open thread – January 29-30, 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 :)

{ 1,272 comments… read them below }

  1. Pokebunny*

    I’m starting a new round of applications now, and am actually excited about my new, revamped cover letter and resume.

    1) How many bullet points is too many in a resume? I’m a senior about to graduate, and I’ve only had one highly relevant internship/part-time job. However, I also have a ton of responsibilities in that position that is not the norm of an internship, and I have a list of 11 accomplishments under that one job. I can combine a few of them, but I’d still end up with maybe 7 bullet points. Too many?

    2) Should I list my visa status and the fact that I need sponsorship in the resume? On one hand, listing it early saves everyone time, and avoids “bait-and-switch” feelings — some companies just flat-out won’t sponsor even if you are Jesus’s purple unicorn.

    However, another school of thought is that listing it early gives them a reason to say no without getting to know you. The idea is that you should wow them with your qualifications and stellar interview before bringing up the fact that you need sponsorship. It reasons that if you prove yourself to be outstanding, the company would make an exception. In reality, how often does this happen? What are the odds that -I- am sooo outstanding (I’m not) that they would change their mind and say “oh, sure, we’ll drop another $8,000 in legal fees just to hire you, take a chance at the lottery, and assuming you do win it, wait until October for you to start.”?

    Typing that out, I realize that I already know the answer to the question. :'(

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Definitely do not hide the fact that you need sponsorship. Many organizations, especially smaller ones, simply don’t do it because it’s a lot of work, and you will really irk people by springing it on them later in the process. Be up-front about it so you screen out people who won’t sponsor, and are clear with the ones who do what your situation is.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      I think as long as what you’re listing as accomplishments is relevant to the job(s) you’re applying for, 7 bullet points from that one job might be okay. As you get more experience, you can always whittle it down to the things you’re most proud of/are most relevant to your career going forward.

      As for the second one, I’d probably put it on the resume. Some employers are just plain unable (or unwilling) to sponsor, and if it’s the second of those circumstances I’d like to know that info up front so you don’t waste any extra time on their application process. I’d mention it in any cover letters too, and that if there are ducks that need to be in a row that you already have them! Good luck :)

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Yes, the key for me is relevance. We hire a lot of current students and recent grads, and it does drive me a little nuts when their resumes are in tiny print and still two full pages because they’ve listed 15 bullet points about their barback experience and they’re applying to work with kids with special needs.

        1. Pokebunny*

          Thank you! Yes, it’s relevant experience. I’m applying for junior network admin jobs, and I’m a network admin for my school right now. My resume is only one page, so no worries about two pages of fluff.

    3. Caffeine Free*

      I don’t know what field you are interested in but are there any fellowships in that field and in the country you are applying in? From my experience, many fellowship opportunities (at least in the US) do not restrict the award to citizens or permanent residents. Maybe this would be something to look at to give you more experience. These organizations are well versed in acquiring visas and fellowships can also lead to full-time opportunities. Not sure if this is something that applies to your field but it may be something to consider.

    4. Trill*

      Out of curiosity, are you a student in the USA and looking for work in the USA? And if so, are you eligible for OPT? That would give you the ability to work for a year after you graduate independent of sponsorship by your employer. And it would give your employer time to get to know your work before committing to sponsor you.

      When I was in your situation, I briefly explained my visa situation near the end of my cover letter. I was also lucky that I was mainly looking for jobs with employers who were not subject to the cap (and therefore not subject to an october start).

      1. Pokebunny*

        I’m not eligible for OPT, because I already used it up in my first degree (same level). I am leaving my first degree off my resume too because it’s in a completely different field., therefore irrelevant, and in the past all it did was raise questions about “why are you in school so long and have no relevant experience?”

        I’m also focusing my hunt on cap-exempt employers too, but I shouldn’t ignore the cap-subject ones either. Thanks for the response!

        1. HarryV*

          I should’ve scrolled down more… Best thing to do is look at foreign companies, companies where HQ is outside the US, and have a presence here. They will be familiar with H-1b and sponshorships. Good luck. H-1b and OPT certainly are not the same anymore!

    5. Sunflower*

      Every employment application I’ve filled out that goes through a Taleo like system has asked if I have a visa/need sponsorship. So even if you leave it off your resume, chances are you’ll be asked elsewhere.

      1. Caffeine Free*

        Even when my SO has responded in the online applications that they do not need sponsorship (and it is listed on their resume), they’ve had quite a HR people calling to verify this fact. Sometimes more than once for the same application.

        Be open right away. Wishing you the best of luck.

    6. Julia*

      Oh man, this is such a relevant question for me. My office hires cyclically, almost exclusively college seniors for entry level positions. The schools we hire from have a high proportion of international students, and every year we deal with this issue. The company’s policy is that we don’t sponsor visas, and we make this clear in our job postings.

      What’s frustrating is when we ask students if they’re authorized to work in the US, they answer affirmatively, and we later find out they need sponsorship. It’s a waste of our time and theirs – we could have been interviewing someone we could actually hire, and they could have been interviewing at a firm that would hire them.

      We would not make an exception, for any student – an entry level candidate just could not be that impressive. You’re much better off focusing your energy on interviews that could lead to a job.

      1. Pokebunny*

        Thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s amazing the kind of advice floating out there saying that all I need to do is convince companies that I’m worth sponsoring and to just ignore their will-not-sponsor requirement.

    7. Brett*

      Definitely include your visa status. We have permanently disqualified very good candidates because they failed to reveal their status until the offer stage. (Even if they come back years down the road with permanent residency or citizenship, they cannot be hired.)

      1. HarryV*

        That’s kind a harsh. Did they lie about requiring sponsorship or just didn’t reveal it. If the latter, it’s a complete over-reaction. Not all application will give you the opportunity to state your status.

      2. Brett*

        The application specifically asks if they are eligible to work. They said they were, and when asked again in the interview, said they were. Then when the offer came, said, “oh, btw, I need to be sponsored.”

          1. Pokebunny*

            They could also be doing the “technically not lying” thing, which I think is just a step up from outright lying and equally dishonest. If they are still in school when interviewed, technically they do have authorization (CPT), but only until they graduate, which they’ll then need to transfer to an OPT status or, in my case, a straight-up sponsorship.

            1. Caffeine Free*

              The interviewer if asking if you need sponsorship to legally accept and work the position they are advertising, and the applicants know that. Answering the question as it wasn’t intended does not make a person less dishonest.

              1. Marcela*

                Not really. I had a yearly visa where I could ask for a work permit. Last year I had 11 months where I was able to work with that visa, so when asked I could truthfully say I was legally able to work without the company having to do anything. But at the same time I was going to need sponsorship in less than a year because I could not renew the same visa again, and the visa I was going to get forbade me to work, unless I could get my own H1. Sometimes the answer is not easy and straightforward, but I always said the whole thing. Which is why, I’m sure, I could not get any job.

    8. Champagne_Dreams*

      For what it’s worth, when an employer sponsors a new H1-B that is unsuccessful in the lottery, they get back from the government all the money except fees to their law firm. I advise my hiring managers that a successful H1-B would cost ~$8,000 all in, but if it’s unsuccessful then they’ll only be out around ~$1,500. For some jobs in some geographies, spending that money is a no-brainer.

  2. SweetTeaPots*

    I am going to be an interviewer for the first time on Monday! I’m not entirely sure what to ask, besides the standard tell me about yourself, tell me about something that went wrong/how you addressed it, etc. Also, I am interviewing just as a teammate/associate, not as any type of manager or senior level and I am fairly new myself. Any tips?

    Also, the interviewee is currently at a company that a friend of mine works at. Is it poor form to ask my friend about her? I feel like Alison has answered this, but couldn’t find anything in my search.

    1. plain_jane*

      If your friend is currently at the same employer, I think it’s poor form to let them know that a co-worker is searching.

      1. SweetTeaPots*

        OK this is what I had thought but could have sworn there was just a 5 questions about this, where the advice was that it was OK to contact a friend, but wasn’t positive. Either way I don’t have much ‘skin in the game’ regarding this so I definitely won’t be bringing it up.

    2. lulu*

      Unless you know for a fact that this person is open about their job search in their own company, do not ask your friend about them. This can jeopardize their current position.

    3. CV*

      Think about some of the challenges of the role, and ask about how the candidate has handled similar challenges in the past? I guess that’s similar to tell me about something that went wrong.
      You could think about the personal qualities or specific skills that really make someone in the role shine, and ask about those things.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The Management Center (a client of mine) has an excellent list of sample interview questions that you could look at here. The big thing to know: Don’t spend too much time on fluffy, getting-to-know you stuff. Five minutes on that, tops, and then get into really probing into their past experience and how they operate (the “tell me about a time when…” questions).

      Also, I have a bunch of advice here:

    5. oldfashionedlovesong*

      I agree with plain_jane. If the candidate hasn’t informed her current company she’s searching for a new job, you might end up torpedoing her current position by speaking to her friend. This could be especially terrible if you don’t end up extending her an offer. Please don’t do this.

    6. Jerzy*

      I’d only ask your friend about the candidate if/when you’re doing reference checks, and even then it might not be a good idea if this person doesn’t want their current employer informed that that are job hunting.

    7. Red Wheel*

      Please avoid: ” Tell me about yourself”. “Tell me about your experience with/in___” is so much more useful and helps the candidate focus on those most useful, relevant information for the interview”

      1. SweetTeaPots*

        I basically want to ask ‘tell me about’ on almost all of the bullet points in the resume because they’re very non-descript. ‘Worked cross functionally’ ‘managed projects’ ‘planned all aspects of campaigns’ – doesn’t seem to be much ‘meat’ to it so I’m struggling with probing questions for sure.

    8. Lee Ann*

      If you’re one of many interviewers for the same person, *please* coordinate the questions. In fact, the other interviewers may have suggestions – “we ask this, you should ask that”. I did one full-day interview where it felt like *all* of them asked about the most challenging problem I’d solved – eventually I had to repeat myself.

      1. SweetTeaPots*

        I wish we had! I received notice mid day Friday and I interview early afternoon today. I hated going on interviews where the same questions are asked over and over, so I’m hoping to come up with some that maybe others didn’t.

        I also don’t know too much about the role she is interviewing for so that makes it hard too, as I’m interviewing more is a potential coworker.

    9. Red Stapler*

      When I did interviews I liked asking about what work accomplishment the candidate was most proud of & the worst, most difficult customer they ever faced and how they resolved the problem. The customer question was relevant because the job was in customer service. I found both questions really told me a lot about how they viewed work and how they dealt with difficult situations.

  3. ElCee*

    I’ve been in my job for 7 years, about 5 happily. My boss is very kind and fair but is extremely wedded to outdated processes, to the point of being a Luddite. I’ve changed and modernized what I can, but it’s not much. So the longer I stay in this position, the less useful my skills become. I’ve been job searching for a while. Between the crowded field and trying to make a slight career change with these outdated skills, it’s been about a year with some interviews but no offers. I’ve taken on some more projects here in the past year but my focus has been more on job searching vs. developing my current position since I just want to leave it. Am I totally screwing myself over by doing this? Should I be doing more at my current job?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I don’t know how busy you are in your current position, but is there any way you can work on developing skills during your free time – whether it’s Excel classes, reading about current industry trends, or whatever is relevant to you?

    2. Dovahkiin*

      Does your work allow you to take some professional development courses? I’ve been in the same boat before – with a steady job, good coworkers, but with management that’s really resistant to new tech/new skills.

      If you can get your work to pay for some courses to take – do that!
      Other things I did that helped me compete once I left that job was I started freelancing/moonlighting, at first working with a mentor who had the skills I wanted to build, and then breaking out on my own. (I had the time and resources to do so after work). Those freelance accomplishments really helped my resume, and even tho I don’t have much time to do it anymore (I got a more challenging job in tech), it’s nice to know that in a pinch I can rely on working for myself for extra income.

      1. ElCee*

        It does! The class has to be related to your current position, so currently I am taking courses in editing. I’d like to move away from editing long-term, but it’s still something. I should try to take classes that are a little more aligned with my long-term goals, I would just have to spin it a little to get my work to pay for it.

        1. Just another HR Pro*

          there is also a site called Coursera. not sure that is EXACTLY what you are looking for, but the courses are free and self-paced. I took a few and for what they are, they are pretty fantastic. And they are typically taught by professors or other people legitimately in the field they are teaching.

    3. Ad Girl*

      Currently in this same position…

      Are you in a field where you could possible freelance to keep up-to-date on skills that you will need for jobs? I am in the process of trying to pick up some freelance jobs to keep my skills up for the type of job I do want.

      1. ElCee*

        This is a good point! My biggest barriers are time and money, but I really just need to MAKE time, and getting some side money for practicing skills helps the money aspect.

        1. Ad Girl*

          Definitely in the same place – I know that making the extra time to freelance will be worth both the skills and the money!

      2. Mandy*

        Curious about how you got started freelancing? I see that Upwork appears to be popular; are there other venues you’ve tried?

        1. Ad Girl*

          I’ve had some luck with elance before – but sometimes you really have to dig to find a good fit. My city has a lot of really great networking events for my field and most of my coworkers that freelance for either PR or advertising have found their clients through that type of situation.

    4. Jerzy*

      Think of doing more work and your current position and gaining more skills/achievements there, the same way people fix up their house when trying to sell it. By being a better employee and enhancing your skills as much as you can, both in and out of work, you’re making yourself more attractive to potential employers, plus, you can help ensure a glowing reference when you do finally leave.

  4. Crispy*

    I’ve posted before but basically my work situation is so bad my dr, psychiatrist, therapist, SO, and family want me to quit immediately. I don’t want to get into the details of my problems but I want to know experiences of people who quit with nothing lined up.

    I do have a friend I could work for part time. It would be barely anything compared to what I make now but my SO makes enough to get us by until I get another job. In my field I also have some freelance opportunities.

    Tell me about what happened if you quit with nothing lined up…

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        You’re in a bad situation either way, if you stay or if you go — so ask yourself which bad situation would you rather deal with, being unemployed or having a job that’s so bad it’s having a negative impact on your health?

          1. Amber T*


            I quit my first job after college with nothing lined up. It was awful. The corporate office was a mess, a director who thought rape jokes were funny, a CFO who would yell at me when I would ask when vendors would be getting paid (because I was being yelled at by unpaid vendors) but would also yell at me when clients wouldn’t pay us, 16 different types of mold in our office (2 of which apparently could have condemned the building). The people in my immediate office were wonderful and kept insisting most real jobs weren’t like this. The straw (more like brick) that broke the camel’s back was when my coworker killed himself. (He had a ton of things going on in his personal life too, but work stress played a huge part I’m sure.)

            Putting in my four weeks notice was a fantastic feeling, but not as good as waking up that first Monday and truly realizing I would never have to go back to that office. It took me 2 months to find a new (and my current) job, and wow what a difference. I can’t even put into words how wonderful it feels to NOT hate everything (and breathe clean air, and not have to put up with rape jokes…).

            Crispy, if you’re at your wits end, quit. Mental health is beyond important. As Captain Awkward says, it seems you have a strong Team You. Take advantage of that and take care of yourself!

      2. Glasskey*

        Sometimes the decision is actually the hardest part. Once you make the leap you look back and think “why on Earth did I wait so long?”

    1. AVP*

      Okay I’ve never done this but it sounds like you have quite a chorus of people who want the best for you all telling you to get out. I think if you can afford to, you should go for it. It’s also helpful that you have a part-time option, and possible freelance opportunities, so you’ll have something to put on your resume instead of a gap (less to explain in future interviews).

      Mental and/or physical health is hard to come by and not worth sacrificing for a job!

      1. Persephone*

        Also, see if there are any volunteering opportunities in your area. I agree if you can afford to, get out.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My husband quit a job without anything else lined up because it was becoming soooo bad for his mental health.

      For us, it was hard. It was 2009 and the recession was in full swing, so it took him a long time to get a new job. But I made enough to get us by, and he stepped up and helped out a lot more around the house to take some of the burden off of me. In retrospect I wish he’d talked the decision out with me a little more before doing it, so we could prepare together (maybe sock a little extra into savings) but it sounds like your SO is fully aware of how bad things are.

      If your SO is supportive, and you can get by (and do part time work and freelancing!) I say do it. Just make sure, when you’re interviewing for new jobs, that you know how to answer the question “why did you leave your last job?”

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Yes! Practice positive responses to this question from a number of different perspectives so you don’t accidentally find yourself trash-talking your former place.

        1. Tris Prior*

          Sounds like the “I had a health issue that is now resolved” response might fit here, too. It is the truth, after all! No reason to tell them that it was the job causing the health issue.

          1. lonepear*

            It is, but really I feel like there’s a way to say that there were problems at your last workplace that you couldn’t resolve and not fall into trash-talking it. (As an interviewer I’d much prefer the more-honest answer, which could lead to interesting conversations about the candidate’s work style and strengths. Yeah, “my boss was an ass and I hate him” is no good, but “management was unresponsive to issues until they became urgent, so that we were always fighting fires and never working on fire prevention” is an interesting answer that I wouldn’t ding someone for.)

      2. TootsNYC*

        For Crispy, she can say, “I quit to go freelance because I wanted greater schedule flexibility at that time (and now I’m looking for something steadier)” or “I quit to explore an interesting opportunity with my friend’s business.” Those are completely legit.

    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I quit my last job in a similar situation. My boss was incompetent (I was literally spending hours of my day prepping her for meeting because she did not understand the basic duties of our job), the VP who had promoted her refused to acknowledge she had made a mistake by refusing to hire from the outside.

      I was in a meeting trying to work things out with the VP, HR, and my boss when it clicked, nothing was going to change. I just said something like, “I’m done. I’ll stay on for the next month to wrap up projects, but this my notice.”

      Being not so bright my boss responded with, “We don’t need you. Today’s your last day.” The VP and HR rep looked horrified and thanks to my boss’s comment even with quitting, I got a nice severance package.

      I had enough money to float me for a few months, but I started applying right away to things I was actually interested. Honestly, it felt like a summer vacation…it really helped me reset and gave me time to distance myself from the situation. I think if I had gone directly into a new position I might have carried some of that bad ju-ju with me.

      1. Clever Name*

        Go you! You don’t happen to know if stuff fell apart after you left, or your boss eventually got fired, do you? Because knowing that would be awesome. :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The VP and HR had enough on the ball to “look horrified”, I’d like to bet it did not go well for that boss later on.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            It was more horrified in the “we are so going to get sued” way (not that I would have had any grounds).

            But yeah, my boss was transferred and became someone else’s problem.

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          Unfortunately, a lot of the work fell to my teammates.

          However, my boss was transferred to another area of the University doing a completely different role (not managing anyone) within 4 weeks of my departure. Evidently the VP presented it to the team as “her skills were needed” in the new department.

          On the positive side, evidently for the next few days, department heads and other staff from across our area stopped by my bosses office to complain about my departure and that they didn’t understand how she could let me go!

      2. Mreasy*

        Another vote for quit! I did that with my first job in my (small,competitive) industry due a toxic, paranoid, beyond demanding boss. It all worked out though – because her reputation preceded her. Your mental health is the absolute most important thing right now. Period.

    4. Vee*

      I’ve come super close a few times, but it worked out in a different way… Once I got laid off and the other time, I got a new job in time. (I had a draft resignation letter written for the day I was planning to quit and the new offer came through on the same day).

      Just figure out the financial piece of it and you will be fine. Save your money so you aren’t desperate for a new job right away. Despite the stigma, so many people have been in the same boat and can relate on wanting to, that it should not be taboo.

    5. some1*

      I haven’t done it, but if income is an issue can apply at some temp agencies? Temp agencies don’t have as much work to go around as they did 10-15 years ago, but it’s worth the possibility.

    6. Oreo*

      My husband has BP disorder. His job was totally messing him up and his therapist told him to quit it. He quit – got better in a month and started a part time job that he really loved. It sounds super scary but looking back it was worth it.

    7. Helen*

      I quit without notice and it screwed me for the rest of my life. I don’t have references, it can get out how you quit so no one wants you, the only way to explain it in an interview – and they will know from your resume- you have to lie. Don’t do it.

      1. non-profit manager*

        My husband quit without notice and with nothing lined up. In a tight-knit industry where everyone knows everyone. He had good contacts, but had to wait a couple of months before starting a new position because the company he left was one of the biggest customers of the company he went to. His health, physical and mental, was not worth what he was going through. We managed financially on my earnings. Everything is fine now, and he actually gets along well with his former employer.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t mean to hijack Crispy’s issue, but I must address this comment.

        No, I don’t believe you are screwed for the rest of your life. That’s defeatist and thinking that will get you nowhere. People quit without notice and they survive and find jobs. Hell, people get FIRED and find new jobs all the time.

        Are you working now? If you even have something part-time (even something shitty, if you’re working hard and doing your best) or you’re volunteering, you can get references right there. If you do end up having to mention it in an interview, you can say “It wasn’t a good fit and unfortunately, I left under less than ideal circumstances. But while there, I learned X and Y and I’m excited to find a position where I can make use of those skills, ” etc. (whatever fits the job you’re interviewing for, since you should be thinking about transferable skills anyway).

        DO NOT LIE ON YOUR RESUME OR IN AN INTERVIEW. If they hire you and anyone finds out you lied, then you can get fired. So don’t. It won’t help you.

        Crispy really does need to quit if the job is jeopardizing her health. No job is worth that kind of sacrifice.

    8. Connie-Lynne*

      I quit with nothing lined up in July. I had started talking to people but really I just had to get outta there.

      As soon as I announced my departure on FB I was getting suggestions to apply at friends’ companies, even though I said I was planning to take the Summer off. That alone made me feel WORLDS more confident.

      In the end I interviewed at about four places and had a job offer from my favorite by mid-September. I started there in October and I’m happy every day, even though the work is harder.

      I say, do it. A shrink can only help you so long if your external situation doesn’t change.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I should note: I gave a month’s notice. My boss, one of the few good people in my old place, knew about the awful situation I was in and stated both to me and publicly that he was impressed at the grace with which I handled my departure.

        He quit two months later himself.

    9. Ruth (UK)*

      It can go either way, there will be an element of chance involved as to whether it turns out well for you or not so you need to decide which option is most likely yo be best for you.

      I quit a job with nothing lined up and it worked out great for me. I gave a month’s notice, left knowing I’d have a good reference and ended up in a better job. It took me 2 months to get the new job. There were some points however where I worried that I was on month 2 of several years of unemployment though, etc.

      A close friend of mine did a similar thing and it worked out similarly well for him.

      However, I have another friend who quit with nothing lined up and it took her about 9 months to get her next job, which turned out to be awful and she had a few years of bad situations and temp gigs etc before finally ending up in a more or less ok situation.

      So it worked well for me, but there’s no guarantee of what will happen of you decide to quit with nothing lined up. The best thong you can do if you decide to though, I to give as much notice as you feel you can and leave on the best note possible. An upside of being unemployed is that you can take temp jobs and jobs with immediate start dates since you won’t need to give notice at any current job. Good luck whatever you do!

    10. AndersonDarling*

      When I was in the same situation, I went on medical leave for two weeks and never went back. It was terrifying for about 3 days, but then I knew I did the right thing and I was really hopeful that I would find something better. I had finances to support me for a while and I found a temp job in a month and a permanent job after another month.
      When I interviewed, I was honest about why I left. I know it isn’t recommended, but I explained that I didn’t want to work for a boss that did x, y, and behaved in an abc manner. I used exact examples instead of “my boss was a jerk” and I explained all the steps I took to try to make the situation work. I was lucky to find a place that fostered teamwork and fired backstabbers, so my interview speech fit with their culture.

    11. Kat*

      I quit my job with nothing lined up, due to work-related stress. I had been job hunting but with no luck. Then there was a straw that broke the camel’s back moment with an abusive coworker, and I quit. I gave my required notice period, but I off sick for most of it.

      Yes it was tough being unemployed, especially explaining to people that I left a job without another one to go to. A lot of people (friends and family, I mean) were very vocal in telling me I was making a huge mistake. But I used to go to work and every morning fight the urge to throw myself in front of the bus rather than getting on. But the time I quit, I was definitely suicidal. So I am convinced I made the right choice.

      I was in the fortunate position where my SO was completely supportive and also we could get by with just his salary while I was unemployed. I was unemployed for about 8 months, including a month where I didn’t job hunt, just worked with my doctor and therapist on dealing with my work-induced stress and depression.

      I am now employed again. I decided to me honest with prospective employers and told them that I quit my old job due to a period of illness, but that I was now recovered and enthusiastic to get back to work and continue my career development. Maybe some employers were put off, but I ended up with a great job eventually.

      I would say you should listen to those around you and just quit. Yes it is traditionally not a good thing to do, but in some situations it really is the only option. At the end of the day you need to put your health and wellbeing first.

    12. Pipette*

      I quit with nothing lined up for similar reasons as you – the job was breaking me down completely. Fortunately, I had been saving for a down payment on a new apartment and had also accrued a ton of OT (see “job breaking me down completely”), so I had enough money in the bank to live comfortably on for a year at least. The final pay check actually lasted for almost four months because I have a cheap lifestyle, haha!

      I am in a field where there are plenty of freelancing opportunities, so I did a bit of freelancing before I landed another job about six months later.

      The money in the bank made the whole experience pretty painless. But getting away from a job that hurts you is priceless. Good luck!

    13. RG*

      I had savings, and I was able to get a job in two months. Granted, I live a city fairly dependent on oil, so I was job hunting during that first slump last fall.

    14. OfficePrincess*

      I quit my last job with nothing lined up. It was impacting my health pretty severely – previously controlled conditions were flaring up worse than they ever had and I was having panic attacks for the first time in my life. Looking back, I realize now, that trying to hang on long enough to be eligible for FMLA was probably a major red flag that it wasn’t sustainable. Fortunately, by the time I quit, I had an understanding manager (too little too late though) who was able to swing administrative leave for me for a week so I could get an extra month of health insurance. It was tough, since my now husband wasn’t making enough to support us both, but we had savings and my parents helped some. It took three months to find a job (though the first month was devoted more to recovery than searching) and then my start date was 3 weeks after I was hired. It wasn’t an easy four months, but I don’t regret it.

    15. LabTech*

      Once I knew I couldn’t work under Toxic Boss anymore, I started saving money for the inevitable. Rather than try and parse through my resentment towards the job versus legitimately abusive working conditions, I decided to use my boss’s behavior to base my timeline off of. My decision to eventually leave was sparked by my boss having a two-hour long argument with me over an inconsequential detail, where I knew I couldn’t just agree with him without subsequently getting criticized for not thinking critically about my work, so I just stuck to my guns even though I knew it didn’t matter.

      I decided the next time he tried to drag out a minor decision I made into a “This is everything that’s wrong with you, and if you would just see it my way, I could tell you how stupid and incompetent you are”-type argument would be the day I would turn in my two weeks’. To make a long story short, I turned in my two weeks, things got uglier, and I cut my notice to one week.

      What followed was 9 months of unemployment, and abject poverty with no unemployment benefits and only my meager savings to support myself on. Getting a job with a poor reference and long-term unemployment was HARD, especially while fretting over how to pay rent and groceries. But I did it, got a great job (eventually), and went from long-term unemployed to amazing career job over night. And I would do it all over again, even knowing what I’d have to go through.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Crispy, my heart goes out to you. No job is worth sacrificing your health for, none. There is not enough pay in this world that compensates us for our lost well-being. People who were in tighter financial situations have made the jump and so will you.
      I think of it as, there are times where I need me to help ME. If I do not help myself when I need it the most, that is the biggest let down there is. Your boss and workplace are a lost cause. They are a one trick pony, and they are doing their trick. They let you down. Don’t let yourself down. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and get yourself to a healthier place in life.

    17. Menacia*

      From your last post, it sounded like your doctor was recommending you take short term disability, have you been able to confirm if your company offers that (or is it something you have to purchase on your own)? Even if you can take extended sick leave just to get your thoughts together and start making plans to leave why not do it?

      From what you’ve written, you have a terrific professional and family support system, as well as different work opportunities that could get you by, so I’m not sure why you think you are quitting without anything lined up?

      If you do decide to leave your job, make sure you do so professionally by going through the resignation process, giving them two weeks notice, tie up loose ends….that way you can leave without looking back.

    18. Kristine*

      I quit a job with nothing lined up. My manager was mostly absent but would make sure to call and berate me once a day. Some of my coworkers stopped showing up to work (nobody was there to monitor them) so I took up their slack. The company was bleeding dry from the CEO spending money on technology we didn’t need while cutting the salaries of everyone else in half. I was working 60 hour weeks for less than minimum wage, with zero PTO, holidays, or medical benefits.

      I spent 7 months “unemployed”, meaning I worked part time and freelanced in order to pay my bills. It sucked to not have much money but it was still better than that job.

      Good luck to you!

    19. Argh!*

      I asked to be let go without cause & with severance and my company went along with it. They’d eliminated my position and put me into a situation where I was doomed to fail (though I did rather well despite the deck being stacked against me). Also, my supervisor was a flake.

      I was unemployed for 5 months, the first 3 months were spent sleeping and going to therapy. My next job was a deep pay cut but it came at just the right time. I had nightmares about the old place for a few years but I did recover. My advice: get out and don’t look back.

    20. katamia*

      I quit a job last year because it was affecting my mental and physical health, but my situation was a bit different because I was confident that one of my previous employers would hire me back once I’d moved back to where I was living before (and I was right, and I’m now working for them again). The reason I quit instead of sticking it out, though, was because I realized that as my mental and physical health got worse, my work quality was only going to go downhill. If it was a situation where I just had to get over the “hump,” so to speak, I would have stuck it out. But when you have this many people telling you to leave, this definitely doesn’t sound like a “getting over the hump” situation.

      I suggest talking to your friend and firming up the details of the part-time job before quitting if that would make you feel better about it.

    21. Sunny With a Chance of Showers*

      Think of it this way:

      Let’s say they let you go/fire you/lay you off. No notice, you’re out the door. That situation would really be no different than giving notice without another job lined up.

      Do it for your own well-being.

    22. Blue_eyes*

      I quit without anything lined up about two years ago. It certainly hasn’t been easy, especially as my husband has been unemployed on and off during the past two years as well. But I managed to scrape together some part time work related to my field while I recovered from OldJob and looked for my next job. I actually just received an offer this week for a full time job. When I quit I never imagined it would take two years to get back to a full time job, but I’ve never once regretted it. OldJob was incredibly bad for my mental health at the end, and it was the right decision to leave. Take care of yourself. I hope everything works out for you!

    23. Olie*

      I worked for a very demanding, toxic place. The managers treated you like you were on call, berated you for everything whether right or wrong, and even bullied employees. We had a lot of burn-out, high turn-around, and even suicides. Once we had a meeting, and we realized that we all needed to be looking for other employment, pretty much at their suggestion, that if we didn’t like it, leave.

      I had a job offer from a friend, like you. It was a huge pay cut, however, just the prospect of leaving was such a visible relief, you could tell who in our work area was planning on switching employment. It was the best thing I did for myself and my family, even though I am sole breadwinner (single mom) and was very nervous about it.

      I tell everyone that the stress of limited finances is much different than the stress of being at a horrible job with no end in sight. I would suggest coming up with a very concrete plan and budget. I use coupons and rebates in combination with sales (phone aps, print online coupons, and check out the online coupons and sales blogs). I cannot stress enough to cook at home, keeping meals simple and healthy. I have cancelled the extra things that I could, like my gym membership (walking and running are free!) and renegotiated others such as my internet and phone contracts.

      Just make sure that you are upfront with your friend that it will be part-time and possibly short-term, meaning you may be looking for a second job or other employment after a while. It is easier to find employment while employed.

      I think that you will discover that even though this is a big change, if the only think is that you will have to tighten your belt for a few months to be happier, why wouldn’t you do it? Good Luck!

    24. Trillian*

      I quit with nothing lined up when a job I loved mutated into a job I hated under one of the two people who is on my never work with again shitlist. By the time he was shown the door I was unsalvageable — I’d walk into the office crying, shut off my feelings as I hit the door, and walk home crying. There was precious little in my field locally, and I couldn’t wait for something to open up. I went freelance, my former company and departed former coworkers sent projects my way, and I achieved a sustainable lifestyle until I moved. It felt like jumping off a cliff, but I decided that if I could do it and go splat, then I would never feel I had to stay in a bad situation again. Also, I got religion about making sure I had a 6-months Go-to-Hell fund, so while my own psyche might trap me, money never would.

    25. Fluffer Nutter*

      I did it a year ago. My friends and family were supportive and I had a 4 week vacation payout so I took the plunge, partly to flaunt the conventional wisdom that it will make you radioactive to employers, partly because I was so exhausted I knew I wouldn’t interview well and it wouldn’t be fair to a new job. I couldn’t image giving my best at that point. Took 2-3 months to relax, started volunteering, and got hired where I volunteered 2 months later. I had 2 interviews out of 10 applications, and another request for an interview after I started this job so I wasn’t too much of a pariah. If you do it, make sure that you have a good, positive answer lined if if asked about it in an interview. Nothing that sounds remotely bitter, and quickly turn to why you want X job. I’m sure there are good examples on AAM. Good luck Crispy! Nothing is worth your health.

    26. Silver*

      I once quit a job with nothing line up because it had put me into therapy.
      When I burst into tears every time I was asked about work I decided to do some post-grad course work and look for another job in the meantime.

      I would not recommend giving notice the way I did though. Gave one months notice on January 1st at midnight by email. Now that I’m out of that situation I aware I could have handled that so much better.

      The next day my boss was livid but I was so happy to be leaving none of it bothered me. I cried the day I left because I’d been at that company almost 10 years and even when you’re happy to go it’s still hard.

      Searching for a new job went well for me. Since my industry is small and I had a very specific set of skills I had an interview for a maternity leave fill position the week after I finished and had a new job three weeks after with a small raise.

      Ended up staying there for two years on a maternity leave contract which is very unusual. I also got a grad-dip in that time while studying part time (for the American’s that’s two subjects short of a masters). It was the best thing I ever did although I could have handled some parts of it better. I found that I couldn’t be objective about how bad the situation was because I had invested so much of myself into the role. It was really freeing to step back and disconnect from that.

      I wish you all the best in freeing yourself from this situation.

    27. Irish Goodbye*

      I had a terrible, terrible job and I should have quit before I had something else lined up. Even though I had a lot of debts and needed the money it would have been better to get out of there and concentrate on finding something else.

    28. TootsNYC*

      I didn’t quit–and maybe I should have. At any rate, it was hard.

      But part of why I didn’t quit was because I was getting better (in terms of my own depression that went along with the part of the job that was genuinely bad). I didn’t have people urging me to quit.

      I also didn’t quit because I was the family’s sole source of insurance. (That said, I’m still a little mad that my husband didn’t help with that issue by researching other insurance sources, or by working a hell of a lot harder to get a full-time job, or even part-time at Starbucks for insurance reasons. Not fair of me completely, bcs I could have researched those as well, but I was working during the day….)

      And sometimes I think that it would have been so, so wonderful to just quit. To just say, “I’m outta here in 2 weeks.”

      The amount of energy sucked up by all that angst meant that I really couldn’t job hunt that well.

      You really do have “things lined up.” It’ll be fine–you’ll be happier. And it’ll matter. Even years from now, as you can tell from other people’s stories, you’ll be glad you quit.

    29. Ruffingit*

      I’ve done this twice – quit with nothing lined up. The first time was in early 2007. I had worked at a job that was so awful, I had to go on medication to get through it. I quit and then took some smaller jobs before landing a job with a company my friend was working for. Which also sucked terribly and I left it after six weeks without another job lined up. So yeah, I quit without another job lined up twice in one year. It was worth it though. I went back to school, got my master’s degree and am now doing something I love.

      Quit. If so many people in your life are telling you to do so, then do it. And afterwards, give yourself at least two weeks off to sleep and heal before you start a part-time job or whatever.

    30. The Bookworm*

      Do you have Short Term disability insurance where you work & could you qualify? (Due to stress).

    31. Belle diVedremo*

      Hi Crispy,

      It’s good to hear that so many people have your back.
      The one piece I recommend trying to sort out first is health insurance so you can continue to get care to recover from this mess. Your medical team will likely have some suggestions.

      If short-term disability is an option, that could give you some space & time to figure out what you need to have in place (eg health insurance) and how to do it before you quit.

      Please keep us posted, we’re pulling for you.

    32. Wanna-Alp*

      I quit with nothing lined up. I had tried for 8 years to make the job work out, but I couldn’t cope with it anymore and my health was deteriorating. I also had a SO who made enough for me not to need to walk immediately into a new job.

      For me, it was a really good experience. I spent the next few months enjoying myself which included catching up on sleep, domestic chores, gardening, and various hobby projects that I hadn’t been able to complete before. My SO got something out of it too: in recompense, I did a lot more of the housework and my SO got to enjoy a lot of my cooking. After about 7 months I took a half-time job for a 6-month contract, and then had another 7 months off. I kept half an eye out for job adverts, found an interesting-looking one and landed the job.

      It was a really good experience. I regained the most I could of my health and sanity, had great fun getting fitter, and enjoyed life. The only thing that I regret is that the free time I had off was in the winter months, when the weather isn’t so good and the daylight can be short. I could have done a lot more with summer months!

      If you can afford to do it, I would strongly recommend the experience.

  5. Whoops*

    Does anyone have experience with Evolv? For no reason I can divine, my organization has decided to switch to it from Quikbase at some point this spring.

  6. J*

    Helloooooooooo work experts!

    Is there anything to be done when an employer says they’ll be in touch to schedule an interview and then just…don’t? I had a phone interview, they emailed me weeks later to say they’d like to meet me in person sometime in February (it involves travel for me). As February approached and my calendar started filling up, I emailed politely asking for an update. They said “so sorry, we’ll get back to you by the end of the week.” “The end of the week” was a week ago. Are they ghosting me? Should I follow up? Whyyyyy are they like this?

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      I hate that :/ I’d give them another week or 2, then email back once. After that if you still don’t hear anything- keep searching. Good luck! I know it’s frustrating.. Searching over a year now so I feel your pain.

      1. J*

        How long would you give them? And would you try to keep all of February open in the meantime, just in case?

        1. fposte*

          God, no. This is where the relationship adage “Do not make somebody a priority when to them you are only an option” comes into play. And how would you feel if you kept all of February open and then they want to see you in March?

          If your travel would be longer than, say, a day trip, I do think that can give you a reason to bump up your query and make it more specific. I would email next week (the beginning is fine) and say “I’m still very interested in talking to you; I realize you may not be ready to schedule anything, but since I need overnight travel it would be great if you could let me know whether there are particular days that you tend to interview on so I can try to keep some possibilities open.”

          And if you don’t get an answer to that, or if it’s “We don’t have a set schedule, but we’re totally getting back to you in the next week or so,” let it go and make your plans.

        2. Red Wheel*

          I supposed if you are really interested you could do that but that seems excessive. I would just move and go about normal life. Normally.

    2. fposte*

      Totally agreeing with BRR. They are like this because they have tons of other stuff going on and were optimistic about their schedule/funding/other candidate, and that is absolutely ubiquitous, so you will encounter this again and again.

    3. HR Recruiter*

      They probably had full intention of getting back to you but things in the business world never go as planned and more important things come up. You’ve done your part and followed up. I wouldn’t follow up again, and risk seeming too pushy. They may contact you in a few weeks, if they do so they will most likely be delaying the interview so you can make travel arrangements.

      1. The IT Manager*

        +1 I don’t think they’re ghosting you as in a cowardly let down, but you don’t have the power as an applicant to press for a firm date.

    4. J*

      Thanks all. It’s frustrating! Especially since this is one of the major employers in my field, always on those “Best places to work” lists…I will continue to sit tight and be patient.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Just because they are on “the best places to work list” may or may not be meaningful. I do understand what you mean, though. So near and yet so far. Good vibes heading your way.

  7. Cecilos*

    How do you approach a yearly performance review when you’re actively searching for another job?

    Maybe this is a weird question but this is my first 40 hour work week job and I am now looking for other work. I’m nearing the end of two years with this job and have my performance review coming up. Last year, when asked questions about how long I view myself being here, am I happy with my work, and the usual, I was able to answer honestly because I intended to stay as long as I could, was content with my job, etc. A lot has changed in this last year and now I’m eager to leave. If I were to answer these same questions the way I did last year, none of it would be true. So do I just lie my way through the review, about how I’m happy and could see me staying for years to keep my cover?

    Specifically, last year’s review, I asked for more responsibilities and more tasks to do. Even repeating that request several times throughout the year to my supervisor, and offering to take tasks from the co-worker who was given them and actively hates them, my supervisor has given me nothing new to do (and these aren’t tasks I can proactively take on myself, I have to be granted access to technical things only my supervisor can clear). It’s one of the main reasons I’m looking for work elsewhere but even if my supervisor gave me new stuff this week, I wouldn’t stick around. But should I ask again to make it seem like I plan on staying, even if by some miracle they might transfer the tasks to me only to have to give it back in a couple months?

    1. kac*

      I think it’s best to say what it is you’re looking for. A) You don’t know how long your job search will last, and if it takes longer than you would like, it’s better to have the chance to grow a bit while you’re still there and B) If you do leave a month from now, they’ll be able to connect the dots from your review and previous conversations about being challenged more.

      Of course, I wouldn’t go overboard about how you’d like things to change and I certain wouldn’t allude to the fact that you’ll likely leave over this issue. But a straightforward request that you’d like to learn new skills/be assigned new responsibilities in 2016 should suffice.

    2. BethRA*

      Go about it as if you weren’t actively searching for a job – although you might think about addressing some of the issues that are making you want to leave. If nothing else, you can’t know how long your search is going to take.

      1. INFJ*

        Agreed. Proceed as though you will be there for another year, because you don’t know how long your search will take. That doesn’t mean you have to lie in your review, though. Mention your desire to take on more responsibilities, even though you’ve made those requests before, because that is the honest answer to what you will need to advance in your current role. You can be honest by explaining what you want to see improved. Your manager may be able to read between the lines and see that you will be looking elsewhere if not given these opportunities.

    3. Sunflower*

      I think it’s okay to be upfront about some stuff that frustrates you. Just because you’re annoyed about some things in your job doesn’t signal you are definitely trying to leave. Also I think it would be weird if you had absolutely no complaints about your job and company. Like kac said, you have no idea how long you’ll be job searching(not to scare you but my job search was 2 years) and don’t stunt yourself from continuing to grow.

  8. CrazyCatLady*

    People who hire: Can you tell me about the worst candidate you’ve interviewed (preferably for non entry-level positions)?

    1. CV*

      Was part of an interview …panel? (what do you call it if there’s two people on the panel?) I am a woman, the other interviewer was a man.
      We interviewed a man for lower level management position, and he interrupted almost every question I tried to ask him, talking over the last few words I was trying to say. And didn’t interrupt my male colleague.

      1. AVP*

        I do love it when people show their true colors in an interview so you don’t have to hire them and find out later!

      2. Felicia*

        I had a similar experience, except the interviewee wouldn’t look at me, I am a woman, he would only make eye contact with my male colleague.

      3. Ismis*

        I had that. This guy didn’t even give me eye contact, except for an eye roll. He was very unsuited to the job anyway but complained through multiple avenues when he didn’t get it (customer support email, letter to HR and the CEO…). I think he was so bad, his agency ended up dropping him.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My old boss at Oldjob had a candidate exactly like that! He rolled his eyes when he saw her and she said he was a total ass. We had a good laugh after he left.

    2. AVP*

      A smug, angry-seeming person who flat-out told us that what he really wanted to do was something else (not related to what we do) and that he’d be working as hard as possible in his downtime to make that dream a reality and quit our job ASAP.

    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I was hiring for a mid-level (2-5 years) graphic designer. HR sent me a resume for a former Creative Director with about 8 years experience and a fantastic portfolio. I normally would have passed (we’ve been burned by people who just need *a* job, but are still looking for something better), but he specifically addressed in his cover letter that he was “looking to take a step back from management due to increased family responsibilities.”

      Yeah, not so much. The interview was set with me (department head) and my lead graphic designer (design team manager). He seemed disappointed with us and asked why my boss (VP) wasn’t involved in the interview. He then quizzed us on our skills and actually asked me if I was “really able to manage a Creative Department” because my background is writing.

      He asked about the potential to move up, including (I wish I was kidding about this part) how long my lead and I expected to stay in our current positions!

      1. NotherName*

        Yup. Nothing creative about writing. (I find this especially funny because my father is a visual artist and considers that I understand the art process better than most people. Because I write.)

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          It’s so true.

          My boss always said that I didn’t need to know how to draw, but I need a sharp eye for what our client’s wanted. I really think there is something in being a writer (whether it’s the way we read or listen) that really helped me understand their underlying wishes.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        PET PEEVE to end all pet peeves: art directors who don’t understand the value of a good copywriter. And somehow these are the ones who get promoted to executive creative director of an agency. Grrrrrrrr!

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          Don’t even get me started about agencies…I was working with a recruiter and I kept getting rejected for positions solely on the fact I was a writer.

          It was so frustrating!

    4. afiendishthingy*

      My coworker and I were going to interview a guy on a Friday morning. My coworker had a family emergency and asked me to interview him alone. Guy shows up at 11:45, the receptionist says “You were supposed to be here at 11,” guy says “I thought it was 11:30,” receptionist says, probably just in her head, “You’re still late.” I asked her to let the guy know that I wouldn’t be able to meet with him that day, but we could chalk it up to a miscommunication and reschedule. It did turn out he had been calling my coworker, who had been unable to answer her phone.

      We rescheduled for the following Friday. Guy is close to an hour late, again. We meet with him just to say we met with him, and ask what’s going on with the lateness. “Oh, Fridays are tough for me, I’m in class.” “You know you could just have told us ahead of time that this time wouldn’t work?” “Oh, ok.” We told him we were concerned that he wouldn’t be able to arrive to shifts on time. “No, I would be able to.”

      Then it turned out that he didn’t actually speak the language that was required for that position, despite two coworkers remember him telling them that he did. We did not hire him.

    5. Winter is Coming*

      The guy who told me about how he berated his dying mother for having to take care of her, and how she cried when he told her that. My heart broke for the poor woman. He was an awful interviewee in other ways, but that part sticks out in my mind.

      1. BSharp*

        That is horrifying beyond belief.

        Some people make me want to say “Bless your heart.” He makes me want to say “God have mercy on your soul.”

    6. Ama*

      There was a candidate for an administrative director position at a former academic employer who walked into a meeting with the director of another department (on the same level of the org chart as the position she was interviewing for), and basically announced that she saw the admin director position as “basically the executive director position, but for administration instead of faculty” — in other words, that she saw herself as the other department director’s boss.

    7. Connie-Lynne*

      I was hiring a system engineer and the interviewee could not stop addressing every answer to my rack. At one point I asked if I should move to make it easier to look at my face (I couldn’t figure out a professional way to say EYES UP HERE) and he looked at my face, mumbled sorry, and continued to stare at my boobs.

      Later I found out his salary request was literally $150K higher than our top level; nearly twice the going industry rate.

      1. RG*

        $150K higher?! What, does he think he’s a consultant or something?

        (Is it sad that the “wandering eyes” doesn’t shock me anymore?)

      2. Chex Mix*

        What is it about engineering? I had a best friend from the age of 10 who was never, ever misogynist or anything of the sort. He went to engineering school and by the end of 4 years I honestly think he believed that women simply lacked the capacity to understand complex matters, such as math.

        I new that sexism was a real problem in the department, but I was shocked that it rubbed off on him so easily!

        1. Shell*

          I’m not entirely sure it’s a sexism thing but a “you’re not an engineer” thing (though given the gender imbalance in engineering, sexism and this kind of elitism go hand in hand).

          I once knew a (female) engineer who was all “I’m a @#^!ing engineer, we’re the smartest people in the world!” (verbatim quote) Maybe a few years in the workforce mellowed her out to a reasonable human. At least I hope.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That crap makes me so mad. You’re an engineer–you’re smart at ENGINEER STUFF. That doesn’t make you an expert on everything.

            I see it in other people who do very complex work, too. It’s annoying AF. Let’s see Mr. Mathface write a novel. Or two. Or five.

            1. The Strand*

              Moreover, let’s see some of these engineers write technical manuals for the items they’ve designed.

              The dream many companies have is to find an engineer who a) can write well, b) think like an engineer, but communicate like an end user, and c) will take a lot less pay to become a technical writer.

              Finding the Loch Ness monster seems more reasonable.

              1. TootsNYC*

                I like math and physics, and I can remember abstract facts. Maybe I should go study engineering to add to my editing skills.

            2. Tau*

              I have a PhD in maths (I guess that makes me Dr Mathface? ;) ) and I have mad respect for people who write for a living. Writing up my thesis was painful. The end product is okay but ir took about three times as long to produce as it really should have because every sentence was like pulling teeth. So glad I have escaped to a job where the most I have to write is documentation, e-mails and bug fix descriptions. (I do write as a hobby, but it’s a HOBBY and no one cares if I can barely manage to scrape together 10k words over the course of an entire year. Chances of me ever getting a novel together are basically nil. Again, mad respect for anyone who can.)

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Dr Mathface, hahahaha!

                It’s more about the attitude. Being great in one thing is fine–being an ass about it is not. And FWIW, I’ve had many writing sessions like that, where I just can. not. Novels don’t always just fall out of you, though it’s nice when writing goes that well.

                I wish I didn’t have the math LD thing. I probably would have been a biologist or some kind of scientist (maybe epidemiology or some kind of forensics) because I was crazy interested in that stuff as a kid.

          2. LabTech*

            More generally, it’s a very pervasive attitude in the STEM fields (along with the sexism, racism, anti-theism, etc. that I’ve seen from that crowd in my experience too). Well, except for mathematicians – they’re cool.

            1. catsAreCool*

              I develop software and really haven’t experienced that. Maybe I’ve just been fortunate. I am female.

              Then again, usually sexism might have to be pretty overt before I really noticed.

        2. Bagworm*

          This was several years ago but I had a couple of female friends attending the top engineering/tech school in our state and if they sat in the front rows of the classroom, the professors would literally stand behind them to lecture.

        3. Jennifer*

          There are very few women in engineering–probably for a good reason given how a lot of the men act.

    8. College Career Counselor*

      Years ago, I was part of a roomful of colleagues interviewing a candidate for an associate dean position that included student judicial oversight. I asked the candidate to talk about his understanding of “restorative justice” and how he might have applied that concept in previous work with students. Said candidate proceeded to give a very smug, condescending answer (the details of which I’ve mercifully forgotten, as it went on for some time) and then called me out for asking what he felt was a loaded question and strongly implied that I was stupid for having done so.

      I was flabbergasted and thought that I’d possibly misunderstood him (since he did not do anything like this to any of the other people asking him questions) and bided my time until it came around to me again. I asked about something else, and he gave me the same attitude (ie, I was an idiot asking ridiculous questions).

      It wasn’t just my impression, either. A couple of colleagues said, “Well, I guess he told YOU” while rolling their eyes at his behavior.

      Naturally, this person was the early favorite of the dean, so feedback had to be delivered (shall we say) diplomatically. Fortunately, this person was not offered the position, and it turned into a failed search.

    9. Lai*

      Candidate showed up about 10 minutes late and blamed it on our receptionist giving her bad directions. Over before it started.

    10. quietone*

      potential colleague interview – I’ve forgotten the details but conversation got derailed into his personal life and he was just so very angry at the world. Recruiter followed up hoping we’d hire him cause the recruiter “felt bad for him”

      1. Ama*

        Recruiter was tired of dealing with him, more likely. I bet a lot of that anger got dumped on the recruiter when he didn’t get hired.

    11. AnotherFed*

      The very first person I interviewed was the worst ever. It was a government posting, so he’d had to answer some questions and rate himself on certain skills and experience as part of the application. During the phone interview, it became obvious he had lied on every single one of those questions and that he actually had none of the needed skills and experience. Then, when we did not hire him, he tried to file a lawsuit against us for discriminating against him for being disabled. We’d never seen him or been told about any disability, so I don’t even know what it was we were supposedly discriminating for.

    12. TotesMaGoats*

      An internal candidate applying for what would be a lateral move to a different team, who I also happened to go to high school with, told me I had skin like a porcelain doll. She wouldn’t have worked for me and while I appreciate the compliment, it was super awkward.

    13. Chex Mix*

      We were hiring for a mid-level analyst role (3-5 years).

      Against my advice, we brought in a manager with 20 years of experience, 10 years being in management. This guy was filthy. He looked like he had not shaved for 3 days, his hair was disheveled, and I began to wonder if he maybe had a drug problem due to his finger nails being jet black with dirt and grime.

      If that were not enough, he spent the entire interview talking about how he manages people and flipped every standard “How would you handle X” into how he would manage people in X situation. Better still, we called his references and they all said they would recommend him for anything but a management role. Oh and there were inconsistencies between his interview, resume, and LinkedIn.

      Amazingly some people still wanted to hire the guy after all of that!

    14. Rat Racer*

      I interviewed a woman who bad-mouthed everyone in her department (and this was an internal transfer) and put her feet up on my desk

    15. Muriel Heslop*

      – Teacher who said she didn’t want to work “with retarded kids.” It was for a special ed position.
      – Teacher who arrived apparently hungover for a group interview. He proved it when he threw up in the trash can and apologized saying, “last night went late.”

      1. Rat Racer*

        Ew!! EW EW EW!!! On both points!! The first is soul-crushing, and as for the second, I probably would have fainted or thrown up myself.

    16. Lia*

      These are from the same search:

      Asked a candidate how she would handle the repetitive nature of some of the job’s tasks (they can be boring but must be done daily) – she answered she wouldn’t do that, she would get someone else in the department to take it over

      Interviewed a candidate who clearly had not read the job description and spent 90% of his time talking about what he planned to do if hired — all of which were very clearly NOT things in the job description, and had no relation to the tasks at hand. The position was for an auditor and he was talking about event planning. Amazingly, the hiring manager offered him the job and candidate turned it down.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Asked a candidate how she would handle the repetitive nature of some of the job’s tasks (they can be boring but must be done daily) – she answered she wouldn’t do that, she would get someone else in the department to take it over.

        Well on the bright side, she knows how to delegate.

    17. EmilyG*

      I sense a theme here…

      I once interviewed someone for a developer position who (a) showed up 15 minutes late without calling or anything–the office location was confusing, but still AND (b) talked so continuously that it was almost impossible to get a question in edgewise AND (c) addressed everything he was saying solely towards my older male colleague, not me, the youngish female hiring manager.

      My colleague was probably the one who was most uncomfortable. The candidate seemed totally oblivious to how completely he was flaming out. Today, I’m older and would be much more assertive about asking questions and trying to make him talk to me, not that it would change the outcome.

    18. Cube Farmer*

      I was hiring a new team that would include an entry-level person, a technical person, and a lead. Two men walked in and filled out applications. One was there for the lead position and one for the technical. They both wanted to be interviewed on the spot. This was not unheard of back then because these jobs were in very high demand and there were few qualified people to fill them. I agreed and asked Lead Man to come on back to my office first. “No. We have to be interviewed together or not at all.” Oh, this is going to be fun I thought.

      Back in my office, Lead Man did most of the talking. I had already decided I was not going to hire them; because, in addition to being interviewed together, they also required I hired both. Then I reminded them that it was a drug free workplace (it was in the ad) and they would have to pass a pre-employment screen. Technical Man lost all color in his face and screamed, “WHAT?!” Lead Man gave him a jab with his elbow and assured me, “um…uh…that’s cool…yeah…yeah…no problem.”

      Luckily I was able to find people to fill the positions that were not tied at the hip.

    19. NJ Anon*

      Had a few: the guy who winked at me, the woman who’s response to every question had to do with “her knowledge” with no specifics, the woman who had two degrees (think accounting and rocket science) but worked in a doctors’ office and could barely string a sentence together . . .

    20. Brett*

      This person was applying for a technical lead and had every qualification we wanted. The interviewee had made it past the phone screens to the in-person interview as one of our finalists.

      I was the technical interviewer. My role was just to assess their abilities the skills they had experience with. I always tried to build on my questions, starting with simple concepts and building on questions to lead to more advanced concepts and “even though you don’t know how to do this, how would you find the answer” questions.

      I asked the first simple technical question and he very confidently answered it complete wrong. I was really thrown off, but tried the next two questions. Again, very confident answers that were nowhere close to correct. Less than 5 minutes in, and the technical interview was done. The hiring manager probed a bit more, and turns out he never had any of the technical experience he claimed. Instead, he had been a non-technical manager of technical teams in those areas. We realized the applicant might have had one of the technical staff at their current job do the phone screen.

    21. Algae*

      The three of us were interviewing for a position that would be our manager. We asked something about what her direct reports thought of her management style (I don’t remember the exact wording now) and she told us that some would say she’s a “witch with a b”. She complained about her underlings a couple of times after that, too.

      Needless to say, my co-workers and I didn’t recommend she move any further in the process.

    22. TinyPjM*

      Oh…I have a few….

      We were hiring for a fairly technical role, and a woman came in with her husband, who she said could “just walk around the office” while we interviewed her. Ummm…no. She then proceeded to complain about our product and how much she hated it, and explain how she was married on 4/20 and how it was very important to her (a day now known as basically…yay, marijuana day) which I didn’t really have a problem with, but it had nothing to do with anything!

      For a marketing related role, a man came in with his degree in finance. Great! When he arrived, he smelled PROFUSELY of alcohol. I asked him how he would work to monetize our product, and he said “Honey, I don’t know what that word means.” Pass. PASS.

      1. BuildMeUp*

        Well hopefully she got married on 4/20 because of the pot connection and not because it’s Hitler’s birthday!

    23. Rusty Shackelford*

      “I’m not racist, but a lot of the kids in this school district were {race}, so of course we had issues.”

      1. twig*

        We had one guy who, when asked to describe his experience, said “well, you have my resume.”

        Ooh Also, the candidate for CIO who told the Dean of Libraries that he was taking her office and parking spot.
        (one of the options for his office location was in the same office suite as library admin)

    24. Ann Cognito*

      Two of us were interviewing for an Executive Asst to the CEO position, so not entry level.

      First candidate comes in. About ten minutes into the interview, her cell phone, which was in her bag on the floor by her feet, started ringing. She leaned over sideways off the chair, reaching into the bag with her hand rooting around for the phone, while she held up the index finger of her free hand towards us, shushing us/holding the discussion. And proceeded to take the call, a whole conversation telling her caller that it wasn’t a bad time, although she was currently in an interview, but she’d love to meet for a coffee after the interview, probably in about an hour or so. “Does that work? Great! How about the Starbucks at (X street)? Great! See you there in about an hour. I’ll call as soon as I’m done here and we can be more specific about the time. Bye”. She hung up and said she was sorry about that, and where were we before the call. We were flabbergasted, even though we couldn’t look at each other as we knew we’d have cracked-up laughing (which we did as soon as she left!). Needless to say, she was done much faster than she had anticipated! She really had no idea that what she’d done was completely inappropriate.

      Believe it or not, the very next candidate into the room, her cell phone rang in the middle of the interview too! However, this time, she looked mortified, apologized profusely for having forgotten to mute it before beginning, and asked us if it would be ok for her to silence it there and then, to ensure no more interruptions. She was actually the candidate who ended-up getting the job.

      We had a conversation afterwards about how we had just had two perfect examples of how to handle something gracefully, vs. how absolutely not to do it.

      1. Windchime*

        We interviewed a guy who was super nervous…hands trembling, voice shaking, sweating. OK. We thought he would settle down but he remained nervous. His phone rang several times during the interview, and his hands were shaking so hard that he didn’t seem to be able to figure out how to silence it. Oh, and he was way, way overqualified (on paper). Over my objections, he was hired and was a monumental train wreck. He ended up quitting before 6 months was out because he had a problem working for a female manager.

    25. Lia*

      I have another one!

      We were interviewing AVP (assistant vice president) candidates at a university. Candidate comes in, interview is going well, and we ask if he has any questions for us.

      Yes, he says, he wants to know what kind of car we will provide him. He would prefer a Cadillac, but could compromise with a Lexus if that was not possible.

      Our university did not even provide the PRESIDENT (who would have actually been 2 levels above this guy) with a car. We were a not-very-wealthy state school. Um.

      Despite that blunder, he actually got an offer, accepted it, then reneged on it a week later when he got an offer from another school — where I happen to know they ALSO do not provide administrators with cars. I wonder how they sweetened the deal for him.

    26. Book Person*

      Two stand out:

      1) For a mid-level position that had a strong potential for promotion, the candidate who was…ok to adequate in his in-person interview, but afterwards took to his twitter to brag how he had “totally crushed it” and that “when” we offered him the job he’d stay for a month or so while he kept interviewing because it would be a good line on the resume to leverage. Bonus: the twitter feed had a plugin on his blog…which he had linked to in his resume.

      2) For a job that involved being able to travel to multiple customers by car where transit wasn’t an option, and required someone to be able to read maps/plan a route/navigate often labyrinthine campuses. We provide a map and directions to all interview candidates in case they need to commute in. This candidate called almost an hour after his interview time to say he was lost, and asked me to come to the store where he had parked to pick him up. He was close by, and it was a slow enough afternoon that I agreed. While I was in transit to find him, he decided that, actually, he could find his way instead, and so was gone by the time I arrived to get him. Did not show up, call back, or answer his phone for another hour, when he finally showed up at the office. We hired someone else.

    27. dear liza dear liza*

      I’m in the south. Worst candidate came into the office and met someone with the local accent. WC said, “You know, I used to have an accent. But it made people think I was dumb, so I got rid of it. If you work at it, you can get rid of yours.” DONE. It was a very, very long day, full of “can you believe she just said that?” silent communications.

    28. Annie*

      Had a candidate come in about 20 minutes late for interview. Before I went in, a couple of my staff informed me that they just saw her in the bathroom washing her hair in the sink. I was not sure that was information I needed, but they both insisted that, “You are going to wonder whey she’s so WET.” During interview, she …….spoke……..very………slowly………….. and kept asking about being in the cloud. “Is your calendaring done in the cloud?” ….. “Saving files…. is that in the cloud?” (Only much….much…..slower) The weird thing was that she came from a very good referral source, was supposed to be really experienced and had aced her initial phone interview. :/

      1. The Strand*

        That’s so weird, I would assume something had happened to her like a bird crapping on her head, or that maybe she’d had a concussion on the way over.

        1. Adam V*

          I always just assume they have someone else do their phone interview. That’s why I start off the in-person interview with a technical question of similar difficulty, just to make sure we’re talking to the right person.

    29. Lily in NYC*

      Yay! This was for a VP position. She showed up 20 minutes late with no apology. My boss was pissed and asked why and she said she had to go get copies made of her resume. Not impressive. She was wearing a romper (kind of a mini-dress overall combo with a giant keyhole cut out of the back and her bra was showing). And sandals. We are a conservative government office. My boss actually refused to interview her and sent two of his direct reports to meet her first. After the first one met her, he came back to tell the other person it was her turn – but before the other person even got up we saw the interviewee walk down the hall and out the door without a word. The weird thing is that her resume was really good.

      The best one ever was the woman who showed up drunk at 10 am (for a second interview! It’s difficult to make a 2nd round here). This interview was with my boss (same guy as above). She told him she didn’t like the women who interviewed her in the first round, but that it was ok because she would just make sure to only work for him. And then she made eyes at him and caressed his knee. He kicked her out right then and there.

      1. Neruda*

        I’m a little late to the party here, but I was once interviewing for a teaching position. We asked the candidate about a time when they had worked with colleagues to improve student outcomes. He told a story about how he was supervising students at swimming, turned his back and a student almost drowned. The ‘working with colleagues part’ was about how he and a coworker performed CPR on the student. And he began to cry while retelling the story. Why you would tell a story at a teaching interview about how your negligence almost killed a child I will not understand. Following the interview we were all silent for quite a while, mouths open.

    30. Anon for this, definitely*

      ooh. In my 3 years in higher ed and 2 years as a manager, I’ve hired 4 people (mid-level to senior developers) and been on hiring committees for several other manager and senior level positions. It’s hard to choose just one. One experience as a hiring manager comes to mind.

      At my company, internal or affiliated candidates are given the courtesy of an in-person interview instead of just a phone screen. “Bob” was an affiliated candidate because of a family connection. He came in to see the hiring committee for an hour and, uh, blew us away. He swore mildly, trash-talked his current job a little too much, and told a really weird origin story. Apparently his parents worked for the company (40+ years ago!) and had to leave suddenly due to scandalous circumstances. Why did we need to know this?

      So time goes on, the pool is really shallow for this position, and it comes time to bring people on-site. My boss, who hadn’t met this guy, said ‘How bad could he be?’, and my hiring committee said ‘His technical skills weren’t that bad.’ So I said, okay, what the heck, bring him in again, he’s local, maybe I’m wrong.

      He touched himself through the hiring committee interview (90 minutes worth, I didn’t see this, but the guy sitting next to him did), said F**K twice, couldn’t go deeply into technical details, and was condescending and arrogant. When meeting another group in another part of our company, he told the origin story again, in greater detail. I have to say my first impression was correct and I should have ended the interview in the morning.

    31. NicoleK*

      At ex company, a departing manager was tasked with interviewing his replacement. As his colleague, I volunteered to assist with the interviews. There was one candidate that stood out for the worst candidate. On paper, the candidate appeared experienced, knowledgable, and competent. During the interview, the candidate struggled so much that I began suspecting that he used a resume writer as his resume was quite impressive, and he clearly wasn’t. Thankfully, my colleague ended the interview and escorted the candidate out of the room. Candidate walked back into the room and and stretched out his hand. Naturally, I assumed that he wanted to shake my hand so I offered up my hand. Candidate clasped my hand with his two hands and said, “Will I see you again?” I was completely stunned, bewildered, and stammered, “I’m not sure”.

    32. Soupspoon McGee*

      I was on an interview committee for a public relations/marketing position. One candidate had years of experience in the field and looked good on paper. In person, he said his old position had been eliminated to give it to a blonde with (rude gesturing) huge assets. That was not the only sexist, inappropriate thing he said. We passed.

    33. Jen*

      Ugh, I have the worst people I’ve interviewed AND the worst person someone hired against my advice and then I had to work with.

      – Ex employee from our development department applied for a technical role on my product management team. I was asked to do a courtesy interview as he had a good record while he was here. Head of development told me he was “a blacklisted no-hire” in his eyes because he (the candidate) was a “complete prima donna.” HR had me interview him anyway. He was 10 minutes late to the interview (I hung up the bridge line because he hadn’t shown up after 5 min, but he somehow got my cell # and called me directly), had not given HR or me a resume. When asked, he said “well, [company] should be familiar with my work; I know all the systems and basically built XYZ [piece of system not relevant to the role].” I asked about why he left, and what he had been doing since then, and was told “being paid more but being bored.” At that point, it was a clear no, but I was morbidly curious so I pressed on…he told me how I should run my department (I was a VP; he was interviewing for a role two levels down from me and non-management), 400 things the company was doing wrong, why he was G-d’s gift to the world, etc. None of these things were about technical skills, business skills, goals relevant to the opportunity I had open, etc. It was crazy.

      I not only didn’t hire him, but told HR he should never be interviewed again (and the head of development backed me up). What an @ss.

      2. I interviewed someone who was flakey, unclear in responses, and seemed like he was desparate for A job (not This Job). It was for a role reporting to my boss that would be a lower-level but peer to me. I voted no. He was hired, my boss got promoted, and I got the leadership role, with this guy reporting into me. He was late on his first day. He had to travel to get to company training and missed his flight. Then he couldn’t pay for his hotel room (which typically the company pays for in advance, but due to the travel snaffu/timing he ended up having pay for and then get reimbursed) because he apparently was going through bankruptcy and had his assets frozen and all his credit cards were frozen for non payment (or something like this—I got about a 20 minute explaination all this). Then he asked for his paycheck up front after day 2 because was months behind on his mortgage. Missed meetings and then called me and spent 20-30 minutes telling me he ran late in therapy (which he had not requested time off for, regardless of the reason), that he had to have such-and-such day off because he was meeting with his divorce attorney or real estate agent or whatever. ON TOP OF ALL THE PERSONAL DRAMA, he missed every deliverable and deadline. If the dude spent 50% of the time he was telling me about his Life Problems actually doing work, he wouldn’t have nearly as many life problems! I empathize with people in this situation, I really do, but we (not me! my former boss!) agreed to pay this guy $160k/year and it was Just.Not.Worth.It. I fired him after a week. My former boss sent me a note saying, “that was such the right thing to do. I just felt so bad for him I couldn’t do it!” Uh…thanks for leaving your mess for me to clean up, lady.

  9. LotusEclair1984*

    This has never happened to me before, but a good problem to have! I have been offered a full-time position at my current place of employment, where I work as an independent contractor. I am thrilled! I absolutely love it here, and the position would be with the same team but with more responsibilities. It is full-time temp. Don’t have all the details on the offer. The day before my supervisor offered me the position, I got an email inviting me to interview for a dream job (full-time and permanent) in the city where my S.O. lives and where I’d like to relocate eventually. How should I manage having one offer and one interview? My current supervisor is also listed as a reference and knows that I’ve been looking for a full-time position. How should I disclose my upcoming interview at the other place? Any advice is appreciated!

    1. Sualah*

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but you’d be going from independent contractor to full time temporary employee? If you’ll be a temp at the current place, then I’d say there’s no harm no foul in accepting their offer, while still looking for a permanent position. If the permanent position winds up being the one in the other city, then it really worked out for you! If you have a good relationship with your manager, I think you could let them know you still want a permanent position, and still need to look for it.

    2. Jerzy*

      I think it’s okay to let your supervisor know that you are thrilled with the offer at your current place of employment, but you do have another interview lined up and you’d like to be clear on all your options before making a decision. Just make sure of the time frame in which your current job is looking for an answer on their offer.

      Good luck!

    3. Lucky*

      If they’ve only offered you a temp position, then I don’t think you owe them anything more than the normal notice period if you accept new city job. As the wise sage Beyonce once said, “cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.”

      As for your supervisor acting as a reference, maybe you explain that new city job is a longshot, something already in process before current job offered you a (temp, not perm) position and you just want to see how far you can go in the process. Then jump on that job when you get an offer.

      1. LotusEclair1984*

        Re: Beyonce – Ha! love it.

        Would your advice change if I negotiate and get what I ask for in job Current Place? I have never negotiated before, and am scouring this site for all the advice on that. The most important thing to have other than a livable wage and is flexibility with my hours (which I currently have as a contractor) because I’m finishing my master’s degree.

    4. Glasskey*

      I don’t think any decent manager is going to hold it against you for going after a permanent job in lieu of a temporary one. I would go forward with it on the understanding that you are eventually looking for a permanent position as a career goal. Whether that opportunity arises in a year or a week is just one of those things. If your manager is already listed as a reference, then believe me, he or she is already aware that you might be interviewing.

  10. Trill*

    It looks like I will be moving from an exempt job in the US to an hourly, union job in Canada. (healthcare sector)

    I’ve never worked in a union job before (and I haven’t had an hourly job since summer jobs when I was a student). Is there anything I should be aware of going into this? Any advantages or disadvantages I should be aware of. Differences I need to know in how to conduct myself at work? Best ways to position myself to gain more responsibilities or promotions?

    1. the_scientist*

      No differences in how to conduct yourself at work, I think, unless the workplace happens to be small/gossipy/otherwise dysfunctional. If you’re in the healthcare sector, you’re likely with ONA or CUPE- ONA is a very powerful union. If you’re in Ontario, you’ll also probably be paying into HOOPP, which is the defined-benefit pension plan used by most healthcare sector employers in Ontario. It will depend on your workplace- I’m not sure if part-time employees are always eligible for HOOPP.

      I am not unionized but I’m in a healthcare- affiliated field and pay into HOOPP. A defined benefit pension plan is a powerful thing in this day and age. But if you’re paying into it, just be prepared for some sticker shock when you see how much of each paycheck is going directly to your pension!

      Also, be prepared to pay union dues (auto-deducted from your paycheck), which can be annoying, but remember that you’re paying those so that the union is able to advocate on behalf of all of it’s members. Also be aware that in union environments, seniority pays a more significant role in determining who gets promoted (and who gets “bumped”, if there are layoffs) than in non-union environments.

    2. LQ*

      Not all unions, or union environments are the same. The only thing I’d say is be careful of an us-vs-them mentality with management vs union employees. In some places it can be easy to slip into.

      The thing I was most surprised by coming to the union environment I am in now was time management. Everyone is not only very concerned about being on-time in the morning, but everyone leaves at the end of the day on time, every day. If you don’t a supervisor or manager will talk to you, because suddenly it’s overtime, and they don’t want you to feel overworked either. My boss noticed me coming in early (you don’t have to pay OT if someone comes in early on their own and sometimes I just want to get stuff done before people show up) and asked what my least favorite task was and took it away and found another way to handle it. That was a shocker. He wasn’t upset it wasn’t getting done or anything, just wanted to help me manage my workload. My boss isn’t going to stress about every minute, but I know some supervisors do because minutes over need to be paid as OT, minutes under are bad.

      1. Trill*

        I think that is one of the things I’m most concerned about–more rigidity about start and stop time (and presumably break time).
        I’m used to an exempt role, where I had more control over my work day. The focus was on completing the work I needed to, not on fitting the work into specific hours.

        1. LQ*

          I think that varies greatly from position to position. Some jobs and bosses around here are super rigid about it, some aren’t. (But I think that’s true in a lot of places.) Now that I’m more used to it, it is much more comfortable, I go home at 4:30 every day. If I have a bunch of extra stuff I ask for OT or something to be moved off my plate, or I come in a little early. But for me? Breaks are totally flexible still, lunch when I have time etc. If you are going into a job where coverage is really important (like nursing?) then that might be different than if you are going to be hourly but have a job with flexibility (like marketing?).
          Good luck, and give yourself time to adjust.

      2. Bibliovore*

        My first Union job, I did get a talking to for coming in early and not taking my breaks. I would come in a 1/2 hour early to “get settled” and was informed that I wasn’t permitted into the building more than 15 minutes before my shift. The break thing was truly weird to me- two 15 minute breaks a day. they were very serious about it and refused to respond to any work-related questions – even management.

    3. LCL*

      The change from exempt to hourly will be a much bigger shock than the change to being represented by a union. Exempt employees (I am told, never had an exempt job) can put in, more, or less, than 40 hours a week as long as the work gets done. And can adjust their start and stop times. Hourly workers are expected to be there when scheduled, period. If you have to leave an hour early, you will have to take an hour leave. If you work overtime per Canada’s labor laws, you will have to be paid for it. You probably won’t be able to come in an hour early the next morning to make up for the hour you left early yesterday.

      The union may or may not be involved in the work schedule administration. If your work group has anything other than bankers’ hours, there may be different shifts worked within the group. Those shifts may be chosen by seniority. If you have to do shiftwork, which you didn’t say but is suggested by working in healthcare, you are much better off being in a union. I have done shiftwork in union and nonunion jobs…

    4. Sunflower*

      Both an advantage and disadvantage is you work 40 hours a week. Busy weeks you’re either there the the same amount of time or you’re getting overtime. Slow weeks you’re stuck while other people get to cut out early. Have a doctors appt mid-day? Either make up the time later or don’t get paid. It will depend on your schedule and boss how that stuff works though.

      I can not speak about union jobs but i went from exempt to hourly. The biggest thing I’m having trouble with is having to say no more or refuse work. It’s hard because my boss has no problem with it but I’ve never been the type to say no to something if it’s going to take me an extra half hour or hour. However, that changes when you’re non-exempt. It’s up to your boss if you stay the extra time, get paid and do it or if he wants to hand it off to someone else. I am also required to take an hour lunch and am having trouble finding things to do during this.

      It all depends on your position but I am getting a good amount of overtime and I really enjoy that :) I have a set schedule so I am guaranteed work/hours/salary but I get extra on top of that.

      I am planning to post soon in the open thread about going from exempt to nonexempt. I am keeping a running tab of things I am having trouble with and so hopefully these nice people can help me out!

    5. RKB*

      I’m unionized at both of my positions, one is healthcare in Alberta. I only lose about $10/cheque but YMMV since I’m a part time temp. Don’t have much advice about the environment, but healthcare jobs in Canada are amazing. Very stable, lots of room for moving up and improving, lots of conferences and professional development.

      Most promotions take place by hiring through an internal board, especially if you’re unionized.

      I’m in Alberta if that helps.

      1. RKB*

        Also, for AHS there are crazy benefits if you’re FTE. Not so much for 0.4 (like me) or 0.8. My mom has worked in healthcare for 25 years now, and their benefits pay for everything.

        My sister is a nurse and she got her Masters paid through Ontario Health, too.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You should be given a union handbook. Read it, it’s boring, but read it anyway. Don’t rely on other people’s interpretation of what they think the handbook says. Sometimes people will try to help you, “Because we have a union, we do not do X.” Please listen to them. X may seem like a really odd thing to be concerned about but bide your time and you will find out how X became such an issue. Learn who your union rep is, not that you will ever need her, but you should know who she is anyway.

      1. Lia*

        This. I work in a union place, and there are certain oddball things we cannot do because they fall under the purview of the other union here. The big one is moving — we are allowed to pack up our belongings should we move offices, but cannot transport them ourselves, nor load/unload them. Period. It’s weird but we go with it. We also cannot assemble furniture or other items — those are the responsibilities of the other union as well. We CAN unpack items shipped to us, at least.

  11. Nervous Accountant*

    OMG the timing is uncanny. I was going to ask about this all week.

    For various reasons, I usually get ready in the bathroom at work (2 stalls so not taking up any space)…sometimes before I clock in, sometimes after. Usually very quick eyeliner or lipgloss/lipstick..
    Maybe once I did eyeshadow (and I was clocked out at the time).

    A few times my boss has walked in on me getting ready. She’s usually friendly, and hasn’t remarked on it, but I still feel weird when it happens.

    No one has said anything and I wouldn’t be written up over it….but I’m still wondering if this is something that reflects negatively on me. Common sense tells me it shouldn’t, but….never know.

    1. alter_ego*

      I hope not! I’ve gotten ready in the bathroom at work before (like, 10 stalls and 3 sinks, so still totally useable by others) both before work and after if I’ve had plans that require a little more than my usual work efforts. But I guess since almost every single one my coworkers is a guy, I’m unlikely to run into them for them to have an opinion about it at all.

      We actually do have a shower room in our office because so many of my coworkers bike to work/go to the gym before work. So the LW’s issue would never come up in our office. But I can’t use that room to do makeup/hair because the light in there is so. dim. I’m sure I’d end up with a clown face if I tried.

    2. Cordelia Naismith*

      If there’s an additional stall so you’re not preventing other people from using the bathroom if they need it, and if nobody’s said anything to you, I think you’re fine.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Well I use the sink, not the stall. I actually wouldn’t feel guilty about using a stall, as long as there were others. (Although a few months ago one bathroom was out of service so I felt totally guilty adn weird about using the remaining stall for ..u know… *actual* reasons, so who knows how I’d be forreal).

    3. Graciosa*

      A lot depends on what you mean by “get ready.”

      Lipstick is totally normal, as people who wear it understand it often needs a touch up during the day. I’m assuming a quick, business-like slick of color rather than getting out special liner brushes and magnifying mirrors.

      Eyeliner – eh. I’m probably wondering why you don’t do this at home, and I suspect I would think you were less together than other people who didn’t do this in the office and come in already completely ready for work.

      But I doubt I would actually say anything.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Yes, this exactly. It sounds like what you’re doing is fine, but it would look a little weird if you had a curling iron and an enormous makeup kit propped up on the sink. And, of course, it would look weird if you were late starting your work because you were getting ready in the bathroom.

        It’s a know-your-office situation, too. Some offices will have stricter/more conservative ideas about professional behavior, and some offices are (almost) anything goes.

    4. Kelly L.*

      I feel bad when someone is putting on makeup in the bathroom in the morning and I need to do bathroom business. It’s not feeling bad at you, it’s feeling bad for you, like “here you are trying to do pretty things, and I’m stinking up the joint, whoops.”

      1. Anon #2*

        Yes! There are a number of women who brush their teeth immediately after lunch. I go in there for a #2 right after lunch. I always want to apologize preemptively.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I guess it’s just me, but I would not be clocked in and putting on makeup. Sometimes it happens that a person has just clocked in and- whoops- need to run to the bathroom. But if I was putting makeup on at work almost everyday or everyday, I would make sure I was not clocked in.

    6. The Strand*

      One of the buildings where I work, the women’s bathroom – on two floors! – has

      -cubbies for people to leave their makeup, toothbrushes
      -a tray for coupons
      -a lending library – one floor it’s more like a few magazines, the other floor they have an entire bookshelf!

      As long as you don’t have someone checking your stall to see if you’re flossing…

      1. hermit crab*

        Cubbies! At my old office we had a sort of combination bathroom/locker room (there were a couple of showers that you could use if you biked to work or whatever). There were cubbies and lots of us took advantage of them. It is SO NICE to be able to keep your tampons in the bathroom. We never had a lending library, though!

    7. Jen*

      If you are not on the clock, it’s a total non-issue. if you are on the clock in a role that requires you to be butt-in-seat (ie a call center or the like), then as long as this takes less than or equal to a typical water break/bathroom trip, it’s fine.

      In general, if you are spending 20 minutes of on-the-clock time putting on make up, it’s not a good idea- just do it before you clock in. I would also say if your getting-ready routine involves spreading your entire makeup bag all over the counter, spraying product, furling your eyelashes, etc. it’s probably time to figure something different out. if you are powdering your nose, adding mascara and slapping on lipstick, carry on with no worry. It’s standard.

  12. OfftheRecord*

    Are early to midlife career switches possible? How did you go about it? Did you go back and get another degree or did you just use the skills you had and apply for entry level in another sector?

    I’m disillusioned with my field, and have been for some time. At this point I think I am beyond the “maybe its just a phase”. This is the kind of career where you have to be really passionate and love the work, because the degree to work in it is expensive and the pay is awful. Universally, it’s not just bad luck in case anyone’s wondering. I’m trying to decide if this is just life and I have to deal with it or if I should pursue switching career fields to something I might enjoy a bit more and be paid quite a bit better.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I’m really curious to hear the answer to this because I am in the same place!

    2. Pep*

      I switched from Human Resources to Marketing when I was 38. I was at a director level and was married/3 kids/house with mortgage. But I hated HR and thought I would suck it up and stick it out until I realized that it meant probably another 30 years of doing a job I hated.

      I had gotten my MBA years before with a marketing concentration but had no actual work experience and didn’t think I could bluff my way through an interview. Luckily a former colleague who knew I wanted to break into marketing contacted me about a marketing position at my old company. It was just a hair over entry level but the pay wasn’t horrible and the job reported to other former colleagues who knew me and my skills, so I got the job. That was 8 years ago and salary-wise I’m almost at where I was when I left HR, but so much happier doing the work I’m doing. I’ve learned new things and have been slowly but surely advancing to mid-level. I’m respected for my skills, work ethic and positive outlook — which is because I’m doing something I actually enjoy.

      For me it was scary and sometimes humbling (to go back to almost entry level), but I feel like I’ve made up for most of the lost time and (more importantly) am so much happier, productive, relaxed, optimistic, etc.

    3. Lucky*

      I was in your position two years ago and the best thing I did was to go to a career coach. She walked me through what I liked about the actual work I do, separate from the industry & sector I was in, helped me to explore & find the field I wanted to move to, and worked with me on my “stories” so that I was able to present my skills & experience in ways that showed my value in the new field. It was a ton of work, but I landed in a great field and great job and am truly feeling fulfilled, productive & happy.

      If you go this way, make sure you find someone who is reputable and recommended. My coach had been doing her work for 10+ years, and had started in the same industry/sector early in her career. Also, her website had detailed recommendations from people I recognized as leaders in my field. Reminds me, I owe her an email.

    4. Dovahkiin*

      Totally possible! I was in publishing, which is “the kind of career where you have to be really passionate and love the work, because the degree to work in it is expensive and the pay is awful.” I really loved it, but had to switch fields when I moved to a new state w/out a publishing industry to take care of a terminally ill parent.

      I made the switch by applying for a mid-level (2-3 yrs exp) position in a different industry that was in the same skill wheelhouse (press/marketing), but that also included skills I wanted to get on a CV to get into the tech industry (website design, growth hacking). I already had tech skills on the side just from personal hobbies, so I didn’t get another degree, I just ran with those skills.

      Being paid more definitely increased my enjoyment of the work I do and life in general! My new field isn’t perfect, but there’s more room for advancement, the day-to-day is more challenging and it’s fun to be learning something new all the time. I don’t have the “making the world a better place” feeling I did from my old job – which is something I need in my life to be fulfilled, so I volunteer a lot, which is easy thanks to the work-to-live not live-to-work culture in my new industry.

    5. LQ*

      After I was laid off I took an entry level job while I looked for adjacent jobs, but not exactly the same kinds of jobs. (The entry level job turned into a higher level job as I was still interviewing so I ended up sticking around here.)

      I think adjacent/transferable skill kinds of jobs are quite easy to switch into without going back for another degree. How can my skills as a teapot maker translate into skills as a teapot QA?

    6. LQ*

      OH! And as a part of the what do I do next, I did a bunch of informational interviews, which were conversations like how did you get here, what do you like about it, what do you hate about it? Etc…

    7. Lib Lady*

      I switched from teaching (in numerous settings for varied populations) to the library field at age 48. It required a masters degree (only 36 hours) which I completed while working part-time in my local library. The librarian field is competitive at this moment in time, so I am not necessarily recommending this particular path, but it has been fruitful for me.

      Going back to school was a little daunting, but I was always a good student and I really enjoyed the intellectual challenge. I love being in a field where I am passionate about the work and I have an opportunity to grow and learn new things every single day. The people who visit tend to be so grateful we are here. Sometimes I think about going back to teaching, but the urge passes in about 37 seconds with a head-shaking No.

    8. Jubilance*

      I switched from a 7yr lab chemist career to a career in supply chain process improvement. I did consider going back to school, but I already have an MS in chemistry and didn’t want to spend more $$$ on another degree. I kinda got lucky and was recruited by my current employer – they have a philosophy that emphasizes core skills, which allowed me to move over to a supply chain analytics/process improvement role.

      I recommend figuring out what skills you have that could translate to the new career path, and emphasizing those in your application materials. Best of luck!

    9. Glasskey*

      YES. I went back to school for a totally different line of work-in health care that required 2 years of prerequisites followed by 4 years of grad school. I started when my youngest was only a year old, taking one class at a time in the evenings, then building up from there. There was so much other stress in my life that I figured I needed something equally intense to counter all of it, I think. It was crazy. And there were more sleepless nights than I could count. I kept saying to myself, “Just one more week and I’m quitting.” I said that over and over until one day I realized I was more than halfway through the program so the message changed to, “well, I’ve made it this far, guess I can’t quit now.” And then one afternoon I had the ability to save my father-in-law’s life–literally–by recognizing something and getting him to the ER and then to emergent brain surgery. And knew I’d made the right decision. One of the joys of going back to school, for me and I think for a lot of older students, is that I knew EXACTLY why I was there and after several years of working in various jobs, I had the maturity and discipline to just power through when the going got tough. While I’m not so happy in my current job and there are a lot of problems and weirdness working in health care overall, I absolutely LOVE the knowledge I have and hardly a day goes by where I am not still thrilled that I took the plunge. Years later, I still have to pinch myself for doing something that nuts–with no caffeine!–when the world was falling down around me.

      1. non-profit manager*

        I love your story. I wrote below that I probably did not need to get a second degree. But your story reminded me that I do really like the knowledge I gained. It’s helped me a lot in my personal life, although it hasn’t translated into $$$$ in any subsequent job.

    10. non-profit manager*

      Yes, I’ve done it twice.

      First time, I did get another degree and entered a new field at 40. I had many transferable skills and started at one step above entry level professional. Mainly because of previous work experience and skills, I advanced rapidly.

      Second time was harder. I did not get a new degree; was 46 and did not see the point. I had been laid off from the previous job because the work I was doing was completely eliminated by our state’s governor. I tried to get into related work, but was competing against a lot of people with more experience and more relevant degrees. I ended up taking a super entry-level position at a non-profit just to make ends meet and have something on my resume. Due to skills and previous work experience, I advanced to my present position with the same non-profit.

      Looking back, I probably did not need to get that new degree. It cost three years of my life (and earnings and contributions to retirement) and I have a modest amount of student loan debt. Where I am now, I am not making nearly as much as I was before, but I realize I am at a non-profit. We are managing, though, and have re-set our lifestyle expectations and we are actually saving more now than ever before. I am happy where I am, which counts for a lot, in my opinion.

    11. The Strand*

      Yes. I got a masters in a different field, while working full-time. The transition took six years rather than overnight. My supervisors knew I was working on my masters and threw me some extended work that tied into it, and I also started focusing on projects I could do in grad school that would make me more employable.
      In my case, I moved from a non-exempt to an exempt position and got a 50% pay bump, but I know – because I was told so more than once – that my extra effort on projects in grad school really sold me as a candidate. It’s expected that career academics would write a journal article or even a book before going at the PhD candidacy, but it’s unusual in other fields where the masters is usually terminal.

      I really love the work I do. And in fact, I loved the work I did before, but I wanted to make more than subsistence wages.

      I really don’t recommend starting over from scratch in this economy. Why apply for entry level if you don’t have to? You probably have a lot of transferable skills.

      If grad school isn’t an option I would say, why not pick up some part-time freelancing or volunteer work in the field you’re interested in. Do informational interviews – the true kind, not the “I’m really trying to get my foot in your door” kind. Figure out if it’s the field, rather than finding a way to work that suits your personality and life better.

    12. jesicka309*

      I switched fields very early in my career (three years after entering the workforce.)

      I worked in media (specifically commercials on TV) and found myself at a bit of a stalemate. I wasn’t engaged in my work and had nowhere to move, but I didn’t find work outside of my field attractive at all.

      I began reskilling after a year in my role through online uni. It still took another 2 years before I had accumulated enough ‘marketing’ knowhow to actually score a job in the field. I’ve now been in marketing for over 2 years.

      While it isn’t always necessary to do a whole new degree, it can be worth taking some courses to get a feel for what you want. My first degree was woefully lacking in any business type courses (accounting, stats, management) that I really needed as a foundation to move outside of media. But I started off doing journalism courses to a. wake up my brain after 1 year of doing nothing, and b. to try and find what I was passionate about before I committed to the three year degree. It helped me realise that I wasn’t locked into my field, and at 22, it’s really hard to stand up and say ‘I chose the wrong degree’. Through doing those early courses, I found marketing. I was able to continue in my dead end media job, but instead of feeling like I was wasting my life, it helped me fund my second degree, and gave me a bit of hope that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

      The role I ended up getting was a media specialist role in a marketing team – the perfect crossover role to help me transition from media into marketing. I recently transferred internally into email marketing, and I couldn’t be happier.

      TLDR: I know that online study in the US is frowned on (I’m in Aus) but if you can pick up a couple of courses in a field that interests you, it can help you decide where your interests lie before committing to a degree, reinvigorate you in your current role by giving you something else to focus on, and by keeping your current role, you don’t take the pay hit immediately.
      It gets better!

    13. Museum Educator to Corporate Trainer/Technical Writer*

      I did it at 37 with a masters in museum education and over a dacade working at educational non profits. My experience was heavy on developing and delivering courses, including technical courses. The pay was abysmal and I just couldn’t afford it anymore so decided to make a switch

      I did that by first deciding what the skills I already had could apply to and what I could do that I would be really good at. After working for passion rather than paycheck for so many years, I was concerned about a change to something boring or stifling.

      So I did a lot of research, studied multiple fields and options that might be right for me, and settled where I was most interested: instructional design. I learned as much as I could, found ways to talk about my museum work as it might apply to ID work, took a bunch of professional development course and got some certifications. I was able to make a very strong case for myself and got an excellent job at a corporation.

      I’m not doing exactly instructional design but moving towards that. I’m doing more technical writing than anything but also some webex training and creating elearning. Plus get a lot of time to be creative and feel like I’m teaching people something, which is what I love to do. I’m moving towards higher and higher goals too.

      The best part? I earn triple what I earned in a museum at director level. You can absolutely make a career change if you want to do it and are willing to put in the effort.

    14. Windchime*

      I switched from medical billing to programming in my very late 30’s….I think I was 39. I had gotten divorced and was making practically no money, barely enough to keep the kids fed and the lights on. So I struggled through several years of community college in a certificate program and managed to get a programming job at the same medical facility I was working on, and I’ve just progressed from there. I don’t have any kind of a degree so it might be the kind of thing that was possible in 2000 but not now, I don’t know.

  13. HigherEd Frustration*

    In the past, I have written about seeking advice about getting a job in Higher Ed. I’m a recent(ish) graduate with about 3-4 years of admin experience. I just need some more advice/vent. I keep getting ALOT of interviews at the University (which I know is really good and also kind of an accomplishment because I’m not really coming from a Higher Ed background and it is very hard to break into Higher Ed), BUT I can’t seem to get an offer. I have received very positive feedback concerning my interview and resume (both solicited and unsolicited), and have been told more than once that they loved me but they went with an internal candidate/more direct experience, but they passed my info along. I guess I would just like to know what that means when they say they passed my info along? Each department seems to hire independently of one another, so I don’t know how much of a help this really is. I’m just very frustrated because I keep getting “you’re great, but just not great enough.” If anyone has any suggestions or tips I’d really appreciate it!

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      No real advice besides keep trying.

      I have worked in and around Higher Ed for most of my career. Internal switches, especially at the admin level, are really, really common — and in my experience being an internal candidate gives people this over-the-top edge.

      One of the project coordinators at my last university gig had been there 20+ years and worked for 11 different departments.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, I worked in academia for almost a decade, and it is such a strange environment and so many universities have systems and processes built specifically for them, that it is hard to overcome an internal candidate if you were an external one. I think I largely broke in because I was able to convincingly demonstrate that my student work positions (at different schools than the one I wound up hired by) had made me both familiar with academic admin and helped me learn how to figure out the processes unique to specific schools quickly.

        In your cover letter/interviews try to emphasize anything in your background that demonstrates an ability to quickly get up to speed on a complicated process and also any experience coordinating meetings or activities for people that were higher level than you (academic admins spend a lot of time trying to get faculty or higher level admins to respond to things and it is a highly valued skill set).

    2. Devil's Avocado*

      Oh, I feel you. Here’s a story that helped me in a similar situation (I don’t know if this qualifies as “advice” because it is so me-specific.)

      I’ve been working as an assistant in a small non-profit agency, and as of next week will be starting a new job at a university that is a significant step up for me. I interviewed for 8 university positions in 8 months before getting this offer. In each of my interviews, I think the panel was worried about what a seemingly big jump it would be for me. In the interview that netted this offer, they asked what areas of the job I thought I’d find challenging, and I addressed it upfront by saying I think I have all of the needed skills, but that the switch from a small non-profit to a large university environment might be a challenge, and concisely explained the reasons why I was eager to make the change and how I’d manage the challenge.

      I could see a wave of relief go across their faces – one of the interviewers even said that was his primary concern about my fit for the role, so he was glad I addressed it proactively. I think (because of their polite Canadian nature – seriously, we as a society love to be indirect and polite) they probably wouldn’t have brought that up on their own, so they were relieved that I addressed it so head on.

    3. fposte*

      I’m with Not the Droid–in a milieu like this it’s often about aligning the holes in the cheese so you’re there when an opening goes *all* the way through. You just have to keep plugging away.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Love the cheese metaphor! And I think you’re exactly right fposte. I’m not sure there’s much that HigherEd Frustration can do to improve their chances except just keep applying to likely openings.

    4. Bo*

      Make sure you’re not applying for just union jobs. Union jobs are almost impossible to get if you’re an outsider because union members get priority for those jobs. Essentially, if you’re not much better than the union pool you won’t move forward because it’s a lot of work bringing in an outsider. If they need someone quickly they are not likely to go through the trouble of hiring an outsider. Same thing really goes for non-union jobs as well because promotion tends to happen internally. All my coworkers have been in my position. Most departments have small staffs (independent of the faculty and post-docs) and growth happens slowly so that makes it challenging to land a spot from the outside.

      I currently work at a university and it took me a long time to get in as well. I applied a lot over the years (I graduated in 2012) but always got passed over as well. I ended up working in 2 small nonprofits between the time I first graduated until a few months ago. Interestingly enough, my current job at the university I’ve always wanted to work at is a union position (which I didn’t know until after I was interviewed). Last year, I started aggressively applying to the university in May. I had at least 10 interviews at the university in various departments and I think the experience I gained working at my old job was what helped me get more interest. I finally got a job here in October.

      I hope that gives you some perspective. But keep applying! My biggest advice would be to keep tweaking your resume until you land something. Your resume is your marketing document so until something works, don’t stop tweaking it. I tweaked my resume at least every other week (I was determined) and it really helped. The interview offers were pouring in, not just from the place I’m at now but all over. If you’re getting a lot of interviews that means you’re doing something right on that end, but when reflecting on your interview really narrow in on what they liked about you and how you can emphasize that.

      Good luck! You’ll seal the deal soon! :-)

    5. Khal E. Eessi*

      I was in the same boat while trying to switch careers to higher ed. Lots of interviews but no offers until one day an offer came! It can take someone months or it can take years, especially for positions that typically hire internally. You have to persevere.

    6. The Strand*

      A lot of schools, there’s a hidden cultural divide between people who came to the university because it’s a solid, local job, and those who come to the university from another location – out of town, out of state, out of the country.

      Some schools attract a LOT of people who are outsiders, and students who stick around after graduation because they fall in love with the area. Others are very townie-centric, especially among the staff. I’ve worked for both types of schools.

      If you’re applying for an admin job you might be competing for people who have lived in the area for decades and moved internally from admin job to admin job, which is basically what my mother’s entire career was made of. When one of the departments she worked for in her career was eliminated, they put a RIF – reduction in force – notice on her, which gave her hiring preference. She knew a lot of people, she knew the internal culture, so it really made a difference.

      I would hang in there. If you’re at a townie-centric place, the best way to get in the door is to find out about their internal temp pool. A former coworker of mine broke in that way at a previous employer. Once they knew and liked her in the temp pool, people were happy to help her get noticed. If they don’t have a temp pool, they probably have a regular contract with a specific company, and they might have temp to perm spots.

      Lots of people are drawn to higher ed admin positions because of their steadiness, but in my experience, entry level IT positions open a lot more frequently. If you have any interest in computing at all, help desk calls are where it all starts, and you learn a lot about the inner workings of an institution – not just the technology. Everyone relies on IT to some degree so you will know people across the institution. I know a couple of people who don’t have bachelor’s degrees who moved into training, or analyst positions, and they started out where they were by being experts at Excel and Office, or being a roving Help Desk person who was good at installing Windows.

      Another door might be through part-time positions such as writing center and other tutoring spots.

    7. ASJ*

      Maybe contact HR to see if there’s a temp list. That’s how I got in at the university where I work. Like the ones above, union jobs were almost impossible for “outsiders” to get. The “secret” was to get on the (unadvertised) temp list via the employment center (as an alumni I had access) and get direct experience with one or more departments. 9 times out of 10 that’s how you get union jobs where I work – I happened to be fortunate in that my first temp job landed me a unionized position. Several others worked as temps for 4-5 departments before getting in.

      Otherwise I strongly second looking for non-unionized positions as those tend to be more open. At least where I am almost all the unionized positions advertised already have someone in mind – but HR forces them to go through the process.

  14. in hiding...*

    We have a new hire, who I am not a fan of and I know somehow I am going to have to work with this person and pretend that I like/ respect them. Any advice on how to work with someone who has an inflated ego and is not very bright? I wear my emotions on my sleeve and am really struggling to keep quiet during certain periods and maintain a neutral face… I’ve resorted to texting a few non-work friends about it, but I know they will be irritated eventually.

    1. afiendishthingy*

      ohhh are you me? Luckily last time this happened to me she didn’t last long, gave notice after like 6 weeks. I definitely did not keep a neutral face, I drove my family and a couple non-work friends nuts complaining about her, and I also ended up complaining way too much about her to some coworkers. I know, I know, unprofessional. But she was always making crazy inappropriate and offensive comments. She actually gave notice 3 days after I pulled her aside to tell her that 1) she couldn’t have conversations in the office in which she referred to her boyfriend’s ex as “whoreface”, “ugly b****” or “the c***”, and 2) it’s inappropriate for nonprofit human services employees to call government aid recipients lazy. But yeah, I have no advice. You know in Mean Girls how Lindsey Lohan starts driving her friend Janis nuts because all she talks about is how much she hates Regina George? That was me. If you dislike someone enough it can become a bit of an obsession. Good luck.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          I did, the day I ended up having that little chat with her. I was in the airport heading to my parents’ house for Christmas when I got her email to the department announcing she was leaving. It was a Christmas miracle.

    2. Juli G.*

      Prepare yourself for interactions. I had this situation and whenever I was setting out to train her or go into a meeting, I would always take a deep breath and remind myself “How I treat her, talk to her, or respond to her reflects on ME, not on her. I need to let her behavior speak for her and mine for me.”

      And in my case, eventually it did after about 8 LOOONG months.

      1. in hiding...*

        Ooo… excellent advice. I don’t think person will last very long, which is what is keeping me going, but I will definitely keep that in mind.

        Thank you!!

    3. Jules the First*

      Oohh errr! Are you me?
      I have no advice, but will be watching out for answers- Useless Girl has passed her probation (I was not consulted :( ) and is becoming insufferable.

    4. Lib Lady*

      I would try finding a way to develop compassion for the other person. For example, if this person has an inflated ego, I might try to assume that is is because the person is really insecure and trying too hard in a new job. Another thing I try to think about is, if this was one of my kids at a new job somewhere, how would I hope others would treat him? In extreme situations, I have imagined that the person has a disability or life condition that is causing behavior beyond his control. It’s about trying to find a compassionate place when it isn’t coming naturally, in order to help the situation instead of making it worse through my own negativity.

      1. RG*

        This. OP, I’m not sure how much interaction you’ve had with this person, but I’m sure you’d agree that it can take some time to feel “natural” in a new job, even at the best places. He/She could just be trying to fit in and prove themselves.

        1. in hiding...*

          Thanks! For the record, it’s not just about it being a new job… I wasn’t crazy about them in the interview process (but waited too long to speak up and they already offered this individual the position). My first impressions are all being validated one by one…

    5. Karowen*

      I’ve found it’s best to keep reminding myself that their ineptitude is their problem, not mine. For the most part it doesn’t help me respect or like them any more, but it does help me not care. Which sounds awful, but it’s the only coping mechanism I have at this point.

      Otherwise, I limit my interactions with them as much as possible. I don’t ignore them if they need my help, but I also don’t go out of my way to offer support like I would with a work friend (i.e. I have a coworker who had a (low-pressure, internal) meeting coming up that I was aware of and I had a really strong feeling he hadn’t prepared for it (because he would’ve been asking for my help if he had). For my friend-coworkers, I’d point it out to them. For him, I treated it more as a learning moment. He’s a grown-up and obviously needs to learn to pay closer attention to his calendar.)

      Also, as you said, having that friend or two that you can go “OMG YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE” is so helpful. I try to keep those for the most egregious occasions, though, because if I texted every time my coworker did something idiotic my friend would probably kill me. But the racist and misogynistic comments go straight to her.

    6. Ad Astra*

      Try to find and focus on the good in this person. Even if he is overall a complete dud of a person, there’s got to be some positive quality there, right? Identify it and hold on for dear life.

      Also, the combination of an inflated ego and not-so-impressive intelligence often translates to insecurity. So remind yourself that he’s acting this way because he actually cares what you and others think of him.

    7. Argh!*

      I have worked with lots of annoying people. Just focus on work and don’t judge. There’s really no point in doing that. Find what you can like or respect about the person and forget the rest if you must analyze them.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I think that sometimes aiming for liking and respecting a cohort is a bit much. How about aiming for baseline respect. You know, the level of respect any fellow human being should get. The part about liking him is easier to work through because not everyone is for everyone. Some times we just don’t like someone for any number of reasons.

    9. Chex Mix*

      My advice is to work professionally with them and do as you are told with regards to training the new hire. Don’t assume they are going to fail, try to be open minded about it.

      I’m coming from the other side of this though. At oldJob some team members made it clear to me very early on that THEY did not want to hire me and that I was clearly “just a good interviewer”. They did not make learning my job easy, but 2 years later I was promoted above all of them so I guess it worked out.

    10. NicoleK*

      Been there…done that. Hopefully you don’t share responsibilities or projects with her. It’s more tolerable when you can work around someone like that. At ex job, boss brought on someone who was immature, unprofessional, had poor judgment, and unreliable. I couldn’t work with her. I couldn’t work around her. Boss did nothing about it. So I left.

  15. Lefty*

    Just thinking about this and looking for experience/input from others who may have done it…

    I’m considering a move from Federal (GS) work as a mid-level manager to the civilian/industry workforce. Have you ever gone from GS to civilian work? Were there things you didn’t expect (and what were they)? Things you’d recommend that I consider? Pros/cons/perks/reality checks? Thanks!

    1. Mockingjay*

      Is it civilian or federal contractor? If contractor, be aware that your livelihood can cycle around a yearly task order or contract. Even a 5-year, fully funded program can have a hiatus (read: furlough) when the Contracts department doesn’t execute your company’s yearly order on time (because 107 other contracts are also being renewed at the start of the new fiscal year!).

      If truly civilian (private industry): enjoy the lack of bureaucracy!

      1. Lefty*

        I’d be considering non-contract jobs; I actually shifted from contract to GS a few years ago and cannot see myself doing that again since it’s particularly tumultuous in our program. Thanks for the thought though! It’s very true that your livelihood (and benefits and hours and management) can cycle around that yearly deadline.

        1. Caffeine Free*

          When you say a few years ago? Will you be eligible for reinstatement and allowed to apply internally if you decide to come back to the government work? Is it just 3 years required? May be something to think about.

          1. Lefty*

            I’ve been GS for 6 years, at my current level for 2+ (would be 3 by the time anything could pan out)… great thing for me to consider, thank you! I do believe I’ll be eligible for reinstatement in the future.

    2. Red Wheel*

      Did it.
      Sharp adjustment from the mentally of the creator of the work/need to the executor or do-er of the work.
      I did not expect the level of decision paralysis that exists
      Don’t underestimate the level of internal bureaucracy and internal politicking that exists in the private environment. The attention to cost and profit pervades all.
      Pro: better $$
      Cons: longer hours, much less vacation time, other things mentioned above.

      1. Lefty*

        All great points- I appreciate the feedback!

        Did you stay in an industry/job closely related to what you previously were doing? I’m considering it because I love the industry, but the promotion potential is practically nonexistant here in this GS niche.

        1. Red wheel*

          I am in same career field but in a different industry. So fo example, I was previously worked in hr at a government agency that makes teapots. I now work in hr in a company that makes soap.

  16. Meg*

    Happy Friday, everyone! I have a question about working from home and how to propose that to your boss. Our department is small, and one of my colleagues works from home one day per week. Our director mentioned off-hand that if anyone else wants to work from home, we can discuss. But I’m not sure how to bring it up!

    My work is very easy to do from home, and I don’t have a lot of meetings in my job, so I don’t think the scheduling would be an issue. But I’ve only been here for about a year, so I’m not sure if they’ll think I “deserve” it! And as for the initial conversation, I don’t really feel like I have a good “reason” for working from home that I can use to justify it–I don’t have a tough commute or anything like that. I love my job, but the monotony of coming into the same office every day really does take its toll on me. I’m a total homebody, and I work well from home.

    Has anyone had this conversation? Any tips?

    1. Elle the new Fed*

      Do you have regular check ins with your boss? That’s a good time to bring it up. I did that with mine and said, “I was thinking now that I’ve been here X months, I’d like to try working from home on Mondays.” and we went from there.

    2. the_scientist*

      So my employer has an official work from home policy- all employees (job duties permitting) are able to work from home up to two days per week. The rules are that you have to have passed your 6-month “probationary” employment period, and that your manager has to approve your WFH schedule. Employees are expected to stick to a schedule- like working from home every Friday, for example, and to ensure that they can get their work done from home (some of our data is housed on servers that can’t be accessed remotely due to privacy concerns).

      Several of my teammates WFH every Friday. I’m like you in that I’d LOVE to WFH but feel like I don’t have a “reason” (my coworkers have young kids, long commutes, or both). I basically just am feeling a bit overwhelmed with my life at the moment and would absolutely love to stay home and wear slippers and PJs and sit on the couch while I work. I’ve been at this job for a year, so I’m eligible to WFH but am stalling on actually asking for it as well!

      Anyway, I think the best way to approach it is 1) to see if there’s a policy of any kind and then 2) just matter of factly ask and see what your boss says. The worst thing that happens is that they say no, right? And if they do let you work from home, make an effort to be *extremely* responsive on days that you’re at home so that everyone knows you’re not slacking off.

      1. Elle the new Fed*

        I REALLY dislike having a “reason” like kids to be able to work from home. I’m a Fed (obviously) and my agency is really strict on what is allowed and having kids home while you WFH is strongly on the do not list. I know that’s not always the case and a lot of people abuse the system, but saying you have to work from home because of kids is a huge no.

        I do not have kids nor even a pet, and I still love my WFH days because I don’t have a 1.5 hr commute AND I don’t have to listen to my coworkers talking nearby when I’m trying to concentrate. Wins all around :)

        1. jeanne*

          I agree that you shouldn’t need to have a “reason” to work from home, but I think the reason parents often appreciate working from home isn’t actually about having the kids home with them. It’s often because the daycares and schools have strict schedules and the at home flexibility makes things easier. If you need to drop your kid off at school at 8:30 you may get stuck in traffic at the height of rush hour and would get in late and need to work late (probably missing dinner with the family etc) to get in a full day. Or in my case, my children go to daycare, but I can save the cost of 2 hours of daycare time with the same workday by skipping the commute.

          1. the_scientist*

            Yeah, this is what I was trying to get at. To be clear, my company is very pro WFH and doesn’t discriminate in who’s allowed and who’s not allowed to do so. It’s all in my head that I feel like I don’t have a good enough reason.

            1. Windchime*

              I don’t have kids at home any more and I still cherish and protect my one day of telecommuting per week. The main reason is that I get so much more done because there are no distractions. I feel like I get a lot of good thinking done on that day because I’m at home in my jammies or sweatpants. Nobody is there to interrupt me with questions and there are no distractions other than the cat trying to help me type.

              The increased focus and ability to concentrate is a great reason for me. Maybe that would work for you, too?

          2. Elle the new Fed*

            I get it, but I hear so often about it being applied only people with kids because of the reasons you mention. I was trying to articulate that appreciate when it’s given equally to all regardless of child status.

    3. BRR*

      First see if there is an official policy. If your director mentioned it already, then I bet they won’t care if you bring it up. It sounds like they are pro WFH. If you have check ins I would bring it up then or if you catch them asked if they have a couple minutes for you to talk. I would just say, “You mentioned previously working from home. Do you think it would be possible for me to work from home one day a week/mondays/fridays?” The fact they have brought it up it a good sign.

      1. BRR*

        Also you don’t need some sort of special reason. It could be you hate driving. You can work in silence. You can get 30 min extra sleep. You don’t have to get ready in the morning.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Oh my God, I’m tired and my neck still hurts and I read that as “how do you propose to your boss,” and I was about to start frantically typing “AACK! NO! NO DON’T DO THAT!”

    5. Jen*

      I have had remote people (full time) and had in-office people WFH. I think at your next 1:1, you should say something like “I’d like to try to start WFH on [day of week]s; what would you think about starting this Friday and seeing how it goes?” Then do your job. Be online and logged in the entire time. Do not be late to calls. Do not have children or construction or laundry or who knows what noise in the background when you hop on a call. Make sure your team members know how to reach you (via IM, phone, whatever) and BE REACHABLE. Then the next day, poke your head into your boss’s office and ask if s/he had any issue with your WFH yesterday, did you miss anything in the office, etc. Assuming it went well, proceed the next week. After you have a couple of months of one-day-a-week down, if you want to do more, broach it then.

      I cannot stress this enough- working from home full time/on the regular is NOT the same as “school is closed and the kids are home and i’m stuck with them. I will do my best to log in and get something done as not to waste the entire day, but I can’t promise anything because my house will be filled with 2 crazies”

      I really don’t think you need a “reason” per se; but you could always say “for scheduling reasons, WFH would work really well me for me on X day each week”. Who cares if that schedule is not putting on pants til noon? (warning: we make our remotes video in to a lot of meetings! but we are a very remote friendly/technology ready company)

  17. Lauren*

    I’m interviewing for jobs in Denmark. Any expats here? So many things I know nothing about. Please everyone who knows this stuff – feel free to pile on information.

    – How does medical insurance work? Can I have access without being a citizen?
    – Taxes, Am I going to be taxed by Denmark, the municipality, and the US?
    – Is it true vacations can’t be taken for 1.5 years in the EU? Saw this on a website about Denmark specifically.
    – What kind of salary should I ask for to account for the taxes? 30% over market rate for here?
    – Any glassdoor sites for EU countries with salary info?
    – How about apartment hunting? Do I need a lawyer for the contract?
    – How long are work contracts usually for?
    – What can I negotiate for relocation expenses? Flights, moving costs? What is acceptable?

    I’m giving a presentation next week for a 2nd round interview, and I want to know what interviewers look for when it comes to work culture too. Denmark is very team oriented and flat hierarchy so I am happy about that, but what tips would you have for speaking to EU interviewers?


    1. Tau*

      So I can’t help you with most of this, because I have never lived in Denmark, haven’t actually lived in the US since I was a kid and am a dual US/EU citizen so a lot of stuff doesn’t apply. HOWEVER, taxes I have looked into and know something about:

      You do have to file US tax returns as a US citizen even if you’re living abroad. However, if you’re genuinely living and earning money abroad, you can exclude up to a certain amount of your earnings from US taxes automatically. I believe that amount is around $100k, so if you’re earning less than that, it’s pretty easy and no taxes need to be paid. If you are earning more than $100k per year (lucky!), it gets more complicated – there’s a thing where you can offset tax paid in the foreign country against the taxes you would be paying in the US and if it comes out to more (which it will generally do in the EU) you don’t have to pay any US taxes, but apparently this gets pretty tricky especially combined with excluding income up to the boundary from taxes and you probably want to talk to some sort of tax advisor to hash it out.

      I’d also be surprised if you needed a lawyer for the apartment contract, but that’s me extrapolating from the UK and Germany somewhat so take it with a grain of salt.

    2. kanelsnegle*

      I am an EU citizen and have been living in Denmark for about 2 years (moved for a job). I will try and help a little if I can –
      – You will be entitled to public health insurance as soon as you register and get your CPR number and yellow health insurance card. You will need your CPR number for everything, from opening a bank account to renting a flat. Registering is one of the first things to do. My company provided help with this.
      – Taxes: not my strong point, but if you are a resident here and are working here I believe you would have to pay taxes to Denmark
      – for salary, I take home about 61% of what I own in brut salary every month – so 39% taken of. This number includes what I contribute to my pension. The percentage depends in what income band you are.
      – Where did you hear that about the 1.5 years? It is not something I have ever heard about. I got 18 vacation days my first year of employment then about 25-30 days the second year. This is purely holidays, sick leave is not included in those days.
      – If you are thinking of living in Copenhagen, then be warned that apartment hunting is hard. It can take months (3 seems to be average) and be prepared to give 2-3 months of rent upfront as a deposit. As far as I hear, it is easier in the rest of Denmark. My company provided me with a flat for 3 months when I moved here to give me time to find my own.
      -You do not need a lawyer to sign the rental contract.
      – Contracts tend not to be for a set period (unless there are particular circumstances that make the job temporary, for example a maternity leave cover which would normally be a year contract).
      – My company paid for the relocation of my furniture – but it was from another country in the EU, I am not sure what you could ask for from the US.
      Just as an aside, you can get free danish courses for up to 3 years after moving, it is a great way to meet people and provides a subject of conversation with Danish colleagues (it is quite hard to pronounce I find)
      I hope this helps a little

      1. Lauren*

        Thank you all!

        I’ve heard about an expat tax of 25% for the first 3 years, but it does sound like its related to income in a way and goes up to 44%. In the US, I would be at $115,000 for salary, but not sure what that is for there. Any ideas on how to find Denmark salary averages by industry? Or is it x% more or less depending on origin. I will likely qualify for the pay limit visa so I’m hoping things will go well. The company operates in English, and I’ve already been fast tracked to a group interview that I had today, and for a presentation interview for 2 weeks from now.

        Everywhere i look, I see 5 weeks entitled, but not able to use for 1 year at least depending on when you start the job, and if you start before May 1 or after. So I need to be employed for a full year, then I can use it when the next May 1 comes around. If I start in January 2016, I am not eligible until May 2017. But if start May 2, I am not eligible until Mary 2018. I wish it would accrue and let me take as I can.

        I’m not taking furniture. I will likely sublet a furnished place until I can find a place that I like – then buy some furniture. I know about the 3 month of rent upfront, so I am ok with that. What about credit checks for apartments?


        1. Kanelsnegl*

          I was curious so I checked my contract, I got 3 days of holidays in the first 4 months then 15 days from begging of month 5. The rest of the holiday days were accrued over the next 9 months. I realize this is a very specific example – from what I read the holidays are accrued at a rate of about 2 per month as per the Danish agreement. Probably an expat group could be of more help.
          I only learnt about credit scores while reading AAM and other blogs – for renting a flat all I was asked for was a proof of employment, my cpr number and 3 months salary.

    3. Caffeine Free*

      Take the time to look up “US Denmark tax treaty”. Then check out blogs and forum posts on the tax issue.

      My experience as an expat in another EU country was similar to Tau’s, in that you will have to file US taxes. I did not owe US income tax due to being under the income amount stated (~100k) but as a self employed person I did pay SS. I also paid taxes in my country of residence. Looking up the specific tax treaty for Denmark would be a good place to start to figure this stuff out.

      What you reference about vacations does not apply across the board to the EU. If it has something to do with Denmark that would be a different story.

      Perhaps you could look for a local expat group on fb or elsewhere that might be better equipped to answer your questions as they are all pretty location specific.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I don’t know about Denmark, but I live in another EU country and there are various expatriate associations. Some of them produce “How to relocate here and not go completely bonkers” guides, so I would suggest trying to see if there is an equivalent.

      2. Worker Bee Germany*

        Regarding Taxes. From personal experience I can recommend the website taxback dot com. I am not an expert but I am certain that you’ll pay taxes in Denmark. The website helps you claim them back when you return home. They charge a percentage (I think it was about 12%, but it was 3 years ago, so it might have changed) of the amount they will get back for you. For me it was totally worth every cent not having to deal with it. The only downside to it was that if I had to talk someone (everything is done through an online system and emails) I had a hard time understanding them bc both calls I made were answered by Eastern European or maybe Russian staff. Very heavy accent…

  18. Jerzy*

    Here’s a somewhat work-related question for you fine people: How do you figure out where to live when both people in the relationship work, and have kids? My husband bought our current house based on where he had been working at the time, and 4 months later lost that job and ended up working closer to where he had been living before. His current commute is awful, and we’re thinking of moving soon anyway, and he’d like to find a way to shorten his commute. That would almost certainly mean moving up to 30 or 40 minutes from where we are now.

    My opinion is that because of our son (and hopefully other kids in the near future), I prefer to put more weight on the fact that we live near family who are more than willing to help out when needed.

    Anyone have any advice on this one? We’ve been back and forth a million times on where we should move, and there just seems to be no easy solution.

    1. Sualah*

      Is there a way to help with his commute that isn’t necessarily shortening it? I mean, are there any sorts of public transport he could take? I moved technically closer to my work when I bought a house, but now there are no convenient buses/bus stops, so I have to drive instead of taking the bus, and it’s really a bummer. It was great to decompress and not worry about traffic or wear and tear on my car. So if you look for a house that’s closer to a park and ride sort of situation, but still close to family, that could be a compromise.

      1. Jerzy*

        It’s funny that you mention that. One location he recently brought up would move us closer to a ferry that, while doesn’t take him close to his current office, could take him to the HQ and would have the potential for other locations in and near the city, should he start looking for another job. This town is also closer to my parents than we had been looking and still close enough to my current place of work.

      2. Clever Name*

        In the last city we lived in we moved to a location closer to my work, but the commute ended up taking longer due to traffic than where we lived before, so that sucked. So take into consideration traffic patterns. A greater distance may actually be faster because you can take a less-crowded highway rather than deal with stop-and-go surface road traffic.

    2. Kenzie*

      When we moved, we found a spot that is further from my husbands work than mine (25mi vs 15mi) but his route to work on the turnpike takes just as long as my shorter route in traffic. Can you take a look at possible commuting conditions and see if you can find a place that is near the middle in terms of drive time, not distance?

      Also how important is the fact that family are close? Do they watch your son every day afterschool, or is it more of a emergency/school closing type situation? And how would a possible 30min drive affect them helping out?

    3. TotesMaGoats*

      Speaking from experience, if the next place you are moving to would be during school years, I would base it on school district quality first then proximity to helpful family members. That was the biggest part of the purchase of our current home. It’s in a fantastic school district. At the time I was 15 minutes from my office. Now I’m almost an hour away. So, that sucks. Also at the time, my retired in-laws were 15 minutes away too. Now they are an hour and a half but grandma doesn’t mind driving down to help for any reason.

      1. Marketeer*

        I second checking the school district. I have a long commute so while I’m looking for something closer to my job, I always check the district first.

    4. IT_Guy*

      IMHO, it’s all about the kids. Find the best school in the area that is a reasonable drive, and look there. We lucked out and are living in a really small semi-rural school that has awesome academic ratings. The downside is that it’s on the edge of the city and I spend waaaaaay to much time commuting. It’s worth it though.

    5. BSharp*

      Oh, that’s hard. My husband and I are looking to be within walking distance of close friends—there’s a clump of 10 families we know in an older (read: affordable) neighborhood in a good school district. But it means his commute goes up, and we’re further from family and church.

      For us, we want our future kids to be able to walk alone to visit friends, and to be able to literally pop next door to borrow a cup of sugar or have a cup of tea. We already have to drive to work/family/grocery stores, so the slight increase isn’t a big deal.

      But, commuting gets really expensive. 2x/day, usually 5 days a week, gas + car maintenance + wear & tear + sometimes insurance increases. But his time and stress level is the biggest cost. That’s just brutal. For us, since we share one car, it will mean two hours a day in the car for me if I need to drop him off.

      We’re going for it, because he only works 3 days a week, and we don’t know that he’ll have this job forever. But it is really, really tricky.

    6. Clever Name*

      Are you okay with your kids changing schools? What is your commute like? Are they in opposite directions/across town from each other? What about daycare? There are so many moving parts to this type of decision- it’s tough!

      When husband and I decided to move, we knew we wanted to keep our son at his current school. Luckily our district is really flexible about “choicing” into schools outside of your neighborhood, so we didn’t have to stay in our old neighborhood (which we didn’t want to stay in). But, we still needed to be a reasonable distance from his school. We ended up moving to a house that increases husband’s commute by like 5 minutes but shortened my commute by 10. And it’s 10 mins from son’s school. Luckily both our commutes are pretty awesome, as it takes me 20 mins to get to work and it probably takes husband about the same. I totally understand wanting to reduce the commute time, but consider whether you think you’ll be at your house longer than your husband will be at his job. That’s another consideration as well.

    7. LCL*

      30 or 40 minutes? If you are in the US, and you are talking 30 or 40 minutes by car, to go visiting, that’s practically nothing. Family can still help out, if the drive is that short. I don’t have kids. We did buy our house based on minimizing our commutes, because that 30 or 40 minutes extra every day really adds up. But if you are just worried about being closer for visits, I would go with the move. Assuming that closer for his job doesn’t mean farther away for yours.

    8. A Non E. Mouse*

      Totally second (third? fifth now?) the comment to worry about school district, then family, then commute. In that order. That is precisely the degree in which my life can fall apart/I can fix it each morning or afternoon with my three children.

      As for the commute itself, I also agree that you would need to worry less about actual distance, and more about available routes and how long those routes actually take/what those commutes are actually like. An hour commute to travel 20 miles in traffic is awful, but an hour commute to travel 45 miles of highway with city streets on either end…not as terrible, and certainly not as stressful.

  19. Ineloquent*

    My coworker is recently back from successfully beating back a bout of cancer with radiation treatments. I feel like a horrible person because I’m irritated that she seems to have forgotten everything she needs to know to do her job, and she is a glacially slow learner. She’s producing less than a tenth of the output she should be handling a month after her return, and is monopolizing huge chunks of the teams time to train and retrain her in the work she does. She takes extensive notes, but it doesn’t seem to help.

    I really feel terrible for being so grouchy about the whole thing, but I can’t be taking on all the work she’s not doing. I’m already at max capacity, and I need to train her in additional, harder tasks before the summer when I will be going on maternity.

    Does anyone here have experience coming back from cancer treatment with chemo brain? Is there anything that you found that is helpful to you that I can try here?

    1. Temperance*

      No advice on “chemo brain”, but I used to work at a place where my counterpart just did NOT retain information and constantly asked me how to do tasks that he should have learned. I referred him to the manual. Can you do that with your coworker?

      1. Ife*

        I am that person who can’t retain information, even without chemo! However, nobody has ever noticed because I take copious, extensive notes and save all my emails, etc. If I don’t remember something, I take a look through my notes, and usually I have the procedure documented with screenshots and details of “on the X screen, choose option A, not option B.”

        I’m not sure if there’s a way to suggest it to the coworker or a manager, but perhaps if there is not an existing manual, the recovering coworker could create one by taking notes? I don’t know how I would start that conversation, though.

        1. Ineloquent*

          She does. Even with these notes, a transaction that takes me 15 minutes or less to accomplish is taking her a day and a half. This is not an exaggeration. When a situation arises that isn’t in her notes, she freezes up and takes no action – not looking in her emails or the job aids I’ve created, or even asking me, usually. I think this last bit is mostly that she’s hesitant to interrupt the work I’m doing, even though I’ve told her to please do so if she needs help. She doesn’t start any other work while she’s stuck either – as far as I can tell it’s totally lost time. I’ve taken to stopping over at her desk daily to see if she has any open concerns.
          I realize that I’m kind of painting her in a bad light, but these are issues that are legitimately true. She’s super nice, handles certain minor aspects of her job splendidly, and has more than 30 years of experience in a related field. It turns out that the experience didn’t translate as well as we’d hoped when we hired her. The aspects she’s struggling in are key tasks, which can’t be pushed to others, put off, or ignored. Failure to do them in a timely fashion that’s compliant with law could cost my company incredible sums of money.
          I don’t want to give her up as a lost cause, but the obvious options aren’t working well, I have no real authority over her, my managers aren’t connected in enough to see the problem and address it, and there’s a really serious business need that’s going to be a huge problem. I know the answer is to let people fail sometimes, but I really do want to help.

        2. Jinx*

          I created an organizational system on OneNote shortly after starting my current job, and it saves my life on a daily basis. I have notes on systems I’m working on, lists of problems I’ve run into and how I solved them, how-tos about complex things I don’t do very often, you name it. People think I have a good memory, when what I actually have are really good notes.

    2. LotusEclair1984*

      What was she like as a coworker before radiation treatments? You feel guilty about your frustration, which is a good indication that you do have a moral compass. But from a rational perspective, your need to train her before your maternity leave might not align with her ability to retain information and receive training in her current condition/disability. Have you discussed the possibility of getting additional help with your manager?

    3. fposte*

      I’m with the very delicious LotusEclair–raise this with your manager. “Jane is understandably still nowhere near 100%, and I can’t stretch thin enough to cover what her position needs; I’m also concerned about the need for her to take on my workload when I’m out on leave when she’s already struggling. Can we get some workload help until she’s back up to speed?”

    4. Ineloquent*

      Unfortunately, there isn’t a manual, exactly. I’ve written work instructions for her before that are very detailed, but she just doesn’t use them. Prior to the cancer treatment, she was already a very slow learner, but now retention and confidence seem to be further deteriorating her ability to pick this up. She is also practically computer illiterate, which complicates the issue.

      I’ve raised the staffing issue with my management team, and I’m trying to do it both truthfully and diplomatically, but I don’t think they’re understanding the severity of the problem. I have no on-site management, you see, so I’m stuck in a pseudo-supervisory role without the additional pay or authority that comes with it. I’ve been told that I’ll get an additional head, but I’m not sure if they mean that they’ll be making my contractor a full time employee (which really won’t assist with the workload issue, since it’s not really additional hands) or if they hire another person to pick up slack. If they do, I will have to train them from scratch since this is a specialized niche field with few qualified folks, and fewer still who will relocate to my city. Basically, it comes down to if we do hire someone, it needs to be before March in order to have them adequately trained to handle the most basic tasks before I leave on June 2.
      In the event that I don’t get the staff I need in time (which is depressingly likely), I’d like to get this employee to the point where she at least won’t be a drain on the department’s really short resources, but my training methods (showing and reshowing) don’t seem to be working. I don’t have much extra time to spend on her either, so I really don’t know what to do. I don’t want her to lose her job, certainly, though right now she’s not looking like a great fit.

      1. Granite*

        Tough situation. Is there another department where she might be a better fit? From your description, it sounds like she knows she’s not a good fit, but between still feeling unwell and lacking confidence is unlikely to be successful moving on on her own. If she would likely do better in a different position, it would be kind of the company to offer to transfer her. And perhaps your management would be more responsive if you could give them a specific suggestion like that? Wish I had a better suggestion. It’s good of you to be patient, but you can only go so far and still keep the business running.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Managers need to realize that the problem will impact the bottom line–you mentioned that not completing the tasks she needs to do could cost the company huge amounts of money? I’d frame it this way. I like Granite’s suggestion about suggesting a transfer, also. But management needs a fire lit under them, it seems.

  20. Bo*

    I currently work as an admin secretary at a university and I just landed a job interview in another department in the area of development. I had a phone interview yesterday and it went really well. She asked me to come in for an in-person interview right on the spot. I really hope it comes through but I’m still a little worried.

    I have been feeling stuck for a long time and I am just tired of being an admin. I’ve only been working in my current department for about 3 months. While I generally enjoy my coworkers, the faculty, students, and my boss is pleasant most of the time, I’m just terribly frustrated with the lack of trajectory in my career and I want & need to move on. Going into this job, I knew this would just be my foot in the door because I was desperately trying to find something secure so I could quit my last job. I’ve always wanted to work at this school, just not necessarily in this role.

    I feel a little worried though because I want to be able to leave on a positive note but given my research about how to go about leaving a job early, I’m concerned that may not be possible. I’ve read so many articles that say it will reflect poorly on you to leave a job so soon. That’s even said here on this blog. They say you should just stick it out for a minimum of a year or longer. But I really don’t have time for that! I’m not getting any younger and as I get older and see life pass me by (I’m in my mid 20’s), I have come to the understanding that life is too short to stay stuck and I’ve done that too many times for far too long. I’ve seen others do it as well and I don’t want that for myself anymore. I guess I know what I want to do, I’m just concerned about how it will impact other people (like my boss, my coworkers).

    I haven’t gotten the job yet or anything, but it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about this now.

    1. super anon*

      would you be doing an internal transfer to another position within the same org? in that case, i think it would be seen differently. in my dept (also at a uni) it’s common for people to get hired as our receptionist and then move to a different role within the dept after a short amount of time. there’s currently 3 people working in different roles here who started out at the reception desk.

      1. Bo*

        Yes it’s at the same (rather large) organization but just in a different department. I guess that qualifies as an internal transfer, or maybe a semi-internal transfer.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      As a hiring manager, I have always seen internal transfers/promotions as a good thing!

    3. Dawn*

      I say this with gentleness and with love, because I have been there. I hope that my reputation as a commenter on this site will help you understand where I’m coming from when I say this:

      You need to take a serious step back and slow your roll. Leaving your position after three months will absolutely make you look like a flake no matter how you handle it. It sounds like you’re new to working in this workplace entirely, which will doubly make you look like a flake because you haven’t built a reputation there yet.

      “lack of trajectory in my career”- You say you’re in your mid-20s. Your career is just starting, and unless you’re doing something that has an absolute clear-cut trajectory (like a tradesman where it goes apprentice- junior- senior- lead) you have no idea about how your career is going to pan out.

      I completely and totally get that you’re feeling stuck right now. Everyone feels like that in their jobs at some point, some people feel like that for a long time. Getting where you want to go from where you are now is NOT going to just be handed to you, it’s not something that’s going to happen because you ask for it, and it’s not something that’s going to happen because you hop on to the next new and shiny job as soon as the polish wears off- that might not be what you do, but the way you describe feeling stuck at a lot of places and feeling stuck now it sounds like as soon as the novelty wears off and you get down to the day-to-day stuff you lose your enthusiasm and want something new and shiny.

      Everyone has to slog in a job. EVERYONE. Everyone has jobs where it feels like a chore. Everyone’s had to put in their dues and show up even though they don’t want to at some point in their career. I’m not talking about putting up with an abusive job or anything like that, or just grinning and bearing it when you’ve been there five years and there’s no chance of growth or change. I’m talking about understanding that after three months on a job the novelty wears off and you’re going to have to face the fact that it’s a slog sometimes.

      If you get this other position and leave your current job after 3 months it will absolutely poison everyone’s opinion of you. That might not bite you in the butt later… but chances are it will. You’re not currently “stuck”- it sounds more like you’re going through a quarter life crisis and wanting a more bohemian Urban Outfitters catalogue of a life and are kinda pissed that reality is way more like a late-night infomercial most of the time.

      I get it. I feel ya. When I was in my mid-20s I was doing something completely unrelated to my degree after finding out that I hated the field my degree was in and felt like I had be totally screwed over by life and wasn’t ever going to get anywhere. Now I’m in my early 30s and am going into my fifth year in a career I never even imagined myself being in and which I ended up in by accident. How did I end up in this career? I got a job at a company that saw potential in me because 1- I had great references from all the other slog jobs I’d ever done where I showed up with a smile on my face anyway and made a fantastic impression on everyone and 2- I showed great competency at the day to day slog of the job I’d been hired for and when a permanent position opened up I was given the choice of growing the slog job I’d been hired for or going and helping another growing division with something else new. I took the “something else new” job, slogged through the growing pains associated with that, and now (four years later) I’m at a different company with a ton more responsibility, great visibility, learning all kinds of stuff, and with a clear idea of where I want to go from here and how I’m going to get there. AND IT’S STILL A SLOG 60% OF THE TIME.

      Bottom line- no, don’t leave after 3 months. It’s a bad idea, there’s a reason everyone says it’s a bad idea. Deal with the slog, do a kickass job at the slog for at least a year (preferably 2), impress the pants off of everyone, and *then* start thinking about moving on to something else. You’re not stuck- you’re just in your mid-20s. Everyone feels stuck in their mid-20s.

      1. Bo*

        “You’re not currently “stuck”- it sounds more like you’re going through a quarter life crisis and wanting a more bohemian Urban Outfitters catalogue of a life and are kinda pissed that reality is way more like a late-night infomercial most of the time.”

        Well, that’s rude. This is not how I would characterize myself at all, nor would anyone that knows me or my work ethic. I’m not naive and I don’t expect anything to be handed to me. I’m not some entitled millennial with grandiose expectations of having some cushy job with an office and a company car by my current age. I’ve had my share of slog experiences (professionally, in education and in life in general). As a Black woman in America, I can make the argument that most of my life thus far has been a slog. So I really resent this characterization and attitude towards my comment. Furthermore, I have no reason to take what you had to say with any gentleness or love because I don’t know you (or care about your reputation as a commenter) and you’ve clearly made gross assumptions. You could have disagreed with me or offered your protest without that comment or the haughtiness.

        With that aside, I’ll just take the meat and throw out the bone (I could have done that initially, but I needed to address the rudeness). I do understand that leaving this job is probably more likely to make me look bad than not and that’s not something that sits well with me. I have the bubble guts just thinking about wanting to do this. I just wanted to have an honest conversation about what I’m going through right now- politics and rules of convention aside. Despite your tone and assumptions, I do appreciate your perspective.

        1. Dawn*

          OK, cool beans. I was offering my perspective from the other side of being in my mid-20s.

          Shortened version:
          Leaving after three months isn’t going to look good. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are looking to remain at the same university. Being stuck is a universal feeling, and not wanting to continue being an admin is understandable. If the new job would get you out of being an admin, awesome- just realize that taking it might/probably will come with an irreparable blow to your reputation at your current university that may follow you on to other jobs.

        2. Rat Racer*

          I think it’s important to remember that your career is a marathon, not a sprint. I remember so clearly being in my mid-twenties and thinking “I graduated from [very expensive ivy league] college for this?

          Hard to tell whether your internal transfer will be damaging or put you on a better trajectory. Whatever you decide, just want to reassure you that what you’re doing in your mid-twenties (for me, the range was from filing, xeroxing, fixing broken xerox machine, bate stamping, playing minesweeper on my computer) is does not set the trajectory for the rest of your career. Hang in there… (which doesn’t mean hang onto your current job necessarily – just don’t be disheartened if your current job or next job, or job after that, doesn’t use your brain to its fullest capacity.)

          1. Bo*

            That’s what I hope it would do [put me on a better trajectory]. I don’t really like the trajectory of a secretary in this department. My coworkers have all had my job before me but seeing what they do I think it’d just be a lateral move (we all do pretty much the same things just for different groups). And that’s only if they stay. They’ve been here for a while and I don’t see them leaving any time soon, which means I’ll be stuck for an indeterminate amount of time…as a secretary. I’m trying to hang in there though.

            Thanks for your comment!

        3. I rarely comment on a comment but...*

          Dawn took the time to write 8 paragraphs of spectacular advice and share her experience when she could have written, well- nothing. I understand you felt the comment was rude, but I think reactions like this discourage what would otherwise be helpful discourse to you ( and others in a similar situation) in the future. Sometimes the high road involves taking the meat and not commenting on the bone.

          1. Bo*

            A lot of times people on these types of websites just say whatever they want without regard to the person receiving it. We may all be faceless here on the internet, but we’re all human. I find that people need to often be reminded of that fact. I told Dawn that I appreciated their comment in spite of how I received their tone and attitude – and I still do. I have the right to say how I feel and I did so with tact and sincerity. I’d hardly consider my response discouraging of constructive discourse. And it appears Dawn took what I said in stride, so that’s all that matters.

            1. Dawn*

              Yup! It’s also wicked hard to get tone right when writing, because what it sounds like in my head is not what it sounds like on paper. I absolutely completely and totally did not in any way, shape, or form mean to come across as anything other than “Hey, I have been where you have been, here’s some things that I wish I could have said to myself when I was in that exact same position.” However, that’s hard enough to do in real life, much less on the internet.

              Bo, I definitely think that if you’re seeing zero chance of your job duties ever changing if you stay in your department it’s not t0o early to think about where you might want to go instead. But again, just make sure that it’s not going to set you up with a reputation if you leave your department after only three or four months. And good luck in your interview!

      2. fposte*

        I think you’re making some really good points that are worth considering. I agree with those upthread who say that this won’t hurt Bo as much because it’s a move within the school, but an internal transfer after three months would still raise some eyebrows.

        I won’t go far as to say “No, for sure don’t do it,” but the downside of the internal transfer aspect is that you’re not leaving behind the people who feel burned by being used as a stepping stone; you may encounter them and even need to work with them, and you may want a job back in that department in the future. And while academic speed means you probably wouldn’t really be leaving until 6 months after you start, academic social tendencies mean your workplace will probably know before you give notice, too.

        So if you do it, be judicious; understand the price that you’re paying and that if you turn out not to like the new job, the pressures to stay are higher than the usual “don’t want to look like a job hopper,” because if you leave two university jobs after a short term you’ve probably burned your bridges at the university as a whole.

        1. Bo*

          “..the downside of the internal transfer aspect is that you’re not leaving behind the people who feel burned by being used as a stepping stone; you may encounter them and even need to work with them, and you may want a job back in that department in the future. ”

          Yes! I totally get that.

          Staying here for any period of time and moving into a new role within the department I’m in now would just be a lateral move. And I don’t even see that happening within 2 years because my coworkers have all had my position and have been here for several years.

          I definitely want to go on the interview to learn more about it and if it would really be a better opportunity overall. It’s kind of hard to do that with just a job posting. I was already planning on taking the day off anyway. But I definitely have pause about what to do if I move forward in the process and am made an offer.

          1. fposte*

            I also think that I might have said something different if you were asking about just applying, but the fact you’ve made it through to a phone interview means you’ve leapfrogged my concerns about how the prospective new department would view your being willing to leave so early. So I definitely think you should go on a face to face interview if it’s offered, and then mull the question further.

    4. Renee*

      I may not be with the majority, but I think it’s fine as long as you are gracious about it. You may just not be in the right job for you and it seems like a shame to pass up a good opportunity that aligns with your goals. I would, however, consider carefully whether the new position is one you can stay at for a decent length of time as that is what will help your reputation in the long term. I see being 20-something as going both ways. Yes, it’s normal to feel stuck, but also it can be when you actually do get stuck. I was 28 when I commenced getting myself stuck in a career for several years where I was miserable until I managed to wrench free. So, I would see if it really does look like a move forward and go from there. I wish I had been at least a little more bold about opportunities than I was when I was your age.

  21. ThatGirl*

    Prompted by Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde earlier in the week, anyone want to tell stories of co-workers who turned out to be nightmares?

    I worked on a copy desk for a suburban newspaper for a few years. There was a fair amount of turnover, and one new hire, let’s call him Bob, looked great on paper. He’d worked at some other suburban dailies, he aced his editing test, my boss was very excited about him.

    I don’t know how he interviewed so well, but he was atrocious on a day to day basis. In a job where speed and accuracy are important, he took his sweet, sweet time to do anything – hours and hours to design simple pages or edit mundane stories.

    He also seemed unstable to us. He would casually mention his gun collection every so often, for instance. Or people who had made him mad. We were all baffled about how he could have been hired with so much excitement.

    I had a casual friend who worked at another paper in the area that Bob had previously been employed at, and when she heard his name, she blanched. He’d been fired from that job after failing to show up for work one day because he was in jail on domestic violence charges.

    Long story short, he finally got fired from the paper I worked at after being caught on camera ramming his car door into another worker’s car, then casually moving his car in the lot to try to remove suspicion.

    1. some1*

      I will call her Judy. Judy was hired for a newly created position, and she had years of experience in our industry. She was smart, capable, easy to get along with – anything you could want in a coworker.

      After a couple of years, our sup was let go and Big Boss promoted Judy to our sup’s position, her first time supervising people. She basically did a 180 immediately after that. The power totally went to her head. She immediately instituted changes that made everything much more difficult. She either micro-managed people or was unavailable when needed. She thought she was everyone’s boss and alienated people in every dept.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I have seen the same thing! My friend was promoted to be my boss, and turned in to a nightmare! We thought the previous person in the job was nuts, but I started to wonder if maybe just being in the position was driving people crazy.

        1. some1*

          Judy was in my work-friend click, too, before her promotion. Obviously, we stopped wanting to spend our free time with her after she started acting that way, but she would just find out about our lunches or happy hours and invite herself. Not fun!

    2. Jerzy*

      Speaking of bad hires at suburban newspapers, when I was finally stepping down from my role of basically filling an entire weekly paper myself, I was asked to train my replacement, and although she seemed a little odd, there’s actually nothing all that odd about being an odd local reporter.

      Once I left, though, things went downhill with her very quickly. She neglected to show up for her first deadline day because of an appointment she told no one about. She didn’t show up for her second deadline day because she had tickets to a show, which, again, she told no one about.

      When she was around, she would revert all the editor’s edits back without explanation, and generally thought she didn’t need an editor or copy editor… about which she was quite mistaken. She’d neglect showing up for meetings, and basically thought she could do as she pleased, without repercussions.

      She was fired within her probationary period, and I was asked to come back as a freelancer, just to help fill the pages until they found someone new. After she was fired, her mother and grandmother called up the editor to argue with her and tell her off for firing this woman. She was in her early 30’s.

    3. Tardis*

      Oh boy… yes. And the worst thing is that I was part of the hire, which I count as my biggest professional mistake. She looked okay on paper, had fantastic references, and nailed the interview process (which is pretty thorough and has multiple steps). For the first few weeks, everything seemed okay – it takes everyone a little while to get up to speed, right? But then. Oh, but then.

      The first sign was the sick day, during her second week of employment. But hey – it happens! Everyone gets sick, you can’t help it if it’s at the beginning of a new job. We were very flexible. But eventually she just turned into a continual no-show with no advance notice, taking any excuse to work from home (which was possible for her role, but not desirable because it involves a lot of department coordination).

      As she was less and less present in the office, her output declined precipitously and everything she handed in had errors – whether it was email addresses entered into our mailing platform, broken links, the times that meetings were scheduled for, or extraneous spaces around punctuation in public materials. Our director is extremely attentive to details and has a zero tolerance policy for things like typos in mailings and website materials, so that was awful – especially since I had to correct the errors.

      We brought the errors to her attention multiple times, told her they were unacceptable, offered to provide help with proofreading, suggested creating a checklist to make sure things didn’t slip through, etc. Nothing stuck, it was the same errors and problems over and over again. She was continually a no-show and we were stuck redoing her work continually. She’d only been working with us for ~6 months, and we were working with our (extremely bureaucratic) HR department to put her on a PIP when she turned in her notice.

      She left in January, after about 7 months with our org. It wasn’t until late February or so that, when looking for other documents, we came across ~10 donor checks stashed in her desk drawer. From December of the previous year. That she had never taken to our development office to deposit into our accounts. My Director and I were furious, especially since it meant that some of our donors wouldn’t be able to get the charitable tax deduction that they had been expecting for that year. It was a significant amount of money, and it was a donor relations fiasco.

      Then, there were also the errors in grant reporting and expense reporting that she never cleared up before leaving, which ended up endangering our org’s financial status and our relationships with grantors. It took so, so much work to fix all of her stupid mistakes and the relationships she damaged through neglect and carelessness. NEVER AGAIN!

      1. Elle the new Fed*

        Just curious what you think you could have done to prevent that? It sounds to me like you guys were really thorough on hiring from what you’ve shared here.

        1. fposte*

          Checking references isn’t mentioned–I know sometimes people just don’t mention that, and it won’t save you from all tragedy, but it’s always worth doing.

          1. Tardis*

            We did check several references (which I mentioned in the post) and all were very positive, even glowing. It blows my mind. I don’t know how we could have predicted what was going to happen – which is *totally* terrifying from my point of view as someone who manages the hiring process.

            1. fposte*

              Do you have procedures in place now so that the checks in the desk thing couldn’t happen? That’s the part that makes me hyperventilate.

              1. Tardis*

                Believe me, it made me hyperventilate, too. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of thing that tends to drive more centralization, so our Director now is directly involved in the funds receiving process (which is a waste of her time, but I totally understand why that was her reaction).

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            And not just checking references the candidate provides, but asking to be put in touch with specific managers from their past if not listed … and not necessarily relying on the contact info they give you, but calling the main switchboard of the number where the reference works and asking for them (to avoid the person giving you the phone number of a friend who will pose as the manager).

        2. Tardis*

          We checked several references and all were very positive. It kills me that we probably couldn’t have prevented this awful hire, because she could turn on her professional skills and then turn them off again without warning, so even a skills test wouldn’t predict actual work performance.

          1. Lia*

            I have very occasionally run into the “give a glowing reference to get this horrible employee out of here” problem. Alison’s suggestions are one way to try and avoid that — calling a few extra people, and not using the contact info provided can help. But sometimes people just go nuts.

    4. Anon for this*

      There was a girl we hired a few years ago, that was a total mess. She was super organized during the interview and everyone (except for one person on the committee) thought she was fantastic. She seemed smart and competent and that she would be able to jump right in to the work.

      We hired her. The first week or so, everything seemed to be going well. She spent a week with the person who was leaving the role getting some training before she took over the duties full-time. Within a month it was a disaster. The new hire had no idea how to use email or any of the microsoft office suite. It never occurred to us that she wouldn’t have even the most basic computer skills as she had years of experience working at the manager and director levels at a major academic center. She also just wouldn’t do things or do them half-assed. It was a mess. It took us 9 months to fire her.

      1. some1*

        “The new hire had no idea how to use email or any of the microsoft office suite.”

        I’ve seen people who have years of experience but didn’t know everything they SHOULD know, but whoa . . .

      2. Lefty*

        A familiar thing to hear… a new hire for a position equivalent to mine which the candidate marked the highest level of competency for our standard systems. He also provided some school documentation to show that he had some low level (but very recent) programming training. He came to me because he couldn’t figure out what our instructions meant with “Desktop”, “Shortcut”, or “Hit Start” (all in reference to launching Microsoft Word). He also used his mouse upside down from what I’ve seen… not an issue if that’s someone’s preference for any reason but he stated it was because “the cord was like a tail and should point down”.

    5. Xarcady*

      We hired someone who seemed great–had the very specific skill set we needed, passed our skills test with flying colors, personality seemed to mesh with our small team, wonderful references.

      She didn’t show up on her first day of work. When I called and finally got through to her, she explained that she was still substitute teaching (we’d known that, and accommodated that by letting her start a month after we hired her). So why didn’t she call and talk to us? No idea.

      I was all for forgetting about her at that point, but the owner of the company really liked her, so we arranged a new start date in two weeks.

      I was training her, so, as usual on a new hire’s first day, I got to the office an hour early. She was already there, sitting in my office. That was . . . odd. New hires do tend to show up early, but not that early. We trained all day, she was sharing my office for the first couple of weeks, and she caught on quickly, was picking things up fast.

      At 5 pm, I told her she could go home. She stayed in the office another hour. Again, odd. Most people are tired after the first day on a new job and just want to go home. I finally told her she had to go, mostly because I needed to work on some performance reviews and I didn’t want her there while I was doing that.

      Next day, same thing. Arrived very early, stayed very late. Next day, same thing. Next day, no show.

      After three days of phone calls (pre-everyone-owning-a-cellphone days) to a line without an answering machine or voice mail, I arrived in the office the following morning to a voice mail left at 2 am, from a man, telling us she wasn’t coming back.

      We were never able to contact her after that. Her paycheck was mailed to her and came back to us as undeliverable. We called the school where she had been working–they had heard nothing. We were concerned that something had happened to her and contacted the police in the town where she supposedly lived, but they found no record of anyone by that name at the address we had.

      Twenty years later, I still wonder about her sometimes.

        1. voyager1*

          Maybe a woman trying to get away from a domestic violence issue and she finally got found?

          Some organizations that help women get away help those women start new lives but sometimes the abuser finds the woman.

          But still crazy. I would wonder too.

      1. Ama*

        Oh, man, I really hope she was just odd and not in an unsafe situation. I do think you did all you could, though — and more than a lot of people would have done.

      2. Camellia*

        My first thought is someone that was fleeing an abusive relationship. Fake names and addresses, unexpected absences and being early and staying late – maybe no place to go or maybe trying to vary comings and goings. And then she was found. I hope not but I always think the worst in those circumstances.

        1. MsChandandlerBong*

          That was my first thought, too. I used to stay at the office until 9 or 10 at night to avoid going home to my (emotionally, not physically, thank goodness) abusive boyfriend.

    6. Chex Mix*

      No experience on the hiring side but …

      I was a sophomore in high school and they had hired a new honors math teacher. The first day she came in, opened up our book and said “Wow! This is hard stuff. Um. Do the worksheet.” Well that took us all of 10 minutes to complete and she said we could “Do whatever” for the rest of class. This continued all week.

      On Friday she came into class and announced “I read the rest of your text book and it scarred me. I’m going back to school and won’t be teaching you”. She then left the classroom!

      Well we were the honors students so we hung around and chatted in the class about how bizarre this was … when the principle walked by. He saw us being rowdy and asked where the teacher was – so we told him what happened. He had no idea she had quit! We never saw her again.

      Due to the fiasco they had the regular math teacher take on the honors class. On the first day of class we filed in, sat down quietly and got our books out. She was stunned. “Wow! I didn’t even have to ask you to be quite! Is that what all honors classes are like!?” We all nodded our heads. We pretty much instantly loved this teacher. It was clear she had put up with a whole bunch of crap from the other students and she was so enthusiastic about teaching us!

    7. NicoleK*

      This happened at a former job, Sue came to the company as an intern. After her internship was over, she stayed on as a volunteer. That lead to a temporary and then a permanent position. Sue seemed nice, proactive, and competent. After I left the company, I forwarded job announcements to her once or twice.

      As time when on, Sue grew increasingly unhappy. And she began spreading her unhappiness around. It finally reached a boiling point and the company accepted her resignation a week into her notice period.

    8. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      We hired Avin the Temp Architect to model a software platform. We knew what we needed, but weren’t experts on the modeling skills. We explained his role – to document our direction – and he accepted.

      Instead of modeling our needs, Avin began to design his own version of the platform and tried to push it through to our boss. Our boss, Sparhawk, reset his expectation for Avin and sent him on his way.

      Avin went to Sparhawk’s boss, Vanion, who shot down Avin and informed Sparhawk. Sparhawk called a meeting with all of us, including Avin, to collectively resolve the schism.

      Avin jumped and argued, and finally exclaimed, “This is just not working between me and your team!”

      Sparhawk immediately replied, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ll take your laptop and badge now.”

      Avin gaped at Sparhawk. “What?”

      Sparhawk replies, “You think I’m going to keep you and fire my team? Let’s go – I’ll escort you out.”

      Months later, someone forwards a resume to Kurik, our Lead Arch, asking if Kurik knew the guy. It’s was Avin’s resume – he claimed he had practically single-handedly launched our platform and never noted his dismissal. Kurik called his buddy, and Avin never darkened our door again.

  22. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Other people who hire: Do you have an ATS that you actually like and that candidates like? I’m looking for something really simple, not a lot of bells and whistles, that doesn’t make candidates jump through lots of hoops. Like, upload your cover letter and resume, and you’re done. Don’t need a ton of functionality on the back-end either — just the basics, like being able to share applicant materials and track status. Obviously not Taleo. Any recommendations?

      1. Anxa*

        Agreed. It boils me up to here politicians and government workers discus the crisis of long-term unemployment without mentioning how hiring has changed so much due to Taleo and the like.

    1. Bye Academia*

      We use Fluidreview and I like it. It was easy to use as an applicant and seems to be straightforward on the back end. It tracks applicants all the way through interviews and hiring. It’s very flexible in terms of what you ask. You can use questions to rule out candidates if you want, but you don’t have to. You could certainly just ask to upload a cover letter and resume and nothing else.

      Disclaimer: I am not a hiring manager, I just work for one. Not sure how much it costs, etc.

    2. HR Pro*

      We use Silkroad. I wasn’t here when we got it, so I don’t know about what options are available for configuring it. It might be a little more complex than you’re looking for, because we have people do more than just upload their resumes (e.g. they create a profile, answer questions like where did they hear about the job, etc.). (But maybe we just wanted to configure it like that, and maybe it can be simplified?)

      On the back end, I’m pleased with it. Pretty easy for us in HR to use and has some reasonably good functionality for the hiring managers, too.

      1. CAA*

        We use It’s customizable enough that you can make the applicant experience very simple. You can track status, refer people to other hiring managers, and send emails to candidates.

        They have been building out various back-end analytics to try and tell you whether your job descriptions and candidate pools meet various quality metrics. I just ignore all of that.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq*

          I use Greenhouse at my job and really love it, but I will say that in my last bout of job searching there were a couple places that used Jazz and I had a really positive experience with it on the candidate side. And it’s very pretty.

    3. Kara Zor-El*

      We use Greenhouse. It’s pretty straightforward! (not in HR but I’ve used it as a hiring manager.)

  23. Angela*

    I’m probably overthinking this, but I have a question about sending a thank you after an interview. I have done my best internet snooping but have been unable to get emails for the people I interviewed with. I actually had to mail my resume to the company and they had me fill out a paper application when I arrived for the interview, so I think they are very low tech. Regardless, I loved what I heard about the position and got a great vibe when I went to interview. Since an email thank you is out, do I send a hand-written one? Or type a letter? Somehow a typed letter feels overly formal to me, but maybe that’s just because it’s been years since I’ve sent an actual letter to anyone.

    1. LotusEclair1984*

      This is something I think about often too. Is speed more important (email) than craftsmanship (handwritten card) when thanking someone after an interview? I think Alison has written in the past that email is preferred for speed’s sake, but in your situation handwritten notecards sound like the way to go!

    2. Dawn*

      Since you had to fill out a paper application and you can’t find anyone’s email, I’d go with the mailed thank you. Type-written letter would be way too formal.

    3. Elle the new Fed*

      I did this for a previous job–I forgot the name of the person–and ended up emailing the admin I’d scheduled through to ask. I snooped for HOURS and didn’t find a thing . Even after I had the name (combined with all the details I’d learned in the interview), the person had no internet presence that I could find.

      I’d probably just handwrite and send it off. As a person who interviews a lot, the handwritten ones stick out more, but I definitely would’t penalize anyone over not sending one.

  24. alter_ego*

    How much extra money would it take for you to leave a job you’re happy with when you’re being headhunted, assuming all other benefits are equal?

    I have a second interview next week with a company who contacted me, and I love my current job, but I took the first interview because it was largely informational for both of us. They didn’t have an open position, I wasn’t looking to leave, but their recruiter contacted me because they like to keep an eye out for potential new hires. Apparently right after my interview, one of their employees submitted his two week notice. So next week is a for real interview, and I’m feeling incredibly conflicted. I love my current job, but I keep telling myself that for “enough” money I would leave. But how on earth do I quantify that? I don’t make a pittance at the moment, so more would be nice, but not necessary to cover expenses and such.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      For me, it would really depend on the vibe I got from the other job and whether I was making enough to fund my retirement accounts, go on vacations, etc. I think it would probably be around 10-20% increase for me to risk of going someplace where I may not be as happy. Oh, and you say all other benefits being equal, but commute would be a huge make-or-break issue for me.

      1. alter_ego*

        haha, the job is actually across the street from my current office, so the commute would be like, .5 seconds shorter

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’m pretty much where CrazyCatLady is. I like my current company and coworkers, but was recruited for an opportunity that was interesting enough to investigate. For me, the commute was also about the same, and once I looked at the benefits I was surprised to find that my current benefits were pretty close to what the new employer offers. So I figured I’d probably consider it for at least a 10% increase, and that was after I met the team that works for the hiring manager and I liked them all, and thought I’d enjoy working with them. For me, the team and organizational environment makes a big difference, too, and this employer has a lot of benefits and development/enrichment opportunities, the latter more so than my current employer, which is part of why I was considering it.

      3. Bea W*

        None if I am really super happy where I’m at, but some people are more motivated by money than other factors.

        I had a recruiter, for a direct competitor no less, ask me this the other day. :D

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I’d probably want at least 10% and probably want to negotiate on vacation benefits. That’s the hardest part when changing job, especially if you can’t time it right. If I got headhunted right now, my biggest factor would be telecommuting options, reduction in travel, and a starting offer of at least $10k more. Plus vacation.

      1. Camellia*

        You know, I see here a lot that people talk about negotiating vacation but does this ever work for companies that are not mom-and-pop or maybe startups? The corporations for which I’ve worked have vacation policies written in stone, and the one time I did try to make it part of the negotiation they looked at me like I was crazy.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          I don’t know. I’m higher ed and unless you are at the top levels, I think it’d be pretty impossible but on the other hand I think being head hunted gives unusual opportunities. I’ve always heard the vacation thing happens in the corporate world but it could be a myth.

    3. Ad Astra*

      If all other things about the job were truly equal, it would take me maybe $10,000 more to move on. But I make relatively little money, so $10k would provide a significant lifestyle improvement. I’d also probably want at least 5 more days of paid vacation.

      Of course, it’s rare that two jobs are 100% equal. You will almost definitely have a preference for the type of work, the structure of the department, the location of the office, the company culture, the people you work with, etc.

    4. Sunflower*

      I would ask yourself why you are happy in your current job and if those things can be guaranteed in the other company?If all other benefits are the same(commute, health insurance, PTO), then I would assume you have a lot of benefits that don’t translate to paper- maybe you really like your boss/coworkers, your organization is very transparent. If you can’t get a guarantee on those things, how much money will it take for you to take the risk of losing them?

    5. Chex Mix*

      One thing I have found useful is to pretend I am an hourly employee and then add the commute into my hour calculation for my “Hourly wage”.

      For example, a $50,000 a year salary with a minimal commute at 40 hours a week = ~ $24 an hour.
      Add in a 1 hour one way commute, that’s now an average of 50 hours a week; to get to $24 an hour you would need to make at least $62,500 … and that does not take into account the impact of the increased cost of gas!

      It really helped me not to get sticker shock at the $10K raises recruiters were trying to lure me into once I realized that, once all is said and done, I’m really making less per hour than I would be if I stayed at my current job.

    6. Chex Mix*

      I think I would also try and assume I’m making a worse trade off and then think about what amount would keep me there.

      Assume your new boss is a tool and your co-workers aren’t as cool as your current ones, how much money would they need to offer to keep you in the crap department? Would any amount of money be worth this?

    7. Jen*

      all other things totally equal, 20%. I make plenty of money. I also pay a boatload of taxes on it. 20% would be 15-25k post-tax for me, which is enough to make an impact on my lifestyle (new car, more savings / earlier retirement, great vacation, buy a vacation home, that sort of thing)

  25. Perla*

    I’m a recruiter based in CA recruiting for nationwide positions (40 in all). The hiring managers do not tell me specific qualifications or knowledge they desire in a candidate until that candidate is interviewed by them! Then comes passive aggressive feedback that states the candidate should have this and that. Basically the managers are describing qualities and academic concentrations completely left out of the job description which is the only thing I have access to. I have tried to brainstorm with my supervisor but he isn’t very helpful in how to get their input prior to my interviews. This is making me look foolish and inefficient. I could truly save everyone’s time if the job description was clearly stated. I feel defeated in my role.

    1. LizB*

      Ugh, that really sucks. It sounds like whoever’s writing these job descriptions is doing a terrible job, because something concrete like an academic concentration should be listed in the required or preferred qualifications if it’s really that important. I wonder if when you got a new position to recruit for, you could reach out to the hiring managers before you started recruiting and go over the job description with them, making sure to ask whether there are any additional qualifications they’re looking for? You could frame it as, “I want to make sure I’m sending you the highest quality candidates, so let’s put in some time going over what you want right now so you don’t waste time later interviewing people who are missing key pieces of experience.” Then later, if they come back saying “That candidate was terrible, they didn’t know anything about Peppermint Teapots!” you can say “I’m sorry, you hadn’t mentioned you were looking for that experience — I’ll make sure I screen for it for the next batch of interviews.”

    2. BRR*

      Do you speak with the hiring manager before you phone/resume screen or headhunt (not sure what you do)? Can you ask for a brief phone call “because you like to make sure you’re finding/sending along the best quality” and a quick call “will save them time later by only providing the best candidates.” Also then if they come back you can reference the phone call :).

      Do you do the same positions? If yes can you look at who is hired for something to guide you?

    3. Menacia*

      You don’t mention if you follow up with the hiring manager to get more details on the position requirements. Is there a form the hiring managers complete online, or do they just email you their requests? We had an issue getting new hire information from our HR department until we set up a formalized process/form to be completed which included mandatory fields. We made it as easy as possible for them to give us the information necessary to ensure the new hire had what they needed day one. I would think the hiring managers would not want to waste their time on unqualified candidates, and you could leverage that when recommending how they should submit requirements for open positions.

  26. Sally Sparrow*

    I’ve been making high-res copies of documents with InDesign (documents usually get printed on banner head, which the template we have is in InDesign, so instead of printing them out and scanning them I wanted nice, high quality PDFs). A CW mentioned that our boss “doesn’t want her learning InDesign” but then in the same breath told me to tell her the next time I’m working on them so she can watch me and look over my shoulder as I do it.

    I was going to do all but one of them, and then let her watch me make the one, but I forgot (partially busy-ness and partially avoidance). I think our boss is going to ask me to make 2 brand new documents, so there might be an opportunity then to let her watch, but I don’t really want her to.

    How should I handle this?

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      Is there a way to casually bring it up to your boss? Like “Suzy mentioned an interest in learning InDesign, is it okay if I have her sit with me.”

      I had a writer, who *really* wanted to be a graphic designer and would spend too much time bugging my designers and trying to make simple power points and letters over the top. I didn’t know how much time it was eating away from my designers, because even though he was “just watching” he was also asking a lot of questions. When my lead designer brought it up, I was able to have a gentle conversation with the writer about other ways to use/pursue this interest.

    2. Ama*

      I’m also the resident InDesign expert in my office, and I would definitely be uncomfortable letting someone watch me work — it’s much easier for me to have other people start doing whatever they want to do and then ask me questions.

      Do you have any written instructions on how to make high res PDFs? Could you find the time to write some up and give them to your coworker in the name of emergency coverage? I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some on hand in the event of your leaving the job or being unexpectedly unavailable when a new PDF needs to be made.

      1. Sally Sparrow*

        Writing down a procedure is a good idea, especially now that the templates are already made for if she wants to change them in the future/when the documents need to be updated.

    3. fposte*

      I get that it can be weird to have someone hanging on you when you work, but that seems a pretty modest request–can you just steel yourself and do it? Explicitly give a timeframe so you can cut her loose when the time’s up and finish work on your own.

    4. edj3*

      Huh. Our copywriters know In Design which has been invaluable when they review the work. Any reason they shouldn’t learn it?

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Probably because the company has decided they want their designers to design and their writers to write – some places really aren’t big on cross-training, especially if they have tight deadlines.

    5. CMT*

      If your common supervisor doesn’t want her to learn InDesign, I wouldn’t just set up a training session without speaking to the boss first.

    6. Jules the First*

      Great tool that my database developer turned me on to – Jing. Install it on your PC (for free) and you can record all or part of your screen (up to 30 minutes, I think) save the recording and share it with anyone you like. They don’t even need any video software, just drag the video file into any browser window. I use it for all of my training and tutorials because people can go back and watch it again if they need a refresher in a few months.

  27. public to private?*

    has anyone made the transition from working in the public sector to the private sector? if so – how?

    i’m in my mid-twenties and have a bachelor’s degree. i currently work in a university, but my entire resume in professional non-retail jobs is in the public sector. i’ve worked for multiple universities and the government, and i currently work at a large, top 25 public research university. when i was looking for jobs before i had interviews with private companies but non-hired me. when i asked for feedback it was because of reservations that i wouldn’t be able to stand the fast paced nature and pressure of the private sector, even when i addressed it in the interview (after asking Allison’s great question about if they had any reservations about my candidacy i could address) and told them a major motivator for my wanting to leave the public sector was how slowly things happen, and to get away from the bureaucracy of large public institutions. i ended up getting an offer after a few months at a university and taking it, because it was better than doing nothing.

    it’s also compounded because what i do is very specialized. i work in student recruitment and retention, specifically of aboriginal peoples. i’m having trouble figuring out how to take the skills from this work and applying it to other industries, and i can’t figure out what kind of titles i should be searching to find jobs to even apply for – and when i do find something i think would be interesting, i’m tend to think i’m not qualified because what i’ve done is so specialized (ex: i don’t have x number of years experience if the specific field of the job posting, etc)! would i need to start over in an entry level position (not appealing – a major motivator for wanting out is the money, i make 40-50% less than people at other institutions doing my same position and can barely pay my bills), or should i go back to school and take on more debt to get a better degree? do i just accept i’ve worked myself into a corner and stick with academia forever because the benefits are pretty good in terms of time off and flexibility?

    i’m feeling pretty lost in all of this tbh. i love the work i do and i’m good at it, but my workplace is incredibly toxic, and i can’t see myself leaving the area i currently live in to search for work elsewhere, which limits my options for staying in the field significantly.

    1. Elle the new Fed*

      So, I don’t have any input, but I am VERY curious if anyone else has ideas? I also work in the public sector (US Federal, level) and do job placement work.

      From what you’ve said here, it looks like you could transition into recruitment of diverse populations, especially with your experience with aboriginal peoples. I don’t know much about that work specifically, but do know many organizations focus specifically on increasing diversity as part of recruitment strategy. I have met people who were diversity recruiters and it was always interesting to hear about them looking in really non-traditional areas for new staff members.

      I’d definitely say reach out to your networks, mentors or other trusted advisors before just going back to school. It may not be necessary to get another degree in order to make the leap.

    2. SJ*

      “and when i do find something i think would be interesting, i’m tend to think i’m not qualified because what i’ve done is so specialized (ex: i don’t have x number of years experience if the specific field of the job posting, etc)!”

      I don’t have any advice, because this is me! I also work in academia in a “weird,” specialized role (entry-level) — I actually have my hand in a lot of things and work with a number of different departments frequently, but there’s no advancement in this role because it’s unique and specific to my university. So advancement at a different university would mean going into a new department altogether. I have experience relevant to positions across many departments, and it’s almost overwhelming — I’m always asked the question, “What department do you want to work in?” I don’t know! There’s no one specific department I want to work in. When I see a role that’s interesting that my skills and experience would match, I apply for it.

      The problem is that I feel I’m never going to qualify for an advanced role in a department over someone actually coming from that background, no matter how much I play up how my skills and experience will match the role. Yeah, I’d be great for X position in Alumni Relations due to my skills, but of course they’re going to prefer someone actually coming from a lower position in Alumni Relations. I can’t even get an interview, despite all the great advice I’ve gotten here about my cover letter and resume.

      I want to leave my toxic environment too, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall here. When I came into this role (2.5 years ago, oh my god) I thought my opportunities were endless, but I never realized that having so much varied experience would work against me. Having lots of relevant, transferable skills just doesn’t match up against someone who has all that plus a background in the department.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, me too. I can’t even get jobs in areas related to my specialization because I’m not 100% perfect enough and haven’t done 5% of the job before. It’s killing me. How the hell am I supposed to learn new skills if no one will let me?

    3. K*

      If you went back to school, what would it be for? I get the impression that you don’t know what you’d like to do in general, so I wouldn’t suggest going back to school. I personally think extra education can be overrated, especially if it’s not for something specific. You also mention talking yourself out of jobs if you’re not ‘perfectly’ qualified for. Alison has talked about this recently, you don’t need to be 100% what the ad asks for. I think you need to be more open minded about the skills you have.

      1. super anon*

        it’s true – i really don’t know what i want to do. i went to university to learn korean and my goal was to continue on and do my masters and become a literary translator, but i was terrible at learning the language and gave up studying after 3 years when i realized i would never be able to pass the language courses at my home university to graduate. since then i’ve kind of floated around not really know what to do. i’ve vaguely thought about taking a certificate program at our local technology institute in programming so i can get into IT, but i’ve never been good at math, which makes me think i wouldn’t be able to do programming very well. i really fell into the field i’m in now and it was lucky i’m good at it, but it’s not something i’d want to do for the rest of my life.

        the only thing i can think of that i really want to do is to own and operate my own pawn shop. i worked at one for a year during my undergrad and it was the best work experience of my entire life and the only time i’ve ever truly been happy at work. unfortunately, i don’t think trying to start a business with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt under my belt is a great idea, so i’ve never seriously considered trying to do it. i’ve done a market analysis and i think the kind of shop i’d want to run would be profitable and there’s nothing like it in the area, but i don’t have a business degree or any kind of qualifications to be an entrepreneur, and my boyfriend is already self employed so i feel like one of us should at least have a steady income.

        tl;dr: maybe i’m just having a quarter-life existential crisis?

        1. LC*

          Super Anon: Just curious – was the pawn shop work itself what you really liked, or was it the environment and/or the people you worked with at this particular pawn shop? I’m only asking because if it was the people you worked with before that made it a great work experience, it might be disappointing for you if you were to run your own shop and the experience wouldn’t be quite the same or as fulfilling. I would just warn you not to be overly nostalgic before making a big decision such as running your own business. And I’ve never owned my own business, but I imagine there is a huge difference between working somewhere and being responsible for every facet of that workplace.

          I don’t want to discourage you too much though, since I’m going through an existential crisis of my own, and I was in a similar position of not knowing what I wanted to do. It really helped me to take an afternoon and actually write down/diagram the pros and cons of leaving my current job, finding a new job, or going back to school. Working it all out on paper really helped me figure out what’s best for me (in my case, doing online school while still keeping my job for now) and it also relieved some anxiety I’ve had about the whole thing. If you decide you want to run your own shop, then by all means, do as much research as you can and go for it! A lot of people run their own business with no formal education.

    4. J.B.*

      I have been having trouble making the transition from public to private but I am mid-level and have kids. I am probably going to stick it out while I continue developing skills in an area I want to move into, then go back to school later.

      You are 25 – it should be possible to make a change, but you really need to know your tradeoffs first. You don’t need another degree unless it is necessary to do a job you want (like – school for a medical related degree would be worth it, an MBA would probably not be.) If you really value the time off and flexibility, can you do something on the side? If you were to move, maybe into an HR entry level ish role?

  28. Persephone*

    Wanted to poll everyone here to see what your workplace lunch breaks are like. What length do you get versus what do people actually use, do people at their desks and keep working or take an actual break, paid versus unpaid, etc.

    Everyone at our office eats lunch at their desk, and no one ever takes more than 30 minutes. Management is currently setting up a dedicated break room to provide somewhere for people to go and also trying to reduce work loads (more so response times than anything) so people can step away. They’re also encouraging people to take up to an hour if they want. These breaks are not paid. I wanted to get a sense of what it’s like in other offices.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’ve never had a paid lunch, personally.

      When I worked in newspapers I always took my breaks because a) we were strongly encouraged to and b) I spent a lot of late nights there so it was nice to have the downtime.

      Now I work in corporate America and generally eat at my desk, without taking a real “lunch”, because I prefer to work straight through and leave a little earlier (traffic!). It varies, some people eat in our cafeteria, some go out sometimes, some take a proper break but at their desk, and some do what I do.

    2. alice*

      I take an hour, but I’m paid for it. My boss will sometimes take up to two hours. It’s not really a formal thing here. If I wasn’t getting paid, I can imagine taking a 30 minute break or less.

    3. CrazyCatLady*

      We get 30 minutes and are strongly encouraged to take it. I take it most days and either close my office door and eat at my desk, or I go for a walk. I’m exempt so I’m paid during my lunches.

    4. Sally Sparrow*

      I get an hour, but it is unpaid. Some people eat at their desk, but for the most part people go to our little break room or there is an empty cafeteria on a separate floor (it used to be an actual cafeteria, but the building hasn’t replaced it) and yet, since that space accommodates more people/larger groups.

    5. super anon*

      we get an hour, but how people use it depends. some take the full hour in the break room. other people work at their desks for lunch and leave early. lunches are paid, but i’m salary so that’s kind of a moot point.

      my time is very flexible, so if i’m having a very busy day/it’s raining and too gross to go outside i’ll stay in my office and eat. about once a week a coworker and i will take the full hour for lunch and go out to eat or go for a walk.

    6. alter_ego*

      We’re salaried, and we all take an hour (more like an hour and 15 minutes). Some people eat in the break room, but most people either eat at their desks, or there’s a big group that play poker together at lunch.
      Sometimes we work through lunch if a deadline makes in necessary, but the overall culture is one that encourages us to take the full hour. We work late a lot, so we take our breaks where we can get them.

    7. Carrie in Scotland*

      Never had a paid lunch.

      I’ve usually had an hour (I work 9-5) but in jobs I’ve worked less hours it’s been 30 minutes. I rarely eat lunch at my desk for various reasons and it’s good to get away from your co-workers/computer/desk. I always take the full amount of time allocated to me.

    8. Random citizen*

      A 30 minute paid lunch break is the rule here for hourly employees. Exempt managers can do whatever they want, and I’d say about half regularly take a lunch break (usually about 30 minutes also). GM often eats at his desk if he’s busy, otherwise in the breakroom with the rest of the crew. One guy never takes a lunch break, but, come to think of it, I’ve never seen him bring food from home or buy lunch, except for the occasional stack of pizzas for the department. That sort of makes sense during our slow season when he can leave pretty early, but I don’t know what or when he’s eating during the time he’s pulling 10-12 hour days!

      1. mander*

        I have worked with a couple of people who never eat anything during the day. I don’t understand how they do it. One guy seems to subsist on nothing but instant coffee and cigarettes, and unsurprisingly, he is the crankiest person I have ever met.

        For me it varies by contract, but we usually get an hour paid, broken into a half hour break at 10 and lunch at 1. Since we’re basically a construction site crew we all go to break together, partly so that the work area is clear for machinery, etc. to do stuff nearby while there’s nobody in the way.

    9. Lillian McGee*

      Super casual here, but almost no one eats in the break room. People either go out or heat up their lunch and bring it to their desk. We are allowed an hour and it is paid, but there’s no work-thru-lunch-leave-early allowed. I am one of the only ones who eats in the break room and I am a notorious fixture in there at lunchtime. Lots of people had to learn the hard way that just because I am physically present, they better not interrupt me for work stuff or I will get super cranky. I usually read and I enjoy being interrupted for chit chat but god help you if you come in to tell me the printer’s jammed…

    10. Not Gloria A.A., B.S.*

      We get 30 minutes unpaid and a 15 minute paid break that a lot of people combine to take a 45 minute lunch break. A lot of folks will eat in the cafeteria or another common area that we have with tables and chairs. I eat at my desk since I have no one to eat with but I don’t ever work through my lunch. I minimize everything on my computer and put myself in an away status on our chat program.

    11. AVP*

      I usually just sit at my desk and take 20-30 minutes, either browsing the internet or working depending on whats going on. I’m exempt so the pay issue doesn’t come up.

    12. Kelly L.*

      I’m salaried, and I get an hour. In practice, I eat at my desk a lot to save money, and when I’m eating at my desk, I usually end up doing something worky. (I need an “Out to Lunch” sign on my forehead, I think!) But some days I do leave to eat or do errands, and come back an hour later.

      There’s a lounge, but it’s usually full of students and I feel awkward eating there.

    13. Ama*

      I suppose technically mine isn’t paid because our salary is based on a 35 hour workweek, but we’re all exempt and our employer is great with flexible schedules, so no one is really counting minutes here. I take a full hour and leave the office, though most of my coworkers do not. My last employer had an onsite cafeteria for which my position handled administrative tasks (purchasing, etc.), so going down to lunch still felt like I was working — I now realize never feeling like I got a true break was a huge factor in my stress levels at that job. I’m pretty much a classic introvert so eight hours of non-stop interactions with coworkers is incredibly draining.

      I take my full hour now and find someplace quiet to eat, away from coworkers. It gives me the mental space I need to be able to be truly productive all day. In fact if I’m having one of those frustrating mornings where I can’t seem to get going on anything I find taking my lunch as early as possible helps me reset my day and actually get things done afterwards.

    14. Ad Astra*

      We get an hour, though it’s not strictly enforced. A lot of us go out to lunch several times a week, which means we usually use the whole hour or even slightly more. A handful of people eat in the lunchroom, and I only see people eating at their desks when they have a big deadline looming.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Also, I’m non-exempt, so lunch is unpaid but I do get paid if I actually work during the noon hour. When I was exempt, I worked 8-5 and was paid for 40 hours, so that still equates to an unpaid lunch break — but if I worked over lunch, I didn’t get any extra money, and I didn’t get to leave early. When I worked for a newspaper, I’d take longer or shorter breaks depending on what was necessary to stay at 40 hours that week because they didn’t like paying overtime. I’ve never had a 9-5 (or 8-4 or other equivalent) job where I’m only in the office for 8 hours and am actually getting paid during lunch.

    15. Gwen*

      Lunch is unpaid. Most people take an hour; a lot of people go out for lunch or to run errands, others will eat at their desk (or hiding somewhere else in the office). No one actually eats in the kitchen/breakroom. You’re not allowed to “work through” lunch and go home early on any kind of regular basis.

    16. Xarcady*

      The default here is an unpaid one hour lunch. But most people cut that to half an hour and arrive 1/2 hour later or leave 1/2 hour earlier.

      There are break rooms/kitchens on each floor of the building, but they have no tables/seating, just fridges, microwaves, toasters, the coffee machine, vending machines, a sink and a dishwasher.

      There is a large lunch room on the bottom floor, with tables and chairs and a larger kitchen. It is also used for large meetings and conferences, so there are about 5 days a year when it is not available.

      My department is located as far as you can get from the lunch room as possible, so everyone eats at their desks, rather than spend 10 minutes of their lunch break running up and down 4 flights of stairs and racing to the far end of the building.

      Sometimes a small group of us will use an empty conference room for a group lunch, rather than go downstairs.

    17. Bea W*

      My state mandates a 30 minute break minimum. It doesn’t have to be paid, and I’ve never worked anywhere that paid over the lunch break.

      My coworkers eat at their desks, while they continue to work. IMHO a break is not a break if you are working. I take my full 30 minutes and eat anywhere that is not my desk. I work for a large company in a building with hundreds of people. Many of them do break for lunch and either go out or go to the cafeteria and take their full time. The eating at the desk thing as quickly as possible seems to be unique to my team. Lunch is my main meal, and I can’t eat and work at the same time. If I start working while I am eating, my lunch gets cold/soggy/stale, because I just can’t seem to do those two things at once, and it really is not appealing.

      My last jobs did not have an on-site cafeteria, but people gathered in the break room/kitchen or ate out. We only ate at our desks if things were nutty. My first job we were allowed 1 hr lunch. People generally took at least 30 minutes, but not always the full hour.

      When I worked in retail back in the day, we got 30 minutes and people took their full break, because it had to be scheduled and coordinated with other people / store schedule and it was the only change you got to go sit and relax. Same when I was working in direct care. Our meal breaks had to be coordinated with the other staff, and people took their full time knowing it was the only chance they were going to get for a break or to eat.

    18. Tau*

      30 minutes minimum up to 2 hours unpaid* for us contractors. Since it’s unpaid, like hell are any of us doing an iota of work in that period – we all wander off to the canteen and stay there until our 30 minutes are up. This may occasionally involve the twiddling of thumbs and staring at the clock… I need to get better about bringing a book. I don’t know what it’s like for the permanent employees, but I often see them eating at their desk while working so I assume they get a paid lunch.

      No other breaks, sadly. I’m not glued to the desk so can get up and make myself a cup of tea every now and then, but at this point I’d kill for the ability to take a 10-15 minute break sometime in the morning or afternoon.

      * taking longer means working longer to make up for it, since you’re not clocked in for lunch. None of us take longer unless we need to burn some overtime accumulated during the week, but I don’t think anyone would really object if we did – it’s more that there’s not much to do over lunch and we’re too far away to run errands or the like. At my actual parent company, I’d take longer pretty regularly since I was <10 minutes away from home. *dreamy sigh*

    19. katamia*

      At my last job, we got an hour unpaid for lunch, but a lot of people either worked through their lunch breaks or ate at their desks while still working or whatever. Maybe half went out to lunch or socialized and half ate at their desks and either worked or browsed the Internet. That job had lots of time management issues, though–they would basically routinely give us 9-10 hours of work to do in 8 hours (supposedly), so things got a little weird. I work better with breaks, though, so even though I’d always finish lunch way early, I’d browse AAM or news websites to make sure I got my full hour. (I was routinely having to stay 30-60 minutes and sometimes up to 2 hours late to finish anyway, so, yes, I became a bit of a clockwatcher about my lunch break.)

      Now I work from home, so my lunch break can be whenever and however I want, lol.

    20. Cheesecake2.0*

      One hour. Half is the unpaid, state-required 30 min break and the other half is my two 15-min paid breaks rolled all up into one hour. It’s how everyone in my dept does it. We can still take breaks other times without having to use our 2 15-min paid ones.
      I eat at my desk, while reading a book or watching netflix. I make sure to close my email and any documents I’m working on. I work in a department full of introverts so at least 90% of the people are hiding at their desks watching tv or reading during lunch.

    21. Tilly W*

      Salaried at corporate job and no set lunch hour policy or time. We have a 9/80 schedule (first and third Fridays off with nine hour days). I try and hit up a fitness class over lunch when I can, which is common among coworkers, and I tend to eat at my desk. Our office is downtown so a lot of people go out to lunch but again, no set rules or office hours. Previous jobs have been similar.

    22. Regina 2*

      Unpaid hour, which no one (but me) ever seems to take. Most scarf down at their desks as they work. Working through lunch doesn’t mean people leave early, though. 6pm appears to be the earliest when people leave, but several routinely leave at 7 or 8pm. I don’t know how they do it.

    23. Elizabeth West*

      I get an hour, but I usually work through it so I can come in a bit later and leave a bit earlier to avoid the worst of the traffic. My old boss was okay with this–new boss hasn’t said either way. It doesn’t impact my work much, since there is rarely anything urgent first thing in the morning or last thing at night anyway. Sometimes I want to go out and get something, so I do, which usually takes about 30 minutes in traffic. Then I clock back in and work while eating and just stay a bit later.

    24. Jennifer*

      Hour unpaid. I usually try to physically leave my office to go anywhere else unless the weather’s terrible. People don’t work through lunch here (union stuff above, plus we need the “quiet time”) but if you stay at your desk eating or watching videos or whatever, you will be interrupted constantly with questions and still end up working.

    25. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Lunches at my work are paid and nobody tracks them. It’s actually fairly rare for people to eat at their desks, and many people go grab food and eat together in the kitchen. It’s hard for me to say how long lunches typically are, but nobody would flinch at someone regularly taking hourlong lunches, and I’m pretty sure some people do. We probably have 150 people in the office, so there’s not really any one person keeping track!

    26. Anxa*

      I am lucky enough not to have to take a lunch break. Every hour at work I have ten minutes to work on more administrative tasks and do prep. Most hours I work with clients through the time, but I some I use for a snack break. I bring in snack that are quick to eat and calorie dense.

      At one point I worked longer days and was given the option of a lunch break, unpaid. I chose not to take it and just ate during slower periods.

    27. asteramella*

      I’m exempt and almost always eat a packed lunch at my desk while working. I’m not opposed to taking a full hour and unplugging from work, and in fact that’s what I’d prefer, but 1) my building has break rooms that accommodate maybe 30 people total, and my company has ~300 employees, so the break rooms are always jam packed, and 2) my building is somewhat geographically isolated, so going off-campus means at least 30 minutes of your lunch will be spent in traffic. I’d rather just take a working lunch and wrap up my day earlier.

      Every once in a while I’ll meet a friend off-campus for lunch, which usually takes me away from work for about 90 minutes.

    28. Hazel Asperg*

      One hour, unpaid. Everyone tends to nip out to the shops to get something then comes back and have lunch at their desk. I take the opportunity to have a walk through the park on my way there, which really breaks up the day. I sometimes eat my lunch in the park as it’s much nicer than sitting in front of my emails.

    29. Melissa*

      I work for a city government. We get 30 minutes unpaid, and two 15-minutes breaks paid. Most of us combine them to take an hour’s lunch.

      We also have a break room that is designed to make us want to eat in there, instead of at our desks. Two microwaves, one fridge/freezer combo, and one fridge only. Coke machine, snack machine. Multiple tables, and some easy chairs by the windows for reading.

      There have been times I’ve been so involved in a project I’ve just popped across the street to a sandwich shop and continued working, and it’s not a big deal.

      Most importantly, the supervisors model taking a real break for their staffs. Sometimes, they even come with groups of us for pizza, or to other favorite places.

  29. Sunflower*

    Has anyone read any good books, specifically geared towards women, on being more assertive? Or books about women and leadership?

    1. Dawn*

      I’ve read “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers”- it’d be a good start!

    2. Jen*

      I hate the title but I do like Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. It has a bunch of things that women do to minimize themselves at work and it helps you become more aware of your issues and what you can do to change them.

    3. Accountant*

      Ask For It by Linda Babcock is good. It’s about negotiating, but it starts out just getting you used to the idea of asking for things through a series of increasingly assertive asking exercises. It’s been a while since I read it, but I seem to remember it starting out with things like asking for more towels in your hotel room. Then maybe calling the cable company and asking for a lower rate. Then later it goes into workplace negotiations.

  30. petpet*

    I had my first interview in two years earlier this week, and I just got notice that they want me to come do a second-round interview! I’m so pumped!

  31. LizB*

    I really need to get a handle on my knee-jerk defensiveness. I haven’t been behaving unprofessionally, but it really irks me when someone questions my work or implies I can’t handle it, and I need to cut down on that emotional reaction. Usually these comments aren’t even that big a deal, I just take them the wrong way, and once I’ve had a minute to think about it I’m less annoyed. I need to figure out how to remind myself to take a step back before I get upset about something.

    An example from yesterday: I’ve been working on this teapot order for way longer that it should be taking me, because the organization that can give me the specs I need to complete it has been completely non-responsive. I’ve called a dozen different people, left voicemails, played phone tag, driven 40 minutes out of my way to try and pick up documentation that turned out to be incomplete, emphasized over and over how urgently I need this information, tried every method I can think of to get the information I need… but after a certain point, I’m at the mercy of other people. I was giving my boss an update about this order, and he kept asking if I had tried contacting X person or Y person — I responded yes, I started with Y person, who referred me to X person, and so did W U V P and Q people, but X person insists she doesn’t have the data I need, so I’m trying with B person now. His response was, “Well, try and get it figured out soon, because this case has been open way too long — we need a faster turn-around time.”

    I just said “Okay” cheerfully and went back to my work, but on the inside I was screaming, “I KNOW THAT! I’m the one who’s made thirty different phone calls and sent five faxes to five different people trying to get this resolved, I know it’s taking forever, I don’t know WHY person X doesn’t have the data for me, but I can’t make it appear in her files through sheer force of will! I’m checking in on this case every single day, and I keep getting sent around in circles, and I don’t know what else I can do since I don’t have a magic wand to wave to make this person give me the info!” Looking back on it, he wasn’t trying to insult my work ethic or imply I haven’t been working hard, but that’s absolutely what it felt like in the moment. I need to try and squash those feelings, because I don’t want them to affect my work.

    1. afiendishthingy*

      No advice, just a “me too.” I think I’m better than I used to be, but I still get insecure and defensive sometimes. I try to just remember that my competence and worth doesn’t change based on what other people say or think, and to separate “the employee in the Teapot Analysis department, whose name is Afiendishthingy” from “Afiendishthingy the Person”. It’s hard though.

    2. Dawn*

      Hm. A couple things stand out here (from a former “gets totally defensive” person!) One is that it seems like you’re going way above and beyond what you need to do in order to get information from people- particularly the “drove 40 minutes out of my way to get incomplete documentation.” So that could be driving some of the defensiveness- a subconscious feeling of “But I ALWAYS go the extra mile! I ALWAYS martyr myself! Why doesn’t anyone CARE like I do?” That’s one area you could scale back greatly on- sure, extend a hand to help someone where you can, but hold other people responsible for their own stuff. This could look like asking someone for a file twice and then going to your boss or their boss and asking what you can do to get the file.

      Another thing is the meeting with your boss. One way to head things like that off at the pass is keeping your boss informed of everything you’ve done so far in a nice bullet point email before you go into an update meeting. So it’d be like “Teapot Order 214- Waiting on X (emailed Fergus on this date. Called on this date. he said he’d have it by yesterday. Called yesterday afternoon and left voicemail. No contact today) etc. etc. etc.” That way you have something to point to and say “I have tried all these things and I am still stuck. Can you please help me figure out what to do next?” That way your boss knows *exactly* what you have already done and can see all the work you’ve put in! Now, if your boss is still a butt after that it’s probably a bigger problem than you being defensive :) However approaching it from that angle- “Hey I’ve tried everything I know to do and there’s still a problem, I need you, as my manager, to help me!”- will go a long way towards making you feel less defensive.

      1. LizB*

        The “40 minutes out of my way” thing was a bit of an exaggeration — it was 40 minutes, but driving to get documentation is technically part of my job, and we get reimbursed for mileage. This organization is just waaaay outside of my usual work area, literally in the opposite direction from the other places I needed to go that day. So, mildly annoying, but not actually outside the scope of my job.

        This is a big part of my frustration — I keep detailed case notes in our reporting system, and also update the spreadsheet my boss insists on using for case notes because he doesn’t understand how to read our reporting system, so he has access to my progress in two different written forms. I’ve also spoken to him about this case before several times, and each time I remind him of the context and the steps I’ve taken. The problem is, he doesn’t seem to retain even the tiniest memory of this case (or any case, for that matter); every single time I bring it up, I explain everything about it in great detail, and then I inevitably have to re-explain that yes, I did do Obvious Step A two weeks ago, and I also did Obvious Step B last week. I don’t expect him to know as much about my cases as I do, but it’s so frustrating to say “So I’m still having trouble with the White Chocolate Teapots case, the one with the new spout design” and get “Wait, which case is that?” in response! He doesn’t remember the basic context, he doesn’t remember any of our previous conversations, he doesn’t remember the advice he’s given me previously… I’ve been busting my butt, and he somehow doesn’t know that I’ve been doing any work at all, so he keeps giving me these obnoxious prompts to just work harder/get it done faster. I don’t know if I’m expecting too much of him, but it’s really starting to annoy me.

        1. Dawn*

          Ha ha ha OK that sounds like your boss is just a super frustrating person to work with! If you’re doing your best to keep him up to date on everything and it’s still not working, it might ultimately be a personality clash unfortunately.

    3. Lib Lady*

      It sounds like you are quickly recognizing the feelings as defensiveness when they happen and you are preventing yourself from reacting outwardly in the moment. I think you are doing great!

    4. Ad Astra*

      I can be that way, too. It sounds like you’re doing a pretty good job of not saying defensive things when you’re feeling defensive. I also had a boss who made me walk him through every project from the beginning whenever I had a problem, so you have my sympathy there.

      Instead of “ok,” you can always respond to your boss with something like “Yeah, I agree” or “That’s the goal!” or something that indicates you’re aware that, yes, you know that. Just make sure it’s a comment that comes off as collaborative and not combative. It might make you feel a little more in control of the situation.

      1. LizB*

        My problem is, whenever I say something longer than “Okay!” I feel like I end up sounding snarky — I’ve tried things like “That’s the goal!” or “Yep, I’ll keep working on it,” and I feel like he must be able to hear the “I’m so frustrated I want you to drop through the floor right now” edge to my voice. Maybe I’ll just have to work on that.

    5. Argh!*

      If you report on having trouble getting something done without listing the things you’ve tried, it’s your boss’s job to make sure you did those things. You didn’t communicate them, so the boss solicited them. Why take it personally? How would your boss know if you hadn’t said it at the outset?

      1. LizB*

        The problem is I have communicated with him about what I’ve done, multiple times in multiple formats, and quite recently — he just apparently doesn’t remember. I don’t expect him to remember all the details of what I’ve been up to, but I do expect that if I say “I’m still working on the White Chocolate Teapots case with the weird spouts,” he won’t respond with, “Have you tried calling White Chocolate Teapots?” I realize he means well, but being constantly asked if I’ve thought about doing [Extremely Obvious First Step], when he knows I’ve already done that, feels pretty insulting.

        1. katamia*

          Oh, man, I’m exactly the same way. It feels like they’re implying I’m stupid even though rationally I know they’re not. No advice, though, just sympathy.

        2. Pinkie Pie Chart*

          Have you asked (actually asked) him to take it up the chain? You’ve done everything (and more) that you could do and have gotten no response. He should be able to light a fire under their asses, or at the very least, connect with someone who can.

          I feel you so much. We’re in the process of trying to figure out a problem with our hosting service. It’s been nearly a month and we have finally (finally!) gotten a real live human being who has replicated our problem. Of course, we haven’t gotten a fix, or even an acknowledgement that this really is a problem that they need to fix, but baby steps…

    6. Jinx*

      I’m looking forward to reading the suggestions on this, since defensiveness is something I struggle with. I work on a developer team, and sometimes it feels like we only get recognized for making mistakes.

      One time, I got a communication from a QA person reporting a defect in a completely new piece that had a lot of complicated interconnections. I confirmed that it was a problem and said I’d fix it, and she responded “Don’t you guys test before giving things to us?” Yes, we do test, which is why only one problem got through instead of ten. That was probably the angriest I’ve been in a work situation, so it’s a good thing that conversation was over IM. :/

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Well, I am going the opposite way on this one. When you started your post I thought you were going to tell us about some little things that come up here and there. That’s not what you told us.
      You told us about a boss that has no idea what you do or how you do it. And you told us about how he provides absolutely NO support when you need help. Then the icing on the cake, he can’t even remember what you are working on.

      At this point, I want to leave YOUR job. It’s not even my job!

      The way I read your post is that you had problem X. You did 27 things to try to pull it together, nothing worked. You went to the boss saying “I am having a problem” and he replied with “work harder”. The guy is so disconnected from your work he might as well be in the opposite hemisphere.

      No, he wasn’t trying to insult your work ethic, it’s more like he was trying NOT to work himself. It’s probably not helpful to you, but I don’t see any evidence here that says you have a problem with knee-jerk defensiveness. I think your boss needs to be aware of what you are doing and the great lengths you go to in order to accomplish your mission. If it were me I would be hopping angry that my boss was so lazy.

      So I guess that every Monday I would give him a list of projects that I am working on for the week. I would also sit down and tell him that once in a while I hit a brick wall and I could use his advice or his actual intervention in some instances.

      In your boss’ favor I will say this: Sometimes a boss gets a good employee and they forget what goes into the job. They need the good employee to stop them in their tracks with, “Time out! I need some insight or intervention here.” At that point I would explain, “I have done these 27 things and I have come up empty. I need an authority figure to step in or I need some additional resources that I am not aware of.” A good boss will stop what they are doing and provide whatever they can to help the situation.
      It could be that you are what my husband called an “automatic employee”, you need very little supervision and you have very few problems that you cannot solve on your own. Sometimes bosses get so used to everything humming along that they are genuinely surprised to hear that the good employee hit a bump in the road. Not sure if this applies to your situation- I am taking a shot in the dark here. It sounds like you are pretty resourceful and you stick to something until it’s done. I am willing to bet your boss has gotten used to this.

      1. LizB*

        I don’t think he’s lazy, but he’s brand new to managing, brand new to this kind of work, and… maybe not the sharpest tool in the shed? Or has least has some organization and memory problems? He always seems to make tasks as complicated as humanly possible, and doesn’t seem to have a good sense of how to manage people — sometimes he’s intensely micromanage-y, sometimes he’s way too hands-off and unhelpful. I also think he knows next to nothing about the very complicated and political field we’re working in, so when I go to him with questions he doesn’t really know what to suggest, so he just gives a vague non-answer or ends up putting it back on me. I’m definitely an “automatic employee” — if I’m going to my manager with a question, it’s because I’ve looked for the answer in ten different places already and I really, truly can’t find it, so his lack of support is extra annoying to me. I know he’s still learning, but I really wish he’d learn faster, because right now he’s fairly useless as a manager.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ohhh… perhaps he is still a bit nervous, also. Okay. So I guess I would have a serious talk with him about the types of things you need from him. While I would not be rude/demanding I would not just let it go either. He is never going to learn his job if he is not facing what he needs to do.

          Maybe you could ask him if it is okay for you to email updates on Mondays so he can know what it is you’re working on. When you do have a question let him know what your routine procedure is and then explain how it did not work this time. While I hate saying, “Old Boss did x when faced with y situation.” You could say, “I need a person with your level of authority stepping in here and doing x so I can get z which fixes y problem.” I have used that a lot with new bosses, I emphasize that I don’t have the authority to proceed but they do.

          Basically I would go instance by instance and teach him how to support me in doing my work for him. I hate it when this happens. But I usually end up in a good place, the boss lets me just do my job without bs because he knows I CAN do my job. It takes a few chats to get to that place, though.

          Notice how I am skipping the micro-management stuff and the other stuff. Not my job to fix all that. I just focus on what parts impact me and I focus on my relationship with the boss. If he’s going to be a decent boss other things will fall into place as you go along.

  32. Mike C.*

    Holy crap I’m having an awesome week. I just commandeered a double sized cubicle normally reserved for management in an area that is nearly devoid of other employees and other distractions. High walls and one of the walls is a magnetic whiteboard. The best part is that I’m no longer a whole bay away from my direct manager. And if I need folks, there’s actually room for 3-4 in here.

  33. Sunny*

    How do you guys balance looking for a a job and your regular life?

    When I have an upcoming interview and need to do a presentation, I don’t have time for anything else; laundry, unloading a dishwasher etc. And I am lucky! I don’t have kids or a spouse and I work part time. The interview process is not draining, but the drain on my personal life is suffering!

    By the way, when others were dreaming about the lottery a couple of weeks ago, I was dreaming about how great a new job would be.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      How often are you interviewing? What aspects of your personal life are suffering? Is it a matter of actually not having time, or not having the energy for other things?

      I’m taking a break from my job search because it was too hard for me to have a balance. I was lucky in that I got a bunch of interviews – but the time I spent planning, worrying, arranging my schedule so no one at work suspected and actually going to the interview became so exhausting that I didn’t have much energy for anything else.

      1. Sunny*

        Not super often as there are not a ton of jobs that I am applying for. I have had three since November, two in the last month. For the last two, I got to make presentations. I think the making of the presentations was the most time-consuming part and didn’t allow me to investigate the company as much as I normally would. Maybe the fact that these were back to back and it sort of killed me?

        1. Sunflower*

          How much time are you spending preparing for these interviews? Is it the interview prep or the searching and applying that are exhausting you? Because they are two very different things.

      2. Tris Prior*

        yes, this! I feel like job hunting is my second full-time job (and I’m working full time plus running my own business on the side), which is why I posted my “how do you know if you’re looking hard enough” question below.

        It is so exhausting! Not just looking/applying, but little things you don’t think of until you have an interview – like, for me, having to go find a professional-looking purse and shoes because I didn’t own any.

        My only advice is to try and streamline other stuff in your life to make it easy on yourself – like, I picked up some easy ready-made food because my scratch-cooking time is being taken up with the job hunt. And staying up really late to get chores done. It SUCKS. :(

  34. Temperance*

    What are some useful tips on how to push back when work is being delegated to you that isn’t really part of your job description? For reference, I’m an attorney and have been recently delegated some marketing pieces for our program, which isn’t really my job (nor, candidly, is it something I am interested in doing or a skill that I want to develop).

    Any advice? I already set their deadlines after my other work/more pressing work, but they still expect me to do these drafts for them. I admit that I’m a little bitter because our Marketing people are either constantly “working from home” or out the door at 4:59 p.m., which is not the case for me.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I work at a small company and this happens to me a lot because we don’t have an administrative assistant or anything. I usually say something like “You know, this isn’t really my area of expertise – do you think Jane might be able to do it better or faster?” Another example I have: I was asked to stuff envelopes and do mailers. I pointed out how expensive these mailings were becoming when I spent my time doing them, and how it was taking my time away from higher-level work, and asked if he wanted to outsource it to another company, or if there was someone else who could do it without making it really expensive.

    2. ThisLawyerLife*

      I’m coming at this from the perspective of a law firm associate, so take with a grain of salt if you are differently situated, but this kind of request is pretty typical at my firm and there is not really a way to push back completely. Assisting with marketing, pitches, articles, etc. is just part of the non-billable work we’re expected to do as good firm citizens, though we do get some credit toward our billable hours.

      One soft way to push back would be to tell them that you can assist, but not until X date when your schedule clears. If you can be assistance at that time, they can let you know. They have to decide whether they want to wait. Or instead of drafting the pieces for them, can you just direct them to the information they need and let them know you are happy to offer comments on their final draft?

      To push back completely, you may need buy-in from your supervisor. During that conversation, I would be sure you can articulate why it doesn’t make sense from a business perspective for you to do it instead of focusing on why you don’t want to do it (which believe me, I totally get!).

      1. Sunflower*

        I work in marketing at a law firm so I second this! Ask your manager how much you are expected to contribute. Without knowing what you are asked to do or about your firm, I’m not sure if it’s reasonable or over the top.

    3. Professionally Anon*

      Can you go to your manager and discuss it? A lot of work that other people don’t want to do gets dumped on our office and she’s really good at telling us how to respond to that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is good advice for any work setting. When someone outside your department gives you work, check with the boss to see if she approved it and you have clearance to work on it. (Two steps here, she may have approved it but she meant for Bob to work on it.)

    4. anon attorney*

      Hi there. I also have this happen to me. I think it’s difficult to avoid altogether or st least without incurring some career detriment. I like to see it as proactively managing the client base; in other words, if I can have some influence over how we market our services I can cut out some of the frustration and time wasting that arises from fielding inquiries from potential new clients that are not a good fit for our fee or service levels. So if you can see it as a firm of optimising that might pay off further down the pipeline, it might feel less of an imposition? Saying that, I must admit I rather like doing a bit of copywriting, so it’s not hugely onerous for me, if you’re not so keen on that it must be a PITA.

  35. anon47*

    Hi folks! I’m in the middle of interviews (thanks to great advice from AAM) for several different organizations. I’m excited about them, and have been thinking about leaving my job (and city) for a while, so it seems like it’s all good, right?

    Except now I’m getting cold feet! My supervisor is totally supportive of my job search, but also mentioned that my contract is more stable than previously thought, and a big project is coming up that he wants to recommend me for, which would be a big promotion. Also, the city I live in and have been so unhappy in for the past 4 years is slowly starting to not suck so much. Everyone told me it takes 4-5 years to feel settled here, and I guess that’s happening. Also also, this organization pays far above industry standard, so I would be taking a 20-30k pay cut wherever I go, although the cost of living is much cheaper most other places too.

    The reasons I’ve been wanting to leave: unstable contract, city I don’t want to be in forever, boss that’s a friend but also full of anger and hard to work with, wanting to grow in my role in ways the organization can’t support. But, the contract is better, the city is growing on me, the boss might change, and there may be some room for growth.

    I’ve moved around every 2-4 years since high school, so part of this might be itchy feet and the grass looking greener on the other side. How do I think this out and make the right choice?

    1. lulu*

      Sounds to me like you have graduation goggles (the rosy colored glasses you get when you’re about to leave a place or a relationship). The city is slowly starting to suck less (1) after 4 years? There “might” be a big project coming soon for you to be involved in? Your boss is trying to retain you, which makes sense, but ask yourself if anything has actually changed. Then weigh that against any offers you might receive. Do the math on the pay cut vs. lower cost of living. Basically keep on going with your job search and make the decision when you have an offer in hand

    2. Ms. Anne Thrope*

      The boss won’t change. You may get used to the city or whatever, but if the boss is angry and difficult, he’s angry and difficult forever.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, if Boss thinks OP is set on leaving he could be doing Mr Nice Guy on a temporary basis.

    3. IT_Guy*

      Don’t believe the boss about the contract work if it’s not in writing. The contract is most likely something you have now way of influencing, and could get blindsided if/when it changes.

    4. Bubba*

      I am sort of going through the same thing! I really do think it’s the syndrome of suddenly thinking, “oh, maybe he’s not really so bad” just before you break up with someone. But it is very disconcerting to have this sudden reversal of feeling as I get closer and closer to actually making my move.

    5. Sunflower*

      I wouldn’t blame this on cold feet or grass being greener. Your boss is mean, you’ve plateaued at your company, you don’t like the city. If everything was going great at work and you still wanted to move, then maybe I could see it. Sounds the money is the only thing tempting to keep you there. Depending on where you live now and where you’re looking to move, 20-30k might not even be that that much. For example, you can live in the midwest on 50k WAY better than you can live on 75k in SF

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I think you should collect up more facts before making a final decision. Find out about these companies, their culture and their cities. Sometimes indecision or mixed emotions comes from simply not having enough facts.

      Another trick you can do is picture yourself five years from now or ten years from now. Where are you? What are you doing? Sometimes this question just brings me back to reality because I instantly say, “NOT HERE!” A knee jerk reaction can tell us everything we need to know about what we want.

      I don’t see any problem with moving about. The problem comes in when we are not deliberate about our decisions. Know your own personal goals and know what is important to you. Nail that stuff down. Now which job meshes the best with your goals and with what is important to you?

  36. Irma*

    I was just terminated from a job because I took an extended leave of absence. This absence was a sick leave covered by a doctor’s note; I have major depression and was suicidal and had to not be in my triggering workplace. Because this workplace does not have FMLA (it’s too small), everything was done slap-dash without anyone communicating with me but of course I knew that my position wasn’t air-tight and wouldn’t necessarily be waiting for me.

    It wasn’t, I was fired, and now I am worried that this company will not approve Unemployment Insurance out of spite because I “abandoned” my job and was “absentee.” What should I do if this happens? I have doctor’s notes and I have a diagnosis that is well documented.

    1. HR Recruiter*

      Check and see if your diagnosis qualifies as a disability under the ADA. Your leave of absence may have been covered by ADA. You won’t know if they will approve unemployment until you try.

      1. Irma*

        The diagnosis does qualify. The question is: Do *they* know that at my erstwhile place of employment? I’ve already put in my claim to the Dept of Labor. I’m hoping they approve it.

        1. Elle the new Fed*

          Make sure you have the documents about the time off being medically necessary and you can present that to the Dept of Labor if your former employer disputes the claim.

        2. fposte*

          Smart to put in a claim. At this point it doesn’t matter what we say–it’s what the DOL says.

    2. Jerzy*

      You might want to look into disability insurance in addition to unemployment insurance. If you can’t/couldn’t work due to a medical condition (and mental illness is a medical condition) you might be covered. Unfortunately, the system isn’t the easiest to navigate in some states, which is a shame because the people who need it the most are the people who can least afford to be jerked around.

      Talk to your doctor and reach out to the local disability office, as well as applying for your unemployment insurance.

    3. LQ*

      File unemployment. Be as detailed as you can be with all your conversations and documentations. They may need you to fill out multiple forms. Keep filling them out. Apply right away, don’t wait.

      You may have another issue with unemployment, if you aren’t currently able to work you may not be eligible that way. If that happens make sure you know exactly what you need to do when you are able to work to show them that you can start collecting.

    4. fposte*

      Then you file an appeal.

      Given your situation, you may also need documentation that you’re medically fit for work again, because you have to be willing and able to accept work to be eligible for UI; you may need to make it clear you’re not saying you were too disabled to work but not too disabled to be eligible for UI.

      1. LQ*

        Yes, if your employer tries to object, file an appeal. (It varies from state to state, but it shouldn’t be too onerous to do.) Absolutely appeal.

    5. Meg*

      You may also want to check your state medical leave acts to see if your leave qualified under that – many states have leave policies that cover smaller workplaces and/or kick in in shorter timeframes than FMLA.

  37. Audiophile*

    I’ve been waiting for the open thread, hit refresh around 11 but no open thread, and then forgot to hit refresh again until just now. Grr.

    Anyway, I’m hoping to get some tips on the best way to diplomatically ask my manager to provide context when she asks to speak with me. The current method isn’t working for me, it’s too vague and just sends me into an immediate panic that I’m going to be told I screwed something up or that they’re letting me go.

    Does anyone have any ideas? I know she can provide context because she’s done it before, but is there anyway I can get her to regularly do this?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I usually ask “Is there anything data (or whatever is appropriate for your job) that you want me to bring to this meeting to help the discussion?” Or something along those lines.

      1. Audiophile*

        I like this idea. Asking if I should bring anything, should provide the little bit of context that I’m looking for.

    2. Jules the First*

      You sound like you have a bit of toxic oldjob post traumatic stress. You should be talking to your boss regularly, so 90% of the time it will be nothing to worry about.

      You could ask her if the two of you could have a weekly standing meetig for this sort of stuff, or you could just reply to her requests with ‘sure – woulf it be useful if I prepared something for this?’ It will depend on your relationship with your manager.

      1. Audiophile*

        I’ve definitely worked in some toxic environments. In previous jobs, I wasn’t told I did something wrong right away, sometimes it would be weeks or months later. And the last time I had a job in this field (communications/marketing/social media) it was a disaster and I was told everything was fine until it wasn’t and I was being dismissed.

        So while my current job is the complete opposite of the disastrous one, in that I’m regularly praised and told my work is acceptable, it’s hard to keep from thinking the worst when I get a vague request like that.

        We do talk pretty regularly, but it’s still jarring to be summoned without context.

        I’m not worried about losing my job, but it’s hard not to think that in the moment.

        1. BRR*

          I would just say, “I get a little anxious being asked to come to your office, would you be able to give me a heads up what it’s about.”

          1. Audiophile*

            I like this a lot. I know she doesn’t realize it’s making me anxious. And I’m sure once I tell her it will resolve this or at least lessen it a little bit.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think a second step is necessary here, too. Ask her how you are doing. Mix that question in with other questions. You can make offers where appropriate, “Oh I see that X needs some work. Would you like me to work on it in my spare time?” You might find that you have a situation where you have to chose between A and B and you are stymied. Ask her for a rule of thumb when you encounter the A/B dilemma.

      Reassurance comes from more than one place. It’s reassuring to know your boss’ thinking on things. It’s also reassuring to know that you can ask questions. There are many ways a boss can convey “all is well”. Find more ways that you feel reassured about your boss and your continuing employment.

  38. Carrie in Scotland*

    I’m having a bit of a rubbish week. I had 2 interviews last week for 3 positions and was rejected for all of them. I asked for feedback for the job with 2 positions open (which I really wanted) which boiled down to no being specific enough in my answers or detail. It was my first experience of a behavioural interview but I’ve now got a mere 11.5 days left of my current job before I move home to a city whose reliance on 1 industry is undergoing mass layoffs.

    Still though, maybe I’ll get the next job I’m applying for…right?

    1. Intern Wrangler*

      Right. I know it’s tough, but look at what you’ve learned and how you will be able to bring that forward. All you need is one job offer, if it’s the right one. Hang in there!

    2. Elle the new Fed*

      Ugh, that is really tough. If you have friends who can help you practice your interviews, definitely do that. It’s really awkward at first, but at someone who interviews full time (and I had only conducted a handful before getting hired!) then it will get more comfortable with time.

      I’m sending positive thoughts though. You may definitely get the next job :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You only need one day and one job. Positive vibes going out to you. It ain’t over yet. Hang tough.

  39. alice*

    What irks you most about your workplace? Even if you love it, there’s something.

    Mine: my boss selectively replies to emails. If it’s something he doesn’t want to deal with, he’ll ignore it while replying about more “pleasant” things.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      The complete and utter lack of communication. Oh you need that tomorrow? Why is this the first I’m hearing about it?

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      I have to pick just one thing?

      In general, I’d say it’s emails. NO ONE emails the way I’d like them to. They respond to older threads without checking to see if there is something more recent that answers their question. They don’t check their sent or archived mail. They cc EVERYONE without any thought as to whether a certain person needs to be copied. They don’t CC people when it actually IS necessary.

    3. super anon*

      a lack of communication! it drives me absolutely batty – if you do someone that annoys/irritates/bothers someone, or they perceive that you’ve slighted them in some way, they’ll either a) go to your manager to complain about you, or b) file an official grievance against your for bullying, etc. you also can’t ask people directly for something, if you do it’s seen a rude and unprofessional and people will complain about you. you also need to pad out all of your emails, requests with filler words (think: “hi wakeen, i’m just wondering if it would be possible for you to attach the handles to the teapots? if so – could you tell me when you think the handles could be attached? if you’re too busy it’s ok! i just wanted to get an eta! have a great day!” when what you really mean is “we need this done asap because the deadline is in 30 minutes. do it now”) i’m used to being more direct in my communication and talking to people when i have issues, etc so it’s been hard for me to adjust.

      1. Random citizen*

        YES, this!!! Except no one tells a manager or files an official grievance if they’re annoyed by something – at best you’ll get a complaint to a coworker, so you’ve got random people upset at each other for who-even-knows-why-anymore. The best/worst part is that I get along pretty well with most of the people I work with – I like them, enjoy working and occasionally chatting with them, and I’m always trying to be awesome at my job/get them information/files they need in time, etc. So I get to be the go between for various coworkers who are sort-of, not really, speaking to each other. Drives me insane! But I love my workplace and coworkers, I really do. It’s just that I wish they would all for Pete’s sake TALK TO EACH OTHER!!

      2. Olie*

        I have a co-worker that gossips and complains about everyone. The problem is, she is easily offended and loves drama, and so complains to our manager about petty issues that have been left to fester instead of addressing it. Unfortunately, I think that the manager thinks that he/she is being a good boss by addressing these concerns with the accused party, but is really just enabling this coworker to make overblown complaints that would otherwise be no big deal. Oh, and she CCs everyone for “Thank you!”.

    4. Kelly L.*

      People just picking out a keyword and making up what they think the rest of your words say.

      So if I say out loud, or email, a message like “I need to know how many teapots to order by Friday,” I’ll get “The teapots are green.” It’s like emailing Paypal’s automated customer service, except it even happens when I’m standing right there talking to the person.

    5. Sascha*

      People being territorial about their work or systems. I’m in higher ed IT, and I’ve spent that last 6 years trying to figure out how data gets from one place to another on campus. I’m not asking for access, I’m not asking for the data, I’m not even asking anyone to do extra work – I simply want to know the flow, so when a student calls me up with a problem, I know where to send them. It’s like pulling teeth to get anyone to open up around here.

      1. Anna*

        See, mine is the opposite. People thinking they can or should have a say in how something I’m responsible for is done. These are peers and do not have any say over anything I do. I know they probably think they’re being helpful but it actually feels like they think they should be involved in all decision making because it touches on their areas. Guess what! They do not!

    6. Mockingjay*

      Emails from the laziest guy in the building:

      “Where is this file?” The same SharePoint folder those files are always in. You posted in that folder yesterday, so you had to have seen it.

      “What’s the status of this document?” I get this one when his boss leans on him for status the day before the document is due. I finally asked him, “Fred, did you actually look at the file?” “Well, no.” “Here, let’s pull it up. As you can clearly see in the metadata, I have addressed all the comments and have produced the final document. I sent you and the boss a workflow for approval.” “Oh.”

      Next month: “What’s the status?”

      *Head bangs on desk.*

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Just this week I had “Where is this file”‘s evil twin – “It would be nice if we had an electronic copy of the spout attachment SOP” “There is. It’s in the ‘Assembly SOPs’ folder”.

    7. Ama*

      Oh, I’ve had this this week — it’s that my department seems to have busy periods that are the exact opposite of every other department here. It’s been particularly pronounced this month because operations is taking advantage of being past year end and before our events schedule really heats up to schedule all these HR things (we had harrassment training yesterday, the retirement account planners were here earlier in the week, etc.). Meanwhile I had one major project deadline on January 15 and another next week. Everyone else here is so events oriented that even though they know I’m working on stuff they just keep forgetting that my busiest periods don’t show up on our event calendar.

    8. Lia*

      The habit almost everyone here has of calling and NOT leaving a message nor sending a followup email if they need something. So if I am out of my office, come back, and my phone is flashing “missed call” I have no context to place it in, have to call the other person, and hope they are a) there and b) remember what it was about.


      1. LQ*

        This happens, I never call people back, I email them and say, “Noticed you call, if you still need something send me an email.” I only have a few people who still do the call and call and call at different times hoping to get me. (It helps a lot that I am often away from my desk so I can’t take a phone call but I can email.)

        1. alice*

          This happens to me all the time as well, and I never call people back either. They can use their words if they want to communicate :)

        2. Lia*

          I would do this, but the absolute worst offender is actually my boss, and he is cr*p at replying to email. I often have to send him things multiple times because I will send it, it vanishes into a black hole, and he’ll call a week later and say “did you ever do that project?” and I will reply “yes, I sent it on the 22nd”. I often call him after I send the email to prompt him to check it.

          My issue is also I hate the damned phone. Ugh.

    9. Argh!*

      My boss doesn’t reply to almost any of my e-mails. I want to believe it’s because she’s too busy, but she responds to just enough of them for me to know that my e-mails are not usually a priorty.

      But my #1 peeve is that everybody is a “private person” including people who I consider work pals. I don’t want to pry into people’s business, but the death of a spouse, getting a divorce, having a baby, etc. are major life things that friendly people let their friends know about. I appreciate this place not being gossipy but this is ridiculous. I never get a chance to send condolences or congratulations, or some people do but I’m out of the loop so I wonder whether to take it personally or whether they feel I snubbed them. It’s all just so cold.

    10. LQ*

      I have a coworker who I think is awesome, but she is super super hung up on another coworker’s perpetual 1 minute lateness. (We are in a place where it sort of matters, our boss doesn’t care.) It negates some of the very legitimate concerns about the other coworker not getting work done, but it focuses so much on the wrong problem and it’s hard to say, “If you want to complain, complain that her work isn’t getting it done which reflects on all of us and means you and I have to do it, don’t complain about when she shows up.” a thousand times.

        1. LQ*

          For me it is so much that it overwhelms all legitimate problems and is super bitch eating crackers mode thing. Like the lateness is nothing. The not getting work done is an actual, legit issue that needs to be addressed. But she can’t get past one to complain about the other in a way that our manager will listen to.

          (She’s sort of the team lead, I’m kind of team adjacent so this is her thing for her to deal with. MUAHAHAHHA I mean…)

    11. BRR*

      It’s completely open->the one person who I know more about than I know about myself.
      People emailing… well I was going to say articles about it’s so much crap I don’t even know how to list it.
      Our phones act as a PA system.
      The biggest is just get your shit together. Start meetings when they’re scheduled. Don’t use a conference room if you don’t schedule it. Cancel the conference room if you don’t need it.

    12. JDrives*

      The fact that none of my 3 higher-ups check email timely. Every one of them will check in with me on the status of something that I have already emailed them about, and when I tell them it’s been done, they ask “Well did you email me/copy me on that email??” It takes every iota of willpower to drain the snark from my voice and reply “Yes, I sent off that form, and yes I copied you on the email when I sent it last Wednesday.”

    13. Not So NewReader*

      The staggering amount of regs. It is not possible to comply with them all, there is not enough time. And we just keep getting more regs. People who write regs should be forced to actually work under the regs they write.

    14. Anonymity*

      The constantly breaking tech.
      Co-workers who need their hands held on processes they’ve been doing for months.
      Co-workers who come to me for every problem because I helped them once with a completely different thing.
      People who send us the wrong data (or no data!) and then are mad that things aren’t done on time.
      People who make department wide decisions without consulting more than their select few direct reports (because it’s not like the rest of us do anything or might have input or concerns).
      The supervisor who is no longer MY supervisor but still occasionally tries to treat me like I report to him.

    15. Anonymosity*

      That our fiscal year ends in June, not December. It messes you up if you want to travel in the summer because we only get 40 hours PTO rollover. It’s good if you’re more flexible and can travel in spring, which is part of shoulder season and cheaper anyway. The company will let you go 40 hours in the hole and then you ahve to make it up before you get actual PTO again, but then if you have to take off for illness or whatever, you don’t get paid for it.
      I’m not a parent, but that has to be difficult because most schools don’t end until late May or June. Planning a family vacation would be hard. If you go overseas, it’s not really worth the money for only a week.

    16. Raia*

      No standard communications procedures or policies. Also, getting calls to tell you what was already sent in an email by the caller 5 minutes ago.

  40. cwc123*

    I am in the middle of an interview process at a large company for an entry-level role. I had the phone screen which went well, since I made it to the next round of screening (a writing test). The HR contact said I would hear back with next steps 1-2 days after sending in the test but I heard from her with an update that the process was being pushed back due to people being out of town and I would hear something early this week. Yesterday I got an email apologizing for the delay. The HR contact mentioned the team is currently in the process of reviewing writing tests but is waiting to finish with some phone screens first before moving onto the next steps. (One very positive thing is I have not yet had to email her for a response and she has been proactive about keeping me informed)
    I am worried this means I am a middle-of-the-pack candidate and while they are not jumping to bring me in, they are keeping me in mind if nobody better comes along. Should I be worried that they are further delaying the process or is it normal for companies to bring everyone to the same step of the process before moving them forward?

    1. BRR*

      Assume you didn’t get the job and move on mentally. If you get an interview you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And there can be a million things delaying the hiring process.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      I don’t really know that there is a normal, but it does make sense. Probably makes the hiring process simpler if everyone is at roughly the same stage, especially if they have any candidates that had to reschedule a phone screen or couldn’t do it right away.

  41. Susiecq*

    My boss jokes (or is serious?) about why we, as employees, can’t get raises. For example he pointa put to my team, “Oh, looks like they bought 20 new computers. If you ever wonder why you aren’t getting a raise, that’s why!” But he says it in a joking way. This makes me feel we won’t be able to comfortably approach him about raises or pay (we are hourly, but traditionally my type of work is salaried.) I’m not sure how to take that kind of information!

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      “But what are you going to do with all those shiny new computers when your employees leave for better paying jobs?

      1. Susiecq*

        Haha I love it! You hit the nail on the head. More often than not, that’s exactly what people here do!

      1. Susiecq*

        Right? I think though most of my coworkers have become desensitized to his weird brand of humor. He loves it when his employees are sarcastic to the point of brutal meanness to him. I can be as sarcastic as the next preson but I just don’t have it in me to speak as raw as he and my coworkers do. So it’s like I’m the odd one out for feeling bad about this stuff.

        1. Random citizen*

          “He loves it when his employees are sarcastic to the point of brutal meanness to him.”
          Oh man, I’ve got a coworker like this (not my manager) – sarcastic to everybody, and hitting that point with a few people, and I’m pretty sarcastic myself, so we can be a deadly combination. /Just keep repeating: Don’t yell, “You idiot, that’s a horrid idea!” when there are customers around… or a less sarcastic higher-up./

    2. BRR*

      What an ass. I’d reply in a matter of fact way like “The computers have increased productivity so we are able to make X teapots more an hour” or a good “The computers are for the business. *go into why you deserve a raise speech*.” Basically dismiss his premiss.

      1. Susiecq*

        I’d be seen as a stick in the mud, but that probably is the best way to go about it. Sticking to data that clearly shows growth to combat weirdos!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      “Thanks for the heads up, Boss, we will plan accordingly.”


      “Good to know.”

      I would take that information as your boss thinks the company is a joke. He thinks its wrong to be investing so heavily in equipment and they should be investing in their people.
      I would go ahead and ask for a raise. I would tell myself “I expect to hear the NO word.” Upon hearing the NO word, I would ask when I can expect to see a raise. I would sit silently and unblinkingly while he squirmed for an answer.

      I did have this happen to me, BTW. The boss said X was our raises. Since the raises were never that great anyway, I did not believe him. And I got the same modest raise I always got.

      1. Susiecq*

        That actually makes a lot of sense to me. He’s very vocal about the decisions the higher ups make he thinks are stupid, so him saying things like that could just be a variation of that.

        Thank you for the comment, this makes me look at it a different way. And you’re right on the mark about how raises around here are meager at best so realistically yeah the computers or whatever else he points out probably don’t have a real impact on employee pay. I know for a fact the company isn’t hurting for money at all.

  42. InterviewHell*

    Four rejections in a single week

    Hello, All!

    I’m just looking for a bit of sympathy and support as I come to terms with receiving four rejections in a single five-day period. While four of the five were emails with the standard “we’ve gone with another candidate” language, the fifth is really killing me.

    For the first time in my career, I had a job offer rescinded because I attempted to negotiate salary, which I later learned is completely verboten at the organization. I even pleaded my case and reiterated my interest in taking the position as it was, but the hiring manager was so offended by my desire to see if they could match my current salary that she refused to engage me. Keep in mind, this is after two interviews, including one that lasted for 2 1/2 hours on a Friday evening!

    Please tell me that others have encountered such weird and unfortunate issues. I hate feeling as though trying to avoid an $8,000 pay cut makes me a terrible human being.


    1. Master Bean Counter*

      They are nuts and you probably avoided something bad there. It’s one thing to say the job offer is what it is, we don’t negotiate. It’s another to be completely offended by something that is so normal it’s almost expected.

    2. anon47*

      That’s nuts. I’ve heard of another company doing that – a friend was offered a position, they were super friendly and excited to bring him on, and then when he tried to negotiate (since that’s what you’re supposed to do, right??) for 2k more, they rescinded the offer and refused to speak with him. I don’t understand why a company would get offended by that, as opposed to just saying that the offer is final.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      It’s not you, it’s them. There’s no need for the org to take it so personally. not many people would be wanting to take such a cut in pay.

      Consider it a bullet dodged and console yourself with ice cream or other choice of self indulgence.

    4. Audiophile*

      They wouldn’t even meet your current salary? I’m assuming the offer was pretty low. It can be tough to negotiate and certainly this would scare anyone off negotiating, but I don’t know how companies expect people to take a job at a a lower salary than what they’re making.
      You dodged a bullet on this one.

    5. Random citizen*

      Definitely dodged a bullet here – imagine trying to ask for a raise or promotion from this manager! Or even trying to build a working relationship with a boss who thought you were greedy or what-have-you. People work for money, and you want a boss who understands that!

    6. Ama*

      I agree with everyone else that’s not a place you want to work. Also if negotiating is so forbidden at that org they should have told you that up front. Places that expect you to just know what the norms are — especially when their norms are so far outside what others would consider the norm — are not generally good work environments.

    7. Elle the new Fed*

      Are you kidding me? That is absolutely ridiculous, especially if they didn’t tell you the offer was non-negotiable.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Right! I’ve received an offer and they said up front, “We don’t negotiate. Here’s the offer.”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Me too–they couldn’t negotiate because it was a government job dependent on budget. But they said that up front.

          I wouldn’t work for a place that threw a fit like that. It sounds like you didn’t miss out on anything!

    8. BRR*

      The concept of not negotiating means you dodged a bullet. The hiring manager being that offended means you dodged a bomb.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Responding to the part about the three other rejections: (Don’t count the fools that rescinded on you, they just saved your butt.) It takes guts to put yourself out there like that. You worked your tail off to even get to a place where you could say you had three rejections this week. Don’t let go of that gutsy/hard-working part of you because that is what is going to get you where you want to be. So cry, throw things, run five miles, whatever it is you do in these situations. Get it out because, yeah, it so sucks. But know that things can change, even when it appears they won’t change.

    10. Overeducated and underemployed*

      High five, I got four rejections this week too! It felt like they were just piling on. None as painful as a rescinded offer though. You got hit by bad luck there, you didn’t screw up. Hopefully it just means you will be available for a job with better pay and more reasonable management.

    11. mander*

      Gigantic bullet dodged, though, in my opinion. They are terrible human beings for reacting as if your normal, sane, reasonable request makes you some kind of ogre.

      I imagine they would shut down all your efforts to get normal stuff that employees need, like stationery and office equipment. They would nickel and dime you on travel expenses. Your raises would be minuscule or non-existent. They would probably drive you crazy with unspoken rules that are a big deal, but you have no way of knowing about.

  43. Master Bean Counter*

    One more week at my job. I’m really trying to stay focused and clean-up loose ends. The temptation to treat everybody else they way they’ve treated me for the last two years is very tempting. But that’s not how I roll. I’m much better than that. But goodness the temptation is strong.

    1. Lefty*

      You’ll leave with a good reputation and the moral high ground! I hope your next adventure goes well and the transition is smooth!

  44. Bend & Snap*

    Well…I’ve posted before that my Fortune 500 company is going through a merger and has had massive layoffs with more coming. So generally things are rough and morale is in the toilet.

    Fast forward to this week when the new leader of my org–appointed in late fall and hasn’t done ANYTHING to communicate with us minions besides have one call about the layoffs–revoked our work from home option.

    This makes me want to flip my desk and walk out. Are they trying to get people to quit? I’m an extreme introvert and my wfh day was a much-needed very productive day, plus a break from people that I really can’t live without.


    1. LCL*

      I think they are trying to get people to quit. If I was going to implement a change that I thought employees would quit over, and I knew I had to lay people off, I would definitely do the change first. Because every person who leaves voluntarily is one less person to lay off.

      1. Graciosa*


        Also, the managers are probably also afraid for their own jobs, and fear tends to produce managerial stupidity in the effort to prove that you’re doing your job. This can include wanting to have people in the office more (how can you know if they’re working if you can’t see them!) both to evaluate their performance and to prove that the manager is busy managing them.

        You didn’t ask here, but get out asap. It’s going to get worse and may never get better.

  45. Bored and Desperate*

    Please can anyone give me some advice on how to deal with having nothing to do at work?

    I work part-time, three days a week, in university administration. When I started this job, my manager said that there would be a lot of “peaks and troughs” due to the nature of the work and the academic calendar. I was familiar with this from my previous uni admin job. I’ve been in this job since August now and when I started it was definitely a busy period. There were some quiet weeks after that, but because I was new I was able to use the time to read up on procedures and to look at our plans for upcoming work. Things picked up again and November, December and early January were busy.

    However the last two weeks have been painfully slow. I literally have nothing to do except deal with a few email queries a week. Looking ahead, I don’t think I’ll have any substantial work to do until mid-March now. I share an office with two colleagues in the same role as me, but we all have individual areas of responsibility. I spoke to them and they confirmed it is a quiet period from now, they are maybe a little bit busier than me just due to our slightly different responsibilities, but they both said it will be slow until towards the end of March. I asked them what they usually do in this period and got fairly vague responses. I can’t see either of their screens so I have no idea how much work they are actually doing.

    I am bored out of my mind! I really like the tasks I have to do when I do have work to get on with, and a lot of other aspects of this job are great, but the prospect of six weeks with nothing to do is making me miserable. And it’s likely this will crop up again at other points in the year. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks doing all the “housekeeping” tasks I can think of, reading up on notes, sorting out my email inbox and folders, filing things away and so on, but now I’ve exhausted that avenue.

    I want to speak to my manager and ask her for some more work to do. But I want to do this in a diplomatic way, which I’m not sure how to handle. I definitely don’t want her to think that there is no point in employing me! I also don’t want to cause problems for my two office colleagues by highlighting that we have nothing to do if they are happy with this – for example if my manager asks me to assist them and I need to go back to her and say they have no work either. Also I want to let her know that I do understand that things will get busy again in a few weeks, and at that point I will not be able to do anything over and above my normal role. I don’t want to ask for more work and end up biting off more than I can chew, so to speak.

    Please can anyone offer any suggestions on how to go about this?

    1. anon47*

      Can you propose taking some online courses? There are lots of free ones, and you can find ones that only last a few weeks. It might help fill up the time and also add to your skillset.

    2. Mandy*

      Hi Bored! Oh man, I have been there before, and I hear you.

      I’m sure there’s a diplomatic way of talking to your manager. What if you phrased it like, “I know you mentioned at the start that there will be ‘peaks and troughs’ in the workflow due to the academic calendar, but I”m wondering if there’s a way you’d like me to focus my time during the slow periods? I’ve been working on X, Y, and Z, but I’m wondering if there’s a project that could use an extra hand.” If you have a good manager she’ll understand that you during busy times you will need to focus on priorities, and you can cross that bridge when you come to it. If you come into it with an attitude that shows you’re willing to pitch in when you can, it may help your reputation. I’d say leave your colleagues out of it for now, as well – if she suggests offering to help them but they don’t have much, you could always just say “Jill advised me she’s in a really good spot right now – is there any other area where I could be of help?”

      Good luck!!

    3. Ama*

      The slow times at my past university jobs were how I had enough time to teach myself Access, inDesign, and — one particularly dead summer when we were between department heads — enough CSS to completely revamp our department website. It was basically based around looking around for the “hey wouldn’t it be nice if…” kinds of projects and figuring out what I would need to learn to do them (“hey wouldn’t it be nice if our website didn’t look like it was designed in 1998?” “hey wouldn’t it be nice if our regular publicity flyers weren’t set up in Word?” “hey wouldn’t it be nice if I could track all of the department’s student teaching assignments in a database instead of having to manually look through each year’s list to find out how many students had been historically assigned to a particular teacher?”)

      1. Sophia Brooks*

        I did this too- well, I taught myself Filemaker and got really good at it. I learned Indesign and Quark, as well as some photoshop and illustrator. Also, Dreamweaver.

        1. Bored and Desperate*

          I agree that using the time to learn new skills would be a good idea. Unfortunately my job doesn’t require me to use anything other than Word, Excel and Outlook, and I already did a ton of training courses on those at my last job (during quiet periods then!). I don’t even have access to those other software programs you mentioned to self study.

          The main thing is I feel I should let my manager know that it’s so slow rather than just trying to find things for myself to do. I don’t want her to be annoyed that I’ve spent my time doing software tutorials if there was other work I could be doing.

          1. Jennifer*

            I would not recommend asking because it literally points out to them that they have no work and can easily get rid of you. Hell, writing a novel while at work would probably be better than literally saying you have nothing to do.

            Been burnt on this one: if they had work for you to do, you’d be doing it.

          2. Anna*

            Are there any process improvements you could propose to your boss? Things hanging out in the department that nobody has gotten to/doesn’t want to do that you could take on? Keep in mind that even though you only use those programs and you’ve taken a lot of training on them, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t do some online courses to learn other things.

          3. mander*

            Why not pick something that *you* might like to know how to do, and which is vaguely related/could conceivably be useful in the future, and work on that? Stuff like Access, InDesign, CSS, web authoring and coding skills in general, etc. might possibly be useful not just for your job but maybe for you someday.

            I wish that kind of stuff had been around (or that I had known about it) the last time I had a dull job. I literally spent whole weeks with no tasks whatsoever in a silent office by myself playing online jigsaw puzzles, when I could have been learning how to write web pages and making a fortune in the dotcom boom.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would not worry about biting off too much. You can frame it as small projects (plural because they are small) to work on for the next few weeks. If she does give you something that is big, ask about time frame or ask if you can just work on that one thing so it is completed before the next big push.

      When you are in the thick of your next big push, start a list of things that would be nice to have in place and you could work on during your next lull.

      I would not worry about them firing you because you implied they did not have enough work. I think I’d be more worried about, “I did not ask for something to do and they are wondering why I did not ask.” I had bosses that would wait to see how long it would take for a person to ask for something to do. In a couple instances the people who did not ask for more work were the first to go when layoffs rolled around.

    5. Girasol*

      Sometimes there’s a lull in work and there just isn’t anything to do. The boss intends to keep you because the dry season will end soon and there will be a ton of work later, but there aren’t any good answers for “what can I do?” now. I learned (almost the hard way!) to ask once for additional work but don’t nag. You don’t want to make your boss feel they’re failing in their job to keep people productively working when there’s nothing they can, at the moment, do about it. Training is good but if it’s not an option find a way to stay occupied that maintains an illusion of happy worker – creative writing, reading professional improvement books, etc.

  46. Liz*

    First I wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped me out last week (Marina, LisaLee, BRR) with my situation of waiting to hear back about returning to my internship company for a full time position and having another offer in the opposite side of the country. It all ended up working out, and yesterday OldManager let me know they got the approval to recruit and I sent in my materials to be forwarded to HR! I’m now just waiting on the official offer since I’m the only one being considered for the position which should hopefully come early next week. (And apparently the new manager was already talking about me in a not-so-positive way before I officially turned down their offer, so I’m not at all upset about dodging that one. It was very Jekyll-Hyde based on what I’ve been told by someone I know there)

    One question that I encountered yesterday: How to write a cover letter for a position that was created for you?

    I know it was more of a formality than a necessity, but it still felt strange trying to explain my work to the person who assigned it to me. I ended up highlighting my favorite projects and why, and reiterating my desire to return to the team and continue with the work I was doing. Was that the general right path, or was there maybe something else I should have done?

    1. fposte*

      That sounds like a great approach to me; not pretending you’ve never met them, not acting they should totally assume your wonderfulness without any details.

      1. Anna*

        Definitely acknowledge what you learned and did during the internship and talk about how you’re excited to put it in to practice as an official employee.

  47. Tris Prior*

    Playing the “forget about the job interview I had that went really well, assume I didn’t get it and move on with life” game this week. :/ My contact there said that they hire really slowly and filling this role is not an emergency. Argh. I only have a month left at my job before I am laid off. :( Starting to freak out because all the jobs I am seeing are a) part time, b) contract, c) not do-able location wise (I don’t have a car), and/or d) pay less than I’m making now (high 20s in a high-COL city).

    This question came up in my therapy appointment this week. How do you know if you are working hard enough at finding a job? These days, I come home from a brutal exhausting workday every night and then force myself to look for/apply to jobs. But I always feel like I should be doing MORE. Like, I’m not finding the full-time jobs in my city that pay what I need them to because I’m not looking hard enough, or spending enough time looking. What is “enough” here? I mean, I figure once my job’s over I’ll have nothing but time and I won’t be mentally and physically fried from having just spent 8 hours working on a sinking ship ….. but I really really wanted to have something lined up before my layoff date. That is probably unrealistic though. :(

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think you actually do know when you are working hard enough at finding a job.

      But when you reach your mental/physical limits that is where you must stop and go to bed.

      I guess it’s a personal thing, everyone has a different answer? “I stay up to 3 am every morning applying for jobs.” Well, that has never been ME!

      In a way I think it’s a sucky question. Let’s see, work all day, job hunt at home for a bit, get ready for your next work day….. You really don’t need to waste precious time and energy analyzing if you have done enough job hunting. It is what it is- given the limited amount of time available- you are doing what you can. Period.

      I think a more appropriate question would be are you able to keep yourself somewhat organized so you are not wasting precious time looking all over for a reminder note or a phone number?

      1. Tris Prior*

        Thanks for the perspective! I’m using some tips I learned here in open thread a few weeks ago to stay organized with the job search and that is really helping.

        Maybe I just need to accept that even though I am doing as much as I feel I can, that will not magically make more full time jobs that I am qualified for appear. I mean, if there are really that few, job hunting for 24 hours a day would not change that!

        1. Overeducated and underemployed*

          That’s the realization I’ve reached. I’d like to apply for a job a day, but even if I could make the time, most weeks 4-5 of those would not be jobs I’d want or jobs that would want me. It’s not all effort, there’s also luck and timing involved.

  48. LibrarianJ*

    TL;DR: How many doctor appointments is too many? When does it start to look bad?

    Despite being young and theoretically in good health, this has been a record-setting year in health issues. It seems like there is something new popping up every few weeks, often unrelated to any of the previous issues. My medical group offers a walk-in clinic that’s open nights/weekends, so I try to do as much as possible there, but sometimes it’s inevitable that I’ll have to take care of something during regular business hours (especially with specialists, which I seem be acquiring quite a collection of…). Until recently, I wasn’t allowed to use sick time for preventative care, but my manager has always been great about letting us use comp/flex time to fit in shorter appointments.

    However, lately I feel like I’m in and out of some doctor’s office every week, and I’m starting to feel uncomfortable every time I must send *yet another* e-mail asking to pop out for a couple of hours. My manager has never expressed any concerns about my performance, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that I get my work done and usually put in well over 40 hours/week. Some of the issues are visible and I’m comfortable being open about them (e.g., a broken bone, or chronic allergies that my manager shares), but others are definitely in the TMI category, which means it’s hard to explain why it came up so suddenly or to say ‘sorry, specialist says I must follow-up on X and this is the only day he had!’ But of course, a sequence of vaguely-described ‘doctor’s appointments’ probably looks pretty weird. Any advice?

    1. Dawn*

      Be honest with your manager about it- have a quick convo and say “Hey, I want to touch base on this- I have had a lot of doctor’s appointments crop up in a row lately and I want to make absolutely sure that you’re OK with how that’s being handled right now. I try my best to go outside of work hours as much as possible, but sometimes that’s not able to happen. I want to let you know that I’m (doing these things) to ensure my productivity isn’t taking a hit, and I don’t think it has, but I want to check in with you because this is going to continue to pop up every couple of weeks until these short-term medical issues are resolved.”

      It sounds like your boss is and would continue to be fine with it, but this way you’re pro-actively bringing it up and saying hey, I get that it’s an inconvenience and here’s what I’m doing to reduce the impact.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        Yes, this. I played it the other way once and had a manager who got (justifiably!) a little annoyed at me and presented a record of my sick days, wfh days, and doctor’s appointments over a period of about ten weeks; everything wasn’t quite under control by then, but I hadn’t been forthcoming enough about how unusual and surprising every aspect of the thing was and she had been thinking something like “Great, my previously excellent employee is turning into a slacker and I’ve just let it happen.” Going forward I kept her one degree further in the loop and she pivoted from slightly annoyed to incredibly sympathetic really gracefully, so all was well.

    2. anon for this*

      I’ve had the same thing recently–an embarrassing number of doctor’s appointments, for something that I’m not comfortable telling my boss about. The last time I had to e-mail my boss about a couple more upcoming appointments, I just added on an apology/acknowledgment about all the time off lately and said that I was dealing with a non-serious but persistent medical issue. I’m middle management and I know he doesn’t have concerns about my performance or making up the time, but I still felt like it needed to be acknowledged. (I also didn’t want him to think I was job-hunting!) He said not to worry about it, which made me feel better.

  49. AFT123*

    I just started a new job about 3 weeks ago, and I just found I’m pregnant… when should I tell them?

    1. Update Part Deux*

      I just landed a promotion and am trying to get pregnant. When I decide to have a baby is not determined by when it’s best for my employer ….


    2. Total Rando*


      I have a pending promotion, and I just found out as well. Stuff like this happens. And luckily, I think most people surprise us with how great they are.

      Tell them when you’re comfortable. General consensus says 12 weeks. I may tell my work a bit sooner because I know how understanding they’ll be and I would like to plan very far in advance.

    3. Jerzy*

      I know SO MANY people this has happened to! Don’t sweat it. They’ll have you for a good 7-8 months at least before you go out on maternity leave. Wait until you’re comfortable, and are at least 12 weeks along.

      Also, congrats on the bun!

  50. whataweek*

    Have any Canadian AAMers recently taken the Government’s French language tests? I have to write the test this week (on short notice, with only 3 days to study!) and am feeling pretty nervous about it.

    Comprehension isn’t a problem for me (100% on practice tests), but grammar definitely is (average of 55% on practice tests). Any advice or resources for a crash course in French grammar?

    1. dancer*

      Sorry I can’t help, but I’d love to see other people’s suggestions. I’m very out of practice with my French.

    2. Anoners*

      Oh god. I did french immersion my whole life and still struggle with verbs, so I feel your pain. I think there’s a French Grammar for Dummies that might be helpful. There’s also a babel app that i’ve been using here and there that is okay but not fantastic. Do you know any french people that can help bring you up to speed? I find actually using my french with someone is way better than just reading about it. Bonne chance!

      1. whataweek*

        I took French immersion all through elementary and secondary but haven’t had to use French at all for the last 5-6 years. One of my friends is 100% bilingual and we’re scheduling a “French hangout” to help me get prepped for the oral test. I also booked two hours with a tutor for a crash course this weekend. I don’t know if it will be enough to save me, but I’m going to study like crazy.

        The testing is for a dream job, so the stakes feel very high. The job description said “intermediate French” not “French essential” so I was optimistic. It’s not actually with a Government department so I didn’t think I’d have to take the test!

        1. Jules the First*

          Let me plug verbe2verb (google it) for conjugations, and of course dig out your copy of Bescherelles. Brush up on your word order rules and write yourself some jingles to help with subject-object-verb agreements – you’ll feel like a dork, but really familiar kids songs are incredibly useful for remembering tricky patterns.

          And good luck!

        2. Anoners*

          Hrmm yeah, that sounds stressful! I took french for 12 years and I don’t think I’d pass as intermediate now. When I finished high school I was only intermediate +. I think you’re doing the right things though. You’ll probably start remembering a lot more once you spend a few hours with your friend/tutor. It’s surprising how much knowledge is just buried deep in your brain that comes back once you start using it again.

    3. katamia*

      Oh, good luck! I used to be fluent in French (in the sense that I could speak and write and be understood and listen and read and understand, not in the sense that I was 100% perfect–people could definitely tell I wasn’t a native speaker), but even at my best, I could never. spell. anything. in French. I’d always get praised for my writing skills (in English and French), but even though I’m a fantastic speller in English, I’d have to look up almost every word in French. So frustrating. Prepositions were also rough for me–I got a lot of the basic ones but, er, was never taught grammar in English and didn’t know what a preposition was then, so I’d often mix them up, especially when “dont” was involved. Haaaaaaaaaaaated that one.

      You could take a look at the FSI courses to see if any of that would help you. I’ll put the link in another comment.

  51. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    Job applications that make you upload a resume and then manually enter all your work and education information are the bane of my existence.

    On the other hand, those that allow you to just answer cursory questions while uploading your resume and cover letter are my favorites.

    1. Ms. Anne Thrope*

      Preach! I did one the other day that took 2 hours! >:( And to top it all off they not only demanded current and previous pay, but salary requirement! Which since the job is in NYC and I’ m currently not, looks like a $25k pay bump when realistically it’s probably a slight pay cut when increased taxes and rent are considered.

      I’m assuming I”m not getting called. Such a *&^&%$# waste of time.

    2. Jubilance*

      I’ve been known to quit those applications – the job has to be REALLY appealing for me to go through all of that. I’m lucky to be in a position to be super choosy as to what I apply to…but still. No one should have to spend hours doing an online application.

    3. Xarcady*

      The last three I did were like that.

      I simply don’t see the point? Other than making applying for their job into an endurance contest for the applicants.

    4. mander*

      I have abandoned several job applications like this. If their application process is that onerous, what are other everyday administrative tasks going to be like?

  52. HR Recruiter*

    I received two resumes this week that stood out to me. One said on the bottom something like everything on this resume is verifiable. The other said I verify this resume is accurate and had a signature. Is this a new thing? In all my years recruiting I’ve never seen anything like this.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        But Alison do you not want to spent time watching them…just for curiosity? Are they applying to be actors?

          1. OwnedByTheCat*

            I got one too this week and responded with the same response and….nothing. Makes me so irritated.

            1. HR Recruiter*

              Your nicer than me. I’ve given up on responding when they don’t follow directions. I had one that responded to an ad asking them to email me their resume. He emailed me, “I’d like to schedule an interview.” I responded with please send me your resume or you can complete our online application (insert link)” He responded with “phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.” I gave up after that.

      2. AVP*

        I’ve gotten them for video editors, which I guess could make sense except they were edited terribly, with clip art and rotating shadow graphics and bad cuts….made those decisions very easy!

    1. afiendishthingy*

      What the heck? Like if you hired someone, then found out they’d lied on their resume, but they never signed it to verify it was accurate, you wouldn’t be able to fire them?

    2. LQ*

      Ok the strange part of my brain wonders if this is some kind of an experiment (which I don’t think they can do like this but whatever I still think it!) where they send out resumes that say verified and resumes that don’t that are exactly alike to see if they get more responses from one or the other.

      Also I kind of wonder if this person signs everything they say as verifiable? Do they send joke emails and not put the verifiable note on them? (That sounds like something I would do except the opposite, send the joke with a note saying “Everything in this email is 100% verifiable at The Onion U.”)

    3. Ama*

      By any chance were the applicants coming out of academic research? That sounds like the wording on the signature page for a lot of grant applications.

      1. HR Recruiter*

        Nope. Both applied for entry level positions . Nothing remotely in common with the resumes. One was a typical formal resume except for the line on the bottom. The other was in a really bizarre format in general plus the line on the bottom.

  53. LinkedIn photos*

    Thoughts on pictures on LinkedIn profiles? I work in a fairly male dominated industry and have a gender neutral name. I was curious about the tradeoffs of not having a picture and looking out of touch with LinkedIn conventions and getting fewer views vs the potential risk of running across unconscious bias when someone knows my gender, in a similar way to that study that showed fewer interview requests when applicants had foreign names.

      1. Devil's Avocado*

        I know “list every job” is the commonly given advice, but I disagree with it. I love stalking people on LinkedIn to see their career progression (I find it interesting), but when I see someone with every job listed it seems immature or naive somehow? It makes me think they just don’t know how to edit/identify the important bits.

        I think it is because I only ever see every summer job and 6 month stint somewhere listed on the profiles of people within the first 10 or so years of their career. People with higher level positions almost always just list the highlights, and for whatever reason that comes across as more professional/self-aware to me. But that’s just one person’s opinion, of course.

        1. Chex Mix*

          I believe the idea is, that if John Q from Dream Corps saw that you applied, and when checking you on Linked in, saw that you also worked at McD’s in highschool – there is a connection and/or understanding there.

          John Q knows I can handle irate customers, a fast business pace, etc even though it’s not a job I would put on my resume. The argument is that LinkedIn is not a resume but is for fostering connections.

            1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

              I can tell you as a hiring manager that anyone who’s worked in fast food or retail in their history gets an extra point towards the ‘yes’ pile if I’m hiring for anything customer service related or fast paced.

        2. CMT*

          I agree with you, but maybe it’s just me. Like, your internship from your freshman year of college wasn’t that important. Why are you trying to highlight it? But I’m probably being too cynical.

    1. Audiophile*

      I have no picture, I never have. One person told me I should put up a picture, because they weren’t sure who I was. Side note: they saw me pretty regularly since I sat at the front desk of a large company and would say hello to them in the morning. Just tell me “I don’t know who you are, because I’m not awake in the morning.” That would be more meaningful.

      I know a few people that I currently work with have pictures, they all seem to be taken at events or in professional settings. Almost like a headshot. Those are better. The people who include pictures of them doing activities or with pets and kids always stand out for the wrong reasons.

    2. Ad Astra*

      Unconscious bias is a real thing, but I’m not sure removing your photo from LinkedIn is the solution. Users with no photo look generic, almost spammy, in a sea full of profiles with photos. There are also many people who would want to know your gender/what you look like so that they can accurately describe you as “she/her,” or so they can recognize you when you walk in the door for an interview. If you truly don’t want your photo on LinkedIn, I don’t think it’s the world’s biggest deal; but I certainly don’t think you’d be doing yourself any favors.

      I also wouldn’t recommend someone with a foreign name change their name to something more “American” in order to get jobs. But I say that as someone with a very common (in the English-speaking world), gender-specific name who works in a fairly gender-balanced (at least in numbers) industry.

    3. BRR*

      There might be a bias (you would be able to answer that better than me) but even if a profile is completely filled out, I don’t like if they don’t have a picture. And yes I will acknowledge that rationally it shouldn’t matter as I would be weirded out if I got a resume with a picture.

  54. Bye Academia*

    Found out this week that I got an in-person interview for a job I really want, which means I am probably in their top 3-5 candidates. It’s the only job opening in this field in my area (and they don’t come around often), so if it doesn’t pan out I will have to look in another field. I have my fingers crossed!

    The only unfortunate part is that the interview won’t be for another month or two, and it may be several weeks after that before I find out whether I got the job. I have to keep reminding myself not to get too wrapped up in this job or it will drive me crazy.

    1. squids*

      Good luck! I was in a similar situation recently and it all worked out okay. You’ve got lots of time to really think about what you’d do in your first few months, first year, which will be excellent preparation for the interview. You can show up with ideas rather than just good responses to questions.

      1. Bye Academia*

        Thanks! That’s a great idea. I will try to channel my thinking about the job into a productive plan.

  55. Update Part Deux*

    So a little over a month ago I posted about scary changes in my department. Our most senior people left, all the senior roles were then transferred over night to another department, our director left, another director in our division who is rumored to not like our department created a team that looked eerily like ours… it was looking bad.

    I followed everyone’s advice here – which was to start looking for another job so that I had options if the worse should fall. I happily updated a couple of weeks ago that I landed a promotion and 48% raise to a different division and department in the company! I’m loving my new job!

    So this update is about my old department. That entire division just re-organized and the clone team’s director is now the division head. It’s not looking good for the old department at all!

    Thanks everyone for your advice!

    1. Audiophile*

      Ooof, glad you were promoted. I remember reading your posts and that’s just really strange on the company’s part to handle things that way.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Wow. Your instincts that some thing big was in the works were right on target. It’s wonderful to see someone pull themselves out of a bad spot and get their situation totally turned around.
      I am so happy for you.

  56. AnotherAnon*

    This week, out of the blue, I received some feedback about my performance from a higher-up about a situation with a senior person with whom I worked briefly. This senior person was not good about giving me expectations or feedback even when I asked for it, and at times seemed to expect me to do things that were out of line for the role I was in. I was polite and professional in all interactions with this senior person and did my best to make the relationship work; the project I was working on with this individual was designed to be short-term and has since ended, and now I am working with a different team. However, this higher-up received feedback from that senior person, is concerned about my performance, and has decided to refer me to coaching for further evaluation and work in specific areas. Based on reading AAM for years and internalizing the great advice here, I did my best to take this constructively and objectively, pleasantly thanked the higher-up for the feedback, told him sincerely that I was very interested in improving. I tried to diplomatically explain why the working situation with this senior person was challenging, but the higher-up was totally unreceptive to this and cut me off. This is the first time I have received this kind of feedback (or any serious negative critique at all – the feedback I usually get is that I am exceeding expectations in all my major areas of focus), so while I am not sure that it is valid, I am happy to take a closer look at my performance and work with coaches who can give me a more objective sense of how I’m doing. I just feel unsettled because this seems punitive and I worry this will affect my reputation in the organization, and discouraged that I didn’t feel heard in the conversation and was not given the chance to respond. Any advice from others who’ve been in similar situations? Anything I could have done differently?

    1. Lib Lady*

      I think you handled it maturely. Just keep putting your best foot forward – that’s the only part of this you can really control.

    2. Jules the First*

      Explaining that someone senior was difficult to work with was probably a mistake – better to say something like ‘yes, I found it challenging to work with him and could really use some help figuring out how to handle similar situations. Thanks for making some coaching available to me for this!’

      As you’ve described it, your response sounds a bit ‘yes but it was his fault’ and as a higher up who has just offered corrective feedback, that’s really not what I want to hear (especially if you’re getting coaching for it, which is usually a signal that the higher up values you)

    3. AnonAcademic*

      You said this came from “a higher up” – was it your boss or just someone above you? I would check in with your direct supervisor and get their take. Something like “Fergus suggested I get coaching in Area X because of feedback from Wakeem about my work on XYZ project. Can you give me a sense of where Fergus is coming from, because I was a bit surprised by his take? Is that an area where you also think I need improvement?” They may reassure you, or acknowledge that it actually IS a potential area for improvement, but either way it might be more reliable feedback.

    4. fposte*

      I can see that this would be upsetting! It sounds like you did a good job of focusing on your willingness to improve.

      I’m noting that you say you’ve never received any serious negative feedback, and I think that can make it a real shock when it happens. I would encourage you to consider that we all of us have weaknesses whether we’re told about them or not, and that the fact you haven’t had negative feedback before doesn’t mean it’s baseless. I also think it’s worth considering the coaching as something that could be really valuable–if this short-term assignment exposed a weakness that wouldn’t have come up in the normal course of your job duties, this means you could have a chance to improve in an area that otherwise you wouldn’t.

      I’m thinking about “being heard.” I’m not sure that’s always something to expect in when a boss is giving feedback, unless there’s an error of fact involved, and it’s really tough to distinguish that from defensiveness and pushback. Maybe a question to ask is “Is this about giving the boss necessary information, or is this about my feelings and my rep?”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “This senior person was not good about giving me expectations or feedback even when I asked for it, and at times seemed to expect me to do things that were out of line for the role I was in.”

      I would have hunted for a mentor in the moment. Find that friendly face and ask “What do I need to know about working with Senior Exec? What should I watch out for? What will he expect from me but never ask directly?”

      I had a situation where I had to unlock the front door to let CEO in each morning. I was warned, “Do not speak to CEO. He does not like to be spoken to first thing and he expects everyone to know that.” People tell you this stuff and it may have some merit. If you do not get the info from volunteers, then you may have to ask someone who looks like they would be sympathetic to your setting.

      (It has no bearing here, but I said “Good Morning” to the Dude in a loud, sun-shiny voice every day. Because I sometimes color outside the lines. And Dude was probably one of the most ethically/legally corrupt people that I have ever met in person. Before it was over, he was facing jail time. Which brings me to my next point. It really helps to know who is doing what at work and what their general reputation is. It could be that you just need a higher awareness of how some people roll.)

    6. AnotherAnon*

      Thank you all for your thoughtful feedback and insight! Those are all excellent points and have helped put the incident into perspective for me. I intend to follow through with the coaching with an open mind. I have several higher-ups to whom I report in my current role; I will definitely also follow up with those who have seen me do similar work and solicit feedback from them as well.

  57. waiting waiting waiting*

    It’s been more than 2 weeks since I got a verbal offer, and I’m told I can finally pick up the official offer letter this afternoon. Still keep thinking that something else will go wrong with it.

    This feels like an enormous red flag to me, but another person I know who works for this organization has said that they’re terrible at hiring, but decent with other aspects.

    It’s really screwed up my plans for giving extra notice at my current job. (Still a fair amount of time, but not what I planned on.)

    Anyone else been in limbo this long?

    1. afiendishthingy*

      Yes! I forget how long it was exactly, but several weeks while they were waiting on a background check to clear – I work with kids and the state Child & Family Services department takes FOREVER to clear people. It was several weeks between the verbal offer and the official offer, and I knew I didn’t have any sort of record, but I was sure that something would get screwed up somewhere, and for financial reasons I really didn’t want my start date to have to be pushed back a month to line up with their orientation dates. It was nerve wracking, but it turned out fine.

    2. waiting waiting waiting done*

      If anyone’s still reading this, I now have the letter in hand and everything is perfectly fine.

  58. Beth*

    Does any have any experience applying for NATO? I know applying for the US government is very different than a typical private-sector application and I’m looking for info on how NATO might work.

    1. Sandy*

      I do- is there anything in particular you want to know?

      They have crazy-long application periods, like the job is posted for two full months before they proceed with the process. It’s quite an involved application process- six or seven different sets of fields, but you can save as you go. Make sure you double-check what it “automatically” uploads from your CV- I had all sorts of fields out of whack that I had to manually fix.

      Worth noting that the process is generally LONG. Two months from posting the ad to closing the competition. Another month for them to sort through CVs. And another two or three weeks for a written test (English and French). Another month for a language test for a third lanauge if the job requires it. Another month to six weeks before you go to Brussels for two days more testing and in-person interview, etc etc etc.

      1. Beth*

        Thanks so much! For now I am wondering about the online application part, which I’m working on right now for a job that closes next week. I’m just worried that there is something I “need” to put in there – like for US gov jobs you NEED NEED to put in as many keywords from the KSAs that you can. I don’t know if there’s something similar for NATO. Also, the job “requires” at least level I English/French and level V in the other, but then “desires” “some knowledge of French” which seems contradictory to me. English is my first language so no problem there (and the operating language of the position), but my French is…very limited. So I’m worried about a language test if I get to that stage.

      2. Beth*

        Oh, and I’m not used to writing CVs, mine is in resume format. Is it that different, or do you think that’s a problem?

    2. 39281*

      I work for the UN, and I assume there are similar hiring practices. Things will take forever, and then at the end expect things to move very quickly – I’ve been rejected from jobs 1.5 years after I interviewed, and I’ve been hired after a 3 month interview process with 2 days notice to move to another country.

      The language exams are tough, and I’ve been turned down for jobs that I was the #1 candidate for because my French isn’t strong. So, study, study study. Google “Common European Framework” for example exams – for other UN-system organizations, that seems to be the style of language exam they use (I’m not sure for NATO exactly, but I expect it’s similar). I’ve been tested at the “B2” level for jobs where English fluency and French proficiency is required.

      Once you’re in, it can take knowing the right people in order to navigate the system and keep the contracts renewed. The bureaucracy can be a nightmare – it’s really useful to have someone who’s been there a while to explain who to talk to in HR, how contracts work, etc.

      Good luck! The hardest part is that first job, then it get easier to stay in the system.

      1. Beth*

        Thanks! I have looked into the language exams but hadn’t been able to find practice ones, which I would love. I’ll try the googling you suggested. I work for the DoD now and it’s the same here – getting that first job is so hard, but once you’re in, so much more opens up to you.

  59. Sarak*

    Tips for interviewing with people who will not be your coworkers/manager if you get the job? A lot of the tips on this blog focus on getting a feel for the job, which makes perfect sense, but it’s hard to do if you’re not talking to people who know any specifics about the job.

    Big Company Hiring Process involves a day-long set of interviews with 15-20 different people (in several different chunks, not all at once!) from all over the company. They write up their thoughts on the candidate and rate them on various things. That goes to a committee, who decide whether to make the offer.

    This feels more like college or grad school admissions than a job application process, but apparently it’s because it’s really easy to transfer to different areas in Big Company and they want to make sure all the teams are comfortable with one another’s hiring processes.


    1. Sascha*

      I would ask about the overall company culture, and also the culture and work within each department. I’d ask questions that are similar to what you’d ask specifically about the job, but broaden them to encompass the company at large. For example, if you’re asking what makes a person successful in that role, you could extend it to ask what makes a person successful at Big Company, etc.

  60. Total Rando*

    So, exciting personal news: I’m pregnant!!!
    But, complicated work question:
    I know I want to wait until I’m a bit farther along until I tell my manager, coworkers, etc. But, right now we are planning the budget for the next year of travel to conferences and trainings. I know that I can’t really schedule anything from August – December because of my pregnancy and maternity leave, but I don’t know how to address this with my supervisor. There are a couple conferences that fall in the no-fly window that I think she’d like for me to go to.

    Should I just make a budget for the conference(s) I’d want to go to as if I weren’t pregnant?
    Or Should I just plan for spring conferences only?

    1. Dawn*

      Hm. This is a tough one. However, I think if you feel comfortable doing so, it’d be best to discreetly pull your manager aside and say “Hey, I’m going to not be able to fly during this window, but please do not repeat this to anyone else in the company. I wanted to give you a heads up now that we’re scheduling yearly conferences.”

      That conversation taking place obviously has a lot to do with your comfort level in telling anyone and your trust that your manager won’t blab.

      1. Sascha*

        That is basically what I did – I told my manager pretty early on because I was missing work due to pregnancy-related sickness. I asked him to keep it confidential until I was ready to tell others, and it worked out pretty well that way.

        Congrats, Total Rando!

        1. Total Rando*

          My team is so small (like four of us total) that they would basically all know if I told one of them. Less because they would blab, and more because I’d have to tell my two managers, and at that point, I might as well tell my coworker who I share an office with (especially if smell aversion hits me hard, which I’m fearful of). But I just want to wait til I hit at LEAST the 10 week mark, probably the 12. (which is too many weeks away)

    2. anon for this*

      Congrats! If you’re not ready to tell anyone, just put in for the conferences as you would if you weren’t pregnant. Cross that bridge when you get there. (I’ve been pregnant multiple times and it hasn’t worked out, which I sincerely hope doesn’t happen to you. But if I had shared with my supervisor and then had to share the outcome, it would have made a crappy situation worse, plus I wouldn’t have gotten the approval to attend conferences that I was then able to go to.)

    3. Graciosa*

      Sorry, but this is going to be a tough question and I apologize for it, but are you past the first trimester (when most issues arise)? One reason most people wait to share the news is because of the possibility that the pregnancy may not continue as expected, so you should think about whether you want to have to share news of the loss of a pregnancy if you shared the good news early on.

      The next factor is what will happen to the budgeted funding if it is planned to support a trip you cannot attend. If the answer is simply that the money can be reallocated (either in time or to other members of the team or other priorities), then I wouldn’t worry as much about not sharing your news. If it cannot be reassigned (and I am aware of situations where that’s true), then it may weigh in favor of an earlier disclosure.

      The final factor is your supervisor’s managerial style and your comfort level with her. If you have a good relationship, I would be more inclined to share.

      I’m not sure that’s really an answer, but those are the things I would consider to reach a conclusion.

      And congratulations!

      1. Total Rando*

        Nope, I’m not past the first trimester, thus the hesitation. I’m actually not even past the first doctors visit, so it’s really early. (And I don’t think that’s a tough question – you’re totally okay for asking – i probably should’ve included that in the first place)

        I’m not 100% sure what can be done to the budget if I can’t go on a trip that is planned. My best guess is that it could be reassigned to another trip for me later in the year. But budget stuff is super weird with this company, especially travel, so I don’t know.

        I have two weeks until I have to submit my requests, but I’m still not sure I’ll be ready to share by then… Despite my awesome manager and coworkers.

        1. irritable vowel*

          I would not recommend putting your company’s budget considerations above your own comfort level with sharing before you’re ready. You’re not under any obligation to disclose something that is still surrounded by a fair amount of uncertainty. After all, an employee could very easily not be able to travel to a conference as planned because of an illness or other circumstance that they didn’t know about when they made the arrangements, and that would be completely acceptable and has probably happened before. Obviously, once you are further along in the pregnancy but well before the time of the conference, it would be good to give your boss that notice so she can try to reallocate the funding however it works out. But I think it’s fine to keep it to yourself for now.

          1. Ad Astra*

            I agree that your comfort should come before the company’s budget here, but I like the idea of giving your manager — and only your manager — a heads up, if you feel comfortable doing that. That would mean if you miscarried, you would have to tell your manager — but you wouldn’t have to announce it to the whole office, or field awkward questions from coworkers who hadn’t heard the bad news yet. If you don’t have that kind of relationship with your boss, though, I agree that keeping it to yourself for now would be fine. After all, your boss isn’t going to know exactly when you found out you’re pregnant. Oh, and congratulations!

            Tangent: It obviously makes sense not to tell a ton of acquaintances about a pregnancy in the early stages, but this “keep it a secret at all costs” thing is drilled into us so hard that I think women who do miscarry end up feeling very alone at a really tough time in their lives. They have almost no one to talk to because almost no one knew they were pregnant to begin with. I wish more women felt comfortable telling more people early on.

          2. Graciosa*

            I think I’m in basic agreement, but I have run into a caveat. We have certain training programs that are very hard to get into, planned a year in advance, and non-transferable. You get repeated notices that this Special Program is subject to all these restrictions, and everyone involved has to agree to the special rules in order to get someone into the training.

            In this case, I would want someone to tell me that they cannot (or may not be able to) attend before we all go out on this limb. I would be totally fine with not hearing the reason (“I have some concerns about my schedule at that time, so let’s not plan for anything in that window” would suffice), but I would be upset that we lost our slot in the Special Program because the employee kept quiet. We don’t get them back.

            I realize this is not normal – but that’s why I flagged it as a factor and something to think about.

        2. Lady Kelvin*

          I’m guessing you are only a couple of weeks along (4-5 maybe?) and so I’d say continue assuming you aren’t pregnant. Many people don’t even find out they are pregnant until they are 8 or more weeks along, so you have plausible deniability even if they make a big deal about you planning your travel schedule now. I wouldn’t worry too much about the company, you really need to think about yourself first and the company last and make plans based on what you are comfortable with and nothing else. Congrats on the pregnancy!

    4. Tara R.*

      Hm, if you do bring it up, could you just be blunt? “Boss, I’m not really ready for everyone to know this yet, but I’m expecting a baby and I wanted to let you know because it could impact my travel. But as I’m sure you know, nothing is really certain in the first trimester, so I would really prefer to wait to share and celebrate this news. Until then, can you just put this out of your mind except for as it affects work?”

  61. Supervision Needed*

    I am a project manager at an organization that has a flat organizational structure. We have small staff of 40, but only three staff have supervisory roles, and while all three have hiring power none of them have firing power (well without the consent of the CEO). I have been applying for other jobs, and most lateral moves want people who have supervisory experience. There is no opportunity to gain this experience with my current employer (it’s one of the many reasons I would like to leave, despite enjoying the work and my colleagues).

    The few places I’ve interviewed have been excited about my skills and experience, but have commented that my lack of supervisory experience is a stumbling block. So I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for how to overcome this. What I could emphasize that would make me a highly appealing candidate even though I lack this experience? While I would love for my next job to be a step-up career wise, at this point I would happily make a lateral move with good longer term prospects. However, I’m finding even for lateral positions that there is an expectation that I have supervised other staff. I’m not that keen about taking steps back in the hope I can work my way back up again. Any suggestions? Just keep my fingers crossed?

    1. MaryMary*

      I would emphasize the skills you have that are related to supervisory responsibilities. Most people managers do a lot of other things besides hiring and firing. If you’re a project manager, I would guess you assign work to others, monitor their progress, and reassign or reallocate work as needed. Do you do any coaching, mentoring, or training? Do you provide feedback to someone when they’re not performing as you expect? Have you ever helped a coworker develop skills for a new role?

      1. Supervision Needed*

        I do most of the things that you have described. However, I probably need to do a better job about emphasizing the coaching and mentoring that i have done in the past. I also work with hundreds of volunteers, and I have had my fair share of conversations addressing performance issues which isn’t a pleasant task when you are addressing issues with someone who is working for free and/or a small stipend. Thanks for the feedback.

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      Can you use informal supervisory experience to show that you are capable of managing people? For example, you could give details on project you lead with a team and how you managed to divvy up responsibilities, ensured that objective were met on time, etc or dealt with internal conflicts. I feel like a lot of what people are looking for when they want supervisory experience they want someone who is comfortable telling people what to do (in terms of work loads and prioritizing projects) and dealing with uncomfortable situations like conflicts. If you don’t have any of that experience in your job, perhaps you could look for it with a volunteer group or something?

      1. Supervision Needed*

        I have a lot of that type of experience. Unfortunately, many employer want to know that you hiring and firing capabilities.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If you could recommend someone be fired but needed final approval I would mention that you could take the initial steps, but had to get final approval. I think the question is more about can you do it if you need to. Maybe.

        2. non-profit manager*

          Are you sure they actually want to know if you had hiring/firing capabilities? I wonder if that is proxy for the more common supervisory activities such as assigning work, following up with employees, providing feedback, coaching, mentoring, assisting with disputes, and the like. If you are hiring doing all the other supervisory tasks well, hopefully you don’t need to fire. ;) Have you sat in on interviews? Been part of a hiring committee, even if not the hiring manager? Honestly, I think that is all more important than whether you’ve fired anyone. I, in fact, have never fired someone, and I hope I never have to.

  62. Jules*

    What do you wish your interviewer told you about an entry level position that requires a lot of detail work, writing and fact finding? We are looking for someone with data analytics savvy but 40% of the role is dealing with nitty gritty details. Not whizzing through Excel spreadsheets. We need someone analytical but also able to deal with the daily grind. What question should I ask so I can tell that you’d be able to deal with it?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Anon for this*

      What sort of level is this position? If it’s entry level I’d probably ask for a skills test. However, if it’s more senior then I would be asking for them to explain if there was a time they had missed a small detail that had larger ramifications. Because generally people who whiz through things don’t see what the big deal is of a small detail being missed. Versus someone who is more detail oriented can tell you the ramifications of a mistake and what procedures were put in place to avoid it going forward.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      It sounds like your description here is good, but I might add that the person in this position is accountable for the accuracy of the final product. Being “accountable” drives home the point that you really, really need someone detail oriented.

      1. Elsajeni*

        When I applied for my current job, one of the interview questions was along the lines of: “Tell me about a situation in a previous job where your work had to be absolutely accurate. What did you do to make that happen?” (I talked about my process for entering grades into the online gradebook when I was a student teacher.) If detail-level accuracy is the concern, that might be a good question.

    3. KW10*

      Make sure you give them a very clear picture is what it involves, like what they might be doing on a typical day/week, and don’t skim over the nitty gritty stuff. Ask how they feel about a job that’s 40% those tasks. I helped hire once and when we asked how they felt that it was a primarily admin role, one person said basically she’s ok with admin for a while but would want to start moving on to other tasks – essentially confirming our fear that she’d be bored with the job and want to leave quickly. (She was not hired!) The person who was hired said she doesn’t mind it’s admin because she’s so interested in what we do and really wants to get a foot in the door in the industry.

      Also you could ask about their experience doing similar nitty gritty tasks in the past.

    4. INFJ*

      A less direct way is to ask what the person’s favorite (or least favorite) part of their current position is. I’m not sure what you mean when you say “able to deal with the daily grind”, but if you mean repetitive tasks, you can tell if the candidate isn’t up for it if they say something like, “I love how every day in my current position I do something different!”

  63. SMT*

    Had another career discussion with HR this week, where I was recommended to admit to my management that I’m looking to leave our division. I’ve been considered for promotions, and for the Leadership Development course, so I’m not sure how well that’s going to go, since I was just transferred to a new team to help me take those ‘next steps’ in my career. The HR person I spoke to said it could help as far as them giving me projects that better suit my interests (allowing me to add some things to my resume), but I’m not sure if I should ruin my opportunity for development/more money while I’m stuck in this division (I found another rejection email as I waited for this appointment yesterday).

  64. Naji*

    I am applying for an early career attorney position at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), which is located in Germany (the Paralympics are basically the Olympics for athletes with physical impediments). As part of the application packet, applicants need to list their salary expectation in euros. Does anyone know what a reasonable salary for this type of position would be or where I could research this? I’m having trouble finding anything. Alternatively, I live in the US, so I’d be interested in knowing what a reasonable salary for an early career attorney in Germany is in general. It would be helpful if you could differentiate between the public and private sector. Thanks for your help.

  65. 12345678910112 do do do*

    I have a particular set of skills… that could really make my dad’s business (electrician) flow better and cut down on his administrative/repetitive tasks, billing, record-keeping, etc. Basically making a database for customer management and billing and creating a small website with a contact form. However, it’s a very small business and he wouldn’t be able to pay me very much if at all. What do you think? Do I let him keep on as he’s been doing for 20+ years without my help? Do I work for him half as a favor and half for a pittance? Is this just a big bad idea?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Could you barter? Your database form for nifty can lights in the kitchen?
      But I’d make sure the could handle this kind of change. I know many shops that have tried to go electronic and the employees/management just can’t handle it and they go back to paper.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Family dynamic.

      Is he even interested in this? Who will use the system once it is set up? Who will maintain the system once it is set up? Is this something he wants? (yes, I asked that question twice, it’s super important.)

      He has to want it. He has to work with the system and not ignore it.

      How easily do conversations with your dad turn to disagreement? If you think about 50% of the time then let it go. Don’t do this.
      When does he plan on retiring? If he has another few years, I’d say forget it. Let it go.

  66. SaraV*


    So in early December, the person I job-shared with at PT Job #1 retired. We’ve hired on another person, but now I’m the one with seniority, the point person. It isn’t supervisory-like responsibility, but it’s enough to be a bit sobering.

    Then, due to a firing this week at PT Job #2, I’ve been suddenly flung into a lot of things that I’ve never really done (but can do) beyond my normal job duties. All because I can get weekdays off from PT Job #1, whereas others who might be a bit more qualified have regular 8-5 jobs.

    So the next two months are going to be a bit…stressful? Exciting?

    So yeah. Eep.

  67. irritable vowel*

    Suggestions for politely telling an aggressive sales rep to please not contact me any more? (We’re just not ever going to pay for their service, but it’s above my pay grade to say so directly.)

    1. Lillian McGee*

      I usually tell them something like continuing to follow up with me would only waste their time and I would just hate to be the cause of that. Or just go cold.

    2. Total Rando*

      You could say that you’re not the one who is able to make purchasing decisions and that you prefer to not be contacted for sales. Do you think that would work? (and can you say that with your pay grade?)

      1. irritable vowel*

        Hmm, the problem is that this guy isn’t pushing me to make a purchasing decision, he just keeps contacting me every week about coming in to my office with their CEO for a meeting (it’s a small startup). His predecessor has already met with my boss’s boss, who passed along the brochures and whatnot about the service, and I’ve told this guy that I have all that info and will contact him if I have any questions. But he can’t take a hint. I just want to tell him, I have no interest in meeting your CEO and your product is little more than vaporware at this point! In my personal life I strive not to let other people’s rudeness make me feel like the one who is being rude, but it’s a little trickier in a professional context when I have to be, um, professional. :/

        You make a good suggestion about telling him I’m not the one who should be contacted for sales. Unfortunately the way our organization works (I’m an academic librarian) is that sales reps expect to make initial contact with the person who specializes in the subject area of their product. And that’s me. I think I may need to just stop responding to him…

        1. West Coast Reader*

          I’ve read advice on this that says it’s perfectly acceptable to say simply “We’re not interested. Please do not call again.” and hang up. It’s not unprofessional to shut down someone when they have crossed your boundaries.

        2. Beezus*

          Stop responding.

          If you happen to pick up the phone by accident when he calls, just let him know that his company’s information is in your prospective vendor file, and you’ll review it if you’re ever in the market for their product, and to please stop calling in the meantime.

          My “prospective vendor file” is the trash can.

    3. irritable vowel*

      Thanks, all! I ended up e-mailing back: “We’ll definitely get back in touch with you when we need updated information about [product], but at this point I don’t think we are able to pursue it further.” I would have liked to be more direct, but this at least gives the impression, if in the unlikely event it’s forwarded to my boss’s boss, that I’m not the final authority on decisions to purchase.

      (A couple of you mentioned phone calls–this has all been via e-mail. I don’t even answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number! This guy definitely calls too, and is a perpetrator of one of my biggest peeves: leave long voice mail and then say at the end, well, “I’ll put all this in an e-mail, too.” The disadvantage of e-mail is that it’s a little harder to be firm/direct because tone can be lost, and also there’s the risk of your words getting preserved or forwarded beyond your control…)

    4. BRR*

      I tell them we aren’t interested and if anything changes we will contact them. That I don’t want them to waste their time by continuing to reach out to me.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “I don’t make those decisions. If TPTB decide to go with your company then they will call you. Please stop calling me.”

    6. mander*

      “I have spoken with the person who makes the buying decisions, and they are not interested in your product at this time. Please do not contact me again. If the situation changes, we will contact you”.

      I hate aggressive sales people. I ended up having to report a company for incorrect use of personal details (a breach of the Data Protection Act, basically) after they would not stop calling me over and over, even though I had repeatedly told them that I was so put off by their astronomical quote and the rudeness of the person who came out to assess the situation that I would never use their company for anything, ever. Granted this was something for my own house, not a business vendor, but it really pissed me off.

  68. lindsay*

    I recently interviewed for a job and am waiting for them to make a decision. They said they would notify me whether I am selected or not. However, while waiting, I received an automated/do not reply email from their HR department thanking me for my application to a different position than the one I interviewed for and saying that my resume was being reviewed. I’m not sure if it was sent by mistake or if they forwarded my resume to a different department for consideration. I want to send a 2nd follow up email, but I’m not sure if I should mention the automated email. How do I proceed?

    1. fposte*

      I think there’s no reason to send a 2nd followup unless you do mention the automated email. “Hi, I just wanted to make sure I was in the system correctly–I got an email that stated I was being considered for Grand Teapot Poobah and not the Teapot Dancer position. I know usually this is just a glitch, but I did want to check. Thanks!”

  69. CryloRen*

    No real questions, just venting. I’ve been on the job search for 3 weeks now and man…job hunting is just not my favorite.

    In three days I interviewed with a company and they extended me a written offer! Yay right? But then the offer got retracted on the day I was going to give notice because the company suddenly went through a restructuring and they had to do a hiring freeze. :(

    I also had a phone interview with a different firm where the hiring manager barely let me speak. She spent 45 minutes going on about how terrific her tiny company is, how I would love it because the people on my immediate team are suuuuuuper healthy and did you know that such-and-such runs half marathons and such-and-such is a certified yoga instructor, isn’t that cool! Oh by the way, your team actually has no background or knowledge of the thing that they’re hiring you for, but it’s OK because they graduated from STANFORD donchaknow!

    The final straw was when she asked, “What was your final GPA? You see, we only hire INTELLECTUAL people.”

    (internally screaming)

    They actually wanted to bring me in for in-person interviews, but after the phone screen shenanigans I would not work for that company under any circumstances. I left a very apologetic message for the hiring manager to decline and she sent me back an email stating that she was “MAJOR LEAGUE disappointed!” and tried to guilt me into coming in anyway because she “had to reschedule another qualified candidate to accommodate you”. I consider it a bullet dodged, but still. Major league UGH.

    1. Ama*

      Holy cow. I bet the reason the team has no background in what they need you for is because the people who actually had qualifications ran away as quickly as they could.

  70. Jade*

    I know you’re not supposed to trash your former employers in job interviews, but I have a problem.

    Two jobs ago, I did something I would never normally do- I walked off the job. I work in mental health care, and one of the residents I took care of attacked and injured me. In the days and weeks leading up to this I had been attacked as well- sometimes injured, sometimes not. My coworkers had also received injuries. I felt our safety was handled poorly, and that if I stayed any longer I would be hurt worse, so I left. Now, I had accepted an offer at a new job (my current job) right before this, so I didn’t have to explain any of this to them, but I’m looking for an additional job now and I know that prospective employers might ask why I quit after only a few months (and if HR tells them, why I walked off the job). In order to properly explain myself, it’s going to involve talking about the procedural failures of the place I used to work at that lead to residents injuring us, such as the lax safety protocols, the abusive treatment of the residents, etc. How do I frame this explanation in a way that allows me to tell my story without making me look like I’m out to trash my previous employer?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Could you just mention the part about being assaulted by a resident? I think that’s enough reason not to feel safe, without mentioning the failures of your organization to protect you.

      1. Jade*

        The problem is that I’m applying to other jobs in the mental health field, and sometimes attacks on staff occur (although they shouldn’t happen at the frequency I experienced at this job). I’m worried a potential employer will look at think I just can’t hack that kind of work, when I feel the problem was the environment I was in, not myself. I need a way to convey that, so that’s gonna involve saying bad things about the environment there.

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          “While I understand this sort of thing happens in this field, it was happening at an alarming frequency and there was not much support in place to prevent it from happening.”

      2. NotherName*

        And practice saying it as neutrally as possible, with all relevant information at the ready. (There will be follow-up questions.) I think this is a very, very valid reason to leave a job, but you want to seem level-headed and like someone who can handle a crisis. Good luck!

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I’m not in hiring, but if anyone said they were attached at work, then I wouldn’t care if it was by and employee, stranger, or customer. Running is a reasonable, human response when in danger.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        In this field, though, it’s part of the job. I have been bitten, scratched, punched (broke my nose once), kicked by clients. if an applicant told me that they walked off a job because they were attacked by a client/patient, and gave no more details, I wouldn’t hire them. However, if they explained that appropriate measures were not being taken – whether it was inadequate training, being understaffed, whatever and that it didn’t seem like their concerns were being taken seriously, that would make a difference to me. Especially if they also could say something positive about the employer/job, like a particular coworker or client who taught them a lot, or specific skills they learned. Just don’t sound bitter or defensive about the situation, don’t go into a lot of nitty gritty about specific managers committing specific wrongs. It’s an understandable reason to leave a job.

        1. Jade*

          Oh yeah. I’ve worked at other places before where clients got aggressive, but it happened much less frequently, and when it happened, it was handled well. This place, I mean, there was inadequate training, calls for backup would go unanswered, clients would have violent meltdowns from harsh tactics like seclusion but then we were supposed to restrain them in the least restrictive ways, and there was clearly a need for more staff than the minimum ratio.

          Honestly even if an interviewer doesn’t bring it up, I’d want to address this issue anyway to make sure I’m not walking into the same kind of environment.

          1. Afiendishthingy*

            Absolutely- ask how often they use seclusion and restraints, staffing ratios, etc. Very important stuff to know.

    3. Not Karen*