open thread – October 30, 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 :)

{ 1,217 comments… read them below }

  1. I am now a llama*

    Any advice on reaching out to connections when job hunting? I feel so awkward asking people for help and am not sure of he proper phrasing.

    I’m also currently employed so need to be discrete. Any tips appreciated :)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you can just reach out to them directly via email or Facebook message and say something along the lines of “I’m in the beginning stages of a job search, and I wanted to put some feelers out there. If you hear of anything related to _________ field, let me know.” Most people will not respond to your message, because they probably won’t have anything, but a few will definitely be on the lookout for you and may drop you a line later.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with this, but be targeted and personal about it with more casual/personal colleagues. “Hey X! I hope you’re doing well and enjoying your new (job, house, city, kids, whatever). I’m reaching out because I’m considering looking for other opportunities– would you mind letting me know if you hear of anything?”

        I get these emails sometimes. I can’t always help, but I’ve been able to direct people to job postings or make connections.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          If I hear from a friend (not a barely-an-acquaintance) that she’s looking for a job, I’ll try to help any way I can, even if it’s form-letter-sounding.

        2. PontoonPirate*

          I read somewhere–can’t remember where–that if you’re reaching out to someone for a favor, it actually works better to put your ask first and then inquire after their kids/pets/hobbies. It comes off as more forthright and less like you’re really only interested in the favor they can do for you.

          1. Koko*

            This rings true for me. I occasionally get these messages from people on Facebook that I haven’t heard from in months and they read like such obvious copy and paste jobs, and they always lead in with these token pleasantries, I hope you’re doing well, what are you up to, and then they want me to help promote something they’re working on. It just makes everything from the beginning of the message feel insincere. Like, you clearly sent me this message because you wanted something from me, not because you give a damn about what I’m up to, or else you would have been contacting me before this!

            I much more respect if someone just says, hey, this is really important to me and I’d appreciate if you could help me with it. I don’t mind being asked for favors, even from people I haven’t heard from in a while (we’re all so busy!), but I don’t like the insinuation I can be manipulated into doing a favor by some fake/insincere words.

          2. AnonyMoose*

            Thank you for this feedback; I think I do this in my business emails too and I think it may be a poor strategy. I appreciate the perspective!

    2. TootsNYC*

      I just call people and say, “I’m looking for work.”

      I’ve never not had a friendly and helpful response, and I know that if someone I used to work with cold-calls me and said, “I need to find a new job, let me know if you hear of anything or have any tips,” my immediate response is, “send me a up-to-date copy of your resumé–what sort of thing are you looking for? And I’ll forward it to our HR department, in case there’s something I haven’t heard about.”

      We all job hunt, and I don’t see any need to beat around the bush about it.

  2. Anonymous Educator*

    Left a toxic job recently for a much better job. When people hear complain about things, I just think how much worse it was at toxic job. Found out recently a friend of mine was in an even more toxic situation than the one I left. Toxic is all relative, I guess…

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      So sorry you were in a toxic situation, and glad you got out of it!

      Toxic is relative, but it doesn’t mean any of it is okay.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        “Toxic is relative, but it doesn’t mean any of it is okay”
        Thank you for saying that! It’s a good reminder and I bet there are a few people out there that need to hear it.

        1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

          +1

          I needed to hear this today. I was relaying my frustration with my boss and my friend said, “at least you have a job, a lot of people are unemployed.”

          It shut me down completely and made me feel bad for complaining about the way I am treated.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            That’s like saying to someone with an abusive husband “at least you’re married”.

            1. Oryx*

              I heard it put like this: “Saying someone shouldn’t be upset because someone else has it worse is like saying someone shouldn’t be happy because someone else has it better.”

            2. Andraste*

              Yep. Quit a toxic job several months ago. I’m unemployed but way happier. My quality of life is way better. Do I wish I had a job right now? Yep. But still getting out of the toxic situation was the right decision, 100%. Don’t feel bad when you complain, that’s rough!

          2. the gold digger*

            I was complaining about something once – a headache or something – and it came out that the other person had had a kidney transplant after spending a lot of time on dialysis.

            I mumbled something about a headache being nothing compared to dialysis and she answered right back, “No! Everyone’s pain is their own and it all matters.”

            I liked that answer.

    2. Rat Racer*

      I remember that feeling so well after leaving a toxic job for a new one – that feeling of “what are you people complaining about? You have no idea how good you have it!” Funny though how that fades over time. Even though I know that new job is so much better than the old one, that doesn’t stop me from complaining. The bloom wears off the rose…

      1. Sunflower*

        HA totally agree, I’ve been at my new, great job for about 5 weeks and last week I got bummed that our Friday snack they get us every week wasn’t good. Also our monthly dept lunch our dept pays for wasn’t very good. Not complaining but more laughing to myself that I’m turning into THAT person!

        1. TootsNYC*

          This might be a sign of your recovery, actually–that you can now complain about the small stuff again.

    3. A*

      Same here. I’m often thinking to myself “you think this is bad? I’ve had it so much worse!” So glad I have this job!

    4. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      Same here – when my co-workers of 7 months complain about things, I just want to say “I wish you knew how lucky you are!” My old job and boss were as toxic as they come, whereas now I work for a company and people who treat me well and with respect.

      1. spek*

        I got out of high school over 25 years ago and went into the Navy and went to sea in submarines. I got out after 5 years, but ever since, every time I think my job sucks, I can always say to myself, “It’s way better than being on the boat…”

        1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

          I’ve often said that my worst day at this job is better than the best day at my old one!

        2. Ghost Umbrella*

          I went in the Army after high school and spent some time in Iraq. Now I just remind myself that any day nobody is actively trying to kill me is a good one.

          Sometimes I suspect that some of the people I currently work with *are* actively trying to kill me via an aneurysm, though.

        3. Soupspoon McGee*

          I’m changing careers to health care, and even my worst days, when I’m covered in mystery body fluids and patients have yelled at me and someone has died –even those are better than my last job.

    5. CrazyCatLady*

      Toxic is relative and I’ve learned that by being at a couple of toxic jobs. One was very toxic (allowed sexual harassment, misogynistic, bullying) and now that one seems totally tolerable compared to the toxic environment I’m now in, which is toxic in completely different ways! Thanks to AskaManager though, I think I’ll be better equipped to screen for toxicity in future positions.

      I’m so glad you are in a better job now!

    6. Anna*

      I think it’s important to remember also that complaining does not necessarily mean people think a situation is toxic. We all complain about this or that when our jobs annoy us. I love my job, I love what I do, but that doesn’t mean every day is roses and sunshine and I will gripe if I need to vent a little.

    7. Cautionary tail*

      Toxic job PTSD survivor here. It’s been three years since I left toxic job and I still never feel comfortable or secure at work. I do not keep any personal items at work and my desk is completely barren, even during the work day. If I leave the building for lunch there is nothing personal left behind. I’ve been burned that bad.

      I do very good work when I am there but nothing comes home with me unless it is critical. Toxic workplaces can screw you up so badly.

      I would not classify my current workplace as normally toxic but it does have toxic moments, especially when dealing with specific toxic people. I wouldn’t classify my current workplace as good either, it’s more like a place that is usually neutral because you never get a thank you but never get hit with a tazer either.

      1. Argh!*

        Same here. I had nightmares from the old job for five years, usually whenever something went wrong during the day at the new job. If that’s not PTSD I don’t know what is!

        1. F.*

          I still have nightmares about the very toxic workplace I left nearly nine years ago. I have jokingly sworn that I will go to that manager’s funeral to make sure she is dead so she can’t torture me any more!

          1. the gold digger*

            It’s been more than a year since I left my toxic workplace and I still can’t hear the ads on the radio that use an Australian announcer (CEO was from Australia) without flinching. If I can, I change the station.

              1. the gold digger*

                Aussie academic, he is the only jerk Australian I have ever met! It’s just that the guy in the ad sounds just like him. I was able to watch the TV show about the Jewish nurse after WII just fine. :)

    8. periwinkle*

      Definitely all relative. There are things I would change about my department, boss, division, the VP in charge of the division (oh, especially that factor), and the company. But when I catch myself whining I recall where I’ve been before and what I’ve got now. Then I happily hum “Everything is Awesome” and really mean it.

      Reading AAM is an even more effective dose of reality. I mean, good grief…

    9. Lizzy*

      Both my best friend and I are currently in toxic workplaces, but different situations. I am working for small, disorganized organization with bad management who doesn’t manage, employees who are expected to do things that are not possible, expectations and directions are unclear, so many things are done last minute and employees are expected to suck it up and stay late to do the task (and these situations can be avoided) and there is very little transparency. My friend, conversely, is working for a very organized organization that has a lot of mobility, yet she has been alienated from upper management to get promotions, mainly because her personality; she is tough, assertive and will push to get things get done, but her organization’s culture has an expectation of being deferential and keeping your head down. She’s done a lot of good work and even turned around a program in an overseas office, yet has seen lots of her coworkers surpass her in promotions and watched the organization hire outside candidates — with less experience and education–for positions she has wanted. It has been really damaging to her self-esteem and self-worth.

      So yes, toxic is relative, but I think too many people see it as a black-or-white situation when toxic workplaces can manifest in different ways.

  3. LSP*

    What is your favorite question to ask during an interview?

    Mine is: “How would you describe a typical day/week in this position?”

    1. Not Karen*

      “Is there anything I haven’t mentioned that would make me a better candidate for this position?”

      (Though last time I asked it, the interviewers didn’t hear me correctly, so it kind of bombed…)

      1. coyote_fan*

        I always like to ask why the position is open. If it is an expansion of the business, it’s a good sign to me. If it is open due to internal transfer/promotion, it’s a good sign. However, if they don’t really give a good explanation, or they mention that the role has turned over a few times (which I have heard) it’s a bad sign that the manager or company is causing people to leave for some reason.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I had a hiring manager tell me that the previous person had transferred internally to another department because the original department was going through a period of rapid growth and that that situation wasn’t a fit for that employee. I appreciated the honesty, and it didn’t turn me off of the job. I knew what he meant about some people being more suited to routine than to change, especially when change means an increased workload and difficult prioritization decisions. His sensitivity to the person who needed to leave and awareness of the difficulty of the job during the transition phase was what kept any red flags at bay. He seemed willing to be flexible and work with a new person through any difficulties, and I know that the school that the department is in tends to hire more staff when it is warranted (versus other schools at this university that wouldn’t add a salary line even if people were dying from the workload).

        2. Sara*

          I asked this once – in an interview that was, admittedly, not going amazingly well, but it certainly wasn’t a disaster – and I’m pretty sure it was a significant factor in my not getting called back for the 2nd round. The lead interviewer basically freaked out, and even after I backtracked and said I understood if they were not able to discuss that information, and kept saying, in effect, “This is the open position. I can’t tell you why it’s open. I’m not going to provide that information. I can’t discuss that.” After that I asked another AAM question (What qualities would make someone excel in this position vs. just be adequate? I phrased it better though.), and another member of the interviewing team said “The ability to function without sleeping, ever.” Um. Bullet dodged!

          1. coyote_fan*

            I don’t understand why that interviewer would have an issue with the question unless the last person quit because the environment/culture/manager was terrible. If they have something to hide, it means the last person probably did not have a good experience and neither will you.

            1. Sara*

              Oh, agreed 100%. I have zero regrets about not getting called back. It was just so unexpected; I’d never asked that question before, but I’d read comments here that indicated it was generally an acceptable inquiry, so the guy’s freak out was quite unexpected.

      2. Blue Anne*

        I do something similar. I usually phrase it as “Is there anything you’re looking for that we haven’t covered?”

    2. Gwen Soul*

      What is your management style? I know there are certain types of people I cannot work under so I try to weed those out.

      When I am interviewing people for our analytics group I always ask if they like to work on finding all the details of a project or if they prefer to have a high level understanding over a lot of areas. We have room for both in the department but want to make sure they are being considered for the role with the type of work they prefer. I worry it is coming across as trying to trick them but it is really that one leader focuses on more research oriented questions and another focuses on the quick operational answers.

      1. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

        This one — the first one about management style. Given how important it is to have a manager who you work well with, this is a question I’ve asked potential managers as well as the people who are managed by them. You can find out if the manager is a micro manager, a mercurial one, or a good one, even if the person responding doesn’t flat out say it.

        1. Regina 2*

          I disagree. Every person I’ve ever asked this has always said they aren’t a micromanager. Who would ever say that? I think you have to address this question in roundabout ways to get at the real answer, and I find it quite difficult to gauge from their answer alone.

          1. Nom d' Pixel*

            Sadly that is true. Our department head is always going on about teaching people to think for themselves and treating them like adults, but she infantilizes everyone and won’t let anyone make a decision.

          2. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

            I agree that most people won’t come out and say “I’m a micromanager!” or “My moods change with the barometer!” That’s why I ask the people who report to the same manager too. And then pay close attention to body language and what they are saying in between the lines. Not foolproof, but my experience has been that the answers to that question give me valuable insights.

          3. Ad Astra*

            In my experience, people usually say they’re hands-on managers, but not micromanagers. I think a lot of people just don’t know how to give a helpful, accurate answer to that question — and some people are flat-out fibbers.

            I get better results by asking things like “Can you walk me through your editorial process?” or “How involved are you in a typical piece of communication?” But that does require some specific knowledge about the job, so YMMV.

          4. TootsNYC*

            I’ve said, “I micromanage on some things—I hope not too annoyingly, but you’d find that there are some areas where I will be really picky and might even stand over your shoulder. On most stuff, I like to give people the info they need and let them go.”

      2. CM*

        If you’re worried that people will think you’re trying to trick them, can you (maybe you already do) tell them upfront that there’s room for both?

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I like that one. I also like to ask “How would you describe your company’s culture?”or substitute “What do you value most in your employees?” And if it’s going really well, “what do people here like most about their jobs?”

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        I hate getting asked about culture because I never know what it means. That seems like one of those ambiguous buzzwords. I would much rather be asked specific questions.

        1. OhNo*

          See, that’s part of why I like asking that question. The way that people answer that question often tells me as much as what they actually describe. Like, do they think I’m asking if the department buys everyone lunch on Fridays? Do they think I’m asking about work-life balance? Do they think I’m asking about workload?

          The first thing that pops into people’s minds when you mention the workplace’s culture can give you a pretty big hint about what the company AND the person you’re interviewing with finds important (or doesn’t).

          1. Zebra*

            I like that reasoning. I asked it today in an interview and one person remarked on the social activities and how you don’t have to take your work home with you while the other talked about the collaborative nature of the company. I got double the information I would have gotten from just one of them and got to see what each felt was important!

      1. cuppa*

        I did a “what would a successful first year look like for the person in this position?” and that went over really well!

        1. Ad Astra*

          Every time I ask that question the interviewer thinks I’m asking about raises or promotions when I really want to know about how they measure success and what the goals and expectations are for that position. I’m not sure why it’s so confusing, but I’m thinking I may need to phrase it differently somehow.

      2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

        I like this question too! Hiring Managers respond well to it, and it helps clarify expectations!

      3. Koko*

        +1

        Especially when I’m interviewing for a stretch/next-step role, this is the question I ask to determine for myself if I really think I can do the job. I might think I have a good grip on most of the duties and could pick up the rest with time, and this question gives me some insight into how much I would need to pick up and how fast I’d have to pick it up. I went on two interviews close together for pretty similar-sounding positions – but in one role, they wanted me to be bringing in new people and making recommendations to overhaul the department in the first few months; in the other role, they’d already done an internal audit and had a list of changes they’d be expecting me to execute in my first few months. I knew I could come in and follow recommendations while I got up to speed. I knew I couldn’t come in and immediately start steering the ship from Day 1.

    4. Isben Takes Tea*

      “Some job cultures expect that you’ll leave at five, and others expect you to stay until the job is finished. From your experience, what is expectation for this role?”

      And if it’s leave at five except for finishing deadlines/emergencies, “How regularly does that occur?”

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I usually like to ask what the previous person in that position did that was amazing, and also what they’d like the new person to do that the previous person didn’t do.

      1. Sunflower*

        Similar to that, I ask ‘what would the person in this role have to do/have to do really well to exceed your expectations’ or something like that. It usually really impresses the interviewer and gives me a better idea of if I can work with what the role expects/what’s the most skill/part of the role

      2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        The guy that wound up getting my former job asked this question in the interview. He was told that I was very good at communicating when I had too much on my plate and asking for help. I’m pretty sure that’s because once I realized no amount of superstar work ethic would result in a raise and/or promotion (the way the company was structured left almost no room for growth, particularly in my department), I stopped going above and beyond for my employer.

        I did my job very well up until my last day, but every time my boss would try to give me additional duties, I would calmly say, “I would love to take that on, but as you know I have a full workload as it is. Can we discuss what might get shifted so that I have time to work on this?” It helped that I was non-exempt and they strongly discouraged overtime unless there was an emergency. But there was no way I was going to try to cram 50 hours of work into a 40 hour work week without the possibility that it would help advance my career.

    6. Malissa*

      Why do you like to work here?

      This can be a very revealing question. As a bonus you also get a good peak into what perks/benefits the company has.

      1. Ordinary World*

        I’ve seen the most horrifically telling replies to that, such as completely blank looks, or, most memorable, a whole group of people sitting in stone-faced silence, refusing to look at each other. It’s become my go-to question when I think there may be a toxic dynamic going on.

        1. Anna*

          In my head this ends with you standing up, thanking them and saying, “Well, I think we all learned something here today. Bye!”

        2. Anon Accountant*

          Or when they began to scramble for some line of BS to tell you and you can tell it’s BS. And accompanied by the deer in the headlights look.

    7. Heather*

      Alison’s favorite question “What would differentiate a merely good candidate with a superior one for this position?” It has blown interviewers away!

      1. Sunny*

        Yup! I have used this and it helps so much. I use my own wording though and it really tells you a lot about the position. I have also used “what are some reservations that you have about me for this position?” then I respond honestly to their concerns. Sometimes, I tell them that the weaknesses they mention are valid.
        I only use it on the positions I feel I am a good match for though.

        1. mander*

          I tried a variation on this once, and the response was basically “if we had any reservations, we wouldn’t have interviewed you”. I didn’t get the job.

          I’d been hoping that maybe it was a chance to explain that I’m not looking for an academic position, I plan to be there for at least a year, etc. — all things that I later heard from a friend who worked there that they were concerned about. It was frustrating after the fact, but then I guess that says something about how management communicates about their concerns with people.

      2. Devil's Avocado*

        Counter point: I’ve used this in probably half a dozen interviews (almost verbatim), and no one has ever understood it correctly the first time. I always have to clarify or ask a follow up question. For some reason it has just seemed to really throw people off. Maybe it is my delivery or something…

        1. Sunny*

          Maybe you should use your own wording so it sounds more natural?

          I would say it like this; “Out of the people who have held this position in the past, what is the difference between those who went above and beyond and those who merely did an adequate job?”

          1. Devil's Avocado*

            Well, yes, I do use my own wording. ;) I generally interview very well and don’t sound like I am reading from a script.

            I’ve just noticed a trend that interviewers haven’t seemed to receive it well, in my experience. They tend to take it too literally and answer “oh, well we’ve only had one person in this position” or “I’ve only been here 2 years so I don’t really know…”, which means I have to follow up with a rephrase, or another question that gets at the same thing.

            I’m not saying it’s a bad question – just that it hasn’t worked as well for me as it seemingly has for everyone else.

            1. Sunny*

              Yeah I guess it depends on how the interview is going. Sorry I didn’t mean to imply it sounded rehearsed.

              For instance, I interviewed for a position where apparently EVERYONE who held the job was a superstar, so they were overachievers and always moved to management somewhere else. I took that information and asked what were things they did that I could implement in my career (being somewhat new as a professional). Even though I didn’t get the position, their answers were very helpful.

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                I tried it once with a position that was new to the department/company. Apparently, the hiring manager hadn’t thought that far ahead…

                This was for an internal interview.

              2. Devil's Avocado*

                No, I know you weren’t implying it was because it sounded rehearsed. I wanted to clarify that I really don’t think it was my presentation or phrasing. I think people just didn’t react well to the question itself. This was all in non-profit/higher education in Canada. Maybe it works better in other sectors.

            2. Lindsay J*

              I’ve had the same experience. (Not even the literal-ness, just, like, them not getting it until I rephrase it a couple times). I kind of like the questions mentioned above, “What were some things the last person did in this job that were really great?” and “What are some things the last person in this job didn’t do that you would like to see done by the new hire?” I feel like asking those questions will get the same information, but it’s using a frame of reference that grounds it a little bit more.

              I don’t know if everyone conceiving a role can off the top of their head think of what someone in the position would do that was great vs adequate (especially with things like admin roles – a great vs adequate salesperson is pretty easy to differentiate while the difference between a great vs adequate admin or analyst is subtler). However, I think everyone can think of something they wish a coworker or subordinate did more of or did better or did differently (or can think of something that would logically fit into that person’s domain that they didn’t do), and can also hopefully think of some things that that person was awesome at and would want to see a new person continue to do.

              1. ElCee*

                Yes. I had this exact same experience as well–just a couple weeks ago! The way I first presented the question, I could see in their faces that it was too general for them to answer. So I tried to restate the question in more specific terms, but at that point was starting to feel flustered, so it was just awkward all around. I’m sure if I had just explained better it would have been more successful, but I do think there are some situations for which The Question is, on its face, too general.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          Interesting — I feel like it’s a new standard question, since I’ve gotten it from more than half of the people I’ve interviewed recently.

        3. Anx*

          I used a very similar question before I saw it here, and it’s never seemed to catch well. I asked it because I worry about being too mediocre in a position, and wanted to know what may make them feel like they hired the right person.

          I think it fell flat because it was too earnest or thoughtful for the positions I was applying for.

        4. Older Not Yet Wiser*

          Also, last year someone I was interviewing asked that exact question and:
          A. I was not impressed because I knew they did not come up with that on their own (been an AAM fan for five years now). It was so fake. The other interviewers were just … Huh?
          B. I think it’s time for a new “blow the interviewers away” question. Something you genuinely want to know, a sincere question would impress me – not a canned question you don’t really want an answer to.

      3. cuppa*

        I actually did this one and it bombed. I had to explain it three different ways, and then they basically ended up telling me why the last person didn’t work out (sugar-coated) and what they would do differently to make sure it never happened again, but I never really got a straight answer.

        Not that people shouldn’t ask this question, but it didn’t wow them like I expected it to.

        1. Devil's Avocado*

          I had the exact same experience as you. It has definitely not been the magic bullet for me that it has been for others!

        2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

          Yeah…my last interviewer told mis-answered this question, or just skipped the great part. It was awkward.

      4. Zebra*

        I commented further down that I used this one today and one of the interviewers was just bowled over by it. I asked “What’s the difference between someone who is good at this job versus someone who is great at it?” They left the room while I took a proofreading test after the interview and she said, “That good versus great question… I’m not going to forget it!”

    8. Oryx*

      Honestly, I love one of Alison’s recommendations: Asking the difference between someone who is good at the job from someone who is really great.

      Every single time I ask it, the person gets all starry-eyed, like it’s the best question they’ve ever been asked in an interview ever.

        1. OhNo*

          You joke, but that’s basically the exact response I got from the last interviewer I asked that question. I could practically see the stars in his eyes!

      1. Mike C.*

        Seriously, it’s cheating but I love it. I also like to ask about goals 6-12 months out, and the biggest challenges that may derail them. It gives a good idea of the big picture issues facing the team and really clues you in to what the manager really cares about.

      2. Emmie*

        I ask a version of this…. what do your top performers look like (i.e. do differently)? I genuinely want to know this because I want to be one. Ask questions that you sincerely care about, and not for show.

    9. Daydreamer*

      If someone was to ask you why they should work for this company/organization, what would you tell them? (and I encourage them to speak honestly rather than going to company/organization messaging)

      I always get a “That’s an excellent question. No one has asked that before.” when I ask.

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        That is an easy one for the company I am at (although for other places I have worked I could not say the same). We are stable, provide good benefits, opportunities for career growth within the company. When I interview people, I often use our stability as a selling point. I mention that I have been here for 13 years, my boss has been here for more than 15 years, and we have a couple people who have been in the department since its inception more than 20 years ago.

    10. BRR*

      I can’t say I have one favorite, my favorite question is usually one that is really tailored to the position.

    11. Sunflower*

      Ha It’s so funny how this is your favorite but I’ve pretty much stopped asking it because it never gives me any info. I’m an event planner and the answer to this is always ‘oh everyday is so different!’

      My favorite question is ‘What is the most important quality/skill for the person in this role to have’. The job description tells me the kind of work I’ll be doing but this lets me know if I would actually be good at the job or interested in what I’d be doing

      1. LSP*

        Good point. I think it depends on the industry for sure. It’s funny, if someone asked me that question I would expand the time and describe a typical month since that’s what we base our reports off of.

        I really like your question. Out of all the skills wanted/listed it’s always nice to hear which one(s) they really care about.

    12. moss*

      I got a good response when I asked “If you could replace us [programmers] with a robot, would you?” and she had to stop and think and came back with something about the benefits of having a human look things over.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Heh I like this. The answers to it would be really telling, I think, about the company culture, work-life balance, and expectations.

    13. Macedon*

      Catered to my industry, but – “If you had to pick, what’re the three articles published in the past few months that you’re proudest your team got to put out and why?”

      Gives me a good sense of what they prioritise, what their personal side-passions are and what their methodology is (as the answers will usually be pieces that either involved an incredible amount of work or that covered topics the editor or team particularly care about).

    14. CMT*

      I just had a series of 3 interviews for a job I realllyyyyy want (haven’t heard back yet, so keep your fingers crossed). I chickened out on asking this kind of question at the end of each one. All the interviews had been so focused on the job duties that I felt like it would have been super awkward to totally change the subject of the conversation. Has anybody else had interviews where they felt like this line of questioning would have been awkward or out of place?

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I never have, but I’m also comfortable saying, “On a different note…” and re-orienting the conversation. If the employer isn’t okay with that, the employer is probably not going to like me in general.

        Good luck with the job!

      2. OhNo*

        Actually, yes. I went on an interview just a few weeks ago that was very focused on daily duties and not on culture, or fit, or anything like that. I decided to ask those questions anyway (specifically, I asked both, “What would be the difference between someone who is just okay at this position, and someone who is truly excellent?” and “I’m getting the impression that your culture here is very X. Is that accurate? How would you describe your work culture here?”).

        It worked so much better than I could have expected. The interviewer was obviously excited to talk about the subject – I got the impression that he was thrilled that I was trying to understand the company better, and that I impressed him by wanting to make sure that I would fit in to the group there, not just that I was physically capable of the work.

        I ended up taking myself out of consideration, since the job really wouldn’t have been right for me, so I don’t know if asking that would have helped me get the job or not. But it did help the interview change from a dry recitation of responsibilities to a genuine conversation in just a few minutes. So clearly asking those kind of questions can really change the tone of an interview!

    15. CM*

      I like to ask about the structure of the organization, and how this position/group fits in. This helps me understand the role better, and it’s been well received by interviewers who seemed impressed that I’m thinking about how the organization works.

    16. Turanga Leela*

      I try to think of what I’ll be wondering later, and then I ask that. It tends to be very fact-based: What kind of training process do you have? How much do different employees collaborate on their cases? How many cases does each person have at a time? What’s the usual expectation in terms of hours, and how much flexibility is there (e.g. can I work through lunch instead of taking an hour PTO)?

      I’ve never asked this, but if I were interviewing now, I’d want to know how supervision works and what factors go into performance reviews.

    17. Merry and Bright*

      I also like to ask why the position is open. If the interviewers start shifting in their seats I see the tip of a red flag.

      My other favourite question is to ask the interviewers what they like most about working there. The answers can sometimes tell you volumes – good and bad.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        In the interview for my current job I asked why the position was open, and the hiring manager looked me dead in the eye and said grimly, “Sometimes people just need to leave.” Once I started, I found out the previous person was extremely toxic and had caused several other people to quit to escape her.

    18. WhiskeyTango*

      I usually ask, “Besides knowledge, what are you looking for to fill the position?” In my industry, you either have the knowledge or you don’t. But I will usually get the same response, “We’re looking for someone who is a good fit with our team.” So then I have to follow up with questions about the team’s dynamic. But it’s a good way to open the door.

    19. BrownN*

      How would you describe your supervisory style?

      I’m almost always surprised at that some of them don’t know how to answer it. I ask because I don’t want to work under a micro- or micro-micro manager.

    20. Nom d' Pixel*

      I have a take on this question that I would like to get opinions on. I have submitted my resume to another department within the company. I work very closely with that department, so closely that we act as signatures on each other’s interdepartmental reports. I know every person in that department and what their job entails. I know what expectations the director has from his employees and how frequently people tend to be promoted.

      What is left to ask?

      1. OhNo*

        You can still ask the 30/60/90 day expectations question, and the question on the difference between a so-so employee and an excellent one. Since you know more details about their work, you can also ask more detailed questions about specific projects or changes, what your role might be in them, or how the director would like to see the role and/or the department grow in the next few years.

    21. Brett*

      I just do the technical side of interviews. I normally design a series of progressively harder questions that are all related and start with, “I am going to ask you a series of technical questions related to this position. I do not expect you to be able to completely answer all of them. I do not expect anyone to be able to completely answer all of them without some research time, not even me. If you don’t know the answer, just tell me how you would go about researching the question.”
      Over time, I have found that the best hires could only answer about half the questions, but could give a research plan for the entire series of questions all the way to the end. (The one guy who got through an entire series would have been a great hire, but was way way way out of our price range.)

    22. Brett*

      And now I realize this is questions for candidates to ask….

      I have only done startup interviews lately, and I ask some variant of this:

      “Who do we have to beat to market, and what do you need from me to beat them?” (They should have a very firm grasp of their competitors, how to move faster than those competitors, and how you are going to make the company more competitive.)

      Also, “How is revenue going to scale?” (If they cannot answer this one, you will be unemployed in no more than 12 months.)

    23. Biff*

      I like to ask now who I will actually be working with every day. I’ve also started asking why people don’t succeed in a position, the reason being that sometimes asking the traits of someone successful in the position won’t reveal if your fatal flaw will come into play. It doesn’t have to sound as negative as I just made it sound though. More like this:

      (Pretend I have a chemical sensitivity to chlorine.)
      Me: Can you describe someone who is successful in this position?
      Them: We’ve found that self-starting people who are very good at reading and implementing written safety procedures do best in our use-and-abuse testing lab.
      Me: Great! Can you tell me some traits of people who haven’t been successful?
      Them: Our use and abuse lab spends a tremendous time washing dishes in many different chemicals, people with sensitive skin have been known to quit.

    24. Lizzy*

      I always ask about communication styles, especially since I have dealt with managers who are very unclear and have expected their employees to read their minds. And I am not just taking about preference for email vs. in-person, but how you want–and how often–your employees to give you updates on projects and how you communicate expectations to your employees. I find this question is also a great way to get insight into management styles.

      1. Soupspoon McGee*

        I’ve worked in higher education, so I’ve had managers use the right buzzwords to describe their management and communication styles, but they’ve been remarkably oblivious or deceitful. One manager was so difficult that the head of HR attempted to moderate our communication differences, and manager insisted she was collaborative, etc. Even HR disagreed.

        But during one interview, the would-be manager asked me what did and didn’t work for me. I said I didn’t do well with micro-management, and she blurted, “God no–that’s too much work!” Better than any buzzwords, and she did not micro-manage.

  4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Weird interview this week: the woman led off with “I see you think you have a sense of humour,” then asked me “Huh,I was trying to figure out your ethnicity by your last name!” And then proceeded to pick over my resume line by line. “Hmm…I see you minored in Russian. Why was that? Can you say something in Russian? Are you Russian?” After that, she asked “Are you married? What does your husband do?” And then she asked zero questions about work. None. Not one. She gave me the job description and tried to convince me that working 2 out of 3 Saturdays was a great thing (not in the ad!) and then when I asked about something else in the ad, she said “Oh, I don’t know what that says. Someone in another office wrote it for me.”

    I did not get that job and I am OK with that.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Bullet dodged there. Sorry it was an awful interview though – fingers crossed something positive will happen soon in your job search!

    2. BenAdminGeek*

      Maybe she was competing for an intra-office “worst interviewer ever” award. I gotta say, solid contender for state champ with those comments and questions.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        You know, I did not know. I wondered too, but it’s not like my cover letter was particularly humorous in any way? Unless she thought it was funny of me to write an enthusiastic cover letter for an admin job, I suppose. I chalked it up to just being weird.

        1. Anna*

          I was hoping it was something cooler. Like you were wearing a cheerful (but not inappropriate) brooch or something. Not even that? Weird.

    3. JMegan*

      Wow. As much as I hate government interviews (and I do!) at least there’s comfort in knowing I will never be subjected to an interview like that! Agreed, that you’re better off not getting that job.

    4. Nom d' Pixel*

      Wow. Did you interview with anyone else or just her? I wonder if they know she is doing that, not that it is your responsibility to tell them, I am just curious. That is crazy.

        1. Nom d' Pixel*

          I believe it. I have noticed that quite a few people start their own businesses simply because they don’t want to work for someone, but they don’t realize that they still have to work with people.

    5. Amy M.*

      Oh my gosh – that is terrifying and hilarious at the same time. With so many inappropriate questions/comments I would wonder if I was being pranked! Definitely not who you want to work for.

  5. Christy*

    I still feel like I’m just tricking my coworkers into thinking I have my work life together. Now, they love me–I got a higher-than-their-average rating for new employees, something that’s quite unusual, apparently. But I’m still feeling the imposter syndrome. I’m also a procrastinator, which isn’t great. Sigh. Commiseration, please? Advice, also, please? I’m hoping to just start believing them. I’m also trying to convince myself that all of my problems are puzzles for me to solve. (And they basically are.) I hope it makes them less intimidating.

    1. Shishimai*

      Your problems are, in fact, puzzles for you to solve. *s*

      I tend to procrastinate, too. I can definitely commiserate with you. Imposter syndrome is hard to handle, and it lies, and that doesn’t make it easier to remember your awesome.

      Does it help at all to keep a brag file? I keep a list of things I accomplished, nice things people wrote about me (in email, so I’m not writing down conversations or anything) and a checklist of completed and in-progress goals.

      I recently saw The Martian, and it was awesome, and one of the things I liked about it was the focus on solving one small problem at a time, until you have a whole list down. I’m trying to import that into my work life. I do it pretty well when not at work, but somehow work is just harder.

      1. Christy*

        Oh, I should really focus on that one small problem at a time thing! I forget about that and it would be particularly useful for my work.

        And I do keep a brag file, for my performance evaluations, but I think I’m still a little twisted from my old job where everything seemed totally arbitrary. But that’s a good point, look up the brag file when I’m not believing praise. They can’t all be wrong.

        1. Shishimai*

          Unless your managers and coworkers are wildly off of consensus reality, they’re probably mostly right, even.

          I wrangle anxiety, so this kind of fact-checking is really important to me. *s* I hope it helps for you, too!

      2. spocklady*

        I’m working on breaking stuff down into small problems too! It helps, when I remember to do it. I’m fighting the tendency to think, when I don’t understand something, that it’s me (as opposed to, say, x y or z thing is just really confusing).

        Solidarity and commiseration. For me it does seem to get a little better with time, and new jobs are especially fraught. Hopefully that will be the case for you too!

      3. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Oh man, The Martian has been sooo helpful for me, and I thought that was just a weird me thing! My usual reaction to Bad Scary Thing happening is OMG PANIC FLAIL, but I reacted to unexpected crisis this week with a bit of a “what would Mark Watney do?” attitude. (Swear a lot, crack bad jokes, and solve the problem one step at a time; if things get worse, deal with the worse stuff when it happens.)

        Now I want to start a thread here like “which fictional characters do you channel to deal with problems?” When I have to be cool, professional, polished, and deal with the public, for example, I attempt to channel Joan from Mad Men….

    2. LSP*

      I feel you!

      I am the lead teapot specialist. Ranked #1 for the last 4 years. I am also a huuuuuggge procrastinator, like I can’t even believe how successful I am at work sometimes.

      I say, own it! “I may be a procrastinator* but I still get the job done, I’m kicking butt, and I’m learning everyday!”

      *are you sure you are a procrastinator? What if we are both just being hard on ourselves? I saw an article recently that explained the difference between a workaholic and a hard worker. Hard workers do not give 100% all the time, but they know when they need to and typically don’t burn out.

      1. Anna*

        I’m beginning to think that being a procrastinator is not really a problem, it’s just a different process. I do procrastinate. I do now, I did in college, it has always been the way I work. I finish my work, I can’t remember the last time I had to ask for a deadline to be extended. So why is being a procrastinator such a bad thing? I understand the need for some time built in just in case adjustments need to be made, but it’s not like I’m not thinking about the task or how to get it done. I am!

        1. Koko*

          I have a tendency to procrastinate and in my case, the biggest drawback is that sometimes I’ll realize very late in the game that I need a coworker’s input or expertise, and now I’m asking them to do something for me on a very short timeline because I wasted a bunch of time not doing any work on the project.

          1. Anna*

            Well, yes, I see how that can be a problem. I just think there’s process and procrastination and we tend to use the word procrastination as if it’s always a bad thing. Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s just how a person works.

        2. The IT Manager*

          Procrastinator’s who procrastinate and don’t finish on schedule definitely do have a problem with procrastination.

        3. A Minion*

          You’re right, being a procrastinator isn’t a problem. Until it is.
          I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put things off, thinking I had plenty of time, only to get started on it at the last minute with just enough time to get it done only to run into something completely unexpected that throws everything off the rails. Then I’m scrambling to fix whatever went out into left field, plus getting the task/project complete on time and, more often than not, having to explain why I couldn’t get this or that done by the deadline when I had to ask for more time.
          I get what you’re saying, but for me, I was just lulling myself into a false sense of security by saying things like, “I always meet my deadlines, don’t I?” or “I do my best work under pressure.” Those were lies I told myself because I wanted to keep procrastinating. Also, thinking about the task and working on the task are two completely different things. When you’re procrastinating, thinking about the task turns in to worrying about the task and stressing about the task and that’s never a good thing.
          I went to a small zoo-type place (it wasn’t an actual zoo, it had a couple of larger, outside animals, but a huge aquarium with turtles, fish, snakes, lizards, birds, etc.) and was talking to the person who took care of the snakes. He was holding a big, beautiful python and had just passed it over to me. I was asking lots of questions about it and caring for it and when I asked if he’d ever been bitten, he held out his arm and I saw that he was scarred from the hand up past his elbow. He said, “Of course I’ve been bitten. I handle snakes on a daily basis. It’s not ever a matter of ‘if’ the snake will bite you, it’s just a question of ‘when’.”
          I think procrastination is the same way. It’s not a matter of if you’ll ever get yourself in trouble because of it, it’s simply a question of when.

    3. KathyGeiss*

      I was in your shoes when I first started work. Everyone thought I was awesome but I never believed it and was waiting to be “found out”. Add a killer case of procrastination and it sucks. All I can say is that the imposter syndrome goes away (fake it and one day you’ll realize you’re no longer faking). The procrastination however, is here for keeps. I just work better under pressure. good luck.

    4. Melissa*

      Whenever I feel the imposter syndrome (which is all the time, despite years of promotions, glowing evaluations, etc.–I don’t think it will ever go away), I remind myself that no one else is going to do my job. I have to do it to the best of my ability, even when I don’t feel confident about my abilities. That usually gets me past the worrying and back into the working.

      Also, when you make mistakes, view them as opportunities to learn and improve, not failures. That has been a big mental change for me that has helped a lot.

      1. spocklady*

        Oh wow that is a super helpful way to think about it.

        I’m just now remembering that the other way I’ve been dealing with this, is that I *could* keep worrying about whether I’m good enough at my job, but honestly there’s just no percentage in it. It doesn’t help me work harder, it doesn’t help me magically get smarter, it just makes me feel stressed out and awful all the time. So there’s just no point in worrying — if I’m going to be “found out” at some point, no amount of worrying will stop that. It doesn’t always help, but some days it jolts me back out of my funk.

        I’m totally trying the “no one else is going to do my job” thing.

    5. Mark in Cali*

      I know this feeling too.

      Then I talk to senior level employees in my department that don’t even know how to pull a report or log into our CRM and my jaw drops.

      When people are me are clickity-clackty on their keyboards all day, and sighing deep sighs, and eating lunch at their desk because they have “so much to do,” I remind myself that they probably are doing thing the hard way. I think it’s easy to feel like you aren’t accomplishing as much as the people around you are, but I’ve come to learn it’s usually because they are going about things the hard way (not to say the easy way is always better, but when you invest time and money into tools to make your job easier, well you should use them).

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I think that some imposter syndrome is okay- it keeps us on our toes and it keeps us humble so that we do not appear as jerks to our coworkers.
      When you get a big rush of impostership, maybe you can use that as a reminder to ask questions rather than blurt out ill-formed answers. If there is no opportunity to ask questions, then you can use it to say “okay what is like to be this person that receives x [or gives me x]? What do they see? What do they need?” I can’t count the times it has saved my butt to be able to figure out that someone needed not only x but y also. Even though y was never mentioned.

      In short, look around. Is something happening that makes you feel like you are not on top of an aspect of something and that is what is triggering the feelings? If yes, then take steps to confront that lack of knowledge. If no, give it a rest. You might figure out an idea on a different day or you might just be tired and not realizing how tired.

    7. Exhasperated*

      Fellow procrastinator with a high work turnover. Hello!! :)

      Is it that you are not thinking you are doing a good job despite hitting targets? Or are you just feeling generally overwhelmed and surprise yourself when you finish the work?

      I use the puzzle method, it works for me. But then, I get tasks that are just so tedious that I just get a mental block and find something else to do and hope it goes away until I absolutely have to do it…

    8. Folklorist*

      I honestly thought that I wrote this for a second. I’m on here because I’m procrastinating on a HUGE project. New(ish) at my job; just had my first (above-average) review; this big project I’m doing is being hyped by my bosses as something that could be a massive, award-winning coup for the company. There’s SO much to do for it, and I need a draft soon–but all the things are so big and I’m terrified that I can’t do it. They’re going to see soon that it was a huge mistake to hire me and I’m so afraid of letting the balls drop all together, but also of doing it wrong. Yes, I know; classic impostor syndrome!

      I feel for you, and have also been trying to approach this project as small steps of puzzles to solve. The stakes feel so high, though, that each puzzle feels more and more difficult. And I’m just frozen. So I’m on here, happy to see that someone else has the same issue as me (but also sad for you, because it’s the worst feeling).

      How about this–let’s each do one action thing on our stuff and report back when we’ve accomplished it? Then we’ll have something to brag about in the thread instead of a perpetuating cycle of misery…

      1. Christy*

        Done! I deleted a view that I didn’t need and also cleaned up a few things in the process! One step closer. I love this.

      2. Shishimai*

        Brilliant idea!
        I fixed the teapot that mysteriously broke overnight.
        Now, to make some tea with it.

      3. Folklorist*

        WOOT!!! I just nailed down an interview that I’ve been pursuing for weeks. OK, that was more a result of someone getting back to me, but it also takes a huge chunk out of my To-Do list (reaching out to others since I didn’t think I’d get her).

        I’ve also located and reached out to a huge group of people for stories, which I’d been putting off for a while.

    9. Argh!*

      You’ve probably never met a true idiot, lazy-arse, horrible employee. One day you will and you’ll go ahhhh so that’s what a horrible person is like. For many of us that moment comes when we start managing other people.

      1. Christy*

        See, I worked with a bunch of those, and they never had any consequences ever. So it was hard to gauge what I should and shouldn’t be getting away with.

        At my old job, you could easily do no work at all other than reading emails and not be questioned at all. It was remarkable. There were multiple known serious-problem employees who were never reprimanded.

    10. Joie*

      No matter what I do I always feel this way… even with promotions, accomplishments, big projects, etc… I never feel good enough. I always think I’ll “be found out,” that I am just winging it, or I don’t really know anything. But I have to remind myself that yes I do know this…

      THANK YOU for writing this. I feel so much better knowing there are others out there who feel the same way!

    11. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      I have to agree with the break things into small parts. Though I tend drag my feet on tasks (it’s really bad outside of work), I like to do lists. I feel accomplished. It prevents me from forgetting to do a minor task or dragging my feet. And it helps me when I stuck on the reference desk and feel like I’m clueless about obscure thing and feel like I have nothing to do. Also we are required to provide summaries of what we did, how long we did it, how much was accomplished (for us it’s cubic ft of archival records processed or number of reference questions answered). Though they are a time suck to do, it has helped minimize the imposter syndrome because I can see how much I accomplished in a month. Or at least what I should focus on in the next month.

    12. TootsNYC*

      I procrastinate. And recently I’ve done some self-analyzing that has helped me avoid it.

      I try to think a bit about -why- I am procrastinating a certain task.
      One big motive for me is if I’m not convinced that the decision I’m making is the right one.

      (For me, it’s booking freelance staff, and all the attendant online paperwork.)
      If I’m having qualms about whether I’ve got the right people, the right number of people, the right times–I’ll put it off.
      So now I focus on “why am I not convinced?” and try to sort that out. I go get sign-offs from over my head; I consult my team; I do more math for the budget; I knuckle down and review applications.
      And I also sort out worst-case scenarios. What if I turn out to be wrong? Spent too much money? Well, actually, I’m within budget, so I don’t need to worry (I go get my business mgr to reassure me, sometimes). Don’t have enough people? I check to see if I can put someone on standby. Trying out somebody new? I get them in a few days earlier than the crunch period for training, or call another reference on them.

      Of course, sometimes I procrastinate because the thing I need to do is boring. Then I try to make it more interesting, or I do it first thing in the morning (I have more energy for boring stuff).
      Or I come up with a reward.

    1. Mike C.*

      Ugh, what in the hell. There are things that happen between consenting adults that NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT.

      1. Jennifer*

        I can say that I’ve seen that and…drum roll…it was at a work party…and they were my bosses. Married. Kid you not. They dressed up as their daughters, and everyone had to love it for the sake of the party which was hosted by them.

        1. Jennifer*

          I should also add, have you ever been inappropriately hugged and breathed upon by a drunk boss of the opposite sex who is wearing a pink baby costume of his daughter, while his wife is in the same room? He was the best boss ever.

    2. Exhasperated*

      Can somebody explain the thought process that people like this have that they actually truly believe this is a good idea?

      It is not ok. Haha

      1. Exhasperated*

        Wait – I’ve just read your comment. At work? As in in an office? Where they work together? In matching costumes?

        1. Jazzy Red*

          A few years ago at work, one of the guys dressed as one of the other guys. It was basic, but hilarious. (Other guy wore a white shirt and dark pants every day. He always had colored Sharpies and pens in a pocket protector, in a specific order. We used colored markers and pens in our work, so that wasn’t really too far off-the-wall.) First guy combed his hair just like second guy, and got a pair of thrift shop glasses like first guy’s. Second guy thought it was funny, too.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            At a FormerJob, there was one guy who had a daily costume like that, plus some distinctive mannerisms. For Halloween one year, several other people (I think including one woman) dressed as him. He was liked and it was a nice copy, not mean, so it went over very well.

            1. Lindsay J*

              When I was in drum corps, as part of our bonding time each rookie had to show a talent, and each section had to put on a skit. My section’s skit was that we all dressed up as and impersonated each other.

          2. Ashley*

            I dressed as my co-worker one year. I teased her all week that I was going to do it, but she didn’t believe me. She had a clothing schedule, where she wore skirts every Tuesday and Thursday, and had a fairly distinct style. I straightened my hair, wore a skirt and boots, and put on make-up for once! She and her brother-in-law both worked there, and as it turned out, another co-worker dressed as her brother-in-law that day too! No prior planning on our parts, but it turned out pretty hilarious.

          3. TootsNYC*

            We have a department head who has a certain uniform (dark pants, white oxford shirt, sleek hair). Her entire (large) department dressed as her today.

        2. Hush42*

          We have one married couple at our work place. They dressed up as Batman and Catwoman today which is technically matching costumes. It didn’t seem weird to me but we also had a costume contest (competing for an extra paid vacation day :) ) so I sit here writing this dressed as a Princess.

          1. Anna*

            I’m less offended by the matchiness of this and more concerned about the work appropriateness. I mean, the Batman costumes can get a little bit risqué (do you really need built in nipples), but Catwoman’s costume was always designed with sexiness first and practicality somewhere on the list, maybe 5th or 6th.

            1. Hush42*

              Her Catwoman costume was pretty work appropriate- especially considering how bad catwoman costumes can be. One of the rules for the contest was that the costumes had to be work appropriate and everyone adhered to the that rule pretty well.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      To cleanse your palate, there is a toddler here (she’s two and a half) dressed as the Notorious RBG (Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Lacy ruffle and all.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        I’m really sad I didn’t think to convince my 2 3/4 year old that she needed that costume (she wanted to be Superman. And she was VERY specific about that to anyone who dared call her Supergirl at the preschool party today. Heh).

  6. SweetTeapots*

    If planning on moving, how early should you start applying for positions in the new city, and do you address that you’re planning on moving in the cover letter, or if you’re applying from out of state is it assumed you’ll be local?

    1. Not Karen*

      Definitely address it and do so clearly. Lots of people will automatically discount you if your address is not local. Also, be clear whether your “planning” means “If you hire me, I’ll gladly move” or “I already bought a house so I’m moving regardless.”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      When you apply should depend on how long it’ll be until you move and also what industry you’re in or type of position you’re looking for. Some industries or some types of positions have decidedly longer hiring processes (almost a year). Others can hire within a few weeks or just a couple of months. So if you know you’re going to move in a year but are applying for the types of jobs that will hire within a couple of months, wait until a few months before you move.

      And, yes, definitely mention in your cover letter that you are definitely moving and exactly when.

    3. BRR*

      It is not assumed you’ll be local. Not Karen has a good point in defining planning. If it’s going to happen like following a spouse or being closer to family I would say something about how you’re excited to see to the posting because you’ll be moving to a new city [time frame].

    4. Sunflower*

      I would read everything Allison has wrote on moving/relocating for work. It would definitely depend on where you’re moving/industry. I’d think the more competition for jobs, the later you should apply. Use the cover letter to state when and why you’re moving- closer to family, husband transferred- basically use anything to show them you are 10000% definitely moving to New City. I would either use your new local address on your resume or just write ‘Relocating on XCity in Month 2015’ under address. This also depends on location.

      Also consider how start times work in your industry and if you could go to New City before moving to interview. If you can’t make it to New City basically until you move then I would only start applying maybe a month out.

      Also I’d mention in your cover letter that you don’t expect any relocation assistance- assuming you don’t.

    5. CrazyCatLady*

      I moved 2000 miles away, and started applying about 3 months out. I addressed in my cover letter that I’d be arriving on date X and if that fit in with their hiring timeline, I’d love to apply. I got quite a few responses, and 2 job offers before I moved.

    6. Regina 2*

      I’m curious how much of the time this works for people. Perhaps it depends on the location you’re moving to? I did this in moving to a very desirable location, and I barely got any calls, even when addressing that I was going to be moving soon. I had to just bite the bullet and make the move before anything ended up panning out.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’ve done cross-country job searches three times. Twice I used a recruitment firm and got the job through a hiring conference (yes, feels very meat-markety, but it can work well). Once I just applied and said my spouse is going to grad school (true—not making it up), so they knew I was serious about moving.

        I definitely got fewer phone screens and interviews when searching cross-country (instead of locally), but it can be done if you’re persistent.

      2. mander*

        Maybe the phrasing? In my case my husband is already working in New City, so we have a place there. I was spending most of my time in Old City so I explained in the cover letter that we are in the process of moving, I’m in Old City doing DIY work so I’d need a day’s notice to get to New City for an interview, but otherwise I have a place to stay and don’t need any relocation assistance, etc.

        Then again, in my field it’s almost a given that you will be working away from home at least sometimes, so they might have actually ignored that part.

    7. Devil's Avocado*

      I started applying 4 months before my move. I addressed it really head on in my cover letter. I left my address off my cover letter and resume, and just listed the city I was moving to. (Actually – as an aside I still don’t put my address on my cover letter or resume. It creeps me out than anyone tangentially related to a hiring process could access my home address that easily.)

      I had a few interviews, but didn’t end up getting a position until I moved. (I think it was more about fit than my physical location, though.) Truthfully, I found getting a job as a non-local candidate to not be nearly as difficult as I expected. (Anecdata!)

  7. Go or No Go?*

    How much importance do you give to acquaintance’s warnings about a place where you’re going to interview? I know someone who used to work at a place where I’m having a second interview next week, and she was miserable there. She left because someone with less seniority got promoted to be her manager. She didn’t say the manager was incompetent, though.

    I hear her warnings, but I also know that what turned her off may not be as bad for me, especially if I go in with open eyes. Adding to my concern is I am in a specialized field with a tough job market, so it’d be hard to turn it down if I did get an offer. What kind of questions can I ask to see if what she said is true? Should I let her warnings sway me about the feeling I get while I’m there?

    1. SweetTeapots*

      I don’t think promotions should be seniority based, so her resentment seems misguided. How does her opinion compare to reviews on Glassdoor?

    2. A*

      Is she generally a reasonable person? Would you trust her judgement if she was warning you against shopping at a certain store or eating at a particular restaurant? I would just keep my eyes open unless you have reason to suspect she is particularly difficult to please.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I think a lot of it depends on how close I am to that acquaintance and how much I trust her opinions on things in general. If the only reason she left was having someone with less seniority get promoted over her, then that isn’t enough of a red flag to not apply to the position (or even take the job).

    4. Sunflower*

      I would go to acquaintance and ask other questions about the company- other stuff you care about or what can give you better insight. If she just seems bitter and angry at everything and has vague answers, that’ a sign to not put too much weight into what she says. If she has legit reasons for being miserable and can give specific incidents of bad behavior from the company, then maybe trust her a bit more.

    5. RR*

      Is the concern about the overall organization/its environment/etc? Or more particular to that one manager? Would you be working on the same team? I love my current job, and have a great manager, but there are other teams I wouldn’t want to be on. Important to note that the overall culture here is good. I’ve been at other places where even a great manager can’t save things…

    6. Not So NewReader*

      If that is the only thing that happened, I can’t really believe that she was forced out of the job. It’s hard to tell though.

      Yes, I would go with what you know about this person. Have you heeded her advice before and landed in a good spot? Or has her advice been off the mark? Does she seem to have a lot of bad jobs with bad situations?

      Do you know anyone else who used to work there and can you talk to them? Is there a general feeling about the company in your local area, where most people would nod and say “oh that is good/bad company”?

      Will you be in the same department she was? What else went on? (Don’t answer here, of course.) But most people can work through a situation where they do not agree with the hiring choice of a manager. Just because the manager had less seniority does not mean she had less experience, lacked management skills or was an evil person.

      OTH, do you think you could do this for a while and look for something else in the longer run?

    7. Observer*

      I’d say to look at what else you know about your friend when evaluating what she says. In this case, the fact that she left over the fact that someone with less seniority was promoted over her raises some red flags as to her judgement of what constitutes a good workplace.

  8. Poppy*

    Random experience yesterday! I have two remote employees in another office, whom I visit around once a month. This visit, I got called into the AVP’s office at the remote location and told that if there are any unexplained absences among my team, I need to keep him informed. One of my guys had been out for a week in hospital, which I, my boss and my entire team was aware of. Apparently this AVP though he should be made aware also, despite there being no reporting relationship there, matrix or otherwise. I don’t feel what my employees do with their PTOs is any of his business, and could I get in trouble for sharing health related issues with someone not on the team? I kind of politely listened to the AVP, and then told the team they could keep him in the loop or not, as they prefer. Thoughts on my handling of this?

    1. Adam V*

      Since an “unexplained absence” sounds to me like a “no call/no show”, I would just tell him “my employees have had no *unexplained* absences”.

      And then get your boss to go tell this guy “hey, you don’t need to be concerning yourself with the PTO usage of every employee. They’re telling their boss, and their boss tells me if there’s an issue, and I’ll tell you if it’s an issue.”

    2. MK*

      Eh, I don’t think you are right about this. To begin with, no, you can’t get into trouble for sharing any health-related issue; in any case, this person didn’t ask for detailed information about anyone’s health, or even the reason for your employee not being there, simply to be informed about the absence. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the people in charge of the remote location to want to be informed about who is expected to be there or not. That way, if someone calls or visits wanting to speak to your employee, they won’t spend half an hour trying to locate them, only to find out they are out of the office this week. Or, if the building catches fire, they can tell the fire brigade f everyone got out or not.

      1. Poppy*

        I hear you, but in all of those instances the other team member could have explained where the first one was? And indeed did, to everyone else that asked.

        1. MK*

          Which means they had to go find the othrr team member and ask. And if that person happened to be out of the office too? Is it really such an imposition for your employees to send a “I won’t be in the office on this date” e-mail. I would save the push back for when/if the SVP starts to actually meddle in your team.

          1. Observer*

            Except that the guy IS actually meddling. There is no reporting relationship, and it’s generally not the job of an AVP to keep track of who is going to physically be in the office. So, unless this staff is expected to do work directly for the AVP, there seems to be some real over-reach here.

            1. MK*

              I disagree that simply wanting to know if the OP’s employees are going to be there or not qualifies as meddling. As for whether it’s this person’s job to know or not, that depends, maybe they are just overbearing. But in general, I think a person who is (in some way or capacity) in charge of a location is not unreasonable in wanting to know who is physically there, even if they don’t report to them.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Not only is the AVP being a micromanager (if there are attendance or productivity issues, they should be more explicit about that), what bugs me the most is that it sounds like they circumvented your boss! I know it’s just a feeling, but that screams “power trip” to me.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Just had a very similar conversation come up in a board meeting. The concern was having enough people to cover the work. The way it was expressed is, “Did anyone know that Bob took two weeks vacation last month?” No, no one knew. It’s a very small org so it should be known. With Bob gone that put the whole weight on to Bob’s two subordinates. It was felt that we as board members should be aware so we can find solutions if more coverage is needed. For example, if one of the two remaining people gets sick, needs personal time, etc.

      Your employees are set up to fail here. Big Boss said to report absences. And you told them “if you feel like it”. Someone is going to get their wrists slapped in the future.
      I agree, in telling the big boss that they all report their absences to you and you are satisfied that their reports are accurate. Then ask him what his concern is. He might be worried about having enough people on the job.
      I do agree that you should be the hub. Everyone tells you then you tell the boss if he has any specific questions.

      1. Poppy*

        If there were a hard and fast rule about reporting all PTO usage, I would absolutely comply with that, and insist my team did so too, for all the reasons you state. But there isn’t (at least, he didn’t mention one). It all seemed weirdly specific about the fact the guy was in the hospital. The two week vacation the other guys took, for example, wasn’t mentioned at all. Also, my team don’t work for him, in any capacity, so coverage is not his problem.

      2. Anna*

        The only way this is comparable is if the OPs situation put anyone in a tight spot. But it didn’t because her off-site employee does not report or interact with the AVP. There is no relationship there other than they are in the same physical location. So AVP has no reason to know who on OPs team is coming and going for what reasons or for how long.

        1. TootsNYC*

          It’s also not comparable, because it’s not a situation in which “no one knew.” The people whose work interacted with his (the OP, her boss, and the direct colleague) knew.

      3. The IT Manager*

        Your employees are set up to fail here.

        Yes. Either your employees or you. Pretending to agree and not planning to follow through is very passive and will probably result in a repeat of this conversation. If this guy doesn’t need to know, tell him and tell him to talk to your SVP if he has a problem with the answer. Just don’t pretend to agree and then plan to not do it.

    5. Judy*

      Is there some sort of customer relationship between your team and the AVP’s team?

      Maybe they were requesting to be notified of coverage plans if someone was out.

      1. Poppy*

        No, none. He literally has no idea what they do all day, my boss doesn’t report to him either. Coverage plans are entirely at the discretion of myself and my boss.

    6. BuildMeUp*

      Does the AVP ever contact this employee directly as part of a project or something? It would make sense if, say, they had emailed the person on Monday and not gotten a response for a week. If not, I’m not sure why they need the update.

      But… they do think they need it. I would check in with your boss about the request, but otherwise I would go ahead and send the AVP a quick email in the event of an absence – no details, just “Beverly will be out from November 12th to 15th.”

      1. BuildMeUp*

        I missed your comment about the lack of relationship! Ok, it’s a weird request, then, but honestly, if you can get away with just giving them basic info about an absence, I feel like it’s better to just keep them in the loop.

        Did the AVP mean “unplanned/unexpected” instead of “unexplained”?

        1. TootsNYC*

          If the AVP is in that remote office, I can imagine that he thinks of himself as “the senior representative of the company in this location” and feels that he needs to know the gist of what’s going on, big-picture-wise.

    7. Num Lock*

      I don’t think the AVP needs to know any PII, but I think it’s nice to at least say, “Bob will be out until X day, FYI.” If you want to leave that up to the team, I think that’s fine too, as long as some info is passed. We’ve got people working for different companies in our offices and sometimes people call our (separate) line or walk in asking for them. If that person is out for an extended period of time, it’s nice to be able to pass that along to the client so they’re not constantly coming back or calling and disturbing us. Plus Bob is someone they presumably see passing through the halls, in the breakroom, outside the bathroom, etc. He may not be close enough with any of them there to share personal information, but I’d wonder if someone didn’t show for a week. Personally, I’d start worrying that something bad happened to Bob if I hadn’t heard about a vacation or conference or sick leave. Presumably you’d notice if Bob stopped communicating for a week, but if you’re out too or in conferences… it could be a few days.

      …Or perhaps the AVP found out from their subordinates that Bob was “missing” and was a bit miffed that they weren’t informed. Even though Bob doesn’t work for AVP, there might be a bit of “territorialness” there.

      The assumption that Bob was AWOL is unnecessary, though. That is NONE of the AVP’s business–I agree with you there. A simple, “out until X date,” is sufficient.

      1. Num Lock*

        *And by “in our offices” I mean folks working for outside employers or parts of my company outside our chain who share the same office areas, phone system, building entrance, etc. Basically they’re renting out offices and some services from us, so to a client it may seem like they are more connected to us than they are.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Yeah. Honestly I was wondering about one of the security guards the other day that clears me through a certain gate. I didn’t see him for a few days and thought maybe he was on vacation or had switched his days off or something. But when a few days stretched into like 3 weeks I began to wonder if he had been fired or if something bad happened to him or what. I wound up asking, and it turned out that he had switched with another employee to work day shifts at a different location while she took his night shifts.

        The AVP might feel like it’s his responsibility to know who is in the building in case there is an emergency or anything like that where having an accurate head count is important.

        Or he might want to know because he could be afraid of something bad happening. There have been points in my life (mostly when I was depressed and single) where the only clue that I had been in a bad accident on the way to work or if I had gotten injured or sick or otherwise immobilized at home would be that I didn’t show up to work on time. Maybe AVP knows someone who was in that situation and so is especially conscious of noticing if people show up to work or not. And, like Num Lock said, presumably you would notice Bob not communicating, but maybe you don’t hear from Bob daily because he’s self sufficient, or maybe you are on vacation etc the same time Bob disappears.

        1. Lindsay J*

          I just don’t think it’s a big deal to say, “Hey, Bob is out on sick leave until Wednesday.” (Or even just, “Bob will be out until Wednesday.”)

          If AVP starts meddling past that (making comments about your employees being absent too much, requiring justification for absences, etc) then I would see it as an issue. But just wanting to know if they’re expected to be in or out is not a big deal IMO.

  9. Gene*

    Salary/compensation secrecy, can anyone defend it, other than, “That’s the way we’ve always done it!”

    1. Mt*

      It is no one’s business other mine and my managers what I make. Do my co workers deserve to know every one of my job responsibilities? Do my co workers deserve to know how much i cost the insurance company that we all pay into? Do my co workers deserve to know what i put on my expense reports?

      1. LCL*

        I would argue the responsibilities and expense items, they should be able to find out if they ask. The second point, personal medical, of course not.

      2. Adam V*

        > Do my co workers deserve to know every one of my job responsibilities?

        Um, yes? So they know “oh, I have a question about X, I go to Mt for that” ?

        The others you listed – sure, that’s personal. But those also aren’t what’s being asked.

        If I make a policy that says “all senior engineers make X”, and you’re a senior engineer, I know you make X. I don’t have any idea what you’re spending that money on, and that part isn’t my business. But I don’t see why that means the company shouldn’t be able to make salaries public.

      3. Mike C.*

        When others are being denied proper compensation due to a protected status and are protected by secrecy, that hurts everyone.

      4. MK*

        Yes to all, expect the insurance. If your compansation is analogous to your responsibilities, the information being public won’t harm you at all. The right to privacy doesn’t mean everything about you must be shrouded in secrecy unless you say otherwise, just that there should be some confidentiality about sensitive information (like the insurance).

        That being said, I am not advocating putting the data online; but it should be accessible to people who have a vested interest, especially when it comes to proving a law suit.

      5. Anonymous Educator*

        In a generally secret environment, revealing one employee’s compensation is definitely not cool. But having a generally non-secret environment benefits everyone.

      6. BRR*

        I’m not quite sure I understand your reasoning for lumping those all together, can you elaborate on responsibilities? I think it is everyone’s business to know who does what.

      7. The IT Manager*

        You don’t explain why lary should be private info. I think you think it should be private because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

    2. SweetTeapots*

      Planet money just had a podcast about this last week, it’s worth the listen and theirs are generally short, ~20 minutes.

        1. SweetTeapots*

          Well the first segment featured a Scottish (I think) repair shop that decided to make salaries public and one guy was really upset that he was making $10k less than everyone. Some people left, and ultimately one guy that was making way more gave up a partial amount of his salary to bring the lowest guy’s closer, and everyone felt better in the end.

          The second segment was a US based company that decided to publicize salaries that was working really well for them. They included a guy who started taking over a coworker’s role after he left, essentially holding two positions, and when he looked up with the previous employer was making, he argued he should be making closer to that. They gave him that raise-not to the full salary due to inexperience, etc, but it enabled him to be able to argue. Seemed to work well for that company.

    3. BenAdminGeek*

      If you don’t have an open environment at work on other things, being open on salary isn’t going to make things better. I think it would have to be part of an overall transparent policy about most things, and an office that’s already working well together. I don’t think you can just plop a spreadsheet on the server for folks to peruse if you’ve got existing issues.

    4. John*

      In cases where I’ve known what others around me are getting paid, it’s been demoralizing, even if it’s less. I’ll see someone who seems to be contributing a fraction of what I am, and I’ll think, “Is all the extra work and responsibility really worth the $x,000 difference???”

      For me, it would foster a lot of resentment and, I think, focus me too heavily on what others are making.

      1. Mike C.*

        The problem here seems to be that there isn’t effective management, not that they’re being paid well.

      2. CMT*

        But transparency is how those people would know to push for a better salary. And they’d have the information to back themselves up. Keeping everything a secret just perpetuates the problem.

      3. cuppa*

        In my world, both seniority and performance factor into your salary. I’ve had situations where a lower-performing person at the same level as a high performer was making more than the high-performer because she had been there a year longer. I didn’t think it was fair or right, but it wasn’t my decision. I’m glad they didn’t know about it.

      4. Manders*

        I saw the salary of someone I work with (for legitimate reasons, I wasn’t snooping). I knew it was higher than mine, but I hadn’t realized how very much higher it was. It was a good reminder that I would never make as much as him because I didn’t have the negotiating power he did: he was the boss’s son, and controlled a really important aspect of the business, which I could have done but he didn’t want to train anyone else to do it.

        I stuck around for a while after that, but when I wanted a promotion and a higher salary, I knew I’d have to move out of the company to get it. Today is my last day, actually.

        I wouldn’t say I was resentful, but it did help me to keep a clear head about the situation; my boss talked a lot about how he was giving me the same things he gave his kids, and I knew it wasn’t true, but it helped to be able to compare numbers. If I had thought we were being treated equally and then been repeatedly passed up for promotions and plum assignments, I would have been much more resentful.

      5. ThursdaysGeek*

        When I knew that the guy who was hired before me was making a bit more, it made sense, and I was ok with it. We did the same work, were at the same level. When management changed, and he suddenly was making $6K more, we all knew there was a problem (because our work responsibilities had not changed), and it was time for us to find another job. Me, because they were paying me less because I was female (there were other signs besides pay); him, because he didn’t want to work for a company that would do that to me.

        Knowing the pay made us aware of problems and gave us the power to do something about them.

    5. Lore*

      I’m on the fence–I see the virtues of transparency for sure, but then you also get situations like my current company, which has been formed from a series of internal and external mergers to the point where almost everyone works in a group that contains members of formerly entirely separate divisions and/or companies. In the division I started in, the head made it a priority to try to max out merit raises to the best of her abilities (which didn’t mean a substantive raise every year, necessarily), but we never got bonuses. In my current division, raises are much more tightly controlled (we get them, but the percentage range is much narrower, but I’ve gotten at least a token bonus almost every year. But they didn’t cut base salaries when the merger happened–which means I’m getting paid substantially more than some of my colleagues doing equivalent work at an equivalent level, who happened to take a different path to this current spot. Maybe the PTB are giving them larger bonuses every year, but I think it still wouldn’t make up the difference. I can’t see how having that information be shared does anything but breed resentment.

      Though I am 100 percent for transparency for starting salaries, including in job posts, and average salary ranges for different positions, and even, say, the maximum salary ever earned by anyone in that position. I’m just not sure that info needs to be tied to which specific employee makes which salary.

      1. Judy*

        I was once in a similar position.

        The company I worked for generally gave very generous bonus payouts (20% of salary * personal performance * company performance). That company bought another company in the industry that only gave bonuses on really good years, but had similar “total compensation”. So after the merger, some of us were making X with possibility of 20% bonus and some were making 1.2*X with possibility of 20% bonus.

        I’d assume the resentment is already there, based on my past history. We pretty much knew and resented those who were making that much more than us.

        1. Lore*

          That’s a good point, although I’m not sure how aware people are–I only know the difference because it was a sharp change for me.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes, how else can we keep underpaying people who will stand for it if we don’t keep salaries secret?? /s

      I think the only reason for secrecy is so that companies can underpay people. Lots of local and state agencies publish salary information, and those workplaces don’t implode as a result.

    7. Ann O'Nemity*

      For the same reason I don’t like the idea of no-haggle pricing for car buying. Lack of transparency in pricing [or salaries] can actually benefit people who are good at negotiating.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        But the problem is (and I’m not making a comment about you in particular, to be clear) is that generally speaking white dudes tend to be “better at negotiating” with the current power structure. Funny how that works out.

        FWIW, salary has been common knowledge everywhere I’ve worked, and it hasn’t caused any problems for me.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree. Any place that used this transparency had it in place when I started. I did not see a place transition from secrecy to transparency. I would think that transition would be a little rough. But I bet people have written articles/books about the process of changing over.

          I do favor transparency. If there is nothing wrong with what they are doing then it should not be a problem for the company.

          The only drawback I saw was that people understood that everyone was wildly underpaid for what was expected. My personal belief is that secrecy causes way too many problems with people speculating/gossiping/complaining. Too much time is spend wondering and discussing what others are paid. It just seems to add negativity to a work place. In one place all of us peons had our salaries posted. Upper management did not. It was estimated that the CEO was making 50 times what the lowest paid person was making. People would stand around and discuss this at length. What a waste of time and energy.

        2. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, there were a few studies done IIRC in which white men got a better price offer before haggling than, say, black women did after haggling, even when they were dressed essentially the same, the same age, and had the same details for their cover story (available funds, job, etc.). It’s not even that the white guy is better at haggling–bias (conscious or unconscious) got him so much of a better starting point that he’d come out ahead even if he didn’t haggle at all. His ‘haggling’ could amount to “sure I’ll take it” and he’d get a better deal than the black woman did after hours of hard work at the bargaining table.

          (There was a whole hierarchy, although I don’t remember where each person fell, where they tried white women, black women, black men, etc. Some did better than others, but the white men always got the best deals, and often they got offered a better deal before haggling than other demographic groups got after haggling. It’s fascinating, in an upsetting kind of way, and very telling of what a level playing field it isn’t.)

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Er, to be clear, the study I’m referencing was about car buying specifically, although I’m guessing it also extends to other negotiation situations to some extent…. like salary.

      2. Anna*

        But it works both ways. Why should it benefit one group over another when making it transparent (or no haggle) is actually more beneficial to everyone?

    8. BRR*

      In general, I think there are a lot of pluses.

      But since you asked about defending it, I don’t want everyone to know how much I make. I’m not sure why I care so much but I do. Maybe because we equate salary with success and importance.

      1. Anna*

        I think this is a function of culture and not necessarily because we inherently don’t want to share it. Our culture has strictures about what should and shouldn’t be discussed in polite company and on that list is money. Everyone knows that you shouldn’t talk about politics, religion, or money. If we weren’t so afraid of talking about it, it’s possible we’d have an easier time addressing inequality.

        1. The IT Manager*

          But really, people/Americans do talk about money and how much they paid for X all the time. I don’t think anyone really thinks that’s impolite anymore. Somehow salary ended up being considered impolite and it’s a boon for companies to “win” at negotiating since they have so much more info than the employee.

          1. The IT Manager*

            But also, some of the commenters here have basically said that they conflate their self-worth/value with their salary and want to keep it secret because of that and fear of comparison to others and what a comparison might mean.

    9. Rat in the Sugar*

      I personally work in a position where I could see my coworker’s salaries if I wanted to; I’ve never looked. Part of it is just that I know I’m entry-level and am therefor sure to make less than everyone; I don’t really want to know because I think it would make me unhappy.
      In general, do I think they should be accessible? Yes. I think part of what makes me (and others) unhappy about seeing other people’s salaries is when you think someone is getting something that they don’t deserve, but that’s an issue of management not paying people properly, which is something that this kind of transparency could help to fix.

    10. Creag an Tuire*

      I suppose to Devil’s Advocate on my own point, the reason salaries have been public at all of my jobs is because they were collectively bargained — which if done right should remove a lot of the resentment/confusion about why people make what they do. (Or at least transfers it into something productive, i.e. revising a problem in the next bargaining.)

      I suppose if a company just publicized pay without publicizing -why- people were paid differently (and there wasn’t a legally actionable pattern of discrimination), it could make resentment and gossip worse and not better. (“Wakeen does the same job and gets $10000 more? What’ve I gotta do to make that kind of money?”)

      Of course, I think the answer to that problem should be even more transparency, but I can see why some companies would be nervous about this (for reasons other than “we’re trying to get away with something”).

      1. Mike C.*

        The thing for me is that when I see people making more money, I actually go to my management and say, “what skills/development/actions do you need to see from me so I can get promoted”? And it’s really, really working well for me. They’re sitting down with me, going over the various job grades and my resume and current work and looking at what I’m missing, and where I can develop those skills.

        It’s not jealousy I feel when I see those higher pay grades, it’s potential. Seeing sports cars in the parking lot is a good thing.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          I broadly agree with you — I just trying to answer OP’s question in that salary transparency could be a negative if the answer to “what skills/development/actions do you need to see from me so I can get a raise” is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (But even in that case keeping salaries hidden shouldn’t be used as a cover for general bad management.)

    11. IrishGirl*

      I just don’t think it’s anyone else’s business what I’m getting paid, the same way I don’t think my medical details are anyone else’s concern.

      And I say this as someone finishing university this year and not loving the thought of negotiating salary, I’m fairly reserved and it’s not something I’ll ever find easy.

      1. Mike C.*

        What makes you feel more uncomfortable – a culture where salaries are generally known or a culture where women make significantly less than their male counterparts?

        I mean heck, a great deal of ground can be made up when a company can say that particular jobs at particular grades make X +/-Y per year. You don’t have to put down what you make to the penny – most of the times it’s good enough that folks of similar experience and performance are within similar ranges.

    12. NorCalHR*

      Not a defense…that said, I work for a non-profit organization. We publish the pay range (minimum and maximum) for broad categories of employees. For example all administrative personnel make between $XX,XXX and $YZ,XXX. Within this range, various specialized groups are assigned their own range. Receptionists are $XX,XXX to SXY,XXX; Customer Service groups are $XX,XXX to $YX,XXX; and so on.

      We don’t attach salary ranges to specific position titles or people, except for the 5 highest-paid employees, and the identities of the four non-officer employees in that group are masked.

      Despite a great deal of managerial angst about publishing pay ranges, exactly 3 employees came to ask what the range was for their particular position. One griped because she was already near the top, one was delighted to discover how much potential salary growth she had, and one said “Oh, OK, thanks!” as she left my office. In my experience, publishing the ranges is helpful, protects privacy, and staves off some of the individual depression noted by other commentators. And of course, YMMV.

        1. Windchime*

          My previous company wouldn’t even give me the salary range for my own position. I asked over and over again and my boss would say that he would find out, and then…..nothing. I finally called HR to see if they would give me the range, and they said that I had to go through my boss for that. So I didn’t even know where I was in the range of my own job category.

          New job is much more transparent on things like ranges. I still don’t know what others make, but I’m OK with that because I’m happy with my salary. (Would I be as happy if I knew that male coworkers were all making more than me? Probably not.)

    13. BB_NYC*

      I have always heard – it’s nobody else’s business. But in practice, I’ve only seen it as a tool that masks unfairness (whether intentional or not).

      I work in US nonprofit sector, where senior staff salaries are reported in tax returns, which are publicly available on the internet. I do a fair amount of hiring and this year I started putting the salary range in my ads/postings and I have had an enormous improvement of the quality of the candidates.

      I have also applied collective bargaining thinking to positions where a lot of people work in the same role to ensure they are all paid the same amount, so they all know what everyone else is making. Before I was here, there were so many rates of pay among those, and their manager couldn’t justify the differences.

      I have had nothing but positive feedback by being public and forthcoming about salaries.

    14. TootsNYC*

      From a manager’s point of view: If I want to manage my budget by scaling down what I pay, I don’t want to worry that the new person finds out she’s earning a lot less and gets mad.

      If someone great comes along and I go up in price to get them, I don’t want the middle-of-the-roader who was the best choice last time I was hiring to get upset that they didn’t get as much money.

      From a “fellow employee” point of view, I don’t want to deal with colleagues’ deciding they’re mad because I earn more, or my subordinate deciding she doesn’t need to pay as much attention because she earns almost as much as I do.

      Of course, there’s tremendous value in knowing what “the going rate” is, or what other people are earning (great performers and middle-of-the-roaders and crummy people).

      So I’m not a fan of secrecy. But I do like discretion.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Oh, and I really don’t want my *relatives* to know how much income I have. That opens the door for way too much covetousness and judgment.

      2. Caro*

        Many years ago, I taught in a very small rural school. Starting salaries were $9,000. I had a master’s degree. Those salaries started at $11,000. Extra years of experience raised the base salary a few hundred. An extra that required out-of-regular-schedule time (yearbook,fro example) offered about$200-$300 stipend.

        Then they hired a coach – fresh out of college – first year teaching- for $16,000.
        Poor man – we were all so angry that we wouldn’t even talk to him. He was socially ostracized. About a third of the staff left the following year.

  10. I am now a llama*

    Another question! A recruiter emailed me from a company I’m familiar with. We’ve hired about 15 people from that company and they have hired some from ours.

    I’m interested in having a conversation but want to make sure I’m discrete. I don’t want to run into the people that currently work there that used to be here or those that are interviewing at my current company.

    Any advice on staying discrete during the job hunt?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Discreet :)

      I would just let them know you’re interested in talking and concerned about keeping interactions private due to all the the cross pollination between the companies. That sounds pretty normal.

    2. Christy*

      Tiny PSA: discrete means separate, discreet means on the down low.

      I would email, and perhaps have a phone conversation, and possibly meet off-site. I’d mention your concerns to their recruiter; I feel like they should accommodate you.

      1. Not me*

        (Memorization tip because I love this kind of thing: In “discrete,” meaning separate or distinct, the T separates the two Es.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I love these tips, also. Nice to get it right each time, every time. All that is left is to watch what my fingers are doing on the keyboard.

        1. TootsNYC*

          meaning, you’ll want your interactions with them to be discreet and discrete (separated from other interactions)

    3. KathyGeiss*

      Good advice already given. If you get to the interview stage, I’d specifically ask if it can be held off site to avoid people seeing you there and assuming things.

  11. Ann O'Nemity*

    I should be happy, right?

    I manager Area A at work. A year ago, I was asked to manage Area B temporarily after some staffing changes. I wasn’t happy about it, since I have little expertise in Area B. Well, we have finally hired someone to manage Area B. The new person will not report to me and I’ll be out of Area B completely after the transition. Now can focus on Area A, which has frankly suffered a bit since I took over Area B. So why am I dreading this change and feel like I’m losing something?

    1. Winter is Coming*

      Perhaps you have begun to feel some ownership over Area B after experiencing some success there?

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      To answer your initial question, there is no “should be” when it comes to feelings. Whatever you feel is okay, even if it’s not what’s expected.

      Maybe there’s part of you that’s disappointed with how it ended up–I know if it were me I’d have this unrealistic expectation that I “should have been able to do both without either part suffering.”

      When it comes to feelings, I’d suggest finding a trusted listener who will just sit there nonjudgmentally while you talk it out.

      Good luck!

    3. Pipette*

      But you *will* lose something! You have invested a significant amount of time and energy into Area B, and have felt the consequences of any success or failure there, so it’s not so strange to feel like you care for it in some peculiar way. And maybe you had some long term plans for B that you will never see come to fruition now and so on.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s like you have to give the puppy back, no, you can’t keep him. ugh, ugh.

      There was a compliment buried in all that. They felt that you were up for the challenge of B, even though you did not. And then you made it work out okay, anyway. Now you have to go back. “Hey, what was all that? Did I do something here or no?” It’s tough with temporary positions because you have to switch gears when they change you back. You go home and find your furniture has been moved to another apartment. wth. The shifting of the gears in our brains can be a bit mind-bending.
      I think the feeling of dread and loss are pretty normal. Look around and if you do not see a specific reason to be concerned, then perhaps it is just a form of grief/sadness. There is an energy rush when something is new/unknown. This could be the downside of the earlier energy rush.

    5. Ann O'Nemity*

      All good points above.

      I guess it’s confusing because if you asked me if I wanted to manage Area B, my answer would be no. It’s not really my passion or even aligned with my career goals. But I’m just not feeling the sense of relief that I expected to feel!

  12. bassclefchick*

    This summer I posted about a job that seemed perfect. I matched all the qualifications and was very excited to get the call for an interview. For some reason, the interview fell through and they cancelled it. All of you here assured me nothing weird was going on and this stuff happens. So, I took a deep breath and mentally moved on.

    A couple of months ago, a former coworker got hired there and encouraged me to apply again, so I did. Couldn’t hurt, right? She ended up telling me they were on a hiring freeze until November, so I applied and got the standard email reply stating my application was received. OK, I can live with that.

    Yesterday, they called me for a phone screen! Yay! Unfortunately, they’re only hiring for a limited term of 6 months with no guarantee of being hired. I told them I’ve been a contractor for almost 5 years and I really can’t accept anything less than a permanent position. She said she totally understood and continued with the phone screen! Overall a very positive experience and she said they would keep my info on file in case they start hiring permanently again.

    Thanks for all the encouragement everyone! It really helps. And, for those of you following from last week, I have a HUGE interview for a job with my city next week…so I’m kind of hoping I’ll get that position. Fingers crossed on that one!

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Nooooooooooooooo. But my sister’s did. She works at National Geographic, so there is always something cool (often involving animals) going on over there. Jealous.

      1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

        My sister got them booked, but didn’t have a private room to take the kittens into.

    2. Tris Prior*

      We completely missed that there were Uber kittens, until the end of the day. Bummer, because my boss totally would’ve gotten us some.

  13. Oh no not again*

    Oooo, time to complain! Loud coworker, PLEASE go back to your desk and do some work! You are a distraction! Aaarrgghhh!

    1. Nikki T*

      Mine did go back to her desk. She got moved to a different floor but she’s up here each morning…talking very loudly. It’s so quiet without her and very jarring when she bursts in with such a commotion.

      1. Windchime*

        Our room is thankfully mostly peaceful, except we recently had a person move into our area who SCREAMS with laughter whenever someone says something funny. It’s a big room and I’m more than 50 ft away from her I’m sure, but when she laughs it just this screaming, loud burst of laughter that is totally out of place in a room where people are quietly working away. Nobody minds quiet conversation and laughter, but when everything is LOUD and HYSTERICAL it really wears me out. Shut up.

    2. Coffee*

      We have a whistler/hummer/sing-along-to-the-music-in-their-headphones-er here. It’s incredibly annoying and distracting. And sadly, asking them to refrain has not worked.

      1. Gene*

        I’m a concentration whistler. I’m aware of it and try to control it at work, but if I’m deep in concentration, I don’t know I’m doing it. My wife uses it as a mechanism to know when she shouldn’t disturb me. While at Mom’s working on a policy she said, “What’s that whistling?”

        Sadly, I don’t whistle tunes, just mindless, quiet whistling.

  14. Shishimai*

    Today, the company is having a Halloween costume contest. We made it almost an hour before somebody made a terrible miscalculation about what someone’s costume is and went some not so work-appropriate places. And it’s a totally innocent costume! Fortunately, the wearer is a pretty vocal person and corrected the assumption.

    I love the costumes people wear (it’s desk work and we’re not customer facing, so people get pretty creative) but.. even the most innocent things seem to be prone to misinterpretation.

    1. Jennifer*

      No contest this year, but there’s a giant BBQ for the new building we’re in.

      I like dressing up, but I get annoyed at how very few people dress up (maybe 1-3 people) and well… I know that makes me look like a big ol’ freak. So I walked to work in a full length trench coat, hah. But screw it, I don’t want to miss out on the one day a year I can do something silly legitimately either.

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      Same here!!! We have some pretty cute outfits, but nothing open to misinterpretation or even inappropriate.. all very nice! I kind of wish now that I’d dressed up!

    3. Anna*

      That’s annoying. And good on your coworker for correcting. But what’s wrong with the person who assumed what the costume was? Don’t they know better to keep an inappropriate assumption to themselves and just ask if they’re not sure? Ugh. Or even if they are sure and want to be a jerk! Double ugh.

  15. Cruciatus*

    Thanks, everyone, for costume guidance from last week. I’m wearing a tie dye shirt and I bought a cheap “hippie kit” that had glasses, peace earrings and necklace and a headpiece. I fit in just as well as my coworkers do (except for one who had an authentic ’60s two-piece outfit!) Though now they are talking about dressing up at Christmas… What in the hell?! …

      1. Cruciatus*

        They were talking about being elves and, no. Just no. I’d be totally willing to wear some antlers though.

        1. Elizabeth*

          GroupOn has some Ugly Christmas Sweatshirts that really fit the bill. I’m threatening to buy one for my husband if his office does its usual 5-years-behind-the-trend timewarp for their Christmas party.

        2. Nanc*

          I have the cutest flannel elf ears hat! It’s a red and green striped tassel hat with elf ears sewn on. I actually wear it quite a bit in the winter. I wouldn’t wear a whole elf costume but I’m all about the hat!

    1. Jennifer*

      The hilarious thing is that I pretty much dress like a hippie year-round.

      Dressing up for Christmas = ugly sweater party. My volunteer job is going to have one and I am so psyched because I made my own, hah.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I’m OK with the ugly sweater thing, which they did mention…as a separate event to dressing up!

      1. Ordinary World*

        Huh. Sounds like you might have wandered into all-festivities-all-the-time! office. ;)

        Which is my worst nightmare, so here’s to hoping it’s not yours.

        1. mander*

          Gaaah, mine too! I don’t care so much about other people dressing up, but it’s so often a form of “enforced fun” and people make you feel bad if you don’t want to participate or don’t have the knack for coming up with good costume ideas.

      2. Anna*

        No. Either you do an ugly Christmas sweater thing on a specific day or you dress up or you don’t do anything. If *I* want to wear antlers on another day in addition to dressing up, that’s cool, but it shouldn’t be that everyone does it both times (or even one time but one or the other would be a little bit of fun).

  16. Winter is Coming*

    Had to block a co-worker on Twitter earlier this week for making (borderline?) inappropriate comments. I felt kind of bad doing it, but it was getting weird. Glad I did it though…I hadn’t realized I was started to feel anxiety whenever I heard the notification from Twitter, and that’s not good. I feel relieved now.

    1. These are the droids*

      good for you! Better to take care of yourself. If it moves to other areas or media though, it might be time to start saving copies and mentioning it to your manager

      1. Winter is Coming*

        I definitely will. My FB account is locked down pretty tight, and that’s the only other place I could be found. I think it’s just a matter of him not understanding proper work boundaries, and use of social media.

        1. Scotty_Smalls*

          One of my clients saw me show up on her “people you may know” section of FB. I thought I had all my settings to private. Any idea how I can avoid that happening with others?

          1. Winter is Coming*

            None that I know of. I wonder if you have friends in common? Usually that’s the only way people will show up there.

          2. Forget T-Bone Steak, Let's Eat T-Rex Steak*

            If Facebook detects the two of you logging in frequently at the same location, it will assume you know each other.

            1. Scotty_Smalls*

              That would definitely do it. We most likely know at least one person in common. I don’t usually log on to FB but I do use it when on a break.

          3. Lindsay J*

            If you both have your phone numbers associated with your Facebook account, and you’re in each other’s phone contacts it will show you I think. (At least I’m pretty sure that’s why it shows me my mom and my ex-roommate on there). Taking your phone number out of your FB account might stop it?

  17. Nervous Person*

    I’m having a bit of an issue. It’s more health related but it happens at work so… And if this is too gross/inappropriate, please delete!!

    We have 2 stalls. One stall has been out of order for about 3 weeks now. That leaves 1 stall. Not a big issue, except there have been times when I was using the bathroom for a longer duration and someone came in, waited, got tired of waiting and left.

    Knowing that someone is waiting and can hear or smell, makes me super nervous and anxious. As a result, I hold off on going or cut it short and it’s affecting me now.

    On the other side, I’ll go in and someone is using it, not a big deal except I”m not sure how long they’ll take. I could walk back to my desk and go later bc it’s not SUPER urgent, BUT I walk right past my boss’s boss’s office so I’m self conscious that walking back and forth looks too excessive.

    Am I overthinking? Maybe I’ve read too much horror stories or it’s my own insecurities but I get paranoid/scared that someone will complain that I spend too much time in the bathroom and it’ll be an *issue*.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      I think you’re overthinking it (which I mean in a reassuring way, not to add to the anxiety).

      And you’re not the only one with this mindset!

      It’s there a bathroom on a different floor you could use?

      1. katamia*

        Seconding the bathroom on a different floor idea. I don’t have any bathroom-related health issues, but I’m super insecure about people even hearing me pee, so I’ve used the one on a different floor since I started at this job because I don’t care about strangers hearing me pee.

        Also because the bathroom on our floor is ALWAYS out of toilet paper. I don’t understand how my coworkers use it. Is there some sort of secret toilet paper stash no one ever told me about?

    2. Mimmy*

      I’d start by finding out who handles facilities-related issues. It’s not clear from your post if your office is a tenant in a larger building, or if you’re in a standalone building. The fact that the one stall has been out of order for 3 weeks is unacceptable, especially if you’re standalone, or there’s only a few other offices. Explain your issue from the perspective of your…ahem….bathroom troubles and that you feel bad about making others wait for you if you need extra time.

      1. Nanc*

        Is it possible the powers that be don’t actually know the stall is broken? Maybe everyone assumes someone notified the landlord or facilities or something and it hasn’t happened. Ask me how I know (say she who came back from two weeks vacation to discover no one in the office had notified the landlord we had a broken toilet, which broke the day after I left . . . )

    3. Jennifer*

      Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything you can do about ah, desperately needing to go for a long period of time, one stall or no. That’s (literally) shitty biology. If someone complains that you have to go for a long period of time, what on earth can your boss or anyone else do about it? Shove a cork up your butt?

      It’s unpleasant for everyone, but people are gonna have to deal.

    4. Daisy Steiner*

      If it’s an issue, it’s your workplace’s issue to solve, not yours. Everyone has bathroom needs, and not everyone’s bathroom needs are the same. You do you, and let everyone else sort themselves out.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      This is just a suggestion, and it might also feel awkward, but could you possibly add a makeshift door hanger for occupied/not occupied? The point would be so people could 1.) wait outside the bathroom without the occupant feeling like they’re being monitored, and 2.) go back to their desks with just a drive-by instead of going in and finding it unavailable. You’ve essentially got a one-seater now, and people don’t typically wait IN the one-seater bathroom with you.

      Also agree with the other commenters that this needs to be addressed with building facilities staff.

      1. pieces of flair*

        Right, or if it’s possible to lock the main bathroom door, do that. No one else can use it while you’re in there anyway.

    6. LCL*

      3 weeks? The repair job has been lost or forgotten or most likely not reported. It might not be your job, but you will have to find out how facilities issues are reported and dealt with. Because I can totally see a busy place putting this repair at the bottom of the list, because there is one working fixture. Someone is going to have to tell ‘them’ (whoever them is) that the business needs both to be working.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, we had a similar issue — 3 stalls in the women’s bathroom, 1 was out of order for almost two months despite repeated requests from our office (and since we share that bathroom with other business tenants, I’m sure we weren’t the only ones). When a 2nd stall went down, our COO had *had it* and got the building manager on the phone. He claimed the reports of the original stall breaking had never been forwarded to them (which may or may not be true – *someone* put an out of order sign on it at some point), but unsurprisingly once the COO got involved both got fixed by the end of the week.

    7. AnotherAlison*

      One more thing. . .not that you can easily just “get over it” but I was raised by a mother who would not take care of certain business at work, or in public restrooms in general, so I had a lot of this type of anxiety about people being near when I was using the bathroom.

      I started working out more during college, so I was going to the gym and running with groups. Hey, you just can’t work out AND hold back, so I got over my anxiety by necessity. You don’t want to cr*p your shorts because you are too timid to use the restroom before a run because someone else is in there. Look at it with the mindset that that is what the bathroom is for and it’s not worth making yourself sick (anxiety or physically) over concern about others.

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        +1

        For me, it was working a job where my shifts covered several mealtimes (lunch and dinner, and then often working till 11pm or 12) that finally helped me to let go and just… go.

      2. CheeryO*

        Sometimes it helps me to think about times when I’ve overheard other people’s bathroom activities and known who it was by their shoes or because we came in or left at the same time. My reaction is never, “Oh, gross, [person], that’s just disgusting! There are other people in here!” I’ve felt bad if it sounded like they were having a rough time, but it’s not like I’m associating their face with their bathroom noises for the rest of the day.

      3. TootsNYC*

        And remember this: The rest of us are in the bathroom because we pee and poop, too. Just like you!

        We really don’t care what you’re doing in there, and we really aren’t listening or noticing.
        And we’ll wait if we need to. We aren’t jerks.

    8. Nervous Accountant*

      Thanks everyone.

      There was an issue wit the plumbing in the building a few weeks ago and all occupants had to use the basement. Since then, I heard that at least 1 stall in each bathroom on each floor has been out of service.

      Although, when I went in this morning I found it was open and working, so I guess the timing was really great! :-D

  18. T3k*

    Feel like I’m stuck in a rut. I badly want to apply for some internships that popped up in my area, but unfortunately 95% of them are all “must currently be enrolled” and it’s been about 2 years since I was in college. So I’m stuck in a job I don’t like with no foreseeable way out of the field to get into the one I want to short of quitting and taking more student loans to go back and get another bachelor’s degree. (I did apply for grad school last year, but didn’t get into the program I was aiming for).

    1. Christy*

      Could you look for a job in a third field that might move you closer to your desired field? I think a new job, regardless of field, sounds like it’s in order for you.

      1. T3k*

        I forgot to mention, some of my skills do overlap into the field I want to get into, but not strong enough to really make myself stand out (like I have skills A & B, and they want B, C, and D). I have been contemplating switching to part time to take another part time closer to home, or just do part time so I can spend more time learning on my own the other skills. Would definitely have to crunch some numbers there to see if that was even possible though.

  19. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Also, I have been waiting all week to share this whacked-out job posting with everyone.

    “Note: Before applying, all candidates are required to watch the 20 minute YouTube video clip attached to this posting, and email your resume along with a paper outlining:
    1. Your HONEST thoughts of the video
    2. How the video relates to this sales position
    3. What makes you similar and not similar to the man in this video
    4. Characteristics of success mentioned in this video and which of these are your strengths and which are your weaknesses (be honest about your weaknesses, this is a test to see whether you can look yourself in the mirror and admit to your weaknesses and failures in life. The most successful people in life are those that have failed hundreds of times and as a result have grown and gained strength and knowledge from these said failures/mistakes).”

    I am infinitely curious to see how many people responded to this ad after actually doing that. SO curious.

    1. Jennifer*

      My friend got forced to do a presentation for one job and have to come up with “team building” activities for an entire staff that has to work 24-7 public service DURING the team building activity. Yes, for a job interview. WTF?

    2. Natalie*

      Good lord, I don’t even watch videos my friends send me. Surprise! Most people are TERRIBLE at making videos, being in videos, editing videos, and (especially) sound mixing videos.

  20. Mimmy*

    I have two questions today – I’ll put them in separate thread.

    First one: An agency I’m actively involved with recently posted for a full-time position. A friend of mine first alerted me to it a week or so ago and felt I’d be perfect. However, I disagree. The job requires travel throughout 3 counties, and it looks like the job of 2 or 3 people! It’s too much, and I don’t drive. However, my friend is pretty insistent that I speak with the director, with whom I have a good relationship. I said I’d think about it.

    Just the other day he messages me again: “Did you talk to Jane about the job?” Oh, did I mention that he had just had surgery that morning?? I wrote back and said, “I appreciate your confidence in me, but I honestly don’t think the job is a good fit”. And that’s the last I’ve heard (though I know he’s still recovering from his surgery).

    Did I respond appropriately? I know I tend to not give myself a fair chance, but I’ve only just started talking with him one on one, so he doesn’t know me well enough. Besides, the staff at this agency know me very well and I would think they’d invite me to interview if they felt I had a shot.

    FTR: This has happened a few times – people who think they know me suggest I apply for certain jobs they think I’m “perfect” for me. I guess they have more confidence in me that I do in myself -.-

      1. Mimmy*

        Haha, you would think so! My friend knows I don’t drive–as do the agency staff–and he figures that, because this agency encourages people with disabilities to apply, that they’d somehow figure out how to get around the drivers license piece. The person that did this job previously does not drive, and I’m betting that created some issues since, under the ADA, you do not have to waive the license requirement if it is an essential part of the job, which is clearly the case here.

        He may think I’m selling myself short. I see it as being honest with myself.

        1. TootsNYC*

          “He may think I’m selling myself short.”

          Well….I’ll be the voice of dissent, and point out the women often don’t apply for jobs unless they feel 100% qualified. And so they lose a lot of “stretch” opportunities. There may have been a way to make the travel work, but you will never know.

    1. Jennifer*

      This sounds like it is NOT the perfect job for you at all with the driving. It’s reasonable to say this isn’t for you.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Well, have you reminded your friend that there’s a heavy travel requirement and you don’t drive, and you think they expect too much out of the position (the work of 2 or 3 people)? For me, whether I gave that friend’s opinion any weight would depend heavily on whether they addressed or dismissed my concerns.

      If your friend has even a bit of a point, I’d recommend discussing it with Jane, since you have a good relationship with her.

  21. Carrie in Scotland*

    So my choices are to stay in current job in Current City or job hunt back in Home City…Home City of course is experiencing a downturn (which is why I might have to move back – property not selling) which makes jobs scarce.

    In the event of moving back to Home City a) any advice on job hunting in a city that is experiencing a downturn b) would it be awful of me to use my address there instead of where I am at the minute?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. Think of it this way– that’s where you’ll be living if you move back, right? It’s not some address you pulled out of the ether. You have a connection to it.

        I wish you so much luck and hope things work out one way or another.

    1. CMT*

      The thing about addresses on resumes/cover letters/application materials that I don’t understand is, won’t they be able to tell where you’re currently living by your current job? I’d just put a line in your cover letters stating that you’re moving back to Home City.

  22. Frank*

    Hey,
    I applied/got a job under the impression I was applying for Software Developer/Test Automation but I got an e-mail/offer letter explaining that the position is actually called QA Automation Analyst which in my experience, is typically a more newer-to-the-field person.

    I am coming with almost 8 years of experience + management experience and although the job responsibilities are the same as I was told, the title really concerns me as it feels like it reflects a step down compared to what I was actually looking for.

    I replied back saying the title change concerns me slightly and asking if there was any flexibility in the title, as I am coming from a QA Automation Engineer (and previously Quality Assurance Manager) position and was expecting a title to reflect what I was looking for — software development, test automation, etc. I didn’t say the title is a “step-down” (although, titles are really loose overall, but Analysts are generally less technical than Engineers/Developers in my experience), but I was very polite and explained my concerns.

    Any advice?

    1. LBK*

      Were there any signs of disconnect about the role throughout the interview process? In other words, did it seem like you and the interviewer(s) were describing the same kind of job and the title is the only thing that’s off now, or are you worried that the actual job itself won’t be what was advertised?

      I think based on your description, it sounds like you handled it as professionally as you could. I’d agree with your interpretation that analyst is a step down from engineer or developer in terms of conveying technical expertise.

      1. Frank*

        Thanks, there was a slight disconnect about the responsibilities (kept implying it was a position leading two people, whereas the actual hiring manager said it is not, I’m OK with that), but other than that the exact words were:

        ————-
        Just wanted to let you know that the official title is going to show up as QA Automation Analyst. We advertised it as Software Developer Test Automation. It’s the same role nothing has changed it’s just what we call it internally. If you have any concerns please let me know.
        ————–

        I sat through a coding skills test, technical questions, etc. I did well (well enough to get the job I guess? :) ) but for an Analyst position I wouldn’t expect those sorts of questions. I actually looked past other positions that were “Analyst” roles even though they had software development/creation requirements and leaned towards this one because it explicitly was a Software Developer/Test Automation position.

        What also bothers me is that the offer letter was the first time this came up.

        The response was “I’ll talk to my manager to see if we can do anything to change it.” so now I’m waiting (again) before filing out any actual paperwork.

        1. LBK*

          Ah, well that’s good that they specified it is the same job so at least you (hopefully) won’t get totally different responsibilities sprung on you on the first day. I wonder if it’s even a case of their HR systems having canned position titles, but they wouldn’t object to you putting something different in your email signature/on your resume/etc? So basically the only place it wouldn’t be your title would be in their system that no one else will ever see.

          1. Frank*

            Not sure — one of the guys I interviewed with over the phone had a title “Developer I – Test Automation” so who knows? That title sounds more like what I applied to, versus “QA Automation Analyst”

            My current employer (a contract-to-hire position that has never gotten to the to-hire part 12mo past the contract date) potentially wants to offer me a Principal Member of Technical Staff position, a much higher-sounding title that has pretty much the same responsibilities. There’s a huge gap between those two titles..

            Now it’s the waiting game to see what they come back with.

          2. Ann O'Nemity*

            That’s the way it works at my company. We have a limited number of canned position titles. When there’s a poor fit between a person’s responsibilities/ previous expertise and the available title choices, employees are allowed to use a different external title that’s more aligned with industry norms.

        2. Biff*

          I work in silicon valley, and I’ll tell you that I’ve seen this before and most folks consider it a bait and switch — almost everywhere an analyst has a much lower pay range than a developer. I’d be very wary of taking the second title.

    2. coyote_fan*

      My most recent job search I was looking for a senior analyst or entry manager level role. A recruiter brought me a job that had a title of analyst. The job description didn’t really lend itself to a title of analyst, so I kept on. Job offer came with a title of manager. Sometimes they label something initially without thinking about it.

      1. Frank*

        Thanks — long story short is that even the internal recruiter who gave me the offer letter did not like the title and knew I would push back. They’re actually changing it right now to be Developer/Engineer which is a whole process on their end. Worked out great, then.

  23. esemes*

    I GOT A JOB. After more than 1.5 years, I finally received an offer. I’m going to be changing industries and relocating and I am SOOOO excited. Things are still in the negotiation process. I wasn’t thrilled with the salary. However, the actual position is a fabulous launching point for the start of a new career, so while I am asking for more $, I am willing to take a bit of a pay cut.

    This blog has been immensely helpful in my search. Thanks, in particular, to the commenter last week who reminded me that it “only takes one job.” :)

  24. afiendishthingy*

    2 questions –
    1) Any advice for when a coworker is promoted to being your supervisor? Not a situation where I begrudge her anything, she was previously in the same role as me but has been here much longer. They made a new position for her as director of a smaller program within our department, and as far as programming and subject matter knowledge she’s great, just not sure what she will be like as a supervisor.

    2) How to address my abnormally low productivity this month, which in fact has to do with a depressive episode. Which is getting better I think, I don’t think it’ll get to the point of FMLA. But my productivity numbers are always on the low side and have been addressed recently by my previous supervisor, not as a formal disciplinary thing but as a “what steps can we take to fix this” item. Now this month is going to be one of the worst. I want to say something to new supervisor along the lines of “Look, I know this sucks, I’ve had some health problems this month, but I’m working to get better numbers next month”. Thoughts?

    1. Oh no not again*

      Depends. I had to be honest with my supervisors because I had a break down at work. I had even turned in a notice and they wanted me to rescind it–they knew something was up and I told them what was going on. I stayed. They’re really cool and understanding about it (and a couple years after my break down I had to take FMLA time off for mental issues). I know I’m lucky–not everyone is at a workplace where they can be honest and their bosses take them seriously AND don’t hassle them about regular therapy and doctors appointments. It’s always a risk to be honest, because some people think its an excuse to be lazy. Its obviously not. I’m hoping your bosses are understanding. Good luck!

    2. Sibley*

      After reading this, I still want to post it. Please take this as asking in good faith, I’m not trying to be mean!

      #2 – Why is your productivity so low? If you’re consistently one of the lowest, then that’s a sign you need to pay attention to. Do you need more training? Are you goofing off, or not a good fit for the job, in over your head? Is your computer in slow-motion death? Be honest with yourself. Because if you’re typically a good performer and you have a bad month, they’ll cut you some slack. But if you’re a week performer to begin with, and you have a really horrible month, then they don’t have much incentive to keep you. You’ve already been spoken to about this, so my thought is that your job is in jeopardy if you don’t get into the same range as others, and fast.

      and hope your health continues to improve.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        It’s a good question. The biggest reason is that, related to ADHD and anxiety, I have weak time management skills and other executive function issues (trouble prioritizing, identifying the small tasks within a larger project and making a plan to complete the steps in a logical order, etc). I’ve been fairly transparent about this with my coworkers and previous supervisor.

        I am definitely concerned about my billable hours, but I don’t think I’m a weak performer overall- my job is complex and multi faceted enough that I think other strengths make up for it. I don’t miss deadlines, I have good relationships with coworkers and clients. I also have a very in-demand certification and I’m the only bilingual person in my role, which helps. Also the first time my supervisor addressed the productivity issue she had been given a report with a mistake in it- our goal is 55% billable, the report she had said 37%, but I’d actually been at 46%, which I told her later.

        I do think it’s a good idea for me to clarify with my new supervisor exactly how my performance is evaluated, how much trouble I’m actually in, and try to make a plan to bring the numbers up. I am probably going to have to be pretty upfront with the mental health stuff.

        Thanks for your reply.

        1. BRR*

          I recently went through a long hard ordeal involving ADHD, depression, anxiety, and strong performance in some areas and weak in others. I hate to be a party pooper but try not to rely too much on your strengths overshadowing your weaknesses. Job performance isn’t always an average across all of your qualities.

          1. Afiendishthingy*

            Yeah, that’s fair. Tbh one of the major sources of stress in this job has been not knowing exactly how my performance is measured. I do think I really need tocheck in with my supervisors to see if we are on the same page.

        2. TootsNYC*

          It’s a good question. The biggest reason is that, related to ADHD and anxiety, I have weak time management skills and other executive function issues (trouble prioritizing, identifying the small tasks within a larger project and making a plan to complete the steps in a logical order, etc). I’ve been fairly transparent about this with my coworkers and previous supervisor.

          Are you taking some pretty active steps to built those time-management skills, and the executive-function issues? Being transparent about it is one thing–but as a manager, I’d want to know that you are actively doing something, even if it’s just experimenting with different techniques on your own. (But if you can seek out come coaching, even better.)

          My son has similar ADD problems, and it’s frustrating in the extreme that he won’t do anything to try new ways to keep his focus. I suggest standing up for his math problems, and he resists. I suggest setting a timer and focusing for 10 minutes (or using the Pomodoro technique), and he refuses.
          Basically, he does the exact same thing every single night. And he’s always behind, and he always wastes tons of time. He doesn’t even get fun out of it!
          If he were an employee, I’d fire him, because not only are his “numbers” not getting better, but he doesn’t seem to be doing anything about, much.

          You don’t want that to be the perception of you.

          1. Afiendishthingy*

            True, I don’t want that to be the perception of me. Was there something in my comments that made you think I come off that way? I’m not a teenage boy, and my boss is not my parent.
            I take many active steps to try to improve my time management skills and my focus. Some have worked better than others. My now former supervisor and I discussed what does and doesn’t work for me, and I do try new things. I’d started to make some modest progress before the depression flared up, now ADHD and anxiety symptoms are worse while I try to do damage control. I know that I can improve my time management skills with practice and support, and I am doing the best I can, but it’s always going to be a struggle for me. You’re right, it is not fun! It effing sucks.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      In answer to the new supervisor question, just let her know that you support her. That can be “hey, congrats, I am happy for you!” OR more serious like, “Congratulations. I have always thought you have a lot of knowledge about what we do here. Whatever ways I can help you, please let me know.”

      I think the more specific you are about what you will do to bring your numbers up, the better off you will be. “I am focusing on doing more of A and B. I also recognize that while I do C with consistency, I can beef that up a little. [etc]” When you talk about specifics it shows that you have been thinking which, in turn , lends credence to your sincerity about pulling your numbers up.

    4. BRR*

      #1 Sounds like you should just wait and see.

      #2 I would maybe say “I have a medical condition that flared up this month which I finally figured out was the result of an underlying medical condition. Now that I’m receiving proper treatment I can get my numbers up.” I’ve also had my numbers affected by depression, it sucks. If you’re not receiving treatment, I would seek someone out immediately.

  25. Sascha*

    You guys!!! My promotion finally came through!! I’m now officially a business intelligence analyst with a 40% salary bump!!! It only took 2 years… (yay for higher education)

    So my question is…do I thank my VP? My director is the one who notified me, as she is the one who promised me the raise in the first place, but my VP is the one who has the finally say on budget and wrangled with the budget committee. I guess just a quick email?

      1. Sascha*

        Thanks! I thanked my director via email when I first saw it, since I was at a conference, but I will try to catch my VP next time I see him.

  26. Castro Oil*

    I recently started a new job at a non-profit. In my first month, I feel at work and broke my wrist, which required surgery. Accidents happen and my quality of life did not diminish since it’s not my dominant hand. I only missed two days of work and everyone at work has been supportive. However, because I am a new employee I am on a probation period which means no health insurance for the first four months. I just got the bill for my mishap and it’s a lot of money. When i changed jobs I decided not to go on COBRA insurance because the payments were too high and figure I would risk it. Well, obviously, it didn’t pay off. Can and should I approach my job about paying this bill? The fall happened at work, and to be honest, withholding insurance until employees prove their worth is kind of lousy. I also don’t want to upset management and lose standing at work. Someone suggested i may have legal recourse here. Any advice? Thanks.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Yeah, if you fell at work that should be covered by workmans compensation. Did you report the injury when it happened?

    2. Christy*

      That sounds to me like it should be workers comp? But I’m a total layperson so what do I know.

      You might be able to retroactively sign up for COBRA–it has like a 60-day period where you can enroll after your old job. But again, what do I know.

      1. Sunflower*

        You can definitely sign up for COBRA retroactively so might want to look into that. Don’t know anything about filing for workmans comp but this sounds like it would qualify

      2. Happy Lurker*

        Yes, COBRA is retroactive (in Mass). My sister didn’t take COBRA until her daughter broker her arm, 30 days after she left previous job.
        BUT – this is workman’s comp and you don’t owe anything on this if you fell at work. Just call billing and let them know it is a workman’s comp case. You should let your supervisor or HR know too, if they don’t already.

      3. Ellen*

        Agreed on both counts, but can speak personally to COBRA. I’ve done retroactive election and it worked fine. Only concern is that (I think) you’ll have to pay premiums for all of the time since you were last on that insurance, which may end up coming close to what you’d pay out of pocket for the injury.

    3. CMT*

      If you do talk to your employer about covering the bills, I wouldn’t say anything about how you think the fact they don’t offer benefits until 4 months after the start date is lousy. I don’t disagree with you on that point, but you presumably did know that when you took the job, so to say you feel differently now wouldn’t look great.

    4. Kristen*

      This is a worker’s comp situation for sure. If they didn’t file a claim when the fall originally happened it is going to cause some issues with them but they should be covering the bill one way or the other.

      1. BRR*

        I learned in a seminar, if an accident happens at work report it right away. It doesn’t matter if you won’t take worker’s comp or if you’re not sure, just report it because as Kristen says, it’s going to cause some issues if you don’t.

    5. Winter is Coming*

      OP, I’m going to go against the grain here and say that I think you should go the worker’s compensation route. You should have been told immediately after your injury what the proper channels were for reporting a work-related injury. If you fell at work, it’s worker’s compensation. I’m also surprised that whoever treated you did not catch this and report is as such. So, please go to your employer immediately, and explain that you were not aware of how to properly report an injury, and what should you do from here? Personally, if they balked at this, I would contact my state’s worker’s compensation board (or comparable authority — not all WC is handled by the state; ours is, and it’s the only state I’ve worked in), and ask them what your options are. This wasn’t handled properly by your employer or medical providers from the get-go.

    6. Observer*

      As others have said worker comp is where you want to go for this, as it was a workplace accident.

      And, whatever else you do, asking your employer to cover your expenses in lieu of health insurance won’t fly. It was a risk you knew about – and you chose not to cover yourself with other options open to you.

  27. Sunny*

    Thanks to Alison, I have not one but TWO interviews coming up! Here’s the issue;

    I currently commute an hour one way for a part-time job. There is a full-time position at a great organization near my home and I have an interview late next month. I also have an interview for a full-time position at a another great organization next week. The catch? It’s almost the exact same commute which I know I want to steer clear of. (Yes, I know, I should have figured it out sooner, but I only realized it was this branch AFTER I got the call to interview)

    Do I take the interview anyway, knowing I am unlikely to take an offer? Or do I just go and use it as informal practice?

    I would feel bad about canceling and I have a colleague that says she will put in a good word.

    1. Christy*

      If you didn’t have the second interview coming up, would you bow out of the interview for the job with the long commute? I personally would not, since the new job is full time, at least. But I don’t know how urgently you’re seeking full-time work.

      1. Sunny*

        This is a good question. I would probably be less likely to.

        I think I can risk it because I just think the commute is so unhealthy. I also just bought a home, so moving is a no go for me in the foreseeable future. However, my part-time salary is enough to cover my expenses (I am lucky, I know!) It’s more a quality of life issue, although I know this is a great organization.

    2. LBK*

      I think I’d try to honestly answer two questions for yourself:

      1) Is there anything that could possibly be true about the job that would make you willing to continue commuting that far? (crazy high salary, extreme schedule/WFH flexibility, high level of responsibility that will be great for your career, etc.)

      2) If the answer to #1 is yes, how likely do you think the job is to provide whatever you’d need to consider the commute?

      If the answer to #1 is “no” or the answer to #2 is “never in a million years,” you should probably decline the interview. I’d just say something vague like “after further consideration about the role I’ve decided it’s not quite the right match for me.”

      Commute time is absolutely a valid reason to decline a job and losing a minimum of 2 hours of your day can be extremely draining on your quality of life, as I’m sure you’re already experiencing. The one time I interviewed for a position that was way outside my normal commuting time, it would’ve been two steps up in the hierarchy from where I was with better hours and almost double the salary, so I was willing to do it.

      1. Sunny*

        1. I am a Librarian, so I have to be there. It’s in the same realm that I have now, but full-time.
        I am wondering if I should take the interview because I always learn something new at interviews! Seriously! I never get mad or entitled if they don’t hire me, because I feel the experience is valuable.

        1. Dear Liza dear liza*

          As a fellow librarian, I would refuse the interview if I was sure I wouldn’t take the position. Most libraries are allowed to bring in only 2 or 3 people; let this place bring in another candidate.

  28. Interviewing*

    I have a position that is heavy on face-time/butt-in-seat requirements. I have been interviewing a bunch of places lately and I’m running out of leeway for “appointments” not otherwise specified. Any advice/suggestions for things to say about why you’re missing work (that isn’t a lie!)

    Thanks!

    1. Sunflower*

      Have you tried to schedule interviews after or before work? It’s not gonna happen everytime but I was shocked at how many companies were willing to meet with me at 5 or 6pm. I’ve never tried on a Saturday or Sunday but I’ve heard it work for others.

      Do you have PTO you could take? Not ideal but it could buy you more time.

      What about taking a long lunch? You might have to use PTO for this too but it’s not that uncommon to have appts you take over lunch that require extending.

      1. TootsNYC*

        As a hiring manager, I always offer lunch and post-work appointments. I’d offer morning appointments, but I hate to get up early.

    2. CheeryO*

      Well, this might be too much of a lie, but it’s that time of year for people who have high deductible health insurance plans (HSAs? I don’t know enough about health insurance). My boyfriend has been making tons of medical appointments lately because he hit his deductible for the year and wants to get the most bang for his buck. You could also say that you’re trying to whittle down your to-do list before winter hits, if you get bad weather where you are.

      Go for a “haircut” and then actually get one later in the day? I dunno, I’m having trouble thinking of non-lies.

  29. WhiskeyTango*

    A recruiter scheduled me for an interview early next week and sent me the job description last night. I’m a little concerned because there were 14 “essential tasks” as well as a list of “other duties as assigned, including…” I’ve been in the industry long enough to know that you could fill three full time positions based on the list (several of the duties on the list were naturally related). Most people in our industry tend to specialize over time, so I think it’s unlikely they’ll find someone with the 7-10 years experience in each of these areas. (Think about it as a job making chocolate tea pots, a job testing vanilla teapot handles and a job selling all kinds of teapots). I’m really interested and skilled in making chocolate tea pots, but I know enough to test vanilla tea pot handles and once upon a time, I worked with sales of tea pots (and am not really interested in doing that again).

    My suspicion is they are trying to cast a really wide net to attract all kinds of candidates (plus the recruiter indicated they are hiring multiple positions.) However, this firm has a reputation of being a slave driver with no work/life balance, so I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if they really are looking for one person to do all three. (To be fair, the recruiter talked with me about some changes in management and said they are trying to change the culture.) I’d love some suggestions on how to tease out what they’re really looking for and find out if the expectation is really to cover all of the “essential functions”… and also how to inquire about the “change in culture”. Thanks!

    1. misspiggy*

      You could try asking which bits of the job description would always be likely to crop up in an average week, and whether any components would be more occasional.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Yes, see the comments above about the favorite interview questions. A lot of them relate to work/life balance.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think you can just say, “I looked through the essential tasks. I’ve got enough experience in the industry to make me confident that this job is essentially a job for 2 or 3 people. What’s your plan for making this something that one person can not just actually accomplish, but also excel at?”

  30. Mimmy*

    Second question:

    I am going to an alumni reception next Friday where I got my MSW, and could use some pointers on how to respond to the typical “what are you doing” or “what do you do” questions. I’m looking to use this as a networking opportunity.

    While I’m not employed at the moment, I am quite involved with different advisory groups, as well as taking courses toward a graduate certificate, which I expect to finish this coming spring.

    The thing I’ve always struggled with is coherently describing what I do, and stating what my interests / goals are. I know the “elevator speech” is frowned upon, and I can see why! And yes, employment is still a goal, though I know that may be a long shot since, despite my current activities, I haven’t had a paid position in awhile.

    So what do you guys suggest? Oh, and please be gentle! I know I’ve made my own mess :)

    1. BSharp*

      Tell a story! Something you’re proud of, a moment you loved. Like “I’ve been working with advisory groups, and the funniest thing happened…” or “…and I just heard about the best outcome, let me tell you about it.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is what I do. I segue into an interesting or funny story of Thing that happened the other day. Then redirect with a question about them. Most people don’t notice that I have not given them a broad picture of what I am doing.

    2. Ellen*

      I’ve had success in a somewhat similar situation (underemployment) by stating confidently and concisely what I’m doing and then also what I’m looking for. So, “I’ve been doing [X kind] of advisory work and am finishing up some graduate classes as I look for a new spot doing [Y thing].” I think it’s important to not get too bogged down in the details of the advisory or graduate work, at least first thing–you just want to give people a conversation-starting idea of the sorts of ways you’re occupying your time, and also put it out there that you’re looking. If they want to know more, you’ve given them a good basis from which to ask questions, and they’ll likely remember more if it comes from a conversation than from you giving them a big spiel.

    3. themmases*

      Is the elevator speech frowned on? Being salesy or putting people on the spot to help you out is of course frowned on, but I think being able to briefly describe what you do is just polite– and practical in this case.

      You’re unlikely to be the only one at an alumni event who sees it partially as a networking opportunity. IMO people like to talk about themselves, they like people who solve problems for them, and they like when people make themselves easy to talk to (e.g. by linking their activities to a theme in the field or the other person’s work) rather than making their conversation partner do all the work.

  31. katamia*

    I quit my job this week. Huge relief–that job was just never going to get better, and staying there would have been setting myself up to fail. But I need to stop picking such horrible (for me; this job was really not objectively awful) jobs, and I’m kind of…stuck. So I’m asking:

    What do/can you do when your skills are severely out of alignment with your interests and preferred work environment? My natural skills: detail-oriented work, typically clerical (not admin–I’m a terrible admin–but typing, proofreading, etc.), data entry, etc. My preferred work environment: fast-paced, chaotic, lots of people around. The jobs that have made me happiest were working at a concert pavilion and working food service (making food) in college, and I’ve been miserable in every office I’ve ever been in. I’ve also worked in teaching/education and wouldn’t mind going back to that, but not as a teacher, and I doubt I have enough experience to move into curriculum development or anything.

    So what do I do? Other than trying to get a job in a kitchen (something I’m thinking about, but given how brutal the restaurant industry is, I really don’t want this to be the only option), how can I reconcile the work I’m good at with the work I like?

    1. Ordinary World*

      Have you considered looking at events-based roles, especially for nonprofits? They tend to operate rather frantically in the lead-up to events, but also rely on good office skills to keep things moving.

      1. katamia*

        Sorry, I feel silly for asking this, but what would be an example of an events-based role? Would that be something like a wedding planner? (Not that nonprofits typically do weddings, of course, but that sort of work?)

        1. Sunflower*

          More like fundraising events- think runs or walks, charity drives. Working with corporations on their charity efforts- like planning a service day with them that would benefit your non-profit. You would probably be working between coordinating logistics with volunteers and vendors as well as meeting goals of what your org is trying to do. Most of these jobs are listed as ‘Special Events Manager’ or ‘Coordinator’

        2. Felicia*

          I’m thinking more like conference and/or trade show planner, or education coordinator, who typically plans 1-2 day courses offered by the organization (professional associations typically have one, and this is an education related but not teaching job) . It has some of the same stuff involved in wedding planning (finding venues and accomodations and food and beverage) but also admin heavy. So it would be kind of half and half between what you like and what you’re good at in that sort of role (which is pretty good balance!)

    2. Mimmy*

      I’ll be following this thread – I’m the same way. Though I’m the opposite…I prefer a slower pace.

    3. NicoleK*

      I’m not sure of your location, industry, or salary requirements so this may not work for you….Have you considered the medical field or working in a call center? Working in a clinic or at the hospital can be fast paced. And call centers are generally fast paced and chaotic.

      1. katamia*

        I’m not sure I have the diplomacy skills for either of those, unfortunately. Although people who know me have said I don’t have the people skills to be a teacher, either, and while I was never the best teacher ever or anything, I was…surprisingly well liked.

    4. Nikki T*

      Other places have kitchens, hospitals, schools, colleges. Some arts councils/community theaters have full-time employees. Hotels/conference centers..but that can be brutal as well.

      Good luck to you.

      1. J. Lynn*

        Since you said you like both detailed-oriented or data what about management in like a coffee-shop like Starbucks or something? I worked at a Starbucks-like coffee shop for years during and after college/grad school and you get the chaos and early morning rushes, but also have to tightly control inventory, work on schedules, ordering. You might need some people skills to manage employees/deal with irate customers, but a lot of the managers job is 50% admin (ordering, inventory, payroll, some of that admin stuff) and some managers put themselves on the floor a lot too, so they can work in the midst of chaos. Not sure what your salary needs are though.

        Also some schools hire teachers’ aids or classroom helps for a reasonable rate (more than an entry-level coffee shop barista) but don’t require teaching degree…? I think this varies from state to state and even public vs. private.

        I agree with “Ordinary World” that an event planner or something like that could also be a potential fit.

        Best of luck!

        1. katamia*

          I actually worked in the coffee shop on campus in college, too (it was kind of an atypical food service job) and really enjoyed barista-ing (baristing?) and cashiering (although 99% of the customers wee really easygoing college students, so the customers were easier than what I’d have to deal with in other environments). I doubt I could find a job that would pay enough, though–I’m looking in the DC area, so COL is quite high. :(

          I’m also really awful at planning–I’m good with details and good with big-picture stuff, but getting from A to B? Stymies me every time. So I might not be a great fit for doing inventory/supplies and scheduling, unless my understanding of how that stuff gets done is way off (and it might be).

      2. katamia*

        I actually went to a career counselor last year. It was interesting, but a lot of it was skills-based rather than preference-based–I got a lot of suggestions like librarian, technical writer, etc., which are very in line with my skills but probably not careers I would actually enjoy day to day. The frustrating part is that the job I just quit was actually on that list–on paper, it was PERFECT for me. I’m not opposed to trying local college career centers (though my alma mater is far away and I’m not sure what services non-alumni are entitled to), but I kind of feel like I need a direction to point them in so they don’t look at my Myers-Briggs type (INTP, not usually a type that likes having lots of people around) and general personality and suggest the same jobs I don’t think would be a fit.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Reading your original post, I think they typed you wrong! I’ve typed as INTJ on every MBTI I’ve ever done (an official one in college, internet ones), and fast paced and chaotic are not something I would look for, ever. A tech writer would fit me very well. NT types don’t typically have a preference for working with physical objects, but it sounds like you do if you like food prep. The “P” part also could present challenges in admin work and fields like tech writing, so I can see why if that truly is your type, you don’t like those things. “J”s don’t do open-ended, “P”s do, so a job that has black and white answers and hard deadlines isn’t always a fit for Ps (not that I’m an MBTI expert, just read a fair amount).

          1. AnotherAlison*

            And not that “they” really typed you wrong, you took the test on your own. When you read an INTP profile, does it seem to fit? I nod along when I read mine, but my son tested ENTJ, and he is nothing like the description of an ENTJ. He fits ESFJ better.

          2. T3k*

            Well, personality type doesn’t necessarily dictate how one is in a work environment. Part of my major required us to take this leadership management class, and we took a ridiculously large number of tests that companies have been known to give their employees to assess how they’d do in management, personal skills, etc. I always test as an INTJ but one of the work tests came back saying I’d do well leading either a well-oiled machine company or one that was falling apart and I have to say, it’s correct. I love to go in and fix things up and make systems more efficient to the point they’re running smoothly.

            Also, NTs can love fast paced. I’d been wondering what was wrong with me when I felt so bored at my job when I realized I could be described like a husky in that if I’m not kept active and given work to do, I go nuts. I’m the type that won’t take breaks unless I really, really need one that day.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Not to argue with you, but INTJ type says they’re good leaders, but prefer to lead when no one else steps up. We’re like the second best executives. : )

              I don’t mind fast paced, but more mental fast paced, not actually doing stuff (i.e., I’m happy to produce a bunch of reports quickly on my computer, I’m not happy to run all over the office building collecting signatures for a deliverable.) I do get bored if I don’t have enough to do, but I don’t necessarily work fast. My manager, now she is like a bulldog and has to be on the go the whole time. I think she’s more S than N.

              1. T3k*

                Oh yeah, definitely agree. As I always tell people, I much prefer being that person behind the curtains, rather than be in the spotlight but will, begrudgingly, take the lead if nobody else will.

                Ah, true, forgot there’s physical paces as well as mental. I’m a really sedentary person, but my mind wants to do laps… including right before I go to bed *sigh*

              2. catsAreCool*

                I’m an INTJ too! I like having plenty to do, but rushing around and trying to get everything done at the last minute isn’t appealing to me.

          3. katamia*

            Oh, no, I’ve scored INTP on every single personality test I’ve taken since middle school and find the description incredibly (almost painfully) accurate. If they mistyped me, then everybody’s been mistyping me, lol.

            The funny part? I’ve been thinking that one of the reasons I had such trouble with this job was that there was NO tangible product. It was just a constant, never-ending slog (well, clearly not a slog for my coworkers, who seem to like it), and there is never going to be any kind of tangible product.

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              I think the event planning suggestion up thread might be a good one for you if that’s the case. I used to do that job (not wedding planning, but planning conferences/seminars) and it really is a cycle – there’s a clear preparation phase and then a finished product (the event), followed by the post-event activity, and then the preparation phase starts up again. A lot of the work requires attention to detail, as well as other clerical/administrative tasks, so it might be a good fit with your skill set.

          4. misspiggy*

            A nonprofit communications role might be good, but you might need to build up unpaid experience first. Or start with a clerical role in a nonprofit, where fundraising databases etc always need updating. Then look at options for progressing to something better paid.

        2. Anonsie*

          It sounds like we’re actually quite similar in terms of skillset and preferences (with the key difference that I don’t like things quite so chaotic, so I bit the bullet and became a librarian last year). But I used to work in catering, and I loved the fast-paced, events-based work. You might try looking into admin, or supervisor work there: it’s less unforgiving than the kitchen in my experience, but still a lot of opportunities for putting out fires and juggling new challenges. (I was going to suggest coordinator too, but then you mentioned you’re bad with planning. I think supervisors are often more reactive, which might suit you better.) I still miss the new experiences that came with the job. And the food.

          (And as an INFP, I also hate being recommended careers based on Meyers-Briggs type. No, I don’t want to be a counselor, advocate, or spiritual leader, which means my only other option, based on this list of famous people who share my type is… notoriously depressed artist who dies young, probably by their own hand? Hm. I’ll pass.)

        3. NorCalHR*

          INFJ here, and enjoying HR. You might explore that field as well. There are a lot of roles, some very people-oriented, others with a higher focus on details and non-people related skills. HR Coordinator good be a good match….

    5. AnotherAlison*

      My cousin is a chocolatier. . .something like that sounds like it could be a good fit.

      Side note: This should be a thing, an open thread where people write here’s what I’ve done, what I liked and didn’t like, what else can I do with that?

      1. katamia*

        Chocolatier sounds interesting. *adds it to the list of things to look into further*

        Also, yes, this should totally be a thing. It’s so hard to know what jobs are like day-to-day and what “secret” skills are really useful in certain jobs that maybe you wouldn’t expect.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Does your cousin work for a large company, or do they do more artisanal stuff? Either way, being a chocolatier sounds fascinating.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          It’s a small company, assuming you mean a local shop is small and Hershey’s is large. She’s the only chocolatier there and they have a couple pastry chefs. I’m not really sure how she got into it as it’s so under the radar. . .she was a florist, they closed, and next I heard, she was working there. I know her ex was a culinary arts major and professional chef, so it probably wasn’t that weird of a profession with her personal background as it would be with mine. They’ve sent her to a lot of training seminars since she’s been working there.

    6. Sunflower*

      Have you thought about fundraising for a college? While most universities do tend to be slower paced, there are depts that run much more at corporate level pace. I’ve found jobs at universities also tend to cover a lot of different ground. Like working as a corodinator for a dept involves a lot of little things- usually doing some admin type work but also helping out at events and doing some marketing stuff. I know here in Philly UPEnn has a lot of jobs like this so I wonder if there are some at similar universities in DC.

      Second the event planner suggestion- besides non-profits, a lot of other places need event planners. Any companies that specialize in continuing ed/keeping credentials up to date(think lawyers, financial professionals, medical peeps) need them. You could also go to a hotel and get into catering/sales.

      1. katamia*

        Hm, there are a ton of colleges around here (and theoretically I could work in Baltimore, too, which also has colleges), so I’m sure there must be similar jobs. I’ll look up event planning and fundraising to see what the jobs look like day to day, since the day-to-day is what I seem to have struggled with in previous jobs.

    7. Biff*

      If you can do technical editing, look into geotech firms that do a ton of proposals. Chaotic, detail-oriented, faster-than-a-veyron pace.

    8. Afiendishthingy*

      If you’re still checking this, what kind of teaching did you do? What did you like and dislike about it? Do you like working with kids, teens, adults? How would you feel about being a corporate trainer? Or museum work? Tutoring, or working with special populations? I have a masters in education, never had the desire to be a classroom teacher, now am clinical supervisor for home based services for kids with developmental disorders. It is pretty cool.

    9. Pineapple Incident*

      Late to the party here, but I’m in a clinical area so Sunday is a workday sometimes.

      I know someone who is in events in the technical, detail-oriented capacity of a technician working with audio, electrical, and many elements of set-up/tear-down/working the actual event as well. The hours can be crazy, but she’s pretty active at work, often doing something different, and the events she works with range from fashion shows, plays and other theater performances, banquets with audio needs for speech givers, sporting tournaments and several others that I can’t enumerate.

      This capacity puts her in the independent contractor category, so occasionally she works in other states. Taxes have apparently become quite complicated with submitting W-2’s from other states in addition to her state of residence. The work is very interesting, apparently, and starting pay depending on the recruiting company she accepts jobs from and the type of work involved can range from $15-25 an hour. If you’re interested in searching for this kind of work I’d search event, theater, or audio technician. I know that some amount of work experience is involved in getting more advanced or coveted jobs, but there are apparently many where the company is looking for pairs of hands that are able and willing to pick up new skills.

  32. CaraJ*

    Advice/encouragement desired. I have been at my current job for 3 years and was in an extremely similar job for 2 years before that – so basically the same exact field for 5 years. Although I am generally happy with my company, I don’t think my job truly suits my skills, and I’d like to move into a slightly different, more advanced technical/analytical role.

    I keep seeing job postings that perfectly align with what I’d really like to be doing, and part of me is dying to apply for them. But a few things are holding me back:

    1) I am pregnant and due in April. I will return from maternity leave in July. I feel like it’s probably easiest to stay at my current job through my maternity leave, since my bosses are very supportive. I also feel obligated to stay for about 6 months after returning from maternity leave.
    2) I JUST completed a training for a new area of responsibility that will be a good resume-builder, even though it’s not very exciting. I would feel guilty leaving so soon after receiving training, especially since I’d be leaving my boss kind of in the lurch.

    So my question is…am I justified in passing up a recent slew of awesome-looking jobs because of my future maternity leave and my sense of obligation to my employer? Or am I being stupid for passing up interesting career opportunities, whenever they arise? I am assuming that another set of good opportunities will come along in a year’s time, when I am ready to move on. But then again, it’s so easy to find an excuse to just stay put…sometimes you need to throw your hat in the ring before you’re “ready.”

    1. Christy*

      Well, couldn’t you ask during interviews if taking the maternity leave is ok? I don’t see the harm in at least applying.

    2. LQ*

      I have a coworker who when she was hired she had 2 weeks of work before she was off to give birth/maternity leave. They fast tracked her health insurance and everything else. They knew (she was very obviously pregnant when she interviewed) and it wasn’t a big deal to leave quickly.
      Not saying that will be true everywhere. But it is entirely possible to be hired even if you are going on maternity leave right away.

    3. CM*

      I get the feeling that you really want to apply out, but feel like you shouldn’t. If the question were just “am I being stupid for passing up interesting career opportunities,” no, it’s not stupid at all to consider your pregnancy and maternity leave plans in your job search. But if you really want a new job, then I think you should go for it. Let’s say you get a new job and start in January. You can still get in three good months before maternity leave (which obviously you’d negotiate as part of your offer package). And if you’re only planning to take three months off, in the scheme of things it’s not that long.

    4. Amy M.*

      Well, if you plan to use FMLA leave for your maternity leave, you would need to be with your employer for a minimum of 12 months and have worked a certain amount of hours to qualify. If you changed employers now you would not qualify for FMLA leave, however they might have a generous leave plan so it might not matter.

  33. Ad Astra*

    Do you ever check social media at work? My boss just essentially said that I am never to use my personal social media accounts during the work day except on my lunch break. I said, “OK, but what about when I take a quick break during the day to go to the bathroom or fill my water bottle or whatever, can I do it then?”

    Our official policy says only during breaks, so I thought I was complying with that by tweeting or Facebooking when I’m already taking a break. The answer was basically no, exempt employees don’t get breaks. It’s ok to text, or to go talk to my coworkers about sports, but it’s not ok to tweet when I have five seconds free. It’s also not ok to use social media at my desk when I’m working through lunch, because “perception is reality.” (So I’ll probably stop working through lunch.)

    As soon as we left that meeting, I saw a notification that a coworker in another department had posted on my Facebook. Everyone in her department uses social media during the day, to a reasonable extent and in a way that doesn’t interfere with work, and everyone’s fine with it. I also notice many of employees liking the company’s statuses throughout the day, which is also not considered a problem.

    I think this is mostly related to the culture at my company/department, and I doubt I can do anything to change it. My boss hasn’t brought up any performance issues or questioned my time management; as far as I can tell, the issue is just with social media, not with spending too much time messing around. I know I just have to deal with it, but does anyone else think it’s a little unreasonable?

    1. Sly*

      Sounds like your boss has a bit of a personal bias about social media. But, i have to agree that it’s unprofessional to do personal posts on social media during working hours. (I sometimes do myself, but I feel a little guilty and try to make it a rare occurrence.) Using social media specifically for work purposes is a different matter, especially if you are in a comms, public affairs, or knowledge management role.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Yes, I think my boss and some other higher-ups in the company have a specific bias against social media. They see it as a waste of time in a way that texting or chatting isn’t — which I really don’t get, but that’s how it is. Most people in our office can’t even access social media on their work computers, which is frustrating because I work in comms and want my coworkers to be able to see the messages the company is putting out.

        Before this, I worked in news, where cultivating your personal twitter account is really important, so this is a big shift in culture for me.

    2. Nikki T*

      Heck, I’d stop working through lunch anyway. If you don’t have to, give yourself a *real* break.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I often find that taking an hour for lunch throws me off more than just taking a bunch of 5-minute breaks here and there, but I think my best bet in this environment is to leave my desk at lunch every day. I’m starting to think I just don’t fit in here.

    3. Jen RO*

      I think your boss is completely unreasonable, but I think that my country/industry is much laxer about such things than the average.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes, it’s unreasonable, but unfortunately it’s not illegal.

      I post on Google+ during the work day, usually to a small group of friends. I don’t load Facebook at all, because that’s what someone would probably look for if they were looking for people goofing off. However, I do get information from professional associations via Facebook, which is why I used to stay on it all day at work. But now I check it on my phone, and if I want to make a post that’s to all Friends or public, I’ll post it after working hours.

      How would your boss know if you’re texting or posting to Facebook anyway?

      1. Ad Astra*

        Well, I don’t know. I use Facebook and TweetDeck for work, so those are always up on my computer. He has mentioned that he generally doesn’t want me on my phone because it looks bad — but in the same breath, he said texting to keep in touch with my husband or whoever is fine. So, idk. My Twitter is open, so I assume he saw some tweets during the day and was concerned. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, so I didn’t make any effort to hide it.

        But don’t worry, I know there’s nothing illegal going on. It’s not against the law to see things differently than I do, but maybe it should be. :)

        1. Ad Astra*

          (By “open” I meant that my Twitter is not protected. I don’t keep my personal account up on my work computer; I only access it on my phone.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Same here, but I can’t post on Facebook or Twitter. I can log in and like stuff, but I can’t post or comment. So I have to do it on my phone. I dislike that because typing with my thumbs is super awkward for me (I have problems with fine motor control sometimes), and the screen is tiny. I usually wait until I get home.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          Have you tried a phone stylus? You can get a pack of them on Amazon. They make texting and posting so much easier. The best I have found are from a company called The Friendly Swede.

    5. Argh!*

      We have the same rule. Just follow it. You’ll get used to not checking in with twitter or facebook constantly. The thing about these which you accidentally demonstrated is that other people can see that you are screwing around during your work hours. Just don’t do it. It doesn’t make you or your department look good.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Just do what the boss is saying to do. That is your best bet. And try, try not to think about what others are doing. That is the road to nowhere and it will only make you upset. It’s hard because it feels like there is a separate set of rules, but you don’t know if those people are just ignoring what they know they should be doing.

        Yes, take the break you are supposed to take. If you have trouble re-engaging when you come back from break, then make a short list before you leave. If you know exactly where you are going to pick up when you come back, it might be a little easier.

      2. Ad Astra*

        I agree that I should just suck it up and follow the rules. I disagree that one or two posts while I’m waiting for something to load or microwaving my lunch makes it look like I’m screwing around — but it’s clear that there are people in the world who do think that, and it appears that I work for them.

        Not So NewReader, I think you hit the nail on the head about why this (admittedly trivial) issue is bugging me: It feels like there are two sets of rules. It also feels like my office emphasizes rules and face time over performance, and institutes blanket policies instead of just managing (our dress code is a good example of this). As a comms professional, I would really like to see the entire company embracing social media, but it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, I have major problems with superficial policies that are enforced to the nth degree. Just because a person is in place on time each day does not automatically lead to a productive person. I hate how these superficial measurements some how become a focal point and adults are reduced to kindergarteners.
          It might be you need a company that knows it has adults employed there.

          For the most part, I have seen adults who were allowed to use their own discretion, usually worked longer and harder than adults that had a bunch of grammar school rules to follow. But I am just one person observing this and it’s just my opinion. However, I don’t think we will see many real studies on this topic.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      Sounds pretty normal to me. This is my second job where FB, personal email, and other social media is completely blocked, except for the few that need it for work. Work computers can’t get to sites like that at all. People have to use personal phones if they want any access during the day.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I come from an industry where everyone in the building needs to access social media (and often a lot of other websites that may seem NSFW) as part of their jobs, so it’s quite an adjustment to work in an environment where our access might be restricted. I think it’s an old-fashioned point of view, but I’m not the boss.

  34. Blue Anne*

    Job search is an emotional roller coaster.

    Yesterday morning I had a first-stage interview with a recruiter. During it he mentioned another firm that was looking to fill a few assistant positions which sounded RIGHT up my street for various reasons. BRILLIANT. I AM SUPER EXCITED. Just about knocked him over. Great. Yes. Put me forward, please.

    In the afternoon I get a call from a headhunter who had contacted me a few days before, and we had a more in-depth chat. I agreed that she could submit my CV to whatever firms she thought was appropriate but let her know that it was already going to this firm I’d spoken to someone else about in the morning, so don’t submit it there. She said hm, interesting, she usually did hiring for them. 20 minutes later I got a call back from her – her usual person said they hadn’t had my CV yet, so she’d beaten the other company to get it in. Ha! Vicious! I kind of like her.

    Then, in the evening, I get an email from her saying that the partner is interested and wants to know my scores for the exams that I’ve failed. (I’ve passed six and failed two – not ideal but pretty normal.) I sent them to her, and she said it might be a problem because one of my failure scores was below the cut-off for most firms offering me a new training contract. But not to lose hope because clearly the partner was interested, and would I be open to switching to a different/less prestigious accounting body to continue my certification?

    So now I just feel like an unemployable failure. Which I know isn’t true. But man do I feel like crap. This is an emotional roller coaster.

    1. Emmie*

      It is an emotional roller coaster, but every no gets you closer to a yes. It means you’re trying and haven’t given up. These no’s are a reflection of the kind of needs that an employer has, and not your worth as a candidate or a person. The job I found was one I applied to without too much thought, and I enjoy it. Good luck, don’t be too hard on yourself, and it gets better!

    2. Blue Anne*

      And I’ve just been contacted for an interview Monday night. Who even knows. Well this is exciting!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Roller coasters go down then up. When you hit a down, expect an up to come along.
        I think anyone who is very active in looking for work is going to feel the roller coastering a lot. Keep your eyes on the goal.

  35. LPBB*

    I’m in the process of applying to a job and I need a little advice/reassurance. This particular job is looking for a combination of experience from two very unrelated fields that I actually happen to possess. Let’s say that the job is curating a collection of teapot handles, so they want people who have curating experience and experience making teapot handles.

    However, all my teapot handle making is from 15 years ago and my resume only goes back about 12 years, because that experience has never relevant before. Should I add the handle making experience to my resume or just discuss it in the cover letter? I already added it and it doesn’t add too much length to the resume (I go from 1.5 pages to 2), but I’m concerned it looks weird to go back that far on a resume.

    My brain is very good at coming up with Rules That Must Be Obeyed Regardless of Reality and I would prefer not to fall into that trap this time!

    1. Karowen*

      Alison has mentioned something before where work experience is split into two pieces: relevant work experience & other. Maybe something like that could work for you?

    2. Judy*

      I would make sure it is on the resume. We interviewed someone last week who mentioned his experience in spout design from about 3 years ago, yet there was a gap in the resume then. It just seemed odd.

    3. mander*

      I have this problem right now, or at least, a similar one. I’m working on an application for a job that asks specifically for the last 10 years. One very relevant job is more like 15 years ago. Do I just put it on there, because it’s relevant? Or does that make it look like I can’t follow instructions because it’s a bit too old?

      And then there’s the aspect of the job that I do know something about, but mostly because I did a similar thing as an undergraduate 20-something years ago. I figure I will probably not mention that except in an interview, and only list my more-recent but less-relevant experience on the application/CV. Not sure if this is the best approach, though!

  36. Apprehensive*

    Hi all! Longtime reader, first-time writer. In two weeks, my supervisor of nearly two years (the only one I’ve had at this job) will be retiring. So far, we have no idea who will replace her, though it’s looking as though it will be someone from a different branch or even an outside hire, as each of the senior people who are qualified to replace her are not interested in moving into her position (which is quite different than what we “supervisees” do on a daily basis). My question is, has anyone else been nervous about the prospect of a new boss, especially one you don’t know? How did the transition go? Was it ever so bad that you quit? What are some pointers for getting established with a new supervisor, especially when working in a mostly remote position? Thanks in advance ;)

    1. afiendishthingy*

      yes, still kind of in this position. Three months after the head of my department left the agency, my coworkers and I still occasionally joke “WHERE’S WAKEEN??” anytime a weird complicated problem comes up. He wasn’t my direct supervisor but he was the go-to guy for so much, and he was very kind and very funny in way that helped defuse tense situations. His replacement started last week, I’ve had very little contact with him so far but he seems all right? But yeah, it’s definitely stressful!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It can go either way- it can be good or it can be not so good. Yeah, everyone experiences some level of nervousness or concern and that makes sense. It’s your job, your work place, and this is a substantial change.

      People do quit when the leadership changes. I remember vaguely reading a study on that. The study pointed out that some folks do not like leadership change of any sort. But if you go to a new job, you will have to deal with a new-to-you leader there. I always took a wait and see attitude. I found it helpful to remember how I have felt starting a new job- your new boss probably has similar stuff going on.
      No, I have never quit because of a new boss being a jerk. Most of the time the new boss was a bit better. Each boss has things they do well. This tends to look like, “Gee, Old Boss never did X and now New Boss does it all the time and this is better.”

      Sometimes the Old Boss gets to meet the New Boss and she can let you know her impressions.

      Welcome her. Offer to help out where you can. And if you do have an awkward conversation with her, hold it in the best possible light until you find out otherwise. In other words, cut her the slack you hope she gives you.

      1. catsAreCool*

        All of what Not So NewReader said. Not So NewReader, you said a lot of what I was thinking, only you said it better.

    3. Num Lock*

      I went through this about 1.5 years ago. We had an incredible manager whose shoes would’ve been hard to fill by anyone, frankly. I was not nervous, but I’ve never had a poor working relationship with a boss before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. A large chunk of the reason I’m looking to move on is because of New Manager. New Manager is a nice person, but we don’t gel, and the lack of opportunities here and organizational chaos from other areas seals the deal.

      Some changes implemented right before New Manager started were swamping me, so I asked for assistance. I failed to be specific with what I needed assistance with, and New Manager didn’t ask, so that was miscommunicated into, “take all the responsibilities away.” So now I’m bored because there’s little for me to do. My suggestion is to be painfully clear on what is working and what’s not and have an individual meeting ASAP. I didn’t attempt to set up time to meet with New Manager at first because I was swamped, and I figured they were too busy trying to get trained up and they’d contact me when they were ready. (So naive of me, I know.) New Manager kept putting it all off. By time time we finally connected to discuss what I did, where I was going here and what my strengths/weaknesses/challenges were, SEVERAL months later and well after everyone else, New Manager seemed disinterested in me as an employee, and I was, frankly, offended that I had been pushed to the bottom of the calendar so many times. Like, deciding which brand of pens to order is more important than me? OKAY THEN. It didn’t go well. I would’ve been more understanding if New Manager said they needed more time to evaluate what I did, but no. Endless reschedules of our meetings.

      New Manager’s rating of my skills and abilities is lower than Old Manager. Not totally unexpected given our relationship and what I’m allowed to do now, but disheartening and frustrating, since New Manager came from a different area of expertise where people in my role do not have the level of responsibility and job duties that I had prior. I’ve found it almost impossible to get trainings approved if I’m even made aware of opportunities, make progress on goals that require New Manager’s assistance/buy in and even get feedback on my performance from New Manager. Overall, I’m fine with New Manager as a person, but our only communication is for absences or whatever new thing I’m not supposed to do. (I almost never need a manager for anything to complete my job.) I’ve given up and am pursing my own path to exit the organization.

      In short, if you can get even 20 minutes with the person to go over in detail what you do, what is working, what isn’t working, where you’d like to in your company and grow your skills (and continue anything that your previous manager was doing) and develop a good relationship… DO IT. I should’ve pushed harder to get time on the calendar.

    4. AnotherFed*

      I’ve gone through this a couple of times now. At first, it was nerve racking, but even with the bad ones, the world mostly keeps on chugging. Once it really sucked – the new supervisor was very personable and agreeable, but when it came time to follow through on anything, he never did. Once it was awesome – he listened, happily handed over tools to solve problems or weighed in we when needed help, and really pushed to get us the people and equipment we needed. Others have been somewhere in the middle.

      When you get a new supervisor, try to have a kickoff/initial meeting with them where you lay out your responsibilities and major tasks/events. Assume that if you don’t tell them what’s expected of you for your projects, they won’t know what all you’re doing, especially if different people at the same level or title end up working on projects with varying scopes or have different responsibilities. Also ask what their style is for keeping in touch – do they want you to travel in for in-person meetings on a regular schedule, do they want a quick phone call, do they just want the highlights in a weekly status email and anything critical in a phone call, etc.

  37. Regular anon*

    Has anyone heard of Federal workers not being allowed to telework for the first year? I thought the Feds were encouraging it! This is for a division of NIH, which is particularly telework-friendly. I might have to decline if they offer me a position, because I’m currently teleworking while visiting my father while he recovers from surgery. (You regulars probably know who this is, and that’s fine, I just want plausible deniability.) I’m wondering whether this is a department or IC policy, or whether it’s for all of DHHS and I’ve just never heard it before.

    1. Regular anon*

      Dammit! It sounds gov’t-wide. Why can’t they just make it discretionary? I’m in a position where everything I do can be done from anywhere! I really don’t think I can take a year of working to a strict schedule, not after having such a flexible schedule. I feel like now I want them to lowball me, so I can turn them down without agonizing over it.

      1. Christy*

        Are you already a federal employee? There might be some leeway if you’re transitioning from one federal job to another.

        1. Regular anon*

          Nope! That also means that my leave will start at the minimum, and I’ve been with my current company for many years, enough to max out my leave. But the Feds offer more generous leave policies in general, plus pension and TSP matching, so there’s that. But the telework and leave might be dealbreakers. :|

          1. Christy*

            13 days of annual, 13 days of sick, and 10 federal holidays really isn’t bad, though, if you ask me. Plus it’s only three years until you get 20 days of annual, which is four weeks, which feels like a lot. (Note: if you’re intending on parental leave that can be a big dealkiller, so be aware for that.)

            I understand a year may be a dealkiller. But imho it can be worth that year.

    2. AnotherFed*

      The one year rule is pretty universal for the federal government – I think it unofficially goes with the one year probationary period.

      That said, exceptions can be made for newer employees, especially in the event of a medical situation (helping take care of your father would probably qualify), but it would be up to your agency and you’d absolutely want to negotiate that as part of the job offer.

      However, it sounds like you’d want more than just the occasional telework day (2 per pay period is the normal allowed, at least where I work), so you might be expecting different levels of telework than the government tends to offer even to people who are not probationary. In that case, you’d likely do better exploring one of the alternate work schedules, which I’ve seen people combine with telework to spend only 3 days a week in DC while living as far away as Indiana or North Carolina.

  38. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m having the most interesting experience with my husband.

    First, as background, you should know that I managed to marry someone who isn’t super interested in workplace/management issues (I mean, he’s interested in what I do, but I wouldn’t say he has a strong independent interest outside of that). He’s worked for his family company for years, and it’s very much its own world, as family companies often are. And this is a dude who really would rather be out of an office and just making art anyway.

    Anyway, they’ve had some staffing changes and he’s been asked to take on some HR work. And he’s freaked out — it’s not an area he knows about, he’s convinced he’s going to make a mistake that will be a major liability for the company, and plus there’s the whole “just let me make art” thing in his soul, which is basically the exact opposite of HR. So he’s concerned.

    I, of course, am totally excited because I feel like I can just tell him everything he needs to know and it will be fine. I’m convinced I can write up an HR cheat sheet that will cover all the basics he needs to know* (I’ve outlined it already and I’m very excited about it), although he inexplicably does not seem excited about reading it. Also, he’s had to start doing some initial phone screens, so I created an awesome interview script for him to use. And … now he has questions about phone interviewing, which is incredibly gratifying for me: He’s asking me stuff like how much you should account for the possibility of nerves when someone doesn’t do a great interview, and what to do when a candidate asks a question you don’t know the answer to, and all the little minutiae of hiring work that I love dissecting and that’s never been a topic between us before.

    I guess it’s like if you were a big opera fan and your spouse suddenly became willing to learn about opera and go to operas with you. (It could all terribly backfire and destroy our marriage, of course, but so far, it’s greatly gratifying.)

    * Obligatory mention I have never worked in HR and never want to work in HR, despite people constantly categorizing me as an HR blogger. Management ≠ HR.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      this is very cool because it’s like a wave ripple – if you teach Mr AAM this then when he leaves the job to create art at some future point he will be able to pass along all this knowledge to the next person.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      A few years ago I was invited to join an IT project team. Although my role on the project wasn’t technical, I needed to have a decent understanding of what was happening. My husband is in tech and knew all about the tools, features, etc that I was encountering. We both enjoyed our new commonality and his expertise was invaluable to me while I was working on the project.

      In retrospect, I think it was kind of a bad thing that I had him helping me throughout the project. It made me look like I was far more competent in that area than I was – or than I wished to be! As a result, I started getting assigned to similar projects, many of which were outside my interest or career goals.

    3. Ama*

      Hee, I haven’t had that with an SO, but my first job out of college I helped do billing for a therapy practice. My dad, who had that point was 20 years into a career as an accountant with expertise in medical insurance/billing, was *so excited* that someone in the family suddenly had opinions about co-insurance, diagnostic codes, etc. This was also during the period that HIPAA went into effect so we had many conversations that I’m sure he never thought he’d have when I decided to major in English.

    4. CM*

      I totally get your excitement about this — not that I want my husband to become a lawyer, but it would be awesome if he suddenly wanted to know all sorts of things that I know! (Instead of rolling his eyes about how boring my job is.) Plus, I, like you, love giving advice.

    5. Lillian McGee*

      Oh man. Mr. McGee is a train conductor which sounds really cool but when he starts talking about trains my eyes glaze over. It is just as boring as listening to a guy talk about cars. But every time a new engine shows up in the train yard I have to nod and smile lovingly as he describes it to me…

      1. Gene*

        I had a friend like that. I remember once driving 100+ miles at night so he could see a new engine go by. That was the closest it was going to get to us.

        Good luck when he retires…

      2. mander*

        You have my sympathy. My husband is a train nerd (fortunately not into keeping a little book of all the serial numbers of trains he’s seen or standing around in the rain for hours to take a photo of a specific engine or whatever), and over the years I’ve been forced to learn far more about trains than I ever wanted to know. He also loves looking at timetables and route maps. Yawn.

        On the plus side, he’s like a walking journey planner. He also knows a lot of little tricks that don’t show up in the official online planners that can make a journey easier and/or cheaper. Especially handy to have when in London!

    6. Brett*

      I do niche technical work that is related more broadly to databases. My wife is a performing arts teachers.

      At work, she was handed the responsibility of creating, maintaining, and training all other staff on a database system to track everyone’s students and integrate it with quickbooks for financial tracking. This was way beyond her skillset and just inside of mine.

      So, with her boss’ approval I sat down with her at work for ~12 hours over a weekend and we put the entire thing together. (Her boss wanted to pay me, but that would have put me in violation of my workplace’s secondary employment policy.) My wife designed all the training and basically ran herself through it over and over until she had everything down cold. She ended up learning how to write sql queries, use APIs, and design interfaces; when she runs into something too difficult she asks me for help.

      She still hates dealing with databases (and really hates dealing with her co-workers screwing up the database no matter how much validation we put in), but has a much better understanding and appreciation of what I do now. I actually understand what she does now a whole lot better too since I had to help her create data models of her workplace.

    7. Cath in Canada*

      When I moved in with my husband after we’d been dating for a couple of years, I found a book called something like “Bluff your way in science” stuffed in the back of a closet. I asked him about it, and he confessed that he’d bought it as soon as we started dating! Super cute.

      I also once taught him about telomeres (cap structures at the ends of chromosomes that prevent them from fusing or getting damaged – like the little plastic things on the ends of shoelaces), and then overheard him enthusiastically telling someone else about them few months later. Made me smile!

  39. Anon for this*

    I don’t want to get into details but I’m dealing with a very sexist environment sometimes I feel like things may be sexual harassment but not extreme and mostly verbal. Men constantly ask me on dates, use the women’s restroom after being told not to, use vulgar sexually explicit words, one coworker tells me details of his sex life after I’ve told him to stop repeatedly, one coworker told me managers were going to try to have affairs with me… There’s much more actually but to keep anonimity lets keep with those examples. I don’t feel unsafe or anything. It’s a small company and its a long story but the owner who is my boss well she is very ill and has been out of the office for months

    Looking for another job isn’t an option right now due to some job hopping in the past

    Does anyone have any advice on dealing with this? I just don’t really know what to do some scripts have worked but mostly they have not due to general unprofessionalism

    1. Businesslady*

      That really sucks, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      For any of the interpersonal stuff (being asked out, TMI anecdotes and gossip, etc.) can you just shut it down–to the point of actively walking away if the person won’t stop? “I don’t date coworkers; sorry!” or “Dude, gross, I really don’t need to hear about that,” and then just literally relocate your body if they don’t relent, calling over your shoulder “this conversation is over!” I mean, they could theoretically chase you down, but at that point they’re gonna look pretty ridiculous and that’s going to make the whole ordeal a lot more public.

      The bathroom thing is probably harder to track, but you could call people out if you happen to catch them in the act, or escalate any cleanliness issues to the person responsible for maintenance. (For the record, I am very much NOT in favor of bathroom-gender policing when it’s wielded against trans* people, but this sounds like an instance of cis men being obnoxious and I’m 100% on board with holding them accountable in this context.)

    2. Erin*

      That’s tough. The best advice I can think of is to shut it down in the moment when it happens. Pick a few go-to phrases you like and stick with them, repeating as necessary.

      “I don’t take coworkers.” “I’d prefer not to hear that at work, thanks.” “That’s not appropriate for work.” “Please don’t use that language.” Physically walk away if you’re able to.

      And WTF with the bathroom? Maybe you should start using the men’s room.

    3. Adam V*

      Is there not an HR department (or a higher-up who’s in charge of HR) who you can take this to? I mean, at the very least, couldn’t someone send an email around saying “seriously, guys, stay out of the ladies room or you’re fired.”?

      This seems like an actual hostile workplace, since all these things are happening to you due to your gender – anyone with HR training should realize this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I know you’re saying you don’t feel unsafe, but it really sounds like the very definition of a hostile work environment in a sexist way. If you call it “a very sexist environment” and say you “feel like things may be sexual harassment,” it is sexual harassment, and it’s illegal. That doesn’t you have to bring a lawsuit or quit right away, but you should recognize that your feelings that it is sexist and not okay are legit. I wish I had some super practical advice for you. I wish you all the strength…