open thread – February 19-20, 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 :)

{ 1,365 comments… read them below }

  1. Mockingjay*

    Ethical dilemma.

    Yearly task order is being implemented here at Toxic Job. This year’s staffing includes another technical writer position, which we don’t need. Intrepid Colleague and I have insufficient workload as it is, other than Meeting Minutes. We’ve discussed the low demand with both company and customer, but nothing changes.

    Company is moving forward anyway; they of course are looking at the funds they will get for the position. Intrepid Colleague and I will be asked to sit in on the interviews.

    So here’s the problem: we can’t in good conscience bring anyone else into this project. It’s just a horrible place to be and we are both looking to get out. The company is having financial difficulties as well and may be closing the facility within a year. How do we handle the interviews?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      One person’s horrible is another’s paradise. Seriously. I agree, not having enough to do would drive me batty, but that might suit someone else just fine. Plus, if you and your coworker leave, they’ll need this person. I’d be honest and answer questions in the interview, but there’s no need to try to steer someone away from the job.

      My old work friend went back to a company many of us left previously (including him). Most of us would never go back there, but he did, and he is much happier than he was here.

      1. Helen of What*

        Totally agreed. There are people out there who like having less responsibility and jobs they can check in and out of. I get itchy and bored (and nervous that they’ll figure out I’m lacking work and fire me). But that’s not an issue for everyone.

        And if you two leave, they’ll have two people’s low workloads. Maybe it’ll balance out. So be frank about what it’s like to work there, y’know “It can be really quiet at times, so you’ll have to find things to do.” When I first graduated college, I interviewed at a place where they literally said to me “There’s not much to do but answer phones/the door. Are you an artist or something else you can work on during slow times?” And I was like “YESS I WILL WORK ON MY NOVEL!”

        1. Mockingjay*

          The irony of your last statement was that my former supervisor WAS working on her novel (self-published on Amazon) instead of doing her job and the senior engineers stopped sending her work for us. She was eventually removed. I was next in line to assume her duties (document assignment & tracking, and team lead, which I have a decade of experience doing), but the Government Project Lead was so disgusted by her and my company [there are other problems too] that he moved those duties to a government team lead.

          So for the last year, Intrepid Colleague and I have had to hold out our hands and beg: “Please sir, may I have a document?” There’s plenty of project work to be done; the engineers have just gotten into the habit of doing things themselves and they’re okay with that. So I don’t see the situation improving – instead of two people twiddling thumbs, we’ll have three. Also, the local job market is quite slow at the moment. I’ve been looking for a year; I don’t anticipate finding anything soon.

          1. The Rat-Catcher*

            I hear you so much. I HATE being at a job and having to beg for work to do. At my first job, it was nearly constant, and when I brought it up, the woman who was the worst about it would reply “Well, there’s always cleaning.” And don’t get me wrong, as a teenage student worker I was not in any way above cleaning, but they were already paying people for that!! Like, if there isn’t work then let me go home!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’m about to ask for that last bit myself, today. It’s very very quiet and I have no idea if I’ll get anything else this afternoon (please no). Plus, it’s super nice outside. :)

            2. mander*

              Ugh, me too. Sounds great at first blush, but I once did a project where we couldn’t actually do any work because of a safety situation but we weren’t allowed to go home or move to a different site. So we sat in the site canteen and drank tea all day, waiting for something to change. It was incredibly boring.

        2. Rachel*

          My first full-time job was as a receptionist for an FBO at an airport. During the interview the controller told me “I hope you like to read, you’ll have a lot of time for it”. Big smile on my face – and soon after I started there, I decided to re-read my entire Stephen King collection. Amazing how much reading you can do when your interruptions are maybe once or twice an hour. (I will also admit to napping on occasion, although I tried so hard not to…lol)

      1. Sadsack*

        This is one strategy, but the other thing I think Mockingjay is concerned about is how to pitch the job to interviewees. Seems like a hard sell.

    2. Tris Prior*

      I would be truthful about the down sides of working there, if asked (assuming that wouldn’t get you in trouble with your bosses for telling the truth; it sounds like you are not the one actually conducting the interviews?). As someone who’s been lied to in interviews before about key parts of the job, I would never want to do that to anyone else.

      Like, not saying “OMG this place is horrible, run!” but being candid about some of the issues that a new hire would face, such as the lack of work.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. Also, seconding AnotherAllison’s observation that this could be a great opportunity for the new hire to step up if you and Intrepid Co-Worker leave.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Being truthful with the candidates:

        Candidate: So, tell me, OP, what does an average work day look like here?
        You: Well, I come in and fix a cup of coffee. I pretend to check email for about 2 hours and then get up and get another cup of coffee.
        Candidate: How is the potential for growth here, where do you think you will be in five years?
        You: [insert physical address of major competitor]

        I think using this method here, you will only have to sit in on one or two interviews tops and they will remove the responsibility off your to-do list.

      3. Anxa*

        While being professional, I would focus on letting interviewees make on informed decision. Even if the company does go under soon, that job could be enough to get them a toe hold in their career.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      In addition to the other good replies, imagine if the person hired is near the end of their unemployment, and any job is better than potentially being homeless. Even if the facility closes within a year, that’s a year’s worth of work for that person.

  2. Q*

    There are often discussions on here about when to talk salary so here is one for you. I applied for a job that I knew was way below my desired salary and that according to my resume I was over qualified for. The salary wasn’t listed on the job posting but I checked out glassdoor.com so I had an idea of their range. I applied at 4:30 on a Tuesday at 8:15 the next morning I got a call. Thinking wow that was fast, I called back that afternoon and the recruiter said she just needed to know what my desired salary was. I gave her my true minimum (which is actually less than I make now) and she just said oh ok thanks. I don’t think I’ll be hearing back from them anytime soon. But I am grateful they got it out of the way right up front and we didn’t waste each other’s time.

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Hopefully they will give you the minimum and not use that as your ceiling, should you hear back.

      Piece of advice – don’t base your desired salary on what the company is willing to pay. Base your desired salary on the market rate for your role and experience.

      Don’t sell yourself short as you walk in the door.

  3. going anon for this*

    Our team is structured into Teapot Team Leads, Sr Teapot Project Managers, and Teapot Project Managers. We have 6 different types of teapots we work one, 3 high-level teapots (Teapot A1, Teapot A2, Teapot A3) and 3 lower-level teapots (Teapot B1, B2, B3). Every Teapot PM works on one high level and one low level project, so someone might work on A1 and B2 projects, someone else on A2 and B1, etc.

    I’ve been assigned to all six different types of teapots and have worked on all those projects, so not only have I had to learn more, but my project list is double that of my fellow Teapot PMs. When I looked at our shared list of who has what projects and who’s completed what, I’ve done well over double the amount of work of everyone else, and this includes the intensity and time required for the project.

    When I brought this up to my Teapot TL and asked for a raise, I was told no. We work at a big corporate company where everyone gets the same raise percentage (it was 1% last year which came out to $5 more in each paycheck). Promotions only happen if someone leaves a Sr Teapot PM position and even if that happens, people are promoted based on how long they’ve been at the company. So if a Teapot PM has been here 5 years but is a low performer, they’re going to get the promotion over a Teapot PM who has been here 2 years but is a high performer.

    All my performance reviews have been glowing and I’m constantly being told what an asset I am to the team and how my high workflow is a great benefit and very appreciated. But it’s been like this for going on for 2 years and I’m a little tired of doing double the work of everyone else on my team and not being compensated fairly. I would be happy with the ability to work from home or have a flexible schedule or some comp days to make up for not getting a better raise, but my TL has said that while he understands and wishes he could do more, the company doesn’t want to treat anyone differently because it could lead to low morale or other issues.

    I’m just really frustrated. I’ve been looking for a new job, but I’m worried that 3 1/2 years at my first job and then 2 and this job will look like I’m job hopping too quickly.

    1. Mike C.*

      That’s not job hopping.

      Look, they don’t give a shit about you or your progression and they’re more than happy to make you do double the work of your peers for no additional benefit. Time to polish up that resume and get out.

      1. neverjaunty*

        What he said. This is a company that thinks patting you on the head and telling you “good job!” is a substitute for tangible recognition, like, say, a decent raise.

          1. hermit crab*

            “Well, I sure hope JCPenney accepts Really Appreciate Its, ’cause I know for a fact they stopped taking I’ll Be Your Best Friends a while ago!” – Strongbad

              1. I'm a Little Teapot*

                Oh man. If I were waiting tables and someone gave me a religious tract as a “tip,” I’d contact the religious organization in question and bawl them out. Also, post a mockery online.

                I’ll bet they’re the sort of church where the pastor drives a Mercedes, too.

          2. ExceptionToTheRule*

            when I was much younger, I applied for a position in a very Sunshine-y State within my company. They offered me the job at the same salary I was making in Low Cost of Living State (which still wasn’t enough to pay the rent) and when I called them on it, they told me the benefit of living in Sunshine-y State near the Happiest Place on Earth would outweigh the lack of salary increase. I asked if the landlords near the Happiest Place on Earth took sunshine as a rent payment. The manager said no and did not find my humor at all amusing.

    2. S*

      It may be worth raising those concerns with your supervisor, to see if your workload can be lessened. If you are working more hours than everyone else, you are not only doing yourself a disservice, but giving your managers an incorrect assessment of what the person who replaces you will be able to accomplish.

      1. going anon for this*

        I’m not working more hours, but I’m doing more in the same hours as everyone else. I tend to work quickly and I think that’s why I was trained on more projects and given more work in the first place.

        1. TheAssistant*

          Get out! At my last performance review, I was able to demonstrate to my boss that I did twice the work as everyone else and she started the review with “you’re killing it”. And while a raise or a promotion is just not possible right now (she’s made that very clear and is transparent about why and how it’s not in her power), I am able to work a flexible schedule, had a lot of my busy work removed from my plate so I can focus on professional development, got to change my desk so I’m in a quieter section of the building, have proposed a title change which she is considering, and I have my pick of projects. And I was publicly recognized for my work within our (very large) division. If they’re not able to reward you with even little quality-of-life things like that, then they don’t deserve to have you working harder than anybody else.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Think of that broader experience as a benefit they didn’t know they were giving you. They’ve trained you really well, giving you much more experience, and now you can LEAVE THEM ALREADY!

          Play that up in interviews, that you work efficiently and concertedly enough that your 3.5 years is really more like 5.

      1. Always Anon*

        “You know where you stand and you stand in bullshit.”

        Thanks, now I have a perfect way to describe my previous job.

    3. Q*

      This is a perfect recipe for how to destroy the motivation of an excellent employee. Rewarding time served over value provided does nothing except make the good people leave or over time they keep pulling back until they too are just putting in time.

      1. Artemesia*

        And since the OP doesn’t NEED to look for another job right away, she is in a position to look at a leisurely base and only make a move that really is a step up. I’d have the search in high gear and be perfectly relaxed about not having to jump until the exactly right thing comes along. And when exit interviewing or asked by supervisor ‘ but WHY? You are so great here.’ let them know that since promotions and raises are based on time served and not productivity you want to go to a place that rewards your work. Do a good turn for those that follow.

        1. going anon for this*

          Thanks, this is really helpful. I’ve decided to take the time and choose a new job I want instead of taking the first thing that comes along.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      “the company doesn’t want to treat anyone differently because it could lead to low morale”

      Oh the irony. This is a recipe for protecting the morale of low performers at the expense of the morale of high performers – while eliminating the incentives for the low-performing folks to improve.

    5. CMT*

      DTMFA! TMF in this case being your job. I don’t think 3 1/2 years and then 2 years looks like job hopping, but I am not a hiring manager.

    6. TootsNYC*

      yeah, no, that’s not job hopping.

      And when someone says, “why are you leaving,” you can say, “I’ve been performing at a top level, handling a wider variety and a bigger load, and they don’t promote or give raises to top performers. I want to work somewhere that my level of experience and my dedication are valued. I give a lot to my company, and it’s disheartening to get so little back.”

      1. CMT*

        I would be weary of saying this in an interview. The interviewers have no way of knowing if you’re truly a top performer who is not being recognized, or if you’re a mediocre employee who overestimates their value to the company. They don’t know what’s fair or not, so they might think that if they hire you, you’ll demand raises you don’t deserve.

      2. BuildMeUp*

        I think bringing up that there are no opportunities for advancement is the best way to go, but I would take the emotional part out of it – don’t mention that it’s disheartening, etc. Just stick to the facts.

        “I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and work with all 6 different types of teapots, and I’ve taken on more responsibilities than any other project manager at my level. I’m ready for new challenges, and since there aren’t many opportunities for advancement at Company, I’m looking for a new role where I can really use the skills I’ve developed.”

        1. Star BA*

          I’d try to include in my answer the fact that the manager has offered glowing reviews, saying something like

          Why are you leaving?

          “You know, while I appreciate my boss recognizing with praise my high productivity and ability to handle a wider variety of projects and bigger load than than my peers, raises and promotions in my company are based on how long someone has been working there. That has made me realize that I’m ready for new challenges and a new role where I can really use the skills I’ve developed.”

  4. Crispy*

    I’m having some really bad stress, anxiety, and depression caused from work so much so I had to take FMLA medical leave. Part of it is because they are discriminating against me for a disability (that’s a whole separate issue that I don’t want to get into. I spoke to several employment lawyers who say I have a case but it’s not the strongest (but there are def. illegal things going on) and I’m not sure I want to put myself through a lawsuit- I may post a separate question). It’s so bad that I don’t want to go back and finish up my two weeks after my medical leave is up (I was given a month by my doctor).

    So my question is what are my options? Can I give my two weeks notice while still on medical leave? Can I work with my doctor to maybe say I’m unable to return to work? Should I really just try to suck it up and finish the two weeks?

    I just don’t know how it will look if I leave on medical leave and I had two lawyers advise me that they might terminate me when I get back from medical leave. I’m not sure about this but they possibly could? I know if I go back and work for two more weeks maybe I can leave at least on somewhat good (or at least not bad) terms.

    Any advice is appreciated and I understand that this is the real world and I may have to just suck it up for it to not impact my career later on.

    1. fposte*

      Two weeks gives them a better chance on the transition, so I’d say that’s worth doing if you think you can. But that’s if you think you can, not “even if it kills you.” I think you’ll have to judge that.

      And yes, they can terminate you when you return. They can terminate you when you’re out on medical leave, for that matter. It just can’t be for taking FMLA leave.

      BTW, were you out on unpaid leave? Be aware that, if so, the employer is allowed to require you to reimburse them for their part of your health insurance during the time you were out, unless you return for at least 30 days. (There are exceptions if you no longer are able to work or retire entirely.)

      1. Stephanie*

        This. You can, but they can also charge you for the full insurance rates, for that time period. I recommend a frank discussion with HR, or I would if they weren’t failing you over the discrimination issues.

        1. fposte*

          Since it was only a month, I’m hoping Crispy may have managed it paid, or it may not be a prohibitive amount. But I know it bites a lot of maternity leave folks in the behind.

    2. Anna*

      It’s not unheard of not to return to a job after FML. Women who decide to stay home after their maternity leave ends come to mind. I think if you feel like you can do it, you could give your two weeks to help with the transition but it’s not unheard of to just not return.

    3. BRR*

      Unless you have a contract, you can quit at any time. My advice is ultimately you need to do what is best for you. That might be not returning. That might be going back and getting let go because you need to collect unemployment and it’s easier to do if you get let go. Also for going back might be best because you want/need to end it professional from your end for a future job hunt. Hopefully that helps.

      1. Alma*

        You might want to have the employer have to state a reason for your termination – we know they can’t say “it is because you took a month of FMLA because your Doctor ordered it.”

        Also, if they terminate you, they won’t be able to ask for you to repay insurance premiums. I have no idea whether this differs from state to state, but they also have to cover you for the month.

        Caveat: I was let go on the 2nd Friday of December – my insurance was only until the end of the month. The month when everyone is trying to get procedures done for tax purposes, and to not have to meet a new deductible at the beginning of the year. AND the Dr’s offices had holiday closings. Try to get an eye exam, dental exam, a physical with gyn exam, mammogram, colonoscopy (talk about a PITA!!), and a MRI for something noted in the physical jn 12 days. You may need to consult with your Dr to see what you need to have covered in the immediate future.

        You may want to discuss medical insurance coverage with your attorneys if continuance of coverage is an issue for you. This might mean that an agreement may be proposed that assures your health insurance is paid for by the company for a certain time.

    4. StillHealing*

      The stress from a toxic work environment can kill you, I know this to be true. My advice is to do what protects your health as your first priority. Second, if you have an expert employment attorney, and you’ve been subjected to illegal practices, do whatever your attorney recommends. If there is a lawsuit you are working on, you’ll need to pay especially close attention to what your attorney would like you to do.

      But please don’t go back into a toxic work environment when it has already caused you such serious health issues that you’ve needed to go on FMLA.

  5. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Do you have a secret job aspiration? Not a cool one like rock star or fighter pilot or bestselling author, just like a mundane job that for some reason you would love and think you would be awesome at? Example: My husband has never worked retail and has always yearned to be a cashier, at least for a while.

    My secret job dream is to be a paperwork-processing clerk. I swear that if I could make a decent wage at it, I would genuinely enjoy being the person who receives paperwork, inputs it into a database, contacts people to inform them that they’re missing Form X, files papers away, and generally makes sure that everything is filled out. Honestly, processing things like applications for study permits or visas would be a great for me.

    My other secret job dream is border services agent. I don’t know why.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I loved being a receptionist, and my employers said I was very good at it. If the pay for those positions weren’t so low, I’d probably be doing that now.

      1. anonypoo*

        ooh i had this dream too – and now i do it for 5-10hrs a week on top of my “real” corporate day job! do recommend, btw.

      2. RLA*

        I used to do that a couple jobs ago – I was so happy when I switched from phone support (sooo many yelling customers) to chat and email.

      1. F.*

        Me, too! In fact, my brother went back to school in his 40s, earned an Accounting Degree and got his CPA. He is now working for a large corporation as a forensic accountant. We also currently have one on contract who is sifting through the morass of our company books due to reasons I can’t go into. I love doing research, solving problems and following the thread of a series of transactions.

        My other dream job would be professional genealogist, for much the same reasons.

        1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

          Yes, I love that kind of stuff too (the research, finding problems, noticing patterns, auditing, etc.). How did he get from CPA to forensic accountant? Were there any additional certifications or courses he needed to take?

          1. F.*

            I don’t know the details. He started with the corporation as an intern and has been promoted from there. Interestingly enough, his prior career was as a chief copy editor for a large market print newspaper. He recognized that print news’ days are numbered and decided to make the change while he was young enough to reap the benefits. Both jobs require an eye to detail, ability to work under deadlines, ability to recognize patterns, etc.

          1. StillHealing*

            Like for a draw bridge? You open and close the bridge for tall boats to sail through? That would be a cool job.

        1. Chameleon*

          Same here! Then again, I’m currently a biologist–I think it would be all the fun investigation of science, but numbers, unlike proteins, do what they are told.

          1. Alma*

            Have you read the Doc Ford series by Randy Wayne White? Read them in order. Highly recommended, especially for biologists.

          1. Hlyssande*

            I took archaeology classes in college and they were some of the most fascinating classes I ever took.

            One of them consisted solely of digging in the woods all day for a month. Best.

              1. mander*

                Finding old stuff in the first place, doing the recording (drawings, paperwork, sorting finds and putting them away), and being outside when the weather’s nice. And if you are digging steadily you get paid to work out!

                It does have a lot of downsides, though. The pay is terrible, it’s almost always a string of short-term contracts (so very unstable), you often work on noisy and dangerous construction sites, and you are outside working no matter how horrible the weather is. Also I’m not really that physically fit so it can be hard to keep up when you have a lot of heavy digging to do.

      2. TheAssistant*

        I can’t even explain to you the degree to which I covet this job. “Hi, can I just work through your spreadsheets all day and find illegal activities? Thanks.”

    1. Mike C.*

      F1 strategist. It looks like so much fun going through terabytes of live data trying to determine what other teams are going to do so you can give your own drivers the best course of action.

    2. Lillie Lane*

      Garbage[wo]man. I have a PhD and a technical job but it’s stressful and hard to “switch off”. I’d love a job with hard, physical work where you provide an essential service and it’s satisfying because you can see the amount of work you accomplished. Plus I’m curious to see what people throw away :)

      1. anonanonanon*

        My brother worked as a garbage man for awhile. People threw away a lot of perfectly good, working electronics because they bought the newer models.

        Though, his biggest annoyance was having to pick up trash that someone had let their dog pee or poop on when they were out walking it. It happened a lot. He also really hated working weekends because there was always at least one route where someone had puked on the trash bags or there was some really disgusting stuff on the outside of the bag, probably residue from parties.

        1. NotherName*

          One of my mom’s childhood friends married a garbageman. Her circle thought she had done very well for herself. (This was a good job in Cook County, IL.)

          1. Guinness*

            My neighbor drives a recycling truck, and he has it made. He now has a truck with the arm on it so he barely has to get out of the truck. If he finishes his route early, he gets to take a nap. He makes pretty solid money, too.

          2. Lillian McGee*

            Some comedian made a joke somewhere once that garbagemen and “pick up artists” should swap titles…

            Also I once saw a posting for trash collector in Lake Forest, IL where the starting salary was more than I will probably ever make in this office…

            1. Artemesia*

              I am a big fan of paying trash collectors and such a decent wage. Few people do work that is more valuable than what they do.

              1. MaryMary*

                I lived in Chicago during a sanitary workers’ strike, and I was ready to give them anything they wanted to go back to work. I’d always had a healthy respect for trash collectors, but it was summer and I lived in the apartment directly next to the dumpsters (and then the piles of trash that overflowed from the dumpster…).

          3. mander*

            I think it should be a good job anywhere. People who do things like cleaning and keeping basic things running should get a lot more respect (and pay) than they currently do, IMHO. Doing manual labor says nothing about someone’s intelligence, work ethic, etc.

      2. Brandy in Tn*

        My cousins husband works for DOT and my cousins family mocks the job. Its a govt b and better then any of them could aspire to.

    3. Not Karen*

      I worked as a barista for a little while and the actual coffee beverage making part of it was a lot of fun. The dealing with customers and terrible management was not.

      1. Dawn*

        I absolutely want to be a barista at a hip local coffee roaster somewhere. Bonus points if I get to come in early to make muffins and cookies :)

        Too bad there’s no way it’d pay anywhere near what I make now at my button up professional job.

      2. katamia*

        Yeah, in college I did some barista work, and I loved making the coffee drinks even though I can’t stand coffee (not even the smell).

      3. mreasy*

        If money was no object, I would go back to being a barista, no question! So fun. And even with the horrible customers, for the most part it was just another thing that made you bond w/ your coworkers…

      4. Anxa*

        That’s how I felt about food service. I didn’t mind dealing with customers. I did mind having to deal with management and customers and the kitchen.

        This is why I look for bussing jobs, but I don’t fit most management’s picture of a busses.

        1. Xarcady*

          At my retail job, I enjoy getting the clothes in order and sorted by size on the racks. It looks nice. There’s a sense of satisfaction when you have everything in the right place, organized by color, sorted by size.

          But there’s little time to do that. Most of the time, you are dealing with customers who can’t find what they want and get mad about it. It might be in the sale flyer, but that doesn’t mean our particular store carries it. Or the stupid coupons don’t work on the item they are buying–Corporate brags about sending out all these lovely coupons, and then makes so many exceptions to them that customers get angry and stop shopping here.

          1. Anxa*

            Ugh to the coupons!

            I hated being put in a positions where I felt the customer was absolutely right, but I couldn’t do anything to make it right or make them happy without getting in trouble, as if it were my fault the coupons had un-specified limitations (or whatever else the issue was). Then of course, if you do go get a manager, the manager throws you under the bus for even suggesting the business would do anything other than please the customer.

    4. Liz*

      As a kid, I always wanted to work at a library check out desk. I use to write bar codes in my books and pretend I was checking them out. I just love to read and I think it would be fun to see what others are reading. I do really like doing self check out as well as I get to scan my own stuff. I was a bit of an odd child so this is no real surprise!

      I would also love to be a food blogger/photographer but I think there are already like a billion of those out there.

      @Former Diet Coke Addict I worked at a backlog center for the DOL processing applications for non-us workers and it was pretty much like you described. It actually paid well for a summer job and I really liked the work. It was interesting to learn about the process that people have to go through and how little people want to pay their workers!

      1. Ama*

        I would love to be a shelver/cataloguer at a library. I was a library aide my senior year of high school and loved shelving so much (it was also a great mental break in a year in which I was overscheduled both in and out of school).

        I would particularly love being one of the people at the really big libraries who gets to work in the big underground stacks that are not open to the public.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I did that for a few months, and I liked the shelving part of it too. (There was a lot of organizational-politics stuff going on that I did not like, however.)

          1. NotherName*

            My first job was as a library page! And I worked as a circulation clerk before I went to grad school. I loved both jobs, but they did not pay well. (Aside from the fact that we didn’t have to pay overdue fines.)

            1. katamia*

              My first job was as a library page, too. I got really annoyed with people who wouldn’t shelve things in the right place, though (er, still do), and I really didn’t like people coming up to me and asking me questions. If I could be some sort of professional alphabetizer, though, that would be right up my alley.

        2. GovWorker*

          I had a work study job as an undergraduate and I sucked at it because I kept skimming through the books! Loved books and reading too much to do that job.

          I would love to be a professional organizer.

      2. hermit crab*

        Library circulation stuff really appeals to me too. I actually spend one evening a week volunteering at my local library supporting the circulation staff — maybe you could look into doing that!

        1. Ama*

          Heh, unfortunately I live in a place where the circulation jobs are paid positions (and hard to get, apparently), but if I ever move elsewhere I am totally looking into it — my hometown library had a similar program but by the time I was old enough I was too busy to commit to their minimum hours.

          1. hermit crab*

            It’s fun! You get all the satisfaction of the actual work without any of the frustration of actually working for a local government. :)

        2. Liz*

          That’s a good idea! I work in volunteer management so I always want to volunteer more as I got into this field for a reason.

        3. Melissa*

          Volunteer to help with circ during times the branch has programming scheduled. Storytimes….lots of little kids checking out stacks of picture book….guaranteed to make you feel useful and wanted! Programming days are always stressful on the staff at the Circ desk.

      3. Sophia Brooks*

        I did something similar- I am older than you, so I put “pockets” inside my books for a place to put the due date slip. I taped call numbers on the back of the books, and I even had a date stamper thing. I think possibly I would enjoy date stamping all day long, now that I think about it!

        1. Hush42*

          When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I always told people I wanted to be a Librarian. Unfortunately when I did grow up I realized how little librarians make and I’m getting an accounting degree instead.

          Also Think Geek sells kits with the pockets, cards, and stamps for your books so you can create your own library.

          1. Liz*

            I’ve seen those before and always wanted to buy them for my books. Once my library stopped using the card system, they use to put them out for scrap paper and I would take a bunch home with me. Again, I was a bit of an odd child!

          2. Mimmy*

            I was thinking of being a librarian too, either in an academic or “special” library. But I hear the field isn’t in great shape, and I think the more technical classes would be boring for me. Ugh – being in a social work or nonprofit resources library would be pure HEAVEN!!

          3. Doriana Gray*

            Where I live, full-time librarians get paid more than I make in risk management for a major financial institution! I was a librarian assistant (working the circulation and reserve desks, but also shelving and doing light research) for almost three years in college and loved it. I wasn’t willing to go into further debt for library school, though, and thus one of my dream jobs was put to rest.

      1. GovWorker*

        THIS particularly for fashionable plus sized women like me. Would love my boutique with vignettes put together by me anditems I want but cannot find when I am shopping.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Interior decorating is another job I’d love to have, though I’d probably specialize in small space decorating (I love thr challenge). I have a great sense of style, and it would combine two of my greatest passions: shopping and spending other people’s money.

    5. Not Karen*

      Also, I like putting together mailings. I find systematically stuffing envelopes to be boring but relaxing.

      1. Ama*

        I did that for an entire summer once — I had a temp job working for the department at an oil company that mailed out the results of secret shopper surveys to the owners of its gas stations. The environment itself was terrible (it was during a period when oil prices were incredibly low and there were layoffs happening left and right), but there was something very soothing about the work itself.

        I bet that job doesn’t even exist anymore because it is probably all done online now.

      2. Ekaterin*

        This was my favorite task when I volunteered on political campaigns in college! I enjoyed how it was relatively mindless (compared to my classes and part-time research assistant gig).

      3. Hush42*

        At Christmastime my company had a volunteer campaign where they set up certain days with the Rescue Mission to have groups of us volunteer for the day instead of working. I volunteered in the mail room with 6 other women from my company and we just stuffed envelopes for 6 hours. I actually really liked it. Also the guy who runs the mail room told us we were the most productive group of volunteers they’ve ever had :)

      4. Minion*

        At Oldjob, we used to do mass mailings periodically and we’d all sit in the conference room and stuff envelopes together. We had the best times doing that! Those are probably some of my best memories from that job.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      Market farmer.

      I have 10 acres of hay, and at lease once a year, I think I’d like to leave the rat race and raise vegetables. (Never mind that I barely make the effort to water my two house plants.)

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I too kill house plants, but I worked in the biology department greenhouse in college. It was so calming to go there, especially on a winter’s day, and water plants.

      2. Dot Warner*

        Yes! I read a lot of Mother Earth News and my dream is to buy some land out in the country and basically be a homesteading recluse for the rest of my days.

          1. Random Citizen*

            They make all the sound effects for tv and radio shows! I love hearing behind-the-scenes of my favorite shows of how they poured oatmeal on the floor and walked through it, drove recklessly around the neighborhood to get driving sounds, or hurled a watermelon off the top of a ladder. It sounds like a blast!

      1. Snargulfuss*

        I actually came across a reference to a professional reader at one point. On first thought it was my dream job, but as I thought more about it I realized that those people probably have to read a ton of drivel. I’d love to be paid to read, but only what I want to read!

        1. Maxwell Edison*

          I’m a freelance manuscript editor and yes, there’s lots of drivel. Some good stuff too, though.

    7. Lulu*

      I always wanted to be one of those people who goes into the grocery store and figures out the best placement to get people to buy certain products.

      Also, I really wanted to be a papparazzi when I was a kid.

          1. mander*

            Definitely flavour! I don’t give a monkey’s what brand it is, I just want to be able to find the tomato.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I just want to know why everything has to be rearranged periodically. I went to buy green beans the other day, and now all the vegetables are by brand then type. A few weeks ago, it was all by type, no matter what brand. Just pick one way so I don’t have to relearn it every time I shop.

              1. Kelly L.*

                Speculation:

                Part of it is because companies pay for better positioning on the shelf, so maybe Dole paid better last month and now Green Giant’s paying better, or something.

                Part of it may also be due to employees being told to look busy at times when there’s nothing to do, so they rearrange shelves to fill time.

                1. Honeybee*

                  Definitely the first part. There are consumer psychologists that do research on where consumers’ eyes fall first when looking at supermarket shelves (and shelves in any store). Some stores have consultants do research to organize the entire store based on psychological evidence of where and how people buy stuff. That’s also why grocery stores play that soothing Muzak-type stuff – it makes people move more slowly through the store, thus spending more time in the store, thus potentially buying more stuff.

                  /psychology!

              2. Not So NewReader*

                They told us that they had to move things around because it makes people try new thing they found while hunting for same old thing they always bought.

                A store near me has totally reconfigured TWICE in the five years. It is so annoying. What I can’t figure out is if their profit margins are so narrow (1-3%) why-oh-why waste all this money on labor and materials re-configuring the store every few years? These resets, as they are called, are so very labor intensive.
                Meanwhile, expired product sits on the shelf because no one has time to check dates.

                1. Dynamic Beige*

                  Both of those reasons are true. Companies pay higher amounts to have their product at eye-level than on the top shelf, out of reach. Sometimes there are new products that need special placement, or seasonal things. And, they do swap stuff around to make you shop longer. My grocery store hasn’t changed stuff in a while now, I could practically get everything I want while asleep but I’m sure that one day, I’ll go in and the canned stuff will be where the cereal was and it will take me a while to figure out where everything was moved to.

            1. plain_jane*

              But then you need to deal with the shelving person who puts “garden vegetable” miles away from the rest of the “vegetable” soups, or “heirloom tomato” separate from the “tomato”.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                Actually, a lot of store shelving is planned out. So if they decided to do all soups by flavour, odds are that someone would have the job of figuring out what order to put them all, making a planogram for it and then it would be distributed to the stores for the employees to follow.

              2. Florida*

                A lot of stores have that type of thing in alphabetical order. For example, all of the Campbell’s soup can are in one spot, alphabetized by flavor.

                1. Random Citizen*

                  Until a new flavor comes in and you don’t want to have to move three shelves worth of soup to fit it in in the correct alphabetical spot. Move over Veggie Beef! Make room for the Chicken Chipotle!

      1. GovWorker*

        That’s called merchandising. I wish they would just put the whole darn store in alpha order, no more wandering in the wilderness.

    8. petpet*

      I love to file and organize and put things in their place – I always loved shelving and filing paperwork when I was a student library worker. If I can pop in my headphones and zone out while I put things away, I’m in heaven!

      If only my love of organizing carried over to my personal life, ha.

    9. hbc*

      I love sorting things. Reorganizing stock or reshelving library books would be wonderful for me. *Is* wonderful, I guess–I’ll often surreptitiously sort shelves at the library when I’m there.

      1. Nancie*

        I did that in college, though it was mostly weekend/daytime work. If you ever get to live your dream, I have two suggestions:

        1. Make sure that you either live in an area with a great library system, or that you develop a love for fanfiction. Otherwise you’ll go broke buying books, even second-hand.

        2. Avoid guarding buildings that have exits you can’t see from the guard desk. The last place I guarded had two stairways that exited to the exterior, out of sight of the desk, on each side of the building. the weekend employees were constantly propping them open. Fun times.

        Related to item 2, a security style 7-D cell flashlight will survive being flung halfway across a parking lot, and still operate. Said flinging will also put the fear of something into teenage trespassers.

        1. NotherName*

          Well, I also enjoy crossword puzzles and knitting, as well as walking around by myself, so I think it’s a perfect job. :)

          1. Nancie*

            Oh, knitting would probably go perfectly with being a security guard! And all the walking is one part of the job I’ve always missed, especially on the rare occasions I was assigned to a really unusual building. It was pretty cool to have a closed-but-not-yet-demolished major airport all to myself!

        2. John Cosmo*

          Our library has a used book store in the basement that is open on Saturday. It is run by the “Friends of the Library” (a group of volunteers) as a nonprofit and all the funds raised go back to supporting library programs.

          They started out selling old library books (that had sat on the shelves for 2 or more years and had not been checked out) to make room for new library books. They call it “weeding.” Then they started accepting donations of used books from the general public and more than half of the books come from the general public.

          Books that have pages falling out or missing, or that have gotten wet and warped are recycled, as are books like old computer manuals, old college text books, and old medical books also get recycled.

          Volunteers get free books!

    10. bassclefchick*

      I would love to be a researcher at a law library! LOVED my Legal Research class. I could happily get lost in the stacks of a library anyway, but the law stuff was especially fascinating to me.

    11. ACA*

      Makeup artist! I am really good at picking out colors that would look good (and natural) on people, and I actually did the makeup for two of my friends at their weddings.

      1. Who watches the Watcher's?*

        Oooooo me too! Plus, I’d love to have some sheep and do the whole process with the wool to yarn and sell my crochet stuff!

              1. Lily in NYC*

                Every summer job I had growing up was on a farm. LOVED IT. The best was a huge orchard because the owner’s daughter and I would take overripe fruit and use it to make daiquiris after work. I like to think I invented strawberry rhubarb daiquiris but I probably didn’t.

                1. Who watches the Watcher's?*

                  I was a barn rat growing up, all through school and college. If only I could’ve found a farm/horse farm job that actually paid me a decent wage…for now I settle with cubicle farming that allows me to pay off those student loans.

    12. AVP*

      I work a 2-hour-per-month cashier shift at my grocery Co-op and I LOVE it. Seriously it’s so fun – you get to talk to everyone and see what they’re buying and the scanning/paying process is really satisfying. Your husband should try it!

      If scientific knowledge wasn’t an issue I would like to be a midwife or a doula.

      1. Kat*

        you don’t need scientific knowledge to be a doula! in fact is is expressly NOT a medical profession. I’m a doula and we are not authorized to give any kind of medical advise to our clients. Your training will help you with the hands-on knowledge.

        it’s incredible. I would highly recommend it.

      2. North*

        While I know there are some lovely people who do this work, if the fact that my sister-in-law just started her own doula business is any indication, you don’t have to have any actual qualifications for the position. Or even you know be a decent human being. Sigh.

    13. Muriel Heslop*

      Private Investigator. I thought about becoming certified and doing it part-time, but then I got pregnant. Maybe one day…

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Ooohhh, I’d be so good at this considering a huge part of my job is investigation (and I’m a former journalist). I’m always getting my Veronica Mars on in my personal life anyway, so one day when these student loan bills are paid and full, I may actually do this.

    14. themmases*

      I sometimes think about going back to retail. I always worked in department and big box stores as a student, and I averaged out to just OK at it. I was a super fast cashier, methodical stocker/facer, but too shy and anxious to really be considered good at it.

      I’ve gotten way better at talking to anyone since then, and even asking strangers for stuff, and I’m less of a perfectionist now so I think I would no longer be a barrier to my team going home on time. Sometimes I think retail as a functioning adult who just likes the extra money would be kind of nice, and if I were working a normal 9-5 again maybe it would be worth it.

      In real life I’m training to be a cancer epidemiologist.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I love retail! I’ve done it throughout my life, off and on, and it’s great! I’ll never go back to retail management – just sales.

      2. AmyNYC*

        My favorite part of working retail (sales, not management) was being able to clock out at then end of the day. Sure, there were a few times I be curious about how XY or Z turned out, but 99% of the time off the clock I didn’t have to think or worry about work.

    15. CherryScary*

      Tour guide at a museum or historical place! (I was a tour guide for a college campus while attending school there, and I loved pulling out little factoids)

      Or an interior decorator. My sister and I would “design” things by creating collage pages cut out from magazines.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        My aunt is a docent at a presidential library and she loves it! The requirements are a lot more demanding than I imagined, but she is having a ball and she has found “her people” among the other docents.

      2. Liz*

        After I went to Williamsburg in 7th grade, I always thought it would be awesome to work there. I’m sure in the summer it’s awful but it combines my love of theater and history.

        1. Alston*

          If you have woodworking experience the currently have a couple internships and full time positions open in the cabinet shop….

        2. CherryScary*

          I actually read a really interesting article one (I believe it was on Cracked?) about a person who grew up living there. They had to do all sorts of things to keep up the realism.

      3. Jillociraptor*

        In high school, I was a tour guide for our local historical society museum. It was a blast — they have a whole campus of like 8 or so historical buildings from our small town.

      4. Hillary*

        I felt so sorry for a museum docent once. It was an exhibit of Amish quilts at a fine art museum, and until about 12:57 there were five of us for the 1:00 tour (and I was the only quilter in the group). Then an entire bus load of quilters showed up.

        She had to redo her entire talk on the fly because almost everyone in the audience knew more about the subject than she did.

    16. Merry and Bright*

      I would love to be an archivist. Basement? Quiet workplace? Information retrieval? Document handling? History? Geekery? Bring it all on.

      1. mander*

        Ooh, me too! I sometimes think about getting a qualification and trying to shift into this.

        I also would like something involving digitising paper copies of stuff, or organising data and other materials. I’ve applied for several jobs in this vein but didn’t get anywhere. :-(

      2. Lily in NYC*

        My sister’s an archivist! She’s actually a big cheese at the National Archives and I can tell you that it’s not a quiet workplace. But she loves it and has been there for her entire career. And she has her own bathroom, which makes me seethe with jealousy.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            That’s only because she’s the boss! And she found two of her employees making whoopee in there once after a work event so I guess it has a downside.

    17. overeducated and underemployed*

      Bread baker. But during normal work hours, not baker’s hours, and I don’t want to have to make fancy cakes and decorative stuff. Just lots of bread.

      Amazingly enough, I do know a guy who did this after years of bartending, by going overboard with a hobby to the point that he actually got hired to make bread for the restaurant, and then to do baking full time. But now he has a girlfriend with normal work hours and so is talking about getting a “settling down” type job.

      1. Nye*

        Oooh, can I join you and do the fancy cakes and pastries? I love to eat good bread but don’t do much bread-baking, but I am great at pastry/cake/candy. My “when I quit my PhD” fantasy job was to open a “midnight” bakery. Open from 4-midnight or so, so everything is nice and freshly-baked when people are getting off work. Also, dessert and cocktail pairings.

    18. MAB*

      I want to own and run a NFP therapeutic horse back riding program. I volunteered at one when I was a kid/teenager and loved it. It was so awesome to see wheelchair bound people ride, or an adult with metal disabilities smile and try new things because their horse can do it.

    19. moss*

      I would love to help people pick out art for their homes. I think I have really good taste and I would be able to help people look beyond the hype and help them pick out something good. You can get good art for not much money, but of course I would be excellent at spending a lot of money as well!

        1. moss*

          That’s too much like cleaning for my taste :) It’s a great thing though. The house I live in was beautifully staged when I fell for it.

      1. SJ*

        a good friend of mine buys art for hospitals and is about to launch a side business where she helps people pick out art for offices and homes. It’s a very cool job.

    20. AnotherFed*

      Product testing. Figuring out how to break things, especially software, seems to be my secret not-so-super power.

    21. Kai*

      Interior designer, but more specifically–someone who comes into your house and rearranges/reuses what you already have, without spending a ton of money on new stuff. I do this at home all the time and also overhauled my mom’s apartment in the same way, and it was SO fun.

    22. OriginalEmma*

      I feel like I’d enjoy historic preservation construction. Working in stone masonry or ornamental ironwork or something like that. My secret dream job would probably just be working in some sort of construction, like carpentry, actually.

      1. mander*

        If you’re in the UK there is actually a shortage of people who can do this stuff. The pay is OK too, if you can get qualified!

      2. moss*

        dry stone walls are a big thing around here (Kentucky) as well. I think people have more work than they can handle.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          I miss those, especially the Irish ones that have been standing for 200 years. You see those stone walls and white picket fences in Central Kentucky and you *know* you’re in the heart of the Bluegrass.

            1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              Growing up, white fences were the pricey rich farms, black fences were typical horse farms, and grey, weather beaten fences were tobacco farms!

              I’ll be floating in nostalgia for a while…

        2. OriginalEmma*

          There’s actually a college just opened in…North Carolina, I believe…offering a one-of-a-kind bachelor’s in historic preservation construction, where you can focus on one of three areas (ornamental ironwork, stone masonry, timber framing and stick framing). Apparently a lot of southern architecture needs maintenance and they’re lacking folks to do it. Ingenious idea to kill two birds with one stone by satisfying the insatiable American demand for a bachelor’s degree while reducing the skilled craft/tradesperson shortage.

          1. Yetanotherjennifer*

            There’s also degrees in historic renovation that are more on the planning end. I know U of KY in Lexington has a degree in their architecture program and I think there are others around the country.

          2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

            If you hadn’t mentioned the college just opened, I would have pegged Warren Wilson as launching the program. They had co-op living and farming amongst students and faculty 20 years ago, promotion community involvement.

      3. NotherName*

        At our state’s big living museum, they had to hire contractors from Europe when a historic barn had to be rethatched, because they couldn’t find anyone in the US. So, maybe learn thatching?

        I would totally apply to work there if it weren’t over an hour away from my city.

      4. JAM*

        This is my dream program. I live in a historic area in my state and I’m trying to find welding classes that don’t require me to be in a degree program locally but maybe I need to do something. I want to learn ironwork and tuckpointing and preservation. It’s a fairly new interest and I’m sure it will pair perfectly with my private eye, cabinet organizing, quilt making, genealogist and craft workshop.

    23. Minion*

      I absolutely love typing. I would love to just be a data entry clerk and do nothing but data entry all day long. Unfortunately data entry clerks don’t make what I do. That’s weird, huh?

      1. bkanon*

        This is my dream job. I do Amazon mechanical turk tasks for 45 minutes or so every day and it’s incredibly relaxing for me. I’d love to do it full time — as long as it paid better than Amazon does! I love to just sink into the zone and type.

      2. Windchime*

        I used to do data entry and I loved it. It was so fun to just get into the rhythm in a room full of people who are just rapidly clicking away. You get to the point were the data just goes from your eyes to your fingers and kind of bypasses your brain altogether. So your mind can wander but you’re still working away. Loved it.

    24. Ekaterin*

      I’d like to work at a small hotel/inn/B&B – being Lorelai Gilmore would suit me quite well! I really enjoy traveling and like the idea of helping others have great vacation experiences. I actually do live in New England, so I suppose if I get burned out on my current career this could actually be a viable option.

    25. Lillian McGee*

      This is a job I have done seasonally during the summer but I would LOVE to do it full-time… backstage security guard at a concert venue. Even when the show itself sucks it’s so much fun hanging with tour crew, watching fans line up for meet & greets… so much joy and energy!

      1. Liza*

        Being a concert stagehand is fun too! It’s usually a lot of work, but I remember enjoying it a lot. Setting up the lighting truss, hanging the lights from it, assembling huge speaker stacks. A couple of times I got to run a spotlight during the show, too! (That was also the job where I accidentally got strong from all the physical labor. It permanently changed my self image–I hadn’t thought of myself before as someone who could be physically strong.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I did that once at a concert in college–all we had to do was stand near the seats and watch out for any problems and we got in free and also got a t-shirt. It was Roy Clark, so nobody broke into any fights or anything, LOL.

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

      This is kind of what I do. And I can confirm that it pays terribly.

    27. Guinness*

      I worked for a summer doing survey work, and I loved it! Pretty mindless and methodical, but then all the things you can do with the data is awesome!

    28. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      This is probably all done by machines now, I don’t know, but I’ve always imagined Amazon and B&N.com, and those school book order places as having warehouses just full of books and there has always been something deeply appealing about the idea of being the person who receives the orders, finds the books, and sends them away to their new homes. That “find, pack, ship” process actually just seems really fulfilling to me in my mind.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Lee Valley stores work this way. You fill out a form with the things you want on a little clipboard, then they go into the back and pull it all down from the shelves for you. They bring it out, you get to inspect the items before you pay, they take you down to the cash register and out you go. It’s like shopping at Consumer’s Distributing (if anyone is old enough to remember that). The store is filled with all the items, but they’re display only. Most of the people who work there are middle-aged adults, but I have no idea how much they get paid. It does seem like it would be fun, especially around Xmas.

      2. blueandbronze*

        I am literally holding interviews for this job right now. I work in eCommerce for a company that has a dedicated books program. We have a full time employee who pushes around a cart all day with a clipboard and a list, pulling books from our shelves. Once all the books are pulled they package them, label them, and toss them in a big box for shipment.

        Want to come in for an interview? ;)

        1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

          Hahaha, kinda I do! I mean, if my MLIS doesn’t qualify me to push around a cart of books I don’t know what will!

    29. Brandy in Tn*

      Bookstore clerk. But couldn’t. The hipsters at the used bookstore would look down on my Plugger self and at the chain store, its selling, and upselling. I just want to organize books.

    30. Accountant*

      I always loved filling out forms when I was a kid. Now I’m a tax accountant. Sometimes the world works in mysterious and wonderful ways. :)

    31. Weekend's Here*

      I have three!

      One I’m actually working on– being an Diplomat working with LGBT people looking for asylum in the US… no one but my partner and my mother know I’ve applied.

      I’ve also always wanted to be a librarian and a Historian specializing in Urban Legends. I’ve been mildly obsessed with disproving “murdering hitchhiker was in the house THE ENTIRE TIME” stories since far before I had access to internet. I thought I could make a strong career studying the origin and disproving urban legends on TV until I found Mythbusters and realized they stole my idea.

        1. Weekend's Here*

          I LOVED his books as a kid but have no clue if they’re still stored at my parent’s home!

          Welp, guess it’s off to Amazon.com for me to purchase. Thanks for giving me some reading to revisit =).

    32. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would love to review either TV shows and movies or gadgets. I love discussing both, but I’m not a very good writer. Or file clerk. I love putting things in order.

    33. CharlieCakes*

      High End Shopgirl! I have such great customer service (I work in government so I surprise people all the time with how I take care them) and I’d never have a Pretty Woman moment. I would treat you all like a queen or king!

      Less mundane: voice over actor. I work rock at it.

      1. SJ*

        I was low-key Pretty Womaned in Neiman Marcus a few weekends ago — I love fashion but don’t really have the money for a lot of high-end clothes (though I buy secondhand a lot through Poshmark and things like that), so I like to just go through the store when I’m at the mall and ooh and aah over everything. I HAVE, however, bought items at this particular Neiman Marcus in the past. But my non-work attire can be a little rock and roll and not explicitly “high end,” so between my clothes and recognizing my face as someone who comes in to browse a lot but usually doesn’t buy, I guess I looked shady, because a few sales associates were REALLY closely watching me. I was half-hoping someone would make the really obvious gesture of asking me if I needed any help so that I could point to the jeans I was wearing, THAT I BOUGHT IN THEIR STORE, and ask if they had them in any other washes. Ah, missed opportunities.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Depending on the store and what I’m wearing, I either look really high-end or really low-end. Shoes and bags–if I wear good shoes and carry my good purse, they pay attention to me.

          At Christmas, I was in Dillard’s at the jewelry counter looking at earrings on clearance, and I tried like hell to get this one clerk’s attention, but she ignored me. So I went to another counter and the woman who helped me got the sale. I also spent more at her counter because she did not pretty-woman me. HA!

          1. RKB*

            Whenever I go into Sephora with makeup on, I get greeted numerous times. But without any? Nothing. I don’t get it! If I wasn’t wearing makeup, wouldn’t I be MORE pliable to sales techniques?

            1. Anxa*

              Also-

              It can be really beneficial to go in bare-faced. It makes it easy to test products or have a make over

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          I worked at a few high end boutiques and at Neiman’s for a while. The smart sales people will *never* assume you can’t afford something based on how you’re dressed. Once a woman came in to the jewelry store I worked at, in sweats (she’d just been working out down the street), no makeup, hair in a ponytail. She spent around $800 on (costume) jewelry and then brought friends in the next week, who bought even more! A lot of people who have money don’t flaunt it.

    34. Elle*

      What a fun question! I’d love to be involved in a TV show somehow –either a really well done sitcom or cable show. I have no background or experience in anything remotely related to it though.

      1. Slimy Contractor*

        Ooh, you might enjoy this new podcast that just started called “Making the Sausage” from Previously.tv. I can’t post the link but it’s easy to find.

    35. ThatGirl*

      Recipe tester/editor. I actually saw a job like that at Pampered Chef once, I have no idea if the real job is as awesome as I’ve made it out to be in my head, but I’m already a qualified editor and I love to cook, so it seems like it would actually be pretty awesome, especially if I got to cook FOR work.

      1. literateliz*

        I work with a bunch of cookbook editors – we don’t test recipes on site or anything but if a recipe isn’t making sense and the author is being recalcitrant, they have been known to just test it at home (and sometimes bring in the results)! They do have a lot of fun with it, although it’s often too ridiculous to really be glamorous (e.g. “OMG I just spent my Friday night weighing different amounts of fruit salsa”).

        1. ThatGirl*

          I /think/ the job I saw involved actual cooking sometimes, but it’s been a long time – and like I said, I have no idea if it would actually be as cool as I imagined.

      1. Secret Writer*

        I work in logistics and I freakin’ love it! I don’t manage people, but I’m in charge of the pallets and loading area, and get to decide where everything goes, direct traffic, and pretty much rule the roost when it comes to moving stuff around. It’s awesome! :)

    36. Sophia Brooks*

      My secret jobs are: Sheep farmer, Waitress (because I have never done it), and front desk librarian (where the people went before google to ask questions).

      1. LibraryChick*

        I am a “front desk” librarian. It is an AWESOME job! Oh, and people do still go to librarians instead of Google. I can’t wait to get to work each day to find out what kinds of questions I will be asked!

        1. OriginalEmma*

          I love front desk librarians because you can (and have, successfully!) decipher my vague requests of “I think this was the author and the story line went like this and it may have been published in this decade….”

          1. LibraryChick*

            I also love providing a readers advisory service. When people tell me they don’t know what to read now that they are done with such-and-such series or author, I can usually just start naming off titles and authors for them to try. Introducing people to new authors is very satisfying!

    37. LibraryChick*

      I always wanted to be an evidence room technician. Specifically, I wanted to be in charge of keeping track of cold case evidence. I am wicked organized, and would proudly maintain the items waiting for testing that would potentially solve crimes.

    38. literateliz*

      I don’t know if this is exactly mundane, but my secret dream job is book buyer for Costco – i.e., be the next Pennie and get my own column in the Costco Connection. I would be mad with power.

      1. SJ*

        My dad often talks about how I should have tried to get a job writing for The Daily Show or 30 Rock or something like that. Even now: “Why don’t you just send some people your work???” yeeeeah, doesn’t work like that, dad.

        1. NotherName*

          It sounds like they definitely are. I want to send Joel Hodgson my resume. (And a really great cover letter to prove that working for a gov’t contractor makes me qualified to work for his show.)

    39. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I long to be a blacksmith.

      I would love to melt metal and soften steel in a forge, then turn it into horseshoes, knives, axes, or other useful items. I’d love the physicality of the beating of metal into a new form and creating that item with my own hands.

      Imagine a female smith built like a brick shithouse. That’s who I wanted to be.

      That, or a lumberjack.

      1. NotherName*

        When I was a kid, my parents knew a woman who was a blacksmith, and she did have amazing arms. (There were a lot of stables in the area, and it was a viable job, since shoeing horses and fixing some of their tack did need to be done by a farrier.)

        Donna Andrews has a book series in which the sleuth is a blacksmith (she does ornamental work). Also, there are some blacksmiths who are interviewed in PBS’ Craft in America series.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Have you looked into taking classes? I live in an area with a lot of “maker” stuff going on and there is one facility specifically dedicated to teaching people to work metal.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Yes! You can take classes in blacksmithing in my city as well. (Also glassblowing and other cool stuff.) I wanted to take a blacksmithing class a few summers ago but the dates didn’t work out.

        2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          Interesting. I didn’t know. I’ll look into that.

          If I can’t find classes, then I’m going to run away with the Renaissance Faire.

      3. Nye*

        My brother was an apprentice blacksmith for 4 years! He got very good, and loved it, but the bottom fell out of the market with the recession and the master blacksmith didn’t have enough work keep him on. (It was architectural blacksmithing, which is amazingly beautiful – but very expensive! – craftsmanship.) My brother was probably 2-3 years from making journeyman; once he did, he had hoped to travel/work in Europe. It’s one of a few trades that still maintains a very traditional training system; you can take workshops, but really you need to apprentice to do it professionally.

        My bro went on to late shift precision machining and is now a software engineer for his company, so he’s doing fine, but I’ve always been a little sad he couldn’t have finished out his apprenticeship.

    40. Dip-lo-mat*

      Are you a U.S. citizen? Take the Foreign Service test! I’m a consular officer and you spend the first few years doing a lot of visa and passport applications (it’s much more complicated than just paperwork…there’s determination of eligibility under the law, but papework can be a big part of it). You can also apply to be an HR specialist. Otherwise, consider applying to a Passport Agency with the Department of State. You would be in application heaven.

      1. Dip-lo-mat*

        Also also, if I could just flush this Diplomat gig away: I would very much so like to be a sock sorter. Give me the world’s biggest pile of socks and tell me to spend all day matching pairs. That may be a make-believe job, but it’s my dream job. LEGO sorter would also meet this need.

        1. Valeriane*

          I would love either of these. Also, sorting board games. Anything where I would get the separated parts back together so that perfectly good things are still usable and don’t get thrown away.

      2. Crissy from HR*

        I’ve been super interested in pursuing this! I have 9 years background in HR/consulting for the fed/policy thinktanks, but am going back to school for a Masters International Relations and have tons of Civil Affairs experience from my time in the military. Is it possible to start of the Foreign Service Staff track then switch over to the Diplomat track? That’s my dream 5 year plan.

        I’ll happily trade you my hamper of unmatched socks for some advice. If I don’t sort them properly this weekend I’m considering hiding them in the attic until I move so I’m not shamed by my ability to find pairs.

    41. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would pickle full-time. You read that right. I would be a Master Pickler. My current dream is to find a restaurant somewhere interesting where they would hire me for a month or two to do nothing but put up pickles and ferment things.

      I used to work retail in a bookstore and I loved it so much– if it paid, I would still be doing it. I loved dealing with customers and recommending books and getting teenagers to try new stuff. My particular specialty was helping those poor parents get their kids to work their way through Shakespeare.

      I would also love to docent at a museum, especially an old historic mansion. I would also really love to teach television history seminars to seniors (not so far off, as I have a master’s in it, but there isn’t really a career niche for it unless you’re a college professor).

      All of these things… I keep saying that if my bf finishes his PhD and gets a great paying job in the middle of nowhere, I will quit it all and do one of these things.

      1. AVP*

        You just reminded me that my other secret job would be to make jam all day. My boyfriend thinks I should open a dry-goods store somewhere and include my own line of canned goods.

    42. Cristina in England*

      This one may weird some people out these days, but I would totally be a wet nurse. I would love to feed and cuddle little babies all day!

      1. Cristina in England*

        Just adding this because I would love to know everyone else’s real vs dream jobs but in real life I am a research associate on a digital humanities project.

    43. TootsNYC*

      I want to work at Home Depot. My dad, a retired school teacher, does, and it’s perfect for him because he’s always been such a handyman, AND he like interacting with people.

      When I retire, I may seriously do this.

      My husband had a list of dream jobs, like “Zamboni driver for the Rangers.”

      1. OriginalEmma*

        My greatest pleasure is wandering around Home Depot and just…inhaling the scents. Cut wood, sheet rock, paint, lacquers, whatever! It’s such a soothing place full of a good memories for me. Accompanying my carpenter father on weekend runs, etc.

      2. RedPanda*

        My SO works at another home improvement giant and says aside from the harsh corporate structure he’d love to move up in the company.

      3. AVP*

        My mom has a similar one – she wants to retire from her job as a chemist and work at the Apple Genius Bar

      4. themmases*

        My sister, a sculptor, worked during college at one of those smaller old school hardware stores (by me the closest thing would be a True Value, but this place was completely independent). She *loved* it. She learned to do random things like cut keys and I think it was just fun for her to be somewhere she knew everyone and got to use that specific type of handy knowledge.

        I kind of wish she would go back to that to have some structure, pay the bills, and get a discount on supplies. (She just graduated with her BFA so she’s job searching/maybe MFA applying/deciding what the next step is.)

    44. Snargulfuss*

      I’ve loved reading all of the responses to this question.

      I’d love to be the one to design the displays at the library – to come up with a theme and group like books, highlight great books that more people should read, etc.

      I also think being a professional organizer sounds fun. Reorganizing the pantry was always my chore of choice growing up.

      This one is more of a glamorous one – a friend recently sent me an announcement for a national parks photographer…and it paid $100k annual salary. If only I were a better photographer!

      1. Liz*

        Somewhat in the same idea of categorize things, I would love to do that for Netflix. Sometimes there suggestions are really odd and I love telling people what to watch!

        This thread has made today much better than I was expecting it to be!

    45. RedPanda*

      Working in the mail room of USPS. I am obsessed with mail/stamps/stationery and have stars in my eyes whenever I go into the post office.

      1. LibraryChick*

        I am with you on this. I had a lot of pen pals all over the world when I was a child. I thought it was literal magic that I could put a couple of stamps on something and have it go halfway around the globe!

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I would also adore working at the post office. I am just so entranced by all the places people send mail to!

        I’d also enjoy, I think, working for an airline–not because I personally want to travel, I’m just interested in all the places other people travel to.

    46. Daisy Mae*

      I’d like to be a personal shopper when I grow up. Best of both worlds- I get to spend my day shopping but pay with someone else’s money.

    47. Arjay*

      Traffic cop. I mean, I don’t want all the risk and danger, and I’m not intrigued by any other aspect of law enforcement, but if I could get a siren and an ipad app to write tickets to idiots? I’d be all over that!

    48. Kimmy Gibbler*

      I want to be a professional gift wrapper. At holiday time, I always look wistfully at the people in the shops beautifully wrapping gifts up for customers. I would totally do that as seasonal volunteer work if I had the time. ;)

    49. Mimmy*

      What a great, fun question!

      I have a few – I hope that’s okay!

      One is working with students with disabilities in a college or university. I’ve long had an interest in disability in higher education, particularly for graduate and professional students, and I just love the idea of advising students–not necessarily counseling, but just talking with students about their interests and maybe help them brainstorm. My problem is that I’m very shy!! This was one of my original intentions when I pursued my MSW 10+ years ago.

      I also love evaluating things, so another thought was being a program evaluator, but that probably involves a lot of field work and I can’t drive. I’m sure there are evaluator jobs that don’t require travel – I’m just not aware of any. I’ve been evaluating grant proposals since 2012 for a couple of groups, and I just LOVE seeing how programs are designed and what measures are taken to ensure that they are effective.

      Finally, I’d love to develop a disability awareness program, or even just advise different types of agencies on “best practices” in including people with disabilities and remaining compliant with applicable laws.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I worked in my school’s disability office in college for a year as a receptionist, and it was one of the best environments I’ve ever worked in. We counseled students, staff, and faculty with disabilities, arranged for their various on-campus accommodations, and helped the students research funding/grant opportunities to lower the cost of their education. It was very rewarding (and my highest paying college gig).

          1. Doriana Gray*

            No, this was back in 2006-2007 when I worked there, but the office is still up and running and still helping everyone who needs it.

    50. The Rat-Catcher*

      University advisor! I have learned what seems like every in and out at my local university, and I’ve helped several friends and relatives with their course planning, red tape with financial aid, etc. I’d love to be able to do that full-time on a paid basis. I’ve applied for it but I never hear back :(

      1. Anxa*

        Same. I work at a college and cannot get involved in advising and or anything like that. It’s frustrating to have such a body of knowledge I can’t use, while students aren’t getting much from the full time workers

    51. LadyLep*

      I want to own a bookstore! I have it all planned out – down to the location, layout, window dressing, and the antique cash register I’d like to have. But, that requires money and certain skills I’m lacking. Second best is selling full-time on eBay and Poshmark, that’s within my reach. I love my dad’s answer to this, though, he wants to retire and go to work at our local theme park running their locomotive :)

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        My grandmother had her own bookstore for a while. She loved it, but it really never made any money. :( I always think of when Peggy on King of the Hill bought a bookstore and had to eventually start selling guns to help with revenue!

    52. GG*

      I periodically fantasize about being a baker (as in cakes, cupcakes, and cookies) or a professional organizer. I just love both those things.

    53. Elizabeth West*

      Dream job is of course bestselling author–like you had to guess that!

      I’d be a zookeeper. I’m good with animals and birds. My preferred section to work in would be small mammals I can cuddle. The nursery would be okay too. I would love to take care of baby sloths, wolf pups, big cat cubs, baby bats, and otters. I did once feed a bottle to a black bear cub on my archaeology class trip in college (we had breakfast at a petting zoo and the bear cried really loudly until we fed it). Those little suckers are STRONG.

    54. Kate*

      I would love to be an outpatient lactation consultant. It’s not terribly far from what I do now, but I am in a hospital setting. I would like to do home visits and do my own scheduling so that I could spend enough time with each mother baby dyad. Someday, maybe…

    55. Cath in Canada*

      I loved loved loved being a bartender during college. This was in a traditional English pub, so it was more about pulling the perfect pint of cask ale than making fancy cocktails, and you got to know all the regulars. They had trivia nights every week, and no-one ever came to the bar while the questions were being asked, so the bar staff had our own team and got to play too.

      Pulling the perfect pint of Guinness is such a satisfying feeling. I miss it. I don’t miss emptying the ashtrays, but you can’t smoke in pubs now so that wouldn’t be a problem any more.

      Less mundane answer: I wanted to be a vet from the age of about 6 to about 17, when I got really excited by genetics and the idea of a career in research. I didn’t meet anyone who knew that you could do both until it was far too late, and there’s no way I’m going back to school now! (I left my PhD defense swearing that I would never take another exam again as long as I live. I’ve broken that vow twice now – Canadian citizenship exam, then the PMP – but it’s sticking this time!)

    56. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Sometimes I think I’d like to be a postal carrier. You can be outside, get good exercise, maybe get to know some of the people on your route. I used to work at a jewelry boutique where we had the same postal carrier every day, he would stop and chat if he had time and he really loved his job!

    57. Idealist*

      In an ideal world, I would be an heiress.

      When I was young, I looked forward to the point in my life when I would be able to work for non-profits that couldn’t afford my salary. I’m doing that kind of volunteer work, but had Adventures in Employment, and don’t have the bankroll needed to do it up right.

      You youngsters who are just starting out!!! Pay yourself first!!! Do not liquidate your 401K when you leave those first jobs!!! Compound Interest and Dollar Cost Averaging will be berry, berry good to you!!!

    58. Elsajeni*

      I would like the job of Math Mistake Decipherer, where all you do all day is sit in a quiet room, look at piles of algebra homework with bafflingly wrong answers, and figure out where they went wrong. Unfortunately the rest of being an algebra teacher wasn’t really for me, but I was great at tracking down math mistakes and figuring out what a student was thinking that led them astray.

      Alternately, I would like to just answer university rankings surveys. This is actually part of my current job, and it’s the part I like best — I get to spend several days or weeks just quietly moving data around and re-sorting and cross-referencing various files to get answers to questions like: how many students do we have enrolled this fall? Of those, what percentage are new admits? How many are receiving financial aid? How many do we predict will graduate in the next year? Etc.

      1. Anxa*

        Often I don’t think I’m good at anything, but really I’m just not good at things that are really in demand.

        Because I am awesome at this kind of stuff.

    59. friendlyinitials*

      I would love to be a baker. Wake up at 4 in the morning to make different kinds of bread and cakes and cookies and stuff. I would be so happy.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have always wanted to be the person with the table tennis bats who stands on the tarmac parking aircraft.

    60. BSharp*

      I am really insanely good at research and diplomacy. Like, TELL ME YOUR PROBLEMS, I can and will google a solution, and I’ll even break it to you gently. I have a habit of googling, say, healthcare providers for reviews and finding their wedding registry or their children’s 6th grade projects.

      My ideal job is to run a website where people pay me to find them a solution. It’s $5 if you want a black cardigan in petite medium that’s in-store near you. It’s $20 if you want a recommendation of two books to read to your elementary-schooler to help them learn boundaries with their best frenemy. For $50, I will do my best to convince your husband that rocking chairs are old school cool, not just old, and also that he’s being kind of a jerk because you need somewhere to nurse the baby without being eaten by that squashy couch. For $100, I will look at photos of you in your favorite outfits and tell you exactly how they might need tailoring or improving, with a few paragraphs on how amazing mom bodies are, and that it’s not fair that women are judged on appearance as if it’s about virtue (when it’s mostly about class), and a few suggestions for ways to appreciate things about yourself, because you’re wonderful. I’d even make ebooks and stuff that people could download, like The Guide to Perfect Gifting, because I am kickass at birthdays.

      1. BSharp*

        (I also find the relevant information about the healthcare providers, to be clear. I chose my current gynecologist because she not only had a good reputation as a doctor but she sued her last employer for providing subpar care to low-income women. Skill and integrity? Sign me up.)

    61. attornaut*

      Anything telework eligible. I seriously do not care what it is, as long as I can do it from home and it qualifies for PSLF (so any government or non-profit).

    62. SirTechSpec*

      Voice actor! I’ve always loved doing different voices and accents, and I did a lot of stage acting in primary & secondary school. Sadly, it involves a lot of short-term gigs so you have to be where the jobs are (LA & NY) and I’m a small-town kinda guy. But I do get to use those skills sometimes when playing/running tabletop RPGs, which is a decent substitute. :)

    63. GovWorker*

      Great topic! I would love to get paid for reading and commenting on blogs, I love reading other people’s thoughts.

    64. Melissa*

      I work in Collection Development for a public library system. I live in a cubicle, and support four librarians. I love my job.

      And I want to go to hairdressing school. I want to cut hair, make fabulous wedding hairstyles, and dye people pink and blue.

      I’m planning to take classes when I retire.

    65. StillHealing*

      To work in a flower shop. It would be fun to go through the training. I’d even like to deliver the flowers.

    66. lfi*

      in this life.. maybe HR ior admin at an spca (or my most favorite cat cafe.. eheheeh)
      therapist/school guidance counselor.

      otherwise:
      travel photographer
      florist
      counter support at an airline (LOVE to people watch and no day would be the same!)

    67. Doriana Gray*

      I don’t know if this job would be considered “mundane,” but I’d love to be a burlesque performer. I’m a burlesque historian in my free time, and I so admire all of the women who get up on that stage and have the guts to get undressed in front of hundreds of people. I’m so shy and self-conscious though (hence why my acting career never took off), so it would never happen. Still, I love the artistry and humor behind it.

    68. Regina 2*

      Pivot table maker and report runner. If I could have a job that was entirely this, I think I’d be so happy. There’s nothing that gives me satisfaction like pulling data into Excel, turning it into a table, viewing with filters, and running pivots.

      It makes me want to pull a fake report to do it just now.

      1. Data Analyst*

        This is about 50% of my job right now. I do work with some more complicated database systems, but Excel is my chosen tool for smaller sets. Depending on the company and industry, you could do this and get paid a great wage. It’s not hard to learn, the important part is explaining the report in context.

    69. Ruffingit*

      I would love to organize paperwork and make more efficient systems for businesses. I do this now for all the places I work and people seem to love it. It’s like they’ve never thought of making one little tweak to something to make it 10x more efficient. I see those tweaks and make them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Not to put you on the spot, but I’d love to know some of your best tweaks.

        I walked into a job that was like a paper bomb went off.. for 30 years. So it’s me, the boss and 30 years of paper bombs. I wrote a long description and deleted it. In short we were so busy doing remedial things like creating a letterhead and fax cover sheet (no one had bothered to do this stuff) that we still do not have a strong handle on the big picture. Yes, it’s been 3 years of fix this and fix that. We bought filing cabinets and took everything out of the cardboard boxes. We have more boxes off site that we have to go get at some point. Ugh! It’s tough to remember to drain the swamp if you are constantly fighting with the alligators.

        So generally speaking what are a couple frequent pitfalls and what are your favorite go tos to fix the pitfall?

    70. Princess Buttercup*

      Recipe tester – for cookbooks or something like America’s Test Kitchen. I actually attended a culinary program in my early 20s planning to be a chef (since I love to cook) but realized while in the program that I didn’t want to work 14 hour days on my feet in a hot kitchen making the same things every night for years. Instead, I am in a high level management position, which leaves me limited time & energy for cooking (but I still love it).

      Cookbook recipe testing does involve making the same recipe multiple times, but once you finish testing a recipe, you move onto a new one (plus I’d get to do it at home in my awesome kitchen that we remodeled a few years ago).

      America’s Test Kitchen (I think) would mean working on one recipe multiple times, but allowing for some experimentation (but I’d have to move to the East, and as a So Cal native, I don’t know that I could handle the snow).

    71. ginger ale for all*

      I would love to be an advice columnist. I love Ask Amy and Dear Prudence. I would love to take over Annie’s Mailbox. I feel that their column has gotten rather ho hum and I think they miss getting it right too often. My local paper years ago would take three people with different backgrounds, cultures, religious viewpoints, etc and give them the same question. I loved how that resulted in some terrific responses to the problem. I would like to bring that format back and have it online. I would also change the responders on a regular basis, say have a group of five to rotate through. I was pleasantly surprised to see how often I agreed with the person who was my on paper opposite.

    72. Just A Girl*

      I have always daydreamed about being a bartender on one of the coasts. Chilling on a beach, mixing drinks and chatting with strangers on vacation…Doesn’t that sound like THE LIFE??

    73. Windchime*

      I have a couple. If I could make money at it, I would love to paint rooms in other people’s homes. I love everything about paint; I even love the way it smells. I love watching the room change as the paint goes up.

      The other thing I would do is own a fabric or yarn store. I imagine just playing with all the lovely yarns all day long, knitting up samples and rearranging it. I know there’s more to it than that, but it’s my fantasy job and that’s how it would work in my shop!

  6. Future Manager?*

    How do you know if you’re cut out for management?

    I’ve been in my current job for 10 years (same job at two different companies), and I’m considered a top performer. The job pays well, but I feel as though, at this point in my career, I should be moving up. I’m also not sure how long I can keep doing this because it’s semi-physically demanding and requires a brutal shift work schedule. I’m only in my mid-30s, but this job leaves me exhausted all the time. I’m qualified for an office job in my department, but although the salary for the office job is nominally higher than my current salary, it would be a significant pay cut to go from my current non-exempt job, where I get tons of overtime, to the exempt office job with no overtime.

    The other option is management. It pays well enough to make up for the loss of overtime, but I’m just not sure if it’s for me. I think I would be good at some parts of it, like maintaining schedules, making work assignments, answering workers’ questions, checking people’s work, and investigating/resolving problems. I’ve learned a lot from AAM about managing performance, which is something almost every manager I’ve ever had has been terrible at doing because they turn a blind eye to slackers and take advantage of the hard workers to pick up the slack. If I were a manager, I would take measures to bring the slackers’ work up to par.

    On the other hand, I know managing is harder than it looks, and it’s hard to do it effectively without making people hate you (for example, if I stopped the slackers from surfing the Internet for 4 hours/day, it would be good for the department, but I’d look like a slave-driver). I tend to be a pretty blunt and direct person, so I’m not sure if I have the finesse it takes to address performance problems without looking like a jerk. I also know that managers are often put in the tough situation of having to implement terrible policies handed down from corporate and defend these policies even if they disagree. Finally, I despise meetings, and managers can’t really avoid them.

    I’ve had a lot of bad managers, and I hate the thought of being anything like them. I’ve had very few managers who were even halfway decent, so it must take a special kind of person to be a good manager. How can I know if I have what it takes?

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I’ve actually been thinking about this lately. I’m in a similar situation where I’ve been doing this kind of work for 10 years and am considered a top performer. But I also am very direct and blunt and not the most patient person in the world and I tend to take things personally. So I think the managing WORK part would be fine, but the managing PEOPLE part would be a challenge for me and not one I’m necessarily up for.

      I’m not sure if there is a way to tell FOR SURE if you have what it takes, without actually trying it. It does seem like you have some reservations though and I would think hard about those and how they would impact you.

      1. Glod Glodsson*

        When I started out managing people, my directness and lack of patience were my weakest spots too. I love combing through data to find out what we can do to improve our processes, but when one of my team members couldn’t make what I considered to be reasonable targets, I’d tended to get impatient and annoyed with them.

        However, I had a great manager who was very people focused. I learned from her that treating your people with kindness and respect, even when they aren’t performing well, is the gateway to a happy team.

        So, like any skill, that soft skill can be learned! You just have to filter what you think into a softer approach. So instead of saying: “You’ve been late for three weeks, WTF dude! You know you have to be on time.” You’ll learn to say: “I notice you’ve been late for three weeks in a row now. Obviously we need you to man the desk at 8, since that’s when people start coming in. Is everything okay on your end? What can we do to ensure you come in at 8 again?”

        Managing people takes an entirely different skill set than being good at the actual job you’ve done so far. I think the first question you’d need to ask yourself if you’d actually enjoy leading people.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Managing work is the easy part, most of the time. Managing people is another story. Sometimes you get lucky, like me, and have people that know what they’re supposed to do and they do it–on time, well, and accurately. They accept direction without a problem and there aren’t any interpersonal issues. Sometimes you’re unlucky and get people who don’t pull their weight, have a chronic lateness issue, fight with each other, etc.

      I think people who are direct and blunt can still be good managers, but you definitely have to be mindful of how you come across. You want to push work forward and work well with other managers, employees, and departments. If you’re blunt to the point of rudeness, then that could be a problem; people won’t want to go the extra mile for you. But, a certain amount of directness/bluntness can be a good thing; people will know where they stand and instructions will generally be understood.

      When managing work and people, you also need to be a leader. Maybe you’re not the CEO, but you want people to cooperate and want to follow you. Being a leader takes a lot more work personally than being a manager. Anyone can assign a project, but a leader gets everyone’s buy-in and moves the project forward to better the department/company.

      Here’s the advice I would give you:
      1) You need to model the qualities you want to see in other people
      2) You need to be on an even keel as much as possible. No yelling or screaming because someone printed double-sided pages that flip on the wrong edge.
      3) Treat people like human beings

      I think if you can do these three things, I find things kind of take care of themselves for the most part. Sure, you’ll still get people who slack off or aren’t cooperative, but that’s life. You deal with those people as needed.

      1. Future Manager?*

        I used to think being a manager would be really easy, but that was with the assumption that I would be managing people who know how to do their jobs and want to do good work. Now I’ve been around long enough to realize that there will always be some people who set out to do the bare minimum and truly don’t care what anyone thinks of their performance as long as they don’t get fired. It’s hard enough to work with these people as a peer, but I think it would be really challenging to be responsible for managing them.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          It’s definitely challenging to manage people who aren’t getting with the program, but this is where being direct and blunt might help you; you’re not as likely to dance around the point. You don’t want to be rude or cruel, but you want to get your point across.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Really great advice.

        Since you are willing to go inside your own thoughts and examine your actions you stand a better chance than half the bosses out there.

        One thing you might like to consider, do you get a kick out of seeing other people succeed? I get a big charge out of that, it’s almost better than if I succeed myself. I think it has helped me when I supervised people, because I tended to think more about what they needed or how they should be supported. Why this worked for me is that it filled in my gaps, so that even if I did not have the training or other background to handle things, I could inch my way through stuff by thinking about the other person.

        I would advise against going into management if you are not 100% committed to learning. This means learning about yourself as a leader, your people you lead, and the work itself. It’s a constant learning process. You must enjoy what you read here, so you might have a strong lean toward management and not even realize.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        I forgot to mention that even if something big happens, like the company is closing or something else upsetting is going on, you still need to control your emotions. Sure, it might be the something really bad, but you want to put on a strong front. Otherwise, employees tend think the worst and start panicking and gossiping.

    3. Wino in TX*

      On a tangent here, but I am in that spot as well.
      I was in “teapot” retail management until I was 35, then went into the “bubblegum” industry, but stayed in retail 3 more years to learn bubblegum better. Now I’m 50 and work in bubblegum wholesale, but still as a salesperson, and not a manager. And these days the bubblegum product bag is heavy on my shoulder.
      I interview at bubblegum companies that make sense, and no one wants to take a chance on me even though I have product and people management skills…OK I’m venting now but I’d love to know what is needed in my industry to get to the next level. In my case PRODUCT, not so much people.

    4. NJ Anon*

      Stopping slackers from surfing the internet for 4 hours a day would not make you look like a slave-driver. Your hard working staff would be thankful!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Exactly. The only people who will see you as a slave-driver will be the slackers who now can’t surf the net 4 hours a day. And do you really care? I don’t. If they can’t shape up, they need to ship out. And that’s no big loss if they don’t want to get with the program.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Also–some of those Internet surfers may be secretly relieved to have the boundaries reinforced.

        Don’t ask me how I know this.

    5. Liza*

      Future Manager, I currently believe that almost anyone can learn to be a good manager. The fact that you’re thinking about this (and that you read AAM :-) ) means you’re off to a good start! I believe most bad managers don’t really care about whether they’re managing well–they want certain results, but they don’t think about management as a skill (set of skills) they can improve. It really is, though.

      OTOH, you may or may not *enjoy* management, which is a different question than whether you can be good at it. It might be worth looking at what you see managers there do, and think about a) whether it’s something you want to do, could put up with doing, or would hate doing; and b) think about whether there would be other ways to do the parts you’d hate doing.

      For example: you despise meetings. You could think about what it is you despise about meetings (don’t like interacting with people? don’t like having your input solicited? don’t like having to get others’ input? don’t like having to spend part of your day on another issue? feel like meetings go on and on forever with nothing accomplished?). I don’t have suggestions for most of those possibilities, but if it’s the last one I listed there, you could think about trying to change meeting culture at your company–there are a lot of resources online about how to conduct meetings efficiently, and how to convince others to do it too.

      I hope that’s helpful. Good luck!

      1. Future Manager?*

        Thanks for the advice! As for hating meetings, it’s mainly the last one — there are tons of them, and they are almost always a colossal waste of time. I work at a huge, bureaucratic company where meetings are considered to be essential. There’s not much a single first-line manager can do to change meeting culture because most meetings are dictated by corporate policy.

    6. Melissa*

      I had similar concerns when I moved in to management. Like you, I’m direct and can be blunt. I was hired from the outside to move my department (of people who have been with the institution for decades) in dramatically new directions, and I was very worried about buy-in. I am more problem-oriented than people-oriented, and I worried that I wouldn’t have the people skills to really successfully manage change.

      I was surprised to learn that management has dramatically improved my people skills. I feel an extra level of responsibility to the people who work for me, and it helps keep me focused on constantly improving in that area. I’ve learned that by listening, displaying empathy, de-escalating drama, and being free with specific positive feedback when its warranted, I’ve developed strong relationships with everyone on my team. When I have to give negative feedback or make an unpopular decision, I have credibility with my team, and they respond well.

      One thing I was not prepared for is how draining it is to be focused on people all day long (I’m an introvert). It has had a negative impact on my social life. I need to spend more of my spare time alone to recover from all the social labor I do at work. But, it is deeply rewarding to help people learn, develop, and succeed at work. For me, and for now, it’s worth it.

      1. Future Manager?*

        Thanks for sharing your experience! That is really helpful. I am an introvert, too, and I hadn’t really thought about that aspect of it. My current job involves working in a group environment with no privacy (I don’t even have a cubicle), but now that you mention it, I realize that my job is very task-focused rather than people-focused, and that would be an adjustment if I became a manager.

      2. NicoleK*

        Totally agree with Melissa. As an introverted manager, I felt I had to be on 100% of the time. My superiors, peers, and direct reports were all paying attention to me. I really had to push myself to step outside of my comfort zone. Additionally, I found the endless back to back management meetings to be completely draining.

    7. NicoleK*

      You won’t know until you try. For the longest time, I did not want to be a manager because I didn’t want to deal with people’s crap. Eventually, I decided to give it a try. While I was only a manager for 1.5 years, I was actually pretty good at it.

    1. Mike C.*

      There was a related situation with Target sending custom coupons to the household of a 17 yr old teen related to pregnancy. Her father wrote in to complain, then later wrote again to apologize that they were actually correct.

      “Big data” tends to be thrown around by people who are just trying to sound like they know something they really don’t, but it’s still amazing what you can do with a huge database and a little math.

      1. Angela*

        Now I’m wondering if the prenatal vitamins I bought (because they are a good vitamin, not due to pregnancy or even thinking about another pregnancy) are the reason I started getting formula samples and coupons. That’s just creepy.

        1. Natalie*

          I am engaged, but we have done literally no trackable wedding things – we bought our ring at a pawn shop, our venue is our house, and a friend is doing our wedding planning. Yet somehow I ended up on a list for some kind of Wedding magazine…

          1. Florida*

            Did you post it on Facebook? FB knows when people are going to get divorced before the people themselves know based on their posts, likes, frequency/types of posts, etc.

        2. Mike C.*

          So I still remember getting all of the engagement ring ads when i started to do research. Then a week before my wedding, they all turned into ads for divorce lawyers and seminary schools.

          That was pretty special.

      2. Blue Anne*

        Yeah. Pretty much every ad on the internet for me is related to babies. Pregnancy tests, soft detergent for baby clothes, parenting websites, whatever. I assume because I’m a 27 year old woman who got married to a man three years ago.

        1. literateliz*

          I just copyedited a book about pregnancy and breastfeeding (and as a result was googling a ton of related terms for spelling/usage). Now I’m waiting for the baby ads to roll in. I’m like, listen, those searches are actually indicative of me being a workaholic who takes way too much freelance work in my off time to consider having a kid anytime soon!

      1. J.B.*

        Identifying that employees are pregnant or even trying to conceive well before they disclose. Of course it could be like my emploers wellness program which thought I was pregnant for 3 years because it didn’t transfer the data about the birth :)

        1. Meg Murry*

          The Forbes story links to a WSJ article, which also appears to be re-printed (or was first posted?) on nasdaq dot com. Link to follow, but you can find it by searching nasdaq and “Bosses Tap Outside Firms to Predict Which Workers Might Get Sick”

          I was just coming to post about this, as I read an article on nymag . com that called out one of the ickier parts, to me:

          “To determine which employees might soon get pregnant, Castlight recently launched a new product that scans insurance claims to find women who have stopped filling birth-control prescriptions, as well as women who have made fertility-related searches on Castlight’s health app.

          That data is matched with the woman’s age, and if applicable, the ages of her children to compute the likelihood of an impending pregnancy, says Jonathan Rende, Castlight’s chief research and development officer. She would then start receiving emails or in-app messages with tips for choosing an obstetrician or other prenatal care. If the algorithm guessed wrong, she could opt out of receiving similar messages.”

          Yeah, that sounds great, in theory. But is anyone doing their homework to make sure they aren’t sending the “tips on chosing an obsetrician” to an employee that stopped filling her BC pills because she had a hysterectomy? Or just found out she is infertile? Or has to stop taking them because she developed dangerous blood clots? Or maybe just because her annual prescription ran out and she can’t find another doctor that takes her company’s crappy health insurance to get a new prescription and also doesn’t have any sick or vacation days available to use for said appointment [this was me, at least 2x in my life].

          Seriously, I get that the woman “could opt-out of the emails” – but why would you want to spam your employees? And especially if the good you created for a small handfull of employees is outweighed by the upset you cause to one employee who is one of the circumstances I just listed?

          I can’t find the link now, but I read a blog post that totally twisted my heart strings about a woman who signed up for a bunch of pregnancy related newsletters to be delivered via email – and then after she miscarried she had such trouble trying to unsubscribe – and then around what would have been her due date she was hit with another wave of advertising from formula companies, etc.

          Some days I think I need to go f* with who Amazon and Target think I am by adding some totally random crap to my wish lists and see what kind of crazy coupons and emails I start getting.

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

      My company just partnered with Castlight for some services. Guess I won’t be using them!

  7. bassclefchick*

    What are your thoughts on following up with your application? Not the follow up letter after the interview, that’s mandatory, of course. But I applied for a position at a company for which I’d really love to work. Two weeks ago. Haven’t heard a thing other than the auto email stating they received my application.

    My coworkers all say I should call them. I’m leaning toward not calling because if they were interested in interviewing me, they’d reach out to me.

    Ugh, job hunting is SUCH a crazy game! Any insights would be helpful.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I’d say leave it. Hiring is often slow and they may well not have reached out to anyone yet, and you got the auto email so you know they received it.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Sometimes I’ll have hiring managers who sit on their resumes for three weeks or more. And we have an auto-response on our hiring email account, so a candidate sees it, knows we received it, and while they have the expectation that stuff is gonna move forward, the reality is the hiring manager hasn’t even looked through the resumes yet. Or there have only been a couple applicants and we’re trying to get a better pool before making decisions. Or the position has been put on hold for budget or restructuring reasons. Or they’re trying to pin down schedules for multiple interviewers before reaching out to applicants to start making appointments. There’s a lot of potential causes behind “They’re not getting back to me about an application”, besides just “They’re not interested.”

    2. Merry and Bright*

      Strangely, as part of some coursework I’m doing at the moment, I discovered the National Careers Service here in the UK advises just this. But then governments don’t get everything right!

    3. straws*

      I’m so with you here on the frustration of not hearing anything. I didn’t even get an auto response. It’s difficult to hold back and not reach out just to make sure my application didn’t get lost in email land :( I’d definitely leave it be if you know for sure they have it in their hands.

  8. Nervous Accountant*

    A good thing-

    Yesterday, I passed my boss’s boss in the hallway and she suddenly said “You’re doing a great job this year NA!”

    That was unexpected and honestly it felt really awesome…..esp since 2 years ago she said she wanted me fired.

    1. De Minimis*

      That is really good to hear, I know you’ve been really worried.

      Maybe it will be easier to stick it out a while longer and then look for a new position.

    2. Nashira*

      You’ve had such a rough time. It’s so fabulous to hear your grandboss say good things about you, to you!

    3. Nervous Accountant*

      Thanks everyone. At times like this I just connect it to what I wrote about on Monday’s open thread, that it doesn’t feel deserved. Maybe that’s something most people struggle with. I DO work hard, and if I just look at my own accomplishments, I do feel proud. But the self cutting down comes from comparing myself to others, those who know better or are smoother/nicer etc.

    4. OriginalEmma*

      Great news! You’ve had it rough recently, so this is so nice. Great way to start the weekend.

  9. Intrepid*

    I have a second interview next week with Bureaucratic Teapots Unlimited. When they asked for my availability in my first interview, I said 2 weeks notice– and then they said their onboarding process takes 5-6 weeks as a best-case scenario

    My current employer, Razzle-Dazzle Teapots, has a huge conference of Great Teapotors in 8 weeks, which 1) I don’t want to abandon them before, and 2) would be a great opportunity for me to attend. Potentially once-in-a-lifetime, unless my career really takes off from here, and even then…

    I’d like to ask BTU if I can push my (potential) start date back to 9 weeks from now. I’m entry level, so I’d normally say that was too much time, but their onboarding takes so long, and their hiring isn’t even complete yet… Is that a reasonable thing to ask? What language should I use?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Don’t say anything until they’ve made an offer. The offer might not come until after the conference, so no point in bringing it up if you might not need it.

      1. Intrepid*

        Hi!

        Derp derp, I got so focused on how to ask this question in an interview setting that I completely forgot to consider asking it at the offer stage. I’m pretty sure the offer will come (or not) before the conference, but the later it comes, the closer the timing is to a wash. Thank you!

    2. Bookworm*

      Something to think about: my former company, if you’d given two weeks notice, would probably cancel any travel or conference plans you had coming up. Obviously, this depends on your role at the conference and if they need help setting up, etc. However, often the point of conferences is development and growth, and once it’s established that you’re leaving, the money for that is better sent elsewhere. (They could maybe get someone else to go, or try and get credit for travel money spent.)

      Plus…six weeks notice is pretty long as it happens, and 9 is practically two months. I think, especially for an entry level position, this would be difficult to ask.

      Also, might be good to get clarity about what they mean by onboarding process. Certainly some of the onboarding happens ahead of time, but plenty happens even after you’ve gotten started and are showing up at the office. So I’m a little unclear on if they mean you should give 5 weeks notice, or if they’re merely letting you that the ramp-up will be slow.

      I’m curious about this conference though. If it’s huge and a great opportunity, is it not an industry standard? I’m surprised to see it described as once-in-a-lifetime.

      1. Intrepid*

        Hi, thank you for answering!

        I think my strongest case for getting to go on this conference is that we’re only a team of 3, so having one more pair of hands is really helpful– but that’s a good point that I could be left behind anyway. The once-in-a-lifetime thing is… if this is a retreat for, say, the founders of multi-billion tech startups, I’m a jr. tech writer. I might get to go someday, but right now I not only get to go, but I get to chat with them leading up to & throughout the conference– which is both useful in my work and a feather in my cap, so to speak.

      2. BRR*

        I’d also like some clarification on “onboarding process.” I’ve always taken that to mean how the company trains you once you start the job. If they mean hiring process, it’s very common for companies to take longer than they say.

        1. Intrepid*

          When they brought it up during the first interview, I took it to mean pre-employment checks etc. (Bureaucratic Teapots Unlimited lives up to their name), but that’s a good point.

          Is there a way that I can ask for clarification without sounding like I’m trying to stall? Maybe tying it to how the day-to-day work operates i.e. “During my first interview, BTU mentioned it has a 6-week onboarding process because of its internal bureaucracy. Do you find internal bureaucracy regularly stretches timelines like that?” Except that ends up being a slightly accusatory question about something entirely different…

          1. TootsNYC*

            I worked with a guy who got an offer of a new job, and they wanted him to give 2 weeks’ notice. But that would put him as leaving in the middle of the wrap-up of our monthly project (the biggest one of the year, actually–a true shit show), which he helps to manage.

            He argued, “If I were working for you already, you’d want me to treat you the same way.” They agreed, and waited another week.

            So if you think that your employer will truly need you for this, and it’s been part of your ongoing project, that might be a way to frame it–AFTER the offer.

            “I would really like to follow through on this for them. It feels like the professional thing to do.”

            Especially since they know they take a long time, another week or two may not be all that big a deal. I don’t think it would be weird to ask.

          2. Kyrielle*

            Wait until you get the offer. If the offer is contingent on a background test, drug test, etc., explain that you would like to wait to give notice until those hurdles have been cleared, and of course at that time would have to give reasonable professional notice.

            If the conference is still a ways away, I would mention leaving current-company in the lurch over it as a possible concern. If it’s, say, 3 weeks off or less by the time you get the offer, then I don’t think even that is needed.

  10. Sandy*

    Is there anything less motivating than having your vacation cancelled because your boss says “oh, I forgot it was supposed to be this week and I really need someone around just in case something goes wrong?”

    Productivity this week: officially zero.

    1. Anna*

      Well, I’m really going to need to be reimbursed for my non-refundable flight tickets to Mexico along with the deposit I put on the condo.

    2. TBH*

      If I were to honestly answer your question….

      How about getting promoted for your awesome performance. Signing an offer. Then on the eve before you were supposed to start your new position having HR call to say “Sorry. My bad. We messed up. Here is your new, 20% lower offer.”

      1. OriginalEmma*

        So do I get to say I’m a healthcare professional because my level 5 druid is a wicked good healer?

        1. Hlyssande*

          And do you have the knowledge and capability to stand up for yourself with stupid tanks who can’t hold hate and DDs who pull all the hate and tell them all to eff off? :D Gotta let some of them go.

    1. RedPanda*

      I can honesty say that my years of being a Guild/Raid Leader has helped my communication style expand in a great direction, I’d never admit it to my supervisor.

  11. Not Karen*

    Earlier this week we had a meeting in which we “discussed” an article, during which time I shared my thoughts on it. But I guess I shouldn’t have, because after the meeting someone came up to my desk, ignored the hint that I had put in my headphones and didn’t respond right away, and said, “You didn’t seriously think that, did you?”

  12. T3k*

    Just a general question, and haven’t been asked this yet in an interview, but I’m afraid it’ll eventually come up at the worst possible time (like, an interview for a job I really do want). How do you explain you’re not big on being “friendly”? I see all the time in job postings about wanting a fun person, or friendly person, etc. but in reality, I’m not. I see myself like a Dr. House: cold, blunt, not very friendly, but good at my job. I’m not one for pleasantries, but I can be friendly when the occasion calls for it (aka, when I’m not being bothered in the middle of a project). Is there a good way to put this if/when it comes up about how I get along with others?

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Maybe saying that you’re very task-oriented and focused? This is a good question, though, because I’m the same way.

    2. Anna*

      The reason people like Dr. House is because nobody could possibly be that horrible. Don’t be Dr. House. He’s a misanthrope and just like misogyny, misanthropes are not generally people we would choose to be around. How do you actually get along? Because if you’re a jerk, then that might be something to think about. But if in reality you’re not really a jerk, but you do tend to get focused on tasks and forget about pleasantries, I think you can say that.

      1. Kai*

        This. Don’t apply for jobs where being super cheery is integral to the job or the culture, because you’re just going to be miserable. But being reasonably pleasant to the people you work with is just a part of being professional, like showing up on time.

        1. T3k*

          The problem is, it’s on about 75% of job postings I’ve seen. I’m starting to feel like it’s one of those fads, like how some now put things like “rockstar designer” as the title or other weird words. So I can’t tell which ones are being serious in that they need a friendly face, or more of “oh, add this, it sounds good!” deal.

          1. Kelly L.*

            If that’s the case, then my guess is that it would be better to ignore it than to obsess about it. In a lot of cases, you’re probably right, they just saw it somewhere and thought it sounded good, rather than needing a super smiley person all the time. I think it would look weirder to explain why you’re not friendly than to just be the politest version of your real self and let the chips fall where they may. I think they mean “fits in here” more than “happy happy smiley smiley,” unless the job is at Disney World.

    3. Laurel Gray*

      Is it something you want to truly work on? I ask this because I’ve worked with people who I deemed only friendly on their terms or when it was convenient to them and I didn’t really care for them. make an effort to accommodate them, and just genuinely stayed out of their way. I would think that in *some* environments, someone lacking the fun/friendly thing naturally just wouldn’t work.

      1. T3k*

        It’s difficult to explain. I try to be professional, but I know I can be a pain in the ass without meaning to. Mostly it comes from hating being interrupted, and at my current job, some days I’m interrupted so much (stupid phones) when a coworker comes over “yes?” come out more like “what?!” from the stress of having been interrupted so many times already, not necessarily by that coworker. I’m half serious when I tell friends I need to make a sign to hang over my head that says “don’t take what I say too personally” because far too often I’ve upset people without meaning to (sometimes in a neutral tone, sometimes in an annoyed one). I feel if I wasn’t interrupted so often, I’d be a lot nicer, but since I can’t make the phone magically disappear… *sigh*

        1. CMT*

          Is this something you can work on? Because tons of people have to deal with interruptions that they’d like to not deal with, and lots of those people can do so without being rude.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            When I feel myself getting abrupt like that I “take five”, walk to the bathroom, refill my water bottle, etc. Sometimes I can’t do it in the moment so I grab my first opportunity later on, even though the momentary tension has passed.

            1. T3k*

              Ah, I didn’t think of this. I’ll try this next time I feel things are getting too stressed out for me, thanks.

        2. OriginalEmma*

          Your idea about the “don’t take what I say personally” sign makes me think of the character Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey. She always tells people “You have to stop taking what I say seriously, because I certainly don’t,” or something to that effect and it really rubs me the wrong way. It’s not other people’s job to decipher whether you’re behaving intentionally mean, negative, etc. or not. Generally, people take other people’s behaviors and the implications behind them at face value. It’s neither fair nor honest to expect others to bare the emotional burden of your irritability.

          That being said, interruptions suck. They do! But if there’s not a better way to deal with the phone issue (roster of people to answer the phones? a more clear phone tree instructional for callers?) perhaps a reframing is in order, if only for your own sanity. We’d all wish the ceaseless phone calls would stop but they won’t so accept it. Phones ring nonstop, silly circulars clog our mail boxes, and GRRM keeps killing beloved characters – they’re the realities of life and finding a way to accept them may make life a bit easier.

          1. T3k*

            I don’t watch Downtown Abbey, so not familiar with the character, but for me it’s not meant to come off as some puzzle you have to decipher. It’s more akin to chats/text when people will put smiley faces or “jk” after something, to let others know they’re just being funny or light hearted about a statement so others don’t take unnecessary offense to it because you can’t read their tone, expression, etc. so having that sign is a way to let others know “I’m honestly not trying to upset you!”

            Unfortunately, long story short, the one who’s supposed to be in charge of answering the phones is always late or will run off elsewhere without saying something (she’s in a different area so I don’t see when she leaves) and the only reason she hasn’t been fired is because she’s related to the owner. Great, huh? If she was on time, I wouldn’t mind answering every other call (it’s what I did at the last place I worked at and I wasn’t nearly this stressed out). This place though isn’t structured at all, so while a phone call isn’t much of an interruption, what really happens is an elaborate game of telephone where they’ll ask something I don’t know, so I have to put them on hold, find the boss to get the answer, run back, then the customer will say they want something else, so hold again, run back to boss, etc. So would could have been a 2 min. call at most at my last job turns into a 7+ min. interruption with a mini marathon for fun. Add on that this happens at least 5+ times a day (more if the other girl isn’t in) and it quickly adds up. I’ve tried to get them to organize better, but it’s basically like yelling at a mountain, hoping you’ll get it to jump across a lake.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      Honestly, I don’t think you should apply for those jobs because you wouldn’t be a good fit and you’d just be miserable (and if the job really wants a friendly person, it’s not fair to them either). I am the opposite of you – I’m almost always friendly and cheerful. When I worked at a major consulting firm, I was so unhappy because they were serious types and I had to completely stifle my normal personality. I hated every minute working at that place. One thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that it’s not a good idea for me to try to adapt my answers to make it look like I am perfect for a role – because even if I get the job, I won’t be happy.

      1. T3k*

        Fair enough. If I’d known where I currently am would require me to answer phones on top of the main reason I was hired, I’d most likely have turned it down or worked something else out. As it is, I’m pretty miserable, partly because I hate answering phones and talking to people before I’ve really woken up (noon). Doesn’t help that my boss refused to believe there were such things as introverts and that it drains me to deal with people all the time, making me more stressed out and irritable. I’m just worried that a place I could really be much more friendly in because it’d be a better environment would throw my resume out if they talk to my current boss and they go all “she’s not very friendly” because they don’t understand the circumstances as to why. Thankfully, chances of them contacting my current boss is low.

    5. CMT*

      Getting along well with others is a major part of most jobs, and being an adult. I would think if you described yourself in an interview as being a Dr. House type, you probably wouldn’t get hired at a lot of places. (Unless you are truly the very best at what you do. Like, very best in the whole world.)

      1. T3k*

        It’s not that I don’t get along well with others, I just come off very “not friendly” because I don’t smile much and I don’t like talking much, so it rubs people the wrong way when they don’t understand that there are people who just don’t like small talk or smiling first thing in the morning. I just wish they’d learn to not expect me to be going “top of the morning to you!” when I come into work. At least my other boss gets that (the one who runs another store) and so he likes to joke that he won’t bug me until it’s noon (I wish I could go work for him instead, but they already had a person with my position there).

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          “because I don’t smile much”

          Resting Bitch Face here, too.

          I also get lots of “if I throw you a Snickers first, can we talk about XYZ?” It definitely correlates to how much “on” time I’ve had to put in that day – the more people I have to interact with in person or via the phone, the crankier I get.

          Not that it will help you in your job search, but at work itself, I just try to be a rock star when I am doing something – do it fast, do it right, hand it back early; come off SUPER FRIENDLY in emails to people in an attempt to manage their overall perception of me; and I also do the “take a break” thing – fill up my water bottle, go grab the department mail, hide amongst the servers for a while, etc.

          With my close coworkers (all my customers are internal, but these are the people that literally work next to me) I just warn them if I am having a bad day. Like hey guys, totally not in the mood to deal today, I’m going to concentrate on ABC project if there’s no objections.

          One of the absolute best ways I maintain my introvert-sanity is making sure that I take lunch alone most days of the month. I still go to lunch with others occasionally just to “manage perceptions” like with email, but most days I either run out and grab something and eat in the car/take a walk/run errands, or bring my lunch, hide and read a book. And I mean actually hide – it makes me so angry when someone asks what book I am reading. No book, now, you’ve interrupted! So I tuck away somewhere secluded. That hour break makes the second half of the day much more palatable.

          Anyway, hope some of that helps a little.

          1. T3k*

            Unfortunately, we don’t correspond much by email where I am, though I’ll definitely keep that in mind to be really friendly in the few that we do talk through to try and make a better perception.

            Ah, I used to warn people like that all the time on the afternoon school bus if I was having a bad day and it worked wonders. I need to pick that back up again, might save a lot of problems with coworkers/boss.

            And yes, your suggestions will definitely help out, thanks ^.^

    6. TheAssistant*

      I totally feel you – I didn’t know better when I took my current job and ended up on a very relationship-focused team. I am 100% a task-focused person. I would try to ask questions about culture (and the AAM archives have some really good examples of how to word them) and maybe even mention it as your weakness if asked – preferring to focus on tasks rather than juggle multiple interruptions, etc.

      At my current job, I made a point to tell all new-hires that I have virtually no inflection in my voice and can sound harsher than I mean to, I got a flexible schedule so I can have time after everyone leaves to really focus on tasks requiring lots of concentration, and I set my phone to voicemail when I need to focus during the day. I also take an active role with newcomers lower than me to help them understand the work more wholistically (instead of here is how you do A, teach them all the iterations of what A looks like so they can recognize and proceed independently) so ultimately I get fewer interruptions or mistakes that take a long time to correct. As a result, I can function a little bit better on this relationship team while I look for a new role that’s more in line with my preferences.

  13. Folklorist*

    ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!! Go do something you’ve been putting off and come back here and tell us about it! Now, dammit. I see you scrolling…

    1. esemes*

      Yes. Thank you. I needed this. Always and forever needing this.

      The past two weeks have been frustrating and tedious. I need this added motivation to get things done. :)

      I will report back at 3:30 EST.

        1. esemes*

          Finished the two assignments that were giving me major angst 50 minutes ahead of schedule. Now onto the next thing! :)

    2. Amy M in HR*

      I planned for this today – I have had a five inch stack of training paperwork that needs to be manually filed in every employee’s file, many in different areas of each file. I have been putting this off for weeks but told myself today was the day to get it done! I shunned my normal business office attire and came in with my leggings and a long (dressy) tee and went to work. 3.5 hours later and all the filing is done. Whoo hoo!
      On another note, I accidentally broke the lock on a different file cabinet, and so now have to reorganize the employee file filing cabinet to accommodate everything in the broken one. SO SO SO happy I wore leggings today!

    3. Chameleon*

      Hah! I was thinking I couldn’t because I’m on the bus, but I remembered an email I’d put off. Email sent!

    4. Gene*

      Working on monthly billing. Due every month, but it’s such a PITA I tend to put it off. Will finish in a couple of hours.

    5. LCL*

      Just did this morning. Turned in all of the performance evaluations for our group. Now I’m done with that until January 2017. (Government employee, union shop, PEs don’t affect pay, this group is all paid the same hourly wage.)

  14. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    I’m grumpy.

    Got my performance review with a good rating. I was new to my dept this year, yet met all my goals and exceeded expectations.

    I was told that my VP would have given me a higher rating, but thought it wouldn’t be fair to those who were there an entire year.

    So I get penalized for being more kick ass than my peers in half the time? I worked my ass off and got the lowest raise in my life. It’s an insult. I’ll net an extra $40 per paycheck. So I essentially earned my coffee money this year, and I drink cheap, bitter coffee.

    Incidentally, this is the same VP whose had me on the hook for over two months on a promotion. Guess who won’t accept the promotion if offered. I think I’m out.

    In the immortal words of Tracey Chapman, “Gimme one reason to stay here.” It’s been a rough year, and I’m done banging my head against wall, especially now that I know how recognition work.

    Time to look for another role elsewhere, or any advice on how to stick things out? It might be temporary, and I could be really grumpy from other things. I don’t want to make a rash decision.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Some companies make their managers effectively grade on a curve – like only 20% can get the top rating, 30% can get something like “exceeding expectations”, and everyone else has to have average or below. It’s to combat artificial inflation, but for people who manage small teams it’s a poor solution. Maybe if you are rating 100 people it makes sense, but if you’re rating 5 then you actually might have two exceptional performers.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          I can understand that I got shifted down due to longevity of my peers, but why tell me that the only reason was tenure and what my rating could have been? Why acknowledge that I accomplished more yet he didn’t support reflecting that in my rating.

          This is my 18th corporate performance review – I have no idea why VP would think that I needed to know that additional information, and I’ve never had this experience before. Years ago in a similar situation I had a boss who went to bat and got me the rating I deserved. This is first time I’ve encountered this type of issue since I left line work.

          Had he kept his mouth shut, I would have been blissfully gone on as happy as a clam.

        2. Judy*

          Wow, in my experience those numbers are very generous. I’ve pretty much seen 5% get the top rating and 10% get the next highest. And of course 5% get the lowest rating (and a PIP) and 10% get the second to lowest. 70% get “meet expectations”.

    1. Molly*

      Ugh. That happened to me a few years back. I’d been with the company three years, had worked my ass off during the review year, got a great annual review, won a few firm awards for my work and got huge recognition outside my department. I also got the lowest raise I’ve ever received (barely cost of living) and got moved to a smaller cubicle.

      Six months later I took that outside recognition and moved to higher ranked (and higher paid) position in a new department with the same firm, where they actually value and reward my hard work. Meanwhile, my original department basically disintegrated from the top on down, and is now staffed by entirely new people.

      I would say since you’re new, you might give it another year and see how that goes. But if it’s the same story at your next review, start looking for the exit.

    2. JW*

      Yeah, this sucks and he really shouldn’t have told you at all, but that was his dumb fault. What you may want to do is take a breath and take a step back and…observe. Are there other deal breakers in there? Does he have a timeline for this promotion or is it just a carrot to get you to stick around? Are there benefits to staying a little longer?

      I once got a bonus so small I almost started crying while listening to my manager try and talk about how much success we had that year and not seem obvious that while he was getting his 25% of salary bonus, my pitiful 1.5% was a joke. Oh, and the raise that year didn’t even cover the increase in health insurance. I quit six months later.

      At my current job I have a head of dept (one above my boss) who apparently doesn’t like me despite the excellent work I’ve been turning in the last two months and wants me off the team, wont renew my contract in two months, and is threatening to give me a 2 on my performance evaluation, all while covering for the total sandbagger on the team who does nothing and takes all the credit (not to mention comes in late/leaves early and hasn’t produced a single decent piece of work his entire year there). We have open headcount and Im a long term contractor, so I figured fine, let this clueless ass sort it out for himself, but in two months when they are in the mire of deadlines, they can start paying me day rate to stick around. I’ve started looking for something better at any rate because there are broader issues that will never get fixed regardless.

      If there isnt anything other than money to stay around for its probably time to jump.

  15. anonanonanon*

    Do LinkedIn applications require cover letters? I’m finding a lot of jobs posted only on LinkedIn with the InApply button. There’s a button to upload your resume or you can just send your LinkedIn profile. I’ve heard conflicting things about cover letters. Some people say a LinkedIn application doesn’t require a cover letter, some say you should send a combo cover letter & resume doc instead of your profile.

    Most of the these applications don’t say anything about wanting a cover letter.

    1. Froggy*

      I have reviewed a lot of “profile” applications lately and all I can say is that, as someone who hires, I hate them. They’re not well formatted and they’re difficult to read. You have to be a truly outstanding candidate for me to put time into deciphering them.

      If cover letters are standard in your industry I’d send a combo cover letter/resume. If they are not standard, just the resume would be fine.

      Just don’t do yourself the disservice of getting eliminated from the candidate pool because the export of your LinkedIn profile is difficult to read. Send a resume.

    2. Anonny Nonny for this One*

      Read the job posting very carefully. Ours always say we want a cover letter and resume attached in a very specific format. How folks apply is part of our screening process because we have very picky clients who want things submitted in certain formats and it’s the first step in screening for attention to detail and directions. We have one up now and about 20% of the applicants followed the directions as stated (at both the top and bottom of the job posting!) I read all of the applications but the strongest resumes are those who followed directions and whose cover letters reflected they had done some research about us, our clients and the position.

      If it doesn’t ask for a cover letter, I would say it’s optional, but I think a cover letter tailored to the job position and the company would definitely make you stand out in a good way.

    3. plain_jane*

      It’s been a year, but the last time I was on the receiving end of Linked In resumes, the cover letter was critical. There are so many applications, mostly by people who don’t know what they’re applying for, that the cover letters ended up being one of the first screening criteria.

  16. Crispy*

    OK another question… Has anyone ever filed a lawsuit against an employer?

    I have spoke to several employment lawyers who all agree that I’m being sexually harassed, discriminated against for having a disability, and retaliation for taking FMLA. Due to finances the only attorney I can work with is one who will only collect if I win. She says I have case but it’s not the strongest but she will represent me and only collect if I win. The case isn’t the strongest because I didn’t go into my job wanting to sue my company and many people have been fired for “causing problems or drama” and going to hr. We recently had a company wide meeting where employees were told get along or you will be fired. So a lot of things were documented by me but I never went to HR because I wanted to keep my job. Also, one of the people harassing me is the hr rep’s husband… awkward. (It’s a small company)

    I’m scared to file a lawsuit a) will this ruin my reputation to future employers b) I could just leave now and I wouldn’t leave on the best terms but they wouldn’t be bad terms c) I’m sure the company can afford a much better lawyer than me d) won’t this go on public record? e) I’m not in a very good place and I’m not sure I want to go through all of this

    I’d be interested to hear others experiences either personal or if you had a close friend or family member go through a lawsuit like this.

    1. neverjaunty*

      First, if you are in the US, know that it is absolutely standard for an attorney in an employment case to collect only if you win. I’m a little confused at your statement that she is doing this arrangement based on the strength of your case. Did she tell you that? Have you spoken to other attorneys?

      Keep in mind that filing a lawsuit is not the first thing you have to do out of the gate. It is not unusual for a lawyer to first contact the company and offer to settle before a lawsuit is filed. Your attorney should be able to explain your options going forward and the risks and benefits of your choices – if she won’t, get a new lawyer.

      I don’t think you need to worry that a small, badly-run company is going to have a better lawyer than you do.

      1. Crispy*

        Yes, that is what she said that she would try to mediate or settle with the company instead of going to court. She did seem very rushed and wanted me to go to the EEOC immediately and didn’t really spend much time on the risks and benefits. Her words were it isn’t the strongest case I’ve ever seen but it is still a case (yeah, not very comforting).

        I guess I’m more concerned about my career in the future and any effects that this sort of thing may have before talking with her more or finding another attorney.

    2. fposte*

      I haven’t, but here are my thoughts: if you only had one attorney willing to work on contingency, that may be another sign that your case isn’t very strong. And has she given you any idea of what might be coming to you if you win? If it’s a low chance of winning and not much to win, then you’re basically being driven by the principle of the thing. Which is a good motivation but it doesn’t always outweigh the impact of the consequences.

      And have you contacted the EEOC yet? There’s a pretty narrow window of availability for filing with the EEOC, and you do need to do that if you’re going to sue.

      1. Crispy*

        No, I haven’t contacted the EEOC yet and I’ve only spoken to three lawyers. One said it would cost money to come in and speak with her more, the other said he didn’t have time in his schedule but referred me to the third, and the third said contingency only. The attorney I spoke to said I had to file an EEOC claim today or Monday if I wanted to move forward but that’s why I’m here. I’m not sure. Even if I do win, do I want this on public record and will it haunt me throughout my career? I think that’s the biggest question.

        1. neverjaunty*

          I would very much doubt that this will haunt you throughout your career. Employers don’t really like it to be known that they were the subject of an EEOC complaint of a lawsuit. Plus, if you do reach a resolution with your employer, part of that will likely be requiring them to give you a neutral reference.

          Did your lawyer say why you needed to file the claim quickly? I’m assuming she is concerned that you are running into a statute of limitations but she should be able to articulate that for you.

      2. Dulcinea*

        Other way around- with contingency, lawyers will only take it if they think you have a shot (because if you lose they don’t get paid). With a situation where you have to pay either way, there’s more of a chance that a shady lawyer is just taking advantage of you to get paid.

        1. fposte*

          Sorry, I think I wasn’t clear; my impression was that Crispy had taken it to three lawyers and two were only willing to take it on an hourly basis. (She’s subsequently clarified a little.) So I was meaning the same thing you’re saying–contingency is a *good* sign.

    3. Sunny With a Chance of Showers*

      Re: a): A lawsuit/settlement usually stipulates (you put in the agreement) that neither party can reference or speak of the lawsuit to any outside parties. Your attorney would have them agree that when giving a reference, the company say only say you were employed and what dates.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I’m not saying don’t file the suit, but make that a last resort. Someone I know once consulted a lawyer about a possible case for wrongful termination (different than what you’re describing of course, but the suing the employer part is the same). That person was told by the lawyer, “look, you have a potential case here, but you need to know this is a long-term process. It’s going to take at least a year to work through, and you need to be prepared in the meantime to have your professional reputation dragged through the mud. The employer will go out of its way to find people to comment negatively on your character, work ethic, etc. You need to make a determination whether it’s worth putting you and your family through this.”

        Even if you win, you may lose because there may be a chilling effect on your future job candidacy because other employers who “don’t want to hire someone who sued their previous employer” no matter the circumstances. Again, I’m not saying don’t fight, but like neverjaunty says, know what the consequences will be.

        1. Cripsy*

          Hi College Career Counselor, yes that’s exactly what I’m worried about. I know there are some other issues above with the EEOC/lawyer/fees etc but I guess this is mostly what I’m asking, would it be worth it? I’m thinking right now it might be best to cut my losses and move on without a suit.

          1. neverjaunty*

            These are honestly questions your lawyer should be answering – not strangers on the Internet. We just don’t know enough about where you are, the facts of your case, what your employer is lik, etc.

            Do not make a decision out of fear. You can make whatever choice is best for you, but you can’t make your best decision though fearful guessing.

            1. Crispy*

              I’m more asking for experiences rather than legal advice though. I don’t know anyone who has gone through something like this and I’m just curious to how it turned out for other people even if it was a different situation. I’m still not even sure if I want to pursue legal action at this point.

              1. College Career Counselor*

                In the case I mentioned above, the person opted to make a clean break with the employer and not to pursue legal action, figuring that would prejudice future employers. But only you can make the decision based on your situation and the circumstances. I wish you luck.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I’ll be Debbie Downer here.

          My friend sued her employer for physical injuries on the job. The case dragged on for almost a decade. She had to go to their docs and even their shrink. In her case, the insurance companies got involved and sent people to do activity checks. So she had people sitting outside her house watching to see what she was doing. She became worried that someone was checking her pharmacy records. So even though she did not want to take all the drugs prescribed, she at least got the scripts and took them home. (People stole the scripts out of her bathroom, that’s another story though.) Finally she decided that the lawsuit was causing an additional layer of injuries (upset, worry) and it was not worth it. She settled out of court for a half year of pay, less lawyer fees. So we are talking a sum of money less than $20k.

          The lawsuit pulled down her quality of life in so many different ways. I could go on and on about that.
          Given what you say you have so far, and what I have seen around me, I vote NO do not do this. It is better to just get out, reknit your life and work to heal your body/mind. I hope I do not sound cold, I feel I must warn you that if this goes bad, it can go bad in epic ways and you could end up feeling worse than you do now.

          I don’t know if you have heard me mention my wise friend. My wise friend used to say, “Sometimes the best we can do is extract ourselves from a bad situation. We MIGHT at a future time, be able to go back in and correct the situation or have the situation made right in some manner.” His take was the top priority is to get ourselves to a safer place where we are no longer being injured. We owe that much to ourselves. Then if we are lucky we can go back in on the bad situation later on and handle it in an effective manner. Or maybe someone else will go in and clean house in a spectacular manner. No way of knowing what the future holds.

          1. Crispy*

            Thank you for this, Not so New… and you’re not being a debbie downer you are being real and I appreciate the story and the advice of the friend.

    4. Anony Mouse*

      I had to take legal action against a past employer when I was physically assaulted at the office. I don’t know the details of your case, but my attorney had me attempt to resolve the issue with the powers that be at the company before mentioning that I had consulted with a lawyer. When that didn’t work, I brought my attorney in, and we ended up quickly and quietly settling. As part of the agreement, we signed a nondisclosure so I can’t talk about the incident and they cannot speak ill of me. This was almost a decade ago and has yet to come back to haunt me, other than it being an overall traumatic event.

      1. Cripsy*

        Anony Mouse – would the non disclosure still go into effect even if I don’t win the case? Also, thank you for your reply.

        1. Dulcinea*

          As an attorney, I urge you to rely on your own attorney for these kinds of questions and not to make decisions based on things you read on the internet. When you contact the EEOC, you can ask them what is public record and what is not.

          FWIW, do know that the initial papers in filing an actual lawsuit (not the same as filing EEOC complaint) are nearly always public record, and the settlement agreement between the parties (the vast majority of lawsuits settle out of court) is nearly always confidential .

          1. Crispy*

            Thanks, Dulcinea that was very helpful and yes, I’m trying not to get legal advise from others but more so their experiences.

            I think I just have my reservations on how it will impact my career and will an attorney always be honest about that? I’m sure they want to pursue the case and get paid if there’s a shot vs their personal concern over my career if that makes sense? But it seems like I’m just getting mixed answers and mixed experiences.

            Maybe stressing over this is just as bad and it may be better to cut my losses and move on. My intention of going to work at this employer was never to sue them but unfortunately things just got that bad. :-/

            1. neverjaunty*

              If you don’t trust your attorney to be honest with you, then find another attorney ASAP.

              Other people’s experiences may not be helpful to you because circumstances vary so widely.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Maybe stressing over this is just as bad and it may be better to cut my losses and move on.

              You have not even started the suit yet. This statement right here is a warning flag for you.

        2. neverjaunty*

          A settlement agreement isn’t “winning” the case – both sides agree to certain things that are binding, and then the lawsuit, if there is one, is dismissed.

          1. Alma*

            It might be wise to consult an atty in a larger town (or the next town) so the circles in which you operate are not so close.

            Certainly if your employer is A Big Deal in your town, you will have a harder time finding an atty who can represent you without weighing the influence of employer and future relationships.

            Did you read my experience with filing with the EEOC a few days ago? The LR was being harassed because of anxiety and panic disorders. I’m glad to have to go back and see what day it was – I’ll post below when I find it.

            My recommendation? Speak to EEOC in person – get the scoop from them. Take your documentation. You may always decide not to proceed. The relief I felt in speaking with someone who didn’t think I was crazy was immense.

            The EEOC will be very clear about what can and cannot happen. You also don’t need an atty to proceed with them.

            This deck is time-sensitive. Don’t choose not to exercise your rights because you are afraid of choosing today.

  17. Anon For This One*

    How long do you give a new manager to get situated and start participating in the department before you start judging them? My new manager has been here for a month and I honestly don’t think he’s done anything (except trying to get us on some very startup-y task management system that’s more annoying than useful given the way our business works). Admittedly, the work we do is really complex and he started at a time when there were some crazy issues going on that I’m still struggling to wrap my hands around after being here for a year. But when he attends meetings about these issues, he’s not asking anyone questions during or after to try to understand what’s going on, which concerns me.

    I don’t expect him to be too actively involved in my work – I loved my old manager and I could easily go a week or two without seeing him because it wasn’t necessary beyond him passing me assignments. But I do need him to function as a sounding board sometimes and I need him to be able to make the kind of judgment calls you’d expect a manager to make, and I don’t see him starting to pick up the kind of knowledge he’ll need to do that. How long do I give him before I start to worry? I’m considering giving his boss a heads up about what’s going on, which would not be an overstep because I have an extremely close relationship with her and she explicitly asked me before he started to keep her informed of how he’s doing.

    1. Jules the First*

      A month is not really long enough to judge. I’d give him at least three, especially since he sounds very different to your old manager and you probably need to tweak your communication style to support him.

      1. Anon For This One*

        That’s a good point about the communication style. I’m usually good at quickly establishing a rapport with people but he’s taking me a little longer to feel out.

    2. Been there*

      Depends if the person is new to the company or not. New to the company – could take a year for them to experience the whole cycle and grasp the whole picture. Veteran but new to the role and new to being a manager – maybe 6 months to a year?

      When someone takes on a new role for which there is no direct training (figuring it out as he goes), assimilation is partially dependent on how well the team gives feedback and offers help and training. When you need him to be a sounding board, try saying, “I am trying to figure something out and I was hoping you could be a sounding board…”

      Instead of waiting for the point when you should be concerned, consider that this person is on your team, and your success is tied to his success, then do whatever you can to help him get up to speed.

      1. Anon For This One*

        He’s new to the company but not new to being a manager or doing similar work to what we do (financial operations).

        I actually have a pretty good benchmark because we hired an analyst (basically my same role) at the same time as him. She’s light years ahead of him in terms of understanding our business and I think it’s wholly attributable to her trying to grab as much work as she possibly can that she can then use as a learning experience. She also asks a ton of questions and learns that way.

        To me, that drive and curiosity are what’s missing – I certainly don’t expect him to actually be working autonomously and doing everything my old manager could do yet, but I expect him to be inserting himself into as many situations as he can where he’d pick up knowledge and I expect him to be asking a million questions in those situations. I expect that from employees so I sure as hell expect it from a manager.

    3. Nobody*

      My initial thought is that a month doesn’t seem like very long, but the description of your new manager reminds me a lot of a couple managers I’ve had. I also have a pretty complex job with a lot of rules and regulations, so I tried to be patient with these new managers and gave them time to get familiar with the job, but they never did, and they didn’t really seem to make any effort to do so. At first, everyone said, “Let’s cut them a break and help them out because they’ve only been here a month and don’t know this part yet…” But eventually, a month turned into a year and they were no better. They both ended up getting demoted out of management in the end. Maybe it’s too soon to expect him to be completely up to speed, but he should at least be making some progress.

      1. Anon For This One*

        Yeah, that’s my worry and why I’m asking this question. I know I’m a super fast learner and it’s taken me roughly a year to get fully up to speed, so I don’t expect him to be where I am after just a month. I just want a benchmark of when I should start being concerned that he doesn’t seem to be learning *anything*, never mind learning everything.

    4. TootsNYC*

      “…I need him to be able to make the kind of judgment calls you’d expect a manager to make, and I don’t see him starting to pick up the kind of knowledge he’ll need to do that. …”

      I would say, start asking to make those judgment calls. Then he can go pick up the knowledge he’ll need to make them.

      In only a month, he’s still figuring out what he needs to do with all of you. Especially if you normally function so independently, you need to start this dialog.

      And even if he doesn’t have the full knowledge to actively, accurately, and rapidly make a judgment call–he still has authority and he has previous experience to give him a framework.

      He might ask questions and use YOU as the knowledge base (or part of it).
      So I would say it’s time for you to absolutely take all your questions to him the way you would if he’d been there a long time. This is part of his training.

      If he makes a bad judgment call, let the evidence show it. I don’t think it’s fair for you to say anything to his boss, no matter what she asks, until you have actually starting using yoru manager for what you need him for.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have long thought that we train our bosses. If he does not give you x, the you need to go ask for x. That rule about mind-reading goes both ways. Every workplace has it’s own thing, some places the employees want the boss to have a high degree of interaction, some places the employees want to check in on Friday and that is it. He is still in the process of learning what you guys want. I agree with the others who said 6 months to a year.

      2. Anon For This One*

        You know, that’s an excellent point. Of course, there’s the age-old excuse that I’m just too busy to wait around for him to catch up and that it’s not worth me taking the time to train him when I could do it myself or ask someone else in a fraction of the time. But I think you’re right that to some extent, I need to drag him into the deep end of the pool with me rather than waiting for him to ease down from the shallow end, which he might never do on his own.

        I mentioned above that we hired another employee around the same time as him who’s much further ahead in her knowledge. A big part of that is exactly because of what you’re saying – I basically handed her a list of tasks and a stack of procedures and told her to ask me if she had any questions. She’s been forced to learn in order to keep up, so maybe I need to find ways to push him in the same way, even if I can’t delegate work to him (well, I could, but managing up is exhausting and I just don’t have the energy for it when I’m already working overtime every day).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In your latter example of the employee you are actually sending a message such as, “I think you CAN do this. I think you will be okay. Here’s what you need to do and to know. I won’t let you drown but you have to keep dog paddling until you get it.” I enjoy working with people who treat me in this manner. Generally, they teach me a lot.

    5. NicoleK*

      Thinking back to my previous position as a manager….1 month isn’t enough time. Especially if the training is subpar and manager’s direct supervisor provides very little support and guidance. Three months is a better benchmark.

      That said, boss at Old Job brought on a new manager. New manager sucked at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months…you get the picture. Sometimes it’s very evident that the job is a poor fit or that the person is not competent.

  18. Jules the First*

    Been waiting for this all week!

    I know it’s always better to give managers as references rather than peers, but what do you do when you have no manager?

    At current job, I have a nominal boss who signs off on my time sheets (because the system doesn’t allow self-approving), so he’s technically my manager, but he’s got absolutely no clue what I do, whether I’m any good at it, or what it looks like when someone does my job well (I see him about once every six months; as a company, we don’t do performance reviews and salaries/raises at my level are considered and set annually by a panel of senior staff who are familiar with your work).

    A big part of my job is working one-on-one with senior managers from the technical side of the business, coaching and supporting them in specific aspects of the business. Several of them know exactly what I do and how good I am at it, and could speak at length to what I’ve done and what I’m like to work with.

    Would it be ok to supply a couple of them as references instead of my nominal manager? Technically, I suppose they are my peers because we’re all responsible directly to the founder, but they are managers within the business, they just don’t manage me…

    1. fposte*

      Yes, use the senior managers you work with. (And they can report to the same boss as you but still not be peers, so I’d stay away from categorizing them as such when you give their names.)

    2. Graciosa*

      You could, and I would also recommend prepping your technical manager who may get a call anyway. If he doesn’t know what you do, he might not know enough to either answer the questions himself or provide a referral to people within the company who are in a better position to evaluate your work.

      But my first thought was what about the “senior staff”? If there is a panel of people who are familiar with your work and actually charged with evaluating it (rather than simply receiving it like clients) I would think they would be credible managerial references.

      1. Jules the First*

        I wish I knew who my senior panel were! They keep it ‘confidential’ to prevent people from lobbying for raises (because apparently we’re supposed to be doing this for the love of teapots!)

        I do think there’s probably a fair bit of overlap with the senior technical staff that I’d tap for references, and I’m pretty sure my panellists include the CEO and at least one founder, but they can be unreliable even with clients, so I’m not about to use them for references unless it’s a political thing where a potential employer would be so awed to get the call that it wouldn’t matter what was actually said.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Yes, I had to do this when two of my references died within a month of each other. I don’t have many people I can use because I have such long tenures at my jobs and I didn’t want to use someone I worked with 15 years ago. I think it’s fine because they are also managers, not just peers.

    4. Ama*

      I have a couple managers I won’t use because they were fired for financial misconduct and I have no interest in figuring out where they are now, so I have used a couple of senior coworkers who in both cases were not my direct manager but did delegate tasks to me and supervise my work on several projects. In fact one of them I worked with for six years, the longest I have worked with any one coworker including managers, so she’s probably the reference who knows me best. When I provide references I list them as “Senior coworker with supervisory responsibilities” and it has so far not been a problem.

  19. Doriana Gray*

    Yesterday was my one month anniversary in my new job, so I talked to the new boss before leaving to ask what all I need to work on going forward and what I can improve. He laughed because he couldn’t believe a month had gone by already and then told me, “Honestly? Just keep doing what you’re doing – you’re doing a great job.” New boss does a pretty good job of complimenting my work at least once a day anyway, but it was nice to get specific positive feedback and even broad feedback from him. I was going through periods of feeling overwhelmed (and contemplating quitting), but I think it’s because I’ve been on almost nonstop for two years, and came from an environment where everything we did was wrong. New boss said I’m at the level he’d expect for someone with my background and current training, and he said my writing is great, which is a relief to him to not have to spend much time correcting my letters to clients. He also said he’s very glad I’m here, and he’s glad that I’m taking initiative to move files forward and assigning myself complex cases that’ll force me to work through more complicated problems our division faces.

    Overall, I feel a lot better than I did last week. It’s like I’m finally starting to settle a bit into the role and things are coming a little bit more naturally to me now. Hopefully, I can keep this positive momentum going in the upcoming weeks and months.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Thanks, I’m glad too! It’s very bizarre to get positive feedback these days since I spent a year plus working for someone who rarely had a kind thing to say about anyone/anything. Anytime he calls my name, my heart leaps like, “Oh crap, what did I do wrong now?” But it’s usually not that (and if he is correcting something I’ve done wrong, he never says I screwed up, he’ll just say, “I see why you did this, but let’s try something else instead.”).

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Oh, and I don’t know how I forgot to mention this: I was included on an email Thursday with the training schedule for one of my company’s current trainees. He starts a three week training schedule with us next week, and I’ve been placed on the schedule to help train him on file set ups. The AVP of the division came up with the schedule, and I was kind of taken aback that I was included given that a) I’m brand new myself and b) there are others in our division who could probably speak to this issue better than I could for a full hour. I know AVP audited two of my files at the end of last month and told me I did a great job setting them up (and said I’d be running circles around him within a week), but it was really quite shocking to me that I was included along with supervisors and other veteran employees in the training plans.

      I could let my jerk brain tell me it’s only because I was a former trainee and, being new, I have less on my plate than the others and thus will have the time to train, but I’m choosing to remain optimistic and believe that I was chosen because my work so far has been good. :)

  20. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I received a federal teapot specialist interview invite! Yay! (It took many, many applications). Of a certain level, with steps within.
    Ie) Teapot level 8: teastep 1, teastep8…etc.

    Teapot level is fine….BUT, within the level, the step they may want to bring me on would mean taking on a $13,000 pay cut–*unless* they take me on as a higher step level given my licensure/credentials.

    Has anybody taken a pay cut to enter the fed world? How’d it go? (Or, is it worth it?)
    What’s the likelihood they’ll push me up a step level?

    1. De Minimis*

      I’ve heard of them sometimes letting people in at a higher step–often it’s in a situation like yours where the candidate will have to take a paycut, or if it’s a hard to fill position.

      This is something that will be worked out during the offer stage.

    2. fposte*

      Will it be a problem to leave the job you just started, or have you been hoping for fed work all along so you’ll be with the feds for a while if you get this?

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        My ultimate career goal was a fed job for the long term (ie. Now till when I have kids, and up till retirement), but at decent pay. My current gig is one that is flexible—people can stay as long as they need. Current gig pays ~$13,000 more though, and I can’t do a $13,000 paycut/year. I mean I could, but I’d be very unhappy….it would delay paying for a down payment/later possible wedding/etc. decisions decisions?

        1. De Minimis*

          It can be difficult. As a former fed, I always say people should consider the possibility of remaining in that federal job long-term or even permanently, and not plan on it being a stepping stone. Career mobility can be limited, depending on the job, agency, and location, and salaries tend to be flat and will probably remain so.

          1. De Minimis*

            However, the cases where I’ve seen them offer more are often for professions such as medicine and most likely law….cases where the private sector pays a lot more on average.

    3. Crissy from HR*

      My older sister took a 17K pay cut to go federal, I took a 20K paycut to go back on Active Duty for an assignment my unit desperately needed filled. I didn’t get anything from the DOD except reduced healthcare and COLA. My sister was able to negotiate the highest step at her grade, work hard in her role, apply for new positions at a higher grade (and in different organizations) every year or two, and made her pay + more back in 4 years.

      9 years later, she makes 6 figures, has student loan repayment at her agency, only works in her physical office 9 days a month, has every other Friday off and all the holidays/leave one could wish for. She’s very happy she did, we both feel there’s a better work life balance in the fed. She did have to push back buying a house/having children two or three years to be comfortable in her salary, but she’s happy as a clam now.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Sounds awesome…it really does <:)

        I guess I'm deciding whether I can delay the childbearing though. I want to try when I'm 31, but if I go fed like your sister did, that would mean me postponing kids till when I'm 34/nearing 35, and having a second when I'm 40. Stillbirth/miscarriages run on my mom's side of the family though X/

        1. GovHRO*

          If we all waited until the time was perfect financially to have kids, we’d all be post-menopausal. Some federal agencies have subsidized day care. At DOD, as a civilian, I paid 1/3rd of what I paid when I moved to another daycare. In fact that daycare saving each month was more than my mortgage (two kids–expensive daycare outside of DOD). There is no better place to have kids (quality of life,etc.). A small number of agencies (EPA has it) have leave bank (you pay in one pay period of vacation time and if you’re suffering from a serious illness or on maternity leave, the leave bank will cover that time with paid leave.) You may be able to negotiate an “above minimum rate” pay rate. If you get an offer you should ask about it. You should also ask for a higher initial amount of annual leave to reflect the years of experience you bring to the table. Feds initially get 4 hours of annual leave per pay period, then 6 after 3 years and 8 after 15 years. You should also read the job announcement–it will tell you if a recruitment incentive is offered (rare, but up to 25% for difficult to fill jobs.)

    4. ElCee*

      I have heard that they almost always try to get you in on the first step if you’re coming from the outside, but take that with a grain of salt as it’s only based on a few friends’ experiences. I’ve had federal interviews but no offers, and as De Minimis says that is usually discussed at offer stage.

    5. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Oh, I know this one!

      I would have had to take a 10K+ decrease to become a Fed, but my future manager went to bat for me, filled out some paperwork, and they bumped me up quite a few steps. It’s possible!

  21. Chipper*

    Started a new job a few months ago. I’m involved in teapot production. There’s a team who designs the teapots, a team who builds then and my team who puts on the finishing touches. After I’ve completed my job, the teapot goes back to the designers who double-check it to make sure everything looks right. If something is wrong with finishing, I fix it, but if something is wrong with the build, it goes back to the builders. I can catch some build problems before it goes back to design, but there are some things I just don’t know to look for yet, but am learning. My problem is that one of the builders gets upset with me when I don’t catch a build problem before design does. When I ask him to fix it after design has pointed it out, he asks me why I didn’t catch it first. Well, I didn’t catch because I didn’t know to look for it! For instance, the other day, a spout was 1/4″ lower than it should have been. I knew to make sure the spout wasn’t too high, but I didn’t know being too low was even an issue. The builder was upset that design caught that, but I didn’t. I know now in the future to look for that, but there are going to be lots of similar situations where I just won’t know til it’s pointed out that something is an issue. So far I’ve just been accepting the builder’s chastisement, because I don’t feel like it’s my hill to die on to fight back. Also this builder is fairly brusque, so I’m trying to not take it personally and know that it’s just his style, but it’s hard to not feel stupid and lazy every time he says, “I know these are small details but you really should be taking more time and being more careful.” I could scrutinize a teapot all day, if I don’t know that something could be wrong, how could I catch it? Should I just continue taking the chastising, or should I stick up for myself?

    1. Purple Jello*

      Was this part of your training, and are you supposed to be the quality check before design? Then someone should provide you with a checklist. Sounds like officially the designer is the QC, but the builder expects you to do it. If this is informally something you should be doing, maybe this builder can give you a list of things to check for.

      1. Chipper*

        I am checking the quality ahead of the teapot going back to design, but I’m not the last word– that’s design. I don’t think a checklist is possible– there are just too many possible things that you just sort of learn to look for over time. The builder is never upset if I ask him to fix things that I notice before sending back to design– it’s only after design has pointed something out that he gets upset.

          1. Chipper*

            He says I’m wasting design’s and the company’s time when design has to do more than just say “Yep, looks good”. When they have to point out something is wrong to me, that is apparently wasting their time.

            Design and my managers have never told me this is a waste of anyone’s time.

        1. Artemesia*

          There is always a check list possible when the issue is quality control; they are just too lazy to provide it.

          1. Judy*

            If it’s a real physical thing, then there should be drawings to compare, and GD&T markers for critical measurements, etc.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          You can create your own check list. Keep a list of things design has caught and never let those things go through again.

          And, you can go talk to design maybe? Ask them what the common errors are that they find. Write down their Frequently Occuring Errors, get the common stuff nailed down and under control.

          I am not sure if you have a tangible product or if it’s something more loosely constructed, such as programming. If you do have a tangible product, then ask design to give you an example of a perfect teapot. Keep it next to your work area. Compare each new teapot to it.

          1. catsAreCool*

            I agree – make your own checklists. Also, you might want to e-mail it to the builder saying something like “This is my checklist; if you notice anything I should add or change, please let me know.”

    2. Sadsack*

      Of course you should stick up for yourself. I think you can explain yourself in a professional way so a reasonable person would understand where you are coming from.

      Or you could just tell the guy to quit sending you shitty build jobs.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Actually, I think sometimes it is important to stand up for yourself, or at least to not assume that the person scolding you is right.

        I agree, I think he’s offloading his frustration at himself on you.

        I’ve started saying, “I’ll look into how my team can help with this, but I’d like to see some effort on the front end for getting it right in the first place.”

        So the next time he says something, just ask him, mildly, “Have you looked into preventing this in the first place? That’s much more powerful than relying on the finishing team to catch your mistakes. We don’t always see them, and your errors are not our primary focus.”

    3. Nobody*

      Sounds like the builder is the one who should take more time and be more careful, rather than relying on you to catch his mistakes! I’m guessing that if you find a problem, he doesn’t get in trouble, but if design finds the problem, he does? Because otherwise, it shouldn’t make a difference to him whether it’s you or design who catches it.

    4. Artemesia*

      Have you asked the asshat builder to supply a list of building standards you should apply when finishing the teapot? Have you asked why the items are not being inspected before leaving the building area since the builders are in the best position to know the quality control standards?

      I’d be doing a bit of pushing back here. If I need to be doing quality control for the building operation then the quality standards need to be provided. And WHY is it necessary to do quality control after the teapots leave building? Is there no quality control expert reviewing them before they are sent forward to design?

      1. TootsNYC*

        I wouldn’t ask for standards for HIS build. You have enough to do with getting the finishing parts right. Any build problems you catch are EXTRAS that he ought to be grateful for.

        Maybe say that: “When we catch things before the Design guys, we’re doing you a favor–catching your mistakes is an extra we’re sometimes able to help with. It’s not our primary responsibility; it’s YOUR primary responsibility to get the right, and Design’s primary responsibility to catch them. We’re just occasionally helpful because we’re on the same team. Would you like us to quit bringing these to your attention at all? We could do that–just pass the problems on to Design instead of to you.”

      2. Chipper*

        Teapots don’t leave the building before quality control is done. It’s all in house. Client approves initial teapot design, Design gives designs to builders, builders build, finishers finish, designers give final approval in-house, then the client gets final say before teapots leave the building. There are many checks and balances along the way. I understand that this builder wants me to get better at my job and catch this stuff, but I maintain that I do not yet have enough experience to catch everything that’s wrong, even if I’m checking against Design’s initial design. It’s sort of like if I compare the teapot against the design and think it looks good, then send it to Design and design says, “Oh, actually, if you turn this teapot at a 25-degree angle, the color of the handle turns a slightly different shade of blue. Can you have build fix that?” Okay, in the future I know to turn the teapot to a 25-degree angle, but I had no idea that was even a thing prior to this moment.

  22. petpet*

    Someone wants to hire me!!!!

    They can’t just yet, because they’re working out next year’s budget. So I don’t have an offer and I might never get one. But maybe I will get one!

    Just the fact that they said I’m their top choice and they’d like to hire me has been incredibly validating, since I’ve been looking for a better job (I’m underemployed) for two years with no luck. Fingers crossed for it coming through.

  23. Purple Jello*

    Does anyone have a quick tool for tracking time on tasks? I don’t need anything formal; I just want to get a general handle on how much time I spend on different work responsibilities. I’d love some type of “click here” app or excel file or something.

    1. Wilde*

      We use Toggl. Has a nominal fee, but I think there’s an app where you press start and end for specific categories of tasks.

    2. Tau*

      I made myself a really basic excel spreadsheet – I put in start/end times, it auto-calculates the time spent. Probably took something like fifteen minutes, and I am not an Excel expert in any way, shape or form. (Although I’m still working on fully automating it summing up the total time spent on each project I worked on that day.)

      That said, since I have to remember to check the clock, click over and enter the times each time I switch tasks, this would probably be too much hassle if I didn’t generally work in several-hour chunks.

      1. Allison Mary*

        Sounds like you might want the SUMIF or SUMIFS function? To get it to automatically sum up the total time spent on each project. Perhaps with the “data” in one tab, and sort of a “summary table” on another tab?

        1. Tau*

          The thing I’m struggling with is it figuring out what the projects I worked on are, i.e. grabbing the *distinct* entries from column A and copying them into column B. Once I’ve got that, yep, SUMIF to grab the total time for each project. I’ve googled and the ways I saw for implementing this were relatively complicated and so I haven’t gotten round to implementing it yet.

    3. MsChandandlerBong*

      I just use Google’s stopwatch. Type “stopwatch” into the search bar, and it will bring up the timer. Click start when you start working on something, and click stop when you finish.

    4. Kyrielle*

      There are a number of phone apps for tracking that oto if you want to go that route. The one I have is free (HoursKeeper I think?) but only tracks two categories in free mode (which is exactly what I needed it to track).

      On the other hand, at my old job I used to just note start/stop times in a notepad file and then work it out for the day at the end. (We had to bill appropriately within 6-minute increments, and I had a lot of interrupts and task-switches per day.)

  24. InterviewHell*

    Resigned and boss wants me gone before notice period ends

    On Wednesday afternoon, I followed my employer’s policy and contacted HR about presenting a formal letter with my two weeks’ notice. The HR woman kept saying “Wow, . . . um. . .I’m sorry to hear that” and insisted that I speak with my boss, the CEO, before sending her any information.

    The CEO was in an intense meeting during this time, so when his meeting ended I asked for a minute. I explained that I had accepted a position closer to home and was putting in my notice. He asked me where I was going and what I would be doing, but I declined to provide specifics. After that, he went to the other side of his office, checked his email, and started rattling off a list of questions/things to do for me, including “Make a list, you’re good at that.” I assured him I would do that and left.

    At 6:55 a.m. Thursday, he sent an email indicating I would no longer be representing the company on social media, in meetings, and so forth, and asked to set up a 15-minute transition plan meeting. I responded by thanking him for scheduling the meeting and asked if we could meet at 1 p.m. I entered his office and took a seat at the designated time, then he asked me if I really needed to be in the office during my notice period. He followed this up by asking how quickly I could clean up the office and finish the file transfers and remaining bits of my projects.

    This precipitated his request that I finish what needed done ASAP, and he would pay me through the notice period. I accepted the offer with as much grace as I could muster and am planning to have my exit interview with HR at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

    What is everyone’s take on this? It’s the first time I’ve been ushered out prior to my full notice period.

    Thanks!

    1. lulu*

      Since you didn’t share where you’re going, he might be afraid that you’re going to a competitor and that you might have a conflict of interest to continue working for them in the meantime. Is this how they have handled resignations in the past? At least they’re paying you through the end of the period, so there’s a silver lining.

      1. Random Lurker*

        This. If someone doesn’t share where they are going, I walk them out. Sometimes it seems silly – if you were going to a competitor and wanted to take something with you, you’d have already done it. But, some fields and industries are very sensitive. If you are no longer a trusted entity, you aren’t worth the risk.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Also–social media and representing the company to outsiders is something that can be pretty touchy; you can do damage then that you might not have been willing to do even 1 day before you gave notice.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I’m assuming this is what motivated him.

        There has to be a reason you aren’t willing to tell him where you’re going, and it’s not unreasonable for him to assume that it’s because you’re going to a competitor or something.

        If you said, “I don’t want to reveal it because the company hasn’t told the internal candidates what’s happening yet,” or some other reason, maybe he wouldn’t have assumed the worst.

        But you’ve quit, so it’s all about the wrap up and what they need now. I’m sure it feels harsh, but try not to take it too personally. You aren’t anymore a part of the company, and the CEO especially needs to put the company first, before your feelings.

    2. Jules the First*

      It’s a good thing!

      You have a fabulous new job and OldJob is giving you a few days of paid vacation before you start!

      It is more a reflection on your Old Boss’s attitude than your work – and if they fail and flounder in your absence, that’s their problem. You did everything right by offering 2 weeks notice and prepping them for the handover as they asked you to.

      Enjoy your extra holiday guilt-free!

      1. InterviewHell*

        Jules the First:

        Thank you for your very positive outlook on the entire situation!

        Your comment brought a much-needed smile to my face, and brightened my spirits. Thanks!

    3. Graciosa*

      Lucky you!

      This is the best of all possible worlds since they are paying you for the notice time – it’s like getting a paid vacation between jobs.

      [If you’re asking why they did it, it’s not unusual for some people with sensitive positions, and representing the company on social media could easily be something they want to transition as soon as possible.]

      But my overall take is just – well – enjoy!

    4. AnotherFed*

      That’s totally normal in my industry – they’d want all of your access turned over/closed out ASAP.

    5. NacSacJack*

      I had a friend who when he did announce he was going to the competition was immediately terminated that day and was NOT paid through his notice period. He went three weeks without pay (moving after notice period) and another two weeks before he received his first paycheck from the new company. My company will walk people out when laid off and pay them through their 60 days. The catch is, if you accept a job during the 60 days notice or while they pay severance, you’re considered to have resigned immediately and thus pay and severance pay end.

    6. justsomeone*

      This is SOP at my company. Notice is usually accepted and executed same day. At Corporate you can usually swing a day or three to wrap up projects and transition them away, but only if you can make the case for it.

    7. BRR*

      He might have taken it a little personally or it might be because you declined to say where you’re going (or something else). I would just take the pay, treat it as if you worked the notice period, and let it go mostly just for your own sanity.

      1. InterviewHell*

        BRR:

        You have a point that he took it personally because his body language and tone changed immediately following my soft-spoken statement that I was “going to a small nonprofit to do what I am doing here.” He went from being just two feet from me to briskly striding to the other side of his office and beginning his barrage of questions and random statements (clean your office, pull the files, email your contacts, etc.).

        Considering how cool he usually is, the change in attitude and body language really surprised me. It’s actually the part of our initial conversation about my departure that I keep replaying. I somehow can’t really understand the split-second switch in demeanor.

        At any rate, I have handed in my notice and am spending the weekend pulling together files to be shared with the busy staff member serving as my fill-in. Can’t wait until 2:30 p.m. Monday when the exit interview will be completed, and I can move on from this place!

    8. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      In my experience with customer facing positions, including social media, this is typical. If you are in a position to speak with clients and customers, you’ll be asked to vacate and get paid for the time.

      I wouldn’t read too much into it.

    9. Jen*

      Don’t worry about it. Take your 2 weeks pay, enjoy the break, and good luck in the new role. They don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing so they are probably playing it safe. It happens a lot.

    10. Allison Mary*

      I know I’m paranoid, but I would be sending the boss an email that went like this:

      “Just wanted to confirm my understanding of our conversation in your office earlier – you indicated that you’d like me to finish up everything that needs to be done ASAP and be out of the office before the end of my notice period, and you also indicated that in exchange I will get paid for the full notice period. The tasks I will be aiming to accomplish in this time are, X, Y, Z, bla, bla, etc. If my understanding somehow got off track, and the above doesn’t fit with your expectations, please let me know ASAP. Thanks!”

  25. Master Bean Counter*

    I got off the crazy train!!!
    It’s been two weeks at my new job and it’s such a difference. I’m being trained at a reasonable pace. My coworkers are nice. My boss is reasonable. And best of all I even got to use two PTO days already for a vacation I had planned prior to accepting this job.
    I love the work, it plays to my strengths. And I don’t feel like I could be fired on a whim.

    Now to just make sure the dysfunction and my coping with it at my last job stays behind me now.

  26. Tris Prior*

    It’s the last day at my job! And I do believe my field of f*cks is officially barren. :D

    I feel SO bad for the co-workers I am leaving behind, though. We’re so short staffed as it is and there’s so much involved in closing a business. I know it’s not my problem but I still feel some guilt. :/

  27. So Very Anonymous*

    My Skype interview yesterday went very well, and, happily, my teenage-angst zit had faded in plenty of time. Thanks for the good thoughts! Fingers are crossed that I’ll make the second-round interview. I’ve been doing a lot of really creative collaborative work for the last couple of years, especially this last year (and it had been a year since my last interview — jobs in what I want to do are few and far between), and this job would be a switch to doing more of that kind of work, in a location that’s closer to friends and family. Should hear something in a month. Which is fine, because in a month I’ll be past the worst part of the semester… which is right now (sigh).

  28. Teapot Coordinator*

    Y’all…I need some encouragement/discouragement/sensibility here….
    I’m in the final interview stages for a Teapot Coordinator position. I currently work as a Teapot Coordinator, Estimator and Teapot Bookkeeper.
    The new position would be the same salary, but 32 hours a week instead of my current 40(The things I could do with an extra 8 hours a week of free time!!!) and three weeks vacation instead of the two I have now.
    The new position would also be a lot less stress, since bookkeeping and essentially running the cash end of a business is so. darn. stressful. to me and the new position would be only Teapot Coordination.
    But…I feel bad at the thought of leaving my current company. Not because I love the company, I don’t, they’re chaotic and lack structure, but because they’re busy and it’s a very small company.
    The new company, they sound amazing. They’re in a similar industry and the teapots they produce are FUN. I think it could be a great position!
    What do I do? Forget the guilt and do what’s best for me? Because…part time work at the exact same salary I make working full time just sounds amazing…

    1. LotusEclair1984*

      Forget the guilt, relish those 8 extra hours to yourself and the less stressful environment. You deserve it!

    2. Purple Jello*

      If you get the new job offer, give sufficient notice at old job, leave a good job manual and allow short term but minor assistance via your choice of communication method (email to be answered after hours?) for things you left out of your manual.

      Good luck!

    3. So Very Anonymous*

      Well, you could think of this way: if you pass on this job and stay at your current job, how are you going to feel? How long is the feeling of “I did the right thing by Company A by not switching to Company B” going to carry you through what sounds like a stressful job? What are the odds of you finding yourself regretting not accepting Company B just out of a sense of loyalty? If you do feel guilty about Company A, is it going to poison your experience of Company B?

      I’d say take the new job. Feel guilty for a bit if you need to, but my hunch is that the guilt will pass and you’ll find yourself in a good position for you.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Forget the guilt. If your old company wanted to hire more people, be better organized and be a better place to work it could choose to do that, and it isn’t.

    5. T3k*

      Wow, this sounds like something I could possibly write in the future (small company, chaotic, etc). I say forget the guilt and do what’s best for you. There’s never a good time to leave a company, and it’s on them to figure out how to get themselves structured to keep people, not you. But as Jello said, make sure to leave a manual on how to do certain tasks, to help whoever takes over your position.

    6. Nobody*

      Congratulations! Forget the guilt and do what’s best for you. Your company will manage without you because people move on and they just have to deal with it. It’s not personal; it’s business. There’s no reason to feel guilty.

    7. TootsNYC*

      Also think of this:

      If you leave for a better position, it might be the impetus someone needs to make things better at Company A. Managers might say, “wow, we need to make this job less demanding”; colleagues might say, “Hey, *I* could go get a new job!”

      Patching over dysfunction (which is what you’d be doing) is not Good for the World. The truth is Good for the World. Be the truth. Go to the new job.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      It’s business. It’s not personal. DO NOT let your feelings make you turn down this opportunity! They got along before you were there; they will get along after you leave.

      Congratulations–I’m jealous. I would love to work less hours for the same money and more vacation!

    9. themmases*

      Definitely forget the guilt. Trying to hire and retain people is one way organizations find problems and maybe even improve. If they have trouble replacing you or holding onto the replacement, that is really on them. Particularly in small organizations, leadership is prepared for people to move on after a while unless they turn into lifers.

      Good luck with the potential new job!

    10. Teapot Coordinator*

      Thank you all!!!
      It’s so good to hear so much encouragement! Sometimes you get so up in your head that you try to talk yourself out of something that could be really great.

  29. Mike C.*

    OMG someone just scheduled 3 one hour meetings at different times of the day in a completely different building than where I am at three different times of the day.

    With no f****** agenda

  30. Enid*

    (Please don’t republish this anywhere.) I’m a contractor doing program management support at a government agency. The office I support needs to come up with some data, basically a cost projection for a new effort, and they decided the best way to do that was to look at what they had spent on similar past efforts. And they decided the best way to do that would be for my coworker and I to go through hundreds of old cost documents and catalog ALL those costs into a giant spreadsheet, which the office would then use to go through and figure out which costs were similar to this new effort, and then assume the new effort will cost about the same.

    The old documents (which were never intended to be used for this, and were not written with the thought that someone in the future might look at them and try to understand them) were maddeningly confusing and very incomplete, but my coworker and I did the best we could. I gently expressed several times my concerns that our end result would be inadequate, but was told it’d be fine and we were on the right track. (Also, I’m pretty positive there were a lot of mistakes in the ones my coworker did, but I couldn’t find any practical or political way to correct her work beyond the few errors I came across directly. This was after we’d already each gone through our share of the files twice.) After two weeks of this hellish task, we handed in the damn spreadsheet and the problem was in their court to deal with.

    Except now there’s been a meeting scheduled next week for this task, with my coworker and I included. I strongly suspect that what’s going to happen at this meeting, two weeks after we handed in the spreadsheet, is that the government folks will be looking at the spreadsheet for the very first time, expecting it to be totally complete and clear and usable, and it will gradually dawn on them how inadequate the data actually is, and the implicit aura will be that my coworker and I have failed by not coming up with the spreadsheet they wanted even though we never had the data to do that (and even though they should have looked at the file and seen the problems before we were all sitting in this meeting). I just don’t know how I’m going to cope with that meeting besides acting apologetic and feeling embarrassed. Embarrassed both for myself and my team, and for the government people who thought this was going to work and will have to admit it didn’t. I’m dreading it like hell.

    1. fposte*

      Did you do any kind of official followup with whoever gave you that task, so that you’re on the record as noting the source material means your product couldn’t be robust? If so, I think you approach the meeting with calm certainty and willingness to collaborate on solutions. No defensiveness, because it’s obvious it’s not your fault and you’ve been a good sport about spending time with the spreadsheets in hope the result would be viable. And that’s the approach to take if you’re blamed–mild surprise that somebody missed the fact that the source material wasn’t sufficient, when that was clearly communicated.

    2. Journal Entries*

      I’ve had to do something like that before, but for the new CFO of our company. I put the data together as well as I could and just explained that no, the original records never specified the number of items per box, sheets per case, or pounds per container. I didn’t feel bad because I was merely relaying the data that was available, and the CFO didn’t blame me at all but did suggest changes to be made for future orders.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I hope this data is not more than a few years old. With the way prices have jumped, anything from more than a few years ago is pretty useless.

    4. themmases*

      I can totally relate to the feeling when data you collected or compiled is really not the best. Even though you are only responsible for the completeness and format, not the content, it’s your work! It’s hard to turn in something that you know sucks, even if it’s a “garbage in, garbage out” situation or you warned that the idea wasn’t a good one.

      Never apologize for crappy data unless you were actually the person filling out the primary source documents or the one entering them wrong. That gets dangerously close to being willing to apologize if the data just don’t show what people want! If this were me, I’d take the position that since I read all these forms and made the spreadsheet, I know the data best and the finding of this project is that the old cost data isn’t adequate. Make some notes for yourself about why you made the choices you did on the spreadsheet (e.g. we combined these two cost categories because they are conceptually similar and the data for both was pretty incomplete), trends you noticed in the documents you went through, and go in with the attitude that you know the most about this project and the information available– not that you did anything wrong. It’s the truth.

    5. Ghost Umbrella*

      Don’t apologize for the customer’s data, or for their inadequate record-keeping. You’re a contractor, not a miracle worker. Make sure your corporate management is aware of the situation, so they’re not blindsided if the government tries to spin it as poor performance, and so they can have your back.

    6. mander*

      Sounds a bit like my DH’s old job, or at least one of the tasks he did for them. They couldn’t seem to understand why replacing roofs in 2014 was so much more expensive than it was in 1994, nor why he couldn’t give them detailed answers about things they never recorded in the first place.

  31. Random Lurker*

    My problem employee just resigned! After 3 years of assorted HR issues, constant blow ups, saber rattling, and a trigger shy HR department that always believed in “just one more chance”, my nightmare is over.

    While I am celebrating the stress that has left my life, I can honestly say that dealing with such a jerk employee has undoubtedly made me a stronger manager. So, for that, I’m grateful.

    1. EmilyG*

      Congrats! I also found that dealing with someone like that was a managerial education like no other. I hope you can rest on your laurels for a while after this, though.

    2. WanderingAnon*

      I feel your pain! It does definitely make you a stronger manager, but it is so good to have that source of stress on to bigger and better things. :)

  32. Minion*

    How do you deal with knowing that you can’t change certain things in your org that need changing? I guess this is more vent than asking for advice. I’m so frustrated! Our ED said she was leaving, then apparently changed her mind because she’s still here and no more has been said about her leaving. My predecessor is still here and looking over my shoulder telling me how to handle things in MY department. I went to the ED, who’s my direct manager, and told her how frustrating that was for me and how I felt I was being micromanaged by the predecessor (who is not, in any way. Her response? “I understand, I’m the ED and I feel like she micromanages and undermines me!” I was speechless.
    The ED is a shotgun approach type person, we get mass emails scolding us for something that should have been taken up with a specific person. She plays favorites with certain people and going to her about them is of absolutely no use because she will blow it off.
    Going to the board is also useless because the chairman has a “I’ve got your back” attitude toward the ED and my predecessor and will not entertain any complaints about either of them.
    So, yeah…I’m venting a little. I know my options are to deal with it or find another job. I really love the work I do and I believe in the mission of the org and I love most of the people I work with. I’m just incredibly frustrated with the board, the ED and my predecessor. So, the vent (whining session) is over now. Sorry for that.

    1. Minion*

      Who is not, in any way, my supervisor is what I meant to put in that weird sentence that doesn’t make any sense. Haha. Got interrupted and just missed that when I came back.

    2. NJ Anon*

      We are going through a little bit of that too. Our ED lets big stuff fall through the cracks and micromanages little stuff. He is totally overwhelmed. In my experience, boards won’t do anything unless money or and extreme issue like a harassment claim are an issue.

    3. CMT*

      I’d be curious what people have to say about your question. I once got a very similar question in a job interview and I’m not sure I answered it very well. The question was about how I have handled/would handle working in a government position where change can happen slowly and there’s a lot of bureaucracy. Not quite the same scenario, but I bet some of the same strategies would apply.

  33. Friday*

    I’m a manager in my office with two direct reports. One of the reports, Hermione, started a couple of months ago and she does solid work. Hermione also reports to another manager in the office who I will call Luna. Luna constantly complains about the quality of Hermione’s work but most of her complaints are absolutely ridiculous. For example, Luna complained that Hermione didn’t paper clip documents together. I wish I were kidding. I’ve addressed these issues with Hermione to get Luna off of my back. but now I’m beginning to think that Luna has a personal grudge against my report because she’s constantly emailing me with issues.

    The weird part is that Luna never broaches these issues with Hermione herself. In fact, she’s overly nice to her. She’ll send Hermione emails stating that she’s doing a fantastic job. This puts me in a difficult position because it seems like I’m making these issues up. How can I broach Luna to see what’s going on?

    1. lulu*

      Frankly you shouldn’t pass along complains that you think are ridiculous. When that happens you should point out to Luna that it doesn’t matter if the documents are paper clipped together. If she has valid concerns, then ask her if she has brought it up to Hermione herself, and if not to try that first. Now you have trained her to use you as a tool against her coworker, and it’s not your job as a manager. At this point you need to sit down Luna, either the next time she complains, or as a separate conversation, and put a stop to it.

      1. lulu*

        Sorry I just realized that Luna is not one of your direct reports, but another manager. My bad for reading too fast. That doesn’t change the fact that you should push back on ridiculous complains, or ask her why she cannot handle them directly with Hermione since she reports to her as well.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I agree–I don’t think you should just pass Luna’s complaints on to Hermione unless you personally agree with them.

        And I think you should start being honest to Luna: “Do you really think that’s a serious complaint? Why don’t you just ask Hermione to use paperclips on those?” Or “I understand why she didn’t paperclip things; that sounds a little unreasonable to me.” Mildly, of course.

        But otherwise, you’re just going over there and jabbing Hermione on Luna’s behalf.

        If these bother Luna enough, she should say something. To Hermione.

        And poor Hermione! To be given criticisms by someone who doesn’t even think they’re valid?

    2. fposte*

      Why is it your job to do Luna’s management for her? If Luna has issues with Hermione, she should bring them up with Hermione. I’d tell her that next time she bitches to you.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      Take yourself out of it. Ask her to address her issues directly with Hermione. She’s using you to create pointless drama. Don’t feed the drama llama.

    4. Dawn*

      Just sit down and talk to her. Ask her what’s up, tell her that you’ve seen enough frivolous complaints to wonder what’s going on, emphasise that you’d like to keep Hermione around so you have a vested interest in making sure she’s happy.

      Also please please PLEASE do not continue to address Luna’s weird requests to Hermione. Tell Luna that if she wants things done differently to tell Hermione herself.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Tell Luna that you will not be telling Hermione to paper clip docs together. Seriously, push back, say no. She keeps coming to you because you keep following up. If Hermione also reports to Luna then Luna can put on her boss shoes and tell Hermione herself.

      Be aware it’s a possibility that Luna has issues with YOU and her way of dealing is to take it out on your subordinate.

      Also start looking for patterns, does she talk nicely to other people and stab them the minute their back is turned?

  34. Jennifer*

    So the new fad is that our high overlord wants us to spend the last three days of the month offering suggestions as to how to improve the overall organization, and the last day is supposed to be dedicated to everyone giving suggestions to improving our work in particular.

    This would sound great except that our queen that rules our world does not like suggestions from others and does not take or do them unless it’s her idea. Like for example, we are forbidden from having chairs in our lobby because she has decided we don’t have room for them (yes, we do). We get complaints from pregnant and elderly asking for a chair and we literally cannot provide one for them. She won’t even take that level of suggestion. We all know that if you have suggestions for improvement, keep your damn mouth shut.

    So when the queen announced this special day, there was absolute dead silence at the staff meeting for several minutes. NO response until one person fudged that “well, you just sprung this on us with no warning” (the high overlord has been sending announcements of this for several weeks, though) and one other one fudged that it sounded like a good idea. The queen was all “uh, I guess I’ll just e-mail people then.” So far she has not. I am hoping that she’ll just not bother with this because it’s going to be a waste of everyone’s time and we all know we’d better not say anything, but I suspect that since the overlord said, we’ll have to. Maybe I’ll just fake sick that day because I don’t think I can take the hypocrisy, or getting in trouble for anything I suggest.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Or make trivial bullshit suggestions, like “I suggest we rename ourselves the Department of Teapot Design instead of Teapot Design Department!”, so she can reject them, or even accept them just to look like she’s doing as the high overlord commanded. It’s like keeping yourself safe by agreeing with your abuser verbally until you have a chance to GTFO safely.

      1. Jennifer*

        Heh heh, good point, except I have no way in hell of getting out safely. I do think our office’s Department of Teapot Design name is a bit mouthy compared to it being Teapot Design…

        The other day my mom was complaining about her Queen Bee bitching her out for not interrupting her while she was gossiping to the bosses and a customer came in, and I said “look, you would have gotten in trouble if you interrupted her, and you would have gotten in trouble if you didn’t interrupt her. Either way, you’re gonna get in trouble and all you can do is accept that.”

  35. Mocha*

    (Not a question, just a small yay after a very stressful month)

    The week after I started working at my first job out of college three months ago, the person who was supposed to be training me gave notice, and I ended up taking over pretty much all of her projects after three weeks of training, which she had been gradually accumulating/learning how to handle over the course of the year and a half she had been at the company. Pretty much from the start, I was overwhelmed, under-trained, working at least 50-hour weeks, and letting small things slip through the cracks. About two months later, at the beginning of January, my manager sat me down for a things-are-not-going-well meeting. Though a lot of her criticism was totally valid, she also made several (in my opinion) uncalled-for comments, including that she was interviewing candidates who could “run circles around me” and she didn’t get the feeling that I “even wanted to try to marginally improve.” (I DID want to! I was trying SO so hard!) I somehow made it through the rest of the day and then cried all the way home. The next day, I pulled myself together, wrote up my own performance-improvement-plan, and sat down with her to go over it. She was mostly unenthusiastic, and said she hoped I could prove her wrong and turn things around.

    Fast forward to yesterday, which was my 90-day review. My manager said she was amazed by my improvement and actually gave me a raise. I’ve been working so hard for the last month, with very little feedback of any kind, so I was not expecting this at all–I thought my manager was saving up all of her criticism so that she could unload it all in my review and then let me go. I still feel a little bit imposter-syndrome-y about the whole thing, but I’m so glad I’m (presumably) not going to be fired! At least, not right now.

    (We still haven’t hired any of the candidates who could “run circles around me,” though I wish we would because we’re still pretty understaffed!)

    1. Journal Entries*

      Ditto! Our entire executive team took today off (unplanned, no notice) so I’m here supervising the whole building.

      1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

        Joys of reception work – answering phones for an empty office.

        4:15 on a Friday, literally everyone has left to go drink, go home, etc. (Last Fri, obvs, not today… Or at least not yet, today.) My chin’s resting on my folded hands atop the windowsill, staring out at the first beautiful weather we’ve had in forever, watching the last car leave..
        I guess I’ll hang out here, direct phone calls to no one but voicemails, and distribute the mail that comes after 4 pm to empty offices : )
        I feel terribly necessary and unnecessary at the same time.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’m sitting here bored knowing that I will get something 30 minutes before I have to leave. It’s really nice out, too. But I don’t dare ask if anyone is sending anything my way for fear that they actually will!

        1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

          And same here. I was just handed a massive project that I will not be finishing today.

  36. Wow....Just Wow*

    Anyone here in Project Management? If so, what are the necessary skills to have to succeed? Would you recommend getting certified? What’s the best way to look for jobs in this field?

    A little bit about me: I’ve been working in marketing/communications for almost a decade. I’m highly organized, budget-conscious, and very detail-oriented. I took the Project Management Professional course through my former workplace about five years ago, but didn’t pass the exam on the first try (they only pay for you to take it once). In current and past roles, I’ve been in charge of several projects at any given time, ranging from complexity. I think PM would be a good fit for my skills set, but I’m just not sure.

    1. Dawn*

      Sounds like you’ve already got the skill set! Look at jobs you’d be interested in and see if they require you to be certified- some companies put a ton of emphasis on that, some don’t.

      Re-word your resume to emphasise your PM skillset and all of the PM and PM-like projects you’ve ever been on. Refer to the PMI language when re-writing to be sure you’re using common terms in the industry. Apply for PM jobs that catch your eye!

    2. Witty Nickname*

      I’m a marketing pm. In addition to being highly organized, budget-conscious, and detail-oriented, you also need to be able to take a marketing plan and see quickly where the gaps and risks are, identify the deliverables (and tasks that need to be done to achieve them), guide your teams through the unpopular parts of the process (like reviewing plans with stakeholders who may want to change them or reviewing things with legal), herd cats (who may be working on multiple projects with competing deadlines), coordinate with other departments to align their deliverables with yours (for example, when I manage a product launch, I have to coordinate with the PM for the team that is building the product, the PM for the team that will fulfill the product, as well as manage the marketing and sales training project so we are aligned on launch dates, features, etc). Being a miracle worker and/or having the ability to do magic are huge bonuses.

      Whether or not having your certification will benefit you varies from company to company. I have mine (my company paid for it), but the person we hired last summer does not. My old boss preferred someone who was certified, but was willing to hire someone who wasn’t if they had the other qualifications we were looking for. The new hire has several years of experience in our industry and as a PM and came highly recommended from another PM in our company, so that outweighed the fact that she didn’t have the certification yet. A lot of job listings I see want candidates who are knowledgeable in the PMI knowledge areas, process groups, etc. Having gone through the training will benefit you in those cases.

      Some roles will also want experience in Photoshop or other design tools, Agile PM experience, and other technical experience, so if you have the opportunity to gain knowledge in those areas (if you don’t already have it), that could be an advantage too. I’m currently looking into ways to increase my skills in some of these areas.

      I LOVE project management. When I was first approached to move into this role, I declined because I didn’t think it sounded like a good fit for me. A few years later, a former manager, who was the best manager I’ve ever had, approached me again. My first thought was that it sounded really boring, but I really wanted to work for that manager again, it was a promotion, and I was ready for a new role. And I discovered that project management is what I was actually meant to do. I realized that I project manage pretty much every area of my life, so it was just a natural move to do it for work.

    3. mkb*

      I’ve worked in project management for 8 years and never been certified. Since you have a marketing background have you considered going into market research? It is my current industry and we employ tons of project managers. There are companies all over the US but the market research hubs seem to be Norwalk CT, Cincinnati, OH and NY, NY.

      Skills necessary to succeed: time management, detail-oriented and solid communication as you tend to work with multiple departments or vendors

  37. ASJ*

    What is a hard-earned lesson you’ve had over your professional life?

    For me, I’ve had a couple. Number 1: in my first office job, I didn’t know any better so I’d start getting ready to leave around 4:26 or so every day. By the time it was 4:30 I was gone. A coworker mentioned it to me one day and kindly let me know that people definitely notice things like that – so I should really be waiting until 4:30 to leave. Not a good moment.

    Second one: learning that you’re ALWAYS BEING WATCHED. Along with that, being careful about what you say/do to everyone because you just never know. I got bit at one temp position because of that (although to be honest, the place was extremely toxic and I called it the bullshit that it was – unfortunately, I was crushed when I didn’t get the job permanently because I was in so deep I couldn’t see it for the blessing it was at the time…) and honestly it’s a lesson I’m still struggling to learn.

    1. Dawn*

      Always re-read your emails before you send them. Always open the attachments on your emails to make sure they’re the right one before you send them. Never print out anything other than work documents on the printer. DO NOT MISTAKE CASUAL BEHAVIOR FROM CO-WORKERS AS AN EXCUSE TO BE LESS THAN PROFESSIONAL AT ALL TIMES (Oh my god how that bit me in the butt so many times). Do not grumble about things to your boss- if you have a problem, express it clearly and with facts. KEEP A WORK DIARY- it’s invaluable when you’re putting your resume together and talking about your work performance in job interviews. You’re absolutely going to be judged on appearance so dress well, take showers, get your hair cut, etc. Don’t rush around in a tizzy all the time to “prove” that you’re “just so busy omg!!” Do not talk like a 15-year-old with your colleagues and make an effort to strike the word “like” out of your vocabulary.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        Was just reading the news about the “Hurt Feelings Form” (which was honestly pretty funny) that was accidentally sent to parents as an attachment! Definitely always review your attachments.

      2. I'm Not Phyllis*

        Interesting – what do you put in your work diary? Is it specific tasks or skills? Or do you add other information in there?

        1. Hazel Asperg*

          I have a work diary where I keep notes on things I achieved that day, and use it for ‘to do’ tasks (usually for Mondays, because I will have forgotten everything from the previous week!) I can then read back and look at patterns of what I’ve finished, what kinds of things I could stand to develop or work on, how I’m feeling about various tasks, etc.

      3. catsAreCool*

        Also, don’t reply to all unless you really meant to. Sometimes it’s really easy to accidentally reply to everyone.

        And try to write your e-mails so that no matter who they get forwarded to, it will be OK. For example, if you’re trying to describe an issue with a customer, if you stick to “just the facts” without editorializing, even if the e-mail somehow gets forwarded to the customer, it might not be too bad. Then again, this might be better communicated in person or by phone.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Or: Other people’s priorities are as important to them as my priorities are to me.

        Be transparent.

        Just my opinion, but I think working in government and in education is way harder than working in business, in terms of friendliness/got your back stuff.

    2. CryloRen*

      “Impression management” was a key one for me. I had one coworker (senior to me, but not my official boss) pull me aside one day and tell me that the CEO of the company thought I “smiled too much”, and she warned me that it was hurting my professional image. Of course, a month later, the CEO told me in front of a room of other execs that I was much too serious; could I lighten up a bit?

      I’m pretty sure the CEO was just a jerk, since I’d never gotten those comments before or since, and it was the kind of company that policed the nail polish colors that women wore. But it’s still something I think about and am pretty self-conscious about 3 years and a new job later.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      There is a saying I have found to be helpful, and I will wildly misquote it here. It goes something like, just because something looks like it is good, does not mean it is good. Conversely, just because something looks like it will be bad, does not mean it is bad.

      I have seen bad ideas fall into place an run well. I have seen the wheels totally fall off of good ideas and the good idea gets abandoned. Sometimes a policy gets put into place and the first thing I think is “Oh, I am screwed” then it turns out to be a non-issue. Then I get totally blindsided by something I was not paying attention to. ugh.

      In short, I needed to learn to tell myself, frequently, “wait and see”.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s mine too. Wait and see—don’t freak out right out of the gate, because it might not be as bad as it looks.
        I do hate being cautious for good reason, though, and then everyone thinking you’re Eeyore. So I would add, keep it to yourself while you are waiting to see what plays out.

    4. nep*

      Not necessarily hard-earned, but — always be absolutely OK with saying ‘I don’t know’ and offering to help a person find the information or find a colleague who knows better. It’s a sign of intelligence and resourcefulness. No one can know everything.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Yes! One very frustrating thing is to ask a question of someone who doesn’t know the answer but is attempting to bluff through it. Just tell me you don’t know or give me some suggestions and tell me they might work. If you know who is likely to know the answer, tell me. This isn’t a quiz – I’m just trying to get work done.

    5. nep*

      Also — and this counts in life in general, not just at work — Look out for yourself, know your worth, and be the one who goes to bat…Don’t count on anyone else to go to bat for you.

    6. themmases*

      Always be thinking as far ahead as you can. Pick up trendy or in-demand skills if they interest you, go for the projects that get you where you want to go, and minimize your time on stuff you don’t want to be known for or asked to do. Know what organizations or people you admire and what you would want to talk to them about if you came into contact.

      It’s OK to not know what you want the trajectory of your whole career to be, and of course to be open to opportunities you hadn’t thought of. But you can probably at least think of what you *might* like your next job to be, so you can make a point to meet people who do that or take projects that position you well. What if things took a turn at your job next week, and you wanted to start a job search quickly? Never assume that because your job is going great now, you’ll still love it next year, or that because your current job had some serendipity about it that’s how your next step will be.

      Your work might be you, but your job is not. Even people who work for a great cause are just people, and some of us suck. You don’t have to be mercenary or a faddist to look out for yourself; think of it as making sure you will always be in a position to make your mark.

    7. NicoleK*

      1. Be your own advocate.
      2. Build a network and maintain your network
      3. Only confide in people you trust explicitly
      4. maintain a positive outlook (even if you aren’t feeling it)

    8. Shell*

      Perception is reality.

      No, the perception may be wrong in that it may not be the Ultimate Truth, but people are going to react to things through the lens they perceive it as, even if the lens is dirty. So even if you get feedback is grossly wrong/not true, the fact that other people think it’s true is valuable feedback nonetheless.

      Also, don’t complain about coworkers. Ever. Complain to coworkers about outside people, maybe, but I make a point to never complain about anyone in the same company (though it helps that I think all the people I work with are hardworking, very competent people). Though I work in a very small place; not sure how well that’d work in a huge multinational.

    9. catsAreCool*

      Be nice to everyone. Be helpful when you reasonably can. (Don’t be a doormat but be a decent person.)

      Remember, people who are nice to you but rude to the waitress aren’t nice people (attribute to Dave Barry). Don’t be that kind of person.

      I say this not just because it’s the right way to behave but also because in the long run, treating other people well tends to be a good thing for you.

    10. Clever Name*

      This isn’t hard-earned, as this is something I’ve been noticing while watching others: how you present yourself matters, and it’s more than just how you dress. It’s how you convey yourself in meetings. It’s how you respond to questions. It’s even how you carry yourself. It’s the difference between someone with gravitas and someone who comes off as a doofus (an admittedly extreme example)

  38. Lia*

    So, I got a call back on the phone interview of last week (the one that stressed “culture fit” above all else).

    They had asked how much I made, and how much I was looking for. I told them 10K above my current salary. They countered with 20K BELOW it. I should point out I am under the median salary for people in my role with my years of experience, and also that the job they posted requires a master’s degree and 2-5 years of experience. No wonder it has been open since last fall.

    Bullet, dodged.

      1. Lia*

        I did manage to stifle a laugh. They really, really wanted me but I cannot take a 20K pay cut — nor do I want to.

        I should also add that nowhere on the site are there any salary guidelines, at all, and so I went into this completely blind.

        1. BRR*

          I’m not terribly surprised that the company that offered you $20K below your current salary (and $30K below your expectations) doesn’t have any salary guidelines posted.

  39. Lizketeer*

    I accepted an offer this week to return to the team that I interned with last year, and I am extremely excited about it.

    Because of how long I was gone (just over 2 months) I am being considered a new hire rather than a transfer. This is all fine and dandy, except now I have to go through all the technicalities after having already accepted. Application, background check, things like that.

    The newest step in this process is supplying professional references. The company uses a system that will email the references, they so a quick 5 minute survey, the results will be sent to the hiring manager, and then it’s done.

    They prefer 5, require 3, and I can confidently provide 4, so hopefully that’s not an issue. This internship was my first job out of college, and I had 2 during college each with a supervisor but no coworkers, so my network is pretty limited.

    I get that it’s something that they need to check off this list, but it’s kind of annoying to be doing this after I already have the job.

    1. Rex*

      Also, an email survey is a terrible way to do reference checks, but it sounds like the treat it as a formality instead of taking it seriously, anyway.

  40. Nervous Accountant*

    On another note…as awesome as that moment was yesterday, I’d say this week broke even.

    The day before, I was on the phone with a client and they said something. Instead of going into super CS mode, I just said “OK.” Not good. Worse….the QA person was listening in and she went to one of the VPs who emailed my boss who emailed me. Scary. I twas a one off mistake, not a habit, but it kicked me into doing a better job (keeping tabs closed to avoid distractions etc).

    After A LOT of help from my supervisor, thank God for his help, I was able to make a truthful and logical case for myself. Got a response from my boss, all I could say in response was I’ll be more careful etc, but he said try to understand where she’s coming from and its alright etc.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am grinning, knowingly. The question above asked about learning experiences. I had to learn to use more words. More words give context and convey tone/demeanor. And that seems pretty universal, for example in emailing, too short a response can be misconstrued.

      You’re actually on the plus side for the week. Don’t worry on things that are fixable. Just fix them and keep going, it’s okay. If that is the worst thing she can find on you, you’re doing pretty darn good.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Thanks for your reply, I always appreciate them.

        Maybe this additional context will make a difference–the client had said “I’m not sure my company is right for you” and that’s when I said. “OK.”

        Normally I would never have said that but I wasn’t even paying attention.

        Again, not a great thing to do at all!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, not an ideal response. But it sounds like you have a handle on how you want to proceed here so all is not lost. You discussed it with your boss, that makes things even more intense, but you got through the discussion. It’s good that you have people you can talk with about this type of thing.

          I can tell you, it’s amazing what types of problems companies will overlook and keep a person under their employ. I have mentioned about my $60k error. The walls did not fall in, the earth did not stop revolving and I grew wiser about making $60k errors.

          If they tell you about a problem and don’t fire you on the spot, all is not lost, they might give you a chance to fix it.
          If they sit down and explain what is wrong and how to fix it, they are investing in you. They think you have potential and you are worth their time. It’s a compliment of sorts, because it’s a form of mentoring.

          I still say you are on the plus side here. There are no perfect employees. And your bosses know that. It sounds like overall they are happy with your work. Keep that in mind and keep growing.

  41. NewManager*

    I’m managing my first hiring process for an entry-level position and it has been a learning experience! To the job seekers out there, please know there’s a good chance a small organization uses Google to manage its email domain. That means I can see your photo/tagline in your Gmail/GooglePlus profile in the sidebar of your message. Just something to remember!

    Also, I’ve never hired for a truly entry level position before. Any advice? I can’t tell yet if I need to manage my expectations in terms of professionalism from very recent grads.

    1. De Minimis*

      I found that out the hard way…I had a really old G+ account from years ago that was a little juvenile, and was asked to take it down not long after I started. I’d forgotten it even existed. Thankfully they didn’t see it until after I’d been hired.

    2. Nanc*

      Entry-level management is both fun and frustrating (ask me how I know!)

      If the job doesn’t have SOPs, have them create them as they are trained. It gives them a reference source and next time you have an entry level position, you have a template to create more SOPs!

      Think about all their tasks and have a list of the basics. If you can have these in written form or in a company handbook or corporate intranet/wiki, it helps! It gives them something to read during the training time when you may have to step away to do other stuff.
      How are they supposed to answer their phone?
      Hello or
      [Department Name], this is [their name] or
      It is another beautiful day at the Red Pony and continual soiree, [their name] speaking.
      And train them how to politely say they’re not sure of the answer but will find out and call back/transfer person/suggest alternatives.

      Email etiquette, especially how long emails must be retained and how to archive.
      Appropriate dress. Men and women. Have the cologne talk/personal grooming talk, list out the dress code, etc.
      Cellphone, headphones, social media policies.
      How do they get office supplies.
      Time and task management. If you use a particular software, build in training time for that.
      If you’re out or unavailable and they need help, who is the go to person for questions?
      How are they expected to call in sick/late.
      Break room policies. Dishes, fridge, etc.
      What’s expected in the first week/month/90 days. When are they expected to use software/gadget/juggle flaming torches?

      I’m sure other folks will think of more!

      1. NewManager*

        Thanks for the very, very helpful advice (and also the spot-on Longmire reference! I love that show).

      2. NicoleK*

        Totally agree. When I was a manager, I’d create a schedule for the new hires. Schedule would include start time and end time (people tend to forget that new hires may not know when is quitting time)

    3. Lily Rowan*

      You may have to be very explicit about things that are very basic, office 101, if you’re talking about people who have literally never worked in an office before. Like hours, attire, not looking like you’re screwing around all day. I had to tell someone not to make personal long-distance calls from her desk phone — in the 2000’s!

    4. AnotherFed*

      Check references for your top three or so candidates. In case you missed it, check references. Really, it seems like a lot of work to screen them, but it’s the biggest thing you can do to dodge a bullet. And when you’re checking references, call the person (don’t just email), and ask them questions designed to see how the candidate performs in relevant tasks and what they need to improve on. Alison’s worked with The Management Center, and they’ve got some really good starting points for questions to ask.

      Yeah, it’s really rare to learn that someone actually stole from the last employer, but it’s common to hear things like “his work is great, but he always called out on Mondays,” or “he did well at the primary tasking, but we couldn’t let him meet clients because he was unintentionally insulting/very blunt” or “who? they worked here? and they put me down as a reference? what?”

    5. Cici (a different one)*

      Oh definitely have a different set of expectations! A lot of the things that are discussed on this site about professional norms, most truly entry level applicants aren’t going to know. The best hire I ever made was a guy who was a few months out of college, and during his first interview with me let down his guard enough that I became very aware of how much he was beating himself up for not having a full time job yet. It wasn’t the most professional way to present himself, but I’m so glad I gave him some leeway on that.

      But my standards around other things such as fit, skills fit to position, work ethic, attitude, I did not change. I was willing to keep progressing with entry level candidates who were less polished, but I was not willing to compromise on the factors that would truly matter to their job performance.

    6. NewManager*

      You all are fantastic, thank you! This is incredibly helpful and deeply appreciated.

      Also, Alison, we’re a startup non-profit and I’ve just bought your book on non-profit management. I can’t wait to read it.

  42. LizB*

    This has been bugging me for a few weeks even though I know it’s not a big deal, and I need someone to tell me to get a grip:

    In my last monthly 1-on-1 with my manager, I asked about how far in advance I should submit PTO requests. I have two brief out-of-town trips planned for this summer (5 days in July, 3 days in August) — they were planned literally months ago, and while I haven’t bought plane tickets for either, I have bought a non-refundable event ticket for the 3-day trip (I wanted to buy it before prices went up). I accrue 20 days of PTO during the year, and will have more than enough accrued by July to take both trips with plenty to spare. So, I asked my manager when I should submit the requests, guessing he’s probably say as far in advance as possible.

    Instead, he told me to wait until closer to the time, because he doesn’t know right now whether or not he’ll be able to approve them based on what our workload will be in the summer, and he might really need me during those times. This answer is bugging me for a few reasons: one, I am one of five people doing identical jobs on my team. I have zero responsibilities that can’t be covered by another team member in a pinch, and I don’t see that changing in the future. Two, our work is somewhat based on the US school year, and we’re expecting the summer to be a very slow time. Winter break this past year was incredibly slow, and I ended up doing random work-related projects and trainings just to fill my time because there was nothing to do in my main area of responsibility; I have reason to suspect that summer may be similar.

    I don’t mind waiting to submit the requests, but I’m kind of freaking out about the prospect of not being able to take these trips that I’ve really been looking forward to because my manager might come up with some ridiculous excuse to keep me at work. In the past, I’ve had managers respond to early requests with, “That should be fine, but check back with me in [month] so we can double-check your schedule”; I guess his response wasn’t really that different, but the way it was phrased made me feel like he was going to be looking for reasons not to approve my PTO. Someone tell me to calm the heck down, please?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Personally, I would check back in with him and say something like “I have non-refundable tickets for X date, so I’d really like to get the PTO on the calendar,” but on the other hand, there’s no reason to freak out about something he hasn’t actually done.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Or, so you don’t look like you’ve already committed without approval, “I need to buy my tickets for X dates well in advance, so I’d like to get the PTO on the calendar now.”

        1. BRR*

          This is my suggestion as well. I wouldn’t say I made any solid plans without checking, but stress that there are good reasons for booking ahead of time such as cost and need to confirm things with others.

          But by the sound of things LizB, it’s going to be ok :). I say that as someone who would feel the same in your position.

      2. Analyst*

        +1 this. For something that far out in advance I don’t think I’ve ever asked a boss if I could use PTO. I just told them it was happening.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I might “manage upward.” And say, “One advantage to the department [pseudonym for “him the manager”] is that everyone will be able to plan in advance; the five of us who do identical tasks will have time to juggle some of our regular tasks so we’re free to cover if we get a heavier workload. And other employees will know well in advance that they shouldn’t plan a vacation at the same time.”

      and maybe stuff like, “I’m happy to be a part of the effort of making sure that even if something does come up there, the most crucial parts of the workload will be handle-able by those in the office while I’m out.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I worked in a department of 7. For really important stuff where we had put down money, we would just check with each other and back each other up. So if Bob bought tickets to California the first week in August then all of us would just make sure we did not ask for the first week in August. Since this only came up once or twice a year it was not a hardship on us as a group to support the one coworker.

      Like you are saying, the manager was all mash potatoey about committing to a date.

  43. Lunch Meat*

    I have been dealing with anxiety at work, particularly dealing with having to write politically careful emails to high-level volunteers and other VIPs. I’ve noticed my mood is so much better when I’m baking, and I’m wondering if it’s totally crazy to trade my relatively successful office career for food service. It’s always been a pipe dream to own my own bakery, which would be really risky and I don’t think I’m cut out for management or marketing, but now I have an opportunity to work for someone else in catering. It would mean halving my salary while we’re trying to save up for a house; however, in the long term, spouse’s career has a much higher earning potential than mine does, and food service hours would mean we won’t need as much child care in the future. But I’m dealing with a lot of internalized ideas like “You must work at the hardest and highest paying job you possibly can or else you’re lazy” and “You just want to give up and do easy things and you need to grow a thicker skin” and also “You’ll eventually sabotage that job too” and I’m trying to figure out if it’s my jerk brain or not.

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      Have you ever done food service professionally? Would it be possible to do a trial period of some sort, taking on some shifts over the course of a month before deciding on whether to make the jump? I think it sounds like you’ve thought about the financial aspect, which would be the one major risk, but the other would be that you might not enjoy baking, find it easy, or like the hours when you’re under pressure to do it in a new work setting.

      There’s nothing wrong with doing something “easy,” or something that doesn’t make as much money – just because our culture values white collar, money-making jobs above others, and we internalize that, doesn’t mean that good, honest work with your hands isn’t something to be proud of as well. And it sounds like you haven’t sabotaged your current job, so yeah, that’s jerk brain.

      1. Lunch Meat*

        I haven’t worked in food service since before college (10 years ago). What I’m pretty much thinking about is doing a shift a month for a few months, and then doing it every weekend for a few months so I get into the mindset of “this is my routine job and it is a commitment and it’s not a fun one-time thing”, and see if it’s tedious yet. Then look into community college cooking classes in the evenings, and then make the switch. Thanks!

        1. Chameleon*

          Be aware that the culture in food service (at least many of the places I’ve worked) is *not* low-stress. Kitchens can be fast, loud, and mean. I’ve seen people called the foulest names in the book for making mistakes. Granted, catering may be different, but restaurant jobs aren’t for the faint of heart.

        2. overeducated and underemployed*

          That sounds like a great plan – well thought out, gradual, and not crazy at all! Good luck!

    2. neverjaunty*

      If you are not cut out for management or marketing, I’m not sure how you would operate your own bakery.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Well, that’s why she’s saying she’s not sure she wants to own her own bakery, at least the way I read the sentence. But there’s also, potentially, the possibility of hiring people to do the aspects she isn’t into.

        And all of that said, at the moment she’s looking into working for someone else, and not starting her own bakery.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But her ultimate goal is to open her own bakery. It doesn’t make sense to change careers to accomplish a goal of the reality of that goal doesn’t match her dream. “Well you can hire people to do that” is not realistic.

          Lunch Meat, do you really want to operate your own bakery someday? Or do you just like the idea of a food service career? (Very different things.) I’d encourage you to do a lot of research before you jump ship – if you take a realistic look at the pros and cons and decide that sounds way better than what you’re doing now, make a plan and go for it.

          1. Lunch Meat*

            No, I don’t. What I mean by “pipe dream” is something I daydream about but I know is not actually possible–maybe we have different connotations about that. (My dream bakery includes lots of free books and cats and you can go into the patio to pick apples to go into your pie and also everyone’s nice and there are intellectual conversations–so yeah, not realistic.) My ultimate goal IS to work in food service, if it’s possible to do it and survive.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Definitely do some serious research into the kind of food service you want to do – being a sous chef is not the same as being a baker, a catering business is different than a restaurant, especially in terms of hours and the type of work needed. If it really sounds like something you would enjoy a heck of a lot more than your current career, why not?

            2. TootsNYC*

              total aside: I *love* pipe dreams! I just love them. You can plan all sorts of stuff, and nothing ever goes wrong.

              I have a pipe dream of starting a company called The Handy Housewife. Catering, cooking, cleaning, shelf-putting-up, furniture repair, light plumbing, supervising heavy plumbing, repairing drapes. With a truck that has compartments for lugging around the tools (wrenches, saws, etc., on one side; sewing machine, vacuum, and pots & pans on the other). And regular clients who pay a retainer (regular income!) that gets them a 45-minute visit to tackle little things and arrange for bigger things (charged separately). And an app, so they can email me what the little tasks are, so I can bring all the supplies when I come……

              I’ll “visit” your bake shop if you “hire” my handy housewife!

              1. overeducated and underemployed*

                Your pipe dream is my pipe nightmare! I guess that means I’m your dream customer :)

                (Where does the phrase “pipe dream” come from anyway?)

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I may be wrong, but I think it’s from smoking opium (in a pipe) and having wonderful dreams. Example: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khanis a poem he wrote after envisioning it while chasing the dragon.

                  In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
                  A stately pleasure-dome decree:
                  Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
                  Through caverns measureless to man
                  Down to a sunless sea.
                  So twice five miles of fertile ground
                  With walls and towers were girdled round;
                  And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
                  Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
                  And here were forests ancient as the hills,
                  Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

            3. TootsNYC*

              total aside: I love pipe dreams!

              I have one of starting a service business called The Handy Housewife. I’ve daydreamed a truck (w/ compartments holding wrenches, saws, etc., on one side; sewing machine, vacuum, pots & pans on the other); a customer base (upper-middle-class suburbs, esp. w/ two working adults); a payment scheme (retainer gets you 1 short visit a month; longer duties negotiated); an app (customers snap a photo of the repair, fill out a checklist, and I know what supplies/tools/time to bring).

              I’m not really doing to do it. But it’s totally fun.

      2. Lunch Meat*

        That’s why it’s always been a kind of daydream, but with the opportunity to work for an acquaintance who owns a catering company, it seems like there’s another way to do what I love without taking the risk of starting a company.

        1. TootsNYC*

          You might find that doing it on this sort of basis is all you really need to provide that happy time, and make it easier to stick with a day job.

          and maybe you need a less stressful and less confrontational day job!

    3. Kelly L.*

      Go for it! Feeding people is important! My sister is a professional baker (working at coffee shops and the like, and has been working on getting a small personal business off the ground) and loves it, barring the occasional co-worker drama.

      Agree with overeducated–our whole culture has a jerkbrain about manual labor and about how much a job makes. But if everybody was a CEO, there’d be no cookies to eat. And I want a world with cookies.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Money is useful, but being miserable all the time to have lots of it isn’t worth it. Having a comfortable amount above “enough” and doing something you enjoy will probably be a lot better.

    4. LisaLee*

      I don’t think that’s crazy at all! A good friend of mine from college went to a 4-year college to get a business degree and then a 2-year college to do a pastry course while working in a bakery. Now she manages a bakery and does cake design. It’s difficult, but totally possible to have a good career in food service.

    5. Guinness*

      I am in a similar boat to you! I just signed up for a food-related business opportunity that I can do part-time in addition to my current job. There’s a part of me that really wants to make this happen so I can quit my full-time job, but I’m nervous that I’m not cut out for it and that it’s silly to leave the career I got a master’s degree for to sell food.
      But then I realize that I’m miserable, and the market for my full-time career sucks, and all my friends in the same field are all miserable too, so where would I go?
      I’m going to give it a good old college try and see what happens. Good luck to you!

    6. Headachey*

      Absolutely your jerkbrain talking to you! Your jerkbrain must not be aware that working in food service/baking is WORK, and declining to be a martyr to other peoples’ unreasonable expectations is hardly giving up. Changing careers for something you enjoy isn’t sabotaging the job you have.

      What does your spouse think? Supportive, neutral, not supportive? Do the finances work out? Why not sketch out a plan, with timeframe & revised budget, and sit with that for a while?

    7. ElCee*

      Food service hours can be more flexible and they can be a giant pain in the rear (goodbye weekends!), particularly catering. Is there a way to try it after-hours?
      But in terms of going from white collar to food service (or blue collar, trades, etc), I want to say that any hesitation on that score is just jerk brain! A living is a living, and if it will make you happier, that is NOT a failure! That’s the opposite of failure! In fact I think the tide will turn (someday!) and white collar jobs will be deservingly knocked off their pedestal.

      1. catsAreCool*

        You might want to follow Mike Rowe on Facebook. He talks a lot about how we need more blue collar workers.

        The way I figure it, if it’s honest work that isn’t hurting anyone, what’s the problem?

    8. Sunflower*

      I think you always need to tread carefully when you consider turning a hobby into a job. One of the reasons I enjoy my hobbies are that I control when I want to do them, how I want to, where, who with etc. Once they become your source of income, all of that goes out the window. Do you enjoy baking because you can go at your own pace, make whatever you want, stop in the middle of it without finishing or screw up your work without consequences? Unfortunately any time you’re being paid to do stuff, stress and anxieties are almost always part of it and working in food service is one of the top stresful industries. In addition to that, often times people will treat you as if you are beneath them even if it’s not true. It’s also a job where people transfer their stress more onto you than any other job I’ve seen- just because you’re calm, there might be 10 people screaming at each other around you about nothing that has anything to do with you. The advantage is many of these jobs you don’t bring your work home with you- one of my favorite things about waitressing was if I had a bad day, the next day was literally brand new and any problems from the day before were gone. And when I walked out the door, I was completely worry free

      I would definitely dip your toes in the water before jumping in the pool- and lucky for you, catering is an industry where it’s easy to pick up one or two shifts a week before you commit to it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have a friend that says this same thing about turning hobbies into a job. I can see what he is saying. I would advocate more for something that is geared toward a skill or ability you have that is a strength of yours. Do what you are good at and have a natural ability to grow and develop.

      2. NJ Anon*

        This! I have a former coworker now friend that makes the most awesome Christmas cookies! She goes crazy around the holidays and when people tell her to start her own business, she says no. She says then it won’t be any fun!

    9. Rex*

      I’d be a little careful here. My husband loves to cook, but his experience in the restaurant industry was a big NOPE NOPE NOPE. So make sure you’re really okay with turning your passion into your job before putting all your eggs in that basket.

      Also, if you’re finding yourself getting more stressed than usual about the work stuff — is everything else okay? Just from my own personal experience, you might want to think about getting screened for anxiety or depression.

  44. PJ*

    My husband and I have recently decided to divorce, and I am not sure how/when to bring this up with my boss and my small group of coworkers. I know it’s not something that NEEDS to be shared, but family life sometimes comes up in conversation, and it would feel weird not to mention it.

    Our main office is in State A, and I work from home in State B , and some coworkers work from their homes in States C and D. In the last few years, I have only seen my boss/coworkers in person once a year at our Christmas functions. I speak to my boss over the phone maybe once a month as most of our communications are via email. My coworkers and I communicate primarily via email.

    My boss has hinted that he might plan a get together towards April, but this is by no means a definite plan. For all I know, I may not see everyone until Christmas.

    So, how/when do I bring this up? I don’t think I’ll need to take much time off (I can already do all my crying from the privacy of my own home) and I don’t have any health insurance through work that I need to remove my husband from. Also, part of my job includes managing payroll, so updating bank accounts and payroll deductions won’t impact anyone but me and my boss. I am still considering whether I want to revert to my maiden name at work.

    Help?

    1. neverjaunty*

      I’m so sorry, even when divorce is 100% the right choice the process sucks.

      I would just bring it up if it becomes relevant; you don’t really need to make an announcement.

    2. Sunny With a Chance of Showers*

      I think I recall a previous AAM comment: when/if someone says, in the course of small talk, “How is your husband/wife doing?” — you reply briefly, “I’m divorced now, and I’ve moved on, everything is fine. How are your kids/other deflective comment?”

    3. Partly Cloudy*

      When I went through my divorce, I was working at a teeny tiny company and one of my co-workers was a pretty good friend. I talked to her about what was going on and let the grapevine do the rest. Is there someone you’re close enough to that you can ask to kind of spread the word so you don’t have to deal with awkward questions?

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. On paper, my divorce couldn’t have been easier (no kids, no debt, very few assets; we didn’t even hire lawyers, just had a paralegal service draw up the documents) but it’s still a cheese grater on your emotions.

    4. Cici (a different one)*

      Even if you don’t think you’ll need much time off, that might still provide a good excuse to bring it up to your boss in a context that feels more relevant to work. How about as a post script in an update email: “I wanted to give you a head’s up that I’ll be juggling my schedule a bit more than usual in the next few weeks, as I’m in the middle of divorce proceedings. It should have a minimal impact on work, but I thought I’d mention it just in case.” For co-workers, perhaps mention casually during social chit-chat that you’re getting readjusted to living by yourself, so it doesn’t feel so much like a bald announcement.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this, PJ, and the best of luck in the new life ahead!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You could announce your divorce by announcing you name change. Or you could let your boss do that grapevine thing.

      1. PJ*

        Yeah, I’m willing to go with the boss/grapevine thing. I just don’t know how to start that conversation.

        1. Alma*

          If you are considering retuning to your maiden name, that would be a discussion to have with your boss. For example, “I will use my maiden and married name on business correspondence for 6 months, then drop my married name and use my maiden name only.”

          This change to your legal name and signature will be official with the finalization of the divorce. You may choose to do the maiden+married name six months prior to the official legal action, and change to your maiden name only then.

          The business name change will be an important discussion to have if you are a signer on bank accounts, a notary, if your email address needs to be changed, and if you have internal or external clients for whom this kind of transition, rather than an announcement, might be appropriate.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “Boss, I have to tell you something that you need to know for your records. I am changing back to my maiden name as my husband and I have divorced. If you would let others know the change in name status that would be helpful/meaningful to me.

      2. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I had a friend that changed her last name after she got divorced. For some reason, I guess her boss must have thought she had gotten married because she asked her in front of everyone in a meeting, “I noticed you changed your last name! Any news to share?” in a very excited voice. My poor friend wanted the floor to open up and swallow her.

        1. hermit crab*

          Ohhh that happened to a former client of mine! Her email address was changing to reflect her name change, so she sent around a message notifying a bunch of people. Some oblivious recipient replied-all with a super congratulatory message. CRINGE.

    6. OlympiasEpiriot*

      You know how you feel about it, so decide based on that.

      Personally, my divorce was a much better event than my wedding and people’s marriages and births are always being congratulated at my company (to the point of including them in the “milestones” section of the Holiday Party slide show.) Considering how happy I was to get the divorce finalized and how open I was about it (no shame, I was soooo happy to be legally severed), I was truly annoyed they refused to include MY milestone in the slide show.

      Guess it would have been a slap in the face to people who think marriage and kids are the be-all-and-end all?

      1. catsAreCool*

        Maybe they were afraid that other people might see it on the slide show and (not knowing how you felt) might think it was insensitive?

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Nope, I doubt it. I practically hired a sky-writer to announce it. I even brought in a cake in celebration. It had taken 4 years and way too much money to sever that. I definitely have mostly under-control PTSD from that ‘marriage’. Every now and then I have to talk about something w/ the therapist.

          I still, many years later, bring it up whenever the slide show person makes the mistake of telling me about who’s getting on that show and who asks me to comment on a baby picture someone’s provided…. “Aw, how can’t you think that’s just soooo adorable???! Everyone’s gonna love it!” My response *always* is “All babies look like Winston Churchill, even my pixie did.” She seems rather defensive about it. I think she had and has a lot of shame around her own previous marriage/divorce/being a single ma for a while/etc and is either totally shocked at my lack of that or is actively offended by it. She’s a bit of a wimp in other ways. Doesn’t stand up for her people.

  45. themmases*

    I know there are some academic professionals on here, so I’d be interested in your opinion on this situation.

    I am applying to PhD programs and I chose 4 that would be very hard to choose between if I got all of them. So far I’ve gotten into my current school to stay, and an interview at a highly ranked program. However, I also heard from a program I’ve been interested in for a long time that my application was incomplete, when it wasn’t. It turns out the organization that runs our common app lost one of my transcripts and never verified my application, which I submitted months ago. Although I thought I was checking its status, the application site recently underwent a redesign and the place I was looking was apparently not the right place to check.

    The coordinator at the school has been awesome, and although I didn’t ask her to she offered to talk to the common app and the faculty on my behalf if I can show the transcript should have been received. I’m very interested in this school, but at this point I know I have two other strong possibilities and I’m hesitant to push for special consideration when it may be just one of three or four I have to choose from. I’d be interested in working or doing a postdoc at this school if I don’t go now, so I don’t want to burn any bridges here by being difficult and then not going.

    Would this bother you as a staff or faculty member? I don’t want to just withdraw, but what if I write back, explain there was some error on both sides, and let the coordinator decide whether to offer to pursue it more? So far I haven’t directly asked this program for anything.

    1. Graciosa*

      Don’t do this.

      It is perfectly normal to apply to multiple schools (even at a doctoral level), and applying does not mean that you are required to choose them.

      In this case, a coordinator discovered an issue on their end which damaged your application, and is attempting to resolve it so you can be properly considered. This is normal. This is what any reasonable school would do.

      It does not mean that upon consideration, you will be accepted. If you are accepted by the program, you are not required to attend just because someone addressed a computer glitch.

      Present the material for consideration and see what happens – just like you started to do when you originally applied.

      And stop overthinking this (save that for your dissertation!).

      ;-)

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        Yes. This. Letting the coordinator be awesome at her job will just get your application the *same consideration* as everyone else’s. It would look worse for you if you make it appear that you don’t care because you have better options elsewhere.

      2. fposte*

        Totally agreeing. There is a *lot* of conversation at my school about and with PhD applicants, and “oops, there was a screwup and her application is complete” is utterly unremarkable. This isn’t–or shouldn’t be–somebody spending huge amounts of personal capital; it’s just the usual herding of the application cats.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep. There are a few of these every year. Sometimes they get accepted, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they come here, sometimes they don’t, no hard feelings. Organizational shit happens. It’s not special consideration.

    2. notfunny.*

      Also the process for post doc applications/job applications is likely entirely different from graduate admissions, so if you were not to attend for your PhD and then wanted to post doc I doubt you’d interact with the same folks.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      Agreed with the other comments to make sure your application gets reviewed–this stuff happens all the time, and making sure your materials are received and reviewed appropriately is something that you want to have done. It does not obligate you to accept their offer, if one is forthcoming.

      Speaking of offers: if the programs are all more or less equal in terms of outcomes (and ask for info on their placement record–both from the standpoint of tenure-track jobs and what else people do), then consider which faculty you’d most like to work with AND which program is offering the best aid package (scholarship/grant, tuition remission for being a research or teaching assistant, etc.). Any dollar that you don’t have to borrow is probably $1.50 that you don’t have to pay back.

      1. Ultraviolet*

        If you ask for placement data, and they just provide data about how many alumni are in academia and how many are elsewhere, try to get them to break down the academia number into postdocs vs faculty jobs.

        (I agree with everyone else that getting the application reviewed is not asking for special consideration and will not get you branded as difficult.)

    4. themmases*

      Thank you everyone!

      I think I have been hesitant to push because I have to admit, once I heard there was a problem I was able to see for myself on the website that the application wasn’t verified. I’m embarrassed that I missed it. However, I had been checking my program list which showed this application as “complete”. I even submitted another application through the same system and still wasn’t warned that one transcript was outstanding! I also got a response from the common app that was written like a form email only ruder, which I think made me feel like there is something potentially adversarial about this situation.

      I hadn’t even thought about the impression it might leave to just not follow up like I don’t care about this program– I care a lot actually even if I ultimately choose somewhere else. I’ll definitely follow up with the coordinator. I don’t think the common app will acknowledge ever having received my transcript, but I definitely can prove I sent it and provide another one.

    5. BRR*

      Two possibilities are not an admission to your top choice (which would be the only reason to withdraw at this point). For academia (meaning faculty), it’s far more common to be aware of and discuss other/better options than the non-academic world. You don’t have to pretend to monogamous with where you’re applying.

  46. AnotherAlison*

    TGIF.

    I was on vacation last week, started getting sick on Saturday night. Suffered through work sick all week, because while I was out a few things on my projects got accelerated. I was just starting to feel better yesterday when my neck went out and now I can’t turn my head. To top off the week, we had employee wellness exams today.

    I feel like the universe has been telling me to stay home and is punishing me for ignoring the message.

  47. anon for this*

    Those of you who travel for work (go to conferences, do recruiting, etc). Do you have autonomy over your own budget, or do you have to get every trip, etc approved by someone before you can book it?

    I do student recruitment and I am expected to go to events around my province/country to represent to institution, and several programs. Often the information about tables & the event are sent to me at the last minute. In my current set up I have to ask our admin if I can book the event, which she then forwards to our Directors for approval. They both are very busy and have full time jobs elsewhere, so often these emails are overlooked, or by the time they have approved, the deadline has passed and we missed the event. I’ve taken to just deciding to book things because it’s easier to ask for forgiveness later, but I can only do that with things that are local. Anything that requires travel I can’t do this with, because they need to approve all travel expenses. There has never been a position like this at my dept before, so having my bosses approve travel before made sense, because it was very infrequent. It’s also the first year of my position, so I still don’t have a clear idea of all the events, etc that need to be attended or that exist.

    Is this kind of set up normal? I have a meeting with my bosses today to ask for more autonomy in this regard. My plan is to ask if we can have a certain amount of money earmarked for traveling, and that I have the freedom to operate within it (or, to have the admin sign off on requests to cut down on the layers of approval needed). But before I do this, I want to make sure other people who do traveling have autonomy over their travelling schedules, etc, and I’m not out of line to be frustrated by this.

    1. Random Lurker*

      Sadly, I travel a ton. I’ve had setups like you describe, I’ve had setups where I can do whatever, just expense it in. Right now, I’m a little in between. I have to submit a travel justification to my boss and finance, which is basically a one pager on why I can’t do whatever I’m planning to do virtually. After that, which is just a rubber stamp (seriously I’ve been reusing the same form for a year, I just change dates. Nobody reads it), I’m good to go. My boss is supposed to check on my flights/hotel to see if they are in compliance with policy and within my operational budget. But since I’m a rules girl, they always are, and he decided he has better way to spend his time.

    2. mander*

      Regardless of whether you get your own budget, it sounds like you really need to improve the process around the more remote events. Maybe there’s some way to expedite those so they don’t get pushed back until it’s too late?

  48. TowerofJoy*

    Got a new job! Just wanted to say thanks to AAM. The advice, comments and support here was incredibly helpful.

  49. Ghosting*

    Local radio station was talking about how people ghost on dates. Instead of saying hey i’m not interested in you, they just disappear after a first date. I had my ah-ha moment today and realized that’s what our applicants are doing. Five years ago someone would call and say thanks for the offer but I got another job. Now they just ghost after the first interview and don’t return our calls. Is this the new norm?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think there’s anything new about it, any more than there is about the dating thing. (Also, employers do that to applicants all the time–I wish there was some way to neatly line up ghosting applicants with ghosting employers.)

    2. Yggdrasil*

      Five years ago, a company might have called to tell you that you didn’t get the job. Now they just forget to return your calls. It’s a different world.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Honestly, all this was going on five years ago too! I have columns from way back at the start of this blog in 2007 ranting about employers not getting back to job applicants and people feeling like it was a new trend then too. I don’t know when it actually started, but it was definitely longer ago than that!

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yes, this isn’t something new. I got “ghosted” by a potential employer 12 years ago (phone interview, all-day in-person interview, met with the head of school). Didn’t even get a form email to say I didn’t get the job.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Yep, and it happened in dating too. We just have more avenues of communication to ignore each other on too. But I totally got ghosted by a date in 1997.

        3. Yggdrasil*

          You’re right! I’ll admit to “ghosting” a few times when I was young and (more) foolish. I wouldn’t do it again, but I can’t blame people who do. If I had a buck for every time an employer ghosted me, I wouldn’t need the job in the first place.

        4. katamia*

          Yeah, I started my job search in 2007, and even back then it was the norm to get no response rather than get a reply. I honestly kind of prefer the ghosting because I get my hopes up when I see a response, and then it’s an extra punch in the gut to see that it’s a rejection. But I’m really good at moving on after submitting an application, so I just act like I didn’t get the job; not getting a response doesn’t affect me in the same way because it’s what I was expecting anyway.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I don’t mind getting a boilerplate rejection email at all, it gives me closure. But what am I supposed to do with a rejection call? I got one, and it was like…what am I supposed to be saying to this? Thanks for letting me know? I think I managed to sputter something along those lines…

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              I never got a rejection call, but I was once standing next to someone who did get one, and it was awkward as hell, even second-hand.

        5. Rex*

          That has been a long-time problem. But these days, I’m seeing a lot of *applicants* ghosting — not responding at all to employer outreach. In one case, not responding to an offer! I think that’s what the poster is talking about. It does seem worse than it used to be, but I’m not sure.

          1. AnotherFed*

            I’m seeing a ton of that this round of hiring! Of the candidates I moved to the ‘phone interview’ pile, half did not even respond to set up a phone interview. Now that we’re doing the phone interviews, one of those people ghosted and hasn’t gotten back in touch. I’m supposed to be filling a handful of positions, but I’m having such trouble finding viable candidates that I may have to give billets back!

      2. anon for this one*

        In college, I was a wimp and had one of my friends tell a guy that I died rather than have ‘the conversation’. He was blind so I still continued walking around campus and I was able to walk away whenever he came in sight. I still suck at break ups but I am not as low dealing as I used to be.

    3. super anon*

      i’ve always called this the fade (and i always pictured that .gif of homer simpson getting sucked backwards into a bush when i think of it)! glad to see there’s an actual name for it.

  50. Sutemi*

    Thanks so much to Alison and the commenters, I have been told that today I will be expecting the offer to become a full time project manager after being a functional project team member for several years! I am so excited!

    I had my interview with the executive VP yesterday. Although I had intended to ask him the magic question, his second question for me was what I thought made the difference between good and great project management! I think he might be a reader here! We spent about half of the allotted half hour discussing his and my opinions on this subject.

  51. LisaLee*

    I’ve been wanting to jump ship at my current job for quite a while (string of bad bosses, major organization-wide problems) but I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to open. Well, a job just popped up in my dream field and it looks like I’m qualified for it too! This is one of those small, competitive fields where there are only a handful of entry-level positions open at any one time in the whole country, so I have to go for it.

    The only problem is that its in my home state. I love the actual town where it’s located, but I always swore I would never move back to this state (cold, bad government, low number of towns I like). My goal has always been to get out to the east coast, and this is the midwest. I’m also not sure, for various reasons, how good it will be to live a half hour away from my immediate family.

    So…thoughts? Is it worth living in a meh location for a few years to get your foot in the door? Have any of you guys made this trade-off?

    1. fposte*

      I live in the meh Midwest, so I’m slightly biased here :-). I think if it’s a competitive field that’s hard to get a toehold into, it’s worth considering. You like the town, and there may be a COL advantage that allows you to save better/pay off loans. You just have to be prepared to deal with the family thing.

      1. LisaLee*

        Part of the issue with the midwest is that this field usually only has jobs in major population centers and there’s just a lower density of those here. So moving to a coast would probably also mean easier career advancement.

        1. Kate R. Pillar*

          On the coast, would job density be such that you could conceivably change employers without moving?
          If not, I would tend to think that at some later point in time moving Midwest –> Coast would not be so much harder than moving Coast –> somewhere else on Coast.

          1. BRR*

            Similar topic but there is also the aspect of job hunting via distance. Are there a surplus of local candidates that would make it harder to job hunt from a couple states over?

        2. fposte*

          It’s only easier if you have a job, though, right? And moving to the Midwest for now doesn’t mean committing to live there forever.

          I also think the question right now is whether you *apply* to the job. And I think that’s an unmitigated “Yes.” Applying doesn’t mean you’ll get it or take it if it’s offered. But if it’s that competitive a field, waiting until there’s an opening that is in your area of geographical preference could be a long, unhappy wait. So maybe the question is whether the field or the region is more important to you, and job-hunt accordingly.

    2. CMT*

      I took a job in my cold, badly governed, home state that I swore I would never return to and I hate it. I can’t wait to get out of here. At the time it was the only offer I had, but I often wonder what would have happened if I’d waited just a little bit longer. I’m finding it hard to get out, but I will begrudgingly say I have gained some very good experience. And I like being close to my parents.

    3. Language Lover*

      I took a job in a remote area to get experience in my very competitive field. I lived there for 3.5 years and by year 2 I worried that I was stuck there.

      But eventually I was able to parlay that experience to another job in a better area.

      You know what’s more limiting than location in a competitive field? Lack of experience. If this is a small field, they’re likely used to people willing to relocate for the job. Even if the state sucks for reasons, if you can live in an area you love, it’ll be balanced out I think. You know, it’s kind of funny because home states are kind of personal. I hate what my home state has become and I would have serious doubts about moving back there. And yet the state where I lived for a few years has similar issues and I wasn’t as bothered. Maybe it’s because I knew it was only going to be temporary while there would be a lot to trap me in my home state ( which I’d love to love again. )

      1. LisaLee*

        I think this is part of it. When I list out the pros and cons logically, I know that obviously this would be a great move. It’s the tiny part of my brain going “Nooooooo!” that’s tripping me up :/ But I think maybe its more a knee-jerk “I said I wouldn’t go back” than anything else.

  52. A*

    Professionals (including hiring managers; and yes, multiple people — most, even) in the biz keep encouraging me to lie or at least exaggerate on job applications. I don’t plan on doing so, but I’m concerned that everyone else is and I’m therefore being disqualified “unfairly.” I don’t even know what to ask other than to just say: HALP!

    But in all seriousness, advice? I was told today I was beat out by other candidates who had more experience for a job I was well-qualified for and really wanted. I had spoken with the person leaving the position they were hiring for and she encouraged me to lie when I applied. I didn’t, and now I’m wondering “What if?” (I again want to emphasize, though, that I believe lying on applications is wrong, so on and so forth.)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Others may disagree with me, but I would say you really have to consider whether you want to stay in that industry or not. If the norm in your “biz” is for people to lie, do you have an ethical problem with that? Do you have a problem enough that perhaps you don’t want to work in that industry any more?

      Remember: if these people (co-workers, hiring managers) are all lying on their job applications, they’re probably lying professionally in other ways on a day-to-day basis.

      I don’t know what industry you’re in, but if it takes lying to get ahead in that industry, you may just have to accept that you’ll be in an unethical industry. My recommendation, then, would be to transition out of that industry as soon as you can.

      1. A*

        It’s libraries, believe it or not. I’m absolutely committed to the industry and I don’t get the sense this is a symptom of a larger problem in general. That’s a fair question to ask, though — the moment I posed it to myself, though, I knew the answer was I’d be sticking with it. It’s what I love and am passionate about.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yikes! That’s horrible.

          It’s a personal choice, obviously, but if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t lie, for two reasons:

          1. Practical: If you get caught in the lie, that’s all on you. “Everyone else is doing it” didn’t work in grade school, and it doesn’t in professional life either.

          2. Ethical: I just don’t believe in lying to get ahead. I’d lie to hide Anne Frank, or I’ll lie in acquaintance-level situations to avoid long explanations or unneeded conversations. But I’m not going to lie in a way that I’ll be ashamed of doing so later.

          I’d recommend a clear conscience, even if it means you’ll lose out in the short term. My two cents. Sorry you’re going through this!

          1. A*

            That’s the plan. Thanks for the comment and solidarity. This is definitely not something I ever imagined encountering when I decided this was what I wanted to do. :(

          2. TootsNYC*

            I won’t lie on job interviews/resumes, and I wouldn’t lie when I was dating, because I don’t want to have to live with the pressure!

            Who wants a job that they’re not actually qualified for? Not me!
            Or a boyfriend/husband that doesn’t know the real them? Not me!

            I want to take a job knowing that they chose the REAL me to do it. There’s tremendous confidence in that.

            So I’m w/ you; I’m baffled that so many people ar esaying, “just lie.”

        2. LibrarianJ*

          I’d be surprised if this was typical across the library industry, but I can only speak for my own experience (academia), and say that I don’t know anyone who would encourage lying or exaggeration on job applications. As someone who was on a hiring committee last year, I’d have been really upset to find out we had hired a candidate who had lied about their qualifications. It can be hard for us to fill positions, and there’s always the push to do more with less, so we were looking for someone who could step right in and do the job. Now, that depends on what you’re lying about, of course — an extra year of experience might turn out to be harmless (at least as far as getting the job done), while actual lack of a necessary skill would not. But regardless, you don’t want to be caught lying about that sort of thing, and depending on what lie you’re telling there’s a chance it’d be pretty transparent anyway.

          I don’t know that I have any fantastic advice, only to say that I don’t think this kind of lying is typical or something job-hunting librarians all do, and it’s best to stick to whatever your qualifications actually are. The job market is really tough right now, so I know it might be tempting to tweak your job experience even though you know it’s wrong, but it’s best to stick it out with your honest resume.

          1. A*

            I think part of it may just have to do with the region I’m in. Let’s just say the area in which I currently live (and will be, for the foreseeable future — that’s not really negotiable at this point) isn’t known for being honest. My experience on paper doesn’t really reflect the facts of the matter, so typically adjust accordingly, but only by a year or so. Multiple choice questions ask how many years library experience, options are 0 – 1, 1-2, 2-3, and so on, so I’ll answer 2-3, for example, though I think even then I’m selling myself short given the reality of things. It’s especially frustrating knowing this goes through HR who may or may not have a real sense of what a hiring manager in a library would feel is appropriate (and this is the reasoning everyone I’ve spoken to gives to “justify” the lie).

            I’m rambling in frustration now, I think. But thanks for the support all the same. I guess there really isn’t a “right” answer to this one.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                It generally starts when there is corruption at the top. Underlings must lie to protect the higher ups. Front line people must lie to protect the underlings who really aren’t doing anything wrong and just trying to earn a living/have food on the table.

                You know the expression- crap rolls down hill.

  53. Total Rando*

    After our fun discussion about being the office go-to, I want to hear everybody’s favorite excel tips/tricks. Ready, go!

      1. Windchime*

        Bwah ha ha! Our plan was to have our end users use Excel to access the data warehouse and it’s working out about as well as you might expect it to. The last time we checked out Tableau, it was deemed too expensive. I’m hoping our company will reconsider because I hear it’s great.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I would say the first time I ever learned pivot tables, it rocked my office world. Before that, I would seriously be sorting spreadsheets and making little formulas to count things up. Pivot tables are a very simple way to make meaning of data in spreadsheets. You may have already known, but if you didn’t… be prepared to have your world rocked.

      1. Total Rando*

        Pivot tables are the best! I’m continuously shocked by people who don’t know how to use them or don’t even know they exist.

        1. Windchime*

          I know they exist and can do a simple one, but to me they just look so clunky and awful. Clearly I need to learn more about them.

    2. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I love VLOOKUP and it’s helpful to me almost every day.

      I also have a spreadsheet (a price list) I inherited with tons of numbers that I occasionally have to increase by a certain percentage. If I type that percent number (e.g. 2.5% / 0.025) in some random cell, copy that cell, and then highlight all the numbers I want to increase, and paste special > multiply, it will do that easily.

      I’m sure are others because I use Excel constantly but that’s what I can think of off the top of my head.

    3. Beezus*

      Combining INDEX and MATCH formulas instead of VLOOKUP. You don’t have to rearrange your data so that the lookup column is to the left, and you don’t have to count columns. The formula goes like:
      =INDEX(Q:Q,MATCH(A2,S:S,0))

      Where Column Q is the location of the values you want returned, A2 is the location of the value you want to match, and Column S is the location to find the match in. The 0 at the end returns an exact match, similar to the FALSE command in VLOOKUP.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I have such a hard time with INDEX / MATCH. My data is almost always in tabular format – can I still use it with that? I have “learned” it but haven’t learned a practical use for it yet, so I think that’s why I struggle.

          1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

            THANK YOU. I’ve watched so many tutorials on it, but it’s never had actual data I would use, so it’s harder for me to grasp. This helps so much!

        1. Beezus*

          You’re trying to look up something from a pivot table in tabular format?

          I don’t have much call to do that, but I’ve found when writing formulas based on pivot tables, it’s best to type the name of the range or cell I’m targeting, instead of using the mouse to select it, because when you use the mouse, it tries to do the GETPIVOTDATA thing and you can’t carry the formula down/over to adjacent cells.

          1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

            I’m not trying to look up something from a pivot table, but my data is usually set up in tabular format because a lot of times I use Pivot tables to analyze it. The video above actually helped a lot!

    4. Anonanonanon*

      I just learned =ISTEXT(). It is a tiny, mostly pointless formula that tells you if a cell has a text value or not. It is so useful when figuring out why a formula just won’t work.
      Also, something I found out recently that if you at +0 to a cell reference in a formula, you convert it to a number value instead of a text value. This solves the problem diagnosed with ISTEXT.
      I’ve been having trouble with this in my formulae lately, can you tell? Small, simple, handy if you need it.

    5. GG*

      I’m a big fan of using conditional formatting and/or putting formulae into seemingly empty cells in order to call out errors or irregularities in data. Nothing quite like having numbers jump out at you in red text if they’re not within the desired range, or having a yellow highlighted “ERROR” pop up if your summed columns and rows don’t match up.

    6. KW10*

      I hesitate to call it a trick since it’s so basic, but I couldn’t live without Freeze panes. I never understand why so many people in my office don’t use it – they send around these huge spreadsheets that are so long and wide that you lose your place immediately without freezing the top row and left column.

    7. mander*

      Pretty trivial, but anytime I want to sort a big list of things in some way but wanted to preserve the original, non-alphabetical/numerical order of the list, I add a column and then fill it with numbers, effectively turning it into a numbered list. I don’t use a spreadsheet every day anymore but I have found several uses for this.

      Also, I used CONCATENATE and text-to-columns quite frequently when I’m cleaning up text documents.

  54. Helen of What*

    I could use a bit of advice.

    I currently work two part time jobs, one I like and which is in the field I want to be in long term, the other is a blah customer service job. I barely (read: don’t) make ends meet with two jobs/43ish hrs of work each week. I asked the interesting, better paying job for more hours, and they think I’m great but can’t afford to make me even close to 40 hours. On top of the financial difficulties, my insurance under my parents will drop me soon.
    Seems logical to start searching, but I’ve only been working there for five months. It took six months for me to find these jobs, during which time I worked temp jobs but depleted my savings. I have medical stuff I need to sort out bu can’t afford to deal with (nothing life threatening, but I can’t put them off for that long). And my resume is already a bit job hoppy.
    Should I hold out or start looking?

    1. GeekChic*

      I’d start looking. You have a built in explanation for why you wanted to move from your current position: because you didn’t have enough hours in the industry you were looking to move into. If a candidate had a string of three or four jobs in the same area as the job they were interviewing for, I’d think there might be something going on there. If they moved around while working part-time jobs that weren’t all in the right field, the reason for moving is clear. This is especially true since your current employer likes you and knows you want more hours – maybe you can be open about the fact you’re interested in moving and get offers of a reference from them.

    2. Observer*

      Start looking. No one is going to look at your part time jobs and think “why is she leaving that – she’s a job hopper.” Just don’t take on other P/t jobs.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, start looking.
      If it took you 6 months to find these jobs and you have been at them for 5 months, then it could be that you will need another six months or more to find that full time job. At that point you will be at these 2 jobs for almost a year. Do not wait, keep going.

  55. Sadsack*

    Coworker in a senior position in my department does not pick up her feet when she walks and it is driving me nuts. I know she is capable of walking normally because I have seen her do it. The last two days have been especially bad because she is moving to another position in another area of the building, so she is constantly in and out of her office packing boxes. PLEASE PICK UP YOUR DAMN FEET WOMAN!!!!!! This is so distracting and f-ing annoying. My only solace is that I think she’ll be gone next week.

    1. RNPALS*

      I think I would just wait it out, if she’s going to be in another part of the building in a week. Of course, if she would just pick up her feet, she could probably finish moving all those boxes within 2 or 3 days.

    2. Clever Name*

      I’m glad someone else is annoyed by things like this. My old office mate would chew soup loudly. My current office mate gulps her water loudly, and it makes my skin crawl. And yes, I realize the common denominator between me and my annoying office mates is me.

  56. SAHM*

    Thinking of creating a blog to generate more interest for my soap. That is one of the things I really noticed about other successful soapers, they all generally blog/have Instagram/Twitter. I would love to write about the soap I’m making, the colors, fragrances, the technique I’m using, the recipe, do the whole shebang, ya know? But I keep waiting for IT husband to help me set up my blog (even though I KNOW if I spent a few hours I could probably do it myself), and I’m a bit nervous about how to post pics of the soap and making it look good (not having it off centered or weirdly placed on the page), and while I’m very confidant in my writing abilities, I haven’t written anything but FB updates in … Well, a year or two? But I do edit my hubby’s emails and self-evals when it’s important and I’m a well-rounded reader…. Ugh, you can see why something as simple as creating a blog is making me go round and round the mulberry bush in my brain…

    1. LisaLee*

      Etsy has a lot of great tutorials about how to take nice-looking product pictures. Have you checked those out?

      1. SAHM*

        Yes, I’ve reviewed their tutorials, and done a bit of research myself, but I get so nervous about posting anything. Even though they probably are just fine.

          1. SAHM*

            Thanks! I just get nervous because I’m doing all this on my own. It’s very different trying to run a @home biz like this then being at work and being told what to do. Lol. I think I would prefer someone to just tell me what to do/what I’m doing wrong/right. I just keep trying different things (Etsy, Jane, Farmers Markets, etc) and I haven’t quite figured out my niche yet.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Good luck with your blog! One tool I’ve been using is called Canva–you can use it to make cool graphics and images for the web (including using your own pictures). It can easily be free. There are some paid elements but it’s easy to avoid them.

    3. TowerofJoy*

      I am really late to this so I don’t know if you’ll see but… The couple that does apinchofyum.com also run foodbloggerpro.com and have lots of excellent tips that cross the boundaries into other kinds of blogging (the membership is waitlisted but the blog still has plenty of good info). Pinch of Yum has a photography ebook thats pretty good. They have excellent advice on blogging and taking pictures. Also smartpassiveincome.com does a podcast and has a blog with a ton of great resources and information, despite the kind of gimmicky name.

  57. Lolisan*

    I currently have a made up job title, like Magical Teapot Wizard. The work I do corresponds to a title most companies use in the real world, like Teapot Designer. What should I put as my title on my resume?

    I’m afraid that if I put Magical Teapot Wizard any hiring manager who is skimming my resume won’t know what that means so they’ll toss my resume before reading the bullet points of what I actually do. But I’m also afraid that if I put Teapot Designer then any time a company speaks to a reference or tries to verify my employment here they’ll ask if I was a Teapot Designer and be told I was a Magical Teapot Wizard and then I’ll be disqualified for lying.

    1. MaryMary*

      I don’t have an answer, but I’d be interested in what other people have to say. My current title is something like Teapot Advisor, and I’ve wondered if it would be better/simpler to use Account Manager or Teapot Consultant, both of which are used more frequently in my industry and are a better description of what I do.

    2. LiteralGirl*

      I think that Alison recommends putting the functional or common title for your job in parentheses after your official title. That way, there’s no lying.

    3. Jules the First*

      I hear you…my last job my official title was ‘Resident Genius’ which is utterly meaningless. I use:

      Company Name
      Resident Genius (equivalent to Teapot Designer level 3)

  58. RNPALS*

    Just wanted to drop a line and thank Alison for all the professional advice this site has to offer. Using her resume advice of focusing on accomplishments at each job and day-to-day survival advice of not letting negativity of the toxic job get to me, I was able to escape my full time toxic workplace in summer of 2015 and, in September of 2015, I went from prn to full time at a better job. I had been prn at this job since Feb 7, 2014, so I recently celebrated my 2-year work anniversary. I earned a raise when I went from prn to full time, and I recently earned another raise after my performance review.

    In addition, I outlasted the one toxic element at this otherwise great job- a “nurse” who spent her shifts playing with her cell phone, flirting with a married supervisor on another unit, sleeping, and gossiping. She was recently fired for her 10 billionth med error (conservative estimate). Prior to this site, I had viewed supervisors who fire employees as terrible people who didn’t care about the people they hire. Now I have more respect for my supervisors for actually dealing with this moron, particularly after reading about how one toxic employee damages the company more than one superstar employee benefits the company and Alison’s account of how she used to suck at firing people.

    I’m so glad to be working full time at the company I’m at now, and I wouldn’t be there without Askamanager!

  59. Small town reporter*

    My boss recently asked if I’d like to help mentor someone who is just starting in their newspaper career. (I have about 15 years of full-time experience.) It would all be over email and phone, as our media company is pretty spread out. We typically have one or two reporters per office. Anything I should keep in mind as I’m getting ready? Most of what my boss said I need to do is provide feedback on the articles they write and just be available for questions when he’s not. I also anticipate helping them navigate some of the situations that come up in small communities that can get a bit tricky when you’re trying to simultaneously do good reporting and keep up good working relationships with sources, who are the people you also see at the grocery store, church, the park, etc.
    Also, I am very excited about this! I have had good mentors at my previous newspapers and now hope to pay it forward a little.

  60. Internal Interview*

    I have my first internal interview next week. A sort of silly question, that I know depends a lot on my office culture: Should I wear a suit? My company is very casual–not to the point of wearing jeans, but nobody wears suits. (And since it’s on a casual friday my interviewers might actually be wearing jeans.) I know my interviewers. I’m afraid if I wore one it would actually decrease my confidence because I’d feel self conscious. I was thinking about wearing nice pants and a blazer. Thoughts?

    1. MaryMary*

      OldJob’s dress code was business casual. When I had an internal interview, I dressed up a little (skirt, nice top, and cardigan) but did not wear a suit.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      That sounds okay to me. Make sure you wear nice shoes too. But it’s amazing how much a blazer can snazz up an outfit–I wore khakis and a brown blazer to my second interview here, and I think my teammates thought I was too overdressed. They wore sweatshirts and jeans. If your office is no jeans, a blazer and pants will be dressy but not as much as a suit.

    3. Doriana Gray*

      That’s what I wore to my internal interview at my business casual company (and the colors of my blacks were very similar so it did look like a fancy suit). Like Elizabeth said, wear nice shoes with the pants and blazer and you’ll be appropriate for the occasion and environment.

  61. overeducated and underemployed*

    This week my boss is out of town, and I haven’t had any other scheduled meetings, so I’ve been able to work from home every day. It’s fantastic – since I don’t have a 3+ hour round trip commute, this is the first week I’m actually able to work enough to hit my contracted hours, saving money on gas AND making more. Plus all that extra time means I was able to finish at 3 PM yesterday, pick the kid up from day care, and meet up with a couple friends for a play date, which involved heart-to-hearts about dual career challenges and wishing we could just take breaks from work to have babies for several years and come back like we’d never left. We have worked out different compromises in each of our families, but they’re things I never thought I’d struggle with, so it feels good to be honest about them sometimes.

    Still waiting to hear back on multiple interviews, and after a really demoralizing rejection last week combined with three other friends getting awesome job offers, I really need some good news. Hoping so hard to schedule a third interview for a really exciting opportunity next week, and also hoping for an in-person invitation after a phone interview yesterday. After this rejection, I’ve completely lost any motivation I had to apply for non-local visiting and postdoc positions, like air out of a balloon, so I may just be giving up on academia entirely…fine, that was actually my second choice…but now even more is riding on the very few openings in my first choice field.

    Solidarity, job searchers, and good luck to you.

  62. Squiz*

    I’ve two bosses. Jane and Joe

    Joe is my day to day, in office contact. Love him, He’s spot on for almost everything.

    Jane is a sales person, owns the company. She’s type A. Always on the road, never does email, wants everything by phone. Frustrating but I can deal with it.

    I find Jane to be rude and abrupt. Conversations with her often leave me flustered, and scolded.

    Joe says I’m doing a fabulous job, that they are pleased with my work. But that I need to be less defensive with Jane. That she isn’t mean, that there is no tone, that I’m misreading her.

    I’m new to the job. Its very process oriented. Not hard, but a lot of fine points to get right. They’ve hired 3 other people to do this job, none of who are still here. And from what I hear, its because of Jane.

    So here’s the question.. when your gut is telling you that Jane is rude and abrupt, and demeaning, how do you tell your brain to stop listening to your gut. ie how do I not react to her delivery/tone, and just listen to the words, and not put any delivery/tone in my message back?

    I like this job- the work is reasonably interesting, its close to home, and it pays well enough. BUT, I need to figure out how to get past the Jane issue.

    Any advice?

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      My graduate advisor was like this. We had a really rough relationship for the first half of my PhD, which made it hard for me to progress. Then I had an epiphany that it wasn’t actually rudeness – it was social awkwardness. My advisor was abrupt and negative not because of any particular dislike toward me, but because he just wasn’t good at social niceties, and didn’t really know how to be otherwise. Thinking about it this way, not as a choice or insult but as a flaw I had to show empathy toward, really helped me to ignore the tone and just deal with the content without getting ruffled or defensive. Maybe this could apply to Jane?