open thread – February 12-13, 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 :)

{ 1,163 comments… read them below }

  1. Eager Job Seeker

    Thanks to everyone who commented last week. I really appreciated the advice. Unfortunately I haven’t heard anything back from that organization, but I have had three phone interviews since then.

    At the advice of a friend/mentor, I’m looking into career coaching services. During a free consultation with one such group, the CEO told me some…interesting things. First, she claimed that this organization is one of the best career strategy groups in the world, that her team has written award-winning resumes and gets people jobs in half the national average time (of a search). Okay, great, except…

    Second, she said that my resume needs to be more targeted for jobs I want. She would have her company do a “proprietary” rewrite that costs $700! Apparently I have no keywords/buzzwords on it, and though I’ve heard the opposite advice from career/hiring advice blogs, she said it should list the position for which I’m applying and “core competencies.”

    She did send me samples that looked a little design/graphics heavy and not worth the cost, but does anyone have experience with this?

      1. Artemesia

        I think it is worth thinking about ‘key words’ — try to adapt your resume to include words in the job ads you are applying for. This may help it get by clunky HR screeners or software. The rest sounds like bunk. when you are looking for work $700 is a big deal — since your resume is working to get interviews it can’t be too far off.

        The issue seems to be not advancing beyond initial interviews — this can just be the luck of the draw or signal a problem with references or poor interview performance. My daughter who now runs the company that hired her, went through half a dozen interviews before landing a job and was beginning to feel like there must be something wrong torpedoing her — but apparently sometimes in this competitive environment it just takes a while. I would of course adapt the resume for the particular jobs you are going for BUT also be reviewing Alison’s advice on interviewing. And don’t lose confidence; your experience is pretty much the norm these days.

        1. Wendy Darling

          I’ve been using jobscan.co a lot to do this. I also haven’t gotten an interview yet, but at least it provides me a structured way to look at the wording of the ad versus the wording in my resume.

    1. Kenzie

      Don’t do it. It sounds like you already think/have heard differently from what she is telling you. This reeks of a money-grab that wont end up being very productive for you in the end. Can your friend/mentor take a look at your resume and give their own opinion?

      1. Eager Job Seeker

        I mean, I do trust my own instincts on this, but I wanted to see if more experienced/knowledgeable people felt the same way. My mentor is pretty sick right now from chemo and I’ve had a lot of different people work with me on my resume, but I’m reaching out to a few people to take a look at this updated version. Thanks!

    2. Sadsack

      Huh. I didn’t know that there is an organization that gives out awards for resumes. I wonder how that works.

      1. hbc

        That was the part that got my attention too. My guess is there’s a mutual back-patting organization where a few companies come up with an official sounding name and give each other awards. We got a Top Business of [State] award last year from a group which just happened to be run by the recruiter we use. What an honor.

        1. Artemesia

          LOL When I helped found a research association in my narrow field, one of the first things we did as an organization was create some awards; those suckers do help people as they advance in their profession.

    3. College Career Counselor

      This proprietary re-write is, in my opinion, a predatory re-write if they’re going to charge you $700 for it. That’s far too much for what will likely be a lot of empty buzzwords (full of sound and fury, signifying nothing). Don’t let your resume be a tale told by these idiots.

      The one thing in your note that stands out that might have some value is targeting your resume for the jobs you’re applying to. You do this by demonstrating your relevant skills through prior accomplishments. But frankly, if you’re getting the phone screen interviews, it sounds like your resume is doing its job–which is capturing the attention of the recruiter to the point that they want to talk to you.

      1. Eager Job Seeker

        Thanks! What also bothered me is her saying that “cover letters are only read for 30 seconds and only 20% of the time so therefore tailoring them to the specific position,” which I do, “is not helping.”

        1. OwnedByTheCat

          Gah. I’m hiring right now, and am relying on cover letters SO much. If someone sends me a generic one, they are instantly put in the “no” pile. I need to know why you want to work in fundraising (It’s an entry level position so lots of newbies to the field), why you want part-time work, and why you want to work for this company.

          Keep tailoring. You’re clearly doing the right thing if you’re getting interview!

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            “Gah” from me, too. I know that when I’ve served on hiring committees, it has often been the cover letters that 1) culled the ranks to those who would be invited for phone interviews; 2) were the differentiating factor between two or more very similar candidates to be invited for in-person interviews, and 3) weighed very heavily in deciding between the two or three finalists. I mean, we just kept returning to the cover letters at every pivotal moment of the hiring process when the differences between two or more candidates seemed too close to call. Keep tailoring!

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Granted, the positions for which I typically serve on hiring committees are very written-communication focused. YMMV for fields where that isn’t so much a concern.

              1. Eager Job Seeker

                I’m looking for research/comms jobs at nonprofits, think tanks, and other similar progressive organizations.

        2. Kyrielle

          She has something to sell and she’s selling it. It depends on industry and individual hiring manager how much weight cover letters get. Also, if they get a 30-second read on average, remember that most hiring managers will first *skim* things like that if they’re going to read them…and then only read in depth if there’s signs of actual content. If the skim shows them “blah blah love to work for Acme Corp blah blah repeat my resume deals blah blah” or even a short and sweet “Thank you for looking at my resume!” type thing, they aren’t going to read more deeply, because there’s no reason to…but that doesn’t mean they won’t spend more than 30 seconds paying attention to a well-written cover letter. (Actually, time yourself. How fast can you read and absorb a 1/2 or 1-page letter you haven’t seen before with reasonable content? 30 seconds isn’t a horrible time.)

          Anecdotally – and it’s relevant only for the companies and industry I was dealing with – I know my cover letter was read, and influential, at both of the companies I applied to in my last job search. It was read by multiple people; they brought it up in the interviews. This included managers, the CEO of the smaller company (the CEO of the larger one may or may not have known I existed, probably didn’t – it’s literally 100 times bigger), and peers I am or would have been working with, who took part in the interviews. I’m not sure they _all_ read it, but at least one in each category referenced it, and in two cases that I remember, said it made a huge difference in how they viewed my candidacy and how much they wanted to talk to me.

          I did also tailor my resume, not heavily but as needed for the positions. Mostly that meant playing my accomplishments up that appeared most relevant, in my case. (Emphasizing my extensive Windows programming background, more useful for the company that wrote software for Windows, and not so awesome a focus for the company that wrote software exclusively for Linux.)

        3. Liza

          Ack! She is so wrong about cover letters! I mean, maybe not every manager reads them, because as we all know there’s a wide range of hiring practices out there–but I just scheduled a phone interview with someone purely because of their cover letter.

        4. overeducated and underemployed

          Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat! I only have a couple versions of my resume that I use for most job postings, but I write a new cover letter (sometimes tailored, sometimes from scratch) for every single job. It’s clearly been really important in getting interviews – there’s only so much you can tailor your work history itself, the resume is kind of limiting on that front, but in a cover letter you can write any story you want. And if someone comes away from their 30 second read thinking, “this person sounds like an experienced teapot maker whose experience is related to 3 different aspects of our open position,” well, that was 30 seconds of impact, right?

    4. Hermione

      What on earth is a “proprietary” rewrite? “Core Competencies” would send me running for the door based on what I know from AAM, but $700 for a resume rewrite? I honestly think I would have laughed in her face. I’d wager you’re better off using that money to attend a conference in your field.

    5. Prismatic Professional

      Please don’t do it. You’re already getting interviews. If you want resume advice, read Alison’s articles on achievement oriented language, don’t spend $700 on someone who thinks “core competencies” is a smart idea.

      1. Marketeer

        Agreed! If you weren’t getting interviews, I would still say don’t do it. Can you imagine how much the career coaching costs if the resume re-write is $700?!?

    6. Temperance

      I used to work in shared office space, and we had one of these companies as a client. They are shady. Do not use their services.

      The fact that you met with the CEO is red-flaggy, because, well, CEOs should have more important things to do, right? The business in my office had 2 people, one of whom was the CEO. They also pretended to have additional employees and to skirt bad reviews on Rip Off Report and other sites by creating pseudonyms and setting up a voicemail for those pseudonyms.

      1. Eager Job Seeker

        Yeah, it was a phone call, but still. She wanted to sell me a 2k package of resume rewrite, coaching, and some strategy course, and when I said I couldn’t afford that (completely true), she said the lowest she could go for the resume rewrite and fewer coaching sessions was $1200. I googled the company and couldn’t find any reviews whatsoever.

        1. Temperance

          My guess is that they are a d/b/a situation – where they keep switching up their name, to avoid being tied to the bad reviews. Companies like these are bottom-feeders seeking desperate people, and they do their clients no favors.

        2. Escalating Eris

          Oh wow. This reminds me of the time Erisian Man and I received a cold call from a vacuum cleaner company. We were intrigued, so we arranged for them to come to our house and demonstrate this wonderful machine that they claimed could make your house spotless and cure asthma and dust mite allergies to boot.

          They came and did their spiel. “So how much does it cost?” we asked when the demo was over.

          “Well, the list price is £1200.” Cue incredulous laughter from myself and EM. “I can make a phone call to my manager and see what we can do”, one of the saleswomen said.

          After a short conversation on her mobile, she came back with a new price…. £1000.

          We showed her the door. Fifteen years later, we’re still using our £75 Panasonic vacuum cleaner, with no regrets.

          What I’m really trying to say is, £1000 is far too much to pay for a vacuum cleaner, an $700 is far too bloody much to pay for a CV.

    7. Dr. Johnny Fever

      I’m of the opinion that no resume rewrite is worth $700, even if one must buy a computer specifically to write it.

      There are too many online resources, including at this blog, to make the same changes for free. Please don’t go with the career counseling, especially not at that price.

      Your resume is getting replies, and you can research and apply so many free options. I’d recommend taking that route.

    8. Bea W

      “Award winning resumes” WTH? Okay, assuming there is such a thing, you might not care if your resume wins any awards. You just want it to get you interviews, which it sounds like it is doing. Also, unless you are looking for work as a graphic designer/artist or something where showing off those skills are necessary, you don’t want a resume with anything fancy or graphics. You want it to be laid out in such a way that it is easy to read, but graphics and fancy layouts are completely useless, especially in the age of uploading and cut and paste. Many systems will convert the text from your resume and put it into whatever format it gets stored in, and going too crazy on design can bork the end result, and what someone sees on the other end is crap.

      Relevant keywords can be important, but those are different from “buzzwords”. Buzzwords are a bunch of invented meaningless crap. Maybe some industries <3 the buzzwords on resumes, but I think your average person just wants to read things in plain language, and tossing a bunch of buzzwords in a resume can come across as pretentious, fake, and/or trying too hard. If I ever got a resume full of buzzwords, I'm pretty sure I would toss it in the circular file along with all of the corporate emails and announcements made of mostly buzzwords.

      I can think of a million better ways to spend $700. I think these people are full of crap. I love College Career Counselor's phrase "predatory re-write". What does "proprietary re-write" mean anyway? "Proprietary" implies they hold exclusive rights to it, which seems a little weird when you are talking about someone else's resume. It's like they are saying "If we re-write your resume, it belongs to us, and we will charge to an exorbitant amount of money for the right to use it." Sounds a lot like some of the phrases my employer has come up with like "product patrimony", "realigning for more effective adjacencies", and anything containing the word "transversal".

      1. Doriana Gray

        Sounds a lot like some of the phrases my employer has come up with like “product patrimony”, “realigning for more effective adjacencies”, and anything containing the word “transversal”.

        What does any of that even mean?!

    9. Not So NewReader

      Alison charges $99 (?) I believe when she does consultations on resumes.
      This $700 thing is a scam and probably an MLM. Probably this CEO wants you to sell resume rewrites, also.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        $125 or $149, depending on the offer.

        But $700 wouldn’t be crazy for someone doing a full rewrite if they were good at it. This person sounds like she’s terrible at it.

    1. The Alias That Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

      Best: I interviewed for a job a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t get an offer. Which is fine because I don’t think I would have liked it at all. The pay wasn’t much better, the commute was a lot longer, and the people I met with seemed to have the warmth of a frozen waffle.

      Worst: Gosh, the whole week sucked. I had my review and was told I’m too cynical. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but being told you have a major personality flaw is kind of hard to hear.

      1. Kristine

        > the people I met with seemed to have the warmth of a frozen waffle.

        I was drinking carbonated water when I read this and now my nostrils are burning.

      2. Wendy Darling

        I got similar feedback in my review. It totally blindsided me because up until the review the only non-performance-related feedback I’d gotten was how fun I was to work with. But it was really difficult to read the review as anything but “your personality — get rid of it.”

        1. Terra

          I once got a review ding for the fact that “some people have complained about your voice.” Boss couldn’t remember who had complained or what exactly they said but still felt the need to tell me. I guess he expected me to get a vocal chord transplant?

          1. First Initial dot Lastname

            THIS is why I’m a soft spoken introvert. I apparently have a cartoon squirrel voice. Seriously, there’s not much I can do about that short of smoking and whiskey. Lets play “would you rather” hear a squirrel, or a drunken surly squirrel?

      3. Doriana Gray

        . I had my review and was told I’m too cynical.

        Was that comment in relation to a work-related project or task? Because if it wasn’t and it was just a general comment on your personality that has nothing to do with your work product/performance, that was out of line and you should have objected.

    2. Mockingjay

      Best: the process that I suggested a year ago (and was shot down) is now being implemented.

      Worst: Today is the last day for our temporary receptionist. Our regular staffer returns from medical leave on Monday. We were hoping to keep her on and move the regular staffer into HR full-time, but funds are lacking.

      1. Hermione

        >Best: the process that I suggested a year ago (and was shot down) is now being implemented.

        Yay! Congrats!

        1. Artemesia

          I hope you got some credit for it. I had a boss once that would yell at me in meetings for my stupid ideas, most of which were almost immediately implemented. This was the boss where co-workers came to me after one meeting and said ‘What was that about? You must remind him of his first wife or something’

    3. TotesMaGoats

      Best: Last week, we presented for our board of trustees and knocked it out of the park. Especially since my numbers were sky high after undergrad admissions presented their (let’s say) underperforming numbers.

      Worst: Saw the draft of the email going to the board from the president today. We got one sentence mention and it wasn’t even accurate. The grad school actually piloted the use of a specific advertising method not the other way around.

      1. Elle the new Fed

        Best: Got a positive annual review at work! And my boss gave me glowing compliments

        Worst: I am SO BUSY. Being know as the person who gets things done definitely comes with an added workload during deadline periods.

    4. Carmen Sandiego JD

      Worst: deadlines, deadlines deadlines. Also, was so tired waking up, that a hairband on my wrist ended up an anklet on the inside of my stockings/slacks. Boo/not sure how that happened.

      Best: coffee, coffee, coffee. And piano, piano, piano. And telecommuting (more). And good colleagues. *knock on wood*. And early Valentine’s day stuff.

    5. Kristine

      Best: Had my first review at this company and they said I was exceeding expectations!

      Worst: I’m in the calm before the storm. Everything is going to drop on me like a ton of bricks next week.

    6. Annon for this

      Best: Documentary I took part in last summer aired last night and I still have a job.
      Worst: I said ‘tentacle porn’ in a documentary. And my mom watched it.

        1. Annon for this

          It’s a documentary series on the dark internet and some of the really awful stuff that goes on. Our segment was on content moderation. And after doing this for four years, I apparently no longer have any sort of filters on what I say.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          I found out about the existence of tentacle porn from my teen children when they were snickering over the name of a soda in the anime shop called “tentacle grape”, which apparently was a play on ‘tentacle rape’, as they explained to me.

    7. matcha123

      Hmm…Best: My contract was renewed.

      Worst: (it’s not the worst thing in the world, just bugged me)
      When talking about me staying on for another year, my boss said my translations had “gotten better” than when I first got there and urged me to learn more about Japan and Japanese culture.
      It might sound innocent, but it’s terribly annoying to have to fight with people who have never seriously used English outside of a test setting.
      I will be asked about grammar points that I have no idea how to explain aside from “it sounds better this way.” No matter how many times I explain that the audience are English-speakers and not Japanese people, I’m still asked to stick to direct translations. And the translations can sound terribly childish, stilted or just weird…but I have to keep them because the grammar in English should match the grammar in Japanese, which makes no sense!
      So, to be told that my writing in English isn’t up to par because it doesn’t mirror the original Japanese really gets on my nerves.

      1. The Alias That Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

        Aren’t there Tublrs for improperly translated Japanese to English words and how bad the translation is? Would that help? Or would they just not get it?

        1. matcha123

          They don’t get it.
          A number of times I will say that something should be written in a certain way, only to be asked if it’s OK to write it that way in British English (I don’t know!).

          “Well, it might be OK because it’s British English. Plus, this is going to be read by non-native-English speakers, too.”

          I spent a good amount of time trying to clearly (I hope!) explain that a certain paragraph should be reworded because we just don’t write that way in English. My coworker says, “But, it’s a translation, so we shouldn’t add or take away too much.”
          The paragraph in question made it sound like the staff, whom we were writing about, were incompetent and needed outside assistance to complete tasks at an above average level. The original doesn’t sound like that, but due to cultural differences, no matter how I translate that paragraph it just won’t sound like natural English.

          1. TootsNYC

            Actually, GOOD translations are NOT the literal transfer of the words. They take into consideration idiom, etc.

            “It’s not idiomatic; we need to be true to the idiom in Japanese by using the corresponding idiom in English. And they’re not the same words.”

            “It’s fishy” in English translates to: “Das ist nicht ganz geheuer!” in German, for example.

      2. Xarcady

        Used to work at a translation agency. We got this sort of thing from one client All. The. Time. We’d translating English into 5-15 other languages. “Why is there a hyphen in the English, but not in the Spanish, French or German?” “This German translation has too many words capitalized. It should match the English.” “The punctuation in this French translation is all wrong. Make it match the English.” “The English has an em-dash here. All the other languages need to have the em-dash in the same place.” (They were fixated on the em-dashes for some reason.)

        I swear once they wanted to know why a 15 word sentence in English wasn’t 15 words in all the other languages.

        Direct or literal translation is . . . not so good. The reason you want a native speaker of your target language doing the translation is because they will know the proper idioms to use, the correct punctuation, the best way to get the meaning across. How to handle word play–“Take a byte [bite] out of your memory problems,” is not going to work in every other language in the world, for example.

        I have no advice for you, but a great deal of sympathy.

        1. matcha123

          Thank you!
          I try to explain that there are real cultural reasons behind why I’ve translated something a certain way, and I get so much push back. Then the same people come to me with letters or emails from native and non-native English speakers, and ask me an insane amount of questions.

          “Does this mean they don’t like it?”
          “No, it means they like it a lot.”
          “But doesn’t this word mean something bad?”
          “Not in this context. This is a set phrase.”
          “Why did they say this? Is this formal?”
          “They are probably trying to be friendly, so our reply should also be less formal.”
          “We’re Japanese, we can’t do that.”
          “Okay. I’ll just go back to my desk now.”

          1. Not So NewReader

            This explains a lot of the old instruction books that used to come with Japanese products. You could not finish reading the instructions because you were rolling on the floor in laughter.

            One of the best ones I have heard should have been an instruction (car? bike?) that went like this, “If a pedestrian steps out in front of you, blow the horn.” What they actually wrote was, something like”When persons afoot present, toottle the horn melodiously.” Yes “toot-le” I did not mistype that word. Yes, “melodiously”, because we all use that word everyday, right?

            But you probably can’t tell them that their customers are laughing at them, can you?

        2. Susan C

          “This German translation has too many words capitalized.”

          … Please accept this cookie and a bottle of painkillers as a token of heartfelt sympathy.

          The word count thing though pretty much happened to me – I still remember that as the exact moment I lost all respect in my elementary school teacher, bless her heart.

          1. Xarcady

            Thank you for the cookie!

            Heck, I had co-workers at the translation agency who would un-capitalize all the German nouns. (If you don’t know German, all nouns, not just proper nouns, are always capitalized.) I was the only one who knew any German, and was not easy to convince people that I was right.

        3. SusanIvanova

          What I’ve learned in providing translatable strings – everything has to be localizable. You may think that “%s: %s” can be used as-is for all languages. No. In French, there should be a space before and after the colon: “%s : %s”. And don’t even think of splitting up sentences, or something that started out “Every” “%d days” will turn into “Every” “[specific day of week]” in Japanese.

          And word count in sentences? The review comment for all my “fix places where the adjustable layout wasn’t” was “Because German” :)

          That client’s non-English customers hate them. They probably won’t sell at all in France.

          1. matcha123

            This is so true. I keep telling them that the people reading the translation are not likely to be reading the original. If space is a problem, they should have thought about that BEFORE making a plaque!
            I think that companies like Sony are, or were, resorting to low-level crowd sourcing translations. My sister sent me a Sony product from the US and when I read the manual, I could practically reverse translate it back into Japanese…I shouldn’t be able to do that!

      3. literateliz

        >urged me to learn more about Japan and Japanese culture.

        I have been there, and I feel you. It’s so frustrating when you’re immersed in it every day and people imply you’re not doing enough.

        Also, not quite the same thing, but someone (a very nice guy, actually) once asked me the “do you eat bread or rice” question on the wrong day and I nearly started flipping tables. I knew it was meant in all innocence and I’ve had much worse things happen but at that moment I just COULD NOT.

        >but I have to keep them because the grammar in English should match the grammar in Japanese

        I think when I learned saseru/rareru was when I first truly understood why native Japanese speakers come up with some of the fucked up sentences in English that they do. My textbook had an example sentence that literally translated would mean “I was entered by a burglar” and I was like WELL THEN.

        1. Elizabeth West

          LOLOLOLOLOL

          That reminds me of this really dumb story in my middle-school Spanish textbook. We were supposed to write a translation of it for a test. The story was about some military dudes and one of them ate three crows’ eyeballs and puked them back up. The only sentence I remember from the story is one of the soldiers telling his superior officer, “El hombre vomitado tres cuervos ojos, mi General.”

          I am not making this up.

          1. literateliz

            LOL that is amazing. We didn’t have anything that bad in the English textbook I taught from, but I did have kids (and other teachers) constantly running around yelling “Oh no! My cola!” from a particularly cheesy dialogue.

        2. Boop

          And this is why translation is both an art and a science – because sometimes you have to translate the meaning, not the words! I’m terrible with languages, but I remember reading about the kid who translated Harry Potter into French, and realizing exactly how impressive that was.

        3. matcha123

          I remember you writing that you also did JET.
          When I was on the program, my Japanese coworker turned to my Chinese JET coworker and asked her if they ate rice in China. No joke.

          I swear that every conversation with my coworkers starts with me saying, “It’s not that you *can’t* say this, and it *is* grammatically correct, BUT…” It’s frustrating for both sides. They haven’t lived in an English-speaking country and they don’t understand that “good” translations don’t always mirror the original.

          On the rare occasion they decide that a translation doesn’t need to mirror the original, I’m berated for following the original too closely!

    8. hbc

      Worst: Had to fire someone because she started telling everybody that she was going to bring in her husband and it wasn’t going to be pretty. She was being ridiculous before that (not following instructions, telling her supervisor to go away), but obviously I went from planning a PIP to termination.

      Best: When a stranger was spotted in the parking lot the next day, the two people who had not been fans of that woman’s supervisor found him and said, “We got your back.” Turned out it was just some poor sales guy who got the welcoming committee, but still.

      1. Kyrielle

        Um, well, she contributed to team unity of the remaining team?

        O.o

        Sorry you, all of you, had to go through that. :( Hope that is the end of it.

        1. hbc

          I just now got a box from FedEx with the stuff she needed to return, so I think we’re good. Now I’m hearing from the person who got to hear most of her stories that her husband thought all her work problems were her fault. So no, there was never any chance of him coming in.

          But yeah, I’ve never seen the team so unified over a decision.

    9. CherryScary

      Best: Despite a crazy busy week, I’m feeling like I’m actually getting some stuff done. :)

      Worst: This new high-profile initiative I’m supposed to be working on is stalled out, AND this thing we needed to send to print yesterday still isn’t ready. Gah.

    10. Hermione

      Best: Finished giant project. Had to go line by line to confirm accuracy, and had a boatload of edits to make (so. many. little. things!) but IT’S DONE!!

      Worst: This job search is driving me crazy. Nothing appeals to me. I think I’m burnt out on it, which is ridiculous because I’ve barely started. It seems to boil down to the fact that I don’t know what I want to do with my life, and feeling paralyzed by indecision.

    11. Liz

      Best – Heard from OldManager that I was approved for the position (returning to internship team as a regular employee) and should be getting my offer this week

      Worst – OldManager called yesterday to say they put in their two weeks so I would be returning to a potentially unstable environment and there is no one lined up to replace them right now

    12. ACA

      Best: My coworkers are actually starting to ask my advice on work-related things!

      Worst: Suffering through a painstakingly thorough web content management training. Yes, please, tell me more about using a rich text editor to create these things called “italics.”

    13. OwnedByTheCat

      Best: found a great job opportunity in New City and received an interview offer the same day I applied.

      Worst: I am SO behind and have serious writer’s block on a really easy grant proposal due at the end of the month.

    14. KR

      Best is that I had some really yummy food this week and that the week flew by.
      Worst is that I have to work at Job #2 this weekend in sub-zero temperatures going outside almost constantly all afternoon into evening.

    15. animaniactoo

      Best: New line was approved with only minor revisions asked for. On the first pass. That’s fairly rare.

      Worst: Our major industry show is next week. I’ve been going pretty non-stop, haven’t even had the time/brainpower for my side job.

    16. GlamNonprofitSquirrel

      Best: Longtime employee was involved in a serious accident at home two weeks ago and until yesterday, survival odds were slim. Today, his eyes are open, he’s talking and making sense. Thanks, universe.

      Worst: Longtime employee was involved in a serious accident at home two weeks ago. It’s put a major strain on our team and my deputy and office manager are both on vacation plus the new guy started today.

      Coping Mechanism: I’m wearing my Notorious RBG t-shirt and I have 32 ounces of iced coffee. #BringIt

      1. Sail On, Sailor

        Reading this just gave me a new perspective on my worst thing this week. I can handle what’s going on .

        Hope the longtime employee makes a full and smooth recovery, and that you and your co-workers get through this time.

    17. Golden Yeti

      Best: 3 day weekend coming up, and a few shows I like are coming back this weekend.

      Worst: Slipped on an ice patch yesterday, tore my new jeans, and cut up my knee.

    18. anonymo

      Best: got an offer and accepted it, just waiting for the background check to finish (no reason to think I won’t pass)
      Worst: hearing that at old job (now 2 jobs ago job) some of the things I pushed for are finally happening. which in the grand scheme of things isn’t so bad.

    19. Liza

      Best: I invited two people to come in for on-site interviews! I’m very excited about this (and even more excited about getting to have another full-time person in my department).

      Worst: …prefer not to say. But it was something that will be forgotten soon enough.

    20. Kyrielle

      Best: Trying a new schedule for my work day that lets me pick my kids up earlier from after-school care. So far, so good! (It’s, um, only day two of fully using it, so my data sample is arguably insufficient.)

      Worst: I have a whole lot of half-finished, stuck work items on my plate. I also have stuff I can get done, but having 4-5 items in “hanging on input” status makes me twitchy. Which is ridiculous, because they’re not actually going to become time critical when they get input and come unstuck; none of them is that big a deal. Nonetheless, I will be grateful when the number of hanging items is reduced.

    21. StudentPilot

      Worst: I’ve been off work all week with a fever that has ranged from 37.6 to 39.4 (ugh….99.7F to 103F). (Among other ailments, but that’s been the big factor)

      Best: I was worried how my new manager (she’s been in the position for all of 3 weeks) would take my absence, but she’s been awesome. (Oh, and fever broke last night)

    22. LizB

      Best: I have so many meetings next week! This may not sound like a “best,” but things have been soooo slooooow at work, but I started emailing some community partners to spread the word about our program and I’ve gotten lots of positive responses back! I actually have something to DO next week! Huzzah!

      Worst: I got one response back from a community partner saying “This program sounds awesome, I have a client who needs this kind of support right now, how do I refer them?” And I had to tell them that we’re not actually able to do that kind of support yet because our government partner is dragging their feet, and there’s currently no way for them to refer clients because said government partner is requiring us to only take referrals directly from them. :( I got into this job to help clients, and I’m getting increasingly frustrated that the government partner who approached my organization in the first place to set up this program can’t get their shit together so we can actually, you know, help.

    23. Pokebunny

      Best: I submitted 3 apps this week.

      Worst: I have to train my replacement hire, and it turns out the guy has zero background in what I do. I spent the first two days explaining really basic things (think “if you went to school for this, there’s no way you don’t know what this is” basic). I don’t really mind, because he seems eager to learn (plus I get paid anyway), but it makes me wonder why they would bring in someone who has absolutely no knowledge about his new role.

    24. Lefty

      Best: Made a presentation that went over well, despite some last minute changes including the size of the audience (“Oh, you know 8-12 people”… “We had a little more interest than expected, is 48 attendees ok?”). Made some great contacts and the staff who attended enjoyed mixing things up away from the office.

      Worst: Afformentioned office has no heat today… we’re in Boston in February with a windchill warning. Typing in mittens could be added to my resume though!

      1. Lefty

        Need to update to change my Worst: My office is across the hall from a men’s bathroom which contains only a mirror, sink, hand dryer, and commode. One of the leads from down the hall went in with a peeled (totally naked, vulnerable, not in its skin) banana and I think he used the restroom ( he was in there for a minutete and he flushed the commode). He emerged with this unpeeled, unprotected banana still in-hand. I’m disturbed… food in the bathroom? Ew. Did he not wash his hands? Ew. Maybe he did wash his hands and somehow delicately held the banana between his teeth (without breaking it at all?) while he went and washed? That poor banana.

        1. BenAdminGeek

          That’s…. not an ideal fruit for the bathroom. I mean, no fruit is bathroom fruit, but that’s especially unfortunate.

          Also, it’ll be -30 with windchill, so definitely keep those mittens on!

        2. Bruce H.

          I heard a story once from a woman complaining about her boyfriend (husband?) carrying a sandwich into the bathroom, then offering her a bite of it after he came out.

    25. literateliz

      Best: TGIF! I have a massage + green tea bath scheduled at 7:30 this evening. Ohhhh yeaaahhhhhh. Thinking of that is going to get me through today.

      Worst: The last two weeks have been a complete shitshow – my boss and I were both out sick with some kind of supercold, work piled up, and now she’s on vacation and people are coming to me with questions and I feel overwhelmed and incompetent. Everything is on a rush schedule and I’ve been finishing up two freelance projects during my evenings/weekends and I’m dying. I so deserve that massage today. Also, I found out that our department assistant (who’s been here 3 months) is being trained to cover some tasks when others are out, which was something I asked my boss about several times during the 3 years I was in that position and it somehow never happened… so that had me in kind of a funk yesterday. It makes sense, she’s a lot less green than I was when I started, but combined with my general feelings of incompetence this week it felt kind of crappy.

    26. Hlyssande

      Best: 1) Our yearly made-up holiday for the global data management teams means that I got really good cheesecake yesterday. 2) Awesome Supervisor had her baby last week and we got pictures Monday – this kid has the fattest cheeks I have ever seen on a baby.

      Worst: 1) Manager being in Manila on their day schedule makes it incredibly hard to communicate with him re: things that really need face to face conversations. And when we do get ahold of him or he does respond to emails, he’s obviously sleep-deprived and punchy. Can’t wait for him to be back next week. 2) Depression means that I can’t actually remember the last day I put in a full day’s worth of work. I just went off the mood stabilizer med that wasn’t working and I feel oddly more stable, but with more headaches. Working on it with my psych, but ugh. UGH.

    27. Lady Kelvin

      Best: I have finally gotten two models which have been breaking for the last 6 months to run and produce good results. That means I might actually finish my PhD this semester! :)

      Worst: I am apparently ill with chest pain and coughing and I have a fever. No other symptoms. Its weird, and I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve run a fever. Even when I had ear infections or strep I didn’t run a fever. Blargh, there must be something wrong with me.

    28. AnonAcademic

      Best: my boss went on vacation for a week! He is very intense to work for and it’s nice to have some breathing room.

      Worst: we have an employee who is on the cusp of burnout and there’s a good chance she will either quit or we’ll fire her. I really hope it doesn’t come to that as she is very capable and I like her personally but as her supervisor I have to keep the best interests of the project in mind.

    29. Mallory Janis Ian

      Best: Tapingo introduced restaurant delivery to our university campus, and there are over a dozen different options so far, with several more restaurants showing up this week with ‘coming soon’ signs. I’ve been ordering lunch in waay more often than I should . . .

      Worst: I’m going broke from ordering lunch from Tapingo ;-)

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        So jelly.

        We have zero food options where I work, everything is at least 30 minutes to pick something up :(

    30. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      Best: I actually feel like I have a handle on the next three months priority-wise, and was actually able to review my proposed workload with my boss.

      Worst: Realizing no matter how much I love the organization I work for, at the end of the day the changes/demands they have added to this position really do require 2.5 people to do and I have no desire to do the work of multiple people. It’s time to move on.

    31. Emmie

      Best: Figured out the depth of a very complicated problem.

      Worst: I work from home. In the 5 minute dead space before a Web conference, I decided to pull hot rollers out of my hair and toss in a few curling iron curls. Accidently turned on my Web camera. Coworkers saw me curling my hair! Lesson learned. Just stare at the monitor during the dead space before Web conferences!!!!!

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        Lol. Did anyone say anything to you? I was part of a Webinar last night on YNAB, and I didn’t know if I would be on webcam or not. Our computer is in our son’s room right now while we renovate the home office, and I made him make his bed before the webinar started. Turns out, no webcams are used, but better safe than having people see me sitting with an unmade bed behind me!

        1. Ordinary Worker

          I keep a small piece of a Post It note over my webcam unless I plan to use it. Safer that way :)

        2. Emmie

          Yes, Malloy Janis Ian! :) One employee was kind enough to tell me over IM. I covered it so fast w/ my thumb, and half closed my laptop. It’s now covered with a very thick folded post-it note and lots of masking tape. Lesson learned.

    32. overeducated and underemployed

      Best: I had a second interview today for one of the jobs I posted about last week as really exciting prospects, and the hiring manager made it sound like I’m still in the running by saying things like “the next step is to meet with the executive director for a third interview, I’ll email you later today to schedule that.” Also, both interviews made me MORE excited about this job, which comes out so much that I keep being afraid my eagerness comes off as desperate or unprofessional. I wish it wasn’t such a long process – this is the first time I’ve ever had more than two interviews for a job, and the suspense is killing me!

      Worst: Didn’t get an offer for the other job I posted about last week. Wah wah. What makes it better is that honestly I’m more thrilled by the other still-open prospect, but that isn’t a sure thing either. What makes it worse is that almost immediately after, two of my friends let me know that they did get offers for jobs in the same super competitive field, so it was pretty much impossible not to compare myself and feel terrible. Especially since one of the friends only applied for a small handful of “perfect fit” type jobs since last summer, but because I feel financially and professionally pressured to cast my net wider, I’ve applied for…um…97 in the same time frame. The other friend managed to swing a spousal hire, which is really rare, and figuring out how to balance our two careers is something my partner and I often wonder about.

      1. Doriana Gray

        I’m sorry you didn’t get that other job, but I hope the one from your best works out! Hey, your friends got new jobs, it’s your turn now :)

    33. FiveWheels

      Best: new hire didn’t ask me to explain basic computer tasks like how to format margins in a Word document!

      Worst: new hire has progressed to discovering tracked changes and wants to know what it’s all about and I. Just. Cannot.

    34. alice

      Best: I got two job offers (they’re volunteer, but still) AND a major medical issue that I’ve been dealing with for the past two years may be finally getting handled properly.

      Worst: Ongoing problems with a coworker are not getting resolved.

    35. Brett

      Best: New job! New job! New job! Everything went perfect in the whole process and I have a new job with a hefty raise and with one of the companies on my list of targeted employers. I have had people from all over the region contacting me to congratulate me.

      Worst: Having to tell everyone I was leaving. Everyone has been happy for me, no one was shocked, but a few people were definitely pretty sad and sometimes a bit panicked. But, one of our C-Level people told me he plans to use my departure to leverage changes he wants in how we handle personnel.

      1. TootsNYC

        see, that’s actually a good thing. What a service you are doing for those you’re leaving behind, by giving this tool to your C-suite!

    36. Nerdling

      Best: My supervisor is putting me in for a merit award, so I’ve got my fingers crossed it goes through.
      Worst: I’ve become de facto tech support over the years in this office (our official tech support is about two hours away), and I just do not get paid enough to deal with people who are willfully ignorant of little things like how to answer the main line or transfer an incoming call to someone’s desk (we all got instructions when we moved into this office last year, and I’ve taught people to do it multiple times since then, but one guy just refuses to learn).

      1. TootsNYC

        Time to refuse to answer him. “Bob, I’ve showed you this several times. Now you really need to figure it out for yourself.” You can even add: “it’s not fair to me for you to come interrupt me and ask me to hold your hand through this. I have other work to do.”

        The only reason I know how to tie my shoes is that my Kgarten teacher did this to me. I thought she was really, really mean at the time–but I figured out how to tie my shoes that very day, and I’ve never wanted to admit to anyone that she was right.

    37. Ms. Matthews

      Best: Found out 2 weeks ago a grant application I wrote was funded to the tune of almost $100k.
      Worse: Still waiting for a “nice job” (or any comment for that matter) from my supervisor. I’d ask for one directly, but I’ve given up on this place and am working on my exit plan.

    38. Ellay

      Best: Just got word that testing is successfully completed on a big project I had to take over partway through despite not knowing anything about how it worked.
      Worst: Stuck waiting for information to come from a bunch of different people, trying to walk a line between being productive and bugging clients too much.

    39. Wendy Darling

      Best: I sent in a lovingly crafted resume and cover letter for a job I actually want and did not get an auto-reject within 24 hours!

      Worst: …that’s the best thing that happened this week.

    40. Elizabeth West

      Worst: Not really anything bad, just trying to muddle through a new process. Multiple people are involved in it and it’s confusing as all hell to establish a routine for my bit of it. Also, I had to rerun and reformat my big giant data report because I made a mistake, which of course I did not see until I was finished. Nuts!!

      Best: IT IS FRIDAY AND WE HAVE A THREE-DAY WEEKEND \0/

    41. Sparkly Librarian

      Best: I met with my boss and several people from a partner agency to make an outreach plan for the specific demographic that hasn’t been attending the first sessions of my Super Project. They were insightful, eager to help, and immediately started writing down names of INDIVIDUALS they knew who fit the demographic and might be both interested and available. Like, a dozen in the first 5 minutes.

      Worst: This didn’t happen 3 months ago.

    42. Snork Maiden

      Best: my Christmas present finally showed up just in time for Valentine’s Day (it was out of stock since November!)
      Worst: It’s been a year of job searching (of various intensity). No interviews. Two very nice and polite rejections, otherwise just no acknowledgement at all. I’d like to get my side business going, but between health concerns, a full time job, and life, I’m having trouble getting anything accomplished towards that end.

    43. Kate Heightmeyer

      Best: I had a much better work week than I did last week.

      Worst: My car is overdue for an oil change that I can’t afford and one of the tires might be leaking. I’ve had to put air it in twice in three days. Fingers crossed that the second time was enough.

    44. Miles

      Best: I assembled my computer myself and it turned 8 this year. I managed to salvage a part that’s going to let it keep going for another two years from a computer my brother used to use.

      Worst: Someone I trust told me I’m too negative, & I believe it.

    45. GreenTeaPot

      Best: Seeing the results of my efforts to be better organized and manage my workload.

      Worst: A huge project is set to begin next week and I’m worried it will disrupt my new organizational practices. Plus, it’s been cold in my corner of the Midwest!

  2. Adele

    So I applied for the entry level job last week and received an invite very quickly for an interview next week. But after my acceptance of the interview, a new job opening was added for the next level up from the entry level job I applied. I do believe I’m qualified for the upper level job and am interested in it. Should I hope if they think I’m qualified they’ll put me in the upper level spot, or should I find a way to express my interest in that position? I’m not sure about sending in an additional application even for a different posting. Is that something I should just mention in my interview?

    1. College Career Counselor

      Apply formally for the second spot as well. Might have different hiring managers/different HR review people, so I wouldn’t count on the people in the first interview being involved in the second process.

      1. ScarletIntheLibrary

        Agree! In theory, the upper level job will have slightly different skills you need to highlight on application materials.

    2. Kenzie

      Also consider sending a short email to the HR Rep/Hiring manager that you have been working with. Briefly state that you noticed the other job and are interested in that as well and can/will submit a formal application.

      They cant know you would be interested in the other position if you don’t tell them.

    3. BRR

      I’m curious that if you applied for an entry-level job, would this be your first job? If yes, I wouldn’t apply to the next level up job. As a whole I would really consider what they want for the higher position and is it a stretch that you just meet what they want or is it a solid fit and you were at least a little over qualified for the entry-level position.

  3. straws

    I need help getting over having a “helicopter boss”. My boss isn’t truly a micromanager. He doesn’t tell me how to do my job, but he hovers. He asks for summary updates before I have the chance to collect the information, he’ll ask someone I’m working with for information about my projects because he happens to be talking to them (which I understand can happen, but this is constant). An example is an important, but not urgent or impactful, update my employee was doing at 5am the other morning. He finished, sent me an update at 5:30am. I would have then sent my boss a note at 7am when I started, except that he had already contacted my employee at 6:30 to get the details. It sounds small, but again, this is constant and I’m at the point where I don’t feel like I’ve been able to prove to him or myself that I’m actually capable of functioning in my role without him. I know that I am in theory, but he’s so on my toes & over my shoulder that I don’t have any concrete evidence to back it up. When I’ve tried to address it with him (both in the moment, shortly after, and in more general terms), he simply points out that he’s the boss and can be involved in whatever he wants. This all boils down to – I’ve come across a job that I’d really love to apply to. And I intend to. But it’s basically my same role at a different company, so I need to be able to portray myself as capable of doing it on my own. Is there any way I can display enough confidence in myself to operate as a single unit, when I have nothing to back this up? It’s been almost 10 years now, and it’s hard to even view myself outside of this specific role.

    1. cold here

      Displaying enough confidence is like acting. You believe in yourself and know you can do it, so channel that and display that. Your boss is inefficient at best. 10 years working under this boss has shaken your confidence. Your boss is bad news. Get away!! You’ve tried to address this with your boss and from what he says he is never going to change. So you have to change the situation. Look out for signs that the new company is bad, and try to screen for micromanaging, but with the economy picking up you should have options. DO IT!

      1. straws

        Thank you, I will do my best! I don’t want to under or over represent myself, but hopefully good interview process would weed that out anyway. There are many good things about my boss and job, but yes this particular behavior can be frustrating and inefficient!

    2. That other gal

      But it sounds like you’ve already done all you can with your current boss and that he doesn’t care. He does have the right to be involved and you have the right to desire a different management style.

      Apply to the new job. They won’t know that your boss is a helicopter boss unless you tell them. You can portray yourself as capable of doing it by answering the questions honestly about how you would be handling the situation (if you had more freedom). Wowsa 10 years is a long time. Get out and get your confidence back. And remember his hovering is his management style so unless you have had bad performance issues in the past (doesn’t sound like it), its all about his personality and not reflective of your actual abilities.

      1. straws

        Yes, he won’t be changing any time soon. This behavior can be frustrating, but it’s a trade off that I was ok with because of his other qualities, the company, the work I do, and my coworkers. All of which I love. I wouldn’t have stayed 10 years otherwise! I just have a hard time judging myself properly because of it. I love the idea to make it a “what if” question. I think that perspective switch will help a lot!

    3. Not So NewReader

      Your boss sounds like a very nervous person. Unless he wants to calm down, then not much will change.

      You give several different types of scenarios here.
      One, you or your employee have done the work. Boss comes into the story LATE and asks is the work done? Yeah, it was done a while ago, boss. These are the times you want to focus on, the work you got done in a timely manner before Worry Wart jumped in. Talk about how you had the work under control, the types of things you worked on, etc.

      The second type of situation you have here is the work is in progress and he asks others how you are doing. I would disregard this entirely. It’s normal for bosses to check around. (I know that your boss is not normal, but for your own peace of mind, let that go for a minute.) The thing to look at here is what do others tell him usually? If they are telling him that you are doing fine, this is something you can use. Your cohorts recognized your work, they knew you had things running smoothly.

      In the third example of him asking for the work before you even collected what was necessary to do the work, that one again is on Worry Wart Boss. Talk about how you collected up what you needed and you did the project. It sounds like boss had no idea of time frames, so this would mean that you had to explain and re-explain how long it took to do something and WHY. For this part here, talk about how you kept the boss appraised of time frames.

      It’s actually harder to work this way, than it is to be left to your own devices. With this type of boss, you have no private space inside your head for your own thinking. The boss is constantly in your brain with, “What is this, where is that?” Your own continuity of thought is shattered.

      So take back your own continuity of thought and that will help you to sound articulate which in turn will display knowledge/confidence. Learn to tell your stories about your job focused on what YOU did, and why YOU did it. This will be hard at first, practice in front of the mirror telling simpler stories of something you did. Tell the story without mentioning that Worry Wart, Puppy of a boss you have. This means talking about your own thought process and your own actions. Sure, it’s fine to say Boss was concerned about X. Then just say what you did to answer his concern. “I did a, b and c. Everything turned out fine.”

      People who are worry warts tend to wear down the people around them. Think of a parent that worries about every. little. thing. Usually they raise nervous kids that have a hard time making decisions. Your boss’ chronic worrying has clouded your own perspective, which is pretty normal in these situations. Take as much of the boss’ actions and words out of your stories as you can. Focus on your own thoughts and your own actions.

  4. LegoMyEggo

    I’ve drifted out of touch with my references (yes, I know that’s bad, I’m trying to revise my ways for future success), and am now starting up the job search. Any tips on how to reach to my references again after over a year and say ‘Hey, you still up for saying good things about me?’

    1. TCO

      Don’t overthink it–being out of touch for a while isn’t really a big deal to most references. Just drop them a note, wish them well, and provide a brief update on your career.

    2. danr

      Yes, do just that. Send them an email letting them know that your job search is active and confirm that they are ready for the “onslaught” of reference queries. … adjust this as needed for the personality of the reference.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      It’s essentially “Hey, you still up for saying good things about me?” You might want to phrase it a little differently:

      “Hi. I hope things are going well. I just wanted to let you know I’ve started up my job search again, and I’d like to keep you as a reference if you’d still like to be one for me. Also, I think these are your preferred methods of contact [list contact information]. Please let me know if you have any correction. Thanks!”

      Depending on what terms you were on with them or what their personalities are, you may want to throw in more or take out more pleasantries.

      1. Artemesia

        And if they say yes, then be sure to send them your resume and a summary update on your wonderfulness since it has been awhile. If you did some amazing project for them mention it; they may have vague fuzzy feelings about you but no distinct memory of what or why. You want them to sound confident and specific if called.

    4. TootsNYC

      I’m a reference for people. I give VERY good reference.

      I don’t care about whether they’ve been in touch. I know what I want to say about them, and I’ll say it whenever.

      If I’ve agreed to be a reference, it’s because I think they’re good, AND because I wish them well. Neither of those things are contingent upon your being in contact with me.

      Just be friendly, brief, and moderately grateful (i.e., say “thank you,” but don’t over do it),

      1. Not So NewReader

        Echoing this, people that I think warmly of, or people that I respected their work efforts stay that way. It does not change just because the person has dropped off the my immediate radar. Try to keep that in mind, that they have not grown mad at you for some mysterious, unknown reason. No, they still like you and your work. I am happy to hear from these people and happy to help them.

  5. GigglyPuff

    I’m thinking about applying for a scholarship to a multi-day workshop. It asks for a “brief essay” saying how this will help with my career.

    What do other people consider a “brief essay”?

    I’m thinking maybe cover letter length?

    1. Winter is Coming

      That’s a nice vague guideline!! I would assume by brief they mean 1-2 pages? Is there someone you can ask?

    2. Lillian McGee

      Yeah, something you can print on one side of an 8.5 x 11″ and read comfortably. Maybe slightly longer than a cover letter.

    3. College Career Counselor

      I’d shoot for between a half-page and a page, single spaced (maybe 300-500 words?). I know when I’m reading proposals or application essays, I don’t want read pages and pages. And I work in higher education, so students have sometimes been trained to be VERY wordy.

      My advice is to make your point(s) about the value of this experience to your career, what you specifically hope to do with the information/training/new skills immediately and in the future and be done with it. In other words, BBC (brief but compelling) is the approach. Interested to see if others have different advice. Good luck!

    4. super anon

      As someone who administers scholarships that require an intent statement, I’m surprised they didn’t put a word limit on it. I had to on mine after I received a 10 page, single spaced statement on my first ever scholarship go round. The adjudication committee was not very happy with me.

      I’d considered brief to be about a page – definitely no more than 1000 words, but I’d try to keep it to 500-750 for good measure.

    5. NotherName

      As a former writing instructor, I’d go with a brief version of the 5-paragraph theme. One paragraph intro, three main points (this does not need to be three paragraphs unless it needs to be), and a conclusion.

      Hey, there’s a reason that the five-paragraph theme is a standard part of Composition classes!

  6. HR question

    Can some HR gurus tell me some basics/important stuff for accommodation for an employee requesting fmla? I know it seems general… Maybe some helpful resources

    Employee has put in notice for a request but we’re waiting on forms from their doctor to get back but they’re really performing very poorly right now and leaving a lot to go home sick or to the dr

    1. Carolina

      +1 for that request. I have a woman that I began managing last year and I could see right away I had a problem- in fact, the old manager verified this but did not provide that feedback to the employee. I eased into the situation it by observing and starting by providing informal feedback and when that didn’t work, began a more formal process which is now coinciding with FMLA.

    2. brandy

      What’s the question here? It sounds like the employee is doing the right thing by recognizing the need to take time (paid or unpaid) off and do NO work, rather than to try and perform well and be sick at the same time.

      Is your question about how to administer FMLA? how to approve it? Once you have the doctor’s note/forms in, you should make sure the employee is clear on what part of the leave is paid or unpaid, if there is a set return to work date (and if not, how to set it), and perhaps have the employee and his/her manager establish a routine check-in. Note that if employee is going to be collecting short term disability, s/he cannot work. at all.

        1. brandy

          in my experience you are talking about a matter of days to get medical notes in place- I have been in this spot before (though in my case the employee was weeks away from going out on mat leave) and HR advised to wait until return to begin any performance conversations.

          If employee is looking for intermittent FMLA (eg a day a week or whatever) rather than being out for a prolonged period, then it’s a great time to have a conversation about performance expectations while assuring them that the FMLA protections are still in place. “here is what you need to be working toward, and yes, we understand that you will have intermittent FMLA leave”

    3. fposte

      Remember that retroactive FMLA is legally possible, too. I’ll put a link in a followup, but I think it might make more sense to consider it all FMLA rather than just “leaving a lot.”

        1. HR question

          I guess I’m asking is there any thing we can do about their performance issues after they turned in notice for intent to take leave but before we receive paperwork from their doctor and before they take leave. They are really just not performing well at all and we are struggling as a whole BC of their recent low performance (past month or so)

          Also I’m not in HR and it’s a small company if that helps

          1. fposte

            You can ask her to be more careful or refill the paper or meet the deadlines or whatever, but you’ve got somebody with health problems bad enough to take FMLA here. She has to have been there for at least a year, so if you’re only bringing up bigger issues or consequences now, it’s going to look really suspiciously like it’s related to her illness and FMLA, which would be big-time illegal.

            And you can also look into bringing in a temp or increasing somebody else’s hours, since you may need to do that while she’s out anyway.

          2. AnonAcademic

            Why not have a discussion as if they’re already on FMLA (since it can be applied retroactively and it seems to be a foregone conclusion that it will be approved) and reset expectations now? E.g. find out from them how much time off do they anticipate needing, how much notice will they be able to provide you, etc. Then you communicate what duties are essential for them to complete to keep their job and which ones you can be flexible about or delegate to others.

            Other more legally informed types can probably tell you whether this needs to be in writing in the event that even with FMLA the employee is not meeting minimum performance standards and needs to be let go.

            1. HR question

              Yes we are big enough but still a small company. We are just concerned because it’s like this person is not pulling their weight and they’re not on medical leave yet

          3. Ann Cognito

            You say you’re a small company, so I’m assuming you’re large enough to be covered by FMLA?

            Generally, if there haven’t been any discussions with her before now about performance, I don’t think it’s a good idea to start now just when she’s let you know that she needs a FMLA leave. You’ll also need to tread carefully once she returns from her leave, so that it doesn’t look like you’re suddenly talking about performance for the first time ever, potentially looking like you’re retaliating against her for her having taken a leave. This doesn’t mean that you can’t talk with her/take action if there are performance issues, just that you need to be careful if there haven’t been any prior conversations.

            If there have already been some/any conversations with her about performance issues, you tell her that obviously while she’s on her leave of absence you won’t be discussing work with her, but once she returns, the performance issues you’ve been talking to her about will continue to be addressed. We had that situation in the past, and told the employee as well as putting it into her FMLA confirmation letter (on the advice of our attorney).

            Because it’s FMLA, tread carefully and consider consulting your attorney.

            1. HR question

              Oops meant to reply to you and not above

              Yes we are big enough but still a small company of less than 100. We are just concerned because it’s like this person is not pulling their weight and they’re not on medical leave yet. are they still protected from not fulfilling their job duties until the paperwork goes through is what I was trying to ask but I think I got my answer

              1. Observer

                You need to reset your expectations. The question is whether they are protected from retaliation for getting sick or asking for leave. The former – maybe. The latter? Absolutely. The fact that you have not said anything till now puts you in a very bad spot, from that point of view. Also, it sounds like you consider going home sick or to the doctor itself to be “not pulling her weight”. That is almost certainly protected. Figure out what you need to do to cover the time she will be out.

              2. Ann Cognito

                You said the problems started a month ago. Since she’s FMLA-eligible, that means she’s been there at least 12 months, so it sounds like the bad performance is recent. Maybe she (or a family member) has just been diagnosed with some serious illness and she’s attempting to deal with that right now. She may be fine once she returns from her leave. But this is a good example of why it’s so important to speak with an employee as soon as you notice problems! She might have given some indication that there was something serious going-on, and you could have dealt with it then appropriately, or she might not have said anything but you would have had the conversation.

  7. The Alias That Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

    I’m often told to seek advice/help from the career center at the college I attended. I’m wonder what your career centers do or how they’ve helped you at all. Mine offers resume review (did that, didn’t have much advice to offer), group career counseling (did that also, that did not help at all), a job board (99% of jobs are in the city the college is located in, not where I am), and occasional speaking events that alumni are invited to (again, not local, can’t take advantage of). Is there some awesome thing that others are doing that I’m missing out on?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      I used to work at a career center for a top university in a major metropolitan area. For alumni, we offered a ton of stuff! Resume and cover letter reviews, 30-minute 1-on-1 career counseling that could cover a wide variety of topics, practice interviews, alumni-specific career-oriented webinars, access to most of our regular career workshops (plus alumni-specific workshops on networking and “elevator pitches,” ugh hate that phrase), and access to our job board (most posts were for the city the university was located in, but not all).

    2. College Career Counselor

      Your career center may also be the source for networking with other alumni. Sometimes they will run their own networking database, or they’ll approve you for the alumni linkedin group. Sometimes they have to be the ones to refer/approve you to the alumni database.

      Other career centers sometimes maintain files of reference letters for graduate/professional school (although this is changing) and others will offer 1:1 counseling/advice presumably tailored to your situation. Others will sometimes offer access to career interest/aptitude inventories (which can be useful for giving direction/clarity, especially if you don’t know what you want to do or are changing careers), although that and the counseling is sometimes fee-based, particularly if you graduated a while ago.

      Whether or not these are awesome is often dictated by how good the person providing them is, of course, as well as what your expectations are going in. Most career centers are not a placement service, especially for areas outside their geographic region/reach. It can be helpful to define what you want (I’m looking for alumni contacts in X in location Z–can you help me locate/contact them?) to maximize the value. I know that one of the things that many grads appreciated was a recommendation/suggestion to reach out to particular alumni (many of us know a lot of people in a lot of fields) for informational interviewing/networking, as well as assistance in crafting that request.

      1. The Alias That Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

        We have a contact database that’s online as part of our alumni website. But other than your name and the year you graduated, everything is self reporting. I can search for people in my state, but I have no idea what industry someone works in, what their major was, or even what city or town they live in. I don’t even have a means of contacting anyone.

    3. KR

      I agree that most career centers are very focused on local events and leads. I live an hour away from where my alma mater is, drove an hour to get there every day in college. After a few years of that, I’m not willing to drive an hour for work every day.

      1. The Alias That Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

        Mine is nearly 800 miles away (I was an online student) so yeah, that wouldn’t work. :)

    4. brandy

      interesting,…i have been on my college’s list of “alumni willing to actively network with students/grads, do resume review, do informal interviews, whatever” for going on a decade and have never been contacted. I’m in a fairly hot field in a high profile role, so if I were a college kid looking to go into where I am, I’d be a very attractive contact to make.

      I don’t know if this is because college doesn’t market the list, or ugrads just don’t use it.

      1. The Alias That Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

        What’s odd is that my school asks right on their Career Development page for alumni who want to become a coach. And that’s not an option the center provides. They do group career counseling, but that’s done by an employee of the college, not by alumni.

      2. College Career Counselor

        Based on my observations, it’s because undergrads don’t use it. They’re uneasy about making contact with people they don’t know, especially if they don’t have a specific application coming up for that field/job.

      3. hermit crab

        Interesting! I’m on that list with my undergrad institution, and I get contacted a lot — a handful of times each year. But it’s a small school and I’m in a niche field, so that might have something to do with it.

      1. The Alias That Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

        That is not something I had considered. Or ever heard of!

  8. The Little Prince(ess)

    I would love to hear stories from people who relocated cross-country for a job.

    S.O. and I have an opportunity to do this, going from a winter climate to south Florida, where we have some family and some familiarity with the area.

    Would love any stories, advice, thoughts.

    1. regina phalange

      I’ve done this twice, alone both times, and didn’t regret it either time. First time was admittedly easier because I was moving to a city where I already knew people. Second time, I moved to a new city where I knew zero people. I was lucky because I have made some great friends at this job. Also, since I did this alone, I had to be okay with going out places myself and have met some of my best friends, randomly, doing that. Meet up groups exist everywhere, so that is something to also try. I have found when people find out you are new to the area, they will offer up suggestions of places to go and check out, and that spirals into meeting people, finding new places, etc. You are already in a great position if you have family in the area and are familiar with it. My advice is to go for it!!! Good luck!!

    2. The Alias That Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

      I have a friend that did this. Moved from Chicago to near Ft Lauderdale. Her husband’s company had a merger, his location was closing, but they had offices in FL so off they went. They’ve been there a couple of years and are happy. I don’t think they have any family there but I’m not positive.

      I, on the other hand, moved 500 miles from one winter climate to another and have regretted it every day since!

    3. MKT

      My husband and I moved from Southern California to a small college town in Kansas and then last year moved from the small college town to Kansas City. We’ve loved it. Not just the Kansas part(which is ok, but winter is so. very. long.) but the living somewhere new and different!
      I will say the only downside we’ve found is that it’s really hard to make new friends, but I think that’s due in part to the industries we each work in(banking tech for him and construction for me).
      Outside of that, remember, if you ever want to go back to the place you’re from, you’re only a plane ride away. I say that because we’ve had friends from back home tell us things like, “Oh we could never do what you guys did, it’s so far away from family and friends” to which we say: “It’s a 4 hour plane ride, it’s not a big deal” and it truly isn’t if you don’t make it into a big deal.

      Make sure you and your SO have a steady relationship & friendship, because for the near future, you two will be the only friends you will have to hang out with.
      Rent, don’t buy. You’ll learn in a year or two where traffic piles up and where your favorite grocery stores are.
      Have fun! Do it. I have zero regrets about moving away from our home state and we’re planning to make a big move again in 2 to 3 years!

      1. regina phalange

        I did the opposite – moved from the Midwest to Southern California and I don’t think I could ever go back to winter now!

      2. The Little Prince(ess)

        We are very tight, so that’s not an issue. Just… the whole thing seems a bit overwhelming, although change doesn’t normally bother me.

        1. regina phalange

          I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I was for move #2. I was moving from a city where I had a solid group of friends and an apartment I loved to a city where I knew no one, to an apartment I hadn’t seen and a roommate I’d never met. The first six weeks or so were very, very hard. But then I started meeting people and it got easier and easier. At least you’re doing it with someone – that should help ease the transition!

        2. MKT

          It is super overwhelming!
          Like, finding a new place in your current city? No problem, right? You know the streets to stay away from, ect.
          Finding a new place in a city you vaguely(or not at all) know? Insurmountable. Just pick 5 that look nice, close your eyes, point and hope for the best. Sign a 6 month or 1 year lease. It’s temporary, anyone can survive temporary.
          Finding your way from home to the grocery store(or Target) and back? May be cause for tears to be shed. Charge your phone, use that GPS like it’s your BFF.
          Don’t even get me started on changing drivers licenses and license plates. That can wait 3 to 6 months, trust me, I’ve done this, they do not care when you actually moved to their state. Just wait until you feel more sane.

          It’s totally overwhelming. It will BE overwhelming off and on for months. It also has the potential to be the best thing you’ll ever do :)

    4. cold here

      I’ve done this following my S.O. who got a new job somewhere else. My S.O. can pretty much live anywhere, he is not picky. I on the other hand… I’m not quite so easy going. Some things are easy to research, even before arriving, like weather, how big the city is, what public transit options there are, what car commutes are like, demographics of people living there, etc. But other things are more difficult. As someone on the pickier side, I’ve decided that finding the right city/place is sort of like finding a S.O. Some places are good places, but they just aren’t the right place for me.

      Having some family and familiarity goes a long way! I moved a lot as a kid so when I compare moving now it is all gravy. You mean I’m not an awkward middle schooler and I have some money and I get to meet a whole new city of people? Good!

    5. The Little Prince(ess)

      …and lest anyone think this isn’t work-related… we would be moving so S.O. could take a new job, and I would look for one after we settle in.

      1. The Little Prince(ess)

        Ooh, I have company! I guess it’s natural to be trepidatious. I know we just have to take this step by step.

    6. Not Karen

      Grew up in Massachusetts, went to graduate school in Montreal, moved to Minnesota for 3 years, now in Michigan.

      Frankly I’m not sure what the question is?? Apparently I’m more adventurous when it comes to moving than most people, but for me there was never a reason NOT to move cross-country. My advice is do not let fear stop you from having an experience.

        1. Not Karen

          Haha I’m thinking more like Malmö (Sweden). :) This last time was a toss-up between Michigan and Madison (WI).

      1. Nye

        I’m of the same mind. Frankly, I like moving every few years. It’s a great way to get to know different areas. (Me: New England -> Southeast -> New England -> New Zealand -> Midwest -> California -> Mideast, though I’m including moves for school so not as job -hoppy as it looks! Hoping to move again in a few years.)

        For me, moving periodically keeps everyday life from feeling too routine. Even grocery shopping can be kind of an adventure in a new place. I think it helps tremendously to be single, childless, and not too attached to large or heavy possessions like furniture or tons of books.

        I think it also helps to think of every move as temporary (even if you don’t plan it to be). Put time into exploring an area, figuring out it’s good qualities, and enjoying them while you can. After all, you may not love where you live, but the next place might not have delicious fried sauerkraut balls so better go out and enjoy them while you’re here.

    7. TowerofJoy

      Have done it a few times. It has generally been pretty painless. The best story I have is a horror story though. A few years back my SO and I moved cross country for a job. There had been some back and forth over the salary as the position paid X and hiring manager wanted to pay X but the HR managers insisted SO only deserved X-20K. They finally worked it out for X. SO signed contract and we moved, only to find out once we had moved that first paycheck reflected X-20K. Having not found a job myself and the move being costly you can imagine how awful it was. It came out later that HR switched contract at the last second without telling anyone, and since SO had already reviewed it the day before assumed it was the same when signed. 20K at the time was a lot of money when only one of us was employed and the move had been so expensive. They fixed it eventually because the hiring manager was furious and true to their word but there would have been no real recourse we could have taken that wouldn’t have been lengthy, costly, and potentially endangered SO’s job and references in the long run.

      TL;DR: review that offer/contract many times. Make sure that the last version you sign is exactly what you agreed upon. There’s a lot more at stake when you move long distance.

    8. squids

      Moved by myself to a place where I knew absolutely no one, a few years back. It was wonderful and I’m hoping to stay here long-term!
      I was lucky with how I landed: rented rooms with someone my age who worked at a different department in the same organization for a while, which helped a lot with meeting the first few new friends. It was not so much stressful as exciting. Also, I was glad to leave behind the city & job I had previously; I might have felt a lot different if it was harder to leave.

    9. Packers Fan

      My husband and I recently moved to Oregon from Wisconsin for his job. We have family in Oregon but not much of a support system outside of them. I very much like the no winter part but my biggest piece of advice is to find a job or place to volunteer if you’re still looking once you move. Family is great but is nice to have support in the area. I just landed a job in the area (was previously working remote) and in the first few weeks of working I’m already much happier with our decision and the area.

      Also, see if your S.O. Can get moving costs covered or at least assistance. Our move was so much easier and less stressful because we didn’t have to drive a U-Haul with all our belongings.

      1. The Little Prince(ess)

        I definitely want to start job hunting as soon as we get settled. In the process of creating new/better materials with that in mind.

    10. AnonAcademic

      My husband and I moved from NYC area to SF Bay area 6 months ago so I could take a job. There were many terrifying aspects including him getting laid off a few months before the move, CA jobs having zero interest him as a non-local candidate, me finishing grad school, the very high cost of the move (10K or so when all was said and done), high COL in our new area on a single income for the first few months until he thankfully found a job…and yet it has been such a great adventure! It is so beautiful here, the weather is everything promised, and we’re finally starting to build friendships. I did a ton of research before moving which helped us pick a good location to live in and be strategic about apartment hunting and such.

      Having moved 3 times with my SO at this point my advice is to remember that moving is one of the most disruptive life events and it’s normal for it to strain a relationship. Every move we’ve had some breaking point where I want to smother my husband with a pillow ;). And every time we’ve both survived the process and in the long run been happy we made the choice.

    11. overeducated and underemployed

      I haven’t moved cross-country, just within a region, but something I found helpful to hear when adjusting after a previous move was that “moving is like pregnancy – it takes 9 months to get to through the process, the first few months you feel weird and sick, then things start to get better, and toward the end you stop comparing to how you felt before because you’re busy looking forward.” Making a new home takes a while, and knowing the adjustment process takes longer than unpacking has helped me get through.

    12. BeeBee

      I did this recently. S.O and I packed up and moved half-way across the country, where we knew only one person (I had a job lined up already). I’m still getting used to the area (I’ve been here for two and half months), but am looking at the whole thing is an adventure and am trying to make the most out of it. The first few weeks were challenging and lonely. But we survived :)
      I hope everything goes well and you love the new place!

    13. Clever Name

      We moved from TX to CO for my husband’s work 9 years ago. My #1 piece of advice is to find out what the company will pay for and use those benefits! It made our move go much more smoothly. We had a relocation coordinator, and it was a godsend. Especially when I discovered that our flight was cancelled (literally as our cars were being loaded onto the moving truck and we were about to take a taxi to the airport with our newborn and 2 cats). I called our move coordinator and they got us a hotel and arranged for new tickets, which would have been a beast to do on my own since DIA was closed for 4 days due to a massive blizzard.

      My other piece of advice is if you intend to buy in your new area, rent something for at least 6 months to a year. That way you can get a feel for neighborhoods and the housing market. We bought our last house in a hurry because our stay in the corporate apartment was ending and we needed a place to live. While the house was fine, I know we would have made a different choice if we had more time and had done more research.

    14. Honeybee

      I moved from New York to Seattle for a job back in August. I went the opposite way – Seattle has a milder climate, but I had family and friends in New York and moved to Seattle where I knew no one.

      Still don’t regret it. My new job is fantastic, and the pay and benefits are great. Plus I’ve made friends here relatively quickly – but I’m relatively outgoing, and I like to put myself out there. I joined some meetup groups and started going to events in the area and volunteering – that’s how I met people. And also I’ve gotten along great with my coworkers as well. Plus I still maintain connections with my friends back in New York and along the East Coast through Google Hangouts, text messaging, etc. I have a close-knit group of New Yorker friends I’m planning a trip with this summer and some of them are flying out here in the summer to stay with me for a weekend.

    15. Not So NewReader

      Better weather, family, familiarity, sounds like you will have a soft landing here.

      I moved 200 miles to be with the man I was going to marry. The one thing that struck me about the whole move was my worry diminished when I figured out how I would move back if I had to move back.

      Different things for different people. But it may help you to GO, if you know you have a plan to get back to where you are now, if things go badly. This could be as simple as having a bank account with money for your return trip. And you both agree not to spend that money no matter what happens, so that you can come back to where you are now if you need to do that. It does not have to be an elaborate plan, just an escape hatch.

    16. Treena

      In the process of the 4th move in 4 years, 1 cross-country and 2 international. Best decisions of our lives. But that’s because my SO and I actively want to move around and live in a bunch of places.

      Nothing can compare to living somewhere new and reinventing what you want your life to look like. It can be as simple as the cold to warm, or what kind of home/neighborhood you live in. You mention fear of unknown, but try to think whether or not you’ll regret passing up the opportunity. What would you gain by staying other than familiarity? What could you imagine your life like if you go? Think about that stuff and you’ll get closer to a decision.

  9. Folklorist

    It’s been a while (I keep putting it off)…but…ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! Go do something you’ve been putting off, and then come back here and brag about it. You’ll feel better, I promise. ;-)

    1. AVP

      I read this and was like, “But I’m not procrastinating on anything…oh wait yes I am!”

      I have duly sent rejection emails out to two intern candidates that I know I’m not going to hire for this summer. Thank you for the reminder.

    2. WorkingFromCafeInCA

      Eeek! This is a surprise attack in my coffee+FOT reading time, but I’m in! Back in a bit… thanks for the nudge!

    3. NJ Anon

      I actually got some stuff done today that I had been putting off. Have a meeting at 3 and might leave early to reward myself!

    4. Weekday Warrior

      Thanks! I finished editing meeting minutes that others will appreciate receiving and help me get on some important actions. Don’t know why minutes make me procrastinate… wait, I really do.

    5. literateliz

      Thank you, I needed this!

      I emailed a freelancer about doing a fact-check on a children’s nonfiction book. When I put it that way, I’m like… okay, my job is awesome, why DID I procrastinate on that? But this week has been a slog and I feel dead on my feet.

      Onward!

      1. Folklorist

        I have one of those jobs too! (Awesome writing/publishing job that I love but sometimes take for granted.) Currently procrastinating on writing up questions for a phone interview with an eminent engineer. Going to take my own advice and go do it!

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      This is genius! I cranked through putting together a timeline/workplan for developing a training I’m co-facilitating in May. Thanks for the nudge!

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Like, for real. I need this to happen randomly in my life. Not every day, because then I’d expect it, but actually at random intervals.

        1. Folklorist

          Actually, it happened in an Open Thread last year–I’ll see if I can find it and post it in a reply–when someone wrote a comment about how stuck they were in a doom loop of procrastination. I had been feeling the exact same way that day, and started complaining in a response. And then, mid-response, I just thought, “Why am I just bitching about this? What can we do to solve this instead of just complaining? I know–let’s disrupt this horrible cycle RIGHT NOW and go do something, then come back and reward ourselves by bragging about it!”

          So then I started doing an anti-procrastination post (most) every week. Like I said, though, I forget about it sometimes. I’m sure that there are more informed schools of thought that talk about why it works, but that was how I started the posts! Feel free to provide other links!

            1. Folklorist

              Thanks! And now I’ve been putting off interview prep while feeling proud about Being Inspiring on the Internet. Time to go get something actually done. :-)

    7. Accountant

      I sent an email to my scary new boss. Its a minor issue, and I almost had a heart attack clicking “send”, but its done.

    8. EngineerGirl

      THANK YOU! I really needed a good kick (start) in the bum. I just took a break and came up with a really good idea for a design project that I had to think up for a microfabrication class in school. A sock with a network of micro pressure sensors in the bottom to help remind people when their gaits are getting lazy (stuff that could lead to dropping hips and painful bursitis later on). Anyway I’m pretty proud of the idea and grateful to you for making me take a walk and think when I just wanted to sit and read :-)

      1. Folklorist

        Aww, glad I could help! And if it turns into something cool, let me know…I work for an engineering magazine and write about stuff like this!

    9. LabTech

      Yes! Perfect timing! My being behind on typically low-priority record-keeping became an issue when I was out sick earlier this week, so I spent a good chunk of the day getting caught-up. Finished most of the entries from last month, and waiting on a co-worker to fill out another record before doing the rest – so done for the day, pretty much!

      Finally cleared out all the old stock solutions that we’ve had sitting around for years and were crowding up the lab, and worked with my coworker to fill out the paperwork so our chemical waste disposal can pick it up. Also ordered new stocks and currently making copies of raw data files. Everything that I’ve been putting off I’m getting (mostly) done in one fell swoop! Feeling good about today.

    10. Raia

      Vacuumed, tidied the downloads folder on my computer, and tomorrow will be vacuuming the car! Nothing like cleaning to avoid studying.

  10. Blue Anne

    I think I’ve mentioned here before that I’m an American expat in the UK. My life has recently exploded* and I’m moving back. I don’t intend to go back to the same town I grew up in – probably a few hundred miles away.

    I’m giving myself a couple months to sort everything out and move, so I probably won’t be back in the States until early May. Does it make any sense at all to start applying for jobs? It’s driving me nuts to not be working on finding a job.

    *Essentially, I left my Big 4 job for a much smaller firm, for the sake of my sanity. Smaller firm can’t get me a work visa which was fine because I’m married to a Brit. But then my husband split with me. Marriage visa was due to be renewed on 8th February, so I had to scramble to put in a different type of application or leave the country with about a week’s notice. The application will be rejected but I’m going to withdraw it and leave before then. No other options and new firm can’t get me a visa. By do they feel bad for me right now.

      1. Blue Anne

        Oh god, the dog is a whole other part of the story. My husband asked me to look up all the stuff on training the dog (particularly crate training) then didn’t listen/read any of it, got very angry that the dog was not being trained (no consistency between us!), and blamed it on me. He got so frustrated and angry that he said he wanted to push the dog into traffic. Then we returned the dog to the breeder before he did anything stupid.

        I feel so bad for that dog. I’m so glad it wasn’t a kid.

        My husband said it made him realize he didn’t want to have kids with me. It made me realize that he should not have kids, period. (However, he’s only ruling them out with me. Not entirely, just me. Because I’m irresponsible and no fun any more, apparently.) (Bitter? Me? JUST A LITTLE.)

          1. Blue Anne

            Ohhhhh yeah. The stories…

            He’s turning 30 at the end of March. I was organizing his party. I am no longer organizing his party. He is… unhappy about this.

            1. C Average

              Ugggggghhhh. In your shoes, I would feel a strong temptation to organize a very special party for him . . . perhaps at the UK equivalent of Chuck E. Cheese, if there’s such a thing. I would hire clowns. And maybe someone with bagpipes. The menu would contain, oh, maybe fruitcake and tripe.

              I am so sorry you’re dealing with all this. It sounds really difficult. I hope the return to the States goes smoothly.

              1. Leslie Knope's Waffle

                I love this idea! Chuck E. Cheese is my personal version of h-e-double hockey sticks. A very special party indeed for a man who sounds like he has the maturity of a toddler.

                (On another note – what genius thought it would be a good idea to have a MOUSE as a mascot at an eating establishment? Gross. Why not give Chuck E. a cockroach as a sidekick? Ick.)

                On a serious note, sending happy, positive, good vibes to you Anne – I know it probably doesn’t feel this way right now, but you’re better off. Good things are coming your way.

        1. Ms. Didymus

          He…wanted to push a dog into traffic? And he thinks he should have kids EVER?

          You’re better off without him, although I am sorry this is disrupting your life so much.

          1. Blue Anne

            Yup. I’m starting to realize that and it’s making me feel a lot happier than I have for a long time, which is great!

            It does make me worry about what happens if I ever get involved with someone who’s actually abusive rather than just a jerk, though. I pretty much believed him any time he said I was in the wrong/not a great person.

            1. Camellia

              Been there. He had me convinced that, whatever the issue, the only actual problem was that I was “choosing” to let it bother me. That pile of laundry that he left on the dining room floor for three weeks – I could just “choose not to get upset about it.” That is only one example from 22 years of marriage.

              Therapy, self-help books, and determination have prevailed!

            2. Elizabeth West

              :(
              I’m sorry, Blue Anne. *hug*

              I pretty much believed him any time he said I was in the wrong/not a great person.

              FWIW, that’s gaslighting and it IS abusive. So don’t worry, you already know what to look out for. As far as jobs, if you feel like you need to get moving over with first, it’s okay to take the time. It might be easier once you’re closer to coming back.

              1. Blue Anne

                I think part of the problem was he’s very involved in SJW circles and knows all the terminology and things like this. If I tried to defend myself or say he was wrong he would usually come back with “do you think I’m some sort of abusive asshole who would gaslight you? I wouldn’t say this to you unless it was true.”

                Meta-gaslighting. Made it pretty hard to figure anything out.

                1. So Very Anonymous

                  I’ve had this happen, too. Makes it really hard to see clearly what’s happening. Lots of good thoughts to you!

            3. Not So NewReader

              A couple things jump at me here.

              You do not have to figure out whether someone is abusive or a jerk. Either way the answer is the same, ditch ’em. So don’t waste time analyzing it, just cut to the chase on that one.

              If someone keeps pointing out that you are in the wrong or worse yet not a great person, either one is not normal in healthy relationships. Healthy relationships focus on what is right, each person lifts the other person UP as opposed to pulling them down. In the extreme example of saying you are not a great person, if he is correct then why is he with you? He should go get a great person. And that is when you say AH-HA! He CAN’T go get this so-called mythical great person, because he is a jerk/abuser. And your eyes open and you see clearly.

              Knowledge is power, Blue Anne, read up on the characteristics of healthy relationships and insist that future relationships have more of those characteristics. We start with our friendships. It is in our friendships that we start to learn how to pick a partner. So start by looking at your friendships/relationships around you. Start simple and work up.

        2. Monique

          Whereas someone threatening to push a dog into traffic is the epitome of hilarity and light-heartedness.

          I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this.

    1. CherryScary

      I”m so sorry to hear about your life explosion. :(
      Do you know anyone in that desired area that you could talk to about job opporunities? Might not quite be time to actively apply, but maybe you can do some networking work to give yourself a head start?

      1. Blue Anne

        I’ve been looking at job openings and many of the ones I’m interested in are being dealt with by a particular recruiter, so I got in touch and explained when I’d be back in the country and what I’m looking for. She said, quite reasonably, to get in touch when I was in a position to meet up.

        I don’t really know anyone else in the area; that’s part of the appeal, if I’m honest, but not great for networking.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      Sorry to hear about your life explosion :(

      I would say, for most industries, now is not too early to be looking for jobs for May. Just be clear in your cover letter that you’re moving back in May—the jobs will self-select out. If they say “No, that’s too late; we want to hire someone now,” they won’t even bother contacting you. If they say, “Blue Anne might be a good candidate to consider… I think we can look at other candidates, but May could work,” then they’ll call you.

      You have nothing to lose by applying now.

    3. Winter is Coming

      I’m so sorry! What an awful situation. From what you’ve written though, perhaps this will work out better for you in the long run. I second CherryScary’s recommendation to put some feelers out there. No harm in beginning the early stages of your search, May really isn’t that far off.

    4. GlamNonprofitSquirrel

      I’m so sorry, Blue Anne. You are handling this all with a much better sense of humor than I would (or you’re an excellent actor). I think it’s entirely acceptable to note to potential employers via cover letter that you’ll be relocating back to the U.S. (of which you are a citizen) in May 2016 and would be available for telephone or Skype interviews prior to your return. If I recall my (limited) experience with your industry well, I think that it’s typical to go through a few rounds of interviews prior to the “big meet”.

      Also, think seriously about transitioning over to a slightly different sector, perhaps something like CFO with a large nonprofit or medium size corporation. You have international expertise that will make you very attractive to certain NGOs, IMHO.

      And as the devoted mother of a rescue pooch, I’m so so sorry. At least puppy is back with the breeder and in good hands. Perhaps you can find a rescue pup once you get back to the U.S.? Best wishes!

      1. Blue Anne

        Thanks, I appreciate it. I would absolutely love to get myself a rescue pooch when I’m settled. I miss having a fuzzy buddy so much.

        Are there any particular sites you’d recommend for looking up that type of job? I’m definitely open to change right now.

        1. GlamNonprofitSquirrel

          The Chronicle of Philanthropy is a great place to start! The website is: https://philanthropy.com/jobs
          I also highly recommend checking out the website for your state’s nonprofit association. (In Michigan, it’s http://www.mnaonline.org.) There will likely be a statewide association for philanthropic organizations as well and they should have a jobs board. Depending on the region you end up in, there might also be a professional association (Association of Fundraising Professionals – local chapter for my world) that would be a good connection. Don’t omit looking at specific sectors where you have expertise and/or history (i.e. healthcare, insurance, environment). Hospital systems, insurance companies, banks and large real estate developers need creative, worldly staff members to keep them legal and liquid! (I’m the daughter of a retired commercial lender. I like talking money.) :)

          Hugs to you and your future pooch from me and my Maggie.

    5. Trill

      Are you available to interview (either phone/skype/in person)? If so, I’d say go ahead and send out some applications. Unless your field moves really quickly with hiring and this would seem weird, but I’d image if that was the case you wouldn’t be asking. If you explain your timing, you might find some companies who would be open to the same timeline, or may keep you in mind for opportunities they know will be coming open soon.

      I was in a very similar situation, minus the marriage breakup and a different country combination–but basically I had an expiring work visa and was returning to home country.
      I didn’t start looking for jobs until I got home, although I considered looking earlier. But I decided instead to spend a few months travelling, and since that travel included remote areas of South America and Africa with no internet or phone, I decided that I should wait until prospective employers could actually contact me before I applied for jobs. But if I hadn’t decided to do that, 3 months out is a timeline that I think makes sense to start looking–at least in my field.

      At the very least by starting to look now you’re getting yourself on people’s radar and maybe have a few conversations that help you learn about the job market in that area. If you get a job lined up out of it, great. If not you’ve still got some time.

      1. Blue Anne

        Thanks Trill, this all makes a lot of sense. I was thinking of going out to visit my granny in Ohio for a few weeks when I get back, but I assume they have working phones there. :)

    6. Laurel Gray

      Just chiming in to wish you good luck Blue Anne! You sound like you have a great spirit and won’t let these temporary set backs stop you from greatness. Come on back to the States, there’s a good job that needs your experience and a furry dog waiting for you! :)

    7. CoffeeLover

      Wow that’s terrible. I know nothing about your relationship, but I can’t stop myself from saying: what kind of jerk leaves someone they’re married to (and loved at some point at least) at such a critical time and completely screws them over?

      I also have a work question for you if you’re still following this post and wouldn’t mind answering. I also work for a Big 4 firm (in consulting) and am planning to move to my husband in Sweden soon. I’m going to try to get an offer from my firm there, but if that doesn’t work, I’ll reach out to the others. Do you have any advice around this? I’m new in my career and have never gotten a job without following the formal job application process. I’m wondering if I should just cold email partners and/or the recruiter and see where that takes me?

      1. Blue Anne

        I would say that no matter where you go, having worked for the Big 4 is going to open doors for you. If you can’t switch with your firm it would definitely be worth reaching out to the other 3 (if you’re up for staying in the Big 4), or getting in touch with a recruiter who works with consulting firms. It might take a little poking around on LinkedIn but I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

        I wouldn’t do it by cold emailing partners, though. It’s best to go through HR – or, better, there’s usually an experienced hires section under jobs/careers on firm’s websites.

    8. Nervous Accountant

      I have no advice on the work front, but I am truly sorry to hear about this. I’ve read some of your posts throughout the year. *hugz*

    9. JW

      Wow, that’s a double whammy right there! However, I think you are seeing the positive side of all this and will come out alright on the other side.

      You don’t mention how long you’ve been over in the UK or how often you go back, but you may want to brace yourself for a bit of reverse cultureshock to happen. The first time I moved to the UK (same situation as you – job couldn’t sponsor a visa, I fell out with the bf and had to come home), I had a rough “re-entry” period. It took a few weeks to readjust to the size and possibilities of everything :) You’ve got a LOT to process so make sure to give yourself some time and space if you start to feel overwhelmed.

    10. Granite

      I’m betting the reason the recruiter wanted to wait until you were back is because someone with Big 4 experience (assuming you managed to stick it out two years) is highly desirable and will be able to be placed easily. At least here in New England, there many, many accounting and auditing jobs that demand only Big 4 applicants. Frustrating to the likes of me, who not only isn’t big 4, but found a loophole to get my CPA without ever working in public. And I still get tons of recruiter calls and have a very high resume to interview rate. I’m not saying you’ll get your dream job right away, but supporting yourself should not be an issue.

    11. Observer

      All I can say is that as much as this stinks, you are overall better off. I read through the rest of the thread, and your ex is a real piece of work. I also hope he never finds the person he wants to have kids with, unless he changes hugely and dramatically.

  11. Fawn

    A junior member of our communications team keeps starting emails referring to the group she is emailing (including managers and senior academic counsellors) as kids. Normally, I’m pretty relaxed about informal communication – we work in student service and I think it helps us stay approachable. But…kids? It makes me cringe. Can/should I say anything to her? I’m slightly more senior but still a peer, and I work on another team.

        1. Sadsack

          Oh I see. Well, I’d probably gloss right over that goofy salutation, myself. But it might make her look unprofessional to people whose opinions matter.

          Honestly. I think if I were student being called kid, it may bother me more. She obviously knows that her coworkers are adults and won’t think that she actually thinks of them as kids. But if I were a college student I would want to be recognized as an adult, not s kid.

          1. Sadsack

            Hey, not that your opinion doesn’t matter! I just mean it may cause upper management to think twice about her professionalism.

        2. Ama

          Ugh this would have annoyed me so much. Maybe it’s because I worked in academic administration when I wasn’t much older than a typical grad student, but as an admin I was constantly dealing with people who wouldn’t take me seriously (either because they were those faculty that treat all admins like dirt or because I looked young and they assumed I was a student employee with no authority) . Being called “kids” by a coworker would have made me think that coworker belonged in that group.

          I think you’d be doing her a favor if you could point out to her that what she may see as a casual salutation could come off as dismissive and condescending to some people.

    1. Tattooine

      Can you reply with a joke? “If I’m a kid, then our students are zygotes.” Normally I’d say direct is better, but it might not be your place in the organization to do so.

      1. Pretend Scientist

        Could be appropriate, depending on on the department! Biology nerd here….when we were in college, my roommates and I would often declare “say no to zygotes”, often. And at [big research university], I worked a lot with virgin fruit flies and timing of embryos for imaging, so there would probably have been giggling.

    2. Natalie

      Ugh, one of my bosses does something similar – calls everyone kiddo. He’s got to be 5 years older than me, tops.

      One of my friends suggested I start calling him sonny-jim. I’m considering it…

    3. KR

      I would mention it to her in an informal context, say if you’re talking to her about something she emailed everyone about mention it kind of grates on you when she calls everyone kids in emails and see if she gets the hint. I’m totally stealing Alison’s wording here.

    4. Daisy Steiner

      Ugh, there’s someone at my work who does this, but only in speech. And it still gets on my nerves – particularly because she’s younger than me! Formalised in an email it would annoy me even more.

    5. Dr. Johnny Fever

      I think in this case, I would take the person aside and explain that using kids is more informal then professional since the team comprises adults, not students or children and ask that the person use “All”, “everyone”, or a team name.

      I’m sure this is grating more than one person in the group, and Junior ought to know how something so minor can cause conflict.

      Make sure you clarify that the feedback is meant for learning, not for performance, and you are not focusing on every little thing Junior does. Shaping those new to the workforce is tough, but it is possible to deliver the feedback in a compassionate an understanding way by noting the facts of the salutation and its reflection and not bringing up the emotions that could be prompted.

    6. Blue Anne

      Hm. Yeah, I don’t think that’s appropriate. I do address groups of my friends as “kids”, and then it’s kind of a joke in a specific situation, like cat-herding them from the bar to the movie or updating a bunch of people on a situation, and partly because some of my friends do jokingly call me Momma Anne. “Alright kids, here’s the sitch…”

      Not something I would do at work unless I really knew the dynamic. I’m not sure how I’d suggest addressing it, though. :/

    7. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I would say something casually if you can.

      She may not realize how it comes off.

    8. Silver

      I once referred to some coworkers as kids and had my friend ask me if I doubted their abilities. She suggested that infantilizing my coworkers was not a productive way to build a working relationship. That word left my vocabulary quick smart after that.
      If you know this person well enough perhaps a private heads up that this isn’t great might be worthwhile.

  12. FatBigot

    What would your perfect “pay for performance” scheme look like?

    It would need to:
    1. Reward individuals according to their performance.
    2. Give individuals certainty that their performance will be rewarded. “If you reduce chocolate teapot customer complaints by 20% without affecting production you will get a 5% rise”
    3. Give management certainty on the cost, so they can budget for raises.
    4. Be able to cope with emergencies, so not necessarily bound by the annual appraisal and objectives setting. “You did really well re-routing the chocolate flow when we had to recover from the fire at the chocolate refining plant”.
    5. Be able to reward teamwork: “The entire electrical department went above and beyond rewiring after the chocolate refining plant breakout and fire that took out all the SCADA wiring.”
    6. Not to be plagued by top of grade problems: “You are a great teapot caster, but the most we will pay for this job is £25,000. On good years you might get a cash lump sum, but from now on in this job your pay will only go up with the cost of living”.
    7. Not to grade on a curve, e.g. 5% superstar, 20% above & beyond, 50% normal, 20 % needs coaching, 5% special measures. While the whole organisation may fit that profile, individual managers will fight for their departments to get as much money as possible. Often the decisions are devolved all the way down to front line supervisors, who have to make their 5 reports fit the curve. So if I want to be a superstar, I have to make sure everyone is rated lower than me. Things get ugly fast; read mini-microsoft on how bad things can get with this type of scheme.
    8. Be seen to be fair across the whole organisation.
    9. Recognise when particular special skills make someone at risk of receiving a higher external offer. e.g someone has a nationally recognised qualification in the inspection of cast chocolate goods, and may be recruited by the Easter bunny to inspect their Easter egg production.
    10. Be auditable, so that in the case of a discrimination claim the reasons for the decisions are transparent.
    11. Be better than the normal “every department has x% for rises this year”.

    1. CoffeeLover

      There’s a lot of struggles with pay for performance and it’s a hard thing to pull off well. Picking what to reward to promote good behaviour can be difficult. It can lead to unwanted behaviour (i.e., hiding customer complaints in the example above) and it can be seen as unfair if the KPI is beyond your control (i.e., if you’re asked to sell 10% more but the market just crashed). There can also be disconnects as you go up the organization where your targets conflict with your managers targets for example. I can keep going, but the point is that pay for performance is so very difficult to implement effectively and there’s bound to be some learning as you go along.

  13. Hermione

    Any tips on mentoring work study students/undergraduate assistants who work for you?

    We have a team of them in my office, and honestly the job isn’t very challenge – it’s more about having a body in the chair to handle the phones/walk-in, make copies and sign for deliveries. There’s not much I can delegate to them either, so we let them do their homework, but I’d love ideas for helping them improve their skills or resources I can point them towards or just really any tips you may have.

    1. TCO

      I have great undergraduate student employees. Honestly, some of your staff might be perfectly happy with a low-stress job that allows time for homework. But if they want more growth, here’s some of the things we’ve used:
      1) Pay them to attend training (our university offers career trainings targeted at student workers).
      2) Let them shadow someone else’s job.
      3) Bring them along to help at or observe a special event/meeting.
      4) Encourage to read up on your industry (or AAM) during work hours.
      5) Tell them about what you’re working on, how you go about it, and what kinds of decisions you make.
      6) Is there really nothing that anyone in your office would like a student’s help with? Absolutely nothing at all? I encourage people to think about what they don’t have time to do, don’t like doing, or aren’t good at–and consider whether there’s a way to delegate some of those tasks.

      1. Lia

        These are all great suggestions. I work closely with student workers, and I am a big believer in getting them as involved in the department as I can. Even if they are proofreading a list, I tell them what it will be used for and the importance of their work. I also like to bring them to departmental meetings and events when I can; find ways for them to attend software training ( we have a lot of free ones); and encourage them any way I can.

        I especially cannot stress enough thanking them for their work and providing feedback. IOW, “Thank you, Terry, for your help with editing the documents — those will be used for the planning meetings next week where the department chairs are trying to evaluate XYZ”. That way nothing is done in a vacuum.

        1. TCO

          Great suggestions. I, too, like to give students context for their assignments and let them know that their work is valued and used. Even if they aren’t going to work in my field after graduation, understanding how our office runs helps them be prepared for future workplaces.

    2. Fawn

      Ooh former work study student here! I had a fantastic experience, and it actually set me on the path to working on student services. My managers often came to me looking for a student’s perspective on changes to administrative processes, and would ask me to submit brief reports. Just stuff like ease of use, missing information, etc. It made me feel like I was actually an asset to the office rather than a warm body. Is there anything like that you could try?

    3. Lillian McGee

      I had a student intern while I was also still kind of learning my new job. I think it was really valuable for both of us because as I was learning a task, I would explain to the intern what I was doing and why and how the higher-level concepts informing the task came into play (in this case accounting concepts). So it helped me work through some of the concepts I was just becoming familiar with and also helped him gain an understanding of how they applied practically to our agency.

    4. Anon for this

      If there are more than one person supervising the student workers, make sure everybody’s on the same page about what they need to be doing. This isn’t really a mentor thing, just something that still makes me annoyed when I think back on it. I was OK with them doing their homework during downtime, some of the other people in the office weren’t, and so I’d say it was OK, and then someone else would see them and chew them out. (I tried to communicate that it was OK, but this was just a deep-down philosophical difference and they didn’t care that I thought it was OK, and I didn’t have any clout over these folks.) I also ended up having to institute a “sign up to have a student worker help you” system so people could call dibs on blocks of time, because people would assume the student had time for their stuff and then get mad if they were doing another professor’s stuff.

    5. themmases

      I had an undergrad research assistantship that, although I didn’t know it at the time, set me up for my current career. I’m also currently a grad assistant.

      I think the single best thing anyone has done for me was to give me ownership over something– and let me *know* that I owned it. That something can be a database, a single Excel sheet, a project or presentation, whatever seems appropriate to the work and the student’s interests.

      For example, in my first full-time job as a research assistant I owned several department “databases” that were actually just huge case lists stored in Excel. One of my biggest learning opportunities was cleaning the data in those, reorganizing them to the way I thought they should be, and eventually using what I learned to help design studies. I’m about to defend my MS thesis in epidemiology now. :) Really the only thing that slowed me down was, for a while, I didn’t realize that I was the only one directly querying these databases so I held back from cleaning them. If there is anything a student could be trusted to try to improve, as long as they back up the original, that will be a great learning opportunity for a certain type of person. As a history major, doing this for a similar project was also the only way I came out of undergrad knowing how to use Excel. So there’s that.

      As a grad assistant, whenever I have worked a lot on something that will go into a presentation (e.g. at a status meeting about what we’re working on), my boss always offers to let me present at least part of it. If I wrote something, I also get to be the one to work it into a larger report. This time can be a really great opportunity for students to hone their professional writing or presenting skills with the net of your editing, and a receptive audience who sees mentoring students as part of their job. Since I was changing fields somewhat, it has also been really educational for me to just attend and take minutes at some of these meetings, or get to read the report I contributed a tiny bit to.

    6. Raia

      Former student worker – Ask them if they prefer to work on their own things for the time being, and if some are too bored they might have ideas about how they can plug in! Delegate a job you may not like and/or something that doesn’t have a tight deadline, so you can review it afterwards and make suggestions on improvement, what elements of it are important, etc. Also, is there a task that you know could be done more efficiently, doesn’t have policies or procedures around it but probably should, or is so obvious/has such strict policies and procedures that no one can screw it up? Something in the work world that is different than what is taught in classes?

  14. Tom from Iowa

    I work in an office where verbal disrespect, if not outright bullying, is tolerated and often encouraged.

    During the past year, I have been called a “b#tth#le”, a ” r#tard”, and a “d#ckhead”. When I calmly but assertively said that needed to stop, management and HR ignored told me to stop creating trouble.

    I have bills to pay and need this job. Am I being oversensitive when I complain? If not, who can I talk to besides HR and management?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      You’re not being oversensitive, but it also sounds as if that sort of environment (if HR doesn’t think it’s an issue) is “normal” at your workplace. Honestly, I wouldn’t expect HR and management to change things, given what you’ve said. I’d polish up my résumé and get out of there.

    2. cold here

      You are totally not being over sensitive. This is not normal workplace behavior. Sadly I think you have done what you can at this company. You need to talk to people outside the company, because you need to find a new job. The trick is not to be honest about the environment in your current workplace. Don’t quit, hide that you are looking, but leave once you have a new job. The economy is picking up, so hopefully you can find something!

      You don’t deserve being called those names. I feel for you.

    3. Jinx

      I definitely don’t think you’re being oversensitive. But if HR and management blame you for standing up to immature name-calling, it doesn’t sound like you have any other escalation options. :( Maybe you can pretend you are studying a bizarre alien species, like Alison has suggested in the past.

      Also, are your coworkers elementary school students? Because that’s the last place I remember those names being thrown around in a public setting.

    4. AdAgencyChick

      It’s bad enough to take verbal abuse in general, but the one I would really dig my heels in about is the “retard” comments. I used to use that word myself (NOT to yell at someone right in front of me!) until one of my colleagues had a daughter with Down’s and I started to realize who I was hurting.

      I wonder if, at least with THAT word, you can shame the person a little bit with a very calm, “Please don’t use that word. I have a cousin/sister/friend with Down’s and I hate hearing that word used that way.” Maybe you might reach your coworkers’ humanity if you make it about someone else rather than about yourself.

      Maybe, anyway. I have small hopes for people who are rude enough to call a colleague names like that.

    5. TootsNYC

      I don’t think there’s anyone you can turn to now.

      But you might be able to change how you react.

      Provide a negative or undesirable response every time they do this, and see if that makes them less likely to do so.

      But don’t get mad–that just makes them see they got to you.
      And you don’t want to be on their level.

      So I think your next step is the Ronald Reagan “There you go again” response.
      Be mildly amused at them, and just a little bit (LITTLE BIT) condescending and superior. Aren’t they amusing with their rude words.
      Smile slightly; incline your head a little; make your answer vague and turn away, keeping that slight smile on your face.

  15. Confused

    I’m confused about fixed term contracts (in the UK if that matters).

    The only stuff I can find online is about the employers responsibility. And according to that they don’t need to give notice if they plan on letting it end on the expected end date.

    Well when I was hired last July I was told I would be on probation via the temp agency then be on the company books and that they wanted someone permanent for the long term. After my probation with the agency they gave me a 3 month contract. To get through the end of the year. And then another one to get to the end of march while the new budget gets approved for the fiscal year. I find it all too stressful to worry about my job and frankly I can’t put my life on hold which I am doing right now because I’m scared to make plans for fear I won’t have a job later. I need to plan my honeymoon already but I’m worried it will be a wreck if I’m spending the whole time worrying about money/employment.

    If my company turns around and offers me another fixed term contract (the last one they gave to me literally the week of my other one ending) can I say no, I want to keep the original end date? Do I have to give a months notice for this because I know they won’t be telling me a month before what the new situation is! My contract would be ending with the end of the pay period so it wouldn’t be a big factor payment wise. Advice?

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Yes you can refuse to be on yet another contract when they ask.

      Did you get any handbooks when you started? Notice periods are in those but if you’re now employed by the co and not your agency, it’s likely to be 1 month’s notice – even though the co would probably only give you one!

      1. Confused

        Yeah my contract says to give them one months notice or that they need to give me two weeks. But I’m not sure if that applies when the contract is already scheduled to end.

        So if I’m scheduled to finish on the 31st and they advise me on the 25th (literally happened like this last time) that they were extending the contract. What would the recourse be? Would I need to work a months notice while not accepting the new contract so i’d be out of contract? Or would I just decline the new contract and end the employment.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      You do not need to give any notice that you do not intend to not renew your contract, you can just say no to an offer of a new contract.

      I would suggest talking to your boss in advance if they are reasonable, as they might be able to arrange a permanent job offer or at least start planning for you leaving, but that is optional and depends on you wanting to be helpful.

    3. FatBigot

      What does the contract actually say? If it has an end date then you can simply decline the next contract they offer.

      However, who is your current contract with? Is it with the agency? If so, they are likely to string you along as long as possible. To make you permanent on the client company’s books, that client will have to pay the agency’s fee, likely around your annual salary.

      If you actually have a contract directly with the client company for whom you actually work, it would be professional to say a month before the contract ends: “I cannot sustain this hand-to mouth existence. Unless I have a one-year contract 2 weeks before this one ends, I’m leaving.”

      What is the culture and financial situation of your client? Can you easily speak to the manager who will actually make the decision (Likely a level or 2 above your immediate supervisor)?

      Finally, please be aware that the fee the agency charges for your time is likely to be about twice your salary, to cover employment costs etc. Many are shocked when they find this out, but it is not too bad if you do the sums.

    4. Elkay

      I’m not really sure what your question is, you have a contract that ends in March, normally there’s a clause that says that it can be terminated with x days notice by you or y days notice by the company i.e. they can end the contract early. You’re concerned that they’re going to try to give you another fixed term contract that ends before the end of March?

      1. Confused

        I’m concerned that at the end of March they are going to try and give me another 3 month Fixed term contract which isn’t what I want. So my question is if at the end of this contract they want to offer me an extended new fixed term contract do I have to accept it? Do I need to give a notice period if there is already an end date or does it just end?

          1. Quirk

            I’m a UK contractor.

            A contract is a business arrangement. You are entirely free to decline to sign a new contract, or negotiate very different terms for the new contract. You have no responsibilities to the company you have signed a contract with except those that are explicitly specified by that contract.

            The notice period applies only to ending the contract early. It does not apply to any future contracts you may or may not sign.

            I happen to like being a contractor; the contractor relationship with a client company is actually far more equal than exists between an employer and an employee, and I get to charge more money than I’d make in a permanent role. If the lack of stability concerns you, though, it’s fine to either give your month’s notice or just work to the end of March and refuse to sign new terms, then move to a permanent job.

  16. matcha123

    I’ve lived in my current city for a number of years. My job does not pay much, and I would have relocated long ago if not for financial issues.

    When I interview, and I’m asked why I haven’t relocated, how can I answer? In some old interviews, the interviewers expressed reluctance to bring me on because I’d been in one town for so long. They ignored the face that I moved thousands of miles away from my hometown, and if I was going to run off due to being homesick, I would have done it long ago. To add to that, my free time is spent trying to make money. My head is filled with money and trying to make enough to get by, that I can’t “network” (not that I’d really want to) or study my field more in depth (something I’d ideally like to devote a lot of time to).

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I’m kind of surprised by this. What industry do you work in (if you don’t mind sharing)?

      I lived in one place for a long time, and I faced the challenges of searching long-distance when I did, but nobody asked why I stayed in one town (city, in my case) for so long. Frankly, it’s kind of an odd question.

      1. matcha123

        I translate. I’m only casually sending out applications at the moment. But when I was full on job searching/interviewing, I was asked that question at almost every interview.
        I can’t freelance due to the type of visa I have. Or, more specifically, I can’t make freelance my main source of income. The places I interviewed at were all international companies with foreign staff, which really threw me…
        I also found it odd because I live overseas. I mean, the distance from my home in the US is a lot greater than the distance from my present city to the one I interviewed in.

    2. KR

      I think it’s okay to note that the pay at your current job does not allow you a lot of extra expenses, so you’ve been feeling stuck as far as studying more, moving away from your city, or attending professional development and networking. Then again, I tend to be very frank so get a second opinion. It’s weird that interviewers would be critical of you living somewhere for a long while.

      1. matcha123

        Thanks. I would actually like to say something like that myself.
        I really don’t know why I got so much focus on my location. I mean, I guess it could have been their indirect way of saying I wasn’t a strong candidate!

      1. matcha123

        Wow, three replies and all of you guys agree that it’s a weird question.
        I’m somewhat relieved to hear that, since I figured it would be something I should expect to be asked.

        For more detail, I work in Japan and at that time I was interviewing in Tokyo. I don’t live in Tokyo, but I live in another relatively large city that’s a few hours away from Tokyo. Every phone interview and in-person interview presented me with some form of that question. My go-to answer explained that I knew I would have to relocate, I was fine relocating and that while I liked the city I was (am) in, I felt it was time to move on.

        Again, glad to read everyone’s replies!

    3. Lapsed Academic

      I’ve been asked something similar before in interviews (I’m not in the US) and I should note I also didn’t get the job. In my case one occasion was a matter of moving about 500 miles (which in Europe is a lot) into a pretty remote area and at least 30 minutes out of my 5 h interview (I am not kidding) is whether I’d be willing to go live there. I mean. I was sitting there, I applied, they invited me and I made it very explicit I’d be happy to and had nothing keeping me form moving.

      As I said I ended up not getting the job.

      I assume that, at least if you’re in Europe and there in certain countries, HR/hiring managers will assume that you have too deep roots in the place you’re currently in (no matter that you actually moved thousands of miles previously) and not be able to “integrate” in your new place of employment. I know it’s a silly thought (especially if like in my case, there’s not actually anything outside of academia in Current City and academia is what I want to leave), but that’s people for you. I have yet to find a solution to that conundrum.

  17. Jennifer

    Okay, today’s question of the week: you’re in an interview and they suddenly ask you to tell your experience in say, unicorn hunting. Unicorn hunting was never, ever mentioned as something they wanted in any of the job ads/listings, and you’ve never done unicorn hunting in your life. WHAT DO YOU SAY? Should you say something like, “I’m totally willing to try!” or make up some bullcrap, or try to give some weasel answer about how caring for your bunnies at work is like unicorn hunting, or what?

    1. Sadsack

      I think you just speak the truth, whatever it is. Don’t say you want to hunt unicorns if that is part of the job and you don’t want to.

    2. Confused

      Thats easy.

      Tell them you have no experience in unicorn hunting. But if Unicorn hunting has some shared skills that overlap into say bear hunting or camping (what both require being outdoors!) you could expand on the skills that you already have that would be helpful. But only say you’re willing to try/have been interested in if you are/have. Otherwise if they ask why you were interested you have to lie more making the situation worse.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      I just say I don’t have experience unicorn hunting. If that’s suddenly a necessary part of the hiring process, that’s not my fault—that’s theirs for never stating it before.

      For example, I work in tech. There are things in tech I know well and other things I don’t know well. If I look at a job description, and it says I have to have experience imaging and deploying machines and keeping software up to date for Windows, Mac, and Linux, I can do that. If, suddenly in the interview, they say “Tell your experience in setting up a wireless network from scratch, including purchasing and configuring access points,” I’d just say “I’ve never done that. My experience is more in doing sys admin work than network admin work. I know basic stuff like DHCP and DNS, but I’m not an expert in network infrastructure. Is that a key piece to this position?”

      I then would expect them to say either “Yes, I’m sorry we didn’t mention that before” or “No, we definitely don’t need you to do that; we’re just curious if you had.” And with either response, I’d find that extremely strange to ask me about.

    4. Arjay

      When this happened to me, I said, “I’ve never hunted unicorns in the wild. I have lots of experience caring for unicorns at the zoo, and I’m eager to learn more about the hunting aspect of the business.” I got the job, and I hated it. I didn’t want to hunt unicorns. Their hunting parties were chaotic and disorganized. So while I think my answer was ok in the moment, I really should have done some more thinking about how unicorn hunting affects my desire for the job.

      1. Jennifer

        “Their hunting parties were chaotic and disorganized.”

        HAH! Good rolling with the analogy :)

        Yeah, my unicorn hunting examples are things that I am so-so about, but they still can’t be as bad as my current job duties, so I’d rather the no experience not rule me out of a shot at the job.

    5. NK

      What everyone else said. I once had a bizarre interview for a job where the technical portion of the interview included a lot of skills that were not and should not have been a requirement for the job. I was completely honest and said I had a cursory knowledge of that area, but it was not my area of expertise. But that if it was an important part of the job, I would certainly learn it. The interviewer even admitted that he didn’t know the answer to many of the questions! It was a scripted list he was required to follow. I ended up with an offer, and I believe my willingness to admit what I didn’t know reflected positively on me. And frankly, had that knowledge been a critical part of the job, it would have been the wrong job for me, so no loss there! (I ended up accepting another offer, so I don’t know how important those skills actually were on the job.)

    6. Artemesia

      In similar situations, I have quickly thought about what I have done that is similar and tried to build on that. ‘I haven’t hunted unicorns, but I have hunted and wrestled skunks and I think some of the skills used there would be useful on the Unicorn Team.’ I once taught a graduate class on a topic that I had never so much read a book on; it went fine — because the ability to think and gear up in a related field are what you learn with advanced study. I have also done some business consulting in unfamiliar terrain (didn’t realize till I was up to my knees in it) and was able to gather the information needed to give reasonable advice.

      Of course if Unicorn Hunting sounds like hell on earth and you don’t want to do it then if it is a big part of the job, then you pull out of the process or make clear that this is an area where you don’t have and don’t want to develop expertise.

    7. LSCO

      This actually happened to me!

      I applied for what I thought was an admin assistant role for an adult tutoring company. I got to the interview and was then asked what experience I had in tutoring adults. I was a little stunned at the question, as I had assumed I would only be fulfilling admin duties and tutoring wasn’t mentioned in the (admittedly sparse) job ad.

      I flubbed my way through an answer explaining how I’d spent a lot of time teaching my mum how to use a computer & basic office software, but admitted that I hadn’t got any professional experience. I was young & green at the time, and desperately needed a job (any job) and didn’t even think to ask if tutoring was going to be part of the role.

      Safe to say, I thought I’d completely flunked the interview. 2 days later I get a call.. to offer me the job. Again, being young and desperate I accepted and only really found out that the job was “adult education tutor” when I started.

      Luckily, I enjoyed the job a lot, stayed there for 2 years and stayed in the sector for 4 years. If I were to be in that original interview today I would definitely be aware of the massive red flags this would have raised, and I’d investigate and be a lot more thorough in my questions in the interview. I certainly can’t count on being lucky in the same way again.

      1. Jennifer

        Hah, yeah, this is happening to me at every job interview in the last couple of years. I have just said “I have never had the opportunity to hunt unicorns in my current job, we don’t have unicorns here,” or “Well, I was low man on the totem pole, so I wasn’t the point person in hunting the unicorns,” and that’s losing me the job every time. I was wondering if I was supposed to be being More Positive! about my lack of unicorn deaths on my record or what. I suppose I should say I’d be wanting to learn or relating things then.

        And for the record: all of the unicorn things aren’t stuff that I am psyched to do, but unicorn murder can’t possibly be as bad as the Cthulhu-murders I have to commit in my current job right now, so I’d be willing to give it a shot. :P

    8. Xarcady

      This happened to me. Job posting was for a trainer who would also write training materials.

      Second question in the interview was how well did I know Spanish and what was my background in translating English to Spanish and could I show them samples of my translation work.

      Huh?

      They had assumed that because I had worked at a translation agency, I not only knew Spanish, but knew it well enough to be a translator. (For the record, all I did there was edit/proofread translations *into* English.) Apparently, they needed to get all their training materials, and hiring materials and some other stuff, translated into Spanish for part of their workforce. They decided a trainer who could also translate for them would be the answer to all their problems.

      If only I had learned Spanish at some point.

      Once I admitted I didn’t know Spanish, all the questions were about how they could find a good Spanish translator. Nothing I could do turned the interview back to me being the trainer of their dreams.

    9. SusanIvanova

      I had that in a phone screen – spent an hour talking about how good I am at devising efficient catch-and-release traps for unicorns, and how I worked with both the unicorns and the hunters so that a good time was had by all, only to find that this job was with the hunters, not the trapmakers. Interviewer asked if it was something I wanted to do, and no, it’s not.

      So what I’ve learned is to ask them exactly what level of the process the job is at first!

    10. Not So NewReader

      I would say up front that I never hunted unicorns. I am very bad at faking answers so it’s just easier to tell the truth.
      Then I would try to think quickly and find something adjacent that might show some in road to the subject. “I am a big fan of unicorn soup and I worked for a while on preparing the perfect unicorn soup.” Hopefully, I could expand this explanation to show interesting tangent knowledge.
      If possible, I would try to return the question with my own question. “Does this position require the employee to hunt unicorns?”

      Personally, I am not much on hunting so I would try to find out how much of the job involved hunting. I might need to tell them that it does not really make sense for us to continue.
      However, if I liked hunting, I would be sure to display enthusiasm for this part of the job and assure them that I could catch on with ease, because I was a regular hunter and successfully bagged 3 other mythical creatures.

  18. Hermione

    For those who hire/work in academia (administration), what are your thoughts on the market? Are you still getting hundreds of applications for each position? Do you think an MA is necessary to do well? If so, what degrees do you like to see your applicants major in?

    I’ve been sort-of on the hunt for about 10 months, but I’m really trying to scale up my job search. I know it only takes one job, but I’m feeling pretty frustrated with the jobs – and pay scales – I’m seeing. Not a whole lot appeals to me. It’s making me think I should go back to school and do something else.

    1. notfunny.

      What kind of administration? There are such a variety of different types of jobs that some require a MS/MA and some do not. What do you want to do or learn? It’s hard to know what kinds of positions you’re looking at.

    2. Honeybee

      What kind of administration are you talking about? I don’t hire in academia and I don’t work there anymore, but I did work in student affairs as a paraprofessional during graduate school. Most of the jobs I saw that I would’ve wanted (academic advisor, student affairs administrator, judicial board coordinator, research coordinator, etc.) went to MA holders. But there were some (financial aid, some student affairs admin assistant positions, a few research/project coordinators) that were held by BA holders. My research group’s coordinator was a fresh-out-of-undergrad BA holder.

      One of my close friends works in university administration in the president’s office of a large university and her M.Ed is in higher ed administration. Another good friend is the Director of Residential Life, and she has a master’s in mental health counseling and is working on one in higher ed administration. Her boss has a master’s in social work.

    3. Jillociraptor

      I work in student affairs. MA or higher seems to be necessary for student development roles, but most of the “administration” jobs like mine do not require an advanced degree. From what I’ve heard about pools here, they are getting lots of applicants but relatively few are qualified – many pools have gotten hundreds but have had to open up several times due to not having the right folks in the pool.

  19. Biff Welly

    I’m going through yet another round of my non-profit organization re-vamping our website. Everytime we have been through this the designs from the firms that are doing it lack imagination and creativity. I’m at the point where I am thinking to myself, I should be doing that line of work (because I am also aware of the budget and how much this organization has been paid – too much). In fact I just had to do mock ups of pages to let them know what we want.

    So…I really have been thinking about school or just self teaching to begin getting into web design/development or at least strengthening that skill. In one of the past open threads there were a lot of good resources regarding coding bootcamps that I’m looking into as well, but just wondered about suggestions about how to go about it. I’m in my mid-forties and female, and I feel like I can bring a lot of organizational understanding to a design field – or at least maybe project planning/scoping.

    I’m kind of rambling here, but appreciate any thoughts or comments.

    1. Heather

      No idea if this is useful, but I’m currently taking an HTML online course at UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Extension. It’s been pretty good so far (I’m about a month & a half in.) They also have other web design/content management courses.

      I’ll link to the site in a separate post.

    2. Bekx

      Learn HTML and CSS first. JavaScript would be 3rd.

      I’m self taught, and a lot of the websites I used are no longer relevant or valid, but w3schools is widely considered a safe source. I use them when I can’t remember attributes.

      Honestly the thing that helped me the most was working with HTML/CSS templates and figuring out how they work. If you can build your own website from scratch using HTML/CSS that would be ideal. For web design it’s good to know graphics software too like Photoshop or Fireworks. You need to be able to lay out your ideas before you start coding.

      I’d probably recommend seeing if your local community college has web design classes or graphic design classes. I use my graphic design talent as much as I use my coding talent, in my work. Sure, it’s helpful to know how to center text…but if you don’t know the foundations of good design it doesn’t matter how well coded your website is.

      1. Ghost Umbrella

        W3schools is really not that great. A lot of their stuff is outdated or wrong, and doesn’t reflect best practices. Though, now that I’m looking at them, they seem to have cleaned up their web site since I last looked at them, which is good, because it used to be a mess. Maybe they’ve taken all their criticism to heart.

        I mean, they’re probably okay for very basic things, and I don’t know any other sites to recommend. No one should use the sites I used when I was a beginner, simply because it’s no longer 1998.

        1. Bekx

          Yeah, that’s my problem. All the sites I used were from that era too. I had no idea that w3schools was outdated though, it’s great for when I need a quick reference so I still use it for things I can’t remember.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      I know plenty of design firms (and individuals) who have imagination and creativity in addition to skills. Maybe you’re just looking at the wrong people, or maybe your non-profit is not paying enough? A lot of clients tend to underestimate the cost of web design or simply undervalue the work.

      That said, if you think you can do better, go for it.

      All the resources are there for self-teaching. Get to know HTML, jQuery, and CSS, and that’s a good start. Or, if jQuery is too intimidating to start with, just take an existing WordPress theme, make a child theme, and then tweak the CSS on the child theme. Best of luck!

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        When I gave one of my clients the quote of what it would take just to make their website mobile-friendly, I swear they did the cartoon eyes thing.

    4. KR

      We had a lot of luck with Wix for a low cost solution. You use their website editor to build the site, and when you’re ready you pay a very reasonable price for ad-free use of the site you just built and they can put it up (I’m assuming you already have the domain registered and so on). Email me and I can give you the link to our website – it looks like a million bucks and is super easy to maintain and edit.

    5. Artemesia

      I know someone who did this through DevBootcamp and has had good career success in web design as a result. I also know someone who works for a firm that does really creative web design and I don’t understand why your organization would not find a new firm to do their design if the current one is not doing a good job. Most web pages are terrible; a good design firm has lots of examples and you can see if what they are doing is close to the kind of thing you want.

  20. Bowserkitty

    I have yet another follow-up on my coworker who was really nice to me when I first started and then did a 180 other days (including forwarding her requests to me to my boss in separate emails):

    She just left my office after we had a really nice, 15-20 minute chat where it came up organically. She admitted she needed to get better at working on her stress because people tell her she comes off as “bitchy” but she says that isn’t it, it’s just that she needs to internalize her stress and emotions better. I then admitted that I was a little taken aback by her attitude at times but I figured it was just the job.

    Feeling good about today, and that chat! No more taking her attitude personally. :)

    1. Jinx

      As a person whose bitch level increases in direct proportion to stress, I can sympathize with both her and you. I’ve asked my boss to let me know when I’m getting overly *raw*, so I can learn to recognize the behavior and stop it. It sounds like your coworker also realizes it’s an issue and is working on it, which is a good sign. :)

        1. Bagworm

          I have a t-shirt that actually says “rawr” on it and my co-workers at my last job learned to give me a wide berth when I had that shirt on. This is not a good reputation to have (and part of why that is my last, and not current, job) but it was helpful when I was building up the tools to be more professional and a better colleague while dealing with lots of stress.

  21. Dr. Johnny Fever

    @Wakeen’s Teapots – are you still looking for the right geek for your specialized role?

    I saw an article at HBR.org that might help about hiring for non-traditional roles. I’ll post as a separate link for moderation.

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever

      HBR link:

      https:hbr.org/2016/02/how-to-assess-a-job-candidate-who-doesnt-fit-the-mold

      It may display an ad or registration prompt – usually 4 articles are free in the US without subscription. All articles are available via RSS feed.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever

          I hope the feed still applies – I subscribed to a fullview feed years ago. If they’ve changed to a preview feed, you’ll run into the subscription requirement.

          Good luck! I usually gets 2-3 articles a day, and many of them are fascinating. Plus they fit in neatly with the advice here. I find them very helpful for my management/leadership development and style.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

        That’s a great article, thank you. I’m going to share that internally.

        And, thanks for asking! I am bursting with good news but wanted to give the last candidate we’ve brought on a full week on the job before I posted about it. She had to give two weeks notice at her current job so is starting on Monday.

        Talk about your non-traditional candidate and what’s (hopefully) a reward for perseverance on our part.

        This young woman was in a mound of resumes sent by the agency which, I mentioned in a previous post, have been all over the map from recent MBA to stay at home mom who was last in the workforce in 1999. I don’t know why I pulled her resume out but I was thinking about you all when I did.

        No completed college, but some courses, a work history that started with 4 years at McDonalds as a crew manager about 12 years ago. (Later to find out, she started that at age 14.) After that barista. After that grocery cashier/produce manager, both jobs with a solid multi year stay. Only very recently, office experience the last 2 years.

        I just…hell, that’s a worker, right? Not a credential I would put out but hell, that’s a worker.

        I said, bring her in, but then I was busy and had somebody else do the first interview. She took our test for the job and:

        The single best result EVER, including the recent MBA. (test has math and written sections, tailored to the job) Interviewer who would be her direct manager loved her. I’m like wow, okay, but she has to quit a job to come here so I want to talk to her first.

        And what I found out when I talked to her is this is a very bright young woman who has been working her way up since she was 14, and because she was part of the foster care system, she’s been literally on her own since 17. She needs a place to learn and grown and we need someone who wants to learn and grow.

        I am so excited I’m having to use super willpower to contain myself. :-) I hope I can report back great results a month from now!

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever

          That is so awesome!

          Personally, I’m warmed to hear her background. I grew up on the poor side, no college degree, started in fast food at 16, and worked retail for a while before getting a break into the tech world. I have always felt affection for the hiring manager who took a chance on me decades ago, and to those who saw a gleam and mentored me on the way. It shaped my attitude and I do what I can to pay it forward; I love to see these breaks happen for those who have the shine but just need a bit of polish to realize it.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

            :-)

            I grew up poor and left home when I was still in high school, the week after I turned 18 . I’ve been on my own since.

            And I have half a degree.

            And, I am very grateful to people who gave me a shot! :-)

        2. overeducated and underemployed

          That is so great! I think it’s discouraging how important internships and field experience are becoming for a lot of jobs, and hearing about how you valued hard work at service jobs in other sectors AND provided a way for her to show her skills for this job is just so heartening.

        3. Jules

          That is awesome.

          I prefer non-traditional candidate myself. They tend to be very bright and self starter.

        4. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          As someone who volunteers with kids aging out of the foster-care system, your story has me crying at my desk.

          So few people understand what aging out really means and how much harder these young adults have to work.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

            I’m trying not to get ahead of myself but I choked up too, later. Wakeen’s is a good place for bright people who work hard. Once you get in the door, the work you turn in is all that matters, so we hopefully have a good fit all around.

            She is very smart. She got questions right nobody gets right. Great, outgoing personality too.

  22. HardwoodFloors

    Am I correct to be skeptical when I receive a phone call/email from from a recruiter when the first thing mentioned is ‘you HAVE to send me your resume IMMEDIATELY?’ I proceed cautiously because my first thoughts are 1) they don’t really have a job or 2) their real intent is to steal my identity. Am I being too defensive? Also if I do talk to these people they always say they saw my resume on linked- in or on a job board. And they always have a 3 or 6 month job. Please let me know if anyone has landed a full time benefited job from this sort of start, and thanks to all.

    1. Oy

      I won’t say all cold calls like this are scam, but I’m sure there are some. For my current position, I was called out of the blue by an agency I had never heard of looking to fill a position. They had found my resume on some job board. If you’re near a computer, I’d suggest googling their company name as you’re talking to them to find out if they are legitimate. Otherwise, get as much information from the caller as you can and do a search before sending them anything. The job I’m in now is still a temp job, but was supposed to be 6-8 weeks and it’s now 11 months later. I haven’t yet been hired on, but that’s because of other internal factors not in my control.

    2. my two cents

      i scored my current amazing engineering role via cold-call (linkedin) about a year ago. i never would have found the opportunity otherwise because it’s a tiny us-based office for a european company, and they only use this one particular contact if they have an opening.

      More recently, i was again cold-called (linkedin’ed) by another company and just completed my second interview with them. i’ve since taken myself out of the running, as i love my current job, but i wanted to touch base with them because i had interfaced with the local guys from the company during my 8 years at my old job.

      i just simply ask for the job description prior to sending my resume across. most of the time they won’t be anything you care about. but, i’ve had really good luck.

  23. Lia

    Phone interview soon – but not sure I want the position any more.

    3 months ago, things were kind of sucky in my job. I had little to do and was being left off of projects that were in my area of expertise more often than not. In a fit of pique, I applied for a job in private industry (I have worked in higher ed for a decade but have experience in private industry from before then). Never heard anything although I did see on LinkedIn that the VP in charge at Company X had viewed my profile a month ago.

    Yesterday, I got a call for an interview with Company X, but things have turned around lately. I am back to being involved in stuff, got several new high profiles projects assigned (and handled them all successfully to acclaim). Don’t know how long it may last, of course. But I am less inclined to jump ship than I was when I sent in that app.

    So — I figure I will do the interview, and see what comes out of it. I just don’t want current employer to find out, sigh.

    1. Leslie Knope's Waffle

      I’ve been in this situation before and I went ahead and did the interview. I kept an open mind and it allowed me to really listen and decide if I wanted to continue further in the process. It also gave me practice with interviewing (but if this was the only reason to still take the interview I would have declined – don’t waste peoples time like that!). You just really never know for sure you’re interested (or not interested) in a job until you take an interview or two.

      1. Lia

        Well, had it and am even MORE on the fence. They kept talking about “culture” as their primary reason for hiring someone. Not sure that is a fit for me, especially as their website seems to indicate it is all open plan and it looks like the sort of place that Nerf battles happen at on a regular basis.

        They also asked for salary right away so I went up 10K from current. I think that will put the kibosh on it, LOL.

  24. Lillian McGee

    Oh boy, I really shouldn’t be here right now, but I keep getting such good input on my struggles every week I can’t resist…
    I am prepping for my agency’s yearly audit and I’m having some impostor syndrome cropping up. I feel confident but maybe I shouldn’t!! I’m in an odd position, and maybe some of you can relate (if so, I’d love to hear about it…) I graduated college with a BFA which was not great for my career prospects, so I got some additional training and began working on program support at a small non-profit. I’m still at the same agency but now I work in the back office on finance and all that good stuff.

    I have absolutely no formal training in accounting; everything has been on-the-job. I have a contract CPA for support but I don’t even know if I’m utilizing her as I should. I have come to understand many of the concepts but some things I still just see “?????” in my head. When I need to figure out how to do something, I go back and see how my predecessor did it and then try to copy as best I can. That seems to have worked out so far but how do I know for sure?

    I haven’t gotten any negative feedback on any of the work I have produced thus far and the ED is hands-on enough that she would probably know if I was way off-base about something. But the auditor is going to find things… and what if they are terrible things??

    1. FormerAuditor

      As a former auditor and now CFO in a non-profit – try not to stress too much. Auditors will almost always have findings. Try to view them as issues where improvement needs to be made. If your ED is hands-on and pleased with your work normally, she’ll see any audit findings as just that – not as some fireable offense. Lean on your auditors, too. Ask them to really explain the concepts behind their findings or recommendations. I have always maintained the attitude that auditors are there to check up on you, but not to conduct a witch hunt for violations (those are regulators in my world!). Ask their opinion on your internal controls and processes. Ask them, informally, about areas where they see improvements can be made.

    2. Big McLargeHuge

      I was a wreck before my first audit with my organization. I was handling all of the cash postings and a few of the revenue entries. The auditors are not as scary as you’re thinking. As long as you can support your decisions with documentation or can point to something that shows why you did something a certain way, you’re going to be fine. Doing things the way your predecessor did them is not a terrible decision because those things have likely been audited in the past.

      Trust me, take a deep breath and realize that it’s all going to be okay. The auditors are there to make sure everything is done correctly and they will help to rectify any issues if they come up (but they won’t!)

    3. NJ Anon

      You say your ED is hands on, but she know finance/accounting? She may not know enough to realize what is right/wrong. Your auditors will tell you what needs to be changed/fixed, etc. Don’t worry so much. It may seem horrifying but it’s their job to look at every little thing. You will learn a lot from the process. You may want to take an accounting class or two or three if you plan on sticking around.

    4. Accountant

      I’m in tax, not audit, but believe me, I am very used to working with bookkeepers who just found themselves in that position with little to no formal training or understanding of the concepts of accounting. I’m a giant nerd who loves accounting, and I’m more than willing to work with people to help them understand. Maybe ask your CPA to come sit with you for an afternoon and go over your record keeping methods and ask the questions that confuse you.

      As far as the audit goes, do not be afraid. As long as you are honest/not stealing money and decently well organized, you’re probably fine, and if they find something, they will help you make whatever corrections need to be made.

    5. Devil's Avocado

      Wow – I could have written this 3 years ago! I was in the exact same position.

      My advice is to really engage your contract CA. I’m quite good at bookkeeping, but there are some things (deferred revenue/expenses, amortization schedules, etc) that you’re really going to want your CA to be aware of. Also try to have the CA in site for field work.

      Otherwise just be super honest and straightforward with the auditors. Give them what they ask for. Don’t try to bluff answers to questions you don’t know (refer those to your CA.)

  25. STEM Lady

    Looking for some advice on working with bosses who don’t communicate with each other. It’s a mess!

    For some background, I work at a very small company (10 people) as the Marketing Director and report to the two owners of the company, the President and the VP of Marketing and Operations. I have been here 8 months now, and have never seen them sit down and have a meeting with each other. They usually have completely opposite goals, and reporting to both make me feel caught in the middle and stressed.

    As a recent example, we have a sales position we are looking to fill. The three of us sat down together, updated the job description, and decided to look for an entry level employee. I’m vetting the resumes. A week later, the President lets me know that he doesn’t want to hire anyone at all, and the VP let’s me know that she wants to hire someone with 10 years career experience and an MBA.

    I’ve tried implementing weekly check in meetings as a group, as prior to me starting the company never had meetings. This doesn’t seem to help though, as at the end of the meeting they appear to be on the same page, and then separately let me know differently. Any advice on how to survive this or get through to them that good communication between leadership is important for the company?

    1. NJ Anon

      Can you email them both after the meetings to reiterate the decisions that were made and what your next steps will be in the process?

  26. Anon-ing today

    Anon today for various reasons.
    So one of these is my work and one is a relative’s.
    a) I want opinions about something that happened at my work today. A few people organised a ‘flirty’ day whereby you could pay for a rose to be delivered to a workmate with or without a message, with the money to go to an unspecified charity.
    I think this is weird, creepy and really inappropriate for work. Luckily no one came near me with a rose, and I only saw one being delivered (I was only in part of the day though).
    Am I right? Is this creepy and weird?
    If any stalking victims were in the office today I bet they were freaked out.
    b) This is a relative’s. Two of her colleagues, who she feels she gets on well with and trusts, started acting weird a week or two ago – exchanging funny looks and suddenly jumping onto their message system every time they all spoke. She thought it was weird but wrote it off.
    One of them then said something weird and unexpected that he would never normally say. She repeated it back to him, and a sentence or two later he said ‘bingo!’. To cut a long story short, after denying there was anything going on, they admitted they had been playing ” bingo”. When she confronted them, one of them said ‘it’s only a game’ – although he did then apologise – and the other said ‘we’re just silly boys being silly’, or words to that effect.
    They all share a manager. They know she’s been suffering from terrible anxiety recently. I think she did right in speaking up for herself and not letting them away with it, but I think she should also tell their manager because seriously, WTF?! Way to destroy a team! And I think they both tried to minimise it in their responses.
    What do you think? Go to manager? Speak to them again? Something else? Is it really as bad as I think or am I just overreacting because she’s very angry about this and I am related to her?
    Thoughts?

    1. Sadsack

      Regarding bingo, she should just tell them to leave her out of it the next time it happens.

      Somewhere I used to work did something similar to the rose thing, except people sent stuff to coworkers as thanks for doing something over and above or expediting something, that sort of thing. I don’t think it was meant to be romantic.

      1. Anon-ing today

        Ah. A rather key part was left out as I put it in triangular brackets without thinking. They were playing a specific bingo version that refers only to phrases my relative said. She has been massively overworked for months; apparently they have enough spare time that they can make up an entire bingo game based on stuff she says and manipulate conversations to make her say them.

        No I don’t think the rose thing was meant as romantic but it was sold as flirty, and they could be anon. Just creeped me out.

        1. Kelly L.

          Ugh, that’s rude. I’ve definitely invented bingo games in my head for people who annoy me, but you don’t ever yell bingo in front of the person you’re annoyed at!

          1. Sadsack

            I agree that the bingo thing is rude. But now that they know she knows, she should see if they keep it up. If they do, she should tell them directly to knock it off. If that doesn’t stop it, then go to manager I guess but I would try to handle it myself first. I think she did well already by confronting them. I would think that they won’t keep it up now.

    2. StudentPilot

      about the rose thing – my workplace has done it for years, but it isn’t presented as a “flirty” thing – rather a “say thank you to someone who has helped you out/acknowledge someone’s good work” thing, with proceeds also going to charity. I’ve never thought of it as weird – I got one last year, and I was pretty pleased that someone appreciated my work.

      1. Anon-ing today

        It was very definitely not a work appreciation thing, it was suggested you might send one to a single friend to cheer them up.

        No mention of show your colleague you appreciate their work. That would have been less creepy to me.

        1. NotherName

          My high school did a flower thing (we used carnations, because they were cheaper), and it was supposed to be romantic – although some kids sent them to friends. (It was done for Valentine’s Day, Homecoming, and a few other times during the year to raise money.)

          In high school it was cute and fun. I can’t imagine something like this at work.

          I do like the idea of being able to send a public “thank you” to people like some posters have mentioned.

      2. Windchime

        We have something called “flower grams” at work. I work for a really big company, and it’s a fundraiser. Proceeds go to a charity that my workplace has established. Each flower costs a dollar, and you include a short message with your flower. The messages are like “Happy Spring!” or “Enjoy this beautiful flower, coworker!”. On the appointed day, bunches of flowers are delivered to desks along with a printout of the messages.

        It would be super, super weird if there were flirty or anonymous flowers, though.

        1. Windchime

          I meant to say–the flowers are tulips. Not roses. So they aren’t meant to be romantic in the least.

    3. Confused

      A) Thats weird if its a flirty day or something romanticly linked is implied. The proximity to Valentines would suggest that but not guarantee it. If its just a show your colleagues appreciation for their WORK than I’ve worked at a company who did that. Though we bought chocolate bars not roses.

      B) I’m confused. They were playing actual bingo? Or they were trying to get her to say specific phrases and that was the bingo (like toast bingo at weddings)? I would say she should watch their behaviour and if she thinks it is ongoing still then she should speak to them about stopping or she will take it to management. If its something that indeed happened out of bad decision making and silly boy mischief then their behaviour should return to normal and with time she can try to forgive them. Currently if they’ve apologised for it then management isn’t likely to do much more than tell them not to do it again.

      1. LCL

        This is called bulls@#$ bingo. It is extremely disrespectful. The guy who apologized is probly OK, the boys will be boys guy is not her friend. If possible given the structure of the job, she should offload a task or two onto these two guys. She should tell her manager, just to let him know that this happened. She should also talk to her manager about her workload. Because if she is totally stressed and overworked, and coworkers have time for this crap, the distribution of workload needs to be examined.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          Yeah, I’ve been telling her to speak up about the imbalance of work for quite a while. I have to say, I wouldn’t trust either of them any more after this.

    4. NJ Anon

      idk-the rose thing seems harmless. One place I worked did green carnations for St. Patrick’s day as a fund raiser. As far as bingo? I could totally see this being done in a place I used to work and we would all think it was hilarious but if it bothers her that much, she should just ask them to stop.

      1. Anon-ing today

        I would be gutted if someone spent time thinking of phrases I overuse and made a bingo game out of it :(

        1. Tomato Frog

          Agreed. I would feel singled-out and it would make me self-conscious and mistrustful, at best. It’s deeply unkind.

        2. mander

          Seriously. Jokes made at my expense are only funny if I made them first, or was involved in the process of creating the joke.

    5. LSP

      -The roses thing is weird. I wouldn’t want someone sending roses to my spouse anonymously even if it was in appreciation. Awkward! It would not be weird if there were names attached and or a different type of flower. My office did a straight up Valentine’s Day thing where you could buy a sad looking teddy bear or chocolate (did not have to be for a coworker) and my group ended up sending one to our boss.
      Offices should stay away from this holiday (put up hearts if you want, that’s cute, but no activities!). Give chocolates to everyone a la kindergarten class but don’t potentially romanticize the work place. Ewwwww. Do appreciation crap near Labor Day, haha.

      -She needs to nip it in the bud herself unfortunately. These are the types of clowns that will be even more spiteful if she goes to management. Actually, she should update management so they are aware, but talk to them herself and say She doesn’t appreciate their bullsh!t. Sorry this happened to your relative, so uncool.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I haven’t seen the flower thing since high school. And we had carnations which seems to be a more neutral flower, roses feel personal to me. However, if you only saw one rose being delivered while you were there, then there was probably not much participation. This idea may die from lack of interest.

      Your relative. If she won’t go and talk to the boss about her workload, I have to wonder what would make her go now to talk about the two clowns. I think the greater issue is that she has to deal with her workload. However, if she is unable to let go of what these two people did, then she may need to tell the boss about what happened. It seems that she addressed it with them. She can let the boss know that she feels she has handled the situation this time, but the next time she definitely will be coming to him and asking for his intervention in the situation. She can say, “I wanted to let you know, what has happened so far to keep you in the loop should there be a recurrence or a similar type event.”

  27. NewJobTitle

    During my annual review, I was able to successfully upgrade my dated job title to a new one that better reflects the tasks I actually do. I anticipate this will help with networking with my peers in the industry and will definitely look good on a resume going forward (not that I have any plans to leave). While there was no “promotion” really, I think it will help during any salary re-calibrations we have in the future, too.

    1. danr

      I called these “stealth promotions”. There is no big announcement, but your personnel file changes. And you get to put the new title on your resume and the accomplishments show advancement.
      Congratulations on getting the title changed, and keep doing it as your responsibilities and the job changes.

      1. NewJobTitle

        Thanks!

        I’m finally C-level, so I don’t anticipate a next level, but it’s good to remember to update the resume!

  28. Anon Accountant

    Please critique and pick apart my cover letter. Please feel free to be nitpicky. Thanks in advance!

    As you will see on the attached resume, I have over eight years’ experience in accounting, including payroll preparation, account reconciliations, and preparing financial statements for companies with common ownership. Currently I serve as the staff accountant for six companies and manage all financial activity including posting transactions, calculating period-end accruals, 401K remittances and form preparation.

    I’m organized and am a stickler for details and my current boss told clients he can rely on me to “find errors where others have missed”. I work well in fast paced environments and can manage multiple projects simultaneously while meeting all deadlines. Recently a client was undergoing an IRS audit during tax season. All tax returns were completed on time, extensions filed and deadlines met.

    Additionally, I enjoy finding new ways to improve efficiency and processes. A recent project included creating a supplementary quarterly payroll report schedule using software that had been previously manually prepared. Another recent project involved collaborating on a project to set up clients into a more efficient financial statement preparation system. I formatted schedules, financial statements and ensured everything conformed to specific firm guidelines. The project included a two day investment of time per client template but the financial statement preparation time will be reduced by approximately three days per client. I believe in applying this level of attention to detail to duties as visible as preparing financial statements to routine daily tasks such as ensuring the printer does not run out of paper.

    I borrowed wording from this website so feel free to tell me to change it. I can handle harsh feedback so be harsh if needed.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I am curious which wording you borrowed from here because none of this sounds familiar to me (which is good — you don’t want to borrow to the point that it would). I tend not to critique cover letters because it’s time-consuming to do a good critique, but the three biggest things that jump out to me:
      – There’s lots and lots of passive voice here — it’s framed as if “things happened,” rather than you doing them!
      – I’d want to hear more about why you think you’d excel at this particular job, not just a run-down of what you’ve done recently.
      – It feels a little … dry/flat to me. I don’t hear a real voice in it, and ideally would like to.

      1. Anon Accountant

        I borrowed and modified part of the wording from Persophone Mulberry’s cover letter about the copier never running out of paper. Cover letters are the hardest for me sorry.

        Any ideas as to how I can interject some more “voice” into it? I really struggle with cover letters. Plus it’s hard to get any good feedback from my employer unless you are a buddy to management but that’s another story.

        1. NJ Anon

          Follow the advice of AAM and write the cover letter as if you were talking to a friend. I have used lines such as “when I saw your job posting for a _________, I just know I had to apply.” And state the reason why. I recently sent in a cover letter that started “It was with great interest that I read your job posting for a ________________ on ______.com” and again, tell them why. I sent this cover letter and received an email within minutes asking to schedule an interview!

      2. BRR

        Thank you for chiming. I know it’s time consuming and difficult due to plagiarism for you to do cover letter and I appreciate being able to learn from this.

        And a big thank you to Anon Accountant for putting your work out there. I don’t think I could do the same.

        1. Anon Accountant

          You’re welcome. I hope this can help others who may be experiencing writer’s block. I really struggle with this.

    2. CrazyCatLady

      I agree with what Alison said. One area where I notice a lack of “voice” is when you say “Recently a client was undergoing an IRS audit during tax season. All tax returns were completed on time, extensions filed and deadlines met.” Like she said, you used the passive voice here. I’m sure this is an accomplishment, but the way it’s described sounds more like a general responsibility, rather than an accomplishment.

      Unfortunately, I am not great at this either, so I don’t have any specific suggestions.

      1. Anon Accountant

        I see what you are saying. I consider it an accomplishment and hope hiring managers would too. :)

        1. CrazyCatLady

          I’m sure it IS an accomplishment, I think you need to find a stronger way to convey it though. Good luck!

    3. That Other Gal

      It started off okay, but turned out a bit dry to me. I liked the inclusion of a quote. But then I felt it fell apart a bit at the “Recently a client..” which likely will mean more to someone who works as an accountant, is this something with a time crunch? Did you help with the IRS audit along with still maintaining their regular work, and keeping up to date with the other 5 companies? I feel that mentioning that you did this (especially on a time crunch) without letting any other performance areas suffer would sound more impressive if it was spelled out a bit more (but that might just be me). It also doesn’t say what role you are going for and why you would be awesome.

      The 6 companies feels like an impressive job but you only mention it as the main skills being organized and attention to detail, whereas I would expect this role to involve a lot of flexibility and definitely good time management skills. I know that details are very important in accounts but I think you mention it a few times but miss an opportunity to mention other important attributes you are displaying.

      Oh and this might just be my soapbox but “My current boss told clients…” sounds bad because its past tense and sounds like something he used to say but has stopped. “My current boss like to tell clients…” sounds better.

      Just my 2p.

      1. Anon Accountant

        It was some what of a time crunch especially with conflicting tax deadlines, payrolls that needed done. I’m applying for several accounting roles and was going to tweak a cover letter for those positions. That’s a good idea to add the flexibility and good time management skills. I never thought of that. Thanks!

    4. A Bug!

      I don’t have anything useful to add about the content itself, but I do want to just make sure you’re aware that depending on what you change and how you adapt your cover letter in response to comments here, your cover letter will be highly “searchable” if the person receiving your application were so inclined. I wouldn’t think it’s a very high chance, so I wouldn’t want you to worry at all about it, but I also wouldn’t want you to be caught off-guard if your interviewer brings it up!

      (And the searchableness of this discussion is a good reason, if any of the comments contain anything in the vein of re-writes or re-wording, to not adopt that wording too directly. If a hiring manager happens to find this discussion, it’ll look less like you were simply seeking guidance in revising your own work, and more like you borrowed someone else’s work to present as your own.)

      1. Anon Accountant

        Ugh I hadn’t thought of that! Especially because I really like some of the suggestions for revisions. But that’s okay because it’ll make my brain be more creative in thinking.

    5. Mockingjay

      “Recently, for a Fortune 500 client under IRS audit, I prepared tax returns and filed extensions under a strict (2-week? whatever) deadline.”

      “I created a software program to automate a quarterly payroll report schedule.”

      “I set up a more efficient financial statement preparation system for our clients. I created templates to standardize schedules and financial statements, reducing financial statement preparation time for each client from five days to three.”

  29. BUMMED OUT

    I work as an outside salesperson for a Teapot company that I now realize has a generally lousy reputation in my industry, for those in the know. I haven’t made commission in the year I’ve been here – luckily I receive a small salary. But poor sales is NOT resume worthy. So I am now actively looking for new work. During recent interviews, the question comes up from those who don’t know my company, “why are you looking to leave so soon? Your company sells great teapots!”
    Can I touch on the management’s cruddy, out-of-touch business practices. or just say there are too many challenges to list? Or just say “bad career move”?
    Thanks

    1. That Other Gal

      I wouldn’t say any of those. As it will likely reflect badly on you, especially if you say something like too many challenges to list. Bad mouthing (even if its deserved) a current or previous employer is rarely a good idea. I would imagine this is especially true if you are supposed to be a salesperson so paid to make them look good.

      Are the roles you are applying to the same position (outside salesperson) or different? If its a different role you will want to play up the difference. If its the same role, then something closer to saying you desire more career progression would probably be a better route to go.

    2. Anon Accountant

      Would it be wrong to say the position has evolved and isn’t a good fit for my skills and I’d like a position concentrating on selling polka dotted teacups? Or the position turned out to be different than agreed upon and I’m seeking a good fit?

  30. Bekx

    I can’t remember if volunteering falls under work or non-work…so I’ll repost this if you’d prefer it to go up tomorrow, Alison.

    I’m on my first event planning board for an animal shelter I volunteer at. All members of the board need to raise at least $100 in donations. I have a page online where people can donate, and I posted a brief thing on facebook but I’m not really into the whole soliciting thing. Does anyone have any tips for how to get donations for a non-profit that is unobtrusive as possible? Honestly, if I would have known that raising money was part of the boards duties I probably wouldn’t have done it. I don’t really want to ask people I’m friends with or work with face to face, as I feel guilty when people ask me and I don’t donate. At least now I know for the future.

    1. OwnedByTheCat

      A bit of an aside but raising money is always nearly part of a non profit Board Director’s duties, and an important one. It sounds like this wasn’t made clear to you when you joined the board – which is a big bummer! I can understand not wanting to ask peers for money especially if you didn’t think you’d need to. But as a fundraiser, know that those donations really do matter and we look to our board to help bring in new prospects. It’s a big part of what fundraising is all about at many organizations. (it’s often not handled well, which is a different conversation!)

      But in terms of your question – I always encourage people to write personalized emails. If you can think of 10 to 20 peers, send them personal emails highlighting why the organization matters to you and letting them know you’re raising money for a good cause. Most people won’t be too bothered by this – they either donate or say “sorry, can’t right now.”

      If you have the funds, you could also offer to match the funds. “I’m raising $100 and if I get to that goal I’ll match it with my own $100. Can you help me out?” I think most friends would be totally into that!

      1. Bekx

        Thanks! This is my first time really volunteering with an organization long term, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. When they asked me to be on the event planning board I just figured it would be things like talking to vendors, organizing games and working at the event. But, now I know!

        And I’m definitely interested in the mission and had planned on donating $100 this year anyways (my company does a match program). I just always found it annoying though when people would ask me to donate to things I don’t care about, so I was trying to avoid that. I just want to give people an easy out. I wish I sold things online or something where I could tell people they could donate an extra $5 to the shelter. But alas…

        1. OwnedByTheCat

          I would avoid asking people that you think would be annoyed, but I’m sure you know at least 10 people who love animals/have rescue animals/are supportive of you.

          I worked with a consultant once who nailed it for me: most people will give. They are interested in helping out a good cause, and they want to support their friends. When you ask, you’re not annoying people or putting them out: you’re giving them an opportunity to make a difference. It’s a powerful shift of one’s mindset that can help if you actually do want to fundraise!

          Another thought is, if you want to make it a bit more transactional, have a bit of a cocktail party and say that you’re raising money to help the shelter. Have a tip jar at the “bar” and raise money that way!

          1. Lily Rowan

            I was going to say the opposite: most people *won’t* give, and that’s totally fine! You’re still not putting anyone out. You can also let yourself off the hook when other people ask you to support charities you don’t care about.

            Agreed on the more personal email front. The other thing is that people need reminders, so it’s fine to send to the same people more than once. What I usually do is post on Facebook twice, a couple of weeks apart, and also send an email to the most likely people.

      2. NJ Anon

        I was coming here to say this. Fund raising is one of a board’s primary responsibilities. Try not to get too worked up about the ask. If they say “no” so be it. $100 shouldn’t be too hard. Ownedbythecat (I am owned by 4 cats!) is correct. Make it personal, explain why you think it is a worthy cause. I am a sucker for animals so it would speak to me!

    2. AVP

      Can you afford to just pay it? I experience extreme mortification at having to fundraise so I would probably just do that if I could swing it. Give the money to someone else to donate in their name if you don’t want the other board people to know.

      1. Bekx

        Yeah…I have a feeling I’m going to end up doing this. Luckily I was planning on donating $100 this year anyways.

        1. Amtelope

          That’s probably just fine. Many nonprofit boards do have a fundraising requirement for board members, but it’s typically phrased as a “give or get” — i.e., you either need to give X amount or raise X amount. If you’re fine with just donating the money, there’s no need to be secretive about it.

    3. LizB

      Ugh, I feel your pain. I have to do this kind of thing for my job (and no, I’m not in the fundraising department — everyone in every department is expected to solicit donations). How I’ve gotten through it:

      1. Like you, I made a brief post on Facebook with some info about my organization and a request to donate. A bunch of my friends Liked it, so a week later I then went and sent them individual Facebook messages saying Hi and reminding them how to donate if they’d like to. A couple people donated, most people didn’t, but I didn’t blast them with dozens of obnoxious messages — it was mostly sharing my excitement about the work I’m doing.

      2. I sat down and wrote down the names of basically everybody I know in the world, then looked through the list again to figure out who would actually want to donate — people who are interested in the work I do, people who I know give a lot, etc. I then sent personalized emails to those folks, and in one case met someone for coffee to catch up. I knew that as soon as I described my work, he would be interested in donating, and sure enough he offered me a donation without me even asking! I haven’t sent emails to my friends who are in bad financial straits, or who wouldn’t be supportive of my organization’s mission; it’s all about knowing your audience.

      3. Many people at my work have organized fundraising events — making and selling food, designing and selling a cool t-shirt (if you find a cheap printer you can get them for $5/shirt, and sell them for $10), partnering with a local grocery store to bag groceries for tips, etc. These take a little more work, but I like them better because you’re offering people something concrete in return for their donation.

      Best of luck! You can get through this!

    4. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA

      When I have to do this for my job, I’ll just write a shortish email about why I’m passionate about the cause and some interesting facts about the organization. It’s all about creating a story that people become engaged in. I’ll also post it on my social media pages as well. I just do it the one time so I don’t overwhelm people but I think if you can explain why your passionate about the cause, it allows people to feel engaged and more willing to give!

    5. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

      Every year a friend does the Bowl-A-Thon to raise money for the national abortion access fund. Her primary method is through Facebook, although her team also do bake and craft sales. She has a signature gift for her big donors (a type of cookie she won a county fair blue ribbon ) and she’ll announce all pledges in a certain time period will get cookies, and keep us abreast on how her team is doing in fund raising, and how much they need to stay on the national leader board, and when they are in the top 5, etc. She raises at least $500 over 6 weeks or so.

      You can do it! Animals are easier to raise money for because, 1) cute and 2) compelling stories. Look at how TinyKittens keeps people’s interest with seeing how Cassidy (#miraclebipawd) has grown or the Ringworm RomperRoom kittens have developed personalities and gotten healthy. Pick some cuties to make your mascot and ask folks to donate, maybe sweeten the pot a little, and send a personal thank you. Once people know it’s something you feel passionately about, they want to support you and your endeavors.

      1. A.S.

        Oh, I can’t believe I didn’t see your comment before making mine! I totally agree – especially the personal thank yous. One friend who’s a board member takes a photo of her cat with a sign that says “thanks [your name]!” if you donate during the org’s fundraising drive and posts it on Instagram. Her cat is very very cute. It is a strong motivator.

    6. A.S.

      I volunteer with a local charity and several of my friends do too. A couple of them are on its board, so I often hear about their fundraising efforts and I have given. I think the things that help encourage me to donate are:

      1) transparency: “I’m trying to raise $100 by March 1”
      2) personal stories: “I helped care for George when he came to our shelter from an abusive home…here’s George in his little Halloween costume with his new owner…seeing how happy they make each other makes me so proud to work with the shelter…that’s why I’m raising funds”
      3) group email blasts/Facebook posts they feel a lot less pressure-y than one-on-one asks)
      4) encouraging even under-$10 donations
      5) urgency: “we have 200 pets that need to find homes by the end of this month”
      6) talking about costs: “it costs $150 to spay/neuter each pet. Right now, we have 45 animals that need the operation, so we need to raise $6750.” (I don’t think it’s disingenuous if you talk about specific costs but ask for unrestricted money, ymmv)
      7) events: a great local charity (actually not one I volunteer with, but a family member does) had a karaoke event where you got a string of Mardi Gras beads to give to your favorite performer(s) for every $5 you donated. This encouraged me to donate multiples of $5! And I was already at a bar, so I was already spending money, so it didn’t feel like as much of a big deal.

      Of course, I have never worked in advancement or done any fundraising on my own, so maybe I just contradicted everything that’s been proven to work. But these things got me to donate.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I’d approach businesses- pet stores and whatever for profit places you can find. Tell them you working on fundraising for an animal shelter and would they be able to help? If they say no, then ask if there is anyone in the community that has a reputation for being interested in such causes and can you approach that individual?

      The next thing I would try is approaching vet’s offices and asking if you can leave a donation can on their counter for a week or two. BE absolutely SURE to go back and get the can.

      Make posters put and put them up on community bulletin boards such as grocery stores, libraries, etc. Be sure to ask permission at each place before pinning your poster to the board. In the poster include instructions on where people can donate- do they mail it in, do they find one of your donation cans, whatever you would like them to do.

      This is not a waste of your time to learn this skill if you enjoy working on boards. Have a brief explanation of what your group is doing. If this is an annual fund drive, say so. They might be more interested if this is only a once a year thing. If this is a monthly thing, that will be a bit more work but doable.
      You are not asking for money for yourself. Keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that if time IS actually money then you probably have donated well over $100 in time. If board members had to shoulder the cost of the organization, there would be NO board members anywhere. Hang on to that thought.

      I have to tell you a story and I hope you chuckle. We had to raise $1000 for a project our group was doing. It was an established project so people were aware. We wanted to expand it a little bit and to do so cost $1000. I sent an email to a friend and asked her to ask her group for a donation. I explained what we were going to to do. They donated $200, just on an email. People are very willing to help out with a good cause.

    8. Fleur

      Something I see people I know do is charityware – basically a software program where instead of paying the developer, you donate to their charity of choice instead.

      Do you have skills in things like that, arts, crafts, music, etc? Someone I know even blogs for donations. Maybe that could be an easier sell and also open yourself up to a wider audience than your friends?

  31. brandy

    i was contacted by a recruiter (who is employed by the company) for an opening back in January. I expressed causal interest, sent him my resume, and we had an introductory conversation two weeks ago. Well, I was laid off last week and my last day was this past Friday. On Wednesday of this week, he called and said he reviewed my materials with the hiring manager and they are VERY EXCITED about bringing me in, and we set up time to interview next week.

    When/how should I disclose the change in my employment? I don’t want to bring it up if it will raise any unneeded concerns. I also don ‘t want it to seem like I was hiding anything, but I wasn’t laid off at the time I was recruited or when I submitted my resume, or when I had initial conversations with the in-house recruiter. I have been a hiring manager and have been mulling over how I would want this to play out and can’t decide on the right answer. If it matters, the role is for a sr director/VP level role, which is the same level I had been at before.

    On the layoff- I have a 5 year track record of top tier performance with exCompany; I was laid off due to a big merger where my department–where I was the head– was combined with another in the new “home office.” Frankly, I knew might happen which is why I had some casual interest in this role, though I didn’t think the layoffs would happen until spring.

    The best I’ve come up with so far is to home it comes up organically in the interview…then I can say “i was initially interested in the role because XYZ/ABC, and oh by the way in the interest of full transparency, I was laid off from [oldjob] last week due to a restructuring.” But if this doesn’t come up organically, how do i/ should i even disclose this?

    Thanks!

    1. ThatGirl

      I feel like it’s very likely to come up organically, either with why you’re interested or why you want to leave your current job.

      I don’t think it would be the end of the world if it never came up, but maybe others will have other ideas.

    2. overeducated and underemployed

      I think if it does come up organically, you should talk about it in as positive a light as possible (“now I’m available and excited for this opportunity?”), but if it doesn’t, I might wait until the reference check stage and mention that since you started the interview process, your employment status has changed, and this is what they need to know. I feel like you need to walk the line between not giving out information that could hurt you at an early stage, and being honest enough that no one could accuse you of trying to hide it.

    3. Kate

      It will almost certainly come up because the interviewer will be asking questions about your current job. I think you can’t answer a question like “at *currentjob*, how much experience did you get with X” without mentioning the layoff. You also should be speaking about that job in the past tense, because present tense would seem deliberately misleading. The only was you could avoid talking about it would be if neither you nor the interviewer spoke about your most recent job at all, which would be very strange. I would just mention it during the interview in a matter of fact manner and then move on to answering whatever question was asked.
      Best of luck in your interview!

  32. Adam

    So I have a bit of “durr…” question this week.

    Asking Hiring Managers of the Female persuasion: what is your stance on handshakes? If as the interviewee when I meet you is it polite to wait for you to extend your hand, and if you don’t should I assume you don’t want to and thus not offer mine? If we do shake hands what is the appropriate level of firmness to use?

    With me when meeting another man it’s fairly straightforward: as in we nearly always will shake hands at the first meeting and use a firm, but not vice-like, grip. With women if I look online the advice seems more like everyone has an opinion ranging from “do it just like you would with a man” to “follow her lead” and everywhere in between. So I was wondering what the general consensus was around here.

    I suppose this also opens the floor up to stories of hilarious handshake blunders.

    Thanks!

    1. FormerAuditor

      I’m in the “do it just like you would with a man.” Why would there be a difference because the other person is a female?

      1. Adam

        It is likely that I’m over-thinking it, as I have no issues with shaking women’s hands normally. I think I was raised a bit traditionally in this sense so I got the idea in my head that the woman gets to choose what happens there at all times so I have to wait to see what she does.

        Plus, I can remember at least one time I’ve had where I was meeting a woman in a professional context and I offered my hand to shake and she looked at me like there would be none of that and I felt supremely awkward. Haha!

        1. NotherName

          In purely social situations, the woman gets to choose whether to offer her hand.

          In business situations, you act as if both people were the same gender. And I’d be very surprised by a hiring manager who acted like that about a handshake – unless she was recently from a non-handshaking culture. (I assume you’re in the US.)

          1. Not So NewReader

            This. In social settings it used to be a big deal that the woman had to extend her hand first. I am not sure how much of a big deal it is now. I very seldom shake hands, it’s either a hug or a warm verbal greeting for me. If I am being introduced to someone I may or may not shake hands. It usually has to do with how much paint, garden soil or cuts are on my hands at the moment.

            The woman who refused to shake hands may have been concerned with catching or giving a cold. Who knows. Don’t let one person’s actions throw you.

      2. NJ Anon

        Ditto, you can tell a lot from a handshake. I am a woman and interviewed a woman for a position. Her handshake was weak and so was her interview.

        1. NJ Anon

          Which reminds me, I just went on a job interview last week with a group of 5 people. One male, 4 females. We all shook hands.

    2. Christina

      It wouldn’t have even occurred to me that this is a gender thing. I shake hands with nearly anyone new I meet in a business setting, men or women.

      When my sisters and I were little my mom (in HR and eventually an SVP of a multinational company) would have us practice good handshakes. I always thought that was really cool of her.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Aw. My dad used to do that with me. My handshake was never strong enough for him! (And I’d totally forgotten this until just now, so thank you for bringing me that memory!)

      2. MissLibby

        I remember my Grandpa teaching my brother and boy cousins how to shake hands and asking to learn too…he took my hand and kissed the back of it. I loved my Grandpa but I thought that was stupid. I have a nice firm grip regardless of who I am shaking hands with, male or female. And just this week my son and I had a hand shaking session and discussion.

      3. ScarletIntheLibrary

        Tennis is why I have a firm, but not too grippy, handshake. Former coworkers have asked me to teach them, but its muscle memory for me.

    3. Lillian McGee

      Interesting! I usually initiate the handshake I suppose, but I wouldn’t think twice if the interviewee did. I’m in the “do it the same way with everyone” boat.

      I had an intern who gripped WAY TOO HARD and I never said anything because… well I don’t know, embarrassment? One day he shook hands while meeting one of the attorneys and she YELPED! But she also laughed and said something like that’s quite a handshake! Ahh, interns.

    4. Weekend Warrior

      No blunders necessary. If handshakes are the norm in your context, treat men and women the same. Firm but not vise-like is a good guideline. Don’t overthink this!

    5. Not a Real Giraffe

      I mean, don’t crush my hand, but yeah, give me a firm handshake upon meeting me like you would with a man.

    6. Anonymous Educator

      Maybe this is a regional thing? I’ve tended to live in urban areas on the East or West Coast of the U.S., and I’ve never heard of a difference in handshakes. I’ve always done a handshake in interviews, whether the person is male or female.

    7. brandy

      follow her lead, which should be “do like you do with a man.” I’m a female exec and shake hands with everyone. I will say ONE exception is when I did some business in the Deep South, and met some female mid-management….they put out their hands in the ladylike royalty-so-pleased-to-meet-you way, and it totally threw me. It was like she was extending her jewel-encrusted hand to be kissed by a suitor. She did it to my male colleagues first and I just went to shake her hand and it got awkward. But I don’t blame myself…we were at a business meeting, not cotillion.

    8. College Career Counselor

      A former colleague of mine accidentally turned a handshake into a kiss (with a political candidate, no less) when she mis-read his body language. (He was leaning in to say hello during the handshake, and she wound up kissing him on the cheek.) She was mortified!

    9. Daisy Steiner

      The only time I can think of that you might want to let the woman take the lead would be in a culture where it’s common for women/women and men/women to kiss the cheek on greeting. As I don’t live in one of those cultures, I’m not sure whether that would happen in a job interview though, or whether you would stick to a handshake there. Can anyone weigh in?

      Otherwise, I don’t see why there should be any difference. Just shake hands normally. If a woman has smaller hands than you, try not to squeeze in such a way that you bend her hand around in a curve (this of course is true for men with smaller hands than you too).

      1. Marcela

        In my culture -Chilean- we kiss in all social interactions (one kiss on the cheek, not two as Spaniards). But in business, it’s always a handshake. Always. Never a kiss, unless you are friends with your coworkers.

    10. FormerAuditor

      In my part of the world, it’s also cold and flu season, so if you go to initiate a handshake and the other person doesn’t reciprocate, that could be the reason (although that person should demur with an explanation).

    11. F.

      Traditional etiquette says to wait until the woman extends her hand. However, as seen in the rest of the comments, that isn’t necessarily the norm any more. As for the firmness, I would prefer firm but not crushing. No limp, dead fish type handshakes, either. I have arthritis in a couple of the knuckles of my right hand, and a strong handshake leaves me in pain for days.

    12. Artemesia

      In business there is no gender. The woman shakes first is a social norm not a business norm. Just as it isn’t ladies first through the door, but status first, it is not ladies first with handshakes in a business context. (except in cultures where women are subordinate and rules about touching are strict etc)

    13. Ama

      I’ve only ever needed someone to follow my lead on a handshake when I was sick with a cold and said upfront “let’s not shake hands, I’d hate for you to catch my terrible cold.” Otherwise I don’t think I’ve ever even noticed which of us stuck our hands out first.

    14. Camellia

      Handshaking pet peeve – when a man shakes hands normally with another man but gives me the ‘bare tip of the fingers” wimpy handshake. HATE that!

      On a side note, when a young “shadow” accompanies one of his doctors he makes a point of shaking his or her hand. Then if they don’t offer a firm confident handshake he looks them seriously in the eyes and explains how important that is and how it helps the patient have confidence in them. Then he gets them to shake hands again, gives them a big smile and a “There you go!”

    15. Jules

      Save me from dead fish handshakes… Like seriously… I am not lifting your hand and kissing it… shake it like you mean it. Hahahaha…

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I know German handshakes can be very firm, almost to the point of dislocating a finger.

        And I was once watching Austrian TV news and saw a modern version of the hand kiss, in which the man takes the woman’s hand, raises it, but stops about 30cm before impact.

    16. Hlyssande

      Handshakes are important!

      But please be aware that some people have physical problems that mean they can’t shake hands or aren’t able to shake firmly. I’m lucky enough that I don’t have this problem myself, but things like arthritis, EDS, and fibromyalgia can make handshakes agony.

    17. LSP

      On a scale of 1-10, my handshakes are always a 6.5 in firmness.

      I hate limpd&$k handshakes (not including those with physical conditions of course). I always handshake at the same level but can quickly adjust if I feel I’m going to convex a person’s pinkie and pointer finger together. Oops!

  33. Vanishing Girl

    Hi everyone, so I’m actively looking for jobs in my field while working my dull but decent current job. (I was recently a finalist for a job, but didn’t get an offer.)

    It’s time to review our salaries and work in a meeting, and I don’t know how to hide the fact that I have pretty much checked out of the job. I still do good work, but I don’t want to put in any more effort as I don’t think anything will happen because of it. (This is how I burned out last year, making an effort to do new things & getting no feedback or acknowledgement. So I stopped.) I’d like to have more interesting work, but am not sure how to make the case for that as I have little energy now and am not sure what that would look like.

    So when you are completely bored with your job, how do you make a case for more interesting work when you have few ideas about what that would look like? And how do you stay engaged when you are bored with the bulk of your actual work?

    Or is it ok to just do good work and not seek advancement when you’ve already decided that you don’t want to work at a place anymore?

    1. Adam

      I know how you feel. I don’t have a particularly great answer for you but what I eventually settled on was this:

      Whatever you choose, commit to it. You only have so much energy, physical and mental, that you can spend in a day, and if you’ve identified an area of your life you need to actively work to improve you need to be mindful of how you spend your energy. Maybe there are some ambitious people out there with the energy reserves to do amazing work at their current job, seek opportunities there, AND conduct a serious job search in their free time, but I am not one of those people.

      So currently I engage in my current job, do great work and be as helpful as I can because I signed up to do the job and that’s my responsibility, but I don’t really go out of my way to find new work (which may not really be there anyways) which leaves me more energy to search for a new opportunity elsewhere. I may not be excelling in my job like I could possibly be, but I am doing it to a perfectly satisfactory and professional level to all relevant parties.

      I think if you took an overhead view of many organizations you’d probably find that a large majority of people are doing “ok” at their jobs, as in not head of the class great, but sufficiently and not otherwise standing out. So if you pull back your efforts on advancing in your current organization and just do your job well to the letter you probably aren’t all that different from a lot of your co-workers. If the work you’re assigned is getting done, you don’t need to feel bad if that’s all you spend effort doing.

      In short: decide if you have a future at this current company and whether you want to pursue it that or if it’s time to serious look elsewhere. Make that choice and then go after it while maintaining a good work ethic at your current job if you decide it is time to move on.

      And to stave off boredom: audio books.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        Thanks! I appreciate this. I guess I’m finding it hard because I’ve always tried to excel, take on new tasks, and help out as much as possible. So doing a good job, getting things done, and not striving hard to get better or do more seems strange to me. Like I’m taking the easy way out. But you’re right, I am sure most of my coworkers are doing the same thing as me and that’s just fine.

        Like you, I do good work because that is my work ethic and they’re paying me to do that. I wouldn’t ever slack on the work I’m already doing, but I’m also not looking to go beyond that like I used to. I like how you’ve framed it as keeping a reserve of energy to look for other opportunities. I believe I’ve decided I’m only interested in outside opportunities, so I do need energy reserves to keep up that search. This is helpful.

        1. Adam

          I read an article last year that got me thinking about “energy” very differently which is where my comment came from. I’m sure we’ve all had days where we were like “I was sitting in a chair all day; why am I so tired?” but thinking expends energy. Sometimes a lot of it!

          The article framed it more like willpower, but it applies nicely. Consider the example: If someone offers me a cigarette and I’ve never been interested in smoking it doesn’t take any willpower to say “No thank you”. Now if someone offers me a cookie and I’m trying to cut back on sugar it will take a little bit of willpower to decline, as I like cookies. If this keeps happening to me all day eventually I’m either going to run out of willpower and take the treat or am I going to hold firm but be exhausted at the end of the day from having to maintain my resolve.

          It really got me thinking about my work tasks and what takes energy from me and what doesn’t!

  34. AndersonDarling

    Does anyone know where to get a business card holder for thick business cards? We just got new business cards and they are really nice, but they are so thick that only a few will fit in a standard business card holder. Has anyone else had this problem? I’ve tried searching for “thick” business card holders and have only gotten results for cigarette cases.

  35. squids

    Cultural differences between government and higher ed?

    I’ve worked in government for 10 years, and next month I’m taking a new job at a small university. I’m comfortable with the work that I’ll be doing; will be a bit more management responsibility that I’m preparing for; but what do I need to know about cultural differences between those environments that I haven’t thought of yet?

    1. ZSD

      I haven’t worked in government, but I now work in advocacy in the Beltway and thus interact with lots of government types. I used to work in higher ed in SoCal. (I’m mentioning the location because some of the cultural differences I bring up might be more regional than industry-based. I’m not sure.)
      The biggest difference I can think of is that higher ed is wayyyy more chill. Yes, people do their work, but they also leave right at the end of the workday, and they take a full hour for lunch. Here in DC, I’m supposed to get an hour lunch, but realistically I never take more than half an hour, if that. Also, people here will schedule meetings for noon to 1 PM. In higher ed, if you scheduled a meeting during the lunch hour, people would think you were out of your mind.
      I guess another cultural difference is who “the enemy” is. In government, I presume the “enemy” is the other political party. (My org is officially nonpartisan, but of course we know which party tends to be more sympathetic to our issues.) In higher ed administration, unfortunately, “the enemy” is usually the faculty. There’s a stereotype among staff that faculty are lazy, entitled, demanding, full of themselves, overpaid, etc., and that they don’t respect anyone who doesn’t have a Ph.D. (If you’re taking a faculty position, then the enemy will be the staff, whom many of the faculty see as bureaucratic, focused on rules rather than productivity, stupid and/or undereducated, etc.) Note that this shouldn’t be the case – staff and faculty ultimately have the same goals. It’s just a cultural thing.
      I guess another major cultural difference is whom you’re interacting with regularly. In government, you’re probably used to interacting mostly with other professionals, who abide by (or are learning to abide by) office norms. In higher ed, you’ll be working with lots of 18-22 year-olds and/or grad students who are still in the student mindset.
      In general, you’ll need to get used to things happening more slowly. This is partly because everything in academia is more laid back, and partly because faculty and students both tend to have strange working hours and different timelines and priorities than office-based people have.

      1. squids

        Thanks, this is helpful! I should have mentioned that I’m regional government rather than national, so we’re actually reasonably chill already. :)

  36. Natalie

    Does anyone know how the online-only QuickBooks compares to the version(s) I might find in an office? I’m finding a lot of places want QuickBooks familiarity and my company is too big to use it, so I’ve been thinking about getting the free trial and at least going through some tutorials. But it’s sort of a waste of time if they’re quite a bit different.

    1. Anon Accountant

      Online quick books is more touchy than desktop. It’s harder to navigate, more tedious to reconcile cash and is a PITA versus desktop quick books.

      Can you tell I’m not a fan of online?

        1. Accountant

          They look nothing alike. It’s like working in two completely different programs. I hate the online one too.

          That said, it’s probably not a complete waste of time to learn how to use it.

    2. Kristinemc

      I think transitioning from online QB to desktop QB would be better than not knowing QB at all, however, they are *very* different.

      When I started my position a few years ago, they were using online QB, and it was a bit of a shock to me, although I was quite familiar with desktop QB.

      You can also look at youtube desktop QB videos, which would probably show you some of the differences.

    3. MKT

      I use both at my work(the owner has multiple companies)
      My complex companies are QB desktop(job tracking/costing is something that can’t be done online) and my simpler ones are QB Online. I will say that I prefer online, it’s more intuitive. There are a few negatives to it, but in general I’ve found the desktop version to be clunky, both in graphics and in usability.
      I also will say that I probably would’t dislike the desktop version as much if I didn’t also get to use the online version.
      Either way: if you can use one, you can use the other and if you have a decent grasp of how accounting works(as in: money comes in, money goes out) then either version won’t be difficult to learn. I learned QB Online without ever having used it before and only using QB desktop sparingly.

    4. Anon Accountant

      I like the desktop version to learn on. Set up a sample company, post checks, deposits, reconcile cash, etc. I think you will find it user friendly and the support forums are great and very helpful if you get stuck. (Relied on them several times and they are awesome).

      A sample company is great to learn on and online seems very different from desktop quick books.

  37. Dr. Johnny Fever

    Thank you everyone for your advice last week re: how to address the affect of my husband’s recent prostate cancer diagnosis on work life.

    I talked to my boss on Monday after a difficult weekend. Turns out he is very understanding and empathetic. It felt much better to discuss how I’m feeling and where I think I’m affected, and brainstorm some delegation systems to prepare for whatever comes, even if it’s just for me to take a day off to breathe or deal with a bad day.

    He also took a few monkeys I had been feeding and lifted them to our VP to address, to take some stress off of me.

    I felt much much better after the conversation and his assurance that this stays between us. I took the rest of the day off, per his urging, and sorted through a few things in my mind after removing that block.

    One step at a time, right? I have my own anxiety issues and I’m working through those. I have a dear childhood friend whose husband was diagnosed 15 years ago, and we’re going to talk about her experience with adjusting to the insecurity. We have access to literall some of the best medical care my husband can receive and we’re both building support networks. Thanks to you guys, I’m feeling more hopeful.

    Re: my fears on career impact, I think that was some irrational panic. I have seen this behavior I described, but in reflection, this was in a specific org that I have left and has been blown apart since I was there. I’m in a new area where I may not need to be concerned at all. I’ve held it together for months going through the tests; one could argue that knowing what I face at work should make things easier to handle from here.

    1. F.

      I don’t have anything to add that is work-related, but I wanted to tell you that my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer nearly 13 years ago. He opted for “watchful waiting”, which was an option in his case. He has, so far, not needed medical intervention after the initial biopsy beyond monitoring his PSA levels. The only advice I would give is to educate yourself on your husband’s case in particular and the various treatment options available if treatment becomes necessary. Not all doctors are up-to-date on the latest techniques and research. If you don’t like what one doctor has to offer, find another. We did.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        Thank you. I read this before my husband came home from his appt today to discuss options. I asked him about his specific numbers so I could relate what I had read.

        Knowledge is power! Knowing specifics help me since I’m a data-driven gal, but I don’t think I would have asked if you hadn’t suggested it.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

      This is good news. Repeating what I said previously: You’ve built up a lot of goodwill in your bank, drawing on it now is okay, it really really is. :-)

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        To continue today’s Wakeen/Fever Lovefest – thank you for this statement last week. It was a large factor in my decision to disclose to my boss and accept his help.

    3. J.B.

      I’m glad your boss has been helpful so far. And I’m sorry it’s so overwhelming but glad that you have better support than you expected. Best wishes to both of you.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I am very happy to hear this update about your work. That is great.

      Warm thoughts going out to you and your hubby. Please keep us posted, as you can.

  38. OwnedByTheCat

    Open thread!

    I’m feeling very lucky – I applied to my first out-of-state job (the relocation is feeling official) and got a request for a phone interview within 4 hours. It’s at an affiliate of a company I’ve worked at before, so my knowledge and experience is certainly a plus for me.

    We’ve talked so much on here about not getting emotionally invested in jobs once you’ve applied. Apply, and move on. I get it. But now that I’m applying and interviewing, I’ve mentally packed my bags, moved to a new city, and started the new job.

    For those of you who’ve relocated and had a prolonged job search, how do you move on and stay focused on the job search,not the imaginary job you *could* have?

    1. Confused

      Keep applying seriously, just everyday keep looking and if you get invited back, then great. Doing things like tennis help me because it focuses my mind not just my body ! Maybe that’s just me ! Also helps with job hunting frustration !

    2. overeducated and underemployed

      It’s so hard! I think the only way to do it is to find another imaginary job to get excited about and get on with the applying. Having multiple irons in the fire keeps you from getting too obsessive about any one.

  39. Audiophile

    My office move came and went. And it’s resulted in me getting less work done, because the consultant doesn’t have a proper desktop, so I’ve been giving mine up for chunks at a time.

    I’ve also been tasked with helping pick the donor database, because the current one is up for renewal and hasn’t been used virtually at all. Has anyone used DonorPro? Heard of it, good or bad?

  40. Christina

    My manager is *losing* it. I think our new director is finally figuring out how bad crazy is though. My favorite examples from this week:

    – I work on a Communications team, and when I gave edits (including some significant corrections) to an email to VPs this week one of my other colleagues (manager’s favorite and best friend) wrote, and the changes didn’t get made, I asked my manager why. Her response “Well, were you asked to give edits?”…let me repeat, I work on a *Communications team.*

    – She literally will not allow me and one of my other team members to talk to our colleagues without telling her first (and if we do tell her first it’s “why do you need to talk to them? tell me and i’ll talk with their manager”). This week, she wouldn’t allow one of my teammates to talk to another director or their freelance designer when we were asking for their help designing something–information was only allowed to go through my manager. She wouldn’t even copy teammate on the email to other director.

    – We proposed a new idea for making our support better and she flipped out that we talked to the person who would be doing the support to make sure they were interested before we shared the idea with her. Apparently we should have gone to other person’s manager first (though if we had done that, we would have been lambasted for going around her). Keep in mind, no work on this idea has been done (though this is about as low-impact as it gets). She said she’d present the idea at a dept leadership mtg, but of course framed it as a done deal that we didn’t tell anyone about. Thankfully everyone (including the new director) sees through her, but it’s exhausting to deal with.

      1. Christina

        Try nearly a decade. And the sad thing is, I’ve worked for her for most of it (though it’s only really gotten this bad in the past 1-2 years).

  41. So Very Anonymous

    I have a Skype interview next Thursday for just the kind of job I’ve been hoping to move into. And ha, I have a major zit just on the corner of my mouth! So I feel like I’m in a teen sitcom: will it go away in time for the big danc–I MEAN INTERVIEW?

    1. cold here

      Ha ha, your description made me LOL.

      Good luck! They probably won’t think anything of it. It happens to lots of adults!

    2. KR

      Those are the worst because if you put any makeup on it you always have to worry about it getting on your mouth or coming off with your saliva. Most of my acne is around my mouth.
      Something that works for me is putting ice on it to get the swelling down and making sure that any food residue/grease/whatnot gets washed off it and pat dry immediately after eating. Drying it out with toothpaste works sometimes but can inflame it and make it redder (!!).
      My roommate has Clean n Clear Advantage Spot Treatment which promises to get zits to go down in redness and appearance in 4 hours. It hasn’t been working that dramatically fast for me, but it does seem to help it heal faster by applying it a 1-4 times a day. Then again, that’s for my skin type which is dry but very sensitive to any grease and hormones.
      Good luck!

      1. tk

        My derm suggested that I switch to SLS-free toothpaste (like Tom’s of Maine) when I was only breaking out around my mouth, and that cleared it. Sulfates can aggravate dry acne-prone skin. I know this isn’t work related but figured I’d let you know in case that is impacting yours :)

    3. Elizabeth

      I use a lidocaine gel that is designed for ingrown hair (most common brand is Bikini Zone) to reduce the swelling, then hit it with antibiotic ointment.

      I feel your pain. I’ve got a major pimple breakout going, plus a pair of cold sores. I keep thinking the acne will slow down at some point, given that I’m about to be 44.

    4. So Very Anonymous

      Thanks for suggestions, y’all! I so rarely break out like this that I don’t have anything on hand, just crossing fingers — it’s probably a mix of hormones, stress, and adjusting to diagnosis of chronic illness (I’m fine, it’s type 2 diabetes) which just has everything…. off. I think it’s at its ugliest right now, so hopefully it will resolve, but I might pick something up on the way home tonight. I’ll be doing a practice Skype test with a friend this weekend, so she’ll be able to tell me how noticeable it is :)

    5. Elizabeth West

      Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. It’s a mix of calamine, salicylic acid, and other drying agents. You DON’T shake it up–poke a cotton bud through the liquid to the pink sediment and apply to a whitehead before you go to sleep. It will dry it up overnight.

      I heard about it a long time ago but didn’t try it until recently. It works. You can get it at Ulta.

    6. Sammie

      Put hydrocortisone cream on the spot and then put a band-aid over it. Do this for three nights in a row.

    7. Lulubell

      Yes, it should definitely be gone by then. But to expedite the process: crush up an aspirin (has to be basic aspirin, not Tylenol or Advil) and mix with a drop or two of water to make a paste. Apply to spot. Aspirin has salicylic acid, the active ingredient in most breakout products, and also helps bring down pain and swelling so you are less likely to pick at it. Good luck!

  42. AmyNYC

    My boyfriend found out yesterday that his company was bought by a larger company – it was presented as a good thing, no mention of layoffs or changes, they were told “business as usual.” He’s a bit worried, but it’s also too soon to know how this will play out.
    I’m not in an industry where this is common – does anyone have experience being bought out (or advice on what to do)?

    1. Confused

      Depends on if the company is having financial issues or if there are any red flags before this happened. I have had this happen with a previous work place, nothing happened that made me think the place was in trouble, but I could shake the feeling there was a issue. Started looking for a job, I accepted and handed in my notice 3 months later the company folded. Go with your gut is my advice !

    2. ThatGirl

      I work for a big company that regularly buys other smaller companies.

      For us, at least, it typically has been business as usual for awhile. We want to really understand how the smaller org works and how they fit in on a longer-term scale.

      But there will likely come a time where any “redundant” positions are eliminated or consolidated. For instance we have centralized HR so the smaller companies’ HR departments are gradually eliminated. Ditto payroll. He should try to learn how the larger company operates to the extent he can and extrapolate from there whether his position/department is something that’s needed to add knowledge, or whether it’s something that might be consolidated.

    3. chocolatechipcookie

      Is his job function something that the other company does also? Or does the purchased company do something different? I’m on the other side of the fence, my company bought out another company, which is in a similar business. Even though they didn’t explicitly announce layoffs, it was obvious there would have to be consolidation of shared functions, especially among senior leadership, and that’s what happened, some of them were let go or moved around. If that’s a possibility, then it might be a good idea to quietly job hunt or look into transferring departments or something. It’s also possible there could be some benefits or policy changes, our vacation policy was changed as was insurance. On the other hand, it’s also possible that it really is business as usual and not much will change.

    4. Marketeer

      We frequently purchase and acquire other companies and it really is business as usual. A lot of people leave on their own so the redundancies have generally taken care of themselves. They’re basically only among the shared services like HR, Finance, etc.

    5. Accidental Product Manager

      Company bought by a larger company: been there several times over the past years. Here’s what I can tell you:

      * It’s very common for them to say it’s a good thing and will open new opportunities for everybody, even as they start planning layoffs.

      * For about 3-4 months, everybody who is not in a redundant position (think 2 sales teams when one would suffice) should be fine.

      * After that, all bets are off. Typically nobody knows upfront how things will evolve, but after 3-4 months, I’ve seen even top performers start to get laid off in batches, as the reorganization gets momentum.

      I’d strongly encourage your boyfriend to update his resume and discreetly start reaching out to his network and searching job boards. No need to panic or do anything in haste, but this is not the time to passively wait to see what happens either, because it’s much easier to job hunt and negotiate your next job while you are still employed. Just remember, no matter what the company tells him, his job is not safe right now. Best case scenario, he gets to stay with more opportunities to grow if company is interested in retaining talent like him. Worst case scenario, by the time he’s laid off he already has a couple of great job offers to consider.

  43. Alittleanon

    Considering going over the boss to do SOMETHING about this… I’m new-ish to this office, so I’m still learning personalities. We have a staff member who’s been violently losing his temper in the office over personal matters, usually triggered by a phone call from his (recent) ex-wife. I’ll call him Luke. This week, he was on the phone and before hanging up, he screamed “F*&^ing b#@*&” and threw his phone against the shared wall of his cubicle, then proceeded to continue a flood of curses and vulgar names. (Many of the curses were gendered/sexist… the B and C words, calling the ex a slut and whore. I only mention this because Luke is the lone male of our 10 staff members and our manager is also male.) I’m the backup to our supervisor who was not intervening, so I stepped out to see if I needed to do anything. Luke was already stomping away from his desk. I did a quick check with other staff in the area to see that everyone was OK. Everyone was visibly shaken and the member who shares the cube wall, Lorelai, was crying. She said she was fine and that it was just a result of being startled so she said she’d take a quick walk and be back soon. (When she came back, she asked if she could work in a commuter space further away from the shared wall of the cube. She moved her paperwork and went back to work but was visibly uneasy all day- jumpy and much less talkative than usual.) I found our manager and asked how to proceed; he said, “Yeah, I heard- I’ll talk to him”. I hoped this would resolve the issue.

    About an hour later, Lorelai made a joke that she wished a notoriously difficult caller would get a paper-cut from all the notes he was taking and got a few laughs. Luke said (exactly), “Well I wish I had a gun!” and there were no laughs. I was with a customer who said, “Seriously?” I turned to Luke and asked what he’d said but he refused to repeat it. I excused myself from the customer, walked to the manager and said something like, “This is making me uncomfortable and some of the staff were shaken up after Luke’s blowup. I think it’s time for Luke to go home, he’s not himself today.” The manager told me that I was being too sensitive about the gun joke and that the others were only uncomfortable because Luke was using rough language about women. To me, this shows an alarming pattern and would further support sending Luke home if his temper is uncontrollable. In my mind, the outburst was bad enough- extremely inappropriate, unprofessional, rude to anyone around him. Compounded with the gun comment, I’m really unhappy that this has been brushed off. For two days, I’ve been answering hushed questions and IMs from other concerned staffers that nothing has been done; I’ve told them that our manager is handling it and I can’t discuss details because they are confidential. My only holdup now is that our manager’s supervisor is out until Tuesday of next week and HR is literally 700 miles away with a reputation for passing things back to the lowest level supervisor involved (my manager).

    TL/DR: One employee has a temper issue and joked about wanting a gun, other employees are scared, manager thinks it’s not worth addressing.

    1. AnonInSC

      I agree that this is not ok and something more needs to be done. I don’t know your context, but can everyone suddenly have to work from home/be sick? I honestly think I would leave and not come back until I was assured the threat of violence was gone. This of course makes assumptions about the ability to leave/salary vs hourly work etc.

      I’m sorry – this sounds scary. And the fact that it is clearly not be addressed is disturbing.

      1. AnonInSC

        Damn typos.

        Don’t get me started about the dismissive “only uncomfortable b/c Luke was using rough language about women” comment.

        1. Alittleanon

          Thanks for the feedback- I tried not to dwell on that statement too because I honestly could go on and on and on about how inappropriate THAT was too!!

          Sadly we are customer facing and for a customer base that often has a hard time getting to us, so the staff wouldn’t want to close the place down. I’ve just found out I’ll be flying solo as the manager is taking off next week. If Luke has any further meltdowns/blowups/flares, I’ll take him aside and ask for him to leave… then call the HR group since they can’t pass the issue back to me.

        2. catsAreCool

          Yeah “the others were only uncomfortable because Luke was using rough language about women.” was bothering me too.

    2. Nynaeve

      If I’m reading this correctly, Luke made the gun comment in front of a customer?! That may be worth addressing as well: “Luke is making violent, inappropriate comments in front of the customers and it is making them uncomfortable.” Maybe that will carry more weight for them?

      1. KR

        Yeah, the fact that this was in front of a customer is standing out to me. Good customer service is keeping things non-complicated, friendly, and non-controversial.

    3. LisaLee

      Do you have an HR department? Go to them. This is ridiculous.

      If you have to bring it up to your boss again, I would say something like, “This is not about language. This is about Luke not being able to control his temper, throwing things, and screaming. It’s inappropriate for the office and everyone is uncomfortable. I’ve also had clients tell me they are bothered by it.”

      I wouldn’t play up the gun thing as much because even though I agree its serious, your boss would probably just blow it off as a bad joke. And point out that customers are noticing this. He should care about that, even if he doesn’t care about his employees’ comfort.

    4. Artemesia

      With mention of the gun, I would have gone above the manager. People shoot people in the workplace. People with this kind of lack of sense of appropriate behavior and temper are those people. A CLIENT for god’s sake was shocked by this. I am not returning to a business where a worker is making this kind of remark.

      The tantrum should have resulted in a suspension on the spot and alerts to security. Your manager is an idiot.

      1. Jade

        Exactly. If anyone at my workplace said something like that in front of a customer, they’d be suspended, probably fired, and security would be watching that they not be allowed on grounds again.

    5. Book Person

      “The others were only uncomfortable because Luke was using rough language about women.”

      What.
      The.
      Actual.
      Hell.

      The whole thing is horrible and you should definitely go over your managers head if he isn’t going to take this seriously, but this comment leapt out in particular. Like, gee, why won’t these silly women just get over a man yelling vicious, hate-charged words about a woman in a workplace, throwing things, and then talking about getting a weapon to deal with annoyances? Your manager should ALSO feel uncomfortable about one of his staff members throwing around the C-word in any work context. Go over his head, because he doesn’t seem particularly invested in managing.

      1. the_scientist

        All of this, plus as others have pointed out- the manager doesn’t have an issue with customers hearing these threats??

    6. JL

      Definitively go over your boss’s head on this one. The angry outburst on its own would have been worth a reprimand, but the gun comment takes the cake.

      1. Isben Takes Tea

        I would definitely go over the boss’s head, though for me it’s not about the reprimand necessarily, but flagging this as violent behavior that it is *affecting employees’ abilities to do their jobs* AND affecting customers.

    7. Elizabeth West

      OMG I just literally finished this training like a half hour ago. This is definitely reportable.

      I would absolutely go straight to HR. This is not some low-level thing and they need to get it on record. They may be able to contact the supervisor too.

    8. New Math

      Your boss may have followed up with Luke later. There is no way for you to know. Behavioral issues often take time to correct. I would keep alerting your boss of any other incidences, but I would not jump over his head until I had given him an opportunity to shift this behavior.
      As a manager, I have had employees report undesirable behaviors in co-workers (not THIS bad), and they seem to think I have a magic wand. It can take a series of conversations with a badly behaved employee to move the employee toward either change or out the door.

      1. LisaLee

        I think you would have a point if the OP’s boss hadn’t been so clearly dismissive of her concern. It would be one thing if he said “I’m aware of the situation and working on it” but to call her and her coworkers too sensitive? Nah, I’d be going to HR.

      2. Observer

        No. The boss’ reaction was incredibly inappropriate and he has not indicated that he intends to do anything about it. Given that ALittleAnon is the person who has to deal with it, would have been appropriate for him to at least give her a heads up if he was doing something. But, he hasn’t.

        Both Luke’s behavior and the supervisor’s response need to be addressed.

      3. Alittleanon

        I see your point but I work longer hours than my manager and with an open office, I can guarantee that he did not do anything to counsel Luke last week.

    9. Dynamic Beige

      Aside from what everyone else said… would it be useful at this point to get some form of written statement from the other employees who witnessed or were affected by his behaviour? If not to hand in to HR right now, just as documentation for the next time this happens. Maybe Manager would see this is a problem if it wasn’t “just an isolated incident.”

      Also, does your company offer any sort of counselling benefit? It sounds like Luke should have been going to one about a year ago (at least). Perhaps if there is one it should be mentioned to him along with whatever forms he would need to fill out to apply for it (or whatever).

    10. Observer

      So, let me get this straight:

      1. The guy throws something at the wall while using a stream of language that doesn’t belong in the workplace, and all the supervisor has to say is “I’ll talk to him”
      2. The supervisor thinks that the language that Luke is using is making the rest of the staff uncomfortable because he is “using rough language about women” – and it’s OK.
      3. Luke made a joke about wanting a gun AROUND A CUSTOMER – who clearly was also uncomfortable, and that didn’t bother the supervisor.

      You DEFINITELY need to kick this upstairs. Make sure your supervisor’s supervisor is in the loop if you go straight to HR. Not that you expect her to intervene, but if she has an email (say the cc of the email you send to HR), she’ll at least have some context and information to work with.

  44. Junior

    I’ve been applying for junior-level creative jobs at advertising agencies (currently a junior and looking to make a horizontal move to a more production-heavy shop), and I’m wondering about the best way to go about that. If a job is posted in their system, is it wrong to reach out to their hiring managers / creative directors too? Should I just apply in the system and hope for the best? Should I start with the managers first then apply? Any advice would be a HUGE help!

    1. fposte

      If you know the managers, it’s fine to reach out to them along with putting an application in the system. But if you don’t know them, leave ’em alone; they set up the application system because that’s what they want you to use.

    1. Winter is Coming

      Funny you should bring that up, we were just discussing that here the other day! I think it depends on their role in the company, and their level of involvement in confidential and disciplinary matters, and how much power they have. Generally speaking though, as an HR person, I don’t think it’s a good idea.

      1. esra

        Lots of power on our small HR team. I found out they’re dating my dept’s VP :\

        It raised my eyebrow, but I wondered if I was being too conservative.

  45. Charm Quark

    I am in a position to approve salaries for a state government contract that I manage – including approving raises and the salaries for new hires. Recently, a really top notch employee of this contract was put forth for a 10% raise, and I approved. In the process, I observed that her new salary remained significantly lower than that of people in similar positions at her organization, and certainly less than I think she deserves on the open market. Obviously, it would be inappropriate for me to say anything to her, but part of me wants to say, “Dude, your salary is not fairly aligned with your position. You should demand more!”

    But man it sucks to see income discrepancies laid right out in front of you. People are not payed what they are worth; they are paid based on their previous salary or by what they can negotiate when they switch jobs. Even though “job hopping” can be seen as a negative thing, relatively frequent job changes (every 2 years or so) will absolutely serve to increase one’s salary over being dedicated to a single company.

    Is it unethical, whether you are in HR, or a managerial position, or a contract manager, to see blatant salary discrepancies and do nothing about it?

    1. Artemesia

      I was once in this place. I was an interim manager and found that the person who had created the product that had saved the company was paid grossly less than people doing similar work. It was happenstance of longevity with new salaries rising faster than old ones, a merger where the new organization paid more but people came in under the old rules etc etc. I was able to get him 30% over 3 years which didn’t make him fairly paid in my eyes, but made him happy and a lot closer to fairly paid. I do think one is morally obligated to right this kind of pay injustice and particularly so where a minority or woman is involved and therefore some hidden discrimination may be involved.

    2. Anne S

      I was only able to get my salary up to par with my (male) colleagues when our outgoing manager (who was out of shits to give) told me on his last day, “you are paid less, and I’ve tried and I’ve tried and can’t get the VP to approve it.” The VP was fired a week later for unrelated reasons, and because I had that knowledge I was able to force a change with the new leadership, which I don’t think would have happened otherwise.

    3. NJ Anon

      I am in finance at a nonprofit. I manage contracts. I just emailed my ED and told her that one of our best employees was making less then other “not our best” employees and that I recommended she at least get a raise to their level. Haven’t heard anything back but I cc’d best employee’s immediate supervisor and she thanked me. Hopefully something will be done at raise/review time.

  46. Confused

    Hi all,

    I was wondering as a long term reader/lurker if you could give me some advice ? I’m based in the UK and my company gives us Q bonus from a profit share (LLP) if we have hit our profit targets for the previous Q . Every July and Jan (the money doesn’t actually come in until end of Jan/Feb) The amount you get is based on your position, how long you have been there, if MD likes you Ect. My work place is v highly disfunctional so I have found another position. My manager amended my bonus because it wasn’t inline with others within the team which gave me a 70%increase. Lovely. I was given a letter confirming my new amount and paid it on the end of Jan. The problem is I handed my notice in on the 1st of Feb (I interviewed for a job I never thought I would get and got the offer that day) I handed in my notice now I have been informed I have to give the bonus back and they will take it from next months pay which basically means for my 4 week notice period I’m not being paid. The bonus was supposedly for the past 6months work I contributed too.I know it’s probably not illegal but did I do something wrong here ? They have made me feel awful about handing my notice and telling me they feel betrayed. Can they penalise me for handing in my notice ? Any help or advice would be welcome ?

    1. brandy

      No specific help since I don’t know the UK law. I went through something similar in the US and here’s what I learned:
      1. check your contract/employee agreement/ any official documentation that goes over the terms of the bonus. there may be claw-back wording in it and if so, you are out of luck.
      2. regulations can be (here in the US) state specific. In my state, there is case law that would allow you, absent a document stating otherwise, to keep the bonus assuming it was based on prior work.
      3. again, don’t know the rules in the UK but what if you shortened your notice period?

    2. Hazel Asperg

      Another UK poster here.

      I’d have a look over your contract – and any company documents, if relevant – to see what it says about bonuses.

  47. Anna

    Three weeks ago I was laid off from my job due to the economy. Fortunately my field is one that there’s a higher demand than supply of job seekers, so I have successfully received an offer in the .NET Web Development field. However, the offer was basically matching my previous salary, which was six thousand dollars under the bottom of the range that I asked for. I’ve been working with many recruiters and with my experience I’m mid-senior level in my field and the feedback I’ve been getting is that the range of salary I was asking was very reasonable.

    My question is this. When I received the offer, the manager stated that they “looked at the market and the experience level of the team” and felt that the offer they made me was fair. How do I respond to that? The other benefits weren’t spectacular. By citing the experience level of the team I feel like they took my ability to negotiate away as I can say nothing about that. The position is one where I wouldn’t really be working with anyone on the team so I’m not sure how it’s even relevant. Shouldn’t my salary reflect my skills and experience and not other peoples salaries and experience?

    1. Confused

      When I have had that happen to me I often side step wheat they have said and ask is there any wiggle room on that number ? They phrase it like that so you don’t feel like you can ask! But you must ask, as a female I always feel bad about it but speaking to my male co workers they certainly don’t !

    2. Christian Troy

      I ran into this with a job offer last year and the term is internal equity. Basically, it comes down to that you will not be making more than other people in the same or similar roles as to not cause discord between employees. In my situation, I was told that they hired someone in a very similar role the month earlier with the same degree and who also was relocating from a different state. She did not negotiate salary so they said I could not make more than her. I have no idea what her experience was like or wasn’t like, but based on information I found out later through LinkedIn, it seems like they were hiring people with unrelated experience but had a master’s.

      Anyway, I agree with you but there isn’t much room to work around that IME. It rubs me the wrong way a lot that people do this though.

  48. Doriana Gray

    So this is the end of my fourth week in my new job and, yeah…I’m kind of over it. All I want to do is read books all day. I like what I do, I find the field fascinating, but I’m starting to think I find it fascinating more from an academic perspective than from an actual work perspective. I’m frustrated with a lot of our processes and their redundancies, they’ve got me working other people’s diaries for file closings which, I get why they’re doing it (the back end of our files and how we handle them are the most important part of the job), but it’s been an inefficient use of my time so far because my coworkers may have already worked their file and just didn’t note it for whatever reason so then I’ve just duplicated their effort for no reason. And I’m overanalyzing everything and second guessing myself all day long.

    I wish I didn’t have student loans out the ass, otherwise, I’d just quit.

    1. catsAreCool

      Start making notes about inefficiencies and about possible ways to improve the process. You might want to wait a while before suggesting improvements – not everyone is thrilled when a new person wants to change things, and you may know more about why the process is the way it is after a few months.

      However, for me anyway, writing this stuff down helps, and it gives me a chance to think about it and maybe come up with better ideas to make things better, so that when I do get a chance, I can say something helpful.

      One thing about ideas – in my experience, the ideas that are received well are ideas that will benefit the people hearing the ideas and won’t cost them much in time/money. Also, at first simple ideas are usually better.

      1. Doriana Gray

        This is good advice, thanks! The good thing is, they know a lot of their processes are inefficient and redundant so they’ve formed a committee to talk about these things and try to come up with solutions. I’m friends with one of the people on the committee and thought about telling her some of the things I’ve noticed that need to be changed, but then I decided against it because we’re friends and I just feel weird bringing it up. I don’t know why, I just feel like I shouldn’t be using our personal relationship to push an agenda.

  49. Jill of All Trades

    My company is being acquired and my team has been dropping like flies, including my manager who departed over a month ago and the directors haven’t figured out who will be my manager now. So with all the chaos, instead of investing in trying to keep us from leaving early, they’ve decided to go the arbitrary asshole behavior route, thus it’s time for me to go. I’m meeting with a recruiter at lunch today-wish me luck!

  50. friendlyinitials

    Hi! This week a got a callback from a job I applied to a few months ago for patent work. The man who contacted me told me that before the interview they needed to asses my language skills so he sent over a short paragraph for me to translate as soon as I was able. I got back to him within the hour with the translation, and told him again about my interest and how I’d love to set up an interview. It’s been two days and there was not even any indication that he received my reply. Should I send another email, or wait for at least a full week to pass?

      1. friendlyinitials

        Yeah, you’re right. I’ve been unemployed for a long time and this was the first callback I got in over a month so I’m a little(!) overexcited :)

  51. GOG11

    Hi all! As I’ve mentioned in an open thread or two before, I work at a university and work with my student workers to learn about Ask-A-Manager-type topics of their choosing. One of my current student workers chose to work on her resume, and I provided her with the how to rewrite your resume to focus on accomplishments article (link to follow).

    She was wondering how to balance accomplishments vs job duties, specifically, how to gauge whether or not someone can infer certain experiences or responsibilities from your job title (which is something I struggle with). I know some jobs are pretty narrowly defined, but others cover a wide range of possible duties, and it’s difficult to know when you’re a student or just starting out which jobs are pretty standard and well understood and which ones require more explanation (or maybe they just don’t regardless?). Any advice, about this or about how to go from the master resume to one tailored for a specific opening, would be welcome! Thanks in advance.

    1. Oy

      I haven’t necessarily had accomplishments in many of my jobs (general admin work) so I at least will try to quantify my duties on the resume: “Managed reception for high-activity financial office with up to 40 appointments, 50+ calls, and several walk-ins daily. Administratively supported up to 30 staff members.”

    2. KR

      I struggle with this too. I don’t have a lot of accomplishments that I feel like I can lay claim to at work, though I do a lot. I think it’s partly impostor syndrome.

    3. themmases

      As a grad assistant my title and employer are also quite vague (“research assistant” in a 30,000 student university). I tend to give each job 2-3 bullet points of accomplishments, followed by one point similar to Oy’s that fills in any missing information or frames the general scope of work as an accomplishment.

      It is great to be able to put a number on something if you can, but really an accomplishment is anything that demonstrates or justifies an employer’s confidence in you. These will also do a nice job of showing what your job duties were as long as the jobs you’re applying to are relevant. It might help to frame an accomplishment as something you were excited to get to do: a stretch assignment, doing more than you thought you could, gaining new mastery.

      For example, both of these were were firsts for me, but I thought they were just part of my job duties until my boss urged me to rewrite them as accomplishments:
      – “Built the database and reporting system that the [local organization] will use to report evaluation data to [prestigious government funder]”
      – “Led the [local organization]’s participation in the pilot of a new [prestigious government funder] data collection instrument”

      I usually put these in order of impressiveness, whether they are complete or still in progress, and whether I would be willing to be hired to do the same thing again. Usually that means the scope of work bullet point goes last. And if I hated a particular task, that usually disqualifies it from being listed even if I was great at it. (Unless I was desperate for a job or the task is just a fact of life in my field.)

  52. LibbyG

    Just a funny story:

    Last summer I was driving on campus (where I work) and I saw a co-worker that I don’t see often riding a bike. I wave and, to my shock, he blows me a kiss! He’s an actual, aware, grown-up: why on earth would he do that? I then realized that I had been rubbing lip balm on my lips right before I waved at him, so it must have looked like I had blown him a kiss. He has young kids; he probably returns blown kisses without even thinking about it. It’s never come up, so either he promptly forgot about it or we have a silent agreement to never mention it.

    Any other funny stories like that to enliven our Friday?

    1. KR

      I’m nearly 22 now and have worked at my current job since I was 16 and just kept moving up in responsibility. So I’ve had some embarrassing moments through the years as I got used to the professional world.
      Once I was out in town getting lunch and saw someone on one of the committees I filmed. We chatted about her son who was in college for IT and what the committee was up to and good places to eat in town and in a foot in mouth moment I hugged her goodbye for some reason?? I didn’t know why I did it but I’m thinking something in her body language signaled to my body to hug that person even though the situation didn’t warrant it. We haven’t really talked as closely since, haha.

    2. LibbyG

      I just remembered my other funny-harmless-misunderstanding story:

      While in my early 20s was working for a small organization, and the director, Fergus, was out for a couple days due to a surgery. Surgery for what, someone asked the deputy director. “Well, if Fergus wants you to know, he’ll tell you.” OK, so something sorta sensitive I guess. When Fergus returned I said something vague about how I was glad it all went well, and Fergus (who can be mildly inappropriate at times) replied, “I’m just glad my voice didn’t change.” I must have looked flustered as I high-tailed it out of his office, because a couple minutes later he came to my desk and said, “Libby, I had surgery on my THROAT.” We’ve been laughing about that conversation for years.

    3. Cath in Canada

      In an old job in Glasgow I once walked past a colleague who was standing by the main front door, as I was heading for the stairs up to the lab area. The door was glass, and the bike rack was right outside the door. This colleague and I both usually biked to work. He was clearly waiting for someone to come down from the lab area.

      What he said to me: “if you see that Mikey-boy upstairs, can you tell him to move his fat arse”

      What I heard: “see that bike of yours outside? You can tell it’s made for a fat arse”

      I said “WHAT?!” in a rather startled and angry tone. He repeated himself, looking scared. We had a good laugh about it!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I am laughing out loud at this and Ismis’s below. I find misheard words/wrong words hilarious when they create awkwardness (I have been known to cry from laughing at DamnYouAutocorrect).

        1. Ismis

          Oh – I also once replied all with a smartass comment… to 600 people.

          It took ten years but I can finally think about that one without shame!

        2. Cath in Canada

          My best non-work Mondegreen was when the local news were talking about a pellet gun attack. I turned to my husband in astonishment and said “but there aren’t any pelicans in Vancouver!”

        3. Elizabeth West

          Oh God, I don’t DARE read DamnYouAutocorrect posts at work. I can’t stop myself from going into hysterics. One time I was at Exjob reading one on some downtime, and the person was trying to type “cheez-its” and instead it substituted “cheese t1ts.” I could not stop laughing and people kept asking me if I was okay.

          In fact, now I’m laughing just thinking about it!

        4. MsChandandlerBong

          I’m hard of hearing, so I have a lot of good stories about misheard words. I couldn’t understand why my husband kept saying there were punch bowls under our bed. Turns out he was saying punch holes (the little circles from the hole puncher). Me, while watching TV: “Who is Tube Top Jones?” Husband: “Two tough JOES. It’s a G.I. Joe joke.”

        5. Tomato Frog

          When I was in high school I wore pajamas to school one day, to protest having to come to school on a Saturday. I wanted them to look as pajama-y as possible, so I borrowed plaid pants and a plaid bathrobe from a friend. My t-shirt had a mildly cheesecakey picture of a woman looking upward, with hearts over her head.

          I was passing one of my teachers in the hall and she smiled at me and said, “I see you like chicks.” I thought that was a weird thing to say, but the teacher was a nice woman so I laughed and looked down at my shirt and said, “Well, she likes me.” The teacher looked a little confused and we continued on our ways.

          A few minutes later I realized she had said “checks.” She was Australian.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        Along the same lines… I found out a coworker that I didn’t work with that often had a really large cat, like over 20lbs large. The comment I made to the person who told me was “that’s not a cat, that’s an ottoman.” Anyway, a few days later the large-cat-owning coworker happened to be in my area and I said to her “I hear you’ve got a big-ass cat” in what I thought was a friendly tone (because who doesn’t like to talk about cats). She looked at me like I’d just called her every bad name in the book and said “WHAT?!” I said “Uh… your cat. I hear he’s really big?” She started laughing because she had just heard the big-ass part, and missed the “cat”.

    4. Ismis

      I needed a signature from my boss, so I went to his office and said “Can I have your John Thomas on this?” I didn’t twig anything until there was a 5 second pause and he said, “I think you mean Hancock….”

    5. Anonymous Coward

      I was in a team meeting, making my first major presentation on a project I’d been spending a couple months on. Although my manager, Gracie, and I had discussed her requirements in-depth, the other team members needed filling in. So as I hit the high point of my slideshow — “Most importantly, Vendor X offers ABC, which was Gracie’s big ask” — my manager jumps up and shrieks, “What did you say about my big ass???” I think she literally misheard me and was shocked enough to blurt that out… everyone in the room found it hilarious, but I was mortified.

    6. AnotherFed

      In my very first office job interview, I was asked “If you had one wish, what would it be?” I couldn’t think of anything and thought it would be dumb to say “this job,” so I did the beauty-pageant answer of “World Peace!” It was a defense contractor. I did not get the job.

    7. So Very Anonymous

      From the other side: I was working as a tour guide at a historical house museum. The tour began in the house’s music room, which had a number of musical instruments and a music stand. A teenage boy pointed at the music stand and asked “Does that still work?” Well… it was standing up, there was sheet music on it, the sheet music wasn’t falling? He was insulted when I stammered that I wasn’t sure what he meant. To this day I wish that there’d been a breeze at that moment that wafted the music off the stand, so that I could have said briskly, “Not anymore!” and just carried on with the tour, but I didn’t have the presence of mind.

      1. Tomato Frog

        When I was a teenager, I got a tour of a US Navy flagship. The young man giving the tour was showing us the helm, which was huge and shiny and brass. I asked, “What do you use it for?” He looked taken aback and said, very slowly, “To steer the ship.”

        I had just assumed that steering a ship of that size was done with computers, and the helm was so nice-looking I figured it had to be ceremonial. I was on the tour with a girl I babysat and she thought it was hilarious.

        1. TootsNYC

          When I toured the US Iowa many years ago, they had all the semaphore flags lining those wires from stern and bow to the center “mast,” or whatever.

          I asked one of the sailors what they said, and he explained that they were signal flags. “Yes, I know,” I said. “I’m wondering if they say anything specific.”

          He looked at them, looked at me, looked at his partner, looked and me, and then sang, “A B C D E F G….” Not my screwup, but funny!

    8. Linden

      Last year, I was presenting the results of a major project to a group of people senior enough that it was a very big deal that we were able to get five of them in the same room. About halfway through the Q&A, they asked about a feature we were implementing but that wasn’t quite ready for prime time yet.

      You know that thing that happens when you try to say two things at the same time and end up somewhere in the middle? I tried to say both “We’re working on that” and “We’re still tweaking that”. It came out as “We’re still twerking on that.”

  53. Anon for this one

    I work with someone who it seems pretty obvious has an eating disorder. It’s a combination of what she looks like, the fact that she NEVER orders lunch with the group when the team is working through lunch and can expense a meal (in fact, I’ve never seen her ingest anything except the occasional skinny latte) — a couple of times she has said she doesn’t want food because she feels nauseated — and that she will sometimes go into the ladies’ room and turn around and head right back out if she sees anyone else in there.

    I feel like it’s not my place to try and help her, but I also worry about her. (I also think it makes clients uncomfortable, especially when she brings high-calorie snacks to a meeting and won’t eat any herself.)

    WWYD, hivemind?

    1. Jinx

      Personally, I think your gut is right – it isn’t your place to address it with her. Maybe I don’t have the entire situation, but I don’t see why clients would be uncomfortable by her bringing snacks to a meeting and not eating any. If you are close friends with her, I might see asking “I noticed you aren’t eating much lately, is everything alright?”, but if you are just coworkers that probably isn’t a good idea.

      It’s possible that she does have an eating disorder, but maybe she doesn’t – there are other reasons why someone might be thin and not each much during the day, like specialized diets, health conditions, personal preference. Either way, I don’t think there’s a way to bring it up as a coworker that doesn’t come across as nosy or overly forward.

      1. Doriana Gray

        Yeah, I’m thin (to the point where coworkers say something about it all.the.time) and I have celiac disease. Some days I’m just not that hungry, so I don’t eat anything at work. I’d hate to think people were thinking I had an eating disorder, and it would be even worse if someone pulled me aside and said something. I’d be very offended.

    2. Amtelope

      Leave it alone. You can’t reasonably say to someone “you need to eat lunch” or “you shouldn’t bring snacks and then not eat them.” (Although you can say “let’s skip the snacks for these meetings” if you’re in a role where it makes sense for you to make that decision, and no one else is interested in eating them.) And, really, there are a number of things that could be going on with her health — you just don’t know, and I don’t think there’s anything here that suggests that prying into this is a good idea.

    3. friendlyinitials

      I agree that it’s not your place to talk to her about this. If she has an ED, this stuff is difficult to talk about even with people close to you, she will probably get very defensive if you approach her about it. What you could do is not make any comments about her weight/how she looks and her eating habits. I’ve been dealing with an ED myself for the past 5 years and even when people say nice things in their eyes, like “you are so thin!” “congratulations on losing so much weight!” “you are so lucky ou can eat anything you want and still be thin!” it usually makes me very very uncomfortable to hear those things.

    4. AnotherTeacher

      Chiming in to agree with the other replies so far…

      While it seems like your suspicions are likely to be true, there’s also likely nothing you can say or do, unless she comes to you for help. Assuming she has an eating disorder of some sort, commenting on her eating habits will make her more self-conscious. Another possibility is that she has a health issue like IBS and doesn’t want to risk a reaction at work.

      It sounds like you would be an empathetic audience should she choose to discuss the matter.

    5. KR

      I’ll echo the others here and say I don’t think there’s a good way to bring it up unless you were close friends with her. She could also have a lot of gastrointestinal problems that make sharing a bathroom awkward and involve dietary restrictions.

    6. C Average

      Leave it alone. Trust me, nothing you say will be helpful; if anything, you saying something is likely to transform work from a place where the polite fiction that she’s functional and normal is preserved to a place where she feels she is being scrutinized and deemed defective. You can’t help her, so don’t attempt to. Her family MIGHT be able to help her, a close friend MIGHT be able to help her, a good therapist MIGHT be able to help her–if they’re lucky and if they choose the right time and the right words, and if they’re coming from a place of sincere compassion.

      We’ve been dealing with this stuff in my family for the past year. It’s tough.

    7. Headachey

      As someone who has been in your coworker’s position, I can say that an attempt at an intervention from you or another colleague could be actively traumatic. Whether she has an eating disorder or not, it’s none of your business. Please don’t talk about her eating with her. Please don’t talk about her eating with other coworkers, either.

      It may seem very odd, but even years later, essentially recovered from ED, I can’t really say what might be helpful for her. Certainly nothing anyone else said or did was helpful for me – it took time and my own willingness to start trying to heal for me to begin recovery. It was terrifying for those around me because I was very, very ill – and I’m sure your concern is coming from a compassionate, caring place. But please just leave her alone unless she asks for help.

      1. Ad Astra

        The thing about eating disorders is that, when you’re in the thick of it, anything your friends and family say will be construed as critical, and your eating disorder will use it as fuel. If they say you look great, you’ll interpret it to mean you look fat, which justifies your behavior. If they say you look sick, you’ll interpret that to mean you’re getting closer to your goal weight, which somehow also justifies your behavior. Comments about your body justify the starving/purging/whatever it is. Yet a compliment about your talents or personality is obviously an attempt to make you feel better about your horrible body, which justifies the starving/purging/whatever it is.

        At least that’s how it was for me. I didn’t start getting better until I started building some self esteem and got tired of feeling crappy all the time. Nothing anyone said made any difference. And my case was really not very severe.

        1. Oryx

          “The thing about eating disorders is that, when you’re in the thick of it, anything your friends and family say will be construed as critical, and your eating disorder will use it as fuel.”

          Yes yes yes. I once had a complete meltdown ugly cry freak out in the middle of an airport because of a very innocuous comment my mom made regarding my lunch.

    8. Not me

      It actually sounds to me like she has a physical health problem.

      Eating disorders are extremely serious (anorexia and bulimia are statistically the deadliest mental illnesses, at 10%), and treatment or help “gone wrong” is dangerous. Leave it to her and medical professionals. If she’s saying she feels sick, suggesting that she see a doctor is about as far as you can go.

      1. Not me

        (Note I didn’t include BED or EDNOS because I don’t happen to remember the statistics on those. I’m not saying anorexia and bulimia are the only EDs or that they are the “worst.”)

    9. Ad Astra

      The other advice offered is pretty good, so here’s what I have to add: Try to act normal/neutral about food and weight issues. That means not bringing up “good” or “bad” foods or your diet or feeling fat or any of those things people sometimes find themselves talking about at work. Don’t do anything (like praising her for eating) that suggests you’re paying attention to her body or eating habits — comments like that can be very triggering for people with EDs.

      Beyond that, just be supportive. Ask how she’s doing, the same way you might ask any other coworker. Compliment things about her that are unrelated to her body — her sense of humor, her thoughtfulness, whatever makes sense. Let work be a place for her to feel normal and in control, because those are two feelings that people with eating disorders struggle with.

      1. Anon for this one

        This is for all commenters…

        Thanks for this. That’s what I thought — that I shouldn’t say anything because it’s not my place — but it’s good to know that I also should not say anything because I could make things worse for her. I just feel awful about it because she’s a nice person and I feel like I’m just standing by like a jerk.

        It’s really hard to hear her talk about going to the gym because she “needs to watch her waistline.” :(

        1. Elizabeth West

          It’s very hard, because it’s up to the person to make that first step to take care of it. If she brings it up, the most you can offer is your support. *hugs* for you and for her

        2. mander

          I’m pretty sure my brother-in-law is anorexic, but the family has tried various interventions over the years and have made no progress. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that until he decides to do something, nothing will change.

          It stings quite a bit when he makes comments about watching his weight, not eating this or that “fattening” thing, or not “allowing” himself to eat things that he enjoys because he’s developed some twisted sense of not deserving to be satisfied. I find it particularly hard because of my own weight-related mental health issues. It’s difficult not to see these comments as a veiled insult directed at me.

    10. Anon4This

      Does she look ill, or is she just very thin? I have anxiety about eating in front of people I don’t know very well, and the thought of snacking during a meeting with clients makes me feel nauseous. I can’t eat more than a few bites in front of coworkers either, even the ones that I like. I do the bathroom thing occasionally too, because I prefer to do bathroom-related activities alone. I am a tad underweight (fast metabolism + a very active hobby) but healthy, and it makes me want to die of shame when people bring up my food issues.

      If she truly does look sick, that’s harder. I seriously doubt that you could say anything to change her mindset or habits if she does have an ED (and there’s still no guarantee that she does – it could be another health issue that’s out of her control), but I understand wanting to reach out and show that you care. I would probably leave it for her family and friends to help her with, but I could see saying something very, very gentle in private.

    11. Not So NewReader

      Just throwing this out there, because it’s good to realize that we don’t know what it is we don’t know.

      I lost a lot of weight one summer. I was eating 4000 calories a day and going to bed at night crying because I was still hungry and my misaligned jaw hurt from chewing all the time. I lost five pounds a week. One family member decided I had cancer and that is why I kept losing weight. Another family member decided that I was bulimic and that was the reason I was losing weight. There was no talking with these people, they had decided what was wrong with me, period.
      So here I was in crisis and running out of people to talk with about this problem. Looong story made very short, it was the chemicals at work. Once I stopped working for the winter, I put the weight back on. We don’t know what it is we don’t know about someone’s situation. The people who decided I had cancer or bulimia were not the people who were able to help me with my actual problem.

      IF you decide to say something at all, ASK, ” what do you think is going on with your health?” or “where do you think you would like to start the process of finding out what is going on with your health?” Ask questions to help look for solutions, but do not step in with your own ready made solution. You can also encourage the person with statements such as you deserve to have a good quality of life. General statements like that can be very seen as thoughtful and supportive.

      Most of those chemicals are banned now. Once I left that field of work, I never returned and I have never had another recurrence. But I learned a lot. The people who decided I had X or Y actually made the solution process take longer. Not only were they not helpful they actually contributed to dragging the situation out. (Remember, these were people that I trusted. So I had to wrestle with that issue on top of the main issue.) And to this day,I would rather hear a person say they are worried about carrying a few extra pounds, than hear a person say they cannot put on weight. I’ve been on both sides of that coin, and trying to put on weight is faaaar more scary than taking off weight.

  54. Golden Yeti

    Out of curiosity, does anybody think this is legit? http://lifehacker.com/what-you-should-and-shouldnt-do-with-your-hands-during-1758607254

    I’ve been trying to think of unintentional interview quirks that might turn people off, and happened to see this article last night. I’m not sure whether or not I buy it, though. I always thought tent fingers was pretty much the universal sign of “I am evil/rich. mwahahaha.” (Thank you Mr. Burns and Kevin O’Leary…)

    1. Not So NewReader

      Yeah, I have a negative association with steeple/tent fingers, too. I don’t use the gesture as it just does not fit with my personality. Oddly, there is a person in my work life who does use the gesture and the way he does it is actually endearing. You’d have to see it, I can’t describe it. But when he makes that gesture I know he is either going to crack a very funny joke OR come out with a well thought out response to my question, which ever fits the immediate situation.

      Since I have been reading AAM, I tend to take these articles with a grain of salt. Going to an extreme if I make one of the negative gestures and I don’t get the job because of it, I say bullet dodged. If they are so busy looking at my hand gestures, my clothes, whatever, the company is not a great match for me. I won’t last there because, eventually, I will do some minor thing that will tick off the judgey people and I will end up quitting the job anyway.

  55. TotesMaGoats

    Stress level has gotten unacceptably high in the past week due to two academic program directors. They both seem to think that I work for them instead of the truth that I’m their peer within our department and we work together. My role is not at their beck and call in any way, shape or form. The first was dismissive and down right nasty in our meeting to plan marketing and recruitment for the next semester. And I’m dreading the meeting next week with the other thorn in my side. Stuck about 20 years in the past on recruitment strategies, marketing language and generally how to make this whole thing work. Plus I’m not going to a major conference and exhibiting which is not going to make her happy. It blows her budget for me to attend and she’s gotten literally zero ROI from going. Seriously. I’ve got a book full of data supporting what I want to do and will do but it’s going to be hard next week.

    1. GOG11

      I don’t have any advice, but I work in higher education and know how difficult and straight up bizarre things can be at times. I hope you can relax and recharge a bit this weekend.

    2. catsAreCool

      Can you get your boss to intervene in some way? If management says “TotesMaGoats works for me, not for you. And treat TotesMaGoats decently.” Would that help?

      I do not understand why people are nasty to others for no other reason except (I guess) that they can get away with it.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I think the boss needs to step in here. You should not have to explain that you are their peer. That is up to the boss to say.

  56. anonforthis

    I’m currently in a contract role that I really like: supportive colleagues, great feedback, upcoming interesting work, etc. But since Christmas, I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal stuff that came to head and that’s left me with chronic insomnia and I’ve started seeing a therapist to deal with it. Two of the anxieties are that I’m doing a lot of work for a pittance and that my contact is due to end at the end of March but there’s been no real talk about renewing it. But again, there’s talk about further projects I’d be involved in that will go past my end date. I’ve recently gotten health insurance but it’s expensive and I’m paying out of pocket for it. I’ve asked my manager to see if I may be able to get some help with paying for it (a raise) and she said she would look into it but it’s most likely a no go.

    Either way, I’m realizing now that I really do need a full time job and benefits. This instability/uncertainty about my work situation is really not helping my anxiety and I’ve begun looking for other work. I’ve had one promising phone screen and have another coming up next week. As I’ve said before, I really like where I am but I’m not banking with this being made full time nor do I really have the patience to see this through. If a good job offer came in today with benefits, I’d probably take it. On the other hand, I do want to do the right thing and complete the parts of the project I’m working on and the other tasks I’m going to be handling (which could really add some nice experience to my resume), especially if I end up with a job offer. I really would feel guilty about not holding up my end, which would just add to my anxiety.

    Any advice? I kinda feel like I should sit tight and see how this plays out but when you’ve not had a good night’s sleep since Christmas and know that you’re essentially stuck in a role that pays a pittance and a thousand other things are looping around in your mind, it’s really tempting to take the more stable offer, even if it’s not 100%.

    1. cold here

      There’s never the perfect time to leave a job. Do what you can with your big project, but don’t beat yourself up over not finishing it. Not paying you what you’re worth is a great reason to get a different job.

    2. the_scientist

      I’ve been in a similar situation- liked the people, liked the work to a degree, but was comically underpaid and on a contract with no sick leave, vacation, or benefits. My contract was for three years, so I had a little bit more breathing room, though! In the end, after about 1.5 years there the constant financial stress and lack of benefits, plus a complete lack of room to grow pushed me out the door. I totally get the anxiety- it was crushing, and exhausting. When I was searching, I applied only to permanent positions, or positions at companies where I knew that contract employees got benefits, because that stability was really important to me. In the end, I had two very competitive offers that paid more, offered (good) benefits and vacation and were much more in line with my interests and desired career path….so don’t despair!

      First things first, don’t bank on this job being made permanent. Don’t bank on having your contract extended. Your boss has been non-committal and the end of March is coming up really quickly. You might want to sit down and talk about your contract with her, but be prepared to hear that you may be out of a job come April.

      You need to do what is best for you and your career. That means continuing to job search, and accepting a job that fits your requirements.. Your sole obligation to your boss is to provide adequate notice and to do your best to wrap things up before you leave. That’s it. The price employers pay for hiring short-term contract employees is high turnover; obviously, people are going to keep looking for something stable! Your manager is legitimately off her rocker if she’s upset that you’re thinking about your next steps and looking out for your own interests.

      Also, if you’re non-exempt, you need to be paid for the overtime you’re working (if applicable). Your contract may have stipulated the number of hours per week you’re expected to work. Maybe look into that, as a way to look at reducing your workload to free up more of your time for job searching.

      1. anonforthis

        Oh, I don’t work over 40 hours a week. I make sure of that.

        One role I applied for is interesting: an HR Administrator role. It’s something I’m curious about and it’s a much better commute and definitely pays a lot more than this role. I’d be moving from tech to finance, which sorta stinks but it may be a better fit overall.

        As for my contract, I was told we would revisit the contract thing at the end of February, but I’m helping implement a new system with a huge team of people and I’m also the backup person for a task that’s handled by two of my colleagues who are out on maternity leave. Luckily two of my other colleagues were also trained on how to handle that task, so it’s not that either.

        I’ve been in and out of work the past few years due to the economy and other factors and this place was the first to come along that really felt great. Now it feels like I’m wasting my time and TBH my instinct is to just quit but I don’t have anything lined up. I’m so stressed out, bored and anxious.

        1. anonforthis

          So chances are I’ll be extended but there’s no actual yes or no about that. To meet their hiring goals, I’d at least be there through the end of 2016, but I really don’t see myself in this role long term. I also don’t know if I’m getting paid crappy because I’m a contractor or they just pay crappy overall.

  57. TMA

    I’m thinking about getting my MBA. My company has a great policy and will pay for all of it (minus books), and I really want to take advantage. Honestly, I’m just a little worried about how I’m going to balance it all i.e. full-time job, 2 young kids, needing sleep on occasion. Any advice? Basically, I’m just trying not to talk myself out of it.

    Oh and any study tips for the GRE/GMAT are also appreciated.

    1. Sascha

      Is there a time frame in which you have to complete the degree? If your company doesn’t have one, I’d just take it one course a semester. Usually the college will have a time-to-degree limit, but it’s like 6 years or something, so you could do things slowly if you wanted to.

    2. notfunny.

      Start studying for the GRE or GMAT as soon as you can, even just doing practice questions and figuring out a strategy. Some of the content is shared between the two exams though the question types differ, so maybe focus on content until you decide which test you will take. I’d take one of the practice tests first, ETS gives GRE test takers 2 free simulated tests, so do one of those to see where your areas of weakness are and then target them. People swear by Magoosh for online prep but there are plenty of different ways to study. If you feel that you need a prep course, you might see what options are available at community colleges/continuing ed programs nearby. It definitely doesn’t get easier the longer one is out of school and I found the process to be rather humbling, but it is doable.

      1. finman

        Don’t take GRE as no business programs I briefly looked at accepted that over a GMAT. Skip too much work on the writing portion as very few programs buy it from the test company. I bought the GMAT book and used it on my own. I also took 1 class at a time from a school that offered quarters mostly to maximize tuition reimbursement. If you are going to take 2 classes, try to space them out 2 days and do some research on requirements of each to make sure you pair an easier with a harder. If you can manage twice at once, I would recommend it as the 4.5 years it took me to finish just felt never ending.

  58. iliadawry

    Does the guideline about staying somewhere a couple of years apply when there are obvious deficiencies in a situation? In my case, I’m cobbling together three part-time jobs to try and make ends meet, and I’d really like to find something full time, because working seven days a week with no vacation or benefits is hard on my mental and physical health. I’ve been at these positions seven years (the least demanding, and technically consulting), fifteen months, and ten months, but I don’t want to look flaky.

    1. KR

      You have my empathy. I work two part time jobs. It’s really difficult working six or seven days a week, never having a set schedule and not getting any benefits. It makes being sick very expensive.

      1. iliadawry

        I’ve been pretty fortunate – one of my jobs has a set schedule, I’ve had no new major illnesses, and my biggest injury has been a probably-fractured pinkie toe that I’m just sort of ignoring. Going down icy stairs is terrifying on so many levels, though!

  59. Emilia Bedelia

    I made it to the 4th and final round of interviews for a job that I’m super excited about! So far I’ve had an HR screen, a phone interview with the hiring manager, and a personality screen with an external company, and then this would be an in-person interview with “all the major stakeholders”, according to them. I’ve been happy so far with how I’ve done, but now I don’t know what questions I’ll have to ask in the in-person interviews, especially since I’ll be talking to multiple people! All my questions about the actual job have been answered, and both interviewers have talked to me a lot about the company culture, the work environment, etc. The only questions I have are about compensation and benefits and such, and I’d feel crass just asking about that. I’d also feel silly asking simple questions that I should already know the answer to just to have something to ask. What are good things to ask in the final rounds of the interview process?
    Also, how do I figure out what questions to ask who? I know what I’d ask an HR person vs. the hiring manager, but what about a higher-up manager, or if I get interviewed by a potential co-worker? This would be my first job after graduating, so I don’t have much experience with multi-step hiring processes (I’ve only ever done 1-2 interviews for a position before).

    1. overeducated and underemployed

      Something I realized in an all-day interview with about 10 separate meetings recently was that even though I had most of my questions answered by late morning, the people I met with in the afternoon didn’t know that, and so it would have actually been better if I’d asked some of the same questions. Partly because different people might have had different perspectives, but partly because I would just have looked more engaged. I’m hopefully going into a fourth round interview with a director myself, and the kind of questions I’m planning to ask are versions of big picture questions I already asked the hiring manager and VPs: stuff like their vision for the direction of the major projects, how they think the person in this position can help with larger organizational concerns like fundraising, etc. For a coworker, I’d ask questions about work environment, the biggest challenges and benefits of their roles, what they need from the new hire, etc.

      1. Emilia Bedelia

        Thanks! I’ve just realized that I’ve never had a non-short-term job so I’ve never thought about the “big picture”, really.
        I’ve always heard that one shouldn’t ask about “upward mobility” or “promotion potential” or whatever, because it makes you look like you don’t want to stay in that job, but… it’s an entry level position in a company that seeks out ambitious high achievers. Frankly, I think it’d look bad to NOT ask about options for the future. I’d also like to know whether I should anticipate going to grad school if I want to move forward. My thinking was to lead off with something like “In a few years, if I’d like to move forward…” to make it clear that I’m not looking to jump ship. Would this be a good move?

        1. overeducated and underemployed

          I think you can ask questions about the future without implying that you want to leave or get promoted out, while keeping the door open for them to mention those options. For instance, you could phrase them in terms of “I’m really looking for a role where I can grow and contribute in new ways over time, what do you see as the trajectory for growth and increased responsibility in this role?” or even “what do you envision the person hired for this role accomplishing in 1, 2, or 5 years time?” (Caveat is always only if that’s appropriate for this company and job – but for ambitious high achievers I would hope so!)

    2. TootsNYC

      The reason you’ll be speaking to so many different people is because of all the different perspectives. So ask about that. You can ask the same questions, but ask for THEIR take on it.

      “What do YOU think makes someone good at this role?”
      What do YOU think is the biggest challenge someone will face?”

      And even, “How is your interaction with the person in this role different from Joe’s or Tammy’s? Do you need different things from them?”

      And I agree w/ the folks who say you can absolutely ask about upward trajectory; just frame it as part of the larger picture of the organization. And even link a timeframe: “How would you expect this person’s job to be different in 3 years, or for their path through the organization to be shaped in 3 years, 5 years, etc.?”

  60. Snowstorm

    I have a question about how I should list my current job on my resume. I started working here in September 2014 and left to start a new job in December 2015. Long story short, I knew that the new job wasn’t a good fit for me and I was lucky enough to return to my old job in January 2016. Do I have to acknowledge the one month gap on my resume? I was hoping that I could just get away with listing it as Current Job September 2014 – Present. Is that misleading though? Thank you!

      1. Snowstorm

        My work history is a bit sketchy though. I’ve had three short-term temporary jobs and a three month period of unemployment (in addition to one job that I held for two years). I want to show that I’m able to hold a job for a reasonable period of time.

    1. NJ Anon

      I would do that. Your resume is a marketing document. Heck, you could have been out sick or on vacation for a month-it’s nothing.

    2. BRR

      You technically worked that job in Dec 2015 and Jan 2016 so it’s not really misleading to just put -present.

  61. AcademiaDork

    Something I’m curious about…why does there seem to be more couple pairs working in academia than other industries? I’m currently employed at my second university, and I’ve been working in higher ed for about 10 years now, and I’ve seen many times the “trailing spouse” thing, where one spouse is hired for a position (usually a pretty high level position or faculty), and the spouse is then jammed into whatever department will take them. A few times I’ve seen a pair that both have high level jobs, but more often it’s the trailing spouse. I’ve asked friends in other industries if they’ve seen the same thing, and they haven’t. Thoughts?

    1. Lia

      I think it is a combination of the trailing spouse hires (although in my experience, unless the spouse is an absolute rock star and/or has their own funding, the best they will do faculty wise is a lecturer or adjunct role) as well as …well — many faculty couples I have known met on the job, or in graduate school.

    2. Marcela

      At least in physics/chemistry, it’s because we move so much (in my last 3 groups, 90%-95% of the members, from technicians to the PI are foreigners), so one of us have to give up our dreams for our careers. Academia already asks so much from us, being apart from our families and/or asking us to delay starting our own families until we get some stability, that this habit of the US academia* of hiring couples is a nice perk and one of the reasons we come in the first place.

      * For hiring couples is something that only happens in the US. Not even in Europe I’ve seen it.

    3. overeducated and underemployed

      I think it probably has to do with grad school being a 5-10 year endeavor that people tend to go through during their 20s or 30s, the years when most people meet their spouses. The “jamming in” can be a result of the difficulty of finding two equivalently high-level positions at the same time, but also of investing unequally in one person’s career due to choice or chance so they wind up more marketable after a few years.

  62. Just Me

    I’m working from home today so I actually have the chance to ask my job search question without anyone looking over my shoulder. :-)

    I joined my current company right after grad school about 2.5 years ago and have been promoted/taken on new responsibilities and opportunities/etc. during that time. I don’t love the work culture or the subject matter all that much although I do like the overall job description and am thinking about looking for roles in the very near future at companies that do similar things with different products (think….tea pot quality control vs wine glass quality control, I don’t drink tea so even though I like the process, making a better teapot just doesn’t get me jazzed up in the morning).

    Here’s my question: what do I do about references?? Before this job I had a Ph.D. advisor/committee who can speak to my uber technical skills but none of the business skills which is is the direction I took after graduation. My current manager would fully support me moving on within the company this next year but I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling him about my external search. My previous manager (before I got promoted) lives and breaths this company and would likely alert any and all (including my current manager) if I hinted that I was anything less than loyal to where I work.

    So….who can I use as references? Past coworkers? Will my academic advisers be enough? I TA’d and did some work maintaining laboratory instruments for the department so I have lots of solid “grad student” references but I’m worried they won’t hold much weight.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Still there! Might be a cookie issue. Try clearing your cookies for this site and maybe your cache too, and it should start working again (but your first visit after that will be read by your computer as your first, so new comments will need to arrive after that before you see the blue bar again).

    2. TootsNYC

      Also I find that if I comment while I’m reading, all the blue bars vanish when the page reloads from commenting.

      So I read all the way, and then go back and comment.

  63. random anonymo

    Q: why would we need a piano in my office?

    My boss recently purchased a piano for our office, our open office with no walls or doors. I’m puzzled by this, since her other purchases have made sense. (ipads for note taking, standing desks, etc) It is a large electronic keyboard. We don’t make music or work with musicians, so it seems really strange. Is she finally stressing out so much she’s losing it?

    1. Amtelope

      Why not ask? I can’t imagine someone bringing a piano into our workspace without the first thing out of everyone’s mouth being “what’s the piano for?”

      1. random anonymo

        There is a printer near it and (outside of work) co-worker friends have joked it is perfect for a piano bar setup. I want to say more but don’t want to reveal the company. Normally it’s easy to be anonymo, but I’m guessing only about 10 managers bought a piano for their office in the US, in the last 6 months.

      2. Meg Murry

        Oh wow, that would be interesting. Maybe it’s for the new mandatory karaoke, sing along and talent show being instituted every day at 2 pm?!? Hahaha, ugh, that would be my vote for worst boss of the year. Or maybe she decided to implement the parade of 5 lowest and highest performers that was posted this week, and wants to be able to play a brisk march to accompany it!

        At least since it’s electronic it can probably have headphones plugged into it so everyone doesn’t have to hear it – I’m also curious as to why it was purchased though. Maybe someone meant to order computer keyboards but screwed up? :-)

    2. KR

      I’m thinking of hospitals and such that have airports in their lobbies. Do you have office parties? Pianos can be a lot of fun for parties.
      Used pianos can usually be found for very cheap/free too, the only cost being someone to actually transport it and tune it since they’re so heavy. She might have just found a really good deal and wanted to brighten up the office.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Now I want my work lobby to have both a piano and a toy town carpet with an airport (with Hot Wheels and toy planes, of course).

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Is she setting up an office choir? I have heard of UK “Magic Circle” law firms doing this and having competitions and charity performances.

    3. Ama

      Oh, man. They threatened to do this at my old office, once — solely because the donor whose foundation underwrote our entire operating budget wanted live music at our annual holiday party. Thankfully since we were an academic institution and the room they wanted to install the piano in was right next to the classrooms they were able to point out that the staff (*me* at the time) would end up spending half their time policing people who started banging out chopsticks during lectures.

      I actually do play the piano and miss being able to have one where I live (high rise apartment), but I would not want to play in front of my coworkers.

  64. C Average

    This is a work-related question, but it’s more of a philosophical work-related question than a practical one. (I sent this question to Alison a while back and she deemed it above her pay grade. If Alison can’t figure it out, I’m not sure any of the rest of us have a prayer! But I figure it’s worth a shot.)

    Here goes. I’ve been thinking a lot about the U.S. presidential election, which is, when you get right down to it, a hiring process. There are job candidates, generally arrived at through a combination of self-selection and acclamation. They tend to be lawyers. They often come from families who have historically been involved in politics. They tend to skew male, white, and wealthy. They go through something akin to a vetting and interview process (vetting and debates) and are winnowed down to, eventually, a pair of finalists. And then a selection is made through voting.

    You can make a decent argument that it’s not a great process. It’s expensive and cumbersome and, for all the hassle, we tend to get the same sort of people every election cycle. And, because the candidates are often current office-holders, their constituents suffer from a lack of leadership while the candidates are campaigning and fund-raising. Often the promising ones don’t turn out to be very good, and sometimes the ones who weren’t inspiring candidates turned out to be solid leaders–in other words, the election process doesn’t tend to reliably predict who will be a good president.

    If you were one of the founding fathers (or, hey, mothers) and you knew all this and you were tasked with designing a hiring process for the presidency that would be fair, practical, and likely to yield decent candidates, how would you do it?

    (I have some admittedly crazy ideas about this, but I want to hear y’all’s first.)

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      I read somewhere (here?) about China’s process for civil servants. Basically, elections are only held for the smaller, local positions. To advance, you go through all sorts of testing and training. (Forgive my poor description.) But then again– only one party.

      I think I’d love something similar– local elections, because on that small level, your constituents can really get to know you, and since you have to be local, it’s more representative. Then, to go higher, you need to pass a combination of testing and voting against the other candidates in your area.

    2. BRR

      Limit money that can be spent, limit the time allowed for campaigning, have all of the primaries on one day, and abolish the electoral college. Try to take out the part about being a good politician and hopefully leave people who have to rely more on their ability to get stuff done.

    3. justsomeone

      I have a pretty basic one – I firmly believe anyone elected to public office, especially in cases where the role is legislative or judiciary (lawmakers, judges, sheriffs, etc), part of the “filing” to run should be a citizenship test. Like, the actual test that people have to take to become citizens of the US. I want to be reasonably certain that the people writing and enforcing the laws of our country have an understanding of what those laws are, and some of the history. I want my legislators to know the constitution at least as well as an immigrant to this country.
      BRR has some good points as well. I think we need to fix the Electoral College as well. But that’s for another time.

      1. mander

        That would be really great. I’ve heard so much baloney from politicians of all stripes who clearly have no understanding of our actual history or the content of the Constitution. It would be nice to have to pass some kind of basic competency test in order to hold a public office. As it stands it’s nothing more than a personality contest most of the time.

      2. Tennessee

        YES! YesYesYes!

        One of the greatest ideas ever to help the US election process. Now, if we could just figure out how to make it happen…

    4. Not So NewReader

      No electoral college.

      Being a congress person should not be a full time profession. They need to go home periodically AND stay there for a few months. With the system we have now, we have a endless supply of laws and no one to enforce them and no one to even make sure the laws are carried out. Just my opinion, but I think in the future we will be crushed by the weightiness of our own laws. I can’t write about what I see going on.

      I don’t think the founding fathers ever foresaw media being as powerful as it is now. Frankly, I am hard pressed to find decent articles to read in the fifteen minutes I allow myself to have exposure to media. (It’s either cut the media exposure or start the anti-depressants. Being a frugal person, I turned off the tv.)

      One of the inherent risks we have in our system is that we risk having a bad prez. But sometimes we have a prez that gets a few things right. Other countries ALWAYS have a bad/toxic leader, not so in our case. Sometimes we have a leader that makes some screw ups but otherwise does an okay job. Ever notice how much these people age in office? It’s one heck of a job, really.

      If you think about it, the founding fathers were herding cats when they tried to make us into a nation. And not much has changed. Leading us is still like herding cats. Not only are we physically far apart from each other but we are a collection of unique people. Each one of us hears our own drummer. I think the founding fathers understood that this particular group of people can ONLY be a nation IF they CHOSE to be a nation. And I think that still holds true now. I read an article about a CEO of a very large company. He said, you don’t steer a ship, you guide it and hope for the best. The more people involved the less power there is at the top. I think that the presidents we raise up are only as good as we, collectively, are. They aren’t steering the USA, they are merely guiding it.

  65. When You're a Shark

    I’d love opinions on something I’m dealing with: I work in a small nonprofit. I’ve been here a year, and our receptionist has been here three years.

    Since day one she’s been smotheringly mothering, nosy (I’ve caught her going into my office when she thinks I’m not here), and overly vocal about defending her work performance/choices (for example, when compiling a multiple page document, she’ll print it, paste individual page numbers *by hand* at the bottom, scan the pages as .jpg and mail it to herself, then print or email as not needed. This is not a joke).

    In the past two months it’s gotten worse. If we’re alone in the office, she’s stood in my doorway staring and not speaking. When upset, she’s thrown printed reports at me. The boss saw her overall poor attitude earlier on, but yesterday, she said goodbye to a relatively new visitor by whispering in her ear, stroking her hair, and kissing just to the right of her lips. In front of eight other people.

    Here is the question part: I’ve been looking out for my own interests by documenting her actions toward me, lining up freelance work in case I need to jump ship quickly, and generally doing my best to not engage with her. However our boss is the only one who can take action, and in my estimation he’s been slow to address these things. I actually really like this job and I’m valued here. The boss knows she’s weird but if he’s hesitant to take action, what choice do I have that still keeps harmony here? I actually fear for my safety given the weirdness of her actions, but it’s clearly not a priority. Anyone have any suggestions for me?

    1. AnotherTeacher

      Oh my goodness…”when compiling a multiple page document, she’ll print it, paste individual page numbers *by hand* at the bottom, scan the pages as .jpg and mail it to herself, then print or email as not needed.” This kind of inefficiency and waste is not a problem for your boss? If not, it’s the kind of thing you have to accept or realize you can’t deal with and move on.

      If she throws something else at you in the manner you described, do you feel comfortable initiating a formal complaint with HR? For the staring, can you close your door?

      1. When you're a shark

        Thanks for the response. The boss believes that the last receptionist (lasted a decade or so) was just incredibly good at her job, so current must be average. He even goes so far as to do expense reports for the entire office of five as she found it too difficult.

        If we are not expecting visitors, I do close my door. In general, if I have a sense we’ll be alone in the office I take vacation or arrange an off site meeting (flexibility I’m thrilled to have). Still, I don’t like the idea of using time off to mitigate what’s clearly going to explode eventually. After the report-throwing incident there was an attempt at mediation where she alternated between slumping with crossed arms and standing with a pointed finger in my face. The boss later said “I see what you’ve been talking about” but no changes took place.

        One other piece of the story is that the receptionist is the only non-exempt staff member and does not understand or appreciate why, say, traveling a week straight gives us the flexibility for taking an hour for a dentist’s visit without claiming time off. It seems particularly irksome when the staff that is younger than her does it.

        I’ve been sending out feelers and have talked with recruiters but the job is great except for the staring and flying paper.

        1. AnotherTeacher

          Goodness x 2 … But, it sounds like you’re handling things very well. You’ll see lots of “managers who won’t manage” stories here. Those may help, at least in showing that you’re in good company.

        2. Meg Murry

          I have nothing to say but ugh, I hear you. My husband is currently beating his head against the wall about an employee that has both administrative and higher level duties (and no admin below her to help) who creates pdfs by taking Word documents that were mostly text, printing them, putting them back in the photocopier to scan to email as super high resolution pdfs and then emailing them. The problem is that the original Word document was under 100k, and the scans are now 2 MB and no longer text searchable, and the [relativley] huge files cause issues with the ancient email server and system. He has tried to show her how to use the “save as pdf” option in Word, but she doesn’t want to let him, and he isn’t her direct boss.

          The problem is that her predecessor (who only retired 10 years ago or so) refused to use a computer at all, only a typewriter, handwritten notes and binders – so compared to the predecessor the current person is light years better with technology, and that’s all her bosses (who are also technology luddites that don’t even do email so don’t see what the big deal is) see. The super crazy part is that the current person has just recently got a Master’s Degree and now is trying to use that as a case for a major pay raise, and my husband wants to yell “forget a master’s degree, go take ‘Word 101’ and ‘Excel 101’ at the community college and then maybe we’ll talk”.

          1. When You're a Shark

            We have the same problem. The files end up both massive and blurry.

            Yesterday the story of the day was that she told an associate she’d have to physically mail a document “because it’s double sided.” I was floored but it became a much smaller issue after she kissed someone.

        3. NJ Anon

          It has been my experience, unfortunately, with nonprofits that they just don’t like to fire people. Goodness, they are supposed to help people, not put them on unemployment! (Their view, not mine.) We are currently suffering because of this issue. Poor performing employee was not fired when she should have been. ED admits she was “afraid” to fire her. (WTF?) Now same employee is causing a racket, going to the board, etc, etc. Sounds like your boss needs to explain to this person what is acceptable behavior if not outright fire her. You are doing the best you can. Do you outrank her? I would also email my concerns to my boss so I have it in writing.

          1. When You're a Shark

            Thanks. Definitely painstakingly documenting. Theoretically I could escalate it to our board, but then that undermines my relationship with the boss. I do outrank her but in an office this size hierarchy is less of an issue.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      AnotherTeacher already addressed the document weirdness, so how did the visitor react to being kissed by the receptionist!?!

      1. When you're a shark

        She was dazed and in disbelief. It’s been discussed privately but the boss is hesitant to mention it. Said visitor is returning today for business (why I’m here instead of taking a vacation day…) so my hope is there won’t be a repeat. I think we’ve arranged for the visitor to come during her lunch break.

        1. Mockingjay

          Wow. She’s so disruptive that you have to plan business meetings and take vacation to avoid her, she inappropriately touches visitors, and she’s violent?

          If you have a good relationship with your boss, you need to revisit this with him. (Like now.) Are there others in the office who can back you up? If you present as a group: “Boss, Psycho Suzy is out of hand. Here is a list of documented instances of inappropriate and threatening behavior. She’s not doing her job, she’s making it difficult to do our jobs, and quite frankly, we don’t feel safe around her.”

          1. When You're a Shark

            Sadly I’ve done all of that. I’ve even taken the employee handbook to him with flags on the passages she’s violated.

            I too think the boss is doing this to be kind. I don’t think anyone reading this will be shocked that she has a long list of sob stories.

            Another part of it may be that he’s waiting to see it work itself out naturally. The one employee she’s aligned herself with (who, incidentally, suggested the ladies just go get frozen yogurt and make up after a particularly bad scuffle) retires in a month and I think there’s hope she’ll be dissatisfied with the new dynamic and quit. It would be nice but I’m not keen on what we’re dealing with presently.

            1. Observer

              I think that you have to point out to your boss that at this point Receptionist is a ticking time bomb with the potential to do major harm to the organization. This is true, even if you quit today or swore up, down, right, left and center, in front of a court, that you would never sue or press charges against the organization. This is because no one controls outside visitors. What happens if she does this to someone from an organization the funds you? Or another organization that you need to keep a good relationship with? Or someone who knows how to complain, either to a governing body or the press?

  66. Semi-nonymous

    I just got a new manager this week (our group was split in 2 with half reporting to the previous manager and the rest of us reporting to the new person).

    The good news is, I’m pretty sure s/he reads AAM or at least Alison’s stuff on Inc/Forbes or people that repeat her advice (he already mentioned 1-on-1s to talk about “what’s not getting done” and he used another phrase that I’ve also seen here but am forgetting). So I’m hoping that means s/he’s going to be a good manager (so far at least s/he seems like a nice and reasonable person).

    The bad/scary/gotta watch myself part of that is that I need to be careful what I say here in case s/he really is a regular AAM reader. I’m always pretty careful, but it’s easy to get lax under the false sense of secure anonymity the internet provides.

    So if you are reading this new boss, I’m happy to have you and please keep reading Alison’s advice!

    1. Not So NewReader

      That is actually kind of cool. It’d be even cooler to know that s/he has been posting here for a while.

  67. Beezus

    I had a frustrating week.

    I have a colleague who took off Tues-Fri this week and needed me to back him up on some time-consuming work. When did I find out about it? Monday afternoon. I didn’t know exactly how to do the work, either…he spent an hour walking me through it, and it’s the kind of thing I can figure out a bit on my own with some extra time, but yeah…that was 2-3 hours of work a day that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t really have time for, and my own projects are behind now. I talked to my boss about it, and he wasn’t happy, but I am the only qualified backup for this work, and by the time I was aware, there wasn’t much that could be done. The colleague reports to a different manager and I’m not sure if my boss will talk to his boss, or not. The rest of my team is busy – a different colleague quit last week and I am the only one who didn’t catch any of her workload – so no one could really help me.

    And I had accuracy issues this week – in part due to time crunches related to the above – that resulted in two separate complaints to my manager. One was delivered very rudely, from someone who has been counseled about treating people with respect at work before, and the mistake was relatively minor. I’m having a really hard time separating the (valid) message from the delivery on that one. My manager is being really understanding, but I am so ready for this week to be over.

  68. Brett

    Good news everybody!

    I have a new job starting in two weeks. The interview went awesome, and even though they thought follow up would take a few days, I had a job offer within 2 hours. I am getting an 18% raise, and moving to one of the top companies in the area (a company that was on my short list when I first started searching).

    Looking back, AAM was critical for me since it helped me maintain my confidence I was doing the right things as I went through the process.

    I asked the magic question in my interview, and it not only wowed them, but the answers gave me save key insights into the position. (I think it even made them realize that some of my technical gaps did not matter, because I had key soft skills that were critical to separating good from great.) I read through “How to Get a Job” several times, including before my interview, and it helped tremendously.

    I do think I undervalued myself some, but I got the full amount I asked for, and additional benefits that are not normally offered. At the offer phase, I brought up prior professional commitments and all of them were included in the offer. I was completely nervous about negotiating and had a pit in my stomach from feeling like I was pushing too much; but knowing the norms helped me push forward and get what I thought I deserved.

    I also used advice here for how to do my resignation and how to plan transition and that is all going incredibly smoothly. I even had a conversation with my boss where I started with, “They say that people leave a manager, not a job, but it was not the case here because you have been a great manager. Realizing that you are a great manager but that I was still not happy here is unfortunately part of what convinced me I had to move on.” He is sorry to see me go, but hopeful that he can push harder now for real ways of retaining employees. Several people up the line have told me they are planning now to use my departure as an argument for making changes, so I guess I had a real impact here.

    1. Shell

      Congrats, Brett!

      (I must be the only person on this site that the magic question didn’t work for. Hmm…)

      1. Jill of All Trades

        You’re not the only one. I asked it once and the HR rep who was sitting in on the interview with the hiring manager *put her nose in the air literally* and said she “didn’t want to discuss employee performance.” Please note that I asked it exactly as we talk about it here, which is to get an idea of strong characteristics and behaviors that stand out, not to gossip about people, but that was how she took it. The interview was brusquely ended right there. Bullet dodged.

      2. ghost

        It doesn’t work for me either, but I think that’s because it’s not a question I would ask naturally, so trying to insert is weird and disruptive for me. Maybe it could work if it were part of the flow (like if the hiring manager were raving about the person leaving the role, and you could say “What makes Susie great?’), but it hasn’t been for me. YMMV on most things, I guess.

  69. PNWAnon

    My interview horror story of the week: I had a phone interview scheduled. 45 minutes after the scheduled interview time, the interviewer called, apologized for a scheduling mishap, and asked to reschedule. Instead of calling at the rescheduled time, she called ten minutes early while I was in the middle of my pre -interview bathroom break. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.

    1. Not Karen

      The good news is now you know how disorganized they are and can evaluate whether or not you still want to work for someone like that.

      I once had an interviewer call a day early (she had written down the wrong day).

    2. CMT

      Is the interviewer just an HR person doing a phone screen or the hiring manager? Because those would be some reddish flags to me.

  70. MsChandandlerBong

    I recently landed a great new client. Yay! I am in State A, the project manager is in State B, and the CEO is in State C. They have invited me to travel to State B to meet the team and do some project planning for a few days. However, as many of you know from my recent posts, my financial situation is precarious due to my husband being out of work for five months. We have no room on our credit cards to pay for travel/accommodations, but I don’t want to say, “I’m broke. Can you pay for everything up front?” If I drive my own vehicle and get a hotel deal from Hotwire or something, I *may* be able to swing it, but I’d have to pack peanut butter sandwiches instead of eating meals at restaurants.

    What would be the best approach here? I am an independent contractor, not an employee, which I think makes things a bit murkier.

    1. Meg Murry

      As an independent contractor, who would be paying for the trip? Would you being paying everything and then billing the expenses back to them? Or would you only be billing your hourly rate and paying for the travel expenses yourself (and then deducting them as business expenses at the end of the year for tax time)?

      Could you explain that you’ve been burned in the past by previous brand-new clients requesting expensive travel and then never paying you, so since you don’t have a steady payment history with them you are going to need them to pay you an advance (estimate of half the travel costs)? It’s a little tacky, but not much more so than a building contractor asking you to pay for at least half of the building supplies up front, as is standard in my area.

      Or if you really don’t want to do that, if you have the credit score to hack it could you apply for a new credit card to use only for business expenses? That might buy you some extra wiggle room on credit cards – but if your new client is slow to reimburse it could cost you a couple months of interest.

      Or if you have a couple of freelancing clients now and a track record, could you go talk to a bank about opening a small business line of credit? Again, not ideal, but almost definitely better interest rates than a credit card.

      Long term, you probably want to talk to an accountant and/or lawyer about whether it makes sense to setup an LLC and then get loans and/or credit cards under the LLC, not under your own name.

      1. MsChandandlerBong

        My credit score is in the toilet because of the aforementioned lack of income, so I can’t open any new cards or get a loan, unfortunately.

        The PM invited me yesterday via email and said we’d discuss it in our conference call today, so I may be worrying over nothing. If they offer to book everything ahead of time, there won’t be any problem. They have been very fair with my pay rate, and the company has a good reputation, so I am not concerned about them stiffing me on reimbursement or anything; I just don’t have a lot of money to shell out and then wait to be repaid.

        1. MsChandandlerBong

          I was worried for nothing! They’re going to book the hotel with their credit card, and they’re going to pay me for two days’ worth of work, plus take me out to dinner one of the nights I am there. I come from a town where jobs are mostly blue-collar, so this sort of thing is foreign to me. I’m excited!

          1. Meg Murry

            Glad to hear it is working out! Don’t forget to track your mileage to-from their site so you can bill them for that (or use it as a business expense yourself come tax time).

            FYI, a lot of hotels will require you to turn over a credit card when you check in “in case of incidentals”, and some chains are horrrrrrrible about charging it to that card instead of the card originally used to book the room – so when you check out make sure to double and triple check that it was charged appropriately, and keep the receipt in case you need to turn it in to your client.

            1. Dynamic Beige

              The phrase you’re looking for is “I see your room has been taken care of, I’ll just need your card for incidentals.” Which may also include damages to the room. If you don’t hear that, ask. Say “It was my understanding that StateB LLC had pre-paid for the room? the reservation might be under ThisPerson’s name?” The clerk should be able to confirm or deny if that is true. If you can, before you go get the e-mail or contact for whoever makes the travel arrangements so that if it hasn’t been covered, you can call them. Most hotels you can’t check in before 4pm but if you’re early, you can ask if your room is ready and *sometimes* they have one available, especially if it’s not a popular day. If these people have their crap together, you should get an e-mail with the confirmation information that you can print out and bring with you. I say that as someone who checked in once, didn’t confirm that the room had already been paid for (or maybe I did and it was completely different people on shift that morning) and when I checked out at 7am on a Saturday morning, found that they had charged it all to my credit card. I called the person who did the booking, thinking I would leave a voicemail and… they picked up obviously sleepy. I was mortified. It was eventually worked out and the charges were reversed on my card but it was pretty annoying to have that happen.

              Do a little online recon of the area before you go. Sometimes, hotels are located in busy areas with grocery stores/shopping malls near by. Other times, they’re in the middle of BF-nowhere. If this place is in the middle of nowhere, your options for cheap eats on the run are going to be limited to whatever’s at the hotel. You may ask StateB LLC if there is some sort of per diem allowance, or if they would prefer you expense your meals back. If they go with per diem, they should have the cash ready for you on your arrival. Also, if there are grocery or variety stores nearby that you could get food from, some hotels will provide a mini-fridge upon request — I’m not sure if that is a daily rental charge. I’m sure you don’t need to be told not to eat the stuff in the mini-bar (if there is one) ’cause it’s way expensive. But in some hotels, the fridges are weighted, so even just picking an item up, looking at it and putting it back, they charge you. I have been known once or twice to take out all the pop cans and use the space for something else, then put the pop back in again. And I’ve stayed in hotel rooms that were like apartments with kitchens and even a washer/dryer once. So it’s going to depend on where they’re booking you. The hotel’s website should have all the information you need about the rooms.

              As for how you get there, driving or flying it’s up to you. Will their offices be close to the hotel so you don’t need a car or taxi? Would it be better if you had a car? Would the be willing to pay for your rental? Sometimes hotels have shuttle service, too and they will pick you up/drop you off at various places, so getting to a nearby mall might not be that hard if you need a lift.

              1. MsChandandlerBong

                The hotel is in a very busy area, and the PM specifically mentioned that there are great restaurants and shops within walking distance, so I think I’ll be okay for food. I have gone on many trips with an insulated bag full of apples, crackers, PBJ sandwiches, and bottled water, though (I still think I’d do this even if I was filthy rich; I grew up pretty poor, so my brain explodes at the thought of paying $1.69 for one bottle of water when a 24-pack of water costs $2.49 a the grocery store!).

                One plane ticket is $600, and I live in a city that has no direct flights (seriously; if you want to go to City B, which is a five-hour drive from here, you have to fly to City C, which is an eight-hour drive from here, and then get on a second plane to City B), so I decided to drive with my husband. We haven’t been out anywhere lately due to finances, so it will be a nice road trip together. The company has no problem with him staying in the hotel with me (one room costs the same whether I go alone or he comes with me), and he’s just going to bop around the city by himself while I work. He understands that he may be alone from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. (they mentioned taking me out to dinner at their expense one night), and he’s fine with that.

          2. Another Job Seeker

            Great news! Glad to hear it. I do have one suggestion. Might be worthwhile to call the hotel and ask whether they require that you pay for incidentals. Sometimes, they will charge you $25 – $50 / night. They’ll put the hold on your credit card, apply items you use during the hotel (room service, telephone, etc.) They release the hold on your card (and charge you for whatever you use) when you checkout. You might want to see if they will accept cash — or if they will deactivate some of the items (turn the phone off, for example) instead of requiring payment for incidentals. Have a wonderful trip, and I hope you enjoy your new job.

  71. CanadianDot

    Super weird work incident yesterday, and now I need to figure out how to conquer my anxiety about speaking up and calling someone on being really disrespectful.

    A coworker (may be worth noting that I am a woman in my early 30’s, and he’s a man in his mid 40’s) has recently been kind of weird about… Okay, I’m the admin for an office of about 15 people, and I keep a candy dish stocked with chocolates or candy in the pathway by my cubicle. A lot of the incidents seem to revolve around him feeling entitled to these chocolates, which I buy with my own money and always have, and he knows this. A couple of weeks ago, the chocolates had run out, and so he came and whined to me and puppy-dog-eyed me about how hard the phone call he’d made was, and how he NEEDED some chocolate (*mope mope mope*)… Enough that I actually went out to the coffee shop across the street and bought him a chocolate. Then last week, he was facilitating a meeting and straight up took the bowl (my bowl, and I buy the chocolates) to his meeting. He actually said Mwahaha as he grabbed the bowl.

    Then yesterday, he was frustrated about having to fill in a form that he didn’t previously have to fill in, and was grumpy at his manager. She was gone for the day, and I’d sent him the form, at his request. So after griping at me about it for several minutes, he FLICKED A CHOCOLATE at me. Like, he spent about a minute lining up the shot, and I was sitting there thinking, “He’s not ACTUALLY going to do this… Oh, yup, he did!” I just feel like that was incredibly disrespectful, and when he said, “Sorry!” and I replied that I didn’t really believe him after he’d spent all that time getting lined up, he did the jerk thing and defended why he did it.

    So, I think I’m going to need to find a backbone and shut this stuff down. Any suggestions?

    1. Beezus

      Stop buying chocolate. When he complains, and he will, don’t answer him, just give him an icy stare and go back to your work.

      1. NJ Anon

        So much this. And stop spending your own money for this stuff. If the job thinks it’s important, let them pay for it. Or he can buy his own.

    2. TCO

      Can you just stop putting out a candy bowl? If not, you have zero reason to feel bad or apologetic about shutting him down. Seriously, he’s out of line. Just state what you need, firmly and without apologies. “I’m out of chocolate today.” (Repeat as necessary.) “Peter, I need the chocolate bowl to stay where it is. Don’t take it to meetings.” “Peter, don’t throw my own chocolate at me.” Then just be silent and let him try to wiggle his way out.

    3. Artemesia

      This guy has ruined it for everyone. Put the bowl away. When he whines, say ‘Oh I think it is your turn to supply the chocolate bowl for the office.’ Our secretary had a chocolate bowl and I had one in my office. People who over indulged felt obligated to bring in treats to refill and so it worked pretty well. People like your obnox co-workers ruin it for everyone.

      Keep any chocolate treats you have for yourself and clients under lock and key and always respond to his comments with ‘I think it’s your turn now.’

      1. Afiendishthingy

        Agreed. Who are the West Wing fans? Canadian Dot needs to be Mrs. Landingham- people who deserve cookies get cookies.

    4. Sadsack

      Stop putting out candy. When he asks for some, tell him he’s welcome to buy some to refill the bowl. Not sure what to tell you about the flicking incident. That sucks and he shouldn’t have done it.

    5. KR

      I think it’s fair to put the bowl away and only keep it for people who deserve it. If he whines about it, tell him that he can go to the grocery store and pick up some chocolate to keep at his desk but you’re not going to continue to provide him with it. He’s being an idiot.

    6. A.D. Kay

      Wow… what if the chocolate had ended up hitting you in the eye, or, (ew!) your bustline? Wow! I agree with the other commenters’ suggestions. Sure, it will be weird, but he has already made it weird. Following their suggestions will only turn the weirdness back where it belongs–ON HIM! (h/t to Captain Awkward)

    7. Shell

      I think it’s totally fair, given that he flicked chocolate at you WTF, to put the bowl away. When he whines, you can icily say “given that you’ve attacked me with my chocolate and taken my bowl away, I don’t feel like you should get any from me.”

      And then proceed to give chocolate to others as usual.

      Will it help office relations? Probably not (I defer to more level-headed commentors for that). But that’ll feel so satisfying. Hey, if he wants to be childish…

    8. CMT

      What an ass. Stop providing chocolate and when he complains tell him it’s a consequence of his poor behavior.

    9. Karowen

      This is not going to be a popular opinion, but wanted to share the other side. If he thinks you are more friendly than you actually are, he may be doing all of this jokingly, genuinely not meaning any offense. Grabbing the chocolate bowl and running away while cackling manically? I’ve done that before. Throwing chocolate at people? I’ve done that before. Hell, one day I was PMSing so hard and complaining about lack of chocolate that someone went and got me some.

      Now, to be clear, these are all good friends (as in, I’ve been in their homes, they’ve been in mine, we hang out on the weekends sometimes), and it’s a reciprocated thing (I’ve run out and bought chocolate for people before, I restock the candy jar, they throw candy at me too), but…It’s possible that he genuinely is just trying to play around.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t tell him to stop, that doesn’t mean you can’t put the candy jar away, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation with him about how this is not okay with you. Absolutely do all of those things. I just wanted to provide perspective on how this may be a super-awkward person trying to be friends.

      1. TootsNYC

        He spent time lining up the shot–and you didn’t stop him. So he may have thought you guys are buddy-buddy, and he can tease you like that.

        I’d just go a little “civil” at him and put the chocolate away for a while.

    10. Clever Name

      Creeper: Where is the chocolate? I neeeed some!
      You: Why? So you can throw it at me?

      Creeper: I waaaant my chocolate!
      You: Sorry! You ate it all!

      1. Not So NewReader

        I was going to say something similar. No more chocolate. Then when he says something, you say:

        “I have had the chocolate stolen off my desk, I have had it thrown at me annnnd people never say thank you for something I pay for out of my own pocket. So now the chocolate is gone and everyone has to get their own.”

    11. catsAreCool

      Would it be worth going to your manager to talk about the chocolate flicking? That’s just over the top.

      I’d also stop buying chocolate.

  72. TeapotRepairJob

    Thoughts on how I should approach this “your boss isn’t going to change” situation. I work a within a very niche industry with a niche work cluster. My institution is a government teapot repair entity and my division deals with antique teapot repair. Our division is broken into departments. Needless to say it’s a very hierarchical environment. This causes a lot of problems in part because the hierarchy is often reinforced with policies such as some junior people can’t speak to senior people and that information goes through two or three people before hitting the person directly affected by the information (if at all).

    This situation is compounded by the personality of the division director. Jane has a degree in antique teapot repair, a certification in basic teapot repair (but this certification is a joke and resembles a final test in an undergraduate class), and a few years doing teapot repair. However, she only did teapot repair for three years (at a smaller government teapot repair shop) and has been in management for decades (only six years with us). She’ll pull priorities out of the air and not realize that only spending five hours a week on high priority repair jobs means it will take longer. It’s a constant moving target on what our priority is and how much time to work on certain projects. Also, she will often refuse to purchase the proper glue for antique teapot repair so it doesn’t look like we are wasting taxpayer money but wants to purchase new furniture. She will complain that Wakeen’s computer needs to be on the left side of his desk rather than the right (he has explained and shown her why he did that). Or that Sarah’s work space is too big because she’s only a part-time teapot repair assistant. Sarah does a lot of processing and needs more space to perform her repair work. Interestingly Jane almost always brings the purchasers for the agency into work areas when most people are gone for lunch or training (or at least the person whose desk is getting a makeover) so know one can ask why. Basically Jane cares more about how the work space looks to tours than what we need to do our jobs.

    Jane also has a bad temper and trash talks job applicants (and makes anyone within earshot wonder what she is saying about us). Most of what Jane does makes us roll our eyes because she does not handle push back very well. She shuts down when employees try to explain why we need to do things in a certain order or why someone likes sports. The lower you are in the hierarchy, the less one’s opinion matters. If one gets positive feedback from Jane, then it often seems like she is patting herself on the back for “leading” the employee. Trust in Jane is almost nonexistent. Most of us like what we do (and most of the department heads are well-respected and fight for employees), so we have found ways to deal with Jane.

    Our level of government does these surveys every few years or so to see where improvement is needed and to improve retention. Not surprisingly, questions dealing with getting what we need and our division director get negative responses. HR also leads mandatory focus groups for the different divisions to dig deeper. Before these focus groups, Jane will bring people into her office (with no context) to give them cookies. These sessions are awkward and people want to escape as soon as they can. Since we can’t bring the cookies to our desks (because we do antique teapot repair there), we can’t grab and get back to work. She isn’t fooling anyone and people will ask each other what kind of bribery cookie one picked. Right after these sessions, Jane will target an employee, try to get them fired (with one success), and put others on probation to set an example.

    Any advice on surviving these sessions? I’m hoping I get in a bribery cookie session with some talkers, but who knows. HR has proven that they will blab about who said what in these sessions, so I don’t think these sessions can lead to open discussions.

    1. Ismis

      How honest can you be in the HR session? Aka – “in the past, these conversations have not been confidential (and/or productive), so I prefer not to answer”. Rinse and repeat. Is that at all possible?

      1. TeapotRepairJob

        The HR director has lunch with the division directors on a semi-regular basis, so there is the appearance that we can’t be honest. The HR focus groups tend to be large enough that I could be silent (or comment on a few things) for those.

        The problem is the bribery cookie sessions with Jane prior to the HR sessions. These are often with two or three other people and clamming up may not be possible . She likes to divert blame to others. In the case of clamming up, she is likely to whine that she is doing all the work when it comes to communicating. It’s not to hostile levels, but its unproductive. In past division-wide meetings, she often states her door is always open so employees are the problem in communication break down.

    2. Not So NewReader

      This is our government. We pay for this. siiighhh.

      You don’t mention Jane’s bosses. I assume you cannot approach them given the culture here.

      Going public is probably not something to consider.

      This sounds like a person with little to no leadership skills. Additionally, she has no plan on gathering any skills any time soon.
      I think what you see is what there is to see, as long as Jane is there. She has been there six years? That did not happen without the agreement of her higher ups. At some point things stop being a boss problem and start being a problem at the upper level of authority.

      None of this helps you with the cookies. I would refuse to eat the cookies so I could exit the room on a moment’s notice. Until you find other sane people that are willing to go out on a limb by saying what is wrong here, you are pretty much stuck trying to stay under the radar. If TPTB are happy with how things are, then nothing will ever change.

      Maybe you can console yourself by telling yourself, “If the taxpayers, who pay Jane’s wages, saw her in action, she’d have a new job cleaning horse stalls.”

      1. TeapotRepairJob

        Interestingly, the current agency head (Jane’s boss) is trying to flatten the agency hierarchy and offers ways for staff to communicate with him directly. He is aware of many of Jane’s issues judging on our interactions with him, and it seems like he wants Jane to improve her bedside manner. There are subtle things Jane has started to do since the agency head came on board, but she expects us to trust her and communicate openly (and stick our neck out) because she had a half-hearted change. The agency head is requiring the directors to do more soft skills training, so he is trying to help improve things where he can. Essentially he is trying to get Jane to realize that her behavior is not okay. Too bad he came on after Jane had been here for a few years.

        Refusing a cookie (and the session) worked last time, but won’t this time. Essentially these focus groups are suppose to replace an upcoming division-wide meeting. We haven’t heard when these sessions will occur (and how long we are trapped in her office). Only that we are to ask her questions and make suggestions. Maybe she wants to defend herself on some issues so they don’t come up in the HR sessions. The bribery cookie sessions are mandatory and refusing the cookie still means you have to do the session. At least with the cookie in your mouth, you don’t have to talk.

  73. T3k

    While I was applying to this one internship in my area (been a few years since I’ve been in school, but it wasn’t a specific requirement and I explained that the internship did match with a lot of skills I was looking to learn) my trusty browser showed that I had a spelling error in my resume (one letter was missing in the word). Needless to say, I was mortified and immediately went in and corrected the file for future applications. Thankfully the job I’m really eyeing lets you update your documents even after you applied. I just hope they didn’t already see it and go “nope.” T__T

    1. overeducated and underemployed

      It’s ok! I know typos are bad, but I’ve gotten interviews based on cover letters with words missing or repeated in the very first paragraph. (Not ideal but occasionally one slips through.)

  74. Carrie in Scotland

    So my last day is next tuesday (half day!) at my job before moving back home.

    I gave feedback to my manager about my thoughts on the role. I’ve had alot of spare capacity, shall we say. Part of her lack of delegating tasks was to do with my being on a paygrade lower than her so they are deemed “unsuitable” even though I could probably do them :-( the other main thinh I mentioned was I didn’t attend any meetings (it was in my job description) to minute them. I said that the “new me” could minute meetings on her days off (she works 3 days a week) and/or have a group to minute themselves…she chose one that only meetings 4 times a year!

    Sorry, new me, I did try!

    1. QualityControlFreak

      You know, all any of us can do is try. We give it our best shot, and if it doesn’t work out, we try something else. We get knocked down, but we get up again. That’s the key.

  75. Peaches, the rare not-rare cat

    I did something wrong that was discovered yesterday and I feel awful about it. I noticed a discrepancy and didn’t follow through on addressing it, which cost the company money. Ultimately, other people could have said something too, so all the fault isn’t in my hands, but I could have resolved it much sooner if I had just spoken up. Overall, I haven’t had a huge chewing-0ut about it, but there was definitely a department-wide e-mail that talked about what happened without naming names and I know the gossip mill is running, and just -ugh.
    I know there’s nothing else to do but own it and learn from it, but it still sucks.

    1. TCO

      There are some reassuring posts on AAM about people’s work workplace mistakes… I guarantee reading one of them will make you feel better!

    2. Beth

      For what it’s worth, I tend to remember the way my coworkers handle mistakes and not the actual mistakes they make (unless it’s clearly a chronic ignoring of a problem that they can fix but choose not to over and over again)

      1. TootsNYC

        True!

        Mr. Marcus of Neiman Marcus once told restauranteur Danny Meyer: The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.

        In fact, Danny Meyer has a great section in his book about how mistakes are opportunities.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I think a lot of people have stuff like this happen, where they should have spoke up. It’s a learning experience. If there you have a pattern of not speaking up in the future, it might be a problem. But it looks like right now, it’s a part of the culture as no one spoke up. I think you have a good handle on all of it and you will do stuff differently in the future.
      You can also use the email blast as a conversation opener. “Sue, I don’t want another email blast going on here, so I was hopping I could just talk to you. I found a mistake in the work you gave me. Do you want to get it fixed and give it back to me?” Notice, I say, “get it fixed” as if someone else did it before Sue. It kind of gives her an out and it covers you in case it really wasn’t Sue who did it.

      Chalk it up to a good scare and a learning experience. Promise yourself to do things differently in the future. Remember you are human. This is as good as it gets with stuff like this.

  76. Marketeer

    I applied for a position that gave a salary (not a range, just $x per year) but it also included a set bonus given at the end of the year. It’s in my range so I applied but during the phone screen this week, she asked my current salary and my range. I told her what I make currently and my range which I said was negotiable. The bottom of my range is pretty much the salary posted which I would be ok to take. I commute really far and spend a lot of money commuting so I would still be bringing home the same or more. Do you think I could have potentially priced myself out?

  77. Jay

    My daughter needs to have a surgery soon. I’m a first time mom and this experience has rocked my core. I will obviously need to tell my boss as this will impact my ability to be at work. The doctors said the surgery requires at least a 3 day hospital stay and I assume I will need and want to be with my daughter for at least 2-3 weeks after that to help her return to her sense of normalcy. What can and should I say to my boss without giving out too many details about this emotionally difficult situation. Also I used all my fmla leave during maternity leave so what sort of leave request can I make?

    1. fposte

      Wow, that’s tough–good luck to you and your daughter! I would worry less about not giving too many details and more about working collaboratively with your manager. Given that calendaring systems vary, are you sure you’re not eligible for any FMLA (I’d definitely check with HR rather than assume)? Do you have any PTO available to you? If not, are you okay with taking the leave unpaid? And can somebody else serve as caretaker for some of this time if necessary? It may help even to be able to come in for a meeting or to pick up some work at home.

      Basically, if you’re right that you’re not eligible for FMLA, they’re not required to give you leave, but certainly employers can choose to do so. I hope yours does.

      1. LCL

        Just be honest and realistic with your boss about how much time you will need to be away from the office. One of my mis steps as a manager was not clarifying things with an employee when she told me her child would be having surgery. She meant “I will need to be there the entire time of the surgery, and the entire time she is in the hospital, and won’t be returning for a week or two afterward.” She told me her child would be having surgery, and I thought this meant she would miss the day of the surgery then return to work.
        It wasn’t a huge problem because I didn’t make it so, but the people who had kids were disgusted with me for my perceived heartlessness.

        Best wishes for your daughter. Have you looked into the Caring Bridge website? That will allow you to give updates without having to talk to everybody.

      2. Jay

        I actually work at a small non profit and we don’t even have an HR department. We had an HR director but she recently left the organization so now there’s no one in that role.

        I would be OK with an unpaid leave, though. Should I approach it from that angle.

        1. fposte

          If you don’t have any PTO, unpaid leave is the thing to ask for. I would follow LCL’s guidelines of being very clear about how long and what you’re asking for. “My daughter’s illness means that I’ll need to care for her through surgery and recuperation. I would expect that to be a three-week absence starting February 22; I am out of PTO, so I understand it would not be paid. Can we make that work?”

          However, I would also check with your manager how the FMLA 12-month period is calculated. One way to calculate it is by calendar year, and if so you may be eligible for some FMLA again, which would protect your job during your leave. (Calendar year isn’t that common, but it’s worth a query.) Also check your state laws–there might be a little bit more wiggle room in a state law (California is the obvious suspect there). Might as well strive for both goodwill from your employer and awareness of basic legal protections that could cover you.

          And again, best wishes to you both.

        2. Beth

          Don’t give your lowest offer first, describe the situation and discuss options, I’d only suggest unpaid only if a person with actual authority has indicated that payment is not an option. This is one of the ways we can help close the gender pay gap, by normalizing negotiations around pay/work/family for both men and women

  78. Heth

    Thank you to A, Triangle Pose, Blake A, and Not So NewReader for giving me advice re two interviews in one day last week. They both went ok but sadly I didn’t get either job. Got the email about the second one while typing this!
    The first one wouldn’t have been a good fit so I’m not surprised and fine with not getting it.
    Second one I’m more disappointed about as I found out more in the interview and it sounded amazing. I also missed out some information that might have improved my chances but what’s done is done. I’ll schedule some time for more applications tomorrow and make sure I do better then :-)
    Thank you all again (and Alison for this brilliant site).

    1. Not So NewReader

      Aw, I’m sorry Heth. Hang tough. You’re getting closer to finding the job that is actually your new job.

      And you’re right about this site. Alison has brilliantly executed her brilliant idea. Gives us all a place to come back to so we can fortify ourselves for the next big deal at work.

  79. jazzyisanyonymous

    So, I’ve just been a lurker for some time now. I was hoping that maybe some of you lovely people could provide some advice for my situation. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree last year, and a few months prior to graduating took a full time selling insurance at an agent’s because it was all I could find and I was really broke. It wound up being a huge mistake.

    The woman I worked for there was a terror. She would stand in the middle of the office and swear at all of us, and sometimes she would call us individually for any tiny error she found. Once she screamed that she never wanted to open an f’ing preschool and she shouldn’t have to pay any of us for being, well, a very nasty name for the differently abled. It finally came to a head six months into my employment there when she threw a rather heavy paperweight at a coworker after screaming at her for half an hour.

    I took the first job I could get. Also selling insurance. It isn’t what I want to do, and it doesn’t have much to do with my degree. I’ve been here for about a year and a half, and things are about as dysfunctional as before. I’m barely making enough to make ends meet, and the only jobs I’ve gotten many calls back are customer service jobs I’m really not interested in. Right now, I work in a basement with one other person who is quite difficult to deal with, and it’s tough to deal with not having anybody else.

    I feel like my bachelor’s degree was a waste. My husband may be getting a promotion that would take him to Chicago, and I’m about ready to apply for things there. Will only having been here for a short be held strongly against me? I guess I just don’t know what to do…

    1. TCO

      1.5 years in your first job after college isn’t a red flag (at least in most industries), especially since you have the excuse of “moving to be with family” to help explain why you’re seeking a new job. Could you leave that first awful job off of your resume completely, since most of your time there overlapped with school?

      1. Not So NewReader

        That is what I would try to do. And yeah, 1.5 years is not that short a period of time.

        If you can, financially, hold out for the type of work you want. Don’t just grab anything. This is a huge mistake I made with my life. Try to avoid it if you can.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      No advice, but some encouragement. When I got my degree in computer science (back in the dark ages), one of my supporting jobs while attending college was working in a shoe repair. After I graduated, I couldn’t find a programming job, and ended up working for another couple of years in another shoe repair. It was discouraging. But I did eventually find a job in my area, the schooling wasn’t a waste.

      You’re reading AAM, so you’re already way ahead of where I was in that point of my career. Apply in Chicago, keep us updated. Try showing how your non-degree type work still gives you valuable skills for the jobs you’re applying for. And someone will eventually give you a chance. With your AAM guided resume and cover letter, you’re already ahead of a lot of people.

    3. KR

      I wonder if a temp agency would be a good first step to get into some work you actually want to do. Non-profit or volunteer work is also a good resume booster. Your university may have a job board, or any professors that you really connected with in school may be able to help you out of your situation.
      A lot of people who get degrees keep doing what they were doing before college.

    4. Ad Astra

      You have a lot more leeway as a new grad, and that’s compounded by the fact that you’re working in a field unrelated to your degree — which is something companies can see by looking at your resume. You can mention why you’re moving in the cover letter, which will easily explain a relatively shore tenure at your current job. So I wouldn’t sweat this too much.

    5. Artemesia

      I wouldn’t worry about the time thing since your family is moving and new to Chicago. Great time to make a break. And early in your career it is not uncommon to switch directions. And Chicago is IMHO heaven on earth — great public transport, fabulous cultural opportunities and a fair number of them are free. People are friendly and the restaurants are good. The museums are fabulous and annual memberships open up so many great activities for no further cost. The entire edge of the city is one lakefront park and housing costs are reasonable. Meetup has a ‘group’ called ‘Windy City Explorers’ which is just a walking tour of various neighborhoods during nicer times of the year; they do a different one each weekend. It attracts 100 people a weekend and often people new to town; it is a great way to learn about different neighborhoods and meet people.

  80. toa

    Does anyone work in non-profit development/fundraising? I have read in multiple places that the average length of stay for CDO/DDs is less than 12-18 months. I left 1 job after one year, just passed the 1 year mark at my current job…What’s considered job hopping in this industry?

    Thanks!

    1. Lia

      I don’t, but my partner does, and says that the average tenure for chief development officers is usually around 18-24 months, and about the same for front line fundraisers.

    2. phedre

      I’m a development director, and they do say the average tenure is somewhere around 2 years. But I think a lot of it depends on where you are and what fields. Some of the bigger nonprofits turn over fundraisers fairly quickly, while it’s not unusual for DDs to stay at smaller nonprofits longer. I’ve been at my current job 2 years (planning on staying here another 3 or so) and the one before that 4 years, but I’ve spent most of my career working in smaller shops where I’ve built fundraising programs from scratch. Turnover looks a lot different at big institutions like universities or hospitals

      I wouldn’t think anything of it if someone had a bunch of shorter tenures under their belt, especially when they’re just starting out in the field, but eventually I’d want to see something a little longer because it takes at least 6 months to a year to get fully up to speed. So how effective will you be if you leave every job after 18 months? But as with everything else, it just depends on the specifics. A lot of the reason development directors job hop has to do with unrealistic expectations from the board/ED (e.g., expecting that you’ll grow individual giving from $25,000/year to $250,000/year right away), or a lack of support. I know I’ve left fundraising jobs because of the latter.

      A big part of the reason I haven’t job-hopped a lot is because I’ve been very lucky to work for people/orgs who spent time developing and helping me develop my skills. Working for supportive organizations who understand fundraising (or are willing to be taught) and who are willing to invest money in fundraising makes a huge difference. My current job pays me well, pays for professional development, trusts my judgment, gives me autonomy, and doesn’t make me work insane hours. But I’ve learned over the years that if you screen organizations carefully during interviews you can figure out which ones will treat you well.

      1. toa

        Thank you so much for your reply! I think you make a good point about depth of skill not being developed in shorter term jobs – that’s definitely a concern of mine. I also work at a great org that pays me well, good hours, great benefits, and great opportunities to deepen my skills…I think that means I should be thinking about staying her a long while!

  81. KR

    I missed last week’s open thread so I’ll share that last week I found some work slacks that look awesome, totally not matronly and fit better than any pair of slacks I’ve ever owned. They don’t even need to be hemmed. Bonus? One pair was half off from $76 and the other pair had been reduced from $76 to $4 (no kidding).
    My door to my office locks because we have a lot of equipment in here and our building is open to the public. I hate when people try the door knob and walk away when it’s locked. They’re usually gone by the time I get up and open the door, don’t knock and give me a chance to come open the door, and don’t use phone or email to try to get in touch with someone in the office.

    1. fposte

      Can you put a sign up? I would read a locked door as you being either out of the office or uninterruptable.

      1. KR

        I’m thinking about doing something like that. If you don’t push the door handle down all the way it doesn’t open even if the door is unlocked which turns people away too so I think the only option is to prop the door open when someone is in the office.

  82. Small town reporter

    Last Friday, I got to go to an industry event that included an awards banquet at the end. My paper (and really, me, since I’m the only reporter/photography) got five awards in our class, which was really fun. I can’t say I was 100 percent happy with the awards (not one first place, and it’s not like there were that many entries in some of the categories), but it was so cool to get recognized anyway.
    The better part was spending a day with my boss (this was the third time I’ve seen him since I started working here 15 months ago) and getting to know him and some of my colleagues (people in the same role as me, just at different papers, as well as our web admin) a little better.
    The best part? Laughing at myself for having “country mouse in the big city” parking problems. And learning that my colleagues did, too. I was kind of stressed out about having to drive in the downtown area, but it was so easy, even with my inability to get in the correct lane for the parking garage. Multiple times.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Congrats on the awards!
      I hate parking garages. The last one I was in the ceiling was so low, that it felt like a coffin. Pick-up trucks were with in inches of the ceiling.

  83. chocolatechipcookie

    Would like some suggestions for something mildly annoying. I sit across from a higher-level coworker (not on my team, just on the same project) that people are constantly looking for, but he’s often in meetings. Some people interrupt me to ask if I’ve seen him. And it’s typically different people, so not like I can ask someone in particular to not do it. I could shut or half-close my door, but it’s really not that often and I don’t want to be seen as inaccessible to my own team. Should I just suck it up and answer as a simple ‘nope’? On a previous project, I had a coworker that would always says ‘hey I know you’re not so-and-so’s keeper, but have you seen him?’ and I never minded that (also the person in question was actually on our team).

    1. AnotherFed

      You probably are stuck with at least some of this. You could ask your coworker if he’s got his availability in outlook or even to try a simple in/out board, but even if he does that, people will probably just ask the nearest person rather than think to check for themselves. I sit next to someone who lists her entire calendar on a white board at her desk, and people still ask me where she is.

    2. Dawn

      Because I am a bit snarky, I would absolutely make up a little sign and tape it up where everyone could see it that says “No, I don’t know where Wakeen is”. I think a couple weeks of that and everyone would get a sensible chuckle and the message that you usually have no idea where your colleague is!

      1. chocolatechipcookie

        Heh. If it gets worse, I might consider this, or a little sign that I can just silently hold up when somebody asks.

        I don’t feel it’s quite bad enough to warrant asking him to put something on his own door, if the people trying to find him are that concerned they should really check Outlook (we all have our availability in Outlook, although that doesn’t mean people will check it if they just want to come ask a quick question). Maybe I should start saying something to that effect (to check Outlook). I could see that people might think I would know if he was out sick or something, but I don’t – he’s not on my team so I’m just not in that loop.