open thread – January 22-23, 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 :)

{ 1,259 comments… read them below }

  1. Trill*

    I was offered an out-of-state job based on phone interview only.
    Before I decide whether or not to accept, I am planning to fly out, meet the team, talk more to the manager, etc.

    My question is: What do I wear?? Do I still need to take my suit even though its not technically an interview?
    For context, its a health care job and prospective future coworkers will all be in scrubs, although if it were a true interview I would definitely be in a suit. Also if it makes a difference, I’m a woman.

    1. Swarley*

      I’d wear a suit. It may not be an interview, but you will be making your first in-person impression upon your future colleagues. Why not dress to impress? And congratulations on the offer!

    2. Wonkette*

      I think that maybe a dress or skirt with a blazer may help you look professional but not as formal as you would in an interview suit. Or maybe suit separates (ex. a tweed jacket with slacks). For reference, I work in the legal field and am also a woman.

      1. em2mb*

        I think the sport coat for women is definitely the way to go. A suit is going to feel very formal if your (potential) new coworkers are in scrubs. It’s my go to when I want to look professional but know I am going to be very overdressed in comparison to the people interviewing me.

    3. Jiffy*

      Yes professional business wear to make a great impression! I am also a nurse and used to work in a jail. Someone came in for an interview in scrubs and sneakers…they hired her against our recommendations and ended up having to fire her soon after for poor performance. All I could think was “Who shows up for an interview in scrubs??”

  2. Violetta*

    I wish the ads would stop trying to show me stuff about celebrity deaths (Natalie Cole, Amy Winehouse notably) :/ I don’t mind the other content but this feels weirdly sensationalist.

    1. moss*

      I get store ads. Probably they are based on your recent history. (I online shop too much!) You can try clearing cookies or your cache or history.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Oddly I keep getting one for motorcycle mechanic school and I haven’t searched for anything remotely related to that lol.

      2. Ops Analyst*

        I don’t think it’s related to that. I literally never look at celebrity stuff and I primarily get celebrity ads on AAM for some reason.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Assuming you’re talking about the ad box right above the comments, they’re a pretty big revenue-producer and are playing a significant part in supporting the amount of time and upkeep needed to continue the site.

      1. Violetta*

        I understand that – and I don’t mind any of the celebrity-related content aside from the death stuff, which feels very off to me.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sadly, I can’t control that. The box is either there or it’s not, and once it’s there, they send through whatever stories they send through. And death is huge in celebrity news, apparently.

    3. Elysian*

      On my new work computer I can’t install an adblocker or a flash blocker, and holy cow I didn’t realize how bad the Internet is without it. I’m happy to allow ads because I understand that web pages need revenue, but this page routinely tries to load six autoplay videos at a time on me and drags my browser into the ground. I had to tell Chrome to stop loading the page just to be able to post this comment, otherwise the page was basically frozen as it attempted to load all the ads. I love this site, AAM, but I may have to visit at home or on my phone only (and consequently, less) just because I can’t get the page to load without third-party ad-on assistance.

        1. Alston*

          I actually had to install an adblocker today– unfortunately the site kept freezing my entire computer. After I installed the blocker the issue stopped.

          1. MsChandandlerBong*

            If it crops up again, try disabling Flash in your browser. For a while, I actually thought my laptop was about to die. I couldn’t scroll down the page without it freezing, my browser was always crashing, etc. Then I realized my laptop was fine as long as I didn’t have AAM open in my browser. I disabled Flash, and I haven’t had a problem with it since.

            1. GH in SoCAl*

              I had the exact same experience. I was having to reboot constantly. Bonus, having Flash disabled keeps ads from autoplaying on other cluttered sites too.

        2. Miles*

          If you ever manage to get the ads to be non-intrusive enough, some ad-blocker makers have audit processes in place where your site is automatically white-listed if it can pass their guidelines. For example, adblock plus does this.

          I personally never disable my ad blocker except if it’s through this way. Ever since one particular site I visit (a triweekly comic strip about a reporter with a talking cactus) ended up with an ad that contained a computer virus, that is. If I recall correctly, it took an entire week for the site owner to convince the advertiser to stop showing that ad on her site as well.

      1. Anonannah*

        I normally don’t mind ads but I’ve gotten a really obnoxious pop up ad a few times on my phone. It says I’ve been selected to test the new iPhone 7. Then it won’t let you close the window without clicking on it which redirects to a survey page.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I actually have a solution to this one! I talked to my ad network about this, and they said it’s been happening internet-wide to iPhone and iOS users. Here are two solutions that have worked for other people:

          Change Cookie Settings
          1. Click Settings on your iPhone
          2. Select Safari
          3. Scroll down and click Block Cookies
          4. Select Allow for Current Website Only

          Clear All Website Data
          1. Double-click your home button and close Safari
          2. Go to Settings
          3. Select Safari
          4. Scroll down and click Clear History and Website Data
          – Note: This will close all of your Safari browser windows

      2. Adam*

        I don’t use adblock because I’m one part too lazy to figure it out and one part I really do want the websites I really like to get their money, but sometimes AAM has caused my browser to start to chug. That’s not a huge deal, but is there a way to keep the site from auto-playing videos or sounds? It’s kind of weird to have the site open then have this random audio that I can’t identify start playing all of a sudden.

        1. Alston*

          adblockers can be really easy. adblockplus . org is literally a one click process to install. And I think that should prevent the auto playing.

          1. Adam*

            Is there a happy medium between disabling ads that annoy me but still giving sites revenue? There are many sites I frequent, AAM included, that I don’t want to cut off credit for. I don’t work in this area so I don’t know much about internet ads.

            1. Elsajeni*

              Disabling Flash has worked really well for me — I still see enough ads that I feel like I’m contributing to site revenue, but the more intrusive and bandwidth-consuming ones are blocked. I don’t know what browser you use, but for Firefox, it’s very straightforward — in your Options menu, go to Add-ons, select Plugins from the left-side menu, find Shockwave Flash in the list, and change the drop-down menu on the right to “Ask to activate.”

      3. The IT Manager*

        I have stopped reading the sub-pages with the comments at work. I can’t install ad blocker and I don’t want those videos to play on my work connection. I still look at the main page, but my AAM usage is dropping off. I can’t tell if it is directly related to the ad changed, but that’s at least a bit of it.

    4. The Optimizer*

      The ads drag my browser down as well but the auto play audio on this site is what finally prompted me to install an ad blocker. I can’t have things playing while I am trying to pass the time during online meetings, calls, etc.

  3. afiendishthingy*

    Procrastinators – What low/dubious-priority tasks do you spend way too much time on because they’re more fun than your high-priority tasks? I find myself hyperfocusing on formatting tables in Word – borders and shading for hours! It’s strangely meditative. I think it’s ok for once in a while – my job is pretty emotionally and mentally demanding and sometimes my brain needs a break.

    What about you?

    1. Folklorist*

      Definitely formatting! Also, making fun graphics for a low-level newsletter instead of pushing through the boring proofreading needed to, you know, put out our magazine.

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        Yeah, sometimes I wind up on Twitter, reading and occasionally retweeting topically work-related stuff…I try to convince myself it counts….

      1. F.*

        Me, too. Some days I feel I must be responsible for half of the hits on this site. Wish I could take some of this “slow season” and save it for the busy season!

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        Yeah, I didn’t count that because I can actually use borders and shading as billable hours (I make it sound more complex though!). Alas, not so for AaM comments.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Ha! Me too.

        Also, updating procedurals or any non-essential editing/formatting/document creation I can manage. The other day, I was super bored waiting for someone to get out of a meeting and so I revamped my Style Guide.

        At Exjob, I used to make PowerPoints. Some had to do with work; others did not. I made one detailing my entire sample shipping process, and another one called A Harry Potter Primer. :D

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Bingo. Every time I feel like starting a new task is an unpleasant chore, I click ‘refresh’ on Ask a Manager. I can’t even say how many times a day I’m in here.

    2. Sarasaurus*

      When my “real” tasks feel a little too overwhelming, I give my brain a rest by organizing my inbox or the files on my P drive. I’m totally with you — sometimes doing something relatively mindless for a bit is exactly what I need.

    3. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Making pretty Excel tables for my reports. I have a coworker whose sight is color-deficient, so I have a new challenge to find colors that are easily differentiated when highlighting data.

      Deleting old email.

      Reading and commenting on AAM.

      Researching industry and tech trends. Yeah, dry but I’m a geek like that.

      Deadspin, especially after a football weekend.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        I spent about 3 hours last night in excel, making different charts to document why I want to terminate a client and what client would need to do to keep services. I doubt I’ll ever even share them with anyone but it helped organize my brain a bit, and was a good outlet for me!

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        Also- I get sucked into reading scholarly articles related to my field too. Which is theoretically a GOOD thing, best practice and all, but my organization doesn’t place a lot of emphasis on the research/academic side of things.

    4. Temperance*

      Writing rejection letters to inmates. We reject all who write to us as a matter of policy, but I always look the person up to see what landed them in jail in the first place. I have to know! And then I’m down a rabbit hole of reading about crime.

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        Now I have to ask…what does your company do, that they’re getting all these letters from inmates?

      2. Lillian McGee*

        I occasionally get letters from inmates too. One asked if he’d be eligible for subsidized housing after his release and I was pretty sure the answer was no, but I decided to research it anyway. Took me a good afternoon! But it turned out that there was a very, very (VERY) small chance that he could get it so I wrote all about it and included all kinds of re-entry contacts. I have a huge amount of sympathy for incarcerated individuals…

    5. March*

      Fiddling with Excel. I love playing with sheets so that all the data looks uniformly presented, all rows/charts are the same size, triple-checking the consistency between workbooks. I could spend whole weeks in Excel doing that.

    6. Sydney Bristow*

      Tidying my desk. I’ve always been the same way. My house was never cleaner than during finals.

    7. A Bug!*

      Often it’ll occur to me that a given task I’m doing is something that could probably be automated, and then I’ll waste a bunch of time trying to find out if my software supports such a thing and/or how to implement it and/or trying to implement it.

      There are also those times when I realize I would like to have a reference document or some other thing put together for my future convenience, and I spend all afternoon collecting up the information.

      For these, what I should be doing is keeping a list of like-to-dos that I can look at when I do have extra time on my hands. But by the time I do have the extra time, I’m no longer that bothered about any of the items on the list.

      The other major offender is in writing letters. I have an awful tendency to spend too much time trying to get the wording just right, when all I really need to do is get the gist in there and then off to my boss for revision.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        “But by the time I do have the extra time, I’m no longer that bothered about any of the items on the list.”


    8. Lily in NYC*

      I like to clean out my email when I’m feeling lazy. That way I’m still sort of productive but can still zone out.

    9. Confused Publisher*

      My filing is always especially meticulous if I’m putting off a complex but dull task that takes several days sometimes.

    10. CrazyCatLady*

      Dashboards and making charts and reports look nice and not blinding. It’s not necessarily low priority …. but I don’t think people are as picky about the presentation as I am.

    11. Xarcady*

      Writing up “how-tos” for things. I’m the queen of instructions. Of course, I should be doing those things instead of documenting all the steps and making screenshots and worrying about formatting and if I’m using too many indents in my Word doc . . . .

    12. Kelly L.*

      Filling the pitcher we use to fill the Keurig. The filtered water dispenser is on the whole other side of the building, so it’s an excuse for a walk!

    13. Software developer*

      Refactoring code. Which is of course something I should occasionally do, but feature development and bug fixing are kind of also important ;-)

      Also, reading other people’s code and API descriptions. And not just stuff I need for my own work…

    14. AmyNYC*

      Excel tables! And since I recently started a new job, specifically my budget in an Excel (Google Drive) table!

    15. De Minimis*

      Trying to come up with overly-elaborate allocation formulas for some of our smaller employee costs.

    16. Kristine*

      I spend a lot of time making detailed labeling on the maps that I have to send to sales reps. I could just put an arrow and a text box that says “meeting in this room” but what fun is that?!

    17. The IT Manager*

      Formatting; although, I don’t directly consider it procrastinating I occasionally think that I don’t need to have the fonts perfectly colored and bolded for highlighting in my email messages.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        That’s exactly the stuff I was talking about – tasks that are legitimately work-related but low-stakes, yet somehow end up consuming an afternoon. Another of mine – making planner templates. I have so many things to do! I need to spend three hours figuring out the best way to write them down!

        1. One of the Annes*

          For me, it’s continuing reading a reference text that I’ve consulted to get an answer to a specific question. After I find the answer to my question, I just keep reading the reference text for awhile. I loves me my style guides and dictionaries.

          Also, like others, I totally do the fusking around with formatting of docs and tables for a totally unjustifiable amount of time. But they really do look great after I’m done!

    18. Cath in Canada*

      I like to have one ongoing task at any given time that requires minimal brain power. Right now I’m building a list of experts in a certain field – I have the names but I have to hunt down their websites, expertise key words etc. I leave the spreadsheet open in the background and add two or three at a time if my brain needs a rest.

      Organising mail and playing around in Excel (conditional formatting is a big one) also help if I don’t have an ongoing brainless task to do!

    19. Kat M*


      Seriously. Just me, a rag, a magic eraser, a fresh bottle of bleach/water, and maybe some Goo Gone. So satisfying.

    20. DropTable~DropsMic*

      I’m a web developer. I’m supposed to be debugging the site I made, but I find myself going a bit overboard on the “making things look nice/do something cool” front and neglecting the “this image doesn’t load when you click through in this specific way” front. Because fixing stuff is boring, and making new stuff is fun!

    21. Worker Bee (Germany)*

      What a fun read!
      Reading AAM and then checking again and again if something new came up. Gotten even worse since it is now easier to spot the text because of the blue line..
      Cleaning my inbox and desk. Never cleaner then when an unliked Tasks is on my desk. And then filing.. I work in accounting. I have massive piles of booked invoices sitting around waiting to be filed until I have to work on one boring but reoccuring Task..

  4. RG*

    My code review yesterday was OK. I didn’t wow them – in fact I actually walked into a few anti-patterns. Trying to remember that my first code review doesn’t necessarily doom me to bring a horrible developer.

    Question for those of you that learned a new language on the job – when do you have time for this?

    1. Dan*

      When you *need* to. I’ve been a one-trick pony Java developer, and that’s what everybody thinks of me as. Given that Java is the standard that it is, having that as your one trick doesn’t relegate you to dinosaur status yet. But other developers in my department use Python and R. I haven’t figured out the business justification for learning Python when Java does the same stuff, and I *know* how to do it.

      Until now. I’m working with a guy who writes Python, and is using some really cool libraries in Python that haven’t been ported over to Java. Because what he is doing is so central to the success of the project, it’s worth the time for me to learn Python and be able to contribute to/use his work. It’s also the bus factor — if the bus comes, somebody (aka me) needs to know how to use/run/fix/improve his code.

      1. RG*

        OK, thanks. I probably should have clarified, but I didn’t actually know the language we use for development. So I’m trying to get up to speed on the codebase/products, start completing assignments, and learn the language somewhere in all that.

      2. Ife*

        Yep this is what I have done. I haven’t learned languages “just for fun” or because I might need them, but I have acquired 2-3 because there was a need to write in that language. It’s pretty easy to pick up the basic syntax in less than hour, enough to start playing around with it. Find the API online if you can. If not, do a lot of googling things like “substring in X language” as they come up.

        Disclaimer: this has worked for me when I’m adding to an existing application. If you’re building something from scratch, you might need to dedicate a significant chunk of time to learning the language and what the process is for creating programs and doing deploys, etc.

    2. LadyMountaineer*

      You will eventually enjoy code reviews–I mean as much as you can enjoy someone reviewing your work–because it will make you better. But yeah, the first year is painful.

      I have only learned a new language on the job when rewriting someone else’s work or if someone above me said “this is the direction we’re moving in” and I just started learning it. Other than that I do a whole boatload of meetups and self-study.

      1. RG*

        Thanks! I reminded myself that in my last job, I worked at a law firm – and some of the stuff I wrote in those first few months was not pretty. At all. But I got better at it. So I just need to remember that here.

        I haven’t done much self study note that I’ve started working – I’m wondering if I should set aside time during the work day. I haven’t been able to find a meet up yet though – the language is fairly obscure, I guess, so I might have to use more creative search terms.

    3. Clever Name*

      Probably not the answer you want, but my husband is an embedded systems software engineer, and he learns new languages on his own time. He will buy a book like “Learn Python in 24 Hours”, he’ll spend time on the evenings and weekends (there’s a software language book in our bathroom reading materials at this moment) reading it, and then I guess he knows the new language well enough to start doing stuff with it at work. He’s really smart. :)

      1. Hlyssande*

        And there are some handy places that will help you learn for free online, so those might be worth checking out too!

      2. RG*

        Thanks! I’ve been spacing s bit lately when it comes to self study, but I was curious as to whether I should be seeing aside time during work.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      I partially agree with Dan, that it’s when you need to, but it can also be when there is a need and you want to. I’ve decided I wanted to be the expert in some area, and asked if I could start doing some of that work. And then I learned it as I went, by just doing it and looking at what is already there. (Unlike Dan, from the time I was in college taking 4 computer classes in 4 different languages, I’ve always been working in multiple languages at once. I’m probably not as good in any of them, but I seem to be good enough.)

    5. Eliza Jane*

      This depends a lot on where you are and how much support you get. The most recent new language I learned, I bought a book and just read it through in one day on company time, since I was learning it for a work project. Then I spent another two days playing with online tutorials. Then I started working with real code, and I made a lot of mistakes.

      On the other hand, if you want to learn a language so you can branch out, instead of needing to learn a new language so you can do a task you’ve already been assigned, you’re usually going to have to do that on your own time, which I’ve done with several other languages through the years.

    6. phantom*

      The last time I had to learn a completely new language for work, my manager was cool with me spending about 2 weeks watching videos and doing to tutorials before diving into a real project. I was learning the Objective-C, and although I had some old C++ experience, coming from web development, it was a whole new world for me. Most of the new “languages” I learn are new frameworks or libraries, and with those it usually only takes a couple days or a few hours hours to get the lay of the land. But, even then I still do most of my studying at work.

      The way I see it, coding is just one part of my job as a developer. Planning and learning are parts of the job too. So, neither time spent getting up to speed on a new language nor time in a planning meeting is time lost. At some point, the best way to learn a language is to just use it. But, if reading a book or watching a video is going to help you do your job better, I think you can do those things at work.

      Now, whether or not your employer agrees with me is a different story. But, I think companies that encourage learning and development as part of the job, ultimately end up with better people and better products.

    7. IT_Guy*

      I usually get thrown in the deep end!

      I have very seldom been given training to a new language prior to me using it. Usually it’s been completely OJT.

    8. Apollo Warbucks*

      Last time I was debugging some source code I found some one had very helpfully commented a 200 line block of code with the phrase “uh oh spaghettios”

      As for learning languages ive put some time aside to read blogs and books in the evening mainly but I’ve used time in work when I’m stuck and can’t carry on without doing the research.

    9. catsAreCool*

      Part of how I learn is through code review, not just my code review but everyone else’s – what is approved, what should be changed, general standards. I’ve also leaned a lot on google.

      Taking notes has helped me.

  5. Reidi*

    I would love to hear from anyone who works in corporate philanthropy. I have some experience in fundraising/development, but that was almost 10 years ago and at an entry-level position. For the past several years, I have been a practicing attorney in a large law firm. From my perspective, years of experience managing cases and case teams, working with various stakeholders (outside/in-house counsel, business people), thinking strategically, etc. are all transferable skills to a role managing a company’s employee volunteer program, for example. But I recognize that may be a hard sell to employers, who will view me as a lawyer, full stop.

    So if anyone here works in that kind of role, I would appreciate hearing about (1) your career path to get there, and (2) if you think I would have a chance at getting hired at a similar role, and (3) if not, if there’s anything I could do to make myself more attractive to hiring managers.

    Thank you!

    1. Trixie*

      I’m thinking the planned giving field may be your way in. Not your how familiar with you are now but it seems like those postings are often looking for some legal background/training.

    2. Temperance*

      I work in law firm pro bono, which is like a cousin of regular employee philanthropy. I love it. I work at a large law firm, and manage our pro bono cases, relationships with nonprofits, and placing cases with our attorneys. We have mandatory pro bono, though, so it makes my job more feasible.

      Are you active in pro bono at your current firm? That would be a good way to get started. I had a few nonprofit internships in law school and that opened the door to an internship at my current firm int he pro bono program. There’s been a lot of change in the past 2.5 years since I’ve been here (positive change), and I’ve seen the industry explode in the best way possible.

      1. Reidi*

        This sounds like a dream! Firm pro bono jobs don’t seem to open up very often, but I would love to do something along those lines.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      I work at a small nonprofit law firm that has a full-time pro bono coordinator. She is the person in charge of recruiting and managing volunteers and interns. She also has to maintain relationships with large firms and their pro bono coordinators. She refers cases to pro bono attorneys and also co-counsels on those cases with them. She was hired because of her passion for legal aid and social justice and also because she had experience in the particular area of law we are in.
      I don’t know what a large firm might look for in a pro bono coordinator, but for us she has to be a good mentor to law students and young attorneys. She has to be somewhat outgoing and good at networking… able to sell our cause to people who might be willing to donate their time.
      Good luck!

      1. fposte*

        Randomly, this is one of my favorite things about AAM–I hear about cool jobs that I never knew about!

    4. MaryinTexas*

      I left a traditional legal practice to go into a non-legal corporate position. I think your biggest hurdle is convincing a corporate philanthropy manager why you want a job outside of legal. I got my job b/c a friend who worked for the company spoke to the hiring manager on my behalf to explain why I wanted to move. I’d applied for a ton of jobs and never got as much as an interview b/c (I think) they just immediately thought I was over qualified or would be asking for too much money in the form of a salary. I love my job and I’m so glad I made the change. Good luck!

      1. Reidi*

        Thank you – that hurdle is my biggest concern, and this is an excellent reminder to work my network!

      2. Renee*

        Yep. I moved from litigation into an administrative management position with some legal duties (contract review and compliance) and it’s primarily due to a referral from a friend outside of law. The boss barely glanced at my resume and was only concerned whether the pay rate would be acceptable. I work in a large urban area and lawyer pay here is a joke, so that wasn’t a hurdle. Less than 3 years in I make more than I did at the last prestigious firm I worked for with a fraction of the stress. Immediately prior to this job, I worked for a year as a temporary contract review attorney. Temp jobs might be a way to transition too, if you can manage the lack of security. If it had been in the budget to add a position (I was covering staff on leave), I would have been asked to stay at that job. I am significantly happier now than I was in litigation.

  6. Master Bean Counter*

    Finally, after 2 years, three months and 5 days, not that I was counting…
    I have a new job! One that I was recruited for and really like the atmosphere of the new place.
    Now if only my boss would get here so I can give notice.

  7. Jennifer*

    The good news is, I have a job interview on Monday for what for me would be a dream job! Sadly, it interviews in my office at 1:30 (I got zero input or choice on time), so my supervisor said it’s fine for me to use vacation time until 1:30 so I don’t have to go into the interview completely stressed out because I had to answer phones all morning again. DEAR GOD PLEASE LET ME GET THIS JOB I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS ONE.

    The bad news is that once again I was completely abandoned to run the front counter with hardly anyone else and no managers in the building, and I got in trouble again, which happens every single time I’m abandoned to run the office alone and I get asked fifteen questions I don’t have answers to and need a manager. And someone tattled on me–I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that, thanks! So I had a super fun one on one about how I’m still terrible.

    The good and bad news there is that even though my boss wants to get me moved out of public service and even if I don’t get this job that’s what they want to do in the future, we’re losing one person permanently in a year and another one’s pregnant, and we’re at bare bones at six people as is. I highly doubt they will let me out of this job under those circumstances. I gather the lower middle managers are BEGGING higher-ups to start hiring other people, but….. yeah.

    Anyway, think good thoughts Monday afternoon, I need a miracle.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be is awful, so my fingers are crossed for you. Good luck!

    2. overeducated and underemployed*

      Good luck! And remember, as a front line person, if you don’t have the resources you need to answer people’s questions and provide service, you shouldn’t be getting in trouble because it’s not your fault. Putting people in front of the public without the preparation/authority/information they need is on management, not you. (Just in case that makes you feel better….)

      1. Jennifer*

        Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking about this morning on my hellish way to work. Seriously, if you literally abandon me to the wolves—pretty much every time I get in whopping trouble, it’s because I got left alone with no managerial support and there were a shit ton of manager questions. I didn’t EVEN comprehend some of them, like explaining someone’s finances to them. (I am terrible at math and the last thing I would do is deliberately get into a field where I have to help you with your math!) I got yelled at for not taking it upon myself to help them, but if I literally can’t understand the question other than “fix it, I don’t get it!”, it isn’t going to help anything when someone is going to need to talk to them in person again to get the whole story.

        Hell, I got in trouble yesterday for something I did in AUGUST, I got yelled at for not typing something I had no idea I had to do, because this process is something I’ve done like maybe once a year ever, and we have no written procedures on it, and this was a particular special snowflake weird thing I’d never encountered before. Even after the person complaining figured out that I had no written instructions on how to do it and admitted that, they still said “I should have known better by now.” Everything is “you should know better by now.”

          1. Jennifer*

            My supervisor, though not all of this is her directly so much as someone complained about me (happens constantly to all of us) and she has to pass on their complaints. She tries not to name names on the complaints but sometimes you can figure it out. She likes me personally and calls me a rock star on the areas of my job that I’m good at, and I like her too, but …. there’s a long list of what’s wrong with me all the time and she is obligated to tell me so.

            I am seriously considering making myself throw up in the bathroom a la Orphan Black and have to “go home sick” if I’m supposed to work the front counter and there’s going to be no managers again. That might be the only way to save myself.

            Also, guess who gets to answer the phones again? I’m sure I won’t get into any trouble at…oh, who am I kidding, someone will be calling my manager by 10:20.

            1. TootsNYC*

              I know you like her, but…even if there is a long list of what’s wrong with you (um, no), it’s not her job to tell you in a way that destroys you.

        1. LizH*

          So sorry you have to deal with that type of environment. Good luck with this interview. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

        2. NJ Anon*

          You should not be explaining someone’s finances to them. Especially if you are not trained in that area. It could get you and the company you work for in trouble if the help or advice you are giving is incorrect. Heck, I’m in finance and won’t tell someone how many deductions to put on their W-4. Sorry, you have to figure that out yourself!

          1. Jennifer*

            I keep saying this! The only time I can categorically say no without getting into trouble is if they ask about one certain money dept., but everything else I can’t explain, I am pretty much not allowed to say no to.

    3. Temperance*

      What is your current job? Is this interview for a different position at your current place of business?

      It is ridiculous to me that you’re getting in trouble for not answering questions that you have no answer to. Is there a way that you can say “let me find out and I’ll get back to you” or “I am not the right person for that, but let me call X”? Or is it that the population you work with is exceptionally rude and grumpy?

      1. Jennifer*

        Current job: data entry/part time public service. This is a different position at my current office, working in the same field that I originally got hired for in the first place. I got transferred into this when the program I worked on got discontinued and now they are bringing it back.

        They want me to say those things, but I am …honestly, not good at it. Sometimes I genuinely cannot comprehend their damn question (and frankly, they don’t either at times, they just give you a 20 minute story of everything bad and won’t answer when you say, “What do you want me to do for you today?”) and I don’t think I could even transcribe and comprehend what they want on my own. It’s a LOT easier if they are there in person to explain it. I also don’t want to be their “#1 reliable person” in their brain that can help them when I really cannot. And yes, the population is very unhappy–we have a lot of criers and call the cops occasionally.

        Basically, I am JUST NOT GOOD AT this kind of situation no matter what. It sends me into screaming panic mode all over the place. I wish I could just say “no, I don’t know anything about this, please try somewhere else” without being forced to help them ANYWAY with no clue.

        1. Temperance*

          I occasionally do intake as part of my job, and I keep a checklist of questions to ask. I absolutely hate it, though, and I understand why you wouldn’t want to do it, especially if you’re in social services.

          Redirect, redirect, redirect. I hate people who ramble on and on when a simple request or question should take just a minute. One of the things I do to move a conversation along is cut someone off when they’re rambling and say “ok I understand that’s frustrating, but we’re talking about X/can you tell me more about X”. I don’t need to know that your grandson is a meth dealer who has 5 baby mamas to know that you want to leave him out of your will! I have had issues with people calling us to ask for legal help and they can’t answer the “what are you calling about” question, and in those instances, I get very stern and say that I can’t help them in any way unless I know what they’re calling about. This does NOT work for the more mentally ill folks who call in and honestly can’t get a point across, but it ends the conversation.

        2. Kelly L.*

          OMG the 20 minutes of everything bad! I get those sometimes, and when I try to get to “OK, so what can I do for you today,” sometimes it isn’t even anything, they were just processing at me! :D

          1. Jennifer*

            I think it’s telling when my most empathetic, loves-to-help coworker has gotten to the point of saying, “I don’t WANT him to tell me his story!”

            I get the point of processing, and when we’re not at work and you want to rant, okay, but you’re here to make me do something for you, so why don’t you tell me what that is?

    4. Observer*

      Lots of luck!

      And if they don’t “let” you move up, then start looking outside of the organization. “Let” is not a concept that works when you decide to go outside.

        1. Jennifer*

          I’ve been looking, believe me. So far no dice in other places–especially since everything is so specialized these days and my expertise in this industry is pretty niche.

          Right now I am looking at the fancy formal job description (which they won’t let you see until right before the interview) and am freaking out that I don’t qualify for every single thing. Oh god.

    5. BuildMeUp*

      Good luck on your interview!

      For the customer service part, one thing that worked for me in my years of retail was to frame my answer as a solution. Even if what I’m really saying is, “I have no idea how to help you and you’re going to have to wait until Rachel gets back,” I try to say it in a way that glosses over the part where I can’t help them. So if someone came up and demanded to have their account explained to them, you could say, “Oh, actually Sarah is our residence account expert! Let me take down your contact info and your question and she’ll take a look and get back to you.”

      So basically, instead of framing it as “I don’t have a solution and someone else will have to help you later,” frame it as, “I do have a solution, and the solution is that Helena is going to help you with this.”

      I don’t know if that will work with your job and the rules there, but it might help with stress over not having the answer!

  8. Hilary Faye*

    One of my resolutions/goals for the year is to really work on developing my “soft” skills – communication, leadership, etc. I’m not currently in a managerial role (I’m a senior analyst) but that’s my ultimate goal and I want to work on building the skill set to succeed in those roles. What recommendations do you all have – books, classes, webinars, blogs, etc? If it helps, I’m relatively young (28), female and relatively introverted.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Toastmasters. You’ll get loads of communications practice (not just speeches), and opportunities to take on some leadership, if you like.

      1. Kat M*

        Ditto on this. Toastmasters has been a lifesaver for me, and I was already an experienced public speaker. I’m constantly surprised by the leadership skills I’ve developed over the last 3 years.

    2. Weekday Warrior*

      The fantastic resources on the Management Center site. Alison has had a hand in that. For a fun and practical read – “the girl’s guide to being a boss” by Friedman and Yorio. Great advice for “girls” and “guys” at early career stages.

    3. Dan*

      I don’t have any suggestions on resources, I’ve sort of self taught myself this. I’ve also learned over time that people who work well with others are as valuable, if not more so, then star technical people that nobody wants to work with. And those types of people are rarely as good as their reputation.


      1. Nobody is ever stupid, even when you think they are. If you two can’t get on the same page, figure out what the communication block is, which leads into #2. (BTW, assume you’re the communication problem, because at least that’s something *you* can fix.)

      2. Never assume that people are working with the same definitions of words. In my industry, we frequently perturb definitions of words, and get used to that perturbed definition for a given project. Then people get confused when you start talking outside the team.

      3. Allow people to save face. This is big in Asian cultures, not so much in the US, but I think we could learn something from it. Saving face means that when someone screws up, you don’t rub it in and make them feel stupid, let alone in front of a whole crowd.

      4. As your responsibilities grow, and you start climbing the ranks a little bit, you begin to learn that you don’t always take people at their literal word, even your superiors. Learn to figure out what problem they need solved, and help them solve that. That takes political skill, which often means that you do some homework and approach that person in private.

      5. If you think someone is wrong, “I think you’re wrong” is generally not a compelling argument. Data often is. If you can show someone some data that will change their mind, then do it.

      6. Sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is permission. There are times when a solution would take me a day or two to implement, yet I sit in ongoing meetings with multiple people, where the “labor” involved just talking about it is more costly then doing whatever needs to get done. As you climb the ranks, sometimes you learn that results are what really does matter, and you just deliver them without constantly asking for permission. My personal rule is that if I can do whatever I need to do in 2 days (or deliver a decent proof of concept in that period) I just do it. When something is going to take two weeks or more, then that’s when we sit down with the boss and decide where time is best spent. Usually that two-day proof of concept results in “that’s great, take a month to polish it.”

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Great points. I will say that saving face is still important in Western societies, in that no one wants to feel blamed, and many people will get defensive when they do feel blamed. That’s why when there’s a big problem, it’s more effective to focus on how to improve the process in the future rather than what went wrong in the past. (This also applies to point #1.)

        1. fposte*

          That’s pretty much Jon Ronson’s take in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed–that shame drives much of our societal rage and violence.

      2. TootsNYC*

        speaking of definitions…
        now I have to go look up “perturb” as a verb.

        (and I’m a word geek. This is a new one!)

    4. Jillociraptor*

      Is there the possibility of leading a project team? That could be a great way to practice influencing others, setting vision, etc.

    5. Random citizen*

      How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a class I have found incredibly helpful in working with people at my job, plus it’s easy to read – bullet points, short chapters, and anecdotes to illustrate his points well. Some of my favorite suggestions include assuming the best about people/letting them save face, with some really clear examples of what that looks like in a business situation and how it works, and his chapter on making friends and connections by being genuinely interested in people – who they are, what they do, how they ended up in the job they have and why. Most libraries have it, too, if you want to save money!

        1. Florida*

          There is also a class called the Dale Carnegie Course. It’s a class on human relations, building confidence, public speaking. I loved it.

          I read the book, how to win friends, once a year.

          I recommend Toastmasters too.

    6. Nanc*

      Some reading recommendations from a fellow [extreme] introvert (check your local library–they probably have at least one of these in either dead-tree, audio or e-book format):
      The introvert advantage [how to thrive in an extrovert world]
      by Laney, Marti Olsen.
      Quiet : the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking
      by Cain, Susan.
      Introvert power : why your inner life is your hidden strength
      by Helgoe, Laurie A.
      The introvert’s way : living a quiet life in a noisy world
      by Dembling, Sophia.

      I’ve always worked in very extroverted fields and with mostly extroverted people so it can be done! I don’t particularly enjoy managing people but will step in if I have to in my current role. I think it’s wonderful that you’re being proactive about figuring this out! I wish all the resources about/for introverts had been around when I first started working but I’m glad they’re here now.

      1. twig*

        Thank you!

        You reminded me that I need to finish reading Quiet — it’s been extremely informative so far.

        And for the additional books: thank you again — I need to read about and figure out how to manage my introverted possibly “highly sensitive” self.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          “. . . figure out how to manage my introverted possibly “highly sensitive” self.”

          This. I find the introverted/emotional combination of myself difficult to manage sometimes. I appear calm on the outside, but I can be a mess on the inside with all thoughts and emotions swirling around in there. I always joke with my husband that self-management would be so much easier if I’d been given a better ‘self’ to manage. This ‘self’ is intractable and unruly, but only on the inside.

    7. Glasskey*

      There are lots of resources out there. But instead of taking on everything at once (i.e., communication AND leadership AND….) and getting frustrated, how about picking just one and then developing 1 or 2 specific things you’d like to do better? And define for yourself what that would look like (in other words, I think somebody who is good at leadership can do X, Y, and Z). Once you do a little reading you’ll no doubt find a couple that resonate with you. And that might help you identify opportunities for practice. As an aside, can I just say I HATE the term “soft skills” (no offense to you, Hilary Faye; you didn’t make it up). I can’t quite put my finger on it as to why but there it is in my pantheon of corporate double-speak along with “reaching out,” “gentle reminders,” and “finding your passion.” Anyone else feel that way?

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I like this. I think even analyzing what you mean by soft skills and being more specific could be really illuminating.

      2. Julie Noted*

        Yep. I never use the term “soft skills”. It has connotations of being a secondary, optional but not critical skillset. Also of not being as ‘real’ as hard skills. I wonder if there’s a subconscious association between ‘soft’ and ‘easy’, ‘soft’ being an antonym of ‘hard’, which has two meanings.

        1. Honeybee*

          It’s not just subconscious. It’s one of the reasons I hate the term “hard sciences,” because the natural opposite is “soft sciences” and the assumption is definitely there that “soft sciences” (by which people mean sociology, psychology, anthropology) are easier. And then that actually makes my job even harder. I’m in a role (in the field of psychology) that some people think is easy to replicate on their own. They don’t realize how complex it can be until they watch me and my colleagues actually do it in front of them.

          But I’ve definitely seen that language and the associated assumptions, and they tend to fall along the same lines: statistics and quantitative analysis, programming, research protocols are seen as “hard skills,” and communication, writing, leadership, and social skills are seen as “soft skills.” Never mind that in some jobs (a job like mine, for example) the “soft skills” are actually much more important than the “hard ones”. Also, to be frank, I feel like it is far easier for me to teach someone how to do a statistical technique or create a data visualization than it is for me to teach them how to talk to people or speak publicly. I would much rather take a pleasant, warm person who knows how to communicate with others and train them up on the technical things than the other way around.

    8. Not A Bug*

      recognizing that people communicate in different way – some people do best with written word, so tasks given by email, IM check ins, written training manual etc. are ways they will excel. Other people do significantly better with spoken communications – they’d prefer you stop by their office or pick up a phone, they want to talk out the details and banter back and forth where they can see your reactions and hear the inflections of your voice. Being able to work with the various learning styles is HUGELY helpful in a good manager

      Also learning what motivates your team well – it will vary from person to person as well. I do best with accolades, especially written ones I can tuck away to reread on bad days. My coworker finds little gifts like a handful of chocolates way more beneficial for recognizing her successes.

    9. AnotherFed*

      An easy way to start down that path is to get involved with mentoring new hires or other less senior folks. As an introvert, it can be exhausting and difficult to jump into more managerial duties, so starting with one or just a few people who are new and need a lot of time and help will be good practice. Dan’s advice is fantastic, but for lots of people, it doesn’t come instinctively and takes practice, especially at crunch time when you just want to go nose to the grindstone and get it done rather than helping someone else learn to do it (and take twice as long). Those skills will then serve you well when its more senior people you’re managing, formally or informally. The tools don’t change, just the scope of the problems you’re using them to solve!

    10. Sof*

      I was recently in a similar position. I always knew I was saying the wrong thing or having the wrong reaction, but couldn’t put my finger on what the “right” behavior was. Over the past few years, my soft skills have significantly improved, and here’s how: I watched what other people did, meticulously, and adapted some very diplomatic phrases that high-performers frequently use in group settings. I modeled myself after a manager who is very effective in social/professional settings and other accomplished women who other people enjoyed working with. After a year or two of watching and internalizing, I no longer agonize over writing emails or write scripts to use on phone calls. It will never come naturally to me, but at least now it’s habitual!

      1. Glod Glodsson*

        This is my experience as well. I’m very task oriented so I found a mentor that is very people oriented and just watched what she did. Her approach got results that I wouldn’t have been able to get, so it helped me see how I could deal with certain issues in an open and people-focused way.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        Yes this definitely helps! I am always telling one coworker how much I admire her “superpower”- saying no firmly but SO nicely. I’m always overhearing her half of a phone conversation with a client “No, we aren’t able to do that. Mm hmm… (sympathetic listening noises) … No, I understand. Unfortunately, our policy is we can’t do X. We can give you Y, but X isn’t possible…” Totally understanding and patient, without giving in to the urge to agree to something problematic just to end the conversation. It’s great and I try to channel her whenever I need to hold my ground without souring a relationship.

    11. Glod Glodsson*

      If you can afford it, you might look into taking some courses. If you want to move into a leadership position outside of your current company, it would really boost your cv to be able to cite some courses you took. You might also consider volunteering in a leadership position, as it helps you develop these skills as well.

    12. Afiendishthingy*

      The “soft skills” that I’ve had to work on developing in my career are the same skills I’m trying to develop in my personal life: addressing issues head-on rather than being avoidant and/or passive aggressive, saying no and asking for help when I need to, generally keeping lines of communication open. I’ve been helped tremendously by this site, Captain Awkward, and therapy, but more than anything PRACTICE. Communicating boundaries with a personal acquaintance helped me set boundaries with coworkers. Unaplogetically- but kindly- sending back a screwed up drink order is practice for discussing performance issues with staff. So figure out which skills exactly you want to develop at work, and see if you can figure out how they generalize to other areas of your life. Then practice practice practice.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I think your introversion will work for you, not against you. It could give you a higher awareness of others than you might think. AAM has a lot of “how to’s” I would check them out. Since soft skills is such a broad area break it into smaller parts. How do you tell someone their work is wrong and they must redo it? How do you ask the boss for a $1000 gizmo that you must have and you are sure he will say no?
      Whatever questions you have take them one at a time and read up on that one question.
      Realize, too, that after a bit the accumulated new knowledge kicks in and things make more sense than before.
      If I were you, I would just stay right here and read every day. I have learned more here than I did in college- not exaggerating. And you can ask questions, if you thought of the question probably dozens of other people thought of the same question, too.

    14. NicoleK*

      Other posters have provided excellent suggestions. I only have a few things to add:

      1. If your technical skills are stronger than your soft skills, work on breaking down technical issues, concept, problems into simpler language so non technical people can understand it. This is especially important if you’re the only “technical” person on a team

      2. Think back to the managers you’ve had, both good and bad. Begin developing the type of manager you’d like to be.

      3. Find a mentor or consultant to work with once you land a management position

      Good Luck!

  9. AnotherAlison*

    Question on a job and personal liability. . .any insurance agents or lawyers around?

    My son, who is 18 and lives with us, got a part-time job as a porter at a car dealership. He said if damages anything he is covered under their insurance, but he would have to pay their deductible.

    Separately, my husband was also looking into an umbrella policy for us, and we couldn’t get one because the cost would be astronomical due to son’s speeding ticket. The weird part was that even if we dropped him from our policy and he got his own, as long as he was living with us, we would have the same problem.

    So, now I’m wondering how exposed we are. We have a personal automotive liability policy for 3 vehicles (my son is on this); a commercial automotive liability policy for 2 vehicles; and a homeowner’s policy – and a fair amount of personal and small business assets.

    In his job, my son may drive the dealer’s vehicles or customers’ vehicles that are in for service. He told me one porter had to drive about 80 miles round trip this week to pick up and drop off a client, so it’s not trivial driving.
    I realize I’m exposed every time he gets behind the wheel of his own car, and he could injure himself and others, but is he really covered by the dealer in this situation, with no personal liability extending to him (and us)?

    I’m honestly kind of pissed off about this whole situation. My son has wrecked his own car 3 times in 3 years (1 time on record) and has a speeding ticket. One of those wrecks was backing into our truck with his car a couple weeks ago. He is a terrible driver and has no business having this job, but they don’t even pull driving records. His buddy works there, too, and flipped his car 6 months ago.

    1. jhhj*

      Generally, you need to cover everyone living in the same house (if they’re family). If you had car insurance and wanted to specifically exclude him, he would not be allowed to drive your cars (even occasionally, even to park or move it for you).

      I don’t know about having to pay the deductible for work, which seems shady but there are all sorts of shady legal things.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        That makes sense and was what I had pretty much assumed (on the first part).

        The second part probably is a shady legal area. He makes $10/hr. If they deduct the payment from his check, he’s under minimum wage. OTOH, it could just be what they tell the guys to put that fear into them. Someone rubs a fender, they may not know who did it and the body shop is there to fix it at cost. My concern is more the big rear-ender or something.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I would guess no. He should have something like an employee handbook or something, though, rather than the policy. I’ll have to check with him.

    2. Dan*

      Ooff. Your son is an adult, so whatever he does at work has nothing to do with you. There are probably exceptions for truly gross negligence or whatever, but aside from that, if he nicks a fender in the lot, it shouldn’t come back on you. The only time it really would/could is if the damage he causes exceeds the company’s insurance limits, but that’s a long shot.

      Bigger problem: What is the company’s deductible? I’ve seen personal policy limits with $2,000 deductibles, which TBH is more than a fender bender in the parking lot is going to run. Can he afford that?

      That aside, I’m not sure the dealer’s stance is legal. Generally, those kinds of things are the “cost of doing business” and the employer is liable for all of it, including the deductible.

      But I agree with you, given what you describe, your kid is a terrible driver and has no business in a job like that.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I’m not sure what the deductible is, or their limits of coverage. But really, after thinking about it, from having a business, I know that my personal policy wouldn’t cover us in our business vehicles if driving them for business purposes. So. . .I would think our policy wouldn’t cover him if driving for business, so he has to be covered by the corporate policy. (It’s a Toyota dealer, not Bob’s Sell4Less, and I would think they would have the right insurance in place). It’s probably fine, other than the part about him having to possibly pay anything for damages. That may not be legal. Worst case, if he had some sort of huge injury accident, another party could try to sue us, but I’m starting to think I would have no legal liability. It would be worse if he was in his car, because it’s currently in our name. . .and will continue to be as long as we’re paying the insurance and he lives with us.

        1. Dan*

          “Worst case, if he had some sort of huge injury accident, another party could try to sue us, but I’m starting to think I would have no legal liability.”

          I was going to say that your biggest concern isn’t whether your personal policy is at risk here, it’s whether you have any legal liability period. Because if you have liability, you personally can get sued if your insurance decides it doesn’t want to pay. And the whole point of having insurance is to hedge your risk in these events.

          No, I really don’t think you have any liability for what your son does in a work vehicle while acting on behalf of work. In his own vehicle commuting to or from work? Different story.

          How much are you willing to take the risk of having him under your policy? If you were terribly worried, you could put him on his own policy, and put the car in his name. TBH, those premiums might scare him into becoming a better driver.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            He couldn’t afford to have his own insurance policy. It would be one thing to make him pay under ours, but the point obviously isn’t to get him to pay, but to eliminate our liability. He’s in high school and only makes $50-$90/week. He pays for gas and entertainment, and we don’t give him any other money.

            Not that it’s not an option under consideration, but it would probably be once he’s out of high school and has made a Large Error in Judgement, and could take on more work to do it.

            1. Student*

              “He is a terrible driver and has no business having this job”

              “He’s in high school”

              “My son has wrecked his own car 3 times in 3 years (1 time on record) and has a speeding ticket. ”

              With compassion – it’s really time to stop worrying about legal liability issues and start parenting, for the good of your son and of your family finances. It sounds like you don’t want to allow this. It sounds like you recognize your son has problems with driving (this kind of driving record is not inevitable for a teenager; I’m no insurance agent, but it is extremely atypical of anyone I personally know). It sounds like you’re concerned about how this could impact your budget and your family. So why are you allowing it to happen? What possible good can come of it, compared to the track record of downsides when your son drives? If you really want him to work, let him get a different job that doesn’t involve so much driving. You’d be well within reason to not allow him a car at all with a track record like that.

              1. Artemesia*

                This. I would not allow him to have a job where he is putting lives at risk given his record. My son trashed our insurance with a speeding ticket as a teen. We had to scramble to get our own new insurance and umbrella policy and we took away his car and didn’t let him drive for the next year. He is unlike the OP’s son a good driver and has never had an accident (he is now a middle aged adult). He got a speeding ticket for going over 85 on the freeway and 85 is the trigger for canceling insurance. We were pretty po’ed about it. This teen is still in HS and lives at home; mom and dad need to step up here and be his parents. If he got in an accident that hurt me badly, you can sure as heck count on me suing the parents for everything they have.

              2. AnotherAlison*

                Are you kidding me?

                Seriously. This is a few paragraphs on the internet. I’m could spend another few paragraphs justifying myself, but I’m not going to. Hint: 2 accidents were when he was 15 y.o. and 3 months after getting licensed, and the speeding ticket was in a speed trap where it’s 35 and the rest of the county roads are 45. . .in a place I got a ticket a few weeks later myself, and I haven’t had a ticket in 10 years.

                I definitely have my concerns related to my personal budget and liabilities, but I don’t think he’s a menace to public safety. He’s a fender bender guy, not a drive 90 and run someone off the road while texting guy. Mostly brought up the question to understand any limits of my own liabilities, not for parenting advice. Thanks.

                1. LisaLee*

                  I guess I’m confused by your reaction here. Is he a “terrible driver” or not? If he’s a terrible driver, then yeah, he’s a danger to others and should not have a job that puts him behind the wheel so often. Even minor collisions can be dangerous. If it’s a matter of tiny accidents when he was learning (things like clipping the mailbox) that are understandable, then why are you worried?

                  I do feel for your son. I am not a good driver either and I’ve definitely cracked a few taillights and gotten plenty of scratches on the car. But I didn’t go out and get a job driving cars, because that would be a terrible idea. At your son’s age, he probably didn’t think about whether he was actually capable of doing a good job at this. But you’ve got more wisdom than he does, and you should really consider having a talk with him about leaving this job. Even if he never does anything that could hurt anyone else, getting fired for busting up a company car won’t look good to future employers.

                2. Honeybee*

                  I think people are reacting to the language that you used in your original question – you said that your son “wrecked” his car three times in three years, and the accident you referred to was just a couple of weeks ago. You also said that he was a “terrible driver.” Those things together do not make him sound like a “fender bender guy”.

                  Also, gently, I think it doesn’t make a difference whether the accidents are maliciously egregious or genuine mistakes…if he is having them this frequently, he may simply need help improving as a driver. A lot of insurance companies give discounts for defensive driving classes.

              3. TootsNYC*

                get him some training as a driver–that’s where the weakness is. This is really the only problem.

                Tackle that. There are resources.

    3. F.M.*

      I’ve worked in a collision repair facility. Never heard of having an employee pay back the company’s deductible. It is an expense for the company, they can claim it as such on their taxes. I’d question that. Also, they cannot take his pay below minimum wage. That is illegal.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Similarly, I once worked at a company where I and several others had company vehicles. I had a fender bender once and a coworker had one later and neither of us paid the deductible.

      2. TCO*

        I know two people who have worked at auto dealers/shops and damaged client vehicles. Neither was required to pay for the damage, though both were fired.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        If he paid the deductible, wouldn’t they have to show that as income on their taxes? It is revenue…..

    4. LisaLee*

      I don’t mean to be flippant (well, maybe a little) but is there a compelling reason why he must keep this job? It seems to me that the best way to make sure you’re not liable for any of his accidents is for him to drive as little as possible. I realize you didn’t ask for parenting advice but I’d be pushing pretty hard for him to get a job that does not involve driving if that’s an option.

      On the question of liability, I’m pretty sure the dealership cannot force him to pay the deductible or make you liable for it. But I’m not sure if it would affect your premiums if he gets ticketed while in a company car. Another consideration is that even if you’re not liable, if your son causes a serious accident, someone may still try to sue you. And defending yourself against a suit can be very expensive and time-consuming even if you’re not at fault.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        No particular reason for this job, but it does have a high degree of flexibility compared to retail or fast food. He’s 18, but he’s still in HS and playing sports. He was cleaning stalls but he’s “laid off” over the winter. (Yes, the horses still poop, but they don’t teach lessons in winter, so the full-time girl is doing the stall cleaning.) He does need a job right now, because we are not a free-rider household. : )

        He basically came home a couple days ago and said he got this job and started the next day, so this is brand new. Nothing had been talked about in advance.

        1. Artemesia*

          There is nothing terrible about supporting your kids while there in school; it doesn’t make him a ‘free rider.’ There is something terrible about allowing a child in your household to work a job driving cars when he has had 3 accidents and is a terrible driver.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            I think it’s a little uncalled for to call someone a terrible parent based on the limited information that you have (or, at minimum call their parenting decision terrible).

            1. I explained the nature of his record. Terrible from a mom’s POV, probably not the menace to society you’re imagining. He’s paid his dues for the accidents when he was 15, and for the ticket. The consequences from the truck incident have also happened. If you think that’s car-take-away worthy, cool, but at my house, it was a different consequence.

            2. He’s a legal adult with a valid driver’s license and insurance. The car dealer hired him, and his by-far-shittier-driver buddy. (The friend does have a ticket for going 100, but he got it reduced, and has a reported rollover accident.) If I felt he as a safety risk, absolutely I would intervene. He may damage your car (that seems to be on him and Toyota) but I don’t think he’s a significant risk for an injury accident. . .or at least any more than anyone else they’re going to hire for $10 to wash cars is.

            I’m sure it sounds like justification. That’s fine. We terrible parents do that.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Random thoughts here.
              IANAL, it strikes me, however, that the dealership hired him knowing his background. Bear with me, here. I would think that the company would run a check through DMV before hiring a driver. I also know that some insurance companies insist on a DMV check. It seems to me the company is willing to take the risk.

              Doesn’t he need a chauffeur’s licence to drive customers around or to move dealer owned vehicles over the roads? Maybe he has one and maybe that is another reason why his insurance cost is so high. Does your insurance company offer ways to mitigate that cost, such as driver’s safety courses, etc?

              Going back to the speeding ticket. Here in NY speeding tickets make your insurance JUMP. I don’t know if he plead guilty to the charge as stated or if he tried to negotiate a plea agreement. If he did not try to get the charge lowered AND the insurance company is dinging you for it, it might be worth your while to reopen that case and see about getting the charge reduced.

              And my last random thought. This is something I did to my husband. He loooved motorcycles, drove in all kinds of weather, just a real die-hard motorcycle fan. He found a motorcycle safety course and I made sure he took the course. I went the opposite way of what others are saying here. I figured my husband was going to drive the bike, no matter what. So, why not insist that he keep his skills beefed up and learn the most current thinking on how to handle safety issues? The course was grueling, the instructors worked the students for hours. My husband ate twice as much as usual at lunch, because he was tuckered out by lunch time, he came home TIRED. He said, “I learned SO MUCH.”
              Maybe this is something you could do- get him into some safety courses with a hands-on component. And maybe you’d get something off on your insurance, in the process.

              Just some random ideas in the hopes that maybe one will make sense for your setting…

              1. asteramella*

                I am a cautious and risk-averse driver and found even online defensive driving courses to be helpful and even interesting. Most 18-year-olds probably need a little reminding about safety and good judgment when it comes to operating vehicles.

      2. TootsNYC*

        His tickets are his personal problem, so yes, they would affect his insurability as much as they would if he were driving a personal car.

    5. CA Admin*

      Honestly, with a record like that, why is he still allowed to drive? If he can’t pay for the car or insurance himself, you really should stop doing that for him. I’d be more worried about him hurting someone and the damage he could cause, rather than your liability.

        1. CA Admin*

          Wow…you got super aggressive about this super fast. The level of vitriol up-thread was completely unwarranted. If he’s not actually and is just a typical teen, then that’s different. We were just responding to the information given.

          That said, driving isn’t a right, especially for a teen living at home, it’s a privilege. Having whatever job you want also isn’t a right. Parents get to set boundaries. I wasn’t allowed to drive in high school because my parents couldn’t trust me to do so safely. It was a pain then, but they were right to do it. We were wondering why you weren’t, since *in your own words*, he’s a terrible driver.

          Sometimes when it’s our loved ones, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. We get wrapped up in minutiae (like insurance and liability) when the real question seems to be if he should be on the road unsupervised at all.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Oh, I understand her reaction. It’s easy to get a little sensitive; and there were a few comments I thought were just a little harsh, considering that there’s a real person, and not a character or a stranger in the news who is writing in.

    6. Menacia*

      Why do you think he’s a terrible driver? Can you talk to him about your concerns regarding his driving record, or, if you have, what is his response? I think it’s ridiculous that a company who hire someone to drive cars does not ask for a driving record, shame on them! Sounds like an accident waiting to happen. :(

    7. The Expendable Redshirt*

      I’d take you son off your policy. Then whatever his future actions are, they wouldn’t affect your insurance.*

      *not a lawyer

  10. Emmy Rae*

    Does anyone have advice for what to say about why I am leaving my current job? Real reason: I work for a mean person who is terrible at communication. I’ve been saying that I work in a small niche of a small industry and would like to move into something else. I’ve also said I am interested in taking on more complex and long term responsibilities when it seems appropriate in the job I am applying for. I am currently an Executive Assistant and am applying for similar roles.

    I think my answer to this question may have taken me out of the running for a few positions. Any feedback? Thanks!

    1. fposte*

      How long have you been at the current job? If you’ve been there for two years, your explanation seems reasonable; if you’ve been there for three months, it’s clear there’s something else going on that you’re not talking about.

      I also think you’re applying in a competitive field, so I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the answer to that question was why you didn’t get an offer.

      1. Emmy Rae*

        Thanks, fposte – been here for 4.5 years. I haven’t received feedback from anyone I’ve interviewed with this was a wild guess about what I am doing wrong.

        1. fposte*

          If you’re making it to interview, you’re mostly doing everything right. I doubt it’s that you’re doing something obviously wrong so much as somebody is looking a bit righter than you. I would imagine fit is hugely important for Executive Assistant, so it may just be about whose personality is meshing with whose.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          4.5 years is definitely long enough to say the generic “looking for new opportunities”. But the answer you’ve been using seems fine to me! The last time I interviewed I told them I was looking to leave because my role had changed from traditional EA work (I’m also an exec. assistant) to more of an event planning role, which is not something I was interested in doing long-term. It was total BS. I was leaving because my boss was a monster.

    2. Glod Glodsson*

      Yes, this sounds reasonable to me as well. You might be more specific if you think the company culture would suit you more here, such as “I like how informal the atmosphere in this company is and that you invest in a the professional development of your employees. I would love to make the move to a company that offers these things.”

    3. TootsNYC*

      I sometimes just say, “It’s time to move on.” or “I’m interested in something new.”

  11. hermit crab*

    Anyone else still at work right now in the DC area? (Don’t worry, I live in the neighborhood and walk to/from work.) I’ve seen busier Saturdays in the office!

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Lol! Isn’t it supposed to be like 3 inches today, and the big stuff over the weekend?

        1. weasel007*

          The bad weather started in NC early this am. We have about 3 inches of snow in Charlotte and now freezing rain and sleet on top. It will not be pretty tonight or tomorrow morning with all this ice. Everyone I know is wfh.

          1. I NC You There*

            Pretty rough here in Raleigh, too. Freezing rain and sleet, occasionally snow, and not supposed to let up for a while. I’m wfh and rearranging my schedule for the day so my team doesn’t have to “attend” any meetings. (We’re having a week where we can do that, thankfully.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, I agree (went to college in Wisconsin). But I also think snow legitimately does cause more problems in areas like D.C. that aren’t used to it — not just because people panic over a couple of inches (which, yes, is silly) but because people’s cars aren’t equipped for it (no one here has snow tires or chains because you hardly ever need them), tons of people here don’t know how to drive in snow because they never needed to learn, etc. I’m actually curious to know if even things like roofing codes are different (that our roofs don’t need to be built to withstand as much snow as, say, Minnesota’s do).

            (Right now, the Washington Post has made me paranoid that my roof is going to collapse.)

            1. Creag an Tuire*

              I dunno, while “panic” is always silly, I think a lot of northerners don’t realize how miserable driving in a “couple of inches” really is when you’re not spoiled by a $20 million salt budget.

              1. Snowed In*

                So true.
                I’m looking out my window here in North Carolina at an ice covered street and I wouldn’t dare try to back my car out and drive…now if I had my old jeep, it would be a different story.

              2. Guinness*

                It seems to me that how the cities handle snow plays a lot in to this as well. I live in a mid-southern city that gets one or two storms with a couple of inches each year. 4″+ is a lot of snow for here. I’ve also lived in Michigan and Chicago where they get that kind of snow and even higher totals much more often. I know how to drive in snow but I’ve still had more difficult times where I currently live because the streets aren’t treated properly or timely and the people around me have no idea what to do.

              3. Ama*

                Yeah, I remember being amazed by how quickly the streets were driveable after my first NY snowstorm (which was almost 2 feet of snow, more than I’d seen at one time in my entire life). We got a foot of snow once in Oklahoma and it shut down school for an entire week.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I have seen times here in NY where TPTB ran out of money and there were NO plows and NO salt trucks. A friend tells that that happens in PA also.

              4. Honeybee*

                That was going to be my comment too. Driving in the aftermath of a snowstorm when your city salts everything the day before and the streets are plowed by the time you leave for work at 8 am is completely different from driving on icy roads and unplowed streets. When I lived in Atlanta we always used to say it wasn’t even the inch of snow; it was the ice on the street.

                That said, I am still kind of baffled. It’s not like DC is a stranger to below-freezing temperatures and winter snow, and yet for some reason their snowstorm infrastructure seems to be way worse than most other cities on the Northeast Corridor. Probably because they are the southernmost hub, but I’ve always thought DC’s snow response system was pretty terrible relative to the amount of snow they get. It’s what I’d expect from a city that gets snow almost never.

              5. Anxa*

                I live the south. At first, I was a little shocked that there were no preparations whatsoever-just a lot of hysteria. Then I thought about how cheap transportation departments are locally and it made a bit more sense. There are places where the outside lane lines run onto the grass because a shoulder is too extravagant. Of course snow equipment isn’t a big priority.

            2. Red Wheel*

              But at this point, isn’t snow an annual occurrence in D.C? It seems that in the past few years it has been. At what point do residents learn to cope?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                A couple of inches a time is an annual occurrence (but sometimes only once a winter), but we haven’t had a major snowstorm since 2010, I think. Also, it’s a really transient city, with people coming and going all the time, in part because of political jobs.

                1. Creag an Tuire*

                  Related to my point above, I half-suspect that part of the problem isn’t just the folks from further south who’ve never seen a snowflake in their lives, but the ones from further north who assume a couple of inches is “business as usual, drive at the speed limit” like it would be at home and learn the hard way that it isn’t.

            3. LPBB*

              Another big part of the problem is that the DC transportation infrastructure capacity is already maxed out. Any disruption to the system, be it excess sunshine, rain, cold, wind, whatever, puts additional stress on it that it just can’t handle. I have to drive from Baltimore to Laurel at rush hour every 6 weeks and I have to add an extra hour to my drive time if it is raining; if there’s any risk of ice or snow then I don’t even do it.

            4. Yetanotherjennifer*

              I’ll never forget the time I came home to MN for a visit in winter and was given a car with Arkansas plates. Never again! Southern plates means Southern tires which just can’t handle the snow. I had no traction and was sliding all over the place. Now I always check the plates before accepting the car.

            5. Mpls*

              Honestly, I don’t think MN really gets THAT much snow. Maybe the northern part of the state, but not the metro area. Sure, we get some, we it often, and it sticks around because it’s so gosh darn cold, but it’s not the lake-effect snow totals that happen further east.

              And yes, we are spoiled with having plows that have lots of practice with clearing streets and laying down salt/pre-treatment. And yet, the residents here still harp and moan about clearing not happening as quickly as they’d preferred. With the amount DC is due to get, MN would still take a couple of days to dig out and resume life as normal. As happened 4-5 years ago when Minneapolis and St. Paul schools closed for 2 days because the school buses couldn’t do the routes with the state of the streets. Those schools are legendary for NEVER closing for snow days, even when the suburban schools are closing.

            6. Kelly*

              The amount that the DC area could be getting, anywhere from 2 ft to over 3 ft depending on the model, would strain even Chicago, Milwaukee, or Minneapolis. Laying down salt before the start only works if the temperature is above 15 degrees. I’m in Wisconsin where we’ve had two major storms so far this winter with around 5 to 6 inches each time. Thankfully, the first happened on weekend and the second was over winter break right after Christmas, so there was less traffic than normal. I think the last major storm that was above a foot was in December 2012 that shut down the UW-Madison campus for the first time in living memory. It also caused I-90 to shut down in parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota due to the lack of visibility because of the winds.

              I do think that the Midwest would have the same response as the DC area if we had a storm of this magnitude heading our way. I would be anticipating a snow day because the mass transit system, all buses, wouldn’t be able to get out. I’m not exaggerating when dealing with around 5 inches of snow, a perfectly normal snowfall amount, caused massive delays. There was a storm last February where we got around 5 inches that came down fast on a Tuesday. There had been another 7 inches that had fallen Sunday and hadn’t been fully cleaned up. My commute which is normally around 40 minutes was 80 minutes that Tuesday evening. It showed that my local public transit was unprepared for dealing with routine winter weather.

      1. hermit crab*

        I think that’s yesterday’s forecast, actually. I heard that the newest predictions have the storm arriving earlier than previously thought.

    2. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA*

      Yes! I am and it’s so stupid. I could work from home (as could everyone in my office) but my boss wanted everyone in the office until 12 pm. For what I’m not sure as I’m so annoyed by it all. I have a 45 minute drive (on a good day) heading south and he has like a 10 minute drive. I’m just nervous because so many offices are closing at 12 today so I’m worried the beltway is going to get super clogged.

      1. hermit crab*

        Yeah, I was surprised by the OPM decision to have people leave 4 hours earlier than normal, but no later than noon. It seems like an attempt at staggering the traffic, but I wonder how many people’s “4 hours earlier than normal” is actually earlier than noon.

        1. katamia*

          My father worked for the federal government and then contracted for them, and he said a lot of his coworkers, at least at his last job, would be there by 6:30 or 7:00. I don’t know how widespread that is, though, or whether it was a quirk of his office. But at least there, I’m sure most of his former coworkers’ “4 hours earlier than normal” fell before noon.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Seriously?!? After the mess on Wednesday? I hope your commute is clear, but your boss’s local streets are a mess!

        I’m working from home, as are my clients and everyone on my team.

    3. Dan*

      Nope. Today is a “sanctioned” WFH day. Even if it wasn’t sanctioned, we would have all worked from home anyway and the boss wouldn’t have cared.

    4. DCGirl*

      You betcha! My office only closes if the New York Stock Exchange closes and, as you might imagine, the weather in DC can often be very different from that in New York.

    5. AnotherHRPro*

      I’m in Virginia and the snow started around 10 am. We have about 3 inches already. Everyone abandoned the office between 11 and noon and now I’m working from home. Ok, right now I’m actually reading AAM. :)

      Anyway, I agree that people here overly freak out about snow. True, we don’t have snow removal infrastructure like the north does but the stores have been out of bread and milk for days! Seriously – empty shelves.

      And I hate working from home. I know many of you enjoy it but it just doesn’t work for me. I get bored easily and crave interaction. At home I only have the cat to keep me entertained.

      1. hermit crab*

        I hate working from home too. I’m in the office right now by choice (and because I know I can get home safely). Clearly I am not being very productive though :)

        And the grocery store situation is nuts! Last night I popped my head in the neighborhood Safeway just to see what was going on. Longest lines I’ve ever seen there!!! The kicker is that the only reason someone would go to that Safeway is because they live super close — all the surrounding neighborhoods have better stores. So I’m sure the vast majority of shoppers there are people who could just walk over to the store if they run out of something over the weekend (assuming it’s open, which isn’t out of the question because I think several of the staff live in the neighborhood too).

      2. Alison with one L*

        Also in Virginia, and the roofs are just starting to get white in my neighborhood.

        I’m so excited to just cozy up in my house and wait it out. I just hope the power stays on.

        I work from home a few times a month when my schedule/weather necessitates it. I definitely understand the getting bored easily and craving interaction part. I can work from home occasionally, but I don’t think it’s something that I could do every day or even every week.

        1. Kelly*

          My sister currently lives in northern Maryland near the PA border and is in the process of moving back to Minneapolis for a new job. My mom was supposed to fly out today to help her pack but had her flight moved to yesterday out of Chicago. I talked to them both this evening and their estimate was around a foot by 10 pm tonight. The winds haven’t picked up yet but they’re both more concerned about losing power if they do pick up. We’ve dealt with losing power due to high winds during a blizzard in Michigan, but my parents have a generator for back up use.

          I don’t think either of them is looking forward to digging my sister’s car out of nearly two feet of snow either Sunday or Monday. It has been almost a decade since my mother has had to clean up snow without a snow blower. I think she’ll be missing that after a hour of shoveling.

  12. Ineloquent*

    I really like me job. It’s awesome. my team is growing, my leadership is competent and kind, and we’re really helping people within our company. My question is that there is another administrative team that is closely related to ours that is going through a really rough time. High scrutiny, lots of bad government oversight, hemorrhaging staff, and kind of hated by all the production folks and money makers, because they make it harder to go out there and make money (it’s necessary though). It’s bad enough that there’s been literal suicide over there lately. How would you suggest reaching out to this team and being supportive of them in their mission, while not getting sucked into the crazy and drama that’s happening?

    1. fposte*

      I think if you know the manager, you can send her a note that says “Geez, sorry this is being such a sucky time; let me know if there’s anything I can do.” If you have concrete work-related assistance to offer, you can absolutely offer that, no matter how well you know them.

      But if you don’t know the team and don’t have specifics that would be helpful, I don’t know that reaching out is going to benefit them any. And I think that’s the goal you work backward from–what would be useful to them and could I provide it?

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Unless you’re offering to take on their workload for them, what the heck else can you do? Buy them candy? Sympathy card?

          1. fposte*

            The thing is, if you know any of them well enough to offer a sympathetic ear, you’re already offering it. To reach out to a colleague you don’t ordinarily talk to, or, stranger, to a whole team to offer them somebody to offload on is somewhat peculiar, and I also think it’s exactly the kind of thing that would put you in the middle of the crazy and the drama. So a kind thought, but not likely to be useful unless you’re already at a confiding level with selected players, in which case you just keep communicating with them supportively.

  13. Mimmy*

    I have two questions today.

    First question – and apologies if it’s been discussed ad nauseum: Does LinkedIn hold value anymore? I’m thinking of revamping my rather outdated LI profile, but not if it’s a useless endeavor. I used to be on LI all the time, particularly in the groups, including the AAM one but stopped after some of my favorite groups got cluttered with spam and when the system began sending me digests 2-3 times a week despite setting it to get emails only once a week.

    I know LI is meant to grow your network, but lately, I’ve been getting invites from people I don’t even know. They’re in my field and/or interest areas, but if I don’t recognize the name or I don’t see any value in connecting, I just “ignore” the invite. I also think the “skills” endorsements are abused.

    So, again, do any of you find LinkedIn useful? Does it depend on the field or your career goals?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think LinkedIn can be useful – I don’t use it extensively but I keep my profile up to date, and I’ve gotten a few contacts from recruiters that way. Nothing panned out, but it was still nice to be recruited.

      That said, I don’t think you need to accept invites from people you have no interest in connecting with.

      1. finman*

        Last two jobs I got were unsolicited reach outs from recruiters (one internal, one 3rd party). It can work well for those types of things.

    2. Violetta*

      I personally don’t see the value. I feel like they got way too intrusive (endless emails, trying to get at your email contacts, so much irrelevant information being thrown at you). The ‘skills’ endorsements are useless – people who I haven’t seen in years keep endorsing me for stuff I don’t do and they could have no knowledge of me doing.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      I got recruited through Linkedin. So yes there is value in at the very least keeping your info up to date and checking on it once in a while.

    4. Terra*

      The best advice I’ve heard is to treat LI as an extended resume or CV. Anymore most people tend to customize their resume to their job which often requires cutting out accomplishments you may be proud of but that don’t seem relevant. LI allows you to include all your accomplishments since it’s not necessarily limited to the “one or two pages” advice that resumes are. Then if someone likes your resume and looks at your LI page they may see that you have additional skills that aren’t required for the job but would be nice to have or make you a good cultural fit.

      I also use mine to help quickly customize my resumes since I can cut and paste bullet points from LI to my resume doc when I’m switching out skills.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      The only value I’ve found in it is finding out if someone I know happens to have worked at some place I was thinking of applying to.

    6. Kerry*

      I got my current job by noticing that a former coworker had moved roles into an area I was interested in, and asking them for advice (the advice turned out to be, ‘funny you should ask, we’re about to start hiring for someone with exactly your skillset!’). That was 90% old-fashioned networking, but I wouldn’t have found them if it hadn’t been for LinkedIn – so I think it’s useful to at least keep your profile up to date.

    7. Devil's Avocado*

      I found it useful while job hunting in an indirect way. I’d find a job ad, then go on Linked In and do some detective work to find people in similar jobs at that company, or even the person who currently held the job title I was looking at… it helped give me a sense of whether my background/experience made sense for the role.

      I think hiring managers looked at my linked in quite often too. I always noticed a spike in profile views around interviews. So I think it is worth keeping it up to date!

      1. Azul*

        Similar story here. I usually use Linked In to get some background info on people who will be interviewing me or potential bosses. It’s helpful when you want to get a better idea of their educational history and how they may have gotten into their current role.

    8. katamia*

      I try to keep my resume updated there (actually need to change mine because it’s out of date now, oops), but I have yet to see any real value from having a profile there. I think it must depend on the industry and goals because I can’t imagine getting recruited through it for any of the work I’ve done over the years.

      1. Ekaterin*

        Same here. I do have one that I keep updated with my current position, but it’s not commonly used in my field.

    9. Another Lawyer*

      I connected with someone I didn’t know but we knew a bunch of the same people for a coffee, and we kept in touch and he eventually offered me a job when a spot opened up. When I was ready to leave that job, I applied to a large law firm job that was posted and went through a few rounds of interviews before I accepted a different job, so it absolutely has value for me.

      I also love seeing where my contacts are going!

    10. Kyrielle*

      I’m a software engineer, and I found LI very useful. The invites from people I don’t know usually turn out to be recruiters trying to get a link where they can send me LI messages free.

      But having my profile up to date has resulted in several recruiters reaching out to me over the last couple years, including one for the company I wanted to work at (and now do), so I’m pretty pleased with it. :)

    11. Dan*

      I don’t use it heavily, but I find it useful. I’ve gotten a few recruiter messages, but it’s also helpful to know if you know somebody who knows somebody who works at a place you want to work at it, or works in a field you’re curious about.

    12. Ad Astra*

      For me, there’s some value in having a current, complete profile. Providing some information about your professional background can make it a lot easier for people to find you with opportunities. For most people/industries, I don’t think there’s much value in spending a lot of time actually posting on LinkedIn. I haven’t really been impressed with the quality of information or commentary on that site.

      Also, I like to use LinkedIn to help me match names and faces when I’m new at a company.

    13. Eliza Jane*

      I love LinkedIn, because a significant part of my network uses it very effectively. They post notes when their companies are hiring, they draw in new contacts, they talk about conferences, and they leave recommendations that are meaningful and detailed, which talk about the kind of professional relationship they had with the other person.

      I get a lot of really useful information about conferences and publications, and info about places that may be hiring. I was invited to talk on a business podcast once because of a conversation I got into with the hosts on LinkedIn. I’ve reached out to former colleagues who worked at a company I was interviewing at — I wouldn’t have known to contact them without LinkedIn.

      On the other hand, I deliberately don’t try to grow my network hugely. I limit it to people I’ve worked with and respect, and I watch their networks for opportunities. I mostly ignore the skills and endorsements, and use it as a sort of internet resume, so when people look me up, they can see more detail than I might put on a resume.

    14. AnotherHRPro*

      I think it is useful and as long as someone doesn’t seem stalkerish I accept invitations, especially if they are in my field. The more active your profile is and the more contacts you have the more likely your profile will be viewed by those looking for candidates. I’ve also found it helpful for networking with other HR folks to share bestpractices.

    15. Felicia*

      LinkedIn has been useful for me in applying for jobs (there are jobs listed there not listed elsewhere, and you apply directly on there).

      It’s also been useful for keeping in touch with former managers/coworkers, especially after they move on from the company.

      It depends what you’re using it for.

    16. CMT*

      There’s no harm done in keeping your profile up-to-date, so why not? I don’t accept connections from people I don’t know, either, but I do update everything and visit the site frequently. But, I’m actively looking and I think there are some good job postings there.

    17. Stranger than fiction*

      My BF got his last two jobs via linked in and continues to get contacted by recruiters frequently. He loves it but doesn’t necessarily spend a lot of time there, just keeps things up to date. I agree the notifications can be a bit much.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, I don’t think I’d find much value in frequent updates, etc. But I do like it as a community repository of information and resumes.

        That said, I searched for their list of “top 22 My Type of Professionals in My Company,” and I wasn’t on there!!

    18. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      I think LinkedIn is useful, especially if you keep your profile updated (I need to do that soon…)
      I received my last 2 job offers from recruiters (1 internal/1 external) that contacted me via LinkedIn.

    19. Honeybee*

      In my field (tech) almost all of the employers I applied to asked for my LinkedIn profile either in addition to or in lieu of my resume. And LinkedIn lets you see how many people are viewing your profile and I noted people absolutely were viewing it during the application period. I’ve also had recruiters contact me via LinkedIn about opportunities, and some of the professional organizations in my field are really active via LinkedIn.

    20. Emily*

      I got contacted and asked to apply for a job through LinkedIn. I intervied yesterday so I don’t know if I got it yet. I think it’s a good place to riff more on your responsibilities and accomplishments. I put skills on there but I don’t let any of the recommendations go public because they don’t mean anything.

  14. March*

    So a teapot factory I really want to work for had an information session at my university this week, targeting new grads. Even before the session I was interested in working there, but I was just floored by how much the CEO and HR reps really cared about the company and they all clearly had a lot of pride and love for their work and for the company. Hearing what they had to say about it made me that much more interested in working there.

    Unfortunately I didn’t think to bring a copy of my resume to the session, so while many of my classmates handed in their resumes to the HR manager, I was kicking myself for not thinking of it. But I did remember a comment she had made at the table my friends and I were sitting at, so when people were done handing in their resumes I took the chance to ask her about it – turns out it’s a topic she’s really invested in! To find out she was so passionate about women in STEM fields (something I, as a woman in a STEM field, definitely care about) was fantastic, and we had a short conversation before more people came to give her their resumes. Before I left she asked if I would be emailing her my resume and asked for my name, so I’m really hopeful that I left a great impression. I know better than to overthink it, but when I emailed her my resume I was sure to bring up our conversation and thanked her again for the great session.

    They’re not interviewing until later this spring, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. And in the mean time, I’ll keep applying to more jobs!

    1. hermit crab*

      Oh, it sounds like you did all the right things! I’ve staffed a few job fairs and having an actual, thoughtful interaction with someone (even a short one) is WAY more memorable than one more name in a pile of resumes. Good luck!

  15. Holly*

    I don’t really have a question this week. Just.. been a tough week. One of my coworkers called my work “amateurish.” Tact has never been her strong suit, but seriously?


    1. Nanc*

      Phhhht. Technically, Olympic athletes are amateurs, so you’re in good company and she’s got a case of foot in mouth disease.

    2. Marcela*

      Nothing to add, but to say the once my coworker told other people, in my presence, that the website I made looked “cheap”. Ugh.

    3. Evgb*

      That’s incredibly rude. How did you respond?

      I completely understand how you feel. A co-worker during my first few months of the new job I’m in called a design of mine, “tacky”, when they weren’t even supposed to be weighing-in on design (and this person was always the first to comment, never seeming to like my work). However, since then it’s been made pretty clear that’s not their department, and that’s subsided for the most part.

      I think some people take pride in being “blunt”, but don’t realize that there’s a fine-line between being direct, and being completely tactless. Be glad you’re not one of those people.

    4. Mirilla*

      Well years ago a coworker told me that any peon could do my accounting job. Yeah that helped my confidence.

  16. Terra*

    What’s everyone’s opinions on the ethics of using biased references? I have a really good reference who is a former manager however she’s also a friend of my fiancee and I and recently agreed to be my maid of honor at our wedding. Are either or us obligated to tell reference checkers this? Should I not be using her as a reference? Will it look bad if the reference checkers find out about our non-professional relationship after the fact? She hasn’t expressed any concern about the issue but I feel kind of weird about it.

    1. some1*

      Personally, I would try to find a reference to use along with her because I do think there could be an appearance of bias.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it’s a big deal. A lot of people become friends with former co-workers (including former managers). I would just make sure she’s not your only reference. Most places I’ve applied have asked for three references, so you would probably want to have at least two.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If I knew about the relationship, I’d ask you for other references, just because I couldn’t discount the chance of real bias. For example, if she mentioned on the reference call that she’s going to be your maid of honor, that would be a concern for me. Not like a “what’s up with Terra for giving me this shady reference” concern, but just “hmmm, I think I need to talk to other people.”

      1. Terra*

        Thanks for the advice. As a follow up, she was my only manager at this particular job and I wasn’t close or well known to the boss. Would a co-worker be an acceptable alternative reference in this case?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’d want manager references. As long as you’re giving manager references for other jobs, I think you can give her too and just add a caveat (we’ve become friends since I left that job).

          Or, of course, you can ask her to keep the reference call strictly professional and not mention the personal relationship, although that’s probably a little icky to say/request.

    4. Mike C.*

      Two things come to mind. The first is that everyone is biased in some way, it’s just a part of being human, having learned from personal experiences, etc. So being biased in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. The second is that you should reveal clear conflicts of interest. So answer the questions as you would normally, but let them know that there are significant personal ties and let them see what they want to do with that information.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      Fine in my book. My #1 reference is someone I worked with from 98-2003 and after the company collapsed we became good friends. Then he started his own home based biz in same industry 4 years ago and I helped him get things set up (for free he couldn’t afford to pay me) while I was in between jobs. Not once did anyone ask him if he was a personal friend while checking my references. My #2 reference is also my BF :o because we worked on a huge project together (two actually, we met at work obvi but neither of us work for that company anymore) so he can speak about that and not let any emotions color it. I’ve been his reference too. The rest of my references are former managers.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        And now that I see Alisons replies let me just add both these people were a level above me. The first friend was not my direct manager but that guy has since fell off the planet after he ran the company into the ground. My BF is a secondary reference but I have my direct manager as a reference from there as well. I’ve received good feedback about my references from my current employer.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I just gave a reference for a guy who worked for me on 4 different occasions and who also goes to dinner regularly w/ me and DH.

      I gave all the facts about employment, and all the details on how how work is. And then I said, “Full disclosure, after all this time he’s also become a friend. But I’m about to hire him to work an assignment that starts next week.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        He didn’t bring it up; I did. I think that’s appropriate.
        And my professional reference came first, and was detailed (both in the detail I gave, and also in its reality–I mean, 4 times at 3 organizations? I’ve had plenty of opportunities to see his work).

  17. BRR*

    I have performance reviews coming up. We have to give feedback to our supervisors and I’m a little at a loss, in no small part that I have only been here a couple of months. What sort of feedback have you all given to your managers?

    1. Mark in Cali*

      I hate that kind of stuff. Even when you word it correctly, it’s usually met with with “there are things you are unaware of that result in the way I do things.”

      For example, I hate how my boss reviews my budget and forecast even though that’s my job, but she has to make sure our whole portfolio doesn’t overspend, not just my program. It makes me feel like she doesn’t trust my work and it also seems to add an unnecessary task to her list of duties. She will always do this though.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “I’ve only been here a couple of months so don’t have a ton of feedback, but so far I’m really happy with X and Y.”

      They know you’ve only been there a few months; they’re not expecting a detailed review (and it would be weird, probably, if you had one to give at this point).

    3. Glod Glodsson*

      Maybe you can use that fresh perspective as a starting point? It might have given you some insights people who have worked there longer are unable to see. But to be honest, I try to stay very neutral or positive when giving feedback to a leadership figure. In my experience, if they’re open to that kind of thing I’ve already given it throughout the year. If they’re not, it might damage your relationship.

  18. esra*

    My desk buddy got fired out of the blue this week. No warnings, we’d all been told we were doing great.

    I feel super bad and am struggling a bit to put on the happy face in the office. Has anyone ever been on a team where someone was fired? Someone you thought was actually really good at their job?

    1. LCL*

      In my experience (I know this varies widely!) people are rarely fired for performance issues. They are fired for something personnel/HR related, and if you aren’t directly involved you won’t ever be told the reason. With smaller companies it is quite common for someone to be fired because their direct management didn’t like them.

    2. Suzanne*

      Oh, heavens, yes, I’ve been in that situation! I worked at for-profit college (pretty much really was a diploma mill, but I was desperate for a job) for a few years and firings were, I think, built into their business model. One woman got an award for exemplary service at a regional conference and was fired just a few weeks later. I knew her pretty well and she, to this day, really doesn’t know why. Another woman was fired at the same time, and told me when she asked the director if she was being laid off, fired for poor work, or exactly what, he said he really didn’t know but that they needed to go in a different direction. An admin assistant, who routinely came in early, stayed late, and generally worked her tail off, was fired for “having a bad attitude”.
      The hardest part about it was the wondering when my number would be up. I was there two years, longer than anyone else had lasted, and I think I was going to be fired the day I handed in my resignation. Good luck and get out of there if you can!

      1. esra*

        Well that’s what we’re wondering now, are we next?

        I’m also a bit upset because they don’t want to “promote” it by sending out an email letting the staff know. But obviously people are going to ask questions, and they’re going to end up asking those of us left on the team. It just kind of sucks that we’re breaking the news to people through the grapevine :\

    3. Jennifer*

      Yup. The person pretty much got canned for pissing off her supervisor. Basically they were two alpha ladies and the supervisor can do whatever she wants, and the employee was attempting to get help from the union. Suffice it to say that did worse than nothing. It was ugly.

      I’ve heard the employee got another job a year later, thank god.

    4. AnotherHRPro*

      When someone is suddenly fired out of the blue, it generally means that they violated a company policy. Something where there isn’t any tolerance or warnings given. And when this happens and people let you they don’t know why they got fired I would guess that they probably do but don’t want to tell you.

      1. esra*

        No, that wasn’t it. It was legitmately: She isn’t meeting this requirement we never really stated and we gave no warning. I’m not sure HR and our director realized how they sounded/what they were saying. It’s a young company + a lot of young people in young roles.

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          That is unfortunate. They really aren’t doing themselves any favors. Unless someone is told they aren’t doing what is expected, how can you them accountable for that? I don’t blame you for being worried about your job (and you probably should be given how they tried your co-worker). Sorry you are going through this. Things like this is one of the reasons small business drive me crazy. They don’t appreciate the damage they are doing.

    5. Ama*

      I have been on a team where someone was fired, and it was a shock, but after I had some time to digest (and work without this person), it became clear that, though she was good at what tasks she was given, we had been working around her for years –avoiding giving her a lot of detail oriented tasks that someone in her position *should* have been doing because she couldn’t be trusted not to make critical mistakes. What she was actually good at no longer added up to even a half time position, so they eliminated it.

      The big mistake management made in this case was assuming there was no need for that position instead of that we needed someone else in the position, but they made the correct decision that this particular person wasn’t working out.

    6. The Expendable Redshirt*

      There have been a half dozen good coworkers at Old Job who have been fired. I’m sorry, we were all terminated without cause. The story is the same for everyone, positive performance reviews, well liked by coworkers, and a sudden dismissal. Usually, a member of upper management became irritated by something (The employee wore lime green shoes!) and sent them packing because they could.

      This is different than being fired as in “I set my coworkers office on fire and stole their money.”

  19. bassclefchick*

    I’m seriously beginning to think I’m unhireable. I’ve been a temp for 5 years. I’ve had 4 long term assignments in that time at two companies and both of them told me they would have loved to hire me if they had the headcount. But I think that potential employers look at temping as “there’s something wrong with her that no one will bring her on permanently so we’ll pass too”.

    And then there’s the disturbing trend of employers asking if you’ve ever been terminated. I seriously want to know what that has to do with doing a good job in a different role. Does it really matter that I was fired once? My “weakness” is that i’m honest to a fault…even if (maybe especially if) it’s detrimental to me. I really think I should start lying about ever being terminated so I can at least start getting more interviews.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can present myself better? If it’s an online application, I just say it wasn’t the best fit for me and I wasn’t able to complete the tasks assigned. If it’s a phone interview, I state it wasn’t the best fit and try to move on. I’m over the bitterness about that job, so I think I’ve been able to keep it out of my voice.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been in your shoes to a degree – I was a contractor here for five years before I got officially hired. I had dozens of other interviews in that time trying to find a “real” job and nothing panned out.

      I actually think long term assignments help you – most companies understand the politics of temps and contractors but being kept on long-term means you were valuable. Keep trying.

      I also got fired from a job almost nine years ago and have had to answer that question over and over. I have literally practiced my response out loud (while alone) and run through it so that I didn’t sound bitter or upset, telling the truth but in a balanced way. In reality I made a dumb mistake which nobody else caught, took responsibility for it, and got thrown under the bus. But you can shade things however you need to as long as you don’t lie. You definitely shouldn’t lie.

      Good luck. :)

    2. Terra*

      Don’t lie. It’s too easy for that to come back and bite you after the fact. The termination question is always difficult. There’s an argument for being the first one to bring it up rather than letting them ask the question. That way it doesn’t come across as something that you’re hiding or ashamed of. It may also be better to try and phrase it as something you learned from? Saying that it wasn’t a good fit may seem like you’re pushing the blame on the company even if it’s the true answer. Phrasing it as “I had trouble connecting with my boss due to differing expectations but I’ve learned that I need to make sure that my supervisor and I have clear goals for my work in order to keep that from happening again” or something similar might be a better answer, especially in an interview, because it frames it both as you taking responsibility for the problem and having put in the work necessary to improve and learn from the experience?

      Also, if you admit it was partially your fault and then explain how you’ve grown past it then it makes it sound like something that isn’t likely to happen again. Just being a bad fit could unfortunately happen anywhere so it’s not comforting.

      1. bassclefchick*

        Oh, my! I LOVE that phrasing! It’s almost close to the truth. The actual truth is it was a toxic workplace with all kinds of crazy going on and I was insane to agree to be hired on permanently there. After temping there, oddly enough. LOL

    3. Mike C.*

      Don’t be afraid to use a professional service for resume writing. Apparently I can’t write resumes worth the paper they’re printed out on, but when I use a service I get interviews just fine.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I’ve followed Alison’s advice on the resume and actually had her do a resume check once, so I think I’m good there. Maybe the next time she does one, I’ll have her look at what I’ve done with it since the last time she looked at it.

      2. justsomeone*

        @Mike C – any you recommend? I’m not really getting any bites so I think I need to do something different.

        1. Mike C.*

          I’ve used Resumes To Interviews with great success. My first rough draft got me an interview at the company I work at, the final got me a second with a job offer, and I went back to update for an internal interview that I nailed (but didn’t get due to procedural issues out of my hands).

    4. TootsNYC*

      I agree that long-term temp contracts make you look good. If you were annoying, or just not that competent, they could just send you away and call the temp agency to try again.

      And you are hirable–you’re getting those gigs.
      Just wanted to say something encouraging. I think other people have had good advice about the termination thing. I’m so grateful nobody’s ever asked that; they’ve asked “why did you leave this job,” and that’s hard enough.

  20. Azul*

    Happy Friday AAM hive! Question for all of you guys…

    I interviewed last week for an entry-level-ish job and brought my own relevant writing sample. I was not asked to but the description called for someone with good writing skills, etc. and I wanted to help demonstrate that. After the interview I was asked to do a short writing exercise; okay, cool. The hiring manager also told me that the second interview would consist of a presentation to the directors of the department.

    After the interview, I sent a customary follow up note, highlighting my skills and emphasizing my interest in the role. The hiring manager then asked me if I could send a specific writing sample demonstrating my skills/ability to use grammar, etc. I asked her if the one I brought would work (I was not sure she remembered; she seemed a bit tired in our interview as they are dealing with a lot over there) but she said no, they needed something showing X, Y, and Z. Now I knew what those things were, but I did not have something like that on hand, so I had to create it. It was about 8 pages (which is standard for that sort of work), took me the whole weekend. Nevertheless, I emailed her with the document attached and asked her if she would confirm receipt of it. I heard nothing back and that was about five days ago.

    Now what I want to know is, should I follow up or just trust that she received it but did not have the time to respond to me? I don’t want to come across as a pain but she also made it seem that this was the only box left to check in terms of my moving forward to the next round (it was a pretty good interview overall despite her seeming tired). As a hiring manager, if for some reason you did not receive this document, would you still follow up with the candidate or wait for them to ask you again about whether or not it was received? Also, is all of this overkill for an entry-level-ish role? Your thoughts are appreciated!

    1. fposte*

      I wouldn’t nudge her for acknowledgment, but I think you could get away with a followup email saying that you sent her the document as an attachment and you’re emailing as separate notification just in case a problem occurs with the attachment.

      I wouldn’t ask somebody to write 8 pages for an entry level job. I could see having a writing sample requirement for an entry level job that would map onto somebody’s undergraduate papers in some areas and therefore getting writing samples of that length.

    2. LAI*

      I agree, I wouldn’t ask her for acknowledgement of receipt again. In fact, I personally hate when people do this because it kind of implies that they don’t think I am responsible enough to manage my own inbox. If the email requires a reply, then I’ll reply. If it doesn’t, I’m not going to reply just to say that I received it.

  21. bearing*

    Completely curiosity-based question for non-US readers.

    Compared to the US, paid maternity leave policies in other countries are typically described here to be much more generous and respectful of the needs of newborns and working mothers. I was just wondering if paid maternity leave of several months or more, or even job-protected unpaid maternity leave, is typically available for all workers, including low-income, hourly-type workers in the service sector; part-time workers; workers under temporary contracts, etc. Are there any types of businesses that are somehow exempt from having to offer that kind of maternity leave?

    No agenda, I was just wondering if these fabulously generous-sounding policies (compared to what we have in the US) are typically, universally available, or if there’s a sector of the population that doesn’t have access to them for whatever reason. I realize it’ll vary by country.

    1. Elkay*

      I believe in the UK if you’ve been in post 6 months you’re entitled to maternity leave and statutory maternity pay.

      1. Elkay*

        I was wrong,
        Statutory Maternity Leave
        Employees must:
        have an employment contract – it doesn’t matter how long they’ve worked for you
        give you the correct notice
        Employees must tell you at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected the date:
        the baby is due
        they want to start their maternity leave – they can change this with 28 days’ notice
        You have 28 days to write confirming their leave start and end date.

      2. Bob'sSpreadsheet*

        In BC, you get 17 weeks of maternity leave, 37 weeks for parental leave, 37 weeks for adoption leave.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      I haven’t checked this but… I think / assume people in temp jobs don’t get maternity leave, or at least the law doesn’t require anything. For part time positions I don’t know how it works. As far as low income jobs etc, as long as it’s not a temp thing then it’s the same rules no matter what the job level or salary.

      1. Elkay*

        Statutory maternity rules apply for the duratation of their contract so if it’s a fixed term contract the maternity pay/rules come to an end when the contract does.

    3. esra*

      Parental and pregnancy leave works a couple different ways in Ontario. Pregnant women are entitled to 17 weeks of pregnancy leave, unpaid. Both parental and pregnancy leave are unpaid, but you can collect EI and some employers will top you up.

      For parental leave, new parents can take up to 35 weeks. It’s separate from pregnancy leave, so technically a woman could take both (but men can only take parental leave).

      Anyone who is covered under the Employment Standards Act is entitled to these benefits. Basically like, police and federal employees aren’t, but their benefits are rad anyway.

      1. Felicia*

        To add, it’s super common in a lot of average office jobs (at least in my sector) for employers to top you up, and most workers have access to this leave.

        Also covering one year mat leave contract was how i (and a lot of people i graduated with) got my first career related job.

        1. esra*

          Yea I didn’t start out with a mat leave contract, but it’s a great way to dip your toe into another industry, or see if you like a certain role. I covered one last year.

    4. lulu*

      in France it’s everyone as long as you’ve been in the country 10 months. You get 95% of your salary/income, paid by the state, so it’s not really related to the business you work for. Your employer cannot change your contract while you’re gone, so you’re guaranteed a position when you come back.

    5. Software developer*

      In Germany, it’s not paid for by the business St all. The first 14 weeks come from health insurance, the part after that (up to 12 months with lots of rules and part-time options) cones from something similar to “social security”, so also tax based. While the amount you get depends in your wages (with a minimum and a maximum amount), your employer has little to do with it.

      Basically, all of the groups you mentioned get paid leave. Self-employment is different, though.

      1. Software developer*

        Unfortunately, the AAM site freezes up my browser when typing, hence the typos. Correcting them takes too long. Sorry.

      2. Worker Bee (Germany)*

        There is also a 12 week total around the birth (8 weeks Prior and 6 weeks after the birth I think) during that you are on paid leave. You can ask your employer to not take it and actually work but usually noone does. Also companies need to secure your Job or a similiar one for your return but only if you’re contract isn’t a time contract.

    6. Back at work*

      In British Columbia, I just got started work after being away for 15 months in my union job. We have 12 weeks of sick time avaliable prior to 1 year off comprising of maternity leave of 16 weeks and the rest being paternity leave. Since I had a very painful pregnancy I left early due my health being compromised and used my sick leave followed by my mat/paternity leave. I used up my avaliable sick hours from my job and then was paid by the government as we have sick unemployment payments. I was topped up the first 16 weeks of my mat leave by my work. During the year we receive basically unemployment insurance pay which should be 60% of your income until you top out. Since I top out it amount to about 40% of my take home pay. Also we have the option to share any portion paternity leave to the other spouse/partner in the relationship.

    7. AVP*

      There was a really interesting series in Slate that delved into maternity leave policies and child care options in non-US countries. Will post the link below for moderation.

      1. Seattle Writer Gal*

        Ditto. I’m 28 weeks pregnant and am in the throes of figuring out my upcoming maternity leave plan for my contract job (in the U.S., not subject to FMLA). I’m being heavily pressured by my boss to return to work as soon as possible (just 4 weeks off post-childbirth and can’t I be available for weekly meetings via phone?) and find my own replacement so that “our client contract doesn’t take a hit” while I am away.

        It’s been a huge difference from my first child where I took 4 months off unpaid from my FTE position with 2 people hired to cover for me while away!

    8. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      In New Zealand, there are some changes coming up so that seasonal/temporary/casual workers are also eligible. But as it stands currently:

      16 weeks leave paid by the government, up to a set maximum (about $500 per week). This is increasing to 18 weeks from 1 April. Eligible if you’ve worked for the same employer for at least 10 hours a week/40 hours a month for the previous 6 months.
      Up to 52 weeks total leave (including the paid parental leave portion), job protected unless your company can prove it’s a key role and can’t be covered by a temp (this is very hard to prove in reality).
      Either of the above can be shared between both parents.
      2 weeks partner’s leave unpaid.
      10 days unpaid leave during pregnancy to deal with things like appointments/scans/etc. (in reality every pregnant person I’ve ever known has just used paid sick leave or flex time to deal with these, but the point is this leave can’t be denied by the employer).

      There’s a bill in place at the moment so that employees who’ve been with a company less than 6 months are eligible for the 18 weeks, and if you’ve been employed 6-12 months you can take up to 26 weeks total.

    9. Cambridge Comma*

      In Austria everyone is entitled and the cost is covered by the state. The person giving birth is legally barred from working for eight weeks before and eight weeks after the birth, or longer if there are complications, and is paid during this time. Following that, either parent can take up to 24 months (but they don’t tend to take more than a year as state daycare is free). There are five different models of payment for this, some flat rate and some related to your most recent salary, and people choose the one that will give you the highest sum. The people I know to have done it, mostly medium to well paid professionals get around 80% of their salary, but on an average income I think you’d end up closer to 100%.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        We have unlimited sick leave here though, so leave for doctors appointments during the pregnancy wouldn’t be an issue, and that cost would be covered by the employer. But if a pregnant woman can’t work long bfore the birth, log term sick leave is then covered by national insurance.

  22. super anon*

    crazy town moment of the week:

    i was in my office with the door closed because i was on the phone [side note for context: i often talk to students and work on super confidential information so my door is closed often, but left unlocked]. my coworker who has the office beside mine started yelling “super anon hey!!!” through the wall, and when i didn’t answer she got up and started banging on my door and window going “hey super anon!!! hey!!”. i was super startled and stood up and pointed to the phone, at which point she OPENED MY OFFICE DOOR and ran into my office and right behind my computer monitor – where i had open confidential information that coworker doesn’t have clearance to look at!

    at this point i figured she wanted something direly important so i put my quickly put my call on hold and asked her what she wanted – all she wanted to know how i got onto an email listserv! she then stood there while my call was on hold while i looked for the contact person’s information to forward her, because she refused to leave until i did so. ugh. i was so shocked when it was happening that i didn’t say anything at the time, but i’m thinking i should have a conversation with her at some point about this. :/

    there’s a lot of boundary issues in my office and i’ve had several boundary issues with this coworker, but this was the most outrageous thing to happen yet. oh – and she is a director with 20 years experience. she should really know better, you know?

    1. KR*

      I would totally have a conversation with her. Then if she does it again, look at her and tell her that you’re in the middle of a phone call and you can help her later. It’s the only way she’ll learn. Do you have inter-office IM? She could IM or email you with your question and if possible you could look it up while you’re on the phone instead of her banging on the walls.

      1. super anon*

        No, I wish we had inter-office im! Right now the only way to communicate is to email each other (and maybe never get a response), or to visit people on different floors and hope they’re in your office when you drop in.

    2. Temperance*

      Next time she starts screaming and acting like a tool, I would send her an email that says you are on the phone, and will follow up after. And lock your door.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Unfortunately, people with boundary issues are usually unaware or unconcerned about their effect on others, so all she knows is that she wanted that information right away, and she got it, even though you didn’t give it to her as quickly as possible. When she acts like this, your best bet is to refuse to give her the information she wants when she wants it, assuming that the immediacy is due to her self-centeredness and not an actual business need. Even if that takes you away from your tasks for longer than just capitulating would, she’ll probably stop after a while, so in the long run you’ll be better able to serve your students, even if there is a negative impact in the short run.

      Just remain calm and firm when you refuse her, and don’t feel the need to justify, argue, defend, or explain yourself. “No” is a complete sentence. :)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’d let her know that if I ever do anything like that to her it is because the place is on fire and she needs to get out the closest exit.

      But I’d start the conversation by saying that she scared the crap out of me and that I thought something was severely wrong. Then I’d go over point by point, yelling, opening the door, confidential info, in process phone call, the whole works. I’d tell her that the person on the phone could hear her screaming. I’d let her know that I thought she had a life and death emergency.

  23. Gene*

    We are finally getting rolling on hiring a replacement for the employee who died a year ago. There was a push by another work group to add a bunch to the job spec so one of her employees could get a bump in salary; everyone finally realized that would create a job spec that wouldn’t get either group a list they wanted and it died. Then end of year stuff tied everyone up.

    We had a meeting at HR yesterday to finalize the changes we wanted to make to the job spec to address some of the problems we’d noted in the last hire. My job today is to get the final done. Then the spec goes to the Labor-Management Committee, after they are finished with it, and we’re happy with the result, it goes to Civil Service Board along with the Request For Applicants. So, maybe the recruiting will get started in March.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m imaging a whole department of sewer cops, standing tall in your brown uniforms, and looking for a good replacement for your fallen brother. But your co-worker who died was probably someone else in the water/sewer department, and you’re probably the only sewer cop among them. I hope you find a good person and the process doesn’t take too long.

      1. Gene*


        We are a small division, a manager and currently 4 sewer cop FTEs with one empty due to the death. It looks like one body and his FTE will be going to a different workgroup and we can afford to lose him. Some things we’ve been doing that aren’t required will go undone; but the mandatory stuff will still happen.

        In about a year, the manager plans to retire and I’ll likely take over the program as manager. So, this go around, we are actually looking for a future replacement for me with someone who has lots of experience (fingers crossed). That will give the new hire time to come up to speed on how we do things. The round after the manager retires can be someone new or newish to the field whom I can mold. {insert evil laugh here}.

        The job spec won’t change, but once the list from this one expires, we can do a different supplemental questionnaire that will target less experienced people.

        And our uniforms are blue.

      2. Tepid Tea Water*

        And now I’m having trouble imagining this without including some version of once we were kings from Billy Elliot.
        The image of a bunch of sewer cops walking proudly into a darkening tunnel while singing is going to stick with me for awhile. Thank you.

  24. Trainer*

    What’s a reasonable amount of professional development to ask for?

    There is a 3 day training I want to take in a different state that would normally be $2000 plus travel. However, I can currently take it for free and potentially stay with family and would only need gas reimbursement. That said, I’d rather stay in a hotel. There is another training on a separate topic that is online that would cost $1500 but no travel is required.

    I’d like to ask about attending both. Is it too much to ask for hotel for one and registration fir the other? Or should I try to do the first one completely for free? The cost of these trainings are astronomical in my mind but maybe it’s normal. What’s reasonable?

    If it matters, I know one of my teammates attended an online course for $1500 so the cost seems somewhat in line, but there was no travel involved. We’ve also been encouraged to mention training and conferences we want to attend and I just yesterday had a conversation with my manager about these very aspects of my work ramping up and the training directly relates to them.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Totally depends on your field, company, and position. $3,500 would be a big ask for me (nonprofit, large organization but with low investment in professional development, mid-level). But my husband routinely spends $5,000 – $10,000 a year on PD with no issues (Fortune 500 company, mid-level, on a leadership track)..

      1. Trainer*

        Good point. I’m in software so I can manage a bigger ask than I could in a nonprofit.

        To be clear:
        Course 1: normally $2000 but free for me for a limited time, cost would be travel expenses only.
        Course 2: $1500 for registration, no travel expenses since it is online.

        So the ask would be $1500 for one plus travel for the other.

        the online course plus cost of hotel for the one in the different state. The training I have to travel for is normally $2000 but I have a free pass for a limited time.

        1. KathyGeiss*

          Hmm. I’d just ask. Depending on your org, you could approach it too ways:
          1. Confidently: “I have these great opportunities do you support”

          2. With more recognition that it may not be possible. “I have these 2 great opportunties that id like to take advantage of. Is this something the company could support right now?”

    2. KathyGeiss*

      If ask around to see what your colleagues have done in the past. It’s totally different depending on the organization. no one would bat an eye at what your talking about in my company but other places can be very different.

      The other thing you could do is map out a plan with your manager. “I’d like to do ALL THESE AMAZING THINGS. But I recognize that this may be too much. Can we map out a plan for me to continue my professional development together?” Maybe you can get agreement that this year you do x while next year you focus on y.

    3. Anxa*

      Maybe providing salary info would give more context. My salary is under 10K a year, so I would think that would be unreasonable for me. But I think it would be plenty reasonable in other positions.

      1. Trainer*

        My salary is 64K. I’m on the lower end compared to others with my same title or in the same area because this was a career change for me. But I am also really good at what I do and am the only person in my part of the org doing these specific things.

        I don’t know if that really makes a difference but in my head that means it behooves them to help me develop my skills since they don’t have anyone else that they can rely on for my tasks, which are fairly essential.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    I’m very excited: I was picked for a leadership program! What’s even better is that I just found out that the reason for the program is succession planning. I asked my boss this morning if this was more like a leadership development program and if it would eventually be open to other people, or was it more about succession planning. (There had been some discussion between me and other peer as to how they chose the candidates, was it open to other people, is it an on-going program, etc.) He confirmed that it was success planning and that the executives actually had nothing to do with the program at all; the people were picked by the CEO and the executives, our bosses, will serve as mentors.

    I’ve only been at this company for a year, so be recognized as a future executive is very exciting! At my former company, one I’d been at from Day One until the last day (12 years, company closed), I was basically the #3 in charge. Since it was such a small company (13 employees), I was considered senior management. Although I learned a lot and got a lot of exposure, it was still a very small company. The one I’m at now is much larger in asset size and we have over 250 employees, so it’s a whole different ball game now.

    So, does anyone have any tips from an executive level they’d like to share?

  26. Pokebunny*

    When applying to a reach job, i.e a job I’m under qualified for, AAM advises acknowledging that in the cover letter and saying why I’ll do a good job anyway. What do you think about that? Will that give them a reason to say no, where they may not have said no at first? I have 1 year experience, the job asks for 4.

    1. Adam*

      My rule of thumb is to look at the requirements in the job posting and compare them to your skills (these are the flat out must-haves; not the “it would be a bonus if” section). I think if you can honestly say you fill 80% of the requirements it’s worth a shot to apply. If you are lacking in a key area, I think acknowledging it shows that you did read through the posting and have a good idea of what they are asking for. It also gives you an opportunity to highlight how deficiency in one area may not be as big a deal if you can make up for it by being really good in other areas, including pulling in your bonus traits that might make up for the difference.

      ex: While I admittedly only have one year of teapot spout inspection experience, my vast knowledge of brewing techniques gives me a deep understanding of what clients are looking for in a tea pot.

      In short, I think if there is an important area of the job posting you don’t quite have down pat, I think acknowledging it is better than ignoring it. The person seriously reading your application is probably going to notice and you addressing it ahead of time gives them the impression that you do care enough about the job to take it seriously.

      1. Pokebunny*

        Thanks. Obviously I’m going to apply anyway and then move on once I click submit. I initially passed over this job posting because the lowest point of the salary range they post is out of my range (they go from $X – $X+30k, my range is $X-10k)… but looking at the job posting, it describes exactly what I’m doing right now, just at a much larger scale. So right now I’m making plain 20 oz chocolate teapots, this job is about making 52 oz chocolate teapots with intricate designs on them.

    2. katamia*

      I’ve always seen advice to stay away from explicitly saying “While I lack X, I would make up for it with Y” or anything along those lines. Instead, just focus on Y and presenting the most positive aspects of Y without calling attention to your more limited experience. I’ve gotten several jobs and even more job interviews for jobs where I didn’t meet all the qualifications, and I’ve never mentioned my lack of experience or any other qualification I lacked.

      1. Weekday Warrior*

        Yeah this is a toughie. I’d generally advise not to draw attention to shortcomings too but as a hiring manager, I do want to see that the applicant has paid attention to the requirements and is speaking to them, including areas where there is a noticeable gap, e.g. one year versus 4 years experience. But address the gap with confidence and make your case that you have other experience, education, training, etc., that bridges the gap. Avoid anything that sounds apologetic.

  27. katamia*

    Within the next year or two, I want to start applying for accent trainer positions at call centers in India. I’m qualified for at least some of the positions I’ve looked at (others want corporate experience I don’t have), but I want to make myself a better candidate while I’m getting other parts of my life together. Has anyone done this sort of work specifically (in India or elsewhere) or applied to jobs at Indian companies in India, especially when not an Indian citizen? Any suggestions or words of warning?

  28. Doriana Gray*

    So I started my new job this week. Yay for promotions! Yay for escaping my terrible former manager! And triple yay for getting taken out to eat twice at the beginning of the week by the higher-ups as a welcome to the division!

    But our IT department is driving us up the wall. I was hired into this new division back on December 1. The hiring manager sent in the request last month to have all of my system accesses set up and changed over by January 18. They just now started the process this morning, so I’ve been sitting here without anything to do for the past four days! Granted, I was able to assist one of my team members who is out on vacation with closing down three of his files, but my team is slammed and I was supposed to be helping them set up files this week to relieve the workload – yeah, that didn’t happen.

    Still, I’m already picking up this job a lot quicker than I thought I would, and my new manager has already complimented me on the work I did on my coworker’s closed files. I have a feeling this is going to be a much better job fit than where I just came from.

  29. TOCity*

    Can anyone provide tips for applying to jobs in a major city when you don’t live there yet? I’m wanting to move out to Toronto, which is the Canadian “hub” for the industry I’m trying to break into. I’ve read discussions about hiring managers scrapping applications when the candidate is outside the area, but I simply can’t afford to move to Toronto without having a job lined up. Does anyone have any tips about applying to jobs long distance?

    1. Not Karen*

      You’re probably already doing this, and I don’t know how much it helps, but I make sure to say things in my cover letter like “more than willing to relocate” and “would love an opportunity to work in the Toronto area.”

      1. TOCity*

        Do you have suggestions for how to include this organically? I’ve really been struggling to figure out how to include this without it feeling wedged in.

        1. Not Karen*

          Unfortunately I have the same struggle. I ended up leaving it in inorganically, something like “Dear hiring manager, I’m writing to apply for the position of Teapot Analyst. I would love an opportunity to work in the Toronto area, and am more than willing to relocate.”

    2. the_scientist*

      I can’t really comment on long-distance job searching but do you have connections in the GTA? Like friends, family members? You could use their address on your application materials and potentially stay with them for interviews.

      How far outside the area are you? Commuting in the GTA is a damn nightmare, so lots of people have 1 hour or longer (each way!) commutes every day. If you’re searching for a job in Toronto and live in, say, Ajax, Pickering, Uxbridge, Whitby or Oshawa I honestly don’t think an interviewer is going to bat an eye. I know people who commute from Northern Newmarket/Holland Landing to Kitchener every day.

      1. TOCity*

        I do have friends in Toronto,but my problem is that I don’t live anywhere near Toronto right now if I was to be called for an in-person interview. Unfortunately, I live in Alberta so I’m quite far away. I should note though, I’m not in the Oil and Gas industry so the reason for my move is not related to the bad economy out here. I currently work for a university and am trying to break into international development.

        1. Sandy*

          Ooh! A question I can help with!

          I’m in international development, and I’ve never had issues applying for positions from outside the city where the organization is based. It’s an industry that is very used to people applying from all over.

          Where you may run into an issue is that international development is a very… cliquey industry, for lack of a better word, and international development based in Toronto even more so. It’s really expected that you will have paid your dues, everybody will know everybody, and many jobs will have someone from the organization or a closely allied organization already lined up, even if the position is advertised publicly.

          My best advice is this case would be to work your network like crazy. You want your network to be able to put in a good word for you, to the effect of “check out this candidate I know from XYZ. She’s currently based at a university, but she has a strong track record in ABC area that the organization works in and managed to bring in xxx$ in new funding when she was working on program DEFG. She’s familiar with federal government funding mechanisms because of her work on HIJK project, which successfully wrapped up a year ago.”

          1. TOCity*

            Thanks for your help!

            I know that international development is notoriously hard to break into. Since I’m lacking direct experience, I’ve been looking at very entry level positions and hoping that my academic experience (completing my MA on cultural memory studies) will help me out. Thankfully I do have some connections in the field in Toronto and thankfully I’m currently working a position which is giving me professional experience.

            I realize I need to pay my dues, but I’m having trouble finding opportunities to even do that. Even volunteer experience has been hard and often requires previous experience. I feel like I’m stuck in a loop! If you have any other tips I’d be very grateful. But I’m already very appreciative of the information you have given me.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      I would recommend indicating in your cover letter that you are specifically looking to relocate to the Toronto area.

        1. hermit crab*

          Yes, this! To me, someone who says they are planning to move to the area around X date is basically the same as someone who’s already local, assuming of course that X date is within our timeframe for the start of the position. It helps keep the emphasis on the job (“I’d rock at this job, and by the way location’s not a problem”) rather than the location (“I really want to move here, so maybe I’ll apply for this job”).

    4. Christian Troy*

      I’ve been doing the long distance job search for about a year and a half. I think how much success you have depends a lot on your industry, your qualifications and the job. I have found my experiences incredibly mixed because there are people who are willing to Skype and talk about what it realistically looks like for me to meet in person and other people who want nothing to do with me once I tell them I’m not moving without a job offer. If your position is really entry level, you may need to adjust your expectations that you may not get far in the process without being in Toronto. Additionally:

      -Make sure you can answer whether you would foot your own travel costs to meet in person, where would you live if offered the position, and quickly you could relocate for the position.

      -Try to do as much as you can via phone and Skype

  30. Adam*

    I’m wondering what people think of the wording of this company’s career page. I found a job posting through a job board and went to the company website to check them out. Everything sounded good, but then I came to a line that made me tilt my head sideways. Here it is paraphrased but with key words left in.

    “We see employees as making a commitment to us, and in turn our employees seeing the company as their economic life-support.”

    Now if you want to get technical that’s pretty much true as most of us can’t afford to be without jobs for any length of time, but still I had this nagging thought in the back of my head of “Who actually SAYS that?”

    On one hand you could see it as a company acknowledging and respecting how much employees rely on it for their livelihood, but the cynic in me jumped right to a less charitable interpretation of the sentence. I checked the company on Glassdoor and while there weren’t many reviews the ones that were there fell on the positive side.

    So I’m not sure what to make of it. I’m known for over thinking/making big deals out of nothing, so I wanted your opinions on it.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Personally, that seems rather sketchy to me. Economic life-support screams “we’re only barely going to pay you enough to live on, and expect you to devote all your time to us.”

      1. NotherName*

        Yeah, isn’t life support what you get to keep you technically alive, but not actually out and living life?

    2. lulu*

      I’d see it as nonsense written to fill up their website, I wouldn’t judge them positively or negatively on that alone.

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        Yeah, I’d roll my eyes and ignore it. If you pick up on other weird flags in an interview, it might be a data point, but it could also just be meaningless (and self-evident, as you say!).

    3. katamia*

      Makes me think of those factory towns decades ago where employees were paid in scrip and dependent on the company for much more than we typically are today. Which for me would be a huge turnoff, but maybe if you’re looking for a certain kind of work environment it might be okay, maybe. I don’t think I’d avoid applying to a job I really wanted at this company solely because of that statement, but I’d certainly keep my eyes open for anything else that seemed off or overly intrusive about the company.

    4. Mike C.*

      The transparency is rather refreshing. Disgusting, but refreshing.

      But yeah, that’s really weird and something you should think on. If you interview there, a good question to ask is, “what is meant by this” in terms of company culture.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t read it as saying “we pay little and want our employees dependent on us,” but rather as a really badly worded attempt at a version of “we’re all a big family here and we commit to each do our part.” But terrible, terrible wording.

      1. Adam*

        That is kinda what I was hoping it meant. It’s a private firm and not communications oriented so I could understand it being just an awkward phrasing, but reading it was like screeching to a halt because of an unexpected stop sign.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think it’s sketchy but possibly just poorly written; I’d apply anyway, but do a lot of research on Glassdoor and proceed with caution.

  31. Not Karen*

    Does anyone else experience a disconnect between what you’re expected to know to be in your job vs. what you actually need to know to do your job?

    My job requires a master’s degree, but the nitty-gritty of what I learned while getting that degree isn’t needed to get my work done, which is good because I didn’t always understand it. Then I go to workshops and my coworkers start discussing said nitty-gritty in great detail and I’m totally confused. I worry that they’ll find out that I’m faking it and thus not smart enough for this job, but then why does it matter if I’m able to do a great job regardless?

    1. Terra*

      It may be something that varies from company to company or it may just be that when a bunch of people with the same degree end up in a room together they tend to end up talking about their degree work because it’s what they have in common. If you’re concerned about it you can try saying something casual like “I remember my classes for X but I never seem to use it anymore.” and see what everyone else says but honestly as long as you can do the job I wouldn’t worry about it.

    2. Accountant*

      How long have you been in your job/industry?

      I’m a CPA tax accountant. I’m in my 4th year. I had to take a ton of business and accounting classes to become a CPA, and I think I use the information that I learned in 2 of them (accounting 101 and federal taxation). I don’t use or remember anything else I learned other than on a superficial level.

      Honestly, I think that the nitty gritty is something that you learn over time when you have to know it. I am just now starting to understand the intricacies of the tax code because I’ve gotten used to using it and having to explain it to clients. I also learned that when my peer coworkers were nodding along thoughtfully in meetings that most of them had no clue what was going on either. So… I think it just takes time. If you know enough to do what you need to do right now, that’s great, and I think most of us learn new things best by doing, so maybe you’ll learn more of the nitty gritty in the future, when you need to use it.

    3. Marie*

      YES. I have a personal beef about this, and I know several people who do as well. My job requires a master’s degree too, but the degree, at least in my experience, is heavy on theory and very light on practical knowledge. I feel I’ve learned more on the job than I did in graduate school. And, I had the exact same worry as you for the longest time- I felt stupid for not getting into the theory as much as others seem to and worried I’d be discovered as a fake- until I heard those same people expressing those exact concerns. I’ve learned that Impostor Syndrome is a very common thing, and there are tons of articles on it that helped me sort of get over it. So, rest assured, you’re not alone.

  32. Ad Girl*

    Not really a question, more a vent after the thread yesterday about handling weather. Located in an atlantic state that has already gotten snow/ice and will get more over the next 24-36 hours.

    Got an email this morning that opening was delayed until 10 – roads are awful, so I figured I would wait even longer than that and make a decision based on if weather was starting back up. Get an email around 10 that they have decided to close the office. Fortunately I didn’t leave my apartment, but I have multiple coworkers that commute 30-45 minutes a day and were almost to the office when they got that email! Ugh. Feeling bad for them and wishing it had been handled better.

    1. CheeryO*

      We had a similar situation last winter – there was a blizzard overnight, and the plows hadn’t been able to get the roads cleared in time for the morning commute. My work announced an 11:00 start at around 8:00, after some people had already made it to work only to find the building locked. To make things worse, they used some kind of phone tree system for alerting people, and none of the newer employees were notified. Makes me glad that I decided to use a PTO day first thing that day, even though I lost a few “free” hours.

      1. MsChandandlerBong*

        Ugh…something similar happened to me last year. I serve as a volunteer judge for a series of competitive events at the high school/college level. I always have to take a day off work and make the drive out (one hour each way for the district event, two hours each way for states), but I love doing it. The forecast called for snow on the day of the last district event, so they told us to watch the news for school delays/closings. To get there on time, I had to leave my house by 7 a.m. I watched right up until 7:00, and there was no announcement, so I made the trek out there. I pulled into the parking lot, which was covered with snow, and found the building locked. They didn’t announce the cancellation until 7:58 a.m. I was almost there by then! So I had to drive home in the snow and then turn around and drive back again the next day for the rescheduled event.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      At a job a few years ago, my city went through a natural disaster and the office was closed. My director decided he wanted us all to drive to his house (on the other side of the city from me) for a team meeting as emergency workers were telling people to stay off the roads. Everyone else went, but I refused. I actually got push back from my manager, but I put my foot down. For a company that preached safety, I couldn’t believe we were asked to do this. Anyway, I skyped in to the meeting which lasted all of 30min and was pretty useless. We were a non-critical department, and a week of working from home wouldn’t affect us at all.

      Basically, what I’m trying to say is in that moment, I decided to make my own decisions for going in to work in extreme condition. If I don’t think it’s safe, I don’t care if my office is open or not because I’m not going in. I value my own life too much, and refuse to condone crazy.

  33. quietone*

    Trying to stay positive when all signs point to being ushered out the door once a project is finished.

      1. quietone*

        Thanks. Its never a good sign when they say “but you shouldn’t worry about your job” I don’t think!

  34. Allison*

    Things have possibly gotten worse with my problem coworker. I mentioned here, months ago, that she told me another coworker had a crush on me (which I’d already suspected), and I told her I wasn’t into him and wasn’t interested in dating coworkers in general, but when he approached me later she gave me a knowing smile and walked away to give us some privacy.

    Fast forward to last week, I had to miss a company event due to car issues, but after the event concluded the guy sent me a friend request on FB, and when I did get to the office this week my coworker said “we missed you at the paaaaarty!” in that suggestive tone that usually comes with an eyebrow waggle or something.

    It seems evident that she wants to see us get together, despite me telling her I wasn’t into it, and I suspect she may even be giving him some encouragement to “go for it.” I really want her to drop this fantasy and stop trying to play matchmaker here, even if she does think she’s “helping,” but she hasn’t done anything blatantly inappropriate yet. Should I still talk to her about this and say “I’m not sure if I was clear, but I’m really not into this guy and I mean it” angle, or is this a concern I should bring up with our manager? Or do I need to wait for the situation to get more awkward before I can say anything?

    1. fposte*

      Talk to the guy. “Look, Jane is apparently invested in doing some matchmaking, and I’m sorry you’re caught up in it. Anything you can do to walk her back would be greatly appreciated.”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you need to tell her clearly to stop (if you haven’t already) — in a pretty stern way. Like, “Look, this is inappropriate and it’s bad for me and him professionally. I don’t find it funny, and I need you to cut it out.”

      1. Allison*

        Where’s the best place for it? We’re in an open office and I don’t want it overheard, should I put it in an e-mail or something? And this is a situation where she can very easily say “oh no I’m not doing anything! I can’t believe you’d accuse me of that!” or she’d make me out to be the bad guy by being rude when she’s only trying to help me find happiness.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Can you ask her to go get coffee with you or something like that?

          If she gets defensive, you can say, “Look, I just need (name specific behaviors) to stop. That’s it. If you can stop those, then we’re good.” If she tries to argue she’s only helping you find happiness (dear god), then you can say, “It’s not help that I want. I want my work life professional, and I need you to respect that.”

        2. Mike C.*

          She’s the one being rude and incredibly unprofessional. What is she going to do, go to your manager and complain that you don’t want her to set you up with someone you aren’t interested in? I don’t know if such actions would contribute to sexual harassment, but I would think it would make a manager or HR rather uncomfortable.

          1. Allison*

            The worst part is, we work in HR! So we really shouldn’t be dating other people working here, even if we were interested in them. Maybe she’s hoping I’ll fall in love with him and then leave so I can be with him.

        3. fposte*

          And to expand on what other people are saying, it’s okay for her to say she’s not doing anything or whatever *as long as she stops the behavior*. The goal for the conversation is for you to convey that it needs to stop, and once you’ve done that, you don’t need to hear her out or accept her reasons why you should.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Her: “oh no I’m not doing anything! I can’t believe you’d accuse me of that!”
          You: “Good then you will have no problem doing a full stop right now. If you are not doing anything, then that means all this talk about Bob ends right now.”

          or she’d make me out to be the bad guy by being rude when she’s only trying to help me find happiness.
          You: “You are talking to a fellow adult. We are not here to find each other’s happiness in life. We are here to do a job. I am asking you to stop. It is rude of you to continue since I have asked you to stop.”

          Really, its a huge show of disrespect on her part for oh-so-many reasons. Honestly, I would never consider a person like this a friend of mine. Because my friends understand me for the most part. If I am saying NO and they do not understand then they at least respect my NO. She is not even doing the baseline of respecting your NO.

          I’d tell her that if she does it one more time, I will be filing a complaint.

  35. Cotton Eyed Joe*

    Hi, could someone offer their input on an issue I may encounter. I’m in the process of applying for a job that is more in line with what I want to do and is suited to someone with my (limited) experience in the field. However, I have just started a course that my current employer has agreed to pay for and can take a few months to complete. Ideally I was going to wait a few months after completing this course before looking for a new job but I don’t want to miss this opportunity? Any advice or experience on how to handle this?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      One course? I’d apply for the job and plan to pay back your employer for the course or pay for it yourself. If you don’t think the new job is enough of a better opportunity to take on the cost of the course yourself, then it’s probably not that great of an opportunity anyway.

      My advice would be different if you were in the final course of a 2-year program, and quitting would require you to pay back $30,000 or something.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you should just apply for jobs and see what happens. That said, even though legally you can get away with taking the course and then leaving right afterwards, it’s kind of ethically sketchy to plan on doing so in advance. Your employer isn’t paying for that course primarily for your own personal enrichment. Your employer is paying for that course primarily so your organization/company/school can reap some of the benefits of your professional development… your own personal enrichment is just a by-product.

  36. I am now a llama*

    I’m looking to transition out of sales and want to leverage the fact that I get a lot of recruiters reaching out to me. I’m looking to explore a few different options career-wise to use the skills I’ve learned through sales.

    The recruiters usually offer sales positions since that’s what I do now but how do I ask if they have other positions without seeming like I don’t know what I want to do?

    1. CoffeeLover*

      “Thank you for reaching out to me with this opportunity. At this point in my career, I’m looking to transition out of sales and focus more on X, Y, Z, and would love to hear from you if you have other suitable positions.”
      Something like that? I’m not sure why you’re worried you’ll sound like you don’t know what you want. People change careers all the time. You just need to articulate what kind of work you’re looking to move in to.

      If you’re open about your job search, you can write it in your headline “Sales Manager, seeking position in X”.

  37. anon today*

    Does anyone have any advice on managing fertility treatments and work? I’m looking into trying a round of treatments, which would include a decent number of appointments and tests, but for something that may not actually succeed. I’m generally pretty open about what I’m doing with my time off, so I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m job hunting when I’m not, but also I wouldn’t want to share this kind of thing at work, either.

    Related follow-up, if you have gone through something like this, did you take into account your workload and projects when scheduling the treatments? We’re coming up on a busy season and part of me says “there’s never a perfect time for a baby, just start when you want” and the other part says “adding stress to a risky pregnancy isn’t good for anyone.” Any thoughts are appreciated.

    1. quietone*

      We went through a year of increasingly invasive fertility treatments and I would say:
      *See if you can set up the appointments for a set time and build it into your routine if possible. I’m extremely private so if I was in an office I’d probably say it was a new gym class or something (I work from home so I had more flexibility).
      *Expect LOTS of blood tests. I ended up refusing to use the nurse at the clinic and went to a lab because the nurse had trouble finding veins and it got painful.
      *We did one egg transfer just before my quarter end finished and the successful one at a much less stressful time (it was also frozen vs right after harvest – theres research on that showing better rates for frozen )
      * Acupuncture is highly recommended for stress relief – personally I couldn’t handle any more needles so I did a weekly massage.
      * It can be a long process depending on your status etc

    2. daydreamer*

      We didn’t take into account workload or projects when we started our treatments. It depended on when I was physically ready according to the doctors. There truly is no perfect time for a pregnancy or baby.
      In terms of managing treatments with work, we were lucky that bloodwork during treatment was scheduled early in the morning (7:30 or so), so it wasn’t often I was late. But bloodwork for me was every 2 days, and my medicated cycle was longer than some others I knew (15 days vs 8ish). We also had regular counseling appointments, and those we couldn’t schedule outside work hours.
      Look after you through all of this. Yoga, meditation, even acupuncture (not as bad as it sounds even while getting injections) helped me through it, as did counseling with someone who specializes in infertility.
      Good luck.

    3. TL -*

      Even if you’re usually pretty open, I imagine saying something like “I have some necessary but non-emergent medical procedures going on, which is why I’ve been out so much.” with a cheerful smile would let people know you’re okay but not wanting to talk about it.
      Good luck!

    4. Now a mommy*

      The best fertility treatment I took was a long multi week holiday to multiple tropical islands. It cost pretty much the same as friends of ours fertility treatments. I scheduled it is I would be ovulating in the middle of it and we come back prego. We didn’t even think about trying and concentrated on relaxing and having fun. 0

      1. daydreamer*

        Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a tropical vacation lead to pregnancy. Please don’t make light of the challenges some women face when trying to conceive.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I didn’t read that comment as making fun of other people’s challenges, just sharing her experience. I absolutely get that this can be a really sensitive topic and understand why this kind of comment in particular can be infuriating when that advice is far from helpful for you and misses the point of what your challenges have been, but it’s tough for people to get snapped at for just sharing their own experiences.

          That said, @now-a-mommy, that kind of comment can be really hard to hear, because it can come across as “just relax and it’ll happen,” which is very much not the case for some people.

          1. daydreamer*

            My apologies – my tone wasn’t meant to be snapping. :( More a comment out of concern for the OP who has to go through a very challenging process.

          2. quietone*

            If you’re looking at fertility treatments you’ve probably already tried the “just relax” route.

      2. LibbyG*

        Your story is a hoot, but it made me wince, because couples struggling with infertility always hear “Just relaaaaaxx and it’ll happen!” That’s totally not how it works, and it’s absolutely maddening when people say that. Been there. Spent six years there.

        Best of luck, Anon Today! My clinic, like daydreamer’s, had a lot of early morning/late afternoon hours for appointments. Hopefully it’ll be a non issue.

        My work is more steady-burn than a high stress/low stress pattern, but the whole process can be so damned long that I’d be really reluctant to try to adapt it to my work-life. There’s a lot to be said for prioritizing family-building.

        1. LibbyG*

          Oops – should have refreshed before I posted. Not piling on! It got wearisome to hear “just relax,” but I definitely got some rather comical suggestions for making the relaxing happen. One more suggestion:; portal to a vibrant blogging community of (mostly) who are dealing with this kind of thing.

    5. Luna*

      First time commenting on the site,although I am an avid reader, but I just had to chime in. I went through treatments during work twice– 2 IVF cycles (one successful) and then a successful frozen embryo transplant. Do not try to plan it around your work schedule. Unless you are under an incredible amount of stress during your busy season, there is never an optimal time to do this. It may take longer than you think or succeed the first time. The only caveat would be that, at least with IVF, there are some very precisely timed injections and appointments needed, and if you don’t have a sufficiently flexible work schedule, you could miss your window of opportunity for a month.

      I don’t want to derail, or to pile on about the “just relax” comment but I know that is one of the hardest things to hear. My dentist, who I had been seeing for many years, said something along those lines and I never went back to her again. People who have not been through this can have a hard time understanding how this feels.

      1. anon today*

        Thanks for all the advice! It helps to know that there are others who’ve been through this. I’ll definitely look into that blogging community for more.

        The “just relax” advice doesn’t bother me as much as it would many others as my problems are directly related to medical treatments I had when I was younger – I don’t think I’ve been capable of doing anything the natural way since I was 17 (and really not interested in being a mother yet). But thanks for looking out for each other, AAMers!

    6. Honeybee*

      I donated my eggs a couple of years ago, so I was on fertility treatments for a couple of weeks – obviously not exactly the same thing, but I do have a little insight.

      I did mention to my manager at the time that I was going through a medical procedure that 1) required lots of medical appointments, 2) made it difficult for me to walk and 3) that might affect my health in unexpected ways, but that wasn’t serious or life-threatening. I didn’t want to share my personal business, but I warned him because my gait and carriage was significantly different* and I wanted him to be aware. Also, it ended up being a good thing I mentioned it to him, because my…moods were significantly affected, too. However, I felt comfortable talking to him and knew that he wouldn’t probe.

      I did take my workload sort of into account but not really – there was not much I could do about that. I of course had to be on the same schedule as the recipients to sync up. One thing I will say is that fertility clinics seem to be quite used to dealing with a lot of employed clients, so they sometimes run their operations at odd hours to accommodate that. I had to show up every morning between 7 and 8 am for the injections, which worked out really well for my work schedule. There was no waiting as I was expected, and the entire appointment on those mornings usually took 10-15 minutes (it was longer if they needed to do an ultrasound or needed blood, which was fairly often – every couple days). I only had one precisely timed injection, and I had to give that to myself, so I could do it at home in the evening. The only thing I actually had to take off for was the procedure itself and the day after.

      *At risk of TMI, the best that I can describe it is that as I hyper-ovulated it was as if I could FEEL my ovaries inside my body. And they were heavy and tender and sore. And also I was getting the injections into alternating thighs every morning, and those suckers hurt. So I walked much more slowly and sort of…not really a limp, but kind of? It was relatively obvious so I had to say something about it before I got asked. Also, my moods were all over the place. I remember a week in which I cycled through just about every mood state there was…but the extremes. I wasn’t just happy, I was deliriously elated! I wasn’t just irrationally cranky, I was irrationally murderously angry!

  38. RoseRed*

    I recently got out of my increasingly-toxic workplace and start my new job (complete with about a 50% raise and a very supportive team) next week! Just wanted to come on and celebrate. :-)

    Now my only issue is trying to balance my mixed feelings about OldJob. They’re leaching staff like crazy, both before and after I left, and on the one hand I feel like they made their bed and now have to lie in it (because they treated me and many other people so badly)– but on the other hand I did love the job itself and would never want the people who are still there to go through that kind of instability, when I could see that everyone who wasn’t making the policies was doing the best they could. I feel guilty for being happy that their unacceptable management is having consequences, and for being happy that I got out with my reputation intact.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I had guilt leaving people behind at my last job. But then an adviser reminded me that they are in control of their own lives and can leave the same way I did. They would make that decision if they wanted to and they are choosing to stay.

      1. TootsNYC*

        yeah, in a way it’s disrespectful of them and their agency to feel guilty, as if these other grown adults are your responsibility.

    2. Jennifer*

      If I get the job I’m applying for, I’ll feel the same way. Heck, I kind of do already. They are DROWNING and I will only be making it worse…but at the same time they are making life really hellish.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You have this set up so you can’t win. Look at it this way, if your new job was the same or worse than your old job, none of these thoughts would be skipping through you head. Let you up for air.
      Many times rotten people unravel themselves. And unfortunately good people get caught up in their chaos. If there is something you can do for any of the good people, then go for it. Try to help in small ways. Then separately, realize that the folks up to no good eventually shoot themselves in their own foot.
      You escaped. Focus on what you did right and what you would do differently if caught in a similar trap again. Yes, give the situation a little autopsy. Try to see what hidden lessons are there. And enjoy your new job, congrats.

    4. NicoleK*

      It’s normal to be conflicted about old job (even if it was a toxic environment). I felt and still feel conflicted and guilty about leaving (unfinished projects, leaving my team, leaving great coworkers behind, and etc). Once in a while, I still have to remind myself. At the end of the day, I did what was best for me. My former colleagues and direct reports are all adults and are responsible for their own choices. Everyone has a different tolerance for toxicity. People will leave when they’re no longer able to tolerate the toxicity.

  39. Maria the Librarian*

    Is a thank-you note or e-mail a good idea when given a gift by a co-worker for above-and-beyond assistance? I did give a verbal thank you when given the box of chocolates, movie theater gift card, and, best of all, note of appreciation yesterday morning, but I don’t know if that’s enough.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t want you to get into a gratitude arms race, but that sounds like a pretty generous gift, and I’d do a written thank you in response as well.

    2. Alison with one L*

      I’d err on the side of an email rather than a written note to thank someone for a thank-you gift. Something about how you went to see XYZ movie and it was great or how tasty the chocolates were.

    3. Not A Bug*

      I’ve only ever thanked verbally for a recognition gift like that, it feels a little more personal to me that way. And it doesn’t make a big deal out of it either. If it was someone I had on our IM list I’d probably do it that way instead.

  40. Trixie*

    Long-term unemployed/underemployed here, with drought about to end. It’s non-exempt but the pay is decent considering the drought on my resume, and in a university setting which has been a goal all along.

    My last FT position was in 2011. FIVE YEARS. Began PT position in 2014, with another PT gig in 2015. Some volunteering for networking/activity on resume, more PT work. Friend I met though PT position kept me in mind for couple things in his company/dept but they didn’t pan out. He kept me mind a third time for temp gig in Dec, which was renewed for Jan. Temp gig was opened to perm position which will be decided next week, and all indications are positive at this point. This would not have happened if I had jsut applied because I’ve applied for other things here before and no luck. This was definitely a fortunately situation of who you know.

    Through one of my volunteer thinks I met a woman who recently transplanted to area I’m looking to move to myself instate. She also got her position on campus through temp work, and recently mentioned they were looking for additional temp workers in the near future. So that would have been a networking lead as well, and one I will explore in the future.

    Long story short, networking did work in this example. Sometimes it’s a connection through volunteering who can provide a good referral or someone who’s in a position to make it happen. Hopefully, I can pay it forward for someone else.

    1. Trixie*

      Medical benefits available in 30 days. But retirement matching, eligible in two years. Ouch. Bring on the IRA.

  41. i hope this isn't legal*

    Hi! Quick “is this legal” question that I think I know the answer to.

    Work in a hotel. Our owner is tired of paying payroll processing fees for people who don’t have direct deposit. He wants to charge anyone not enrolled in DD $50 a paycheck for the fees (which I’m fairly certain are not $50/paycheck). These are often minimum wage workers (housekeepers, kitchen staff) for whom $50 /check would be a serious problem. This can’t be legal, right?

    Regular reader but I think I’ll go anon here because paranoid :D

    1. KR*

      I’m no lawyer but that doesn’t sound right. That sucks that he doesn’t want to pay processing fees but it’s part of doing business.
      Maybe instead of charging everyone a fee he could offer an incentive to get direct deposit? Our finance department always brings up how you get your payroll the day it goes through instead of having to wait for the mail or to go to the bank. He could offer a gift card, an extra floating day off, or something like that if people get direct deposit.

      1. Anon T*

        That’s not going to help with employees who don’t have bank accounts and have to go to check cashing places (which already take a chunk out of the check).

    2. fposte*

      I’m finding one site (payroll company Paycor) that says, “Employers aren’t allowed to charge employees fees based on payment method” but it doesn’t identify the law it’s getting that from.

      I also think state will help here–some of them have a lot clearer prohibitions. Obviously there’s the disparate impact problem, as you imply, but it would be easier just to find a straight out “Hell, no,” and if you mention the state, that may make finding that easier.

        1. fposte*

          I’m not seeing an explicit “hell, no,” but given that Illinois just passed a law cracking down on fees on payroll cards because of how bad it is to charge low-wage people money to get their pay, I’m thinking your boss would be legally doomed.

          I once called the state DOL (in Illinois) and got a human quickly, and she was prepared to answer my question without knowing who I was or who my employer was. Might be worth giving them a call just to see if you want to vaguely cite the DOL when talking to your employer.

    3. Mike C.*

      Is the issue here that a lot of those folks are, for various reasons, unable to get a bank account?

      I have heard of places requiring DD, but I’ve never heard of a fee to deal with it. And frankly, $50/paycheck sounds absolutely insane – how can this be even close to the cost of issuing a paycheck?

      1. Lia*

        My mom nearly got fired from a job a few years ago because she held out on doing direct deposit. She had a bank account, just wanted a paper check instead to take to her bank herself to cash, then put manually into 3 separate accounts (Mom is more than a bit of a luddite). Apparently, issuing just one paper check each payroll out of ~300 employees meant a not-insignificant amount of extra work for the employer in terms of time and software, and they finally told her either she could get direct deposit or start looking for another job.

      2. AVP*

        I can’t imagine it is; I’m seeing it more as a penalty intended to force everyone to sign up for DD.

        I think my payroll processing place charges like $2 for a check, which includes the postage to mail it.

    4. jhhj*

      It’s not legal here (in Quebec), but the processing fees for it were actually very high — we had to get the cheque couriered to us and then you need to hand deliver it, etc. It’s a huge pain, and given that it was just that the guy kept forgetting to give his info and not that he didn’t have a bank, I was irritated. (Also a pain: dealing with wage garnishments.) If we had more, the processing fees per cheque would be lower, because a lot was the courier fee.

      So I get the irritation and desire to say “fine, if you want to do it that way, you pay for it”, but it’s possibly not legal, and definitely not ethical.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      It seems like I read something recently about a place that only provided pay as direct deposit or would put it on a card. No checks. Putting it on a card took care of people who didn’t have bank accounts. That doesn’t answer your question, but it might be something for your employer to consider. On the other hand, are cards any cheaper than a check? Probably not.

      1. ThatGirl*

        That’s how my job is now – DD is the standard, a payment card is your only other option. The payment cards come with some fees to use (not $50 just to issue it, though).

      2. Nanc*

        Cards are cheaper than checks because it’s a re-loadable VISA or MC (at least in my area) which can be done electronically. The downside is if the card is lost or stolen the employee is going to lose the $$ on the card.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, I think so. I think it’s because they made employees get the card and got some sort of kickback from the (totally unscrupulous and very predatory) card company.

    6. AnotherFed*

      Charging a fee for checks sounds like it’s a no-go, but I think employers are allowed to require DD. Whether that’s something they would be able to enforce and still find candidates for those positions is another story, though.

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      I’m shocked. I process payroll for other small employers and I can’t imagine OUR company (my employer) or our third party processor (Intuit) charging extra for non-DD. I’d say 99% of my clients opt for DD, but in the rare cases a paper check is needed, I just send them the paystub and my client cuts a check to their employee. However, these are small companies so maybe it’s different?

      It can’t be legal to charge $50 per check, and as a processor, I can’t imagine how much work it takes.

    8. Viktoria*

      I am thinking this may not be legal. However, in many states it IS legal to only offer direct deposit. I’m going to see if I can find out about IL. (I live here too.)

    9. Viktoria*

      Update: No, employers in IL cannot require payment by direct deposit. Link to follow which includes instructions on how to make a complaint. I am very doubtful that this would be allowed, although it’s not explicitly addressed on the page I found.

      1. Honeybee*

        It doesn’t seem like it would be – I found another page that states that in IL,

        All wages and final compensation shall be paid in lawful money of the United States, by check, redeemable upon demand and without discount at a bank or other financial institution readily available to the employee, by deposit of funds in an account in a bank or other financial institution designated by the employee, or by a payroll card that meets the requirements of Section 14.5.

        I assume that the “without discount” part means you can’t charge for it?

        The payroll card option has to be completely voluntary, and the employer has to provide the employee with an itemized list of fees that are deducted from the payroll card as well as any transaction fees they might be subject to. There are also a whole list of other requirements that probably make it easier for this employer to just keep issuing the checks.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I take that back–I didn’t know about the fees. That stinks!

        Nobody, but nobody, should have to pay money to get their pay. Paying is the responsibility of the employer, and all its costs should be borne by the company.

        Leviticus 19 has something to say about this, as does 1 Timothy 5 and Luke somewhere (“the laborer is worthy of his wages”) if someone is ever looking for old-world-values input.

  42. Confuddled Newbie*


    I have just started a new role which I know I could do great it, but I am not used to the culture yet – and to be honest it has come close to breaking me this week (queue violins)…

    The problem is I have come from a very laid back firm in an externally competitive industry – but internally they just went with the flow. But, the industry I am in now, it is very competitive among younger members of staff – particularly women.

    I’ll admit, as the newbie I want everybody to like me and respect my abilities. The problem is – I am incredibly young, look around about 16 and have done well in my field and have come in at a standalone HR manager position. So when most of the women in the office that are my age (early to mid/late 20s) are very catty I haven’t been able to deal with it well (at work – stoic, at home – hysterical).

    It is a role mixed with office management and HR but I do not want to be seen as the office junior and am looking to strategy directors as role models as to how to behave in order to progress in the industry. They do not eat lunch with the other staff in the kitchen area, are friendly and decisive but do not really mix – which works for me as I am happy hiding in my corner at the moment anyway but I feel really awkward.

    Has anybody else been through this? Do I just suck it up and accept that’s the way it is; or is there a better way?

      1. afiendishthingy*

        I’ve had a noticeable gray streak (natural) since age 28 yet still got mistaken for a student when I worked at a MIDDLE SCHOOL. From ages 28 – 30. On MULTIPLE occasions.

    1. HRPro*

      As an HR person you already know that it won’t serve you well to be friends with your coworkers. Friendly, yes, but not friends. So do a little soul-searching to make sure you aren’t expecting to make friends with people — for example, that you aren’t expecting people who will invite you out to lunch with them. Be sure to plan evening and weekend activities with your good friends (not new coworkers) and your family to get doses of the warm fuzzies from them.

      I think that for a new HR person there’s a little more standoffishness from the existing employees than there would be for a different kind of new person. They don’t know which type of HR person you’ll be — will you be a rule-enforcing tyrant, very uptight and unwilling to compromise? Or will you be smart, eager to make contributions, and then make contributions that are helpful/beneficial/positive? They don’t know. I think many people assume that new HR people are going to be the rule-enforcing tyrant type. I always appreciated the people who gave me the benefit of the doubt and assumed I was smart and capable (but I knew I had to display that, too).

      Also, do you know what reputation the previous HR person had at the company? If they were seen as incompetent or tyrannical, then the coworkers might be projecting that onto you.

      Just focus on getting to know the company, your job, and the people. And focus on being an observer of people. Remember to try to reserve judgment until you’ve had several interactions with someone or spent a lot of time with them. In the meantime, observe. Who seems to have power in the company? Who seems stuck in old ways? Why does Matilda always call you instead of email? Why do people go to Wakeen whenever they have a question about your job? Why does Wakeen always leave early – is he an early bird by nature and arrives at 6 a.m., or does he have kids to pick up from school, or does he just get away with murder by sneaking out early? Observe stuff like that without taking anything personally.

  43. Helen*

    I switched careers about 5 years ago. I still kept up with the industry. Now I want to go back. All my experience and references are from 10 years ago and I don’t have any from the new career. (References. ) I know it looks like I am flip floppy and will switch careers again. Anyone have a similar experience?

    I don’t have children or sick relatives so I can’t say that’s why I haven’t worked in the industry for awhile.

    1. Alison with one L*

      Not a similar experience, but I don’t think it sounds like flip-flopping. I actually think it sounds like you tried something new for a few years and realized that you prefer the original industry, which is why you’re going back. To me, it has the connotation that you’re invested in this new job more than ever.

  44. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    I was asked to apply for a promotion over a month ago when my boss left our team for a new role. I did so and have heard nothing. I’ve not been rejected, yet I know my VP is interviewing candidates.

    I’m hoping I got a bye through the initial rounds since I’m on the team already, and since I work with the VP directly, I’m taking the opportunity to SHOW what I can do vs. wait to tell him what I do.

    Recently, I learned that another round of redundancy review will happen to review open positions and potentially collapse or eliminate them.

    Right now, I’m looking at three possibilities – 1) getting the job, 2) not getting the job, and 3) we get rolled into another group and the job goes away entirely.

    For now, I’m focused on managing my program, pitching in on my former boss’s work, and trying not to worry about what’s going on with the job. It’s just kind of weird when I’m asked what I’ve heard and have to confess I have no idea what’s happening. Even my former boss is flummoxed. Normally, I would ask my VP about the ambiguity, but since I have my hat in the ring it seems inappropriate to do so.

    Any thoughts on finding out more info, or shall I continue kicking ass and waiting for news?

    1. Graciosa*

      Since the information you want is either information about your status *compared to other candidates* in the hiring process (never an appropriate question), or highly confidential information about reorg plans that may result in layoffs (never going to get an answer), your only option is to continue kicking ass and waiting for news.

  45. Mimmy*

    Second question, inspired by this morning’s short-answer post, which included a question about career counselors:

    Are career counselors of ANY use? I’ve been thinking of going to one, but they are getting such a bum rap here that it makes me hesitant. Are private counselors any worse or better than college or government career center counselors?

    One part of my quandary is that I’ve used Voc Rehab off-and-on over the years, but 1) I think they’re more focused on those who know exactly what they want to do and just need the job search help, and 2) even the private agencies they contract out to don’t always offer the best advice. I just got a call about a week ago from a supervisor of my most recent counselor because my case has been in limbo due to lack of contact. (this woman had NOTHING in my file beyond her intro letter even though we met a couple of times!). I told myself I’d never use VR again, but……

    I just don’t want to waste their time and resources when they could be used towards someone with more significant needs. I just need someone to talk to who can help me untangle all of my ideas and questions. I have various lists going, but they’re useless on their own.

    Yes, I know I’ve asked a gazillion questions here and I appreciate all the advice! Truly I do <3 ! I'm just ready for some face-to-face time with someone who has the time and patience to listen to my word vomit, LOL!!

    1. Jennifer*

      In my experience, career counselors are good for helping you rewrite your resume and cover letter and maybe give you interview practice help. Other than that, they really can’t help you if you don’t already have a plan and a goal and already know what you want out of them. If you just need someone to help you untangle your ideas and questions…god, useless. Don’t waste your time. You are the only person who can really figure out what you want in a career, they really can’t do it for you.

      1. Mimmy*

        Oh I’m not looking for them to give me the “magic” answer. I just have a habit of thinking I’ve figured things out only to second-guess myself. Before I was in “analysis paralysis”; now I’m in “yes, but…” paralysis. lol.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I worked with a career coach a few years ago – I knew I wanted to get off the administrative assistant track but wasn’t sure what would be a good fit – and she was AMAZING at helping with career field research. She suggested resources I had never heard of that were really helpful. Then once I narrowed it down, she helped me reframe my work experience to more closely align with my desired career path.

      I think most private career coaches/counselors will give you an initial consultation for free (I don’t think I’d work with one who didn’t) – I’d use that time to get a sense of whether their philosophies on job searching align with yours or if they fall into the overly pushy bad advice type.

    3. Honeybee*

      If you attended college, you might want to investigate whether your college/university’s career center provides career services to alumni. Mine does (free of additional charge, and for life), and the services are pretty extensive – they will chat with you via phone or Skype to help you identify your work goals/priorities or decide to change careers, review your resume, edit your cover letter, etc. And I’d say that mine is particularly good at helping you figure out what you want to do – they kind of specialize in that. Which I guess makes sense since they mostly serve students.

      1. Mimmy*

        Free of additional charge and for life?? LUCKY! The school I got my MSW offers very little in the way of career services to alumni. They used to have workshops and a job club, but those all went away. Plus, if you want to see one of the career counselors, even for assessments, you do pay beginning 6 months after graduation. By the time you are 5 years post-graduation, the fee is $100! Probably because it’s a large state university.

  46. RKB*

    This is weird, but I’m fairly (read: 90%) sure my racist coworker is sabotaging forms that belong to a certain ethnic group.

    She’s been in this position for 30 years, so it’s not ineptitude. We work in an area with a concentrated amount of this ethnicity, and I am also one of them (that’s why I was hired: I speak three related languages.)

    She’s made several comments about her dislike for “the people of this area.” She totally snubbed anyone nonwhite at Christmas, to the point of bringing them to the back to show them the cookies she brought for them. She’s very condescending towards all of us who are that ethnicity at our workplace.

    Which was fine because I’m a brown woman living in a post 9/11 world — this is NOT unusual for me. I was totally willing to brush it off.

    I work for the municipal government recreational centres and we offer a low income pass so people can enjoy our facilities for free. The process has a lot of paperwork but we are all well versed in it. Lately, people have been bringing back forms done totally wrong. Information missing or outright ignored, photocopying done wrong, etc.

    Whenever I ask who they sat with to do the form, it’s that coworker. They don’t know her name but describe her to a T. I verify against our schedule to make sure.

    I’ve gotten 5 families with this issue, all my ethnicity. But I’ve looked in our outgoing mail and seen that other families have done their forms perfectly, all signed and verified by her (she didn’t sign or verify the other ones.)

    I’m at a loss. It’s a huge accusation, especially against someone as senior as her. And really, what proof do I have? But sabotaging our patrons seems like a step too far. It’s the city. We all live here. This isn’t a private organization.

    … Novel over. Thoughts?

    1. Nom d' Pixel*

      I think this is definitely something that should be brought to your boss’s attention. If you are uncomfortable saying that it is an ethnic thing (because for some reason people don’t like to believe accusations coming from someone who directly experiences the problem) you could present it as a general competency issue. Let your boss know that Cersei is making a lot of mistakes, and show him the documentation. Let him draw conclusions from looking at the names. Also, if she gets weird around Easter, say something immediately. The longer you wait to speak up, the less believable it seems.

      1. Anon T*

        Agreed, definitely bring this to the higher-ups. Don’t get into the Christmas cookie stuff, obviously, but “This could be seen as a racial bias on our part” is an important thing to add.

        1. KathyGeiss*

          I like that wording. It doesn’t presuppose intent but focuses on why this is a problem even if it’s innocent mistake (although, come on!). “I don’t want to pre-suppose her intent but this could be perceived as racial bias”

          1. RKB*

            See, that’s what I wonder too. Because it’s really easy to dismiss it as issues with language and communication, especially as we often get new immigrants… One of the families was a refugee family.

            But if I add in what happened at Christmas, it gives context. My supervisor is from the Philipinnes and she didn’t get a card or cookies either, and she confirmed with me that I didn’t, nor did a few others. So she knows, at least.

      2. Ad Astra*

        I like this idea. It sounds like there are enough serious mistakes here to bring it up with management even without an accusation of racism or sabotage. You can even point out that it looks like racial bias, or even just say that it seems to be impacting this group significantly, which could prompt him to look into it. Disparate impact like this would be a problem even if there was no ill intent.

        It always helps to come with possible solutions, if you have any. Would it make sense to refer more of these families to you? Or is there a change to the process that could make it harder for these “mistakes” to occur?

        1. RKB*

          I only work two days a week :( and only in the evenings. I get most of them, because we can bypass the language barrier, but obviously I can’t get all. The other people of my ethnicity who work there usually only work evenings or weekends, too.

          I can try and think of ways to make it harder for this to happen. Maybe I’ll enlist a few coworkers.

    2. Dawn*

      You work for the government! Absolutely talk about this with your supervisor. This is 110% wrong, wrong, wrong, and would be regardless of if it was a private or public employer and not the government.

    3. Mike C.*

      I think you need to document the hell out of these situations, both with your coworkers and with clients. Time, date, witnesses and what happened. If after writing this all down you feel like there is still an issue (it’s likely worse than you imagine I’ll wager) bring it to your boss.

    4. Sunshine Brite*

      How good of a relationship do you have with your boss? My current boss I’d be able to tell her that I’m noticing a disturbing pattern like that but previous ones notsomuch.

      Also, I know where I work, there’s a whistleblower type line where you could call with suspected misconduct that’s a little more confidential where HR would look into things. Do you have anything like that? If the boss isn’t an option, I’d consider HR

      1. RKB*

        I have great relationships with all three of my supervisors. Anyone above me is out of my line of contact (I don’t even know the hierarchy.)

        When the first two forms came back I actually took them to my team lead and asked him to send out emails reiterating the importance of filling out these forms properly (they take a month to process, so if they get sent back to be redone it’s another month…)

        Which he did. Then I got three more families. I emailed the main office for all five to apologize and to explain it was the fault of our staff so they could hopefully expedite it. Documented paper trail, I guess.

    5. Chriama*

      Do you have a corporate ethics line? I think this is the time to make an anonymous complaint to them. This is huge, but if things don’t go well with reporting it to your boss you might be at risk of retaliation with no protection. At the very least, can you document this information? Some sort of factual evidence that you can bring up to an external ethics board if it comes to that?

  47. Nom d' Pixel*

    I live in an area that is supposed to get about 2′ of snow tonight and tomorrow, so I was planning on leaving work as soon as the snow started. I just heard we are being dismissed at 2 PM. Yay! It isn’t normal for the higher ups to send everyone home because of weather. I think this is the first time it has happened, and I have been working here for over a decade. Usually, the biggest concession is to suspend the dress code when it snows.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Depends on what they’re doing, but in general I’d recommend responding to bossiness about tasks: “Oh, Tyrion (your actual boss) told me to do X; if you really need help with Y we should bring it up with him, maybe he can find someone to help you, but for now I need to devote my time to X.”

      1. Dawn*

        This this this. Name drop your boss into EVERYTHING. “Tyrion said X, so I will be doing X unless I hear differently from him/ Oh Procedure 27? Tyrion explained in this email that I have right here that it is to be done in ABCD order so that’s how I will be doing it unless I hear differently/ Hm, that contradicts what Tyrion said last week, I will be doing it the way he said until I hear differently from him/ Sasha, if this is something that has changed, I need to hear it directly from Tyrion/ Sasha, my priorities have been set by Tyrion, please speak with him if you think I need to focus on this particular project in a faster timeline.” One of two things will happen- you’ll get confirmation from Tyrion that you do need to help Sasha with whatever, OR, most likely, Sasha will go away and realize you’re not going to be strong-armed into anything.

    2. Ismis*

      Yes!!! Alice would say things like “Mary says that X is a high priority so you need to do it” and I would say “Oh – ok. Mary told me that I needed to work on Y so I will just check and see what I need to do first”, while already walking toward’s Mary’s desk. It was fun :)

  48. Devil's Avocado*

    PSA: Listen to Alison’s advice on cover letters and resumes.

    I reviewed about 80 resumes this week for my successor, and 90% of them were so, so bad. They were rife with spelling errors and atrocious grammatical errors (on the first line of one, she both spelled “manager” wrong and listed a year incorrectly, ie: September 2016 – present). This is for a mid-level professional position. If I eliminated everyone who had a spelling error , I might have had 3 resumes left to review. (Many of those also listed “great attention to detail!” as a personal attribute.) 80% of them didn’t even use the same font throughout, or had formatting so terrible that it made their materials annoying to read.

    Of the 80, there were 2 that had an AAM style cover letter, and I can’t tell you how much those stuck out. They went to the top of the pile immediately, and they were truly sweet, sweet relief after reading 78 dry as crackers cover letters.

    It’s so, so interesting to see a bunch of cover letters and resumes in aggregate like that.

    1. HRPro*

      Agreed! A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them that we get lots of resumes and cover letters with typos or other problems. Now, your experience with 80-90% that are poorly done sounds even worse than my typical experience (unless I’m reading resumes for receptionists, in which case there might be 80-90% of them that are filled with mistakes).

  49. daydreamer*

    I recently had my resume reviewed by a colleague who works for a recruiting company.The feedback I was given was as follows:
    “In this section you have highlighted what you role/responsibilities are …. But not if you did them well….. How do you know you are good at this role? What are you proud of during this time? What did you accomplish?”

    My inner critic would say that I was not good in my role, but Ia little voice behind the critic reminds me that yes, I was good at what I did. From my perspective, there were some things I did well, some things I didn’t do well. Some things I was proud of, but lots of things I was frustrated and discouraged by. And it was difficult for me to determine/define whether my annual plan was successful. I did get minor results, but very minor. My supervisors provided little direction and feedback on my plan, what to focus on, what did and didn’t work from the perspective of management, and my role did not provide tangible measurables compared to other roles in the department.

    What is the best way to look back at the work I did and better define my successes? This is something I’ve been struggling with for a few years, and I know I need to come up with my own definition of “success” in my professional capacity. But I’d appreciate outside thoughts to get me started.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I think Alison suggests looking at your performance in terms of what you did compared to someone who was good at the job, but not great. What processes did you improve? What did you become the go-to person on? How did you save money or add value?

      Also, I just read someone’s resume who defined their accomplishments (in a non-financial position) in basis points – one mentioned 100 basis points. That is minor. What’s minor to you may be significant to other people.

      And finally, your resume is a marketing document. Everyone has failures and things they don’t do well! I understand how you feel, though. I have imposter syndrome and I feel like highlighting my accomplishments on my resume is disingenuous because it’s not like I get major results every single day like my resume makes me seem. Someone here once compared it to corporate photos for the workplace. You dress nice, you look nice, and maybe you look nicer than you normally do, but it’s still you.

    2. Mockingjay*

      If you don’t have a lot of tangible outputs, what about processes and planning?

      For instance, “it was difficult for me to determine/define whether my annual plan was successful.” You HAVE an annual plan. That’s a good thing.

      Frame your accomplishment as “Wrote yearly teapot lid production schedule, setting quality assurance and output milestones. Researched client needs (40 teapots) and raw production materials (clay) to set realistic milestones.” It’s up to the lid team to execute to the framework you developed. If they only produced 30 lids because the kiln broke, that doesn’t mean your plan was a bad one. The skill you are touting here is that you do your homework to assess all the parameters in developing a workable schedule.

      Concentrate on the things you are proud of and let the rest go. Even simple things such as writing a step-by-step procedure can be an accomplishment. “Wrote Lid Department SOP to standardize electronic filenaming. The SOP was adopted company-wide.”

    3. misspiggy*

      It can be useful to think about what wouldn’t have been accomplished if you weren’t there, and then list those things as your successes.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Instead of writing a resume, pretend you have to defend yourself to you boss. “You can’t tell me I don’t do anything here, Boss and here is WHY….” List off what you would tell him. This can be anything. “ran around like I was three people”. Write down whatever comes to mind. Maybe you come up with 3-5 things.
      Incubate these things. Go back on a different day and rewrite those few things in more professional terms. “Ran around like I was three people” becomes “I balanced staying on top of the supply orders for the company while managing a production line of vanilla teapots, our second most popular product.”

  50. overeducated and underemployed*

    Alison’s article earlier this week on advice for working parents really hit home, as we hit a conflict with back up care earlier this week, and I’m curious how those of you with kids work it out.

    What happened with us: generally we figure that if the kid is sick, one of us will just stay home with him, since we both have some flexibility and have been able to take turns in the past. However, the kid was too sick for day care for six days in the last week, including three work days. One of them turned out to be a day partner had a mandatory full-day, on-site training, and I had two interviews scheduled and was afraid that rescheduling at the last minute due to a sick kid could hurt my chances of getting the jobs. A relative volunteered to take time off work and drive several hours to come help us out that day, which was INCREDIBLY generous and kind and helpful, but obviously can’t be a plan we rely on for backup care. (Our only friends in the area who are home during weekdays have young kids themselves, so we can’t say “hey, kid has a fever and is throwing up, can you watch him today?!”)

    Is there a solid way people plan for this when it’s hopefully only something that happens once or twice a year, or do we just roll the dice and hope?

    1. Alison with one L*

      I have no advice to offer, but I’m seriously concerned about this exact thing and interested in hearing responses. (Don’t have kids yet, just a super pre-planner)

    2. Nanc*

      Do you live in a metropolitan area that has sick-kids daycare? I hear it’s pricey but as a back-up plan it may be the way to go. You could put aside a certain amount somewhere to make sure the $$$ are available.

      You could also check out sites like sittercity [dot] com (full disclosure–I’ve never used them as I have no kids but I have several friends who are registered and work through them) and see if they have sitters who specialize in sick-kid care.

      I see there’s also something called nannypoppinz [dot] com that offers sick kids daycare, they’re not in every state but it might be worth checking out.

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        I’ve heard of sittercity and care dot com for occasional sitters, but am dubious about the idea of interviewing and “hiring” someone on an on-call basis when you might never call them (and when your poor sick kid would be like “who is this stranger?!”), or when they might actually be booked up during a week when there’s a virus going around. Curious whether anyone’s used them!

    3. Anne*

      We have no back-up plan for that situation. Any relatives that I would trust all day with our son work full time. Luckily he isn’t sick very often, and both of our jobs are flexible enough that someone can stay home with him. There was one week that he was running a fever from Tues-Fri (got up to 105 one night at 3 am…fun times!) and I was crazy busy at work, but fortunately my husband was able to take the time off to stay at home with him. So yeah, I’m in camp “roll the dice and hope”.

    4. J.B.*

      You might want to check on there was a recent similar post. There was advice in the comments. Some of that may be useful but at some point it boiled down to prayer. Home today with kids while other half works!

  51. Administrative Anon*

    Update from open thread a few weeks ago:

    A couple of weeks ago, I had asked for advice about determining priority among tasks and projects because my workload is higher than it has ever been and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to continue to say yes to everything (I’m an administrative assistant and generally don’t feel that saying no is ever appropriate and I’ve been able to absorb numerous projects so far without issue).

    I had planned to talk to my supervisor about prioritizing my workload and the topic actually came up pretty organically, which made the conversation a lot easier for me. It went really well. He agreed that project I had taken on last year that was supposed to be offloaded onto a new faculty member this year really is something the faculty member should be doing. He even brought up the fact that advisors of equivalent programs elsewhere do everything themselves. He gave some suggestions about how to reiterate to the advisor that he is responsible for the various tasks that are coming up and so far it seems to be going well.

    Thank you so much to everyone who responded. I’ve never had to have this type of conversation and was worried that it would come off as “I don’t want to do this” even if I laid out the facts and came up with potential solutions. In the end, it wasn’t a big deal and now I feel a lot more comfortable approaching my supervisor with this kind of stuff if needed.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think someone in your situation could flat-out say, “I don’t generally feel it’s appropriate for me to ever say no to a request, since I’m an administrative assistant. But I’m really overwhelmed, and some of these things do feel as though they should be done by someone else.”

      Also, work on the idea that it’s actually not good for the organization, or for the other person, for you to always take on every request. People learn bad habits.

  52. Alison with one L*

    Exciting news: I’m getting a promotion!

    I used advice from AAM and put together my case for why I’m more valuable to the organization. My boss agreed and started working the process to get me a raise and a promotion.
    So that was in September. He expected that he might be able to get it approved and through the system by the end of the year. I followed up with him to help him write the job description, etc.

    Well it’s the middle of January, quickly approaching the end of January. The last I heard was that it was in HR’s hands. I’m hesitant to pester my boss about it too much because he’s been having to deal with several political fires this month with upper management, so I don’t want to ask too much of him. (Even though he’s a totally great guy and would never make me feel like I’ve put too much on his plate).

    My question is: (1) When/how should I approach him again for a status update? and (2) I haven’t seen/heard a single number about HOW MUCH the raise will be, would I normally have a chance to negotiate a raise amount?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Nom d' Pixel*


      It is three weeks past when your boss said the promotion would be approved. I think it is appropriate to just ask him if he has an update on the status. It doesn’t have to be pushy, and it will only take him a minute to email HR.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right. If he does not know, then just “oh, okay, then I’ll touch base with you in a few weeks unless something happens in between.” That way he expects you to be checking back. Or he may nail down date for you.

  53. Hlyssande*

    Yay, it’s Friday!

    I moved to a new cube on Tuesday (my birthday) and I’m loving it so far. I went from in the middle of the cube farm to a row that looks straight out windows. the window is about two feet from my arm and if I look to the right of my monitors, I see a small pond out there. The two onsite IT guys sit right behind us and they’re hilarious. I have been informed that I can bribe them with baked goods.

    Also, my supervisor is due any day now, so we’re all waiting anxiously for a call or email saying she’s had the baby. We had a little baby shower for her yesterday – took a collection on our small team and the managers kicked in a little. She was surprised and pleased and it wasn’t awkward at all. I know workplace showers are usually weird and gifting up isn’t usually a good thing, but I’m still really happy with how it went. There’s a total of 7 of us on the team here and there was no pressure to put any money in.

    Of course, she’s due right around the time that our manager and his boss will both be out for around 3 weeks traveling, so things will be interesting, to say the least. Woo!

  54. the_scientist*

    The director of my department has instituted one time, one-on-one meetings with all staff to get to know us better, and get a better idea about what our day-to-day looks like and what our key projects are. I had my meeting this week, and it was really awesome. My director is quite young, and is totally kicking ass while juggling the demands of having two young kids, and frankly I’m kind of in awe of her.

    Anyway, following that meeting my manager told me that the director feels that I should be doing some professional leadership development, like management training. So that feels pretty awesome! She suggested a specific course for me; I have to wait until the summer to take it because I have a planned vacation during the winter offering so now I wait eagerly to register.

  55. Anon T*

    I mentioned a crazy interviewer last week, but I’ve been holding onto these two. Behold the two most willfully dickish prospective employer antics I’ve experienced:

    -I get a call from someone I knew in college. That job I applied for? Turns out she’s doing the hiring! She’s sounding pretty enthusiastic about my candidacy (which makes sense because she saw me Run Shit back in the day). In fact, she insists I come in that same day. Can I do tomorrow? Today would really be better. So I fancy myself up and go. She interviews me for TWO HOURS. And then that’s it, I never hear from her again. I email with a follow-up question, and she responds to that briefly. But they’re “interviewing up a storm” and will get back to me next week. Nope. Never.

    -After a phone interview, I get called for an in-person interview for a part-time job. They’ve been very disorganized, probably because they don’t have anyone in this position, so they miss my emails and forget to schedule me. So I end up interviewing the day before my wedding, whatever. When I arrive I find out there’s a skills test I hadn’t been told about. Fine (though this pushes the whole thing well over an hour so I’m late for something after, but whatever). Part of the skill test: write a rejection letter for THE JOB I’M APPLYING FOR. Intense. So I do, thinking, “At least I know that if I don’t get this job they’ll definitely tell me.” Except, you guessed it…NOT ONE WORD do I ever hear again. They couldn’t bother to copy-paste the “winning” rejection letter and let me know.

    I hate everyone.

    Heading to an interview in a few hours and could not be less enthused.

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      WOW, number two is amazing! Like, British-sitcom-level black humor.

      Good luck on your interview. Nothing like being jerked around to sap your motivation. Just remember that the place you’re interviewing now is a blank slate, if they haven’t pulled this stuff yet, they might be awesome.

      1. Anon T*

        Yeah I just strongly suspect I’m not going to get this job because they’re hoping for someone with more graphic/web design experience. We’ll see.

          1. Mirilla*

            Great on the good interview! It’s hard to stay encouraged so I’m happy for you. I’ve had a few doozies lately.
            Also I love the phrase shit shack. I see myself using that one! Thank you !

      1. Tris Prior*

        BTW, “I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot” from the “Hamilton” musical is an excellent power song to rev one up for an interview!

        1. Janice in Accounting*

          That’s actually a great song to rev one up for anything! Grocery shopping, returning library books, walking from the parking garage into the office . . .

          May you hear great news from your interview very soon. :)

  56. Suzanne*

    Can anybody shed light on why there are so many bad managers out there? I was a manager once for about a year and pretty much hated it, although everyone told me what a great job I did. I think part of the reason I hated it was because I feared being one of those horrible managers I’d had.
    For example, one manager, when I sat down with him and told him I was struggling understanding exactly what my position involved (because I can tell you, it didn’t involve any training!) which made it difficult to accomplish anything responded to me by saying, “What do you want me to do about it?” Another manager, after being on vacation, told our division that if we had emailed her about anything while she was gone, we needed to email her again because she had too many emails to read, so she just deleted them all. Another (the for-profit college that I mentioned in a comment above) refused to tell me more than a day ahead of time when the next student orientation would be held; orientation for which I was expected to participate and prepare something to present. And I was part-time (not my choice) and wasn’t there everyday, so I would have to scramble around to try to reschedule things, which was not easy if I had already worked my allotted hours for the week. Also, I was never told when staff or instructors were fired or quit or a new person was hired. I would come to work and a new person would be roaming around the building or I would email an instructor and have the email be rejected because he or she was no longer an employee.
    My daughter also has experienced this. At one job, her manager lived in the same building as the business. One day, my daughter was the first person to arrive for the day in the office…to find the manager’s bra and panties on top of the printer!

    Am I just a magnet for bad management? How can there be so many bad ones out there? Anybody have any ideas?

    1. Anon T*

      The more responsibility you give someone, the more chances they have to screw up.

      More people want power than responsibility; many of them don’t realize that a management position gives you both.

    2. fposte*

      I think this is part of the shocking grownup realization that, despite your childhood impressions, most people aren’t experts and most things aren’t planned. Most managers don’t get trained in management, and most managers have a lot of non-management obligations as well. And most people working for bad managers survive and work around it.

      I’d also differentiate one-offs or specific weaknesses from overall bad management, and system problems from individual manager weakness. You will never work for a manager with no flaws, and you will find both good and bad managers in weird systems. (We don’t notify people in our university department about who’s coming and going either, for instance, so that one doesn’t seem particularly remarkable to me.)

      1. Suzanne*

        I would not find not being informed of people quitting or being fired odd in most cases, but this was a new branch of a for-profit college with a student body of less than 100 students & a staff of about 15. So it was very, very noticeable when someone suddenly was gone.

      2. Weekday Warrior*

        +1 and especially the first sentence. And on the plus side, that realization means that if you work hard and do your best, you will be as productive and effective as most people. No need for imposter syndrome – we’re all muddling through. :)

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. They’re not hired because of their skill in managing; they’re hired because they were good (or decent) at something else (like the type of work they’re going to be supervising).

      2. They’re not trained in managing because companies don’t realize how important it is to do that. Or if they’re trained, the training focuses on the wrong things (policies and HR stuff rather than how to truly manage people effectively).

      3. Managing well is really hard, which is something people tend not to realize until they have to do it.

      1. Glasskey*

        Yep, yep, and yep. I got hired to manage a project because someone else did a lateral transfer and and I would have ended up doing all the work anyway at a lower pay grade. That was 2 years ago and I have received NO management training through my company despite requests. Zero. Zilch. My profession is known for having pretty bad management overall and I sometimes feel like I am destined to join those ranks. Damn.

    4. Creag an Tuire*

      “One day, my daughter was the first person to arrive for the day in the office…to find the manager’s bra and panties on top of the printer!”


      I hope for her sake that this was yesterday’s laundry and that the manager was, in fact, fully dressed.

      As for the rest, I think the problem is that there’s no such thing as “entry level manager”, and most managers are folks who were promoted from Senior Teapot Engineer, despite Teapot Engineering and managing being two completely different skillsets.

    5. Golden Yeti*

      I don’t know that there’s just one reason people can point to for bad managers. 3 factors come to mind for me, though:

      1-Nobody (who was a good manager) taught the newly-minted manager how to manage, so the new manager just makes it up as they go, and if they are never corrected, they assume they’re doing a good job flying by the seat of their pants.

      2-People bust their humps to get to a managerial position (which they may imagine as being “cushy”), and once they get there, they feel like they’ve reached the optimal position, and decide to take it easy from now on.

      3-If someone starts their own company and is the boss, they run things however they want (right or wrong), because it’s their company and they can. (A similar situation to #1.)

    6. MaryMary*

      Have you ever heard of the Peter Priniciple? I’ll put a link in a separate post. Basically, people are promoted to the level of their incompetence. Or, people get promoted because they’re good at their job, and they stop being promoted when they’re not good at their job. If someone is promoted to middle management and they’re not good at their job, they don’t get promoted to senior management. They stay where they are being a medicore to bad manager.

      I think the other problem is that being a good manager involves a lot of soft skills, which are difficult to teach and difficult to objectively measure for success. We’ve talked here about employee engagement surveys beng suspect, or the diffculites of giving developmental feedback to your own manager. A bad manager could still achieve operational objectives (sales goals, production goals) if they have a strong team. A good manager could miss these goals if they have a less experienced or weaker team. A good manager could still have a lot of turnover on her team if corporate policies are not employee-friendly, or pay is bad.

    7. Mirilla*

      I feel the same way. I could write a handbook on how not to manage based on the management I’ve worked under. It’s been unbelievable and really makes you lose faith in the entire concept of working for other people. I really should be self employed!

    8. NicoleK*

      1. Most managers are promoted or hired but aren’t provided sufficient training
      2. Powers that be hire people they like and not on competence, skills, experience, or ability
      3. Managing is really hard
      4. Powers that be won’t fire bad managers
      5. Someone may be a great individual contributor but it doesn’t guarantee that person would be a great manager
      6. Some are really great at interviewing process but not so great at their jobs as managers
      7. During job interviews, it seems to be easier to test for technical skills and not people skills

  57. Need Your Input and Experience*

    We’ve been tasked with performance reviews, and one of the reviews is employee to manager. I work for a manager that needs improvement and is pretty much unacceptable in nearly every category. We have taken steps to make these anonymous, but – I fear if we’re honest, we’ll pay. The company won’t fire this person, they have never, ever removed a manager, and my fear is manager will go full bitch eating crackers on us, and no matter what HR says, I can see them sharing the actual reviews so manager could read the verbiage and maybe discern who said what based on writing styles.

    For instance, manager has all the tact of a bull in a china closet, in fact, at least the bull has an excuse because it’s a farm animal. There is no excuse for someone to sound like a dog trainer at puppy training class (COME TO MY OFFICE. SIT!) and to bellow from office to office rather than using the phone, IM, or email to communicate. I plan to point this out, among many other things. I experienced the come to my office thing, and actually said “do I get a biscuit?”. Went right over manager’s head.

    Do any of you have to do these reviews? Are you honest?

    1. Suzanne*

      Good question! I’ve been working a long time and for the most part, when I have been honest in a situation like yours (with very carefully crafted words) nothing ever changed. I often wonder why anyone even bothers to ask.

    2. Marie*

      I had a manager who required us to do these reviews, and wouldn’t accept if we said we had no negative feedback or ways she could improve. I would be honest but really think about the way you phrase it. I heard someone use “I would be more effective if you…” once and liked it.

    3. Lefty*

      Ugh. I’m sorry you’re dealing with that… it sounds like she’s not in any place to be a manager and the company isn’t even aware of it or doesn’t want to manage her!

      Could you ask HR if they plan to present the results in aggregate vs as individual remarks? “There were lots of concerns over your tone” is harder to pinpoint than “She barked orders for me to SIT!”… it wouldn’t prevent the potential for backlash against everyone, but it could take the heat off of an individual.

      If HR will (even if they MIGHT) share actual reviews, you could try to have everyone mask their writing style. We’ve been encouraged to provide short non-sentence blurbs to prevent identification of writing style. If you could get HR to encourage that or even encourage others to do so, maybe it could prevent some individual retaliation? (examples: “Slow to approve leave requests”; “Threatens retaliation for poor reviews”; “Nonresponsive to emails”; “Adversarial when asked for additional details”; “Speaks in condescending tone to employees”; “Shows favoritism to Dumbledore while ignoring Hagrid’s requests”)

      1. Need Your Input and Experience*

        I think that’s what people are doing. I’m typing my comments into the form and will print it off, then circle the ratings manually. I plan to keep them short and to the point.

        This person is not a manager in that sense of the word. It is a person assigned to the position due to seniority, and coincidentally, the things you listed are almost spot on in each case. Oh, there’s no favoritism, nope nope nope, but when you allow your friend to keep working in an office for more than 15 years as a constant under performer, while hammering the good performers, it’s a problem.

    4. Brownie Queen*

      I have found that none of this is ever truly anonymous. If your gut feeling says she will go into bitch eating crackers mode if you are honest, listen to it.

    5. Ad Astra*

      You don’t have to be 100% forthcoming. If the company doesn’t set up their process to foster honesty, they’re not going to get honesty.

      That said, it’s still worth including any of the more gentle advice you might have, so that at least some good comes from it.

  58. Crylo Ren*

    A few commenters might remember that I posted last week about jumping in headfirst to a job search because my current employer will be laying off our entire workfore in the next few months starting in April.
    I have a semi-happy update, but I also badly need advice/perspective…

    On Friday I applied for a Teapot Automation Specialist position. It’s now the following Friday and…I’ve already received an offer! O_O!!!!!!!
    The speed of the process has me a bit breathless. There are a lot of red/yellow flags, and coupled with my desperation to find a job soon because of the layoffs, my head is spinning.

    The flags:
    – The one and only interview was only 30 minutes long and the only questions they asked me were, “tell us about your current role”, “have you had experience working in (specific software)”, and “when can you start”. The rest of the time was me trying to wring information out of them about their team, company, product etc.
    – When the VP Operations called to verbally offer me the position, he never mentioned calling my references. I eventually just asked him “would you like a list of references before you proceed?” so they could chat before they officially decided to move forward with me. He said “nah, no need, you seem like a genuine person” *mental Tim Allen “Uuhhhhhhhhhh?????????”*
    – The job description in the official offer letter now includes a bunch of other duties that were not discussed in the 30-minute interview. The expanded scope doesn’t seem to fit the stated job title. I’m confident I could learn those other duties (and it would be a nice resume builder to have those new skills)…but it worries me that they’ve tacked on a bunch of responsibilities that I have only tangential knowledge of (to the point that I don’t even claim them on my resume), and which were not discussed during our interview.
    – Salary is the same as my current employer. Do I have any standing to ask for it to be higher since the job duties have been expanded? I made a blunder during the interview and mentioned that I was looking because of layoffs, so I’ve lost that negotiating leverage. :(

    Any advice for tactfully ironing out these details with the prospective employer? Is this process really moving along too quickly, or is this just par for the course? I’m panicking and don’t really know what to do :(

    1. Not Karen*

      Frankly I would not take this job and keep looking. The lack of discussion on the specific duties has me greatly worried. The lack of reference-checking and 30-minute interview I wouldn’t worry about (my current employer didn’t check references and I love it), but zero discussion on what the job actually is? Nope.

      1. Crylo Ren*

        Thanks for the advice! I did reach out to the VP to ask for clarification and he said the offer letter was boilerplate language from HR, so he will send me an updated one to better reflect the actual duties. Hopefully this will address that particular concern.

        I appreciate your perspective on the interview and reference checking. I was under the impression this was super rushed and weird not to check, because my past 3 employers have had long interview processes and were diligent about checking references, but I can see this is not the case with everyone.

    2. K*

      Did you get the impression that they were understaffed? They may be in need of someone and rushing the process, but it is concerning. I would think that good companies would do their due diligence to make sure that you’re a good fit (thoroughly discussing the role, checking references, etc.). The fact that they are not might be a flag that they have high turnover and are trying to fill vacancies. Depending on how desperate you are for the job, I would say to definitely negotiate if you feel the responsibilities of this job are more than your previous one.

      1. Crylo Ren*

        Not understaffed necessarily, but it is a tiiiiny company by my standards (<40 employees). This is a completely new role for them and they are looking for someone to really define strategy ahead of their next big product launch. They've also gone through a period of huge growth in the last couple of years so they are looking for more adds to staff in the near future, but right now the company is still small.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      The best job I had started with only one 30 minute interview. I don’t recall if they even asked for references (but I knew people there and they knew that, so maybe they talked to them). Keep your eyes open, but don’t turn it down just because they don’t do AAM level checking.

      1. Crylo Ren*

        I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open. Long interview processes have been the norm for me in my (admittedly limited) job-hunting experience so it’s encouraging to hear that others have had good experiences in the opposite case. Thanks for replying! :)

    4. AnotherFed*

      Well, if they aren’t checking your references or thoroughly investigating your background, how well do you think they checked out your coworkers or the person who’d be managing you? And what job exactly are they doing – will they even know if their job descriptions are as clear as yours?

      Personally, I’d pass on this one and keep looking.

      1. Crylo Ren*

        Thankfully, after I posted this I reached out again to the VP who had sent over the initial offer and he said the job offer that was sent was boilerplate language. He sent a revised offer letter that better clarified the expectations for the role. So as long as what he wrote doesn’t change, I’m all set.

        The lack of diligence in checking my references still weirds me out. I’ve at least got the weekend to think it over, so I’ll have to decide if that’s enough of a dealbreaker. I almost wish they would call my references because I’m confident they would all say I’m amazing!

    5. KC*

      Do you have any more details about the job like experience, education, software familiarity, exempt or non exempt, FT or temp? Depending on the type of job, the information you described may or may not be warning signs. Try to extend the time you have to decide as much as possible. The only interviews (im assuming yours was in person) i’ve had that were that short were for temporary positions, and the job i was in was definitely one of my worst, if not the worst. You still have time, and being unemployed isn’t the worst thing. I don’t know how much certainty there is to the expected layoffs, but definitely do not mention this when job searching. It is only relevant after you are no longer employed.

      1. Crylo Ren*

        It will be a FT exempt position and what they originally asked for in the job posting is in line with my current experience.
        Unfortunately they were already aware even before I came in to the interview because word has gotten out via LinkedIn and such, so I lost that leverage :/ Since so many of us were affected it’s been pretty rampant and publicized in our area.

        1. misspiggy*

          So it could be that they jumped at the chance to get someone like you because of the layoffs, and because it was an opportunistic hiring they didn’t have their ducks in a row re job description. That suggests they know they can’t afford to pay what the role might fetch in a ‘sellers’ market’, but as it’s a ‘buyers’ market’ they’re scrambling to take the opportunity. They know there’s no need to check references – they want whoever’s available for that salary, if they seem like a good person and they’ve been doing relevant work for a while without getting fired.

          So the red flags may not be too bad, but taken together everything suggests that if you worked for them a couple of years, expanding your experience, you could get a much higher paying job if market conditions improve.

    6. Small town reporter*

      I’m late to the party, but if you see this, here’s my two cents: My boss offered me a job after a 40-minute phone interview. I was many states away, never met him in person until my first day on the job. He never checked a reference. But it worked out great — I love what I’m doing and he likes my work. So these things can work out OK. I also went in with the attitude of, if it’s terrible, I’ll leave. I was in a position where I needed to take a job and move quickly and it really did work out OK.

  59. North*

    Ok. I work for a small nonprofit, as program staff. Out of a combination of job duties, interest, and a few other things, I took over another part of the organization’s work that is not technically my own a few years ago. It was crucial to what we did, and it was badly neglected. I’ve built it up since into a robust thing that is really important to our work.

    We’ve had some staffing changes, and now the person whose job duties technically cover this area is supposed to take it back over. Which, on paper, would be fine by me. I have plenty else to do, and I will freely admit that it is not my area of expertise. Except this other person is really, really, REALLY bad at it. This person’s activities have been incoherent, ill-advised, badly executed…you name it. Cringe-worthy.

    I am getting a lot of mixed messages about what my responsibilities are. I still have access to the files & work in question, and new person in charge says, “I don’t want you to do any less.” But he’s also telling the other person to do much more. We already don’t work together terribly well, and there is a lot of tension.

    Now, I think the new supervisor is extremely smart and savvy and sees exactly what is going on. He has said as much. I think that I need to wait and see what happens next, and try to fill in the gaps in the meantime. But it is really, really hard to do! I invested years in this work, and as I flat out said to the director, I am ok with someone else taking it over (I’m not really territorial, and if I feel that way, I work to quash those feelings) but it’s going to really frustrate me to see it done badly. Which it is. Objectively. Publicly. Repeatedly.

    Do I keep waiting and filling in gaps and catching & fixing egregious mistakes? Do I back off 100% and let this other person succeed or fail on her own merits? Is there something more I can say to the director to clarify my own role?

    1. fposte*

      Is it absolutely out of the question that this project becomes officially yours? Seems like that’s what you really want, and that’s usually the best place to start. If the answer is, more or less, “You can have it when Jane messes it up badly enough to take it from her,” I think it’s worth a conversation with your manager about the problem with that plan–that it keeps you invested in the project and that therefore you will keep it from failing to the degree that seems to be necessary. On the other hand, if it fails totally, you may not want to pick it back up again and have to start all over with cleanup.

      However, I think it’s possible that your manager isn’t prepared to take it away from Jane right now, period, and if so, I’d recommend you separate from it completely for your own good.

      1. misspiggy*

        Yes. Let Jane fail and then let management decide what to do about that. Don’t be their arse-covering mechanism.

  60. LizB*

    For those of you who work from home, what are your best tricks to stay productive and focused? In my new job I can pretty much work from home whenever I feel like it, and while I’ve really been enjoying the opportunity to hang out in my sweatpants while I do my paperwork, I’m definitely not as productive when I’m there versus in my office. Any tips on how I can set up my space and stay on task when I’m at home?

    1. louise*

      My husband rarely works from home, but did today. In fact, I thought he was going in to the office as usual, because he got up at the normal time, went through his normal routine (a little irritating that I could have had ALL the hot water because he didn’t HAVE to shower before me this morning, geez…), and put on clothes he would totally wear to work.

      So I’d say as nice as the cozy clothes are, maybe get ready for work as normal and just look at WFH days as commute-free days, rather than sweatpants days.

      1. LizB*

        I was afraid wearing work clothes was going to be part of the solution. :) It’s probably a good idea to suck it up and get ready like normal, though. It’s tricky, because a lot of times I’ll sit down at my computer to start work as soon as I get out of bed, and then when I look up it’s already 10:30 and I haven’t taken a shower… but I can make myself stop doing that.

        1. BRR*

          I don’t go so far as to wear work clothes but I do change out of my pajamas into casual stuff (not sweats).

    2. katamia*

      I think it really depends on what is distracting you–TV? Kids/pets/other family members/friends? The phone? Internet? Or is it that you’re having a hard time making yourself sit and work?

      1. LizB*

        Part of the problem is that it’s a super slow time for us right now, and I just don’t have that much work to do… which should make it easier to focus and plow through, but I end up slacking off because I know I have plenty of time. My cat is a minor distraction, the TV/internet is a bigger one. When I’m in the office, I restrict myself to short AAM breaks and don’t spend time browsing other sites; I figure if someone looks over my shoulder and sees AAM, that’s at least a semi-professional thing to be wasting my time on. When I’m at home, I don’t have the same qualms, and easily get sucked into Buzzfeed, Youtube, or other time-wasters.

        1. katamia*

          Oh, the Leech Block browser extension would probably help you, then. You basically tell it what sites you don’t want it to let you go to. I don’t use it myself (I’d prefer an extension that worked the other way, cutting me off from the entire Internet except for a few whitelisted sites, and I haven’t been able to find one that works that way), but I know a lot of writers who work from home who use it and love it.

          Something else that helps me is to use a timer. I’ll tell myself that I have to work until X:00 without any distractions and then let myself stop and do whatever I want for a certain amount of time. Then I’ll have to work from Y:00 to Z:00, and then I get another break. The exact times you use are pretty highly dependent on how often you have to be at your desk (my work is 100% deadline-driven, and no one cares if I’m working at 3am or 3pm, so the actual times when I work can get pretty weird) and how much you want to have a full “night off.” I don’t care about that, personally–I’m happy to work for two hours, stop working for three hours, and repeat until it’s all done rather than work a more traditional 8-hour day. Your preferences and what your employer requires may differ.

          Sometimes I also plan fun things for the afternoon, but only if I get X, Y, and Z done.

          If your workspace is in the same room as the TV, try moving yourself or the TV or turning the TV to face the wall if it can be moved.

          1. LizB*

            The timer idea might work really well for me — I’ll have to try that.

            I haven’t used LeechBlock, but I have used Self Control, which is a Mac-only application that can either blacklist sites or whitelist a few and block the rest of the internet — if you have a Mac, you should check it out! It was immensely helpful in college, when I used it to focus on papers I absolutely had to write.

            1. katamia*

              No Mac, just a PC. That gives me an anchor to search for, though–thanks. Maybe someone will make a PC version of it at some point.

          2. Honeybee*

            Seconding LeechBlock. I would also prefer an extension that works the way you said, but I noticed that I primarily procrastinated on just a few websites. You can set up LeechBlock to automatically start blocking you at certain times (say, 9 am to 5 pm). It worked really well for me.

            1. katamia*

              I use the Internet extensively for research for my job, so I can’t just block the whole Internet. I can usually just get what I need from a list of Google results without having to visit any other sites, but I have to look up so many different things that I can’t possibly block all the “Hey, that looks weird, let me spend 20 minutes reading about that” stuff I come across. I’d love to be able to block everything BUT Google, LinkedIn (I look up a lot of people’s names), and a couple other sites.

              Okay, and YouTube because sometimes Whose Line Is It Anyway? clips are what get me through the day, haha.

    3. Anon the Great and Powerful*

      I make a to-do list everyday and make sure I accomplish every task on my list. I also use Toggl to track my actual work hours. I turn off the tracker when I’m slacking (like right now) to keep myself accountable.

      I also have a dedicated office space in my house which helps. Trying to work on the couch just feels too much like lounging.

      1. LizB*

        Ooh, Toggl looks interesting — that might be a good way for me to see how I’m actually spending my time. We don’t have to track hours, so I don’t really have a good idea how much time I’m working vs. slacking off. That would be a good thing to get some hard data on!

    4. new reader*

      Someone I know that works from home once told me that she has a space (room) in her home dedicated as her office and she has specific clothes that are her work outfits. Every day she gets ready for work and considers her home office her workspace. She keeps to a fairly regular scheduled – at her desk by 8 a.m., breaks and lunch at similar times every day, and end at 5 p.m. Keeping it structured just like going to the office helps her stay on track and focused on work.

      1. LizB*

        That’s a good idea. I don’t really have space in my apartment to dedicate to work — my desk is in the guest room, which is also the cat’s favorite hangout spot, so whenever I’m in there she’s walking across my keyboard every 5 minutes trying to get me to pet her. But I can definitely work on my structure!

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      In grad school, my advisor had studied writing rituals. Good writers are more aware of their choices, but also their rituals to get started. That might include sharpening all the pencils, making tea, listening to certain music, or wearing comfy socks. That shed light on my own writing, and now I’m aware of it when I start to study. It seems to help. I can mentally sort my distracting behaviors into the ritual that will help me start working or the procrastination that will lead me down a mindless bunny trail.

      I also have a routine that helps jumpstart my productive time. I have a playlist of upbeat songs without distracting lyrics. I make sure to take my vitamins before I get started. I find if I jump in to work tasks, I do better than if I start with email or news. I also use a browser extension called Stay Focused that lets me blacklist and whitelist certain websites. I can visit the blacklisted sites a total of one hour in a 12-hour period. That lets me have little rewards without letting me get lost.

  61. Wendy Darling*

    Any recommendations for resources on creating a portfolio to show potential employers? Everything I’ve found is from college career centers, so I am understandably skeptical.

    Since I got laid off I’m busting my butt learning new skills related to my field and want to do some personal projects to show them off. Also, everything I did in my last job is NDAed into oblivion so I can’t show any samples of actual work.

    This would mostly be charts, graphs, and various other data visualizations. And possibly query samples.

    Has anyone here used a hosting service or builder and really liked it? Or any links to good resources?

    1. Wendy Darling*

      Oh, and I’m thinking mostly online — forgot to say!

      I can probably print some stuff if I have to but I want to be able to show interactive visualizations and those don’t work on paper.

      1. Dawn*

        Github (possibly) or make a simple, free WordPress site with a very short URL that you can point to.

      2. Alston*

        I use wordpress for work and I really like it. Any idea what you’d be making to put up for your portfolio? You say chats and data visualizations, but of what?

        1. Wendy Darling*

          Basically I’ve been learning R and also significantly improving my Python and SQL since I left my job, and I want to do something to showcase that. Particularly to showcase harnessing them for useful reporting, since that’s a big aspect of most of the jobs I’m applying for.

          My plan is to pick up a public data set and make some basically fake reports about it, since I don’t have anything from my job I can show. And some “Look, I can make a thing with R/Tableau/Excel!” type stuff. A lot of my last job was metrics reporting, so ingesting the data, cleaning it up as needed, and putting out reports easily consumable by non-spreadsheet jockeys (so, pretty graphs, some tables, and text calling out relevant information).

          I’m going to need to start playing with data sets to learn the stuff I want to learn anyway, so I may as well show off anything cool I make. I had a really interesting longitudinal analysis with a super hairy PITA data set I showed around when I was applying internally but I lost access to that data when I left the company. :(

  62. Glod Glodsson*

    I need help! Or support. Or both! I’ve started applying for jobs with the notion that I’d be happy to have a new job in a year or so…and now I have an interview on Monday, two weeks after having started searching. The thing is…I really love my current job. I love the people and the work itself and I’d happily continue doing it, if not for the terrible pay and the lack of growth opportunities – I’m stuck beneath my manager, who is never leaving and holds the highest position that’s possible for me. So I know I have to go while I still like my job, because right now I have the luxury of looking at possible jobs really critically and I want to leave the industry I’m in. But the notion of going on an interview on Monday is nearly giving me a panic attack. I know I have to leave this company if I want to grow professionally but it’s such a nice place that I’m kind of scared to! Did any of you leave a job you enjoyed for something else? Why did you decide to start looking? Were you scared to leave? And how did it turn out?

    1. Dawn*

      I haven’t been in that exact situation, but it boils down to: Nice doesn’t pay the bills. What if you got a job that you loved the people and the work *and* got paid what you were worth and had the opportunity for growth? Cause that’s absolutely and completely possible.

      Also, a job interview isn’t an offer letter, and even an offer letter isn’t a new job. Hell, you might be going to job interviews every two weeks for a year or two before you find another company that you like enough to leave the company you like now. You’re in a great position right now, where you are enjoying your work and can have a leisurely search for a new job that’ll be an even better fit for you. Maybe you’ll win the job hunt lottery and get lucky with your first interview… but most likely you won’t. Don’t stress over it!

      Also, *you got an interview and you’ve only been searching a week*, which means there’s jobs out there to be found! That’s great news!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I left what I thought was the job of my life. I had a migraine that lasted for weeks because I was so upset. I later found out about several serious problems at the place, it seems that the place was not what I thought. Finding out this stuff was almost as mind-bending as leaving the job.

      Time has been very kind about balancing out that story. Almost every job I have had since then I found there were pluses for each one. Had I stayed at this beloved job I would not have grown and learned so many other things. Oddly, there are days where I think fondly of that job, but I do not miss it.

      I remember what it took to pull myself out of that job. I swore that I would never become that attached to a job again. It should not be that hard to leave a job. As you are doing, keep looking at the big picture and your longer range goals in life. That will help you.

  63. PitaChips*

    One of my former bosses is getting promoted. Several people in the department are not in support of this, but the department head (who can be kind of clueless/spineless) made the decision anyway.

    My two former peer-level coworkers, one of whom will now be reporting to FormerBoss, intend to meet with the department head to politely express why they think this is a bad idea; I believe at least two other members of the department, who are at FormerBoss’s level, may do so as well.

    If they do end up doing this, I would love the opportunity to meet with the department head as well and present information about my time working for FormerBoss, which was awful. However, I still work at the same company – just in another unrelated department. On a scale of 1-10, how bad of an idea would it be to have this meeting?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Either terrible or great, depending on factors we don’t know — your standing in your company, their receptiveness to candid feedback, their track record of caring about poor management, how much you’re valued, etc.

      1. Graciosa*

        We already know enough about other factors to evaluate this.

        FormerBoss is a bad manager who has continued to thrive in this environment and is now being promoted by Clueless Spineless (department head).

        The people who want to protest the decision are planning to appeal to Clueless Spineless. The odds are *zero* that Clueless Spineless is going to go to his or her manager to announce that the promotion was in error because some team members don’t like it. That makes Clueless Spineless look bad. It will be much easier for Clueless Spineless to hear them out politely and do nothing – then these complaining employees will become FormerBoss’ problem.

        Also, if the company culture is one that cares about managerial skill, they would have made an effort to evaluate it as part of the interview process.

        The only reason for my 0.3 deduction was because of the possibility of a miraculous intervention (perhaps a visiting VP who dropped into the meeting and already knew how terrible FormerBoss was).

        This is a lost cause.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think you’re likely right, but it’s also possible that this is a rare exception that. I always think of a time when I discovered that a manager who’d been operating right under my nose was in fact a terrible tyrant and had gone to all kinds of lengths to keep his staff from talking to me about it (and they were remote, so it was harder to just observe — although even in opportunities to observe, he had systems in place to hide how he really operated). Once I found out, I took really serious action — but I needed someone to tell me what was going on first.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Maybe you can’t answer this directly, but what was it the person said that you found persuasive? How did this person motivate you to check out the situation?

            Or more generally, what would a person say that could be considered persuasive to an average boss?

        2. PitaChips*

          Graciosa, I responded a bit below, but I wanted to add that FormerBoss wasn’t interviewed for the position – in fact, I think that’s one of the main reasons this can even happen. By company policy, you do not have to post the job or interview people for a promotion, but you do for an internal hire. FormerBoss is woefully behind in technology skills, people skills, and efficient processes and in my opinion, wouldn’t have passed the interview round if she was an outside candidate.

          The other thing that bugs me about this is that we are NOT a promotion culture. People are never promoted here; they’re expected to stay in the same position and pay they were hired for. If they find another job in the company, no matter how closely related, they must apply and often aren’t even interviewed – “fresh blood” is valued. Thus, most of the younger employees are leaving, much to the company’s dismay and confusion (since they don’t seem to understand that this is why people are leaving). So to promote FormerBoss, who is not a good fit or a good worker, is a smack in the face.

      2. PitaChips*

        In terms of level, my standing isn’t that high; in terms of how well I’m liked/valued/known around the company, I’m doing quite well.

        The company has a terrible track record of caring about poor management and reacting to feedback; I have no doubts that the department head will listen to me and seem to care, but the odds of him doing anything are about zilch.

        I agree with Graciosa that it’s unlikely that my input or my former department members’ input will result in this promotion not going through, but I’m wondering if making sure that the department head is made aware of these issues and then perhaps knows to watch for them would make a difference down the road (e.g., sending FormerBoss to management training, opening lines of communication with FormerBoss’ new report, etc.).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, given your second paragraph here, I’m going with Graciosa’s original 9.7.

          Regarding your third paragraph, it’s not your job to take that risk in a company that has made it clear they don’t care.

        2. Graciosa*

          What do you think this might actually accomplish, given that FormerBoss will get the job anyway?

          First, I think sending a bad manager to “management training” is rarely useful. Bad managers never think that they’re managing badly, and training is much too general to target their real issues.

          What bad managers need is *management* from their bosses – serious coaching targeted to their specific issues.

          I guess I can see the possibility that enough pressure might make Clueless Spineless offer FormerBoss a class, but I don’t see much of a possibility that it will have any positive effect other than getting him out of the office during the class time.

          “Opening lines of communication” with new reports is not that useful of a goal unless you have concrete suggestions for helping them deal with FormerBoss effectively. Wanting to participate in the bitch sessions about how bad FormerBoss is does not actually help anyone.

          However, assuming you can coach them to deal with FormerBoss successfully (big assumption if FormerBoss is actually a bad manager, but okay) then you “open lines of communication” by talking directly to them and not to Clueless Spineless.

          I think you’re indulging in the all-too-common fantasy that “If only they knew” things would change. Clueless Spineless is not going to take the kind of action needed to reform FormerBoss. Alison would have, but Clueless Spineless is not in her league.

          I’m actually in favor of speaking up when there’s a chance it will help, but I don’t believe it will here – unless you can find an Alison above Clueless Spineless.

          Good luck.

          1. PitaChips*

            One thing I want to clarify: This would definitely not be a “bitch session.” I’d be having a candid but respectful conversation about defined areas for improvement, such as FormerBoss’s micromanaging, strong discouragement of all vacation time (and guilt-tripping about any days taken), and unpaid overtime/comp time.

            Unfortunately, there’s really no one above the department head, so I think I’ll have to let this one lie. Thanks Alison and Graciosa!

    2. TootsNYC*

      Their decision is made. Any interference can’t be good. What are they going to do, say, “oops, sorry, we’re not promoting you anyway.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        And I get you about the “I wish him well in his new job; I accept that it’s a done deal. But I worry that these areas of weakness might be things he needs help with.”

        But there’s just no possible way for you to say it that’s not going to hurt you.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I had a situation where a boss returned after leaving. People were crying because he was coming back. It was discussed with TPTB and when the dust settled, TPTB said, “Okay, we will just watch him. But we still want him back.”

      Old Boss was good at X which solved chronic problems a, b, c and d. Okay, Old Boss SEEMED to be good at X and that SEEMED to solve chronic problems a, b, c and d. It was the subtle type of thing that takes years to figure out what is wrong and is very easy to attribute to other things not the Old Boss.

      I am agreeing with Graciosa. The real problem in my case was that upper management put out fires and did not do any long term planning. Long term planning would have required a deeper look at the choices they were making.

  64. louise*

    Here’s a hypothetical I want to throw out. My boss told me about a scenario that happened years before I worked here, when the company was still under 50 people and nothing was very formal.

    Most days a particular Hourly Worker would take bathroom breaks that lasted over 2 hours. (Single toilet restroom, not a stall situation for curious minds.) Boss told me they never did anything about it.

    What would you have done? I say it should have been handled like this: IF it’s a good worker (because if not, PIP or fire them already for poor work) whose work quality is something you want to keep, then tell Hourly Worker his bathroom breaks are cutting into productivity. Don’t ask him to explain. Tell him he needs to clock out at each bathroom stop. Let him know 2 breaks of up to 20 minutes will not be deducted from pay, but anything beyond that will not count as time on the clock.

    I think my solution has a few problems, particularly if it is a protected medical condition and the clock out system puts him way under 40 hours. What other solutions can you think of?

      1. louise*

        At a time. But yeah, either way, a long time. I can’t believe they didn’t address it with him. Now I can’t remember if they ended up firing him for something else or if he quit for another job. Either way, the problem resolved itself before I got here.

    1. Professionally Anon*

      When I was an hourly retail worker, one of my coworkers tended to take 20 minute bathroom breaks and then clock out for her 30 minute lunch. We only had one bathroom in the building, so it didn’t go unnoticed, but it wasn’t addressed until we got a new manager. She was told that if her bathroom breaks were going to be that long, she’d have to clock out first.

    2. Viktoria*

      Yeah, that’s an extremely long time to spend in the bathroom at work. But I’m curious, why do you say don’t ask him to explain? What if he did have some really serious medical condition, and for some misguided reason thought spending 2 hours in the bathroom was a better solution than taking sick leave and going to the doctor? I agree that it should have been addressed, but given that the bathroom is a potentially embarrassing and sensitive topic, I would err on the side of caution and proceed with delicacy.

    3. FutureLibrarian*

      I am pretty candid about my IBD, Crohns-Colitis. I’ve had it for…about 8 years now. Thankfully, mine is well controlled, but there was a period of several months at OldJob where it wasn’t. I was candid with my boss about it, and sometimes had to take multiple bathroom trips in a single day, but they never exceeded 5-10 minutes, let alone two hours!!

      I would be the first person to sit him down and have a chat about what is happening. It’s not okay for someone to spend two hours in the toilet at work (do whatever you want at home!), and I’m concerned for his health. I would offer time off for a doctor visit, or even short-term disability if needed. But anyone spending two hours on the toilet is either avoiding work, or has a very serious health issue.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “But anyone spending two hours on the toilet is either avoiding work, or has a very serious health issue.”

        Either way the person can not meet the requirements of the job. The job requires the employee to be available for eight hours. If this person only makes one trip to the bathroom he is doing a six hour workday because for the two hours he is in the bathroom he is not available to his employer.

        Probably the person was counting on management’s inability to talk about bathroom time. Looks like he calculated correctly.

  65. Alston*

    I got into school!

    So I applied for the two year Furniture Building Program at the school where I took the 3 Month program. I was expecting to hear back in a couple of months whether I got in for September, but on Weds they called me and asked if I wanted to start in the spring semester in February! Wohoo!

    Now incredibly excited and also nervous. It’s going to be harder than the 3 Month class, but I will have a leg up because of it, and two of my old classmates will be starting with me!

    1. MaryMary*

      Furniture Building School? That sounds awesome! Congrats!!!

      (Was the entry exam assembling a large piece from Ikea having any pieces left over?)

        1. super anon*

          that galaxy chair is so awesome – it looks mad comfy and trendy. i love it.

          as someone who isn’t very good at any kind of trade or carpentry, i’m amazed at how many different things you can build and how wonderful they all look. i wish i could own them all.

          1. Alston*

            Thanks! The Galaxy Chair is probably the favorite thing I’ve done. I didn’t make the frame, but I stripped it down to plain wood and then built it back up and upholstered it.

            I took a bunch of upholstery classes, and that’s actually what lead me to woodworking. I wanted to start building my own chair frames. Then I started doing woodworking and was like Woah, this is even better!

    2. TootsNYC*

      That’s not a euphemism, like teapots?
      I want to take a Furniture Building Program!!

      (I got a compact circular saw for Christmas from my dad; I’m so excited to use it.)

      1. Alston*

        Not a euphemism, actual furniture! At North Bennet in Boston. What are you going to build first with your saw?

  66. Snowed In*

    Myself and a few of my co-workers are non exempt. Our firm rarely allows us to work over 40 hours a week because of overtime. In anticipation of inclement weather, our manager and all that are exempt were told to work from home if the office was closed today. My manager e-mailed their manager and asked about us non-exempt employees and was told that we should be working from home if we were able to. This morning we received the e-mail stating the office is closed. Our manager only told three of us to bring work home because the other two (in the same position) were newly promoted and they didn’t want to scare them (They’ve been in the same position doing the exact same job, but have moved from contract to full -time employees).

    This is the first time in four years we have been told to work from home when the office is closed – usually it’s just the exempt employees. We have actually asked before and been told no, they will not pay overtime. As we are non-exempt, and there is an e-mail stating the office is closed, should we be getting overtime pay for this work? Those that don’t work will get paid for the time off, so I feel (although I could be wrong) that we should also get paid for time off, plus overtime for time worked. Also, is it fair/good management to tell some people to work while others (in the exact same position) actually get to have the time off, paid by the company? (I think I know the answer to this question, but had to ask).


    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you work, you need to be paid for the time, whether it’s at home or not. If it puts you over 40 hours in a week, you need to be paid overtime.

      It’s pretty normal for some people to need to work while others are excused. It’s just about different needs from different roles.

      1. Snowed In*

        Thanks Alison,
        I was just about to add that every other time I’ve been paid for the time off without having to work.
        The interesting thing is, they didn’t NEED us to work, my manager’s manager just said that we should be working (but only getting our regular pay). With that he meant ALL of us with that title, however my manager decided to just tell the three of us (this is par for the course…a whole ‘nother topic that could be discussed). We all do the exact same job, on the exact same projects.

      2. Snowed In*

        To clarify: 32 hours working in office + 8 hours working from home when the office is declared closed (but others will be paid for the time off without working) = 48 hours (or would it still equal 40). I’m reading your comment both ways. Way too much coffee this morning. :p

        1. BRR*

          Just because others will be paid for time off doesn’t mean you also get those same 8 hours for the office being closed.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Ah, this makes me realize where Snowed In is getting 48. Yeah, can’t count it twice. Also, overtime pay (at least legally mandated overtime pay) is based solely on hours actually worked; the government doesn’t care if it was on a holiday that would otherwise have been PTO.

  67. voluptuousfire*

    Hmm…need some advice.

    I’m in a contract role that’s working out really well. I have great feedback from my colleagues and manager, I’m taking on new responsibilities and it’s really great. It’s pretty much a perfect environment. But again, it’s contract. I’m pretty sure I’ll be extended but I’m realizing I really do need health benefits and something more stable and to be honest, more money. This is a great job but I really am not making what I want to be making.

    I’m passively looking because while I like this role, I don’t know if it’s going to go full time. I also need health benefits, which I missed the enrollment period for.

    I really would like to wait it out, but there may be some financial changes at home over the next year, so making more $ is becoming more of a priority than it’s been.

    1. Crylo Ren*

      Do you and your manager have a good enough relationship that you can have a candid conversation about the actual likelihood of your position being extended? I would continue keeping my eyes open for other opportunities in the meantime, but it might be worth bringing up that conversation now in case your manager can make things happen for you in your current role.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Yeah, we do. We get along very well. Actually, I have a colleague on the west coast who is in the same situation as me (same role, just west coast) and we’re thinking about asking together.

  68. Shelly*

    I’m currently very unhappy with my job/company, I accepted it one year ago for all the wrong reasons (a whole other story). An old boss gave me a lead on an open position (not at his company) that isn’t public knowledge yet; in fact, he specifically asked me not to mention his name or knowledge of the opening in my letter of inquiry, as he is connected business-wise with this specific company.
    I’m not sure how to construct such a letter…Do I focus exclusively about myself, and what I can accomplish in the most general of terms? Do I mention that I am quietly and discreetly looking, or is that understood by the potential employer? Also, I’m in a small industry where nearly everyone is separated by 2-3 degrees. My current company has something of a cruddy reputation. How would I skirt around that issue/elephant the letter?

    1. TootsNYC*

      Yes, focus on “I’m a person with these accomplishments and skills, and I’m interested in work within your company. Please keep me in mind if something appropriate should arise.”

      I wouldn’t worry about skirting your current company’s crummy rep. Everybody knows it’s not you, personally, that makes it crummy. And you may be doing quite good work there; they’ll be open to seeing what you show them.

      I think this is ULTRA true in an industry with such close link.

  69. Bowserkitty*

    I’m in the middle of gathering documents from a business course my boss is about to graduate from. These involve large PDFs and video lectures.

    I think I hit my bandwidth limit for the day. *sigh*

  70. Carrie in Scotland*

    I am asking this for a friend (no really!) because the Hive has smarts and wisdom.

    My friend is in retail. She has recently got the oppprtunity to interview for a job ordering products for the stores in the area. She needs some help with what to ask them and how to qord the question of “in 6 months when the mat leave person comes back, what does that mean for me?”

    Thoughts? And what sort of things can you ask in an internal interview?

      1. fposte*

        It would be a slangy truncation in the US, but that’s its usual name in the UK and Canada, so I think Carrie’s okay there.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          ha, I was writing on my phone so used mat for maternity leave. I think my friend is trying frame the question more as – do you think my being in this position will still happen, when the woman comes back from maternity leave but without it sounding too presumptuous, or if she will just go back to being a regular retail worker again.

  71. Amber Rose*

    Husband got the job he wanted, making him the only person I know to achieve the seemingly impossible: a job with the government. We used this blog to prep his resume and cover letter and do interview prep so, I can attest to the functionality!

    In other news, my one year anniversary at my job is coming up and the pessimistic side of my brain keeps pointing out that would be the best time to get rid of me. We’re oil and gas in Canada so. Things are looking bad. But I’m not sure if I should jump ship. I like my job so rather not. It’s scary. :(

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Congrats to your husband!

      Pardon me for being nosy, but can you hint at what you do in O&C? Were you in the industry before this position? I work in power engineering & construction officially, but my personal workload is half O&G right now (not in Canada, though). As a fellow pessimist, I definitely understand your stress. As a whole, my company has quite a toehold in the O&G business, and so you want to believe my job has nothing to do with this downturn and even if you’re at a plant, a skeleton crew is needed, right? But at a certain point, there are unpredictable “cut everything” cutbacks.

      I will say, having working in energy for 16 years, the best lesson I learned was in my first few years in industry working with a someone who had been a job shopper for 26 years. While my department went from 40 to 4, and I was fu-reeeaaak-ing out, he was all, “Eh, that’s how it goes.” Power goes down, oil goes up, then oil goes down, power goes up. Whatever. I still get a little panicky, but at the time we were young and broke, and, my husband was an industrial electrician too. We’re more diversified now. : )

      1. Amber Rose*

        We’re oil and gas adjacent. We sell regulatory equipment to oil and gas companies, as well as parts and service and stuff. We’ll even fix up and supply the competition’s equipment.

        On the surface of things, our product is legally necessary to existing companies. Dig in though (as I must as the A/R person) and companies are putting huge orders and going bankrupt or not paying their bills.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          At least accounting skills are transferable to other industries, although when it’s an O&G local economy, that makes it hard no matter what you’re doing.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      As someone who isn’t in O&G personally but where I live is, I feel your pain. My home city is laying off people every other day. Congratulations to your husband!

  72. CrazyCatLady*

    I am having such problems doing interviews. I know a lot of times it isn’t personal or someone else just has more experience but I think I just suck at interviews. I’ve tried rehearsing over and over again, and that makes me sound rehearsed. I try thinking of examples of all my accomplishments and going over behavioral questions – those, I’m pretty good at. This is crazy sounding, but when they ask me questions specific to my job, that’s when I have a really hard time answering and get flustered. After the interview, I am able to think of better (and true) answers but on the spot, I am awful at it. When I get asked a question once, I add that to my repertoire of answers for future interviews and it becomes a non-issue. But inevitably I get asked a question that flusters me.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am wondering if you changed your overall approach the flusters would not hit you so hard. Do you concentrate on thinking about interviews go TWO ways? It’s not just you sitting in the hot seat. You are also checking them out to find out what kind of culture they may have, figure out their integrity and so on. If you were buy a refrigerator or car you would pull out a critical eye, to make sure what you bring home is what you want.
      Perhaps you can distract yourself from flustering by using that critical eye to scope out the potential employer.

      Think about how to distract yourself from YOU. You would not go car shopping and spend the whole time wondering if you had on the right outfit or said the right things.

      Which brings me to my next point, when you say something wrong, just say “excuse me, I need to rephrase that”. There is something so powerful in knowing what you will do if you say something the wrong way.

      I am wondering if you rehearse so much that you are draining yourself of energy. Maybe your focus should be more on having a light rehearsal, then eat a good meal and get a good night’s rest before the interview. A tired mind will not interview well no matter how much you practice.

  73. Big Bad Boss*

    Ugh. I feel like I’m struggling as a manager right now. I hope it’s temporary but I keep waiting to read these threads to see if a former employee writes in about her evil boss–me.

    This person quit a while back but did so in such a fashion that I felt it made me look bad as they badmouthed me to anyone who would listen.

    Everyone I work with from my immediate supervisor to my other direct reports feels the reaction is extreme and I have been lenient with this employee when it has come to ‘life happens’ moments which seem to happen to them more than anyone else.

    But it still makes me feel icky. Icky that this ex-employee is so angry. Icky that it makes me look terrible to those who may not know me as a boss (like HR). And Icky that while I had no intention of pushing this person out even though that’s what they think, they had flaws and I’m so glad they quit.

    1. fposte*

      I think part of being a manager is being okay with people being mad at you or not liking you. It’s not pleasant, but you’re there to be worked with, not worshiped. Sometimes it’s about something that’s justifiably a reason for you to change, but sometimes it’s not. And in this case it’s not.

      I’m not sure what to make of the notion that your direct reports have all been weighing in on this, as that could be a little odd, but it sounds like this is a one-off that has nothing to do with your ongoing abilities, and that the best thing you can do for your team is shrug it off.

      1. Big Bad Boss*

        Thank you for the response. I am okay with not being liked but I think the level of dislike is what threw me. And the notion that I loathed this person which I didn’t.

        The whole situation was more off-the-wall than I detailed. The worker vented to co-workers which led them to weigh in when they saw me later and warn me. It was unprompted.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, got it. Honestly, I’d try to think of this as the workplace equivalent of mild road rage, when somebody honks crazily at you for not running over a pedestrian or something. It’s not really about you.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          If your subordinates are telling you about it, that probably means they do not agree with what is being said.

          Sometimes your peace of mind, your ability to reassure yourself comes from knowing, “hey, X is simply NOT true!” And that is the only reassurance you get. Management can be a lonely job for this reason.

          That level of anger, to me, indicates that you made the right call in firing this person.

          Time is on your side. You will get more established as a boss and you will have history with the company to draw on. People will know, that over the years you have not had major blow ups like this, so there was something else at play in the story with Angry Fired Employee.

    2. AnotherFed*

      I get this feeling. I think all you can do is keep being fair, honest, and clear, especially as you go through times where you’re handling a struggling employee, so that when it comes down to it, the employee isn’t going to have any grounds to write in about evil boss. It’s totally human to have thoughts like “maybe if I’d tried harder to coach him on X at the beginning” or “maybe if I’d broken down her work into even smaller pieces and checked in on those,” but the reality is that you’ve almost certainly got more competing priorities than time, and it kind of sounds like you put more time and thought into making this employee work out than they did. Bad eggs happen, don’t let it get you down for long!

  74. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

    I have a question about behavior that doesn’t quite rise to the level of sexual harassment but is definitely unprofessional.

    I just got back from a week long training event. There were lots of events after working hours that had alcohol (boredom, lawyers, you get the idea) but I wasn’t drinking for health reasons. I still went to the mixers because networking is a big part of all of this.

    One of the facilitators (so… A senior peer from a different office, if that makes sense) was very drunk at several of these events and engaged in conversation and behavior that was… Weird. If I were in college, I’d say he was flirting with me. Following me around, being sure to see if I was laughing at his jokes, constant “checking in”. He’s older and male, I’m younger and female.

    Nothing overtly sexual was said, but I’m pretty good at telling the difference between friendly professionalism and flirting. Ignore me when sober, seek me out and compliment me and keep asking for fist bumps and inserting yourself into my conversations when drunk- that’s weird to me. I was spending time avoiding him.

    My question is this:is this something to just let slide? Ask around discreetly? We work in different cities but for the same employer, so I could run into him again. I’m mainly frustrated that I couldn’t network as was so frequently stressed to us because I was playing dodge the older man with no boundaries.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, yeah, that sounds like a PITA; in my general not-lawyerly experience, it’s also not uncommon for somebody want to do some non-professional networking at a networking event. I therefore overall recommend that anybody attending them have ready phrases about moving on to talk to so and so and about wanting to stick to professional conversation tonight, because management in the moment will be your best defense.

      However, the facilitator aspect of this goes beyond that to me. That’s somebody who seems to be using his official situation as an opportunity to hit on people. I don’t know the field well enough to know how far you could take things without putting a target on your back, but that’s where I’d direct my energy to take action, if I thought it was worth it.

      (To be honest, I’d probably let it go for a one-off and take action if it looked like there was a pattern. But that’s me and it would depend on the details of the situation.)

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        I’m inclined to cross my fingers and hope it is a one-off as well. I don’t remember his name or where he works (though I can easily find out). The man simply isn’t worth my effort.

        That being said, tools for dodging (particularly when non-creepy, non-work fun is welcome) would be appreciated!

        1. fposte*

          Ah, if the message is “I want to flirt but not with you,” then I think you go for your usual social life brushoff; you can’t really use the professional nature of the event to shut him down and then start flirting madly with the hot person on the other side of you.

          1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

            Well not flirt because I’m married, but “I’m interested in making friends and I’m not all business, but seriously you are ignoring all social cues here, sir.”

            1. fposte*

              Then be direct and stop counting on indirect social cues. Flat statement, no smile: “Bob, I’m not here to talk about stuff like that.” “Bob, I’m going to go meet some other people now.”

              1. BRR*

                I think those are great. Also “Bob, I want to be able to meet some other people while I’m here.”

              2. jamlady*

                Also, chances are that other people are also noticing his behavior so if you say something really direct like “I’m not comfortable with this situation, please leave me alone” or something, I don’t think you’ll look like the crazy overreactor. Though you may want to word it differently, depending on the culture.

      2. Artemesia*

        I am old. This was SOP at professional conferences (where I was always one of a handful at most of young things) and it is super annoying. I had hoped that things had improved for your generation. The one thing that has is that women are really not supposed to have to put up with this, so don’t hesitate to lay down some boundaries if it happens again and definitely don’t allow yourself to be in a professional position where you are forced to be alone with this guy.

  75. GrumpyIntern*

    Any advice on doing well at a job you don’t particularly want to be at, while you look for a new one?

    I enjoy the work I’m doing but for various cultural reasons my company is really not a good fit. The people I work with make a lot of inappropriate comments (I’m one of two females at a small company, it’s very much an old boys’ club). I want to find a different job soon but because I’ve changed fields recently i don’t have as many options as a more experienced person. I want to make the most of my time here, but it’s hard to concentrate when I’m stressed out by the various annoying things my boss and colleagues do. I’ve called out more egregious examples but I know I can’t change the whole company culture. So current plan is keep looking+learn as much as I can while I’m here.

    Anyone dealt with this kind of thing? How do I do reasonably good work when the place makes me so unhappy?

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      I’m in a similar position (working a contract job where the scope changed drastically on day 2, honestly would rather be unemployed now but don’t want to burn the bridge). What I am trying to tell myself is that you never know how helping others now can help you in the future, so gritting my teeth and doing my best could be the path to a bigger network, positive reference, and expanded skill set in the future.

    2. Jennifer*

      Honestly? Faking happiness seems to be a requirement in my current (bad) experience. I keep reminding myself that I can’t do anything about anything that’s annoying me (complaining here only ends up with “suck it up and deal with it”), so I need to accept it and keep on trucking. Do your best to try to keep to yourself, use headphones if you’re allowed, and try to directly focus on the work, not everyone else, as much as you can swing it.

    3. Alston*

      I make sure to leave work at work as much as I can. And I make myself a nice cocktail when I get home. That seems to help immensely. :D

      That helps me get a little less stressed so I’m actually able to get stuff done while at work.

      As for inappropriate comments, the Carolyn Hax response of “Wow” and a confused/stern look works pretty well. Every once in a while one of my coworkers will make a really boneheaded and offensive remark, and this gets the point across without picking a big old fight.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I find some “constituency” to serve. How can I mentally frame my job so that I’m “helping” some group somewhere? Coworkers, customers, someone.

  76. LBK*

    No real question today, just popping in to say hi. Things have been unbelievably crazy at work, which has cut seriously into my AAM time :) A massive project I’ve been working on for 4 months nearly blew up in my face right at the end, so there were many long nights spent over the last few weeks working with my VP on fixing it. Fortunately she is an absolute saint and possibly the best manager in the whole world, so she managed to keep me sane and patiently walked through every step of the process with me. Trying to sort all of that out while also doing year-end reconciliation and compensation processing for our sales team was a load of fun, especially since that project had major impacts on our comp process, so tasks that were already complicated and time-intensive got 10 times more complex.

    Having now gotten my first taste of 60-hour work weeks for the last month or so, I don’t know how some people spend their entire careers doing it – it’s unbelievably exhausting and unsustainable. It made me hate doing work I otherwise enjoyed and hate dealing with people I otherwise liked. Fortunately things are more or less back to normal now (and I’m pretty sure I’m going to get a killer raise and bonus out of it on my year-end review). I seriously can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference having an amazing manager made – if she hadn’t been so supportive, spending hours on the phone being a sounding board, helping me make difficult judgment calls, playing defense for me against the demands of the executives and keeping the mood as light and relaxed as possible, I probably would’ve cashed in my one excused job hop and quit after only being here for 9 months.

    1. fposte*

      Just a hi back! Yeah, I can’t do those schedules any more either. I’m glad you’re coming out of that period well and with, it sounds like, some nice reward.

  77. BlackEyedPea*

    I am doing all the things that AAM recommends but am still not getting interviews. It’s starting to become extremely discouraging. Does anyone have advice for remaining positive while job searching when it’s not going so well?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Sorry to hear that! I am awful at staying positive, always so I’ll be following this in case other people have any advice.

    2. Suzanne*

      Been there. Exercise helps. Networking helps. Know that there are many people like me out there who know what it’s like and are sending positive vibes to you. Close your ears when others blather on about lazy so-and-so’s who don’t want to work. Mostly, keep plugging away.
      Good luck to you!

    3. Emmy Rae*

      This only works because I am currently employed, but I give myself breaks from job searching. This has two benefits – 1, the break itself, where I focus on my social life and hobbies instead of writing another cover letter. And 2, when I look at my spreadsheet with no more prospects to hear back from, it lights a fire under me to apply somewhere again.

      Fist bump of solidarity!

    4. FutureLibrarian*

      That happens a lot, unfortunately, so I feel you!

      The best thing I have found is to set a time limit on job hunting/application stuff. My time is 10PM. While I don’t always do it (scheduling sometimes means late nights!), I try as much as I can to limit job hunting to pre-10PM hours. Then my brain knows it has an auto-shutdown time.

  78. Ms. I Need a New Job*

    I start a new job on Monday, and I am very excited! What tips do you have for someone starting a new job after just having left a toxic environment?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Keep an open mind and don’t automatically assume everyone is out to get you. Try not to carry over any bad habits you may have developed to cope with the toxic environment. Treat this as a clean slate and a new day.

    2. MaryinTexas*

      My best advice for anyone starting a new job is “mind your own business.” I started at new company 2 years ago and noticed some interesting behaviors of my coworkers who had been working there a long time (coming in late, leaving early, missing for hours, long lunches, missed deadlines, etc.) Being new, I just kept my head down and worked hard to make a good impression. Two of these coworkers were laid off last year and when my manager told me about it, she said “you must’ve noticed XYZ?” I said yes I noticed, but it was none of my business. She smiled and said “that’s why I love you!” And now I’m up for a promotion. I know things bug us, and I’m not saying be a door-mat, but if it doesn’t involve you, mind your business.

    3. Suzanne*

      Expect to have some leftover anxiety from the toxic job. Just keep telling yourself that these are different people & a different environment, which you may have to do a lot at first. Don’t be surprised if you have moments of thinking “Oh no! It’s happening again!” But then step back, breathe deeply, and tell yourself this is not that.

      1. Not A Bug*

        ^^ this! If you see similar behaviours in your new coworkers that you saw in your toxic ones, it doesn’t mean your new ones are necessarily toxic too. It just means you see patterns sometimes. I was super nervous about one of the positions I support early on because she acted much like my previous boss (who was basically the cause of toxicity at Last Job) but the work was different enough and her intent was always kindness that it’s really not even close to the same thing.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This. Cut the same amount of slack that you want others to give to you. This means if you don’t want your words/actions held under a microscope, then don’t second guess everyone else’s words/actions.

        In abusive environments you have to second guess everything that is said. Tell yourself each day, “For today, I will take what everyone says/does at face value and not look for the negative.”

    4. Num Lock*

      It’s only been a week for me, but I decided that I’d bring one thing from my toxic job in, and that was my mug. Everything else on my desk will be new, so it looks a bit bare bones currently. I’m excited for my new plant that I’ll bring in Monday. Couldn’t have plants at my old job.

      I’m also working on eating better and going for walks on breaks. My therapist says the rhythm of walking helps you process the trauma. (The therapist I needed to get me through those last months at toxic job. )

      And I’m also trying not to make too many comparisons…but it’s hard as my toxic job was my first one after college and twisted me a bit. This is the piece I’m struggling with the most. Obviously.

  79. MaryMary*

    Our CEO sent all of us an email out full of business motivatonal BS (There is no ‘i’ in team! Turn your “shoulds” into “musts”!) and wants us to respond to him with comments. Clearly, I cannot respond with smartass comments, and it would be impolitic to respond that these motivational cliches are useless BS. I don’t know what to say when I respond! “Totally agree! A++ Five stars. Would work here again.”

    1. Nanc*

      “There is no I in teamwork but there’s an M and an E. ”

      You can always say it to yourself when the CEO sends the “motivational” email!

    2. AnotherFed*

      There is an ‘i’ in TEAM. It’s in the a-hole. :)

      Not an appropriate response, but the thought always prevents me from strangling whoever spouted off the motivational comment.

  80. MaryinTexas*

    How would you respond to a hiring manager who told you he thinks you’re “too nice” for a particular job? I interviewed for a position in another company recently where I’d manage about 5 professionals in remote locations. The interviewer who would be my boss said he thought I was “too nice” for the role. I was taken aback and responded that my coming off as “too nice” was my “secret weapon.” He asked me to elaborate and I just said that I might come off as nice, but if pushed, I would act appropriately. After the interview, I came up with some good things to say, but par for the course, it was after the interview. I’m curious how others would respond to this question, and wonder if it’s even a fair question? What candidate goes into an interview acting anything but nice?? If I’d walked in the interview acting like a jerk, would that have helped? Thanks!!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The opposite of “too nice” isn’t necessarily “jerk.” He could have been saying that he thought you weren’t strong-willed enough, or confident enough, or assertive enough, or kind of a pushover, or whatever. Or, yeah, he could be a complete ass. Hard to say. Do you have examples in your past that you can point to of times when you had to be assertive in tough situations, make hard calls, deliver bad news, etc. Those could help.

      1. Artemesia*

        Agreed. It is a cue to discuss how you manage i.e. how you supervise, provide feedback, hold people accountable. ‘Nice’ is fuzz speak for non-assertive. You can push back by being assertive and describing your management style with at least one concrete example of this.

    2. Temperance*

      My response is that I regularly deal with difficult people, and am very capable of handling myself in any situation, I just prefer to be “nice” first. And then give examples. Obviously, YMMV, but I regularly deal wtih the homeless, mentally ill people, etc., and those are my go-to examples.

    3. katamia*

      I don’t think the interviewer was looking for a jerk, but there are levels of nice. Some people can be very nice and still come off as tough and able to do a particular job (I can’t be more specific because I don’t know you or the job), while other people can give the impression of being so nice that they’d have trouble, for example, giving difficult feedback to an employee because it might hurt the employee’s feelings.

      Alternatively, as someone who’s very sarcastic and snarky, but I’ll admit that sometimes when I meet people who seem “too nice” to me, I often worry that they’ll think I’m a jerk if I express (calmly and rationally) negative feelings or accuse me of being “mean” for providing honest feedback. (I know “I was just being honest” is the battle cry of actual jerks who just want to “tell it like it is,” but I’ve been accused of being mean by people for providing feedback like “I didn’t get what this sentence meant. Could you make it clearer?” and similar comments.)

      So I can’t say for sure what the interviewer was referring to, but those are a couple of possibilities. If this is feedback you often get, then there may be a presentation issue you could work on.

      1. katamia*

        Oops, forgot a sentence in my second paragraph. Meant to add that if a lot of the potential coworkers are closer to the sarcastic/snarky end of the spectrum, then the interviewer may have been worried about a fit issue.

    4. Argh!*

      It may be code for “you’re a female and we don’t like females”

      Or… you just may not have had an opportunity to talk about making a tough decision or “winning” something.

      If someone said that to me I’d thank them for their time, toss anything relating to that job application, and move onto the next one.

    5. Marina*

      Frankly, I’d interpret that as code for “Your potential team is a bunch of manipulative slackers and we’re looking for someone to whip them into shape, and/or this organization runs on political jockeying and you have to be willing to stab people in the back to move up here.” So, in other words, probably not a great working environment.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I’d assume that the worry was I wouldn’t be assertive or authoritarian enough.

      And of course, you can be assertive & authoritarian and still be nice. Lots of parents are. Lots of teachers are. And lots of bosses are.

      So I might start with a question: “What is the specific part of this job that you think ‘niceness’ is a bad fit for?”

      And I might say, “I prefer to start with ‘nice,’ and to manage through collaboration and communication. Being nice is the way that’s effective. But if that doesn’t work, or if a more serious situation arises, I’m capable of being pretty firm. I’ve…[insert story here], and I’ve ..[insert another story].”

  81. The Optimizer*

    While I’ve had input in hiring before, done interviews and ultimately decided who was hired, I am now hiring someone from start to finish for the first time. I’ve posted the position on Indeed and another site and received about 30 responses in the first 24hrs. I am blown away by the number of people who don’t even remotely match the requirements and the absolutely atrocious spelling and grammar mistakes I see on resumes!

    I’ve indicated that relevant experience is required (and even updated the posting to say it’s REQUIRED). Let’s say it’s for a customer service job where we troubleshoot and place orders for teapots from various vendors. While we’d love to have someone with experience, what we do is somewhat of a niche industry we at least need someone who has worked in a coffee shop so they are familiar with the terminology used, the process of brewing/serving tea and a lot of knowledge on they types of tea available. I’ve received applications from everything from cashiers at Dollar Tree to executive directors of non-profits. I’m sure this isn’t unusual but it sure is frustrating!

  82. Sneezy*

    My job is making me incredibly sneezy. I don’t know if I’m more sensitive to dust than the average person, or if it’s just incredibly dusty at my cubicle, but I spend a lot of time sneezing and blowing my nose at work. I do sit right under a vent, and I’ve noticed that my area gets dustier way faster than other areas of the office. When I’m at home, which is not ultra clean by any circumstances, but not nearly as dusty, the sneezing ceases almost entirely.

    That said, what can be done to fix it? Everyone at my office is pretty well-meaning, so I think they’d be receptive to doing something, but we are also a smallish family-owned company and a lot of things that don’t directly impact the product we make are done in a kind of makeshift way (HR is basically just an accountant with a photocopy of our health insurance options, facilities is basically a purchasing guy with a plumber’s phone number and a machine shop guy with a ladder). With that in mind, I’d like to have some concrete suggestions of things that might help, since nobody else really knows. Are there air quality guidelines that would be helpful to consult? Is there a way to test air quality relatively cheaply/easily, or are there just best practices for filters and such? Does anybody have any purifier recommendations? I’ll note that our office is pretty open, so anything that can only handle a bedroom or so would probably not be sufficient for the volume of air we’re dealing with, though putting it right by my desk might help.

    1. Dawn*

      Just talk to your boss about it. “Hey boss, I sit right under an air vent and I notice that I am incredibly sneezy at work, and only at work. I think the vent is causing it. I’d like to try (move to another desk, get an HVAC person to look at it, tape up the vent, whatever) and see if that fixes the problem.” And then wait and see what your boss says.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed. Sneezy, I think you’re thinking bigger than necessary to start and also not identifying what it is you actually want. I personally would go first for a query about cardboarding over the vent and then let them worry about the airflow rules.

        1. TootsNYC*

          well, I think Sneezy is actually asking us for resources or suggestions for figuring out what she (he?) wants.

      2. Sneezy*

        I actually did talk to my boss, but since I have no idea what to ask for, that makes things harder. And then immediately after I asked, a big problem occurred and he had to fly to Japan (we’re in the US). So when he comes back, I’d like to say something like “remember how we talked about the sneezing? I think we should try X”. I just want to figure out what X should be, since I don’t know that he’ll come up with a great solution on his own.

        1. toa*

          Some options: moving your desk, covering the vent, new air filter in the vent/intake, call HVAC repairman to inspect system, buying air purifier fan…

          My house gets extremely dusty when I’m lazy about changing the filters on the intake part of the system. I also remember when we bought our house we had an HVAC repairman come to inspect and clean the system. I think those solutions would be the first line of defense.

        2. Artemesia*

          The vent system may be long overdue for cleaning and blowing dust on you. The filter may need changing and the pipes cleaned. Or maybe moving you would work or blocking that vent. But I’ll bet the ducts haven’t ever been cleaned and are crawling with crud.

        3. TootsNYC*

          yeah, my vote would be to start with the changing of the filter. Or, get the purchasing guy to call the plumber or HVAC or A/C guy and say, “can you look at filters? Can we tape a filter over that vent?”

          In fact, before you talk to your boss, you might sound out the facilities guy, and see if there is an HVAC or A/C guy.

          And there’s also the idea of a really decent floor air filter, but that might not help if it’s all coming down from that vent.

  83. FutureLibrarian*

    I am so very excited for this thread! To offer some details: recent graduate of library school, applying (selectively) to lots of out of state jobs, both academic and public libraries.

    A job I want to apply for is requesting a CV instead of a resume. Looking at the CV versus the resume, my CV would look pretty sad compared to my resume because my background is not in academia. Would it be totally awful to submit a resume instead of a CV?

    1. fposte*

      If it’s an academic position, they’re probably just using CV as the default term. I wouldn’t worry about the difference. If you were farther along in your trajectory, there might be stuff to add back in if your resume is very lean, but I suspect that yours has you pretty much covered at this point.

      1. FutureLibrarian*

        It is at a college, but not a tenure-track position, which is why I was so surprised.

        Okay, thank you so much for the advice! I really appreciate it :)

  84. Mike C.*

    Hey, random question for everyone (and if this isn’t work related enough, we can save it for the weekend).

    Is there a particular TV show or movie that does a really good or really bad job of portraying your profession?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’m a banker and pretty much anything that’s out there portrays us as evil. But It’s a Wonderful Life portrayed the mission of my former bank really well. We were a very small community bank and we were all about helping our customers any way we could. We didn’t have astronomical fees, the tellers knew all their customers, we made lots of loans to mom-and-pop businesses, and we had local decision-making. It’s probably part of why we didn’t survive, since a lot of other banks aren’t like that.

    2. LOLwut*

      I used to work at a newspaper. So almost every show that ever portrayed a newspaper. The Flash is particularly egregious with Iris’s office. Clean office! Friendly, good-looking people! Get paid enough to dress like a model! Yeah, no.

      1. Rye-Ann*

        Heh, I love The Flash but they’re pretty unrealistic in general – the scientific professions are not represented accurately either. XD (And that lab at the police station is atrocious sometimes – WHY ARE YOU EATING PIZZA IN A LAB!?)

        1. TootsNYC*

          OK, you do realize you’re complaining about a lack of realism in a show about a man who gets superspeed from having chemicals spilled on him right when lightning is striking through the window–right? (or does TV Flash have a different origin story?)

          I totally get it, though.

    3. Graciosa*

      LA Law was terrible in a lot of ways.

      Arnold “Arnie” Becker gave lawyers a bad name. Seriously, he would have been disbarred. Attorneys are required to avoid conflicts of interest, and to try to help avoid a divorce IF the marriage is fixable and it’s in the client’s best interest. The fact that you’re sleeping with the client yourself is going to impede your judgment.

      Ally McBeal was embarrassing. I was a practicing female attorney when it came out and, no, we really didn’t dress like that.

      The Practice was horrifying.

      I watched it occasionally until I saw one episode in which a defense attorney traded one client for another. The prosecutor actually suggested it, along the lines of, “I already offered you a sentence of X years for Chris, but I’ll give you probation for Lee in a totally unrelated case if you talk Chris into a sentence of X+10 instead.”

      *Everyone* involved in this (except the victim/clients) is behaving totally unethically. I was shocked that they actually showed this and it wasn’t just a plot twist to get at least one of the attorneys disbarred (perhaps a way to get them off the show?). There were no consequences for the unethical characters at all beyond living with the knowledge that they totally betrayed everything we stand for in our profession.

      I can’t think of a good example of lawyers portrayed on television – we’re usually the bad guys. Even Erin Brockovich wasn’t a lawyer and was shown as the one who cared about the clients when the lawyers didn’t.

      We’re not perfect, and there are genuine issues of ethics and professionalism that good, ethical attorneys struggle with – but what shows up in entertainment is frequently clearly bad behavior.

      There’s a reason I just don’t watch these any more.

      1. F.*

        JAG was about Navy lawyers. Although probably not very realistic about day-to-day life as a JAG attorney, they did portray characters with compassion and ethics.

        1. Cat*

          I’m convinced Law and Order has singlehandledly moved the country to the right on criminal justice issues. I can’t watch it.

          1. Honeybee*

            I don’t know, Law & Order was the show that made me realize I didn’t actually want to be a prosecuting attorney. It dawned on me that I’d have to prosecute people I maybe didn’t think were guilty, or who committed crimes out of desperation or ignorance or poverty.

    4. archaeol-anon*

      Answering for the field in which I trained, though I haven’t worked in it directly in a couple of years. Probably the worst and most famous offender would be Indiana Jones, but pretty much every TV show or movie that portrays archaeologists destroying ancient sites to get to treasure, especially a couple of reality shows that have my professional association seriously concerned. Our work is all about documenting context, slowly and methodically, and focusing on “big finds” and selling artifacts fosters the illegal antiquities market!

      Also, in I think The Mummy 2, when the female lead mentions she has like 8 master’s degrees and 3 PhDs? Ridiculous. One PhD is enough, if you want to research different things it just helps you get tenure!

      1. Tau*

        Not an archaeologist, but the multiple PhDs thing crops up so often and always gets me. Who even does that?

        1. Honeybee*

          Nobody! Nobody does that! Most universities won’t even let you especially if they are in related fields.

          And why would anybody WANT to do that? One PhD is way more than enough.

    5. Temperance*

      Whatever that horrible show with Mark-Paul Gosselar and Breckin Myer was. I was outraged in the first 5 minutes – worst lawyers I’ve ever seen.

    6. Shell*

      I’m not in law enforcement, but I’m quite certain Gotham violated every bit of protocol law enforcement officers are supposed to have, and I don’t just mean the whole “buttering up to gangs” part.

        1. Shell*

          Never watched it. My knowledge of TV shows is very lacking. I watched Gotham because it was surprisingly on Netflix and I’m a Batman fan.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The job and personnel parts of Rescue Me actually did a pretty good job of portraying what things are like in the NYFD and NYCEMS. (I worked for a private ambulance company but worked alongside a lot of first responders and counted them among both friends and family.)

    8. Reidi*

      I’m a lawyer and pretty much every show involving lawyers takes great liberties with legal ethics, rules, etc, particularly with respect to timing. I used to watch Suits, and it seemed like they would be in court arguing a motion to dismiss the same day a complaint was filed, which never, ever happens in corporate litigation. (Not that I blame them – it would be super boring if they followed the timeline). I will say, however, that Suits does do a pretty good job highlighting some of the ways in which being a junior associate in a big law firm can totally stink – long hours, no control over your schedule, lots of grunt work, etc.

    9. Jennifer*

      The only time my job’s ever been on a show was Switched At Birth. Yeah, they had no idea what they were talking about.

    10. F.*

      Catbert in the Dilbert comic strip cracks me up, but it IS supposed to be satire of an evil HR Manager.

    11. Not Karen*

      Well, you know how they say Scrubs is the most accurate portrayal of working at a hospital on TV? I’m not a medical professional, but I’ve worked with a lot of doctors on research, and I can confirm that surgeons are definitely the most pretentious of the bunch.

    12. AmyNYC*

      Overall, How I Met Your Mother did a better job of portraying an architect than most TV/movies (handsomely dishelved single dad looking for love, frequently wears a hardhat). But is also got many things wrong about being an architect. For one, Wesylan doesn’t even HAVE an architecture program, so Ted would have had to go to grad school (or work for 12 years, which doesn’t fit the show’s timing) which is NEVER mentioned. It’s also extremely rare to be a licensed architect at 28 – possible, but very unlikely (you need the aforementioned degree in architecture + 4 to 5 years work experience + pass 7 exams). He wouldn’t get to leave and go to the bar every night, he’d be stuck at the office on a COMPUTER – no one drafts by hand anymore, and there is NO WAY he could have pulled together a fully realized alternate design for the tower in Portland (I think?) overnight because Walter White is a jerk. Goliath Nation Bank wouldn’t have an architect on staff to design their new headquarters, and if they did they’d need more than one person to work on the project. Starting his own company and teaching seemed pretty realistic, except that he probably wouldn’t have been teaching history, he’d be in a design studio.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Heh, I was going to mention HIMYM. That’s as close as it gets to portraying my field. No one wants to capture the excitement of an engineer designing a power plant. Seems architects, scientists, and software engineers are all we get to see on TV. We do make an appearance on some cable reality shows, though.

        My favorite architect portrayal, though, was Mike Brady. I like the episode where the Zsa Zsa Gabor type lady (maybe it was Zsa Zsa) keeps redesigning her new factory and she wanted to make the roof open and close like a compact. That is pretty close to some clients’ realities.

    13. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I have a hard time watching shows based in tech firms and tech development.

      The bad ones are so silly my blood pressure rises from all the idiocy.

      The good ones are so good my blood pressure rises because I feel the plot way too keenly.

      So I opt out and watching cooking shows and cat shows. No crossover, I promise.

    14. AnotherFed*

      Better Off Ted pretty accurately describes the brand of engineering I work in, except that the projects go too fast. It’s also pretty true to life in terms of bureaucracy/bizarre management decisions.

        1. AnotherFed*

          It really is a ton of fun! It’s also somewhat like living in a permanent Dilbert comic strip, and I just hope I’m at least Alice.

    15. Arjay*

      Not me, but a doctor friend says that Scrubs was the most realistic depiction of what working in a hospital is actually like.

    16. Rebecca in Dallas*

      The only TV show that I can think of that had a character in my industry (retail merchandising) was Rachel on Friends. It’s been a while since I watched it, but from what I can remember it wasn’t too accurate. Someone getting promoted to assistant buyer from such an entry level role? Nah.

    17. Isben Takes Tea*

      I work in book publishing, and I haven’t seen it done very well ever. The offices are smaller, the desks are messier, and it is entirely less glamorous, idealistic, and profitable than usually portrayed. But I suppose that’s the same with every career ever portrayed in media. The most inaccurate publishing-specific trope is that wood paneling is NOWHERE in our offices. The most accurate is that alcohol is still favored in office settings.

      1. Vulcan social worker*

        Sam Healy on Orange Is the New Black infuriates me. I was excited in the first episode when I saw his nameplate with MSW, but is so unethical and terrible. I enjoyed when Berdie, the counselor with the MA in psychology, told him off after he tried to condescend to her. I’ve had people with BAs in psychology condescend to me because they look down on social workers, but not anyone actually working in the field.

        Most of the staff on that show are pretty reprehensible, though.

    18. Lab rat*

      I work in an analytical laboratory, and my coworkers and I make fun of CSI all the time. We’re not a crime lab, but we work with similar instrumentation, and what’s portrayed on CSI-type shows is basically magic. People from other departments occasionally come in and ask us to analyze something to figure out what’s wrong with XYZ, and we have to explain that it doesn’t work like CSI — we don’t have a “whatsit machine” that will just spit out all the answers. For the most part, the machines don’t make conclusions; they give us data, and it takes some amount of knowledge and skill to interpret the data. Also, the machines on CSI always work perfectly. I guess it wouldn’t be that entertaining to show people running quality control checks and having to recalibrate the instrument because the QC check failed, or figuring out how to correct for interferences in the sample.

      Another thing that’s totally unrealistic in CSI-type shows is the way instrument displays work. The instruments always seem to get really excited when they finish an analysis, often with a flashing red message on the screen, like, “MATCH FOUND!!!” In real life, instruments typically just give you a printout with a bunch of numbers that you have to interpret to make conclusions. When they’re done running one sample, they will simply move on to the next sample or go into standby. They don’t try to get your attention because they have no idea if you’re running a key piece of evidence in a murder case or a routine quality control sample.

      1. Honeybee*

        Also, everything happens so quickly. I’m not in that field at all but I do remember reading multiple articles about how long it takes to get results from a crime lab because of the back log – sometimes years – and how some kits are never tested at all, and sit in a closet somewhere. The CSI and L&O detectives always get the results they need in like 1-2 days or less.

    19. TootsNYC*

      Not TV, but I always loved the glimpse into investment banking in the Dick Francis mystery “Banker.” I have NO idea how accurate it is; I’m in publishing.

    20. New Bee*

      My job (Instructional Coach) doesn’t exist on TV, to my knowledge. The only people who work in schools are teachers, principals, and the occasional guidance counselor, apparently.

  85. AnonymousaurusRex*

    I posted a couple weeks ago about taking a new job you are so-so about for a higher salary and shorter commute, when you currently have a job you love. I have an update!

    I got an offer this week that is 35% over my current salary, and my commute would go from 30 miles one way on LA freeways (1-2 hours each way) to 2 miles one way on the beach bike path.
    I was still completely torn over whether to accept the new position, because I love my current job and don’t really feel ready to leave. (I’ve only been here 18 months).

    I told my job about the offer. They (totally unexpectedly) countered, but they can’t financially match the new job. (But they did offer an additional 25%…which in our company’s financial position was really surprising and it really made the money less of an issue for me.)

    Even though I’ve read all of Alison’s advice about counteroffers, I was SO tempted to accept. But I decided last night, during my 1:40 commute home that I don’t know if I could continue that commute without any resentment that I had the opportunity to get out of it. (and have more money and time and energy).

    So i’m going to accept the new job today!

    One more question though–do I still negotiate the new job’s salary? I know you’re always supposed to negotiate, but this is such a huge bump for me. They offered at the lower range of what I requested, but I knew it would have to be a huge salary increase to take a new job. I don’t want to sound like a greedy jerk. Should I negotiate on PTO or something, or just say thank you and take it?

    1. Mike C.*

      I think when things are really good, you don’t have to. I was once offered a 70% bump in salary and I just took it without a second thought.