open thread – January 15-16, 2016

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 :)

{ 1,190 comments… read them below }

  1. Theresa*

    I am an engineer and have been working in environmental consulting for the last 5 years. Due to the downturn in gas prices, I was recently laid off. As a result of some soul searching and career counseling, I have decided to get a masters in business analytics.

    I am looking for a degree that will get me a solid grounding in business principles as well as the technical skills that the jobs in this field require. Using these criteria, I have short-listed York University Schulich School of Business (in Toronto; I’m Canadian), Northwestern and Denver Daniels School of Business.

    I am leaning towards Denver because it starts and finishes 6 months sooner. Is this program good? No program in this field is very old and, as such, it’s hard to find good advice or reviews about what employers are looking for in terms of schools or skills. I don’t want to discover 6 months in that this program isn’t going to get me where I want to go.

    I am hoping that someone on this thread has experience with hiring business analysts and can give me some advice about if any schools are better respected and what to look for in a business analyst program.

    1. Dawn*

      “What to look for in a business analyst program”

      You want a school that will teach you fundamentals of business analytics and not just walk you through scenarios over and over again. The thing with studying scenarios is that it teaches you how to solve that *specific* scenario but it might not teach you the why and the how of what happened and how you can then take that knowledge and go do BA somewhere else.

      Also I caution you to really think about why you’re getting an MBA. They’re about a dime a dozen on the ground and I (as a business analyst who doesn’t have an MBA) strongly advise you to see if the kinds of jobs you’d want to get need an MBA at all. If you can get your career headed in the direction you want it to go without an MBA you might run into a point in your life where you need one to either move in the direction you want or to get a promotion that you want to get (in which case your company might subsidize or even pay for you to get an MBA).

      I might be biased here (again, don’t currently have an MBA myself) but since everyone and their brother has an MBA right now I see more and more companies asking for proof of competency through employment track record with PMI/IIBA certifications as a “strongly encouraged” instead of having an MBA. The only MBA specific jobs I see lately are MBA’s with a concentration in finance.

      1. A Manager*

        It really isn’t a matter of a job “needing” an MBA. I have one and do not feel like I got my money’s worth education-wise, but it has certainly gotten me job opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I have been told many times that I got the job because I have an MBA and the other candidate didn’t. I have also received promotions that my more senior co-workers didn’t get because I have more education.

        1. Dan*

          I got my money’s worth out of my program, but I do agree with you that in this field, i couldn’t in good conscience tell somebody that a graduate degree is a waste.

          1. Dawn*

            Definitely NOT saying it’s a waste! Just encouraging OP to seriously look to see if the types of jobs he/she would want require one.

      2. Dan*

        I have an MSBA, and my program was quite technical as a result. (Technical in the sense that we learned how to manipulate and work with the data, and use various models to solve a variety of problems.) I’m not much of a degree snob, although my program was only a year long, so it certainly made sense to get the full degree as opposed to just a certificate. Also, in the field that I work in, the analysts pretty much all have a graduate degree. Few have only a BS, and of those that do, many often go on to company-paid graduate school.

        When I look for jobs, many of them say “BS required, MS/PhD preferred.” So there’s that.

        FWIW, “business analytics” can mean different things to different people. If the only real technical skill that one learns in a program is how to use Tableau, well, that’s just one piece of a bigger picture.

        1. Theresa*

          Thank you Dan!

          I am interested in many different parts of business analytics and data analysis and there’s a lot I don’t know about the field, which is one other reason why I am very interested in going to school for the program instead of just getting on-the-job training. As you pointed out, the specific technical knowledge is important for getting work in this field and that’s what I hope to gain through the program but I also want to make sure the business aspects are addressed.

          I have referred to the article you referenced below extensively. Many of the programs on it, I eliminated because they were very focused on machine learning or software design rather than having a blend of data and business principles. Some of them I eliminated due to format. York and Northwestern are on my list particularly because they are on that list. However, I have also heard good things about the Denver program and that 6 month head start feels really important right now even though I know it’s nothing in the grand scheme of things.

          I certainly agree with your point that the definitions involved in these programs are very squishy right now and it’s hard to compare apples to apples with respect to what I might get out of each one.

          1. Dan*

            You’re welcome. I will say that job hunting in this field is hard. It’s not because of lack of jobs, but because there’s no consistent classification. Some places call these jobs an IT function, some call it engineering, I’ve seen others house it in finance. Some places will call it a straight up business analyst, others call it “financial analyst”, etc. You’ll really have to read through job ads (not just the titles) to see what qualifications they want and what you have. It’s time consuming.

            In fact, that may not be a bad thing to do before settling in on a program. Take an afternoon and look at postings, and see what kind of trends you detect. Then make sure the program you select gets you those skills. I found my program, it looked good, I called the program director and told him, “This is what I want to do. Can you help me?” Turns out he could, and the program did position me for the career I intended. I’ve been working in it ever since.

            Take a look at cost, big time. The cost of the program at Denver scares me. Typical starting salaries for a business analyst are going to be under $80k, so if you a bunch for undergrad, that tuition is going to really squeeze you. I borrowed for school because the opportunity cost of waiting a year to be an instate resident wasn’t worth it.

      3. Theresa*

        I wouldn’t be getting a traditional MBA, I’m looking specifically at masters of business analytic tracks. As to your point about getting work experience to move my career in that direction, I agree with you; I’ve been hearing that from a number of industry professionals. None of them, however, are able to hire me. With the job market the way it is, I feel that it is a good time to get a masters and it will leave me at least able to say that I have the basic credentials for the opportunities I want.

        Your advice about scenarios verses fundamentals is great. I think that all three programs I am looking into will offer me that. Business principles are, ostensibly, a big part of all three programs including situational analysis and understanding assumptions inherent in the data.

        I looked into just doing a local college course in Microsoft-based business intelligence but decided that a masters would be more impressive and valuable.

        Thank you so much for your response

    2. Dan*

      ” No program in this field is very old”

      That’s not really a true statement. I got my MSBA degree in 2008, and it was around for years before that.

      When people ask about Business Analytics programs, I look at two things: Technical strength of curriculum, and cost. My program cost me $25k (it’s gone up a bit, but it isn’t the $60k Daniels is quoting you), so that’s always my benchmark. Second, you want to come out of a program like this with the ability to *solve problems*. That means getting hands on experience in the classroom, learning things R, SAS, or VBA. You want to work with real-world data sets, not just canned text-book examples. You want to be able to synthesize the data you have (which is lots of times very nasty and not well formatted) into what you need to solve the problem you actually have.

    3. Clever Name*

      Just so you know, I work for a environmental consulting firm in the Denver area, and we are hiring an environmental or civil engineer. PE or EIT….

    4. Devil's Avocado*

      Hey fellow Canadian! I was in a different faculty (so I can’t speak to that particular program), but I went to DU! I looooved it there. If you haven’t looked at cost yet, it is very, very expensive, especially by Canadian standards, and especially now that our dollar is the worst.

    5. Stephanie*

      I looked at that same program at Northwestern (if my guess is correct). Good–it was relatively short (three quarters, I think) and at least according to the website, seemed practically oriented. Bad–it was really, really expensive and there wasn’t anything in the way of funding (aside from a few competitive partial tuition scholarships).

      My aunt used to work in admissions at a university–usually international students had to prove they had sufficient funds for the duration of their degree. This may not apply to you if you’re a dual citizen or permanent resident, but just keep that in mind.

    6. Meeeeeeeee*

      It depends on your strengths and what you want to do, but I work in the business analytics field (well, more marketing analytics now, but same idea) and I would encourage you to get a master’s in Statistics or Data Science instead. The soft skills side of BA you can learn without a degree program (how to tell a story, how to figure out what somebody really is asking for) and the technical skills of a statistics degree would be much more useful in finding a job, I think. Of course my experience is limited so I’m sure others disagree, and I haven’t looked in depth at business analytics degrees!

      1. Dan*

        My alma mater renamed their quant analytics program to “business analytics” but didn’t change the curriculum. So to me, I don’t care what they calls these things — the definitions are rather squishy — it’s the curriculum that matters. I certainly have my biases, as we all do, but if you don’t walk out with solid technical skills, ie knowing how to do some scripting in R or SAS, I’d think long and hard. For example, if Tableau or Microstrategy are the only tools you learn in a program, I’d think twice before handing over tens of thousands of dollars.

      2. CDM*

        I second going the stats route , or a program that teaches you real programming skills and includes at least 2 or 3 stats classes. I started an online program last year that touted itself as a blend of business and data analytics but dropped out when I realized that it was not teaching me the technical skills I needed after I found everyone I met actually working in the field had in the minimum strong programming skills and usually some stats background as well. I am now trying to figure out if I want to try school again or try to move into analytics from my current job.

    7. Grumpy*

      Two comments FWIW: (Disclosure: I work in resource extraction in Canada and work with / go through a LOT of engineers, students, TFWs, enviro consultants and garden variety business improvement types)
      One, consider going to school where you plan to work after graduation since a big part of the Masters program is making business contacts. Canadians who work in the US pay A LOT of freaking tax. Also, Canadian programs don’t have the alumni support US schools do which means that other York / Schulich grads may not be able to (or care to) open doors for you.
      Two, this may not be your best course of action. If I could physocally stop you from doing this I would.
      Please talk to people who are where you’d like to be and ask them for advice. A proven record of achievement is much more valuable.

  2. edj3*

    If you are a virtual/remote employee, I want your advice and opinion.

    What’s worked well to help you stay engaged with the employees who sit in an office together?

    What’s not worked well?

    What tips do you have for me managing various members of my team who are virtual?

    1. Sascha*

      I telecommute 3 days a week. I think the blended telecommute schedule helps keep me engaged with everyone. As introverted and homebody as I am, I like having the 2 days a week to see people face to face for work and meetings that are better suited for in-person conversations.

      A good chat program also helps. We have 2 at my university – one sucks and is down all the time (homegrown), and the other is cloud-based and is always up, so we use that one.

      1. ali*

        Same. I do three days at home (and am an introverted homebody) but go into the office on Wed & Thurs. It really helps, but having a good chat program definitely makes a difference as well. I work most often with another person who is 100% remote and we probably chat more when we’re apart than we do when we’re actually in the office at the same time. Our boss is remote as well, and he hosts a weekly check-in conference call that is optional and it’s just to touch base with everyone, if there’s important business stuff to discuss, he saves that for group emails or our bi-weekly official team meetings.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I am not, but I have had team members who were full-time remote employees. I found that videoconferencing really helped build a rapport that made emails and phonecalls smoother and less open to misinterpretation. I try to set up managers with an hour-long teleconference with their new remote employees, and they all say that it does wonders for their ability to work via email, IM, and telephone. I also tried having remote employees videoconferenced in for team meetings, so that you can all see each others’ nonverbal reactions, and you can use nonverbal cues to tell when someone has something to say. I’m sure we’ve all had trouble getting a word in when we’re on speakerphone!

    3. Almond Milk Latte*

      Everyone at my company works from home, so it’s a little different. What works for us is knowing everyone’s hours and having a good chat program. In-person meetings are great if you can swing them. The hard part for us is socializing – We don’t have much opportunity to chat amongst ourselves in a non-work setting, and building that rapport between colleagues is really important. We do a holiday team call on GoToMeeting with silly icebreakers so we have a good excuse to chat with each other and learn more about who everyone is.

    4. Jane*

      I used to work from home full time. I had a great relationship with my manager, and met three of my best friends while we all worked from home.

      I second making sure that you have a great chat program. (I really like Slack better than anything else I’ve tried, but there’s lots of great team chat software out there.) We also had frequent video Skype sessions with remote team members. I had weekly and ad hoc video meetings with my manager. One thing he did that I thought was a nice touch: he always chatted us before he called us on the video chat program so that we’d have five minutes to prepare. (I didn’t always work in my pajamas, but… It was nice to have a little warning.)

    5. NacSacJack*

      I work remotely at a far-distant office in another state half a continent away from the home office. Recommendations for managing your remote workers? 1) Chat program 2) Weekly or biweekly 1×1 3) If you’re managing a project, but your remote worker is leading it – daily 1×1 conference calls. These would be project related only, not the HR 1×1’s mentioned earlier. Case In Point – My boss is also the Tech Manager on several projects and I’m the tech lead on one of them. We’ve worked this system off and on for the last three years. The best action he ever took was setting up daily 1×1 at the end of his day. I tell him what roadblocks I have, ask for project direction, get feed back from him and we’re good to go for another 24 hours. We don’t meet every day, because he gets stuck in meetings, but he knows if I need to talk to him, I’ll speak up. Otherwise, we catch up the next day. We try not to get too independent of each other because he’s in the home office sitting next to the rest of the project team and I’m out here. He hears aisle conversations and lets me know and I know he’ll let me know. The rest of the team usually does this, “Oh by the way, we’ve decided to…” which irks me and I get all bent out of shape. Remember, I mentioned earlier we’ve worked this off and on? The one project we didn’t work together, the tech manager never spoke to me, I never knew what was going and changes would occur that I didn’t know about and had to make changes to match quickly. As my boss, he got an earful about that project and the other tech manager.

    6. Rob D*

      Go read Jason Fried’s book “Remote: Office Not Required.” You can read it in an evening. It will answer many of your questions and give you some great tips on subjects you might not have thought of.

    7. ASJ*

      Throwing this out there from a different perspective.. my office has one person who works remotely. Everyone else has a great relationship with her, as they knew her before she began working remotely. Me? I barely know her and don’t feel the same rapport with her as I do my other coworkers. I’ve only met her twice in the year I’ve worked here. So I would encourage the idea of videoconferencing or something like that.

    8. katamia*

      I work from home, but for a company where almost all of the contractors work from home; there isn’t much of an office presence beyond a few people. I’m probably a bit of a unique case because I don’t really *want* to be engaged (one of the things I love about working from home is not having to deal with coworkers) and I’ve never really felt isolated. I will say that videoconferencing sounds like absolute hell to me, but then it’s completely unnecessary for the kind of work I do, so I might feel differently if it weren’t. So it might help to get a sense of what level of engagement is necessary for the kind of work you do and what kind of engagement your remote employees might want; I’m happy with basically no interaction with my boss other than work-related emails, but for all I know (I don’t know any other remote employees at my company), others might be sending chatty emails back and forth with my boss.

      As far as managing goes, the best thing you can do is make sure that you stay really responsive when they have questions. My company is really good about responding promptly when I email them to let them know if there’s a problem with a file I’ve received, but other places I’ve worked haven’t been, and it’s really frustrating to have a deadline for work I can’t do. Depending on the specifics of your office, you might even need to prioritize most emails from remote workers over most emails from in-office workers (note “most” not “all” in this sentence) because remote workers often have fewer resources to turn to when they have questions or problems.

      1. HR Newby*

        Do you mind telling me what type of work you do? I am always looking to shake things up a bit! Ha!

        1. katamia*

          Right now I do audio transcription–people send audio files to the company I work for, the company sends them to me, I transcribe them and send them back. A lot of the files I get are from researchers at universities who have done interviews for whatever they’re researching, although there are other companies out there that focus on other types of transcription, like legal, medical, and entertainment.

          1. Lyric*

            May I ask… Are you using a steno machine, or a regular QWERTY keyboard? I’m just starting a court reporting program and you’ve piqued my curiosity. :3

    9. Alex*

      * At least try to visit the main office a few times a year — maybe once a quarter?
      * Video conferencing helps
      * Also, call people instead of just emailing — hearing a voice helps significantly. I wouldn’t do it for little things, but for stuff that needs a more nuanced discussion

    10. Sunshine Brite*

      Do they ever have to go in? I go early to the group meetings and make an effort to make small talk, get to know others, arrange to lunch with someone that day. That helps a lot.

      What’s not worked well – sometimes the tech is frustrating. I’ve been working remotely since summer 2014 and just now starting to get more ergonomic stuff for myself because my agency can’t provide it for home offices like a good keyboard and monitor. Sometimes my printer/scanner doesn’t work right but it’s like the most helpful thing ever to keep me from having to repeatedly go in for very little reason.

      I think what’s worked for our team has actually been watching for cultural fit. I feel like most of the people in my hire cohort who are still here and working remotely are more introverted. Other than that we’re very different people with different perspectives.
      Know your own communication preferences. My supervisor and I primarily email. It’s what works. We meet in person monthly but that’s about it. If we weren’t able to meet in person we’d teleconference.

      1. ali*

        Yes, if you do end up going into the office at all, arrange to have lunch on the days you’re in with 1-3 other people. If big group lunches are arranged, that’s fine, but I’ve found a smaller group makes me actually get to know people, which spawns later conversation topics.

    11. edj3*

      Thanks for all your replies–I value this specific employee a lot and want to ensure I do everything I can from my end. This person is alone in terms of being virtual; while there’s another group located elsewhere that’s part of my team, it’s a group so they at least have each other.

      We do have budget for trips back to the mothership once, sometimes twice a year.

      We use an IM client and WebEx with video conferencing (but this employee isn’t a big fan of the camera). Phone is an option too but the preference on the remote employee’s side is for the IM client.

      Having said all that, the employee is interested in a promotion within my team. I was candid in a 1:1 that it will be harder for being remote. That’s not fair but that is the landscape.

      I welcome any other suggestions. As I said, I value this employee a lot and want to do my part in making this work.

      1. De Minimis*

        I’m not a remote worker, but my employer has about a third of the staff located out of state, most of them working from home. We are big on video conferencing, but also use Yammer [a social networking platform] to keep in touch. It also works really well in connecting different departments on-site.

  3. CrazyCatLady*

    I received a job offer over 2 months ago and turned it down due to many red flags. I just received the WEIRDEST email from the interviewer saying that he’s interviewed over 25 people and won’t hire anyone because I am the benchmark and he won’t settle for less and he really went on and on about it. It was flattering but SO weird to me – I only had two interviews there, so I don’t know how I became the benchmark or how he could possibly know if I’m good, since he’s never worked with me!

    1. Artemesia*

      Well there you have it, ANOTHER red flag that this is a place without boundaries. Dodged a bullet there.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Yeah, that’s what I felt too. It felt more like a letter from a distraught ex-boyfriend than a potential employer.

          1. Pwyll*

            Well, that or for you to magically respond, “Oh, I didn’t realize you thought that highly of me, let me reconsider and come work for you now. Yay!”

            1. CrazyCatLady*

              I even wrote back, politely, to tell him thanks for reaching out but that my main concern, which still remains, was X, but that I wish him luck in finding a qualified candidate. And he wrote back AGAIN, so I’ve gone silent.

    2. Red Wheel*

      I had something similar occur to me recently. I wonder if it is the same company?
      If so, it would make ME the new benchmark! :)

        1. Red Wheel*

          The company is in Maryland. Right now I am letting process play itself out but there are several red flags about them so far.

    3. Observer*

      Good heavens! Why would any employer think you would fall for that?! Clearly this is a place with ZERO boundaries, and think they totally own anyone who they deign to hire.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This story keeps getting worse and worse. Good call on this one. People are usually on their best behavior with strangers. I shudder to think what happens once you know this person.

  4. 42*

    Happy Friday!

    We’re gearing up for our yearly evaluations. What is “performance differentiation”? How is it different that regular yearly evaluations? I’ve only been in my position a little over a year, and I don’t remember that being mentioned in our last yearly evals.


    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Without context it’s hard to know, but it sounds like they’re looking for ways in which your performance differs from/is better than others’. What differentiates you from an average performer? From a new hire? From someone who doesn’t have the same goals as you? etc.

      1. Anlyn*

        Or possibly from what was done last year; was there anything that was improved on, or could be improved on? You’ll need to ask your manager for clarification (42, not Victoria).

    2. 42*

      Thanks. I wasn’t sure if this was a standard-type thing with little deviation or not. Never heard that terminology before.

    3. Bubba*

      I had a phone interview earlier this week, and she asked me what I thought of their website (part of the job would be reworking it). BOY was I glad I had my computer right there and open to their website! Also, call someone right before the interview time to make sure your phone is behaving properly and they can hear you clearly. Good luck!

  5. Trill*

    I have a phone interview later today.
    It’s my first interview in several years so I’m a little nervous.
    I’ve done a fair amount of research on the company and the position, and have some questions of my own prepared, but if anyone has any last minute tips or advice to offer, I’d really appreciate it!

    1. KR*

      Drink some tea or water before the interview so your voice is clear, talk to yourself to practice beforehand so you know how you want to phrase things, and remember that you are AWESOME and YOU CAN DO IT!

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I put a glass of water on my desk because I’m prone to coughing fits and it’s awkward.

        Although my last job I got even though during the phone interview I leaned back while considering a question and promptly slammed my head into a wall and said “Ow! Crap!” before thinking about it. And then had to explain to the interviewer that I’d just hit my head on a wall.

        Shockingly, I got the job without an in-person interview (it was a contract position and they were hiring fast). At least it was an accurate representation of me as an employee, because that is a normal level of clumsiness for me. (I really DO walk into doors.)

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      I seem to do really well on phone interviews because I can keep the job description and my resume right in front of me. I usually highlight parts from the job description that I have strong experience in, have some notes on how my experience aligns with their needs, and what questions I have based on the description. It’s probably a phone screen so definitely have an answer prepared about salary expectations or current salary. I’ve been asked that on every single phone interview. Deep breath and good luck!

      1. edj3*

        ^ this. It’s a nice bonus that you can have your stuff right there in front of you. You might consider standing for the interview–when I do that, I bring more energy to the conversation.

        1. KR*

          Totally agree. When I have to make a phone call that isn’t to a friend or family member I sit up outrageously straight, I practice what I’m going to say, and sometimes I stand up. It helps you speak better because your airway is opened up and your lungs can fully expand. Example – my desk phone is at the very opposite side of my desk so I can’t do my usual slouch while I’m speaking on it!

        2. Trill*

          Oh thanks! Standing is a great tip that I never thought of. And I’m much more of a standing person than a sitting person anyway, I I’ll be a little more comfortable in that sense.

    3. Dawn*

      If you can find a picture of the person you’ll be talking with print it out and prop it up on your desk to look at while you’re talking on the phone (if not, find a gender-appropriate picture and use that instead). Interview to the picture- it will help A TON in remembering to be professional on the phone!

      1. Rana*

        I do that too! It’s very helpful!

        (Though I put them on my laptop, instead of printing them out.)

    4. FD*

      Listen to some badass music just before the call. I like “Eye of the Tiger”–it makes me feel ready to DOMINATE the interview.

      1. LPBB*

        I did this before my last phone interview and felt silly yet still powerful and confident. I thought that I totally flubbed the phone interview, but just had an in-person interview for that position. It might sound a little goofy, but I definitely noticed a difference!

    5. Amy M the HR Lady*

      For a phone interview, I always dress as if I’m going to a face to face interview, it helps keep me in a professional state of mind. Alsosmile, it will translate in your voice. And, like edj3 said, I always stand, it helps me from sounding too casual. Good luck!

    6. BRR*

      Use notes, have water handy, I like standing up if I can, pay attention to the tone in your voice because you have to compensate for the lack of body language.

    7. Talya*

      It really comes down to the basics. Having a calm, quiet space without background noise and distractions is the best start. Also as mentioned earlier, some hot tea or some water is great for helping clear your throat so you can feel confident about how you speak. Don’t recommend coffee so much, as that might make you more nervous. Also, just be open and honest, while promoting yourself the best you can. Also remember, the recruiter or manager on the other end is probably experiencing some nerves too.

      Hope this helps :-)

    8. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

      Remember you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. This mindset always helps me relax.

  6. Crispy*

    Last week I posted about a not so good work environment and constantly being on the verge of tears. I was able to get into a therapist last night and she was super concerned as I’m having crying spells and am constantly on the verge of tears. She wants me to go to a psychiatrist and doctor immediately and take short term disability or medical leave (I don’t know if that’s possible?)

    I’ve been unhappy and stressed but last week is when I had a major meltdown and have been emotional and crying ever since. My SO is super concerned and wants me to just quit without anything lined up, get better and find a better job after but I’m terrified I won’t be able to find anything if I do that.

    Does anyone have any advice for me or been through something similar. I’m waiting to get into a psychiatrist as soon as I can to see what they advise.

    1. Artemesia*

      Sounds like you are taking control of your situation and getting help which is great. Absolutely do not let your current boss push you out the door like this. They might not be able to fire you because of that due to your disability and he wants to make it easy on himself and hard on you by getting you to voluntarily put yourself out of work and out of insurance and at a financial disadvantage. Think how much harder it will be to get this under control if you have the additional stress of unemployment. Don’t quit. Consider a medical leave of absence and discuss this with HR and not your boss as a first step if you decide to go that way. DO NOT let this boss bully you out of a job while you are sick.

        1. Carmie*

          I think SO stands for “significant other” and not her supervisor. But I could be wrong. I bet her significant other is concerned and just wants what is best.

        1. Artemesia*

          Sorry missed that; not sure why I read that as supervisor. So I take back any ugly insinuations about the boss and certainly about the SO. But I would be looking at a medical leave and not just abandoning the job. Being unemployed is pretty stressful. The OP can always resign at the end of that period if that seems wise, but in the meantime, the job is safe for awhile.

    2. Anon for this*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this – it’s hard when the place you spend the most time makes you physically and mentally ill. I’m going through something similar. I’ve been having suicidal thoughts and have already been in therapy (ongoing) and have adjusted meds, but am just crying or self-loathing and wanting to die all the time. I’ve contemplated quitting with nothing lined up too, because I know a job isn’t worth it. But I feel the same way as you.

      Are you able to completely shut work out when you leave? My husband is very frustrated because he feels like work matters more than him if I want to die over it. I explained it as, if you’re taking a 10 credit class that you’re failing and you’re taking a 3 credit class that you’re doing wonderfully in, the 10 credit class (where you probably spend the most time), is making everything else worse. That analogy was kind of a turnaround for me, because I thought “well in that case, I’d probably take an easy A class” and started thinking about good things I could ADD to my life, so that work doesn’t consume my every thought.

      I don’t know if short-term disability or medical leave is possible. Maybe FMLA would work depending on the size of your employer.

      1. edj3*

        Don’t want to leave your post unacknowledged. That’s a tough place to be in and I hope you are seeing a tiny light of hope.

      2. Melissa B*

        I’m just a stranger on the internet, but it sounds like a serious situation for you. As someone whose felt the devastation of a family member’s suicide, please do whatever you can to make your life happier, even if that means quitting your job without another lined up. You may want to look into treatment centers or even just retreats (yoga, etc.). There are even suicide support groups (to obviously not do it). Maybe start there? Best of luck.

    3. Socksberg*

      I don’t know if it’s the best move career-wise, but for mental health reasons I would quit. If this job is making you miserable, that’s going to be hard to hide during interviews, and I would quit even without a job lined up.

    4. INFJ*

      I strongly recommend taking medical leave. If you have a DR stating that you should not be at work for medical reasons, you have a lot of power legally if your employer tries to retaliate.

    5. Anananon*

      I had a boss that was so abusive that I was diagnosed with PTSD and went on medical leave. Once on leave, I had the ability to separate from the situation and realized there was no reason to go back. It was during the recession and my freeloading sister was living with me, but I still quit with nothing lined up. I found a temp job in 3 weeks and a permanent job a month later.
      In the end, it is your decision, but it sounds like you have a good safety net with your SO’s support. And I should add that it is hard to interview while you are worn down and desperate to get away. Once you are refreshed and confident again, interviews go much better.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I have been through something very, very similar – this time last year, in fact. In my case the problem was an anxiety disorder, which was being exacerbated by my work.

      My doctor and therapist treated me for anxiety, with both CBT and medication (an antidepressant taken daily and an antianxiety drug to take during especially stressful moments – which I only took twice, because it made so do damned sleepy). They suggested that I take a few days off work to get my plan in place, but they very strongly encouraged me not to take more time off work, unless it was truly necessary. They (correctly, in my case) suggested that there would be a boomerang effect in taking additional time off work; I’d be anxious about missing work, losing my job, falling behind, etc. They were willing to advocate for me to take an extended leave if necessary, but they really didn’t want me to do that (and I didn’t).

      I did get to a point where my husband and I decided that it was ok if I lost my job to preserve my health. That decision allowed me to have a super direct conversation with my manager and ask for her help. I knew I might be putting my job at risk by being open about a mental health issue – particularly one that was explicitly getting in the way of my work.

      My boss let me take a few days to sort everything out (go to appointments, start medication, etc.) and took some projects off my plate to give me the space to do so. But, to be honest, it did damage me reputation at work, and I did end up leaving as a result (which was for the best – I left on my own terms, but a job that is a much, much better fit for me, but it still sucked).

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I should say that the anxiety manifested itself in the same ways you’re describing: uncontrollable crying, literal panic on Sunday nights, working all hours because I was sure I was screwing up/failing at everything I was doing, rapid weight loss. I shiver to think about it now. I’m so, so sorry that you’re going through something similar.

      2. Christy*

        Same here! I’ve taken my Xanax twice, and I started the Lexapro and I feel like it’s already kicking in. Plus my therapist helped convince me it was ok to ask for help (part of what I’m doing right now is objectively really difficult and I objective lack training in it). I haven’t had to tell my bosses about my anxiety issues, which has been a blessing. I feel infinitely better about all of life, and it’s really this huge combination of therapy and two types of meds and exercising regularly again (following a cold) that is pulling me together.

        1. Christy*

          PS: I totally got meds by talking to my physician, not a psychiatrist. It was really easy to get medicine, honestly. Plus, idk what your insurance situation was but with my BCBS, both prescriptions were only $11.50.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I saw your post downthread and wanted to say this: Yay!! I’m so glad you’re doing better.

          This happened to me a year ago, and I just yesterday decided – with my doctor – to go off the antidepressant. I’m fully through to the other side, so much so that it’s hard to even believe my own memories. Surely I must have been exaggerating with I circled all the “every day” and “very strongly” answers on the screenings I did, right? It’s hard to even imagine being in that space now and I’m so incredibly grateful. Good luck to you and I look forward to hearing from you when you get through this!!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        ” They suggested that I take a few days off work to get my plan in place, but they very strongly encouraged me not to take more time off work, unless it was truly necessary. They (correctly, in my case) suggested that there would be a boomerang effect in taking additional time off work; I’d be anxious about missing work, losing my job, falling behind, etc. ”

        This, this. Please carefully consider how this advice may apply to your setting, OP. I stayed at horrid job and it was all the anxiety you can imagine. I think I took longer to heal because of staying at the job. I eventually quit and went back to school. I very seldom have bouts of anxiety now, but I do understand that I am vulnerable to it. I still try to eat right, hydrate, and get regular amounts of sleep. My thinking is that you never know when life is going to throw a curve ball, I want to be in a half-way decent space with my health and habits. What I am trying to say, is that even though what happened to me was quite a while ago, I still have not forgotten. I can’t forget. That is how big a deal this stuff is. Take care of you, OP.

    7. fposte*

      Other people are covering all the really important stuff, so let me address the “I don’t know if that’s possible” part on leave.

      If you’re in the U.S., you are probably eligible for FMLA if: your employer has more than 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, you’ve worked there for at least twelve months, and in the last twelve months you worked at least 1250 hours (which averages about 25 hours per week). FMLA is job protection leave only–it will *not* pay you. It is quite possible that leave in your situation would be eligible–I would recommend asking your psychiatrist about taking leave and if they will fill out the forms.

      Short-term disability is an insurance policy that pays you when you’re out on leave–it doesn’t protect your job, but it gets you money (so it’s kind of complementary to FMLA). In California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, the state requires that you be provided with some kind of short-term disability insurance; if you’re not in one of those states, it’s pretty much up to the employer. If you have an employee manual or an employer’s website, check through them to see if they have any information on short-term disability; also check your paystubs or equivalent to see if there are any deductions that might apply to that, so you have an idea about whether you have coverage. (This may be something your SO can do if they want to help, too.)

      Basically, I’d recommend one step at a time. Take a moment to find out what you’re eligible for while staying at your current job, because you can always quit *after* you get that information, but you can’t quit, get that information, and then decide to come back.

      Good luck, OP. I know it can be hard to imagine feeling better when you’re at this kind of low point, but it really does happen.

    8. A Jane*

      Can you take some time off to have a break and think about how you want to handle things?

      I didn’t see your post last week. I went through something similar myself a few years ago and took some time off with stress because of the situation and was made redundant by my bully boss when I went back to work. He followed the UK redundancy process perfectly so I had no way to address this legally with him. I was paid 3 months notice and started a new job within 6 weeks, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had!

      Leaving and finding a good boss to work for could be the best thing to happen to you.

      Good luck!

    9. Snow White*

      Listen to your SO and therapist. I have been exactly where you are, even down to the major meltdown which just opened the flood gates – I used to ball hysterically if my key didn’t fit into the door.

      Your health is so much more important; get into a psychiatrist – I am unsure about how American doctors work but can you be signed medically unable to work due to stress? This happened to me (UK) and my doctor actually said that I was having a normal reaction to a horrible situation. I stayed far longer in the position than I should have done, and I am still a little shaky/teary months later.

      It is not you, it is them. Get out – I promise you, from experience, it will work out.

    10. Argh!*

      Your primary care physician should be able to handle medical leave issues and prescribe anti-depressants. No need to wait for a psychiatrist to be available. There’s also the option of going to the Emergency Room, because they usually have a psychiatrist on call.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I think an urgent care clinic can also provide help. That may be more accessible and you won’t have to wait as long. But if your first prescription is not through a psychiatrist keep trying to see one. When I went through my crisis I had a meds doc and a talk doc and both were essential. Prescribing these meds is more art than science so it helps to consult a master.

      2. Grad Student*

        Seconding this. Going to your primary care provider would provide a faster track to getting anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants than waiting for an appointment with a psychiatrist. Perhaps you’ll find that you would prefer a psychiatrist down the road, but if you need something ASAP your PCP would be a good option.

        Sorry you are going through this!

    11. Kyrielle*

      I would also see your primary care doctor. If you have short term disability coverage and/or if you’re FMLA eligible (others have covered that), I wouldn’t quit – you have a doctor who says you need medical leave, which will give you more options and still result in your not being at work. If, once you’ve been on leave a while and sorted things out, you determine the job is the problem (which it sounds like it is) and you need to quit and move on, you can do that – but you will be much better able to evaluate that after you’re out of the situation for a bit, I suspect.

      The short term disability coverage is especially what you hope for, since that would pay you at least part of what you’re making, which is a lot better than quitting and getting nothing.

    12. NicoleK*

      Last summer, I nearly had a breakdown due to a toxic workplace. I utilized EAP, went on anti anxiety meds, took 2-3 days off per month, kept a journal, vented to all supportive folks in my life, and went on a vacation. I seriously thought about walking off the job, quitting with no job lined up, or asking my boss to lay me off. Everything I did helped me to cope, but the only solution was to get out of there.

      1. dawbs*

        If you (Or your SO, possibly) has an EAP, please make use of it.
        They can be awesome at helping find lifelines

        You do what you need to for you though. SOmtimes, like PP said, you have to get out.
        (there’s a difference between a lousy job and soul-sucking, mental heath destroying monstrosity. It can be hard to see the differences sometimes, but don’t be afraid to go if you need)

  7. Dawn*

    I’m going to my first two Federal Government Vendor Outreach Sessions next week- anyone have any pointers? I have seen it described as a mix of speed dating and a job interview for the company you’re representing. I’m working with my CEO to make a good tailored Statement of Capability for each department (incorporating AAM resume rules, of course!) I am thinking treat it like a job interview except I’m trying to get my company a job, using the contracts forecast for each department as a stand-in for a job description.

    I’d love to hear from people who have been there, done that, got the t-shirt and/or people who have experience on the other side of the table, if there’s anyone who has. Thanks in advance!

    1. Allison*

      I set these up all the time and work on the other side. I prefer when vendors are trying to help me solve a problem and not trying to sell me a service. I can get a service but I can’t always get a partner who what to help. So stay away from selling things. Have fun with the situation! I call mine Speed Dating for Engineers. It helps to make it less serious and keeps people engaged in the process. Meeting so many people in one shot can be mind numbing and companies at the end of the line can get short changed.

  8. Anon for this one*

    I know AAM’s discussed how to deal when you cry in the workplace, but how do you handle it when senior staff has a breakdown?

    I work in a very high-stress environment (beauty PR – think Devil Wears Prada) and it’s not uncommon for people to have breakdowns in the office. We’ve all come to expect it from entry-level employees new to the field, but in the time I’ve been here, I’ve been present for three people who were senior to me burst into tears -one was my direct manager, and another was a VP who started crying in my office before running out. I’m at a loss for the best way to handle it – do I try to comfort them, or protect their dignity by pretending it isn’t happening? :/

    Any thoughts are much appreciated!

    1. K*

      I wouldn’t bring it up in the situations where they run off. Actually, I don’t think I’d bring it up at all regardless. If they were junior to you it would be different, a compassionate approach could make a junior person feel less worried about their inappropriate behavior, but a senior person is probably just embarrassed that they got to that point and wants to move past it. If someone senior started crying in front of you and did not feel compelled to leave and collect themselves, at most I would say maybe a hand on the shoulder but I think giving it as little attention as possible is the kindest option in this case.

      1. Dasha*

        Yes also, I agree with K that I wouldn’t chase them or bring it off if they run out. My advice below is if they are in your office and not running out.

    2. Dasha*

      I think it really depends on your relationship and the person. I know personally I would probably go with something along the lines of, “Yes, this is a super stressful situation, why don’t I go get you some water and some tissues so you can calm down” Then I’d go and get them some super cold water (supposed to help with the crying) and tissues but I’d take my sweet time in hopes they’d calm down a bit by the time I got back.

    3. Turanga Leela*

      Have a box of tissues on the desk. It’s kind to offer them if the person is crying. If the person seems to need a minute to collect himself, I’d say something like, “I’m so sorry. Can I get you a cup of tea?” and then do that in order to give the person a little bit of space. If the person seems to want to finish talking to you despite crying, just offer the Kleenex and keep listening, or affirming that the person is great at his job, or that you are handling the ABC account, or whatever makes sense in context. If he runs out of the office, I’d stop by later and say you’re so sorry about the situation, which is totally stressful/unfair/fill in the blank.

      I think you want to strike a sympathetic tone without acting like the person is fragile. Clearly this is something that happens in your office. I’d aim for more, “Oof, that sucks,” and less, “You poor thing.”

    4. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

      This happened to me in higher ed. The dean of the college came into my office to talk about something separate, and then started talking about a giant mistake she made (made her research team lose out on a huge grant), and she started to cry. I was totally shocked. I think I offered her a tissue and tried to comfort her. I never brought it up again and neither did she.

    5. Clever Name*

      I cried in front of my boss a few months ago because I was overwhelmed with work and had just been asked to do yet another project and I just lost it. I’m not entry level, and I’ve been here 4 years, so it was definitely out of character for me. He hugged me briefly and took some work off my plate. And we hired another person.

    6. NJ Anon*

      My boss, the executive director of my organization, walked out of a difficult meeting straight into my office crying. I gave her a tissue, let her calm down and just offer some general sympathy.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      If they are not talking to you or do not offer an opening in some manner, there’s not a lot you can do.

      However, there are two strong tools you can use if they are talking to you.

      One, is to acknowledge their situation. Even if the best you can do is say, “I think that this is a very difficult situation” that gives them acknowledgement. It’s very powerful to have another person acknowledge that our problem/situation is difficult.

      If you are involved in a longer conversation, tell the person to cry it out. Seriously. They will probably stop crying in a few minutes, most of the time. Whatever you do- don’t tell them to stop crying. If you do you will have some 45 plus minutes of talking them down from their high emotional state.
      So, if you do not want to say, “cry it out”, the next best thing is to offer kleenex and keep talking to them as if you do not see any tears going on. Carry a gentle expectation that life will continue and they will work through their problem one step at a time. Remember you are not there to solve the problem, you are there helping them find their next step*. That is all you are doing. This next step might be as simple as they return to their own desk and call someone. The next step does not have to be elaborate.

      *Crying people are much easier to talk with once we decide we are not going to be able to fix it for them. Take away that expectation of fixing it and the picture changes. Also understand, that people are very intuitive and they don’t realize. Many times people already know their answer and this is yet another good reason not to try to solve things.

      1. TootsNYC*

        So, if you do not want to say, “cry it out”, the next best thing is to offer kleenex and keep talking to them as if you do not see any tears going on. Carry a gentle expectation that life will continue and they will work through their problem one step at a time. Remember you are not there to solve the problem, you are there helping them find their next step*. That is all you are doing. This next step might be as simple as they return to their own desk and call someone. The next step does not have to be elaborate.

        *Crying people are much easier to talk with once we decide we are not going to be able to fix it for them. Take away that expectation of fixing it and the picture changes. Also understand, that people are very intuitive and they don’t realize. Many times people already know their answer and this is yet another good reason not to try to solve things.

        This is really powerful.

        i once started crying out of frustration in the dr.’s office, and this is what he did. Handed me a tissue box, said matter-of-factly, “I’d cry too if I was in your shoes, is very frustrating for me, so it must be worse for you.” And then simply kept talking about whatever it was, and asked questions, waited for answers, etc., as if I wasn’t crying at all.

        It was so comforting, actually, to have him be so confident that I could handle my tears and excess emotion without him having to fix me.

  9. KR*

    I’m covering for my supervisor who is out on sick leave and I’ve successfully managed a week without the place burning down! I am so proud of myself!

    1. Bruce H.*

      Now is the time to start shopping your supervisor to the head hunters. If you want the job, that is. :)

  10. ThatGirl*

    I would love some opinions on this.

    I am an editor, part of a 4-person team with a managing editor. We work hand-in-hand with 4 writers, one of whom is a manager.

    We are in charge of QCing the writers’ work and being the final check before it’s loaded/printed/published etc. There is one writer who frequently runs afoul of small style issues in our file setups. I’ve asked/reminded her a few times, and yet it continues. She works in a different state than the rest of us, and I’m not her manager, nor anyone’s manager. I generally just fix things myself. It’s not a huge problem, it’s not something worth reporting to her manager (it would sound nitpicky at best) but I’m an editor and it’s my job to pay attention to small things.

    Would you remind her again and again? Let it go? How do you feel about people on basically the same level as you “managing” you in some small way? Her overall work is good and she’s a SME in her area, it’s just small things that would make my job a little bit easier, if she caught or fixed them before the file got to me.

    1. edj3*

      We have a QA process for the written materials my team produces. I absolutely expect feedback on errors that are the same across multiple projects. It’s not a good use of your time to just fix them.

      Since you aren’t the manager, you might let your manager know you see the same kinds of errors and inconsistency. Ask for her advice on next steps. If you were bringing these concerns to me, I would be appreciative and would also address the problem.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Thanks. It’s small enough that it feels kind of petty to “pick on” her but what I could do is ask if my fellow editors have noticed it/if they care about it and let the ME handle it from there.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve run into this. Obviously the nuances of the hierarchy and expectations matter, but at this point I think I would assume that a reminder isn’t going to fix this, so it has to be either addressed via process or sucked up by the person who catches it–which is the likes of you and me :-).

          Honestly, even with staff who directly report to me, I don’t necessarily bring up repeated errors more than a couple of times. I do sometimes ask them to create a process that will prevent the errors in future and let me know what they’re planning to do; sometimes I’ll change or add a process to filter.

          But it has been a surprise to me that there are talented and capable writers and editors who don’t have the error alarm in their brain. It’s not that they’re sloppy, it’s that they genuinely don’t alert to deviations from requirements the way I do. So a reminder doesn’t tend to help in a case like that.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      If her work doesn’t meet your specs, it’s not “picking on her” to say “Before I can load this I need you to do a search and replace – remember, we use X, not Y. Thanks.”

      1. ThatGirl*

        True – but some of it is more subjective than that or we have something we’ve generally agreed upon but it’s not written out anywhere. I probably need to pick what battles I’d like to fight and then bring them up to my manager instead.

          1. katamia*

            Seconding this. I had a previous job that was really frustrating because while they did have a comprehensive official style guide, there were also a bunch of rules that weren’t in it–stuff like “We never use X word in this context, only Y word” even though both X and Y were perfectly grammatically acceptable; sometimes X would even be the better choice, but, nope, had to use Y. It was incredibly frustrating and hard to remember even though I made my own separate list of preferred words in various contexts.

          2. Ad Astra*

            Oh, yeah, now that I’m seeing this, I second the idea of setting up an official in-house stylebook. There’s still something to be said for picking your battles, as a lot of style errors are ultimately harmless but annoying. But getting everyone on the same page is really important.

    3. Jennifer*

      I have a similar issue with coworkers and frankly, reminding them over and over again just makes them mad at you/they blow you off, and talking to the supervisor hasn’t helped because while she did talk to them, they continue to make errors over and over and over. It’s literally just easier if I fix them. People who are terrible at proofreading are well….terrible at proofreading. Their brains just suck at it. It’s been three years and I give up.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We have templates but there are ways that writers manipulate them before they send them over to us – she forgets to do some of these basic things, which are meant to make the files easier for us to look at, and also help her catch errors before it’s passed along.

          1. ThatGirl*

            No, it’s hard to explain without getting really technical or detailed, but it’s things the writer (or editor) needs to do, the templates can’t be exported to fit those preferences.

            1. LizB*

              Can any placeholder text in the templates include a reminder to adjust those preferences, so the writer sees that reminder as soon as they open the template to start working?

              1. ThatGirl*

                I’m afraid not. But we do have checklists and so forth that writers can use if they are having trouble keeping things straight.

    4. Kerry*

      I’d work with your editorial coworkers to put together a short list of ‘Good things to check before sending’, and circulate it to all the writers. The other editors may have things that bug the crap out of them, and ‘here’s a list you can go down to make sure you’ve got everything’ may be more effective than ‘Jane, for the fiftieth time, find+replace for hyphens to en-dashes before sending things to us!!’

      1. Ad Astra*

        I like this idea. Writers who are turning in copy that’s mostly clean except for the style things may just be confusing your style with another style they’ve used. I’ve seen people come in with a lot of weird habits that they think are Gospel AP Style (or Chicago or some other standard) when they’re really just a quirky in-house thing they picked up at some other publication. Conscientious writers will appreciate the checklist. Writers who DGAF will eventually make bigger mistakes that will be worth a serious talking to.

    5. Amy*

      There are a few mistakes I have made repeatedly. My web editor would send me an email with “by the way, here are the issues I fixed,” and after seeing the same issue a few times, I made a note to look out for that. Very much the subtle way of doing it.

    6. Mockingjay*

      When you say style issues in file setup, are you referring to document formatting or typos/grammar errors? Does your team use templates for consistent formatting and follow a style guide for writing?

      If formatting, it might be the writer is not using style codes. Or they have a different version of Office/publishing software loaded which can cause compatibility problems. A template in .dotx format (or whatever) might help. Someone can be an excellent content writer but have poor typing/publishing software skills. I’ve had to use Adobe InDesign with no other training than “Google” and “YouTube.” The results weren’t great.

      If proofreading, I know that after 20 years’ experience as a technical writer, I still can’t proof my own work. When I read it, my brain shows me what I said in my head, not what I physically typed. Hence, I always send important documents to Intrepid Colleague for QC/proofing.

      Also, you mention that the writer is in another state. She may not have anyone to assist her. In that case, it could be expected that the QC team perform the proofing.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We use Excel templates which are exported from a database, new information is added, extraneous information is deleted, and then I QC it and import it.

        Things she’s missing range from not checking for duplicates (which would be done via an easy sort) to not deleting extra rows she knows I won’t need.

        We do proofread along with QC – but these are simple things that are generally expected of the writers, and we are the backup for that.

        It’s not really a matter of not having anyone to assist her – the writers complete their tasks and pass the files along to us. We don’t expect perfection or for anyone to catch every typo, that’s why we’re here.

    7. Kat M*

      Is this person a freelancer? Maybe they’re having a hard time keeping different guidelines for different clients straight.

      I write as part of a team sometimes. I expect small corrections like this from people who aren’t my manager, and they expect the same courtesy from me. (Since I’m the local grammar police, they LOVE catching me in a mistake. It’s all good-natured.) That being said, if a peer told me we needed to use a certain standard format and I confirmed it with the manager, I’d switch over and ASK that they remind me if I forgot and goofed after that. The point is to put out good work.

      1. ThatGirl*

        No, she’s been with the company longer than I have, actually. And she focuses all of her work on one part of the company (all of our writers specialize to a degree) so that’s definitely not it — although I will give you (her) that standards have changed on her several times in the past five years. But the ones we’re working with now have been in place for going on two years. And we have checklists and so forth.

        We are all pretty good natured about correcting each other on little things, but I did decide to bring these things up to my manager, and she can in turn tell the other employee’s manager, etc.

        1. Artemesia*

          I’d send the first draft you get back with the guidelines and ask her to make the corrections and re-submit. Make it her problem a few times and you may see fewer errors. It is only petty when it is a one off — when it happens repeatedly, it is a problem.

          1. Trillian*

            Agree. OP: Send it back, and convey your expectation that she will set up a process to catch these errors. Some tasks require precision, and for most of us precision is a matter of system and attention.

            While you are distracted by a dirty copy and taking time to document corrections, you are not able to give attention to the details that you should be reviewing. You do not want to do your job less well than you can because she is not doing hers.

    8. TootsNYC*

      I have a job much like yours.

      One reason I have that job is because other people don’t remember it’s “OK” instead of “okay.” So I don’t really ask them to do my job for me. I might offer them the tools they need if they’re interested in it.

      So I wouldn’t really remind someone again and again. For one thing, it’s not working.
      But also because some of that is -your- job.
      I don’t know what you’re specifically talking about–maybe it’s actually fair to consider some of that HER job. But I’d be alert for the distinction.

      Here’s what I do: I look for ways I can automate stuff like that–give them templates to use, or make myself a checklist so that I can fix their omissions rapidly, etc.

      And I check w/ their boss and my colleagues (or y boss) to say, “Is it fair to insist they do that?”

      But some people are just never going to. And as long as the “spare brain power” is being used to do their core job, it’s fine w/ me.
      I want my editors & writers to spend their mental energy on stuff like getting the right source; organizing the material, writing engagingly.
      Labeling their files with exactly the right format? I can do that for them.

  11. Ruby Tuesday*

    Maybe everyone here at the AAM can help me out – I am beating my head against a wall. I have been working on contract for the last few years and everytime I think I am making significant strides, my contract comes to end and I have to slide back into a lateral position to restart the process all over again. This has happened like 3 times and I feel like I’m not gaining any momentum on progressing my career. It is definitely impact my self-esteem and I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly where I’m going wrong. I get great bi-annual reviews and then it ends with a “thanks for everything, see you around….maybe”. Any thoughts….anyone?

    1. Oy*

      I would love some feedback on this too; I’m in the same boat… 30 years old with barely any career progression because the last 5 years have all been longer-term temp jobs in which I haven’t been hired in the end.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always bee where you’ve always been.” -Scott Q. Marcus.

      Try for something different. Easier said then done I know. But start looking at other opportunities. Things you think are a stretch even.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If you want to stay with this company/group then change one smaller thing. My suggestion would be to ask what you can do to get where you want to be. If the person you report to is of minimal or no help, then look around for someone else. Try to pick someone with experience and stability who is respected AND seems to like you. Ask them what they think you could do.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I think it is a sign of the times – and it is completely impersonal. You are doing nothing wrong.

      For the last 6 years, I have been on yearly federal contracts. Most times I make the cut from one contract to the next, but not always. I have been laid off and furloughed, and my salary has decreased in the last 4 years.

      My fellow contractors and I concluded that we now have jobs, not careers. I am trying to break out of federal work into private industry, but I am competing with all the other contractors doing the same thing. It will take time.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        I have been temping for over 5 years, except for a couple of horribly dysfunctional “perm” jobs that ended fast. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve been branded as The Temp forever. There’s some possibility that my current job might go perm, but if it doesn’t I’ll keep looking to my freelance side work for real professional satisfaction and continuity.

    4. A.J.*

      Ugh. I sympathize with this so much right now. I am in a very contract-heavy part of the IT field, where it seems like 90% of jobs are contracts at large tech companies that are hard to get into full time, and I am struggling with this exact issue right now as I am just starting my 3rd contract. I have a few ideas that I am currently trying out myself.
      Perhaps you could ask your supervisors for more challenging tasks– something that will really help you stand out in your team and help you get noticed by others? Develop some specific skills or contribute in some way that would be very difficult to replace? Essentially you need to try and become irreplaceable, so that if you were to leave your job, your team/managers might wonder how they will ever get by without you because they know that none of the other contractors out there can fill your shoes. If none of these are feasible, then perhaps there is some sort of tangentially related field that you could switch to?
      I had a great contract role for the last 2 years, was promised to be converted, and then during the last month of my contract the company decided that the division I was in would not get any headcount for the next few years. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t ever take another contract, but of course after being unemployed for 6 months I had no choice. I hate my new role– it is such a step backwards, and I can feel all of the skills I built up over the past few years just evaporating (and I’m too exhausted/discouraged to keep working on them outside of work). It really is a crappy situation to be stuck in.

  12. Subban*

    I was recently promoted and moving to a different department (woohoo!). I’m now in charge of hiring my replacement. Should I include my more senior direct reports in the interview process (there are two of them)? Good or bad idea?

    1. edj3*

      I just concluded a hiring process and absolutely included a senior member of my team (also included others but that’s the question you were asking). Since you’re new, your senior people can bring some historical perspective and look for things that you might not think of since you’re new to the role and the department.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t know if I’m reading this correctly – you want to include your direct reports from your new dept? That seems pointless. But if you mean people from your former dept., then yes, of course you should. They are the ones who are going to have to work with the person every day. Their opinions are important and should carry a lot of weight in your decision.
      Our last EVP never included anyone else in the hiring process and it infuriated the sr. managers in his division. We realized it was because he was hiring under-qualified friends. They were all disasters (everyone he hired on his own has since been let go, including the EVP himself).

  13. oleander*

    Hi Everyone, long-time lurker here. I’m looking for feedback from folks who have successfully handled a compensation negotiation that had multiple components, folks who work at universities, or both. Or anyone else who has an opinion!

    I recently had a campus interview for a job in a library at large, well-funded public university. I think I have a pretty good chance of getting an offer, and in the event, I want to be ready for negotiations. Thanks to the advice on AMA and a previous experience negotiating salary, I feel pretty good about a simple back-and-forth salary negotiation. However, in this case, there are a few other compensation factors I’m interested in including salary. My conundrum is how to manage a negotiation that includes a whole package of compensation factors.

    Here’s a list of the things I WOULD LIKE. I know that I probably won’t get them all, but this is the best case scenario.
    1) A salary on the higher end of the stated range. The range they gave me (and was published in the job posting) is over $10K. A current employee in the same role makes the very top of the range.
    2) A reasonably paying job for my partner (not as a PT adjunct), who is a Ph.D. with a good record of research and teaching. The library’s HR person told me that the university has no official partner/spousal-hire policy, but she knows how important the issue is, and if they were to make me an offer, she would ask for my partner’s CV and immediately shop it around to the provost and various academic departments.
    3) For my tuition benefit to kick in early. They offer $2K per year for tuition reimbursements, but only after your first year of employment. I’m the second half of an MLIS program that can be completed online, and I don’t want to take a break from courses. (Obviously the MLIS is directly related to the job, and they like the fact that I’m working on one, since the position is a technical one for which it can be hard to find MLISes.)
    4) Moving expenses. The new place is 900 miles away from my current place. According to the university website, granting moving expenses to new hires is at the discretion of the individual units, but not to exceed $15000 (ha! I’m sure I won’t be getting that much, though it’s dreamy to think of just hiring out the entire packing and moving experience!)

    What I don’t want to do is lay out all these requests and come across like that Nazareth professor candidate a few years ago who listed a whole slate of requests in an email, and then had her offer rescinded. I want to make it clear that I see the whole thing as a package…for example: if my partner gets a job there, all the other items are relatively unimportant. Or if they give me a great moving budget, then I can wait for the tuition benefit. The whole picture is what matters.

    I need help with specific language and tactics though — during the negotiation, I don’t want to agree to one component and then have them come back with a low offer on another component that puts the first component in a different light. For example, I’m assuming that finding out whether they will be able to do a partner hire will take some time. I don’t want to get surprised into accepting a salary/benefits before they’ve given me an answer on the partner. Or, if they offer me a particular salary/benefits package, I want to make it clear that one OR another component needs to be raised, but I’m not necessarily demanding that ALL the componenets need to be raised. It just all seems like a more delicate dance that a straightforward salary negotiation.

    Do you know what I mean? Have any of you done a successful negotiation like this before? Any tips, tricks, or language you would suggest?

    1. Artemesia*

      Academic jobs for PhDs are scarce and you would have to be someone they felt they couldn’t do without for them to find a job for our spouse on the faculty. Occasionally it is done for a faculty spouse, often with a courtesy (non tenure track) appointment; rarely a tenure track appointment. Usually people who get that consideration are prominent researchers who make a lot of rain or very important top management hires. If the position you hope for for your spouse is not academic, you might fare better.

      1. oleander*

        Oh yes, it was nowhere near my imagination that my partner would be offered a tenure-track job. More like an instructor/lecturer, or some type of program specialist.

        1. oleander*

          Also, the HR person I spoke with at the end of my 24-hour campus visit asked if there were any major considerations for me, should I be offered the job. I explained about my partner, and she did indicated that such an appointment was not out of the question. Nowhere near a surety, of course, but also not off the table.

          1. NL*

            Eh, I would take that with a grain of salt. I’m professional staff at a public research university, and I can see HR saying something like that while having no real knowledge re faculty hiring. Like the others, I have never heard of full-time employment for the spouse of someone who is not faculty or high up in administration (e.g. provost).

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Was just going to say that. I’ve never heard of university staff (not faculty) successfully bringing along a “trailing spouse.”

        1. Blue Anne*

          It can happen. My father was a very prestigious criminologist; my mother is a less prestigious but still very well respected criminologist.

          People were always knocking on the door with professorships for Dad (usually distinguished, once he thought very hard about taking a job as president of the school, so it might be a “when you are at X freakishly high level” thing) and more often than not they offered to also put my mom on the faculty, with tenure, as she already had it where she was.

          It drove her absolutely NUTS, as you can imagine.

          1. fposte*

            Victoria is talking about a situation where your father is being hired as staff, though, not as a professor.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Right. Top faculty sometimes have this kind of juice, but it’s hard to imagine a “regular” staff person negotiating the same.

        2. Miki*

          Oh it can happen, librarians where I work (I’m staff) are considered AP= faculty, and one had his spouse hired just like this.

          1. fposte*

            But that’s *not* it happening–that’s the point. You’re talking about somebody hired as faculty who had a provision for a trailing spouse. That’s common. The OP isn’t getting hired as faculty.

          2. The Strand*

            I think what Miki is referring to is the quasi-faculty status that librarians and a few other roles (coaches, some learning professionals) have in many universities. They are not faculty, and not administrators, but at some schools they are given certain perks that would never be given to rank and file staff members. Which is why her librarian coworker was given an opportunity to bring a trailing spouse.

            1. fposte*

              No, Miki’s talking not about quasi-faculty but actual faculty; that’s pretty common for high-tier librarians at big universities. It’s mostly outside the university that “faculty” means the same thing as “person who does teaching”; inside the university, that’s not really the correlation. Different funding will be available, it may be on a different budget line than non-faculty staff, etc., etc.

              I don’t know whether coaches have faculty status too; that’s a world I’m not very familiar with. But for librarians, it’s genuine faculty status.

                1. fposte*

                  Right, so you don’t have the faculty-level pull, unfortunately. Ours have had some spousal hire muscle, but they’re faculty.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, if you have some kind of special leverage, all bets are off–the department may consider it worth funding the spouse as if the hire were faculty, or even just calling in favors (there’s definitely some horse-trading involved with partner placement). But, as you say, you have to be in pretty high demand for that to work. And it’s kind of like a seesaw–the farther down you get, the likelier you are to bring things crashing to the ground by insisting. It’s valuable to have an idea of which side of the fulcrum you’re on.

          1. Anxa*

            Thought I’d leave this comment here, though it’s obviously not a response to your reply:

            You don’t specify what your job will be (which is totally understandable), but without any context it seems like you’ve been hired for a pretty standard staff position. Is there anything you are bringing to the job that no local applicants could bring?

            Maybe I could see that.

            But at the schools I work, faculty don’t even get moving expenses paid for, and they’re often relocating pretty often without a lot of pay.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Moving expenses are pretty par for the course, though. At my university, new permanent (non-visiting) faculty (not sure about staff) are automatically guaranteed moving expenses of up to 10% of their starting salary (and by “up to”, I mean that they have to submit receipts; any valid moving expense not in excess of 10% is covered).

      3. Anon for One Comment*

        “Usually people who get that consideration are prominent researchers who make a lot of rain or very important top management hires.”

        I have seen one very prominent researcher successfully have his former Ph.D. student / current girlfriend hired into a tenure-track position in the same department as him. Her office is right next door to his. It took me awhile after being hired to figure out why their professional relationship seemed a little strange to me. It is not generally discussed that they are in a personal relationship, so nobody told me when I was hired. I finally had to ask somebody what in the world was going on with them, and finally the person I asked answered, “Oh, you mean the thing that everyone knows and noone talks about?”

    2. oleander*

      Thanks, all — I realize that the partner-hire is a long shot. My bigger question is about how to conduct a negotiation with several factors in play. Let’s say the HR person says (with not real knowledge if partner hire is possible or not, like NL says) that she’s looking into possible partner hires, and meanwhile let’s work out your salary and side benefits. What’s a graceful way to say, “Let’s wait until you have an answer on the partner hire because the answer to that totally changes what I’m willing to accept for salary and benefits.”?

      1. fposte*

        Honestly, in your situation, I don’t think you can unless you’re a bigger cheese than you’re sounding right now. They don’t have control over the hire. The relevant department may not firm up the hire until next August. I could be wrong, because heaven knows universities are weird and variable, but I think it’s going to be really tough to make this an official contingency and remain viable for the job.

      2. NL*

        I agree with fposte 100%. I think you need to assume that the partner hire isn’t happening and negotiate for the salary & benefits you would accept without that.

        1. Anxa*

          Especially if the partner has a PhD, they may have a pretty specific area of expertise. Without any background information, it would seem like a library job would be more geographically flexibile and traditionally be the trailing position, since they don’t seem interested in having the spouse work part-time or as an adjunct.

      3. Mimi*

        That’s likely exactly what he/she will say. Without a dual-career partner program in place, it could take longer for them to find something for your spouse.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Even with a dual-career partner program in place, there is still no guarantee that they will find something that suits your spouse. Our dual-career network is just that: a network that gives preference to trailing spouses, but doesn’t promise that there will be a suitable job available for them.

      4. College Career Counselor*

        I don’t think you’re liable to get a quick answer one way or the other on the partner hire, as in my opinion and experience that’s completely dependent the department or unit in question, not HR. I would negotiate on the basis of everything BUT the spousal hire, as that’s the least likely and the most complicated scenario.

      5. BRR*

        My thought is if you do it, do it over the phone and prioritize. Start with your top one and move down. If you get one or one and two, leave three and four alone.

        But really I think these are four big things and I’m not sure how senior this position is and how much competition there is since it’s for a library position. Educated guess that if you don’t have an MLIS, it’s lower level and there might be scores of other candidates who already have this degree. You’re smart to not want to bring them all up at once.
        Salary: Negotiate based on Alison’s salary negotiation post. Prioritize this because it’s long lasting.
        Partner job: I’m leaning towards letting this go. It’s really not a typical staff perk (only faculty) and if the university doesn’t have something in place, it doesn’t sound like a priority for them. Also it sounds like you’re aiming a little high with their position than most partner hires come in on.
        Tuition: My experience is this is a pretty rigid policy, employers usually want to make sure you don’t just take the money and run.
        Relocation expenses: I would just ask “Is this position eligible for relocation expenses?” Have a specific number you’re seeking but you might not even be eligible.

        Good luck!

        1. oleander*

          The role does not require an MLIS, and most of the people on this particular team do not actually one, and neither does the head of the team, who does have a Ph.D. Rather, the role requires technical skills that I have and are in demand, and I also have a Master’s that field; it’s somewhat rare for someone with an MLIS to have those skills. So the fact that I’m halfway through an MLIS and have experience in a library is big plus. The position is not senior in the sense of managerial, but it is a job for which I don’t believe there are hordes of qualified applicants.

          1. fposte*

            That’s why I think the MLIS is the most saleable; it’s good for them. The rest of it, not so much.

    3. GigglyPuff*

      For relocation expenses, I’d recommend, not ball-parking it, but laying down a specific number. Specific numbers look like you’ve put a lot of work into figuring it out, I mean if you haven’t yet, that it is clearly important to you. That is what my last manager at my library university job told me, who successfully negotiated relocation expenses. So no whole numbers.

    4. fposte*

      Hmm, complicated and interesting question! The higher the level you’re being hired for, the more leverage you have. From what you’re describing, I’d guess you’re not at that high a level (you don’t have an MLIS and you’re not being given faculty status), so your leverage is limited. That doesn’t mean you can’t lever at all, just that you want to be judicious and pragmatic. First, I’d crunch some numbers. How much will it cost you to pay for the rest of the MLIS yourself (your phraseology sounds a little like you might quit the program if you don’t get reimbursement–that’s not true, is it)? How much will moving cost you if you pay for it yourself? How much additional salary would you be requesting? (It’s almost always a better deal to get salary sweetened than finite reimbursements, given a choice.)

      I think the tuition reimbursement is a sexier sell, given the situation; relocation is a judgment call based on your value there and their practice. (If you have a chance just to ask HR about library practice on relocation reimbursement outside of the offer, do it.) That’s the one I’d lop off the quickest, but that doesn’t mean I’d dump it for sure.

      I personally lean more toward starting with a discussion of possibilities rather than outright negotiation of an offer. I’d ask for a phone call. I think there could be room in such a discussion to say “Look, I’m interested in $Xk, but I could see accepting $Xk minus [whatever] lower if tuition reimbursement happened up front and I got some relocation costs.” That’s quite possibly a better deal for them.

      The spousal situation doesn’t look good to me, IMHO. In general, for a trailing faculty spouse, it’s the originating department that covers the spousal hire–IOW, it would be the library paying for your SO in chemistry or wherever. Since you’re not faculty, I don’t think the library is going to do this for you; they’re just going to see if chemistry or wherever can fit your spouse in, and they may have no particular leverage with that department. So it sounds like there’s not going to be a commitment, just an attempt. Are you okay with that? If it fails, will you still be all right with this job?

      1. oleander*

        “Discussion of possibilities” seems like a great way to frame it. First feel that out, and then be in a better position to pull on whatever leverage I have.

      2. finman*

        I wouldn’t lower your salary expectations in order to get tuition. Tuition is very temporary, starting salary will affect every future change in pay. If they won’t cover tuition (because they only cover classes at their own institution, etc or because their policy is 1 year, no exceptions), try to get the same tuition money as a sign-on bonus instead. That worked for me.

        1. Anxa*

          Also, I’ve heard so many horror stories about the hoop-jumping and rug-pulling that can happen with tuition benefits.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m not in academia, but I’d say to drop #2, because it’s a one-time expense that you can easily pay for yourself if you get even one of the other benefits that you’ve listed. Adding that on might reduce the chances of getting one or more of the other three, so it just seems to me that the numbers are more in your favor if you concentrate on the other three.

    6. K*

      I would start with your biggest and most important ask. If they say no to your biggest ask, then by comparison the next smaller ask will seem reasonable and they are more likely to do it. So I would ask them in order of importance. Depending on how many you have I would have your biggest two or three ready, in order of importance, and then your backup request if any of those are shot down. I doubt the tuition benefit would be a big deal and is a relatively minor ask. I’d do Salary, moving expenses, spouse. I know spouse is important, but if they can’t give you an answer immediately better to have them agree to numbers you’re happy with on the others early in the conversation.

    7. Liza*

      On tuition reimbursement: The university I used to work at offered tuition reimbursement in the form of free or discounted tuition for classes taken at the university itself, but no reimbursement for classes taken at other schools. It would be a good idea to check the terms of the tuition reimbursement before you accept the offer!

      My one other piece of advice is to try to frame your statements/requests/negotiation using language about what you’re worth, not what you’re willing to accept. Saying “I believe I bring skills worth $___” comes across much better than “I’m not willing to accept less than $___” even when the number you’re naming is identical.

    8. DL*

      It’s key here that you’re talking about a public university.

      Salary is by far your top concern. Universities often don’t have raises that even keep pace with inflation. Plus if you’re promoted, their may be a cap on what the salary increase can be (10-15%).

      Benefits plans are often system- or state-wide, so getting an exception on a standard benefit like tuition remission may just not be possible. Plus the program may only be for courses within the university system.

      Moving expenses is most likely the easiest thing to come by because it is a one-time expense. But be sure to check their policies here too so you’re not surprised by what is/isn’t reimbursable (e.g. paying for a car to be shipped).

      I also recommend inquiring if the librarian position is a non-tenure track faculty appointment or not. If not, could it be? Faculty appointments are more prestigious career-wise and sometimes come with a better benefits package.

      1. fposte*

        That’s a really big change to the position status, though, so it’s quite likely out of line as part of the negotiation for the start conditions.

      2. oleander*

        It’s a good point about salary. Staff at my current university haven’t seen even tiny raises for years.

    9. oleander*

      Unfortunately, this is a library where all staff are staff, and none are tenured/tenure-track faculty.
      Also, in the group where I would be working, there are many non-MLISes, including the direct manager of the position. I have some technical skills that are in demand, and an MLIS was not a requirement of the job, though it’s seen as a nice bonus.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Having been through this myself.

        Salary is the most important. If the salaries are published and you are in IT . Ask for the top range. . If they plead salary compression, calmly note that in your experience there may have to be a reevaluation of other salaries but your number is competitive. Also…look what assistant professors are earning at the school. Put your ask in that range even if the library salaries skew lower. It is not unreasonable for them to pay moving expenses equal to one months pay. Cost what the move would take and ask for that specific number.
        I am doubtful about the spousal hire but the university might be able to provide a desk. And resources for a job hunt. Also …plane tickets and expenses for a site visit to look for housing.
        Not sure about tuition reimbursement. It is a categorical no where I am but there are often continuing Ed grants. You might be eligible for those for your MLS

    10. Renny90*

      Are you being hired for a faculty or staff position? I work in a top university in the faculty affairs office and all of these perks that you’re seeking would almost exclusively be offered to new faculty hires – not staff (with the exception of #1) . If you are being considered for a staff position, I’m not optimistic that you will be able to get #2-3.

    11. ModernHypatia*

      Coming in late, but former academic librarian here.

      #1 : Possible, but make sure you’re comparing apples and apples – it’s not just ‘someone in the same position is making X’ but how your experience lines up with theirs (and that can be hard to find out.) With public salary data, you can say “I noticed that X, who is in Y role, is listed at Z salary, and I think my experience is comparable for these reasons.” but you may need to give some justification. Definitely don’t give up salary for other things.

      #2 : Not the one I’d count on at all: I think the best you can hope is some help from HR identifying if there are any positions that are relevant.

      #3 and #4: I think you might be likely to get one, but not both. I got a small relocation allowance ($1000) from a small public university campus 4 years ago: they named the number, made it clear they couldn’t go higher. It wasn’t enough for any kind of fancy moving, but it did more or less cover my costs otherwise for driving half way across the country, mailing books, and hotels for the 2 days of driving, which wasn’t nothing.

      One other thing that might help you out: that university had an arrangement with a credit union for university employees where you could get a 3 month interest free loan (I think up to a full month’s salary?) if you were starting work at the university – that was enough to give people some bridging time for changes in pay schedule, some moving costs, etc.

  14. Socksberg*

    I’m job hunting for the first time in years, and I have about 6 phone screener/interviews in the next week for jobs I’m excited about, but I’m also expecting one or two offers in the next week or two from jobs I’m further along with. Do I take an offer for a reasonably ok job if it comes sooner, or hold out for a job that I’m more excited about but may not ever get an offer for? Complicating the matter is that there are some shakeups at my current job that I don’t want to stick around for coming in the next few months (new manager, re-organization, etc).

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      I don’t have any input, but I’m in a similar situation and am curious about what others think.

    2. Quirk*

      Generally I try to hold offers open as long as possible and slide from one to the other in a series of upgrades. If you’re in sufficient demand to obtain multiple offers, it’s fairly likely that companies won’t be overly keen to give up on you just because you’re dragging your heels about saying yes.

      It can be awkward if an interesting job offer is going stale before you hear back from the guys you really want to work for – it is a gamble in that situation, and there’s definitely the potential to get stuck with a fallback job that’s less fun. I think you have to go with your gut in that situation.

      1. Quirk*

        To personalise a bit further:

        Last time I changed jobs, I started by securing an offer for a pretty interesting job (software development with a side order of product management) with a company that made 3d-scanning sonar devices for ocean bed mapping. Cool stuff, lots of rendering pretty pictures, and the people involved seemed genuinely nice. Their software tools were however seriously out of date, the money was okay but not great, and while it was a reasonable option I kept looking.

        I then got an offer for more money at a startup that had suffered sudden unexpected success and badly needed a strong senior engineer to organise a messed up code base and take charge of it. I was less enamored with the people running it, and it looked a higher-stress role.

        Through all of this I had been chasing a sexy and very lucrative contract role – redesigning and rewriting the trading engine for the stockbrokers of a major bank. I had had a good interview but hadn’t heard back by the time I’d run out of reasonable excuses to delay the first offer further. I didn’t really want to take the second offer, but I desperately wanted the contract role, as much for the CV impact as the money, and so I took the gamble. It paid off, and the contract role has been great fun. If it hadn’t, I’d probably have sighed and accepted the second offer rather than start from scratch again.

        I have quite a high appetite for risk, and am good with making peace with myself if things don’t work out. If you are similar, gambling is plausibly a good option; if you find you’re prone to regret decisions that went sour, it may not be.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Also, if you have what feels like a final-round interview at one of those 6 places and you get an offer or two from the others, and you decide it’s best to accept the offer you have, you can always reach out to the place you don’t have an offer from, explain you have another offer, and ask how close their timeline is. Alison has given wording for this in the past – I don’t remember it so I don’t have the good phrasing here. :)

      But that’s probably going to effectively withdraw your application if they *can’t* speed their timeline up; they’ll tell you that and wish you luck. So make sure that if they can’t speed it up, you do want to accept the offer-in-hand and give up on the place that’s still thinking about it, before you do that.

      1. KimmieSue*

        Very good advice Kyrielle. When an offer is received, completely normal to reach out to companies who you are still interviewing with and let them know. Most recruiters & hiring managers would do their best to accommodate a faster track with candidates that are highly competitive.

  15. Blue Anne*

    I started a new job two weeks ago, and a new manager for my team started this Monday.

    She’s kind of driving me a little bit nutso already. We’re at a smaller accounting firm and she clearly knows her accounting inside out and is a very nice person, but she’s TERRIBLE with computers and waves it off as “oh that’s fine for a woman of my age”, she has a habit of giving long-winded explanations of really basic things for no particular reason (including on computer things, and her explanations make it clear she doesn’t really understand what she’s talking about), she makes “oh us girls” comments like it’s her job…

    Yesterday I was having some trouble getting a balance sheet to balance, and she said “Oh, well you may not be able to get the numbers to balance, but you’re excellent at typing!” Gee, thanks.

    She’s genuinely very friendly and doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in her body, but I think it’s going to be tough for me to work with a manager who apparently thinks I’m a 12 year old girl from the 1960s.

    1. LisaLee*

      I don’t have any advice, but you’ve certainly got my sympathy. I had a string of older bosses who framed their decision to not learn the necessary computer skills for our job as “Well, they didn’t have those when I was young!” and it drove me nuts, since clearly many older people DO have these skills.

      Perhaps the next time she struggles with a computer task you can say something like, “Oh, it’s not as hard as it looks! Here, let me show you!” This is a little more difficult since she’s your manager, but maybe she’ll take you up on it.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I work with about four of this type. It used to infuriate me but the technical stuff eventually fell to me and now my jobs way more valuable than theirs.

    2. Brandy in TN*

      My moms in her 60’s and teaches me stuff on the computer. Shes very proud of her accomplishments on the computer. Younger coworkers push back on stuff and she trains them. Its amazing how poor my parents grew up and now they have smart phones and all over the computer.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s going to take her a while to make some adjustments, but I think you can help guide her there. It will be a commitment of time, though. I have seen what MEAN looks like and of the two, I would rather have a boss like yours. It seems to me you mentioned having some nasty bosses, too? Not sure.

      Instead of responding to the “woman my age” line, I would just talk about the situation immediately at hand. “Of course, you can learn to copy/paste, Myrtle. Here, I will help you.” And randomly show her things from time to time. A technique like this could take a year, maybe longer. If you like everything else about the job, it might be worth it to you.

  16. Ahhhhh vent*

    I’m at BEC stage with my coworker. We’re in a satellite office and we work together all day, every day. There are others in the office, but they sit far away from us. Everyone else is remote. So we are together All. The. Time. With no one else as a buffer. I really like and respect her and do genuinely enjoy talking with her daily. However, some of her questions are starting to drive me nuts.

    Every day she asks me if I brought lunch. I bring lunch about once a month, so I don’t know why she keeps asking me. She also asks me where I am going to go get food every day and the answer is always the same. There are not a lot of choices around here. She asks if I ate it all or why I didn’t finish my soda and if I don’t save it for the next day she points it out.

    Every Monday (and every day) she asks what I did over the weekend/last night. Which in and of itself is fine, but if I don’t give her a suitably long answer and simply say “not much”, “same old, same old”, etc. it cascades into a slew of follow up questions. I usually stay home, play with my kid, hang out with my husband, cook and watch tv. There isn’t anything to report on.

    Sometimes I go run errands on my lunch break or have to leave right at 5 pm and she always asks “where are you going?”. When I say “to run an errand” she asks “what for?”, “can’t you do that on the weekend?”, “why can’t husband do it?”. I literally can’t leave my desk to do something without her asking what I’m doing. If I go away for the weekend I can’t simply say I went to visit a friend. She asks what we did, how it was, what else did you do, what else, what else? And she just presses if I’m not wordy enough.

    If I’m not very talkative and give short answers I get “what’s wrong?”. She asks me that at least 3 times a week. Nothing is wrong. I just don’t have a long winded answer to her questions. When I say nothing is wrong she asks why I’m not talking much. If I tell her I’m busy, she asks what I am working on. When I tell her what I am working on, she asks what it’s about or if it has to do with X project. Occasionally she asks to see what I’m doing and she offers advice I didn’t ask for.

    And it just goes on and on. She comments on how slow of an eater I am, that I pee too much, that I seem stressed because I had an acne break out. In fact, she actually tells me to not stress so much and points out acne!!

    The biggest issue is that despite her insistence that she doesn’t take criticism personally, any negative thing I say is taken the wrong way. She gets offended, says she “didn’t mean it like that” and I don’t even know what she’s implying she meant.

    I’m going to be working with her like this for years. Since it is imperative I maintain a positive work relationship with her I am not entirely positive what to say to her. I just don’t know what to say to her to get this constant questioning to stop. This is more of a vent than anything. But if anyone has advice I’d take it.

      1. Liza*

        I think I like that. “Why do you ask?” and a smile, so you’re not making it confrontational, just redirecting her question.

    1. Socksberg*

      This would drive me nuts. Since you said you enjoy talking with her sometimes, can you informally schedule ‘catch up’ time with her where you guys chat for 15 minutes over coffee and then the rest of the day is focused on work? That way you only have to deal with her questions during that time. The rest of the time you can put in earplugs and if she tries to strike up conversation, you can say you are focusing on work. No idea how to stop the invasive and inappropriate comments without damaging the relationship though.

      1. Canadian Jen*

        Ditto the scheduled catch up time. I’ve had work friends where I cut the morning conversation short with “I’d love to catch up now, but I have pressing work. Can we have lunch today?” It was always well received, and it tended to cut down on chit chat for a week or more.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      I understand your frustration. I too work in an office with only one other person, and while I don’t experience your level of banality, I experience those unanswerable follow-up questions. The type where, if I had had that information, I would have given it to you when I told you the story. They drive me mad and are definitely the situations where I either clam up and ignore, or become a bit snappy.

      1. Ashley (in PA)*

        B**** Eating Crackers

        “Once you hate someone, everything they do is offensive. ‘Look at this bitch eating those crackers like she owns the place.’”

        1. Yetanotherjennifer*

          You mean like breathing? Yeah, I’ve been there. I’d been thinking that the speaker was the bec, not the other person.

      2. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I can tell you it stands for bitch eating crackers, but I’m a bit fuzzier on the meaning.

      3. TheLazyB (uk)*

        Bitch eating crackers. It’s when you get irrationally annoyed by someone about ridiculous things

      4. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Bitch Eating Crackers. Basically, the stage at which someone can just walk into a room and already you want to punch them, even if they haven’t immediately done something punch-worthy.

    3. Maybe Tomorrow*

      “I dont know if you realize this, but you come across like a nagging mom.”

      She’ll get butthurt and pout, but she will probably stop.

      Or do it back to her for a week or so.

    4. Argh!*

      Sounds like she’s an extrovert & you’re an introvert. Extroverts aren’t very sensitive to introverts unless we spell it out for them. They worry about what’s wrong if there isn’t constant incoming information from us and that’s where the constant questions come from. They also feel uncomfortable with silence in general. They drive us crazy!

      We also drive them crazy because we don’t give them what they want. You need to negotiate that you will supply them with information and emotional connection up to a point and she will supply you with silence and distance in the same amount.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I agree. This woman is a jackass. Pointing out acne breakouts???? She sucks. I wish I had advice, but the only thing I can think of is to ask to move, which probably isn’t possible. Or you could try calling her out: “Mary, you ask me the same thing every day. Nothing’s different today. Tell you what– when something’s really different, I’ll let you know.” It sounds hostile to me, but if I were you, I’d be feeling pretty hostile at this stage.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I like this answer. This would drive me batsh!t insane. I can’t even stand answering the same questions at blood donation every 56 days–nothing has changed; nothing ever changes. I can’t imagine someone asking me every damn day!!

            1. Merry and Bright*

              My unit always asks me for my blood group but I don’t know why! I mean, they have an official test record and it will never change.

              One of Life’s Little Mysteries.

              1. Lily in NYC*

                I got that question all the time when I lived in Taiwan and was always like ??????. I found out much later that in some cultures blood types are kind of used like horoscopes to predict things or say things about your personality.

              2. Lily in NYC*

                Oh, oops, do you mean you are asked that when you donate blood? I thought you meant your coworkers were asking randomly.

          2. Lee Ann*

            “Mary, you ask me the same thing every day. Nothing’s different today.”

            Reminds me of “Same thing we do every day, Pinky – try to take over the world.” :)

        2. Ad Astra*

          Yeah, this is what happens when you take a hypersensitive, insecure extrovert and put her alone in a room with an introvert. Any extravert would feel the need to make conversation, sometimes at the risk of filling dead air instead of just shutting up, though plenty of extroverts have found a way to rein that habit in. The “What’s wrong?” and “You’re too stressed!” stuff sounds like a different problem — this is someone who really seems to need OP’s approval and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s generally lonely or has some real deficiencies in her social skills.

      1. CheeryO*

        I really disagree. I work with plenty of extreme extroverts, and they don’t comment on my urination schedule or point out acne or repeatedly ask if something is wrong if I don’t describe my weekend in great detail.

    5. Tomato Frog*

      I think you need to accept that you’re going to offend her, and that that’s okay. When she gets upset, you can say “I know you didn’t mean it that way, but I still prefer you not say that/do that” or “but I still find it distracting.” She sounds maddening and maybe you’ll be happier if you alienate her a little.

    6. vickyjs*

      I had a coworker who would ask every day – How was your lunch? How was your break? On mondays it would be how was your weekend? I always said “Fine”. One day she said “One day it won’t be fine and then you’ll tell me all about it!” Of course, that just strengthened my resolve to keep saying fine. Fortunately, she was a short term employee.

    7. Ad Astra*

      Most of this would annoy me too. Is there any chance you can have the people who sit farther away moved to your area to create a buffer? Is there some sort of collaboration or get-of-your-rut or consolidating space or some other reasoning to support that request?

      You can’t do much to help her not take things personally, but you can give yourself mental permission to not care about her unreasonable reactions to your reasonable behavior. It’s not that you shouldn’t care about her feelings at all, obviously, but you should release yourself from feeling responsible for her feelings. Remind yourself that it’s not your problem if she thinks you’re mad at her because you failed to provide a 15-minute narrative of your Wednesday night.

    8. CaliCali*

      It seems really obvious to me that she wants you to ask her to do things. She’s asking if you brought lunch because she wants you to ask her to go to lunch with you. She’s asking about post-work activities because she wants you to ask about getting drinks/going and doing something together. She’s asking about the weekend because she wants you to suggest some plans. The problem is that she’s not willing to put HERSELF out there and directly ask you to do anything, since that runs the risk of rejection. She sounds very annoying, but also very lonely (she may have come from a more social work environment before).

      I think, to maintain a good working relationship, you bite the bullet and extend an invite every now and then, and do it before she starts interrogation time. Before lunch time, you say “Hey, want to grab lunch at (X place)?” or maybe once a month, get drinks after work. I honestly think it’ll go a long way toward stopping the endless questions, because she will be (minimally) involved in your life, achieving the goal of what all those questions are getting at.

      1. Just Friends Thanks!*

        There’s a guy I know – not so much friends as we have mutual friends – and I know he wants to date me. But he won’t just come out and ask; it’s like you describe: “oh, have you seen the latest Star Wars movie?” hoping for a “no” so he can move on to “we can go see it together”. But until he actually straight-up asks, I can’t actually turn him down! When it sounds like the sort of casual “hey, we’re friends, let’s do friend-things together”, how do you jump to “look, I know you want this to be a date. I don’t ever want it to be a date”?

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. The one time I saw this to the extreme you show here, the person was actually a very lonely person. She did not have many friends locally, and her family life was… sporadic because family worked long hours.
      So she would immerse herself in the details of other people’s lives because she needed something to fill the void in her own. If she was thinking about my life she could successfully avoid thinking about her own life.

      Definitely learn to set boundaries. Pick certain topics that are off limits, such as financial questions and sex life questions. These off-limits topics will give you some feeling of reprieve.

      Next, learn how to smile and say, “Every Monday, you ask me what I did this weekend. Every Monday.” Then fail to answer her question by redirecting the conversation. “I think I had a half inch of ice on my car this morning.” She probably will not notice you did not answer her.

      Decide to target the MOST annoying questions and let the rest go. Mine was, “What’s for dinner tonight?” I hated cooking, I didn’t want to talk about cooking, I was always freakin’ cooking something and I was so sick of it I could have screamed. So I targeted the dinner question and let the weekend question slide. Target the questions that irk you the most.

      If over a period of time you can reduce the babble by 50% and increase interesting/informative conversations by a little bit, then you have done very well. Try, try, try, to keep in mind that she has the characteristics of a very lonely person.

  17. Undercover for this*

    I am completely and totally burned out at work. I took a couple of weeks off in December and thought I was feeling better, but now I’m not again. I think I’m also depressed (due to work) because I can barely force myself out of bed on work day mornings. I feel like I’m stuck; I’m older (50’s) so I don’t think it’s so easy to just go out and get another job at my age, especially one that pays so much money. I feel like I’m being under-utilized at my current job and at the same time, I feel like maybe I don’t have good enough skills to go someplace else.

    Work has been constantly changing; we just got bought out a few months ago and the deal is supposed to be all signed and done on March 1st. Nobody knows what is going to happen after that; the company that bought us out says that nobody will be laid off due to the merger for at least 2 years (if at all), but it’s possible that we could have to interview for our current jobs. It’s depressing and scary.

    No question, really. Just wanted to get it out there.

    1. junipergreen*

      Sending you warm thoughts. That sounds hard, and I hope things change soon for you in a good way. The buy-out might present new opportunities, so keep your eyes peeled. Is there anyone you can grab a coffee break with in your office? I bet even a quick surface conversation reveals others are feeling similarly – and it’s nice just to know you’re in it together.

      1. Artemesia*

        Just want to second that. If you can frame this as ‘my job is boring and I am under utilized but with the buyout there might be a chance to change what I do or find new challenges’ and then approach the new management with this attitude, you might make good things happen. I went through a punishing merger and those who embraced the new opportunities did a whole lot better than those who viewed it as a nightmare of disruption in their lives. A competent older person with a ‘bring it on’ attitude might be very attractive in a transition.

    2. MarmaladeChainsaw*

      Wow, I’m in a pretty similar situation as far as being depressed by my job, things constantly changing and always being uncertain, etc. This especially spoke to me: ‘I feel like I’m being under-utilized at my current job and at the same time, I feel like maybe I don’t have good enough skills to go someplace else.’ I’ve been feeling the same recently!

      Still, I think it might be worth it to look at other opportunities if you’re really unhappy. That’s what I’ve been forcing myself to do lately, because I really do want out of my current job. Although it feels lousy to feel like your skills aren’t up to par, I try to remind myself that most job postings list what their ‘ideal’ candidate looks like, and don’t necessarily expect you to have everything they list. I also try to remind myself that it’s totally possible to learn a lot and strengthen your skills in a new position so that they ARE up to par. At any rate, it never hurts to look and see what’s out there!

      If you do decide to stay, I hope everything works out with the new company! Maybe things will actually improve for you as far as feeling utilized, since sometimes new management/a new way of doing things makes things better.

      Good luck!

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this! How far away can you get during lunch? When I was going through a similar situation I would take a full hour for lunch every day I could. I’d drive 20 minutes to a favorite spot, eat lunch and drive back. It really helped to get away. Also try and avoid trash talk with your coworkers. It’s easy to do but it can really affect your mood and morale. Try to model positive or at least neutral thinking. And just because these yokels are underestimating you doesn’t mean you don’t have good skills that another manager or company won’t appreciate. You still have plenty of years to give to a career!

    4. Rex*

      I feel you on all of this. A few thoughts:

      1. Look into getting treated for the depression. Start by talking to your doctor?
      2. Make a really bright line between work and home. Don’t think about work when you’re home, do some fun/different things on your time away from work, or dive deeper into your current hobbies. Treat yourself really well. Be really disciplined about this.
      3. Start job searching. You don’t have to do anything about it if you’re waiting to see how things settle out, but just knowing you have options might help.

      Good luck!

      1. Undercover for this*

        I think your point #1 is probably the most important. Everything seems pretty bleak right now. I make great money, I have nice coworkers and a good work environment so I will probably just hang tight for now.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Wouldn’t hurt to talk to your doctor! I know with the company-related uncertainty it can just make you feel like you’re not in control and that’s an awful feeling. Hope things turn around soon!

  18. Sydney Bristow*

    The discussion about providing groceries to employees got me thinking. What kind of perks do you have at your office?

    At my first job out of college, the warehouse manager would make everyone the most amazing blueberry pancakes once a week. I think the branch manager paid for the supplies.
    I’ve also worked at several places that offered free soda in addition to coffee and tea. I always liked that except when it tempted me when I was trying to give it up.

    I’m currently working in a fancy office building that has hired people to do all the things that are most often complained about.
    -Someone cleans out all the fridges twice a week on a regular schedule. If your food isn’t labeled or the date is more than 2 days old, then it gets tossed.
    -These people also restock the pantry with coffee pods, tea, paper cups, plastic silverware, etc and keep it all clean.
    -A team of cleaning people clean and restock all the bathrooms several times a day.
    -Those same cleaning people also wipe down the glass doors once a week so they aren’t all smudgy.
    -We have a subsidized cafeteria that also provides beverages, snacks, or food for meetings. Then they clean up the conference rooms at the end.
    -There is a place in each pantry to stack dishes that belong to the cafeteria and they pick them up regularly.

    It is so nice never to have to worry about these things, or even worse, get stuck with several people who never clean up after themselves and then having the burden always fall to the same tidy people.

    1. AmyNYC*

      My new company is HUGE so they have great perks! In the office we have semi stocked (coffee, tea, and hot chocolate) kitchens on each floor, along with a facilities staff to clean and restock as needed. (My floor has a fancy Nespresso machine)
      Our local office is located in a BIG shopping/entertainment complex and we get discounts at stores and restaurants in the area. Nationwide, there’s discount at certain gyms, computers, and “to the trade” discounts at home retailers; there’s also professional perks, like education reimbursement, and membership in professional organizations.

    2. Pwyll*

      At the tiny consulting firm I was at, we got free coffee/tea/soda and bi-weekly a big team meal (think catered food, not sandwiches). But by far the best and worst was free alcohol. During our busy periods, I think we were at the bar (conveniently on the first floor of our building) every single day of the week for company-expensed drinks and apps. Often until very late. I know the managers struggled a bit with trying to make it clear that joining us/drinking alcohol was optional, and we did have one non-drinker who would join us and drink her juice so she wasn’t left out, but in retrospect it really was a bad idea.

    3. Turanga Leela*

      Very small workplace, so not a lot of traditional perks, but:
      -cleaning service comes in once a week or so
      -boss has offered to provide snacks and coffee, although I mostly bring my own
      -really nice laptop and iPhone with no restrictions on personal use
      -significant flexibility, so I can leave early, work in a cafe, etc. without using leave

    4. the gold digger*

      We have a workout room – free weights, weight machines, treadmills, stairmaster, exercycles – with locker rooms that are stocked with towels. I am always amazed that it is only about ten of us out of the 250 people here who use it at lunch.

    5. MaryMary*

      I’d be interested in any unusual or quirky perks! Most of the places I’ve worked had fairly standard (but nice!) ones. OldJob had the expectation that we all worked a lot of hours, so they had a lot of onsite perks: cafeteria (when I joined the company it was free, but eventually that changed), Starbucks, a dry cleaner, a bank, and a clinic.

      When I was a teenager, I worked in the retail store at the stadium of a professional sports team. My favorite quirky perk is that we got the leftovers from catered events. It was really tasty, except for the time we got a bunch of creme brulee that had not set (so, custard soup with burnt sugar on top). We did not get some of the expected perks: I worked there three years and never met a player. Front office staff and players’ families, yes. Athletes, no. My brother works for a cell phone provider at a high end shopping center, and he’s met more professional athletes there than I ever did working at the stadium.

      1. Jules the First*

        OldJob had awesome perks – an on-staff chef who cooked lunch for your team once a week, plus dinner whenever you worked late; a staff barista who knew everyone’s tea and coffee preferences (we had about a dozen types of tea and half a dozen different coffees, and if there was something in particular you liked but wasn’t stocked, he’d special order it for you) and made sure you always got your favourite snack with your hot drink; free open bar every Friday night, breakfast once a week; free use of our excellent VIP corporate travel agent for personal holidays; and, my all-time favourite perk: an in-house moving team which would pack your belongings, move out of your old house, clean, return the keys, clean your new place, move you in, and unpack.

      2. Rebecca in Dallas*

        My dad’s friend owned the concessions business in our city’s big (at the time) music venue. When he needed some extra hands, he’d hire me and some of my friends to work either selling sodas at the free-standing kiosks or in the kitchen. The pay was bad and we couldn’t serve alcohol (under 18) but we basically got to see concerts for free! We would basically be super busy before the concert (once the gates opened) and during intermission, but other than that it could get really slow. I got to see Sting, Metallica, Dave Matthews Band, Elton John… I can’t even remember who all else.

    6. AnotherFed*

      Before I became a fed, I worked for an engineering/construction company that was still trying to hold onto the ‘small family company’ vibe, so every Friday in summer they would have cookout/picnics with free food and beer/wine. The owner would first try to grill burgers for everyone (there were over 100 people, so everybody knew to wait to come down until he got bored and let other people set up multiple grills), then shift to handing out/refilling alcohol. It was fun, but he didn’t seem to realize that no, he should not give beers to the interns or junior construction guys because none of them were old enough to drink.

      1. MaryMary*

        My Dad has told me that at one of his jobs, the boss used to buy the guys a keg on Friday afternoon if things had been really busy, or in the summer if it were hot. I was shocked because Dad worked in a machine shop! Heavy machinery! Lots of pointy and/or sharp things! Some dangerous chemicals! He just shrugged and said they never had any problems.

        1. Brandy in TN*

          The old owner of the company (Im glad I didn’t work under him, side note he was murdered by his ex-wife) they were on tv show Snapped) loved nothing more then having drinks with the staff. He was a lawyer and should’ve known better but what if someone got a DUI or was in a wreck ontheir way home at rush hour with alcohol on their breath.

        2. AnotherFed*

          We had some of the same things with all the construction equipment and materials, but at least this owner was good about making sure people stayed at the party and didn’t go back to work after a few drinks! How people got home was another story…

    7. Red Wheel*

      I have always wanted to work someplace that had “cool” perks. Like all the free sneakers I could use form Nike or something like that.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      We get free coffee, cocoa mix, and tea, though people have to make the iced tea. It’s mostly the ones who drink it.

      The fridge gets cleaned like this also. So does the break room, but our cleaning contractors have gotten worse (they hired new ones).

      Corporate has a cafeteria, but their location makes it hard to get on and off campus to eat. Where I am we don’t have this because we’re close to a retail area.

      The bloodmobile comes to our location regularly and we are NOT required to clock out when we go donate. I’m glad of this, since that’s basically the only volunteering I care to do. I don’t like when I miss it or can’t do it —the donation place has weird hours and I can’t get there on workdays. This week, they wouldn’t let me because I had been sick but I got a Swiss Roll anyway. When they have to stick me twice, I get two Swiss Rolls. :)

      1. hermit crab*

        Letting people donate blood while clocked in is so cool! Obviously, a lot of people can’t donate (I’m temporarily included in this category, and I’m AB+ so it’s not like they’re lining up for my blood anyway) but for those who can, what a great way to make it more convenient!

    9. CheeryO*

      State government, so not too many traditional perks. However, we have a pool of vehicles to use for traveling, which is great. I went from putting 15,000 miles on my car per year (with reimbursement, but it’s still a pain) to under 5,000 per year.

    10. Bea W*

      Ice cream vending machine.
      We have free coffee/tea/cocoa service. We used to have a supply of plates, disposible utensils, napkins, and regular cream/milk delivery but all of that was cut a few years ago.
      Heavily subsidized parking for regular employees. The daily rate is about $20. The full monthly rate is $120 or more (not sure). Employees pay around $50/month. Public transit passes are subsidized at 60% for people who don’t take the parking benefit. I pay $28/month to commute. That’s pretty sweet.
      Free onsite fitness classes. They change up every couple months. I wish we had a fitness room onsite for convenience sake. There are shower facilities and lockers available particularly for people who bike or run on their commute.
      Discounted ZipCar membership fee.
      Free personal virtual consierge service which is expanded to include in-person errand running during the winter holiday season.
      Free flu shots and prescriptions for company drugs have no co-pay.
      Deep discount of company OTC brands which are conveniently sold in the cafeteria, a god-send during allergy season and winter dry skin season.
      Paid week off xmas to new years for company-wide shut down.
      Summer ice cream social and other fun events. One year we had a bunch of food trucks giving out free lunch. This included a cupcake/dessert truck. There was lobster roll.
      Ability to work remotely in crappy weather even if you don’t normally work remotely. Flexible schedule. We have “core hours” when people are expected to work, but start-end time outside of that is flexible.

      Indoor garden areas.

      1. Bea W*

        I had to scoot back down to my desk, but forgot one of the coolest perks! We are a huge multi-national corporation, and children of employees can participate in a cultural exchange program where they stay with the family of an employee in another country. There are lots to choose from. I wish there was a similar program for adults. “Bring our sons and daughters to work day” also looks like a whole lot of fun with organized hands-on activities for the kids that are related to the work, culture, and values of the company.

        We get to vote on our interior art work which is on loan from various galleries and artists. When they decide to switch up the interior art, they bring in a bunch of different pieces and we get to cast votes for our favorites.

        On occasion someone will leave a big frosted cookies on everyone’s desk, usually associated with some special recognition day/week related to a disease we treat. I’m all for free cookies and frosting.

    11. finman*

      My CEO has a blast at our christmas party. He likes to play a game of Dom, Better than Dom, Much Worse than Dom. This year the person closest to our 10 year results got first pick, followed by the next 2. One prize is a bottle of Dom Perignon, then there are 2 wrapped boxes. One of the boxes had $250 in Visa gift cards, the other this year had a gold fish. A previous year was a 18 inch summer sausage.

      One thing I miss at my old company was the latte’s from the really fancy espresso machine ($10,000 machine) with good quality coffee beans.

    12. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      My brother-in-law gets a house cleaning service twice a month for two hours. Yup, my sister gets her house cleaned, paid for by her husband’s company. Fantastic idea.

    13. Bea W*

      I keep thinking of things! My mother worked at a place where they gave everyone a turkey for Thanksgiving, not a coupon for a turkey, but an actual frozen turkey, and they weren’t piddly small turkeys either. Sometimes she would trade it to a non-work friend with big dinner plans for one that was more reasonably sized.

    14. Ad Astra*

      I work in advertising, so a lot of our perks are skewed toward the young and hip to distract from the possibility of working long hours during crunch time:
      – Free sodas and coffee
      – A bowl of fresh fruit for snacks
      – Other healthy snacks that cost 50 cents a piece on the honor system
      – Beer:30 on Fridays
      – A game room with a pool table and foozeball (mostly for use during Beer:30 and lunch, I think)
      – No real dress code — jeans are fine unless there’s some reason you need to dress up that day
      – Reimbursement for healthy stuff you do like joining the gym or running a 5K (capped at a few hundred dollars annually)
      – We close at noon on Christmas Eve and re-open the Monday after New Year’s Day each year, so everyone gets the holidays off without using their vacation time
      – Up to 2 hours a week of “personal time,” for taking your dog to the vet or whatever, since most of us are non-exempt
      – Free parking (that perk is mostly due to the city’s ample free parking, not the company’s generosity)
      – The kitchen is well stocked with plates, cups, napkins, a toaster, a George Foreman grill, and some other useful things
      – Management is usually cool with people working from home when they have a sick kid or are waiting for the cable guy or whatever

    15. Pennalynn Lott*

      At one job back in the 90’s, we had a keg of beer in the kitchen that we could tap as soon as the clock hit 4:00pm. As the president’s assistant, I got to drink his gin (that I kept stocked). [But this was a highly dysfunctional and toxic workplace, starting with the president and working its way down. I stayed for only 9 months because the crazy got too unbearable.]

      At Microsoft (in Texas) we had free sodas, coffee, tea, hot chocolate (from a Starbuck’s machine, not from a packet), milk, four kinds of juice, and chocolate milk. And a subsidized cafeteria, so lunch wasn’t crazy expensive. Also unlimited cutlery, paper cups, paper bowls, paper plates, spiral notebooks, pens, pencils, Sharpies, and first aid supplies. Oh, and a library with actual books you could check out for two weeks at a time.

    16. Lily in NYC*

      Our best perk (in my opinion) is the ability to sell back up to 10 days of vacation time in December. And I get 6 weeks off a year! And a room to park bikes. I don’t use it but people really appreciate it (it’s NYC so you can’t park it outside).

    17. RKB*

      For my job with the municipal government:

      – free access to all City facilities, from pools to rinks to gyms to themed gardens
      – a heavily discounted phone plan (in Canada, this is a godsend. I now pay $50 a month for 5GB + unlimited talk and text. I was paying $100 a month for 500MB…)
      – airport discounts
      – bus discounts
      – first access to city events
      – discounted athletic tickets

      In my facility, we have:
      – stocked kitchen (teas, coffees, food trays)
      – stocked supplies (need post its! Go to the back! Take ’em home! As a student this has been super helpful!)
      – a team that cleans the facility, from mopping down boot tracks to replacing toilet paper to cleaning out the fridge
      – catered monthly in service days
      – a security team! as a Clerk, I often have to deal with unsavoury people, but we have dedicated staff who really gets down on them.

    18. hnl123*

      Perks for my small office include:
      -suuuuper causal dress code (like yoga pants are OK). This is a huge one for me. Comfort all the way!
      -access to full kitchen.
      -lots of time flexibility (within reason of course)
      -I get access to yoga classes (yay!)

    19. hermit crab*

      My day job doesn’t have any super-unusual perks (though we do have some nice things like coffee, a transit subsidy, bagels on Fridays, a tuition reimbursement program, etc.) — but through one of my volunteer positions, I get free IMAX tickets!

    20. SL #2*

      My old job had a fully stocked kitchen (lots of snacks, sandwich materials, breakfast foods) and once-a-week catered lunch. I saved so much money simply because I never had to bring my own breakfast or lunch (or even dinner sometimes if I was staying late).

      Current job has lots of catering leftovers, awful coffee, filtered water, and candy. But the cafe downstairs is subsidized, so I’m still saving a little bit of money.

    21. Ekaterin*

      Coffee, bottled water, and snacks (little sandwiches, veggie trays, and cookies) on days we have to stay late for PD (1.5 hours after work ends), and catered meals on days we have to stay significantly later (2 hours or more). We also get work laptops, and there are a decent range of free or deeply discounted PD opportunities available. (I’m in a field that requires X hours of PD per year for licensing purposes, but very few employers in my area offer much in the way of free, quality PD, so I see this as a “perk,” although really it shouldn’t be.)

    22. Lindsay J*

      Standard for my industry, but still awesome: free space-available flights to anywhere we fly and discounted flights on partner airlines.

      Discounts at various parking facilities and food places at the airport.

      Free coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and creamer, sugar, etc.

      Company paid meals on major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc) since we’re required to be at work. On New Years Eve we got bottles of sparkling cider to toast with.

      Discount on cell phone service from a major provider.

      Can sign up to be notified of various travel deals for hotels, etc.

      Employees can sign up to donate to an employee fund. I give $1 a paycheck. If you wind up experiencing some sort of personal tragedy (house burns down, major medical expenses, etc) you can apply to receive help from that fund to get you back up on your feet.

  19. junipergreen*

    What do you do when you are dissatisfied with an experience with a medical professional? I recently moved and have had to find new doctors. I got a recommendation from my new primary care guy (who is great) for a specialist and set up a new appt with New Doc.

    At the appt, I felt very rushed and did not have all my questions answered by New Doc. I was able to ask some quick questions about having a minor elective procedure performed and she gave cursory answers before moving on to the exam. We barely talked about my history, and her responses to my questions were perfunctory.

    It was one of the fastest exams I’ve ever had performed, with no mention of when I would hear back on the results of the exam. I tried to ask her some more questions about the potential procedure and she told me the front desk would have a brochure for me.

    While checking out, I asked the office manager who I could call to ask more questions – she handed me the aforementioned brochure and said she’d be happy to take my questions about scheduling that procedure. New Doc had apparently noted in my file that I would be having the procedure and to schedule me in. I told the office manager I had more *medical* questions, and she looked a bit panicked, then told me to wait in an separate section of the waiting room (still public and not a private space) while she went to fetch the doctor. New Doc showed up a few minutes later wearing her street clothes and holding her purse, clearly on her way out the door. I stammered out a few more questions but still am not sure the procedure is right for me and basically am left feeling confused and scared. I saw her in the parking lot a moment later and she did not acknowledge me with even a wave.

    What do I do? I do not need a doctor to hold my hand and be my friend, but I do want her to show interest in me as a patient. I do not want to have this procedure with her. Should I call the practice? And what should I say? Should I ask to see another doctor within this practice? Go somewhere else, but then have to deal with the hassle of insurance questioning my double billing for the same specialist? Ugh.

    1. junipergreen*

      Edit I know this is a work related thread – I’m wondering if anyone works in the field and has a recommendation.

    2. KR*

      I would seek a second exam with a different doctor if it were me. This doctor had a chance to pull you in as a long term patient and they rushed through it because they had somewhere else to go. You (or your insurance) are paying a lot of money for health care especially if you’re in the US – you deserve to have someone who answers all your questions.

        1. junipergreen*

          Happy for the 3 cents! I am looking for any and all recommendations and knew the smarties at AAM would have some ideas.

      1. GOG11*

        I am not a doctor, but I have had experiences similar to this, and I second this recommendation. I had seen a doctor who brushed me off, didn’t even look at the affected body part, and looked at me like I was nuts when I asked if it could be *medical condition I was exhibiting symptoms of* (which, I do apparently have). Fast-forward a couple of years and I was in physical therapy for the same problem. I told the PT about my experience and he was able to recommend someone who had a good track record/reputation of treating patients really well (completed much more comprehensive exam, answered questions, took my lifestyle into account when considering treatment options). Affected body part is now somewhat damaged from not getting appropriate treatment a couple of years ago and I really wish I wouldn’t have just stopped at the first doctor.

        Best of luck, junipergreen.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          PTs are FANTASTIC for information on which doc to go to and which doc to stay away from. Pharmacy people also form thoughtful opinions based on what they see at work.

      2. Liza*

        I agree with KR here. Also, you can look for online reviews of any doctors you’re considering switching to. In my area Yelp is pretty popular for reviews, even for medical stuff. (I have recently updated my Yelp review of my dentist, and added reviews of the emergency rooms I visited over the holidays. Five-star reviews for all of them, they were great!)

      3. the gold digger*

        I changed doctors once just because Doc A did not laugh at my jokes. It was easy – I was in an HMO (I miss my HMO so much) and I just said, “I want someone else, please,” and they switched me.

    3. Ama*

      I do work with doctors tangentially (I’m in a patient/research advocacy org) and most of our volunteer expert doctors are very open when they give patient talks for us that you should find a doctor that makes you feel comfortable — and you should never feel like you are being forced into a treatment you don’t want or still have questions about. Different patients need different types of support from their doctors — you will respond much better to treatment if you feel comfortable and confident.

    4. MaryMary*

      junipergreen, are you asking about next steps, or how to give feedback? I agree with everyone urging you to find another doctor and get another opinion, but I’m curious about giving feedback to a medical professional. Particularly if you’re not questioning her medical opinion as much as her bedside manner/communication skills.

      To give a personal example, several years ago I was having depression and anxiety issues, and made an appointment with my PCP’s office to get a referral to see a therapist. I couldn’t see my usual doctor on short notice, so I saw another physician in the practice. I sat in exam room with tears pouring down my face as I told her that I was anxious and emotional all the time, but nothing specific was triggering the reaction. She asked if I’d recently gone through a break up or was having relationship problems (no), if anyone close to me was sick or had recently died (no) or if I was having problems at work or financial difficulties (no), and then said to me “Well, nothing is wrong with you, why are you crying!” I wanted to tell her THAT WAS MY POINT, but by that time I was crying so hard I couldn’t talk. I did get my referral, but I’ve always regretted not going back to someone to tell them this woman gave the worst possible response to someone dealing with depression and anxiety. I’d hate for other people not to get help because this doctor dismissed their problems.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I’ve told the story here before (I think) but I once had a [male] doctor tell me that I didn’t have depression, I just needed to quit pursuing my [lucrative, fun] career, get married and have kids, and then I’d feel better about life because I’d be “fulfilled”.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I had a shrink tell me, “you are a woman and you need to learn to accept your lot in life.” I left, I could not cure him.

      2. junipergreen*

        ACK!!! I am so sorry that happened. That is the LAST thing anyone needs to hear. (On a related note, a former PCP was once doing a cursory mental-wellness check-in and asked cheerfully, “We’re not having any thoughts of suicide or self-harm, are we?” 0_O )

        I AM curious about how to give feedback, though. In any other industry, I would feel comfortable voicing my dissatisfaction as a customer. Here, though, I’m not sure how to give feedback.

      3. Windchime*

        Way back when, I was suffering from severe postpartum depression. Like the type of depression where cleaning out the bank account and abandoning your little newborn baby sounds like a perfectly reasonable plan. I went to a therapist, despite barely being able to afford the $10 copay. She recommended that I go on a shopping trip, and then proceeded to gleefully show me her new, expensive sweater. I left there feeling 100% worse than when I went in. Really? Shopping?

    5. Been there done that on both sides*

      Find another specialist for a second opinion right away. You may have to pay the costs for one of the two specialists. Also let your PCP know about your experience. They do not often know the specialist and would feel horrified to know that they are referring “their” patients to someone like that. My current PCP was horrified to find out the bedside manners of one of the OB/GYN’s she was referring patients to on a frequent basis. She began questioning her patients about their experiences with specialists (or in her opinion, the patients whose opinions she trusted). It took me 3 tries to find an endocrinologist I liked. Personally I prefer specialist staff that also teach/train interns or work for a university. They have more patience and willingness to answer questions.

      1. junipergreen*

        Good call – I was thinking of giving my PCP the feedback. He’s referred me to two others and for one he actually said “This guy has terrible bedside manner but is The. Best. Around.” So, I wonder if he would say the same thing about this New Doc.

        1. prettypony*

          Yes, please do give your PCP the feedback! As front desk staff for a specialist, we sometimes refer patients to other specialists, and we really do want to know when you have a bad experience (or a good experience, even) at the place(s) we sent you to.

          I’ve also, personally, gotten referrals along the lines of “their front desk staff are pretty spacey and not on top of things, but the doctor is amazing”. It was spot-on and very, very important for me to know, as otherwise I would never have made it to the appointment with the doctor himself.

    6. RKB*

      I’m an L&D clerk but I’m a neuropsychiatry student so I hope that will suffice!

      You should really find a doctor who listens to you. A good doctor doesn’t mean just being quick and efficient at their job. Good doctors listen. They spend their time with you. They have good beside manner.

      Here’s another story:

      When I was 14 I was very ill. I had a large abscess and no one had any answers. I lost 70 pounds in 6 months. My GP told me I was “growing” and recommended I up my iron intake.

      One night the pain was so bad my mother took me to the ER. The surgeon didn’t use anesthetic and did a five minute “drainage” procedure. Told me it was superficial and gave me an Rx for codeine, then sent me home.

      The pain didn’t stop. I ended up hiking 10 miles in -25C weather to the local emergency clinic one morning. The doctor there — he LISTENED. He sat me down and talked. Then he looked at the issue. He drew diagrams and asked questions. Then he called an ambulance.

      I had severe, severe Crohn’s disease. I had mentioned the stomach pains at every doctor visit I’d been to, but no one listens to a 14 year old. The children’s hospital was appalled at how awful my symptoms had gotten. My bowel was (TMI) literally rotting.

      I ended up undergoing dozens (!) of surgeries. My surgeon would visit me every morning, he would spend time with me and go over procedures and how I was feeling, and THEN he would leave. He worked from 4 AM to 11 PM. THAT is a good doctor. That is the man who saved my life, along with the emergency care clinic doctor.

      You are not a doctor’s client. You are their boss. They have to listen to you. I would highly recommend looking for physicians in your area and just simply googling them. If something, God forbid, happens to you… You need a doctor who cares.

      1. Windchime*

        That is a horrible, scary story. I’m so glad you found a doctor who recognized what was wrong and treated you!

    7. Aunt Vixen*

      If the procedure is minor and elective and it won’t have serious health implications not to have it for a while, I’d say item one is to get it un-scheduled as soon as you can.

      Once you have some breathing room, it’s totally okay to ask to see another doctor in the same practice. Anecdata: I have done exactly this, calling for an annual exam and telling the scheduler that I didn’t feel that the doctor I’d seen the last time was a good fit for me and asking if I could see someone else, please. (I was prepared with an explanation of how I felt that doctor was judging me unnecessarily in areas that had nothing to do with the reason for the visit, along with how difficult it had been to get a simple paperwork issue corrected that only the doctor could handle–but the scheduler didn’t even ask.*) The bad-fit doctor was the only one working on the day of the week that it would have been easiest for me to make an appointment, but doing it a different day was not an insurmountable problem, so I shifted to a different day on my calendar and saw a doctor I was more comfortable with.

      * So if your case were the same as mine, you could quite simply ask to see someone else in the practice, and if the scheduler happens to ask why, there’s nothing wrong or untrue with an answer about how you didn’t feel a great rapport with the first doctor or that she was as focused on you as a patient as you’d hope a doctor would be.

    8. prettypony*

      Oh, I just caught your insurance question — depending on what is being billed, insurance may not even bat an eye at two bills. It sounds like it was just an exam/consult, and while I can’t speak to the larger insurance practices and of course YMMV, getting a second exam/consult done does not always raise red flags. Unless you have specific knowledge about your insurance not liking two exams being done by different doctors of the same specialty, please don’t let that be your deciding factor.

      Of course yes, it is possible that you’ll end up needing to pay for one of the exams.. but I’m not entirely convinced that would be 100% certain, and I think that would be worth you looking into if you haven’t already.

      1. TootsNYC*

        And if you think your insurance might mind, call them and explain. They’re more understanding about this than you may realize. And they’d probably like the feedback too!

    9. GH in SoCAl*

      I had a similar experience — though I actually had the minor procedure with the Doctor I didn’t much like, because my PCP said it was urgent. (Apparently an infected toenail situation can get into bone!) But my feelings of being unheard continued, and I switched to another Doctor for the follow-up, and I’m much happier now. In my case, I called my Insurance Company for advice (it’s through my Union so I have someone local/specific to call). They told me all I had to do was ask my PCP for a new referral, and when I did the Dr’s office didn’t even blink.

      (After the fact, I saw on Yelp that guy I’d been going to had a bunch of low reviews for long waits and rushed appointments, so yeah.)

  20. Snow White*

    I am a week into a new job and am a bit stumped as to how to deal with a co-worker who sits right next to me.
    I have been told that she behaves this way with everybody, however I am already starting to find the working environment very uncomfortable and I am feeling as though if this behaviour is not stopped- it could be a deal breaker for me in this role.

    I have two main issues, one I understand ‘all people are different’ and totally get that – the other, as HR Manager – I feel I need to directly nip in the bud quickly.

    The first issue is – I am an introvert, especially when in new situations I can be very shy and really need to focus on my tasks at hand until I settle in. I am finding the employee incredibly distracting and intrusive by her standard/non-direct behaviour.
    She is very loud and all day there is a running commentary as to everything she is doing, where she talks to herself/verbalises every thought – loudly. I even know when her breathing pattern has changed, as she announces that she has breathed differently than she normally does. When we do not have that, she is shouting at her monitor at either emails or the programmes she is using. There is no break from this unless she is physically away from her desk. She also has a cold, and keeps sniffing and what sounds like gargling with her own mucus.It is gross, and I feel my role is not the type that I can put in earphones (and when I have, I can hear her through the earphones).

    The second issue is what feels like the deal breaker. Every day I am having a tirade of demands (which do not factor into her job/role) being thrown at me very aggressively and loudly.I feel as though I have to be continuously on the defence whatever I do.
    This started, literally as soon as I came into the office on my first day – I had not even had my coat off and she told me that I would be doing the tasks she is picked up, because she physically cannot stand it any more; but pretended to not have the information I would need to take it over.
    My first week was taken up with advising on a disciplinary/grievance case for the employee who had a complaint raised against her for bullying. The employee countered that she felt this was constructive dismissal and was causing her stress on day two – I was incredibly concerned and advised she write her issues down and we can use them as an agenda for a meeting with her line manager and our CEO. The next day I was taken into a meeting room by her Line Manager and told never to speak with his employee again without his permission and told that he was very angry with me. This was day three. When I came out of the meeting room, the employee (who was not present) said very loudly so that everybody could here a few things which made other member of staff think that I had been accused of bullying her.
    Yesterday (again very loudly/shouting), she made a point of telling me my desk was untidy (she had noticed that something had been there for ages (3 hours)) and then physically took items from my desk and moved them.
    She does something every day which either is meant to intimidate or is just incredibly aggressive and I just do not know how to deal with it, as either the words she has said on paper sound nice but the delivery is off ‘you look nice, flying the flag for Chocolate Teapot factory in those colours! True ambassador you look like a walking logo’ or she just outright denies what she has said to her line manager.

    I am finding her incredibly intimidating, rude and distracting. But it is clear she is untouchable – the company has rights to fire her for her previous bullying behaviour in line with their policies; however she is being completely protected by her line manager who is the chairman of the company and feeds back all advice I give to the Board. The compromise is now that she will not work for our company, but due to the relationship between the Chairman’s company (who is taking over her contract) she will still be working in our offices and paid by my company by default. I am literally on my second day of my second week and having to psych myself up (and take calming herbal pills) before going into the office.

    I rarely suffer from stress, but I left my previous company due to bullying (which has nothing to do with here and is irrelevant to current situation) and do not want to experience it at my new job.

    How can I nip this behaviour in the bud without being too direct and causing her to completely erupt? She is like every hostile employee I have ever dealt with rolled into one person and completely unpredictable.

    1. Artemesia*

      There is no way you can deal with this without your manager protecting you which means at the minimum moving where you work. They know she is a bully and they don’t care; it hurts you but not whomever is authorizing her behavior. You need to find another job if your own manager can’t protect you; there is nothing you can do to nip this in the bud with her. If she doesn’t work for your company how does she have a say in your position and the tasks you do? If she doesn’t direct you, you could ignore her — but it doesn’t sound like she is going to let that happen. No one fixes this unless the pain falls on them and not you. Get out as soon as you can.

      1. Snow White*

        I have spoken with my manager who has promised me I will be protected in relation to this woman. I have been told that she is leaving soon, but now the current conversations are now putting a complete halt on me being able to complete general tasks.

        I am so frustrated – I could make so much of this role here, and there is potential I could be able to take the lead in a complete culture change; but this is not what I signed up for and feels like more than ‘not settled in yet’ issues.

        1. Artemesia*

          Being ‘protected’ means being moved. You need to make having your work station elsewhere a number one priority. Focus on getting the job done, not on the annoyance factor — as in ‘I know we have discussed this, but I have to emphasize that her behavior is making it impossible for me to get this job done it is so intrusive. What can we do to move my desk to another office or area?’ if it can’t be done there, what about a workshare nearby (those spaces that rent desk space for freelancers) I am not sure they would spring for it, but it is a ‘solution’ perhaps that emphasizes how big a deal it is. I assume work from home is not possible but that is another solution. And since no one really cares, get that job search open so at least you have the comfort of knowing you are working on a solution.

    2. misspiggy*

      Sounds like you have to explicitly ask her to stop talking so much, that you need quiet to get your work done. If that doesn’t work it should be possible to ask your manager to be moved. If not, I’d be out of there if you can afford it – temping for a while would be preferable perhaps, and it sends a clear signal that keeping this woman is damaging to this company’s business.

    3. Jennifer*

      I don’t honestly know what the heck you could do other than quit. She’s untouchable and WILL yell at you all the time. Nobody’s going to stop her at the top and what are you going to do, ask her politely to stop while she yells at you?

      Sorry you’re dealing with this :(

    4. F.*

      Get the hell out of there! If she is truly untouchable, and it seems she is, then you have no choice. She has absolutely no incentive to change her behavior, so she won’t.

    5. LisaLee*

      Honestly, I would quit. In a heartbeat.

      If you need to stick it out though, I would go to your manager, lay out that you know there’s little to be done about this woman but you can’t complete your work with her current behavior, and ask to be moved somewhere else.

      I can’t believe this is still going on when she doesn’t even officially work for your company anymore.

      1. Bea W*

        How does that even work? She not working for them but they give her space and a pay check? This workplace is seriously dysfunctional.

        1. LisaLee*

          I agree. That whole arrangement sounds dubiously legal (you’re working for one company, but on the payroll of another??) AND nuts.

    6. LCL*

      The only suggestions I have involve getting her to leave you alone. You really need management support and it sounds like you don’t have it.
      Think of her as a 3 year old having a tantrum. Meet every outburst with counter and calm.
      She yells at you, you ask ‘why are you yelling at me?’
      She takes something off your desk, you tell her, ‘I didn’t ask you to remove that, please bring it back.’
      If she presents you with a list of demands, ask her to write them up and tell her you both will discuss them after you have had time to check your other things first.
      When she completely loses it and starts yelling at you, don’t stand there and take it. Tell her you won’t talk when she is yelling and go back to doing some work task. The mistake I have made in the past with my unhinged person was letting the yelling continue, because I thought I looked tougher because by then I just didn’t care what yeller did. One of yellers continual criticisms of me is that I am patronizing. I am patronizing because I listened and let them have their say without jumping up to do their bidding.

    7. AdminSue*

      Oh, I am so sorry for the situation you are in. We have the same woman working here, untouchable and all. I do not have to deal with her directly most of the time. Best of luck to you.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Just out of curiosity what are other people doing to keep her at bay? Is there anyone there you can talk with for real advice?

      I think I would go to your boss again and tell him, the situation is getting worse and worse. In a serious tone of voice tell him, “I need help here. I am asking for help right now, this week.”

      Let us know how it goes for you, whatever way you decide.

  21. MarmaladeChainsaw*

    Woo hoo, I’ve been waiting for this!

    Okay, so I interviewed for a job last Tuesday. I think it went pretty well, and I’m definitely interested in the position. I interviewed with the manager, as well as a woman in a senior position who I would essentially be working under/assisting. After the interview, she emailed me to ask for more samples of my work, and also gave me a task to complete to test my skills. I took this as a good sign that they were still interested after the interview.

    My question: I completely forgot to ask during the interview, or in my email reply to the senior designer, when I could expect to hear back about the job. Is it acceptable for me to follow up with an email now to ask? And if so, who should I email: the manager, or the senior designer (who obviously has at least some input on who is hired to assist her)?

    I know it can take a while to hear back after an interview, and it hasn’t quite been even 2 weeks yet, but I’m really interested in the job and I’m getting antsy! Thanks for any and all advice!

  22. Quirk*

    So, I’m curious about the way people talk about a “bad economy” in the context of job hunting. The official unemployment figures don’t look that bad, but clearly a lot of folk seem to think it’s hard to find work and you’ve got to hang onto your job even if you have an underwhelming employer.

    I’m in the tech sector, so it doesn’t feel like a bad economy at all and it’s easy for me to be insanely picky about jobs. I’m aware of sectors like journalism being in decline, but some sectors always are declining as others rise.

    I guess I’m wondering how people come to the conclusion that it’s a “bad economy” and what they mean by it.

    1. petpet*

      I think “bad economy” is a phrase to cover the way job hunting has really changed in the past decade. The way we find and apply for jobs has been so transformed by the internet that it feels jobs are much more competitive than they used to be. I know when I apply for jobs (and I’ve been applying without luck for about two years), I assume that there are at least a hundred other qualified applicants for each opening.

    2. Leslie Knope's Waffle*

      When I think of a “bad economy,” I have two thoughts:

      1. It seems like, yes, there are jobs being created but they are low-paying, part-time, with little to no benefits. Those types of jobs aren’t what the majority of the workforce are looking for. In my current life situation, I need a full-time job that includes healthcare benefits. So, when I read news stories or polls about job growth, my first question, “What types of jobs are we talking about?”

      2. I think it’s very industry-specific. For example, I went to journalism school. When I graduated 10 years ago, there were a decent amount of print/magazine jobs out there but lots of competition. We all know what has happened to that industry and the need has definitely shifted. I do know a few people from college that still work in that industry, but most of them have moved on to other careers (i.e. PR, marketing, nonprofit, etc.) for a multitude of reasons. I did that myself because I simple couldn’t afford to live on a newspaper reporter’s salary. So, I have my full-time job and do my writing on a freelance basis, and it’s been a very good fit for me.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yes, and employers (IME) are mashing together jobs, hiring one person to do two unrelated kinds of work, so they’re looking for weird combinations of skillsets, and not paying an amount that would make sense.

        1. Leslie Knope's Waffle*

          Yes, this too. I’m seeing more job postings for my field (marketing/PR) that want the typical media relations/writing skills, as well as web development and graphic design. They literally want a unicorn that can do EVERYTHING. And of course, they want to pay them $30K a year. Um, no thanks!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          This is why I had such a hard time finding something–the mashups contained stuff I can’t do. It took forever to find a job that actually avoided that and paid enough to live on.

        3. Tris Prior*

          Yes, this! My former field was print design/production. I’m looking for jobs in that field again and finding that they also want you to be able to code, or to manage social media, or to have accounting experience, or some other qualification that most print designers don’t do day to day in their jobs. And often the pay’s insultingly low! I don’t remember it being that way last time I was looking, which admittedly was a really long time ago.

        4. Ad Astra*

          Yes, you see a ton of that in the media jobs that are still out there, and I’ve seen a bit of it in marketing and advertising as well.

          Basically, the economy itself is improving, but the job market isn’t necessarily improving along with it. Many of the companies that are indeed doing better than they were during the recession still haven’t staffed back up to their pre-recession numbers. Once you learn to function without a position you once thought was essential, it’s sort of hard to justify spending the money to bring that position back.

          Generally, though, I notice less desperation in the job market. It seems like people who are job hunting feel a lot better about their prospects now than they did in 2009.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        Ditto #2. People a few years ahead of me at a well-connected, prestigious law school got paying internships at major firms their 1L summers and all-but-guaranteed offers after their 2L summers. When they started, as first-year associates they got significant bonuses, free takeout dinners at work, and car services to take them home. This all assumes hellish schedules where you’re at work until 9 or 10 every night, but the point was that the firm would pay your expenses and compensate you accordingly. That system collapsed in the late 2000s. Now, there is no guarantee of a job; when you get one, the schedule is still hellish, and the benefits have been scaled back.

        To be clear, first-year associates at a big NYC firm still make $160k a year (I think, my information is slightly outdated), but after taxes, rent in Manhattan or Brooklyn, and student loan payments, that’s much less than it sounds like.

    3. Mimmy*

      I have nothing to add to the other comments, except I hear the bemoans of “bad economy” whenever I tell people I’ve had a hard time finding a job. I’m in the social work / human services field (but am not necessarily looking to do direct social work.)

    4. Jennifer*

      Well, in my industry, if someone leaves, they will do their damndest to not hire someone to replace them. This is still going on even now. My area of the office is understaffed and it’s only going to get worse. There’s been whopping complaints at my employer that it’s very difficult to get HR to approve a job opening. They will only hire someone who has 100% done the job before. I’ve been job hunting for four years. Most years I’ve only gotten one interview a year (last year I got 2), I’m still frantically waiting to hear back about another job I should be a shoo-in (I DO have 100% qualifications!) for and I still haven’t heard anything, so I probably didn’t get that either. I’m desperate to make a change and I just cannot freaking do it. I’m afraid I’m going to have a nervous breakdown or get fired, honestly.

      Bad economy kinda boils down to “how easily can you get another job if you want to leave or are unemployed,” and most of us aren’t as privileged as those in tech.

      1. Bea W*

        Same where I work. We’re lucky if we can get an approval to hire a temp to replace someone. It’s impossible to get a perm position approved. Heck my company will layoff perm employees and simply replace them with people who work for another company. It’s horrible as heck.

        The economy seems really great for the people at the top, and a real mixed bag for everyone else. There is no more job security in my industry despite the hand-over-fist profit.

    5. Mike C.*

      I saw a blurb on Meet The Press a few weeks ago that addressed this, and the thing is that there are a lot of states that are doing well and there are a lot of states that are doing really poorly and that there’s a real urban/rural divide.

      1. Quirk*

        Yeah. I think it’s conversations across the divide that seem awkward to me.

        Recently there was someone who was given a 0.5% pay rise in their first job, which was heralded by their boss as amazingly high, and they asked their boss “Do you think I’m stupid?”

        Lots of people chimed in to say that 0.5% is better than nothing, and “in this economy” etc etc… while I thought about my area, and my field, and how a developer I know got a 0.5% pay rise practically as an insult from a manager who didn’t like him, and it bucked him up enough to finally go out onto the market and increase his salary by a third. It didn’t seem very kind to talk about it to the people who hadn’t had a pay rise in years.

        However, employers don’t always have the power, and sometimes employees absolutely can tell them where to stuff it and go elsewhere, and in the cases when the employee can do that, I think advice from those who really are in their employers’ power can be unhelpful. I’ve known too many people who assumed that the discomfort their employer inflicted on them was inevitable, and that they couldn’t really do any better, when in actual fact they could’ve had their pick of a dozen jobs locally.

        It’s difficult getting that balance between sympathy to those of limited options and not reinforcing submissiveness to bad bosses among those who really can just up and move.

        1. Bea W*

          0.5% in my and field is considered anything but good. When we were acquired by another company and the merit raises were cut from 4-5% or more (which is normal for the industry) to under 2% and not really merit-based, it really did not go over well, especially with people who had been at the company for over a decade. One of my co-workers jokingly refers to it as the “annual pay cut”, because the raises no longer keep pace with increases in cost of living. The general economy / job availability in my area is pretty good, and it’s particularly good in my field where there is high demand for our skills and experience. Companies that give crappy raises can’t retain talent long term when people know the best way to increase their salary is to move from job to job. This is especially true in a location with high cost of living that continues to rise.

    6. Kristine*

      I think tech is one of the few anomalies in the bad (but recovering) economy. My husband is an engineer and was able to get consistent promotions/raises/new jobs even throughout the recession. But I’m an event planner, and when things went south in 2008, many businesses decided that they could cut trade shows from their marketing efforts. I was lucky to find a full time job, but as a receptionist, which paid less and didn’t build the skills I wanted to be building. I’m now back in event planning, but had to take a position I wasn’t thrilled about because it was the only EP offer I’d gotten in four years and my salary is lower than what I’d like because of my 4 gap years of being a receptionist. So I would say it’s a bad economy because even though I am employed, I’m not making what I should be and I don’t have very many options in my field.

      1. Dan*

        This probably doesn’t help you much, and I apologize for that, but the reality is that we all make what we “should” be making. If we’re truly underpaid, we should go out and find something that pays what we’re worth. If those jobs aren’t available? Then we can’t move and we make what we “should” be making. As a thought exercise, I look at jobs that have been eliminated over time.

        For example, old airplanes required three crewmembers to fly them, the third one was called the “flight engineer.” Modern aircraft only require two pilots, so what “should” a flight engineer be making? We can look at trends and blah blah and come up with some sky high number, or we can look at the fact those positions don’t even exist anymore, and therefore the market value for him is nothing.

        My brother is a radiation therapist, and that’s been an interesting market. When he graduated school in ’05, those positions came with signing bonuses. The market is saturated with new grads now, so there are no longer any signing bonuses. Does that mean the “economy” is bad? Well, there’s an increase in labor supply, so yeah, the economics of being a radiation therapist aren’t want they used to be, but that isn’t a good indicator of the overall economy.

        1. Artemesia*

          In the future there will be almost no jobs. Technology will eat up almost all of what are now middle class jobs and outsourcing will take care of the rest. Only a few high paid professional jobs and lots of drudge jobs (nursing home caregiver etc) will exist and most people will not be able to have jobs that pay a decent wage.

          If we don’t as a society figure out how to organize the way we are supported away from the ‘you are only worth what you can convince powerful people to pay you’ we will be a society that is even more unequal and desperate than medieval. None of the obvious solutions to this problem that is not that far off is slightly compatible with our general ‘if you aren’t successful you are a loser’ framing of how people live.

          1. Mike C.*

            I’m seeing a lot more talk about GMI policies in response to this.

            It’s interesting, I remember hearing an NPR piece about Google moving a data center into a tiny town where there had recently been a factory closure. A whole bunch of locals started attending school to earn the skills that would be required to get a job there.

            IIRC, not a single one received a job. You hear about about “getting the right skills/training/education” but there are so many times where you won’t be hired because you’re simply “not the right culture fit”. There really aren’t many good answers.

          2. Ife*

            I work in the “tech” field and this always really bothers me about the work I do. Especially because I really don’t enjoy the work and want to switch to a different field at some point — I’m putting myself out of a job!

            I guess we must hope that the proletariat revolution comes sooner than later!

          3. Bea W*

            I can see something similar happening even just at my own company. Much of the non-management work has been outsourced or rebranded to other companies or is perpetually renewing temp contracts. It is near impossible to hire perm for even the most essential positions (like admin support!!!), and this practice has destablized our workforce to the point where I am certain it is probably affecting the bottom line, but of course don’t have the resources or desire to prove it. I feel like and worry at some point the only employees of the company will be high-level management.

            Interestingly there was one Director who did crunch numbers to show that ending outsourcing in one department would cut costs in half, and actually bring them under the million dollar mark, saving a TON of money as well as a ton of headache. It makes me wonder what the people who make these decisions are thinking, if they are truly crunching real numbers and projecting out far enough or they are just drinking the outsourcing Kool Aid, or they perhaps are looking at real numbers, and are concerned mostly with lining their own pockets short term (before taking a huge sign on bonus with another company) and/or making things look deceptively good on paper short term.

            I would not be surprised, if like the banking industry, some of these strategies eventually implode on businesses.

        2. Mike C.*

          I think you’re ignoring external effects, such as economic coercion, decoupling of productivity with median wages or the gutting of the labor movement. Agreements between employees and employers don’t happen in a vacuum.

    7. Christian Troy*

      I have been trying to get a job in research for about a year and a half and I noticed in my field, a lot of employers are able to get experienced candidates into more junior level positions because those people can’t get work. There is also the issue that more medical schools have been created so you also have some applicants applying into research positions because they can’t get into residences (or they’re a US citizen who went to a foreign medical school thinking it’d be easy to get a US residency). Instead of competing with other candidates with 1-2 years experience, now there’s someone who was a lab manager for five years trying to get the same job or someone with an MD from no name medical school looking to reapply to residency in another year or two.

      I also second what Leslie is saying; there are a lot of part time and FT contract jobs being created in my field as well.

      1. Anxa*

        I hear this hard.

        I wanted to be a lab technician when I graduated, but by the time I had a degree (degreed in Dec, walked/left univiserity in May) I had lost a lot of momentum and the economy crashed. I had a hard time finding a job in a commutable area. Volunteering was also difficult because I didn’t have a car. It’s one thing to get rides to work for a few weeks or months while you save up for a vehicle, etc. It’s another to ask others to get to more volunteerships.

        I gave up for a while and got a license in a related field. My internship went well and I was at the top of my cohort, but while I was there they put in a hiring freeze.

        I pulled back on my job search after years of rejection. I work in a part-time job I love that’s most costly aligned to my work experience I had in college, but decided to make another push for it. I live in a situation where it’s easier to volunteer, but the labs are full of pre-med students. I do feel for them having to take time out from their academic lives, but it’s also frustrating that there’s less stuff for me to do. It’s hard enough one there’s a surplus of un/der employed grads and students hoping for experience for grad school and for volunteerships and entry level positions without also having to compete with pre-med students for even unpaid positions.

        1. Petra*

          I know it’s been a couple days and you won’t even see this, but are you me? My story is EXACTLY the same. Except I did volunteer in a lab for about 6 months after I graduated. Eventually I had to get a job in a different industry. While my volunteer position was awesome, it was obviously unsustainable. Every couple years I tried to get into the sciences again, but the only jobs available for someone with just a bachelor’s degree are mind-numbing, repetitive lab tech jobs that I easily could have EASILY done in elementary school. Elementary school! I’m too proud to settle for one of those. I want to go back for a master’s or a Phd, but the problem now is that most companies in my area want an MD/Phd or even just an MD for their research positions. Masters’ grads are the new lab techs. Phds are apparantly useless and make you look overqualified for everything. I don’t even know what I want to do anymore.

          There are too many science grads these days. College is the new high school.

          1. Stephanie*

            My friend had a related story–she was in graduate school for a PhD in biology and switched a masters once she realized with her advisor/project, she’d be in school the better part of a decade and that the jobs weren’t there. She ended up working as a lab tech (in a job that definitely sounded like it didn’t need someone with a masters). She’s since found a better job, but it sounds rough out there in the sciences.

            This is why I sort of wince when people bemoan the lack of STEM grads. I know in some fields, there is a shortage, but that definitely doesn’t sound like the case in the life sciences.

            1. Petra*

              Yes, I should have clarified… life sciences! Most of my peers in the other STEM fields are doing great.

    8. Anxa*

      I’m certainly guilty of thinking of our (US) current economy as a bad one. It may sound like I’m being pessimistic, but it’s probably a bit of misplaced optimism—that this isn’t the new normal.

      I actually feel like a bit of a different person post-crash. I’ve always been risk-averse, but now I’m overcautious to the point of self-sabotage. I’m having a difficult time adapting to other changes since 2008, like maintaining privacy.

      But back to the economy itself: maybe I’m blaming too many problems on the bad economy. I certainly had more to do with my lack of employment during graduation than the state of the stock market or housing prices. I made my own mistakes. But I do think the economy has made it so much more difficult to rebound from mistakes.

      When I couldn’t find a job or internship in my field, I tried applying to jobs in retail and food service. I had never found difficulty with that in the old economy. The economy wasn’t the only thing that had changed (people look at unemployed graduates much differently than students), but it was so had to find anyone hiring even in the old ‘stand by’ jobs. Not only were there fewer positions, but retail and food service has moved its hiring almost completely online, meaning that if you don’t have a preapproved, yet perfectly suitable, personality, your chances are slashed.

      I think temp agencies were once supposedly easy to get in with, but I’ve only had one interview with one and that was based on a personal favor.

      I had friends with multiple internships and 3.8+ GPAs jobs bide time in retail. Many went back to school. I couldn’t get the jobs I had in high school. I’d been working informally my whole life and felt like I walked right into a wall or off a cliff. Things are better, I guess, but I still make a very low salary (4 figures annually). Even those who eventually got jobs when hiring picked up are struggling with debt accrued paying living expenses shortly after the crash. Some are awkwardly competing with newer grads without having the correlating extra experience.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      All great comments here. I’d like to add, let’s not forget how they play with the numbers so that it looks better on paper.
      I know people whose lives have been totally ruined by this depression, I know, we are supposed to call it a recession. Maybe it’s not as bad as the Great Depression but it is freakin’ bad. Anyway, there are people out there who because of age, employment status, etc will never get back what they have lost and probably can never retire.

      Someone mentioned the availability of retail jobs and food service jobs. These people are having to do the work of 2 or 3 people, that is why there are not many openings and employers are picky. I went into well known big box store today. I wanted to try on a few things and I needed the dressing room unlocked. I had to walk all the way to the front of the store to find an employee who was at the cash register. I said something about being short on people. They said they were unloading a truck. I have unloaded tractor trailers, so I know first hand that you cannot put 20 people on this- they will bump into each other and mow each other down. At that point, I realized they probably had two or three other people assigned to work today and those few people were doing the truck.
      I have read that this company is not doing that well, so I assume their response will be to cut staff even further.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I have an uncle who was a CFO of big retail companies.
        He said that one of his roles was to argue for MORE staff. “If you don’t have people in the shoe store to bring shoes for the buyers to try on, you won’t ever sell any shoes.” He said that most people think of CFOs as only cutting, cutting, cutting, but that he had to get the finance people to think the other direction.
        To spend, and to hire. Do it judiciously–that’s the challenge, he said, to figure out -when- you need someone in the shoe store to help customers.

        This came up when I told him that Macy’s had just lost a $50 sale because I’d picked something up from a jewelry carrel, looked at the 20 person line at the cash register, and decided it wasn’t worth it. “How many other people did a similar assessment?” I wondered.

    10. Ms. Didymus*

      I wonder the same thing because at my company we are struggling to find qualified applicants for most of our positions.

      Our benefits are great. We pay just above average for this field nationwide (which, in my town, is way above market). We have a great reputation. There has been no mashing together of duties. But for every position from our entry level to our skilled professionals it is taking us months to even get a small applicant pool in a nationwide search and often those applicants leave much to be desired.

      1. Bea W*

        What field?

        We have this issue in my group as well. We are looking for specialized skills sets and experience from a limited pool, but part of our problem is that my employer won’t offer perm positions with benefits. That really makes it difficult for us to attract the kind of talent we need. People at my level aren’t working contract positions, and they don’t get the experience or gain the skills we need by working contact positions. Unfortunately, in recently years my field has shifted to more contract and outsourcing work. There is a whole generation of people out there who just hop from contract to contract never having the opportunity to have a career progression, which is very different from 16 years ago when I started out. 10 or more years ago, people went into my field in perm positons and companies invested a lot in training us and developing employees. There were formal training or degree programs for what I do, and that hasn’t changed so much. People still only develop skills on the top and through being trained on the job, and those resources are not put into developing temps and contractors.

        Companies in my field no longer seem to want to invest in developing the skills of their entry level employees and instead want either already skilled and experience people to come in and magically know what to do or want entry-level people for a short term deliverable. Many outsource overseas the type of entry level work that is essential to getting into the field to be able to progress in skill level and gain experience. As a result I can totally see a situation developing where the industry has shot itself in the foot, creating a shortage of people with even mid-level skill and experience, because few people are able to get opportunities that allow them to get beyond learning and doing the basics.

        The upside is that I know if I were to be out of a job, I wouldn’t be out of work very long. The longest I spent on a job search was 6 months, when the economy was at its worst in my area and for my industry and there had been some big layoffs. What killed me there was lack of experience working in a specific environment and hiring managers who refused to consider candidates without it even if they all the other bells and whistles. I was actually asked if I had inadvertently left any jobs off my resume, because I had all the skills and experience they were looking for, but just not at the right type of employer. The industry was really super short-sighted then, and people either worked for one type of company and the other, and didn’t cross over. Now it’s different, probably due to the shortage of qualified talent and the fact that “sponsor” companies moved to outsourcing using the “functional service provider” companies from which they refused to hire people.

        My last job search lasted 4 months, only the last 2 of which I was really committed to getting out, and I had similar issues as before, but much less so. That time it was not having experience working specifically with oncology, and the oncology sector was engaging in the same stupid rules where despite the small pool of qualified applicants, anyone without prior work experience on that specific indication was automatically discarded. I’d see those jobs up month after month after month, asking the scarcest skill sets to my field AND oncology. They may as well have said “Must be a unicorn living in the South Pole”. *face palm*

        If my group engaged in these kind of arbitrary and outdated exclusionary criteria, we’d have ZERO qualified applicants. As it is now, just based on the general skill set and years of experience, we’re happy if we get 2 or 3 good resumes. For hiring managers looking for only the more common skill sets and nothing really above and beyond typical experience, the “good resume-to-good interview” ratio is depressingly low. People can’t even get past the basic phone screen.

        1. Quirk*

          It’s very similar in my location and field – companies don’t want to train people, and there aren’t really enough entry-level jobs for the graduates, but the competition for people with even a little experience is intense. Two years is the threshold; at two years of experience, recruiters swarm over you as soon as you upload a CV and it’s easy to set up lots of interviews.

          Companies are looking shortsightedly at the immediate bottom line. Few of them show loyalty to their staff, and their staff then reciprocate by taking care of their own interests first. It would take a seismic cultural shift for this to improve.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I think 3-5 would be good. But if other questions come up conversationally during the interview, maybe 14 would be fine. But 14 all at once at the end would seem excessive to me.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Really? That still seems like a lot. 60 minutes of conversation; at least 10 (and probably more!) should be reserved for the interviewee’s questions; another 5 for getting settled, and you’re looking at 3 minutes per question. Maybe if you’re including follow up questions in the 14 (e.g. “Tell me about a time when you made a major mistake at work. What did you do after you resolved the immediate problems?” then “What happened the next time you ran that process/held that event/etc.?”).

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          Yeah, I was considering those as questions. Most of the interviews I’ve gone to lately have asked SO MANY questions – even in an hour! When I’ve been the interviewer, it’s usually around 10 planned questions, with follow-up questions.

    2. ThatGirl*

      It might be. Depends how complex or lengthy of answers you’re looking for. Are some of them follow-ups to previous questions?

      I think it would help to be adaptable and be able to cross some off as you go if they have already been answered in the course of conversation or if they don’t seem applicable.

      1. junipergreen*

        Ditto to being adaptable – I’ve found the most successful interviews I’ve conducted are ones where I had a list of questions but ended up having a great organic conversation that taught me more about the candidate than my own prep questions would have! Now I treat my questions less formally and think of them as an informal checklist.

        1. Tara*

          We had too many multipronged questions yesterday and I don’t know if it was the person we interviewed or the questions, but the interview was not good. She was completely unprepared for even the basic questions like why do you want to work here.

          1. Bea W*

            She was completely unprepared for even the basic questions like why do you want to work here.

            I’d chalk that up to the person you were interviewing. The questions may be iffy, but if you can’t answer “Why do you want to work here?”, I can’t imagine anything beyond that would get a better response.

            1. Afiendishthingy*

              Haha I had an interview the last time I was job hunting in which I was totally unprepared for that very question. Turns out I really didn’t want to work there, and they were none too excited about me either. It was an awkward but mercifully short interview.

            2. TootsNYC*

              I would never ask that.

              I assume the real answer is, “Because I need a job, and you have one.”
              And even with doing some homework, I’m not sure it’s fair to assume the job candidate knows all that terribly much about what makes your company a good place to work.

              I ask, “Why do you like this work/field?”

        2. the gold digger*

          great organic conversation

          This. Go with the flow. I was interviewing a customer the other day for some market research. A co-worker from another country that shall not be named but is known for being inflexible was on the call as well. I wanted general information about the issue and was happy to let the customer ramble while I took notes – we still don’t know what we don’t know – but my co-worker was determined to stick to the list of questions we had drafted – to the point that she asked questions for which she could have inferred the answers from what the customer had already said. I was a bit annoyed.

          1. Bea W*

            From the candidate perspective, the best interview experiences I’ve had felt like there was a great flow to the conversation and it naturally led to the exchange of details not just about me for them, but about the company and team I would be working with. As a candidate I expect to have to answer a lot of formal questions, but a good conversation can prompt and allow me to highlight relevant and unique experience that perhaps otherwise would have been missed by standard questions or general assumptions about by my role.

    3. Artemesia*

      I organize by category not question e.g. maybe 4-6 types of things I want to discuss in the interview — and then there are prompts arranged under those in case the details I am interested in don’t naturally emerge. You want it to be a conversation guided around categories you are interested in exploring. By having an outline of a handful of categories with additional prompts below that, you can usually achieve this.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I usually don’t count or even have a prepared list of questions. I’ll have two or three questions I definitely want covered. Other than that, I’m hoping to make it as much of a natural conversation as possible and less of a question-answer-question-answer-question-answer… format.

    5. Canadian Jen*

      It depends on the type of questions: are they short yes/no types or “tell me about a time” type.

      And usually the number of questions I ask dictate the time I plan for the interview. Have you thought about running through the interview questions with a colleague or someone already in the position?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That last part is key. You want to figure out what you want to ask and what it will take to get the information you need, and then figure out how much time to schedule. Otherwise you can end up making hires with insufficient information.

  23. Sutter*

    I was offered a promotion, and I start my new job next week! Woohoo! No question here, just wanted to share some good news and excitement :D

  24. CollegeAdmin*

    PSA: Everybody, take a minute and adjust your office chair. Play with whatever knobs and levers it has and find comfort.

    I did this with mine when I changed offices six months ago, but it was never quite right, and I constantly found myself leaning toward the monitor. Today on a whim I tried adjusting it, and WOW. I’m sitting up outrageously high, but my feet (in heels) are perfectly flat on the floor and I’m sitting up straight and it’s like magic!

    Now to find things to boost my monitor up to eye level…

      1. Miki*

        1. Try lifting it up: really: I tried, and it actually has some sort of extendable thing inside it, so it went up. Talk about revelation!
        2. If you don’t have that type of monitor I know my very tall coworker put a few big, heavy, thick books as a monitor base. Yes, it looked weird, but it worked for him. Might work for you too. (Book source: we work in library and there were plenty of old discarded books to use)

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          I have three old textbooks/instruction manuals under it now, and the top is a few inches below my line of sight. Sadly, the column doesn’t extend, so I guess I need to grab another unused book from a coworker.

    1. twig*

      A couple of spare reams of paper should do the trick — monitor-wise.

      Now I’m going to have to play with my chair to make sure I’m properly situated (maybe these headaches aren’t because I have too much hair?)

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Note that, ergonomically, the TOP of the monitor should be right at eye level; looking down is not nearly as much of a strain on your neck as looking up. I did that for a nurse at a clinic I was at and she had a similar reaction to yours!

      1. Lore*

        I don’t think that would be possible in my cube set up (for a person as short as me)–if I raised my chair enough to get eye level with the top of the monitor, my legs wouldn’t go under the desk!

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          Lore, you could maybe put something under the monitor to boost it (rather than boost yourself!).

          I can’t cross my legs under my desk anymore now that I’m this high, but I figure that’s actually good for me, since it keeps my back straight.

          1. Lore*

            But the top of the monitor is already above my eye level, so I don’t want to boost it, right? And I can’t lower it because, desk. Not being able to cross my legs under my desk is okay. but I need to edit papers on my desk and, well, I have short little arms, so if I can’t get my knees under my desk at all, then it’s an uncomfortable stretch to reach the tops of the papers that are on my desk.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Yes, you don’t want to boost the monitors now. Your desk should probably be lower — this is the problem with one-size-fits-all office furniture. Or you could raise your chair for computer work, especially if you can get a keyboard stand, and lower it to work on papers. But you probably have to refer to computer documents while editing papers, so it sounds like there’s no good ergonomic solution with your current office setup.

              I sympathize. I’ve been coveting a standing desk for years now, but I’m reluctant to spend my own money on something to put in an office that I might not have for much longer.

              1. Lore*

                We have a convertible standing desk option, but I’ve been requesting a larger monitor, which wouldn’t work with the standing desk apparatus, and I’m reluctant to torpedo my request for the monitor because the difficulty of working on two documents side-by-side on the monitor is a bigger issue for me right now.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, I think it’s slightly more important that your feet be flat on the floor, your thighs be parallel to the floor, and your lower legs be straight up and down. Of course, we all shift around, but that is a very good guide to the ideal chair height. But I figured I’d mention the eye level guideline since most people raise the monitors too high, and if that case it’s easy to avoid.

    3. Ad Astra*

      You know, I’ve messed with my new office chair a few times since I started this job and I don’t think it’s working! It still feels like I’m sitting way too low. But I also think maybe spending my childhood hunched over in front of a PC has taught me to sit wrong or something.

  25. Snow White*

    I have another weird one. I have just taken over a role which was left vacant for 2 years and tasks covered by the finance department.

    Because I am new, I am noticing things which make sense but are just – not treating adults as adults – and not sure how to approach.

    The snack cupboard is kept locked, as with any alcohol in the office – but so is the drinks fridge.
    Every Friday they down tools early and have a social hour where drinks are served, but employees are under strict instructions to not drink soft drinks placed in the fridge at any other time than 5pm on Fridays. They have even tried to find a lock to the fridge.

    Is this a battle worth having? I find if you treat people like children, they will act like children in other areas – which is something I do not want to deal with…

    1. Artemesia*

      They don’t provide free soft drinks. They aren’t required to do so. They offer them once a week as a treat. I am not sure how not providing free soft drinks is treating people like children.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      We have a similar situation, except the soft drinks are reserved for catered meetings and they’re kept in a locked cabinet. Not sure why I would think I’m entitled to a soft drink anytime other than when I’m in a catered meeting.

      We do have a snack bar and pop machines where you can purchase drinks, though. I can see people being frustrated if they had to go offsite to get a soft drink when there are some right there, but you know, bring one from home or whatever.

    3. fposte*

      Right now I’m not seeing what the battle would be aside from “Give us free stuff more.”

      If they lock the only fridge for fear that people will take drinks unpermitted, that’s another matter. But that doesn’t sound like what’s happening–it just sounds like they’ve limited when the free stuff is available. I don’t see that as treating staff like children.

      1. Snow White*

        It is where they keep milk for tea and coffee and bottled water, so essentially – they are heading towards people having to ask for the key every time they want water or milk.

        1. Snow White*

          They also act as waitresses – so people have to ask for what drink they want on the Friday evening

        2. fposte*

          But that hasn’t happened yet, right? And having people specify their drink isn’t unreasonable.

          I still don’t think there’s anything to fight about here. Unless you’re saying you think they shouldn’t offer soft drinks at all? But I think your co-workers might not appreciate that. Maybe you’ve been in more generous offices, but it’s pretty common for workplaces not to give out free drinks to everybody all the time, and I think it would be a bad move to complain that yours didn’t.

        3. Canadian Jen*

          Can the soft drinks in the fridge be allocated a specific place in the fridge – such as its own shelf or in the drawers? Then place a sign on them specifying it’s exclusively for the Friday social hour? I agree that having to ask for the key to get milk or cream or bottled water is an uneccessary hassle.

    4. Amtelope*

      If people could drink the soft drinks all the time, they’d have to provide a lot more soft drinks. Keeping the fridge stocked with free soda would be a significantly bigger expense than having free sodas once a week, so I don’t think it’s unfair or “not worth it” to enforce this rule.

  26. petpet*

    I work at a university and we hire students to work part-time in our department. I’ve recently taken a more active role in hiring them, and I’ve been baffled by a pattern I’ve noticed. The students we interview are consistently showing up 10 to 15 minutes EARLY for their interviews. They walk into our office and we don’t really have a lobby or waiting area, so my co-supervisor and I generally drop what we’re doing and begin the interview early. It happens much more often than not, to the point that I’m wondering if there’s some career center on campus giving out bad advice. Yesterday’s student took the cake – she showed up for her 10:00 interview at 9:35. Has anyone else noticed anything like this?

    1. TheLazyB (uk)*

      I would say ‘you’re really early, please can you come back in X minutes?’ in your circumstances. Especially for the 25 min early one! You’re just reinforcing the behaviour otherwise.
      And maybe have a quiet word with the uni’s career service?! ;)

      1. TheLazyB (uk)*

        And say in your email offering the interview ‘please show up no earlier than five (?) minutes before your interview time’.

    2. Artemesia*

      It is better to be early than late for an interview (not 25 minutes, but 10 is reasonable and expected). Your problem is not having a place for them to wait. Can you put a couple of comfortable chairs in the hall if there is no waiting space? It is a bit much to expect students to hover or orbit the building waiting for the precise moment of the appointment. There is nothing wrong with asking them to take a seat and you will be with them at the appointed hour.

      1. petpet*

        I guess I should clarify – we’re in a library, and there is a lobby/waiting area with chairs in the main entrance to the building. (I recall waiting there myself when I showed up early for my interview a few years ago!) Our office is in a closed-off room with our department’s name on the door, and the students are coming into the office and say “Hi, are you Jane? I’m here for my interview.” There’s no place inside our office that would be good as a waiting area.

        If I were really a stickler, I could direct them back out to the main lobby until their scheduled time, but I’ve been taking my cues from my co-supervisor, who’s managed the students for years (I’m new to the role), and she always decides to start the interview right away. The interviews are VERY brief, 15 minutes at the absolute most, so it doesn’t disrupt our workflow very much. I’m more annoyed on principle, I guess. But I think I would really come across as a blunt disciplinarian if I asked the students to wait outside just on principle, especially since that’s not how we usually do things.

        1. KR*

          I feel like it’s not unreasonable for you to say that you’re not quite ready for the interview but you will come get them in the waiting area when you’re ready. Also, is there a front desk where they can check in to alert you that they’re here? When you set up the interview you could tell them to check in at the front desk when they arrive, the front desk could call you and let you know they are here, tell the applicant to wait in the waiting area and you can come out and get them at the actual interview time or earlier if you so choose.

        2. Artemesia*

          Then when you set the appointment, tell them to wait in the lobby and come by at the appointed time because there is no place to wait in the office. Or is it really a problem if they come early if you are in a position to interview them?

          1. petpet*

            It’s not really a problem so much as an annoyance. A lot of times I’ll make a mental list of things I want to do before the interview, like completing a few work tasks and taking a bathroom break. They’re never really things that can’t wait 15 minutes, which is why I think my coworker is always happy to do the interviews ahead of schedule, but it really rankles me to have my plans thrown off. That’s probably something I need to work on getting over, though.

            1. TootsNYC*

              Maybe what you need to work on getting over is the assumption that you aren’t entitled to continue with your time the way you had planned.

              Those small things have value, and you are entitled to keep them in their spot.

              Try that–send the student out to wait for you for a few minutes, and then take your bathroom break and do whatever else.

        3. College Career Counselor*

          I suspect that this may be a function of their class schedule. Do classes let out at :50 or :30? That may explain why they’re 10-25 minutes early.

          To be honest, MOST undergraduates I’ve encountered tend to run ten minutes LATER than the appointed time.

          1. petpet*

            I thought that too, but classes aren’t in session right now and multiple students have still shown up early.

            1. Ad Astra*

              They may also be at the mercy of a bus schedule. When your only choices are way early or way late, you choose way early. But it’s pretty reasonable to set your expectations ahead of time, either on the phone or by email: If you arrive more than 10 minutes before the interview, please wait in the main lobby until your scheduled time slot.

              1. RKB*

                I know my professors love it when I show up to appointments earlier. We get through stuff quicker and then they go back to their work. This pattern followed me through my BA and MSc, so I could see why students are showing up early.

                I did that myself for my current jobs. I did wait in the lobby until 5 minutes before, but habits are habits.

        4. Ad Astra*

          Would you be willing to sort of escort them back to the main lobby where you want them to wait? That would come off as more hospitable than just sending them away, but you still get them out of your hair while you’re tending to whatever else needs done.

        5. Rebecca in Dallas*

          I think directing them to the main lobby to wait until the scheduled time is reasonable. I tend to run early for things, especially things like interviews. I am terrified of being late due to traffic or something outside of my control so I end up leaving way earlier than is really necessary. It would not hurt my feelings at all if someone wasn’t ready to see me (although I now have more sense than to actually show up in the interviewer’s office that early).

        6. TootsNYC*

          Then just say, “Terrific. I can’t start early, so please just take a seat and I’ll come get you.”

          And also, if they’re students, I think you could say something mentoring to them, “If I could give you some advice–of course you don’t want to be late for an interview, but it’s also awkward for the interviewer if you’re too early. If you find yourself arriving more than 5 minutes early, find a way to unobtrusively kill some time.”

          They may be expecting to find a receptionist, etc., and for it to not be that intrusive.

    3. misspiggy*

      General advice is to come a few minutes early, so that you can compose yourself while waiting and show that you can be punctual. If you don’t have a waiting area it’s probably best to tell candidates this, and not to come early.

    4. overeducated and underemployed*

      This doesn’t seem too bonkers to me – if they’re further away than walking distance, it’s better to plan for 10-20 minutes of possible traffic or bus delays than come in late, right? Maybe you could just let them know there isn’t a waiting area so they don’t need to plan to come early?

    5. Jennifer*

      Maybe they’re getting there via public transport and just don’t want to stand outside in the cold for 15 minutes waiting to be on time.

      1. alice*

        This is me. I always show up 10-15 minutes early for interviews (I never expect to be interviewed when I arrive though). I had an interview this morning at 9 and got there at about 8:45. I didn’t realize that the building didn’t open until 9, so I was kind of awkwardly waiting outside in the cold for ten minutes. And they acted annoyed with me when they finally opened the door.

        Is it a bad thing to show up early? I’ve never seen anyone have a problem with this (except for you and my interviewers today). Is it more professional to show right at the exact time?

        1. Older not yet wiser*

          It is definitely more professional to show up right at the exact time. For instance when my business is hiring we simply don’t know what to do with you when you arrive more than ten minutes early. You will just end up standing awkwardly by the door to the office suite – which is disruptive and annoying to the three workers in that small area. Lately we have had more than a couple people arrive almost a half hour early and we just directed them to the cafe located downstairs and told them to come back at the appointed time.
          What I have done in the past when I had an interview was plan to arrive at my destination about half an hour early. That gives a margin for the unexpected – traffic, weather, getting lost, etc. Then if there were no delays and I was early, I’d check out the surrounding neighborhood, find a public restroom to primp for my interview, have a coffee… basically find some way to kill time, and then show up at the office for my interview no earlier than two or three minutes before my appointment.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I would say kill the time by waiting somewhere they can’t see you–even if you only just walk around the block, or to sit in your car, depending on the geography.

    6. Marzipan*

      My interviewees often do this (in a similar context). I don’t think anyone’s giving them advice to do it; I think it’s a combination of overestimating the time needed to get to whichever building they need to get to (in my case, it’s probably not somewhere they’ve been before), and nerves due to relative inexperience in being interviewed. Plus, in that sort of setup, once you’ve come in you can’t really go away again, so by the time they arrive and realise there isn’t really a reception or anywhere to wait, they’re sort of stuck. When I can, I try to interview in a location where there is somewhere for them to wait, but obviously that’s not always possible. I guess otherwise maybe on your interview instructions you could direct them towards anywhere nearby that’s a good place to wait (“The office is located at number 22 on the map, close to the Wild Bean Café (number 15)”). Or, if there is any relatively nearby seated area, or a lobby or reception for another department who you could ask to babysit them for a while if they arrive early, you could give them directions to that location and instruct them that you’ll meet them there at, say, 9.55 for their 10 o’clock interview?

    7. Kenzie*

      Do they know beforehand that there is no secretary/lobby/waiting area? Could you be mentioning this when setting up interview times, “Please come to x-university office at 10:00am for the interview, please know that there is no waiting area so plan to arrive on time and we will meet you at the door” or “due to busy schedules please plan to arrive at the specified time” something like that?

      Students may not have ever been to your office/building before and not realize that there is no where to wait. They may also be coming directly after a class and just heading straight to you rather than hanging out elsewhere.

      I think it is pretty typical (not bad) advice to plan on arriving 10-15 minutes early to an interview, in case of delays you would then be on time, although most jobs do have some sort of entry procedure/sign in/secretary/reception which takes a few minutes to get through. As this is not the case in your situation, you may need to be more explicit about coming on time.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think it’s better to plan to arrive at the building 15 minutes before, so you have a cushion, but I think it’s really disruptive to announce yourself 15 minutes before.

    8. fposte*

      I think ten minutes early is actually pretty reasonable; they’re not going to intuit that you’re in an atypical area and can’t deal with it. I’d just alert your interviewees to the fact that there’s no place to wait and you can’t greet them until the time, so please don’t arrive earlier than 5 minutes before (or whatever). And if they do, say you’re sorry there’s no place to wait, please come back at 10.

      1. jpixel*

        Agreed – I don’t have a lobby with seating for interviewees and I’m going to start suggesting to candidates that they should not check in more than 5 minutes early and let them know there are multiple coffee shops in the area if they have time to kill. And just to rant about something related – my building lobby is pretty big, servicing multiple companies, and there are always dozens of people milling around waiting to be picked up mixed in with people coming and going. I hate going to pick up an interviewee and having to awkwardly guess which person I’m looking for. I try to do a little research ahead of time – linkedin, personal websites, etc. but I’ve had cases where I wasn’t even sure by the person’s name if I should be looking for a man or a woman. There has to be a better way (other than sending someone else to do it for me, ha)!

        1. Tepid Tea Water*

          Interviewing for a position at a large tower downtown, my interviewer told me that it was easy to figure out which people were there for an interview. They were always the ones sitting uncomfortably straight wearing clothes that although nice, didn’t quite match the style of the company.

          It was an interesting idea.

    9. Pineapple Incident*

      I work in an inpatient setting in a hospital, and my boss has been hiring since she got here. Candidates for positions with the unit have consistently shown up 10+ minutes early, and I’m not sure what gave any of them the impression that their interviewer’s schedule allows for interruptions ~30 minutes earlier than they were supposed to be here. Usually my boss is in another meeting at these weird times some interviewees have arrived- the earliest was 1:10pm for a 2pm interview.

      I’m the secretary for the area; I have to send them away and ask them to come back at their scheduled time, since we don’t have anywhere for them to wait other than our breakroom (awkward!) or our manager’s office (often where the aforementioned meeting is taking place with another department rep.).

  27. The Cosmic Avenger*


    Just had to vent that the position I was going to be offered is being “reengineered”. The hiring manager said that people over his head decided to go in a different direction, and he sounded very frustrated about it. I wasn’t counting on it; in fact, this was the one where I wasn’t sure they would offer me enough for me to take it. However, it would have been nice to have the choice.

    I’m lucky, at least I’m still employed, but this process has made me realize that I’m stagnating in my current job, and I need a change. I do have another prospect, so we’ll see….

    1. fposte*

      Oh, bummer, CA; this whole process has been pretty wearing. It wouldn’t hurt to polish up the resume and see what else is around; even if you stay, that’s then a choice rather than a rut.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks, fposte. I’m happy enough that I’ve kind of been looking very casually, but the other opportunity is internal, so I think I’ll wait a few weeks and see if that pans out, because I really do like it here.

  28. MostCommonLastName*

    I have a situation at work that I’m wondering if I should have handled differently, though there still hasn’t been any resolution. Sorry, this is probably going to be kind of long.

    My company, which is quite small, has just recently added a new position. When it was first spoken about, we were told the focus would be on contracts with some quality control that would overlap with some other positions. That was all good.

    My position involves the scheduling and coordinating of our off-site workers, and I was told when I was hired it would involve their training as well. Since I started, I’ve been here less than a year, I’ve also been doing all the hiring because we were really short on people. Our work is somewhat seasonal, and since our quiet season set in, I’ve been amping up to do more hiring as we’ve been growing a lot.

    Then early this week I get an email clarifying the management of our off-site workers. All of the job duties I’ve been doing, with the exception of scheduling and liaising with our workers and including the training I had been told I would be doing, have been reassigned to the new position with me as an assistant when needed. This happened with no discussion, just an email.

    Needless to say I was shocked. I sent an email to our boss asking if this was because she had concerns with my work, and if she did, if I could address them. She’s back in the office today, she was away on business, but I haven’t heard anything from her.

    My other concern is that while I’m working on a special project this year in our quiet period, next year that won’t exist. I know there had been talk of making my job seasonal, but it was decided to make it permanent full-time, so now I’m worried my boss will change her mind. I’m hoping to discuss what she sees happening next winter with me, if she ever talks to me about this. I’m just wondering if anyone has any advice for this situation/anything they think I should have done differently. Thanks.

    1. fposte*

      I might have made my query about this change more general, rather than asking about concerns about my work, because I’d want to talk about the implications even if she loves me work. I don’t think it really matters, though, and I’d have used your wording in the meeting anyway.

      I agree you have to talk to your boss. However, she should have talked to you about this before it happened, and she didn’t, so I’m thinking she’s not great at this bit. Does somebody schedule her time? I’d proactively book a meeting, if so. If not, I’d check back next week and say “Could we schedule a meeting about this?” And if you happened to see her today, I might say that in passing to her face to face.

      But I don’t like this much either. Whether it’s about your work quality or something else, it was done weirdly, and it’s not a sign that points to your being celebrated and advancing there. So keep the resume ready and talk to your boss about the future.

      1. MostCommonLastName*

        Thanks for the reply! I did get a response and she says none of my job duties have changed, but the wording of her email seems to indicate otherwise, so for now, I’m just going to proceed as usual. But I will be keeping a close eye on things

  29. Dawn*

    Hoo boy just wanna comment that during the week between Christmas and New Year’s I was at the office bored outta my skull going “OK Dawn, there will come a time where you will look back on this week fondly.”

    That time is this week. SUPER BUSY PHEW!!! Yay for three day weekend!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My team has had realllllllly light workload since New Year’s (I haven’t– but the stuff I need to do is separate from their duties) and they’ve been freaking out a little because it feels so strange. I keep begging them to take advantage of it and get all their online shopping done. Personally, I’m just happy things are steady and manageable for now.

  30. Nervous Accountant*

    Checking emails while on vacation–so what’s normal and not normal? Is it one of those things that depends on your industry and office?

    Since I became full time, I’ve taken a few short trips, missing maybe 2, not more than 3 days of work at the most. I took my first full vacation (6 work days!) this month. While away, I’ll check my emails off and on and respond to a very small amount (usually to high priority clients or coworkers/colleagues). I did this because…I’d rather take a few minutes during my time off to look over my emails and figure out what’s a priority and plan my work week rather than come back to work to dozens/hundreds of emails and put in a shitton of extra hours during the week to catch up. To add to that, even though I put 2 people as my emergency contact, they can’t help with very much (1 because she’s still new and the other won’t bc he’s too busy and swamped w his own work).

    At the same time, all the emails send me in to a weird rage. It’s like a trainwreck I can’t keep my eyes and attention away from.

    FWIW, no one has ever said NOT to do it. My boss will occasionally email, but I’m never sure if she’s just WFH or on vacation. My direct supervisor did the same, he was out for about 10 days and emailed once in a while. I did this so that I”d be on top of my work and seem dedicated to my work, but I don’t know if it’s worth the headache now…

    1. Sparrow*

      If I’m traveling somewhere on vacation, I never check my work email. If I’m spending time at home, I might log in to check on things and respond to a few items so I’m not swamped when I get back. I work in IT in a system analyst role and the general culture is pretty relaxed and people are not expected to check email in while on vacation. I always designate a back-up i my out of office auto-reply and that person and my manager are aware of the projects I’m working on. My manager as my cell phone, but I know she won’t call unless it is a critical item.

    2. Kristine*

      My manager and I made a deal that I would check my email once in the morning and once in the afternoon when I’m on vacation (weekends as well) and respond to anything high priority. This deal was made because when I took one day off I got multiple texts/phone calls about “emergencies” and asking why I wasn’t responding to email. So this was my compromise. Like you, I get nervous that things will fall apart if I don’t keep up on everything, so it works for my own sanity and my manager’s expectations.

    3. Kenzie*

      I don’t think there is any “normal”. For me, if I will be gone for 1-2 weeks and have reasonable access to the internet then I will check my email a couple times if I have some downtime. Ill respond only if it is something urgent/high priority that I know I can help with in 20min or less. If I will only be out for 1-3 days, I won’t bother checking my email at all.

      If you’re unsure, ask your boss/manager what they think. They may ask that you check in mid-week just in case something important popped up. Instead maybe block off some time the day you return to focus on emails. During vacation plan to only check once for 30min, so you don’t get too wrapped up and spoil your vacation.

    4. Marketer*

      I usually always check my emails on my days off and just respond back to high priority ones that I see they haven’t cc’d else that can help them. While I was on vacation, I did a lot of forwarding even though I had an out of office on with contacts. I answered just a handful; my boss usually does as well when she’s away. She did basically say “don’t worry about this place while you’re gone” but I’m like you and don’t want to come back to 235929035 emails after being away.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’m hourly, so I don’t do it unless I’m trying to get hold of my boss to say I’m ill and can’t come in. When I worked from abroad, I clocked in first and THEN checked my email. If I weren’t hourly, I wouldn’t touch it if I were on official PTO. I doubt I’d be happy doing it on nights and weekends, either. :\

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it’s industry-specific. It probably is more organization-specific or job-specific. I’ve worked at places you were supposed to be checking email occasionally during vacation and other places you were not supposed to be checking at all (and would get yelled at for checking). I’ve also mainly worked in schools and generally during school vacations (as opposed to personal vacations not during a traditional vacation time), checking email doesn’t even make any sense, because almost no one will be sending you any.

      1. Jules the First*

        It depends on a few things. If my holiday has to overlap with my number 2, then yes, I will check email. If most of my team is out of the office and we have skeleton cover, I will check my email.

        Otherwise? My external out of office gives the dates I’ll be away from the office and a triage email for urgent queries which is checked every working day by someone (one of our lovely receptionists, one of the pa team) who can redirect things to appropriate cover. My internal out of office warns that I’m not checking emails but will respond to urgent requests via text.

    7. MaryMary*

      It depends. I took the week between Christmas and New Years off, but I had a couple projects in progress so I checked email several times a day. This summer, though, I took a week and checked once a day, if that. I can’t remember the last time I completely unplugged. Part of it is personal preference, I’d rather not come back to hundreds of emails on my first day. Part of it is defense, I have clients and coworkers who will call me if something blows up, but if I can head off a problem by sending a quick email, I’d rather do that.

    8. AnotherFed*

      It totally depends, even just in my office. I have the kind of backup who can stand in for me if they’re very well pre-briefed by me, but who can’t really field true pop up fires. If I’m just out for a couple of days, I tend not to bother checking, because things will either have been solved or be in full swing when I get back. If it’s a major holiday, where almost everyone else will be out of the office, I don’t bother checking email because there’s no one going to be in to send emails, and if something major happened that we need to respond to, they’d call. If it’s just a normal week and I’m off to go to a wedding or some other big event (not my idea of a vacation), I’ll often check email and handle urgent stuff. That means I don’t come back to a flood plus I get a couple of hours of introvert time under an excuse people are good about respecting.

    9. periwinkle*

      I think it could be more specific to individuals or departmental culture. In my current group we have two people (including our manager) who tend to check/respond while on vacation. They don’t need to and there is not an expectation that they do so – it’s just their always-on personalities. A few of our internal customers respond even when their calendars and OOO messages say they’re on vacation. Most people here, though, lock up their computers and relax instead!

    10. RKB*

      I check mine because occasionally a shift goes up for grabs (another clerk needs the day off) and if I’m free… I want that shift!

    11. Bea W*

      I avoid work things on vacation just for the reason you describe. It’s impossible to step away from a trainwreck, and if the point of vacation is to get a break from work, working defeats the purpose.

      It also kills me to think I am using paid time off doing work that I would be getting paid for if I hadn’t called it vacation time. IMO you may as well just light a bucket of cash on fire.

    1. MAB*

      Best: I went to an industry conference this week and was one of the youngest managers there AND I was able to offer 1 employee a new position and another employee a promotion.

      Worst: I caught an employee in a lie and it is a fire-able offence. I am not making a move without my boss in town, which will not happen until next week.

    2. Ama*

      Best: Successfully launched major project that I was given less than a month ago – similar projects are usually launched on a timeline of 2-3 months. This was slightly smaller scale, but really only about 10% less work.

      Worst: Because I had to launch that project, I am way behind on the project I was planning to have all January to focus on. At least the deadline on this one is a bit more flexible — I want to have it done by the end of the month but it could push a week or two if necessary.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: 2 interviews next week! Handed in my notice at work!

      Worst: still being bored at work…

    4. overeducated and underemployed*

      Best: getting to work from home today, saving myself a 4 hour round trip.

      Worst: not actually having enough hours of work to cover the costs of day care for the first 2 weeks of this new job. Boss told me to plan around 20 hours per week, which requires 3 days of care, and I break even on that at 15 hours (so yeah, small margins of profit here). Due to some changes in the project, last week there was 14.75 hours worth of work (rounding up!), so I lost a few bucks, and this week I’m up to 13 and not sure how much more I can stretch my tasks out. I think boss may be overestimating how long this work takes.

      Need to talk about this with boss, obviously, but since we’re both working from home today, I’m not sure if I should just leave it for next week or raise it over email (“hey, just FYI, I don’t want to log more hours than I’m working, but as it takes me 15 hours to break even on the costs of being available for 20, can we either guarantee 15 hours of work/pay, or reduce my availability until the work increases?”). The work probably will increase in another week or two, so this may solve itself, but I am annoyed to be going into the red right now.

    5. katamia*

      Best: restarted my old job again. Kind of a low best because it’s not a good job, but it’s money. Too bad money isn’t much of a motivator for me because I still won’t be making enough to support myself, so it all feels vaguely pointless. *sigh*

      Worst: As you may have guessed from my “best,” I’m really down about my career and prospects. It just feels like I’ll never get anything good (by which I mean “I can support myself on this income,” so it’s not like I have particularly high standards here). I do have a job I want to try for in a few months to a year (it would require moving, which I’m not up for right now), but even though I’m qualified for it, I feel like there are probably so many people out there with better experience that I don’t have a shot anyway even though I’d be really, really good at it. (Story of my life: I have the proper background knowledge and would be really, really good at something, but I don’t have the right experience or education for it–reading about something for fun counts for nothing.)

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        Hey, I’m sorry! I feel the same way a lot of the time, and also feel frustrated about working while not actually making a livable wage. It’s tough, and I hope things turn around soon. Until then, all you can do is keep on keeping on, and know you’re not alone.

        1. katamia*

          Thanks. I have a lot of people in my life telling me this should be easy for me, and it’s really nice just to have someone understand that it isn’t as easy as they seem to think it should be.

    6. Jules the First*

      Did a probation-end review with one of my team today, and when HR asked what the best thing was about her first six months working here, she turned red and said it was working with me because she’d learned so much in such a short time.

      Useless girl (whom frequent readers may recall made a fireable mistake just a few months ago) passed her probation, despite HR having told me in October that they were extending her probation and disciplining her. They did neither.

      1. Jules the First*

        I take it back…new low point for the week: left the office late and ended up witnessing a ‘one under’ on my train home. Second one in five years. Not sleeping tonight and hoping my therapist can squeeze me in tomorrow. Send fluffy kitty thoughts, please.

    7. Merry and Bright*

      Best: I got outside funding for a course I want to take. My own (Govt) organisation agreed to the course but not the funding but I have found a source from another Govt agency. Next week I will tell my manager the good news.

      Worst: The amount of time I have spent on the IT helpline this week.

    8. Num Lock*

      BEST: Last day at horrible, horrible Toxic-Now-Old-Job was this week! I feel so much better already. I’m sleeping better, I can actually get up at a reasonable hour, etc. And hearing about continued BS from OldJob… just filing it under “Reasons I Quit.” And I just found out that my chubby kitty is no longer chubby, all his blood tests are normal and he can start eating more food! 11 lbs of weight loss!

      WORST: Nothing can bring me down right now. Nothing. NewJob starts on Monday!

    9. LPBB*

      Best: I had an in-person interview on Wed for a job that was practically designed for me and I felt like it went really well.

      Worst: That job is a 6 month contract *at best* and they are very very doubtful that there will be any funding to continue it longer than that.

    10. Jen*

      Worst: got laid off This week. Extremely unexpected, huge blow. I am 50% of our household income.


      -support from my entire company except our president, who made the decision. All c-suite staff told me they had no idea, what a terrible decision and now they feel their own jobs are at risk. My team (~20) was told and two of my directors were in such shock they didn’t understand, one of my reports called me crying thinking it might have been her fault due to some issues her team had lately (totally unrelated!!), former boss who moved elsewhere (and up) in the company personally phones our president and HR to tell them this was the dumbest decision they have ever made. All team members (ones that weren’t crying) have been 1000% supportive, two told me I was the best thing that ever happened to them/the company.
      -was offered a very decent severence package which my lawyer thinks she can negotiate up even more
      – timing works so I can now help my elderly mom through some surgery (had planned on springing to upgrade some home care).
      – and most importantly….got test results back and the baby I am having in 5 months is healthy as can be!

      Note to all-: make sure you I’ve below your means! DH and I were temped to buy a house that we could have easily afforded, and instead bought one we could afford on one of our salaries. We have enough saved up that it will be a long time before I “have” to go back to work. Truthfully I don’t “have” to; I want to.

      1. SL #2*

        So sorry about your job, but at the same time, so glad that you seem to have everything in a place where it’s not a huge blow to the finances!

    11. Hattie McDoogal*

      Best: had a phone interview on Wednesday. I just got an email notification from them that I won’t be moving forward to an in-person interview, which was not unexpected — I’m a profoundly unimpressive job candidate, especially over the phone, and I had zero experience in the field (accounting), but they told me they called me because they liked my application and cover letter. So it’s nice to know I can do at least *something* right.

      Worst: construction at work making major headaches and taking way longer than anticipated. We have no front door and have to take a detour through the warehouse to get in and out, which, aside from being annoying, is probably a fire code violation.

    12. SL #2*

      Best: 4-day weekend! (Today was my regularly-scheduled day off, plus Monday is a holiday)
      Worst: I was in the office for two days this week (off-site another two days) so I’m terrified to think of how much I’ll have to catch up on when Tuesday rolls around.

  31. Sunclytie*

    I just wanted to vent about this.
    I work in tech and get pretty heavily recruited by firms looking for my skill set – I have a background in both content marketing and social media. I got recruited by a large company in Silicon Valley for a social media marketing position, which I have done in the past-I’m just not doing right now. The recruiter asked me to send a resume and said he wanted to set up a call.
    I was interested, as the job would significantly shorten my commute, and sent my resume. 15 minutes later I got an automated email from the company saying that “while we appreciate your interest, we are looking for someone whose qualifications more closely match the position.”
    If I’d sent them my resume, that’s totally fair enough. But they came to me. I messaged the recruiter to find out what was up, but he completely disappeared.
    I certainly wouldn’t work for this company. And I’ve told all my social media marketing network to watch out for this company as well.

    1. Artemesia*

      I have had this happen before and I think the minimal politeness involved should be a call from the person who sought you out with apologies that it doesn’t look like a good fit. They are not obligated to put you forward, but having sought you ought they should at least give the brush off personally. But it is not uncommon unfortunately.

  32. Anonning for This*

    Okay, I need advice.

    At my last company, I was incorrectly classified as exempt when I was non-exempt (I looked up all the qualifiers and I was definitely supposed to be non-exempt, and my current role, which has a similar title and job description, is non.) I frequently worked more than 40 hours a week there… sometimes I put in my time sheet that it was just 40 (the whole “why does this matter if I’m paid the same regardless?” idea) but sometimes I put in the extra. I did leave the last company under bad will – I got a new job and they were less than happy over it – but I’m considering filing a complaint to the department of labor because a) I could really use my back wages right now and b) it’s probably significant enough an amount that it’s worth looking into. However….that’s one way for me to get a lot of animosity from my old company, plus the owner is incredibly vindicitive and who knows, maybe she’ll find a way to sue me over it.

    Thoughts? What should I do here – pursue it or let it go? (I wish I had my old pay stubs on me…I emailed them asking for them and they only sent my last two. Sigh.)

    1. LisaLee*

      If I were you, I’d at least put in a call to the Department of Labor to see what your options are. Money is always nice, but I also think that somebody should alert them to your old company’s unfair practices. You don’t have to go through with it if it turns out to be more work/time investment than you’re up for.

  33. Cruciatus*

    Sigh. This is just a vent session. Got my first (totally calm) talking-to at my new job today (going on 6 months next month). Nothing big, but I can’t leave my desk once an hour to move around for 2-3 minutes. My boss understands and sympathizes but it’s too much time away. I get pretty achy when I sit for so long so I’m not sure how that will go. Just standing up doesn’t help much. She was totally calm about it and I am still just really embarrassed about the whole thing (I’m definitely too sensitive about criticism which is why I try to never be criticized!) I’m only supposed to get up once before lunch and once after which sucks since my lunch is over at 12:30 and I’m done at 5…and I drink a lot of water throughout the day. She told me to just get a larger bottle so I don’t have to fill it often (though it’s already huge…).

    She also checked in on how I’m doing since I seemed unhappy this week. And I guess I was since it was the new semester and faculty have all these requests–I need a new room, I need to add this student, I need this, I need that, all the while I’m trying to do more of my own normal work duties. And most of their requests could have been fixed waaaay before now but they only opened up their schedules the day of classes. I mostly just said things like “oh, this day is making me crazy!” but nothing towards people I was helping, so I think someone in the office may have tattled on me. I’m suppose I’m glad she checked in but it did make me think that I’m not really loving this new role. It’s way more money (and still not much at that) than my last one, but the go go go all the time atmosphere can be a little overwhelming. Maybe 6 months is still too little time to be comfortable in the role. I do feel I’m doing things slowly but I don’t yet know how to do it faster. I’m constantly interrupted (by other people I need to help–students, faculty) and I’m having trouble making immediate switches to one thing and back again. Definitely not what I’m used to from the last place. I hope as time goes by I keep figuring it out but I worry that I’m not getting it fast enough…

    1. TheLazyB (uk)*

      Wow. The not being able to get up is ridiculous and would have me job hunting (presuming there’s not a really good reason). Our company advises people to do that!


      1. Ama*

        Yeah, that seems incredibly unreasonable to me. Are the allowed breaks also supposed to be 2-3 minutes or can you take a real 15 minute break?

        When I was working in academia, the first two weeks of the semester were always crazy-making, so that part is normal. It does not matter how much prep work you do or encourage others to do — there will always be something someone didn’t foresee, forgot to ask about, or “forgot” (as in ignored four direct email appeals to tell you prior to this date).

        1. Cruciatus*

          There are no real breaks. We get an hour for lunch and that’s about it. It sounds like she doesn’t mind if I leave once in the morning and once in the afternoon for a few minutes, but definitely not 15 minutes.

    2. Artemesia*

      Either your boss is nuts or you have been making a spectacle of yourself getting up and wandering around constantly such that people are noticing and commenting that you can’t seem to sit still and get the job done. Only you know if your productivity is great and this is just silliness or if you are less productive than you should be and this is viewed as a sign of your lack of seriousness. Especially in a college environment where staff generally have a lot of personal freedom to move about and take breaks and such, it is decidedly odd that you would have such rigid rules of behavior.

      So you need to assess whether it is you or them? If it is them, then look for a better situation. But if this is just a consequence of behavior on your part then look at how you can better manage the impression you make while still meeting your needs.

    3. Temperance*

      What sort of job do you have? Honestly, it sounds crazy to me that they would micromanage the habits of a grown adult in this manner. I mean, limiting your bathroom breaks/water breaks? Unless you’re the receptionist, I don’t see why it matters otherwise.

    4. fposte*

      The moving around thing is making me scratch my head along with others. Is this a front desk position?

      However, on this: “And I guess I was since it was the new semester and faculty have all these requests–I need a new room, I need to add this student, I need this, I need that, all the while I’m trying to do more of my own normal work duties. And most of their requests could have been fixed waaaay before now but they only opened up their schedules the day of classes.”

      The thing is, those are part of your normal work duties. This is that whole “the cats will never learn to herd themselves” thing; you just have to let go that they could have made it easier for you and accept that you’re there because that’s not how people operate. Both for sanity’s sake and accuracy’s sake, it’s easiest to embrace the fact that this is the norm, not an irregularity.

      1. Cruciatus*

        No, you’re right, they are, but right now I have other deadlines regarding faculty dossiers that are very strict from the main campus (also for the faculty). It would just be nice if some of them (most of them do) could look ahead and not assume it’s no big thing to switch a classroom or many other requests after the semester has already started. That’s mostly what I mean. I don’t think many of them realize all the work we’re doing for them on other things that keep them in their jobs or get them annual raises and seniority. But instead I have to stop immediately, fix their thing–which is not always easy. Today it took 0ver an hour for another school, the registrar and I to figure out a room placement! If I could have done that last week or leading up to Christmas break… But it’s my first new semester where I mostly understand all my job duties so I’ll be more prepared for next time. I just had an “AHHHHH” week and I hope my boss knows that I may get frazzled from time to time. But once the fires are put out I can relax (a bit) again.

    5. KR*

      I’m sorry you’re being micromanaged. I get to move around a lot as part of both my jobs, so I can’t imagine what you must be going through. Is there any way you can do some stretches at your desk (lunges, a quick squat or two, arm stretches) to alleviate the soreness?

    6. Marketer*

      Wow, I can’t imagine being able to only get up once before lunch and once after. That seems ridiculous unless you’re the receptionist and need to get someone to cover you.

      1. RKB*

        Even then. If you’re doing a lap of the office for 2 minutes an hour, I doubt you’re creating lineups!

    7. Cruciatus*

      I’m at the front desk at the school I work for within a university, but there is another person who is out front too. I never leave my desk even to use the restroom unless he’s there. And I always say “I’ll be back in a minute or two” and he says “enjoy!” And if I see students coming toward the door I stay put. And the furthest I am is about 100 feet away. Oh well. I will just suck it up and try to walk around our very tiny office more.

      I don’t think it’s literally “you only have 2 times to move”. I mean, I can use the restroom but I can’t add a lap of the hallway after or something. At least this is what I’m hoping. All that water I drink all day means I use the restroom a few times. We’ll see next week if she’s really being that strict.

      All in all, TGIF. I say this every Friday, but this week especially earns it.

      1. Dear Liza dear liza*

        Ok, if you are at a front desk position- yeah, you can’t be getting up every hour to walk around the halls, even for a few minutes. Your absence will be noted. But check your handbook- it’s common to have 2 15-minute breaks in addition to a lunch break as your regular schedule at a university.

  34. Christy*

    I’ve needed some major help at work for a while, and I finally asked for it, and I’m getting help! And even though I had to majorly push a deadline, it’s all ok. Seriously! Who knew?

    Also I got antianxiety meds (Xanax and Lexapro) and I can already feel them helping me, and I’m going to therapy again regularly! Who knew it would make such a difference? I went from going in a horrible negative work spiral to feeling like I actually enjoy bits of my job again. It’s amazing how things build on each other.

    1. Ama*

      High five! Learning to ask for help at work was one of the hardest things for me to learn to do (I still struggle with it), but it has made my work life so much better — even when I don’t need help, knowing that option is there if I get truly overwhelmed relieves a lot of stress.

      Good luck with your meds and therapy — I have a friend who started anxiety treatments last year after things got so bad that I had to take her to the ER for a panic attack about work while she was visiting me on vacation and it’s completely changed the way she talks about her job.

  35. BabyAttorney*

    Bomb just dropped on me that my company is being acquired…and the acquiring company’s legal department doesn’t have room. “They need help with contracts though!”

    Before it happens I have a lot of work to do to help shepard this through. But still.

    I am an attorney. Not a contracts administrator. And I find it mildly offensive that I am being encourage to take an enormous step down on the totem pole to maybe someday advocate to switch departments. But I also don’t have the money to be out of work for really any period of time. (Lol law school loans, yay!)

    I really have no idea how to handle this…aside from going home and starting to job hunt. And I was just getting comfortable, too.

    Suggestions on how to handle this gracefully are supremely appreciated.

    1. junipergreen*

      Hang in there! The outcomes of acquisitions and buyouts can be anyone’s guess – the acquiring company’s legal dept doesn’t have room NOW, but by the time the process is kicked off or complete they might! And you may meet lots of new people, with lots of new opportunities to impress them. In your shoes I’d soldier on wherever they needed me and quietly begin the search when you’re off company time.

    2. Artemesia*

      It doesn’t sound like you have much choice. I would sit down with the new people to discuss possibilities for moving into legal roles asap. If it is clear they don’t want you in that role then begin work on contract administration while kicking your job search into high gear. It is a better place to be than on the street looking for a law job.

      1. Busy*

        Hmm, I’m not sure I agree re: taking the contracts admin gig; it could potentially hurt your chances of getting another inhouse attorney position because – right or wrong – it does look like a huge step down on the totem pole. Is there any discussion re: severance here? It could buy you some time to find a new attorney job.

        In the meantime try to ignore the insult that they’d assume you’d want to be a contracts administrator instead of an attorney, do your best to dazzle them during the M&A work, and hope that they’ll be so pleased with your work they’ll either work to find you a home in the legal department (and not in the contract department) or they’ll put in some time to help you find something new. Of course, I wouldn’t bank on them having space if they’ve told you already they don’t think they will, so I do agree with Artemesia there — kick that search into high gear.

        This totally stinks though – I’m so sorry you’re going through it! :(

    3. Turanga Leela*

      Start job hunting. And look into options for your law school loans, if you haven’t already.

      Income-based repayment has been a godsend for me and my friends. IBR and similar options, like pay as you go, reduce your payments to a percentage of your income. You have to be careful, because sometimes the payments aren’t enough to amortize your loan, and that could mean you’re paying until the government forgives the balance in 25 years (or 10 years if you’re in public service). However, it can give you a lot of flexibility—you can pay more than the required amount most of the time, but cut back if you’re in financial straits.

    4. Marketer*

      Working for a firm that has done a lot of acquiring recently, it will take 6 months to a year (maybe even longer) for them to being looking at redundancies. By then, you could be well into a job hunt/new job or sometimes people from the acquiring firm end up leaving and that could give you a spot. We have had lots of people leave from the original firm because they don’t like how they keep acquiring so quickly.

    5. Anon Lawyer*

      If you work with outside counsel at all, reach out to them in a discreet way and let them know that you may be looking for a position due to the acquisition of your company. Many law firms will help in-house counsel find new positions, because it cements a relationship. Law firms will sometimes know of openings that don’t really exist because they work closely with companies and see the “gaps” in their in-house legal teams. I would do that now, regardless of whether you have decided to leave or not.

      And I wouldn’t necessarily take the statement as an indication that they are looking for contracts administration help. My husband is an in-house counsel who negotiates high-dollar value, sophisticated contracts and enjoys it greatly. But I may be missing further context.

    6. finman*

      Have you thought about asking about a retention bonus that would get you through x number of months between jobs once you’re let go? You mention that there will be a lot of work before the acquisition goes through, do they really want to have to bring on outside council who doesn’t know everything? Would you get a normal severance package of any sort?

  36. Haru*

    Two questions. If you email a simple request (1 to 3 mins to complete) to someone from another company that you usually don’t talk to and when they email you back they cc a bunch of other people. Should you reply or reply all to say thank you? I’m not sure if its rude to not say thank you, or annoying to get an email that just says thank you and clutters their inbox.

    Does it make a difference when you’re emailing back and forth to the other person and they request information from you too?

    1. fposte*

      It’s cultural. We’re big on thank you around here, so I’d say yes, but I’d just email just the original person and not the cc: folks.

    2. ATX Product Manager*

      To just say thank you, I only reply to the sender, to avoid unnecessarily spamming others.

      If someone requests information from me on a thread that was originally between just of us, and he know included other people, my reply goes to all (I’m assuming the reason for including others is that they also need to get the answer to the question).

      1. ATX Product Manager*

        Fixing typos: “If someone requests information from me on a thread that was originally between just of the us, and he now included other people,my reply goes to all.”

        1. ATX Product Manager*

          Wow, somehow my autocorrect is not letting me write what I want! Weird. “just-the-two-of-us” ack.

    3. Natalie*

      Generally just the sender. In rare circumstances I want the CCs to know I got the document (or whatever) and then I’ll reply-all as a passive notification system.

  37. TheLazyB (uk)*

    Off sick today. I started my job seven months ago. In the time I’ve had one day, one half a day and now today off sick. All with stomach bugs, which is weird, because that’s not something I usually suffer from often.

    But the thing I’m worried about is that the days have been one Monday and two Fridays. I would be suspicious if I was my line manager :( but I’ve been genuinely too ill to work every time.

    Should I address this with her, or will that bring her attention to it?

    1. G*

      I honestly wouldn’t worry about it because it’s so irregular and your attendance is otherwise excellent.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        Also, good managers soon work out who the real p-takers are. There is someone in my office who just joined last summer and she has already taken every type of leave on the books, including xxx days of sick leave, applied for every health and safety accommodation “on principle” (said if they were there she would take them) and won’t agree to meetings before 11am because it is too early in the morning. So, no – a couple of genuine sick days should be fine.

        1. TheLazyB*

          11am?! I can’t even. That is unreasonable anywhere but we work somewhere where that’s probably a disciplinary waiting to happen ;)

          1. Merry and Bright*

            Yes, something is bound to give. She’s actually quite nice in some ways but so high maintenance and not around that much (apart from official WFH days).

    2. Artemesia*

      Since this has not been frequent, I doubt anyone has even noticed. You don’t want to be pointing it out.

    3. GigglyPuff*

      Believe me, that’s nothing. My paranoia turned into the office joke, which I do find hilarious.

      Backstory: Went out for my birthday with some people from work, only been here about 4 months, had moved to a new city, we went to a nice restaurant. I ate something that totally set off my occasional/revolving acid reflux. Spent half the night fighting it, finally called in sick. First time I called in, I usually email, but moving made everything worse and couldn’t get to my computer. So when I called, at like 5:30am, groggy from being up and still feeling like I was going to get sick, said something along the lines of “I won’t be coming in today, I…….ate..something bad last night”.

      And yes those were actual pauses because I could barely think, felt like I had to explain. When I went into work later, all I could think about was that and my manager had known I was going out the night before, was horrified that she might think I was hung over.

      Yeah, she didn’t. Hadn’t even crossed her mind, but I was completely worried and asked the people I’d been out with, if it sounded as bad as I thought it did. They couldn’t stop laughing, and my manager came in, and had to explain. Now it’s our little inside joke, whenever someone it out sick, “That they…ate…..something bad?” LOL
      Believe me, no one will notice your absences.

      1. TheLazyB (uk)*

        One of my colleagues came down with severe toothache after she went out for her partner’s birthday. She was dead scared our link manager would be suspicious. We are apparently paranoid!

    4. TheLazyB*

      I nearly made it a full year with no sick leave once. It was great, I managed to only be ill on weekends :-/

      1. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, as a boss, that’s probably what I would say: “Well, it’s a good thing you didn’t get sick on the weekend–that’s always a waste of a good sick day. AND a good weekend.”

        We can tell, us managers can, who is diligent and who isn’t.

  38. Holly*

    New IT Guy update – one of the admins at my company casually mentioned to me and another coworker that IT Guy just gave her a hug and it was super uncomfortable. I then (finally!) let it spill that he’s been doing inappropriate things around me for months. They said they knew he was flirting “hardcore” with me, but thought I was interested(!!). I quickly rejected that notion. They also said he apparently has a girlfriend, which he’s never mentioned to me. Gross.

    They said they didn’t think there was a lot I could do besides telling him – which I’ve been heavily hinting at, including starting to look super disinterested any time he tries to talk to me – passive, I know, I’m sorry – or telling HR. But they agreed with me that if I told HR, he’d know immediately it was me who complained about it.

    And so it goes. I’m just glad I finally told *someone* here.

    1. Christy*

      Oh, gross! Please tell HR. Seriously, if he’s being this way to multiple people, he’s probably not going to know it’s you. Grossssss.

    2. Artemesia*

      If his behavior is clearly inappropriate (like the hug to the colleague) then report it. This is how these creeps get away with this behavior — no one drops the dime on them.

    3. dancer*

      Any chance you can report it as a group since it seems like he is being inappropriate to multiple people? That way 1) HR can see it as a larger, systematic problem and 2) HR can tell him multiple people complained so he can’t point the finger at you alone.

      1. Glod Glodsson*

        That’s awful, Holly. I’m going to go against the grain here and suggest you clearly state you want the dude to stop to his face once, first. If he continues after you have said you don’t want him to, HR should definitely know. I was in the same situation with you once, with a dude who kept on touching me, and I was afraid to say anything so I just kept on giving signals that I didn’t like it but it did not help. Obviously! These kinds of guys know who to pick. So one day I had to sit next to him at an event and I was tensing up just from having to do that, and he put his arm around me and asked me what was wrong. And I just…snapped. I shouted really loudly “STOP. TOUCHING. ME.” and it was super embarrassing but it was also soooo liberating. He never came near me again and all I thought was that I should have told that dude to back off earlier.

        When you report it to HR, and a good HR rep would get back to him and basically say he made women uncomfortable. There’s a big chance he’ll realize it was you or will suspect it. Not saying you should take his feelings into account, but in your place I’d feel better if I’d just clearly told him to stop first instead of going over his head.

        It can be sooooo hard for women to set boundaries in the workplace, but it is SUCH a useful skill to have. From making sure dudes aren’t inappropriate to letting people in a meeting know you’re not getting coffee just because you’re a woman. Obviously, if any of his stuff was really weird instead of pervy skirting boundaries weird, I’d go to HR too.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      This won’t help your situation directly, but I would probably also share your story on Elephant in the Valley.

    5. Observer*

      Stop hinting and tell him straight out! If OTHERS thought you were interested, he CERTAINLY thinks you are swooning over him, no matter how gross he actually is. Certainly, he can pretend to.

      Even without that, telling his straight out is your first step, unless you have reason to think that he might react in a dangerous way. If he doesn’t stop, you go to HR. So what if he knows that you complained. Why does that matter. He won’t like you? Why would you care?

      By the way, your coworker should ALSO tell him to stop if it happens again, and should also go to HR. If he starts retaliating against you because you “tattled”, you need to escalate that, too.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is going to sound harsh and I apologize in advance for that, but YOU NEED TO TELL HIM TO STOP. And if you’re not willing to do that, you need to tell HR about it. This guy is creeping out multiple women in your office, and he will continue to do so until one of you speaks up about it. You have talked about it multiple different weeks, so it’s clearly bothering you. Say something!

      This is how you end up with scandals where it eventually comes out that some guy was harassing multiple women all the time and no one bothered to do anything about it so it was just an open secret until he finally goes way too far. Say something.

      If you look at past posts where you’ve posted on this, there have been tons of scripts offered. Maybe if none of them work, you can explain what’s holding you back and we can offer different ones. But you need to say something.

      1. Holly*

        I haven’t been in a position to say anything based off of recent actions, is the thing, Alison. Since I’ve started posting, he’s completely cut out the “good lookin'” comment and hasn’t been physical, so only thing I could report him for would be excessive friendliness, basically – I’ll look like I’m overreacting. The only opportunities I’ve gotten lately are when he’s briefly said “you look pretty today,” and you’re right, I need to say something at that point.

    7. TootsNYC*

      We keep telling you–tell him flat out. I’m not usually one to cry “Oh, mixed signals!” to every creeper situation. But from your own descriptions, I fear you haven’t been clear. Even other people thought you were interested.

      You’ve been feeling (I’m guessing, I’m guessing, I know) pressured by the whole societal “women shouldn’t be rejecting” thing, perhaps, and that -can- mean that eager guys don’t get it.

      So now be firm and kind, and say, “I’m not interested. Please don’t flirt with me.”

  39. Mimmy*

    I wrote in an open thread a few weeks ago about going to a professional conference both as a member of a council I’m on and for my own professional interests. Well, the council approved both sending council members to the conference and applying for membership with the co-hosting association! So once our coordinator gets everything squared away, it looks like I’ll be going! This is a pretty significant conference in my field, so I am really looking forward to networking and gaining new information, both for myself and for my council.

    The cool part? One of the keynote speakers is well-known nationally, someone I’ve been wanting to see speak for several years. Squeeeeeeee!!!!

  40. A.J.*

    Has anyone ever had a job title significantly changed at the offer stage? I have had this happen to me twice in the last 2 months of my job search, and its starting to get really frustrating. The first was advertised as a solutions engineer, but ended being referred to as a customer support specialist in the offer. The second was for a contract position as a technical analyst, but when I went to sign the paperwork it was listed as a data editor. In both cases, these are pretty significant changes. When I asked the companies about this, they both said it “didn’t matter because the job description was still the same”. I turned down the first offer, and took the second because I couldn’t afford to turn down another job, and now I really hate my new job (which definitely is not what they described in the interview, nor the advertised job description). I just don’t understand the logic behind this…

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      That happened to me with an offer last year. Job ad and interview were for “specialist” role, actual offer was for “assistant specialist” role paying $10K less than the bottom of the salary range because of my “lack of experience.” Same job duties. I turned it down for other reasons (though I can’t say that offer impressed me), and a friend wound up being offered the same job…with the same lower pay and title! The friend managed to negotiate back up $7K, but still below the bottom of the quoted pay range.

      I think it’s a frustrating bait-and-switch – if you advertise a more senior role, but think your actual applicants are too inexperienced, then you need to either re-run the search (possibly at a higher pay grade) to get someone with the experience you want, or you need to just admit that the person you’re trying to hire is good enough for what you said you were hiring for.

    2. KR*

      My dad had that happen to him a few years back. Someone he worked with told him that her law firm was looking for a new paralegal. We took a trip to the next state over, walked around the town a little, he had an informal interview with the partners and we seriously considered moving our life over there. But, as he communicated with the firm the responsibilities, position and pay went down little by little until he would be a legal secretary making about $50 more a week than he was working for the state (very underpaid compared to a private law firm). Not worth moving our life over there so he turned down the position, which was unfortunate because it was a great area.

  41. Ms. Didymus*

    Not a question, just a comment.

    I am exhausted. We’ve been non-stop for the past two months with new programs, software, processes and policies. I feel like work just keeps getting dumped on me and I can’t find space to even delegate duties (because that would require training someone on this and I have zero time to do so).

    I’ve tried broaching it with the senior leadership only to be told I’m doing great and should be proud of what I am accomplishing. Which is great but…I am on a fast track to losing my mind and I’m not sure how to get off this track.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Come up with some ideas as to what you believe needs to happen and how to go about it. Then I think you need to be really explicit with Management as to what’s going on and how it’s affecting your performance and/or sanity. Don’t beat around the bush or hint at it or even soften it. Then offer some of your ideas for getting over the hump. Good luck!

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      I feel you. I actually got permission to transfer a client to a coworker, then the client had a crisis and it didn’t seem like a good time to pass them off. So still feel totally overwhelmed and like I’m short changing clients by spreading myself too thin. I think learning to be better at delegating is probably key, as well as being very honest with leadership about how much you can do without totally burning out. Good luck!

  42. Kira Nerys*

    I need some help. Or advice. Or something.

    I earned my Ph.D. in sociology two years ago, after a long and horrible process. I should have quit about four years in to the process, but allowed myself to be convinced to stick it out. Knowing my chances of getting a tenure-track job were slim and fed up with the huge ethical problems of academia, I have been trying to find non-academic jobs.

    I haven’t managed to get a single interview. I haven’t managed to get a single callback! Even when I have a job lead given by a friend, I haven’t gotten a review. I’m confident in my resume and cover letters – I’ve followed Alison’s advice and have also had my friends review my materials, and they are good. But I’m guessing the combination of the degree, my academic-focused job history, and my age (33) are stacked against me.

    I’ve got a job in academic administration right now, but it’s a dead-end position without any chance of a raise due to budget woes. I have been trying for other administrative jobs in academia, but since my degree isn’t from a terribly prestigious university and my academic references are jerks who rarely return reference calls, that’s not working out.

    I just don’t know what to do! I’m desperate and becoming hopeless. I feel like I’m never going to be able to move on.

    1. TheLazyB (uk)*

      I have no useful advice but wanted to send sympathy and commend you on your choice of handle :) she rocks!

    2. overeducated and underemployed*

      I’m sorry! As you may be able to tell from my screen name, I’m in a very similar boat.

      My only saving grace is that I have been getting some interviews, but mainly in non-profits – in 8 months I’ve only managed one government interview and one university phone screen, and not for lack of trying. (I have only applied for 1 or 2 “corporate” jobs so no data there.) My theory is that this is because we PhDs looking for non-faculty positions can look like “non-traditional” candidates and it can be harder to get through automatic sorting systems based on work history, whereas a curiosity-sparking cover letter gets you further in a smaller, person-based hiring process.

      Are you a member of VersatilePhD? Someone there wrote that the hard part is finding jobs in the “squishy middle” to apply for – not entry level (where the degree and, yes, age can hurt you), but not senior to the point that you need a much more serious non-academic work history. Ironically, I think in some parts of the nonprofit sector and government, these are the positions that have really been hollowed out since the recession, so they can be hard to find…but I have had very few interviews for true entry-level positions, so I believe it.

      Good luck! This is such a long slog. I have two friends who finally got permanent jobs around 3 years after graduating, so there IS hope.

      1. YOLO*

        Squishy middle – that’s it exactly! Education & age hurt you for the one extreme, lack of a “career path” hurt you in the other.

      2. Ama*

        Yes, I got out of a dead-end academic administration job at 32 (with an MFA in writing instead of a PhD) by moving into nonprofit. I even wound up at a science nonprofit with no science background — it was a hybrid grants admin/communications position and between my academic admin experience and my educational background in writing I turned out to be a great match with their needs. I find that nonprofits — particularly those that work closely with academia, like research funders, understand the current environment in academia and why someone might want to get out in a way that for profits don’t always understand.

    3. Roza*

      Fellow social science PhD who finished but fled! I currently do a mix of survey research and data science-y things at a consulting firm.

      If you have any training in quantitative social science, you’d be a great fit for similar roles (also chech out market or user experience research). Depending on your level of experience with stats, if you got a little programming experience

      One thing that help me in the job search was focusing on my technical skills rather than subject-matter expertise. I cast my dissertation as an extended analytical writing and data analysis project, discussed how I had to juggle deadlines for multiple tasks (while TA-ing, writing, getting all of my various fieldwork tasks done, etc), things like that. I was also very prepared to discuss why I wanted to work in applied research as opposed to academia–why I was genuinely excited and not just “settling” for a non-ac job. People have a lot of negative stereotypes about PhDs, not to mention a lot of misperceptions about how a PhD program is different than undergrad or even an MA program. It’s really on you to translate your skills and experience into something that the private sector will understand.

      Finally, congrats on finishing!!! The fact that you had the grit and determination to see a project that you’d committed yourself to through to the end, even when it got hard, is something worth being proud of and that employers with tough projects should also be happy to see!

      1. Roza*

        Ack, I got distracted halfway through that comment. Anyway, I was going to say that there are tons of great (free!) online resources to get good at R or Python (Coursera, DataCamp, Udacity for a small-ish fee) to develop some basic programming and data-wrangling skills to increase your appeal as an analyst or data scientist of some sort if that’s appealing.

        1. Roza*

          Oh, and finally, I second the problems with the auto-sort systems like Taleo. All of my interviews came from companies where an actual human read my resume and cover letter, either because they were small enough not to auto-sort or because I was able to get an internal referral.

      2. BRR*

        I was also going to suggest something similar. I’ll also add I don’t think where your degree is from matters in (most) administrative positions and hiring managers like references beyond professors (I think).

        You need to work extra hard to show what you’ve accomplished and how it applies to a posting and that you’re not a flight risk for a teaching job.

    4. YOLO*

      You have my sympathy, for what it’s worth. I have a PhD in a social science and am stuck in admin hell. I knew that I wouldn’t be competitive in the cut-throat academic market in my field, but always thought that the many skills I developed prior to and during my graduate study would carry over into the non-academic world. I even have non-academic job skills! But the PhD intimidates too many employers, and the one’s that aren’t intimidated per se are looking for either economists or other fields. And I hear you about the academic references who rarely return calls…

      Currently, I’m still looking outside of the admin track. But I’m a decade older than you, and even when really interesting jobs come up, I can’t justify working at such lower salaries and with such pitiful benefits. And for better jobs – well, I keep getting ranked second behind younger people who have fewer degrees but better political connections. It’s hard to keep my spirits up.

      BUT – I am trying to arrange things so that while my job might be the shitz, my life is good and I’m involved in my hobbies and communities. Blogging, twittering, attending events in my area, chit-chatting with folk. If it doesn’t turn into better opportunities, at least I’ll be entertained along the way. So hugs in solidarity – from what I see on FB, I’m definitely not the only person from my university and my field dealing with this. I’m sure you have classmates in the same boat as well.

    5. NL*

      Have you thought about what you really want to do? Is it academic administration, or something else? I have a background that is very similar to yours (PhD in sociology, graduated less than 5 years ago, 30s), and I knew in grad school that I didn’t want to be a professor. Before I ever applied for jobs, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I actually wanted to do. I assessed previous jobs–what I liked, what I didn’t–as well as my personality, my strengths and weaknesses, what jobs were out there, were there jobs in places I wanted to live… It was pretty holistic. For me, that process was really important. It allowed me to be very selective in what I applied for, and it helped me tremendously in selling myself in cover letters and interviews. I was a ridiculously good fit for the job I ended up getting, but that was more a case of luck (and maybe diligence in job searching) than anything else.

      You’re already doing a lot of what I would advise (e.g. reading here and taking Alison’s advice). I will also second the advice to check out Versatile PhD, if you haven’t already. It’s very good for both emotional support–lots of people in the same boat as you–and information gathering. Also, are there people you currently work with that could serve as references? Maybe colleagues rather than your supervisor? My adviser and committee were supportive when I told them I didn’t want an academic job, which definitely makes things easier. I’m sorry you’re in such a tough spot, and I hope you’re able to find a way out. I know it’s demoralizing to finish a PhD and be stuck in a dead-end job. Good luck!!!

    6. Sophia in the DMV*

      I love Alison and this blog but academic cover letters are very different. Have you looked at Professor Is In? I have aPhD in soc and would be happy to look at your cover letter and CV. I have a TT at a SLAC. Leave your email address and I’ll respond!

    7. mander*

      Wow, are you me? I have a similar story — I finally finished my PhD (also in social science) after a very long, horrible, no-good process which convinced me that I was not only had zero chance of an academic job, but also that I was pretty much a worthless failure at everything. To make matters worse I didn’t start my degree until I was a month shy of 30, so I had my age working against me from the start. I’m still not totally recovered from that experience, but I’m getting a little better. After fruitlessly searching for a job for about 3 years I finally moved to another city and started working contract jobs in my professional field, but in all honesty I really don’t like it that much. It’s physically exhausting, the environment is noisy and dangerous, it’s stupidly low-paid, and permanent posts are hard to come by. Is there anything similar in your field that you can do?

      The upside of working in the field, though, has been meeting people and gaining experience that I hope will allow me to get out of the (literal) trenches and move into something else that is related but less physical. I haven’t worked out what that is yet, but I did start the process of going through “What Color is Your Parachute?” and similar books a couple of years ago and despite their clichéd nature it was actually helpful. I know I won’t make any real progress in terms of changing career until I work out exactly what I’m aiming for.

  43. The Other Dawn*

    Not sure if this is more personal or work-related, as it’s directed towards anyone who performs title searches on properties, but it’s about my property.

    I have a very old house–built in 1735–and I want to do a title search. We tried doing it ourselves, but it got more confusing the further back we went into the land records. We went back to about 1842 and then we just got lost. The handwriting was difficult to read and there didn’t seem to be any other references to volume and page numbers. Plus, the land was passed down through several people through wills.

    Is it possible to have someone do a title search back that far? And if so, any idea as to what the cost might be and how long it would take?

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      You should be able to hire a title company to do that for you. I’m guessing they would bill you by the hour. But I’m not sure.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Your best bet would be state/local archives and/or historical societies. Which I’m sure you might have already used if you got info that far back. But if you want to hire someone they usually have reference lists, and could possibly help direct you to someone that isn’t working strictly with genealogy.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, we went to the historical society. They didn’t have anything on the house, just a land and architecture description, since it’s not considered “important.” We went to the town hall and did the search in the basement. It was actually very interesting. We pulled out Volume 1 of the land records and saw all the documents. It was quite a thrill to see “Colony of Connecticut in New England.”

        1. GigglyPuff*

          Then I would definitely look at what your state archives has. Most of them have land deeds, and while I’ve only worked in ones in the South, my guess would be the ones in New England probably have a much bigger inventory of older records (if the originals weren’t burned or lost). What you would probably need to look for, are land deeds, wills or estate records.
          Course this is assuming your state has an archives and if so, what type of records they keep. But if you want to hire someone, a historical researcher/genealogists might be best.

        2. TowerofJoy*

          Do you have a historic preservation committee, agency or officer in your local area? This is different than your historical society – they’re just general collectors. You want someone who is familiar with land and building transfers. I would start there as even if they can’t help you directly they are much more likely to point you in the right direction.

        3. Yetanotherjennifer*

          One of the few things I remember from my real estate training years ago is that you never actually buy a house, you buy land that has an improvement in the form of a house. Or not if you’re buying undeveloped land. Houses are temporary in the grand scheme of things. But since we like to live in them that’s what everybody focuses on.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You might be able to find general information starting at a random date, let’s say 1700, and go forward to 1735 trying to follow the bread crumb trail.
      I am suspicious that your lot was divided off of a much larger lot, that division could have taken place around 1842. If you can find any historical references to large parcels in your specific area, that might give you clues.
      In a similar vein, if you know the name of the family who had the property in 1842 you could be looking for an ancestor of that owner. Maybe he subdivided it for his children.
      Many towns have books about the history of the town, okay, this one is even more time consuming but you may find clues in books like this.
      You could try going to a title search company in person. Tell them what you have done so far and ask your questions. It could be that they tell you “It will cost and arm and a leg, but I will give you some pointers for free”, just because they think you have an interesting question.

  44. ASJ*

    So I graduated from university about 5-6 years ago, and finally got work as an admin assistant (after temping for most of that time). I know I don’t want to be an admin assistant forever, but what I do want to do…. is a complete blank. I have no idea how to figure it out, and it makes me a little worried that I’m 27 with no real career goals in mind…

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Hey, all my friends are 27 and maybe two have actual career goals. And my dad’s 55 and he’s finally changing to a career he likes so as long as you’re making enough money to survive I don’t think you need to have it all figured out.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Agreed. I kind of fell into the type of work I do, but it’s definitely not my “goal” and I have no idea what my goal career would be. There are things I could live with doing and things I couldn’t live with doing, but that’s about it! And I’m 34.

    2. Jennifer*

      I’m 37 and have no career goals in mind beyond “get some other job.” Goals, schmoals. They’re not really relevant when you’re an admin unless you want to become management.

    3. Argh!*

      I went to Johnson O’Connor research for aptitude testing when I was 25 and already frustrated with my job. I didn’t necessarily take their advice, but it has helped me when deciding among different choices. Their theory is that people are happiest in jobs that come easily to them. Sometimes people think they should go a certain direction for the wrong reasons, such as going into auto mechanics because they love working with their hands even though they lack the other skills required.

    4. Badmin*

      I can relate, I will be 27 soon and have no idea what I want to do career wise. It’s stressing me out because when I do want a new job I feel like it will be hard to network since I am not sure what I want to do and can’t communicate what I want to do to those that may be able to help. I try to keep it to general fields though, you’re not the only one though! Thanks for posing this q!

      1. ASJ*

        That’s actually my thought? My mom once said to me “you don’t want to be an admin assistant forever, do you?” and at the time I told her off because I was struggling to even find work as an admin in this economy, but her comment stuck with me because really, it’s true. But I don’t know where to start thinking about my next move… And it’s become more of an issue because I recently started working for an office that offers tuition rebate. I can take free classes if I want.. but in what????

        1. Weekend Warrior*

          It can be helpful – and lower stress – to first think in broad terms rather than details about specific careers or jobs. So think about things like… I like to work with people/numbers/both/neither :)…I like to work in a high energy team/mostly independently…I want my job to contribute to society/making a living is just fine…

          These “themes” don’t need to be complete contrasts but you get the drift. Figure out what you generally like and want.

          You might be interested in the great advice that Jen Dziura and Cal Newport have for people at your stage – and all of us!

          I’ll post some links in the next post. Good luck!

    5. Ineloquent*

      Im 27 and my career goals all happened because I fell into a job I love and am great at totally accidentally. (Seriously – they called me out of the blue despite having no directly relevant experience. I never even applied.). I think it’s more about finding something really interesting in your work, digging in and becoming an SME, than it is about laying out a career path. Eventually your career progression will start to show a logical path forward.

  45. Clever Name*

    Question for the commentariat: It’s about office cliques. There is a perception that my office is cliquish. The owner of the company has specifically said to the company that cliques are not okay and she encouraged people to be inclusive.

    Is there anything else we can do to discourage cliques? I’m pretty sure who is part of the perceived clique (there are at least two groups). Would it be worthwhile to talk to those people individually and say that they are perceived to be part of a clique so they can be aware and work on being inclusive? Or would that be inappropriate/annoying/awful?

    And yes, this does sound very high school. My company has a friendly and close-knit culture, and we are committed to keeping it that way and we do not people to feel excluded.

    1. Jennifer*

      I don’t know what you’d do–tell people to stop making friends with people they like? Walk up to a clique talking and tell them they have to stop? Assigned randomized seating in the lunchroom? None of that sounds reasonable to say to adults to me.

    2. Temperance*

      I hate the word “clique” – so high-schoolish.

      Honestly, I think it’s really a silly thing to worry about if everyone is mostly getting along and friendly. You’re not going to be BFF with everyone, and trying to keep people from eating lunch with their friends is just … silly.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      Toughie. The owner should continue to remind people about the culture she wants to see and if people like and respect her, they should take it to heart.
      I don’t think it would hurt to approach a member of the group and say Hey, next time you all go out to lunch would you walk around and see if anyone else wants to go? It might be less preach-y if you phrase it as though you yourself would like to go next time.
      They may not even realize they’ve formed a clique. They might just think the shy ones are uninterested, but an explicit invite may be what the shy ones are waiting for!
      Another thing I’ve observed in my small office that works is ice-breakers at staff meetings where we all share something the others might not know about us. It sparks conversation among people who might otherwise think they have little in common.

    4. fposte*

      When you say “There is a perception,” what do you mean? Somebody had to put this into words–who was it, what did they say, and based on what? Is somebody in your office unhappy, or is somebody external to it uncomfortable with a pattern that’s working fine for your staff?

      Can you initiate some events yourself that include everybody, whether it be something workplace funded or just “hey, let’s all sit out on the deck to eat the first nice day in spring”?

    5. Accountant*

      I just left a workplace that was a bit cliquish. Not necessarily in a bad way, there were just a couple main groups of people who were friends. There was a little bit of petty bad blood between a couple of people in different groups and I would have to say there were two ways that the cliques got along better over time:

      1. Travel- we all had a mandatory out of town training to go to together, level by level (all the staff accountants went one week, then the senior accountants, etc). This brought the cliques together and certain people got to know each other better. So Susan learned that Betty just had a resting B face, and didn’t actually dislike her, for example.
      2. A bridge person (i.e. either a common friend… or a common enemy, but lets not go down that path)- I have always been the sort of person who can get along with pretty much anyone. Maybe see if there is anyone in your office who is friends with both cliques and… see if they have any input? I know that I had a lot of information that could have been useful about how to bring people together if I had been asked.

    6. Ad Astra*

      Is shuffling desks an option? My company likes to move people around every so often to make sure we’re not in a rut, and they actively try to avoid sitting too many people with the same function together (instead of departments based on function, our company is organized into teams based on the clients we work for, so each team has a variety of functions and there’s no reason to sit all the graphic designers together, for instance).

      There’s also a lot you, personally, can do to be inclusive: Invite a variety of people to eat lunch with you (or whatever potentially cliquey activity you do). Ask a variety of people about their weekends and such when you’re making the rounds. Make sure new hires are introduced to everybody in the office. Be careful not to find yourself gossiping or excluding people (which sounds obvious, but is really important because it’s totally within your control).

  46. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    I love LOVE when I forget it’s Friday, come to AAM, and see the Friday open thread. Makes my entire day.

    I’ll be finishing my Master’s degree in May. I’ve already started applying for jobs in academia because I know that with how slowly that process can move May might not be all that far away by the time they start reviewing applications. I’m wondering though if it might be too early to start applying for jobs outside Academia (at least, ones that require the MLIS). I suppose I can ultimately just apply and let the employer decide if the expected degree date is too far off, but job applications really take a lot of emotional labor for me… and can be incredibly time consuming when also trying to balance them with my full-time job and my coursework.

    (The good news is current boss wants to be a reference for me, and has been sending me listings for jobs I’ll soon be qualified for. He knows there isn’t going to be any upward advancement here until he retires and he’s not planning to do that for awhile. It’s strange, but great to have the support)

    1. LadyKelvin*

      I’m also finishing up this semester (yay!) except with my PhD. My advisor recommended that I start applying for jobs at least 6 months before I intend to graduate for posted jobs, and if there is a place I want to work, start inquiring a year out so they can make me a position. For academic positions they recommend a year plus because the interview process is so long. So I’ve been applying to non-academic jobs since November. In fact I have a phone interview next week. So if you are done in May, I’d not hesitate to apply, the worst thing that could happen is that you get an offer where they want you to start before you’re done and then you can try to work part time or delay the start date till May. Good Luck!

    2. FutureLibrarian*

      My username will only be valid for about…2 weeks now, as I just graduated with my MLIS. I’m just waiting for conferral.

      Based on my job hunting, most places outside of academia won’t be interested yet. You will find that most applications tell you not to apply without your MLIS. They want you to be almost finished because in the public sector, most will be looking to fill a position within the next month or two, not 5+ months down the road.

      In addition, my conferral date (and yours may be the same), is 1.5 months after I finished my coursework. You can’t be certified as a librarian in states that require a Public Librarian Certificate (which I find is most states) without having the actual MLIS (you will need to provide them with your transcripts). Some states DO have a provisional certificate of sorts, but I don’t want to get them randomly without knowing where I will end up (most cost money…some cost A LOT of money).

      My best suggestion is, if you see a job you’re absolutely smitten with, why not get in touch and ask them if they’re considering candidates graduating in May? I did it with a large library, and they did tell me to come back much closer to graduation. But hey, they at least know I am interested!

      Good luck! It’s not an easy journey, but as most of us know, it is one we are more than willing to make :)

    3. Butter Tooth Callahan*

      I too am graduating with a Master’s degree in May, and have been wondering this very same thing. I have additional concerns and question, if any AAM readers have any insight I’d love to hear it.

      I’m a special special snowflake. I started college at 40 with the understanding that to live a reasonably nice life I needed to have a degree in *something* to be hirable. I have worked in Dancing Chocolate Teapot (DCT) management for 15 years, working my way up from being a DCT to managing, auditioning and producing large scale DCT shows. Because I began college at 40, (after breaking my leg and ending my career as a DCT), I didn’t pursue theater or dance programs, and there were no undergrad arts management programs to get into then, so I went to art school to get a degree in *something* and now have a BFA in Animated Chocolate Chandeliers and a MFA in Experimental Chocolate Chandelier Making, (hereafter ACCM)

      I’m a little confused as to how to reenter the workforce. On one hand I have 15 years experience in DCT Management, on the other hand I am an entry level ACCM. Ideally I’d like to utilize my DCT management experience and blend it with my new degrees to manage ACCMers. The ACCM industry is steeped in tradition where internships are the norm but hard to get, and now more and more ACCM jobs require digital 3D ACC modeling experience, (I have 1 semester as a TA). Moreover I’m not really into the doldrums of polishing 3D chocolate chandeliers, however I am really rather motivated by coordinating the ebb and flow of the ACCM industry, and I’m especially excited by the Independent Experimental ACCM sector, but I think there are probably zero jobs there, “independent” really means hermit-recluse ACCMers in their garages or basements toiling away when they can. I don’t know how they pay their bills.

      Now that I’m 47 with familial responsibilities I can’t just rent a bunkbed in a shared room in SOHO or SOMA to intern or work an entry level job to cut my teeth. Dancing teapots and chandelier makers aren’t that different, they’re basically talented cats and I have a lot of experience herding them.

      I have considered going into a Ph.D. program for Digital Experimental Dancing Chandeliers, and I waffle between thinking, “I’m a really great student, I can continue being a student!” and “What the hell am I going to do with a Ph.D. in Digital Experimental Dancing Chandeliers? There has to be a place in the world for me.” I’ve very seriously considered teaching Experimental Chocolate Chandelier Making because I really love it and love talking about it and love turning people onto Experimental Chocolate Chandelier Making, but the more I read about getting into academia the more I’m turned off by it.

  47. Audiophile*

    I’m realizing I have some residual anxiety from previous jobs that I need to deal with. I love my new job, they seem to love me, but I’m stressed that I’m going to screw something up.

    My direct manager can be a little harder to read, but her boss, who I also technically report to, is very effusive. To the point that it’s overwhelming at times. She’s repeatedly said things like “you’re amazing.” “I’m so glad you’re here,” etc. She very much wears her heart on her sleeve.

    The job that I had briefly in 2014 (I mentioned it in open threads around that time,) where I worked for a non-profit handling communications/social media, the manager there was almost never around and never satisfied with my work. It was very hot and cold.

    I feel like I’m constantly in a state of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and for someone to come into my office and say “it’s just not working out for us.”

    I have a therapist, that I could see and pay in cash. But I can’t do it too often because it’s not feasible financially until I have insurance.

  48. Amy Pond*

    Last week I wrote about this and got one reply. I’m going to try and run it by everyone again, in a condensed way.

    For years, I thought I wanted to make teapots for a living. I finally got a job in a teapot environment, only to find out that it’s not really what I want to do. I used to do public relations/journalism. I made an attempt to keep up my skills in that area by offering to do the social media for Teapots Inc., by offering to do a newsletter, etc. Every offer was turned down. In fact, every offer I’ve made to learn anything new or do anything outside my prescribed job duties is turned down because my boss is a professional slacker. There are a bunch of people who literally sit around and do nothing all day here.

    This situation is not sustainable. Someone higher up at Teapots Inc. will eventually cotton on and heads will roll. I don’t want to be one of them.

    I’ve thought of volunteer work, but I work a second shift and I really don’t have time to volunteer anywhere. I don’t even know what web sites are the “in” ones for job hunting at this point. In the meantime, I’m learning nothing of value, am underpaid and underemployed. I’m also scared to leave here but I think it would be in my best professional interest to do so.

    Any advice? Thank you for listening.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      Oof, second shift is awful for trying to do anything with other humans. I don’t really have any advice since both your current field and desired field are kinda foreign to me, alas. Probably a stupid question, but have you tried keeping your skills/portfolio fresh via blogging or other independent online content?

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, cosign on second shift (which I work now). If you can find something in the morning (and not be too tired later at work), you could try that. I do some volunteer work in the late afternoon. I’d also look into virtual opportunities.

    2. TowerofJoy*

      Do you know what you want to do now? Make teapots? Do PR? If you do, I’d start pursuing something in that area on the side. If volunteering is out the picture then see about going to conferences, webinars, classes, professional networks, or writing a blog on the thing you DO want to do. Something that keeps you fresh in the field and connected to those resources. While you’re doing that you could also use those networking resources that you meet to find out which websites for job hunting are the best for your particular line of work, or make connections that might recommend you. It’s not an easy answer because you’re already in a difficult place, but try to take it on in manageable steps and you can move on to something else.

      1. Amy Pond*

        I’m not quite sure. PR didn’t work out very well for me, but I like writing. I don’t want to make teapots. The only way to make more money in this field would be to earn a graduate degree and move across the country, which I am not willing to do right now. Thanks for your suggestions! I will look into them.

    3. Jennifer*

      My best guess is to do freelance writing/side jobs while you’re at work, so at least you look “busy.”

      I haven’t actually done this (I should), and if I post links they’ll go to spam, but there’s sites called Flex Jobs and Freelance Writing Gigs and Real Ways To Earn Money Online out there.

    4. Audiophile*

      I was able to find a remote volunteer position. I also worked second shift at the time or would do quick backs (2nd shift and then a first shift the next day or vice versa). I was looking to expand and strengthen my skills in the social media area and work my way into a full time job in that area. I had attempted to volunteer for an org, who had me train and then never contacted me again. I finally started looking at remote opportunities since my work schedule was all over the place. I used Volunteer Match, but there’s a ton of other sites. Taproot might be another way to go.

      The volunteer role was exactly what I needed at the time, and the plus side was I didn’t have to go anywhere to do it.

    5. Marketer*

      Since you’re not working during first shift, try talking with local non-profits about helping out with PR/social media. I’m sure they would love to have someone experienced doing free work for them. Keep an eye out for part time gigs. Also, keep your own “online world” up-to-date and appropriate so you have something to reference.

    6. Almond Milk Latte*

      You have my sympathies. Volunteering is not out of the question for building skills that can help you find a role you like better. I found a remote social media / marketing volunteer gig on Volunteer Match. I do most of my work for them at 2am, and it’s been a fun experience.

  49. an update!*

    an update on the tuition benefit question from last week:

    i have received no pushback as of yet for using it, but it’s possible that because my manager is different than the department dragon who is currently causing all the stress and drama in my department, the billing wouldn’t have gone to her. a follow up phone call with central hr assured me that while departments are billed for a portion of the cost, it would be highly, highly unusual for it to be denied, or to received any pushback. the hr person i spoke to was very concerned about what i was telling her and said she would have to look into it, as these types of rumors shouldn’t be happening in the first place. she stressed that this was my benefit to use and no one could decide not to honour it and that i shouldn’t be worried about using it. so, this makes me feel better!

    the original op was a bit confusing, but to clarify – i work in a unit that is separate from the school in which we are housed (confusing, i know). the administrative manager for the school has somehow managed to insert herself into every aspect of running it in the ~50 years she has been employed there. while she isn’t my boss and i don’t report to her in any way, she has decided she is the boss of several people due to some political things that happened with the previous director that resulted in her acquiring more and more power, and micromanages every single thing that happens in the dept, including deciding if my expenses are legit and can be forwarded on to my manager for approval. for me, the fallout wouldn’t be too severe aside from the potential of her denying all of my expense claims, but for the others she “manages” she makes their lives living hell which is why i was concerned.

    i’m still job searching, but at least i can take my class (somewhat) worry free.

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      Thx for the update. Sounds like you’ve got your power back. :). Best of luck in moving on from this dysfunctional situation. My fave dragon story? Dragon finally retires but makes a somewhat significant donation (and maybe promises a legacy donation). University continues to tolerate obnoxious behaviour, now directed at fundraisers. Clever dragon. Sheesh!!

  50. Anonymous Reader Posting Anonymous*

    We have a coworker who likes to tell management only part of a story to try to get the other person in trouble. Our management sucks and Jane has been employed here for over 15 years. She’s done this for most of her time here from my understanding.

    Part of Jane’s duties are answering the phone and last week we were having many network issues. I told her please transfer John from Chocolate Teapots into my voicemail and I was going to call him back in an hour but had to get something else out because a client needed it before a meeting with an attorney. Jane told our CEO that we were going to lose Chocolate Teapots because I “wasn’t taking their calls”. I overheard her telling him and told him exactly what happened and he agreed with me. This is just a recent example.

    Jane does this to many employees and has been so hostile that several employees have quit over her tenure because of her. However she remains employed. Jane has actually badmouthed our staff to clients! Management told her don’t do it again but she did it again. Management is aware of this.

    She’s going to harm somebody’s reputation someday and it will make it more difficult for them to obtain another job. Our company has less than 30 employees and no HR department to talk to. Our CEO is the founder’s son Bob. We’ve approached him and the other 3 managers and were encouraged to “wait Jane out because she’s retiring in 4 years”. 4 years is a long time to tolerate her.

    All of us are looking for other jobs but I’m concerned about Jane’s badmouthing may stand in the way of getting another job. How should this be handled?

    1. Sadsack*

      Confronting Jane the next time this happens is where I’d start. Ask her why she’d say whatever she said that isn’t true.

    2. Professionally Anon*

      I deal with some form of this most days. The secretary in my office is fairly incompetent, but she’s been working here for close to 10 years so I think most of upper administration is just waiting out her retirement. We are meant to enforce policy which often means saying no to any number of people. People will come in to complain about something and she’ll agree with them, we’ve all heard it, but it never changes. She also doesn’t have to deal with all the cleanup on those issues either. It might be helpful if you confronted her the next time this happened. “I couldn’t help but overhear you telling Bob that I won’t take calls from Chocolate Teapots, but that’s not really the case. If you have any concerns about this in the future, could you speak with me first?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        ” If you have any concerns about this in the future, could you speak with me first?”

        These are the types of things to say. I had a coworker who told the boss I had denied his request. (Our culture was that a request was actually a demand, you did not deny requests.) He had asked me for X but I did not have X. I told him to ask another coworker who did actually have X. So this first coworker went to the boss and said “NSNR, told me NO”. The boss came after me with guns-a-blazin’. I told her the truth, which she could see for herself that what I was saying was true. Then I went after the coworker that lied. I said, “If you do not understand what I said, then ask me to explain. I will explain. But do not tell people lies.”
        Turned out he wanted Y but said X, and the fact still remained that I did not have Y either and he had to go ask another coworker for Y. SIGH.

        I made such a fuss that he never did it again. I kind of carried on about how I prefer to work with a cooperative spirit, which means telling the truth and helping people to the extent I can help them. Sometimes I have to tell people to go talk to another person and so on. I had at least a five minute spiel because I sincerely believed this guy would lie again. I decided to give him the impression that lying about me would be at least a five minute discussion if not a little longer. He decided it wasn’t worth it to lie about me.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, when I interviewed for TFA corps, we had to do a five-minute lesson in front of our interviewers and other interviewees. I just approached it like any other presentation. It wasn’t too bad, I just tried to do too much in the allotted time. It was also pretty obvious who in the group had taken some education classes

      1. Regina*

        Yes, I had a similar experience with a different teaching program. The key thing they told us was to make it 3-7 minutes. You didn’t get more time to finish if you run over. (Some people did run out of time, and as you can imagine, it didn’t leave a good impression.) I was a college adjunct at the time but applying for a middle school position, and I had volunteered with middle schoolers before. I just imagined that it was like any other teaching situation that I would normally be in. Remember your audience! In my case, everyone in the room was an adult but I had to pretend they were middle schoolers. I’m sure your audience is different, just remember to gear it specifically to them. I used visual aids (on poster board because we didn’t have access to a projector–be sure to clarify) and made my presentation appropriately interactive.

    2. Artemesia*

      I never hired anyone without extensive presentations — when it was teaching it was teaching a full class period; when it was research, a half hour research presentation — for many it was both. The things that really made a difference were:
      1. Where appropriate designing presentations that engaged the group — might open with a question about their experience with the issue, or with a puzzle that the research is addressing or other methods that invite interaction early on. Something as simple as a show of hands on experiences related to the topic can get people paying attention.
      2. Organize around no more than 3 key points and illustrate them vividly with data, stories, pictures — as appropriate.
      Even arcane research presentations that use those principles were more powerful than similar research presented in a didactic monotone. I have seen very obscure research presented in a way that engaged curiosity and interest by framing it as a puzzle and then unfolding the process of solving the puzzle.

    3. super anon*

      i had to do a 15 minute presentation for my current position (i also only had 3 days to prepare it, but that’s an entirely different kettle of fish hahaha). they gave me the topic “how would i encourage X students to attend X institution?”, it was very open ended and unguided. luckily i have a lot of experience in the field, so for mine i created my own theory of recruitment and outlined an entire recruitment plan i would do for them. i used a stopwatch to time myself during the interview and it all went well. luckily i’m very good at public speaking and 5 years of procrastination in university taught me how to pull together quality things in 0 time, so it all worked out well and i got the job!

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      The only time I gave one (shortly after finishing grad school), it was a total disaster, but I’ve viewed (as an interviewer or part of a hiring committee) other people’s presentations or sample lessons, and I’d say the absolute most important things you can do are 1) build a rapport with your audience and 2) be flexible (don’t be too married to your exact planned script).

      One of the worst things you can do (apart from being completely unprepared) is being completely overprepared and too polished, as if you were creating an online video that could be viewed by anyone.

    5. cuppa*

      I had to do one last year, and I’ve been in the audience for them as a part of an interview.

      The hardest part for me was the open scope – I just had to do a presentation “on a topic of my choosing”. I chose something that I thought would be possible for me to be doing in the position.
      If you search around on this site, there are a lot of great presentation tips.

      Good luck!!


    6. TowerofJoy*

      Thanks for the replies. I’m pretty decent at presentations and they don’t make me nervous, but somehow I’ve managed to not have to do one in an interview so far.

  51. ACA*

    So my employer recently changed made some policy changes regarding short-term disability, and sent out an explanatory email full of delightful phrases like “STD policy” and “STD days” and “STD time,” and…look, there’s no other way to abbreviate it, but I can’t help but think maybe they’d have been better off not abbreviating at all.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      This is my life. I’m the company benefits administrator, and almost 2 years later, I still snicker most times I write “STD”.

      I’ve made a lot of younger new hires blush because they’ve never encountered that particular benefit. Bless him, one guy was like, “Is… should the company really be insuring folks for STDs??”

    2. Lillian McGee*

      Lord, I had to send out some emails about Short Term Disability changes too but I resisted the temptation to abbreviate! We have enough darn acronyms around here anyway…

    3. Not Gloria A.A., B.S.*

      Ha. I work for an insurance company. We call it Weekly Income frequently but it’s also called STD. We also have a FMLA administration product that some genius decided to name FML.

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      I worked at Yahoo! for a brief period of time back in 2003. While I was there, they came out with an instant messenger product for businesses and named it “Business Messenger”. But they referred to as “B.M.” in all internal emails, and the 8-year old inside of me laughed every single time I saw it. :-)

      In a similar vein, while I was attending North Texas State University the school decided to change its name to University of North Texas. The school’s radio station call letters were KNTU, so we all had a great laugh when we realized what the call letters would be under the new name. (Alas, the school kept the existing call letters, thus putting the kibosh on a bunch of sophomoric jokes.)

    5. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I used to work on a component known as PAP. Designed and named by a fully male team who had no idea why I nearly choked when began my transition into their group

  52. Master Bean Counter*

    So I had a great interview last evening. The first one in a long time that took the whole time allotted. The recruiter for the position is supposed to call me this morning for a recap. After that I’m going to try my best to put it out of my head.
    But this position needs everything I’ve already done at another position. So I’m holding onto a little hope.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      It seems like all but a done deal. I have a meeting with the CEO Wednesday! Of course I know nothing is certian until it’s certain so I’m still prepping to make a great impression. But this is the longest I’ve been down the interview path in a long time!

  53. Not a Real Giraffe*

    Just need a vent. I am headed to a major international event this weekend. I’m an event planner; this is the dream. I am the opposite of excited. Can it be over already? All my friends are gushing over how envious they are that I get to go to abroad, and all I can think about is the 7-day work week full of 16-hour days ahead of me.

    Perspective adjustments or commiserations welcome :)

    1. Orbit*

      I think that this sounds totally normal! I recently ran a 4 day long event and was not excited about it at all. There were some extenuating circumstances and event planning isn’t entirely my job, but I was incredibly stressed and dreading it. Events in general are extremely stressful – there are tons of moving parts and tons can go wrong.

      What helped me deal with the stress of the multi-day event was just taking each day on its own. I tried to focus on what needed to happen that day and not think about all of the work and time that would need to go into the next day as well. When the day is over I tried to focus on the fact that they day was over and the fact that that day’s programming had been pulled off successfully. That enabled me to power through even though thinking about the entire week gave me panic attacks. Good luck!

    2. super anon*

      good luck! i’m planning a first time ever 4 day workshopping/networking/conference event thing students that’s happening in july and i’m already freaking out about it and how much work it’s going to be, so i feel you.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      I can commiserate. I used to travel a LOT for business and all my friend just ooh’d and aah’d and said how jealous they were of me. After a few years all I could say was, “The inside of any given hotel and conference room is surprisingly much like any other.” Yay, glamorous travel. :-/

    4. Two radios and a pager*

      I feel that. I worked behind the curtain at a very large cultural arts event that many people attended as their, psychedelic drop out of society vacation. When I talked about working there I’d get a lot of waggled eyebrows that seemed to imply that I must imbibe. Meh. Organized adults have to run the show. My experience of the event was eight months of preplanning, wall to wall meetings every single day a week prior, the week of, and a week after the event followed by two months of post mortem. FUN!!

  54. super anon*

    two things.

    1. one of the associate directors in my department frequently calls all of her staff (and me, even though i am not part of her team) “girls”. she also calls me lovely, lady, and a lot of other weird, touchy names that make me feel uncomfortable. she’s also incredibly touchy feely. she grabs and caresses my hands to look at my nails without my permissions. she strokes my hair, or grabs my shoulder. i feel so infantilized by her and i hate it! i also fear that the way she interacts with me in front of others is undermining me and my professionalism. i’m in my mid-twenties and frequently get mistake for a grad student because it’s very unusual for someone my age to be in a mid-level position like the one I am in at my institution, and i am the youngest person in my office by ~20 years. i fear the way she talks to me furthers the image that i’m not a Real Adult and an employee. i need to have a conversation with her but i’m already dreading it. ugh. i wish i could just link her anonymously to that post from last week!

    2. my dept organized and hosted a workshop on cultural safety for all of the staff in the building to attend. the description clearly said the phrase “anti-racism”, and it was designed to promote understanding of a certain race and the issues they face. however, people of the race being discussed weren’t allowed to attend! a coworker described it to me as “teapot free zone”, and that it would be too triggering and disturbing for us to be there while white people “worked out their issues”. i’m still completely floored that you would have an event with “anti-racism” in the description, and then not allow people to go because of their race!

    1. Glod Glodsson*

      Wow. That second one is just insane. I mean, I guess their intentions were good, but being confronted with your privilige is the first step in getting over it.

        1. Afiendishthingy*

          Seriously. I was already thinking “wtf??” with #1 and then I got to #2 and my head exploded. Did anyone else express any concern about how weird and not ok it was to exclude POC from the anti-racism workshop?

      1. LisaLee*

        Yes. I would be seriously concerned that the “anti-racism session” would turn into a session of reinforcing people’s biases if there’s no one of the affected race there to participate or give input on the session. I also find it sort of gross and condescending that The Powers That Be decided FOR the affected group that it would be “too hard” for them without apparently consulting any member of the group.

    2. fposte*

      It’s hard for me to think much about #1 with a place so full of #2.

      (On #1, I would probably just start with the touching, because it’s the easiest. “Whoa–please don’t touch me.”)

    3. littlemoose*

      Whiskey tango foxtrot. That is all kinds of messed up. I’m sorry you are dealing with both of those situations.

    4. Florida*

      This reminds of the time I worked for a nonprofit that dealt with people with disabilities. One of the things the nonprofit did was teach people with disabilities to advocate for themselves. Also, the place hired out ASL interpreters. Many of the clients and a few staff members were deaf.
      We used to not invite certain staff members to meetings where their input was critical because we didn’t want to pay for an interpreter. Sorry Mr. Deaf IT Guy, you can’t come to the meeting about the new network, even though you re the person who knows the most about it, because that would cost us money. We might not accomplish anything in the meeting, but at least we didn’t have to spend money on an interpreter.
      It was awful!

      1. super anon*

        Wow, that’s insane. How were they even allowed to legally do that? Wouldn’t that conflict with ADA?

        I think that’s even worse than when I found out my office made the only white person on staff introduce herself as a “settler colonist” at meetings (Unsurprisingly she no longer works here).

        1. Florida*

          Well, it’s not really legal. If they were challenged, they would say that they didn’t need those 3 people at the meeting. It wasn’t that they only excluded those 3, they excluded half the staff. But sometimes one of those 3 needed to be there.
          The way I found out this was the reason was that we were having a leadership team meeting and someone suggested, “Why don’t we invite all staff to this meeting instead of just some people? It would rally help if Betty, Clyde, and Sue were there. We don’t need John and Tim, but there’s no reason they can’t be there.”
          The ED said, “Well, if we invite all the staff we have to pay for a interpreter. That’s why we haven’t done that. I think we can figure this out without Clyde.” Um, no we can’t.
          In case you were wondering, this place is not exactly a model work environment.

    5. Tammy*

      Unpopular opinion: as the often only person of colour in those trainings, I get it. I hate them. Instead it being Race 101 (most of which I am aware by dint of being a hypervisible minority in majority white spaces) it becomes a “let’s ask Tammy to talk about racism” questions. That being said it was never that I was not allowed to go, just that I explained why I did not want to go if they were going to run sessions like that (“Why can’t I say this slur? It’s not a slur. Make Tammy explain why then.”) and was allowed to opt out.

      1. TheLazyB (uk)*

        Oh god whoever was facilitating should have totally shut that down! I don’t blame you.

        I just imagined the actual scenario. Oh my god. That is lawful.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          It happens everywhere. So often. It’s so tiring. I have been caught pretty often in my short career so far having to balance when to engage because I need to balance advocating for underrepresented groups and being the ‘loud, bossy, never satisfied’ only person of color in the room. Some of the newer staff are people of color so I hope adding diversity to the teams will help this.

  55. Crylo Ren*

    On Tuesday, everyone in our building was told that in order to cut costs, our company was shuttering our HQ and relocating to [city on the opposite side of the country] in November. This means that 300+ of us, at all levels, will be out of a job this year. However, no one is officially getting “walked out” until April at the earliest, and there’s a big possibility that certain employees/teams will stay until November, when the building’s sale is finalized.
    What makes this extra sucky for my situation in particular is that both my fiance and I work for the same company, albeit in different departments, but both were affected in the layoff. So we’ll both be out of a job by November, if not earlier.

    Anyone have any advice for dealing with such a long and uncertain notice period for layoffs? Particularly dealing with the inevitable downturn in morale throughout the organization?
    Or any tips for coping when both you and your partner are likely going to be out of a job around the same time?

    I’ve already read Alison’s tips on what to do after a layoff (and I have been taking what actions I can at this early stage), but I’d be so grateful for any additional commiseration or advice that anyone can provide. To say I’m devastated about what has happened is a huge understatement.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      I’d bet you’re already doing this, but definitely both of you should be looking for new jobs now, especially because you’re both on the way out. It would be one thing if both of your incomes weren’t tied up in the same uncertainty, but you don’t wanna gamble on both of them.

      PS – I freaking love your name. I’m completely obsessed with TFA since I saw it. :)

      1. Crylo Ren*

        Yes, we’re absolutely looking for jobs and I’ve already applied to several starting from the day they told us. I’m more senior to my fiance so I have more to lose financially from being out of a job. If I can at least get away without a break in my salary then we can coast for a little bit until he finds a role as well.

        Ha, thank you! :) I do think it’s a pretty appropriate name for his character :P

    2. Artemesia*

      I have been through the long layoff when my department was cut in a merger but those of us at my level were given one year contracts. Of course you are now looking for new positions and are devoting most of your energy to that. Do what you must at work but your real job is the next big thing. The only thing that makes this bearable is to focus on opportunity — you have the opportunity to reframe your future, to think of new directions that working for this company may have precluded. Maybe you can organize your new job starts so you can take a month long international backpacking trip or something like that. If you have a paycheck coming in for several months you might be able to swing something like that with COBRA as your bridge for insurance (You don’t have to actually pay for COBRA for 60 days, so you can have the coverage paid retroactively, in a short work gap like this.) Think about all the ways this change is a good thing (and believe me I know how hard that is — but the attitude shows when you are looking for new jobs and helps you land on your feet.) For me it was the new baby I had in the midst of losing my career — I was able to appreciate the time off and the part time job I was able to get that led me to a 35 year reasonably prestigious career move on the heels of and using that job as leverage.) It sucks to have this kind of layoff; the only saving grace is figuring out how to make it an opportunity and not a disaster. Hope it goes well.

      1. Crylo Ren*

        Yup, we are both doing that. In a way the long notice period has been a good thing because we are all in the same boat and we don’t have to make it a secret that we’re job-searching, which I’ve always found is one of the more unpleasant aspects of the process.
        Thank you so much for the commiseration! When things like this happen it can be hard to remember that others have gone through it too and have come out just fine on the other end. I appreciate your kind words.

    3. Graciosa*

      As hard as it is to hear, the “long and uncertain notice period” is actually a blessing if you focus on *long* rather than *uncertain*.

      You have the opportunity to get really focused on your job searches right now – and that’s what you need to do. Layoffs are one area where the more notice you get the better.

      What you need to do first is get your search in high gear immediately. This includes updating your master resume (I’m assuming you’re tweaking it appropriately for each job to which you apply), alerting your references and industry contacts, thinking about what other companies might be a good fit for you (and doing some preliminary research on those companies and whether you have any good inside contacts), and managing your LinkedIn account very regularly.

      Your next priority is your finances. If you already have a sufficient emergency fund, that’s great, but you need to think seriously about cutting non-essential spending immediately if you don’t. With such a long notice period, you have time to take steps you wouldn’t otherwise take after a layoff (for example, instead of renewing an annual lease on your apartment, you can think about whether there are less expensive alternatives).

      This is not mean to add to your stress and depression (which are perfectly normal, by the way) but to help you come out of this stronger than ever. I had seen *many* people go through layoffs before I was laid off myself, and the ones who came out of it the most successfully were the ones who took intelligent, thoughtful, targeted actions to manage through it. Many people flounder, avoiding dealing with finances or job searching, or going to extremes of job searching by either frantically applying to everything possible or refusing to apply to anything that wasn’t perfect. This is hard to navigate, but doing it successfully is an achievement.

      The third of your top priorities is taking care of yourself and your relationships. You need to watch your health (exercise, eating, sleep, recreation) and make good use of your supportive network (without letting this sink you into a spiral of negativity). This is also very hard to do.

      Having been through this, I will wish you luck, but assure you that you *can* get through this and come out better on the other side. I ended up with a great new job at another company, but only after a lengthy and stressful period of unemployment. My career has been much better with my new employer than it would ever have been at the old, but it was hard to believe that it would be before it happened.

      Have faith in yourself, and good luck.

      1. Crylo Ren*

        Thank you, I needed to hear that. The long notice period really has been a good thing for us because it means that everyone here is in the same boat and we’re not having to sneak around to apply for new positions. It’s very freeing to be able to just come right out and ask people if they can help with references. And thankfully we have at least until April before the real cuts begin, so fingers crossed that if we keep up the momentum with searching, at least one of us can find something before we have to get unemployment, COBRA etc.

        I know this has happened to others before and will happen again – it’s just business after all – but it’s still really encouraging and relieving to hear that others have made it through and come out better for it. Thank you :)

  56. Stephanie*

    My boss’ boss sent me an e-card in recognition for all my efforts during our busy season (which recently ended). I click on the link thinking there’s maybe an online gift certificate in there or something…nope. Then I was just thinking “The f*ck do I do with an e-card?” I guess I at least have documented record of good performance now in my employee file.

    1. Audiophile*

      I’ve received some useless awards, think “employee of the quarter” or “certificate of appreciation” type stuff. But never an e-card.

    2. acmx*

      Is it really an e-card or is it a recognition card? A precious company gave values cards (for exhibiting one our core values) and an on the spot award (never figured out the difference) .

      If it’s a recognition type card, it should be good toward performance reviews, I think.

    3. Elsajeni*

      A long time ago I had a roommate who was working freight at a department store, and his manager told him he was getting a reward for his good performance. Great! Awesome! Maybe it’s a bonus, or at least a Starbucks gift card or something?

      It turned out to be a small enameled pin to put on his name badge. A rectangular pin, no art or decoration on it, just lettering, which read: REWARD.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        That cracks me up, reminds me of the episode of the Office where Dwight makes a banner for Kelly’s birthday that says “IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY.”

  57. ASJ*

    Question for the commentariat… have you ever had to deal with a job posting that basically does not describe the job at all? My father sent me one for the RCMP last night. It has a (very extensive) list of criteria but doesn’t say anything about the job itself. So I can’t even tell if it’s something that I would like/enjoy/should bother applying for. And in terms of a cover letter, it almost sounds like they’re looking more for bullet points than anything (i.e., I gained [x experience] at [y location], I gained [z experience] at [m location], etc…]. This just seems very odd to me.

    1. Jennifer*

      I don’t think I’d apply for the job if I literally can’t find out what the job is or if I’d like it.

      1. Glod Glodsson*

        Yes, I applied to one once. They gave a description of the company culture and what they wanted in an employee, but only a vague job title. They invited me to an interview and when I glanced over to their papers I saw my resume, and one of the interviewers had written TOO YOUNG?!?! on it in giant letters, which made me laugh. During the interview, the two people kept interrupting each other to change the discription of the job. “It’s 30% pr.” “No, it’s more like 50% PR but you’ll be reporting directly to the head of marketing.” “Or maybe the head of sales.” “Hm, yeah, that might be better.” Turns out it was for a newly created function they didn’t know how to fill in themselves yet. In retrospect, I totally should have called or mailed to ask if they could tell me more about what the job was actually about, it would have saved me time! Didn’t get the job. I think I was too young :D

    2. Beth*

      Is it like other federal jobs? The cover letters and resumes for those need to be really detailed and specific so it could be the same. I’d try searching to see if the posting is hosted anywhere else with more detail, perhaps you are only seeing part of it

      1. Beth*

        Just checked the RCMP site and it has some good info if it’s the dispatcher job you were looking at

        1. ASJ*

          It’s not the dispatcher job; honestly I don’t think I could handle the high stress of that position. You’ve got a good idea though. I’ll grab the position name and google it to see what comes up.

  58. Clever Name*

    Also, general vent: it’s really exhausting sharing an office with someone who externally processes everything. I’m wearing my earbuds right now.

  59. wannabefreelancer*

    I work with someone named Joaquin and now I always want to email him with, “Hi Wakeen,”

    Cracks me up.

  60. Ears*

    How do I tell the difference between people giving me useful information and people monologuing? What do I do about it?

    I recently started at an entry level job, so I’m asking a lot of questions. Everyone I work with has been at the company at least fifteen years. Sometimes, my question about teapot handle shapes turns into a company history lesson or a rant about how chocolate supplier X is so annoying to work with. So I stand there and listen because they’re helping me, I don’t want to be rude, right? But I can only absorb so much information at once, and I want to get the stuff I really need to know. It makes me avoid asking questions because I don’t want to be trapped for a half hour listening to info of dubious relevance.

    What’s also chafing me is I’m young and female, and my coworkers are all middle-aged and male, and it’s all very Men Explain Things To Me. I’m getting the gloomy sense that I’m gearing up for a lifetime of this as a woman in STEM. Tips on dealing with this dynamic?

    1. OriginalEmma*

      I would apologize for interrupting then interrupt them with specific questions. “OK, it sounds like working with Frey Industries has been frustrating but I need to know right now is how to make shaping software do [x].” Keep redirecting until you get your answer.

      I would even preface your whole approach to your coworkers by, nicely, stating that you have a question you need answered, not that you need advice but you’d be happy to catch up on the history of [whatever] at another time. Once you have your answer, thank them for their time and return to your task.

      1. Audiophile*

        +1. I started a new job and I often find I get a brief history of things when I ask questions. Which makes one wary of asking questions. But like OrignalEmma said, if you interrupt and redirect, politely, you can usually get the conversation back on track. I’ve found it useful to say something like “what I’m actually looking for..” or “my question really is…” because then they’ll see that I haven’t gotten the answer I needed and we circle back to it.

  61. Regina*

    I’m a graphic designer at a college. I haven’t been at this particular college very long. We have 2 student workers who also do graphic design work. I got a new Mac when I started, but the students have hand-me-down Macs from elsewhere on campus, which right now are 10 years old. It takes a long time to start the computers up, and more time to open Adobe software, then MORE time to open files. From the computer being off to having a file open and ready to work on can take up to 15 minutes. We recently inquired as to when they are scheduled to be replaced. The answer was in 2021, because Macs last longer than PCs. In 2021, the computers will be 15 years old. At the previous institution where I worked (also a college), we leased our Macs, so no one was using a Mac older than 3 years. I’m really not used to the thinking that a Mac used for professional design work should last 15 years.

    I’m wondering what the policies are where others work in similar positions.

    And how would you phrase a request for new machines when obviously your needs are not being understood?

    1. Sadsack*

      I don’t know about the replacement policy issue, but can you all just not shut down your pcs? Just put them to sleep or on stand by? I only completely shut down my windows laptop once a week.

      1. Regina*

        Well, it’s not *just* start-up time that is a problem, that was just the specific example I gave. Programs crash a lot, saving files takes forever, and the Adobe software in general runs very slowly. All of this leads to frustration for the student workers and lower productivity levels.

        1. Sadsack*

          I see, that does sound extremely frustrating and time-wadyong. A 15-year period for computers also sounds really strange. I wonder where they came up with that timeframe. I think our is closer to 5 years.

    2. KR*

      I would keep a log of your lag time and the time you’re wasting waiting for them to start up. They’re probably losing more money in payroll than they are in PC costs. Perhaps you could poll different graphic design businesses and departments and ask what their turnaround time for Macs are? It sounds like your IT department (or whoever is making the computer related purchases) are wildly out of touch with reality. We have a 5 yr turnaround, but most of them don’t make it to 5 years and end up getting replaced sooner rather than later (all Windows based systems).
      You’re completely right on this one, by the way.

      1. Regina*

        I was thinking of doing that (keeping a log) and seeing what they say when they look at the numbers. I think the issue is that the people in charge of making this timeline are PC users, and have unrealistic expectations of how long a Mac will last. It would be completely laughable if I asked them if they were planning to keep their PC for 15 years. It’s just as laughable for a Mac but they don’t see that.

        1. Anxa*

          Also, just because a computer is too in good shape, doesn’t mean it’s just as functional as it was.

          My mac is from 2008 and I’ve pretty much abused it for 7+ years. Even though my computer is fine, there are limits on how I can update software and browsers just because its too old.

          In the future, I don’t know if I’d purchase such a long-lasting computer, knowing how much faster and faster things change.

          |Today I finally had to update my operating system (a friend gave me their old update to snow leopard) because firefox is no longer supported.

    3. fposte*

      Our standards are elastic–replacement intervals have gotten longer as the money dwindles. But 10 years for doing *graphic design* is insane–we’re basically at 5 years for most stations, no graphic design involved.

      I’m afraid I think this is a bad sign overall for this program. Can students even graduate with competitive skills with such experience? Is graphic design folded into some larger department with a chair that funds something else at the expense of graphic design?

      What I’d do is make a proposal, complete with numbers. How much would it cost to acquire new/refurb Macs, either bought or leased? What’s the standard age of computers in graphic design programs elsewhere?

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I somehow decided these were design students, rather than employees. So never mind the competitive and department chair stuff, but I still think a proposal would be a good idea.

      2. Regina*

        To clarify, the student workers use newer computers in their graphic design *classes* on campus, and they’re getting a solid education. We work in a completely separate department that doesn’t specialize in creative services.

        I think that they could get a lot more out of their work study positions with better computers, but despite their computers being on the slow side, they’re using Adobe CC 2015 and developing the appropriate skills to go out into the job market.

        1. fposte*

          How long do they keep the Macs for educational use? Can you get the three-year Macs or whatever when they cycle out?

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m kind of shocked 10-year-old Macs even run the latest version of Adobe Creative Suite… or maybe you’re still using Adobe CS3?

      Yes, Mac hardware is fairly sturdy, but 10 years is pushing it in terms of software usability (as you well can see).

      If your college isn’t willing to spend the money to upgrade the actual machines, any chance they’d be willing to replace the hard drives with SSDs? You will likely see a marked improvement in performance.

      1. Regina*

        A solid state drive is a good suggestion. Somehow we are still able to run the latest versions of Adobe CC, but it’s a stretch to think we’ll make it another 5 years and still be able to do so.

        1. Tris Prior*

          I was going to say the same thing – I’m impressed that your Macs can run CC! My 8-year-old macbook chokes on CS5 so I don’t dare try CC; that would pound the final nail into its coffin.

          Can you manually update CC if/when you choose to, like other software updates? Or does Adobe push the updates whenever they feel like it? Because if it’s the latter, that might be an argument for getting new Macs – that one of these days they’re going to choke on the update and then no one will be able to use their design software.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m wondering what the policies are where others work in similar positions.

      I missed this part the first time I read through your question. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any other college that replaces graphic-design-oriented Macs every 15 years!

      Even for general use, I wouldn’t wait 15 years to replace a Mac, but especially for graphic design—that stuff is very resource intensive. My current school (secondary) has all Macs, and we replace on a roughly 3-year cycle. Our 5-year-old Macs are in low-resource roles… or just donated to other schools that need them.

      Honestly, even if you got them refurbished MacBook Airs (about $US850), the performance and responsiveness would be so much better. How much are they paying for Windows PCs there—$400? $600? Your situation is ridiculous / tech comedy fodder.

  62. Update On Department*

    I wrote in a couple weeks ago about some scary changes hitting my department. All the senior leads were taken away overnight, another team with almost identical job tasks was created, our director left, as did all of our longest tenure employees and no one had any real information.

    As far as my department goes, they still insist everything is “fine” and there has at least been some clarification on how the new team will be different from ours. However it’s still not clear what the future holds for that department.

    For me things have really picked up! I took everyone’s advice and applied for an internal role. I’m happy to report that I was just offered the promotion – and it comes with over a 40% raise! I’ll be in a new department by Feb 1. Thanks for the advice!

    1. Artemesia*

      A great example of how potentially disastrous changes can also trigger opportunities for some. Congratulations for seizing the day and not just sitting and whining. I have seen this over and over — even disaster results in good things for those who don’t let it immobilize them.

  63. Tris Prior*

    So, I’m pretty sure I bombed a video interview earlier this week. :( It was a thing where questions flashed on the screen and I had to video-record my answers to them, with no one on the other end to talk to. I’d already had a phone interview with this company, which went well, but for some reason I became like Cindy Brady in that episode of Brady Bunch where she has to be on TV or something and she just freezes up when the “recording” light goes on.

    It was way harder than I expected to maintain eye contact with the camera while also keeping an eye on the time-limit bar. And I had to keep glancing back over to the question on screen because all the questions were variations on “Tell us about your experience with these seven different softwares/five different aspects of managing a project/etc”. So I was trying to make sure I hit every point they were asking about and didn’t skip anything they wanted to know about. In doing so, I probably failed miserably at maintaining “eye contact.” It is harder than it sounds to keep looking into the webcam!

    ARGH. Didn’t help that the webcam made me look at least 10 years older than I am (I’m over 40 as it is) and somehow made my nose look enormous?! So I started out super self conscious.

    Has anyone successfully passed one of these? Tips? I do fine talking to actual people but talking to a camera was just so awkward. I guess this is a thing companies are doing now so I’m going to have to improve on this. My only consolation is that everyone I’ve talked to about this has said, “wow, that sounds really hard, I don’t know how well I’d do with that.” So maybe everyone who’s interviewed this way comes off as somewhat of an awkward doofus?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      No tips but had the same experience of coming across as awkward! It’s one thing when you have an actual person to speak to on the other end of a video interview, but it’s so weird to answer questions that just flash across the screen. I think that’s the hardest kind of interview!

  64. Trainer*

    Anyone have suggestions for FREE ways to manage time and projects. I’m struggling with this and need a way to keep better track of where I am on a project. But more so, I need a way to easily send managers the status of multiple projects at once along with how I anticipate deadlines will change when I am asked to make something new a priority over my existing workload.

    In other words, I want to send them a visual that shows project timelines as is versus a projected timeline if I add other projects into that.

    Any ideas?

    1. Clever Name*

      Maybe see if there is a freeware version of MS Project? Will your company not pay for real software? A coworker of mine uses Asana, which is a web based task application. Do you have Excel? Maybe see if it will let you generate gantt chart, but that’s really what project does. And project doesn’t let you share stuff easily unless you have share point.

  65. Snowglobe*

    Mr. Snowglobe has been on a long-term assignment out of state (assignment is in California which might be relevant). The owner of the company lives about 2 hours away from the work site; and has required the team to stay in his house, in order to save money on hotels (I know that’s ridiculous, but that’s not the question.). Commute time to the site is 4 hours daily, but the team is not being paid for travel time (they are non-exempt). Given that this is not the regular work location, should daily travel time be paid?

    1. Artemesia*

      Wow. No useful advise since the managers here are obviously exploitive bullies willing to inflict 12 hour days on their staff just because they can and then no compensate them for the extra costs that involves to them. I assume if he could get a better job with decent humans he would.

    2. HR in California*

      Yes, the travel time should be paid at least at the minimum wage, which is $10.00 in California now (specific cities may have a higher minimum wage). Mr. Snowglobe might want to file a claim with DLSE (Department of Labor Standards Enforcement). It sounds like he has grounds for a unpaid wages claim but only DLSE can determine that for sure.

  66. OriginalEmma*

    Taking mass transit to work brightens my day. It gives me a built-in 2-mile round trip walk (between walking from home to the light rail, and then through office grounds to get to my work space) and is great “me” too. I notice I arrive at work EARLIER than if I drive (because I’m hitting that snooze button during driving days) and I don’t feel as cooped up and anxious. I’ve also noticed I’m much more apt to mass trans-it for other destinations as well; it’s becoming a wonderful habit.

    What changes to your commute have given you better quality of life?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Being able to work from home two days a week!

      My commute is 30 miles each way – in city/suburban traffic – so it’s been a huge help in terms of saving some gas and sanity.

    2. Lillian McGee*

      My commute is similar to yours and I love it! Except… walking from the downtown station to my office (and vice-versa). The sidewalks congested with slow walkers, smokers, tourists, etc… the taxis constantly blowing red lights… bikers who obey neither the rules of the road nor the rules of the sidewalk… clueless suburban drivers with no idea how to navigate one-way streets… I try to mitigate this by taking a less direct route to the office where the sidewalks are a little less dense.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I would love this so much.
      One small change I made was to leave later in the morning and then work through lunchtime and leave a little earlier. It means I don’t hit the worst of the rush-hour traffic (I have to drive through an industrial area and then across town to get to work). I don’t know how long it will last now that there have been some changes, though. :\ But I’m jealous– I would love to take public transport and not have to drive among idiots!

    4. super anon*

      actually getting a car vastly improved my quality of life! my commute to work is a 15-20 minute drive, but if i take transit it’s easily 60+ minutes to get there, involving walking to a bus that is constantly full, or taking 2 to 3 busses depending on the time of day. considering it’s less than 12 km to work having to transit was driving me crazy.

      i do miss the walking aspects of taking the bus, but i go to the gym more now and make sure to take walks at lunch to supplement the missing physical activity.

    5. Hattie McDoogal*

      I bike to work, weather permitting. It’s about 10 km each way and most of it is on dedicated bike paths and is quite scenic. I have to leave earlier if I want to bike the whole way in the morning, but if I instead bike to the train station it lets me leave later and I get to avoid the bus, which is the worst part of my commute anyway. The ride home is often a good decompress/stress relief after a bad day at work.

      1. Tau*

        Ah, I’m so jealous! I cycle to work, but it’s a really, *really* unpleasant road (lots of traffic, curvy road but fast drivers, bad or no lighting, huge puddles forming at the sides when it rains, no cycle lane and often no pavement either…) and I basically have to flex my schedule to well and truly avoid a) rush hour b) full darkness or it just gets too dangerous. In short, not exactly destressing. :( There is a cycle path, sadly too roundabout to do on a regular basis it looks like (I think it’d be something along the lines of 12-15 km one way, to my current 6 or so) but I will really have to check it out once the days get a bit longer to see if it’d work at least every now and then, or in one direction. I’m Very Dedicated to cycling everywhere I can, but the way things stand is just really unpleasant. :(

    6. SL #2*

      Actually being able to drive to and park at work!

      My old job had no parking space at all (downtown SF), but the Muni (light rail trains) station was at the end of my block, so I’d take that into downtown (approx. 40 mins) and then walk another quarter-mile to the office. Not bad, except that Muni constantly broke down, was consistently late and packed, and it made staying late at work really nerve-wracking for me because I was terrified to take the train alone… and of course, I sometimes had to stay late for events (I was in an event-planning role). And then Muni would run a train every 30 minutes instead of every 12 and I wouldn’t get home for another hour.

      Now? If I’m staying late, then I just hop in my car and drive right home once I’m done. I live and work in my hometown so I’m super-familiar with all the roads and freeways without even needing Waze or Google Maps… yes, my commuting costs have gone up because of gas prices, but it’s been so worth it just to NOT be anxious about late-night mass transit.

  67. Carrie in Scotland*


    I am to print out 204 certificates to thank the people we use for placements for supporting the programme. I’ve already added/deleted names and their addresses where appropriate in excel. My manager thinks this will take me all day. It will not because I KNOW MAIL MERGE. I even showed her how to do it (& will write a step by step for her) and said “this will not take me all day” (as we only have 140 sheets of posh paper – know how I know this? Because I had to count the paper!!) and asked if there was anything else. There is not, although she showed me how to laminate. Except I can’t laminate because the Head of Institute has to sign them all first…I plan to give this example when I’m asked for feedback on the role on the lack of work/anyone could do this. I am almost certain this job exists because my manager can’t fit it into her 22 hours a week but it definitely doesn’t need me full time to be doing it!!

    The brightside is I have not one but two interviews next week and have handed in my notice so at least I have an end date & light at the end of the tunnel.

    Also: I gave my main reason for leaving as financial. Since when does this mean people comment on your choices!?

    //end rant.

      1. fposte*

        Carve this in stone somewhere. The amount of time you save by just accepting this as true is immense.

  68. Sparrow*

    It’s time for 2015 performance reviews at my company. My manager was honest with us and said that she’s not able to give us the ratings she thinks we deserve. When she initially submitted her performance reviews, she was told she had to change the ratings. Only a percentage of people can be in the Exceeds Expectations category and others have to be given Meets Expectations even if she feels like that’s not the case. Is this the case at other companies as well?

    1. squids*

      I’ve had similar: it’s not a percentage, but ranking someone Exceeds Expectations (overall) requires a review by 3 other managers to be approved. Lots of work for the manager to try to push it through.

    2. Red Wheel*

      Yes. definitely. There is a perception at my company that not everyone can “exceed expectations”. I have seen this at other employers as well.

    3. Mkb*

      Yes, my boss has made me change my direct reports scores several times. It sucks and is a horrible position to put someone in.

  69. Owl*

    Just looking for some commiseration — I started a new job in September of last year. The type of work I’m in has a lot to do with state rules and regulations, and it was my first time working in a new state, so I struggled a bit and I know my projects were taking longer to finish than they normally should. However I only worked on two (2) projects over those four months, and I was looking forward to whatever my next project was going to be, as I felt like, since I’d been through the process, I was going to have a pretty good handle on it this time.

    Well, they fired me on Monday. There had been no warning whatsoever — certainly no one-on-one meetings, but I never even got a single “this is taking too long” or “this is over budget” comment the entire time. In the “termination” meeting I said “I wish you had said something sooner” (I said that a few times, I was floored and couldn’t think of much to say) and my one manager says “that’s not my management style.” I was again too shocked to say anything, but, what? Your management style is . . . not to give feedback? What even is that?

    Anyway it’s at least partly my fault, I knew I was struggling and I should have checked in with my managers sooner, to make sure that they thought things were still acceptably within new-employee parameters. Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson on that front. Small companies, though, am I right? I got little to no feedback at my last company either, though at least they didn’t fire me.

    Anyway. Please wish me luck on my new job search.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      It sounds like his management style is… not to manage? That’s all I can work out here, that he goes with it when something’s fine but takes the nuclear option when it’s not. I bet he blows through his budget just hiring new people instead of taking a few minutes to give feedback.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. Owl*

        Yeah, I just didn’t get how he thought that his “management style” was in the best interest of his business. Oh well.

        And thanks!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        his management style is … not to manage?

        HA! that is better than the one I had. His style of management is RMM- Read My Mind. I can’t say what I really think here, sooo I will go with “I am so sorry this happened to you!”

        That will make good material for interview questions you can ask, such as, how does management handle progress reviews for a new employee?

        His business won’t last very long and he will wonder why. (am shaking my head….)

    2. Crylo Ren*

      That is really sucky. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It sounds like even if you *had* tried to check in beforehand, your manager probably wouldn’t have given you the feedback you needed to hear anyway. Best of luck!

  70. Saleslady*

    I just accepted a part time job that begins Monday morning. I am emailing back and forth with the director to get the paperwork complete and she essentially is questioning how I could possibly not be receiving her emails with hiring docs. She works offsite to where I would be and I offered to come in anywhere today to complete the paperwork, but she still keeps asking me to check my spam folder. I am at a loss. What am I supposed to do? She prefers email so I don’t want to call her, but should I? I am so anxious about this and this back and forth is making me question whether I want to even work here, but it is something I am passionate about and have worked hard to gain the qualifications for.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Does your email provider block emails with large attachments? That might be your issue here. Ask her to send separate emails with each document and sight the attachment limit as an issue. Might work.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      I had this happen once, not sure what happened. But if was my lease agreement for an apartment out of state that I had to virtually sign. For some reason it wouldn’t show up in my outlook email as an attachment. After several tries where it wasn’t even indicated as an attachment, I had them send it to gmail. Few months later, found the lease in my outlook onedrive. For some reason it had put it there automatically. Never done it again, so maybe it was the size.

  71. SMT*

    I need the Open Thread!!!

    I’ve been miserable in my job (although performing highly enough that I’ve been considered for promotions, and may possibly finally get one this year). I’ve been looking for HR roles within my company, and had a phone screening today for an entry-level payroll coordinator position. Here’s what I learned:
    1) It’s 20 hours a week, and a long term seasonal position. I should be able to go back to my current role, although I would definitely not ever get promoted – and that’s if my current division lets me leave for the next two peak seasons.
    2) My rate of pay may be determined by what I’m currently making in my current role, but the woman I spoke to wasn’t able to say for sure. My vacation and PTO (I have a little over a month’s worth accumulated) would most likely be cashed out since it’s a long term seasonal position.
    3) I have until Tuesday to decide if I want to proceed.

    I’ve discussed it with my fiance, and he suggested I ask about how the hours are structured (would I have an extra couple days off a week for a second job? I’m unable to pick up hours outside of HR within my company during this time.) Is it worth the sacrifices to potentially have a foot in the door? I have no idea what to do.

    What else should I ask? What else should I consider?

    1. misspiggy*

      I’m not quite getting why you would want this role, particularly as they haven’t been definite with you about anything but expect you to tell them if you want to continue on the basis of what seems very unclear information Payroll often isn’t the same as HR, or in the same team, so I’m not sure that this role would get you a foot in the door HR wise. It also seems that a promotion in your current team way not materialise if you ditched them for a while. Would it be better staying in your current job, getting the promotion, and looking for full time HR roles outside the company? Sorry if I’m missing something!

  72. Organizing Help*

    I’ve been in my current job for about 18 months. In that time, my client load went from 4 clients (which was sorta manageable) to 12 (go me!). People with my job function at other companies usually only handle 1-3 clients because each client’s workload is intense. I’m having trouble keeping track of everything I have to do both in the short term and the long term. Like, I’ll have an idea for one client, but 13 other fires get in the way, so by the time I can really get to that idea, it’s been like 4 months. And I’ve forgotten most of what made the idea so great. Or, I’ll forget where I am with a client, and need to spend 1+hours refreshing my memory. Until I get some of the help I need (the CEO promises they’re looking for at least 1 more person), I need something to help me stay organized. Up until now, I’ve been writing down what I need to do, but paper isn’t cutting it. I’m trying Workflowy to keep on top of things, but I was wondering if there’s anything else out there. Any help is appreciated! TIA!

    (And let’s not talk about how great this is for my motivation — I feel like I’m staring up at a mountain of work every day that just keeps getting larger and more difficult. Meaning there’s little satisfaction to actually accomplishing anything and it hinders my ability to get start on any task because they all seem so looming!)

    1. fposte*

      No help, I’m afraid, but I’d love to know the same, so I’ll be interested in other people’s answers. I’ll have a look at Workflowy myself.

    2. Carmie*

      Look into Getting Things Done by David Allen to help you process all of the information and task you have coming into your workspace. It’s very helpful and changed the way I worked.

      1. Clever Name*

        Second this. I also use a web app called todoist, and it’s been really helpful. It’s meant to be a giant organizable task list with reminders, but I also use it for general keeping track of stuff for my projects.