open thread – November 6, 2015

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,226 comments… read them below }

  1. ACA*

    This morning someone forwarded a phishing email to the entire employee listserve and asked “Hey is this actually from [company]?” And now my inbox is flooded by emails all saying variations of “Delete it, it’s spam” and/or “Stop replying all!” It is glorious. (My favorite response: “Wait, does that mean I shouldn’t have given my department budget code to that Nigerian prince?”)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Ugh. And then people “reply to all” to say “STOP REPLYING TO ALL!!1!!”. I just stay out of it.

      1. Hlyssande*

        The last time that happened it devolved into amazing image memes. This in a very conservative industrial company. I was vastly pleased.

          1. Natalie*

            It’s fabulous! It will send all subsequent replies directly to the trash without you getting a notification or (1) in your inbox.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I kind of want to reply to all saying, “The people who reply to all to say ‘Stop replying to all’ are worse than the original people who replied to all. Stop replying ‘Stop replying to all’ to all. Thank you.”

    2. AnotherAlison*

      We had one of these a while back. It’s super easy to set up a rule to delete that will catch 99% of these. If it bugs you that much, set up a rule and move on.

      1. Folklorist*

        A couple of months ago, I wrote something on an Open Thread that I wanted to monitor. I hit the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” box at the bottom of the comments. Turns out it emails you EVERY TIME someone comments on the post–on an Open Thread. All 1200+ comments.

        That was the best use of Outlook Rules I’ve ever made!

        1. coyote_fan*

          It would be nice if the Notify me would only notify you of updates on the specific thread you commented on/request a follow-up. I have never followed up on anything via email since the first time I received 300 emails.

        2. Minion*

          I did that on a particularly lively discussion and my inbox was flooded for days afterward. I was really hoping that eventually we can just see replies to our specific comments, but that might mean we’d need to sign in to the site or something like that. Now, I just wade through the comments and hope I can find mine to read any replies.

        3. beachlover*

          Samething here! I would love it if the notify only sent you replies to the thread you commented on.

        1. ACA*

          So much fun! You can tell when a new email comes in because everyone in my office starts laughing at the same time.

    3. Amber Rose*

      Once upon a time, a hack/bug/whatever sent a spam email to everyone and locked all of us into reply all.

      Cue chaos. Utter chaos. I had 15,000 emails by the end of the day and access to way more information than I had clearance for.

      1. themmases*

        I have never been quite brave enough to do this and am so jealous of my partner who does sometimes.

        Luckily I get enough entertainment out of just thinking about it! I am a “quietly create an inbox rule” person.

      2. afiendishthingy*

        I’ve been so tempted to do this to an annoying VP who sends the entire department 17 updated versions of an Excel document that has NO BEARING on my work, rather than just saving the damn thing in the shared drive. Argh. (one of my coworkers tried to do this tactfully, by pointing out that it only applied to Teapot Coordinators and not Teapot Supervisors, but the VP replied that she would have THOUGHT the supervisors would want to be supportive of the coordinators. Um. We still get the damn emails. I bet my coworker gets double for her sins.)

    4. Dictionary Attack*

      Two decades ago, in the heyday of PINE, I was indirectly responsible for spamming one of my favorite authors on just this sort of chain. He sent at least three emails telling us all to stop replying to all, followed by a final message: “You have all been added to my killfile.”

      The author died prematurely several years later. I wish I’d saved that email.

    5. MaryMary*

      Something similar happened at OldJob (a very large, multinational company) over the 4th of July weekend. The initial company-wide email was sent by someone in Asia, and coworkers across the world responded while the US folks were having barbeques and watching fireworks. I unplugged over the holiday and came back to 900 emails in my inbox on Monday morning. THEN I received a couple hundred more emails throughout the day as the Americans began their round of “stop replying to all/I believe you sent this to me in error”

    6. Mike C.*

      I love bouncing messages back to the sender and informing them that you’re an “unintended recipient” according to those long and very silly instructions you sometimes see at the bottom of official emails.

      If you get a lot of folks to do this, it’s absolutely hilarious.

      1. Mike C.*

        More seriously, here at work an HR rep will remind everyone that you can get written up for “misuse of company resources”. This works until second or third shift hits or someone off site gets into work, then it starts all over again.

        We’re talking mailing lists of tens of thousands here, so it’s really fun.

    7. Pumpkins and candy corn*

      Oh my gosh…something very similar happened at my workplace yesterday. It resulted in almost 200 emails in my inbox this morning. Annoying as it was, the replies were hilarious!

    8. Key to the West*

      Before I joined my company, a similar situation happened here. To every company email account. Of which there are about 25,000. You can imagine how that panned out!

    9. coffee powerrrd*

      This happened to the State of CA in 2010. Someone from the Governor’s office sent an e-mail to ~50,000 employees without a BCC and by the time a few hours had passed, hundreds of new friends were made!! I don’t think anyone from the G.O. responded for about 6-7 hours and the whole thing ended up lasting for about 2 days as people randomly checked their inbox and decided it was the time to have some fun by replying to all :). (this was during serious budget crisis where lots of people were getting laid off, so it was pretty welcomed and refreshing, actually, haha)

  2. Anomnomnom*

    I’ve been feeling really burnt out at my job. I’m in sales and have been for 6 years. I’m really tired of the grind that comes with this job and when I think of doing this for even another 6 months, I feel exhausted. I find myself stressed all the time about quota and the next sale.

    I want to find a job that uses the great skills I’ve learned from doing sales so that I’m not just starting from scratch. Any advice? Have any of you transitioned out of sales into something related?

    Thank you in advance!

        1. Dawn*

          You could move to IT consulting since you already know a ton about the product(s) because you’ve had to sell them for so many years.

          1. Anomnomnom*

            Can you describe that more? I want to clarify that I’m not technically knowledgeable. I know enough to get by on selling the offerings but am not sure how that would translate into consulting.

            What can I consult on, essentially?

            1. WorkingMom*

              Maybe think about who your customers are. Would you be qualified to do the work of those customers? Think about other roles that you interact with on a regular basis – do any of those roles look appealing to you? Do you have the skills do those roles? Maybe start there and see what you come up with?

    1. AFT123*

      Sales Engineer, Pre-Sales, Sales Operations, Project Management – those are all positions that typically utilize sales skills but don’t have a quota attached. PM doesn’t seem like it would be at first, but working through a Project is very similar to an IT sales cycle, especially when you’re experience with implementation as well.

      1. Anomnomnom*

        Thank you! How technical do I have to be for a sales engineer position? I know enough to get by selling but still rely on technical people if it’s a very deep question.

        1. AFT123*

          Depends on the organization, for sure. Search by that job title though and check the descriptions for a better idea of what it means at that org. Example – I’m speaking with a company right now where an SE is trained heavily on the technical aspect, but needs to already have the presentation skills to present value-based demos.

        2. AFT123*

          If you’re super detail oriented and enjoy more of the administrative sales tasks, def. look into Sales Operations (Sales Ops) positions. A lot of these positions are centered around reporting and data compilation, which some people are awesome at and love. I’ve also seen people in Sales go into Overlay or Product roles, which could be enjoyable as well, however my experience is that you’d probably take a pay cut with these positions. Another semi-sales role is Partner or Channel management, although in recent years, I’ve seen the pressure on these folks rise and become quota’d.

    2. NotASalesperson*

      Have you looked into recruitment of IT professionals? IT recruiters are in relatively high demand at the moment and tend to need a very good sales personality. It would also require interviewing skills, but I would imagine that a lot of the sales skills would translate.

      1. AFT123*

        This is a good suggestion – recruiting! Be aware though, most all recruiting firm positions have some type of quota and can be high pressure as well. House recruiters might be a bit more relaxed.

    3. Mike C.*

      In the meantime, can you take a vacation? That’s going to help you in the short term and give you some breathing room to to start your new search.

    4. Ops Analyst*

      I’m going to slightly echo the Sales Operations suggestions, only with a twist. You could look into Sales Enablement – which is basically supporting the sales org with training, content, and analytics that make it easier for them to do their jobs.

      I’m a Sales Operations Analyst for a global software company and while a portion of my job does include data, reporting and administrative tasks as mentioned above, a much larger portion of my job (about 80%) is enablement. I create quick reference guides, write technical content, create internal communications, inform on process changes and improvements, and train employees. I did not have a heavy technical background (just slightly above average) going into this and it has not been a problem. I have an education and training background, but your background would also work for this kind of position, probably more so.

      There are also other people in my org who have moved from sales positions to roles in sales operations, PM rolls, and other areas that are still slightly sales but not exactly the same as being out in the field (more like managing sales people and accounts or determining the kind of work needed to fulfill the needs of the customer). Take a look at some open positions at large IT companies and see what is out there and you’ll get a better idea of what your skills could transfer to.

    5. Natasha*

      How about product testing? Ie, documenting bugs and offering feedback on new features. I think in IT that is often called Test Engineer or QA.

    6. Amanda*

      Lots of IT firms have client management roles that are not sales. Essentially, hand holding new clients through implementation, being the internal go-to for that client, representing their interests and being the point of communications. Lots of the same skills, none of the quotas!

    7. Poplar Bennie*

      Fundraising involves a lot of the same kinds of skills, if you’re interested in working in nonprofits or politics.

    8. Alexa*

      Hospitality uses a lot of the same skill set! There are definitely some hospitality positions in the tech industry, if you work for a company or organization that hosts a lot of industry events.

  3. BRR*

    My question is about the best time/ best way to ask to telecommute for one day. I started a new job in mid-October. The commute is over an hour each way. The organization is very telecommuting friendly, most people work from home Mondays and Fridays and you can work from home other days with your manager’s approval. On the day before Thanksgiving, the office is closing early and I’m traveling that evening. I would like to ask to work from home that day so I don’t have to spend an additional 3.5 hours traveling especially when the office is opened shorter than usual. My job can easily be done from home and I’ve been really excelling so far with big projects. Should I ask sooner or closer to the actual day? Or should I not rock the boat so new into a position? My manager is a reasonable /sensible/intelligent person.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If the company strongly supports teleworking, I’d say ask, and ask now! That day it makes particular sense for you to telework; after all, wasting your time will make you less productive in the long run, even if the waste is off the clock.

    2. J.B.*

      For one day with the openness your company seems to show, go ahead and ask. Asking for a regular telecommuting day should maybe wait about but the day before Thanksgiving? It’ll be dead!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would ask now. I would bet that working from home the day before Thanksgiving is pretty normal for that office. I also don’t think it’s a “too soon” thing, because in most professional situations where telecommuting is pretty normal, that’s a very reasonable request! It’s not just a day working from home, it’s that specific day that makes total sense.

      In your place, I would say to your boss, “I’m trying to plan my Thanksgiving travel, and I’m wondering if I could possibly work from home on the Wednesday before? I totally understand if it’s not do-able” or something like that.

      Also: so glad to hear the new gig is going well!

    4. LBK*

      Given that your office is so relaxed about WFH, I would bring it up now and do it nonchalantly, almost more like asking for confirmation than permission: “Hey, just a heads up that I was planning to work from home the day before Thanksgiving. Let me know if you need me in the office instead.”

      1. CMT*

        I don’t think I would do it this way. BRR *just* started this job and I don’t think has telecommuted at all yet, so I think a much better tactic would be to ask. It sounds like the answer will almost certainly be yes.

        1. LBK*

          Oh, oops, I missed that she just started 2 weeks ago. I think it would be fine to do it after a couple months but I agree that’s too soon. Disregard!

        2. BRR*

          Yeah, because I’m new I’m going to ask and not just say I’m doing it. After some time here that’s how it works here though. The freedom that people just announce their schedules makes me uncomfortable haha.

          1. INFJ*

            I can totally relate! I just started this year at a place that has a similar WFH standard to yours. In addition, people don’t “ask” for time off, they just block out the days on the department calendar and inform their boss via email. I was all, “Whaaaaa….? I don’t have to fill out a form and wait for my boss to sign it to get a day off?!” My boss doesn’t even keep track of my PTO days. (I’m salaried, exempt.) Hooray! For once I get to be treated like an adult!

      2. Oryx*

        If they need manager’s approval I wouldn’t suggest phrasing it this way. Especially if they are new and it’s the first time they are hoping to WFH

        1. LBK*

          This is how I used to ask my manager for WFH approval and it worked well. It’s basically the same way I’d ask for vacation days.

    5. Hillary*

      Last week I asked my new boss (at a new company) “so, what does the day before thanksgiving look like here?” It’s a completely reasonable question to ask three weeks before the day. Sheesh, I need to get organized.

      I’d probably phrase your request more neutrally/casually and give them an out since it’s so new. If you’re doing well I certainly wouldn’t say no.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was thinking of coming at it from the side, also. Something like, “Boss, if a newbie asks for x time to wfh before TG, is that frowned upon, or is that considered a normal/acceptable request?” Given that you say your boss is a thinking/sincere person, I would try this method.
        If you make it clear that the boss’ preferences are what you will do, I think you will make out well here.

  4. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

    Boy do I have a story for ya’ll!
    For year I have told my boss that the flow of patients at this health center is just asking for an error to be made. Patients are coming from all directions, there is no organization. Just last Wednesday I told her again that the problems are getting worse. Well… yesterday it happened. I made a BIG mistake. No one’s health was jeopardized but patient A was given patient B’s lab slip to go to the hospital to have the tests done because they were special and I can’t to them here. I noticed within 10 minutes and called the hospital, they too had just caught the error, the correct lab slip was faxed and then he had his blood drawn. The lab order had patient B’s name, date of birth, address, insurance information, tests and his diagnosis of Hep C.
    Obviously this is 100% my fault and I take the blame, I came to work today knowing that I will probably be let go at the end of my shift or early next week. The network I work for takes HIPPA very seriously and rightfully so. That’s my story and here’s my question. I’m not going to be able to get a job in health care again, anyone have tips on completely changing career paths? When a prospective health care employer calls to confirm dates and reason for termination and they hear HIPPA violation all chances I had with the new place are gone.
    My employment history is ok, 06/2011-current-phlebotomist, 2009-20015 home health aid, 05/2008-10/2009 worked with people with disabilities, 11/2006-04/2007&11/2007-05/2008phlebotomist at the same hospital that I worked from 04/2007-12/2007 as a tech in inpatient psychiatric unit.
    My resume is fine and the cover letters I sent out last night focused on the interpersonal (I like that word) that I have developed while working with and caring for so many different people. I stated that I’m looking to leave the health care field but all in nicer words- any tips? I could really use some advice on what to say when interviewers ask why I’m leaving health care.

    1. Christy*

      I can’t speak to the health care field particularly, but I’d just be honest: I worked in health care, and I made a mistake that resulted in a HIPPA violation, and that will preclude me from getting a job in the field. (Then talk about your general attention to detail and how you’ve learned from it.)

    2. brightstar*

      I would also read Alison’s column on what to do when you’re expecting to get fired. It has some really good tips, such as discussing severance and negotiating what they will say in response to reference calls.

    3. Hlyssande*

      Ouch, that’s really rough! Are you positive that they’ll let you go, though? Is one mistake something that gets people let go in that institution? If you haven’t already, you may want to bring it up to your manager proactively and maybe offer some possible solutions you can put into place to ensure that you never make that same mistake again (and maybe even some process change suggestions for the department).

      I think managers respond much better when you admit your mistake before it crosses their desk and tell them how you’re going to avoid it happening ever again.

      I know that HIPAA is a huge, important thing (for good reason!), but it kind of scares me that one slipup could potentially destroy a career.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, you may not be let go. As far as you know, these mistakes happen all the time and there may be a process in place to rectify it. As I understand it, a HIPAA violation needs to be reported, but this was not an intentional violation, so it isn’t as bad.

      2. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        I’m the one who caught the mistake, fixed it and brought it to my managers attention. I would be absolutely shocked if I wasn’t fired. The main issue is that once its a HIPPA violation its out of my managers hands and it goes right on up chain of command.

        1. Meg Murry*

          How is your relationship otherwise with your manager? Not HIPAA/medical, but my mother had to fire an employee over breaking a major rule by accident* and since she really liked the employee otherwise, she made some calls and was able to get the employee hired at another store across town by the next week. If this really was an accident, and your relationship is otherwise good with your manager or other co-workers, any chance they could put in a good word for your or serve as a reference to help you get hired elsewhere? Unless this violation costs you your license, this might be the kind of thing where a reasonable story about how the procedure was broken plus an excellent personal reference could get you another position.

          *My mother was manager at a grocery store. One very busy night, one of her best cashiers was working, and a “secret shopper” was sent in to buy cigarettes. The cashier carded the person, and in her hurry didn’t catch that the ID said he was 17, not 18. Because if you ask someone for ID, do you really expect them to show you one that says the person is underage? But store policy said the employee had to be fired for selling cigarette to a minor, and it also cost the store a big fine from the ATF or whoever enforces those things – however, my mother, and the owner gave this employee excellent references, and were actually able to hire her back in a few years.

          1. SunnyLibrarian*

            Ooh, when I was a bartender, someone tried this with me. They almost got away with it. I walked away to make the drink and thought “wait a second, what was the date on that card?” His 21st birthday was only a few days away. He argued about it, but I told him to get lost.

            1. Natalie*

              Bouncer: “It says right here you’re 20? You’re not even going to show me a fake?”

              April: “Sometimes the confidence… confuses people.”

            2. Liane*

              The annual training OldJob did for both tobacco and alcohol sales mentioned it’s not uncommon for an underage buyer to give their real ID, hoping the cashier won’t pay close attention.

              As for those undercover shoppers, they pull some odd stuff. Again, at Old Job, a colleague had one of them present her with a plain piece of paper with a legal age “Birthdate” written on it! Of course it didn’t work. When I heard the story, I said, “Gee, they could have made it a bit harder, and gotten one of those forms the high schools fill out certifying that a student has the GPA to get a learner’s driver permit.”

              @YUPhlebotomist, I am sorry this happened. I wish you the best!

            3. Evie*

              I was at a bar last week – more upscale than I usually frequent – and they actually had a thing on the wall that specified the like minimum date (if that makes sense) required for an ID for that person to be able to drink. Like 29-11-1997 or something (this is in the not-US so drinking age is 18y/o and we do day-month-year for dates).

              It made a lot of sense that on a busy night it might be too much mental gymnastics to keep track of it all in your head! (I know I had to stop and think about it when I was working hospitality)

            4. Clinical Social Worker*

              I was actually almost kicked out of a bar because midnight was 15 minutes away and they didn’t want me to get served before midnight (I turned 21 at midnight). Had to fight with the bouncer and promise ten times I wouldn’t order or drink before midnight. Yeesh. I think they’d recently been in trouble so wanted to avoid that again. At the time though, I was put out.

      3. themmases*

        You know your organization best, but I wouldn’t be so sure that you will be fired especially since it was a mistake. The fact that you caught it and handled it appropriately is a point in your favor. Catching that someone who had the wrong lab slip is a safety near miss as well as as HIPAA issue, and it’s best practice in health care to not punish people for the safety near misses because we want to learn from them and encourage people to report them. Catching the issue is actually a sign of being good at your job.

        In the HIPAA training I’ve done, the case studies of people fired or fined were people who took some action intentionally that they knew or should have known wasn’t allowed. For example, checking a family member’s medical record who was treated there, keeping data on an unencrypted flash drive that they lost, cases of people deliberately reading files that were left out in order to steal SSNs.

        In my time as a research coordinator we had a couple of incidents were information was accidentally shared outside of a study. Research subjects are protected by more than just HIPAA. Records from their participation in a study and sometimes the fact that they did participate are private, even from other health workers unless they give permission. In our case a CD of subject imaging was sent to an intermediary that was supposed to remove the patient name before sending it to our funder, but didn’t. It was our mistake and the intermediary’s mistake (well not mine, I was just in the department). The recipient destroyed the CD, we looked at our processes, and we called the subject to let them know it happened and what we were doing about it. My coworker who made the CD wasn’t disciplined, nor did anyone think she should be.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I’m really sorry this happened – I hope you don’t just give in without at least trying to save yourself. Tell them you’ve been telling your boss for a year that things were unorganized. Tell them you caught the mistake right away.
      I have a cousin who was training to be a nurse and didn’t like it and now she manages a bunch of halfway houses for adults with mental disabilities. She didn’t have any experience when she started but worked her way up very quickly (less than a year) because it’s hard to find good workers in that field. She loves it but I think it entails a lot of driving around to the different homes.

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        I will try, I literally brought the problem up last Wednesday. They have been grooming me to open a new center, telling me that I know what does and does not work in each center because I’ve worked in all 11 but they refuse to make any adjustments at all.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      So, when I got a letter from my eye doctor that was actually for the other person in town with my name, someone got fired? I know HIPAA is important, but people are human and do make mistakes. I guess I’m a bit surprised that any mistake, especially one that is caught and no-one was harmed, will be career ending. Do you WANT to leave health care? Or are you just assuming you don’t get a choice?

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        The organization that I work for takes HIPPA incredibly serious, far more seriously then the law actually requires. For the past 4 years it hasn’t been a problem because I’m compliant and I don’t mess up but now….

        1. Red Stapler*

          That really sucks. I once got insurance EOB’s for someone else’s procedures and no one at the dr office got fired. We found out there was another woman with my exact name and birthday (but different years), so the billing got messed up. Really upset my mom, cause I was 14 and she received an EOB regarding “my” recent pregnancy test.

          1. fposte*

            Hey, I have an everything-but-year doppelgänger too. I independently verify the year on *everything* because of it.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              The previous residents of our house have our same last name. I think I will get their junk mail forever. One may not be alive anymore. (If she is, she’s 91). Sometimes there is no practical solution to the name mix-ups.

            2. Sam E.*

              I share my birth year with two other women who have my exact name, and we all go to the same small town dentist. So when I call to make an appointment, and give my name and birth year, I get “…Are you the one born in March, June or November?”

          2. Meg Murry*

            Yes, I left a medical practice because they just kept pulling the wrong file (same first name, middle initial and last name) and every time I went in they were like “test results? what test results? You haven’t been here in six months?” and I’d say “no, I’m pregnant and I come here every 4 weeks, and every 4 weeks you pull the wrong file”. I finally asked the office manager if there was some way they could flag my chart, and I think the final solution was giant neon sticky notes that said “2 patients at this practice with the same name, check birth date” or similar.

            But I’m guessing when my name doppelganger went in for her exam and they asked how the pregnancy was progressing she got far more upset than I did :-)

            1. Ad Astra*

              I once had a similar experience with a dentist. They pulled the wrong file and nearly tried to give me a root canal before they realized their mistake. I was there for fillings, so it took me a second to realize they were talking about someone else.

              I’ve also been warned by several doctors to double check my prescriptions, because apparently I have a common name. I have never met anyone with my exact name, but people are constantly telling me “Oh yeah, I have a friend with that same name!”

              My first name is quite common, but I don’t know anyone outside my family with my maiden name. My husband’s name is slightly less common, so now there are only 136 other Ad Astras in the country instead of like 800.

        2. Anonsie*

          For what it’s worth, so does mine– such that one intentional infraction will get you fired immediately.

          However an unintentional infraction, as I have ever seen, does not. That said, the diagnosis on there might tip this in a way I haven’t personally seen. But I have personally seen a lot of identifiers & other patient information get misdirected (and since part of my job is to prevent that, this is infuriating for me) without anyone being fired.

      2. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        an no, I don’t care to leave health care, I’m bored and frustrated with my job because changes that should be made are not but other than that I wouldn’t leave.

      3. fposte*

        I think this is a good question–HIPAA violations happen all the time without anybody being fired.

        But, Unfriendly, if I recall correctly you haven’t been enjoying patient care and have been wanting a less hands-on kind of position, so maybe now is the time to kick that hunt into gear even if they don’t let you go.

      4. Creag an Tuire*

        Now I’m glad I didn’t bother to call the doctor’s office to tell them they’d accidentally mailed me the test results for “Creag M. Tuire” along with mine. I mean, sure it’s technically a violation of his privacy, but since I don’t know him from Adam’s house-cat the harm isn’t worth ending somebody’s career over…

      5. Krystal*

        About a month ago, I received an email with another woman’s OBGYN bill attached. The bill had a complete listing of the tests she had performed. I now know that another woman has genital herpes and precancerous cervical cells.

        I called the office and they weren’t that concerned – oh, just delete it. So I filed an official complaint, and I hope that someone gets fired.

        1. Red Stapler*

          I agree, the attitude of the staff makes a huge difference. When the dr office mixed me up with another patient, they apologized profusely and from then on I had to tell them my birthdate when I made appointments, then they’d read it back to me to confirm, & verify it again at check in each time. We never got mixed up again.

          In your case, Unfriendly, I’d say the fact that you reported the mistake before the patient & tried to get it back is a huge mark in your favor. I’d hope future employers would understand. Honestly, even if they don’t fire you, you should look elsewhere anyway. A workplace that punishes people for being human, is only setting people up for failure.

      6. Kelly L.*

        The Secret Tragedy behind The Blue Castle*


        (**sorry for the oblique spoiler)

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          Fabulous book. Good thing it ended up not being an actual tragedy, though. :)

      7. Arjay*

        I’ve worked in healthcare for more than 20 years and have never seen someone fired over an accidental HIPAA violation. Even if they do let you go from this job, I would in no way think that it would be career-ending. I’ve seen people get fired for a lot worse, and they don’t seem to have a problem finding a new job in the same field. Good luck.

        1. Dot Warner*

          I agree, I’ve never heard of anyone getting fired over one accidental HIPAA violation. In my experience, it’s the people who make repeated mistakes or deliberately divulge info to the wrong places that get fired.

          1. Windchime*

            I’ve seen someone fired for a kind of accidental violation. She should have known better, though. She was a receptionist in an OBGYN department and an fellow employee’s daughter came in for prenatal care. Next time the receptionist saw the coworker, she congratulated her on her grandchild-to-be. Except the coworker didn’t know her daughter was pregnant. Oooops. Daughter was understandably outraged that her personal medical situation had been shared to her mother, and the receptionist was fired. It was an innocent mistake, but not the kind of mistake that those of us in healthcare are allowed to make out of respect for our patients’ privacy.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t think that’s an accidental violation, though; that’s an intentional violation, in that the employee knowingly related HIPAA-protected PHI to somebody not the patient (as opposed to accidentally putting it in the wrong envelope).

              She may not have realized that the information wasn’t already known to her audience, but she knew she was sharing it with a non-patient. I’d have fired in that situation too.

      8. Liane*

        I don’t know about it getting someone fired, but it IS a serious violation. When I edited medical transcriptions, the FIRST thing I was listening for was to make sure ALL the identifying info (patient name, gender, birthdate, doctor’s name, etc.) in the header matched exactly with the dictation of that info. If not, it went straight to Quality Assurance because, I was told, if a transcription ended up on the wrong doctor’s desk, even if s/he never read it, it was a HIPAA violation.

    6. Rat Racer*

      That really sucks because it sounds like the organization set you up for failure. Not only that but you also deserve credit for catching the mistake right away and trying to fix it, rather than covering it up. (Way to encourage people to be proactive and accountable). My ranting here is totally not helping you, but I’m seriously pissed at your organization. HIPAA violations are a HUGE deal, but just like medical errors, human beings need organizational and team support to make sure that they don’t happen. It’s a really stupid organization that throws the lone employee under the bus for their own incompetence. Sorry this happened to you.

      And – nitpick – it’s HIPAA folks. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

      1. Solidus Pilcrow*

        And – nitpick – it’s HIPAA folks. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

        I was just nitpicking this on a candidate resume this week! He used both HIPPA (incorrect) and HIPAA (correct). It wasn’t the thing that got him rejected, but it was something I noticed right away and it certainly didn’t help him.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, it sounds like YUP is the only one on the ball there, it would be very unwise of this practice to fire her for catching her own mistake.

        And this is something that you should mention, OP. Others are watching to see what happens to you. The message here is “If you try to correct your own mistake, if you try to own it in any manner, then we fire you.”

        What happens next in work places like this is NOT pretty as people try to hide their mistakes even better and so on. You could point this out to TPTB.

    7. Jennifer*

      You have my sympathies. I hope finding some other job field works out for you. You’re already sounding calmer than I would be in the same boat.

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        I feel strangely calm. I have $70 in my savings account but for some reason i’m not panicked yet.

    8. Nom d' Pixel*

      I hope that the situation isn’t as dire as you think it is. You caught the mistake early and corrected it, so that should count in your favor. If it doesn’t, there are other types of labwork that you might want to consider. I work in a bioanalytical lab where we analyze blood samples from clinical trials. We have a few former plebotomists in our department.

    9. Mike C.*

      If they take it so seriously, why did they ignore you when you pointed out a clear risk of process failure?

      Blaming people first and firing for a first mistake is a great way to get high turnover and employees who hide mistakes rather than fixing them. That’s going to get people killed.

      Sorry to hear this. :(

      1. LizNYC*

        *steps up on soapbox* because nurses and other medical office workers are often told that whatever resources they have are the ones they’re expected to work with. My mom is leaving an internationally known institution because she’s been asking for 2 years for help and they keep saying she should “work with what she has” (which is enough work for 4 16-hour days), despite a multibillion-dollar endowment.

        1. OhNo*

          Seriously. I don’t have any family in the healthcare field, but I spend a lot of time in and around doctor’s offices and I hear that all the time. Healthcare workers must be magic, because I would go bonkers if my boss(es) just kept telling me to make do.

          Definitely agree with Mike C., though. If there’s any chance you won’t get fired (fingers crossed!), can you turn this mistake into an example of what you were already saying? Maybe if they see that it really does cause mistakes to happen, they’ll finally get off their butts and fix it.

        2. Dot Warner*

          Definitely! In my (limited) experience, it doesn’t matter how much you try to tell upper management that you’re seriously understaffed and a huge mistake is just waiting to happen, they won’t hire more staff. Don’t you know that the hospital needs to hire a marketing team to come up with flashy ads and a new mission statement? Get your priorities straight!

      2. Anonsie*

        <blockquoteIf they take it so seriously, why did they ignore you when you pointed out a clear risk of process failure?

        *Ancient Aliens guy face* Hospitals

        And yeah this is why a lot of hospital gigs have such high turnover. It’s… Basically standard. You get used to it.

    10. bad at online naming*


      I work in healthcare, at a large enough organization that HIPAA violations happen pretty regularly. We report them, track them, have a team for responding to potential violations as quickly as possible, and work on prevention procedures. No one has ever been fired over them! (Except for the time someone was caught (trying) to sell medical information.)

      1. bad at online naming*

        By regularly I don’t mean to imply it’s not taken seriously or we’re lax – just that humans make mistakes, and a lot more humans usually make a lot more mistakes. We just don’t punish for them, we set up known appropriate responses to possible issues and work to make procedures where it is difficult to make mistakes.

      2. Lindsay J*

        So much this. I work in a different field, but one that runs on a similar idea. You want to encourage people to report mistakes so that issues in processes can be identified and other steps can be taken to prevent future occurances from happening.

        Firing people for one *inadvertant* and reported mistake (ie, putting the wrong piece of paper in the wrong hands, not looking up a celebrity’s medical information or showing up to work drunk) just means that most people will try to cover up their mistakes, you won’t be able to use them as a learning opportunity, and you’ll see more of the same mistake in the future.

    11. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      we recently- like this spring had a staff member go to the police about a patient who was creeping her out and she wanted to know if there was anything she should be worried about. because she told the police the patients name and date of birth she was fired for a HIPAA violation

      1. OhNo*


        I get that HIPAA is a big deal, although I don’t know that much about it. But this just sounds like they’re implying pretty heavily that employee safety isn’t important to them at all. Just… wow. Would people get fired for reporting if they were assaulted by a patient, too?

        As awful as I’m sure it sounds, I’m hoping that this other person had some other issues, and the violation was just the cherry on top that led to firing. If they fired her just for that… Well, that’s not the kind of health organization I would want to be a patient at, that’s for sure.

        1. Treena*

          What!? You’re creeped out by a patient/client and the first thing you do is go to the *police*?? That’s way over the top and completely out of line, 100% fireable, even as a single instance. First step would be to ask a co-worker’s opinion, or even share your concerns with a manager. Go over their head if you’re ignored. But being “creeped out” is nowhere near the level of police involvement and I’ve worked at healthcare orgs that regularly calls the police for all levels of security issues.

          1. Lindsay J*

            Yeah, and I don’t know why being calling the police about being creeped out would require disclosing the patient’s name and date of birth anyway (unless she was asking them to run a criminal history check on him or something, which I don’t think they would do just because a civilian requested it unless by asking the police she meant asking a friend who happens to be a cop vs calling the police department directly.)

            I don’t think she should have been fired if she called the police and asked them to come respond to a developing situation (even if the situation turned out to be not a dangerous one) or called to have the patient evaluated for a 72 hour psychiatric hold because she thought he was a danger to himself or others (though being in a hospital I feel like there is probably a way to do that without police involvement) [wait, is it a hospital? I forget where she works].

            But the phrase “to see if there is anything she should be worried about” seems weird to me and makes me think that calling them for an active response wasn’t the situation that occurred.

            1. Lindsay J*

              Just to clarify, that makes it even more wrong in my eyes.

              If she called the cops because she was creeped out by the patient, thought he was an immediate danger to her, and wanted them to come arrest or evaluate him, that would be one thing. Yes, possibly a massive overreaction depending on the circumstances (if creeped out means he’s a creepy old man who leers at me vs creeped out means that he’s muttering about stabbing people under his breath and gesturing erratically). But I could understand why she might do it at least.

              But calling to see if there is anything she should be worried about makes me envision her calling and pretty much going, “hey, there’s this guy here who is being creepy. Does he have a prior violent crime record?” or similar, which seemed even weirder and more off-base to me.

    12. RachelR*

      I’m sorry this happened to you. I just want to say that I really admire how you’re handling this; I would probably fall to pieces, but you’re just looking at the next steps and doing what needs to be done.

    13. Mimmy*

      I’m keeping my eye on this post – Please keep us posted on this! Hopefully the fact that you reported the error right away is a point in your favor.

  5. Sunflower*

    Does anyone here work in legal marketing? I recently found out the turnover is pretty high in this industry and while I’ve read/heard many reasons why, I’m curious what people who work in it have to say. Hours, money, stress, lack of opportunities by staying at one firm?

    1. LNB*

      I had a good friend who is currently in legal marketing. She has pretty long hours and has to work overtime doing a lot of events. That may be reason for high turnover. I think something else worth mentioning is that marketing for a specific legal firm felt very niche for her and she is currently trying to break out of that.

    2. 2 Cents*

      I work at an ad agency, but we have two law firm clients. Both of their heads of marketing have been there for ages, and both always seem really stressed out — and kinda devoid of humor. I know these are generalizations, but I know they get hounded for everything from their attorneys.

    3. Fmr Law Firm Employee*

      Yes, all of the above. Plus, in many law firms, if you are not an attorney, you are a second class citizen. Looked down upon and not respected. There are obviously some firms that are not like this but many midlaw/biglaw firms are that way. It can be a rough place to be.

  6. bassclefchick*

    Hi, all! I had my big interview on Wednesday and I think it went well!! They gave me the questions just before they came to get me, which I really liked. The only odd question they asked was if I were hiring, who would I hire? well, um, I would hire me. Of course. But I didn’t think that was how I was “supposed” to answer, so I gave qualities that matche me. Not really sure what they were looking for with that question. Oh well. Should find out by the end of next week, I hope. Keep sending the good thoughts and thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      I would hire the person most qualified for the job. I’m hoping it’s me based upon…yada yada yada.

    2. Minion*

      I tend to joke when nervous, so I was asked in an interview once what my dream job was and I answered, “Well, this one, of course!”
      It was a panel interview and everyone laughed except for one woman who literally glared at me without blinking or smiling.
      Obviously, she was not impressed with my attempt at humor. I didn’t get that job. So, yeah…putting down that you’d hire you may not go over so well. Wise decision. Hope you get it. :)

    3. Development professional*

      I would take it as an opportunity to describe all the ways you’re qualified. “I’d hire someone with extensive experience in teapot design in both chocolate and porcelain formats.” And you just happen to meet those criteria!

    4. Elsajeni*

      What a weird question! I wonder if it was supposed to get at “how well do you understand the requirements of the position” — like, they don’t want someone who says “I would hire someone who’s an expert on hand-carving chocolate teapot spouts” when in fact their spouts are mass-produced using molds — but if so, it doesn’t seem like they did a very good job of it.

    5. JBeane*

      Congrats and good luck!

      I had a similar question during an interview this week. They asked, “If there was someone more qualified for this job, why would that person be more qualified?”

      That was a doozy!

  7. Gillian*

    Does anyone have interview tips for when you’re going for an internal interview and the hiring manager is your current boss? Obviously this would need to be a more formal thing than our weekly 1:1s, but I’m not sure how to prepare to talk myself up to someone who I already talk to almost every day.

    1. Pickles*

      Don’t assume they know you, your background, or what have done/are doing/can do/goals. That’s the biggest thing I see from internal candidates where I work. Our formal interview are so rigid that if candidates don’t mention the “obvious” (which may or may not be obvious), it can’t be counted – resumes are ranked separately, so even if it’s there, it doesn’t count for the interview portion. Stupid, I know, but I saw it backfire for someone once because he didn’t mention he’d been filling in for the vacant position for over a year, on the assumption that the panel was already aware. He talked about what he’d done, but never directly said he was doing it with the inherent trust of the boss already.

      1. Gillian*

        I’m hoping we’re not that rigid (not familiar with the internal hiring process), but that’s good to keep in mind. Thanks!

      2. Lily Rowan*

        My job isn’t that formal, so I kind of chuckled — but still appreciated it! — when an internal candidate expressed her interest in an email that opened “Dear Ms. Rowan.”

    2. onnellinen*

      In my experience, treat it as you would an external interview. Sometimes the interviewer (or HR, if they are also involved) will explicitly say “We will be making decisions based on the answers you give, please treat this as though we know nothing about you”. And good luck!

      1. some1*

        Being an AAM regular, this is what I did when I had to interview with my Boss’s boss went I went temp to perm. I emailed my boss, “I’m having an interview with [Managing Dir] and I was wondering if there’s anything you think he’d like to hear me touch on.” and he replied, “Just be yourself. [smiley face]” Turns out that it was a rubber stamp situation but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

    3. LQ*

      I just did this. I treated it as an external interview with a couple exceptions. I didn’t actually dress up more than I normally would. I almost exclusively used examples from that job. I have been here for a couple years so I had a range of things to talk about. I sort of acted like they knew the projects but not me. It helped me really sell myself better and not assume they knew how awesome I was.
      (I got the job–and my boss commented how good the interview went– so it must have worked. )

      1. Meg Murry*

        I would dress up slightly – either to “most formal dress ever required in this position” or “outfit that makes me feel extra confident and businesslike”, but not all the way to full suit if that isn’t normal wear in your office.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Try to prepare one or more talking points that you know your boss is not aware of. I know I can usually come up with something that I have never mentioned before, as it just did not come up in ordinary conversation.

    5. skyline*

      I think it depends a lot upon your internal culture. While I haven’t been in this exact situation, I have had interviews where my current boss was on the interview panel or where the hiring manager was someone to whom I’d previously reported. While I addressed my cover letter to them by first name (“Dear Jane,” since “Dear Ms. Smith” just felt ridiculous), I did pull out the full power suit for the interview. (We are a casual workplace, but many manager still dress in business attire, especially on days with significant meetings or interviews.) I still prepped by thinking of examples/stories to share in my responses. And if the hiring manager had given me positive feedback on a project in the past, I often tried to take advantage of that by using that project as one of my examples. (Not in a “you said I did this well” way but in a “this project is an example of me demonstrating X, Y, and Z skills”).

  8. J.B.*

    Sigh, just feeling stuck. Another interview leading to nothing – my odd little niche doesn’t translate when there are good people already doing the same job. At some point I’ll decide what I want to be when I grow up and maybe go back to school.

    1. Big Tom*

      That sucks, I’m sorry. I’ve been feeling stuck that way for like a year, and it keeps getting worse. I’ve gotten a few interviews, even some promising ones, but it always ends the same way. I hope it gets better for you.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Just as a self check: Don’t take that decision so seriously that you stop your own progress. Make your best guess at what is next and start researching now. If you don’t like what you are finding out, make another “best guess” and start researching that arena.

    3. Evie*

      I feel ya. I was at a loose ends and feeling very directionless a few years ago and looked into some further study as one option. I eventually went with the study – and a new job!- and the study was fantastic – interesting, relevant to my field, and eventually lead to my current, much more living condition friend position. Unfortunetly while it’s a great learning experience and has improved my skills and knowledge greatly, it’s not a full qualification. So while I should be happy that I’m at the end of it, and I’ve done better than I’d expected, and have got so much out of it, I need to start seriously considering which of several possible qualifications (different paths, different jobs, different amounts of hassle to get but still the same field- more or less) to get and then all the more specific details (which organisation, distance or in person, stay at current job while I do it etc). I hope you find something to inspire you and help you figure out the next step!

  9. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

    Happy Friday! I have a question about application/interview ethics here and would appreciate any feedback/opinions.
    Has anyone ever quit a job and rather than saying that to potential employers, instead said that they were laid off? I know that doesn’t sound very good but here’s my situation: I’ve been at CurrentJob for almost two years, job hunting seriously for about 6-7 months. As we all know, the job hunting process can take a million years, even longer if you’re in academia (which I am). However, in the past few months my department has become unbearably more toxic and stressful and my role just keeps changing for the worse due to a new boss that does not want to do anything, and I’m almost at the end of my rope. The only things keeping me from quitting are bills and the perception that I am a failure/quitter to potential employers. The university is state funded but I have the kind of role that is funded by the department (not full-time, unfortunately, although I am expected to do almost everything everyone else in my dept. does and in less time per week), so technically my job can be pulled at any time or at the end of the semester, for instance. So I was wondering if I were to quit, when employers ask why I left my current position, what if I just say that the dept. cut the role, rather than have to navigate that unpleasant question? Or is this straying too close to flat-out deceit? I’d love to hear from the hiring managers out there who have had to interview people in situations like these (not fired, but otherwise left their jobs). Would you rather hear that someone has been laid off due to budget cuts or would you rather hear why they quit?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It would be flat-out deceit, so don’t do it. Just tell them that the position could have been eliminated at any time, so you left to concentrate on job-hunting full-time, which you can decide to make the truth, because it’s all about your motivation.

    2. Kasia*

      Yeah you definitely shouldn’t lie….

      It might be better to explain it as you were going through some personal issues at the time that required you to leave your position but they’re all taken care of now. Or something of the sort.

      What if you lied and said you were laid off then they called HR and asked for employment verification and they said you quit. That’s just a bad idea

    3. Dasha*

      What if you just said you were looking for something more stable since the job is state funded and it could be a semester to semester thing? Don’t say anything about being laid off, since that is deceitful.

    4. Kenzie*

      I totally understand your position having worked in an unbearable job in the past!

      I think your best bet is to keep hanging in there while looking for another job and you will avoid this situation entirely. This would be especially important if you are looking for another academic job in the same area as CurrentJob, as you never know if they may find out the real reason you left from a friend/contact or a reference, and then you would be in a very sticky situation.

      Plus if you quit, all your worries about bills etc could become worse if your job search takes longer than you anticipate.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      No, don’t lie. I would just say you are looking for a more stable position – there’s nothing wrong with that and I don’t think anyone would think twice about it. You can say you left before you had another job lined up because the hours were long and you wanted to devote more time to finding a new one.

    6. Althea*

      If you told me your position was cut and I then reference checked at the university to be told you quit… I’d call that a lie and immediately plant a huge red flag on your application. That would tell me, “this person is willing to lie to avoid difficult conversations.” Not someone I’m going to hire, most likely.

    7. Solidus Pilcrow*

      In addition to the uncertainty, “my role just keeps changing” is an acceptable reason for leaving a position.

    8. Anon For This*

      This is probably a complete long shot, but is there any way you could get them to lay you off?

      My previous job turned into the job-from-hell and I was looking for a long time with no luck before I reached the point where I just had to get out of there. Thankfully, just as I was reaching my breaking point there was a cashflow crunch. So I approached my boss and told him that the stress of the job was affecting my health (didn’t bother to tell him I meant mental health), and pointed out that with the cashflow crunch it would benefit the company to not have to pay my salary, and how they could get along without me/someone in my position for a while until the cashflow cleared up. So I suggested to him that he lay me off. He agreed, and signed a letter (that I had prepared) to that effect.

      I realize I got incredibly lucky. I’ll also admit it was a small startup company, and my boss very well might not have really understood the distinction between “lay-off” and “quit”. Whereas you work for a large organization that I’m sure has an actual HR department who won’t fall for that, even if you could come up with an argument for why it would benefit them to lay you off. But it might be worth thinking on the idea to see if you could maybe make it work.

      My backup plan, if he didn’t agree to the lay-off, was to quit. But even then I had prepared my argument for constructive dismissal (which I wanted to be able to claim so that I could qualify for unemployment). I don’t know if your “toxic” environment is bad enough to cross the line into that territory. But if so, then maybe in future interviews it might be (slightly) better to say “it was a constructive dismissal situation” instead of “I quit”. (Or maybe not. I know a lot of interviewers might not understand what that means or even if they do they might push for details you’d rather not give. Or it just wouldn’t be any better of a response than admitting you quit. But again, something to consider.)

    9. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

      Thanks to everyone for your responses! I like a lot of the language left here.

  10. chem girl*

    I want to know if I shot myself in the foot :( I answered a job posting asking for the salary I was looking for and I answered (why I didn’t leave it blank I don’t know). But I think I low balled myself. Actually, I know I did, by about 10-15k. Howver, it was through a recruiter that I answered the salary question- not the company. I recently interviewed with them and am waiting to hear back (did not discuss salary). I need advice- should I say something to my recruiter? Or did I miss that boat? (I never negotiated salary before- first job.) I don’t have an offer yet/don’t know if I will be getting one.

    1. SweetTeapots*

      I recently applied for a position through a web form where current salary was a required field. I tried N/A, I tried typing why I didn’t respond. Nothing worked, just a number. So I rounded up to the nearest $5,000, but I was very unhappy to be forced to include it :/

      I wouldn’t stress about it too much until you receive an offer. If it’s lower than you want and lower than you feel you deserve you can explain that you’ve researched the industry standards more and feel more comfortable with XX.

      1. Althea*

        You can always enter the number “1” if you need to. Difficult for a computer, easy for a human to tell that’s just a way to put N/A. I typically feel pretty disgusted when required to name my current salary – it’s not anyone’s business, until all salaries are transparent.

        1. SweetTeapots*

          I wasn’t sure if just entering 1 would be off-putting to the company (can’t follow directions?). In the end I’m not too upset about it because I make slightly above average for the state I’m in and will only help to increase my wages in this position, if I get it, but I don’t agree with the method at all!

          1. Natalie*

            Meh, IMO any company that can’t figure out “1” is a way to get by the form is either too rigid or too stupid for my taste. (I appreciate that’s not an option for everyone, though.)

      2. chem girl*

        PHEW. thank you. I was seriously stressing about this, haha. I’ve applied to places where they force you to include it – I hate that too! This was me being dumb though; it was an essay-like form. :/

        I went on an interview the other day for a different company and they asked me what I was looking for. I answered and they responded, “We don’t have a salary yet for this position; we wanted your answer.” >:(

    2. Sunflower*

      I think if it’s an external recruiter, you have more leeway to go back and say you changed your salary requirements than if it was internal or a hiring manager. I would email the recruiter and say ‘After hearing about the company and job requirements, I’ve determined my salary requirements are actually X. Please let me know we should continue with the interview process.’

      Whether to email the recruiter now or wait til they contact you for a second interview is up to you. I could argue both sides so whichever one you’d feel more comfortable with.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I’ve actually had recruiters try to talk me into accepting a lower salary. I think it’s the same principle described in “Freakonomics” where real estate brokers push sellers to accept lower offers rather than keep the house on the market for a better offer — the recruiter makes more money by locking you down, even at a lower salary, and moving on to her next opening than by losing time on negotiations.

    3. Solidus Pilcrow*

      This is a dilemma isn’t it? Put in your desired salary and you may price yourself out of the running. Put in the low end of the salary you can live on and you may lock yourself into low pay.

      As for your situation, the negotiation of salary is between you and the employer. The recruiter can be left out of it once you accept the offer (if the recruiter’s commission is based on your salary the employer will take care of that end).

      However, if you are still going to continue work with the recruiter, then I think you can go back to the recruiter and ask if the amount you entered can be changed. Being the recruiter’s system, they’re probably using salary range as a preliminary filter. Ask them if they’re likely to filter you out of positions based on the number entered. Who knows, maybe entering a higher number will reduce the number of hits.

    4. Ops Analyst*

      How about something like “My original salary figure was based on the limited information provided in the job description, but now that I know more about the position and the kinds of responsibilities I would have, I’d like to revisit the discussion.”

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

    I’m quitting the board I’m on today! I can’t wait. It’s long overdue. And I have no doubts or regrets about it at all. 3 pm can’t get here soon enough.

    1. K.*

      I quit a board too (I think I mentioned or asked about quitting here once) and I didn’t regret quitting for a second even though I wasn’t on very long. When I talk about it now, I talk about listening to my gut. (The president was … difficult and a lot of people quit.) Congrats!

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

        Sounds familiar! I won’t regret quitting, only waiting. Honestly, I shouldn’t’ve said yes when they asked me to join in the first place. Oh well, at least I’ve made some friends from my time there.

    2. Christy*

      It was me! I quit. I said I’d stay for the next in person meeting and then I’m free! She tried to guilt me into staying but I had none of it.

  12. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    I spent last weekend digging through all of AAM’s cover letter advice and examples and I still feel useless trying to write one. I know why I want the job, I know I’m enthusiastic, and I feel strongly that I’m at least worth interviewing but when I try to write a cover letter it’s like I’m too far inside my own head and I know I’m coming off stilted and stuffy. I know I’ve presented myself adequately at least once before because I got my current job but I just can’t seem to get my desire for this new position to translate to the page

    1. kpee*

      When I’m really stuck in my head, I often imagine writing the letter as though I’m writing it on behalf of my best friend, but plug in my own skills/experience. It really helps to take the focus off of myself — I even picture her in a cute office outfit while I’m writing and for some reason it makes me feel excited to help her out, which makes writing feel fun instead of scary.

    2. AFT123*

      Maybe experiment with recording yourself just saying how you feel, and then transcribe it and see if you can work from that?

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Can you write an email to a friend talking about why you’re so excited for the job? I’ve done that a couple of times and then formalized it a bit for the real letter. Something about the personal connection and more relaxed tone makes it easier for me.

      1. themmases*

        This is really good advice. I think I read something similar here once, about what you would say to a friend if you were trying to tell them how excited you are for this opening and why they should totally hire you. I try to picture myself on wine night, really saying what I think to a close friend, for the first draft and then clean it up.

        It has also been helpful because if I can’t do it, it indicates the opening is not really that exciting to me. I might still apply depending on the situation, but that tells me how invested to get.

      2. Elsajeni*

        I’ve said it before, but Email To Mom/Grandma is my target tone for cover letters. (I learned this a couple of years ago, when I actually did email my mom about a cool job I had found, and told her all about how exciting it was and what a great fit it seemed like, and then spent a paragraph complaining about how hard it was to write a cover letter, and she wrote back “Uh, duh, tell them what you told me?”)

    4. Anx*

      Sometimes I try to talk about a job to a friend, but online. This sounds really corny, but I’ll talk to my boyfriend while we’re both home about why I’d be great for it or why it’d be great for me. I’m better with written words, but I like the option to talk it out, too.

      Then I look over my chat history for ideas to start building it.

      I love the AAM advice on cover letters, but I actually really don’t connect at all with the examples on this site. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot, but I just can’t write that way and it would give me so much more anxiety about the process. My natural speech is a little stuffy, and I’m trying to work on that, but I’m also trying to be authentic.

      1. mander*

        I have the same problem! For me I think it’s my academic background, but I just don’t feel comfortable writing anything with a “chatty” tone. FWIW I do use a lot of ten-dollar words in everyday conversation, so it’s not a complete disconnect.

        Oddly I’ve just noticed how much more informal I am here, though. Perhaps try writing it as if you were responding to comments or a blog post?

    5. Althea*

      Try having a conversation with someone and translate what you say out loud to the CL. The person would need to ask some questions, like “What attracted you to this particular job and company (as opposed to some other job and company)?” “What are your best skills that match with what they talk about needing in the job description?” “Tell me some anecdotes about times you used those skills.” “What are some things that look weird on your resume that you can explain up front?”

      Once you say them out loud, just think back to the conversation and write down the things you said. Then clean up the language and shorten it.

    6. Nashira*

      Do you have someone with whom you can discuss why you want the job and would rock it? I use my husband – we talk about it, and he helps me get excited, then I write down what I said and adjust it to letter format. It helps letters sound a little more conversational, and helps me match an employer’s tone better.

  13. Folklorist*

    Anti-procrastination post!!! Last week, someone posted about being stuck in a procrastination loop, and I was feeling the same way….so I proposed that we all go do something we had been putting off, and report back to brag about it. It helped!

    So–go do something you’ve been avoiding: phone calls, emails, awkward conversations–and report back when you’re done!

    1. Hlyssande*

      Yesterday I finally finished granting access to our application to existing users for the new groups that went live in it (with very low volume) last week. AND I’m back to working on my front end admin manual for said application (starting with definitions of everything). I’ve been putting that off for months.

      I also finally called my cat boarder yesterday to inquire about her availability over the holidays, does that count? :)

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Thank you, I needed to read this. I’ve been procrastinating on a bunch of non-work related stuff and I will make myself do something productive this weekend.

    3. Melpo*

      Thanks! I finally wrote up the report from my annual reviews that has been sitting on my desk forever.

    4. Avery*

      I called the doctor’s office to figure out what’s going on with our insurance, and why they aren’t paying.

    5. Natalie*

      Oh, I have a couple! I submitted resumes to a few staffing agencies I had contacted weeks ago, and I spent *ages* on the phone with a certain giant telecom attempting to identify an account that had gone into collections.

      Both, incidentally, I did while taking a 60% sick/40% WFH day. I really, really don’t like my job, I guess – I’m more productive at home than I am at the office.

    6. CheeryO*

      Funny, I did this right after lunch today before I read the open thread. I’ve been avoiding making a phone call all freaking week for no good reason. I did it, left a message, it was fine, and I feel approximately 10000% better now that it’s off my to-do list.

    7. Folklorist*

      I FINALLY transcribed two interviews that I had been putting off. Now to keep on the roll and get through four more and finishing the dang article. I think there might be a lot of work this weekend…but I’ve already scheduled a celebratory massage for the end of this project!

    8. Folklorist*

      Also, great job everyone! Keep it up! It always amazes me how those little things block us and how getting them out of the way–FINALLY–lifts what’s weighing us down/holding us back.

    9. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I processed a stack of paperwork. I’d been pushing all the hard stuff to the bottom of the pile, and pretty soon the whole pile was the leftover hard stuff that I didn’t want to do. I made myself do each piece when I came to it (no more shuffling anything to the bottom), and the knowledge that I *had* to deal with it made it easier to decide upon a course of action.

  14. Charlotte Gray*

    I am thinking about leaving my job in the next 6-9 months and am wondering how to screen out workplaces that are full of oversharers. I like that people are friendly here, but I do not need to know about how frequently any of my coworkers use the bathroom (said in a braggy way to boot!). I’m probably changing fields anyway (every job I’ve had in this field has been pretty casual, relationship-wise, in the office), so maybe that will help, but are there questions I can ask in the interview stages to find out what the level of public sharing is? I’m not looking to be BFFs with my colleagues, just to have great working relationships. Thanks!

    1. Dasha*

      When you ask about the company culture really listen, do they say everyone’s like a family or that it’s a professional environment?

      1. K.*

        I posted here a couple of Fridays ago wondering if I should opt out of consideration for a job for which I’d interviewed. (I did opt out.) One of the big red flags was getting the “We’re a family!” answer to my question about company culture. Apparently there was a person who was “like the company mom, she can drive you nuts” which is code for “she’s going to be all up in your business,” which doesn’t work for me. I definitely agree that if you want a working environment that draws professional boundaries (like I do), “We’re family!” is a sign that you should go the other way. My family is my family; my colleagues are my colleagues.

        1. Charlotte Gray*

          Ooh thanks! That would have been a no-go for me too. Good job figuring that out before you were offered the job.

          1. K.*

            Thank you! I was miserable in my last role because the culture and I just weren’t a match (and there were a number of changes over my time there that made things worse for me, not better), so I’m paying particular attention to it in my search now.

        2. A.J.*

          Ugh. I’m actually getting the same exact vibe from the company that just extended me an offer. The head of HR who was in charge of my hiring process sounds just like the company mom– she knows every little detail of every person in the 150+ person office, and she wasn’t afraid to share that info with me (including several detailed stories about the people I was interviewing with). And it creeped me out big time. I also posted last week about how she kept patting me on the back and shoulder several times, and then asked me a bunch of personal questions (like about my relationship status, living situation, etc.). She was also texting updates on my status to my personal phone. If I could be sure that I’d never deal with her, then I’d take the job. I actually once thought it would be my dream company, because the stuff they work on is super awesome. Between this horrifying unprofessional behavior and the 1 hr commute… I’m definitely considering turning the job down.

    2. Sadsack*

      I think I’d be listening for remarks about it being like a family or close-knit, for one thing. You could then ask in what ways. Go from there.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Haha, I could have written this question! I know waaaay too much about my coworkers’ lives.

    4. Merry and Bright*

      My current job is OK but at one place I worked there were two coworkers who were serious oversharers. I knew things about their families that I didn’t know about my own.

  15. Anonasaurus Rex*

    My husband is hosting a bar night tonight to celebrate a big promotion. This is a huge deal for him, and I couldn’t be prouder. However, I’ve been dealing with some pretty crippling depression the past couple of months, and today is especially bad. I’m weepy and weird. Not going to the bar night really isn’t an option. It would hurt him and it wouldn’t look good. All of his coworkers will be there, none of whom I know well. Anyone been in a similar situation? Any tips on how to hold it together for a couple of hours?

    1. Bekx*

      Fake it until you make it.

      I know that doesn’t really help, per se, but you have to just do it. There’s no magical cure. If there’s something you can focus on to look forward to (besides the night ending) that sometimes works for me. Things like “Oh, I’ll get to have those delicious sweet potato fries when I go!” or “Maybe the red lipstick I just bought will be perfect to wear.” are all little moments that can boost you up.

      Good luck.

    2. Dasha*

      Oh that’s tough, would it be easier if you showed up a bit late? (Just throwing out ideas) If it wouldn’t seem rude, maybe by then everyone will have a few drinks, it will be further into the night, and you wouldn’t have to stay as long?

      If you’re feeling weepy, keep a glass of cold water with you! I think we’ve discussed it on another post before but it helps with the crying reflex – so does pressing on the sides of your nose (maybe google this, I can’t remember the exact instructions).

      Could you try taking a bubble bath or nice hot shower beforehand? Sometimes that soothes my mood.

      Good luck, tonight- wishing you the best!

      1. June*

        Wait, what I do with the cold water? My crying reflex has been working overtime too and I need this help.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I like this cold water idea. Also, have tissues–if you overflow, you can always blow your nose and blame it on seasonal allergies (I do this one a lot and no one is the wiser).

        1. the_scientist*

          We’re also getting into cold and flu season, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, so if anyone mentions that you look tired/puffy-eyed, you could always mention that you feel like you’re coming down with something. Also, take care of yourself-do something that you really want to do as a reward for making it through the evening, even if that something is spending all day Saturday in bed with a book.

          1. Solidus Pilcrow*

            Bonus that people will probably keep their distance when you tell them you think you’re coming down with something.

            Migraines can also be a good excuse to be “weepy and weird” and provide a reason if you need to retreat a bit or leave early.

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          I would claim a cold. It offers an explanation for watery eyes, exhaustion, and going home early “to drink some tea and go to bed.”

    3. Sunflower*

      Agree to fake it til you make it and just tell the group you’re feeling under the weather and allergies are acting up (if you’re getting teary). I’m not sure what/if you have any methods that help you cope with your depression but if you do, do them today and esp before you leave. For me, concentrated deep breaths help when I feel myself starting to get riled up and start crying. Also dancing in my living room alone can help lift my mood a bit.

      1. setsuko*

        yep – I always go with the allergies acting up excuse. If they ask what you are allergic to, just say that you have never been able to figure that one out.

        1. gg*

          I helps that it’s actually true for me. But if I need to fake “allergies” to cover up tears, and I’m in a public space, my go to answer is, “Oh, it must be all the different perfumes/colognes in here.”

        2. Shannon*

          “Pollen.” For some reason, that works no matter what season it is, except the dead of winter. I’m also very lucky that I live in an area where it can be 80 one day and 40 the next, so, “All of this crazy weather is just driving my allergies nuts,” is also a valid excuse.

          1. Merry and Bright*

            Same here. In winter I go for fog and/or traffic pollution and they can affect me so it isn’t untrue.

    4. asl*

      I’m sorry to hear that – and I know how sucky it can be when depression hits and you have to put on a happy face or risk feeling like you’re disappointing loved ones. Is this something your husband is aware of? If so, can you talk with him and say that you are so proud and would love to support him, but only have it in you to be social for an hour / 20 minutes / one drink?

      Either way, when I’m not up for socializing but have to, I find it useful to give myself a task – at a bar it’s hard to help the host, or do dishes or something like that, but you could give yourself a task like “get an update from x number of people about their life”, or “by 10pm, have 3 conversations with different people” or even “only hide in the bathroom twice the whole night”. I’m also a fan of going for walks outside or finding a buddy who also looks like they’d rather not be there. Good luck.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          As someone who’s not the best at making small talk, parties where there’s something going on — cards, boardgames — are way easier for me than the standard standing-around-with-a-drink-in-hand (especially because I drive everywhere).

          If there is something you can do to make yourself useful, it gives you a focus, reason to be there and something to talk about. One of the best parties I ever went to at OldJob was one where I volunteered to run the drinks ticket table for a fundraising event. I wound up doing it for most of the night. People came up to me, I knew what they wanted, it was simple to ask “how are you tonight? Having a good time?” kind of thing and the night flew by.

          So you could make it your mission to figure out who it is that works with your husband. Once you’ve asked what they do, how they like working at the company, you can ask “Husband sometimes talks about X, is he here tonight? Can you point him out to me?” But when people find out that you’re The Wife, they may be coming up to you anyway if they’re as happy as your husband is about the promotion, just to meet you and hear you say how proud you are. If there are pool tables there, play some games even if you suck at it or learn how to play darts or whatever. As someone who suffers from depression as well, sometimes getting out of my own head helps.

          I would also say that if you’re feeling weird and weepy today… can you just let it out? Are you working from home or something where you could have a good solid crying jag for an hour and try to get it out of your system? Take a walk around the block to calm down, have a nap?

    5. Daisy Steiner*

      Think of it as something you’re being paid to do, like a job. You don’t really want to do it, but it’s your job so you don’t really have a choice. Just do it.

      OR do this mental exercise: ask yourself “If someone told me that Brad Pitt-” or whichever celebrity you would love to meet “-was going to be there tonight, would I find a way to be there?”. Often just thinking about that gives me that little boost that I need to realise “Yes, I can do this.”

    6. Erin*

      I would recommend leaving early instead of coming late. I think it would be more noticeable to others if you’re late.

      Having an end time in mind helps me in situations like this. No matter what happens, I can walk out that door at X-o-clock. Just make sure your husband is on board with whatever your plan is.

      Mention to a few people you need to leave early: “Hi, I’m Jane, Eric’s wife. I just wanted to introduce myself while I had the chance, I have to duck out early in a little bit.” If someone asks, just say you have other plans that evening OR blame it on your kids if applicable! That’s always a great go-to.

      Other than leaving early, is there anything you can do that would make yourself more comfortable?

      Take anxiety medication beforehand (if you’re prescribed/it’s safe/you won’t be too loopy/etc)? Bring a wingwoman with you so you have someone by your side while the husband is schmoozing? Step out with the smokers every little bit, just to get away for a second? Listen to relaxing music on the way there? Do yoga beforehand?

      If there’s anything you can do that will make you feel a little calmer and at ease try to make it happen.

      Good luck. Sometimes these things aren’t as bad as you think they’ll be. Maybe you’ll hit it off with one of the other wives and end up having a decent time.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t drink any alcohol. That might taste or feel good for a moment, but the come-down can be rough. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t even have to be drunk for that to happen. (And I like my cocktails, so I try to diminish the after-effects, but… avoid it if you can.) If anyone asks, you’re just not feeling drinky, or you’re cutting back in preparation for the holiday season.

      Remind yourself that the evening will be over eventually. All events end! Even if you’re slogging through, it won’t be an endless slog.

      Are you in a position where you can cut out early? Driving yourself or walking or taking public transportation? Because you can put in a good two hours or so and then leave your husband to the co-worker accolades and shop talk. I have actually done this– left an event early and, as I was saying goodbye, said to people, “I’m going to head out now and let Hubby bask in your congratulations without me– you can all talk shop now!” Steel yourself so you can say this with a laugh and a smile.

      Can you invite a friend? Someone your husband also likes?

      Good luck! I have been there, and it’s HARD.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Don’t drink any alcohol. That might taste or feel good for a moment, but the come-down can be rough. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t even have to be drunk for that to happen.

        Alcohol is a depressant. So if you’re already depressed or tend towards that, it’s not going to help, it’ll just make you feel worse.

        I agree with Erin, leave early if you can come up with a plausible excuse. If you have to be your husband’s ride home, there’s got to be some way you can get out and come back later to get him.

        1. Shannon*

          Depends. When I was depressed, I drank a lot, because it made me feel good in the moment. Afterwords, yes, I was extra depressed.

    8. Also depressed*

      As someone who’s been depressed for longer than I can remember, I can definitely relate! My partner is a musician so I often go to shows at bars when I’m not really feeling up to it. My advice: a) if you can avoid it, don’t drink alcohol, or get one beer or cider and nurse it over the whole night. b) take two modes of transportation there, so that you can beg off early if you get overwhelmed- just say you’re tired and have to do something in the morning!

      1. april ludgate*

        And if it’s the type of culture where it would seem out of place not to be drinking and you don’t feel like explaining why you’re abstaining (although you can always say you have to drive home, or that you’re a bit of a lightweight, or both) you can order something from the bar that looks like a cocktail but actually isn’t, like a virgin shirley temple or tonic water with a slice of lime. No one will notice the difference.

    9. LCL*

      What works for me in the short term is doing a very hard workout, to the point of exhaustion, a couple of hours before the event. Endorphins and all that. I’m not trying to minimize depression, I know it is much more serious than a workout will fix, but physical activity always helps me as a short term coping mechanism.

    10. Brett*

      Been through some similar situations while I had severe depression.

      Don’t drink alcohol or drink very lightly (bottled beer is good for that, because you can sip on one beer for a long time, just leave about an inch in the bottom and do not really drink it).

      Think ahead of time of questions you would ask random coworkers. You do not need many, but when you end up in conversations you can hold up your entire side of the conversation by just asking questions. If you are in a group of four or more, you don’t have to talk at all, just look at the person talking as they talk. Conversation can be extremely hard when dealing with depression and creating some easy to follow structure can help. I tended to be super chatty when I was depressed, so I used the questions to keep me from talking non-stop and boring someone.

      If you are otherwise an extrovert, use the energy of the room to keep yourself up. Focus on music, dancing if people are dancing, etc. Remember to limit drinking.
      If you are otherwise an introvert, most of the above are already introvert strategies, but make sure you have a spot in the room to retreat too. A specific table that is filled in some way (like with everyone’s jackets on the seats) is good. If there are TVs in the bar, staring at a TV can be a good escape and recharge activity.

    11. LQ*

      I try to prepare 1-2 things to say and practice them. “Puppy did the cutest thing!…30 seconds done…”
      And then I’d have my standard questions ready, “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you what have you been up to?” (whatever opens the door for them to talk)

      I also have a reward waiting at home. And I try to play a kind of internal bingo. Initiate one conversation. Have my phone set to buzz once a minute and use that pocket vibration to remember to plaster a smile on.

      This might sound weird, but personally I stick to one drink or less when I’m really depressed or having serious panic issues. It lets me maintain a much tighter self control.

    12. Harriet Vane Wimsey*

      Old hospice trick if you think you are going to cry- raise your eyeballs up to the ceiling as far as you can. (Like an UP eyeroll, not a side eyeroll.) Used to miraculously stop the tears from flowing.

    13. themmases*

      Avoiding events is a really common impulse when you’re depressed. It can help a lot to do things that you enjoy that will give you some energy and positive reinforcement.

      On the day of, it can help to bolster yourself with good things or even things that will just make you feel physically different and reset things a bit. The ones that work great on me are: going for a 10-minute walk or run (even if it is just getting off the bus sooner/parking farther away), deep breathing, cold water. You can splash cold water on your face or, if you’re wearing makeup you don’t want to ruin, run it over the insides of your wrists. Be kind to yourself during the day by picking easy, Friday-type work, getting your favorite coffee treat, or doing some other little thing that you like.

      During the event, focus on the parts of it that you like. Gravitate towards the friends you like best and the people you remember that you know you can make feel welcome. Make sure you get your favorite thing this place serves. If a particular conversation feels hard for some reason, you’re the host– give yourself permission to excuse yourself in the name of making the rounds. If there’s a particular part of the evening that is most important to your partner, focus on that and forgive yourself for only being at 70% for the other stuff. People at a party are drinking, talking to a bunch of different people coming and going, and generally not focused on your behavior and affect.

      Promise yourself something special for after the party or the next morning. It can help you remember that this thing is really temporary if you have something specific to look forward to, rather than a general “is it over yet” feeling.

    14. beachlover*

      I suffer from chronic depression, and have been had some very bad episodes in the past. But, I have found that sometimes just being around people having a good time, does give me a lift for a small period of time. Have you spoken with your husband? I would explain to him that you are game to try, but if you are feeling overwhelmed you many have to leave early.

    15. Anonasaurus Rex*

      Wow. Thank you for some many great little tricks and suggestions! I am trying the ice-cold water thing as I type (usually a tea drinker) , and it’s actually working. Here’s my game plan: 1. ugly cry in the car on the way home from work to get it out. 2. take a bath, and quick workout if there’s time. 3. go to the thing, get some sort of fruity, frothy, frozen monstrosity and ask for it not too strong, along with a glass of water. Bring tissues to claim allergies if needed. Sip the adult milkshake thing all night very slowly. 4. Ask people lots of questions to keep them talking, without having to talk much. 5. If there are games or darts, play that, because less talking/outward focus.

      Thank you everyone, not only for the suggestions, but for not making me feel like some sort of ungrateful misanthropic parade-raining monster of a spouse for asking :) I feel like I can handle it now, and I’m rewarding myself with a book, coffee, and my bed all day tomorrow.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good idea, about purging some tears before the event. I know if I tell myself not to cry, I cry harder. So instead of telling youself not to cry, tell yourself you can curl up in comfy clothes in a comfy spot and cry at home once the event is over. I have actually had this one work for me when dealing with grief/sadnesses. Key part: Keep your promise that you make to yourself. Whatever you end up promising yourself you can do, make sure you actually do it after the event is over.

    16. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Everyone here has good advice, nothing to add except that I hope you feel better soon! Hopefully your husband is understanding and won’t mind you ducking out early.

    17. Artemesia*

      Tough one. Can you create a mission for yourself. For example, are there colleagues of his who are shy or often a bit left out and you could commit to chatting them up and making them feel included? Or is there someone who has done something that interest you e.g. a world traveler and you could decide to glean as much information as possible about traveling to Mongolia or Paris? I find difficult social situations are easier if I have an agenda and work that agenda which forces me to not sit in a corner and suck my thumb, or in your case, weep softly. It is hard when you feel blue — but plotting out WHAT you will do in support of your husband’s big night might help.

  16. Dasha*

    Those who work from home full time, do you love it or does it start to drive you crazy after a while? I’ve only worked from home a few days here and there but I’m interested to hear full time WFH experiences. Also, do you think you save time and money by working from home? Is it pretty substantial?

    1. Gillian*

      I don’t work at home full time, but my husband does. We’re saving a lot on gas and wear on his car, but our electricity bills have gone up – especially in the summer when we were running the a/c all day instead of programming it to turn on right before we got home. I’ve noticed that since he’s not around people much anymore that as soon as I walk in the door he’s got a lot to say and is more in need of human interaction than he used to be – with many people I think this could probably be solved with doing some work from home from a coffee shop, but his security settings on the network make that more difficult than it’s worth for him usually.

      1. MA in OH*

        I’ve been working from home since graduating with my master’s in May while job searching (I’m incredibly lucky, I was able to work long distance in the job I held before I went back to school) but honestly I hate it. It makes me hate being at our home that I love, it makes me far more jealous of my husband who now has a job outside the home and gets to interact with people every day, and it makes me very very testy with our dog. I have a separate office and I try to keep my work solely in that room, but the feeling just bleeds into the entire atmosphere of our home. I think it completely depends on your personality, but I am very much looking forward to a change in my employment circumstances.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        I can never get my VPN to work worth a damn on a coffee shop signal. I also find “room full of strangers” has the opposite effect on my stress levels than “coworkers to joke and vent to”. I can do maybe a day per week of WFH in the morning, then do a client visit or two in the afternoon. Any more than that I start feeling isolated.

    2. katamia*

      I was working from home before my current job, and I LOVED it. My current office is basically paradise (no dress code, can wear headphones, no meetings, nice coworkers), but I hate having to be there at a certain time. I hate how every little thing (it’s an absurdly quiet office, so I’m talking stuff like people walking quietly past me to get to the bathroom or the occasional chair squeak) breaks my concentration. I believe people here when they say that they work better in offices than they do at home, but, honestly, that hasn’t been my experience at all. I work so much better when I can control my environment.

      So yeah, once I’ve finished working my notice period here, I think I’m going to go back to working from home and trying to make that a more stable income. I’ve never mathed it out because in the past my WFH schedule varied from week to week, but I’ve done WFH in Los Angeles and the DC area (same job, they didn’t care if I moved), so I’m quite confident that I’ve saved both time and money by working from home. I’m also a lot more efficient when I’m working from home because my work is entirely deadline-driven and I can really maximize my efficiency by working when I’m at my best–I have some minor health issues (nothing that would be even close to covered by the ADA or anything) that make working 8+ hours straight through difficult, and by breaking up the work I’m more efficient and also feel like I do a much better job because I can more closely match my work times with my “on” times.

      That said, yeah, personal interaction is an issue sometimes. However, I have enough friends in enough time zones who are on IM that I can almost always find someone to chat with for a bit when I want some conversation. My need for social interaction is pretty low, so IM/social media/making my lazy dog pay attention to me is typically enough for me. If you’re strongly extraverted, that will probably be more of an issue for you than it is for me.

    3. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      I do a combo of WFH/in person at the office.

      WFH: It’s nice and quiet and I don’t have to spend money nor 1 hr commuting. Also, I can cook myself healthier lunches and I just got a pet fish so I don’t feel so alone at home. I also do at least 2-3 group activities a week to get out of the apt, or take a lunch break by walking to the local library.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I’ve been working from home for uh… way too long now. Not that it sucks, it doesn’t. Like Carmen, I don’t miss the one hour commute one way (if I was lucky), office politics etc. As someone posted last weekend about working in their PJs, yes, it’s awesome to not have to worry about clothes/hair/makeup. But unlike Carmen, I did not for the longest time add group activities or try to find ways to get out of the house. I didn’t realise that I was missing human interaction that much because I write e-mails, I talk on the phone, I work onsite with people… but I have been missing it.

        One of the weird things about working from home has been with my car. Because I make myself too available, and I plan my errands/shopping so I do it all in one go, I don’t drive as much as other people. This causes a problem in the winter with my car’s battery running down, so that I have to plug it in to keep it charged. It seems newer cars are designed to need to be driven at least every other day (or every third day) and cannot sit as long as my last car could. I have a wide selection of various battery rechargers/trickle chargers that I have tried over the years. I know it’s not just me as I’ve had the conversation with the tow truck drivers about how this is a common thing, especially among seniors.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Parasitic loads. Cars have more and more things that are on, even though the car is off. These things suck the battery right down. A friend, whose opinion I trust, said that running a car at 50 mph for 20 minutes should bring a good battery right back up to fully charged. I have found that reference point handy.

          In the dead of winter, when I try to start my car I make sure everything- radio/heat/lights/wipers – are off to give that poor battery a good chance to spin things over. It seems to help.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Yep. Before I turn the car off, I turn off the radio, fan, heat is on “cool” (which is also weird because apparently the A/C is always running, even when the button is not pushed). I’ve been told that doesn’t really matter but I do it anyway. The only thing that works is having it on a trickle charger whenever it’s parked in the garage.

    4. HappyWriter*

      I’ve worked from home full-time for about 4 years. I personally love it, but it does have some drawbacks to be aware of. First, it can be very isolating. Most days I only have contact with others (clients, coworkers) via email, if that. So, as Gillian noted, I have a greater need for interaction when my husband gets home. I also make an effort to schedule lunch dates or even just get out to run errands during the day from time to time to break things up. Otherwise I can get a little stir crazy. It’s a similar thing when it comes to the weekends – I have to get out of the house for a while–unlike my husband, who would probably be pretty happy to chill on the couch.

      It’s also easy to get caught up working all hours of the day. My tips for avoiding that are to 1) set regular hours for yourself; 2) have a separate office you can close the door to and step away from at the end of the day; and 3) get up, get showered & dress and “go to work” each day–don’t start work in your PJs.

      In terms of savings, the biggest place I notice it is with gas. I fill up about 1/2 as much as I used to. I don’t know how much time I really save, because I’m now the one who handles all the “have to do during the day stuff” (like calling repair guys, taking the cars to the shop, etc.) since I have a lot more flexibility. But overall I love it and wouldn’t change a thing!

    5. AFT123*

      Both :)

      I’ve been full time WFH for about 2 years now, and I truly miss some aspects of being in an office – making new (local) friends, getting “ready” for the day, interesting scenery, physically being in a different space for work vs. home, etc. That being said, I do like WFH a lot, and I’ve found it’s become a “golden handcuffs” situation. I would LOVE a mixed bag of having an office to go to a few days a week. 2 would be perfect.

      Saving time and money – absolutely substantial. My husband is also WFH and he put 300 miles on his car last year, total. I only own leisure clothes right now. I’ve no doubt saves tons of money and time being WHF.

    6. Sammie*

      I’ve been WFH full time for about 5 months. The first few months were quite an adjustment. My big “aha” moment was when I figured out that listening to podcasts would make be feel less alone.

    7. Treena*

      My husband worked from home for 4+ years. We’d always had a spare bedroom for his office in the 3 places we’ve lived. Recently moved to a market where it’s actually cheaper to rent a separate office instead of having an extra bedroom, so he leaves the house now.

      The main thing he’s noticed is that he’s lost a ton of weight already in 3 months. When he was home, he could make any meals anytime, so he wouldn’t pack his lunch/snacks as he used to. This led to way more snacking than he realized. So now that he’s packing and bringing the food out of the house, he’s eating way less and not missing it at all. So for someone starting to work from home, I would prepare your work-day meals ahead of time, just like normal, and stick to that.

    8. Searching*

      I’ve been working from home full-time for over 10 years now. My company has really improved its technical support over time so the computer & phone set-ups are now equivalent to being in an office. In general I love it, but I have been going through some “hermit-like” periods where I don’t seem to leave the house for days and I have to shake myself out of it. Yes, it can be socially isolating. But I am an introvert, so I don’t need constant social stimulation to stay energized (it would actually exhaust me). I don’t miss the constant griping and gossip of some past office environments and actually have to be very patient when my husband brings home his office stories that fall into that category. But there is a danger of getting out of touch with what’s going on in the organization unless you make it a point to call colleagues on a regular basis to shoot the breeze.

      I do save time and money – no commute, no dry cleaning, fewer lunches out. When the kids were younger, I saved on after-school programs – they were old enough to entertain themselves and I was close enough to deal with anything that needed dealing with. A separate office or room that serves as dedicated work space is essential. I keep the thermostat low in the winter so I don’t heat the entire house when I’m just in my home office (one room) all day. Warm sweaters (and if it gets really cold, a space heater) keep me comfy (and your brain works better when it’s colder). My office is in the basement, so in the summer I stay pretty cool. When I started doing this, I tried to claim a deduction on our taxes for having part of our home dedicated to work, but the calculations didn’t really add up to any savings there.

      I love that logistics like deliveries and home service calls are a breeze to handle. I know it’s common advice to get showered and dressed just as if you were going to the office but I do often start work in my PJs – it’s nice to break away from the desk and do some of my thinking in the shower! I also have a minor health issue going on that makes me very thankful I work from home when it flares up.

      All in all I love working from home. I would definitely miss it if my next gig is in a more traditional work environment.

    9. The Other Dasha*

      – I typically never comment, however, every time your comments pop up I freak out because we have the same name, and that never happens. Nice to meet another Dasha!
      -I don’t work from home but currently live 0.3mi away from my workplace. It’s amazing on gas as I tend to fill up every 6 weeks average. I think the decreased commute definitely decreases the general wear and tear on your vehicle.

  17. SweetTeapots*

    How do you ask what the seniority level of a role is? I have ‘manager’ in my title, but I don’t manage anyone, and am interviewing for a job whose position is ‘specialist’. I feel like on a resume, this would possibly look like a step down? So I’d like to know what the expectation is but don’t know how to properly word my question-any suggestions?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I feel like titles don’t matter that much because they’re so different from company to company and industry to industry. And if you’re not managing people, that would come up during an interview anyway, I think.

    2. John*

      I would focus on the level of responsibility you will have, which is what will affect future employment opportunities. Will the new job represent a progression for you? If it clearly does, you should be able to craft your resume to reflect that.

    3. coyote_fan*

      In my opinion a specialist is someone who has the same responsibility as a manager, but without people.

    4. Ashley*

      I was just promoted from a “specialist” to a “manager” and I do not have anyone reporting to me under either title. So in my role (I’m in Marketing), the specialist is one step down from manager.

      1. Toriew*

        I also work in marketing where the usual progression of titles is Coordinator > Specialist > Manager, and am currently a ‘Senior Coordinator’. I manage a team of people! It’s funny how these things can vary. I’d advise just looking at the responsibilities and maybe also the number of years experience they are asking for.

  18. Hlyssande*

    It’s a good Friday so far. My supervisor brought us bagels from Brueggers this morning, AND the Caribou on the first floor has chai nog lattes (I am in so much trouble – easy access!).

    This morning’s conference call regarding global standardization in maintenance for a specific application I work with (allows people to have customer and vendor accounts created in the database) went much better than expected. The guy chosen to lead the team sometimes has a bit of an ego problem but it went very well and we got some great stuff done. I am pleased!

    Now if only I didn’t have to work Sundays for two go lives in less than a month, I’d be happy. I had to cancel my fun Halloween plans so I could be on and ready to go at 6:15 last Sunday. Note: I am not actually tech support. I’m one of three lead front end admins for this application so we do all the user-side smoke testing. On the plus side, my two backups are doing all of the testing in our last staging environment as a learning experience so I don’t have to be as involved.

    1. Bye Academia*

      I’m so jealous of your Caribou. I’m from the midwest, but I live on the east coast now and I miss it. Dunkin is a great addition to my coffee diet, but it’s not the same.

      1. Hlyssande*

        I’m a transplant to MN so discovering Caribou was a joy. My hometown in IL has a really great small chain owned by someone who I used to attend church with and Caribou is just as good.

        But holy crap this chai nog thing. I’m going to have to hold myself to a strict budget of one a week.

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I’m jealous of the Brueggers. The bagels in my city are mostly terrible – the west coast doesn’t seem to understand how to bagel. They just sell O-shaped rolls and think they’re bagels.

        1. Bye Academia*

          I’m spoiled by the east coast now, because that’s how I feel about Brueggers. I do like the sandwiches they make with their mediocre bagels, though.

      3. The Strand*

        Ditto on the Caribou. “Oh, she’s got to be in the Midwest,” saith I, when I read your missive. Sigh, sniff, sniff (wipes tear).
        The cafeteria here stocks Caribou roast for drip coffee, but it’s not the same.

      4. OriginalEmma*

        I’m the opposite. I’m in the Midwest now and can’t stand the strong, burnt coffee that Caribou has. I miss my Dunkin!

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Honestly, I have lived in Minnesota, I live in DunkinDonutsville now, but honestly for fast food chain coffee I’m all about the Newman’s Own at McDonald’s.

          But also, my favorite local coffee shops here all have New Harvest, which is a local roasting company that beats all the rest.

    2. Witty Nickname*

      I was so excited this week because Starbucks finally got eggnog! I’m an iced chai nog latte person, myself (not a hot drink drinker in general). This is my favorite time of year!

  19. bassclefchick*

    On a completely different topic – the largest (probably only) manufacturing plant just announced they will be closing this location by 2017 and moving operations to Chicago and Iowa. I temped there for a few years and I really liked it there. I feel bad for the employees because our city just can’t handle that big a flood to the labor force. Our mayor said that the city and the state will help retrain and replace them all, but he’s living in a dream world. Can’t happen. We’ll see what happens. No one who works there is really surprised by the closing (or shouldn’t be), but it’s still a sad, sad day.

    My hint for you – is anyone else hungry for a hot dog?

      1. bassclefchick*

        Yup, it’s really sad that a company that’s been here for over 100 years is now leaving. And the news stories have also been talking about how the local food banks and other charities are going to take a huge hit because all the volunteer work and donations from the company will go away too.

    1. June*

      I totally feel for your city, but as a Chicagoan I can tell you that this kind of economic boost is just what we need. Though hopefully money will be heading to people and public works, and not anyone’s pocket (yeah right).

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        I’m likewise torn between sympathy for the affected workers, happiness for my own city, and schadenfreude for all the awkward coughing that must be happening on the Tribune editorial board.

    2. My Hot Dog Has a First Name*

      So… yeah. Chicago also just got ConAgra who for some reason thinks that all its financial troubles will magically melt away by leaving a cheaper city like Omaha to move to a higher COL one like Chicago. Meaning, all the execs have mansions on the north shore. So, I feel ya. Lots of people getting pink slips out this way. But as a Chicagoland native, I’m glad for them. However, does Oscar Meyer know how loyal Chicagoans are to Vienna? No real Chicagoan is going to deign to eat an Oscar Meyer hot dog. I mean, come on.

      1. bassclefchick*

        Cute user name! And you’re totally correct about Vienna. Chicagoans are fiercely loyal! (I’m looking at you, Sears Tower and Marshall Field’s!)

    3. Kelly*

      It’s a big loss to the city. Oscar Meyer employed fewer people – down to around 1000 after a round of layoffs earlier in the year, but it will be a blow to charitable giving. My late uncle worked there for over 30 years before he retired around 15 years ago.

      1. Lo Flo*

        I worked there from 88-95. They moved our department to San Antonio with the other parent company’s subsidaries payroll and HR departments.

    4. Clever Name*

      Wow. ConAgra is leaving Omaha? That’s my hometown. What a blow. I agree, Omaha is such an affordable place. I’m sure there was some shady dealing to get them to leave.

      1. Clever Name*

        Just read they want to cut $200 million. I wonder how much their ceo and other executives get paid?

  20. eunice*

    The new temp addresses everyone as “love.”

    as in “Thank you, love.”

    How can I get her to stop!!!???

    1. TheIntern*

      Is she from the South? I’d say approach it as a workplace culture concern, maybe framing it as something that could be construed as sexual harassment, although that seems a bit harsh.

      1. T3k*

        I was thinking she’s British actually. They’re known to use “love” in this way, not the South. In the South, more common words are “hun” “miss” etc.

    2. LizB*

      Unless you’re her manager, I don’t think you can get her to stop doing it to everyone… but you could ask her to stop doing it to you, with something along the lines of “Hey, I really prefer not to be called by nicknames, could you please call me Eunice? Thank you!”

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        I think this is the best approach. If it is said nicely, it could really be doing her a favor. She might not realize how unprofessional it is.

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          I don’t find it unprofessional and it would not bother me to be called that. I think this is one of those office sterilization tactics where people go a bit to far.

          I prefer not to be called hun, therefore everyone must feel the same way and I do and I must stop this person from sexually harassing others!


          No. You prefer not to be called hun. That’s fine. Ask her to stop. She stops calling you hun. There is no problem with her calling others that.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Honestly, it depends how long she’ll be there. If it’s a short-term assignment, I’d just let it go. But I admit I’m someone who kind of likes it when people call me by an endearment, even at work.

    4. Mickey Q*

      I hate hate hate sweetie, honey, and young lady. I will cut anyone other than my husband who calls me this.

    5. misspiggy*

      We are in the Midlands of Britain, where men regularly call each other ‘love’ and ‘me duck’ at work. Magically makes the whole thing rather sweet when it’s equal-opportunity endearment.

    6. SophiaB*

      Is it possible she’s still learning everyone’s names and struggling a little bit? Could you help her with that at all?

      I’m not sure how, beyond making sure she’s been introduced to people. Maybe go out of your way if someone comes up to the desk to say ‘Oh, hi Wakeen, have you met Jane? She’s our new temp. Jane, Wakeen works with the Chocolate Teapots department.’

  21. TheIntern*

    Hi all, I am finishing my Master’s to graduate in April and am thinking I’ll start applying to jobs in the next month or so. I am in an internship 16 hrs/week until April. Completing the internship is required for my MSW so there is not much flexibility. How do I address this with employers? Do I put it in the cover letter? Or is it crazy to expect employers to consider a flex schedule while I work and intern?

    1. Reverend(ish)*

      Are you applying to jobs that require an MSW? If so the cover letter would be a good place. I had to complete an internship before starting my counseling residency, and they were flexible on start date because they understood the requirements for the degree. I can’t speak to the flex schedule since my internship was a mandatory 40 hr/week though.

      1. Reverend(ish)*

        Oh you can also list the internship as a contract position on the resume if you have a set end date. I had horrible luck job hunting until I realized designating my internship and residency as contract positions would eliminate the appearance of job hopping with the bonus of emphasizing working while in school.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          She should list it as an internship – yes include the dates, but every employer who she might have for an MSW will be looking for which internships were completed.

    2. SirTechSpec*

      I’d say most full-time jobs, and even some part-time jobs, aren’t really set up for you to have another job, particularly if your internship has to be done during business hours. I would make sure that end date is listed with that job on your resume, and probably mention in your cover letter that that will be your earliest start date. Since many hiring processes take a while anyway, that may not be a dealbreaker.

      However, if this is common in your field, people may be more accommodating. Are you looking to go into social work specifically?

    3. Sunshine Brite*

      Wait, are you looking for post-graduation jobs starting in a month or so? Because you won’t graduate and be eligible for jobs until April which is when the internship is done so there shouldn’t be a flex concern? Most MSW jobs require the degree completed and many require a temp license until all the documents can be submitted for the full license which can’t be obtained until after graduation – at least in my state.

      1. TheIntern*

        I am interested in macro level social work, not therapy/counseling so I technically do not have to have my license completed for these types of positions, ie. program director. Since it takes quite a long time to job search I’d like to start sooner especially given the smaller range of possibilities in macro level social work.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          That is interesting. A number of my social work friends need their non-clinical independent licenses for their macro work so I wouldn’t be surprised if you do come across that in job postings for people running programs.

          1. Sunshine Brite*

            That said, I would address your expected grad school end and discuss in detail the expectations at the interview since prospective employers would know you’re doing an internship.

  22. Student2*

    I’m a student, and I can’t seem to get an answer to this from my professors. Since I’m going to be graduating six months late (December 2016 instead of June 2016), I’ve decided to study abroad for my last semester. The deadline for applying to study abroad programs is in January, and I’ve narrowed my choices down to three or four programs in the UK and Ireland.

    I’ve fallen in love with the two smaller towns. They’re in rural areas, and reviews of their study abroad programs are stellar. However, I’ve also noted some excellent internship and part-time work opportunities in London (also a great program). Unfortunately, the transit fares from these rural areas to London are quite expensive, and I’d rather not spend all my savings on train passes (maybe any UK readers know of cheaper options?)

    I know that it’s not guaranteed for me to land one of these awesome internships, but I don’t know how to handle this. If I attend a rural program and apply for the internships, I’m worried they’ll dismiss me because of my location. If I attend the London program and don’t get any of the internships, I’m worried I’ll be upset that I missed out on one of my first-choice rural programs.

    Can I contact these organizations now to get more info about their internships and the chances of me landing a position with them? Can I ask them about location issues? They won’t be starting until next September, so I don’t want to seem over-eager or desperate.

    Just a side note: Since this will be my last semester of school, I would love to just stay in the UK or Ireland afterwards working or interning. I have already ironed out proper visas and whatnot to make that work, but I would have to land a job or internship at the latest January 1st of 2017.

      1. Student2*

        I’d be living in London and doing one of the internships and going to school (so everything would be close). But if I chose to study anywhere else, commuting to a London internship would be a hassle. It’s just that the London academic option is not my first choice.

    1. SirTechSpec*

      I would ask yourself about your priorities. Is it really important to you to work/intern during the time you’re abroad, or is it more important to get the most out of your academic experience? Based on the distance, I wouldn’t count on being able to do both. If getting a foot in the door in London is important to you, I’d try to study somewhere closer to London.

      Also, you can usually contact someone to ask for more details about a position, but “what are the chances of me getting it” is not usually something you know until you apply and either get an offer or don’t. You may have more luck asking in forums specific to the area (either geographical or field) you want to go to, and asking how these things tend to go – that might get you an idea of how highly competitive certain internships are, what commuting in that region is like, etc.

      1. Student2*

        Thanks for the tip – I definitely don’t want to send a whiny email asking whether or not I’ll get a position I haven’t even applied to! I didn’t think of going to forums.

    2. Elkay*

      If you’re willing to share the two rural areas people will probably be able to advise better. Commuting into London isn’t unheard of so I doubt it would rule you out (but they may lean towards students at London unis).

        1. Luna*

          Cork would involve a flight every day! Bangor is way far away as is York – if you’re that desperate to intern in London I’d say study there too. If not, start looking at internships nearer where you want to study. From York you’ve got easy accessibility to Leeds and Sheffield but they’re still quite a way away from the city. I personally would focus on the study and not the internship. But that’s just me. Also London is not the epicentre of the country- other cities are just as good.

          1. Student2*

            Thanks! I’ll take a look at opportunities in Leeds and Shefield. And yes, I figured Cork would be a long shot. I’m trying to figure out whether I really want to make work the focus of my study abroad or not…

            1. Luna*

              Sheffield is brilliant, I went to uni there and didn’t leave till I was made redundant. Leeds is great too. Wishing you luck whatever you decide to do!

            2. arvil*

              ah, i’m from Cork and studied there – not such a good commuting option for London yeah :) If you have any questions about living and studying there let me know! Seconding that Sheffield might be a good option to look at – sizeable city but much much more affordable than London.

              1. Student2*

                Cork is actually my first choice in terms of academics – I’d be able to get in a couple of extra classes, like Gaelic studies (which would be awesome). If you don’t mind, I do have questions! How is public transit within the city? Do people speak Irish on a daily basis, or is it more of an educational thing? And are people generally friendly to outsiders?

                1. arvil*

                  Well let me see… Public transport is adequate and fairly reliable – buses serve the surrounding suburbs, running until about 11 at night. Generally pretty affordable too. But the university campus is a 15m walk from the city centre and the whole city is very walkable. If you do look in to going there in more detail, living between the city centre and campus would probably be best rather than going further out to the suburbs. That way you would be able to walk everywhere you need on a daily basis, and just take buses for more out of the way day trips etc.
                  Irish is not spoken on a regular basis at all really – you would need to seek out groups at the university etc. So you won’t just be hearing it around the place, sorry :) It’s taught in schools but most people have a limited proficiency.
                  And yes, people are friendly! Wherever you go, a university setting is always good for meeting new people, but from my own experience of bringing American visitors to Cork they often remark on how welcoming people are.
                  Feel free to ask more questions if anything comes to mind!

                2. Student2*

                  Okay, good to know – I’ll be arranging my own housing. I’m sure I’ll have more specific questions come January (when I apply). Do you have a burner email I could send questions to? (If that’s okay – I promise I won’t bombard you with spam). Mine is justanotheroriginalusername (at) gmail.

                3. arvil*

                  can’t seem to reply directly to you below so this may show out of sequence, but I pinged you an email at the address you gave so you can get in touch if any questions crop up.

        2. mander*

          I don’t know about Bangor or Cork, but York is on the East Coast mainline and also happens to have non-stop service to London King’s Cross with Grand Central rail, which is almost always a heck of a lot cheaper than the other train companies. It’s still about two hours one way, though, so it’s not really practical for commuting each day.

          Check them out:

          There’s also the MegaBus, which I’ve heard can be really cheap, but it also takes forever.

          1. Luna*

            York is a minimum of two hours, but it’s really not a feasible commute for someone wanting to intern in London. I live 30 minutes from London on the train and that’s bad enough. The furthest I would go out of London by rail would be Oxford. Plus the rail fares would stack up – it’s not cheap. Megabus is mega cheap but mega crummy. You wouldn’t even be able to drive in every day because York is five hours away by road.

            1. Student2*

              Ugh, okay. I mean, it would only be a one or two day commitment each week. But that does sound rough.

        3. Elkay*

          I wouldn’t call York rural (I don’t know the other two areas) so I’d imagine that internships would be available around there too. Not commutable though.

          1. Student2*

            Yeah, rural is the wrong word. But they’re all much smaller than the city I live in here in the states (about three million).

        4. FiveWheels*

          Unless you have a private helicopter I’d say commuting from any of those places to London is impossible. The UK and Ireland are small compared to the USA but it would be impossible to make that work!

          Cork would open up another can of worms in terms of needing a Euro bank account and I don’t know how visas would work (assuming you don’t have EU citizenship). You might need separate papers for the UK and RoI.

          Also I’m not sure any of those places are “rural” by our standards ;-)

          1. Student2*

            Ha ha a private helicopter would come in handy. Yeah, visas will be a pain – it’s doable, just expensive.

      1. arvil*

        agree that sharing which rural areas you’re mentioning might allow others to advise better :) But as Elkay said, commuting into London isn’t unheard of – there’s a large commuter ‘belt’ around the city. I used to live a 45 minute train ride from the centre of london and most people in my city commuted in for work. Travelling in and out by train can be really expensive at peak times though and trains are really the only option if you’re further out.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          Ah, London commuting! Can’t afford to live near work (super expensive housing), can’t afford to work near home (super low wages).

    3. Tess McGill*

      I commuted into London from Hampshire (70 minutes on the train) for two years. A full time student is eligible for a railcard, saving 34% on all rail travel in the UK. Or, if not a full time student, you can get a 16-25 rail card (same savings). I’m curious to know which rural programs you are interested in … would love to share anything I know about the area (in case I’m familiar). You can also get a Student Oyster Photocard (for the Tube) saving 30%. You can also link your Student rail pass with your student Oyster card and save even more. I loved every minute of London! And every second of my time in England! Good luck!

      1. Student2*

        So how much did you end up spending a month on transportation? I would be a full-time student.

        Bangor is really the only rural option. Cork and York aren’t tiny, but they’re much smaller than what I’m used to here in the states.

        1. Tess McGill*

          Are you talking about Bangor in Wales? Bangor University? That’s not a commutable distance into London either. A five-day-a-week commute into London (from Hampshire) would run about £107 a week, traveling off-peak.

            1. fposte*

              And it’s like a 4-5 hour train ride, as I recall from my days there.

              Short version: you really can’t attend a program in York, Cork, or Bangor and work or intern in London, and it’s quite likely that it would rule you out of consideration if you applied.

              1. Mander*

                Unless you were planning to move to London for the duration of the internship, I’d have to agree.

      2. Tess McGill*

        Oh, just now seeing your three rural areas. Yes, York is not rural. It’s a lovely city. Commuting from York is not unheard of, but honestly, I wouldn’t sign up for that. No way. If you want the jobs in London, then you need to intern in London.

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      York is NOT rural.

      It has a pretty decent rep, although it’s expensive (it’s a beautiful city, full of cobbled streets, cute shops and old city walls, as well as The York Minster – like a cathedral but not).

      Bangor and Cork I don’t know anything about, but you’d have to stay near them I would think.

      To be honest, everything is so London-centric it is becoming a shortfall of the UK. A country based in 1 city is just asking for trouble.

      1. Student2*

        I guess that’s another question I have: would it make more sense (financially, culturally) to not settle in London? Is it kind of cliche for a US student to study there?

        1. FiveWheels*

          Nothing cliché about London, it’s a great city. It is however very expensive.

          It’s also hardly the only city in the UK. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham, Liverpool… Plenty of cities to choose from (though obviously many are smaller than your home city).

          1. Student2*

            Originally I had Glasgow and Belfast at the top of my list, but taking into account credit transfer and required courses, they are no longer options unfortunately.

      2. Luna*

        London-centric because this is where the money is and this is where the jobs are. There’s a lot of investment happening in the North though, but the sad fact is London is the place to be. I also do find myself wondering about the commitment to the investment in the North as well, being as everyone wants the North linked to London anyway. If I could find a job up in Sheffield I’d be back there in a heartbeat but London (well, near – we are based just outside) is my home and workplace for now. Because there are simply zero jobs in my field anywhere else in the country. Sucks :/

    5. fposte*

      On another note–it’s *extremely* difficult for a US citizen to acquire a visa to stay in the UK after studying there. Maybe you have a non-US citizenship that changes the process or are in a field where there are employers willing to get that done, but I would not expect to be able to do that.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t know the details, but I’d guess if so, not by a lot. Basically, you’ve got the whole EU in line in front of you.

            That doesn’t mean it never happens, but it’s something that requires strategy and a solid plan on the inside–it’s not strictly voluntary. And they will happily deport you or refuse entry to you–I know a few people who’ve had that happen.

            1. Student2*

              My mom is an Irish citizen (living in the US). Do you know if that would that make any difference? And I hate to ask, but how did deportation work?

              1. fposte*

                That could, if the laws I remember are still in force, make a *huge* difference. Check with an Irish consulate or embassy to see if you’re eligible for foreign-born Irish citizenship via your mother. I think you’ll have to actually get the citizenship, not just be eligible for it, for it to matter, but I’d do it in a heartbeat just for the heck of it. It would open up a world of EU opportunity.

                On deportation, mostly you get caught when doing something else involving officialdom, like a speeding ticket, and of course attempting reentry. If you’re overstaying a visa, no jaunts out of the country, even if it’s just a drive up to Belfast.

                1. FiveWheels*

                  There are no border controls between NI and RoI, in fact there isn’t even a marked border, so that is one trip you can make without papers.

                  If you are eligible for an Irish passport they are processed very quickly, too.

              2. Toriew*

                I’ve been researching this a lot lately because I’d also like to move from the US to the UK or Ireland. Since your mom is an Irish citizen, I believe you can apply for an Irish passport which would make you eligible to work anywhere in the EU! Aren’t you lucky? ;)

                1. Student2*

                  Gah, if I was eligible, I’m sure it would be a long process. Certainly not something that would get taken care of by next August.

                  Tough, tough… even after language and cultural similarities, it’s still hard to move from one country to another.

                2. Treena*

                  I can’t speak to the Irish process, but I did another country’s EU process for getting citizenship through my parent and it was so easy I was literally a citizen before I knew it. As in, walked into the office with the paperwork, and within 30 minutes the guy was congratulating me and I actually said, “Wait, that’s it?” The only thing that hung me up a bit was that I needed my parent’s marriage certificate, and that was a pain to dig up. Other than that, it was maybe 3 months? And that’s for the passport office, which is notorious for being slow. Citizenship was instant and I had a letter stating that same-day.

                  So, if it were me, I would go for the Irish citizenship, study in the smaller places and then the next semester intern wherever you want. Studying abroad in a big city is great, but the experience is wildly different, and many ways better, in a smaller place where it’s easier to integrate. Plus, internships in a smaller city tend to give you more responsibility, since there aren’t droves of them.

              3. QA Lady*

                You should see if that makes you eligible for citizenship. I have a friend who applied for Scottish citizenship by way of having a Scottish father (living in Canada) and now lives permanently in mainland Europe.

        1. misspiggy*

          I think the key thing may be to decide what you want to do afterwards, and research where the best connections for doing that would be of your potential locations. We can help with some of that information if you’re willing to share your field?

          1. Student2*

            Yeah, I’m studying marketing/graphic design (and art history). Ideally I’d be working as a graphic designer in advertising, but I’m flexible.

    6. Wisteria*

      I come from near Bangor. It’s definitely not near to London, either geographically or culturally. To my knowledge there is only one train line for the North Wales coast – the journey is beautiful but takes forever as it stops literally everywhere. Not a viable commute. I’d say your only real option as a big city for internships around there would be Liverpool. It’s also worth remembering that North Wales is hugely different to the South of England. A lot of people I know from that area have rarely even visited London. If you manage the commute, you may struggle more with people understanding your lifestyle.

      1. Student2*

        Okay good to know. I think I’ve figured out that there’s no point in pursuing London-based positions if I’m studying outside London. I like Bangor because it’s small, so it would be something completely new to me. And I’m assuming the difference between Wales and England is like the difference of any two counties.

        1. FiveWheels*

          The difference between Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England is much like the difference between different states. There are also differences within – eg inner city Sheffield isn’t too different from inner city Glasgow, but the extreme Highlands of Scotland are very different.

          The Republic of Ireland is like a very similar place with funny money… So Canada perhaps? And again, culturally, it’s different from the UK in many ways but similar in others, and Cork will have more resemblance to Cardiff than either do to Craggy Island.

          1. Student2*

            Funny money, ha ha. I can’t wait to get over there and check out the differences. It sounds great on paper, but I’m sure I won’t really know until I experience it myself.

  23. Lily in NYC*

    We have a whiteboard outside our dept. where people will sometimes write a random quote or a “this day in history” factoid. I came in this morning and this was written in big letters: MY PEE SMELLS LIKE HAM. I couldn’t decide if I should leave it or erase it. So of course I left it because it made me laugh and it’s still there and I don’t think anyone else has noticed it yet.

  24. LizB*

    I got a job offer on Wednesday! \o/ I’m so excited. This job has better hours, less intense work, great benefits, and pays $5k more than I was making at my previous job. I’m supposed to start on Monday, but I’m waiting on a call or email from my manager with details of where and when to report… I think I’ll give him a call if I haven’t heard from him by noon today. That would be reasonable, right?

    1. Winter is Coming*

      Yes, I think so…it’s Friday, so you run the risk of missing him completely if he decides to cut out early for the weekend. I would call him now if I were you.

      1. LizB*

        I called and left a voicemail. :/ I really hope I hear back… he’s very new to the organization, and seems a little bit disorganized, but I don’t think it’ll be a problem once I start work. Of course, I need to connect with him so I CAN start work…

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      First: yay!!

      Second: yeah, if there are multiple locations and shifts, sure, otherwise it wouldn’t be unreasonable to go to the front desk and ask for [manager] at 8:45am if you don’t have any other information.

      1. LizB*

        Yeah, the organization is very very big, with about 20 locations in my city, and what I would be doing on Monday would be a day-long HR orientation thing which most likely won’t be located at the tiny branch I’ll be working out of. I don’t know which branch is “headquarters” for HR, though, so I’m not sure where to go! I left a voicemail with my manager, so hopefully I hear back soon.

    3. LizB*

      An update: I couldn’t get in touch with my manager, but I did get ahold of the program supervisor, whose number I also had. Apparently my manager was out on PTO today, which is why I couldn’t reach him. The organization also got some wires crossed on their end, and while they are definitely still offering me the position, they want my start date to be the 23rd (they do two organization-wide new employee HR orientations a month, and that’s the date of the second one). So now I have two weeks to chill, reorganize my apartment, and work on NaNoWriMo before I start work!

      The disorganization on their end is a bit of a red flag, but I’ve worked for disorganized managers and chaotic companies before, and I always manage to find my own ways through the system to get my work done. Everything else about the job still seems fabulous. So, still excited!

      1. Evie*

        It’s great that you were able to get in touch with someone – and congrads on the new job! I’m glad you’re in a position where the two weeks downtime is a yay instead of a nay :) enjoy your surprise holiday!

  25. CrazyCatLady*

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

    1. John*

      You envision yourself at the new job for 5 years. Will you feel excited to go to work each day? Compare that to how you felt re: your best jobs — would it be a compromise?

    2. Pickles*

      Pretend it’s for someone else! That always works for my end of year self-evals, where I feel like an arrogant jerk talking about how awesome I am (it’s really easy to blow past the required “satisfactory” ranking if you’re motivated). I’m much more likely to write it well and be more honest about what I’ve done, rather than downplaying it.

      Personally, I hate pro and con lists. I can always find the opposite counter, so it just gets deadlocked.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Yeah, that’s my problem with pros and cons lists. With my mind, it becomes so complicated because I end up having to weigh each pro and each con based its relative importance to me and then I just feel like … if I have to do this much math just to decide if I should take the job, it’s probably not a good sign.

        I really like your advice about pretending it’s for someone else! (This will help me in interviewing, too!)

        Thank you!

        1. John*

          But what you are things you value most in a job? There have to be a couple factors, right? The person managing you is typically a huge one. What do your instincts say about her/him?

          1. John*

            To add: I was in the frying pan when I jumped into my current role. 15+ years later, it worked out well. I hope that is true for you.

          2. CrazyCatLady*

            See, I have a really hard time trusting my instincts because I’ve worked in really toxic places before and am so scared to do that again. But my impression of him was that he’s a bit narcissistic and he made some comments that just really did not sit well with me (about former employees, about millennials, about when he had to raise his production employees’ wages (that wouldn’t be my job, but the mentality rubbed me the wrong way)).

            The things I value the most are being able to get results, grow, be engaged in the work…

      2. BizzieLizzie*

        what were the yellow flags….
        Was it the work itself, or the culture?

        I’d worry about yellow flags unless there were a lot of positives to outweigh. Unless – perhaps you can see yourself the job say for 2 years, and maybe you know you can deal with the flags for that shorter term.

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          The yellow flags were high turnover in the position (it seemed like mostly the people being fired), some of the comments the CEO made about money (it’s a small/mid-sized company which is why the CEO was even involved in interviewing) and just a general vibe. One example was that when he asked how much I currently made, and I told him, he followed it with “Is money the most important thing to you?” I said that it’s not the MOST important. He followed with “You don’t have kids or anything like that?” … and that made me uncomfortable because my bills or financial obligations are not the basis for my salary – my worth is.

          The work sounds awesome and I’d LOVE to work for this specific company. I’m currently in a very very very small, practically microscopic company, so working at this other place would be helpful for getting into an even larger company in the future, and it’s going back to an industry I love.

          I don’t have an offer yet, so this may all be moot!

          1. Golden Yeti*

            Ehhhhhhhh, I dunno. That sounds more than a little sketchy to me, too.

            “Is money the most important thing to you” could be taken either as “…cause you won’t be making much here” or “because we have great benefits, even though we’re low on cash.”

            The question about kids is also a red flag for me. I’m in a similar genre of job as you (microscopic and toxic), and our hiring manager always asks personal questions like that in interviews. Knowing what I know now (that it’s sketchy if not illegal), it creeps me out for applicants.

            Plus the turnover. Not good.

            If it’s still a smallish company, you’d probably be working somewhat closely with the CEO, so it’s a good thing that you’re getting a read on him now. If you get an offer, I’d at least suggest tons of questions about anything that concerns you. Don’t hold anything back.

            In my view, it will come down to this: If the new job turns out to be toxic, will the experience in that industry make that toxicity worthwhile down the road? Or, are you really at a point where you can’t tolerate toxicity anymore, despite any future payoff?

            Without knowing your history/the field/etc., though, if it were me, I’d probably turn it down–just because it reeks too similarly to the environment I know now.

            1. Ad Astra*

              “You don’t have kids or anything?” is a question that really turns me off. If he’d asked in a way that sounded like he was trying to get to know me, I might not worry. But in this case, it sounds more like he’s hoping a childless/child free employee will accept a lower wage or work crazier hours. Or both.

          2. The Strand*

            Great advice below from the Yeti. I think the “kids” comment is more of a red flag than a yellow one.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            His questions reflect the things he thinks are important. These must be the things he thinks are important.

    3. T3k*

      Perhaps make a list of pros and cons for each and try to keep each point objective like “x benefits at company A, y benefits at company B” and then only write down the really egregious emotional things that’s a deal breaker where you are. This can help you narrow down why you’re really looking to leave and if you spot that at the other company, you know to avoid it or, at the very least, ask about it.

    4. Adams*

      This is me right now, too! I’ve actually got the job offer and will be speaking to the manager today about some further questions…. I worry I’m jumping from one bad job to another and worried about both my mental state and employment history. In my case, bad job = a lateral move, little opportunity for advancement or growth, and not feeling like my job has any impact. Look forward to hearing what others suggest.

    1. some1*

      My first professional job was in municipal govt and I left it to work in the private sector. There are definitely some differences that I experienced.

      My insurance was more expensive and not as many paid holidays.

      My govt job was Union, so people went to the Union steward if they had problems with their boss, etc, it took some getting used to be working with people who saw HR as their personal advocate.

      I never saw anyone get fired from govt, so it took some getting used to have a coworker be fired. Also, people resign much more often than they did in the govt dept I worked for – it wasn’t unusual for a significant amount of people to spend their whole career there.

      My first job after the govt job had only two people in the company that were POC, and that took some getting used to. I was used to more diversity in govt.

  26. John*

    Are auto-play ads ruining anyone else’s experience at this site? This week they’ve been pervasive. It’s really distracting when I try to read the blog, which I really enjoy.

    1. afiendishthingy*

      yeah they’re especially bad this week :( Just put Adblock Chrome add-on on my work computer though and that fixes it.

    2. Kelly L.*

      Mine were off the charts early in the week (sometimes crashing the actual computer, not just the browser), and then they’ve really calmed down for me in the last day or so.

  27. T3k*

    How does one continue to go to a job they don’t particularly enjoy, but it’s not bad enough to outright quit while job hunting? I really wish I could straight out quit because it feels so unfulfilling and the pay only covers some bills, but of course if I just quit with nothing lined up it looks bad, but I feel my job searching isn’t going anywhere anyways.

    1. Sascha*

      Focus on the positives of the current job, and remind yourself that doing a good job is in your best interest for the next one, so you can get a good reference. I wish you good luck in finding a new one! I’ve been there – everything in me just wanted to quit but I needed the money and the health benefits.

    2. MAB*

      When I was at that point I just searched, and searched and searched. It took me 6 months of half hearted looking and 2 months of really looking to get my first interview. Beef up your resume, really customize the cover letters, and practice for the interview.

      But to keep in your job set mini goals. Like this week I will get X report out. I want to get y chart to the boss by Tuesday. That was the only way I got through it.

    3. Going 'Nony Today*

      My relative did this. Could not stand going to work another day and as a result has now been unemployed for 4 months. No job in site. AND the field they work in is plush with jobs right now.

      I strongly encourage you to use your current job as motivation to get out. The job market is getting better, but there is no guarantee. I know how you feel. Keep searching and you;ll be so happy when you get that new job.

      Good luck!

    4. Terra*

      Find something else that makes you happy. Take vacation time if you have it. Make a plan to reward yourself for getting through the week or the task or whatever. It’s basically the same as getting yourself to go the the gym or eat healthy or whatever other unpleasant things you do because you have to.

      1. T3k*

        Unfortunately, I don’t get vacation time, per se. I’m hourly with no benefits whatsoever (woo) so while I could request time off, it means I don’t get paid. I am working on crunching numbers though to try and take a day or 2 every month off (like every other Friday or something) because I am feeling worn down from constantly working as the few days I have taken off were for non-leisure things, like doctor appointments, car, etc.

    5. Sunflower*

      Now is the time you really need to amp up your job searching/networking if you haven’t already. Nothing is worse than getting to the point where you can’t physically fathom another day at work and you’ve got no leads out there. Use your hate of your current job to fuel your search. I used to long for the moment I got to leave work for the day, not just because I got to leave but I got to go home and look for new jobs. Have you set job search goals for yourself? Like apply to X amount of jobs per week. Spend X time networking? Also make mental notes at your job of things you still like, things you hate and things you’d like to see in a new workplace.

      Also make sure to take care of yourself out of work.

      1. T3k*

        Do you have any advice on networking? I’m a very introverted person and not really fond of going up to people and trying to connect on a business level.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          There are a lot of articles and tips to read if you google “tips for networking when you’re an introvert” or something along those lines. The main problem with networking is that you have to commit to do it — even if you don’t like it or it makes you uncomfortable. It’s like joining a gym, you’re not going to get in better shape if you don’t go.

          One of the best things I’ve found in terms of networking is something called Speed Networking. It’s the same idea as speed dating — a limited number of people sit down and you meet one person at a time for 3 minutes, the bell rings and one half of the room gets up and moves one chair over. Wash, rinse, repeat. The thing that’s good about it is that it removes the “who do I talk to?” thing when you’re staring at a crowd of people and you’re dealing with one person at a time plus, it’s only 3 minutes. Anyone can get through 3 minutes, even if it’s just listening to the other person talk about themselves. I meet more people at something like that because I’m forced to than any of the giant crowd of people style.

          So reach out to people you know, former classmates, previous colleagues/mentors. Let them know you’re looking for a new job and see if anyone has some leads. That’s the lowest pressure kind of networking there is.

        2. misspiggy*

          Ask questions – most people love to be quizzed about themselves, and you’ll quickly find out those that do and don’t respond well. Once you have several conversations and find out what people’s previous jobs were, or what their siblings or other halves do, then you have some potential openings to say, ‘ooh, I’d be really interested to find out more about that line of work – do you suppose so and so would mind if I sent them an email?’

        3. Sunflower*

          Second these responses- also just send some emails out to people you already know, Let them know you’re looking and to keep an eye out for positions. My university does a lot of online networking/chat and that is definitely easier than in person

    6. Anx*

      I know it can be really obnoxious to use the ‘at least you have a job’ response to any work complaints, but if you’re really committed to staying with a job you’re not excited about, maybe focusing on that could help.

      I’ve never had a work problem that was as bad as unemployment (in part because I’ve never had a super stressful job or a horrible catastrophe).

      Of course, if it’s not paying the bills, that makes it hard. I actually love my job, but I hate my pay. The hourly rate is fine, but because of the nature of the work, there are a lot of holidays. And breaks. And slow periods. So, all unpaid time off. I’m in a weird place where I work very part-time over the course of a year, but during the busier seasons feel very busy because I work part-time and have a volunteer job, so I don’t really get the benefits of a reduced schedule. Still, I think about how lucky I am not to have a mean boss anymore or to be making some money (even when it’s not enough). Most importantly, I feel more validated. I live in the US and I found it very difficult to feel like a full human being when I didn’t have a paycheck at all because of the stigma of unemployment.

    7. Master Bean Counter*

      View it as a chance to develop character. Prove to yourself you can shine even when things are stacked against you.
      Or view it as building a great reference down the road. Find something positive and focus on that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This can help. Create your own challenges for the day or the week. Focus on what it takes to accomplish the synthetic challenge. That can look like, “I usually do ten widgets a day. Let me see if I can find ways to bump up to eleven widgets a day on a regular basis.” Or you can make it a personal accomplishment. Let’s say I am really bad a names, this is awkward because I work with a TON of people. So I could make my challenge to learn x number of names a day and KEEP the name and face locked in my memory bank.

        Yes, it does build character if you target little goals like this and it will change you over time if you keep doing these random challenges, they have cumulative effect.

      1. T3k*

        That’s a really big incentive actually. I was miserable when I was unemployed trying to find my first job, and miserable between the first and second (first job laid me off unexpectedly).

  28. afiendishthingy*

    Thanks everyone who replied last open thread to my comment on low productivity related in part to ADHD/anxiety and very low productivity last month related to depression on top of that. I ended up putting it all out there for my supervisor, along with a suggestion that I submit my productivity numbers to her weekly rather than monthly because I do better with shorter deadlines and more accountability. She was very understanding and asked if I needed help accessing any resources, agreed to my plan, and offered more suggestions on more billable activities (our billing is pretty strictly regulated by the state funding source and pretty much everyone in our role has trouble at times meeting quotas).

    My other new productivity plan: I set a (very quiet) alarm on my phone and snooze it every time it goes off, and give myself a star if I’m on task when it goes off. Then I get a break when I get at least 4 stars in a row. Can you tell my job involves writing behavior plans for young kids? It’s helping though!

    Anyway, thanks y’all, some of your comments kind of scared the crap out of me, but I appreciate the real talk :)

    1. Dawn*

      “My other new productivity plan: I set a (very quiet) alarm on my phone and snooze it every time it goes off, and give myself a star if I’m on task when it goes off. Then I get a break when I get at least 4 stars in a row.”

      I’m totally stealing this!

          1. afiendishthingy*

            I should save all these for performance eval time. It’s actually more or less the plan I made up to increase in-seat/quiet voice/following directions in a young kid with autism… admittedly it didn’t work with him but I have some ideas for modifications :)

            1. Evie*

              That sounds really interesting. I’m working as a special ed teachers assistant at the moment and have been trying to figure out where to go with it next. Would it be possible for me to ask you some questions about your job?

  29. Going 'Nony Today*

    Ever get hired after a terrible interview?

    I had an internal (groan) interview recently and it went horribly! I sucked! I was not on my A game. I feel terrible and sorry for myself and blah blah blah poor me.

    I’ll get over it. Maybe I’ll still get the offer, ha!

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I haven’t gotten hired after terrible interviews … but I’ve been hired after some very mediocre ones.

    2. Solidus Pilcrow*

      I thought I did bad to mediocre on the interviews for my current job. :) Maybe it’s a perception thing? I know I never feel like I’ve lived up to expectations. Does make for a pleasant surprise when I’m proven wrong.

    3. Amy M.*

      I was a hiring manager for many years, and in one interview I just wanted to tell the woman to STOP TAKING already, it was the most cumbersome interview ever and it did not go well. HOWEVER, while the interview was bad, the applicant was not, I loved her to pieces actually and hired her without doing a second interview (unheard of for my company). While I have moved on from that company, she is still there (five years later) and in the position I was in when I hired her. A good interviewer can usually sense when someone is off their game and can still see the potential in someone. I wish you luck!

    4. Kelly L.*

      Yep! I always thought I aced interviews and didn’t get the job, and then would get the job when I thought I bombed.

    5. Harriet*

      The worst interview of my life was an internal interview. It was a disaster. I came out of it wanting to go straight to my supervisor and apologise for being so awful and reflecting badly on her (she’d pushed for me to apply for job I was being interviewed for).

      I got the job! I think they had probably decided to hire me in advance, but I have never been so shocked as when I was told.

      Still took me a while to not feel mortal embarrassment whenever I saw my interviewers though…

  30. Anon-erThanEver*

    So tell me your stories about probationary periods being extended?

    Preferably happy endings but I suppose a balance might be wise :-/

    1. ACA*

      At my last job, my probationary period got extended an additional two months (making it six months total) because I hadn’t learned one of the major job tasks yet. There had been literally no opportunity for me to learn that task, since it only happened at certain times of the year, so it wasn’t from lack of effort on my part. I don’t know why they didn’t just make my probationary period six months to start with! (In retrospect, this was a good indicator of the general dysfunction within the office, and it’s one of the reasons I’m very glad to be gone.)

    2. Jennifer*

      I sadly don’t have a happy ending. They extended mine for a month and then I found/figured out within a week or two that they were going to can me anyway so that they could hire someone else. It pretty much smacked of “we don’t like two things about you and we want to hire someone else with your paycheck,” and I was the newest one to be hired full time so there you go.

      A friend of mine was on a PIP in a job and then got off of it…but was eventually brutally fired anyway.

      So sadly, you know how this is going to go. I’m so sorry.

    3. katamia*

      The company I’m leaving routinely extends probationary periods. The person who was training me before I quit (again, not because of the notice period–it turned out to be a really bad fit for other reasons) mentioned having their probationary period extended, and they’re still working there happily. I think other coworkers have had their probationary periods extended, too.

      Basically, my understanding is that if they like you and your work but you’re not quite up to speed, they’ll extend the probationary period to give you more time to adjust–it’s a pretty intense workload, and there’s extremely high turnover. They give people raises when the probationary period comes to an end, so it’s cheaper for them to extend the probationary period for someone who’s not quite there yet than it is to let someone who needs more time go and try to hire someone else. (Actually, it’s probably cheaper for them to do that even without the raise element, but I don’t know how much their hiring really costs.)

      So there’s a happy-ish description of a company where having your probationary period extended isn’t a horrible thing that means job loss is impending.

    4. brightstar*

      I had to extend an employee’s probationary period. Even though I’d communicated regularly that there were numerous small problems, they were surprised. I sent them weekly updates during this time on how they were improving, where room for improvement still existed. They ended up becoming a permanent employee at the end of the extended probation since they had showed significant improvement.

    5. Lindsay J*

      My ex’s probationary period was extended fo his first job in his field.

      I was very concerned because it seemed like they extended it for issues that could be a huge deal – he is a corrections officer and they were concerned that he wasn’t confident or authoritative enough when dealing with the inmates. I assumed that that perception would be the kiss of death for him.

      However, he successfully made it through the extended probation period and is still there 2 years later.

      The one thing that I kept on reminding him of and focusing on myself when I got concerned was that they *had* extended the probation period. They could have just fired him at the end of the initial period but they didn’t do that. They believed he could succeed in the role and just needed him to show them that he was capable of doing so.

    6. Blackberries*

      My friend is now extremely happy at her new employer after being fired unfairly for a BS PIP. She makes more money, is less stressed, and is grateful she was fired. I hope for you a similar fate.

  31. Bonnie*

    I live in a mid-size East Coast city that’s not known for it’s crazy housing prices (ie not DC or Boston). I currently make $41k and am looking to make $50-60k in my next job if I leave my current job for another in the same East Coast city.

    However, I’m currently interviewing for a job right outside San Francisco (could/would probably live in the suburbs). Aside from benefits and all other factors, what would be a comparable salary in SF? The place I’m interviewing is a large non-profit. I don’t want to ask for too much but I also don’t want to starve! I’m not hell-bent on moving so I don’t need to take the job if it pays way too little. Any advice would be appreciated! I’ve done the cost of living calculators but San Francisco seems like it’s own beast.

    1. Biff*

      Bonnie, I work in the Bay Area and I live in East Bay.

      If you are looking to make 50-60 in a reasonable city, you need to make about 120k – 130k in the Bay.

      My salary is 80k and it breaks down like this:
      32k goes to taxes. (You get a lot of services and many beautiful parks, but you pay for it.)
      36k goes to rent
      I have about 12k to pay for food, clothes, gas, doctor visits and anything else I may want to purchase.

      I just got hit with a 300-500 dollar rent increase (depending on how long my next lease is and how soon I sign it.) This will make for 1k rent increase inside one year.

      It’s very expensive here.

        1. Biff*

          Bonnie — so many people come here thinking that 70, 80, or 90k is a lot of money, and it is. Just not here. Some months back someone said they’d moved here for 65k, and we were directing them to social services. Now, people certainly can and do live here on that, but it’s a rough existence and it doesn’t sound like what you are looking for.

      1. CA Admin*

        I also live in the East Bay.

        A few things about your breakdown–36k to rent means that you’re likely not sharing an apartment, if you’re willing to take on roommates, then you can probably go as low as 15k per year on rent. Also, if you live in an older building, it’ll be rent controlled and increases will be kept to about ~2% per year.

        Transit is pretty good, so you don’t necessarily need a car, depending on where you live. That can be a savings.

        I’ve never lived anywhere else as an adult, but I’d put the estimate at closer to 90k-100k to compare with 50-60k in a smaller city.

        1. Biff*

          CA, I both agree and disagree.

          I based the rent on a studio in a reputable, well-reviewed complex that would be able to do a long-distance lease. It is certainly feasible to go lower, but I assume that Bonnie might have to do the site-unseen thing, and probably won’t have roomies to start. So hence the maybe higher estimate. Also, I’ve never seen rent-controlled housing outside of the city proper or without very low income caps.

          Transit can be good, unless you work in San Mateo County. Transbay transit, with the exception of the BART tunnel, is terrible and SamTrans is awful, in my experience. While you don’t need a car in some areas, I feel like the coverage is patchy enough that not having a car isn’t feasible the way it is on the east coast.

          I’ve noticed that people who have lived here for about 5 years tend to downplay how expensive it is to live here. My previous boss, who had lived her twenty-five years was really, really disconnected from the high prices. I’m not saying you are doing that, but it’s something I’ve noticed and I think Bonnie should be aware of. Whomever is interviewer her/making an offer might have a skewed view of how expensive it is.

          1. CA Admin*

            That’s a good point. I live in Oakland and have almost always lived in older, rent-controlled buildings because I got bitten by the rent hikes while living in Emeryville in college.

            The older building with roommates situation isn’t cheap, but it can help reduce the expense. That said, it’s easier to move into a new building by yourself if you’re contemplating a cross-country move.

            Alameda County actually has really good transbay options outside BART. I use a transbay bus that runs commuter hours from my neighborhood directly into downtown SF. There’s also the ferry, if you live in certain parts of Oakland, Alameda, or Marin.

            I don’t want to make it sound like it’s not expense here–it’s really really expensive (most of that is housing). That said, there are ways to lessen its impact and the salaries tend to be higher to compensate. And you get to live in the gorgeous Bay Area! So that’s a plus too.

    2. Gene*

      Old data point, but on point.

      In 1989, between my job, my (then) wife’s SSDI, and my part-time sailing instruction and charter skipper work, we grossed ~$85K. We were on the list for subsidized housing in the City of San Mateo.

  32. MAB*

    May I rant about my employee? I posted a few weeks back about how I was gathering information on her bullying, public shaming and generally pissing off everyone around her. Well it finally came to head this week, causing me to get to the point that I had to bring my boss up to speed and figure out a solution to reduce the arguments and general displeasure on that shift.

    In interviewing my employee it has really come out that she doesn’t have any idea how she comes off. She is rude, unkind and was mismanaged prior to me. I am putting her in a completely different role for 5-6 weeks and watch how the interacts with everyone in the department. I am willing to giver her another chance in a new role that doesn’t entail supervising a single person, but only if she is under my eye at all times. It seems liek my boss is just hoping she quits, and so do I honestly.

    1. Biff*

      I’m glad you are dealing with a problem employee. My department seems to like fobbing them off on other departments after dressing them up to look good.

      However, if she was mismanaged and had no idea she was being taken so poorly…. please give her a chance to turn over a new leaf.

    2. Hlyssande*

      I’m sure you’ve already done this, but.. have you sat her down and specifically explained what the issue is and why you’re moving her into a different role at this time? And what she needs to do to keep her job?

      1. MAB*

        She knows exactly that she is getting moved to get away from the arguments and infighting of that shift. Both myself and my coworker (who manages the other employees involved in this) realize that my employee is not 100% the problem and we want to see what will happen when she is moved. If the fighting continues it is a larger problem that he needs to address.

        I made it clear during our talk that I expect employees to treat people the way they want to be treated at all times and gave some coaching on how to address situations that come up in a non-confrontational way. I really think this was caused by my predecessor not trusting his employees to do their jobs. I am a pretty hands off manager and I expect people doing a specialty job to have the ability to do their jobs with minimal oversight (a pipe dream at times I know). This move is the first step in a PIP.

        1. Biff*

          Further question — are you talking to the other people who were contributors? Even if one employee is 60% of the problem, and the other two are only 20% of the problem (each) you need to make sure they know they aren’t getting off scotch-free.

    3. some1*

      “In interviewing my employee it has really come out that she doesn’t have any idea how she comes off”

      Doesn’t know or doesn’t care?

      1. MAB*

        Doesn’t know. She clearly cares but she seems clueless to the fact that the manor she is addressing issues that come up during her shift is rude and hurtful.

        1. Windchime*

          Unfortunately I think it’s really tough for people like this to change. We had a woman in our department who was extremely rude to people. She had a habit of laughing nervously about *everything*, and would make sarcastic, rude comments under her breath. She was counseled extensively about it all, including the laughter because people she was in meetings with thought she was laughing at them (which, I guess she was since she would laugh inappropriately at pretty much everything that was said).

          She finally quit on her own, but she just could not (would not?) change her habits of laughing and making sarcastic comments.

  33. Delyssia*

    My boss recently asked what I want in terms of growth and new opportunities in my current job. The problem is that I don’t see what I want as being at all likely to happen. In short, I do teapot proposals, and my ideal would be to move up to where I’m managing/supervising team members as a major piece of what I do and maintaining involvement in some of our bigger teapot proposals. Given the current structure of our department, I don’t really see that happening.

    Should I tell my boss that I want to manage a team anyway, even though I really doubt that such a thing is in the cards? Should I throw in some other things that I think would be interesting challenges, even though they’re less likely to convince me to stay long term?

    1. Wonder Woman*

      I would tell your boss that, depending on the kind of boss they are. My old boss always said that his job was to help his employees succeed, and was genuinely happy for folks who moved on to higher level positions within the company. It could be that your boss would know of an opportunity in another department that might be right for you. Of course, if he/she is the type to do anything to keep you in your current pigeonhole…then maybe not.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It sounds like you have a good boss who is encouraging you, so why not both? Tell them that what you really want is X, but you think you would be OK if you could do Y instead for now, since you know that X isn’t how things are currently done.

  34. cuppa*

    I’m waiting to see if I get an offer for a job that would have a large part of it as WFH (probably 60-80%). Right at this moment, I would have to work from my dining room table or couch, as I’m having some family stay in my guest room for a month or two.
    Anyways, I know Alison sometimes works from her couch and I’m sure others don’t have traditional office spaces, and I’m curious how you make it work. Do you have a lap desk, move an office chair to your dining table? Where do you keep your office things? I was thinking about getting a rolling cart from IKEA or something.

    Any tips?

    1. AFT123*

      Honestly, I have a desk and an office room, but 90% of the time I work from bed or the couch… It’s just more physically comfortable for me! I keep my office things on the desk, but before I had the desk, office things were in a box in the closet. I don’t use office stuff much as I try to be totally paperless, and I use my cell phone most of the time.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yep. I rarely use my home office. Instead, I usually end up on migrating between the dining table and couch with my laptop. (Honestly, I’m not sure why we even have a home office. No one seems to use it.)

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I bought a small 4′ folding table at Costco. There’s just enough overhang before the legs hit the couch so that it works.

    2. GlassKey*

      Hi, cuppa–I do a lot of work from home and before I was able to convert a bedroom into a home office I faced a similar problem. I found it essential to keep all my work in one spot, otherwise things got lost in different rooms. So a rolling cart is an excellent idea because it physically compartmentalizes “work stuff” (and you can hide it away in another room on your days off so you don’t think about it). I don’t know if you have a spare closet but I have also seen examples of how people have converted those into workspaces as well. I personally don’t work well on couches, guess it’s too relaxing for me and my brain turns off :) so I prefer the formal chair/table set-up with a lamp. There are also some cool desks out there that attach to a wall and then fold up when you are done, have you seen those? At any rate, I find it best at the end of the week to put all work things out of sight. Hope that helps!

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          In my home office — that I used for several years before moving to the couch — I put almost everything on wheels so that I could move it around easily by myself to clean. I built these wooden platforms and put rubber wheels on the bottom (the small 1″ kind) for the filing cabinet and this other cabinet I use for office supplies. I built the desks (tables, really) with metal baker’s shelving and big 5″ wheels on the bottom. I have to learn to break my addiction to TV listening and start using all that again, the room is kind of small though. I keep meaning to renovate my basement into some space but… one day. Even if I did move into the basement, I would have to keep all my books/paper upstairs because it can get damp down there.

    3. edj3*

      I normally don’t work from home but do occasionally.

      On those days, assuming my 100% W@H husband doesn’t have a lot of conference calls, I’ll put my laptop on a TB tray stand next to my desk so that I have an L shape desk area. I got the tray at Bed, Bath & Beyond. If he’s talking, talking, talking–then I set up in the kitchen at the bar.

    4. Anx*

      If you make a decent amount of money, I’d go with a full ergonomic desk/office situation, and a backup couch situation. Sometimes it’s good to move around.

      We have an office, but I never use it because it’s so cramped in there and the cat walks on the desk. I’m disgusted by litter-toes and I hate trying to work with him there. It’s hard to vacuum in there because it’s such a tight space. Honestly, I wish we had a 1 BR and put the money into better furniture, because I feel like that whole room is dead space.

      I’d do whatever makes you comfortable. The single hardest part of working to me is getting past the physical discomfort of sitting down a lot (this is probably why despite being quite bookish, I hated school when I got older…studying was physically painful).

      I just use a laptop on a wobbly tv try, but I am pretty broke.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I live alone and there isn’t any need for a private space, so it’s the sofa all the way (it’s actually a futon, which I hate, but it has a lot of space to spread out). I have two lap desks with legs–one is kind of a breakfast tray, but it tilts up so you can use it for a laptop or to read. When I’m at home, my personal computer is on its usual lap desk so I can stream music and my work laptop is on the tray.

      I have a desk in the front room, but I don’t use it for working. It holds my all-in-one printer and personal files, etc. My job is 99.9% digital, so I rarely have to print anything ever, even at the office. I used to have the desk in the back bedroom, but I’ve been moving stuff around. If I didn’t live alone, I’d make an office space somewhere I could shut the door. There’s nothing wrong with working on the sofa, if that’s where you’re most comfortable doing it and you can manage distractions. For example, when I’m doing it, the TV stays off.

    6. cuppa*

      Thank you, everyone. I know it seems like a really simple thing, but this has been really helpful!

    7. Windchime*

      I have a beautiful, big oak desk that I am in the process of selling. It just never felt comfortable. I have an actual desktop computer for work-at-home days because I like having two monitors and a real keyboard for programming. Instead of the desk, I’ve got the computer set up on a big folding table, like the kind you’d see at a church potluck. It’s the perfect height and there are no drawers to get in the way. This is where I work most of the time when I’m working at home. Other times, I’ll sit at the dining room table with my laptop or if the weather is nice, out on the patio. I don’t feel particularly comfortable working on the sofa or the bed; I’m afraid I’d find myself watching cat videos or doing Facebook. But that’s just me.

  35. Erin*

    The question I’m posing is: How does your office handle phone coverage? Are there tips for not dumping it all on one person?

    My situation: At one of my jobs, we have a receptionist who is primarily in charge of covering phones for not only our office, but our other office’s calls are routed to us as well. It is a high volume of calls. I cover her lunch break and answer phones for an hour a day. She leaves early on Mondays when another admin covers for that chunk of time. When the receptionist calls out, as she has done today, the other admin and I have to split our time to cover the phones; she does the morning, and I do the lunch hour and remaining afternoon.

    When I (or anyone) am covering phones it is next to impossible to get actual work done. Besides having the majority of what I need at my own desk, it is very difficult to accomplish work when having to pick up the phone every other minute. Some of my work is creative – coming up with marketing and advertising strategies, for instance – and answering the phone cuts into that concentration and the flow I have going when I’m writing/editing.

    Fortunately, my higher ups recognize this and allow me to read a book or surf my phone or otherwise ONLY answer the phones when covering, which I appreciate. But, it is annoying to have to fall behind in my other work every single time this happens. Right now I have more on my plate than usual and none of it is going to get done today.

    Additionally, with the nature of this particular industry, other than us admins, the other employees basically make their own hours and are in and out of the office at will; there isn’t really anyone else to split coverage with other than us three.

    How do other people handle phone coverage?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Our admins trade off lunch coverage. We each do one hour a week but cover for each other’s coverage when people are on holiday, ill, etc. We have a second receptionist at the other building on campus, and she is first coverage when the primary receptionist is out of the office for the day. Then whoever does lunch that day covers her.

      At Exjob, I had no backup until the part-time marketing person came in at 11:30. If I was sick, I would come in and then leave when he got there. Sometimes he’d call in and I would have to stay at work. :(

    2. Jennifer*

      I can’t get any work done while answering phones, unless it can be done in 30 seconds or less. If they want me to answer phones, that is clearly their priority more than my getting work done is, so…there you go.

      We theoretically have a phone bank run by student employees with one supervisor. However, every time they’re short staffed (which is FREQUENTLY and pretty much every single day of winter) we have to do phone backup and then the rest of the day is wasted for actual work.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Agree with this – I’m in a similar situation in my job regarding tasks that are falling behind because I have to provide customer service coverage (not phones though). I’m coming to realize that there isn’t really a solution; it’s sort of a your-job-sucks-and-isn’t-going-to-change thing. Oddly, accepting this has been rather freeing.

        The only thing I would suggest, if you’re not doing this already, is always informing the higher ups that if you are covering phones, you cannot simultaneously work on higher-end stuff that requires focus and thought. Since my bosses are the ones saying that I may not work on creative work until all customers have been taken care of (and that I am to immediately drop the creative work if a customer request comes in), I have pointed out, each time, that if that’s how they want me to prioritize work, that means deadlines are going to get blown. (Not sure why managers don’t realize this sort of thing…. but in my experience they do not.)

    3. some1*

      The only way I have seen it work successfully is to assign people to a rotating schedule. Asking for volunteers means getting the same people who become resentful because they are the only ones stepping up.

    4. T3k*

      At my first job, which was heavily phone and email based conversations, we alternated between phone calls. Like I’d answer the first call that comes through, then the next employee would answer the second call, then back to me. However, this still isn’t an effective way unless you have 3-4 people to cycle through because, as you pointed out, it still breaks up concentration on what you’re trying to work on.

  36. Sally Sparrow*

    I’m having issues with my workload at work. Everyone around me is talking about how they are so busy but I have next to nothing to do. (They are also much more senior to me.) Every few days, usually toward the end of the day, I go around to my 3 supervisors and ask if they have anything for me with a general PSA of I have nothing to do. But I feel annoying asking so frequently or so often. Especially when during our last meeting, it was stated that I needed work but then no one gave me anything. But I feel bad, because at least half of my day is spent twiddling my thumbs on the internet.

    Is there a better way to approach this besides asking constantly for things to do? I’m trying to find stuff to do on my own, but I’m an admin/assistant so it is difficult to seek out work that isn’t given to me.

    1. June*

      Can you ask for specific projects? Is there anything you want to learn more about? Maybe posing it that way can lead to both a more consistent workflow and skills/career advancement.

    2. cuppa*

      One thing I did for my staff that was helpful was make a list ahead of time. I put it on my door, and it said “Looking for something to do?” and had a list of about 10-15 things that could be worked on. So, maybe you could ask or work with your manager to come of with a list of tasks or projects that can be worked on when you need something to do so you don’t have to ask them every time.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        That is a great idea. Provided you don’t work in an office where all your time has to be billable which automatically cancels things like this out *grumble*

        I would also suggest, OP, that you ask at the beginning of the day. “Hey, Colleague, I was looking at my schedule and I should be able to get my TPS reporting done by noon and was wondering if there was anything I could help you out with today?” Yes, you might have to make it something stupid/menial/boring/rote but if there isn’t a list on the door of things your manager would like to have done, well, many hands make light work.

        I don’t know what you do, but you could also always make your own project — provided your manager is OK with that. If you’re in marketing, new campaign ideas for your company/largest client. If there’s some process or procedure that you think could be done differently, work on that.

      2. Ad Astra*

        I love this! One of my previous managers had a general “What to do when you have nothing to work on” file for our two-person department, and it was so helpful.

    3. asl*

      Can you get approval to take courses that would help you in your job trajectory? There’s a ton of free online courses out there, and if you were able to pitch it to your supervisors in a way that showed them how the courses would add to your skillset, maybe you wouldn’t feel guilty about all of your downtime. And, it’ll beef up your skills and resume if you ever decide to move on to another job.

    4. Jennifer*

      Make work of your own to do or “look busy.” I’ve run into trouble asking for work too much and you’re probably right at that point now. Maybe look for ways you can read about your industry or…I dunno, notice something nobody else is doing?

    5. Jenniy*

      *disclaimer:totally off topic reply*

      *second disclaimer: poster “Sally sparrow” will laugh, and know that this is not offensive, but funny*

      “Life is short, and you are hot”

      <3 a fellow whovian

    6. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      1) Don’t assume that those people complaining about being busy really are busy. My general experience is that those people who have time to stand around complaining about being busy are more so doing it to appear busy/hard working than actually being so.

      2) Do be careful asking for work, it can backfire.

      3) Talk to others in your role who are complaining about being busy, ask if there is anything you can support them with. I highly recommend saying “support” and not “help” too because in my experience people get defensive when you ask if they need help with their work.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Who was at your last meeting (you mention it here) that said to give you work? Can you go back to that person and let them know nothing has changed?

  37. Windchime*

    Less than a year ago, one of our team members was promoted to Manager of our team. She had many years of management experience from past jobs. In the time she has held this position, she has put two bad performers on a PIP (and they eventually quit rather than change their ways) and let a 3rd under-performer go. At the same time, our team has grown by about 5 members and thus far they are all GREAT. (One person hasn’t started yet, but I have no reason to think he’ll be anything other than awesome, based on his interview and his references).

    It’s amazing what a difference an involved, experienced manager can make.

      1. Windchime*

        She is not on AAM. I have referred her here before but it seems that she would already have the Alison Stamp of Approval(tm) because she pretty much manages the way that AAM advises.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      Maybe there is a reason for Boss’ Day after all…

      Congrats on landing one of the good ones!

    2. Mirilla*

      That’s incredible! Great management makes a huge difference. It’s one of the reasons I want to leave my current job. It sounds like you have a great one.

  38. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I had to go to my boss about a peer this week, and… UGH. I share a junior staffer, “Mollie”, with “Hyacinth”– and Hyacinth has ZERO respect for my time or Mollie’s. (Or anyone else’s, for that matter.) On Monday, Hyacinth called my co-worker and asked her to pull Mollie out of my client meeting (!!!) to work on something for her. (My co-worker said absolutely not.) Hyacinth also missed two of our daily meetings in which we discuss everyone’s projects, including what Mollie is working on– and she simply does not care about any projects but her own. This isn’t the first time she’s tried to pull people away from my projects because of her “emergencies”– and quite frankly, I’m pissed because when similar “emergencies” have happened to me, I’ve either taken care of it myself (doing tasks that officially go to Mollie) or sought out the answers from a better source rather than disrupt Mollie’s schedule and try to take her away from Hyacinth’s projects. The ironic thing is that if Hyacinth bothered to come to our daily meetings, she could have said, “Hey, I could really use Mollie’s help today, can we shift some things around?” and I would have done it.

    So after the Monday incident and the missed meetings, I spoke to my boss. Did he have a solution? No, or at least he didn’t share it with me, but he listened to me, so I’m hoping he deals with it. If she weren’t my peer, I would probably get on her at least about missing the meetings, but the way we’re structured, she and I are equals. I’m also now pissed all over again because Mollie asked on Tuesday if she could have today off. I said yes, and if anything comes up I’ll work around it, but Hyacinth said no– even though Hyacinth could totally handle all of the project work today and Mollie could have had a freaking day off.

    I have learned through this whole thing that unless I am completely on the same page with someone, I hate sharing a team. I would rather be in charge or defer to someone else, because at least then I know exactly how to operate. Any recommendations on how to deal with this in a way that doesn’t make it seem like I think I’m Hyacinth’s manager? Or, heaven forbid, her junior?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Oh bloody hell. I feel your pain. I too hate sharing junior staffers, which is a situation that never used to come up in my line of work but now often does because clients keep tightening budgets.

      The short-term easy but morally distasteful “solution,” which sadly happens far too often, is that both supervisors treat the junior as if she is 100% theirs, leading to a burned-out junior who will quit as soon as she can find something better.

      The best thing I think you can do is meet with Hyacinth and get on the same page with her. “I’m frustrated because I’m not getting enough of Mollie’s time, but I don’t want to solve this problem by making her work late all the time. What can we do about this?”

      In this situation, if I were Mollie’s official boss, I would lay down the law and say, “I’m happy for her to help you with the XYZ project on Tuesdays, but I absolutely have to have her for client calls every Monday at 2, and she needs to be able to take her allotment of PTO days.” It sounds like Hyacinth is her boss, though, in which case you might need to concede more to her needs and then go to your own boss if your needs are not being met. “The situation with sharing Mollie is leaving me with not enough support, because Mollie is so often tied up with the XYZ project.” Then it’s your manager’s problem to find another solution, whether that is establishing boundaries with Hyacinth or perhaps getting you more help from someone else.

  39. FD*

    I have a phone interview Monday! I’m excited, but really nervous too. It’s a company I’ve researched, and have heard good things about. I got to talk to someone who held the role I’m applying for (at a different company). It almost certainly pays more than what I’m getting now and would get me out of a situation that’s deteriorated at my current company.

    One challenge is that it’s an hour and a half away. We’d always planned to move, so relocating is on the radar, but I’m not sure how to handle the in between period. Any thoughts or suggestions? And any good vibes you’d like to send me on my interview would be welcome!

    1. Erin*

      If you and your partner are open to moving don’t worry about the commute too much. I myself am looking into listening to audiobooks/podcasts during my commute to make it more bearable.

  40. Sassy AAE*

    My best friend and roommate got a job in her field! She’s a history major with tentative plans for grad school, but she just accepted a position at a law office as a digital archivist. It’s part time, but there’s opportunity to grow! I helped her write her resume and cover letter using stuff I learned from this website. I’m so happy for her, she was getting discouraged about finding a post-grad job with her degree. (She’s the research type, not teaching, so it’s even more dire.)

    I know this is just a stepping stone, but she’s really excited to actually work in something she enjoys!

  41. Holly*

    The uncomfortable words from the IT Guy have ceased! I didn’t tell him off, but I think all my awkward beat-pauses before talking to him whenever he said it may have made him rethink himself. Hurray!

    Meanwhile, a question on expected dress codes. I’m helping my company run a huge conference we’re hosting, and I’ll be working 12-13 hour days (2 days total.) Is a suit jacket the entire time necessary? I’ll be in a nice skirt and tucked in blouse each day, but the jacket too? And would it be unprofessional to wear nice flats instead of heels? I worry 13 hours in heels might lead to limping everywhere, which will look…well, awful.

    1. lulu*

      Can you have both options on site? Like you show up with a jacket but take it off if it looks ok based on what other people are doing. Show up in heels and bring a pair of flats hoping you can wear them. I would definitely wear the flats if I was expected to be on my feet for that long.

    2. TB*

      At the last conference I went to, one of the people running it was wearing track shoes. I think professional looking flats (or even semi-pro) are absolutely fine.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Someone I know used to bring a scooter for large events in Vegas.

        Yes, wear your comfortable shoes. If I had a silver dollar for every time I heard someone onsite complaining about their feet/blisters/back/shin splints from running around all day… I could buy a new pair of shoes. If you’re not sure, just keep your good shoes under the desk in a bag so you can pop them on if you need to.

        And the blazer? If it’s too hot, take it off. You may want it though, because ballrooms tend to run on the chilly side.

    3. cuppa*

      I would wear flats. I found some nice black patent flats with a wedge heel and those have become my go-to “conference shoes”. I even wore them to an interview where I knew I would be doing a lot of walking, so there are definitely nice flats that will work with a suit.
      I made the mistake once of thinking I could handle heels for a whole conference, and boy, was I sorry. I ended up wearing a pair of ballet flats that didn’t quite go with my outfits for the rest of the conference because my feet were in so much pain. I might wear heels for a specific event, but I would never plan to wear heels all day to a conference ever again (and I regularly wear heels at work with no issues).

    4. K.*

      I always wore flats to trade shows at my old job – it was lots of standing and a bit of manual labor to get the booth in order, and flats just made more sense. One time, one of my colleagues wore pointy stilettos on the first day of a conference/trade show and ran out afterward to buy a pair of flats to wear the rest of the time because her feet were all torn up.

    5. AFT123*

      Girl, wear your flats!! As for the jacket, I suppose that is more specific to your environment, but I’d guess it will be fine to take it off. If you’re worried about it, would a lighter-weight knit blazer work? Something without a lining and with a little stretch, that you can maybe push the sleeves up? With something sleeveless underneath, that could be comfy enough for the whole day.

      Side note – I just got some pointed-toe loafers from Target (They are the “Holly”) and they are just the best.

    6. FiveWheels*

      It depends on your industry norms but I work in a very conservative law firm and I have never once worn a skirt or heels to the office, client meetings, or court. I wear a dark suit, shirt or blouse, and a variety of flats. Suit and shirt is every bit add comfortable as jeans and a t-shirt.

      For jackets, I think it’s appropriate to take them off during most sit down meetings and if it’s very warm. So long as you have a suit made of climate /air con appropriate material, you should be fine.

      No to heels!

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Yay! It’s nice when problems self-correct. :)

      A nice pair of flats are not unprofessional at all. If you’re going to be on your feet all day, people who wore heels would probalby wish they did the same. :)

    8. Stephanie*

      Flats! But get good supportive ones. For that much standing, uncomfortable, unsupportive flats would be almost as rough as heels

  42. Meganly*

    I’m nearing the end of my rope with a technical writer that I am training. To start off, I am more than willing to admit that I suck at training and I should not have been given this duty, but taking it was the only way to get full-time status so I am doing my best. Right now, my best isn’t enough and I’m starting to feel like I’m going nuts.
    I’ve walked Trainee through each step, I’ve given him checklists, I’ve given him emailed instructions with organized bullet lists, I’ve answered about 40 emails a day with questions about things that were in the walkthroughs/checklists/bullet lists, and I don’t know what else I can do. Only a small portion of what I team him seems to stick! We had a 15 email back-and-forth exchange yesterday about what file name to use, which is well documented (he even used a screenshot of the checklist to argue with me!) but he didn’t get what I was trying to say at all. So, I would love some advice on how to squeeze a massive amount of information and standards into someone who seems information-resistant.
    This also seems to be a really common trope with all of our new hires, and I feel like it can’t be that we are always hiring people who are just unable to learn! I was at the interview for this trainee and he came across as very intelligent and a quick learner, but it really seems like that’s not the case. Any advice on how to get across massive amounts of information/standards in general?

    1. Karowen*

      I have no advice, but massive amounts of commiseration. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this!

    2. Dawn*

      How’s your overall documentation? Do you have a training document, or a series of documents, that is handed to a new hire on day 1 and used as a reference document from that day forward? Do you have formal documentation of all policies and procedures or do those just live in people’s heads?

      Get your documentation straight and make comprehensive training manuals from those. It’ll help a hundredfold- and yeah it’s a time sink but it’ll pay off in dividends when you don’t have to deal with situations like this one!

      1. katamia*

        This. Our company has a wiki, but when I was being trained and getting feedback on my work I was constantly hearing “Oh, this isn’t on the wiki, but it’s a house rule.” So frustrating. I did start my own house rule file pretty early on, but…argh.

      2. Meganly*

        We actually have almost everything formally documented and searchable on our standards knowledge base. It’s many many articles, some about specific standards, some more high-level process. The first day the trainee was here I showed him the knowledge base and walked him through how to use it/search through it. I also gave him a list of links to the most important articles, organized by type of standard in order of importance. His first task was to read through all of them.

    3. Meg Murry*

      Rather than emailing back and forth, could you just block off some time to spend with him? Ask him to keep a list of all his questions, and then periodically you can meet and clear all the questions in person at once?

      Are the checklists and bullet point lists all electronic? Maybe he needs to print them and put them in a binder so he can write his own notes on them and tape flag them? Or maybe you need to show him how to take screen shots so he can make his own documentation/cheat sheets? I learn best by making my own documentation, or making edits that work the way my own brain works to someone else’s documentation.

      Can you sit next to him while he goes through a cheat sheet/document to see if he’s getting hung up on something that isn’t there, or if he’s just gotten into the bad habit of asking you rather than reading the f***ing manual! Along those lines, can you be not so responsive by email so he has to try by himself first? “Sorry, I’m going to be plugging away at something that requires all my thought processes for the next few hours, so I won’t be checking email. Look at your checklists if you get stuck, and I’ll check in with you at 1:30”

      1. Meganly*

        Interesting! I never considered suggesting he make his own documentation! I think I will try that! I have been printing the relevant documentation and the two checklists, and encouraged him to print out a separate checklist for each project but he hasn’t. I might try daily meetings; though, when I have answered questions in person, even though he takes notes, he doesn’t retain anything.

        1. Lindsay J*

          I would tell him that he needs to print out and refer to the checklists and that you won’t be dealing with any questions that would be solved by the checklist.

          And if it is something that you know he has notes on, refer him back to his notes. If it’s a question that has come up multiple times tell him he needs to take and notes on it he can refer back to as this is the final time you will be answering that particular question.

          Maybe a sitdown with him to clarify expectations is in order. Explain that he is supposed to be working on becoming self sufficient in the role, and that before he comes to he is expected to try and find the answers to his questions on his own by referring to the checklists, his notes, and the knowledgebase, and that if he finds conflicting information or still needs claification after he has done that that is the point where he should come to you.

    4. Ad Astra*

      Well, how long has it been? If there’s a lot of complicated information involved, and you’ve had similar problems with other new hires, it’s possible that your expectations (and the expectations of your company/department) aren’t realistic.

      1. Meganly*

        We expect full mastery to take about 6 months to a year, but the problem is I have a full workload in addition to training, and simply can’t hand-hold someone for that long. So, we push for semi-autonomy for our simplest projects by the 1-month mark, and a lot of people aren’t hitting that milestone.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That expectation sounds terribly unrealistic. If the process is so intensely complicated that it takes six months to a year to master it, expecting it in a month is ridiculous. I say this because it’s not just this guy; you indicated that it’s nearly everyone.

          Your company needs to hire/delegate someone to do the hand-holding. Make it that person’s job and make sure they have time to do it. Otherwise, you’re going to keep running into this problem.

          1. Meganly*

            I really wish we could hire someone to be a permanent trainer!! (Hopefully one of the other trainers would volunteer) That would be amazing, but I doubt it will ever happen.
            Also, I was probably unclear… in no way is it expected to fit the full 6 months into one month. It’s more like, instead of creating documents from scratch that match standards (def requires mastery), they are expected to make minor changes to existing docs and push them through the automated approvals, while not messing up file names/making tons of obvious mistakes/sending rude emails to engineers/ignoring edits from trainer review; questions/issues are still expected (but not about things that are clearly explained in the checklist). I guess part of my problem is that I had no issue being autonomous on those projects at two weeks in, so I don’t really get what is difficult about them for the person I’m training.

            1. Evie*

              You’ve probably already got these in your approach, but have you made sure to try and add a rationale as to why some things are done in a certain way where applicable? Because I think the general research is that it helps people take on the steps to the procedure, eg “we always put x before y in the file name because y is a sub section of x”.

              Also getting him to repeat back to you – in his own words! – things you’re explaining to him? “So now we’ve talked about it, what’s your understanding of the server content layout”.

              Also we’ve just been talking about the importance of the ‘model-lead-test’ strategy. Show him how you’d do the thing, give him an example to work through with you guiding, then give him another go on a preferably a slightly different but very similar example and give him feedback. It might be more time consuming initially but the idea is that (hopefully) the training sticks more thoroughly.

              Good luck!

    5. SirTechSpec*

      How much information are you trying to convey, and is it reasonable? Even if you think the total should be reasonable, it may be easier for both of you to process if you prioritize. Separate core principles from specific knowledge and try to highlight the former, e.g. “When I’m stuck on how to do X thing, I always start by looking at the Y document, then check the Z folder if it’s not there. That’s a pattern that I really want you to get used to. Now as to your specific question, it’s explained under paragraph 46 here – basically…”

      It may also be worth thinking about your trainee’s learning style. Getting lots of emails about something that was in a checklist says to me that one of three things is happening:
      1) They’re not clear on which checklist to use for which task.
      2) The checklist is written more as a reminder for experienced people not to skip steps than an explanation of how to actually perform each step (easy to forget when you already know what you’re doing).
      3) They’re not a particularly visual learner, and need to hear something explained out loud, need to do it themselves with you providing guidance, or otherwise need some other kind of instruction before things will really click.

      It’s also possible that this person isn’t going to work out, of course, but I would look carefully at those three options before coming to that conclusion.

      1. SirTechSpec*

        On 3), reading some other comments reminds me that they may be an *especially* visual/spatial learner, and having something on a computer screen just isn’t good enough compared to printing it out and keeping it in a specific location on their desk with a specific color post-it note to remind them. My mother and a few of my colleagues (in IT, mind) are this way.

      2. Meganly*

        Thanks so much, your comment was really helpful! I’m thinking that maybe he learns best when he writes things out himself like a commenter said upthread. He does have a ton of post-its and he does remember those things.

    6. fposte*

      I would ask him to include steps taken so far when he asks a question, and to articulate where in the manual he loses track.

      That’ll remind him to check the manual first and help clarify for you if there are problems with the documentation.

    7. Solidus Pilcrow*

      A tech writer who can’t seem to follow standards is a bit of a red flag to be sure. One thing with tech writers is we tend to look for the “why” behind a procedure. Can you provide any reasoning behind some of the things he needs to do? Many people are resistant to doing things that don’t make sense to them at the first glance but become more accepting if they can understand some of reasons it is the way it is. Not saying that you have to explain every little thing, but if there are some bigger things that can be explained or commiserated with, it may help. Yes, the system asks you to email yourself to get to the next stage, and yes it’s stupid, but it’s being phased out in 2 years and won’t be fixed, so we just have to live with it til then.

      Another thing to look at is how are your documents and checklists organized? Are they easy to find the info or is what he’s asking about buried in 10 pages of dense paragraphs? Could you assign your tech writer to re-work the training materials? That would ensure he reads them and maybe you’ll just get better docs out of it.

      Do you have good reference materials for standards like style sheets? No one can remember every small stylistic decision, that’s why we keep running lists. Again, how well are these organized?

      Have you walked the trainee through the entire process of what he needs to do or just given documents? Most people learn more by doing. The model I’ve heard quite often is “watch one, do one, teach one.” Have them watch you do it first, have them do it with you coaching, have them explain it back again.

      1. Meganly*

        Yes, I found it really odd that he struggles with standards so much especially because he has freelanced as a tech writer for a while before, and usually the trainees that struggle the most are the ones fresh out of college.
        Not to sound weird, but our check lists are amazingly detailed and organized; I wish they existed when I started! I made my own crappy checklist and used that. We keep a wiki sort of knowledge base that is pretty disorganized, other than having the dictionary split out. We do keep an updated, organized list of links to the articles that makes life really easy if you don’t want to search the wiki.
        I do walk him through how to do everything, have him demo it, and then set him free, sort of. I still review all of his documents and then have him fix all of his mistakes. There are just so many mistakes, and the aggravating part is that half of the time, it’s something that he asked me about earlier in the day and he misread/didn’t read what I had to say or it’s something that I specifically pointed out during the demo (and he wrote down!!) that he forgot. Definitely going to start having him explain what we just went over; that is a great idea!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Does he check his own work? This might not fit your setting but I was thinking in terms of he either a) checks a section before moving to the next section or b) checks all his work before he gives it to you.
          I’d also define what the word “check” means. There is visual inspection. And then there is using a test to check it. Again, not sure which one would fit here. But can you insist that he check (in someway) the work before he gives it to you?

  43. LOtheAdmin*

    Happy Friday!

    I’m an admin/receptionist at a car dealership. I recently had my review and my GM said he was particularly impressed with my writing skills (so much so that I got a raise!) and how I organize things, so my big project from the next few months is to work with him and our sales manager to come up with a brand new hiring plan for our store. This includes updating sales process manuals and helping my boss to update their training/hiring process and to create new branded folders and new hire paperwork for the dealership.

    I have experience with creating manuals, but have no idea where to start as far as changing the hiring process to make it better, nor do I have any experience training sales folks. Desperately seeking input from anyone with advice on overhauling the old and making it awesome and new. I would like an idea of what I’m getting myself into or if everything I’ve mention is even possible to do.

    Thanks in advance for the help!

    1. Terra*

      Go to the people who’ve dealt with the processes you intend to change most recently. Ask them what, if anything, went well. Ask them what went badly. Ask why they think it went badly. Pull in more and more people (working backward in time from when they were last involved in the process) until you start to see a pattern emerge. Ideally you’ll end up with a few things that you had several complaints about and then a few more things that you only had one or two complaints about.

      The things with the most complaints are the things that most likely need to be changed (or if they can’t be then explained better) and the things that have very few complaints are things that can probably stay unless you want to change them/offer an alternative.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        For those who don’t know, The Management Center is a client and I wrote a lot of those tools! If you want more AAM but under someone else’s auspices, they’re a good place to go.

    2. rek*

      They like your writing skills, so your main function is to document. Ideally, the ideas for change should come from your GM, sales manager and other staff who perform the functions you are looking to update. However, it can be difficult for the people who *know* stuff to articulate it, so one of your chief tasks will be to get them talking and thinking about the topics. A good place to start is to help them document their current hiring, training and sales practices. (This includes identifying serious gaps where there is no process!) Even if there is no formal manual, people will know what they *do* for these functions. Once you have the current stuff documented, you can work with them to identify what works, what doesn’t work and what could work better. Also, see if you can convince them to bring others into the information mix: Ask your newest hires what would have made their training better. Ask your hiring managers what would have made the hiring process more successful. Ask your best sales people what makes their job harder.

      Bottom line: Other than using your talent to create the new, improved manuals, use other people’s knowledge and skills to get your information.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Adding to this: ask the sales people if there were any parts of the hiring process they felt to be particularly burdensome. How many letters do we read here about terrible online applications, disorganization, multiple interviews where they repeated the same information, etc.

  44. Slimy Contractor*

    Even though I’ve been a federal government contractor for 15 years, I’ve never actually applied for a government job. They usually take so long to hire that it’s easier just to get another contracting job. However, a new position has opened up in my agency that I think I’d actually be good at, right at a time when my contract is in limbo for my current position. I’m very lucky to have some coworkers experienced in USAJobs who are helping me game the system (without lying, of course; just making sure to use the right keywords) so that I can hopefully make it past the first cut and get an interview. I admit it’s a little scary to think about being an actual government employee. One of the benefits of contracting is that you have no real responsibility. You can respectfully recommend a course of action, but if the government yahoo doesn’t take your advice, they ultimately take the blame. Do I really want to be one of those yahoos? :)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You must have had a very easy 15 years! I have had it easy because I have a great client, but I’ve heard plenty of stories. Usually if you respectfully recommend a course of action and the government yahoo doesn’t take your advice, they blame YOU for “not explaining it right”. :D

      1. Slimy Contractor*

        Ha! Well, yes, that happens too. I’ve usually worked in office which have been about 50%-50% gov/mil and contractor, so there’s plenty of blame to go around.

  45. Meg Murry*

    Ugh, I’ve been tasked with a super unpleasant job that no one at my company likes to do, but I’m fastest at it and it’s my turn. I’ve been procratinating hard – so after this it’s time to unplug from the internet and get back to work. At least it’s Friday, woo hoo.

    Separate note – a while ago I worked at a place that I really liked, in a position I really liked, but due to internal politics and funding issues, they weren’t able to turn the job that was originally only a 1 year temporary one into a permanent position like they hoped. Then 6 weeks ago I was contacted by my old boss and told they were finally able to get permission to hire for a (very similar but not exactly the same) job. However, it’s been 6 weeks! and every time I talk to my friends there it has been held up by another piece of the bureaucracy – and due to the fact that it’s a union position they have very specific rules about how long the posting will have to be up, and what steps they have to take with internal candidates before considering external candidates, how many interviews and references they have to contact, etc etc. And they just implemented a new job posting system, which I know is slowing things down right now until people are training in using it.

    On one hand, I really want the position, because the people were so great and it was so close to home, and 99% of the time the bureaucracy didn’t effect my day-to-day job. But ugh, people, I’m starting to get disenfranchised with the process and I haven’t even seen the full job description yet, let alone started the paperwork/interview/wait process – which since I’ve done it before, I know can take forever. And since this position is sorely needed, and since it was approved weeks ago, I know the people who are currenlty trying to do 1.5-2 jobs each are starting to make a pile “for the new person to handle”. I know there are some major red flags with this hiring process, but it’s the kind of thing where once you get past that initial hurdle, people tend to stay there for 10-30 years or more. And I know that if they are taking the time to make it a permanent position, that would be better than what I went through last time with “oh we’ll make it a one year temporary postion and then you can apply to make it permanent” and after 6 months of paperwork and trying they finally said “nope, not authorizing a permanent position, sorry” and moved on, and now they are almost back to square one of where they were 2 years ago.

    I guess I don’t have anything specific to ask, just a vent. Anyone else ever give up on an application/company before even starting the application process due to crap like this?

    1. LQ*

      Hi! Government union job here. Like you the job I wanted was super close to home and a good job and really engaging work I liked to do. The burden of the bureaucracy was huge. But now that I’m in the job it’s really not that bad. If my job was managing I’d like it a lot less here, the hiring and firing is a monumental task. If the job doesn’t involve that and if you always know the people you’ll be working with I’d say it can be worth it to stick with the process.
      HR/Unions here make some things painful, but not my day to day job.

  46. Anon for this*

    Feeling weird. I’ve been at a new job for about six months. My new team was decided to be overstaffed due to changes in direction and such, and three positions were dropped. One was an empty position (someone had just quit). The other two were the senior person on the team and a mid-career person who seemed very competent but was way down the list in seniority/longevity.

    It’s just very strange to be sitting here after that. If it were two of the most senior people, I’d assume cost drove it. If it were purely a head count, I’d expect myself and the other person who’s new this year to have been selected. As it is, I’m left with the reminder that I don’t really know what the criteria are (do you ever?) and to wonder if politics were involved. (Although if they were, I’m still baffled. The mid career person was the most quiet, heads down person I’ve worked with, all about getting whatever-it-was done.)

    I don’t really have a question. I just wanted to be confused somewhere and I don’t think work itself is the place for it.

      1. Anon for this*

        Not really. Less chatty than the rest of us but friendly and no dislike I could see anywhere. Also, the decisions on who went were made outside the group and handed to our boss from what he said – in which case whoever decided probably didn’t interact with this person on even a weekly basis.

        (I can actually think of one good reason for picking this person – there are other open positions they are a good fit for – but that would make more sense if our boss were making the choices, and then the senior-most being chosen wouldn’t make sense.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The senior person may have offered to leave for unknown reasons.
          You might find out the rest of the story on what happened with both of them in a little bit.

  47. Mockingjay*

    Well, that which I predicted has come to pass:

    The various engineering and management teams created their own SharePoint libraries on their subsites (because they could build a ‘better mousetrap,’ not that we needed one) and loaded copies of draft documents all over the place. Duplicates galore. Files are labeled randomly, not following the filename convention. Files are checked out but never checked in. Files are downloaded to desktops to be worked on, then uploaded with a new filename (so now there are two files). People are reviewing the wrong copies. Subfolders within subfolders within subfolders. It’s a mess.

    I just went to my Government Team Lead and calmly informed her that I would not be wasting my time trying to reconcile duplicate documents or find the most current. I phrased it as a process problem. Which it is, I wrote a detailed SOP (approved by the Big Boss) for document management and no one is following it.

    I asked my lead, “what is the value added by the engineering teams managing documents rather than allowing you and I to do it (which is our job in the first place)? Isn’t it better to let us track deliverables during development so they can concentrate on their technical tasks?” She will bring it up next week during the weekly status meeting.

    I’m getting too old for this crap.

    1. Ezri*

      Blarg, I feel your pain. I’ve been getting frantic emails all week from business managers because the army of content creators they manage keep misusing (or ignoring) the library hierarchy we set up (that matches what they specifically asked for). No, a draft file isn’t going to show up unless you publish it. No, we can’t stop them from putting teapot images in the kettle images library if you want them to have access to both, because how is SharePoint going to know the difference between two img files? I mean, we can do *some* things to enforce boundaries in our file system, but training and common sense has to factor in eventually.

      Regardless, any time the library is used incorrectly, we get an email with some header like URGENT ISSUE IMAGE FUNCTIONALITY IS BROKEN, because “user error” is just a developer conspiracy to cover up code issues.

  48. Brett*

    Everyone in our department got official word yesterday from our chain of command that there will be no raises of any type in 2016. We already knew it was unlikely merit raises would be reinstated, but we were at least hoping for some sort of across the board one time raise.
    This is already slowly rumbling into a public controversy because the chief executive hired 3o+ new appointees this year at six figure salaries; enough to have given every other employee a 3%+ raise.

    1. Brett*

      Oh, but he did just send everyone an invite to the Christmas tree lighting…

      Well, he didn’t. His assistant sent it out, as a scanned PDF of a printed out form letter, forwarded directly from the copier it was scanned on. Clearly he cares about his employees, we even get complimentary refreshments!

      (Meanwhile, the tree lighting is 30 minutes after end of work day on a Friday, at a site that is 50 minutes away during rush hour.)

      1. Mockingjay*

        I have an image of an employee filled with good cheer and wassail telling the executives explicitly why they deserve lumps of coal in their stockings…

  49. GlassKey*

    I look forward to reading AAM every day and would now welcome some advice on how to handle the following:
    My best friend, with whom I have the pleasure of working, lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly last weekend, leaving her to raise 3 young children. I am devastated for her and, at her request, communicated the news to staff in our very small department, including our department head (we’ll call him Fergus). Fergus asked me to let him know when my friend was ready for him to share the news with a broader segment of our large organization (he is a VP), which I agreed to do, and we all agreed that we needed to let her have a say in how this was going to be done. A few days later, my friend texted me, said it was ok now for Fergus to send out a message and also asked me to work with one of our co-workers in another department (we’ll call her Ann) to help spread the word to people she knew there. Ann wrote a touching email and sent it out to staff in that department, to which people responded with love and support.

    Fergus went ballistic when he learned that Ann’s email went out before his. Being out of town (he travels a lot), he sent his admin. asst. to deliver message to Ann in person that what she did was inappropriate and out of line because it was his job to send out the announcement, not hers. Ann was so upset she was in tears and she emailed me to tell me what had happened, saying that she was sorry if she had done something wrong but she was just trying to carry out my friend’s request. I immediately contacted Fergus, saying hey, I think there might be a miscommunication here, can we discuss quickly, etc. because I wanted him to know that my friend had specifically asked Ann to do this, but he sent back a terse response saying no, he did not want to discuss it and that his email needed to go out ASAP. He then sent an email to Ann’s boss, referring to Ann as “that idiot,” making her feel even worse.
    Following on the heels of the tragic and sudden death of the sibling of one of my employees, this has been a particularly difficult 2 weeks for everyone and I am so down right now. I get that it’s probably kosher for the head of the employee’s actual department to send out the official announcement, but who really cares in a situation like this since the intent is to rally and provide support? The last thing we need in this situation is more negativity, but I find myself so angry at Fergus for this behavior, and at his admin, who didn’t have enough sense to at least neutralize some of his arrogance before she talked to Ann, that I don’t know what to do. The worst part is that I can’t say I’m 100% surprised by it; Fergus started only about 6 months ago, has exhibited some pretty erratic behavior (not showing up for meetings when he’s supposed to make a presentation, other really weird stuff), and my very limited interactions with him have not gone well. Ann and I have agreed never to tell her any of this but feel like Fergus or his admin will pounce on relaying everything the second she comes back through the door. Any advice on how to get over my frustration or at least channel my anger toward buffering my friend from this nonsense? I thought about requesting a staff meeting next week to clear the air but since Fergus never shows up for those (I know…) it doesn’t seem like a good use of time.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Wow. I don’t even have good advice for you, just sympathy for you, your co-workers and their losses, and Ann! Poor Ann. I have no idea what to do about Fergus (besides brush it off), but that sounds like a nightmare.

      1. GlassKey*

        Yes, I’m tempted to take the sympathy card I bought for my friend and send it to Fergus instead, saying “Sorry you think it’s ok to behave like that.”

    2. Sadsack*

      Sorry about this sad situation. What would a staff meeting accomplish? I’d just wait until Fergus is back in the office, then immediately go see him in person to tell him about your friend’s request. You could also tell him how upset Ann was at his comment, maybe he’ll have the decency to apologize.

      1. GlassKey*

        I would love to and hope I get the opportunity; he’s not in the office very often. The last time I talked to him (about 2 months ago), I asked for 30 seconds of his time to get a yes/no on an important decision and he literally looked at his watch, rolled his eyes, and said, “30 seconds? I doubt that.” (I did it in 20.)

    3. fposte*

      Fergus is a horrible person. I don’t know that you can prevent him from horribling.

      I don’t know how the ranks play out here, but maybe there’s an opportunity to say “I know tragedy hits people funny, but I think we’re risking making this situation about corporate hierarchies and not human connection, and I think that’s a mistake that would loom large to all the staff.”

      1. GlassKey*

        Well said, fposte. That’s a wonderful way to phrase it that I think would resonate well. Thank you.

        1. mander*

          Fergus, in the refrain so often heard on AAM, is an ass.

          I’d go farther and add “hole” to that.

          What kind of jerk takes someone’s tragedy and turns it into a big drama about how they were passed up in the hierarchy? I’m livid on your behalf.

    4. PontoonPirate*

      Honestly, I’d gather whatever emailed communication I have (for example, if Ann is willing to share the “idiot” email) and forward that to whomever is either over Fergus or equal to Fergus, and with whom you have a good rapport. In your forward, I’d simply say, “I recognize it’s a fraught time for us all, but I’m not okay with this.”

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I am pretty sure the other managers (and employees) know how Fergus is. This is a really stupid thing for him to throw a fit over. I don’t think a staff meeting would solve anything.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      If you can, (not sure if I would be able to do this) ask Fergus to write a statement/policy of how he wants announcements like this to be handled in the future. This way everyone will know their roll and what to expect.
      Added points for saying that his show of upset only served to get people even more upset which is never a good thing in a time of loss.

      I worked one place where these announcements came through one person. Half the people knew before the announcement was made. But this was the procedure at any rate. I think that the idea might be to prevent seven people from making the same announcement at the same time.
      Give it a week or so to calm down a tiny bit , then ask him what procedure he would like to use in order to prevent so much upset again.

  50. First time mom, due in Feb*

    Maternity Leave Poll:
    – How many weeks maternity leave did you take?
    – Did you personally feel that it was enough time, in terms of child bonding, care, development, etc. and your own health?
    – What would be your main nugget of advice to first-time moms about maternity leave length?

    1. lulu*

      I took 3 months (unpaid). I felt it was a good amount for me. I was lucky because my husband was on summer break after that, so we didn’t have to put the baby in daycare for another 2 months.
      I would say follow your guts. This seemed right for me, I always knew I would go back to work, but it was important to take enough time off at the beginning. I didn’t ask for inputs from my employer (small business), just told them what my plans were.

    2. Sarah*

      I took 10 weeks which is pretty standard at my office. (None of it was paid though, I had to use a combo of vacation days, sick days and unpaid time off.) My kid was healthy and so was I, which made it easier -it would have been way harder if either of us had any medical issues. I had a hard time going back -tired, emotional, anxious- but once I got over the hump I was okay..

    3. Wonder Woman*

      I ultimately took 16 weeks of leave, 6 weeks before the birth due to health issues (actually it was my terrible job stressing me out so much that my doctor wanted me to rest) and 10 weeks after. I’ve been back at work for two months now. If you can, take at least 12 weeks. The first 3 months of parenthood are hell, but things do start to smooth out around the 3 month mark (at least for us they did).

    4. Bend & Snap*

      I took 12 weeks and it wasn’t nearly enough. I got back to work totally overwhelmed to be around a lot of people, feeling weird to be in real clothes, sweaty and feeling like I had abandoned my baby and was in the complete wrong place. I might have quit if I’d had a choice.

      It got a lot better but the first day was horrible, tearful, wrong.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Oh, I forgot about clothes. I didn’t fit into any of my “real” clothes yet, but maternity clothes didn’t fit me right either anymore. Plan to buy at least a week’s worth of work transition clothes in a size (or 2 or 3) bigger than your previous work size, unless you are one of those people with high metabolisms who loses weight easily – and even then, you might be back to the same number on the scale but find that your shape is different so your regular clothes feel weird. If you are in an environment where dresses are appropriate, wrap dresses (or faux wraps) in a stretchy fabric are good for the transitionary sizes.

        1. Wonder Woman*

          Oh yea, clothes! We were totally broke by the end of my leave (my husband is a stay at home dad) but nothing fit, so I had to run out to Kohls and buy like, 2 pairs of pants and a few blouses just to be able to go to work that first week.

    5. Meg Murry*

      With my first I took a little under 8 weeks, with my second I took 10 or 11 (plus almost 2 weeks before he was born).

      Advice: if possible, go back at less than full time. With my first, I went back once for a monthly meeting to get a feel on what I had missed and a big picture feel for what was going on when he was 6 weeks old, then to the weekly (more detailed) team meeting when he was 7 weeks old and to start going through my emails plus one other day that week, then I was back to full-full time at 8 weeks. I wish I could have afforded to take more, but it was mostly unpaid and my department was understaffed, so I knew that after the first few weeks no one else would be picking up the slack, everything would just be waiting for me – so I could either catch up on 4 weeks of work backlog, or take more [unpaid] time but have to catch up on even more backlog.

      If you can’t go back part time, have your first day back be a Wednesday, Thursday or even Friday, and don’t make plans to do anything that first weekend back other than catch up on household stuff like laundry and sleep, because you’ll probably be exhausted.

      Unless you get something more than standard American FMLA, make sure you don’t use up all your vacation/sick time for maternity leave – babies get sick often, and then make you sick, and you will need quite a few days that first year. That’s why I went back at 10/11 weeks – our FMLA time was also our “sick” time – and I needed it, because sure enough baby got sick by my 2nd week back, and then I caught it on my 3rd week – so I wound up working only 3 days a week for my first week back.

      Honestly, neither of those times were quite enough to be recovered, only enough to not be 100% exhausted and still clueless about caring for a baby- especially if breastfeeding. Most breastfed babies go through a growth spurt where they want to nurse all night long for 2-3 days straight at 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 12 weeks – so going back to work around 12 weeks and dealing with several sleepless nights is so freaking exhausting. For the first few weeks I pretty much went straight to bed as soon as I got home from work and ate something, so that I could get some, any kind of sleep. I also napped during lunch on the worst days.

    6. TB*

      I took six weeks off completely, and for the next six weeks I worked one day a week. I think easing back into things was a good idea. This was before most people could easily access work email from home, so it would be different today.

    7. Ann O'Nemity*

      Thanks for asking this! I’m also planning on taking maternity leave soon so I’m curious about everyone’s experiences. I plan to take 12 weeks.

      And I’m forced to use all my PTO during FMLA, as per company policy. Financially that’s going to help us, but I’m not super excited about going back to work with zero available PTO. My husband will trying to save up his PTO, knowing that he’ll be on sick baby duty until I’m able to accrue more PTO.

    8. J.B.*

      8 weeks with the first, husband was on leave for 2 weeks after that. Not enough and we had major sleep issues so I was pretty much hallucinating for a while. I was trying too hard for the first kid and was going crazy while out.

      12 weeks with the second, followed by husband taking 11 weeks. Worked much better and we really prioritized my sleep – husband on duty for the first half of the night so I could get as close as possible to a 5 hour stretch. It was much saner. This being the second kid I was much more relaxed and enjoyed holding the baby while watching tv.

      Nugget – your sleep has value. If you can’t get the baby to sleep on his or her own, don’t feel guilty about lying down together for a nap. Get as close to one 5 hour stretch at night as you can. If you are breastfeeding, keep in mind what my midwife said: “breastfeeding is great, but you need sleep! One bottle won’t ruin it.” In fact, bottles generally are your friends.

    9. Cube Farmer*

      With my first, I took the six weeks allotted me. It went by too quickly; but I still feel like we had time for bonding.

      With my second, I took off 10 DAYS. Had her on a Thursday, went back to work the second Monday. All leave was unpaid and with one child with leukemia and me being the only one bringing in an income, I had to return to work. I pumped at work and breast fed at home. I don’t think we bonded any less though. She is 15 now and rolls her eyes at me and thinks I’m “UNFAIR!!” like most teenage girls do.

      Best of luck with your new love!

    10. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      Three uncomplicated deliveries
      Returned at 6 weeks, 6 weeks and 8 weeks. I was paid using sick and vacation time. I would have preferred longer and have an employer where that would have been possible–the issue was my partner/relationship.
      Medically, I felt recovered but emotionally I was not ready to separate from my babies. I remember the first day back so clearly that to this day, I am still careful to be extra supportive to new moms in their first days back.
      Breastfeeding was challenging but I still managed to nurse and pump for 10-12 months for each of them.
      As others have suggested, I would recommend that you not use every last drop of leave that you may have in order to take any needed time off in the first year of your baby’s life. And I love the idea of easing back in with a limited schedule at first.
      Oh! and the most important thing–the kids and I all turned out fine despite a less than ideal start.

    11. Kyrielle*

      I took all 12 I was entitled to by FMLA, about 6-8 weeks of it paid via stored vacation and short term disability, both times. Canada does a year for a reason and I feel like 12 weeks is already quite short. I needed over 6 weeks to recover from the first (not a C-section, but due to some rare things you shouldn’t worry about, I needed extra healing time), with the second it was more like a week (also not a C-section, obviously).

      Also, most day care centers won’t take a child before 6-8 weeks and, immunization and otherwise, I feel like they’re a little sturdier by about 8 weeks than earlier. One thing I did that worked really well for me is that I started a graduated approach to day care at 8 weeks with both boys – they went in for a few hours one day, then for a whole day, then for two days the next week. It was partially to let them adapt, and the centers to get to know them, but also to let ME adapt to the change and get used to – and get some down time to be _me_ and not _mom_ at home, before I went back to work. It let me catch up on sleep, and on non-sleep “restedness” if that makes sense.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I should add that I live in a state – Oregon – where I was best off taking all 12 weeks. OFLA _also_ authorizes 12 weeks and runs concurrently with FMLA for parental leave, but OFLA also provides: “(3) An eligible employee taking the entire 12 weeks of OFLA leave authorized by ORS 659A.162 (1) for parental leave may take an additional 12 weeks of sick child leave within the same leave year. If the employee uses less than 12 weeks of parental leave, however, no additional sick child leave is available, except that the balance of the 12 weeks of OFLA leave authorized by ORS 659A.162 may be used for sick child leave or for any OFLA leave purpose. ”

        Note that this means that had I taken 8 weeks, I could have had 4 weeks for sick child leave; because I took 12, I could have up to 12 weeks for sick child leave. So I took my full 12 weeks of parental leave. (I didn’t end up needing much time off, my modified schedule made it easy to work things out without missing time from a week, but.)

        So: make sure you know any specially applicable laws in your locale, and how they apply!

    12. New Mom*

      I had my first baby in June and took 6 weeks leave. The delivery was uncomplicated so that is when I was medically cleared. I was actually really ready to go back but there was the super strange feeling of wanting to be both places simultaneously. My biggest advice would be first to do a practice run and second to go back midweek. The week before I went back, I started getting up at work time even if I had to nap later. Two days before going back I actually got up at work time, got ready, and left the house. I was only gone a few hours but it made the first morning less hectic. And if you are planning to pump I would start early and have baby take a bottle once a day to get used to it.

    13. BatterUp*

      I was put out on disability due to pregnancy complications 8 weeks pre birth, and then I took 4 months off after- all of it was covered by state disability and paid family leave (I live in CA).

      I wish I had taken a lot longer off- but at the time, I felt that if I stayed out longer, I would screw myself out of a deserved promotion (which I ended up being screwed out of anyway). So, that would be my best piece of advice… take as long as you can/want to. Looking back, 4 months was definitely not long enough, especially as I was very much struggling with postpartum depression, my husband had taken a new more stressful/longer hours job, and my darling daughter was a very poor sleeper. I had never had issues