I want to cancel; let me cancel. Thank you. Goodbye.)

      2. Sibley

        Just call Vanguard. I don’t remember their tree as being bad, and I do remember them as being very helpful.

        1. Kyrielle

          If Vanguard had anything to do with my 401k, sure. They’re not the ones holding it, nor where I want to send it.

          Hmmm. Actually, I should call where I want to send it. Maybe they can perform the extraction, I’m sure they’ve had to deal with the people who have the one I’m trying to roll over before – and they actually have an incentive to move it ahead, since it’s, you know, going to add to money _they_ handle. :P

          1. Judy

            I don’t know where you want to put it, but certainly Vanguard will handle the transfer to them from another 401k.

    8. Ad Astra

      I’m not trying to avoid interacting with other people, I’m trying to avoid calling people on the phone. There’s no good place in my office to take a personal phone call, most things take longer on the phone than they would online, and I’m just generally better at communicating in writing rather than verbally. Something about being able to hear someone without seeing them is a real barrier for me (which might explain why I was so bad at running the drive-thru when I worked fast food). I do very much appreciate live-chat customer service features, though, for things that might require more back-and-forth.

      Really, I think this is just a difference in communication styles, and the only reason it seems more prevalent in young people is because young people are more likely to be comfortable with some of the technology involved. I bet there are plenty of older people who always hated “phone errands” but still use the phone out of habit, or because they haven’t discovered online booking yet.

    9. GenX Phone Hater

      For me it’s not about retreating into a bubble, I don’t mind talking to people face to face, but can’t stand the phone for a couple of reasons. First, I find it takes so much longer. You call, wait to get the person you need, chit chat/pleasantries/security questions, finally get down to what you need, they put you on hold to figure it out… and on and on. Or worse, the person you need is not available, but they will call you back. Then you miss the call back and the game of phone tag begins. Also, it’s disruptive in an open plan workplace. So if I want to make an appointment in the middle of the day, I have to either take my phone and find a quiet spot to make a call or I have to sit at my desk and accept that everyone around will overhear.
      Just nope.

    10. Bend & Snap

      1) I hate the phone
      2) it’s harder than doing things online
      3) i don’t time to do everything on the phone
      4) it’s easier to track things when you can do them online–you have written proof

      1. F.

        All of the above and:
        5) I am hard of hearing. I have a very hard time hearing on the phone, and it is much worse if the person has a difficult to understand accent.

        1. Tau

          I have auditory processing problems and I am so with you on this one. The phone is a bit of a lottery – generally doable but every now and then I end up with weird background noises/an unfamiliar accent that means I can’t understand a word the other person is saying.

          Also, speech disorder. Explaining “no, the connection isn’t breaking up, I actually talk this way” gets old very quickly…

          1. Anx

            I have a hard time following oral directions in general, never mind on the phone. I can’t make decisions as well without seeing the information laid out in front of me.

    11. Not me

      I like doing things online because I can do it any time of day and I won’t be put on hold for 30 minutes.

      I also don’t really get what’s so impersonal about writing instead of calling. They both work just fine as communication, the only difference is that one specific way of writing is newer. Comparing the two seems kind of old-man-yells-at-cloud, like the e-reader versus real book thing (although I’m team real books).

      1. Kelly L.

        Yep. And this has been going on forever. I’m sure when the phone was invented, people railed against it for being more impersonal than writing, or, like, leaving calling cards or something. Technology will always change.

    12. xarcady

      For one thing, I just dislike talking on the phone.

      For another, on-line is often faster and easier. The state has an issue with me right now–I have to prove I’m not committing unemployment fraud. (I’m not, and I can understand why they think there might be a chance, so I’m not upset about proving this.)

      I’m temping. I don’t have a phone, and my cell phone gets no signal here. Even if I did have a phone, I’m not thrilled about everyone in the surrounding cubes being privy to my private business.

      For two days, I tried phoning from home at 8 am, when the relevant office is supposed to open, even though I usually leave for work at 8. Both times, all I got, in 5-6 ties, was the recording that the office was closed and to call back between 8 and 4:30. I tried until 8:15, when I absolutely had to leave for work.

      Finally found an empty conference room with a phone and went through 20 minutes of phone tree heck, and got disconnected once, and put on hold for 10 minutes. I did finally reach a person, and in 3 minutes was able to figure out what I needed to do. But there went my lunch half-hour. And there was the stress that someone had scheduled the conference room and would show up any minute to claim it. (The person who prints out the schedules is out on medical leave and this is one thing that has been let slide.)

      The state mailed a letter telling me of the problem and giving me 10 days from the date of the letter to clear this up. The letter was dated the 14th, postmarked the 15th, and showed up at my house on the 19th. This left me with 4 business days to deal with this. And the letter gave me only one option–during the phone call, it was revealed that there were two more options I could pursue. (And during the phone call, I was chastised three times for “waiting so long–you’ve had 10 days to do this.” To which I replied each time, “No, I didn’t. I’ve had three days to run around, while working two jobs, trying to get the information you need, while your office wouldn’t answer the phone at 8 am.”

      An email with *all* the relevant information, plus a website where I could upload the information, or type it in or *something*, and I could have taken care of this in a lot less time. But they don’t want to email people, for reasons unknown.

      I’m all for preventing fraud, but seriously, the state has got to learn to communicate better.

      1. Anx

        Oh my god, UI was the worst with communication!

        I think they purposefully make information nearly impossible to access online maybe to keep people from presenting their information in a more advantageous way.

        Because seriously I had the most basic questions sometimes that really belongs on a website’s FAQ list that would take HOURS of hold time to ask. Ridiculous.

      2. Observer

        Actually, at least one of the reasons why they don’t want to email people is because it seems to make certain types of scams easier.

    13. Marcela

      I HATE the phone. First, because I have some problem and I don’t hear very well, although there is nothing wrong with my hearing (changing my phone helped, but it didn’t fix it). Second, because my English is not perfect so I struggle to understand. And third, I truly resent being charged when somebody call me, so I have this weird angry relationship with calls/phones. It’s not like I don’t want to talk to people: I actually go to the office and do everything in person.

    14. Below

      I have phone anxiety. Talking on the phone stresses me out a ton and it is super strange because I don’t get the same feeling at all when going to talk to someone in person, but the phone just makes me very nervous. Most of the time I am hoping that the person on the other end of the line doesn’t answer. I think it makes a little bit of sense – without being able to see other people and take visual cues about when they are done/getting ready to speak there are awkward silences, interruptions, and talking over one another.

      I also don’t really think that not liking to talk on the phone means that we are “creeping into our own little bubbles” – I’m sure that they are very nice people, but I’m probably not going to form a relationship with the receptionist at my doctor’s office or the person rolling over my 401k. I don’t see why making that appointment online would make any difference.

    15. Tris Prior

      I am terrible at thinking on my feet so am not good at handling things on the phone. I do MUCH better if I can send an email that I can compose and think over at my leisure, without someone on the other end of the phone asking me questions that I need to respond to right then.

    16. Noah

      Here’s my issue with a phone call. Most places are only open the same hours I have to be at the office. I work in an open plan office, so everyone can hear my phone calls.

      I would much rather do these things online, on my own time. It is just easier and simpler. Also, I use ZocDoc for doctors and StyleSeat for my hair stylist because I would prefer to look at all the available times instead of offering up random times to see if they work or have openings.

      1. Jessica (tc)

        I’m sensing a theme that those of us who hate phone calls for business do so because the phone is so inefficient at getting the task done these days. It used to be more efficient to pick up the phone and talk to someone directly, but the problem is that you often either don’t talk to a person for a long time or you have to go through a whole rigmarole just to schedule a time to see a human when doing it online would take at least half the time.

        1. Kyrielle

          All those phone call interruptions inconvenienced businesses, so they made phone trees and other things to make it more “efficient” for them (and less efficient for us, generally).

          Gotta love it. No, wait, my bad, you don’t have to. :P

        2. Anx

          Yes!

          I was about to say, the one advantage I could see of calling in is that the internet may be part of the automation process that is killing jobs. But it seems like they’ve already reduced staff and automated the process online, so it seems like a moot point to me.

    17. fposte

      In addition to what everybody else has said, it’s because non-phone transitions have gotten so good in comparison as phone interactions have gotten more filled with delays and hoop-jumping. So it’s the knowledge that there is this comparatively easy, low-impact way to do this that adds to the frustration as you hear “Your call is very important to us” and the swell of scratchy music that alternates between too loud and too soft so you can’t just put it on speaker.

    18. bridget

      Come now. Not wanting to deal with customer service unnecessarily is not the same thing as “avoiding any sort of human interaction at all.” Technology and the internet has made it so that we can interact with far more people far more regularly than we ever would have before; I can text and gchat my friends much more efficiently than I could call them up on the phone (eventually meaning that I spend more in-person time with people more than I otherwise would, because they are in the forefront of my mind/we are engaged in each other’s lives on a day-to-day basis). But if we as a “society” are getting to the point where we are minimizing inefficient business or customer service interactions, I am 100% fine with that.

    19. squids

      My hearing is not good. Face to face, I can incorporate lip reading and body language to understand nearly perfectly. On the phone, if the line is even a little bit not good, I may be asking for clarifications every other sentence. This is not fun. It frustrates the person I am talking with. It’s not laziness or being antisocial.

    20. MaryMary

      For me, it’s a privacy/security thing too. I’d rather type in my account number/credit card number/SSN than say it out loud. And I really hate talking about my medical or personal information. A lot of these services are only available during business hours, so if you want privacy you need to hide in an empty office or stairwell, or whisper into the phone.

    21. Krystal

      Eh, a phone call takes significantly longer than filling out a web form. I spent 20 minutes this morning booking a vision appointment, when their online system has a great calendar where you can choose the appropriate time. My GP is lovely, but her receptionists suck and you’re looking at 20 minutes or more trying to find an appointment (because no matter what you say, or whether you ask for a specific date, they always feel the need to ask about that particular day, and tomorrow, etc. etc.)

      I personally hate dealing with people outside of work and my own friends. I hate when strangers feel entitled to my time in public. I hate dealing with lengthy phone calls for something stupid or insignificant.

    22. Not So NewReader

      I don’t think we are creeping into bubbles, I think we are getting pushed into bubbles. A lot of places I call cheerfully remind me that I can do this or that online. Thank you, so much, but I am not calling about “this or that” I am calling because I need human intervention on a matter.

      I called a health care company and was on hold for ONE hour. I cleaned the bathroom and dusted my book shelves while I was waiting.

      Telephone trees are a nightmare. As a customer I do not feel I am being waited on because I am listening to a 15 minute recording that tells twenty things I already know and do not apply to my situation.

      I also hate being asked to identify myself 16 different ways and ohhh- don’t pass me to another person who has to run through those 16 forms of identification again.

      My biggest issue is the voice quality of the phone systems. It used to be that telephone voice quality was a Big Thing. And you could actually hear what a person was saying, too. I have a corded landline I work. I must ask people to repeat themselves dozens of times a day. I don’t know how many times I have had to hang up because no sound was coming through the line. And if people call my landline with a cell phone this gets worse. Every fourth or fifth word just vanishes. Sometimes I can piece together what the person is saying and sometimes I can’t.
      The phone service at work is so bad.

      I don’t mind using the phone and I use the phone a lot. The service is crappy and if you call and try to get help with your phone service, it’s a nightmare. I totally get why people don’t want to use the phone.

      1. Sunflower

        All of this. Esp with the phones that recognize voice- I always just end up screaming NO NO NO NO NONONONONO at it because it never picks up what I’m saying.

        Speaking of being pushed into bubbles
        1. Once I went into my bank to deposit a check and they told me they wouldn’t deposit a check any smaller than $300 and I had to use the ATM.
        2. When I was a waitress and deposited my cash, the tellers would always remind me I could do that at an ATM. I always get paranoid the machine will malfunction and not count all my cash and that’s not a risk I wanted to take with hundreds.

        Eps with 401k stuff, you pretty much have to do that during work and that’s sensitive information. Even if I walk away from my desk, it’s hard to find an area totally desolate of people

        1. Not So NewReader

          A friend used to service ATM. Working with an armed person right beside is not my idea of a fun job. He said that stuff got stuck in ATMs all the time. And then you hold your hand on your butt waiting to find out if they got your stuff or not. I lost my bank card in an ATM. I called the bank to find out if they found it. Well they would not know until they opened up the safe. I said, “Well, now I am between a rock and a hard place. I don’t think it’s right for me to ask you when you will be opening your safe. I just want to know when I can call back about my bank card.” It was one of those very awkward conversations.

          But night depositories are the same deal. I have seen a few employees facing arrest/jail time because the bank did not find the deposit. Meanwhile, the deposit bag is caught on the mechanism up inside the chute where only a technician would venture.

          So, yeah, I agree about ATMs. The little I know about ATMs the machine is not counting your money. It falls into a safe and a human being counts the safe. The ATM’s I have seen are loaded with only 20s. I do agree about 100s they seem to stick to each other like no other bill. I crinkle up any new bills I get, it’s just too easy to lose them.

    23. nicolefromqueens

      If I didn’t have to wait 45 minutes on hold that would be one thing. But I don’t have time for that. Also, I like having things in writing.

    24. Observer

      As others say, if the phone service were better, I’d be happy to use it. I jumped to web services because most phone systems are just poorly designed. And, all too often, when you finally DO get a human being you are dealing with someone who doesn’t know the language well, sticks rigidly to a script whether or not it’s appropriate, isn’t all that competent, isn’t empowered to help you anyway, keeps using your first name every time they address you or otherwise talks to you like you were a three year old, and / or puts you on hold umpteen times.

      Also, very often you can only call during business hours, which is bad enough if you work at a job where making personal calls is an issue. If there are long wait times, it just becomes very, very difficult.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Oh, sticking rigidly to a script, yeah. I always feel so bad for those folks. Sometimes I will say “I know you have to say specific things, but if this conversation is recorded, I want others at your company to know x, y and z.”

      2. catsAreCool

        Overscripted people can be so tough to deal with. It’s almost like dealing with a badly written computer program interface. I keep wanting to say “I called because I wanted to deal with a human. Stop acting like a computer!”

    25. Renny90

      I must admit that I hate the phone now.Dealing with people is awful nowadays and it seems like customer service is dead. I recently moved to Boston and this isn’t a friendly city. People are always so rude and snippy. It’s like their inconvenienced because they have to perform their job duties. It seems like the more polite and friendly I am, the more irate the reps become (Is this a regional thing?). That is why I prefer doing things online rather than over the phone.

    26. catsAreCool

      For me the problem with calling on the phone is that usually the times when they allow calls is when I’m at work. So I have to take time from work (I work late to make up for it) being on hold while trying to get a few things done.

      Oh, and being on hold is another thing that annoys me. I wouldn’t mind leaving a message if people would call me back.

    27. mander

      Count me as another one who hates the phone because of the general inconvenience and lack of usefulness. I can’t count the times when I’ve had to call someone because the information I want isn’t available online, only to have to sit through endless messages telling me to look on the website (duh, I wouldn’t need to call you if you had this info online). Or the time I spent two hours on hold only to get cut off, and had to get my employer to call a personal contact in order to resolve my extremely simple problem. Or the time when the customer service people could not understand the concepts of different time zones and countries — first they informed me that they couldn’t process my student loan payout because the university “was always closed” (the idea of calling in the afternoon to compensate for a 6 hour time difference was beyond them). When I finally got that sorted out they started sending my money to a university in the US that happened to be in a city with the same name as my actual university in the UK, and when I called to get that sorted out, I was asked “where is England? What state is that in?”. The rep did not understand that there were countries outside the US.

      All of these problems and more were eventually solved by email. This has nothing to do with a “bubble” or wanting to avoid people, but rather that it is easier to get an email to someone who is actually able to deal with it than it is to get through to them on the phone.

    28. Cutlet

      I hate the phone because I tend to get flustered and anxious. I have to practice what I’m going to say a million times before I call and even then, I usually stumble over my words or the person says something I wasn’t prepared for and then I struggle for the best answer. I am painfully aware of how stupid I sound over the phone. I don’t like talking to ANYONE on the phone for this reason, including family. My husband and my best friend are the only two I can speak to confidently on the phone. Email/text all the way.

    29. Jen RO

      I was the one with the medical appointment… and I still haven’t scheduled it! (I’m not feeling particularly guilty, and I hated phone calls before the internet too.)

  25. AdAgencyChick

    I realize this is different with different industries, but…

    Talk to me about what’s expected of you when you travel on business. Are you expected to work while in transit?

    Maybe I’m being a princess about it, but I do everything I can NOT to work on planes. When you’re crammed like a sardine into coach, having to hunch over a laptop is just…awful. Most of the time this goes over OK, but occasionally I get the stink eye about it.

    Curious what other industry norms are.

    1. KathyGeiss

      It’s a real mixed bag in my industry. Typically, I take a flight as an opportunity for a nap or a movie (depending on the length). But, if there is work I need to do, I’ll do it. Although our computers are so big that I’ll avoid work that requires a computer unless Its desperate that it needs to be done.

      I also despise sitting with colleagues on flights and avoid it at all costs. So, not many people see what I do in transit.

    2. Delyssia

      My company has really clearly spelled-out policy on this… at least in terms of what time counts on your timesheet. Basically, if you are traveling during your normal working hours, your travel time counts as time worked and you can charge the time to whatever the purpose of the travel is. But if you’re traveling outside of those hours, it’s only time worked if you’re actually, well, working and the time gets charged to whatever you’re working on (so if you’re traveling for Project A, but you use your travel time from 6-8 pm to review documents for Project B, then the 2 hours gets charged to Project B).

      But I don’t know how much anyone cares about whether you’re working during travel time or not.

    3. Sascha

      I’m a data analyst at a state university, and much of my work requires an internet connection, so we’re not expected to work. My bosses have never made a fuss about it, even if wifi is available (like the overpriced crappy wifi on planes). I have not ever witnessed my bosses working in transit – they’ll send an email here or there, but no actual work – so I think I’m good. This may vary by department.

    4. katamia

      I’ve never had to do this, but I can’t read when I’m in motion. I get horrible headaches that sometimes become migraines. So I hope I never have to do it, because it would destroy me for the actual on-the-ground part of the travel.

    5. Anna

      We don’t work while in transit because the fact that we’re travelling is considered work. Plus most of what we do is via email and phone so there isn’t much we can do while flying.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        I’ve had coworkers who get Wi-Fi on the plane and keep emailing throughout the flight! In my mind I’m thinking, “Are you nuts?! Nothing is THAT urgent!”

        I’m pleasantly surprised to see how many people are answering this question with “no, it’s not expected.” I feel like some, maybe even most, coworkers/bosses have been okay with me saying I’ll get to Task XYZ when I land or when I’m back in the office. And then others won’t actually say, “You should take care of that on the plane,” but they’ll give me the stink eye and “really? You can’t get that to me on [travel day]?” One actually said to me, “Can’t you do that on the plane?” Fortunately it was a coworker, not a boss, so I said, “Get me a seat in business class, and I’ll get you the manuscript on [travel day].” She shut up.

        1. Doodle

          I do think there are some people who work well on planes. I have a job where I am constantly interrupted, so 3 hours across the country is actually a really *good* time to work, even without wifi.

          I would be really annoyed if it was treated as required, though!

        2. the gold digger

          The only time I did this was after my husband’s mother’s funeral – I took all three days of funeral leave (at my husband’s request) but had a ton of stuff going on at work and didn’t want to leave people in a lurch. So I worked from my in-laws’ house and bought the in-flight internet pass so I could work on the plane.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      When I had a 50% travel job, I absolutely didn’t work on the planes, even though that left a lot of “wasted” time. I’m a fat lady, so there really isn’t space for me to fold down the tray and open my laptop; I wouldn’t get much work done. And more than that, I considered my reading time on the plane fair compensation for all the “after work” hours I put in (flying home at 9pm, etc.)

      1. mander

        Yeah, I can barely fit myself into the seat, let alone open up a laptop and start typing. Then there’s the motion sickness, sore wrists from having to contort myself into a position where I’m not elbowing the person next to me, etc etc. I tried to work on my PhD thesis on a couple of trans-Atlantic flights and it was just not happening. Things were slightly better when I got a tablet, so that I could at least read articles on it.

        These days I don’t do much that requires travel for work, but in Europe I can take the train. There is so much more space, even in the cheap seats, that I can actually conceive of doing work on a smallish laptop.

    7. Bend & Snap

      I don’t do it unless I absolutely have to. In my experience, employers don’t typically care if you work on the plane or in your hotel room or even when you get back depending on the purpose of your trip, as long as your work gets done.

      Planes are a special kind of hell, and having to whip out a laptop just makes it worse.

    8. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I actually find working while traveling productive. I can have my laptop out with no email or internet distractions.

      At my former job, we were absolutely expected to work while traveling (my boss thought salaried = work 24/7), but at my current job it’s not expected.

    9. Recent Grad

      It depends. By no means do I feel like I need to be working every single minute, especially if I’m taking the redeye home to save the company money. I once sat next to a woman who was furiously working on some report and refused to put her laptop away for landing even. We bounced a little bit and she nearly broke her screen off when it hit the seat back.

    10. BenAdminGeek

      I work in benefits administration, and it’s a mixed bag. The folks who travel a lot often work on flights, probably so they don’t have to work all weekend every weekend to catch up on emails. But most folks I’ve traveled with don’t- our work is a lot of calls and dealing with team members, so it doesn’t help. I do try to be available via text message on plane wifi if I can, just in case something needs something small urgently (eg “We deleted that really important spreadsheet you said not to delete, what do we do now?”)

    11. Noah

      We’re expected to be reasonably responsive to emails and phone calls while traveling for business. However, I don’t normally do much work on a plane either. I might read through a document or use my iPad to reply to a few emails (they can send after we land), but I don’t complete much substantive work. It is generally easier to get work done while waiting around at the airport, they tend to have power outlets and WiFi available.

    12. Ad Astra

      At OldJob, my new manager and I were sent to a sister organization about 2 hours away for some training or meetings or something. It’s common for people from our office to visit this other office for a variety of reasons, and everyone always takes a personal vehicle and then gets reimbursed for mileage and parking. New Manager, who would later prove to be a huge people pleaser and a bit of a work-a-holic, actually suggested taking the MegaBus instead so we could work while we were in transit. I was… not in favor of this idea.

    13. AvonLady Barksdale

      Our company won’t reimburse in-flight wifi, so I can’t answer emails or check on data online. However… a few months ago I was basically told, twice, to work on a presentation while in-flight (and I hate working on planes with a passion– it’s hard to type, I can’t concentrate, I love looking out the window and need to do it to stay calm), and a few days later the CEO informed all of us at a company-wide meeting that flights are for “looking out the window and thinking”. Then he told me again, two days later, that I should work on something during a flight so it would be ready when I landed.

      Sigh.

    14. Development professional

      Coming back from a very late fundraising gala for our organization, I take a nap, even though it’s technically work hours. Otherwise, I do what I tend to think of as “light” work – catching up on industry reading, reading the briefing materials for the meetings I’m traveling to, stuff like that. Generally not anything that requires typing on my laptop, UNLESS there’s something time sensitive that just needs to get done.

    15. Elizabeth West

      I don’t travel for work, but I’ve tried to do my own work on planes and it’s just awful. No room to use the laptop, the person in front always wants to recline, and it’s incredibly hard to concentrate when the flight attendant’s arse or the drink cart keeps bumping you in the elbow. I might be able to do it in business or first, but I’ll probably never find out!

    16. Dynamic Beige

      I personally believe that if you are travelling on a plane, doing work should not be done — especially work that involves confidential information. You do not know who is standing behind you at the gate or sitting in the seat behind you or what someone might see over your shoulder while they go to the loo. I know that I have seen people working on their sales presentations or whatever on planes and watched them for a while out of curiosity.

      Having said that, I have worked on a plane before and I hope to never ever do it again. I was in the middle seat and had colleagues on each side directing what I should do — it drove me mad. I now have an oversized laptop and it simply won’t fit on a tray table. You want me to work on the plane? Put me in First. It’s generally my policy that the travelling is my work for the time I’m doing it. I use it to relax or have a nap because I know when I hit the ground, it’s gonna be on.

      I know of one job that they booked train tickets instead of plane because they wanted that time to work. Not sure how much they could get done on a bumpy train, but it would have been a similar amount of time flying. I also volunteered to drive to one job (flying was not an option) because I knew the project manager would start to get stabby away from her Precious. That actually turned out well because she was able to get a lot of stuff done/e-mails answered that she would have had to do that night.

    17. NYC Redhead

      I use plane time to read professional materials- magazines, articles, etc. I take a big pile with me and then toss (well, recycle) them as I go. It’s too difficult to work on a laptop.

    18. MaryMary

      I’m so glad you asked, this is a timely question for me! I’m on the road for a week and a half starting Monday (four different cities, plus two brief stops at home. Wheeeee!). This is a first for me, most of my travel is local and when I fly somewhere it’s only been 2-3 days at the most. I’m planning to keep up with email and voicemails but try to defer everything else. If I have to I’ll crack open the laptop at night, but I’d rather not try to work on the plane.

    19. Viktoria

      Interesting question. My previous job was 90% travel, and we were hourly non-exempt. We were reimbursed like this: travel during business hours at our regular rate, work outside of our business hours at our regular rate (or overtime, of course, if exceeding 40 hours), and travel outside of business hours at a smaller “travel rate” (unless we were working on the trip- that would be logged as time worked).

      We had on-site assignments each day and a LOT of evening, sometimes weekend travel. We also had extensive reports that had to be done on a rolling basis. Financially, it was to our benefit to not work on the plane if we traveled during the day (I would usually nap or read) and work instead at night in the hotel. I think a very conscientious person could make the argument that doing so was wrong or unethical, because it cost the company more money, but it was never addressed and everyone, to my knowledge, did it that way. I’m pretty sure our manager would have specified if that were her expectation, because she used to have our job and knew how it went down.

      The travel for that job was so draining and the turnover was high, so I think we all viewed things like that as a small “perk,” although it might be a stretch to call it that. Furthermore, all our work was done on a large laptop and I personally found using it on the plane unacceptably uncomfortable. I would have been very unhappy if the expectation had been to save the company money by working on the plane.

    20. Windchime

      I’m not expected to work while traveling. My work isn’t really the kind of thing I could do on a plane anyway, because I do programming for a medical facility and I can’t expose my screen to my seatmate. Besides, I think my company is pretty reasonable and just expects us to get to our destination and rest up for the next days’ activities (usually training or a conference of some kind). I always take a laptop and I log in to work at least once daily while I’m away, and I stay in touch via text when I’m not online.

      The last time I traveled, it was a 6-hour non-stop flight both ways. Yeah, I’m already giving enough; there is no way I’m going to try to log in (even if I felt like paying $$$ for in-air wifi) and work while I’m crammed in like a sardine.

    21. Parcae

      I work for a nonprofit that has a very humane approach to work-life balance in general. There’s more pressure when you’re traveling, since its hard to keep all the balls in the air back in the office, but the general expectation seems to be that no one will seriously inconvenience themselves while in transit. Travelers sometimes send simple emails– “The Spout file is in the left drawer of my desk, and if Prunella calls, tell her the meeting has been pushed back to Wednesday”– or take work-related reading with them, but no one is full-out working on the plane. There isn’t enough room for actual spreadsheets and grant proposals, anyway. Maybe if we were swank enough to pay for first or business-class, it’d be different.

  26. Theresa

    I’ve been with my company in my first job for just over a year now and I’m starting to look at how my role will progress. I’ve been told that in about 6 months they’ll be a position opening in my department that be several levels above my current role. Because of the jump up I would need to apply rather than it being a promotion however the head of my department seemed very keen when we spoke about it, said they would probably open it to internal candidates and that she thinks it would be a good fit. My manager though has been a little more cautious pointing out that it’s a big step up and I’d need to spend the next few months demonstrating my capability. I’ve asked that I be given opportunities to show what I can do over the next few months and due to a vacancy in the department I’ve taken on some similar responsibilities already. Does anyone have advice on how I can use these next 6 months to show what I can do, particularly if there are areas where I have less experience?

    1. xarcady

      One thing you could do is get a copy of the job description. That would allow you to see what skills you have and what skills you still need. You could spend the 6 months learning software that the new position calls for, or asking for specific jobs from your boss, to get practice.

    2. TCO

      Can one of these high-ups serve as a bit of a mentor for you by giving you specific feedback about where you need to build/demonstrate your skills? Can they help send opportunities your way?

      Also, make sure that you’re keeping them in the loop about what you are accomplishing, especially on some of those high-responsibility tasks you’re already doing.

  27. Ugh

    I’m a lawyer who hates my job. I believe there are many of us. It’s been so so hard to get motivated to do anything, even though I’m working on a huge months-long trial that will start soon. In other words, I have to get myself together and work many many late nights and early mornings in the months to come.

    I think I’m going to look for a different job once the trial is over, but for now I am so sad all the time. I have other personal life stresses that certainly don’t help, but I feel like I should be able to do this.

    Any tips to get myself through months of this feeling? Even just stories of people who had a time like this and are now happy? I feel like my soul is being crushed.

    1. Bend & Snap

      Me! I love my job but a year ago, was working with difficult people and dealing with a terrible home life (marriage).

      Though happy accidents I’m no longer working with a-holes, and I’ve moved out and am in the middle of divorce, and things are MUCH happier. Like I’m blissfully happy all the time.

      Some changes are big and take careful consideration, like a new job or a relationship change, but others are small and can help too. Think self care, treats, seeing more of friends/your support system, making sure you get enough sleep and downtime.

      I hope it gets better.

    2. Anoning it Up

      There are so many of us. I’m in a similar position, and would love to hear success stories or advice as well. For now I’m just taking it one day at a time and trying to apply to a lot of other jobs. I love being a lawyer… I just don’t love being a lawyer at my current firm.

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Yes. Burn-out. You’ve got to learn to handle it.

      When the mechanisms you use to handle burnout are removed – then it just doesn’t work anymore.

    4. Lawnonymous

      May I suggest talking to a counselor? If you are in Canada, many (if not all) of the law societies provide their members with free access to counseling. I mention it because it helped me. There was a time when I absolutely dreaded going to work and I would procrastinate while I was in the office because I felt so stressed. Then I would continue the downward spiral by berating myself for not getting as much done as I should have and complete each crappy day by taking work home. I felt burnt out and stressed all the time – it was awful! I love the law and being a lawyer but I realized that I didn’t love the traditional practice of law. I was miserable and speaking to a counselor really helped me put into words what I didn’t like about my situation and helped me map out exactly where I wanted to go.

      1. bridget

        My state bar (in the US) provides free and unlimited EAP services for all lawyers and their families (because surprise, lawyers who are dealing with personal or family difficulties are the ones who are most likely to add to the disproportionate number of lawyers with substance abuse issues, depression, suicide attempts, etc. Not to mention most likely to commit malpractice).

    5. Dynamic Beige

      I think seeking the counselling is a good idea. Definitely reach out and see if your bar association or other professional association offers something similar.

      I also think that you need to do stuff that reminds you of who you are and gives you something to look forward to/a break from all the stuff. Once a week walk in the park for an hour, or Saturday morning yoga or getting together with friends Friday nights for boardgames/shenanigans. One night/a few hours isn’t going to destroy the case. If you spend a lot of your time procrastinating or trying to get into the mood, then you’re already spending a lot of time not doing the work. Maybe if you had some limits “I have to leave at 5 on Fridays because I have a 2-hour massage booked at 6pm for the next 3 months” you might force yourself to be more focused?

    6. Not So NewReader

      A person without something to look forward to can hit levels of despair that are incredible.
      After you are done with this trial can you get a week or more off? Okay, can you get a couple days off? Use personal time if you have to.
      My other thought is to think of every day as an opportunity to look around you with fresh eyes. As you go through the day, look to see what you think your next gig might look like. Where would you like to go, what would you like to do? Look around you and pretend you have never seen these surroundings before. What do you notice that you never noticed before? Challenge yourself to find something you skated by before now.
      If you feel you are ending your legal career when this case ends, can you con yourself into thinking “I am going out with a bang. I am going to do my best and with head held high, I will LEAVE this place.”

      I do agree with others who have said to look into counseling for yourself. My suggestions are just small exercises to pull you through a moment or so.

    7. Windchime

      I had a time like this and am now happy. If you are committed to staying through the trial, then I think some of the tips others have given you (counseling, having short- and long-term things to look forward to) will help to get you through.

      For me, the answer was a new job. I’ve told this story before, but we were doing a HUGE implementation on a ridiculously (impossibly so) short timeline and it was awful. People were working 10-12 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week for months on end. We were literally crying at our desks. Go-live was a disaster and there was a month of Hell afterwards. So when a sister company called and offered me a job, I jumped ship. And I never looked back.

  28. Bye Academia

    Totally unrelated to the above post, my brother is graduating college this year and interviewing for jobs. One of these wants to do a long term interview–i.e. actually have the candidates come work for them 3 hours a week, cutting the field down each week until they find the best fit over ~4 weeks.

    This is insane to me. I get that they want to make sure they hire the right candidate and that work-like activities are the best way to do that, but it seems like they are taking it overboard. Am I crazy, or is this crazy? My brother’s going to do it because he will get paid for his time, but I told him to look out for red flags with an eagle eye before accepting the position.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      At least they’re willing to pay! That seems like a step up from a lot of the “work for me as part of your interview” stories we get here

    2. K.

      I’ve never heard of this – is this a thing? I mean, at least he’s being paid and he can – and should, in my opinion – keep looking for other jobs while he does this, but it seems excessive to me.

      1. Bye Academia

        It’s a small company, and I think they’re trying to be ~unique~. He is definitely continuing to apply for other jobs-he has two other interviews lined up!

    3. Anna

      That seems like a LOT of extra paperwork for HR just for an interview process. It’s essentially filling out all the hiring paperwork for 5 people when you’ll only really need it for one. It means other candidates have an extra W-2 to worry about when taxes come along. It’s crazy.

    4. ElCee

      That is crazy, even if he is getting paid. That’s a huge and mostly pointless time suck for interviewees. What (of substance) can you even get done in three hours?
      It sounds like whoever came up with that idea watched too many episodes of “Survivor.”

    5. xarcady

      This plan would make it difficult for someone who has a job to apply for this new job. You could probably arrange to get three hours off one week, but week after week after week?

      The company is eliminating a lot of good candidates this way.

      1. Treena

        It sounds like it’s one of those jobs that only hire new grads, especially since they’re interviewing someone who isn’t graduating for months (assuming a May grad date)

      2. Chriama

        I assume the company would want to work with you. Couldn’t you claim a standing medical appointment? If it overlaps with the end of the workday you’d probably only need 1 – 2 hours off, and could possibly even avoid taking time off by using flex time (either coming in early or staying late a couple other days that week). Also, it looks like this is on-campus hiring. I definitely prefer this to the uber-competitive group interviews they like to put you in for certain positions like management consulting, especially if it’s right now and not at the end of the year when people should already have jobs lined up.

      3. Bye Academia

        As Treena said above, I think they are specifically looking for a new grad. And they are flexible about which hours he goes based on his class schedule.

    6. Sunflower

      I’m wondering what exactly the company is looking to gain here and what is the job they want him to do? First off, entry-level candidates need more training than other roles. Most of the first few weeks of a job are training and you aren’t getting a whole lot of actual work done. Sooooo are they just looking for someone to prove they can come to work everyday and learn? Seems like an expensive and drawn out process for an entry level position.

    7. Chriama

      If this is specifically a new grad / entry level role I think it’s a good idea. It’s a way for him to decide if he likes the company and the work while they also assess him. And it’s not a major time commitment so he’s free to look for other jobs or keep working at whatever job he already has. The fact that they’re paying him and the time commitment is low makes it really unlikely it’s one of those companies that try to get cheap/free labour or spec work out of job candidates. I’m actually surprized that you’re so against it!

      1. Bye Academia

        I’m not against it, I just find it very unusual. I think he’ll either get there and find that they’re very thorough and using the time wisely to find someone who has the skills and the personality fit for the job…OR that they’re dysfunctional and care more about games than hiring. I just want him to evaluate them while they’re evaluating him to figure out which it is.

  29. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    I will be graduating with my MLIS this upcoming spring. I’ve been following some job boards for awhile because they often come up in my course discussions and I’ve found myself wishing that they would post “expected start dates.” May 2016 seems like a long way from now, but given how many of these jobs are at academic institutions it wouldn’t surprise me if the search didn’t get into full swing until March or so, and then May is not so outrageously far off.

    Management Course remains… a course. This week is budgets. The readings seem focused on “what is a budget?” and the coursework on “do this advanced budget activity!” there doesn’t seem to be a lot bridging the gap from “duh, I knew this” to “wait, what?”

    1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)

      Is it Library Management? That was my favorite class. Our instructor taught from the Library Journal “How Do You Manage?” feature and it was purely class discussion based. The final project was to do the budget for a library based on the stuff we had covered in class and justify it, and mine was hilarious even to the instructor. I included true life tales of expenses from the libraries I had worked in and this poor Librarian Pangborn doing battle with attorneys who would not let her cancel certain things, while all she wanted to do was let her staff order whatever office supplies they liked as their only morale booster.

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

        This is just called “Management Concepts” and while many of the students are library students it is a required class or elective for anyone in the “Information Sciences” program, so we have students in more technical fields, a lot in health administration… it’s kind of a mix. I understand why they do it, especially for an online course, but I wish it were a more specific “library and archive management” course, the courses that have been specific just for the MLIS students have been a lot more useful than the ones open to the whole ISchool because of how they’re able to specialize!

    2. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

      I’ll be graduating with the same degree in May 2016, too! :)

      My management course was…ridiculous. The professor I had focused on this ideology about being a manager vs. a leader instead of actual, you know, management of a library. I read a lot of interesting books (and I do mean a lot! The books for that course were ridiculous!), but in the end, it didn’t really relate to library management specifically. I get way more out of reading Ask a Manager than I did from that class. Sadly, it was one of the required courses, and the other professor I wanted didn’t teach the class that semester.

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

        “I get way more out of reading Ask a Manager than I did from that class.”

        That’s how I’m feeling too. The professor is nice but our text and most of our readings relate to a corporate, Fortune 500 co. setting, and it’s a mixed group of students in the class so us MLIS students are doing a pretty good job of relating the readings among ourselves it’s not really the focus.

        I hope your last term/couple of terms go well! I’m so ready to be done with school, even though I appreciate all I’m learning (I miss the free time I had when I was just working full-time! ha!)

        1. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

          You as well! I just quit my full-time job to finish this up in the next two semesters (this and next), and I’m feeling the same way. I don’t have any evenings or weekends that are “downtime” right now, and I feel like all I’m doing is researching things or thinking about how best to research things! I said to my husband the other day, “Why did I want to quit my job and do this full time instead?!”

    3. squids

      Yep. Sounds right.

      My experience has been, all of the management skills that I’ve needed so far have been learned by observing or by talking to interesting people, not at all in the MLIS management course. I think that taught me what a GANTT chart was (could be googled) and the difference between capital and operating budgets (could be googled.)

      Good luck in the upcoming year!

    4. LibrarianJ

      I had the same frustration with my MLIS management course — a lot of it seemed very corporate-focused. I wish we’d had practical budget activities, though! Our main project mostly involved interviewing a ton of managers in the area and synthesizing their comments — really difficult while working on the side. My course actually required us to read an AAM post, though, which was my first experience with this site, so for that I’m very grateful!

      I wish more institutions posted expected start dates, too — it was very frustrating when I was job hunting. Academic hiring timelines can take a while, though, depending on the institution, so if you’re very interested in the position and are qualified I think it’s still often worth throwing your hat in. The last time I was on a search committee, the committee was formed around mid-November and our hire started in mid-March. That was a case where we really needed coverage ASAP. But for my first post-MLIS job, the position I was applying for was new, and they were willing to be flexible on start date for the right candidate. I applied in late February, was offered the position in mid-April, and started after my graduation in August. It really varies by institutional situation. You’ll also find that the winter (and other) breaks slow down the hiring process in academia, especially if there are ANY faculty involved or if the college/university closes down — so May really might not be that far off all things considered.

    5. Oryx

      I don’t remember much about my management class, the professor was the director of my MLIS program and while he was an excellent director, his teaching skills were a little….lacking.

      If you’re looking at academic institutions, the hiring process can take months and often hire on a semester schedule, so if you’re graduating in May it’s unlikely you’d have a job in the summer — they’ll most likely interview you during the summer but you’ll probably start in August, in time for the fall semester.

    6. Skye

      I graduated library school in spring of 2008. I started applying for academic librarian jobs in October of 2007, and had a couple of disastrous phone interviews right away which were great learning opportunities. I kept applying for academic jobs–none of which had expected start dates–and had a couple of interviews in late February/early March, and once offered a job in mid-March, they worked with me to find a start date that worked for all. I started in July.

      My advice is go ahead and start applying. You might some great experience at phone interviews or on campus interviews, and academic timelines tend to drag on. If they really want you, they will wait until you graduate for a start date.

      When I decided to take another academic job about two years ago, the start date was negotiable and I ended up starting about two months after I accepted the job, so I could finish a major project at my previous job and deal with a house I needed to sell. I consider myself pretty lucky in both of these situations but I do think reasonable employers will work with you on the start date.

      Good luck!

  30. midafternoon write off

    The advice earlier this week to the person that wrote in about Slackerella, but Allison’s advice pointed it out that it was really inept managing by the person’s manager really hit home. I’m currently in a similar situation with where two of my co-workers are doing the bare minimum, consistently miss deadlines, turn in shoddy work, and are always the last ones to arrive and are the first to leave. I wish my manager would do something about this. They say they are aware of the situation, but as far as I know no PIP’s have been done, nothing has been done to let these two know that the behavior and performance is unacceptable. Which drives me nuts as I and other co-workers do 80% and the other two do 20% if even that. I’ve started to look for another job, but am holding out for a promotion. If that doesn’t happen this year. Goodbye old job. Hello new job, as I can’t take another year of my manager not managing.

    Does anyone else have any issues with managers not managing problem employees? What have you done about it?

    1. Rebecca

      Yes. My manager won’t cut the slackers loose, and instead lessens their workloads and shifts things around to take the spotlight off them, while the rest of us struggle. How am I dealing with it? I’m looking for a new job. I’m tired of being over burdened while others sit and play with their phones, shop online, and just don’t do their jobs.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Sympathy. This was a problem at OldJob. Lazy Coworker missed her deadlines because of playing online games all day. But Manager thought it was because she had too much work to do. On the other hand, I was meeting my deadlines therefore I had more capacity and got her work as well.

    2. some1

      “but as far as I know no PIP’s have been done, nothing has been done to let these two know that the behavior and performance is unacceptable”

      Is this something you would know, though?

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        It sounds like managers need to communicate with their better people that something really is being done. Because without that communication, they are going to lose the good people. So, while the manager should not share details about what is going on, being “aware of the situation” is not adequate. Unless they want to be left with just the shoddy workers.

      2. midafternoon write off

        Not really, but my manager has shared other details like that with me in the past. Maybe they didn’t share that with me, as it’s not really my place, but I’ve been lead to believe that it has not been put in place. For example, one of the employees was given a project deadline as a “test” and my manager told me that it was a test. The problem employee missed the deadline by months. No consequences nor follow up with the problem employee has occurred.

    3. ElCee

      Yes. It’s one problem employee in particular and a lot of the criticism that our department gets (and my boss, as its head) is for things she has caused. So it’s particularly mystifying that he would continue to cover for her even as she risks HIS job, not to mention everyone else’s.
      Like you and Rebecca, I am looking for a new job.

    4. LQ

      I have a manager who doesn’t really manage the slackers, but it’s a little different. The manager only takes on the amount of work those of us who Do work plus those who Don’t work can do. So while the Dos cover 80% and the Don’ts cover 20% the workload doesn’t overwhelm normally and for me it just feels like a busy job, not like an overwhelming crushing can’t breathe too much job.
      With this being the case I’ve just decided that I’m ok with it. I do get acknowledged for the really hard work I do, I got a promotion recently, etc. Yeah Don’t coworkers will never work as hard or do as much and it would be nice if they did but in the end every job has problems and this is a problem I can handle.
      Is there anyway you can push back on the amount of work you do so it’s not crushing, if there was slightly less work but you were still busy and your coworkers were still shopping how would you feel? Even after a promotion? (I think that if you’d still be frustrated even if that were true it might be more worth it to look for something new with all your guns out.)

    5. Not So NewReader

      I don’t think this is the direction you were going with the question, but I found that I could only change me. I decided that the job was making me a better worker for my next employer. I decided to accept the lessons that came with the current job. No, I did not do well with this plan, some days the wheels fell over because I was totally frustrated. Then on a different day I would go back to this plan and try again. In the long run, I think it made me a stronger worker. I do not get rattled over things that seem to rattle other people. (Some things still rattle my cage, but it’s different now.) I can chug through larger amounts of work in a manner I could not do previously.

      Conversely, there have been a couple times I stayed with the job. I found that there were other advantages that suited me for that time in my life. But this is also an answer that involves your own internal thoughts on things and does not involve motivating the manager to get it into gear.

    6. Mirilla

      Absolutely. I’ve been having that issue for over a year. Management isn’t interested in managing. It’s kind of hard to stay focused on your demanding job when people aren’t held accountable for their behavior. At least be thankful you didn’t have an “air your dirty laundry” meeting like we did recently. What a way to destroy any sense of teamwork that may have existed. It’s like a rule from the handbook of “how to make your company fall apart”. Problem employee tried to destroy me as a last ditch effort to keep her job. She’s still there. I’m a hard worker and now a target of someone who should really have been let go a long time ago. I’m feeling disgusted and am job searching too. When your main problem is management, employees may come and go and the players will change but the problem always lingers. People will get away with bad behavior and the hard workers will feel underappreciated and overworked. Bad management (or lack of management) makes good employees leave.

  31. K.

    I’m trying to decide whether or not to withdraw myself from consideration for a job. It was clear to me that culturally, the company wasn’t a match for me. I ignored that at my last role and was miserable. It would also be a pay cut (which I didn’t know going in) and what they want to pay is out of sync with the amount and kind of work they’ve described. I’ve been mostly laid off (some freelance work) for months though and am going a little nuts. A big part of me thinks that my even considering withdrawing is significant enough that I should withdraw; another part of me thinks I should stick it out. Any thoughts are welcome.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      Withdraw! I think with all things you’ve said here, you’d be pretty unhappy right away and that it wouldn’t be worth your sanity, even if you are currently underemployed. Of course, I don’t know your financial situation so if it’s dire and you don’t think there will be any other opportunities in the near future, then my answer would probably change.

      1. K.

        I’m getting unemployment and I have a rainy-day fund, thankfully. My COL is pretty low (I’d been starting to look at bigger places when I was laid off but obviously decided to stay put afterward). So I would be OK for a bit. It’s just me, no spouse or dependents. I have an info interview next week but nothing tangible – actually I’ve had several rejections in the past few days for stuff I applied for immediately post-layoff.

        What I’m realizing is that I don’t think I want to go back to the industry I was working in. Before my last job I was working in an industry I loved, but I changed cities and that industry isn’t as prominent here (and I don’t want to go back to my old city). I may try to temp, which I’ve done before, to get me some income and out of the house while I try to figure things out.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      The worst job I ever had was the one where my gut said hold out and I took it anyway :(

    3. Not So NewReader

      Picture yourself months from now working at the job. Do you feel safer because you have an income OR do you feel like you let yourself down by agreeing to work for this place?

  32. Sara M

    Hey guys… A lot of you mentioned a well known tactic in last night’s post: “eat a frog” first thing in the morning. Do your most hated task first to get it out of the way.

    Any suggestions for a variation on that for me? That exact tactic doesn’t work but there must be another one. My issues: 1) terrible procrastination and I never get started with stuff, so putting the worst task first makes starting even harder. 2) totally not a morning person, can’t do much thinking work until I’m warmed up, 1-2 hours after starting.

    Thanks!

    1. AdAgencyChick

      If I’m really stuck, I choose something easy that I can accomplish in 15-30 minutes, just to get some momentum going, and THEN eat the frog.

    2. Sascha

      Do you have some small, mindless tasks you can do first thing to get warmed up, and then work on that worst task? That’s usually my routine – I have to check some applications every morning to make sure processes ran, so I do those as well as check email, chat to a few coworkers, get some coffee, and then I’m ready to work on things.

      Also I will break off from that worst task after about 30 min or so and do something else, just to get a mental break from it – if I try to force myself to devote huge chunks of time to it, I’m more likely to procrastinate.

      1. katamia

        My brain doesn’t really wake up until noonish or later, and doing small, mindless tasks seems to work best for me, too.

    3. ANON

      Remember that you have bills to pay and eventually your employer will realize your wasting several hours in the morning?

      You don’t tactics. You need personal responsibility and some actual drive.

        1. ANON

          But true. It’s amazing how motivated employees get when they have bills to pay and can’t diddle around on their employer’s time without being fired. Then all these productivity blogs and lifehacks become unnecessary.

            1. ANON

              Sure-wake up earlier so you’re “warmed up” BEFORE you get to work. Bring a bill or debt statement or a screenshot of low retirement savings and tape them to your monitor. When you’re tempted to dawdle, look at your statements and remind yourself you are NOT Paris Hilton and independently wealthy, you are not paid to “warm up”, and get sh!t done.

              Then remind yourself there are millions of unemployed people who would KILL for a chance to ROCK your job, and you’re there googling how to eat a frog.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale

                Wait… I AM independently wealthy* and I AM paid to “warm up”**. So what do I do now???

                *Nope.
                **Actually, this is kind of true. I work in a field that values creativity. I am expected– I am PAID– to do my best work from a creative, motivated brain. And I am human and I get into ruts, and you know what? That doesn’t mean I’m unmotivated and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t get shit done. When the muses don’t sing, they don’t sing, and when they’re forced, the result is pretty bad.

                I am not unique. Nor am I an ingrate who should be happy just to have a job and should push myself to bust my ass just for the sake of busting ass. Your comment was not only unhelpful, it was really, really short-sighted. People have the right to complain, to be unmotivated, to “not feel it”– as long as it’s not a regular occurrence that inhibits quality of work and life– and frankly, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have those moments. If you don’t? Great for you, but I think you’re a unicorn.

              2. Renny90

                This seriously made me lol so thank you for that. Could you imagine walking over to a coworker’s desk and seeing her Discover credit card statement and other bills taped to her monitor?

          1. fposte

            That’s demonstrably untrue, because people get fired after decent warning for these things all the time.

      1. Victoria, Please

        Well. I can see why you wanted to be ANON, although it’s pretty weenie of you. Do you also tell people to move more and eat less, and buy low, sell high, too, because that’s really all it takes?

        Sara, you could try leaving yourself a note in the evening with the EXACT TASK you need to do first in the morning to get moving on a project. That way your brain does not have to cope with making a decision when it’s still trying to rev up. Be very exact about it: Call Jack at 999-111-2222 and ask about the whatevers for the whoever. Check over excel file regarding the widgets and whatsits.

        1. Ad Astra

          I do that sometimes! Once I started making my to-do lists at the end of the day instead of the beginning of the day, I had far more productive mornings.

          When I can, I also write down what time I plan to tackle each task. You can “schedule” some easier, more mindless tasks for when you’re less focused (for me, that’s afternoon).

          And, don’t underestimate the satisfaction that comes from crossing off a completed item.

          1. Hellanon

            I do this – the last thing I do at the end of the day is to make myself a list showing what the status is of ongoing projects & a to-do list of high-priority stuff for the next day. When I was juggling 2 actual jobs, a freelance gig & several volunteer activities it was crucial to stay on top of all the bits & pieces, and I find if I don’t have to prioritize first thing in the morning, I can get started more easily.

          2. LibrarianJ

            I have definitely found organizing my to-do list at end of day to be more helpful. We use Google Apps, so I use the Google Calendar’s task feature pretty heavily. At the end of each day, I look at the tasks I’ve assigned to each day and reorganize them as necessary to accommodate tomorrow’s priorities and schedule.

            I do have certain basic tasks that repeat regularly, so I try to make sure to divide them between the days so I always have something productive low-level to start with, whether it’s sending an e-mail blast, changing our digital signage or setting up our appointment calendars for the next week.

            Then for the tasks that I want to first-thing, the tasks I’m nervous about, the tasks I’m likely to forget, I put them on my calendar for a specific time. This has REALLY helped me ease into my work and feel good about checking a few things off first thing every morning.

        2. Elizabeth West

          I do that! It’s great when I have to stop in the middle of something too. I just put a sticky note on my monitor–“Edit the Bad Wolf document in the Tenth Doctor file next”– and the next morning, when I might be all sludgy, I know where to pick back up.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Hi Anon, we don’t insult other commenters here. Please stop with the sorts of comments you’ve left in this thread (and I’m switching you over to moderation for now).

    4. Below

      I am very similar to you! I am a huge procrastinator and put things off as long as I can, especially things that are hard or things that I don’t want to do. A few things that I do are:
      – Make a list to make sure that you aren’t forgetting things. It is easy to say “I’ll do that later” and then forget that it exists, so if you are going to put something off at least write it down.
      – Then, I try and check things off the list by certain times or while looking forward to breaks. I will say that I won’t go to lunch until I check off three things or I wont read the AAM open thread until X is done.
      – Eventually, as the easier things are checked off of the list only the hard things are left and I HAVE to do them. I will also tell myself “X gets done by the end of the day no matter what” and telling myself that I can’t leave the office until it is done usually gets me in gear. I would way rather be at home eating dinner or whatever than procrastinating at my desk so I get to work.

      I hope that helps!

    5. Bend & Snap

      I make my to do list at the end of the day, so I can come in and not have to wake my brain up to get a picture of my day. I deal with emails first and then tackle my list in the order I’ve prioritized it. It works for me and I’m not a morning person either.

      Thorough, thoughtful daily planning makes things a LOT easier and more productive, and is a great habit to get into. If you clear your minimal stuff first you can swallow the frog in the afternoon when your body clock is primed for harder tasks.

      1. Kelly L.

        This too. It’s a lot like my morning routine at home, actually. Because of my commute, I have to wake up at a time that I will simply never be happy to wake up at, no matter what time I went to bed. The solution is automating what I can (e.g. the coffee maker is on a timer and brews the coffee for me while I’m still asleep) and reducing the rest of it to total routine. I can do my morning with no brain cells whatsoever.

      2. Anoning it Up

        I agree! I make my “tomorrow’s to do list” before I leave for work at the end of the day. Then when I come, I jump right into it. Sometimes its not even the whole list, its just one task that I want myself to do first thing when I come in. Once I’m going, I can usually stay going.

        esemes’s suggestion about the Pomodoro Method has helped me, too. If I’m being super procastinatey, I’ll basically tell myself “I have to work on XX for 25 really focused minutes, then I’ll check my email or whatever.” Sometimes it takes one cycle of that, sometimes a few more, but usually I end up actually getting things done. There are apps for the Pomodoro method – I use Flat Tomato, but you can really use any kind of timer.

      3. Ad Astra

        The closer you can come to making a “template” for the day, the less effort it will take to do the things you’re supposed to be doing. Set up the strictest routine possible so that many tasks start to feel automatic. Look for opportunities to eliminate lengthy decision-making processes — like the work equivalent of picking out your clothes the night before.

      4. onnellinen

        I do the opposite – to-do list at the beginning of the day, specifically because I am better late in the day, and even thinking through my priorities and meetings helps warm me up to tackle “real work”!

    6. esemes

      I struggle with this, too! I’ve found that the Pomodoro Method (25 minutes of highly concentrated work, 5 minute break; repeat) works well for me. It helps to make things manageable and less daunting.

    7. xarcady

      The bigger and uglier the frog I have to eat, the more I procrastinate. And not just on eating the frog, but on everything.

      So I “eat the frog” whether I want to or not. If I don’t, I waste days not doing much of anything. Once the “frog” is out of the way, I stop procrastinating on everything else and stuff just seems to get done like magic.

      Not that this is easy, but it used to take me weeks sometimes to get to an awful task, and now it takes days. The more you do this, the easier it gets to be.

      If you need time to work up to this on a certain day, set a time–10 am, 11 am. Do little, easy stuff before then, or spend that time gathering what you need to do the Big Ugly–references, spreadsheets, instructions, whatever, and then literally clear your desk. Then at 10, pour yourself a new cup of coffee, sit down at your nice, clean desk and Do It.

    8. bridget

      How long does your “frog” take? Sometimes I will give myself a carrot instead of a stick – I don’t let myself go to lunch until it’s done. If you need 1-2 hours before starting, this might not work, but if the frog is doable between 10-12, that might be a good motivator.

      I also have bad procrastination habits and make sure to put small, easy tasks first thing in the morning. (the “easy” part might help with your morning woes). That way I have a feeling of accomplishment already and something crossed off my to-do list, which motivates me to eat the frog, which must be done before I’m allowed to eat lunch.

      Downside to this approach: sometimes I slack off all afternoon when I come back from lunch to congratulate myself for the productive morning.

      1. Sara M

        I could see how that would happen for some people (losing time in the afternoon), but that’s not me. If I have a great morning, I double down and have a great afternoon. Conversely, if I mess up the morning, I slide into despair and my day falls apart.

        So for me, the morning-stupid is a serious woe. But I can’t seem to alter my body rhythm, so I’m trying to find ways to start my day strong.

        1. Victoria, Please

          Oof, this happens to me too, and I am a morning person. But if I can’t make that morning go for some reason, the whole day indeed is easy to bust.

          My strategy for a re-set if the morning has been bad is to set a timer before lunch and do a “mini-mind-sweep” where I write down everything I could/should do in the afternoon. Then I get the hell away from my desk for lunch so I don’t get sucked into the internetz, which is bad for the brain and body. Then after lunch I pick one thing I could do and hit it hard, again using a timer if needed. The timers are a great idea, you should definitely get a timer.

    9. squids

      If the task is hard because it’s big and complicated, then divide it up. The first step might be to make an outline, or to look something up, or to confirm a fact, or to put together the list of the people you need to collaborate with, or something straightforward like that. Eat the smallest part of the frog. Then another tiny bite.

      There’s been so many times when I’ve been stressing out about an important email, or putting together a document, or something like that, and I tell myself that I’m just drafting it. I’m not writing it, this is a draft. If an email, no addresses or subjects or attachments. Once the draft is done (just a draft! not the hard part!) then it’s often not a lot more work to turn it into the finished version. Kind of tricks my brain into thinking I’m still just doing preliminary work (low stress) right until the end.

      I feel your pain with mornings. I plow through the easy things for the first hour whenever possible.

    10. Not So NewReader

      I think it’s a good idea to use parts of everyone’s advice here- line the ideas up like tools in a tool box. I have bribed myself, I have coaxed myself, I have given myself a kick in the butt* and I have done the instant gratification thing-of getting one or two things out of the way immediately. I mixed it up. Some days one idea works and other days another idea works.

      *Be careful about using the kick in the butt as a motivational tool. Use it when nothing else seems to be working. The idea is not to beat yourself up everyday. The idea is to find several ways to make yourself get your day rolling. Please do not routinely abuse yourself with nasty thoughts- that will not work.

  33. Lunar

    Any tips on finding jobs when you have no idea what you are looking for? I know I need to get out of my current situation and I really want to work somewhere where I can be more creative, probably somewhere small. I’m pretty new to the workforce after graduating so I don’t feel very pigeonholed into one industry, but at the same time I feel unqualified for everything. I don’t have a lot of specific training in art or graphic design or anything artistic (I majored in humanities subjects). I would be completely happy with working on a more business/admin side of things if it would get me more exposure to creative work but wouldn’t want the work to be completely the same as if I was at my current job (a nonprofit) or just any company. My city is not super creative and I don’t really have any ideas for where to look (I have tried craigslist and just combing random job websites hoping I will hit on something). Does something like this exist for someone trying to break into a creative field? Do I need to go back to school? Reading AAM/my gut tell me probably not, but I have no idea where to go from here.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        As a creative manager, these were my thoughts.

        I used to hire writers from a variety of fields, but I was pretty focused when looking for graphic designers.

      2. Lunar

        Really any kind of creative. I just feel like I need to get out of a soul-sucky environment and do something more in-line with my interests. I do a lot of visual art in my spare time and did a lot of writing in school that I think I was good at and did well in, but I don’t have a lot of recent/non-academic writing experience. I would really just like to learn more about creative businesses and hopefully work in an environment that makes me feel excited, rather than drained.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny

          I don’t think school is necessary, but I’d put together a killer portfolio or writing samples– and in that vein, make sure you really polish whatever skill you’re going to present! For writing, that means study the various editorial style guides– knowing those is something else you can list on your resume. For graphics, I’d imagine there are a lot of design programs that you’d want to be familiar with enough to list on a resume.

        2. Chris

          I’m haven’t been able to find a job in graphic design with a degree, but there are always local places that need volunteers do do graphic work. It doesn’t pay, but it helps network and keep a portfolio current. And it helps deal with the crappy everyday job by feeling productive towards your goal.

          Good luck!

        3. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          One of my friends works for a non-profit consulting firm as a writer, she does direct mail, but also phonothan scripts and training packets.

          She was hired almost no professional writing experience, but they liked her combo of NP experience and college work.

      1. Lunar

        Maybe I am your friend! I have told friends to read AAM before, so it is possible that a friend of mine is on here. But I expect that a lot of people feel the same way I do.

    1. LQ

      I feel like this is what informational interviews are really good for.
      I left a very small employer and had no idea what my skills would be good for and felt completely out of water. I sat down with a few people and just asked them about their jobs, what they did, what they liked and didn’t like about their jobs and how they got there. A couple of them were even good enough to ask about my skills and say, oh it sounds like you could Y. A few of those I hadn’t considered.
      Most of the people were work contacts I had, usually distant, like at a company I worked with once or twice, etc. A few were sort of friend of a friend things.
      None of these actually got me a job, but they all helped me understand what I wanted to do, and what I didn’t want to do! What job titles to look for, where to look, etc.

  34. Barbara in Swampeast

    Is there anyone here in the vending machine business that can explain why it is good business to loose sales by not filling the vending machine until every last peanutbutter cracker is sold?

    1. KT

      Interestingly enough, many vending machine companies/owners don’t make much money from the sale of products, but from letting a company use the machine.

      When I was younger, I invested in one little machine, which I had placed in the break room of a call center. They had to pay me $1500 a month to have the machine in their break room. I made profits off the food I sold, but it was more about the payment for just having the machine. I tried to keep it well-stocked, but some times (like their busy calling season when they had people working longer shifts), I just couldn’t keep up and kept to my once a week re-stock schedule.

      1. Barbara in Swampeast

        Wow! that explains a lot. Businesses really pay for the machines to be in their break rooms, not the other way around?? Ok, I now see why the machine owners are not interested in keeping them stocked.

        1. ANON

          Some, not all-it depends on the company/vendor. Smaller companies don’t attract big vending companies, so they usually have to go to small vendors (like me!). Since they can’t guarantee traffics of hundreds of people, like a mall, they have to pay me a fee for me to feel like it’s worth having my precious machine there.

          1. Treena

            This is strange for me to hear this, because when I was an intern, I did a whole proposal to convince the higher-ups to get rid of our vending machine and get better coffee instead. We didn’t pay for the machine at all, but we paid the electricity bill for them both, a soda and a snack one, so it was a significant amount of money each month. This was a tiny non-profit that had no traffic at all.

    2. Ad Astra

      A little off-topic, but one of the best things my previous manager ever did for me was convince the vending machine guy to start carrying Diet Dr Pepper. It was a Pepsi machine and I’m almost exclusively a Coke products girl, so Diet Mountain Dew wasn’t going to cut it. And it was the only vending machine in the building, at a job where I frequently worked weird hours and often didn’t have time for lunch. But there was button (which I assume corresponds to like a tube full of sodas or something) that wasn’t filled, so my manager bugged the vending machine guy every week until he finally caved.

      1. Kelly L.

        Oh, my worst soda machine pet peeve ever!

        At one of my old jobs, we had a soda machine. For some reason, when the stocker ran out of, say, Diet Coke, he’d fill up the Diet Coke spot with Sprite. Or whatever. It drove me nuts. If you’re out of Diet Coke, just be out of Diet Coke, and then I still have my money and can buy a soda somewhere else. If you fill it up with Sprite, then I’m out my money and still don’t have a Diet Coke.

      2. Elizabeth West

        We have all these incentives to be healthy, but the machines here are full of junk food. Kind of ironic (not to mention paying $1 for a tiny Grandma’s double fudge brownie cookie pack….my favorite…..drroooooooolllll….be right back.

        1. Spice for this

          WOW! I have not had a Grandma’s cookie in a while!
          You are so right…the double fudge brownie cookie is really GOOD!

    3. mt

      Its only profitable to refill high volume machines. The mark up on each item is 10 to 50 cents. If it cost me 2 hours and $3 in gas to fill a machine i wont be doing it unless it turns quickly. I used to deliver soda to people who stocked vending machines, they would inspect every 20 ounce for expiration date, that was how close thier margins were

  35. Carrie in Scotland

    This is one of those life/work issues that is both but I will try to stick to the work side.

    A few months ago I left my home city and put my flat up for sale. However, the housing market has bottomed out. I made the choice to move based on factors which sadly don’t really exist at the moment (financial help from parent/selling quickly)

    I am wondering if, when my lease is up in Feb, if I should move back because my earnings don’t cover all my outgoings.

    What would I say to prospective employers if I do, in fact have to move back? I will only have been at my job in new city for 6 months and my work history is…job hoppy at best.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Can’t rent it out as I don’t have the money and can’t borrow any (fees/repairs/maintenance prior to being rented out)

    1. Cristina in England

      Total sympathy from me. We have had our Govanhill flat on the market for a couple of months now with no offers, and since it is on the market we can’t even put a tenant in to cover the cost of the mortgage if we wanted to. Ok, the mortgage is really low, but it is money flying out the window every month.

      Is the area of your flat desirable for AirBnB? If you had a trustworthy friend or relative to show people around and hold a set of keys for you, you could give them a percentage of each guest’s fee. Letting agents fees are extortionate so I can see how that is unaffordable. Actually I can’t see how letting agents ARE affordable!

      Anyway, you mentioned repairs. Are there repairs that would need to be carried out before renting it or is that a “what if”? What do your estate agents say about it? Did you end up dropping the price?

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        @ Christina: I will answer all these on the weekend thread – I came on here asking what I should tell employers should I have to move back.

        1. Cristina in England

          Good point, and good for you for staying on topic! I never know what day it is, that’s my problem. :-)

          I don’t think it would hurt to be honest, for the most part, about not being able to sell your flat, but you would have to be prepared to give a reason that you’re happy to be back for the foreseeable because they might think you’re headed away again as soon as you can sell up.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I would say that I moved to New City and it did not work out so I moved back. I think Alison would say the point of your story should be that you have decided to stay in Old Town and you do not plan to be moving again in the near future. A new employer would probably want to know “well you seem to be back for the moment but are you going to stay here?”

  36. LizB

    I posted a couple of weeks ago about starting to feel burnt out with my new, very demanding human services job. Unfortunately, those feelings have only gotten worse. Then I got a call out of the blue this week from a job I applied for in July, asking if I wanted to come in for an interview… and now my current job feels even more suffocating and terrible with the prospect of something better on the horizon. I know this other job is by no means a sure thing (although the first interview went well, and I have second one next week!), so I don’t want to completely check out of my current job, but something needs to change. I’m thinking about asking my boss about shifting a few of my responsibilities, or changing up my schedule. I had such high hopes for this job, but I looks like I just can’t hack it in the current situation.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Am I remembering correctly, were you talking about what you did for a living and it sounded really dangerous? Maybe I am thinking of someone else.

      I hope your second interview goes great….sending good vibes your way.

  37. Malissa

    So I had an odd thing happen this week. On Wednesday I applied for a job, on it’s first listing day, that was a great match and right at the level I want to be. On Thursday I noticed the same organization posted a very similar job, but one step lower. So I went to their website and found only the lower position listed now. And it’s listed in such a way that it sounds like they want to hire at the very low end of the range and train the person.
    When I checked on my application it had some how gotten transferred to this lower position and the position I applied for disappeared. I would not have applied at all for the lower position. If they are willing to pay close to the top of the range I might take the position, and that’s a big might, because it would be doing work at a level I was at 9 years ago.
    Would you still go if called for an interview?

      1. Dot Warner

        I agree. If you get called for an interview, explain what you saw when you originally applied and ask what happened. It could be this was just an honest mistake – HR thought they needed a Senior Teapot Maker but they actually needed an Assistant Teapot Maker – or it could be their budget suddenly got cut and they can no longer afford to hire someone at your level.

        1. Sunflower

          I agree. There could be a slew of reasons this happened. Just bring it up and see what they say. If they say something like what Dot Warner says, let them know that you’d be interested but you’re not sure if your salary expectations are now in line with the position. Talk salary early so you can figure out if you’re interested or out.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      I wonder if they mistakenly posted the higher level job instead of the lower one when it was spotted.

  38. Holly

    First, update: IT Guy has pretty much stopped, mainly because I’ve been short/to the point whenever he engages in conversation with me – plus the last time he pulled that “what’s cookin’?” crap I just went silent for a beat like I was refusing to acknowledge it. I think that made him feel awkward… thankfully.

    Now, a question: is there a polite way to tell someone that you’re non-exempt and can’t work the extra hours they expect of you?

    My boss knows this, of course, but department heads elsewhere keep asking me to finish up a project after hours or over the weekend and, well, my boss would have to approve the extra time..which he’s not inclined to do (he doesn’t see why it can’t be done during normal hours, and I agree with him.) Twice this week I’ve had to tell the heads that I’m not salary and can’t just finish something late; the first time Head A was surprised but understood, barring me finishing it first thing in the morning. The second time, Head B was absolutely shocked that I wasn’t salary and said that they needed to look at getting me switched over so I could work “60 hours a week like I do.”

    =/ I know bringing up salary/money is extremely… taboo, almost, but how else can I address these situations?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      I just say, Sorry, I have to be out at X o’clock unless you can get me approved for overtime. It’s not at all taboo, it’s very normal!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Yes, Holly, never say “I can’t, because…”, if you can say “I could, if…”. You CAN work overtime if it’s approved, and it’s not your call, so don’t make it sound like you’re the impediment to what they want! It looks much better for you if you pass along requests like that. (Of course, if you know your boss never approves them, you can warn the Heads about that, but you should still offer to ask/let them ask.

        1. Holly

          Will definitely take that wording next time it happens!

          I got very lucky for the second time it happened – my boss was literally sitting next to me!

      2. The IT Manager

        Agree that it’s not taboo. You’re not talking about I make $25K which some consider taboo although they shouldn’t. You saying I am non-exempt and my boss must approve overtime.

    2. AdAgencyChick

      I’d bring your boss’s name into it, instead of just saying you’re non-exempt. “Fergus doesn’t want me here past 5, because he needs to keep the overtime budget down.”

      And I’d also let your boss know how often this is happening. It may be that he needs to speak to his peers in other departments and tell them to back off the requests or give them to someone else who’s exempt.

      1. Sunflower

        I agree- esp with bringing your boss into this. Also, the only way to get switched to non-exempt is to change your job responsibilities. This is really hard for some people to understand but you don’t get to decide who’s exempt and non-exempt- the law does. Your job is non-exempt for a reason!

      2. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, loop the boss in. Tell the person asking that Boss has to okay it. Tell the boss that people are asking. This should end your problem entirely.

        Do be aware that there maybe some discord going on amongst the bosses running in the background. And your situation here might be a symptom of a larger problem. Why are other bosses trying to get you to work over, when your pay does not come out of their budget?
        So loop your boss in ASAP, this one is not your headache.

    3. LQ

      Totally agree about boss’s name in.

      “I need to loop Boss in because he has to approve all overtime requests.” You could even put it up to them, “Would you like me to do that?”

      I had an issue with people trying to give me work directly and my boss really wanted everything to go through him because it allowed him to prioritize and say no to things that might have Other Reasons for saying no. It took about 6 months or so but people almost always ask me “Do I need to talk to Boss about this before I talk to you?” or even “I’ve already talked to Boss about this.”

    4. Observer

      No taboos involved here, but that’s not really relevant. All you need to say is “I’m not allowed to stay late without my boss’ approval, as I’m non-expempt.”

    5. catsAreCool

      Maybe just tell them that you’re not exempt, and you’d have to ask your manager to approve any overtime. That seems like the kind of thing that would sound friendly but would make people back off because they probably won’t want to pay extra.

  39. Dot Warner

    I got a job! I’m no longer unemployed! Woohoo!!!

    New job is the overnight shift, 7 days on, 7 days off. Any suggestions for how to deal with adjusting to nights? (I’ll be training on days for the first few weeks.)

    1. Anie

      Oh, overnights! I can be awesome.

      Everyone is different, but what helped me was reaaaally sticking to the schedule. That means on my off days, I’d do my best to stay awake the same times. With your schedule that may not be feasible, though.

      One thing that killed me was not having a full sleep. For example, when I worked 10pm to 6am, I got into the habit of sleeping until 10 or 11 am, hanging out with family all day, and then sleeping again from 6pm ish until 10pm. I need 6-8 hours in a row to function, but I know other people who LOVED doing that and REM sleep happened quickly for them.

      Also, if possible, standing, headphones, or conversation is VITAL around 2-4 am.

      1. Dot Warner

        Thanks! My spouse works during the day and we don’t have any kids, so there’s no reason for me to get up in the middle of the day unless the house is on fire. :)

    2. Anon the Great and Powerful

      The most important thing is to stick to the same sleep schedule every day. Staying up all night on your days off is weird, but it makes it easier, trust me. Also, get blackout curtains for your bedroom so you can sleep during the day. If you live in an apartment, ask your neighbours to avoid vacuuming/screaming/general chaos during your daytime sleeping hours.

      1. Dot Warner

        Thank you! I already have blackout curtains (spouse is a light sleeper) and my neighborhood is pretty quiet. Not sure how staying up on my days off is going to work, but maybe I’ll give it a try.

    3. SilverRadicand

      Congrats!

      Night shift can be fun. When I was night shift, the main thing that helped me was, if possible, set aside a new block of time to sleep and stick to that being “normal”. I used to work 11p-7am and I considered 8a-3:30p my new normal time to sleep and having that routine really helped. Also, go to sleep before the sun comes up if possible and buy some light blocking curtains for your bedroom. If you are able to sleep during usual business hours, then being awake during the 5p-10pm range will help your social life not take such a hit.

      Also, the whole 7 on, 7off thing will probably tempt you switch your sleep schedule back and forth each week. Don’t do it! Stick with your chosen sleep schedule all the time and it will make it easier to adjust.

      Have at the new gig!

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        I had a job like that years ago (graveyard, 7 days on, 7 days off), and I did switch by 12 hours every 7 days. It seemed to work for me.

        When I was going into it, I would take a nap about 5 pm for a couple of hours, and then get up and go to work. Then I slept in the mornings when I got home from work. On the 7th day, I’d just take a nap when I got home, get up, and then go to bed at 9pm or so, and get up in the morning and be on days again. The first day off work and the first night on work I was a bit tired, but otherwise I adjusted fine.

        All that to say: be willing to try switching, if you want. I suspect it will be easier to switch if you’re also a person who recovers quickly from travel to different time zones and has no problem with the changes from standard to daylight savings time and back.

    4. Anx

      Your schedule sounds like a dream to me.

      I think you might find it beneficial to work out how this is going to affect your social life and running errands. Even with 7 days off, you might run into some logistic issues otherwise
      .

  40. I know this isn't ideal, but...

    So I’m going anonymous for this one…

    I am in the beginning stages of dating a supervisor* a couple levels above me at work. Not MY supervisor, but one nonetheless. We work on different shifts and he is not in my direct chain of command, but should I happen to be working on his shift for various reasons I would still have to go to him for approval or questions. This is not so much my issue (where I work this is pretty common – most people end up dating and/or marrying coworkers just because of the kind of hours we work and whatnot – it’s very common in my field in general, dysfunctional as it may be.)

    Aaaanyway, my issue is how to deal with this with coworkers. Right now it’s very casual and so we’re obviously not sharing anything with anyone really (I’ve only told a few of my non-work friends even), but if it does become serious, I’m sure it will come up. Any suggestions for how to handle this in a low key and drama free way? My workplace is full of gossip, drama and rumors (again, I know, dysfunctional, but I love most of what I do and it’s another one of the unfortunate norms in my line of work), so this makes it extra hard. Any ideas for scripts on what to say and/or how to shut down people prying into my personal life? I’ve been there for years, am good at my job and my work is very respected, and I am truly hoping that this continues, and doesn’t somehow turn into a “she’s sleeping with the boss” type issue :/

    *as the name I chose for this post states, I know this isn’t ideal. I tried very hard to avoid getting sucked into the dating someone at work thing, even though it’s so common where I work. But I haven’t had much luck meeting someone who I see myself with long term, and I really do see that possibility with this one. I’d love it if one of us was able to move on to somewhere else if it became serious, but that’s not really an option with what we do. Unless one of us takes on a very long commute.

    1. Kai

      If people pry, just be vague and boring: “Yep, we’re dating. It’s going well, thanks!” *change the subject* If you treat it as a non-issue, chances are other people will, too.

      If people make inappropriate jokes or comments, though, try to shut that down immediately. A simple “wow” or “really?” will go a long way.

    2. AndersonDarling

      I don’t have the kind of advice you are looking for, but I wanted to suggest that you loop HR into the relationship. I don’t know how your structure is, but we’ve had 2 couples who were asked to leave because of supervisor-ish relationships. One or both of the pair had to find another job once HR found out. If this is something serious, you may want to officially bring it up so you don’t run into trouble later.

      1. I know this isn't ideal, but...

        Thank you for the advice and I do appreciate it, but I don’t think that type of thing will be an issue here as like I said it’s very common where I work. I work with three different couples where one half is married to someone one level above them in the supervisory structure, two where it’s two levels (like one would be) and one where she’s married to the equivalent of the deputy director. Not to mention the plenty of others who are married/dating people around the same level as them. I do think we’ll clue them in certainly, but I’m not worried I’ll be forced out over it or anything.

    3. lionelrichiesclayhead

      When I started dating my boyfriend we were working for the same company and we handled it by not telling anyone about it. End of story.

      Haha ok but seriously. My workplace was also very drama/gossip/rumor filled and I absolutely did not (and he didn’t either) want anyone feeling like they could talk to me about my personal relationship or someone think it was getting in the way of our work. It was over a year before anyone knew and by that point it was old news before it was even news. You have no idea how awesome it was to shut down one of the office gossips who sidled up next to me in my cube and, with a big grin on her face, asked if i was dating my boyfriend. “yes, since over a year ago. kthxbyeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.

      In my opinion, the easiest way to keep out of the gossip mill is to not provide that information. Obviously we knew that it would come out eventually but we did everything we could to keep it on the down low for as long as possible. I think I’m wondering why you feel your coworkers will know anytime soon unless you aren’t trying to hide it. And I use the word “hide” loosely here. You don’t need to be weird about it but how would your coworkers know in the first place unless you told them? I ask that sincerely because maybe you live in a small town and can’t go out to the movie theater without running into a coworker so maybe it’s not possible to keep it private like it was for me.

      I do agree that if people find out and it’s obvious that they know for sure (and would be weird for you to deny it), just keep it light, boring, and change the subject. And if you do run into someone making inappropriate comments (hopefully not) I would tell them in a flat tone that it’s inappropriate and then move on.

      Cheers to your new relationship!

    4. Weekday Warrior

      I’d advise telling your co-workers in a low key way when you’re ready but not too far in the future, especially if things do get more serious. It feels quite weird to learn that co-workers have a relationship you didn’t know about, knowledge that might have affected conversational topics, venting, etc. It’s not just about romantic relationships – the same awkwardness came up in a letter from an OP who didn’t tell her venting co-worker that OP was best friends with their boss.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I have heard it said that these things are not a problem UNTIL there is a problem in the relationship or a break-up. That makes the gossip fly. I think being aware of that will help. And just the general advice of not talking about your bf will also help.
      Congratulations, btw. This sounds like a real good thing.

  41. Lori

    Has anyone ever used a professional reference-checking service? If so, which one(s) would you recommend?

  42. BenAdminGeek

    Wondering how others deal with teams you don’t manage, but still end up being accountable to the client for? I’ve never had issues before, but I think it’s been mostly force of personality to jolly along other teams. But I’ve hit a team that’s missing deliverables, making mistakes, etc. I’m the project manager for our work, so I’m going to the client with this issues daily right now. The root cause is their manager doesn’t care about quality work, and her director is too busy to get involved day-to-day. I’m a peer to the manager, not the director, so I’ve been hesitant to go to the director.

    How have other AAM readers handled this in the past?

    1. Sibley

      You need to go to the director. It’s affecting the client, so it needs to be addressed. If the other manager won’t do it, then the director needs to know.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead

        Agreed. You give the manager their chance to make things right and then move along up the chain as necessary.

    2. MaryMary

      You can also try giving people on the team better line of sight to the client and the impact of their mistakes/missed deadlines. I’m assuming you’re client facing and the team is not. Articulate the impact of mistakes and missed deliverables to the team. Since you’re in ben admin, I’m guessing the client’s employees might be impacted. Talk about the personal impact to the employees. Or the impact to other internal teams, if there are manual workarounds that need to be implemented. Just because the manager sucks, doesn’t mean the entire team does.

    3. Polka dot bird

      In my org I would talk to the manager and when that failed to sort it out I would escalate to my director who would talk peer-to-peer with their director.

    4. Witty Nickname

      It’s tough being project manager when you don’t have any actual authority over your project team members. (I project manage people anywhere from 1-3 levels above me, so it creates an interesting dynamic sometimes). If you’ve clearly laid out the client’s expectations for the quality of the work, and the due dates on the deliverables in your project plan, and they aren’t meeting those, then yes, I think you need to go to the director.

      You should also make sure you are capturing risks to the project on an ongoing basis and reviewing those with all of your internal stakeholders. Not meeting deadlines and low quality work are two pretty serious risks when you are doing client work, and your internal stakeholders should be the ones making the decisions around how to address those risks (I always tell my stakeholders this – as the project manager, my job is to identify the risks, with input from my team as necessary, and their job is to decide what to do about those risks. I’m happy to make suggestions, but the ultimate decision is up to my project sponsor and stakeholders).

  43. Lindsay

    Hey! I work in a small academic library. One of the student workers, along with a full time staff member, put up a book display of Halloween related books – ghosts, monsters, etc. Cute, right? Except one of the books they included is “Hungry Ghosts” by Jasper Becker…. “the unforgettable story of the century’s greatest human rights disaster, in which more people died than in Stalin’s purges and the Holocaust put together.”

    Um, obviously that’s pretty insensitive. But do I say something? Email? I doubt they meant it – I think they just searched for books with ‘ghost’ in the title and put them up.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      Yes, say something! I would just ask if they’ve read the book and I’m assuming they’d say no. If they say no, I’d just explain why it might offend people. Or if you don’t want to confront her directly, I would put the book back where it belongs. I’m sure a lot of other people here have better ways of phrasing it though.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Honestly, if it were me, I’d grab the book off the display and go to whatever full time staff member was in charge of the displays and say “Hey, I don’t know if you noticed, but this got mixed in with the Halloween display. It must have been a mistake–it’s about the Holocaust. Did you want me to re shelve this for you?” (Or whatever you need to do, put it in the pile.) Email I think would be overkill, unless you can never reach them, and even then I’d go with a similar wording.

    3. Jcsgo

      Can you just discreetly take it down and put it on one of those “Books to Be Re-shelved” carts? Or is it behind glass or something? I’d definitely say something – and word it just as you did. “FYI – just noticed this… “

      1. Jcsgo

        By “definitely say something”, I mean if necessary, bring it to the attention of someone who can remove it. I’m pretty sure they would want to–and if not, then we’ve got an AAM nightmare story brewing…

        But if you can just remove it – do that and don’t mention it. I assume it was not intentional, like you said.

    4. Tomato Frog

      Yeah, just grab it and take it to the student’s supervisor or the person in charge of exhibits so they can clear the exhibit status in the catalog. Removing a book from an exhibit isn’t a big deal. Alternately, just check it out yourself! Don’t return it until the exhibit’s down.

      1. Lindsay

        Done! Easy! My manager laughed. I was mostly overthinking it because this place is extremely conservative, and I’m too liberal for them – I’ve had to stand my ground on a few other things here and I am stressed about rocking the boat.

        Thanks for everyone’s help!

        1. Observer

          This is totally not a liberal vs conservative thing, though. So, it’s not surprising that your manager didn’t react strongly.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      Say something! You’re probably right that it was a title search with little or no thought beyond that.

      On a lighter note, this reminds me of when I worked in a bookstore and discovered that someone had shelved books by Gay Talese in our Gay/Lesbian section.

      1. Kelly L.

        I once saw Margaret George’s The Autobiography of Henry VIII in the autobiography section. It’s a novel! He’s been dead for hundreds of years and didn’t write an autobiography! :D

        1. Hellanon

          My favorite little bookshop here earned that title by shelving Ayn Rand under “Science Fiction”…

  44. esemes

    Any tips for keeping one’s spirits up in the midst of a LONG job search (industry change; city change) where there has been a lot of rejection and almost getting an offer? I know that this is the industry that I want/need to be in, but getting in is extremely difficult.

    1. Blue_eyes

      No tips, but I feel ya, I’m in the same position. I’m trying to change areas while in a very competitive job market and it’s been about 1.5 years. I’ve found that for me at least, the feelings seem to come in waves. Some days/weeks I’m hopeful and ready to keep plugging away on applications, and some weeks I’m very pessimistic about ever finding anything. I try to just ride out the bad feelings because I know they will fade in a few days.

      1. esemes

        I’m sorry that you are also going through this. It is VERY comforting to know that someone else is having a similar experience. I just passed the 1.5 year mark…

        THANK YOU for your encouragement! I will be praying for your job search. :)

    2. AdAgencyChick

      I feel you. Before I got my current job I’d been searching for about a year, and I’m already employed in the industry I want to be in! Near the end it really started to feel like, oh my god, I’ve priced myself out of moving, I’m hanging on by a thread at my current job, and every day I spend not moving back into the subspecialty I want to be in is a day that my skills in that role are getting staler.

      All I can say is, it only takes one. Once that one happens, the 37 rejections that came before it will melt away in your mind. Best of luck getting that one!

    3. mander

      Ugh, I feel your pain. I’m currently working in a short-term contract job that will likely end on Friday, but before that I looked for a job — any kind of job, not just those in my relatively specialized field — for 3 YEARS (!!) after I finished my PhD. I’m very lucky that my husband makes enough to support us both in our modest lifestyle and has been very supportive, but it has not felt good at all.

      The only thing I can suggest is keeping yourself busy and not dwelling on it. I started a very tiny business and went to a lot of free business development courses in my city, got involved with a local history research project, and started doing DIY projects in my house. I still wrestled with feeling like a failure, but at least I sometimes had other things to do to take my mind off it.

  45. CrazyCatLady

    I contacted my former job about the possibility of consulting because I know there is a weird, niche hole in operations since I left. They seem to want me to come on, but I would be doing it remotely so they’re trying to figure out the logistics and technology first. In some of my conversations with them, they were asking what hours I’d be available, how many hours I’d be available, etc. To me, that seems to be almost an employee, rather than a consultant. When I’ve consulted in the past (not much), it’s been on my own schedule with a set turnaround time; not specific hours. I know the IRS has its own definitions of this but I’m not sure I totally understand them. Anyone have any insight?

    1. Anie

      Maybe they just wanted a general idea to base pay? But yeah, technically they couldn’t be dictating specific hours.

    2. Cucumberzucchini

      You just need to set some boundaries. Say I can handle approximately X amount of hours per week and we can schedule a 1 hour status update call once a week (or whatever) to discuss deadlines, milestones and projects.

      It may be because you’re a former employee that they’re asking for this, or maybe they’ve never hired a consultant before.

      I just turned down a possible project because it was clear what the really were looking for was a remote employee not a contractor and it wasn’t worth the annoyance especially since they were also cheap.

      1. CrazyCatLady

        Okay, thanks. That helps for the follow up chat I have scheduled with them. I did tell them approximately how many hours I’d be available to do work in a week, and told them it would almost always be less than 24 hour turnaround unless it were a longer-term project. I don’t think they do have experience hiring consultants (I did, when I was there, but I was probably the only one who ever did). I don’t want to be an employee because I’m out of state, and think I’d have to pay taxes in both states (though I’m not sure).

        1. KitCroupier

          Re: taxes
          If you work in one state and live in another you will pay taxes to the state you work in, but come tax time you can ‘credit’ that money towards your home state. Just have to make sure that the tax rates are about equitable or put more into withholding.

        2. Thinking out loud

          No, I think you pay in one state only – I think it would be the state you live in, but I am not a lawyer or a CPA.

  46. Marissa

    My boss recently resigned to work at another company (she loved it at this company, but wanted to branch out in her career after 10+ years working here). It has been about 2 weeks since she left, and I am now the only editor in our office. Things have been working out pretty well. I’ve been moving a lot of projects along by myself with positive results. I’m quite a junior person, however. This is my first job in my field, and I have been working at this job for 1.5 years.

    My question is: Can I apply for (or expect) a raise?

    It seems too soon to be asking this question, but I think my responsibilities have increased overnight (at least in importance). I’m not necessarily doing more, but my decisions currently carry a bit more weight. I’m also currently in a more ‘client-facing’ position, corresponding more with authors and clients.

    We are looking to hire someone to replace my boss within the next month, with interviews already taking place. I guess I just don’t want to go back to way things were, and I want to keep my new levels of responsibility when this new person joins our team. I figure, if I’m given a raise, my new responsibilities will somehow be solidified. Perhaps this is misguided logic. Right now, I think it’s smartest to keep doing what I’m doing—working hard and stepping up when I’m needed—and hope my efforts are recognized. But, if people advise this is the best opportunity to negotiate a new standing for myself (either monetarily or otherwise), I’d be interested to give it a go. Does anybody have any thoughts on how I should approach this new situation?

    1. Anie

      This just happened to me over the summer.

      The editor-in-chief left and I took over a good portion of the duties (alongside a separate manager who ending up leaving herself within a couple weeks). Before she left, the editor-on-chief demanded I get a raise or bonus or title change or SOMETHING.

      I got nothing.

      Within 3 months, a new editor was hired. I still do some of the duties AND I get treated like a moron by my new boss.

      So yes, you deserve these things. Whether or not you get them is uncertain. Best of luck.

      1. Marissa

        I’m sorry your new boss treats you that way. That sucks.

        This new person is not necessarily being hired as a “Senior Editor”, so it’s unclear right now whether they will be my new boss or my new peer. Regardless, I’m going to have to step in and familiarize them with our processes; so it’s going to be an interesting transition.

      2. Ad Astra

        I was in a similar situation when my direct manager quit, leaving me as the only digital editor in the organization. I was only about six months into the job and was now in charge of all of my former manager’s duties. We needed about 12 hours of coverage a day, which is why we’d been working a staggered schedule, so I was trying to come as close as possible to that on my own. I had to apply for my manager’s job, and the EIC tacked on a special requirement to write a long action plan in addition to the normal application. They hired someone else without even interviewing me, so I got to train my new boss. :(

    2. BRR

      Not really, it’s typical to temporarily take over certain responsibilities. I also wouldn’t ask because interviews are already taking place, it’s not like you’re doing these things for a long period of time.

      1. BRR

        Reading your reply to Anie, if you keep some of the new more important responsibilities, then ask. If the new hire is your boss, don’t.

  47. Mocha

    This week I got, and accepted, an offer for a position that’s leagues better for me in terms of fit, work environment, benefits, and basically everything else than my current (former) position. I’m a recent grad, and this was my first job out of college; I hated it from the moment I started, but did my best and got to be friends with a few of my coworkers, though we never saw each other outside of work. I gave my notice yesterday in a polite and “It was a really difficult decision to leave” manner, but my manager got very offended, questioned me aggressively about how exactly my new position was better than this one, and told me to forget the regular two-week notice, my last day would be today. This is fine financially–my new employer said that I can start as soon as I want to–and I’ve literally been dreaming of being able to quit this job for months, but I can’t help but feel upset by 1) his reaction, and 2) the fact that that I won’t have a chance to properly say goodbye, both to my coworkers and this period in my life. Instead I had to awkwardly be like “Hey, I just wanted you to know that I’m leaving the company, and my last day is, um, tomorrow.”

    So now I’m getting ready for my last day, and I feel weirdly very sad about it. I have anxiety, and get extra-stressed around changes in my life, even though this is a happy change–I had sort of been counting on the two weeks to help my brain wrap its head around that, and now I have to deal with it all at once, and I’m getting retroactively weirdly nostalgic about a position where I dreaded going to work every day. Is it normal to feel this bad about leaving a job I couldn’t stand? Has anyone else had an experience like this? Also, does anyone have advice on how I can deal with my manager if he gets snarky with me again? Thanks, guys.

    1. Ad Astra

      Your boss sounds like a jerk, but all the feelings you’re describing sound extremely normal. If you can, it might make sense to email your coworkers with your phone number or your personal email (whatever info you want them to have) so they can stay in touch.

      I would minimize contact with your manager today, wrap up whatever you can, and then head to happy hour at 4:50.

    2. esemes

      Hooray for the new job! Sorry that things ended on a less than ideal note at your current job.

      I heard something recently that really helped me–whenever there is change there is also loss and it is okay to grieve that, even if the thing that you are changing to is good/better. Also, it is ALWAYS easy to see things more ideally in retrospective, particularly when there is a lot of unknown on the horizon. It is SOOOOO normal.

      In this case, your change sounds GOOD. Congratulations!!

    3. Jcsgo

      Congratulations on the new job! I’m sorry your previous manager reacted this way. That’s not normal, nor should it be. Be cordial with your manager – and take the high road.

      Take some time (if you can, financially) before you start your new job so you can start to wrap your head around the transition. Be patient with yourself – lots spinning around you with all the changes!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      Did you give notice verbally or via letter? If it was verbal, go write a brief resignation RIGHT NOW, and say that you offered to work for two more weeks, but you and your manager agreed that it was mutually beneficial for you to leave today. Then give a copy to the manager and to HR. You do NOT want your manager badmouthing you because you “only gave a day’s notice”, and after their reaction, that sounds like a legitimate concern.

      1. Mocha

        Oh my god, it was verbal notice and that hadn’t even crossed my mind! I’ll go do that right away, thank you SO much.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Weirdly nostalgic. I think I just said this to someone else, also. It’s okay to have this mixed bag of emotions. Very seldom is any situation totally bad, there are usually a few good things even if those things are small.

      Some of that nostalgia could be just the wishing and hoping for the situation to get better and the realization that it did not get better.

      If your boss gets snarky again, take the high road. “I am sorry you feel that way. I learned a lot in my time here and I appreciate the time you have spent with me.” OR “I am sorry to hear that. I do wish the best for you and everyone here.”

      1. catsAreCool

        This! The high road usually works well. It gives your manager nothing to complain about, you get to feel good about yourself – you did the right thing, and co-workers will be likely to notice too.

  48. BEC and cool (losing thereof)

    Help! How can I stop going BEC over all the noises the guy behind me makes? At first they were slightly justifiable as annoying e.g. humming and foot-drumming (not really frequent or prolonged enough to mention, but my stupid weirdo brain felt on edge and scared to start concentrating, waiting for the next burst), then it was hayfever season and he sniffed several times a minute which is one of my pet hate sounds, but now even standard office noises like typing, mousewheel/mouse-clonking noises and quiet but squelchy gum-chewing are going right through me.

    I’ve tried headphones but the annoying frequencies still get through and I have to take them out a lot as we have a lot of work-related conversations in the office. Noise-cancelling headphones might help but I don’t know if they get rid of un-constant noises like typing and everyone will probably think I’m super rude for cutting out work conversations.

    I totally know it’s my problem and not his, I just don’t know what the problem is to fix it. Personal space? I am more sensitive to repetitive noise than most people but I end up going BEC about anyone who sits in the seat right behind me and I’m generally OK with people further away or where I can see them. I do have social anxiety.

    I do suspect I may have inattentive ADHD but I don’t think I’m likely to get a diagnosis for various reasons (not fitting the stereotypical demographic, history of anxiety/depression makes doctors always jump to that conclusion, a pretty stable work history as tbh I’ve lucked into places that don’t tend to sniff out underachievers as long as a steady stream of urgent but minor busywork is still getting done and I always cling on, scared to move on). So meds are out, but I’m happy to read up on coping strategies.

    1. BEC and cool (losing thereof)

      I forgot to say thanks in advance! There’s that inattentive thing again, I guess. Thanks!

    2. katamia

      For what it’s worth, I used noise-cancelling headphones when I did transcription and while they did block a lot of noise, I could often still hear when people in the other room would yell to me to ask me something (not angry yelling, but I first used “call” there and I just wanted to make it clear I’m talking about loud voices and not phones).

      Do be aware, though, that noise-cancelling headphones can make some people sick. It’s some sort of inner ear thing, I think. I’d get horrible headaches and sometimes nausea from my noise-cancelling headphones, which is one reason why I wanted to stop doing transcription so badly. So I’d see if a friend or relative or even coworker would let you borrow theirs if they have a pair to use for an 8-/10-/however-long-you-work-hour period to see if it has that affect on you. (Although plenty of people have no problems whatsoever with them–I think I’m very much in the minority but also just wanted to mention it.)

      Is there another workspace you could move to?

      1. BEC and cool

        That’s good to know about noise-cancelling headphones, thanks. I had a lot of ear problems as a kid so yes, sounds like a good idea to borrow some first.

        Another workspace – there is some free space which I’ve been tempted to ask to move to but worried about how it will look to the rest of the team. It’s also further from the people I work with but closer to the people he works with, so I’ve considered suggesting that “one of us” moves into it, but I don’t know if I have the diplomacy required to sell that.

      1. BEC and cool

        No but it sounds a lot like me. Thanks for the pointer; I’d read about it before (last time there was someone in the dreaded right-behind-me seat), and bells rang, but I forgot about it again.

        Is it an actually recognised condition? My GP is a little… oldfashioned, which is another reason I don’t think I’ll diagnosed with ADHD any time soon. I think the UK in general is slower about picking up on these things than the US, which I know some would say isn’t a bad thing, but that’s probably a debate for a different comments page…

      2. fposte

        I don’t think there’s anything they check for on that, though, or any treatment they give, at least not yet.

        BEC, I think it’s also worth exploring some cognitive exercises for yourself to minimize the impact of your reaction on your day. I’m trying to find a good free example and not having any luck, but basically, the point would be to consciously limit how long you think about the noise and to deliberately focus on something else instead. The challenge is generally in influencing our own *response* to the noise, and that’s something we can generally train ourselves to limit.

        1. BEC and stupid username

          Thanks fposte. I’ve done CBT before for other problems and tried a little meditation, though not really stuck with the latter, so I’ll have a think whether I can apply any of the concepts to this.

      3. Anx

        Misphonia and ADHD have a significant comorbidity rate. Much like anxiety and depression and sleep disorders, I believe it’s tough to tell when it’s comorbid and when there’s a misdiagnosis.

    3. hermit crab

      I’ve totally been there, and you have my sympathies! Ultimately, the only thing that really worked for me was moving my workspace. Meanwhile, maybe try playing white noise through your headphones? It helped me a lot with the “annoying frequencies” — you can even play music at the same time as your white noise, for extra “protection.” My go-to white noise website was simplynoise dot com, but there are lots of other options out there.

      The other thing I recommend is trying to make friends with the guy. I find that I am so much less annoyed by noises when I like the person who’s making them — it makes it a lot harder to slip into the “I hate so-and-so! They are making these noises AT me!” mindset.

      1. BEC and stupid username

        Hmm, you’re probably right about making friends. We’ve had some friendly conversations and it does feel like I’m talking to a different person to the one that makes the noises, but as soon as it ends my brain is back to its grumpy self.

        I wonder if this is one reason noises behind me bother me so much – when the person opposite me makes noises my brain is happy to go “that’s Wakeen tapping the desk and I like Wakeen so that’s fine” whereas if I can’t see the source of the noise my brain doesn’t make that connection, even though I know who it is?

        (Also because I can see the noises coming a bit more, e.g. “Wakeen’s lifting an apple to his mouth, soon it’ll go crunch,” rather than being surprised and on edge waiting for the next one – although that doesn’t really work for mouse drops or gum squelches.)

        Clutching at straws here a bit. Just interested by my own defective psychology, heh.

        Thanks for your advice!

    4. Not So NewReader

      Eh. I have seen people hand a person a box of kleenex and say, “Quit sniffing and learn to blow your nose.”
      Not exactly the word choice I would recommend but maybe you could offer him a box of tissues and that would help.

  49. The Cosmic Avenger

    OK, how do you compare offers or jobs?

    Specifically, I keep seeming to get interviewed for jobs that pay close to what I’m already getting paid, possibly less. But the benefits would be much better, so I feel like I should add up all of the differences in health care premiums, 401(k) matching, bonuses, and all of that. And if it’s still close, I’m not sure if I want to leave, or if after more than a decade at my current company, maybe I should try something new…even if it will be pretty similar. But I like it here! I just feel like I’m not paid competitively.

    OK, maybe I should make this another comment, but here’s another question. I like my company, and I trust them to treat me fairly. If I say I’m leaving, should I entertain a counteroffer? I’m not concerned about being forced out or replaced if that happens, I just feel like, if all else is equal, maybe I should move since my current employer didn’t give me a raise until I threatened to leave over pay. But I do like it here, and I like my coworkers a lot! But the people that have been interviewing me have been anywhere from pretty nice to awesome, so I think I’d be happy if I moved, too. But I can’t know for sure, right?

    1. Malissa

      Ask yourself what would you like out of your current employer if you got a counter offer? What would make you stay? If it’s just pay, tell your boss that you’ve been looking at the market rate for your kind of position and noticed that you’re not getting that. Then ask for a raise. After 10 years you should have the capital to get something extra. If not, then seriously start looking at other companies, and yes consider all of the benefits when looking at compensation. More pay isn’t great if it all gets eaten up by a higher insurance premium.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Thanks, Malissa. I’m applying for government jobs, so the benefits would actually be better. I had said at one point that I would have to be offered a lot to leave, but that was when I was applying for a gov’t job with a longer commute, and that didn’t mesh as well with what I do now. My last interviews are for the same type of tasks, but with new software, so I think I’d enjoy it.

        I also REALLY liked the first place, the second was “meh”. So I’m not sure how much that should count.

        1. Malissa

          I wouldn’t leave unless you really liked the place. You have the luxury of being choosy. And yeah, adding a government pension to your retirement portfolio is a good benefit.

    2. Not So NewReader

      You are saying more pay is of value to you. More benefits are not the same as more pay. And if you do not use the benefits or if the benefits turn out to be smoke and mirrors at the new place, that puts you right back to where you are now.

      From what I have read, people who accept counter-offers end up leaving shortly afterward anyway. I think if you want a raise, ask for one. If you are not eligible for a raise right now maybe you can work on finding a way to get a promotion.

      Since you are basically okay where you are, I would hold out for what you want, that being more pay.

  50. Tiffany

    I turned down a job offer yesterday. It would have been a 40% reduction in salary compared to my last job, and would have been maybe only $100 more a month than what I currently get between unemployment and food stamps. It was for a work-ar-home customer service/sales call center job, which would have made me miserable. I found out upon reading the offer letter that the position was temporary. When I asked how long the temporary period was, they couldn’t give me an end date. There are no benefits during the temp period. There were a few other red flags as well. I know I probably made the right decision, but as I go into week 8 of unemployment, I kinda feel like maybe turning a job offer, no matter how terrible, wasn’t a great idea. Has anyone else done that? It all has to work out eventually, right?

    1. Anon Accountant

      That sounds like a terrible offer. I was unemployed 5 years ago for a few months and received a laughable offer that had no benefits, was a long commute and the pay was terrible. 2 months after that I landed a better offer with benefits and a shorter commute so it worked out better. Are there certain types of jobs you are looking for so we may be able to offer other guidance?

      Hang in there.

      1. Tiffany

        Well, nonprofit is what I went to school for. I graduated in May and started working at an EdTech start-up that was really in line with the type of non-profit work I want to do (Education-based). I got laid off after a few months. I really need to stay in my town due to potential transportation issues (Denton, TX), which makes trying to find a non-profit job somewhat more difficult, unless I was a social work major and/or wanted to work in a more client facing role (which I so don’t). I’ve got applications in with the city and school district that would fit well career-wise, but they’re kind of long-shots. I’ve accepted that I might have to find some just general office work, and I’m okay with that. My hope is if I do have to go that route, it’ll offer at least a mildly flexible schedule. I serve on a few committees for a local non-profit and the city and if I can stay on those, I’m at least not completely abandoning my industry.

    2. Elizabeth West

      Yes, I did turn down a job and it was one I actually wanted, but I found out that the salary would have left me with $14 left at the end of the month. And it was a county job, the continuation / funding of which was dependent on election cycles. They also told me there hadn’t been any raises for the last five years. AND–this was the killer–mandatory health insurance they deducted from your pay. I agonized over it for a day, but finally I knew I had to turn it down because it was untenable for me. If I had taken it, I wouldn’t have stayed, even though I really liked my potential bosses.

      I held out and eventually found this job, so keep looking. Don’t give up!

  51. Tris Prior

    Just coming here to vent. I have never worked anywhere before where EVERYONE is constantly deathly ill, for the entire fall and winter. I am happy that we have a stay-home-if-you’re-sick culture for health reasons – I certainly do not want everyone’s disgusting illnesses.

    But, man, this week has been rough. We’re a tiny company (8 people) and horribly short-staffed even when everyone’s here. And more than half of the staff has been out sick all week. I rarely catch anything so I have been in, and frantically struggling to at least make sure the critical tasks get done. Already have missed one deadline because both my bosses who needed to approve my work have been out. (I offered to send them PDFs to review from home in order to meet the date but both said no, they need to see it on paper.)

    I am dreading having to endure many more months of this. It happened last year too but that was before the layoff that cut half the staff. I mean, there’s no real solution, I don’t want people coming in and spewing germs everywhere, and it’s not like they’re choosing to be sick. It’s just SO stressful. :(

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I had a coworker with a super-human level immune system and I always felt so bad because he was often the last man standing on our team.

      You completely have my sympathy!

    2. Book Person

      This happened at my office once during our busiest season. Now we all get paid time off to get a flu shot. It has really helped, actually. My sympathies, for sure, since we’re getting into the worst season for sickness. Hope everyone stays as germ-free as possible!

      1. Tris Prior

        hahaha, I mentioned recently that I’d gotten a flu shot and every single co-worker looked at me in shock as though I’d said I injected myself with poison. No one else here gets the shot. They all think it gives you the flu! I don’t get it.

            1. Ad Astra

              You know, I actually only learned it earlier this week. Our office was doing a flu shot clinic and I was sort of on the fence about it because I’ve never had a flu shot, and I’ve never had the flu, so why change now? I was talking to a coworker about it and she told me her friend’s doctor recently mentioned it was a myth that the flu shot gives you the flu, so we finally looked it up. I feel silly that I spent a lifetime believing it was a live virus! (That’s not the reason I had declined to get one all these years, but still.)

        1. GigglyPuff

          Ugh, that happened here. We had a flu clinic provided by HR. Just making small talk with coworkers about the clinic/health fair, and one guy was like “I don’t have kids, I don’t need the flu shot”, really? That’s all you think it is about -_-
          This guy totally rides public transit.

    3. Cucumberzucchini

      I would “catch” what they have when they get back to even it out. Also accept you can only do what you can do. Prioritize what you can, document and let the reast go.

      1. Tris Prior

        I have way too much of a work ethic to get “sick”…. actually, this would mostly impact my other co-worker who’s still healthy and has been struggling along with me (we are both primarily responsible for the same daily task that MUST get done no matter what; everyone else backs us up but, well, there’s been no backup at all this week. ).

        But yeah… everything is not getting done unless I happen to come across a TARDIS. I’m hourly too and not allowed OT, so cannot just stay late to finish things. Not my choice, but it is what it is, so some stuff is just going to have to slip. :(

    4. Hattie McDoogal

      I feel you. There are only 6 employees at my company so anyone being out turns everything into a huge struggle. Currently one of my co-workers is out because we have a potential case of the mumps here and her son is too young to have been vaccinated. I get it, but damn, I am so sick of working on my days off.

  52. LCL

    Schedule rant, no solutions, just anger.
    Our schedule for the next 3 weeks have fallen apart. I had approved 3 nicely spaced vacations, and life was good. Then one person retired suddenly, 2 went out on injury, a third went out on medical leave, another person has been sick the last 6 days. I finally lost it when the most reliable person took 3 days leave suddenly because a relative, who was 90+ years old and in a nursing home, passed away. I said to the group this morning I thought that was excessive, given that he is off all next week and there weren’t small children or animals left home alone needing care, so I just didn’t get the urgency.

    The whole reason we go through our complicated vacation approval process is so everyone isn’t gone at once. Now we have too many gone and we will be running short, and it is my failure because I write the schedule. I am mad, and embarrassed, and thinking my effort doesn’t mean anything.

    1. Ad Astra

      I don’t think there’s any need to be embarrassed or feel like you’ve failed when so much of this was out of your control. It’s pretty unlikely that all of these things would happen at the same time, so I’m not sure how you would be expected to predict this situation. Is this expectation/perception coming from someone above you, or just from internal pressure?

    2. PK

      Did you approve his 3 day leave? Or is that immediately granted no matter what? I would be upset if I heard that my leave approver said my bereavement leave was excessive in front of a group. I would hope they would raise that with me individually. Is it possible that this person was very close to this relative, OR has to support other family members through this difficult time? If he is grieving, is he going to put in his best work, especially when you’re short staffed? Doesn’t matter that he’s going to have time off later, when now is the sudden shock and now his family might need him to arrange the funeral. Is he going to resent that everyone else was able to take leave, but the luck of the draw meant he was not?

      That being said, it sounds like this kind of situation would be unlikely to happen again. Can you hire temps or pull in other people to help in this unusual and all unfortunate circumstances?

      1. LCL

        That kind of leave is approved no matter what. No temps here. Thankfully someone explained to me patiently, that people take leave under the circumstances described to support other family members. Yet another example where my frustration got the better of me. In my defense, I will say I came from a family background where you don’t take time off for crises, you wait to deal them on your day off. Or not deal, as the case may be. Both my parents were more or less distant from their family and didn’t deal with all of this family stuff.

        1. catsAreCool

          When my grandmother died, it wasn’t unexpected, but it was still sad, and I was grateful that I could take bereavement time to go to her funeral (had to take a plane and be out a day or two).

          Since he is the most reliable worker, it makes sense to treat him well. It may seem odd that losing a 90+ relative would be tough, but even when you sort of expect it, the finality can be crushing. Also, there may be arrangements that he needs to take charge of immediately. Would you rather he was at work, calling the funeral home, etc. because certain things do need to be done?

          I hope your group doesn’t tell him what you said, but this sounds like the kind of thing that someone will tell him. I can understand how this is tough to empathize with when you don’t have that kind of relationship, but this is one of those times where your life is going to be easier if you accept it.

    3. xarcady

      I think you are being a little hard on the person who is on bereavement leave. Just because someone was over 90 and in a nursing home doesn’t mean they won’t be missed. There may be no one else to plan the funeral, or support a spouse or do any of the number of things that will need to be done in the next few days.

      And it’s not the fact that he’s out on bereavement leave–it is the cumulative effect of so many other people out on unplanned leave.

      And I don’t think anyone could prepare for three people out sick/injured at once, let alone someone retiring suddenly or a key employee having a death in the family.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        +1.

        Sh*t happens. You did everything you could to arrange the schedule properly; life gets in the way. Those above you, one hopes, understand that and will work with you. If there’s possibility for temp help, maybe your boss can authorize that; if not, maybe the higher-ups can pitch in to help cover; if not, those who are left probably have to work around the clock or else some things just won’t get done during that period. I know if I’m one of the employees who gets stuck working like mad in a situation like this — I would *not* resent it the way I do when I’m picking up the slack for people who are faking being sick or simply lazy. I would suck it up and work, knowing that if I have a similar emergency, my coworkers have *my* back.

        I would be really upset if a manager told me a relative shouldn’t mean as much to me simply because her passing was totally expected, or if we don’t have a close relationship “on paper” (for example, I adore my aunt’s ex-husband’s sister’s children, and they still come to our family gatherings — are they “not fanily” because they are my…not even first cousins once removed?).

      2. LCL

        Yeah, I can see how I came across. I didn’t mean that person was any less important because they were elderly. I meant that because they were in a place that was used to that sort of event, that I thought there would be procedures for things to run smoothly that wouldn’t require time off. Sigh.

      3. Sunshine Brite

        Agreed, I probably would’ve lost it if someone really denied my grief like that in a group situation and probably started job searching once everything was taken care of.

        I understand that the schedule was all good and set and the frustration of it being upended, but I encourage you to reconsider your view of your staff as unreliable. Being sick/injured/dealing with death is not necessarily unreliable, it’s unforeseen emergency circumstances.

    4. Not So NewReader

      One job I had ran on a skeleton crew. Only one of us could be out at a time (not including sick time or personal emergency). So when someone signed up for a week off, no one else could have that week. It got interesting as the years passed and mathematically it worked out that we had someone on vacation 26 weeks out of the year. We could have hired a full timer to just cover vacation/personal/sick time. We were allowed to accrue sick time up to ten weeks. I never crunched the numbers on that but I would not be surprised to find out that as a group we had greater than one year’s worth of PTO. What would happen if we all wanted our PTO at once? It boggles.
      Anyway, my boss had a saying that you would not know if you had the time until right up close to the actual time requested. And this was the reason- the unforeseens rained in as a cluster causing all kinds of havoc, as you see here.
      Can you bring in people from other departments?
      Can you get a temp?
      Start thinking about a plan for this situation, so that when it happens again you will not be caught by surprise.

  53. Lucky

    Salary talks! I’ve been at my contract position for five months and it’s going great. The new head of my department and I have spoken openly about my desire for, and his intent to offer me, a permanent position. He’s waiting for budget approvals and having me lead on projects that will take me well beyond the company’s six-month contractor limit. All looks good.

    Except, the wrinkle. My contract prohibits me from discussing salary with the company – salary is to be negotiated by my recruiter. She’s asked me for my target salary and won’t give me either (a) the company’s range, or (b) what she – in her experience in the industry – believes the range should be. Added wrinkle: the recruiter’s firm publishes a salary guide specific to this industry, and it places the salary range for my position about $30k above what I would expect the company to offer. Frankly, I think they’ve inflated their salary guide in order to entice people to work with them. So, what to do? How can I figure out what the job should be paying, so I can ask for a fair salary? How do I make sure I don’t over- or under-value myself?

    1. Malissa

      Start with the published guide. Tell the recruiter that they say the position should be worth X and work from there. If they think that’s too much, then tell them that you’d be good with X-10K.

    2. Not So Sunny

      One thing I would say about agencies is that the only person they’re really working for is themselves. Not you, not the employer. A colleague just told me she was basically bait-and-switched into a temp position when she made it abundantly clear that she wanted perm.

      So yeah, what Malissa said.

  54. T3k

    Soooo… I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if I hear back about a QA position at a local video game developer. It pays less than where I am (by $1… but that amounts to roughly $150 a month less). However, it’s just down the road from where I am, essentially giving me back about an hour and a half of my time each day, and could help me start building connections withing the industry. The kicker is they’ve marked it as temporary and I don’t want to take a job if I’ll only be there for 2 months and then out of a job. Ugh.

    1. TinyPjM

      Hello! Industry vet here. The deal with gaming QA is…you’re going to be laid off, a lot. The good news is, once you’re in and gain the experience, you’ll find new roles within QA very, very quickly. Gaming companies are almost always hiring for QA, and connections are everything in this industry. Starting out though, it’s going to be kind of rough to find a full time role.

      Also, if it cuts your commute down by that much, have you adjusted that into your budget? If you have, pay me no mind, but if not, that could balance out quite nicely! Best of luck to you!

  55. Gandalf the Nude

    In contrast to Cruciatus’ Halloween apathy, is anyone looking forward to dressing up next week? What are you all wearing? Does anyone else need ideas??

    1. Amber Rose

      Me! I love dressing up. But since my usual steampunk costume is not ideal for 8 hours of work, I’m going to show up with my assortment of hats and masks and just swap them out through the day. :D

      I really want to assemble a Carmen Sandiego outfit (husband will be Waldo) but I can’t find a red trench coat of suitable length. :(

      1. Gandalf the Nude

        Ooh, I hope you find the trench coat! That sounds so cute! Partner and I are actually going as Mulder and Scully this year, and I’m super psyched. And it’s easy enough to remove the badge and just be (dated) office worker.

    2. dancer

      Rosie the riveter for me! I have blue, worker coveralls and I want a chance to wear them again. Plus I can wear normal clothes underneath, so if no one else at work dresses up, I can take it off :P

      1. Gandalf the Nude

        Costumes that easily change back to work clothes are key! Last year the only difference for me between Minnie Mouse and casual Friday was the mouse ears!

    3. Rebecca

      I really want to do my hair in the pink and blue galactic colors I saw on Facebook last week, to match my Fila Sport shirt and pants, but I’m terrified I’ll get a call for an interview or see a job posting 5 minutes after the dye is set. I live in a fairly conservative area, and it would be hard to explain.

    4. Elizabeth West

      I think we have some kind of costume competition thing at work (I don’t really know because I deleted the email), where you send in a photo of your costume and you can wear it on Friday in the office if you want. I’m not dressing up on Friday because I have an ice show that evening and will be leaving early anyway. As for Saturday, I don’t have any plans that I know of, just sitting home alone with the lights off watching scary movies. :P

    5. Cordelia Naismith

      I’m not wearing a costume, but I am dressing with a Halloween theme in mind — a black skirt with black-and-orange striped tights, and a pumpkin necklace.

    6. Hillary

      I have a wig that’s almost exactly my normal haircut but electric blue. Apparently people don’t dress up here, but I’m looking forward to the double takes.

    7. KitCroupier

      They are allowing us to dress up on Friday and Saturday at my job. It’s a casino so they’re encouraging us to dress up, though we need to be ‘work appropriate’. Plus since I’m a dealer I need to be able to move enough to do my job.

      I’ve got two outfits, one is ‘lady pirate’ which is really parts of my Ren Faire costume and a bandana. The 2nd night I’m going to be an updated Red Riding Hood, I still need to find a Nerf axe and maybe a stuffed wolf, but I’ve got red Doc Martins, a cute mini kilt (with leggings to wear under!) and a fashion hoodie. I wish I could find a nice black underbust corset, but I’m picky with about them.

      And just in case someone nit-picks my costume I’m bringing my uniform to change into.

  56. Anie

    Bahahahahahaha

    The life and times of Anie. This week we’ve gotten a new phone system. My elderly coworker has asked me the following questions:

    “When someone calls me, do I had to hit a number first to pick up the phone?”

    “How do I delete a voicemail?”

    “Do cell phones have a speaker? Can you show me how to use the speaker phone?”

    1. Calla

      Oh man. This week I trained an older (70-ish) coworker on GoToMeeting and he got confused about why no one had the link in their invite. The other company had sent it. I had to explain to him how I knew that, then said if he wanted to include the link for internal people, he’d need to send his own Outlook invite. His next question was “How do I do that?”

      1. Anie

        There’s a level of old that is manageable. This guy… I just heard him call a vital client to cancel a phone conference–because our phones don’t work. Umm. You called him. He knows they work.

    2. F.

      Can we PLEASE quit bashing older/elderly people in this forum?! People of ANY age were not born knowing everything. Does this “elderly” coworker laugh when you ask them a question?
      Those are actually all valid questions, by the way. We have to hit a line number to pick up on our phones. It is not obvious how to delete a voicemail in many systems. I don’t know how to use the speaker phone on my cell phone, though I don’t want to use it, either. Perhaps showing some compassion and either showing the person or directing them to the correct portion of the instructions would be a much more appropriate response.

      1. Anie

        Your response is actually hilarious. Do you classify yourself as elderly? I don’t know anyone under 60 with these issues, personally.

        I’ve been perfectly “compassionate,” i.e., calmly answered all his questions though he’s been shown repeatedly and can’t be bothered to look it up himself AND even though it’s not my job and I’m very busy.

        Me bashing him for being elderly would involve mentioning his lack of teeth, which I hadn’t. Though now I have. GASP! Elder-bashing!

        1. fposte

          Huh? Now this is getting weird. Why do you care if he has teeth or not?

          Is there a reference guide to the new system? Can you find one for your co-worker?

        2. Sadsack

          Anie, I have worked with plenty of people who have trouble or just plain refuse to learn new tech. It truly is not age-based. I am talking about professionals in their 30s and 40s.

          1. Anie

            Well, I suppose I’m basing my experience with this particular coworker on his age…because he does. “When I was younger, I didn’t have to deal with a phone that connected to the computer” and “I miss the days when I didn’t have to download instructions!” (despite me giving him a paper copy as well).

            Oh my favorite! “How do I Google? I can just ask Google how to open my web browser?” Please show me someone under 60 with this question. Doesn’t exist.

            I fully believe his incompetency is related to his age. I’m not saying everyone’s. But my coworker, who I’ve worked with for a year and a half? Yes.

            1. F.

              Would you be making the same insulting remarks if your coworker was younger but of a different race, gender, sexual identity/orientation, religion, disabled, etc. and still asking the same questions? Examine your attitude. Older people have just as much value as anyone else.

              1. Anie

                What insulting comments? I posted about a coworker asking me ridiculous questions. My reference to my “elderly coworker” truly is not different from people talking about their “young coworkers” or “millennial coworkers” when describing some thoughtless action that shows their lack of experience.

                “There’s a level of old that is manageable.” OK, sure, I’ll admit this is thoughtlessly phrased on my part. But I’m admitting right in the comment that not all elderly people are incapable of work. I don’t personally know any elderly people who aren’t more hassle than they’re worth in the workplace, but I know there are people out there with minds like a steel trap long past their physical prime.

                Do you think my comment about his lack of teeth insulting? Not particularly kind, no, but I was actually trying to add levity to the thread and also show that I’m not just ragging on any little part of being elderly. The point I was trying to teasingly show was that my original post, which upset you show much, literally only used the word “elderly.” That is not a taboo word or something, in itself, something to feel shame for.

                1. F.

                  That you stated in your first post that the coworker was “elderly” was totally unnecessary to express frustration with a coworker asking what you thought were unnecessary questions. The implication was that you were assuming that he was incapable of learning the new technology because he was older.
                  “I don’t personally know any elderly people who aren’t more hassle than they’re worth in the workplace,…” Try that remark with any other characteristic inserted in place of “elderly”. For example, if I stated that, “I don’t personally know any lesbian people who aren’t more hassle than they’re worth in the workplace.”, you and probably everyone else here would be rightly appalled and would point it out to me.
                  Yes, I found the comment about his lack of teeth insulting. It had nothing to do with your frustration over his questions. But more importantly, it plays right in to the “old toothless geezer” stereotype. If it was truly an attempt to add levity, then it failed badly, somewhat like telling ethnic jokes in the workplace.
                  As for advice on your problem of your COWORKER (old, young, or somewhere in between) repeatedly asking tech questions, perhaps you SHOULD direct him to someone else, since you seem to be so blind and insensitive to how your comments about older people are perceived that I am sure he has picked up on your condescension and irritation, too. By the way, management must feel he has something to offer the company. Perhaps you can look past your prejudice and see that, too.

                2. Rex

                  Anie, when this many people are telling you that your comments are nasty and unnecessary, maybe you should take a minute to think that they might be right? I’ve gotten these same kind of “stupid” questions from young staff in their 20s who are just learning to use office equipment, and when I come into a new org and have to learn new software and systems, I’ve definitely asked a few basic/stupid questions myself. I understand you are seeing this as a vent space, but maybe this isn’t the right way to do it.

                3. Not So Sunny

                  “I don’t personally know any elderly people who aren’t more hassle than they’re worth in the workplace,…”

                  How sad for you. I can’t wait until you’re “elderly.”

                4. Elsajeni

                  Right, and if you’ve read many comments here, you’ve probably noticed that, when people make remarks about their “millennial coworkers” that imply that the problems they have with them are because they’re millennials (rather than simply because they’re inexperienced — as every generation has been at some point — or because that particular millennial happens to be kind of a jerk), they get a lot of replies pointing out that they’re stereotyping based on age and asking them not to.

            2. Sadsack

              Ok, I understand what you mean. I used to work with someone who had retirement looming. In the last year, he completely gave up and asked me repeatedly how to do certain things, and he straight up told me that he was on his way out and had no intention of trying to learn. It was frustrating, but I gritted my teeth and got through it like you will. I had times when I thought, please just retire already. But, you have to keep in mind that this person probably (hopefully) brings knowledge and experience that not many others in your business may have.

              1. Sadsack

                You know, maybe you should make yourself less available to help. He’ll either figure it out eventually or go ask some else, maybe.

                1. Anie

                  I tried to do that with the phone issue today and it completely backfired! I gave him the resources and I showed him speakerphone on his cell. When he couldn’t remember after that, I gently steered him in the direction of Google for a video tutorial or just additional written instructions because I just don’t have the time to re-show him this stuff all day.

                  That’s when he called someone veeeeery vital to tell him our phones didn’t work. Called him. Talk about upset client.

            3. Oryx

              As someone who spent years working in libraries assisting members of my community in their 20s, 30s, and 40s with very little computer access, those people do exist. Trust me.

              Perhaps you need to check your privilege a little.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          We have people over 60 who comment here, and plenty of us know competent colleagues, friends, and relatives who are over 60. (And really, 60? That is really not old.) Criticize the behavior you don’t like, but the age shouldn’t be relevant.

          1. Not So NewReader

            I will be 60 in a few years and for a moment here, I thought “hmmm”.

            I have to go back to what my first boss told me, “No one will ever tell you. But part of what you are being compensated for is your willingness and your ability to get along with others.”
            Sometimes it’s easy to get along with people and sometimes it’s a lot of work to try to get along with people. Either way, we get compensated for our willingness to do this.

      2. Sadsack

        Yeah, age has nothing to do with learning new tech. I found the above remarks offensive, too, particularly Calla’s.

          1. Lindsay J

            Yeah, my grandfather isn’t quite that old yet, but he retired from IBM about a decade ago.

            Anything that I have ever had that broke (bicycle, flute, laptop) he could take apart and fix in an hour or so. He’s more “with it” as far as technology goes than a lot of my college classmates or work peers.

            Meanwhile, I’m already grumbling about how I’m too old to learn about Yik Yak or whatever newfangled internet thingy the young’uns are using these days and how I don’t understand what dubstep is.

    3. Rebecca

      My parents are 81 and 80. I taught them how to do simple things on a Windows 8.1 desktop. When they call, I answer the question, or go to their house, and I help them. They taught me to use the toilet, how to feed myself, how to do personal hygiene, how to tie my shoes, and care for myself and made me into a responsible adult.

      Just because your coworker is older doesn’t mean they can’t learn.

      What if others made fun of you because of a knowledge you lacked, like my 81 year old Dad can tear apart a transmission and can rebuild engines. Would it be fair to criticize you for not being able to do the same because you don’t have the knowledge yet?

      Cut them a break. Some day you might be the elderly worker in an advanced technology office and I’m sure you wouldn’t want your young coworkers treating you this way.

      1. Anie

        Well, I think there’s a difference here. You’re talking about your parents. Of course you’re willing to go above and beyond. This man, this coworker, did not wipe my butt when I was an infant.

        I don’t believe my coworker can learn, as he’s shown me repeatedly he’s either unable or not willing to. I understand my short comments don’t allow you to see the full spectrum of his helplessness, but I have spent much too long repeatedly showing him basic things like opening his email, opening a browser, having HIM do these tasks while I watch, have him take notes….

        I’m in my late 20s and there are plenty of things in our modern and ever-changing world that I fall behind on and need to ask for help navigating. I ask once, sometimes twice, and figure it out. Alternatively, I try to find the answer myself. I have perfectly reasonable expectations that this coworker can’t live up to.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          But there are useless and technically adept people of all ages. Once you start generalizing by demographic characteristics, that’s called stereotyping, and I think that that’s what Rebecca and the rest of us are objecting to.

        2. Not So NewReader

          I have had coworkers of varying ages behave in this manner. I really don’t see age as having any bearing here AND there are techniques for handling this type of behavior from a coworker. I have tweaked the techniques to fit the individual who is having an issue and the particulars of the setting but overall the general idea still applies.

        3. catsAreCool

          We’re not objecting to you disliking how much help you have to give this co-worker – that’s understandable.

          We’re objecting to statements that makes it sound like all “old” people are like that.

          Just because he says it’s because he’s old doesn’t mean that’s why. Also, it doesn’t mean that other older people are like that.

    4. Merry and Bright

      But if you just had the new phone system installed this week I bet he wasn’t the only person who didn’t automatically know how all the functions worked. Systems vary and generally come with handbooks. He asked questions too so he is willing to find out. There was probably a time when you had to find out how to delete a voicemail. I don’t get why this is so age-related.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Yeah, we had a new phone system at Exjob and it was ages before everybody got on board. I think Anie’s frustration is legit, but the way she expressed it came off poorly.

    5. Key to the West

      I’m 22 and struggle with my work cell (a simple Nokia) and work phone (a really popular work phone brand who’s name escapes me!!) and generally I’m quite tech savvy!

    6. Renny90

      I’m probably around your age and I ask these same questions whenever I start a new job or get a new phone at work. For some reason, work phones are so complicated! There’s a special number you have to call that no one tells you about to check for voice messages, you need a PhD to transfer calls, etc. Give the guy a break.

      1. Lindsay J

        Yeah, we got new phones at work and pretty much nobody uses them because they’re so bloody complicated. We have work cell phones so we just use those.

    7. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      You know, I think that some people are just naturally annoyed by technology questions. That’s a useful thing to know about yourself if that’s the case. We periodically survey people in our office to ask who both (a) feels good about navigating our technology and (b) likes to help others with tech questions. Then we distribute a list of people who welcome questions so that the person asking can get a positive response, and the helping person can feel helpful. Don’t overlook that this person may have tremendous wisdom and experience to share – about the part of work that isn’t pushing buttons!

  57. super anon

    does anyone have any advice for dealing with racism in the workplace? especially when it’s directed at you? for the first time in my life i’m encountering racism, but it’s from people of my own race. i’m mixed race, and i’ve experienced straight up to your face ignorance and racism before, and i can handle that, but this is different because it’s coming from people who should accept me. in the time i’ve been there i’ve been accused of lying about my race to get my job, remarks against me and how i don’t belong where i live because i’m not from the other side of the country and i’m not a member of any of the local native tribes, so i’m somehow less and i “don’t get it”. there’s also been a lot of remarks against white people that make me very uncomfortable, and i’ve been told that people will talk to me differently because of my race.

    when these events happen i react badly (usually a frustrated outburst because i feel hurt and confused), and there’s been concerns about my professionalism in light of this. so, how do i act professional when these things are said? i went to my bosses but nothing has been done, and hr isn’t an option because the hr manager is not professional and will directly go and tell the person i made a complaint against what i said. i’m also still on probation and i’m very scared if i rock the boat at all i’ll get fired, and i need this job to pay my bills. i’m looking for other jobs because the opportunities this job gives me isn’t worth feeling like shit about myself every day, but in the mean time how do i act in a professional and acceptable manner when i feel attacked and discriminated against?

    1. Book Person

      I’m so sorry, that sounds incredibly hard. I don’t blame you for having an outburst in the face of that, but I think if you can work on that (since HR doesn’t seem to have your back with making a complaint), it would help. Maybe some of the deadpan scripts that are often suggested around here: “Wow.” “I don’t agree.” “That’s an offensive question.” “I’d rather you didn’t speak to me that way.” “Let’s change the subject.” “I’m not discussing that with you. How is [project X] going?”

      None of these are going to help you feel better, I don’t think, nor give you the catharsis of telling someone who’s being racist where they can put it, but it may keep you going until you find another job. Please do get out of there as quickly as you can — you don’t deserve this crap.

      1. T3k

        +1. Since HR is a no go, I second just getting out of there. And yes, give them the deadpan expression next time they say something offense and go “That’s not funny” “That’s offensive” etc. though that last one will be tricky to stay professional if they try to say it’s not or prod you to explain why in which case you can try to explain a calm demeanor why, or say calmly “There’s racial/cultural awareness classes for this you could look into, if you really need it explained.”

    2. Ad Astra

      I just… wow. You probably already know this, but your coworkers are completely out of line and this is so far from normal or acceptable that I don’t even know what to compare it to.

      Are you sure that your unprofessional HR rep wouldn’t take a complaint of racism seriously? Some otherwise crappy HR people will buck up immediately when you bring up discrimination against protected classes because of the potential legal ramifications. But you know this person and I don’t, so you should trust your judgment here.

      You don’t have to respond to these racist comments at all, and for some people staying silent is easier than trying to respond calmly to something so infuriating. Are some of these comments (like the suggestion that you “don’t get it”) coming out during casual, non-work conversations? If so, it may help to stop engaging in non-work talks with these people, even if the initial topic seems harmless.

      A lot of my mix-race friends have expressed frustration because they see themselves as belonging to both races, while other people treat them as if they belong to neither race. So I think a lot of people have experienced some of the racist comments you’re describing, and that’s not ok, but that fact that you’re getting this treatment at work is really outrageous.

      1. F.

        I agree that leaving this toxic work environment sounds like the best way to go. If the racism (or any other form of discrimination) is that prevalent, one person is not going to change it, no matter how noble it would be to be able to do so. As for dealing with the comments in the interim, remember that it is THEIR problem, not yours, and ignore the comments. You are a valuable human being, and if they can’t see that, then it is on them, not you.

      2. Ultraviolet

        I really like your paragraph there about the HR rep. Do you (or anyone else?) think it could be helpful for the OP to go the HR rep and tell them about a bunch of specific things that have been said to her, without identifying the people who said them? Maybe saying that 5 out of the 7 people in her department (or whatever is true) have said something like that? What would happen then? (These questions are sincere–I truly don’t know what the likely or ideal HR responses would be.)

    3. Ultraviolet

      That sounds totally miserable, and I’m sorry you’re going through it.

      When your coworkers say these racist things to you, are they relating it to your job specifically? (Like, saying clients will talk to you differently because of your race, as opposed to just saying people in general will talk to you differently?) Are your coworkers hinting that a relative newcomer to the community would have a disadvantage performing your job? I am sort of getting the feeling from your description that they’re getting at something like this. (But this might just be my naive surprise that this keeps coming up at work.) To be clear, I realize they’re being racist jerks and that’s not okay–I don’t mean to imply that the answers to the questions I asked would somehow justify their behavior or make it true that you don’t belong. But I was wondering whether it would make sense to respond to your coworkers by pointing out your qualifications for the job.

      If what they’re saying is instead totally unrelated to work, maybe a better response would be to ask them “What does that have to do with work?” or just say “That’s not relevant to what we’re doing here.”

      One possible technique I can think of for forestalling outbursts is to think ahead really specifically of something neutral to say in response. It’s easier to think, “Next time, I’ll respond with ‘what does that have to do with work?'” than “Next time, I won’t lose my temper.”

      It’s a little unclear to me from what you’ve said so far, but are you new to this town? If so, have you found some friends or places to spend time outside of work yet? Doing so would hopefully alleviate some of the unhappiness this situation must be causing you. And probably help your job search too!

    4. Not So NewReader

      I am so sorry this is happening to you. Is there anyone there who is trying to be a good friend to you?
      Can you go to the bosses again and say nothing has changed since the last time you spoke to them?

    5. catsAreCool

      Would saying “Excuse me?” or “Wow” or “Seriously?” work?

      Or how about saying a bit coldly “I’m sure you didn’t mean to be that offensive.” and then change the subject?

      Sorry you’re having to go through this.

  58. box of saltines

    Any suggestions for how to survive being at total “bitch eating crackers” stage with a coworker? This person’s work is generally…adequate, but with a few glaring (and surprising) knowledge gaps that make a lot of work for the rest of the team. For example, this person has an advanced degree in Tea Studies, but tries to sell rooibos to a client that only purchases black teas, while insisting the two are the same thing. While there are genuine issues that go beyond knowledge gaps (repeated attendance problems, misuse of resources, missed deadlines), I know I’m at a stage where this person can say “good morning!” and I think “shut up shut up I hate you shut up.”

    Their contract is finite (though a last-minute medical issue that has come up will probably mean an extension of 5 months), and I am 90% sure at this point that this coworker is not eligible for permanent hire, barring a substantial attitude overhaul. Knowing there’s an end date helps, but I am still having a hard time. I have managed to stay professional and polite in our interactions, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to break the immediate ARGGHHHHHH GO AWAY response in my brain the moment I see an email from this person or have to talk to them?

    1. lionelrichiesclayhead

      This is going to sound counterproductive but when I am at this point with someone (and have no choice but to deal with it), I actually make it a point to initiate interaction with them instead of reacting to their interactions with me. It’s almost like you are taking the power back mentally. If it drives you crazy when they say good morning to you, say good morning to them first. If they send you an email, make it a point to take a deep breath and then read and answer as if it were coming from your best employee. If you see them in the hallway and know something personal about them, ask them about it. If they start talking about something you don’t feel is right, ask them questions about it with an open mind. Maybe you have something in common you can briefly chat with them about. I’m by no means suggesting that you become buddy buddy with this person, but be polite and try to find some sort of common ground you can work with until they GTFO.

      It’s almost like you have to go all-in with dealing with this person to prevent yourself from not being able to. The more you fight it, the worse it will be. At some point the dynamic will change and you won’t have an immediate horrible reaction. That’s really all you are going for.

    2. OriginalYup

      I once took up boxing as a hobby to deal with this exact scenario. I’m not even joking.

      I don’t have any wise advice for the mental side of it, but it does sometimes help to physically get away from the source of the irritation.
      – See annoying email? Go make a cup of tea and take a short break, come back and deal with it.
      – Endure an infuriating meeting with Tea Studies Nitwit? Take a short walk outside to clear your head.
      – Find yourself mentally arguing with this person? Stand up at your desk, take a deep breath, and stretch.

  59. Kate

    I am self-employed, and in the course of my work I have to interview many people on the phone. I have a young “phone voice” and people frequently comment on this, assuming I’m in my early 20’s (when I’m actually in my mid-30’s). Sometimes people will even say, “You’re not old enough to remember this, but….” or “people your age…”

    Generally, I don’t correct people (though I will weave my college graduation date into conversation if it comes up), but I’m worried that people may perceive me as an eager undergrad instead of a seasoned professional and this may be harming my credibility. Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. Cucumberzucchini

      I have a similar problem (I also look younger than I am so I have a double-whammy). I’ve decided to just let it go, but you can change/lower your talking voice with practice. If it’s really holding you back you may want to hire a vocal coach to help you make you sound more “mature”.

      Additionally you could pretend to be flattered, “Oh that’s so nice, people always think I’m younger than I am, good genes I guess, haha”

      1. F.

        Speaking in a professional manner appropriate to the level of casualness/business of the call is important, too. Not saying that you use slang or other terms and idioms commonly used by younger people, but it is good to avoid them. Since you are a “seasoned professional”, cultivating a professional manner of speaking will help overcome the perception that you are an “eager undergrad”.

    2. Jules the First

      I generally respond to those types of comments with a ‘awwww, I’m awfully flattered, but actually I’m old enough to remember (insert appropriate cultural reference that makes clear your age and ties in with whatever they said)’

      The other thing I try to do is to be ultra professional in all my correspondence and emails to make sure that I come across as very professional before they hear me on the phone.

    3. fposte

      You might find it interesting to listen to some recordings of Alison on the radio, actually. She has a high-pitched voice and speaks with precision and authority that ensures it’s not a reason not to take her seriously.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        Oooh good idea. She sounds young but you’d never mistake her for a newbie to the workplace.

      2. super anon

        her voice sounds so much different than i expected it to sound! she’s definitely got the precision and authority tone down, i should learn that!

      3. Froggy

        I’m definitely going to do this now. I also have a VERY young sounding voice (especially on the phone) and it has caused issue both at work and in one of my volunteer positions.

  60. Nom d' Pixel

    I am a little nervous today. I work for an exceptionally stable company and have been in the same department for 13 years. Until recently, I liked my job, but a couple years ago someone new took over the department as senior director. She is horrible and only getting worse. I dusted off and updated my resume and am applying for a position (lateral move) in another department.

    My plan is to submit my resume and tell my boss today, then stop in to see the head of the other department on Monday. He and I have overlapping social groups and talk whenever we see each other in the hallway, so it shouldn’t be too weird.

    It has just been so long since I had to do something like this. I am really rusty.

  61. NicoleK

    I’m putting this out there cause I’m not sure what to do next. I’ve posted several times about problems I’m having with a coworker. Boss has said to me, on at least two separate occasions, that I need to work on dealing with ambiguity. Keep in mind that the organization is disorganized and chaotic at times. Boss’s management style is disorganized. Current and former direct reports view my boss as conflict avoidant. The only example Boss has cited is the problem with the coworker. Boss has not provided other examples. Boss also has not given me information on what I could do or would need to do, to show that I’m dealing well with ambiguity. So it seems that my options are 1. find another job asap (actively looking) or 2. not bring concerns to her anymore as this seems to further cement her opinion. At this point, I don’t believe there is anything I can do or say that will change her fixed opinion.

    1. Sadsack

      Does she tell you you are being ambiguous in certain instances without explaining how? Such as, in the case of an email, do you have a coworker you could show it to and ask their opinion? Or does your manager tell you that you are often ambiguous without explaining when it happened?

      1. NicoleK

        Sadsack-the issue isn’t that I’m being ambiguous. Her issue is that she feels I don’t deal well with shades of gray, ebbs and flows of non profits, and general changes that occur. Though she does not provide any examples of than I had a difficult time adjusting to working with this coworker (coworker would not work with me on anything I needed to have completed, I went to coworker and to boss and boss did nothing about it).

        1. Sadsack

          I see, sorry for misunderstanding. Also sorry for not having any good advice, now that I understand the problem. Is there anyone else at work you could go to ad a mentor?

    2. F.

      Have you asked Boss for specific examples of the ambiguity and what you could do differently? Is the coworker approachable from a viewpoint of working together to solve a joint communication problem? It also seems to me that Boss may be projecting her own disorganized (and perhaps somewhat ambiguous) style on you.

      1. NicoleK

        The second time this came up, Boss even acknowledged that she can’t give me specific guidance on how I should be dealing with ambiguity. Obviously, how would one go about measuring if one was dealing well with ambiguity?
        Miscommunication was just one of the issues with coworker. She would not work with me on projects that I needed her to.

      2. Mephyle

        Sadly, this seems to be a self-referent problem. If Boss were capable of pinning it down and providing specific examples, Boss might also be able to impose more specificity on the environment s/he manages and making co-worker operate with more specificity.

    3. Ordinary World

      I’m sorry, that sounds very stressful. Is there a peer you can speak with who might have some insight as to how best to communicate with the Boss?

      1. NicoleK

        Communication is generally fine with the boss. This is the one major sticking point. She has her opinion. And I completely disagree with her opinion. And I don’t think there is anything I can do or say that will change her mind (besides never going to her with legitimate concerns).

    4. Argh!

      Sounds like your personal style isn’t a fit for them. People who need to have everything nailed down (Myers-Briggs J) will never get the rest of us (Myers-Briggs P) to nail everything down.

      You could take a Myers-Briggs or other personality assessment to find a career that’s a better fit. And in that other career, when you go to the interview, saying “I’m looking for a job with less ambiguity and more objectivity” they will be “Wheeee!!! One of US!!!”

      1. NicoleK

        I definitely see now that I prefer a different kind of leadership/management style. I prefer a boss that will hold people accountable and not stick her head in the sand to avoid dealing with difficult issues and problematic employees.

    5. onnellinen

      I hope I am not too late in responding! I have had to learn to deal with ambiguity at my job, as well, and it has not always been easy – I definitely prefer the concrete over the abstract. I think the biggest thing that has helped me has been to be more receptive, and more accepting of the fact that changes in direction in my work are very common. Accepting that fact has really helped me not feel like a change in direction is the end of the world and/or a need to go back to the drawing board on a project. Instead, it might mean that I need to re-think some aspects of my project, but if I take a breather and think it through, there’s normally a way to re-jig things to make use of the work I’ve done and also respond to the new direction.

      If the ambiguity comes from the work itself (i.e. “I don’t know what the final solution is, so I can’t start working towards it”), my best advice is to break the work into smaller projects or questions that will lead you towards a solution. I might not know what my final teaset needs to look like, but I can start by resolving what shape the handle should be, and then look at the lid and figure out what it needs… and piece together a final product in a more step-by-step way.

  62. Russ

    I have a question about how long to keep internships on resumes. I had a co-op my entire high school senior year and then interned the next three summers. I definitely learned valuable skills that are highly related to my current field during my time interning, and I can list actual accomplishments an not just a weak description of responsibilities. After college I was in grad school for 2 years, had one mostly-related job for a year after that and then really started my career, which was 5 years ago. So if I don’t include my internships, my work history is about 6 years. If I include my internships it goes back 13 years. I would basically include it as one entry in my experience section (clearly denoting the multiple time periods) with bullet points that summarize all of the internships. My resume about 1.5 pages, so I have plenty of room to include it. Thoughts?

    1. fposte

      I would leave it off. You’ve been out of college for seven years; college-era achievements need to be pretty epic (“Youngest ever winner of Nobel Prize for Medicine”) to merit inclusion now.

      1. Anx

        I struggle with this, because I’ve probably done my most challenging work and accomplished more in college than I have since. Including it seems to draw attention tot he fact that I’ve floundered since graduation, and leaving it off takes a significant part of my experience away.

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

          Ugh I feel you there. I’ve been unable to get a job in my preferred field, and when I apply to on in my field I flounder a bit. Do I include my science related internship? Do I leave them off? If I leave them off, what good does my 4 years of business experience give them?

  63. PK

    I have a dilemma I’d like advice on.

    Here’s the story: I used to work for Big Teapot Producer. My manager there was AMAZING. Eventually, my manager went to work for Little Teapot Producer. Some time after that, I also left Big Teapot Producer to work for Big Teapot Consumer. There we use teapots from Little Teapot, and my old manager not only pointed out the job listing at Teapot Consumer to me but gave me a great reference and general career help. Unfortunately, to no fault of my old manager, not long after I started my new job, my boss at Teapot Consumer wasn’t happy with their teapots anymore, and wants to start purchasing teapots from Big Teapot Producer, same I used to work for. And in fact, my role happens to be very involved in the switch. Given that my old manager got me this job, I feel terribly that we’re now switching teapot producers, and I’m also friends with a few people at Little Teapot.

    So I’d really like to be able to send some kind of email on my personal email account to my friends at Little Teapot, saying that I will miss working with them. Because of my job, I’m worried about how to phrase it without saying something that could get me into professional trouble, but because I was so close with them, I feel it would be odd for me to not say anything to them and pretend like it’s not happening. What would you guys do in my situation?

    1. Jules the First

      I wouldn’t put this in writing, from your personal email account or otherwise. I would take your old manager out for coffee or lunch for a catch up and be as frank as you feel comfortable being about why Big Teapot Consumer is leaving Little Teapot Producer.

      1. PK

        I thought about that, but even though I consider us friends, we don’t really go out and do things, so I was worried that might also seem weird. They also know why we’re leaving, because (and I hate this) my boss required me personally to list to them all the reasons to them.

        I, in some way, want to express that my boss made me do all these things and it wasn’t “coming from me”

        1. Not So NewReader

          Oh, gosh. This sucks. Is there an upcoming industry event, where you could “run into them by chance”?

          I would not put anything in writing to them.

          Does your current boss know how you feel about these people?

  64. Nashira

    I feel like screaming. For months, my co-workers have been making insulting comments about how an ill coworker “Eugenia” is just crazy, just wants attention. (Because mental illness isn’t a disability amirite?) It got to the point where the worst offender called her “Crazy” instead of by name, whenever Eugenia wasn’t here. Onsite supervisor just laughed it off, while also shrugging off *an open plot by coworkers to get Eugenia fired* for using FMLA. I pushed back as I could, but I’m also disabled and had it made clear that I could easily be the next target, and I can’t handle being the target of retaliation. Selfish but true.

    Earlier this week, our clueless offsite manager sends out a group email telling everyone to stop it or they’ll be fired. She didn’t talk to anyone directly… Just sent a group email, because she’s scared to talk to people directly.

    The worst part is I’m sick at the moment so my job hunt is on hold til I don’t need doctor appointments every week. This office is sometimes the worst.

    1. LCL

      What else was offsite manager supposed to do? It sounds like a good start, at least. Stop it or you’ll be fired is pretty clear.

      1. Nashira

        Intervene sooner. She was appraised of staff openly planning to get Eugenia fired a good six months ago and did nothing. We would have staff meetings and the nicknamer would demand to know why Eugenia wasn’t fired and declare her to be lazy and crazy.

        Speak to individuals so they knew that the message was meant for them. She only uses cryptic group messages for things like this, because talking to people one-on-one can be awkward or difficult. Making things aimed at everyone allows the bullying employees to think “I can lay low a few weeks then go back to normal” and then… They go back to normal and no consequences are ever meted out.

        Seriously, there are options beyond “ignore it for months and then threaten the entire group, some of whom are also being subject to bigotry by the bullies..

        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          My work is currently driving me mad – meetings in which an action for one specific person is put as an action for everyone. Wastes so much time. It especially sucks in this case :(

    2. Observer

      This sounds atrocious. I’m going to suggest something that I normally really dislike, but seems to be appropriate here.

      I’m assuming your employer has an HR department. Would you be able to safely (ie TRULY anonymously) tip off HR that this is going on, and that the reason you are going anonymous is because people are likely to retaliate against a “snitch”. If you do this frame it as something that they need to deal with promptly because it puts the company at risk. FMLA interference, and retaliation for trying to stop this is something that is illegal and the DOL seems to take it fairly seriously. Your supervisors already clearly know about it, so the company won’t be able to plead ignorance. If your HR people are competent, they will understand this and take action.

      I normally don’t like the anonymity, but I can see why you are not up to dealing with the retaliation.

  65. ACA

    Currently working on a massive audit of our alumni career database, which basically means that I’m spending the next couple of weeks internet stalking people. My sincere apologies if any of you are among the many, many random people whose Facebook or LinkedIn profiles I’ve looked at to determine if this Jane Jones would be the Jane I was looking for.

    (Side note: If you change your name due to marriage or other reasons post-graduation, please please please let your school know. Please.)

    1. katamia

      Out of curiosity, what happens to people you can’t find/confirm/I’m not sure what the proper verb is?

    2. TCO