open thread – December 18, 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 :)

{ 1,052 comments… read them below }

  1. Azul

    Happy Friday, ya’ll!

    Yesterday’s burnout story got me thinking a lot about my own situation. Only recently have I begun to forget things and feel really bummed out, but I think I have been experiencing this for some time now and ignoring it for as long as I have has probably only made things worse. I can certainly commiserate with the OP (and many of the commenters) because so much relies solely on me to complete a crapload of stuff in only part-time hours, and unfortunately my boss happens to be a HUGE part of the problem so no help there. Vacations are few and far in-between. I am trying to transition out of my role within the next month, but I would love to hear what others have to say about interviewing while at a job that completely drains you. Whenever I interview, I have to schedule them either in the morning or after work, which has turned out to be really problematic since each day at work is an emotional living hell and I’m trying to keep job hunting a secret. My main issue is that in the past few months that I have been seriously job hunting (I would say since the summer), I have had many interviews but no offers. I can get in the door with my cover letter and resume (thanks Alison!) but I think that my poker face is poor and regardless of how much I smile, I am not convincing employers of my happiness. Of course I know that there are many other factors that are in play outside of my own actions (like I can have a great interview but maybe I am just not what they are looking for), but if I had to self-reflect, I would not be surprised if a sort of melancholy permeated my interviews, although I am not at all aware that I am behaving that way. But over the last couple of months, everyone from family to friends to my boyfriend has commented on my sudden sadness, so it can’t be impossible. I guess now I really am worried because last week I had an interview and it was the first where I felt totally distracted because ToxicJob was at the forefront of my mind. It always seems like they can sense it—cue horrible argument or new procedure that underlines the chaos of this office RIGHT before I have an interview.

    So my question is, apart from flat out leaving my job so that my mental health situation can improve, what have you guys done in order to mentally block out crap during interviews?

    1. Dawn

      Well, one thing that might be sabotaging you is the feeling of desperation that you really really really want this one particular job that you’re interviewing for to save you from your current horrible situation, which if it was coming out in an interview could definitely be a turn-off.

      That’s not an easy thing to shut down, however, so it will be difficult to keep a poker face while in the back of your mind there’s this voice going “SAVE ME! SAVE ME! OH GOD SAVE ME FROM MY HORRIBLE FATE I WILL DO ANYTHING YOU ASK, ANYTHING AT ALLLLLL!!!”

      Maybe, before you go in to interview, you could write down all the negative crap that you’re thinking about your current job/ all the desperate feelings you have about wanting THIS to be the one job that saves you from your fate so you can just get it all out before the interview. Spending 15 minutes to get all those feelings out might help a lot to keep them from building up in the back of your mind during the interview.

      And hey, you’re getting interviews which means that you’re doing really well and have a set of skills that employers are interested in! That’s awesome! Obviously frustrating that you have not found the right job yet, however getting interviews is GREAT and you deserve major high-fives for that!

      1. Azul

        Thanks for all of your encouragement! I’m a lurker here most of the time but I’ve repeatedly noticed that you always have amazing, positive things to say. Most of the time I do feel like I am interviewing consistently and I’m definitely grateful for that but I think the other part of my growing anxiety is the (perceived or real, I don’t know) notion that since I AM going on so many interviews yet not getting anything, something is wrong with me! I kind of attribute that to being the most successful person out of my peer group right now (though most days it doesn’t feel that way at all!) and the looming pressure of not living up to certain expectations. Ugh.

        1. Dawn

          Baw, thank you :)

          “Something is wrong with me”= 100% not true. In fact, something is *very right* with you- these positions are definitely getting hundreds of resumes sent in, so out of that initial pool of 300 resumes you’re getting sorted out into the final 3 or 4 or 5! That’s a HUGE DEAL! No, turns out that those jobs weren’t a perfect fit (and you definitely don’t want to go somewhere that’s not a perfect fit), however YOU GOT IN THE FINAL ROUND! You have so very many things RIGHT with you to get to the final round, for reals.

          “looming pressure of not living up to certain expectations”= pfffffft F that noise. Set your own expectations and live up to them. Adopt the mantra of “If you’re not feeding me or financing me then mind your own business!”

          Remember what someone said a few weeks back (paraphrasing): “It doesn’t matter how many rejections you get, because it only takes ONE job to say yes!”

        2. Ruffingit

          I understand where you’re coming from as I recently left a stint at Fukishima myself. Toxic jobs absolutely drain you to the point where all you can do is go home and go to bed only to get up and do it all again. I found my memory went on a tobogan ride down Lombard Street and my ability to articulate was nowhere to be found. I was exhausted constantly.

          Things that helped me:
          Medication for anxiety. It’s not for everyone, but it was very, very helpful to me in handling the day to day crap at that job.

          Realizing I wasn’t going to be at that job forever, that there was a way out even if I didn’t know what it was yet.

          Considering all of my options. It helped a lot to realize that if I really, really needed to, I could quit and my husband and I would work it out in terms of what to do about income.

          You’re going through a really rough time. Consider taking some vacation time if you have any and if not, call in sick on a Friday and give yourself three days to sleep, take a hot bath, and relax as much as possible. Be kind to yourself. This is not easy stuff.

    2. misspiggy

      You could try asking for some feedback from your interviewers, to find out how you came across? Or do some mock interviews with friends? My only trick with interviews is to convince myself that I really don’t care about this particular job, that something much better is around the corner, but I just want to see if I can get them to offer me this one (even though I wouldn’t take it, oh no…)

    3. AnonNewbie

      I’ve been seriously interviewing to get out of a ToxicJob since the summer too, and have been going on interviews (second and third round) and no offers yet either. I also had some personal life stresses that were contributing to similar “sudden sadness” issues, so I was moved to reply to you.

      Honestly what has been helping me is therapy as a place to talk through my frustrations, and Alison’s advice to remember that a job interview is for both of you to determine whether it’s a good fit. With therapy I can work through the negative feelings and being stuck, and with my awesome cover letters and resume I can remind myself to be confident in what I’ve learned at ToxicJob and what I’d contribute to a functional workplace. Also this is all really hard and just remembering that helps.

      Another thing that’s helped me is to really do the minimum at work and focus that energy on job hunting. Argument at work? New procedure? Someone’s hair on fire? Do the minimum to extract yourself from the situation and get yourself out of there. Very soon, this is not going to be your problem to fix anymore.

      Finally, if you have sick/personal leave at all, use it just to get your head on straight. Mental health days are a real need.

      Good luck!

      1. Ruffingit

        Another thing that’s helped me is to really do the minimum at work and focus that energy on job hunting. Argument at work? New procedure? Someone’s hair on fire? Do the minimum to extract yourself from the situation and get yourself out of there. Very soon, this is not going to be your problem to fix anymore.

        This is so very important. Doing the minimum required to handle your job so you can shore up your mental health is absolutely a must. This doesn’t mean you stop making an effort, it just means you don’t treat the issues that pop up like they are horrors and you don’t go out of your way to deal with other people’s issues. In other words, detachment.

    4. CrazyCatLady

      I’m SO sorry you’re feeling this way and I hope other people have some good advice. Your situation sounds exactly like mine! I also get a decent amount of interviews (I’ve had 5 since September, with 1 declined offer) but I have such a hard time because I feel so drained by the time I’m done with work. It’s hard to schedule them for before work, too. I feel so depressed lately because I’m so burnt out and miserable at my job. While I don’t think I come across as depressed in interviews, I’m just too exhausted to think about their questions critically and definitely don’t feel like I convey my skills well.

      1. Azul

        I totally felt this way at the last interview I had. I think that was when I really started thinking about how I’ve been feeling the last few months and began to look it up. I’ve never thought about burnout and whether or not I could say that I’ve experienced it before that interview, but I had to be realistic with myself about the performance I gave and it was just not up to par, even though I was fully prepared for it. Sigh, good luck to you! We’ll get through this.

    5. jen

      Keep your head up!! I was in the same boat. I started looking last year in December and basically killed all my PTO this year on interviews and mental health days. I thought I had it in the bag so many times. I interviewed FOUR TIMES for one job and didn’t get it. But something finally clicked and I put in a 4 week notice earlier this month. New Years Eve is my last day and I start at a new firm on January 11.

      I do think that my story about why I wanted to leave was hurting me in the beginning. It took me a while to sort it all out and get the story straight for myself. I ended up finding a really good way to spin it where I could describe my job as a bad fit that is no one’s fault (I was a senior project manager and on a slow track to become a partner at a very small design firm and I decided that I don’t want the additional heart/headache of being a small business owner; I want something more corporate). I even said in my interview, ‘I’m not desperate to leave but I want something that is a better fit.” The size of that lie varies depending on the day but it seemed to really get everyone’s attention. It came up again a few times in subsequent interviews (three interviews for this one; I was really beginning to question myself).

      1. Azul

        Did you put in your notice before you secured the new job? I’m just curious, because finances are my main worry.

        Most of the positions that I have applied for have been a step up, so I’ve been using that in my spiel for the most part. However, I can probably take some time to think about whether or not I’m coming across as desperate.

        1. jen

          No. Sorry, the way I wrote that is confusing. I got the job and gave notice. 4 weeks is standard in my firm. I squeezed in another week for mental health.

        2. jen

          Also, I have found that the ‘more money’ argument hasn’t worked for me. Maybe it is coming from me or my perception of the situation, but I feel like I come across as a money grubbing bitch who doesn’t care about the work. and i also think it makes me seem like I’ll skip out to a competitor for the next pay bump.

          Maybe use the ‘potential for advancement’ angle? I got a few really good sentences worked out. ‘we do great work. only advancement options are buying in and becoming a partner. i have goals and ambitions but being a small business owner is not for me…’ then i tell a kind of funny story about the week the air conditioning broke and what a headache it was for the boss and how he still billed 40 hours to clients that week.

          1. Azul

            Ahhh, thanks for clearing that up. I do hear you on the ‘not desperate to leave’ lie. I was a finalist for a position a month or so ago that was a HUGE step up and was checking off every box. Somehow I found a way to seem totally blase about everything even though inside I was like “HIRE MEEEEE!” Definitely one of the best interviews I’ve ever had and they’d expressed that it had been really, really close between me and the finalist. I just need to re-adopt that mentality somehow, someway!

    6. Not So NewReader

      For me it wasn’t what I did in the interview to cover my attitude. When I was sitting in the interview was too late to be examining what to do to build myself up for the interview. I could not do it on the fly like that.

      It seems that when the chips are down that is when we have to work the hardest. And sometimes the biggest battles are inside our own heads. One side of our thinking replays the tapes of the obnoxious boss/coworker and the other side of our head says, “keep applying for jobs, keep going”. This internal conflict gets exhausting.

      This is also a very strong, powerful thing, so that means that no one thing will go up against the internal war effectively. It will take several or more things to help pull us over the hurdle. I ended up looking at my life.

      1) Look for ways to reframe. After suffering a verbal barrage, I would tell myself “Gosh, I am the strongest person I know. Not many people would be able to continue their workday after that hot mess.” Okay I lied to me, I am not the strongest person I know, I just told myself that to push myself along.
      I did this for a bit and I started thinking about mental muscles and strength training for the muscles of the mind. People will sharpen us if we let them. Ask any parent, their kid has made them sharper because the endless ways the kid defeats what the parent is trying to do. Decide to let these people sharpen you. While it is true, that you will not be able to “allow them to sharpen you” every day, you will find on some days they actually do sharpen you. Work on reframing.

      2) Understand that this level of stress depletes our bodies of vitamins and minerals at a very fast pace more so than our usual rate. Losing those vitamins and minerals will cause our thinking to tank. Brain food. Make a deliberate effort to put foods into you that will support your body so it can function. I like things like Smart Water and I love Voss water, I am also a big fan of chicken or eggs when I know I will be having a rough day. I am also a fan of fresh salads for helping with stress levels. If you are interested in homeopathic remedies, you might be able to find something that begins to dial back your stress level. Sometimes even coming down one or two notches can be a bit of a relief. These things became my go-tos when I had an interview coming up. On the days before the interview I would make sure I was on track with these activities that I knew helped me.

      3) Create no fly zones. I had a no fly zone an hour before I went to bed. I would not allow myself to think or talk about work. I used that time to figure out what I could do to help myself. My new habit of no fly zones helped with interviews because I had practice at clearing my head. When it came “show time” (the interview), I was familiar with clearing out my head more so than if I had not had all these “practice” sessions.

      4) This one is tough. I came to believe that crap just falls down from the sky most of the time and if I wanted something decent to happen to me I had to PLAN it. Ugh. Really? Right now? When I am feeling the most beat up? REALLY? Plan something decent for yourself each week. Keep it simple, keep it doable. Go for an evening walk with a friend/neighbor/dog. Pick out a good movie to watch on the weekend. Let the housework go and just decide to take a nap. The key here is to pick something that tends to be restorative, it builds you up in some small way. I took to reading self-help books or brain candy books (feel good stories). I found that I could mix this in with interviewing, by promising myself something decent to look forward to as a reward for concentrating on the interview. If I was sitting in an office waiting for my interviewer I would catch myself thinking “oh good, I have that great book that I really like. I can go home and read some more of that, when I am done here.” Yeah, it can ease your mind and it can change how you come across.

      These are the things I chose because they resonated with me. Look around and see what would make sense for your setting. Keep it reasonable, keep it within your means so that you actually do it. One last thought, any time we use a big picture focus to examine how we process life, we diminish the idiots that seem to be causing havoc in our lives. It stops being about Them and becomes more about our own selves. I have long since lost the idiots out of my life, but I have kept the coping habits I had to develop for myself.

  2. Dawn

    How has everyone’s work Holiday Party been? If you haven’t had it yet, how are you expecting it to be?

    I LOVE hearing about everyone’s different parties- they’re all so unique! My work party was a nice lunch at a restaurant, paid for by the company with a three-course meal plus beer/wine and then karaoke! Which was both hilarious and horrible because I was made to sing, twice. I *told them* that they didn’t want to hear me sing, but they insisted- I think I did a bad enough job that I’ll never get asked again :)

    SO’s company holiday party is tonight at a swanky hotel (his company is way bigger than mine). I’m not especially looking forward to it (it’s the company I was laid off from two years ago and all my friends there have moved on) but hey, free food and drinks and an excuse to dress up and meet his work friends. I’ve already reserved the right to leave early in a taxi if I get bored.

    1. Cat

      Our is always apps and drinks in the office. Both families and people who used to work but have left are invited, which I like because it’s a chance to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while rather than the people you see every day. Makes it feel like it has more of a purpose.

    2. Elizabeth West

      We had a luncheon, but I just loaded a plate and ate at my desk. There weren’t any activities, just food. Mostly potluck. Someone made really good stuffing with sausage. :)

      1. Nom d' Pixel

        Pretty much the same here. We had a potluck lunch earlier this week, then a catered lunch today. That was the extent of our celebrating.

    3. AdAgencyChick

      Friday-night party at a local performance venue (like where a rock band with a small following would perform). I can’t believe TPTB sprung for a Friday night — I’ve never been to a corporate party that wasn’t on a cheaper night of the week.

      The food sucked and the drinks were ample, which is stereotypically ad industry. I bailed around 10:30, I heard it was a huge drunkfest for at least an hour after that, and then there was an afterparty. NO THANKS.

    4. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      Good (and delicious!) but there’s always a game component that seems really awkward. Even though there’s no mandatory participation you still end up having to watch the awkwardness. Maybe I’m misreading everyone in the room, but I’d much prefer the chance to eat and socialize with the coworkers I don’t get to see often, I don’t need activities.

    5. PX

      My team always does a dinner one evening after work (company paid). Some years spouses can join, others not (budget dependent), but its usually a nice low key affair and doesn’t go on for too long :)

    6. Ad Girl

      Ours was last Friday at a local brewery in town – it was a ton of fun. The brewery had great food and we got to take home a growler of a beer they had brewed specifically for our party, which was definitely a hit as a party favor!

    7. Kai

      We had a nice afternoon reception with a bar, some staff awards, and a raffle. It’s the same every year and always very nice, but they closed down the food and bar during the hour-long awards part. I don’t want to really complain about that, since as work parties go it’s otherwise the most painless work party you could ever attend. But c’mon!

    8. Ama

      Mine was pretty great this year — I wound up at kind of an odd table away from the rest of my department because I didn’t claim a chair during the cocktail hour, so it was me and another coworker I don’t work closely with, plus a field employee and a brand new employee in her first week. At first I was kind of not sure what we were going to talk about, but between getting to know the new employee and just general conversation we ended up having a great time. Plus I got wine glasses in the Yankee Swap, which is the best result I’ve ever had (our office Yankee Swap is generally pretty good, but I am an expert in winding up with presents I have no use for that I can’t get people to steal from me, so ending up with something I wanted for once was awesome).

    9. HeyNonnyNonny

      Since we’re a government agency, ours is just a potluck. Our department takes it very seriously, so we had loads of delicious food and got to feel smug about having the most popular dishes.

    10. Coffee Ninja

      If I was made to sing I would quit (your party sounds like it was really nice, otherwise!)

      Ours is next week, and it’s a dinner event at a local restaurant. No frills but it’s usually nice. I want to go but it starts 3 hours after our work day ends and I live ~45 minutes away, so going home is out, and there’s nowhere in the area for me to do errands or anything. My vacation starts the next day so I’m sure as hell not staying at work. I might ask my boss if I can shift my work hours that day so I don’t have so much free time.

    11. Anie

      Mine was yesterday. We booked a room at an event company and get a catered lunch. Chinese food this year, lol. There was a yankee swap and an ugly sweater contest.

      Umm, I WON THE UGLY SWEATER CONTEST. I feel a little bad about it. First place was a $35 visa and the only reason it wasn’t a tie between 1st and 2ed was because the 2ed place person voted for me. Yeah, I totally voted for myself.

      Honestly, I had a ton of fun. Last year, the room we booked had small standing tables so you were forced to walk around and mingle. This year was just one giant table and everyone sat with people they liked for an hour or two. I didn’t have to find something to say to the very upper management, which I hear others didn’t like. The COO tells me we’ll go back to the forced mingling next year.

      We had a lot of turnover this past summer, but in the end, it’s been for the best. Our group is really great now and everyone seems to have had a blast yesterday. Last year there was so much tension and grumpy muttering….

    12. Scotty_Smalls

      Ours was at a Italian restaurant/bar in the Hipster part of town. It was good food, but nothing remarkable. Mostly it was good to see people as we all basically work by ourselves and only come together for trainings lol.

    13. Spooky

      We had a forced dance-off, one team at a time. People who aren’t on a team had to dance by themselves in front of everyone. I hid in the stairwell. Awful.

      Oh, and the “prize” was a fur coat, which I’m sure sat SO well with the vegetarians/animal rights advocates among us.

        1. Spooky

          I’m not sure, but I assume woman. I work for a beauty PR firm in NYC (think Devil Wears Prada) and out of more than 60 employees, only three are male.

      1. Audiophile

        That is a wonderful way to ostracize everyone. “And here’s the grand prize! Oh, um, David you probably don’t want this, but congrats on winning the dance off!”

          1. Windchime

            I have to have at least a little alcohol in me to even consider dancing in front of people. Probably because I also dance like Elaine Benes.

      2. Thinking out loud

        I am having such a bad day, but this went a long way towards making it better. (I mean, I’m sorry, that sounds awful.)

      3. Not So NewReader

        Oh, this one requires the old dodge ball strategy. I made sure I got hit early on so I sat it out for most of gym period.
        If someone is going to make me dance, I promise I will do my absolute worst and then go sit down.

        (Yeah, I did not always make the best decisions sometimes.)

    14. Nanc

      We’re a small team here at the home office. The boss takes us to a nice lunch and gives us a card with a lovely note and lots of cash. He calls it our Christmas lunch even though we’re three atheists, two buddhists and one Jew (can I say Jew, or should it be Hebrew?). And yes, we walked into a bar for the lunch!

    15. Lillian McGee

      Our is today! We have 3 cases of beer leftover that were donated for our fundraiser and we’re ordering pizza. Potluck desserts/sides. We also are doing a thieves Xmas/white elephant exchange which is always a riot. I am wearing my horrible Merry Catmas sweatshirt. Can’t wait!

    16. em2mb

      We do ours in January, which I thought was really weird when I started last year, but then it rolled around and I really liked it. There’s not much planned for January. You don’t feel like you’re squeezing it in between all your personal commitments. It’s always at someone’s house – sometimes it’s a more senior person, but this year it’s actually a part-time contributor who happens to have a large, lovely home perfect for entertaining. We have a catered meal from a nice restaurant, and everyone brings what they like to drink, usually beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks. It’s always on a Saturday night, and families are welcome.

      This year many of us are planning to go out after. I’ve heard whispers of karaoke, which is both horrifying but funny. It’s the same people I got to happy hour with once every month or so, so it’ll be a good time. No one gets too crazy at these things and it’s always a lot of fun.

      1. Ad Astra

        I could get behind this. It’s especially good for offices with a diverse group of employees who may not celebrate Christmas. I know most companies call them “holiday parties,” but they still tend to be pretty Christmas-y in my experience. Secular, maybe, but still Christmas-y.

        1. em2mb

          It’s a newsroom that I would guess is maybe two-thirds Christian (culturally, at least), a quarter Jewish, with a handful of avowed atheists. I was about to say that we don’t have anyone that’s super religious in the office, then I remembered that in his day job, the guy who’s hosting this year is *actually* a minister. Hah! So yeah, we get Christmas goodies in the breakroom around this time of year, but people’s religious lives really don’t come up in the office.

    17. Hlyssande

      Mine’s today and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a low-key catered lunch with a few words from the division president and drawings for very nice prizes. Regardless of prize-winning, everyone gets a $20 target card on the way out.

      And I’m off for the next two weeks. :D

    18. Lore

      We have two–the big one for the entire company is an enormous cocktail party for more than 2000 people at a hotel in midtown. Drinks including themed cocktails, finger food (but heavy-ish finger food, sometimes better than others); a DJ that is always kind of lame; and a party theme more ignored than followed. There is an after-party but I rarely stick around for it. The best thing about it is running into colleagues who now work at the other location, but it’s really just too massive to mingle effectively, to get a table most of the time, or to chat in depth with anyone. I find I spend most of my time traversing the ballroom back and forth looking for people.

      Then our division does a lunch that’s usually catered by a restaurant whose cookbook we’ve published, or will be publishing. Sometimes this is more successful than others–one year it was artisan pizza that was so artisanal that they brought in a gas-fired portable oven that only held three personal-size pizzas at once, so you had to wait on line for twenty minutes to get a wee slice (even just my division is about 200 people). But there’s always candy and drinks and we usually get the afternoon off afterward (perhaps because of the drinks). That one is today and they’re migrating our database beginning at noon, which I’m taking as a good sign that we will in fact be sent home!

    19. A is for A

      We had ours this past Tuesday. It’s a luncheon at work. They had everything from an app station, to a salad bar, pasta station, carving station, and dessert bar. It was fantastic!

      Tonight I am going with my sister to her work party. I am really looking forward to it. It’s hosted at a hall, with a buffet dinner, open bar, and DJ until 11PM. I don’t like drinking around my co-workers, but I’m totally okay with drinking around hers. Normally we’re the two most conservative people there (as far as behavior and dress goes). Last year, I wore a black sweater dress that comes down a few inches above the knee. I was the most covered-up woman in the group. Everyone else looked like they were straight out of Jersey Shore (including the executive director). If it were my company, I would be mortified. However, as an outsider, it’s so much fun.

      1. Fantasma

        My department didn’t have one this year, but I went with a friend to his department’s party. They rented a local natural history center for a cocktail party (small plates, alcohol and a cover band). It was fun to dress up and be festive (in a totally work-appropriate way). :)

    20. ACA

      I crashed (well, sort of; I was unofficially invited) to my old department’s party on Monday, and it was great – everyone was really glad to see me. Except my former boss, who managed to ignore my existence entirely; it was like he had selective blindness every time he happened to look in my direction. Since I didn’t really want to talk with him anyway, it worked out, but it was bizarre. He also tried to have a formal one-on-one meeting with my replacement during the party, which my old overboss thankfully put a stop to immediately.

      It was great to see everyone, but every time I go back (my role in my new department interacts with them semi-regularly), it just enforces how glad I am to be gone.

    21. NoName McGilicutty

      Mine was hysterical in an awful way (which is why I’m leaving my name off for this). First, we ran out of food before probably 50 people got to eat (including our VP!). Then we played some kind of group version of Rock, Paper, Scissors, which involved everyone (around 300 people) holding their rock (fist), paper (flat hand), or scissors (2 fingers) over their head. …Think about that image for a second. Anyone who would have walked into the room wouldn’t have been able to tell if it was a peace rally, a Black Panthers meeting, or a white supremacist rally.

        1. College Career Counselor

          Those doing “Paper” will look a bit like Nazis saluting Hitler with an outstretched arm and flat palm..

        2. NoName McGilicutty

          Yeah, as others clarified, most of the people who played “paper” ended up holding their arms up at an angle (including the director on stage running the game) so there are a bunch of cellphone pictures floating around now of 1/3 of our department and a guy on stage looking like they’re giving a Nazi salute.

    22. Ihmmy

      we have 3 this year >.<
      Our team / department went out for supper together, but we had to pay for our own meals and the service was lousy. It was nice to chat with coworkers in a more relaxed setting though (even if there was a gift to the boss)
      Social committee organized a potluck and a white elephant (but opt-in) gifting. The potluck food was very very good and we took a bit longer than our normal lunch which was nice. Watching the gifts get thieved was entertaining too!
      We have an xmas eve lunch coming up still, which the organization pays for and then we normally shut down a bit early as well which is lovely.

      plus I went as a plus 1 to another xmas thing earlier, which was fun (some awards and business talks but not overly speechy) and pretty darned good food too.

    23. Noah

      Full Time Job – Pretty normal party I guess. It was held in the evening at a nice hotel. Clients were also invited. Fun but also definitely a work event. Had to dress up and play nice. We will also have a catered lunch next week that is employees only and during the workday.

      Part Time Job – At an employee’s home. They volunteered to host and had a bonfire and hot tub. Very fun time, lots of drinking and laughs. Employees only. Some people probably had a bit too much to drink but no one held it against them. Much preferred this one, but can see how it would also make some people feel uncomfortable.

    24. Gwen

      Our party is this afternoon! The office is closing at noon, and we’re going to a local ping pong bar…there’s generally a lunch provided and 2 drink tickets, plus ping pong!

    25. No free drinks

      Ugh, ours always ends up being fun but poorly planned. The worst piece of it is that my boss will want to get everyone together for drinks but not want to pay for it but also not want to tell people that they have to pay for their own. I always end up stressed out about newer people not knowing that it’s pay your own and my boss doesn’t see why he has to make things more clear. He will buy people drinks if he is chatting with them but he won’t just leave the tab open. It always turns out fine but there’s always at least one person who asks if there is a tab. Which is awkward for everyone involved, including the bartender. Oh well. Here’s hoping by next year I have a new job and don’t have to deal with this particular issue!

    26. Algae

      Ours was nice. A local bar shuts down for the afternoon and we all troop over there for an open bar, lunch (they had a nacho bar, salad bar, and kebab bar this year, plus desserts) and there’s door prizes. I won 8 hours of PTO, which was promptly used the following week when my son was sick.

      My husband works for a large company, so the cafeteria did a free lunch thing one day and then, on Saturday, we all head down to the zoo for a family party with cookies, hot chocolate and the kids get to see Santa and get a gift. We also get free admission to the Zoo, the Lights, and a couple of the rides (they had an ice slide!). It’s pretty awesome. I don’t know who picks out the gifts; they’re always age-appropriate board games we’ve never heard of that end up being completely awesome. Plus, since we have to be there at 3:00 for the party, we avoid the 45 minute wait to get into the parking lot to see the lights, only to find out the parking lot is closed and you need to go to the overflow lot a mile away.

    27. matcha123

      We don’t have “Holiday Parties” but “bonenkai,” which are end-of-the-year parties. I enjoyed last year’s party and I’m looking forward to this year’s party.
      Last year some of us were asked to sing Christmasy songs with a karaoke machine. I know a lot of people hate it, but I really liked it!
      Partner’s a never invited to these kinds of work parties, so I’m always interested to read about that here.

      1. Jules the First

        Ours is tonight – beer by the pitcher and cheap pizza at a local electronica DJ club, themed on a Mexican barrio. The tagline on the invite ‘wear your tacky Christmas sweaters!’

        Since I don’t drink beer, can’t eat pizza, and despise evenings spent in gimmicky bars, I’m coming down with a migraine as we speak….

        Of the other teams in the office, team 1 had a fancy sit-down dinner when they were in Moscow for a team-building weekend a month ago, team 2 went crazy golfing, and team 3 had a posh do at a nice bar with passed canapes and free champagne.

    28. Mindy

      Our general business has an offsite dinner party. My immediate department has food ordered in and my larger immediate area has a potluck. Call me Grinch but I HATE these last two parties. The dates and times are always determined by other people and then the making it happen falls to me. Why? Because I am a dietitian, so I guess that makes everything food related my job. I particularly hate the potlucks. I have to set-up and clean up. Make sure there are plates, serving utensils, ice and beverages. I also have to track down everyones food for set up and to heat if needed. This year some one brought dry rice in a rice cooker, left it on the counter and then was upset that I didn’t make sure it was cooked on time. At least half of the people who participate don’t bring any food and they are always the first to eat and the people who come later don’t have anything and of course everyone complains to me. People always offer to help but are never available when I need them. Usually they show up 10 minutes after it starts and ask “what can I help with?” I’ve tried assigning tasks but they “forget”. Next year I am going to take the day off as soon as I hear when it is. Let some one else figure it out.

    29. Kassy

      Mine, at a state agency: Everybody brings food, luncheon in a conference room on a Monday. Main course is pasta dishes (I guess this year we’re even too cheap for meat). Games are included but are optional and I have always enjoyed them. Guests are technically allowed but kind of weird as it’s the middle of the workday.

      Hubby’s, at a different state agency: Saturday night at a country club, dress-up event, food and alcohol provided, guests welcome.

      I didn’t realize how unfair it was until I wrote it out.

    30. AnonACOD

      Actual company party – nice, low-key, dinner at a fancy restaurant for the team in my city. Sat between CEO and my favorite coworker from a different site I don’t see very often.
      Client party – lame as hell, cost $30, left early.
      Second job (professional services to a business related to my hobby) – is tonight. Optimistic because the venue looks good and I love the people.

    31. kbbaus

      Ours is tonight. I work at a very small marketing consulting firm (only 12 internal employees) so we get to bring our families (spouses, kids, unmarried SOs). It’s at a local swanky country club that has an amazing buffet. We also started having Bailey’s in our coffee by 9:30 this morning. :)

    32. Gandalf the Nude

      Hah! I’m getting my wisdom teeth out instead of attending our holiday luncheon. Everyone’s gone, “Ew! That sucks!” but it was fully intentional since this is the first year Partner and I are not celebrating Christmas. I’m hoping next year I’ll be comfortable enough in our non-participation to not be bothered by the very Christmas focus of the nominally holiday party.

      Partner’s company party was last night, though, and the food is always, always worth it.

    33. inkstainedpages

      I manage a small non-profit. Our holiday party is partially a volunteer-recognition event – the three paid staff members plan it and invite all current volunteers and board members, plus guests. Since most volunteers only come in once a week for an hour or two and only see the other volunteers they overlap times with, it’s a really nice way for everyone to meet other people that are working on the same project as them, and for the board members to meet the people who help the staff accomplish so many projects.

      The organization provides wine and caters a dinner, and one of the volunteers generously bakes dozens and dozens of cookies every year to hand out. After dinner, we have a voluntary gift exchange, which about half of the people usually stay for. It’s a good time had by all.

    34. Janice in Accounting

      Ours was a cocktail party at a local hotel with an open bar, nice finger foods, and a decent band, and it was all well and good until . . . someone behaved badly and got themselves fired! The moral of the story: if you’re miffed about not winning a door prize, don’t yell at the CEO’s wife. It will not end well for you.

    35. Bob from Accounting

      We played Dirty Santa (think something akin to White Elephant) which was fun. I intentionally ended up with my own gift. Kind of glad that I did, pumpkin spice coffee is delicious!

    36. super anon

      We had a potluck lunch in the office – the office paid for turkey, stuffing & gravy, and we had to bring in everything else. i couldn’t go because i had a meeting, but i don’t like turkey anyway and all of my work friends are already on vacation so it wasn’t a big loss.

    37. Allison Mary

      My company holiday party was downright magical – it was my first time attending, as I’m a recent new-hire, and I won’t actually start working with the company until October 2016. But I knew several people there, between people I’d met while interviewing and other recruiting candidates I’d met during recruiting season – I also knew a couple people from having worked with them at different firms in the area (for internships and similar temporary jobs). It was really, really exciting to be there, and to be included with what seems to be an amazing group of people.

      The party itself was on a Saturday evening at a very nice country club, and everyone dressed up pretty nice (semi-formal dress code) and most people brought their SO’s (mine dressed up REALLY nice and looked better than James Bond, IMHO). There was a cocktail hour before dinner, and then during dinner I sat next to a shareholder I hadn’t met previously, but who was very nice and easy to talk to. After dinner/during dessert, the managing shareholder (I guess you could consider him the president of the firm) gave a short speech, during which he announced all the names of the upcoming 2016 interns and 2016 fall full-time hires, and after each person’s name was announced, they stood up and waved while everyone applauded. It felt very welcoming, and I couldn’t be more excited to start with the company. :)

    38. Robin

      All these are making me thankful for our lunch out paid for by work last Friday with a white elephant exchange and the afternoon off! Partner’s work party was at his work, but he brews beer for a living so the drinks were good (and free!) and there was a photo booth, DJ, and casino games upstairs. No forced team building games and complimentary taxis home!

    39. Rebecca in Dallas

      We had ours yesterday. It was interesting, unlike any holiday party we’ve had since I’ve been at this company!

      So a month or so ago, all of the employees got to vote on a charity to support this year. We were given 4 options (all local) and info about each of them. We ended up choosing a home for children who have been victims of abuse and/or neglect. About 2 weeks ago, when we were invited to the party, we were told that there would be a contest and we were divided up into teams by department (with some of the larger departments in more than 1 team). Each team got shopping money and a list from the charity about items needed. The contest was to build a display with our donations, a cute way to present them. My team wrapped all the presents, then built a sleigh to hold them. It was really fun seeing what all of the teams came up with, although to be honest I think the money spent on supplies was a bit much, I’d rather just more money go to the charity.

      So while we were building our displays, the executives were walking around with trays of appetizers and there were also sweets in our break room. They had door prizes (tons! I won a handbag) and also raffles. You had to buy raffle tickets and the money went to the charity. There were some really good prizes! And the group that won the display contest got lunch out at a nearby restaurant.

      The party started around 2pm and we were finished about 4:30. So it was during business hours, which was nice even though we’re all busy right now!

      1. Rebecca in Dallas

        Oh, and two of the smaller groups that I work with each had a White Elephant exchange and our boss took us out to lunch.

    40. November

      Ours this year was a great lunch at at a great local restaurant. We did a short, funny work trivia game with everyone getting some nice swag and/or gift cards for participating, but for the most part, we were there to eat some tasty food and socialize. It was really fun! I don’t know if Boss started reading AAM or what, but it was such a fabulous change from our previous holiday parties (in the evening, on a weekend, basically mandatory, held at one of the office locations, with a ton of super-awkward games and activities, and the crew of that particular location stuck with all the clean-up).

    41. AP No Noir

      We’re having a potluck Wednesday. That’s it.
      We only get Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off while the company that owns us (and is right down the road) has the 23rd through the 3rd off PAID!

    42. Windchime

      Ours was a brunch cooked by all the managers. The budget for parties was seriously slashed a few years ago, so instead of a big turkey/ham catered dinner, the managers have started a new tradition of cooking breakfast for the entire department of 80-90 people. It’s a big deal and a lot of fun. There are decorations, and it’s during work time (of course). People are encouraged to come for however long they want; just for a quick bite or stay and chat for the entire two hours. There were rolls, muffins, hot coffee, bacon, ham, scrambled eggs, french toast….you name it, we had it there. The CIO gave a nice speech and then everyone was allowed to choose from a couple of different small, token gifts. It was very relaxing and fun.

    43. AvonLady Barksdale

      We had ours last night. It was a bit of a mixed bag. We did a pub crawl, then we went to a brewpub for dinner. SOs were invited at the last minute (we’re a small group) so my bf tagged along– he got super-happy-drunk and was a big hit (he’d met most of them before). I had a horrible headache so I avoided beer, which just meant I was able to drive home. The real problem was that we were all up against Friday deadlines and super stressed, then one of our teams had a really rough end to their day. My boss insisted we all go and enjoy ourselves, and we did, but it was a pretty early night.

      My co-worker stayed over and we let our dog sleep in the bed with her. She’s been crazy stressed, so at least I feel good that I got to give her a good night’s sleep in a comfy bed with a pooch.

    44. Al Lo

      I work for a non-profit with no budget, and the admin staff (10 of us) does our own party without our contract staff. Sometime in December, we do a potluck lunch at my boss’ house — she provides appies, drinks, and desserts, and we each bring a dish, and there’s way more food than we could ever want. It’s 12-3 on a weekday, her house is less than 10 minutes from the office, and it’s pretty casual and fun. A few of us came back to the office afterward, but only for an hour or so, and a bunch of people just headed home early, so there’s not much pressure to do it either way — it just depends on your individual workload.

      Some years we do a gift exchange; some years we don’t. This year, we did. We also all chip in for a boss gift, which I’ve pushed back a bit on, but not too hard, since our boss basically donates her entire salary back to the organization, so it’s a nice gesture to chip in $15 once a year.

      In January, our board hosts another lunch for us, where they do all the cooking. Also pretty low-key and during work hours. It’s a nice break to get another really good meal after all the Christmas festivities are over, and we don’t have to do anything for that one.

    45. Elli in Cali

      Our department party was a combined Christmas / December birthdays / manager retirement potluck, with cake and a main dish provided by the managers, which was moved up four days on very short notice. Management didn’t arrange coverage, so most employees dashed in on their break to refuel before dashing back to work. Not the most successful party ever, though the party cake was pretty amazing.

      The wider organization gave a hot catered holiday lunch to all employees, with a generous window on “lunch”, served by some of the higher-ups. The food was better than expected and the flexibility let people figure out how to maintain coverage while getting to spend lunch with their friends.

    46. Rachel

      My office does a catered lunch for us in the cafeteria – except our cafeteria is too small to hold everyone at the same time and we have to maintain phone coverage, so each team gets assigned a 30 minute time slot on one of two days. The lunch was excellent – salad, roasted asparagus, mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, ham, and pumpkin and apple pie. My team also had a potluck and white elephant gift exchange. That might have been the most fun I’ve had in the office all year. Nothing like watching your super conservative coworker unwrap an apron with a Wonder Woman silhouette painted on it!

    47. Sparkly Librarian

      We had a brunch at the main library – couple hundred people, a few short speeches, a couple awards for long service. The funny part was that there was a long table with chafing dishes (scrambled eggs, sausage, etc.) and fruit, muffins, donuts, other breakfasty foods people contributed… and then another whole table of potluck desserts! I wore a new dress and apparently was VERY purple, because a handful of people mentioned it. (Yay purple!)

    48. Sara

      Mine was great! To be honest, I didn’t think it would be – the RSVP list was short on people I know, and my workplace is…not cliquey, exactly, but people tend to socialize primarily within departments, so I was worried when barely anyone from my department RSVP’d yes. (I’ve only been there since August, so I’m still meeting people from other departments.) But when I got there, a couple people I know well had decided to show up, and I actually got to spend a lot of time chatting with a woman who just got back from maternity leave whose work overlaps with mine quite a bit. And it turns out she’s awesome! Also, the food was pretty good.

    49. Jo

      I live in a conservative Muslim country, so Christmas is obviously not celebrated officially, or at work. However, we do have an active social scene here so private Christmas parties fill the void.

      The only one I’ve attended so far was interrupted by at an attack in another neighborhood, but beyond the initial blast we couldn’t hear it because the Christmas music drowned out the gunfire, so we partied on.

      Unfortunately, however, the attack put everyone on lockdown so the majority of guests were unable to come (60-70 were expected) and it ended up only being the 25 or so who had already arrived (and a few with no security restrictions). We still had a lot of fun but a lot of good food went to waste because there was no one to eat it all :(

  3. afiendishthingy

    This week my new coworker Rachel, whom I posted about in the 12/4 open thread, graduated from blurting out random vaguely offensive comments to making blatantly offensive comments.

    Incident 1, personal conversation in the middle of the office: Rachel referred to her boyfriend’s ex-wife as “Whoreface”, “ugly b****h”, and “everyone at my old job calls her The C*** haha”

    Incident 2, mostly work related conversation with me, re: income-based government assistance: “You know how like the less you do, the more they give you?”

    did I mention we work in a human services nonprofit? and that we provide services funded by Medicaid? BECAUSE WE DO.

    Both times I was too taken aback to respond in the moment, but I don’t want to let either comment slide. I’m not Rachel’s supervisor but I’m definitely her senior. So I’m going meet with her 1:1 today to touch base on tasks I’ve delegated to her, and then let her know that a) I’m not comfortable with the implication that people receiving government aid are lazy, and if she really feels that way she’s probably in the wrong field- and 2) misogynistic profanity has no place in our office. My main concern is I won’t be able to conceal my irritation, and at this point I’d rather frame my concerns as compassionate mentoring – like hey, I know you’re new here, and I want to help orient you to the office culture.

    Any pointers?

      1. Dawn

        Yeah when someone is outright bashing people on assistance (while working in a company that provides that assistance- wtf???) and is calling someone a c*** (who the hell does that out loud AT WORK) then you owe it to her to tell her to check herself before she wrecks herself. This isn’t a time for tiptoeing around the issue because both of those behaviors are things that would absolutely get her either straight up fired or seriously evaluated if they were overheard by her management (we hope, anyway.)

        1. Amy M. HR

          ^^^^ This! I agree with Dawn. Honestly, who uses the C word at work? Terrible! Try your best to remain calm and factual about it though (unprofessional and inappropriate behavior for the office, our clients would perceive this as being insensitive to their needs) rather than attacking her character. But definitely be direct so there is no misunderstanding as to what you are trying to get across to her.

      2. Coffee Ninja

        Absolutely. It needs to be crystal clear that this is unacceptable and needs to stop, like, yesterday. I hope she doesn’t have any direct contact with your clients, at least.

          1. Dawn

            Oh dang, OK on this one I think you should tell your/her manager, especially since you used to manage this person. Even though you say that her manager is nonconfrontational, and even though nothing might change because of it, since you work where you do I can’t imagine it looking good if word of this behavior ever got out and this person said “Well afiendishythingy listens to me talk about it all the time and hasn’t ever said a word!”

            And then definitely talk to this co-worker and tell her that’s 100% not OK, and shut her down if she ever starts talking like that again.

      3. Charityb

        I think letting her know bluntly that this has to stop IS compassionate. People like that often get sidelined in their careers. She might get mad now but if she’s lucky she’ll reflect on how this makes her look.

        OR she’ll have some nasty words for you.

        Or both.

    1. Anna

      Try to stay focused on the goal, which is to help her get in line with the culture. There’s a good chance she’ll get defensive, so don’t let that distract you. Good luck! It’s going to be a tough conversation no matter what.

      One other thing…Is it a better option for you to talk to her about it rather than her manager?

      1. afiendishthingy

        I think at this point, because I witnessed it, and our supervisor is nonconfrontational to a fault, it’s better for me to do it. I plan to tell the supervisor afterwards. Also, before she started working here in the office Rachel was a remote employee reporting to me for a year.

        1. snarkalupagus

          That history actually gives you a bit more latitude with the script, if that would help…you can say things like, “During your history of working remotely, I didn’t hear you say things like [example], but I want to make sure you understand that those comments are totally unacceptable.” You can’t really come at it from the “I need you to stop those comments immediately/is that something you can commit to” parts of Alison’s excellent scripts if you’re not her supervisor, but you sure can bring her history into it. “Working remotely and then coming into an office environment can be a tough transition, but you need to stop making such horrifyingly unprofessional comments right now if you want to be seen as professional. People see, and hear, and notice, and never forget.”

    2. Lillian McGee

      I will feel embarrassed for her since clearly she has no shame… I cannot believe someone who works at a human services nonprofit would think–let alone SPEAK–of aid recipients that way!! She needs to be told that that kind of attitude is completely unacceptable and that she needs to adopt a more compassionate view of aid recipients (your CLIENTS, arguably!) or hit the road.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Irritation or anger is not an inappropriate emotion. It’s how we use that irritation or anger that makes it appropriate or inappropriate. If you are standing there saying “THESE are human beings. Our job here is to serve human beings!” I don’t think sounding a little miffed is inappropriate AT ALL.
      Matter of fact, I think you would be matching her level of irritation, which you may have to do in order to be heard. I doubt that saying ” ‘scuse me, pardon me, but you should watch what you say here. I don’t mean to be mean, I am just trying to help you” will do anything to change the situation. You need to use a bit stronger wording and tone.

      YMMV. And I am not there, you are. So this is just something to mull on.

      1. afiendishthingy

        To clarify, I wanted to ensure my message was “I found your comments inappropriate and offensive because x, I don’t want to hear them, and this is how it could affect your future here if you choose to say things like that around others” rather than “I don’t like you and here are the reasons you are terrible.” I was always planning on being firm about it, but I do have to work closely with her and I worried if I just came off as pissy it would be counterproductive.

        And we talked a couple hours ago and I think I achieved my goals for the conversation. She was defensive, clearly does not think her attitude needs to be adjusted, but did agree not to use gendered slurs or denigrate aid recipients in front of me. We ended it stiffly but cordially and agreed not to let our personal feelings about one another affect our working relationship.

        I briefed my supervisor afterwards, who sighed and thanked me for letting her know and told me to keep an eye on the situation and let her know if there are more developments.

        Thanks y’all.

  4. TheIntern

    I’m currently in grad school and will be taking a class in nonprofit management next semester. The professor sent us the assignment and I thought it’d be fun to hear from you guys.

    I have to write a research paper on any aspect of nonprofit management. Any ideas on interesting/fun/unique topics? The paper will be submitted for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

    1. Anna

      I think the outreach and publicity side of non-profit management is really interesting, but then guess what I do professionally and for fun? :) (Technically my day job isn’t a non-profit, but it is a government funded program.) You could look at one specific part of it, like what happens to a small non-profit that suddenly sees in an increase in awareness by the public. How does that affect it and how the people who work there? You have to suddenly change your perspective from being “unknown small non-profit” to “the public knows about us and wants to help our mission.”

    2. themmases

      Since you’ll be submitting this for publication, one area to think about is program evaluation. In fields like public health (my field), evaluation is the bridge between the applied work of professionals and the evidence-gathering of academics. It’s how programs stay on track and prove their effectiveness to funders and constituents, but it’s also how researchers in these fields demonstrate that a theoretical intervention works in the real world.

      For example, the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) is a very popular program schools can follow to create and implement wellness policies. CATCH has been shown to increase physical activity and reduce the onset of overweight and obesity in children at schools using the program. Much of the research that supports CATCH is actually program evaluation.

      1. Rat Racer

        Oooh! I love that idea! Could you write a discourse on the different types of evaluation methodologies, the tradeoffs of each?

        For example, we just ran an evaluation on one of our pilot programs and used difference-in-difference analysis of a matched sample control group. We held ourselves to the highest standards of the academic discipline – but now we have to explain what these very complicated results mean to non-academics, and it is HARD.

    3. nonanon

      I’d check out the Malcom Baldridge Award winners in the Non-Profit category. That should give you some ideas on what top non-profits are doing.
      I’ve had a bunch of friends use the Baldridge criteria as a basis for thesis papers. The criteria pretty much gives you the outline for the paper and you just need to give some examples to fill in the rest.

    4. the gold digger

      This was something I always found interesting when I was at a non-profit. I worked at a member association for highly-skilled professionals. They joined to advance their careers, which is a perfectly good reason.

      The CEO mentioned once that people can leave money to the non-profit in their wills. I asked, “Why would they do that?” He said because it was a charity.

      NO! A professional member association is not a charity in the sense that a no-kill shelter for kittens is a charity or a food bank is a charity. It would never occur to me to donate money to a member association.

      So the issue was to me – if you are paying people awful wages and thinking you can get away with it because it’s for a cause, how on earth do you convince them that a member association is morally equivalent to a food bank? Or, how does – if it should – management change? Or can this affect your marketing. How do you convince people to donate to a cause like that?

      1. MoinMoin

        Wow, weird. The only thing I can think of is if it funds membership scholarships or some sort of professional mentoring? But it’s still not in the same realm as working with poverty or something.

    5. Florida

      I think the overhead ratio is interesting – how nonprofits have to do something that makes them unsuccessful in order to be seen by the outside world as successful.
      I also am particularly interested in donor/volunteer motivation. Some of what motivates volunteers is the same that motivates employees, but some of it is different. Donor motivation is very fascinating to me as well.
      What parts of nonprofit management are you interested in? If we knew that, we might be able to help you come up with a research topic.

      1. TheIntern

        I am interested in capacity building, how can nonprofits achieve their mission in the most effective way possible. From volunteer management to fund development to board relations, and everything in between! :)

        1. BRR

          Overhead ratio is a hot issue. My org just got downgraded by charity navigator for this reason. It’s also old data and being reported differently as we are changing our structure.

          Keep in mind this rating doesn’t take any program facts. Solely financial. What a way to judge us.

          1. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA

            My organization struggle with that as well and it’s hard to explain to donors that low overhead doesn’t mean more effectiveness. The Ford foundation just addressed this (http://www.fordfoundation.org/ideas/equals-change-blog/posts/moving-the-ford-foundation-forward/) and I thought it was an interested read.

            There is lots of interesting things happening w with the push for pro-bono volunteers and how that changes staffing at organizations. It’s something that I’m always trying to tackle at my job.

            1. TheIntern

              An interesting approach I recently learned about is soliciting corporate sponsors to specifically cover overhead costs. A United Way in Idaho I believe, has corporate sponsors who cover 100% of overhead so all donor dollars go to services. From my understanding the approach is developing a partnership with the business by marketing on how their expertise can help the nonprofit run efficiently. Of course, you don’t want heavy handed business professionals thinking they carry a lot of weight simply because they are sponsors.

        2. nonprofitprofessional

          I think the issue of capacity building while factoring in social/economic ethics is really cool. Simone Joyeaux and Tom Ahern have a great book called “Keep Your Donors: The Guide to Better Communications & Stronger Relationships”; the last chapter is a fantastic, thought-provoking chapter about morals & philanthropy. The potential ethical pitfalls that can come along with substantial growth is something that everyone in the nonprofit sector should definitely keep in mind.

    6. ExceptionToTheRule

      I work part-time for a non-charity, non-profit with a staff of 3.5 (I’m the .5) that’s undergone a HUGE personnel transition in the past year. My suggestion is succession planning in these smaller staff and all the sundry issues that go with it.

    7. Devil's Avocado

      Both diversity and inclusion and Collective Impact models are hot topics in my little sphere right now. I’d check out Nonprofit with Balls (website) and the Stanford Social Innovation Review (publication) for ideas.

      1. Overeducated and underemployed

        Yes. There was a great post on the “be more like businesses” issue oN the first one this week.

    8. Harriet Vane Wimsey

      Wouldn’t being in grad school give YOU the responsibility of researching and coming up with your own topic for a paper that will be peer reviewed and published? Instead of asking a blog? Sorry if this sounds harsh, but it sounds like cheating to me. To me, you need to come up with a topic that you are passionate about and that advances the body of knowledge in your field.

      1. TheIntern

        I’m not trying to skirt the responsibility of developing a thesis. I am interested in nonprofit capacity building and as a result, many faucets of nonprofit leadership. I thought it would be helpful to see what current hot button issues are in the field. Especially considering there can often be a disconnect or delay between what is happening in “real life” as opposed to the theories and approaches discussed in journal publications. I have no intention of stealing someone’s ideas or any form of plagiarism. Ultimately I will develop the thesis, conduct the research and write the paper. I view this as a jumping off point, no different than having a discussion in class on possible topics.

        1. Dr. Doll

          And you are absolutely right, TheIntern. I LOVE it that you are asking a professional network what they’re interested in so you can go and do a lot of work and then tell us what you learned!

          In fact if I were your professor I would want to give you a +1 for creativity in the first place.

        2. Harriet Vane Wimsey

          I in no way think you would plagirize. When I said cheating, I meant cheating yourself intellectually. Think about the times you have used a nonprofit. What was good, what was bad? Did their missions seem relevant to you? What are they doing differently that a for-profit would do? Are their missions driven by dollars? What impact do these things have on their management? I’m just saying ask yourself questions based on your experiences, and then come up with a question or thesis that interests YOU.

          1. Observer

            That’s just the thing. Looking at things from the outside (assuming Intern actually has interacted with a nonprofit enough to even notice the public facing interactions) doesn’t provide anywhere near enough information to ask the really useful questions.

            For instance the discussions about capacity building and overhead simply wouldn’t even be on the radar. Even “what do they do differently” is very often not really apparent.

      2. Anonsie

        Oh that’s asinine. It’s in no way cheating to ask people with more internal experience in the nonprofit world than you for ideas on things she could look into to research more, my goodness.

    9. Spunky Brewster

      This is the accounting/finance nerd in me talking, but it would be interesting to explore what the “right” amount of overhead expenditure is to please the most people. If it’s low, you may get a better charity navigator score but not have the right people in place to carry out your mission statement. If overhead is too high, donors and beneficiaries get upset.

  5. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

    in an open thread someone told me about a website that I can take online courses for free. It was just a few letters and I cant find it! I went to the website and loved the options but now I want it back. help!

    1. Paige Turner

      Was it CreativeLive? There’s also Coursera, but it seems like they have less and less actually free courses these days.

      1. A is for A

        I think you have to pay for a membership to Lynda. Many universities and some other companies have membership paid for all employees/faculty, but if you don’t I think there is a membership fee.

        1. Cambridge Comma

          I think there was a recommendation recently to sign up for the Lynda free trial and learn the skill in the 30 days of the trial? Something excel related?

        1. hermit crab

          Yes, this! And if your local library doesn’t have a subscription, be sure to check and see what other libraries you might have access to, such as the library system of the nearest major city. For example, anyone who lives in Pennsylvania can get a library card to the Free Library of Philadelphia, and they have a massive set of online resources/services; most of the public library systems in the Washington DC metro area have reciprocity agreements; etc.

    2. Hellanon

      Open Culture dot org collects all kinds of free resources – courses in all sorts of things, interesting podcasts, etc.

  6. ObviouslyAnon

    I’ve been waiting to ask everyone about this one. I had my annual review and I was rated a B+. Ratings don’t determine raises, so I’m not overly concerned about not being an A, but the reason why I’m a B+ makes no sense to me.

    My manager who reviews me said he gave me an A-, but our department managers said it had to be a B+. My manager also received a B+, and he is definitely a top performer and part of our department leadership (received a __ of the year award last year).

    The explanation was that a “B+” is the proper rating for someone who is ready for promotion, according to management. The annual review system description for B+ is “shows high potential for advancement and proficient in current role; will advance as opportunities become available.”

    Does this make sense to anyone? How could you possibly get an “A”? There may be a handful of SMEs who wouldn’t ever move into a new role, and who are top performers, but of 1000 people, I think that’s maybe 20 people or less. People who are not ready for a promotion simply because they need experience would seem to be a flat B under this system, but I don’t agree with that necessarily, either. Say I get the promotion sometime next year, and have only been in the role 6 months at annual review next year. I’m automatically a B or lower, even if I’m doing great work.

    It seems past interpretations of our 9-box system were that you could still get A ratings at any level. I feel like I’m on Whose Line is it Anyway. . . where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. : )

    1. Anna

      That’s annoying and it sounds like it’s some of the faulty logic that makes management think you can’t give someone the top rating because then what will they strive for?

      1. MP

        I think it makes sense. If B+ is “shows high potential for advancement and proficient in current role; will advance as opportunities become available” then A (and above) would mean you were already acting in a role above your own (e.g. managing projects or budgets or people when that wouldn’t normally be considered at your current level).

        1. ObviouslyAnon

          I can see how that makes sense for me. (I wouldn’t have complained about a B+ rating for myself, but I find all this extraneous info about how the rating was assigned interesting.)

          I do not see how that makes sense for my manager. My manager’s boss is an EVP, and the nature of my manager’s job is that it is more of a terminal position, for him. If you are an employee who says this is the job for me. I don’t want to move up any further, this philosophy says you can’t get an A for just doing awesome at your assigned duties (even very complex assigned duties.) I see where that could be the philosophy, but I don’t agree with it.

          1. Anna

            That’s part of the faulty logic. For you it made sense (jn your mind). So what is the reasoning for your manager getting the same rating? If the reasoning for not giving a stellar employee the highest possible rating in a year when they clearly achieved it is “what will they strive for next year then” it can easily backfire. If I go way above and beyond and still didn’t get the highest rate, I personally will be less inclined to find out what will get it for me.

      2. Not So NewReader

        It could be that if you receive an A you are good at what you do but you are maxed out. You will not be going any higher up the ladder. That is what it looks like to me.

        OP, I guess I would just focus on the fact that they said they will be promoting you. See if that happens. These rating systems are annoying and in some cases even useless.

    2. JMegan

      That’s my general experience with performance reviews as well. Most of the places I have worked have had a four-point scale, where about 90% of people get the second-highest rating, 5% are superstars who get the highest rating, 5% are slackers who get the second-lowest rating, and nobody ever gets the lowest rating.

      So no, it doesn’t make sense to me – but the good news is that it doesn’t make any *less* sense than any other rating system I have seen! Mostly I just smile and nod, and consider it a once-a-year thing on my to-do list. For me, it’s very much not worth investing a lot of time and energy into, but of course YMMV if there is an actual measurable outcome that is dependent on your rating.

      1. ObviouslyAnon

        Yeah, at VeryOldJob we had a forced bell curve, so I NEVER got an “A” there. At CurrentPlace, I got an A last year, but the rules are a moving target. Before last year, I had been in a job that no longer fit, and before that, my manager and I didn’t get along, so it’s kind of disappointing to be back to a B (plus).

        In this case, the rating doesn’t seem to matter for anything. The more important part is that my managers (and clients) are all reportedly happy with me and I’m still getting good assignments.

        Slightly more aggravating is the fact that raises are determined by where you fall relative to everyone else. Until I get that promotion, I’m not winning there. Post-promotion, that will work in my favor.

    3. AMT

      I don’t even understand why a letter rating is useful in the first place. Who is looking at these ratings? What does a “B” tell you about someone’s job performance, especially if people who meet certain criteria “have” to have certain ratings? It sounds like something born of a misguided attempt at fairness/objectivity/ass-covering.

      1. ObviouslyAnon

        It’s completely not useful. These ratings have the most shit-sandwich descriptions ever. You have to get all the way to a C- before your manager couldn’t spin it as a positive rating.

        C. . ..shows potential, but underperforming now
        C+. . .could be a future high performer, but struggling in a bad fit role or still learning

    4. MaryMary

      I would ask your manager what it would take to get an A rating, but be prepared for something vague or for him to admit he doesn’t know.

      My guess is that your company rates on a strict bell curve, and that your department already had it’s two people with an A rating, so you and your manager were bumped to a B. It is frustrating, but as long as it doesn’t determine your compensation, I wouldn’t spend too much thought on your rating. Think of it as the annoying professor in college who would only give one A because only one person got an F, so your 93% became a B (and your friend’s 88% is a C).

      1. ObviouslyAnon

        My manager doesn’t know! Asked & answered.

        We’re not forced bell curve, but could have a similar approach.

      2. Noah

        +1 on the forced bell curve. I could have a department full of rockstars but I can only rank so many 5/5 and 4/5.

    5. Meg Murry

      Yes, if it’s a 1-5 system, don’t think of it as a B+. At many locations, the highest rating doesn’t really happen except for people who have maxed out their promotion ability.

      It’s not like school where everyone who does well is getting a A, and getting a C is doing poorly. At a company full of high acheivers, a rating of “meets expectations” is pretty good, and “exceeds expectations” as it sounds like you were given is actually a really good review. If the bar is high, exceeding expectations is great.

      Don’t think of it as a B+. Think of it as “the boss says I’m doing great and on track to be promoted soon.” Ignore the numbers. Remember that they have “everyone can always improve at some aspect, somewhere” built in to the system.

      And good job on your positive review!

      1. Anxa

        This is kind of a weird comment to me, because I would think that having a C should mean you’re about average, and an A is about the top you can get and more competitive.

        But I also noticed when I went back to school this year, there was almost no curve or scale based grading.

    6. Perse's Mom

      It’s effectively what I was told at my review. My supervisor was not allowed to ‘grade’ me any higher, as that would tell the higher ups that I was in the wrong position and they don’t want to see their talented staff be wasted like that.

    7. Rusty Shackelford

      I had a job once where you were supposed to rate yourself in several specific categories, and then you’d compare your ratings with your manager. One category was attendance (yeah, it was that kind of job) and since I had literally not missed a single day in my first year there, and had been there after hours and on weekends when needed, I gave myself a 10/10. My manager was also new, and she didn’t dispute that rating, but HER manager told me that NO ONE can EVER give themselves a 10 on ANYTHING, because it means there’s no room for improvement. So maybe that’s what they’re going for? But it’s stupid. And I was all, huh. If never missing a day, and being there on days when I wasn’t even supposed to be there, doesn’t rate me a 10 in attendance… what’s the point?

      1. Purple Jello

        I had a job where if you used a sick day (doctor’s note required) you couldn’t get a 5 out of 5 on that category of your review. So I went in sick. Frequently. When my new boss asked why, I explained it was the only category I had complete control over.

        He sent me home.

      2. Not So NewReader

        It’s a green light to take the time you need to take. Why bother having perfect attendance if it is not recognized?

  7. Filled with hatred

    I just need to vent about my boss being the most condescending, passive-aggressive, intentionally obtuse individual in the world. I’m on the verge of walking out because I’m so sick of being treated the way he treats me. I’d rather be yelled at constantly than this.

  8. JustKeepSwimming

    Is feeling unsafe in the work environment a legitimate reason to give for leaving a past job?

    I work for a city government in the USA that has been having some issues of late that led to riots this past spring and lots of protests these last few months (I bet anyone keeping eyes on the news can guess this city). My office is in no way connected with the Mayor’s office or the courts or any emergency services, but is geographically located right in the middle of all of them. When stuff is happening, it is usually right outside our building.

    Things have been picking up again this week (nothing violent yet but news coming down that could lead to more public outcry) and I feel like I’ve been looking over my shoulder all the time. When I have to step outside, I’ve been jumpy and nervous; when I’m in my office, I’m constantly checking the news online to hear if anything is going on. I don’t think the risk is that great, few of co-workers seem as nervous as me, but my brain likes to come up with worst-case-scenarios to play through my mind.

    I just generally have felt unsafe all this week, and this looks like it will be going on for the next few months at least; already exhausted from the tension and fear that I don’t know how I can hold up for months, especially if things get worse. I’m actively job searching anyway but, at one of my most scared moments when there was news of large group of protesters outside, I wondered if ‘left the job because I honestly felt unsafe’ was a legitimate reason to give for leaving my current job without anything lined up already.

    I need my job the necessities of life and was already looking elsewhere but if I get really terrified or desperate, would this be an actual reason I could give for leaving early?

    1. misspiggy

      I wouldn’t. You just don’t know how others will react to such a statement. Nothing wrong with leaving and then job hunting, but use a positive reason, like you wanted a short break to really focus on taking your career in a more exciting direction, etc etc.

    2. TempAnon

      I work for that other county over in Missouri with similar issues of riots, protests, etc. The bad news is that none of the problems you are talking about have stopped for us even though the case involved is long over. It seems like every other week we are getting a safety notice about credible threats followed up by the person getting arrested with firearms or explosives on them. All our buildings only have one guarded entrance/exit now. Garage security is dramatically different. We have security glass everyone and all sorts of new cameras, security sensors, and badge swipes at every single door. More employees are wearing bullet proof vests at their desks day to day. At this point, we are all pretty aware that our workplace safety has changed permanently and will never be the same.

      I am also job hunting now. There are many reasons for this, but the constant tension and unsafe feeling since 2014 have contributed strongly to that. And here is one thing I have learned so far….

      Everyone knows about your employer, especially locally, and knows that you feel unsafe in your job. They might not realize the extent to which you are unsafe now, but anyone you to talk to is already going to have in the back of their head, “I know why I would be getting out of that job”. Especially this week (for other reason) I feel ready to quit my job with nothing else to go to. It is not a good idea for the reasons we are always talking about on here. Just realize though that other employers are going to have the empathy to inherently understand why you would want out of that job now. More importantly, be prepared to talk about it but move the conversation away from what is wrong about your current job and to what is right about the job you are seeking. It is very easy to end up completely lost in a discussion of your current job when your employer is constantly in the news like that, and that conversation is not going to help you get the new job.

      1. Jo

        This isn’t particularly helpful, I know, but one thing I’ve learned while living in a conflict zone is that the law of diminishing returns applies to fear. You can only be so scared for so long before it just turns into “meh.”

        So I’d definitely recommend job-searching, but if it takes longer that you’d like, just know that the fear doesn’t last forever. It’s not safe or healthy but it helps you get through the day/s.

    3. Swarley

      That sucks, I’m sorry. Is there any type of security in your building? Does your clothing give away that your a city employee?

      I think it’s a legitimate reason to want to move on, I just don’t know if I’d say that exactly during an interview. I might just focus on why I’m excited about the work of the potential job, admired the company and it’s mission, etc.

    4. ZSD

      Oooft. Yeah, I understand your nervousness.
      I think feeling unsafe in the location could be a legitimate reason to list for leaving as long as the other places where you’re applying are pretty far from your current location, like in a different city. If you’re just applying for places five miles from where you work now, I don’t think it would make sense to say that you left because you didn’t feel safe in that area.
      Best wishes for your safety, by the way!

    5. MP

      JustKeepSwimming I live and work downtown in the same charming city you are talking about and quite frankly I don’t think that excuse for leaving a job will sit well with many employers here in the city. The riots did cause a great deal of property damage but your personal safety concern is misplaced compared to (the unfortunately run of the mill) street crime, traffic accidents and any number of other dangers that we navigate daily without alarm.
      It is a gross mischaracterization of the peaceful protesters which have been present outside the government buildings for much of the year to suggest that they pose any danger to anyone.

      1. TempAnon

        The safety issues do not come from the peaceful protesters. They come from other people who are already motivated towards violence against us, but somehow in their own minds take the protests as validation to take violent action. This is not the fault of the protesters in any way, but it still happens. (I went back and checked our security notice archives, and it turns out the notices are more than once a week rather than every other week, even this year. The ones caught with firearms rattle me much less than the ones caught with bombmaking materials.)

        1. MP

          Can you explain what you mean by the people “motivated towards violence against us”? And who is “us” in this situation?

          1. TempAnon

            Us = local government employees. There is always a fringe group of people out there who hate government or hate law enforcement and transfer that hate to local government to an extent that they seriously consider violent action. They have little if anything to do with the current protests and are always out there in some number. Very few will ever act on that, but some will. In our area (again, certain county in Missouri, not Maryland), that number has ticked up dramatically since the ongoing protests started in 2014 and has shown no sign of slowing down.

            1. Kassy

              That’s true. I think it was pretty well established that most of the violent actions in Missouri County at the time of the riots were spurred/committed by people from Other Counties.

          2. Not So NewReader

            When I got a low level government job, the first thing they did was tell me about these groups. They talked about their behaviors/method of operating and how to handle it. They also taught me not to say the name of the group- because mere mention could be a problem. They gave me materials to read and told me to keep the materials out of sight.
            I live in a very calm area compared to what other people see going on in their areas. But, yes, groups of 12-18 armed people have walked into government buildings here.
            Unfortunately, part of the problem is that talking about it causes more problems.
            I don’t want to keep talking about this, but if you want to learn more you can google. (Sorry, not trying to be flip, I have a rock and a hard place going on here.) The information is readily available online.
            For my situation, I feel fortunate and reasonably safe given the world we have. OP, my heart goes out to you. In the end, you have to do what you think is best. No one else has to go in and do your job and face your working environment. So, it’s your decision.

        2. Student

          Firearms are the bigger actual threat of those two. Guns require virtually no extra knowledge to kill someone – there are toddlers and the occasional unfortunate pet who have killed or injured someone with a gun.

          Explosives are hard. They’re tough to use, tough to make correctly, take a lot more brains, take some knowledge of the building’s construction to use effectively. They can easily fail or go off on the would-be bomber prematurely. Anyone trying to kill people at a government office with explosives is an idiot – people smart enough to use explosives properly also know that there are easier, cheaper, more effective ways to kill people. Only real danger from explosives is for people who have a lot of free time and access to set them up well in advance – it’s an “insider” kind of threat, not an “outsider” kind of threat. That’s why you almost never hear about people using them to do attacks.

      2. TotesMaGoats

        I work just slightly north of the charming city where you both work. So, I understand the concerns but MP is right. You are more likely to be mugged, hit by a car or something like that than something a protester might do. Sadly though, the protests do tend to attract people who see it as an opportunity for violence. So, be aware and pay attention but I wouldn’t worry any more than you normally would when traversing our city.

      3. JustKeepSwimming

        What TempAnon said. The peaceful protesters are fine but large groups attract more people, some of who do take the protests as permission to do something more.

        Also, with the sad state of our country and the out-of-control shootings of 2015, it is something that has been on my mind even more. My department, I think even all the departments, received an email advising what do to if a shooter did enter our building, so it’s obviously on the minds of others too.

        There plenty of other things that could happen as you’ve said (even the traffic accidents; everyone in my department, me included, has had near misses walking to other buildings for our jobs). But I also can’t help that I’m a little more nervous in nature and the state of the city, especially being located right at the heart of it, has left me on edge all week, hence my thought process to leave now.

    6. KSM

      “I’m looking for an easier commute!” would be how I phrase it if I could stay at OldJob during interviews.

      I don’t think the reason you gave would come off well as a reason why you quit.

    7. Bonnie

      I also live and work in this city and agree with the sentiments expressed. I’m not telling you your feelings aren’t valid but the risk of turning off an interviewer is just too high to use that reason. The vast majority of protests have been peaceful and to me it would come off as paranoid and out of touch.

    8. Student

      I think it’s completely legitimate for you to want to change jobs to feel safe.

      However, have you considered trying alternate methods to make yourself feel safe? I lived in “unsafe” places for a lot of my life. There’s ways to reduce your personal risks.

      Number one – exits. Do you have a back exit on the building? Or a side exit? Underground exit? Even a fire exit that won’t set off alarms? Sometimes finding different way out into a dangerous area can help immeasurably. If you don’t have alternative exits, then ask about getting better lighting for the exit, visibility (windows) so you can see if someone is outside the exit. Arrange to leave in groups with a couple of your co-workers – there’s strength in numbers.

      Number two – appearance and personal behavior. When you go out into a dangerous area, try to blend in. Don’t wear a fancy coat, expensive and obvious jewelry (including watches), drive an expensive car in, carry expensive hand bags, or wear expensive clothes and shoes. Getting an old coat at a second-hand store is cheap and effective camouflage. Hoods or scarves that obscure your face can make it hard to identify you as part of any specific “group”.

      For personal behavior, be “alert” without being obviously “nervous”. That means avoid the impulse to act like fearful jumpy prey. Try to picture yourself as a lesser predator instead – a fox among wolves. Wary but not to be taken lightly. Sounds silly, but the non-verbal signaling underneath the idea is serious. Acting like prey invites people to treat you like prey. Acting like people shouldn’t mess with you makes them less likely to mess with you. No headphones, and no talking on or staring at a phone while you leave, either – that’s a big “oblivious” signal! Also, if you’re a woman, take some comfort in that (no idea on your gender). Women may feel more vulnerable, but they’re actually somewhat protected by gender bias for this specific type of violence. Men are much more likely to be attacked by strangers than women are. Women should fear the people they know more than the people they don’t know. Women are not considered “threatening” by strange men, so in these specific contexts they’re almost invisible.

      Third and last – get to know the people you fear. The more you can make yourself a “real person” to the people you’re afraid of, the less likely they are to want to harm you. A faceless, nameless bureaucrat is easier to hurt than JustKeepSwimming the friendly neighborhood member. Make small chat with locals. Go out and talk up people at lunch. Hand out cookies to kids. Arrange some community outreach thing for your office. If you can be part of the local tribe, even a little bit, then the local tribe will be less likely to harm you. I know that can sound terrifying, but underneath all the anger are some very normal people who aren’t really all that different from you in a lot of important ways. You might find out that they’re just as scared of you as you are of them.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yes. Yes. This. Particularly #3. Knowledge is power. Something as simple as knowing people’s names and letting them know your name (maybe just your first name?) can tear down so many walls.

  9. Brett

    Our department strategic plan came out this week. I am excited we actually did a strategic plan for once, and we split it into five areas. Now, we are a law enforcement agency, and so the focus is on commissioned officers.
    But I was pretty disappointed that the plan included enhanced facilities for commissioned officers, better recruitment of commissioned, better pay and benefits for commissioned officers… and that was it. Non-commissioned staff were only mentioned in increasing minority recruitment.

    What really hit me was an entire section on leadership, which emphasized rewarding staff who went through leadership programs, developing a new program to have trained leaders develop internal leadership training, creating a new promotional path to recognized trained leaders and employees who distinguish themselves through volunteer leadership, and developing a mentorship program from experienced trained leaders.
    I have been through the highest leadership academy for my law enforcement related profession. I have a strong record of volunteer leadership. So this was exciting to read until I got to the very very end when it said that the entire leadership program would be for commissioned staff only.

    So, I was excited about the strategic plan, but now that I see so clearly the priorities built into that strategy I am considering biting the bullet and quitting. I could almost certainly sporadically consult while I wait out the 12 month clock on our post-employment restriction.

    1. OhNo

      Ugh, that’s so irritating. I’ve never dealt with the commissioned/non-commissioned divide, but my workplace has a similar disconnect between opportunities offered for degreed and non-degreed positions.

      It sucks when your company is basically saying, “We want to invest in our workforce and help everyone get better! Except this group. We don’t think they’re important enough to invest time/energy in.”

  10. Karowen

    Long story short: I’m burnt out on my job and it’s beyond time for me to move on. I’m in a creative field, though, and most jobs are contract and not in my city. How crazy am I to look at moving to another city for a 1-year contract job?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      Well if it’s an industry-wide thing that jobs are contract only, then why not move? If you’re okay with living in the new location, and think you could continue to find contract jobs, then I’d go for it.

    2. Anna

      Is it an area that has a high demand for people in your field? If it is, then the current contract will probably be followed up by other contracts and you’ll have a few months before your contract ends to get the next one set up. I wouldn’t say that a 1-year contract is NOT a reason to move if you think it will lead to ongoing work.

    3. NACSAJACK

      If you’re not married, don’t have kids and don’t have a house or mortgage, I’d say do it in a heartbeat. Think how living in a different city, willing to get up and move about for your career will look on your resume. Moving to a new city requires you to develop your research skills, your networking skills, manage your stress, all of which are good skills to develop. And if you fall flat on your face, you can show how you picked yourself, dusted yourself off and worked through the situation to a successful end.

  11. CrazyCatLady

    When an interviewer asks you to rate your Excel skills on a scale of 1-10, how do you even do this? I did an informal poll among friends, and all 3 rated themselves as 5, with one of them only knowing SUM formula, one of them not knowing any formulas, formatting, charts, pivot tables, etc, and one of them knowing how to use pivot tables and some basic formulas.

    I know VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX/MATCH, other formulas, pivot tables, graphs/charts, conditional formatting. I don’t know VBA, sometimes I have to play around with my more difficult formulas to get them exactly right, I can’t do any financial modeling, I don’t understand the statistical features of excel.

    What would you rate that? How would you rate yourself?

    1. Xarcady

      I’ve taken a few Excel tests for various temp agencies. I always come out with “Intermediate.”

      I know one or two basic formulas and have read about pivot tables, but never used them, but I can look up formulas and I’m real good at formatting.

      It really depends on how the person asking the question uses Excel. Most of the places I’ve worked use Excel as a database and not a spreadsheet, so formulas don’t matter much. Knowing how to change the border on a cell does.

      From your description, I’d guess that you fall into the “advanced” category, and you should rate yourself somewhere around 8 or 9. You might ask what aspect of Excel they are most concerned about and rate yourself on that. “Overall, I’m about an 8, but for X, I’m a 10 and for Y I’m about a 7.”

      1. CrazyCatLady

        I HATE Excel tests because I find that they’re either 1) very word based and/or 2) they only “approve” their way to do something. There’s a lot of ways to skin a cat in Excel and sometimes I feel like the people who design tests don’t know the most efficient ways of getting things done.

        1. xarcady

          Totally agree. In fact, every test I’ve taken for anything Microsoft Office, I’ve not been able to use keyboard shortcuts–and that’s what I use all day long. So you have to figure out their way of doing things, which is usually the longest possible way, and try that.

        2. Snarky McSnark

          My boss was very focused on Excel skills during my interview (as our office site has many people with low skill levels). I was able to impress him by telling him 2 tricks that he didn’t know. When I started off, he tried to get me to learn to use keyboard shortcuts (his preferred method), but I have quickly been able to show him that I am just as proficient using my mouse and keyboard combo that he has let it go.

          Based on what you mention I would say go with an 8 or 9 and say that you would like to learn more about macros, statistical, parts of excel.

          The downside to being an excel expert is that you become the excel expert. I spent 3 days building a sales tax calculator to be used by Credit/Operations teams that would automate 15 different calculations depending on the state, city, county, new/used vehicle and weight class.

          1. CrazyCatLady

            That sounds like something I’ve done (building crazy calculators) in a couple jobs. I don’t mind being the Excel expert just because I like it so much… but it definitely can become disruptive to my day.

        3. Anxa

          Oh yes!

          I have pretty minimal skills, but sometimes I’m doing things a certain way because I find it to be the most flexible across different platforms, other times I’ll want to do a quick sheet, still other times I’m investing in a template, other times I’m more interested in how it looks printed than how it functions.

    2. misspiggy

      I think a 7 or 8, with the supporting detail you’ve just given (assuming you can say that you use Excel frequently). It’s a really daft question because it doesn’t allow for people who don’t know what they don’t know, but all you can do is be as specific as possible.

        1. MP

          That is exactly right. I actually would have rated myself higher 5 years ago when I had no idea about half the things Excel was capable of!

          1. TL -

            Excel proficiency isn’t about knowing functions in Excel – it’s about knowing what Excel can do and being able to apply it to your work :) (you can Google anything but you have to know it’s a possibility first!)

    3. Oy

      I would rate yours probably an 8 or 9 out of 10. I’ve always thought I knew excel pretty well (I’ve worked in it exclusively for more than one job) but I know there is so much more functionality in it than I’ve ever used, and I would rate myself a 7-8/10. I know VLOOKUP, PivotTables, Text to Columns (and vice versa), conditional formatting, graphs and charts, and other general math functions.

    4. plain_jane

      I say that it is challenging to rate myself on Excel because it is such a powerful tool, and many people only use a small proportion of its capabilities. I may mention that I’m always learning new tricks and tools from colleagues who have come from other departments or teams. And then I reference that I’m very comfortable with x, y, z, but don’t use or write macros. Then I may ask the interviewer “So a 7 or 8?”

    5. AndersonDarling

      I would spell out the skills you have then suggest a number. I have major excel skills on the database side, but I know barely anything about making charts. I could rate myself a 7, but if the employer is really looking for someone who can make detailed, complicated charts, I would have 0 skills to help them.

      1. CrazyCatLady

        I think this is probably the best idea. That’s kind of what I did – I actually said “maybe 8” and then listed what I can do in Excel. I don’t know anything about the database side!

        1. Snarky McSnark

          Just an aside, excel should never be a “database”, if someone is using it like that, they should switch over to Access. Just because you can add 150 columns and 100,000 rows in Excel doesn’t mean you should.

          1. CrazyCatLady

            That’s exactly what I was thinking, so I was wondering if this person was doing something different? I was always told that the limitation of Excel is that it shouldn’t/can’t be a database.

      2. Anonymous Educator

        This is the best course of action. It’s kind of silly that the interviewer would even ask a number-based self-rating, because what would that even mean, even if it were “accurate”? So you say you’re a “10.” Does that mean you can do what they want you to do?

        I’ve seen a lot of workplaces say they need people “proficient in Excel,” and all they want is someone who can do data entry or copy and paste a formula. In other places, VLookUp is a basic requirement.

        Just say what you can do. Forget about the number.

    6. themmases

      Hmmm, I would rate myself an 8. I definitely don’t know everything (I don’t use VBA and although I can use lookups, my work rarely requires me to so I usually have to… Look it up :D). However, I taught myself everything I know about Excel, I am very good at everything I need to do for my own job, and I can figure it out on my own if I need something new. I can’t remember the last time I needed to have someone else train or fix an Excel issue for me, or turned in work that was wrong because of an Excel error on my part. So I’m very proficient but not a super user.

      IMO one of the most important things to know about Excel is when to stop using it. There have been plenty of times I probably could have implemented some advanced Excel trick, but that was because what I really needed was a database, a stats package, or to better protect data integrity while making an identical change to all the values of a column.

    7. Ad Astra

      My Excel skills are almost nonexistent, to the point of being a little embarrassing, but I’d still feel pressured to rate my skills as like a 5 in an interview. (In all other situations, I’d probably rate my skills as a 3.) Honestly, it’s not a very useful question to assess a candidate’s skills. It would be better to ask things like “What’s your experience with pivot tables?” or something.

    8. MaryMary

      I would ask the interviewer to tell me what a 10 is, because being an expert in Excel is so subjective. Some people would rate your skills as a 10, some of the actuaries or financial analysts I know would consider you a 6 or 7.

      1. Beezus

        That’s what I was scrolling around to suggest. I had a boss who thought I was a wizard for using a VLOOKUP. I can do everything you described plus some light VBA scripting, and I’m the most advanced Excel user on my current team; however, two of the teams my team works with have people who are pros at writing VBA code, and using Excel and Access to manage LARGE amounts of data, and in comparison to them I think rating myself as a 7 would be a teeny stretch, even.

        One thing I always try to fit into this conversation is how quickly I learn. Sure, I’m not familiar with a lot of features I haven’t needed to use in recent roles, but I pick up new programs so quickly that my MS Office professor in freshman year of college hired me as his TA, taught me a week’s worth of lessons in an hour on Monday, and then had me assist other students in his Tues/Thurs classes. What I’ve needed on the job now, I’ve always been able to learn quickly from a more advanced user, or Google it and figure it out for myself. I think that’s more important than coming into the job knowing what they need, because needs will always change.

        1. CrazyCatLady

          At least that boss thought you were a wizard! My boss seems to think that our ERP software comes up with the stuff I make / do on my own – no matter how often I tell him otherwise! haha.

    9. Catherine in Canada

      Hummmm, I came here today to ask about Excel. I’d like to move from “only knowing SUM formula” to a more skilled user.
      Can anyone suggest some good Excel courses?
      Preferably self-study, at my own pace? Not necessarily free but it’d be nice.

      Thanks!

      1. CrazyCatLady

        Yes! I know two great ones that I’ve taken. Chandoo dot org and My Online Training Hub. I’ll put links in below. They both have a variety of courses. Neither are free but both are well worth the money, in my experience.

        I’ve found that it helps me more to have an actual relevant need for the skills before it really sticks. I’m also convinced I can teach anyone at least pivot tables and vlookups, if they DON’T have a business case for it, as long as I can use a topic they do like or want to track.

        1. Catherine in Canada

          Thanks!
          Don’t actually have a need for Excel right now, this is more along the lines of not-having-all-my-eggs-in-one-basket. Tech writing may not last forever, I need a broader set of skills.

          1. CrazyCatLady

            It’s definitely useful for so many things (I use it constantly in my personal life as well). There are probably some cheaper classes on Udemy or something, though.

    10. Stranger than fiction

      That sounds like about an 8. But if I were you, I’d look at what makes these distinctions in actual Excel classes. What do they teach in beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes? That should help you answer honestly.

    11. JMM

      I recently had an interviewer ask me this as well. My skills seem similar to yours and I said a 7. Did they also ask you to rate yourself on Outlook and PowerPoint as well?

    12. Nicole

      I’d probably rate myself a 7 because I know a lot more than most of the people I know but I also realize there’s more to be learned.

      When my boss was hiring someone, I suggested he put together a little Excel test going over the main things he expected someone to do and he took my advice. It’s easy for someone to rate themselves highly and not know what you expect them to do; a test is a good way to validate that. At my old job a new hire said she knew Excel – all she knew was that it existed and how to type data into it. That was it. I don’t consider that a skill.

  12. AndersonDarling

    My husband was laid off 8 months ago and just got a good job offer. He was so upset with me because I wasn’t celebrating about it. He still has to pass a physical, background test, drug test and all that fun stuff. Hearing all the bad stories about candidates having goofy things happen during the venting stage and then having the offer pulled…I just can’t be happy until he gets his start date.
    But next Tuesday after the physical, then it will be party time! (I hope!)

    1. Meeeeeeeee

      It’s reasonable to be cautious, but it depends on how you communicate it. If you’re telling him “That’s great, I hope all the tests go well” or even “I’m happy for you but I have to say I don’t dare celebrate until you have the final confirmed offer in hand” that is reasonable. If you’re saying “Well we’ll just have to see if you make it through the tests. They can still easily pull the offer. I’ll believe it when I see it.” then I can understand him being upset.

      1. Azul

        +1. Not giving relationship advice at all, but it’s all in your delivery. If I was unemployed and had a job offer in hand, it would kind of make me sad if a friend or partner couldn’t take a few minutes to bask in my glory with me because they had doubts.

        1. AndersonDarling

          It was more of a “Great. When we get through everything we can go out and celebrate” kind of thing. He has a bad back and a bad knee, so failing the physical is a real possibility.
          He wanted to tell everyone about the job, but I wanted to wait. That was really the sticking point. If something happens, it would be awful to tell everyone that the job didn’t work out.

          1. Azul

            Hmm okay I see now. If I were him I probably wouldn’t feel too badly about it, but again, it could have been in your delivery. Were you deadpan? Or did you sound pleased but were simply trying to bring him down to earth? Regardless, I hope it all works out and this is all for naught!

          2. TootsNYC

            Maybe tell him you want to wait until the end of the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is lower?

    2. fposte

      I think this is a style difference. But it might be worth asking yourself what it would hurt if you celebrated now. It won’t jinx anything, because that’s not real, and he won’t be more disappointed because you were excited in the meantime.

      I say this as a fellow careful person. But in general we’re careful because it’s a protective reaction, and sometimes it’s worth asking what’s actually getting protected.

    3. MsChanandlerBong

      Considering my husband just had a job offer rescinded (see my post below), I’d say you’re smart not to celebrate just yet.

    4. Lady Bug

      There is something to be said fire celebrating “only” getting an offer, especially after 8 months of looking. Every day of unemployment makes you feel more and more worthless, even though you know you aren’t, and no matter how many times your spouse tells you that you aren’t (which is the equivalent of your mom saying you’re pretty). Getting an offer is like an affirmation that you aren’t worthless. You can celebrate the offer and still be aware it could fall through, and celebrate when it’s firmed up. Congrats to you and your husband.

      1. Doriana Gray

        Totally agree. I was out of work for almost a year after graduating from college and felt like the biggest loser in the world. When I finally got a job, even before things were firmed up, I celebrated my ass off because finally someone didn’t think I was useless.

      2. Anxa

        I agree with this.

        I myself can’t celebrate anything because I’m alwasy waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I’ve been looking for long-term full-time employment for 7 years without success.

        But there have been victories along the way and moments of feeling worthwhile that I wish I had reveled in a little longer.

  13. Xarcady

    Totally weird week at work. This is my temp job, while I’m looking for a full-time job. Been temping here in various capacities for a year.

    Monday, I thought I’d made a huge mistake on a job. Immediately told my supervisor and we tried to work out how it happened. Then Supervisor got very quiet and asked, “Did you use this document to check the figures, or this one?” I’d used the first one.

    Turns out, there were edits in the first one that should have been made to the second doc. Turns out using the first doc, which I shouldn’t have done in the normal course of things, was in this one instance, the right thing to do.

    However, Supervisor then had to go back and check about 50 more documents and discovered the same mistake in the reference docs on all of them. Emergency meeting was called (fortunately I didn’t have to attend.) Much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the department that should have made the changes and did not. Overtime for me to fix everything.

    It’s Friday now. One person from the other department has been let go. A temp in that department is now very grateful to me, as he just got hired full-time.

    I feel–horrible that someone lost their job, exhausted because of all the overtime to make all the changes to meet the client’s deadline, happy for the other temp, sad that I still don’t have a real job, relieved that what looked like a “lose your job” type of mistake on my part didn’t lose me my temp job.

    Add in typical holiday stress–I still need to bake cookies, will the packages I mailed arrive on time, I’m out of wrapping paper and there are still gifts to be wrapped, when am I going to fit in the new Star Wars movie when I’m working two jobs–and I really just want to dig a hole and crawl inside and hibernate for the rest of the winter.

    1. Anna

      Wow! That is a weird week. Just remember it’s not your fault the person lost their job. They clearly weren’t doing their job and that stuff tends to show up eventually.

      I hope you’re able to take a little bit of time for yourself soon. It sounds like you deserve it.

    2. Meeeeeeeee

      I have also felt a mix of emotions when finding other people’s mistakes. On one hand it is no fun to have to point out mistakes, everyone feels terrible about it. Especially with these consequences I can understand being upset. On the other hand of course it is better to find the mistake, so you did a good job, you were thorough, and you should be proud of yourself. It is not your fault the other person lost their job. The fact that the mistake was made is not your fault!

      1. Biff

        I turned cardboard boxes inside out, so they just showed their plain brown sides, and then I dressed them up with ribbons. As an added bonus, they were quite sturdy (had to be shipped.) Alternative wrapping is great AND more environmentally friendly.

        1. FutureLibrarian

          Brown paper is all the rage for the fashion/makeup bloggers on YouTube, so you’re right on trend!

      2. TootsNYC

        Someone at work turned paper shopping bags inside out (to hide the logo) and doodled stripes or printing, etc., on them. Looked great!

    3. Lee Ann

      Unless your place is very dysfunctional, that mistake was probably just that person’s last straw – we had a perfectly useless co-worker once who managed to get every person on the team absolutely refusing to work with him because he simply didn’t do *anything*. My nickname for him was Coffeecup because I could have done my job *and* more work than he ever did just by drinking an extra cup of coffee.

      And even then it took *months* to fire him, during which the manager had to keep doing things to try to “help him improve”.

    1. Anie

      Best: Holiday bonus for the win!!!

      Worst: COO craftily stole my negotiating power for a job change in the new year….

    2. Bekx

      Best: I won a raffle for a $100 gift card for donating to charity/our united way fund (I did a charity though)
      Worst: I just sent an email out to 15k people with the wrong phone number on it. I knew the rep got a new phone, so I checked the phone directory for his number and it still had the wrong number on it :(

    3. Azul

      Best: The holiday luncheon this week was great; it was nice seeing people with their “hair down” and not talking about work for once.

      Worst: My workload is just crazy intense. I mean, I have made no dents in my to-do list for weeks now and the burn out is super real.

      1. Afiendishthingy

        Ugh I hear you on the second one! And most of my coworkers are also super busy/overwhelmed right now, our department was reorganized recently, which isn’t necessarily bad but its a chaotic transition. And then huge changes are happening at the state level thaf affect us – again, I think they’re ultimately going to be neutral-to-good consequences for us but the transition is crazy disorganized and nobody seems to really now exactly how a bunch of crucial processes are going to happen in the new system. But yes… Office Yankee Swap was fun

    4. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

      best- officially the associate photographer / assistant to a local photographer who’s style complements mine and I’m excited to work with her more!
      worst- these disrespectful patients, I can’t take this much longer, people are so mean!

    5. F.

      Best: This will be the first week since January that I will work only 40 hours.
      Worst (runner-up): Had to fire someone for cause yesterday. He knew it was coming, but it still hurts, especially during the holidays.
      Worst (grand prize): Found out the accountant has been getting paid for her OT this year, despite being salaried-exempt. Albeit it is at straight rate, but it still amounts to thousands of dollars. I’m feeling very, very angry and betrayed right now.

      1. Juli

        Ugh, that’s awful. Was the accountant the one you had to fire or is that disciplinary still coming?

        Those situations SUCK.

        1. F.

          No, had to fire one of the other workers yesterday. Can’t fire the accountant. She’s the only one in the whole company who knows how to do payroll and billing. (don’t even get me started on how shortsighted that is!)

          1. Revolver Rani

            Am I reading this right – an employee has deliberately embezzled from you (surely the accountant of all people would knew she wasn’t entitled to overtime)? And you can’t fire her? :/

            1. F.

              No, she wasn’t embezzling (though we did have an accountant embezzle over $2MM a couple of years ago), she made an agreement with the company owner to pay her for her time so she wouldn’t quit.

                1. F.

                  I am also salaried-exempt and have nearly 300 hours of uncompensated OT in the past 17 months, so you can see why I’m upset.

        1. Judy

          Well, companies can choose to do whatever they please above what the law requires.

          I’ve been paid straight time overtime maybe 5 or 6 times in my 20 year career as an engineer. Usually it was when there was a huge push for something and they wanted to entice us to work longer. But certainly, there have been more times that I’d get a $100-$500 bonus at the completion of a project that required significantly more time than 40 per week.

          1. Judy

            I also know of companies that will pay straight time OT for engineers who work more than 50 hours a week. Anything between 40 & 50 are on you, but once you’ve gone to 51, you get paid for the 11 hours at straight time. I understand the highest levels of management are trying to force the engineering managers to plan their team’s workload correctly.

        2. GlorifiedPlumber

          Seconding Judy’s response. I am exempt but get straight time OT for billable work over 40. It ends up accounting for 10% of my gross at the year end, very common in engineering companies that “bill” a client for lack of better description.
          Perhaps the accountant is in the same situation? OR, perhaps a glitch… as suggested. Wah wah.

    6. Not a Real Giraffe

      Worst: Dealing with an overseas higher-up who thinks she can whine her way into a solution that is 100% not practical.
      Best: Sending her an email to stop the whining, and having my boss reply separately to me to say she liked what I said and how I said it. Validation rocks!

    7. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

      Best: I love my job. Each day I look forward to going to work in the morning, and each night I look forward to seeing my family. I feel very, very fortunate.

      Worst: I’ve decided to stop using Facebook, and I’m currently going through “withdrawals.” How sad it that?

      1. Charlotte

        Re your best–me too! I feel very, very fortunate, too.
        Worst–completing a quarter of an assignment because I misunderstood what was wanted. Not entirely my fault since the assignment wasn’t completely clear, but I wish I were better at anticipating these things!

    8. HeyNonnyNonny

      Best: I found out that my new job transfer is still going forward, and my new boss is already being amazing! Also, since I’m changing jobs, I get to burn all my PTO over the next few weeks– very convenient!

      Worst: For once, I have nothing.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Serves me right for tempting fate…

        Worst: Just found out they’re finally making the position I’m leaving a permanent one. I’m glad they realized they need someone here, but it’s annoying I had to leave for that to happen.

    9. Carmen Sandiego JD

      best:
      -Referred for a teapot atty job, govt.
      -Got mall gift card from aunt and uncle
      -Got sworn in. I’m an attorney!!!
      worst:
      -Wondering where my career will be 1 year from now
      -The mall gift card from aunt & uncle had card saying congrats on a new job…from last yr, and I’ve since switched jobs (3x, teapot contracts), but well. It’s the thought that counts, no? (Favoritism runs in the family, I’ve always drawn the short stick. Ie. My cousin got her community college paid for 5 times over bc she switched majors multiple times, and at age 35 hasn’t graduated. Meanwhile, I’m 20something, an attorney, and had to rough it w/o extended fam…)
      -Elevators at new job reek of cigarette smoke. Then it gets on my suit. Siigh

      1. NGL

        Best:
        -Being trusted with progressively more important documents/communication at the (still relatively new) job
        -Going out tonight with friends/co-workers from Old Job to celebrate a birthday!

        Worst:
        Having to get all of these important documents/communications in line ASAP because most of the office starts dropping off like flies after today.

    10. ACA

      Best: Today is my last day in the office until January 4th!
      Worst: I will still probably end up working from home instead of relaxing because I’m trying to schedule guest lecturers for a class and half the people won’t email me back and the other half all want the same date.

    11. Tess McGill

      Best: My friend from England is visiting her family for Christmas. Drove an hour and had an awesome lunch with her on Tuesday. Also managed to pull out some Christmas decorations and actually put them up/out. This is HUGE since we are still unpacking/in boxes.
      Worst: Pretty much the rest of the week. Post-moving/holiday depression has set in and I’m just not feeling the Christmas spirit. I’ll get there, but dang this is tough.

    12. Shannon

      Best: Straight A’s this semester.
      Worst: Have to have windshield on car replaced because of a stray rock.

    13. A is for A

      Worst: Spending 4 hours of my day on Tuesday typing up meeting minutes for a 3-hour long committee meeting that I attended (which I shouldn’t have attended), which is NOT in any scope of my position. My boss didn’t like the way her administrative assistant wrote things, so instead of trying to work on that with her, she told me that I had to do it. From scratch, and from her assistant’s notes (she refused to send me when her assistant actually typed).

      Best: I got all my finals graded and final grades in for my side job (Adjunct teaching). So now I don’t have to worry about working two jobs until January 11!!!!!

    14. louise

      Best – won a small gift card to a restaurant when I attended an appreciation lunch this week

      Worst – work Christmas party is this Sunday. I don’t enjoy hanging out with any of my co-workers and my husband (who I *do* enjoy hanging out with) can’t attend because of a schedule conflict. So I’ll be by myself listening to small talk about concealed weapons from people who love Trump.

    15. Holly

      Best: got a raise, an $800 bonus and lots of great feedback about my performance

      Worst: got comments that I need to work on my professionalism and that one of the Principals complained about me having “low energy,” that I write “young” and talk “young”, that my cube isn’t as professional, etc. Lovely. Also got called into HR and told my dress was too short – it was 3″ above the knee instead of 2″, so valid, but it was immediately after the comments about my professionalism. Also, later asked our benefits manager about how to access a benefit the company offers (I’m only 6 months into working here) and she got super snippy. I’m ready for the weekend.

      1. Random Lurker

        Ugh, sorry about the HR visit. I’ve been there – I once got called in because I was wearing peep toe pumps, and someone complained that it was in violation of the dress code that says no flip flops because nobody wants to see your toes.

        Makes you wonder about the people who complain about these things. Don’t they have better things to do?

        1. Holly

          Ugh, I know! I mean, I’m not disputing it at all, just… it was hardly a new dress. I’ve worn it tons of times at the office. And I’m always extremely careful not to have something inappropriate show or whatever. Super careful.

          It’s making me look around like “okay, who here doesn’t like me?”

          1. Bowserkitty

            I felt like that yesterday. I think my dress came up 4″ above my knee. I used to wear it all the time and it was fine. Nobody said anything, and I was entirely covered up yesterday, but I was still very self-conscious when I realized it.

            Today I wore pants to be safe. I hate pants. *grumble*

    16. Kat M2

      Best: My husband and I got into the Peace Corps
      Worst: All the EOY paperwork I have to do before holiday vacation

          1. Jo

            Congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment and an amazing opportunity. Also, I just went to Morocco for two weeks on vacation and loved every minute of it, so you’ll have a fantastic time :)

    17. Hlyssande

      Best: After today, I’m off for two weeks. AND we have the fancy department holiday lunch complete with drawings for nice things – and everyone gets a $20 target card even if they didn’t win the drawings. It’s completely voluntary, with good food and only a brief word from the division president.

      Worst: Impostor syndrome is hitting me something fierce. Last week I mentioned performance reviews and while that went very well, seeing the supervisor’s comments along with mine (even though I got an ‘exceeds expectations’) really messed me up. After 10 years here, I should be over that by now. I really should.

    18. Somov

      Best: Won a drawing at the Holiday Luncheon for $100 in gift cards
      Worst: Won the pity drawing after not winning the collaboration award, which is what I truly wanted this year

    19. MostCommonLastName

      Worst: Our office is having an archway put in as well as several new desks, so there’s a lot of noise and I keep getting switched to different temporary desks (though at least the one I’m in now is warm)

      Best: Officially signed my first publishing contract so I’m a real author now!

    20. Random Lurker

      Worst: my boss has been blowing me off and making it difficult for me to raise issues to him.
      Best:
      TL;DR: broke rules of gift giving and it was well received.

      Long version: I have a staff of 15. Funding holiday gifts out of my pocket is very expensive, and honestly, something I don’t enjoy doing. The amount of whining and griping every year makes me wonder why I bother. In the past, I’ve given gifts ranging from Godiva (complaint: processed sugar) to Amazon gift cards (complaint: support local business). Unfortunately, my husband had some unexpected medical issues this year, so my budget to take care of my staff was around $150. Not a lot of options.

      Earlier this month, I had to go to Germany to visit a customer. My team was awesome about getting me everything I needed for my presentation, supporting my asks during the meeting, and overall, behaving while I was out (has also been a problem in the past). I wondered by a Christmas market while in Germany and picked up each staff member a little handmade Christmas tree ornament. Because I’m cheesy, I got ones with their names on it. Cost: €7.50 each. I came home, wrote them each a personalized card, wrapped them up, and delivered them on Wednesday.

      I was shocked at how well received it was! They were very touched that I was thinking of them during a very important trip. For the first time ever, nobody complained! They even gave me a collective “thank you” card. It really felt wonderful.

      So much stress over gifts, and sometimes it’s the simple, personalized things that pay off.

      1. Revolver Rani

        Your staff has the nerve to whine and gripe at you about gifts? I would far rather have chocolate or a gift card than a personalized Christmas ornament (for which I have no use, as I do not celebrate Christmas, and as it’s personalized I couldn’t even give it to a friend who does). But you know what? If I were on your staff, and I received an ornament, you would never hear anything from me beyond a gracious thank you. What the hell is wrong with people? Ungracious behavior is childish.

        1. Random Lurker

          I used to take the complaints personally and get angry. But I figured out over the years that when I try to please everyone, I please no one.

          I think the reason the ornament was a success was because it was tied to a specific event at work that they helped support. It was symbolic of them being there with me. Personally, I’d rather get a gift card too, but given the difficulties I am having with my management right now, a simple accolade or acknowledgement of my contribution would be far more meaningful.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            “You cannot please everyone, you are not pizza.”
            “Hey! That crust isn’t gluten free!”
            *sigh*

    21. Slimy Contractor

      Best/worst: The Fridge Wars at work are escalating. It started last week when someone cleaned out the fridge (it needed it), but didn’t pay attention to expiration dates. The next day there was a note on the fridge about how you should check expiration dates before you throw stuff away. Then there was a note that said, “Effective immediately, everything in the fridge will be thrown away on Friday.” And it was! Including my soy sauce and my reusable gel ice pack. There were three or four more notes on the fridge this week, including one that said, “Who is doing this??” and one that said, “SHOW YOURSELF.” I may have lost some soy sauce and an ice pack, but the entertainment value more than makes up for it! Can’t wait to see what happens this weekend!

      1. Bowserkitty

        They had that policy at Old Job but sometimes were nice and left bigger things, like frozen things.

        However, I did have two coworkers, on separate occasions, lose an expensive lunch bag and a glass Pyrex container. (-_-)

          1. Slimy Contractor

            Yeah, there are other fridges in other departments that have their policies laid out clearly on a sign on the door of the fridge. You have fair warning that your stuff gets pitched on the last Friday of the month, or whatever. This fridge has never had a policy or a policy enforcer. TBH, I wouldn’t mind a little policy enforcement in the fridge–it gets pretty out-of-control sometimes. But since I don’t want to do it myself, I guess that means I occasionally lose a bottle of soy sauce. :)

            1. Bowserkitty

              Boo, I thought you were talking about packets, not a full bottle! I guess it’s a small price to pay for general cleanliness (we’re doing a fridge dethawing today across the hall from me).

        1. Slimy Contractor

          I tend to side with the person who actually takes the initiative to clean out the fridge. I’ve been that person, and I am not going to spend my time carefully washing the nauseating science project out of your Pyrex container. If you’ve left it there for three months, I’m going to assume you don’t need it. I was perturbed about the ice pack, because it was thrown away before the warning note, but for all I know the thing could have started leaking without my knowledge and needed to be thrown away.

      2. another IT manager

        I have never refrigerated soy sauce! I figure the salt prevents any nasties from growing, and so far I’ve been right. (Other condiments get refrigerated, but not soy sauce.)

        1. Slimy Contractor

          You know, after I realized my soy sauce was missing, I suddenly thought, “Wait, soy sauce stays out on the table in Chinese restaurants.” My mom always put it in the fridge, so I always have too, heh. There’s one problem solved! (I bought a new ice pack and put it in a different department’s fridge, with my name, cubicle number, and phone extension written on it.)

    22. Small town reporter

      Best: I found out on Monday that my newspaper won five awards in the state newspaper contests. I won’t know what place until the convention in a few weeks, but I do know that they were all editorial content stuff, including two body of work reporting awards. It’s a really cool affirmation of what I’m doing here.
      Worst: The county governing board cornered me to hint that I shouldn’t attend a public meeting next month about public employee salaries because the people who set the salaries (all volunteer, all appointed and they only meet this one time a year) felt like they couldn’t have an open discussion with a reporter in the room. Which, I mean yeah, I get it you have less privacy with the public watching, but that’s kind of the idea. And kind of my job. (As an aside, I think this county is the most fiscally responsible governmental agency I’ve ever seen and, if anything, the employees are probably underpaid, so it’s not like I’m sitting there with some agenda to make anyone look bad. It’s just that I’m a reporter and I cover meetings. Especially ones involving money.)

      1. Not So NewReader

        You’ll have to let us know how this one plays out. I know some boards will have an executive session, meaning no one attends and other boards will simply ask the reporter not to relate certain comments made in passing, especially if the comments have no bearing on the overall discussion. I cannot imagine what they would say in front of the public that they would not say in front of a reporter.

        1. Small town reporter

          When I covered it last year, I’d been on the job here for only about 6 weeks and they had NEVER had a reporter come before. What I learned this week was that the board wanted to dock one set of elected officials’ pay because one official was routinely missing a month to six weeks of meetings (because elected officials could do that), but they didn’t want to say that with me there. Apparently having a reporter there stifles discussion a lot — and one of the salary board people decided to resign for this year because he is a businessman who didn’t want anything he said reflecting negatively on him.
          The obnoxious side of me wants to just emphasize that it’s a public meeting and reporters should be there. And if the salary folks opt to “think about it” and decide by email, that I’ll file a complaint with the state board that oversees public meetings. This salary group cannot, by law, go into executive session. But it’s such a small town, I personally know several of the salary people from other community activities and I know that while they’re uncomfortable talking in front of me, it’s not because they want to be shady or unethical. It’s because they have legitimate concerns and complaints but would never dream of publicly embarrassing someone. This is the only meeting anyone here has ever been unhappy to see me there.

            1. Small town reporter

              I guess I referred more to my tone of voice. There’s an obnoxious way to say it that all but guarantees people won’t want to talk to you and there’s a way that is nicer about it. But I really appreciate that you recognize that it’s an important process! I obviously agree. I actually enjoy meetings like that, because I enjoy seeing how things, especially government work and writing about them in a way that the community can understand what happens.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Email? Nooooo…. cannot be making decisions by email nooooooooo.

            If it were my board we’d consult legal and see what our responsibilities are. If a board is going to reprimand one of its own, how do you handle what goes in the news? Hopefully, this board will do the same and arrive at a conclusion that makes sense given the situation.

            We like our reporter. She has even been able to contribute to discussions by showing what other entities have done in situations similar to ours.
            I think wait and see what happens. You might want to check with your boss, too, just to find out how this shakes out legally for your company. I think you should go to the meeting, though. Deciding to write about it is a separate decision.
            I am lucky, my board is hugely interested in being transparent. We invite people to have inputs. No one does, of course.

    23. GlorifiedPlumber

      Oooh… fun first question!

      Best: 1) Made official engineering process lead of 170 million dollars of process scope within a larger project with uncertain deliverables and a shoddy design basis… only 8.5 years experience. Freak out? Don’t mind if I do. 2) Settled in back in the main office versus out onsite, and I finally get to see a lot of coworkers I really like much more often as we all come back to the mothership vs. every 6 months.

      Worst: 1) Wife and I finally starting the house searching/buying process in a city with a competitive market and only 1.9 months inventory. I need to be medicated and it’s only been 4 days. 2) Inlaws confirmed they are flying in Sunday… staying for… ugh 6 days.

      1. Snargulfuss

        I totally identify with your worst #1. I’m currently house hunting. I thought that looking over the winter would mean less competition, but apparently not. I have a low budget so I’m competing with a bunch of investors who just snatch things up as quickly as they can to turn around and flip them. I hate the pressure of feeling like a have to make a quick decision on something that will affect my entire financial future. Also, my landlords just sold the rental I’m living in, so I now have the added pressure of closing on my own home purchase before my lease ends in a couple of months. Ugh, I am so completely stressed out, but not for the usual holiday stress reasons.

        1. GlorifiedPlumber

          Yikes… that is a situation that sounds horrible. :( I cannot imagine the pressure of choreographing something like that… especially when 1) finding the house you like is random 2) winning a bidding war is random.

          Might be time to call it… wait a bit, and find a 6 month lease somewhere to get some breathing room… but then you have to move twice. :(

    24. grumpy career changer

      Best:
      Word has gotten out to my colleagues that I am leaving the organization, and at the holiday party this week people who I thought had never formed an opinion of me came up and told me how glad they are to have worked together, how useful they found my training classes, and how much positive feedback they have heard about me from our clients.

      Worst: I am leaving for a great new opportunity, but one of my colleagues is getting laid off because of a seasonal decrease in customers. I feel bad being so cheerful about my future when she is in a really frustrating situation. I’ve gotta say, though, she has been so professional about it.

          1. grumpy career changer

            Well, not enough to make me stay in this case, but enough to give me some confidence in my next role. And to teach me to tell people how valuable they are more often, myself!

    25. Audiophile

      Best: I love my new job! I’m trying to keep all the excitement in check, since it hasn’t even been a month, but it’s hard.

      Worst: I got fired from my old job, for not showing up when I didn’t know I was working. I’m kind of ok with it, because I didn’t really want t go back.

    26. Applesauced

      Best: it’s my last day at work, I’m leaving on great terms and last night was a really fun holiday party
      Worst: I’m a tiny bit hungover today :(

      1. Jules the First

        Best (my work): it’s my last day in the office before Christmas and I’m on track to finish everything on my to-do-before-the-end-of-the-year list!

        Best (someone else’s work): my solicitor is a miracle-worker who managed to turn around the paperwork on my new house in less than 48 hours, so I could move in before Christmas (everyone else in my building won’t get to move in until January). It normally takes 10 working days.

        Worst: the last task on my to-do list is to summarise all the client feedback we’ve received in the last 12 months and pull out themes for our creative teams to work on in 2016…interesting in itself, but very, very, very, politically delicate!

    27. Catherine in Canada

      Best: I won the Instant Wine Cellar. $10 and a bottle of wine gets you a raffle ticket. The money goes the the local children’s hospital and the wine gets split between two winners. I won 27 bottles of very nice wine.
      Worst: Found out one of my sons, his wife and son will be going to Cuba for Christmas. While I certainly agree he needs a good holiday, and this is the only time that he can go, he’s the first the “break tradition” and it’s hard.

    28. lfi

      worst: i made a mistake that my boss made two weeks ago. it involves some people have incorrect deductions on their paychecks. i feel like the worlds biggest moron. i might get written up.. but the employees that i’ve talked to who are getting refunds have been very kind. (and we’re talking 50 people out of 3500.. but still. i will never make this mistake again).

      best: several employees telling me how much they appreciate my hard work.

    29. anonanonanon

      Best: Managed to score tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway for my birthday in June!! I.AM.SO.EXCITED. I can barely contain my excitement and I don’t know how I’ll be able to wait six months.

      Worst: Our CEO at work confirmed that there would be layoffs in January, but no word on what departments or who might be at risk, and I’ll probably spend the next few weeks panicking about it.

    30. Bowserkitty

      Best: I was involved in a potluck for a select handful of the administrative employees and it was one of my first times since starting 2.5 months ago that I’ve truly gotten to socialize with everybody. I’d been having a blegh day, so it was REALLY nice. And I discovered we do NOT fxxk around when it comes to food days here. I couldn’t believe the spread. It went through two rooms. I think there’s leftovers for today so I’ll be moseying on over shortly.

      Worst: I think imposter syndrome is creeping up on me. And I’m not sure what my boss is thinking, ever. I came from a highly toxic work environment with a boss who was so high-strung that I’m second-guessing everything that happens here at the new place. Now that Big Project from last week is done (what a load off!) I’m almost twiddling my thumbs here and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. sigh.

      1. Bowserkitty

        I should iterate that I’ve made some stupid mistakes and I’m still well within my probationary period. My former boss was the type to chew me out for the littlest things, even if they weren’t directly something I’d done. My current boss tells me it’s fine. WHAT IF IT ISN’T. I know I’m still new but aghhhh…

        Hello, paranoia.

      2. Bowserkitty

        My boss just came in here and gave me a new assignment that involves actively seeking out training for future responsibilities, so I think my paranoia is lessened :)

    31. Carrie in Scotland

      Best: it’s gone 5pm on Friday so it’s the weekend!!

      Worst: everything else work related. This job just isn’t for me.

    32. matcha123

      Worst: Just too tired to work.

      Best: Not that much to do at work aside from browse Ask a Manager. Looking forward to our work end-of-the-year party this Tuesday!

    33. Overeducated and underemployed

      Best: on my way home, to change fast and then leave again for a stretch interview! Also have a prospect for a few months of temp work that would be a good resume builder. I am SO ready to leave my current job, I am dying for one of these to work out.

      Worst: I think I was too honest with the former supervisor who has the temp job. He asked if there was any possibility I would leave for a permanent job part way through, and I told him that my only prospects were an interview from last week that I should hear about any time, and the stretch interview today. Stressed that I am not counting on either and expect to be available, but he could still decide it too much of a risk. So nervous! Wishing i’d played my cards closer to the vest, just opened up because I know him.

    34. Rat Racer

      Best: I got a present from the VP of National Sales for all the content I developed for him this year. It was a tin of fancy treats. I was beyond thrilled and was literally hopping around the room. It’s not the treats, it’s being acknowledged by a department I don’t even work for. I am a cheap date.

      Worst: Am in a turf war with an analytics team. They take FOREVER to deliver ANYTHING and because I dabble in programming, I’ve started asking them to just give me the damn flat file and I’ll analyze it myself. Their VP is mad at me for doing his team’s job for them. “This Rat should not be writing code! She doesn’t know what she’s doing!” Fine, dude, then free up more resources so that your team can get me my data on time. This thing was due a month ago. (And actually, I am a pretty good programmer, thank you very much!)

    35. BRR

      Best: I’m rocking my new job. Also my husband passed a phone screen for a wonderful new job

      Worst: husband isn’t doing great at his current job. It’s a super toxic environment.

      1. Ambervalent

        This is me, except my partner’s the one with the new job and I’m the one passing phone screens (and getting an offer for my #2 choice!) in order to leave a toxic work environment.

        Congrats to you, and best of luck to him! Hang in there.

    36. Macedon

      Best: got told to f off a grand total of 12 times this week, 40pc down on average levels. But Friday not over yet.

      Worst: I’ve done 0 Christmas shopping and am looking at 10-14 hour shifts til the 23rd, minus Sunday. Should be good.

    37. Kassy

      Best: bought a great dress for hubby’s Christmas party tomorrow, despite being 3 months pregnant and having gained a little weight already
      Worst: Was late to work today because I am SO. TIRED.

    38. literateliz

      Best: White Elephant exchange in the department I recently transferred to (so it was my first one). I ended up with a pair of mugs that I’m SUPER chuffed about, and my gift (an umbrella), which I was afraid would look super dumb and be ignored, was stolen a whole bunch of times, which was very gratifying. El Nino is coming, people! ;)

      Worst: My work holiday party was last night, and my boyfriend got sick, so I panicked and skipped it. Even though I had just told a bunch of coworkers I was going. Now I am super embarrassed. (And it sounds like it was fun, too!)

      1. literateliz

        Wow, rereading that… everything is just super super. Super. I am an editor and probably shouldn’t edit anything today, haha.

      2. moss

        that sounds fun! My old office used to do White Elephant and it was so much fun. There was a framed photograph of a coworker waving that would make the rounds every year. I miss it! That’s the only thing I miss, haha.

      3. Amy M. HR

        I know the fear of wondering if people will like your gift, or if you will be the one with the lame gift!

    39. Nom d' Pixel

      Best: Interviewing for a position in another department that I applied for 2 months ago.
      Worst: Trying to figure out how to tell our VP that the reason I want a transfer is because our executive director is horrible. He has been letting get away with vague answers, but I can tell he isn’t satisfied. I don’t want to tell the truth if I don’t get the job because I will still have to work for the toxic director.

    40. Silver Radicand

      Best: Set a goal number to start getting caught up on employee reviews by today and I am almost done already!

      Worst: My grandmother went in for open heart surgery on Wednesday and has had complications. She is in the ICU and I have been waiting two days for word on whether she will make it or not.

    41. Natalie

      Best: we did a puzzle room yesterday as a team building activity and it was super fun! I would definitely do it again. It makes a pretty solid team building activity, IMO – I know people often don’t like those, but this doesn’t require anyone to do anything silly or physical, just help solve the room puzzle.

      Worst: Final tomorrow that I don’t feel super prepared for.

      Mixed: We are rearranging duties and such to put things back the way they were a year or two ago. This is what I want, basically – I will no longer have to work with this team I don’t like in another city and my line manager becomes someone in my office, but it’s also really hard to shake the feeling that I’ve failed somehow. Anyway, still looking for another job since there still isn’t any ability to learn or advance here, but at least things will be more tolerable until I find a new job.

    42. Elizabeth West

      Best: I really don’t have anything, except that my coworker gave me a packet of Harry Potter gift wrap (she was cleaning LOL). Yay!

      Worst: I don’t really have anything bad either, which is good. :)

    43. Amy M. HR

      Worst: One of our best nurses just quit, she gave a two week notice two days ago, but I was literally just handed her badge, she’s done. Great nurse, great person, just issues beyond our control so she is leaving. :-(

      Best: This unfortunate situation gives me tons of paperwork to do, and as I had nothing on my plate for this afternoon this will keep me busy. Also, all my Christmas shopping is DONE! I do not have to try to brave the mall or Target this weekend. :-)

    44. Doriana Gray

      Best: I just came back from my soon-to-be new division’s Christmas party. The AVP of the division invited me, and it was a lot of fun to sit around and eat with everyone. I knew most of the people in the division prior to attending, but I saw a lot of people I never met before, so it was nice to be included even though I don’t start until January.

      Worst: For those of you familiar with my job hunt saga, I received an offer yesterday from the external company I interviewed for right before Thanksgiving. Now I have to decline the job today. It’s so sad because I really liked the hiring manager, and she called me Wednesday to let me know the offer was forthcoming, and she said I was delightful and she so wants me to come work on her team. I know it’s just business and people decline jobs all the time, but I still feel really bad about it.

    45. Terra

      Worst: Due to bad management planning this month has been super stressful and everyone is stressed and snappish.

      Best: This is the last day I work until January and since I’m non-exempt there is no working from home. So yay for 2 weeks downtime.

    46. Alma

      Best: I got the keys to the house I’m moving into yesterday. It has a professional gas range – I missed that the first time I saw it!!!

      Worst: now I have to deal with The Move. It is on my own dime – and the act of getting all my belongings into storage last time was chaotic. I fear a lot of damage. Oh, please please please let me get this done before the end of the year!!

    47. Master Bean Counter

      Best-Work holiday gift of a dozen home made tamales.
      Worst-Hating myself for braking down and actually cleaning the break room table. There are people here that have that in their regular job duties. But they are all disgusting pigs. Since I am now required to take a 30 minute break and eat in the break room or leave, I needed a place where I could eat.

    48. Voluptuousfire

      Best: great note from one of my colleagues, to my manager, extolling my virtues. Tomorrow; hot stone massage as Xmas present to myself

      Worst: Monday due to a PMS induced minor anxiety attack when I got home.

      This is really the first job I’ve ever had where I get consistent, positive feedback and it’s great! I always know where I stand and I’m never left feeling confused or in the dark.

    49. Bens Admin

      Worst: I have been swamped for going on 2 weeks now, with no clear end in sight. I like my job, but I spent most of the last year generally underworked and now in December everything is getting dumped on me. (I’m in benefits – it’s the normal end of year open enrollment type things with a number of extra one-off kinks related to company ownership and ACA, and certain vendors who waited well over a year to report billing discrepancies to us. All these “kinks” are proving to be very time-consuming). I was so stressed yesterday that I was shivering from poor circulation all day and I was crying at my desk TWICE.
      Best: One of the aforementioned kinks has (cross fingers) been taken over by a vendor and good lord I could just throw a party.

    50. going anon for this

      Best – cleaned my desk a bit

      Worst – I have both a full time job and part time job at a university. At my part time job, they have not paid me for any work since OCTOBER. I have submitted my hours and they wouldn’t approve them once so I spoke to them and resubmitted them and they still haven’t been approved. I have sent an e-mail and followed up with a phone call. GRR. I want the money I earned. I am worried that I will have to go to HR. I don’t want to be a trouble maker but jeez louise.

        1. going anon for this

          The trouble is that at the part time job, supervisor before this one was arrested and escorted off campus so this new temp supervisor is still learning the job. This isn’t the only disaster that is happening there and I don’t want to add to the drama or be labeled a troublemaker. I just want my money drama free and it looks like it just isn’t going to happen that way.

          1. Observer

            It doesn’t make a difference. If it were a couple of weeks, that would be one thing. 2 and half months is another, and there is no excuse for it.

            You are worrying WAY too much here. If going to HR to get your back pay taken care of gets you labeled as a troublemaker, you are working working for the Red Queen, and you need to start looking for a new job.

    51. Retail Gal

      Best: A co-worker who’s slightly senior in position to me, and senior in experience at my job, gave me a compliment about how she wants me and another co-worker on her team. “Retail Gal and are efficient and learn quick. You can’t teach that.”
      Worst: Between this job, my other job, and some personal stuff, my nerves are shot. It doesn’t help that for the past three weeks, I’ve been waking up at 5:30a, 4:30a, or 3:45a for work…every. single. day. I will FINALLY get to sleep in on Wednesday. I just need to get through January 10th (Inventory), and I think I’ll be able to relax a little.

  14. CherryScary

    Digging for advice for my fiancee, who is looking to get out of the tech support call center and into a job that is not as focused on dealing with angry customers.

    Has anyone made a similar transition?
    What did you highlight as transferrable skills? (We’ve been brainstorming on this one)
    What kind of position did you move into? (His options are fairly open, but he’s struggling with what to look for.)
    Any other anecdotes/advice etc would be appreciated! (He can’t get here during the day, hence me chiming in.)

    1. Sunshine Brite

      I haven’t made a similar transition, but scheduling came to my mind. Still needs strong phone skills, but usually people are in a slightly less angry.

    2. Anon the Great and Powerful

      I did tech support in a call centre, then moved into hotels. Hotel guests are still angry but none of them ever threatened my life, so it was an improvement. Then I used my hotel experience to get into travel writing, then I used those clips to get into copywriting.

      Transferable skills would be things like problem solving, working under extreme pressure, etc.

    3. Oy

      Reception somewhere might be an option. Not everyone has phone skills (or those who do suck as customer service). Reception and scheduling kind of go hand-in-hand at many places. Look at perhaps investment or insurance companies, they hire people specifically to make calls and schedule appointments.

    4. Florida

      Maybe something in sales that is done primarily over the phone. I’m not talking about sleazy telemarketing. I’m thinking of something like mortgages or insurance. There are many people who would rather have their toenails ripped off than talk on the phone all day, so if it’s something he’s good at, that’s valuable.

      Transferable skills might be the ability to develop rapport quickly on the phone, the ability to explain complex things in a way that is easily understood, ability to diffuse a difficult customer, extreme patience (that’s what I always admire about tech support people).

      Good luck to him!

    5. Carmen Sandiego JD

      Has anyone made a similar transition?
      Yup, worked in a Call Center as a college student. Then worked in a dept store. Then as a policy intern, writer, analyst, in nonprofit, and in team projects on contract roles
      What did you highlight as transferrable skills? (We’ve been brainstorming on this one)
      Skills: teamwork, negotiation, writing, analysis, attention to detail, debate skills, admin/legal (if applicable), fundraising, non-profit studies
      What kind of position did you move into? (His options are fairly open, but he’s struggling with what to look for.)
      I worked in policy analyst-type roles, moving from intern to full time contracts and then became an attorney recently. Nonprofit, government, non-govt, sales, policy groups, international fundraising, etc.
      Any other anecdotes/advice etc would be appreciated! (He can’t get here during the day, hence me chiming in.)
      Network a lot, collect business cards, and use it to study people’s career paths on LinkedIn to connect/follow them and study their coworker’s CVs/profiles. There were many times I was going this path alone (until recently finding mentors here & there) so it helps mapping out goals/potential paths you like based on what successful folks are already doing.

      Hope this helps!!

    6. Liza

      How much technical skill does his tech support call center work require? I moved from a phone helpdesk (might or might not be a call center depending on your definition) into on-site computer support work, aka desktop support. For me it was a good move because I enjoyed fixing computer problems but I wanted more of a challenge–usually you can only fix the easy issues by phone and I wanted to get into the harder issues.

    7. periwinkle

      Once upon a time, I worked in a tech support call center. Thankfully it was a corporate help desk so we had standardized loadsets and common problems, but the usual frustrations of tech support were still there. It didn’t help that we were employed by companies A & B, working on-site at company C, doing phone support for C’s client company D. Anyway… nearly 15 years after C lost the contract with D (for damn good reasons), I’m still friends with several of my co-workers and married to one of them! All of us left before the contract was cancelled, with everyone moving into other tech support positions.

      The key thing is that we moved into *desktop* support positions, not call center ones. That gives you access to more opportunities to build other skills (IMO). Let’s see… several people were hardcore computer geeks and used their desktop positions to move into network administration. One completed a second BS in comp sci and moved into programming. Others got into business operations in and out of IT; you can get a lot of exposure to that as a desktop support tech if you look for it. I had taken on training tasks and eventually morphed into my current role in training & development and performance improvement (the latter is basically corporate troubleshooting – tech support was an awesome background for digging into root-cause analysis). I think most of us still hate hearing the phone ring. :)

      So, step 1 could be a direct transfer of skills from call center tech support to in-house tech support. It’s a natural transition that doesn’t require a creative cover letter pitch about your transferable skill set. Yeah, it’s still tech support, but it’s such a different beast than telephone tech support.

      What does your fiance really like about his job? Is he the analytical sort who likes delving into a customer’s technical problem and figuring out the solution? In a call center you might not get much opportunity to do that, but does he relish the opportunities when they do happen? Or is he a people person who would rather be dealing with happier people on a regular basis?

    8. Stranger than fiction

      Hmm how about account Managmemt? This varies but generally speaking it’s higher level customer service with a bit of sales to it and usually pays a base plus some commission. Not saying the customers wouldn’t ever be angry but usually you’re dealing with established relationships and the support skills are very transferable. I’ve made similar transitions.

  15. INTP

    In the new year I think I’m finally going to start actively seeking work on a freelance basis (not quitting my job yet, but with the ultimate aim of going full-time). A lot of the details will be specific to my industry, but those of you who work freelance, any advice? What do you wish you had known? Would you say it’s better to get the marketing, website, freelance resume, and everything perfect before striking out for actual work, or look for work right away and perfect that stuff over time? Any books or advice on managing the financial side of it? Anything else you’d advise someone in my situation?

    1. anonanonanon

      If you’re working at your job and freelancing at the same time, make sure that your freelance work isn’t a conflict of interest with your job. For instance, I work in publishing, but my company’s employee handbook states that I can’t take on work from any publishing houses or edit any fiction manuscripts since they could end up going to a competitor and making them money. It’s annoying, since I could make more money freelancing for that side of the industry, but I do understand, so I focus on other aspects since I freelance to supplement income from my main job.

      In terms of finding work, make sure you have a good pitch when you email potential clients. A lot of people won’t respond to random pitches, so don’t get discouraged. I don’t know what industry you’re in, but if you’re looking to freelance for corporate companies, it might take a lot of digging to figure out who to send your pitch email to.

      As far as financials, I keep a spreadsheet of all the work I do for each client so I know my monthly income. I’ve found it really helpful for personal financial tracking, but also for taxes.

    2. misspiggy

      Get your network in place early and don’t worry so much about the other stuff, unless you have a creative portfolio which you need to get online. Make noises to potential clients, or colleagues of potential clients, about having some time coming up where you’d be looking to do x and y. Find out what the going rate is for your type of work, and be confident about setting a good rate which you’ll be able to stick to for a while (people tend to grumble much more about rate increases than about paying a higher rate to begin with).

    3. Dynamic Beige

      I would say, get your website, business cards, invoicing all set up first. When/if you go to networking events, people will want your business card. If there isn’t a website on that business card with samples of your work, what will people have to help them make up their minds? Coming up with appropriate content isn’t easy and it’s even harder when you are up your ears in stuff. Are you allowed to use work from your current job as portfolio? Most businesses don’t want you stealing their clients, so there may be something in your employment contract that prohibits your contacting current clients, which may include using recent work in your personal online portfolio.

      Since you’ve got a full-time job, you’ve still got the security of the pay cheque. Start saving as much as you can. Freelancing can be a feast-or-famine rollercoaster. Some people have mastered the marketing and have more of a pipeline of work — I haven’t and it sucks.

      Also, if you don’t currently have an accountant start looking around. A good accountant who provides advice is worth their weight in gold.

  16. The Butcher of Luverne

    Our work kitchen is FILLED with snacks and treats and cupcakes and Chex Mix.

    Must. Not. Give. In.

    1. Sarasaurus

      Ugh, here too! Even when I can clearly feel my stomach telling me to cool it with the junk, I just don’t. It’s horrible.

    2. MaryMary

      We have a lot of vendors and clients and other associates who send us holiday snacks, so there are cookies and chocolates and chocolate covered cookies EVERYWHERE. One of my coworkers was complaining that she thinks we have fewer treats than in years past, but if we do, that’s a good thing!

    3. moss

      I have the same problem even though I work at home. My mom brought over a bunch of chocolate and stuff (she offloads onto me, sigh).

    4. Mockingjay

      We had the Christmas potluck today. I gave in.

      I have had so much sugar I feel queasy. (But it was alll so yummy!)

  17. Forrest

    My coworker just gave me a sweet gift. I’m wondering if I should give her something in return (I wasn’t planning on it, my budget is a little tight right now.)

    Thoughts? I was thinking just a Starbucks giftcard.

    1. Lillian McGee

      I’m sure she didn’t give it expecting reciprocation, so I wouldn’t buy something just for the sake of reciprocating. A nice thank you note expressing how much you appreciated the gift should be enough. And then maybe some time later when you have more room in your budget and you find something nice to give to her, do it then!

    2. KathyGeiss

      Don’t buy something if you weren’t planning on it. Sometimes I give gifts that aren’t reciprocated and I’m totally ok with that. I would feel bad if someone felt obligated to spend money they weren’t planning.

      A card with a thoughtful note would be nice in return.

    3. GOG11

      I second not feeling obligated to give her a gift. Also agree with the card with a message from you suggestion. I think a lot of people will buy a gift for a coworker or friend if they see something that has Forrest “written” all over it so it’s more about that than wanting to receive something in return.

    4. Florida

      If you want to develop a relationship where every year, you exchange gifts with her, then yes, you should reciprocate.

      If you do not want to buy her a gift, this year or any other year, then don’t reciprocate.

      The way you handle this year will set a precedent for the future, so choose wisely.

  18. Sunshine Brite

    Not sure what my question is, but any advice appreciated…

    Overall, I plan to stick with my job for awhile. I’m in my late 20s and haven’t stayed anywhere more than a couple years, this is my second career-related job. I’m seen as talented by the supervisors and are thought of for special projects and mentoring. The benefits are good, hours flexible, etc. Things you don’t find often in social work.

    I work at a county so large and bureaucratic. My workload is practically out of control. I find a lot of my coworkers culturally incompetent which is highly frustrating. I’m not using my clinical status directly right now. I want to stay until I’m more financially stable, but so many community jobs look more interesting and challenging. I’m about 2 years in and was originally planning to move around the county into various roles but now I’m not so sure. I’m also not sure I want to be a supervisor with the lack of flexibility and life in meetings. What are some ways to stay engaged in a position that you have been waffling about lately?

    1. misspiggy

      Choose one thing about your organisation that really bugs you and that you might be able to make a difference to, and give yourself a time frame for fixing it/influencing it – even if you do it around the edges of your main job.

      1. Sunshine Brite

        That’s a good idea. I’ve been considering volunteering somewhere but a lot of the causes I’m interested in are just as stressful as my job (social justice, multiracial and interracial issues, homelessness, mental health) so doing something more in my umbrella might help

  19. anonanonanon

    My company doesn’t have a company wide party, so our department hosts a party at a local bar that’s totally optional. Everyone who wants to go pays $5 to reserve a separate room and pay for a bunch of apps, and it’s pretty much a large after work drinks situation that just happens to be centered around the end of the year. It’s lowkey and no one cares if you don’t want to go or if you go and only stay for a bit or go and don’t drink. Spouses or partners or friends are allowed as guests, but in the years I’ve been here not a lot of people bring guests, so it’s mostly just employees from the department hanging out at a bar.

    Our department also pays for a catered lunch from a really fancy restaurant for everyone because I guess a few people complained that they weren’t getting an end-of-the-year recognition because they didn’t attend the party. The lunch is for everyone in the department, but today I heard some people complaining that it wasn’t fair that people who attended our holiday party also got the catered lunch since, as one coworker said, “it’s not fair that some people get to attend two holiday events”. And another coworker said that if employees could bring guests or partners to the holiday party, then non-party goers at the catered lunch (during work hours) should have the same option.

    This really, really annoyed me. I’m totally cool with people not wanting to go to a bar or party for whatever reason they have, since I understand not everyone likes those events, but to say that people can’t have a lunch meant for the entire department because they went to an optional, non-department sponsored party seems unnecessarily petty.

    This is why no one can have nice things.

      1. Xarcady

        Seriously, it’s beyond nice that there are two events. People need to learn that life isn’t “fair.” You are being offered a gift by your company. Take it or leave it, but stop the complaining that you can’t get more of the gift by bringing a guest.

      2. anonanonanon

        Forty and fifty year old who sometimes act like they’re 4. They’re a small group who cause constant problems about everything and are really resistant to change, so I’m not surprised, but it’s still super annoying.

    1. Kyrielle

      I…they…WHAT?

      So bizarre. I would not want to go to the department party at the bar in the least. So I wouldn’t. I might not be able to go to the catered lunch usefully (because $FoodIssues), though I’d at least see if I could get something I could eat.

      I might whine to my friends later that I hated not being able to eat whatever and couldn’t fully take part in the awesome lunch. But I wouldn’t begrudge my coworkers who could or suggest one or both events should go away. That’s just…wow.

    2. Kassy

      I’m not going to attend the family Christmas dinner, but I expect another meal the following day to make it up to me. And none of the people that went yesterday can come.

      ….Um. What.

  20. legalchef

    Wheee! Open thread! I’ve been waiting all week for this!

    So the boss I’ve written about before has finally found another job and is leaving at the end of the month! My office is intending to fill the position internally, but because of a reorg, the position my boss had is going to be replaced by a position one level higher than hers (and her position will not be filled). As the most senior member of the team, I was planning on applying for that position, whenever they sent out the posting for it.

    However, I got an email from our CEO on Tuesday asking if I could meet on Wednesday to talk about the department. That’s all it said. But when we met, she started the meeting by saying that she heard I was interested in the position and it was clear that she was treating it as an interview of sorts, which caught be a bit off guard. I didn’t have my resume with me, I wasn’t wearing a suit, etc. I think it went well but now I keep running through things in my head that I would have done better had I really been able to be prepared. She also said something at the end about how even if I don’t get the position she wants to make sure I know I am valued, etc etc. Do you think that was her way of letting me down easy? It’s also unclear if they are still going to be posting for the position (even though earlier Tuesday afternoon there was a general meeting at which the CEO said that they would be).

    After we met, I sent her a copy of my resume (at her request) along with a combo thank you/cover letter. If they still put out a posting, should I officially apply? I am thinking I should, but wanted to hear some other thoughts.

    And this morning my supervisor told me that even though I think I am able to form good relationships with clients, that is not true and that “people” have a perception that I am not sensitive to the fact that not everyone has money (I work at a non profit). I don’t know if that’s an actual thing, and if so, how to go about changing that perception (regardless of this position that isn’t an impression I want people to have of me), or if she’s just being bitter and is dumping on me, and/or if she’s been running her mouth and that’s why “people” have that perception. So now I am upset and don’t know what to do.

    1. Anna

      Your supervisor sounds crappy. It sounds more like sour grapes than an actual issue, but if you think it could be true, then you can work on it. And frankly any of us who work with people in low-income situations can usually spend some time evaluating our privilege and how it may come across to our clients.

      Yes, officially apply although it sounds like you won’t need to. I’m willing to guess if they post it, the CEO or someone will let you know since you’ve already had that conversation with the CEO.

      1. Legalchef

        Someone suggested that she is probably just jealous that I am junior to her but am being considered for a higher position. But of course that’s ridiculous, because she is leaving – though she is often ridiculous.

    2. misspiggy

      If the position gets posted, it would be normal to ask the CEO or the hiring manager if an application from you would be welcomed, and proceed accordingly. They shouldn’t be taking the chat you had as a formal interview, so if they’re reasonable they will treat it as an informal and incomplete conversation.

      Sounds like your supervisor doesn’t like you or is useless at giving feedback, or both. She may be feeling jealous that you’re being considered for this new position. I’d tell her you’ve been thinking very seriously about what she said and would like her advice on what you could do to improve client relationships. If she gives you sensible advice, by all means take it – but watch your back around her and don’t show any vulnerability.

      1. legalchef

        She’s acted like she likes me for the past 7.5 years so I don’t know what is going on now. I spoke to one of my friends here who said that she is just bitter.

    3. NJ Anon

      Regarding the money issue: I worked at a social services agency that housed homeless, abused teens. We had one employee who just didn’t get it. She complained in front of them about losing her $200 sunglasses and said “oh well, guess I have to go get another pair.” We tried to explain to her she needed to be more sensitive to their situations. She never did and was let go a few months later. Not saying you are doing this but some things you may take for granted can come across as insensitive. (Universal “you”, not you personally.)

      1. Legalchef

        Oh wow. I would never do that!! And even if I would talk about a purchase or trip or anything I wouldn’t do it in front of my clients (except to say “I’m going to be on vacation from X to Y, you can contact Mary Sue if anything comes up”). Also, I’ve been here 7.5 years. If it was an issue, one would think it would have come up before now, no?

    4. One Esk Nineteen

      It may be worth considering your behavior, but honestly, when someone says “people/everyone/collective noun think [bad thing about you]”, usually what they mean is “*I* think [bad thing about you] and want to legitimize it” or “I want to insult you but I don’t want to come right out and do it”.

      1. Kassy

        Alternately:

        *One* person made this complaint and I’m using vague nouns to make it sound more legitimate.

      2. Legalchef

        That’s exactly what my husband said, but it’s still upsetting to hear that there is even a small chance that others in my office might think that!

        1. Observer

          She didn’t give you any concrete examples, did she? If someone is tying to give you feedback they can be expected to give you some examples.

    5. Bend & Snap

      My boss at my last job did this ALL THE TIME to the tune of “nobody likes you.” Actually *he* didn’t like me and nobody else had an issue. I found out later that some of the “failures” I got in trouble for were actually facilitated by him.

      Don’t listen to this crap. Supervisor has an agenda and you don’t need to concern yourself with it.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Take the high road. Tell the boss that you are genuinely sorry that someone felt this way. You want to know exactly what happened so you can be absolutely sure it will not happen again. (I know writing this there is a bit of sarcasm sound here, so try not to sound sarcastic, sound sincere.) Ask her if you can meet with the person or persons to discuss the matter.

      When (notice I say when not if) she tells you that is not possible. Tell her you are sorry to hear that and you are willing to talk by phone or come in on your own time to match this person’s availability.

      Then she will tell you availability is not the problem. So you ask how you can help this process along. You keep going along these lines. After a bit she will probably say, “oh never mind.” And that is the end of it.
      Key points: Show sincere concern, you want to right this wrong. Show a willingness to jump hurdles because you are so interested in making this situation right.

    7. SC in SC

      I had a very similar situation come up recently at work and it all worked out for me. My boss is suddenly retiring at the end of the year as a result of a reorganization. Our corporate VP/CTO first time ever asks for a one-on-one meeting with me. I was told the meeting was just so that he could get an update on my department but it really felt like an interview. Seemed odd at the time. About two weeks later he makes me an offer to take over for my boss and join his staff. Based on what you’re saying it sounds like a similar situation. I don’t know about your office but at ours, some internal jobs are posted and others are filled directly if they believe they already have the right person for the role. My only advice to you (if you haven’t already done so) is that if this is something you want then you should explicitly let the CEO know even though it should be obvious at this point. Positive thoughts for you and good luck.

      As for your supervisors comments, you should at least give it some consideration but feel free to write it off as bitter comments from a disgruntled employee. I seriously doubt you would have had the meeting with the the CEO if this was a real issue.

  21. ACA

    My new boss continues to be amazing. I had to call out unexpectedly due to a broken dishwasher, and apologized for missing so much work (I was out sick a couple of days last week), and she just kind of shrugged and said “All you’ll be missing is the [company] holiday party and that’s always a snooze anyway.”

    Then today, I arrived at work to find a Christmas gift from her: A bottle of cava and a jar of homemade peach jam. And if that weren’t enough, she’s ordering Indian food for the entire office for lunch! I feel so, so lucky not only to have escaped my last job but to have ended up in an office as great as this.

  22. Ad Astra

    This was my first week at the new job and so far I love it here! The only downside: I’m so, so broke. My final paycheck from OldJob was less than expected (turns out I only worked 5 days in that pay period). My first paycheck at NewJob must be a live, paper check — what’s with payroll companies still doing that? — so it will be issued Dec. 31, when we’re… closed for the holidays. So no money in my account until Jan. 4.

    Oops.

    1. Lillian McGee

      Yikes. Tough time for a gap between paychecks. You have my sympathy. But also congrats on your first week!

    2. Judy

      I’m a little surprised that your check would be issued when your office is not open.

      We get paid weekly on Fridays, and the week of Thanksgiving, our deposits (or checks) were paid on Wednesday. I’m expecting the same to happen over Christmas and New Years.

      1. Anna

        Same. I’m getting paid on the 23rd because we’re closed the 24th and 25th. That’s usually how they do payroll so they don’t run afoul of any laws about having to paid within X days of work or even because they know that can be hard to have to wait.

      2. Ad Astra

        Well, our office is closed Dec. 25-Jan. 3, but whoever we farm our payroll out to is open. So all the other employees will get a direct deposit on Jan. 31, but I’ll have to wait and pick up my check the following Monday. Since it’s such a long closure, paying us a day or two early isn’t really an option; it would have to be a full week early. I’ve never worked in payroll, but I would guess paying 7 days early is not a comfortable proposition.

    3. another IT manager

      Can your new job advance you part of your paycheck so you’re not going through the holiday on what’s left in your pantry? I feel like someone mentioned this in the archives once.

      1. Ad Astra

        Well, my company actually does have a policy allowing paycheck advances in some circumstances, which is interesting.

        BUT today our HR dude said the payroll company may be able to direct deposit my check on Dec. 31 like everyone else’s! Christmas will be tricky, but at least New Year’s Eve (along with my Jan. 2 rent due date) is saved!

  23. GOG11

    I’ve been taking on higher profile/further reaching projects at work lately, which has made me realise that, while I’m great at the “science” of my job, I could improve at the “art” of it. I tend to be a pretty literal and fact-driven person and it’s difficult to recognize the various dynamics at play at times. Once I know what’s going on, I’m a pretty good diplomat and I can usually navigate the situation fairly well. If it matters, I’m an admin assistant (at a University…I feel like there ain’t no politics like University politics, amirite? Except maybe straight up political politics).

    Could anyone recommend any articles, resources (aside from AAM), books, etc., on how to navigate workplace politics? Tips from you all are very welcome and appreciated, as well. Thank you in advance.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        OK, I laughed at that!

        GD means the one by Machiavelli, not The Little Prince/Le Petit Prince.

        And if you’re going to go that way… Sun Tzu The Art of War

    1. Clever Name

      Well, I think it’s important to recognize that everyone has their own motivations, and what motivates one person is different than what motivates another person, and sometimes it’s really really hard to tell what is what. Some people are motivated to do the right thing. Others are motivated by self-interest. Also remember that some people will lie to your face. If you are an honest person, this can be a tough lesson to learn. :(

  24. Applesauced

    It’s my last day! I’m planning to send a goodbye/thank you email to my supervisor, and want to ask if I can use her as a reference in the future. Is this the right place for that? How does “I wanted to reach out and say that I appreciated working with you for the past year; I’ve learned a lot working with you and really appreciate your attention and instruction. While I hope to be at my next firm for a long time; could I list you as a reference in the future?” sound?

    1. GOG11

      I think it might be a bit premature for that. I’d reach out as you planned minus the bold part. In lieu of that part, just say you’d appreciate the opportunity to keep in touch and provide your “private”/nonwork contact info (phone, email or both). I think most reasonable supervisors would be willing to be a reference when the occasion presents itself so you’d only need to be able to reach her when the time comes to ask.

      Congrats on your new job :)

  25. Ali Cat

    Alright guys and gals, I need your opinion on applying for a job with a way higher title. I’ve only been at my current job for a year and half and am actually quite content with my position and boss but a position just opened up at my institution and I’m very tempted to apply but am worried of making a fool of myself. My current position is something of admin assistant but not with that specific title, but I do a little bit of everything. The new position is an assistant director position in a different department and requires 5 years experience…which I don’t have. So on that information alone, it sounds like I’m losing my mind to consider applying. But here’s the kicker…the majority of the duties of the asst. director position were transferred to me over the summer and I have been doing them ever since with nothing but positive reviews. I don’t want to piss off my current boss by applying but I can’t help but think it would be a huge opportunity and it’s the area I’m interested in going into.

    Thoughts?

    1. misspiggy

      You can’t do anything about whether your boss is a reasonable person – if they are, they won’t mind you applying, and if they aren’t, you want to do everything you can to get away from them. Ask the hiring manager if they’d be likely to welcome an application from you – that won’t be seen as out of place. Even if they want to make the remaining bit of the role that you haven’t been covering much higher level, applying and interviewing for the job could still be good for you. It gives you a chance to show exactly what you’ve been achieving, and could lead to some other form of promotion even if you don’t get the job itself.

      1. Ali Cat

        I did ask HR how hard and fast they were on the 5 year rule and they said very. But they encouraged me to apply anyway “just in case other suitable candidates could not be found” but that “in their experience that never happens”. So I’m kind of torn. That being said we do live in an isolated area that has a very high cost of living and the pay at our institution is quite low so finding a candidate is one thing but convincing them to move here is another. I just don’t want to seem like I think I’m too big for my breaches, so to speak, and ruin a great relationship with my boss. Unfortunately, I can’t hope that my aspirations would be kept a secret as gossip runs like wildfire here and IT can be a bit lazy when it comes to updating the permissions for the application folder (so people from hiring committees from over 6 months ago have access still).

    2. Uni Admin

      Is there a specific reason you think your boss would be angry? This is just my 2 cents but you can’t live your life and risk missing out on opportunities because your boss might not like it. If they’re the kind of boss who would get angry about this, you’re going to upset them sooner or later – unless you plan to spend the next 40-odd years exactly where you are.

      Go for it. It can’t hurt. People make shots in the dark all the time and sometimes it turns out. I especially think you should apply if you think you’ll regret not applying down the road…

  26. Sarasaurus

    I’ve been at my job almost 6 months, and there’s a woman whose name I never learned…UNTIL TODAY! I see her and exchange friendly hello’s at least a couple of times a week. We’ve had tons of friendly conversations in the kitchen or hallway. It was getting so embarrassing, especially because she clearly knows my name. I had let this go on for so long that it’s not like I could just ask. I didn’t even know what department she’s in or where she sits, so I couldn’t do a drive-by of her desk to get a glimpse of her name plate. Finally this morning, I saw her walking into a meeting and pulled up the Outlook calendar for the room to see the names of the meeting invitees. Success! I feel so accomplished.

      1. Sarasaurus

        It’s funny, because I’ve actually emailed her a couple of times and heard her name come up in meetings/conversations. I just never put two and two together, so it was kind of a lightbulb moment of “ooooh, SHE’S Heather!”

        1. Lillian McGee

          Congrats on playing it off! I’ll bet she never suspected. Whereas in a sitcom it would have all come to a head in some embarrassing disaster for the you-character…

          1. Not a Real Giraffe

            Just rewatched the Friends episode where Chandler’s coworker keeps calling him Toby, which is all fine in passing, until the coworker wants a promotion into Chandler’s department and Chandler blocks it. Then coworker tries to enlist “Toby” into getting revenge on Chandler.

    1. GOG11

      Good thinking about the calendar! I agree with Lillian. It would have been especially funny if she was secretly sweating the same thing the whole time, as well.

    2. NJ Anon

      Why couldn’t you ask? I’m terrible with names so if I forget or don’t know, I just apologise and ask. Nbd

    3. Elizabeth West

      Oh this happens to me all the time. There are two sections on my floor, and I see the same people in passing but hardly ever talk to them. Or we chat but never get round to the name thing. And I’ve been here for three years! But they don’t know my name either!

    4. Doriana Gray

      This sounds like me and a guy who lives in my building. He was one of the first people I met when I moved in four years ago and I still don’t know his name. We speak every time we see each other, he’s even walked me home from work before, and I still can’t remember what he said his name was and I’m too embarrassed to admit it. I don’t feel too bad though – he’s never said my name, either, so I think we’re both lost. I just refer to him to friends as Dude on 7.

      1. hermit crab

        Haha, yes! There is a guy I occasionally see around the complex/neighborhood. We introduced ourselves to each other the first time we met, in the laundry room on a Friday night, and had a conversation about how we have such exciting lives to be doing laundry then. But he has a super common name (it’s either Dave or Mike or Steve or ….) and I just have no idea. I refer to him as Friday Night Laundry and have said things to my husband like “Oh, I ran into Friday Night Laundry in the coffee shop, he says trash pickup will be on Tuesday this week.”

        1. Doriana Gray

          LMAO! Friday Night Laundry – I love it. Especially since if you take the u out of laundry, it’s Landry, so you should just call him that and see what he says.

  27. Annoyed

    So annoyed with my husband’s boss. She gave him a lecture yesterday about his “excessive absenteeism.” He’s missed about 3-4 days in the last three weeks because it’s cold/flu season and we’ve all been sick (all = me + him + our five kids). He also missed three days the beginning of November because I had a miscarriage, then surgery.

    First of all, he hasn’t even come close to exhausting his PTO – in fact, he has 6 vacation days accrued over and above what he still has available for sick time.

    Secondly, did she REALLY want him to come into work this past Tuesday when he woke up with pinkeye (courtesy of our kids, all of whom had the same thing the day before)? What a great thing to spread around the office right before Christmas.

    Luckily I work from home 3x per week or else he probably would have had to take off even more time. (I will take the day off if the toddler is sick, but the other ones are old enough where they can veg out on the couch and watch movies when they’re sick, and I can still get work done from home – my boss knows this and is ok with it.) He would be more than willing to work from home when our kids are sick, too, but it’s only permitted “as a privilege, and only in extreme circumstances” (his boss’ words).

    I’m proud of him for standing up for himself, though. He (politely) told her that he’d be more than happy to consult HR and see if their definition of “excessive absenteeism” fit her criteria.

    It still ticks me off that she told him he’d have to find “another solution” for times when our kids are sick and can’t go to school/daycare. We have no family or neighbors willing/able to take sick kids. His salary is so pathetic (less than $40k a year, before taxes, as an entry-level computer programmer) that I can’t afford to quit my job and be a stay-at-home parent, as much as I wish I could, and similarly we can’t afford to send them to a sick kid daycare when they’re sick (it’s $60/day, per kid). I really don’t know what else she expects us to do.

    Anyway, just needed to vent. He was so upset when he got home last night. He doesn’t like that he’s had to miss so much work lately either, but it’s really been unavoidable.

    1. misspiggy

      It sounds like from now on it would be safer for your husband to state that he is ill if he has to stay at home, and not mention the kids.

    2. matcha123

      It sounds like your husband’s boss finds attendance to be important. And if he can’t work from home, and she’s not going to make exceptions, then I think the thing you all can do is to be more proactive about covering coughs and sneezes, not touching each other and other things when you’re sick, not touching face/mouth when out and insisting that the kids wash their hands often at school and as soon as they come home.

      With that many people in one place, and it being cold and flu season as you’ve said, I think a hard line on germs is the most feasible path.

      1. Annoyed

        We do all of that already, but our youngest is 2 and doesn’t really understand the whole concept about covering one’s mouth, not spreading germs, etc. They’ve been pretty healthy up until now, but this month has been challenging. There have been a lot of absences at their school this month, I’m told, due to illness.

        1. matcha123

          Two year olds understand. I worked as a kindergarten teacher in Japan, where covering your mouth with your hand when you sneeze is just as normal as not.
          We could get the kids to do the “vampire” thing, and the youngest ones would copy the older ones. It’d be great until the weekend or a long break, since the parents didn’t care. It was the same with toilet training.
          I know the person below disagrees, but I got sick a lot as a kid. Usually strep throat and other stomach bugs. For whatever reason, illnesses didn’t really make their way around to others. But we were pretty obsessive about washing hands as soon as we came in, isolating the sick person from others, constantly washing hands at home and took pains not to touch our faces.
          Young kids are smart. If you set up the expectations, they can do it.

      2. Anonsie

        I don’t think this is really a realistic expectation. Not that you can’t practice good hang hygiene and all, but I mean– that will only protect you an eensy bit when you live with the sick person in question, and especially when that sick person is a small child.

      3. Observer

        Did you really just say that Annoyed and her husband are getting sick because they don’t understand workplace norms and have sloppy hygiene?!

        “Insisting” that the kids do anything at school is a fairly silly concept in this context, as that’s really up to the school. Unless their teachers actually encourage hand washing, it’s not likely to happen. And, believe it or not, plenty of teachers actually discourage it, because “if everyone does that it’s going to take to much time.” (The first time I heard this, I nearly fell over.)

        As for not touching young kids, I’m not sure how you expect that to happen. You certainly cannot take care of a toddler while never touching them. And, even older kids need help with things, ESPECIALLY when they are sick.

        And even if everyone were hyper-vigilant to the point of neglect regarding handwashing, toileting etc. the STILL won’t necessarily keep dad from getting whatever is going around. Flu and cold happen to be airborne illnesses.

      1. Annoyed

        He recently had a performance review and she didn’t bring up any specific concerns unrelated to the attendance issue. Her concern is that projects are being delayed when he’s out. Which, yes, we know that, and it sucks, but his only alternative is to come to work sick, or have me be the only one who takes time off when kids are sick (which is unfair to me and my job – I have deadlines to meet too, and it’d cause my PTO to drain away even faster than it already does).

        1. Dynamic Beige

          The evil part of me says next time he’s got a bad cold/pinkeye he should just go in… and schedule as many meetings as he can with Boss. Cough a lot. Be really gross. When she complains about that: “I’m sorry but could you help me understand… the last time I was in this situation, I thought you were very clear about my attendance being expected every day and of utmost importance to keep the projects on track… was I mistaken about that?”

          She’s a loon if she expects anyone with 5 kids to 1. have tons of cash to hire babysitters as needed and 2. be perfectly healthy at all times.

    3. Coffee Ninja

      That’s so frustrating, especially this time of year (I feel like most of my sickness comes in the Nov/Dec timeframe, like clockwork). Sometimes we just have a string of bad luck (especially when you have kids; I was never as sick as the first year I worked in a school). Did the boss offer any suggestions when she said your husband needed to find another solution? It sounds like she just shot everything down :( Don’t be absent, but don’t work from home either.

      1. NACSAJACK

        My reply was premised on the hope that she’d compare his situation to her situation and develop some self-awareness, awaking to the fact that he doesnt get paid as much as she does and may not have the resources she does.

    4. NJ Anon

      “Another solution” could be looking for a new job. What an ass! Some companies are just not family friendly. My husband worked for Big Brown. They were terrible! But the bennies were great so I guess it was a trade off.

      1. Annoyed

        Ironically, he works for a school district (hence the crappy pay). He does want to try find another job, but he has only been at this one a little over a year and wants to try and gain a bit more experience before seeking something else. Plus, he also drives for Uper & Lyft on nights/weekends to supplement our income, so his free time to job hunt is limited.

    5. TotesMaGoats

      Well, that just sucks. No one, unless they are hating their job, actually likes to miss work. Even worse when you are caring for a sick kid. I would check in with HR and make sure there isn’t some sort of policy/rule that he should be aware of. However, normally, if you haven’t exhausted leave then it should be fine. Especially in his role. Jerk boss. I don’t think she could stop him from taking leave but I’m sure it’ll come back to bite in the performance evaluation. Sorry. No real advice here.

      also, there is a thing called “sick kid daycare”? Where is this magical place and why haven’t I heard of it before?

      1. Annoyed

        It’s not common, but it does exist. see, for example, www[dot]eastvalleytribune[dot]com/news/article_b2ca0785-ce5f-5c7d-bc5c-263b2b34b6f1.html

    6. Tris Prior

      Ugh, I am so sorry. Boyfriend’s job has been similar, though we don’t have kids further complicating things. Since mid-November, he’s missed work due to outpatient surgery, then food poisoning which he got from something he ate Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, then a painful complication from surgery which he toughed out as long as he could until he absolutely could not function and headed back in to the doctor who’s only open during work hours. His work was PISSED. He’s got lots of PTO and has always had near perfect attendance, but I guess that did not matter.

      What killed me was that they told him he’d have to get a doctor’s note for the food poisoning or else have to take it unpaid due to the proximity to Thanksgiving. Apparently they expected him to bring his explosive diarrhea into the office and, I dunno, work from the toilet? (I told him he should’ve gone in and pooped on his boss’s desk.) So we now have a copay from him having to go to urgent care, so his pay didn’t get docked. Ridiculous.

    7. Anonsie

      Wow so. This is so exactly like where I used to work, and I was given the same lectures in the same pattern in the same wording for the same reason, that I’m mildly concerned he’s dealing with my old boss. But yeah right, more like there are just a buttload of people like that out there. My solution was to get a new job. You can’t fix stupid.

      But before that, I started by asking what she wanted me to do if I was sick and not allowed to work from home but also not supposed to come into work. I asked several times and she would shrug at me each time and say she didn’t know but that didn’t matter, I just needed to fix the problem. So… I just ignored her. There was quite literally nothing I could do, she didn’t have any specific request that I could fulfill, so that was that.

  28. Dr. Doll

    Did you all see the snafu at the University of Louisville, where the Physics & Astronomy department put out an ad for a faculty member who was “African American, Hispanic American, or Native American”? (It’s been pulled, of course.)

    www[dot]insidehighered[dot]com/news/2015/12/16/job-ad-u-louisville-raises-questions-about-considering-race-faculty-hires

    The thing I found most — ludicrous — was that the department chair said that the ad was not based on a “nuanced understanding of federal employment laws.” WHAT? A cursory glance at a couple of blogs like this one would have clued them in!

    Now, for the record, I think they should bust their asses to add to the diversity in their department, but do it RIGHT by recruiting, compensating, and supporting appropriately!

    1. matcha123

      I read about that last night, but didn’t see the page.
      I find that some people think that “diversity” means they *must* hire a woman/black person/someone with a disability, and once they’ve done that, everything is a-ok.

    2. Kai

      Oh god. I didn’t see that one but I did see a job description go viral recently because of something like “this job includes receptionist duties, so female candidates are preferred.”

      Speaking of which, there is a little marketing firm near where I live with an office manager/marketing assistant position open that I would normally be very interested in. But the description calls for someone who can act as the “office housemother” and I’m just like…ick. No.

      1. Victoria, Please

        What the hell decade/century is it? …although I kind of wish we had an office houseparent who would tell everybody to clean up their dirty dishes and blow their noses instead of snorking when they’re sick.

  29. SweetTeapots

    How do you handle multiple interviews at once? My job search really ramped up this week with 4 phone interviews, an in person interview, a follow up in person interview next week, and a prospective interview next week. That’s…..a lot. I’m not complaining! But I’m definitely starting to feel overwhelmed with juggling them both plus maintaining a good ‘cover’ in the office, I’m worried it’s starting to look obvious.

    My second question is – after the interview – how do you handle questions from HR about other opportunities you’re pursuing, especially if they ask something like ‘what is appealing about the other position’, etc. My interview this week was asking about the benefits of the other position and I really wasn’t sure how to respond, honest or more reserved? I definitely don’t want to be giving the impression that I like another opportunity more.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      That’s great you’re getting a lot of interviews—a good kind of overwhelming, I’d say.

      As for the benefits thing, I would try to dodge it. I don’t know what industry you’re in, but I’ve never had in-depth discussions about benefits until the actual offer stage, so even if you have, maybe you can just give the impression that you haven’t?

      Frankly, I’d be a bit put off by that level of probing. I’ve had prospective employers ask me where else I’m interviewing (which is already kind of annoying but not too too bad), but not gone any further than that. Asking about benefits of other jobs you’re applying to seems a bit intrusive, and the very asking of that question would actually make me want the other place more.

      1. SweetTeapots

        Yes it certainly was a little more intrusive than I’m used to but is actually not the first time. Most of the more advanced discussions have asked where I am in the process and where I’m leaning, which I’ve always found hard to answer.

        One of my biggest faults is a lack of filter and complete honesty. My default is always just honest, I don’t try to dance around things so I definitely put my foot in my mouth when I answered directly what some of the other benefits were, I just couldn’t think quick enough on my feet to better answer.

        It went like this (not verbatim):
        ‘So, you mentioned you are interviewing elsewhere, where in the process are you’
        ‘Similar to where I am with you, a couple phone interviews and will be going for an in-person’
        ‘Ah ok, and what would draw you more to that position’
        Ummm ‘Well their benefits are pretty good’
        ‘Oh, like what?’ I think she was asking due to honest curiosity because they themselves offer pretty exceptional benefits.

        And then I answered honestly. ugh! Everything’s a learning experience I suppose :)

        1. Anonymous Educator

          It’s hard to think quick in the moment like that (and that’s what they’re counting on—they want to catch you off guard).

          Since this has come up several times (not just once), I would try to be as well prepared for it as possible. So instead of something like this…

          ‘Ah ok, and what would draw you more to that position’
          Ummm ‘Well their benefits are pretty good’

          Maybe something more like this?

          ‘Ah ok, and what would draw you more to that position’
          I’m considering a lot of factors right now, so I don’t think it’s that simple. When we get to the offer stage, perhaps that would be a better time to discuss this.

  30. AnotherEngineerGirl

    Wondering if his happens to anyone else. I got a Christmas card (in the mail at home) from one of the VP’s at work. Do I send a card back…? I feel like when I first started I’d get a card from the president(his family card?) but I never reciprocated because it felt weird. We also already send out 100 cards and I don’t have any left this year! We are a company of about 50 people and while I’m friendly with everyone, I don’t socialize outside of work with any of them and only attend the holiday party.

    1. MaryMary

      I get a card from one of our VPs. It is clearly from his wife (I would love to know how she got my home address) and it is his family card. The card was signed from Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, and it took me a minute to figure out that I work with Homer. I couldn’t think of any of my friends who have kids named Bart, Lisa, or Maggie (they’re actually Homer’s adult children, who don’t live at home anymore, which made it extra confusing).

      I don’t send Christmas cards anymore, so I don’t feel like I have to send one back. I thanked Homer the first year, and he had no idea what I was talking about. ;-) So now I don’t worry about it.

      1. Anonymousaur

        Going to admit I had a moment of mentally thinking “wow what a coincidence that the boss’ family shares so many names with the Simpsons!” Then I realized you did that intentionally to remain anonymous. Whoops.

    2. Kyrielle

      I wouldn’t. It’s a polite holiday gesture from someone higher in the org than you. Unless you are actually friends or there was a personalized handwritten note, I wouldn’t. Especially if it was “signed” by a stamp or printing or not at all, in that case it’s definitely a business holiday card. Those don’t require a reciprocal card. (Really, nothing *requires* a reciprocal card, but they’re polite to some groups…your VP who isn’t also a friend isn’t in that category, unless they personalized it in some significant way that makes it feel awkward to you.)

  31. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

    this is a head scratcher-
    I just had a coworker tell me that when she went out on maternity leave the nursing home she was working for filled her job and when she came back after the 6 week leave they told her that she had to work nights. she was a non-exempt nurses aid in NY – Legal? Certainly not moral but the legality stumps me because I could come in tomorrow and my boss could say “your hours have changed or your fired”, but she was on maternity leave, does that matter?.

    1. AMT

      Could possibly be considered constructive discharge (if the schedule change really was prompted by the maternity leave rather than the needs of the nursing home), but these things can be very difficult to prove. It might be worth it for her to consult with an employment attorney. Some do consultations for free.

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

        her unemployment was denied. I would have thought that an extreme schedule change for a mother with two children at home would have constituted unemployment benefits.

        1. Graciosa

          I’m not sure that being a mother with two children at home entitles her to different scheduling treatment from anyone else. When I think about all the letters we get from single people without children who complain about disparate job treatment – never getting holidays off, for example – I am not sure it should.

          The medical professional generally has to deal with the need to provide round the clock care for patients, which means that if you go into this profession, there is a risk you will end up working nights. Some mothers might actually prefer it if there is a second caregiver available in the evenings, but not during the day.

          Constructive discharge generally requires the employer to have created an atmosphere that would cause *any* reasonable person to leave. The individual should certainly consult an employment attorney (the law here is complex and requires the advice of an expert, which I am not) but my instinct is that merely working the night shift in a profession where this is a standard requirement is not going to be perceived as intolerable.

          1. fposte

            I’m going to guess that if the unemployment board, which has a comparatively low bar, considered her quit voluntary that she’d have an uphill battle convincing a courtroom that it wasn’t.

    2. MaryMary

      FMLA rules say that an employee must return to an “equivalent” job. So if her pay, benefits, and job duties were the same and the only thing that changed was the shift, it is probably legal (but shady).

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Yes, this. Even people who aren’t on FMLA can find their schedule suddenly changed, so it’s nothing that FMLA is meant to protect her from. And having children doesn’t factor into the equation, nor should it.

        1. AMT

          For some reason, I thought YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist was implying that they were doing this in order to force her to quit altogether, not just changing her shift because they gave her old one to someone else. I might have been wrong in that assumption, but do their motivations factor into this? Like, let’s say that it was somehow documented that they purposely gave her night hours to force her to leave voluntarily. Would that change anything?

          1. AnotherFed

            IANAL, but purposefully giving her undesired shifts to get her to quit still wouldn’t be illegal, unless it was because she was a protected class and not because she smells funny or they only want people with certain horoscopes or even for the ultimate error of liking Star Wars above Star Trek.

            1. Graciosa

              Well, we never know what might be changed with future legislation!

              Quote from The West Wing, after Josh explained to Janice that she can’t bring her hobbies to work –

              Josh: Except on Star Trek holidays.
              Janice: There’s no such thing as a Star Trek holiday!
              Josh: Well work hard around here. We’ll make one.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Not a consolation, but I hear some very strange stories coming out of nursing homes here in NY. I just assume that it is an industry riddled with problems. For example, why would you hire a staph carrier to work direct care in a nursing home? I don’t get it.

  32. matcha123

    My present job doesn’t allow for any “growth” or increase in responsibilities. What I am allowed to do is strictly defined and will not change. In fact, the majority of jobs I’ve had follow a similar strategy.

    When I apply to new jobs, aside from explaining the culture of my office and the country I’m in, what should I be doing to show that I am an appealing candidate? I can’t talk with people in my “field” for various reasons, mainly because those in a similar situation are freelancers and specialize in wildly different areas.

    I’m not good at talking about what I’m good at, and in fact, I don’t think I’m that great at anything. My coworkers would never consider me a “superstar,” but then again, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg could all come to my office to work and they wouldn’t be considered “superstars” by the people in my office. I’m not interested in being a manager, but I do want and need to make more money.
    Money is another issue, because my pay is not based on skill, but rather what has been approved for the number of hours I work. The HR departments of the places I’ve been at target women and foreigners, especially foreigners on spousal visas, and pay them based on the assumption that they have a man bringing in a larger income.

    1. Not So NewReader

      When you do get compliments what areas do you get complimented on? For example, maybe your family tells you that you are good at organizing. Apply this to work, what have you organized that became useful? Maybe friends say you are creative. Okay, again apply it to work. Have you come up with a creative solution to an on-going problem?

      Take things outsiders have told you about yourself and see where you have used that ability at work.

  33. ali

    I noticed in yesterday’s comments that there are quite a few of us here with Crohn’s Disease. Just curious about how the rest of you handle it in the workplace? I’m very lucky and have extreme flexibility with my schedule and ability to work from home. The coworkers and my direct manager know about it, as I take off an afternoon every month for Remicade, but otherwise it’s mostly something people don’t know. I was just off for 2 weeks for a surgery and was asked when I returned by some people, “how was your vacation?” How do you answer? I said, “Oh, I was actually out having surgery, so it wasn’t as good as a vacation, but it was nice to have some time off.”

    1. Jules the First

      I don’t get a lot of flexibility, but fortunately mine has been very much under control while I’ve worked here. I’m militant about my diet, working hours and stress levels in an effort to keep it that way, but there’s a sort of informal flexibility in that if I can’t get moving in the morning, no one is going to freak if I’m in late. It very much helps that our head of HR has lupus, so she’s very understanding of how hard it can be to manage things.

    2. fposte

      Mine’s not Remicade or surgical level, and I have a fair bit of schedule flexibility. It used to be worse, and I was able to work at home sometimes when it was bad. Business travel has the biggest challenge, but mostly I just grit my teeth and survive.

    3. FutureLibrarian

      I’ve always been honest if asked (or if needing to share for time off for colonoscopies), but I’m very fortunate in that both of my chronic illnesses (I have Crohns-colitis and Fibromyalgia) are well-managed and pretty quiet. I honestly don’t care if people know, but that attitude is quite individual, and each person has to decide how they want to approach it.

      I think if you keep it simple and short you’ll be fine, for example, “Oh, it wasn’t much of a vacation unfortunately, haha! I had to have some very minor surgery, but all is well thankfully. How’s X project going/other topic change?”

  34. Jubilance

    I kinda hate to say this publicly, but…I’m kinda bored at work. I’m not challenged, partially because my company has been going through major cultural change over the past year, including multiple reorgs and layoffs. There’s been a ton of “we don’t know what we’re doing or what the execs want us to work on” which has left us in a holding pattern. I’m so afraid that my skills are atrophying and I’m losing my ability to work at max productivity. Do I suck it up or start looking for something new?

    And sort of related…I’ve always wanted to work in technical recruiting, but I have no experience other than 6 months as an assistant in a temp agency. Am I going to have to take a serious paycut in order to make the leap?

    1. NACSAJACK

      Depends. Do you like your job? Do you like your coworkers? Can you find employment elsewhere? In these times of culture change and churn, a lot of people do leave for other opportunities. I’d love to hear from others on what to do when you’re bored at work and limited in moving elsewhere.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I’m so afraid that my skills are atrophying and I’m losing my ability to work at max productivity. Do I suck it up or start looking for something new?

      I would probably do a combo of suck it up and start looking for something new (but not aggressively—just seeing what’s out there).

      But the “suck it up” could be also developing your skills? When you say you’re “bored,” does that mean you’re kept busy all the time but with boring work… or does it mean you actually have extended periods where you have nothing to do but have to be there? If it’s the latter, I would look into writing a novel, taking an online course, or doing something else to hone your skills.

  35. louise

    Two interesting conversations with the company owners this week…pretty much sums up everything about them.

    Conversation 1, with owner I’ll call Bob: He calls me to tell me there’s an employee waiting at the office to talk to me. I ask the employee’s name. “I don’t know. One of the field guys. I see him all the time.” “But you don’t know his name?” I ask. “No, they don’t stick around long enough to bother learning them.” “Perhaps,” I said, “they’d stick around longer if their boss knew their name.”

    Conversation 2, with owner I’ll call John (who is, luckily, the majority owner and president of the company): “Would you email me a picture of each new hire? Or maybe make me flashcards? I ran into a guy smoking outside the building and asked him if I could help him. He said ‘No, I work here.’ It was awkward. I felt like a disconnected owner and it bugged me.”

    It’s probably no surprise that Bob is the owner who causes consternation for all and has pretty much no business sense, while John is the one we actually all look to.

  36. Stranger than fiction

    Well, y’all, I have an entertaining story, to say the least, but it all worked out…
    My significant other was recently recruited away from his current job that he wasn’t miserable at, just had a lot of frustrations and wasn’t being paid enough. The new job offered him a 50% increase in compensation and a step up, overseeing several departments, as well as bonuses current job didn’t have, and stock options current job didn’t have. So, thinking it’s the career opp of a lifetime he went for it. Old job was very professional about it and boss said he was disappointed but understood. He started new job on Monday, and in his first meeting of the morning, the first thing the team asked was “So, do you know if we’re going to make payroll this time?” Then throughout the day he spoke to a couple of employees that gave him a truckload of dirt- they missed 4 paychecks in a row back in July/August, they owe employees 5 million in backpay since 2013, when they do get paid, it’s like .60 cents on the dollar, they’ve 1099’d employees when they should be W-2, several have lost their homes, divorces have ensued, and one guy was sleeping in the office for almost a year, and one guy even committed suicide!! Several have left, a few have cases open with the EDD, and one who just won his case (the guy my SO replaced) in which they gave the company 9-12 months to pay him what he’s owed. Why would anyone stay there under the circumstances you ask? They’re enticing people saying an IPO is coming this year, it’s in the bag, you’re all gonna get rich if you just see it through, etc. And, they’ve even recently gotten some employees to sign documents for more stock options in lieu of their backpay! So, 50 shades of illegal going on here. Tuesday morning, he called old boss and said he made a huge mistake and asked if they’d have him back. Old boss made it happen and he was reinstated by Wed. and starts back at old job this Monday! Thank God! It all worked out, otherwise I’m sure I would have been writing Alison asking wtf we should do. After the new year, he will be speaking to the EDD as well, since we highly doubt he’ll be paid for the week he worked there.

    1. Lillian McGee

      Oh. My. Gosh. I wish you could tell us the company so I can look it up on Glassdoor for further horror….

    2. SaraV

      Holy smokes. Thank goodness for your SO having a good relationship with their OldJob boss. I have the mental picture of grabbing onto a rope before falling off a cliff.

    3. Kyrielle

      That’s a literal jaw-dropper. Yikes! So glad he had a good relationship with his previous employer and was able to get reinstated – and you and he got quite the story out of it!

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Thanks you guys. It’s so crazy! The guy flat out lied to his face about the financial state of the company, and it’s private so nothing is published. And the product is very promising, but also not as ready for market as they told him. Um, not sure if I want to out them right out, but it’s in Orange County, CA, near the airport named after an actor, and it’s in the video surveillance industry. ;)

    4. Tris Prior

      Yikes. I mean, how do you even vet for that sort of thing… I guess talk to current employees to make sure that the company’s actually paying them? Honestly I don’t think it would occur to me to ask that question.

      Though, when I’ve done that in the past (talked to current employees while trying to figure out whether there was work/life balance, not asking whether the company’s failing to pay people), I was lied to, repeatedly. One reason why I am NOT looking forward to my upcoming job hunt. Some companies will flat out lie to you to get a warm body in there. :/

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Sadly I did just see the Glassdoor reviews but he doesn’t have an account and didn’t think of that. He spoke with a couple people in his network and they were like “oh yeah they do that ____ product it looks pretty cool”. And his spidey senses were completely off about the hiring manager said he clicked with him etc etc…tough lesson.

  37. Uni Admin

    Any advice for being an admin and dealing with coworkers who think they’re above you/better than you because you’re just an admin? I’ve noticed there’s 3-4 people in my office who can be very rude and abrupt in their tone with me. Examples range from throwing things down on my desk to telling me that I “need” to do something in a very demanding way. And I get that it’s part of my job to do those things, but they never seemed to learn that “please” and “thank you” can go a long way. It’s very off-putting.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      This probably isn’t the greatest suggestion, but I’d start cheerfully (and pointedly) saying “You’re welcome!!”

    2. Stranger than fiction

      Not sure I have any advice, but I can commiserate. I was told by our top sales guy a few months ago to “just shut up and listen for a minute” when I dared to have a question regarding his request. Since then I’ve ignored his calls and only deal with him via email.

    3. Dawn

      If it were me I’d kill them with kindness and professionalism. “Throwing things down on my desk”= “Oh Sansa, did you trip on the carpet there? Happens to me all the time, don’t worry about it! Now, what can I help you with? *big smile*” and then if they continue to throw things down, keep commenting on them tripping. “I ‘need’ to do something in a demanding way”= “Thanks for letting me know Wakeen *big smile* I will be able to get that back to you by (however long it will take you, plus at least a 3 hour “having to deal with your crap” tax) *big smile*”

      And rude/abrupt people would definitely get the big smiles and being super nice and professional and then would absolutely get the “your task will take me the absolute longest it possibly can without getting me in trouble” treatment. Just be sure that for nice and cordial people you’re completing their stuff in record time so when Wakeen or Sansa complains about how long it takes you to do stuff they are met with “Huh, that’s weird, Uni Admin always turns my stuff around on a dime!”

      1. catsAreCool

        “If it were me I’d kill them with kindness and professionalism.” This!

        Also, if they act this way in other places, think about how many times someone at a restaurant must have messed with their food. (I’m not condoning messing with someone’s food, and never have, but this idea makes me smile for some reason.)

      2. Uni Admin

        I like this advice, but some of them stuff I can’t put off (unfortunately) as it is a priority. I’ve also noticed that one of the guys who does this is a definite hoverer – he asked me three times in the span of an afternoon if I had gotten to something yet, until I very firmly told him it was on my list of things to do and he’d know when it was done. The harassment + initial tone did not win him any favors and I don’t feel like it’s improved much sense… he’s a nice guy, but it’s frustrating.

    4. Not me

      Been there.

      -“Don’t throw things at me.” “You don’t need to talk to me like that.”
      -“I’m doing (thing) for (manager), and I’ll help you with (‘needed’ thing) when I’m done.” You’re “helping you with this,” not “doing this for you,” reiterating that you work for your manager, not them.

      The people I’ve worked with who behaved like this tended to have other problems, too, and didn’t stick around for long. :-)

    5. Anonymous Educator

      I used to be a receptionist, and there were people who were shocked I had a master’s degree and had done other more respected jobs before. Sometimes people just bring their own prejudices and snottiness. Admin assistants and receptionists aren’t stupid or lowly. No one should be looked down upon or treated that way. I wish I had some advice, but if they treat you that way, they’re not likely to take seriously anything you have to say anyway.

      1. catsAreCool

        I don’t get why people look down on other people who do honest decent work that is helpful in general. I guess they’re just snobs. Seems like they miss out on getting to know good people.

    6. Anxa

      Do you have regular work hours and benefits? There could be some resentment from workers that don’t make near a living wage and feel resentful over your having a desk or a regular schedule. Or perhaps they’re associating you with bureaucracy and red tape? Obviously that’s not your fault, but I wonder if that has anything to do with this.

      I know a few people who have little patience with their admin because their admin is grossly incompetent, makes far more money than many others that work really hard, and is pretty lazy. But there’s a subset that’s just as snobby toward the incredibly conscientious and supportive administrative assistant who is extremely underpaid for the value she brings to the department.

      Is there anyway you could prioritize tasks for the people that treat you a little better without compromising your work performance or jeopardizing the success of people attached to projects attached to the offenders?

      1. Uni Admin

        We all have identical work hours and benefits so far as I know; though I’m unionized where some of them aren’t (and wouldn’t want to be), the university’s benefits are straight across the board. I also know (because salary ranges are available) that I make significantly less than most of them – we’re talking at least $10k less. So if anything, I’m the one who’s struggling, not them!

        I may try that, but there’s definitely situations where I can’t not prioritize their tasks without it reflecting poorly on me.

  38. Anon31

    Has anyone ever felt like they were being punished for taking sick days? We get a pretty generous amount to use each year, and because of that I’ll usually take a half sick day off whenever I have a Dr. appointment. I’ve been dealing with a variety of health issues this year, nothing extremely serious but I guess I’ve had one or 2 appointments per month on average. After taking a full day last week and a half day this week, my boss asked me what was up, but in more of a nosy/irritated way than a concerned way. I just gave a vague answer and brushed it off, but they seem noticeably irritated at me since then. I don’t feel comfortable explaining what my appointments have been for, and don’t like that I’m being looked at suspiciously when I did nothing wrong.

    1. fposte

      Why not raise the issue with your manager? “I thought you seemed concerned about my work absence and I wanted to make sure we’re on track about my productivity.”

    2. AnotherFed

      Do your appointments tend to be on the same day or days of the week? It could be that your absences line up with a regular meeting or recurring task, so they stand out more and/or mean the same person always covers for you. In that case, I’d tweak fposte’s script to ask if your manager has any concerns about the specific timing of your absences.

    3. Anonsie

      Oh yeah, people hate that. I don’t even have to be out of work that much for my health issues (like 7 sick days a year and like 4 times in a year I might have to leave early or come in late for an appointment) and it’s been an issue with at least one person above me in every job I’ve ever had where they took it as a character flaw and tried to get at me about it. It’s a Thing anyone who has an ongoing health problem can tell you is extremely prevalent and you don’t ever notice it until it happens to you.

      If you need to miss work for regular doctor’s appointments for an ongoing health issue, get FMLA coverage for it so it’s protected. You’ll think you don’t need it and your health isn’t that bad and etc, but you won’t ever think you need it until it’s too late and you’re really in a hole.

    4. Not So NewReader

      We knew we were being punished. Silent treatment, heavier work loads, lack of help when requested and so on. Yep. It was pretty clear to us.

      The answers were fairly simple, but since management was doing the silent treatment discussion was not so simple. The answers included timing of the appointments, some points in the day were better than others and some days of the week were better than others. The other part of the answer included planning or staging, basically, getting key work accomplished so that others could keep working.

      The major problem was getting the boss not to act like a five year old when an employee missed a day.

  39. Retail Gal

    Whew. Nothing like visiting/working at another store to realize just how good you have it at your store.

    I was asked if I was available to travel to Much Bigger Store in Much Bigger City on Thursday to help them finish preparing for an official visit from some top corporate people travelling from out-of-state. I was recruited for receiving/dock, and I thought I understood it needed to be cleared of freight before the visit.

    So six of us travel up there…3 to help receiving, 3 to help in other places. The dock is probably 4x the size of our store’s, and it’s just filled with freight that needs to be processed. We got there between 9:30a – 10a, and worked the best we can. We were under the impression we would work until 6p, but the receiving workers for that store started to leave at 3. So we “wandered” out onto the floor to find our co-workers and help them the best we could. Needless to say, that dock was NOT clear when we left, and I feel like it won’t be anytime soon.

    This is, I believe, the newest…and one of the biggest…stores in the region. But it just felt like there was this dark underbelly of dysfunctionality. Our store ain’t perfect, but I think I’ll take it over Much Bigger Store any day.

  40. Not a cat person

    Anyone have any advice on finding clients to do custom work for (as a side gig)?

    I am an artist in my spare time and my following on social media and in my local community is starting to grow (a little) and I would love to do some custom work or freelance projects for local businesses or people or whoever in 2016. I have no idea how to get started. I’ll obviously mention on my website and social media that I’m open for commissions etc. but is there a way to more actively attract clients? Would doing example work for a business I’d like to work with be a good idea or is that too presumptuous (or does it send a message that I’ll work for free)? Is it as simple as just asking if they have any work for me? I’ve never done anything like this before and I have no idea how to go about it. Any advice or resources would be amazing!

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Unfortunately, I don’t know a way. From what I’ve seen from my friends who’ve done freelancing, it’s usually either a drought or a deluge. Getting one to three regular clients is the hardest part. Then if you do get over the hump, suddenly you have to start turning away people (not a bad problem to have). I found a good little side gig last year that was just by happenstance (a former manager needed some contract work done and knew I could do it).

    2. Dynamic Beige

      What kind of art do you do? Is it something that can be advertised? I mean, if you do pet portraits, for example, there seems to be a lot of people who do things like that given how many “My friend Wakeen is soooo talented! He just finished this portrait of our dear departed tarantula Quentin, I’m giving it as a gift to my Dad this year, he misses Q so much! If you want a portrait of your pet, contact him here” kind of things that pop up in my Facebook.

      If your art is not like that — do not make stuff for businesses for free. Some places, like coffee shops, may have a local artist’s work on the walls for sale — keep your eye out for that. If there are places in your area where you could show your work, look out for that. There may be local artist’s collectives you can join for more exposure. If you’ve got business cards and a website, you could go to networking events and talk about what it is you do/if they have any art on their walls. Maybe some piece you’re especially proud of on a postcard sized thing? There are places out there that will do printing of such things for cheaper than you might imagine.

      Otherwise, get a website. Every new piece you do, put it up there with a suggested price, post about it on your Twitter/Facebook (make your own page for your art). Have something on your website that talks about how you’re available for commissions/custom work with some sort of contact form. Find someone you know who understands SEO so that your keywords will get you higher in searches. If you’re going to work for free or cheap, do a custom piece for a friend who is willing to give you a testimonial that you can put on your website. Turn the whole thing into an example of how you work — “I received these photos of X from $Friend and made these initial sketches (show scans of them or whatever your process is). We agreed that [example of kind of negotiating that went on]. The final piece took Y amount of time. I’m very proud of how it turned out and $Friend is thrilled with the result. [insert testimonial/photo of art hung in their place, whatever]”

      The thing is, this isn’t going to happen overnight. You will need to work at it to get your name out there, your work in front of people. Not all people may be the ones you want to work for but they may know people who are and will pass your name around.

  41. Rebecca

    I just want to say that I work with preschoolers. I just went to the ladies room, washed my hands, and reached for paper towels – empty. AGAIN. So, I had to dry my hands on my pants, to down to the supply closet, and replace the paper towels. This happens all. the. time. People use the last of things, never speak up, and let it for the next victim to find. Earlier this week I made a similar supply run for toilet paper. The water cooler bottle was bone dry empty too, so I lugged a jug of water from the stash and replaced it, too. Again, the person who used the last of the water didn’t notice? If you can’t lift the jug, everyone understands that, but you have a mouth and ways to communicate, SO PLEASE JUST SAY SOMETHING! My time is as valuable as yours. Same deal with the coffee pots. Everyone likes to drink the coffee, but somehow can’t see that the pots need to be rinsed out or taken off the burners when they’re nearly empty.

    Grrrrrr. Now I’m grumpy and have wet pants to boot.

    1. Nanc

      Oh my gosh, are you me?! Do you also have the coworker who, rather than walk 20 more steps to the supply closet, will raid your desk for pens, pencils, sticky notes, etc., so that you have to take 20 steps to replace them?

      I’m sorry you have wet pants and seriously, do they have little elves at home who take care of these pesky chores or do they just leave them undone?

    2. xarcady

      That was OldJob. Even if people did replace something, like paper if the copier ran out, they’d go down the hall and get one ream of paper. Which would last about 2 hours. The thought of bringing back 2 or 3 reams of paper never crossed their minds.

      At one point, I noticed that the guys in the office were coming out of the men’s room and washing their hands in the kitchen, which was very close to the rest rooms. And I realized this had been going on for a few days, and just not registering in my brain. So I asked one of them what was going on–was the bathroom sink plugged up or something? Nope. There was no soap or paper towels in the men’s room.

      And no one thought to ask where the supplies were?

      Just mind boggling.

      As for changing the water jugs, I finally emailed the entire office and asked who would be willing to change them if asked, and posted a list of names by the water cooler, with a note that if the water was all gone, you could ask anyone on the list to put in a new jug of water.

      And as for the people who leave a bathroom stall without toilet paper, when there is a supply in a cabinet in the bathroom, my wish for them is that they get caught without TP the next time they need it.

    3. em2mb

      I feel like you described every office, ever. I feel like the crowd that hangs out here is probably the handful of people in every office who are the only ones to make more coffee, change the paper towel roll, etc. I swear in our office (of 30 or so), there are four of us that do these mundane tasks and that’s it.

    4. CollegeAdmin

      REPLACING THE WATER JUG, ugh. I’m in a department of 8, and only two of us ever replace the jug – myself and my one male colleague. Two of the non-replacers have repeatedly told me not to replace it (“Make Wakeen do it, that’s what men are for!”). Umm, no.

      And to make matters worse – Wakeen’s got a bad back and I’ve got a bad shoulder, so technically neither of us should be doing it!

      1. Windchime

        I finally bought myself a water pitcher with a filter in it because I was sick of watching people drain not only the jug, but also the reservoir inside the water cooler and then sauntering away. I replaced that giant bottle time and time again until I finally decided that I would just make my own filtered water and let other people use the cooler. So annoying. Fortunately, we have housekeeping staff who take care of filling the paper towel and toilet paper holders. There is even some kind soul on the housekeeping team who notices when the tissue box on my desk is getting low and leaves me a fresh box under my current box. That’s pretty good service.

    5. Storyofmylife

      All I can do is commiserate! I took vacation over Thanksgiving week. I left contact information in my “away” message and let all coworkers know that *if* something needed ordered to please contact. Of course, I had the supply closet jammed full before leaving. I got one frantic email and wrote an order for some stuff that it turns out we had plenty of, and one mission-critical item ended up used at 3x the usual rate and instead of letting me know that things were getting low, let it run out and would rather gripe about it. Thankfully my boss is understanding and realizes that the usage was completely excessive and that I held up my end of the bargain. It still bugs me.

  42. Nethwen

    I’m trying to get information on what a reasonable hourly rate would be if we were able to hire a part-time tech person to deal with our network, server 2012, and other computer/internet things. I usually spend 2 – 5 hours a week on maintenance and troubleshooting, so it would definitely be a low-hour part-time position.

    1) Is it reasonable to try to hire a trained tech person to give us 4 hours a week of computer services with more added on a case by case need?
    2) What is the correct term for someone who works with all the things mentioned above? I tend to use IT person and tech support interchangeably, but I suspect there are specific terms for different specializations.
    3) What is a reasonable hourly range for a company with about 12 computers, keeping in mind that around here, we have to fight to get $30,000/yr for people with masters degrees?

    1. Nanc

      We use a local service in our area called Dr. Networking http://www.drnetworking.net/ (I’m sticking in the URL so it goes to moderation as I’m not sure I’m allowed to plug a for profit company here). We contract so they come in twice a month to check up and monitor things for a flat fee. If we need them for other stuff there’s an hourly rate that’s pretty reasonable.

      You could try finding a similar service in your area and see what they charge. I think that might be easier than finding a part-time person, unless you go with a student or a retiree.

    2. Dawn

      If you only need 4 hours/week it might be a better idea to see if you can contract out your IT services to a company instead of hiring on an individual.

      1. Anonymous Educator

        +1 on looking for a company instead of an individual. Either way, though, be prepared to shell out the “big bucks” if you have to fight to pay $30k to employees with master’s degrees.

    3. the gold digger

      we have to fight to get $30,000/yr for people with masters degrees?

      If they could fix a computer, they could get more than $30K. :)

      I was hired for a temp job eight years ago – they asked if I could do databases and I said sure because I knew Crystal reports and I knew just enough Access to be dangerous.

      They wanted someone to build a super complex data from scratch. For seven dollars an hour.

      I had to quit because I had no idea what I was doing. I felt awful for having taken two days’ of pay. I later asked around and learned that – even eight years ago – pay for a DBA was about $75 an hour.

    4. Student

      You are looking for a system administrator, typically abbreviated as sysadmin or sys-admin. A sysadmin would normally be the person who designs a network and maintains it, takes care of sever upkeep and maintenance, sets up automation to do backups and computer reloads, etc. This is usually someone who can set up systems to make routine maintenance things easier and faster to do, require less maintenance over time, be more secure, etc. It’s a higher level professional job. You’ll probably pay ~$100+ per hour for this kind of service, and you can very probably contract it out on an as-needed basis. Look for a shop that supports your specific kinds of needs – specific to your operating system(s), networking needs.

      You might instead/also be looking for a computer help desk worker. That’s the term for a person who would do customer/user support – configure a person’s computer to use the email server, help someone figure out why they can’t access email on their smartphone, troubleshoot why your computer is suddenly running slowly (virus), and generally do the lower-level IT tasks that people need a lot of daily help with. This kind of position is usually entry-level and can be done competently by someone at an intern / college student level with a bit of supervision. It’s basically a person who googles things for your less technically apt staff members.

      An IT contractor is sometimes willing to also handle these help-desk tasks in addition to the higher-level tasks, but you’ll probably stretch your budget further if you just try to contract out the different needs to different contractors, or if you just assign help-desk duties to a current staff member who is already technically proficient. Some companies will provide the help-desk level work as a service instead of on contract (think the “geek squad” of Best Buy), which sounds like it’d meet some of your needs.

      1. Nethwen

        I know this is a late comment, but this response was so helpful, Student. Being able to use accurate terminology will help me build my case. Staff and I function as help desk workers; we need someone with the skills of a system administrator. Thanks!

  43. Tris Prior

    Spent most of this week processing the shutdown of my company/impending job loss this winter/spring. Talked to my hairstylist about how to safely get the purple out of my hair on my own, for interview purposes (still pissed off that I even have to do this as my hair color has nothing to do with the quality of my work, but whatever; I am assuming that I will have to pass as normal for interviews).

    I have a side business that is absolutely exploding with sales right now – so between getting my own orders out and dealing with Day Job (which is having a holiday rush too, though apparently it is too little too late), I haven’t really had time to sit down and figure out what exactly I am doing next, which fields I should be targeting since my previous field is pretty much dead, how I should update my resume when my job title has nothing to do with what I actually do all day. This is sort of freaking me out… but on the other hand the side gig is bringing in a lot of cash right now that I can hoard for when I’m out of work. So I feel like that’s the best use of my time right now.

    Argh…. just SO much to balance right now. SO much to do. Even my LinkedIn still says I’m at ExJob (I left nearly 5 years ago).

    Also, in the last few days I’ve had 3 other friends get laid off or fired, including one whose company is also closing. WTF, employers? Merry Xmas to you too! :P

    1. Oswin

      Are you absolutely sure that you have to take the purple out of your hair for interviews? I had dark purple hair with bright purple highlights for my interview with my current company and it’s in a relatively conservative area of the upper Midwest. I interviewed with 2 VP’s, and 4 managers and got the job.

      I had just gotten my hair dyed the week before, then got a call about about an interview, and there was no way I was wasting money on dyeing it back. As long as your hair isn’t too faded or messy, it might not be an issue.

      I know you probably want to play it safe, but purple hair isn’t always a kiss of death in interviews. Just my two cents.

      1. Tris Prior

        That gives me hope!

        It is actually pretty faded, and I’ve got some roots action going. I need to do something with it one way or another, and I am not sure I want to spend time/$ to redye it purple and then have to redye it again a “normal” color if I do get an interview. I also can’t drop $100 plus tip on professional color like I’ve been doing, and I lack skill to bleach my own roots. I might just throw some fake-but-still-passable dark red over it, like I used to before I started paying to get it done professionally.

    2. Nethwen

      Have you talked to your stylist about keeping the purple in while still looking “professional”? She might be able to suggest some changes that let you have the color but aren’t so obvious as to make you feel uncomfortable in more formal business situations. I remember one hair dresser that colored my hair a “professional” burgundy, but with amethyst highlights. Not the same as purple hair, granted, but there are options without having to give up feeling like you.

  44. experienced attorney

    I’m not happy where I am (gov’t work) and I am going to start my own law firm in 2016. Suggestion/tips/things to think about?

    1. Nanc

      Check with your local Small Business Development Center. https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc

      They’re a great resource on everything you need from local business licenses to setting up your bookkeeping and all that other fun stuff.

      Also, join your local Chamber of Commerce and go to their greeters meeting when you can. It’s a great way to meet other small business people who will probably be your initial clients. Let us know how it goes!

  45. Lunar

    Has anyone ever used an career counselor (a private one, not from a university)? I don’t have a very clear idea of what job or career path I should be going down, and I think I need help figuring it all out and figuring out how to get there from where I am now. If you have used one – was it helpful? How can I find a good person who would be the right fit for me?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      I tried going to a life coach for this reason but it wasn’t very helpful. I had already taken a bunch of the online career tests and they always suggest the same sort of thing. But I’m not sure that I want to do any of it – at least not enough to invest in going back to school.

      This wasn’t your question, but have you taken any of the free online career tests? Do any of the things that come up sound like they’d be a good fit? What do you hate about the jobs you’ve had? What do you like about them? What was your favorite job and why? Those are all questions the life coach asked me, and it put me back in the same type of jobs as career tests, so your mileage may vary!

    2. Azul

      Never used one, at least not on purpose, but I do think they can be helpful. Let me explain: when I worked with PreviousBoss, in addition to his role at my institution he was a psychologist and career consultant on the side. He has since moved on to do that work FT. I’ve never officially enlisted his services but just in conversation he’s gotten me to see things about myself and my career that have certainly improved my confidence professionally and personally, and I know he wasn’t even giving me the full shebang. So with that being said, I think that it depends. I certainly found him helpful and I hadn’t even hired him, but of course I cannot speak for other counselors. If you choose to go this route just make sure that you do your homework, same as you would with any certified counselor.

    3. Jules the First

      I’ve worked with career coaches a couple of times, first on the company dime, then on my own pennies. Honestly? The five hours of coaching I bought myself this spring were the best $1,500 I’ve ever spent on myself. It’s not that she told me anything I didn’t already know (because all she had to go on was what I told her), but she had an instinct for asking just the right question to get me to see something in a radically different way.

      Try Career HMO as a start – they do some group coaching sessions which can be a relatively affordable way to find out whether you’re the kind of person who can benefit from this. You can also try the International Coaches Federation or the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Both these organisations do certifications that require a certain number of ‘practice’ hours – which can be a good way to get coaching without paying a fortune.

    4. pieces of flair

      I know I’m a bit late, but if you’re still reading, I went to a career counselor after I got my Masters. (My mom’s agency offers career counseling services to employees and their family members for free. Nice benefit!) She was really great and gave me lots of valuable advice. I’ve actually seen a lot of the advice I got from her on this blog. Everything from what career I’m best suited for (librarian, although that’s not what I’m trained for and I’m not about to go back to school for it) to reworking my resume, to how I should dress for interviews. She even helped me prepare responses to common interview questions (like, if they ask about your weaknesses, what can you say that’s accurate, not a cop-out, and won’t actually work against you). So if you can find someone good and it won’t be a financial hardship, I would recommend it.

  46. TheLazyB (uk)

    Ok, so I don’t think there’s a good answer for this, but I’m interested in your views…

    I don’t normally write Christmas cards for work colleagues, but in my new job I am remote from most of my team, and I don’t have a desk in my office so I have to just sit wherever is free. I often sit round the same two teams, but I’ve found it extremely hard to get to know people. So I decided to send Christmas cards to my own team and to the two teams I sit round most.

    Only problem is, there is one person on my team who I know isn’t Christian, and one on one of the other teams who I suspect isn’t.

    In the uk there is quite an expectation that everyone celebrate Christmas even if they aren’t Christian (I am an atheist!) but I don’t know if that’s just because those who do are louder because they’re the majority :-/

    I went with sending cards to all, because I couldn’t bear to leave anyone out, but I’d love to know what y’all think.

    1. Nanc

      Many of my Jewish friends send Happy New Year cards. Here in the US there’s a pretty big selection at the stores. I don’t know if it’s just a thing in my area but it’s nice to get the cards.

      1. Dawn

        Yeah, this year I realized I was really not into sending Christmas cards because I’m secular and also because I realized that I was just sending the cards out because that’s what I was “supposed to do.” So I bought a bunch of New Year’s cards and will be starting a new tradition for me of sending those out instead!

    2. em2mb

      I usually send out Christmas cards because that’s what I celebrate, but there’s a pretty significant Jewish population at my job, so this year I picked up a small pack of Hanukkah cards to send to the people I *know* are Jewish. I wrote pretty generic messages in them, but I had several folks stop and tell me how nice they thought that was.

      But I figure most people like to get mail and won’t hate you if you send the wrong holiday.

    3. periwinkle

      I’m an atheist and don’t mind getting Christmas cards. However, back when I wasn’t too lazy to send mail, I sent out “seasons greetings” cards with wintry scenes usually featuring birds on a snowy branch (which describes about 50% of the cards out there).

    4. TheLazyB (uk)

      New Years cards!! They exist?! That totally solves my problem for next year. Glad I posted, thanks all!

  47. ella

    Half office gossip, half actual question (I admit I’m at BEC point with the coworker in question but I’m trying to adjust my attitude on that).

    One of my coworkers, who has the exact same job title and set of responsibilities as me, has been applying to other jobs while on the clock. Which, whatever. But he left an application-in-progress open on a shared work computer so I got to see his answers to a questionaire that the job application demanded. To answer the question, “What’s your most favorite/least favorite elements of your current position?”, his answer boiled down to, “My favorite part of my job is [off-site committee work that is completely tangential and unrelated to current job], and my least favorite part of my job is [primary job duty that is so fundamental to the job that the position contains this duty in the title].” And he listed his reasons.

    Is it just me, or is basically admitting that you really dislike/are uninterested in your current job not the best job-getting strategy for a job application? I can see it going both ways, especially if you’re (as he is) applying to jobs that are completely unlike your current position, but it doesn’t seem…diplomatic?

    1. Shell

      Eh, without further context this seems unremarkable to me. Lots of people get Job A and realized that the thing they’re most interested in is Duty X, but Job A has very little Duty X and a lot of Duty Y and Z, neither of which the applicant is all that interested in. So when the applicant applies for a Job B, C, and D, which all specializes in Duty X, the applicant would emphasize the interest in Duty X.

      Unless his reasons were insulting (e.g. “I hate Duty Y and Z because they are boring and dull and I don’t understand what person on this green earth would ever care about it”), I think it’s pretty normal. They could easily say something like “Duty Y and Z were the bulk of my responsibilities, but I realize that my strengths lie in Skill 1 and 2 which complements Duty X really well but not Duties Y and Z, etc. etc.”

  48. Ghost Pepper

    Feeling a little guilty about allowing a candidate to lowball her own salary.

    Bear in mind that I’ve never negotiated salary from the employer’s side before, only the employee’s side.

    I am a senior manager and a year ago hired a temp to help me a great deal with everyday projects. We have a very good working relationship and she has done a great job. (She also has a couple masters degrees, which don’t directly apply to her job.)

    More recently, I learned that she realizes only half the money we pay to the temp agency. For instance, we pay $60K a year to the agency. She makes about $29K (before taxes). So it began to make sense to my boss and I that we hire her as a full-time employee, given there was no end in sight for the all the projects she would be working on.

    When I asked my boss – who is the COO of the company – what he thought would be a good salary, he said, “How about $35K?” I was a little shocked and had thought closer to $50K. “Can we raise that number a bit?” He looked at me and said, “Okay – then let’s start at $40K.” I still felt uncomfortable with that but agreed to start there.

    I scheduled a meeting with my temp and asked her, “What are your salary expectations?”

    She said she didn’t know.

    I even asked her, “Is there a number you need to make?”

    Again, she didn’t know.

    Then I told her, “Well the number that my boss came up with is $40K. How do you feel about that?”

    She kind of raised her eyebrows and said, “Well, that’s a little lower than I thought. I had hoped for at least $45K.”

    I PROBABLY SHOULDN’T have said this, but I said – perhaps stepping outside of my manager role a bit – “He actually started with a lower number and I had to talk him up to $40K.”

    She raised her eyebrows again but didn’t respond.

    Then, I said, “You know, if you want to come back with another number, I can go back to him and see what he says.” (Yes, I was pretty much asking her to negotiate.)

    She said, “Well, I’d like $45K, but if he can meet me halfway between $40K and $45K, then that works.”

    He was ok with that and now she’s got a salary of $43,500. When I think she should have negotiated more aggressively. I suppose there is that fear that if she did negotiate too aggressively, we could have said, “Nah we’ll stick with the agency, and you can continue to make $29K a year.”

    Is it weird to feel this way? Have other hiring managers felt this way? Again, this is my first time being on the other side of the table.

    I know Alison says we should aim for a salary that will retain strong talent. The risk of paying someone too little is that they can always leave for another job. I think my boss knew that my temp was having trouble finding a permanent job. Which makes this all feel a little bit…off.

    1. em2mb

      Are you in the U.S.? I ask because if you’re hiring her full time with benefits, there are expenses associated there, as well. I think one of the things that surprised me most the first time I had a more managerial position was how many costs there are associated with bringing an employee on than just salary.

      Though the work our department does is fairly separate, we are university employees with decent health care and good retirement benefits. In addition to paying those, we have to pay this charge to the university for each employee we bring on that we jokingly call “the butt in a chair” fee on top of those other things, presumably to pay for lights and HVAC, even though we’re not adding space to our current office. All told, those expenses end up being about 35 percent of the average salary we pay our main category of employees.

      So while $40,000 might seem low compared to $60,000 to a temp agency, it might honestly not work out to be that much different once you add in some of those other things.

    2. periwinkle

      If you were paying her agency $60k a year, the typical agency cut is 40% so she should have been earning $36k a year. So her agency sucks unless they were giving her good benefits (hah!) to justify taking a larger cut. Your boss might have been calculating based on that in which case $35k + benefits is about right. $43.5k + benefits is most definitely not low-balling – your temp actually did a good job negotiating up to a much better salary! And if your company has a typical fringe of 20%, that’s $52k a year so you’re still saving money while your temp gets a 50% raise.

      Sounds like a win all around.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe

      She kind of raised her eyebrows and said, “Well, that’s a little lower than I thought. I had hoped for at least $45K.”

      Well then, why not say that when directly asked about salary expectations?? This sounds like a very frustrating conversation for you, OP, and I’m glad you tried to help her as much as possible.

      1. fposte

        There is a pervasive belief that the first one to name a number loses. I think it’s a bad notion, though.

        1. Snarky McSnark

          There are studies into the anchoring effect that have indicated that in people who are not experienced negotiators this first number said does tend to affect the end result.

      2. Amy UK

        She was probably bluffing at the end there. It’s very easy to name a slightly higher figure once an offer has been made, but not so easy to name the starting figure. Bearing in mind that you should always start negotiating a figure higher than what you want, the employee would basically have to name £50k+, which is probably not going to seem sensible to someone making £29k. They’d probably be concerned that the negotiations would stall right there, or her employer to think she’s crazy.

        By letting the employer name a number first, she can at least negotiate in the right ballpark. By coming up with her own number first, she might have massively low-balled herself. I don’t think it should be considered ‘frustrating’ that the lower status negotiator didn’t want to show her hand first.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      It sounds to me like she negotiated very successfully and you did a good job advocating for her. I’m not sure why you don’t see that as win all around!

      As far as I can see, her new salary is neither a lowball nor a savings to the company. If they were paying $60K, for time worked only, previously, she’s going to cost about $60k at that salary + benefits + sick days + holidays + vacation + other side of taxes, if not slightly more.

    5. Anonymous Educator

      As a couple of people have already mentioned, compensation isn’t just salary (it’s benefits, too), so $42K isn’t shabby at all, in this case.

      Keep in mind, too, that this isn’t written in stone in such a way that can’t be rectified. In one of my early jobs, I took a low salary that was appropriate for the position but ended doing a lot more than was required. When the boss’s boss learned from my boss what I was making, he was outraged and demanded immediately I get a huge raise.

      So if it turns out that the math doesn’t add up (even with benefits), and you think this person is underpaid and your company has the budget for it, there’s no reason you can’t just bump up her pay significantly in the future.

    6. Amy UK

      I don’t see what’s bad here- she got about a 50% raise. She was presumably quite content making £29k to have stayed with you so long without concrete plans to become perm, so to hop up almost £15k and gain benefits is probably a sweet deal to her.

      Also, when she said she was probably thinking of 45K, it was probably “I have literally no idea what they’re going to offer me and I’d be happy with a small raise so I’ll keep quiet…ooh they’re offering me a lot more than I thought…Oh crap, I should also name a number higher than what I’m being offered just so I don’t seem a pushover” rather than “I’ve been thinking of this number all along and I’m too scared to name it at the start”. Inside she was probably content with the £43k.

  49. Noah

    Have a weird one to throw out there today. Had my annual review yesterday. Nothing earth shattering and overall it went well.

    It wasn’t included in the written review, but my boss asked if I was enjoying my work and planned to stay. I said yes to both. He then said he wondered because my desk was not personalized with family photos or anything. We have a decent relationship so I reminded him that I’m single and don’t have children. Also, at oldjob I had a framed family photo and a photo of my niece and nephew on my desk but constantly had to explain that they’re not my kids, etc. I think I’ll print out a few photos of me with friends and family and tack them up to the cube walls, maybe rotate through a few.

    1. Sadsack

      What is the point of doing it now? You already discussed it with your boss. I hang stuff I like to look at in my cube, not stuff I think will give others a certain impression.

    2. periwinkle

      I agree with Sadsack. You don’t need to personalize your desk with photos – heck, you don’t need to personalize your desk with anything if you don’t want to. Maybe you just like a clean, uncluttered workspace?

      There are no photos at my desk. I do have a few small decorative items because I like them, plus a calendar with lots of gorgeous photos. Granted, they’re gorgeous photos of my company’s products, but hey…

    3. AnotherAlison

      Congrats on a good review. That is a weird comment. I lost my office this year. When I moved, I took almost all personal stuff home and I don’t think anyone has noticed. I have an old award, a couple kid-made pencil cups, and a coaster. That’s it.

      I don’t think you have to personalize it with pictures, but some accessories or toys might help with the impression that you’re there long-term.

    4. acmx

      Is this a new boss or just new position at same company (you moved recently, yes?). If it’s the same boss who had seen desk personalization before maybe he’s curious about the change.

      I have a couple of small model aircraft on my desk because they were given to me by coworkers but that’s it. I prefer a neater surface at work (especially as I can’t keep one at home! Ha).

    5. edj3

      It’s less of a weird comment and more a know your office situation (and also the job that you have plays a part in this whole personalization thing).

      I’ve been a consultant for over half my career, and when I took a job as an internal consultant (so an employee, not an outsider), I was coached to bring in a few personal items for my desk area. That was a normal thing at that company, and also helped the people I consulted with see that I was a real person, not just a drone coming in and leaving.

      Yes, I thought it was a bit silly but I did it anyway and have continued on doing it today. Everything that’s mine can still be toted out again in one trip but it helps everyone else feel more comfortable with me, and that’s why I do it.

    6. SL #2

      I think that it’s an awkward thing to bring up with anyone, but it’s also a subtle question about how you fit in with the office culture. When I started at my current job, one of the things I noticed was that my team all had personal things in their cubicles (sports pennants, funny print-outs, framed photos, etc). And then I noticed that the people my team collaborated with in other departments, as well as my boss, also had similar stuff in their cubicles. So I started bringing photos and my fave bands’ promotional postcards in. I keep everything in the same area so it’s less distracting, and so I can call it my happy corner.

      My coworker admitted that he was glad I picked up those subtle cues right away because he didn’t when he first started, until he had a similarly awkward conversation with our boss a couple years down the line.

    7. pieces of flair

      I for one think it’s important to express yourself. But, I guess if you just want to do the minimum…. ;-)

  50. temp is a four-letter word

    How can I convince my boss that toxic and unproductive people just need to go?

    Back story: we’re a unit of eight people altogether. All hourly, entry level office work, a mix of permanent and temps. We all do the same pool of work, though with varying degrees of difficulty.

    We had three out of the last five temps become nightmares. They all pretty much became clones of each other: deliberately unproductive, insubordinate, and confrontational. I don’t want to go into details here, but they play the same games that fool nobody. And that’s when the boss is here. In addition to the poor quality of work they actually accomplished. This goes on for months, while productive people get pissed off.

    The first two finally made their way out: one got moved to another unit, the other finally got replaced when they did something forbidden. This third one is the same BS artist, and has already referred to a coworker as a slur, IMO it’s only a matter of time before it’s another victim.

    My boss knows all about this, and so does my boss’ boss. But my boss would rather put up with it than get a replacement, if we were even able to get one. My argument is that if they’re this unproductive in addition to creating a toxic environment, it really would be addition by subtraction to get rid of them. Keeping them sets the tone for mediocrity. Even if we don’t get a replacement, it’s worth the risk IMO.

    1. xarcady

      Around here, there are a lot of qualified temps looking for work. So I’d say if the problem people are temps, let them go and ask the temp agency to send you better workers. That’s part of the point of temps–they don’t work out, you can call the temp agency and tell them you don’t want to see those people tomorrow.

      If they are permanent employees, it’s harder to get rid of them. And until your bosses see the problems for themselves, probably nothing will happen.

      1. temp is a four-letter word

        Yes, all of the offenders are temps.

        And I’m the one who would train them. I’d rather train someone who appreciates having a job than dealing with the one rotten apple every day.

  51. LawPancake

    Holiday etiquette question here! Should I send a thank you note for a vendor’s holiday “gift”? I say gift in quotes because, while there was a nice card from the person I’ve worked with there, the gift was a promotional book written by the company’s founder. Normally, if I receive a gift basket or something I’ll send a quick note but since this is essentially marketing material my inclination is to ignore it.

    1. TotesMaGoats

      I might send a quick email to that person but more of a “got the gift. Hope you have a great holiday/new year” something like that.

  52. Part-Time Employee

    Dear CEO,

    I work for your office every day and it wouldn’t function without the work that I do. If you could not dock a week’s worth of pay for the holidays this year, that’d be great.

  53. Michelle

    Best: I start my new job next week, and it’s a position that’s actually in my field. I’ve been working regular, and sometimes dead-end, jobs until something broke through. It finally did at a mainstream publication I’ve loved since I was a kid. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present.

    Worst: Moving during the holidays. Between buying gifts and moving expenses, I’m officially dead broke. But, at least I’ll be starting the new year with one goal/wish crossed off my resolution list.

  54. Wendy Chime

    Going just slightly anon for this.

    I’m off work for a couple of weeks. I have been suspecting that I’m burned out; in fact, I came to AAM the other day to comment about that and lo and behold, Alison had a post about being burned out! I ended up going to the doctor, who said that my anxiety and depression was basically out of control. So she recommended FMLA and that’s what I’m doing. I haven’t told my boss why I’m out; it just feels weird to tell him it’s because I basically can’t handle life. So the reason I gave was that I need to get a medical situation under control. Does that seem reasonable?

    1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

      Sounds very reasonable, I wouldn’t offer anymore information. if it were me, offering more info would make me anxious when I do go back. I have horrible anxiety and have been considering FMLA but I would never want to go back. Do you find your self anxious about having to return at some point? I’m afraid it would make me worse.

      1. Wendy Chime

        I’m actually trying not to think about going back. I’m worried about what people may be saying/thinking about me being gone (especially during the holidays — how convenient!). I did confide in one friend who is 100% trustworthy and he assures me that nobody is speculating or talking about my absence at all. I’m sure it’s just my anxiety that’s making me worry about it.

        I’m trying to just focus on today. And today that means heating up my leftover pizza and working on my crochet project, nothing else. Well, maybe a nap.

    2. Anna

      Isn’t that exactly what you’re doing? I think you were honest without having to go in to deep details.

  55. New to Nonprofits

    How do I know when the sky is actually falling in a nonprofit, or if it’s hysteria as usual?

    I’ve been working at a small arts nonprofit venue for about a year, and we’re going through a budget overhaul right now. I’ve heard that we’re four months from doors close if we don’t make serious cuts and overhaul our revenue and fundraising efforts. About a month ago, my boss and some longtime employees said to not worry, closure isn’t an option, but a few board meetings later and it’s suddenly a real possibility. Some longterm employees say that they’ve never seen anything like this before.

    I’m head of marketing, and I generally have a very high work ethic and loyalty to my company, and its mission deeply resonates with me. I want to do anything I can to “save” us, but I also feel like I’m taking too much of the burden on my shoulders, emotionally. This is only my second year out of college, and this job has helped me grow leaps and bounds, and here I’m able to constantly learn and experiment. I’m torn between leaving before it’s too late, or staying and using my skills to get through a difficult period (my gut says go with the latter).

    Basically – what signs should I look for to know whether a nonprofit is just stretched thin or in its final days? And if anyone has tips for keeping my nose to the grindstone for a business in trouble without falling into depression or a self-blame cycle, I’d greatly appreciate it.

    1. Dawn

      “I’ve heard that we’re four months from doors close if we don’t make serious cuts and overhaul our revenue and fundraising efforts.”

      Who have you heard this from? Direct from higher ups/ your manager or just through the rumor mill? Do you see a significant and impactful effort being made to slash expenses and overhaul revenue? If so, are these efforts working?

      IF you heard that from higher ups and IF you have seen *significant and impactful* efforts being made, then IF you still feel strongly that you’d like to tough it out and help make things better, stay. Otherwise, GO GO GO GO GO GO GO! And even if you do stay and try to help make it better, get your resume together STAT and start looking for another job anyway. It can be extremely hard to pull out of a tailspin.

      1. Nonniemoose

        I strongly second this advice.

        It also depends on how big/small your nonprofit is (in terms of people and in terms of money coming in). In my experience at a 45-person nonprofit, the sky doesn’t fall very often, if ever. We had a hiring freeze two years ago to make back some of our reserve money but then we hired 3 new positions this year so we’re doing fine. It could be very different at your workplace, however. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, I don’t think.

    2. Snarky McSnark

      I went through a huge restatement at my place of work, and being there during a crisis mode early on in my career helped me better handle issues later on. Sometimes you learn and gain more experience through these types of fluctuations than years on the job. While I agree that you should freshen your resume, I would look at this as an opportunity to learn.

    3. NicoleK

      Bad signs: withholding of vendor payments
      Worse signs: withholding of employee expense reimbursement checks
      Worst signs: difficulty making payroll

      1. Not So NewReader

        Adding:
        Financial statements show that the miscellaneous expense is the second largest expense on the books.

  56. LadyMountaineer

    Have any of you ever worked for a boss with what appears to be drug or alcohol problems? My friend was recently promoted and her new boss seemed like he would be someone awesome to work for. They have complementary skills sets so they can both learn from each other and she’s really excited about that. However, his behavior has become increasingly erratic. This all came to a head when he ran his car into a tree while the two of them were traveling together for a work meeting. He was hospitalized that evening then released. When he returned to work he accused my friend of calling his wife (HR did, she was listed as an emergency contact) and has remained upset at HER over his wife knowing about his accident (?!)

    She recently found two unlabeled prescription bottles in the back of a filing cabinet in their work area. She just left them there as she doesn’t know what to do. His boss has been working with HR to see if he can take leave or if there is some way they can force him to get help. Is there anything she can do?

    1. fposte

      If she’s already talking to his boss, it sounds like she’s done what she can do on that front (if she hasn’t mentioned the prescription bottle information to the boss’s boss, that definitely should happen). Does she want to leave that position because of this?

  57. TheGrinch90

    I started a new job three weeks ago and I absolutely hate it. Simply put, I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire with this job. I won’t go too in depth with the details but the biggest reason is that it’s not a great environment for me (coworkers are condescending and have actually insulted me) and they won’t give me any work. Luckily, I was able to get my old job back because I was good performer and the managers in my department enjoyed working with me. I start in two weeks. My question is, do I have to give two weeks notice? I fear that since I’m so new and am not working on any projects yet, my manager will just say that it makes sense for me to leave immediately. I can afford to be without a paycheck for two weeks but I’d rather not dig into my savings. I was honestly planning on working up until I return to my old job and then sending an email stating that I would be resigning effective immediately. How would the hiring managers out there feel if a new person did something like that?

    1. Dawn

      Yeah don’t do that. They might be terrible but you still don’t want to burn bridges as you never know when it might circle back around to bite you in the butt. You start your old job back in two weeks; go to your manager TODAY and say “Hey this isn’t working out this is my two weeks notice effective today, my last day will be X, thanks so much.” Easy peasy and then your bases are covered.

        1. Graciosa

          From a professional perspective, that’s not a bad analogy.

          Just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to be bitchy about it, and I would not have gratuitously said anything to someone who didn’t ask – but when you do ask, there’s a risk that you’re not going to like the answer.

    2. Meg Murry

      I would be furious if you did this. Yes, they might say “nevermind, just go”. But right now they might still have a chance at getting the 2nd choice person to take the position. You waiting 2 more weeks means they have to wait 2 more weeks to fill the position.

      You are going to be pretty thoroughly damaging a bridge by leaving after a month – but if you quit with no notice after a month, you will have thoroughly burned the bridge, and will probably do long term damage to your reputation in your industry, if this is a “career level” job.

      Careers are long, memories are long. I am working with people I first encountered in this industry 5 and 10 years ago – never knew we would both wind up in the same place back then, or even that I would still be in this industry at this point. Word of mouth reputation means a lot.

      1. SL #2

        +1 to your reputation comment. We have a rotating pool of consultants that we work with regularly… and years later, we still won’t work with certain people because of certain actions, even though it’s been years and everyone is still in the same industry. This sort of stuff sticks to you, both the good and the bad.

    3. Shell

      Don’t do that. Quitting after a month is generally bridge-burning behaviour, but quitting after a month with no notice? You’re looking at burning that bridge with a bazooka and salting the earth behind you so thoroughly that not a single blade of grass will grow there for the next three decades.

      Give your notice and let the chips fall.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      It’s a crappy thing to do that you can probably get away with. Unless you want a job, in the future, that has background checks and an accounting every job worked no matter what, leaving a short term stint without notice will likely never catch up with you.

    5. TheGrinch90

      Thanks everyone! I will definitely be taking your advice (particularly Dawn’s wording)!!

      Initially I thought my initial approach would be okay because if the situation were reversed and my employer weren’t happy with me, they would sever the relationship immediately since I’m in the 90 day probation period. Just out of curiosity, why is there an expectation of notice for the employee but not the employer? Please note that I’m specifically referring to during the probation period.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        It works out, mostly, that a decent company gives two weeks severance and a decent employee gives two weeks notice (with amounts measured up and not down for years of service and other circumstances).

        Practically, new employees can go to lunch and not come back, it’s happened.

        The right/wrong issue you’re dealing with at the moment is that you already know you’re out of there. By not telling anybody, you’d be wasting the time of everybody around you for those two weeks. I get that you don’t like them and maybe you haven’t been treated right but it’s still wrong.

        Sometimes we do wrong things because we don’t have another choice but it seems like you have a choice.

      2. fposte

        To add to what Wakeen said, there *is* a expectation of notice from the employer, in the social sense; we’d bitch about an employer who let you go on the spot for reasons other than misconduct, and we’d bitch about an employee who walked out with no notice for the same reason. We’re not talking about legal restrictions here but conventions.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Interesting responses. All I have seen is people getting fired on the spot in such situations. So it’s nice to hear from people that would not do that. The explanation that was routinely used was that it is a waste of money to keep training a person who is leaving.

      OP, maybe you can start back at your other job sooner if the current job does fire you on the spot.

  58. Camellia

    A coworker just told me that ups cut her husband’s retirement by 52%. I didn’t know they could do that. How can they do that?

    1. fposte

      Short answer: because Congress just passed a law that says they can.

      Longer answer: because pensions come out of specific funds for those specific employees, and some pension funds are doing very well and some pension funds do not have the money to meet their obligations. ERISA historically has offered some protection against cutting agreed benefits; there are also state provisions, given that a lot of people in pensions are state employees, but those provisions are of varying strength. The UPS situation is complicated in that UPS withdrew from this particular pension fund a few years ago and set up its own, so new employees aren’t paying into the fund that pays this group of retirees’ pensions. With no new money coming in, the fund is heading toward a cliff.

      People talk about the problem of pensions going away, but the days when pensions were a no-brainer yes-please have also gone away.

      1. Camellia

        Thanks so much; seems like a complex problem. It’s so scary. One day you have something and the next, half of it disappears. She says they will be okay since their house is paid off but now she will have to postponeat her retirement for the foreseeable future.

        My retirement plan is…work till I die! :/

        1. Not So NewReader

          Many people will have to. I probably will. My friend who is in his early 70s, therefore retired for a while, has found his pension is going away also. He tried to withdraw the balance (a few years ago) to put it some place safer and found he could not. He is forced to sit and watch his pension disappear. On the good side, he has a good pension income so maybe he can save a sinking ship if he thinks sharp. And another plus both he and his wife developed work from home businesses that they can do at their own pace. This gives them two more income streams.
          I hope the next generation makes out better than us boomers, but it doesn’t seem that much better for them.

  59. Meg Murry

    Question about written reports for customers, and font and stylistic choices. It’s kind of based on the old thread a while back about “is it terrible to use Times New Roman on your resume”? (Alison’s answer was basically “no one cares unless you are working in a design field”.

    My company is not a design field – we’re pretty far from it. However, we have a “style guide” for report writing that we’re all supposed to follow, so that all the reports we write can be merged together and look the same stylistically. However, it’s based on suuuuuuper old conventions from back when the reports used to be handed to a secretary to be written on a typewriter – the least of which is 2 spaces between periods, it gets even more ridiculous from there, and requires a crap ton of tweaking because absolutely nothing in the style guide is the default in Microsoft Word anymore.

    So my goal for this year is to bring our style guide up to at least the 21st century. However, I’m still a bit of a fuddy-duddy in that I think the Word defaults are terrible (sorry, I just hate Calibri, and I really hate that it wants to make headers blue and WTF with the weird line spacing). We do scientific writing, so we need tables and numbers to the most important and most readable of everything. I’m hoping to build a custom Style Set in word so that we can just pick “Heading 1” instead of “size X font Y, bold, paragraph spacing Z” like we have to do now.

    Ok, so, long story short – can someone point me to some style guides that look professional to the scientific community and not like we are living in 1975 anymore, but also will be easy to implement and will last the test of time if they wind up sticking for another 20-40 years “because that’s how we’ve always done it”?

    1. Cambridge Comma

      Join the CE-L mailing list and ask that question there; you will get more advice than you can shake a stick at.

    2. moss

      A good technical writer should be able to create a template for you. You might have a person like that on staff already.

      1. Meg Murry

        Haha, I wish. We have 7 employees. No technical writers. I’m as close as we get.

        Honestly, I hate Microsoft Word so much and the way it likes to gobblygook my formatting, I wish I could just throw it out and make everyone use LaTex, but I think my coworkers would cry. I was about 5 minutes from writing my last report in html because at least then I could get the tables to be the size I actually wanted them to be and it wouldn’t randomly change fonts on me.

    3. Mockingjay

      Since you have to use the Monster that is Word, keep the format as clean as possible.

      Keep in mind the delivery method when picking fonts: printed looks different than onscreen. We don’t print many documents – most are read onscreen. When I revamped our style guide, I widened the paragraph line spacing for easier reading.

      For our templates, I cleaned up the default Style codes (especially the all-important “Normal”) and created a few new ones. The templates themselves are saved as .dotx files. The .dotx files eliminate a lot of formatting hassles because they open into new, clean Word .docx files.

      Our docs contain a lot of data tables, too, so I wrote a specific section in the style guide on table formatting.

      Good luck!

    4. TL -

      Look in some of the mid-tier journals; the top-tier ones base their style guides on space restrictions but a solid mid-tier journal will probably start giving you good ideas.

      Also, look at vendor literature for their products – depending on what you’re conveying, their stuff could be really helpful and all the major companies have nearly everything online.

  60. Desert Boots

    Should I feel bad that I wasn’t invited to my company’s holiday party?
    It was last Saturday at the home office in NYC, and I’m at a satellite sales office in the midwest. Please understand that my sales are the best in the state – we are only 1 year old in the state, and I have been working like 60+ hours a week to introduce our products in an already saturated market.
    Oh, and salespeople from other markets were invited to the party. (Thanks for posting those pictures on Facebook)
    I would have paid my own airfare, as I have family there, and I would have taken off an extra day or 2 from work (unpaid) to visit them.
    Am I being childish?

    1. Sadsack

      Can you ask your manager if the holiday party is only for certain employees or something? I’d ask about it and not feel bad for asking.

    2. TotesMaGoats

      I might drop a little “saw the pics on FB of the party. Looks like folks had a good time.” And then let it go. If you get an sincere apology then might just be an oversight.

    3. Nonniemoose

      What other markets were invited? New Markets? Old markets? Markets that are friends with the event planners? There could be other factors for why some people were invited but you weren’t, but unless it was every market except you that was invited, I wouldn’t take it personally.

      I’m at HQ and we don’t invite our field offices to the holiday party because they’re in the field. Our Midwest director happened to be in town this year, so we invited him. Another field office is only 3 hours away and when one of the junior staffers heard about the HQ holiday party, just e-mailed to ask if she could come and we said, “yes, of course!” (We’re a pretty casual office, though.) So it wasn’t an active exclusion, but some thoughtless-ness on HQ’s part.

  61. Ann Furthermore

    Working on a project that thankfully is something different from the nightmare of the last 18 months, which is nice, but it’s very disorganized and haphazard, and not enough time was built into the project plan for the technical stuff, which is frustrating.

    Earlier in the week I got an email about what time the external software provider will run the daily data extract for our interface. Apparently there was a long conference call to talk about this. As we are in Denver, we requested that the report be run at 5 PM mountain time each day. So this email said the provider cannot run things in mountain time, so instead, it will be run at 6 PM central time each day.

    So isn’t that the same thing as running the extract at 5 PM mountain time? Can someone tell me what I’m missing?

    1. fposte

      Ha. I think you’re logically considering it to be “I would like this report available at x time.” They have way overthought it and are responding with information about the system settings.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      This is too funny and at least some comic relief after that last gig you had!
      (Written 2:04 pm EST. )

  62. Pennalynn Lott

    Question for the federal employees out there: Do you get any training about not using the workplace to promote religion? I ask because I mailed my dad’s holiday gift yesterday and one of the mail clerks had a big hand-written sign facing the customer line that said, “JESUS LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!” She ended up being the one to help me and I asked her (very nicely), “Do you think that sign is appropriate for a federal facility?” She got really, really mad at me and told me that no one can tell her she can’t love Jesus. I didn’t want to cause a bigger scene, so I didn’t bother pointing out that that wasn’t what I’d said. She’s certainly welcome to love Jesus, to worship Jesus, and to think about him 100% of the time. . . she’s just not allowed, legally, to promote him in a federal facility.

    I filed a complaint with the Postmaster General’s Office. But it left me wondering if there isn’t any training for this kind of thing, or even an employee handbook that tells federal employees that this is a big no-no.

        1. hermit crab

          I think AnonACOD means the Inspector General’s office — there are inspectors general for a bunch of federal agencies, and it’s basically their job to do audits and investigations pertaining to that agency.

    1. AnotherFed

      Yes, government employees do generically get training in things like that. However, that sign would be borderline based on our training (caveat: I’m not in the Postal Service) – we’re allowed to be personally religious, we just aren’t allowed to say the US Government insists you be religious, too. The manager will probably have her take it down or move it to her side of the counter, but that’s probably it.

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        If it were only where she could see it, I’d be totally fine with that. (And, duh, I wouldn’t have ever seen it, which would be the point). But it was taped to the outside of her station, and was more prominent than even the displays advertising USPS products.

    2. Windchime

      I would file a complaint with the postmaster at that particular Post Office as well. I would be very surprised if the postmaster would let something like that go.

      Before he retired, my dad used to work at the Post Office at the front counter. This time of year, he would wear a Santa hat and give out teeny candy canes.

    3. De Minimis

      I’ve worked as a postal employee and also as a regular federal employee. There may or may not be specific training about religion in the workplace, but I’ve found that in places like the Bible Belt the rules are not followed.

      1. LM

        Looked into this a while back due to an employee whose proselytizing was well into the zone of obnoxious. Turns out that proselytizing is generally protected and it’s a very blurry line between free speech on the part of the proselytizer and hostile work environment on the proselytizee’s end that generally favors the proselytizer. Fortunately for all at former job, this guy asked folks at his church about how much they spread the word at their work and the guys at his bible study told him that he needed to tone it down a couple of notches. Worked out well for all of us.

  63. Small town reporter

    For parents who have kids in daycare (particularly in-home): What is appropriate as a Christmas gift for the sitter? Or even more specifically, I’d like to give our provider cash, but I’m not sure what the right amount is? A certain percentage of what we pay each year? We don’t have a lot of nice restaurants around and I don’t even really know what she would enjoy — we talk about kid stuff when I see her. (Maybe this isn’t super, super work related, but kind of. I mean, I employ her to watch my children.) This is our first year using a daycare and I’m not sure what’s normal and accepted. And I’m sure norms are different everywhere, so for extra info, very small town, very rural, very Midwestern.

    1. Dawn

      There’s a bunch of info on tipping standards for service providers all over the internet to give you an idea. Personally, if it were me (particularly since you’re in a small town) I’d give something like a visa gift card with a week’s worth of pay on it in a nice gift basket with a lovely card letting her know how much you appreciate her hard work, how much the kids love her, etc etc etc. Gift card because that’s less impersonal than cash, gift basket because it’s a small town and because you have a more personal working relationship with her since she’s in your house every day, nice card because everyone likes to know they’re doing right by their employer.

    2. TotesMaGoats

      This might not be helpful for a variety of reasons but I’ll share what I do. My son is in a daycare center and he’s got 2 lead teachers and an assistant. Plus he just transitioned classrooms and LOVED his other teachers. So, it’s like 6 gifts. I bought one of those big gift baskets from BJ’s with cookies, candy, tea, etc in it. Break that sucker apart and done. I spent maybe $50 on the basket and got enough gifts for 6 people. It’s a thought.

    3. Judy

      I generally get gift cards to Target or Walmart for daycare and school teachers. That way they could buy things for themselves or for the classroom. For some reason that felt better than cash. My kids always went to a center, and I’d usually do $50 per teacher, so $100 per kid. For the school teachers, I do $25.

      Mid sized town in Midwest.

  64. Viktoria

    Can we talk about Christmas/holiday/end of year bonuses? Do you receive an end-of-year bonus? If so, how much? Does everyone get a flat rate, or does it depend on seniority, or is it calculated as a percentage of salary? Is it linked to the individual’s performance or the company’s performance in any tangible way?

    1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

      everyone in my network, 16 doctors offices got $250, the docs probably got more and they kept it on the DL. last year is was $500

    2. Nonniemoose

      We get one and it’s based on how well the organization is doing as a whole and how much money we have left. So just a flat rate for everyone, but it varies from year to year.

      I was slightly irked because our department head told me I was getting a bonus but made it sound like it was because of my individual stellar performance this year and I was so awesome that I get a bonus, but after he sent that e-mail, the CEO sent out an org-wide e-mail that was like, “Bonuses for everybody!!!” I’m not ungrateful for the money (and it was a lot of money), but it was weird how he tried to pass it off. Just… send me a separate e-mail saying you appreciate what I did?

      1. LawPancake

        Ooh, I had a boss once when I was waiting tables in a hotel try to pass off a minimum wage increase as a raise that I was getting for being a good employee.

    3. Totally Anon for This

      I’ll share. We got a small percentage (think between 4 and 8%). Of what, I’m not sure, as I can’t make the math work out. I’m non exempt, so it appears it could be my normal hourly rate x 40 x 52, but as I said, the math doesn’t work. Of the gross amount, 38 1/2% went to taxes. So, I ended up with what amounts to about 3 week’s take home pay. We don’t get raises or cost of living increases any longer, and that’s been the case for the last 5 years. Everyone got the same flat rate, so it didn’t matter whether you were a star performer or a slacker, everyone got the same rate. Personally, I wonder why I even try any more, since being a good performer doesn’t result in any additional reward. I get the same vacation accrual, same sick days, same bonus percent, and zero increases.

    4. MaryMary

      At OldJob, it was a percent of base salary (different roles having different percentages) and it was “funded” based on company performance and individual performance. So, let’s say I make $50,000 per year and my bonus percentage is 10%. If the company had a good year and bonuses are fully funded, but I had a mediocre year, I might get 70% of the 10% I’m eligible for, or $3,500. On the other hand, if the company had a bad year and only funded bonuses to 50% but personally I had a terrific year, I might get 110% of the 50% of the 10% of salary, or $2,750. It seems complicated, but I liked how it tied personal success and the company’s success together, and still allowed for differentiation for high performers.

      At current job, we get random amounts of money and it’s completely subjective. The owner refuses to set a bonus budget or commit to a formula, so managers submit suggested bonuses (pulled out of thin air – mostly based on what’s been paid out previously), there’s a little back and forth and review, and then the owner approves. Bonuses usually range from $500 – $1,500. Managers generally don’t know the exact payment date, and sometimes they don’t even know the final approved bonus amount. I’m not a fan.

    5. Cube Farmer

      Old Job: Technical employees received two weeks pay. Managers received $10,000.
      This Job: We all got a $1 scratch-off lottery ticket. I didn’t win anything. :(

      1. F.

        Bonus? What’s a bonus? (sarc) But the company owner is in NYC for the weekend and headed to Phoenix for the holidays (he’s Jewish, so what holiday would that be?) But I’m not bitter, no000000……

    6. periwinkle

      There are a lot of annoying things about my company but all is forgiven in every February. The company calculates how well it met certain annual targets and gives out a bonus based on company performance. If the company met target, we (the non-management staff) get two weeks’ pay as a bonus. It’s not the end of the year, but it shows up in our paychecks when we’re paying off those holiday bills! Management also gets bonuses around the same time but under a different structure.

      We’re a big employer. Local retailers know when the bonus gets paid out. Car dealers, boat dealers, appliance dealers, general contractors… they’re ready.

      And yet the end-of-year bonus was more meaningful when I worked at a tiny company and the owner gave us $50 gift cards based on what she thought we’d like. (I was in grad school and that Amazon card helped with textbooks)

    7. Snarky McSnark

      Most big companies wait until their fiscal year is done and see how goals were met and they have a standard formula. So at job 1 and 2, my bonuses came in January (10/31 fiscal year end) and March (12/31 fiscal year end). I agreed to a bonus for this year at new job that’s based on percent of salary only, but waived it as part of a negotiated tuition reimbursement sign-on bonus that was larger.

    8. Anxa

      No bonus.

      I hope other workers aren’t offended that I never tip them for the holidays or give out bonuses.

  65. Jessen

    Why is business clothing so darn expensive for women? I’m trying to get enough stuff to get me through interviews and it’s just killing me financially – pants, jackets, blouses, shoes, jewelry, makeup, everything.

    1. Dawn

      Where do you live? In a larger metro area, I bet your Goodwill would probably have some great picks for interview clothing- that’s what I did when I was unemployed. Pants/jacket/blouses from Goodwill, shoes from Target (they have some good stuff for under $20), jewelry from Forever 21 (seriously all their stuff is under $10 and while there are a lot of outlandish things, there’s some conservative stuff too). Makeup can be from the drug store- I know Walgreens has a great return policy on makeup if you buy something that turns out to be a bad color- and really with makeup all you really need for an hour long interview would be maybe foundation, a light color eyeshadow, mascara, and maaaaybe some lip gloss. You can get all that from Wet n Wild for under $20 and have it be decent enough to last an hour or two.

      1. Jessen

        I have very rarely found my size at goodwill in anything that looks remotely ok to wear, honestly. I’m too small for regular women’s clothing and too curvy for girl’s.

        1. Dawn

          Hm. Well, shoes/jewelry/makeup suggestions still stand.

          I’m built like an Amazon warrior so I can’t help you with suggestions for other good places to look for petite women’s clothing, unfortunately.

        2. LizB

          Can you try consignment or smaller thrift stores? They’re a little bit more expensive than goodwill, but they’ll have higher-quality stuff, so if you find something in your size it’ll be more likely to be presentable. The consignment stores in my area usually have tops for $6-20, depending on brand and materials.

    2. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

      I have no idea! I’ve been looking for things to wear for a more formal head shot. I don’t want to spend $200 on an outfit I’ll never wear again. I had some luck in the sales at Bonton!

    3. Nonniemoose

      I usually go to H&M for cheap work clothes (they have some basics like blazers and slacks), but “cheap” is about $60 for a blazer+pants, so perhaps more than you can spend right now (I know that feeling).

    4. Not Karen

      First of all, jewelry and makeup are optional.

      Second of all, at the interview stage, don’t you only need one suit, one shirt, and one pair of shoes?

      1. Jessen

        My impression is you need 2-3 shirts, in case of multiple interviews. It’s also good as a woman in more conservative industries to wear makeup and jewelry – some employers won’t care but some will.

    5. TotesMaGoats

      I would concentrate my money on blouses and jewelry. Those are the things that you’ll want to change out for multiple interviews. Grey suit, black suit, brown suit. Shirts that can be used for all of those. Right now, with end of year sales going on might be the time to stock up. I’ve done really well at New York and Company this season. Finally, after shopping there for 15 years, broke down and got the credit card. Helps to stretch things and you get even better sales.

    6. xarcady

      Shop the sale and clearance racks at larger stores, like Macy’s, if the thrift shops aren’t an option. If you shop carefully, note the sales and use store coupons, you can get stuff for under $15. TJ Maxx and Marshalls are another option.

      I’d try to get a decent jacket/blazer and focus some money there. Then some less expensive tops to wear under it–the higher quality of the blazer will trick the eye into thinking the shirts are the same quality.

      You could get by with one quality bottom–skirt or pants, two jackets–one that matches the bottom and makes a suit and the other that coordinates with the bottom, three tops that go with both jackets, and one pair of shoes. It’s perfectly fine to wear the same jewelry at each interview. I just wear a watch and earrings, anyway.

      I’d add one decent looking tote to carry your wallet/small handbag, a couple copies of your resume, weather gear–umbrella, hat, gloves. Target has some nice ones, or TJ Maxx.

      Your goal is to look professional and pulled-together. See if you don’t have some clothing in your wardrobe already that can work with the purchase of just a few new things.

      1. Jessen

        Sadly, I recently put on 20 pounds as a result of changing my medication. So I’ve got nothing in my wardrobe that is at all suitable for an interview and still goes on my body without straining. I had to buy all new pants and the only shirts I have that still fit are t-shirts.

    1. Cube Farmer

      Not so much that I wish I had been told, because I was told, but I didn’t believe it. Do NOT be friends/hang out with anyone that works for you. It just makes things way too complicated.

    2. HR Pro

      Delegate, delegate, delegate.

      Be clear about your expectations. This one took me a long time (and I’m still not great at it). So often something that seems completely obvious in your own mind is not obvious to other people.

    3. xarcady

      Nothing on a performance review should be a surprise to the person getting the review.

      In other words, bring up issues as they happen, and keep monitoring them. Don’t wait for a yearly review and dump everything the person has done wrong all year on them them.

      A good way to deal with this is 1 on 1’s weekly or every other week.

    4. Grey

      Don’t pass the buck. In other words, make every decision your own. Don’t tell clients or employees that unpopular decisions came from upper management just so you can remain “the good guy”. You’ll undermine your own authority and be forced to deal with people going over your head with every concern that they have.

    5. LCL

      If a situation has most of the group griping about it, it is usually minor. There will be a major situation going on that needs your attention, but harder to report for instutional reasons. You need to find out what the real problem is. Joaquin leaving trash in a wastebasket is irrelevant BS, but if everyone is complaining about it the issue may be Joaquin isn’t where he is supposed to be, because if he was he would empty the waste basket.

  66. please advise

    I started a new job a little over a month ago and in my negotiating process was told that I would be enrolled in the health insurance plan starting on Day 1. They have yet to enroll me…

    After much digging/push back, I was informed today that “due to an oversight” on their part I will need to wait until 1/1/16 for insurance. This means that I am completely uninsured and that a LARGE part of my compensation package has not been given to me for over a month (and will continue to be withheld for two more weeks). I’m unsure of how to proceed .

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I’m sorry you’re in that situation. When you negotiated to start on Day 1, was that in writing? I’ve had similar talks with new employers, and I always make sure after a verbal conversation to follow up with an email.

      Since they said it was an oversight on their part, can they cut you a check to cover yourself using ACA or Cobra?

    2. TCO

      Have you told your manager about this issue yet? You might need him/her to be your advocate here. It’s entirely reasonable to firmly and clearly ask for this issue to be fixed. Options could include:
      1) Finding a way to enroll you right this minute–I wonder how hard the company has actually tried
      2) Paying a lump sum for COBRA coverage, as suggested above.

      You miiiiiight also be able to suggest that they pay you a lump sum of cash to compensate for the part of the benefits package you’re not getting, but that’s probably less likely since most companies don’t pay employees more if they don’t purchase health insurance–insurance isn’t really intended to be tradable for cash.

      Good luck!

      1. edj3

        Yes, you need to talk with your manager ASAP. If you are in the US and you do not have health care coverage for any month in 2014, there could be tax implications for you. So go get your answers now!

        1. TCO

          Tax penalties only apply if you go without insurance for more than two months (you can get an exemption for one short gap during the year, lasting two months or less).

    3. HR Pro

      Are you sure the effective date is going to be 1/1/16? Or will the effective date be your hire date (Day 1), but you won’t get the ID cards or be in the system until 1/1/16?

      Health insurance at my company is effective on Day 1, but that means almost every single person is being enrolled retroactively (because they almost never decide on their health insurance on Day 1, and even if they do, we don’t usually put them into the computer system on Day 1). The health insurance companies are used to this. The online system asks what the effective date is and we enter it. Then it takes them a few business days to process the enrollment, and a couple of weeks to mail out the ID cards.

      Also, I think that the enrollment date is written into your contract with the health insurer. So if the contract says that all new hires will be effective on a given date (let’s say Day 1, or 30 days after Day 1, or the first of the month after Day 1), then the insurance company has to comply with that, even if the HR staff messes up and forgets to enter it into the system for a few weeks. So I’m not sure your company was allowed to negotiate an effective date that was different than what their contract says.

      But anyway, ask for clarification about what the actual effective date of the coverage will be. It might be Day 1 after all.

  67. Emmie

    Any ideas on what to give a remote employee as a holiday gift? Although my company gives gifts, I just realized I should give something to my employees as well. I cannot believe I didn’t think of this.

    1. Nanc

      I think a lovely card with a nice note and maybe a Starbucks, Barnes and Noble or some other gift card. Other options would be a small box of gourmet chocolates–lots of chocolate companies have corporate gifts where you need to do a minimum amount. Or flowers delivered?

      What ever you send, I think they would appreciate the thought and the time you take to write notes.

    2. GOG11

      Gift cards are always nice. For some retailers, I believe you can send them via email now. If you have an idea of what they might like, a more specific card would be good or, if not, something like a Visa gift card or Amazon so they have a wide array of choices (not sure if either of those specific retailers do email cards, though).

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        You can also use a service like Gift Rocket– which is basically sending money online but with a cute e-card format that you can personalize.

  68. Ragnelle

    I have a workplace bathroom etiquette question. There are two restrooms in my office that are shared by about 30 people. Both are singles, and although they are labeled “men” and “women,” they are exactly the same and people tend to use whichever one is available. They have doors with push button locks and a fan setting.

    I feel that once you are done using the restroom, you should turn off the light and fan and leave the door open so others know it is available. At least a few people, however, leave everything on and close the door. I hate this because then I never know if the restroom is occupied or not. And while I will knock if I have to, I don’t like to (I think it’s because I hate being in a restroom when someone knocks). The couple of people I’ve mentioned the issue to agree with me.

    So, what do you think? Not sure those fancy indicator (vacant/in use) locks are an option. Should I get over it and just knock? Ask the admin to send out an email or put up a sign? If you are a door closer and leaver-on-of-fans, why do you do that? Would anything convince you to stop?

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      If the light and fan are linked (both on or both off together), then sometimes there is a very good reason to leave them on. Although if the door can be left open, I would do that too.

      1. GOG11

        Agreed. Depending on office dynamics, I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to ask the Admin to post a sign that says to please leave the door open when not in use. An email might be weird, though.

    2. AnotherAlison

      If you have left something behind in the air, it is better to leave the fan on (and the door closed, depending how close the nearest desks are).

      A motion sensor light switch could solve this. It would go off a few minutes after someone leaves. We put one in my kids’ bathroom.

      1. Nanc

        I agree if the air is dodgy leave the fan on, but perhaps leave the door open just a bit. That way folks know it’s empty but there’s an odor issue.

    3. fposte

      I think it’s useful for people to leave the bathroom in a way that indicates it’s empty, but I don’t think it’s worth nudging people to do–I think it’s weirder to be told how to leave a bathroom door than it is to knock on the door.

    4. Artemesia

      If the fan is on because someone stank up the joint, you don’t want the door open and the fan off. Imagine being the people whose desk is closest — if that is an issue. I’d rather have the door left ajar — closed but not fully shut or latched. Or if that doesn’t work just have the norm be to gently try the door.

  69. CM

    Does anyone else struggle with inconsistent training at their job? I’ve been in my position for one year and I am still unclear about some procedures weekly. When I first started I was trained by a few different people sporadically whenever they had time (short-staffed), and so many times they would train me just from memory. I.e. “Yeah I know that’s what the manual says but we actually do it this totally different way”, or “Oh yeah, the manual hasn’t been updated in awhile.”

    Guess I’m just venting, it’s very hard to learn complicated procedures this way.

    1. Nonniemoose

      I know the feeling. I’ve been here for a year and a half and only now am I starting to get the hang of procedures. I promise that the feeling doesn’t last forever!

    2. Nicole

      I think all my jobs have had inconsistent training. My current job, I had experience as a waitress/casual staff recruiter/dishwasher/event manager/logistics person (it’s a small events/catering company so you ended up doing a bit of everything) – then when the boss/owner had heart trouble I was pitched straight into his role, with no idea of what I was doing. I had two weeks with him in the office to learn absolutely everything before he had a major heart bypass operation. And you can’t distil 35 years of experience into that amount of time. All of his experience was in his head, and the only other permanent office person was a part-time book-keeper. There were no procedures, no manuals, nothing. Even his contacts book made no sense, because he’d written everyone down by their first name, having known them all and done business with them all for 35 years. While he was in hospital, and for six weeks afterwards, I couldn’t ask him any questions as it would have added to the stress that was pegged as the reason for the heart trouble in the first place. It’s only now, after three seasons (two and a half years) that I feel I’ve really got to grips with some of the thornier aspects of the job.

      I’ve since spent a lot of time trying to document everything possible to make any future transition easier!

  70. MsChanandlerBong

    I posted last week that my husband was having trouble getting his college transcripts for an employer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter now, as the offer was rescinded. One of his previous employers refuses to give references (they use a third-party company called The Work Number to verify employment dates and final salary/hourly rate). The company he worked at before that was bought out by a company in the UK. That company also does not give references. So even though he has a clean criminal record and could have provided many other references (colleagues, a local attorney who has volunteered with him for the past five years), the employer rescinded the offer because they could not talk specifically to a supervisor.

    Any suggestions for overcoming this in the future? It’s going to keep coming up–these past employers obviously aren’t going to randomly change their policies.

    BTW, this was for a three-week temporary position. I worked in HR before I left the corporate world to start my own business, so I realize the importance of checking references, but I think this is all a bit ridiculous for a position lasting less than a month. They could have talked to his other references and looked at his clean background and academic records.

    1. Dawn

      Uh wait, what? They wanted college transcripts and serious references for A THREE WEEK TEMP POSITION? That’s crazy. That’s super, duper, whacked out, wtf crazy. If this was a permanent position at a manager level or above, OK I can see that, but A THREE WEEK TEMP POSITION???

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        Yep. A three-week temp position. They offered him the job after a 10-minute phone screen, but then they wanted his transcripts, a background check, and three supervisory references. My husband has a good work history in terms of staying with the same company for a while (he was at one company for four years, another company for 2.5 years, and the third company for four years), but that is what is hurting him. If he had more employers, he’d have a better chance that one of them might be willing to give references.

        I’m kind of questioning whether the HR person even tried to check the references he gave her, as she called here Wed. and said “the phone numbers don’t work.” My husband called those numbers himself last Friday, and they all worked just fine.

    2. Delyssia

      Have any of his previous supervisors left the companies in question? If they no longer work there, they may be willing to provide a reference. Obviously, that would probably require some digging to get current contact info (LinkedIn!), but it could be a good time investment to do the digging in advance of the next time it’s desperately needed.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I just sent him the link to this page so he can read the comments that come in. Unfortunately, his previous two supervisors are still with his most recent employer. They are not willing to break company policy by going outside the company-mandated verification process. He was able to get in touch with his supervisor from the company that was bought out, and the guy is more than willing to serve as a reference, but that still leaves him needing two more supervisory references (the employer has a policy of speaking to three supervisors before hiring anyone). I’d like to know how they’d handle a candidate who had one job for five years and had the same supervisor the whole time. Or a recent grad who worked for the same place all through college.

        This is for a state university system, BTW, not a mom-and-pop place with no clue how to hire people.

          1. Elsajeni

            Yeah, that part actually makes perfect sense to me — it’s a big huge system that’s set up to assume that all hiring works the same way, so it’s trying to apply the slow, bureaucratic process of permanent hiring at a university to a 3-week temp job even though it makes no sense.

            1. MsChanandlerBong

              That’s a good point. He had a job interview yesterday, and he came home feeling pretty upbeat about it, so maybe this will actually turn out to be a good thing. If he gets the full-time position, the fact that he didn’t get the three-week job won’t matter at all.

  71. The Sugar Plum Fairy

    I started a new job a few months ago. So far, I’m enjoying it, even though the workload is getting out of control. My close friend also works on my team – let’s call her Patty. Since I started, the two people I worked closely with have left the company, so I’m effectively a one man show as far as my responsibilities go. I have no back-up, and neither does Patty. Plus, our company is going through an acquisition next year and doesn’t always fill vacant positions, though I have heard they will definitely be hiring someone in January to help out with my workload.

    My fiancé and I just bought our first home together and will close in February. Our wedding is in May. We have very little flexibility at this point for changing these dates. Needless to say, the first half of 2016 is going to be both professionally and personally very busy for me.

    This week, Patty tell me that she is going to start the “foster to adopt” process again in January (she already has children through this program). She’s going to open her home back up again soon. For those of you who aren’t aware, you never know when you’ll get a placement. She said that she would like to take between 6-12 weeks off to get her placement and her children settled. I totally understand and support this. However, then she asks me if I would be willing to take over a large portion of her workload during this time. In the past, I have helped out when she was in a pinch (i.e. went on vacation and was responsible for leading a large meeting with higher-ups) and it just able killed me. I was struggling to do her work and mine.

    I told her that I probably wouldn’t be able to be much help because of my current workload (which is likely to get even busier starting in January). She seemed upset and suggested that I move my wedding day until later in the year.

    We have a meeting with our manager scheduled for early January to discuss options. Am I wrong for not wanting to be her back-up? I don’t have a back-up when I’m out – I bust my tail to get everything done before I go out on vacation. I’m already working overtime to get my own responsibilities handled, and I’m afraid between work and other commitments with the house/wedding, I’m going to end up getting completely stressed out.

    I guess my question is – shouldn’t our manager be deciding how to handle my friend’s leave of absence?

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Just because you’ve provided backup in the past doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do so every time. This time it doesn’t work for you. So yeah, the manager will just have to figure something out. It’s not your problem. You can be apologetic that you can’t help out this time, but changing a wedding date is not a reasonable request.

      1. Dawn

        Yeah that’s seriously a beyond the pale thing to ask. And no, you are not obligated to provide a backup this time or any other time, really. Go into the meeting with the manager with an open mind and a willingness to help out, for sure, but be firm about your commitments in 2016 and stand your ground on taking the time off that you need.

    2. Delyssia

      SHE SUGGESTED THAT YOU MOVE YOUR WEDDING DAY?

      Sorry for shouting… But seriously, I’m just flabbergasted at that. Did you ask if she’d considered moving back when she opens up her house again? (I know saying that wouldn’t actually help anything, but it’s satisfying to think about.)

      I think you need to focus your arguments on why you’re already maxed out in terms of workload and can’t take on more. If, and only if, there are small, specific pieces of her work that you think you could take on, you can identify those and make the offer, but that’s not a requirement. And if your boss asks you to take on Patty’s work while she’s out, then you need to ask about how to adjust your priorities to make that work.

    3. xarcady

      At this point, Patty has flexibility in when she *chooses* to start the foster to adopt process. You do not have flexibility on your wedding date–I’m assuming the venues for ceremony and reception have been booked, non-refundable deposits made, family and friends have saved the date, etc. She really has no basis for asking you to change a major life event so that she can have a major life event, the timing of the start of which she has control over.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        eh, the changing the wedding date request was off the wall but if Patty doesn’t want to delay receiving a new foster kid, I don’t think she should either.

    4. EmmaB

      She suggested you MOVE YOUR WEDDING!?! The lady is certifiable. I would have honestly laughed in her face the moment she suggested that. Unprofessional? Probably, but oh my goodness. I’m flabbergasted.

      I can’t believe I even have to say this, but in your meeting with the manager you also need to make it abundantly clear that you will under no circumstances consider moving your wedding. If she suggests it again, immediately shoot it down.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      Yes it is your manager’s problem.

      Your manager may ask you to be the back up and then it’s up to you and your manager to figure out what other parts of your job and/or Patty’s job can be cut out so that’s achievable.

      (AFAIK, new foster kids are covered by FMLA so Patty is eligible for unpaid leave if your employer is large enough. If I’m right about that, then there’s nothing for anyone to do other than figure out how to muddle through. But that’s your manager’s job.)

  72. SweetTeapots

    If after a phone interview you can tell you’re not that interested in the position, do you say so at that point, or what for the follow up to an in-person interview?

    My phone interview went well, and the job sounded just OK, but compared to another one I’m currently being considered for, I think I’d get bored quick. Combined with the lower than desired pay, I’m just not that excited, but I didn’t say that on the call. Now that I’m being invited to an in-person, I’m not sure if I should go and get a better feel, or just cut the ties now (and how).

    1. Elizabeth West

      When is the in-person? If it’s fairly soon and you’ve already scheduled it, honestly I’d just go and ask about some of the things that concern you. You might find out more info. If you decided you’re not interested, you can send them an email and say it doesn’t seem like a good fit.

    2. GOG11

      Regarding your first, more general question, I think it’d be weird to say you weren’t interested while on the phone interview unless they ask what your thoughts are on if the position would be a good fit (you for the position and position for you). If you know during or shortly after the phone interview, I’d let them know that after having some time to think it over (maybe wait ~24 hours) let them know that, in light of what you learned in the phone interview, you don’t feel the position would be the right fit for you and that you’d like to withdraw your candidacy. If you thank them for their time and wish them luck and they’re a reasonable employer, I think they’d appreciate that so they can move forward accordingly.

      With the more specific details, I don’t think you should compare this one to the other as the basis for whether you continue with the process. Unless you’ve been extended an offer from the other company, you’re comparing this position to something that may never happen. Consider this position on its own. Is it boring, or is it just less interesting than the other? If it’s less interesting, is it below your level of tolerance for boredom or not? That’s what really matters in this situation. Unless you have an offer. Then it’s the bird you want in the hand is better than two you don’t want in the bush. Or however that goes.

      Unless I knew for sure that I didn’t want the position, I’d use the interview as an opportunity to learn more. Ask questions about the things that are sticking points for you or that you have reservations about (unless information you already have has made the answers to your questions clear).

      1. Kyrielle

        This. I had a point when job-hunting where I knew that I was more interested in one position than the other – but both were doable and something I’d be willing to do, and I didn’t have an offer. I continued with the interview with the less-shiny place. (And then I got the offer from the place I really wanted to be and accepted it, but…had I not, I would not have had any regrets regarding my handling of the other opening.)

        1. SweetTeapots

          Good point. I think I will still go for the in-person interview, because I probably need more information than was discussed during a 30 minute call.

      2. SweetTeapots

        Thanks – this is all really solid advice.

        To clarify, the call ended with the interviewer saying that if I was still interested in the position, they’d like to have me come in. So I said yes, but wasn’t really sure how I felt.

        1. GOG11

          Ah, I see. That’s harder to say no to unless it’s a really poor fit (and that it’s made obvious even at that stage) or there are a bunch of red flags.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe

      If you already know you aren’t interested, I’d tell them now. Just shoot of a quick email thanking them for their time and consideration, let them know you don’t think it’s the right fit and that you’re withdrawing your candidacy, and then wish them luck in their search.

      Don’t waste your time your theirs.

      1. Anonymous Educator

        Yes, I did something like this one. Had a phone interview. Wasn’t feeling it. Shot a follow-up email saying thank you for chatting with me… after some consideration, I don’t think it’s a good fit, so I’ll withdraw my candidacy. Best of luck in your search. That sort of thing.

  73. HKM

    I recently started at a new place. My office has a window which looks onto a small side street, where everyone smokes. Its not usually a problem, because we can just close the window.
    But all my coworkers smoke, and they go for 10-15 cigarette breaks a day. This isn’t a problem regarding productivity, but the smell of them then they come back into the room. It makes me retch, and I know its unprofessional but I have to leave the room for a while.
    It also makes things difficult for me to make friends. When we go out to socialise, they have to chain smoke the whole time, so I can’t bear to be around them.

    What do I do? Accept I can’t hang out with my coworkers and make friends? Just grin and bear it while they make me feel like throwing up?
    Help :(

    1. Sadsack

      I really feel bad for you, that must be awful. I don’t even know what I would do. The smell of one person who has been smoking is revolting enough, never mind several people all day long.

    2. Yeah right

      God, where do you work, Hong Kong! Didn’t think smoking was fashionable anymore – it’s certainly out of favour here in Australia. My last company had about 60 employees and only one of them was a smoker. You are also only allowed to smoke during your break, so maximum 3 smoko breaks a day… I feel for you, the smell of cigarettes on smokers is foul.

  74. KC

    I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts, tips, suggestions on how to transition out a difficult employee. Over the last few months she has had an incredibly difficult time adjusting to my organization’s mission shift. There seems to be both mission misalignment and also resistance to a shift in her own work to better match the our needs. The work she does is okay/fine, but because we’re so small the impact on culture is huge (attitude during project meetings, insubordination, inappropriate comments to external partners, etc). None of these things have been huge enough to warrant immediate termination and I’ve had conversations about all them (tough too since they’re “subtle” and “subjective.” I’ll also own up to the fact that personality-wise, we clash. But she’s the only one I have issues with and my team is pretty diverse in working styles and personalities). She’s made some effort to improve but she still sticks out like sore thumb. It’s just obvious she doesn’t want to be here.

    So it’s been a challenge having her on board and I want to move forward with transitioning her out. I’m unsure though how to approach the conversation and how to structure the actual process. I’d like to take the time for her to tie up loose ends on projects, etc. I also want to be conscious of the fact that it may be poor timing and that the job market is tough. The last point is a concern for both her and my organization (i.e. can I find the right candidate quickly if she were to leave, say, now? Tough. Could she find a job? Don’t know, but it’ll also be tough). Is a month long transition too short? Three months too long? It’s obvious she doesn’t want to be here, but she’s also made it clear that she doesn’t think she can find another job (probably why she hasn’t quit yet, because I don’t doubt she’s been looking). I want to know how I make any transition a successful one and I want to prepare for the worst (e.g. pissing her off and she leaves with electronic documents, access to accounts, etc… part of the transition has been to better codify and centralize our work. And she’s even been resistant to that, which to me is a red flag. Sometimes something as simple as “what is the log-in to this account?” takes several asks before I actually get it).

    Any other things I should consider? For example, can I post the new position while she’s still working? Or do I wait until she’s gone?

    Any insight is greatly appreciated!

    1. Dawn

      “Something as simple as “what is the log-in to this account?””

      Go get this stuff *now*. Today. Make it part of an overall effort to document stuff, spin it however you want, but go get all logins and passwords from her right now. Send an email, say you need the logins for the following things and you will be coming by her desk on Tuesday or whatever to pick up the list. If she doesn’t have the list when you go to pick it up stand there while she makes it. DO NOT LEAVE HER DESK WITHOUT THIS LIST. This is non-negotiable, she cannot refuse to do this. If she refuses, write her up on the spot for insubordination. If she continues to refuse, fire her immediately.

      Do not let her hold any influence over your organization at all by controlling access to necessary platforms for business. After you get those passwords, see about adding someone else as an admin/ revoking her admin status on the systems she has access to so she can’t then go in and change the password to something else. I don’t know if you’re talking about Facebook/LinkedIn or something like the accounting software or whatever but anything that she has exclusive access to, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can become an ENORMOUS headache if she decides to be petty.

      As for how to transition her out, it’s awesomely compassionate that you care about making sure she can find another job, however, she is actively poisoning your current office. If I offered you up a nice dinner and then asked you “How much poison would you like in your food?” you’d recoil in horror and probably go look to eat somewhere else! This is how the other employees are feeling right now, in varying degrees, even if they’re not talking about it. If you know she needs to leave and you want her gone, I’d say (AFTER you solve the password thing) sit her down and have the hard conversation of “it’s not working out.” If you want to be magnanimous give her a month’s notice. After you’ve given her notice post the job opening. In her last month focus on documenting what she did and making sure that you have access to everything that she was responsible for. If you can revoke the job duties where she needed a password to get into a system then revoke those before you give notice- she doesn’t sound like someone who’d go quietly.

      1. KC

        Absolutely right about the hostage thing. I believe I’ve gotten all the passwords. The challenge/problem was when I got the list the first time it didn’t include access to some things that I just didn’t know we were using. It took a technical glitch that only I could fix to uncover it. These weren’t a huge huge deal, so I could why they’d be forgotten but I still raised both eyebrows. Especially given the general attitude.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      Here’s the Wakeen’s Teapots way:

      If you think you need to terminate someone, attempt to remediate first, no matter how long the shot it is that they might make it. Make clear what it is that needs to change and what the sign posts are that change is being made. Make it clear the situation is serious and the person will lose their job if change isn’t successful.

      If you know you need to terminate someone, don’t let Friday of that week pass without having done so. For serious. It’s wasting their time and yours, and it’s wrong.

    3. The Butcher of Luverne

      I also want to be conscious of the fact that it may be poor timing and that the job market is tough.
      …….

      That’s compassionate, but if she is insubordinate and makes inappropriate comments, and you’ve had conversations about those things already, this should not come as a surprise.

      1. Artemesia

        She needs to be walked out when you have the conversation and all access codes changed before she hits the parking lot. An insubordinate employee with an attitude is not someone you want around for a month’s transition or whatever. Give her two weeks severance if you feel ‘compassionate.’ but get her out of there before she does damage. It is one thing to give a good employee you need to lay off as much time as possible and quite another to have someone you are firing hang around.

      2. Anxa

        I think it’s compassionate to try to work things out with an employee and minimize the negative consequences of a firing.

        But if they are insubordinate and you’ve already spoken to them and given them opportunities to fix things, I wouldn’t worry about a bad job market.

        Because if the job market’s that bad (and I think it’s pretty bad), there are plenty of un- and underemployed people who could move into that role.

    4. Not So NewReader

      The way that I have been taught and shown is that the rights of the group trump the rights of an individual in that group. You are asking your entire group to put up with her nonsense. It was explained to me that I never have the right to ask my entire group to suffer in that manner. I have come to see the wisdom in that thinking.

      Please focus less on what is good for this individual and focus more on what your group needs from you. I can almost assure you that two years from now this woman will still be “looking for a job”. Meanwhile you will have lost half your crew. Please use a big picture focus. You have done as much as you can for this person to try to salvage her job. She does not want her job to be salvaged. That is the answer right there.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Wanted to say the convo could look like this:

        “Sue, it’s very clear that you are not happy here at all. We have had conversations regarding changes x, y and z, in effort to help you acclimate to this workplace. Your dissatisfaction continues to show in your work efforts and in your interactions with others. This is not beneficial to the company nor to the work effort here. Therefore [fill in with your next stepss.]”

    5. Observer

      If she’s withheld this kind of information from you, then you really can’t afford to leave her in place for any length of time.

      You need to document EVERY system she uses. Make sure that at least one other person has access to EVERY account that she has, and that she can’t lock them out. Back up EVERYTHING she is the primary user of – in a place that she doesn’t have access to.

      Then post the position and give her notice. If you can, I would give her pay for however long expected notice is, and terminate her immediately. Given that she’s withheld important information from you, it’s a good bet that she will not wrap things up properly, and there is a significant chance that she might try to sabotage things.

  75. Sunflower

    Alison- have you thought about doing another ‘how much money do you make’ post? I was just looking at it and noticed it’s been about a year since the original one. I was thinking it would be especially cool to see where people who posted last year are at- if they changed positions, got raises, still in the same spot, etc.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Perhaps it could be a Google Form? I believe last time it was stray comments and then a volunteer commenter later manually entered the results into a spreadsheet. Would seem to make sense to enter it in there directly to begin with.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think it would be tough to compare people’s entries to last time (it’s the single most commented post ever, so fairly unwieldy) but I definitely want to repeat it at some point!

      1. AnotherFed

        Maybe just ask people to specify what they were making last year and this year? You won’t get everyone from last time (not that you would anyway), but you’d also get multiple data points from everyone new this year.

    3. PX

      Its still being updated though! I subscribed to comments for it and even now people are still updating it, so I figure its basically still just a live page and anyone who wants could go in and update it again (its what I was planning on doing if my new job offer ever finally arrives!)

  76. AV

    How do you cope when you feel generally unappreciated at your job? Lately, I’ve just been feeling so unappreciated and I’m starting to feel bitter about it.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I’m usually appreciated at my jobs, but the few times I wasn’t… I just left. Don’t know if that’s an option for you.

  77. Wendy Darling

    Is there a tactful way to ask, at the phone interview phase, “So your glassdoor is a bloodbath, what’s up with that?”

    I applied for a job that seemed like a decent fit without knowing much about the company. I just got laid off, so I’m casting a wide net. They called me to schedule a phone interview and THEN I looked at their glassdoor.

    They have the worst rating I’ve *ever seen*, and the complaints are EXTREMELY consistent. You have to go back several years to get a review over 3 stars (if we ignore the one that’s all 5s and in every text field just wrote “TEAPOTS INC IS A GREAT COMPANY”, which… we do). And if you narrow it down to just my city, the rating drops half a point. People consistently say they pay well below the going rate, do crappy stuff with PTO to make it unusable, offer crummy benefits, and are cliquey and generally culturally toxic. I haven’t been unemployed long enough to take a job at a place like that, so if I’m gonna go past the phone interview phase I kind of want to know what’s up.

    1. Shell

      Could you just start with something like “tell me about the culture at Teapots Inc.” If the recruiter is honest, great, but if the recruiter gushes about an overly-sanguine view, follow up with “Hmm, I’m seeing a lot of Glassdoor reviews that says X, Y, and Z, which are at odds with what you just told me. Can you explain?”

      Doesn’t stop the recruiter from going on about “Glassdoor reviewers all have a chip on their shoulders”, but it’s a place to start.

      1. Wendy Darling

        Honestly if her response is “Glassdoor reviewers all have a chip on their shoulders” and the pay/benefits on Glassdoor are accurate, I’m out. I know reviews tend to skew negative, but you don’t get the kind of overwhelming negativity they have because people have a chip on their shoulder, so if the response is anything but “We’re aware there are problems and we’re actively trying to turn that around by doing X, Y, and Z” I’m not interested.

    2. PX

      My google-fu is weak, but if you search the archives for glassdoor, there’s definitely a few posts and comments where this has been asked before – as well as some good scripts for how to phrase it.

  78. Coworker Issue

    In my job, a coworker – who I’ll call Sarah – seems to be silently refusing to work her overlapping shift with me at night. She will find any excuse to leave early, and when she can’t find a good enough one, she’ll sneak out. Her excuses have ranged from going to the doctor to get blood drawn to minding her grandmother from using the internet to shop for a few things.

    I’m torn on reporting this. One reason is I don’t want to be the business’s snitch. On the other hand, as per the schedule, I’m expecting to have help getting customer orders and chores done, and when she leaves between one to three hours early, I don’t have the help. Yet, at the same time, we are expected to be able to get it all done on our own too. But when I work with the former owner – the current owner’s father – things progress slower, mainly because he is not 100% up-to-date with the computer system we have, and therefore, he’ll interrupt my work multiple times, putting some other work on the backburner. When this happens, and she is not there (but is supposed to be), I’m in trouble.

    So what am I supposed to do? Swallow the comments (which are typically passive-aggressive in nature as they tell me what I do wrong or remind me of what I’m supposed to do, usually with notes or telling the former owner to tell me)? Tell them that when I am supposed to have overlapping help, my coworker leaves much earlier than expected? Mention it too that his father requires me to assist him frequently during a shift? I can’t see saying that last one, but like I said, I’m torn on mentioning anything about Sarah. I would approach her directly, but I have dealt with her brash personality before and it gets me nowhere; long story short, she bullies new people, and I was one of those newcomers who was subjected to it and subsequently ignored her.

    We do have to punch in and out for our shifts so if the business was comparing the schedule to actual hours worked, they should have been able to pick up on this. It’s been going on since the summer; maybe once a week or once every two weeks. We are supposed to overlap this week; I’m sure it’s a guarantee she’ll leave early yet again.

    1. xarcady

      When you get a note or comment, and Sarah’s leaving early was the cause, bring it up. Nicely.

      “You didn’t get X done last night.”

      “True, but since we weren’t fully staffed, I had to prioritize.”

      As for the former owner and his lacking skills, pinpoint the skill that needs the most improvement and speak to your supervisor about that. Address it as a productivity issue. “I’ve noticed that OldOwner doesn’t know X system very well, and I spend a lot of time helping him with that when he’s on my shift. But it’s starting to impact how much I can get done. What do you suggest I do–continue teaching him the software, or focus on getting orders out? It’s a bigger problem when I’m here on my own, as I have been the last three shifts.”

      You don’t want to be a snitch, we all understand that. But if you do not alert the powers that be to the problems that these two other employees are causing, the blame falls on you, not them. That’s wrong.

      Address the issues as you wanting to increase your own productivity, which happens to be compromised by the actions of these two people. You can certainly start off with, “When Sarah leaves early, I find it difficult to get out all the orders and do all the chores,” acting as if of course the supervisor knows Sarah leaves early, and approved the absence. If the supervisor is surprised to hear that Sarah is leaving early–that is not your fault.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I hope at some point you can get away from framing this as snitching. Snitching is what grammar school kids do. The work world is an entirely different place with different rules and expectations.

      This person is not doing their job in a big way, they LEFT! That is huge, you just don’t do that.If she is concerned about the boss’ opinion of her own poor behavior then maybe she ought to stop the behavior.

      If she says anything to you for reporting her, just shrug and say, “I had to report it. If someone is cheating the company and I don’t report it that makes me an accomplice to what they are doing. And I don’t want that on my work record.”

      1. Artemesia

        This. First you tell Sarah that when she is not there for the overlapping shift, it makes it impossible for you to finish the workload, so she needs to be there. When that doesn’t work (you have to try it even though it won’t work) then you need to let your boss know that you cannot get everything done without the full staffing. Same with the owner who is not productive. What you don’t do is allow yourself to be viewed as ineffective because management doesn’t realize you are not staffed properly. (and no, no one is going to look at the time sheets and put 2 and 2 together.) ANY TIME there is any criticism of your productivity, you have the entree to make the point about assisting the weak worker or working a two person shift by yourself.

  79. Awkward Ally

    Oh god, I am the world’s most socially inept person sometimes. This is my first week at a new job and all the female employees are having a crafty gift exchange at lunch. The email specifically said something like “Hey, don’t worry if you didn’t make anything; just come have some food and bond.” But… I’m not there. I’m at my desk finishing up my Christmas cards. Because I’m a weirdo. I guess I just felt like I’d be imposing, even though I was invited.

    How can I be less shy at work? This is a very social office and I’m worried they think I’m a recluse, but really I’m just insecure.

    1. literateliz

      I have no idea, but I feel you. This is me every time there’s a fun little party at work (which is a lot, and they’re always awesome!)

    2. GOG11

      Social stuff is not my strong suit, but there are a few things that help me be less shy/anxious/insecure about social things. My social weirdness might be different than yours, so maybe these will work. Feel free to disregard if not.

      For an invite like that, and for other social things, try to take people at their word. Why would they say you could come if they didn’t mean it? Also, I do the opposite of the treat others how I want to be treated and treat myself how I would treat others, and by extension, I think of how I’d handle a situation. For instance, if roles were reversed and I were inviting someone to hang out at the craft exchange, I’d be sincere when I say they should come and I’d want them to feel welcome and included. Switching it up like that helps me feel less disconnected and keeps me from building the situation up and psyching myself out.

    3. Graciosa

      This is like anything else – you do it by practicing (which means doing it, even if you don’t really want to). And you don’t do it well (especially at first), but you do it again.

      You don’t excuse yourself because it’s hard or you don’t want to or you label yourself as “socially inept.”

      I say this as a very strong introvert who hated this kind of thing for most of my life. When I finally acknowledged that I *have* to do this (not optional) I started, and kept going – and it got a lot easier.

      But it didn’t get easier until I actually forced myself to keep doing it.

      To borrow a quote from Yoda, “Do… or do not. There is no try.”

    4. Dang

      I completely understand, and I’m the same way. Just try to keep in mind that doing the very things that make you uncomfortable is the only way you’ll ever be comfortable with them. I have to really force myself sometimes to get out the door to a lunch with coworkers, or suppress my flight response when there’s a luncheon and I’d rather bring my food back to my desk. But it gets more comfortable with time, and the more you put it off, the harder it will be to start it up again.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Can you go to the person who invited you and ask if you can help in some way? It seems to help me to know that I am going to go and do x or y to help out while I am there.

    6. JMW

      Find the person in the office you are most comfortable with and confide your social anxiety. This person can become a help to you in navigating social events until you become more comfortable. By staying away, you may appear aloof, and it will only make things more uncomfortable going forward.

  80. xarcady

    If you want to make someone’s day, thank the person/people who planned your office party. They get a lot more complaints (people complain about everything–location, food and drink choices, timing, guests/no guests) than they do thanks, and it’s a lot of work planning parties.

    1. Dang

      We just had ours last night. I can’t imagine complaining to the person who planned all of it- so much work! Nothing is ever perfect and I can’t believe people would be so rude about it. i’m sorry.

    2. Diana

      Agreed. I just left our dept holiday lunch, and I got no less than 5 people individually thanking me for setting it up for the group. I’m still pretty new at this organization and it went far to remind me that I’m part of a great company.

    3. Jonikat

      Not only is this great advice for holiday office parties, this is really good to remember in general for most events. Thanks for the reminder!

  81. Carrie in Scotland

    I have 47 work days left til I leave my job…you know, not that I’m counting or anything.

    My manager is back but things haven’t improved. I’ve been given menial tasks to do and basically, I don’t see how it’s going to get better. We don’t need 57 hrs spent on placement (my hours & my manager’s combined) a week when the placements are so short.

    I feel better now that I’ve definitely decided to leave and go back to my home city. If I can find a job there, that would be excellent.

    1. Dang

      Best of luck! Sometimes you just have to take the plunge when you know it’ll be the right decision, even if you don’t have the details hammered out 100%.

  82. Dirk Gently

    Alison, I was attempting to add a response to #3 in today’s 5 question thread, but you closed comments while I was typing. Is it OK to re-post it here, or would you rather just forget the whole thread? I promise it’s on-topic!

    I’ll add a random link so this goes to moderation: http://www.cnn.com/

      1. Dirk Gently

        Cool, thanks :)

        Re: trying to give people who are just starting their careers a realistic view of a company you left for extremely good reasons.

        I’m often in this exact situation. I used to work for one of the biggest local companies in my field, and I often come into contact with students who want to apply there and ask me how to get in.

        What I always do is give them the full picture, the pros and cons, even when the pros are hard to remember sometimes! So I tell them that it’s a good way to break into the field (most other local employers require direct experience; my former company will take people straight from school); there are some really good people there; some departments (I name them) are well managed; and an entry-level employee will learn a LOT, regardless of which job they end up in. I also tell them that it’s hella cliquey, management play favorites, you have to severely suck up to management to advance your career (more than one person named their kid after their manager in the short time I was there), the structure of the company just doesn’t work any more, and you’re at the mercy of the owner, who can be pretty weird at times.

        Basically, my advice to all these people is to go in with your eyes open, assuming you’ll stay no more than 2-4 years and then move on; learn all you can (and network all you can) from the beginning; and start working on your exit plan sooner rather than later. Don’t assume you’ll be there for your whole career, like a lot of people seem to think before they talk to me! If it turns out that they get a great manager and/or really thrive in that environment – great, good for them! But I think in this case, assuming the worst and making the most of that from the beginning is the best way to go.

        I also tell people to be sure to check Glassdoor – a lot of students apparently haven’t heard of it – because there are some very, um, honest reviews on there.

        This is all in person, BTW. No written record. And I’m not working there any more, which helps insulate me from any potential blow-back – BUT it’s a very small industry in my town and I often come across senior managers from that company as part of my current job. So I do still have to play nice!

        (I’m also part of what we call the “[company name] underground railroad” that helps current employees to escape! A friend helped me out with a personal introduction to a hiring manager and a great reference, when I was desperate to leave for the sake of my mental health; I was able to do the same for her a couple of years later. Just last week I met a friend of a friend who works there and wants out, so I put him in contact with a current colleague who’s in the same sub-specialty and who is now reviewing this FOAF’s CV. There have been others over the last few years too!)

  83. Ambervalent

    A bit of a rant, a bit of advice-seeking.

    I’ve posted in the comments before about my insufferable supervisor and his condescending, sexist interactions with me. My industry has a boys’ club (not finance, no) and I, being a woman, feel it a LOT. Well, we just brought in another person at my level and this whole situation has reached the breaking point. New coworker is male, and… Oh boy, I thought I was being ignored and put down before? Hah! I have basically been completely supplanted, though I’m still tasked with the grunt work that drives the whole machine (which is, half of the time, ignored).

    So I did some interviews. I now have an offer for a great job with an awesome but very small team, and I’m in the final stages for a pretty good job with a great team and company-on-the-rise stability.

    Company A:
    Very small branch of a Japanese company trying to build a Western business in my primary field. I’d be heading up a department, one direct report, and basically creating their marketing strategy from scratch. That is awesome and exactly where I want my career to be going! Downside is very big: as a Japanese company, the corporate culture is very stiff and unforgiving; benefits are lacking; pay is below average (same salary as I have now, no bonus, more work).

    Company B:
    A fast growing late-stage start-up which does not exist in my primary field but creates the tools that allows my primary field to function. I’d be making a lateral move from my current position with solid potential for movement upward in the next few years. I would start without reports, but likely have them within 6 months. 10-15% increase over my current pay, otherwise comparable or slightly better benefits.

    The advice-seeking part:

    1) I have the offer from the small company and it expires Dec 22. They are my second choice.
    2) The next step for the other company appears to be a formality performed just before they make the offer. However, the hiring manager is leaving for Christmas vacation on Saturday, so even if I am invited to the next step, this won’t be moving again until early January. 90% chance it’s as good as an offer, but 10% chance something goes wrong.

    I cannot afford to not have a job and I am well on my way to burning bridges at my current one because of the exhaustion of keeping my head up in the face of all its nonsense.

    How would you proceed?

    1) Take the offer from Company A, the sure thing?
    2) Decline the offer from Company A, cross your fingers for Company B?
    2a) Ask for an extension on the offer from Company A and risk having it rescinded anyway?

    1. periwinkle

      Honestly, I would jump at the offer from the start-up. After dealing with your current toxic misogynist environment, do you really want to go to a “stiff, unforgiving” corporate culture with crappy pay and benefits? Japanese corporate culture is not exactly noted for gender equality, either; the government is promoting an initiative to change that but it’s going to take a while to filter down.

      Meanwhile, at a fast-growing start-up you’ll certainly have your hands full but with an “awesome but very small team” you’ll have all sorts of opportunities to challenge yourself at trying new things and leading new projects.

    2. Nonniemoose

      Can you tell Company B that you need a decision before the 22nd because you have another offer but you’d really prefer working at Company B? If the next step is just a formality, they may waive it or speed up the timeline.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I would do this. You could do it as a double-check on the timeline with the holiday approaching. I got the offer on my job by mentioning I had another one. I had no idea how long their process was going to take, but it had been a couple of weeks since my second interview. My UI was about to run out, and I had to do something. I didn’t really want to take the temp offer. It was a gamble, but it paid off because I smoked them in the interview (thank you, AAM and commenters!).

    3. A.J.

      I was in this situation twice in my last job search. I am the kind of person who could never take an offer with the intention of bailing when a better offer comes through. So both times I chose option 2, and both times I ended up with nothing, because the potential options fell through (granted, it sounds like your potential job has a better chance than mine did). However, I don’t really regret my decisions. I mean, I regretted it for about a week after finding out I was rejected from the better option. But looking back I realized I made the right decisions because there were enough negatives about the offers in hand to make me doubt taking them at all. I knew that if I was thinking about holding out for a better offer, then the one I had was not what I truly wanted. I was lucky though, because I still had several months of UI and could be picky about my next job for a little while. So I think you have to evaluate the offer from Company A as if Company B didn’t exist: would you be devastated to be left with no offers at all? At that point I think you’d have to go with A.

  84. Use the fork, Luke

    Yesterday I had a(nother) conversation with my manager about one of my coworkers habitually asking me to do administrative tasks for her, and how she talks down to me when she’s stressed out. This time the focus was on her forgetting phone calls she needs to make and expecting me to remind her when I know about them; there was also a coworker who expected me to reschedule an appointment for him, at the last minute, after hours, because he was too busy using his phone to navigate around traffic to use it to make a scheduled work call. Sure, like everyone I’m happy to step in and help every now and again, but last week I couldn’t help but think “this is too much, they need to get it together.” Once again we suspect the issue is she’s used to having someone do these things for her, having been a lawyer before she got into our line of work, but on this team it’s increasingly problematic that she sees me as her “helper” rather than some who works *with* her on these projects.

    My manager is awesome in taking my side, helping members of the team understand my role, and empowering me to (respectfully) push back when this woman asks me to do things that aren’t appropriate for my role on the team, but man, she drives me crazy. And I wonder if I should get out and find a job where both my colleagues and superiors respect me and what I do, but sadly, I feel like I’m gonna run into this everywhere.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Yuck. Can you tough it out for a bit to see if this boss is effective in curbing the problem? It sounds like you have a decent boss at any rate. That would make me think carefully before leaving.

  85. Dang

    I’m bummed… my work bestie is moving away. She’ll still be with the company, but I’ll miss our lunch bitch-and-laughs. This place won’t be the same.

    I’m trying not to let it color my feelings about my job- which I do love, but largely because of the great people I work with- this just throws it a bit off balance.

    Can anyone relate?

    1. The Butcher of Luverne

      Yes, but the sad reality is… this will happen over and over through your career, and in your personal life as well.

      It’s just something we have to learn to adjust to.

    2. hermit crab

      YES. This probably isn’t helpful, and the Butcher of Luverne has good advice but — One of my best-work-friends moved to another office, and then a year later I ended up moving to that location too. Work Friend #1 eventually left the company, but then a couple years after that, our other best-work-friend moved over to the same location. These days, Work Friend #2 and I work in different departments, but have adjacent workspaces. And we both still hang out with Work Friend #1.

      In any case, it’s definitely a bummer, but this doesn’t mean you can’t still be friends!

  86. Ad feedback

    Not loving these in-post ads– they are causing really slow loading and poor scrolling on mobile. I’d rather have the ones at the top of the comments– they were annoying but didn’t impact site functionality.

    Thanks.

    1. Trixie

      I don’t have mobile but it does slow down my older Mac as well. I try to pause the ad/video before it loads and that seems to help me.

  87. Anonymous Lemur

    Ugh vent. Workplace bought branded clothing for everyone as our Xmas gift. Kind of lame (since in previous years they’ve given us equivalent in cash), but hey, it’s a gift. They sent out an order form where you can choose your sweater type and size, then put in the order.

    Got mine and discovered instead of the pullover I ordered, I had received a cardigan.

    Ah ha! I will use Alison’s trick of assuming mistake, not malice! I emailed the office admin to see if I had accidentally received someone else’s sweater. To which she responded, the pullover is a “man’s” sweater and since I was a woman, she changed my order to a cardigan instead.

    So now I have a useless cardigan which I won’t wear, and she won’t fix it. :(

    1. Nonniemoose

      I’d be so annoyed if I were you. Some of us are aware that we’re buying “men’s” clothing… and don’t care. (Actually, I buy from the kid’s department sometimes since I’m so small). Sorry to hear about this, and sorry I don’t have any good advice. :(

    2. fposte

      I didn’t know pullovers were male and cardigans were female–I’m so behind on my science! Can you offer up a swap somewhere?

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Yeah, and apparently my husband is female since he always wears cardigans (think Mr. Rogers) and I’m male because I prefer the pullovers (no button gap!).

    3. Allison

      Ughhh, I feel your pain, I would have been mad too. One time I was at an event and went to buy a shirt, and when I told them which one I wanted they said “. . . are you sure?”

      “yeah, why?”

      “well, that’s the men’s shirt. We have some nice women’s shirts which would be more flattering on a woman’s body.” (a tank top and a 3/4 length shirt, they were okay but I wanted the short sleeved shirt)

      “I know, but I want the t-shirt . . . is that okay?”

      “yeah, sure . . . it’s up to you . . .” (but with noticeably disapproving tone)

      It’s nice when a company provide