open thread – November 20, 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. Also…

Site enhancement!

Lots of you have asked for the site to remember whether you had comments collapsed or expanded, so that if they’re collapsed, they stay that way even when you reload the page. We now have that functionality if you want to use it: At the top of the comment section, there’s an option to check a box for “collapse comments site-wide.”

However, there’s a drawback: If you collapse comments site-wide and then you leave a reply to someone else’s comment, when the page reloads (after you submit the comment), it won’t take you back to your comment; it will just take you to the top of the post and you’ll have to scroll down to find where you were. It can’t take you back to a mid-thread comment because in the collapsed format, those aren’t visible.

Because of that, I’ve made it optional. If you don’t mind that side effect, you can check the option to have the site remember your preference. (And if you change your mind, just uncheck that box.) Feedback welcome!

{ 1,129 comments… read them below }

  1. Finding a Name*

    I could use some advice.

    I have a second interview for a job on Wednesday, and I think I’m competitive for the position (obviously nothing is guaranteed, but I think there is only one or two other finalists.) But I’m really not sure if I want the job. I’m still interested enough to go to the interview, but every time I think about this job, I get a nervous/panicked feeling, and there are some issues that make me think I wouldn’t be happy there. Former colleague who works there is unhappy, and as said it hasn’t got a great atmosphere, not sure if the job is the direction I want to be going in, and I’m not sure if I want to stay in the country I’m currently in or if I’d rather return to my home country. But I think I’m also a bit burnt out right now, and there are no jobs that seem to be appealing to me at the moment, (except the one I saw today for a head chocolate taster, which unfortunately only pays chocolate, and not that much chocolate either).
    So, I’m thinking if I was offered it, I would turn it down. But I’ve never turned down a job before! Every before I’ve been offered a job, I’ve been happy to accept it. I don’t think the idea that someone wouldn’t accept a job they’d been offered had ever occurred to me until I started reading this site. And with my current job ending soon, I’m worried I’m crazy to turn down a job, and that if I turn this down I will never get a job again in my field, or in any field, and will spend the rest of my life on unemployment. But if I do take it, I think I’d be miserable.

    So, does anyone have any tricks on how I can reassure myself that turning down a job that makes me feel super stressed every time I think about it permanently destroy my career? Or is this something I should consider more seriously, because it is still hard to find jobs and I might struggle to find another one if I don’t take this one?

    1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      If you’re offered the position is it a field that you could shadow in for a couple of hours? It’s some-what common in healthy care but I’m not really sure how it works in other fields. I’m also not sure when you would ask about shadowing, maybe someone else can chime in on how it works?

      1. Winter is Coming*

        Finally…open thread. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist, I remember you writing in a few weeks back about what happened at your job. What ever became of that? I’ve been worried about you!!

    2. Dan*

      Keep in mind that you’re writing to a US-based site with US-centric views. Your references to “stay in the country I’m in or return to my home” indicate that at least some advice that you get here may not be relevant as it’s tailored to US norms. So my take may not be relevant.

      You write that you have a job ending soon. If you had lots of interviews or offers out the ying yang, you could afford to be picky. Or, if you could keep your current. But, you say that you really don’t have any other irons in the fire, so if you turn this job down, how long are you going to be out of a job before finding another one? The longer you are on the market, the harder it’s going to be to find something. And I worry that you’d be on the market for quite awhile.

      While I think your worst case scenario is rather extreme, I do think you could be in for a rough ride. Consider this new job more seriously.

    3. fposte*

      Can you articulate to yourself what you’re looking for that would allow you to take the job? Salary, benefits, quantifiable workplace conditions? A good feeling based on the interview? Is the only thing you like about it the fact that they seem to like you?

      Right now you’re talking about whether or not people can ever turn down jobs without regard to this *particular* job and whether it would be right to accept it or turn it down. Sure, people turn down jobs all the time; it’s not like tweaking the nose of the great job karma god or anything. But what about *this* job makes you not want it or could make you want it?

    4. Devil's Avocado*

      I vote take the second interview. Raise some of your concerns in the interview (in a non-accusatory, well thought out way, obviously), and see how they respond to that. That will give you more data with which to make your decision. Trying to make a decision now is premature and a recipe to drive yourself nuts – you don’t have all the info, and you haven’t event been offered the position yet, so there is nothing to turn down.

      Also, if you do end up getting the offer and turning down the job, it’s much less traumatic than you think. I’ve done it – it was was 3 minute phone conversation. I was super candid about my concerns (mostly commute related – it was in a new city and when I applied I didn’t yet know where in the city I would be living). The hiring manager thanked me, and it was all very nicey-nice.

      1. Jules the First*

        I vote take the second interview. When I interviewed for my current job, I thought I was nuts (let’s just say the company has a reputation!). When I accepted it, I spent about three days sitting on my living room floor going ‘OMG, I can’t believe I’m going to take the job. Am I nuts?’. When I told my coworkers where I was going, the response ranged from ‘Are you crazy?’ to ‘That’s a stupid idea’ to ‘Better you than me’.

        But I took this job because it looks awesome on my resume, it was a chance to formally manage a team, and it was exposure to a radically different type of work than I’d been doing. 18 months later, I’d never say this is my dream job, but I’m reasonably happy and while I’m not saying I wouldn’t take another job if one landed in my lap, I have no regrets over taking this job. I took a job a few years ago that had an amazing reputation as a fantastic place to work and I was absolutely miserable.

        You never know whether an environment is right for you until you see it for yourself – what drives one of your coworkers up the wall, might not bother you at all.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “And with my current job ending soon, I’m worried I’m crazy to turn down a job, and that if I turn this down I will never get a job again in my field, or in any field, and will spend the rest of my life on unemployment. But if I do take it, I think I’d be miserable.”

      Taking this in to bite sized parts- it’s simply not true that you will never find a job in your field or any field every again. That is just. not. true. Take this thought and throw it into the garbage can. Not only does it not help you, it’s a lie, to boot!

      OTH, yeah, you could take the job and be miserable. That could happen. Okay, so what is your plan for that? Suppose you take the job and it’s the pits, what will your next steps be? How will you stand up for YOU? This could be anything, you could decide to take courses in your off hours; you could grab training available at this place or you could decide to continue job searching with the idea that you will do this job for two years and find something else.

      “I might struggle to find another one if I don’t take this one?” I use worst case scenario. So here, I would tell me, “If I do not take this job I WILL have one heck of a time finding another one. Now how will I handle that?”

      Either decision, take the job or don’t take the job involves promising yourself something. And it is hugely important that you follow up on what you promise yourself. Your answer might be which promise to you is easier to keep? Is it easier to keep a promise to yourself to keep looking for work while you are working at We R Miserable, Inc OR is it easier to keep a promise to yourself to find a good job while unemployed?

      There have been times where it was easier for me to stay employed and job hunt. And there were times where it was better for me to be unemployed. So, no one answer fits all here.

    6. A.J.*

      I just went through this very recently. I had never turned down a job before, and I also had a lot of anxiety over feeling that I would never find anything else in my field in my city. And like you, I also got a strange nervousness and panic whenever I thought about taking the job, but I couldn’t quite figure out what was causing that. I listened to my gut and turned it down, and it was just as awkward as I thought it would be but I got through it. Then a week later I was rejected from a better job that I really wanted, and all of a sudden I had a ton of regret over the decision I made. What if I end up on unemployment forever and have to take another contract job? What if I had just taken it and put up with the commute– would things have worked out okay? Now 2 weeks later I’m starting to feel a bit better, as a few new prospects are starting to appear. It may not seem like it at the moment, but there are other jobs out there.
      I don’t know how urgent your situation is, but I can say that it hasn’t been too terrible on unemployment since I can recover from being burnt out at my last job. Its nice to be able to take my time in finding the right job without feeling pressured to take something that isn’t the right fit. Looking back on it, its almost empowering to be able to say that I turned down a job and I’m able to control where I want to be in my future career.

  2. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

    Anyone want an update on my HIPPA violation I’m getting fired saga?
    Back story: if you haven’t been following along 2 weeks ago I accidently violated HIPPA by giving patient A patient B’s lab slip and sending them elsewhere to have it drawn. No blood was drawn and no health was jeopardized. My company takes HIPAA so seriously I was positive I would be fired. May people have been fired for less.
    Last week I reported that I hadn’t been fired or even received the write up.
    Current: So Much- Bear with me.
    Monday was our staff meeting and I asked my supervisor if I could come early to talk about some problems at the office regarding the way that everything was flowing. (its not really something I needed the other phlebs chiming in on) She was receptive to all of the things I said, one of which was a HUGE change that I’ve been suggesting for 4 years that would have prevented the HIPAA violation all together. I figured nothing would come of that particular gripe but I bring it up every 6 or so months. It was implemented the NEXT DAY! During our little 1 on 1 I asked how the “higher ups” were taking my violation and how things were looking. She told me not to worry about that at all and that she hopes it wasn’t weighing on my mind the whole time. I had mentioned something to her the day after it happened but nothing since. On the way home I got to thinkin’. I didn’t write that incident report. I gave my boss all the information and she said that she was going to write it which is fine. Im wondering if it she actually wrote it, we’re really understaffed and replacing me would be difficult. Neither patient knows that anything happened so it would have been very easy and completely legal to brush it all under the rug. She knows that I was upset about the error, I was crying a bit (not obnoxious) toward the end of the conversation, because I knew it was a huge problem. She knows that nothing like this has ever happened with me, I told her 8 days before that something could happen because of the way things are set up/ running at this office, I’m a good, drama free employee and this time is saved my bum.

    On another note, there was a post about a military job yesterday that they couldn’t get anyone to work. It got me thinking- I’d really like a job like that. I cannot join the military as I’ve had weight loss surgery and it’s you can’t get a waver for WLS but something incredibly remote, something that’s a challenge would be perfect for me. Any ideas as to what I should look at? I don’t have children but I am married, Mr.UnfriendlyPhlebotomist would follow me anywhere I told him to so that’s not a problem. I think I should be a tree counter in remote jungles. I’m a really good counter.

    1. Mimmy*

      So glad your employer FINALLY heard your suggestions and implemented the changes. It’s very possible that they HAVE been trying to get the ball rolling but got stuck in red tape.

      Sorry, no advice on the military job, but good luck with whatever you decide!

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        Its really an annoying suggestion, I mention it knowing that she couldn’t really do anything about it. Basically rather than the patients coming directly to my lab it would be so much better if they check out and go to the waiting room, I never have a long wait 15 minutes tops. The orders are never ready and it leaves them just looking at me funny like its my fault because the doctor said they could just come to me. It also causes congestion in the hallway and privacy issues because the next person can see and hear into my lab. We’ve brought it up before and got a lot of push back from the doc and nursing but my boss got her boss to send the email stating that it was they way things were going to be. today its been 100% compliance!

      2. BRR*

        Lesson learned, if you have been pushing for a change to prevent errors, go and make that error to show them why it needs to be changes (I’m joking).

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I know you’re joking but unfortunately that is the way things have to go sometimes. No one takes it seriously when it’s just a suggestion on a piece of paper or a comment that you bring up every now and then, but when it hits the fan and it becomes obvious that “Oh, we should have done what was suggested to us and this is the exact reason why”, the change gets made.

    2. Random citizen*

      So glad to hear this!! It sounds like your mistake was the impetus your employer needed to make some long overdue changes, and so glad that it sounds like everything will work out with your job! No advice for the remote jobs, though. :(

    3. Development professional*

      There’s lots of international work that isn’t the military that would love to have someone with a science/medical background that you should look at: Peace Corps, USAID, and of the many contractors that do work for USAID (you can google this).

      Also, consider the State Department as a foreign service officer. They are much more receptive/hospitable to career changers and/or people with not totally perfect health and age requirements than the military. They actually value life experience of many kinds. You start by taking a written test (which you can’t technically “study” for but you should have read a pretty long/wide list of books, so you may want to take time to prepare) then if you pass it goes on to an in-person oral test.

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        Thank you! I’ll take a look this evening. I’m so bored with phlebotomy, I’ve been doing it for 10 years and nothing, has changed, no new challenges at all.

        1. Jules the First*

          On behalf of all of us regular pincushions, can I just say thanks for doing what you do – it sounds like you are awesome at your job and those of us with difficult veins and regular draws love being seen by someone who is knowledgeable and efficient. (And the last thing I want is to have to make polite chit chat with the technician who’s about to make me bleed…so I’d love to get a phlebotomist with your bedside manner!)

      2. misspiggy*

        Also UN Volunteers, which take people with high skill levels to really interesting and out of the way places.

    4. Elizabeth*

      Some jobs like that don’t allow any family to go with the employee. I work for a govt agency and we have postings in Djibouti and it’s usually the young men who go. It’s a chance to save lots of money and when you tour is over, you can write your own ticket.

    5. Brett*

      The main problem with the remote job talked about yesterday is the clearance, often a ts/sci with ci poly clearance. A full ts/sci + ci poly is expensive (~$30k, while TS alone can be as low as $3k) and you need a sponsoring company, who in turn needs a sponsoring federal agency, for you to get one. I get recruited constantly for jobs with an agency in town; they pay about double what I make now with far less responsibilities and a lot less skill requirements in the same line of work that I do now.

      But, they all require a clearance and the contractors hiring for these positions want someone with a clearance right now and will not sponsor anyone. Ironically I have run workshop training for several dozen employees of these contractors to do the jobs I am getting recruited for; they are pretty much all ex-military who get hired for their clearances then get taught the skills they need after hire. (The huge problem is that the contractors want them to learn _only_ the skills they need and nothing more, so they do not leave.)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe it is just me. AND this is definitely not what you asked. However, have you thought about writing? There is something about the way you get your points across that is interesting to me. I’m not a writer so I can’t describe what I am seeing that well. Just a thought. And I am only one person.

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        I have horrible grammar and my spelling is s**t. I’ve thought about blogging; I was pretty popular in the online weight loss surgery community for a while but then I got aggravated that people thought they knew me and would get uppity about my love for pizza.
        I also feel like I use too many words. I wrote this out this morning when I had a bunch of time and only revised it once but I don’t think people would really care much for what I had to say.

        1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

          side note- There is a movie where the main character’s job is to write letters for people. I’d like to do that. I have a few online friends going though rough patches in their marriages and I write texts to their wives for them. this was from yesterday
          *WIFE NAME* I was completely unprepared for how much this surgery would change my life, there’s so much that I don’t know. I don’t know how small I’ll be, I don’t know how strong I’ll be, I don’t know what holidays are going to be like now that they don’t revolve around me eating, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my career. My life has so many more opportunities now that I can walk up a flight of stairs, I can bend over, I can get up from a chair without rocking back and forth and getting red in the face. I’ve gotten so caught up in all of those changes and let us change too much.

          I love you, I want to be with you, *WIFE NAME* you know what makes me tick, you know what I get happy about and you know what makes me sad, you know my secrets and my dreams. I know we have a lot of work to do to make our relationship strong but we can do it. I have a hard time opening up because I’m afraid, I have a thousand thoughts going trough my head and I don’t know where to begin in talking about them or even saying a complete sentence. I want to talk to you, I want to tell you things and I promise I’ll get better at it.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          Not sure if you’re still reading this, but I wanted to say I totally get you about the weight loss surgery community. I had gastric bypass two years ago and I got so tired of reading the posts from people that are very militant about following the plan and everyone else is totally weak and wasted their money if they want pizza once in awhile. If that type of plans works for them, that’s great. Doesn’t work for me though. I’m all about moderation. Oh, and great news about your suggestion being implemented.

    7. November*

      I’m so glad you posted this update, YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist, and that your employer is implementing the changes you’ve been pushing for! It’s crappy that you had such a rough time waiting for this to resolve, but unfortunately, sometimes an error from a solid, good employee is what finally pushes the management to realize, “oh, hey, it’s not the employees, the process really does need changing”.

    8. olympiasepiriot*

      *claps hand on your back so hard you fall over*

      Bet that’s a relief! And congrats and getting a very logical change made.

    9. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yay! Glad everything is good. I can relate, I made a big mistake at work once and was certain I’d get fired for it. Like you, I am a good and conscientious employee and this was an easy mistake to have made, but I have what my mom calls “good girl syndrome” and just beat myself up about it. Well, it wasn’t a big deal at all to my bosses that I had made the mistake, they knew it wasn’t on purpose, etc.

    10. Anonsie*

      I mean, it’s entirely possible that your boss never filed anything, but I’m telling you– accidental violations like that happen literally constantly and I’ve never seen anyone get the hammer brought down on them for it.

      But heeeeey on them actually fixing the process. That’s so typical, though. They have a risky process in place forever and go “well you can’t prove it’s a problem” forever and aren’t willing to change it until after something goes wrong. Then something goes wrong, they change the process to prevent it, and pat themselves on the back for their improvements that made patients safer. As the world turns.

    11. Noah*

      Glad it all worked out. A just culture, that recognizes humans will make mistakes, is an important component of employees feeling comfortable reporting errors like this so processes can be changed or fixed.

      On the job front, you might look at Indian Health Services. Not exactly international, but they have many remote locations in places like AZ, NM, ND, and AK. The remote areas usually have housing available and you can bring your family along.

  3. ED*

    This is not really management related- but I would like to throw out a question and see if anyone has any solutions. I’m working on a way to standardize incentive submissions (mostly quarterly and semiannual bonuses). The company I work for has a lot of locations (80+) and many of them submit bonuses for payment. Sometimes they email an excel spreadsheet that they designed, sometimes they send me a bonus amount and employee name in an email, sometimes they’re emailed to another person who has to forward it onto me. There’s no standard way of doing it.

    We’re looking for system (could be web based or local software, we have Citrix) that would allow the managers to submit their incentives and allow us to view who has/hasn’t submitted anything. Ideally we could extract the data in excel as well, to load into our payroll system.

    Does anyone know anything similar that I could explore?

    1. LSCO*

      A very non-technical method would be to maybe use google forms? It will collate the data in a google spreadsheet (which could then be exported to Excel), and it’s fairly easy to use.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, this is not difficult to do as a webform or a Google form. Now, having it pull from the list of current employees would take some work, but it might be worth it. (Or it might not, your call.)

    2. LoFlo*

      Can you provide an Excel worksheet with the employee information pre-populated in protected cells for each location and then have the submitters return the spreadsheets to you?

      Another option is if your timekeeping/payroll/ HR software has a manager self service feature that will perform the submission. It is possible that it is existing functionality that isn’t being used.

      1. CAA*

        That’s what I get from our HR team. A list of all my people in an Excel sheet with their start dates / titles / salaries / last year’s bonus. I fill in the blanks with this year’s bonus and merit increase, and it totals them all up and tells me if I’m over budget or not.

  4. Eugenie*

    Ugh — This has been an awful week. I basically got blasted by my boss for not giving enough weight/attention to suggestions made by another department who are using awful data to make their points. I pointed out that their numbers are totally skewed and was told that I need to get my staff to work with them anyways because we don’t want to be perceived as uncooperative — why can’t we all just work with normal, rational, non-scheming people? Too much to ask?

    1. Anna*

      That completely sucks. It’s so aggravating to be told to be cooperative when you know what the other department is bringing to you is flawed and won’t be reliable.

      1. Eugenie*

        The worst part is that the person heading this department is the most combative and challenging co-worker I have. Yet me and my team are the ones who have to be “more collaborative.”

      2. Bea W*

        Can you combat bad data with good data? I’ve found this approach very effective in convincing even my most stubborn collegues to concede to not carrying out bad ideas.

        I also don’t tend to say “omg bad idea!” outright. I let the data do the talking, and people come to their own conclusions. Of course this only works with people who don’t have other agendas. I do it anyway though and get my concerns documented so that when things go south later my butt is fully covered. It’s standard practice amongst my team, because we’re the first people who will get questioned about it when things go wrong or complaints start coming in from other departments about whatever exasperating change was put in place.

        1. Bea W*

          What also gets people thinking is budget and the bottom line. Sometimes the only way to get someone to back off a bad idea is letting them know how much it will cost.

        2. Eugenie*

          Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to collect our own data on these things and I do feel there are ulterior motives (the other department head is widely known to be difficult to work with and has a record of trying to bring down the work of others). I do my best to at least document the errors and explain how that impacts the results they’re seeing…but the fact that my boss knows there are problems and expects us to ignore them because challenging them makes us look uncooperative is really unsettling to me.

        3. Mike C.*

          Same here. I basically swamp people with so much stuff that they cannot argue otherwise. It’s actually a little more fun if the other folks aren’t cooperative at all.

  5. Anon for this*

    Does anyone have tips for how to work when you’re working 100% for yourself (i.e. with no clients or advisors to define and structure your work)? I make creative online content and rely on various streams of income (ads, affiliate earnings, sales of ebooks) and I just barely get by, but I am sure I could do much better if I prioritized my time better. If I could afford it, I would hire a coach just to provide the goal setting and daily schedule that bosses and professors have provided for my work in the past, but since I can’t, I’ll have to figure out how to create that structure for myself. It seems like it ought to be easy in theory, but in practice I’m finding that I’m unhappy with my productivity. Anyone got any tips?

    1. Dawn*

      ID everything that makes you money (ads, affiliate networking, content creation, whatever)
      Assign everything that makes you money scores in: How long does it take to do a task in this category, how much money does it make you, how much do you like to do this task

      Figure out what time of day you’re the most productive- I know for me I’m crackerjack from 730am till around 11am so I always do my most thinking-intensive tasks during that window. Schedule your most thinking-intensive/annoying tasks to happen every workday during your most productive time.

      Also, be honest with yourself about if you can keep up with being self-employed. If you’re constantly putting off working on things and you know you could do better if you’d only *try harder*, really sit down and think about why you’re not stepping up- are you afraid of failure? Are you afraid of getting more exposure? Are you worried you won’t get a good return on putting in more time? Figure out what’s holding you back and decide if you want to work on that in addition to just putting more time into your work.

    2. Anon the Great and Powerful*

      I’m in a similar situation and at the start of every workday I make a list of all the stuff I need to get done. Pretend the list is from a boss and you’ll get in trouble if you don’t finish.

      I also have monthly and quarterly goals from my “boss” who is me.

      I also find it helpful to work similar hours each day and take the same two days off every week.

    3. katamia*

      Know yourself. Don’t listen to the commonly accepted wisdom. When are your best working hours? Work then. Don’t bother working when you’re at your worst. If you’re not sure what your natural daily rhythms are, try different ones out until you find something you like. One of the reasons why I left my job and am going back to freelancing is because I couldn’t handle the hours; most of my day would be spent working during my worst hours, and everything just took so much longer, to the point where I’d really have been better off just not working at all. Same with silence versus music, office setup, etc.

      Something that often but not always worked for me was to do different kinds of work on different days. For example, I’d write on Monday, do transcription on Tuesday, and so on because it was easier for me to just work steadily on something than to be constantly switching gears. I know several writers (as in novelists) who do this, but I don’t know how well it would work for what you do.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you, Dawn, Anon and katamia, for the helpful tips!

        I do think I need to take my working hour preference more seriously. My SO (who works from home, partly for himself and partly for one employer) is a night owl, and I am more of a morning person. Also, he works in unpredictable bursts, either loafing for days or working like a madman without stopping, whereas I am more stable and thrive on predictable routine. We don’t live together, but I spend a lot of time at his place, and being in close proximity to him definitely wreaks havoc on both my working hours and my attempts to plan ahead. In our early days of dating, I only spent one day a week with him, and I can’t help but think of those days with nostalgia. Back then he provided just enough chaos for me to enjoy while still performing well at the job I had back then.

        The other tips are great too – I’ve been wanting to do something similar to what Dawn suggests about assigning scores to projects – and I think I’ll be able to put them into practice if I can just find a way to put my partner into a coma five days a week. Just kidding. But I think this has helped me realize that his way of life really is hugely incompatible with mine. :/

        Thank you, all!

        1. Dawn*

          “But I think this has helped me realize that his way of life really is hugely incompatible with mine”

          Go over to Captain Awkward to ask for help with that problem :)

    4. LittleMissCrankyPants*

      I’ve been self-employed for over ten years now, and for me, structure and deadlines are absolutely needed to maintain a reasonable working pace and income. My focus is on writing and editing, so I have a clear idea at the start of a project–okay, I need to edit 80,000 words in two passes with a two-week deadline. For ten working days that breaks down to 8,000 words a day plus time for a final review, then submit/upload, then invoice.

      I have a wall calendar (and an e-calendar might work better for you), and it lists every title, word count, due date and $ for each project. It’s a matter of keeping the focus on what makes you money as opposed to dinking around on teh ‘net, er, even here at AAM. :)

      If that means turning off email, internet, phone, and notifications, then that’s what it means. The world won’t end in four hours if you need that time to focus and get Work Done. Put boundaries around your work time just as you would if working in an office.

      1. OwnedByTheCat (formerly Anony-Moose)*

        Can you tell me about the leap from fulltime employment (if you were employed full time) to self-employed writer? I think that’s my next step and I’m trying to really think through “quitting my job and being a solopreneur”. I’ve been freelance writing for about 6 years now and maintain 3-4 clients and bring in about $500/month when I’m working steadily. That’s a far cry from what I’d need to support myself.

    5. Betty (the other Betty)*

      I work with clients, but there is always other work to do that is not client-driven.

      I use my calendar as a to do list. (Well, a color-coded sub-calendar on the computer.) I block out time to work on projects and other tasks. Seeing that my day is empty or full helps keep me on track. I also keep a list of things that should get done at some point, so I can fill in with those if I have the time.

      The best thing I’ve done? I have found it extremely helpful to have a mastermind group. I found 3 other people who were at about the same stage of business as me (pretty successful and making a living but wanting to do more). We meet monthly to talk about our businesses and general business topics. For each meeting, we each set a goal. Then we report on that goal at the next meeting. Goals can be big or small; it helps to be held accountable for doing the things we say we plan to do. (And sometimes someone wants to set a goal that is too big and we encourage them to break it into smaller parts.)

      We also help each other achieve those goals. For example, if two people both plan to get some writing done, they might meet outside of the group and write together.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you for the tips, Betty! A group like that sounds awesome. I actually tried once to set something up with a woman who was looking for something similar, with the intention of adding more people when we found them, but on the day of our first meeting she stood me up and I never heard from her again. I told myself not to take it personally, but the experience was sufficiently unnerving that apparently it put me off trying again. But really I’ll have to give it another go. Thanks again!

  6. AnonAdmin*

    My boss doesn’t address my feedback/suggestions and I can’t get him to give me more work. He’s also the ED of the org and I won’t ask the board of directors for help but I have nothing to do all day despite his promises that I would. And my job search is stalling.

    1. Camellia*

      Hmm, is there anything that you can just take over or take on and, if necessary, ask forgiveness later? Or is there some on-line training you could do for free? When I google training like that it seems like there are lots of options. Try learning something new that you might not ordinarily choose or that might help you expand your job search.

    2. NicoleK*

      Do you have colleagues that need help with their tasks? Review manuals and procedures to see if they are current? Update said procedures if they’re not current?

      1. AnonAdmin*

        People always say they’re so busy, and I offer help on specific projects and in general only to get nothing. Or, like, an assignment to do 600 lines of data entry that are already in hard copy somewhere else. I wasn’t hired to only do admin work, though I am, and I’m dead inside.

        1. Artemesia*

          This sucks. Hope you find something new soon. In the meantime is there any pro bono event or service you could invent? A seminar on some thing related to the mission that you organize or a volunteer day related to the mission that you organize or something that doesn’t step on someone else’s job but brings luster to the organization?

          1. AnonAdmin*

            Thanks. Just got another rejection. At least it’s the weekend, right? Pizza, netflix, and all the job applications I can manage to fill out. We don’t really do that kind of thing and my attempts to organize a couple events have gotten blown off. I appreciate your suggestions, though!

    3. Intern Wrangler*

      I’m wondering if you have asked your boss for information about why he isn’t giving you more work. You could sit down with him and say, “I notice that you haven’t taken action on my suggestions; can you give me some feedback on how I should present information on you. It would really be helpful to hear back if something won’t work and why.” I’m glad you are not planning to go to the board. I think that you might have some opportunities to resolve this internally. Are there other senior level staff to get feedback from?

      1. AnonAdmin*

        I’ll definitely try that. I have had a three month review that was very positive and my boss has said he’s happy with my work. Senior staff are by and large incredibly rude and condescending.

  7. My Teapots*

    What are your thoughts on this interview experience?

    Interview scheduled with a one hour block for the hiring manager and subsequent 1/2 blocks with 3 other people. The first interview finished early and he left me in the conference room waiting 30 minutes. Second interview was great. The third person never showed up! So another 30 minutes in the conference room. Fourth interview was great.

    Two days later and I have yet to receive a follow-up from the hiring person (not the manager), I sort of expected an apology once he found out an interviewer stood me up. I like the company, the benefits, the job description, but I’m put off by this experience and lack of consideration for my time (an hour wasted!). On top of this, I can’t get a good read on my would-be manager, who seemed completely uninterested during both the phone and in-person interview (staring out the window while I spoke, no eye contact, coming to the interview without any questions), but I can’t tell if he is just a nervous interviewer/a bit socially awkward.

    There is supposed to be yet another round of in-person interviews, so I could give it another shot and see how I feel. The recruiter mentioned he’d contact me to get my feedback on it, how honest should I be about my thoughts? How would you word it?

    1. Not Today Satan*

      Is it an external recruiter? If so, I’d be honest (but tactful, obviously). He might have some helpful information regarding your hesitations.

      1. My Teapots*

        No, internal. I wasn’t sure what to refer to him as to avoid confusing as ‘recruiter’, but he is not HR. He is talent acquisition.

      1. My Teapots*

        When I arrived, the recruiter had mentioned he had to leave early, so gave me the tour at the start. I notified my final interviewer and he was definitely surprised and apologized it had happened.

    2. Future Analyst*

      I would go the route of saying you were “surprised,” since it gives you an opening to tell the recruiter what happened, and is a reasonable reaction to having that happen. The would-be manager issue is what I would give much more attention though– a manager can really make or break your interest and investment in a position, so give that a lot of thought. If that is how he operates as a manager, is that something you can live with?

      1. My Teapots*

        This is what I’m most hung up on, that I haven’t been able to read him. If I am invited back for the final interview round, I’ll be asking people how they like working for him, to describe his style. I like hands-off management, to an extent. I don’t want someone that doesn’t give any guidance whatsoever as to what’s expected/what to do.

        1. Jules the First*

          So make that one of your questions in your next interview – ask how he assigns tasks, gives feedback, and expects his team to communicate progress!

          Personally, I love a hands-off boss….

          1. Future Analyst*

            Right, but there’s a difference between “hands-off” and disinterested/unresponsive, and it’s good to know which he is.

  8. BRR*

    How do people deal with long commutes? My new job is pretty good but the commute is LONG (I didn’t really have a choice about accepting it or not). It’s about two hours each way with a little driving, a commuter train, a subway ride, and walking through very congested streets full of slow walkers and smokers. It’s really taking a toll on me mentally. Any tips?

    I already am equipped with good soundproof ear buds, music, podcasts, Amazon prime videos, ebooks, and audio books. Starting in January I can telecommute two days a week which will be a relief but that is still two months away. It’s been really draining getting up earlier, being crammed in with so many people, having to be aggressive to get a seat multiple times a day, and having so little time at home and when I am home I’m exhausted.

    Also I had post last week or the week before about what to do about dry office air. I got a Bell+Howell personal humidifier ($22 bed bath and beyond with a coupon) which has helped. It doesn’t have a fan so the mist just sort of falls out but I put it in front of desktop fan I have.

    1. My Teapots*

      Can your hours shift so the commute isn’t as long? My husband is allowed to work 10-6 to avoid the heavy commutes, which basically cuts it in half! Or, can your day ‘start’ on the train if it provides wi-fi, so it’s a shorter day in the office but you’re still getting as much work done?

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        Or shift your times so that even though the actual time spent on public transportation is the same but you’ll encounter fewer slow walkers? I like to come in earlier than normal just to have a slightly less crowded subway and fewer people in my way on the sidewalk.

        1. Sara*

          This is what I used to do when I had a 90 minute subway/bus commute. I could have left about 20 minutes later than I usually did, but it was worth it to get going a little earlier and enjoy fewer crowds on 3 of my 4 lines.

      2. BRR*

        Some good suggestions there. Thank you.

        The train does not have wi-fi and my work needs to be confidential. I could do a later schedule but then I wouldn’t be able to get a spot at the train station and I would also get home a lot later. I get home at 7ish already.

        1. My Teapots*

          Getting home later would kill it for me too, home, quick dinner, then bed is a NO for me. What about earlier? If the worst of the traffic is around 8 and 5, could you do 7-4? I struggle with getting up early, but would sacrifice it if it meant not coming home late.

        2. Jennifer*

          If you have a smartphone, does it offer hot spot functionality? This makes for a higher bill, but increasing productivity during my commutes makes it more than worth it.

    2. Regular commenter who asked about this a few weeks ago*

      Can you sleep on the commuter train? That always really helped me with my long commute. I also liked sitting in the same car going home every day, and listening to the train buddies chit-chat.

      I like to talk on the phone whenever I’m walking somewhere. So I call my mom on the way to the bus and on the way from the subway every day on the way to work. On the way home I’ll call my dad or grandmother or a friend. That really helps, and it helped when I drove too.

      Would reading or knitting help? Both of those are good train activities.

      1. Anxa*

        One thing I miss about living in the south with essentially no feasible public transit is train and bus naps. That half-asleep nap. Mmm…

        1. Bea W*

          If you don’t exit at the end of the line napping can get dicey….or interesting depending on how you feel about ending up in some random place in the middle of nowhere if you nap a little too soundly.

          1. A.J.*

            I have an app that triggers an alarm based on location. It works well as long as you remember to set it.

              1. A.J.*

                There are a few apps for Android if you search the app store for ‘location alarm’. I use Ultimate GPS Alarm. Not sure about whats out there for iphone.

      2. Ama*

        Heh, I once took a job with a 90 minute subway commute (1 train change), and at first it didn’t seem that bad, as I often dozed off during the longer train segment. Turned out, I had mono that went undiagnosed until my second month on the job and took another three months to fully recover from. Once I felt better, I couldn’t fall asleep on the train and it felt like it took *forever.* I moved closer to work not long after that.

        But I definitely used to get so much more knitting and reading done when I had 3 hours a day where that was my only option.

    3. Calacademic*

      My commute is 75 minutes, on a good day, door-to-door. I do the things you suggest: podcasts, ebooks, etc. I make sure my phone is charged, and it’s okay. One leg of my journey is 30 minutes, which is long enough for me to get into my activity (including work, if that’s what I’m doing). It helps knowing that my commute is crucial to our family’s wellbeing and future. I don’t berate myself for not being closer to work.

    4. Kyrielle*

      You’re doing most of what I did to cope with my long commute – one other thing I did was take Coursera courses. I could download them to my smart phone and be taking a class on the way. A few of them were just for fun but most were things that would enhance my skill-set for the current or future jobs. That felt more productive.

      I admit I’m glad that my new job has a really short commute, though. Because there was still a strong element of “slogging through” that long commute. (Which I did for quite a while, because as with you, it was the best thing for us at the time, even though I didn’t like it.)

    5. BenAdminGeek*

      Regular podcasts that update frequently were the key for me. I found one that was daily, and it gave me a rhythm to my drives (“today’s Tuesday, so they’ll have Justin on and it’ll be awesome!”) so that every day didn’t feel exactly the same. I tried to avoid radio for the most part- you hear the ads so many times that it is infuriating.

      Commutes are what they are, but I would recommend checking in on how you’re doing every few months with someone you trust. I didn’t do that, and found that about 5 years in, I was very emotionally detached from both life and work. The physical distance created an emotional distance with both my family and my coworkers I would not have expected- I felt like a stranger drifting through other people’s worlds. Looking back, I should have moved closer to work and had more time with my family, but everyone’s different so I don’t want to pressure you on that.

    6. Adam V*

      I used to take the bus into downtown. I would usually either read or play my Nintendo DS – it was especially great for helping me wind down after a long day. Occasionally I would sleep, but I worried too much about sleeping through my bus stop.

    7. overeducated and underemployed*

      It’s definitely toughest on the parts where you have to be active, especially driving and walking through congested streets when you’re on edge about being on time. All I can say is you’re doing the right stuff, just count down to January, two months isn’t that far away. And give yourself things to look forward to when you need it – keep stocked with coffee or cocoa to treat yourself when you get to the office on a particularly rough day, plan a night or two a week when you can just get takeout and veg out, etc.

    8. EmilyG*

      You aren’t by any chance commuting to Manhattan from CT or LI are you? You’ve already covered my entertainment options but I wanted to address the slow walkers/smokers/window shoppers/tourists thing, in case it’s relevant. I used to walk from 6th to 1st Ave. and back every day and 34th St., though wide, is full of slow and aimless walkers. Now 33rd St., that was for the hardcore power commuters. HEAVEN HELP YOU if you walk slow on 33rd St. Maybe you can find an equivalent de facto express lane for yourself. Also a lot of friends who still have similar commutes use Citibike to speed up the last leg of their commute.

      1. BRR*

        From NJ with a transfer at Newark Penn to WTC. So Newark Penn is a zoo both ways and so many tourists around WTC (curse you whoever invented the selfie stick). Thanks for the route advice. I’ve tried some alternatives and I think I have the best possible route but it’s still not great (side note, it’s fun to take different routes and see different things). I’m finding myself in the top 2% of walkers though everywhere. I’m only behind those that run and/or push.

        Once the Oculus opens and I can walk underground to the Fulton Center and that will be a big help (depending on congestion in the tunnel).

          1. Artemesia*

            I live near the tourist section of my city and the real fun is that slow walkers walk six abreast and always have a stroller.

          2. Rat Racer*

            Only second to slow drivers! I live in the Bay Area and am convinced that people are deliberately driving slowly in silent protest of the crazy fast-paced tech industry’s takeover of our formerly laid-back earthy culture. (Look, I have no love for the Google Bus either, but wish the protestors could be a little more targeted in their interventions…)

            1. Jennifer*

              Where are people driving slowly in your Bay Area? In the North Bay (at least on the highways) people drive like mad men at all hours of the day, especially during commuting hours!

      2. AVP*

        I do this too! My office is downtown and even though Mulberry St is the most direct route, it’s actually much faster to walk over a block and back to avoid the sloooowww wanderers.

      3. Nervous Accountant*

        Grand Central..finding a little hallway was helpful to avoid the crowd. I’m jealous of short commutes. I don’t think I’ll ever have a less than 1 hour long commute as long as I live in NYC. On a good day, it’s 1.5 hour door to door, and that includes a short drive, subway, and 10 minute walk. MetroNorth cuts about 45 minutes but it’s more than double the cost as well. Sigh.

    9. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I commute 2 hours per day by drive – I usually sing along for the endorphins, and make playlists based on different moods so I can stay mellow, calm down, pump myself up, etc.

      The only other suggestion I have at the moment is trying mindfulness meditation. Ram Dass has some excellent advice on Guided Meditation – you note how you feel, what your body is doing, what those around you are doing as a way to tap into the present moment and forget about the discomfort. If you snap out, simply guide yourself again. Occasionally, give into the daydreams and pleasant streams before guiding yourself back into mindfulness. It takes practice but is one of those things you realize you get better at in retrospect. There may be health benefits as well.

    10. Bostonian*

      The year I had a super long commute was also the year I was throwing myself into a project – I was actually doing research in preparation for switching careers and going back to grad school. But having something to do on the train that’s not just filling the time but using it productively made a world of difference for me. Start a blog and write a post on the train every day (offline if there’s no wifi), try one of those sites that lets you put yourself out there for freelance editing, do work for your job, become an editor on Wikipedia or a moderator for an internet forum on a topic of interest, do knitting projects that get donated to good causes, organize your digital photo collection, become a semi-pro photographer and edit the photos on your commute, volunteer with a small nonprofit and lay out their annual report or design them a new donor management database, etc. It depends on your interests and skills, obviously, but there’s a lot you can do even with no wifi if you can use a laptop or even a tablet. But getting home at the end of the day feeling like you made progress on a project instead of like you spent those hours passively absorbing even more media would probably help.

      Or take naps. I took a lot of commuter rail naps the year I had a super-long commute.

      1. rozin*

        Seconded on doing something productive. When I have long commutes where I have to drive, I’ll listen to audio books/audio courses. But if I’m on the train, I’ll whip out my laptop and try to get some writing or design work done during that time. Another thing you can do if you don’t have a laptop available is bring the good ol’ fashioned paper and pencil and either write out ideas/thoughts or improve your sketching skills. And hey, you are already surrounded by people to draw!

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        OMG, I wish I could work on my laptop on my commute. I’d be able to get sooo much more writing and reading done if I had a nice quiet sitting-down commuter rail trip of 1-2 hours each way. But I commute mostly by bus, and much of the time I am standing on a crowded bus or standing at a bus stop waiting for the next one.

    11. themmases*

      I have about an hour commute which includes a 10 minute walk on either end. In my situation, it’s not really practical to get up or go to work any earlier. A 30 minute change feels hard to me and doesn’t reliably improve the speed or pleasantness of my commute, so I just don’t try to do it.

      This felt really counterintuitive to me at first, but I stopped being aggressive about getting on or getting a seat and I stopped trying to entertain myself the whole way. A lot of times I just sit, listen to music, and people watch or let my mind wander. I’ve noticed that the way I sit or hold my purse makes me really tense up my shoulders so I try to adjust and not do that, but otherwise anything goes.

      Reading on the train is nice when you get to do it but I found it was making me stress out too much about getting a seat and feel cheated out of the good part of my commute when I couldn’t sit down. Now I bring my tablet with a book I’m medium interested in and just let whatever happens, happen. Usually I find I don’t even care about it even when I get a seat.

      If I have time, sometimes I’ll get off the train a stop early and walk home or walk up the bus line a few stops so I get both a walk and a better seat. Or I treat myself to a (slower) bus ride that lets me look at the prettier parts of downtown while I just do nothing.

    12. Rebecca in Dallas*

      My dad has a long commute but his is by choice mostly. He works in a suburb that is not a far drive, but he takes a train and bus to work at least a couple days a week to save gas/wear and tear on his older car. Plus he actually really enjoys it! He usually does a crossword puzzle (he loves those) and reads the paper. He leaves early enough that it’s not super crowded in the mornings, the ride home usually takes longer though.

      If I had a long commute, I’d definitely read or listen to podcasts. And if you can get some work done, that’s always nice too. Then I don’t think I’d feel as much pressure about getting into the office early, if I could be responsive by email on my way.

    13. Viktoria*

      My commute is about 2.5 hours round trip, all driving. I have been doing it for 7 months and so far don’t really mind it… I don’t have any suggestions beyond what you’ve already mentioned. Audiobooks are my favorite by far. I find I listen to one book a week on average, and for some reason I have found that I am better at listening to nonfiction books than reading them, so I feel like I’m getting smarter. (I do novels too.) I let myself give in a little to the road rage while I’m driving and someone does something egregious, but make a conscious effort to laugh it off/shake it off when I get to work. I think for me personally, it’s healthier to let it out by swearing in the moment than trying to stay completely calm. Of course, with walkers you don’t really have the privacy afforded by a car… probably yelling on the street would not be the way to go. Hope you find a good routine!

    14. Sibley*

      Can you move closer to work to cut out the commute entirely? Yeah, that seems drastic, but that kind of commute is a soul-killer eventually.

      1. BRR*

        I think that’s a great idea and the type of advice I was hoping to get. Unfortunately my spouse’s job is near and he wouldn’t be able to take public transit to it like I can to mine.

    15. A.J.*

      Everyone’s comments here are making me glad I turned down that job with a bad commute. It would have been 3 hours per day total, between the train and 5 miles of walking. When I went to my interview I tried out the commute that I would end up doing on a regular basis (instead of just driving), and I am so glad I did. I learned that the distance from the station to the office is longer than it looks on a map, and that it is completely impossible to get a seat between 6am and 10am (meaning I wouldn’t be able to work on the train).

    16. Sophia in the DMV*

      I have a 3 hour commute that I do 3-4 times a week. Some driving, then Amtrak and a commuter train. I bring a book for the short commuter train and on Amtrak I do work. Days I go in I do certain tasks while there so take the time on Amtrak to focus on other tasks in wont be able to do while there

    17. INFJ*

      I hear you! My commute is 90-105 minutes one way. It sounds like you have plenty of media/hobbies with which to entertain yourself, but are getting worn down by the noise/bustle/being around people all the time.

      Look for another way to walk from the subway to your work. When I started working in the city, I walked the most direct way to the office from the station, but it was a very busy street with lots of people and horns blaring during rush hour. Then I found another way just one block over that was so much more peaceful and scenic.

      Mentally, I don’t feel as bad about having less time at home (I leave at 6 or 7 in the morning and get back between 6 and 7 at night) if I think of the time on the train as my free time. Yes, I don’t have my SO with me as I would if I were home, but I read or mess around on the internet during my train ride and that’s what I would be doing at home anyway. Also, if I have a REALLY good book, I’m so wrapped up in it that I don’t even notice anyone else.

      Things will get so much better once you can telecommute! (I do so twice a week.) Just hang in there, 2 months will go by fast!

  9. Currently Baffled*

    So I’ve got a bit of a humorous issue going on this week. Thanks to AAM I was able to score an awesome new job that I started in August and I absolutely love it! The pay is good and the hours are reasonable and I get along well with all of my coworkers.

    One of my coworkers is an intern who started a few months before I did and she and I get along particularly well. I’m in an entry level position so she and I are pretty much doing the same type of work, and although on occasion I will give her something to do we primarily get work from the same set of people. Out of the blue this week she decided that I needed to ask out a guy in another department who’s working on the same project we are. We don’t really interact with him all that much and I actually didn’t know his correct name until she started talking about him (I was so confused as to who she was talking about until I figured out I got his name wrong). Her entire argument is based around the fact that she thinks he’s the most attractive guy in the office and that someone should date him. Since she’s in a long term relationship and therefore can’t, I’m apparently the next best option. I laughed it off and said he probably wasn’t single but I’d think about it (big mistake) and figured that would be that.

    That was Monday. On Wednesday she brought it up and I again pointed out that she didn’t even know if he was single. Instead of letting it go she went and asked another coworker if she knew if he was single. This coworker had no idea, however she is pretty good friends with the guy’s boss so she asked him if he knew if his subordinate was single. The coworker and the intern were both teasing me lightly about it (probably because I turn red at the drop of a hat) while this was going on. The guy’s boss had no idea but now apparently thinks my coworker (who’s happily married) has the hots for this guy. The coworker also has been mentioning asking a few other people he works with to see if they know his relationship status and keeps sending me IMs about it accompanied with winky emojis.

    The rational part of me knows the way to handle this is to calmly sit both of them down and tell them it’s making me uncomfortable and ask them to stop. The much larger more irrational part of me finds this whole thing hysterical and is curious to see how quickly this is going to blow up in my face. I’m only glad it hasn’t made its way to my boss since not only will she also find it hilarious, she’s the type of person to go directly to the guy and start asking him questions.

    tl:dr The intern I work with is pestering me to ask out a guy in another department because she thinks he’s a total hottie and has roped in another coworker to help out with this plot.

    1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      Is he cute? do you want to date him? office romance isn’t always a great idea but is usually a great story and i’m up for hearing about it.
      If you want to date him let your spunky coworkers do the hard work, if not id just tell them you wont date a co-worker and leave it at that.

    2. The Wall of Creativity*

      I can feel the tension from here. It can’t go on like this forever. Sooner or later someone’s going to quack.

    3. Dawn*

      Nooooo no no no no no. Nope nope nope.

      Go to her, RIGHT NOW, and tell her to *STOP*. Do not pass go do not collect $200. Straight up, “Lydia, stop talking to me about Darrien. I am not interested.” And repeat over and over and over again until she shuts up.

      This can and will bite you in the ass if you don’t shut it down. Plus, you’re very, very new, and this is the kind of thing that once the rumor mill gets ahold of can build you a reputation that you really don’t want, don’t deserve, and won’t ever be able to shake.

      1. Artemesia*

        Absolutely. This is a disaster nightmare from hell just waiting to happen. It sounds like grade school and will make you look like a fool because regardless of that fact you didn’t start this, it is on your behalf and will stick to you like glue. Go after hot guy; don’t go after hot guy. But NEVER EVER discuss it with interns and co-workers either way.

    4. Bend & Snap*

      I mean, this is going to be a buzzkill, but she needs to know this is unprofessional behavior and it needs to stop. She could also be harming this poor guy with all of this recon. It just doesn’t look good for anybody.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, and if you reverse the genders here, it might be easier to see that it’s not really cool of anyone involved. Shut it down. They’re making themselves and you look bad, and they’re doing something kind of gross and objectifying to this guy … who is, you know, there to work, not to be gawked at and speculated on.

        1. Currently Baffled*

          Thank you so much for putting it like this. The more comments I read the more I realize this is actually pretty horrifying and not at all funny.

        2. Observer*

          So well put.

          I saw the post earlier and my first thought was NOOOO. It didn’t take long to “This shounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. I started typing a response while I was on hold, but I didn’t get a chance to finish and post till now. Then I went back and saw this, and the other responses. I’m so glad to see it.

    5. CaliCali*

      She’s 100 percent trying to live vicariously through you, so all you do is call her on it. You can say something like “Yep, he’s attractive, but I’m not interested and I don’t want to be your dating proxy, so knock it off!” Said lightly, of course.

      1. Ihmmy*

        absolutely this. Don’t let it explode, it’ll just look badly on you to not be saying “No thanks” instead of “teehee I don’t even know if he’s single!” (ok you probably aren’t going teehee but not shutting it down makes you just as much a part of it)

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        Uh-huh. Along with a “I don’t date coworkers, not even when they’re in different divisions of a company. I like to keep my professional life and my personal life separate.”

    6. Devil's Avocado*

      You probably need to just shut this whole thing down, frankly. Don’t laugh along with the co-worker’s jokes about it, don’t encourage it, just shut it down. Saying you’re “curious how quickly this is going to blow up in [your] face” is a big red flag to me… if you like your job, don’t encourage (or sit back and watch) this behavior.

      A 30 year old no-fun married killjoy who has no time for that kind of stuff at work ;)

    7. Sunflower*

      TBH I got exhausted just trying to read this whole story so it sounds like it needs to be shut down right now before more people get looped in and weird rumors get started. I could on about this for days but I’ll try to shorten this.

      This is a lose lose situation. Your intern doesn’t know how the office works and by continuing to let the intern do this, you’re basically saying it’s okay what she’s doing and you agree with it and what she’s doing is not only super childish but totally not appropriate office behavior. Office romances happen but not like this. It’s super easy to get sucked up in workplace fun like this but it rarely ends well and your time is much better spent just working.

      Do you want to date the guy? Office romances aren’t the best idea but ehh they happen and people live. I’m not dating expert and this isn’t a dating site but all this ‘ask you friend if he likes my friend’ is so middle school that if I was this guy, I’d be super turned off by it. And if it was happening at work, I’d be beyond mortified and I’d be that much more turned off that you thought it was appropriate to do this at work. If you like the guy, just talk to him and see what happens. Although you’re new so I’d let at least 6 months pass before you really start considering this to happen.

    8. Currently Baffled*

      You all are absolutely right and I do plan on talking to her about it when she gets in today. I definitely don’t want to date him, so I really need to just shut it down. I guess I got caught up in her earnestness about it since she seems genuinely concerned that I’m single. I just don’t talk about relationship stuff at work so I think she got the impression that I’m lonely. I also didn’t really think about the potential repercussions since I assumed that people would get that it’s her being ridiculous, but now I can see that not being the case. Do you have any suggestions on what to do if it does get out of hand?

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Just tell her to stop it and it shouldn’t get out of hand. You need to tell her this is unprofessional and could impact her reputation, yours and that of this dude who is an innocent bystander. She went to his BOSS? I’m absolutely horrified for him.

      2. Devil's Avocado*

        Talk to her now and SHUT IT DOWN. Something like: “Lucinda, I know I’ve laughed along in the past when you’ve encouraged me to date Jeremy, but I really need you to stop doing that. I’m not interested in dating Jeremy, and even if I were this isn’t how I’d want to go about it. Thanks.” If she brings it up again “Please stop. I’m really not interested. Now about those Smith files…”

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Singledom is not a disease nor does it need curing.
        Just felt the need to say that.

        Yeah, watch out for this high school stuff. You are right, it will blow up in your face. And then it will not be funny. The reason you already know this, is so you can take steps to prevent it from being a big kerfuffle.

        What to say: Talk about being professional, this means being focused on work. Tell her that you both look like giddy high schoolers and this does no favors for either one of you. Talk about sexual harassment. Even go as far as saying, “If we were both men, we would be sued from here to breakfast for this.” Talk about her internship, she does not want a negative reference.
        Remember, the whole time you are talking your most persuasive points will probably be where you show her how her behavior impacts HER, not you.
        And finally, talk about personal boundaries. She is bound to be confused by your change in attitude so go with something like this. “The first couple of times I heard you say this, I just thought we’d laugh and then move on. Well, it has been days now, and other people have been brought it to it and it’s no longer funny. It’s tiring. Who I date and what my personal life is like does not belong in the work place. While I think you and I work well together, I also think that I am a competent adult who can manage my personal life. And I need you to respect that. Going forward you will find that most people you work with will say a similar thing.”

        If she does not seem to get this, then you may need to just point blank say, “Stop talking to me about Bob. Stop talking to other people about Bob and mentioning my name.”

        I think this woman is irritating, personally.

        1. Observer*

          Good point about references. If she pushes back, you can point out that even if people like her, they may not give her the kinds of references she needs. “Lucinda? Oh yes, she’s a really nice kid. She’ll realy go out of her way to set her co-workers up” is not really what is going to help her. Prospective employers want to hear “Lucinda? She’s great. Gets along well with people, gets her work done, and is just professional and reliable” is what you’re looking for (or as close as possible.)

    9. HighOnPoker*

      It sounds like your co-worker is really interested in this guy, and she is trying to use you as a proxy. I’d make it clear to her that you are not interested in dating someone at the office, but beyond that, if she continues to mettle, let her do her thing and watch it blow up in her face (not yours). Then, if it gets back to you, you can truthfully say, “This is all a misunderstanding. Intern was the one who was curious about setting me up with Guy, but I told her I was not interested in dating anyone with whom I work.” Meanwhile, you can enjoy the show.

    10. some1*

      Even if you wanted to date this guy & he wanted to date you, this coworker is obviously never going to let up about it. “Did he kiss you yet?” “Has he called yet?” “Did he give you a Christmas gift?” “Are you hanging out for New Years?”

    11. Observer*

      Please do the intern a favor and tell her that this behavior is hugely unprofessional. And although in your office it seems to be going over just fine, it’s the kind of thing that could really torpedo her reputation in another place.

      Keep something in mind – this is not just unprofessional. This kind of behavior can crate all sorts of problems. You think it’s hysterical and the guy still hasn’t been bothered. But, what if you did NOT think it’s funny, for some reason. And, what if this guy does not appreciate this?

      To be honest, my jaw dropped when I read that she’d actually get in on the action.

    12. olympiasepiriot*

      YMMV, but I’ve got a rule that if even Goddess’s Gift To Sex Appeal falls at my feet, if he is in any of the 3 C’s — Client, Contractor or potential or actual Colleague — I wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole.

      Me personally, I couldn’t deal with the drama nor risk of too much closeness. I like my space. I have NO idea how the Curie’s managed to share a lab. More power to people who can balance that.

      Anyhow, my rule makes it easy for me to shut down suggestions like that.

      1. Anonsie*

        Agreed. And for me, anyone in an off-limits role (friend of a guy I’m dating. guy a friend is dating. coworker. whatever) is automatically filed into a “no thank you” place in my head so I can’t say this has ever been an issue.

    13. Kassy*

      Although she really should realize on her own that her behavior is inappropriate, you also haven’t told her outright that you aren’t comfortable with it. You can just say “I don’t like the idea of dating someone from work.” If you’re pressed, this blog has about a million reasons why dating coworkers can be a problem.

      If you’re interested in ignoring it and watching it blow up, of course you can do that – and it would be far-fetched for you to get into trouble since you aren’t even doing anything here. But if it blows up, it’s likely to do so with your boss’ knowledge, so keep that in mind.

      1. Observer*

        It would be far fetched for her to get into OFFICIAL trouble. But it is quite likely to affect her negatively. Mud sticks, even if you happen to be a passer-by. And the OP isn’t just a passer-by in this.

    14. Gene*

      (I was so confused as to who she was talking about until I figured out I got his name wrong).

      Not Joaquin, by any chance?

  10. Audiophile*

    I got a job offer this week! But now I’m attempting to negotiate salary, because their offer is lower than I make right now.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I feel your pain. A hiring manager just told me that they were going to tell HR to hire me, but that HR would be offering me less than I’m making now, so I should reject it and counteroffer. Exciting, but also anxiety-producing, as I know they want me enough to make me an offer, but I’m not sure that they will be able to offer me enough of an inducement to leave my current job, which I’m pretty happy with.

      1. Audiophile*

        It’s not going well. They now asked, if they can’t meet my salary expectations, would I consider working part time or on a contract basis with them.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Ugh. That’s exactly what I’m worried about, but I was trying to be upbeat.

          Just remember, unless you’re really miserable where you are, you’re better off waiting for the right job instead of just one that’s OK.

        2. College Career Counselor*

          Unless you’re open to it AND it fits with what you want/need, I’d say don’t go contract. If enough people turn down the job because the salary is too low, they might just raise it. If not for you, then for the next person.

          1. Audiophile*

            The reason I’m pushing so hard, is they’ve already come back and said the job is changing slightly. When I interviewed, they stated it would be strictly communications/marketing/social media. They’ve now come back and said, they’d like me to “occasionally” sit at the front desk. I know most people hate the front desk, so I can see this very quickly not being an occasional part of the job. I can’t reasonably do the other parts of the job at the front desk. To me, this is a significant change to the role and warrants an increase.

            I am kind of desperate. I haven’t had a job offer in a year and a half. And I really don’t want to hit 30 with my current employer. It’s just so soul sucking.

            1. MoinMoin*

              “And I really don’t want to hit 30 with my current employer. ”
              I SOOOOOOOO get what you mean. I have 8.5 months to get my life together, so to speak. Sending all the good adulting vibes!

              1. Audiophile*

                Thank you for the good vibes!

                They went up a bit in salary and I’ve accepted verbally.

                I was getting desperate because I haven’t had a job offer in a year and a half. That last job did not work out and I was “fired” a month after I started. I didn’t expect it to take this long to be offered another job. And I turn 30 in two months. I’ve worked for the same employer for 5 years now, but for different clients of theirs. And there’s no growth opportunity here with this company and definitely nothing in my field.

                1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  Yay!!! I’ll be happy to finally receive a formal offer, and as long as they offer me just a token raise, I’ll probably take it, since 1) the benefits are a lot better, and 2) I feel like I’ve got nowhere to go in my current job, and the new job has a lot of room to grow.

                2. Audiophile*

                  I’ve got my fingers crossed for you Cosmic Avenger!

                  I’m not sure of the exact benefits package with this new job, but it has to be better than my current employer. Until I was transferred a few months ago, I hadn’t seen a raise in 4 years.

            2. Renny90*

              I get what you’re saying and they have definitely changed the job a bit but I’m coming from the hiring managers perspective and I don’t think sitting at the front desk really warrants an increase in salary. This sounds more like you’ll be expected to be a secondary or tertiary backup to the main receptionist which sounds pretty normal. And unless I’m mistaken, sitting at the front doesn’t require advanced skills or more qualified candidates. If they asked you to occasionally build web pages or to lead conferences, then yea, I would totally agree with you about the increase in pay.

    2. Kate*

      I recently applied online to a very large company. The role sounds great so after the auto email I reached out to someone in my network who worked there with the hope of getting an interview. I saw this person on Thursday night and explained my situation. Friday I was on the phone to the companies recruiter and now I have an interview on Monday morning (go networking!).

      The issue is I have a Indian friend who has their wedding this weekend and I have Henna on my hands as I really wasn’t expecting things to move so fast! It’s on the palms of my hands but still very noticeable if say I show my palm. The reason I can interview so soon so easily is that I had taken some time of early next week (when the interview is to be held) as there is a lot of out of town friends visiting for the wedding with which I wanted to spend time. So realistically with me not expecting to be at work, the Henna wasn’t going to be an issue. From a bit of a web search, no there isn’t anything I can do to get it off.

      How would you approach this? Do you think it will impact my chances for a job? Should I mention it? Mention I am on leave today anyway? or just ignore it?


      1. Bluebell*

        Just shake hands and casually mention “don’t worry -I had henna on my hands for a close friend’s wedding. It won’t rub off on you but it will fade soon.” Have fun at the wedding and good luck with the interview.

  11. BRR*

    Another question. So my new job is good. It’s a good match with my skills and the people are awesome. A problem though is it’s pretty chaotic/unorganized and I’m a rules, organization, and structure person. Both personally and it’s important for my job to not be blindsided.

    Meetings are always moved multiple times, start late, and don’t have set agendas. Everything is last minute and important. Most people are working hard to stay afloat, there are some stragglers who really need to be cut. There’s not enough planning ahead so things come up and don’t get done as well as they should because they’re rushed. People have an attitude of “well that’s just the way it is here.” My response in my head is, “well that can be changed.”

    Any tips on how to cope or any advice on how to try and influence change?

    1. Dawn*

      Keep your island of calm rationality. Run your meetings on time and with an agenda. Be an example. It’s hard- really really hard- but people will come around to your way of doing things on their own. You won’t change the entire company overnight and heck, you might not change more than one or two people but it’s the only way anyone will come around. They have to *see* how it’s done better and make the connection between doing it better and work being better in their own minds.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, this. I also find that when I’m trying to lead by example (which usually means I’m not managing the people in question, or management won’t actively support my ideas) that it helps to explain a lot more about what I’m doing and why, so I basically give people who want to change a template for it. Send out bullet points or detailed instructions if appropriate; it doesn’t mean they have to follow them, but it might get some people moving.

      2. Mike C.*

        This exactly. It’s going to be difficult at first but once you can give folks an example of better ways to do things they’ll notice that things are much more efficient.

        Seriously, see what happens the first time you end a meeting early.

    2. Cat Mechanic*

      My advice might not be super helpful as I’ve written below about my job for which I’m such a bad fit it’s given me health problems, but I too am a structure person and hate being blindsided, and my boss is a “that’s just the way it is here” person. I’m not able to survive in this environment anymore, but that is attributable also to the fact that the job is not a good match for my skills and the people are not awesome. But I was able to make it a few years and not ruin my resume by being very open in my communication with my boss and then resetting my expectations when she said “that’s just the way it is here.”

      My boss is at least a nice person, so she listens to me and is sympathetic. She just won’t change because her work style is the opposite of mine. I had to manage my stress level my resetting my expectations instead of expecting things to work the way they did at my last awesome job. It’s a coping mechanism at best for times when you need it.

    3. NicoleK*

      My workplace is chaotic and unorganized as well. The only way to cope is to adapt to your surrounding and reset your expectations. However, you may find that you can only deal for so long before the chaos gets to you.

    4. Rat Racer*

      How long have you been there? Do you work for the kind of company that seems amenable to this kind of feedback? I would just be cautious about making too many waves in a new environment – even if they are good and helpful waves. (Speaking from a “once burned, twice shy” personal perspective)

  12. Anon for this Q*

    Question about dealing with an unresponsive manager: I work in a field where sometimes clients have questions that I may know the answer, but I still need my manager to vet it (think legal). I’m working with a new manager who frequently seems overwhelmed by his job, and when I email him for these types of answers, I frequently don’t get a response (at all, though sometimes I get an answer long after the client should have heard back). In this industry, SLAs are very important, and if the client really wanted to, they could ask for refunds if we don’t respond in a timely manner (24-48 hours). When I approach my manager in person for an answer, he usually appears harried and as though I’m really stressing him out by asking a question. What are my options? I don’t really want to escalate the issue to my manager’s manager, but I don’t have a good script for approaching my manager about the problem without seeming either demanding or downright annoyed (which I am), and I don’t really want to stress him out further, just deal with the issue.

      1. Anon for this Q*

        Yes– I asked if it works best if I email him. He agreed, and said he’ll confirm the answer to me, then I can email the client.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Have you addressed with your manager that this is a pattern, rather than just trying to get what you need when you need it? Present it as concern for his schedule and client needs –“what should I do when I need sign-off and you’re not available? I want to be respectful of your schedule and make sure that the client gets what they need when they need it.”

    2. Ihmmy*

      What about basically spoonfeeding the answer whenever you can, and including a reply by time (really clearly and bolded and such when you start this up). Instead of “client wants to know what 4×2 is” “Client asked what 4×2 is and I believe the answer is 8, please confirm. [b]I need to reply to client by 5pm tomorrow[/b]”

      1. Jules the First*

        If things are really that time sensitive, can you ask your manager to nominate a second for when he doesn’t respond within x hours, and set up your emails so it’s blindingly obvious which ones are urgent?

      2. Anon for this Q*

        Sorry, should have clarified. I usually write the email as if I’m answering the client (“Hi ___, To your questions A, B, C, you need to do X, Y, Z. Etc.”) with a note up top that says “*** Please see below: client question is A-C, I answered X-Z: please confirm that this is correct.” I do all the work/write-up ahead of time, so he literally just needs to say “yes,” or “no, change to D-F,” so I’m not entirely sure what the issue is.

    3. Argh!*

      Ask permission to give the answer you think would be right. If you keep getting put off, you really should go over his head. His manager’s job is to manage employees’ workload, so if that’s the issue that’s where the solution is.

  13. Nobody*

    I’ve been in my job for two years. My first performance review was a year ago, and my managers gushed about how great they thought I was, said I was the top employee in the department, and gave me a rating of “exceeds expectations” and the maximum raise. I was a little embarrassed, because at that point, I was still learning the ropes and I felt slow and inept compared to how quickly and easily I could do everything at 5+ years in my old job.

    This year, I feel like I’m finally working up to my own standards. I’m much more proficient and productive than I was a year ago, training other employees, coming up with good ideas, etc. I even won a company award. My review, however, seemed lukewarm compared to last year’s. It was still mostly positive (with a couple of really minor, nitpicky criticisms), and I was given a high rating in most categories, but my overall rating was “meets expectations.”

    I think I was clearly a better employee this year than I was last year, but I feel like there’s been some expectation creep. Last year, I was new, and I guess they didn’t expect much from me, but now that they expect me to be the top employee in the department, even if I still am, I’ll merely meet expectations. The same thing happened at my last job — I got more praise one year in, when I barely knew what I was doing, than when I was at the top of my game with 5+ years on the job.

    What the heck am I supposed to do? I guess maybe I should take a lesson not to set the bar too high in my first year at future jobs, but that doesn’t help as long as I stay here. Should I underperform for a while until they forget my normal level of performance and then step it up to impress them again? It’s really frustrating to think that no matter how good I am, I’ll probably never exceed expectations again at this company.

    1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      Was it the same person doing the reviews? If so could it just have been changes in there mood? Did you get the maximum raise again? If you did them it might have just been a lack of enthusiasm or maybe they just finished a poor review and they were feeling off?

      1. Nobody*

        Yes, the same manager did both reviews. I didn’t get the maximum raise, just the average raise, since my overall rating was lower (meets expectations vs. exceeds expectations).

        1. Kelly L.*

          My first guess is that someone higher up chewed him out for using too many Exceeds. Yes, it’s pretty dumb, but it happens at some workplaces.

          1. Nobody*

            We are one of those stupid workplaces with a quota for ratings. I believe we are limited to 2 exceeds in our 15-person group. Apparently, I deserved one of them last year but not this year.

            1. Ms. Anne Thrope*

              We were told a few years ago that ‘everyone is a 3’, to which of course I responded ‘then why bother asking since you already know the answer?’ but of course they don’t want to hear that.


              1. Mickey Q*

                The reality is that if they keep giving you rave reviews you will expect raises all the time. The are toning it down to avoid that.

            2. Kassy*

              I think that right there is your answer. It’s possible that 10 of you truly deserve “exceeds” but there are still only 2 to be given out. With that in mind, your manager might feel the need to spread them out so that it isn’t the same two people always getting the max raises.

              I’m guessing it probably isn’t ten people, but even with four or five it still works.

              1. Jennifer*

                Hah, the only time I ever got “exceeds” in one area it was because they put me down as “needs improvement” somewhere else.

          2. MsChanandlerBong*

            Yeah, my mom’s boss told all of his department supervisors not to give out any fives on performance reviews. It doesn’t matter how well an employee performs; a supervisor can’t give more than a 4 out of 5 on a five-point scale.

            1. Kassy*

              Our supervisors never give more than 7 (“successful”) on a 10-scale, because if they give an 8 or higher, they have to document why that employee deserves that rating. I guess for 10 I could understand that, but to reserve the top 3 numbers seems extreme.

    2. Dawn*

      Let it go. You can’t be Jesus all day every day. Ask your boss(es) for pointed feedback at review time and make them tell you want their idea of “exceeds expectations” is.

      Don’t scale your performance back! Keep on being awesome- I promise, it’s being noticed- and that will help you along way more than your yearly performance reviews.

    3. Elizabeth*

      Meets expectations is a good review. Perhaps last year you were exceeding for a newbie. Where I work reviews fit on a bell curve. So maybe your boss was giving out too many “exceeds”.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, my new job is apparently fairly impressed with me. I’m not, because I’m still learning the ropes. But they know that and, for “still learning the ropes” I am doing well.

        Eventually, I will no longer “still be learning” and I expect that to be reflected in my review at that time.

    4. MaryMary*

      Share your frustrations with your manager and ask what it would take to receive an exceeds expectations next year. It could be that the bar really is lower for new hires and an experienced hire would have to be absolutely exceptional to receive an exceeds. It could be that one of those nitpicky criticisms is a bigger deal than you thought. It could be that some of your peers also had a fantastic year, and you don’t look as spectacular in comparison. When it comes to a performance ranking system like the one you’re describing, a lot of times there are other factors besides your individual performance that are taken into consideration. If it’s important to you to receive an exceeds, explicitly ask what needs to happen to get you to that rating.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Why not just ask the boss what gives?

      I had it happen in a few places that I worked. One place the boss at least had the decency to say that the first review I got would be my lightest. Subsequent reviews would be more picky/more demanding. Okay. At least I knew what to expect. That was better than the bosses who just seemed to be so randomly hot and cold.

      I suspect my boss would review everyone on X then the next set of reviews everyone got critiqued on Y. The target was always moving. We were not allowed to have copies of our reviews so I could never remember what the target of the day was. (The boss covered dozens of other points in his review, most of it had nothing to do with my work.)
      If you view it as a game or a challenge, that might help. This week’s challenge is to do better at X, next week will be something else.

    6. Snargulfuss*

      Ugh, I get your frustration. I was once “reassured” that I didn’t get an exceeds expectations rating because going above and beyond the job is “just what we do.” Really, it was just a rating quota thing, but seriously, how are you ever supposed to get an exceeds expectations rating (and the raise rate that comes with it), if exceeding expectations is supposedly part of the job.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I always hated the interview question about telling about a time when I went above and beyond what the job required of me because for most of my jobs going above and beyond was literally in my job description (think like similar to a hotel concierge).

  14. ACA*

    So I have a very weird conundrum in that it’s a lucky problem to have, but kind of a problem nonetheless:

    I have too much vacation time. We can have a max of 24 days accrued at any time, and you stop accruing more until you use some. I hit the max in July, hit it again in October, and will hit it again by March. (I have vacation time scheduled in December, or it would be even sooner.) Also, while I’ve been at my company for almost four years, I’ve only been in my current office for a few months, so I’m still getting a feel for how things are done in terms of what’s an acceptable amount of time off. Should I just…start taking off on random Fridays or Mondays? Take a week off in February and spend it napping and binging on the latest season of House of Cards? Accept that I’m never going to beat the system, and also my diamond shoes are too tight?

    1. Dan*

      If you have too much vacation time, it’s because you’re not using it. This is NOT a good problem to have!

      My problem is that I don’t have enough vacation — while my company gives me 4 weeks a year, I actually use it for long trips overseas, so I don’t have enough for random days off…

    2. Christy*

      1. Random week stay-cation sounds like a great way to burn some time.
      2. Random Fridays, or perhaps Friday half-days every Friday for a few months.

      Do not admit defeat! They give you the leave because they want you to use it! It’s not a bad thing to take leave.

      1. CherryScary*

        My fiancee did #1 this week. He had an extra week of vaca that I didn’t have, so he took this whole week off and just played Fallout 4. I was incredibly jealous.

    3. MKT*

      I really like the week off in February for House of Cards. I think that’s an EXCELLENT use of vacation time.
      Might even do that myself.

    4. fposte*

      Since we have some rollover and I don’t get out much, I lose vacation time every year. I don’t worry a lot about it.

      But it does sound to me like you haven’t thought about time off as something separate from leaving town, and I would encourage you to do so. Yes, absolutely take Fridays off. A nap and HoC week in February sounds awesome. I agree with checking with your supervisor if you’re looking at cutting several weeks short, but not if it’s about getting reasons approved. I’d just say “I’ve got a pile of vacation and was planning to take Fridays off for the next few weeks; I don’t anticipate any problem in the workflow from what I can see, but if there’s a reason that you need me here for any of them, please let me know.”

      1. BRR*

        “time off as something separate from leaving town”

        I read this in the comments every time I read yahoo articles “Who can afford to go on vacation anywhere?!?!” A week at home with no commuting, no work, and rest sounds rather nice to me.

    5. LCL*

      Random Fridays or Mondays always works for me.
      The year I took a series of Wednesdays off for ski lessons worked even better.

      1. EmilyG*

        When I’ve been in this situation, I love taking Wednesdays. A long weekend just makes me inefficient. A random day off in the middle of the week gives me an extra “Friday night” on a Tuesday, plus two mini-weeks and a break in between!

        1. LabTech*

          I’ve been doing this a lot lately, too. Really helps fighting against burn-out, whereas a week off for me would make me stir-crazy sitting around the house.

    6. Ad Astra*

      Ooh, I am jealous. Personally, I like to use most of my vacation days on random (or strategic) Fridays and Mondays, mostly because I live a few hours from most of my friends and family and like to take weekend trips. That’s generally less disruptive to your team than taking off a whole week, and it saves you the stress of coming back to a week’s worth of emails.

      But, if you’re not sure about the culture in your office, I think that’s a really reasonable thing to bring up with your manager.

    7. LBK*

      I’m facing this exact issue right now as I’m about to lose over a week of vacation at the end of the year, ergo I’ve decided to spend a week of December laying in bed playing video games. I vote strongly in favor of a napping/House of Cards staycation. Another suggestion: if you travel or otherwise take occasional long weekends, tack an extra recovery day on to them in between when your trip/event is over and when you go back to work. Not only will it eat up some extra days, I just find it nice to be able to mentally transition rather that going straight from vacation mode to work mode.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I try to do that, too — adding a day to a weekend trip makes everything much nicer! And gives you a chance to do laundry, etc. (And by “etc.” I mean watch tv!)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I like that too. Random Fridays are awesome, especially since I changed front desk days (now I cover lunch on Wednesdays–yay!). But we accrue PTO and I don’t like taking it. I’m taking one day at Thanksgiving and maybe a half day before Christmas, and it’s stressing me out because I really really really really want to go to Europe next year before our FYE.

    8. Emmie*

      It sounds like you might not have specific days in mind. I would approach my manager, ask what times are convenient for the business, and explain that I do not care about the time off. I worked with a man who did this. He scheduled his vacation days when no one else was off, and even took 1/2 days every day in December that no one else vacationed (so all but the week around Christmas. ) His flexibility was definitely appreciated, and his approach demonstrated his focus on business needs.

    9. LadyHope*

      I hear you. Between vacation time and comp time I could literally take off for 6 1/2 weeks. Except since I get comp time instead of overtime (I work for a state university so yes, it’s legal ) I can’t actually afford to take a vacation. Fortunately the cap on vacation time is very high. The cap on comp time is lower so I always use that first.

    10. Boop*

      Definitely you could ask your supervisor, but I wouldn’t recommend taking too many random Monday/Friday days off – it just looks a little questionable.

      Perhaps your supervisor would allow you to use some of the time to leave early one day a week? For about four months I left an hour early on Tuesdays and worked an extra hour on Thursdays. If you have a class or activity (or just want to leave early and take a nap!) you want to do, maybe you can ask your supervisor if you could take your vacation in small increments over a period of time.

      It sounds a little snotty, but I also have this problem. Taking a significant vacation (more than 2 consecutive days) from August to June is pretty much impossible in my job because the workload is too high and I’d be four weeks making up the work. And July is tough because I’m assisting others in the office during that month since that’s their busy time! We can only have 45 days, and if you exceed that amount during the contract year it gets chopped off in the new contract year.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        What do you think is questionable about random Fridays/Mondays? (Genuine question, not trying to be snarky!) In my office, this is pretty common, same thing with the day before or after any holidays when the office is closed. People can maximize travel this way (ie cheaper to fly out on a Thursday night than Fri night/Sat morning).

        1. LCL*

          Random Mondays-Fridays (random days at the start/end of the workweek) are a common thread of people that like to party a little too hard. If you plan and schedule them ahead of time it doesn’t like fishy. If you do like the person who called in today and said ‘something came up’, well, you know what we are all thinking. In this corner of the world, that would be ski slopes open, not drugs.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Around here they offer mini courses at some places. You can go and learn blacksmithing or basket weaving, or whatever. Maybe you could chew up some vacation time that way.

    12. CollegeAdmin*

      I have the same issue – I went from retail to temping to 2 bosses who strongly discouraged vacation, so now in my new role I have to “learn” how to take vacation.

      I would do the random days, and also think about any housework or errands you’ve been putting off. I’m taking a week off in December to clean, go shopping, and get my hair done, just because I can :)

    13. Lillian McGee*

      I do both of those things as well. The week-long staycation is a great recharge for me, especially if I spend the whole time on the couch spending nothing! My vacation time resets at the end of January so I often end up taking an errant Friday or two (or three) that month. Lots of people in the office do that as well toward the end of their accrual year.

      It’s your vacation, take it!

    14. Kassy*

      I work for a state agency where EVERYONE is way overworked and paid comp time instead of overtime. So those who have been here four or five years are constantly hitting their max vacation. Luckily for us, they only “sweep” once a year (on Halloween) and so that’s the only time you’re penalized for being over. October is a ghost town around here. I’m guessing other people at your company have probably had this problem, and so there’s some sort of convention here that someone can point out to you.

      This has been said several times, but your House of Cards week sounds excellent!

    15. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I like taking an occasional 3 day (or 4 day!) weekend to burn through extra days. Sometimes I’ll also take a “productive” day off, schedule any doctor/dentist/whoever appointments that I’ve been procrastinating (you know, the kind you can really only get done at an odd time on a weekday) and get those all out of the way.

      My husband had a bunch of extra days this year (I went on 2 girls’ trips, so I used mine for travel), so he is taking off the whole week of Thanksgiving, then between Christmas and New Years. He’ll do some productive house stuff but I’m sure he’ll also spend a lot of time playing video games or watching Netflix. I’m super jealous!

    16. themmases*

      Are you able to sell any of it back? Sometimes place that give a lot of PTO have some way for you to do this. You would have to pay some taxes on it but it’s better than just not accruing an earned benefit due to the cap.

      I knew people at my old job, especially managers, who did this all the time because there was no way they could take all that they earned. The year I knew I was going to leave, I was able to use some of my accrued PTO as partial payment for a computer I bought through the employee purchase program.

    17. squids*

      I ended up with extra vacation time this year, and I’ve got 6 weeks of 4-day weeks leading up until the holiday break. Not so bad. Helps a lot with shopping, cooking, cleaning, and prepping for when my other part-time work starts up in January.

    18. Noah*

      I’m in the same boat. We can only accrue so much and only so much rolls over. We just lose the rest. I negotiated for extra vacation, but with floating holidays and comp time I haven’t used much this year.

      I’ve started working half days on Wednesdays and have a week scheduled around Thanksgiving to take off. Planning another week in January where I either stay home or go someplace close.

  15. Turanga Leela*

    Office etiquette question: I have a coffee mug on my desk at work. I don’t wash it often; I just rinse and re-use. When the office cleaning staff comes through once a week, they’ll wash my mug and any other dishes/utensils (like a fork left from lunch) that happen to be on my desk. I feel awkward about this—dishes seem like something I should take care of on my own. But maybe this is just part of having my office cleaned. Any thoughts on this?

    1. AnotherFed*

      That would weird me out. I’d probably start putting it in a drawer or bringing it home so it just wasn’t there to wash.

    2. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      That’s weird, if you know what day they’re coming maybe pop it in a drawer or talk to you boss about relaying a message to the company about touching items on staff desks.

    3. Bethy*

      Part of me thinks you’re fine, since it’s your office and not a common area, but maybe the custodial staff is worried about it becoming a bigger problem? Maybe you could put a note saying “I’ll take care of these!” or something. I think if you haven’t said you are going to handle it they will keep doing it, but perhaps grudgingly, because they think you expect it now.

    4. acmx*

      For when our cleaning crew does a “deep clean”, we’re to remove personal items from our desks.

      I’d have to rewash my dishes after the cleaning crew, though.

    5. Daisy Steiner*

      I think it really depends on the workplace. I’ve worked places where it was totally normal to leave your dishes for the cleaners to clear away, and others where that was a huge no-no – you had to clear them yourselves. In those places, the cleaners would still take them away, as it would be unhygienic to leave dirty dishes around overnight, but it was considered impolite to the cleaners as it wasn’t really their job.

    6. LBK*

      I think I’d just take it as a nice perk/gesture. If you’re leaving them on your desk I think that’s a clear indication that you’re not expecting them to be washed for you (as opposed to leaving them in the sink, which might come off a little presumptuous and therefore they might be doing it begrudgingly rather than going out of their way to collect items from around the office).

    7. Tris Prior*

      This happened all the time at my last job and I felt really awkward about it too! I guess it is just sometimes a thing that happens?

      (though, this wasn’t as weird as the time I was traveling for work and one night when I got back to my hotel room, I noticed the maid had cleaned all the hair out of the hairbrush I’d left on the bathroom counter…..)

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I wouldn’t mind as long as they returned it to the right desk. I sometimes leave my mug in the sink for the house elves (I call them that because we don’t see them) to put in the dishwasher and remove the tea stains. But I’m paranoid, because it’s my AAM mug and I don’t want another coworker to take it.

    9. Oryx*

      This would actually really annoy me, but only because I’m weird about coffee mugs and can taste a difference (that I don’t like) in mugs that are freshly cleaned so I just do the rinse out. I’d probably just put it in a desk drawer or something so they didn’t have access to it.

    10. Rebecca in Dallas*

      That’s weird to me, too. I’d just wash it after they do. I’m weird about dishes, though, if they don’t go through the dishwasher I only trust myself to wash them. I’m too afraid that there will be soap left!

    11. BRR*

      My new job has a cleaning person that does dishes (can I defer my office dishes and bring in my ones from home?) and I find it weird and uncomfortable. She knows my mug stays on my desk after she asked and I said I prefer to keep it so nobody else uses it (it’s my chocolate teapots LTD mug :D). If I were you, either grow comfortable because that’s part of their job or keep it in a drawer.

    12. Turanga Leela*

      Thanks, guys. I don’t mind having someone else touch my mug; it’s really just guilt because I feel like I should clean up after myself and it might not be part of the cleaning person’s job. This week I told her that I’d take care of it, so I’ll see if she decides to wash it or leave it next week.

  16. katamia*

    Slightly complicated resume question.

    For about 2 years, I worked from home editing Defense Against the Dark Arts textbooks. I worked for two companies, Gryffindor Inc and Ravenclaw LLC. Because it was basically the same work and I was a contractor, I’ve been listing this on my resume as “Contracting Editor” and not mentioning the company names at all. Listing the company names would be awkward because I left Gryffindor at one point and returned a few months later.

    When I got a related job editing Charms and Potions textbooks for Hufflepuff Pvt Ltd, I moved to another country because, well, that’s where the job was. Therefore, I quit working for Gryffindor again and informed Ravenclaw that I was leaving the country. The end date for my “Contracting Editor” entry is listed as July 2015 on my resume, and I started working at Hufflepuff in August 2015.

    Hufflepuff turned out to be a terrible fit for various reasons that aren’t important here, so I wound up quitting. My last day is tomorrow, so Hufflepuff would go on my resume as having been from August 2015-November 2015. Ick.

    I plan to go back to editing DADA textbooks. Gryffindor really likes me. I’m 99% sure they will take me back if I ask. Also, due to a communication mixup, I accidentally never officially quit working for Ravenclaw and didn’t realize this until after I knew I was quitting Hufflepuff, so I never quit because I knew I wanted to do DADA textbooks again. So technically I’ve been employed with Ravenclaw the whole time.

    However, the pay is mediocre at Gryffindor and downright terrible at Ravenclaw. I’d like to try to get hired at Slytherin, Durmstrang, or Beauxbatons before going back to Gryffindor because they pay better. I might do a little bit of work for Ravenclaw, but I’m planning to contact Gryffindor probably at the start of January if I can’t find anything else.

    So what is the least awkward way of putting all this on my resume? Would it be worse to leave Hufflepuff off and just have a weird explanation-defying gap between my two stints as a Contracting Editor, or am I better off listing Hufflepuff? (I have reasonable answers for why I left Hufflepuff after such a short time for future interviews.)

    1. Future Analyst*

      First, LOVE the names.

      Now- per your actual question: for the time being, keep Hufflepuff on your resume– you can leave it off once you’ve been at your next company for a while. It may work best for you to do work for Ravenclaw right now, so that you have continuous “coverage” while you’re working on finding something new.

      1. katamia*


        I actually haven’t done any work for Ravenclaw since July, though–I feel like that’s a pretty long gap to leave something on your resume when you’re not doing any work for them, even though Ravenclaw is a “marketplace”-type employer–they don’t assign any work, they just put it all up when it comes in, and then it’s first-come, first-serve for who gets each job (similar to Mechanical Turk). There have been other months when I didn’t do any work for Ravenclaw because they didn’t have much work available, but July-December (because I won’t be able to do any for this month) is a much longer gap.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Do you not want to lump the Hufflepuff job in with the other work because it was regular employment (non-contract), or because it was a different subject? If you’re reasonably certain you’ll be able to return to the DADA contract work in the very near future, I would leave Hufflepuff off, list “Editor (contract) , June 2013-August 2015, January 2016-present” (or whatever the actual dates were) and if asked, say I took a break between assignments.

      Now, the more important question: how does one get a job editing textbooks?

      1. katamia*

        I have no idea, actually! I couldn’t make the teapot metaphor work for this question, so I went with something reasonably similar but not identical to the work I actually did. I didn’t want to use the actual work because I didn’t want people to be able to identify me.

    3. Anna*

      You worked for Hufflepuff for a year. Why leave it off? Since you were a contracting editor, it wouldn’t be insane to have multiple companies listed during the same time frame. List them as separate gigs. I have similar things on my resume and the only time it’s been weird is in automated online apps that get confused by dates. Every other time it’s never even raised an eyebrow. Literally nobody has ever asked me about the overlapping dates.

    4. Amy*

      Okay, this may be totally off the wall…but would it make sense to put “Freelance Contracting Editor (November 2013-5)” or something? Not sure if freelance really applies, but it sounds similar.

      1. katamia*

        For Hufflepuff or for Gryffindor and Ravenclaw? That’s how I have it set up for Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, but Hufflepuff is different enough that I can’t lump them together; I was doing the exact same thing for Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, basically.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          Why not put freelance contracting editor with a timespan and then list hufflepuff, ravenclaw and gryffindor underneath?

  17. Folklorist*

    Missed it last week–was actually being productive!–but, ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!

    What have you been putting off all week (or all month)? A tricky conversation, annoying emails, terrible voicemail followups? I can guarantee you the guilt is worse than doing them!

    Go do THAT THING, and come back here to brag about it when you’re done. It will feel oh-so-good, and a great way to wrap up the week!

    1. Anxa*

      Packing for Thanksgiving trip. Not that I need a lot to pack, but I get very weird about getting ready for trips. I always forget something I’ve been meaning to return o take back.

      1. Anxa*

        Whoops: work related:

        There’s an administrative portion of myjob I’ve slacked off on majorly, as I literally didn’t have time to take the 10 minutes a week some weeks. Now I’m way behind and have no idea what to write down. :-/

        1. Folklorist*

          :-) OK, what’s one tiny thing you need to do to get that admin project rolling? Do you have to find files to start filing? Get them out! Set them in front of you! Need to print documents to put in them? Open the first documents or two they’re in the background and you can hit print whenever you have two seconds.

          The smallest thing to get the ball rolling–even if you can’t even devote 10 minutes right now–will help you in the future.

    2. Anna*

      At work, putting together this quarter’s newsletter to send to our community partners. At home, talking to someone about an event I’m planning they would like to perform at. I don’t particularly like this person or the style of music they play BUT I’ve always been nice to her and she’s a good singer, so…I resolved to respond today after putting it off for weeks.

    3. OwnedByTheCat (formerly Anony-Moose)*

      Writing an email that I just didn’t know how to word.

      Sending a bunch of letters out.


    4. Elizabeth West*

      Updating a set of report documents. The other ones I had to do first because we use them more often, but once I finished, I didn’t want to even look in the folder for a while. I did start doing them yesterday, in case we need them again soon.

    5. Ad Astra*

      I busted through tons of nagging tasks all week and I’ve really felt on top of my game, but today’s productivity has been close to zero. You win some, you lose some.

    6. bridget*

      I have to fill out a form to adjust my health insurance plan during open season. I’ve had the form for a month, I know or have all of the information readily available, including the plan I need to switch to, and I just can’t seem to force myself to look up the new plan’s code or ask my husband for his social security number.

    7. Rat Racer*

      Responding to a horrible, tedious, ridiculous RFP that is asking for information in a format that doesn’t make sense, or if we do have it, it is proprietary. The benefit consulting firm that owns the RFP doesn’t like my company anyway, and I don’t think we’ll win the account no matter what I say. I was going to start working on it though – and then my computer crashed so I am hanging here until everything on work laptop reboots.

  18. Bend & Snap*

    Any tips on how to talk to my manager about awards? Basically my company has a reward program that anyone can nominate someone for an award and it comes with a monetary component. There are some people who get them just about every quarter (including someone I manage) and some who never get them at all. I used to get them frequently but since I got a new (awesome) manager I’ve only received one award in the past 18 months, despite getting high praise for great work and creativity. Prior to that time I had 6 awards in 2.5 years.

    I talked to him about it and he said he’s been accused of being stingy with this program. And that if I do a good job on the big project I just finished I should get an award. And he thought he gave me one for another awesome thing I did (he didn’t) but would check. I told him I didn’t get one for that and never heard anything else about it.

    So…big project is over and no award even though I got a lot of praise for the great results and boss called it “a great victory.”

    I don’t want to sound entitled, but I am frustrated and it’s demotivating to see the lists of people who get this recognition every quarter and not ever have my name on the list. Especially when my boss’s name is on the list.

    This program is highly encouraged by our leadership so that’s not the issue. And apparently the issue isn’t my work quality, attitude or performance.

    So…what now?

    1. AnotherFed*

      If anyone can nominate anyone for an award, can one of your fellow coworkers nominate you? It sounds like you’re doing the work that would earn a nomination, so if it doesn’t matter who nominates you, there’s no reason to pester the manager that doesn’t seem to keep his word on that stuff.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Technically they can, but he’s the only one who has the insight into this particular project to be able to nominate at the right level. When peers do nominations they’re typically fluffy, collaboration type nods at the lowest recognition/monetary level possible.

      2. Bend & Snap*

        And I don’t think I’m “pestering my manager.” I am asking a reasonable question about how to be recognized for my work.

        1. AnotherFed*

          Right, that wasn’t meant to be a judgemental word choice, so I apologize. I meant that if you have to nag the guy to keep his word on actually getting you an award that he promised you, the problem is that *your manager doesn’t keep his word* without a lot of help.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            I don’t want to drop it when I’ve only had one conversation about it. This is a big deal in my organization and I’m not going to sacrifice my visibility/recognition, plus these awards can go up to thousands of dollars.

            I’m looking for language to approach it again with my boss.

            1. OwnedByTheCat (formerly Anony-Moose)*

              I think that your visibility and recognition might be key here. Is your manager new to the company? You could frame it as: these aren’t just feel-good awards, they’re a way for us to share our successes and be recognized for our individual work that often other teams might not be aware of. It’s important for me to be recognized accordingly. It’s not about wanting a pat on the back, it’s about a documented recognition of going above and beyond.

              1. Sunflower*

                Is it also possible your manager thinks these awards are meant for lower on the totem pole people as a way to encourage them?

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  Kind of. He basically has a higher standard for more senior people, which is fine. But there’s a difference between an incredibly high standard and no recognition whatsoever. The one award I’ve had since he joined actually came from his boss.

              2. Bend & Snap*

                I like this. He’s been here a long time, but if I frame it as “merchandising my work” which he’s big on, and feeling devalued within the team, it may help. Thanks!

    2. Anna*

      It sounds like the award process is not standardized. Sometimes you do something amazing and you get awarded; sometimes you do something amazing and someone else gets an award. Does anyone have any insight in to how the decision is made on who gets an award? I mean, 6 in 2.5 years seems like an excessive amount to me.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        that’s a pretty normal cadence. The whole point of the program is that if someone decides it’s award worthy, it is. It goes through 2-3 levels of approval but the only way it gets denied is if there are duplicate awards.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      In order to sound NOT entitled you might try advocating for evenness across the board. Granted a more senior person could have to do x,y and z to get an award, where a newer person could do x and maybe half of y. At least this is a rule that everyone understands. But for your boss to have a rep of being stingy is not an accomplishment. Over time it will wear his people down. Notice how I am talking about the impact on the department as a whole, this makes it sound less about you and more about the bigger picture, which, of course includes you and your concerns.

      The problem is that senior people are still people. People need kudos, they need motivational devices, praise, etc. It’s part of being human. The company offers this award program because the company expects him to use it as a tool to keep his department humming along. If people have to watch others get awards they know they cannot get, these people will not be humming along. It’s just predictable human nature.

      If you feel up to the discussion you could say that while some believe that people should not need awards to do their jobs, reality is that when awards are well done and done in an even, predicable manner people will tend to respond. You are saying he is an awesome boss, so maybe you can have this type of discussion and gain some ground.

      Lastly, while not true compensation, some people do look forward to receiving an award as an extra, a fringe benefit of working for your company. Ask him “If a spouse fails to randomly thank another spouse for doing what they do, what happens to that marriage?” Then point out that a similar type of thing can happen in work places.

  19. Weekday Warrior*

    Any other managers feeling a bit burned out by the emotional labour of organizing birthday, wedding, baby, retirement celebrations/gifts, which are a minefield of potential offence! And now the holiday season begins. Parties, secret santas, etc. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Makes me crave a big bag of humbugs (a real candy)!

    1. Weekday Warrior*

      I should clarify that it’s certainly not just managers that get burned by having to organize social function and take the flak from the dissatisfied. My sister still shudders thinking about the holiday lunch for coworkers she had to organize years ago. Despite extensive consultation and seeming agreement on date, time, venue, menu….lots of back channel complaints after the fact. Some people can’t just enjoy a nice paid for lunch…

      1. Ama*

        There’s one particular coworker in our office who took over the holiday party planning a few years ago (interestingly enough, in an office that’s 90% women, our holiday party planner has been a man the entire time I’ve been here), and I always try to be super responsive to his emails about it, not only because he does a great job, but I’m super glad it’s not my responsibility!

      2. Xarcady*

        I’ve come to realize that you can absolutely try your very best, and someone will complain. Order 10 different kinds of pizza for an office pizza party, including no cheese for the person who doesn’t eat much fat, vegan, meat-lovers, white sauce instead of red, and someone will complain there’s no pepperoni, anchovy and olive pizza.

        You organize events at work with the realization that out of 100 people, maybe 5 will thank you, most won’t have any idea that you did more than make a few phone calls so they don’t think thanks are necessary, and about 20% will complain about the event until the next event.

        1. CVM*

          I am a really big fan about the ethos where I work:

          Nobody can agree on the best way to have a celebration, but everybody likes getting the day off work.

    2. xarcady*

      Streamline the whole thing. I suspect trying to cancel all the celebrations would upset some people, but you could try going to one celebration a month. One cake, and announce all the birthdays/new babies/weddings then. Everyone gets exact the same treatment, and hopefully the same size piece of cake.

      If gifts are absolutely necessary (I’d try to get out of that), come up with one gift for each occasion and give that–new baby=three packs of diapers and a gift card to Babies R Us, retirement=a clock, etc. Or at least designate a set amount to be spent on each gift.

      Or outsource it. Are there a few rabid celebrators in your department who would be comfortable as a Social Committee? Give them a budget and the warning that what they do for one person must be done for all (no playing favorites) and let them do the work.

      And you can tell the new Social Committee that they can only have two or three things for the holidays–one gift exchange, one decoration contest, one party. You are the manager; you get to set the rules.

      Another thought for the holidays is to announce a cutback on the celebrating, and turn the annual gift exchange into buying presents for a charity to distribute, or something like that. Employees who complain can be told that they are free to exchange gifts with each other if they want, there just won’t be a big, official gift exchange party. We did this at OldJob–the owner signed up the company to sponsor one family for gifts. They collected enough that the organization was able to give gifts to two other families, as well.

    3. Devil's Avocado*

      Yes! The responses on the gift giving post from last night had me feeling especially Scroogey. It seems like people read way too much into everything, and are basically looking for reasons to be offended by what gift they did (or didn’t get). Total minefield.

  20. Sunflower*

    We have a new admin in our department who just graduated college in the spring. She sits next to me so I am the first person she goes to with questions or comments about the processes of our office. I’ve never worked with someone in their first professional position and I’m having difficulty explaining some things to her. The biggest ones would be

    1. Why the company doesn’t give us all available information all the time/constant updates. She started a week before they announced the hire of a new Chief of our department. No one told her that she would be supporting this person(I assume because the position was vacant at the time). I’m really not sure why- I assume because there just isn’t time to give constant updates and if you throw out too many possible scenarios, that just seems like a disaster of wrong information being passed around and upset employees. Any other suggestions?

    2. That her job description subject to change. Everytime she is tasked to do something that is slightly out of her job description, she becomes upset that no one told her in the interview that she would have to do that. She has also said that ‘she didn’t sign up to be a secretary'(I don’t know a ton about the difference between a secretary and an admin but it seems like she does some secretarial tasks like submitting expense and scheduling meetings but she also has other projects her boss or someone else in the dept gives her.)

    These are just the big things but I could use advice on general things to say when what I want to say is ‘Sorry these are just the way things are!’

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I don’t know what to suggest for point #1, but I would redirect her on point #2 and tell her to talk to her boss about this kind of stuff. It’s not your job to explain the expectations of her role. If you wanted to say something in the moment, you could respond with something like, “In this role, as in most professional roles, job duties are evolving and part of the expectation is that you will pitch in on tasks as needed. If you have concerns about your duties, I would speak to [Supervisor] about them.”

      I’m not sure what she thought being an “admin” was, because I have been some version of an admin a few times in my life and they all involved some degree of “secretarial” tasks, whether that meant managing someone’s calendar or answering phone lines or whatever. The point of an admin is to make a person or a department’s work life easier, and sometimes those tasks are what are involved.

    2. Dawn*

      She’s a blank slate and knows nothing about the working world- so cut her huuuuuge amounts of slack! For point 1, I think it’s fine to just point out that’s how it is where you work. Be sure to say that some companies are super communicative and some are not, and that one of the things you just have to do as an employee is get to know how your employer operates. For point 2, keep in mind that for the last however many years of her life she’s existed in a “Here is your class schedule. Here are the times that you will go to and from class. Here is your reading list. Here is your homework. This is when your homework is due. This is how you should format your homework. No you cannot go to the bathroom unless you ask.” Transitioning from that to the working world where a good employee has to be flexible is tough! Keep that in mind as you talk to her about typical expectations of employees and how the working world is vs the school world.

    3. Sadsack*

      I don’t see a problem with you saying that! Nicely, of course. You could say that we all end up working on things occasionally that we don’t expect, but it helps to remind yourself that you are gaining new skills and experience that way.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wonder if she didn’t actually understand what an admin role is, because it is indeed often quite secretarial in nature. Honestly, I’d be pretty blunt with her and just say, “Admin roles usually include secretarial-type work. It’s part of what the job is.”

      Frankly, I’d also say, “It sounds like you’re taken aback by some of what you’re encountering here, but this is pretty normal work stuff; this is how offices run.”

      Reading in between the lines, she sounds unusually negative for someone who should be in learning mode.

    5. AnonAcademic*

      What I do is use my experience as a reference point – something like “I remember when Beatrice was the admin here/at my last company, she had to restock copy paper all the time – I think that falls under ‘other duties as assigned.'” In my case I *was* the admin once (well, my field’s equivalent) so I just say something like “yeah I remember having to do that, those tasks are a pain but it’s just part of the job.”

      I’m not sure how she doesn’t realize that “administrative assistant” is basically an updated term for “secretary”…

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’d be curious to find out what she thought the job would be. I bet if pressed, she’s not even sure what she expected. I think she naive about the work world, but, she thinks you are a friendly person who will help.

    6. Anonsie*

      Agreeing with everyone else on point #2, but also… Was the job listing she applied to/the job title she has all dressed up to make the role sound more technical or managerial than it actually is? Because I see this with admin jobs all the time. They really want someone to do secretarial work, but they gussy up the title and description to make it sound like you’re much closer to the work you’re supporting than you actually would be. I wonder if your company does this and she’s too new to the whole thing to have read between the lines.

    7. Ama*

      I could see being upset about number 1 depending on how she found out — i.e. did the Chief get introduced to her as “here’s Jane, she’ll be assisting you” and that’s the first she heard of it? I could see that just being an oversight because, as you say, the position was vacant when she was hired. But if she was called in to her boss’s office and told about it ahead of time it seems a little much.

      But yeah, the nature of being an admin (I was one for a long time) is that the “other duties as assigned” portion of the job description is a good chunk of what you end up doing day-to-day.

    8. Mando Diao*

      For #2, you could tell her that, in the working world, it’s assumed that all admin roles are quasi-secretarial, which is why those responsibilities and tasks might not have been stated outright. “Everyone pretty much knows that this is how admin roles work. Either learn to accept these tasks, or don’t apply for admin roles the next time you’re job hunting.” Be nicer if you want, or not.

      Also, it sounds like she’s taking the “women should decline to do housekeeping stuff” too literally, given that she accepted the admin position. She needs to be reminded that you can’t brush of the “women’s work” when it’s your job to do it, regardless of gender.

  21. Long-Winded UPDATE!*

    I wanted to thank everyone for the advice last week (Summary: I like my current job fine and had planned to stay longer, but had two offers both at good companies with better pay, but I was iffy on the actual work. A is similar to what I’m doing, B is a gigantic company doing different work) and give an update:
    I went with B – The second interview was SPECTACULAR. I really liked the people I met; and after hearing more, the work is more related to my long-term goals than I initially thought. The pay/perks/benefits are great – better base pay, plus overtime and two annual bonuses, very supportive of professional development, they encourage people to stay in the company but move within departments/project types (even different office locations) if they want a change.
    They are also being really great about scheduling – I’m not starting until the new year, so I can give 4 weeks notice at my current job, finish out a big deadline and relax over the holidays.
    Thanks for all the input, and here’s to good changes in the new year!

  22. Crispy*

    How can you tell if you’re burnt out or just lazy? Also, how can you tell as a manager if your employee is burnt out or lazy?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I think burnt out is something that is relatively temporary whereas laziness is more of a character trait. (I mean, I know sometimes I am being lazy, but I’m not a lazy person.). So it depends on what you know about this individual and yourself and how they’ve been in the past.

      1. Anna*

        I consider myself situationally lazy. I can get a project done, no problem. But I suck at keeping my house picked up. I would much rather catch up on the DVR than vacuum. I need to figure out a way to make the vacuuming more like an event-planning project.

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          Oh, I’m the same way. I’m SO motivated at work (although I do have bouts of laziness) but not motivated at all to keep up with cleaning.

    2. Merry and Bright*

      Having been in this position myself (though not in current job) I think it depends on whether that’s your usual feeling. If you felt energised and enthusiastic before, then I’d say it was definitely burnout. Laziness is more to do with your general attitude to your work.

      As to an employee, it’s probably trickier to decide but has their behaviour or attitude changed? It might need a chat or a way to remotivate them. But I’d say history is probably key.

    3. Argh!*

      As a manager, all I can do is hold an employee to expectations. I can initiate a conversation about ways to enhance the job, but there are limits to how much I can change an employee’s work duties. giving someone a higher level of responsibility would be exploitive and contrary to our policy. I supervise someone who I believe is both burnt-out and lazy, or rather has a bad habit of procrastination, and goofs off rather than do something that could take 10 minutes.

      As a manager, I can’t tell him to leave, and he does just enough to keep me from being able to fire him. It’s up to him to move on if the job has lost his interest.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I can tell when I am burnt out when I start muttering “screw it”. Of course, I end up doing what needs to be done but it’s not without a few choice words. Laziness has a lot less energy/fire to it, and usually involves statements that start with “I don’t wanna…” or “I just don’t feel like it…” Laziness seems to involve apathy, at least to me.

      Employees. A burned out employee will have flickers of her old self. You will see her have brilliant moments once in a while. A lazy employee will flat line, no matter what you try.

      If you are not familiar with the person and what “normal” is for the person, then that is a little tougher. Burned out people will most times try to some extent. Sometimes burned out people will be willing to talk out some issues and you realize from what they are telling you that they have been through the mill and they are fed up. You recognize the burn out and the causes of it.
      Conversely, a truly lazy person does not really respond to anything. You coach and counsel and not much changes or maybe it changes for a short spell then reverts. I have only worked with a few truly lazy people. In the extreme, they were non-responsive to most prompts, they were almost non-interactive and they did not really care if they got fired. Those people were extreme, though.

      One last clue: A burned out employee probably has a bank of accumulated knowledge that only comes from hands on experience. They are able to talk at length and with detail. A lazy employee probably cannot have that type of in depth conversation.

  23. AlwaysAnon*

    I’ve redone my resume multiple times and finally gotten it to a point where I like it but at the same time I only have 2 freelance jobs listed (I freelance fulltime with multiple different companies). The reason I listed only 2 originally is because I work with them the most and then fill in the blank days with other random companies. I feel like I should list the other companies somehow but I don’t like the look of my resume when I do so. Also I have a website/portfolio so I feel like employers can figure out that I have freelanced on multiple jobs that way but I’m not sure. Any input?

    1. CM*

      Maybe you could have another item for “Additional Work” and list the other companies and projects under that?

  24. Meg Murry*

    Need advice on how to approach this situation, specifically whether I should ask for a Title bump, more money (and how much) and how best to time it? Sorry for the novel.

    I kinda, sorta got a promotion yesterday. My boss mentioned at my mid-year review (which only happened a few weeks ago because we are so behind) that one of the next steps for me would be to start getting some “supervisory responsibility”. Well, last week we hired a new technician (who had already been working here on a part time, temporary basis) and yesterday during a group meeting, the big boss announced that we were changing up our org structure, and the technician would be reporting to me, and another person also got moved to report to someone else. We were also told some of our responsibilities would be changing, and we were all going to be pushed to grow and take on more responsibilities.

    However, nothing else was said of it other than “we’ll help get you and the other newly appointed supervisor some training on being supervisors”. I’m trying to decide if I should ask for a title bump and/or a pay raise now, or if I should wait for my end of year review and bring it up then (which will only be in a month or so if we actually do them before the end of the year), and if I do, what I should ask for.

    My title now is Senior Teapot Researcher, which is a pretty respectable title in and of itself – in my industry, one doesn’t usually get the word “Senior” until at least 10 years of experience, at some of the larger companies usually not until 15 years. At some of the larger companies in this area, the first level supervisor holds the title “Group Leader” or “Team Leader” – but I’m not sure that actually sounds like a step up to me in this case, and in my situation the majority of my day will still be spent as a “do-er” as a Teapot Researcher. The other person that is also being bumped up to supervisor already has the title “manager”, because he was managing a program. Should I ask to be “Senior Researcher and Manager” or “Senior Researcher and Group Lead”. FWIW, the big boss’s title is Executive Director, and my boss’s title is Research Manager.

    And then there is money. How much of a bump would you expect when you start throwing supervisory duties in the mix? I have been an unofficial supervisor/mentor in the past, where I was generally involved in assigning a person’s day to day tasks but I’ve never had to have primary responsibility for reviews, vacation requests, etc. And the new hire is fresh from college, so he’s going to need a decent amount of training/mentoring in our industry and office life in general, so I am anticipating having to have at least a couple of “you know, in a professional office, you really shouldn’t X” conversations – just because he just doesn’t know these things yet, so there will be a fair amount of handholding/babysitting until he’s on his feet.

    I’m still relatively new to this job (just over 6 months), so I haven’t even had a formal review or raise yet, so I don’t know how that usually goes around here – if they are reasonably generous with annual increases or if I really have to go in and advocate hard for every fraction of a percent. I’ve never been great at negotiating or advocating for myself, but I feel like if I don’t do it I’m shortchanging myself – and falling into the “women don’t get more money because they don’t ask for it” stereotype. These new responsibilities could potentially be a lot more stress and juggling for me. Do I ask now, at my upcoming review (after a few weeks of doing the job, but not enough time to have any results to show for it), or after I have a few months of results to show what I’ve accomplished?

    1. Bethy*

      I’m in a similar situation (many additional responsibilities, although non-supervisory) and I wish I’d asked for the raise straight out. It’s been almost six months of doing effectively twice the work at the same rate and in the same amount of hours because we’re not really allowed overtime. If I could do it again I’d just ask “What sort of additional compensation will go along with this?” as if it’s a given, instead of asking if something CAN be done.

      1. Red*

        I did this – asked whether my expanding role would receive a title increase/raise — and the answer was no. I kinda expected it, but I was glad for the confirmation.

        (I immediately gave my notice.)

  25. AnotherFed*

    In the past week, I’ve had to handle two cases of sleeping in meetings and one of blatantly playing phone games and ignoring the meeting… all from people on my team in small meetings that required their input. Newbies these days!

    What is the most unprofessional or ridiculous behavior you’ve seen from new employees?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Employee came to work in his pajamas. “I hardly ever get up from my desk. No one sees me. Why should I get dressed?” When he was told he had to go home and change, he opened his desk and he had a whole wardrobe hidden away. Shirts, shoes, socks, the whole shebang.
      He was eventually canned.

      1. AnotherFed*

        I knew someone here would be able to provide some perspective on how much worse it could be, and wow, that did not disappoint.

        Were they fuzzy? Did he have slippers, too?

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I’m telling you, the adult Onesie is a thing. I had no idea it was a thing until I attended this conference a few months ago and one of the speakers was going on about her Onesie and how she was going to present in it in a pre-conference Q&A — she was joking but my reaction was “oh noes! this cannot be a thing!” [face of horror] And it was. She had photos. I mean, I’ve joked about buying a Slanket or a gross of Snuggies and starting my own religion but it was a joke, man! Not something I am actually going to do!

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I would get one if I could find one that fits. Unfortunately, I’m too tall for most women’s clothing. I wouldn’t mind buying the men’s if it had something I wanted–I’d just sew up any “openings.” :)

              2. Liza*

                Earlier this week I saw a woman walking down the sidewalk in a onesie! She looked like it was a deliberate put-together look, not a “can’t be arsed to put on clothes so here I am in my sweaty pajamas” occasion. I hadn’t realized anyone would wear them outside their house, but having seen her, now I know one can!

              3. TinyPjM*

                For those interested, check out! Super floofy and comfortable and cute.

                If you know…you like that kind of thing…

        1. Merry and Bright*

          I’ve read about supermarkets banning customers from wearing pyjamas while shopping. But wearing them to the office? What the?

        2. Rowan*

          I, uh, have slippers for my office. Very informal dress code, very cold office. I put shoes on if I leave the room. My director thinks it’s great!

    2. Christy*

      Oh man, when I was new I could NOT stay awake in meetings. I had to get up and walk around or take bathroom breaks because otherwise I’d be asleep. It was awful. I’ve finally gotten better about it.

      1. CM*

        I still can’t stay awake in meetings, no matter how interested I am in the subject matter… :( I know it seems terribly unprofessional, but I have never been able to control this, and have tried the full gamut of remedies like getting up and walking around, pretending to drop something, sticking something sharp into my hand, eating, drinking, taking notes… I started with falling asleep in class during high school and 20+ years later have not managed to stop doing this. It’s completely involuntary.

          1. Anonsie*

            Eh. I mean. Inasmuchas everything your body does is medical, not everything your body does is a medical “issue” that needs attention or even has options available for it. Which I always feel the need to tell people because I feel like the prevailing attitude is that if your body does something off, it can be fixed, so if you only got medical attention you wouldn’t have a problem, therefore if you have a problem it’s your own fault for not fixing it.

            For what it’s worth, I had this problem as well and dropped some stacks on extensive testing and monitoring from a big fancy sleep lab and some other specialists over many months to find… “Well you fall asleep more easily than normal but we don’t know why, so you should consider stimulants like caffeine in the morning.”

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I get the same way when it comes to using a book to learn something new, like a software program. I can be all full of energy and eager to get down to it, but within 15 minutes of opening the book, my eyelids start to droop. I seriously doubt it’s some sort of sleep issue, it’s probably a psychological one or maybe a case of not having the “right” kind of stimulation appropriate for how I need to learn. I’ve tried different chairs, lights, time of day… it’s like my brain is programmed to think of book reading as entertainment only.

          1. Christy*

            Oh my gosh, same here. Or like training videos too! I pretty much require in-person learning. The only thing that helps me is taking copious notes.

      2. Anxa*

        This scares me so much. I feel like I spent most of my college lectures fighting the urge to sleep or drift off. I don’t mean to be tired (sometimes it’s lack of sleep) or not pay attention, but I wish it was easier to stay awake and alert during the daytime.

      3. Kelly L.*

        I almost fell asleep in a meeting where we’d invited a higher-up, a few months ago. Meeting was right after lunch, and the room was toasty warm. I was glad I was seated out of the higher-up’s line of sight, because I’m sure you could see on my face, and I was just relieved no one came up to me afterward like “You know you snored for a second, right?”

    3. Blue Anne*

      Christmas Secret Santa. A new grad was selected as the secret santa for a woman in the office who was getting married soon. He got her a box of chocolates shaped like penises.

    4. Not Today Satan*

      How did you respond to the phone games? I’m a social worker and have clients on their cell phones all the time…. The worst part is, I’ll ask them to put it away and then they just hide it in their laps like they’re in high school or something. I never know what to say at that point because like we’re both adults… it drives me crazy.

      1. Anxa*


        I actually work with college students, a good number of them in the 17-20 year old range, and I’ve never had anyone use their phone while meeting with me (unless to pick up a call from their children or their ride–which I encourage)

      2. AnotherFed*

        I told him to cut it out and never do it again, because it’s trashes his reputation and reflects badly on his whole team. It’s also against our security policy to even have a cell phone in certain places, so there’s the extra kick that if someone decided to enforce the letter of that rule, security could confiscate his phone.

      3. AnonAcademic*

        I have research participants who do this. I usually direct them to leave their bag/jacket on a chair in the corner of the room rather than holding onto them so they are physically separated from their phone. If they pull a phone out of their pocket I ask “do you need a break to take a call?” and if they don’t get the hint, “We can wait till you’re done with that to get started but it might make things run late” with a smile. I’ve never had to get to the “please put away your phone, we need your full attention on this” point but that would be my next step. Our experimental results aren’t valid if participants are distracted while they’re in session so it’s better to actually turn them away/reschedule then let them use phones during the session.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        My boss is adamant about cell phones. No cells, NO exceptions. I start saying it before people make the mistake. “If you need to use your cell, you will need to step outside.” Telling people before it happens can be helpful.
        In one special situation, I told people that there would be no cell phones allowed. I told them to turn off their phone and put the phone where it will not distract them.
        From my perspective it is very helpful to have a boss that has zero tolerance for cells and has no problem putting her foot down.

        I am not clear if you are meeting clients in your office or in random places. If it’s your office you could put a sign in plain sight that says “no cells”. Then redundantly, before you start your conversation, say that your conversation requires the commitment of their total attention. This means that you need them to turn off their phones and put their phones away. If you are meeting them in random places you could start the meeting by saying that the conversation is important and it will need their undivided attention. Ask them to turn off their phones. If they persist in playing with the phones under the table/desk ask them to turn the phone off and set it on the table in plain sight of the both of you.

        While you are both adults, they are in need of the services you are offering. Their persistence in using the phone after being asked not to, changes the rules of the game. Stress that you are there to help them and you cannot be of total value to them if they are playing with their cells. Think of it this way, you go to a lawyer to get legal advice. You sit there and play with your cell the entire time. What do you think that lawyer is going to do/say? He is going to talk about how he is willing to help you but he cannot help you if you are not willing to commit your total attention to the conversation. The lawyer is the leader in the conversation. Likewise, you as a social worker are the leader in the conversation. Assume you have the authority/clout to expect their full attention. Make that assumption and see what happens next. It should reduce your problem substantially.

    5. Short and Stout*

      The only person I’ve seen sleeping in a meeting lately was a senior manager one level below director. Our director was talking at the time :)

    6. Emmie*

      I had an upset senior director raise her double vertical fists in the air and pound them in her lap with an accompanying face contortion like a 2 year old having a tantrum over a toy! She was upset about editing a document.

    7. thunderbird*

      Intern (paid) always on his phone, including during meetings. Wore the same sweatpants frequently (most days of the week). Was an aggressive gum chewer, and made a lot of bodily noises (sinus related). Brought a full meal to a meeting after our catered lunch (a full second helping) and slurped and inhaled it. Also provided pretty low quality work.

    8. Ama*

      Are they just out of college? Because that sounds to me like people who haven’t grasped the difference between “work meeting” and “college class” yet.

      1. Allison*

        I don’t say this often, but that’s a fairly obvious difference. Even I knew that, in my internships during college, phone use during meetings was a huge no-no. I don’t even take my phone with me to meetings, even now, years out of college.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Every college class I had pretty much hammered into us that playing with our phones while the professor (or anyone else) was speaking was rude and that we shouldn’t do it. Some people did it anyway (at least they did it in the classes where their phone wouldn’t be confiscated outright) but I don’t think this is a nobody ever told them/they don’t know any better type of thing. It’s just an inconsiderate person type of thing.

    9. Omne*

      A new employee surfing job search websites for hours on the second day of classroom training while an instructor was speaking. On the training computer we provided.

      I don’t think they’re going to be putting their 4 day job on their resume.

    10. Argh!*

      I attended a training session and one employee sat at the back with his laptop open, and the sound on! Every time he got an e-mail the e-mail chime went off, and he got a LOT of e-mails. He could at least have reduced the volume. And the trainer didn’t say anything! I was incredulous.

      1. Noah*

        I had a new coworker who did this in our open plan office. Every 5-10 minutes was an email ding. So annoying. Finally told him to turn the sound off, please.

    11. Rebecca in Dallas*

      When I was in college, I worked for a high end department store. They had a really extensive training program for the sales people, which I actually thought was really interesting. It was a class of probably 12 new people, so fairly small. We had VP’s from different areas (buying, HR, PR) come and speak to us as well as sales training over several days (9am-5pm each day). One girl fell asleep while one of the VP’s was talking. It was a small enough group that he noticed and went over and woke her up! I think she wanted the floor to swallow her.

      In that same class (different day), one of the guys started gathering up his stuff at 3:45, while our trainer was in the middle of explaining something. She said something to him and he said, “Well, I have to go to the bank and they close at 4.” And just walked out! He was there again the next day I think but then I never saw him again.

    12. MT*

      Obviously this is very job-specific, but I’ve had way more success engaging the technology than trying to suppress it.
      I work at an undergraduate university, and for many of our student workers, this is their first job. I have no desire to babysit, to scold, to hush, or to in general remind myself of a red-faced grade school administrator. So instead I just have them use their smartphones/laptops to engage in various parts of the meeting – take a moment to put your names on the calendar for projects you can work, let’s update the skill sheet, let’s open up the incident report, etc.

      A projector and flexible screen-sharing helps encourage staying focused. ;)

    13. NicoleK*

      BEC coworker is always going on and on about “busy” she is. Yet, she wants to work on tasks that are not a priority, no one has requested her to complete the tasks, or the tasks are not necessary, because she finds them interesting.

  26. Lizzy*

    I keep getting reminded why my recent layoff from ex-job has been such a blessing.

    I spoke with a former coworker the other day and apparently one of the Board members at ex-job thought it would be a brilliant idea to have a competitor from the organization’s youth competition perform all day long at his private Christmas party. On Christmas day.

    Some background information: ex-job has an annual competition for young musicians ages 5-18 to perform classical music pieces on specific instrument categories (i.e. piano and string instruments). Winner’s receive scholarship money and opportunities to perform at high profile events. This is ex-job’s flagship program that founded the organization. For the record, these high profile events usually do not mean someone’s private party.

    So apparently some kid is expected to give up his or her Christmas to perform at some swanky Christmas party and be excited at the opportunity to perform for such prestigious people as the Lannisters — and at their house too. No one, from the Board President to my ex-supervisor, has told this Board member and his wife that this is probably not a good idea. They are all humoring this request by having my coworker ask around. Unsurprisingly, she’s been getting a lot of “Hell no!” and ‘Umm, excuse me?!” responses from parents.

    I joked with my former coworker that she should suggest to the Lannisters to offer a college scholarship because there is no other reason someone would want to do this otherwise. This is just one of many examples of what was wrong with ex-job.

    1. Ama*

      Uuuuuuuugh. This is even worse than the grad school where we almost had a donor force us to figure out how to get a grand piano into our library so we could have live piano music at our holiday party –ONE day a year. Did I mention our library was on the second floor, with no freight elevator leading to it?

      I suspect they had your coworker ask around because they knew no one would say yes, and could thus say “hey we tried, sorry!” But yeah it would have probably been better if someone could have politely pointed out that the competition winners would likely want to spend Christmas Day with their own families.

      1. Lizzy*

        I am willing to bet that donor had the money to figure out the logistics for that piano. Or better yet: rent a venue with piano already present.

        It is the same thing in my story: the Lannisters can afford to pay a professional (adult) musician who not mind the gig, instead of convincing some 10-year-old’s family how “prestigious” this gig is. But sadly these people are too selfish and are use to being indulged by others around them.

        1. Ama*

          Oh, yes — one of the major reasons I left that job was that she had a tendency to treat our school like her dollhouse (her foundation was at the time contributing a considerable portion of our budget) — always ready to buy new furniture or tend to the aesthetics of the place, while killing plans that would have improved the day-to-day operations (such as appropriate staffing levels).

  27. Gillian*

    Thanks to everyone who gave me advice about my internal interview with my current manager! I think it helped – had the interview on Tuesday and it felt like it went as well as it could have. I was able to bring up points/situations about my work that she hadn’t been aware of that I wouldn’t have thought of without your advice, so hopefully that’s a point in my favor!

  28. Cat Mechanic*

    Should I take FMLA leave from a job I’m planning to leave regardless? I have known I am not a good fit for my job for the past year-plus and have been actively job-searching ever since. In the past two weeks, someone inside/outside of my department has taken drastic steps to try to improve the work/life balance for the department. My boss is not completely on board; she’s the kind of person who’s a nice woman but not great as a manager, so I doubt anything will improve in the long term. (Plus, she’s a lifer.)

    Three months ago, I began having health problems that my doctor and I are certain are linked to my job. These health problems are affecting both my job performance and quality of life significantly. My doctor is the one who mentioned FMLA, which my employer complies with.

    I’m honestly questioning my ability to jump right into another job after this one without time to recover first at this point, which makes me really upset, so the decision to take FMLA or outright leave this job is weighing heavily on me because it’s an urgent decision.

    I’m job-searching in a very competitive field; I’m getting interviews but no offers, and it’s just not going as quickly as I hoped. I would prefer not to quit this job and have a gap on my resume, but perhaps that would be OK for a health reason. Would it be dishonest to go on FMLA while knowing I might not return or might return but for a short time?

    1. fposte*

      I think if you need leave, you need leave. You will need to identify an anticipated return date, for obvious reasons, and if you’re interested in references from the current job, it’s to your advantage to handle this as helpfully to them as possible, too.

      You do need to be totally on top of the rules for whatever insurance, STD, etc., you’d be expecting income and health coverage from. I’m vaguely remembering something where you might get stuck paying the employer’s part of your insurance, but I’m not finding it so I could be making it up–I’ll see if I can pin it down or if anybody else knows what I’m thinking of.

      1. fposte*

        Found it:

        In addition, the employer may require the employee to repay the employer’s share of the premium payment if the employee fails to return to work following the FMLA leave unless the employee does not return because
        of circumstances that are beyond the employee’s control, including a FMLA-qualifying medical event.

      2. Cat Mechanic*

        Thank you. I’ve tried to learn the FMLA quickly (like, starting yesterday) because I thought our smallish place wouldn’t even be bound by it. But it all seems silly now that I’ve written this comment because I *do* need to leave. I can go on my husband’s health insurance. I *do* need a reference from this job. I am confusing my feelings of desperately wanting to leave a bad fit with my valid reason of needing to leave for a health reason (that is backed up by my doctor). I can use the health reason to resign and leave it at that.

        My thoughts are currently jumbled from exhaustion. I have all of next week off from work and hope my mind will clear so I can make this decision.

        1. fposte*

          That seems like a wise way to approach it, and I think you’re making a reasonable point that you can just leave for health reasons, too. I hope the week gives you rest and that you then can make a decision that you’re comfortable with.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      That would be unpaid leave, right? The only concern would be burning bridges for the future, I think — if your boss would still be a good reference for you if you didn’t come back from leave.

    3. Argh!*

      FMLA would protect you but you may also have a worker’s comp claim. FMLA is less likely to backfire on you.

      1. Cat Mechanic*

        Could you explain what protection FMLA would be offering? I’m not sure workers’ comp would figure into this situation — it’s all internally caused by the stress of being in a job that is a spectacularly bad fit.

        1. fposte*

          I think Argh! is probably referring to the fact that FMLA gives you job protection. But if you’re leaving, that’s not such an important thing.

          It’s also not an either/or; FMLA doesn’t give you any money, after all, just job protection, so if you’re out on a worker’s comp claim you can also be on FMLA.

  29. asteramella*

    I’m in the midst of job-hunting, and I’ve reached the point of crying in my car on my commute home. :(

    I work in a writing- and editing-related role in an unrelated industry–maybe 30% of my time is spent writing. I’d like to transition to a role that focuses more time on writing and editing. I’ve been applying for copywriting and copy editing jobs at ad firms, and on the lookout for grant writing positions, though paid opportunities for those are few and far between. My city doesn’t have much in the way of publishing or journalism right now.

    AAMers in writing-heavy jobs, would you recommend your role or industry to someone who wants to write and/or edit full-time and isn’t picky about genre or topic?

    1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      I have a $14 membership to there seems to be a lot of remote writing jobs but I don’t know how legit they are as I just use them for the occasional Photoshop gig but maybe google will have input on how useful that site is for writers?

    2. ElCee*

      TBH? Not really. General editorial is such a crowded field and the pay is not great. I’m trying to get out, LOL. Have you thought about technical writing and editing? in my area those almost always require a security clearance to even apply, but this may not be such a problem in other cities. The pay is much better for these and the job title is pretty broad.

    3. Ryan the TempAnon*

      I work at a company that edits journal articles for researchers whose first language isn’t English but who want to submit articles to English-language journals. There are…I don’t know exactly how many of these companies there are, but there are multiple ones. Some of them would probably require moving, but I think some might be work-from-home or more flexible. Googling “academic editor jobs” (what this position is normally called, as far as I can tell) brings up some companies, and another thing you can do is look at the submission guidelines for particular journals, especially in your areas of interest (because it’s so much nicer when you’re interested in the topic). Elsevier hosts lots of journals, as does Wiley Online and one other place I’m blanking on right now, so if you go and look at some of those guidelines you’ll see that they’ll have a note somewhere that says “If you’re not a native English speaker, we recommend you use [academic editing service] before submitting to improve your chances.”

      If you enjoy the kind of job where everything is the same every day, then you might enjoy this kind of work. I hate it because I’m constantly itching for action, but my day is nothing but editing (no meetings, no interactions with clients, just editing), which it sounds like you might like. It can also be really frustrating when you get a paper that’s really not well written at all or that’s really out of your area of expertise (and this is pretty much a guarantee, at least at my company–my background is in the humanities, but I’ve had to edit hardcore engineering papers despite never even setting foot in the engineering building on campus when I was in college), and it’s crucial to be familiar with different journal styles (APA, AMA, Chicago, etc.). However, I will say that even though this work isn’t for me at all, my coworkers really seem to enjoy it, so depending on your personality, you might too.

    4. Gwen*

      I’m in the in-house copywriter at a destination marketing organization, and I write pretty much constantly. My job does involve some other general content duties (managing a web calendar, primarily), but other than that it’s pretty much all writing and proofing. I’m the only dedicated writer on staff, so if the words need to get written, I’m the one they come to. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but overall I really enjoy that I get to write about why my city (which I genuinely love) is great for a living. I would say any kind of in-house content/copywriter role would probably be pretty similar.

        1. Gwen*

          It is! Not a lot of jobs center around writing up articles about the best craft cocktails in town ;) Plus you get to check out a lot of cool stuff (new museum exhibits, plays) for cheap/free. Tourism is a pretty cool industry that I never had considered/heard of while I was in school.

            1. Gwen*

              Content & Copywriting Specialist! It might not be under that exact name, but most convention & visitors bureaus/destination marketing organizations will have someone on staff doing this in some form. I do web copy, blogs, newsletters, occasionally ad copy (we do work with an agency on most of our advertising), the odd stuff for social media.

    5. EmmBee*

      Have you tried corporate communications roles? From internal comms to social media to media relations, those jobs are all writing-heavy. And most companies have at least a small comms team. (Note: this could be branded as PR.)

    6. Ad Astra*

      I’ve actually found I kind of enjoy doing internal communications in the financial industry. The major downside is that since almost nobody at the company has a background in writing or editing, I don’t really have any mentors who can help me become a stronger writer or editor. But that might not be the case at every company, so I’d definitely evaluate that on an individual basis.

    7. Ama*

      I work in the non-profit sector for an organization that funds research in a specific disease, and we have several types of writing heavy jobs (we’re small so many of ours, mine included, are about 50% writing and 50% some other task, but I believe larger orgs have positions with higher writing/editing positions). These include:
      – producing content about our grantees, research developments, and the patients we’ve helped for our website and print publications
      – managing our social media accounts
      -grant writing (at our org we don’t have one dedicated grant writer, each department has a role that does grant writing for their own programs)
      – producing content for our fundraising appeals
      – PR tasks, (writing press releases, etc.)

      When I first decided to pursue writing/editing as a career, I had no idea there were so many opportunities at non-profit orgs and I love it here. (To be fair it helps that, though we’re a science focused org, our CEO has a background in communications so she understands the importance of producing strong content.)

    8. Argh!*

      Having cried in the car commuting both to and from a horrible job, I found I had to leave it (fortunately they gave me severence) and clear my head. I wound up moving to another city for a job more in my skillset. I decided the job was more important than location, which was a very hard decision.

    9. Development professional*

      Not sure what city you’re in, but I’m astonished that you aren’t seeing grant writing openings that are paid (of course, there are always small non-profits seeking volunteers for this, but I digress…) because there is definitely demand.

      I wonder if you’re looking in the right places to find grant writing positions? Remember that this is considered a fundraising/development/advancement job so be looking in those categories on the sites you’re searching. Remember also that these are non-profit jobs by definition, a sector that uses some of its own job boards. Try:, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Philanthropy News Digest (a service of the Foundation Center). Also check out the jobs page of your local colleges and universities, as their advancement departments will also hire grant writers and other writers for fundraising purposes.

      Other titles that you should look for that are grant writing but might be called: Development Coordinator, Foundation Relations Associate/Coordinator.

      Another off-the-wall idea, if you’re open to freelancing, is to seek out academics/scientists who are responsible for writing their own grants but need help. Anyone in a research lab is going to fall into that category.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Whoops, that’s what I get for not refreshing before writing! What Development Professional said!

    10. College Career Counselor*

      Have you looked at university communications/PR offices? If you have grantwriting experience already, you could look at corporate and foundation relations departments in university advancement divisions. If so, I’d look at the chronicle of philanthropy, philanthropy journal and the CASE (Council for Advancement & Support of Education) website (not to mention higheredjobs, the chronicle of higher education and other higher ed job sites).

    11. Mando Diao*

      I work in marketing (think blogging, social media, email blasts), and while I like the job itself (it’s easy, I’m good at it, my coworkers and manager are great to work with), I don’t think there’s much of a future in dedicated marketing firms or departments.

  30. Sarak*

    What kind of accounting knowledge would I need to do the books and taxes for an independent contractor/consultant, and what kind of courses would get me there?

    One option for my family’s future plans would involve moving to a lower cost-of-living area and my husband hanging out his shingle as a consultant. If he did, I’d like to be able to handle the billing and taxes, but I don’t really know where I’d start. I know much of that information is available online, but I tend to find it a lot easier to motivate myself from classes than self-study and CC courses are pretty cheap. I’m not interested in becoming a fully-fledged accountant, just enough knowledge to do this responsibly and effectively.

    (I know there are a LOT of other considerations before making this sort of choice, but this was one piece I did t even know where to start thinking about.)

    1. GG*

      I can’t speak about doing taxes, but I’ve been doing bookkeeping at the small business level just shy of 20 years. Aside from having taken one accounting principles class in college, I’m entirely self-taught. I’ve almost always used QuickBooks (which is a great tool, and I heartily recommend it) and when I first started doing this kind of work I just did a lot of reading the QB manual and looking stuff up online. In fact, last time I had to search out an answer I discovered that in addition to articles, there are now also some great videos that take you step-by-step through assorted tasks.

      On a whim I also just googled “Bookkeeping for Dummies”, and yep, it exists. I suspect it would be a great starting point.

    2. Meg Murry*

      I think doing the bookkeeping and billing would probably be pretty straightforward with a few community college classes. Taxes are a different beast, and I would suggest hiring an actual accountant for the first few years of the business, and then after that you could follow the same process as the accountant (filling out the same forms, etc).

      My husband runs his own business with his father, and does all the billing and taxes. He has a degree in Accounting and Business Administration, however he said most of the paperwork/accounting he is doing is the work taught in accounting 101 and 201 – he’s not doing anything all that complicated. Before my husband came on board, my FIL did everything by hand (handwritten invoices with carbon copy duplicates, handwritten checkbook ledger, etc), and he would just give the accountant a shoebox of receipts and paper to pick through at tax time. I’m sure the accountant hated it, and he charged them a pretty penny for organizing that mess (although I’m pretty sure an office assistant was the one sorting the receipts and invoices, not the accountant himself). Once my husband switched them to Quicken or Quickbooks and could give the accountant an electronic copy of the books, the accountant started charging way less for taxes, because it was so much less work on his part when everything was already tallied and organized. Now my husband does the business taxes (and our own) using TurboTax for business, following along to make sure he submits all the same forms the accountant did, and he only hires the accountant every 5 years or so – and even then he does the taxes himself as well, just to make sure there isn’t a major difference between what the accountant was doing and what he was doing. It’s a couple of days of him locking himself in the office and swearing at TurboTax, but it really isn’t that bad if you have a general understanding of business principles and can read instructions, and kept good books all year long.

      My husband also doesn’t get involved with any crazy projecting or accounting schemes – basically, he and his father take very, very low salaries throughout the year (and sometimes forgo them if it’s a really bad month) and then at the end of the year if there is a lot of extra money they take a bonus, and if not, they don’t. That bonus usually gets split between our emergency funds, our splurge “someday we’ll take a vacation” fund and our retirement accounts – it’s not money we need in order to live on, we live mostly on my salary.

      So basically I would start with Accounting 101 or Bookkeeping 101 at the community college, and then either another semester of accounting or a class on a specific software like Quicken or QuickBooks (Quicken is better for just tracking money, QuickBooks can do invoicing as well but it has more of a learning curve). Do you have any business background at all? If not, maybe take a general business course first or a personal finance course, so you can learn more general information.

      If you need more info on “is this a valid business expense? what about this? what about that?” – that’s the kind of thing you probably need some advice from an actual accountant.

    3. Rat in the Sugar*

      For the first year you should work at least occasionally with a professional to make sure that your tax payments are in order and you don’t get hammered in April. The CPA I worked for last spring did this kind of work with local small businesses; owners could pay to come in and consult with her to make sure everything was in order and the taxes were paid but they kept the books themselves.
      I’m not sure about learning resources, unfortunately. I did everything the formal route.

    4. Kristen*

      I would suggest using Quickbooks, and you can probably find a one day or couple day course at your local community college that will go over the basics of what you are going to need to know for the day to day running of the business. It is a very user friendly program to use.

      I would recommend using a CPA firm for your taxes. The fee would be minimal compared to the time and effort you would probably have to put in doing them yourself.

    5. Noah*

      I totally agree with everyone else’s QuickBooks suggestion. I use the online version for my consulting business. The actual act of creating invoices and billing customers is pretty easy. I did have a few accounting courses as part of my B.B.A. However, most of what I learned about QuickBooks was through Intuit’s website and just searching online if I hit an issue.

      If you don’t know anything about accounting a CC class might be helpful. You might also look through those community classes catalogs that cities or counties sponsor and send in the mail. There is usually a bookkeeping class in those.

      I have an accountant help me with taxes every year. I don’t want to miss anything there. It is easy to package up the QuickBooks file and send it to him so he can do his magic with it.

    6. Nanc*

      Check with your nearest Small Business Development Center:

      They’re a great resource on how to start your own business in your area and counselors can help you with everything from getting the local business license to registering your business name with your state to the basics of doing your own bookkeeping and taxes. If you’re planning to relocate soon it might be worth locating the SBDC in your future home.

    7. Nonya*

      I’m currently working at an accounting firm while pursuing my accounting degree. Basic bookkeeping (which sounds more like what you’re describing) doesn’t require much accounting knowledge. There are a few key principles that are important to know (such as cash vs. accrual basis, the basics of how your chart of accounts works, etc.) but the vast majority of the learning curve involves how to properly use the software.

      Many community colleges offer accounting/bookkeeping certificate programs. Since you said you like formal learning settings, this could be a good option for you. Normally these programs are geared toward more practical knowledge and less accounting theory. Those few courses should give you the solid foundation you need to move forward confidently.

      As far as taxes go, if you know this is something you want to do, many of the major tax preparer companies offer training programs. I’m not sure of the cost but that could be an option. Of course, like others said, taxes are a beast. There is more risk involved and they aren’t straightforward. At least for the first few years, it would be good to have a CPA make sure everything is in order.

      Best of luck!

  31. NicoleK*

    Need some advice. If one is feeling like the job just isn’t a good fit after an interview, is it better to withdraw the application or candidacy? Or take no action unless the position is offered? I have an interview on Monday. The vacant position provides coverage for three locations. There will be a supervisor for each location. One supervisor will be the official supervisor and the other two will be unofficial supervisors. The vacant position requires a specific degree and certification, but the supervisor(s) are not required to have either.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation and have it work out for the best?

    1. Development professional*

      If you’re certain you wouldn’t accept it if offered, you should withdraw. If you need more information to decide, then keep going with the process until you decide.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Three supervisors of varying degree and three locations. I really doubt this would work out for the best, but that is does not mean it’s not doable.
      Go to the interview, you may figure out in the middle of the interview that the answer is NO WAY. Or you may get through the interview and decide it’s not too bad at all.

      I would ask questions about the three locations and how you are expected to divide up your time. I would also ask if there is disagreement among your three supervisors how would that be handled? I would ask about the last person who had the job, what did she like/dislike? Ask how your work will be evaluated, how will they know you are doing a good job for the company?

  32. Blue Anne*

    A celebration and a question…

    I’m leaving the Big 4! I’ve just accepted a job offer at a much smaller firm where I’ll be able to continue working towards my qualification, while doing charities audit and some *gasp* actual accounting work. And they work 9-5. I went for my interview at 5:30 and the senior partner had to unlock the front door to let me into the office himself. Glorious. The day I handed in my notice I worked until midnight, so I have no doubts about my move…

    But! On the subject of handing in my notice! I let my manager know as soon as I had the offer in writing. We had a call on Tuesday afternoon, and I said that I would work right up until when I would have gone on Christmas break anyway, so more than my 4 weeks notice. It also happens to be salary talk time in the Big 4 at the moment, so this morning I had the call from another manager telling me what my salary increase would be if I stuck around (measly) and in that conversation she mentioned that my resignation wasn’t official yet. Umm….?

    So. The situation is that because it’s such a huge, bureaucratic entity, you need to fill out a form online and your resignation is not official until you do that. When I spoke with my manager, she said there was stuff she would need to look at with HR (I’ll need to pay back some training fees, etc.) and she would get back to me, mentioning nothing about this online form. I’ve now found it and filled it out, but I guess it means that my notice is recorded as 4 days later than I meant for it to be.

    I was going to work more than my official notice anyway, but I kind of want to have as much of that time as possible be noted as beyond my notice, partly because I’ve had such a huge uptick in overtime this week. I don’t THINK it’s related to handing in my notice, but if it continues I’d like to be able to point out that I’m in my last few weeks and they really can’t be assigning me brand new 70 hour projects or putting me onto jobs I’ll need to travel 5 hours every day for.

    Do you think it’s reasonable to stick to saying Tuesday is when I put in my notice?

    1. CM*

      Congratulations!! Going from Big 4 to a place where nobody is there at 5:30 sounds fantastic. Does it matter if your notice is recorded later? And can’t you just say no to projects that are requiring you to do things you’re not willing to do — what are they going to do, fire you? In any case, I think it’s reasonable to say that you informed them you were resigning Tuesday, so regardless of what the online system officially says, that’s when you put in your notice.

      1. Blue Anne*

        I guess my concern is that I want to be able to have a completely spotless reference from what will almost certainly be the most widely known organisation on my resume. If I need to say to my manager in the next week or so that the amount of work I’m suddenly being given is unsustainable and I will only work out my notice, she’ll understand. (She really is a very good manager and I’ve liked working with her.) But if the HR system then shows that I left a week before my notice was up? Really not ideal.

        1. CM*

          If she’s a good manager, hopefully she will understand that you’re not going to be on board with new projects that require a huge time commitment, since you’ll be gone in a matter of weeks. But if you get those assignments anyway, I guess your choice is to either explain that you don’t have time to do both this project and whatever else you need to do to transition out, or to suck it up until you leave.

    2. Dawn*

      According to what you just said, “you need to fill out a form online and your resignation is not official until you do that.” So the question then becomes how many bridges will you be burning if you don’t stick by that rule and instead decide that a verbal resignation was good enough?

      Honestly, you’re giving like a month’s worth of notice either way so I doubt 4 days would matter. However, your company sounds really bureaucratic so you want to make sure that if you do anything “not the official way” it really, truly won’t matter down the road.

    3. AnonForThis*

      I think there have been posts here about not working crazy overtime during your notice period, too? So maybe you could have that conversation instead? Being at a big company, if your client likes you, I assume they’ll want to keep you around to smooth out the transition while they fill your spot.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Can you back date the form online? Or can you show a three week notice which would be an adjustment for the four days lost when you did not know about the online form? What is the standard expected? Maybe you can ask your boss the best approach.

  33. Anon and on and on*

    I’m about to get an offer for a job that I’m really excited about and will probably accept. I have a phone date set up to talk with HR about the specifics, but they’ve already said they choose me, so now it’s about agreeing to a salary and all that.

    Slight problem: I’ve only been at my current job for 7 months and I feel a bit guilty leaving after such a short tenure. My company is at the beginning of two big projects that I’m tangentially involved in, and I know it will be tough to replace me during that process.

    How do I alleviate my own guilt, and what can I do to make my boss and coworkers feel better about the situation? The people I work with are really great, but the company culture isn’t really what I wanted.

    1. Dawn*

      Honestly and truly? Every single time you start to feel guilty say “F%$! it, I’m leaving and that’s final.” The fact that a great job came along with the timing that it did was 0% of your doing and you had 0% control of the timing of when this awesome job landed in your lap. The Universe wants you to have this awesome job so by god you’re gonna go take this awesome job!

    2. Nanc*

      Don’t forget the probation period (6 months, year, whatever it is) is for both parties. The company to see if you’re a good fit and you to see if the company/job meets your expectations and requirements. In this case, it’s not working for you. What you can do is give them as much notice as possible and do everything in your power to see that your little part in the upcoming projects is geared up and ready to go. Also, if your job had no or outdated SOPs, take the time to create/update them so the next hire has a smooth on boarding.

    3. NicoleK*

      Don’t feel guilty, most employers want employees who want to be there. If it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit.

  34. Squirrel*

    So I listened to everyone and kept applying and got a new job! Quick background: I disliked my current job because of management, but I’ve only been here four months (as of today actually), and wondered if I should bail because the place was just getting worse. I guess it upset my current manager because she’s made a big show of not talking to me during my last two weeks here. She even came into our little office area and pointedly ignored me while talking specifically to everyone else. Our supervisor suggested we have a potluck next week for Thanksgiving and the manager said, “Oh no, it’s too close to the holiday, people don’t want to make food for a potluck and then the holiday.” Of course the next day she sends out an email asking about interest in a potluck, and it just happens to be the day *after* I leave.

    I know that people were planning on doing something for me my last day (Tuesday), but who is going to do something for that, and the potluck, *and* Thanksgiving? I have to admit I was originally a little miffed about it, but I just ended up laughing over the petty spitefulness of the manager, and it definitely made me feel better about my impending departure. Good riddance to such awful management.

    1. fposte*

      Congrats on the new job! I wouldn’t take any of the potluck stuff to heart–honestly, we’re pretty friendly but we wouldn’t do anything beyond verbal acknowledgment for an employee who’d only been there four months.

      1. Squirrel*

        Oh, I get that. But some people had already said they were planning on doing something for me. Management here isn’t allowed to plan potlucks or parties, supposedly, I guess unless they want to make some sort of point.

    2. Observer*

      Well, if you had any doubts about your decision, your manager just gave you the answer.

      Being supervised and managed by a spiteful toddler can’t be easy.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Being supervised and managed by a spiteful toddler can’t be easy.

        It’s not. I’m right there now.

        Good luck with your new job, Squirrel!

  35. pieces of flair*

    At what point in the job application process do I need to be concerned that my references might be contacted?

    I’m in a bit of a sensitive situation. I’m paid on a grant that runs out in June and our renewal request was not funded. My boss told me she will do everything she can to keep me (including reducing her own salary!) until we (hopefully) get more funding, and will give me 3 months’ notice if I need to find a new job. However, I’m the main breadwinner for a family of 4 (my husband has 2 part-time jobs and no benefits), we are living paycheck to paycheck, and we will be completely screwed if I have any period of unemployment.

    So I’ve started looking and I feel guilty about it and don’t want my boss to know. But since I’ve been working here for 7 years, I can really only list people from this organization as references. My plan is to list my boss and 2 other people who are in a senior/semi-supervisory role to mine, then talk to them when/if a potential employer indicates they are getting ready to do a reference check. But can I actually assume that potential employers will tell me if they’re going to contact my references? If not, at what stage of the process do I need to assume they might do so and have the difficult conversation with my boss? After an interview? Is it even remotely possible that they might contact my references before an interview?

    I’m so stressed out about all this. I’ve never job hunted while employed before.

    1. Blue Anne*

      I’ve only ever had employers contact my references once I’ve actually had an offer from them. Usually they give me the offer with the comment that it’s subject to my references (and background/credit check if applicable) being okay.

    2. FurnitureLady*

      Agree with Blue Annie – I’ve never had an employer contact any references until pretty far along in the hiring process. I do think it’s okay to tell potential employers that you need to be discreet and ask them only to contact your references as one of the last steps – most people are looking while employed and a good hiring manager will be sensitive to that.

    3. fposte*

      We contact references at the finalist stage, but we don’t explicitly notify candidates when it will happen. While sometimes the contact can be earlier than that, I think you’re pretty likely to be safe if you wait until you get an interview.

      And it’s utterly reasonable for you to look for a new job under the circumstances. Your boss is kind of a jerk if she doesn’t find it reasonable too.

    4. Anxa*

      I’ve had two employers require reference surveys before they consider your application received, but that was for a hospital.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      Your boss seems to be a reasonable person who’s in your corner. I can’t imagine someone who is trying so hard to find a way to keep you, being unreasonable about the fact that you need to find a job. Even if you weren’t the main breadwinner, as a manager I’d totally get that you can’t put your financial health on the line for something I might not be able to deliver. Consider mentioning to her that you’re looking now; I’ll bet she would be a huge advocate for you.

  36. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    In case anyone wanted an update on how awful my boss is:

    Our admin lost her father on Friday. It was expected, so she tidied up a lot of stuff in the preceding week and took care of several things ahead of time. My boss is out this week, but our admin phoned Monday, the day of the funeral, to let us know what was going on and tell us she expected to be back Wednesday.

    I emailed my boss to give him the heads up, and he emailed me back to ask “Well did she say anything important that needed to get done today? Is she going to come in at all Tuesday?”

    No, she’s burying her father. She is not thinking about what needs to get done here. You don’t offer bereavement leave, so let her take two stupid days off to deal with things before harassing her to finish stuff for you.

    My boss also argued with my now-former coworker that he didn’t need to pay her for travel time because “this is benefiting you” (in that she was traveling to a trade show) and “when I traveled in sales they never paid me for my time!” And “this show is already costing me too much, I can’t afford to pay your time too!”

    On the plus side, my husband will probably be posted again in the spring, so I’ll be out of here relatively soon. Just keep my head down and be thankful that I’ll have a good long 2 1/2 year stint on my resume by the time I leave.

    1. LCL*

      I don’t think the example you give shows the boss as awful. I’m sure he is, but that example doesn’t prove it. After having stepped in it regarding family bereavement, and posting to ask a manager for help, I think I figured out why bereavement time is such a source of misunderstanding and hurt feelings.

      Employee says ‘Relative isn’t doing well, this may be it, I may have to take time to go to the funeral’. Boss hears ‘Employee is losing a relative and will be sad and will have to go to a funeral.’ Boss thinks that means employee will miss a day of work to go to a funeral. Employee actually means “I will need several days off to talk to other family members about this, that is how our family helps each other.” Boss doesn’t understand why employee just can’t take the day of the service and go back to work. Employee doesn’t understand why boss could possibly expect him to return to work the day after the funeral. Boss’s perception that employees tend to milk leave is confirmed. Employee’s perception that boss is heartless and unfeeling is confirmed. Neither perception is really true.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I think that would be correct except for that when my boss’s wife lost her uncle, he was gone for a week. And when another coworker lost his mother suddenly he said nothing about his taking four days off. So he does understand the concept, he’s just choosing to ignore it.

      2. Shell*


        I think needing a few additional days on top of the actual funeral to grieve and process a relative’s death is not such a novel concept that a boss can’t understand it. Sure, the boss may not expect it at first, because some people aren’t close to their relatives and thus doesn’t need the extra time. But if the employee explicitly takes more than one day off? Asking if the employee will come back to work is beyond the pale.

        Taking time off to grieve the death of a loved one is not difficult to understand.

        1. Kassy*

          I agree with this, and would like to add that it is the employee’s father. Yes, some people will take a week off for every great-step-twice-removed relative because that’s how their families function. And some people will do it even if they don’t really need the time. And some people aren’t close to their fathers, would rather get back to work to distract themselves…any number of things.

          But for most people, I don’t think substituting “father” with “relative” fully conveys the impact of the situation, even though it’s technically true.

      3. Anna*

        I’m not sure why any of this matters. Probably not the best idea to tell someone how they’re wrong about something they deal with daily.

    2. xarcady*

      At my very first job, in a small company with about 15 employees, the father of one of the sales people died. The guy took only the day of the funeral off. And the owner was yelling all afternoon that the funeral had been in the morning, so there was no reason said sales person shouldn’t be in the office that afternoon.

      That’s when I realized some bosses are not normal people.

  37. I Dream of Teapot*

    Has there ever been a thread about weird work-related dreams?

    The other night I had a dream in which my current boss married my previous boss.

    My previous boss recently got married in real life, but as far as I know my current boss is single. They work for different companies, by the way.

    What’s the weirdest work-related dream you’ve had?

    1. FurnitureLady*

      Absolutely tons of weird work dreams, mostly anxiety related. But the weirdest one was where I was slow dancing with my boss for some reason. I loved him as a boss, but slow dancing…no…

    2. Mimmy*

      Nothing really specific, but I’m always dreaming about randomly going back to a job I had years ago and volunteering to help every so often. This was a job that I was actually pretty miserable at. Go figure.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have that same dream, usually about the cafe in California. The weirdest version was that I had moved back and was working there again and a flying saucer landed in the parking lot.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I have nightmares that I’ve left something time sensitive too late and I have to rush to fix it. I think these are the same breed of dreams as “Time for a final you didn’t know you had and haven’t been studying for!”

    4. ACA*

      I had a dream last night where our finance director emailed me to tell me that all our graduating students had a missing academic requirement: None of them had worn the proper gloves to their exit meeting. (I woke up in a panic.)

    5. Anxa*

      So I was a server and server jobs are definitely A Thing. Basically they are stress dreams and a common theme is not being able to get to your table or the kitchen or otherwise having something you’re trying to do, but things keep popping up and getting in the way. Also you keep getting new tables.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I’ve told this one before, but I was having The Server Dream once, woke up, and saw that it was like 3:30 in the morning. And in my half-asleep state, my first thought wasn’t “Hey, cool, that wasn’t real,” but “WTF? It’s 3:30 in the morning! We’re closed. I’m going to tell all those customers to go home.”

        I’ve also had cashier dreams of POS systems with 3 or 4 different keyboards of unlabeled or mislabeled keys.

      2. Sunflower*

        OMG YES. I still have server nightmares and I haven’t served in 3 years. I’ve also had ones where I’m the only server in the restaurant and we’re full.

    6. Daisy Steiner*

      When I worked as a checkout operator I used to have anxiety dreams where the groceries were coming towards me on the conveyor belt and I just couldn’t keep up, so they would pile up higher and higher.

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        Oh, and I would also dream that a barcode wouldn’t scan, so I was having to type it in by hand. And I would get it wrong every. single. time.

      2. Windchime*

        I grew up in a place that grows lots and lots of apples and pears, and a typical job for young people is to work in a fruit-packing warehouse. So I did this in my youth (like 30 years ago). I still sometimes have dreams that I’m the only person working the line and the apples are just coming faster and faster and falling on the floor and there is nothing I can do about it.

    7. littlemoose*

      When I worked 35-40 hours per week in retail, I dreamed about the store almost every night, especially during the holiday season. They would usually be pretty boring dreams about work tasks. I specifically remember a dream about teaching an associate how to look up undeterminable style numbers. It made getting up and going to work a little more soul-crushing because I felt like I couldn’t get away from the store even at night. Holiday retail is rough.

    8. xarcady*

      I had to work on a project where information came in from many different locations, in the days before everyone had a computer. All the info was on paper, and the paper was in regulation white binders.

      It was a six-month project and I handled those binders daily.

      I used to have dreams of being buried under an unending avalanche of empty white binders.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        I shudder at the thought of how many paper cuts, binder-edge cuts, and ring pinches your fingers suffered in those six months.

    9. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I have recurrent anxiety dream about having a job from 20 years ago, going to work to find the entire building has been reorganized and renovated, and I can’t find my desk to log into my terminal on time. I can’t find my boss or any coworkers. I wander through this unfamiliar building my nearly my entire shift trying to find my desk until I wake up.

      I also occasionally have dreams of performing the work from that job, seeing the terminal screens, having entire customer conversations, going to meetings, etc. I wake up exhausted and confused as hell from those dreams.

    10. Book Person*

      That the CEO decided the back cover copy for all of our books had to be written in rhyming verse. Everyone in the dream thought that this made perfect sense, though we don’t actually publish any poetry.

    11. MaryMary*

      This week I had a dream that a coworker made a “burn book” about me, but all the insults were so ridiculous that Dream Me didn’t even get mad. I am not fond of this coworker in real life and I’m currently working with her on a project, so I think my subconscious is definitely sending me a message.

      On the other hand, at OldJob I dreamed that a coworker went to my manager and my manager’s manager to complain about me. I hadn’t previously had strong feelings one way or another about her, but I was real life angry for weeks because Dream Her hadn’t come directly to Dream Me.

      In my least favorite work dream ever, I dreamed that I was commuting daily between OldJob’s US office and our India office. I would sleep on the plane and then wake up and go into whichever office was near where the plane landed. At the time I was working a ton of hours on a project with our offshore team, so again, my subconscious was not exactly subtle.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Once, I dreamed that we had to spend the night at Exjob and I slept in my chair at my desk with a blanket over me. I woke up (in the dream) with the big boss standing there dressed in trousers, dress shirt and tie as usual, but his hair was all sticking up like he’d just got out of bed. He yelled at me, “Wake up! It’s time to get back to work!”

      I thought about telling him about it (he would have laughed) but I was afraid he would get ideas!

    13. Swoop*

      I think the weirdest was where I was trying to figure out the right contortions of my body to translate this one piece of text…

    14. Merry and Bright*

      At JobBeforeLast I dreamt that BigBoss asked the office to chip in to pay his tax bill and sold the photocopier to raise money.

    15. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yes, just lately I had a dream that my entire department got fired (or quit?) and I had to do everything.

      I still have those dreams about realizing you haven’t been to a class all semester and it’s the day of the final. I mentioned that once to my husband’s 75-year-old grandmother. She said she still has them, too! I guess they never end.

    16. Sara*

      I frequently dream that I’m at school (I’m a teacher) and then my pants vanish just as my principal comes in for a surprise observation. The principal is always like, “This is really inappropriate. You need to wear pants at school.” (I’ve had this dream at two different schools with two different principals, and I also used to have the same dream during student teaching, except then it was my university supervisor chastising me.)

      I also used to dream that my colleagues and students were coming into my bedroom in the middle of the night to ask me to do various work tasks. This was when I lived in a much, much hotter climate and slept naked pretty regularly, and Dream Me would always panic about how I was going to get out of bed to go proofread all the English exams without everyone noticing that I was naked.

    17. Cassy*

      Every time I get stressed about work for an extended period of time, I always start having the same exact recurring dream, in which I have sent a completely inappropriate and/or profanity-laced email to a whole bunch of colleagues at the end of work one day and have ZERO recollection of doing so. The next morning I come into work and find a whole bunch of sad/confused emails about why would I send such a thing, and I am just PANICKING and going “oh my god I am so sorry I don’t even know what this is”

    18. Anon for this*

      This was during the period where I was completely infatuated with a married coworker. He was standing on a balcony like structure. I was standing on a ladder. Coworker was speaking about a project or something. After he was done talking, I reached out my hand to him as he reached down with his hand. Our hands touched, clasped and then I awoke.

    19. Daisy Steiner*

      At my old job, though it wasn’t part of my responsibility, it was theoretically possible for me to submit writing to a system that would then be broadcast on a national TV channel as the scrolling ribbon at the bottom of the screen (think similar to a TV news programme). I used to dream I was writing an email, then halfway through would realise it was actually going out live on TV to the nation.

  38. petpet*

    I have a new coworker who won’t stop talking to herself and it’s driving me maaaaaaad. She baby talks to the shredder (“Oh, are you full? Is that why you’re so mad?”) and mock-yells at her computer (“No! Print this, not that!”). She does so at a volume that sounds like she’s half talking to herself and half hoping someone will engage in some banter/chit-chat. We are not a chatty office so no one is taking her up on it, but she keeps doing it. So far I’ve ignored her 100% of the time but it’s incredibly distracting and I really wish she would stop.

    My only thought is that next time she has an outburst I could ask her if she needs help with something, but I don’t trust that I can keep a pleasant/neutral tone if I do, so I keep chickening out.

    1. Sadsack*

      Asking if she needs help may be a bad move that will let her know that what she is doing works — unless she responds that she does need help and you respond by telling her to just ask and not use baby talk.

      1. petpet*

        Looks like you all agree I should just ask her to quiet down! Now I just need to figure out how to do that without looking like a jerk in front of the rest of the office.

        1. fposte*

          When in doubt, blame inanimate objects. “Jane, there’s just something about the acoustics in here that makes sound travel–can you move the conversation/keep the volume down? Thanks.” (I know it’s not a conversation, but that’s the the easiest way to refer to it.)

    2. fposte*

      You could also just ask her to be quieter because it’s distracting. I’d favor that over asking if she needs help with anything, because you don’t think she does need help with something, you just would like her to be quieter.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Belinda, if everyone here talked out loud to themselves all day long, no one would get any work done. Please work quietly, people are doing that for you, please do it for them.”

    3. K.*

      She baby-talks to the shredder? Oh God. I haaaaaaaaate baby talk – I don’t even use it when talking to actual babies, it hurts my ears – so this would drive me straight-up crazy. I would either need noise-cancelling headphones or to tell her, politely, to knock it off.

    4. afiendishthingy*

      uh oh. I don’t baby talk to anyone/anything but the second one could be me… That’s not what I wanted NO NO CANCEL… there we go thank you… why aren’t you printing you stupid jerk

    5. NicoleK*

      I can relate. Coworker is a very excitable person and has a high pitched voice. Her voice gets higher and higher when she’s chatting with her friends right outside my office. She also asks and answers her own questions.

    6. Jennifer*

      I have that going on at work too. All you can do is ignore, but she NEEDS NOISE and if you won’t provide it, she will.

    7. A.J.*

      ugh, I definitely sympathize with this. My manager at ex-job had a desk right across from me (facing towards me but not visible behind monitors). Whenever he would get angry with something his computer, he’d start muttering in German, bang his fist really hard on the table, and slam the keyboard. The entire desk would shake and bump into my desk, and scare the heck out of me.

  39. Nonprofit-No Budget*

    Hello! Are there any event planning/marketing people out there willing to lend some advice?

    I recently starting volunteering with a very small nonprofit organization: think, less than 10 fulltime staff, if that. All the rest volunteers with fulltime day jobs. I don’t know all the details, but I get the sense that we are VERY small, have just enough to do what we do (small publishing and events) and thus have no budget for anything else.

    My question is about events and how to increase reliable attendance. Currently we put out small poetry readings once every few weeks or so: 3-4 artists + a musician to open and close. Our venues aren’t huge by any means (would max out at 40-50 occupants), so we’re not expecting a big production. The problem is: the ONLY way we’ve been promoting events is through facebook and email. This means we have no idea how many people are going to show. Out of 700 invited on FB, 40 might say they’re going, but only 5 might show up. This is incredibly embarrassing especially when we’ve had to make pitches to bands on why they should play at our event, etc. All is free (though we do ask for donations).

    Is there any way to make this better with zero budget? Would a call to action (e.g. Having people RSVP with name+email, even if it’s free) increase reliable attendance? Are there other methods?

    The promotional stuff we DO put out is very professional. The FB posts, website, etc. — I don’t see a problem there. But is there more we’re missing? The current volunteer running the events said the onus is really on the artists to be promoting these to their fans, but in reality what ends up happening is that the only attendees will just be close personal friends of the artists who would be there anyway and aren’t necessarily interested in much else (do they “count”?).

    Also, we have a volunteer who runs the events, another in charge of music booking, and another in charge of artist/poet booking — and, I could be imagining it, but I might be sensing some volunteer fatigue. I worry about burn out if the events don’t get to a stable point within the next 6 months or so.

    Anyway, my goal here is stable, not necessarily big or fantastic. Just..if we could reliably know that AT LEAST 15-20 guests would show, that would be great — instead of having it be start time and NO ONE is there, and so we wait for an extra half hour hoping people will show, and sometimes they do (close friends of the artists), but sometimes only 5 people come throughout the whole duration and — it’s just embarrassing to say the least.

    Any advice? Thanks very much in advance!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I am an event planner. My last job was planning events at a college, where students were notorious for signing up for things and then not showing up. Attrition was a really big issue. The only thing that helped, and I don’t know if this is feasible for you, was asking people to actually register for the event and then sending several reminders about it (sometimes the most helpful reminder was 2 hours beforehand being like “hey, you’ve got somewhere to be tonight!). Do you charge for these events? If these are free events, that’s sort of the trade-off. People will say they’re going to go and then not come because they don’t lose anything by cancelling.

      What email lists are you using to promote the event? Can you team up with other organizations or networking groups or whatnot in your area to cross-promote?

      1. Nonprofit-No Budget*

        These are free events, yes. :( And I can see how it creates the kind of trade-off you’re talking about. I know nothing about event planning — is there a simple/free way to make it easy for people to register? Is there some sort of software?

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          Check out Eventbrite. I believe you can use them as a registration website for free if your events are free.

    2. inkstainedpages*

      Do other organizations in your community have calendars you could post your events on? I work at a small non-profit (3 full time staff), and we post events on calendars at the Convention & Visitors Bureau, Arts Council, local newspaper, public radio, etc. We find this really helpful because each calendar reaches a different audience, and sometimes the organization will pick up one of our events to do additional marketing on (for example, the CVB has a monthly radio show, and sometimes they ask us to come on and talk about a particular event coming up).

      We also print flyers (cheap, usually 8.5×11 and b/w) and post them around downtown and at the public library. We very rarely take out an ad in the newspaper, but the rest of our marketing for events is just Facebook, our website, monthly email newsletters, and a quarterly print newsletter to our members. Occasionally, depending on the event, we send a reminder postcard to our members. Our total marketing budget each year is $1500, but if we didn’t spend any on ads in the newspaper, it would be a lot lower.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      If this were me the first thing I’d ask is whether there’s actually demand for the events. Is there a large enough community of people who actually want to come? If I felt reasonably certain that there is demand for the events, I’d chat with some of the folks who are interested but don’t often make it. Are the events too often, in an inconvenient location, etc.? There might be simple adjustments you could make to increase attendance.

      Beyond the structural, you might consider a more social way of inviting people. Folks don’t want to just show up at a random event where they’re not likely to know anyone, so ideally you can influence groups of people who know each other to come, or help to create relationships once they show up. Are there any people who fairly regularly come to the events? Maybe you could meet with them to see if they would be willing to organize a group of 3 friends to also come to the next one. Are there other community groups with a similar interest who might want to co-host? School groups or groups from places of worship you could invite to specific readings?

      People need personal outreach (which also creates social pressure to show up!). You’ll also want to have at least one volunteer at the event who is mingling with people, introducing them to each other, making sure no one’s standing alone awkwardly by the wall, because those folks are probably not coming back without it.

    4. Development professional*

      Yes, RSVP and reminders will make a huge difference for you! You can take RSVPs through facebook, or use another online tool like Eventbrite (I’m not sure if this is free as long as your event is free?) or use an invitation software like Paperless Post or evite. Anything that will let you track replies in an automated way – you do NOT want people to hit reply to an email and then have the person getting the email to have to keep track of that somewhere. Then send a reminder the day before or day of to those who replied yes. The great thing about invitation software is that you can schedule this in advance, so you don’t even have to remember to send the reminder the day of.

      Take “yes” responses up to double the number of people who fit in your venue, since you know you have attrition.

      Also, are you doing too many events? Would your volunteers be less stressed and your audience be more eager to attend if you did these once a month instead of every few weeks?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I live in an area where the population is spread out. If we get 15 people at an event that is like a stampede. We tried a lot of things with moderate success.
      One is to watch the community calendars in your area to see if your event conflicts with Major Events.
      Another way to get people involved is to team up with another NPO and do things together. So for example maybe the Boy Scouts could do a bottle drive outside the building before the poetry reading. Or maybe a family lost their house in a fire and your organization could offer to help take up a small collection for the family at the same time. During holiday times you can consider running a food or toy drive with your event.
      From a different angle, what about packaging the poetry differently? Maybe get a speaker on the therapeutic value of poetry. (I know a few people now who have used poetry to work through their grief.) Then have your poets read. Maybe you have writers in your community that would be happy to give a short talk on how to begin writing poetry and you could combine the teaching with the poets.

      I will be blunt. Poetry reading would not do well in my community. Musicians might do better but if it’s planting season, harvesting season or if there a fire call then forget it. No one is going to show up. (A fire call here shuts down almost everything.) You might get some more insight on this topic by going to your chamber of commerce and asking questions. I went to a chamber in a neighboring town and the head of the chamber offered a ton of insight as to what is happening and why. (Her punchline: What you see is what there is to see. It probably will not change.)

      Good luck. It’s a hard nut to crack. I volunteered for years trying to build things up and finally I just could not put more energy into it. My conclusion came on taking a hard look at our community and the demands on their time and the economy of my area. I worked with a terrific group of people, probably the best group I will ever see. It was sad and it was hard to accept the answers we found.

    6. Little Teapot*

      Another suggestion is charging for the event, but off-setting it by say ‘$10 entry with two included beers’. People are less likely to bail if they actually paid for the event. If it’s free, any reason is a good reason to bail (it’s raining, it’s too hot, better offer, Friends marathon is on etc). The events would still be free (as you’re providing drinks for their $$) and it might give you a better indication of numbers. And of course if only 1-5 people register and pay, perhaps there’s a bigger issue as others have suggested.

  40. FurnitureLady*

    I have an “ethical” question. I’ve accepted a new job (yay) and will be starting there Jan 1st. I haven’t told OldJob anything yet because our year end is 11/30 and bonuses are paid out afterwards. If the bonuses hit on the first pay period after the 30th, I’d be giving notice on 12/4 which I feel good about. If not, it won’t be until 12/18 which is barely two weeks and most of that is the holidays.

    Basically, I’m holding off on telling them because I’m afraid they won’t pay my bonus, but I feel icky giving barely two weeks. Has anyone had this situation before? How did you handle it? (If it matters, the bonuses are a significant sum of money, not a few hundred dollars)

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I actually ended up turning a job down, among other reasons, because of this. I was nervous about giving notice too soon and not having my bonus paid out. Do you have anything in company policy about bonuses? If you’re employed on 11/30 AND employed when the bonuses are paid out, I would certainly hope they’d still give them to you!

    2. Sadsack*

      If you give notice on Dec 18, that’s exactly 2 weeks notice, isn’t it? I would do it, but I wonder what others think!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        You shouldn’t count non-work days, so assuming FurnitureLady’s company is closed for Christmas, 12/18 to 1/1 would be 9 work days.

        That’s tough, OP, but I’d say that if you don’t see the bonus on 12/4 and you don’t trust management to do the right thing (I’m assuming the bonus is for your performance over the year, not a retention bonus in a field with really high turnover), then hand in your notice on 12/17, and hope that it’s too late for them to change the bonuses even if they’re so inclined…but be ready for them to try.

    3. AnonForThis*

      Same boat, but new start date isn’t determined. I think our bonuses won’t be paid out until our Dec. 15 check.


    4. Dan*

      What makes you feel more icky, not getting your bonus, or giving the standard two-week notice?

      Unless your bonus is a defined part of your compensation structure, some people would argue that the bonus is really a retention strategy and that you would be unethical by taking it and quitting immediately. Me, I don’t worry too much about that stuff.

      Stick around for the bonus, and give a standard two-week notice.

      1. AnonForThis*

        My bonus comes at the end of the year, so I’d consider it to be more performance incentive than retention. “Do a killer job all year so you get your bonus at the end.”

        1. Cat Mechanic*

          That is how I viewed it until I worked at a job that withheld my year-end bonus (not a guaranteed part of my compensation but everyone got something at year-end) when I resigned and my last official day was Dec. 31. I called a few weeks later to ask about my bonus; their explanation was the bonus was an incentive for the next year. Not according to past practice, but I was so clueless back then that I couldn’t read between the lines. But really, all I had to do was stay one or two more weeks and *then* leave?

          1. Bea W*

            I had a similar experience where I was given a merit increase based on my performance over the last year. I submitted my resignation after the raise took effect but before the first paycheck was issued. In fact I worked an entire month after the raise was went into effect and never saw it.

            I got some BS story from HR that raises weren’t given to people who were leaving. That’s reasonable IF I had in fact not been given a raise at all or even if there was a policy to revoke a raise, but my new pay went into effect as if June 1 and I didn’t give notice until June 10. No one told me the raise had been revoked. I just noticed it in my paychecks and asked.

            When I asked the HR rep if the alleged policy on revoking raises was written anywhere she said no it wasn’t. So the only documentation dictating my rate of pay for the month of June was the letter stating my perforamce rating for that year and awarding me a merit increase based my past performance.

            My then current boss and my former boss who was still at the company asked about this as well. They were told not to pursue it. It was beyond sketchy. (And no way to treat an employee who had stayed on 9 years contributing to a highly successful project!)

        2. Bea W*

          Our bonuses are tied to performance for that year. So they are coming after you’ve done all the work and the purpose is to reward you for the work you’ve already done. In cases where people started the job mid-year the bonus is pro-rated, because you don’t get to collect bonus money for work you didn’t do. It would be totally legit to leave after receiving your bonus. I believe my company will even still pay it out if you leave before the bonus gets distributed, because you still did the work to earn it.

      2. Sunflower*

        Yup I agree. I see a bonus as a gift for working so hard for the year- you worked there all year, you deserve it IMO

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I think a lot of this depends on how ethical you think your company is. I worked for a company that paid me a bonus after I left that I wasn’t even expecting! I thought it was a mistake and checked in with the accountant, and it was standard practice (in this case, I left the company in June, and they paid me a partial year-end bonus the following January).

      If you have seen things in your company that lead you to believe they will not be ethical (taking a long time to fulfill reimbursement requests… or flat-out denying those requests, being cheap about covering travel expenses, not paying people on time, etc.), then you have no moral obligation to give them a full two weeks’ notice. However, if everything you’ve seen there leads you to believe they operate by the book, then you should also operate by the book and give two weeks’ notice.

      1. Bea W*

        My current employer does this. The bonus is for work already done. If you leave before the end of the year or start later in the year you get the bonus pro-rated for the part of the year you worked.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Well, in their mind it was very practically for work already done, because the bonuses were determined as a raw percentage of the company’s profits for that fiscal year… so it’s the actual money earned that year.

    6. FurnitureLady*

      Yeah – 12/18 is exactly two weeks notice. I just feel badly (assuming it all works out this way) much of that time will be unproductive/holiday time so it isn’t “really” two weeks. I don’t feel bad about waiting for the bonus because I’ve killed myself this year to earn it and I don’t want to walk away from money.

      This is a smaller company and the handbook doesn’t address this issue at all, so I think it’s at their discretion which is why I’m being extra cautious.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I wouldn’t worry about unproductive slow work days, but if the company is closed for a holidy I would *not* consider that part of your notice period. Generally the point of two weeks notice is to give your employer ten work days to work out how to handle things when you’re gone, which is why you shouldn’t take time off during your notice period unless your manager is totally OK with it.

    7. Noah*

      I would struggle with this too. I would want to give notice as early as possible because of the holiday, but I would not if I was worried they wouldn’t pay my bonus. In that case I don’t see anything unethical about waiting until 12/18. It is the standard two weeks, even if part of that falls on a holiday. Also, I generally view bonuses as a bonus for a job well done.

    8. it happens*

      Congratulations on the new job. You have a few issues here. You have earned the money and should be paid for it. Most companies I know of will not pay a bonus to someone who is no longer employed with the organization (and notice may or may not be included in this – I see exceptions above – hooray for those employers.) So to make sure you get the money you shouldn’t give notice until after you’ve received it. It sounds like you haven’t been there a year yet because you don’t know when they pay it – for an 11/30 fiscal year they may have until February to pay it for it to count as an expense in this year. Depending on the size of the company, there is lots of accounting work to do and then a whole process of figuring out the size of the bonus pool and then its distribution. Unlikely to happen in five days for a 12/4 payout, sorry. It would not be unreasonable to ask your boss when the bonus is paid – just as part of your end of year financial planning (you may choose to buy nicer gifts for family if your bonus is higher than you expect, for example, or put more money into your retirement account by 12/31, or any of myriad options dependent on your total annual income – it’s not a suspicious question to ask one’s boss.) With that information you can make some other decisions – ask your new employer to postpone your start date or if the bonus will be paid much further into 2016, then ask them to pay you the bonus as a signing bonus so you can start on Jan 1. Don’t know your industry, but this is not uncommon in finance. Granted, if I were the employer I would be a little miffed at these requests, depending on their scale. You really ought to understand how your compensation works. And that is not a slam on you – everyone should understand how his/her compensation works and companies should not make it so mysterious and take inquiry into its workings so adversarially. No matter what, there is nothing stopping you from starting whatever documentation/clean up you would be doing during your notice period. Call it end-of-year housekeeping if necessary.

  41. Anxa*

    So I’m at my local career one-stop center because I need to get serious about what I’m doing for work next semester. I’m fairly confident that I’ll have at least 80% of the hours I have this semester, plus a small raise (a few percent). I love my job, am happy with my actual wage, but between being part-time and having tons of unpaid time off, what would be a 24K salary full-time ends up being a few thousand dollars a year.

    Unfortunately, I’m not underemployed in the right way. I almost wish I didn’t leave my home-state when I was unemployed, as since I’ve left they’ve developed programs for the long-term unemployed.

    Has anyone had success getting into a job training program when they aren’t neatly unemployed? I have a B.S. and I was laid off more than 5 years ago and my company didn’t close and I never filed a claim in my current state. But I feel like I really need help.

  42. thunderbird*

    I am an executive at a volunteer run non-profit, we have a major event coming up and the team organizing it, while doing their best, are not meeting targets. They have been offered a great deal of support from others with experience and they don’t seem to take it. It seems like they have a vision and want to do it their way, unfortunately their way is not going to be successful and is creating significant risks for the organization. Many people are frustrated with this group. I have a very direct communication style and this has been interpreted as negativity and criticism. I am pretty diplomatic, but as things have been getting worse, I am being more direct about expectations and reiterating facts that seem to be misinterpreted. When volunteers do great work, we acknowledge it, and while I appreciate that everyone is doing this as unpaid work, we do need to achieve certain quality standards and follow protocols.

    How do I get these individuals who are underqualified and not producing results at our standard to accept our help and understand that we do have to meet a certain level of expectations without alienating people?

    Also, I have started to question my direct approach. It seems that higher level individuals prefer this style, but it intimidates others. It also occurred to me that people have asked me to soften my tone, but I have to wonder how much that has to do with being a young female. The men in the organization have never been spoken to the way I have and I can’t help but wonder if that is a factor here.

    1. BuildMeUp*

      If you’re at the point where it’s creating significant risk, is it possible to pull people from the groups that have the experience you need and temporarily add them to the team? It sounds like you’re asking and telling the volunteer group they need to accept help, but they’re still not doing it, so the only option seems to make it impossible for them *not* to accept it.

      As far as your directness goes, it sounds like that could be a symptom of their refusal to listen to outside advice. You’re giving them feedback they don’t want to hear, so they accuse you of being negative and conine igoring it. It could definitely be gendered as well! Women get accused of being intimidating or too direct all the time when a man speaking the same way wouldn’t be.

      1. thunderbird*

        We told them we would help by finding external people with the qualifications to support and guide them. It was made clear that this was not a take over but providing much needed assistance. But it feels like their ego’s are preventing them from accepting this, despite it being a directive from the board. You can’t force people to play nicely it seems. Any more force and I fear they will throw a destructive fit so it’s a difficult balance for me.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Who is in charge of deciding which ideas will actually be used?

      Is the organization a stand-alone or is it a chapter in a national organization?

      Are you the only paid person there?

      1. thunderbird*

        The organizing committee who ultimately answers to the board of directors. They don’t seem to be respecting this chain of command. We are a small national organization, no chapters per se.

        I am a board member. No one is paid. Despite having no employees we still need to adhere to professional standards, which doesn’t seem to sink in with certain people.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I hope you see this.

          Ugh, this is tough when no one is paid. I’m a board member and I have plenty of experience being a front line person also.

          What I find is that boards generally do not do a good job of talking with their people. There’s lots of reasons why this happens. I’ll cut to the punchline. My suggestion is to pull everyone together for a meeting. Review the guidelines and explain the importance of the guidelines. From my view here, I am not sure even who creates these guidelines/standards so teach them all these basic things so they can follow along better.

          My next suggestion may or may not seem that great. Take one of them and appoint them as liaison to the board. This is a person that will be considered a board member- your board can decide if they have voting power or no- and their job will be to report to the crew what is going on, what is in the pipeline. The other half of their responsibility will be to report to the board what the crew needs, how things are going and so on. The liaison person should be someone that most of the people involve agree, that they respect this individual.

          My last suggestion will make no one happy. I suggest annual meetings to recap the expectations of the organization. Go over responsibilities and answer questions. Tricky part, answer all questions with respect. Some questions may seem too basic to be real. Some questions might seem unnecessarily complex. Play a straight game and answer their questions. Kicker: This annual meeting is mandatory. Anyone who wants to remain with the organization must attend. Serve refreshments, even if you have to make it yourself.

          Yeah, probably not the answer you really wanted to hear. But this is what I am seeing around me, I hope it at least gives you a base to come up with ideas you will implement.

          1. thunderbird*

            Thanks, I really appreciate this perspective. Partially to ensure I am not the one expecting too much. We are having a meeting with the team leads, including the person who has essentially been the liaison to the board already. Other groups in the past have been really successful with this type of event, it just seems that this group has too much personal stake and grossly underqualified, and some sort of unwillingness to adhere to our organizations standards.

            I do think we did not do a good job with very clearly setting the expectations in the beginning and now we are in over our heads. Also there has been some shifts in leadership in their group which I am sure has done wonders for transmission of accurate information.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              You may need to flat out replace people. That is a luxury we do not have here. And if you start telling people things they don’t like they just quit and no one replaces them.

              I guess your first step is for your board to go over some options and develop an action plan that the whole board will commit to.

  43. Hello Friend*

    I’m trying to decide if I should flag something in advance, in case things get squirrely. They aren’t now, but you never know.

    So my manager manages only two of us, me and my coworker (we share the front office duties and a bunch of other things). My manager is way more friendly with my coworker – facebook friends, hang out on the weekend sometimes, chattier at work, etc. I don’t expect her to be my bestest friend, obviously my coworker and manager have much more in common with each other than I do. I do honestly believe that a manager can be friends with their direct reports and still be professional at work.

    But I worry about this turning into favouritism. There isn’t really much going on yet, though sometimes I think my coworker gets away with things I wouldn’t (but super small difference). I’m wondering if I should mention it to my managers manager (we chat with some regularity at other meetings) just as a heads up… and be really clear that I’m not concerned now I just want to make sure coworker and I are given the same privileges at work, treated the same work-wise, etc.

    do I bother mentioning it when everything is fine? Or just leave it be and only bring it up if things go sideways?

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      I’m not sure what positive impact mentioning it now would have – do you want your boss’s boss to talk to your boss about it? If not because everything is fine, what would the purpose be, just a heads-up that you might bring a problem to them later? I would say if it’s the latter, just wait until there is a problem.

      1. Kassy*

        Agreed. If nothing has actually happened yet, I’m afraid it would look like you are trying to start problems rather than pre-emptively head them off, like you’re intending.

  44. Ops Analyst*

    Ok, so I need a bit of advice. I’m 8 months into a new job and over the past few months I have really gained a lot of traction and visibility on my team. My work has become known for its high quality. I’m often told its good enough to go directly to the executive level without much (or any) changes or improvements. As a result, I have been getting a lot of requests from my extended team to do projects for them. Which I am truly happy about.

    The problem is that I am having trouble managing expectations. The work that I do is typically time consuming (quick reference guides, internal communications with visuals, visuals for executing presentations, technical writing, LMS courses, etc.) and part of that time is ensuring it is the high quality they have come to expect from me. But there is a culture at my company of having to have everything done right away. They are usually putting out fires rather than preventing them. So when a project from my team comes my way, it typically needs an immediate response. They are actually trying to move away from this, so I have a couple of long term projects going on in the background that are aimed at preventing problems we know will occur if we don’t address them.

    Most requests come from either my direct manager (Boss A) or my managers direct manager (Boss B). Both Boss A and Boss B are people I report to. Requests from Boss A are typically the long term, no rush projects (the ones I was essentially hired to do). Requests from Boss B (or his other direct reports) are typically given to me under fire and have a very short turnaround time. Much of the time my work from Boss A gets put on the back burner while I do the work for Boss B.

    So three things are happening that I am having trouble dealing with.

    1) I am given projects with unrealistic deadlines, all of which are priorities and often piled on top of each other. If I ask which to prioritize, I rarely get a helpful answer.
    2) I have two bosses giving me work and I don’t know which one I should be putting first. It seems like I should be putting Boss A first, since she is my direct manager. But both Boss A and I report to Boss B. Since he is higher up than her, it seems I should prioritize his requests.
    3) Because I can’t seem to strike the right balance, I will suddenly be sprung with unexpected deadlines from Boss A (who is not a great communicator). For example, a project I have been working on from the beginning suddenly went from a “soonish” deadline to a hard deadline of the end of the year. Admittedly it has been put on the backburner for too long but this is a project that has about 20 different components that take time to complete (For example, 6 LMS courses, only 3 of which are complete). I honestly don’t think it’s crazy that it would take me more than 8 months to finish something that includes 6 LMS courses, considering I am a new hire and these are being done in between many other projects. When I explained that it would take time to finish the LMS courses the responses is “but we’ve been working on this since day one and it needs to get done”. I agree, but I actually have not been working on LMS courses since day 1. They came into the picture about 3 months ago because I pushed for them. I reminded her of this but I’m worried that in her head she just sees a project I haven’t completed.

    Boss A in particular has very little understanding of how long these types of projects take and while she doesn’t usually give hard deadlines, she doesn’t understand why things aren’t getting done faster and will suddenly drop them on me. Boss B seems to understand more how long it takes to get these things done, but still has unrealistic deadlines for much of the work he’s given me. I don’t want to jeopardize my standing by not meeting Boss B’s deadlines or look like I can’t reach goals and don’t finish Boss A’s tasks.

    So, any advice on how I should balance this? How do I get them to understand that these things are time consuming and that if they want quality from me they need to give me that time? How do I prioritize when everything is a priority? And how do I prioritize the needs of 2 managers? Most importantly, how do I maintain solid organization of these things so that I am keeping Boss A in the loop so she doesn’t forget when things were actually assigned (like 3 months ago, rather than 8 months ago)?

    1. Dawn*

      Are you having regular check-in meetings with Boss A where you go over your workload and ask for help prioritizing? Quick 20 min meetings either every week or every other week would help with this A LOT.

      Also, work on managing upwards- which means, when someone asks you to do something, respond to their request with “Thanks Tyrion. I will be able to organize the Red Wedding on Thursday after I finish with the White Walker count for John Snow. Note that me doing the Red Wedding organization will push back my delivery date for your census of King’s Landing to next Friday instead of next Wednesday- if this will be a problem let me know and I’ll stop by so we can work out prioritization.” Basicaly, push push push your boss to prioritize things!

      1. Ops Analyst*

        We have check ins every couple of months. She’s not big on that kind of stuff. I’m thinking maybe summarizing my work in an email might help.

        Managing up is probably the most effective thing. I appreciate the language because I couldn’t figure out how to say it and I’m really not so good at that.

    2. Cat Mechanic*

      I get stuck on this part of your comment: “I reminded her of this but I’m worried that in her head she just sees a project I haven’t completed.” Try to stop worrying about this. You don’t know what she thinks!

      “How do I get them to understand that these things are time consuming and that if they want quality from me they need to give me that time? How do I prioritize when everything is a priority?” Tell them.

      I don’t know how far along you are in your career, but it doesn’t matter. This happens to me at every new job when I want to make a good impression. You can control only what you can control. You are human. My work is often known for its high quality, too, and it never fails that I find jobs where everything “needs” an immediate response. I am over this. Still professional about it, but over it. Your needs are 100% as valid as theirs. They want you to succeed. They might not know what your needs are, though!

      When I get super frustrated with a situation, I write it all out, much like you’ve done here, to clear my head. This leads me to a serious conversation with my boss, where I already have an outline. Would you feel comfortable having a serious discussion with Boss A or B about this? And if you rarely get a helpful answer, push back. Your needs are valid!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like A and B have no idea how much work the other has given you.
      It also sounds like neither one of them have good time frame references.

      I would start asking the both of them to sort out what is important and what is not. It would probably be best if B passed her requests to A as opposed to asking you directly. B does not seem to be letting A manage you. She seems to be side-stepping A. If B had to go through A with work assignments then A would have a better idea of how much you are handling.

      If you can muster up an explanation, tell them that they are routinely underestimating how long things take. If you can make a little chart of regular requests and how long it takes, this might help to give them basis to begin to consider time frames.

      Lastly, discuss expectations. It could be that you are trying to pump out Perfect Work and at certain times all they want is something that will do the job. Ask them to be more clear about when they want something that is functional vs something that is Perfect.

    4. it happens*

      You have a good problem, everyone thinks your work is great. Doesn’t make it easier on you.
      If Boss A isn’t into frequent check-ins then you could start sending her weekly report emails – super short – this is what I worked on this week for Boss B – this is what I expect to do next week. Maybe include a quick table of projects and expected/done completion dates – that also would make it easy to have an end-of-year results discussion. It would also start to give Boss A an idea of how much time each kind of project takes for future reference.
      I echo the comments above – Boss B should be filtering (or at least cc:ing) projects through Boss A if she is accountable for your output.
      Bottom line – you need to have a conversation with Boss A – the two of you need to be on the same page about expectations and you are not right now.

  45. Mimmy*

    katamia’s post above just inspired a question: A couple years ago, a fellow committee member told me I’d make a “wonderful” editor because I’m always catching mistakes and discrepancies that others often miss (this was for reading grant proposals). Is that what an editor does – checks for typos and inaccuracies? I can see myself doing that for a textbook publisher in my field, though I imagine the work is incredibly tedious.

    1. ElCee*

      It’s part of it. The job title varies widely but really what you describe is proofreading. A developmental editor provides feedback on actual content, a managing editor oversees freelancers/staff and the larger editing process, a production editor edits for general style, consistency, works with art, etc. At a newspaper these job titles mean something different than at a publishing house, and at a small nonprofit or firm may mean something else entirely.
      Proofreading is tedious and demands a sharp knowledge of house style and grammar, and your attention really cannot flag because you are the last line of QC.

      1. Cat Mechanic*

        Yes, my job titles have almost always been “editor” but meant “proofreader.” I’m in my 10th year of being a “proofreader” and am over it. No one actually wants an editor outside of publishing apparently. I would love to use my job title to make editorial decisions and for someone else to proofread my work!

        In the beginning, I loved proofreading. I understand why it’s a popular second career. When I was in college, a teacher asked me what my favorite part of writing a paper was. I answered it’s when I was finished so I could proofread it. I loved proofreading my friends’ papers!

    2. Short and Stout*

      Don’t do it. Major publishers of all types now typically outsource the kind of work you describe — proof reading and copy editing — to India and the Phillipnes. Salaries and jobs in this field are not good long term bets.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Also, not every editing/proofreading job is at a publisher. Anywhere that creates in-house marketing/client material will also have similar positions, as well as places that maintain significant online content.

        2. Short and Stout*

          I also work in publishing and know this to be true of all academic publishers, and have heard it to be true of major publishers of textbooks and children’s books.

          My employer currently has a hybrid model of some work done in house, some done by suppliers. We are very close to 100% outsourced proof reading. I don’t see this changing or reversing.

    3. Ryan the TempAnon*

      I’ve done copyediting and proofreading work, and, yes, what you said is the core of what I’ve done in those positions. You will probably also have to rewrite/reword confusing sentences, so strong research/Google skills are incredibly important. ElCee is right about the style manuals, too–there are a lot of them, and some of them are INCREDIBLY picky.

      I’ve never edited textbooks specifically, so I don’t know much about that, but if you’re curious, some places that might have resources are the Editorial Freelancers Association and the American Copy Editors Society. There might also be a MOOC or something you could look at just to get an idea if you’d like the day-to-day elements of the work.

    4. Mimmy*

      Thank you guys so much! I think my friend probably doesn’t realize that editing does not equal proofreading. It one of those skills that you’re very good at, but don’t always enjoy using. I’m more of a content person, to be honest.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      If you think it would be tedious, don’t do it, you won’t be able to maintain the levels of concentration needed. You need to get a kick out of the tortuous untangling.
      And if it’s a non-editor telling you that, I would take it with a pinch of salt. The job needs very different skills than most people think.
      It sounds like you are very literate and detail-oriented, and those are great skills for a lot of professions,

  46. Ms. I Need a New Job*

    I was interviewed by a panel of four people yesterday. At the beginning of the interview, Erin, who manages operations, handed me her business card; the other three did not. Since I have Erin’s business card, I of course know her name, but I cannot remember the names of the other three, as I was too nervous to focus and retain their names. I’d like to send a thank you follow-up email. How should I do this when I don’t have the email addresses of the other three people who interviewed me and when I don’t know their names?

    1. LiteralGirl*

      I would think that you could contact the person who scheduled the interview and ask for the full names (with correct spelling) and email addresses of the people with whom you interviewed yesterday. I don’t imagine that you would be expected to remember the full names of four people. Good luck!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Can you reach out to the person who organized the interview in the first place and say that you wanted to thank your interviewers for their time yesterday, but wanted to make sure you had the spelling of their names right?

      1. Ms. I Need a New Job*

        Thank you, LiteralGirl and Not a Real Giraffe. These are great suggestions. Do you have any other advise in the event that the “organizer” does not know my interviewers’ names? I have a feeling that the organizer won’t know who I interviewed with. Prior to my interview, I emailed her asking if I could find out who would be on the panel, and she said she didn’t know. Their interview set-up seems a bit weird.

        1. LiteralGirl*

          She should know now who you interviewed with, and if she doesn’t off the top of her head, she should be able to find out in short order. If not, you can send a thank you to the person who gave you the card and ask for the full names and email addresses of the others.

            1. College Career Counselor*

              You can also send a thank you email to Erin and ask her to pass along to the rest of the interviewers, since you don’t have their contact info. I realize that some may say you’re asking the interviewer to do work for you, but I think it’s easy enough for her to forward to the other people who were on the interview panel.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                I’ve done this (emailed the one person whose email address/name I remembered, and who also happened to be the hiring manager) and it wasn’t an issue (I got the job). I just said something like, “Thank you so much for speaking with me today. And please thank the rest of the interviewing team for their time as well – I greatly appreciated it.”

  47. Disabled Anon*

    My (v large) company has recently introduced an incentive for people to self identify as disabled or as a veteran by entering those who self identify in a prize drawing. I know that this information is private and won’t be disclosed to my manager, etc., but as someone with multiple invisible disabilities I don’t see any benefit to me (aside from the prize drawing) to self identifying since I don’t need any accommodations and I haven’t needed to take FMLA leave since working here. I’d be curious to know if other people know of a specific benefit (aside from ADA accommodations) or drawback to self identifying and how other people with disabilities (particularly invisible ones) decided whether or not to self identify?

    1. LCL*

      This can’t be real. Please tell me you are joking with us. HR and disability related issues aren’t what I do, but even so the idea of a drawing strikes me as insensitive. (Says the person who has got in trouble more than once for being insensitive.)

    2. katamia*

      Wooooooooooooooooooooooow. That sounds awful. I don’t think there would be any benefit to you disclosing if you don’t want/need accommodations. I’ve heard too many stories of people disclosing (autism and depression, mostly) and being treated poorly because it changed how people saw them.

    3. LiteralGirl*

      We recently received a survey, but there isn’t any incentive plan. There is simply an explanation about how it helps to comply with Federal regulations.

    4. fposte*

      I mean, I get where they’re going, in that people don’t like to self-identify and they want to raise the rates. But this is not a wise plan. I am reminded of Petula Clark’s song contribution to a telethon for disabled kids: “God Bless the Child Who Can Stand Up and Sing.” (She also sang “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” for a feminist gala. Oh, Pet.)

    5. Kassy*

      I wonder if the prize is even real?? It’s not as though they could publish the name of the winner…

    6. Amy M.*

      What? Just….what? As someone who works in HR, I find this deeply disturbing. I can see no benefit for the employees who choose to disclose that information – and to who? who is in charge of the drawing? hopefully not HR! and will the winner be announced to everyone? surely not or they would be disclosing confidential information – but possibly the company benefits (monetarily or by public perception) by having a certain percentage of it’s employees classed as veterans or disabled. Terrible.

    7. Noah*

      I understand they want to raise the % to meet a federal requirement, but this just seems icky and likely to have unintended consequences.

    8. Bea W*

      Entering people in a drawing for a prize if they self-identify? That feels wrong in ways I can quite put into words.

  48. Kairi*

    TGIF! I’m trying to stay positive, because this has been a disaster of a week! I’ve spent more time fixing problems that have negatively impacted our marketing trade shows than actually doing my main job responsibilities.

    I also had to deal with an employee taking chairs out of the office building to have an offsite at their house… I feel like I’m on a hidden camera show some days!

    1. Doriana Gray*

      I also had to deal with an employee taking chairs out of the office building to have an offsite at their house… I feel like I’m on a hidden camera show some days!

      I’m sorry, but this made me laugh out loud.

  49. SRB*

    I forget what comment earlier this week triggered this thought for me but: I love my workplace. Thank you AAM community for reminding me how lucky I am. I could wax poetic about all the reasons I love it, but I think it boils down to this: Our hiring goals are, quote: “smart, competent, and KIND”.

    The “brilliant jerk” is not welcome here. Slackers aren’t allowed to bring a team down. You’re judged not by butt-in-seat time, but deliverables. It just leads to a workplace that is so respectful of all levels of employees, diverse, and rewarding. I like all my coworkers and all my supervisors. I work hard because I like them and I appreciate the company.

    I wish more places worked like this. I don’t want to be in this industry forever, but I know I have such a good thing going on here!

  50. Mockingjay*

    Meeting Minutes Saga!

    Week 1 of new attitude nearly concluded. (I can only control my actions, so don’t fuss about what others do.)

    Things went pretty well. Crazy busy and tiring, but well.

    I took the minutes for the three-day conference. Very intensive, technical meeting. It is for a large program that is being transferred to my government boss. I worked on its sister program for 6 years (the ‘nirvana’ job) at ExJob. Turns out I knew several members of the new team; they also used to be on the sister program. It was nice to see them again. Long days (10-11 hours); I arrived early, signed in the visitors, attended the meetings and took notes, signed them out at the end of the day, then cleaned up and prepped the conference room for the next day’s meeting.

    Meeting went well; I think boss is pleased. I still don’t like taking minutes. My hand hurts after three days of continuous typing – I have no transcriptionist training so I just type long sentences really fast. I took 30 pages of notes, plus prepped agendas and briefs. Hopefully my participation will lead to an opportunity to work on the new project full-time. If not, I will continue job search.

    (Meanwhile my daughter and I went to last night’s late premiere of Mockingjay Part 2!)

  51. Existential crises*

    Right now I’m supposed to be negotiating a new contract at work. I’m finding it difficult because I’ve had a lot of personal stuff happen lately and am feeling a bit lost in my life, both professionally and personally. I really don’t know if I want to stay. I’m currently living overseas, so if I don’t renew my contract, I’ll have to return home (which is fine, but it’s not easy to find jobs in my field). My job is OK- it is interesting most of the time, and I make a decent salary, but it can be frustrating and is a bit more political than I would like. I definitely don’t want to be here for the rest of my career. In fact I’m think of trying to do something different after I move on from this…perhaps fulfill my long standing dream to start my own business in a distantly related field (which i have some experience in from past jobs and personal volunteer work). But to do that I need money, which I probably can only save if I stay with this job for another contract (3-4 years).

    I’m not even really sure what my question is, except, how do I handle contract negotiations when I honestly do not know if, and how long, I want to stay? With my personal life having been upended in the last month, I’m worried about making any commitments right now, but is there any way to say that to my boss without sounding completely flaky?

    1. Existential crisis*

      And apparently I can’t spell “crisis” or remain anonymous, since my gravatar followed me.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep, and I just did it here.

          Your gravatar is connected to your email address, so just don’t put your email address in the commenting box if you don’t want it to appear!

    2. fposte*

      I’m not the one feeling the emotional upheaval, but it sounds to me like a contract renewal for the short end of the time frame seems like a reasonable thing. I think now might be a time when it’s impossible to know what you genuinely want, so maybe it’s a time to prioritize the genuinely useful and the likely-not-to-suck.

      How does that idea make you feel?

      1. Existential crisis*

        My boss has suggested 4 years for the next contract length. I don’t know how she’ll react if I suggest a shorter contract. She might see me as a flight risk. But 4 years seems so long right now.

        Right now I’m trying to talk myself into staying because I make way more money here than I will if I go home. But I’m not sure the money is enough to keep me happy here for 4 years.

        1. fposte*

          If you’d be miserable, then don’t stay. But maybe think about just how happy you need to be in relation to the payoff you’re looking for. That doesn’t mean I’m saying you totally have to stay because money is enough, just that when there’s personal upheaval going on it can be hard to be happy anywhere.

          But you know, if you say you’re trying to talk yourself into staying, that sounds like a serious indication it may be time to go. What would that be like? Do you have contacts you can reach out to there in advance to check things out? Is the job-hunting doable for you?

  52. Andraste*

    Does anyone have advice on what to do about having a controversial employer on your resume? Think women’s health.

    The situation is unfortunate all around and I’m not sure how to fix it. I got a job at controversial employer last year. Unfortunately, while I still support controversial employer’s mission overall, the job was a nightmare. My department was really poorly managed and toxic in addition. The job also required significantly more travel than I was originally told. It just did not work out. I quit after 7 months and spent the next several months preparing for/testing/achieving a certification in my field. Now I’m back job searching again and not having tons of luck. The one-two punch of “short time at last employer” and “last employer was controversial” can’t be helping and I don’t know how to recover. Obviously if I could go back in time and make different choices I never would have taken the job, but that’s not possible and now I’m stuck.

    Any advice?

    1. Anxa*

      Is a move possible?

      The only public health jobs I saw posted in my area were with women’s health orgs, and they were temporary and part-time. I was very hesitant to apply for those. Even our public college uses a CPC as their women’s health resource, if that’s any sort of clue as to how the political climate for that goes around here.

      1. Andraste*

        My partner and I might actually be moving to another state in January if he gets a promotion he’s in the running for! … but the state is also conservative. :( Much bigger city though, so there will be more opportunities.

        I’m just so frustrated about the whole thing. I was so excited about that job, excited to be doing something I was passionate about and making a difference. Wanted to stay there a long time, but it was awful. Definite learning experience in employer red flags, but sometimes learning the hard way through making mistakes kinda sucks.

    2. Kassy*

      Even in my highly conservative area, I don’t think most hiring managers would write you off because of that employment. (I live in Missouri and one organization in that field has gotten a LOT of crazy press over the last several months.)
      If hiring managers are good, they’re going to be looking at your experience, your specific accomplishments at that job, and what skills you brought to the table, not its overall mission (provided you weren’t the ED or a position of that sort). Make sure your resume focuses on what YOU did, not what THEY do (which, it should anyway!).
      When asked about the length of that stint, you can always cite the travel (provided the next job you go in for isn’t heavily travel-based) being much more than you expected. I think most employers will get that, but it won’t cross the line into bad-mouthing.

      1. Observer*

        Also, focus on the fact that you left the job and went into a training program that led to a certification. “I left the job because I couldn’t deal with the travel” is not terrible but not great. “I didn’t like the travel, so I took the opportunity to step back, and decided to leave and get this training that would improve my skills and usefulness.” is MUCH better.

        1. Andraste*

          Thanks Kassy and Observer! Those are both helpful pieces of advice about how to phrase things when talking about why I left my former employer.

          Kassy you are also right that a lot of managers wouldn’t write me off because of my former employer. I do know from working for that organization that while controversial, more people do support it than is obvious, although people might be more private about their support. Good reminder to keep my chin up and keep applying. Thanks!

      2. Nashira*

        The stuff going down in Missouri makes me regularly want to wander downtown in Jeff and give a few people (KURT SCHAEFER) a piece of my mind. Omfg. How did Columbia even elect him? He’s so gross, so hideously gross.

  53. LiteralGirl*

    Question about applying for an internal position:
    There is an internal position for which I meet all of the basic requirements as well as about 85-90% of the preferred experience/skill set. I really want to apply to it, and if selected, go through the interview process. The thing is, I’m not 100% sure I would want the job. If by some miracle I am offered the position, do I need to accept it? If I don’t, will that reflect badly on me with regard to applying for other positions in the future? The company is pretty large, and the new job is in another department. I don’t want to burn any bridges.
    Thanks for any input!

    1. EmilyG*

      Why do you really want to apply for it if you aren’t sure you would want the job? I think this question has been raised here before with the consensus that yes, it would reflect badly on you (because you’re wasting the time of your own organization/colleagues).

      Can you approach the hiring manager discreetly and arrange to ask whatever questions would make you more sure?

      1. LiteralGirl*

        I don’t know who the hiring manager is, but I could reach out to someone in the position. That’s a good idea – Thanks EmilyG!

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, it is a bit trickier to turn down an internal offer. But you definitely should have a better chance of chatting up someone in that department (the hiring manager, or even a potential coworker, or both) about the position. In fact, they’d probably appreciate the opportunity to determine how good of a fit you would be.

  54. Tris Prior*

    Does anyone else work somewhere where the employees are responsible for snow removal, and if so, is one person responsible for it or do you rotate the duty? Also, is it considered paid time?

    My former manager used to do it, but he no longer works here. Also, he was salaried. I am the first one at work every morning, and also the only one who has really time-sensitive daily deadlines, so I do NOT want all of this to fall to me every time or else it’s going to make it even harder to get my work done on time. I think it should be shared among all of us somehow. I want to propose some sort of rotating schedule, but am not sure how to do that when a) it’s not like it snows on a regular schedule and b) everyone works different days so it’s likely that someone might not be in when their turn comes up.

    (Before anyone asks, paying for snow removal, or for a snowblower to use ourselves, is a complete nonstarter with our managers, and the landlord will not do it. Yet, we’ll get fined by the city if our sidewalks aren’t clear enough.)

    1. University Girl*

      Love your name!

      At my job in grad school everyone participated. You did it on the clock so you got paid (we were hourly except for management).

      1. Tris Prior*

        How did you get everyone to participate? Did you have an official rotation (Four will take the first snowstorm, Christina the second, Caleb the third…) or was it a more informal “hey, I got it last time, can you do it this time?”

        I like my co-workers, but they (and I include myself in this) tend to be one of those groups where if something is not specifically assigned to someone, no one steps up. This is mostly due to unreasonably high workload/short-staffing than laziness, though.

    2. Kassy*

      Would you get fined by the city, or would your landlord? If the latter, it might be worth mentioning.

      Also, since it is a work duty and they are dictating what you are doing at that time, I would think it would be paid time (provided you’re not exempt).

      1. Tris Prior*

        You know…. I’m honestly not sure whether the fine would go to the business or to the landlord. I should look into that.

    3. xarcady*

      What are we talking about here? A one-shovel-width wide path to the door or an entire parking lot?

      IMO, any task that is designated, “If anyone sees that it needs to be done, then do it,” becomes a task either never gets done, or gets done by one person who becomes grumpy and unhappy about being the only person who does said task.

      I’d go to the managers and ask them what *they* plan to do about snow removal. You are especially concerned, because if you are delayed in entering the building because the snow hasn’t been taken care of, you might miss your extremely time-sensitive deadline waiting outside for someone to come and deal with the snow.

      Don’t volunteer to do this. If asked to do this, say no. If forced to do this, ask for some reasonable sort of compensation–both to make up for the time needed (would you have to arrive earlier than usual?) and to take into account the deadlines you will now be missing.

      I have worked for some very cheap bosses/companies, and I’ve had to lug toilet paper from the basement to the bathrooms, but I’ve never worked anyplace where the building owners or management didn’t take care of the snow.

      1. Tris Prior*

        We’re talking about the entire length of sidewalk in front of our company, a path to the door, and a small parking lot. (We wouldn’t get fined for the parking lot, I don’t think, as it’s for employees, but the sidewalk in front of our building has to be clear; this is a very pedestrian friendly city. It does REALLY suck when you have to do that careful penguin-waddle when walking to the train or bus because no one shoveled and you’re afraid of breaking your neck!)

        I am planning on bringing this up with my boss during our next 1-1 meeting, and I was curious as to how other small companies handle it so I had some idea of what options to present (he tends to prefer when we bring him possible solutions rather than just mentioning a problem and saying, “what are you going to do about this?) . I suspect it’s just one of those things that no one has really thought about, because the last few winters my previous boss who doesn’t work here any more did it every time without comment or complaint, or being asked to. Actually, I think he enjoyed it, the sick freak…. ;)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I worked for a couple places where the employees shoveled. This doesn’t really help your question about how to make sure everyone takes their turn but here is some stuff that was helpful:

          Get those push shovels and shovel a few times rather than waiting for the snow to pile up.
          Take a rotary spreader- the kind used for putting down grass seed and use that for spreading salt.
          Here is a good trick- if snow will start AFTER the work day ends, then just before everyone leaves have someone salt all the areas. It makes a big difference in the morning.
          And have plan B for Big Storms. Ask businesses nearby who they use. That person/company may offer you a break if they are already coming to do another business. Or they may give you a break if you just want to go on an as requested basis.

          I actually did not mind the salting part. With the rotary spreader it went really fast, and much easier than when I do it at home.

          1. Xarcady*

            I like the idea of checking with neighboring buildings. You might find out that it isn’t that expensive to have someone come and do the work for you.

            That might be your best case argument. “We can hire Joe’s Snow Removal, who can clear the walks and parking lot for about $25 per storm–and they’ll come back during the day if necessary for no extra charge. It would take me an hour to do that, and I’m paid $22/hour, and it would either mean my getting here an hour early, so I’d get extra pay that day, or I’d come on time, shovel and miss my deadlines. Which would you prefer?”

            Plow guys usually have a per storm rate and a one-price-for-the-whole-season rate. Call around and see if you can get some estimates.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              And that pricing is about how it plays out around here, too. If interested, OP could probably find someone who would do it for a flat rate for an entire season- for here I would estimate $350. It’s not outrageously expensive, and it does save the employer from killing off his own employees when that big storm hits.

    4. Clever Name*

      This sounds like something my small company would do. :/

      I believe if you are hourly, your company has to pay you for that time.

  55. So Very Anonymous*

    Following on the in-comments conversation earlier this week on gender and emotional labor, I’m wondering if people (especially women) about how they’ve set limits on the face of a lot of pressure to be nice, caring, etc.? I’m in a “helping” profession which is heavily female with mostly male leadership, and the pressure from colleagues, higher ups, and patrons to do this kind of caring work for large numbers of people is burning me out. I’m curious to hear if/how others have dealt with this.

    1. Anon For This One, too.*

      I’m in a helping field, and I straight up don’t like one of my students. He grates on me, is rude, is there for help for a class that I frankly think is very easy (but isn’t everyone’s strong point) but then goes on about how easy some of the topics are in a condescending manner and just generally makes me uncomfortable. He’s weird and I don’t think has any friends. I’m constantly torn between trying to be a positive figure in his life and feeling sympathetic to having to fight back the snarky comments when he’s really pushing my buttons (and he do