open thread – December 11, 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 :)

{ 1,240 comments… read them below }

  1. Lucky*

    Are any of my fellow AAM hive French Canadian?

    In my new position, I am occasionally working with clients and outside vendors in Quebec, and I’ve already found it a bit of a culture shift. For instance, les Canadiens address me as Mrs. rather than Ms. as the translation of Mme (madame), and are much more formal in correspondence. Are there any other cultural competencies I should know? Or, does anyone know of a good resource for cultural competency in business, specifically addressing French-speaking Canada? Merci milles fois, confreres.

    I’ve reactivated my DuoLingo account to try to refresh my memory of college French – both so I can speak directly with any non-bilingual Quebecois and so I don’t need to rely on others/Google to translate. I am crossing my fingers for a work trip to Montreal so I can fill up on poutine and Tim Hortons.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      You may want to see if you can find a specifically Quebecois resource for brushing up on your French, because the accent is much different and people will notice (and occasionally find it hard–my coworker is from Lyons and has had a number of Quebecois tell her they find her difficult to understand!) And many of the vocabulary choices are different as well.

    2. katamia*

      Seconding looking at specifically Quebecois resources. Quebec-based newspapers should be a good source for written (I say “should” because I learned a mix of French-French and African French and have never really tried to learn Quebecois, although when I was on vacation in Quebec I found most people easier to understand than actual French people for some reason), and for spoken, TV shows/movies would be good. If you’re in the US (and I assume Canada, but I don’t actually know), some French-language dubs on DVD are actually Quebecois rather than French-French, so you could try watching the French dub of movies you’re familiar with.

    3. Anoners*

      I grew up in a bilingual area and I really don’t think there’s too many cultural differences to worry about. Mainly the Quebecois are REALLY into French being the primary language and preserving it at all costs. Also seconding Former Diet Coke Addicts note. I did French immersion on the east coast, and my accent is way different from most French speakers from Quebec, but they can still completely understand me. I didn’t really use french for about 10 years, but I found the French for Dummies book really helped bring it all back.

      1. lulu*

        I think having greetings/basic small talk in French, even if most of the business talk is in English, shows that you’re sensitive to their culture and making an effort.

    4. KathyGeiss*

      I work in both Ontario and Quebec and there are significant differences in my industry. I don’t speak French (and rely on our team in province and translators) but the biggest differences to me isn’t language, it’s industry-specific and cultural. I can’t give good examples without revealing too much but be aware that your QC clients/customers may have different preferences when it comes to support, communication, etc. I learned this over the course of several years and never made any hugely significant blunders.

      Good luck! It’s fun working in different types of markets.

    5. Jules the First*

      Well, you’re right to say that they’re more formal than your Anglo colleagues – always Mr/Mrs until invited to call them something more formal (I’ve worked with one guy for ten years and he still calls me Mme First, even when others in the room are all ‘hey Jules, what up?!’).

      Apologise for your French (even if it’s very good) – it will get you a lot of slack. Google Translate is quite good at getting the first draft together, but you should edit it quite firmly to make sure it’s accurate. If you’re not in Quebec, no one will expect you to have the local slang or dialect down – just query when you don’t follow, and blame it on your ‘poor’ language skills.

      In terms of brushing up on vocabulary, google ‘le grand dictionnaire terminologique’ which is an online dictionary of the ‘official’ translations of a ton of words and phrases which are applicable in business but not necessarily covered in your college French classes, and I swear by verb2verbe for suggesting just the right verb and how to conjugate it appropriately when you’re stuck (I can’t count how many times it has rescued me from an hour’s inner debate over -ions and -ons)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, I sometimes had to talk to people in Quebec at Exjob, and I found if I called and opened with “Bonjour,” they would immediately start speaking French and then I was lost! I would then have to say, “Je suis desole; ma Francais et tres mal,” and they would laugh and switch to English.

        I might take some of these hints, however. I didn’t get very far in college and I’d like to learn French. :)

        1. Abhorsen327*

          I was always really fond of the Bonjour-Hi greeting that used to be standard in Montreal. Unfortunately, it’s becoming less and less common nowadays (businesses now have to operate primarily in French…)

          1. Cristina in England*

            I love and miss “bonjour hi”! I am sad to hear it is less often used now. I also love “merci bye”.

          2. super anon*

            in my old province the standard phone greeting was “hello – bonjour” to indicate you spoke both english and french. i miss that a bit now that i’m on the other coast.

    6. thunderbird*

      The French language comes with formal and informal (tu/toi or vous), and nowadays you will always get Mme. (vs Mlle) with modern society it is less about differentiating a married vs. unmarried woman, and now is more general to all adult women. Also, Quebecois is different from international French, but you can still communicate fluidly, there just might be some variance in terminology.

    7. StudentPilot*

      I’m the only anglophone (English speaker) on my team at work and one thing to be aware of is that they often start sentences with ‘but’ when they mean ‘well…’ it’s a mistranslation of one of their fillers. It took me a bit took realize that they weren’t arguing!

      1. mander*

        My Spanish colleague often says “the question is…” when he means “well…”. It’s quite cute.

    8. Viktoria*

      I’m not French Canadian (or any kind of Canadian) but before leaving my old job, I had the chance to work for 2 separate workweeks in Montreal. I LOVED it, despite traveling in a dreadful ice storm in January. Had I stayed at that company, I think I would have gotten opportunities to travel there more after establishing myself as the French speaker of the team.

      My job included extensive interviewing of factory employees and neither I nor my employer had realized that the majority of them in fact ONLY spoke French fluently, so I ended up conducting most interviews in French. I translated and wrote out my interview questions in advance, and even with my rusty college France-French, they didn’t have any trouble understanding me. I did have monumental difficulty understanding some of them though. A laughing apology for my bad French was all it took for them to very patient and accommodating with me. I used Duolingo to refresh myself a little bit beforehand, as well as trying to conduct as much of non-work interaction as I could in French. (Greeting the hotel concierge in French, asking questions in French, etc.). I also listened to local radio while I was there to try and get a feel for the sound of the language.

      Anyway, I’m a bit jealous, have fun! I hope you get to make that business trip, Montreal is gorgeous.

      1. Abhorsen327*

        Regarding the monumental difficulty understanding quebecois french: oh my gosh yes. In general, I have a poor ear for languages, but even after years of living in Montreal and having francophone friends, nearly every time someone would speak, all I heard was a string of sounds that I could. not. parse. at. all.

    9. Abhorsen327*

      Having lived in Montreal for eight years while at school, I’m seconding others’ notes that Quebec French is very different from France French. Duolingo will help you with grammar and some vocabulary, but will be next to useless for pronunciation and region-specific vocab / slang. I personally found it much easier to pick up written French than spoken. A lot of the francophones in Montreal are bilingual, and I found that many preferred to switch to English rather than the slow-paced and simple French I needed in order to understand.

      Montreal itself is a very bilingual city – there are whole sections that are practically anglophone-only. As a geographic guide, generally the farther west you go in the city (the west island, Westmount, Notre-Dame de Grace…) the more anglophone it is. Downtown is reasonably bilingual, and to the east and north/south of the city it’s much more strongly francophone. St-Denis street acts as a rough dividing line – east of it, expect French to be dominant. If you brush up on your written French, it’s extremely easy to get by without any spoken French at all (I managed it for 8 years……). Even Quebec City is pretty navigable in English, due to tourism from the rest of Canada. Outside of those two areas, generally bilingualism is not as common.

    10. Anonsie*

      That’s funny, I was just telling someone yesterday that my impression of people from around there (after dealing with my own family branch from Montreal and Saint Regis initially and now noticing it in other people as well) is that they are quite quick to call people out when they think you’re wrong somehow. Couldn’t tell you if that’s a wholly accurate assessment though.

  2. JPP*

    I’m a department head where I work. I feel like I never have enough work to do, while my employees always talk about how busy they are. I ask how I can help, but nobody takes me up on it. I’m running out of ways to look busy at work. How do I gently get them to delegate work back to me without upsetting anyone?

    1. Dawn*

      If you’re managing all of these employees directly, are you having 1:1 meetings with them on a recurring basis (either every week or every other week) so you can stay up to date on everything they’re working on? If not, that’d be a good place to start. Then if someone comes in complaining of being super busy you can work directly with them to either re-distribute their work to someone else you know has the bandwith or you can step in and take some stuff of their plate for yourself.

      Also maybe I’m reading into this too much but “gently get them to delegate work back to me without upsetting anyone”- hey, you’re their MANAGER, you can manage them and tell them what you want them to do!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        This. My direct reports are often reluctant to hand things off to me when they’re busy, so I ask them regularly what’s on their plate and tell them “give that job to me for today” when it makes sense for them to do so.

        1. NJ Anon*

          Same here. I keep explaining that we are a team and it’s no reflection on them if workload needs to get shifted from time to time.

        2. Lisa*

          This is great advice, but maybe approach it as ‘what can i take off your plate?’ or ‘if you could make someone else do 1 thing, what would you let them do for you?’

          There are some tasks that I want to do, and others that i don’t. Better to ask than take away the one thing someone was looking forward to.

    2. Rat Racer*

      I was in a similar situation when I first started my job. As I got more deeply entrenched in my role, I started to see gaps in what my department was producing and opportunities for more efficient processes. Basically, I started creating my own work. Are you new to this role? If so, these kinds of opportunities may make themselves known to you over time…

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        This is where I found I was the most helpful. But spending time looking at what my team was spending time on, and finding a way to collect data rather than anecdotes, I was able to add staff and push through process changes.

        I spent a lot of time observing, which I had to handle with kid gloves and a lot of “I’m learning, not monitoring” conversations.

        I was also able to stop some “oh hell no” things other departments had foisted on my team when they didn’t have a department head.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Same here. The established members of my new team were so overwhelmed for so long that they were just in survival mode all the time. That made it very difficult for them to hand things off to me and the new team members. We didn’t yet know the systems like they did and they were so busy they felt they couldn’t stop for even a few minutes to get us going on something. Eventually they eased up and things started falling into place, but it took a long time still before they would hand anything to me as the manager. I think maybe there was a sense that they would be seen as “less than” if they couldn’t handle the entire workload themselves. And I think they saw me as the one who’s supposed to be doing all the higher level stuff, which is true, but I’m also expected, and do expect, to jump in and help with certain things. Anyway, during that time when I wasn’t handling much day-to-day stuff, I spent a lot of time putting new processes into place, tweaking old ones, writing procedures, and getting ready for the regulatory exam, which we just finished up with. I also spent time learning more about the systems we use and learning how certain tasks are done.

    3. Jerzy*

      Your employees are probably not going to feel comfortable to ask you take on specific tasks. You might be better off saying something like, “Hey, I know you’re pretty swamped right now, and I know you’re capable of doing X, Y and Z, but I’ve got some availability, and can take X off your hands. It’ll give you more time to work on Y and Z, which is really where I want you putting your energy right now anyway.”

      1. JPP*

        That’s a great way to put it, thanks. I’ve already started doing this to an extent – we work in public-facing roles where part of their day is serving the public and the other part is in the office working on tasks. I’ve started scheduling them for more office time while I take on more of the service time. It seems to be appreciated so far.

        1. overeducated and underemployed*

          That already sounds great to me. My role is also part public, part office, and the public part is pretty repetitive, whereas the office tasks are often more varied or give room to develop skills. One of the big morale issues in another department is that the supervisors will often do the opposite – take the interesting background tasks for themselves, and assign staff more front line time – and it IS a morale issue because it makes the staff feel like cogs in a wheel.

        2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          That’s a great start, and a good way to apply what you’ve observed.

          Since you’re new, I’d like to offer a few pieces of advice:
          1) Don’t take on too much of your direct reports’ work that it prevents you from doing your work. You’ll need to focus on management, but you may still be driven to work in execution. You may find yourself stuck, not growing your management skills, while your employees begin to lose sight of the manager part of your relationship to them.

          2) Talk with your employees about delegation and plan to initiate that conversation. The power dynamic with you as the manager prevents the direct report from asking for help, especially with tasks they should know how to do. It doesn’t occur to many non-management employees that delegation is an option.

          3) Look at opportunities for cross-training your employees so they know more about the various tasks and empower them to work as a team to complete the back-office stuff rather than as a group of individuals who happen to work together.

        3. Student*

          I have always been incredibly uncomfortable with asking a boss to do some of my work. It’s not because of the boss himself, it’s because of the power dynamic. It feels like a failure to do my job if I ask the boss to do it himself, and I worry that it may be perceived as insubordination.

          Perhaps you need to look harder at how tasks are delegated and prioritized, to ensure that your employees are not overloaded while you are under-tasked?

      2. The Other Dawn*

        That’s what I did, too. I just kept repeating it until they felt comfortable with giving me some tasks. I made sure to tell them often that I had some time to work on X and that it wasn’t a burden.

    4. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      As someone who is perpetually busy, a lot of times it’s easier for me to just do, rather than stop and explain to someone what I am trying to do and how I need them to execute it.

      I’ve gotten pretty good over the years of delegating and pushing back on tasks that shouldn’t be mine (constructing teapots when I’m a teapot plan designer).

      The most helpful thing my boss has done when she notices I am at capacity, is look at the outside pushes on my time. Hearing, “Hey, I know your busy, would you like to skip X meeting?”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Work flows vary at different companies. Can you cut off a slice of new work as it comes in and not let it get distributed to your people? Alternatively, can you set yourself up with a second work area that you use for doing regular department work? This could be as simple as a small desk or small table in your office or in a common work area.
      The thing that is nice about the second work area is that you can tell people to leave things there and you will work on them. Let’s say you decide that you are going to take over all Xs, you don’t get many in and it’s enough to fill up some time for you. People can leave things relevant to X on your second work area table/desk as they come across these things. I found it very easy to say, “I am going to being doing Xs just to get them out of your way. So anything regarding X you can just place here and I will handle it.” It’s surprising how quickly people can get used to dropping something off!

    6. Rookie Biz Chick*

      If you are charged with annual goals, biz planning updates, forecasting, etc, perhaps you can take this time for departmental strategic planning? Certainly check in on staff workload as others have brilliantly noted, but maybe you can shift your focus a bit to brainstorming initiatives to move your department forward.

      Also, how does your company culture view busy-ness? Are these peeps legitimately way busy, or touting the busy-ness because that’s what’s impressive and rewarded? If so, is there a way to rework that culture in your group? {I know – easier said than done!}

  3. CrazyCatLady*

    I’ve worked mostly at small companies where my performance isn’t specifically measured, I don’t have anyone else doing the same job as me, and my superiors also don’t do my job (let’s say I do all the procurement, am the only person there who does it, and my manager is operations manager but has never done procurement). How do you know if you’re great at your job, or just good enough to not get fired? I do get feedback, but since it’s coming from people who haven’t set any concrete goals, it’s hard for me to evaluate the validity of the feedback.

    1. Amber T*

      Same here. My company is small and doesn’t have formal performance reviews. A friend of mine who works for a huge accounting firm discussed how she just pushed back on her review and got it changed from a 4 to a 5, and while I’m proud of her for standing up for herself… I had no idea what she was talking about. My last two reviews (with my third coming up next week) have consisted of “the partners think you’re doing great, here’s your raise and bonus.” Of course, I get to have discussions with my manager and other colleagues frequently about what I’ve done, what I will be doing, how I’m performing, etc.

      I don’t think goals and feedback need to go hand in hand. With smaller companies, you have the benefit of your manager and other uppers seeing you and what you’re doing more often. If you can, I’d sit down with your manager and talk about a project you’ve done in the past year and say something like: “This year, I completed X by doing Y. I’m proud of the way it turned out (or: I think it could have been better if I did Z instead), but I’d love to hear some feedback.” Or, introduce the idea of feedback in the coming year like: “This year, I want to tackle X. I’m thinking of handling by doing Y. Can we schedule some time in (date) to discuss my progress?” If all else fails, be direct with your manager: “I think I’m doing a good job, but I’m always looking for areas of improvement. Can you tell me what skills you think I should work on this coming year?”

      I think, and I could be wrong, one of the reasons huge firms have more strict evaluations is to make sure underperformers don’t slip through the cracks and just go along for the ride. Management has the ability to keep a closer eye on you in a small firm, so strict evaluations aren’t quite necessary. I think if you were in danger of underperforming to the point of getting fired, you’d hear about it somehow.

    2. fposte*

      Do you set annual goals and targets and self-assess? You can’t guarantee anything, but if you can set your own goals and happily share with people how much you kicked ass, that can go a long way to selling people on the value of a job they don’t know much about.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        I set goals and track my achievements. They already seem to think I’m doing a great job. Sometimes I think I am doing an amazing job at so much but then I wonder if that opinion would be shared at a larger, more structured company.

        1. fposte*

          This sounds like you’re looking for ways to declare your work insufficient despite evidence to the contrary. How about just admitting you’re doing good work that’s valuable to your company?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. I hope you aren’t expecting every day to be a superstar day. Some days we knock it out of the park and other days we just tread water and barely keep our noses above the waterline. And when you are good at your job this is how it looks from week to week. No one is a superstar every day at work.
            Why. Well, in part because if you are willing to take on difficult tasks those days can be the barely treading water days. While you are focused on “how the heck am I going to accomplish THIS?” The boss is busy saying, “Oh, thank god, I do not have to deal with that mess. CCL will figure it out and at some point get back to me.” The boss is satisfied with any answer because she is aware that the options were limited, supply was short and so on. While you are downing yourself, she is giving you gold stars. It’s all a matter of perspective.

            Don’t raise your ideals up so high they cannot be found anywhere on planet earth. A solution can be less than ideal and still be very good solution.

    3. Jules the First*

      What feedback are you getting from external sources? For example, do suppliers ask a lot of questions or are they happy that your procurement requests are clear? What do the hired suppliers have to say about the process? Are these contracts profitable/cost effective?

      Another option is to network professionally and find out what your peers are doing…which gives you a feel for what you should be doing if you are awesome at your job. The higher you get in an organisation, the less you get feedback from people who understand your job and the more you have to find ways to benchmark your own performance.

    4. Susan*

      I could have left this exact same comment. I work in a media team but am the only Web person (I do everything from sever management to Web development). My manager has himself said he has no idea on how to gauge my success and rarely checks in with me but says I’m doing a good job. So I’m chugging along, doing my thing. As a friend once told me, silence means acceptance.

  4. petpet*

    I’m so angry at my boss I don’t know what to do. I’m terribly underemployed (I have a master’s in teapot design but I’m currently working as a Teapot Assistant 2), and I approached my boss over a YEAR ago about promoting me to Teapot Assistant 3. He agreed that my work is at that level and said we’d discuss it further in March or April. Finally in June, he told me he had management approval to submit my promotion paperwork and that it’d take “a couple months.” He submitted it in early September, so I was expecting a decision from HR around now. I just found out that that “submission” was a casual back and forth with one person, and it didn’t get officially submitted until this week. And now that HR officially has it, it’ll likely take months for them to render a decision. The best part is that because this is a “manager-led” promotion, the union timelines don’t apply, so I can’t do anything to hurry it up. I had no idea that I had the option of filling out the paperwork myself, which I would have done back in June instead of waiting until December.

    I feel incredibly frustrated and misled by my boss, but he has no idea how upset I am because I don’t think I can talk to him about this without crying. I have a performance review on Tuesday, and I’m not worried about the review itself, but I don’t know how it’s going to go when I don’t even want to look at him right now. Yesterday I was handed a big design project and I’m feeling incredibly bitter about working on it. I’ve been speaking to a union rep, who’s been able to clarify some things for me and talk to HR, but she says now we just need to wait for HR to make a decision. Anyone have any advice on how to feel better or talk to my boss about this? I’ve been desperately applying for other jobs since I got here 2.5 years ago, but I haven’t even gotten an interview yet.

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      Oh man, I’m sorry. I’m glad you have the weekend to cool down before your performance review. Maybe do the thing where you write out all the things you WANT to say to your boss for the sake of catharsis, sit on it over the weekend, and then throw it out and write out the things you think you actually can say.

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      When I get upset and can’t speak rationally about it, I use the “When you did X, I felt Y.” Maybe take the weekend to cry it out and then talk to him about how important this is to you & how frustrated you are, when you’re reasonably sure you have the tear works under control.

      Also, your boss sucks. I was a sucky boss (until I accepted another job in which I don’t have a team) and what would have worked for me is repeated reminders. Have you submitted X for me yet? What’s the status on my request for X? Has HR responded on X yet?

      At least now it IS in the works. Good luck. I hope there is happiness in your future.

      1. petpet*

        I do have some calmly-phrased things I think I can reasonably say to him, but I get flustered really easily and cry at the drop of a hat, so I’m not sure how to actually say them without getting too emotional.

        I started checking in with him way back in April, and I’ve repeatedly asked him for updates. He recently forwarded me a pretty damning email chain between him and our HR contact, which shows explicitly that’s he just been dragging his feet.

        1. JMegan*

          Do you have someone you can role-play with over the weekend? See if you can get someone to play the part of your boss, and try out all sorts of different scenarios for how this conversation might go, so you can plan – and practice! – your response.

          Also, your boss sucks. :(

    3. misspiggy*

      You could say you’ve discovered that you could have done the paperwork yourself and taken that off his hands, and you’d like him to help you understand why he didn’t ask you to do that and speed up the process. If he fudges, you could ask him calmly whether there’s any reason he feels it would be better if your promotion came later rather than sooner – are there budget impacts on him, for example? And then ask him if there’s anything that can be done to speed up the decision by HR, so that you’re better motivated to take on all the unpaid extra responsibility of the new design project. If he can’t offer anything, ask him if there’s anything he could suggest as recognition for you taking on so much extra responsibility unpaid.

      None of this may get you very far, except to establish that both your boss and organisation are asses (it shouldn’t take that long for HR to review promotions, for example). But that may at least encourage you to double down on getting out and up.

      1. petpet*

        Yeah, I’ve had previous points where I felt that I had to say something to him, but I ended up not doing it because I feel that it won’t accomplish anything. I can’t actually make him or HR promote me on a reasonable timeline, so sitting him down to tell him how unhappy I am feels unproductive. But I’m so, so unhappy. I don’t think there’s any recognition to be had – I’ve been working on design projects for more than a year now; this current project just happens to be particularly big and complex. I work for a state university, so there’s no possibility of a bonus or anything like that, so at most all I’ll get from him is empty words.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          I think you can indicate that you’re glad it’s happening, but a little frustrated and disappointed that it took 9 months. And that going forward, you’d like to be more proactive in advancing your career, where possible (ie, filling out the paperwork yourself, etc.).

          Unfortunately, this is an example that nobody cares about your career as much as you do–and unfortunately, you don’t always have the ability (or the knowledge) to push things forward. I hope HR doesn’t drag its collective feet, too.

        2. OhNo*

          At this point, it sounds like it’s not even about getting any tangible recognition – you just need him to acknowledge (to you or just to himself) that this was a bad thing to drag his feet on and it had a really negative impact on you.

          Honestly, I would follow misspiggy’s script almost exactly. Yes, you already know that nothing’s likely to come of it, but it’s still worth saying. Laying it out like that is more likely to make your boss realize that he messed up pushing this promotion back, and there’s not really anything he can do to make it up to you in the current structure. (Ideally he’d take that realization and push for the promotion or some kind of recognition, citing the fact that if they don’t they’re likely to lose you, but who knows whether he’ll do that.)

          1. OhNo*

            Also, side note: any chance you’re in a library? Because boy do I know a lot of people in my line of work with this exact problem: taking a job below their education level, and having a really hard time getting their bosses to move on promotions (either because they’d have to be paid more, and libraries don’t like spending money, or because their bosses realize that promoting them increases their chances of finding a job at their education level and leaving).

            Basically, I know a lot of people in your position. It sucks a lot, and I’m really sorry you have to deal with this, especially if it’s making you so stressed that you want to cry.

            1. petpet*

              Nailed it. I got my MLS in May of 2013. When I cry, it’s not so much stress as sadness that my career is in such a shitty place. This isn’t where I thought I’d end up after grad school. It’s good to know I’m not alone, so thanks for sympathizing.

              I think you’re right that I just want him to acknowledge that he’s wronged me. He doesn’t seem to get it and it feels like he thinks I’m asking to be promoted just for funsies.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                FWIW, I think that the situation with the boss is a symptom of this larger concern that you feel your career is in such a crappy place to begin with. In other words, if everything else had been fine right along, this would have been a tad bit easier to roll with.

                Talking to your boss might be a good step, but you may want to look at other things you to see if you can move your career along in some manner. Maybe if you started making a list of other things you can look into first, it might be easier to talk to your boss after that. (Just writing that list can be a release of sorts- it does not have to be long- maybe two or three doable ideas.) And yeah, if it were me, I would use the weekend to have a good cry. Sometimes stuff just piles up and letting go of some tears is what we have to do.

                1. petpet*

                  Yeah, it’s not just that it’s been taking a long time – I also feel really pathetic that even after the promotion goes through, I’ll still just be a Teapot Assistant, which is WAY below what I envisioned doing after grad school. I’ve been applying for other openings, but there aren’t very many around here. I do have two applications due at the end of the month that I’m working on, and I recently bought Alison’s job guide so I’ve been reading that as well. Hopefully that makes a difference this time.

                  I’m waaay ahead of you on the crying.

    4. K*

      It sounds like you’re really stressed out. Though not the same, I felt very similar toward the end of university when I had a become really fed up with the program, the incompetent teachers and the feeling that I was wasting my time. I felt like what was expected of us was not realistic given the problems of the program and shortcomings of the teachers and I was really stressed out, like I was paying for university, wasting my time in class and having to spend the rest of the time trying to teach myself what my teachers weren’t. At the end of the day, I didn’t feel supported by my teachers or faculty and when I had to have a serious discussion with any of them about my frustrations I DID cry, which wasn’t productive. Crying about a delayed promotion will probably haunt you at this job for a long time. If I was you I wouldn’t discuss this with your boss until you can come to terms with your stress and what’s really the root of it. Why does it make you want to cry? Are you frustrated because you feel your boss undervalues you? Is this self imposed stress and expectations about where you feel you should be in your career that you’re projecting onto your boss? Were you proactive about following up with him and communicating the importance of this? He may be rather shocked if you had a outburst about how long its taken if he was unaware. You may want to frame your conversation with him from a “How can we improve our communication with each other?” perspective and take all of the emotion and blame out of it to help you keep your emotions in check.

      1. petpet*

        Everything about this job makes me want to cry. When I took it, I truly thought it’d be a temporary stopgap until I was able to find a design job. It has very little to do with what I went to graduate school for, and I’m making very little money while sitting on a mountain of student loans. I’m the lowest-ranking employee in our branch and my morale is in the gutter. The job is incredibly tedious and boring, and even the design projects I work on aren’t what I really want to do – my department does spout design for tea drinkers when I really want to do pattern design for coffee drinkers. Nothing about this job is satisfying but I thought if I at least got a title and pay bump for all the hard work I do I’d feel a little better. Instead, I keep getting told “it’ll be a couple of months” until my promotion goes through, and now it’s about to be 2016 with no promotion in sight. I really thought I’d have some extra money to buy my family decent Christmas presents this year.

        1. K*

          I’m really sorry. I know the frustration of being in something that you know is a bad fit. I did an design undergraduate for landscape architecture and now I do admin/AR at an architecture firm which doesn’t always sit well with me. You are not alone! I think all you can do is be proactive on the things you can do yourself to better or change your situation, so you don’t get stuck spending so much of your mental energy being frustrated with what your boss isn’t doing. It will get better.

    5. themmases*

      I’m sorry, that is really crappy. I think this is an opportunity to step back and find a healthy level of investment in this job that reflects their level of investment in you.

      Unless you pursued it and assured your company you’d be happy in a job you are overqualified for, companies that do this are telling you something about themselves. It’s great to have job descriptions and advancement procedures in theory, but they don’t amount to much in practice if the company makes a habit of bringing people in at positions way below their qualifications. I once worked at a place that put out an ad for someone with a master’s degree to be an entry-level (no college degree required), part-time, contingency, summer-only research assistant. It was just the most egregious example of a pattern of trying to bring in expert-level people at miserable levels of pay and recognition, and it burned me too when I should have been promoted. We had a formal ladder, but that hire would never be around long enough to use it. Even if they had been, they’d spend years climbing to the rung they were operating at back when they were hired. Crappy places like that can be a great place to start your career and find stretch projects– as long as you really understand that your reward will come at some other company, not there.

      You know you can’t really trust your boss now and while that’s infuriating at first, it can help you detach later. Stop taking what they say at face value, don’t treat their sponsorship or approval as the way to advance anymore, and if you really want something, double-check them. You can ask them if HR can speed this up since they apparently knew about your application long before they had it in hand, but it doesn’t sound like your boss can be trusted to push for that no matter what they say to your face. I’m sorry; at least you will have a promotion on your resume now while you continue to look.

      1. petpet*

        Yeah, the entire structure of how my company employs people makes no sense to me. My job was advertised as requiring “some college” but I know that they only interviewed people with a design master’s. My coworker, who also has her master’s, is the lead designer for our department and has been here for 8 years, but she was only recently promoted to Teapot Professional, which is NOT the same as Teapot Designer and doesn’t pay as well. There are a bunch of Teapot Designers in a different department that do very high-level work, while the people who do what I think of as actual design are all classed as Teapot Professionals. (And then beneath them, there are the lowly Assistants like me.) It makes very little sense to me and I really hope I can get out of here soon.

      2. Doriana Gray*

        Crappy places like that can be a great place to start your career and find stretch projects– as long as you really understand that your reward will come at some other company, not there.

        You know you can’t really trust your boss now and while that’s infuriating at first, it can help you detach later. Stop taking what they say at face value, don’t treat their sponsorship or approval as the way to advance anymore, and if you really want something, double-check them.

        All of this. The law firm I used to work at was notorious for hiring overqualified people to work in their Client Services department (I was one of them), and then when we put in transfer requests to work in different areas of the firm more in line with our qualifications (think paralegals requesting transfers to a paralegal position), we were routinely denied. It happened to me twice. Still, I volunteered to do work for other departments (including the paralegals) during peak work periods, kicked ass at everything I did, updated my resume and then rolled out to a better paying position at my current company (got myself a 32% raise with the move). And because management at the firm routinely blocked my advancement opportunities when I asked for them, I felt no guilt about walking out the door.

        All this to say, keep your head up, petpet. Things will work out for you in the end of you just stay focused on your end game.

    6. Sualah*

      Maybe try asking HR if, once the promotion is approved, if it can be retroactive? My sister worked for a company where they “level set” everyone in March and the whole department received raises first pay period in April. Her manager never submitted the paperwork. When he finally did get around to it in September, they got pay back to when the paperwork was dated, which was the date March. Maybe they would do that.

      1. petpet*

        That’s another facet of this whole thing – last week, I discovered that once the promotion is approved, I get back pay starting when the paperwork was first submitted. I was angry because if I’d known I could fill it out myself, I’d have submitted it in June instead of waiting until September, so I felt my boss had cheated me out of three months of back pay. I spoke to a union rep and she said I could try to argue for those three months, but it probably wouldn’t work. Then this week, my boss had me sign a copy of the paperwork for the third time and forwarded me the email chain where he sent it to his HR contact. She responded “looks good, now we can submit it to Big HR,” which would seem to indicate that the official submission happened just now, instead of in September. So now I’m terrified that I’ve lost ANOTHER three months of back pay.

        I spoke to my union rep and she said the HR contact is aware that I’m concerned over back pay, and that we should wait to see if they approve the promotion and what date they decide to start back pay on. Once we know what their timeline is, we’ll know if we need to argue it or not. She also told me it can take months to get an approval, so at this rate I’ll be lucky to get any extra money before June.

  5. Dawn*

    So I’m curious: do you guys generally like December at work (more people out, relaxed atmosphere, no high-priority projects coming in) or do you dread it and wish the normal status quo would hurry back (because no one is around to do work, people are fighting over taking vacation when they want it, everyone is sick and/or stressed from trying to plan around holidays)?

    I personally like the laid-back atmosphere that happens in December and I definitely look forward to holiday parties and all the treats people bring in!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That sums it up for me, too! Slow work traffic plus light commuting traffic while people are on vacation or kids are home from school.

    1. Maxwell Edison*

      This December is weird for me in that I’m a full-time freelance editor now and things are a bit poky. I anticipate a lot of work in January, though, once the NaNoWriMo crowd finishes up and needs their stuff edited. I also got some good promos scheduled this month for my own books, to take advantage of Kindlemas, so that will help the cash flow.

      1. anonanonanon*

        Really? I find that November and December are some of my busiest times for freelance writing and editing. Fiction editing is a conflict of interest at my full-time job, so I do more marketing and business writing and editing, which means it’s a lot of marketing copy or product descriptions in anticipation for holiday sales.

        1. Maxwell Edison*

          That makes sense; I mostly do fiction editing and I think a lot of writers are, in addition to coming off NaNo, are waiting till after the holidays to cough up several hundred bucks for editing. I’m already booking clients for January.

          1. whataweek*

            When I have a stressful day at work, “fiction editor” is one of my fantasy dream jobs (along with “baker”). It sounds like such a fun job…although I’m sure a lot fewer rainbows-and-roses than I’m imagining! How did you get started in this line of work?

            1. Maxwell Edison*

              Well, I’d always wanted to be a fiction editor but went into marketing/corporate communications for the day job; I’d always written my own fiction as well but didn’t have luck getting an agent. Then the ebook/independent publishing ball started rolling, and I published my books. I’ve made some money, but I don’t write in the really lucrative genres, so I decided to strike out as an editor for the main source of income.

              Some of my clients I deal with directly; I’m also a contractor for a couple editing firms. It’s been very interesting because I really never know what I’ll get next. Some of it has been good work that I’d read for pleasure. Some of it has been absolutely dire. A lot has been somewhere in between. The genres vary a lot. I’ve edited erotica, literary fiction, science fiction, steampunk, memoir, romance, etc. I can’t be too choosy as I’m just starting out, and I don’t make a lot of money (my spouse is the main breadwinner and my income is gravy) but I’m so much happier than I was at my ToxicJob (my last day there was a year ago tomorrow). The hardest part has been adjusting to lulls between jobs, but I’m steadily building a client base and all my clients (so far) are very pleased.

    2. Rita*

      December is crazy busy for us, and it started in November this year. So I can’t wait till next month when it should (hopefully) calm down again.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m with you. This is my first time in this situation, too– I worked for years in a place where things basically started shutting down after Thanksgiving and our biggest complaint was too many parties. I miss it. Now? I’m so busy I can’t even think straight (I am taking a brain break right now) and I have this terrible idea that January will bring calm and rainbows. It won’t.

    3. Rat Racer*

      I feel like a grinch but I HATE December: December is the cruelest month of performance reviews, goal-writing, scrambling to get projects completed, scrambling to create new goals and vision for the next year. It is one fire drill after another – and there’s no one around for answers when you need them.

    4. Not me*

      I’m with you. I almost always have less to do than usual in December. I use it to work ahead for January, sometimes up to February.

      And there’s always food.

    5. LSP*

      Generally like! At the same time, I start to feel a little lazy. Since everything slows down, I slow down too. Normally January allows my department to slowly pick up speed, but this upcoming year we are going to hit the ground sprinting, not even running.

      1. Anna*

        This where I am. There isn’t a lot to do because I work in outreach and nobody has events, there are only so many ads I can place, and our Congressional reps have slowed down for the season, too. So I am working on the staff holiday party and just generally doing clean up.

    6. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I like it more, for a couple of reasons! I am someone who gets into the holidays and loves that we have an excuse to party and kick back and put up some fancy decorations. I also like it because, working in an academic library, we get absolutely slammed right before finals (sooo, this week!) and then everyone leaves for break- it’s wonderful to have that break from being absolutely slammed. And as a graduate student, I like that I have a big chunk of time where I don’t have classes, the students around me don’t have classes*, AND twinkly little deer.

      *Christmas is the only time my break lines up with the academic calendar of my employer

    7. Retail Lifer*

      December in retail is h*ll on Earth. We get our break in January, when everyone is too broke to shop and it’s too cold or snowy to leave the house and go to the mall. I enjoy the break, although the days really drag after the Christmas rush is over.

      1. LM*

        I’m happy for you! In my former life, inventory was 1 or 2 weeks after New Years’ and invariably a day after corporate would drop all the Valentines’ Cr*p on us (yay for managers not being allowed to manage….anything). By the time I left ReatailLife, the holiday season started October 1 and ended around Valentines’ Day. It didn’t use to be that way, and I feel for those that still do it.

    8. Retail Gal*

      Hmmmm…uhhhh…yeah…no. ;)

      And I just saw on the calendar today that inventory is running January 3rd – 13th.

      Double ugh.

    9. Cb*

      People are a mix of stressed + cheery as term comes to an end and long-neglected projects get revisited (those ones we said we’d finish ‘by Christmas’) and quite cheery with holiday lunches and treats. Somehow my work + PhD deadlines fell together so I’m a bit stressed at the moment.

    10. NacSacJack*

      December is too slow for me around my office. Typically we have due dates immediately following the New Year, but no one is around that I need to interact with to do my job. I hate saving up time for year-end too, but I do it because I don’t know if I’ll be sick with a cold or not. Then if I am not sick, I’m stuck home broke and unable to go anywhere due to Christmas presents.

    11. Not Gloria (Anita's newname)*

      December is insane. It’s our busiest time of the year and management also lops in performance reviews starting. Add in my birthday, my husband’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, and traveling home for Christmas, and it’s one big stress fest. Plus people are sick or taking time off so you have to pick up their slack. There’s nothing laid back about it here!

    12. Ihmmy*

      both! I work in an education place so there’s lots of prep to do for the term starting in January so that’s a fair bit of work. But there’s also not as many students around clogging up the lines for food and such. My workload actually picks up a bit, but the fewer teenaged gremlins is pretty nice.

    13. overeducated and underemployed*

      This is my first year working outside of academia in December, and honestly, I miss it: the first half of the month is an insane rush of writing and grading and all the other stuff you have to do, and then the second half of the month is just glorious freedom. Having everything close down from around Dec. 20 to Jan. 2 or 3 is amazing (even better than getting a 4.5 day weekend for Thanksgiving), and it’s one of the few things that really makes me wish I could get into a university job of some sort.

    14. AVP*

      I love when it’s laid-back and I can file my previous years-worth of paperwork and take a normal lunch. But the rush to finish last-second projects that “must be done for the end of year but we’re just letting you to this now!” while everyone is out is stressful.

    15. fposte*

      December is really stressful around here–it’s trying to do a full month’s work in half a month, since so many people are gone (university). And since November gets chewed up because of Thanksgiving (week-long holiday at the university) and January gets chewed up from break and conferences, this is a pretty intense sequence.

      1. Elsajeni*

        Decembers are weird for me because I still have quite a bit to do, but I need cooperation from faculty (I’m in assessment/IE, so a lot of what I’m doing at this time of year is “Hey, Dr. Y, remember how you said we could use your exam as an assessment of Learning Goal Z? How’d it go? Got results for me?”)… who are all either unavailable because they’re frantically grading, or unavailable because they’re done grading and have gone to Hawaii. I feel like if I could just get the timing exactly right, it would be a normal month, but so far that has never happened.

    16. justsomeone*

      December is my busiest month! I love it! (I’m generally under-utilized though and prefer to be busy.) I’m in marketing and run our philanthropy program, which heats up as we do a lot of holiday related giving. I also administer a customer-facing giveaway that runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas with weekly prizes.

      1. Jules the First*

        December is insane… all our clients want to have things ready for review when they get back from their Christmas holiday; the ones that don’t fo Christmas don’t understand why we have to give our staff a week off to go see their families; and all out Chinese clients are asking for the really big push so they can show things to their boards before Chinese New Year. And we’re half-staffed because everyone’s holiday is use-it-or-lose-it… I’m just praying I can hold it together until March!

    17. LCL*

      Like. It is storm season, so we are busy, the customers are glad to see us, and the day to day work is less predictable. Also less management around, everyone that can take vacation is on vacation. The only down side is unplanned personnel absences, because the people who would normally be happy to get the fill in work are too busy for callouts.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      Not looking forward to any holiday crap (bah, humbug). We’re having a Christmas party and I have a ticket but I don’t care. It’s typically sort of slow this time of year because of the holidays, even though our FYE is in summer. I would like to go to Europe next year, and I would like to see London at Christmastime. It’s the only time of year that I haven’t been there.

      *sigh* I was going to put blinky lights in my cube, but I really don’t care that much.

      1. Oryx*

        London at Christmastime is MAGICAL. I went a couple years ago, even attended Christmas Day service at Westminster Abbey! (It’s free, but you need tickets.) If you ever get a chance to go that time of year I highly recommend it

    19. Nervous Accountant*

      I used to hate the holiday season because I”d get depressed, but life has slowly improved in the last 2-3 years so I’m not so depressed over it. I think most of the depression was out of desperation from being jobless and not having much going on…. now that I”m working (3rd christmas being employed, yay!) I get to keep busy and have something going on.

    20. Whatsername*

      I like December! I’m in an industry that’s very busy this time of year…but I work in IT. We limit major work to avoid impacting the actual, you know, profit generating parts of the business that are so busy during the holidays.

      Plus I don’t take any extra time off between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, unlike most of my coworkers. The peace and quiet is great and I’m so much more productive.

    21. Jennifer*

      Probably depends on your job. Mine is being calm and relatively winding down this year, which is great, but hasn’t been like that previously.

    22. Starfish*

      I work in a non-profit so December is incredibly stressful. There are projects that need to be finished before the end of the year for funding reasons so December is everyone stressed out, rushing and working extra time to make sure that everything is finished. I also work 100% remotely so there’s no additional holiday cheer.

      I am looking forward to all of the year’s projects being done in the second half of the month, but the first half of the month is miserable. I imagine a year where no grant cycles are ending might be a lot more pleasant.

    23. Annie Moose*

      Depends on which half of December you’re talking about.

      We have a freeze on pushing new teapots to production in the last half of December, so the weeks leading up to the freeze can be VERY stressful–if you don’t get that teapot developed, tested, and approved in time, then you won’t be able to push it to production until January, which makes a lot of people Very Angry. Compounding this is the fact that while I (the developer) keeps getting pushed to have everything ready to move on time, I also have to be confident that it’s actually good quality! If not, and we have to make and push out more changes once the freeze starts, that’s a very unpleasant process of getting upper management involved with Stern Talkings To for everyone. (oh, and this year we’re moving a major year-long project to production two days before the freeze starts. I’m so far beyond “stressed” that I’ve started to feel kind of zen about it.)

      On the flip side, once the freeze starts, there’s very little pressure at all, because we *can’t* move any teapots to production! So we get some time to relax and take our time to design/develop. My job has flexible hours and decent vacation time, so I don’t actually have to work right up to Christmas, but I don’t mind doing so, and it’ll be nice to be in the office without a lot of distractions (and without users pestering me about this project and that). I’ll crank the Mannheim Steamroller and TSO up and get the chance to enjoy the parts of my job I like (designing and developing teapots) without dealing with the parts I don’t like (playing politics, developing my psychic powers to figure out what users need, and getting stressed out over deadlines).

    24. Panda Bandit*

      December is not relaxed in retail. I’m dealing with a big increase in the amount of work + all the problems you get from a poorly managed store. 13 more days until things calm down!

    25. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I love the atmosphere of December in the office. I do have some things that seemed low-priority during the previous few weeks that all of a sudden, through no fault of my own (/sarcasm about procrastination), become pretty urgent in December. But I like how it slows down otherwise.

      Today is Dead Day at our university (Dead Day is the day after the last day of classes and marks the beginning of the time during when no classes or extracurricular activities can be scheduled for students as they prepare for final exams). Our college has a tradition called Dead Day Soup Day for all faculty and staff. Everyone brings a crockpot of homemade soup, and we all go around tasting all the soups. There are all the toppings (crackers, tortillas, tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, etc. as well as desserts). The really clever people bring a muffin tin so that they can go through the line once and taste several different soups. I forgot my muffin tin, but I think I’ll get a six-muffin tin for next year; I’d rather have a larger portion of six soups instead of a smidgen of twelve soups. I’m happier than Stanley on pretzel day (The Office)!

    26. Stephanie*

      Noooooo, December is awful since I’m in shipping. I’m working every day until Christmas starting next Monday. (And uh…if we don’t get all this volume processed, I might be working Christmas too…)

    27. Temperance*

      That is so not my December experience at work – mine is more like people panicking about not doing X, Y, or Z (all of which my department handles), so I need to work magic to help them meet goals they should have been wroking on all darn year.

    28. A is for A*

      I’m a recreational therapist working in a skilled nursing facility. Our “busy season” is Halloween through Valentine’s Day. I love the Christmas season, but it means me putting up 7 Christmas trees, decorating three units, organizing multiple holiday parties, etc. All while still doing my normal work. It’s quite hectic.

    29. QA Lady*

      December is layoff season so I’m not a fan. Our work is very tied in to both the energy sector and the weather outside, so we are busiest in the summer when oil prices are high. While I’m on leave until mid winter, they cut staff to the bone this year so some of my work friends won’t be there come my back to work date. Plus, it’s just before Christmas. Its one of the few things I dislike about my job.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Same here. People go on vacation at this time in my office and I don’t have to listen to neverending yapping all day. My productivity increased during this time of year.

    30. Nerdling*

      We actually have the potential to get busier in December, while being lightly staffed, so it’s got the potential to be a real humdinger of a time. That said, it is quieter, and parties are fun. So it balances out.

    31. Kassy*

      December is frustrating for me because work is hitting an ebb at the same time as my personal commitments are hitting a peak. I understand I’m getting paid, but wow, is it frustrating to sit here thinking about the gifts I have to buy, parties to attend, etc.

    32. asteramella*

      The industry I’m currently in is busiest in Q4, especially December. My individual work isn’t tied as much to the seasonal surge, but everyone around me is extra-stressed and crabby right now. I’m looking forward to having some time off soon!

    33. Crazy Dog Lady*

      Typically, I like it. We always have something big pop up right before Christmas, but my boss was always organized about approving vacation time and making sure that we actually used our days (none of this “vacation”). If there needed to be coverage, she would handle it.

      This year, she has left the firm, so we have a new manager in place. A couple of us requested vacation time back in October and made plans around it. Other requests came in later, within the past couple of weeks. She didn’t pay attention and approved for the entire team to be off of work for the holidays. Now we are being told that we each have to give up a day, and many of us made travel plans based on that approval.

      Needless to say, none of us are happy.

    34. lfi*

      December is our hectic season with the amount of stuff we are trying to produce for 3 pay periods instead of 2. :(

    35. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I work in Payroll; we have to process the end-of-December pay early before close-down, and there’s all sorts of weird stuff here when statutory holidays fall on a weekend which both 26 December and 2 January do this year. Definitely not a relaxed atmosphere for us!

    36. Al Lo*

      I love it, but it’s a weird combination of busy and slow. I work in a performing arts organization, and December/gig/show season is super busy, particularly on weekends. Starting November 15, I’m running gigs on every weekend until December 20, and am out with my performers all over the place. The flip side of that is that after December 7 (this year), my office gets really slow — our evening rehearsals finish up and the day-to-day work slows down with our weekly routine ending. It’s the best kind of busy, though — I love being backstage and out on gigs. Way more fun than being in the office. :)

      After December 20, it slows right down, and this year, I’ll probably take the full week between Christmas and New Year’s off. I’ll work up to the 23rd and prep for January, and then take a break.

    37. Audiophile*

      The last few Decembers, I was in a front desk job where it was completely dead when Christmas fell on a weekday. I hated this, I missed my regular interaction with people outside of my coworkers. I started a new job this week. On one hand, it’s exciting. On the other hand, it’s stressful, more than I thought it would be.

  6. The Sugar Plum Fairy*

    Does anyone have any office holiday stories to share? I’m full-time Work-At-Home so sadly (or happily), I don’t have any to share this year.

    1. Gillian*

      Last week at the department’s white elephant gift exchange, I ended up bringing a yard of Twix back to my office area. There was an office-wide sugar rush that afternoon.

      1. The Sugar Plum Fairy*

        Secretly, I want to buy a yard of Twix for myself and my fiancé – but I’m just too ashamed to go into the store and make the purchase.

        1. Biff*

          Steps to overcome this problem:

          1. Walk into store.
          2. Pick up Twix Yard
          3. Tell cashier that it is the ‘best thing ever for parties!’
          4. Cashier now does not think you are a pig.
          5. Buy that baby.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Hahahah!
            I did this when I bought two large boxes of European chocolates, two boxes of cocoa-dusted truffles, and four packets of chocolate from Ghana and Peru at Aldi. (Some of it IS for presents, I swear!!!)

            1. sprinkles!*

              I adore Aldi. Their chocolate and specialty cookies are surprisingly good. I’ve given them as gifts before.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                I make a raffle basket every year to benefit the local cat rescue and I buy all my chocolate goodies at Aldi. The winner is always happy with the contents of the basket and remarks at the quality.

          2. Anonsie*

            I support this idea although my personal steps would be

            1. Walk into store
            2. Pick up Twix Yard
            3. Buy that baby with no shame whatsoever
            4. Eat the whole thing alone in my house like a dirty little Twix eating strumpet
            5. Keep being awesome

        2. Gillian*

          Fun fact: my desk is in an entirely different building from where the departmental party was (and where most of the department’s offices are), so I got to walk half a mile on city streets carrying a yard of Twix back. A different kind of walk of shame.

          Also, it’s delicious. I’d highly recommend.

    2. stillLAH*

      Not a happy story, but last week, we all Grinched someone out of putting up a Christmas tree in the office while she was in the act of doing it. (It also seemed to be missing a section and was too tall for our ceiling.)

    3. The Expendable Redshirt*

      At my Christmas party, a staff member got locked in the service elevator for an hour. There was a little window on the door of the elevator, so the victim and people on the outside could wave frantically to each other. The trapped co-worker hammed it up, pretending to die and crying “Help me!” A groundskeeper was able to fix the elevator and let her out. Later that night, a gift basket was donated to her as compensation for the experience.

    4. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Instead of doing our typical Yankee Swap gift exchange this year, we’re tying in trivia about our fellow office mates to the receiving of presents. I am interested to see how this goes down, but also feel like I’m going to opt out this year. People already know enough about me, they don’t need to know that I’m missing a gallbladder or know how to make balloon animals.

      1. Annie Moose*

        I, uh, really hope the missing gallbladder and balloon animal making skills are not related. (sorry :))

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          How many balloon animals could one make from a gallbladder?

          I wanted to keep my gallstones, but I wasn’t allowed. Something about them being a biohazard, blah blah blah.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Huh — I asked to keep the entire gallbladder and the compromise they offered was to let me have some of the gallstones. (I saw them and decided not to bother — I had lots, but all fairly small, so it basically just looked like a jar of gravel.)

            What I’m still mad about is the dentist who told me beforehand I could keep my wisdom teeth, then, after I was all doped up and unable to coherently argue, denied he had ever said that and threw them away. Eff that guy.

        2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

          Hahaha! Blissfully unrelated!

          I too wanted to keep my (large, singular) gallstone but was not allowed, even though I’d named it and everything

    5. Cube Farmer*

      At the time of this writing, we are having a holiday pot luck (in the isles of our cube farm) where the company supplies the meat (bbq everything) and the employees bring the sides and desserts. There are about 5 sides, 50 desserts and piles and piles of meat. The office will smell like bbq for the next three hours.

      That may sound like paradise for some; but I am a vegan and the smell of that much cooked animal is nauseating. I’m trying to be in the holiday spirit but I keep heaving. Yay forced holiday party attendance!

      1. Amy M*

        I am not vegan but that sounds terrible! I find the smell horrible as well, and am known to go through half a can of air freshener when my husband cooks meat so as to mask the smell. Nothing worse them my clothes smelling like meat!

    6. Amy M*

      Well, this is my first “holiday” season at my new workplace (and by new, I mean new employer, new career, new location – as in, new country from the one I had lived in the previous seven years). I am American but living in a different part of the USA than I grew up or have ever worked in. This is a quite conservative and religious part of the country and I was actually looking forward to their openness in saying “Merry Christmas” instead of the more PC “Happy Holidays”. Last week I pulled out the office Christmas tree to set it up (I had quite a bit of downtime) and attempted to consult with several employees as to where it should be placed. I was politely shunned by all as many are so conservative that they only celebrate the religious aspect and want nothing to do with trees or presents – at work or at home. As the HR rep, I obviously have no problem respecting their opinions, but I am just stunned. I did find a few other employees to help me with the tree but I am definitely feeling like the odd person out now!

    7. Anon for this*

      My boss called a meeting this week of department heads to tell us that she didn’t want us to buy her Christmas gifts this year (we don’t typically anyway), because she wouldn’t be purchasing anything for us. She already went shopping, forgot about us, and didn’t feel like going back out…

      Not that I’m upset about not getting a gift, because I don’t give a hoot, but I found the whole thing to be absurd and kind of rude.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Just wanted to let you know, it’s Christmas and I forgot I supervise people for a living. Once I remembered, I decided not to get stuff for you anyway. Just thought I’d let you know.”

        My father would describe this person as “dead from the neck up”. I can just imagine what else is going on there. I am so sorry.

        1. Pineapple Incident*

          I lol’d at the “dead from the neck up” thing. I unfortunately have met a few people who are this way; who seriously doesn’t know what penicillin is after college?

    8. Jen RO*

      I decorated a pretty Christmas tree with my coworker. It is very stylish and better than the other Christmas trees in the office. I am proud.

      Also, Secret Santa next week, should be fun!

    9. periwinkle*

      My husband and I aren’t big holiday people so we do minimal decorations at best. I’m used to festive offices, though, and rather like the trees and tinsel and Hanukkah balls and the like. My current workplace, on the other hand, has Safety Rules. “Decorations will only be approved for the month of December” and you have to take everything down by December 23rd because the offices are closed between Christmas and New Year. Can’t let these fire hazards stay in place while we’re all gone.

      Oh well, they haven’t banned sugar cookies. And that’s all I care about. Yum…

    10. Temperance*

      Yes: my firm sponsored tables at a Lunar New Year banquet in Chinatown. The restaurant served us adulterated food … and gave 200 attorneys and law students norovirus. This was last February, and I’m still not over it. It was incredibly humiliating in so many ways, because, well, some Very Important People that I work with got really, really sick.

      If you want to give 200 people food-bourne illness, you should probably make sure that they aren’t all attorneys/future lawyers. Idiots.

      1. Jules the First*

        Grumpy because we just found out that while the other teams in the office get to do fun things like minigolf or bowling, we get to go to a crappy club for pizza (which I don’t eat) and beer (which I don’t drink) which we’ll have to pay for. Priceless!!

  7. Nobody*

    I’m a finalist for my company’s employee of the year award, along with another employee in my department, Kim, and some employees in other departments. The award comes with a cash prize and is determined by employee vote. Yesterday, my manager sat down with some of us at lunch (I was there but Kim wasn’t) and said that she wants somebody from our department to win the award, so she’d really like everyone in our department to pool our votes for one person. She said, “I think everyone should vote for Kim because…” And I thought she was going to tell us about some big accomplishment of Kim’s, but instead she said, “She’s about to get married and it would be nice for her to have the extra money.”

    That really rubbed me the wrong way, because what the hell does getting married have anything to do with this award? I’m not saying that I necessarily deserve to win more than Kim — I think it could go either way — but if she wins, it should be because of her accomplishments at work, not because she’s getting married. And, by the way, we all make good money, and neither of us is living paycheck to paycheck — not that our financial situations should make a difference in this anyway. To add insult to injury, I was already feeling bad about myself because Kim is 5 years younger than I am and I’m not even dating anyone. Maybe I’m just being petty, but I honestly think this would bother me even if I weren’t a finalist.

    1. lulu*

      Sorry about that, I would feel the same way you do. This is a work award and should be based on work. At a minimum your manager could have talked to you directly first, not in front of a group. That sucks!

    2. Kyrielle*

      If you got mad because Kim won without that, you’d be being petty.

      But I think being bothered by your manager’s ridiculous behavior is completely reasonable. First, she’s trying to get the department to ballot-stuff so the department can have a winner, rather than going on the merits of each nominee. Second, she’s trying to make sure all the votes go to one person (so that, again, maximum ballot-stuffing can occur). Third, she cut out the employee who *was sitting there* rather than the one who *was not*. Fourth, she did it not on merits but because this other employee is getting married.

      So many shades of ridiculous. Just please try to remember that none of this reflects on Kim, just on your boss being a loon (at the very least about this topic).

      Of course…I’d also argue that putting who wins a cash prize for “employee of the year” being up to an employee vote is also slightly loony on the part of your company. That turns it into a popularity or department-competition contest a bit, just as your boss is treating it….

      1. Sadsack*

        Yeah, this whole thing sounds ridiculous, but I agree that OP has every right to be bothered by manager’s behavior.

      2. Nobody*

        I think the manager may have forgotten that I was another finalist/that I was sitting there when she was saying this. She got sort of a sheepish look on her face afterwards, like she had realized that she had just given a speech about voting against me. I’m not a big fan of these popularity contest awards, so I wasn’t all that emotionally invested in this, anyway. I think they have good intentions, but usually, somebody from a big department wins because there are more people to vote. The manager, by the way, was a previous winner of this award and she did the same thing then, asking everyone in the department to vote for her so “we” could beat the finalists from the other departments.

      3. Brett*

        I think that “employee of the year” awards with cash bonuses are lo0ny. No matter what criteria you try to use, when you give out a single cash bonus someone is going to manipulate that criteria to win.
        (But I’m probably just bitter because our 5k+ org also has a single $2k bonus paid out every year on a rather silly criteria that I barely missed out on one year.)

        1. Kyrielle*

          My old company did them for several years – they would pick an MVP for each month based on contributions above-and-beyond the role, and then a single winner from among the twelve for the year. But while any employee could nominate, who won was a management decision. It wasn’t always the decision I’d have made, but it did appear to be made on business merits.

          Having it voted on, OTOH? Ugh.

          1. Brett*

            Ours is based on “greatest savings”. The year I missed out, I did a technical redesign on a $10M project that was $1M over budget, and brought it in $2.4M under budget. The winner? The guy who wrote the bid spec for my redesign, who got credit for our project and another project that came in $150k under budget.
            No one outside procurement has ever won.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’m really put off that she said this in front of you, who is the other finalist that the team could vote for!

    4. Ama*

      You’re right to be irked. A work performance award should not be based on something that’s not work related. Although honestly I think it’s pretty icky for your boss to tell everyone how to vote in any instance.

    5. Rat Racer*

      That is totally RE-diculous and infuriating!! Your manager is a disaster. Does she give bonuses and raises based on who needs money for car payments and who just bought a house? Honestly, your story casts such serious doubt on your manager’s judgment that if I were in your shoes, I would start job hunting. How can you ever trust that your manager is evaluating you on merit versus some crazy, unrelated criteria? UGH this story makes me so mad!!

      1. Lisa*

        Yes, this makes me think that decisions like raises and promotions are based on who needs it more. So single and no kids, get nothing. I should make up a kid, and put pictures around my desk.

    6. Retail Lifer*

      Your personal life should have nothing to do with how you’re evaluated at work. Are raises there based on how many kids you have, too? Or what your rent or mortgage is? Would they lay someone off just because they know their spouse makes enough money for the both of them? All are equally irrelevant.

    7. Rita*

      Wow. If “it would be nice for her to have the extra money” pool together something for a gift. I don’t think you’re petty at all.

    8. Lily in NYC*

      That really, really sucks. And reminds me of the days when men would get all the raises and promotions because they “have a family to support”. Barf. I wish one of your coworkers would say something because I understand why you feel weird saying it yourself.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      No, you’re not being petty–I would be upset about it also. This is a work award and that’s the merit for which it should be awarded. Your manager is way off on this one.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      Ick. Does this mean that “Kim” is going to get all the $$ allotted for raises because she is getting married?

    11. Tomato Frog*

      If I were Kim, I would be mortified if I found out someone was telling people to vote for me based on things happening in my personal life. Your boss is wrong and tactless on many levels.

        1. Anonsie*

          Oh yeah. But I guarantee you Boss is thinking 1) won’t this be so nice for Kim and 2) if we put it this way, it won’t hurt Nobody’s feelings because we’re not saying Kim is better just that it would be nice.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If she feels that Kim deserves a wedding present then why not just pass the hat? Or maybe SHE could bankroll the wedding present, since she is so concerned about it.

    12. videogame Princess*

      What does getting married have to do with it? Where is this money going to go? Because if it’s towards a prohibitively expensive wedding, then I can’t really feel too bad. It’s possible to have a cheap wedding. I’ve done it.

    13. asteramella*

      That’s totally weird and tactless.

      My employer also selects employee of the month/year by crowd-sourced nominations and a popular vote… I’ve been nominated several times, but my department is small and nominees from larger departments invariably win. It’s transparently a popularity contest.

    14. sprinkles!*

      I have no filter sometimes and if I had been there, I might have said, “that’s not a f-ing reason. Whatever happened to getting rewarded for doing an awesome job?”

      I say this as a newly engaged person who also just bought a house and could definitely use some extra money right now. :/

  8. Mockingjay*

    Meeting Minutes Saga! You’re not going to believe this.

    I finally got a copy of the company contract with our federal customer. Good grief. The job I thought I was hired for – technical writer – doesn’t exist!

    My small company is supposed to provide program management (PM) processes (SOPs, management plans, schedule) and PM administrative support (briefings, minutes).

    No wonder the government boss wants me to perform administrative duties. No wonder I am stuck doing Meeting Minutes! That’s what I am on contract for! This is why Intrepid Colleague and I are limited to formatting and proofreading on the few technical documents we get. This is our role! Administrative and management support, not technical support.

    When I interviewed (phone screen, then three separate interviews), everyone discussed the work as technical and engineering (software systems) document writing and tracking – my background. Not one word was mentioned during the hiring process regarding a PM or Administrative support role. (I checked my notes to be sure.)

    I understand that companies have the right to change or expand your role. But… Hiring managers – please give applicants a truthful description of the work and the role at the outset, so an informed decision can be made by both sides. I wouldn’t have taken the job had I known what the role really entailed.

    As to why my company provided such an inaccurate description of the role, I can only guess. When I was hired, the contract was new and the other local staff were recent hires with limited or no federal experience themselves. I don’t know if the contract details were shared with them by Corporate (which resides in another state).

    Enlightening week. I now understand the customer’s frustrations with me and my company. Failed communication all around. Gah!

    1. Ama*

      Uuuugh. Do you have the original job listing you applied for (or were you recruited)? Because I’d definitely be inclined to go to my (non-government) manager and point out the serious disconnect here.

      At a previous job, we had been begging for more in-house IT support (we’d had a part time person working 20 hours a week but they quit to take a full time role). The big bosses told us they had hired a full-time employee to help with that. We couldn’t figure out why he was always “too busy” to really do any of the support tasks. Turns out he and his manager had been promised that the role was primarily to help the manager with programming projects and had undersold the percentage of IT support involved (they told them 10% — we needed someone at at least 50%). Everyone ended up unhappy.

      1. Mockingjay*

        The original ad was pretty generic: technical writer for military project documentation. I actually knew some of the technical staff on it; we had worked on a similar project several years ago. All the interviews discussed that kind of work.

        The disconnect is my non-government manager who is in another state. He is here maybe 1 day per month. I don’t think he will do anything.

        At least now I understand what the customer wants. It may not be my chosen work, but it is the work I am obligated to deliver until I find something else. (I will ask hard questions in the interview to make sure this doesn’t happen again!)

    2. Stayc*

      Hmm that’s really weird to me, because I would assume hiring an admin person to do that work would be MUCH cheaper than an experienced technical writer. Can you ask your boss if you’re meant to work on that project permanently, or if there are other contracts that might be coming up for award that would be a good fit for your background? I worked for a government contractor, and they moved people around basically all the time.

    3. Brett*

      In our area, a lot of government contractors will try to recruit and hire in anticipation of a contract. They get people on staff to demonstrate they have the capability to execute the contract, without actually knowing what positions will be funded in the contract.
      Could this have happened here? You were hired for your capacity, but when they landed the contract there was no role for you?
      (The dark side of this method is that several companies will all be bidding the same contract, so when the winner is picked the loser lays off all of their newly recruited people who then have to scramble to get a job with the winning company.)

      1. Mockingjay*

        Brett, that is a distinct possibility which I never considered.

        There was a interim task order in place when I was hired, then the following month we switched to the new contract. I did ask about the expiring task order and follow-on contract during the main interview process and was assured that the follow-on was in place, funded, and ready to be executed. It never occurred to me that the scope of the work could or would be different. I’ve worked other follow-on contracts and the work was kept largely the same to provide continuity for the program, so I didn’t think to ask about that part.

    4. Anonsie*

      Holy crap this is just about the worst result you could have found.

      I’m pretty dumbfounded, just… What do you do now?? I don’t even have an idea to give, other than you and IC go back to the folks that hired you with the contract and go “WHAT”

    5. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Wow!

      This is a plot twist!

      [eats popcorn]

      What happens next? I’m used to binge watching. AAM, I have to wait for new episodes to be released.

    6. Meg Murry*

      Could it be that you were hired to do the tech writing part of the processes – SOPs and management plans but have been scooted into the admin part because no one else was hired for that?

      Either way, this stinks as a total bait and switch. Meeting minutes are important, but not the same thing as technical writing.

    1. cajun2core*

      LOL! Thanks for bringing back some funny memories. Definitely one of the strangest threads I have ever seen on AAM!

  9. Coulda Been Martina Odum*

    I applied for a very KEEN (hint hint, wink wink) position and was conditionally offered the job. The position has 12 “steps” and you can be cut at any time. The job is conditionally offered at step 4, and I made it all the way to step 9 before I got a letter saying they were done with me and that I had failed one of their subjective tests. (I am appealing, because you can, but I know the chances are slim to none. At least I can’t say I didn’t try. I am moving on with my life though and will be pleasantly surprised if I hear from them.)

    “When one door closes, another one opens” could not be more true for me at this moment. I was offered a promotion at my current job 2 days before I got the failure letter from the job with ‘limitless’ (another wink) opportunities. I am super happy with my soon-to-be new job, but I am still a little heart broken over the dream job that I have been pursuing over 1.5 years being over. I was going to be a bad a s s!!!! I mean…I am one now, but I would have had a job that also told the world I was a BA (LOL!).

    Have you ever felt really crushed by a job rejection? I’ll look back on this and laugh one day right?

    1. Wolfman's Brother*

      Hopefully one day soon!
      A number of years ago I did not get a job that was supposed to be my dream position. In retrospect it all worked out for the best, but for many years afterwards any time I would see that hiring manager out (we work in a small circle) I couldn’t help but feel angry.

    2. The Sugar Plum Fairy*

      I was in a similar situation a few years ago and having some perspective now, I am so glad I didn’t get hired. I applied to my dream company (working for a very well-known expert in their field) and they called me for an interview. I interviewed over the course of a couple of months and then never heard from them again.

      A few months later, things started unraveling at the company – several key executives left the company around the same time and rumors started flying around town about things happening at the company. A few months after that, a national news story came out about the treatment of the company’s employees and past employees (no, this is not Amazon – I promise). I also found out that the employees working there were often working part-time jobs and/or receiving support from their family because they couldn’t make it on their full-time salaries.

      Fast forward to today: I’m in a new position with a new manager that I like and I have a lot of freedom in my job, and I’m making more money. What looks like rejection is really protection, my friend – trust me!

    3. Anna*

      I didn’t realize they (Who? What are we talking about?) had such an onerous hiring process. We’ve had interns there (Where) and now I’m curious about whether or not they bring an of them on full-time.

      So were you working for them during this time and getting paid and then randomly they said working out?

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I am feeling so dense right now because I don’t understand any of this! I’m hoping it’s a UK company because then I won’t feel so dumb.

        1. Coulda Been Martina Odum*

          No worries! I was being as vague as possible with some TV hints thrown in.

          US based. tres letras. Lots of prime time TV shows about them on right now :-)

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            You applied to join the Avengers?

            Man, I can’t believe they hired freakin’ Hawkeye and not you.

      2. Coulda Been Martina Odum*

        You are too funny!

        As far as I know, even former interns would have to go through the same process. Maybe one step would be omitted since they would have a passing test on record from the previous 5 years.

        No, I was at my regular job the whole time. They don’t pay you until you make it out to their camp on the east coast, heh. I did end up taking at least 6 days off through out the whole process. In retrospect, I though I’d be angry about it but I’m just happy I have a job that let me do that via sick time instead of vacation time.

    4. cajun2core*

      Sorry to say, you won’t look back and laugh, at least I don’t.

      This happened about 17-18 years ago and it still disappoints me a bit. I was the system manager (kept the Hewlett-Packard mainframe running) at Teapot HMO. The HP Account Service Engineer, let’s call him Larry, (an HP employee) for our company got a promotion and his old job was open. It was my dream job. Larry even specifically recommended me for the job to his boss. However, his boss wanted someone else he knew for the job and the job was offered to someone else. At the time, I was a 28 year old professional male and I am not ashamed to admit I cried a bit about not getting that job.

      However, in the long run, I did end up getting a different job which ended up being my true dream job. I ended up with a Third Party vendor who wrote software and support HP computers.

    5. Christian Troy*

      If it makes you feel any better, I had a friend interview with them and she was rejected. She works for another branch that uh does things with substances so I’m not sure if the long term plan is to reapply later, but you’re definitely not the only one.

      As for laughing about it later, I think when it comes to hyper competitive positions like that, I think it’s best to keep expectations low to nonexistent. I let myself get really excited for one day and then that’s it because I don’t want to pin my hopes and dreams and long term happiness on something that a lot of people get rejected from.

      1. Coulda Been Martina Odum*

        I agree. My expectations were zero up until things got really serious. Each step cuts out anywhere from 30-60% of people. That where I made the mistake, I should have *still* kept my expectations as non existent. At the same time, I didn’t want them to think that I was flippant about the whole thing. You know?

        I’m glad it worked out for your friend at a different place! I might be looking at other branches as well. We’ll see…

        1. Alma*

          Best to you – I’m cheering you on, wannabe Martina!!!

          My favorite shows are about those Three Initial folks (especially the new one that is the name of a place on the East Coast…).

          Throwing wayyyyy back, a friend gave me a coffee mug just like Dale Cooper’s. I have never forgiven myself for sending it to the thrift store during one of my many moves.

          Very cool! Good vibes for you!

    6. Amiga*

      I recently was totally devastated from a job rejection. I was desperate to find a job after a contract was about to end and there was no chance of continuation. I applied to a fellowship and hoped for a shot at even an interview. While reaching out to people in my network, I found someone who was on the board of the organization. After calling him, he let me know that he had applied for the exact same fellowship!! He’s much older with 15 years of experience while I am starting my career. No brainer, I thought he would be picked. However, I made it quite far in the process all the way to one of the top three choices. By the end of three interviews over four months, I was told over the phone that I wasn’t chosen after giving it my all. They gave me really unhelpful reasons why I wasn’t the choice and I knew in my heart that they had chosen Mr. Experience (which is great for him – we’re still friends!) BUT I had gotten my hopes up so high for this opportunity, that I was totally crushed and cried for two days! I had put everything out on the table for my cover letter, gotten recommendations submitted, had an overnight stay for an interview, and had a stellar rapport with the people in charge of the program. So much work and waiting for a big let-down. :-(

      Amazingly, after about 1 month from finding out, I was offered a different job which is my current career. I had kept applying for other things and networked while waiting to hear back from the fellowship, because I didn’t want to place all my eggs in one basket. It totally paid off and although, I’m still a tad bitter about the fellowship, I am so glad that I landed somewhere permanent with benefits and career growth!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      “Have you ever felt really crushed by a job rejection? I’ll look back on this and laugh one day right?”

      The problem is that it takes a while for the dust to settle. So no immediate relief but I can almost promise you that something else will happen soon and this will start to make more sense than it does now.
      While you may not laugh, you may nod knowingly. Time will be kind to you in the long run. For the short run, cry, get a punching bag, whatever floats your boat. Go through the emotions, don’t avoid them. Why? Because it will help you have sharper mental clarity in the future. You will have crisper idea of what you want and you will be able to quickly identify a good thing when you see it.

  10. Jerzy*

    What do you do with a team lead/supervisor who doesn’t respond to emails, doesn’t communicate all the information needed (even when asked directly) and has such specific ideas that you can’t even venture to guess what he’s looking for without having to do something over again? He also likes to get very snippy and rude whenever you were not able to read his mind after he fails to provide the request information?

    I could go to my manager, who is also his manager, but the person in my position before me had a very personal grudge against this guy (for all the reasons I stated and more) and I don’t want it to seem like I inherited her gripes. I also don’t want it to seem like I can’t handle interpersonal conflicts. I only have a few months left of working this closely with him, since I’ll be starting part-time hours in Feb. or March and someone else is taking over this project, but I would love any advice people might have over dealing with a wanker like this.

    1. Rat Racer*

      Oooh those people are the WORST. I had a boss like that at my former job. I used to camp outside her office door so that I could catch her on her way to meetings and ride with her in the elevator. Ridiculous.

      Can you CC your boss on emails to your colleague without making it look like an intentional response to his unresponsiveness? I’ve started doing this with an unresponsive colleague in another department. I CC his boss and say, “CC’ing Grover on this email for his perspective on “

      1. Jerzy*

        That’s one of the things that my predecessor did last year, and everyone knew why it was being done. It didn’t really help on his responsiveness.

        I have mentioned it to my manager, but in a very empathetic way, as in, “I know Francis has a lot going on right now with all of his projects, and he likes to give the sign off for just about everything and is very precise about how he likes things done.” I don’t want to appear to just be bitching about him, but when my manager asks for an account of how many hours I work on a project, I can’t give her a real number because my ability to get work done is severely limited by my team lead’s unresponsiveness.

        1. ET*

          I think you need to give her the real number so she can see the actual impact he is having. For reference, it took me pointing out that our team of temporary staff were causing so many errors that it took two full-timers to correct them each month (247.8 hours in August exactly), to actual instigate real training, training documents, processes and checks for them…. after three years of terrible performance. Prior to this I had complained but no one took it seriously.

          1. Anonsie*

            I agree. You need to be really honest about this; just because your predecessor had personal issues doesn’t mean you need to try to smooth things over. People understand that you are not the same person. Usually.

    2. Workfromhome*

      Start formatting emails that you feel he won’t respond to like this

      “Manager,

      The design for the new teapot should use the red spouts (not the blue and the spouts will be installed on June 1 by George.

      If no response is revived by March 30 that will be considered approval to proceed as above.”

      When he doesn’t respond you will have documentation of both the exact details (since he doesn’t like to communicate all the information) and that you had “approval”

      From the sounds of it he probably will be rude and snippy about it but fact is he’ll be boxed in. Either he didn’t read your email (bad) or read it and didn’t bother to respond implying his consent Now he may say “Don’t dfo that again you need to get my verbal consent..which means when you go to him next time you can say “You told me I need your verbal consent can I have it” Then be sure to follow with an email “I asked for your verbal consent on X Y and Z but got no answer so I will put the project on hold”

      .

    3. Mando Diao*

      You have to start looking for a new job. I worked under a boss like that for a little over a year, and I didn’t realize until after the fact that it had taken a serious toll on my self-esteem to have been called stupid and to be told that I was wrong all the time. I took a slight pay cut when I accepted my current job, but my new manager tells me all the time that my work is great. It’s worth it to not be miserable and to be sure that I’ll have a good reference when I move on.

      1. Jerzy*

        I kind of have a foot out the door anyway. Like I said, I’m going part-time in a couple months and this guy will only be on my periphery after that. I’m not thrilled here, but mostly content. I’m considering a serious career change from project manager to freelance writer/quilt maker. That might be a bit farther down the road, though.

    4. Bob Howard*

      “… I would love any advice people might have over dealing with a wanker like this.”
      I though that we avoided sexist abuse on this blog?

      1. fposte*

        Is “wanker” gendered? I think everybody wanks, don’t they? To me it’s like “asshole”–it may get used more for one gender, but that’s not because it’s gendered itself but because women get so disproportionately hit with gendered slurs.

        1. Asexy*

          Not everyone, no, I can guarantee that as an asexual non-wanker here (some aces wank, some do not). But lots of people of all genders do, to the best of my knowledge.

          1. Amy UK*

            I think that’s mainly because women almost only ever get called gendered slurs here though. It’s not that wanker (or twat, or arsehole etc) are designed as male-bashing slurs, it’s just that they’re not female-bashing ones.

    5. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Ughhh, my boss at my last job was like that. Almost never answered emails with questions in them, was rarely at her desk, handed out incorrect instructions and contradicted herself all the time. Apparently she’d been a higher level manager and been demoted for incompetence.

    6. Anonsie*

      Well what I did when I had one of these was get a new job.

      Kidding, kidding. Well not really, but since you’ve already got that down and just need to deal in the meantime: Since paper trails and having my butt covered were irrelevant in that job (it didn’t matter if I could show the 9 times I asked what they wanted and got no response and tried to run it by them and got a hand wave and condescension, if they were unhappy in the end– and they always were –I was in trouble) I didn’t bother with that angle, though it’s always a good idea.

      But IME these folks are not receptive to directly trying to deal with them because it’s directness itself that they dislike. They don’t like giving you direct answers or direct directions, and they sure don’t like when you press them directly either. That just makes them say whatever to get out of the conversation, but the next time you deal with them they go back on whatever they said as if it never happened. Then you feel like you’re taking crazy pills.

      YMMV since I don’t know what exactly your job duties are, but in your place I would 1) make sure there was a nice solid paper trail of all the times I tried to get more information and could not or got directions that were later changed, 2) give team lead very few chances to instruct you. I would set up a meeting to go over the thing, send an email with the details as confirmation and then that’s it. They get whatever comes out of that meeting. If they pitch a fit then, oh well, I see here where I told you this is what I was going to do in that meeting and confirmed by the email you didn’t read. So now what, guy? Ball back in their court rather than scrambling to fix or hand-holding trying to get information you know they won’t provide. Ok, you don’t like what you asked me to do. I need all new instructions to “fix” it or I can’t do anything else. Provide them or you can’t get it because how the hell else would I get it to you?. Repeat until they start to take what they tell you seriously, which will never happen to a satisfactory extent but after his happens twice they tend to pick it up quite a bit.

    7. AE*

      I have to deal with this too. I was given some vague directions and I asked for clarification. *crickets*

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Well, it sounds like you are backed into a corner here. In some ways that means you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
      Why not try dragging these problems out into the light of day by discussing them with your team lead? Rather than a sit down discussion, you can go instance by instance and discuss it in the moment.

      I have said things such as, “I am not trying to tick you off. I honestly cannot figure out if you prefer A or B here and I need you to tell me.”
      [This one lays the ground work for the next one.]
      “I have mentioned before that there are times when I do not know which route you want me to go with these things. There is no need to get angry with me. It’s just a question, that is all. No harm is intended.”

      You can also use, “I don’t speak to you in that tone for a reason. I don’t want to be spoken to in that tone.” This only works though if you actually have not mirrored his tone back at him.

      Of the places I have worked that had a person like this, most of the underlings rallied in support of each other. They would work together to collect up the information necessary for each other without involving this difficult person. Perhaps you can find peers that can help you circumvent the dude most of the time. Given enough time and enough creative thinkers almost any employee can be circumvented if necessary. Sadly, it’s something I have had to learn, too.

  11. RG*

    I got an offer! I’m super excited, and I’m probably going to accept, but I have a question for you: has anyone negotiated for benefits related to continuing education? I’d be working as a developer, so I’d like to have some type of discount for a conference or class if possible.

    1. azvlr*

      Congratulations on your offer! I haven’t personally negotiated for continuing education benefits, but I like that you are thinking creatively about how to add value to your overall compensation at a minimal cost to your employer.

    2. HM in Atlanta*

      Congrats! Negotiating for continuing ed benefits is pretty common in certain areas of the IT world. It kind of depends on if you have a super-hot skillset or not. If you are in any way connected to java or cyber security skills, you have a much better chance of that working. (I just committed in an offer letter for a lead java candidate to attend X conference every year for the next 3 years).

      That said – if it’s a conference or class that you need to actually do your job, the company should be paying for that anyway.

    3. BRR*

      I think classes and conferences are two separate questions. I’d probably start by asking what professional development opportunities are available. Now if you want classes for a degree, I’d ask about that specifically.

  12. Walnut*

    For the past year, I’ve been performing a job that I’ve insisted is department-manager level work. Very briefly, I have experience in a very specialized area of Teapot Making: Teapot Safety Code compliance – lots of knowledge about fiddly little laws and rules that no one else at Company seemed to take into consideration. When I started this job, there was no Teapot Safety department at all, though there definitely needed to be, and it was just me, a lowly Teapot Production Assistant, and another assistant taking on all of the compliance work part time, alongside our other duties.

    The other assistant quit recently and my insistence that there should be a full-fledged Teapot Safety Compliance Manager and department have been heard. But since I’m the most senior person doing this work right now, they want me to help interview candidates for the position. All these candidates have 10+ years of experience in Teapot Safety Compliance and are being interviewed by the CFO, the VP, a Senior VP, another VP, and then little ol’ me.

    What on earth do I ask these candidates about? This position would basically start this department from scratch, and I’m going to be phased out and put full-time on Teapot Production, according to the VPs I’ve spoken with. I have no idea what questions I should ask.

    So, if you were interviewing someone for a very senior, new position what would you ask? I’m planning on chatting a little about the ins and outs of safety compliance codes, etc, just to get a handle on whether her knowledge background is robust enough (I’m the only one with this expertise in the company right now) but I feel incredibly awkward posing the kind of interview-y questions I think I’m supposed to be posing. Help!!

    1. PX*

      I’d want to know about their management style (they will be interacting/managing people?), what kind of experience they have in starting/initiating big projects like this, how they would go about instilling a culture of safety and compliance (if relevant) etc.

    2. azvlr*

      Wait! I’m not clear on why you are interviewing others, instead of the company just promoting you. At the very least you have a strong case for a raise or bonus. Quantify it when you make your case by stating how much money you the company in fines or lawsuits that you averted.

      If you are not promoted into this position and interview the person who will be your new manager, you want to have a good rapport with them. Definitely find out about their management style, but also think in terms of how that style gels with your ideal of a manager.

      1. Walnut*

        I’ve told them I don’t want the job. I’m planning on leaving for graduate school this coming fall and wouldn’t have the time to solidify the department and integrate it well into the company, so it would be irresponsible for me to take the job in the first place! (My boss knows I’m planning on leaving, but not our respective VP, yet.)

        Also, this person won’t be my new manager. I’m being taken off this project completely. I like the idea of asking about management style, though, because that matters so much. Thanks!

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Alison! I had a dream a few nights ago that I asked you to be a reference for me. You were not happy and wrote a mean blot post about me. That’s all I remember. I woke up laughing.

    3. Bob Howard*

      Can you design a case study or test exercise based on your recent work? :

      “Here is the test Teapot Safety situation. What do we need to do to comply with the relevant codes & laws? The documentation is here [show copies of all required reference material]. You may google as necessary. You have 30 minutes.”

      A high paid position like this will attract a number of very plausible bullshitters. A test like this will weed out every one who does not have the required familiarity with the detail of the compliance laws and rules.

      1. Gene*

        We use something like this in our field positions. The basic question goes like this, “You are going to a reservoir to take samples of it, as you reach the top of the embankment above the reservoir, you notice several animals that appear to be dead near the water’s edge. What do you do?”

        I’ll just leave this here and come back tomorrow to post what we expect as an answer, and what will almost definitely take you our of the running. Feel free to think about it and post your answer if you like.

        1. Sue D. O'Nym*

          Hope that I’m wearing something brightly colored, so the hunters can tell I’m not one of their targets?

          Ensure that I am wearing (or have access to) safety equipment (gloves, respirator, good boots, etc) to obtain the samples, and put a rush on the testing.

          1. mondegreen*

            Agreed with all that.

            I’m pretty sure dead animals would/could contaminate the water, so there are two options I see: sample in the designated area, or sample outside the radius of probable contamination (established by the job manual/training/practical experience). Either way I’d make a detailed note in my field notebook, and copy it to the main spreadsheet when I got back.

            If any tests run on the water were highly sensitive to organics in a way that could gunk up the machinery, I’d be sure to clearly communicate it to the lab.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          The first thing I would do is check them for bullet holes. People shoot and let the animal drop where ever. I’d want to see if I could quickly spot a likely reason for COD.
          I am guessing that this would have to be reported to DEC and DOH. I would not be surprised to find out there is a specific test or group of tests that must be done on samples from the reservoir. (In the course of all that reporting, the animals would be removed for testing, a boil water notice might go out, etc.)

          This is way out of my league though, I just see what our municipality goes through with the water supply. It’s awesome.

  13. Charlotte Gray*

    There is a whole bunch of drama going on at the department head-level at my work (one level above me), which normally I’d stay out of, but my boss and my former boss (they’re both heads) bitch to me about each other all the time. I’d really like to get myself out of this situation, but it’s very clear they aren’t willing to sit down and have a come-to-Jesus moment together and sort it out. Is it time for me to talk to our CEO (their boss)? Everyone in the office knows about it and complains about one of them. Frankly, it’s making me dread going to work. Thanks!

    1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      If they wont talk it out and its making you dread going to work then talk to the CEO. Hopefully they’ll keep it anonymous and since everyone knows about the drama there wont be hard feelings. They’re at work, they need to be adults.

    2. cajun2core*

      The next time one of them comes to you and starts complaining about the other person, you need to firmly but not forcefully say, “Sorry, I don’t want to get in the middle of this. I suggest you speak to someone else about it.”

    3. Beancounter in Texas*

      You could just continue being a sounding board and just nod and smile. I never agree to intercede on their behalf, but if asked for advice, I suggest they go to the person about whom they’re complaining because they’re the only person who can solve the problem. (Sometimes even I forget that.)

    4. Biff*

      Eurgh. I am dealing with this on a personal, not work level and I think that the same approach might work for both.

      When Fergus starts complaining to you about Adele, you might try saying “I’m sorry, I can’t really take this on right now. It tears up my day and it’s not productive. You and Fergus need to talk to each other to resolve this. I don’t have the authority to do anything about the situation, and I don’t have any advice.”

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I would just say to both of them separately, “Gee, I can’t really help you with Mary/Georgina. I guess you’ll have to talk to her directly about that. About those TPS reports….”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      People have provide some scripts here that will work. I have a couple ideas to mull over.
      Hang on to the idea that all of you are enabling these two to keep doing what they are doing. It’s one of those situations where remaining passive is also a decision. Sometimes being passive works and makes stuff go away but not in settings with two people habitually griping about each other. They are just going to keep griping to you for the rest of your life. One pair i I know of, personally, it has been 30 years of bickering. Yes. Thirty. Feeling more motivated yet? ;)

      Which brings me to point number two, it’s habit. Their steady stream of gripes is a habit with both of them. Some people derive energy from being in a constant state of upset. You take away their ability to be upset and they may not have enough energy to get through their day. Or it could be a vital sign, you know, like breathing or having a pulse rate. Is this person griping? If yes, then they are alive and functioning.

      It’s good to keep this type of stuff in mind because it serves as a reminder if you keep doing as you have been doing you will get more of the same. The only way this will change is if you change what you are doing.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I once filed a CV that was justified AND in all caps. So twenty pages of awkward spacing and yelling.

      I guess when you have tenure you really can do whatever you want?

        1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

          right, left, or centered is fine, but when you justify it if stretches out your lines to fill the page from one margin to the other

          s o i t l o o k e d a lot like that but I can’t type an entire line out that way because it’s killing me.

    2. cajun2core*

      The worse part is, someone (probably at a college career office) most likely told this person to put his/her resume in all caps because it would make them “stand out”.

      1. Artemesia*

        I got that one. It had ‘Mycompany’s VP for Finance’ under it, the job he was hoping to be interviewed for. As if.

    3. Creag an Tuire*

      I COMPOSED THIS RESUME AFTER DRINKING POWERTHIRST!!! BECAUSE POWERTHIRST MAKES YOU WIN! AT! RESUMES!!!!!

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        My boss types e-mail in all caps all the time. Based on the experience I had the other day with having to help him un-hit the NumLock key, then again one minute later (he was still baffled by it, and had clearly hit it again after I instructed him to in order to fix the problem, but didn’t recall how to fix the EXACT SAME problem I’d just helped him with), I’m guessing the CapsLock key got hit one day, and he thought to himself “huh, all my letters are capital” and just never asked anyone how to fix it. So he’d be on the clueless end of your clueless/brazen scale.

  14. Tiffany*

    I got a job!

    It’s only part-time and seasonal, but it is at the same non-profit I interned with for over a year. It wasn’t planned at all. I got a text from the CEO about needing part-time help with one of their busiest programs going on right now. Talked to them, started the next day, and all is great. Part-time actually works really well for me right now because it still comes out as more than I get in unemployment, and gives me steady income alongside income from freelance work I’ve been doing.

    I’m really excited!

    1. Meg Murry*

      Congrats! FYI, since the job is only part time and seasonal, you should read up to see if you should keep filing unemployment paperwork or if you would be eligible to re-open your file when the seasonal work ends.

      In my state you are allowed a certain amount of income and can still receive pro-rated unemployment. For instance, to throw some fake numbers out, I was eligible for $300 a week in unemployment, but then I got a part time job paying $320 a week. So that would seem like I wouldn’t get anything- but our state has a pro-rating formula where they don’t count the first 20% against unemployment – so when filing they only counted 80% of my income and then paid me the difference up to my $300 – so in my fake math case I was credited with $320*80% = $256 of income, and I was paid the $44 difference, meaning I got $366 a week total between unemployment and working instead of just $300. Not a ton of money, but it all helped, especially weeks where I earned less than that (like you might be facing with the holidays coming up, I’m assuming part time won’t pay holiday pay). It also meant I was still eligible back for the full benefit after the seasonal job ended right away, whereas if I’d stopped doing the paperwork it would have taken at least 2 weeks to get my case renewed and reinstated. Even if I had earned enough to not get any payment from unemployment that week, it still kept me active in the system as long as I applied for positions and filled out the (online) paperwork every other week instead of everything week.

  15. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    I forgot it was Friday until this second! What a wonderful surprise (far more wonderful than waiting for the open thread and then remembering it’s Wednesday).

    I’ve sent out some applications in my low-stakes job search and feel impatient because I want to know if I’m getting interviews (especially since if they wanted an in-person interview I’d have to plan travel), but rationally I know it’s December in academia. I’m not going to hear anything positive or negative until after the new year.

    I’m taking a big leap and applying for a position (full-time permanent, not term!) in Copenhagen. I doubt I’ll get an interview but it’s one of those things: If I don’t at least try I’ll be wondering “what if?” If I try and get rejected, I’ll know that “if!”

  16. Carla*

    My office’s holiday party is next week and I think everyone is going. I want to go just to make an appearance, socialize a bit, and leave. Sometimes I enjoy these kinds of events but I am kind of socially awkward and these kinds of events can make me anxious. The conventional wisdom is to just smile and ask people about themselves because people love to talk about themselves. In my experience, people don’t just want to talk about themselves and they want to talk about me too. I really don’t like talking about myself and I hate being put on the spot. Some of my favorite topics are the big no-nos like current events, politics, religion.

    What are some more office party friendly topics to keep in mind ? Topics like Kim and Kanye’s new baby Saint West? But then again I’d probably seem clueless if I bring up the Kardashians in conversation?

    1. Artemesia*

      Movies. If you haven’t seen the fall batch of Oscar bait, maybe view a couple? Or if you haven’t you can ask if they have and then ask them how they liked them etc as you are trying to choose one to see. e.g. Brooklyn, Martian, Spotlight for a start.

    2. Mando Diao*

      Ask them to name their top 5 holiday foods. This stuff doesn’t have to seem natural. If you’re genial about it, people will appreciate that you’re just being goofy and trying to talk a little.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      Food, restaurants, and cooking usually work for me. But I am passionate about eating so… I’ll talk about something great I just made and ask if they have made anything good lately, etc.

    4. Sparrow*

      – Movies, TV, books. The new Star Wars movie is coming out – maybe people will want to talk about their plans to dress up or camp outside the theater. What’s good to binge watch on Netflix?
      – Vacation, holiday plans. How’s the Christmas shopping going? (If applicable)
      – Ask about their kids or pets, again if applicable.

    5. videogame Princess*

      I would probably say hello, grab a book, and sit in the corner and wait for someone to wander in. Probably NOT the best advice though.

  17. KarenT*

    There was a local company that posted a job online (I think on Monster, but definitely one of the big career sites) looking for an entry level admin. The posting said that the job would also include reception duties, and so female candidates were preferred. I can’t even explain how gross I thought that was, but appears the story has now gone viral. I’ll attach the link in my reply.

    And I’m in Ontario, where this is very much illegal.

    1. Marketing Girl*

      My boss would totally do something like that. (In the midwest of the US) He has told me to MY FACE that front desk and customer service should ALWAYS be a female because, “it just sounds nicer to have them on the phone” – GAG. But what do you expect from a guy who also hires people with qualifications like; “she’s trim”, “she’s young”, “she likes to play sports”…..KID YOU NOT….*sigh*

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oh wow. I don’t understand that way of thinking at all! My former boss hated one of her direct reports and fired her. And then said she would never hire another vegan again. What the heck does that have to do with job performance! The woman never talked about it or anything so it’s not like her dietary choices were disruptive.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          She didn’t like the person, so she found something SPECIFIC (although completely non-work-related) that she could call out to justify her actions. Conflating her dislike (which sounds unfounded, from your comment) of this person as being representative of all vegans. She might as well have said, “well, I’ll never hire another bingo-playing Taurus again!”

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I used the word “conflating” in a sentence a couple of weeks ago… and someone asked me if that was a real word or one I made up.

      2. RLA*

        Yeah, I had a coworker once tell me that women are “just better at customer service. They have that nice, womanly way” and I was just like…ew. This guy wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box either so I learned to ignore him best I could.

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      When I was in the Middle East, I interviewed for a job as an operations manager, and the owner was so proud of himself for hiring cashiers because they were “very pretty.” I didn’t take the job for other reasons, but that was so odd to me.

      At Former Job, old school Boss had a hard time accepting a man as a receptionist/admin/bookkeeper. He said, “I am a feminist, but I’m just having a hard time picturing a man as a receptionist.” Fair enough. Boss got over it. Man was hired.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Ugh, when I left an admin asst job, I was replaced with a guy. One of my old coworkers called and said the male managers won’t give him any work to do, instead they track down any woman in the office and give it to them. Gross.

      2. Snarky McSnark*

        I worked as a temp one summer during college and one of the jobs was general filing and back-up phone reception. One of the sales women mentioned after the first of 3 weeks how refreshing it was to hear a male voice in that role.

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      I can see being annoyed but I think it’s a tad of a reach to be outraged over it. People are dumb and don’t think. It’s good to know they outed themselves as dopes. If someone googles the company in searching for a role, they’ll see the ad and know.

    4. esra*

      Web dev in Concord? Oh man, I feel so bad for anyone with a gig there. Guaranteed it’s one of those shops that barely pays minimum wage.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I had a boss that said she did not want any women working immediately under her, she only wanted men working as supervisors for her.

      It did not go well.

      Even if you push people on the point, they still do not get it and problems flow.

  18. aNoN*

    I need opinions and advice. I have been at my job for about 1 year and 8 months. So far my reviews have been fine and my boss likes my work. However, I struggle to fit into the culture and feel like an odd ball sometimes. I just don’t mesh with my coworkers. We get along fine but our communication style and ways of working are not compatible. Plus there is tension regarding my scheduling. Due to therapy for trauma, I have to leave early on Fridays (cleared by manager) but someone on my team who is an indirect supervisor is not happy about it. I flex my schedule so I work more Monday-Thursday but leave a bit early on Friday. The company offers flex time as a benefit btw.

    Same supervisor will be going on maternity leave soon and my boss thinks I should be able to pick up her work. Honestly, yes, I can am totally capable of doing so but I am dreading it. I think her work is the most boring yet stressful thing someone in our group could do. We work closely together so I have a pretty good handle on what she does which makes me dread her due date. I feel bad but I want to leave and get a job where I feel like my work is meaningful and like I am developing as a professional. This is my second job out of college so I am fairly young and the most junior on my team. I am at the point where I know the day I pass my last CPA exam, I will put in my notice ASAP.

    My boss is nice and understanding. He is in a hard place because his team has people switching roles soon, someone going on maternity leave, and we are understaffed. He gives me guidance when I need/ask for it. The pay and benefits are good. Yet, this is not enough for me and I want to be somewhere where I feel like I belong, which is what I felt at my last job but had to leave due to a horrible commute.

    What are your thoughts? Is it wise to leave in this situation? I am afraid of burning bridges but I am so unhappy. I would like to do more technical work in my field vs what I am doing now. All suggestions, past experiences, etc are welcome.

    1. Dawn*

      Don’t martyr yourself over your job. It’s a job, it puts money in your pocket. Only YOU can decide what your breaking point is.

      This isn’t a marriage, there’s not some big long drawn out legal process for you to leave. It’s literally Step 1: Apply for jobs. Step 2: Land a new job. Step 3: Tell your current job that you’re leaving.

      If you don’t like your job and it’s making you unhappy, start looking for a new job! That’s a fine reason to want to leave.

    2. LCL*

      Based on just what you have posted, I think you should stick it out until you pass your exams. You have a good job with good benefits, and you get along with the boss and aren’t being mistreated. And you already have a plan to leave once your exams are done. The biggest concern is the boss thinks ‘you will be able to pick up her work’. How much work? A little, some, or all? If you find yourself melting down because you are really trying to do 2 full time jobs in 40 hours/week, leave.

      Re fitting in and feeling like you belong-this is less common than you think. It’s kind of BS that people in power are pushing to cover up what has happened to working conditions, schedules, and benefits since the 80s. Most workers have lost ground, and if they complain about being unsatisfied with things, it’s because they aren’t a good fit/ie the worker is flawed. Don’t believe it.

      1. aNoN*

        I have been thinking about this comment a lot. The company I work for pushes the culture from the top down to the point where we have events centered around the company values and have to talk about how we embody the values….it makes me feel like if you don’t agree or play along with it, you are shunned and will not advance very much. This has been a bizarre experience. I have three more CPA exams to study for and fingers crossed, I will pass them all in the spring!!
        This timing means I would leave right when coworker goes on mat leave. What makes me nervous is that in the future, I would like to have a contact to reach out to on my team that would be a good reference as they are all senior to me. Any thoughts on this? I have other contacts in the organization I could reach out to as well but was not sure if this would matter.

        1. misspiggy*

          Leaving for another job when your coworker goes on maternity leave shouldn’t burn bridges with reasonable bosses, unless you’ve specifically accepted the maternity cover as an internal promotion, and/or at a higher wage. Even then, a decent employer should accept it as one of those things. It’s not like you punched anyone or stole from the till. If nobody immediately senior to you is reasonable you could look elsewhere in the company, but you shouldn’t need to as far as I can see.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          It sounds like you have a decent boss. It also sounds like you have a good handle on the work itself and I assume you do a good job. I think you should be okay here. Hopefully, the new place does not ask for references from your current place, so you mean you want references for a while from now. I think that once you have given notice you can ask a couple people if they would be able to do that for you. You can apologize about the poor timing to your boss, but he knows part of his job is to have a plan in place in anticipation of ANYONE leaving. So he should have a plan in place for your position if you left.

  19. Sasha Mulberry*

    Weird experience of the week:

    I had an interview. The CMO asked me if I had a sense of humor. I said “of course” (big smile). He said, “Tell me a joke.” He was serious. He waited. Brain froze. “Is he really asking me this?” I’m thinking. Still waiting.

    So I told him the G-rated “Dog walks into a saloon with a bandage on his leg, holds it up and asks the barman, “I’m lookin’ for the man who shot my Paw.”

    1. Wolfman's Brother*

      Did he laugh?

      Seriously that is a weird thing to be asked. What type of position was this for?

      1. Kelly L.*

        Very weird. I read this and then racked my brain to see what joke would surface first–whew, mine is also clean, involving the bassists of an orchestra…

      2. Sasha Mulberry*

        A creative position. He kind of groaned (and I get that) and said “well, we put you on the spot.”

        Then he said “The only ones I know are dirty.”

        For many many reasons, I am no longer interested.

        1. Biff*

          That was my exact thought while I was reading your post, actually — the only ‘punchline’ style jokes I know are really off color. Most of my humor is situation and puntacular. Still, he might have not SAID it.

        2. Anlyn*

          I laughed so hard I got into a coughing fit. What the hell is up with that company? At least you were able to think of something; I wouldn’t have been able to come up with even a bad joke.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      The only joke that would have immediately popped into my head would have been:

      What’s brown and sticky?

      A stick.

      I think yours was a good one! How did the interviewer react?

        1. hermit crab*

          That’s my mom’s favorite joke! (Except her version is “Where does the king keep his armies?”) If someone ever asked me to tell a joke on the spot, I guarantee that’s the only one that I’d be able to think of.

        1. olympiasepiriot*

          You know, my computer is always having problems. Last week it was singing! IT said its a Dell.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Before you tell that one, you need to tell this one: What’s brown and sounds like a bell?

        Dung! (sung in a bell-like voice)

        Then, when you tell yours, they will already be led to a different type of answer, making your answer even more surprising.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      “I went to college but didn’t learn anything. It’s my own fault. I did a double major in Psychology and Reverse Psychology.”

      1. Sasha Mulberry*

        They really were not good interviewers. Plus — PLUS! — he gave me “little lady” handshake when I walked in.

        WHO DOES THAT ANYMORE?

          1. Sasha Mulberry*

            You know. The kind of handshake where he only grasps the end of your fingers. Instead of a full handful.

            Because I’m a delicate female flower and he’s a man, apparently.

      2. Artemesia*

        Yup. I would have been tempted to say ‘Oh I don’t TELL jokes, I laugh at other people’s jokes. I have a great sense of humor; why don’t you tell me your favorite?’

    4. alter_ego*

      Even just reading this comment, I completely forgot every joke I know. I’m impressed you managed to come up with anything, let alone something G-rated, since I KNOW if I were put on the spot and panicking like that, every joke I would be able to think of would be super dirty.

      In case it comes up again, my favorite joke is: What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?

    5. Annie Moose*

      Was his name King Kai and you were interviewing for the position of him training you in martial arts or something?

      [/dbzjokes]

    6. Kassy*

      I tried that. Took me like 30 seconds, which would have been horrid in an interview, and the one I did come up with, I stole from HIMYM:

      “What do you get when you cross a canary with a lawn mower? Shredded Tweet!”

    7. Sara*

      “How many Chicago School economists does it take to change a lightbulb?”
      “None. If the lightbulb needed to be changed, the market would take care of it.”

      1. arjumand*

        “How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?”

        “Only one; but the lightbulb has to want to change.”

        And this joke only occurred to me because I read the other lightbulb jokes.
        What a nightmare interview.

    8. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      Most of my best jokes are choir-related.

      How do you know there’s a soprano at the door?
      She can’t find the key and doesn’t know when to come in.

      1. Trillian*

        One of my choirmasters voiced the opinion that the reason sopranos had such wonderful head resonance was there was nothing up there to interfere with the sound.

        Abuse us though they may, we still come out on top.

    9. Elsajeni*

      What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?
      [person you are telling the joke to inevitably says ‘Arrrr?’]
      Ah, you may think it be Arrrr, but his true love be the Sea.

  20. Rat Racer*

    Hello AAM Community, I need your advice. I recommended a former colleague of mine for a position that recently opened up in my department, but reports to a different VP. This person was a mentor of mine when we worked together at previous company, and they are one of the most talented directors I’ve ever collaborated with. The new role at current company would be a great fit – and current company desperately needs someone with my colleague’s skill set in this role.

    However, the VP over the new role interviewed my colleague and relayed to me that he wasn’t super impressed. He said that my colleague gave very general answers to questions on strategy and operations. I suspect that this may be because my old company and new company are fierce competitors, and my colleague felt constrained over what they could reveal. I said as much to the VP. My question: is there anything I can or should do at this point? I don’t think that the VP has decided “definitely no,” but he may just hold/delay on forwarding Former Colleague to next stage of the hiring process.

    I am nervous about sticking my neck out too far, but I honestly think it’s in the company’s best interest to give my colleague another shot. And should I say anything to my colleague? Is there anything they could do in a follow-up thank you note or something?

    1. NJ Anon*

      How about suggesting a second interview? Maybe with someone else? We often do that to get someone else’s “take” on a prospective employee.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      Is it up to only this one Vp? I would think a director level position would be interviewed by quite a few people and the Vp would take the collective feedback under consideration…just sayin. Of course ultimately if he didn’t like him for some weird personal reason, all the positive feedback from others may not sway him or her.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The fact that the VP expressed his specific concerns to you, could be him tipping his hand. It could be the VP wants to go to a second interview with your friend but needs more concrete reasons as to why he should, so the VP decided to be candid with you.

      Secondly, since your friend works for a major competitor I think that it will take some doingto make the VP just say NO. Your friend would have had to fall flat on his face, but he didn’t. And we know this because the VP is still thinking about his convo with your friend.

      I think you may have nailed this one down already and not even realized. If it were me, I would make sure the VP had a clear understanding of why I recommend my friend. I would be specific, he is great at X, he developed new processes for Y, he is interested in undeveloped area Z. (Where X, Y and Z are all things your company really wants.) I would also suggest that the VP mention to my friend that the VP had hoped for more specifics rather than general conversation. Your friend sounds like he could handle a comment like that from the VP.
      When I have been the bridge in some settings (like you are the bridge here) I have encouraged the person in doubt to go ahead and candidly state their doubt/concern. People of the caliber similar to your friend’s CAN handle that conversation, they know what to say.

      If you are looking for a next step, maybe just go back to the VP and encourage him to speak openly to your friend regarding his concerns with your friend’s candidacy.

      I am not too sure what, if anything I would say to my friend. It sounds like your friend can hold his own and really may not need more inputs from you… if your friend asks, definitely tell him the truth.

  21. LibrarianJ*

    After over a year of procrastinating, talking myself out of it, etc., I’m finally seeking treatment for my anxiety. Encouragement from this community here was instrumental in helping me realize that I could get help without causing problems with my work, so thank you all for that!

    Part of this meant going on medication about a week ago. It’s been causing some pretty unpleasant side effects over the last few days — intermittent waves of dizziness/lightheadedness, nausea, and exhaustion. When this happens, it can be very difficult to focus on work (or even sit up) for a little while. Sometimes it would be helpful just to put my head down for a few minutes, but I don’t really have a private place to do that– my office is shared and has a glass door; it would probably be frowned upon in the staff room, and the folks who frequent that space can be pretty gossipy; and even if I went to my car I’d be plainly visible since students are constantly passing through the parking lot. I’ve settled for leaning against a wall in the restroom for a few minutes, but that’s not ideal and feels, well, kind of gross.

    This is supposed to pass in a couple of weeks or so, but I’m not sure what to do in the meantime. The first time it happened, I asked to leave early (I was also concerned about my 60 min drive home), but I need to try not to do that again, and I guess I’m not sure what a good alternative would be. I’ve been trying to avoid telling my boss about all this — I’ve been able to make all of my appointments on Saturdays — but I think she’d be understanding if I had to loop her in; still, I don’t know what’s appropriate to ask of her in this situation, if I should say something in order to avoid this reflecting poorly on me, or if that would be overly dramatic and I should just make do until the side effects pass. I’d appreciate any advice!

    1. LizB*

      I don’t think you need to tell your boss any details about why you’re having these symptoms, but you should probably tell her that you’re having them. “Jane, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been having some intermittent dizziness and fatigue because of something my doctor is trying — it’s not a big deal, and will clear up in the next few weeks, but I wanted to make sure you knew what was going on.” Then, if she seems sympathetic, you could try saying, “Thanks for your understanding. If the dizziness ever gets really bad, is there a good space in the office where I could sit or put my head down for a few minutes? I don’t know if doing that in the staff room would be appropriate.”

      1. LibrarianJ*

        Thank you! — particularly with my anxieties, it’s very helpful to have a specific words in hand that I can use. I like this script a lot.

    2. april ludgate*

      If you’re uncomfortable telling your boss that it’s anxiety you’ve been dealing with, which is understandable because people can have unpredictable reactions to mental illnesses (like telling you that there’s no reason to be anxious! Doesn’t hearing that make you feel better?), you could just keep it vague and say it’s a medical issue you’re working on resolving. There are plenty of things other than anxiety meds that cause dizzy spells and most people probably won’t pry beyond that.

    3. Owl*

      I’d loop in your boss, you don’t have to specify what the medication is for — simply that you’re on new medication, and it has side effects such as X that you’ll have to deal with over the next few weeks. It could be medication for your heart or your liver or any number of things.

    4. Ihmmy*

      congrats on seeking treatment! It can be really tough to admit that something is bad enough to need help, and then getting that help is a whole other rigmarole. I hope this med works out for you!

      1. LibrarianJ*

        Thank you! It’s definitely taken a long time to get here, and friends/family have had a hard time understanding why it has taken me so long to address something that is so clearly a problem. The congrats really do mean a lot!

    5. Anona*

      It’s awesome that you decided to get help. The side effects of the meds I’m on for anxiety lasted a few weeks, but my god the improvement they’ve made was worth it (obvs meds react differently person to person, but I hope the same is true for you).

      I told my boss right away about my issues. I’ve actually gone to him and been like “I’m having anxiety about abc, should I be worried?” I have a great boss who finds it endearing, but I understand this isn’t the case for everyone. I wouldn’t go to him about mundane work duties, or everyday, but if something is causing me mental anguish I know I can go to him. He also let me work from home one day because I was having anxiety about my beloved pet escaping during an apt inspection (I totally did not need to be home, but again he was so understanding). I think employer attitudes are changing about this kind of stuff, which is great!

      1. LibrarianJ*

        I’m hoping for the same! It’s helpful to hear that it was worth sticking it out for you — by mid yesterday afternoon I was having some second thoughts.

        It sounds like you have a great situation with your boss — that’s wonderful that he’s so understanding! It’s getting to that first conversation that’s hard, particularly because parts of my job require things that trigger my anxiety (and yet, still, I do weirdly love those parts). Although my boss is generally pretty sympathetic, and I do have one friend who firmly believes that whatever I think I’m hiding, it’s so transparent that my boss definitely already knows.

    6. OriginalEmma*

      When I went on too high a dose of medication, it caused me the symptoms you described. Any chance of scaling down before scaling up? For example, 5mg for two weeks, then 10mg up until the appropriate dose?

      1. LibrarianJ*

        That’s a very good question (and I noticed that Sammie had kind of the same suggestion, below) — I hadn’t given a lot of thought to specific dosage, since it already seemed pretty small, but that might be a solution. And I think the scheduling may be having an impact on my side effects, too. Maybe I’ll try checking in with my doctor, and see if he’d recommend scaling down the dosage given what I’m running into. I tried a different (not totally dissimilar) drug once several years ago, and this seemed to be par for the course every time I changed dosage in either direction — but back then I was working fewer and shorter days, and had more privacy to hide in a corner when I needed a break, so it was easier to manage.

        Thanks!

    7. Sammie*

      I’m on the X-meds. I had the extreme sleepiness side effect. I talked to my doctor and we ended up halving my dose and rescheduling when I took the pill. Please talk to your Dr.

      1. Sasha Mulberry*

        That’s what I was thinking. Call the doctor, this doesn’t seem like the kind of reaction a person can adjust to.

    8. Yetanotherjennifer*

      No work advice, just my best wishes from anxious person to another. Hang in there! It’s rough getting on but can be very worth it. And if this one doesn’t work then another one will. Good luck!

    9. Merely*

      As others have said, many medications cause dizziness (blood pressure & allergy meds come immediately to mind), so if you give your boss a heads up about your side effects, it’s not going to be obvious it’s anxiety meds.
      You could talk to your doctor about decrasing the dose and titrating up slowly, or if it’s okay to take your dose before bed instead if it’s a once daily med. Please don’t give up on it completely without talking to your doctor first! I know for a lot of psych meds it takes 2-4 weeks for side effects to subside and the good effects to begin (looking at you, SSRIs), but it can be so so worth it.

    10. hermit crab*

      I’ve gone through this exact thing a few times. I’ve always just referred to it as “temporary side effects from some changes in medication” and everyone has always been 100% cool with it. The worst that’s ever happened is people offering up their go-to home remedies for nausea.

      Also, something else that’s helped me is having a coworker who can look after me a little bit. During one of these transition periods, I was working in the same office as my BFF and he would offer to drive me home, let people know that I was taking a quick break and would be back in a minute, etc. (Though occasionally he also would be like, “So you are dizzy, huh! Let me take this opportunity to spin around and around in front of you and make you feel even dizzier!” haha) Anyway, I think you should give your manager a not-very-detailed heads-up, and then she can be someone who’s on your side instead of something you are worrying about.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Not exactly what you were asking but when I was having full blown panic attacks with dizziness, I found two small things helpful. One was to deliberately breathe slowly in and slowly out. The other was to watch my self-talk. “oh crap, not this again. oh man how am I going to get through the day! what about the drive home?!”
      Try to avoid going down this road. When you think one of these negatives, quickly think a positive thought.
      That could look like this:
      Negative thought: Oh crap, not this again!
      Positive statement: I am working on it, it will get better.

      Negative thought: how am I going to get through the day?
      Positive statement: I am safe here. I will be okay.

      Negative thought: How will I get home?
      Positive statement: The drive home will be okay because I will be proud of me for working through this.

      As an aside, pretty much any positive statement has the potential to be powerful. So don’t worry about which positive statement to use. And yes, it does take doing this repeatedly to gain some ground. So if you miss, one time, just hit it the next time.

    1. STJ*

      I recently interviewed people to join my team and a single candidate out of 6 sent a thank you email. It was my first ever in 5 years and it felt really weird getting it. I’m leaning towards no in the UK unless you spent a lot of time with the interviewer and got a rapport going, then it may not seem to strange.

    2. Rowan*

      I would say no, and that no is closer to absolutely not than to maybe. I would find receiving one very strange and probably quite pushy. But there are fields where the norms are different and there are companies that work closely with offices in the States where it might be more normal.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’ve never sent one but its a good idea to email a recruitment consultant after an interview to let them know what you think.

    4. misspiggy*

      I’ve had thank you emails, which have sometimes made me remember to recommend a good-but-unsuccessful candidate when other departments have had vacancies. I don’t think a quick follow up email does any harm, but an actual note or card would be right out.

  22. LOtheAdmin*

    Had the most awkward experience that I’ve ever had at any job yesterday.

    There’s a woman who works with me who seems to be having a serious mental breakdown. She runs the whole spectre. Crying one minute, super happy the next. Yelling at people on the phone (personal calls) while neglecting her regular duties. Spouting off conspiracy theories about why she isn’t getting what she wants right now despite her strong skills. Writing me post it notes saying she “hates” this co-worker of ours, then is perfectly nice to them the next day like she never said anything.

    All of this has been building up to yesterday. I’m a receptionist where I work, and she sat down at my desk and unloaded all her problems on me, both personal and professional, which culminated in her having a crying fit with me and me having to literally talk to her and help her stop crying.

    I told my bosses everything this morning, but this woman is such a distraction for me and the people sitting around me. I’m exhausted from all the drama she’s created and the additional drama she’s trying to stir up.

    1. NJ Anon*

      Wow. We had a similar situation. The woman finally had a meltdown at work and ended up on disability. Perhaps the bosses need to speak to her about her behavior and how it is distracting to you and others.

    2. Dawn*

      This sounds less like a drama monger and more like a serious mental health issue. Could you give a heads up to this woman’s boss? “Fergie has been acting very strange lately and I’m really concerned about her” kind of heads up would be appropriate in this situation I think.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      :(
      You spoke to the bosses about it and now it’s on them to handle. I hope your company has an EAP and she can get a referral. It sounds like she could really use it (no shame in that).

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    I’m at a conference exhibiting. The vendor next door selling LED light bulbs (good deal) is singing. #truestory

    The day is barely half done and he’s quickly gone from funny to annoying.

    Also, it’s my birthday.

  24. Ad Girl*

    Hello! Daily reader, but not very often poster here at AAM. Have a situation at work I would love suggestions for – I have two coworkers who are incredibly close – eat lunch together every day, know every detail of each others’ personal lives, etc. Over their 10 years of working together here, they have very much developed a pack mentality (feel like it is a personal attack if someone doesn’t agree with them on a work issue, team up on things and exclude others on our team, hold on to work they should be sharing with others, etc.) The one will be retiring at the end of the year, and I am worried that these habits will only get worse for the other. The retirement is obviously going to be difficult, as she is losing the only person in our 70 person office that she feels is her ally on all issues, both work-related and personal. I am sympathetic to her to some degree, because I understand losing your closest friend at the office is hard, but I don’t think that is an excuse for the bad behavior to continue. This brings me to my question – any one have any suggestions on how to handle interactions with the non-retiring coworker during the transition? I know she is going to be upset and some bad behavior might get worse. I want to be able to handle interactions with her professionally (especially when we have conflicts) without it causing any emotional outburst. She has already cried before when talking about the retirement of the other coworker.

    1. Ad Girl*

      Forgot to add this – to add to the situation – my boss has worked with the retiring coworker for 25+ years and is also very sad to see her retiring. When the potential for issues has been brought up, she says “we have to be sure to be extra nice to coworker, as she is going to be very upset!” This makes me worry she may not be good to go to if there are issues after the retirement occurs.

    2. K*

      It may get better. Part of the issue is that they ‘team up’. If she’s solo now she’ll have less power.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. It might get better. For your own sanity, probably agreeing with her that you will miss Matilda also and it is so sad, etc, might be a good route to go.

        In an odd way your boss might be correct. If your coworker feels that everyone agrees with her and everyone is sad to see Matilda leave, she might realize that she has plenty of friends at work. If you can hold on to the idea that most people want a friend at work it might help to keep a perspective.

        Hidden in all this is a life lesson about workplace friendships. It’s too easy to become dependent on a cohort for companionship at work and neglect others. But this is putting all the eggs in one basket. It could be that your coworker retires sooner than expected because she just. can’t. cope. without her friend.

  25. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

    My entire organization (ha my, yup, I own it) a not-for profit health care group encompassing 16 offices has decided that every Friday is jean day. for a $1 donation staff can wear jeans. The donation goes to a fund available to help employees facing hardship confidentially. Its a great resource for those who need it. My thought, I pride myself on looking professional. My scrubs are always neat, well fitted and without cartoons. Being professionally dressed, I think, reassures patients that the woman who is about to put a needle in there arm wasn’t out on a binder all night.
    Im torn over the jeans though, it used to be once a month but now that its every Friday I actually have to think about it. I used to participate some months and not others, I did today. I’m wearing dark washed “skinny” jeans, on a curvy frame with a loose but not baggy dark scrub top. It looks like I did it all on purpose, not sexy, not sloppy but I don’t know if id call it professional. How would you feel about your phlebotomist wearing jeans?

    1. Sascha*

      From what you describe, that sounds fine to me. I wouldn’t think twice of a medical professional wearing jeans if they are clean and nice looking. Same goes for any other job for me – it’s not the garment itself, it’s the presentation.

    2. katamia*

      There’s a 50% chance I wouldn’t notice at all (I’m a bit oblivious) and a 50% chance I’d wonder about hygiene–what if they got blood/some other bodily substance on them? I actually don’t know if that really ever happens, but it might make me a bit uneasy (for their sake, not for mine–I wouldn’t think they were less competent or anything because they were wearing jeans). I mean, I’ve never had any kind of issue when getting my blood drawn and am not afraid of it so I wouldn’t leave or change labs over it, but I’d think it was a bit weird.

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        It really shouldn’t happen, ive been drawing for 10 years now and got serum on me one time because someone who should read AAM came up behind me while I was pipetting and grabbed my sides. there is 0 risk of exposure if you have the slightest idea what your doing.
        **working out patient, once patients are sick enough to be admitted to a hospital changes a bit I guess.

        1. katamia*

          Ah, that’s good to know. It never really seemed all that risky, but I wasn’t sure.

          Also, WTF at the person who came up behind you and grabbed you. I don’t know why someone would think that was okay.

    3. super anon*

      I got blood taken by a woman wearing a tutu & leggings at a clinic the other day, so i mean, it could always be worse!

      (seriously, i wouldn’t think twice about my plebotomist wearing jeans, especially on friday, which is generally known to be a jeans day. it someone brings it up mention you guys do it for charity and you should be ok!)

      1. Corporate Cynic*

        At the hospital where my dad used to be a physician, they also had a “Friday jeans day for charity” program. Everyone who participated wore a badge saying they’d donated to wear jeans, so that would help patients see what was going on.

    4. Rat Racer*

      I care about my Phlebotomist’s ability to extract blood from my tiny, incredibly hard to find veins on the first (or even second) try, and that they listen to me when I tell them that they need to use a #2 Butterfly needle because – trust me – nothing else will work. Beyond that, my Phlebotomist can wear a Tutu and bunny slippers, for all I care.

      1. Rat Racer*

        …and apparently, per Super Anon, some Phlebotomists do wear tutus. What about bunny slippers though?

      2. NacSacJack*

        Please tell me how to get them to listen!! And how I find out what needle they need to extract blood from my forearm. Ugghhhh. Do not use the back of my hand. I dont care if you cant find a vein in my arm, look harder.

        1. MaryMary*

          I’ve actually always wanted to ask a phlebotomist why they doubt patients who say they’re a difficult stick. Do some patients have delusions of difficulty? I have small, deeply buried veins and everytime I tell the phelebotomist that I’m tricky (or tell them that vein way off to the side of my elbow is their best bet, or ask to use a butterfly or pediatric needle) they brush me off until they’ve dug around in both arms for a while. Then they say, “wow, your veins ARE difficult to find!”

          1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

            I draw blood on 50 patients a day 48 of them tell me they’re difficult and I need a pediatric needle. I use one MAYBE once a day. the straight needles are small enough 99% of the time, its all technique. but yes, the majority of my patients have delusions of difficulty.

        2. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

          When you go in if there are multiple staff let them know that you always have a really hard time. hopefully that will queue them to ditch the new girl and grab someone with experience. drinking water- even before fasting labs helps ALOT

          1. Kassy*

            Definitely this! I never have problems when I say something beforehand, but whenever I don’t it inevitably becomes an ordeal with multiple people and multiple sticks in both arms.

          2. catsAreCool*

            Except for the last few times, when someone has drawn my blood, it tends to include a lot of poking the needle around in my arm trying to find the vein. These are always people who are experts. The butterfly needle works best for me.

      3. Annie Moose*

        You and my mom could swap horrible blood draw stories–every time, my mom tells them, “you’re going to have to take it from the back of my hand, the vein in my elbow always rolls away.” And every time, they go “clearly your previous phlebotomists were terrible at their jobs, I am amazing and always get it on the first time.”

        Three or four failed needle sticks later, they sheepishly give up and go for the back of her hand.

    5. Kyrielle*

      I really wouldn’t notice in the least. I’m much less interested in whether my phlebotomist is wearing jeans and more interested in what they’re doing with that needle. I mean, within limits – if they’re wearing ripped jeans with splotches on them that might be the blood of previous patients, I might worry. ;) But otherwise, I really don’t care much.

        1. Mando Diao*

          People often wear jeans a few days in a row without washing them. Most people who get blood drawn aren’t going to know that jeans are just for Fridays (and even then, who’s to say when they were washed last?), and I would be concerned about how many bar nights and blood droplets I was being exposed to. I would be similarly uneasy about any other type of clothing that could be easily reworn after social outings.

          Plus (and these are just my experiences), I’ve had enough lousy encounters with unprofessional phlebotomists (putting my results in someone else’s file, violating my privacy), that any whiff of casualness would resonate poorly with me. It’s just the nature of a profession that’s advertised on TV. I don’t think OP or most phlebotomists in general act this way, but I would prefer it if the people who are sticking me with needles make an effort to appear mature and professional.

          People don’t tend to trust healthcare professionals these days, and people in the real world aren’t as forgiving or open-minded as they are in the AAM comments section. When it comes to something like healthcare, I would err on the side of professionalism.

          1. Observer*

            ANY type of clothing can be re-worn, so the idea that jeans are more likely to have been re-worn – after getting sprayed with blood, no less! than any other clothes really is not realistic.

            And, my hands down worst experience with a phlebotomist was someone (in a hospital setting!) who totally violated some safety rules and was just plain bad at drawing blood. And, yes, she was “professionally” clothed and wearing a lab coat.

    6. stillLAH*

      I agree with Sascha. I’ve gotten blood drawn more in the last 5 months (hello pregnancy!) and I don’t usually pay attention to what the staff are wearing, especially not on the bottom. I think I’d notice if they weren’t wearing a scrub top, or if it was dirty, but personally I’m paying less attention to their bottom choice.

    7. Blue_eyes*

      Do you actually want to wear jeans to work? You could just give the $1 and then not wear jeans. Pretty sure that’s what my dad does when his office does a similar program.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I agree with the others, clothing has minimal impact; your demeanor will definitely do more to put people at ease. If you smiled, looked me in the eye, and communicated clearly and confidently, you could be wearing combat boots and a tiara for all I care, I’d love to have you do my draw.

    9. jamlady*

      I’ve had a lot of needles stuck in my arm. I have some chronic issues so it’s a regular thing. They used to practice on me at UCLA because my veins are “gorgeous” (lol) and I was never bothered by the feeling. I’ve never really noticed what anyone was wearing before, now that I think about it. I usually just notice how nervous they look. I’ve definitely had that young guy sweating bullets who put the strap on too tight and stuck me 30 times before I finally yelled at him to stop trying (that was a bad day). However, I honestly can’t remember what he was wearing. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I’d imagine scrubs are much more comfortable than jeans, but I don’t think you’ll find issues with how professional you look.

    10. Claire (Scotland)*

      I wouldn’t notice or care unless they were dirty or ragged. I pretty much live in dark blue bootcut jeans though, so they don’t stand out to me.

    11. oldfashionedlovesong*

      I would only care about my phlebotomist’s clothes if they were visibly dirty/stained because I’d immediately wonder about their handwashing practices. Otherwise, wear whatever makes you comfortable! I think your outfit today sounds perfectly appropriate.

    12. Nervous Accountant*

      I can’t say I would ever care. The only thing I really care about is if the phlebotomist can find my vein (hard to find) and draw blood in the least painful way possible. I’d only comment if they had cute scrubs or an interesting tattoo.

      I’m surprised there are people who actually care.

    13. Biff*

      I’ll be honest, I judge my phelbotimist ENTIRELY on the technique they use to test my vein. I can’t remember the last time I noticed what they were wearing.

      For the record, when testing my vein, I prefer the technique where the fingernail is used to roll the vein slightly to the ‘tap tap’ method.

    14. Edacious*

      Scrub jeans! I bought a pair of scrub pants once that had a very jean feel to them, but they stole were traditional not over the the top scrub pants.

    15. themmases*

      I wouldn’t care. These fundraisers are common and various groups at my old hospital would do them regularly. I’d be pretty surprised if the patients weren’t aware of it. Many people participated in ours, so it wasn’t like they’d be seeing one random phlebotomist dressed strangely. We usually got a sticker saying what the jeans day had been for and that we’d paid, so I’d be sure to wear that if you get one.

      If you don’t enjoy wearing jeans to work (I rarely participated in mine because I had to go ask patients for a favor, basically), you could give the $1 and just not partake, or maybe there is another way to give money to the fund. My hospital had a similar fund and we could give to it through payroll deduction, donate extra PTO, or participate in other fundraisers throughout the year. It would be unusual for this fund to rely only on jeans day contributions, since not all health care workers can partake.

    16. Observer*

      I haven’t read the other responses, but I personally don’t care what my phlebotomist wears, as long as it’s neat, clean, safe and decent (ie reasonable coverage and no gross / racist / whatever-ist language or images.)

    17. Gillian*

      Like most others, I wouldn’t care as long as they looked clean/nice. I care way more about being properly gloved up and what you touch after you put your gloves on than what pants you’re wearing.

    18. MaryMary*

      I don’t like to watch people try to draw my blood, so I look in the opposite direction of the phlebotomist while she’s working. Short of not wearing any pants at all, I’m not going to notice how the phlebotomist is dressed.

    19. Anonsie*

      A lot of medical groups allow MAs/phlebotomists/nurses/techs/whoever to wear jeans, to the extent that the two “uniforms” I imagine for those roles is 1) scrubs or 2) jeans with walking shoes and a fleece vest. Always with a fleece vest, I swear.

      So no, I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelash at folks wearing jeans.

    20. Temperance*

      I wouldn’t care whatsoever. I mean, I’m a lawyer and I’ve met clients while wearing jeans when we have a jeans day. (I’m not the only one … and our Jeans Days support various causes important to those of us who work here, so it’s a bit different.)

    21. Can't Think Of A More Clever Anon Name Today*

      Probably wouldn’t notice, or I’d assume it was dress-down day, especially if a lot of people in the office are wearing jeans or sports regalia. You’re totally over-thinking. Also, I don’t mind if my nurses/phlebotomists have colorful or fun scrubs on! Usually pediatric healthcare members will wear the cartoons, but I can’t say I’d mind, in my 30’s if mine did too. I still love cartoons. lol. You’re over-thinking. Don’t worry about it.

    22. Amy M*

      I’m going to go against the flow here and say that I would not like it. Although I am in HR, I work HR for home health, and while we can wear jeans on Fridays, I have never seen any of our field staff wear anything other than scrubs, and if I did see them in jeans -knowing that they would see patients – I would have an issue with it. For me it is about perception, and I do not think it is professional. I also don’t think it is professional for me to wear jeans, so although it’s Friday, I still have dress pants on with just a more casual top.

    23. danr*

      Wouldn’t bother me. I look at how they get the tubes ready and how they talk to me. I really don’t notice what they wear.

    24. hermit crab*

      My favorite phlebotomist is the one who asks me what color bandage tape (or whatever the heck it’s called) I want, in case I want it to go with my outfit. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed what he is wearing!

    25. Aknownymous*

      I agree with most of the above posters – I have no investment in what you’re wearing, I evaluate on skills only.

  26. LizB*

    I just started working for a large nonprofit, and we’re in the middle of our annual fundraising campaign, so I need to jump on board and start reaching out to people I know to solicit donations. Ugh. This is my absolute least favorite part about working in the nonprofit world, and it’s even harder this time because I’ve only been doing the work for a few weeks, and don’t have good stories yet about my personal impact. Does anyone have any advice about ways I could go about it that would be less annoying/pushy, and make people actually want to donate? I’m thinking individual emails with some info about our mission, my role, and some successes my department has had this year. Is that still too obnoxious?

    1. the gold digger*

      Is this to personal friends? Or to professional acquaintances?

      Because if it’s to your friends, I don’t think there is any way to sugar coat it and make it not obnoxious.

      1. LizB*

        It’s to whoever we think will donate. Most of my coworkers reach out to family and friends, plus maybe some professional acquaintances.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Do you really have to? I agree with Gold Digger that there’s no way for it not to feel icky.

      For what it’s worth, while I know some nonprofits do operate like this, literally none of the bunch of nonprofits I’ve worked at did; it’s not an effective fundraising technique and it’s not a great thing to do to your employees. So know, at least, that this isn’t The One True Way that things must be done.

      1. LizB*

        Yeah, the VP in charge of my department straight up said in a staff meeting earlier this week that this is part of everyone’s jobs, and everyone needs to participate and get results. I don’t know why we do our fundraising like this, but it’s definitely the biggest downside of this job (which is otherwise great). I’m hoping I can get away with sending a handful of emails to people I actually think will WANT to donate, and not pester anyone else too much.

          1. LizB*

            I don’t know for sure. We’ve got a mandatory two-hour work session for the campaign this afternoon, so maybe I’ll try to ask some subtle questions about how the whole thing works and how the department keeps track of progress. I’m sure they won’t know if the emails I send say something like, “Hi Aunt Jane, my job is making me send you this email, we actually do some really cool stuff [insert video link here] and appreciate any donations but you don’t have to donate if you don’t want to, sorry for bothering you!” Maybe I’ll try that.

      2. BRR*

        None of the ones I’ve worked at did this either. Sometimes people would do a post on facebook because they believe in the work but that’s it.

        Also how are they going to track who raised what?

        1. LizB*

          We each have to set up a personal page on our organization’s fundraising website, and when we convince someone to donate we’re supposed to give them our personal link so they can donate online; if someone wants to send a paper check or cash, they’re supposed to give it to us and we hand it in with a note saying it’s part of our total.

          1. esra*

            Yikes. I don’t know, this seems more like they’re interested in who raises what than actually raising some proper funds.

          2. amadeus*

            O_0 that sounds dreadful.l. I’d be super-pissed off if I got an email about this from someone I knew.

    3. PontoonPirate*

      I only have a minute to respond, so forgive me if my thoughts aren’t fully formed…

      I’m a little confused. Are you part of the development team? There should be a crafted fundraising plan for the holiday campaign for you to follow, if so.

      Are you supposed to reach out to your personal circle or donors/supporters? I think it’s a little hinky to have non-fundraising staff doing personal fundraising outreach to their friends and family (as a company mandate, I mean. If you just want to, that’s different).

      In any event, what donor and potential donors mostly want to hear is how they are helping solve a problem. Things that you and the organization care about–mission, roles, budgets, etc–aren’t what the donor cares about. Donors want to know what the problem is and how they can help solve it. And I’m talking nitty-gritty stuff, not jargony abstractions.

      Like, say you work for a homeless-serving NFP: “This time last year, Jackie thought she’d never be warm again. After being laid off, she spent three perilous weeks on the streets, and wondered every day how she’d make it through the night. But thanks to your support, Jackie has escaped the bitter cold, finding safety and warmth at Tara’s House, Homeless Coalition of Detroit’s first women and children’s shelter.”

      {obviously that’s pretty rough, but you get the drift}

      1. LizB*

        Nope, I’m a case manager, not a development professional, but we have an organizational mandate for everyone to raise money from our friends and family. My department has a goal to meet, and I’m supposed to have a personal goal that I’m trying to meet as well. (Apparently the usual personal goal is $500 – no way is that happening for me!) It’s definitely kind of hinky, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

        I like your example; I wish I could come up with a blurb like that for my work. I’ve only been here a few weeks, and the program I work for is still in its pilot stages, so we haven’t started much direct work with clients yet; right now it’s all calling social workers and making sure paperwork gets where it needs to go behind the scenes. Hopefully next year, when I have some heartwarming examples of clients I’ve helped, this will be easier.

        1. PontoonPirate*

          That’s icky. $500? That’s insanity.

          I know you’re new, but is there any way for you to raise this with someone? As Alison said, it’s not a particularly effective way to raise funds. That’s what fundraisers are for–you wouldn’t ask them to go do a home visit or a site survey or what-have-you–because there is a technique and a skill to each of the parts of the nonprofit that make up a whole.

          If you can’t publicly object to this, maybe you could pass on some feedback (real or “real”) saying you reached out to friends and family and they responded that they weren’t comfortable being solicited solely on the basis of their relationship with you.

          1. LizB*

            As far as I can tell, this is a long-established method of fundraising for this organization and most of my coworkers are super gung-ho about it, so I highly doubt that me saying anything would make a difference. My program director actually mentioned in my interview that everyone is expected to do something to help out with fundraising, but I didn’t realize it absolutely had be this kind of direct appeal work — I’d be fine volunteering at an event or donating something for a silent auction, but I hate asking people for money directly! Like you said, that’s not my area of expertise. I guess I’ve learned my lesson: if they say they like the whole organization to help fundraise, ask what they mean!

        2. College Career Counselor*

          you have a $500 requirement? Jeez, if the organization is that hard up for $$, pay me X-$500 and leave me the hell alone (assuming I was happy with X-$500). Asking me to prospect friends and family as a job requirement is out of bounds, especially if I’m not, you know, A PROFESSIONAL FUNDRAISER. There’s a reason I leave that work to the professionals, and for me, it’s because asking people for money is awkward and uncomfortable. And in my personal life, I don’t need to pass along that awkwardness to people who care about me (and put them in the uncomfortable position of saying NO to me). Which is exactly what your employer is counting on.

        3. Alma*

          This personal outreach to donors is more typically a requirement for Board Members – either they have the means to make a super meaningful donation and/or they contact people they know personally or professionally who can make a substantive donation.

    4. NJ Anon*

      My former nonprofit tried to get us to give 10 names with contact info so they could be solicited for donations. Every single one of us refused. Sorry, I work here-that’s my donation. Plus most family members have their own preferences for donating. They know where I work. If they wanted to donate, they would have done so already. Yuck.

      1. LizB*

        Ugh. I almost think putting people’s names on a list would be worse – at least if I’m the one contacting them, I can tailor what I say based on my relationship with them, and can even include something about “I know these kinds of appeals are obnoxious” as an apology for having to send them anything at all.

    5. Gwen*

      If it were me, I would just post on Facebook and/or Twitter with a general “hey, it’s fundraising time – this is why I care about Organization’s mission, if you’d like to donate click here” spiel.

      1. LizB*

        This is a good idea – I might post one of the videos my organization provides that shows the work we do, along with a link to my donation page. That’s not too terribly obnoxious.

    6. LizB*

      Update: I spent half of the mandatory two-hour fundraising work session coming up with a list of absolutely everyone I know in life (for my own personal reference – I’m not giving it to anyone, and it doesn’t have any contact info on it). The rest of the time I’ve spent writing emails to my parents, my grandma, and one aunt who likes to donate to charities, mostly just updating them on my new job and how my life is going with a little blurb at the bottom saying “I’m required to try and raise funds, if you’d like to donate go to this link, I know this is obnoxious so sorry about that.” I’m going to consider that my best effort for today.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Next time, third party it. “If you know of anyone interested in our cause please pass this link to them.” Rather than asking directly for donations ask for help finding people who are willing to donate.

  27. Shy Anon*

    Has anyone heard of Western Governor’s University? Is a degree from there legitimate or is it like University of Phoenix?

    1. _ism_*

      I don’t remember the details but I looked into it once. I got the impression it’s way more legit than Phoenix.

    2. EmmaB*

      I have heard of it and I do believe it is legitimate, as in it is accredited. Actually, my state pushes it quite hard. The governor is even in their advertisements (much to the chagrin of our state universities trying to establish their online presence). However, it is ‘competency’ based. It’s not the usual, here’s homework, here’s quizzes, here’s papers, here’s your exams. You do not receive grades, from what I understand. The exams to receive the competency credits must be proctored. As in, you must schedule a time for someone to watch you take the exam through Skype or something similar. Then if you pass that with whatever percent is necessary, you receive the credit. I chose a different online school for this reason. I wanted grades. I wanted concrete steps I knew I had to take. And, I work full time. I wanted to be able to take my tests at 3am if that was the time I had available.

      However, I believe that’s up to individual preference. I do not believe it is looked at like the University of Phoenix. But I also don’t have hiring experience so someone else might be able to answer that part better.

        1. EmmaB*

          Yes! I am in Missouri, and I ended up going to Arizona State. Which I think fits me much better as I’m very traditionalist. Online was a hard jump for me in the first place.

        2. Shy Anon*

          Ha! I am in Missouri, too! Jay Nixon being in the commercials is what made me think it might be more legit.

    3. BSharp*

      I’ve heard of it. The degree should be legit, it’s a nonprofit accredited school, but it’s not hugely well-respected. I think it’s probably okay for more practical things like accounting or for working at a small business, but not so much for the corporate world.

      Look up the degree you’re interested in and then search LinkedIn for the folks who have it, see how they’re using it now.
      In my case (marketing) it was pretty clearly not a fit for what I wanted to use the degree for. But, you might take a look at Harvard Extension.

    4. Hellanon*

      No, it’s a public nonprofit university, not a proprietary institution. They have a really interesting learning model based on demonstrating competencies, not based on credit hours or “seat” time. It’s definitely designed for adults, not first time/fulltime college students… another option if you are looking at public/nonprofit distance programs is Univ of Arizona or UMUC, both of which are regionally accredited. UMUC does a lot of work with the military, helping service members in overseas postings finish college degrees. WGU & the others are absolutely legit degrees but how well they will be regarded in your specific case depends, I suspect, on norms within your field and where you are in your career.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I agree. Even though it is a good program, it is tough to sell an online degree to a hiring manager if you have no relevant work experience. This is a perfect program for the working adult, but it would be difficult for someone stepping out of high school.

      2. Natalie*

        Yes, definitely check state land grant universities for your degree program. My state college (University of MN) has a bunch of online-only programs through one of their locations that was in a small, less desirable part of the state. (Which is also a brilliant way to keep that campus open)

    5. AndersonDarling*

      It is completely legit. I will be graduating next month with my Health Informatics degree which is AHIMA certified (only a few programs are). The school itself is certified by every board and organization that I know of. I just read that WGU has as many certifications as Brigham Young University!
      I did research out the wazoo before I signed up, and I’m really happy I chose WGU.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, my boyfriend got a degree in Computer IT from there — it’s very much legit (for a computer based bachelor’s I was actually pretty impressed at the curriculum in his humanities electives). It was perfect for him as he started his career during the tech bubble when companies didn’t care that much if you had a college degree, but as he progressed it was starting to become an issue. He actually completed his degree in just over a year — the computer degree was also great because it had some major certifications built into the curriculum so he graduated with not only a bachelor’s but a bunch of relevant updated certifications.

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          Could you tell me what his humanities electives looked like? Because 10 years ago I helped develop an introduction to literature competency/exam for WGU as a graduate intern. I wonder if it’s still in use.

    6. OriginalEmma*

      A nurse I worked with in Alaska got one of her healthcare degrees (MSN? MHA? I don’t remember) there via correspondence. Seems to be working well for her!

    7. Shy Anon*

      Thank you so much! I would be going for accounting, but I read that you can’t sit for your CPA with a WGU degree, so I might need to look around for other options. I appreciate the feedback!

      1. Bagworm*

        Don’t know if you’re in St. Louis but the community college has a 24 hour certificate program you can do that will allow you to sit for the CPA as long as you have a bachelor’s degree (can be in anything). Other CCs may have that option, too. Good luck!

  28. Folklorist*

    Anti-Procrastination Post!! Go do something you’ve been putting off! Now! Don’t think; just do! Then come back and report it!

    1. justsomeone*

      I ordered the monthly “years of service” awards and checks! I’ve been forgetting to do that all week and today’s the last day to do it.

    2. Anlyn*

      Ooh, that does remind me I need to call my allergist and cancel my skin test. Not supposed to be on decongestants for 10 days, but I came down with a cold, so that wasn’t happening.

      1. jamlady*

        This is good to know! I went to my allergist for the initial consultation on Monday afternoon and when I was driving home from the appointment, my throat started hurting… And now I have the flu. They’re supposed to call by Tuesday to make my skin test appointment – I’ll keep this in mind… I’m also very drugged right now so this is making me really happy… Small win! It’s been a rough week lol

    3. Annie Moose*

      I’m supposed to be coming up with a design for adding an extra layer of security to this application, so thanks to your post, I’ve now discovered where the data for the page is being pulled from. Unfortunately, it turns out it’s a combination of no less than TWELVE database queries, so now I need to figure out which of them (if not ALL of them) I need to add the security checks to.

      Actually, hang on, now I’m even more confused. This page doesn’t even show teapot sample data directly, it’s a summary report with average statistics about the teapot samples. What is the security even for??? Siiigh… time to go pester Dr. Wakeen about how this works again.

    4. Folklorist*

      FINALLY called this guy to schedule an interview. I’ve been putting it off all week, even though I’m on kind of a short deadline to talk to him! Too much office celebrating this week; not enough working!

  29. Doralee*

    I received word this week that a documentary our department took part in last summer will be airing in a couple of months. I’m torn between “Everything will go great, this will be awesome” and “What if I sound like an idiot or what if they take something waaaay out of context”. It’s a distinct possibility that it could end up being a hatchet job, that was something we were aware of when we decided to do it, but the potential exposure was deemed worth it. It is, of course, far too late to do anything but wait to see how it turns out.

      1. Doralee*

        Ha! We did all joke about who we’d be. We have a couple of people that are dead-on ringers. Fingers crossed that I don’t end up looking like Michael.

  30. NonnyT*

    After starting a new job, when is a good time to start a conversation with your boss about professional advancement opportunities. I work at a university with a lot of educational and professional education opportunities (including tuition benefits for staff) that I’d like to take advantage of, but I haven’t even been here for 3 months yet. I don’t want to appear that I’m disinterested with my current job (even though I kind of am- I’m in a clerical/administrative support role now), but I’m ready to move up the ladder. Right now, I feel like more education could give me more of an edge as most of my experience is administrative support. But I have a little bit of research experience as well and I’ve been particularly interested in roles like “research analyst”, “business analyst” and “business administrator.”

    1. Artemesia*

      You can look into class options now — I wouldn’t ask the boss to recommend but would do my own homework here — and once you have identified a class you think will advance your skills and knowledge then approach her about the timing of the class and if it will work with your duties. There is no time limit needed for this sort of thing. It is way early to be asking about ‘advancement’ as in thinking about promotions or new jobs, but it is not too early to be working on your own personal development.

    2. K*

      I’ve worked at a university for a long time, and managers tend to be very support of staff taking advantage of educational and professional development opportunities. At my university, it’s a way to retain staff. We might not be able to pay you a corporate salary, but at least you can grow professionally and even get a degree at a steep discount.

      Once you’ve mastered the essentials of your job, it’s fine to ask about classes, webinars, and conferences that could expand your skill set. Whether or not three months is enough time for you to be at that point will depend a lot on your position. If you’re still mastering expense reports, for example, don’t ask for funding for a course in grant accounting. And it’ll be more logical and less worrisome for your manager if you’re asking to take courses that you could apply to your current position.

      Tuition benefits are a different story since there are admissions deadlines. It’s never too early to start taking advantage of those. Since it takes a couple of years to finish a degree, it’s not worrisome for a manager to know that in three years, the admin will have a MBA. If anything, it makes it more likely that you’ll stick around for three years so you can continue to receive tuition benefits. And speaking broadly, it’s higher ed– managers tend to be very supportive of employees who are furthering their education.

  31. Wendy Chime*

    Using a slightly different name today.

    I think I’ve made a mistake by becoming close friends with someone at work. She is a really good person and we are of a similar age. We share a hobby that we both love, so we go shopping together for supplies sometimes. We also go out to lunch frequently. She is a manager in my department (but she is not my manager) and she reports to the same director that I report to. I have learned to not say anything about being annoyed or dissatisfied with my job, because she feels that she can “intercede” with my boss on my behalf. I’m perfectly capable of having discussions with my boss about my work, so it’s annoying to me when she does this. I know she is trying to be helpful.

    Most recently, I posted something vague on Facebook about being stressed out. She immediately left me a voicemail, saying, “I hope you’re not stressed out about work!”. The next time we spoke on the phone, she said the same thing. So now I think I need to go through and make a different “group” for work people so she can’t see stuff like that. Because I could see her going to our boss about that to try to intercede.

    No real question here. I’ve always made friends at work and I don’t see that changing, but I think I need to be a little more careful about mixing personal stuff with work.

    1. Anna*

      It doesn’t sound like you need to be more cautious about mixing work with friendships; it sounds like THIS person thinks she’s being a good friend by making that offer. She can be your work friend that you don’t talk to about work stuff. You can also just let her know you’re comfortable talking to your boss about things and she shouldn’t feel the need to take that on. You can even make a “rule” that anything discussed about work is just blowing off steam and doesn’t need any action.

    2. chilledcoyote*

      I definitely used to make more friends at work than I do now, mostly because I’ve been in that position too many times – at some point I regret that I’ve told people something personal and there’s no good way to take a step back from the friendship. I’m starting a new job in January, one where I’ll be entering the company as a manager, and I’m using the opportunity to set some hard boundaries about what I’ll share with coworkers, for my own sake. It seems weird to be more reserved, but in the end, I think it will be so much easier to keep all the personal stuff to myself and my preexisting friends. We can be friends when we’re no longer coworkers.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      She sounds like she is a “fixer”. Why not tell her that if you want her to fix something you will ask for help directly. However, if you are just discussing something, that is not a request for help and she does not need to fix it. You can explain you know she means well. I think tell her what is going on, so she knows upfront. I am suggesting this because she sounds like she is an okay person, other than that. She probably does this to a lot of people.

      1. Wendy Chime*

        I think you’re right, that she is a “fixer”. She is truly a wonderful person and I really love spending time with her. She would give me the shirt off her back if I asked for it. I will take your advice; I know she is trying to help.

  32. super anon*

    crazy work story of the week:

    the satellite office moved to our main office this week. last week a coworker completely destroyed our website after another had spent hours fixing it – like 100% broken. she also had posted a very inappropriate image on it. it took 3 people (2 of which aren’t even on our team) to fix it and bring it back to brand. when the coworker who broke it saw it was fixed she called hr & reported everyone for bullying and harassment. oh – and she reposted the inappropriate picture, and then lied about doing it. oh oh – this was exactly one day after they had been in our new office! if history is any indication, management will do exactly 0 about this situation. and this is only a slice of the crazy pie.

    the precedent that has been set here is do your job properly and you’ll upset people and get complaints filed against you, don’t do your job properly, cause major drama, and get promoted to full time. unsurprisingly, i’m incredibly anxious now 100% of the time. i have a meeting with my bosses for the first time ever after 6 months on the job today and i am not excited. i need a new job. :/

    1. Artemesia*

      I don’t know if it is wise, but I would be raising hell with HR over this complaint and would be lining up the people who had to waste their time fixing the broken website to do so — if drama queens prosper, outdo this drama queen. Don’t make it easy for management to reward the whiners.

      1. super anon*

        oh, the complaint wasn’t raised against me, but against a coworker. so there’s really nothing i can personally do about it. i’m just incredibly anxious because i know it’s only a matter of time before i do something someone takes issue with (all of my coworkers are drama queens like this) and i’m the one in the crosshairs. it makes going to work incredibly stressful.

  33. Lalaith*

    This has probably been discussed before (and I would so appreciate if someone would send me links to previous threads if it has), but can anyone recommend good places to get plus-sized interview clothes? Thanks!

    1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      How plus sized? I can offer so many suggestions.
      Khols goes up to a 22ish and they have nice professional things
      Lane Bryant goes up to a 26/28 some times 28/30 but they are so expensive and the quality is horrible
      Peter Harris goes up to 26?ish and they are nice, good quality but they have a more mature demographic so depending on your age they might not be the best.
      JcPenny plus size section is basic with slacks and button downs, nothing special
      Target you might as well forget to pants but their tops are nice, be careful though, they are a bit revealing

      1. Kelly L.*

        Koooooohhhhhhlllllssss

        Also Cato

        I realized a while back that 80% of my work stuff was from either Kohl’s or Cato (I’m currently about a 20, for reference)

      2. Lalaith*

        Around size 20 (depending on brand, of course), and age in the mid-30s :) I like Kohl’s for regular work attire, and have tried LB and Penney’s for the same, but I don’t recall seeing suits or anything equally interview-conservative. Thanks for the suggestions!

        1. Kelly L.*

          You may be right on suits. General office wear, yeah. Someone mentioned Dillard’s and they might be the best bet for suits, come to think of it.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          What about Melissa McCarthy’s new clothing line? It goes up to size 28 and has really nice stuff! It’s pricier than Kohl’s/Lane Bryant, I think.

      3. Agile Phalanges*

        Agree about Lane Bryant’s quality, but I’m even more frustrated with their fit, more often than not. They apparently take size six clothes and make them a whole lot wider, without actually accounting for the, you know, curves, that us larger women tend to have. Not to mention varying breast size. “Empire waist” stuff shouldn’t have the seam ON my boobs, you know? I don’t want huge gaping arm holes. I also don’t want things that make my belly look even larger than it actually is. I find okay stuff there once in a while, and still get my bras from them, but more often than not, leave empty-handed other than the bras I ordered online shipped to the store.

        I have had luck finding nice clothes at Macy’s, and occasionally JC Penney or Kohls. I live in a small town where our stores are smaller than most, though, so you may have better luck than I do. :-)

    2. RG*

      I like Eshakti – tailoring is $8.95 a piece! You could also try Lane Bryant, City Chic, or Ashley Stewart. Oh, also Dressbarn and Modcloth. Hopefully this is a good start.

      1. Nethwen*

        I was just about to suggest eShakti. I haven’t tried any of their clothes, but I got a gift card for a hard-to-fit friend who is rebuilding her wardrobe and have seen good reviews from bloggers of opposite body types. For blouses and other things to mix into the suiting, one of my staff goes to Cathryn’s and I always admire whatever she comes back with.

    3. Xarcady*

      If you are talking suits, Talbots has a good selection. After that, try Nordstroms or Macy’s. Land’s End also has a few pieces that can go together to make a suit, and a selection of button-down shirts and they go up to size 34. It’s a very limited selection after size 24, but at least it exists.

      For a slightly more casual look, try CJ Banks, Catherines, JC Pennys and Sears.

    4. Ihmmy*

      would love to hear about some Canadian store options too, if anyone knows of any (sometimes those stores will ship to Canada but for big $$ especially with our dollar of late, plus you can’t try anything on to check for fit)

    5. GigglyPuff*

      Second all the suggestions, also Dillard’s but also department store pricey. Sears has wide variety, but sometimes not great quality, and the actual size of the item can vary from what it’s supposed to be.

      Tip I got from someone else on this site a while back. Lane Bryant email alerts to sales. Get those, wait until it’s like a 40% off everything or 75% extra off clearance, and you can get some great deals, especially if you stick to the clearance section online. Which they seem to be chugging pretty fast through their designs this year and putting them in the clearance section online after only a month or two of their arrival.

      But I do agree with Phlebotomist, quality seems to be declining and their choices are sometimes extremely limited to certain things. I miss some of their stuff from like 6+ years ago, I had the best pleather jacket from them, loved it, until I started hanging it at work and it stretched out the neck. I’d pay to have another one.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Also TJ Maxx or Marshalls, they also carry some Lane Bryant items sometimes. Although now that I think about it, not sure how many options they’d have for suit-like interview clothing.

        1. GigglyPuff*

          In case anyone is interested, Amazon Deals include a $25 Lane Bryant gift card for $20 right now. They’ve been offering them multiple times (don’t know if the site will let you buy more than one if it’s on a different day), but it’s a discount and if you couple it with some of their deals right now…

      2. Anlyn*

        I used to have almost all my clothes from Lane Bryant. I don’t know what happened, but they’ve really gone downhill.

        There’s an Avenue in the city I live in, but I wasn’t super impressed with their selections. But it’s another plus-size store.

        Thrift shops might be another option.

    6. EmmaB*

      I am also plus sized. I’ve always had the best luck at Dillard’s. It’s rather expensive, but for my size (18), it was the best.

      1. EmmaB*

        For what it’s worth; I love the stores others have suggested and I get a lot of my work clothes there. However, I could not find a single actual suit at any of them. Only Dillard’s. So if you don’t need a suit, definitely all the others suggested. But you won’t find a suit at Lane Bryant, Kohls, and the like (at least not the ones near me).

    7. HM in Atlanta*

      Dress Barn also carries a nice selection of Jones New York and Calvin Klein suits. They are generally structured well and the JNY are lined. They have a small amount of give, but aren’t clingy or stretchy. They also don’t wrinkle from sitting in the car, which is nice.

      I’ve been interviewing for the past few months (starting a new job in January!), and these have been great.

      1. J*

        I was shopping at a department store that used to carry a lot of Jones NY and when I asked about their small selection of JNY I was told they were going out of business? Have they still been at Dress barn recently? I love their shells and boleros for work and need to stock up if they truly are gone.

        I’ve had good experience with Nordstrom for suits/blazers in plus sizes. Their house brand, Sejour, has good pieces.

      1. HM in Atlanta*

        I know, the name is horrendous. It’s just a regular clothing store (carrying misses, plus, petite, and tall).

        1. Artemesia*

          Dress Barn is an ugly name for a clothing store, but even worse is ‘Sag Harbor’. I know, I know, a preppy place — but I remember my daughter reading that sign in a mall and asking me what they could have been thinking.

      2. Kassy*

        Agree- unfortunate name, but REALLY cute stuff! They had their “dress of the week” up in the window on a tiny mannequin, and I thought “Yeah, I’m sure that translates to me.” Imagine my shock when it did! I wasn’t in a position to spend money on a “for fun” dress at the time, but it made me cry a little that I couldn’t.

        Disclaimer: I tried on a 12, but they had the same dress up to size 24.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        LOOOVE Dressbarn. Don’t let the name fool you. Nice styles and colors, good range of sizes. I can remember going into their stores 2o or more years ago. They have just had good stuff right along, where other stores are sometimes good and then other times not so good.

    8. Biff*

      On the internet I’ve seen Zulily pushing plus size selections.
      Also, I think Torrid is attractive.
      My friend (who I think dresses up nicely when she does dress up) shops “Woman Within”

    9. Hellanon*

      Marina Rinaldi is Max Mara’s plus size line. Gorgeous fabrics, really well made, but pricey in the stores. Doing an ebay search for the brand may turn up some great pieces though…

    10. Voluptuousfire*

      I’ve had luck with JC Penney. I can’t speak for suits (my suits are LB) but it’s an excellent option for separates.

    11. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA*

      I got two cute basic shift dresses as well as some pencil skirts from Old Navy’s plus section online. I got a nice comfortable blazer at Avenue but can be mixed on their sizing. Good luck!

    12. ModernHypatia*

      Land’s End dresses are surprisingly nicely done. Also seconding the Jones New York.

      (I have a horrible time finding suits that fit me – and fortunately am a librarian, and suits are often too formal for the jobs I’ve been going for, so I do a really well-cut professional dress and a nice cardigan sweater or loose jacket and then nice but interesting jewelry when interviewing.)

    13. Silver*

      Not sure if you’re US based but I use ASOS a lot in Australia as they have free shipping and take returns for sizing and fit issues no questions asked.
      Their stuff isn’t always the best quality but I can get nice fashionable plus sizes clothes for cheap so it evens out. The free shipping and returns policy really helps push it over the edge for me.
      I often have fit issues no matter where I buy and paying the value of the item in shipping just isn’t worth it for me.

      Other places I’ve tried for one off pieces are Dorothy Perkins, New Look, Next, and Modcloth.
      Note that I work in a creative field so tend to not wear suits even to interviews.

  34. Rebecca*

    I’m a confused on the issue of Leave Without Pay vs. pay docking when you are a full-time, exempt employee. I understand from this blog that exempt employees must be paid their full salary for the week even if they worked under 40 hours; the employer cannot dock their pay for only working 35 hours, for example. How would this come into play if someone only worked 8 hours in a given week? Let’s say I had zero vacation time available, and I randomly decided to only put in 8 hours of work. Would my employer have to pay me my full salary for that week?

    Let’s say I have a medical reason to cut back to 2 days/week for the span of a month. Would I get my full salary, because I worked *any* amount of hours those weeks, or would I take the 3 days each week as LWOP?

    In a similar situation, what if I decided to only work 3 hours/day M-F? Would the employer have to pay me my full-time salary, because I worked partial days?

    Links to clarifying resources would be appreciated…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      So it’s complicated. For exempt employees, they’re allowed to dock (for full days, never partial days) if:
      – it’s for a “personal reason other than sickness or accident”
      – it’s for sickness if they maintain a sick leave and disability plan which you’ve exhausted
      – it’s a disciplinary suspension of one or more full days for breaking workplace conduct rules
      – it’s a partial week worked during the initial or final week of employment
      – in some cases, when you have a reduced or intermittent work schedule under FMLA

      Also, keep in mind that totally aside from this, if you decided to only work 3 hours/day M-F, they could, you know, fire you.

      Sources that may help:

      http://www.hrmorning.com/docking-pay-exempt-employees/

      http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-resources/pay-docking-for-salaried-employees.html

  35. Jennifer*

    This week’s update:
    (a) One of my coworkers is basically insisting on being as loud as possible–playing Christmas music for all to hear (and I really can’t object to it–they asked my “permission,” but if I said no I’d be a real asshole), yakking, and reading e-mails aloud and then demanding that we respond to her. Basically, she requires noise and attention every second she is here. Man, I can’t wait for her retirement and she can’t either. *sigh* What do you do when someone requires noise and you require quiet? Give in to her because she makes more noise if she’s not happy. Thankfully she’s out today.
    (b) Last week’s job ad drama: the other coworker was making noises about applying for it (until she realized she doesn’t qualify), and then she started recommending it to some random tech guy who wandered into the office and I just wanted to be all NO, don’t do that. So afterwards I had to announce to them all (since they still keep talking about it and I wish they’d stop) that yes, I’m going to apply for it because I need another job asap. I did not want to share this information, but…sigh.
    (c) Please do not call me out for taking headache pills at work and bitching that I took yet another one. Y’all know I’m headache prone, especially here, I do not appreciate being harassed about taking things, for fuck’s sake. Also not cool to call out other coworker for taking her medication either.

        1. Artemesia*

          You need to take control of your own life — their conversation doesn’t require you to gush forth with personal information. Even if they directly asked, you could easily have said ‘I don’t know, maybe I should look at it.’

    1. LisaLee*

      C:

      WTF? Why on earth are these people harassing coworkers about medicine (and common medicine at that)?

  36. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

    speaking of professional – we are doing a Secret Santa at our holiday staff meeting Monday. We didn’t draw names so its going to just be a general gift for a woman between the ages of 22 & 50ish. I’m…spirited so I’m think about getting a nice picture frame and putting pictures of our boss in it, I was joking with my boss and told her that I was gifting a selfie – she knows I’m pretty in love with myself – she laughed about it. I think it’d be pretty funny to gift her selfie..in a very nice frame.

    What’s the best/ Worst secret Santa gift you’ve gotten from a coworker?

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Best: A large, dopey stuffed shark. I treasure that thing to this day, it’s one of my top presents ever.

      Worst: A baking magazine. Just the magazine, just the (smaller than normal) holiday issue.

    2. super anon*

      best: a giant pink snuggie back when they were popular. i’m always cold so it was the perfect gift.

      worst: i only ever had one office secret santa, so i’ve never had a worst.

    3. justsomeone*

      Best was a gift card to Sephora – which is one of my favorite stores.

      Worst was last year. I’m a Starbucks Mug Junkie and had like 8 of the holiday mugs (all well within budget) on my Elfster wishlist. She gave me my gift in a Starbucks bag, in a Starbucks mug box – but it was a banana and some candy. I was so upset I almost cried.

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        the frame will be “the gift” not my bosses photograph but it’ll be so funny! I’ll update next Friday LOL

    4. Sadsack*

      We had to make a list of some gift ideas for our Santa’s, such as our interests, favorite colors, things we collect, etc. I wrote that I enjoy reading, gardening, traveling, I like candles, cats, and my favorite colors. What I got was a Christmas bag filled with a collection of crap that I can’t even remember, having nothing to do with anything I suggested that I like… With the exception of a cheap paperback book bought at the grocery store book section. I think it was a YA mystery story, I forget. I tried hard not too let on how confused I was about what was in the bag. Then the person who was my Santa said, “What? You said you like reading!”. Everyone laughed because the whole thing was just obviously a crappy gift. It did apparenrly meet the $20 minimum. I never participated in secret santa again.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Getting people books as a present rarely results in a book they’d actually choose to read. Even my family doesn’t understand my taste in books. (Or maybe I just have really weird taste in books?)

        1. Sadsack*

          I know. If I was the Santa, I would have bought a book store gift card or at least a fancy bookmark or something. She could have just not bothered with that part of it, too.

        2. Viktoria*

          Really? I love giving and receiving books as gifts. When I read or hear a book review of a book on a topic relevant to one of my family member’s interests, I always make a point to write it down for future gift-giving. Even if they don’t end up liking the book, I think it’s nice to put thought into a topic or genre they enjoy. And I can think of several books that I know were hits, off the top of my head. I think it would be a little weird for someone you don’t know very well, though!

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Worst: silly putty when the gift was supposed to be in the $25 range.

      Best: still waiting for that

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oh, and someone gave my coworker a blackberry case that was obviously from the box our work blackberries came in. I felt so bad!

    6. Gillian*

      Best: Amazon gift card. Can’t go wrong there.

      Worst: prayer card to the patron saint of cancer patients while I was going through treatment. She meant well but it really was not very helpful or useful and sort of just served as a reminder that I was “the sick one” at work.

    7. Anie*

      Best: I got a giant box of turtles last year. We do Yankee swap so everyone fought over the various wines, but no one tried to nab my chocolate!

      Worst: Someone clueless brought in a pair of toe-socks for the yankee swap. The receiver (not me!) was not happy.

    8. hermit crab*

      It wasn’t a Secret Santa, but in last year’s white elephant/Yankee swap I scored a really pretty Galilean thermometer! I found out later that it was from Pier One. I kept it in my office for a long time and used it to adjudicate a few disagreements about the office temperature. :) Then I brought it home and broke it. :(

      And I think your picture frame idea is fantastic. That’s wayyy better than the weird stock photos that picture frames usually come with.

  37. the_scientist*

    I have a question about working within a dysfunctional volunteer agency. How does one cope? This agency is a national organization with several tiers of leadership (national; division, which is approximately provincial; regional, and then finally the individual sites themselves). So. A lot of hierarchy. Most of the senior leadership are wealthy, older white men-this is an organization that lends itself to a certain amount of financial privilege. Anyway, this organization, at a national level, produces what seems like one massive cock-up after another. I’ve only been with the org for just over a year, but in that time, I don’t think any single initiative they’ve undertaken has been without significant error, demonstrating a consistent lack of planning, communication, and transparency.

    The latest cock-up was a mass-mailing begging for fundraising dollars, which was sent to all active volunteers who are already resentful about the financial burden of volunteering here. My annual dues this year were over $300, plus I spent over $100 upgrading my uniform as per the new requirements. This is on top of the hundreds of hours annually that volunteers donate. Apparently the mailing also went to alumni members, suppliers, and previous financial supporters- but we weren’t told that until after the fact! Plus, whoever prepped the mailing list failed to do a basic “remove duplicates” search, so many members got up to 3 different letters, some in the incorrect official language. Needless to say, the collective response from the membership is “this is how you spend our dues?! We’re already donating our time and our money!” while the leadership response is basically to shrug and say “we tried, therefore no one should criticize us!”

    How does one maintain their sanity in the face of such incompetence?! There is no similar or alternative organization that I could defect to, and despite the deficiencies in leadership, I generally enjoy the day-to-day activities so I’m loathe to give it up just yet. The leadership consistently responds poorly to criticism, and there’s a very “old boy’s club” attitude; so I, as a new member who is young and also female, am completely unlikely to be taken seriously if I raise any concerns.

      1. the_scientist*

        Ha, that’s a fair question given my complaints about the organization! There are a few reasons:

        1) It allows me to use some skills that I no longer use professionally but still enjoy and missed having in my life. These are pretty specific skills and only a few organization would be able to make use of them.
        2) It allows me to use this skill set while simultaneously engaging in a favourite hobby
        3) The favourite hobby is one that’s shared by my partner, and it takes up a significant amount of his free time- think all weekend, every weekend for four months of the year. Without participating in this organization, partner and I really wouldn’t be able to share this hobby at all. And because we own 1 car (his), I wouldn’t be able to do it by myself since a car is required.

  38. The Cosmic Avenger*

    So, I did something kind of stupid. I asked for an update on a job I applied for; it was after the time they said they’d make a decision, so that wasn’t the stupid part. They got back to me the week of Thanksgiving to say that it was a “difficult decision”, but that they went with another candidate.

    So the stupid part: with the holidays and my disappointment, I haven’t replied. I wanted to thank them, first of all, and maybe ask this interviewer about keeping in touch or connecting on LinkedIn.

    First: is it too late? I feel like maybe not, because 1) it’s never too late unless there’s a deadline or there’s a request for or expectation of an answer, and 2) they took about 3 weeks to get back to me.

    Second, would my request be out of line? Any suggestions as how to ask without putting any pressure on them, but not overdoing trying to be casual about it? I really like what that department is doing, so I really would like to remain in contact, even just contributing to the same LinkedIn groups or something.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s fine to do it now, and I think it’s fine to request. “That’s disappointing for me, but I understand and wish you well with your new Teapot Manager. I’m still a big fan of what you do there, and I’d love to stay in touch–would it be alright if I added you on LinkedIn?”

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks, fposte, that helps. I just feel like I should add a disclaimer, like “If you don’t feel that’s appropriate, please don’t feel the need to reply, I understand”, but then I tend to overexplain things, and however I try to disclaim just winds up sounding awkward. I just don’t like putting people on the spot where they have to decline something I’ve asked.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        You know what? Now I’m feeling like I shouldn’t even mention it. They liked me enough to interview me, it shouldn’t be that awkward…as long as I don’t make it awkward!

        1. fposte*

          Yup. No disclaimer. It makes it more awkward, and this is a simple and reasonable inquiry, not a big favor.

  39. Charlotte*

    I don’t often comment here, but today I have my first ever performance review! I asked for the review so I could have a bit more transparency with my role here as time goes on, and now that it’s here, I am anxious about it. I’m in my fourth year at this company, so I think it will go well since my bosses are generally happy with my work. It’s a meeting to go over my past performance and my future at the company rolled into one. We’re also going to discuss my salary and a raise. Any advice or positive thoughts welcome, although I know this is a pretty general post.

    1. Kassy*

      Good luck! I have been at my place of employment for almost 2 years without a PR, and will probably not get this one either as I was just promoted in August so I’m still “probationary” and will miss the annuals. I know most people really dread them, but I feel a lot better about my work when I know where my manager’s thoughts are. (Even if those thoughts are “Seriously, you’re terrible,” like they were at OldJob…but I was seriously terrible, so.)

      I hope that you get your raise!

      1. Charlotte*

        Thank you! I did! It’s a 15% raise with another 15% guaranteed at the end of the year contingent on meeting certain goals. All in all a positive experience.

  40. Aowyn*

    I took on two direct reports temporarily while my company searched for my boss’ replacement. One of them is a new college grad with a lot of potential in our particular field. I’ll call this person Frodo. Our department serves mostly internal customers throughout the organization and lot of our interaction is through email. Frodo regularly begins emails with “Morning X-” or “Afternoon X-“. Perhaps I am from a different era, but this drives me crazy, it is like nails on a chalk board every time I see one of these emails. I want to correct her to start her emails “Good Morning X,” or “Good Afternoon X,”. Is this nit-picky? To me it seems unprofessional and an incorrect use of grammar. I’ve never seen anyone else in the organization start emails this way. Thoughts?

    1. NacSacJack*

      No. She’s new and needs to know that your dept has standards when it comes to addressing emails. You are here manager at the moment. Everyone here knows each manager has their quirks. Let this be yours. Frodo, in the future, please address all emails with Good Morning or Good Afternoon, not ‘ Morning. If it happens again, then sit her down and explain this isnt college anymore and this isnt her personal correspondence. She is representing your dept and your standard is…

      1. Sadsack*

        Me, too. Yes, work emails should be professional, but to comment on this specific issue would be too controlling, in my opinion. Maybe if the emails are going outside the organization, those should be less relaxed, but for internal team members and clients, I don’t think this should be a big deal. I certainly would not be put off to receive such an email. I would not even pay attention to the greeting at all.

    2. Key to the West*

      I’m in my early twenties and use both, depending on who I’m emailing! If it’s my boss/someone on my team/someone I know then I will say Morning, if I don’t know the person or if it’s a group email, it will be Good Morning!

      Either way, I don’t think it’s a huge deal!

    3. Dawn*

      To me, that would depend *a ton* on the context of the email and on your organization’s culture as a whole.

      If the emails are coming just to you, then I think wanting them to begin formally could be rather stilted- you’re their boss, I assume you have a close working relationship with this person, so to insist on formality comes across as stuff.

      However if this person is doing this in emails to higher-ups then insisting on formality is a good thing. Maybe for this employee you can think about if there’s good and bad times to be formal and informal and then coach from there?

    4. OriginalEmma*

      I would correct her, especially since you say that no one else in the organization writes their e-mails this way. It’s a matter of organizational culture at this point, no matter how seemingly inane the behavior. Lord knows I needed help writing professional e-mails when I first started. Let’s not talk about my first ever work-study experience (the first office-based experience I ever had), writing an e-mail to my supervisor whose salutation was “Hey Brenda, …”

    5. fposte*

      If you think it’s a style variation that’s going to be a problem, explain that, sure.

      But don’t think of it as “correcting”–your version isn’t any righter than Frodo’s, it’s just more org appropriate. (And if we’re nitpicking, the “corrected” version you suggest has incorrect capitalization and punctuation–which doesn’t matter if it’s org appropriate, but it’s another reason why thinking of one version as “correct” is ill-advised.)

      1. Aowyn*

        Gah! You’re right and thank you for pointing it out. I must have picked up capitalizing the second word somewhere along the way. However, I don’t disagree that having a comma after the greeting is incorrect.

        To me, the greeting just comes off choppy and unprofessional. Even though the majority of the emails are sent within the organization the people they are sent to are very much our customers. It’s probably not a big deal and I’m going to ignore it.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Similar abbreviating that drives me nuts is when you answer the phone and someone says “With Jane Smith please”, as in no “May I speak…” in front of it, but seems to be a thing with certain people.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I would find it irritating (it sounds fake-folksy to me and that grates on me) but I think it would be too nitpicky to ask her to stop doing it in internal emails (although I totally understand the impulse, as a nitpicker).

        If she were doing it in external emails, though, and the organization has specific style preferences about communicating outward, I think it would be fine to ask her not to do it there.

        Oh, and if she’s doing it in internal emails to higher-ups who scowl at this kind of thing, it would be a kindness to tip her off to that.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I work with a person who routinely says, “What is so good about it?” any time I say good morning. Having been down this road before and learning that medical science does not have a cure for this, I dropped down to “morning!” in a happy voice. It saves that whole conversation of ‘what is so good about it?” ugh. Tiring.

      1. Windchime*

        Maybe it’s just me, but I’d quit saying anything to such a Grumpy Gus if that’s their response. “What’s so good about it?”–that seems like a really snotty response to me.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Long story made very short. Our jobs tend to be adversarial, it’s inherent in our work that we will not see eye to eye. He’s got a tough guy act going on but he has always helped me any time I asked. (I have to ask him for work stuff from time to time.) So weighing this all out has lead me to just saying “morning”. My boss is super pleased that I get along with him and his crew.
          Personally, I find the joke old and tired. I feel like saying, “we are all in the same boat, don’t you know that?” Fortunately, with just dropping the “good” part, the whole situation changed. He just says “morning!” Given his line of work, probably NO morning is good. So there is that, too.

  41. Katie*

    I am the sole recruiter for a project. Thrilled to read on glass door that a final round candidate thought I was rude with an unfriendly time. I have never been rude to any candidate ever. Surprisingly, though they wrote that they declined the offer. I can 100% confirm I had super positive conversations with the 2 people who declined the offer. I’m thinking it’s one of the 5 people who were interviewed and didn’t get it. Oh well. Who else thinks glass door is lucrative but a bad idea.

    1. CMT*

      The thing with Glassdoor, as with any site like it, like Yelp, is you have take an aggregate view of things. As a candidate, if *every* post talks about how rude the people are, I’ll believe it. If it’s just one out of 100 positive reviews, I’ll think that person had a chip on their shoulder, or an unusual experience.

      1. BRR*

        Same here. The data definitely needs to be looked at in a macro sense. And even if there are a number of bad reviews they still need to be looked at. I’ve applied to a number of a higher ed jobs and a lot of poor reviews are from student jobs, graduate students, or post docs complaining about the pay. Or people say things like “I called them every day to check on the status of my application but they only answer half of the time.”

        I probably have the most skepticism about glassdoor reviews (both positive and negative) out of any site.

        1. esra*

          Agreed. It’s not very useful if there is only one review. With 4-5+, you can look for patterns. If everyone is mentioning below-market pay and crummy work/life, that’s something to consider. If one person is railing that the whole company is full of jerks, that’s not really valuable.

    2. RG*

      Are you allowed to contest this? I mean, I definitely check Glassdoor before applying or continuing a process and this would really deter me.

  42. Jason*

    So I’m trying to land a job in New York City, preferably in the media industry.
    Now, I live in New Jersey and I’m wondering if my distance from the city can effect employers wanting to interview or hire me.

    I live about an hour away and would gladly take the train in. Also, I will be moving in Brooklyn within a year but I’d much rather have a job in the city before I move.

    So do employers take into account the distance you are from your job? Thank you!

    1. Adam*

      I’ve heard that NYC is a special case in that it has so many people right there that employers can generally wait for people to come to them when they need candidates, but since you live relatively right next door I don’t think that would weigh too heavily on them.

      It might depend on the type of media you’re looking into if it’s a time sensitive format where you would need to be available at a moment’s notice, but I think if you mention when you intend to move to the city that can help mitigate things.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I don’t think anyone in NYC would bat an eye at a New Jersey address. People commute in from NJ, CT, Long Island, Westchester, etc. etc. which are all 1 hour+ outside the city. I really think your current location is a non-issue.

      1. Sunflower*

        10000% agree. NJ- no one is going to bat an eye or check the distance. And even if they did, 1 hr is pretty standard.

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          (Anecdotally, I live in Brooklyn and it’s was an hour+ commute for my last job in Manhattan! No one is going to notice/care.)

    3. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      My current employer was concerned about the distance that I was from my job when I was interviewing (despite assurances that I’d move if I got the job, which I did) but my city was not NYC and there isn’t a huge commuter population and there’s no usable public trans. Most people I know who work in NYC commute into Manhattan from NJ, CT, or Brooklyn and generally have longer commutes but I don’t know if that was a factor in hiring/if they lived in those places when they got the job.

    4. Mando Diao*

      Check on salaries before you find yourself emotionally married to the idea of working in NYC media. My sister (started out commuting from NJ, now lives in NYC) works for Refinery29, which is a fairly big deal. She makes around $35k, with little hope of a substantial raise. These websites have a way of overworking employees and then dumping them once they get to be around 30 (ie old enough to know that they deserve better pay).

      I’m not trying to piss on anyone’s parade. I just think it’s important to lay out the math, since almost no one does, especially for jobs like this.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      I don’t think being in NJ will be an issue. Companies in NYC often don’t want to even consider candidates who are not already local, but lots of people commute an hour or more from surrounding areas, so I think most companies would still think of you as being in the NYC area.

    6. Veronica*

      In this context, a manager that excludes a candidate simply because of their location is a bad manager. A good manager would interview you and address any concerns over commuting in the interview. I’m in LA and if I had the perfect candidate but their current address would require a 2+ hour commute, I would be ask them their plans for the commute (moving, earlier hours, etc). If they had a reasonable response/plan of action, then I would hire them. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to manage your commute, not your employers….and reasonable employers understand this.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      More like Cherry Hill or more like Fort Lee? If you’re in northern or central NJ, it shouldn’t be an issue.

    8. NJ Anon*

      Many, many people in NJ work in NYC. My dad did for 45 years. I did for a few years. Son’s girlfriend does now. Should not be an issue.

    9. OriginalEmma*

      Considering that far-flung shore towns like Tinton Falls or mountain retreats like Sussex are considered bedroom communities of NYC, I think you’re fine.

    10. Lizabeth*

      Long time NY bus commuter from NJ here…
      Do not underestimate the 1 plus hour commute one way (without traffic issues) toll on yourself. I read, listen to the iPod, nap (especially in the morning) but I would love to find something 10-20 minutes from home. It turns into a very long day when you add the commute in. Even when I lived in Bay Ridge – the subway ride is a long one and nowhere as comfortable as the bus or train is.

      Some NY employers came and they will be up front about it; most don’t.

      1. Mando Diao*

        Some of the best job advice I ever got was to factor your commute into your mental “negotiations.” A good commute is essentially a perk or benefit of the job that, to me, makes a slightly lower salary worth it. I’d rather make $35k and have a 10-minute drive than make $42k and spend an hour on the train each way.

    11. Lalaith*

      In NYC, an hour commute isn’t a big deal. Even some parts of Manhattan are an hour+ away from each other by subway. I live just across the river in NJ – I can literally see the city from my town – and it still takes me an hour to get to work because of the way the trains work out. Meanwhile a friend of mine lives in central NJ and her commute is only a little more than an hour because she can get an express train. Even living in Brooklyn might not improve your commute as much as you think it will, depending on where you are and where your office is.

    12. BRR*

      NJ resident here and work in NYC. One employer asked. The rest didn’t even bring it up. It’s almost two hours door to door.

  43. CMT*

    How do people deal with other people or departments who won’t share information or data that’s necessary for your work? I’m dealing with a department that absolutely refuses to share information, even though my department sends it their way. It’s driving me crazy. They have no good reason for this other than a power play. And I’m afraid to check my email this morning because I sent off a strongly worded email about the situation yesterday evening. I probably should have waited until this morning. TGIF!

    1. AdminSue*

      CMT, I feel for you. We have the same struggle here, except that ownership doesn’t see it as a problem. :-( Then ownership will ask us, Did you ask them? DUHHHHHH

    2. GOG11*

      If there’s a mutual boss, I’d talk to him or her and say something like “I need X to do Y. So far, I’ve tried [things I’ve tried/current process], but I continue to get X 3 days late/past the deadline to do [important thing]/without enough time for quality assurance to review the teapot spouts before heading on to other thing. What else can we/I do to ensure Y is completed on time?” If there isn’t a mutual boss, you could probably raise the issue in a similar way to your boss and your boss would work with their boss.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Agree with finding a mutual boss, and I would suggest posting the information to a shared drive so you can access it without talking with the group.

        1. CMT*

          In this case, the mutual boss would be the governor of the state, so that’s probably not going to work. Although, I live fairly close to his house, so maybe if I see him out walking the dog or something . . . ;)

          But, I do agree that I’m going to have to go up the chain. I just don’t have the authority to make people share their data. It’s a common, frustrating theme in my job — I depend on other people to do things so I can do my work, but they don’t listen when I ask them for what I need.

  44. Lizzy*

    Embarrassing confession: I cried at work yesterday over the prospective of working with a good boss. Yes, I cried over a good boss.

    Some back story: I have talked about my ex-job at a dysfunctional small performing arts organization where I was treated horribly and my confidence plummeted. I was laid off early November and I ended temping at the current place I am at. It is a very prestigious foundation in my city. After doing various projects for several departments and getting great feedback from every dept head I worked with, an opportunity to work with the marketing team popped up.

    I will be working with a very powerful, respected, intelligent, charismatic leader in the philanthropic community. This is an opportunity I could not pass up.

    I met with him yesterday and we had a very productive conversation. He was open and honest about the challenges and what was expected. He also made it clear that he would do everything he can to help me and wanted me to come to him with any issues. Even though I am a temp, he made it clear I am very much a member of his team and have every right to give input. We discussed my background and there might be possible opportunity for me to take on key projects in the future. He seemed very invested in me, overall.

    And you know what? I believe him. He is very genuine and sincere, and seems like the type of boss who goes to bat for his employees. I overheard a conversation with one of his employees over a project. He admitted to dropping the ball on a certain task and asked her how she wanted to go about taking charge of this project with his support. I noticed that they had great rapport and that his team in general adores him.

    So yeah, I cried (in the bathroom, of course) after our meeting. I was emotionally overwhelmed over the idea of working with a wonderful boss who cares about me and my career development. Coming from a dysfunctional workplace where being treated horribly is the norm, I feel like I don’t deserve this. I am also nervous about disappointing him.

    Overall, though, I am excited for this opportunity.

    1. Alyson*

      Ugh. I’M SO JEALOUS!!!! Send some of your good boss sprinkles over here please!

      Wishing you all the happiness you deserve. Trust me, I understand your pain about working in a dysfunctional office! I would cry tears of joy too!

      1. Lizzy*

        Hahaha, if I could clone him or bottle is his essence to ensure the AAM community got a great boss like him, I would.

    2. Mirilla*

      You deserve this! Good for you. I worked for someone like that years ago and it was wonderful. So glad you found a great working environment after the toxic one you just left.

  45. Not a Real Giraffe*

    I just started a new job about 5 weeks ago. I know I want to take a two-week vacation in September 2016. How early is too early to bring it up to my manager?

    FWIW, this is a big trip that requires a lot of logistics and it would be great if I could book flights/trains sooner rather than later. I want to make sure the timing of my trip works with our team schedule and if it doesn’t, figure out if there’s a way to work around it — or give up the dream of this trip altogether. I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve only been here a few weeks and am planning my next vacation, though!

    1. PX*

      I’d do it January. Just mention that you want to get planning early so as not to interfere with any other vacation plans/align with projects/deadlines.

      1. hermit crab*

        I agree! And you can frame it like, “I’ve started thinking about my vacation plans for the upcoming year. Would it be a problem if … ” etc. I actually think it would be less weird to say something like that in January than a few months into the new year.

  46. jen*

    I’m working through my notice period with my last day on New Year’s Eve. I’ve been intermittently checked out for the past year while job hunting (thinking I had a new position in the bag a few times) but this is excruciating. Especially since my boss doesn’t want me to tell our clients yet. I have a few particularly needy clients and I’m having such a hard time caring about their requests.

    My boss also views a notice period as a time to get tons of work done to ‘get ahead’ and not a transition period.

    I knew it wasn’t possible, but I was daydreaming that he would just tell me to pack it up and leave when I put in my notice.

    1. Marketing Girl*

      Good for you for finally being able to put in your notice. I literally dream of that day. I totally feel you on being checked out and the job hunting rollercoaster. Well, as far as “getting ahead” goes, you could do what you can (but I wouldn’t stress about it much if it were me), but after your last day- not your circus – not your monkeys – not your problem.
      Congrats on the new adventure!

    2. Can't Think Of A More Clever Anon Name Today*

      technically you could it just wouldn’t be good to burn that bridge/reference for the future in case you should need it.

  47. BrownEyedGirl*

    Today’s my last day of work. I’m going out to lunch with my department and then I’m done. I’ve updated my resume and been sending it out, but I have no idea how I’m going to get a new job (I wrote a letter to Alison looking for advice on how to pitch my very particular skill set and hope she’ll answer). I just need to know how to be calm? Any advice on what I should do with my free afternoon? Next steps?

    1. GOG11*

      When I’m nervous or stressed I enjoy physical activity to burn some of the tension off – maybe you could get in a work out this afternoon? Best of luck on your job search.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Give yourself this afternoon (and maybe the weekend) off. Catch up on books you’ve been meaning to read. Try out a new restaurant. Cook, garden, craft, eat a ton of cookie dough, do whatever makes you feel good. Then on Monday morning start looking for a new job. If you haven’t already, you should do some serious thinking about what you didn’t like in your last job, and what are your ‘must haves’ in a new job. Write down a list of your skills and the fields where they might need (some but not all of) those skills. Browse jobs listings just to see what sounds interesting to you. Some of my ideas for different kinds of jobs have come from simply seeing a job posting and thinking “that sounds like me, I could do that!”. Good luck!

  48. Anon for today*

    This happened to a friend of mine recently and I’m wondering what people here would have said to her. She was laid off after a period of very long steady employment at one non-profit organization where she was working as an Editor. In her job search she applied to and was contacted by an organization (no idea what sort) in her home state across the country and they covered her flight out for an interview. It went well and when she got home they called and offered her the job. She was really excited.

    She reviewed their offer and got back to them with a counter-offer to open negotiations with, and they responded by taking back the offer right away with zero discussion on the matter. She was shocked. She’s taking the high road and has disclosed very little about the exchange or the organization but here is what I know:

    1. She and I were co-workers for over a year, and I always knew her to be polite and professional in the office. When she’s comfortable she speaks assertively and is passionate and energetic. She has an extensive background in theater and choir, and is precisely the type of person you picture (in a positive way) when you think of someone with that experience.
    2. She is a very studious researcher (she has one published non-fiction book to her name) and I’m sure when she made the counter-offer it was not over-the-moon ridiculous.
    3. When she made her counter-offer, the points she raised she did her best to present as “requests/points of negotiation” but the people on the other end seemed to read them as “demands”.

    I told her she should thank her lucky stars, as much as it sucks, because she would not have been happy working for these people, but most of her other friends said she should try contacting them and explaining once again that she was trying to negotiate and not making demands of the organization. She ultimately did contact them again, but they remained firm in their pulling of the offer and that was the end of it.

    What advice would you have given her?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep. When an offer gets pulled because someone tried to negotiate, it’s because either the employer wasn’t reasonable (in which case it’s not a place she would have been happy working anyway) or there was a problem with the way she negotiated (she sounded rude or out of touch or asked for something outlandish, like doubling the offer).

        1. Anon for today*

          Agreed. As I said I know very little about the exchange between her and the organization, but the focal point of the offer getting pulled, her requests of negotiation, seems to be the crux of it. Obviously no one’s perfect, but most of this was done over email and as an Editor communicating via the written word is pretty much her life. So I have a hard time picturing her email being that drastically misunderstood.

          1. Bagworm*

            I agree that she’s probably better off but for some reason the idea of “requestS” is standing out to me. I realize that this could be just two small/normal requests (e.g., a higher salary and leaving early on Thursdays) but I wonder if she had a list of requests/points of negotiation. Even if they weren’t very onerous, it seems like a list of even minor requests might seem a bit high maintenance? Just wondering.

            1. Adam*

              It could be, but I don’t actually now how she phrased any of it. “Requests” is my verbage that I put for lack of a better thought at the time.

          2. College Career Counselor*

            Doesn’t matter how well she writes, it matters how they received what she wrote. And some people will take a well-researched presentation as “demanding” or “entitled” or “inflexible.” That can be mitigated [to some extent] by having the conversation in person, via Skype or over the phone. I’ve done negotiations in the last three jobs over the phone, and tone of voice can be very important in how your message is received. I’m not saying that it would have been different had your friend called (this place might still have been a bunch of oversensitive onanists), but it’s something to consider.

            1. Doriana Gray*

              I was going to say the same thing – negotiations work best over the phone. It’s so easy to miss tone or read things that aren’t actually there in writing.

    1. Sunflower*

      I could be off on this but an employer who acts this unreasonable..I wouldn’t be surprised if they put the offer out to multiple people at the same time and took the first one who accepted without negotiations.

      1. Anon for today*

        Do people actually do this? If you do it enough it seems guaranteed to earn your company a reputation as a bait and switcher!

      2. fposte*

        My first response was thinking who on earth would want to take the trouble to go back to other candidates over such a small thing? And if they have all the candidates on offer, I guess that would be one way of avoiding that trouble.

      3. Audiophile*

        That’s a scary thought. Let’s say you have two candidates who take the offer, how does that end?
        I can see having a 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice candidate, but making simultaneous offers. Yeesh, that just seems like a recipe for disaster.

    2. Artemesia*

      Want to bet that any man they had offered the job to who did this would have been negotiated with? Men negotiate, women are whiny and demanding. I have seen it before; she dodged a bullet but then that is no comfort when you don’t have a job.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Not right now, but maybe at some point she can try to find out if this company has a history of not negotiating. It might give her some peace of mind to know these people do not negotiate with anyone or that there were other reasons.

  49. Felix*

    I’m wondering if people can share their time management tips with me? I’m fairly new to my career (2 ish years) and I work about 5-8 hours of overtime a week.

    I’m trying to figure out how to better manage my time at work so that I can work “smarter instead of harder.” I’d also be really interested to know how people fit in other things in you week – particularly: exercise, staying up to date on the news, hobbies, and socializing.

    I feel lucky if I manage to fit in commute, work, making meals, time with my SO, tidying the house and a bit of downtime watching tv. I’m feeling burnt out with just these things though and really want a more balanced life.

    1. Adam*

      Time management is much easier if you actually know what it is that you’re supposed to be doing. For a lot of people this means making lists of the various things you need to get done that day. With that my advice is this: don’t make your list in the morning (or whenever) when you first get to work as it may take you a while to get in work mode and clear the cobwebs out of your head. Instead, make your list at the end of your day when you’re still in work mode so it’s ready and waiting for you when you get to work the next day.

      As far as non-work activities and fitting them in your waking hours: prioritize the things you really want to do most and make it easy for you to go and do them. You can’t do EVERYTHING, but you can do a lot in the time you have. Working out is really important to me, so I nearly always go right after work and my gym is a 15 minute walk from my office. This has an added benefit in that traffic usually sucks right when I get out of work but after I’ve spent an hour at the gym it’s not as bad.

      Also, learn to cook big meals that you can mine leftovers from for a couple days. I love to cook, but it can take a lot of time and making one small meal is usually not all that much different from making a big one that can be portioned out, so having something I can heat up when I get home and might be too unmotivated to cook helps tremendously in saving me time for the fun activities I can do before bed.

      1. Felix*

        These are great suggestions! Wondering what you think here-

        I make a big list once a week and then highlight tasks for each day- updating if needed throughout the week. I think part of the problem is that I keep getting important tasks dropped in my lap on a weekly basis that trump my other projects (that are just as important but less time sensitive). I feel like I’m always just managing to keep my head above water since my time management plans have to go out the window pretty much as soon as I make them due to these never ending new projects. How can I factor this into my planning when there doesn’t seem to be enough time to get ahead on the regular projects? I make all my deadlines (but just) and that’s only because of the overtime I put in).

        1. Adam*

          Are these interrupting tasks things that need to be done “really soon” or “right this second”? If things are urgent but not crisis level urgent maybe you can schedule a section of your time every day to tackle those specific things and designate other times to work on your long-term projects.

          I find that while unexpected things are bound to come up, they tend to come up in patterns. Nearly nothing major happens to me in the first hour or so at my job, so it’s a great time to work on things in peace and quiet.

          Also are you the only person that can do these task or is it possible to share the load with your co-workers a bit more?

          1. Felix*

            Hmm it’s hard to explain without saying exactly what I do, but they are more things that need to be done “really soon” but as in, by the end of the day at least. Nothing’s ever at crisis level, but it’s all really urgent and needs to be completed for meetings with upper-upper management either later that day, or next day.

            While I can ask for help, I’m really the only staff person to do this work. I’m in a new position that the department hasn’t had before… I think that’s really part of the problem. We are all learning as we go, and the going is interrupting my workflow!

      2. Audiophile*

        I really like your tip for making a to-do list. I’ve never really made any, never had jobs where I needed them. With my new job, I’ll definitely need it. I’m getting pulled into projects, that have a high priority, and so initial plans are quickly falling by the way side. It’s great to be included in these important projects, but it’s also feeling overwhelming because I’ve never done these sorts of things before.

    2. Not me*

      I keep daily calendars and to-do lists. I’ve recently started using an app called Hours at work, which has been incredibly useful. It’s showing me exactly how much time I spend on different tasks – and exactly how much time I spend on a “10-minute” break. You might try tracking how you spend your time in detail, without trying to change it immediately, so you can see where your free time is going and what you can change.

      1. Felix*

        I also meant to ask- were you surprised by what you found out? Were you spending the most time on the things you thought you were?

        1. Not me*

          Yeah, it was pretty shocking! Like the first month I used Mint.

          I found out that two specific things that I expect to take two or three hours actually take a little less time, that a “10-minute” break that includes lunch turns into at least 30 minutes of distraction, and that I spend about an hour a day reading and replying to emails.

          1. Felix*

            Oh this is so interesting. I’ll definitely have to try it. Sadly, I spend much more like 5 hours a day reading and replying to emails… the rest of the time I’m in meetings. It’s hard to fit the actual “work” in.

        2. Not me*

          By the way, there are a lot of similar apps, and you could do this just as well in a notebook. Hours is just what I have managed to stick to recently. :)

    3. GOG11*

      Lists have been tremendously helpful to me, as well. I keep a notebook that has a page a day and I write EVERYTHING I have to do in it – this keeps me from using up mental energy on keeping myself from forgetting things. If I don’t get to it, I draw an arrow through it and put it on another day. If I do it early, I draw an arrow pointing back. A line gets drawn through it if it becomes obsolete (say, I write down to check in with Boss about a project but Boss reaches out to me before when I’d planned to follow up on the project). Stuff that got done as planned gets an X. I also mark where I started the day (so, I draw a line under the tasks I had planned for myself before starting – helps me keep track and show how much stuff I can’t plan for or know to do in advance). All of this keeps track of tasks and projects so I don’t forget anything but also helps me see how my time gets used and is called on.

      In the notebook, I also jot down things I know I’ll need to remember, either short term or long-term. I highlight certain items and then when I’m done with the notebook or have downtime, I transfer those into more permanent homes. Speaking of, I make process guides and templates for most things I do. If I’ve done it once, and it will get repeated, I usually have some sort of “kit” so I can do it much quicker the next time (both because some materials don’t have to be created from scratch and because I don’t have to spend any time reteaching myself how to do something I last did six months ago).

      Small time savers:
      – Save commonly sent emails as drafts or if in Google as canned responses.
      – I used to spend a lot of time trying to figure out if I’d need certain papers or files, but now I spend very little time on determining what needs to be saved vs. shredded (unless it’s obvious) by keeping my cast-offs for one year – rifling through these has been super helpful on several occasions and doesn’t take long as everything is in chronological order. For files I’m pretty sure I only need once/that don’t have an obvious place, I save them in a “temp” folder and keep them for a year.
      – I save files using a consistent structure across everything and I name the files so I can find them relatively easily using the search function. Initially, I would just save something as “File name” when the file path was “Department > Year > Quarter > Project > File name.” Now I do something more like “Department > Dept Year > Dept Yr Project > Dept Yr Qtr Prjct File Name” because I’d search for the name and get one for every quarter without a sense of which one was actually which. It only takes a couple of extra seconds to save something with a more useful name, but it has saved me LOADS of time when compiling data, generating reports or summaries, or looking for that format I used from 3 years ago that Boss wants to go back to.

      Note that I’m an Admin Assistant, so I have a mix of my own projects, assisting with projects of others, anticipate-able/plannable yearly/bi-annual/quarterly/monthly and weekly tasks, one-off requests, and stuff that falls into my lap that I would have no way of knowing it’s coming my way in advance. While there is some variation among those I assist, relying on consistency across departments when I can and borrowing from my own previous work has been key to managing my time well.

      1. IlseBurnley*

        This is amazing. Is it possible to post a picture of how your notebook to do list looks? It sounds conceptually awesome but hard to visualize. And what is the benefit (to you) of the backward arrow that shows you did it earlier? Thanks!

        1. GOG11*

          I’m glad it comes off as great and not ridiculous or too fastidious.

          The backward arrow tells me that I either had to do something earlier than I anticipated, which helps me know to plan for a quicker turnaround time next time, or it means that I was able to work ahead and got to it earlier than I thought I would due to workload. When I do something in advance, I mark it on the day I did it with an X and draw the arrow going backwards on the day I had originally planned to do it.

          Tracking stuff like this also helps answer Alison’s question of “what isn’t getting done” because I can see how many days it took me to FINALLY get to certain tasks. I’ll make up a demo page and post it this evening (my actual notebook has identifying info on most pages).

          1. GOG11*

            So today I learned how to use Imgur! Sorry for the low quality and general weirdness – my home computer and its software programs are pretty out of date so I had to take screen shots of excel. I hope this makes sense. http://imgur.com/FhvSLhx

            Please note that I did not come up with this “system” one day as a way to organize my stuff and manage my time. Rather, I’ve kept notebooks for the past 3 years and have built these patterns over time. I have a system I use consistently, but I didn’t even quite realize what all it does or how I use it until I analyzed it to explain it. Also, my notebook is a temporary thing – it’s where things go on a day-by-day micro level. For some things, that’s all it is, but for others, this feeds into tracking sheets or process guides or project-specific checklists. It’s all stuff that I’ve developed because I needed a way to track all the stuff that comes across my desk, and it works for me. I hope some of it could be helpful for you, too. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

            1. Felix*

              This is amazing! I’m so impressed. Thank you for sharing your process! My lists aren’t nearly that organized. Do you keep these notes by hand in your notebook, or is it all digital? That’s also something I’m debating on – I LOVE keeping hand written lists as it somehow helps me to grasp the fullness of the projects more, but I find it much easier to track and update online.

              1. GOG11*

                Thank you! And you’re welcome. I keep the lists by hand. They look really organized there, but I have terrible handwriting and stuff gets crazy on paper. Things have sort of sorted themselves out over time to be where they are now, so that lends to the organization a lot, too, I think. A couple of friends have really encouraged me to switch to OneNote but I just do better with hand-written to do stuff, especially for planning everything in one place on a daily “level.”

                If you don’t mind sharing, what online program do you currently use to track things?

                1. Felix*

                  Ahh, I’m kinda embarrassed. I really just use word for my lists and excel for project workflow plans. It’s not particularly high tech, but it seems to do the trick…

                  Although – something that has worked really well for me is to make an appointment with myself in outlook for important project deadlines. I’ll make this appointment for all day, and that I’m available (so it just hangs out at the top of the day). I color code it red so it stands out. I always make it for at least 4 days before the project is due. This helps visualize and prioritize my work. I use outlook religiously though as I’m in upwards of 10-15 meetings per week.

                2. GOG11*

                  Please don’t feel embarrassed – that makes sense. It is a lot easier to just plug in new dates in Excel than to write out a new plan by hand. It’s also much easier to move cells around and play with where things go electronically than trying to scribble things out and write in the margins on paper.

                  I’ve never used Outlook before, but it seems to have a lot of good features. When you make the appointment, are you able to actually block out a full day, or does having the full day scheduled just help it to stand out better/more? Color is another good idea! Our brains recognize the color much quicker than reading whatever is written and you can color in a certain block to show how much time something will take up. When my schedule was largely time bound rather than task bound I would color-code certain things and seeing the chunks of color helped me visualise how my day would play out.

    4. Snarky McSnark*

      If you properly meal prep on Sunday, you can prep a week’s worth of meals in a few hours. Marinate some chicken or pork that slow cooked the first day for shredded sandwiches, then you could make tacos the next day, soup the following day (having all the veggies ready to toss in a pot with stock, chicken and rice), and leftovers the next day. Even just chopping all the veggies in a big batch will take less time than doing it each night (onions can last chopped a few days if stored properly).

      1. F.*

        The crockpot (slow cooker) is my friend! I cook enough on Sunday for the two of us to eat three meals during the week (a total of six servings). The other nights are simple things popped in the oven (frozen salmon fillets, breaded shrimp, crab patties, etc.) I make a good sized salad fresh each evening for the two of us, it only takes ten minutes while the main dish cooks. I use bagged spinach, low-sugar dried cranberries, black olives, garbanzo beans, green onion, chopped green pepper, sliced fresh mushrooms, a sprinkle of feta cheese, grape tomatoes, and thinly-sliced fresh strawberries from my garden in season. Yummy!!

        1. Felix*

          Are we the same person?! I do all this too! The crock pot is saving my life. I do full roasted chickens in mine, soup and pulled pork. My BF is always so impressed by my roasted chickens :)

          And on nights when I don’t use the slow cooker my go to is frozen salmon fillets. The salad you describe is literally exactly what I make almost every day for lunch and top with whatever protein I have left over from dinner (except without onions and mushrooms so it’s FODMAP friendly).

    5. misspiggy*

      Mentally dividing things into a priority quadrant – can’t remember the specific name – is helpful. Each task will be one of the following: urgent-and-important; not-urgent-but-important; urgent-but-not-important; or not-urgent-and-important. Make sure your categorisation aligns with that of your manager. Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories. You can spend some time on the third group at times of day when you want a brain break, and you’d aim to spend no time on the fourth, unless you have nothing else to do and it’s well before 5.

      1. Felix*

        I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, actually. But, I’m not sure how to classify items in those quadrants. For instance, what if I’m working on a project for a client that for me is “not urgent but important” but for the client it is “urgent and important” so I end up making it a priority over my own “urgent and important” tasks just to address all the emails and phone calls from the client, My boss would agree with my assessment that it’s “not urgent but important” and that my tasks should trump that item for the day, but on the other hand, it’s important to keep clients happy and to maintain those relationships.

        I end up dealing with those things all day during business hours and then do OT to work on my own” urgent and important tasks” because after hours is the only quiet time without interruptions …

  50. Tris Prior*

    Well, merry effing Christmas. I found out a couple days ago that my company is closing in a few months and we’re all going to lose our jobs. I’ve never been laid off or fired before – always left jobs on my own terms – and I am kind of freaking out. I work in a VERY specialized arts-related field and my previous fields are dead (being done overseas or by freelancers for utter crap pay). So I am not really sure what to even look for next other than “not corporate,” “not retail,” and “somehow arts-related.”

    As ridiculous as this sounds – other than the obvious money issues, I’m really upset that I’m going to have to get rid of the not-found-in-nature hair color in order to pass as normal while job hunting.

    I am SO tired of struggling financially. I had just gotten to the point where we’ve got a little breathing room, debt is paid off, maybe I could start putting money in my IRA again… yeah, no.

    I’m grateful that at least we have plenty of notice and are not just getting immediately tossed out on our asses … but, ug. :(

    1. NJ Anon*

      So sorry-this sux. I understand about struggling for so long-I was in the same boat. Re: your hair-it’s temporary so try not to stress. Maybe you can do something like temporary hair color when you have a job interview?

      1. AndersonDarling*

        As far as the hair, there are a lot of edgy things you can do without orange or purple (how I miss those wild hair days!). You can do chunky platinum contrasting with dark chocolates, or tint the “under hair” with black and have a lighter brown on the top layer.
        And sorry about the layoff. If you had been struggling financially already, maybe the next job will be the one that gets you to financial comfort? It may have taken a layoff to get you out looking for the great job that is sitting there waiting for you! (I hope my optimism isn’t over the top, I’m wishing the best for you.)

        1. Tris Prior*

          For many years I did that shade of red that obviously no one’s born with but can still “pass” in most offices. I’ll probably go back to that… but, well, I’ve got some chunks of pretty bright purple going on right now and I am uncertain whether it’ll need to be bleached out. I have a haircut appointment tomorrow so I’m going to ask the stylist what she suggests.

          Not that “dream jobs” exist… but this one was pretty darn close, other than the low pay. I was willing to accept that because my co-workers are awesome, my boss is wonderful, I could be myself in both appearance and personality (no office politics, everyone was very blunt and honest, did not have to fake normalcy or chipper-ness) and it’s in a specialized field that is something I love to do. Lately, it had been rough because we had a layoff which meant that I became responsible for tasks that were stressful and I didn’t like. Plus, anyone can look up the profit/loss in our database – it was disheartening to bust ass, then look at what we took in that week and realize that we didn’t actually make that much. I’m looking forward to not having to deal with that any more, because it is demoralizing when it goes on for months on end.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            You can do a dark rinse so you won’t have to bleach anything out. Plus, your fun color will still be there underneath and by the time you find something new, the rinse will have washed out and you’ll have your fun color again.

            Sorry about your layoff – that sucks :(

        2. Annie Moose*

          My former manager (who now manages my manager) has her hair really dark brown, but with a subtle purple that you can only see when the lights hits it just right. It looks AMAZING on her. She’s a really great dresser, and somehow she makes even purple seem classy and professional.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      That stinks. :(

      People almost always have transferable skills–it helped me when I was job hunting to sit down and see what they were (I wanted to get off the front desk). Also, I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook online looking for different fields, what they were like, and what it would take to get into them.

      I ended up with an admin job that fortunately was not front desk, but the OOH was a big help. Here is the link: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      Sorry that sucks. I just wanna say I’m surprised at how often there’s layoffs or these kinds of announcements right around the holidays, wtf is up with that.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Our owner wanted to give us as much notice as possible. I am sort of grateful because at least now I know to put off some major purchases and to cut back for Christmas. I’d feel worse if I blew a lot of money on the holidays and then found out I’d lose my job.

  51. Jessen*

    Do employers really care what you wear outside of work? I go full goth on my free time – tutu skirts, black makeup, spiky hair. Of course I’m sensitive to what I can wear to work; my default professional wardrobe consists of black skirts and jewel-toned blouses. But my mother insists if I’m seen around town in my full goth attire, or if I have pictures of it findable on social media, that it’ll block me from getting hired.

    1. Graciosa*

      This is not going to bother most sensible employers (and I work at a Fortune 100 company that is fairly conservative). Candidly, I don’t look at social media unless the individual asks me to (say with a link on a resume) so I’m not even going to see it.

      I would like to say that your attire outside of work or available pictures on social media would never bother us, but I don’t think that tolerance would extend to stripper-wear in public. There is a public indecency line we would expect people representing our company to have the sense to avoid, but I’m not aware of that ever being an issue with a goth look.

      I would also like to tell you that it would not bother any employers, but I used the “sensible” modifier deliberately. There are probably a few anachronisms out there who would be appalled – but honestly, do you want to work for them?

      Work takes up enough of your life during working hours – it does not need to take over your non-working hours as well. If you can refrain from badmouthing your employer, endorsing your competitors, making company secrets public, or getting arrested, I wouldn’t worry about anything else you want to do after hours.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I also wonder about fandom attire. You can occasionally find me in social media as a Dalek or wizard…

        1. AndersonDarling*

          As long as you are at a convention and not at Olive Garden, I think it is acceptable. I mean, who doesn’t want to make a Dalek?

        2. Felicia*

          If I saw you on social media as a Dalek, I’d be more likely to want to hire you (I can be found on social media myself as a TARDIS).

    2. Chriama*

      Being seen around town? No. Easily found on social media with your name attached to it and no other search results that show you in a more professional setting? Possibly. It depends on the industry you’re applying to and what sort of a candidate you are in other ways (e.g. are you entry level?)

      1. Jessen*

        I’m entry level, pretty much. Honestly I’d be shocked if you could find me on social media at all – it’s not that I don’t have a presence, but my name is so ridiculously common it’s almost impossible to find results that are actually me, not someone else with my name.

    3. Tris Prior*

      I sure hope not, as I’d be in serious deep sh*t too, hahaha.

      If you’re job hunting, though, probably not a bad idea to set your privacy on Facebook so that the general public cannot view those photos. (crap, I’ve got to do that now too; most of my FB is very locked down but I just realized my current profile pic is full-on goth…)

  52. hermit crab*

    I learned a new word/concept today from a British colleague (actually from a British colleague’s British client, as my coworker had to look it up because he’d never heard it before either) — fully paid “garden leave” for confidentiality/non-compete reasons. Is that a common thing in the UK? It just seems like something that would never happen in the US!

    1. Kelly L.*

      Does that mean “paying you to stay home instead of getting another job”? That’s the first thing I thought of, since I know “garden” can be used over there to just mean your yard.

      1. PX*

        Pretty much. This came up in one of the threads about non-competes before but yes, essentially the company pays you to not come to work. I’ve also heard it happen when they are restructuring/want to lay off people but dont want to look bad, they basically pay you not to come to work (you could job hunt in your spare time if you wanted I guess).

      2. Jules the First*

        Yes, it’s very common in the UK. If you have a non-compete, or you work with very confidential stuff, they pay you not to come to work but you are not allowed to speak to your former colleagues or work for anyone else during that time. You also need to be available to answer questions or handle emergencies, so you generally need consent to do things like travel during that period (hence garden leave – sometimes called gardening leave, because you’re not allowed to do anything professional-related so pottering about in your garden is a common way to fill the time).

        My last contract I had four weeks of garden leave – one of my cousins who works in a rare corner of finance had five years (which is pretty unusual).

        1. Audiophile*

          I can’t imagine being stuck not working for 5 years and I don’t even love working all that much to begin with.

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      It’s pretty common in my experience, yeah. I know of three people personally who’ve been placed on gardening leave, including my best friend who had three months of it between jobs. It’s commonplace enough to get a section devoted to it in the government jobs and pensions website.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        Does that mean that the competitor with whom you took a new job gives you “garden leave” for the first 3-6 months of your employment, or whatever time it takes for any non-compete clause with your previous job to expire?

        1. Jules the First*

          Garden leave is usually attached to your notice period. So, for example, my notice period is one calendar month and my non-compete is three months, so while I technically only need to work four weeks after I give notice, the company can exercise the garden leave clause, which would mean I couldn’t start my shiny new job until three months after I’d announced I was leaving. But they’d have to pay me my full salary for that whole period, and they can’t ask me to work more than a few hours a week.

          It’s inconvenient, but most employers who are hiring people who might have a garden leave clause expect it and will ask during your interview.

        2. Claire (Scotland)*

          No, it generally comes from the job you are leaving not moving to, and is associated with notice periods. In my friend’s case, she gave three months notice (contractually required) when she accepted another job and they immediately placed her on gardening leave.

    3. Silver*

      I’ve also seen it in used in Australia for Managerial and up positions in highly competitive fields.
      A few years ago an exec at one of the TV Networks move from one to another and was taken to court to enforce the restraint clause (ie gardening leave). He couldn’t start his new job for about 6 months.

      It’s often about preventing the sharing of information that could impact the previous employer. In the above case it was about advertising rates negotiations for the next ratings year.

  53. HigherEd Frustration*

    I am juggling two potential job offers and I don’t know what to do! This would be my first “real” job towards a career and my last two jobs have been TERRIBLE. I feel underutilized and burnt out and I do not want to make the same mistake again (thankfully, I found AAM). I went to school planning on eventually going to graduate school. I wanted to work in a museum as a curator or with archives, but reality kind of hit me hard. I am a first generation college student and I don’t have a lot of guidance regarding job hunting or career-track jobs. Now I am unsure what I really want to do, but two great opportunities have presented themselves, and I am unsure of what to do.

    Job A is an entry level admin job at a University 20 min from my house. The offer decent pay (pretty much what I am making now) with excellent benefits and room to grow. I have been trying to get a job there for over a year, mostly because of the culture, the benefits, and the opportunity to get a master’s degree for free (besides textbooks and taxes).

    Job B would be an entry level admin in a collections department for a hugely anticipated upcoming museum in a major city close to me. It would be a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a great institution and a department that I am interested in (and thats virtually impossible to get a job in without volunteering or having a master’s or doctorate). t. The problem is, it’s a 1+ hour commute. It would only be like that for 12-18 months, and then it would be a 30-45 min public transportation commute that would be less than ideal, but tolerable.

    Both seem like great opportunities that would be a good fit. I know you shouldn’t get a masters without having more of a plan of what you’re going to do with it, but I just can’t decide what’s more important—job experience while getting a almost free master’s, or work experience in a field that I *think* I want to get into, but I’m not so sure anymore.

    I’m sorry this is long and rambling, but I would appreciate any insights from people with more experience or work in cultural institutions or highered!

    1. jen*

      I just gave up a short commute for a very long one (1+ hour by car vs 30ish minutes on bus or 10 minutes by car +parking cost) to get to a way bigger organization, more money and more room for advancement. It was a tough decision. However, I’m pretty solidly mid-career. I don’t know if I would have made the same call at your point.

    2. Meg Murry*

      Would you actually be doing much museum-y work at Job B, or would it be straight up admin that just happens to be at a museum? Why do you have to wait to move closer – are you waiting for an SO to finish a job or degree, is that how much longer is on your lease? If it was doing some actual museum work, I’d lean toward B, but if it’s answering the phone, making copies and coordinating people’s calendars, etc and just happens to be at a museum (that is 1+ hours away) I would think that would be rough. How would you be commuting – by car, or public transit? Are you in an area where snow or traffic would make it a way worse? Do you have significant responsibilities at home (caring for a child or older adult, fixing up a house, etc) that would make it extra hard on you to have long work + commute days? I’ve commuted for 1 hour each by car, and that pushed me to my limit – it just ate up so much of my time every day!

      For Job A, is there a well rated masters program that would directly relate to your desired field of study? I agree that it doesn’t make sense to take the time for a masters degree if you aren’t 100% certain it’s a field you want to be in. If you took Job A, is there a museum you could volunteer at first, instead of diving right into a Masters program?

      Given that you are young-ish (I’m guessing) I would lean toward Job B since it’s in your desired field, but with the caveat that only if you can afford to pay your bills and move closer on the salary they are offering – will it cost a lot more to move closer in a year?

      If you need financial security and time in your life more than kickstarting a career, I’d lean toward A – I’ve worked as an Admin at a college when I had young kids, and the benefits were awesome. It was the kind of job that was just a job, not a career for me, but it was the kind of thing that I was at least content at, and allowed me enough time and money to be able to enjoy the rest of my life – actually have time to see my family and spend time on hobbies, basically working to live instead of trying to fulfill myself through work and not having time for a life outside work.

    3. Overeducated and underemployed*

      For museums, a master’s is helpful but not sufficient without job experience. Full time employment in museums is really hard to get even with a graduate degree (I have a PhD and three years of part time experience and I am still looking). I would take job B in your shoes.

      1. HigherEd Frustration*

        Right now I am leaning towards Job A because of the chance to get into any variety of masters programs at a well respected university. The last two years at my last two jobs have been absolute nightmares, to the point to being medicated and having a huge breakdown. Job B mentioned they promoted an admin to collections and mentioned being a team player and learning new things, but I just don’t know if I can handle the commute. My partner just got promoted to management, so moving isnt really in the cards right now. I think I am struggling with this so much bc of my current job situation, my knowledge of how hard it is to get into a museum/collections, and I don’t want to sell myself short over something like a commute, but mental health, ya know? Thanks for everyone’s input and any other advice would be great!

        1. Meg Murry*

          A commute is not a little thing, especially if it’s an hour + each way. That’s 10+ hours a week – it’s like working a whole extra day. Mental health is definitely worth considering.

          You need to do what you need to do, but don’t beat yourself up for not jumping at Job B right now. There is nothing wrong with taking the job that will allow you to be happy and sane over one that will stress you out. And you might find that you like learning about museums more in theory (in classes and in volunteering) than working at one all day every day. Just don’t totally burn the Job B bridge – if you really want to work in museums again, your paths may cross down the road. So if you are going to turn them down, go ahead and do it now so they can move on to their second choice candidate.

        2. LisaLee*

          Personally, I’d go with B. I also wanted to go into Museums so I know how difficult it is to find work…but honestly, the financial benefits of A sound great and it sounds like you would really benefit from the lower stress. Look for low-commitment internships or volunteer work to build your museum resume.

          When I was doing my museums degree (an undergrad degree, not a Masters, though) I emailed the different museums on campus (usually the collections manager or dept. head) and said basically, “I am a student in the museum program, I want some experience and I’ve got X hours a week, want me?” I always got takers. Sure, a lot of it was grunt work, but you have to start somewhere. Some friends of mine even got to head their own projects in the library’s rare book conservation lab and an ethnographic collection, which was great experience, although that’s a larger time commitment.

        3. overeducated and underemployed*

          I think it just depends on what you think you can handle. I live in a place where I kind of can’t avoid a 1 hr commute, so 20 minutes sounds like a fantasy but 1 hr is my “normal.” It is a big adjustment though. If you need to make the decision based on mental health I absolutely respect that.

          I just want to stress, again, that if you do want to go into museums, to me it seems like the most important things are 1) experience/connections and 2) a museum studies degree with heavy internship and project-based work to build your resume. A free MA in, say, history or art from a well-respected university is not going to get you as far, so you’d have to weigh the opportunity cost of having to get that experience later (something I wish I’d done more), or of spending time volunteering while working to build your resume, which could easily take up as much time as the longer commute. But if you see the university job as more of a chance to explore other directions or start a career in a sector with better pay, benefits, or work-life balance, then that’s a big opportunity of a different sort.

    4. Chloe Silverado*

      I’m also a first generation college grad, so I feel you on the lack of guidance.

      I would really think hard about what that long commute will do for your overall quality of life. I graduated in the height of the recession when opportunities were few and far between, so I drove 60-90 minutes to work every day for my first professional job. This was fine most days, but was problematic during busy seasons when I had to work late or if there was an after work event I had to attend. The long commute also made it more challenging to get involved with professional organizations or maintain a life outside of work (meeting up with friends, going to the gym, getting errands done, etc). Many people have no problem dealing with a long commute – some even enjoy it, and that might be you – but it was decidedly not for me. I feel like I have a better work/life balance now that my commute is shorter. I’m also saving a ton of money on gas and vehicle maintenance!

      That said, as cheesy as it may be I am a big proponent of chasing your dreams, and it sounds like working in a museum was your dream for a long time. If there’s any chance that declining the museum job would be that thing you’d always look back and wonder “What if?” about, it may be worth giving it a shot despite the inconvenient commute. Good luck!

    5. Sasha Mulberry*

      If you’re working towards a Master’s, wouldn’t the short commute be better, since you’d need plenty of study/work time?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      First generation college student here, also. I have never been one to take big risks. I like to feel like I am on solid ground. When I am having difficulty deciding between two or more choices, I tend to think about which one would give me the most options if I decided I did not like the job. Can I make lateral moves? Will I meet people that would be good contacts for finding a new job?

      I think in a way you kind of answered your own question, with your health, your partner’s job and other things it seems that taking the closer job would be the better choice right now. It’s better to take on smaller mountains and be successful than it is to take on Mt. Everest and quit half way up the mountain. Put yourself where you think you will probably succeed. And incrementally move forward from there. Just because getting a museum job is hard, does not mean it is impossible. You will probably have opportunities later on. As a compromise to this dilemma, you could take the job nearer you now and make a vow/a commitment to yourself to be on the look out for a similar museum job in the future.

      Again, I am not a big risk taker, something to keep in mind as you read this here.

  54. Meg Murry*

    So I’m now officially managing one technician, and directing the work of 2 other part timers, while unofficially mentoring 2 other new-ish professionals (one has 2 years experience and the other 5, I’ve been in the industry for 10+ years). However, the technician still needs a lot of training (he’s fresh out of college) and I’m still expected to spend a decent part of my day being a do-er, not just a manager.

    For other people juggling being a do-er and a manager and a trainer – how do you handle it? I’ve been trying to have other staff members training and overseeing the technicians work as well, but I feel like I spend half to 3/4 of my day just figuring out how to keep him and the other techs going on projects or explaining what’s going on, how to do various tasks, another hour or two explaining to my bosses the current state of projects, getting clarification from customers on their projects, etc – and that basically only leaves me with about an hour a day to actually be doing things that produce work.

    I know it will get better once the technician has a little more training (I’ve been able to send him off on longer tasks for a few hours at a time this week) but right now, I’m drowning. In previous jobs, I’ve handled it by having shifted hours – the techs came in an hour or more before me, and I’d stay 1-2 (or more) hours after they left, and I’d review their work for the day and email them with what they needed to know to start the next day’s tasks. But that isn’t going to work at this gig – and I don’t want to get in the cycle of working later and later every night again.

    Other than blocking off specific “do not disturb unless crucial” hours of my day, or taking work home at night (which isn’t always possible, my job is lab based), how else would you recommend I try to get anything done? I am hoping that pretty soon the tech will be able to handle at least a few more tasks on his own, but we will still be having lots of new things come up where I will have to explain a lot to him or work side by side with him – but slowly, so that we really aren’t getting much more done that if I just did it all myself – which is another thing I’m trying to avoid doing, I have a bad habit of wanting to just do everything myself so it’s exactly the way I want it.

    It doesn’t help that next week is the last week in the office for a little while, so I’m trying cram in training for work for the techs to do while I am out. Any advice, or at least commiseration on how long it took after hiring fresh, needing trained people until you were able to stop feeling like you were just drowning or getting nothing done?

    1. misspiggy*

      It sounds like you’re doing very intensive training for a long period. If that’s the case, your total workload seems unreasonable. In an ideal world you should be able to push back on your other direct work until you’ve finished the intensive stage of training. Is there a clear time frame for when your trainee should be up and running? Is he overdue on that, and needing performance management?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds normal to me. Sorry, not trying to be flip, I think that doing an hour of productive work a day sounds about right for your setting.

      Start this upcoming week, look for small ways to delegate things that you have not been delegating and yet should be delegating. If you can delegate out a task that takes you three minutes every day, you have just reclaimed three minutes of your day. Keep going, find another three minutes and so on.

      I am not clear from what I am reading here, but if others can train on simpler tasks let them take over some of those training points.
      Can you assign your trainee to shadow someone for a period of time each day or several times a week?

      One thing I did was use the last hour of each day to set up for the next day. And this not only saved my butt, but it allowed me to conquer the job. The hour would include lining up work for a few of the people in my group. I lined up enough work so that they could at least start and the demands on my time would be delayed by an hour or two when I came in the next day. When I lined up work, I chose to set up for the fastest people and for the training people, first. This brings me to my next point: an informal assistant.

      Is there anyone that you could get to help you? Sometimes, I needed help setting up first thing in the morning. I had a few people that I could chose from to help me. They knew if I said “We need ABC”, what I meant and how to set it up.

      When I set up something different, I tried to take someone “with me”. I’d have them set up with me and I’d teach them the ropes as we went along. This made the set up go faster and it also caused at least one person to be somewhat familiar with the new set up. This came in handy as we went along.

      When you teach, make sure you are teaching how to problem solve. Given choice A or B. how does one choose the correct option? Sometimes both options are correct, but you prefer A. So just say that you prefer A in these instances and explain why. Okay, so this paragraph seems pretty obvious, but what is not obvious is to teach the person what to do if they are left alone to decide. Always be explaining things as “here is how you figure out which to do if you are working on this by yourself….” The pitfall is what you are doing is exhausting, so it is much easier just to give the answer and move on. However, the person will never gain independence if he does not know how to make the decision for himself. Don’t let your fatigue get the best of you. The way out of this one is to build everyone else up.

      Having things exactly the way you want them: To some extent you can teach folks how you like things to be handled and what you want the end product to look like. People will tend to do what you are saying. For your own sanity/peace of mind it would be helpful to dial back on this need, because it seems that there is usually more than one way to do something. Go case by case and ask yourself “is it necessary that this be done MY EXACT way?” Here’s the kicker, sometimes the employees can show the manager how to do something faster and with more accuracy. It comes from their level of familiarity with their own work. If you are caught on doing it your way, you will miss out on these faster/more accurate ways. ANNNND, if you have done a good job training your people, then I can almost promise you that they will expand and develop what you have shown them. It takes time to play out, but it does happen.

      With my core group, I felt it was about six months before I started to relax a tad. I could see differences and I could see that we were building a work relationship. At the one year mark, they blew me away. I needed one of them to help me handle all the work they completed. To me it was about building relationships- learning about each other. They had to learn my preferences/concerns/etc so they could be in sync. And I had to learn their limits so I could teach/assist and in some cases I had to reconfigure the task to make it more manageable for everyone.
      It helped me to have an idea where we would be once we got through the training, etc. (I kind of knew they were going to blow me away.) Have an idea of where your group is heading once they are up to speed.

  55. Bio-Pharma*

    THIS WEBSITE IS MAKING ME SICK!!!

    Ok a few weeks ago, I was a passenger on a long car ride, and kept reading AAM on my phone, even though i was getting car sick. I just couldn’t stop.

    I SWEAR, now whenever I read AAM on my phone (and stationary), I start feeling sick!!!

      1. Kelly L.*

        I can apparently read on the highway but not on city streets–too much starting and stopping and potholes. I have an actual determined point on my bus ride where I break out the book!

  56. Liza*

    I published a knitting pattern on Ravelry! It’s my first one, and I’m really proud of myself for doing it. I am stoked that 47 people have already downloaded it, and I can’t wait to see other people’s pictures after they knit it. OTOH, it does use 2-3 different yarns so depending on what someone has left over in their stash, it might be a while before anyone does knit it…

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Alison can chime in here, but I think this post is probably better for the weekend non-work open thread. That said, please come back for the weekend open thread and give us a link to your pattern!

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, although if Liza is making patterns for a living or extra money or running a yarn store (or hopes to someday) I could see this being work related.

        That said, either way, congrats and definitely tell us more about it on Sunday!

      2. Liza*

        Gah! I agree, I was just so excited to say something about it that I missed that this wasn’t the non-work open thread. Sorry about that!

  57. katamia*

    I’m back in the US after my job overseas turned out to be a huge disaster. So now I’m unemployed. After the holidays, I’m going to reach out to places I previously contracted/freelanced with so I’m not out of work for too long, but I want to contact a few new places first because I have reason to believe they pay better than the companies I was working with before.

    However, the work I was doing before I went overseas is unsustainable as a long-term career for me because it’s very hard on me physically, so I’m also looking at other kinds of jobs. But I’m a probably-not-very-competitive candidate (my references are out of date and my work history is somewhat odd, although I’ve always gotten a lot of interviews) for a lot of the interesting jobs around here, so, to quote the non-AAM Magic 8 ball, although I’m still applying, I’m assuming outlook not so good here.

    My background is in ESL teaching (which I’d rather not do but am willing to go back to eventually because it doesn’t make me ill), but I’m not certified (and have no interest in getting certified) to do it in most places in the US (and would love to move overseas again). I’m planning to look for other jobs for awhile, and then, if I haven’t found anything by X date, I’m going to start applying for ESL jobs overseas.

    My question: how far away should X date be? I was thinking late June (I’m staying with family now and really don’t want to be here too long), but given how long hiring seems to take, is that really enough time? I’m in the DC area and will apply to many different types of jobs, but I’m most interested in working at some sort of education-focused or international development-focused nonprofit.

      1. katamia*

        It’s more that six months (because I’m assuming not much will get done during the holidays) doesn’t really feel like enough time/like I’m giving up too soon when it comes to getting a job I actually want. But at the same time, I don’t want to wait forever. So I guess you’re right, it is personal. I just wish I had a better way to tell how reasonable my expectations were regarding the time frame.

    1. hermit crab*

      I can’t answer your actual question, but — If you’re in the DC area, you might want to also consider jobs with for-profit government contractors in addition to just nonprofits. I know a bunch of people who work on USAID contracts at both for-profit and non-profit organizations, and they all do very similar things. From what I hear, international experience of nearly any kind is a plus when applying for those positions.

      1. katamia*

        Oh, interesting. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll take a look around and see what I can find there too–thanks. :)

  58. MarmaladeChainsaw*

    Hi guys,

    I submitted this question to Alison but I know she always has a lot to answer and I’m looking for some quicker advice. Here it is:

    I’m currently working at my first ‘real’ job after college. I’ve been here for almost eight months. When I first started here there were three people in my department: me, one coworker, and my manager. But in the time that I’ve been here, my manager was fired, and just last week they fired my coworker, leaving me the only person in my department. Both firings have been very stressful for me, as I’ve had to take on a lot of additional work, and my job duties have shifted to tasks I didn’t really go to school for and don’t enjoy.

    Besides that, I am very unhappy with my job in general: the higher ups are completely changing things for the worse (we got a new CEO shortly after I started), the communication is awful, making it extremely difficult to accomplish even the smallest of tasks, many people are very rude and nasty for no reason, and I am significantly younger than most everyone else, so I don’t quite feel like I belong.

    An old college classmate recently contacted me to ask if I would be interested in a new position that just opened at his company. I know I would most likely be much happier there, as the job would be doing what I went to school for, and according to my classmate (who loves his job), the company is much more relaxed, friendly, and open.

    My higher ups have said they will be looking to hire a new manager for my department at the beginning of the new year, and then eventually look at replacing my coworker. My question is: should I try to pursue the other job opportunity recommended by my classmate? Even though my company hasn’t given a second thought to burdening me with a lot of extra work or laying people off due to their own budget mistakes, I would still feel guilty leaving them with no one else in my department, as I know it could take them a while to find a replacement. Should I choose my own happiness and career goals even if it means leaving my current company in a tight spot?

    Thanks to anyone who reads my whole spiel and/or offers any advice!

    1. MarmaladeChainsaw*

      D’oh! I didn’t see Alison’s note not to repost recently submitted questions but I didn’t see that. My bad!

    2. Marketing Girl*

      Man, your current company environment sounds pretty sucky. And I can relate. Others may disagree with me, but I’ve been (and kinda still am) in a similar boat. (Bad environment & only person in my department now) I must say if you choose to stay it won’t get any easier for you – the trends of your workplace show it will probably get worse. I’ve stayed far too long in my dysfunctional work place and its gotten worse and I am miserable and looking hard now to get out. Don’t mean to project my current situation on to you, but I’d say look into the new position. The company culture shows who’s running the place and it isn’t good. :( Good luck!

    3. NJ Anon*

      Don’t feel guilty-it’s not your problem. Go for the new job. Things most likely won’t get any better where you are especially if you are not doing what you enjoy.

    4. Sasha Mulberry*

      Forget the guilt. You have to do what’s right for you. Sounds like a great possibility that just fell into your lap!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      They are not losing a minute of sleep worrying about the stress you have right now. Why worry about their stress? I say go for it.
      And if you still cannot shake off that guilty feeling, go for the new job in spite of the guilty feeling.

      Yes, just go for it. These people have shown you how they like to run their company. There does not seem to be any good, solid reason to believe they will change what they are doing. Time to move on.

  59. Anon for this*

    After 4 months of job hunting, I was offered a position outside the company and gladly accepted (the environment was no longer a good fit for me). On Wednesday night, I resigned from my job. Boss (President of Tea Pot Company) seemed to handle it okay. She asked some questions about fit of the position and such. I thought I had handled it well and diplomatically. Thursday morning, VP of Tea Pot Finances comes to my office. First thing out of his mouth, “So you’re not happy here?!”
    That reaction seems abnormal but I didn’t think too much of it. Later on, Manager of Tea Pot Analysis sends me an email congratulating me on the position (She and I never meshed well). She ended her email with the following phrase “I hope you are very happy there”.

    It just seems too coincidental to me. A couple of other managers have mentioned receiving an email from Boss about my announcement. I’m suspect that Boss sent an email to all other managers and may have mentioned that I was unhappy (I never said to Boss that I was unhappy at any point in time) and that is why I’m moving on.

    I don’t know if I should address this with Boss. Does it even matter? I’ll be moving on in a matter of weeks. It reeks of unprofessionalism.

    1. Dawn*

      Let it go. If there’s one thing that’s common here at AAM, it’s that bosses will have wildly different reactions when someone resigns. Some of them take it as the business transaction that it really is, while some take it *ridiculously personal*, which sounds like it’s the case here.

      Seriously, just let it go completely.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Comments about happiness are pretty generic. Most people would say something involving your happiness at the new place or being unhappy at the current place.
      Not sure what is unprofessional. People wish good luck or they wish people happiness at a new job. And people use “so you’re not happy here?” as a conversation opener. So I am not seeing anything unusual or worrisome here.

      Personally, I think people put a lot of stock in happiness and being happy. I tend to think that being content is the ultimate. But that could just be me.

  60. overeducated and underemployed*

    Good morning all! The job hunting saga has taken a positive but not ideal direction: I got offered a part time temp job while still waiting to hear on full-time prospects. It’s with someone I’ve worked for previously, who knows I’ve been hunting for something longer term, so I was honest about that. The other issue is that I thought it would be partially remote, but it sounds like it’s all on-site, and the commute by car is so long that I’m really not sure how we’d work out day care pickup at 5:30. Better than nothing, for sure, but not exactly what I’m hoping for.

    Also, I had the WEIRDEST interview for a full time job earlier this week. Like, the interviewer forgot to ask me any of the questions on her sheet, but she dd ask me if I was single and had kids (which I think was not a bad thing because it explained why someone with my background would be applying for an entry level position in another field – I need to be local – and she then went on to talk about how incredibly flexible her workplace is and how it’s great for families). Introducing me to the team, one other person also had a small child, and she asked me if I’d had a C-section – the question I was LEAST expecting in an interview ever!!! the hiring manager also said she liked me a lot but she had to interview other people to follow the process and then she’d get in touch, which is…not something you should say to candidates, because we get our hopes up. And my hopes ARE up. I feel ambivalent about the work itself, but I think it would open career doors in the long term, and it seems like a happy workplace. So cross your fingers for me, I guess.

    I know we’ve talked about this before, but any other weird interview stories to share?

    1. NJ Anon*

      Weirdest ever for me: My assistant and I were interviewing a guy (we are both women). During the interview he winked at us. We didn’t do anything at the time but as soon as he walked out we looked at each other and burst out laughing! Needless to say, he wasn’t offered the position! I mean, what the hell? He was not an older person either. It was really strange.

    2. Nanc*

      A random guy showed up, saying his friend couldn’t make the interview so he figured he’d come and see what the job was all about. The kicker: his friend had applied but hadn’t been offered an interview!

    3. Tilly W*

      My manager, Amy, and I were interviewing a candidate for a receptionist position. While discussing the role, the candidate mentioned she was in school studying mortuary science. She presented herself as a great candidate and the interview seemed to be going very well. While walking out, I asked her how she got interested in mortuary science. A question I would have asked any college student, regardless of field! The three of us had made a great connection and continued our conversation in the lobby, talking about restaurants, traffic etc. I had even told her that she could work on homework when the office was slow. We really liked her and were going to make an offer.

      So imagine my surprise when my manager and I were called into HR because the candidate had called them as soon as she got to her car stating it was the worst interview she had ever had and we attacked her and the whole experience was hostile etc. She stated we ridiculed her for her career choice and our company was terrible to have employees like us working there. Amy and I were in complete shock, I don’t think either of us had ever been called hostile or mean in our entire lives. Luckily HR was just as shocked as we were given our personalities and considered it a bullet dodged. It did become the joke around the office that if you weren’t sure about a candidate, to just send Amy and I… My mind is still blown to this day about that interview!

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        Whoa. That’s so bizarre. Think of how much worse it would have been if you had hired her and she’d taken offense like that to some random piece of conversation in the office though!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      They wanted to know my opinion on ghosts and dishes flying through the air. And let me know I would be required to go to seances.

      The place was so negative that it drained the energy out of me just to interview there.

  61. Emily*

    I may have really jacked myself up this week. Basically, I have a master’s degree in X and was hired to start the X program or area at my nonprofit, but not full time. My other duty is Y, which is insanely complicated admin not relevant to my degree. It’s been frustrating but I’ve made great progress on X so far.

    This Wednesday in a one on one my supervisor said there might be monies to hire an assistant in X to help me, and I said, why not let me do X full time and hire someone to do Y? My title has “assistant” in it so it seems ridiculous to me to hire an assistant for me–assistant to the assistant? Come on. We had a good frank talk about why that can’t happen now and my long term goals, which are to do X full time here or somewhere else, but that I’ll do everything I can to make it seem feasible in the next few years. I’m not going anywhere.

    The problem is that my supervisor who is supportive of these conversations and thrilled with my work is about to retire and her replacement is going to be terrible for me. He’s impatient, snaps, and is simultaneously not interested in managing me while sending me, even now, work every day. He’d not only not be receptive to me going X full time but insulted by the idea, even though my background makes it clear that that’s what I was hired to do. I’m concerned that with him at the helm, I will never get to come on full time at X even as I continue to do the equivalent of a full time job and a half. I’m also concerns that since he knows about my aspirations (my supervisor mentioned it to him as a kind of, hey, when I leave this might be a logical step to take) he’ll try to start phasing me out. I think I’m too valuable to be fired but he’s petty and dramatic and I’m just concerned. Help?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Tell your supervisor this. Ask her opinion. It sounds like you have that type of a relationship where you can ask her, so go ahead.
      And trust your gut, if your gut is saying there is a problem on the horizon then there might actually be a problem. Start now preparing for handling that problem.

  62. oldfashionedlovesong*

    I’ve shared before on AAM that I’ve been looking for a new job. The job I have currently pays well and is, title- and duties-wise, a big step in my career from my prior position, but the actual work environment is terrible– I am unhappy and stressed and really eager to move on. However, I just learned this week that my supervisor, who is one of the few bright spots in this awful place, is offering me the opportunity to supervise a research intern. In my field, becoming a mentor is a big step in one’s own career development. There’s almost no way to refuse the opportunity without raising some suspicion or red flags. But having accepted, I feel a responsibility to this student above and beyond what I feel to the other duties of my role. Basically, I feel like now I can’t possibly leave this job during the student’s internship period. Has anyone on AAM ever left a job while they were supervising an intern, or is this just not “a done thing”? Do you think it would destroy any hope of a good reference from my supervisor (who would end up having to take on the mentorship role if I left)?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not sure of the norms of your field, but if it’s time to leave, then it’s time to leave. I think that even if I did know the norms of the field you are in, I still would not know how your boss would react. He sounds like he is okay, so hopefully he will react in an understanding manner.

  63. Kay Vega*

    Anyone ever had success applying with the LinkedIn “Apply” button? Did you add a resume or just use your profile?

    1. MaryMary*

      I actually got my current job that way. I included a resume but no cover letter (it was before I started reading AAM regularly).

  64. Nervous Accountant*

    Hi all,

    First I wanted to say thanks for all the input and advice on last weeks thread…..I didnt’ get to respond to every comment but I read everything and appreciate it. But since that plan is still far off, I did want to get input on a current situation.

    Earlier this week I considered looking next spring. For a while I’ve been firm in my decision that I wanted to stay for at least a few more seasons. But I think this may have stemmed from a particularly rough couple of days at work bc I didn’t give it another thought this week. But I still wanted to post it here, I guess think out loud.

    I guess my question is, what can I expect when/if I start to look elsewhere? I’ve worked in mostly nonprofits for seasonal positions or small offices. My current office has 3 locations throughout the country with at least 30 employees in each office.

    The pros here:
    -I know the organization and the history. After 16 months, I’m finally getting comfortable and I feel like I’m growing.
    -This is a good environment for learning…. no one gets frustrated or rolls their eyes at answering questions and everyone is super helpful. I’ve learned so much more in my time working here than I ever did just by studying alone.
    -I’m no longer afraid of getting fired spontaneously as I’ve had this fear for years. I detest the thought of going through that 90 day period again and again and going through that learning curve.
    -Coworkers are generally nice..I know I’ve complained before BUT after reading stuff here and in my own past experience, these are generally decent people. I’ve worked with horrible people in the past and a bad/lonely day here is still better than what I’ve been through.

    Cons:
    -The pay is a little on the low end. It’s my personal highest having been min wage/temp, but still under market value.
    -I feel like its more call center work than actual work. I spend more time on phone calls and navigating the CRM than on bookkeeping or a tax return. We’re on the phone about 5 hours a day….we’ve been promised relief of the heavy appointments but it hasn’t happened yet.
    -Problem clients….I’ve actively worked w Mgmt but they’re still causing trouble.
    -Bad reviews of company…not sure if it looks bad on me to prospective employers?
    -Fear of finding myself working for a horrible employer..again (the one prior to this).
    -I’m just not sure I have the knowledge and enough experience to justify moving.

    Again, this isn’t an immediate thing, if I DID start looking it wouldn’t be until May.

    Thoughts? Comments?

    1. Haleth*

      I think just take a look and see what’s out there. It sounds like your current job isn’t too bad, so best case you find something amazing, worst case you stay in your current job a bit longer and build some more experience. Plus I think it’s easier to evaluate offers for the concerns you’ve mentioned above when you have a job that isn’t horrible as there isn’t as much pressure. And remember you can always say no to a job offer (I always have to remind myself about that) :)

  65. Teacup Assistant*

    Hello community! I have a question. I’ve been in talks with my manager to change my position from Teacup Assistant to Teacup Specialist. We’ve discussed it in October, and I’ve heard nothing since. However, recently I’ve seen my manager writing a position description for a Teacup Specialist, but I have no idea if she’s adding a new member on our team or if she’s changing my position.

    I want to ask, but she hasn’t mentioned it to me (or anyone else) yet. If you were my manger, would you mind me asking? Should I just be patient?

    Thank you guys!

    1. AnonAnalyst*

      I think it’s fine to ask about the your role. It’s completely reasonable that you would want to know where things stand since you’ve had discussions where it sounds like the change to your role was a possibility. My answer might be different if you had just discussed it last week, but it’s been awhile.

      A reasonable manager will expect that you want to understand what might happen with your role. If decisions haven’t yet been made about what will happen, she might not have any answers she can give you right now, but a reasonable person wouldn’t mind being asked the question. Good luck!

  66. Kyla*

    Anyone got any advice on how to deal with always getting the short end of the stick around the holiday season because you’re the one without children?

    I’m at the end of my rope with always ALWAYS being the one expected to sacrifice my holidays with family. Someone who has only worked with the company 4 months got a better deal than I did and I’ve worked here 4 years.

    1. GOG11*

      Can you plan things out earlier in the year and/or request time off earlier so others don’t beat you to asking for holidays off and you’re left covering by default? Or, if you can actually get holidays off and but then are asked to switch, say sorry but you’ve got plans you can’t break.

    2. Graciosa*

      I would have the discussion with your boss fairly frankly, and ask what you need to do in order to get a fair share of holiday time off – or, if you don’t think you can do that, I would be tempted to announce early and often that I had made non-refundable reservations (immediately after getting an early approval of the dates I wanted) so that I would not be asked to change them later.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yes, I would spell it out for your manager. “You are giving priority to employees with children. Can we make this seniority based?”
        But if it is that your co-workers are begging for your time, you just gotta tell them no. Make up excuses if you have to, but if you lay down the law, they will stop asking.

    3. Xarcady*

      I got some action on this at one workplace when I got a bit angry–not yelling or rude or anything, but I let my manager see that I was upset at being the only person to work both Dec. 24 and Dec. 26, two years in a row. (Other people were scheduled but they called in “sick.” Also pointed out that while I might not have children, I was someone’s child, and that someone really would like to see me over the holidays. Threw in a little sob story about how the three hour drive home, in the dark and snow that year convinced me that the dangers were not worth having less than 24 hours back home. That next year, my Christmas would be me and my cat and a can of tuna fish, if I couldn’t get any time off.

      It also didn’t hurt that I found out that three of the “children” were married and had kids of their own.

      Mind you, I got all of noon-5 pm on Dec. 24 off, but at least it was something.

      I would talk to your manager about this. And find out when the first possible date for putting in for time off is for next year, and request the time as soon as you can.

      And if you haven’t had any time off over the holidays for 4 years, that alone is argument enough that you deserve some. And if you get the “but they have children,” excuse, I’d say, “That’s nice for them. I don’t see how that affects my getting time off.” And let them stumble over having to explain why that should matter to *you*.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yes, honestly, this is what I would do, and I think their reaction will be pretty enlightening. They may work to try to make the holiday time off distribution more equal across all employees who want it, but they also may think there’s nothing wrong with your having worked over the holidays the last 4 years since you don’t have any children (because people without children have nothing to do over the holidays, apparently). At which point you’ll have to decide if that policy/attitude is something you’re willing to live with, or if it’s time to look elsewhere.

        Ugh, I’m so, so annoyed on your behalf! Good luck – I hope things work out better next year!

    4. Can't Think Of A More Clever Anon Name Today*

      Have you spoken up with your manager/boss about needing time in advance? Are you advocating for yourself or just taking what they give you?

    5. LCL*

      You need to have a talk with whoever decides these things. Boss, office manager, whoever. Ask these questions:
      What are the requirements for getting time off?
      How many people can be off during the holidays? During any other time of year?
      How do you decide between coworkers’ requests for the same time period?
      The answers to these questions will clarify where you need to go with this. I suspect there isn’t any formal policy, the person in charge just decides by the seat of their pants decision making.

  67. _ism_*

    How normal is it for a job advertisement to keep the hiring organization a secret? In other words, I run across a lot of ads that won’t say who they are and direct you to submit a resume to an anonymous PO box.

    For what it’s worth I see this a lot in my small, rural town where there aren’t a lot of opportunities. I don’t think it’s a scam, as the job ads are specific and the PO box is for the newspaper classifieds (I googled it).

    Why would a company do this? How on earth can I know what I’m applying to?

    1. danr*

      Try searching Google with the job ad language and and your town or county to the search. See what kind of hits you get. A possibility is that they are ads to prove to immigration that the companies need to import workers since no one has answered the ads.

      1. _ism_*

        I’ve searched but the job ad itself is so vague. Nothing about the company, the industry, and the job described is very standard with nothing that stands out to identify anything about the workplace at all. I highly doubt they’d be looking to import an immigrant for a $20k HR assistant position, though. There are plenty of people around here who can do that, but I am very worried it’s my old company hiring. (When I left, all the management and people with seniority were approaching retirement age and a lot of restructuring was being talked about, but they have terrible turnover with younger employees. The company’s not doing well.)

    2. HR Diva*

      They are called blind ads and companies run them for various reasons, very often because they have a bad rep as an employer and don’t get applicants when their name is shown. I once had a crazy boss that ran blind ads to see if any of his current employees would apply so he would know if they were looking for a new job.

      1. _ism_*

        That’s crazy. I really don’t want to end up applying for the job I just quit, at one of this town’s major employers. There aren’t many.

        My google-fu is strong but the particular ad I saw this week is not coming up in anything I try to google. Nobody around here believes in the internet in the first place. LOL.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        They also do it so they don’t get umpteen phone calls.

        I rarely apply to blind ads, but I got so desperate toward the end of UI last time I had to. One of them turned out to be a place I’d worked before and had been fired from, which I didn’t find out until the HR person called me. It was literally right there on the second page of my resume, which she didn’t get to, I guess!

  68. GOG11*

    Would it be weird to send a generic (non-religious) holiday card to various offices where I work as a “thanks for all you’ve done this year” type thing? I’m an Admin Assistant and work maintenance, accounting/business depts, etc., and I don’t see them much but I work with them a lot and they do a lot to keep things running smoothly for the departments I support. I don’t want to be awkward or look as though I’m sucking up. On the one hand, they’re just doing their jobs (so maybe it’s weird, as a peer, to say thanks for them doing what they’re supposed to), but on the other, I genuinely do appreciate the things they do. Life would be a lot harder without their efforts and they do a great job!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. We always got tons of cards from vendors at Exjob–I hung them up on ribbons by the door. I’d be pretty chuffed if someone sent me a card thanking me for my work. :)

    2. hermit crab*

      I don’t think it would be weird, especially if you include something specific about how much you appreciate what they do. It’s like the remote version of someone bringing in holiday cookies to thank their in-person coworkers.

  69. Denise*

    I’m in a new role with a supervisor who is more of an administrator than leader. He is not therwise very nice and organized. The position is new and is stretching the organization in a number of ways. I need him to be more active in planning goals, setting expectations among departments and generally providing the infrastructure for this position to work. He also said they don’t want me managing things. So I’m at a loss of how to make this work better. Ideas?

    1. Graciosa*

      If he is your supervisor, you need to think about two things.

      First, assume he is not going to change. Do you still want the job? If not, start planning your exit.

      Second, you can certainly ask for things you need in order to do your job as *he* sees it. If you need to know whether to work on Project A or B first, ask.

      But if you just think things would run so much more smoothly if he would provide a strategic plan for the year, a list of priorities, and a roles-and-responsibilities document to clarify the relationships among departments, you need to let it go. He gets to decide how to manage. He doesn’t have to do it the way you think would be best, and pushing the issue is not a winning strategy.

      Candidly, the way you make this work better is to align your priorities to his – or to find a different boss with priorities closer to the ones you prefer.

  70. super anon*

    one more quick question – those of you on salary, how does taking time off during the day for medical appointments work? at my current job i was just told that i have to make up any hours i take off. is this normal? i thought the whole point of being salary was flexibility, especially if part of your benefits is a PTO/Sick Time bank? I had assumed time off for appointments generally come from that bank, and I have hours left, so I don’t understand having to “make up the time”. I remember doing that as an hourly employee, so it seems weird that now I’m in a professional job I can’t just pull from PTO to cover the few appointments I have. Apparently I can take an entire sick day, but I don’t want to do that for days when I have to leave an hour earlier than normal to get to the dentist or whatever.

    Help – is this normal, or just another sign of my completely dysfunctional workplace?

    1. Nutella Fitzgerald*

      In my experience, I’ve had to make up the work that doesn’t get done when I’m using PTO, not necessarily the time in the office.

    2. Kyrielle*

      It’s going to vary from company to company. Some will tell you to just take the time as long as it’s not super-frequent, and not make it up. Some will tell you to make it up because they view “full time” as “40 hours every week”. Some treat exempt as “we can work them extra, because we don’t have to pay overtime” – they might actually say “don’t worry about it” but only because they assume/expect you’re putting in 60+ hours every week anyway. Some treat it as “if you get your tasks done then that’s what matters, regardless of hours”.

      (I’ve lived through the first two, only heard about the second two – the problem in software development is that there’s *always* another task, and estimates can be made more accurate but not perfectly reasonably accurate, so did it take two weeks because it was a two-week task or because you were slow on it?)

    3. Not Karen*

      Sounds pretty normal. At my current company you either have to make up the time within the two-week pay period or take PTO, but you can only take PTO for at least 4 hours (not that you have to take 4 hours off at a time – it can be 4 hours over the course of two weeks). At the same time they say that if in one pay period you only have 79 hours logged instead of 80, they’re not going to worry about it.

      At LastJob, it was similar, though they were more strict about getting at least 40 hours in every week, and PTO had to be applied in either 4 or 8 hour blocks.

      I do agree that it’s ridiculous considering that as exempt employees it shouldn’t matter how many hours we work so long as we get the work done.

      1. super anon*

        I think I should have added that I travel for work a lot, and I also plan and execute events, which are often 12 hour days. I feel like the extra time I put in travelling & doing events should negate the few hours I’ve taken off for medical appointments, but I guess not?

        1. Not Karen*

          I totally agree with you. Unfortunately companies are really selfish about hours. :/ At LastJob, there was a strange rule where if we worked regular work on the weekends, we could count that towards our 40 hours, but attending a conference session on the weekend didn’t count as work hours.

        2. Ihmmy*

          am Canadian, have always been asked to note the time somehow. Last job we tracked OT as a bankable unit for leaving early days, appointments, etc. because there were a coup