open thread – November 13, 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 :)

{ 1,170 comments… read them below }

  1. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Well, bad news and good news.

    I didn’t get the position that I had really wanted. That’s the one where, when I asked what an excellent performer would do that a merely solid performer wouldn’t, they pretty much said things that I had already discussed about myself in the interview, so I thought I had a really good shot. But the pay for that would probably have been below what I’m getting now, so I’m going to imagine that they didn’t make me an offer because they knew they couldn’t pay me enough to jump ship, so they went with someone more junior who would accept less.

    The second job, the one that I hadn’t even applied for when they called me to come interview, asked me for a second interview. I wasn’t as keen on that one, but who knows, just because I don’t fall in love with a place doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like it once I started, right? The only thing that worries me is that they also may not have much flexibility with pay and benefits, and I know that I’d be a stretch for them in that sense, too. But the fact that they’re still interested means they are probably hoping/trying to accommodate me, right?

  2. april ludgate*

    I just sent some recommendations to my manager of holiday party ideas beyond our typical “going out after work hours for a sit down meal where employees have to pay for their own dinner” arrangement. Wish me luck!

      1. april ludgate*

        Well, we’re on a tight budget so I suggested having it here (we have some conference rooms that are the perfect size for a party that have movable furniture) and doing a finger-food potluck. Unless people go overboard, it would be cheaper than getting a meal out and having portable appetizers/desserts allows easier mingling. And having it here cuts down extra travel time (we have a lot of people who live half an hour or more away and the dinner is never directly after work) and allows people with evening commitments to be there. Add in some decorations that people could “lend” to the party instead of buying them and some background music. I also suggested some sort of trivia or non-awkward ice breaker to kick things off, and we always do a yankee swap. One of my coworkers and I also discussed maybe doing a $10 gift card yankee swap instead of gifts, because let’s be honest no one ever really likes cheap swap gifts, we’d all get way more use out of a gift card for somewhere like Starbucks or Target or a local business, you know? Personally, I think they’re all great ideas, but we’ll see.

        1. april ludgate*

          I should have also mentioned that the alternative to going out to dinner was to have everyone bring their own lunch to eat together in the staff room (which would be counted as your unpaid lunch break).

        2. JM*

          At my previous job, we did the potluck thing at lunch. It worked out really well and we had tons of leftovers for the rest of the week.

        3. gg*

          At last year’s Christmas Luncheon (my first at the new job) my boss came up with a fun party game-ish thing to do that I had never seen before. He passed around a bag of noisemaker toys that were all labeled with numbers from 1 to 12. Everyone grabbed one. Then Boss played a recording of ’12 Days of Christmas’, and when your number was sung (eg, “_FIVE_ golden rings”) you made noise with your noisemaker. It was exceptionally stupid, but somehow fun.

          1. TootsNYC*

            You could make that extra silly by giving each noisemaker three numbers.

            You can’t have 12 people for drummers and 10 for lords without getting into huge numbers, but if you have 20 people or so, you can mix them up and double (or triple) them up so there -are- 10 people tooting on lords and 8 different people on maids. And the same one person is always the solo “toot” for “a partridge in a pear tree” (though really, one person should be partridge and another pear tree).

        4. Elizabeth West*

          I think those are fabulous ideas. Especially the gift card swap–I hate those things because I always try to bring something decent and I end up with something stupid. We used to do potlucks at Exjob all the time and everybody loved them.

        5. TootsNYC*

          a $10 gift-card swap seems odd–why don’t we all just keep our $10?

          I might say, a $5 limit, and either a Yankee swap or a name draw. Sometimes it’s really fun to see what people can do w/ $5.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I once organized a company-wide cookie swap. emphasizing that you could buy your cookies or bring potato chips. And that if you didn’t want to bake, there would probably still be cookies enough for you to eat. (There were–our company lawyer brought in three or four different kinds and ended up walking around the whole company giving them to people.)
        The idea was you were supposed to walk through the company to see and eat cookies, and say hello to people in other departments as you did (it was the afternoon on one particular day, and we all just worked through; overall productivity was lessened, but any important things definitely got done).

        It was a lot of fun for most people. Some people ignored it completely, and maybe they thought it was annoying (I didn’t really care–this was H.R. sanctioned, so I considered it like any of the other company parties we had, in terms of “do we have the right to create a distraction?”), but others really got into it. And the impression I had was that the people who really got into bringing cookies really didn’t care if non-cookie bringers ate cookies, as long as they said “thank you” and “Merry Christmas/whatever.”

        The guy who brought the Double-Stuff Oreos was very popular. And someone else brought pretzels, and they went over well.

    1. SL #2*

      We’re starting to plan our after-hours holiday dinner, but it all goes on the company card… your version sounds terrible. Hopefully your manager listens to your suggestions!

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      GAWD I hope you win this one. “Pay for it yourself” enforced socializing is the f’ing WORST.

      1. april ludgate*

        Fortunately it’s not enforced, there wouldn’t be any repercussions for not going, but it would be so much nicer to have something that didn’t require extra travelling outside of work and having to buy your own meal.

        1. Jules the First*

          My last office used to go ice skating together – the office coughed up skate rental (cheaper than dinner), and the rink sold mulled wine and cider. Very low-key, but lots of fun.

  3. CrazyCatLady*

    I posted in the open thread last week saying this:

    “I’m at my wits end with my current job and I think a job offer is probably coming soon … but there were a few yellow flags in the interview. I’m scared that my mental state about my current job will make me jump from frying pan to fire. How do you stay calm and collected and rational and make logical decisions instead of emotional ones while job searching?”

    and I wanted to give an update! I did receive the job offer and ultimately ended up turning it down. As excited as I was about the company and the position, there were way too many red flags and I was able to talk to someone who used to work there who gave me some insight … so I turned it down! It was SO hard because I desperately want to get out of my current job, but I did it!

    1. Rat Racer*

      Congrats! I’m sure your future self will thank you! Curious: what were the red flags? Can you say without revealing too much about the company?

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Sure. You can let me know if you think they’re red flags too. But when he initially asked me about salary, he asked if money is the most important thing. Okay, fine, see what motivates me. But it was followed with “I mean, you don’t have kids, right?” That really rubbed me the wrong way. There was high turnover (5 people in 4 years) and they didn’t have a lot of insight as to why, or what type of person would be good in the position. They did say one person didn’t work out because “she had a young kid” and wasn’t able to put in the hours it required. So there was a lot of anti-kid sentiment that I got (I don’t have kids nor do I plan to, but kind of irrelevant).

        Then during the interview, he answered every single phone call he got, which I just felt was rude – even from external phone numbers he didn’t know. And ugh, nearly everything he said just rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t quite put my finger on why necessarily, though.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. Good call on that one. You will be glad you did this because you will find a good work place soon.

        2. SirTechSpec*

          I think any of those would probably be enough for me to say no! I did a “one- to two-year internship” once where I eventually found out only one person out of five lasted a full year… and it quickly became clear why. I was proud of myself for surviving four months.

          1. overeducated and underemployed*

            How is that not a job?! Why don’t they just call it a term position or something?

        3. Bowserkitty*

          Yikes, sounds like you made the right decision.

          As somebody who has been in the “I hate my job and need out” situation, I sympathize with how hard it is to turn down any job offer…but in the end you have to put yourself first. The right one will come along! :)

          1. TootsNYC*

            yeah, an old job that you hate is better than a new job that you hate. Or even a new-ish job that you hate.

            Your job search has gained momentum; you won’t lose that momentum.

        4. Future Analyst*

          Definitely good that you did not accept. There are always exceptions, but unless it’s a true emergency, I think it’s incredibly rude to answer the phone during the interview, especially if it’s not a 4 hour long affair. And yes, highlighting that you don’t have a kid and therefore would work out fine implies that he expects you to be available at all hours of the day. Something else will work out!!

        5. Shannon*

          I’d run away screaming. Asking whether or not you have children may be discriminatory? It’s certainty not in good taste. Neither is saying that someone didn’t work out because they had kids. At least be classy enough to say that she left to spend more time with family, peruse other opportunities, or talk about how the job requires flexible hours.

          But, if they don’t even know what kind of person would be good in the position, it doesn’t sound like they even know what they’re hiring for. Except maybe a scapegoat.

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            Oh gosh, yeah, and he made some pretty detailed, rude comments about why he fired other people that I found offensive. Also offensive comments about low-wage workers. I’m not sure if asking about children is discriminatory in and of itself, but possibly if it could be proven that they made a hiring decision based on that info.

            And yes! A scapegoat – that’s exactly what I thought.

        6. College Career Counselor*

          Sounds to me like you avoided working for an old school sexist of the “you should be happy just to HAVE a job” variety. Well done.

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            Thank you! And they did make a similar comment to what you just said, when talking about money. That they want someone who is excited about the opportunity to work here, not just money. And yes, I’m excited about the opportunity, but I’m not volunteering and you’re not Google.

    2. Mirilla*

      Oh good move not taking that. As another “This place is eating me alive and I need a new job” job searcher, you made the right decision. We may have a tendency to ignore red flags because we just want to move on and get out of where we are, but you’re being smart.

  4. Rat Racer*

    Hi – does anyone have advice on how to coach a colleague (more junior than me but not my direct report) to use email rather than instant messaging for non-urgent matters? It’s not like she’s doing it every day, but whenever she does contact me, it’s by IM, without any regard to whether my status says I’m in a meeting, and it’s super-annoying.

    This colleague is also very sensitive and can get prickly. Should that make any difference on what I say or whether I say anything to her?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If you’ve already addressed it directly (i.e., had an explicit conversation “Hey, when it’s not urgent, please email instead of IM’ing me.”), I would follow up with a more Pavlovian approach (some might call it passive-aggressive, but if you’ve already had a direct conversation, I don’t think it is).

      When she IMs, check it. If it’s urgent, IM back or follow up immediately. If it’s not urgent, wait until you’re out of the meeting and then respond via email… or don’t respond at all.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You have two options:

      1. Train her by redirecting her each time she does it: “Would you actually put this in an email to me? I won’t have time to look at it until a bit later and don’t want to forget about it.” (Or even leave off that last sentence entirely.)

      2. Just tell her: “Hey, I tend to prefer email instead of IM until something is truly urgent. Would you stick this kind of thing in email? Thanks!”

      Those are both perfectly reasonable things to say. If she gets prickly, that’s on her.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Amazing how well that works – I just sent an email saying “By the way, in the future, it’s better to email me for non-urgent stuff like this. If I get pinged (esp during a meeting) I assume it’s an emergency.” And she totally responded graciously. Catastrophe avoided! I should give people (even prickly people) more credit for being adults…

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Oh lucky you! I have a coworker I’ve made this request of repeatedly and she just refuses to stop or learn. Worse, she’s in the (thin walled) office next to me and I sometimes hear her on the phone with someone saying “well she’s not answering my instant msg hmm”.
          Darn straight I’m not I’m trying to teach you a lesson. Grrr.

        2. Tomato Frog*

          Yay instant update! Your phrasing is great — it gives reasons without over-explaining or implying that you’ve been greatly inconvenienced by this.

        3. Afiendishthingy*

          “I should give people (even prickly people) more credit for being adults…”
          Love this. I gotta make a list of reminders/lessons like this I’ve gotten here and elsewhere.

      2. LBK*

        Yep, I will second this method – it doesn’t happen as much with IM, but I redirect a lot of in-person questions to email with the “Can you shoot me an email about this? I’m right in the middle of something and I know I will completely forget as soon as you leave” line.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I agree–especially with the request to, right at the moment, copy it into an email.

        Is IM hard to scroll back through to find those details? If so, use that to your advantage.

        But also the “Oh, I thought this was an emergency. Unless it’s really urgent, like you need an answer rightthisminute, please put it in an email. I promise I won’t let it slip through.”

        She may like the immediacy of IM, or fear that emails will get lost.

        Your other path should be to never respond quickly to her IMs if they’re not emergencies. Basically, never give her positive reinforcement when she IMs you. And always make a point to be really quick w/ emails, even if it’s just that you email her to say, “I’m rounding this up for you! answers w/ details in a few.”

        Basic behavior modification. She gets results from email, but she doesn’t from IMs.

        I would say, even if your IM response would be, “Pls put this in an email,” you shouldn’t even respond with THAT right away. Send that response 20 minutes later.

        1. Kas*

          “Is IM hard to scroll back through to find those details? If so, use that to your advantage.”

          Even if it’s easy to scroll back, you still have to remember to do so. If there are a lot of other messages, it might also be hard to find the one your colleague sent you.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Do you ever present or use screen share in meetings? Warning her that you can’t have IMs popping up randomly on your screen might help her refrain, at least some times.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Usually I set my setting to “Do not disturb” if I’m screen sharing. If I’m just on a regular conference call, I just have my setting at “busy.” That way someone can ping me if something urgent comes up, or if I need to converse silently with another call participant in the background.

    4. Wanna-Alp*

      If it were me, I’d frame it as a request, like “Hi, I have a request to ask of you. You’ve IM-ed me a few times, and unfortunately sometimes it ends up interrupting a meeting I’m in or distracts me from my work when I’m trying to get something done. If your request is non-urgent, please could you possibly email with it instead? That would really help me a lot, thanks so much!!”

      That’s slightly flowery, but hopefully should assuage any prickles since it’s phrased that she’d be helping you by doing that, rather than it being a criticsm of her.

    5. themmases*

      I think you just need to be direct and not reward it. If you get an IM from her about something that should really be in an email, just respond with a request to email you the question. You can soften it by saying you’re busy or that will help you look at it later or something, but IMO you don’t really need to. Most people will pick up that you don’t want IMs and only do it when it’s really the best way after that.

      If she IMs you at inappropriate times when your status says you’re busy, I think it’s fine to either not respond or just respond with “in a meeting”. Part of anyone’s job is to figure out what to do next.

      Not that it should matter that this person is prickly– she should get over it– but most people would take the hint from that and wouldn’t need to be spoken to in person. If she does, “Could you please email me unless it’s urgent” is the way to go.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Not being contrary, but trying to help: why is this a problem?

      I mean, does she pester you and get snippy if you don’t reply in 10-20 seconds? If so, it’s not so much the program she’s using as it is her sense of urgency, and so I’d suggest addressing that, otherwise it could crop up in emails or voicemails.

      If you just don’t like the IM program, is there a way to appear invisible? Would your boss/coworkers have an issue if you were in do-not-disturb much or all of the day?

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Not the OP, but the problem for me when someone IM’s me when I’m in the middle of, say, a spreadsheet, is that the IM program hijacks what I’m working on. As in, I will be typing numbers into a spreadsheet, and if I don’t notice someone has IMed me, I’ll end up typing my string of numbers into the IM client and sending it to them as a response when I next hit “enter”. And then, of course, I have to figure out where I left off before I got hijacked.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          That sounds horrible. I’m glad I’ve never worked at a place that requires workers to use IM.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Well, other than just a quick, “Can I stop by and get such-and-such document from you real quick”, we mostly just use it when we want to say something gossipy without anyone hearing or to make lunch plans. So it hasn’t been a huge problem, just a minor PITA when the IM coincides with Excel work.

        2. Ops Analyst*

          Depending upon what messenger client you are using, there is usually an option to force it to stay in the background. When you get an IM it will highlight the taskbar but not pop the IM open so you can finish what you are in the middle of working on.

        3. Bea W*

          UGH! I hate it when programs do that.

          Is there anyway to change the settings so it doesn’t behave so obnoxiously? I’m wondering if you can set it to just play a sound or make the icon flash or something instead of popping up on your screen.

      2. Rat Racer*

        Actually, you’re right, I could totally ignore IMs and not respond. The problem is my pavlovian response to IM: my brain is wired to think that IM = URGENT! and if I’m in a meeting or otherwise trying to focus, it’s a distraction and I lose my train of thought.

        It is totally fine to interrupt me if you are A) my boss B) have something urgent and you need an immediate response, C) collaborating with me on a project and have a quick question, or D) you need to connect by phone and want to know if I’m available on the fly. But please do not email me about something non-urgent and then IM me to say “Hey- just sent you an email,” to make sure I saw it.

        I’m totally fine conceding that this is a matter of personal preference – other people, other roles, other personality types: may not be a big deal.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          I totally get it. I’m one of those people who cannot have a red circle with a number in it on my inbox. Drives me bananas. So if someone is IMing me, it is very hard to ignore.

          Can you turn off the program or set yourself to invisible/do not disturb while in meetings? That is probably way easier than trying to train someone to communicate with you in your preferred way (and once they figure out they can’t always get a response from you on IM, maybe they’ll email!).

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yep, you definitely have a point. I was probing because at my company we IM a lot when we would often pop our head in someone’s office to ask them a quick question — specifically, we’re in the middle of a task and we need very simple input in order to proceed, so it’s a quick “yes/no/42” kind of question. We do get up and walk around, too, but today I’m IMing a lot with a coworker who is working from home, about stuff that requires too much back-and-forth for email to be worth it. But I work very closely with this person anyway, so we often need to touch base many times a day.

        3. Anonymous Educator*

          My pavlovian suggestion was not meant to immediately make things better. In the short-term, it wouldn’t change much at all. The idea is that she would eventually see “Oh, if I want a response to non-urgent stuff, I’ll have to email instead of IM.”

    7. Windchime*

      I’m really lucky that we are not an IM-heavy office. We do have a team member who works remotely most of the time, so we do IM more with him (because he’s not sitting next to us in the office). We also tend to IM more when we are all working remotely on a certain day of the week. But otherwise, it’s email.

      I would probably attempt to train someone who is mis-using IM by asking them nicely (as Rat Racer did) to start using email, and then by responding very slowly (if at all) in the future when they interrupt via IM.

  5. bassclefchick*

    Well, it has not been my week. I did not get the job with the City I interviewed for last week. I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I’ve been getting interviews, but no offers. So, my resume and cover letters must be doing their job, I just need to improve my interviewing skills. Or, the market is just really still that bad and I’m not doing anything “wrong”, I just don’t have very good career luck. Sigh.

    And, in other news. There was a permanent opening in the department where I’m currently temping. I applied. Did I get it? No. Why? Because someone internal wanted it and they had to give it to them. Which is great if you’re already an employee. From my side of the fence? Not so great.

    Oh, well. Guess I just have to move on and keep looking. Thanks for all the kind words.

    1. Virginian*

      I’m having the same frustrations with getting interviews, but no offer. Hopefully, something will work out for you.

      1. De Minimis*

        I did a lot of municipal and county government interviews when I was job searching, they really can be tough. You probably aren’t doing anything wrong, especially if you are getting interviews. My only advice is to keep pushing and applying in the hopes that you will always have an upcoming interview. I know for me the only times I really started getting down was when things were slow and I didn’t have any interviews on the horizon.

      2. bassclefchick*

        I’m so glad it’s not just me! This market still really stinks. Hope something works out for you as well.

    2. Audiophile*

      I feel you, on getting interviews but no offers. I get first and second rounds but no offers. I mostly apply to jobs in my field that my degree is in (communications) but sometimes I lapse into admin jobs as well.
      I got rejected for a job this week too, and I thought I had hit it off with the managers. But I also know that the second person wasn’t keen on me.

  6. ny,ny*

    Last week I interviewed with another department at my company for a position doing similar projects but at a higher level. If hired, I’d be responsible for managing one FT employee, instead of interns and temp project staff as I do now. I felt I was “grilled” a bit as they asked me repeatedly about my young age being a challenge. Part of me thinks asking about this is fair, because I am young, I’m 25. But another part of me was rubbed the wrong way. Why did they interview me if they thought this was an issue? I work with this department closely in my current role, so it wasn’t a surprise. And why did they harp on it repeatedly?

    My question for you all is, is this a red flag in regard to the department culture? (They are all much older than me). Or is this something I’m just going to have to suck up until I outgrow my baby face? Maybe it was just a case of interviewing with people you know just being a tougher interview than with strangers. I left feeling like the interview went extremely well, but it left a funny taste in my mouth. Thoughts?

    1. squids*

      I was once grilled pretty aggressively about not being bilingual, for a job that didn’t require it. I got the job. Maybe it’s a good sign, that they’re happy with your skills and experience and looking for something to be more critical about? Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Does your company ordinarily have questions about people’s age?

      Personally, I would take it as they are telling me that there are one or two people with bulldozer personalities and they will expect me to handle that bulldozing on a daily basis. It could be that they cannot handle the Bulldozer themselves so they are wondering how you will manage.

      1. TootsNYC*

        This could be a good point.
        In an interview once, the people interviewing me asked how I’d do working with difficult personalities, or with a lot of profanity. They mentioned it repeatedly. It became clear that there was one person who was abrasive and swore a lot. So -they- saw it as something that might make a candidate unhappy once they got there.

        It was more about them and their predictions and expectations about their own workforce, and less about me.

    3. LQ*

      Maybe the idea was if you couldn’t handle someone asking you questions about it in the interview well you wouldn’t be able to handle someone questioning you in the job well. (And vice-versa – if you did well then you’d do well in the job.)
      Maybe the FT person you’d be managing doesn’t respond well to a younger manager and so they already know it will be a problem on your end.
      Maybe it’s the only thing they could possibly imagine being concerned about.

      Also? I feel like internal interviews are less likely to throw someone out arbitrarily for something like age. So they may have concerns and you wouldn’t have gotten the interview if you had been an external hire.

      You already work with these people, I’d say you know better than anyone if this is a red flag. How do they treat you and your opinions and advice when you are working with them? How other things doe they do? You have all the information.

    4. Beancounter in Texas*

      Maybe their concern about your age is more about your experience, particularly managing people who are older than you.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Why did they interview me if they thought this was an issue?

      Because they thought it was an issue that you might have an answer for. Because their minds aren’t made up.

      And they harped on it because it’s the only negative they’ve got, so they didn’t have much else to talk about. They know your skill level, and how you communicate, etc., and those are all positive. The only unknown could be a biggish negative: How will you be as a manager? And, as a newbie manager whose work experience isn’t that long (so your opportunities to observe good and bad managers isn’t very deep)?

      Or perhaps they didn’t hear from you the kind of confidents or focus that made them think that you’d be able to handle that issue, and they kept revisiting it because they really -wanted- to hear those sorts of things from you.

      Or maybe they’re obsessive types who can’t move on from a topic once they’re on it (esp. if that topic has any anxiety attached to it).

      I’d argue that it’s a good thing for them to bring this right out in the open for you to address.
      And at 25, and with this being a move up to management (i.e., you’re not that experienced as a manager), this is a question or qualm you could predict. It’s the sort of thing that your interview prep could help you figure out how to address. Maybe even proactively, before they brought it up.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, all this. It sounds like a mini-stress test to see how OP would hold up. OP, it sounds like you may have done okay…. but I can’t really tell for sure. Fingers crossed for you.

  7. Virginian*

    Any tips on how to put a job interview out of my mind? I had an interview last Friday; I think I did well and I was told I’d hear back by the end of this week. It doesn’t appear that my references have been contacted so I’m beginning to suspect that I didn’t get it after all. :(

      1. Kelly L.*

        Well, I think it’s less likely that you’re out of the running as it is that they just haven’t gotten to that point yet. The wheels of government turn slowly! They were probably too optimistic in their timeline.

        That said, the best thing to do is probably keep applying for other stuff to take your mind off it.

        1. Future Analyst*

          Yes to all this. When I was job hunting, I made sure to apply to another job by the time I was supposed to hear back, so that I didn’t feel so deflated when their given deadline came and went. When I got a govt job, I didn’t hear back until two and a half weeks after their initial estimate of when I would hear back. (Should have been a red flag in my case, but that’s neither here nor there.)

      2. LQ*

        Take however long they said and multiple it by 4. Then double that.

        They don’t all take that long, but lots of them do.

        I also feel like I’ve always gotten a notification after interviewing with a government entity when I was rejected. Which I appreciate.

      3. nani1978*

        You’ve just answered your own question – government jobs take a while. Having been rejected from many of them, I am not sure if the wheels turn faster once you’ve been interviewed (congrats! I have never made it to the interview portion!), but the commonality in the rejection emails is that they arrive after 5 p.m. EST on Fridays. So I hope you don’t hear back today :) and instead find good news in your email one morning next week!

      4. BRR*

        It’s government, quadruple anything they tell you for a timeline, then double it, then ignore it because it will take longer.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          +1 Good advice for when are actually working there too! Not in the US but I’m sure there are similarities.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Kind of in line with today’s AAM short answers post, but I have never heard from any of my references if they were ever contacted when I was interviewing. Just try to keep busy! It helped me to continue applying for jobs while I was waiting.

      Additionally….even if they said they’d tell you by the end of this week, you know it could be two weeks from now. When I was waiting to hear back on an interview I mentioned having not heard back to the woman who referred me to the job (she used to work in the department for 10+ years) and she told me the hiring manager had to take vacation suddenly (use it or lose it hours), and that HR tends to be slow. I did end up getting the job. (^^)

      Cross your fingers and try to stay busy! :) Good luck!!

    2. LBK*

      I think assuming you didn’t get the job is actually the best way to go about this. Sure, the disappointment stings, but then you’ll have already prepared yourself to be disappointed if it turns out you really didn’t get it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if it turns out you did.

    3. CMT*

      Hiring *always* takes longer than they say it will. Give it a few more days, or even another week, before you start to worry.

    4. EmilyG*

      I asked this same thing a few months ago and probably the best response was to picture the Sesame Street Yip Yip monsters saying “nope nope nope” every time I started to think about it. It was a funny rather than anxiety-producing way to redirect my thoughts until I did get the job offer. :) Good luck!

  8. themmases*

    I have a research CV question.

    Often the name of the center you worked at as a researcher is only a little informative and what’s even more important is the project name/PI. The way I have mine now, each work experience is headed by the institution/company and the first bullet point will be a general one that gives an idea of what the project was. E.g. “Assisted with data collection and analysis for The Spinach Project, a cohort study of the effect of regular spinach intake on muscle growth.” Subsequent bullet points will give more details about a specific skill I used or something I accomplished.

    Would you keep doing it this way? Maybe add the project name and PI to a sub-header with the institution? Something else? An added wrinkle is that for some of my jobs I managed multiple projects, so it wouldn’t be practical for me to list them all and I just give the employer and a topic area.

    Thank you!

    1. Not Karen*

      Yes, I would keep doing it this way. I think that’s best at representing your accomplishments. Also, where I’ve worked, the project names themselves can be pretty meaningless unless you’re part of them.

    2. oldfashionedlovesong*

      The way you’re doing it now is how I’m doing it as well. I think that’s the best approach so you don’t take up valuable space with specific names that may be unknown to people where you’re applying. Although there have been times when I’ve applied for jobs at institutions where I’ve previously worked, and on those resumes I might occasionally include the project/PI name when I feel very confident that readers of my materials will (a) know of those names and (b) be positively influenced by them.

      1. themmases*

        Yeah, some of these have prestigious funders or something which is why I started doing it. Other than that I really just want people to know what topic areas I have experience in within a pretty broad field (epidemiology). Then if a project is important enough to make it into a written research statement, I make sure to put the name/PI in there.

        I’m glad others are doing something similar!

          1. themmases*

            Hi fellow epi! Thank you for the well wishes, I am obsessively revising and re-formatting for PhD applications so it is very appreciated. :)

    3. Anonsie*

      In the line indicating where I worked I go: Organization, department/institute, PI. If I had multiple PIs in that department I put them in the line about their project.

      I’m not sure if that’s the BEST way but I don’t want to leave them out or add too many lines.

    4. TL -*

      I do X Lab, Y department, Z institute as my header and then a description of the project on the first bullet point. It gets a little long, though.

    5. Student*

      I disagree pretty strongly.

      As a researcher, you want to show off your technical skills. You do not, under any circumstances, want to bring up project names for internal projects. They might be well-known within your company, but they are almost always gobbledygook to everyone else. You must avoid acronyms and internal company jargon and stick to using broadly-recognized technical terms. You don’t want to throw around the PI name, for sure – that’s just going to look like name-dropping. If the PI name comes up anywhere, it belongs on your reference list. It’ll also show up more naturally in your list of publications. The only places you list your PI is when you list your thesis adviser or research adviser as a student, because that is a very unique one-on-one apprentice relationship, very different than a PI.

      List the company and your position. Then break this into bullet points that show off the relevant technical skills you employed. *Coordinated data collection for a cohort study of 999 subjects. *Analyzed data for correlations between spinach intake and muscle growth. *Performed X statistical analysis on data set. *Presented results of the study at X conference and published in Y journal.

      Watch out for weakening words like “assisted”. Either you did analysis, or you didn’t. Use that kind of word sparingly, and only when you need to convey that you did a very small portion of a project. Leaving it off, and any tasks it would legitimately apply to, is a good strategy once you have a strong CV.

      1. Student*

        Forgot to add – if you want to describe a research project so that it’s clear how it ties into the job you’re applying for, do it in a cover letter. “I did research on the impact of spinach on muscle growth in oldjob. I am enthusiastic about this kind of research, so I was excited to see an opportunity to continue similar work with your company’s studies on the impact of carrots on eyesight. “

      2. themmases*

        OK, I don’t understand where some of your comment is coming from, particularly the tone. I’m talking about the difference between saying a huge organization like “Health Research Institute” or “State University” was my employer and adding a study name that makes it clear what the domain area even is when my employment was on one specific project. The names I’m talking about are not internal jargon or acronyms, they’re the same names that would be on materials for funders or the public, and the example I gave spelled out a topic area and description. My question is about formatting.

        Frankly, your reminder that “you either did analysis, or you didn’t” is rude. I think it’s pretty obvious that the example was made up.

        1. Anonsie*

          I honestly have never been able to tell if Student is a troll or just, uh, a student, who thinks they know a whole lot but really really don’t. I’d definitely ignore this one.

      3. overeducated and underemployed*

        I would say this depends on the field and the jobs you’re applying for. If it’s in the academic sector, and you’ve been working as, say, a postdoc or research associate in a university-affiliated research center, the PI name does belong, and the project name may as well, as a matter of convention/attribution/recognition. People would have questions if you excluded them. If it’s elsewhere, the norms can differ (I know nothing about, say, hospital-based or industrial research), and they may be really inappropriate in those sectors – but I don’t think you want to say NEVER EVER include these things.

    6. Ultraviolet*

      Am I understanding correctly that this CV will be part of a PhD program application? I’m basing my comment on that assumption–sorry if it’s off-base!

      In my field (a physical science), it would make sense to specify each work experience item as PI, Department or Institute, University or Company. As you say, PI name is the typical way to identify a group, so this is just the clearest way to tell the CV reader where you worked. So I think I’d divide up your research experience like this (wish me luck with the html):

      Alison Green Lab, Department of Teapots, University of Wherever

      The Spinach Project (a cohort study of the effect of regular spinach intake on muscle growth)
      -Created and characterized spinach leaves designed to X
      -Measured quantities Y and Z in test subjects
      -Analyzed data by method Q

      The Chocolate Project (a study showing the effect of boiling tea on chocolate teapots)

      Suzanne Lucas Group, Department of Evil HR, XYZ Company

      Project name (project description)

      …and so on. I have seen a fair number of CVs from successful and unsuccessful PhD applicants and tenure-track faculty applicants, so I’m pretty confident applying this advice to my field. I don’t know many (actually, any) epidemiologists, though.

  9. Long-winded anonymous*

    I’ve been at my current job 2.5 years and it’s fine, not perfect but decent enough that I wasn’t looking for a new job. But I heard from some other companies and figured interviewing wouldn’t hurt and now these two opportunities have fallen into my lap – Company A has made me an offer, and I have a final interview with Company B next week.

    Here are my options:
    STAY – I like the people I work with, I’m doing well here and I’m getting good experience. But the salary is low(er that what the other companies can offer) and there is no overtime. They are paying for my exam fees. I had planned on staying here longer, and want to, but it’s hard to say no to a $9k plus raise.
    COMPANY A – Similar work to what I’m doing now, but higher end. Still not 100% what I want to do, but fits the “narrative” of how I’d like my career to progress. They would pay me more PLUS overtime. They will not pay for exam fees and benefits will cost a bit more.
    COMPANY B – This one is a bit of a wild card. The work is totally different from my past experience and doesn’t really fit the narrative, but the company is huge and I would possibly get to work on different project types without job hopping. They also pay more PLUS overtime. This place has a start up feel, so the perks are great and my friends there LOVE IT. They have offices all over the world if I decide to relocate. They will pay for exam fees and benefits will cost a bit more.

    I think I want to stay with my current company, but it seems dumb to turn down SO MUCH MORE MONEY. Has anyone been successful as asking their current job for a counteroffer? Any tips?

    If I don’t stay, I’m leaning towards A, but not super excited about it. What’s more important to you when choosing a new job – company culture or the day to day work? Has anyone else been stuck with this (admittedly GOOD) problem? How did you decide?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Company culture is more important than the day-to-day work to me, because the day-to-day, even if you LOVE it, can be completely soul-sucking if the company culture is awful. Do you think Company A would have a good culture? How important is the narrative of your career progression to you? $9K is a lot, but to me, I tend to evaluate as a percentage increase, rather than a dollar amount – so if you’re making $30K, $39K would be great. If you’re making $90K, $99K wouldn’t be as much of a motivator for me.

    2. Worker Bee (Germany)*

      Asking for a counter offer is a really bad idea. Dont! Better make your case for a raise, if you decide to stay.
      And now to your decision problem:
      If your financials are not a problem and you want to stay, why not stay? Having a good boss and a good atmosphere is so much more worth than money, if you can afford it, why risk it?

      1. TootsNYC*

        I once turned down a new job, and then went and told my boss about it.

        I said, “It’s a weird conversation, because I’m not leaving, and I’m also not asking for a counteroffer. I already said no. I just wanted you to know that I’m staying because you’ve made the workload so much easier, and I wanted to let you know that’s working, and provide positive reinforcement for continuing it. And I wanted you to know I like being here. Even if the other place would have paid more.
        “And I wanted you to know that other companies think you’ve really got an asset in me; I wanted you to recognize that I’m good enough at my job that other people would want to hire me. Even though, of course, I’m not leaving.”

        I got a one-time bonus out of that.
        It hadn’t been my intention; it -was- my intention to have them say, “Oh, we could lose her to someone else–we’d better keep the workload like this so she doesn’t get fed up and leave.”

    3. Kyrielle*

      How much are exam fees? How are the other benefits – not just how much more do they cost, but also is the coverage as good? If you’re going from a really good HMO to a somewhat expensive CDHP, that’s a major difference than if you’re moving between two equivalent PPO plans and just paying slightly more.

      Other benefits? Paid time off, gym, dental, vision, etc.?

      That $9k increase is not as large as it sounds like, when you consider changes in cost (and the exam fees, if you’re planning to take the exams, would be an after-tax expense, I assume – and $9k isn’t $9k after taxes, of course).

      So first there’s that.

      And then it depends on what matters to you. There are people who don’t care if their coworkers are rude, stand-offish, neutral, or best buddies. There are other people for whom working with some personalities (not always the rude ones, ironically!) would be torture. For some people it’s the job, for some it’s the culture. For me it’s a bit of both – culture needs to be within certain margins, beyond that I do have preferences but they’re not requirements, but the job has to be something I’m interested in or willing to do. I don’t mind if it breaks my career narrative a bit (or I wouldn’t be at the company I’m at now!), but it has to be taking me in a direction I’m willing to move in.

      If you’re not super-excited about A, that’s telling you something. Run the numbers, dig in to why you’re not super-excited, and see where it leads you. Remember that if you can get more money elsewhere once, you can probably land it again – unless the “more money” is a deal because the company culture means they have to pay more to make it worth people’s while.

      Also, have you asked (without referencing companies A and B!) whether taking on more responsibility and/or getting a raise would be possible at your current job?

      1. TootsNYC*

        Another thought about “That $9K isn’t $9k”:

        Are you putting money into a company-matched savings plan?
        Have you been there long enough that this is vested? Are you close to vesting?

        Because if you leave, you may be leaving money behind.
        I did once, and I sort of wish I hadn’t. Or at least, I ended up noticing it. It was probably $13,000 in matching contributions that vanished into the ether because I left 1 or 2 years before vesting. (and the thing w/ those contributions–they’d have kept growing, since they were tax-sheltered, so really I lost also all the interest or dividends between then and now, and retirement).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Hold out for something you are super excited about. You are in a good place that affords you that luxury. If you were not in a good place, my advice would be different. But your setting is perfect for being deliberate, being selective and charting your course in the future.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Yes to this. Also, as of today, your only options as Stay and Company A. Company B is not an option until you have an offer.

    5. DatSci*

      I’ve successfully negotiated a counter-offer; but I must warn you. I am incredibly A-typical. Most everyone here will warn you against it for all the reasons AAM mentions when posting on this topic. I would say that to do this successfully you should frame it as leverage in asking your current company for a raise or promotion. I was able to negotiate a $20K raise and promotion by letting my employer know that this is the current market rate and title for the work I was doing. The fact that I had another offer in hand, helped seal the deal within a few hours of that conversation since I had already done the work for them of answering the questions, “what is the market rate for this work” and “will DatSci leave if we say no to this request”. I would recommend that this is likely to work out, only if: a. you do great work, are not easily replaceable with an outside resource (it would cost more to hire a vendor to do your job or find a replacement), and c. you are necessary to the success of your org and/or do work no one else can or wants to do. The next time I find myself in the position of asking for a raise, I plan to do the same thing, find out how much I can command in the market, get an offer as an insurance policy and then discuss the need for an increase with my manager based on what the market rate for my work is at that point. If the difference is significant enough to warrant a move if my employer refuses, I’ll do so.

    6. Beancounter in Texas*

      “If the grass looks greener on the other side, water your own grass.”

      What would make you happier at your current position? Are those elements evident at either option? Do you have the ability to initiate change in your current situation to be happier?

      When I had DreamJob, I loved the job itself. The company culture wasn’t great (tons of gossip and drama), but I could deal because my boss was awesome and my job was awesome. I always look back at that job with rose-colored glasses, ignoring the daily complaining I did to my husband about coworkers. I’d still be there if the owner hadn’t sold the company and my job subsequently outsourced to corporate headquarters.

      Now I’m in a ho-hum job, where I could be complacent and stay, nothing will change, and I could retire from here in about 30 years. The people are awesome. The Boss has a heart of gold, even if it doesn’t show all the time. One coworker is very laid back and funny. They’re honest, good people, who don’t gossip and cause drama. I’m going to miss working with them. But I’m leaving – new job starts after Thanksgiving – because nothing is going to change, or change soon enough. And I’m tired of my ho-hum job not inspiring me to do good work.

    7. Long-winded anonymous*

      To answer a few questions –
      This would be a 16% raise (not accounting for overtime pay). I’m doing fine with my current salary, but extra money would help pay off loans faster, save for a house faster…
      STAY – I’m content/comfortable but don’t love my current job – again, the people are nice, but the work is getting repetitive. There’s also the guilt of leaving shortly before a big deadline.
      COMPANY A – I’m not super excited because it would be similar work to what I’m already doing, and if I take a new job I’d want to stay awhile, so I feel like I’m locking myself into 3-5 more years of the same. The company culture seems fine, but B is known for being great.

      On one hand, it’s super obvious – if the work is the same and I already don’t love it, why not be paid more to not love it? But on the other – I’m getting offers and interviews without really trying, why not put in some effort, and find something I’d be excited for AND pays more?
      WHY IS BEING AND ADULT SO HARD?! (half joking :( )

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        I once took a new job with a 30% raise that worked out to be a 15% raise when you factored in the differences in employee contribution to benefits, length of the commute, and rate of leave accrual. But even if it had been a full 30% raise it wouldn’t have been worth it* thanks to the difference in my day-to-day tasks and the company culture. I took a 10% pay cut again to leave that new job.

        * That is, it wouldn’t have been worth it had it actually been my choice. My previous job, at which I had been very happy and well-benefited although dismally underpaid, was eliminated because of funding cuts – so it was take this bad-fit job for a nominal 30% raise or roll the dice against something else coming along vs. dealing with unemployment. Taking it was the right call at the time, but getting the hell out as soon as possible was also right. For me.

    8. AFT123*

      I tend to be a risk taker – I say try for company B! A good working environment is amazing, and it sounds like it would be according to your friends. Plus who knows, maybe you’ll find a path that you love even more.

    9. Ann Furthermore*

      Take the money aspect out of things, and then consider all the options. I took a job once mostly because it meant a HUGE raise, even though I had a few misgivings about the position. It was one of the worst career mistakes I ever made, and I was out of a job 6 months later.

    10. I'm older than I look*

      I really think company culture is so important. 6 months ago I was in a similar boat – a reorg was happening at my company so I was job hunting to cover my ass in case I was affected. I got an offer – took it to my boss and said hey, I have this offer and it’s GREAT! But I really want to stay but I cannot unless you know I’m in the clear. He took that to HR – called their bluff – and they were able to not only put me in the clear but give me a promotion.
      6 months later I have an acquaintance who ended up taking a job in the same department at the company I almost left for. The department is apparently poorly managed and has low employee morale. I would have been leaving for a ‘safe bet’ but the job itself would have been so not what I wanted.
      I’m not sure that it would have worked to get a counter offer though if the reorg weren’t going on. I think if that hadn’t been another factor I would have lost my manager’s trust by job hunting. Well, TBH I wouldn’t have job hunted if the reorg hadn’t happened….

  10. INTP*

    Pet peeve of the week: When I send a time-sensitive email to ask if I should do X or Y, and the coworker replies “Yes!”

    I think this is now slightly ahead of my peeve about people who can only comprehend and respond to one sentence in an email, no matter how concise you try to make it. (One sentence to provide context and one sentence to ask the question? A bullet point for each question? Nope. The response will react to the first sentence only.)

    1. Dasha*

      Ohh, that is annoying!! I always try not to be snarky (as hard as it is) and say something like, actually, my question was x OR y?

      I so feel your pain.

      1. I'm older than I look*

        I usually reply with a “Yes to which?” – I might be snarkier if it’s a vendor. If I’m your client you should be reading every. single. effing. word. I. write.
        If you’re a colleague it’s annoying but I don’t pay you so I’m nicer about it.

        tl;dr – I’m the ball-busting client from hell ;)

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s super annoying. This may be a bit cheeky, but maybe you can rephrase it as “Would you prefer I do X instead of Y?”

    3. Violetta*

      Hahaha my boss does this to me all the time
      Him: “Please do (incredibly vague instruction on a really important file) ASAP!!”
      Me (Guessing from context): “Do you want me to do X or is Y a better solution?”
      Him: “YES!!!”

        1. Karowen*

          I’ve actually responded to someone higher in the organization (actually my current boss, though he wasn’t at the time) who did this by saying “…really?”

          Not the most professional, but it got a response and I’m still here 7 years later!

      1. NJ Anon*

        I had a boss that did this too. I would respond, “it was a yes or no question!” Fortunately he had a good sense of humor!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha. My boss would always do that, and I’d always respond back, “Yes, A; or Yes, B?” And then, even though he had been actively emailing me until that point, he’d go silent for the rest of the day. Arrgh!

    4. Kyrielle*

      SO annoying. If it helps, I had a former boss who appeared to only read one sentence of an email…but it wasn’t the same sentence. I got responses to the first sentence, the last sentence, some random detail in the middle.

      In spite of putting a summary sentence at the top, or highlighting his name where I asked him a question – he wouldn’t necessarily respond to the question I asked him, but to an unrelated bit of information in the “details” section below.

      So. Frustrating.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Or when they read one key word but not what you’re saying about it.

        Me: “I finished the TPS report. It is attached.” (attachment.docx)

        Boss: “Hey, when you get the chance, could you finish the TPS report and send it to me? Thanks!”

    5. LBK*

      I know not everyone loves the self-deprecating approach, but I find it fairly effective: “Sorry, I should have been more clear – I can either run the report by teapot color or teapot size. Which one are you looking for?”

      Some people will take this at face value and remain oblivious to the fact that they’re the ones not paying attention, but most of the time this will trigger people to reread the email chain and recognize their mistake.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I do that too–but I’m really thinking, “Sorry you can’t read my email that was perfectly clear, for crying out loud.”

        If I really did mess up, then mea culpa.

        1. I'm older than I look*

          That’s my option when I’m dealing with internal people. Vendors get the full snark, colleagues get half-snark that they have to pay attention to realize it was snark.

    6. LQ*

      I’ve gone to just saying, I think we should X, complain if you disagree. Yes says go forth. Downside I have to make all the decisions. Upside I get to make all the decisions!

    7. BRR*

      Something similar happend to me this week.

      Me: “My 10:00 cancelled, would you like to move our meeting to 10:00 or keep it at 11:00?”
      Coworker: *Replies with screenshot of their availability on their calendar*

      1. Student*

        This is your co-worker hinting that they don’t care and don’t want you to bring them these kinds of questions.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I would not “get” that out of a screen shot of their calendar. I would need clear words- “don’t ask me this stuff”. I have no problem with the words, but I hate it when I am supposed to guess what people mean.

      2. Anxa*

        This thread is making my day.

        I have been trying to be less ambiguous and less thorough on questions to prevent this, but it’s still frustrating.

        I’ve decided that for some people, you have to just withhold some information or limit your suggestions if you need an answer you can work with the first time.

    8. Future Analyst*

      You could try adding a voting button to the email. :) Not sure that everyone would actually answer that way, but it would definitely draw attention to the fact that you’ve given him two (or more options), and YES doesn’t cover a full answer.

        1. Future Analyst*

          In Outlook under “Options,” you can click “Use Voting buttons,” and set custom options. When someone opens the email, at the very top it says “Click here to vote.” When the individual submits their vote, you get an email back with their selection as the subject line.

    9. Ops Analyst*

      I find with people who do this often I specifically ask for what I need. “I have three questions for you: 1)…2)…3)… Can you please give me your thoughts on each?”

      1. Ops Analyst*

        IF I specifically ask for what I need, I usually get a better response.

        Sorry, somehow didn’t finish my full thought there.

    10. HKM*

      As I was reading this, someone did this to me!

      Me: Can I make the payment after hours? Also, my username is (x), could you confirm how much I owe?
      Him: Sure you can!


    11. afiendishthingy*

      Yeah I wanted to scream just reading this, so annoying. There is also a higher up in my department who seems to value speed in email responses over including an answer to the question that was asked. So you get an immediate response that’s probably the answer to some question… just not the one you asked.

      Employee: Hi Jane, Wakeen is on vacation next week. Should we wait to submit the TPS reports to him when he gets back, or do you want me to cover that for him?

      Jane, 3 minutes later: Wakeen usually reviews the TPS reports.

      Every. single. time.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      This is after I had left the job but a supervisor, T, sent an IM to his employee slagging of someone they work for, X. X just happened to be talking to the admin when the IM from T came up. Last I heard it was going up the management chain.

              1. Aunt Vixen*

                I always assumed it was to do with slag being the leftovers in a refining operation. When you’ve pulled the metal from the ore, the slag is what’s left. It’s the mining term for “chaff.” So slagging off on someone is exactly trashing them or dumping on them. (Likewise calling someone – almost always a woman, alas – a slag is saying she is trashy, which, as in US English, usually means “promiscuous.”)

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, I’ve only heard it as a sexual deprecation. It’s close to the US “slut,” which at least for a long time stayed pretty much about hygiene and not sex in the UK.

    2. some1*

      When I was in high school I worked at a gas station/convenience store as a cashier. Coworker brought in her baby (because her baby-sitter was arrested for shoplifting) and left in the back room for our 8 hour shift.

    3. Govt Employee*

      During a team meeting around a large table, one member brought a newspaper and held it up high, unfolded, so not only could he read it, he made sure everyone could see him reading it, whenever someone other than himself or one of his cabal was talking. Our boss was afraid of him and never confronted him about it.

      On a different team, one person folded her arms and turned her back away from the team. I was the supervisor and was too shocked to say anything because I was afraid of saying the wrong thing or starting an argument. This person was extremely unhappy and angry all the time and nobody dared cross her. I’d only been there a couple of months, and I left soon after, but I do know that she caused my former boss some grief after I left so I felt vindicated that it wasn’t just me she was disrespectful of.

      1. Buttonhole*

        How old are these people? Ten? If this happens again, I would mention it. This is very disrespectful. Ask the person “is something wrong” or “Is everything all right? You seemed a little tense? If you have a problem, please feel free to raise it directly with me….oh, if nothing is wrong per se, could you please not act like that again, you know, because it gives a, well…a negative impression”. I have learnt to be assertive not aggressive, but don’t let people behave like this. To the person with the newspaper: “So what’s news? Why don’t you read to us what you find so interesting so we can discuss it”.

      1. Violetta*

        I use my company’s services and my account manager is sooooo unprofessional in her emails to me (every other word is spelled wrong, every sentence ends in “…….”, emojis everywhere, etc). I’ve never even met this person so it’s not like we’re just really casual with each other. I always cringe and hope she doesn’t do this to her other customers.

        1. :)*

          WHY do people write emails with “……..” everywhere?
          It makes me thing they’re not sure of what they’re writing!

          And I’m an admin assistant at a construction site with about 15 employees in our trailer, and I always put :) in my emails to them! It’s a super casual work environment though.
          They always laugh though, because I’ll be asking them to do something annoying (but required by them), and end it with “Thanks! :)”

          1. Mander*

            Argh, I haaaate the overuse of ellipses. Do peoples’ thoughts really trail off that much all the time?

          1. Windchime*

            I tend to do this in my posts here! Not sure why; maybe I think it makes me sound more perky! I’ll try to stop!

        1. Violetta*

          My department head sends every email in comic sans, bolded, bright blue! I’m not even a comic sans hater but I do not understand why someone who manages 100+ people would go out of their way to do this…

        2. Nashira*

          In a file, I found a *letter from a lawyer* written in Comic Sans. And coworkers who use it regularly but omg wat.

      2. LBK*

        I…have written emails to customers and vendors with smiley faces in them. But to be fair, they’re usually people I’ve worked with extensively and with whom I have a friendly relationship. I wouldn’t do it to a random client I didn’t know well enough.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I use text smileys (not emoji, though what happens at the other end I don’t know) in established relationships.

          1. Al Lo*

            My brain automatically translates J into a smile, since my email doesn’t recognize the Wingdings smiley. I don’t mind, but then again, I also don’t mind a :) every now and then.

            1. Anxa*

              So THAT’S why I keep getting J’s in my emails from one of my supervisors. I thought maybe they were using a different keyboard system or something (English is their second language).

      3. Ad Girl*

        Along these same lines as well – I have a magazine rep who sends me emails with smiley faces, in comic sans, using about 5 different colors depending on which line and words she is trying to emphasize. It’s awful.

      4. FiveWheels*

        I have a very corporate client who puts smiley faces in emails. I never know if responding in kind makes me seem unprofessional or responding sans smiley makes be seem contemptuous.

        Sometimes I split the difference and use exclamation marks, which makes me seem vaguely hysterical.

      5. nep*

        Awful. Detest these things. Can’t comprehend why colleagues (including some higher-ups) think it’s OK.

    4. Daisy Steiner*

      I’ve seen someone job hunt at work AND print out their CV on the work printer.

      Oh wait, that was me ^_^

      It was a pretty stink job and I had nothing to do.

    5. Very very anon*

      I have to preface that I didn’t see this with my own eyes, but the fallout was enough to prove it happened.
      The HR gal and another employee got into a heated discussion. The employee walked away and the HR gal was so mad that she grabbed the back of the employee’s shirt. It was a button up shirt, and the employee kept walking…and well, the HR gal ripped the shirt off the employee.

    6. some1*

      Oh, one more. The receptionist at a former job called in so much that she was in the hole on sick time and vacation time (separate pots).

      One Friday morning the receptionist’s boss came to my desk asking me to cover because she had called in saying her mom was in a car accident. I agreed. Her mom called about noon, and had no idea her daughter had taken the day off. Turns out she had decided to go out of town with friends and posted all of the pics of Facebook.

      1. Nanc*

        Busted by Mom at work! With Facebookery witnesses! Here’s hoping she learned her lesson and was better at her next job.

        1. some1*

          Weirdly, she didn’t get canned *for that*. A year or so later she got pregnant, and actually showed up to work now that her paycheck was more than just spending money. When she went on maternity leave, her temp was making less and doing a better job so they let her go a few weeks after her return – I went from being furious that they didn’t let her go to feeling bad when they did.

    7. Aussie Teacher*

      Bad coworker:
      -Turned up to supervise a school dance tipsy.
      -Drove home drunk from work after drinking too much at a work event.

      1. Not Myself*

        The group of coworkers that sat around and discussed how it really wasn’t a big deal to drive home drunk and people should stop making them feel bad about it. This conversation was started when I was telling one of them that my car had been rear ended by a drunk driver the night before (thankfully a minor accident).

    8. anonanonanon*

      I had a former coworker insist that because she was pregnant and couldn’t eat certain things, that no one else in our department could eat them either because it wasn’t fair to her. She was BFFs with our manager who was 1000% on board with the idea because it was “team bonding”. I would never bring in food if someone was seriously allergic to it, but having someone tell me I couldn’t drink coffee or eat certain foods because they were pregnant and couldn’t eat them was beyond ridiculous.

      After she returned from maternity leave, she’d spend about two hours each day Skyping with her newborn and cooing at it. I was so glad when I left that department.

      1. Not Myself*

        Ooo! I have another! My husband’s ex-coworker who faked a pregnancy (because there were a lot of other ladies who were pregnant at about the same time), said another employee was the father (they hadn’t in fact, ever slept together, she was just mad at him), and then, when she failed to start showing, faked a miscarriage. She had a falling out with another coworker who was in cahoots the whole time, and the whole thing blew up in her face.

        That may be the worst coworker drama I’ve ever seen.

          1. Not Myself*

            She was fired promptly, and it didn’t reflect well on anyone else involved. They ended up quitting shortly after.

        1. anonanonanon*

          Oh my god, that’s…..ridiculous. How did the office find out it was all faked, or was it just really obvious?

    9. CrazyCatLady*

      One of my coworkers just quit and during her last few weeks, she was painting her nails at her desk. That’s the most recent memory but I’ve seen a LOT of unprofessional stuff. The owner of the company regularly makes racist remarks. A woman at another job would go braless and wear essentially beachwear to work (like bathing suit material but in halter dress form). Job searching at work to the point where you leave your resume on a company printer. The owner of another company flipped out on one of the sales people …. and then bought her a bottle of champagne to “make up for it” … which I thought was very strange if not unprofessional.

    10. xarcady*

      A manager had an office right behind the reception desk.

      One day with the door open, she propped one foot on the opposite knee and proceeded to cut her toe nails. She was wearing a skirt that day, and her underwear was visible.

      She was a very prickly person, so no one, een the top boss, said anything to her.

      1. anonanonanon*

        I’ve known a couple different coworkers who clip their fingernails or toe nails at their desks. It grosses me out so much.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I can see taking a moment to do a quick trim of a fingernail if it just chipped and you’re trying to even out the rough edge to keep it from catching on stuff, or it’s tearing, or something like that. But just trimming them at your desk? Ick.

          1. anonanonanon*

            Oh, yeah, I agree. I tend to keep a nail file on hand just for that reason, but I always wonder why people can’t just go to the bathroom if they need to trim their nails. Is it really necessary to do it at a desk instead??

            1. AnonEMoose*

              I think a lot depends on the specific environment. I’m in a cube, but have the cube to myself. Because of where it is, there’s a reasonable chance there might not be anyone else actually at their desk who can see me.

              Or if they are, they may well be on the phone or otherwise absorbed in something. If that’s the case, I’ll take the quick second to trim the one fingernail and get right back to work rather than go all the way down the hall to the restroom. But if it’s more than just “trim one nail, done,” then I’d probably go to the restroom. If for some reason I had to trim a toenail at work, I’d absolutely do it in the restroom.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Once at Exjob, one of our vendors came in to meet a manager for lunch. He stood in front of my desk, whipped out his nail clippers, and started trimming right there. *clip clip clip clip* Right onto the carpet.

                I said something like, “Bob, could you please not do that? That’s eww and the noise is a bit annoying.” He got kind of mad, but too freaking bad–that was gross! I did NOT get in trouble for saying it, either!

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            Or a hangnail! It drives me crazy when I’ve got a broken nail that’s catching on something. I don’t know if I’d cut it at a desk in front of people, though.

        2. Even worse*

          I recently moved into a new office and found a collection of nail clippings in a drawer. There isn’t enough disinfectant in the world. Well maybe there is and maybe they aren’t technically germy, but I desperately need some brain bleach.

          1. Buttonhole*

            That is disgusting. Better than my first keyboard: so grimey they keys literally had mold-like growth, and crumbs and crisps underneath the keys. I took it home to clean. I refused to work on it.

    11. Kelly L.*

      I’ve told this one before, so the short version: got spectacularly drunk at the holiday party and then never came to work again. (He was physically fine.)

      1. Windchime*

        Oh wow, how have I missed this? That’s a very perplexing story, LOL. Was he just too embarrassed to come back?

    12. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Not a coworker, but I had a college professor who was kind of frumpy in general, which in and of itself is not a big deal, but on one of the last hot days of the term she wore a tank top that was too baggy in the bust and actually sat below her bra (at least she was wearing one?). Occasionally she’d pull the top of the shirt up but for most of class we were just staring at her bra while she tried to get us engaged with poetry.

    13. Rat Racer*

      At previous job, my boss and her admin did not get along, and made no bones about it. My boss had a file going, documenting her admin’s errors and transgressions, preparing to put her on a PIP. The admin broke into my boss’s office to read her personnel files – both her own and those of other admins for comparative purposes, and was caught doing so. That was still insufficient to get her terminated (I don’t know why) but hooo the DRAMA.

      1. some1*

        Talk about not thinking it through – what did she think she was going to do with the info she learned??

        “Boss, I was NOT 15 minutes late coming back from lunch on April 3rd, 2013!”

        “What are you talking about? When did I say you were?”

        “. . . “

        1. Rat Racer*

          Agree – I can’t imagine how she thought that would turn out in her favor. She was a little bit batty, for sure.

    14. katamia*

      Oh, man. My first job out of college was basically nothing but unprofessional behavior, but this one is the most unprofessional-without-being-illegal thing I can think of off the top of my head. A coworker, S, may have been dating/hooking up with the boss’s daughter. One day she called him, he talked to her for a minute, and then he put her on speaker–she’d called the TTY number and was having the TTY person say really outrageous things (lots of swearing, things of a sexual nature, etc.) to S, which S broadcast to me and another one of my coworkers, Z. (She wasn’t angry at S or anything. Apparently this was a favorite prank of hers.)

      Also, apparently an absurdly large number of the employees (not including me or Z, who I’m still sort of friends with) have embezzled from that company at some point. Embezzling is pretty unprofessional, too.

    15. Cambridge Comma*

      A colleague mooned a whole meeting room then left when she was dissatisfied with how the meeting was progressing. She was otherwise a shy older lady who kept to herself.

      1. Seal*

        I have to wonder if that was a spontaneous gesture or if she had been waiting for the right moment do that.

        One has to imagine the meeting did not progress much after that.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          She had, very unusually for her, worn a dress that day so many conjectured that it had been planned.

      2. nani1978*

        I can’t keep the laughter silent! I keep thinking of that scene in Grease where the principal tells the school the FBI has experts in that sort of identification. How frustrated this woman must have been to get to this point!!

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        We need many, many more details. What did other people in the room do? How long did it take for people to recover and return to the meeting topic? Were there any repercussions for her? Did people eagerly anticipate her presence at meetings in the future, or watch her warily, or both?

        1. Seal*

          Personally, I think one of the unwritten rules of meetings is that once the group is mooned, the meeting is over. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to refocus after that.

      4. Treena*

        I had a manager once infamous for mooning a customer (retail setting) and not getting fired. I was told not to mess with her because she was invincible, but for no discernable reason.

    16. Allie*

      All from my first FT office job out of college. This was a small (<20 employees at our location), family-owned business.

      – Owners owned 2 very large poodles that they brought in 3-4 days a week. They would keep the poodles in their office all day and let them out to roam around our offices in the evenings. The dogs would root through our trash cans and at best, strew the contents around the office; at worst they'd eat something and throw it up. We didn't have a cleaning service, so we'd have to clean up the messes they left when we came in the next morning. When people brought this up to the owners, they were told that we just shouldn't throw food away…in our own trash cans…

      – My coworker often fell asleep at her desk quite a few times and got away with it, even though our office had a window facing out into the main hallway, because she could hide behind her very long, wavy hair and her hoodie.

      – Another coworker who used the reception-area printer, during work hours, to print out his receipts for OKCupid payments.

      Soooo glad I left that job…now I'm just at a large corporation where my manager makes a lot of off-color jokes about little people -_-

    17. Nanc*

      City Department head (married) slept with City Manager (also married) at hotel a few blocks from City Hall, charged room to department credit card and when fired for misuse of credit card tried to sue City for emotional distress. Later managed to snag a job on the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee and was chin-deep in that scandal, too.

      1. some1*

        Thought of another one! A prosecutor I used to work for got a hotel room with a woman (he was single, so not sure why, but whatever) and in the morning he was supposed to be in court. He called the judge and straight-out told her that he was going to be late to court because he was hungover and had been having sex all night.

    18. Lily in NYC*

      My sister is the #2 at a large federal agency and has a private bathroom in her office. She was at a work gala (night time) and decided to go pee before she drove home and found two coworkers doing the deed in her bathroom. They actually had the nerve to go make whoopie in their boss’ private bathroom while knowing my sister was somewhere in the building. They were both married and one of them was married to another coworker. My simply went home without saying anything. She didn’t get them in trouble but called them to a meeting to give them a warning and to express her disappointment. She scheduled it for two days later so that they would be nervous and stew over it for a while, which amused me.

    19. Seal*

      My first full-time job many years ago was in an library without air conditioning which has since been remodeled to include a modern HVAC system. Back then, most people wore skirts or shorts to work in the summer because the building was always hot; fortunately, this was during the early 90s so walking shorts for women were in style and no one ever showed up in Daisy Dukes. Women also occasionally wore sleeveless tops, which was generally fine. However, two unprofessional things related to going sleeveless during that time stick out for me. One was a female student employee who was wearing a loose-fitting tank top with armholes that hung down to about her waist…and nothing underneath. I happened to walk by when she was shelving books on a top shelf and got an eyeful. Apparently no one in her department saw this as a problem, because she worked her entire shift like that.

      The second was an evil coworker who regularly stirred up all sorts of drama. I happened to walk by her open cubicle one summer day and saw her combing her very hairy armpit. That’s something you just can’t unsee.

    20. Perse's Mom*

      I’ve seen two co-workers let go for being caught sleeping at their desks.
      Lots of co-workers who spend more time watching stuff on their phone rather than working.

      One of the department supervisors responded to an email chain recently wherein his name was emphasized (large font, bold) during a second attempt to get a question answered. His response included a Ron Burgundy meme.

      1. Karowen*

        I had a coworker argue that he wasn’t actually sleeping, he was thinking. Meanwhile we could hear him snoring during his “thinking” sessions.

    21. Merch*

      I just moved desks last weekend and found not one, but two George Foreman grills on the desk. One of them was covered in pancake batter. This was at 7 am on Monday.

    22. Anonsie*

      Boy is it ever hard to pick one.

      I worked with one woman for a while who seemed wholly incapable of saying anything that WAS professional/appropriate. One example, I came to work bandaged up from an injury I got in an accident. I hadn’t told anyone what happened so people kept coming by and seeing me and being surprised. She heard about it and came over and joked about my boyfriend finally setting me straight. Which is awful enough when you know that’s not what happened but it’s significantly more awful when you don’t know and that might actually be what happened!!

      1. Spice for this*

        Oh! Wow!
        Yes, sounds just like a former manager! He was not capable of saying anything professional/appropriate!

    23. Biff*

      Worked with a guy who was basically a shining example of what a polished turd looks like. (It’s worth it to note that he was a wannabe cop and was volunteering with the force on weekends.)

      The guy was crooked as all get out — he was taking 3 hour lunches to bang his girlfriend (who was the secretary, real creative buddy) while his fiance was at work. Then he and the girlfriend started robbing local houses on their lunch break. Then he started calling out all the time. When he did come in, he was so hungover it was clear he shouldn’t be driving. He usually spent his day playing online poker. The last straw for me was when he was bragging about driving drunk all the time, and using his inside knowledge of where cops were stationed and where traffic cameras were to not get caught doing it. I had to stop interacting with the guy at that point, because I just couldn’t take knowing this stuff anymore. Fortunately, he wasn’t doing a stitch of work, so I could avoid him very effectively.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        omg. I would totally call the police, give all of his contact information and locations of where he drove. I could turn a blind eye to everything, but drunk driving–he could kill someone!

        1. Biff*

          Don’t worry, I made a stink over the drunk driving. I don’t know if it put a stop to it, but he certainly never said anything more.

    24. Rebecca in Dallas*

      When I was a department store manager, I had to ask one of our fine jewelry sales people to please not bring in her Whataburger breakfast and eat it at the jewelry counter while she was on the clock and the store was open. I mean… if you were shopping for jewelry, would you want someone’s greasy croissant sandwich sitting on top of the counter? She then complained to my store manager about me. :/

      My current cube neighbor does the most unprofessional things. Such as shopping online for bras (while talking to her grown daughter on the phone debating the pros/cons of different styles), leaving used tissues all over her desk, has framed pictures all over her desk of her with friends all holding alcoholic drinks), loudly chomping gum all day… I could go on and on.

    25. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Oooh, let me count the things:

      – Fast food restaurant: Co-worker fired for hiding in the walk-in and drinking the ranch dressing for the salad bar with the dressing scoop.

      – Warehouse with a small customer service department attached: New co-worker in training to run the front register ran away from the cash register mid-transaction, hid in the nearby reception booth, and slid the pocket door closed. Co-worker training her opened the pocket door and began trying to pull her out by her arm. He was pulling her arm and saying, “Come on, you can do this!” and she was pulling her arm back in and wailing, “NO, I can’t. It’s too HARD!!”

      – University job: Two separate deans were demoted for sending pictures of their you-know-whats via text messages to women they were hitting on. :-0

      1. anonanonanon*

        I worked at McDonald’s in high school, right around when the McFlurries were becoming super popular. So many people got in trouble for hiding in the walk-in freezer to eat the candy toppings. There was a period where we had to say we were out of Oreos/Reese’s/M&Ms because employees kept eating them all.

        There was also one person who used to just dump the hot fudge sauce for sundaes into a small soft drink cup and eat it throughout the day.

    26. Anooooooon*

      Coworker brought in her 18 year old son and made him sit in her cube while she called patients on the phone and discussed private health info with them.

      This wins out over the one who clips her fingernails every day.

    27. Elizabeth West*

      My boss at Helljob once used my computer to illegally copy DVDs. On company time. When I was trying to work on said computer. “Don’t close this window, LOL!”

    28. Window Seat Anon*

      Back during my interning days I witnessed a supervisor (who was one step down from the head honcho of the department) cry, clench and pump her fists in the air, stamp her feet, and scream at the head honcho. They were in the conference room we called ‘the fish bowl’ because all but one wall were glass and my cube was right there. I couldn’t believe it. Her face got all red and everything; it was like watching a toddler have a meltdown.

    29. Sarasaurus*

      At an old job many years ago, the receptionist took a nap at the front desk. It wasn’t like she wasn’t feeling well or nodded off on accident; she just decided that she wanted to get a nap in on her lunch break. She even put up her little sign directing visitors to dial 1 on the phone if there was nobody at the desk.

    30. A. Thrope*

      At my old company we had some small meeting rooms that were like offices and had PCs in them. I had to use one of these once, but for some reason had some time to myself for a bit and decided to do some snooping on the PC to entertain myself. Basically you could see the internet history of everyone who’d used the PC before if you knew where to look. And I found out that one manager was regularly using that office to look up porn at work. Had I thought about it better, I would have stopped using that keyboard immediately.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Ooh, back at the department store job we had to fire one of our security officers for using Craigslist to set up hook-ups (or maybe he was just looking at them, who knows) in the security office while he was on duty. I didn’t know anything about it beforehand, but got asked to sit in on his firing (this company required that there always be a witness for any terminations/write-ups). Man, there was a whole stack of printouts! I didn’t understand if they were things he had printed out and left on the printer or if they were printouts of screenshots of the pages he was looking at. That was super awkward.

    31. Merry and Bright*

      At OldHorribleWorkplace:

      1. The accountant who used to stand up from his desk and apply his roll-on deodorant in front of everyone.
      2. The office manager used to discuss her bladder infections on the phone – to clients.
      3. Same office manager used to bring in her laundry to wash in the office bathroom.

      How much 2. and 3. were related I dared not think. I started using the alternative bathroom upstairs.

    32. pieces of flair*

      When I started my receptionist job, I found that my predecessor’s “away” voicemail greeting, which anyone calling into the organization would hear if the receptionist was away from her desk during business hours and the phone wasn’t answered, transcribed here in full, was: “I’m in the bathroom.”

      At that same organization, we eventually learned that one of the program directors was using her company credit card for all kinds of personal purchases. It was my job to go through all the receipts and flag any non business related charges. Not only was she using the card to eat at nice restaurants (definitely not something she’d need to do for business reasons), but she wasn’t even leaving decent tips. Like, she would leave $10 on a $110 check! Really lady, why so cheap when you’re not even spending your own money?

      Also at that place, the HR director had a baby. She kept in touch while she was out on leave and even brought the baby in to visit once or twice. A few days before she was due to come back from leave, she came into the building in the middle of the night to get all her things out of her office (we could tell from the swipe card access records), then “ghosted” – never contacted anyone at the company and never responded when people tried to get in touch with her. Several months later, she called the ED to apologize for “leaving suddenly”…and to ask for a reference.

    33. Beancounter in Texas*

      My current boss farts all the time and doesn’t even acknowledge it. He farts when he’s talking, when we’re talking, standing at the copier, walking down the hallway, sitting at his desk… He completely ignores it as though nothing happened and when we pause speaking in disgust, he prompts us, “Go on. Continue speaking.”

      At HellJob, a previous coworker who wasn’t happy unless she was complaining about everything, returned to haunt me in my office. There wasn’t anywhere else to place her, so she had a desk in my office. She also then brought her new buddy, Troublemaker over (as a job transfer). Troublemaker openly disrespected his boss, in front of the entire department regularly, loudly proclaiming that The Owner was his boss and the only person who could tell him what to do.

      After Troublemaker was promoted from hourly to salary with a specific effective date (because he kissed up to the owner), I calculated his paycheck from his timecard and pro-rated salary. Complainer comes screaming into my office, yelling at me that I screwed up Troublemaker’s paycheck. I tell her I cannot discuss his paycheck with her and if he has a problem with it, he needs to speak to me about it, not her. That really made her happy. -_- Troublemaker comes tearing into office, stamping his feet, and yelling that his paycheck is wrong and I withheld too much in federal income taxes. :|

      Troublemaker finally gets called on the carpet by the owner for disrespecting his boss and instructed to listen to his boss. He does it again, receiving three days disciplinary leave. He not only returns a day early, but protests so loudly to the owner that the owner instructs me to pay him for the days he did not work, even over my protests that rewarding him for his behavior would reinforce the problem. I lost all respect for the owner that moment.

    34. Ann Furthermore*

      I supervised a woman once who was completely clueless. She’d been hired by my predecessor because she was willing to work for almost nothing….proving the old adage that you get what you pay for.

      She was unhappily married, and her husband was a trucker and gone all the time. She viewed the workplace as her own personal dating smorgasbord, and spent an inordinate amount of time with male co-workers and colleagues.

      One of my friends walked out the side door of the building one day, to find her making out with a guy from another department. I walked into the ladies’ room once and found her giving herself a full manicure. And, there was a guy on the other end of the building who was obviously having some kind of relationship with her, because on his desk was a cheesy 90’s style boudoir Glamour Shot of her in trashy lingerie.

      I didn’t actually witness this, but many people here have told me the tale of the 2 employees, both married but not to each other, who did the deed in the backseat of his car during lunch one day.

    35. Nother Name*

      I used to work in a call center, but there were some other departments on the same floor. In one department, everyone took the same breaks and lunches. Except for one person, who would sit at her desk at the end of the row (basic desks lined up – no cubes) and sleep, completely sprawled in her chair, with her head lolling over the back. The first time I saw it, I thought she was having a medical emergency and had passed out. But this was a normal occurrence. Completely inappropriate, but I do have a grudging admiration for someone who can sleep right next to a noisy call center under fluorescent lights.

      (I think this was only allowed because it was so clear that *everyone* in the department was on a break. The CSRs had to leave the work area, so it would be clear who was and wasn’t working.)

    36. Retail Gal*

      Hmmmm…there was the supervisor that…

      1) Started dating a gal who worked in the shoe department,
      2) Would go home for his half hour lunch (fine), but would supposedly fall asleep and not return for two hours, leaving other supervisors on the floor, hungry and/or in desperate need of a bathroom break,
      3) Last, but definitely not least, decided he’d close the department store an hour early

      Even after #3, he was still around for awhile. From what I understand, they wanted to gather enough info/trangressions to refuse paying of unemployment. I believe he came back in a few months later, seeing if he could get a job here again.

      The chutzpah of some people…

    37. NicoleK*

      So BEC coworker did the following:

      1. Gleefully announced to fellow managers that she had found the “perfect” replacement for her paid intern. Intern had not given notice, had no idea that her new boss was actively plotting to replace her, and that her boss had already announced her plans to replace her.

      2. Walked late into a meeting with a vendor with a plate of salad. And started eating her salad. No one else was eating because it was not a lunch meeting.

      3. During a lengthy conference call with a potential vendor, she abruptly left without a word and did not return. Vendor was not aware that she had left and continue to address her by name. This went on for 20 minutes. Finally, fellow colleague went and fetched colleague. And BEC is supposed to be the lead on this project.

    38. AnotherFed*

      Here’s some that I have sadly seen in federal employees:

      1) One high grade person would sleep all the time. It was so bad, and so obvious, that tons of people would report it to the secretary as a person passed out and in need of medical attention, and everyone who worked in the same area would “trip”, slam things, need to borrow random office supply, etc. as an excuse to wake him up, because high grades are very hard to get, so nothing pisses people off more than seeing one go to someone so useless.

      2) A project lead took some interns on travel with her. She was a single mom and it was summer, so she brought her elementary school aged child and tried to make the interns take turns babysitting him rather than doing the work they were nominally on travel for. She was actually fired, but for something else – I never did find out what.

      3) One engineer used DRMO to collect surplus weapons. DRMO is the site for DoD gear disposal, and it’s free or a nominal charge for other federal agencies to get the gear being disposed of, so it didn’t cost much, but the gear wasn’t useful. It just became his elephant graveyard of useless metal behind his building – he’d get cannon carriages, airplane bits, and other crap that was too big or heavy to store in anything we had available.

    39. olympiasepiriot*

      I was in the office on a weekend, sent a report to print and discovered there was a jam in the printer when I walked over. Fiddled about, got it un-stuc; while waiting for my report, I saw lots of sheets with photos coming out. Someone had obviously sent them to print, had the jam, didn’t unstick things AND didn’t go back to the printer queue and delete. (We are a firm of engineers, I expect mechanical handiness from everyone here especially as we even have an in-house lab and lots of instruments. Deleting from a printer queue and un-jamming isn’t really all that tricky.) I looked more closely…they were all profiles from a dating site, including a copy of his, that is, my now former colleague who had sent ’em. I *did* learn what his type is.

      I occasionally see him at local conferences. My mind always flashes to that dating profile.

    40. Anon for today*

      This happened at toxic company.
      40 year old coworker (Fergus) was assigned by the manager to train the new employee. Fergus had a short fuse, usually got annoyed/frustrated quickly and would cuss. I know what the manager was thinking assigning Fergus to this task!
      Well, after about 2 to 3 hours of training, Fergus walked over to our cubicles and asked his best friend and coworker (J.R.) to go to lunch. J.R. told Fergus that it will be a few minutes before they can leave for lunch and to just hang on a minute. Fergus then proceeded to angrily jump up and down like a 2 year old and told J.R. that: “no we need to get the FXXK out of here and I can’t stand it anymore, the new employee is a moron. He will never get this!”
      I will never forget that day!

      1. Anon for today*

        Third sentence should say: I don’t know what the manager was thinking assigning Fergus to this task!

    41. oranges & lemons*

      When I worked as a cleaner at a somewhat sketchy motel, my coworkers were known to duel with the marital aids that some of our guests left behind. We also had windex fights from time to time. The manager also decided that one of my core responsibilities should be shooing off any pimps that decided to congregate on the front lawn. I was 15 at the time.

    42. Menacia*

      This is all the same person:
      When asked to provide documentation for his projects, he told the PM to do it (because she was a woman, men don’t create documentation).
      He would fall asleep at his desk regularly
      He would eat right out of (someone else’s) box of cereal
      He would clip his nails all over his desk (and I sat right next to him)
      A coworker left large candy bars on a communal table for all to share, this guy decides to take the candy bars home to his kids. When he was called out by the coworker, he threatened to go to HR
      He was always threatening to go to HR whenever he was called out on anything he did that was disrespectful to others

      He is now a consultant (somewhere else).

  11. Carrie in Scotland*

    More Christmas at the workplace:

    I mentioned in the earlier post today how much my Christmas party is (£45 meal and 80’s theme, £35 to stay – it’s out of the city – or £20 taxi fare home).

    I’m not going due to the cost but another new admin who started just after me wanted to go. Only the place is now fully booked and she can’t go.

    Urgh, this seems like the least inclusive work party ever. So only about 6 or 8 people are going.

    1. Luna*

      Our party is some rubbish meal in a rubbish marquee in the grounds of a hotel. I’m not going because I have a prior engagement but it sounds awful. I hate the Christmas season at work. I sometimes wonder if a comedy jumper contest and being allowed to work when clattered on mulled wine is a terribly British thing or do other countries do it too?

    2. TB*

      Only 6 or 8 people are going, and it’s already fully booked? Sounds like they didn’t expect a big turnout.

  12. Nervous Accountant*

    I have a pretty aggressive recruiter. A while back, he left me a voicemail on my work phone (I do NOT publish my work info anywhere!) and he sent me an email saying he helped former coworkers and I should check them out. I asked one of the former coworkers and she said she was happy at her current job that she got through him, and that a former mgr referred her. So it seems like a legit company.

    I replied saying I was satisfied in my current position but I’d like to stay in contact. That was the end of that except he reached out last weekend. I sent a tongue in cheek reply saying “Would I have to answer emails on a Saturday night?” (he emailed me at 6 PM on a Saturday). He responded in a friendly manner and asked me to text him/call him, and he gave me his contact information again. I didn’t respond.

    Monday afternoon, our CS rep says someone called in asking for me, saying they had a phone call scheduled with me. We couldn’t locate his information in our client database. I asked the CS rep for the client’s phone number, nad lo and behold it’s the recruiter calling in under a fake name.

    I was so taken aback that I have yet to respond.

    Is this how recruiters act? I’m used to pretty much being ignored by them. I’m scared that he may one day call my boss or somehow reach upper management.

    If he’s legit, I don’t want him to pull this shit again but I still want to stay in someone’s good graces (again…used to being ignored by recruiters) should I ever need it. Aka, I don’t want to burn a bridge.

    (A tiny part of me is flattered and thinking “wow I must be really desirable!” and it’s feeding my ego. A bigger part of me is telling me that’s BS and this is just his strategy and smells of PUA strategies here.)

    The thing is, I’m a little hesitant to have a conversation because while I do NOT feel like I’m ready to make a move just yet, the prospect of having something else can be all too tempting.

    1. Applesauced*

      Ugh – yes, it’s how some recruiters work. Think of it this way – they get paid when you take a job they find for you, so they’re doing their damnest to get you a job NOW! It’s annoying and pushy and off-putting.

    2. Meg Murry*

      It might not be a fake name – its could be a different person from the same recruitment firm that all have the same main number. I got into a database at a really annoying recruitment agency and anytime they had something come in that used one of the key words from my industry I would honestly get 4-8 calls in the spread of 24 hours plus some emails, all from different people (they left voicemails, and it was all different names and voices). This was a recruiting firm that had treated me badly and seemed to operate on quotas from the number of calls I got and the number of times they wanted to send me to interviews that would have been a terrible fit.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      I think you need to tell him to step off right now. Tell him you know he called your office, you’re not comfortable with that and as you said, you’re happy in your current job and not looking, so he shouldn’t contact you again.

    1. Dasha*

      I’ve had both a really, really good experience with a recruiter (negotiated an awesome job and salary for me) and a horrible experience (job and pay weren’t what the recruiter advertised, had to do all negotiating through recruiter so I got screwed).

      I’d say trust your instinct. Recruiters often talk jobs up because they want you to take them so they can make money off of you. I had one recruiter basically falsify everything and I had it in an email but it did me no good because the company had hired me temp to perm (long story, let’s just leave it at it was shady) but like I said, I also had a really good experience using one. Use your own judgment and just really think would I take this job if someone weren’t pushing it on me? And if they are difficult to work with, you have no obligation to them!

      1. Dasha*

        Also, I’m assuming this is an outside recruiter? If it is an internal recruiter, it is a different ballgame.

  13. Turn Down Fed Job? - Register Commentor, Anon for this*

    Are you black-balled from future federal jobs if you’ve previously turned one down?

    In 2008, I was referred to a federal job by a current employee and offered the position. I needed to accept and start the position within 2 days, move 90 miles to another state, and quit my private sector job with little notice. It was a very hard decision, and I ultimately declined the role. Is it true that once you decline a federal job, you can never get one again? Are any of you aware of the circumstances that would prohibit future federal employment in this situation?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Never heard of that, and I’m a Federal contractor applying for Federal jobs. Maybe one OPDIV/agency does that, but even that isn’t likely. People turn stuff down all the time.

      Now, if you accepted and then just didn’t show up, sure.

    2. From someone who has declined many federal jobs*

      Definitely NOT true. You may not have success applying to that particular office – if the same people are still there. And if you do apply to the same office, make sure you have a good story as to why you declined initially.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        For any remotely reasonable HM, declining because it would require starting in 2 days, moving out of state, and leaving your current job with no notice is a pretty solid reason to turn down the old offer.

    3. Apollo*

      All federal agencies are the mortal nemesis of every other federal agency. Rest assured, they don’t like talking to each other. They certainly won’t send around blacklists – if they did, there’s a decent change that being on Department A’s blacklist would earn you a job in Department B just for spite.

      I exaggerate, a little.

      1. AnotherFed*

        That’s sadly pretty true. Except it’s not so much by design as by accident, because why would you ever talk to another agency? They can’t know anything useful, or they would have been merged into your own agency already.

    4. Zscore*

      Your question kind of made me laugh… just imagining the Fed sharing floppy disks with names of black balled applicants, cross-referenced in Lotus 123 files…

  14. StuckInARut*

    Hi all! Last week I posted in the open thread about finding ways to break into new industries like communications, education, counselling etc. Before I get to my question, I want to thank those who replied, it’s wonderful to hear other people’s views on topics like this.

    Coincidentally, a couple of days after my post, I received an interview for a communications specialist role! I’m very excited and I know this would be a great step in my career, the pay is more than double, and I would be moving to be closer to my partner. I’m really trying not to screw this one up! I’ll be meeting with three people from the team including a manager and two co-workers and then will have to go through a 30 minute editing test. Does anyone have tips to make sure I don’t make any silly mistakes? I’m in an editorial role now, but much of my work has been administrative and I worry that my editing skills have depleted a little. This is a corporate role if that makes a difference. Thanks in advance!

    1. Gillian*

      As someone who’s had to take many editing/writing tests for jobs, the best way to prepare is to read some of the organization’s materials ahead of time if you can (do they have news articles/publications on their website you can look at) to get a sense of their voice/tone and style. And then just read up on the AP style basics – most companies default to that for things like punctuation.

      1. StuckInARut*

        Thanks for your advice! I’ll definitely take a look at some of their publications/news stories online. I use Chicago style at work so I think I’ll have to make myself an AP cheat sheet to make sure I don’t mix up the styles.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    I have to share a secret here because I can’t anywhere else – one of my contractors got a great government job offer. She was SO stressed and nervous about it and I did some interview prep with her and wrote a nice reference to the hiring manager. She beat out so many people for the job and I’m so proud of her. She’s still negotiating the offer (yay!) so she can’t tell everyone yet, but I’m so happy for her :)

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      ::looks over shoulder:: Are you my boss? I am in your contractor’s exact position– can’t tell anyone yet, but just waaaaaaaiting is haaaaaard!

  16. Mockingjay*

    Due Dates.

    How can anything be scheduled or managed without due dates?

    ASAP is not a date.
    Don’t ask me to set the dates. You are the manager. If you can’t manage your own task schedule and deliverables, maybe we should switch jobs.
    If I ask you for a due date, please give me an answer, not a bunch of snark.
    If it is high priority, let me and my team lead know so we can deconflict and shift things around.
    If it is a task, direct me to do it. Don’t ask me: “Boss needs you to take minutes during the program review [3-day event next week]. Please let me know if you will be available those days for his request.” Well, since you asked…I’m going with the assumption that my participation is optional. I’ll decline, and Intrepid Colleague will get stuck with it.

    I could go on and on. I have never worked in such a dysfunctional office. We have tools, SOPs, management plans, and processes without end. No one uses, reads, or follows them.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If they ask for a date, what about picking one that gives you PLENTY of time, with extra padding to boot, but is still borderline realistic? They have to either accept it or suggest an alternative.

      I’m not saying it’s your place, that’s just one tool I use to handle people like that when it comes up. In general, when given a lack of direction, suggest a direction, so even if they’re noncommittal about it, they can’t (credibly) act surprised.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I’ve been known to do this, generally when I need something as soon as you can do it, and I don’t know how long it takes to do it. Yes, I am the project manager, but I don’t have experience in everyone on my team’s disciplines. I don’t know if it takes 10 days or 2 days to do X.

      Normally, we have a project schedule and I will have talked with qualified leads to set the schedule ahead of time, so I know how much time to give you for a task. The problem is when something comes in the door and it needs to go back out immediately and there is no time for planning.

    3. Govt Employee*

      I have been reprimanded for being the last person to complete something that didn’t have a due date. Apparently everyone else could read the boss’s mind.

    4. OfficePrincess*

      Some of that certainly sounds frustrating, and clearly there’s no excuse for snark as a reply to an honest question, but it sounds like you may be at bitch eating crackers with this workplace.

      I’ve been known to ask for things ASAP. Normally it’s a case of reminding someone to do something that they should have done already so it really does mean as soon as they can possibly get X from point A to point B it needs to be done at the highest possible priority because now we’re about to be screwed since it wasn’t done already.

      “Boss needs you to take minutes during the program review [3-day event next week]. Please let me know if you will be available those days for his request.”

      reads to me to be a pretty solid direction. Boss expects you to do it, but if there is a really good reason why you can’t (prescheduled vacation, you’ll actually be leading a panel, etc) speak up now so other plans can be made.

      1. Mockingjay*

        In the past 2 1/2 years, only one person out of 60 full-time staff on this project has ever given me a due date and ensured that I had the draft well in advance to meet the deadline. The rest of them wait until the day before, or the day of, to give me a 50-page document to write or edit. We have a document SOP (which I authored and which the gov’t approved) outlining the types of deliverables we produce, and the timeline associated with development.

        Example: Kickoff (1 day, meet w/ tech writer to get template, info), draft (5 -1o days, depending on doc type), reviews (internal and external, 3 – 5 days), final (proofing, signatures). And so on.

        It’s thorough and realistic, and is based on the project schedule, which is set a year in advance and is posted on the server for all to view (no excuses for not knowing!). No one will follow it, including my own gov’t team lead (I’m contractor). I’ve set up SharePoint libraries, we have a huge task tracking system – everything a good manager needs to have up-to-the minute status. They won’t use it.

        I got bitched out yesterday because I was given two ASAP projects to complete and I didn’t know which one to complete first. I did ask for due dates; got no answer on doc 1, and snark answer on doc 2. So I picked at random and of course selected the wrong one.

        As for direction on the minutes taking, those of you following the Meeting Minutes Saga know that the Admin Assistant is supposed to be doing these minutes, not me and Intrepid Colleague. (Minutes are the main reason she was hired.) She works for another company on this project team (there’s four companies plus gov’t), so I have no leverage to make her do her job. I have tried to train her (unofficially) and gave her project background info, templates, links to the project databases – anything I could think of to help. But she knows I can’t hold her accountable.

        Yeah, I’m eating a lot of crackers lately. FWIW, the Friday Open Thread is the only place I can vent. I have tried implementing the suggestions you all have given me, and I can’t thank you enough for them. A few have worked somewhat. I can’t talk to anyone else; the gov’t agency we support is the only game in town, so you always run into someone you or your boss knows or have worked with previously. Hopefully I will find something else (diligently applying, but being selective and following AAM advice on resume and cover letter).

        Thanks for listening.

    5. Noah*

      The ASAP thing drives me crazy. So is that within the next 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks? ASAP can mean a lot of things. Once you give me a date I can tell you if that is possible or not and determine how we need to shift work around.

    6. Wilton Businessman*

      What I mean by ASAP may be different than what other people mean by ASAP. I think ASAP means “drop what you are doing and only work on this until you are finished”. Not so with other people.

      When people tell me ASAP, I tell them that I have stuff in the pipeline until next August, they will be the first thing in August. Amazing how things shift when ASAP turns into “by next Monday would be good”. Next Monday is a date that I can deal with.

    7. NicoleK*

      Yes, I can totally relate. BEC coworker would not provide a due date for any projects that I requested her to complete, would not give a timeline, and would not start work on any projects. Boss said that I expected too much from her.

  17. anonanonanon*

    My office is moving to an open office plan and no one’s happy about it (we already had some people quit over it), but the real downside is that executive management is taking away our file cabinets and has issued a memo saying all laptops and personal belongings need to be taken home at the end of each night (so, for instance, I can’t even leave an extra pair of shoes or a coffee cup at my permanent desk anymore, let alone a laptop). When people complained, management said it was for security reasons and that it shouldn’t be that much of a hassle since they drive to and from work with their laptops each day, completing ignoring the fact that we’re a company in the middle of a city and most employees don’t drive to work, but use public transportation or walk/bike.

    I run errands after work or go out to the bar/dinner with friends and I don’t want to have to carry a bulky laptop with me, and running home before I go back out is such a waste of time. One of the perks of our pre-open office environment was being able to lock our laptops in personal file cabinets at the end of each day. I’m really, really not happy about this new rule because it pretty much hinders my post-work routines and means it’s one more bag to carry to and from work. All our new “rules” for the open-office plan are really frustrating (no food, no headphones, no second monitor). I like my job, but I have a feeling this switch is going to make everything miserable. Ugh.

      1. anonanonanon*

        We were told that headphones don’t promote a collaborative environment and instead foster negative employee relationships.

        1. K.*

          Yeah, I’d be out. I hate the open floor plan a lot (if a job listing mentions it, I skip it) and would be much less productive in one if I couldn’t tune out at least some of the activity around me. I wear headphones in cubicle office settings.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me too–I can’t concentrate on editing or database reconciliation with everyone talking. I use music to block them out. This would be a complete deal breaker for me.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          That is ridiculous. The only thing that keeps me sane in my open plan is headphones. Your entire situation would probably make me start looking for a new job. I hate our office plan so much and we have it better than you will because we still have file cabinets and can wear headphones. But it’s loud and annoying and everyone feels the need to use speakerphone and it’s rude.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            People use speakerphone in an open floor plan?! I don’t even use speakerphone in my cubicle.

            My head would explode if this was my office – I couldn’t get anything done.

        3. Natalie*

          I actually can’t figure out anything better to say than Fuck. Everything. About. This.

          I would be looking for a new job.

        4. BRR*

          I work in an open office, people around me foster a negative relationship. And no second monitor?!?! That would cut my productivity. There is a large ROI for a second monitor for my job.

    1. dancer*

      Argh. You can take my second monitor from my cold dead hands. I actually use three monitors if you include the laptop screen.

      1. Faith*

        Yup – three monitors for me as well. If I could add another one without it looking too ridiculous – I would.

      2. Noah*

        I seriously want to have a desk in the dispatcher’s area. They have eight monitors each. I’m not sure what I would spread across that many, but I’m sure I could find something.

        Until then I’ll continue being productive with my three screens.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      No second monitor? Do they realize how much productivity will drop? I guess they really don’t care since they are killing morale as well.
      Good luck in your job search!

      1. anonanonanon*

        Apparently not! People have been complaining a lot about these new rules, so I’m hoping that they’ll get the hint and change their minds. I don’t know what I’d do without my second monitor. It makes me life so much easier.

    3. LCL*

      Someone needs to explain to management that people need space for their personal stuff. If you can’t use the locking filing cabinets, you need some lockers. We are going through something related to this at my job, where the suits all have offices, the field workers have lockers but not enough locker space. The suits don’t get why it is a problem. It is an ongoing fight, I have dragged our facilities group into it, but we haven’t solved it yet either.

    4. JM*

      That is really awful. It’s too bad they can’t install lockers or lockable filing cabinets in a storage room so you don’t have to schlep your stuff back and forth every day. My first thought when I read that people had already quit was, wow, that’s extreme, but as I read the rest of your post, it makes sense. This decision really reflects that management doesn’t care that they are making life much more difficult for employees.

    5. Observer*

      You need to take the laptop you work on in the office home each night, because your employer won’t secure it’s own equipment?! That is just bizarre! Some one should ask them what kind of security they have to protect these laptops from getting stolen on public transport. Oh, and how they plan to make sure that any sensitive information on the laptops is secured, in case something happens. This is an issue even if people drive, by the way.

      It sounds like someone got so hung up on “collaboration” that they forgot about enabling people to actually get their work done!

      1. anonanonanon*

        Yup. They used to just tell us to make sure we locked the laptops in a drawer at our desk, which was fine, but they’re taking away all the cabinets and desks, probably because it costs money.

        They’re very focused on the “collaboration” aspect, which is really just another way of saying they’re moving us to an open office plan because it’s cheaper.

    6. Violetta*

      It’s gonna be like two seconds before someone either gets their laptop stolen or forgets it on public transport

      1. anonanonanon*

        Pretty much. The only plus side I can see is that my current manager is super chill and is going to let us work from home two or three days a week during our slow periods once we move to the open office plan.

    7. Nanc*

      Wait, are these company issued laptops? Because if they are, TPTB better be certain their business insurance covers damage, loss or theft in the employee’s home, etc., because no way am I filing that loss with my homeowner’s insurance.

    8. Sunshine Brite*

      Omg, I have an open plan at the office and primarily based at home. But for those based in the offices, there’s lockers big enough for a bag, coat, shoes, laptop, some files that lock. These new rules suck. No headphones or a snack? WTF, headphones are sometimes the only thing that makes an open plan bearable being able to tune out others. I get super hangry so if I’m really into work sometimes I need a snack to stay even keeled. Your workplace would be my nightmare.

    9. SL #2*

      I used to work in an open office and loved it, but headphones were the norm and so was food… and we were allowed to leave things in the office with the understanding that the company wasn’t going to be held responsible if things went missing. So. Essentially what helped our open office function really nicely is everything that your office is banning. :(

      We did have to take our laptops home at the end of the day, but the company had Macbook Airs as the standard, so an extra 2 pounds of weight didn’t mean much to most of us. And you could leave yours behind with a sticky note on it if you wanted to.

      1. anonanonanon*

        I hate the open office plan in general because I know I won’t handle that environment well, but all the extra rules are making me dread it even more. I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with bringing laptops home if they were Mac Airs, but they’re really out of date Dell laptops that weigh a ton, so it’s a lot of extra weight to lug back and forth.

        1. SL #2*

          Yeah, your situation is basically the total opposite of my old job’s… I hope it works out for you :(

    10. Jen*

      Where are they getting these rules from? We have an open floor plan and we eat at our desks, wear headphones, and leave our laptops. Is there someone else coming in besides employees that they think would steal laptops?

      1. anonanonanon*

        No, it’s a private office and you have to swipe an ID card to even get into the building or onto each floor. I have no idea why they instituted this rule.

    11. Noah*

      Before my current company moved to a new office we had to hotdesk in an open plan office. It sucked, but at least we had lockers to put our stuff in at the end of the day. A bit like high school, but it worked out ok. We were also as paperless as possible so normally the only thing in my locker was my laptop, my pen cup, and my notebook.

      Now that we moved to a new office we actually have enough desks and so we don’t do the hotdesk thing anymore. We still have to lock up or laptops in a desk drawer or take them home though. Our desktops also have to be free of any paper at the end of each night.

      Those rules are crazy though. I don’t wear headphone most of the time, but when I need to zone out the background and focus it is one of the few things that works. Also, no food, I always have a water bottle and sometimes a Diet Coke or Peanut M&Ms. I would actually quit over the second monitor thing. I don’t know how people work with just one screen. I pop my laptop into the dock each morning and love all the space spread across two 24″ monitors and my laptop screen.

      FWIW, give the open plan office a chance. I thought I would hate it, but now I actually see some benefits. It helps that everyone, even the CEO, is part of the open plan here. We also have lots of conference and meeting space and the company culture is to go there if you need to have an extended conversation.

    12. Wilton Businessman*

      NO SECOND MONITOR? How many people are still using two? Three 27″ is the minimum for me.

    13. Bonnie*

      In a previous office I worked in, we were open office but our cubicles only had two walls on in front and one to the side. There were do drawers in the desks, no lockers, no filing cabinets or anything else in each cubicle (the boss was paranoid that we would lock work files at our desks and he wouldn’t be able to get to them. So in addition to have no place to put purses, he didn’t want anything on your desk or in your cube. No pictures, no laptops, no pencils (there were no drawers to put them in to) just a clean desk with an office phone on top at the end of every day. I started a staff revolt shortly after starting work there.

    14. Mirilla*

      Speaking as someone who went from working in a semi-private office to an open office plan, I can tell you that open offices are really, really challenging, even under the best of circumstances. I’m an introvert too so that doesn’t help. The open office concept is really hellish, and with those crazy rules, it’s like WTF. Seriously.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, I can’t see where there is ever a good reason to have an open office other than, “We can cram in a lot more people this way.” I would probably quit if I had to work in this type of an environment, especially if there was no place to keep my things and I had to haul a laptop around with me every day.

        I know a lot of people advocate keeping your work area clean of personal items so that you can pack up and leave (for good) at a moment’s notice, but it would probably take me a good day to pack up my cube. Teabags, cough drops, dishes, pictures, toothbrush,…….I have a lot of personal things at work.

  18. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I seem to have developed a reputation at work for being clumsy, and I’m not sure whether I should do something about it.

    I’m nonprofit program staff, so physical grace doesn’t have anything to do with my job. But it’s worrisome to me that, a couple of days ago, when I went to cut open a package that arrived my boss said “Should I do that? I worry about you sometimes,” in a teasing tone of voice. (I said, mildly, “Oh, geez, I sure hope that isn’t becoming my reputation. I better watch myself!”)

    I definitely AM clumsy, so it’s reasonable that people would notice that (for example, I’ve knocked my magnetic inbox off the outside of my cube so many times that I eventually got rid of it). But I don’t want it to become a thing – Oh no, here comes Victoria, watch out!

    What do you think? Should I care about this? Try to be less clumsy? Actually address it if it comes up again?

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      As a clumsy person myself, I’m all for trying to be less clumsy but sometimes I feel like it’s an ingrained thing that we just don’t have that much control over! I feel like it’s something you may just need to laugh off and push through

    2. Kelly L.*

      I think these things start perpetuating themselves when the teasing makes the clumsy person more nervous and thus more likely to do the clumsy thing again and…

      Anyway, it’s annoying. I have the same rep with my friends and haven’t managed to make it go away. With work, I once had a co-worker who teased me repeatedly about how I was too fragile to handle the sound of our door chimes. (There had been one hour of one day when people were walking in almost continuously, and I muttered something about being annoyed with the chime.) I finally just said, kind of lightly, “I’m never gonna live that down, am I?”, which I think caused her to realize she was saying it more often than she thought she was, and it stopped.

    3. Observer*

      Well, it depends on how much this is a functional issue. If people actually have reason to be nervous when you pick up a scissor, and you need to open packages all the time, for instance, you need to address it. If it’s just something that gets you teased a bit, but doesn’t really intrude on things that you need to do on a regular basis, or on other people I would agree that laughing it off is the way to go.

      If it’s something that bothers you anyway, you may want to see what you can do about it. A few things to think about. One is vision. People don’t realize how even a small decrease in visual acuity can make a HUGE difference in how “clumsy” one is. Tripping, knocking things over, etc. are sometimes directly related to various aspects of visual ability. Hearing is another area to look at – it’s another thing that can seriously mess with your balance and sense of space. Lastly, you might want to talk to an OT.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’m not exactly the most graceful person myself. One job involved working in a large room with quite a few people. I felt conspicuous, at best.
      Like you are saying here, I felt that I should address the problem before it becomes a problem. Here’s what I did:
      I got very safety conscious. Things in walk-ways, things piled too high, glassware, electrical cords, etc, I kept an eye out for potential accidents and corrected the situation. (If it was in my arena to correct it.)
      I made sure that I did not turn to fast or get up from my chair fast, and so on. I tried to be more “in the moment” with my thinking. It’s really easy to be thinking, “I have to do A, B then C and…” never finish the thought because you just walked into a partially opened door. Try to have a raised awareness of your current actions, focus on walking if you are walking. Focus on sitting in a chair properly rather than sitting on a corner of the chair and ignoring the potential for a fall.
      Laugh at yourself when you do something klutzy, IF it is funny. Apologize if it hurts someone. This is a way of owning our carelessness/absent-mindedness. By confronting it head on that can work in odd ways to help us to feel less klutzy.
      Annnd in another odd piece of advice, if you see someone do something klutzy be the first to ask if they are okay and the last person to start laughing.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Love the advice about not turning too fast – that’s where the majority of my clumsiness comes from. Speed in general, and taking corners too fast in particular.

        I do tend to laugh it off, but I worry that that actually invites the teasing.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          I am usually covered in bruises because of this, but it happens most often at home. I did once have a coworker talk about “Pulling a Ms. Thingy” (we worked in a public school) when she couldn’t find a pen that had been in her hand 5 seconds earlier. I laughed at that, but at my current job I lose little stuff CONSTANTLY in front of my staff when I’m doing site visits. And I’m a new manager so I’m often already feeling a little insecure. I do feel self-conscious about it sometimes but I’m sure it’s a bigger deal in my head than in anyone else’s.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Hmm, I think you are overthinking this. I am ridiculously clumsy (mainly from chronic vertigo) and it’s become an office joke. It doesn’t bother me – people tend to tease people they like and feel comfortable with. I just play along with it and laugh when I bang into the wall for the millionth time. And I don’t think it’s something you can change. I doubt anyone thinks less of you because of this or even thinks about it at all- it sounds like your coworker was just joking around. Kind of like when I tease the guy behind me because he eats okra every single day – I don’t really care about what he eats and I’m just gently teasing him because that’s how we are here.

    6. Brydon*

      I was in a department as a coordinator and in another job a manager of three healthcare clinics, and my coworkers and employees wouldn’t let me have sharp scissors and would take away things that were too sharp for me to handle safely. It became a great stress reliever for everyone during busy and hectic times to fall back on a known “inside joke” that was based in truth. Never hurt my credibility or ability to advance. I should say that none of my jobs revolved around physical skills or the ability to use tools safely :)

  19. No name for this*

    How do you know you’re just going through a rough patch at work vs deciding you definitely need to get out and move on? What was your tipping point at your old job? Am struggling with motivation and attitude at the moment, I know I’m not at my best and I hate this feeling but not sure I should jump ship or give it more time… It’s been about 3 months now and I’m worried I’ll mess up my work relationships for good if my attitude gets worse! Am in a creative field, we can be a sensitive bunch. :-(

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If you’re not sure whether it’s a rough patch or a permanent thing, I’d give it at least a year and a half. That way, you can see if things work in cycles (for your industry or for your specific company), and whether those cycles work with you.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Can you identify all the parts of your job that are causing you to struggle? If they’re from all fronts (say, leadership and benefits AND culture), that’s when I realized I needed to move on. When it was just 1-2 things I was able to push through.

    3. katamia*

      I recently quit a new job (still working the notice period, ugh–so ready to be done). For me, it was realizing that the things that made the job such a bad fit for me (long–excessive IMO–hours, a constant slog with no chance for real “wins” or ever really being done with anything) were things that weren’t going to change as my skills improved–people who have worked here for years are still staying hours late to get everything done. And I have some health issues that, although minor, were really being aggravated by the workload/hours. If it felt like things would get better once I was trained up, I would have tried to stick it out, but I plateaued too soon and realized that I was never going to get to where I needed to be to be great at this job, so to save my health and my sanity, I decided to move on.

    4. Jen*

      I was there about a year ago. I started looking and haven’t found anything yet. It certainly helped my perspective to see what little was put there. And since then, I’ve become sure that im done here. And im glad i got my portfolio fine tuned and polished my interview skills before i was desperate to get out.

      For me it was a much longer process than i expected. Heck, it probably took me six weeks just to update 3 years of work in my portfolio.

    5. Sarasaurus*

      Whenever I’ve found myself in a similar spot, just choosing and applying to one other job always did wonders for my attitude. Something about knowing that you’re not trapped and can leave anytime you want to can be a big morale boost. It never hurts to look and apply around. Maybe you’ll come across an awesome opportunity, and maybe not; but either way, you’re not resigning yourself to leaving just by keeping your options open.

    6. Lily in NYC*

      I think it’s time to move on when you dread going to work every morning, when you get depressed on Sunday nights and when you have constant fantasies about resigning.

      1. Natalie*

        When I found myself unable to sleep on Sunday nights without a sleeping pill (and sometimes even with one, fun!) that was a big sign I couldn’t miss.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Or when you start purposely crossing the street in front of moving vehicles because the idea of getting hit by a bus and needing to spend weeks in the hospital as opposed to going to work suddenly sounds very appealing.

          Yeah. That’s where I’m at right now.

          1. Natalie*

            Yeah, I know the feeling. I started getting a little sick last week and part of me really wanted it to be the flu or something so I could spend a few weeks at home.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Time for a self-check. How’s your work goals doing? How are your life goals doing? Do you get enough rest at night? (Lack of rest really messes up the thinking.)

      Do you remember feeling like this at any other time in your life? If yes, what was going on then? Is something similar going on now?

      1. F.*

        Great advice! I would also add, Do you have anything going on in you life where you CAN find meaning and satisfaction during this dry patch at work? My job can be very frustrating at times, and the nature of our management means I find it difficult to get approval/information/support to get anything done some days. I do charity work (making blankets for sick children) that gives me the sense of purpose and accomplishment that is often missing from my work day.

    8. Natalie*

      Something I noticed after my last breakup was that we had been having the same fights over and over, indicating that we weren’t resolving the problem and we weren’t able to let the problem go. The work equivalent, I guess, is dwelling on the same issues. If you’re unable to either find a resolution to this issue or that issue, or accept it as a downside and move on, than it might be more than a rough patch.

    9. KR*

      I’m not sure how helpful this is to you because the work is very different in this example, however I can’t resist sharing because I still can’t believe how shady this place was. I worked at a place that was not managed well at all. The owners fired an underage girl because she reported that our manager, who was on the sex offender registry, was making lewd remarks to her and made her feel uncomfortable at work. The owners hired someone on the registry to work with underage people. The scheduling was all over the place and within a month of working there I was working completely different hours than I had been hired for. There were gross food safety violations everywhere which were only corrected on the day we had a health inspection.
      I finally quit when I realized that I couldn’t fix this place. I couldn’t convince the management to get a clue, run their business correctly, or provide safe working conditions and I wasn’t being paid enough to do that anyway. I was putting way more time and stress into this than I needed to, and I was going to be much happier anywhere but there. So I got a new job and two years later I’m still here, for the most part happy as a clam.

      1. Irish Goodbye*

        I just quit a job like this – different field but similar level of outrageous behavior and an owner/manager who didn’t care about people’s safety or that he hired people who were abusive to other workers. It’s a good feeling to be out of there.

    10. Future Analyst*

      I’ve found it useful to assess what’s bothering me, and truly look at why it’s a problem. If you’re unhappy with the general direction the company is going, and you don’t foresee if getting better (if the new director has shown he wants to change the entire place AND things have started to play out poorly bc of his direction), start applying elsewhere. If you’re in desperate need of a vacation, talk to your manager and see what you can do. If you’ve had a generally crappy year, and other things in your life are also wearing you down, take some time off. It’s amazing how much several nights of GOOD sleep can help you see clearly. If you take time off and you come back and still hate it, start looking elsewhere. Good luck!!

    11. Noah*

      That is exactly the point I normally start looking. If I hit a sustained bit of time when I either don’t want to go to work or feel like I’m not giving my best work I start looking at job openings. Sometimes seeing the available options and applying for them is enough to kick me in gear and other times I end up finding a new, better job.

    12. NicoleK*

      The tipping point for me was when a coworker did not, would not work with me. I went to the Boss and she did nothing about it. That was it for me.

  20. Zillah*

    This open thread is at such a perfect time for me right now.

    So I’ve been interviewing for a permanent position at a large and well-regarded organization in my current city (job A). I’ve had two interviews and they seemed to go well; after the second, I was told they’d be in touch in 2-3 weeks, and it was three weeks this Wednesday. (I’m not reading too much into that; I know how hiring can go, and November can be busy.)

    However, since then, I’ve gotten a call and had an interview with another organization that’s moving on a very quick timeline; it’s a temporary position working on a time sensitive project that they’ve discovered they need more help on (job B). The quick timeline didn’t raise any red flags to me; it makes sense in the context and they seem reasonable about notice, etc, though that doesn’t apply to me since I’m not working at the moment. However, they’ll probably be making the decision in the next week, maybe even early next week.

    I’m not sure what to do.

    Job A pays better, has benefits, is a pretty prestigious institution in my field, and has job security. However, it’s a little more outside of my comfort zone and not what I want to be doing long term. It’s also public facing and I might be placed somewhere that requires a long commute on public transportation, both of which concern me a lot because I have really bad asthma that’s triggered by smells that I don’t think I’d be able to avoid. I may be able to drive, but I’m a very, very new driver, and I’m not sure I’d be comfortable driving through heavily populated areas for 2+ hours/day in my city.

    Job B pays okay (I could make ends meet and save some, just not as much) and while it doesn’t have benefits, I don’t absolutely need them right now. It’s at an institution that doesn’t usually specialize in my field but have a project they’re doing right now, which is a little more along the lines of what I’d like to do. It’s only temporary, but I’m planning to relocate by July at the absolute latest anyway, so that’s not actually that big a deal to me. It’s also in a location that’s far more accessible for me and isn’t public facing.

    I absolutely need a job – I’ve been unemployed since February, and my savings are starting to dwindle, so I can’t pass one up. If I’m offered Job B, I think it would be before Job A is ready to make a decision, and I’m not sure whether I should reach out to Job A to check in now even though I don’t have an offer. If I’m being super honest, I think I’d enjoy working at Job B more because the work is more within my comfort zone and I’d have much less anxiety surrounding my health. I also wouldn’t be burning any bridges when I left, because it’s temporary. However, Job A is at such a prestigious institution, and I’ve gotten a really good vibe from them as well – it’s just not quite what I’d like to be doing – and I feel like I’d be stupid to pass it up, because having it on my resume might help me in the future, even if I wasn’t there for more than six months. (I’ll be relocating for several reasons, one of them being to be close to a family member dealing with some health stuff – if I got Job A and resigned, that’s how I’d present it to both them and future employers.)

    I don’t know. Help?

    1. Zillah*

      Oh god, this is so much longer than I thought it was! Sorry, and thanks to everyone who wades through it.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Job B seems like an easy choice to me, so there must be something I’m missing. I can’t imagine the value/prestige of having Job A on your resume for ~6 months will be all that significant, particularly since you’re likely to have a difficult reference from them after leaving so soon after starting. Go for Job B, hold tight until you move, and then try to make your next career push.

      1. Zillah*

        Honestly, mostly that Job A is at a really, really high-profile institution. I’m hoping that moving due to a family member’s health crisis (which is essentially what’s going on – I just have a little more information to go on right now than I’d indicate to them) would mitigate the hard feelings a little? I feel like literally everyone I know will look at me like I’m an idiot if I turn down Job A for Job B. I’m also not sure Job B would last as long as I’m going to still be here (although maybe it would! it depends on how long I’m here) while Job A definitely would.

        It does seem like a no-brainer. I just… Job A is at a really, really prestigious institution.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          These other people won’t be working at the job, you will. So actually it does not matter what they think.
          Sometimes I think we super impose our own thoughts on other people and it’s actually us, ourselves, who think that way. Do YOU think you’re an idiot if you turn down A and take B? You don’t need to tell us, but you might need to tell YOU.

            1. Zillah*

              … I just realized that the ♥ thing is not a thing that we usually do here. Sorry, I’ve been on my other internet community all morning as well and it’s totally rampant there, we’re always ♥-ing everything. :P

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I like the little heart. Thank you.
                Little hearts have a personal significance to me- in a warm way. The fact that you had no way of knowing that, makes me smile even more.

        2. F.*

          Adding a stressful commute and job to a family member’s health crisis and your own asthma sounds like a lot of stress to put yourself through at this time.

      2. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Agreed. When I got to the end of the post, Job B was a no-brainer to me. It sounds like it fits into your overall plan much better and won’t cause you personal distress.

    3. lulu*

      Well that’s a good problem to have, so first congrats on the job search success! Let’s say you get an offer from job B next week. At that point you can reach out to Job A and ask them where you stand. If they make you an offer you would then find out where it would be located, correct? which would help your decision (I wouldn’t take it if the commute is horrendous).

      Overall it sound like Job B is the better fit for you, if you’re looking for something temporary anyway, and the actual work is what you want to do.

      1. Zillah*

        Thanks! It’s really refreshing after job searching for so much time. Hopefully I get offered at least one of them – I think I’ve done about all I can. And yes, I’d definitely find out where I’d be located if I get an offer – from what they’ve said, though, it seems like the commute would like be well over an hour each way on public transportation or maybe less time driving if I was comfortable doing so (and I don’t know that I would be).

    4. NK*

      Job B seems like a no-brainer from an outsider’s perspective. I had a job for 6 months from a prestigious company, and I don’t even have it on my resume anymore, because it doesn’t help me at all. Think of it this way – if the institution were just average in terms of prestige, holding all else equal, would you still want to take the job? If not, don’t take it.

      1. Zillah*

        Hmm. Yeah, probably not, tbh.

        Depending on the time frame, the pay difference between them would likely be $5000-$8000, though. I’m not really hurting for money, but I’m far from rich, too, and that would be a really significant difference to me. Job B would let me make ends meet and save some, though… and it definitely wouldn’t push me off Medicaid, which Job A definitely would – and premiums + copays could be a significant expense, because of some health issues I have.

        (Thank you, guys – you’re all so awesome and I’m already starting to feel calmer about the whole thing.)

        1. Mander*

          I think all your updates tip my opinion even more in favor of job B! It wouldn’t mess up your insurance, it’s already understood to be temporary so when you relocate it won’t be burning a bridge, it’s more in line with what you want to do, and it’s a better commute. I think the prestige of working for the other place is probably not worth the stress you’d add to your life.

          Here’s hoping you get both offers, though, and can make a better evaluation!

  21. NK*

    Any suggestions for explaining a firing on a job application? My cousin is dyslexic and had a job where performance was entirely based on finishing a caseload of work in a certain amount of time, which was a terrible fit for her. She was able to get the job done well when she was allowed to get overtime, but when they took away the ability to work overtime, she was unable to get the job done. After being put on a very long PIP process, she was eventually let go. Her boss even said what a great employee she was to work with, great organization, etc – this job was just not the right one for her. She is now applying for other jobs where the application asks if she’s ever been terminated and why. She’s not sure what to put that won’t immediately send her application to the trash.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think that she should say something about what she learned from the situation that she can do x type work but not y type work, therefore she is applying to ABC Company because she feels that she will be a good fit for doing x work that is required with the position that is open.

    2. Anxa*

      Unfortunately, I think that’s just the way applications go.

      I’d maybe try to focus on looking on jobs that require a resume and cover letter instead of an application or other weed-out materials until she gets a good reference.

      I’m staying at my part-time job I can’t afford to work at because I was fired from my previous two (one I was laid off from maybe? I don’t know…I was just taken off the schedule and never told why—the other was a bad fit for an opening business; a blessing in disguise because months later they were in trouble for serving minors; I was constantly distracted on the job worried about overserving)

  22. squids*

    Such shenanigans this week!

    A major public-facing project has been printed & distributed with a basic factual error on the front in large letters. I was the one to notice the problem — wasn’t involved in production, but was there to help unload. The official decision has been to put it forward as is, and come up with a reason why it’s printed that way, rather than spend ten thousand dollars to fix it all. I think this is going to make our organization look pretty stupid, but I’ve said my piece several times and it’s not my decision.

    But on the very same day I had to tell someone off for a really inappropriate joke, and I did it so maturely I felt like a superhero.

    1. Anie*

      Oh jeeze, I had that happen with my publication a few months ago! Some major companies were misquoted right on the front page and no one noticed until the companies saw it and called to complain! Thankfully (if there’s anything to be thankful about), it was an error by the owner of our company so no one got fired. We, also, did not re-print the issue.

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    Just a gripe. Monday I had a mini-meltdown in the car because it was my 6 month work anniversary and the week before had been insane amounts of travel. I was seeing all sorts of green grass back at OldJob. I knew it was all in my head and my husband talked me down but you know it’s bad when I was thinking about staying home with the kid. I know I can’t do that. I barely made it through MAT leave but I was thinking it.

    So, today I was submitting for travel reimbursement and realized I was pretty lucky in old job when it came to that. So Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week I went to DC. Wednesday was from my office. The other two days were from my house (that’s 96 miles round trip for one day). Turns out that because I would have ordinarily been at my office that day I have to deduct the RT mileage from home to work from the RT mileage from home to DC. WTF!!!! What should have been (in any normal world) a $250 reimbursement was $150ish. I worked for a huge state institution and your mileage was point A to point B. I could’ve claimed a grand total of 2 miles for Wednesday!

    I know I can’t do anything about it and everyone agrees it is crappy. They want to be an employer of choice but when you do crap like that, you won’t get there.

    1. F.*

      I have found that when an employer calls themselves an “employer of choice”, the choices usually are ‘take it or leave it’.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I’m so glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read this. I would’ve spit it on my screen. LOL!

    2. Come On Eileen*

      If it helps (and I’m not sure that it will), that mileage reimbursement policy is standard at pretty much every place that I’ve ever worked. If you’re traveling to a site on a day that you otherwise would have traveled to your office, you’re only allowed to claim mileage above and beyond what it would have been to your office and back.

      1. periwinkle*

        Yup, that’s our policy as well. I think it’s a fair policy – I normally would have driven 14 miles RT from home to office, the meeting in another location meant I had a 30-mile RT on Tuesday, and so the company compensates me for the extra 16 miles that I otherwise wouldn’t have needed to drive that day. The exception is if you have to fly somewhere, in which case you can expense the full RT home-airport mileage.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        Yeah, all of our mileage reimbursement is based on office –> destination—>office. Frequently works out in my favor, like the other day when I went from home –>meeting .5 miles from home –> office. No actual extra driving for me, reimbursed for 16 miles.

    3. Little Teapot*

      At an old work, the employer did that too – except they set a standard amount of miles. So ie they set a standard 20 miles that you couldn’t claim on travel, that 20 being what you’d usually drive to the office. I lived pretty close to the office and was super pissed off! I lost money traveling as I didn’t travel 20 miles to the office. Of course if you lived further away it worked in your favor but I think a system that goes off the actual miles you travel is much fairer.

      On the plus side, that work’s reimbursement was a joke. Very low.

      Another work paid more than triple the amount with no deductions at all!

  24. TCO*

    I had a conversation with my boss this week about getting more responsibility, and apparently our department’s leadership doesn’t feel I’m quite ready for that until I improve in some other areas. These growth areas are skills that I simply don’t naturally possess and have never been important at other workplaces (and aren’t all that related to the kinds of new responsibilities I want). I’ve spent months trying to grow those skills and I’m still falling short. As an aside, my current job duties are somewhat of a demotion from prior jobs–I’m definitely not being allowed to live up to my full potential.

    Can anyone commiserate? I’m beginning to think that I’ll never get ahead at an organization that highly values skills that I can’t ever seem to get good enough at.

    1. F.*

      Apparently management thinks these skills ARE important to the new responsibilities you would like to take on. Have they offered you ways to improve on the skills that they think need improvement? If these are hard skills, training would certainly be in order. If they are soft (people) skills, perhaps specific feedback and working with a mentor would help you develop. With training and practice, you will get better!

      1. TCO*

        The skill I lack is that of sending enough project update e-mails to my supervisors. I’m micromanaged, and so my perceived failings are directly related to the fact that I’ve never been micromanaged before and don’t do well with it. (And yes, objective parties agree that I’m micromanaged–this isn’t just me whining.) I’ll admit that it’s hard to be motivated to develop a skill that I resent having to develop in the first place, and while I’m trying, I’m still not good enough at it for them. Because of this, I haven’t yet “earned their trust” enough to actually do the work I’m capable of doing.

        It’s kind of a vicious cycle. I think the ultimate answer is to find another job where I’ll fit in better and get to do the type/level of work I’m capable of.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I think being micromanaged is a good time to “kill them with kindness” or with updates instead of kindness. Do they tell you how many updates they want?

    2. Red*

      Today I gave notice (a long notice – last day 12/23) after a talk with my boss. I’ve been thinking about this for most of the year and I decided to into business for myself.

      I have had the flip side of your experience. I work in the central office of a large university. I’ve been given more responsibilities, but my role and title aren’t being revisited. The department acknowledges that my skills and education exceed the position, and that I’ve made valuable contributions, but the director will not authorize a promotion largely due to budget concerns. It’s nothing about me or my abilities, and that’s been made clear to me in conversation. I’m confident that nobody is hiding anything from me. I’ve largely enjoyed my experience here, and most of my colleagues are really good people — something I feel lucky to be able to say honestly.

      But it’s time to go. There’s no more room to grow in this role, and I’m not being provided any extra consideration for duties being piled on outside it (which belong to higher-grade titles than mine). Not only that, but in 2016, I’d be taking a pay cut due to benefits reductions, would have a longer commute from an office-wide relocation, and would have to pay for parking on top of that.

  25. Might get fired*

    I made a mistake that may or may not be a fireable offense. We don’t know yet how bad the damage is. I’m communicating fully with my boss and not trying to hide anything. I feel sick to my stomach. I want to straight up ask him, if Y happens, do I lose my job? I don’t want to be fatalistic or dramatic, but I do want to know if it’s on the table or not. Any suggestions for how to be professional in this situation?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      First, let me reassure you: most people blow up their mistakes in their mind WAY more than they really are in terms of ability to put your job in jeopardy (at least, unless the place is dysfunctional). I as a boss would rather have an employee who screws up occasionally (*occasionally*, mind you) and is honest with me about it than have to retrain a new person just because someone made a mistake that she’s not likely to repeat.

      Depending on my relationship with my boss, I might reiterate that I’m mortified about what I did, and I’m doing X, Y, and Z to make sure it never happens again, but ask whether I should also be looking for another job.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        1) Own the mistake. This means admitting it and apologizing.
        2) Offer to help fix the mistake or offer to repair the mistake without extra help. Realize they may say no. If they say no, say you understand. Tell them you are available if they change their minds. If they say yes, fix the mistake with your best level of care.
        3) As AAC said here, show the boss your plan for preventing this from happening again.

        Remember, remember, if you are fired after admitting to a mistake that sends a message to other employees that tells them NOT to admit to mistakes because if they do they will get fired. Also when your boss is talking about it with other people your boss can say that you came to him and told him. He did not have to find the mistake, hunt you down and all that. You owned it from the get-go. This is very helpful to a boss to be able to say this.

    2. Might get fired*

      Thanks everyone. Turns out my boss was in a car crash this morning. He’s not injured, thank God. So any conversation with him is going to be delayed. I was also able to undo about half of the mistake, so the worst case scenario has gone from ‘could possibly shut down part of the company’ to ‘will seriously annoy upper management’.

      I’m owning the problem to the hilt. As soon as I’m done salvaging as much as possible, operation This Never Happens Again will commence.

  26. katamia*

    I previously worked at a college with a very similar name to a very well respected college (along the lines of Harvard College, totally unconnected to Harvard University). Even when I listed the location (VeryFarFromWhereHarvardIs, CompletelyDifferentState) on my resume, interviewers kept asking, “Oh, you worked at Harvard? Wow!” because they thought it was THE Harvard. Uh, nope. Much lower tier. Fully accredited and everything (i.e., not a for-profit school), but…yeah, not Harvard caliber.

    I’d really like to take the locations off my resume (I can’t remember why I had them on there in the first place), but I feel like it would be almost misleading to not list the location for Harvard College because so many people miss that it’s not the prestigious one even with the location clearly on my resume. But I’d really like the extra white space, and having the location of one of my other jobs listed would invite weird questions (long story, not super relevant to this question).

    So…take all the locations off my resume? Leave them all on? Take all the locations off except the one for Harvard College, which I leave on to try to prevent people from thinking I worked at a super prestigious university?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I can see how this would happen with say, Columbia University and Columbia College (Chicago). Doubly confusing because one of the schools at Columbia University is also named Columbia College!

      I say take off the locations. If you’ve had it on there and are still fielding questions about it, then it’s not helping you much anyway.

      1. SL #2*

        Most of my east coast acquaintances like to ask if my alma mater is a very respected school of music… No, but my alma mater is a very respected public university on the opposite coast with the same name but different spelling!

          1. Zillah*

            Ditto – I’m on the east coast, and I didn’t even know that there was a music-Berkeley! I do know Berkeley-Berkeley, though, of course.

          2. SL #2*

            I know, right?! But most of my East Coast/Midwest friends are musicians by trade, so I understand why they jump to Berklee.

      2. Ghost Umbrella*

        There’s also a Columbia College in SC, which is where my mind went. It’s a very popular name for schools, apparently.

        And yeah, people are apparently not even reading the locations, so you might as well leave them off.

    2. NK*

      Why do you want to take the locations off your resume? I’ve done quite a bit of interviewing recently, and I can’t think of a single resume that’s come across my desk that did not have the city and state of each job. Typically the way the resumes are formatted it doesn’t take up any additional room, and it’s such a strong convention that it would seem odd to me to see a resume without locations.

      1. katamia*

        Is it really that common to list the locations? I was under the impression it wasn’t, although now that I think about it I’m not sure where that idea came from. My resume with locations has always gotten good responses, though.

        I want to leave them off for a couple reasons. First, I worked from home for years and moved around a bit while working and I really don’t want to list all locations because it would look strange (started on the East Coast, moved to the West Coast, came back to the East Coast within the span of about two years).

        I also recently moved to Asia for a job, but am quitting it and coming back to the US next month. I think listing the location of this job, especially combined with my short tenure here, would make me look even flightier than just the short tenure (which was partly due to mismatched expectations, partly due to lacking a skill that the job really requires but that they didn’t screen for when they hired me, and partly due to health issues) does. I mean, who does two intercontinental moves in under 6 months? I’m planning to stay put for at least a little while after this while I get my health under control, but I can’t bring up my health issues in a cover letter or interview.

        Also, I was an Asian Studies major in college, and interviewers constantly assume I speak Chinese and talk about how great it would be to have someone who speaks Chinese. (I don’t speak Chinese. I focused on a different part of Asia in college. I don’t say I speak Chinese on my resume, I list the language I actually speak.) But I moved to a Chinese-speaking country, so people seeing that country on my resume are even more likely to assume I speak Chinese. It always makes the interviews really awkward when they find out I don’t speak Chinese.

      2. Ghost Umbrella*

        Really? I don’t have a single location on mine. Just employer name and dates. Locations would take up too much space. (I moved a lot while in some jobs.)

    3. Hlyssande*

      I have this exact same problem re: the school I attended!

      I went to Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA. Not Cornell University. CC was first by a few years, thanks!

  27. Sarasaurus*

    Any advice for days where you just CANNOT focus on anything? My brain is all over weekend plans, what I should have for lunch, how cute my coworker’s outfit is, etc., but nowhere near my actual job. I’m trying to knock out some of my more “mindless” tasks, like processing invoices and updating tracking spreadsheets, but even that feels like it’s taking all my brainpower today.

    1. asl*

      Yep. Sounds familiar!

      I find that if I can just get started on something, preferably something that takes concentration but not too much brain power, it gets the ball rolling.

      Have you tried to Pomodoro method? There’s lots of apps and browser extensions for it, but you can just use a timer – 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes break. When I get distracted during the time I should be working, I write down the thought or task – even silly things like ‘think about how awesome so-and-so looks today’. It makes me laugh and gives me permission to let my mind wander, just not too much.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      I’ve been like this lately so I can relate. I think for me, it’s seasonal depression because I can’t focus really on anything at all, even outfits or spreadsheets. :/ Hope it gets better soon. I try to cope by making lists and just forcing myself to complete a task.

    3. themmases*

      In addition to Pomodoro, I make weird task lists to just help me get started. For example, I have one in Google Keep right now that is everything I can think of that I need/want to do, regardless of domain, in order of fun/easiness. There is mindless work stuff in there, small personal tasks, really anything that I can easily see, do, check off, and build some momentum.

      Another thing that helps me a lot is making flow charts. If I’m having trouble thinking clearly about something at work I make a flow chart of the process and it helps a lot. Also, IMO it counts as work because you need to understand something to do it right. So it also counts as a thing to check off your to do list. :) I like to use which is free, works well so you don’t waste time on formatting, and runs in Google Drive or Dropbox.

      Lastly, don’t beat up on yourself and don’t tell yourself that any of this stuff is wasted time, not work, or too little to take your regular break later. Even filing and archiving your email are work tasks that have to get done sometime, and by doing them when you’re not 100% you’re actually being smart and efficient. If you are conscientious enough to care about this one Friday, you will be back soon and the work will get done. Feeling bad will just make it harder to concentrate.

      1. Sarasaurus*

        Ohhh, I like the flow chart idea a lot! Sometimes I feel like it takes me forever to get started on something, so I think this would help.

    4. Red*

      I’m a big fan of HabitRPG/Habitica. It’s a cute site that lets you gamify chores, tasks, habits, etc. I’ve been kind of using it to train my brain into developing good habits and a better workflow.

  28. Just asking*

    I’ve been surprised at the number of people who write in or comment that say they hate their job and have worked there for years. I’m interested in why people stay if they really do not like their job/boss/company/etc. So, if you are unhappy with your job, why are you still working there? Are you looking and having trouble finding something better, have you decided that “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t” or some other reason?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m often surprised by this too—more in real life than from what I read online. I’ve been in toxic workplaces with co-workers who recognize it’s toxic, complain that it’s toxic, have been there for years… but the minute you mention, “Hey, have you ever thought about looking for something else?” they try to brush it off as “Oh, it’ll get better if I stick it out.”

      Also, particularly for former colleagues I’ve had who’ve been at a place more than 8 years, it really is a case of “better the devil you know,” and they’ve either never worked anywhere else or forgotten what other places can be like.

      For me, life is too short. I’m not going to waste years at a place that’s miserable. The first toxic place I left after ten weeks. The next place I stayed three years, but that’s because it didn’t start becoming toxic until my last year there. The third toxic place I left after eight months. Other than those three, all my stints have been 3-5 years.

    2. Red Wheel*

      I am trying to avoid taking a job just because I want to get the heck of here. I have been very tempted but I know deep down that that type of move would only trade one problem for another. I also want to avoid just a lateral move and want to step up into a position offering more responsibility. Unfortunately, those positions been hard to come by. So I wait. And look. Its hard, though.

      1. Future Analyst*

        This. I’ve definitely spent more time than intended in a toxic place because I didn’t want to trade one crappy place for another crappy place. I didn’t want to make the move unless I was CERTAIN that things would be better.

    3. Jen*

      For me, its just a niche market in a medium sized city. I have a questionable noncompete but it still turns some people iff. Im not willing to move. So there are very few jobs to apply to. I have gotten interviews for most positions that i apply to but haven’t closed the deal anywhere. In my case, its a waiting game that could easily take years.

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      The job market is extremely tight. It’s easier to get a job when you have a job. And the mortgage won’t pay itself.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Yup. I hate my job, but I’ve been actively looking for over a year and nothing has come in yet other than a few interviews. Bills ain’t gonna pay themselves, and it’s not like I haven’t looked.

        I live in a small town with very few job opportunities.

    5. some1*

      When I was in that situation, it was partly that some awesome aspect was really hard to let go of – I had an awesome group of close friends, the job was a 10 minute walk from my house, etc, and partly that I had a fear of the unknown and didn’t want to risk the rejection that inevitably comes when job searching.

    6. CrazyCatLady*

      I hate my job and am looking to get out but I’ve stayed because I get paid quite a bit for not having a degree (around $66K with bonuses). It has good hours, is close, gives good work-life balance but I hate the people and there is no room for growth.

    7. xarcady*

      In my experience, sometimes the combination of a toxic workplace and certain people creates a feeling that they don’t deserve any better–that this job is horrible, but any other job they try for will be worse. Or that they can’t possibly be good enough to get a different job.

      People just get so beaten down by the toxic environment that, while they recognize that it is bad, they lose the ability to conceive of any place that would or could be better.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          I’ve got one of those. Luckily I have other people at my job who tell me that despite my manager’s constant griping about me and my work, I’m actually quite smart and good at my job.

          But it’s hard to believe these things when you hear the exact opposite every day, so I get it.

    8. AndersonDarling*

      When I was at awful jobs, I was treated like crap and I felt like crap. I didn’t think I had any value so I felt like I couldn’t get another job.

    9. MaryMary*

      It’s a combination of things, I think. I know that I kept hoping things would get better. If I get promoted, things will be different. Once I finish project Y, things will be different. If I don’t have to work with Wakeen anymore, things will be different. If I move out of division X, things will be different. It took me a long time to realize it was the corporate culture, not just a rough project or a certain role.

      Job hunting, as we all know, can be very time consuming and it can be tricky to find a new role that’s a good fit. I interviewed on and off for several years while I was at OldJob, but nothing worked out

      Finally, for some positions golden handcuffs are a problem. I was well compensated and had good benefits, and it took a while for me to decide the money wasn’t worth how I felt going to work every day.

    10. Kinda Stuck Here*

      I have a degree in a field that I cannot seem to break into and have the worst luck in finding anything else, but I have been trying for three years now to find something- anything- that isn’t my current job. It is depressing and frustrating. I keep taking volunteer graphic design jobs, but they never seem to lead to anything lucrative.

      My coworkers seem to think that nothing would be better, and they are best staying miserable in a job they already have. I know people need jobs, but the way they get all worked up and unhappy but REFUSE to do anything about their situation boggles my mind.

    11. Lily in NYC*

      These jobs can be like golden handcuffs. Also, location and industry have much to do with it. Getting a good-paying job in a rural area can be next to impossible, so many people find it difficult to leave. And for people with spouses/kids, it’s not all that simple to uproot everyone for a new job. I don’t hate my job, but there was a 3-year period here when I was miserable (awful boss). But I make decent money, the benefits and perks can’t be beat and I get tons of vacation. I would have to get a job paying 30K more to make it financially worth leaving. I knew I could wait out my jerk boss and I did and now things are great again. It’s a complicated issue and has lots of answers depending on the situation.

    12. Kelly L.*

      That never surprises me, for the reasons others have stated, but what surprises me in real life are the “I hate my job! You should work here too” people. I’ve had several friends over the years who have bitched to no end about their jobs but then prodded me to apply to work there too, sometimes even getting angry if I didn’t. I figure either it wasn’t really all that bad and they just liked complaining, or they wanted to spread the misery around. This tastes terrible–here, have a bite!

      1. Jules the First*

        Ironically we were just having the opposite discussion yesterday! Our latest employee engagement survey revealed that 92% of our staff are proud to work here, but only 16% would recommend it to a friend.

        The only explanation we could come up with is that we all have incompetent friends…

    13. Delyssia*

      I’ve been here for seven years, and sometimes I hate it, sometimes I don’t. I left three years ago for a lateral move to a smaller company where I had broader responsibilities, and found the other place to be completely, 100% toxic for me. I lasted 7 months there, then came back here.

      Reasons I’m still here:
      1) While I can’t see myself working in this role until retirement (I’m in my late 30s now), I don’t know what else I want to do, so it’s hard to look. And I’m a bit gun-shy due to the 7 month stint at the smaller firm.
      2) At other jobs I’ve had, I’ve been a solid, middle of the road performer. Here, I’m a rockstar, just because this job suits my strengths and weaknesses really, really well. I hate the thought of changing jobs and ending up in a role where I’m just a mediocre employee.

      There are other factors that could be hard to find in a new job–I have a lot of autonomy and a fair bit of flexibility. I have a great team of coworkers. And certainly, there’s a comfort level with having been here for 7 years. But I think 1 & 2 above are the biggest ones.

    14. themmases*

      It is really hard to apply for something better when you’re ground down by a bad job. I’ve seen it with my partner, who is so unwilling to start job searching that by the time he would start to get fed up and begin to think about maybe updating his resume someday, something at the job changes that resets the clock.

      My last bad job also really did a number on my self-esteem. I have 8 years of experience in health research, but my old boss would constantly load me down with administrative tasks and demeaning gofer duties, then treat me like I was being naive and uppity for objecting. Now that I’m in a better place, the lasting effect on my self-image and tendency to underrate my skills and ambitions is so obvious. When I was still at that job, the fact that I was job searching at all felt like radical self-advocacy.

      I’m sure that that outlook came through in my writing and that I did a bad job making myself attractive to other employers; I rarely got responses even though it felt like I was doing everything right. It seems bizarre because now that I’m somewhere I’m happy, I’m actually in demand and jobs just fall in my lap. For various reasons (bad job search, waiting for grad school to start), I didn’t want to be there for 1.5/4 years at that job.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Yes to your middle paragraph. A boss that makes you doubt yourself is so damaging, and sometimes you don’t even realize how badly you were affected until you’ve been gone for months/years.

    15. Anon for this comment*

      Although I don’t hate my job, there are reasons why I could not leave even if I wanted to. A divorce at age 40 stripped me of all of my savings and put me on food stamps with two children. I am in my mid-50s, and I am finally in a position where I earn enough to be able to save a little. Were I to leave, I would have to take an approximate 20% or more pay cut, which I cannot afford. I simply cannot start near the bottom of the pay scale again. It is also very difficult for older women to find jobs. I will never be able to retire and just pray that my health holds out.

    16. Golden Yeti*

      For me it’s:

      1. I’m having a really hard time landing a new job.
      2. On a related note, the economy is particularly bad right now. Nobody wants to take a chance on someone who’s not a sure thing, and I don’t want to take a chance on something that wouldn’t be permanent–I live paycheck to paycheck, so I can’t afford to be without one (as Master Bean Counter said).
      3. My current commute is very easy and works well for our family, so I have to weigh any prospective job against that perk.
      4. As Red Wheel said, I’m trying to be very picky so that I don’t make the same mistakes twice. If I’m going to make such a big change, I want to be as certain as I can that it would be for the better. But if you’re applying to fewer jobs, you have fewer chances of landing a new one. So then it becomes a struggle between volume for a speedier exit, or intention for a better fit.
      5. To echo xarcady and AndersonDarling, when you’ve been fruitlessly searching for awhile, you start wondering if there’s something wrong with you. There have been days when my job search has left me in tears, and I think, “Why is it that the only company that wanted me was toxic? What does that say about me? Do I have any real value to a new company, or am I too tainted by this one?” Things like that. I know in a perfect world, we would all know that our inherent value is more than an occupation, but that’s not always how things play out. One of the first questions someone you are meeting for the first time will ask is what you do for a living, and if you’re ashamed of your answer, it’s just a reminder of how much you feel like you’ve failed. The longer you go on like that, the harder it is to keep those feelings from infiltrating you on a regular basis–and I think that can leak into your job search, too.

      This has been my experience in the journey, anyway.

    17. Not Karen*

      Where else was I supposed to work when I was already at the ONE company in commuting radius in my industry and I couldn’t afford to move??

    18. Elizabeth West*

      Fear of the unknown, fear of not being able to find a better job or one that will pay all the bills, someone who just likes complaining (not the norm here, I know). I knew someone like this at a former job and the fear factor was huge. He had good reason to hate it, but he was really nervous about leaving because he’d been there since high school. He ended up getting let go during a bout of layoffs, which was a blessing in disguise because his health wasn’t so good and his boss was incredibly evil. I told him I’d be a reference any time.

    19. NicoleK*

      I have several friends who constantly complained about their job. Both were making a decently salary and did not want a downgrade in their lifestyle. As for me, my mental health is more important than a nice lifestyle. Once I decide that I’ve had enough, I’m done.

    20. Omne*

      I’ve enjoyed most of my career at a government agency. Not so much now but I can fully retire in a few years at 58 and then go enjoy myself doing volunteer work etc.. So I am sticking it out.

  29. Alyson*

    I work with a micromanaging, boss-favorite, but nonetheless highly competent office bitch. That was a mouthful. Usually when I have worked in companies this same type of office worker was incompetent, but they knew the boss so they got away with it. In this case, my coworker is very smart, but that’s primarily due to a manager who doesn’t want to manage, who lets her get away with interrupting ‘superiors’ in meetings, and making life miserable for other coworkers. She even bullies other coworkers, and people are scared of her. This has resulted in high turnover. However, management doesn’t do anything about the girl because well, she’s on her s#%&. She’s allowed to insert herself in every aspect of the company-even in things that aren’t her business and of course, her way will always be the ‘right way’ because again, no one wants to manage. Also, she knows how to play office politics and kiss up. However, she’s horrible at sharing information and will throw other coworkers under the bus, which is partially why she has moved up so fast.

    I’m thinking of leaving, but how can I deal with this type A in the meantime?

    1. Zillah*

      Yeesh. I’m so sorry – that’s an awful situation to be in. :(

      It doesn’t sound to me like there’s so so much you can do, other than leave. It seems likely that the best you can do is try to avoid her as much as possible, make sure that your interactions with her are documented so she has fewer opportunities to throw you under the bus (e.g., communicate through email, follow up with email summaries, etc), and try to emotionally distance yourself from your job and therefore her toxicity as much as possible.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Learn her patterns, so you have a fair idea of what is coming up next. Everyone has patterns, even in how they use their meanness. In the process of learning her patterns you may find little ways to protect yourself. For example: When x happens she blows up. So, you can avoid doing x or you can figure out how to prevent x and save other people some headaches, too.

      BTW, truly smart people have no need to behave this way. This person is out of control because she privately believes that no one is in control. Think about toddlers or pups left to their own devices. This is similar.

    3. Jen*

      I’ve been thinking about this since I first read it. And wondered if any of my coworkers would describe me this way. I’m not sure. I hope I’ve never thrown anyone under the bus. But my bosses refuse to manage, i am an ass kisser and i often insert myself into all kinds of things. I think im on my shit. Its a survival mechamism. I am great at being a chameleon and this is what i have had to do to make it in my office. I need this job right now and I need to kick ass at this job as a stepping stone to a new firm.

      There might be a lot to learn from your office bitch. She might not be inclined to behave this way normally but she might be good enough at reading people and situations that she figured out that this is what she needs to do there. Myself, i can’t wait to get out to a (hopefully) more sane workplace. But refusing to play the game now wont get me there. I need the big projects and big experience because i need to get out.

      Otoh, maybe she isnt me at all. But if she is, she knows that the job sucks and doesnt see it as a zero sum game and she might be happy to help you succeed too.

  30. Meg Murry*

    We are heading into a stressful time at work, we only have a small staff, and now one of our employees is probably out for several weeks with a medical emergency. I feel so b!tchy right now, but I really don’t have it in me to either stay late or work at an insane pace for the next few weeks. I’m just burnt out. TGIF, and maybe I’ll feel less grumpy after the weekend.

    1. fposte*

      Ugh. I feel you; I’ve been in a similar place recently. The tragedy is definitely the priority, but the burnout and stress are definitely bitch-worthy.

      1. LCL*

        Been there, done that and very recently too. And it is still happening. I keep reminding myself what my job duties are, and try to focus on them, and not work insane hours. Still didn’t prevent me from getting extremely bent out of shape this morning at something exceedingly minor.

    2. Nanc*

      Is there any chance you could bring in a temp? Even a part-time one and split up the work so the temp handles the really basic stuff like data entry, making copies, etc? It will be stressful training a temp but if everyone could sit down and figure out what must be done by regular staff and what could be done by a competent temp, it’s worth a shot.

      1. Meg Murry*

        We already brought in one temp to handle the busy season, and we have 2 part timers we’ve been using heavily as well. They’ve been great, but there’s only so much you can do with people who aren’t trained to do everything, and for some of the work it really does take just as long to train and supervise as to do it, although we’re starting to get to the point where the temp can work more independently.

        We got approval to hire a full time entry level person for 2016, so the bosses are working on that now – but that would probably be in place of the temp, not in addition to him.

        We also do project based work where it takes all hands on deck, but it’s the kind of thing where 1 person can accomplish X in a day, 2 people can accomplish 1.5-1.75X because you have to keep checking with each other to make sure you’re doing everything the same way and not repeating each other’s work, 3 people accomplish about 2-2.25X, and so on, and some days I just spend all day coordinating the troops and dealing with the fact that this much work means we are going through supplies like no tomorrow (it’s lab work, so we physically use things up, and more work = go through supplies faster).

        The good news is the project where I’m keeping all the balls up in the air and directing the show (basically, the part where it is my circus and those are my monkeys) is winding down, so in the next few weeks it will be my turn to just do what I’m told as an extra pair of hands on someone else’s project and not spend so much mental energy on “if Person A is doing X, and Person B is handling Y and they each take Z days, will that work or will they wind up needing the same resource on the same day or have labwork due on Thanksgiving or during someone’s vacation?” Basically, remember the story problems about 2 trains heading somewhere? My job right now is 5 crisscrossing trains, and it’s my job to get them all to their destinations as quickly and efficiently as possible, without crashing into each other.

        My desk and office seriously look like a bomb went off, and lets not even discuss the lab. But I’m getting out of here soon (not really that early, we start early in the morning) and not working this weekend, so it could be way worse.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Ugh, I just got out of this same situation! Except that our already-small staff included two new people that I was trying to train and make sure their areas of responsibility were covered while they got up to speed. All you can do is the best you can, encourage your employees to put in some extra time (maybe offer them the opportunity to take some extra hours off during a slow time if they put in extra hours now?) and remind yourself that it will be over soon!

  31. asl*

    I’m currently working at my “dream job”, which has been an amazing experience. However, due to my beloved small niche of my niche field, there’s not a lot of room for growth here unless I branch out into the not-so-beloved section of my small niche field. Which I’m considering, since I could make a nice living for myself for a long time with this organization. There are things, however, that I don’t love about working here, in part the intense hierarchy and bureaucracy (think government on steroids), and in part because I hate living in the city we’re located in. Part of the job involves moving to a different country every few years, and while part of me is really into that, part of me is exhausted by 4 years in a huge city and just want to move somewhere where I can put down roots. This is the longest I’ve lived in the same place since I lived at home in high school, and while it’s great to have friends all over the world, I also feel really isolated and it’s hard to commit to connecting with people when I always feel like I have a foot out the door. I also have a spouse who (in 2 years when she finishes grad school) seems to be happy to move around with me.

    I’m having a really hard time applying for jobs – they’re out there, but it would mean taking a pay cut and prestige cut to work pretty much anywhere else. I also realize that I’m in an incredibly lucky position, since I have 8 months before I need to decide if I want to renew my contract or not, and my boss completely supports me moving on, either in the same organization, or outside of it.

    So my question is, how have other people decided to make that choice to leave what looks like a perfect job? Everyone I talk to gets starry-eyed about who I work for and it’s hard to get solid advice beyond “don’t be an idiot, this is the chance of a lifetime”. I am afraid that if I leave to work somewhere else, I am going to regret leaving. On the flip side, I worry that I’ll look back and wish I had invested more in my community, outside interests and relationships than in my career.

    1. Zillah*

      Hmm. Yeah, on one hand, that sounds really cool, but on the other, it seems like a pretty significant part of you is exhausted by the parameters of the job at this point, and I totally get that. Hating where you live also doesn’t help.

      Since you have eight months to decide whether or not to renew your contract, why don’t you just start applying to jobs that look great to you, despite the pay cut? If you get offers, you may be able to negotiate a bit to alleviate that loss, either through better pay than you’re expecting or through other benefits. Things may look a little different once you’ve got a tangible offer in front of you to compare to your current job, you know?

    2. Meg Murry*

      I think at some point you have to decide whether you want your job to be the major source of happiness and satisfaction in your life, or if you are willing to take something with less prestige or less money in order to be able to be happy with the rest of your life outside work (putting down roots, seeing your spouse, having hobbies, etc).

      There will always be parts of your job you like better than others, but a big flag to me is when the thing you like best is your job title and/or company and the prestige that goes with it but you don’t actually like the job. That’s what happened to me – I finally got hired at a dream company, and my elevator speech about the job sounded facinating – but in fact, the elevator speech was pretty much the only part I liked, and I really hated about 85% of what I was doing day to day.

      I think it’s perfectly fine for a job to be a dream job for one phase of your life, but not your entire career. Is there anyone else you could talk to that has been in the industry a while as a mentor? Does your boss have any former colleagues that stepped off the crazy move-every-few-years train that he could get you informational interviews with, just you can see what life is like after/outside of Dream Job Inc?

      And as far as prestige goes, if you are working at a big company now, you might be able to be a much (relatively) bigger fish in a smaller pond, so it’s possible you could get an inflated title but less overall stress.

  32. NotMe*

    So I have learned we are going to be doing layoffs again. This time focused on the management ranks. I’ve made it through the last few rounds but am really starting to wonder if I want to stay if this is the new norm as the survivors have to take on more and more work.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Start looking. I worked at a law firm that might as well have been a factory because they churned and burned through employees. Every spring and then every winter they do mass layoffs (I was actually involved in one, but then brought back five weeks later), and it really wears on you coming to work every day not knowing if you’d even have a job by 4:00. I started looking after my first full year and, thankfully, was able to resign at my almost three year mark. But watching people get fired/quit day in and day out (the quitting was more frequent than the layoffs) really did a number on employee morale. Not to mention the firm’s perpetual brokeness being the reason for both – there was no way I was going to stay in that mess.

  33. Too big for work clothes*

    I have about one month left of my pregnancy, so I’m big and I’m uncomfortable. How much leeway can I get with my company’s dress code? Most of my maternity pants are getting tight and I can’t find any that fit comfortably now and still look professional. Professional looking shoes don’t fit well, even the few wide sizes I’ve been able to find in local stores. I wish I could wear maxi dresses and flipflops! But my work has a professional dress code, and it’s cold here.

    Does this need to be a conversation with my boss? With HR? Should I start going a little more casual and see if anyone says anything?

    1. fposte*

      I’d check with your manager. Come with a proposal that she can just say yes or no to rather than asking her “What’s okay to wear?” You want this to be an intentional thing and not a seeming slide.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Well, I’d say you’ve got a couple options.

      1.Have a convo with your boss about this. They might totally understand and say “do the best you can”
      2. Hope you don’t run into your boss and wear what’s most comfortable that you have

      Or find one of those yoga “dress” pants that are advertised. You might also be able to get away with tunic/dresses with leggings and flats. I think the key would be to accessorize.

      I know I was lucky that my boss had recently had a baby and I knew I could get away with whatever fit.

    3. Jen*

      When i was pregnant at that point, i just wore all black and hoped for the best. I definitely had some questionable days but no one called me out on it. I mean, nothing looked professional on me. Even professional clothes. And i was miserable.

    4. Mockingjay*

      When I was pregnant, I had this discussion with my supervisor. She had had a child the prior year, so she completely understood how expensive office-appropriate maternity clothes were. (This was 20+ years ago, when Casual Friday meant wearing khaki slacks. Jeans were banned, period.)

      We agreed that I could wear leggings (back then they looked more like pants, not skinny jeans), maternity tops, and tennis shoes most days; and business clothes (I had two decent dresses) on days I had meetings. It was a nice, affordable compromise.

    5. Meg Murry*

      At less than one month to go, I think most women get a pass into the “you are still here and you’re wearing something resembling clothes so you are winning.” I agree with the suggestion to just wear black and hope for the best. Do you wear dresses much? For the cold, you could probably get away with maternity leggings under a dress and throw a blazer or cardigan on top – even if the blazer or cardigan don’t really “fit” anymore it at least shows you are trying to look like you care. Add a long sleeved tissue tee under the dress if it’s sleeveless and/or you run cold.

      Do you meet with clients regularly? I think you probably also get more of a pass if you aren’t being seen by the biggest customer that day.

    6. Trixie*

      I feel dressier when adding a scarf or jewelry to the mix. Instantly looks more pulled together with minimal effort, plus scarf will add some warmth.

    7. Overeducated and underemployed*

      I had to wear a uniform, and the top was basically a tent, but the slacks got too tight by 6-7 months. I literally just had to cut the waistband. It was a HUGE relief, but only worked because the shirt hid it. Could you get away with mutilating your pants that way?

  34. SJ*

    My boss told me to get in touch with a friend of his who’s looking to hire someone for a position; I believe my boss spoke to him about me. The friend responded to my initial email quickly and asked me to send him a resume and writing samples, which I said I would do the next day (I had emailed him at home after work and my writing samples were all on my work computer). I sent him the materials on Wednesday and haven’t heard anything back yet.

    This isn’t so much of an “OMG why hasn’t he responded yet??” question — I know it’s hardly been any time at all. I’m more curious about how and when you should follow up with someone you were connected to and you’ve sent materials to in an “unofficial” capacity (meaning it was just a “send me your stuff” thing and not an official application due to a job posting). Should the situations be treated the same? I poked around the archives but didn’t see anything that specifically referenced this. Thanks!

    1. SJ*

      Forgot to add — my boss also told me that his friend is a total scatterbrain and kinda disorganized, so I do have a slight concern that he might miss my email altogether or something.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Honestly, I think your boss can answer that better than anyone here. Is it possible to ask him? If not, I would wait until next Wednesday.

  35. AV*

    I can’t figure out what’s wrong with me!

    So, I’ve been in my position for 11 months now and full time for 3. I generally like my job, but all of a sudden (like the last 2 weeks) I just feel so gloomy and depressed at work. I have no idea why!!! I just have no enthusiasm for anything here. I wake up refreshed in the morning, but somehow the energy just leaves me the second I walk into the building. What the hell is going on? Is it the weather?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Could be the weather/time of year! Have you experienced depression in any other situations? How do you feel on the weekends?

    2. JayemGriffin*

      It actually might be. There is such a thing as Seasonal Affective Disorder, where you basically get depressed when the days get shorter and your sunlight intake goes down. Are you feeling okay outside of work? If you’re not, I’d definitely talk to a doctor.

      1. Zillah*

        Yep – and even if it’s not full-blown SAD, you may still be getting a hit to your mood due to the lack of sunlight. It’s definitely worth looking into.

        It’s also possible that you’re just a little burned out – you said you’ve been FT for three months, right? You might still be adjusting to doing it FT rather than PT, particularly if you weren’t working multiple jobs before this one became FT.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Oh man, this sounds like it might be seasonal affective disorder. My coworker brought in a light that helps with it and she said it has made her life so much better. It looks like a lighted makeup mirror and just sits on her desk and she puts in on 30 minutes every morning. I don’t have SAD but I tend to get insomnia this time of year due to the weather/light changes.

    4. LQ*

      I have a light in my apartment that turns on with a timer when it is just before time to start getting up, and then it stays on until I’ve left for work. It turns on before I get home and turns off just as it’s about time to go to bed.

      This is like MAGIC FREAKING MAGIC. There are not enough words in the world to recommend this. It’s not a super bright light. It’s a light that’s more decorative than anything but it gives the space a decent amount of ambient light and with it working correctly, I feel good about getting up when my alarms goes off and I don’t want to go to sleep immediately when I get home. (Which is what happens without it.)

        1. LQ*

          The light itself is from ikea. It’s one with 2 bulb and a frosted panel in front with a painted decoration. The timer they don’t make any more, which is unfortunate, it does all this fancy stuff like know when daylight is and you can set different programs for the weekends. But there are all kinds of really cool lights where the timer or wifi is built into the bulbs, and that you can program from your phone. Which is definitely what I’d recommend at this point.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes, I have one of those, set for morning only. It makes it so, so much easier to get up. Mine has a dimmer feature so it gradually gets brighter in 3 stages. At this point, I actually get up the first time the alarm goes off – no snoozing!

        You can use whatever lamp, and the controller I have is GE. (For the dimming to work, you need to have dimming capabilities on both the lamp and the controller.) I use a pretty small lamp with a low watt bulb; it provides a soft light but isn’t enough to really light up the room.

    5. Winter is Coming*

      I’ve got the light, Vit D every day, and St. John’s Wort. The combination of the three seems to get me through.

  36. Adams*

    Somewhat ethical question… how long must you plan to stay when applying for a new job (details below)?

    I’m unhappy in my current job – it’s not horrible, but I’m constantly frustrated with lack or progress/work and there is no room for growth and it’s affecting my happiness at home, too. I’d like to look for other jobs and get back on my career path, but my husband and I would like to start trying for baby #1 in Jan/Feb. Ideally, once baby came, I’d work part-time or quit. In the unknown of just how long it would take to conceive – maybe right away but maybe much longer – do you think it would be okay to start a new job now?

    1. oldfashionedlovesong*

      As important as it is to plan for contingencies, I think in the end we can only operate on known variables. You may get pregnant as soon as you start trying, or you may not. At the same time, you may get a job offer from your first application, or (more likely) you may be looking for a while, which would be okay financially since you’re currently employed. There’s so many unknowns here, but here are the only knowns:

      1. You’re unhappy with your current job
      2. You’d like to look for other jobs and get back on your career path

      I say start looking, applying, and interviewing. And then in Jan/Feb, proceed with your family plans just as you wanted. However things fall out will be how they were meant to. Best of luck!

      (I should add that my perception comes from my context: I’m younger, single, and don’t want children, so my calculus may be different than other commenters. Only you can decide which variables are most important for you!)

      1. Alison with one L*

        My advice is exactly the same, and I am in a similar boat. I am trying to conceive, but my husband and I have decided that until we KNOW we’re pregnant, we’re going to make plans like we’re not. Because otherwise, we’ll be delayed in making babies AND making progress professionally.

        I say you go ahead with looking for a job because most likely you’ll be at your job for a year. Let’s assume you find a job and start working in January. Meanwhile you start trying in January. It takes most couples 3 months to get pregnant. If you work through your pregnancy, you will likely be at this job for a year or longer. I think that’s an appropriate amount of time that you can likely guarantee.

        1. Future Analyst*

          Totally agreed on this. Just like you don’t have the option to accept a job until you have an offer, you don’t have a future baby until you’re pregnant. Don’t plan around what might happen: on a day-to-day basis, work only with what is factual and true that day. Conceiving can happen immediately, or after months or years — operate under the knowledge that you are not currently pregnant. Once it happens, you can plan accordingly, but don’t make any decisions today based on what might happen months/years from now.

    2. Natalie*

      I think it’s fine to start looking. Yes, you might be on maternity leave a year from now, but you might not. If I were you, I’d hate to find myself not pregnant and still stuck at my unhappy job come November 2016.

      Cross each bridge as you come to it.

    3. NotMe*

      I think it really depends on how unhappy you are and how likely you think it is that you will be possibly leaving the workforce within a year. I am not a fan of taking a position when you know that it is highly likely you will be leaving it within a year as hiring and training someone is a big commitment for your hiring manager /company. That said, if you are so unhappy in your current job that is effecting your health or your personal life, it might be worth it knowing you could burn a bridge with an employer by leaving so quickly.

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      In your situation, I would not start a new job, mostly because of FMLA eligibility. You’d need to have worked there for a year or more before you’d qualify for parental leave (assuming that you’re in the U.S. and that the employer is large enough, etc., which are admittedly hefty assumptions). My inclination would be to find something new/interesting to work on at the current job and look forward to a light at the end of the tunnel sometime next year. You’d stand a better chance of getting a good reference and not have to learn a whole new job while dealing with life changes like pregnancy. If FMLA doesn’t apply, or you’re not concerned with being able to take a protected leave, then start searching for something better!

  37. A Manager Is Asking...*

    Regular going anon for this.

    I’m a middle manager, took a new job a couple of months ago. One of my direct reports is up for a promotion at the end of the year. I agree with my boss that he’s ready for a new job title (in my line of work, job titles often change to reflect someone’s greater experience with handling work, rather than radically new duties).

    I just found out that at this company, the promotion review cycle and the compensation review cycle are completely separate (and the latter isn’t really a “cycle”; it’s “whenever our corporate masters allow us to give out raises”).

    I feel effectively hamstrung as a manager by this. Workers at his level of experience who are good at their jobs are hot commodities in my field. I KNOW he’s getting phone calls from recruiters all the time. And I not only have to tell him, “You’re doing so great that we’re going to promote you, which does not come with a raise,” I can’t tell him WHEN a raise might be coming. I’m just not allowed to reward good people financially when ten other firms would be happy to snap him up? WTF?

    I want to have an honest talk with him when I give him his review, one in which I say that my hands are tied about motivating him with money, but if he wants to stay I will continue to do my best to help him have a good quality of life on our team (not a given by any means in this field). Is there anything else I can do to motivate someone in this situation? Because I think it stinks, and in his shoes I would leave in a hot second.

      1. A Manager Is Asking...*

        We were explicitly told that the two things happen at different times; the performance reviews happen regularly at scheduled times, and the raises happen at times when the Money Gods think the company is doing well enough to allow it. Of course when raise time happens, anyone who got promoted and stuck around would be first in line for a raise, but it was explicitly stated that I cannot promise a raise with a promotion.

        We were told just to respond with “they are separate processes,” as though that’s supposed to answer a promoted employee’s inevitable questions. Grrrr.

        1. MaryMary*

          I worked at a job where “the performance conversation and the compensation conversation should be separate discussions.” Which was bull, because the company didn’t do COL raises, so performance was the primary driver of compensation. I think it was supposed to give managers a dodge when an employee was doing a great job but the comp budget was frozen/tiny, but it just made conversations harder.

      2. Judy*

        At several of my former workplaces, promotion cycles were not tied to raise cycles. Promotion cycles were very random. But you still got both a salary bump with the promotion and then got a raise in the following year at the date of the annual raise.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Ugh, my office is notorious for this. We lose our superstars all the time because we promote them without raises or tell them they can’t be promoted because someone who has been here longer isn’t ready and they don’t want to cause waves by promoting X over Y. It’s so stupid and it’s the main reason we have a hard time keeping our fantastic junior staffers for longer than two years.

    2. SJ*

      Just coming from someone who is in his situation, unless he’s totally in love with your company, there’s probably not much you can do to keep him if you’re not going to give him a raise. I’ve had two years of glowing performance reviews with my boss saying how much he wants to keep me, talk of a new job title (and he has given me new responsibilities, which is nice), etc., but there’s a strong likelihood of no raise because the budget is tight (“but I don’t know for sure”), blah blah blah. It’s great I’m so valued, but I’m not making nearly what I’m worth, and without a guarantee of a raise, loyalty isn’t enough to keep me.

      1. A Manager Is Asking...*

        Yeah, I totally get that the end result is very likely that I don’t get to keep him — and, in fact, I plan to be very honest with him about what else is out there, because I think he should be able to make an informed decision rather than be BSed into the decision that my company would prefer.

        I’m just hoping there are other things I can put on the balance scales to make the decision less of a no-brainer for him. LQ has an excellent point — I haven’t *asked* him what else he might want besides $. I have some idea of what assignments he’d like and how he’d like to grow professionally, and I can help with that, but there may be other things like taking a class that he’d like to do.

      2. themmases*

        I agree. This happened to my partner and it puts the company in a negative light to everyone.

        My partner entered his company through support, which used to be a common way to train people and then give them a path to something more specialized. When they got a new division manager who wanted to keep people on support as long as possible (including lying to sabotage people’s transfers), pay was one thing that changed. Right before my partner got promoted from support manager to a specialized IT role, they instituted a policy that pay raises would lag promotions by 6 months. A small handful of other people were affected at the same time.

        Everyone at the company found out. His new boss made it clear he was mad about it but couldn’t change it, and ended up giving him a bigger raise when it finally came through. Coworkers and former coworkers have come up to my partner at happy hours and told him they heard what happened and he’s being taken advantage of and should leave ASAP. People have tried to poach him too.

        You can maybe compensate the individual by giving them a bigger bump later, or through training/career advancement. Or you could get lucky and something in their life makes it best for them to stay. But you can’t pay off everyone in the company who saw what happened and is wondering now whether it would be better to move up by moving out. That’s the real cost.

    3. LQ*

      What can you give him other than raises? There is a balance here. Some people are motivated soley by money, some people aren’t. Some people balance it out.

      More interesting projects? More training? Time off? Flex time? Software? Hardware?

      I think it’s not impossible to keep someone without giving them a raise but just saying you want to keep them and will work for them isn’t enough. They need to be someone it is possible to motivate with other things, and then you need to ask, listen, and do things.

    4. Bonnie*

      We just promoted someone without a raise but we were able to move him from a cubicle to an office at the same time. I think public recognition can go a long way but in the end he might leave anyway.

  38. JiraMaster*

    My company’s party planning committee listened to reason and now all employees’ significant others are invited to the holiday party, not just married spouses! Yay for inclusion!

  39. Camellia*

    I have a situation with a coworker that I can’t figure out how to handle. This coworker has been on the team for about six months, moved over from another team.

    To make a lame analogy, say we are working on a new building and part of the design is how to exit the building. We all agree that a door will be used.

    A few weeks later this coworker will say he doesn’t know how we plan to exit the building. Confusedly I will remind him that we had all decided to use a door. He will say he doesn’t understand how to use a door. Now I’m explaining to him how to use a door. When I ask him if he now understands and can we move forward, instead of answering, he will counter with something like how do we know that this is the best way to exit the building. Have we considered using a window? Or maybe we should be thinking about going out to the balcony, climbing over the rail, and dropping to the ground from there? And he continues to introduce ever more far-reaching questions like should this even be a building, should it instead be an airport or a tugboat. Remember, he helped design this building. And the door.

    He has done this repeatedly during the months we have been working on this project. He will start throwing flags on designs that were created by the team, including him, and approved the customer and that are now in development. It puts the team in turmoil and is a big time suck involving many meetings to get him around to where, okay, he finally “understands” again and we can start working again.

    We also have a newer manager (nine months) and this person is blaming me for this. That I am not putting in the effort to communicate and make this coworker understand. So I find myself struggling to keep my temper and sometimes failing when I’m forced to explain and explain and explain simple concepts and nonsensical suggestions.

    Aside from keeping a firm grip on my temper and a reasonable tone in my voice, any suggestions on how to handle/derail this type of behavior?

    1. LCL*

      Someone needs to flex some muscle and manage this guy. It should have been the manager who delegated it to you…
      Do you have enough authority to tell the engineer (he is an engineer, isn’t he?) that the group is following your plan? Does your manager? Can you and the manager meet with him jointly, and tell him that he gets too far off topic, and to follow your plan and manager wants it that way? Can you talk to manager one more time, and explain that it isn’t an issue of understanding, it is one of obstructionism?

      1. Camellia*

        Unfortunately I don’t have that authority and our managers are by role, not team. So my manager and co-worker’s manager are not the same person. However, my manager did delicately mention that I could go to coworker’s manager next time this comes up. Not something I ever envisioned having to do but may have to consider.

        1. Camellia*

          Oh, and when I did try to talk to my manager about understanding vs. obstructionism, she told me I was trying to avoid my responsibility to explain things until coworker understood.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, that sucks. If you can find a way to say it without sounding snippy, you can ask if that means clarifying things for Bob is a priority over Task B and Task C and if deadlines can be moved back to accommodate that priority.

    2. fposte*

      I was all ready with a response until I realized you’re not this guy’s manager. So I think new manager should be doing stuff here. Bob is clearly feeling a need for something he’s not getting–I don’t think it’s literally the information–but I don’t think you’re in a position to address that.

      Unfortunately, she’s made it clear she’s not going to. I would therefore consider two tacks with Bob. First, there’s documentation and reminder: “Bob, you approved this step on 11/08, and I know you would have considered it professionally and thoroughly before doing so. Is there a reason you didn’t raise this concern then?” Second, there’s a broader process approach: “Bob, it seems like you’re repeatedly finding concerns with the plans after the period when such concerns should be raised. What changes could we make to the process so that you have a better opportunity to raise your concerns when things are in their design stage?”

      And I’d consider saying diplomatically to the manager that you don’t think this really is about timely information and that Bob has larger process concerns that it’s not for you as a co-worker to address.

      1. Camellia*

        I like both these approaches and the scripts for them. I will need to mentally practice these so I’m prepared for the next time this happens; when he surprises me with these questions my default is the “WTF face”.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Remind him that he agreed to use the door when the decision was in process. Tell him that part of the job is making a decision and sticking with the decision. That is part of the job and that is what everyone else is doing here. Remind him that if he does this too much it might not look good.

      He is what I call “inconsolable”. You probably will not get him to stop waffling like this. You may need to keep your responses short and similar- keep repeating the same thing over and over. It’s not up to you to ensure he keeps his job, keep that in mind, also.

      1. Camellia*


        This is the perfect description! I couldn’t think of anything except ‘drama llama’ and that didn’t quite fit.

        Also, “keep your responses short and similar- keep repeating the same thing over and over”. I think this, combined with the other advice above, will definitely help me keep my temper and my job.

        Thanks! This is such a great community!

    4. J.B.*

      We have someone who is like this, who alas has all the power. In his case it is a power thing, and he cannot remember what decisions he made in the past. Document decisions, document along the way, and refer him back to the documentation. If you’re being placed in the double standard of continuing to explain things, just don’t. If you get blamed by mgr for not explaining things well enough, start ccing manager on all communication maybe?

    5. Jillociraptor*

      “That decision has already been made. We’re doing X now.” Repeat.

      In facilitation, it can be helpful to preface any discussion by explaining clearly what needs to happen — can input or feedback still be accepted, are you informing them of a decision, are you deciding division of labor, etc. It may not help with your run-arounder, but it enables you to use that catch phrase up there (“The decision has already been made. We’re doing X now.”) with impunity, and is probably a relief to your other teammates.

  40. KathyGeiss*

    Re: yoga at work

    We just received the agenda for an upcoming team meeting (~50 people or more) and on it includes yoga. I Like yoga but I’m not comfortable or interested in doing it with colleagues. The activity does not appear optional and another colleague checked, there are no alternatives.

    I also sort of feel the consequences for speaking up are a bit gendered and I can’t decide if that feeling is all in my head or based in reality.

    I sort of feel that if my male colleague speaks up, people will roll their eyes and say “ok. He doesn’t want to do yoga” but I’m worried that when I (I’m a woman) speak up people will assume it’s because I’m not comfortable with my body or something weird.

    Am I making false assumptions or is this a legit fear?

    Mainly, I’m opposed because I’m not comfortable doing an activity that gives my colleagues an opportunity to see each other in tight fitting clothing (which I view as yoga appropriate but not work appropriate) doing an activity that focuses on your body.

    And I’m a person that often enjoys “team building” activities.

    I’m too close to this, outside opinions would be helpful.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ick. I think your solution is that you’re having back problems, and your doctor has instructed you not to do certain exercises right now, including yoga. (I now hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me how great yoga is for back problems, as she is a constant yoga evangelist, but we will ignore her.)

      1. KathyGeiss*

        I may need to use this. I’m just dreading the “the instructor will provide alternate options!” As a response.

        I think I’m going to say something to my boss about being uncomfortable in the hopes thAt they will still consider changing it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          “My doctor was very clear that I need to clear specific exercises with her, so I won’t be able to participate.”

          But yeah, a straightforward “I’m not comfortable with this” is arguably better (although also arguably leaves you open to being told to suck it up and deal with it).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “If the instructor is going to be providing alternate options, I will need to know what those are so I can go over them with my doctor.”

        3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Could you be even less specific here about “health problems” – for example, “due to some health issues, I am not able to participate in yoga”. And then follow that up with “my doctor has specifically told me that yoga isn’t safe or appropriate at this point”.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      No, you’re not wrong that people might assume that, but 1) you can’t know, and 2) those are often the kinds of people who will find something wrong with you no matter what you do, so better that it’s standing up for yourself.

      Me, I’m constantly telling people never to assume. I’ve seen too much weird shit to take anything for granted. Sure, I make educated guesses when I know some of the facts, but I know they’re just guesses, and they tend to be based on my experience with that particular person or process, not on stereotypes or wishful thinking.

      1. Mickey Q*

        I can’t stand yoga. The only reason guys are there is to look at booty.

        This is not something you want in the workplace.

        1. dancer*

          That’s not true at all. We have yoga classes at lunch and the class composition is about 50-50 men and women. Most of the guys are there to improve their flexibility to avoid injuries or for therapy for old injuries.

    3. OriginalEmma*

      So what happens when someone falls and rolls their ankle doing tree pose? Or sprains a hamstring in warrior pose? How does the company plan to handle liability for physical activity that’s required as part of work? Because they are requiring you to engage in physical activity that’s so outside of normal workplace activity it’s in another galaxy.

      My company wouldn’t even allow us to have yoga instruction once a week for interested employees as part of workplace wellness. Liability, apparently.

    4. Sarah*

      Where I work we have yoga twice per week but it is specifically designed to be done in your work clothes without sweating so it’s a lot of poses done sitting in a chair (which are essentially stretches you can replicate at your desk if you want, I think some people find that helpful on non-yoga days) as well as a few standing poses using the chair or a wall. We also do tai chi sometimes – again in our work clothes although most people found the coordination required quite difficult. So – depending on your position in the office you might be able to make a case for very gentle chair yoga as a way to help staff develop improved daily wellness because it’s something they can do everyday at their desk for a short break. Otherwise I’d just opt out for medical reasons but perhaps offer to DJ the music or something if you are worried that not being involved at all might be construed as anti-teamwork. On my team I encourage people to feel free to be a cheering section (just sitting in chairs together so they can visit/team build there as well and also clap/yell encouragement as wanted) during physical activities so they can feel included if they have hidden disabilities or other reasons for not wanting to participate – not an ideal solution I know but the best I’ve come up with so far

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      Nothing to add to the excellent advice that’s already been given, just…

      Why? Why do people think this is a good idea? WHY?!

    6. Audiophile*

      Ugh, I got sucked into a yoga at work thing. If I recall correctly, they practically made it mandatory. I worked at school at one point and the kids went home maybe a 30 to 45 minutes, before the staff’s day officially ended. They held the yoga session during this period of time. I tried to get out of it (I have very mild CP and scoliosis) and truth be told I just have very little interest in yoga. We weren’t forced to change or anything, I think I did it in the pants I’d worn to work that day. I know some people changed for comfort though. I’m sorry I don’t have any useful advice for you to get out of it, but I truly sympathize.

  41. Semi anon today*

    How do you decide on pursuing unneeded education? I wouldn’t say it’s frivolous entirely. It’s in my field, and it’s a top school. . .but it’s a PhD program, so it is a huge time commitment and because I would be doing distance/part-time, there is some personal financial investment (nothing I can’t cash flow).

    This is kind of the road not taken for me, and while I don’t really see myself becoming a second career academic, I could reposition myself in my current career to something that’s more interesting.

    I’m kind of at a lull in my life right now, as my oldest son is graduating high school and my younger one isn’t into any extracurriculars that involve me driving him around. My current work isn’t so interesting that I want to add 10 more hrs/wk to it, and I’m not really into “girls nights” or volunteering. I’m not really looking at it simply because I’m bored, but I think I finally have the time to do it. I still worry it’s a little selfish of me to do it. I could self-study instead, or just take a few courses. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person, though, and I like to commit to things fully. (And like I said, there is still a little bit of an unfulfilled goal here, from when I was starting out in college.)

    Any one else have a hard time investing in/committing to themselves?

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Would you be happy doing anything else?
      -If yes, don’t do it.
      -If no, map out a plan for how you will be able to afford the time and money needed to accomplish it. If you can’t come up with a workable plan, don’t do it.

      1. Semi anon today*

        Thanks for your questions. . .Interesting to pose this to myself. People deal with tragedies like deceased children and do become happy again, so I hate to think that I’m so not resilient that I couldn’t be happy unless I did this. On a smaller scale, I’m happy enough at work now, but I don’t see myself being professionally satisfied on my current path for another 25 years.

        I think I’m reaching for the peak of Maslov’s hierarchy. It’s how I can be the best, most happy me.

    2. squids*

      Don’t worry that it might be selfish! It’s not! You’ll be adding to the knowledge in your field (in the world?), meeting new people, will be better equipped to do more significant projects, will be able to be a role model to students, setting an example of perseverance and achievement for your kids … all that sounds not-selfish to me.

      That said, there’s also nothing wrong with self-study or individual courses to ease into what might be a huge change.

    3. fposte*

      For most competitive PhD programs, they’re going to want to see a lot more than the level and nature of interest you express here for admission; one possibility is to let the school decide for you, I suppose, but in general personal enrichment is going to get you into the “no” pile on the first cut.

      Is there anything like a Certificate of Advanced Study from the same program? That seems like a better bet.

      1. Semi anon today*

        Well, I may have given an impression that I’m less interested than I am. It’s not so much that I’m doing it for lack of better things to do. I was trying to show why I have time now and didn’t before, as part of the selfishness weighing-in.

        I didn’t go into the details to preserve some anonymity. The degree is well-aligned with my field and professional experience. I do consulting work now, and the degree and research would be in econometric modeling, which I have very cursory experience with but not enough to do professionally without more experience and/or education. It’s not an econ degree, though. The program only has 4 core courses and the rest is research and self-designed. I consider it a bit more personal enrichment than professional advancement because I’m already mid-career, and I don’t *need* it. The particular degree field is most typically seen at the masters level, so an actual academic career options are fairly limited, so I feel like it comes down to me wanting to better myself and professional use is a byproduct. I certainly will emphasize the professional interest in my application, but from a personal evaluation, I can’t honestly look at this as advancing my career.

        There is a certificate, but I have already taken the courses as part of my masters from somewhere else. I’ve really already taken 3 of their 4 core courses, so I’m not sure how that will play out since I didn’t take them at their institution.

        They require me to find an advisor before I can apply, so I think that will mitigate what you bring up as concerns.

        1. fposte*

          I like the find-an-advisor-in-advance thing; it’s at least tacitly encouraged in many PhD programs. That person will probably help you frame the value of the program to you, too (you’re still indicating no particular interest in research, which would be a red flag for us, but I don’t know your field).

          I like having a PhD, but I don’t think it holds the value in presence that you’re perceiving in its absence. Once you have it, it’s just another thing around the house, really.

          1. Semi anon today*

            Do you mean no interest in doing the research post-PhD would be the concern, or that I haven’t indicated my interests here on this post?

            To clear up the holes in the information, the degree is in a systems engineering program, so returning to industry is planned for a lot of people, compared to where a humanities PhD may have a strict academic research path post-grad. The distance degree also requires buy-in from your employer, so your research has to be of some benefit to them.

            I’m not discounting what you’re saying. I’m hearing you and not wanting to persuade you to change your advice, just trying to provide more information to my situation. I thought I might not fit the profile of the current students because of my age, but I saw one is 12 years older than me (there are only a handful anyway!) I have good GRE scores and my past academic record is stellar. The only place I’m not awesome is my actual work. : ) I don’t have OTJ research experience, and you’re right, it could appear that I’ve got way too much experience in the wrong thing for them.

            1. fposte*

              No, that’s fine; I know that it’s not a one-size-fits-all, just trying to give you a little perspective from my experience of the program side. On the research, I mean we want to know what research you’re thinking about doing during the program and who it would be advised by; that’s essentially what you’d be “hired” for here so we want to know about fit. We also want to know where it will take you afterwards if it’s not a usual program path. Basically, it’s a big commitment for the program as well, so we want to know that it makes sense to make that commitment to you over other applicants.

    4. themmases*

      This is something I’ve thought about a lot because I left a full-time job last year to be an MS student in a related field. I’m applying to PhD programs now. I’m really happy with the move and actually wish I had done it sooner.

      My best preparation was to research the career path obsessively. I worked with a lot of people who had similar degrees (usually either an MPH or an MS/PhD in statistics) and talked to them– or just LinkedIn stalked them if I didn’t really know them– to see what the degree did for them. I checked job sites regularly for keywords related to the skills I thought I would add. I looked into all the possible jobs and their outlooks according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It helped me be confident in choosing this degree, rule out some others, and focus on how I want to spend my time while I’m here. I decided to pursue the PhD based on enjoying and being good at my work here, and liking the looks of the jobs I get email alerts about.

      There are probably several degree or certificate options to get the specific skills you’re interested in. I think in most fields it’s not a good idea to go for a doctorate, particularly a PhD, unless you are interested in research– or confident of your other job prospects and willing to act like you are. The dissertation can be all-consuming and it’s the phase during which many people drop out with little to show for their effort. If it’s the coursework/added skills you really care about, a second masters degree or a certificate is probably a better fit. Some fields also have more professionally oriented doctorates, like the DrPH in public health.

    5. AnonAcademic*

      To be blunt, being at a lull in your life is not a motivation for doing a Ph.D. that is likely to resonate with admissions committees nor is it a good starting point for the 5 year marathon of doctoral study. I just got my Ph.D. in May. It nearly broke me and I am only feeling emotionally recovered now, 6 months later. And I am a best case scenario – great advisor/program/classmates/dissertation committee, got through my defense with very minimal revisions. I’ve seen other people successfully finish and then spend the year post-Ph.D. fairly depressed, and many others leave in year 3 or 4 because they’re totally burnt out. A former Ph.D. classmate of mine went back to school after her children left home. I wouldn’t say she regrets it, in that it’s a great accomplishment that she finished – but I do know it was very very hard for her (as it is for all of us). It can be truly soul-destroying to try to finish a Ph.D. It’s not something you do as a hobby or sideline thing. If you’re going part time, you’re looking at probably 6 to 7 years to finish (optimistically). There is cost, time, and the damage to your relationships – you will not have emotional bandwidth for anything or anyone when you’re in the push to finish, which for me was “only” 3-4 months but for others stretches out to 6+ months to several years.

      I routinely tell people not to go for a Ph.D. unless you feel nothing else will

      1. AnonAcademic*

        (sorry premature post) I routinely tell people not to go for a Ph.D. unless you feel nothing else will get you to your goals. If your goal is to feel more engaged and enriched there are a million better ways than a Ph.D. IMHO

  42. oldfashionedlovesong*

    A few weeks ago I applied to a position perfect for me at a very small consultancy in my hometown. Per instructions, I sent my materials directly to their receptionist’s email address. I’ve heard nothing back. I’m used to no follow-up when I apply through automated systems or to very large entities, and I’m usually good at following Alison’s advice to put a submitted app out of my head and move on, but I’m a little surprised at not having heard back from a ~15-person office where I know an actual support staffperson is supposed to have received my email. Part of it is that I know I’m really an ideal fit for the position, and this is a small enough town that I can’t imagine there’s been more than 5 or 10 applicants– so in that context I’m starting to wonder whether my email even made it to the receptionist’s primary inbox.

    In this situation, would any of you commenters send a follow up email? Or should I really put it out of my head and move on?

    1. JM*

      I would desperately want to send a follow-up email or make a quick phone call to the receptionist, but I know that is a no-no….

      1. oldfashionedlovesong*

        Yes JM that’s exactly where I am. My fingers are practically itching to start an email draft or pick up the phone, but then the part of my brain’s that been conditioned by AAM makes me back away. I think even one person confirming I shouldn’t do it is my answer :)

    2. Intern Wrangler*

      Do they specifically say “no phone calls?” If not, I might follow up with a phone call. I had someone call me once, and her application materials never made it to me. She was one of the best hires I ever made.

  43. Lizzy*

    It has been almost two weeks since I was laid off, but I am already doing an awesome contract job at a major foundation in my city and I am currently interviewing for a few positions. As I said in my post last week, I am mostly relieved about my lay off. I do feel bitter about certain situations that occurred while at that organization and I am still in the job loss grieving stage, but overall I am better off. I have been job hunting since the summer and it was coming to the point where I woke up feeling ill every morning, dreading to get out of bed. I have been energetic every morning since my lay off.

    However, I can’t stop worrying about my ex-coworkers.

    I have been in contact with a colleague I was extremely close with, as well as my supervisor. Naturally, morale has been low since I was let go. My colleague, who I use to go to lunch together and hang outside of work, misses me a lot; my ex supervisor, who personally hired me for my position and was mentoring me before she left for maternity leave, feels horrible guilt over this. And since my lay off was related to poor financial decisions made by that organization’s incompetent board, they are likely worried about their job security. Plus, my supervisor’s once strong relationship with the Board President has gone to hell.

    Has anyone been in this situation? Were you still worried about ex-coworkers after leaving or being let go from a horrible organization?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think that is pretty normal to worry like this. Our coworkers become a good chunk of our lives, we see them daily and watch their lives unfold. We know their stories and we understand the way their jobs impact their lives.
      So, yeah. It’s logical that we’d worry about them.

      It might be helpful to go for coffee with a couple of them. OTH, it might not be helpful- no way to know how this would go. You might decide to get together with a few of them just to touch base. You could go once and when you come back decide if you ever want to do that again.

  44. ButNowAnon*

    Has anyone had any experience at completely changing fields and industry? I work for a large nonprofit doing Teapot PR, but the org’s policies and my under-market pay (what are raises? don’t you love our cause?) have led me to look elsewhere (but I’m being very picky, as the benefits and familiarity are both plusses). I’ve been here a little over 2 years and previously did a lot of contract work, so I’m looking for stability. At the same time, I need to start moving up in both responsibility and pay.

    I interviewed for a Teapot Digital Marketing position for a small private company that operates on a start-up mentality, although from what I can see they are fairly stable. But in speaking with me, the CEO decided I’d be better for a new Teapot Ops Manager position, expanding the product into new markets and overseeing process, logistics and inventory. Total pivot, but I’ve always been interesting in this kind of thing. Just not sure I have the aptitude.

    The money doesn’t seem great (it would be break-even) but the opportunity is exciting. I’m worried, though, that I don’t really have any experience in this field and that what I’m feeling now is more the result of my overall “bleh”ness about where I currently work.

    I think I’ll get an offer next week. I’m truly torn. Has anyone made this sort of leap? Did it work out for you?

    1. misspiggy*

      I’m struggling to understand why you’re interested in this job if it’s no more money, not a field you’d seen yourself working in, and as a start up may not have the security you’re looking for. Would you be better off waiting to see what else comes up?

    2. Vancouver (not BC) Washington (not DC)*

      Went from being a drafter/detailer for commercial construction to a Biomedical Engineering Technician. It’s great! The hardest part has been going from very good & knowledgeable to “what’s that?”. Literally asking “what is that”. :-P

      I had been looking for a new career for awhile before I settled on BioMed. So I had already figured out what I wanted to do, what I was willing to do and what I could deal with. That’s the big thing. What will you be spending most of your day doing? Can you do that for the next few years?

      Good luck!

  45. Beancounter in Texas*

    I got a new job! I’m super excited. It’s been a while since I was the New Employee, though. Refresh my memory of “don’t do this when you’re new” things.

    1. Red Wheel*

      Don’t be rude/condescending to the admins/support staff.
      Convey your enthusiasm at being there.
      Don’t bad mouth anyone. Including old job.

    2. Natalie*

      Don’t make a gazillion improvement suggestions.

      Don’t bring an entire box of decorate stuff for your cubicle on your first day.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        Good one. I’m prone to suggest changes without seeing why things are done a particular way first. My new strategy is to write it down in a book and wait three months.

      2. Felicia*

        Also related, but don’t criticize the way things are without suggestions, the last new person who did not last long started doing that her first day.

    3. TB*

      Assume everyone you work with is married to, related to, or dating someone else you work with. Or maybe that’s just at my employer. ;-)

    4. Bonnie*

      Don’t talk about how things were done at your last job. Even if the process was better. Make the suggestion but don’t make it about your last job.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        I believe I know what you mean – the passive aggressive, “we did this better/differently at my last job.” I’m changing industries, so it won’t be an apples to apples comparison, but I’m also returning to a paperless environment from a paper-ful environment. I’ll have comments in my head, but it’ll be fodder for friends, not my new coworkers.

  46. Lucky*

    Strategies for chronic interrupters & (for lack of a better word) mansplainers, go!

    Seriously, someone on my team (formerly my manager, now on same level) constantly interrupts me during team meetings to explain to me what I am reporting, when he doesn’t know what I’m reporting and would realize that if he didn’t interrupt me. Worse, two others have picked up his habit, so that at the last all-team meeting, my report on developments in a project I’m lead on was interrupted so many times, I literally could not finish a sentence. And no one knew what I was trying to report – a totally new development.

    My usual method is to simply keep talking until the interrupter stops, but this isn’t working. I’ve also taken to listening to his mansplaining and calmly responding “that’s not what I was talking about” or “yes, I know that. I’m trying to report on X other thing” but none of this is working. Short of lobbing a stapler at his head, what do I do to stop this?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I’ve had luck* with calmly calling people like that out. Something like “Hey Wakeen, please hold your questions until I’m done so that I can get through this, thanks.” (And then, “Oops, you interrupted me again!” for subsequent times.)

      Then take a lot of deep breaths.

      *Granted, in personal relationships, not at work.

      1. LCL*

        One strategy is always have a written agenda for your meeting. These can be done quickly via email and printed. Give everyone a copy, when things go off topic you say you want to drag things back to the topics listed.

      2. Sally Sparrow*

        This was going to be my advice as well. I would be very blunt with him so he knows what he is doing is not socially appropriate.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Yes, be blunt! Using the word “interrupt” I think carries a certain social shame, more so than just asking him to wait or anything.

    2. Jubilance*

      I was going to suggest that you keep talking, but I see that isn’t working.

      Have you also tried calling out what he’s doing right in the moment? “Bob, you continue to interrupt me and it’s rude. Not only are you rude, but you’re also incorrect. Please stop.” Repeat as necessary. I’d probably also keep talking as well. And ooh that crap really grinds my gears, I sympathize with you!

      1. Zillah*

        Yeah, this would probably be my tactic, too. If nothing else, it might discourage others from following his poor example.

      2. KR*

        I film meetings for local municipal government. We have a selectmen who is a chronic interrupter, especially if the person he’s interrupted is female so one thing the members has been doing is saying very evenly to him, “Wakeen, I’m not finished.” or “Wakeen, please let me finish. I’m not quite done.” as soon as he starts. The even tone and lack of emotion bounces it back to him and makes him look unreasonable.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      “I’ve got a few things to explain here so if you would save comments and question until the end I can address them then.”

      Also are you standing up and addressing the group? This might make it more obvious that you are in charge.

      Talk to the main culprit (outside of the meetings) and tell him that he needs to stop interrupting you. It’s not productive and he’s set an example that other are following, now nothing is getting across.

      Or just come in with a nerf gun and start shooting when you get interrupted.

      1. Zillah*

        Or a little squirt water bottle – like the kind you use on pets. I’ve never really seen it work on pets, but maybe it’ll prove more effective if you squirt water on the mansplainers every time they start to interrupt you!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      One thing that works better one-on-one, but can sometimes work in group settings, is to just wait until everyone is quiet for 2-3 seconds before you start talking again, and then be very clear (but calm and non-confrontational) about getting the discussion back on track. For example, “Bob, I know you’re working on the teapot spout redesign, but I was talking about the teapot lid fitting issue. So, as I was saying, the lids….”

      I know this can waste a lot of time, but when people interrupt like that they are often doing so because they’re impatient, and sometimes this prods them to start being more careful with wasting time with their digressive interruptions.

    5. fposte*

      When you say “None of this is working,” do you mean it’s not retraining them or it’s not enough to get you space to finish? Because I don’t think you’re going to get them to behave differently; all I think you can do is carve out a space in there.

      I like Jubilance’s and Master Bean Counter’s suggestions: preemptive address and curt shutdown when it doesn’t work.

    6. xarcady*

      They are trying to run your meeting. You need to take back control.

      As mentioned, just tell them to stop talking. “I’ll take questions after I’ve finished.”

      Have a sheet of paper in the middle of the table. Call it the “parking lot.” Have them write down, in silence, their ideas, and say you will get back to them on that. “Hey, interesting idea, but not the topic we’re discussing now. Write it down on the parking lot sheet.”

      And if all else fails, I go with subtly embarrassing them. Tell them once to stop talking and let you finish (nicely, of course), so that everyone in the room hears you, and knows you know they are trying to divert your meeting. The next time one of them starts talking, you stop talking. Take a slightly aggressive stance, like put your hands on your hips. If you can raise just one eyebrow, that helps, too. Then just stare at the talker. Usually, they get the message and stop talking.

      1. fposte*

        And if you’re assessing the situation correctly, I think it can be valid to point out the gendered nature of the problem. “We’re being a group that lets the men talk and interrupts the women–let’s not be that, okay?”

      2. KR*

        The subtle embarrassment is my favorite. If someone interrupts me while I’m trying to say something, my go-to tactic is to immediatly stop talking, fold or re-position my hands and stare at them with that I’m-not-angry-with-you-I’m-PISSED-at-you-smile. That way everyone around me notices that I was interrupted by my body language.

    7. Lily in NYC*

      Ugh. Hold up your hand to him (like a traffic cop does when he wants someone to stop) and keep talking when he does it. Or, hold up your hand, give him a glare and say “please wait, I’m not finished”. He’s being an ass so I wouldn’t worry about being super-polite.

      1. LCL*

        Be careful though, know your office culture. The traffic cop gesture in office settings makes me want to overturn tables and throw chairs. I have never had it used on me so I guess I am doing something right, but when I have seen it used on others I thought it was very disrespectful.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Even if it’s used on someone who is the one being disrespectful? To me it’s kind of like self-defense.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, sometimes even then–it can come across as being really aggressive. Not saying it shouldn’t ever be used, just that it’s good to be mindful of possible effects when you’re planning.

    8. OriginalEmma*

      “Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?” is my favorite snarky response to interrupters.

    9. Anon for this comment*

      Just to look at it from a different perspective, be sure you are speaking from a point of commanding the room. You may be doing this already, in which case I say go ahead and throw that stapler! However, if they are talking right over you, be sure you are standing up (as someone else pointed out), speaking clearly, in a well-modulated voice and at a volume sufficient to be heard. Higher pitched or softer voices (whether female or male) do not carry as well, especially with background noise. Make occasional eye contact, especially with the interrupters. Be sure your presentation is concise and to the point and try to leave out any speech mannerisms (um, uh, like, you know, etc.). They may be trying to force you to wrap it up. I also think some of the “formerly my manager, now on same level” dynamics may be coming into play here, and this team member is forgetting he does not outrank you any more. If the rude behavior continues, perhaps try talking to the offender privately, after the meeting. He may not be totally aware of his behavior, which is probably more of a personality thing (especially if he interrupts others) than a gender thing.

    10. Bonnie*

      Have you considered enlisting the help of others in the meeting. I would be annoyed if I was in this meeting because interrupting you is making the meeting last longer and wasting my time. If asked I might be willing to help curb the interruptions during the meeting or be part of an intervention outside of a meeting to help make it better.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I am not clear if you are running the meeting or someone else is running the meeting. So I am trying to think of things that you can do either way.

      One thought I had is before you even start your report, preface your report with this comment or similar: “I have noticed that we have several people who enthusiastically interrupt my report each meeting. I am asking everyone to hold your comments/questions/concerns UNTIL I finish my report. I will let you know when I am done with my full report and then we can discuss what is on your mind.”

      This sets the stage. I can almost predict Bob will interrupt, because Bob does not think you could possibly mean HIM. You stop him by saying, “Bob, I just said that we can discuss comments/concerns when I am DONE reporting. I am not done yet.” If he interrupts a second time, you can go ahead and say “Bob, I have asked you not to interrupt. You are interrupting, again.”

      If this does not work, a) ask the meeting leader if you have the floor or not OR b) if you are the meeting leader, tell Bob he does not have the floor and he needs to wait for his turn.

    12. Ultraviolet*

      My blood pressure rose just reading this, ugh. Suggestions:

      After 1-2 interruptions, you could say, “I’m glad you’re all so interested in my work on X, but all these interruptions are making our conversation really inefficient. I want to address your concerns, but it will work better if I talk uninterrupted for a few minutes and then pause to take any questions.”

      Or “Hey, do you realize that I have literally been unable to finish a sentence during this meeting? It’s a pretty frustrating and inefficient way to inform you of my work on X. We’ll all be better off if the interruptions are less frequent.”

      Or “I’m concerned that we’ve spent a lot of time during my reports addressing questions that aren’t really relevant or even applicable. I think it’s because my reports tend to get interrupted so frequently that the conversation gets sidetracked and it’s hard for everyone to put the information in context or even remember which parts are true! In order to keep this from happening again, I want to take questions a little less frequently. Don’t worry, I’ll pause for questions regularly and I’ll be happy to address them then. But I need to get more information out than I’ve previously been able to.”

      Then when they interrupt again (of course they will!) you can say, “I’ll take questions in a minute, but for now I’ll keep talking.” Then do keep talking, and do pause every so often for questions.

      Or in response to one interruption, you could say, “That’s not really a concern/problem/correct. It sounds like I need to get this whole explanation out at once, and then if any of your objections still apply we’ll talk about them.” I have successfully used that one to buy a few uninterrupted sentences.

      (I guess I’m assuming that in your workplace culture, some interruptions are acceptable, and it’s just the frequency and mansplaining that you need to stop. If that assumption is wrong, I’m not sure what to do.)

      1. Ultraviolet*

        I take that last paragraph back–if wanting to give the whole report uninterrupted is reasonable in your workplace culture, then just follow Not So NewReader’s advice! It’s perfect.

    13. oranges & lemons*

      This is so annoying. I would be tempted to turn it around on him: “Fergus, I think you’ll have less trouble understanding my report if you take the time to listen without interrupting.”

      1. Mander*

        I love this.

        I’d be tempted to just say “excuse me, I wasn’t finished speaking” as frostily as possible. In real life I’d probably just find myself quietly fuming.

  47. Faith*

    I’d like to hear people weigh in on this ethical dilemma with which I am dealing. I have been casually looking for a new job for quite some time, and I am currently interviewing with a company that seems very promising. However, their interview process is very drawn out and the hiring manager is known to hire only “the best of the best”, which means a) she will be talking to multiple candidates; b) I will be competing against a group of highly qualified people and my chances of getting this position are very far from being certain; c) I will likely not know one way or the other until the second half of December at the earliest.
    Even before I started looking for a new job, I have requested a couple of days off around Christmas. Plus, my entire office is shut down between Christmas and New Years, even though we are expected to be available via phone or email. Everyone really treats it as a (paid) vacation. At the same time, once January rolls around we get super busy. So, here’s my dilemma. Assuming I do not hear from the hiring manager before my December vacation, I will simply take my vacation as scheduled. However, what do I do if they get back to me mid-December and make me an offer? Is it unethical of me to take my vacation, and then give my two weeks notice when I come back in January (obviously, my vacation would not count against those two weeks)? Or am I under an obligation to work through the remainder of the year to get all of my open projects ready to transition to whoever will assume my role? Even if it means I am the only person at the office?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know what kind of industry you’re in, but assuming you do get an offer in mid-December, do you know that the company will want you to necessarily start right away? Would it be possible, for example, to say “I’m excited to work at ________. I have a few projects I’d like to help my colleagues transition. I’d like to start at the end of January”?

      I interviewed for a job once that wanted me to start in March, but I couldn’t start until June. They wanted me enough, though, that they were willing to wait. Frankly, if I were a hiring manager, I’d be impressed that you were considerate of your former company and team (because I’d take that as an indication that’s how you’d treat my company and team, should you end up leaving us too).

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Yep! I would appreciate your professionalism and courtesy towards the team you’re leaving. I may not be able to grant you an entire month of notice, but I would be inclined to find a way to make something work.

        (Be prepared for the answer to be no, however. When I started NewJob, I asked for three extra days notice so that I could wrap up work with an important colleague who would just be getting back from vacation. NewBoss denied that request, which made transitioning very difficult because I had zero overlap with my colleague from the moment I gave notice to the moment I left.)

      2. Faith*

        Yes, I know that this particular employer would want the new person to start at the beginning of the year.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t think that’s unethical. What I don’t like is when someone resigns and then takes two weeks of vacation AFTER they resign (meaning they aren’t around to tie up loose ends before they leave and they create so much work for us) – it’s happened here a few times and those people tend be viewed negatively (one guy’s new job didn’t work out and tried to come back here and my boss laughed in his face).

    3. themmases*

      I don’t think you’re under any particular obligation to skip some vacation just in case you get an offer.

      If you’re able to do it, it’s nice to start making an effort to document well and organize things once you know you’re job searching. At the last job I left, I started a manual on how to be me once I knew I would leave but before I had a reason to give notice. I also started doing little things like cleaning up shared drive folders, catching up on filing, turning things in early that would be due during my transition, etc. I didn’t finish it (I did a lot of different things), but the most important parts were there by the time I left and it was still very appreciated.

  48. NGL*

    It’s been a rough week. Husband lost his job this week, after being on the shortest PIP process I ever saw (three weeks between the very first mention of problems and letting him go – a month before his manager sat down with him had been his six month review, and everything was going wonderful then! No clue what changed, other than she wasn’t a great manager overall. But I digress). They’re giving him severance, and paying out his vacation days, and we have a nice savings + my well-paying job…but it’s such a blow. His confidence in himself is totally shot, I’m stressed out but trying to hide it because I’m trying to support him, and, of course, the holidays aren’t far away.

    Fingers crossed a new opportunity pops up for him soon.

    1. blue_eyes*

      That stinks. My husband went through something similar recently, so I know how frustrating it is. I hope he finds something soon.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      What a crappy manager, wow. I am sorry this happened to your hubby. Good vibes heading out to the both of you. May this turn around and your holidays be bright!

  49. Sally Sparrow*

    My work had a huge event last night (over 400 people came!). I didn’t have an assigned role until after the program started, so I was told to just mingle with people. Terrifying for someone with social anxiety and intimidating since a lot of the people are very important in the area. I’d also never done anything like it before. But I pulled through and chatted up about a dozen people over the cocktail hour and came out unscathed. It feel a little liberated/empowered now that it is done.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Woooooo! That is something I would not have wanted to do either. Good on you for stepping up to the challenge and overcoming it!

  50. JayemGriffin*

    Question for the group: how do you stay motivated and enthusiastic when working on projects for persistently negative people? I maintain our new HR/payroll system, which replaced an ancient, clunky system with weak security. I’ve spent a year and a half of my career implementing and supporting this new system, and I’m really proud of it. Most of our company likes the new system and is patient and understanding while we’re still figuring some parts out. However, some people despise it completely and take it out on me and my colleagues. When I have to deal with these employees, I find myself procrastinating and generally caring less about their issues. It’s really hard to maintain my usual motivation and high standards when I’m dealing with someone who is not going to be happy no matter what I do. I really love my job, and I strive to do well, but these folks are draining. Have any of you encountered a similar problem, and how do you deal with it?

  51. Snellbells*

    Hi all!

    I’m starting a new position next week (thanks in no small part to AAM’s advice and many commenters’ wisdom!!) And I’m very excited to be moving into the nonprofit development/fundraising world.

    Some discussions in the comments of a post this week made me realize there are a ton of fundraisers that comment here, and I’m hoping for some advice. For those involved in the non-profit development world – is there anything you wish you knew as you started out? Any tips or tricks that have been helpful? Any pitfalls to avoid in the field?

    A little more about me, I’ll be a development associate at a medium sized non-profit, kind of a catch-all position, I’ll be helping with events, donor relations, donor database, a little grant editing, a little bit of everything it sounds like. I’ve previously had a development internship at a small non-profit, have been working in a different role at a non-profit for 2.5 years, and am hoping development turns into a career path for me.

    Thank in advance!!

    1. Kairi*


      I’m an not anything close to an expert, but I did a little bit of fundraising in college. The thing that helped me the most was trying to find ways your organization/cause may resonate with the people you are reaching out to. This will not only help you get donations, but you may also find people who would like to volunteer as well.

    2. misspiggy*

      Congratulations! A lot of your work could be in bending the donor’s and the organisation’s priorities to match, so that a funded piece of work is enough of a compromise between donor and programme priorities to keep your organisation on mission. And then making the compromises invisible to the donor, so they feel they have won outright.

  52. Natalie*

    Tips for staying calm in tense/frustrating conversation that is also basically pointless?

    My boss has this new habit of mentioning vague “complaints” from 2 of my co-workers about me, but cannot or will not provide specifics when I ask. He does want me to “do better” and “repair the relationship”, which I’m somehow supposed to do without knowing WTF the problem is. (The two co-workers in question also don’t respond when asked, so… yeah. I’m job searching.)

    I wrote down some phrases to remember on an index card (“Can you be more specific?” “What do you want me to do with this information?” and so on) which might help, maybe? Any other suggestions?

    1. LoFlo*

      I feel for you. I have had the same conversation with my former manager from hell, and basically he doesn’t have your back and is too lazy to ask you your version of events, or tell your co-workers that their issues are non-issues.

      If the issue is related to the way the work is being done, can you have a meeting to discuss the process? Since you say these are phone conversations, are your co-workers picking up on something with your phone voice that just rubs them the wrong way or the timing of your calls?

      1. Natalie*

        The remote co-workers and I mostly work through email, actually. It’s my boss that loves phone calls. Mostly that’s relevant because it means I don’t have to compose my face during these conversations. :)

        (As far as these co-workers, if I wanted to stay I might be more inclined to figure out a long term solution, but I really don’t care to spend the energy on that right now when I need it for job hunting. This isn’t the only reason I’m leaving, so even if I could get it resolved I would still be looking.)

        1. some1*

          Is there any chance there may be an opening in an email thread with the coworkers. like, “Thanks fo ryour help on these TPS reports, is there anything I can be doing on my end that makes this easier?” or somehing like that?

    2. OriginalEmma*

      “Without specifics, I cannot address the problem because I don’t know what is going wrong. When you’re ready to give me more details, I’ll be happy to work on solutions.”

      1. fposte*

        That’s a really hard thing to say without sounding snippy, though, which is not recommended. It also has the unintended effect of making it sound like those co-workers have a good point.

        I’d stick with the “I’ve reached out to them and am adding helpful language to my communications; I’m hoping that will make them more comfortable, and if you have any specific feedback I hope you’ll share it with me.”

      2. legalchef*

        you should add in something like “… I don’t know what is going wrong or even if their complaints/criticisms have merit.”

    3. Bonnie*

      How about turning it back on him a little? Can you tell me what changes you recommend that I make to correct this situation?

      1. Natalie*

        I did, that’s when I got “do better” as a suggestion.And snapped back a bit along the lines of “what kind of advice is that? Do better? That’s not actionable.”

        I appreciate the suggestions, all, but they’re more focused on mending the interactions with this team. Maybe I didn’t explain it well. Basically, this is more of a “your manager/this team sucks and isn’t going to change” situation andit’s futile and unhealthy for me to keep hitting my head against that wall. But the urge is very strong – maybe if I beat them with my forehead in exactly the right way, they’ll see reason! – and I’m having trouble letting that tendency go.

        1. Ultraviolet*

          I think the suggestions are focused that way because one of the only sensible options is to tell your manager, “I’m trying X and Y now to repair the relationship.” So even if you’re not actually concerned about the relationship, trying to improve it so that you can tell your manager what you tried could help.

          If you want to try to get more information out of him, you could try asking either/or questions. “Do you think the problem is in the work I’m handing off to my co-workers? Or is it more about the style of our interactions?” “I wonder if the problem is that my coworkers think I’m not helpful enough. If so, maybe it would help if I reformatted the information I send them in some way? Or do you think it’s more that my emails come across as curt or unfriendly?”

          If you just want to move the conversation on without sounding too unreasonable, you could say “Okay, I will make having good relationships with my colleagues a priority.” Or “I’ll keep an eye on my communications with them and try to see what’s going wrong.”

  53. Kairi*

    My embarrassing story of the week: Yesterday my company had a fall festival (games, food and beer) and we had an abundance of goodies. I had a little bit of wine in me as I made a plate to take home with me. The CEO then went to grab a cookie from my plate, and before I realized it, I was telling him that it was my plate. I then grabbed the tray of cookies he wanted so he could still get one, but the awkwardness had already set in. He seemed to joke about it saying “my hand was slapped” so I don’t think it’s too big of a deal, but I’m completely embarrassed.

    I think it all comes back to the food hoarding that I do for no real reason!

      1. Kairi*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one! I’m very protective of my food. I told my boss and she just laughed so everything’s good. :)

  54. LoFlo*

    I just started a new job in academia four months ago. There has been a lot of turn over in the department and my supervisor is under scrutiny for this. So far we get along just fine, and I am ignoring the gossip and keeping my head down (thanks to the advice from here). However, she is developing this habit of responding verbally to my emails for information like who to talk to about X process I am learning, or what account to charge Y expense to, instead of just replying to the email. On top of this, she has me double check the written policies with our division business office, which I feel comes across as the new person challenging them and is disrespectful. She also likes to point out how so and so didn’t follow the rules one time, and I need to make sure that everybody is doing the right thing.

    Part of me feels due to the scrutiny on my supervisor, she is reluctant to put anything in writing and is having me do her double checking to cover her rear. I realize that I could do a follow up email and say just confirming our discussion about…, but I am afraid that this might upset her, as she can be snarky about certain people and I am still on probation. On top of this, I have a hearing loss, so having something in writing is a big help for me. So far nothing bad has happened, but I think I need to ask her to respond to my questions in writing.

    FWIW she makes a big deal about being busy, but doesn’t connect the dots that it takes much more time to reply verbally than just send me the information I need.

    1. J. Lynn*

      Sorry to hear about that. Could you email back to her something about “because of my hearing loss, I’ve want to double check that I heard you correctly that I am supposedly to send the invoice for X to Y?”

  55. Bowserkitty*

    I was laid off from my toxic job a few months ago in a nationwide layoff, and things have been so different at my new job. It’s such a nice feeling NOT coming in on Monday morning to 30 “URGENT!!!!111” emails from my boss, along with a follow-up call “just to check in” and make sure I read all of my emails by 8:40. This would happen on weeknights too.

    With the new place I get maybe 2-3 to catch up on each morning, and they’re typically company-wide emails that can be disregarded.

    It’s so nice.

    Anybody else coming out of a toxic workplace and finding it odd (but nice) to adjust?

    1. Lizzy*

      Yup. I mentioned last week and above about being laid off from my small performing arts nonprofit and feeling such a relief. I had a good supervisor, but she went on maternity leave over the summer and I was being supervised by members of the board. They were horribly out of touch and the Board President was a bully; she insulted me many times in staff meeting and even in email chains where funders and organization collaborators were involved.

      I use to wake up every morning dreading work and feeling sick to my stomach. I now wake up full of energy and feeling excited about tackling my day. What a difference!

    2. Kairi*

      I left my toxic workplace for my new position about 8 months ago, and I’ve noticed how much happier I am. It took me time to adjust, because I was constantly worried that something would go wrong. Now, I actually enjoy coming to work, and I don’t have to duck the non-stop phone calls from my old boss anymore.

    3. Maxwell Edison*

      I left my toxic job in December to full-time freelance, and the greatly reduced income is more than balanced out by magically losing five pounds, going off anti-anxiety meds, doing work that is appreciated for happy, repeat clients, doing work I enjoy and am good at, and so forth. I’m a little socially isolated working from home, but I’m kind of a hermit anyway so that’s not too bad.

    4. Robin*

      I can definitely relate. I had a micromanaging boss for about 3 years and when you were her project, you could not please her. If I completed a task assigned she would come back with, “This is all wrong. You should have done it like this instead of like that” when she had not communicated those expectations. Then, when I would try to get her approval before putting in a bunch of work on something, it was “I don’t have time to babysit you! You should be able to just get this done!” Got to the point where I couldn’t order food for the meeting I facilitated without agonizing over tacos versus pizza.

      In my new position, my supervisor has to sit me down a month and ago and say, “You’re a adult and I trust you. Of course if you have questions or want input please come to me, but you are a professional and unless you give me a reason to worry, I’m not worrying that you can do your job.” I hadn’t realized that I was so trained to take the smallest things to my boss (and then get yelled at) and it felt so good to be treated like an equal! I can’t say enough how much of an improvement this place is, even with the hour+ commute.

  56. Dr. Doll*

    Feeling very thankful that my team decided not to do “Secret Santa” this year, but instead put gift money toward Campus Bucks cards for our fabulous student assistants.

    The team did Secret Santa long before I arrived as the head (always giving presents to the students too), and I didn’t want to throw cold water on it even though I despise SS with a passion normally reserved for despising litterbugs and people who cheat. So I’m very glad someone else proposed this alternative and everyone loved the idea! Hopefully this will be the new tradition from now on.

  57. Luna*

    So I queried maybe helping out with some of the HR admin at work to a) get some experience being as I want to go into HR and b) to help out the director who is currently trying to do it all himself. Basically got laughed out his office because I have no HR experience. Ummm but I’m no idiot and I am willing and able to learn? Everyone has to start somewhere! So I’m not impressed and I have started job hunting again. It really does seem like despite all the claims made that the company will ‘develop’ you, they’re only willing to do it within the confines of your current role. God forbid you might want to learn something different.

    1. Temperance*

      On the flip side, it could also be more work for him to train you on specific processes. Whenever I hire a new intern, I lose a lot of productivity in showing them the ropes.

      1. Luna*

        I asked him if I could help him with the filing and if he’d like me to take on some of the really basic stuff, like putting together the ‘Welcome’ folders for new starters, sorting out their passes and parking permits etc etc. He wouldn’t really have to train me on much because even a school leaver can follow a filing system. Then I asked if he would mind me shadowing him on some of the other HR bits he does. Shadow, as in sit quietly and observe and make notes. I’m hardly asking him to drop everything and train me. Like I said, it’s like the company doesn’t want anyone to shift out their niche. I don’t think my request was unreasonable and he’s aware I’m interested in HR so I thought he would have welcomed the help. Obviously I was wrong. And yes, our HR department does the new starter packs and badges. Budget cuts! We don’t have an admin person.

  58. Lurky McLurkerson for this one*

    We had a departmental meeting yesterday and my wonderful most awesomest boss ever announced her retirement. :'( I could not even. Every time I’ve had a boss I loved end up leaving, the next one sucks, or is ineffectual, etc.

    If the assistant manager takes over, we should be fine. But our department changed divisions recently, and we got a new GM and have some revamps coming down the pike, and I’m concerned. I’m afraid that changes will either inundate me (I don’t mind being busy, but I don’t want to go home every day exhausted), or catapult me into a limbo where I have even less to do and the division will decide to make me part-time.

    On the other hand, as a team member said, the revamps could be really cool and help us a lot. And I could learn stuff. I am trying to be positive without being a damn Pollyanna. But I will miss my boss a LOT. :'(

  59. GT*

    I am responsible for interns who just graduated from college. I am not their direct supervisor (I am peers with/slightly above in job title to their direct supervisor), but have full hire/fire authority and am the “buck stops here” person. I am seen as the no-fun, rule enforcer; their direct supervisor is the “fun guy.” Part of the job includes one large trip. One of the intern “mentors” (not her official supervisor) is 30 years older than the intern. After the trip, which I was a part of, two people came to me commenting on the rapport between this intern and her mentor. One came with concern, the other with jokes. I also had been slightly uncomfortable with their interactions, but neither one seemed bothered, so I didn’t devote much brainspace to the issue until the others’ comments.

    After the comments, I talked to her immediate supervisor about it, and he said she hadn’t mentioned anything that upset her. We agreed that he would talk to her specifically (despite my being female and him being male, we both agreed she would probably feel more comfortable talking with him). She reported nothing that upsets her.

    Now here’s my question: do I tell the mentor to step back (tell him that others remarked on things with this intern and to be conscious of outside appearances-for her sake, if not his own)? If the parties involved have no issues, should I step in?
    The mentor is my former boss, and although he has no authority over me, I need his cooperation for my own job. I am trying not to let that influence how I approach this. I have no problem addressing this, but I don’t want to insert myself in a situation where I am not needed.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Since you know the mentor pretty well, what about just mentioning to him that other people had commented on his chumminess with the intern, and let him figure out whether he is worried about his reputation or not? That would probably be how I would handle it, by just giving a heads-up, and assuming that he’ll handle it himself however he sees fit.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Oh, this really hits a nerve with me because I was falsely accused of having an emotional affair with an older colleague simply because we had a great rapport. It was so upsetting to me because it was total BS. I think you are way overstepping your authority here. You said your piece, now leave it up to the intern’s direct supervisor to handle. I think you need to step way back and not say a word to the mentor. It seems to me there is no reason to continue addressing this and that you are the only one who cares about this.

      1. GT*

        I’m sorry that you were falsely accused of something. I don’t know the details of your situation, or why things came to a head like that.
        I actually haven’t “said my piece.” I shared concerns that had been brought to me with the supervisor of the intern. He has asked me what to do. I have no intention of accusing anyone of anything, or addressing this further with the intern. My question was whether to tell the mentor to take a step back and be mindful of appearances of professionalism, since how this mentor/intern relationship is seen has a real bearing on HER job prospects here (generally, they are just really, ridiculously silly and unprofessional–and this is academia, so we have pretty low standards to start with). If 2 (out of 9 on the trip) people came to me, without prompting, I am not the only one who cares – other people are talking about it. I have no authority over the mentor, so it would only be in the form of a “heads up,” anyway. I guess I’m leaning toward the option of mentioning something, since the gossip is out there, and there is a real potential for damage. If someone else decides to intercede (and, unless I hear of something else, it won’t be me), at least there’s advance warning.

  60. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    So, as y’all might know…I passed the bar (after blood, sweat, tears, the works).
    I’m also a Senior Teapot Writer. How does one get into an entry-level attorney job? I networked with someone who told me to contact his friend. His friend was off at a mtg, and instead I reached a lady who acted snobby and told me they’d never hire me w/o 4-6 yrs experience though their age cutoff is 34. Despite me having 4-6 similar yrs experience and a masters to boot. And I’ve missed the early direct from law school recruitment.

    Is the legal industry overrated? Who else is in an alternate/JD advantage role? Do you enjoy it more than practicing? Any stories (horror or happy etc)?

        1. danr*

          Ah, but they’re a law firm and don’t worry about such stuff! And will be greatly surprised when someone finally sues.

        2. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          The organization involved is national-based, and rhymes with:
          Hag, Swag, Lag, Swarmed Horses, FreeCruit, Smatterny Fenneral.

          So…yeah <:S

          1. F.*

            First of all, MEGA CONGRATULATIONS on passing the bar!!! And that law firm sounds like Dewey Cheatum and Howe! Best of luck!

    1. Temperance*

      I’m an attorney who works in pro bono legal services at a large firm. I love it.

      My advice to you is to take some pro bono cases and attend networking events. The pro bono work will get you some experience, and networking will help. Also, apply, apply, apply. I do NOT recommend cold calling friends of friends.

    2. Undercover lawyer*

      Congrats! What type of legal work do you want to do? What fields are you interested in? I would not give up on the entire profession just yet, especially if you would like to practice law. Don’t let one inn informes snobby person dictate your career path.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks (for the reassurance too re: snobby person).
        With a law degree, a masters (with honors), and 2-3 high-profile publications through think tanks/medical journal(s)/the govt, being semi-multilingual, plus studies abroad at 2 postgraduate levels–what do they even want me to do–walk on water?? (Siigh. #endrant).

        Legal Work: health IT policy/legislation, securities, federal govt (FDA/DOD/DHA/DHS)…
        Primary Fields of Interest: securities/intelligence, health policy, defense, international law

        1. Undercover lawyer*

          I recommend that you look at Federal Government positions. They will consider your non-legal experience such that even with an entry level legal position, you won’t have to start off on the lowest rung of the GS ladder. I have seen a number of listings in the fields you mention. A non-profit is something else to consider. Is a legal role in your current organization at all possible? You could also gain experience via pro-bono work. A would not write off the profession entirely yet. Hewey Dewey Cheetum and Howe and firms are not the only ways to gain experience. And as for success stories, I enjoy my career and yes, I am a lawyer.

        2. Renee*

          I know people don’t often go back days to look at comments, but I’m an attorney running the administrative side of a manufacturer. The legal stuff comes into play with contract review and compliance matters (FDA and import/export). We manufacture a product that requires FDA registration. Our product is not a medical device so the registration process is straightforward, but I’ve become pretty interested in regulatory compliance issues and if I were looking for a way out of this job (which is way too chill to leave) I’d be taking some courses to get up to speed in those areas. I think there’s a pretty decent demand for people who can handle the crossover between FDA compliance and import/export controls for advanced technology, especially biotechnology. I spent about ten years in litigation but you couldn’t pay me enough to do that again. I’m much happier with transactional and compliance stuff. As you’ve already got the federal/policy background, it seems like an area you would enjoy.

    3. A Bug!*

      Law is one of those fields where there are still a lot of people with regressive ideas who aren’t that shy about having them. It’s possible that this firm does have an implicit rule along the lines you’ve been told, but it’s also possible that the person you spoke to overstepped her bounds. I know plenty of assistants and receptionists who take it upon themselves to screen calls more rigorously than a given lawyer might want.

      So if you’re still actually interested in this firm, you could see if you can find a direct e-mail address for your contact’s friend, or see if your contact might be able to help facilitate. Then you can continue to assess the situation and whether or not the woman you spoke with is representative of the firm’s atmosphere. (At this point, a working relationship with the woman you spoke with could still be possible, but you’d want to avoid compounding your failure to respect her authoritay by interacting with her any further before you connect with your contact’s friend.)

    4. Lillian McGee*

      I work for a legal nonprofit and many of our attorneys are later-in-life (or second career) JDs. Even our development director traditionally has been a JD.

      In Chicago, there is this great organization through the Chicago Bar called the Justice Entrepreneurs Project (jepchicago dot org) where independent lawyers gain experience and connections by offering legal services at fixed or reduced rates. They also get fellowship placements at legal nonprofits/legal aid orgs. Google around and see if there’s something similar near you??

      As for whether the legal industry is overrated… no comment.

      1. Lillian McGee*

        Point of clarification: the development director position has traditionally been held by a JD… but not all the time (it turns over somewhat frequently, unfortunately…)

    5. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

      Do you even want to be a lawyer? Or are you happy with what you are doing? I take it that this won’t shut your mom up though?

    6. Anon, Esq.*

      I work as a lawyer/policy analyst for a nonprofit. I never go to court and do no actual legal practice, but lots of research on existing law and best practices in different jurisdictions. I also work on campaigns to change laws, so I do some legislative drafting, lobbying, and political organizing/coalition-building. It’s pretty cool.

      I know almost nothing about firms, but some thoughts about entry-level attorney positions:
      1) Government agencies hire entry-level attorneys. Check the websites and try to meet people at the offices of the city or county attorney, state attorneys general, public defenders, and pretty much all state or local agencies (like your state office of human rights). Check out legal aid too, which is sometimes a government agency but often not. Legislatures and courts also hire newish attorneys in behind-the-scenes roles, so you wouldn’t be going to court, but you could help draft legislation or decide cases. Look at job listings for your state legislature, city council, and state, federal, and municipal courts. Meeting people will be invaluable; these job listings aren’t always updated online.
      2) If you’re interested in an alternate role, research all the think tanks and nonprofits in your area that interest you and try to connect with them. You can send them your resume and a good cover letter even if they don’t have a current opening listed. Networking will also really help here, since one organization can connect you to another. I got my current position by networking.
      3) You’re a newly minted lawyer, right? You are probably eligible for fellowships. Ask your law school career office for help, but also do your own research on fellowship programs (Skadden is the one I’ve heard of most, but I think there are many others).
      4) Think about going somewhere where the lawyers aren’t. Getting a lawyer job in San Francisco may be a challenge. Find legal service organizations or nonprofits in rural areas. DNA Legal Services on the Navajo Nation is a famous example, and you can find other small legal services organizations around the country. It might be a challenge to apply from far away, but a lot of rural organizations are starved for good people and would be interested in a talented, enthusiastic applicant.
      5) Look as awesome as possible. If you have a great paper hanging around from law school, try to get it published so that you have publications to add to your resume. If you have influential mentors or professors, ask them to make some calls on your behalf. If you can’t find a job, see if you can pick up a part-time internship for yourself to build your resume and connections. I got a gig like this during law school by writing to a city agency and saying, essentially, “I’m really interested in the work you do and would love to volunteer for you on Fridays.”
      6) Can you pick up a judicial clerkship? These are hard to get, but the payoff is significant. There’s a long timeline for applying for positions, but sometimes there are exceptions. Look for openings that pop up when existing clerks take medical/maternity leave or a new judge takes the bench.

      Good luck, Carmen Sandiego!

  61. J. Lynn*

    Has anyone run across an advice column like AAM that is more focused on PR and branding? I’m new in this role PR role in my company and feel like I am not getting the PR and exposure for the products my company makes. (I mean maybe I am doing all the right things and journalists are just bombarded and not interested in Expensive Chocolate Teapots, they want disposable/cheap Chocolate Teapots). But I would love to know if there are some solid, helpful PR/branding advice columns? (I’ve run across misc. ones published by various business sites here and there, but nothing consistent.) and I have found umpteen PR company that will “do the PR for you” for X amount of $, but those aren’t what I am looking for. Thanks so much!

    1. Lulubell*

      I’m in PR, and while I don’t know of any “advice columns” per se, I can share a few of my regular reads:
      – Mediabistro Fishbowl
      – Ragan’s PR Daily
      – Cision blog (not sure if you need to have access to the media database)

      Depending on what industry you work in, there might be other more specific resources. I find that it also helps to follow journalists and competitive brands on Instagram, Twitter, so I can see who is doing/writing about what.

  62. Intrepid Intern*

    Ugh. I was up for a full time position, and I didn’t get it. I was supposed to be chipper, someone in the family died, I wasn’t, they hired someone else. I may very well lose my ability to make rent and have to move back in with my parents over this– and they live 500 miles away, so I feel like that could cost me the network and friendships I’ve spent a year building, too.

    The new hire apparently starts Monday, which I know because I’ve just been invited to/ told to attend a celebratory luncheon to welcome her. I know I have to go, and I will, no matter how tempting it is to “forget” my lunch and be elsewhere. Just, this sucks, and I want to  sulk for a minute. So here is my moment of sulk.

    Still, even being an adult with no money is better than middle school, so at least I’ve got that going for me.

  63. Natalie*

    [Alison, please delete if this is not work-related enough]

    Can anyone give me the Explain Like I’m 5 version of cafeteria plans and ACA compliance? My fiance’s company is apparently canceling their group health insurance and going to a cafeteria plan, but from what I could find on google it sounds like that may or may not comply with the ACA. The presentation he sat through wasn’t clear how much or how they would be reimbursing but presumably they will get that information soon.

    (Company definitely has enough employees to be subject to the law.)

    1. asteramella*

      There are different types of Section 125 plans–Section 125 just refers to the section of IRS code that deals with group health plans and pre- and post-tax payment for them. If you have more details or information about the type of plan, I might be able to steer you to resources.

      1. Natalie*

        No additional details quite yet. The presentation was given by a third party company that helps individuals buy insurance both via the exchanges and private market, their HR department hasn’t given them the benefits details yet.

        After I posted this question I did a bit of googling and, of course, this third party company is a start up trying to “disrupt” the health care market, and chose their name because all you care about when you get a job is salary, and the rest is just gravy, right? Gag me.

        1. asteramella*

          Ah, ok. I know the company you’re referring to.

          Is your employer legally allowed to contract with this company? Yes. It’s essentially a marketplace navigator company that will help employees choose a plan from the exchange or from the private market.

          But, since your employer is not offering an ACA-compliant GHP, they will have to pay the employer shared responsibility fine, which is at a minimum $2k per full-time employee (this amount will increase every year according to inflation). So depending on employee demographics, it may be cheaper to offer a lower-cost plan (like a high-deductible plan) than to pay for this service and pay the tax penalty per employee too.

          1. Natalie*

            Does that hold true if the employer offers reimbursement for the premiums? The disruptive start up is claiming that’s kosher, but consider the source obviously.

            (This is actually my fiance’s employer, and my company offer real insurance. If we have to courthouse wedding it, we will.)

      1. Meg Murry*

        Oh wow, that had me going down the rabbit hole when I saw the part about 8% of household income on coverage for self and dependents, because we are probably right at that borderline (my husband is self employed, so his income fluctuates every year).

        However, that info was from 2014. According to, a plan is now considered “affordable” if the plan costs less than 9.56% of your household income for self plans only. However, it doesn’t mention dependents at all. WTF? My plan meets that threshold for me alone – but my employer pays far less of the premium for my husband and kids, and since my husband is self employed he doesn’t have an employer to get insurance through. Am I interpreting that correctly that since my husband and kids can be covered on my plan (no matter how much it costs?!?), he and the kids wouldn’t be marketplace eligible?

        We are sticking with my plan for now even though it’s not cheap because I just don’t want to deal with insurance shopping, but holy loophole Batman! Unless I’m misunderstanding, there is now NO threshold for what defines affordable care for a family, only an employed individual. What a mess.

        Does anyone else want to chime in on approximately what their healthcare costs would be?
        For me alone, it would only be 2% of my salary.
        But for my family coverage, it is 11% of my salary, which is actually a savings – last year it was 15% of my salary! My husband’s income varies since he runs his own business, but it isn’t much, so it’s probably around 8% of our household income for next year.

        And that’s for a high deductible plan, which has an out of pocket max of almost 10% of my salary. So in a bad year, we could be paying almost 20% of our pre-tax income to health care and health insurance.

        I was all for the ACA back when it really was the “Affordable Healthcare Act”, because without it I was one of the people who would never have been able to get a plan due to a pre-existing condition (which is completely under control as long as I see a doctor 1-2x a year and take a generic medication, but that’s a different issue). But somehow the “affordable” part seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle

  64. SJ*

    I’m wondering if anyone else has had an experience like this…

    I recently moved for my husband’s career. I work in a very niche industry, have about 12 years experience, and was extremely lucky to land a job in my field, albeit part-time — with potential to go full-time. I felt lucky to find anything at all. I work 4 days a week. My coworkers have been extremely kind and welcoming, constantly saying how great it’s been to have someone new on their (very lean) staff with experience and a good attitude.

    The only problem is one of the middle managers who consistently reminds me I am not a “real” staff member. I am not allowed to sit with the staff. She doesn’t like me talking with them unless it’s to “serve their needs.” I’m not supposed to take part in group activities, etc. No one else treats me like this — they all treat me as an equal — except for this one manager.

    Anyone else ever experience this?

      1. fposte*

        Agreed with B&S. It’s also kind of deranged–are they handing out family silver, sharing state secrets, or something?

    1. OriginalEmma*

      That is absolutely awful. There’s no reason to treat an employee like that – even if it is in some perverted attempt to comply with employee vs. contractor differences/regulations, which doesn’t apply here. That manager is a loon.

      I hope you can bring this problem to your own manager or someone higher up. Is anyone else aware that she does this?

  65. Ann O'Nemity*

    So, there’s plenty of studies showing that men talk more in meetings than women do.

    I keep seeing that play out in a project team that I’m on. Two guys just dominate the conversation. They’re not terribly rude about interrupting, but it’s like they have to weigh in on every. single. point. And when they start talking, they just keep going and going and going.

    Any tips to confronting this when it happens? I’ve tried tactics like, “Thanks for the input Wakeen. I’d like to hear input from the rest of the group.” Or, “Mary, what do you think about that?” But it’s not really making a difference.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Unfortunately, there aren’t easy fixes for social conditioning. My old workplace was like this. Two or three men felt they had to weigh in on everything, and they usually didn’t even have great points to make (or just repeated what a woman had just said). The women didn’t say much, because they didn’t feel their opinions were valued, and honestly most of the other men didn’t say much either, because they just wanted the meeting to be over. The well-meaning but misguided higher-ups decided they were going to have a meeting where only the women talked and the men had to listen, but it ended up backfiring, with the women feeling they were put on the spot (and their contributions still not really valued and the grand scheme of things).

    2. Zillah*

      Ugh. I don’t think there’s an easy solution to that, unfortunately. You may well have already tried/considered this, but have you tried pulling the guys aside individually, pointing it out to them, and asking them to let other people have more of the spotlight? It doesn’t sound like they’re being rude, just opinionated, so they might have a better chance of responding well to that than men like the ones Lucky mentioned in another comment. (Which doesn’t mean that it’s not gendered, of course.)

    3. Weekday Warrior*

      This is where good chairing comes in. I’m not sure from your post if there’s an official chair but if not, it could be helpful to appoint a person to manage the meeting (role can rotate for each meeting if no obvious team lead), including a discussion and agreement up front about rules of the road during the meeting, e.g. each person speaks once and not again till others have had a turn, all speakers wait to be recognized by the chair, whatever the group agrees is a good way to proceed.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, this sounds like the one thing that would work–pass around a talking stick or whatever, but limit the amount that the yakkers can speak.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I cannot count the numbers of times I have heard in meetings, “Gee, we keep hearing the same voices speaking up, what does everyone else think about X?” Sadly, you may have to follow up with, “Does anyone else have anything to add?” or similar restatement of the same question. It’s hard to get people talking who are not used to talking.

      You could type up some guidelines for speaking- such as time limits, not repeating what has already been said and only speak when adding something of substance to the conversation going on, stay on topic, get to the punchline as quickly as possible, etc.

    5. Ultraviolet*

      I’m not sure how to get people to speak less in meetings. But here are some thoughts from my POV as someone who speaks infrequently.

      First, think about whether you’d rather solve the imbalance by having the talkers talk less or the non-talkers talk more. (Or in which situation you’d rather have which of those things happen.) Do you think the non-talkers are hesitating to give input that would benefit the group? Or are they just doing less thinking out loud (or bloviating)? If the problem is really that the talkers are wasting time, the non-talkers won’t appreciate being asked to chip in and do their fair share of the time-wasting.

      If you have a specific reason to want the opinion of a specific non-talker, it can also help to say so. So not just, “Mary, what do you think about that?” but “Mary, you’ve worked on YZ a lot. What do you think of X?”

      I definitely advise against explicitly commenting in the meeting on the fact that some people haven’t spoken yet. I sort of hesitate to recommend anything here because I think I’ve gotten more sensitive to this issue than is reasonable. But I think it’s hard to say, “Mary, you haven’t spoken yet, do you want to speak now?” without sounding a little condescending, or making it sound like Mary is super shy and needs to be taken care of in a way the others don’t. (I realize that’s not one of the approaches you mentioned taking in your post!)

    6. Bea W*

      If you ever have a chance to sit in an international meeting, it’s the USians of any gender that dominate the conversation. When I was attending meetings with the JAPAC region as the only US person, the Australians took on that role. :D

      It’s both a fascinating and frustrating dynamic.

      1. fposte*

        Now you’re making me think there could be a great predictive flow chart of who’s going to dominate in a meeting.

  66. Christina*

    I’m not sure if this counts as “work-related,” but I’ve been struggling with building up social media presence (and presence in general) for a side project/blog I have for my passion and I’m frustrated. It feels like so much advice from other bloggers just boils down to “be genuine and people will come!” which feels like a complete cop-out. I just don’t have a clue how people end up with followings of 4,000+ on Instagram.

    I’m torn because I don’t want to do what a lot of bloggers do with sponsored posts and integrating ads into social media to get my stuff out there, but I know this is the way advertising and blogging is going in general. I feel like I almost need 2 blogs–one that’s just mine and one where I do “mine+sponsored stuff” but I don’t have time to do both.

    (That said, if anyone is looking for something to go with their Thanksgiving pie, might I suggest browned butter vanilla ice cream? I wrote about it this week and it is killer.)

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Honestly, organic content and promotion is only going to get you so far. At some point you’re going to have to throw money at it to raise awareness and followers.

      I do this is a big part of my job and we’ve seen a 20% follower bump since we started doing paid promotion. It’s just reality.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I also find it annoying when people say to just be genuine and people will come. If the formula were that easy, advertising wouldn’t exist. What I’ve generally found of my friends who have social media empires—a lot of it has to do with their own personalities and social/work connections. They’ve already built up a huge social (not work) network, so if they post up one side project–related post, it gets a lot of traffic there.

      There was a time (a few years) when I got a lot of traffic to a site I ran, but it took a rare aligning of the planets to get it to work (my site filled a niche that needed to be filled; I put in a lot of hours building connections online in the niche community that needed my niche site; for a certain geeky set, my niche site was of particular interest from about 2005-2012). My other enterprises have not been as successful. The funny thing is I have a blog that’s attached to my semi-successful niche site, but the blog never got as many hits as the niche site did.

      Best of luck with your project!

      1. Christina*

        I think your first comment about personalities and social connections is a huge one for me. By nature, I tend towards a small circle of close friends versus a huge circle of acquaintances. Though when I do use my network, I know it can work–I taught my first-ever cooking class this year and managed to sell out the class at 25 people (I personally knew only about 5 people in the class, about 12 were through that network, and the rest were total strangers).

        That said, I’m trying to build up my circle of friends who are into food, specifically cooking (that’s my passion project). I see so many of the people I follow eating out as their way of building that circle, and I’m trying to do more of that with a purpose, but I’d rather learn to cook something new and/or invite people over for food. So I decided to start a cookbook cooking/dinner club. I commented on an article about this on a food site, a few people contacted me from there, plus I got a few of my existing circle into it, and we’re getting together for the first time tomorrow night.

        My hope is this will check off a few things: content for my blog that isn’t just about me and what I’m cooking, give me something that I can tag/share with bigger names/writers, expand my personal circle, and I get a great dinner out of it. (Now my goal is to get a few more guys in the group, it’s pretty female-heavy right now and I’d like to expand my circle there too.)

    3. katamia*

      Spend some time studying the people similar to you who are building up the kind of presence you want. Quantify it as much as you can–how many posts do they do per day? Do they post at certain times? What types of posts get the most commons/retweets/whatevers? How often do they respond to comments/followers? etc. Additionally, look at their writing styles, how they use pictures, and so on–break it down every way you can think of. That won’t give you all the answers, but it might clue you in to things you could be doing better and things you should keep doing.

      For resources, I found Gary Vaynerchuk’s “The Thank You Economy” to be an interesting read. A bit repetitive IIRC, but it provided a more positive perspective to marketing than a lot of the other resources I’ve seen. Blogelina (link in reply) also has lots of good posts about blogging and how to be better at it.

      Also consider if there’s something you can add to your blog that would provide a sort of natural overlap. Lots of science fiction and fantasy authors do recaps for things they’re reading or watching–Jim Hines has done one for Avatar: The Last Airbender, for example, so people searching for things related to that show can also find his blog (and, by extension, his books) if they search for Avatar: The Last Airbender.

      1. katamia*

        Another example I forgot to mention for natural overlap: romance author Katie MacAlister doesn’t do this anymore, but for a long time (years, I think), she had a Dishy Guy Monday post, in which she’d post a semi-risque (nothing NSFW, but hot guys wearing very little clothing). That’s actually how I heard of her–a friend mentioned the Dishy Guy Monday posts, and, being curious, I looked at her blog for that.

        A lot of writers (being a writer myself, I know a lot of writers, lol) also do blog tours. I don’t have any statistics on how helpful these are, but you could look into guest blogging/blog tours, both you writing up an entry or two for someone else’s blog and someone else guest blogging on your blog.

      2. Christina*

        This is great, thank you. For a little while I was doing a kind of link round-up/general “what’s cooking” update (since my recipe/travel posts can take a while to create, it could be a week or 2 between posts), but kind of fell off that. I need to be more deliberate about doing those, and possibly turn them into two posts–a “what’s cooking Wednesday” for random stuff I’m making and a Friday link round-up. If I can keep those pretty short, it should be a better mix of frequent content and still give me time to do the longer recipe ones.

        I also mentioned above that I’m starting a cookbook cooking club that I hope with content/frequency/reach and my own interests.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      What do you do to promote your blog? Do you have a Twitter account where you tweet out your newest postings or tease about things you will be posting? Do you follow people who do similar things to you (or complementary) and retweet their stuff? Do you have a Facebook page for your blog?

      It seems to me that a lot of people have a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of thing going on when it comes to promotion. For example, if you can interview someone you admire for your blog, they will promote it to their followers along with whatever promotion you give it. If they will interview you in return, same thing. If you review a certain product, you should send a link of that to the company’s marketing department in a “Hey, I love your product so much, I blogged about it! Read about it here” way. If they appreciate your blog post and find it has value, they might post a link to it on their Facebook page or something. If they don’t, you already have “no.” You might also become a friend of theirs on Facebook and post about how much you love their product (read my blog post about it here).

      Yes, it is kind of another side job on your side job. But unfortunately unless you’ve got mountains of footage of cats doing funny things, you are pretty much going to have to be your own promotions manager as well as content creator.

      1. Christina*

        Yeah, I have FB/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest (though I’m bad about using Pintrest and Twitter as much as I should). You’re right about the quid pro quo, though, and I need to be better about that.

        I just can’t figure out what I’m doing differently on, say, Instagram, from other foodies (not even bloggers, just people who post about food) who go from creation to 4000 followers in 3 months–or even 6 months or a year. Is it a network they already have, what?

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Honestly, if you could find the answer to that and sell it for 3 low-low payments of $19.95, I know a lot of people who would buy it.

          Better content? More content? Luck of the draw? One thing that went viral? Sold their soul to the Devil?

          This is going to sound trite and I don’t mean it to but… what if you just gave up on the idea that you need to have as many followers as these other people? I mean, if this is your interest and your passion, do you not get pleasure out of just doing it? Or does the fact that other people comment/follow/repost/whatever offer you more than merely doing this? The reason I say this is that it seems to me that when you want something very badly, it tends to elude you. It’s not the 100 nights you went out to a bar hoping to meet someone special that it happened, it’s that one time you stumbled into a coffee shop to get out of the rain looking like a half-drowned rat that it happened. If you are doing this because you love it, then that should be all the reward you need to produce the content you feel is best. If you are doing this with the desire to become famous/get a huge publishing contract/quit your job/be fabulously Martha Stewart style wealthy, then you already have a great big huge expectation of what you expect your efforts to return to you and every time that doesn’t happen, the disappointment hurts.

          However, on the flip slide, there is a whole industry out there designed to teach people how to increase their followers, make money from their blog, etc. Google “The best way to make money from a blog” nathan barry and read some of the results that come up. Yes, there are courses and newsletters to sign up for — some of which are free, some of which are not. Some of which you will curse the day you ever signed up for because they just keep coming into your inbox. But I think you might learn some interesting things about how it works.

          1. Christina*

            …Wow, this comment is going to prompt a lot of thought.

            Initial thoughts, though, are that comparing my success to others is always a mistake, and I need to let that go. You are 100% right on the “when you want something very badly, it tends to elude you” (though this is also frustrates me to the point that I want to scream–doesn’t help that I have a similar frustration in trying to find a new day job). I write my blog because learning more about food and cooking and then sitting down to break bread with friends and family is what I’m passionate about–but I think the part I love the most is knowing I helped someone else learn something new too. The absolute best moment I’ve ever gotten from my blog was the opportunity to teaching 25 people to successfully make paella–some of whom had never heard of it before. I honestly care infinitely less about likes and shares and pins than I do that one person at the end of class saying “I think I can use the paella pan I’ve had stuck in the back of my closest now!”

            So maybe I need to look at how I’m measuring success here.

    5. BuildMeUp*

      I’m more familiar with Twitter than Instagram and blogging, but these are some things that I’ve seen work:

      – Engaging with popular people on Instagram and other social networks in ways that will get them to reply to and/or share something you’ve posted. Look at the accounts of social media personalities, other food blogs, accounts for food/cooking websites/magazines, etc. Do they reply to or share content from others a lot? Is there a certain type of post they frequently engage with? Do they engage whenever someone shares/links/retweets something they’ve posted? See if you can work on engaging with them in ways that will get them to notice you (without being annoying about it!) – this may lead to them following you back/sharing some of your content.

      – Are you only posting your own stuff, or are you sharing other stuff, too? You can increase your visibility on social media by sharing/liking posts related to cooking & food, and occasionally mixing it up by sharing something funny or related to a major holiday or something. Try to find a balance of shared and original content.

      – I run social media for a small theatre company, and tweets with hashtags and pictures always get wayyyy more views. I took a look at your Twitter, and it looks like you’re mostly sharing images via Instagram, which unfortunately only show up as a link on Twitter. I would suggest trying to post more images directly to Twitter – they draw the eye and are more likely to engage people. You’re using hashtags occasionally, but I would try using more general ones more often – ending tweets with #food or #cooking, for example, will get a bigger audience of people looking through those hashtags.

      – Go through all the accounts you follow and pare down the list. Look at everyone who hasn’t followed you back and unfollow them if they haven’t posted in a while or aren’t posting much that interests you. This will make it easier to go through your feed and engage with content that you find interesting. It also clears up space if you want to find some new people to follow who have similar interests to you. Some of these people will hopefully follow you back!

  67. Not a Real Giraffe*

    I just started a new job. I’m still trying to get a feel for my new boss; we haven’t spent much one-on-one time together. (The training process is pretty much non-existent/trial by fire — my coworkers are great at helping me find my bearings, though.)

    Anyway, my boss was relaying a conversation she had about me to another person in the office, where my boss said, “We hired Not a Real Giraffe; we’re so excited! She started about a month or two ago.”

    …I started last Monday. Should I be worried that my boss doesn’t seem to remember how new I am in this role?

    1. Not Karen*

      I’d take that as a compliment that you seem more adjusted to the role than you actually are (even if only by a few weeks).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      By itself- it’s meaningless- ignore.

      Mixed with other comments that show similar time travel, I still don’t know if I would worry about it.
      I have worked for some flighty bosses before and it never amounted to a hill of beans.

      The big view is she is excited about hiring you, keep that part and keep going forward. If you feel you must you can remind her when your review comes up- that you started on x date. That should take care of it.

  68. SubwayFan*

    I’m a marketing professional with 10+ years of experience. My large company is in the process of being bought by an even larger company, and while I’m not really expecting to be laid off, I’m revisiting my resume just in case. Here’s my question:

    I have 3 degrees: BA in History, Master’s in Education (Higher Ed Administration) and an MBA. I’m wondering if I should include them all on my resume. My BA is not relevant to my work, and if I have 2 Masters listed, wouldn’t that indicate I already have a BA? The school I went to is pretty good, but it’s not a Harvard or Notre Dame type for name recognition.

    Mostly I’m trying to get a little more space on my 2 page resume. Or should I just leave it alone?

    1. fposte*

      If it’s diminished to where it should be at this point, it won’t really matter, because it’s taking up one line at most.

      1. SubwayFan*

        Yeah, it is just taking up one line. I work with social media/community management and sometimes I *have* to be wordy in explaining my accomplishments. It gets to the point where I start obsessing over line count, hence the question.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I would be confused about why there was no BA/BS listed, even if I saw your two Masters’. I would eliminate the MEd and keep the MBA (this comes from someone with the same degree; I found it to be confusing to hiring managers when I included it and had to explain it was irrelevant to my current career goals).

      1. SubwayFan*

        That’s another thing… I used to work in higher ed, and if I had to get a new job, I’d like to go back to higher ed again, so I feel like that would be a plus. (Happily, there are currently a lot of social media jobs open in higher ed in my location right now if I needed to apply.) Maybe leave it off unless I was applying to a higher ed job?

  69. "Jayne"*

    I am having trouble pacing myself at work. I am a receptionist and we’re in the slow season where we don’t get many calls, and I generally don’t have a lot to do. I find ways to occupy myself during these times, but when I’m given a project, I devour them and get them done really quickly. Too quickly, I’m realizing. My supervisor tells me to take my time/go slow, and that is completely against my nature. I also feel really guilty when I have something to do, but I’m not working on it. Does anyone have any suggestions of how I can pace myself, but still be occupied/look like I’m working?
    I was given a project today that I can get done in 30 minutes, but it’s my only project for the whole day and I’m supposed to stretch it out to last that long.

    1. asteramella*

      Why is your supervisor asking you to slow down your pace? Are you making mistakes? If it’s just because your supervisor doesn’t have other work, it may be worth it to ask if there are other projects you could take on because your workload is obviously too light.

      1. "Jayne"*

        I have to take my time because there is literally nothing else to do. The projects are basic jobs, like stuffing envelopes, that is super easy.
        It’s the slowing down and taking it easy that I’m struggling with — I’m used to working diligently until it’s done.

    2. JM*

      I have the same problem. My job is feast or famine, project-wise. I’ve also implemented a lot of technology that allows me to be more efficient, compared to some of my co-workers.
      During my downtime, I usually read the newspaper online, or check out AAM. I sometimes type personal lists (like grocery lists, to-do lists, etc.) because at least that makes it appear to others that I’m working on something.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      This is my life. I read Feedly, the news, AAM, organize my calendars, go through old files in my computer to see what can be purged or updated.

    4. SubwayFan*

      When I had a similar job, I used to hunt around for longer term projects I could do. One thing I would look at was office forms that we had in house–did they make sense, or were we collecting information that was relevant for the form ten years ago, but not collecting new info? (Think: this form doesn’t have a slot for an email address, or says “Fax completed form to…” when you don’t have a fax anymore)

      Maybe there’s something similar you can do around your office, something that would take a long time to strategize and plan?

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I used to write on my flash drive when I was caught up. It looked like I was working, but I really was sitting there on call until a phone call came in or someone asked me to do something. It came home with me at the end of the day.

  70. SweetTeapots*

    I have an interview on Wednesday! How do you keep up with asking varied questions at each stage?

    So far I’ve had two phone interviews (preliminary with talent acquisition, second with hiring manager), and now I’ll be meeting with 4 people – the hiring manager, a similar level associate, and then two other related roles that I don’t think I’d report to.

    How do you keep your questions varied from interview to interview? I’m a little worried I won’t have enough things to ask about.

    *Also, I fought every instinct to follow-up with the recruiter-my last phone interview was Friday at noon and on the call said they’d like to bring me in the following week. By Wednesday I still hadn’t heard but I kept thinking of Allison’s advice, so I didn’t follow up. I got the email that night to invite me in, I’m glad I stayed patient!

    1. Bonnie*

      I don’t know what you usually ask questions about but since two of the people you are interviewing are not directly related to the position you are interviewing for it gives you the opportunity to ask questions less about the specifics of the job and more about the experience of working for the company overall. I’m also not opposed to asking the same questions more than once. It appears that you will be meeting with people of different levels which might provide different perspectives on the same issue.

  71. Coffee Ninja*

    I’m job searching, and this is my first time doing so with my current job title (I was promoted into this position at my current company). I keep coming across Lean/Six Sigma/Green Belt as requirements in job postings, and there have been interviews where I didn’t move further in the process because I didn’t have any of that. Is it worth pursuing on my own? (My current company would never let me do it).

    1. MT*

      if it is keeping you from a job, then yes. Prob will cost you 2 to 4k for the certification from a reputable place.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      If your a project manager, then it is definitely worth it. It will be hard to do it without your company’s support because you will need to run projects to get certification, and I understand it is expensive.

    3. Jubilance*

      This is hard because Six Sigma is generally a thing that’s certified by your company, though there are organizations like ASQ that also provide a certification. Perhaps you can do the course on your own dime and get approval from your company to do a couple projects? If the projects are successful the company will see a benefit, which may be a selling point.

    4. Elkay*

      This might sounds stupid but have you looked into what Lean/Six Sigma/Green Belt is? Make sure that you’re interested in pursuing it. Green Belt was a requirement of my old job and I hated it with a passion. There were people who embraced it whole-heartedly so I know that some people do like it but I found it really didn’t gel with my personality.

  72. Mkb*

    I was recently given an intern who was referred by someone very high up in my company. HR organized the whole thing and just told us we were getting him. This is a little odd for my company as we usually interview everyone and my dept never has interns. They ended up giving him a full time position and a title that is not intern but one step below our normal entry level title (although he was always called an intern when discussing this upfront.) When he started it was pretty clear that he has some disabilities that are preventing him from being able to do the job. HR has never addressed this with me or my boss and we are not entirely sure what to do. I am trying to cater to his disabilities the best I can (while still treating him like everyone else) but I’ve never been trained on how to handle this sort of situation. I am really not sure what to do. Does anyone have any advice?

    1. asteramella*

      If you’re in the U.S., loop HR in. The ADA has very particular requirements about accommodating disabilities, so you want to ensure you’re engaging in the interactive process properly, but if he’s unable to perform the essential functions of the job and/or causing significant costs to your company, you may have the option of letting him go if necessary. I know it’s a delicate situation given that he was referred by a higher-up, but laws are laws.

    2. Temperance*

      I think you need to loop in your boss and HR, stat. I had a similar situation this summer – the intern was terrible and completely unqualified to be here (not disabled, but a terrible, terrible employee). However, she is the daughter of a prominent client, so we put up with her all summer.

      Tread lightly. This intern is highly connected.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh, ugh. Do you even know the areas that are problematic? If you don’t, it’s conceivable that you could instruct him to work in one of those areas. You need guidelines from your company as to how much is reasonable accommodation and how much is not reasonable. You should not be deciding this on your own. Matter of fact it might be handy if your company checked with their legal.

      If the person has ALREADY stated that some of his disabilities are preventing him from doing the job, it could be construed as abuse to make him continue, especially if there is no way to accommodate him.

      I have very strong feelings about this. Make it your priority to go to your boss and let him know you are concerned about the legalities of what you are doing. You do not think you should be deciding on these matters by yourself due to the legal implications and potential backfiring in the media should something accidentally go wrong.

      Make sure that every inch of the way you stress that you are concerned about fairness to this person. “I am concerned that the company should give him a fair chance at success.” And, “I am concerned that I be fair at all times, I need guidelines to insure that I am looking at things correctly.”

      As an aside, if the higher-up is a friend/family member who put this person in a job that the person CANNOT do, then that higher-up is neglectful. Don’t worry about stepping on toes.

  73. Anonsie*

    I have a weird situation. So I was planning on pushing for a raise this year in my annual review, but immediately beforehand I was transferred to another department. I’m still supposed to do my review with my old manager soon, but now it doesn’t feel right to ask her for a raise that will be coming from my new department. Additionally, part of the reason for the transfer, which I’d asked for a while ago, was because of some serious issues with management (of the illegal and major liability variety) in my old department. My org actually took corrective action with this manager specifically and I believe they nudged my transfer through as well to try to minimize their liability since nothing really changed after they did that.

    My new manager seems great but has also not seemed to feel housekeeping talk is necessary, he’s busy and I’ve had to really press for private time to talk with him so far. I’m pretty sure my old manager had me at a salary considerably lower that others in my role, including my new coworkers, and I bet my new manager would have brought me in much higher if I was a new-new hire. We have pay grades and I’m at the minimum required for my role. I don’t believe my new manager is aware of the situation in my old department.

    I’m unsure of what to do now. I don’t think I can ask either manager for an increase but if I don’t, I have to sit on my bottom rung salary for a full year. My company doesn’t really do/have a way for managers to do mid-year changes without a job title change, which I’m not eligible for. The difference between me and the median salary is MAJOR, too, more than a 20% increase [sidebar: I wouldn’t expect that jump on the one hand but I should be there on the other, so what to ask for is a side issue]. So any moves in that direction would be significant for me, I’m not in a high paying field in the first place so it would be a big life change.

    And then I don’t know if I should tell him about the stuff with my old dept. Eek.

    1. fposte*

      Why can’t you ask? I’d say to my new manager that I’d like to talk about salary and that since it’s her budget it seems sensible to talk to her and not the prior manager who’s doing your annual review. Propose the salary you want and see what happens.

      1. Anonsie*

        I guess I could try. But since it’s connected to a review of your previous year, everyone so far has been pushing for it to be in my old department. But I have not talked to new boss, you’re right.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Bare bones, you could ask that your New Boss look at your rate of pay in comparison to your coworkers and consider if an adjustment is needed.

          What I like about this is that it is not totally