open thread – October 9, 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 :)

{ 1,018 comments… read them below }

  1. Boston admin*

    So glad to get in early! I work full time and go to graduate school part time but I was wondering if anyone had any advice on being a little quicker on their feet when speaking about something. This advice would be particularly useful in grad school. I like to think before I speak for fear I might be wrong, but I find myself more like a sponge and like to observe what is around me and then formulate later. I am also the person in class who is thinking the right answer but doesn’t say it and then kicks herself later!

    My papers are always excellent and e-mails well thought out but I can’t seem to have the language quickly accessible when wanting to speak up in class or a meeting, I am always afraid I sound dumb. I so have an outgoing, funny, personality but just can’t seem to convey my intelligence that well. Has anyone struggled and gotten better at this and how?

    I am a female in my mid twenties.

    1. Traveller*

      Practice, practice, practice!

      “Table Topics” as per Toastmasters is great for this.

      You are given a topic, question etc and asked to speak for 1.5-2mins with no prep.

      1. Florida*

        I would second Toastmasters. If you go to one club and don’t like it, try another club. Each club has it’s own personality. One thing that I have consistent among most clubs, however, is that they are welcoming, want to help people learn, but also want to challenge you. They won’t ridicule you when you fall flat on your face. Instead, they will show you how to avoid falling on your face again. I can’t say enough good things about Toastmasters.

      2. catsAreCool*

        I agree with Traveller and Florida. I joined Toastmasters a few years ago, and Table Topics helps with this.

    2. Barbara in Swampeast*

      When you do the readings for a class, try to relate what you are reading to something that the teacher has said in class. Write out your comment(s) and practice them. Depending on how the teacher leads the discussion you may be able to get your comment(s) in at the beginning.

      After you read the assignment, think about what you consider the most important points and write down comments you can share in class. Go over your notes and see if there are topics or themes your teacher likes and try to write out comments that address those. Practice saying the comments out loud several times so it doesn’t sound like you are reading them. Then be ready to use your comments when they are appropriate.

      1. oldfashionedlovesong*

        I definitely second writing out your comments beforehand. And also know that it’s okay to *not* speak up in class all the time! There was always that person in my grad school classes who seemed to say things just because they thought they needed to say things, and it was unfortunate how that often didn’t add much to the conversation or sometimes even actively derailed it. I’m not saying you would be that person, just that it is a thing that does happen.

        If you are worried that your professor doesn’t recognize your engagement, drop into/make an appointment for office hours! (If you can, with your work schedule). That will give you more time for a conversation that will allow you to show your understanding, as well as dive a little deeper into your professor’s expertise on the subject, and also establish a good rapport.

    3. Kelly L.*

      I got better at this and it was actually via the internet! Basically, I always had funny stuff rattling around my head, but could never manage to say it in time, to the point that my then-boyfriend told me “you’re just not witty, but that’s OK.” I started hanging out on internet forums and making humorous comments there. (a) it felt less awkward because no one knew me or could see me, and (b) it was less time-sensitive. I could see a comment and reply to it hours after it had been posted. Eventually, gradually, this translated into being able to say stuff faster and in person. I have no idea if this is helpful though.

    4. Jerzy*

      This sounds like it may be an issue of confidence. It’d be easy to say that you have to just stop being worried about being wrong, but it’s harder to put that into practice. I think the place you can start is by asking yourself what the worst thing that could result from you saying something that is wrong. Really run through the absolute worst-case scenario in your head and let yourself feel the embarrassment, or whatever. Try this and let yourself see that being wrong now and then, even in public, in full view of your classmates and professors, is not the end of the world. You’re a smart woman. Be confident in that.

    5. Dawn*

      “I am always afraid I sound dumb. I so have an outgoing, funny, personality but just can’t seem to convey my intelligence that well.”

      You don’t sound dumb. You’re unsure of yourself and so your self-doubt makes you think you sound dumb. I am the *exact* same way. I will go to a party with friends and have an awesome time and then spend the entirety of the ride home and the rest of the night worrying if things I said sounded stupid. I’ve been working with my therapist on this for a while and am getting better! One of the things she has said to me that helps a ton is that EVERYONE THINKS THEY SOUND DUMB. She said that she’s seen all kinds of people in her practice over the years- doctors, lawyers, journalists, really prominent people in really visible high impact positions- and that they *all* feel dumb from time to time, or worry that they say dumb things, or think that they’re not as good as people think they are. I took a lot of comfort in knowing that!

      1. Anonacademic*

        If it’s any consolation I have a ph.d. And I worry often about saying something dumb/wrong. Education doesn’t cure imposter syndrome!

    6. Snork Maiden*

      As a 30 year old woman with the same issue – I sound funny and great online, but feel like I’m just lumbering around like a word zombie in real life – I can empathize with you. I deal with it in a couple of ways:
      – Saying yes to more speaking, interviews, classes, and on-the-fly interaction. I think it’s a skill, and like many skills, practice makes you better and more comfortable.
      – Being comfortable comes with acquiring more knowledge and getting older. I’m more confident than I was two years ago, and I feel less *need* to prove myself which can often tie your tongue.
      – Other people are faking it too, while you’re sitting there second-guessing. If you do go ahead and speak and you’re wrong, if you can accept correction graciously and adapt, that’s a great skill that not everyone can develop.
      – Also, you may be too hard on yourself. I know I can be like “Ugh how did you say that, Snork, that was the absolute worst thing to say!” and then subsequently trip yourself up. It’s like figure skating, you gotta pick up after that botched triple axel and keep going with the program. Also, working full time and going to grad school? That’s pretty hard! Being on point in class after a full day of work is tough.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Also–those of us listening are really listening to your POINT (esp. in class), so we don’t care that much about the delivery.

    7. AnotherHRPro*

      I actually have the exact opposite problem. I’ve received feedback to always pause before I share an opinion (to allow others to speak up). I rarely hesitate to share my thoughts as I’ve always believed that my employer pays me good money for my thoughts. But I do understand that it is important to also get others perspectives and by sharing my own thinking it may hinder conversation.

      Anyway, my advice to you is to remember that your thoughts are valuable. At work and at school. People learn from each other and your thoughts (even if not fully formed) can help further a conversation/idea/etc. You say that you fear being thought of as dumb, but by stay silent you are not proving your intelligent either.

    8. themmases*

      I am a fairly shy grad student and really you just need to practice. There is nothing worse than needing references later and feeling like you have a lot of one-sided relationships in your department because the instructors who had an impact on you may not even remember you. Try raising your hand when you’ve only 80% worded your answer. The vast majority of the time, what you are saying will not be ridiculous or even wrong. Even if it is speaking up more often will give you a lot of chances to outweigh that one silly thing. You may start to notice lots of lulls in classes where everyone is wondering the same thing or the instructor is waiting for someone to answer.

      You can even try it yourself by saying something ridiculous… One time I was so close to laughter during a lecture on men’s health that the lecturer finally asked me what was up. The topic reminded me of a hilarious graph we’d all seen the day before (Google image search “condom distribution graph”, you will know it when you see it) so I just admitted it. She thought that was kind of weird, people who remembered the graph thought it was funny, I probably looked crazy, the sky didn’t fall in.

      For your thesis/research interests/career goals you should really just come up with an elevator pitch even if you have to write a few drafts of it to really get it in your head. I now sometimes have the problem that I give people a more concise elevator pitch than they really need.

    9. misspiggy*

      One way to practice is to try to keep two tracks going in your mind while in a class. One is tracking what’s being said, and one is tracking and crystallising your reaction to it. Taking dual notes is helpful. Not easy at first, but as you get better it becomes easier to formulate and examine the question or answer you want to put forward, in time for it to be relevant. It’s a very useful skill for work meetings later on!

      1. TootsNYC*

        then again, people who do this (like me) may miss out on some of the cogitation and absorption that is so very valuable.

        (Me, I talk in order to think, which can be really crippling and annoying. Sometimes I’d rather be like you.)

    10. Honeybee*

      I had trouble with this early in graduate school and I actually wrote down comments while I was reading the material. I used sticky notes and wrote a comment in roughly the language I would use to say it, then stuck it in the book or on the reading at roughly the the place it was responding to. Sometimes I planned out 3-4 comments I was going to say – I wouldn’t say them all, but they would help me just in case one or two of the comments got passed by or someone else said them.

      1. TootsNYC*

        This would make sense for me, as a verbal learner–because it would help me crystallize and absorb right at the moment. I think that could be valuable for everyone!

    11. Rookie Biz Chick*

      Maybe try a public speaking group like ToastMasters – your grad school may have a club or program similar. I had the same issue years ago, and for me it was less about confidence and more about trying to train my brain to connect thoughts to words at the right time! I was diligent about finding ways to get into networking activities and low-key speaking events. Observe others and practice at home.

    12. AnonEMoose*

      You might find it easier, at first, to expand on or ask a question about what someone else has already said. Even if your thought isn’t fully formulated, sometimes that’s a really valuable way to expand a discussion. That’s one way to get your voice out there, and get more accustomed to speaking, but may not feel as risky.

      To be clear, it needs to be more than “I agree with that” or “me, too.” Something more like this. Say your classmate Geraldine compares the character of Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to a trickster, such as Coyote in some Native American mythologies. You could expand on that by mentioning similarities to Loki, for example, and how the character of Oberon compares to Odin.

      Or ask Geraldine about any other trickster figures she feels share common traits with Puck.

      Or whatever is appropriate to your field of study, but I think you get the idea.

    13. LibbyG*

      I think what a lot of people are doing, particularly in a classroom, is thinking out loud. So if you want to be more visible you could try psyching yourself up to jump in, starting with something like, “Jane’s point makes me think of X issue, in that they both relate to Y … .” You can just let your thoughts unspool as you go. If you run out of steam — that’s fine! An incomplete thought is often a GREAT contribution to an academic or problem-solving conversation, and identifying an important connection, even if you can’t quite explain it, makes you look smart.

      It might be helpful to closely observe someone who strikes you as thoughtful, like yourself, but who is more comfortable thinking out loud a little. He or she probably uses some language to indicate that they’re thinking as they go. You could try their approach on and see how it fits.

    14. Book Person*

      This depends entirely on the culture of your graduate program, but: don’t be afraid to be wrong. If you miss the point of something, or someone disagrees with you, it will open things up for debate/comment/rebuttal. You can then reinforce your own point of view with whatever evidence led you to your original conclusion, or agree with the correction.

      This worked for me, but then my cohort was told day one that being respectful and constructive was mandatory, and anyone who tried to tear someone down to make themselves look smarter would only reflect poorly on themselves. However, a friend of mine from my MA year who went on to do a PhD at another institution had the opposite experience, where her cohort was encourage to sharpen their intellectual claws on each other. So definitely reflect on how discussions in your course tend to go before taking the “speak and don’t worry about being wrong” tack.

    15. Lora*

      I am a slow processor, that’s just the way I am. I embrace it, because I know that when my thoughts are cohesive, I will be able to communicate exactly what I would like, in a way that conveys to the listener the emotions and thoughts needed. My supervisor has commented and complemented me time and again on speaking to a subject elegantly, accurately and thoroughly (her words not mine). Sometimes people are so quick to speak that what they say is not very well thought out at all and is not what they mean to say. In some cultures a pause before replying is seen as a good thing, and in good taste. I would say, don’t worry about it so much.

    16. L*

      I’m a 20 something woman with a PhD, and I completely relate to what you wrote about needing time to reflect, sounding more intelligent on paper, and not being able to find exactly the write words on the spot.

      Here’s what I think: You need practice, and you can’t get that practice if you over-prepare in advance for every situation in which you might be put on the spot. The key is probably to find lower-stakes situations so there aren’t dire consequences if you wing it and screw up. Acknowledge to yourself that it’s going to suck, but force yourself to practice. (I improved by teaching. You prep the basic material, but you can’t possibly script everything you say in a 90 minute class!)

      P.S. Grad school is so hypercritical that you can feel like you are making a permanent impression any time you open your mouth. But in my experience, faculty members are so busy and interact with so many people, they really don’t remember most of what students say. If you are consistently writing great papers and getting a good balance of positive and critical feedback from professors, that can be a good way to build your reputation. (YMMV depending on what field you are in.)

    17. The Zone Of Avoidance*

      It would for sure be good for you to learn to speak up, but also I would caution you: one really intelligent, incisive remark is worth 50 average, so-so remarks. I remember being in college, and there were some people who just couldn’t seem to keep their mouths shut. You could actually hear other people in the class groaning when they’d pipe up.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      “I like to think before I speak for fear I might be wrong, but I find myself more like a sponge and like to observe what is around me and then formulate later. I am also the person in class who is thinking the right answer but doesn’t say it and then kicks herself later!”

      I am looking at this one piece at a time.

      It’s good to think before you speak, nothing wrong here. The problem is the fear of being wrong. Why not just tell yourself that there will be times where you are indeed wrong. Now what? I have done the “oh, I see what you’re saying now” type of response and some time you can just nod and say “oh, okay” and that is enough. I felt the most freedom when I decided that if I said something and the situation warranted an apology, then I would just apologize.

      Afraid of sounding dumb. Keeping your mouth closed does not insure everyone will think you are intelligent. Matter of fact, if you are too quiet for too long, people will think that you don’t have much to contribute. So the fear of sounding dumb is basically an illusion, don’t fall for it.
      What I have done, that helped me, was I watched how the people and the prof reacted to someone else. I was quieter in classes where rudeness was overlooked, like it was okay to be rude. (One class I changed to a independent study because the people were so rude. The prof agreed that it was one of the worst classes he ever had.) I spoke up more often in classes where the prof/class were receptive to conversation.

      Feeling like a sponge. Okay, I can get into that one. I love to just sit and soak up what others are talking about and skim the cream off the top to make it my own. NOT a good idea. It’s a bad habit to get into because things will not go well in work places if you are just sucking up ideas and not putting in ideas of your own. Additionally, interaction is how we truly grow and learn. When we participate and step out side our own thoughts it tends to make us broader thinkers.

      I am a big fan of doing autopsies on conversations. I use my time going home or going to work to think about a conversation. What did I like about how I handled it? And what could I do better on? These little autopsies were so very helpful. See, it’s not just about being right or wrong. It’s also about keeping your personality and values intact by being consistent and being sincere. And it’s about getting used to the sound of your own “professional” voice.

      P.S. Humor and friendliness are also forms of intelligence. It might not be the kind of intelligence you value personally, but some people who do not have these natural abilities want intelligence in those areas.

  2. Nony for this even though it's a general Q*

    When do you tell your current manager you’ve applied to another internal position?

    The inter webs tell me that it should be once I get the interview, because otherwise what’s the point? Yay or nay? I have only applied and have yet to be contacted by the other manager.

    I have a feeling my manager already knows because everyone knows everything about everyone in this company. Well…at least I know everything because I’m friends with the Gretchen Wieners of the company and it’s great. Gretchen has told me that the other manager wants me on her team. I digress….

    I like to think I have a good, maybe even great, relationship with my manager and she would be happy for me to try something new. [The position would currently be a what I would consider a “west northwest move”, slightly better but also mostly lateral. I say currently because it could be reclassified up.] However, the last 3 times a coworker has left, the relationship went south so I’m a little apprehensive to tell her. I like the way things are now and I’d be sad if it were all a facade.

    1. Virginian*

      When the previous three co-workers left, was it for an internal or external position? Since you’re applying for an internal position, you boss may already know, depending on her relationship with the other managers in your company. You could mention to her that you’re interested in the position, but if you want to play it safe, bring it up if you get the interview.

      1. Nony for this even though it's a general Q*

        One was internal. The other 2 external.

        The one that has switched units maintains a cold, distant relationship. They’ll say hi in the hallway type of thing.

    2. Sadsack*

      There may be a policy in place, you should check. Where I work, you must tell your manager when you apply for another position.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      Tell your manager now if you think she will find out. It is best to hear it directly from you.

    4. Jubilance*

      Does your company have a policy? I’ve worked at companies where after applying for an internal position, your manager would receive an automated email saying that you applied. In general I think it’s a good idea to give them a heads up, because most likely the hiring manager is going to reach out to your manager to ask questions about you. You don’t want them to be blindsided when they get that call/email.

      1. Nony for this even though it's a general Q*

        I’m unsure. Searching my company’s HR manual is a full time job in itself.

        I don’t even know what keyword to use. We have a branch of internal medicine, so whenever I search “internal applicant” it displays 50 pages for medical residents. Haha, that’s not me!

    5. Juli G.*

      Right away. This could be just one corporate culture but here it’s 1. Look at resume 2. Call current manager or HR for the area that person works in, depending on where the relationship is best. In most situations, you risk a lot more by not telling your manager first.

      1. Lore*

        Our policy is just the opposite–it explicitly states that your manager will not be contacted until you’ve met with both HR and the hiring manager and determined that there’s still mutual interest. So if I were to go ahead and alert my manager, meet with HR, and then (as happened to me once) have the hiring manager decide she wanted someone with a different background, it would have screwed me worse.

    6. CollegeAdmin*

      I have twice applied for internal positions. The college has a policy (apparently) that if one manager/department wants to recruit someone from another manager/department, Manager A must approach Manager B and let them know. With that said:

      Position 1: The manager for the job, Wakeen, did not want to deal with my managers and was concerned for me if my managers found out I was applying. (He was right to be, particularly for one of them.) Thus, Wakeen asked HR to approach me and “unofficially” ask me to apply. I did, and they promised to keep the search confidential. When I was invited to the second round of interviews, Wakeen and HR asked me if my managers should be looped in; I said absolutely not, because one of my managers had specifically told me I was “not allowed” to apply (not knowing that I already had, and she had no leg to stand on to say that). It was kept confidential, but the position ended up being put on hold and nothing came of it.

      Position 2: The manager for this job, Bob, approached my managers’ manager, who said that Bob could recruit me. He pitched me the job description, and I applied. I also asked that my managers not be informed until absolutely necessary (for same reasons as above) and Bob agreed to keep it quiet. I didn’t tell my managers until I had the offer in hand and had accepted it. One manager was very supportive, the other flipped her lid – “I didn’t even know you were looking! Bob should have contacted [managers’ manager] first!” She was pissed to hear that Bob had done so and she hadn’t been informed.

      What this all boils down to: Know your company, and know your boss. Also, ask for confidentiality if you need it – Wakeen, HR, and Bob all knew what I was dealing with and had no problem keeping quiet for me.

      1. Nony for this even though it's a general Q*

        A large university “owns” my company, so they are the people I would turn to for policies. By using “apparently” I take it you have had the same experience as me – HR is confusing as heck. I can’t find simple answers to simple questions including this one!

      2. Juli G.*

        This is so incredibly unhealthy. Your HR department is helping you sneak around your unreasonable managers instead of coaching them, disciplining them or firing them. If we had a manager that was blocking an employee or retaliating against them for applying and HR knew, it would be at the very least verbally addressed.

    7. These are the droids*

      I told my manager when I got the interview, as I wanted to be able to use her as a reference and also give her a heads up (plus I’m quite happy where I’m at, just this was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse to at least look at, and wanted to tell her that). But we have a good relationship and the organization we work for is large, where people often move from position to position as they go up different union phases for more money and responsibility.

    8. Mike C.*

      I’m not saying anything until I have an offer in my hand, but this is largely dependent on company culture.

    9. The Expendable Redshirt*

      My current job was an internal transfer. I told my supervisor of the application position the day after I submitted it. There were a few factors involved with this…
      1) Healthy company atmosphere. The organization encourages internal applications and keeping good talent within the organization.
      2) Old Job was low ranking-entry level. It’s expected that we will move on or up.
      3) Old Supervisor knew I was looking for areas to grow within the company.
      4) The Old Supervisor and I got along well.
      5) There was a positive history of other coworkers transitioning to new roles without workplace relationships going south.
      6) I’d previously applied for another job within the company. When I wasn’t picked, I continued to function at Entry Level Job just fine. The supervisor was okay with things.

      Hope that helps!

      1. The Expendable Redshirt*

        That should read….
        I told my supervisor of the application the day after I submitted it. *lol*

  3. JustKeepSwimming*

    Does anyone else have an issue with coworkers from other floors using the bathroom of your floor?

    I work in a 14 story government office building. Each and every floor has its own bathroom (all of which are identical, none is nicer than the others) but my floormates and I have noticed a lot of unfamiliar faces in our bathrooms. And these aren’t people who come to meet with someone on our floor who happen to be using the bathroom. I’ve seen people come from the stairs or the elevator, use our bathroom, and then return to their own floor. There’s a guy who comes from another floor every morning to brush his teeth in our men’s room and then go back to wherever he came from. All the bathrooms in our building are working fine so it’s not a matter of one floor’s facilities being out of order and going elsewhere to get business done. People specifically come here to relieve themselves.

    Why? I don’t get it! Do they not want to do it in front of the people they work with every single day, preferring other floors with those they don’t work in close quarters with? That’s the only thing I can think of and even that doesn’t make sense. It’s like that classic books says: Everybody poops! There’s no need to hide it!

    I know this isn’t really a thing we can put a stop to; I just want to know if this is common in other offices, because I’ve never seen it before, and most of my co-workers have been making comments too on the weirdness of it.

    1. dancer*

      It happens sometimes in my office because the 2nd floor has more women proportionally than the first floor. Apparently the second floor women’s bathroom can get kind of gross, so they come down to use the one here. Can’t say if the men do the reverse.

      1. Sadsack*

        Also, sometimes one wants to go where they do not see familiar faces, wanting some privacy in a way.

        1. dancer*

          Haha, well in my case, it’s a small company so everyone knows everyone. If that’s what they’re trying to do, it probably isn’t working!

      2. BRR*

        I had this at my old job. My floor had a ton more men than the other floors and a smaller bathroom. Often it was full or just kind of gross from more frequent use. Going to the first floor was my secret.

    2. Holly*

      I’ve done the “I’m going to the third floor, even though their bathroom is a good 30 years older than ours, because poop” thing. I have a personal squick about pooping in public, though. I have no idea what’s going on with teeth-brushing guy.

    3. Robin B*

      Ask one of them! As they go by just say casually “Hey I see you guys up here a lot. Did you call Maintenance to come fix yours?”

      1. Sadsack*

        Don’t ask. If the person is doing it based on reasons mentioned in my post and Holly’s, you’ll just embarrass the person. Does it really matter why they’re doing it?

        1. alter_ego*

          The idea that anyone is paying attention at all to my bathroom habits is totally mortifying to me.

          1. Charityb*

            The only way it would be more mortifying is if the person knocked on the door of your stall and asked while you were actually on the toilet.

      2. Brandy in TN*

        Sometimes I take the stairs to other floors for exercise, plus Im weird and don’t want to walk right into the bathroom behind a co-worker.

        1. Paige Turner*

          Yeah, I work on the sixth (top) floor, and I’ll often walk down to the fourth or fifth floor bathroom, just for a stretch break.

        2. The Other CrazyCatLady*

          There are only two stalls in each of the women’s restrooms in my office building. There are maybe 3 women total with offices upstairs and dozens downstairs. Plus, most of the downstairs people have no reason to go upstairs so many of them may not even know there’s a second bathroom.

          And yes, as Brandy said – there’s something really awkward about following a coworker to the restroom. I really don’t want to be able to put a face to the toilet sounds of my coworkers.

        3. StillLAH*

          Yep, there’s a lady in the other office on my floor who will do a lap around the floor before going to the bathroom to get her steps in. Maybe they’re just trying to be more active/take a stretch break.

        4. edj3*

          I go two flights up for all bathroom breaks. I’ll be upping that to three flights soon–as others have said, it’s an easy way to get some physical activity and it also clears my head.

      3. Florida*

        Or you could introduce yourself, “I’ve seen you on our floor a few times, but we haven’t actually met. My name is Bob.” If the point is that they want to poop with stranger rather than people they know, now you are no longer a stranger and they will go to another floor.

    4. M*

      Been there! People come from all over our building to use our facilities, even when they have perfectly nice bathrooms in their own departments. I’m not sure the reason either, but I do think it may have to do with preferring not to use the bathroom around people they work closely with. Some people have issues with that stuff.

    5. Boston admin*

      There is something I like to call the poopie standoff, when there are two people who want to do #2 and it is dead silent and you’re waiting for the other to leave and it’s for certain that one of you will have to give up. It’s so much worse if you can somehow tell it is someone you know in the bathroom. I would bet some anxiety is lifted when it’s a stranger versus recognizing it’s one of your coworkers you see everyday. I use a bathroom on another floor because the one closest to me in proximity is small, gets smelly fairly quickly, gets dirty pretty quickly by those who use it (pee on the seat etc)…and not created equal to the others.

      Your bathroom could also be one of less traffic?

      1. LSP*

        OMG you are like my slightly younger twin. I need to reply to your first question because I’ve gone through the same exact thing. And now the standoff! So funny!

        For the record, I always win the standoff…always!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I can’t play this game. Since gallbladder removal, if I need a poo, I have to GO. I’ll happily do a courtesy flush (wishing more people would!) and spray the spray afterward, but I don’t have time to quibble. The regular activity is usually timed to happen at work, but sometimes I don’t have any say over it. It would never occur to me to change bathrooms just to do this, however.

        1. LSP*

          Oh, always courtesy flush! I wish more people did this. I’d say half of the women on my floor know this unspoken, important rule.

      3. tomorrow's anger yesterday*

        Ha, yes, sometimes if I find myself, err, “blocked” for this reason I’ll give up and try again on a different floor.

        Also if I need to go more than once in a day I’ll go to one of the other locations, because there’s nothing else in the direction of the nearest bathroom and I get paranoid that everyone’s making a note of my unusual bathroom frequency. (Yeah, a pretty weird thought now I type it out.)

    6. Charlotte Collins*

      The tooth brushing just seems weird, but could the others be the result of one of three things?:
      1. The cleaning schedule of the other bathrooms might be at an inconvenient time. For example, ours is often scheduled around the time I’m getting ready to leave for the day, so I often have to go to a different floor.
      2. If a large number of people are expected to take their breaks at the same time, the bathrooms on the other floors might be full, and people are going one floor up or down so they don’t have to wait.
      3. Are different custodial staff responsible for the different floors. Some are more dedicated to the idea of cleanliness than others.

      Otherwise, I agree that this is very odd.

    7. wheretogo*

      Just as an example, our restrooms have a frequent cleaning schedule. Somehow I manage to frequently catch them while they’re cleaning the restrooms on our floor. If the bathrooms on our floor are being cleaned, I don’t come back later, I pop down a floor. This happens to me at least once a week if not more. If someone down there thinks it’s weird… meh, I’ve got work to do!

      However, my SO had a coworker who used to do this though. Somewhat noticeably, they’d use restrooms on other floors. So it definitely could be deliberately doing their business away from coworkers.

    8. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Sometimes I’ll go to another bathroom just to be alone. If I don’t know anyone on the floor, I don’t have to make small talk if I run into them.

    9. Dawn*

      At my last job the 7th-floor bathroom was the private poop room because there were only about 20 people working on that floor so there was rarely, if ever, anyone else in the bathroom.

      Although if you had access to the top floor (where the executives sat) you could go up there and poop in the hellah fancy executive pissoir. I miss getting paid to poop in fancy toilets.

      1. Brandy in TN*

        Several jobs back, I worked on the 1st floor and the 5th floor was empty, so Id go up there all the time. I could have the lights half off, stall open, all alone. It was great.

        1. Dawn*

          Seriously that place was HUGE. Easily 15’x20′ with really high ceilings and golden wallpaper and soft lighting and granite countertop and fancy sink. It echoed pretty bad though.

    10. BadPlanning*

      It could also be that they’re doing a “need to walk more” initiative — like parking at the back of the parking lot.

      1. Honeybee*

        I always wonder if people look at me funny when I pass open spaces towards the front of the lot to park in the back, but I also do it to walk more.

    11. themmases*

      My building has bathrooms that in theory are the same but really are not.

      I used to work on a floor with steadily decreasing demand for the available office space. In a way it was great: no one cared if I had speakers on quietly at my desk, no wait for the microwave, never a wait for the relatively clean bathrooms. Weird things are different too that might not be apparent at first glance: the upstairs bathroom has a table with a better stock of extra supplies, hand dryers are at a better height.

      That is because they fill my new floor first when new projects start up. This new one is subtly grimier, runs out of things sooner, and smells bad more often. I’m not saying I go up to my old floor just to use the bathroom, but if I’m up there anyway I’m definitely going up there, not waiting until I come back here.

    12. Avery*

      It happens at my office too, and it irritates me to no end. The other half of the building is much nicer than the half I work in, yet they come over to my side to poop. :(

      I think bathrooms can be more/less appealing for a variety of reasons. As others have mentioned, people don’t want to use the stall next to their immediate co-workers (there was actually an article in a men’s magazine about pooping at work, and the author recommended visiting a bathroom on another floor). Things like how big of a gap there is between the door and the wall and the brightness of the overhead lights can also make people uncomfortable–nothing like being on display for your co-workers while you’re doing your business!

      I’m curious–is this going on with the women too, or just the men? It could also be that they work in a department with gossipy and immature people and wish to avoid them in the restroom. Or they are trying to avoid their boss, for some reason.

      1. Brandy in TN*

        I thought it was just a woman thing. Men don’t seem to care, they’ll tote a newspaper in and have a jolly time, whereas women almost sneak in and out. It could be an age thing, as older people don’t seem to care.

        1. Avery*

          I assumed the letter-writer was a man because of the reference to the man brushing his teeth in the restroom, although I guess a male co-worker could’ve told her about it.

          I think some men care. My husband does, that’s for sure. Although I did have a boss who would come up to me with a stack of magazines under his arm and say, “I’m going to be in the men’s room for the next hour. Come get me if anybody needs anything.” Ewww…as if.

    13. pieces of flair*

      There are 3 floors in my building and I’m on the middle floor, which gets much more traffic than the others. Sometimes I’ll use one of the (identical) bathrooms on another floor because there’s a line for the one on my floor, or I walk in and there’s something wrong with every stall (unflushed/clogged, pee on the seat, super smelly, etc.). I also totally get wanting to avoid chit-chat with coworkers during a bathroom break.

      1. Judy*

        Also, just because they are the same bathrooms doesn’t mean that there are not differences. At my last employer, the closest ladies room had 3 stalls, but two of them were notorious for getting clogged. If I was only peeing, I’d use that restroom 99% of the time. If the “good” stall was in use and I was pooping, I’d walk to another restroom, either down the hall or immediately below that one with the same floor plan.

    14. INFJ*

      Privacy. I don’t want to stink up the bathroom and have the VP of my department be a witness.

      1. INFJ*

        (I don’t actually do this, but have considered it for the above reason. I mostly just employ a speedy courtesy flush.)

  4. ThursdaysGeek*

    Earlier this week there was some discussion on the value of documenting an event. Alison didn’t think it was necessary to write down what was happening, and that taking something like that to a manager would look like overkill. When I first started working, my boss handed me a blank notebook and suggested that I keep a work journal. I’ve found that very useful over the years, and if a co-worker were being weird or offensive, that would have gone into it. Mostly it’s used for tracking what I’m working on and when, things I tried that didn’t work, specific steps for things that did work, questions I have, things I still need to do, and generally a work surface. Many years ago it turned from a paper notebook to an electronic one.

    I also find it useful since I have a very poor long term memory. If someone were causing problems over time, I could reference my journal to find out how long it has been happening. Usually I use it for when someone asks for something that I’ve done before: I look to see what I did the last time, and it reduces the time spent on this request. I also use it for filling out my time card each day, and writing my status email to my boss each week.

    I’ve found a work journal to be very useful, and not something a manager would look at askance.

    1. jhhj*

      I think if you document just the one event, it might look like overkill, but if you have notes about everything work-related it isn’t going to seem as weird.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I think something like this is a good idea, but I do have one cautionary tale: Once after a coworker left, someone found his work journal, which got almost to creepy-level documenting everything anyone ever said to him…it was color coded and everything. So definitely make sure you don’t focus too much on what other people say! Using it to record your own tasks and work sounds like a good way to keep something like that more balanced.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      A work journal is a very helpful tool. But…I would not pull it out and show your “write-up” on conversations with others to your manager. If asked if you have anything, then you have it, but it would look odd to walk into a manager’s office with your documented notes of conversations with others.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I would never show my journal to my manager — I just use it to recall what I’ve been working on and how I did things. But it also has personal stuff creeping in, like when I feel sleepy, or how I felt trying to work when my father-in-law died. If someone was weird, it might end up there too, and I’d look at that to remind myself, before going to my manager about it.

    4. J.B.*

      There have been situations I have written down so that when the retaliatory comments came out at review time I could back up my memory. Never produced the comments for anyone though. It can also be very useful for direction when bosses refuse to write anything down.

      Caveat: this is a dysfunctional environment and the process of getting anything done is very different from someplace more sane!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This would be my take on it–when something unusual happens, I often write it down so if I’m asked about it later, I can refer to my notes. That way, there’s no “Well, I can’t remember exactly what Barbara said to Ian, Doctor, but it was pretty raunchy.”

        1. Blurgle*

          This exactly.

          To my mind there’s never a reason not to document in cases such as that LW’s, where there is long-term conflict or strangeness. It should be automatic and universal in difficult situations. But that doesn’t mean you show it to anyone, let alone your manager. It’s for your own use.

          I did not and do not understand why Alison is so adamantly against this; if anything, I would be less likely to believe a staff member who did not document, because I’d wonder if she was retroactively making things up. I would also wonder how she remembered details without documenting them.

    5. Rat Racer*

      I think a work journal – or even an electronic version of your to-do list, where instead of deleting completed tasks, you file them on a separate page or something – is a great idea; because come review time, I can’t ever remember what the Eff I did all year (my job is extremely eclectic) and I know I end up leaving off many of the things I accomplished. Plus, if I had it all written down, I wouldn’t have to wrack my brain and review all my files to say “what was that thing I did in July…?”

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        That’s one of my main uses of it. I can see how productive I am, which is another thing I’d forget over time if I didn’t write it down.

    6. steve g*

      I wish I had kept one at past co. When we were a startup EVERYTHING was hard because it was new….but once people were hired, they never got why xyz had been so hard, and I had trouble explaining in interviews. I have random flashbacks at night of why something that sounds simple took forever and was a big deal, but it would’ve been great to have it written somewhere so we’d have a record of all incidences.

    7. TWIG*

      I might look into doing this! I too have a not-so great long term memory that often needs jogging.

      I rely, heavily, on the search function in Outlook.

      Can you go into a little more detail about how you keep your work journal? Do you take time at the end of the day to document things?

      1. Marcela*

        I do the same thing, but I use a specific software for that, called RedNotebook, which includes a calendar and a search box. So I have it always opened in one of my work spaces, and when I need to write something, there it is. I use it to record when I did what in the config of the servers (and why), and also to record when my boss told me to do X, or many other small conversations, for example when I get some help. Then, when I need the info again, the search box gives it to me. As I do it constantly along the day, I don’t think my documenting uses too much time.

      2. another IT manager*

        I do something similar where I send out a summary (on Friday EOD) of 3-5 “Things I worked on this week” and my schedule for the next week. I usually open up a new email by Tuesday morning and add a bullet or three as I have time. I give it another once-over on Friday and send it out before I close my laptop. It’s not comprehensive, but when I’m doing my annual self-evaluation, I start by searching for “Activity and summary” and pick three or four items from the previous year.

        It’s not comprehensive by any stretch, but it gives my boss and the people I don’t technically report to* an idea of what I’ve been doing when I haven’t see my boss in over a month** and I only made it to 2/3 of my offices this week.

        * My reporting structure is weird and complicated.
        ** He’s been working, just not in this city. I think. He might be at office #3.

      3. ThursdaysGeek*

        I’m just using notepad right now, save a new text file for each month. I have the date, then the time. With each time, I add the project number I’m working on. Then I just put in notes. If something more than text notes are needed, I can use Word or Excel, in the project folder, which I also have. I have my emails grouped by project, moving them to an archive when they are finished. I have outlook sticky notes, one per project, with tasks I need to do for each. When I finish a task, I remove it from the sticky note, and paste it to my journal.

        So, everything I need to do is on an Outlook sticky note, with details in emails and files in a folder. Everything done is noted in the journal. My journal is accomplishments, my sticky notes are to dos.

        Once a week I go through the journal and write up short description of what I’ve done this week (progress made on each task) and what I plan on doing next week. I send that to my bosses.

        I can use Windows search functions to find things in Outlook and my journal at the same time, often by project number. Years ago, when I was first going electronic, I used some sort of note-keeping in Outlook, but the search function didn’t work near as well, and I found text was safer: upgrades don’t break it, network down doesn’t make it unavailable — things that have also happened in years past.

        1. The Zone Of Avoidance*

          Yeah, electronic is the way to go, if you can. I’ve been doing it for years and years – I have a file that’s always open in an emacs buffer, and I just add notes and reminders and whatever to it as they happen. When the file gets to be a few MB, I’ll archive it and start a new one. It’s very low-tech: text only, and I’ve looked into finding something that would allow me to clip images and web pages and etc, but – it tends to be more trouble than it’s worth, and I’m back to good old emacs.

    8. Sascha*

      I do electronic journaling of sorts – a Word doc to make quick notes, an Excel sheet to track my tasks and projects. I don’t record things people say for the most part, except for things like “Boss said Project A is priority 10/9/15”, just so we all have a reminder of what I need to be working on . Sometimes (often) my bosses will forget what they have assigned me or picked as priority and need the reminder.

    9. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

      I have one word doc where I take my notes from phone meetings with my boss (we all work from home). It’s nice because I can look back to when project X was originally assigned, and refresh my memory about any details or recommendations. I use a 2-column table, where the column on the left is the stuff I want to talk with her about (sort of an agenda for that check-in call), and the right column is all the stuff we talk about. I’ve been doing this for about 2.5 years now, and so far so good!

    10. Nom d' Pixel*

      I keep a work journal. It is just a spiral notebook. It started out as a way to keep projects straight and to have notes from meetings. As I started supervising people, I found it was essential for not only keeping track of who was working on what, but for holding them accountable. I could pull it out and say, “according to my notes from the meeting two weeks ago, you said…”

      At the same time, it has become very useful for documenting problems that I am having working with someone. Recently, we had a very difficult employee quit. On the way out, he told HR that I and about a dozen other people were harassing him. I was able to pull out the notebook and say that on the afternoon of such date, he yelled at me or that on another day someone complained to me that he argued with them because he had to share equipment in a common work area. With the documentation that he failed to meet his goals on a daily basis, it ended any HR investigation very quickly.

  5. Ops Analyst*

    I took a risk this week.

    I design enablement communications, presentations, and QRGs for my company, which has a very clean, modern, and “corporate” look and feel. I decided to do a new one in a comic book style, riddled with sarcasm and silly icons. I was totally nervous about sending it to the higher ups because it was very edgy and different. I really had no idea how it would be received. I almost didn’t send it and hemmed and hawed over it for hours. But I decided to do it because otherwise, ill never know what they’d be ok with.

    They loved it! They are planning to use it at an executive level and its been sent all around by a senior exec in order to show it off to various teams. In a matter if days since I sent it I’ve gotten major exposure, additional high level work, and are planning to add me to teams to pitch in where they are not designing these same things so well.

    It wasn’t a huge risk, but it was hard to do it, just 6 months into the job and with absolutely no indication that they would want something in that style. It totally paid off.

    So, I thought it would be an interesting topic to share about times you’ve taken risks that either paid off or didn’t pay off.

    1. SilverRadicand*

      Congrats, Ops Analyst! It’s always nice to hear that someone has taken a (calculated) risk and it has panned out. Good luck in your new found popularity. :)

    2. Dawn*

      Woo Hoo! Stepping out of the “norm”, especially with design, can be kind of terrifying. That’s *awesome* that the response has been so great for you! I hope it leads to some amazing opportunities :)

    3. Ops Analyst*

      Thanks everyone! Before I sent it I had to psych myself up by reading articles about why its good to take risks at work. That’s what made me want to post this because I thought it would be interesting to hear what other ways people are taking risks.

    4. Rat Racer*

      What a cool idea! Seriously, corporate documents can be SO boring – by adding creativity and humor, sounds like you brought new life to — whatever it was that you created (what is a QRG? what is an “enablement communication?”) I bet it was fun to create as well!

      1. Ops Analyst*

        QRG = Quick Reference Guides
        Enablement = things that enable our teams to do their job more easily and more effectively

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yay! That’s what we should call a “green flag”, or the opposite of a red flag; the company seems open to at least evaluating new ideas. Even if they ultimately didn’t use it, the fact that they were interested in something new and different is a great sign.

      1. Ops Analyst*

        They are a fantastic company to work for. I’ve had nothing but good experiences in the 6 months I’ve been here. They are supportive and give me a lot of stretch projects to grow my skills. And it’s a “work hard, play hard” kind of place, so I get a lot of flexibility and vacation time, which just makes it that much better.

    6. Avery*

      Congratulations! Not only is it great that you took the risk, but it’s awesome that they appreciate your talent and initiative.

      My risks have been hit-or-miss. A few times I have put together plans to change the way things are done in and my bosses have loved and been fully supportive of my ideas, but when it came to getting departments outside our own to do things for us (which is technically their function), it was like hitting the proverbial brick wall. And as I work in a state-funded organization that has unions and is affected by politics, I cannot use a wrecking ball, jackhammer, or dynamite to get through the brick wall–instead I must quietly dig the bricks out with a screwdriver and hope the rest of the wall doesn’t notice.

      My ideas are usually well-liked, so I guess for me the “risky” part is knowing that I may not be able to get other departments to cooperate on the most basic of things, and then I will look like an idiot who can’t get anything done in front of the people I serve and my bosses. (I’ve actually made that an unspoken professional goal–learn how to get things done in this place! I’m told it takes years.)

      1. ActCasual*

        I love your brick wall analogy here, the imagery of digging with a screwdriver and “…so the rest of the wall doesn’t notice.”

      1. Ops Analyst*

        That is really cool! And totally on point. I made the comic book style piece in PowerPoint and it looked like real graphic design work. I made detailed comic book hair! In the past week I’ve nearly mastered using PowerPoint as an art medium. Today I made a cartoon highway, sidewalk and dirt path and they really, I mean really, really looked like I made them in illustrator. Very high quality. I never realized you could do that.

        1. The Zone Of Avoidance*

          I think you need to follow this and see where it leads. You might find that you prefer being an artist :)

          (also, this strikes me as one of those home business things that you could do with minimal startup costs).

  6. JotoJo*

    Okay, so I had a phone interview with this organization two years ago. I completely bombed and therefore, did not make it to the second round. Now, they posted another position at which I sent my cover letter and resume to the same director who conducted the phone interview two years ago. I had another phone interview, with a different director this time, but it was the exact same questions. So I did 10 times better, so good that right at the end of the call, she asked me to come in next week to meet with the other director (whom I had the terrible interview with two years ago). I am supposed to bring up that I applied to the company years ago. It’s a different position that I’m appling to now than back then.

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      When in doubt, share the information. It does not have to be a big deal When you meet him just say something like, “I don’t know if you recall, but we spoke a few years ago when you were hiring for XYZ. It is nice to meet you in person.” This way it doesn’t look like you are hiding anything in the event he remembers.

    2. HR Recruiter*

      There was a post on something similar to this recently. In that case it was an in-person interview the first time so Alison suggested mentioning that the OP had interviewed before because at some point the manager is going to remember you so better to be honest up front. With a phone interview its harder to say if they will remember you. You could always say something like, “Its so great to meet you, I believe we spoke over the phone two years ago about x position and I’m excited about this new opportunity with X company.” If they are a reasonable person they won’t hold bad interview from 2 years ago against you. Good Luck!

    3. BRR*

      I might broach how you previously interviewed but it’s not likely they will remember you and they will most likely not remember how your interview went.

      1) The director likely doesn’t remember your interview unless they rarely interview anybody or it was especially memorable (I had a director once say they asked a candidate how they were doing and the candidate responded “tired,” they won’t forget that candidate)
      2) Even if the interview wasn’t good, remember a lot of people interview and don’t get a job.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      In addition to what everyone else said, you’re applying for this job now, not two years ago. Even if the other director remembers it clearly, then they should be more impressed with you because you improved your interviewing skills. The ability to learn and improve is incredibly valuable.

    5. Dot Warner*

      Two years is a hecka long time. The other director may not even remember you, and if they do, they probably won’t hold your past interview against you, especially since you’re applying for a different job. Good luck!

    6. TootsNYC*

      I have never held it against someone that the didn’t so so well long ago. People grow and change, and gain experience and maturity. And they fit a different role and managerial team differently.

      My one piece of advice: keep it short. Don’t talk about it much; you’ll end up talking about the negative things from it.

      Just say, “Oh, yes, I applied, but wasn’t a finalist.”
      You can say, “I formed a good opinion of the company, though!”

  7. HeyNonnyNonny*

    TL;DR version: What’s your strategy on dealing with job FOMO? (Fear Of Missing Out)

    I recently turned down an opportunity, and even though I know that my reasons were sound, I still feel like just maaaybe I could have pushed for a more tempting deal, or maybe I should have taken what was offered even though I’m mostly happy at my current job. I just need to stop wheel spinning, because what’s done is done! Any strategies?

    1. aliascelli*

      I think for me, it comes from letting go of The One Job to Rule Them All. If you’re choosing between two things that make you happy, sometimes the pressure comes from “but which will make me HAPPIEST,” right? So I try to reframe it as “I would probably have been happy there AND I’m happy here.”

    2. Kyrielle*

      Does it help to acknowledge the thought when it comes up, then remind yourself that you’re missing out on where you are *now* if you’re dwelling on the what-if, since you can’t go back and change it? I find that works with some (but not all) of my what-if moments

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Hm, I hadn’t thought of it that way. I’ll have to try it next time I get hit by the regret hammer.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      When you catch yourself spinning your wheels about what could have been, remember that there are plenty of ways that taking it could have turned out badly, too, and that will help you remember that you really don’t know if it would have been better or worse if you took that opportunity. You made the best decision you could at that time, and regretting it won’t change anything.

    4. Honeybee*

      Oh yeah, of course. I left academia for very good reasons, but I still check the job boards occasionally to see what’s been posted and what I would’ve been applying to this year. And occasionally, I feel the FOMO for a professor job – primarily teaching students in a classroom, connecting with students as a mentor, and the cultural respect within academia you get for progressing from postdoc to tenure-track.

      I have to consciously remind myself that I left for good reasons; I try to psychologically put myself back in the space I was in mentally 6 months ago and use those felt emotions to remind myself of what I left behind. I also remind myself that teaching is not even half the job and I’d have to do all the other things I don’t like (I love research but not the way it’s done there). But most of all, whenever I do ‘what-ifs,’ I remind myself that I made the best decision for me at the time with the information that was available to me then.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Yeah, a lot of it boils down to I need to get better at reminding myself of the stuff like that– I know I had good reasons, but sometimes I forget them…

      2. L*

        Yes x1000. I remind myself of all these things every time I give in to the temptation of checking the jobs Wiki.

    5. SanguineAspect*

      As someone who left one fairly stable job for something new and exciting because of career FOMO, I’ll say that I’ve discovered the grass is rarely greener. I’ve learned a lot, but the most important thing I learned is that I didn’t like the move I made, and want to get out off of the new path I embarked on. Sometimes making changes results in a U-turn.

  8. Holly*

    The IT Guy situation continues. I’ve had major car issues – as in, had to buy a new one very very quickly, sigh – so I haven’t told him to stop, which is my fault. Yesterday, though, he was helping me check if the AUX port in my new car worked and he said I looked really pretty in my dress and did the stupid “what’s cookin’, good lookin’?” crap again. Sigh.

    Btw, thanks to everyone here for the well wishes last week as I tackled my Dad’s passing/anniversary. My boss did let me go home with general not-feeling-wells, though he was a little uneasy about it (“I do owe you two hours – why don’t you leave at 3?” “Can I leave at 2, actually? I just really am not feeling the best.” “Well….okay….”). I told him about my Dad when I came back Monday and he seemed better about it, so at least there’s that.

    1. Sadsack*

      I am sorry that you are still having issues with your coworker, but I don’t understand why you haven’t said something by now. I get that it is awkward, but letting it go on will make it that much more difficult when you finally do say something. Also, the guy skeeves you out, but he’s checking out your car for you? No one else could help you with that? I realize I sound judgmental, and I guess I am, but I just don’t get it.

      1. Holly*

        I just asked him if he had an AUX cable I could borrow for a minute or two. He then insisted on using the one from his car and getting in my car and checking it.

        (I’m still making friends with my coworkers, so I’m not really close enough to ask other people about this kind of thing, plus I figured that, being in IT, he’d have one.)

        1. brightstar*

          This is an example of his pushing the boundaries. The more you just go along with it, the further he will go. You don’t have to be elaborate, just tell him to stop the next time he does something like that.

        2. Honeybee*

          One of the ways that you can make friends with other coworkers is asking them for small things like that. Asking to borrow an aux cord for a couple minutes is such a small ask that I’m sure any coworker who could help you would easily oblige if they had one.

          That said, next time he makes an over-the-top offer, you can just say “No thanks, I got it! I just need the actual cord for a quick second.” If he insists, you can say “I’d really rather do this myself, thanks.” And if he won’t give you the aux cord without going with you, just turn down his offer altogether and go without. Make it so that he’s the one making the situation awkward (because he IS).

            1. Moksha Maginifique*


              Everyone complains about slow response times from IT, but they’re the ones tying up my phone line with requests that I assist them with their Netflix account, or troubleshoot their personal PC which they are not using for work, they just brought in from some so that I “could take a peek at it.”

              STOP. IT.

    2. Violetta*

      I don’t know the backstory here but it sounds like you don’t want this attention from him, which, totally understandable. But if this is a behavior that keeps going on it’s probably best to draw really clear professional boundaries with this guy, i.e. not call on him for non-work related stuff like the car issue.

      1. Holly*

        I just asked him if he had an AUX cable I could borrow for a minute or two. He then insisted on using the one from his car and getting in my car and checking it.

        (I’m still making friends with my coworkers, so I’m not really close enough to ask other people about this kind of thing, plus I figured that, being in IT, he’d have one.)

        But yeah, I know. Boundaries for sure, and I have to be more strict about it.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Holly, his inappropriate behavior needs to stop. Seriously. Don’t ask him for any favors, don’t let him do any for you, and tell him to STOP. IT. He’s taking advantage of your weak boundaries. Don’t let him.

          We’re here if you need scripts, etc.

        2. fposte*

          Seconding Elizabeth. He can’t get into your car to test it if you don’t move from your spot to let him in to the car. “No, just the cable. Thanks.” And if he doesn’t hand it over, say “That’s okay, I know stuff can’t always be lent out” and walk back to your desk.

          Right now you’re treating this like there’s an initial contest, and if he wins by being louder or longer or more insistent, you then have to do what he wants after that. And there are a million opportunities for you not to do what he wants. You can stand still when he moves. You can start to walk but change your mind. You can go to the bathroom. There is never anything in a conversation that means you have to do what he wants.

          It’s tough when it would be genuinely easier to accept the favor. But that puts you in exactly the position you found yourself, so that’s a great illustration of why it’s strategically unwise to accept favors from people you don’t like and who want something from you that you don’t want to give.

    3. Snork Maiden*

      For other people: if it helps, keep in mind, he’s the the one making the situation awkward, not Holly. Asking an IT person for a cable is not out of the ordinary. It’s really hard to cut someone dead for interaction at work especially if you’re new, so I think it behooves us to go a little easy on Holly here.

      It would be nice if we could be there in person so you would feel like you have backup when you tell him you’re uncomfortable. I know AAM has tons of great scripts for enacting and enforcing boundaries, but they’re hard to recall in the moment. I try to just reread everything as much as possible to prepare if I have a knee-jerk reaction, that it’s an effective one.

      1. Sadsack*

        This is a difficult situation for Holly. She is a victim of this creep’s advances, but she needs to take control of this situation try o make it stop. That means telling him she doesn’t want him to comment on her looks any more and not continuing to go to him for assistance with things unless absolutely necessary. This doesn’t require a long conversation, just a comment in the moment. Others here have made great suggestions for things to say. Letting each week go by and not getting around to telling him to stop is only hurting, not at all helping.

        You can do it, Holly! Just say something the very next time take it from there.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m going to repeat what I said last time: The next time he says something like that, just deal with it really matter of factly: “Ick. Please don’t say that to me.” And then continue on with the conversation. If you do it soon, that’s all it might take and then this will be over. And if it’s not over after that, you say “did you not hear my earlier ‘ick’? Please cut that out.”

      But you have to do it now, because the longer you wait, the more awkward it’s likely to be (and the less able you’ll be to address it with an in-the-moment offhand remark). So … tell us what’s getting in the way of you doing that?

      1. OriginalEmma*

        I wouldn’t use an ick, since it sounds childish and might make him less likely to take it seriously (n0t that he’s taking her discomfort seriously now anyway). I’d say “That’s creepy/disgusting/gross/whatever adjective. Please don’t say/do that to me.” Repeat as needed.

        1. Honeybee*

          I don’t think “ick” is any less childish than “creepy” or “gross”, and the main focus point here is “don’t say that to me,” not what comes before it. But it’s whatever works for the OP that gets dude to stop saying things that are weird.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I like “ick” because it’s what I’d actually say, but she can substitute in whatever word works for her, as long as she says something.

      2. Holly*

        Mainly fear is what’s getting in the way: fear of causing a big issue, fear of making the already awkward situation a thousand times worse, fear of being told I’m blowing things out of proportion and he’s just joking/being friendly and I need to lighten up, fear of having to start back at square one with connecting to people at my work (I’m still pretty new, and before all these comments we talked all the time about comics and other mutual interests), fear of no longer having IT support because he’s the only IT person at my office, etc.

        I have anxiety in my every day life, which doesn’t help.

        1. fposte*

          That’s certainly understandable; I think most of us are familiar with being blocked by fear, and there are situations where fear needs to be listened to. I don’t think this is one–we’re talking a very small comment–but you’re ultimately the judge of that.

          But I think your alternative to making the comment is accepting that this isn’t going to change, and I think that’s going to make you pretty darned uncomfortable too. So consider the cost of inaction as well as the cost of action.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Maybe think of it this way: A reasonable person would not respond to a “stop saying those things to me” by blowing up, denying you IT support, or otherwise making it much worse. A reasonable person might be a little embarrassed, yes, but they wouldn’t take it out on you or make your life harder. So if he’s a reasonable person, there’s nothing to worry about here (and in fact you’d be doing him a kindness by letting him know how unwelcome these comments are, since he presumably doesn’t know).

          An unreasonable person may indeed do any of the things you’re worried about — but at that point your employer would strongly want to know what happened so that they could intervene.

          Give him a chance to show you that he’s reasonable. If he’s not, you’ll go get help from your company.

        3. Lisa*

          It might help if you can remind yourself that you don’t have to worry about being rude to rude people. Standing up for yourself and putting a stop to bad behaviour can be tough for some people, but it really can get easier with practice – even for people with diagnosed anxiety problems. If your anxiety is bad enough that you let people treat you badly, especially if you do it repeatedly and then feel anxious about when it will happen next, it might help to seek therapy and coping strategies from a professional if you have an EAP that’s often a good place to start.

        4. Book Person*

          If you wouldn’t be comfortable saying “ick” or “gross” or whathaveyou for fear of sounding like you’re making a “big issue” (which you wouldn’t be, but I know that feeling), maybe try “Please don’t comment on my appearance.” That addresses the issue without getting into a debate of whether or not it was creepy (it is) or a compliment (who cares). If he insists he was just joking, well, great: “Ok, I’d still rather you didn’t make those comments. Thanks!” If he’s just being nice, “Ok, I’d still rather you didn’t make those comments. Thanks!”

          It’s harder to argue against what you want vs what his intentions were. He can move the goalposts for the latter, but not the former.

          Good luck. I know this kind of thing isn’t easy.

        5. Lora*

          Just my take here…..he is using your fear to his advantage. And also, once you say something to let him know his words/actions are not appropriate, any waffling on your part will signal to him you really don’t mean what you say. And he will continue to say/do things that make you feel awkward, even though you have told him to stop. And there is a good chance it will escalate. If push comes to shove, he will make it sound as though you were a willing participant in these interactions. He sounds totally creepy. Always take the high road, always be professional.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I agree, and the longer she allows it, the easier it is for him to say, “Well she didn’t say anything, I was trying to be friendly, I never said THAT, whhhrhrrrrrggbbblllle” if the situation gets out of hand.

            If this is a hard thing for you to do in general, Holly, I second the recommendation for getting some assistance with it. You really need to be able to stand up for yourself, because it could be dangerous not to. Not necessarily in this situation, but in others.

            Also, document the fuck out of this.

          2. Windchime*

            This is so true. As Lora says, he is using your fear to his advantage. It’s a well-known tactic; you push back, and he said, “Whoa, you think I’m hitting on you!? What the hell, I’m just being friendly.” Men* do this all. the. time. He is counting on the fact that your unwillingness to be impolite will get him past your boundaries.

            Honestly, if you truly want him to stop this then you need to do your part. Part of that is not asking him for favors. If the cable request was for your car, then it wasn’t a work-related request for a cable–it was a personal request. I would ask another coworker for a personal request instead of him. Currently, he hasn’t seen any indication (that I can recall) that he should stop with the icky comments.

            *I say “Men”, because that’s who tends to do this to me. I’m sure that others have experienced the same thing with women.

        6. The Expendable Redshirt*

          Possible script

          Him: “What’s cooking good looking?”
          You: “What?” / “Pardon me?” / “Huh?”

          Possibly followed by

          Him: “Irrelevant justification comment.”
          You: “Please don’t make jokes like that. It makes me feel uncomfortable.”

          That’s probably what I’d say to such a comment. Total bewilderment that a co-worker would make such an inappropriate comment about my appearance.

        7. AnonAcademic*

          None of the consequences you list sound worse to me than continuing to fend off his advances at the expense of your own personal comfort.

    5. TootsNYC*

      I’m not sure why the car issues affect telling him to stop; maybe you’re not having the mental/psycological bandwidth?

      Anyway, practice some short lines: “Please don’t make personal comments, I prefer to keep this on the business side.” Then you can pop them out right as you need them.

      And yes, cut off all contact with him that’s not at your desk–so, no asking him to check out your AUX port on your car. I’d have some sympathy with him if he thinks that your relationship is edging into personal, there.
      He’s flirting, and your response is to ask him to do you a personal favor with your car. I can’t say that he’d be unreasonable to think that, anyway.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I would think that the last thing on your mind would be this dude, in light of the anniversary of your dad’s passing. It sounds like you handled that well and you got through the day. Maybe next year put in for a personal day or something on that date so you do not have to worry about how to get out of work.

      I know with some major events in my life, I did not have the bandwidth to deal with anything else, such as flirty guy. But meanwhile, because you have not said anything he thinks you are okay with it. Not fair, but there it is. If it were me, I would target this one for next week. Make it your goal that you are going to say something this week. I noticed you have mentioned not making new friends at work or similar type comment. Please separate these two issues. It could be me, but it is seems that once a person like this is given boundaries, other people come out of the woodwork to be friendly. I think that there could be something in the work place dynamic that people back off when they see IT guy is interested in the new employee. Treat the friends at work issue as a separate thing, and see where that puts you.

  9. RG*

    Still just applying to jobs, but here’s a question for the week: what’s the weirdest set of requirements you’ve seen for a position? My favorite was the programming job for recent grads that required 6 years of programming experience.

    1. Recent Grad*

      Not as bad as yours, but advertised role was “entry-level” and required minimum 2 years of experience. Still applying to jobs too :( Best of luck to us.

      1. nicolefromqueens*

        A part-time cappy wage (and, really, entry-level) position that required five years of experience. And also not very conveniently located or scheduled.

      2. T3k*

        I’ve seen so many of these. As I put to a friend recently, by these requirements, you’re expected to make less than a livable wage for 3 years to gain the experience for these entry level jobs that don’t pay much better. *sigh* (and nope, these jobs won’t consider college experience).

        1. Serin*

          Library jobs require all that and a master’s degree. And most of the work is part-time.

          Too bad. I think I would have enjoyed being a librarian.

          1. Dear liza dear liza*

            If it’s a librarian position, yes, the masters is the expected degree. If it’s just checking out or shelving books, then a masters degree is a ridiculous expectation.

          2. FutureLibrarian*

            It’s actually not that bad. A lot of jobs are full time, but most people don’t want to move. I find that to my advantage though, as I’m willing (and able) to move.

      3. Althea*

        This is my entire industry, which is international non-profit work. Anyone who wants a programmatic job is expected to have 2-3 years at entry-level. The typical path is to enter the Peace Corps, with the big alternative being some cobbled together periods of internships/volunteer/fellowships/part-time during school.

        The issue being, there is an enormous oversupply of young people wanting to “make the world a better place” and we as an industry have the freedom to be choosy and weed them out by making them earn experience before they get to a FT job.

        It has some unfortunate ramifications, the main one being that people who make it tend to be relatively wealthy despite often working with some of the poorest people in the world. It’s hard to make it when the industry demands that you somehow live for 2 years BEFORE you can get a FT job.

    2. Holly*

      I once applied to a marketing position that was just a sliver above entry level…and it required 10+ years of social media experience. I counted back and realized you’d have to be a Usenet aficionado who was on the ground for Facebook and Myspace’s original launch to qualify for that.

      1. HR Recruiter*

        That seems a bit extreme not only for the reason you mentioned but social media is constantly changing so why would you need someone with old experience. Minimum years experience should be for skills that take a long time to develop like managerial skills.

      2. Honeybee*

        Heh heh, I was actually on the ground for Facebook’s launch…but when I was a college freshman! I think most people with 10 years of work experience wouldn’t have been the right age group to have 10 actual years of experience even just using Facebook, since in the beginning it was just for college students.

      3. AnonPi*

        lol, I came across a similar request for experience with a software package once. Uh sorry, it’s only been around 3 years so no I don’t have 5+ yrs required/8+yrs preferred experience using it???

      4. Dear liza dear liza*

        I well remember jobs requesting 5+ years of Webmaster experience…in 1998. What? This of course was back in the day when building a geocities webpage made you a webmaster, so I think companies added the years to try and sift out the unexperienced.

    3. Anony-Moose*

      I was looking at a Director of Development job this week that asked for your social media page(s) which I’ve never seen before in a fundraising position!

      1. Kira*

        Well, Director of Development is often in charge of all communications and marketing in addition to grants and fundraising, so maybe that’s an area this nonprofit is prioritizing in the role.

        1. Anony-Moose*

          But those would be institutional pages, not personal pages. I found it odd they didn’t ask for social media/communications experience (with a portfolio to back it up) but just wanted to know, say, what you post on Twitter. I wouldn’t mind sharing my Facebook with anyone, but it’s just pictures of my dog. It doesn’t speak to my social media or marketing savvy!

    4. alter_ego*

      My high school had an AP comp sci course, and my college was a 5-year school, so I suppose teeeechnicallllly, someone who had done my exact high school and college combo, taking programming courses in both places would qualify. But I think they’re going to be holding out for a long while

      1. Quirk*

        If they were happy with non-commercial experience, there’d be plenty of them out there. I had six years of coding under my belt by the end of uni, having started in my teens while still at school, and having coded for multiple years before university is generally pretty common among the senior developers I’ve known.

        However, job ads don’t normally pay any attention to non-commercial experience, so I would imagine in this case that it was straight-up HR goofiness.

        1. Allison*

          Can confirm. When someone tells me to find people with, say, 3-5 years of experience, they mean 3-5 years working full-time in a professional context. Internships count, co-op counts, but the time you spent just taking classes doesn’t count.

          So if you are a recent grad who was in school for 5 years, don’t try to sell yourself as someone with 5 years of experience. People looking for recent grads will see that and think “nope, too senior” and people looking for mid-level programmers will keep reading until they realize you just finished college and your only working experience was a 6 month internship. You’re unlikely to trick someone into hiring you.

    5. Kyrielle*

      The programming job that required 4 years in $Technology that had been released…a year prior. (Amusingly, I forget which one this was…it was *mumblety* years ago, so.)

      Apparently they wanted to hire the people who wrote the spec for it?

      1. Allison*

        Starting to see a formula here. Hiring manager wants a mid-level developer who will specialize in X, so they automatically write that they need someone with 4-5 years working with X. It then takes weeks, if not months, or sourcing and screening, and the recruiters saying “we’re trying, but there’s no one with that much experience in X out there” before the hiring manager realizes they’re right and not just lazy or incompetent.

    6. CollegeAdmin*

      I saw (and must admit, applied) to a position entitled “Project Coordinator.” They wanted the person to have a masters’ degree, experience with data analysis, and 3-5 years of high-level admin support. Tasks included:

      – conducting research, analyzing data, and writing reports
      – planning and managing campus-wide events
      – maintaining the website
      – drafting official correspondence for the CEO
      – serving as the receptionist (answering phones, greeting visitors)
      – managing the calendar(s) and travel of the CEO
      – handling all office financial matters, including huge fund disbursements to other departments

      Yeah…they wanted a unicorn. The sad thing was, I was that unicorn, but they ended up having to freeze the position. Another department scooped me up, and by the conversations I’ve had with the manager for this unicorn position, he regrets not being able to hire me.

    7. Calla*

      I might be exaggerating a little here because it’s been a while, but I remember within the last few years seeing a job posting for an administrative assistant that required a Master’s (that was definitely part of it) and I think a decent amount of experience (5+ years?), and didn’t even pay that well — less than or right at $30,000 iirc, and in Boston.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            At least I think we mostly “prefer” a Master’s and try to get entry level people in closer to $40K…

      1. Charityb*

        I wonder how many businesses in other industries have job postings like that and have managers wringing their hands and wondering why they can’t find highly-qualified applicants…

    8. Charlotte Collins*

      I once saw “technical writing experience” required for an internal position that was to document work procedures. Based on the pay and description, this was a very low-level position that was to keep track of basic departmental QA processes (not technical processes – think more like office procedures).

      I’m pretty sure whoever wrote it didn’t know that there is a difference between technical writing and business writing – and that technical writers are highly trained very skilled professional writers, whereas it isn’t a stretch to expect most exempt office workers to have a basic grasp of business writing.

      1. Terra*

        Technical Writing has kind of become buzzword-y lately which is annoying since it makes it difficult for actual technical writers to find jobs in our field.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I feel for you. It is a skill – and unfortunately one that people only realize its worth when they come across incompetent technical writing…

          I do online content editing (not as much as I’d like to, as it’s only one of my understaffed department’s many tasks). This week my new boss (whose focus is call center management) revealed to me that she considers concern about use of apostrophes and commas “nitpicky.” Since we deal with a government program and are legally liable if misplaced punctuation affects meaning, this makes her comment especially disheartening….

          The “everyone can write/edit/proofread so we don’t need professionals” attitude is going to continue to cause problems. But at least future historians/literary scholars will have some amusing reading when dealing with their primary sources.

        2. Applesauced*

          Same thing for “information architects” making me wade through tons of high paying yet unrelated job when I look for architect jobs.

    9. Kelly L.*

      I’ve talked about this before. The position was supposedly administrative assistant to some people who were starting a store. The duties, though, included doing the company’s whole business plan and books, and also working as a salesclerk in the store. Minimum wage or slightly above, I don’t remember anymore. So they wanted an admin/accountant/salesclerk at minimum wage.

    10. Jennifer*

      One school I’ve looked at requires formal typing tests to be turned in, from a professional typing school, for any clerical job. What is this, 1960?

    11. Lapsed Academic*

      The most fun thing is: There are NO entry level jobs available at all (pharmaceutical industry, Europe). I have a PhD, but I really need to leave research for various reasons, but every job I see requires 2-3 years experience at least.

      The few interviews I’ve had didn’t pan out, some of them my own fault, one very memorable only sent a formal rejection email but indicated in the interview they felt I was too assertive (I’m a woman, was interviewed by a woman, it was very strange). (Btw it doesn’t matter how much I personalize my cover letters, actually the few positive answers I have gotten were to my more ‘standard’ letters.)

      I wonder who fills those (very few) junior positions that ask for anywhere between 2-5 years of experience, or in one very memorable occasion 10.

      1. Anx*

        This is the story of my life. HOW DO YOU GET THAT FIRST TWO YEARS? I never see these entry level jobs posted at these companies. I’m guessing they are filled by interns.

        1. Ad Astra*

          FWIW, someone told me that recent grads should go ahead and apply for jobs that ask for 2 years’ experience, so I did. And I ended up getting calls and interviews and jobs. Remember, most job ads are wish lists.

          A major caveat: My field was journalism/news, so most new grads in that area do have at least one internship and several semesters of part-time student media work. It may not work this way in other fields.

          1. Anx*

            Yeah, I wish I had heard this when I was still a new grad.

            I have about 15 years of work experience, but still don’t have that solid 1-2 years in a full-time job that employers consider relevant or professional enough.

            I think my problem was that I took “requirements” too seriously.

      2. Nom d' Pixel*

        Too bad you aren’t in the US. I work for a pharmaceutical company, and we are hiring an entry-level Ph.D. No post-doc required.

    12. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      An oral history gathering position that required a PhD in Folklore but no experience working a recorder or camera (it actually stated “previous camera experience not necessary”)

        1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

          The project was to collect folk stories and family histories in a specific area on film

          but basically yeah- interviewing people and gathering the stories that are told verbally as opposed to having them write it all up or something for you, so that you retain how it’s told and not just what is told

    13. Nashira*

      There are so many fricking dev jobs like that. Billed as entry level but oop you’re supposed to know six languages, three IDEs, several databases, five years of professional experience, and make perfect tea without having to ask “cream or sugar?”

      It was killing my urges to apply, but I’m trying to fight back against the insane level of imposter syndrome it gives me.

      1. Quirk*

        Five years of professional experience gets you senior developer wages up here in central belt Scotland, which is fairly standard levels of frenzy for a high-tech hub. Five years is not by any stretch of the imagination entry level.

        However, a couple of things to bear in mind:
        1) Job specs are wish-lists. This is doubly true in tech.
        2) You’re only competing with other people who’ll answer their advert, and they’re never going to get deep and broad experience at an entry level price unless there’s something very wrong with that candidate that prevents them selling it elsewhere.

        Take courage. Graduate jobs can be hard to find, but once you get a couple of years of experience under your belt, software is a killer job market to be in and you get a lot of choice in whom you choose to work for.

        1. Nashira*

          I’ve mostly shook my head and tried anyway, yup. Still trying to figure out a better way to show technical skill on my resume, but… I’m feeling confident that I could do a real entry level dev job, which makes it easier to roll my eyes and click apply.

          1. Quirk*

            Having played software hiring manager before, good things to get on your dev CV are, in order of importance:
            1) Commercial experience at real companies
            2) Work on open source projects, and this may even displace 1) if it’s significant work on one people have heard of
            3) Degree and grade
            4) Notable personal projects outside academia
            5) Major projects within academia
            6) Courses you excelled in

            My first concern is going to be: “are you going to be able to handle being part of a proper dev team?” and the only thing that really answers that is 1), but you won’t have that yet unless you’ve got some summer job/intern experience. If you do, you should definitely put it on there. So my next question will be “have you achieved anything I can appreciate as reflective of programming in the real world?” 2) and 4) give me insight into that, and suggest you’re passionate about coding (which often correlates to being very good at it). 2) also argues your code passed muster with someone competent enough to be responsible for merging patches. I care that you’re smart and dedicated, and so 3) is nice as external validation of that, but I’d rather have someone with a slightly worse degree and a sharp pragmatism than an unworldly best-academic-of-their-academic-year, so it needs support. 5) and 6) are going to fall off your future CV the first time you have to cut something, but they at least give me something to discuss with you. (I note also you’re hacking x86 assembly for class, which is creditable enough to mention – assembly is generally seen as pretty hardcore these days, and hardcore scores you some interview points).

            Also, obviously, mention the languages and technologies you’re sufficiently comfortable with to be asked questions about.

            Don’t worry too much about telling them you’re awesome at writing code. That’s something that gets tested in the interview, usually on a whiteboard. If you have access to a whiteboard, you might want to practice writing simple functions and being quizzed on them with a pedantic friend. Your CV/resume is all about saying “I know how modern software development works! I’ve done more than just toy problems! I don’t give up until the work’s done! I’m smart! Interview me!”

            It’s fine to mention you were Treasurer for the university Bog-Snorkelling Club or that you worked in retail one summer or that you’re a keen golfer, but all of these things make very minimal difference to the interview/no interview decision and are only there to fill space.

            Hope this helps. What part of the world are you looking for work in, anyway?

            1. Marcela*

              Ugh, I hate 2. And the reasoning behind 4. I’ve dedicated all my available time to my work, which is not open source. Should I stop sleeping so I can now contribute to the world? Besides, a very long time ago, when I was starting as an server administrator, I had a horrible experience with a community, where I published a “recipe” to do certain thing, and I was immediately accused of trying to sneak in an improper subject (the original word is almost impossible to translate, but it means something like giving or passing information without authorization or without being entitled to). The issue divided the community and was the beginning of its end, since it wasn’t clear in the rules that the subject I touched was a forbidden one, and many claimed I was targeted because I dared to participate being woman, as similar tutorials to mine were published without comment. Several years later, while doing some soul cleaning, I realized the damage that experience left in my confidence. It doesn’t help I have a full history of questions in mail lists beings answered like I am stupid or I don’t know what I am talking about.

              2 and 4 are sad questions for me. I can’t play by the same rules and because of that, well, I guess I am not passionate about what I do. BS.

              1. Quirk*

                Hey, I don’t have any of 2 or 4 on my CV either. You don’t need it if you have enough actual work experience and a list of achievements made within the commercial world. In fact, 2 and 4 do very little to enhance your bid for a team lead position.

                However, if you’re a new graduate, then you don’t have a track record of commercial work that speaks for itself, and 2 and 4 make a real difference.

                1. Marcela*

                  Thank you, Quirk. I am not very sure if it matters or not, but I am seeing 2 and 4 in questions for software development positions in California. A couple of them ask for your handle in, for example, so they can see the modules you contributed. I am already a strange beast in this area, so it doesn’t help feeling even more different from all other candidates.

                  This thing saddens me. I used to think I did not experience sexism. But later I realized how reserved I am with my work, how I avoid participating in communities with a feminine gender name and how I carefully check everything I say so it’s not obvious I am a woman, and gah, 2 and 4 remind me of what could have happen in different circumstances.

                2. Quirk*

                  Marcela, I’m sorry to hear that. Nobody should have to put up with feeling they have to hide their gender. I hope you have somewhere to work at the moment where you’re respected.

                3. Nashira*

                  Marcela – I do not know if you will see this, but I wanted you to know I share those fears. I spent a long time time passing as a man online, until I went through a Loud And Annoyed feminist period and insisted everyone use female pronouns for me. (Now I’m a quieter transgender feminist who passes for a woman in RL, but… isn’t any gender.) It doesn’t help that I watched my mom get run out of being a software engineer because she got tired of being dismissed as the crazy uppity female dog whenever she disagreed with any male coworkers.

                  It’s stupid and unfortunate that we have to worry so much. I really hate the sexist dude-centric thing that so many people think technology has to be. I hope to help change it, but I know how freaking hard that is to actually *do*.

            2. Nashira*

              I don’t know if you will see this, but I wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I would have responded sooner, but I was consumed by finishing that assembly course – which I am dying for my grade on, to be honest. I think I killed it.

              You’ve given me a good idea of what kinds of things to focus on, both to improve my resume and to help combat that feeling of not being good enough yet. I was already looking for some good OSS projects to contribute to, partly for the code experience and partly because some of the documentation makes me wince in pain. I get the feeling that nobody wants to be sure that what they’ve written makes sense and has good wording, so they slap together a help file and call it done. Hacktoberfest has given me a couple ideas of places to look, based on the languages I’m familiar with, as well as incentive.

              Right now, I’m looking for work in the central Missouri (Columbia/Fulton/Jefferson City) area. The husband and I are hoping to move in a couple of years to somewhere else (Austin maybe, or somewhere in Colorado), but it isn’t an option just yet. I’m thinking of setting up some informational interviews at the couple of major employers here, so I have a better feeling for what traits appeal to them and what skills they think are important for devs to have. If it gets me on their radar, that’s great; if not, I still get a feel for things.

              1. Quirk*

                Don’t worry about not being good enough. Expectations of what new graduates can do are generally quite low in larger companies, and while very small ones can be a baptism by fire most of them will acknowledge it’s their mistake rather than yours if you put get in over your head. Also, the more dubious “professional” code you get to see, the more your impostor syndrome will recede.

                I suspect Missouri has a rather less active software industry than some other states, so yes, you possibly will need to tailor your skills more. I would advocate seeing what the predominant skills asked for on local job boards are over informational interviews, as individual companies don’t always have a good feel for what the market as a whole is like. Better, speak to local tech recruiters, who are generally excellent at knowing what is in demand and what isn’t. (Much of Allison’s usual advice on job-hunting is not very relevant to software, where most companies hire third party recruiters to chase candidates and applying for roles is rare beyond the graduate level).

    14. squids*

      Technical job in a manufacturing sector, which also required the applicant to speak both German and Hungarian (in majority-English-speaking community.) I’m pretty sure they had their candidate in mind and were posting as a formality.

      1. Research Assistant*

        A friend once found a job listing for a biomedical engineer (or something similar) that also needed to speak Russian and play the pipe organ. She was thrilled, because she does in fact fit all of those qualifications. I think they even interviewed her for it. It was a public university job that was required by law to be advertised and they wrote the description thinking that their chosen candidate had to be the only organ-playing, Russian-speaking biomedical engineer in our midwestern town. My friend just happened to be a second one! Needless to say, she didn’t get the job.

    15. BRR*

      I see writing sample required for jobs that don’t need it at all. Last job hunt they seemed surprised I submitted one and treated it like it was an extra (probably because they asked for it because they thought they should and had no idea why they asked for it). This job hunt I put in my cover letter that I applied through Idealist which didn’t have a writing sample listed vs on their site which had it listed and got an interview (which was possibly the worst interview of my life).

    16. Allison*

      “programming job for recent grads that required 6 years of programming experience”

      that’s so ridiculous I have to wonder if they copies an old job description to use as a template, and forgot to edit that number to something more realistic. I kinda get hiring managers wanting recent grads with 6-12 months of internship/co-op/freelance experience under their belts, but anything more than that and you can’t call the job “entry level,” it’s a junior or associate.

    17. Not Karen*

      I once applied for a ESL teacher position in Japan with Amity. All across their internet pages they went on and on about “no teaching experience necessary!” Part of the group interview required teaching a sample lesson as if your fellow interviewers were students. How am I supposed to know how to develop a lesson plan and be good at teaching it without any teaching experience??

      Also, they asked you to bring three letters of recommendation with you to the interview, but they wouldn’t take them unless you passed the group interview and made it to the individual interview stage.

      1. Honeybee*

        I’ve done one of those before. They just want to see where you’re at – your basic, untrained skills at thinking about how to develop a lesson plan and how to deliver it to people. Usually there is lots of training done on the actual job about how to develop a plan for the students and a bit about delivery, but they want people who already have a basic level of preparation.

        But I hate hate HATE jobs that make you write letters of recommendation before they’re even ready to read them. Those things take so much effort to track down and get sent out, particularly when you have a flaky advisor who doesn’t respond to email at all. Wait until we’re at a stage that you actually are going to read them. (Academia, I am looking at you. You are seriously not going to read 900 letters from the 300 initial applicants you got. Wait until you’ve pared down to 20, then contact people for recs.)

    18. Sascha*

      I keep seeing various IT jobs asking for graphic design experience and capability – and it makes no sense because they are jobs like database developer, help desk support, etc. Jobs that would never have anything to do with design, marketing, or communications in any way. Feels like these companies are tired of paying for a design position and just lumping it in with whatever IT job they have.

    19. Lia*

      This one dates me, but asking for 5 years of experience with Windows 95, in a job ad posted in early 1996.

    20. Jennifer*

      Oh, I forgot this one: PART TIME (contract, of course) anthropologist. Who the hell does THAT job part time?

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Weird, but I can see it if you’re hired by a small museum or for the state. Not all anthropologists do fieldwork in obscure locations.

    21. Anx*

      A scientific diving SCUBA cert, childcare experience, original research experience, lifeguarding experience, housing and facilities maintenance, teaching experience.


      This wasn’t so much weird, as it really solidified to me the struggle to transition years of experience working in a variety of short-term jobs during college and high school into an actual living wage one day. They were basically looking for someone with a Master’s who worked a lot during college, but still weren’t going to pay them more than those starter jobs.

    22. Puffle*

      One of the best I ever saw was a posting for a university lecturer/ researcher. I think they must have lost someone with a very specific set of skills and somehow thought that they’d be able to replace them with an identical unicorn twin. Reqs were something like:

      -Masters and PHD
      -fluent in Russian and Japanese
      -academic speciality in 1920s Japanese history
      -able to teach 18th and 19th century Russian history
      -multiple published papers/ books
      -prev role at highly regarded university

      Salary? £28, 000 a year (GBP).

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        University requirements for what they pay are insane. That description sounds like they were trying to get two professors for less than they should be paying one.

      2. Cheddar2.0*

        I actually had a former professor that would have been able to fill that role!…. I wonder if he left and you saw his position’s posting?!

    23. The Zone Of Avoidance*

      It’s a bit different than a “position”, but my favorite (which many of you may have seen before) is from Brian Eno:

      The thing from the agency said, “We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah-blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,” this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said “and it must be 3.25 seconds long.”

    24. EmmaBlake*

      This was what I was coming here to complain about! I’ve been searching for jobs, and it’s so frustrating. I have an MBA with a concentration in HR, 4.0 GPA, but have no ‘real world’ HR experience. There are all these jobs billed at entry-level that require 4-10 years experience! Was I supposed to be working during undergrad?!? (For what it’s worth I did work, just as a server.) I’m just so beyond frustrated. I’ve been applying regardless, but no luck. Can we all just agree that requiring years of experience makes the job 100% NOT entry-level?

    25. Moksha Maginifique*

      An “IT Assistant” job that wanted 5 years general experience, the ability to troubleshoot Windows/Apple/Linux, 2 years experience troubleshooting servers, the ability to create and maintain SQL databases while running data analysis, SEO experience, and general office duties. For $12/hr.

  10. Rat Racer*

    I have been meaning to ask this question for a while: what’s the etiquette when you take a group of people out for a work dinner? We recently flew in a doctor for a big conference to talk about how great our program is. The dinner was the doc, his wife, and a work colleague. My boss was supposed to be there but couldn’t make it, so I was essentially in charge of “hosting.” I had no idea what to and it was so awkward. Should I order wine for the table? What about appetizers? What about dessert, especially since I’m not planning to eat any?
    Am I in charge of making conversation when there are awkward silences? It certainly felt that way, but I was the youngest person at the table by about 15 years, so I seriously felt like a clueless kid dressed in her mother’s hat and gloves sitting at a tea party. For context, I’ve been a manager for about 3 years, I’m in my late thirties, totally comfortable presenting to senior execs — but I have NO IDEA how to host a work dinner. Oof it was sooo painful! Anyone out there have some rules of thumb to follow so I can avoid being a deer in headlights next time?

    1. Robin B*

      Ohh, that must have been stressful, but it sounds like you did okay. I think as long as you paid the check it went fine :)

    2. Traveller*

      Depends very much on the norms of your company and industry, but I would say YES to all of the items above.

      As far as making conversation, asking some non-controversial open-ended questions is usually all that is required. I find that people generally love to be listened to.

    3. frequentflyer*

      Yes to everything, and if you’re not eating something you can be like “don’t mind me, -insert explanation if necessary, the dessert blah blah is really good please have some more”. You can get info on your guests’ background/info from your boss so you have ideas of what to talk about when there’s silence. Basically throw in a few sincere questions etc and let them continue the conversation. Think of it as a networking opportunity and if you’re genuinely interested in them and what they do, everything is easier and who knows, they might be useful in the future.

      1. Rat Racer*

        I was thinking that if I didn’t eat dessert than no one would. And if I didn’t drink wine then no one would. Maybe I was over-thinking this and over-emphasizing my own role in this dinner, but I felt like everyone was looking to me for cues. Is that true?

        1. frequentflyer*

          I guess some people might be polite and think if their host isn’t having dessert and wine, they shouldn’t have any too. If your company is ok with paying for such “extras”, you can just encourage your guests, tell them what’s good, ask what they think looks good, and be like “oh I insist” and just go ahead and order for them. You could also explain why you’re abstaining (like, “I haven’t had dessert in 10,000 years, I know it sounds funny but I’m dessert intolerant haha!”) … Don’t worry, I’m sure your guests had a good time ! :) with practice you’ll get used to it. It helps to pretend you’re some rich person throwing a banquet for a VIP. Lol.

        2. Mpls*

          If you/company was paying/hosting, then yes, then they might have been. Typically the one footing the bill sets the tone for what the bill will look like (appetizers, alcohol, dessert, expensive or not entrees).

        3. LibbyG*

          When I’m hosting, I usually order an after-dinner decaf right away so that the guests, hopefully, feel welcome to order something as well. If someone orders a dessert, I might order one too. If no one else orders anything, I assume they’re tired. So I request the check right away and try to drink some of the decaf until it comes, then I can get my guest back to their hotel ASAP.

        4. Ellen*

          I think you’re right about folks looking to you for clues, but wrong about how they would have taken them. If you’d ordered dessert and wine for the table (getting input, as suggested elsewhere, particularly about what folks would drink) and I’d been there, I would have consumed them. If, however, it was an every-woman-for-herself situation in terms of ordering those items, I would have looked to you regarding whether I should be drinking or eating those things. The cue, I think, is about what kind of event it is and how much the company will pay for–whether or not you, as the host, personally enjoy wine and dessert, there’s a signal to the rest of the table about whether it’s a wine-and-dessert kind of thing, and you can give that signal by foregoing it entirely, by ordering yourself a drink and a piece of cake, or by ordering wine and cake for the table. Does that make sense?

          One related thought is that, if you’re concerned about awkwardness, it often helps to sort of take the lead with things. Offer to pass things, encourage people to try them, etc–you can get a festive, try-things kind of atmosphere going on and if someone offers the item to you, you can smoothly decline without it seeming like some kind of Conspicuous Statement.

        5. TootsNYC*

          Well, they are looking to you for cues. But how you give them? You’ve got tons of options.

          The thing is this, to me:

          Your instincts are right-on. That’s a huge plus, so roll with them.

          So–wine. If wine seems sensible at dinner, then just say, “Do you want some wine?” or “Let’s see the wine list” or “I think we have enough people we could split a bottle. I probably won’t have any, but the rest of you should enjoy.”

          And “Yes, we’d like the dessert menu” is code for “you may order dessert on ‘my’ dime.”

    4. Not So Sunny*

      Pics of the hat and gloves or it didn’t happen. ;-D

      Can you pretend you’re having people to dinner at your home, in that you want them to be comfortable and feel like true guests? I do feel like filling in convo gaps and asking general “would anyone like dessert? Coffee?” might just keep things moving to a natural conclusion.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Ah, you got me. No hat and gloves. Just an itchy suit. If it was MY house, I would be drinking tons of wine, turning up the music and encouraging people to cut loose — just — not quite the right vibe for this very stuffy awkward dinner at what turned out to be a very mediocre restaurant.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I think if you’re not having any [wine|dessert], you can look at the menu and say to the person next to you or whoever you were talking to at the time “So, what do you think we should order?|What are you having?”, which will prompt them to make a selection, at which point the rest of the table will probably feel free to order for themselves.

    5. insert pun here*

      Yes, all of this. Offer to order a bottle of wine for the table, but don’t just choose something — get input. Or, otherwise make it clear to people that they should order a glass of wine if they want one, even if you’re not having one. Same with dessert. If you know someone well, you might offer to share an appetizer, depending on how formal the event is. Ask people about their work, their food, how they are enjoying their stay in [wherever you are.] If you’re local and they’re not, have some fun stories about your area to tell (no politics or religion; local history and quirks are good.) If you’re paying for dinner and you think your companions are going to try to grab the check (very common in my experience, as a youngish woman), tell the waiter beforehand (while you’re being seated) to bring the check to you. If there’s a business purpose to the meal, something that you’re planning on discussing in depth, generally wait until the main courses arrive or, if not that long, at least until you have drinks or the appetizer plates have been cleared. If you don’t drink, order a club soda with lime; if you don’t want dessert, order tea (peppermint is good and non caffeinated) so that your guests aren’t eating dessert alone. Good luck!

      1. frequentflyer*

        Yes to the last sentence. Guests feel awkward if the host is just watching them eat, so you should get something to drink.

    6. The Zone Of Avoidance*

      Next time this happens, ask your boss what he expects. It’s not an outrageous question, and different companies will have different guidelines. For instance, some companies are finicky about paying for alcohol. And/or they may expect you not to exceed some $$$ amount. And sometimes you’ll need to make a note of the names of all of the people who attended.

      As someone else mentioned: you will indeed be watched by the others for cues on what is appropriate. Typically, everyone will know that you’re the one who is paying, and waiters and waitresses are usually pretty good about reading this and figuring out who is the “head” of the table, and they’ll come to you first thing. So if wine or drinks are on the agenda, you’ll need to order to show everyone it’s “okay”. Ditto with appetizers and dessert. And don’t get the cheapest entree on the menu.

      It can be a bit difficult, because I don’t like to waste things, but yeah, I’ve had occasion to order a bottle of wine and I’ll pour myself a glass and take a pretend sip and just leave it. I don’t drink, but it’s something of a buzz-kill to talk about it, so I’ll just fake it. Sometimes I can pass my glass off to someone else, and they’ll drink it for me.

      With appetizers, it’s typically up to the host (that’s you) to poll the table and find out what people want, and then you’ll order for the table (just like you’d do with wine). It’s optional but not a bad thing to suggest to the table that you’ll all share appetizers: that way, people get to try several different things, and also nobody will get stuck with the (inevitable) “loser appetizer”. You don’t have to order one appetizer per person, if people don’t seem too hungry. If you’re dining at someplace like Ruth’s Chris, where everything is a la carte, you can do this with side dishes, too. Or everyone can order an individual side dish. If people are being quiet, remember that when you’re at a restaurant, it’s always okay to talk about the food: “What are you having, Bob?”

      Like appetizers, it’s okay to share desserts.

      This kinda falls under “advanced”, but if you find yourself at a table where people seem incapable of making or voicing a decision about what they want to eat, it’s okay for you to (carefully and politely) suggest (and proceed to order) food for someone else – typically something unexciting like chicken. Thankfully, this is extremely rare. If you should ever find yourself hosting a table that is utterly dead, you may want to reconsider a full dinner and suggest just appetizers, or just wine and appetizers.

      It helps to practice this stuff, and to watch someone else do it. Being able to host a meal at a restaurant is an arguably valuable “soft” skill, so you might want to consider asking your boss to let you tag along the next few times he takes people out.

      Finally: choose a restaurant that you are familiar with, ie, you’ve eaten there before, you know the layout, how to park, etc. It should be a ‘nice’ place where people can sit down and order (ie, no standing in lines) and it shouldn’t be loud or boisterous such that it will inhibit conversation. I’m not an especially big fan of Ruth’s Chris, but they’re kind of the McDonald’s of business dining: a consistent, safe choice. The Palm is another. If you’re in San Francisco, go to Harris’ Steakhouse. If you’re in NYC, avoid Delmonico’s – it’s surviving purely on the basis of name recognition.

      Actually, “best places for business meals” would be a fun thread here.

  11. BRR*

    Any tips for calming nerves before starting a new job? I know it’s part imposter syndrome and I have read about dealing with that. But I’m also worried as to whether it’s going to be a good fit or not (which I’d have no reason to believe it wouldn’t be) and even worried because it’s going to be a longer commute via public transit and how will I hold up spending so much time commuting and being at the mercy of trains running on time (although I am looking forward to commuting via train so I can read etc).

    1. YouHaveBeenWarned*

      For me, it helps to accept that I’m going to be a little nervous at first. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Once you start, you can channel that nervous energy into learning your new job, and there is something to be said for the idea that it’s better to be nervous than bored. As far as bad fit: well, you know you are capable of getting a job. You just did it once to get this job! If worst came to worst, you are not stuck there for the rest of your life.

      Commuting by train can be great. Leave a little early, dress in layers (the temperature differential between the outside and the subway platform seems to be permanently set at about 200 degrees), and have a rad book or some good longform articles ready.

      You’re going to rock this, nerves and all!

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        Yes, definitely acceptance is important. I say to myself “Well, the first few weeks at a new job, you’re going to feel awkward and nervous and bewildered, so just accept it. It’s part of life.” I then mentally project forward and visualise myself in about 2 months’ time, all up-to-speed and relaxed, and focus on that as the light at the end of the tunnel.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! Don’t define success as not feeling nervous and weird and anxious. Know that you’re going to feel those things and instead define success as being pleasant, thoughtful, professional, and starting to absorb information.

    2. Dawn*

      They hired *YOU* because they really liked what you brought to the table and think you’ll be a great fit in the role! Keep reminding yourself of that!

      As for the commute, give yourself plenty of wiggle room with it and be sure to follow public transportation announcements either online or via Twitter or an app (if your city does that- I know DC Metro is crazy good about that but some aren’t). After a week or two you’ll have a better idea of what’s normal.

      Also ask your manager how to handle transportation issues before they pop up. Say something like “I’m going to be commuting via (bus, train, whatever). If there’s a major disruption in service how would you like me to handle that and communicate the delay to you?” Asking way before anything happens means that you have a game plan in place, which will mitigate stress when you’re actually delayed because (train broke down, snowstorm, whatever).

    3. SilverRadicand*

      Oh, imposter syndrome, my old nemesis.

      Best things I can recommend for you, BRR:
      1. Assume you can do the work and that your new manager believes you can too! They picked you over all the other candidates based on the belief that you being on their team is a gain. Trust in their experience of what is required and what they believe you can do.
      2. Ask questions! Learn as much as you can and ask for feedback often. You are going to be new, so you aren’t going to know everything (or possibly much) about the new company, but everyone started there at one point. Getting that feedback early is the best way to gain experience that can help build your confidence that you DO belong there and that you ARE qualified.

      Keep us updated, BRR!

      1. BRR*

        Thanks! It means so much to me that people have followed my situation.

        I was so fortunate during my job hunt. Thanks to Alison’s advice I was interviewing with 5 different organizations during my last two weeks at my old job (I don’t recommend two interviews in one day). Got an offer the week after my last day and start soon! I think part of it is, not having a job can force you to take the first job that is offered and can otherwise cloud a good job.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Everybody has great suggestions, and I can’t top them. So I will just say, YAYYYY!!! Congrats! And I’m kind of jealous about public transport, LOL. I would love it if I didn’t have to navigate the hellish highway every morning. :)

  12. Recent Grad*

    Hi AAM Readers!

    I’m a recent grad (May 2015) and currently looking for FT roles – struggling still despite really good internships. My Alumni Career Centre has consistently advocated that I network instead of applying to jobs. I’ve been lucky to have gotten my internships just by applying so I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around networking will be more helpful than just applying. I’d love to hear about your experiences and tips about networking to land your first job or new job! Thanks so much.

    1. notfunny.*

      If you have internships, that is a great opportunity for networking. I had a great internship while I was getting my Masters, and people were incredibly helpful. I ended up getting connected with a headhunter who was sending me corporate HR jobs (not a great fit but seemed like a good idea at the time). Nothing worked out for a while, but she suggested that I apply to a position at her sister’s department at a prestigious medical school. I happened to know a bit about what that office did, and had a really good interview, and landed the job. I was at that organization and office for 3.5 years, learned SO MUCH and 7 years later I’m still working in the field, but in a very different role.

      It’s easier to get folks to take a look at your resume and cover letter if there is a personal connection. Additionally, everyone has had to apply to a first job, so they understand that it’s not easy! The first one is the hardest in my experience, and it gets easier as you get older and more experienced.

      1. HR Recruiter*

        +1 you HAVE to apply but networking can help get an interview especially for someone just out of school with little experience.

      2. BRR*

        That’s what I was thinking. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Networking is a great tool, but you can also get interviews and jobs without networking.

    2. Dawn*

      Networking is great, however, don’t discount just applying to stuff. The job I have now I landed completely and utterly cold. Granted, it’s the first job I have ever had that I landed this way! Every other job I have had I had because I either knew someone who could recommend me or because I was working through an agency.

    3. dancer*

      I got my current job because I went to school with a bunch of the other employees. They passed my resume along when there wasn’t an official job posting yet. Networking can certainly help!

      1. F.*

        We have hired good employees this way, too. The first person responded to a recruiting ad we were running on the internet, then he liked it here and suggested to his friends that they apply. We brought on a number from the same program at the same college this summer, and nearly all of them have been good hires.

    4. Kyrielle*

      Every job I’ve had, I’ve acquired by just applying; at the first, I had no possible networking connection. At the second, I knew a couple people who worked or had previously worked in wildly unrelated departments, but that was it.

      Networking is still a good idea – it might be how you get that job. And it might not; you might get it from just applying. If you haven’t, I’d suggest reading what Alison has to say about resumes and cover letters, and using that, as well.

      Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Is it up to date and linked to people you met in college and at the internships? Have you written any LI recommendations for others, or had any written for you? That can help – some companies look around on LI. (To be clear, LI recommendations don’t have a *lot* of weight, since they’re public and the person receiving them has to approve them – of course only the good will be shown! But they can be enough to make you look interesting enough to talk to.)

    5. Boston admin*

      I used temp agencies when I was looking for my First Full Time Job after college. Just getting your foot in the door somewhere really helps experience-wise and keeping you employed. Not sure what field you’re in but if it was liberal arts then that would be a good place to start, I was so tired of writing cover letters and it helped to have someone to add to complement job search. With the more experience you have the more your network will grow, I also had a hard time networking when I didn’t really have a network starting out. I have way more people now than I did when I first graduated to network with job opportunities. My current job I got by responding to a company website ad.

      Networking is invaluable though, if someone has a position to fill they are likely to ask around if anyone know anyone etc. I would start with the people at your internships and reach out to them about open positions or people they could connect you with, have a good idea of what kind of jobs you want though.

      1. Mpls*

        +1 to temp/contract/staffing agencies for entry level positions. That’s how I got my first (temp to perm) job out of college (in the sciences/medical device industry) and recommend exploring it as an option. And it was because of the contacts that I made at that job that I think I got my foot in the door when I came back to the same company applying for a different role (after about 10 years of doing other stuff in between).

      2. Felicia*

        In terms of temp agencies, although i got my current job just by applying and didn’t know anyone, the main reason i got it is the extremely relevant, very niche experience that i got at my last 3 month temp job (in addition to other vaguely relevant temp/internship experience). Very few people had the exact experience I got at that temp job. So it’s valuable in that way. But it’s definitely not easy to find a temp agency to find you jobs if you have no related experience, so don’t get discouraged if you go to a temp agency and they can’t find anywhere to place you because that’s super common for new grads, especially here.

    6. Barefoot Librarian*

      I work in an academic library, so one thing I did pretty early on was join regional and local professional organizations and attend meetings and conferences. I even presented at a couple. If this is an option for you, it’ll allow you to get your name out and make a good impression on some potential employers. To be honest, even if there aren’t any meetings, there’s always work to be done in these types of organizations and people love a young person who is enthusiastic and willing to jump in and help.

    7. Kira*

      I’ve had three jobs post-graduation and none of them were through networking. That was largely because I was moving to a new city each time, so there was no chance of knowing anyone. I feel like networking into jobs only works once you’re already in place somewhere. And all the people I’ve seen hired were either people who just applied for a position we posted or interns/temps who proved themselves and landed entry level positions.

    8. Cruciatus*

      It probably depends on the field how important networking is. I got my current job as an admin at a major university branch campus just by applying online. I knew no one. I didn’t go to school there. But the right person (my current supervisor) liked my application and that was that. So networking is fine (sorry I don’t have any tips for you), but keep applying to the things that interest you. Maybe eventually you’ll meet the right person who might help you out but you could potentially be missing out otherwise.

    9. Lily Rowan*

      I never got a job via networking until I had been in the workforce for 15 years, and I don’t think it’s because so much has changed about applying for jobs. When I’m hiring now, the “recommended” candidates are almost always less qualified than those who just come in over the transom. “I met this person, and they seem great!” doesn’t actually cut it.

      So in short, sure, network, but please do keep applying for jobs! (And I’m pretty sure checking the archives here will show you a ton of terrible advice being given out by college career people….)

    10. Honeybee*

      I don’t have tips about networking into a job, but I will put in a +1 for applying to jobs. People kept telling me that no one gets jobs by just applying online anymore and you have to network, but I got my current job by applying online, and I had other interviews and responses from applying online. I’m not saying don’t network, but I think you can take a two-pronged approach.

    11. Anonymous for this*

      I agree you need to do both, but sometimes networking is just being nice to people. Granted I live in a small city, but I have just happened to know people who suggested I apply, or knew me when I applied, and I had a reputation as a hard worker! My second real job I knew the receptionist in passing because I worked at a grocery store in high school and was nice and pleasant and she pushed my application directly to a person who was hiring!

    12. Serin*

      I’m going to give you a long-winded example of how networking worked in my most recent job search. I was new in town and making a career change, so I was pretty much starting from ground zero.

      1. Took a temp job in an office building that housed several businesses.
      2. Temp co-worker says, “Oh, have you taken the free Intro To The Community class that the community college gives? It’s a great way to meet people.”
      3. Sign up for this five-week class. At dinner the first night, say to the guy next to me at the table, “Oh, I wish I could work for your company, but I don’t have the technical skills.” He says, “Can you use Excel? There are all sorts of jobs there that don’t require any more tech skills than that.”
      4. Mention this conversation to another temp co-worker. She says: “You know they’re right upstairs, right? Every Wednesday morning they have a recruiter in the lobby.”
      5. Take my resume to the recruiter in the lobby, who highlights three jobs and says, “Apply for those.”
      6. Some weeks later, get a call to interview for one of those three jobs. E-mail the guy I met in the intro class in a panic: “Do you know this dept? Do you know this hiring manager?” He e-mails back: “Don’t know the manager specifically, but in that department you want to stress being flexible and able to learn new processes quickly.”
      7. Get an offer for the job. E-mail the guy in another panic: “They want salary requirements. Do you know the range for this job?” He replies with one figure, which he says is the only pay he’s seen for entry-level people.

      So it isn’t exactly that networking got me a job. But networking told me that there were jobs available for my skillset, told me who could help me figure out which ones they were, and got me extremely useful information on culture, values, and pay.

    13. Felicia*

      Well we’re hiring for an entry level job, where if someone had good internships that were relevant, and graduated in May 2015 we’d totally consider them! But we’re just considering people who just apply, no networking required.

      This is just one data point, and networking is great, but you for sure shouldn’t do it INSTEAD of applying for jobs. Maybe in addition to? Most people I know, myself included, get jobs just by applying. Your internships are a great place to start networking, but it sounds like your Alumni Career centre may be pointing you in the wrong direction.

    14. Ellen*

      I found informational interviewing (and networking via my alma mater’s alumni club) to be really useful in figuring out what companies did work I thought I’d like and who at those companies could tell me about the industry in my (new) home. Keep applying, for sure, but also keep talking to people; if nothing else, they can tell you where to apply!

  13. Jubilance*

    Has anyone else ever felt like their career has stalled and successfully navigated through it? I’m feeling this way and it’s getting me down. I went from a challenging career in lab chemistry, where I made a lot of progress in my career, to where I am now. I’ve been at my company for 3 years, and I haven’t been challenged in the same way. I haven’t grown and developed as much as I did previously and I worry this is going to stall my career.

    1. HR Recruiter*

      only everyday! I went from a big fish in a small pound to a big fish in a huge lake which is much less stress but I have more personal anxiety about not being challenged and feeling like I’m not as useful.

    2. Rookie Biz Chick*

      I felt this way for a several years in a couple of jobs. The way I changed the trajectory was to start a business! I know it’s not a practical option for many, but has been amazing for me to break out of a boring silo and find so many awesome and challenging opportunities to grow.

      Companies and organizations often are too busy with the day-to-day operations to meaningfully consider employee development. And, it’s a tough, no doubt – what works for some doesn’t work for all. Projects and tasks aren’t always assigned with the intention of growing a new skill set in an employee when that already exists elsewhere in the company.

      Networking, keeping up with industry trends, meeting with a mentor – these are great opportunities in which to invest.

      1. The Zone Of Avoidance*

        This. Or something like this.

        Basically: start devoting time and effort to learning about / doing something you are interested in – preferably something that is somehow related to your field of expertise. I once started up a website development company with my wife. This was back when the web was just starting to become popular – I ended up acquiring many skills that were extremely valuable at my day job.

    3. Trixie*

      Similar concerns and was just thinking of this today. Underemployed and not in any way doing as much as I’m capable of. Hoping when I am employed again it will challenge me and more directly related to my previous positions. I do have side projects/gigs that are continuing and am grateful for those in the mean time.

    4. Caffeinated*

      Not growing is definitely going to stall your career but you can take steps to move forward. Sometimes it’s just the inertia that gets you down. I was also faced with the same situation at my last job (3+ years) and what I did was first push for more responsibility while in the same role. Feeling a bit lost about my future direction, I also did a lot of Linkedin stalking of people further along in their careers and looking at how they got to where they are, what companies they worked for etc.

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

      Absolutely hilarious! Why am I hearing cheerful, upbeat background music circa 1970’s with this in my head?

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      SO funny! It would be so nice to walk out of an interview with a job, in writing…. *wistful stare into the distance of an underemployed 20-something*

  14. Forward, march!*

    I need some thoughts…

    I’ve been working in local government for about seven years since I graduated from college, I’ve never worked anywhere else at a full time job. Working here is great because the hours are set and I don’t work overtime regularly, the benefits are great, and there’s no concern about layoffs or firings for abject reasons. However, there’s also little opportunity to move up in my career and I’ve been in my position for five years with increasing levels of frustration.

    I’m considering applying for a job at a large multinational corporation doing something that I regulate now (although this would not be regulated by my agency). However, I’m hesitant because I don’t have a particularly favorable view of the private sector. While the pay could be an increase (although of course the job posting doesn’t have a range), I’m concerned about having to work long hours and have poor benefits. Has anyone else made this transition? How did it go? How is your work/life balance? I am working on my master’s degree and have classes two nights a week. I really value my time off and don’t want to take on anything that will require a 50 hour work week.

    Can anyone confirm/assuage my fears?

    1. Dawn*

      There’s plenty of private sector employers who overwork their employees and require crazy hours, and there’s plenty of employers who don’t. Definitely start by looking at reviews for employers on Glassdoor before you apply because trends will pop up in those reviews and give you a good place to start. There’s also plenty of employees who are very focused on work-life balance and are happy to have perks like unlimited time off, lots of flexibility around WFH, etc.

      Be sure to ask about work-life balance in interviews as well. I know AAM has had plenty of stuff on how to get a good feel for how a company operates without coming out and asking “Hey are y’all going to make me work more than 40 hours a week?” which obviously won’t go over well.

    2. AnotherHRPro*

      Check out GlassDoor reviews for the company to get a sense of the culture an work life balance. Most major multi-national companies have fairly good benefits – maybe not as good as government, but good.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Good options that fit what you want are out there. And bad options that will be exactly what you fear are, too.

      Remember that the interviewing process is also your chance to evaluate them. Review their web sites, if the web site doesn’t give you a clear ‘no’ feel them out in interviews (remember that work-life-balance policies on the web site means they exist in theory, but may or may not be frowned on in practice, so still feel them out if the web site looks positive, not just neutral), check glass door for current/former employees’ views (remember to have a salt shaker handy for the necessary grain of), all that stuff. That’s how you tell the good from the bad – and yes, some of it is guesswork.

      There are awesome places out there, though. I know; I’m at one, now. :)

    4. Jerzy*

      I spent six years in state government. I now work for a private firm that does consulting with the federal government. While I definitely have to work more than 40 hours a week on occasion, the pay is considerably better, and unlike with the government, I have to option to work from home now and then.

      I didn’t have the best view of the private sector either, but this position has already opened more doors to me simply by virtue of expanding my list of contacts and increasing my personal cache. My old position offered no upward mobility, no chance for a pay raise, really, and would have kept me as a cog in the wheel.

      I say, go for it. You can always return to public/nonprofit work, and probably at a much high level than you left it.

    5. Forward, march!*

      Thanks…I’ve already read through 30 or so reviews on Glassdoor and they sound okay (and that the company pays on the low scale) but nothing was for my local office. A lot in India, North Carolina, and Denmark, but nothing here and I know it can vary quite widely from office to office. Nothing on salaries for the type of position that I would be applying to anywhere in the world.

      I think my biggest thing is that government jobs are SO stable and private sector jobs seem incredibly volatile and increasingly disadvantageous for the employee.

      1. Honeybee*

        That also varies a lot by company. I work in the private sector and I accepted an offer here in large part because people seemed to stay here for a long time – 10-15+ years, in many cases. They sometimes moved to different teams in the same company or moved up through the management ranks – but they stayed.

    6. Paige Turner*

      It might make sense to wait until you’re done with your degree, but even after that, I understand not wanting to work long hours. You probably won’t get all the government holidays at a corporate job, but there would probably be more flexibility in negotiating benefits at hire or based on performance, instead of just based off of time spent in the job.
      If you don’t end up in the corporate job this time for whatever reason, could you also look for another government job (local or fed)? You don’t mention the causes of your frustration with your current job, but you might be able to find a better government position that let’s you advance and still keep the government perks. Good luck!

      1. Forward, march!*

        I think I’d really prefer to stay in government although working in the private sector for a while could be good for me. I’m actually looking to change career paths altogether in the future, but it won’t be for another few years and it’s probably going to require a significant pay cut. I really, really need to get out of the job that I’m in now though. I’ve been to my breaking point and passed it and have been applying to most anything of interest/in my fields for the last year. Unfortunately, that’s not a lot of things. I’m starting to consider looking out of state, I’d like to move away from the Midwest anyway.

  15. YouHaveBeenWarned*

    Anyone have any tips on writing a yearly self-evaluation when you don’t feel like you’ve done a great job this year?

    1. Barefoot Librarian*

      That’s a hard one. My instinct is to focus not only on what you did well this year (because there’s also something) but what you have learned and how you have improved (even if that hasn’t resulted in the successes you wanted). You could also address specific issues/problems in your goals and specific ways in which you are going to remedy them next year.

      I wish you the best of luck. That’s a hard situation to be in but everyone has less-than-stellar years. Try to focus on improving not beating yourself up.

    2. Terra*

      You can focus somewhat on why you haven’t done a great job, provided that they’re reasons not excuses. For example, if you’re getting tasks last minute or having to wait for someone else to finish something you should be able to note those as a “this seems to be causing a problem, is there something that can be done?” way. As long as you admit to your part in any issues it’s fair to point out other factors and it may make you, and your boss, feel better about your overall performance and ability to do better.

  16. Winter is Coming*

    Looking for a reputable search firm that specializes in or handles engineering positions in the Cinci, OH area! Anyone out there have any they are comfortable recommending? I have a relative who is looking for a position.

  17. Transatlantic Arts Manager*

    I’m an American moving to the UK to be closer to family living in England. I’m eligible to work and have been thinking about navigating a job search in a new country. Most of my past experience is managing small businesses in the arts. What advice would you give to someone looking for work or navigating a new workplace in England? I’m curious of any cultural differences I might run into.

    1. Anony-Moose*

      No advice but I’m glad you posted. That’s our plan once we no longer have our Pit Bull (booo Pit Bull Ban in the UK).

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      I don’t know anything about the Arts sector, having never worked in it but general workplace differences seem to be: 37.5 hours a week is the UK/EU(?) standard, generally it seems to be difficult to fire people, contracts for employment exist, offer letters exist – although they often offer you over the phone, attach by email and send a paper copy, you usually have to formally write a letter of resignation (doesn’t have to be anything fancy) about a month out or 2-3 months if you’re on a higher grade/management/important person. Your holiday allocation is much higher (mine is 23 days, with public holidays already taken off, which makes it about 29).

    3. Marzipan*

      Well, I’ve never worked in the US but things I’d say seem to be different based on what I’ve read (here and elsewhere):

      In a professional job, a notice period of one month would be the normal expectation, with 3 months not unheard-of in senior roles.

      Larger organisations will quite often use application forms (increasingly, online ones) rather than a CV + covering letter combo. If you send a CV when they wanted their own process followed, it will probably go in the round file.

      Job benefits are not so much of a thing, because we have the NHS and pretty much everyone gets a decent amount of holiday to begin with. It’s not like there’s never anything to consider beyond salary, but it’s not the same kind of consideration as it seems to be in the US.

      ‘Sick days’ don’t exist as a thing you have a certain number of to take when you are sick (or, say, visiting the doctor). In some jobs (retail, say) employees might not get time off paid at the full rate if they’re ill, but would get Statutory Sick Pay. In professional jobs it will more often be part of your employment contract that you get a decent amount (e.g. my work would give me 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay). You can only use that when you’re actually sick, though, so routine doctors appointments or whatever would need to be organised on your own time.

      Similarly, maternity and paternity entitlements (should these apply to you at any point) are usually much more generous than in the States.

      You will have an employment contract. It may not be written down (though it usually will be), but it’s still a contract even if it’s just verbal.

      It’s not unusual for job interviews to be a one-off thing, rather than a series of phone calls and meetings. You apply in whatever format they ask for, you get shortlisted, you go to an interview (possibly also involving some kind of task like a presentation or whatever), and that’s it. Again, in some roles and some fields there will be more stages, but the sequence above wouldn’t be odd.

      In my experience, references are done in writing (and may be quite basic – many employers will only do a statement of the dates a person worked for them). So long as someone’s prepared to sign off on you not being an axe-murderer, that will often suffice.

      That’s all I can think of for now, but I’m sure more will come to me…

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Ack, I can’t believe I didn’t mention the whole interview thing!!

        Also, I’m pretty sure a C.V is ok being two pages, rather than the US based one page resume. I’ve always had 2 pages (first personal/education, second page job titles/bullet points of achievement), although these days online applications are more & more common and the C.V is used as extra information with your application.

        1. Transatlantic Arts Manager*

          Wow, thank you, Marzipan and Carrie in Scotland! What a wealth of information. I think I’m going to get used to the additional days off quickly.

          In the States, I have had jobs where being available by email during the evening and weekend hours is common. I know it probably depends on the sector, but have you run into that often?

          1. misspiggy*

            It is common, particularly in London, but outside of high level finance and law, not expected. If you’re contactable in an emergency and manage your workload well, hours are often flexible and you aren’t expected to work yourself into the ground. Except for the humanitarian sector, where burnout is a badge of honour :-/

            The other main work culture difference is the indirectness. For example, if asked, ‘How did you think that went?’, it’s quite possible the other person is expecting you to pick up on some disaster that just happened, for which they’re ready to blame you unless you can CYA/reframe it as a learning experience.

            Also, while people can be Eeyore-like to the point of being disappointed if things don’t go wrong, you have to be very careful about assigning blame. Better to identify a process problem or an overall skills gap rather than faulting any one person or department, at least initially.

  18. Barefoot Librarian*

    This past summer I moved about 6 hours away for what is basically my dream job, but doing so meant leaving my girls in our old town. I invited them both to move with me, of course, but one chose to finish her last year of high school and the other had just signed a lease on her first apartment. The oldest drove up to visit me last night. She got in early this morning and I am leaving after lunch to go spend time with her. I’m glad I took this job and it has great tuition benefits for my kids, but I miss them. I’m giddy about spending the day with my daughter.

    I wonder if anyone else has had to leave kids for work and carry around the mixed bag of emotions that goes with it?

    1. Anx*

      I have not had to do that; I don’t even have kids. But my current partner (long term, live in, serious) and I have been talking about the possibility of long-distance parenting and marriage, as he is planning on going for a career that has a lot of geographic limitations and we may not be able to find work in the same city all of the time.

      It sounds like your kids are older, which probably makes it a lot easier, but it must still be tough.

      In the short term, I’m thinking about taking a part-time job for seasonal work. Of course that means retail where I live, so that would mean no going home for Christmas or Thanksgiving or the gap week between Christmas and New Year’s. I miss my parent quite a bit, and while I need the money, I almost secretly hope I don’t get the jobs. I am trying to think of an alternative part-time job where I can see my family for one of the late fall/winter holidays.

      How do your children seem to be taking it?

      1. Barefoot Librarian*

        They call me every day and I know it’s been hard on my high schooler (who has suddenly had to move in with her dad that she’s never lived with), but they are doing really well all in all. I’m really proud of them.

        It’s so hard to find part time work that’s not retail or food service. I wish you good luck! When I was younger I fell into a seasonal job doing phone support for a tax software company during tax season, and I kept working that part time job for several years even after I got a “real” job. Unfortunately, tax prep/support isn’t the right kind of seasonal for most people.

        I will say that my oldest daughter works food service and can rarely take time off during the holidays, but she makes up for it by coming the week before or after (kind of similar to what you mentioned with the gap week) and it’s just as special. I fully intend to cook a Thanksgiving dinner a week early this year.

  19. Richard Rich*

    If I mention a salary range in an initial phone interview and the recruiter seems confident I could get that much, could I negotiate for 10-15% more at the in-person interview?

    1. Buggy Crispino*

      I think there’s always a way of saying “this job sounds a little more detailed/advanced than we originally discussed. I really think I’d be interested but I feel that industry standards are probably a little more along the lines of X+15%.” (Though I’m not sure if my wording is the best).

    2. lulu*

      That’s tricky. If they’ve shared the information with the company, it could look like you’re going back on your word. Curious what others have to say though.

    3. Karowen*

      My general understanding is that it’s bad faith to go in with a range and then try to change it later. Think about the reverse: If the company gave you a range to which you responded positively, knowing that the low end of the range would be just enough to entice you to leave your current job, and then at offer time gave you a number 15% below that, you probably wouldn’t be super happy about it – I know I’d be pissed.

    4. INFJ*

      I agree with Buggy. You can always say that once you learned more about the role, you realized that $X is a more reasonable/appropriate salary.

  20. Wut?*

    I’ve been on a couple of interviews recently that ask whether my current company knows I’m looking. Can anyone provide insight as to why an interviewer would ask that?

    1. frequentflyer*

      They want to know whether you’re serious enough about finding a new job that your current company knows about it. If you’re keeping it a secret from your current company, you’re probably still open to the option of staying with your current company.

      1. Dawn*

        That’s an insane line of thinking, especially with the horror stories we’ve heard around here where managers will fire you if they so much as suspect you’re looking for a new job!

        I’d imagine it might be because they then can contact your current company for references.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Whoa, no! It’s very normal not to tell your current employer that you’re looking. Doing otherwise could lose you your job.

        They ask the question because they want to know how discreet they need to be.

    2. SilverRadicand*

      Also, they be trying to see whether calling your manager would “out” you and looking and possibly lose you the job.

    3. mondegreen*

      I remember a few letters in which an employer was conducting layoffs over a period of time, or gave employees advance warning that their position would be phased out in X months. It seems reasonable that some of those employers would encourage a job search (explicitly or implicitly) and might even be available as references.

      In academia, it’s fairly normal for employers to know that you’re looking and for your current employer to give a reference.

    4. The IT Manager*

      They want to know if they contact your current manager/job for reference without harming your current position.

  21. Ad Astra*

    My boss and I are not on the same page when it comes to social media. He wants things that are “viral” and “ice bucket challenge” and “share this post if…” and I think we need to take a less gimmicky route and bump up our content marketing so that we actually have something to say on social media.

    How can I handle assignments that I think are misguided without coming off as insubordinate? Sometimes I can appease him with an alternate idea, but a lot of the time I’m completely stumped.

    1. just laura*

      People will engage/share if you are providing something of value! Are you in for-profit or non-profit? Appeal to the needs/values of your audience rather than trying to imitate things that were viral. (Which I think you know already…)

      To convince your boss of this, I suggest measuring. You can show that X content marketing resulted in Y new followers/engagement but that Z “viral attempt” resulted in -A followers (or whatever). Metrics are your friend in the face of a boss like this. Good luck!

      1. Ad Astra*

        We’re a for-profit, and our products are generally pretty boring. Our company also has a conservative, buttoned-up culture that doesn’t really lend itself well to social media. (In fact, most people in the company can’t even access social media from their work computers.)

        Once we have some decent content available, we can put together a strategy that offers value. Right now, I don’t feel like we have much to offer in that area.

        So far my boss’s ideas for engagement have not panned out well, and the metrics definitely show that. We have very few followers (my personal Twitter has more followers than the branded Twitter and Facebook combined), so even our most successful stuff doesn’t get very far. I’m just afraid that he thinks these campaigns are duds because of something I’m doing, when I really believe his concepts are flawed.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I know the feeling. Sometimes I have to do what the client wants, even if your experience tells you that it’s the wrong approach. (For me it’s rare and to a lesser degree, but I know many consultants struggle with this.)

      I’d recommend coming up with your own plan using your own approach, and instead of saying “Don’t do it your way, do it my way”, you’ll need to offer to intersperse your ideas with his. Once you can do that, you can probably get analytics that show how much more interaction is generated by your method.

      Also, throw “best practices” around a lot. :D But seriously, if you can show examples and summarize white papers that support your plan, you will have a better chance of integrating it as I suggested.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I would rather just say, “Bob, that idea is stupid and makes us look desperate.” Are you sure that’s not an option? ;)

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Sure….is your resume in good shape? :p

          Really, though, if you don’t get anywhere with trying to work your methods in there, that might be a good time to start looking, if not even sooner.

    3. EmmBee*

      Show your boss case studies — there’s tons out there about how brands hit or missed the mark on social media with great, real examples. Measure, measure, measure. Also, compare and contrast — do an analysis of three posts that are value-adds (real, useful content – no gimmicks) compared to the kinds of posts he prefers. He’ll see the numbers.

      Overall this is just an education issue for him. Part of your job will have to be educating your teammates on how social works. May I suggest something that may add to your workload but help you in the long run? Send out a weekly update showcasing your social media efforts — posts of the week, impressions and reach, etc — as well as links to a few important industry news (there are tons of places to get the latest news, from techcrunch to mashable to allfacebook and alltwitter to fastcompany, etc.).

      I run social for a big brand and the #1 thing I hear from people who casually use social media personally but don’t know anything about running it for a brand is “Let’s make a viral video!” so I feel your pain. GL!

      1. Ad Astra*

        The weekly update email is a great idea! I have a tendency to neglect our social media accounts when we don’t have specific news to communicate, so sending out some metrics each week would also be a way to hold myself accountable when I’m buried under internal comms projects.

    4. Ama*

      I don’t know if this will help, but if he’s really stuck on the Ice Bucket challenge as an example, it might be worth pointing out that no marketing person came up with that idea — the original person came up with it on his own and didn’t loop the org in at all until it had started (I’ve heard an ALS Association staff member give a talk about the logistics of handling the Challenge after it basically fell into their laps, it was really fascinating).

      1. Ad Astra*

        I never knew that! It really speaks to the idea that you can’t just create viral content. My boss seems to understand that intellectually but still takes a gimmicky approach to social media campaigns. He literally said “I always laugh when people say ‘let’s create a viral video,'” and in the same breath basically asked me to create a viral social media post.

    5. Anx*

      This has nothing to do with your actual question, but bless you!

      I’m a millenial who uses social media every day, but mostly comment sections, maybe tumblr, checking in on FB (where I post now maybe once every few months, weekly for likes or comments maybe).

      Once thing that really irks me is when companies have really aggressive social media campaigns that seem all about boosting connections, likes, and practically spamming their followers. It turns me off in a major way. It also makes me a little sad that regular coupons or specials are being replaced by ‘like our FB page to receive 20% off your purchase.’

      I’m probably in the minority, and I don’t even know exactly why it makes me so crabby, but I feel overwhelmed and put off by a lot of social media self-promotion.

  22. frequentflyer*

    1 week after an interview, I got a message from the recruiter-
    “Hi frequentflyer, just spoke w hr of Teapots Inc. They are still interviewing other candidates this week hence can only give me an update after they have seen them. He said you are good and likely to be shortlisted for final interview with CFO. :)”

    Should I keep my hopes up? But being a AAM regular, it seems to me this message is like a non-message… Likely to be shortlisted does not equal to shortlisted, it just means “we haven’t confirmed your rejection”. :((( -prays hard-

    1. Karowen*

      I’d assume it’s just the recruiter trying to keep their word regarding follow-up time/proactively head off emails asking about status. Basically, continue operating as you have because realistically nothing has changed – you’re still just at the initial interview stage. (That said, I”ll keep my fingers crossed for you!!)

  23. HR Recruiter*

    Has there been a post on the weirdest resumes? If I had to list my top five weirdest things I’ve seen on a resume lately are…

    1. Bra size
    2. Full physical description of their hair, “male with curly hair with matured sideburns”
    3. Selfie taken in dirty bathroom just after waking up and about to get in the shower
    4. Sexy selfie at the club
    5. Most recent job listed as…. Title: Mommy, Employer: Smith household, Duties: loving the cutest kids ever little Johnny and Suzie, Achievements: voted #1 mommy

    1. dancer*

      I think #5 comes up fairly often (or at least it feels that way from the comments on this site) but holy shit are the others absolutely nuts. The only time I can think of that bra size or hair description is necessary is for something like a modelling job.

      1. HR Recruiter*

        I have seen photos and descriptions on model/actor resumes that were using the same resume for their acting gigs as they were using for a part time side job. And they were listed in a more professional way. The ones mentioned here were done in very odd, odd ways. I wish I could post the whole resume.

      2. Natalie*

        If that writing style is accurate to the source this is so much worse. The ostensible point is to treat SAH parenting like a job, a point you have clearly missed if you describe it in a cutesy, childish fashion.

    2. Anony-Moose*

      WHAT? Just amazing.

      I should start putting “self-proclaimed best cat mommy of the year two years in a row” on my resume, right?

          1. Anony-Moose*

            Furry little f*ckers. Mine just follows me around the house screaming for attention, then ignores me.

            Personal Body Guard of Large Furless Cat (2008-Present)
            -Ensures Large Furless Cat Lady wakes up at 5am every day by screeching in her ear.
            -Assists with daily meditation practice by sitting in lap and purring loudly.
            -Provides ongoing security including capturing and drowning toys, leaves from plants, and hair ties.
            -Collaborating with dog to maximize fur-to-furniture ratio.


            I am a cat.


            1. HR Recruiter*

              Oh this is great! I wouldn’t mind if I received a resume from a cat, give me a good laugh for the day.

              1. Anony-Moose*

                I’m really tempted to create resumes for my cat and dog, just for the hell of it. My sister’s OBSESSED with her cat so that might be a funny stocking stuffer…

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          That’s why you always get your dog to provide your references. They are always glowing recommendations.

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          If I had to hire one of the five, Sideburns would be the one, actually. It was the “mommy” one that made me cringe the most.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I’m a bit curious as what “matured sideburns” look like. Are they grey? Just really long? Particularly well-groomed – as I expect from maturity? Almost worth calling someone in for an interview to find out. Almost.

            1. Creag an Tuire*

              I’m going with the assumption that the resume writer literally looks like Ambrose Burnside.

    3. alter_ego*

      Did #5 at least have one of those fake job lists where “Mommy” proclaims that she’s a chef, a doctor, a CEO, a therapist etc.?

      1. Anx*

        I once saw that my mom had listed something about my brother and I as a great accomplishment on an application when she was trying to reenter the workforce. She is anything but cutesy and I don’t think she ever would have brought us up on her own, but the question included a time frame which precluded her professional accomplishments and she really was quite proud of keeping a roof over our heads, etc. during a pretty nasty divorce. I almost cried when I saw that, because I thought it made her look out of touch. I also felt so guilty for being part of the reason she left the workforce (although she did run a business for about a decade).

        She tried to focus on more relevant experiences, but her old career wasn’t an option, our retail business was in a dying model, and she was trying to change careers. She had done a few things here and there freelance, but nothing that she thought matched her familial accomplishments.

        While that answer was probably misguided, I think it was at least sincere. Whereas the chef, CEO, chaffeur thing seems gimmicky.

    4. SnowWhite*

      We had a CV with a picture of who I am assuming is the applicant wearing a cleavage baring top, with the slogan “I make the boys cry”…

    5. Calla*

      I’ve definitely seen some mommy ones, but I think the BEST one I’ve ever seen was an application to my former law firm that included, on the resume, a paragraph about the applicant’s love for anime/”Japanimation.”

      1. F.*

        I’ll see your anime lover and raise you a “furry” who went into great detail about her activities in costume as her animal persona in her cover letter when applying for a front desk receptionist/admin position.

    6. K.*

      Unless you are applying for a job at Hooters, I cannot understand why you’d include your bra size on your resume.

    7. BRR*

      I saw one where it was two columns and in one column the candidate listed qualities and ranked themselves out of five stars. For one characteristic, they only gave a 2, my guess is to show they are admitting they have things to work on.

    8. Sascha*

      I’ve only come across one resume in my time that listed being a parent as a job, and it was so weird. At least it didn’t have “voted #1 mommy” on it…

      Other weird things I’ve seen include the woman with a 19-page resume (not a US-based CV, which is used for professorships, but just a regular resume for an entry level job) who listed not only every conference she ever attended, but also every session (with things like “Making Greeting Cards in Photoshop”). She had 2 bachelor’s and 6 master’s degrees in totally disparate subjects, applying for an entry level tech support job, and I just couldn’t figure out what her end game was.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Clearly she is a professional student. (I dated one of those in college. Daddy had given him a trust fund.)

  24. Anony-Moose*

    1) Chicago’s putting together another AAM Meetup. Thanks to Megan for getting it going! If you want to join, email

    2) Question! Nonprofit fundraising folks: what websites do you use when looking for job? I know of LinkedIn, Idealist, (which is just Chicago-area I think?),

    Where else should I be looking?

    We’re going to be relocating to Portland and I’m starting to lay the foundation for my job search!

    1. Development professional*

      For your question:
      Chronicle of Philanthropy, Association of Fundraising Professionals (national and local chapter websites), Nonprofit Times. Also, depending on the exact fundraising function you’re looking for, there are professional associations for some sub-specialties, like APRA for prospect researchers, and a number of different ones for Planned Giving specialists, Direct Marketing Assoc. for the annual fund folks if your org is big enough. Idealist is a big for fundraisers, but I would not bother with Indeed.

      1. Anony-Moose*

        Thanks! Somehow I blanked on ALL of those and I’m a member of AFP locally. My last few jobs have come through networking so I’m a bit of a fish out of water at the moment.

      2. Robin*

        There is a job’s list out together by a PR Firm in Portland that’s called Mac’s List you may be interested in checking out. They post a variety of jobs, everything from Events Coordinator to Systems Analyst to Behavioral Youth Counselor just in the last email. The website also offers Portland-specific job search tips.

        Assuming we are talking about Portland, OR, of course…

    2. BRR*

      Development professional made great recommendations. If there is a type of nonprofit you want to fundraise for bookmark the career sections of specific organization’s websites. I need a library job has a fair number of development jobs and also higheredjobs.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        There’s also a site, but I think my biggest local U’s didn’t post on it. For those, you have to go straight to the source.

        1. HigherEd Admin*

          The Chronicle of Higher Education has lots of job postings too, many of which are for university fundraising.

        2. Lia*

          I thought HigherEdJobs scraped websites, but you’re right, some universities don’t seem to show up there.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    Just want to vent today.

    I’m getting ready for a regulatory exam (I work at a bank) and it’s such an exhausting process. We work hard all year long to do all the things we’re supposed to be doing and to incorporate all the examiners’ “recommendations”, but it just seems like the month before they get here is just crazy. It seems like I always find something that didn’t get as much attention as it should have, or I forgot to change a procedure and when I go to edit it, it needs a complete overhaul. This year is extra tough because I haven’t been here a year yet, we expanded the department by 133% at the time I arrived, and we have lots of new and changed processes. We also had to do a few tedious cleanup projects, plus an implementation of a new software module. So, yeah, I’m tired and so is my brain.

  26. Bend & Snap*

    My company is almost certainly getting acquired next week.

    I JUST bought a condo close to my job in an area I wouldn’t otherwise have moved to. And I love working for this company.

    So sad and scared.

    1. Delyssia*

      I don’t know your industry or situation, but an acquisition does not automatically mean that you will lose your job nor that your office will be shut down. I work for a large firm in my industry, and when we acquire another firm, there’s typically a three-year buyout period where changes for the acquired firm are pretty minimal (we’re not laying people off, closing offices, etc.). I realize your industry and your company’s situation may be different, but it may not be the worst-case scenario you think.

      And if thinking about the worst-case scenario helps you plan for it, then go ahead and plan. But if it just stresses you out and doesn’t help you figure out contingency plans, then try to distract yourself with something that makes you happy.

      Good luck!

      1. Jennifer*

        Seconded. My mom went through this this year and she’s at least guaranteed a year’s employment. And the new folks actually like her better. My shrink has told me the same thing happened with her husband’s company.

        Fingers crossed for you.

    2. Dasha*

      Hope everything works out for you. I worked for a company that was purchased by another (and this was a small company like less than 200 people, two offices in the US and an office in Russia) and it took at least 6 to 8 months to get everything together and start making changes (aka layoffs). I’d say for a bigger company it would probably take even longer, maybe some others can lend their experiences?

      Also, like Delyssia said it doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose your job. Although a lot of my old co-workers got laid off from that job, there are still plenty there who are still working.

      Positive thoughts your way, don’t stress!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      My last company was acquired by a huge global conglomerate, and things went pretty well, overall. Not a lot changed at first. They eventually brought in someone to streamline things (that’s when I got laid off), but grapevine has it he himself was let go (heh heh). I went in for a visit last summer to see if they had any scrap I could have, and a couple of people who used to work there and left have come back. So I guess they’re doing okay.

      I will cross fingers and toes for you though. Xo_oX

  27. These are the droids*

    I had an interview yesterday! The job would be pretty challenging but it sounds like a good kind of challenge. If they offer it to me though I’ll have to work hard at negotiating to the midpoint or higher of their posted range, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth my while to leave my current position. Should hear back early next week hopefully

  28. Another Recent Grad*

    What are your thoughts on applying for multiple positions/roles in the same company? Big companies like say Microsoft or Intel have hundreds of position open. Since the resumes get filtered by software first, perhaps they would notice this only if I get shortlisted to more than one interview by the same manager?
    I would like to get my foot in the door and later perhaps take on an internal position that is to my liking.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I work at a big company (fortune 200) and when I applied for one role, they moved me to another for fit. I think that tends to happen in large organizations–they solicit for skill sets and fit people in based on need and fit, vs. just what they applied for.

    2. HR Recruiter*

      If they are using an applicant tracking system which it sounds like they are they can probably see how many positions you’ve applied for. The only time this is a red flag for me is if they are applying for anything and everything or they appear to have no idea what they want to do for example they are applying for graphic designer and accountant. then I scratch my head do you want to work in graphics design or in finance?
      As long as you are applying for positions in your field that you are qualified for go for it!

    3. Honeybee*

      I applied for multiple positions at one of the two companies you listed – same role, but different teams/products. They wouldn’t have had the same manager. I actually did get shortlisted for both positions. What happened is that the manager of one of the roles and a recruiter for the other one simultaneously contacted me; I told the recruiter, and he told me to let the manager handle it from here on out and that the manager would keep him in the loop about how the process for the one role was going. I do remember one of them – I think it was the manager – asking me which one I would prefer. I told whichever one it was that I would greatly prefer position X over position Y for [reasons], and it was fine. (I was actually offered, and took, that position.)

  29. yourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

    Its no secret that I have a hard time working with people, I don’t like attention and prefer to be in my own little corner left alone. I have the perfect job for that. I work in an outpatient draw station, I love my job, each interaction is less than 5 minutes and its perfect. Sunday I fractured my wrist sending me to do office work for my boss- a job that I had and quit a year ago. I was supposed to do it for 2 weeks, I lasted 2 days in the office with 5 other female coworkers. I called ortho and made them send me back. I’m working in pain but I’d rather be in pain then work with them.
    I start seeing EAP next week to deal with my issues with attention and I think I’ll discuss my aversion to being around people for long periods of time. I am married and my husband irritates me at a normal husband level- nothing abnormal there; it’s not a confidence issue, my self confidence is actually rather good- I just cant stand to be around people for extended amounts of time. Does anyone else feel this way or have tips?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I do feel this way but maybe not as extreme. There are many days when I hit my “people limit” pretty early though. Therapy is a good idea.

      you sound like an extreme introvert which isn’t a bad thing if you’re in the right role.

    2. Kai*

      This is definitely me. I’m friendly and helpful but I’d much prefer a job where I don’t have to interact with people too much.

    3. Jennifer*

      I have this problem, but unfortunately the only answer I have is to come up with a fake perky happy personality and be super smiley. You cannot let on that you are feeling fried by other humans. Also, be sure to leave the work area during breaks/lunch if at all possible.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I do like specific people in generous doses, but I got out of customer service for a similar reason to what you cite, and I HATE crowds. When I’m forced to deal with people I don’t know or don’t like, I sometimes play cultural anthropologist: “Oh look, the Heathers are flinging their verbal poo in order to establish dominance. They expect this show of social and verbal aggression to make me subservient, but I still have to get the TPS report from them. What method would best get me that, and away from them? Do I pretend to capitulate, or appeal to a higher authority?”

    5. xarcady*

      I’m working retail right now until I find a full-time job, plus temping. The temp job, people pretty much leave me alone to do my work, but at the store-it’s not fun.

      The job can be physically exhausting for an 8 hour shift, but the mental exhaustion of dealing with people, both co-workers and customers, is deadly. After 8 hours at the temp job, dealing with 3 hours of gossipy co-workers and customers for whom nothing is ever good enough, sends me over the edge. And knowing that my co-workers will be gossiping about me next makes me extremely self-conscious and does not help things.

      I come home some nights and just curl up and do nothing for an hour until my brain unfrazzles.

      Sorry, no tips. I just muddle through and appreciate my bits of free time to the limit. And sometimes I’m able to actually help a customer, or I get a nice customer who doesn’t try to browbeat me into breaking store policy, and that helps a bit, too.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      Maybe it’s only certain types of people? My personality type wouldn’t be very common around nurses or other medical office staff, and based on what I hear from my nurse sister, I don’t think I would fit in. I work in engineering, and I don’t have an issue dealing with my coworkers. Most people I work with are not overly chatty or gossipy.

    7. LQ*

      I spent about 9 months in a job that was 10 half hour conversations a day with new people. All day, all talking, all being smiling and happy. It was hell.

      I found the things in the job I genuinely liked and tried to offer to take those off other people’s plates (I found that what I like most don’t, sure I’ll do data entry in a quiet corner if it gets me out of talking to humans!).
      I make jokes about not being good with people, but at the same time, I really try to genuinely be “good” and all that happy outgoing thing you’re required to be as much as possible. It is easier to fake if I think of it as a suit I have to put on when I get to work and that I can take off at home. But making jokes and being for the most part good means that slips are much more likely to be brushed off.
      Change clothes when I get home. Seriously this was more beneficial than it has a right to be. You likely already do this, but if you don’t, I super recommend it.
      If you have something that has a time limit work toward that. (5 more days, whatever…)
      For me something else that helped a lot was that job was always always done at 4:30. And that meant I got to go and be me for the rest of my time.
      Yeah it’s a job and it stunk and it was painful (and worse yet, I was really good at it so they didn’t want to promote me until they heard I might be leaving). But at the end of the day it’s paying for my home and the things that let me live in the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. My other option doesn’t exist. I don’t have someone to lean back on or something else I could do. My options are work or homeless. So yeah, I’ll put up with people even if it means I go home and go directly to bed because at least I have a bed.

    8. Anx*

      How do you feel with your patients?

      I find that sometimes I am exhausted by people, and other times I am so excited to be around them. I work in a very soft-skill, people-oriented field, but the thing that makes it so wonderful for me is that I have a specific job to do and am the master of my little mini-office.

      I don’t have to navigate a bunch of dissimilar relationship dynamics. All of my clients are individuals with their own personalities, but the relationship I have with them is pretty consistent.

  30. SevenSixOne*

    Have you ever negotiated for non-monetary perks like more vacation time instead of/in addition to a higher salary?

    How did it go?

    1. some1*

      The worst I have seen it go is my former coworker who asked for such over-the-top things that the company pulled the offer altogether – after she gave notice here.

        1. some1*

          The ones I remember clearly were asking them to pay for day care for a week and asking for a salary increase to make up for no health insurance (they didn’t provide it & told her in the interview, plus she was on her husband’s insurance)

          1. Pineapple Incident*

            Technically it shouldn’t matter if she had insurance elsewhere, but if she botched the rest of the negotiation there was no way they’d up their offer to cover the lack of health insurance. There’s a tactful way to bring that up when you first hear about it, something to the effect of “does the company usually consider the cost for those and other benefits in salary discussions?”

            1. some1*

              Late to answer this, but my impression was the timing of it was what ultimately made them pull the offer. They made an offer contingent on a background check, and after the background check came back is when she asked for all of this.

    2. These are the droids*

      during my review I was offered a lower increase than I anticipated, and so we negotiated that I could work from home one day every two weeks, which ended up being a great bonus (and when I had big projects I got waaay more done at home)

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I hope you get some good answers, because a job for which I interviewed has a pay range that brackets what I make now. I’ve also got some seniority where I am, so I’m hoping that whatever the salary, I can negotiate more leave in particular, more on par with what I get now.

    4. AnotherHRPro*

      I negotiated an extra week of vacation, a sign-on bonus and reimbursement for a payback on a benefit from my prior employer (that I had to pay if I resigned within 12 months).

  31. SnowWhite*

    I have an office social politics question.

    So, my boss has decided that as part of our shiny new brand all offices are to be involved in everything – we are all inclusive company in all factors. How sweet.

    However, he has taken this to even our unofficial HQ lottery syndicate, where if the jackpot reaches a certain amount we have a quick whipround and buy the tickets on the day. I tried to explain to him that:
    A) I was not setting up a bank account in my name for colleagues to put £2 a week into (WTF)
    B) Nobody will set up a direct debit to a company bank account for £2 per week, they will throw in bulk amounts and let it wind down – loads of extra work

    To not look like a Negative Nancy, I decided to move forward with a cash method. Each employee would send down their own money, it will be filed in a locked box in a locked cupboard and we will take from their the ticket money until it runs out. Simple – until we rolled it out in practice.

    Would it be unreasonable to call time on it once all money runs out? Staff have sent down uneven amounts, non-individual payments (instead of 3 £10s, 1 £20 and a £10) and are already asking to be subbed.

    I’ve tried, it failed, can I move on? This was a bit of fun for our office, not to be turned into a major operation!

    1. The IT Manager*

      Yes. Sounds terrible now. If your boss want it, let him assign it to someone else. But really it should be a walk-around the day of, not some complicated system that requires tracking and effort.

    2. Violetta*

      You could not even be on the receiving end of a Direct Debit scheme as an individual! It’s costly and reserved for high volume payments. That might help your boss see that this is not feasible. (Your coworkers could set up automated payments from their own account, but that’s another thing and you’d have no control/oversight)

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      Sounds awful. But if it won’t die, could you have each person buy their own ticket, save a photo of it on the shared drive/use a whatsapp group and then any prize won by any ticket is shared by everyone who sent a photo in time? Then at least there would be only organising and no money handling, and dor those who don’t get themselves organised in time, tough cheddar.

    4. ginger ale for all*

      I work in a place where we used to do that. We stopped after we heard that the wise thing to do in situations like that is to draw up a contract for the group that stares how the taxes would be paid and how the split would happen before buying the tickets. Google for more details on lottery pools and you will see what I mean. We just did it for the fun of dreaming so when contracts were mentioned, no one wanted to continue.

  32. some1*

    What are the some AAM guidelines that don’t apply in your industry? My company does financial planning, and job-hopping amongst firms is pretty common and wouldn’t kill your chances of getting an interview.

    1. Terra*

      Technology fields it’s essentially required to list all of the software you have experience with on your resume, including office suites and operating systems.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Can I qualify this? If you work a tech position at a private school, you don’t need to list all the software you have experience with (especially if the list is long and mainly irrelevant to what you’d be doing).

      2. LQ*

        This has been my experience. The only time I didn’t list Word and Excel I was quizzed about it extensively when it wasn’t all that relevant. Now I just list everything I’m willing to work on that I have skills in. So all the OSs all the packages. For me I group things together too so that if someone who isn’t technical is looking at it they’ll know these 4 things are all alike.

    2. Not Karen*

      Not guidelines exactly, but AAM has said multiple times not to expect your new company to pay for you to interview or relocate. I guess this is not the case in my industry because both companies I’ve been with have covered most to not all of my interview AND relocation costs. Maybe we’re in demand?

      1. Honeybee*

        Paying for interview and relocation costs is also common in my field, particularly at the larger companies.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Totally depends on field! I hope I haven’t given the impression that people should never expect it in any context — just that in many contexts it’s unlikely.

    3. CAA*

      Wear a suit to your interview.
      Keep your resume to 2 pages. (Well, actually this does apply, it just seems to be unknown by 90% of candidates.)

    4. SL #2*

      I used to work in tech, so wearing a suit to an interview would’ve been a no. Even our CEO came in wearing jeans and a polo most of the time, and he was often the last interview before an offer. You do not want to be the one who is better-dressed than the head of the company…

  33. Adam*

    When you’re writing cover letters do you think it’s generally better to emphasize your ‘soft skills’ while leaving your ‘hard skills’ for your resume or would it depend on the job?

    Also, I recently tried something new in that I used my cover letter to tell one whole story of one of my favorite work accomplishments including a general idea of what was desired, what was involved, and what the outcome was, all while emphasizing the skills I used that I believe pertain to the job I was applying for.

    Does this come across well to a hiring manager, or should I focus more on the describing my understanding of the job I’m applying to and how my skills relate?

    1. Barefoot Librarian*

      Having done a fair amount of hiring, I tend to look for specifics as to why the applicant is a good match for this job in particular in the cover letter. Sometimes resumes and CVs don’t list experience or skills that I want, but the applicant can discuss why some skill or experience they have can fit that need. In that sense, your story of a work accomplishment wouldn’t be out of place as long as it’s brief and clearly applies to the job you’re applying for.

      When I’m writing a cover letter, I tend to copy and past the list of must-haves from the job listing into my document and, as I write, I try to address each of them in some way (not a bullet list, of course; and if it’s covered clearly in the CV I feel comfortable skipping some). If I can’t address one or two, so be it, but it reminds me not to leave out any pertinent info or leave any question as to my ability to do the job. Most of the hiring managers I have worked with look for two things in a cover letter: the ability to professionally communicate and any necessary skills/experience that aren’t covered in the CV or resume.

  34. Stephanie*

    I mentioned a few weeks back how I was having issues getting metrics to be successful with the floor workers (I’m a number cruncher/first-line supervisor at an industrial facility.) My boss and I had an informal chat and he’s like “Yeah, don’t get too frustrated. The inmates run the prison, basically, so do what you can.” *sigh*

      1. Stephanie*

        *fist bump* I have a personal day before busy season. I should use it. They’ve banished me to the airport facility. My boss isn’t even entirely sure what I’m doing yet.

        There’s an audit I do nightly that has literally the same results every time. It’s because TPTB don’t push it and the drivers know they won’t get in trouble. Only reason anyone started caring is because a customer said he had diverted some of his business to Purple Shipper because we kept screwing up the guaranteed overnight delivery.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          Our busy season appeared out of nowhere 3 weeks early. Yay holiday creep. Definitely use that personal day!

  35. Lionness*

    I’m really unsure what to do. I am feeling very disengaged lately. I have a new line manager and they, along with my two peers, work in HQ while I work several time zones away. Up until this change, I felt challenged, engaged, included. Now, I feel largely ignored. I’m not offered the same training opportunities (even when I could easily be included such as when they are webinars, etc). I am no longer included in recruiting processes. I’m left off of emails and only FYI’d at the very end.

    I’ve brought this up repeatedly with my direct manager and with his manager. My manager’s manager seems legitimately concerned. He asked for time to try to address it but it hass been another two months and every day I find myself less and less happy with a job I used to love.

    I know the obvious solution is to leave but it is not that easy. I am paid almost 30% above market rate for my job in this area because my pay is based off the HQ region. I can’t afford to take a paycut and even if I could a job hunt would realistically take 1-2 years around here.

    So I guess I am wondering what suggestions does the hive mind have for dealing with this in the interim? Ideas for bringing it up again? For how you made similar situations work?

    1. yourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      I would bring it up to the manager who seemed concerned, it sounds like it should be an easy fix. Maybe offer to set up a teleconference with HQ?

      1. Lionness*

        I have brought it up with them and while I do have a teleconference setup, it is only every 3 weeks. I’ve repeatedly asked to have them more often but I’m told my manager is too busy (and to be fair, his calendar is packed).

        Phones calls go unanswered and unreturned. Emails take days to respond to.

    2. Observer*

      Do you have an internal chat / IM type of system at use in your company? Can it include video, like Skype or Google hangouts? Also, what is your phone system like? If the company’s system allows you do have a direct extension (that’s in the systems’ phone directory), that might make it easier to keep in contact with short but quick and more frequent conversations.

  36. Anie*

    Preference question! Just curious about your opinions.

    If you’re on the same level as a co-worker, but one of you has an office and the other doesn’t, would you meet in the office or go to an empty conference room?

    There are very few offices at my work and only one conference room. Previously, the Marketing Manager (MM) and the Editorial Manager (EM) both had their own offices and, when they met, would just go to one or the other’s office. Even the COO (who has an office) will sometimes come over and just meet in someone else’s office sometimes.

    Now, the MM has an office and the EM doesn’t. New people in both positions. I assumed they’d meet in the MM’s office. Instead, they met in the conference room. Our only conference room.

    Is this to keep the power on the same level? There’s no conflict so I don’t think it’s an issue of someone having “home turf.” Does it show self-consciousness about the lack of an office? Am I over-thinking this?

    1. some1*

      If they are new, is it possible they are using the conference room to emphasize that they are having a work meeting, as in they don’t want people to walk by and think they are just chatting?

    2. Kai*

      It sounds to me like it just hadn’t occurred to them to use the office, especially since you say there are no home turf issues. Unless maybe they needed lots of room to spread out their materials (assuming the conference room could provide that and the office couldn’t?).

    3. bridget*

      If the meeting is mostly just discussion, and there is a comfortable chair in MM’s office, then I’d probably prefer the office. But if the meeting requires any paper-based work, spreading out binders, looking at physical documents together, etc., I’d prefer a conference room because both people have table space. Otherwise, EM will have to try to take over a clean corner of MM’s desk, which is more invasive than just sitting in the guest chair and chatting.

      Since there are new people in both positions, maybe they didn’t know that the previous EM and MM used to meet in each other’s offices, and maybe the new people prefer the joint workspace of a conference room table.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      To me it doesn’t matter. I have coworkers who have cubes, and sometimes we meet in their cubes, and sometimes in my office. For me, it really depends on who needs to be at the keyboard.

      But yes, I think you’re overthinking it. Sometimes a conference room vs. office provides the same kind of focus that some people from from being in the office vs. working from home. Or if the cube is small, some people might not like standing over someone else’s shoulder. We’re pretty informal, that doesn’t stop us here, but I can see how it might in many offices.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      Sometimes I just want to get out of my office…. If I were new, I might appreciate it if someone put a quiet room in my ear about leaving the conference room open for people who don’t have anywhere else to meet.

    6. Charlotte Collins*

      If the office is likely to have too many distractions (I was once in an internal interview at the hiring manager’s office and she stopped several times to answer the phone – very distracting, and a friend had the same experience with her when the COO kept popping in), I would schedule a room. However, we also have limited conference rooms (that keep being converted into offices!), so if there’s an office space that should get used, because there are plenty of people who don’t have an office to meet in who would be inconvenienced.

    7. fposte*

      My office has a weird setup that makes formal meetings difficult, so I meet in outside space a lot.

    8. Thinking out loud*

      I don’t have an office. If I’m meeting someone who has an office and we can meet in there, I will, but often there are reasons that a conference room is better – usually either because the person shares an office and I don’t want to bother the person they share with our because our conference rooms have projectors and offices don’t.

  37. T3k*

    Good and bad news. Less than a month ago, the owner finally hired someone competent. Bad news is that she told me she got offered a new job (don’t blame her, the pay sucks here and have no benefits, so the business sees high turnover). She offered to put in a word for me, but did tell me they pay about $15 an hour in a place that’s known to be used primarily for vacation. I can’t survive off that if the rent is 800/month there, but I feel like I should try and contact the company. I wouldn’t mind moving to the town if the pay was a livable amount, but the COL for that small town is shown to be substantially higher than where I am.

    TL;DR: how does one gently mention salary/rent requirements upfront when it’s a really major thing? Or should I just pass on this.

    1. Not So Sunny*

      Allison has mentioned in posts that you need to negotiate based on job function and responsibilities and your skills/worth, not on “this is what I need to pay my bills.” Maybe do some more reading here about it?

      1. T3k*

        Yes, I saw that, but my situation isn’t a “I’m interviewing, how do I negotiate” but more of a “I’m interested in talking, but if the pay is too low, I don’t want to waste their time” deal. It’s like when you see a job posting that list their salary range: it gives the chance to apply, knowing the range vs. moving on if it’s too low an amount. Plus, I’ve always been the type to cut to the chase, but don’t want to come off as brash, but money right now is a big issue for me (I’ve had to turn down past interviews in the past because I knew I’d end up losing money in the long run due to low hours and pay).

  38. Ann O'Nemity*

    Ugh, I need to vent a bit.

    My area supports multiple products. One of these products is the company’s cash cow, has the highest priority, and requires the most resources. One of the other products is considered very “cool,” but it isn’t nearly as important to the company and it doesn’t require that much work from our team. The problem I have is that employees always want to work on the cool product, instead of the important product. Even when I hire people, I specifically hammer this point. But inevitably, everyone – and I mean everyone – would rather work on the cool product. In their one-on-ones, they’ll tell me why they think they should be focused exclusively on that area. They’ll drop higher priority work so they can do some bs mundane task for the cool product. They’ll even volunteer their evenings and weekends for the cool product. I corral the team and repeatedly reiterate why we need to focus more on important product, but I feel like it’s a constant battle.

    1. steve g*

      As an outsider I have to say that the two shouldn’t be under one team. There should be two teams. And people on non-cool money maker should earn more if it’s more unpleasant for whatever reason to do!

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        The cool product doesn’t usually need a full time person from my area, but occasionally needs multiple people’s attention. It’s more seasonal in nature. (My area is an internal service provider. It’s not that we’re directly developing or managing the product itself. Think more like IT or marketing.)

    2. Mike C.*

      Is there any way to expand the cool product such that it makes more money? Or otherwise automate the work needed for the “uncool” stuff?

      Additionally, can more of the money form the uncool thing be used to develop more “cool” things? You cna see Google or Amazon doing this, and suddenly a “cool” thing becomes a “moneymaker” thing.

      That being said, I think you have to be firm and say that the uncool thing always needs to be worked first before the cool stuff can even be touched.

  39. OfficePrincess*

    This feels particularly appropriate considering the letter this morning, but I’m finding myself with a staffing issue. I supervise a team in a shift work environment. “Betsy” is in her final year of college. I knew she was in school when I hired her and part of the agreement when she was hired was that we would flex around her school as much as possible, and she took a shift that is essentially evenings and weekends (days off are during the week). When she got her class schedule this fall, initially she told me that there was one day she’d need to come in 2 hours late one day per week. I had no problem. Then she says she’s a finalist for an internship with a firm and needs the internship to graduate. I say let me know the schedule, but since her core hours with me are mostly when other businesses are closed, I wasn’t too worried. Then she comes back that she needs two days per week off and a third day to come in 3 hours late. I felt backed into a corner, but agreed since it was easier to be short handed part of the time than hire someone new and start from scratch.
    Now I’ve also heard her reference a “job” in addition to internship or class. And she’s requested off 1/3 of her weekend shifts in the past month and a half since school started. And just requested more. I understand PTO is a benefit and the official policy is that you can borrow up to 40 hours as well and I usually try to say yes to every request. But at this point, we’re flexed out. Am I being unreasonable for wanting to push back a little bit? I’m planning to sit her down during her next shift to have a big picture conversation, but I’m still trying to solidify what I want to say and how hard I’m willing to force the issue. Help?

    1. The IT Manager*

      It is entirely possible that you’re unable to be flexible enough to fit into her newly limited schedule. You are not being unreasonable. It would be an unfortunate situation but not personal. Consider how being short-handed impacts the other employees and yourself. Perhaps her new schedule limitations make it impossible for you to keep on her. You should talk to her about this, but I think you need to consider you can’t accommodate all she’s asking for and if she won’t budge then it may be time for you to part ways with her. Perhaps she can stay on until you hire and train the new person and that could be win-win for you both.

    2. Caycep*

      Definitely start the hiring process now. Betsy is being unreasonable with her requests and it wouldn’t be unheard of for you to deny them or ask her to find her own coverage (if it’s that kind of job). I guarantee that her coworkers are grumbling about this and it will start to reflect in their attitude and work. Hiring now will help everyone in the long run.

    3. yourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      Sounds like there’s a few things going on, I think a meeting is certainly needed but that you are not in the wrong for pushing back.

  40. mysterious stranger*

    Awards — any thoughts on asking people to nominate you, or self-nominating? and how to do either of those without sounding like a self-important jerk?

      1. Lisa*

        This might be true for some people but there are many groups (visible minorities, women, age, etc) that get systematically overlooked and sometimes the only way to change that is to speak up and nominate yourself or a colleague who might not otherwise be noticed as “worthy”

    1. Lunar*

      I definitely think that you can ask people to nominate you or self nominate without seeming like a self-important jerk! In my (fairly limited) experience, it is important to express your interest in being nominated or considered if it is something that you want – other people might think you would be great, but not think of you off the top of their heads or might think you aren’t interested. I think you could bring it up to someone who you have a good relationship with who has knowledge of your performance in the area of the award and say something like “do you think my performance in X was good enough to be considered for the award?” or mention that you are really proud of your work in that area and that you are thinking about going for it and see what they say – maybe they will offer to nominate you or encourage you to self-nominate.

    2. Lisa*

      Some places I’ve worked have the marketing person do this because showcasing our work is an important part of demonstrating the value/impact of our work.

  41. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I accepted the Senior Teapot role, gave notice. Kind of terrified yet excited :)
    Also, it’s a half work onsite and half-telework role during the weeks. How do I get my studio apartment “telecommuter-friendly?” (I had a small desk which I merged into an “L”-shape with another table to add writing space, and ordered a plain white room divider so I don’t stare at the bed or the kitchen the whole time). Tips/ideas?

    1. Kyrielle*

      Mostly, I would make further adjustments after you’ve started doing it and have a feel for it. But…do you need to Skype as part of the telecommuting? If so, you’re going to want to make sure whatever is behind you is an acceptable backdrop, too. (And for Skype or phone calls, that the noise level won’t be too bad.)

    2. Paige Turner*

      Congrats! Do you have a Plan B for anytime that WFH isn’t practical? Can you still go to the office on a WFH day if you’d like? I used to WFH at my little apartment, and if there was loud construction or something, I’d go work at Starbucks or the library. I just moved and spent last Friday at the office instead of home, since I didn’t have internet set up yet.
      I think if you’re used to working in a small office/cube at work, having a small home office space shouldn’t be a problem. Staring at the kitchen can be hard if you’re trying to avoid the temptation of easy snacking, so the divider sounds smart! Make sure you still take breaks to go for a walk around the block or just stretch. Also, nice headphones and maybe also earplugs are good to have. If you’re used to moderate office noise around you at work, home during the day can be really quiet. Find some good podcasts or radio programs to drown out, say, the neighbor’s yowling cat. Good luck!

  42. steve g*

    Wtf predecessor – I just found another mistake that impacted the processing of multiple sales. We well to groups of buildings so sometimes customers don’t realize that one went through. So I’m finding sales worth 5k – 10k that stopped being processed as soon as there was one hardship. I’ve been investigating all week and there is no other reason. I just found the equivalent of Leona helmsley being rejected as a customer, and my head shall explode. W.T.F. Just venting, not speculating as to if there can be a reason for it, I already found out there wasn’t one…and the cherry on top is that predecessor has a good reputation even though so many things were screwed up, but I feel like comments like that are normal on this site!

      1. Steve G*

        No! And then there is the whole “well Jim said everything was fine so maybe you’re stretching this a bit” unspoken vibe which may all be in my head, but…I’m kind of depressed by this. I would have negotiated my salary if I knew things would be this bad, so many problems. The predecessor got paid about $10K less than me but did about 90% less from what I’m seeing. No joke, it is really bad. And to see these big sales not getting worked on disgusts me. It’s like, if Donald Trump said “hey, you can have all of my buildings as a customer,” and as soon as one gave you the slightest issue, all action was ceased – even if the action required was a standard piece of paperwork or an email. It’s pretty bad. And the scariest part is that they really viewed situations like this as lost causes.

  43. Lalarian*

    Hi all,
    I have a question about second interviews. I have been job hunting for a while – and finally things seem to be moving a bit. I applied for a local gov job and had an interview a few weeks ago (it’s for a part-time job, 20 hours/week). I teach at a university close by two other days a week.

    How do you approach a second interview when the panel is different than the first one? Is it ok to be repetitive if they ask similar questions to the first interview? What about in terms of the questions you ask when they give you the opportunity? Any suggestions on whether I should approach the second interview differently (than the first) would be appreciated.

    1. KW10*

      If they ask similar questions to the first interview, then it’s completely fine to give similar answers.

      In terms of your questions for them, I would think there are some questions that lend themselves better to being repeated and others that would seem strange to repeat. For example, I pretty much always ask interviewers what they find most challenging or most rewarding about working there, and that makes sense to ask again in a second interview since everyone will have different answers. But something like “Who will be the manager” or “Will this role be very involved in X” or “Tell me more about the X project that I saw mentioned on your website” would seem strange to ask again. (What if they compared notes afterwards and found out you asked the same thing? It would seem like you weren’t paying attention the first time.) In general try to come up with slightly more in-depth questions for the second interview, ideally drawing from your first conversation.

      (Of course, this is all highly dependent on who you’re meeting with each time. If one of the interviews is with someone in a similar role, you’d want to ask more questions about what the day-to-day work is like. When you’re meeting with the manager, you might ask how they define success for the role. And so forth.)

  44. RG*

    Job search related question: what do you say when interviewers ask you where else you’re applying/interviewing? This has come up a lot and I’m never really sure how to handle it. It feels weird to tell companies I’m interviewing with their competitors, but at the same time, if I’m not, wouldn’t that have the potential to make me seem less serious about the type of role?

    1. Not So Sunny*

      That sounds like a way-out-there question. Why do they get to know your interviewing efforts? I hope someone pops in with a good answer.

    2. Paige Turner*

      Yeah, I can see how that feels awkward, but if they are reasonable I don’t think they’d hold it against you for applying at, say, Apple and Google if you’re a developer. You could try saying something like, “I’ve also applied for Similar Job X at Rival Company, but I really like this position here because of Reasons X and Y.”

    3. Terra*

      It may just be that they’re trying to get a feel for how long they have to potentially make you an offer so you could try just saying that you’re in the process of interviewing at X number of places and are entertaining Y offers. Note, I would always phrase it as how many offers you’re entertaining/considering/etc. not how many you’ve received since that’s not really any of their business. I’d say where you’re interviewing also isn’t really their business unless you’re in a field where such knowledge is common?

    4. BRR*

      I always go with a nice vague “some nonprofit or fundraising [my industry] roles that look interesting to me.”

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t had this asked of me often. The one time I was asked, I said where else I was applying, but I do find the imbalance annoying. A candidate can’t very well ask what other candidates the employer is looking at…

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I’ve had recruiters ask this of me, sometimes quite agressively. But then if they are recruiters, presumably they have a good idea of which companies are currently recruiting?

    6. Pooski*

      I got this question a lot in my last search!

      I answered it by saying I was very selectively looking for a new opportunity that would be a perfect fit.

      I think this answer is honest (since you are looking at other companies), but re-enforces that you are really looking for the right job, not just any job!

    7. Thinking out loud*

      I assume that they want to know whether I have active offers, so I say that I’m interviewing at a few places but want to make sure the fit is right. I refuse to say what other companies I’m interviewing with – I think it’s none of their business.

  45. Lunar*

    Hey everybody! I have a bit of a philosophical question today. What is a way to figure out what you want to do with your life or what your next career steps are. For context, I’m getting ready to leave my current job, but I have no idea where to go from here. I graduated from college just under a year and a half ago (with majors in humanities and social science subjects, so not very specialized) and have been working at a small nonprofit ever since. I have pretty vague aspirations to work in a more creative industry, but I don’t really have an idea about what that would entail or how to get there. I am also living in a city that I like, but am not particularly attached to, so I’m thinking about moving when my lease is up next summer just to shake things up a little. I just feel very stuck and have no idea how to formulate a plan of action. Does anyone have any thoughts on this (either in general or relating to my specific situation)?

    1. Kai*

      When I get stuck on this kind of stuff, I think about what skills I have naturally and what kind of tasks or hobbies I already enjoy. With a list of five or so skills or interests you have, does there seem to be a natural fit in a specific role or a specific field? Are there issues you’re passionate about where you could look at working for a nonprofit that deals with those issues?

    2. Terra*

      I’m working on this right now as well. The best advice I’ve found so far is to not box yourself in by assuming one path is “the right one”. Feel free to brainstorm all the things you could do or would like to do first and you can narrow it down later. Second, make a list of the things you’d like your career path to have and prioritize, certain fields may be more prevalent in an area you want to live while others may be more likely to offer work from home opportunities or flex time so depending on how important that sort of thing is you can narrow down the possibilities from that. Good luck!

  46. Tiffany*

    I seem to be stuck in this terrible spot of where I’ll apply for a job that yeah, I’m probably over-qualified for but perfectly willing to do, but never make it to the offer stage because the employer doesn’t believe that I’d stick around…on the other hand, I also apply for jobs that I’m confident in my abilities to do but I don’t necessarily have the “# – # years experience” so then I get a response of ”while your resume is impressive, we’re looking for someone with a bit more experience in ….”. It’s so frustrating. I know it’ll eventually work out…but unemployment is boring and I have some side projects that would really benefit from a regular income stream.

    I guess I don’t really have a question, just needed to vent. :/

    1. yourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      My husband is in a similar boat! hes been at one job (hospital security) for 12 years and its locked him in. No other hospital will hire him because of he’s “over qualified” but no one else will because he’s under qualified.

    2. In The Same Boat*

      I feel the same way… *hugs*

      I’ve made it to the final rounds of interviews many times (for many different companies) but I always get the same answer: you’re under-qualified for management roles but over-qualified for the entry level positions…
      The HR people have even taken the time to search for positions in other departments that might fit my “uniquely impressive experience” but they just didn’t have any open position fitting me.

      I finally just got a job offer… but it’s not my number one choice, customer service, instead of creative/marketing. I wish you the best Tiffany!

      1. Tiffany*

        Congrats on the job! Even if it’s not your first choice, it’s better than nothing, right?

        I’m starting to think I should just add ‘professional job interviewee’ to my business cards, lol. I just wish a company would take a chance on me. If I didn’t believe I could do the job, I wouldn’t apply. My resume/cover letter is great and I’ve got fantastic references and am using my network to my advantage…but it still isn’t working out anywhere…it’s hard to stay positive and not be disappointed.

        Thanks for the virtual hug :)

  47. Mike C.*

    So an update from last week.

    First off, I got the job! Thanks for all the well wishes!

    Where things get interesting is that I’m a grade N in my current job role, and the posting was for a grade N+1 (as opposed to a grade N/N+1 or something like that). The issue here is that typically someone in a grade N+1 has eight years of experience. I have seven. On the other hand, the hiring manager is on this team, and I went from an N-1 to an N a year early as well. So now this grade improvement has to go through a special team who determines grade increases and they may block it. On the other hand, the hiring manager is a member of this team.

    So right now I’m waiting to hear if I actually get a promotion or what. I figure worse case scenario where I don’t get the promotion, I still ask for a significant raise (pay bands have a good bit of overlap) justified by the fact I’ll be doing above grade work, and worry about the title in a year. If nothing else, it won’t break their budget as they were already planning on paying for an N+1, and my current pay is below that grade’s level.

    I should be hearing back today or early next week to hear what the group says. I’m more nervous now as a grade improvement is a significant raise and this is uncharted territory for me, but I think I have a good plan. Any thoughts?

    1. acmx*


      I think you should ask for a raise if you don’t get the N+1 pay grade. You’d be eligible for a raise in your current role if you stayed, yes? Asking for a raise for a job with an increase in responsibility seems reasonable to me.

  48. Faraday*

    This is my first time seeing this site… so forgive me if this problem is silly.

    So I work at a place where I report to a boss that to me seems to take credit for things I do. I should also mention he can be incredibly condescending, and straight up insults me from time to time. (I’m a graphic designer if this helps) Recent example: I created a bunch of t-shirt designs and ask to be copied on the email he insists on sending himself to our internal client so I can see the feedback. He doesn’t copy me. He gets a response and I asked to have the e-mail forwarded to me so I can see directly the feedback. He says in the email that it is a design we both worked on (he didn’t work on it, just suggested taking logos off the designs). I feel like he is taking credit for being a designer on this project when he doesn’t do anything like that. This isn’t the first time this has happened and I feel like it discredits what I do. He’s sort of crafted the process to make it look like the designs are better because of his involvement… when he really doesn’t do anything… I have no idea how to handle it or to move forward.

    I guess this is more of a vent, but any advice on how to deal with this would be greatly appreciated!

    1. yourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      does he own the company an you are working beneath him? I assume not because that’s not the way its worded. I understand the clients only interacting with one person because that will make things less confusing. Even him taking credit might make the business look better rather than “one of the designers”. it also might make the client feel more special if they think only one person is working on their items. Are other people in your position treated the same way?
      It seems like you might be doing something more general though in wish case your boss is a jerk.

      1. Faraday*

        It’s all internal and he is my sorta boss. I have a higher up boss that actually calls the shots on things. I work as an in-house designer and I’m on the only designer on the team. I like to communicate with the client directly (recruiter, game designer, etc) because I can get direct feedback and input that I need. The person I am butting heads with gets between me and the client and slows things down while tagging himself in things basically to take credit for it. It’s incredibly frustrating because he makes it seem like I’m incompetent without his input to our other co-workers. :/ He is a jerk. I’m guessing at this point I just need to look for a new job.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Unfortunately, the only solution is to get a new boss who doesn’t do this — which is easier said than done. When you’re in graphic design, there’s always someone who is going to do something to say they contributed or it was their idea, whether it’s your boss/the creative director/art director/another coworker/the client. Clients from hell dot net is full of stories of clients putting their mucky jam hands all over something (or just moving it one pixel to the left) and then claiming they did it/it’s now perfect because of their invaluable input.

      My advice is divorce yourself from the need to be the one who gets the kudos — this guy isn’t going to give you any, which means he sucks — but keep a record of everything for when it’s annual review time. I.e. “Designed 5 t-shirts for the Teapots Inc. campaign, designs were approved with minimal (or no) changes, X number ordered.” If you paint or draw or do something else, try spending time outside of work doing that. Your personal satisfaction in your work matters, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it to yourself in your own projects and leave the client work at the office.

      And in a way, it is kind of a backhanded compliment. If the stuff wasn’t good, he wouldn’t be trying to take credit for it. Since he is taking credit, that means he knows you’re better than he is, and he’s insecure about that, which is why he won’t share the feedback (unless it was all bad, in which case, you’ll find yourself under the bus all by yourself). So there’s that to consider.

      1. Faraday*

        Oh Client’s From Hell. That’s basically my go to when I get frustrated with my job. Makes me feel a bit better. And it’s not so much the kudos I want. It’s that he makes it seem to other co-workers and higher ups that I am incompetent at my job without his input (he’s not a designer, he’s a marketing manager). He’s straight up told me he doesn’t trust me as a designer (he didn’t hire me, his boss and my bigger boss did) and he could basically do my job.

        I definitely have a side business I’m cultivating because this situation is quite draining. Thanks for your input! I appreciate it!

    3. A.N.*

      Are there any other bosses you can talk to, or somehow casually bring up the subject with? Or just make sure that someone else knows what your contributions have been? I wish I had done this in my very similar situation.

      As a contractor at my previous company (large silicon valley tech company), I was always trying to get noticed in hopes of getting converted to full time. One of my full time employee coworkers asked me to do some analytics and create presentation slides on the results for another division. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get my work noticed and network with the other division, and asked if I could give the presentation. The coworker said no (something about there being too many high level executives in the meeting), and I later found out that he took my entire slide deck but changed the title slide to have his name on it.

      Fast forward 3 months to when my contract ended. One of my fellow contractor coworkers gave a presentation with the same other division. And he got a full time job with them. Needless to say I am now sadly unemployed. I just wish I had spoken up and said something to someone, because the job I missed out on was with my dream company (even despite everything I have been through with not getting converted).

      1. Faraday*

        It frustrates me to no end that people like this exist. My boss person basically has crafted it to make it look like I’m an incompetent worker without him… that I need him to direct my designs otherwise I suck. It’s incredibly frustrating. I’ve brought it up to higher ups because he is incredibly condescending and calls me a hack basically anytime I try to defend my designs if it goes against what he thinks is right. By the way, he’s not a designer.

        Here’s to hoping things get better…

        1. Tex*

          AN, my sympathies – I am currently in that exact position right now.

          Faraday – I have been in your situation as well. It’s not going to get better unless you happen to be there at the last minute to fill in because boss had an accident 15 mins before the scheduled client meeting. You are too useful to your boss and he will never allow you to move up. Either get allies/training in other parts of the company or think of yourself as a mercenary contractor…in it just for the money.

          If you both want advice, read (or skim the relevant parts) “Snakes in Suits”. It might not help with your current situations, but it will help you spot problematic people. The best people to help you are the ones not in your direct line of management because if you are competent, you are always a risk to their job security. The one caveat to this is that age sometimes mellows this dynamic as an older person (esp in a technical niche position) does not want management responsibility and finds he/she is looked on favorably if they are grooming the next generation. Good luck out there!

    1. Dawn*

      I like how everyone’s comments are all equal here- there’s no upvoting or downvoting. I feel like if a “+1” system was put into place then there would quickly be “top commenters” and those of us who wouldn’t ever reach that status would feel pretty put out. Also I really hate feeling like the advice I give or a comment I make “has to be good enough or no one will vote on it”. I get enough of that pressure at work!

      1. Lore*

        I see that argument, and I totally know that feeling of wanting to be clever enough to get “liked”! On the other, I feel like in this context, where the comments are responding to people who are asking for help/advice, being able to get a quick snapshot of which comments are representative of a large share of public sentiment (especially in a situation where there’s heated debate in the comments) might be a really useful tool for the OPs. (That is: commenter A recommends one strategy, and commenter B recommends the exact opposite. Comment A gets 26 +1s and comment B doesn’t get any. That’s a good tip to the OP that comment B is the outlier.)

      2. bridget*

        I wouldn’t like it if it actually moved comments up and down the page due to the comments, or aggregated points to get you to higher levels, like on reddit (like once a regular commenter gets 1,000 likes, she gets some special avatar). I also wouldn’t like a downvote; if one disagrees with a comment, I think that’s best articulated in an actual comment. We don’t have strings of “you’re totally wrong” responses without explanation to clean up, but we do have strings of “I agree!” comments.

        This system doesn’t seem like that, and I really like it. It gives the benefit of a string of “well put!” “totally agree!” comments, in that it shows that this is a widely-held opinion (helpful for OPs to get a sense of likely reactions) without the actually comments, which create clutter but don’t add that much unique content.

        I’m on board, Alison!

        1. Terra*

          I agree that this would be better implemented as a mark of agreements rather than points or likes. Possibly if the text could be changed to something like “# agreements “or “# people agree” it would feel less like a rating system and therefore be less like to ruffle feathers?

      3. Steve G*

        That’s a really, really good point I hadn’t thought of, but know that I think about it…..when I look at FB or articles on yahoo or youtube videos…..all of the comments with the most votes are really short and “cute” or sarcastic. That’s not what this site is about. people aren’t supposed to be here to outwit eachother or rush to be the one to say the thing that gets the most points, as it seems to work on other sites….

    2. EmilyG*

      If it didn’t change the chronological ordering of the posts, or get attached to your user account and allow some people to appear as superusers (to speak to Dawn’s concerns), I think it would be good. It would allow us to indicate appreciation or agreement without clogging up comment threads with lots of “Ha ha” or “Me too” comments.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, that’s my thinking — it would allow people to agree without having to post a comment that just say “+1.”

        And definitely wouldn’t change the order of comments or anything else — it would literally just add a number.

        1. Karowen*

          Then I think it’s perfect! (and really wish it was active now so I could just +1 Kai’s comment :))

        2. Shh, it's a secret*

          I like it and think it would help manage the large number of comments some posts get.

        3. The Zone Of Avoidance*

          Why does it show up in postfix (4+) instead of (the arguably more natural) prefix (+4) order?

          Yes, absolutely please do not change the order of the comments based on this number. It would become very difficult to revisit and find things a second time.

          I have to be honest: I don’t see any pressing need for this. I almost certainly won’t use it (sorry). I rather like how people are sometimes creative with how they “+” things. Also – is the code tracking the IP addresses of the people who are clicking the plus button, in an attempt to keep people from upvoting themselves multiple times? If so, then you are almost certainly modifying the underlying database schema to support this – which would imply that you’re probably spending a fair amount of money on this. It’s your call – and I appreciate that you are willing to put some money into making the site better – but I don’t think it’s worth it.

    3. PontoonPirate*

      Mixed feelings. I love that this is a community where there are lots of substantive, thoughtful comments, and I wouldn’t want to lose those to the ease of just hitting a button–but I bet most people will continue to comment either way. That’s my hope.

      I personally get cranky when I see a long line of comments that are nothing but “+1” or “This!” though. I would support a +1 system as long as it doesn’t include an upvote/downvote component where more votes means your comment is moved to the top.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right now, already long comment thread sometimes get even longer because of a lot of comments that just say “+1.” So my thinking is that this would allow people to express that sentiment in a cleaner way.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I think it might help. There are times when someone’s written something and I have nothing more to add, but I would like some way to acknowledge that I agree… Just adding an “I agree!” or +1,000 is a comment no one really wants/needs to read. Takes up space and unnecessarily bumps up the comment count. Sometimes I see hundreds of comments and think “wow, this thread is blowing up!” but then a quarter or a third of them are just people doing +1/IA/This!

          1. Florida*

            I agree with you Requisite. I’ve expressed at other times when this has come up that I like when people type +1 because sometimes people will type +100 or +1000. It gives the commenter a way to express intensity. It’s going to be a pain in the neck to press that little button 1000 times. ;)

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      I would like it. I often think a comment is great but don’t want to comment if I have nothing to add.
      Agree with those who say the order on the page shouldn’t change, although on busy days it would be great to be able to pull up the top 10 rated comments to get a quick aam fix…

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      I vote YES!

      I think the placement is a little weird (I am used to it being on the left on pretty much every forum I can think of), but that is a nit I am willing to not pick, if it comes down to it.

    6. Christy*

      I’ve participated on sites more dysfunctional than this one, and the +1 function got weird. Like, someone would write something mean or negative and get would get +1s. And that was no good because you felt like “oh wow, ten people feel this way.”

      I’d vote against it, but I have weird baggage, so it might be a me thing.

    7. Anony-Moose*

      Any members of Ravelry? They have buttons that are…off the top of my head…like / dislike / useful / love/ funny or something like that.

      They’ve led to HEATED debate over the years (dislikes, waaah) but I’ve always enjoyed them. Especially the “love” function!

        1. Anony-Moose*

          That’s awesome! I’m not super active on the forums there anymore…I was a beta member of the site back in 2007 so watched the whole button drama unveil. Now I just use it for patterns and the such. I’m ChasingMyself over there and I’ll go check out the group!

    8. CAA*

      Could you add to the commenting guidelines that comments that only say “+1” or “I agree” are discouraged? If people can vote, then there’s no need for the one-liners, and it would be nice to encourage people to not add them.

      Also, if you do this, I think you will have to discourage people from discussing these votes or they will take over the comments. Every site I’ve been on where this type of system has been implemented has led to people complaining about or accusing other people of upvoting their own posts (see this week’s kerfuffle on; and a lot of discussion about why various comments are being upvoted while others are not. Usually this devolves into additional complaints that there are one or more cliques or in groups.

        1. CAA*

          Well, this group is generally more polite than a lot of the Internet, so it may not be an issue here. You can always try it and see what happens, but plan to roll it back if it causes dissension.

          You might also want to visit sites that use tools like Jive or Disqus that have this feature and see how much meta-commentary other communities are experiencing, and whether that amount of discussion would be tolerable to you. I freely admit that I get annoyed by that type of talk, so I may be more sensitive to it and therefore overestimate its frequency.

    9. Trixie*

      I think it would help reduce duplicates, as if mimicking the “Like” function from FB. And I was happy with the collapse feature if I wasn’t in the mood to scroll. This would be great but not earth-shattering if it doesn’t happen.

    10. The Zone Of Avoidance*

      I was thinking about this. Just MHO, but I think that if you were going to modify the website, you should focus on the input widget, ie, this textarea that I’m typing in right now. The one used on might be interesting to look at:

      – it has buttons for italics, bold, and link. You could also add some of the other relatively safe style types like underline, etc.
      – it has a dynamic preview area that previews what you are typing as you type it.
      – it gives a commenter 5 minutes to correct typos.

      Additionally, if you wanted to add something easy that would also be fun: allow some limited amount of emoji support – some systems offer an array of emoji buttons to choose from.

  49. NGL*

    I posted here a couple weeks ago that I had made it through my first week on the new job. I’m now finishing up week three and things continue to go well! I work in digital marketing, so part of my job is managing a few social media accounts, and my boss has taken notice of the new strategies I’ve implemented that have resulted in impressive reach on Facebook. He’s given me shoutouts to other departments (ie, teapot designers ask him if something can go on social media, he responds by cc’ing me on the convo saying “Tossing this to NGL, who has been KILLING it on social media!”), and might have me speaking at a company-wide meeting in a month or two to talk about how my new strategies are elevating our entire brand presence on social media, moving away from strictly being about “new teapots on sale.”

    I also get to attend Comic Con as part of my official duties. This new job is pretty sweet.

  50. Caycep*

    At what point do you consider a situation or position FUBAR and just walk away? I’m in a position that has had constant turnover and little to no continuity, and now I’m training a new person for my upcoming maternity leave while I should still be IN training myself.
    Tasks are constantly coming up that I had no clue were my responsibility. When I asked for a comprehensive list of what I should be doing and what the new hire should be learning, I was told that there is no list and then asked to make one! I just cannot even with this job. Should I just cut my losses and time my resignation with my maternity leave? Their insurance isn’t covering my delivery, and they don’t really have any other benefits to speak of.

    1. the_scientist*

      I was in a similar situation- a small group, no real structure or guidance, total chaos, things that I didn’t know were suppose to be my job suddenly becoming my job and I realized it just wasn’t going to change, so I cut my losses and left. I think the key is that TPTB are not interested in making meaningful changes- if you’ve told them about issues and they’ve brushed you off or made it clear that changes are not a priority, it’s not going to get better. If you resign before your mat leave, you might have to job search while on leave, which could be tricky. But if that’s something you’re okay with doing, or if you’re okay with staying home for a while I would advise cutting your losses and getting out.

    2. NicoleK*

      My job is difficult. My boss brought on a new team member that made my job more difficult. Coworker wouldn’t work on projects with me and boss did nothing about it. That was it for me.

    3. Meower*

      My current job is incredibly chaotic. I consider myself better at dealing with chaos and weird situations than most people, and I’m just astounded.

      Every 5-10 days the proceedures for doing work change. One week I am in charge of 2 people. Then I’m not. I’m in charge of certain properties, but then someone else is sent to them. When I remind the owner of our contract, he says I’m right but I should let the other people do it to show that we all work together.

      When I first started, work orders were done by hand and no copies were saved, and there was no record of who they went to. So we got software to track them, and I set it up. But he still gives out hand written work orders. Yesterday I was told that he suspended all work orders so he could do some big jobs for the most important client’s buildings. My boss owns the buildings. He’s his own most important client.

      Meanwhile I have people in apartments with broken windows, no heat, serious leaks and these are on the back burner until his vacant buildings pass the code inspections. I had to beg him to let me have some workers to fix basic habitability issues in apartments I’m in charge of.

      Someone was caught stealing thousands of dollars by filling out two sets of receipts. I uncovered it while collecting rent and realizing the amounts were very wrong for anything collected by that person. But the owner won’t fire him because then he can’t get his money back. Between that and another person charging for hours not worked, the owner is having a severe cash flow crisis and I was told I couldn’t work for a week. But the thief was working so he could pay back the money.

      I could go on and on and I’ve only been there since July. I wouldn’t believe this if it didn’t happen to me.

      I thought about writing AAM but there really would be no point. If things are that messed up, the only thing to do is leave. I found a job through networking – a woman I deal with in the current job recommended me to another management company and I start there next week.

  51. First Time Reader, Long Time Poster*

    Going Anon for reasons today.
    Was wondering how others would respond to this request from a co-worker:

    This person will be overseas for some time and was scheduled to give a talk a few days after their return. They asked me to take their place because they thought they’d be jetlagged.
    I enjoy giving this aspect of our work and agreed to cover them, but at the same time, I wondered if this is the kind of reasoning that would fly at other places?
    I was under the assumption that if you are out of the office between Monday and Wednesday, you should be prepared to come back at full capacity on Thursday. This is regardless of how tired you might be. Or should you take off more days if you think that’s what you’ll need to recover?

        1. Karowen*

          I think, especially since it’s a personal trip, the first day back in the office they should be full speed. If your jet lag is so bad that you can’t give a speech days after you get back, then you need to take those days off. If it were a business trip I’d be more forgiving.

          1. Florida*

            Agree. If it were a business trip and the person couldn’t take a jet lag rest day for some reason, I might have more empathy. But if you are coming back from vacation, you need to come back ready to go.

    1. Dawn*

      Are they going to be out of the office for work or personal reasons? I don’t think it’s entirely terrible that they might not feel quite back up to snuff a couple of days after being in a different time zone for an extended period, but if it’s a personal trip instead of a work trip then I think it looks worse- reasoning being if it was a personal trip then it’s probably relaxing and refreshing but if it’s a work trip then they probably are going to be extremely bushwacked and need a couple of days to get back into the swing of the office.

      1. First Time Reader, Long Time Poster*

        I am off when I travel out of the country for an extended period of time, so this person has my sympathies. This talk was, I think, scheduled before this person’s travel and they would be back in the office a few days before the scheduled date.
        I’m very familiar with the material, so I don’t need to take a lot of time to prepare, which is great.
        But it looks like this person wants to reduce their workload for the week or so after they get back. I’ve never thought of trying anything like this myself, so I am curious.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Considering they are coming back a few days before the talk, know it’s going to happen, and thus have time to prepare for it and mitigate the effects of jetlag as much as possible (barring any kind of medical condition that would make it worse), I would definitely side-eye this.

          You could do it and rock it and make yourself look awesome.

          1. MJ*

            I wouldn’t think anything negative of this. When people return from a long holiday, they are fighting jetlag plus they also need time to catch up on all that has piled up in their absence. When I travel to see family overseas, I always ensure a light schedule my first few days back.

            As an employer, I would discourage someone just returning on a long haul flight from making presentations. It usually takes one day per time zone to be back on schedule. If a person has crossed 7 time zones, that’s 7 days. No one is going to extend their time off by a week to recover; they will come to work and cope the best they can.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      If they asked in a way that made it possible to say no easily, I think it’s OK to ask.
      I once tried to work the day after a transatlantic flight back to Europe and woke up mid-afternoon with a mouse mat stuck to my face, so I have some sympathy.

  52. Stephanie*

    Maybe more an exasperated vent than anything, but I welcome advice.

    I applied for a grad school fellowship where a company’ll sponsor your tuition and cover an internship. (A lot of the jobs I’m interested I say “MS preferred” or “MS required” and it would qualify me for some new grad roles again.) I got the first part of the application off. I’m stuck on the second part, specifically getting recommenders. I’ve been out of undergrad a while (almost 8 years), so unsure if that’s a feasible option. And I was a sort of middling student (I graduated with exactly a 3.0.)

    Now it’s very common for people at my level at my company to go to school and work there part-time. However, it is usually for a bachelors or a very job-applicable masters (say like an MBA at the local flagship). My Big Boss even asked if I was in school. But I’m sure if I asked about this, that’d be a big ol’ “Hey, I’m leaving in 8 months” flag. (Although to some extent, they know people quit all the time at my level due to low pay and weird hours.) supervisors at former jobs might be ok? I wasn’t the greatest performer, but usually my feedback was “Hard worker, but job is a terrible fit.”

    Anyway, ideas?

      1. Stephanie*

        Hmmm, I used a the head volunteer for a kids’ robotics team I used to oversee. And then I had neutral references from my old jobs. I might be able to talk to a professor for a class I took like a year ago.

    1. Anx*

      Are you thinking of going back for engineering or a similar degree? Because I understand how much less flexible STEM grad school is. Working full-time (or even part-time) is extremely difficult and sometimes even forbidden. But it’s very possible your coworkers or boss won’t know this and think of it as a red flag.

      I’m a similar position. A graduate school stipend, sadly, would at least double my salary, as well as potentially qualify me for several new jobs, and probably give me more opportunities to get some relevent experience (there’s only so much you can take on as a volunteer). But even if my grades weren’t a factor, my more recent college classes were only taught by two different teachers (I did very well recently, but at a comm coll, so I’m not sure that’s enough to prove I’m a better student now).

      You’re not in a position where you can volunteer anywhere to try to get a recommender, are you?

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, engineering degree. I’m sort of doing engineering work now (sort of). But I definitely want something more challenging and remunerative that doesn’t require me to work in the middle of the night. I might be able to ask some old volunteer supervisors. I think I was worried they wouldn’t be technical enough.

  53. New staffer*

    I’m a late-30s single person who never meets anyone who shares my interests, and now I have… at my new job. Any harm in getting a drink with them? It wouldn’t be a question for me if we were the same gender, but I’ve previously worked in pretty strict environments with less socializing and find the idea of staying “activity buddies” not usually workable (so I’m reading this invitation as at least cryptically date-like). Is this a “noooooo” as Allison would put it, a “wait six more months and suss out the workplace,” or what?

    1. Ad Astra*

      How closely do you work with this person? If you interact with them daily as a function of your job, I’d suggest more caution than if they work in a different department and would be easy to avoid if something went wrong.

      Do other coworkers spend time together outside of work? Some people’s social lives revolve around their colleagues, while other people wouldn’t so much as grab dinner with a cubicle mate if they’re off the clock.

      How good are you at handling rejection or other unsavory endings to a relationship? If you know that you tend to take things very personally and go a little crazy when things end badly, this is an absolute no-go. If you’re an expert at compartmentalizing, you might be fine even in a worst-case scenario.

      Really, I don’t see the harm in one drink. So you could always go for that one drink and then assess the rest later. Or you could wait six months.

      1. New staffer*

        Good questions! Yes, people definitely appear to hang out outside work more than I’m used to, which is part of my confusion. There are couples here but it predates their employment, as far as I know. I interact with the other person perhaps once every week or two (different department and floor, but not “easy to avoid”). I’m good at compartmentalizing but have dated others who weren’t, so I guess that makes me suspicious.

        I think I should probably get a drink with them because in this environment it may seem standoffish or presumptuous *not* to! I may be reading too much into this because in my prior workplaces, socializing outside work was unusual and A Thing, and it isn’t here.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          If you want to start hanging out with a coworker, but want to make sure they don’t think it’s a date, you could start with lunch.

    2. BRR*

      Partially depends on how close you work with them. I definitely say proceed cautiously. I jumped in head first and it blew up. I just got over excited at the prospect of making a friend.

  54. tomorrow's anger yesterday*

    Is there any way I can make (mostly male) managers and decision-makers realise that it kind of looks bad that the men in the team are kept in the loop – one is the boss’s star worker and gets all the interesting new projects, one is clearly in line for a management-ward promotion, one gets a special research project – at meetings, in person, and on various email lists where useful information gets put which everyone is then surprised much later that the women in the team don’t know about?

    The team is about 50/50 and we’re all (except the lead) on the same grade, have the same title, etc. And we’re all programmers and have been doing what we do for a long time, so it grates when people come in looking for someone to ask/tell something technical and then act like there’s nobody here if the men are out. We’ve asked to be on the mailing list repeatedly and been told nobody knows who “owns” it to add someone, but funnily when a new guy started he was put on it instantly.

    I know nobody’s deliberately being sexist, it’s just “oh, Bob’s in charge of that, he needs to be on the list”, “I want to talk to someone, I’ll talk to Frank and Pete because they’re a good laugh and always get my Star Wars references”, etc., but it does bother us… but if we hint about it to the men everyone gets defensive or gets tired of us nagging women nagging some more, and nothing changes.

    1. Dawn*

      That’s straight up sexism and you can and should put a stop to it. Don’t hint. Go to HR if you have to.

      Honestly if I worked with someone who “got tired of us nagging women nagging some more” there’d be hell to pay.

      1. tomorrow's anger yesterday*

        To be clear, nobody has said anything in any way outright sexist, but when we say things like “it’s funny how that guy’s on the list and we’re not even though we’ve been asking for ages” the guys just stare blankly.

        It’s probably just because it’s an awkward topic, but I do sometimes suspect they’re rolling their eyes about it in IM chat or whatever. Probably unfair as they’re nice and (mostly) reasonable people but I’ve known plenty of nice- and reasonable-seeming people who, well, turned out not to be in this one respect.

        1. Dawn*

          Be more direct in your wording: “The women in this group are not on the mailing list. The men are. This needs to change starting right now. Who should I talk to about this?” Keep pushing if you get the brush off.

          THIS. IS. SEXIST. AS. HELL. Doesn’t get any more sexist than “The men are kept in the loop. The women are not.”

        2. Myrin*

          The thing about sexism (and other -isms) is that it doesn’t have to be bluntly articulated or spoken loud and clear to actually exist. Many (probably most) people with a sexist mindset are usually friendly and nice – as long as you only deal with them regarding topics where gender doesn’t play any role whatsoever. So you can think of the same person both “Pete and I both enjoy gardening a lot and spend quite a bit of time talking about it – we’ve traded tips and tricks, check out each other’s gardens regularly, and share the vegetables we grow!” and “Pete always excludes me and the other women when it comes to work-related topics – that’s really sexist of him!”. It’s only that the “friendliness” thought kind of seems to dominate the other, less friendly thoughts and we tend to forever think of someone as “Nice person, but…” instead of “Jerk with whom I share a hobby/can talk about x topic sometimes/also loves animals…”.

          Er, yes. I got a little carried away here. But yeah. It seemed a bit from your comments that you don’t think what’s happening to you is “real” sexism and that these guys are actually great people and I wanted to offer a different perspective on that.

          I also really feel like directness is the way to success here. No “funny how…” but a direct “I want to be added to the list!”. Which you seem to have done already but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it. Bring up the fact that the new guy was added but you weren’t. Say you know it has something to do with gender. Call them on their bullshit. Don’t allow excuses. Insist on things. Don’t give up! I know this is easily said when I’m not the one who has to do it but I’m trying to be motivator-y here. Imagine me doing this Shia Labeouf-thing where he shouts “Do it!” encouragingly at you.

          1. Terra*

            I definitely agree that this needs to stop now. Don’t accept excuses!

            You: We need to be added to the list!
            Someone: Well, no one knows who maintains the mailing list for that…
            You: Then you’ll just have to set-up a new e-mail.
            Someone: But that’s so much work, can’t you just deal?
            You: No. I will go to HR/manager/etc if this doesn’t get resolved.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Someone: Well, no one knows who maintains the mailing list for that…

              “Great! Jane has experience running mailing lists from her last job. I’m sure between the two of us, we can get all the issues sorted out so that everyone can be kept up to date. Thanks!” Once you start agitating to become the gatekeeper, I bet you’ll find that someone knows who actually holds the keys. And if that person doesn’t really want to be in charge of that task any more, so much the better.

              Get a list of all the people who know they aren’t on the list and bring that in Excel or whatever as soon as they cough up the name. If one of “Da Boyz” complains about nagging wimminz and their nagging… you aren’t nagging, you’re showing initiative. You’re streamlining procedures and getting things done. All you need is a short skirt and a looooong jacket.

            2. Mephyle*

              And these are examples of how to tackle it straightforwardly, without dropping hints that annoy the men and yet are not effective in setting things right.

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

          I really hope I’m reading this wrong, but it sounds like you are trying to defend their actions. Please don’t. Understand and call it out for what it is and that it’s wrong. See all the comments above for great ways to do this.

    2. Observer*

      My take is that you need to be more direct AND you need to loop HR in. So, you say to someone who is on the list “I need to be on the list.” If the response “No one knows who owns the list” you respond “Who put Tom on the list?” If that person tells you he’ll find out, follow up in two days. If you don’t get anywhere, you head over to HR. You tell them “I’ve noticed that there is a pattern of exclusion of the female programmers, and it’s affecting us. The issue right now is that there is an internal email list which is the primary place where important information about projects and opportunities is disseminated. None of the women in the group are on the list, which means we miss out on information. When I first asked to get on the list, I was told that no one knows who controls the membership on the list. However, when Tom came on board, he got on the list immediately. I spoke to Jim about it, and he still insists that no one can get us on the list. Can you please help with this.” Competent HR is going to realize that they have a problem that needs to be dealt with.

  55. Epic Lobster*

    I am in the middle of transitioning between two jobs. At Job A, I have offered to continue to work as a consultant and even volunteer as I know replacing me will take time and I care deeply about the mission of this non-profit. However, they would prefer I do not because it’s better to have a clean break they say. To get a head start at Job B, I have asked for them to keep me in the loop regarding issues I will be working on once I start or suggest any relevant reading materials. They said they would prefer not to until I start. What gives? I know I’m eager to help and/or get a head start. But, is there anything wrong with trying to provide some assistance outside my end and start dates?

    1. Dawn*

      Yes- you don’t work there! A lot of companies will not want you to continue to be privy to the goings on after you’ve quit, and plenty more are going to think it’s exceptionally odd that you’re asking “to be kept in the loop” before you even start the job! You won’t have a company email address yet so where are they going to send it- your personal email address?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, stop doing this. Your old company will survive, and your new one needs time to prepare for you. They may have specific ways they want to train you that outside reading wouldn’t help. Just let them call the shots right now.

  56. Emma*

    I’m in the process of putting in an application, and I just discovered that the person who that role would be reporting to is one of my old managers. (She’s not on the recruitment team but would be the manager of the person who gets the role).

    It was only a short term position (3 month contract) over five years ago. She seemed happy enough with my work back then, but it wasn’t really long enough to develop a close relationship or keep in touch. We’re connected on LinkedIn and there’s a chance she might remember me (I have a very uncommon name)

    So the question is: is there any point in mentioning this at any point of the application process? (I’m pretty sure if I make any progress I’ll have a meeting with her at some point but that’s getting way ahead of myself.)

    1. frequentflyer*

      I would put in an application through the formal process, then drop her a message via LinkedIn to explain that you found out by coincidence she’s working at the company you’re applying to, why you’re applying, and sound her out on whether she thinks you’re suitable for the role.

  57. June*

    Tips for managing up?

    I have newish manager who I feel has been dropping the ball a little bit. I was out of the office for two weeks for a medical issue, and when I came back a few items that were supposed to be covered were dropped completely. I know life didn’t stop and my manager was really helpful in picking up the slack, but we had discussed these specific duties right before I left. Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with things like this going forward?

    1. misspiggy*

      I think you can tell a manager what tasks are coming up, but you can’t expect them to get them done. The manager is responsible for the work of the team, and if they choose to let something fall, you’ve got to assume they’re willing to take any flak for that. Not your problem. If you are getting flak for something you clearly told your manager would need to be covered, you can be clear that it’s an issue for your manager and not for you, but that’s it really.

    2. Thinking out loud*

      I’d say that I noticed x, y, and z weren’t done while I was fine and ask if there’s a different way that I should hand things off to make sure they get done.

  58. Retail Lifer*

    I finally have an in-person interview for a non-retail job…and the pay is over $6000 a year less than what I’m making now. So…pretty much my half of the rent annually. I don’t even know why I’m going to the interview. There are any number of people around here that are desperate enough to take $29,000 a year so there’s no need for them to have to negotiate with anyone. This is ALWAYS the case. with every job in every indistry that I apply to Every employer wants a college degree and experience but refuses to pay above that, and there are so many people that will take it that there’s no reason for them to offer more.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know enough about your situation to say for sure, but is it possible that the price of getting out of retail will mean taking a pay cut at first but that it’ll get you on the path you want to be on (which presumably will include more money later on)?

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I can’t pay my rent on what any of these places are offering. I’ve gone over the numbers a million times but there’s just no way to cut THAT much out of my budget. I already split bills with my boyfriend and I take public transportation, so even if I ate nothing but ramen I couldn’t absorb a pay cut that large.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Got it. Have you looked at what the jobs you’re likely to be able to get outside of retail pay in the first couple of years you’re in them? Is this one just unusually below it, or is the general market rate across the board going to present this same issue? If it’s the latter, it sounds like it’s going to call for a different plan; otherwise you’ll keep running into this (I’m saying this especially because I think I recall something similar happening a while back too, but I might be remembering someone else). Basically, my point is, is whatever you need to be paid to move out of retail aligned with what those jobs actually do pay?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Depends on the details, but if she calculates that there’s no way to afford the career move she wants to make, it might mean that she needs to look at a different field instead, consider formal training that would change the landscape of options, consider moving to a different location where the relevant variables (like market rate, cost of living, or number of opportunities) would change also, or decide to stay where she is. Or something else entirely that I’m not thinking of.

              My point is basically: If the numbers don’t come out where she’ll need them, better to recognize that now and figure out how to respond to it.

              1. Christy*

                Thanks. It’s hard for me to see the options because I’ve never had to consider the options for myself, thankfully. It’s also useful because both my siblings work retail and I’d like to know how to advise them in the future.

          1. Retail Lifer*

            I’ve seen some job categories which, on paper, I meet all of the requirements for and they pay around what I’m making, such as the base salary for a recruiter, apartment complex manager, some inside sales jobs, etc. I just can’t land an interview for any of those. I’ve been able to get a couple of interviews for admissions reps jobs (great pay but too much travel), apartment leasing (base pay is way too low and commission won’t be enough during slow seasons), and sales coordinator/business devopment positions (like the one from the original post with the super low hourly rate). My boyfriend got laid off and is encountering the same thing. There’s no way he’s not going to have to take a very large pay cut, at least in the short term.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              If you haven’t already, you might try talking to people who work in those fields and asking them to look over your resume and cover letter and give you some feedback. You might find out that meeting requirements on its own isn’t enough, but it would help if you emphasized X more / wrote a more personable cover letter / networked at certain events / or who knows what. In other words, if you’re not getting interviews for the jobs you want, come up with some strategy specifically designed to change that, different from just the basics. (You might be doing this already, of course.)

              1. Retail Lifer*

                I haven’t been doing enough of this. I’ll see who I can reach out to for some help.

    2. Dasha*

      Does this job have better benefits than your retail job that might make the $6,000 seem not so bad?

      1. Retail Lifer*

        No. Insurance is slightly better but costs about the same. I’m not at a salary where a $6000 loss would be a lifestyle change. It would mean paying rent or not paying rent, and no one I know has a basement I can live in for free.

        1. Christy*

          I’m just brainstorming, not knowing about any sort of proposed schedule. Could you perhaps pick up a part time job in retail while you take a new non-retail job? If you need to make up $500/month, that’s 70 hours/month at minimum wage, or 17 hours/week. Which is a lot of work time, definitely, but might it be worth it to get out of retail? And presumably you’d earn at least a little above minimum wage.

    1. bridget*

      By gathering and assessing information that is generated externally to you. The information to suspect is the information that’s coming from your brain, because that’s potentially tainted with impostor syndrome. The information to take at face value is metrics, results, and evaluations from your boss and peers. I try to repeat to myself that the source of external information has no incentive to just say something nice to make me feel good; I need to believe exactly what it says; no more and no less.

      Gather all of the feedback you have from external sources. This includes emails that say “good job” or “please revise to do X.” Look at reports with your measurable output. Create a spreadsheet to figure out how often you meet deadlines v. miss them. Once you have all the information, either try to force yourself to look at it objectively, or recruit a trusted person in your life that you know will give it to you straight. Make an overall assessment about whether your actual performance means you are competent or not, instead of just relying on your emotional reaction to the day-to-day anxieties of the job.

      If you don’t have feedback, ask your boss for some, and document it so that you can look at it during a period where you can look at it objectively (or pull in the trusted friend).

    2. Lisa*

      I have imposter syndrome in front of my bosses, no one else. Coworkers, clients, even c-level – I am fine. But put my direct boss from my office in the room and I become a stuttering idiot. This goes back to being told everything I said was wrong whenever a past boss was part of a meeting with me. So I learned to be quiet in front of bosses, because I assume that a) I am wrong automatically and b) they don’t want to hear me talk at all – which was pretty much what that old boss dids did to me on a daily basis.

  59. Carrie in Scotland*

    I do not love being dumped with work at 4 pm on a Friday when it should be done by Tuesday at the latest. It also includes some magic/improbable things :-(

    Still #tgifriday!!

    1. Ama*

      Ugh, my sympathies. When I was in an admin support job in academia, faculty loved wandering down to my desk after 4, dumping a huge crisis in my lap and taking off while I stayed until 6 to finish it. The best time was when it was a request to process a travel advance for three months of fieldwork in China — brought to me at 4:45 on Friday when the faculty member was leaving Sunday.

  60. Coffee Ninja*

    I blew an interviewthis morning :( I was really excited about the position, but I’ve been in bed with a stomach virus the last 2 days and I spent 45% of my brainpower on trying not to pass out.

      1. Expendable Redshirt*

        Maybe you didn’t actually blow it? Maybe lingering remenants of the virus are making you THINK the event was worse than actual reality? *hopeful thoughts*

        Well. As long as you didn’t poop in a potted plant on the way out, at least that wasn’t the worst interview in the history of humanity.

  61. Hlyssande*

    I wrote a small SQL query on my own with only a tiny bit of help today. Woo! I just needed to change an = to a ‘like’ and it worked exactly as I expected.

    I’ve been encouraged to learn more about SQL and how to use it, and I feel that I’ve been learning a lot in the last month or two. I can fiddle around with existing queries too, mostly without breaking them.


    1. Anonymous Educator*

      SQL is very empowering once you get the hang of it. And you can do a lot without even getting into subqueries or anything super sophisticated, as long as you familiarize yourself with JOINs.

    2. Steve G*

      Cool! I started using it in Jan. Can’t wait to get it set up at New Co because the data sets are too big to query for certain things and I need SQL here!

    3. catsAreCool*

      Be careful with delete and update statements, especially when using 2 or more tables. I like to run a select statement first before running a delete or update.

  62. Maureen*

    I was hired on at my present employer with the job title Manager in January 2012. I the summer of 2013, my employer’s HR undertook a Market Study in order to evaluate compensation levels and bring them in line with the job market. In October of 2013, I was informed that, as a result of the market study, my title would be changed to IT Technology Coordinator. Annual reviews always score in the Satisfactory category, so there was no performance reason for the title change, only the results of the market study.

    My responsibilities, which include budget management and staff supervision, have not changed. Thankfully, neither has my salary. I have decided (in part because of the title change) that I should begin a job search, but this title change is causing me difficulties. FWIW, typical titles for jobs I am applying include IT Manager and IT Project Manager.

    Area 1. My resume.

    Option a.) I could list my old title (Manager). Since I always ask that my current employer not be contacted, this option seems best. But could this cause a problem in the case of an employee background check that an employer conducts when on the verge of making an offer?

    Option b.) I could list my new title (IT Technology Coordinator). But an employer who might bring a Manager in for an interview, might skip over a Coordinator, thinking them unqualified. And even if I got an interview, wouldn’t an employee background check still bring up the title change and leave the hiring manager with a bad taste in his mouth, that I kept this from him?

    Option c.) I could put both titles on the resume, which would ensure that no one could accuse me of being less than forthcoming. However, would that not ensure that my resume gets thrown out? Even if I did get called for an interview, it would ensure that the whole interview is focused on this situation rather than on my strengths.

    Area 2. The interview.

    When I am asked “Why are you looking to leave your current job?” is it ok to explain the market study title change? Or should I say something vague about wanting increased responsibilities or some such?

    Any help you can offer is appreciated. I have been searching for six months already with six interviews and no offers. (In case you were wondering, the resumes already submitted over the past six months use the Manager title, not IT Technology Coordinator)

    1. Dawn*

      I think you’re really overthinking this. No one is going to think it’s weird if you put “Manager/Tech Coordinator” on your resume. Companies have weird, weird, WEIRD ways of doing titles (I had something come across my desk from Dick’s Last Resort. This person’s title was, no lie, Payroll and Benefits Dicktator).

      It’s way more important to be truthful in your job titles and put both titles than to leave one off. Leaving one off is way more likely to hurt rather than help- imagine if a company got to the reference round, called your previous employer (which they can and will do regardless of if you put them down for a reference), and the person on the other end had bad information and said “Maureen? Yeah, she worked here, but she was an IT Technology Coordinator, not a manager!” That would look very, VERY bad for you. However, if you put both titles on your resume and then find a way to address the title change in your cover letter or in your interview then everything’s been explained in advance and there’s no misunderstandings.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Can I just say I’m rolling my eyes at whoever came up with “IT Technology Coordinator”? Redundant much?

      I would put IT Manager on my resume, and in the interview say something along the lines of “My company did a market compensation study recently, and rather than bringing my salary up to a manager level, they downgraded my title instead, even though I’m still doing manager-level work.”

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I know, right? Information Technology Technology Coordinator?? Whoever thought that up should be forced to go to the ATM machine, enter their PIN number, and pay us each a dollar for having to listening to that mangling of the English language.

        (And yes, that was on purpose….)

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I really don’t think it will even come up if you just list both titles. I wouldn’t give a title change as the main reason you’re looking to leave your job — I think it sounds petty, since your role and salary didn’t change.

  63. LisaLee*

    This isn’t a question (though if you have advice, I’d love to hear it) just a rant.

    I got a new manager a few months ago. “Louise” used to work in an entry-level position in a different department. She held that same position for ten years. I was skeptical about her when she first came in because she has no experience in our area and spent ten years in what should be a short-term job, but she seemed nice and I was just happy that Terrible Boss had finally retired.

    She. Can’t Do. Anything.

    All she does all day is putter around the office doing mundane tasks like filing, making coffee, etc. We’re currently super understaffed and heading into our busy season, and at least once a day I have a conversation with her that goes like this:

    Her: “Anything I can do?”
    Me: “Well, we need to double-check the teapot measurements.”
    Her: “Oh no, I’m no good at that. Is there something else?”
    Me: “We need to take pictures of the teapots for Teapots Quarterly.”
    Her: “Oh, I can’t do that either. I know! I’ll go and put some mail in the mailbox.”

    Literally the only things she will do are these tiny, meaningless tasks. Sometimes she decides she wants to do whatever it is I or one of my coworkers is doing, and will take the task from us and have us do something else. Then she gets bored before she’s finished and gives it back to us half-done. She’s very, very slow too.

    My department has had a long line of totally inexplicable hiring decisions, so I guess I shouldn’t have expected much, but wtf.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I feel your pain. I had a manager like this a few jobs ago. In my case she’d been with the company for years but her position as someone important’s secretary was eliminated and because we needed a manager at that time…she became our manager. It was incredibly difficult because when we went away on holidays, she was expected to help with our work, especially if it was time sensitive (it often was) and her standard was waaaaay below mine.

      I was always grateful that when one super duper time sensitive big hoo-haa of a report came through, I was on holiday and had nothing to do with it at all – the quality was embarrassing and the thing it was about was in the press/reports were made available to the public.

      To be fair, she a) had a “cheat sheet”/process sheet for reports (didn’t always help though, she did try. Mainly) and b) she wasn’t happy being put into a job she didn’t have experience for. She certainly never seemed very happy to me, anyway.

      No advice, just commiseration.

    2. Ad Astra*

      Well, TBTB hired Louise for a reason, right? It’s possible that Louise has some skill or quality that made her look like a strong choice, and if that’s the case you may have something to work with here. Do you have a good relationship with anyone in her former department who could fill you in on her strengths and weaknesses?

      Maybe an adjustment to the workflow or some of your processes would speak more to her strengths and allow her to use whatever skills the higher-ups seem to think she has. Or maybe some training in teapot measurements or whatever would help her contribute more. Does that sound like even a remote possibility in this situation?

      Of course, it’s also possible that the reasons for hiring her were flat-out bad reasons and this was a huge mistake that everyone and their ferret could have seen coming. And that really, really sucks. :(

      1. LisaLee*

        Unfortunately, our department seems to be used as a last step for people who have been with the company for a really, really long time but don’t have the skills to move up in other departments. My last boss was also someone who had been in an entry-level position for over a decade, before being sent to us with no real skills in our department. Both he and Louise are nearly retirement age, and I think the company likes to show loyalty to longtime workers by promoting them.

        She’s very nice, and by all accounts she was good at her last position. But her last position was essentially a secretary, which has nothing to do with what my department does.

        I’ve tried helping her to learn some of our tasks, but she doesn’t seem to be able to retain much of it, and has an attitude of “If I can’t do it the first time, then I’m not good at it and don’t want to do it again.” I also don’t have the time to provide the comprehensive training she should have been given.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          God, this sounds miserable. Hopefully she retires soon??

          We had a director for awhile who did not return phone calls or email, seemed to delegate most of his work to others, had lousy people skills, asked the whole department to reschedule meetings that were the same day each month to accommodate his schedule – and then wouldn’t show, etc. Then he got fired! Yay! So you know. sometimes there’s a happy ending. For the employees of the terrible boss, that is. Good luck!

    3. NicoleK*

      Run. Don’t walk. My boss literally has no idea what I do 50% of the time. Which means that my projects are very low priority for her. And that is problematic when I need her support to push projects through. That doesn’t happen, hence I’m looking for a new job.

  64. Lalaith*

    Question up front: if one submits an online application, and one does not get any kind of confirmation email or anything back… is this normal? Is there anything I can do to make sure that they got my application without seeming overly pushy or needy?

    At least this means I FINALLY got off my ass and started actively applying… woo! But I also got involved with a recruiting agency that is “showcasing” me to their potential employers this week (and only this week)… and I have heard not a peep from any of them :-/ Bummer. And this agency reached out to *me*, which somehow makes it more annoying.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      I’ve found that when I apply via the compy’s website, I almost always get, at minimum, a canned auto-response. Applying through LinkedIn or career sites is sketchier – the site will generally send back an auto-reply but I usually hear absolutely nothing from the company. I often don’t get any kind of response when the application process is just emailing a resume. It seems like a whole lot of places can’t even be bothered to set up an auto-reply for that.

      1. Lalaith*

        It was through the company’s website, which is why I found it odd that I didn’t even get an auto-response.

  65. HigherEd Admin*

    Send good vibes my way, please! I got a call the other day saying I could expect an offer today or early next week for a position I’m very excited about. Why do I need the good vibes? Because we didn’t discuss salary ranges (I know, I know) and so I’m not entirely sure what to expect from the offer.

    A huge thank you to AAM and this commenting community. I would never have felt as prepared, as confident, or as comfortable throughout the interview process if it wasn’t for this site.

  66. Shell*

    Some days I feel like AAM makes me sound way smarter/experienced than I actually am. One of my best friends yesterday was very confused about the recruitment process from an external recruiter, and I explained it to her in the 15 minutes it took me to go home from work. I had a lot of suggestions for another person’s resume. Et cetera.

    The best friend from yesterday was like “I didn’t know you’ve had experience with recruitment” and I said “I don’t. But I’ve heard about it. Blah blah quote AAM and brilliant commenters blah blah.” And said best friend’s boyfriend would be all “see? Listen to Shell, she’s smart!”

    So thank you, Alison and brilliant commentariat, for letting me learn so much!

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Ha. One time I was out to dinner with some family members and my uncle (a small business owner) was suggesting someone take a counter offer to get ahead at their company. I said automatically, “It’s rarely a good idea to accept a counter offer.” My uncle laughingly asked me why not (knowing I had no personal experience in this area) and I will always remember fondly how taken aback he looked when I rattled off a list of very cogent reasons why it was a bad idea.

    2. Ad Astra*

      An acquaintance of mine has been blasting her resume around online trying to find work in her new city. I noticed she made a lot of the common mistakes Alison talked about, but I don’t know her well enough to offer unsolicited feedback on her resume. So I just said, “Hey! I highly recommend for job-hunting tips and resources. You should check it out!”

      I hope she does check it out (she had impressive credentials but she also had an objective and a list of traits like “works well independently and in groups”). I also hope she doesn’t figure out why I directed her here and take offense.

    3. The Zone Of Avoidance*

      Used correctly, the Internet can result in some amount of intelligence increase in skilled users.

      I think it was John Dystra who asked “what is the IQ of a man with an Internet terminal?”

      Intelligence Increase was a big part of Timothy Leary’s SMIILE concept: Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, and Life Extension. These are the things we should be focusing on, but we’re idiots.

      ‘Asteroids are God’s way of asking “how’s that space program coming along?”‘ – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

  67. Marcela*

    Several years ago I offered to help somebody in emergencies with his website and I need help with wording, since I can’t find a polite way of telling his admin that I am not available for free anymore.

    In 2007 I started working with my husband’s boss. I didn’t speak the language of the city we lived in and my degree wasn’t recognized in the country, so I could not get a normal job or a job in science. So when DH’s boss said he needed a website, DH suggested me. The job was payless, my boss could not hired me because of the rules of the university where we all worked. The only rewards would be something in my resume and that the boss would pay for my trips to conferences with DH. After all, this wasn’t a bad deal, it allowed me to add a very important website to my resume that got me my job in a very important university in the US. And we got to spend one month in Japan =^.^=

    By the time we left that group, the website was a very important tool: they still use it to gather information about the group’s activities for reporting and writing grants. But when we move to the US, nobody took my place, so I told my boss I could help as long as I had free time, since I expected to have a full time job. THIS was my mistake.

    It’s been 5 years from the day I left, and from time to time, and admin of the group sends me emails telling me to do A, B or C to fix or improve the website, which I haven’t touched except for real emergencies. She arrived after we left, so I haven’t met her personally. I’ve tried subtle hints to let her know that I won’t do big jobs or modify the existing functionalities, since I do have a full time job and they are not paying me, but she doesn’t seem to understand or accept it.

    Today I received an email which is not a request. It’s “I’m writing to you so the website do X”. I am very annoyed. I just want her to stop thinking she can ask for stuff. Until this very moment where I’m telling the story, I used to think she didn’t know I’m not getting paid, but since she is the admin and probably handles the money used to pay people, she knows she doesn’t have a right to ask.

    But I can’t get to be polite! I’ve started the email several times and I can’t find the words to tell her nicely “you people need to stop emailing me, since I don’t work for you. Get a new admin”.


    1. Dawn*

      Don’t tell them nicely.

      “I am no longer available to work on your site. Please stop contacting me.”

      Another way would be to give them a bill and tell them you’re not going to do it for free.

      “I can no longer work on your site for free. My rate is $100 an hour and I estimate that this task that you have given to me will take 10 hours. I require payment up front.”

      I promise they’ll stop asking if you start billing…. only a little tongue in cheek on that suggestion :)

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Agree. To them you’re not “the nice person who helps out and has a full time job and is therefore to be treated with extra respect.” You’re “the person who runs the website.”

        So tell them explicitly that you’re not the person who runs the website. IF you are willing to continue working for them for pay, you can tell them an hourly rate for which you are willing. But I wouldn’t do even that, since you have a job of your own to focus on.

        “Effective immediately, I am no longer able to be responsible for the web site.” End of story.

      2. Marcela*

        After some thought, I do like this. I mean, it’s always been a possibility that we could go back to this place. The professor is a really nice guy, it’s just that he doesn’t realize he needs an admin (as really few people in academia do) and he is super limited by his university’s rules. I don’t want to destroy the relationship just because the admin is obnoxious. But I don’t want to work for free anymore. I need the money, after all. Maybe I’m being naive, but perhaps if I tell them how much I value my work, thet come to realize how much is worth it. Sometimes people don’t value what’s given for free to them.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      First, reach out to whoever your main contact is there (the manager you made the original arrangement with, if he’s still there) and say this: “Because of increasing work commitments, I’m no longer going to be available to help with your website. I wanted to give you a heads-up and I’ll let (admin) know as well. (insert some nice sentence here — good luck with the X project or whatever.)”

      Then, email the admin back: “Hi Jane, I just let Bob know that I’m no longer able to help with the website because of my commitments with other work projects. Sorry about that, and good luck with it!”

      1. Marcela*

        Alison, THANKS! That’s perfect. Together with PontoonPirate’s suggestion, I’ll write and send the email right now.

    3. PontoonPirate*

      If you haven’t point-blank said you can’t keep working on it, it’s not fair for her to guess. I’d say something like,

      “I originally began this work when I had much more flexibility with my time and schedule. Unfortunately, I no longer have that flexibility, so this will have to be my last update. Let me know who I should send the login/passwords/etc to after this. After this update, I’ll assume the work has been completed on my end. Regards, Marcela.”

      If she pushes back, reiterate, “I can no longer accommodate these requests, but I wish you the best of luck.”

      Repeat, rinse, repeat. And don’t do any more work after this update.

      1. Marcela*

        In truth, it’s not about me being unable to work. I could do it and I probably will help them if they hire a new admin. The thing is that the original agreement was very explicit in that I was only to be contacted for emergencies. My situation and the agreement was public knowledge when I left the group. The professor could not hire me, so he acknowledged that he could not ask for anything but my good will. He told the admin once, in one of the emails, that I wasn’t to do any new job. As a matter of fact, there is another admin and with her there is no problem at all.

        I’m just fed up because this admin doesn’t ask nicely, she presumes she can tell me what to do and even tell me I have to do it before X date. It’s even worse because she refuses to learn to do some normal tasks, sending me emails so I do them instead of following the documentation (which I did write before I left). If she were nice instead of patronizing, you can bet I would be willing to continue with the agreement.

        While in the rational side I agree that without being told, I could not expected her to guess, I expected her to know that you can’t treat as an employee, somebody you are not paying! Would she work for free? Why would she expect me to? Perhaps I’m asking too much from humanity?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That opens up an additional option then: You could email the admin and say, “My agreement with Bob is that I’m only available for emergencies, not for new projects or routine changes. So I can’t help with this — sorry!” Then email Bob and say, “Hey, Jane keeps contacting me for non-emergency web work. I’ve let her know that I’m really only for emergencies only, but she continues to contact me. Could you clarify our agreement with her?”

          1. Marcela*

            Yeah, this is even better. I hadn’t thought of that. I was too annoyed to give it a proper thought.

            1. schnapps*

              I have a question: you mentioned that you were in Japan for a year and it was associated with this agreement. Could there be a language barrier? If there is, it could be that the admin is limited in her English language use and tends to use what we would think of as commands rather than requests.

              (e.g. My Greek friend in grad school would say, “I will tell my professor that he needs to do blah blah blah.” And I would correct her in “No, you need to ASK him to do that for your.” And she would look at me like I had five heads and ask, “So what’s the difference?” and her English was pretty good)

              1. Marcela*

                All of the people in this story are native speakers of Spanish. But we are from different countries, yes, so there is a small possibility it’s that. I would say it’s not because she is the only person I’ve met from that country that uses such a strong way to say things. But now, my MIL does the exact same thing, she doesn’t give us advice, she give us orders. :(

                1. afiendishthingy*

                  I speak Spanish a lot for work; I’m fluent but definitely not a native speaker. It’s already a delicate job – similar to social work, I’m in people’s homes – and it is so stressful trying to say difficult things clearly but not rudely. I’m perpetually worried I’ve unknowingly mortally offended someone with one badly chosen word.

    4. The Zone Of Avoidance*

      Another thought: can you find someone who would take over the work at a reasonable price? Sure, they want free help, but also – perhaps more so – they don’t want to be abandoned.

      1. Marcela*

        You are right, they don’t want to be abandoned, but they don’t want to take care of themselves either. For sometime, it seemed one of the PhD students was going to take some of my tasks, as part of the normal extra stuff everybody has to do in an academic group. But when problems appeared, this guy did nothing. And my boss, the professor, did not care. Let me tell you, the situation was really bad, a bad disk in the server where they record everything they do. You’d think they would feel the pressure and get this student to fix the issue (he was a computer science student, moving to basic sciences, so it’s not like he didn’t know computers or could not get help), but no. Right now, the problem is so big that the machine doesn’t allow me to login as the administrator. Any day now, it’s going to die, but there is nothing I could do from the distance. And it’s been more than 3 years since this problem happened!

        I don’t think I can find somebody to replace me. First, because I am living in California: they are in Western Europe. Now we have 9? hours of time difference. Second, because that wasn’t my country, so all the people I knew are foreigner scientists, and I don’t have any network in the place to find an administrator. And third, because -and this is a problem in itself- I do not know if the professor is willing to pay somebody to do this job, i.e., if there is actually a position to fill.

        The latter is a issue that many people refuse to understand. My FIL, for example, he has a small company and they need to create and share reports, pictures, videos. They need a trustable place to store stuff. Do you believe my FIL refuses to hire and admin, even when he needs to change or reinstall several of the laptops in the company every six months or so, under the argument that all people needs to know windows administration? My boss in this story continously says that yes, he understands that they need an administrator for the server. It’s been 5 years and no effort has been made to find one. In my last job, it was the same story. I was hired because I was there, but when I left, nobody took my place and a couple of projects and researchers are now struggling to deal with the lack of an administrator, but my former boss doesn’t care.

  68. Loux*

    I joined a mentoring group and our mentor said that all the people who were in the company and didn’t know what we did got laid off and then laughed and laughed. As I was laid off previously, I found her remark callous.

  69. Lunar*

    I have a question about resumes. I know that it is important to put tangible acomplishments on your resume so I’m trying to come up with some. One of the things that I do at my job is manage our web presence and social media. I have had success increasing our following on Facebook that I will definitely mention, but engagement there and on other social media channels (like Twitter) aren’t amazing. Many of our members are older and not on the social media train, part of our work is private and can’t be shared online, so I think that the progress I have made is significant, but it may not look that way from the outside. Is it impressive on a resume to explain that our Twitter following has increased by over 50% in the past year and our FB following has doubled several times over or should I not draw attention to these things because the numbers aren’t very impressive compared to other orgs social media?

    Also, I am the least senior person at our small org so I wear a lot of hats and do a ton, but it is often edited or changed by higher ups before it is produced. For example, I write a lot first drafts of copy that we use, but it is heavily edited by others before it is published. I definitely wouldn’t use this as a writing sample, but is there a way to talk about writing as part of my job without over-inflating or downplaying my contribution? Thanks for the help. AAM commenters are the best.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think increasing social media following by 50-x00% is impressive, regardless of the hard numbers! Every org has to start somewhere with their social media. In an interview you can also frame it as you did here, that you’ve increased engagement in a particularly hard to reach demographic.

    2. NGL*

      At my last job, I started a social media channel from scratch, and yes, the numbers were relatively small, but everyone is impressed when you say you increased numbers by 50% in a year. Everyone in this industry knows you have to start somewhere, and really that’s a pretty awesome place to start from! Also, if you’re looking for jobs in the same industry, managers will likely be aware of the inherent problems of your user base not being as social-media savvy. If you’re looking for jobs in a different industry, you can bring up that particular challenge in an interview, and what you’ve done to try to create content that will engage a difficult-to-reach audience.

    3. Ad Astra*

      Yes, I think those numbers are good enough for a resume. If a hiring manager asks about them in an interview, you can explain some of what you shared here to give those numbers context. Social media is pretty easy when your brand is, like, Taco Bell. Being able to connect with a less receptive customer base is a lot more impressive.

  70. LizB*

    I’m one month into my new job, and I’m really, really struggling. It’s a human services position with some of the most challenging clients in the field, the program is brand new so our leadership and infrastructure aren’t where they need to be, we’re desperately short-staffed (especially on my shift), and communication keeps breaking down between staff members. I was holding it together pretty well for the first few weeks, but the stress is really starting to wear on me — I feel nauseous when I eat, I’m having terrible work-related dreams, I can’t relax on my days off because I spend the whole time dreading going back to work. I know it’s going to get better, and my plan was to stay with this organization for a few years at least, but that’s not going to happen if I burn myself out in the first two months. I’m meeting with my supervisor (who only started a week and a half ago himself) today, but I don’t know that there’s much he can really do for me. People keep telling me I’m doing a great job, which is nice, but when “doing a great job” feels like total exhaustion and sky-high anxiety I don’t know that I want to keep doing such a great job. Any advice or commiseration, especially from other human services/direct care workers, would be appreciated.

    (On the very small plus side, my paycheck today was HUGE because of all the overtime I’ve been pulling. Yay?)

    1. Coffee Ninja*

      I feel for you. Direct service positions, especially with challenging clients, can be insanely difficult. It sounds like your organization isn’t helping matters, what with having a brand new program that’s disorganized and understaffed.

      What self-care strategies are you using? Can you cut down on the overtime hours a bit, at least until things settle down? It can be hard to set boundaries on your time once you see the dollars in your paycheck, but right now it sounds like a bit more time away from work would be more beneficial.

      Talk with your supervisor about the communication issues. Do you have any ideas you can bring up?

      1. LizB*

        Thank you for the sympathy. I’m trying to get enough sleep, take my vitamins, stay hydrated, stay in touch with loved ones… I called around to a few gyms today to get membership pricing info, so hopefully I’ll be able to exercise some starting next week. My boyfriend has been an excellent sport about doing more dishes and laundry so I don’t have to spend my limited time off doing so many chores.

        I’d love to do less overtime, but it’s not really an option right now — I’m not asking to take extra shifts, I’m being asked, and since everyone else is also pulling 60-hour weeks I don’t want to say no. I think the communication issues are improving, and they’re going to be posting openings for a shift lead position soon, so that may help streamline things (and also bring in some more experienced staffers). I think I just have to white-knuckle through this for now.

    2. Paige Turner*

      Oh man, you sound like a trooper! At least you get overtime? -_-
      But I can relate to the exhaustion and stress dreams, although I haven’t worked in the same field as you. It doesn’t sound like you can fix the staffing problems right away, so can you work with your new supervisor to try improving communication?
      Also, it sounds like you’re too busy for even a long weekend, but maybe you can schedule something fun or relaxing for your time off to give you something to look forward to and keep your mind off work when you’re not there. Then when you’re having another rough day, you can think about getting a pedicure or meeting a friend for coffee tomorrow instead of seeing nothing but work work work in your future. Good luck, please keep us posted!

      1. LizB*

        That’s a good idea — I should try and schedule some fun stuff for my time off. It’ll be good to have something pleasant on the horizon. Thank you!

    3. schnapps*

      Can you treat your supervisor as an ally? Go to him with some ideas on how to improve things and get him on board with it? He’s probably just trying not to drown as well.

      Also, exercise. Take your lunches and breaks, throw on a podcast or some music you really like and go for a walk (if you can eat at your desk after, bonus! do that!). Or bring a friend and walk as fast as you both can and complain about work. Jog, even. Either way, you’ll feel better.

  71. Persephone Mulberry*


    I’ve had two phone screens (two different companies) in the past month or so, neither of which turned into in-person interviews. I thought they went well, the second one even better than the first, and I just hate not knowing what the barriers were. Ah, well.

  72. Stranger than fiction*

    Anyone ever go through a slow period at work and then when it picked up again, realized you’d become extremely lazy and just don’t wanna? Cause that’s the problem I’m having and find myself procrastinating on a lot of stuff, but nobody seems to care/notice as long as I get stuff done (eventually), so why should I kill myself producing at my old rate?

    1. The IT Manager*

      Yes. Things are picking up again and I developed some bad habits that I am fighting. Even though I know this procrastination will likely result in some frantic work at the deadline.

      Damn you, brain. Why can’t you be smarter about this stuff.

    2. Retail Lifer*

      Yes. I’ve been mentally checked out for this job for months, but at least it’s been an easy time of year. Going into the holiday season, there’s a ton of prep work to do, a ton of new people to train, and crazy extended hours. Plus I get to work on Thanksgiving and miss out on all festivities. So yeah, I don’t wanna either.

    3. Ad Astra*

      Yes. My current job is much slower paced than any of my previous jobs, and I find myself procrastinating a lot more.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Me too–I set up a schedule for certain tasks that have to be done at certain times. In between it can be hard to fill up the time, so sometimes I have to invent projects when I don’t have reports in the pipeline.

        1. Ad Astra*

          I am really struggling with managing far-off deadlines. As a newspaper copy editor, my deadline was 11:50 every night. As a newspaper digital editor, my deadline was pretty much “get this posted as fast as humanly possible.” Now I have deadlines that are weeks away for projects that will only take a few hours of actual work, and it’s killing me.

          Occasionally, these assignments have no real deadline at all, which is why I’ve been languishing over the same simple article for about 6 weeks now.

    4. Paige Turner*

      Yes! I’m trying to be conscious of it so I don’t fall into bad habits when things pick up or I get another job. I doesn’t help that my bosses are remote/off-site 90% of the time, so I can (theoretically) slack off for long periods without anyone noticing.

  73. Anie*

    Just mentally raged out at my desk. Deep breaths.

    My boss is so condescending! I don’t THINK he’s doing it on purpose. Perhaps I am overly sensitive. But come on….

    I work in publishing. Have for 10 years. My new boss just sent me this in an email: “The first letter in the first word of a sentence is always capitalized.”

    No shit?! Really? You don’t say?

    I don’t mind corrections and constructive criticism. He was responding to something I wrote where, yes, the first letter was not capitalized. As it happens, I was writing about a company that lowercases their name. Think of iPhones. Would you type IPhone if it was the first word of the sentence? I wouldn’t! If he wants to, fine, but just say, “Hey, even though it normally is lowercase, I want to keep to the standard if it’s the first word of a sentence–even if that’s incorrect spelling of the word.”

    I wish it was appropriate to call out a boss on being condescending and dismissive. I really dislike working with him.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      No real advice but can totally relate. I rage out regularly at some of the dysfunction around here. I’ve broken two keyboards actually.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I think some style guides (AP, maybe?) say it should be Iphone at the beginning of a sentence, though that looks so stupid that I’d much rather rewrite the sentence so that it’s not the first word. In the case of adidas, though, I say screw it and write Adidas, which was a point of contention when I worked in sports.

      It’s weird that your boss doesn’t seem to recognize that this is a difference in styles, not a misunderstanding of how English sentences work. I think “The first letter in the first word of a sentence is always capitalized” would be condescending to say to just about anyone. That rule is first or second grade grammar.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I have had the same thing happen to me, especially when dealing with acronyms and initialisms (McAfee’s ePO, for example).

      I’ve given up trying to explain that grammar and style rules have to be applied in context.

    4. Golden Yeti*

      I had a moment like that a week ago. (I like the term “mental rage out.”)

      Boss was copying my work to publish under his name elsewhere (sadly a very common occurrence)–within the hour of my sending it to him for approval. I had lumped a specific item into a category to which it didn’t belong (I would have had no way of knowing it didn’t belong, because the information came from my boss, not the direct source–I know what you might be thinking, but I’m not in journalism. I was asked to share an anecdote from the boss’s friend). The mistake was caught by the public, who contacted the publisher, who contacted my boss about the error.

      Boss asked me to fix the error, and casually remarked, “I wish Ned wouldn’t publish without asking me these questions first. He shouldn’t be so quick to publish it.”

      I thought, how dare you–maybe you shouldn’t be tripping over yourself to immediately copy someone else’s work, portray it as your own, and put it out in the universe so you can bask in the glow of public admiration. Oh, I was absolutely fuming. I had a drink after work that day.

      I feel your pain, and you have my sympathies.

  74. Anon for this*

    When you manage a team, and one member of the team isn’t pulling her full weight, what do you say to the others?

    Assume the following: you are working on firing the poor employee; due to corporate bureaucracy, this will take several weeks; the team is entering a busy period in which one person’s lack of busyness will be noticed; the bureaucracy has also forbidden you to tell the rest of the team that poor employee is going to be fired.

    1. Dawn*

      “The bureaucracy has also forbidden you to tell the rest of the team that poor employee is going to be fired.”

      Don’t. Say. Anything. It’ll be hard not to, but seriously DON’T SAY ANYTHING that would even HINT that the employee is going to be fired.

      If I were you I’d pile on the compliments and let everyone else on the team know (in private, individually) that you recognize how hard they are working and you are doing *everything that you can* to help. “Wakeen, you are really working hard and I want you to know that you’re doing a great job. I am doing everything that I can to make sure that your work is recognized and to help the team through this busy period.” I think if you go around to everyone individually and say something along those lines then the smarter employees should put 2 + 2 together and get an idea of what’s going on.

      But yeah don’t compromise your standing or your job by even hinting that the underperformer is going to be fired. I know that you really really want to because it would boost morale but zip it!

    2. HM in Atlanta*

      Focus on the contributions of the people who are doing the work, and make things as easy as possible for them while the lackluster coworker is still there. Once you’ve terminated the lower performer, you’ll have 2 things. 1 – the strong performers on your team know that you won’t badmouth them to other people and 2 – you will really take action when someone is making their lives harder.

      The upswing you’ll get from both these things is worth more (and lasts longer) than if you let them know what was happening in advance.

    3. The Zone Of Avoidance*

      Does the employee know that they will soon be fired?

      If not, then I’m sorry but I have to call “bogus!” It’s pretty much a given here on AAM that people should not be surprised if they get fired – because management should have been giving them feedback and perhaps have put them on a PIP. Personally, I’d be more concerned about this aspect of things than a prohibition against lettering other people know.

      1. MJ*

        While they shouldn’t be completely surprised, some people just don’t think you will really step up and fire them. And some people are deluded about their performance. And some of those people react very badly when they do eventually get fired.

    4. MJ*

      Even after you fire the employee, you say nothing other than “Wakeen is no longer with us. We will be posting the position soon. Let’s make a plan for how we will cover the work until we hire a new person.” It’s really hard to have to protect the privacy of the poor performer when you just want to explain to everyone.

  75. Clevelander*

    Pros/cons of VERY small companies? Like 20 people total small. I had a great and promising interview for what would be a leadership level title, but in a department of 2 (the other person clerical level). I’ve always been in a big company setting and wonder what might be some of the drawbacks and advantages of tiny and family owned.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Hmm this could either be a really awesome opportunity, especially if they’re growing, or if the family part of it is dysfunctional (infighting, playing favorites, etc) could be nightmarish. All I can really advise is try speaking with ithers who work there and getting a sense or vibe if there’s some bad morale or something not quite right. And try to find out if they’re stable financially.

    2. Lillian McGee*

      I love my small organization! We are 18 staff and a rotating cast of interns/volunteers. Some drawbacks I’d say are limited resources for perks–like snacks in the break room or the Nice pens… Also you may find that people are stretched in their positions. For example there’s no IT guy so one of us has to be interrupted when someone’s whatever stops working… things like that.

      1. Development professional*

        I would agree that these are the things you don’t always think of. There’s no mail room, so you have to take some things physically to the post office, wait in line. There’s no HR, so your operations person or office manager or maybe even finance person handles your benefits in whatever time they have to devote to that, and might not be super adept and helping you straighten out problems or make changes to your insurance coverage. You have to figure out and do a lot more for yourself on all kinds of fronts, from ordering supplies to financial stuff to paying vendors to updating your website, etc.

    3. Shell*

      I work in a company of 18 people, and I’m happy here (the top three people are family, everyone else is an outside employee, though many have been here a very long time). Your overall happiness depends heavily on how it’s run, like most workplaces. If the higher ups can manage and delegate properly, you’re good. If the family dysfunction affects how the workplace is run, you’re pretty screwed.

      Pros: stretch assignments. Given my experience level at my job (teapot purchasing), I do a lot of things not typical of people with my experience level. A lot of ownership of your stuff. Lots of cross-training, by necessity.

      Cons: if a couple of people are out at the same time (say, planned vacation + a few unfortunately-timed illnesses), you will be stretched very, very thin. Benefits are naturally more limited than those at bigger places, due to economies of scale. Departments are very small, so bottlenecks can happen for long-term projects, and unplanned absences make it worse.

    4. Anie*

      I’m trying to get out of a small company. The biggest con, I think, is no movement. I’ll never get a raise or a promotion. Not all small companies are stagnant, of course, but mine is. :/

    5. Clevelander*

      All good things to think about. The role is for controller, and yeah, definitely some benefits stuff and other non-traditional finance things were in the job description. I have enough Big Company on my resume that I feel like this could be a good opportunity to get the leadership experience and still jump back to something bigger down the line if I felt stifled.

      This is the best comments section, for real.

    6. Ordinary Worker*

      My wife works at a small company of 15 people including the owner. She loves the fact that she can work in several different areas, loves the fact that she’s been recognized for going above and beyond with raises and bonuses, loves the yearly bonus the boss gives. She doesn’t love the difficulties getting time off and being stretched thin when someone is out sick and another has vacation.

    7. periwinkle*

      My previous permanent job was with a company with about 15 employees. It was a sole proprietorship and the owner hired both of her adult kids at various points. She also hired the adult kids of other employees to do projects or remote work. A little weird but at the same time it was a supportive workplace that did good work. As part of a tiny business you can wear many hats and get experience doing all sorts of odd things. I used to joke that my job description was simply “other duties as required.” That was fun! You don’t have to fight through a mass of processes and dense layers of bureaucracy to get things done. Boy do I miss that in my current job (with roughly 10,000 times the number of employees and a bureaucracy that glorifies in its stolid immobility).

      The cons – small doesn’t automatically mean nimble and innovative. You might have to wear too many hats that take you away from your actual responsibilities. Opportunities for upward movement are scarce especially in a tiny family-owned place (unless you marry into the family). If there’s a toxic person you’ll have difficulty avoiding the oozing poison.

    8. Felicia*

      I work in a company of three, soon to be 4. I personally l0ve it but it’s not for everyone. The biggest positive is that you get a lot more opportunites and freedoms, because as such a small company you can experiment, and be in charge of things, and get to bring your ideas to life , because there’s less people to be innovative, so you have to be the one to do it. The biggest negative for me is everyone kind of does a bit of everything by necessity so it’s hard to figure out what everyone’s job really is and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Smaller companies are less structured and less hierarchical from what I’ve heard (everyone is pretty equal and yet gets to be the person in charge of their individual area because there’s no one else), which I like. But I started a year ago at entry level, so I get to do a lot more than an entry level person at a big company but it’s probably harder to move up.

      It’s perfect for me, and in the niche that i’m in very common. 20 people seems big to me because I’ve always worked in companies of less than 10.

    9. NicoleK*

      Pros: stretch assignments, more of a family feel, get to know your coworkers really well, flexibility (depending on the industry and organization)

      Cons: typically lower pay (largely depends on the industry), no HR, limited resources, difficult to cover for vacations and unplanned absences, employees stretched too thin, limited advancement opportunities

    10. KW10*

      Often you get to wear many hats (learn to do roles/tasks you wouldn’t otherwise) – this can be a pro or a con depending on whether the different roles are things you like or don’t!

      Much less bureaucracy… definitely a pro. On the flip side, though, there may be fewer established procedures/rules and no HR.

      You usually get to work closely with “upper management” or the owners – which can be great opportunity, or it can mean you’re stuck with someone who’s horribly out of line and there’s no way to go above their head since they’re the owner!

      I guess the bottom line is that it can be good or bad. I’ve pretty much only ever worked for small companies and have had both good and bad experiences.

  76. Bear*

    Anyone have some advice on dealing with difficult vendors? Some context:

    I’m managing a fairly large, complex project. It’s a pilot testing ways to adapt a system in order increase usage in a specific industry. Our partners include regional and national governmental agencies, as well as regional and national arms of international private organizations.
    I’m having issues with one of the vendors. They take months to look into problems and ignore us when we follow-up. Their answers/solutions only address a portion of a given problem and they get defensive when we ask for the additional pieces. In general, they’re pretty rude/condescending when they speak with us. I’m not the only one on the team experiencing problems.

    We had some success in fostering a better relationship after a meeting a few months ago, but our latest round of collaboration hasn’t been going well. We’re back to dealing with same issues as above.

    Unfortunately, we can’t work with a different vendor and there isn’t really anyone else we can escalate this to. Any thoughts/suggestions on things we can do?

    1. Allison*

      What is in your contract with the vendor? Can you amend it to include terminology to enforce responsiveness and financially penalize bad behavior? I am in contracts and procurement and often put this kind of stuff in my contracts for this very reason. Right now we are penalizing vendors that do work off contract 20% of their fees. It has cut down on off contract work by more than 40%.

      Since a meeting worked the last time, I would bring them back in and discuss the issues again. It might be a hassle but if it worked… Have you escalated it through the vendor’s hierarchy?

  77. Kick me when I'm down*

    I got some really non specific negative feedback this week during my appraisal. It didn’t come from my manager but an anonymous source. Two things bothered me, one was that I was quoted as saying something that doesn’t sound like me and two my boss didn’t seem to have done any digging to find out what it was referring to.

    Also it felt like an assault on my personality which hit all kinds of hot buttons for me and has sent me into the weekend feeling like a complete failure.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      I’d straight up ask boss about it. “Hey it seems like you took so and so’s word for it and that was a bit hurtful for me after we’ve worked so well together…” Or something along those lines

      1. Sadsack*

        Or say that you need some context or you don’t know how to improve. What did your boss say she wanted you to do about it?

        1. Kick me when I'm down*

          Boss wasn’t specific about what should be done, I should have pushed harder but we were talking about some other things too and I was very aware that I might come across as someone who couldn’t take feedback.

          1. Sadsack*

            Maybe after the weekend, you can approach your boss and say you’ve given it thought and would like to discuss those comments again. If you make it apparent that you are trying to reasonably consider areas where you need improvement, it should help your boss better explain what she wants from you.