open thread – February 26-27, 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 :)

{ 1,110 comments… read them below }

  1. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’ve been having ongoing issues with my conflict-avoidant boss who also doubles as a terrible manager.  There are too many to list here so I’ll isolate the most irritating one:

    When faced with any tough situation, “Jim” downplays everything by calling the situation “no big deal.”  This week, there have been a number of HR issues with an employee with whom he refuses to be upfront.  “I don’t understand why Big Boss is irritated by this.  This isn’t a big deal.”  Another time, I needed Jim’s participation on a serious discussion with his boss.  “Are you sure we have to do X?  I don’t know that’s a good idea to offer a complementary suggestion to Big Boss’s original idea. It’s not a major issue anyway.”  (Jim failed to have that conversation and complained to me about the crappy outcome a few months later.)

    It doesn’t help that Jim fails to retain any memory of almost every conversation I have with him.

    I’ve tried to gently tell Jim that what he thinks doesn’t matter.  What matters is what is happening.  Him saying something isn’t a big deal does not, in fact, make the issue go away.  But with the power differential there’s only so much I can say.

    Not only that but it’s belittling and insulting while creating an extra burden for the rest of us who have to shoulder the consequences of his avoidance.

    Thoughts on how to react?

    1. neverjaunty*

      Find a new job or department with a non-shitty manager? Failing that, I don’t think you can be gentle with Jim anymore. It’s time to be very direct. “No, this is a big deal because X, Y and Z. We ran into problems on the teapot project when we didn’t get A done.”

      Also, document the hell out of your conversations with Jim, since he magically forgets things that make him look bad. You know, the “as we discussed today, per your instructions you believe we should delay the spout e-discovery and wait for the teapot handle memo to be finished. Let me know if this is not your understanding”, etc. Not only will you have written backup of the magically forgotten conversation, but if higher ups get annoyed about his screw-ups, you have CYA.

      Also, one perk of conflict-avoidant managers is that you can sometimes boss them around. :D

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Also, one perk of conflict-avoidant managers is that you can sometimes boss them around. :D

        And sometimes you can manage for them. “I think it would be best if we did X; read the attached and see what you think. We would need Big Boss’s approval. Do you want me to draft an email for you, since I’ve already done the research?” But whether or not that works depends on the reason he’s being avoidant.

        1. Natalie*

          Although I’d say, based on my own experience, be cautious where this might be overlapping with your co-workers. One of my co-workers does this and the end result is her making decisions on all sorts of things that are correctly my area, basically because she’s more stubborn. It’s really damaged my relationship with both of them.

          1. nofelix*

            It is your boss’s job to coordinate things like this. If overlapping is the only way she can get things done without his help then it’s just the natural result of poor management.

            1. Natalie*

              Sure, but we’re talking about conflict avoidant bosses here. If you’re going to push around or manage that kind of boss, I think it’s worth considering how that will impact your co-workers precisely *because* your boss isn’t going to handle it at all. It’s silly to throw out those relationships because “oh well, it’s Boss’s fault since he won’t manage”.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Oh, I agree. You can’t step into the boss’s shoes to everyone else’s detriment. But you can sometimes do the sargeant-anticipating-the-lieutenant’s-orders thing where necessary to avoid disaster.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      What FD said.

      But if he’s telling you things and then denying them, I’d start doing email recaps after any significant work discussion. It’ll seem like a pain, and he’ll probably protest, but you can just keep saying that as long as you get conflicting instructions, you feel that you need to clarify them with him.

      And try to just ignore it when he downplays things. That might just be a (poor) coping mechanism on his part for dealing with stress. If you need clarification or direction, you need it; he can say something doesn’t matter all he wants, that’s fine, but if he uses that to avoid giving you direction, then ask him point blank “So, you want me to not address X at all?” or “OK, but whether it’s urgent or not, how should I handle Y?”

    3. No Longer Just a Lurker*

      Start emailing him the questions instead of talking to him about it or send a follow-up email with a synapsis of your convo so when the thing blows up you have documentation. If Big Boss is getting fed up maybe take this to him and tell him you are getting conflicting directions or something of that ilk (such as you felt that his directions at a meeting indicated that you/your team should be working towards A but bad manager is telling us to focus on something that doesn’t seem to jive with the company goals).

      Also – your boss sucks so probably time to freshen up that resume.

    4. Natalie*

      AAAAARGH I have a boss like that and it is MADDENING. And I have to agree the only effective solution is probably just leaving.

    5. nofelix*

      When my boss says something isn’t a big deal, it means he doesn’t want to think about it. That doesn’t always mean he’s against the idea, he just wants me to deal with it. Have you tried just proactively taking the steps you’d like to take? e.g. if you feel a response has to written on something, just draft one. Now it’s not a big deal because it’s done. Obviously you need his sign-off eventually, but if he’s wasting time procrastinating decisions it can be more efficient to just cut him out of the early planning stages. I rarely run ideas past my boss any more because nothing would get done.

    6. Vicki*

      The part where he never remembers what you talked about? That’s not going to change and it’s going to interfere with everything else you try.

      You need a new manager.

  2. Pokebunny*

    How to deal with out of state job search?

    Most, if not all, of the advice on AAM assumes that you have a specific city X that you want to relocate to, hence it makes sense to say in your cover letter that you are joining your spouse, family, etc. But what if I don’t have a specific place to relocate, that I’m really just open to go anywhere (or somewhat anywhere)? I don’t have any roots anywhere, and I’m unmarried and have no kids, so I can pretty much pack up and go anywhere as long as there is a nice job. How do I say this without looking like I’m blasting resumes?

    1. finman*

      I would think finding a specific reason to go to regions. I’m looking to get out of the snowbelt for a move to So Cal, I’d really like to live in a smaller city (moving from Chicago to Raleigh), I like the outdoor culture (Denver, Portland, Seattle, etc), I’m looking to move somewhere with a lower cost of living (Texas).

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know what industry you’re in, but I used to work for an educational recruiting firm for independent (private) schools, and you were our ideal candidate. Most people had very specific geographic constraints (“I’m interested in only jobs within a 30-minute drive of where I live” or “I want to go specifically to Los Angeles or San Francisco and nowhere else”). Maybe there are similar recruitment firms in your field? I’d contact them.

    3. OwnedByTheCat*

      We’re in that right now: my tactic has been to express why I’m interested in moving to *that* particular city. For some it’s family. For others its close friends. Yet for others it could be interest in the region (personal or professional). I think just make sure you have a reason!

    4. Not Karen*

      I’ve just said “I’m interested in relocating to the [wherever] area.” They don’t have to know that you’d be just as interested in moving somewhere else!

    5. Marketeer*

      I’m sure you have a reason for the areas you’re looking in, so just let them know in your cover letter.

    6. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      When I did it, I highlighted that it was more about working for the specific organization than the location. Sort of a, I want to come work for you, regardless of where you are headquartered.

    7. Christian Troy*

      Most of my job search is out of state for the same reasons you mention; I am really looking for the RIGHT job more than a specific city. I usually focus more on the job/organization in my cover letter than the city.

      But it just really depends on your field/hiring manager. As I’ve said when this topic gets brought up, some people get weird with out of state candidates and some people are fine with talking and seeing where it goes. It can be hard to predict.

      1. Trill*

        This is my focus too. I explain that I am more interested in finding the right fit in the job and explain what specifically about their position would make me want to move there for it.
        I also am open to going almost anywhere, but I know that I would be happier in a small or medium sized city, not a huge city. So don’t apply to the jobs in the huge mega cities, and I explain my city size preference if I get asked “why do you want to move to ___”.

        Using this approach depends on your field, and how specific you are about job type in your job search. When I am looking for jobs, I am looking for a very very specific job. Relocation is very common in my field. Probably 90% of people relocate, and probably more than 50% have no ties to the area they relocate to. So it really isn’t unusual to apply without a specific geographic location in mind.

        1. Pokebunny*

          Yeah, the jobs I apply to are pretty specific too (IT), only because I’m a recent grad and that’s the only directly related experience I have. Of course, I sing praises about the company, but it’s still a long distance candidacy.

          1. AnotherHRPro*

            For larger companies, being a non-local candidate is not a big deal and won’t raise too much concern as they are used to hiring out of town talent. I recommend focusing on larger companies and stress why that specific job with that specific company are interesting for you.

    8. bridget*

      I’m doing the same thing! I’m actually in the state, but interested in 3 major cities in the state (plus another 1-2 outside). When I’m applying somewhere that only has an office in one of those cities, I just leave out all information about any other city I may be interested in, and add a line or two about why I’m interested in relocating to Seattle, or wherever.

      It gets harder when I apply to a company that may have openings in several offices. I had a friend introduce me to the recruiter at his company, and I told her I’m interested in all three of their offices in my state. Apparently she thought that was weird/I wasn’t really interested in the company. Which was … frustrating, but I can see the point. Being interested in lots of things reads to some people as interested in nothing. But, I didn’t want to just randomly pick a city, and hear back “oh, we don’t have any space for new hires in City X, just City Y. Too bad you didn’t guess that!” So now I try to do a little research to figure out which office is the most likely to have space to hire (note: I’m in a point of my career where these types of cold “do you have a job for me somewhere” emails are reasonable, even if they don’t have a posted opening), and just apply there.

      1. BSharp*

        You might have luck with Not the Droid You are Looking For’s response above: “Sort of a, I want to come work for you, regardless of where you are headquartered.”

        1. bridget*

          That’s a good idea for firms where I actually am interested in all of their offices! This particular firm has dozens of offices all over the world, as well as several more within the state, but in cities that are not interesting to me. I really didn’t think it was that weird to basically say “I’m interested in your offices in [major cities in the state in which I’m licensed to practice law],” but … maybe it was. :)

          1. Jen*

            I’d have said “I’m licensed in [state] and focusing my search on [City A] but Can be flexible on the location for the right role.”

            1. bridget*

              Ooh, good call! I’ll use this next time, and also if the recruiter asks me to explain my scatter-shot approach.

    9. ModernHypatia*

      Both my last two hunts, I was in “There are some places I’d particularly like to end up, but I’m looking for the right job in a reasonable place, and that might be a bunch of places.” (For me, that was most of the northern US: I do badly in heat.) But there were some places I was specifically angling for because I had friends there or I’d visited there and liked it.

      I thought about what people looking at applications might have questions about: if this person takes this job, are they going to be miserable in 6 months and want to leave? Are they going to be comfortable living in [this type of location]?

      And so I’d write a sentence or two in my cover letter (usually in the last paragraph) with a particular reason I was interested in that area. Sometimes it was “I grew up near there, and I’d love to get back closer to family and friends.” Sometimes it was “I’ve had a chance to visit friends there several times, and loved the city.” Sometimes it was “I know you say that [location] is a small town, but I’m currently in an even smaller town, and [location] sounds like just the right step up for me in terms of activities.” Basically anything that indicated I was aware of and had thought about the location, and what my life outside of work might look like.

      I did get more than a couple of interview questions about it, especially in phone interviews, where a prepped answer helped. (Mine was along the lines of “I’m fortunate enough to be able to look at a wide range of locations and options, and I’m really looking for the right fit for both the job and the location. X about your area really interests me.”)

      1. TootsNYC*

        >>I thought about what people looking at applications might have questions about: if this person takes this job, are they going to be miserable in 6 months and want to leave? Are they going to be comfortable living in [this type of location]?<<

        This is so key–to anticipate the concerns of the interviewer, and to address them.

        As long as you address them (and I think it's OK to do so very directly: "I'm sure you're wondering whether you're running a risk that I'll be miserable and leave early, so let me reassure you by saying that I have relocated successfully before, and Des Moines has several things that really appeal to me and make me excited about the idea of moving here"), I think you'll make a good impression.

    10. Irishgal*

      It might also help to demonstrate, via a few sentences, that you’ve researched the location and some idea that it will be a good fit for you out of work hours too as they are likely fearful you would get there, hate the location after 1-2 months and then bail so something like “I’m aware that X activity is really popular in your town/city and that’s something I really want to get into more” or “I’ve been on and am really interested in all the x the town as to offer as there is nothing like that where I currently live and I’m missing it”

      1. Pokebunny*

        Great call. I sent out a few apps to the Chicago area, and in each one I mentioned about the improv scene, since it’s something I am involved in. Hitting a stump for other cities though. I’ll have to find out what is fun about other cities.

  3. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Anyone had an update from AlligatorSky? Months ago now, hoping things improved and the job continued working out.

  4. long time poster, first time reader*

    I am looking for some advice.
    I told an acquaintance about an opening in my office and she applied.
    We had the interviews and I played a minor role in one section of the
    interview (a role play).
    I have no power really to decide who does or doesn’t get hired, but
    I feel like I should send her an email? Is that something that’s typically
    done? Should I say good luck and let her know that I’m not involved in
    the hiring process? Should I offer to tell her about other positions,
    not necessarily in my office, that I hear about? I don’t think she’s
    actively looking for a new job, but since we worked together previously,
    I’m pretty sure she wants to leave her current place.

    To make things more complicated, it seems that another coworker went to
    school with this person and doesn’t think highly of her. If this
    acquaintance got the position, she’d be taking over for the coworker that
    knew her.

    I’ve read some of the posts here that talk about friends and acquaintances
    working together or interviewing. But, I would like the opinions of others.

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      Do you know why that coworker doesn’t think highly of her? If he’s leaving, and she’d be replacing him, does ti even matter what he really thinks?

      1. long time poster, first time reader*

        I was given a quick summary of the reason. It’s something that’s cultural (imo), rather than, I don’t know…pure incompetence or something like that.
        I assume it matters to the leaver because another coworker is a bit of a gossip and I don’t think she wants to be the subject of any conversations about her past after she leaves…Or, maybe there are other reasons?

    2. Tsalmoth*

      I wonder if you meant to reverse the “poster” and “reader” in your name field?
      As to your question, you should definitely send her an email wishing her luck and letting her know you’re not involved in the hiring process (you probably should have mentioned it sooner, to be honest, and I’m surprised she didn’t ask). I’d avoid the offer of informing her about other positions until a decision has been made, as it might imply that she didn’t get the job.

      I’m not sure how her former schoolmate will really matter at this stage (in the sense that there’s not much you can do about it).

      1. long time poster, first time reader*

        That’s true about telling her about other positions. I sent her an email in December just to see how she was doing. But it had been almost a year since I contacted her, and I feel a little weird about being quiet until she’s contacted.

    3. fposte*

      I think you’re trying to take on a little too much here. I wouldn’t actually send her a good luck email at this point, since you were present in the interview; it looks too much, no matter what you say, like somebody in the hiring committee has a favorite.

      And the person who doesn’t like her can rep for himself; if he thinks it’s worth telling the hiring committee, he’ll tell them.

      Let this one go now. You did a nice thing by telling her, but it doesn’t mean you’re responsible for her or the process.

      1. long time poster, first time reader*

        I was contacted by a friend for the position I’m in now (they were leaving), and I didn’t hear anything from them before or after the interview. Neither of them were present for my interview, however.
        After I was officially hired, I found out what they knew about my interview and the process. I was planning to meet her for dinner at some point independently of this open position. When and if that happens, I wonder about how to talk about the interview…

        1. fposte*

          The answer is “Don’t.” “I’m not involved in the decision, but it’s still not appropriate for me to talk about it since I was there–I’m sure you understand.”

  5. Meganly*

    So, I would love some advice. My department has terrible turnover, almost entirely with new hires. 1 in 6 of our people in training are fired for taking too long to onboard and it is a huge drain on time and resources. Our training is super, super intense, because there are about a million and a half itty-bitty little standards you need to learn, and only about half of them are documented (I am working on fixing that part). Total training time is about 6 months to a year, however, it’s expected that a trainee will manage to do our easiest process by one month in. It’s also a really intense, paternalistic environment and I have done what I can about that (I was the person who wrote in about trainees not being allowed to sit with other designers at lunch a long while back) but there is only so much I can do. HOWEVER, I am sitting in on three interviews next week and I would LOVE some advice on how to find a person who will fit in well in this ridiculous environment.

    Whoever ends up being hired I am going to be training, and I have failed 4/4 times so far. To be completely frank, I’m not very good at it (and the pressure of someone’s livelihood balancing on my skill literally keeps me up at night, making things worse); however, acting as a trainer was a requirement of my being hired full-time, so there’s no wiggling out of it until I get a job somewhere else. I interviewed my last trainee and I thought she seemed like a bright, driven young woman who would really do well, but instead she was very needy, forgot/ignored instructions, and made nonstop mistakes. So clearly, I’m not great at interviewing either, lol.

    TL;DR: My job is a pain in the ass to learn and I suck at teaching it, but I’m interviewing the poor soul I’m going to train next week. Please help me figure out how to interview someone who can survive this mess.

    1. finman*

      Really ask how people best handle learning processes. Everyone learns better different ways, I prefer to observe and write my own notes while others I have trained prefer to have a document to follow to the T and try to work through it themselves. Also, try to come up with some questions that would let you learn if they are detail oriented. Maybe asking about a task they had to do with precision and how they approached that task.

    2. Silver Radicand*

      I’d be up front with your interviewees about what you’ll be expecting: Up to a year of highly intense training; highly detailed work required; some processes/standards not yet documented (see below).
      Also, is there anyway a practice version of what you do could be made so you could test candidates on that and they could have a taste of what is required?

      4/4 is beginning to be a trend. I know you said your training is not the best, but I’d really make sure it is as good as possible, but that doesn’t all need to be on you. Maybe it would be worth having your next trainee learn the process/standards by actually assisting with writing the documentation? It would give some clarity to them as to what exactly are the standards and would give you some feedback on what is getting absorbed by them.

    3. Jules the First*

      I’ve spent a lot of time working in environments with a lot of material to master before you’re really useful ad not a lot of training. When hiring, I tend to use the term ‘deep end learning’ in the sense of ‘we need our new recruits to be capable swimmers, because we’re going to chuck you into the diving tank on day 1 with nothing but a leaky waterwing.’ I usually also add that if you’re struggling, you need to be the kind of person who can troubleshoot your own work and make suggestions for where you need extra help, because this team doesn’t have time to offer a lot of support. If we see you flailing around in the water, we’re going to assume you’re waving unless you explicitly say ‘help! Shark!’

      Make sure you are open and blunt during hiring, and maybe see if you can design an exercise that will test how well people do this during the interview process. For example, I get new recruits to critique a sample document of the kind they’ll be expected to produce and tell me everything they think is wrong with it.

    4. fposte*

      Can you talk to some people who *did* make it past that phase? How did they approach it, what differences might they have observed in people who were struggling, etc.? Right now what I’m seeing you write is roughly “Somebody successful, not like W, X, Y, and Z”–but you could add, “Somebody successful, *like* A, B, and C” and concretize what you’re shooting for.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I was going to say, if you haven’t done a careful analysis of those who have succeeded to see what they have in common, that’s a great place to start.

      2. Froggy*

        I was also going to suggest this. Ask people who have recently made it what was most helpful to them, and potentially which of their qualities helped them be most successful (for consideration in hiring).

        You can also ask their trainers regarding what steps, above and beyond, they may have done to help their trainees be successful.

      3. TootsNYC*

        Ask some of those people to help you think of QUESTIONS you can ask in the interview, or types of experiences that they think others might have that would be indicators. And what personality traits do they think are best (convert that into an interview question like “Would you say you are someone who memorizes rules or who looks them up? Where do you fall on the spectrum?”)

        And there’s this: “Someone who’s successful at this job will pick up and memorize small details easily. How do you learn small details? Can you tell us about a time when you had to learn a lot of things quickly?”

    5. Lily in NYC*

      I can really relate to this – I have come to realize that while I am great at screening resumes, I stink at actually interviewing people and I HATE training people and am not very good at it. What about if you speak to one of your coworkers who has been successful with his/her trainees and find out what they ask as interview questions?

    6. nofelix*

      Examine why past employees were fired and adjust your training regime to compensate. Training for higher accuracy is different from teaching better theoretical understanding, for instance.

      Don’t assume that everyone who made it through proves the system works. Check on how they succeeded. There might be some trends, like they luckily avoided any big projects for their first year or they had a good mentor.

      In interviews, ask for past experience error-checking their own work. Consider whether the level of detail and requirement for accuracy in what they’ve done will match the position.

    7. Glod Glodsson*

      I second fposte’s comment.
      We’ve had a similar problem. We solved part of it by changing our application process for that particular job: we added a morning during which our applicants got some tests that mirrored our way of working. We didn’t want them to get it right immediately, but we wanted to see how they approached these tests. So the focus was on why they decided to prioritize task A, or did they ask a team member for help after we specifically said they could? Did they become stressed or did they enjoy the tasks? It also gave the applicants a much better idea of what would actually be expected of them. It’s extra work but since we implemented this, our number of failed new hires has gone down to almost 0%.

      This might not be an option, though. I’d definitely analyze where it went wrong exactly in the past and if you can revise the training in such a way that it starts by focusing (more/only) on the parts that the new employee really needs to know in the first months.

      As to your training stress, I hear you! This might be something to bring up with your manager. Some people really enjoy training others and are more successful at it. However, please don’t feel to responsible for success. It sounds like your employer is asking for an awful lot, so that’s not on you!

      1. TootsNYC*

        Yes, I would suggest working with some other people to develop some sort of test that will tease out their ability to do something similar to what they will do.

    8. CM*

      So, I think you have two issues here. First, hiring the right person. Would it be possible for you to give them a mini-training exercise during the interview process, so you can see how they could handle it? For example, send them something a few days ahead of time, and tell them to be prepared to discuss/role play it at the interview? And second, I think it’s great that you’re so candid about your challenges with training people — so, is there some way to fix that? Can you get some training or coaching? Have someone else work with you on training the person? Use a different approach that you could crib from a colleague? Work more closely with your trainees during the training period? I don’t know, but I’d probably start by consulting colleagues who also do this type of training or have successful gone through the training program, and/or your boss.

    9. Heather*

      When the training happens, is it an active learning situation? Like you do, then they do. You show them how to find info, then they show you how to get back o that info? Having clear written guidelines (like you’re making) really do help.

      1. LQ*

        Coming at this from a training perspective that is absolutely an element, are you using good adult learning principles? Having them do activities is so valuable. Can you get them on board and competent on one thing before you move them onto doing the next thing? Making sure they understand why they are doing the thing they way they are. (Telling people that they have to do a boring and tedious task and it is just the way it has to be is a good way to drive off a lot of people.)

        Though I’d guess the hiring is the majority of this issue still. What is it that the people you are hiring really need to be able to do? (Are you asking for a college degree when you don’t need one? Are you asking for creative people when you are going to crush people’s creativity?)

  6. Nervous Accountant*

    A few weeks ago I posted about a coworker that I felt super uncomfortable around. I used to be friendly but then stopped. I thought he got the hint so I started to loosen up…..but now I realized that if I show even just a tiny bit of friendliness, like even a “lol” in an IM, he takes it as a hint to…i don’t even know how to describe it. He doesn’t say anything inappropriate or make dirty jokes at all, but its just..uncomfortable. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way and in fact a former coworker told me that it’s about damn time I saw what everyone else had seen months ago.

    The staring continues and the constant g-chats continue, but hes stopped approaching me. He IMs me, and i’ll respond to work related things in a very brusque, professional manner. In the few rare instances he did approach me, he would speak in a very VERY low voice, which normally wouldn’t bug me but this time it really bugged me when he did. And this may make me sound like a jerk, but he was complimenting me on my work etc and it just felt..WEIRD. Not too long ago I’d be baffled at “why would you get upset at a complimetn” but I’m looking at the other side of it–it doesn’t feel genuine, it just sounds like something to butter me up and not at all genuine. Does that make sense?

    The thing is we’re broken up into teams so I HAVE to talk to him about work stuff–even my supervisor pointed it out “you can ask him stuff too” (in a very friendly but clear way if that matters) so I can’t avoid speaking to him, and I can’t transfer “out” so to speak. I’m worried that he may spin this around and complain to my supervisor about me not being friendly or communicate enough and I’m going to be on the wrong side of this.

    (the root of this particular worry if it matters—A few months back there had been a misunderstanding with a client and scheduling and our respective roles in this, and he complained to my supervisor. Supervisor sent me an email which I felt was accusatory and not at all taking my perspective into consideration whatsoever..I had responded but it was brushed off. So I’m afraid of this happening again, except about my “attitude” which I feel is a lot harder to defend.)

    My spouse says I’m overthinking it, and the more I think about it, the worse off I’ll be. I think what complicates it (in my mind) is that I was on the other side of this last year–when everyone was friendly but then turned cold and I couldn’t figure out why. Now i’m paranoid and wondering if *I* was coming off as creepy and weird to them too. I don’t do what he does (at least I don’t think I dO?) but maybe I did other stuff (FWIW, I don’t feel the chilliness and unfriendliness anymore). Maybe I’m thinking too much about this and giving it too much importance.

    1. Clouds in My Coffee*

      Don’t ignore your gut. This guy is creeping you out and that’s an important feeling, one that you should not try to rationalize or invalidate. Don’t compare it to your previous experience of being frozen out. Staring and constant IMing is creepy and it’s continuing. Have you told your boss about the staring?

      As for the IMing, is that a communication tool everyone uses? Could you move some of it over to email so there’s a more easily tracked record and force him to communicate in a more “official” way via email, something that you can refer to and forward to your boss if need be? As in, “I saw your IM about [topic]. Here’s the way I’d approach it…”

      I’d stop responding to IMs and move everything to email. Don’t be brusque, but do be cordial and to the point. If you see him staring, say loudly, “You keep staring at me. Is there something you need?” If he comes over and talks to you in a low voice about how he likes your work, reply loudly, “Thank you. Is there something you need help with right now?”

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah, I think I need to stop comparing my experience.

        The staring only happens in the morning when I come in but doesnt’ do it as much throughout the day.

        Everyone uses the IM for work and nonwork. He and I cmmunicate over email and IM, he’ll send me something to do. I find that I just do it right away so he has no reason to complain about me. Im doing everything I can to be cordial and communicate well, wtihout giving an opening for creepiness.

        The two instances he talked t me, I said it loudly and clearly I can’t understand you! and made it clear that I wasn’t going to come close to him to hear him. I feel bad for even pointing it out, bc low talking itself isn’t creepy or weird.

        1. Sadsack*

          I see nothing wrong with telling someone you can’t hear him. Also, maybe you should tell him you prefer requests or instructions about things he needs you to do to be via email so you can keep track of your work better. If he continues to IM you those things, just write back asking him to send you an email instead. I would do this every single time. Good luck!

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          The very first thing I thought of when you mentioned this creeper whispering was that that’s a grooming tactic to get victims to initiate the personal space violation.

      2. CM*

        +1 to everything Cloud in My Coffee said. I think the way to deal with creepy people is just to keep them at arms’ length and treat them completely neutrally and professionally at all times. Don’t be friendly or nice, or snippy either. Be a robot. If he starts making trouble with your supervisor, continue being very matter-of-fact and professional. And PLEASE, don’t worry about what this person thinks of you, or whether you’re a bad person for worrying about this.

    2. Amber T*

      I know there has been at least one post about a creep where that OP couldn’t quite put her finger on it either. But you’re feeling creeped out for a reason, and your feelings are valid. I’ll try to see if I can find that post because it sounds very similar to what your describing. In the meantime, here’s what I would do for some of the situations:

      Random compliments – a quick thank you and change of topic.
      “Hey great job taking the lead on Project X.”
      “Thank you, where do we stand on Project Y?”

      “It was really awesome the way you handled Client X’s problem.”
      “Thank you, have you heard from Client Y?”

      You’re ‘accepting’ the compliment, so you’re not being rude, but quickly changing the topic so you’re not lingering on the uncomfortable “let me tell you how amazing you are.”

      Quiet talkers creep me the bleep out (if the quietness isn’t for a legit reason). In this case, I see it as a power play, either to get you to physically move closer to him (so he’s not technically invading your private space) or giving him a ‘legit’ excuse to invade yours (it’s not legit!). Assuming he’s not whispering about something confidential or private (something that should be kept kinda quiet), I’d ask him to repeat it once or twice then call him out on his quietness (not in a rude way, but let him know he’s talking to quietly).

      *mumble mumble*
      “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you, can you repeat that?
      *mumble mumble*
      *Look confused* “Why are you speaking so quietly? Can you say it again at a normal volume?”

      *mumble mumble*
      “I’m sorry, I have a headache right now and my hearing seems off. Can you email me that?”

      Also, how’s your relationship with your supervisor, and is she also creepster’s supervisor? You might want to bring up either your uncomfortableness with creepster and/or how you might be coming off to people.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        If it was posted a few weeks ago, that was me… I posted under another name to be anonymous. But then on the weekend thread I posted under my regular name, and then responded with the name that was supposed to be anonymous, so I scrapped using an anonn name.

        I usually say “thanks” and then stop talking but then he keeps saying stuff (this is over chat). In person, I just avoid making eye contact but try to keep my tone neutral.

        Supervisor supervises both of us but I dont’ get to talk to supervisor as much as I’d like to…I dont’ want to be on the offense and bring it up, but I sure as hell would need a good defense if it ever comes up.

        1. Amber T*

          It was one that Alison answered, I think a few month ago. I’m pretty sure there was a follow up too where creepster ‘resigned’ and invited all the 20 something females out for a goodbye party. I can’t find it but I’ll look harder!

          When you say he keeps talking in chat, do you mean IM? I don’t think you’re obligated to continue talking through chat once your part of the conversation is done (which, at “thanks,” it is). We use IMing a lot and if I’m talking with a coworker about non-work related things, sometimes the conversation will just end on one of our parts because we got pulled into something else. I’d only answer his IMs if it’s a work related question.

          And I also agree with Clouds – if he stares at you, look back (making eye contact) and ask what he needs. Hopefully he’ll fumble and look away. Continue this and don’t back down (there’s a reason a lot of animals consider prolonged eye contact a challenge). If he is truly an idiot and says something creepy (“I just like looking at you” – it’s happened), pause for a beat and just utter a nice, good “Wow.” Never underestimate the power of “wow.” I’d also follow up with an email later in the day, probably right before you go home, saying “You staring at me and saying ‘____’ made me extremely uncomfortable. Please refrain from doing that.” That way you start a paper trail too.

          1. OhNo*

            Excellent advice, especially regarding the staring. Often, staring right back and calling them out on the behavior (politely and professionally, of course) is the best way to get it to stop. Bonus if you can do it in such a way that other people notice, like saying, “Excuse me Jane, sorry to stop you, but Rictus has been staring at me for a few minutes. Rictus, was there something urgent you needed from me?”

            Also, regarding the IMs: can you close the chat window? It always feels super awkward to me to stare at a chat message from someone else without responding to it. I’ve gotten in the habit lately where I decide in the first few seconds whether or not I want/need to respond. If I don’t, then I close out of the chat window. It makes me feel a lot better not to have to see it.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        That’s exactly what bothers me about the low talking but I couldn’t figure out how to articulate it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “Please use your normal speaking voice.”

          You don’t need to have a reason. HONEST! you really don’t.

          After second instance:
          “I have asked you to use your normal speaking voice. I will not answer whispering. When you are ready to speak normally, I will listen, but otherwise I have work I must do.”

          1. Alma*

            If you have to ask him twice to raise bis voice (or if he seems to take a long time to get to the point) , respond in your professional voice, “Rictus, I cannot understand what you are saying to me about Project X. Please email me instructions, your suggestions, your findings at your earliest convenience. I won’t misunderstanding something detailed in an email. Your stopping by my desk interrupts what I am working on.”

    3. MT*

      I was in a very similar position to you with regards to working in a dysfunctional place for just under a year and only giving two weeks notice (except my coworkers were very supportive and interested in the new position).

      However, the thing with a dysfunctional workplace is that it hangs on a very tender balance, and one person leaving – even in an entry-level position – will likely mean more imbalance, work, and difficulty for those left behind. It’s not surprising they weren’t jumping for joy. I wouldn’t say it’s personal towards you; rather, they’re likely thinking about their own upcoming weeks with yet another wrench in the system to work around.

    4. G*

      I agree you should trust your gut. These types of things can escalate over time. I’d try to get some sort of documentation of things if you can, such as screen shots of uncomfortable IM conversations. It’s tough now because all your have are your feelings and your manager will see that as subjective and may not respond well to it. Any kind of documentation could help you if it came to that. But you may be able to bring it up in the future, say during a review. Or when your manager was implying that you could and should ask this coworker questions that might have been an opportunity to explain why you were avoiding doing that. But, depending on your boss an “I’ve been receiving attention from X that has been making me uncomfortable and as a result I’m been trying to limit my day to day contract with him.” might not go over well.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Okay, first shed that whole train of thought about your coworkers thinking you were weird. It’s not helping you, matter of fact it is harmful to you because that is not the issue that you are trying to resolve. It’s a waste of your energy. It’s over , let it go. FWIW, I think your coworkers are weird- but they do not care what I think. ;)

      You need to put your foot down with this guy. Match his level. So when you catch him staring, you can say “What is the problem?” He says, blah, blah, blah. “Well, you looked like you wanted to say something, excuse me, I have work here.” At some point, you will have asked him enough times that you can just say, “You’re staring again!” Keep this sentence in mind:”It’s not appropriate to stare at other people.” Pull that sentence out if you need to.

      Can you move something so that it is between you and him that would make it harder to stare at you?

      Yeah, the compliments thing sounds like grooming to me. I would not even thank him. i would say “It’s up to my boss to decide about my work, not anyone else.”

      I like the idea about switching to email rather than IMs. “Listen, Weird Dude, you send me a lot of IMs, more than most people. So I need you to collect up your questions, comments and send them to me as a batch in email. I will deal with them in batches.” If the emails are weird, start printing them out and showing your boss.

      This has gone on way too long. When we let behaviors go on like this, it gets harder and harder to make the person stop. Always remember the rule of three. You see a behavior three times you have a pattern. You do not need for that behavior to go on for months or years. All you need is three times, then you tell the person to stop. So a person does X to you three times in one day, you have your pattern and you can feel confident in knowing that you must tell them to stop.

  7. top secret*

    Any advice on how to confront someone who you are on otherwise good terms with about his use of the word “kiddo” but only to refer to females in the office? It’s been driving me crazy, especially since we’ve recently had more women hired and it is standing out to me as definitely a gender thing and not an age thing.

    I don’t even think he realizes he does it – I just don’t know how to approach it!

    1. ElCee*

      Same problem here, so I’m interested in reading responses.
      Also this is neither here nor there, but Chip calls his wife Joanna “kiddo” on that HGTV show Fixer Upper and it drives me insane. I know every couple has their pet names but that one just strikes me as so paternalistic.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I thought of that too and it drives me bananas too!

        top secret, I would try to make a joke out of it maybe? call him “kiddo” back? point it out in a friendly manner and see if that helps him realize what he’s doing?

        1. hbc*

          I definitely agree to use it right back at him. Call someone like this out, they’ve got Reasons why it’s totally fine. Use it right back at them, and they feel the full weight of the term. And what are they going to do, argue that it’s fine when they use it?

          I successfully cured a male coworker who called women “dear” using this method.

          1. Khal E. Essi*

            I love this! I wish I had thought of it when a senior-level colleague (male) kept calling me (younger female) “pumpkin.” Instead, I brought it up organically with my boss and then it stopped, so I think she said something to him.

      2. bridget*

        barf. I think I could only stomach something like that coming from my actual grandfather or quirky uncle, or something.

      3. alter_ego*

        I watched a marathon of that show with my mom while I was home for Christmas, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever hated strangers more. If I never hear the words “ship-lap” again, I can die happy.

      4. Mae North*

        I was watching an episode at the weekend where Chip was calling her “Baby Girl” as well, which just made me cringe.

      1. Vee*

        The person who is calling us “kiddo” is a higher up, but we have a pretty non-bureaucratic office. The people he is doing it to are all on the similar level as me, non managers, but professional staff.

    2. Dawn*

      “Yo Fergus, whenever you talk to women you refer to them as ‘kiddo’. Don’t do that- it’s infantilizing in the extreme and makes you look like a total toolbag.” And then if he doesn’t stop, start calling him something completely ridiculous like “Little Lord Fauntleroy” every time you see him and every time you hear him call a woman “kiddo.”

      *Probably* not the most professional way to handle it, but that’s what I do if I was in your shoes and was on good terms with the guy.

    3. Florida*

      “Bob, I know you mean well, but it really bothers me when you call me Kiddo. Would you mind calling me Top Secret? It’s really what I prefer. Thanks.”

      Focus on him calling you by your name, not what he calls everyone else in the office. If other people are called nicknames and it doesn’t bother them, then let it go. But if it bothers you (it would bother me) when he calls you that, then focus on that. If you point out that it bothers you, it’s likely he will quit calling others that.

      Also, let him save face (I know you mean well…).

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        Yes, you could even treat it like he’s just mispronounced your name or something:

        “Thanks, kiddo!”
        “It’s Daisy, actually”

    4. Sandy*

      Just come out and say it.

      I had to do this with a colleague who insisted on calling all the women in the office “girls”, as in “the girls in the Spout section”. Never mind that two out of the three of us are in our late 30s and the third is in her late 50s.

      Don’t beat around the bush, and don’t try to make downplay it or make it into a joke.

      I went with “Jim, I’m not comfortable with you referring to us as “girls”. We are women or colleagues. I’d appreciate it if you cut it out with the “girls” references.”

      He got the message pretty quick. I had to deal with a few oblique references to it for a couple weeks afterwards, but he got the point and he hasn’t done it since.

      1. Someone Else*

        I have this exact same thing happening, and older coworker calls me ‘girl’, I am in my mid 30’s, it drives me bonkers! I have nonchalantly told him I am NOT a girl, e it off but it doesn’t seem to work. I don’t think he means anything by it, but it drives me crazy!

        1. TootsNYC*

          At this point, I’d be more direct: “Please don’t call me ‘girl.’ I don’t think you realize how infantilizing it is. I’m sure you don’t want to get a reputation for speaking down to the women in the office. And it really bothers me. Call me by my name. “

    5. fposte*

      I wouldn’t think of it as a confrontation. This is somebody you’re on good terms with, who probably means the epithet affectionately, and would likely really want to know if it wasn’t being heard that way.

      “Fergus, you know I love you [or not, if that’s not a vernacular that suits you), but you realize you don’t call the men ‘kiddo,’ right?”

      1. top secret*

        This is what I have been leaning towards. I’ve thought about mentioning it to his boss who is fairly senior in the company and female (I’m on good terms with her), but more for advice. I’m worried it might get blown out of proportion though.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Don’t do that. If you like Fergus you’ll give him a chance to correct it before taking it to his boss. Always go to the person first. Always. This isn’t a confrontation, it’s a small course correction. “Hey Fergus, did you know that you refer to all the women as kiddo? It makes it look like you are treating them differently than the men. I’d hate for people to get the wrong idea about you.”

      2. TootsNYC*

        Exactly! Confrontation is not the only way to approach things.

        Think of it as alerting him to something he doesn’t realize.
        “I bet you don’t realize you do this. It really bothers me; I think it creates an atmosphere of disrespect for women employees. I hope you’ll think about changing that habit.

    6. Granite*

      A little while back another well over 30 female coworker and I were informally chatting in a common area, and a young (~25ish) male coworker came in and asked if he could join “us girls.” I said “Sure, as long as you don’t call us girls.”

      I have no patience for that crap. You shouldn’t either. Next time he says it, call him on it. You should feel free to use more tact than I did, of course. :)

    7. Jules the First*

      You could try calling him something in return (say, Pookie, or Sugarplum) and use it as an opener to discuss that calling female staff kiddo is equally demeaning…but that might just be me being passive-aggressive.

      1. top secret*

        in the past, I’ve jokingly said “grandpa” but it still throws me off guard when he uses it that I can’t always remember to use it!

      2. Daisy Steiner*

        Or maybe just use ‘kiddo’ back. It might make him realise that it’s something he only thinks should be said to women if he feels awkward when you use it back to him.

        OTOH he might think that means you’re ok with it…. so I don’t know.

    8. Grey*

      No need to make it personal or complicated. When you’re done talking with him, just say “oh, and by the way, most women don’t like ‘kiddo’.” Any decent man will appreciate advice on how to speak to women. As a man, I know I would (and have).

    9. Alma*

      Respond the same way you would when someone tries to nickname the name by which you prefer to be addressed: “My name is Henrietta.” (silence – with a neutral relaxed expression. )

      Any comeback from him could be met by “I thought you couldn’t remember my name and we’re embarrassed. ” or “Henrietta is how I prefer to be addressed.”

  8. Good_Intentions*

    No congratulations when I left job

    After a very rocky 10 months working at a highly dysfunctional nonprofit, I gave the mandatory two-weeks’ notice in writing.

    The reaction, or lack thereof, truly surprised me. Of the nearly dozen people who knew of my departure, only three congratulated me on the position. Most of my former colleagues just acted as though my dog died: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”

    I cannot help but feel a bit hurt by the lack of professionalism and standard etiquette. I did tell people of my impending leave and offer to assist them with anything they needed–informational, files, updates, contacts, etc. My efforts yielded nothing but generic sympathy responses.

    Is this a common response for someone resigning from a troubled organization and/or someone leaving after less than a year?

    1. Vee*

      Is it possible that they like working with you and are really just going to miss you? People leaving a job is often bittersweet, so it might be difficult to offer a heartfelt congratulations. It is also possible that they envy your position if the workplace is so dysfunctional. I wouldn’t take it to heart.

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

      I think it depends on the organization and even the team or department you’re on. I was with my old company for 10 years and when I left, a few people (outside of friends) acknowledged it, but not anyone I worked with directly. There was no card, no “Sorry to see you go,” no cake. Nothing. Just don’t let the door hit you, pretty much. It was quite disheartening and strengthened my resolve to leave.

    3. Mark in Cali*

      I don’t think a 10-month stint requires a congrats for an office you didn’t hold in high regard anyway.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Honestly, the responses you got sound pretty normal to me and certainly not against any kind of etiquette. Are people being outright rude (i.e. “Good! Get out!”) or just not enthusiastic? The former would be ridiculous, the latter is simply fine. If you’ve had a rocky time there and you aren’t staying a whole year, your colleagues may not feel as though they have enough of a personal relationship with you to be excited for you (or not excited). “I’m sorry to hear that,” is better than, “Good riddance,” you know? Offering to help with the transition is standard and really requires no more than a, “Thank you, I’ll let you know.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Given the givens, the response seems in keeping with what I have seen.

        Behind your back, OP, they are saying, “Yeah, now, another one left. Peach. We get to train another one, and meanwhile cover the work load also. Think management will ever thank us? God, we are so stupid for staying here. OP is right. We should move on also.”

        Not that I would know this to be actual conversations or anything….

    5. Master Bean Counter*

      Yes. There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm about me resigning my former position. And nobody really wanted to see what I had been doing or learn how to do it.
      Just nail that door shut now that you are gone so you are never tempted to go back there again.

    6. T3k*

      This sounds fairly normal to me for a small organization. The girl who’s job I took over (she got offered a better job elsewhere) actually got all emotional and cried about leaving this place and they were sad to see her go because, as she put “they’re like family.” Honestly, to me, they’re they type of family I wouldn’t want to see, even on holidays. But hearing “sorry to see you go” is far better than them getting mad and yelling at your betraying them and such.

    7. themmases*

      In this context “I’m sorry to hear that” isn’t sympathy. People are saying they’re sorry to see you go, and there is really nothing rude about that. I think it would be unusual to get a more gushing response than that after having only known people for 10 months.

      You may be reading too much into this due to not liking the place or the people if it was so dysfunctional; it sounds like it’s a good thing that you were able to find a new opportunity so quickly!

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Thanks for the perspective!

        I believe you are correct that I may be over analyzing my former colleagues’ responses because of my own unhappiness and the instability of the organization.

        I appreciate your insight.

    8. Kyrielle*

      Unless the tone was clearly otherwise, I’d take “I’m sorry to hear that” as a variant of “Gee, we’ll miss you” – they’re thinking not gee, you must be happy to get out of here (especially if some of them don’t see it as dysfunctional!), but gosh, they’ll be sad to see you go (whether that’s because of work that will land on them, because they liked you, or both is hard to say).

      That’s not a terrible response to get.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Thanks for sharing your take on “I’m sorry to hear that,” which I took as a generic sympathy line, not a variation on “we’ll miss you.”

    9. hbc*

      What would your first reaction be if your awesome neighbor was moving away? While you might be happy for them, I’m sure you’d be thinking about how much it’ll stink to not have someone you trust to feed your cat or chat over the fence with or whatever. Now imagine your reaction when your terrible neighbor says they’re moving. “Oh, that’s great, I’m so happy for you (and me)!”

      “Sorry to hear that” is actually more of a compliment than “congratulations.”

    10. Lily in NYC*

      I am so confused by your reaction to this. Your coworkers are simply telling you that they are sorry to see you go. That’s a compliment.

    11. Sparkly Librarian*

      Their reactions, as described by you, seem predictable and normal to me. Perhaps the disconnect is in the framing of your news. Are you announcing that you’re resigning (to which the polite answer would be “Sorry to hear that; we’ll miss you”) or that you have a fabulous new position elsewhere (which might be more likely to garner congratulations)?

    12. YouAreHere*

      Honestly, when someone is leaving a job for reasons other than a promotion, it doesn’t tend to warrant a congratulations and it’s rather naive of you to feel otherwise. When people find out that someone is leaving, especially after such a short amount of time, the first instinct isn’t, “oh good for them!” but “great, now we’ll have to hire someone else and train them while covering the workload”.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I have told colleagues I enjoyed working with who were leaving, “I’m happy for you, but sad for us.”

  9. Amethyst Marie*

    Two weeks ago, I submitted an app on day 5 for a 30-day posting. I’ve applied to several other positions elsewhere since, and with more practice, refined my resume and cover letter. I wanted to resubmit my older app… they said “if you want to update your materials, you need to withdraw your current application and submit a new application… but the system tells me it’s in processing status and cannot be withdrawn. I know there’s nothing I can do anymore, but any tips on moving on? My husband thinks I’m making this too big a deal.

    My updated resume/CL is slightly better… I just added some performance numbers in the resume and devoted a few more “show” sentences about my work ethic and awesomesauceness. But I keep wishing that I could re-submit the updated one.

    1. Jules the First*

      You are overthinking this. Do NOT submit a revised application – it will make the hirin manager uncomfortable. The option to resubmit is there in case you do something really stupid, like forgetting to attach your CV, or accidentally uploading a PDF with photos of your kids…

    2. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

      Unless your resume was updated to add the fact that you cured cancer or won a Pulitzer in the last 25 days, it’s very unlikely to make a difference – don’t overthink it. Sure, your new materials might be slightly better, but it doesn’t sound like anything you changed is going to be a dealbreaker in one direction or the other. To quote the Disney song that has been stuck in my head for, like, a year now – “Let it gooooooo! Let it goooooooooooooo!!!!!!” :-)

    3. Glod Glodsson*

      I think most people who job hunt have to deal with this – you apply to a job and think “Wow, this line is perfect!” or “Did I forgot to mention that I have this skill?” or whatever. And then you think back on all the jobs you applied to where you didn’t use that upgraded version… but in your case it sounds more like fine tuning than anything else so I’d let it go. Alternatively you might call or mail the company and ask if it’s still possible to resubmit. But that might just make you seem unsure of yourself.

    4. So Very Anonymous*

      I do think you’re overthinking this, but look at it this way: if you get an interview, you can use your “better” material for that.

      I mentioned awhile back (on the thread where the LW wanted to ding people who applied at the last minute for jobs) that this kind of thing is why I often wait until the deadline to submit my application materials — in case something cool develops that I’ll want to mention, and/or so that I can feel like I’ve submitted my best application. And even then I still have “oh rats, I could have done XYZ better” moments. It’s just how things are, I think.

  10. Poppy*

    A friend of mine got a lead on some open positions from his GF. He and his GF mutually agreed who would apply for what, so they wouldn’t be in direct competition. Now an internal recruiter is pressuring him to apply for a position on his no-go list. How can he professionally explain why he doesn’t want to apply, without jeopardizing his chances for other positions at the same company?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      In his place, I would just say that my girlfriend is applying for the same job and he doesn’t want to compete with her. I think that’s a valid reason; I can’t imagine going directly up against a friend, much less my partner, unless I reallllly want the job. Then that would require some delicate maneuvering.

    2. GuitarLady*

      I think another way to go about this is for the guy to talk to his girlfriend about it and explain the situation to her. My guess is he’d allow an exception of the tables were flipped, so I’d imagine she’d provide the same courtesy given the circumstances. Otherwise, it sounds like there’s not such a healthy relationship going on there. OTOH, he could simply wait it out and the application period will expire. He could have easily gotten caught up applying for things that “interest him more” as far as the recruiter knows.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, good point…it might make sense for him to mention to his GF that this recruiter wants him for that position, and if it wasn’t one of her top choices maybe they can “swap”. Or both apply, because the whole noncompete thing doesn’t seem very smart…what if she applies and he doesn’t, and they won’t hire her anyway, but would have hired him if he applied?

        1. Amy UK*

          It seems like that latter scenario is exactly what they’re trying to avoid. If he gets a job that she really wanted, they’ll never know if she would have got it if he hadn’t applied (ie was she completely not under consideration anyway, or would she have got further in the process if he hadn’t been so successful).

          It’s easy to say “Oh well, if he’s best for the job then he should have it” but it would take a very mature person not to feel even a tiny bit resentful that a friend or lover gets a job they were competing for as well. My friends and I are all job hunting in the same field at the moment, and if one of them got a job I’d set my heart on that they weren’t as passionate about, I’d take it pretty hard even if I got over it eventually.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      He doesn’t have to explain. “No, thank you” is a complete sentence.

      If he is REALLY desperate and doesn’t want to piss off even a pushy, obnoxious internal recruiter, maybe he can say “I don’t think that that’s right for me, I’m looking for something more like X”.

      1. my two cents*

        recruiter is pushing for the guy to apply because the recruiter only gets paid out if he fills a position. the more openings the recruiter can get a solid candidate to apply for, the more likely he is to satisfy a client company.

        if you don’t want it, just tell them.

      2. Charity*

        Wouldn’t that be risky if the recruiter takes him seriously and then stops giving him positions that are similar to that but aren’t on the no-go list? I actually think that it makes sense to be more transparent here; it sounds like the only problem with the job is that his girlfriend might want it, rather than because the job itself is incompatible with his career goals or something.

        I agree that he doesn’t have to explain, but if he does explain I would probably stay away from explanations that make it sound as if he isn’t interested in that kind of job if that isn’t really what he means.

    4. T3k*

      He can either talk to his girlfriend about it and see if they’d make an exception (only if he really wants to try to apply, wouldn’t recommend otherwise) or tell the recruiter that his GF applied for that same job so he doesn’t want to compete, which would be reasonable in most people’s minds. Some don’t like competing, but there’s one job I applied to that I would love to have, but I also let a friend know that if she wanted to apply she could as well, with the mindset that at least one of us could get in and put in a word for the other (it’s a hard industry to break into).

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d do this. It is in their interests for either and both to get a job. If he is being recruited for one of ‘her leads’ then presumably he has a better shot and she should yield. And of course the same vice versa. The goal here is for each of them to get a good job.

    5. Chriama*

      Honestly? They should both be applying for all the jobs they’re eligible for. I don’t know why they decided not competing would be better than maximizing the chances that their household is happily and lucratively employed.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I used to tell friends about jobs that we were both qualified for; my theory was, if it’s supposed to be “my” job, I’ll get it. If I’m not going to get it, then maybe they will.

  11. Anon for this*

    Fellow AAM readers,

    I’m job searching and I keep coming across an ambiguous line in most job descriptions that I’d love to get your take on. It typically goes like this: “Bachelor’s degree and X years of related experience.”

    How would you define related experience? I may be reaching, but I define related experience as industry related. So if I’m applying for a job as a teapot design specialist and I’m currently a teapot analyst, I may not have design experience, but I do have experience with teapots.

    I feel like I’m really overthinking this.

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I don’t think it necessarily means industry experience. I’ve seen job descriptions where they mention, e.g. 8 years of experience, 4 years in Teapot Industry required/preferred.

      For example, if you’re applying for a supply chain job in the food and beverage industry and you have supply chain experience in um…aerospace, I would still apply if you otherwise meet the criteria and they don’t specifically say they want someone with experience in food & beverage industry. I think you are overthinking this though, because if they don’t think you’re a good fit, they just won’t interview you.

    2. finman*

      I would take it as the difference between teapot design and coffee pot design, not teapot analyst vs. teapot desinger

    3. Brett*

      You are overthinking it. Take “related experience” liberally and count everything unless it is totally completely unrelated.
      The hiring company will make the determination what to count as “related experience” anyway. As an example, we once counted experience as the lead on an archaeology dig as related experience for a geography position because the applicant showed how many of their duties on the dig were directly transferable to the new position. (And they turned out to be right, and excelled at the position.)

    4. FD*

      I think it depends on the job. In general, related experience seems to mean that your past experience would give you at least the basic skills needed for the job. For example, if you were applying to a customer support call center, hotel front desk experience would be related, because you need similar skills–being able to stay calm with upset guests, multitasking, and the ability to project friendliness over the phone.

      Your example is tricky, because there’s a good chance that a design specialist would be expected to know the basics of design. For example, you might be expected to know how to use AutoCAD or similar programs. Knowing about teapots might be less important than knowing about design. However, you could overcome this if you could show that you know the basics through personal experience, such as designing flowerpots in your spare time.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      To me, “related experience” means experience with the tasks, duties or requirements listed in the posting. If you were a Teapot Spout QC Specialist, I would not count that as related to Teapot Lid Design. However, Teapot Lid QC Specialist or Teapot Spout Designer might be, depending on how much you had to know about the design of the lids in those positions. Does that make sense? Did you work with design regularly while you were an analyst?

      Normally I’m all for the most liberal interpretation, but you don’t want to stretch it too far.

    6. my two cents*

      i’ve been working some sort of customer service for the last 16 years, since my beginning at an in-bound call center in highschool, and i happen to have a bsee. freshly graduated – i worked as an apps engineer for 8 years for a microcontroller (digital) company supporting a pretty specific product line. 8 months ago, i was hired as an apps engineer for a company in the power (analog) industry.

      my current(new) company was thrilled that i had experience making customer visits, handling incoming support calls/emails/tickets, and creating/presenting training materials to customers. my customer support soft skills are ‘related experience’ for the application engineer role i have now, because the company needs a specific skillset with a strong technical aptitude and they trusted i would learn the new products.

      but for design roles, they’re typically looking for related product knowledge over those sales/support soft skills – designing firmware for consumer ‘white goods’ wouldn’t really transfer well to designing high voltage drives.

      1. nerfmobile*

        This really depends on the kind of design you’re doing. Hard products design is very different from other kinds of design, like graphic design or user interface design. I’m a user experience designer for software applications (amusingly enough, for software used by designers), and really any kind of user interface design (or user research) for any kind of software (web, mobile, desktop) in any industry (banking, consumer, retail, healthcare, gaming) would usually be considered related. Soft skills (training, support) are also valued but would probably be pro-rated to a certain extent.

    7. Anon for this*

      Thanks, all! Wonderful advice. Especially the idea of being able to demonstrate how my past accomplishments are applicable to the job I’m applying for.

    8. AnotherHRPro*

      Related experience would be directly related to the description that they wrote in the posting. So if the posting says the job is responsible for developing and implementing innovative teapot designs, then says that 4 years of related experience is required they are looking for candidates with 4 years experience with design. It would not necessarily have to be teapots unless that is specified.

  12. AnnieAdmin*

    I’m having trouble dealing with the office Eeyore. Everything is a problem and she complains CONSTANTLY. Everyone knows she is an issue but with 20 years at the company, she isn’t going anywhere. Any advise on how not to lose it with her???

    1. GuitarLady*

      If you’re overhearing her say these things and it sounds like she’s not going to change her ways, I highly recommend earphones if your workplace allows. Life saver. If she’s saying these things to you directly and she’s not going to change, not sure what you can do about it other than come back with positive statements and ask her how she’s going to change things to make the place better.

      1. jmm*

        Yes, earphones! Also, give yourself a little treat (chocolate, a cup of coffee, a walk outside, chat with a fun co-worker, whatever makes you feel good) after you interact with this person.
        I work closely with an Eeyore. She’s been with this organization her entire career — 30+ years — and she’s not going anywhere. She is very skilled at her job, but her personality brings everyone down. So every time I interact with her, I try to keep it short and sweet, and then give myself a chocolate when it’s over.

    2. Florida*

      If she is complaining to you, don’t engage.

      Eeyore: Why does the UPS man always leave the packages on the front desk? Can’t he leave them on the side desk? He is such a jerk.
      AnnieAdmin: I don’t really see it that way.
      Eeyore: But it is so annoying. Then I have to move them to the side desk.
      AnnieAdmin: That is hard. Do you know where we keep the extra staples?

      Acknowledge that she said it, then move it. She wants to get into pissing match with someone. Once she realizes that it won’t be you, she will eventually find other unsuspecting person to complain to.

      1. Irishgal*


        I call this the “bean dip technique”
        Eeyore: Can you believe x did y
        AnnieAdmin: That is hard; how about some bean dip
        Eeyore; no.. but did you see x just walk over there and do y… i mean …
        AnnieAdmin: Yup; now have you seen the bean dip?

    3. Technical Editor*

      I used to work with someone like this. She complained constantly and gossiped, and I let her rub off on me. The best thing to do is not engage. Even a simple nod will encourage her to keep going. Change the subject, walk way, tell her you’re busy, ask her to defer her comments until lunch.

      If you keep giving her an audience, she will keep coming to you. If you don’t, she will find someone else.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      This is a great time for the “little white office lie”. I have a coworker like this and I sometimes pretend to be on a call or that I have to go to a meeting or find my boss. If I can’t escape, I start disagreeing when she complains (her complaints are always petty and personal -everyone is “phony” in her book). When she bitches about a coworkers, I will usually say that I like that person. I think she now finds it frustrating to complain to me because she’s started to visit my poor coworker down the hall instead of me.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      Ask her what her solution to the problem she is complaining about is. So she thinks that her chair squeaks, then ask that question.

      If she is complaining about the weather or things she cannot change, then just be chipper. Some people are more pessimistic than others.

      And as a last resort, count her complaints and play a game with yourself. If you guess how many things she complains about in one day, buy yourself a lottery ticket.

    6. Xarcady*

      OldJob had an employee like this. Someone commented on her, “She’ complain about paying taxes if she won the lottery,” and that about sums her up.

      I dealt with her by being relentlessly cheerful to her, no matter what she said. She stopped talking to me except about work stuff after a few months of, “Oh, no, it can’t be that bad! Look on the sunny side of things! You still have your health! You still have a job! Life’s good!”

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I have to deal with someone who was an Eeyore—she complained about everything and started unloading all her personal stuff on me. Her marriage was imploding, and while I sympathized, I got super tired of hearing it all the time. So I backed off some. I still gave her sympathy, but I often had to derail her before she ramped up or I’d be standing there all day.

      After her husband (who really was an ass) left and she officially got a divorce, it was like NIGHT AND DAY. She went from Eeyore to Tigger! I told her, “You are 100% more happy than you were before, and I’m glad to see it.” She’s not as Tigger-y as she was in the period following and she still complains about the job, but it’s soooooo much better now.

      Maybe this Eeyore is in a crap situation herself, but if it’s not going to resolve or is just her way, you’ll have to strategize. If you don’t have to interact with her, then feel free to do anything you must to disengage. Headphones, a sudden meeting, etc. Xarcady has a good suggestion about being relentlessly cheerful in return–when I was the Eeyore, that would bug the crap out of me and I went away! :D

      1. DMented Kitty*

        I’m not an office Eeyore, but I equally can’t stand office Tiggers either lol.

        I have one office Tigger I roll my eyes to myself because I can’t stand how chipper she always is – I always hear her giggle somewhere, and she seems to be a people-person, she likes to walk around in cubes and just make small talk (she still does her work though) – I always think work can’t be all that happy, but I just put on my headphones when the giggling gets too annoying for my taste. I guess I just place my personality (introverted, task-oriented) against hers (extroverted, relationship-oriented) and just thought if I were to do the things she does, I’d be drained before lunch time.

        I’m more an April Ludgate in the office. Most of the time quite isolated in my headphone world, with the occasional dry wit if presented with an opportunity. :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Haha, I am too–though not as much as the actual character, but the Tigger part didn’t last long, thank goodness. I was just glad she got out of a bad situation.

    8. NacSacJack*

      Have a “Come to Jesus” talk with her. Tell her to shut up and keep her comments to herself. State it as “We know you hate the company, but we don’t want to hear about it.”

      1. The Butcher of Luverne*

        Right. “You know, your constant complaining is really sending negative energy throughout the office. Think you could tone it down when I’m around?”

    9. nep*

      I should thank a former colleague for making me realise how awful I sounded — griping all the time. I’m afraid I had my moments when I was that person in the office.
      One afternoon I was bitching about something and she just listened, allowed a few seconds of silence, then said: ‘Grates, dudn’t it?’ and continued working.
      Shut me down straight away. It was perfect.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I like this.

        The little pause is great. As is the “continued working.”

        there are lots of really short phrases you could use that are sympathetic on the face of it, but that really point out: “This is a boring conversation.” You could
        use, “yeah, you complain about that a lot.”

    10. Not So NewReader*

      “Com’on Eyeore, you can do it! Three more complaints puts you at 81 and I win the daily pool. I put my money one 81 complaints today. Come on, Eyeore, don’t let me down, I’m going out to dinner tonight because of YOU!”

      No. Do not actually do this.

    11. Clever Name*

      I share an office with an Eyore, and it’s hard to listen to all day. She puts herself down and complains constantly about how stressed she is. She never advocates for herself but complains when something doesn’t happen that she easily could have gotten had she simply asked. I think she just likes being a martyr. I wear headphones and try to only minimally respond to her. She talks to herself a lot, and there is just no way I could respond to all of her utterances.

  13. Teapot Coordinator*

    I just wanted to say thank you to AAMers! Last week I asked for some encouragement or discouragement about potentially leaving my current job for a new job and everyone said such wonderful, insightful things, it made me feel much better and more confident in my potential decision.
    At my second interview on Monday, I was offered the position on the spot and I accepted!!
    So, thank you very very much!!!

  14. FD*

    Book roundup! What books have been most useful to your professional development?

    My list:

    Charisma Myth, Olivia Fox Cabane- Taught me a lot about how to manage interpersonal relationships, especially useful in networking, building relationships, and handling customers better

    Managing to Change the World, Alison Green- Lot of insight into how to manage, scripts for difficult conversations, and a general philosophy of management

    So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport- Literally a book that changed my life, shifts your mindset from trying to find your passion to getting really, really good at something, and leveraging that skill

    Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg- Although I don’t agree with her 100%, excellent insight into gender in the workplace, and how to be a high-powered, successful woman

    1. To Gift or Not to Gift*

      Women Don’t Ask and its companion Ask for It by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Totally, completely eye-opening. I’ve learned a lot since then but at the time it had literally never occurred to me that you could negotiate a starting salary, let alone benefits, let alone, say, the dry-cleaning bill.

      1. fposte*

        It’s interesting for me to think about this in conjunction with the post this morning about what to do with all the people asking for time.

        One thing that I think women especially tend not to get taught is what I’ve heard called “self-authorization”–deciding for yourself it’s okay to take this action, rather than waiting for permission. It’s something that comes up for me repeatedly, especially since I don’t neatly fit a mold; there was just one department-wide process where I thought, “Gee, I’d like to be a part of that” and then realized I was waiting for somebody to invite me when I could just, you know, do it.

    2. Florida*

      The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense – it’s a book about communication, so it applies to work or any situation with passive aggressive people

        1. Froggy*

          If it makes you feel better my mother also made me and my brother read it in high school. She thought that book was the be-all, end-all of life lessons.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          That is weird and funny. I got that stupid book in a Secret Santa exchange and even better, it was used! Some weirdo actually liked it enough to highlight passages in yellow.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          I’ve got a l-o-n-g diatribe on that one, if you have a spare few hours. I read it when it first came out, as everyone else did, and I’m like “this is the worst piece of simplified patronizing nonsense I’ve ever read”. Then the author made 14 bazillion dollars and I thought “well I supposed I could write simplified patronizing crap also”.

          This was back Before The Internet so I had nobody to listen to my Cheese Rage. Everybody else I knew thought it was terrific.

        4. Jillociraptor*

          We read it in social studies class in 8th grade. Like, took turns reading paragraphs aloud read it. I’m just now realizing how weird THAT was!

      1. Omne*

        I had a manager that made me read that. He asked me what I took away from it afterwards. I said that doing things without rational thought and without thinking is best, after all the mice actually got to the cheese first. He said he didn’t think that was the idea but he never asked me about it again.

    3. the gold digger*

      From Good to Great

      He makes so many simple concepts clear about what works and does not work in an organization. It can be fun (and depressing) to see how many of the Glamour Don’ts happen in your company.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman is a great book about design in general that certainly correlates to software design. Poor design is all around us.

      The Mythical Man-Month by Fred Brooks makes it clear that throwing more people at a problem often doesn’t make it get solved faster.

      Both books are fun to read too.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Mine would be specific to writing–I don’t generally read business books. A blog called Author! Author! by Anne Mini has helped me in so many ways. It’s down right now (she’s moving servers) but she said on Facebook it will be back up ASAP. It contain(ed) very long and detailed posts about craft, communication, formatting, everything. Also, she’s funny.

      There was one about working with mean girls, but I don’t remember what it was called. I probably need to read it again, though people here aren’t mean.

    6. AnotherFed*

      The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Tufte. If you work in a STEM or budget field and have to do presentations, this is the best aid ever for turning data into useful, understandable metrics/charts.

    7. Meg Murry*

      Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office – although I’d recommend reading the first edition initially, and then just skimming the second for the new additions. The second edeiion gets into personal branding, which I think we all roll our eyes at around here, but if you replace the words “personal brand” with “workplace reputation” in your head, the advice is generally pretty good.

      Note – there are some rules that you may decide to break once you’ve reached a certain point in your career (“don’t bake for the office” is one I know many higher up women regularly break, for instance) but I think if nothing else it’s good to recognize the risks of choosing not to follow all the advice in the book.

      I’d recommend it to almost any young woman new in her career, and I think there are some parts that could be generalized to young men as well.

      1. Alma*

        “Wishcraft” by Barbara Sher. Especially the creative visualisation – when I can’t put my finger on what is missing that I really need, or if I need a major or minor change, that usually gets me in focus.

    8. Hypnotist Collector*

      Mindset by Carol Dweck has been enormously helpful to me in a job where I’m very much an odd man out; Thanks for the Feedback by Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone helped me after a bad performance review (and the next performance review was excellent); and if you’re at all inclined toward a spiritual approach to work, Awake at Work by Michael Carroll.

    9. TootsNYC*

      Danny Meyer, the NYC restaurateur, wrote a book that I loved, and gave away to someone. And I want it back!

      Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

      Really powerful.

  15. Brett*

    So, I start new job Monday morning, and this leads me to a linkedin and resume question.
    I am employed by contracting company A, subcontracted to company B, who has contracted me out to client company C.
    All of my work will be as a contractor for company C. C is prominent and well known, A not so much, and I had barely heard of B at all (and have little contact with them anyway).

    How the heck do I list this on LinkedIn? On a resume?

    1. themmases*

      I put my formal employer in the actual company field, and include the back story in the description of the role. I work in an area where my employer is well respected but the funder/research network is a very big deal, so to me this strikes the right balance of making sure people know without appearing to claim that I worked for the funder.

      I think people able to see your profile should still be able to find you based on that, although you won’t show up on automatic lists of people affiliated with the company.

    2. Amy*

      I’m in a similar situation. I list it on a resume as “Prominent Company (contracted through Tiny Company), Title (Years).” On LinkedIn, I just list Prominent Company.

      I’m sure people could argue with that, but Prominent Company gets most of their employees through contracting companies, so I imagine it’s par for the course for people who have worked at Prominent Company.

      Not totally sure what to do about the fact that you have two contracting companies, kind of. Maybe just list the one that writes your paycheck?

      1. Amy*

        To clarify the second sentence…

        Most of the work at Prominent Company is by full-time contractors, so I imagine this type of listing is pretty normal for people who have done work at Prominent Company.

  16. JazzyisAnonymous*

    I don’t know what my husband’s chances are of getting the new position in Chicago, but he’s the only internal candidate applying, and they’ve told him that he’s one of three finalists. He went out and spent an hour with the head of IT who flew in from LA to interview him. I’m hoping that’s all a good sign, but you never know until you know.

    My position is denigrating until to ridiculousness. My boss has announced he wants to spend more time in Florida, and is not really dealing with the people at our other office who have devolved into screaming at each other. Now I spend half of my time trying to get off the phone with coworkers who aren’t even in my office complaining about each other. The issues are awful, and I really feel for them, but I just don’t have the time or the authority to sort out those problems.

    My boss knows, he just keeps telling everybody to work it out amongst themselves. Shockingly, it’s not working. I’ve only been here a year and a half, and was only at my last six months due to a boss that made threats of physical injury. I don’t really know what to do, but I hope that I get to move…

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Best of luck with that. It does sound good that your husband is one of three finalists. Unfortunately, you won’t really know what they thought of him in relation to the other two finalists until he does or doesn’t get the job offer…

  17. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

    Lawyer seeking magical unicorn job! I am at a large firm right now, and some things have happened recently that have made me think about my path going forward. For the lawyers out there, is anyone working a job where 1) you are in litigation; 2) you are not working more than 10-12 hours during the week and you get most weekends off; and 3) you don’t feel broke? If so, would you mind sharing what it is and how you got it? I am thinking government, and I think I’d be relatively competitive at least for state jobs, but even so that seems like a hard nut to crack.

    1. Lillian McGee*

      Try legal aid. Our pay isn’t THAT bad but no one really stays past 5, vacation is generous, and in the right practice field you can be in court every day if you want.

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        What would you call the right practice field? And is there anything that makes applicants coming from firms particularly attractive? I try to keep a couple of pro bono matters going at any given time, but it’s not a coherent group of cases–we mostly get asylum and vacatur matters, with some other things thrown in.

        1. Lillian McGee*

          Being active in pro bono is a plus. Being genuinely interested in helping people is the main thing! We would probably scrutinize a big firm defector more than someone coming from another legal aid agency. You would mainly have to convince us that you are really going to be okay with the lower pay (call it work/life balance, probably) and that you want to use your skills for something more meaningful.

          The biggest areas for legal aid are probably family law (guardianship matters, restraining orders, etc), housing (foreclosure, eviction, subsidized housing vouchers, etc.), consumer (bankruptcy, etc), employment, and veteran services. We only do housing where I work and there is rarely a day where we are not in eviction court.

        2. curious*

          You know, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is hiring attorneys now. Just set up a job search on USAJobs and have relevant postings emailed to you. Make sure you have a federal resume with all the required info on it (with supervisor contact info, etc.)

    2. LawCat*

      State government lawyer here. Started with federal government. Did litigation for just over 4 years. Now doing house counsel work. I’ve always been a government lawyer and I think the pay is okay, benefits and vacation excellent. With the federal government, I could earn bonuses but state government does not have that as an incentive. Local government where I live pays much better so be sure to check out local government too.

      Hours are generally very reasonable (when you have hearing though, it can be the crazy hours, and there can be stretches where you have a lot of hearings). That said, with my state role, turnover on the litigation team is high because even though better than private practice, the stress and hours are higher than with other legal teams and there is little by way of training (and I don’t think management does a good job with addressing these issues). I burned out on litigation, but the work was generally quite interesting. That may not be the case across the board in other state entities and may be a particular problem where I work.

      The state hiring process is super bureaucratic (they ask each candidate identical questions in interviews, it feels unnatural) and time-consuming (where I ended up working, to say nothing of the other places I applied, I had three interviews and it took 4 months to get an offer). I think the larger the department, the more drawn out it is. You just have to be patient and keep applying.

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Thanks, this is exactly the type of thing I was seeking to find out. I don’t mind being busy around hearings–anything where crazy isn’t the baseline would be an improvement! The point about the training is a good one, but hopefully having a bit of experience could help ameliorate some of that.

    3. pieces of flair*

      My mom is a lawyer for the federal government and her job meets all your criteria. I’m pretty sure she got there just by applying, no special “in.” That was 30-something years ago, though.

    4. bridget*

      I worked at a mid-size regional law firm (think 100 attorneys) in a smaller city, doing litigation, and this was the case. I generally worked from about 8 a.m. -6:30 p.m., and had most weekends off. There were definitely days that I was at the office until midnight, and weekends I worked through, but they were the exception, not the norm – maybe 4 late nights a month, and one weekend every other month? Usually related to a filing deadline, and greatly exacerbated by my own procrastination/poor time management (I’d say 2/3 of the time, it could have been avoided if I had been more diligent).

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Interesting! My worry there would be that the experience at mid-sized and small law firms seems to vary dramatically, and I’m not confident in my ability to screen for an experience like yours (which sounds great)! Hence my thinking getting out of firms entirely might be the way to go. But I’ll definitely think about this (and think about moving, since I think the firm experience is worse where I am than it is in many other places in the country).

        1. bridget*

          That’s true. I do think that my experience was roughly similar to all of the comparable firms in my city (barring a handful of notable workaholics), according to my peers. So, I think if you can get a candid assessment from a couple of people who are working at this type of firm in whatever city you’re interested in, it would be very instructive as to most similar firms in the area. I would look for a sweet spot – avoid working at a branch of a national or large regional firm; there will be pressure from HQ to keep up with the guys in New York and DC et al. Also avoid firms that are too small (or that have a less-lucrative client base) to have good backstops and time-saving resources, like extra associates/contractors/vendors you can pull in if a project gets big, or good support staff to keep you from having to assemble binders at 3 a.m.

      2. Triangle Pose*

        Interesting! Sometimes I hear about other Biglaw markets and I just gasp.
        I’m in Biglaw in a smaller market but we have NYC level lock step compensation (for the first set of years), and our hours are way better!

        9-6:15pm standard, and then about 8 times a year there’s a horrible late night or weekend experience, but it’s pretty limited. I’m in transactional so we don’t have filing deadlines, so it’s usually client demands or international time difference driving this (but again, smaller market so clients are less international).

        For this level of compensation, I’d stay here forever if I knew it wasn’t just going to get worse as you advance – senior associates and partners, esp junior partners have it way, way worse. For me it’s not even the hours, it’s that you can’t predict when things will go bonkers – if I had to work the same number of hours but could spread those hours out and be able to wall off my evenings, it’d be a perfect job. Until I’m out, I just try to see it as they are paying you for your availability, not necessarily skills/actual hours worked.

        1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

          That’s amazing. My transactional colleagues work their rear ends off, but I think part of that is probably (as you point out) that since I’m at a place with a lot of international work, there’s a time zone issue.

          And yes, I can’t tell you how depressing I found the realization that it gets worse as you move up, not better. :-)

    5. Triangle Pose*

      For me, the magical unicorn dream job is in-house counsel at a Fortune 100 company. Government doesn’t pay enough (I like bonuses) and you get additional equity compensation. Harder to swing when you’re in litigation (v. transnational), but I think it’s the best ROI on your degree in terms of pay, hours and sophistication of work.

      Another option: lifetime clerk – great hours, still get to be intellectually challenged and do important work, relatively well paid. Some people have a gripe with this because you are essentially taking the position away from the many, many people who could do one or two year clerkships in your place, but it’s a great opportunity, so if it comes, go for it!

      Good luck!

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Yeah, I feel like in-house is more rare as a litigator (this is pretty anecdotal–I’m mostly going from the destinations of people who leave my firm), but it would be nice.

        Being a lifetime clerk would be AMAZING. I’m applying for term clerkships right now, but so far, no dice. I’ve been lucky enough to get interviews and I’ve gotten some good feedback, but it’s such a buyer’s market that I’m not that hopeful (also, some of the circuits are hiring for 2018 and even 2019, which I think is just absurd).

        1. bridget*

          Yeah, I’m a federal clerk (left my mid-size law job for one), and I was hired 2.5 years before I started. My judge his hiring for 2018-2019. Career clerk positions are rarer, but also less competitive than term positions (because instead of being a springboard to Intense But Prestigious Jobs, they read more as career coasting, fairly or unfairly).

          Have you looked into judicial staff attorney positions? The ones I know both at federal and state courts were often biglaw refugees. The downside is you usually get the less-interesting parts of cases (like reviewing for procedural defects, making recommendations on non-merits-based motions, and drafting dispositions on cases that are too easy to warrant full briefing and consideration). On the other hand, at my state supreme court, the staff attorneys review and make recommendations on cert petitions, which is interesting and merits-based work.

          1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

            The federal staff attorneys where I am are term appointments, which I think aren’t worth jumping for the way a clerkship is because of the job security and clerkship bonus factors. I’ll have to check into state courts and federal positions elsewhere. Thanks!

        2. AnotherHRPro*

          I work at F100 and we have a large in-house litigation team. I’m not a lawyer but have hired them for us. Every single one of them works hard, but according to them it is much better than at a firm. The comp and benefits tend to be better, but different. Less total cash and more at risk (bonus and stock) pay.

          1. AnotherHRPro*

            That said, we generally fill those jobs through networking and occasionally with a search firm. My experience is that the big litigation law community is fairly well connected.

            1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

              Yes, I feel lucky that I have a sizeable network that I can draw upon when the time comes, but I don’t want to start doing that until I have a better idea of what I’m aiming for. I’ll have to do some more research into companies with in-house litigation teams.

    6. attornaut*

      Federal government work (outside AUSAs) fit your hours requirement, but you’ll have to look for agencies that have independant litigating authority OR do administrative litigation work–most commonly, employment law.

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Yeah, more research is definitely required on my end. I don’t have an employment law background, sadly, but some skills are definitely transferable.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Public defenders are going 24/7 in my state. There is going to be at least one on call 24/7, that is what they are aiming for. I assume the one being on call will be rotational. I assume that person will be expected to drive hundreds of miles in any weather and in the middle of the night.

  18. T3k*

    Do/should one list if they were laid off from a job on their resume, and if so, how? Right now my resume’s longest held job was during high school, after that I had 2 summer internships, then a year of unemployment before I was hired. However, 6 months later, I was laid off and got a new job 2 months later (took just to have some income, but it doesn’t cover enough for even rent, thus living at home). I’ve now been at the current one for 10 months and I’m afraid if I don’t put I didn’t willingly choose to leave the first one, they’re going to think I’m job hopping, when it’s really just this last job I want out of. Advice? (and no, sticking it out isn’t really an option as I’m waaaaay underpaid to the point I wouldn’t be able to afford a monthly car payment if my old car dies on me).

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you list the start and end dates as they are. There isn’t any reason on a résumé to put the reason you left. Given what you’ve described here, I don’t think you can avoid some hiring managers sticking you with the job-hopper label. As Alison has mentioned, you typically get one free pass (and that could be a layoff or a toxic job or whatever).

      If I’m understanding you right, your job history looks like this:
      1 year unemployed
      6 months at one job you were laid off at
      2 months of unemployement
      10 months at another job

      I know you want to get out of your current job, but the best way to not look like a job hopper is to stay at your current job more than 10 months.

      1. Marketeer*

        I thought she mentioned layoffs don’t count, but I could be wrong. They will most likely ask you in your interview and just explain that you were laid off from the 6-month one. Also, figure out a more positive reason for leaving your current job.

        Good Luck!

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Even if layoffs “don’t count,” you should still have a decent tenure at at least one place. I may have misunderstood T3k’s description of her job history, but it doesn’t sound as if she’s been at one place more than a year, let alone three.

          I certainly wouldn’t consider someone a job hopper who had something like
          4 years one place
          1 year one place (left, toxic)
          1 year another place (got laid off)
          3 years another place (looking for a job now)

        2. T3k*

          Oh, I have a VERY long list of reasons I want out of my current job, just the non-living wage is the biggest reason. I have to keep actively telling myself not to say anything off that list (my go-to is to say I’m looking for a more challenging environment and a job that has room to grow, both of which are true, as there’s no upward movement where I am and there’s so little to do, I end up working on personal project or twiddling my thumbs).

    2. AnxiouslyAnon*

      I have two gaps of ~6 months each on my resume. One was from right after I graduated with my Masters degree, and the other I was laid off.

      I do nothing special to indicate on my resume why I have those gaps. What I *do* however, is factually state WHY they are there, if an interviewer asks. One is because I left grad school in 2011 and the economy was still terrible, the other is because the small company I was working for lost its funding and had the option of limping along or laying everyone off.

      Just state the facts. People get laid off all the time. People take temporary jobs to cover expenses. Saying you’re looking to get back in your field after some misfortune is a totally fine thing to say. Don’t over think it! You’ll be fine!

      1. T3k*

        Yeah, I’m just over-worrying that a person will see my resume, think “job hopper” and toss it before I can even get an interview to explain it (can we tell I deal with anxiety?).

    3. TheAssistant*

      Is your current role in your field? I agree you shouldn’t list the layoff on the resume, but I could see writing a cover letter about any job you’re applying for in your field and mentioning “I really enjoyed X, Y, and Z about the field at Laid Off Firm, but due to a layoff, I temporarily moved to Current Firm. I’m eager to move back into a role that involves more X.” Or whatever.

  19. OwnedByTheCat*

    I’m having a whirlwind of a few weeks.

    We are planning on relocating. I applied to a position at a company where I’d previously worked for another affiliate. They called me back within 4 hours for an interview. Last Friday I had a 90 minute interview and in two weeks they’re flying me down for a two-day in-person interview.

    So – panic aside! – two questions.

    1) How have you navigated moving into more senior level positions? Currently my title is Assistant Director of Development. I’m interviewing for Director of Development. Advice on positioning myself for a more senior role?

    2) Stories/advice/input on how to successfully navigate TWO days of in person interviews, lunches, and dinners with teachers, administrators, and board directors?

    1. Granite*

      2) Look up advice for faculty interviews – very similar format. Common recommendations are comfortable shoes, snacks in your back, and asking for a bathroom break every chance you get to have a couple minutes to regroup between interviews.

      1) I sure could use that advice too right now.

      1. ModernHypatia*

        There was a thread about faculty interviews – two weeks ago? Last week? With good tips.

        My other big advice is have a stock of safe and general conversations to talk about, because there’s a lot of time at all those meals, and a lot of topics are not good interview choices. I avoid things people have really strong opinions about and go for things I’ve recently read (both books and articles on or NPR or something like that), questions about the area and what people like, and broader disucssions of things going on in the general field (doesn’t work if you’re at a meal with people from a range of positions, sometimes.)

        1. OwnedByTheCat*

          Great advice from both of you! Luckily I’m both an alumnus of this particular international school and a former employee so I can fall back on school activities, etc. I’ll also think of other non-work related conversations! Since it’s a new city I can also ask about that!

      1. OwnedByTheCat*

        I’d love to hear more about it! Here’s where I’m at:

        I’v been fundraising for about 4 years and have moved from a coordinator (entry level) to Assistant Director and have taken on increased responsibility at each position, including managing a grant writer and associate. I feel ready to move into a Development Director position which at many organizations is a more senior-level position. This would include not only managing but being part of strategic planning, annual planning, and being the top of the fundraising department. (I’m specifically thinking of organizations where the DD is the top, not where they might report to a VP of Development, etc.)

        I’m excited about my upcoming interview and have been told I’m one of their top candidates but the hiring manager also explicitly pointed out that I’m earlier on in my career than other candidates and have less big-picture experience. I communicated that I absolutely appreciated that observation but that based on my track record and current responsibilities I believe I have the skill set and maturity level to advance to a more senior position. I’m really good at my job and know I’m ready: how do I “prove” this without feeling like I’m having to prove it? Clearly my resume and cover letter are working as I’m getting interviews, and this position is interested enough to fly me down on their dime.

        So I guess my question is how have people made the leap? What challenges did they have, especially earlier on in their career (I’m 29). What positioned them for success, and what do they wish they’d done differently?

        Right now I feel a bit like a little girl going “I’m super smart! hire me” when I’d rather come across as someone whose strategic thinking skills and qualifications make me right for a Director-level role.

        Thanks Alison! Let me know if you want me to email you or ask you this question directly :)

      2. Granite*

        For me, it’s…hard to pin down, but a big part of the intimidation factor is losing my double check. As the senior staffer, I make lots of decisions, but they all get run past the director for sign off before going forward. As the Director, you have to make those calls. Rationally, I get that none of my decisions have been overruled in years, which is a clear indication I’m ready for that responsibility, but that double check crutch is scary to let go of.

        And if I get the promotion in question, I won’t even have a senior staffer to bounce things off of until I’ve hired, trained and developed my replacement. Which brings us to my second issue: I’ve never had true managerial authority for a direct report. I’ve done team lead things and had plenty of training, but not actual hire/fire authority. This position only comes with one direct report, plus an intern, but I’m going to have to start from scratch by hiring them, and if I make a bad hiring decision, I’m doomed as far as getting the nitty gritty work done.

        1. junipergreen*

          My team recently welcoming a young-ish Dev Director. Some factors this person dealt with (and the resulting proactive actions) included:
          Navigating new/tentative relationships with the team (held a retreat immediately focusing on everyone’s job functions and work style preferences; encouraged them to write their own job descriptions which informed a minor restructuring and showed some skill gaps/hiring opportunities)
          No relationships with your constituency (marathon stewardship calls/lunches/coffees)
          Tentative grasp of the numbers/goals/budget (built LOTS of checkins and assigned staff direct accountability to revenue lines tied in w annual goals)

    2. BRR*

      I’m in development and it depends on the duties of the director job (which can vary wildly as you know). my thoughts are no matter the type you probably need to show the broader accomplishments you have. Coordinating efforts among multiple people or raising money from multiple sources. Also if the director position has a large supervisory component, figure out how to address that. I feel a lot of development positions are all or nothing with supervising others. You just raise money or you have a few people reporting to you while you do it.

      1. OwnedByTheCat*

        It does feel all over the place. I would have maybe one direct report (like I do now) and would actually be responsible for a smaller budget but would be more connected to decision making/board and volunteer management and, as Granite said, wouldn’t have that security blanket of having someone else sign off on my decisions!

        Thank you for helping me think through how my current skillset can align with THIS position and not just DD in general.

        1. BRR*

          I couldn’t articulate it but I was definitely thinking by my “broader accomplishments” the decision making and strategizing you mention. I’m making the assumption you might have a lot of focus on your dollar goal in your current position but they probably want to figure out how you can approach with those broader senior responsibilities. I’d probably want to see what you’ve taken charge of that involved multiple people.

          1. OwnedByTheCat*

            This is super helpful. That’s what I’ve been having a hard time articulating. Like “I know my job is x and I’m damn good at it, but I’ve also done y and z which are much more director-level projects and decisions.” I’ll have to come up with some examples of that!

  20. HeyNonnyNonny*

    This is a re-ask from last week, hoping I’m in early enough this time to catch some answers!

    Anyone have solutions for actual physical fixes for cubicle noise? I have headphones, but I can’t wear them constantly, and my office culture is chatty enough that I can’t constantly shush everyone.

    I’m hoping that someone’s had decent luck with acoustic foam/personal white noise machines/etc. I’m allowed a lot of leeway in my cube, so any ideas are fair game!

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Wow, yes pricey! Thanks for the link, I’ll have to see if I can’t get my office to cover some part of that…

      1. Mark in Cali*

        If it’s just chit chatty, I don’t know if a shush is strong enough.

        “Hey folks, I need to concentrate on this project. If you’d please keep non-work conversations at a distance from my cube? Thanks!”

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          The problem is that I’m in the middle of a large cube farm, so there are all sorts of conversations going on around me almost all the time, and a lot are just incidental work conversations that have to happen. I’m new to this part of my office, and it seems that these sort of conversations are just the norm here. :/

          I do like the idea of asking them to move non-work convos away from me though…that will come in handy once baseball season starts here!

          1. T3k*

            Just try to come off polite and nice when you ask. Although, some may still label you some not so pleasant names anyways, killjoy being the less offensive one there. Hopefully your coworkers have more maturity than college students.

            1. HeyNonnyNonny*

              Based off some conversations I’ve overheard? Possibly not. I’m definitely rehearsing all the good AAM scripts in my head for when I ask…

          2. Mark in Cali*

            Quite honestly, don’t complain then. What’s priority? Your work or baseball?

            There are other places to talk about baseball in the office. Prioritize your work, be polite in asking for a focused environment and you can still talk baseball with the crew.

            1. HeyNonnyNonny*

              Hi Mark, I meant that my coworkers talk baseball all the time and I am looking forward to having some polite language to keep them from interfering from my work. My priority is work, which is why I’m trying to find solutions to chatty coworkers.

    1. Sarianna*

      I picked up a small water-bottle-sized humidifier from Amazon for about $9, and the soft hiss of the evaporating water has helped to diffuse the noise of chatting in my space.

    2. Fleur*

      My experience with acoustic foam and the like is that it requires a closed environment, which I think wouldn’t necessarily work in a cubicle farm.

      Is there a reason you can’t always wear your headphones? I’m in the same position as you with chatty coworkers, and I pretty much wear my IEMs all day long. It’s low profile and I have a tiny mirror on my monitor so I know when someone is behind me wanting to get my attention.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Ah, dang. At least you saved me the money of buying some and then being disappointed!

        The headphones is just personal preference. I have both big bulky ones and earbuds, but my head just rebels at having stuff attached to it for the entire day and I end up with headaches.

        1. Fleur*

          Yeah, I’ve been trying them out in my apartment so I can practice singing without disturbing the neighbours, which is the opposite of what you want to do, but most of the setups I’ve seen surround a tiny booth shape.

          And I feel you on the comfort of headphones! The only headphones I’ve had which I could wear for 8+ hours are the Sennheiser HD598s, but they are open back so not appropriate for office settings. Though if you don’t mind others hearing your music, I really recommend these! For earbuds, I like the ones that have a snug fit and the cables go over your ears. I’m using the RHA MA750s right now and they’re pretty lightweight and I used to wear VSonic GR07s. I know lots of people recommend the comfort of Klipsch as well.

          Sorry I couldn’t be more help, but best of luck dealing with the noise!

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            ::looks up headphones, gasps at price:: Wow. I think it’s probably time for me to upgrade, since I can see how my $10 set from the airport store can’t hold a candle to some of these! Thanks for the recs.

            1. Fleur*

              It’s worth stalking Amazon Warehouse deals for headphones! I bought my HD598SE for $70 in “like new’ condition. During big discount days like Black Friday, these will regularly go on sale for $99 as well. Still more than $10, but for the quality and longevity, I think it’s worth it!

          2. Windchime*

            I have a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort headphones that I bought 5 years ago in a fit of frustration after days of listening to my cube-neighbor describe her husband’s terrible intestinal disease. Yes, they were expensive but they saved my sanity. If I’m in the mood for music, I listen to Pandora on my phone and if I just want quiet, I have a white-noise app on my phone and I listen to that. I don’t wear them all day because that might be considered anti-social where we are, but when I need to not be distracted they are a lifesaver.

    3. Irishgal*

      This is called “nuisance noise” so if you Google terms like “managing nuisance noise in open plan offices individual solutions” you should get a rake of hits.

      (apologies if teaching you how to suck eggs)

  21. AddieJoy*

    I’ve been at my job for two and a half years, including a recent seven month stint of remote work. I returned to the office this week. My setup is great–my boss is wonderful, my manager is really warm and understanding, and I feel appreciated and encouraged to grow here.

    The problem is, I got… well, stupid. When I was working remotely, my ability to make decisions, focus clearly, remember facts and processes that I’m intimately familiar with, and think things through was absolutely decimated. Fortunately, the project I was on at the time didn’t require big decisions from me, and the remote work gave me some cover for the constant brain fog. Now I’m back in the office, and I’m scared to death about my lost capacities. Complicating matters further, I got a promotion recently based on my work before the brain fog settled in–a promotion I don’t think I deserved, and which I certainly can’t live up to now.

    I don’t know if I should tell anyone, or how I can minimize the effects of my weird brain stuff at work. (I am working on this from the medical front as well–things are improving slightly, but I really have no idea whether I’ll be myself again any time soon.) I just don’t want to wind up in a position where my choking or making a bad choice puts the entire team at risk. Is there any way to ask my boss to think less of me without absolutely tanking my career here?

    1. Nadia*

      Happened to me too. It got so bad that I was in danger of losing my job. Luckily, I found out I had hypothyroidism and once I started medication, the issue fixed itself.

    2. CPALady*

      As a manager, I’d hope that you felt comfortable enough to bring your concerns to me. Especially if you’re working on the medical aspect of the issue, I’d want to be aware and be as helpful as possible to both you and to the whole team. I can’t manage the assets and liabilities of the team well if I don’t have the full picture. Does that make sense?

      1. AddieJoy*

        It absolutely makes sense. It also terrifies me–I was considered something of a rising star for my first couple of years here (a reputation I’m not sure I actually deserved). My boss bent all kinds of rules for me and went to a lot of effort to promote me within the organization. Now I need to say, “Hey, I don’t actually remember how to do many of the basic aspects of my job, and I’m not clever enough to cover it up anymore.” Add into that all the complications I caused with the remote work/return to the office, my somewhat erratic decision making related to coming back in person, and the fact that a lot of the medical possibilities are psychiatric and not something I necessarily want to share around the office… I want to make sure I don’t get us into trouble, but I’m terrified of being seen as I actually am (kind of useless) instead of who they thought I was (hypercompetent, extremely driven, super-adaptable). I also have no *idea* how to hold that conversation.

        I guess they’ll find out sooner or later, though, and better it come from me than from an angry client.

        1. Cathy*

          I second getting your thyroid checked! The fog of an under-active thyroid is debilitating. Also, provided you are female, have your estrogen and testosterone levels checked. I discovered after my hysterectomy that a lack of estrogen can make you forget your own name LOL. Also, a lower than normal testosterone level (and ladies do have a measurable amount of testosterone) can exacerbate a sloth-like feeling.
          Have you lost a lot of weight lately? Estrogen is stored in your fat cells and weight loss may cause a significant drop in your levels.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      While you are waiting for this to work out, watch yourself talk.

      Any time you think a negative thought, train your brain to deliberately have a positive thought.
      “Gee, I am worried my foggy brain will fail me today.”
      “I am going to do my absolute best I can today.”

      “Oh crap here comes the brain fog.”
      “I will remain calm and figure out an answer.”

      What do you do to help yourself compensate? Not the same as your setting but I work at my job a couple days a week. After working elsewhere, I come back on Monday and my brain is blank. I have a cheat sheet for the important stuff. I have a tray for files that need my attention. I have a phone log for the calls, etc. Everything goes some where. And I keep going back to those key spots to keep myself on track.
      When I first started the job I would get very worried about how much I retained from one week to another. Putting extra energy into helping ME remember also helped with worry levels. I never stopped worrying but the levels went down.

      1. Jean*

        NSNR, thank you! This is a helpful list of tips. I will apply them in my job and (if I remember, ha ha, but so much can interfere with clear thinking) let you know how it goes by posting a Paging Not So NewReader message late in the day on one of the future Friday open threads.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ahh very good, making small jokes about your predicament and roughing out a plan already for what to do. You are off to a great start! It won’t be terrible ALL the time, you will get some things right.
          Yep, let us know how you are doing. I’ll check for you, too.

  22. Right Flat Tire*

    I found out I need bunion surgery at the end of the year. Non-weight bearing for 6-8 weeks. My current idea or plan is to take 6 weeks of short term disability, work from home for 2 weeks, then come back to the office. Thoughts or experiences? To further complicate matters, it is my right foot and I drive 45 minutes to the office.

    1. No Longer Just a Lurker*

      My mom and best friend both had the surgery in the last 2 years. Neither had that big of a deal because, like you, they had a lot of notice and worked it out with their bosses. Your current plan sounds good but I would loop your boss in ASAP and see if you can negotiate a bit more work from home time at the end – made it a lot easier for my friend who also had it done on her right foot.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        In my experience, most short term disability requires that you be out of work for 3 weeks before it kicks in. So you’d need to take 3 weeks of PTO (or unpaid leave), then short term disability would kick in for the remaining 3-5 weeks that you’d be unable to work. I don’t know how or whether working from home could factor into the first three weeks – check with your benefits administrator!

        1. CPALady*

          Our plan kicks in after five days (you can take them unpaid or use PTO). Every plan is different, so be sure and ask.

    2. Nanc*

      My Mum had bunion surgery on both feet at the same time. She said the biggest thing coming back was she had to buy all new shoes because she walked so differently. She also got a pair of driving shoes because she had a fairly long commute and her worked shoes bugged her, even though they were just fine for the office. She did drive her route the on the weekend about a week before she went back so she could get an idea of how her right foot would do.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      When I broke my right ankle, I drove left footed until it healed. This does require a car with automatic.

    4. Windchime*

      I went through Achilles surgery a couple of years ago, also on my right foot. I was non-weightbearing for 6 full weeks. It was really difficult, because I couldn’t drive. I thought about driving left-footed but it was just too scary for me. I ended up taking 3 weeks off and then working between home and office for the rest of the time until I could at least start walking with a boot, which I was allowed to take off for driving.

      If I had to do it over again, I’d have probably just arranged to work from home full-time after 3 or 4 weeks. It was a big hassle to find someone to haul me and my knee scooter around. People were super happy to help, but I felt like I was imposing.

      Good luck. It’s really hard to be totally non-weightbearing.

  23. Anonymous Educator*

    Has anyone else been amazed by how polarizing Talia Jane’s open letter to Yelp’s CEO has been? I’ve seen a lot of “entitled Millennials!” and “I fully support you!” responses, but not a lot in between.

    1. OwnedByTheCat*

      I’m so glad you posted this. I was going to, but forgot. I’m pretty solidly in the “WTF” category and I’m a millenial.

      Its not that she’s a young person trying to figure it out. It’s the sheer entitlement of expecting to be promoted in less than a year, and asking for money from readers. I was flabbergasted.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, there were three things I wasn’t sympathetic with her on:
        1. If you make that little in the Bay Area, you have to have a roommate.
        2. You can’t expect to get promoted in less than a year.
        3. Don’t ask for money from your readers.

        But all the rest of the stuff, I thought people were unnecessary nitpicking (about her not always eating rice 100% all the time or her being an English major or her not being grateful enough for having health insurance).

        1. OwnedByTheCat*

          The “my rent is $1,200 and I can’t afford it “chafed me too. Get a roommate, or eight. That’s what you do in your twenties, or live in a studio with two cats and two dogs (my preferred roommates. I had very little personal space.)

          I think that people were reacting to the incredibly entitled tone of the piece, and the short-sighted nature of writing it in the first place. I went into a bit of bitch eating crackers mode and checked her twitter and website. The petty part of me? Thinks she’s so convinced she’s a brilliant comedy writer that she can’t see she needs to pay her dues, learn from those with more experience, and embrace some humility.

          Also, I have an English major and it’s served me well, thank you very much interwebz.

          Also, also: I think most people are disgustingly broke and have many lessons to learn right out of college. Perhaps it shouldn’t be that way, but her piece wasn’t about the injustice of minimum wage or how student debt leaves us with less choices. Rather, she wants to skip the professional and real world lessons she needs to learn and jump right into a great job/apartment/city/writing career. Those don’t happen overnight.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            The “my rent is $1,200 and I can’t afford it “chafed me too. Get a roommate, or eight. That’s what you do in your twenties, or live in a studio with two cats and two dogs (my preferred roommates. I had very little personal space.)

            I’m fully on board with the idea of her getting roommates. I know a few people in their 20s in the Bay Area who have 4-5 roommates sharing a house or large apartment, and paying around $800-1000 each instead of $1200.

            That said, you’re not going to find any studios in San Francisco going for $1200. My spouse and I had to move last year, and the cheapest (tiniest) studio we could find in a cheaper neighborhood was $2200. We ended up getting a one-bedroom in a cheaper neighborhood for $3000.

            When people say Bay Area housing prices (buying or renting) have gotten ridiculous, they’re not joking. But, yes, all the more reason to get a roommate. I make way more than Talia Jane did, but I still would probably get a roommate if I wasn’t married (which is really, financially speaking rent-wise, pretty much the same as having a roommate).

            1. OwnedByTheCat*

              I wish I lived in the Bay – it’s my favorite part of the country – but the rent situation is exactly why it’s very low on my list of places to relocate to! And that’s with Chicago rents going up year after year. Like you, the only reason I don’t have a roommate is because I live with my fiance so we are ablet o share the expenses. Rent sucks.

              Other people have pointed out that she may have roommates. Very possible! I stick to the rest of my disgruntled comments though :)

            2. fposte*

              They were always ridiculous. I lived in San Francisco in the mid-1980s, and I worked for a national company that had salary bands according to local COL–San Francisco was the peak, higher than New York. And I’ve never paid as much for housing since then, includes the mortgage on my house now.

              1. Anonymous Educator*

                There’s ridiculous, and then there’s ridiculous, though. When my spouse and I first moved to San Francisco right at the dot-com burst, we got a one-bedroom for $1300. Now one-bedrooms are going for $3000 in the cheaper neighborhoods.

                1. lfi*

                  yup… bay area “milennial” here… we stayed in our rent controlled apt until we decided to move to the east bay. in oakland last night we saw a 1 bedroom for 2200. holy cow.

                2. Anonymous Educator*

                  Yeah, we’re kicking ourselves that we ever moved away. If we’d kept our rent-controlled apartment, we’d be paying less than half what we currently pay… in the same neighborhood!

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I don’t think she does. She makes no mention of sharing rent with anybody. And she said she had to live 30 miles outside of SF to get a $1200 apartment. If you have roommates in SF, you can get a shared living arrangement for as “cheap” as $650 a month. You won’t get an apartment to yourself for less than $2000, but with roommates you can easily get the rent under $1000.

              1. Anonymous Educator*

                So interesting. She had to find an at least $2400 apartment 30 miles outside of SF?

                As I mentioned before, my spouse and I were able to find a $2200 studio in SF (including a garaged parking space). It was tiny, but it could have worked for her. That wouldn’t have saved her a whole bunch on rent ($100 per month), but her commute would have been a hell of a lot cheaper and shorter (just take the MUNI instead of BART). MUNI sucks, but it’s only about $70/month as a flat fee. BART is about $4-6 each way, which adds up to a lot (with her commute, it’s probably upwards of $200 per month).

                1. Lily in NYC*

                  I guess it depends on the neighborhood. People said she lived in a $$$ area but I don’t know SF at all. And it all seems cheap to me! Living in NYC has completely skewed my reality of housing costs.

                2. Anonymous Educator*

                  There isn’t a whole lot in the Bay Area outside of San Francisco that’s more $$$ than San Francisco (except maybe some mansions in the peninsula like Hillsborough or Woodside). I thought if she’s living 30 miles outside of SF, the point was to get something cheaper than she could get in SF. Even the “cheaper” neighborhoods in San Francisco are extremely expensive.

                  Think of it like paying cheapest-neighborhood-in-Manhattan rents but in Elizabeth, NJ—if she has a roommate, that’s essentially what she’s doing.

                3. ThatGirl*

                  She did say she wanted to be near her dad, which seems like solid reasoning at the time.

                  I mean, don’t get me wrong, there were things in her post that bothered me. But the fact is that rent is horrible in the Bay Area and many workers aren’t being paid a living wage, and the CEO’s totally tone-deaf response was to say they’re moving jobs to Arizona … which helps the people in SF how?

                4. Lily in NYC*

                  Hmm, now I’m second-guessing myself because the article on Business Insider seems to assume she lives alone. I could have sworn I saw confirmation she had roommates but that doesn’t mean it’s true!

                5. Anonymous Educator*

                  Someone posted this link in the dedicated-to-this-issue post, and it seems to confirm that Talia Jane wanted a roommate but ultimately did not get one:

                  The employee who recommended the job to me—we actually looked at apartments together before I had to move up. He backed out, so I had to find something else. Being brand new to an area with no safety net of close friends or family on top of being a young woman, I didn’t feel safe just blindly rooming with someone off Craigslist. So my new plan was to take the cheapest place I could find that would accept my application, befriend someone at work, and have a roommate/move somewhere affordable within three months. But none of my coworkers were going anywhere, so I had to find a new plan.

        2. Brett*

          Most bay area cities have occupancy permitting for rental units. This is really common in my state, so I asked around with several people to confirm it is common in the bay area.
          This greatly limits your ability to have roommates; your rental unit is restricted to a certain number of unrelated people (often just 1!) and that’s it. Landlords are very strict about it, because they can lose their occupancy permits on all of their rental units over allowing a single over-occupancy unit.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Still not impossible, though. You can get a 4-bedroom in Excelsior for $3400. Split four ways, that’s $900 per person. That won’t have her living in the lap of luxury, but it’d give her an extra $300 over what she had, on top of utilities/Internet/groceries being split four ways and having efficiency of scale. I know people in shared housing. They don’t love it, but they do it, and it works.

        3. TowerofJoy*

          I don’t think roommates are always the easy solution people make them out to be. If you don’t have friends you can count on to room with you, you have to worry about whatever unknown you can get through ads. I don’t think I need to list all the problems that can come up that way, but they range from mildly inconvenient to downright dangerous. If you’ve had roommates you’ve probably experienced some part of that spectrum. Heck, even when they’re you’re friends it can be problematic. I don’t like my financial and personal well-being dependent on random strangers.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            But I think that’s why people don’t get her moving to the Bay Area on a minimum-wage salary. I’m not down with all the food shaming (yes, if you live on mostly rice, you can occasionally indulge in something tasty / healthy, and that doesn’t mean you aren’t really poor), but if you know you’d be making minimum wage and you know you don’t want to have roommates, you can’t really feasibly move to the Bay Area. That sucks. I totally get that sucks. But you just don’t do it. You either A) get a high-paying job (not always easy to get, B) get roommates, or C) live in a different city. Sad, but true.

    2. Brett*

      I am amazed at how many people have no concept of Protected Concerted Activity and how it might apply to the situation. (I’ve read some legal writing on the specific topic, and it is not clearly PCA or clear not PCA, but so many people seem to think that it is perfectly fine to fire an employee for speaking publicly about poor pay or poor work conditions.)

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’d love to hear your explain more about how PCA applies to this situation. I don’t know much about PCA.

        1. Brett*

          If she raised a PCA case (she won’t, because her intent was likely to create publicity to launch her media career she wants), the crux would be whether or not her action was concerted. She was acting alone, but if she involved other employees in planning her action or she was definitively acting on behalf of other Yelp employees by making the post it could still be considered concerted under recently NLRB rulings. If she really wanted to take this to the NLRB, she would probably have the best chance arguing that she was attempting to act on behalf of other similarly situated Yelp employees with her call out letter.

          The next is whether she was seeking to benefit other employees. If she can make the concerted action argument, this one is not that difficult; she was advocating for higher pay for other employees (and even made suggestions on how to do that).

          The last piece though is whether the activity was reckless or malicious. From what I have read, Yelp could win here in the theoretical case not because she was trying to cause PR damage (concerted activity often causes PR damage), but because her letter did reveal Yelp trade secrets when she discussed the training procedures.

          Yelp has made it very clear the letter had nothing to do with the firing and that they consider the post important free speech. I am pretty sure their lawyers see the potential PCA implications and made sure to head that off quickly. (Meanwhile, I suspect she knew the termination was coming and went out in a blaze of glory and publicity.)

    3. ElCee*

      I think there are some specifics of her position that made me roll my eyes (the “ask” for money, living alone in a notoriously high-COL area) but really, I think it is important to speak openly about such an abysmal wage and I am glad she did it. If wanting to get paid a living wage is “entitled” then count me as an entitled princess I guess.

      1. Dot Warner*

        I agree! I won’t deny that Talia made a number of bad decisions, but employees deserve a living wage, and in San Francisco, $8/hr is most definitely NOT a living wage. If Yelp can’t afford to pay call center employees more than $8/hr or thinks that $8/hr is a fair price to pay for that labor, fine, those are reasonable decisions. But if that’s the wage you want to pay, it’s not ethical to locate your call center in the most expensive area of the country! In my home state (Kansas) there are a lot of counties that offer free land to industry, and it’s much easier for a person to make a living on $8/hr out there than in SF.

    4. Christian Troy*

      TBH, I didn’t read her letter because duh. High cost of living and terrible salaries is not news. SF is insanely expensive but a lot of people in their 20s move there because it’s a cool city. If you want to live in a cool city, you’re doing to have to take a hit somewhere if you don’t have an in demand degree or move back to some lower cost, middle american city.

    5. T3k*

      I hadn’t heard of this, so I went to find it and read it. All I can go is “woooow.” She gives other Millennials, like myself, a bad name. Yes, the pay sucks but she’s the one that decided to move to one of the most expensive cities in the country. I may see myself as a non-risk taker, but if I was going to move to a far more expensive area, I’d at least see if it was plausible first.

    6. FD*

      It doesn’t really surprise me that it’s polarizing, though for me, it falls somewhere in the middle.

      On one hand, there are a number of choices that, from the outside, seem really stupid to me.

      First of all, if you have a choice of where to move, moving to California seems totally bizarre to me. Look, you’re not going to get a high profile media job out of the gate, no matter how well you did in school–at least not unless you have connections that the writer clearly doesn’t. You’re probably going to be working in some no-name station in Backwoodsville first off, and work your way up from there. Why move to somewhere notorious for having absurdly high costs of living?

      Second of all, if you’re going to do an expose on your employer, why on earth are you doing it with your own name? If it gets widely distributed–and you clearly hope it will be–your employer is likely to be angry at you. Even if you don’t get fired, no sane organization will ever promote you to a position where you will be representing them. Beyond that, you’ve probably damaged your future prospects, because if I’m a company, I will now think three times before hiring you to do my social media. What if you use that access to damage my reputation?

      Thirdly, you agreed to work in a call center. Turnover is high because most people don’t do well in an environment where they get shouted at regularly. Even places that pay well have this problem because most people don’t handle the pressure well. She probably actually would have been better off taking a job at CVS or the like.

      Beyond that, I’ll be honest, as a fellow millennial, it’s extremely annoying to me to hear someone complaining about health insurance that sounds AMAZING. Around here, most places are offering high deductible plans, so you don’t get any coverage at all (except for an extremely narrow group of preventative care) until you hit $4k-$12k out of pocket for the year. Being able to get therapy for $35/session sounds pretty darn good to me! (Also, if she’s making that little, she really should qualify for free or no-cost coverage through the marketplace, but I digress.)

      In addition, like many other people, I think it’s galling that she’s scandalized by having to pay her dues. Of course, you aren’t going to get promoted for at least a year. You have to establish a reputation for being good at your job before anyone’s going to promote you.

      That said, though…I also get it.

      Our whole lives, we were told that if you stayed in school and worked hard, all the doors would open for you on graduation. That’s simply not true, and that lie has been very damaging for a lot of millennials. It’s been a particular issue because I know many of my peers were discouraged from working during high school and even college so that they could focus on their studies instead. Even six years later, I’m still far ahead of those peers in my career, because I started working in high school and therefore qualified for better-paying jobs after I graduated (better paying was still around $10.50/hr, which was around $3 above minimum wage, but it was still a major leg up). I can understand why she’s frustrated that she’s been deceived for the last 16 years.

      I also think it’s appalling the way many places treat entry level workers, especially in settings where there are are more job-seekers than there are jobs. It’s also shortsighted–customer service is HARD, and a lot of people are lousy at it. In my experience, places that pay above the average are able to get and keep better employees in the long term.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Our whole lives, we were told that if you stayed in school and worked hard, all the doors would open for you on graduation. That’s simply not true, and that lie has been very damaging for a lot of millennials.

        I’m not a Millennnial, but this is what I don’t get about older people complaining about Millennials (apart from the fact you can’t paint everyone in a generation with the same brush). To the extent that some subset of Millennials lives up to the “entitled” stereotype, whose fault is that? My generation’s fault. It’s the Gen X’ers and the Baby Boomers. We’re the ones who raised Millennials, so the Millennials (not all of them, obviously) who have those problematic attitudes and had those unrealistic expectations… we didn’t raise them right—we, the older generations.

        1. FD*

          In strict fairness, it’s not 100% their fault either. They taught their kids what was true for them. My father graduated college and within a year, had a well-paying job in his field, and where his employer expected to train him, and retain him for most of his life. For his generation, college was the ticket we were promised.

          I think the problem is that when more and more people started having degrees, just having a degree didn’t make you stand out any more. Employers could afford to look for degree AND experience, because there were lots of workers on the market who had both. Of course, that was also shortsighted, because when the economy picked back up, they are now realizing that they have a lot of Baby Boomers retiring, and not enough trained Millennials to take their place, because they didn’t bother training us when they had the time.

          That said, it is pretty annoying that the parents who set now-unrealistic expectations for their children get angry because their children have unrealistic expectations!

          1. TowerofJoy*

            I don’t necessarily blame them for getting millennials into the mess, you’re right – it was real for them and they assumed it would be real for their children, but I do blame them for their haughty attitudes post-recession, all the stereotypes they’ve heaped on them, and the general mess they’ve created by acting like they’re some sort of foreign species.

            1. T3k*

              This. My dad was one of those “study and you’ll get a great job after college.” He only backed off my case when, during my year of unemployment between college and my first job, I finally got fed up and emailed him that I was NOT sitting around my mom’s house, eating bonbons, and playing games all day, that I was actually spending a lot of my time wondering what I did wrong, crying, and feeling like a failure. And hell, he wasn’t even giving money to help out. The one time he offered to, it was a pitiful amount (would have only covered 2 months of my cell phone bill, nothing else) and wanted me to sign a contract that was heavily in his and his 2nd wife’s favor.

            2. Natalie*

              I think people are scared, frankly – it can be hard to get up in the morning if you think you might work as much as possible and still end up on whatever today’s version of the breadline is. It’s a lot more comforting to think struggling people just need a good talking to or whatever.

              1. FD*

                Very true. I volunteered a few years back for a local food bank. Our community is pretty prosperous–median income well above the national average, and very low unemployment rate–but it was still humbling to see how many people came in on an average day for their one cart of free food per month. The vast majority of the people who qualified were employed, and many worked two minimum-wage jobs. But that just doesn’t go that far, particularly if you have a child or two.

              2. TowerofJoy*

                Understandable and a good point. Plus, many of the Baby Boomers are feeling the hits as well. I know a number of them that have taken huge pay cuts and can’t switch jobs because they don’t have the “right” degree or need another one they can’t afford, right at the point where they should be ready to retire.

      2. OwnedByTheCat*

        Thank you for this well thought out response!

        One more thing that hackled me. You said I think it’s galling that she’s scandalized by having to pay her dues. Of course, you aren’t going to get promoted for at least a year. You have to establish a reputation for being good at your job before anyone’s going to promote you.

        I also think it’s a bit galling how dismissive she is of working in a call center. She wants to be some amazing creative but she’s poo pooing a job. Not to say “you have a job so suck it up and appreciate it,” but, you took the job. Be appreciative of the opportunity that you can get promoted in a year, that you have health insurance and some semblance of stability. Like you say, customer service is incredibly hard. It’s a skill. Maybe don’t act like it’s such a chore to go to work every day just because you don’t have a shiny marketing career?

        The whole letter just pissed me off. Harumph.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I also think it’s a bit galling how dismissive she is of working in a call center. She wants to be some amazing creative but she’s poo pooing a job.

          Even though I love the Millennial podcast (if you haven’t heard it, it’s about one woman in her 20s talking about navigating her 20s), one part I didn’t like was when the narrator took a job at a restaurant and really felt like “I’m better than this” and had this sort of attitude of “my co-workers think this is a career, but I’m just in the trenches until I can do something better.” It’s totally fine to have ambition. I just can’t abide people looking down on call center folks, receptionists, manual laborers, waitstaff, etc. Every job is a dignified job if you find it fulfilling and it sort of (even if just barely) pays your bills.

          1. FD*

            I had an employee I managed who had been doing it for 20 years, and she was fiercely proud of her job and her abilities. She had gotten to the point where she had a following, and would get $100 tips about one a month.

          2. catsAreCool*

            “I just can’t abide people looking down on call center folks, receptionists, manual laborers, waitstaff, etc.” This!

        2. FD*

          Yeah, that part annoyed me too. I’ve been doing customer service in various forms for a decade, and it’s something I take extremely seriously. I do get how difficult it can be if you don’t have the temperament for it, but it’s frustrating when people look down on it as inherently less than other types of job.

          (That said, considering that so many customer service employers also don’t really value the skill and pay absolute crap for it, I sort of understand why she’d feel the same way.)

          But I do want to at least give her one thing. Customer service can be extremely, extremely difficult for people who don’t have a strong sense of self worth. You have to be able to have people shouting at you and keep calm. I still have days where a customer gets me, and I need a few minutes to cry it off, and I’ve been doing this for quite a while. From what she said, it sounds like she may have a background that would make it a lot harder to hold up under call center conditions.

    7. TowerofJoy*

      I’m pretty in-between. I remember what its like to be that age and be scraping things together, looking left and right to other 20 somethings that had better jobs, family to fall back on, whatever the case was that was “more”. It is disheartening. On the other hand, I look back and see that as a lesson I needed to learn. It made me a better and wiser person as I got older, and I don’t think I’d go back and change it. So I do have a bit of that “she needs to pay her dues” attitude, though, I know younger me would be shaking my head.

      1. FD*

        Yeah. I am constantly reminded how ridiculously lucky I was–got a full tuition scholarship and my parents were able to help with my other expenses, worked in high school so I wasn’t a complete rookie when I graduated, had family I could live with when I graduated so that I didn’t have to find an apartment right away, and found a great roommate (who I ended up marrying). I definitely understand the frustration; I just think that someone interested in doing media for a living should know better than publishing something like this under her own name!

    8. Sunflower*

      I was floored that she had the audacity to ask for money from readers. That beyond anything else was the most disgusting thing I read.

      I think she raised a lot of good points- insane COL, entry level salaries are low, college debt is crazy. But her entitledness overpowered all of these things. I think most readers have been in her shoes before- I’ve definitely skipped meals before to save money and it’s not a fun situation to be in. I’ve also done it knowing I would be able to go out and have drinks with my friends on Saturday if I did. That was a tradeoff for me and part of my budget. I was incredibly turned off that her response to being paid this little was to write this letter. I saw nothing about her job searching or finding new employment. Also as someone who works in a ‘fun’ industry, I found her disillusion at the realities of her industry incredibly bizarre- social media is not about just writing tweets. I work in event planning- if I or someone actually thought my job was about planning fun, glamorous parties and not deadlines and budgets, I would tell them to turn around and come back when they’ve grown up. I thought it was common knowledge that in media and highly desired industries, you’re basically an assistant/intern until you aren’t basically.

      I think the problem beyond anything here is that people need to be more realistic about the world. She wants a job writing funny tweets and memes. As someone in a response letter said, you want to be paid for the work a high schooler without a college degree could do. IMHO they should be hiring college kids part time to do that job and have a FT supervisor who monitors them. I also wonder what she thinks she should be paid. I have lots of teacher friends who think they are making way less than us in the for-profit world and trust me they aren’t. Even people working highly coveted jobs are not making that much- starting salary for an entry-level auditor at a Big 4 in NYC is less than 60k. This is probably due to the growing need to ‘keep up with the Jones’ now that people love to make their lives seem way better on social media than it really is.

      Side note- I don’t work in Media but I often wonder what people on sites like Buzzfeed and Elite Daily make and if they, ironically, are plugging themselves into debt trying to stay cool enough to stay at their job that doesn’t pay enough.

    9. Meliora*

      I kindof depersonalized it when I read it. It’s easy to say she should have known better and that this is how the world is. But the point I got was that this shouldn’t be how the world is, and that those who are complacent are complicit. I mean, that is what I see from young people all over the Internet from every angle of activism and social justice I can think of. “This sucks! Something should be done! Something should have been done before it got this bad!” I can’t disagree to much. Although I think a lot of younger people misunderstand how the world was better and worse for people in the past.

      But wouldn’t it be refreshing to read something like that and be able to imagine that she could actually hope to get what she wanted? Not in a take 4 hypothetical steps back and point out would be worse off for her to get her living wage, and opportunities, but to assume briefly that people suffering (at whatever first world entry level pain even) wasn’t inevitable?

      That’s what I got out of the whole thing.

      1. FD*

        I’ve thought about things along those lines for a while, and this is the way I think about it–although it’s not the ONLY way to think about it.

        A lot of the time, people only are able to change the system once they’ve succeeded in the system first. That’s part of the reason that it’s so hard to change the system in the first place. For example, think about women in the workforce. Change started slowly as the first women were able to show that they were smarter and better than anyone else, and demanded to be allowed opportunities. For those first women, it wasn’t enough to be as good as a man, they had to be twice as good just to get in the front door.

        Those first women were able to mentor other young women, and as they slowly started to gain a larger share of the workforce, they were able to bring more changes in. (Although not all women have chosen to help others, and change is still slow and incremental today.)

        I agree that the system itself is broken. It’s broken in ways that are stupid and self-destructive for businesses too. For example, it’s actually really shortsighted to pay your employees poorly and treat them badly. The best employees will leave when they get a better offer elsewhere. Over time, companies get a reputation and fewer really good employees want to work for them. The problem is that companies and people simply DON’T always act in their best interest.

        But this sort of letter isn’t likely to fix it. In fact, it’s nearly guaranteed to have the opposite effect–it caused her to lose her job and will probably make it harder to get one in the future. In general, I think that change is more likely to come when people who have experienced this sort of BS but still managed to succeed start getting into positions of authority. That might mean a business owner who remembers what it was like to be 20 and not sure where your rent check was going to come from, and who decides to pay employees a living wage because s/he thinks it’s the right thing to do. It might mean people who are mid-level managers working to mentor young people coming out of college, and helping them network more effectively. It might mean people being inspired to start nonprofits to help people struggling to pay for rent or living expenses.

        This is not fair, and it’s problematic, too. The first people who blaze the trail often need protection and help from those who are already privileged. (For example, in parts of the gay community, many people feel frustrated that they have been speaking out about discrimination for years, yet when straight allies say something about it, they are much more likely to be listened to and to be praised for open-mindedness.)

        Personally, I’ve decided that I’d rather change the world by being practical about an unfair system than by trying to fight the system from the outside, but I understand and respect why other people disagree.

      2. Marcela*

        Precisely, Meliora. For me the wonder is that people are dissecting every one of her choices, instead of doing the same thing for the system. Perhaps it wasn’t realistic what she did, but for me it’s more important to ask if it was fair. After all, most of us are not her or the person in charge of salaries in yelp, so either position is just hypothetical: why choose to defend a horrifying system? Because when we say “I survived to this broken system working hard”, we are saying too “the unsuccessful didn’t work hard at all”. And the reality is not that binary. So why focus in her gym membership (as I read somewhere) instead of the crazy low salaries and high rents in the Bay Area? Maybe because she is just one and the system is big enough to be approximated as infinite, so it’s easier to change her than the system? Maybe because we love to feel that our fortune is not luck but a direct consequence of our effort (which research has shown is not just a simple as that)?

        I don’t know, but this is the second time this week I’m bitterly disappointed. For this almost religious belief that people are 100% responsible of what happens to them (choices, choices) is preventing us to create a better system, with more justice and equality. I have family and friends in the unlucky side of life, so I can’t -and I won’t- pretend that my strong ethic is the thing giving me the happy and comfortable life I enjoy today, and that all of them have made choices that put them in their crappy current circumstances. It is truly horrible to see so many people believing otherwise.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          For me the wonder is that people are dissecting every one of her choices, instead of doing the same thing for the system.

          I think there are two reasons for that:

          1. She’s sharing a lot of details of her life publicly, and “the system” isn’t.

          2. It’s a lot easier for one person to change her own behavior and make different decisions than for only one person to change “the system.” Yes, if people work hard enough in a group long enough, they can make real change, but it isn’t as easy as just changing your own life.

  24. Hope*

    Any tips on putting off a job offer when you think a better one might be in the offing? A former co-worker wants to hire me back into my old company (which has recently been sold out of private equity — the real reason I left — to a private owner I used to work for (industry consolidation). It sounds like a fairly easy job and I know the industry well. But last week I got a call re: a job I think might be better. However, it’s in the early stages and I might have to give former co-worker an answer soon. Anyone have any clever delay tactics? Thanks!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t really seen delay tactics work very well, unless you are an extremly sought-after candidate. In one case, I knew someone who just burnt a bridge—she accepted one job knowing full well she’d accept the other if it came. The second job offer came, and she (after having accepted the first job) reneged and then took the second job. In another case, someone else I knew had a job offer on the table and tried to use that as leverage to get the other place to speed up their hiring process, but they said they weren’t going to pursue her as a candidate, so she just took the other offer. Best of luck!

      1. Hope*

        Thanks! I don’t have the stomach to accept an offer and then renege, especially given I am work friends with the guy likely to make the first offer. I tried to contact possible offer #2 today to see where they stand, but haven’t heard back. I guess what will be will be. :-)

    2. Trill*

      Do they have other candidates who are waiting to hear back in case you turn down the job? If so, I wouldn’t try to delay too long. If you end up declining they may lose the other candidates to other offers or add extra stress to the candidates who are kept waiting for a yes or no.

      If you’re the only person they’re considering then its more reasonable to ask for more time, and they will probably be more likely to allow it. I got a really quick offer in my recent job search. It was based on a phone interview and would have required relocating so I asked to be able to fly out and meet the team/see the city before I committed. In the mean time I was offered another job . Since I hadn’t met the team on the first job, I didn’t know which would be the better fit so I asked the second job if I could give them a decision after I met in person with the first job. Both jobs agreed to the delay, but in both cases I was the only candidate and both jobs had been vacant for awhile so they were kind of desperate.

      Make sure to also consider that you may not get an offer on the second job. Or as you get further in the interview process you may realize that its not that great. If you’d be happy at the first job, and you can’t delay, I would probably consider taking it.

      1. Hope*

        Thanks for the input! I’m in a pretty small industry, so we all know each other from past connections (i.e. job offer #1 also knows possible job offer #2). But it’s not as open as your situation was for sure. I’m trying to stay as low key as I can. It’s probably just going to come down to timing.

        You are totally right…I don’t have as solid a feeling about the second possible job, and I think I’m the only candidate on the first one…it’s just a timing thing to get their budget/team plan in place. So if push comes to shove, I’ll probably end up taking Job 1.

  25. HardwoodFloors*

    At oldjob my boss felt I was poor at time management (I was doing my job and the one a fired employee used to do) so I was made to chart my projects I worked on in 15 minute increments every day for nine months. I was exempt. Has anyone ever found this time management technique helpful? I think it was micromanagement.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      God no! That is awful. I guess I could maybe see it if you were in a billing environment but even that would seem extreme.

      1. Anonyhippo*

        I’ve been asked to do this several times. It was super annoying. The best result was it seemed to stop them from complaining that I did too little and was paid too much. ;-)

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’ve had to work where the billing required us to keep track of time in 1/10th of an hour segments: 6 minute increments. However, it wasn’t because anyone thought we were poor at time management.

      I handled it by having an online journal, where I put down the time and what I was working on, and added something every time that changed. So at the end of the day it was easy to add up the time spend on each task. I still do the same thing, but since it’s not required for billing, I only track to the nearest half hour.

    3. AnotherFed*

      Perhaps not for time management, but for keeping billing correct, developing the baseline metrics for how long particular tasks take and/or what the overhead time is (training, fighting IT, admin, etc. tasks that don’t directly add value), it could be useful.

      Keep in mind, I am from the land of tracking time in 6 minute increments, so 15 minutes doesn’t seem bad at all!

    4. Ad Astra*

      For 9 months? No. If your boss was legitimately concerned, he could have had you track your projects for a week — maybe two depending on the type of work you do — and that would have told him everything he needed to know. The purpose of a time audit like this is to track how you’re using your time and identify any possible time wasters. Sounds like your manager was using it punitively, or just boneheadedly.

      I think even the most meticulous people would only be planning their days down to the hour. And not tracking them like this — just planning. Any more than that and your newest time waster becomes the planning/tracking itself.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I think even the most meticulous people would only be planning their days down to the hour

        You’ve obviously never worked for the government…uh, I mean, good point.

  26. TMA*

    I’ve been charged with helping improve internal communications within in our division. Any suggestions?

    Right now I’m working on a Sharepoint site to consolidate information, redesigning our weekly newsletter (contains updates like travel, hiring, visitors–we’re Fed contractors), putting together comprehensive marketing materials (like slide decks and fact sheets), anything else?

    Also what should I include on the Sharepoint homepage?

    1. Nanc*

      “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

      Can you tell I’ve never had a good Sharepoint experience? And I think that’s because of poorly designed home pages. And stuff was labeled odd names–slide decks were labeled as Presos (presentations), brochures were called collateral, emails were called edms (electronic direct mail). I ended up creating a cheat sheet that I shared with everyone.

      Ahem, not that you’re going to do any of that! One thing I would suggest is that you have a spreadsheet or database of a content inventory and that gets reviewed at least once a year. Also, have a naming structure for docs, a list of tags (for consistency) and be sure every doc has a publication date.

    2. Gillian*

      Divide things to be communicated into “need to know” and “nice to know” buckets. Spend most of your communications time on the “need to knows.” Learn how to say no to the people pushing the “nice to knows.” (It’s great if you’re starting a free snacks program, but if the same day that’s starting, the President is coming to visit and therefore no one can park in Lot A, that’s the message you need to focus on, or people will have their cars towed by the secret service).

      How do people find out about changes/events/organizational news? Make it easy for them to understand what’s appropriate for what channels (what goes in a document on the Sharepoint site versus what gets emailed to the whole division) and for them to find out what all the options are. And then make it easy for them to submit their news/changes to the right place so it’s easier for you.

      If you have the time, look at your company culture and ask around for how people like to learn their information – emails, physical fliers, in-person meetings, directly from their manager, whatever else. Then target your efforts on that. You could have the most fantastic newsletter ever, but if people only want to check the break room bulletin board for news and throw the newsletter in the trash/deleted emails folder, then your time and effort’s not been used best.

      And once you settle on what you’re doing – make sure everyone knows about your communications efforts/standards/programs by communicating about them through a different vehicle – send everyone an email with the link to the Sharepoint site, for instance. If there are messages out there but no one knows how to find them, they’re not very useful. Hope this helps!

    3. Christina*

      Oh God, we moved our intranet off of our org’s regular website to SharePoint a few years ago and are now in the process of trying to move everything back. I HATE SharePoint.

  27. Yikes*

    I’m just finishing up my first year at a new job that I relocated for. I recently found out that the company is closing my small satellite office and we will either be set to work from home or be moved to an office that is in another state. A round trip commute to it would be over three hours per day.

    I paid for this relocation myself because I believed it would be a permanent move that was to the financial benefit of my family. We were in a very high cost of living area so it was an improvement. The cost of the relocation was huge because we had to pay for two homes at the same time for several months, we lived in different places and traveled back and forth, we rent so we laid down a much bigger security deposit here than usual since we had “two homes”, paid out last month’s rent on the new place, plus the cost of the actual move itself. In total it was a nearly $10,000 investment to move. We also signed a two year lease that we are only a year into and it would cost thousands to break.

    I get that those were my choices and the company is not at fault or responsible for that. To think about doing this again, less than a year out has me really worried. Mostly because we just don’t have the money this time around. Additionally, the new location is significantly higher in cost of living and close to the situation we just left. It’s likely going to cost between $6000-$10,000 more per year for us to live there, which is no small sum.

    I’m 99% sure they won’t be offering relocation assistance to move if that’s what they decide to do. I want to be prepared for the conversation. I could not have accepted this job under the current salary at the new location and the cost of the relocation, a second year in a row, will be an additional hit. I need some advice on how I can navigate this professionally and ask for more money if they don’t offer it, without blowing myself out of the water and risk losing my job all together.

    1. Jessica*

      Sorry this is happening! It sounds like the best-case scenario is that they allow you to work from home, right? That’s what I think you should push for, even if the rest of the office moves. I’m no expert, but from reading AAM it seems like it is hard to justify a raise because you need more money, instead of arguing that you deserve a raise because you have benefited the company in some way.
      You should probably start looking around at other jobs in the area as well. If you really can’t afford to move again, and the company refuses to let you work from home, you’ll have no other option but to look for a new job. (It could also give you some leverage in negotiating with your current company.)

    2. Marketeer*

      If working from home is an option, then you should try to negotiate that aspect. Otherwise, it doesn’t hurt to ask that they offer relocation assistance. I can’t imagine that they think the whole office will just up and move without some kind of compensation.

    3. Yikes*

      We are hoping for work from home but are not 100% sure they will allow it. They are not doing a great job of talking to us about this and it’s hard to tell who is making the decision on that or what they are actually weighing.

      The whole office wouldn’t be moving. It would just be 3 of us. We are a small office to begin with but another team, that is in part of a different org of the business, has been told that they will be working from home but that their jobs are being eliminated in the next couple of years. So they have no reason to move. The rest of us are in a different situation.

      You’re right, it’s not reasonable to argue for a raise just because I need more money. My one year review is coming up and I’ve done well, so I can probably make a case for one anyway. I was thinking maybe I could make a case for the going salary for my position might be higher in the other area. I’ve never negotiated or asked for a raise before so I am worried about handling it right.

      1. MK2000*

        Although I agree that you can’t usually ask for a raise just because you need more money, this is different because they’re changing the terms such that the salary you agreed to is no longer competitive. You can tell them that, like you said above, “I could not have accepted this job under the current salary at the new location” and you wanted to know how they plan to address the salaries so that they reflect the increased cost of living in the new city. (This sounds intimidating, but it’s something they will probably have to do eventually, because if they don’t do it for you and you have to quit, they’ll have to do it later in order to fill the position with an equally qualified candidate in their new location). It sounds like your options are 1) see if you can work from home, 2) if not, see if they will add a cost-of-living increase to your salary to reflect the standard of living in the location you will have to move to, 3) if not, start to look for another job. I hope you’ll report back with good news :)

  28. Bowserkitty*

    OP#5 from the other day’s letter – the one where she thinks her boss is asking her to change her personality – really reminded me of an issue I experienced at OldJob that I still look back at with rolled eyes.

    We had Exec Admin who was the main admin for my area of the company, and I was the regular admin for my own department. She was always very cold and unapproachable and even rude if you asked questions. (For example, one time I was working a charity event with her, signing people in together, and a woman came up and they had a friendly conversation like they’d known each other for years. After the woman left to join the event, I asked Exec Admin who it had been and she snapped at me to pay attention to badges because she couldn’t be expected to keep track of them all. And this was just outside work hours!) To this day the woman is known for being somebody the other employees desperately try to avoid if it comes to requests.

    One day Old Boss told me – randomly – that I should start looking to Exec Admin for guidance and began listing things to watch for. One was to “observe how she dresses.”

    There was nothing wrong with the way I dressed. I dressed business casual for a 25-year-old. Exec Admin was in her late 50s.

    I was pretty offended (-___________-)


    Also, lately I’ve been having recurring dreams where I’m working both jobs again! For reference, I was let go from my old job during a company-wide mass lay-off, but I was in the middle of a job search and hated my job (up above was just one of many crazy things that happened with Old Boss) so it wasn’t a HUGE loss. Now I have dreams where I’m working my current job, but still working my old job and knowing I could quit at any given time and really rile up Old Boss, and that’s what my dreams center on. I think I’m subconsciously upset I never got to have my “moment” or any sort of exit interview to let HR/boss know what I thought they could improve on and had no say in how I left the company.

    On the plus side, I didn’t burn any bridges….but sigh, it’s nice to indulge the immaturity in me.

  29. pregnant_anon*

    I’m telling my boss I’d like to move up my final day of work before having my baby by a week and a half. Send good vibes? I’m totally nervous over here, but I think it’s the right thing to do to reduce my stress level. (The date is still 2.5 weeks from now, so I still feel like I’d be giving plenty of notice in the normal world.)

    1. TMA*

      Good vibes headed your way! It’s really not an outrageous thing to do. I did the same thing when I was pregnant with my first. I didn’t realize how tired (and uncomfortable, I could barely sit in my office chair) I would be. Plus I had a long walk to my office (no parking close by), and that was just miserable. Do what’s best for you.

      Good luck and congratulations!

    2. Meliora*

      Good luck! You can do it! This is my last day before my maternity leave. I decided to use vacation time to do only half days for my last week. I also left early for Dr. apts twice a week for the last two weeks which kindof set the tone winding down. It is tough! I’m almost losing faith that I will ever feel ‘normal’ again. But it’s encouraging to at least be done with working.

    3. Kate*

      Good luck! I did this with my last pregnancy, and it ended up being no big deal. My boss was fine with it, and I asked with only 2 days notice if I could start maternity leave. Hope all goes well for you!

    4. pregnant_anon*

      Thanks, everyone; it did turn out to be a total non-issue! I was prepared to have to give reasons, but my boss said it was totally fine and she understood! Huge relief.

  30. Coffee Ninja*

    I feel SO BAD for my brother. He just got laid off this morning. It’s his second job out of college – and he was laid off from his first job too!! It took him 8 months to find a job that time. I’ve sent him to AAM (multiple times) and helped him rewrite his resume and cover letter, but oh man….

      1. Coffee Ninja*

        Thank you!! I feel a little helpless because I’m a “fixer” and there’s not much I can do (he’s in a totally different field than I am).

  31. Ann Furthermore*

    Any thoughts on how to deal with a boss who is easily distracted and can’t focus? She herself says she has ADHD (although I don’t think she’s ever gotten an official diagnosis).

    It’s been an ongoing issue for many years, but manageable. In the last year or so, it’s gotten pretty bad. She’s a hands-off manager, which I really appreciate. She leaves us alone to get our work done and expects we’ll come to her for help if we need it. But there’s a difference between hands-off and completely uninvolved. I know the main reason for this is that she’s incredibly overworked, and tries to do too many things at once, and as a result, everything suffers. Things like one on ones with her team and spending time on career development fall by the wayside.

    The final straw for me was a few weeks ago when she made a big deal of setting up a meeting with a manager in another department. In short, his team is getting involved in all these different initiatives and projects that require collaborating with out team, setting up an official project, getting a PM assigned, etc. They haven’t done any of that, they just charge out and gather requirements (and incomplete requirements that aren’t documented very well at that) and then expect us to just wave a wand and make things happen. What they want to do is definitely good, and will add value, and I’m actually enthusiastic about it, but is a much bigger effort than they realize or admit. My boss wanted to meet with the manager of that group and find out what they were doing, why they were involved, what their plans were, and so on. So then I asked her how it went, and she said, “Well I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying that much attention.” So obviously she took her laptop and spent the whole time answering emails and letting someone else do the talking. Argh!!

    My other frustration is that I’ve asked her, specifically, what I need to do to be promoted. I’ve been performing at the next level for at least a year now, and I can’t get her to commit or give me any specifics. The closest thing I’ve gotten from her is, “Well, you’re moving in the right direction.” OK, that’s great, but can you quantify that for me? She leaned on me to do something a few months ago that I was flat-out opposed to, but I did it and took one for the team for the greater good. I told her when it was over, I wanted to discuss what the path to promotion was, and I never got any response. SO frustrating. I know that it’s not that she doesn’t care, or want her team to develop or succeed, but she sure makes it seem that way.

    1. Sadsack*

      What has she done to make you think she does care and that she wants your team to succeed? I would tell her at the next opportunity that you’d like to write out a development plan for getting promoted. Schedule time on her calendar if you must. If she doesn’t act on it, start looking. If she doesn’t act invested in developing and promoting you, then she probably isn’t.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Have you told her that you are frustrated? Sometimes you have to show your displeasure to get people like this to wake up. I had a boss who kept giving me the brush-off about something somewhat similar, and nothing worked until I finally made him realize I was ready to leave (without actually saying those words). He gave me the usual dismissive attitude, and this time I said “You know, I am starting to feel extremely demoralized by this”. And then I just walked away (not in a huff). He looked so surprised and lo and behold, he finally took me seriously. He was so accustomed to my being agreeable and eating shit that he assumed he could just keep giving me empty promises and that I’d take it.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I have told her I’m frustrated, but I probably didn’t communicate my message very well. Until the end of last year, I’d been on the most frustrating project I’ve ever been a part of (and I ranted about it here a few times). After a particularly infuriating incident, I kind of jokingly said that I was even considering reaching out to a group led by someone not very well respected. I was hoping that would make her realize that I really was very unhappy, but she said something like, “Well don’t come crying to me when it doesn’t work out.” She was also sort of joking about it (we have that kind of relationship).

        It’s hard for me to be straightforward about this stuff, but obviously I need to be. I got my first full-time job when I was 19, and was complaining about something job-related to my parents one day and said something like, “I’d like to see what they’d do without me if I quit.” My father took that opportunity to give me a talking-to and told me that no one is indispensable, and if I quit they’d continue to get along just fine and find someone else willing to do the job that I wasn’t. And he also told me that in most cases if you make demands like threatening to quit if you don’t get a raise will result in your employer shaking your hand and wishing you the best of luck in the future. He really drilled that idea into my head, so now the idea of saying, “I need these things to happen or I’m going to start looking elsewhere,” just feels too much like making demands.

        I am meeting with the director of our group in a couple weeks. He is meeting with everyone on his team to talk about goals, our jobs, etc. I’m going to bring this up with him and tell him that if I’ve gone as far as I’m going to go in this organization, that’s fine, but they need to tell me that. I’m the main breadwinner for my family, and I’m 48 years old. That is information I need as I try to look ahead to the last 20 years of my career. I’m frankly sick of trying to talk to my boss about it because it goes in one ear and out the other. She’ll tell the group, “I know there are people who want to move up to the next level,” but then she’ll never follow through with anyone. She’s well aware of my feelings, as I’ve expressed them to her a number of times. So now I’m going to talk to her boss about it.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I think it is fantastic that you are going to have a meeting with the director soon – it’s the perfect opportunity for you to have this conversation without it seeming like you are going over your boss’ head. I’ve seen so many managers who are afraid to approach their own bosses about getting their direct reports raises or promotions – the dept. I sit near has constant turnover because their boss is such a timid wimp and never goes to bat for her people – and then of course she freaks out when they give up and quit.

          You know, your dad’s advice was good (especially to a teenager just starting out) but not set in stone. There are ways to make it clear that you are ready to leave without giving an ultimatum. And it’s not like you are bluffing; you ARE ready to leave if necessary. I think what you are planning to say to the director when you meet is perfect. Good luck!

  32. Ms. I Need a New Job*

    I naturally do not like attending most meetings because rarely are they truly necessary. I also am an introvert, so when I have back-to-back meetings all day I get exhausted and foggy headed. As a result, I probably appear grumpy to people when really I am just tired. Do you have any advice on how best to recharge and be cheerful (for a lack of a better word) during days packed with meetings?

    Also, yay! I’m excited I get to post before comments have reached in the hundreds.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Short breaks outside and away from people. Or even hiding in the bathroom for a few extra minutes while you get back into your head.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Also, if possible (unless it would look bad) perhaps try not to eat lunch with others? If they are providing lunch, it might be hard to say no, but in addition to the short breaks in the bathroom mentioned by Master Bean Counter, perhaps it would be possible to go off-site for lunch?

      1. Ms. I Need a New Job*

        All great ideas – thanks! Any tips or “excuses” to use to break away (especially when people are gathering for lunch) without seeming rude or not looking like a team player?

        1. Master Bean Counter*

          Just tell them you have a few things to attend to, but you look forward to what ever is going on after lunch.

          1. Random Citizen*

            Especially if the meeting is at your office – you could run back to your office to catch up on some work, check email, etc.

        2. Random Citizen*

          Checking email in your car maybe, or wanting to check out a local restaurant if the meeting is offsite? Or maybe you could run a quick errand if you have enough time, even if it’s just an errand to drive around for 20 minutes and breath.

    3. LCL*

      Snacks. Lots of snacks that are healthy that your body does well with. For me that’s protein, or nuts for protein and carbs. It’s too each to skip lunch when you are sitting on your butt all day. Do as I say not as I do-I skipped breakfast this morning and crashed really hard at a midday meeting with the boss.

    4. Hypnotist Collector*

      If it’s possible, suggest that meetings be “therapy-hour length” of 50 minutes so you can at least get a ten minute break between them. I’m the same way — by the end of a day of “collaborating” and working in an open office where I’m on the aisle, I’m exhausted. My spirit crawls home every day.

    5. AnonyMouse*

      I totally empathize!

      I agree with those who say to take a short break alone. If the weather is nice go outside for a few minutes. A little natural Vitamin D, sunshine, and fresh air can really do wonders. If you have 15 minutes (or a whole lunch break) listen to some music, read a book quietly, or do a few minutes of focused breathing (try it! It’s really helpful!). I’m a total introvert and I need alone time to recharge. If you can make it a daily habit to carve out 10-15 minutes each day you’ll find you will more easily bounce back each time. On the days you have back to back meetings, these short breaks are going to be more important for you than catching back up on emails.

  33. To Gift or Not to Gift*

    Another office gifting etiquette question. My uber-department head (three levels above me but someone with whom my whole team interacts regularly) had major surgery recently. In the past, when someone has had a death in the family or surgery or whatever, our sub-department head has sent something from us. Apparently in this case, that isn’t happening (which I found out from a friend who’s a direct report of the person who had surgery, btw, not from the person who would normally be handling, but that’s another story), and we’re all on our own as far as sending something. What’s the appropriate thing to do? Should I organize a group gift from my direct team of coworkers? Should I send a card? Should I not worry about it? I don’t want us all to look like assholes, but I also I feel like we shouldn’t have to do detective work to get her address, figure out any restrictions on her activities that might be relevant, etc., and if this was really an expectation, it would have been communicated more usefully. Thoughts? (I can get the address from the person who clued me in to the situation, just not sure what the best approach is…)

  34. AnonyMoose*

    I’ve always worked in the private sector, but my current job is at a Government contractor. I know that I want to get back into a private sector job, and I know that the job I’m in currently is not a super long-term place for me to stay (smaller company, no room for advancement, limited room for learning potential)- I’ve been here a little over a year and am currently planning to start looking at the two-year mark *unless* I’m still learning/doing awesome things at that point.

    I worry about being passed over for a private-sector job if I stay here at Government Contractor for too long (private-sector thinking I can’t hack the pace because I’m used to a cushy public-sector job), but I am also conscious of the fact that I don’t want to look like a job-hopper. Does anyone have any experience making the jump from private to public back to private? Any hiring managers that can weigh in? Is it better to stay and build up a longer work history at this place or jump ship sooner and avoid any stigma from working a public-sector job?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I work in the public sector and people leave for the private sector all the time. Big-name firms actively try to poach our employees – I’m not sure why you think there’s a stigma in working for the public sector – our openings get over a thousand resumes because people know that if they work here for a couple of years, they will be able to get a very high-paying private sector job.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        This has been my experience. I worked as a (federal) government contractor for years before moving to the private sector. While there may be a perception of cushy government (civil service) jobs, IME that does not extend to contractors, who typically have stringent performance standards written into their contracts.

  35. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    It’s my second week at my new job, and I’m having such a hard time adjusting! I left a job I loved, with a great, casual culture I fit into and could be myself. My new job is super formal (I need to go suit shopping!!) and I’m on a tiny team that–though I’m sure they’ll be fine to work with, I won’t likely develop the close friendships I had at my previous job. I’m lonely, and bored by the new work, which is much less creative and collaborative than my old work. I’m committed to sticking it out–but any tips on how to motivate myself and get excited and not sad about the change? My current strategy is to focus on the fact that my commute is now awesome (2 mile bike ride on the beach, instead of 1-2 hours each way in the car), and that I’m now making 30% more than my old job. I’d like to find more to appreciate about the work and the job itself though. I do really believe in the mission of the new job, but the day to day already has me missing my old job. Ideas?

    1. Dawn*

      Been there, done that, didn’t get the t-shirt.

      It’s going to take a *while* to settle in at your new job, and I promise that after some time has passed you’ll find new things to like and parts of it that you really enjoy. Remind yourself that “Things Take Time” and remember to “Enjoy the Process”- those are the two mantras that I have repeated over and over and over and over in the past couple years and they got me through an unexpected layoff from Awesome Job and through this past year at New Job.

      Give yourself permission to be uncertain, and permission to think “Man this job is SO DIFFERENT!”, and also be sure you think to yourself “I GOT THIS!” and “I wonder what new things I’m going to learn?” and “I wonder what new skill sets I’ll adopt because this job is so different”. I was unhappy in New Job for a while because I did not let go of Old Awesome Job and was constantly comparing New Job to Old Awesome Job, which was totally unfair because they are not the same thing at all! Once I got my mind right I started realizing all the things about New Job that I liked and THEN I started realizing that I am learning way, way more at New Job than I ever could have learned at Old Awesome Job.

      Also OMG two mile bike commute on a beach? SIGN ME UP!!!

    2. Mythea*

      Could you make a point of doing a coffee or break with each of your new team mates and getting to know them personally? Try to find one good thing about every person in the new small office?

      For me, I would also list what I am going to do with the 1.5 hours I am not commuting each way. (Am I gonna read a book with those three hours, am I going to watch a TV show I missed seeing, am I going to demand cuddles from the pets, etc…)

      I would also acknowledge the change. Reach out to the coworkers who had become friends and make sure you don’t lose them, let yourself miss that office but look for things that excite you about the new one.

      Does that help?

      1. Random Citizen*

        And especially since it sounds like you enjoyed the collaborative nature of your old job, maybe you can use some of that free time to get together with some friends more often, or pick up a social hobby where you’ll get to spend time hanging around other people when you’re not at work.

    3. Ad Astra*

      For one: look at it like you get to go suit shopping, rather than you must go suit shopping.

      To ease the loneliness, ask some of your new coworkers if they’d like to get lunch. Or bring in treats and chat as you hand them out.

      Over time, you’ll hopefully be able to do challenging work you’re proud of — which should make it easier to stay motivated.

      Also, give some of your old coworkers a call every now and then!

    4. TheAssistant*

      Did you leave your old job voluntarily (not laid off)? If so, what made you excited about applying for this job? About interviewing for it? Was there anything other than money that motivated you? Try to hang on to those things!

      Also, new jobs can be incredibly boring the first few months because you don’t really know enough to be useful. But I’ve found the smaller the team, the more likely there are ways to expand your duties/grow into the role because there’s simply fewer people to do All The Things That Need Doing. So maybe play sleuth and watch for possible Things That Need Doing and start a list, so when you’re more acclimated you can see if they are realistic projects/changes to propose.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Also, new jobs can be incredibly boring the first few months because you don’t really know enough to be useful.

        I wish this was true of my new job. Management seems to think I’m much more competent than I really am, and it’s taking everything in my new manager’s power to not start dumping a full caseload on me while I’m still technically training – our workload is out of control.

  36. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    After this weekend, my career decision became crystal clear – I’m not in the right role anymore. I’m struggling because my responsibilities have switched around and I’ve come to realize that if this were the description, I would not have applied in the first place.

    The time and stress of trying to meet the expectations of a bad job fit is taking away from the important things – family and friends and enjoying each moment in the moment as much as possible. Instead on focusing on what I can do today, I’ve enmeshed in the angst of what the future might bring and how to prepare for it.

    My former boss thinks I’ve made the right decision based on his read of my new landscape. I put in a handful of apps this week, all in my wheelhouse, and received a couple bites already.

    I’m feeling hopeful about things for the first time in months.

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Quick Update: Literally 2 minutes after posting, I got a request for a panel interview next week :)

      BTW, to those who reminded me it’s OK to use the goodwill I’ve built up, thank you. I have been able to increase delegation, shift schedule, and take other actions to balance needs with my team which has helped immensely.

    2. Ama*

      I have been where you are, and being able to articulate that you’re in the wrong role and why really is a huge relief. It’s also key to getting to a role that is a better fit (which is where I am now) — I hope you get to that stage soon!

  37. Felix*

    I asked a version of this last week but am hoping for more responses:

    My current contract is coming to an end soon and I’m not loving my current line of work. I’d love to hear about what other people do that hey find fulfilling and work places that are positive and (mostly) enjoyable!

    1. Irishgal*

      I had a couple of life coaching sessions after a few years of feeling unfulfilled in work and as a result not being sure what path I wanted to take next. One thing I remember vividly is, after I took him through 12 year job history, the coach said my face and body language really lit up when I talked about 2 specific roles. He had videotaped the session and looking back I could see how I was smiling and much more animated when I was talking about those jobs and fairly flat talking about others (even though I would have been technically very successful in those roles). We then drilled down to identify what it was about those jobs that particularly enthused me and we worked out “core values” for job roles and work cultures that are essential for me. These were the need to haves and I also then have nice to haves and the “fine either way” bits. Crucially I also identified my core values outside work and it was clear some jobs (where i burnt out really quickly) were against both. So now I don’t apply for roles that don’t at least match 60% of core values in both areas and am moving my career to a place where ideally I’ll be able to have 100% met in the next 3-5 years. I feel I am now designing the life and career I love and have a clearer understanding of what that actually is.

      1. Felix*

        That career counsellor sounds amazing! Thanks for talking about the process, I’ve been feeling like I should probably explore this more, but feeling a bit burnt out doesn’t help me want to explore anything…

        1. Irishgal*

          I hear you! It gets so that the thought of the steps you need to take to change feel overwhelming in yourself so you get more stuck and more burnt out and just starting feels impossible. The first step just needs to be a phonecall/email …nothing bigger than that. A lot of them do it by Skype (including mine) so you don’t even need to leave home (which after a days work can be the last thing you want to do).

    2. Aussie academic*

      I do research into supporting people with cancer and their families (eg developing and evaluating interventions to manage symptoms, make treatment decisions, etc). At my level this requires a PhD so is a pretty long term plan for a career change, but I worked as a research assistant (with just a Bachelor degree) for a long time and really loved that too. The best bit about my job is that I feel like I am doing something meaningful and worthwhile, and am surrounded by likeminded colleagues; it’s a great atmosphere. Plus I have a lot of autonomy and can explore things I find interesting. On the downside, it can be emotionally draining (eg interviewing people who are dying and in pain) – not all the time, but it does stick with you, plus it still is “publish or perish” with an uncertain future.

      1. Felix*

        Hmm interesting! I often wonder about academia and the roles wohin universities that aren’t teaching roles. How did you get into this work?

        1. Aussie academic*

          I love being research only! I’ve done a little teaching and found it a bit emotionally exhausting for my introverted nature. In terms of how I got into it, I studied public health and started working for a psychology professor who was doing research in the area. I didn’t really know all the different kinds of research one could do when I started and really just ended up in this as she was doing it and I found it fascinating, so it was a bit of chance – very lucky for me.

  38. Meg Murry*

    My brain has turned off. I’m going to be out of office next week at a conference (where most of my customers will be too). My boss and everyone above me will be at the conference as well.

    I’ll have my laptop, but be checking email very infrequently.

    Someone want to write my out of office message for me? It’s pretty much “I’m not here all week, I might get back to you but don’t count on it, and I can’t redirect you to anyone to help you so you’re pretty much SOL” but not that rude.

    Does “I am out of the office on business with limited access to email. I will respond to your message when I return during the week of 2/29” seem too rude?

    1. Dawn*

      Nah, that’s super standard. I mean… if you wanted to you could say something like:
      “I am out of the office at a week-long conference with limited access to email. I will respond to your message when I return during the week of 2/29. If you have not heard from me by (DATE) please re-send your message again.”

      Not exactly “nicer” but at least it explains where you are (work function, not Tahiti) and a way for the sender to get in touch with you if you somehow miss their incoming email.

    2. CheeryO*

      Sounds fine to me, but aren’t you coming back on 3/7? Also, I don’t know if you necessarily need to say “on business”. I usually just default to “I am out of the office and will have limited access to email until I return on X.” I don’t think succinct out-of-office messages are rude at all – they seem to be the norm.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “Thank you for your email! Our office is attending a conference during the week of 2/29 and we will have limited access to email. I will return your email as soon as I can after I return to the office on Monday, 3/7.”

      Kind of speaking for everyone else, I know, but also making it clear that you’re all out.

    4. Jess*

      That last bit sounds fine, though maybe rephrase so you aren’t promising to reply to everyone the day you return? (This depends on your usual volume of mail.) But is the date right? If you’re out next week then are you coming back on March 7?

      “I am out of the office on business from 2/29 – 3/4, returning on Monday 3/7. I will only have limited access to email during this time, but will review all messages when I return.”

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Because of my role, I always include something to the effect of “If you didn’t include [distribution group of people who cover for me] on the original message, please forward it to [dist. group] now if you need a response right away.”

      You can substitute your boss, or the coworker who is covering for you, if you get those kinds of requests from clients.

    6. Beezus*

      That sounds fine. If most of your customers and coworkers will be there, it might be useful to mention “I’m out of the office at the Teapot Synergy Conference…” It sounds like that will actually be pretty meaningful context for most of your contacts.

      1. Ama*

        Yes — when I’m going to be out of the office with my entire department, I also include something to the effect of “I will be attending the Teapot Synergy Conference with the rest of the Spout Production Team” and whatever preferred contact you want to direct them to in a true emergency. This saves people from the chain of trying several different people and finding them all out, which in my experience is when people start to get truly frustrated by out of office messages.

  39. AdAgencyChick*

    Finally, the open thread started and I’m not in a meeting!

    This is a question for a side gig I have. I’m the head writer/editor for a syndicate that produces a certain type of writing — let’s call it blogging about teapots, even though it’s neither blogging nor about teapots. I’ve been hurting for new writers, so the guy who runs the syndicate has been trying to scare up some candidates for me. For most of the submissions (which I do not see; usually the guy who runs the syndicate does, and he just sends me the ones he approves of), the quality isn’t great — this is a very specific type of writing that a lot of people want to do, and not many people are actually good at.

    However, one person (Wakeen) who does write for me already, and does a pretty good job, has a brother (Bob) who was interested in writing for us. So although most applicants submit test posts directly to the syndicate owner via a blind ad, Wakeen emailed both the syndicate owner and me to ask us to consider Bob.

    Bob’s test post was not good (syndicate owner and I agreed on this). Syndicate owner told him “this is not what we’re looking for” (only after prodding from me, because Bob asked what was going on), and gave him some of the reasons. Syndicate owner also said Bob could “take another stab” if he wanted.

    Now Bob wants more feedback. I really don’t feel like giving him more direction — what the syndicate owner told him is already more feedback than I would give if he were actually working for us. (Remember how I said we pay hobby wages? *I* also make hobby wages, so I don’t want to work with any writer for whom the job of editing would be more difficult than the job of writing things myself, so right now I work only with writers who require not-too-substantive edits.) Is there a nice way to say this? Do I *have* to be nice about it? Of course I wouldn’t want to be outright rude, but I wonder whether more than just a simple statement of “We cannot provide additional feedback at this time” is necessary, given that I still want to keep working with Wakeen, Bob’s brother.


    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      “I’m sorry, Bob, that’s not something I have time to do.”
      “I don’t have anything to add beyond what Syndicate Owner told you.”

      (And now I’m wildly curious about this non-teapot non-blogging you’re doing!)

    2. CM*

      How about this: Hi Bob, I don’t have additional feedback, but I encourage you to address the issues that Syndicate owner raised if you decide to resubmit. Thanks.

    3. Spondee*

      I’d say “We cannot provide additional feedback at this time, but we generally recommend that people read through our archives to get a better feel for the type and style of posts we’re looking for.” I’d also suggest that Wakeen may be able to help him strengthen his writing in this area. (Maybe even CC Wakeen)

      Yes, it’s a brush-off, but it’s not rude. You’ve already given him more feedback than people usually receive. Your other option is to give him a short brush-off and then write a nicer note to Wakeen, since that’s the relationship you want to maintain. “Hey, I’m sorry things aren’t working out with your brother. He just needs more feedback/editing than we can provide at this time. It’s a shame since I really enjoy working with you…”

    4. Duncan*

      I don’t see anything wrong with telling Bob that the feedback he’s received is already more than other writers have been given and you welcome the opportunity to see how he responds in his next sample if he chooses to submit one, but are unable to provide any more assistance. I would think he’d be asking his brother for feedback, too, so this guy has a lot more assistance than others already.

    1. Ghost Umbrella*

      Depends on the industry. I’m in defense contracting, and essentially haven’t stopped looking for work since 2012, even though I’ve been employed almost continuously (in four, soon to be five, jobs) during that time. So, to answer your question, probably last month, if your field is as unstable as mine.

      1. Felix*

        Thank you! That’s been my feeling but my supervisor has warned me not to start looking until May! I think he is worried that I’ll leave early if something appealing comes along and leave them hanging…

  40. AP*

    I am really not good at conducting interviews. My boss has asked me to meet with candidates for an informal coffee chat. The candidates would be hired to do the same job as me, same level, so we would be co-workers. I feel like I’m not asking the right questions or getting any valuable insight, but I’m also not sure what to ask. I want it to be friendly and coffee talk-ish; any examples of the types of questions I should ask?

    1. Finman*

      I would focus on trying to understand how well they would fit into the culture/give insights into the softer parts of working for your company.

    2. CM*

      I’d ask about their background and what they’re looking for in a job, and maybe talk to them about good and bad parts of your job and see what their reactions are.

      1. AP*

        Thanks! Maybe I should just start thinking of it as real-life AMA about my job. So we get to know each other a little and she gets a better understanding of the role and what exactly it is we do here.

    3. Granite*

      I would also clarify with your boss what the goal of the interview is, especially when it’s described as a coffee chat.

      It sounds like some peer interviews I’ve done, where the point was to help the candidate evaluate fit, rather than evaluating the candidate. Basically, I was expected to do most of the talking, answering their questions and offering information about the day to day work. I wasn’t really expected to evaluate the candidate, beyond reporting if they were rude or other red flags like that.

      1. AP*

        That’s actually really helpful. My approach with the candidate I met today was just to be open and friendly and answer her questions candidly. I also asked about her experience and what interested her in the role, and enjoyed meeting her. Maybe that’s really all these is to these kind of meetings.

  41. Natalie*

    Oh, dumbass screening mechanisms, how did I (not) miss you.

    I had an interview this week that went quite well, I’m apparently the front runner. The only dull spot was a “personality” test that was seemingly obsessed with whether or not I’ve ever sold drugs to my co-workers. No joke, the first 30 questions alternated between asking me how many times I’ve sold drugs to co-workers and how many times I’ve stolen from an employer. I almost sprained my eyes rolling them.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      That sounds like the test I took years ago before getting a job as a cashier. Just tons of repetitive questions. They “interviewer” also talked to me about the unacceptable answers and changed some my answers and said I didn’t understand the questions. I should have known then that I’d end up quitting that job because of stupid management practices. But a paycheck was a paycheck at that point.

      1. Natalie*

        I’m really hoping it’s a sign of just the HR department being slightly dumb – the manager in the department I’d be working in came across as distinctly not crazy. But I guess we’ll see. I’m willing to take a chance because I need to GTFOH.

    2. CM*

      That is so weird! Was it company-specific or a standard test for a third party? If the latter, bizarre… if the former, I guess they’ve had some bad experiences!

      1. Natalie*

        I’m pretty sure it was a third party. The thing is, it’s a quite professional white collar office job, so I’m having an incredibly hard time imagining what this test is doing for them.

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

      I think I’ve taken the same test. I also thought it was ridiculous. I spent over 4 hours applying for and taking tests for that company and they never even sent me a FOAD email.

  42. Anon for this*

    Recently, a close friend of mine, Steve, joined my team at work. While he is not new to the company, he is new to my division. I am very worried that work will get in the way of our friendship, or that our friendship will get in the way of work.

    We have very different processing styles and I am slightly annoyed by some things already. For instance, he regularly has circular conversations/monologues and incredibly long winded questions that could be much more succinct.

    I (for better or worse) have the confidence of our boss who recently asked my evaluation of Steve (so awkward!). Boss also indicated privately some concerns he has about Steve (but didn’t want me to relay them).

    To further complicate things, I know a lot about Steve’s personal life: recent long horrible break-up, low self esteem, wants to succeed at this new role to move up in the company. Steve doesn’t take criticism well (I only know this because of our private friend discussions. Our colleagues would not realize this because Steve is very likeable and social, but any criticism can make him doubt his work and self-worth and throw him into an anxious spiral).

    Steve does quality work and is very efficient (except in conversations), but is struggling more with the higher level decision making that this new position requires. (Although he seems oblivious to the fact that he is struggling). I think it’s a matter of him needing to speak less and listen more and wait to initiate some of his ideas after getting a better sense of the project and team.

    Despite my attempts to hint at this and give background on the complexities and politics behind the project, Steve doesn’t seem to be picking up what I’m trying to let him know. I feel like I can’t outright say any of this because I know it would send him spiralling (and was told not to), but I also want to have his back as a friend.

    I’m stressed out about this and feeling caught between a rock/hard place. My loyalties are all over the map and I don’t know what to do!

    Any suggestions for navigating this kind of situation?!

    1. Dawn*

      Ask him, as a friend (so outside of work), if he needs help or wants feedback. Tell him you want him to succeed! Tell him you’re happy to coach him if he wants it. AND THEN ONLY IF HE TELLS YOU HE WANTS IT, give him feedback, but do not say “You are doing X and you should be doing Y”, frame it as “When I first got here I learned the hard way that Wakeen really likes bullet point emails talking about stuff and hates long conversations. Fergus loves it when you paperclip reports instead of stapling them, and he’s also the most knowledgeable about The Winterfell Project so if you be sure to submit reports the way he likes he’ll totally hook you up. Also Sansa likes to talk about her nephews a bunch which can be annoying but I’ve found if you stick around for 5 minutes of nephew-chat every day she’s way more willing to jump in when you need help on the Chocolate Teapots account.”

      If he freaks out when he gets any feedback that’s his problem and not yours. However since you know that’s a thing, you can definitely be sure to give him advice disguised as “here’s what I wish someone would have told me from the beginning!”

      1. Anon for this*

        I should have included this above, but we pretty much had this exact conversation when Steve started to help him have an idea of the personalities involved and how to best succeed. Now it seems like he’s either blatantly ignoring the advice, has forgotten it, or is trying to forge his own way to stand out.

        It’s also a bit harder to address the abstract issues that are coming up now – how would you word advice around not thinking out loud in meetings, listening more, and being less optimistic about projects that are HIGHLY contentious? Everyone else is burnt out and I think his Pollyanna attitude is starting to rub people the wrong way.

        1. fposte*

          I wouldn’t. Not as a co-worker and a friend. I’d leave that to the manager. He’s not your responsibility, just your interest. I would also recuse myself from further conversations with my manager about him. “I don’t think I have any additional insight, and this just feels weird to me, so I’d prefer not to be in the middle.”

          You can’t fix this, and it isn’t your job to.

          1. Anon for this*

            Oh that is excellent wording! Thank you, I will likely use this next time it comes up!

            Thanks also for the reminder that it’s not my job to fix this. I feel really responsible because management is super hands off and I’ve seen people really flounder. I lucked into having the right personality for this team, but yeah, management has always been lacking.

    2. Sadsack*

      Shouldn’t your manager be having this conversation with Steve? Isn’t he giving Steve feedback on his performance? I think this is your manager’s responsibility, not yours — and it should be direct feedback, not hints.

      1. Anon for this*

        Yeah, that SHOULD be happening. It’s very hands off “sink or swim” over here. One of the things I like the least about my workplace. Sadly, this type of management is not working well for Steve.

    3. StephAnonie*

      Oh goodness. I have been that person. Diagnosis of Panic Disorder over a decade ago. Both appropriate-time-t0-talk and decision-making used to be real struggles for me. Anxiety is a nasty thing that, before I found a way to manage it, was like having mirrors in front of my eyeballs: every little thing I did was magnified into giant what-ifs, and it blocked me from seeing other things. That said: mental illness can be a reason for having trouble with something, but it doesn’t need to become an excuse not to find a functional workaround. My own approach to wanting to dominate conversations through rambling is to remind myself that other people have had different experiences and may be intending to share valuable information…but I need to shut up so they can say their piece too. I am not the most important cog in the machine, dammit, and I can learn more from listening… and knowledge is power. Which makes me sound a bit deranged, I suppose, but I use it for good–the more I listen, the more I know, the more I can share later when I am the one with the valuable info!

      I would expect this to come from a manager rather than a teammate, but from what you’ve said, the indirect approach is not working, and when you’re ready to try something new, being direct in a kind way, and framing it with the positive behaviors/accomplishments, would IMHO go a long way. You can’t control how he reacts, just like with any other human being. But you can be clear about the tools that you’re offering.

      1. Anon for this*

        Oh wow, what you’ve described sounds very similar to what seems like is happening. Thank you for this perspective! He’s talked about seeking help for this type of thing which is why I’m hesitant to say anything critical…

  43. Hopeless Librarian*

    I am really, really stuck in my job search. I work in libraries where it is incredibly difficult to find a job, but all my experience (15 years+) is in this field. I have been job searching for 7 years now and not a day goes by without thinking about how much I want to leave my toxic workplace but I can only get 2-3 interviews a year. I’ve had a couple of years of therapy to try to improve my confidence and interview coaching 3 times and read Alison’s book but interviews now just seem like an ordeal I put myself through because everyone tells me I won’t get a job if I don’t go for interviews, but I have no real belief that I can get another job. When I was growing up my mother told me I had no confidence and I would never be able to talk myself into a job and I would end up selling my body so I struggle not to believe her now that I’ve failed so many times. It seems like jobs no longer let you know if you don’t succeed so I have no way of asking anyone how I did and their answers were always vague. It’s really hard to believe I used to be a professional and feel proud of building a career despite the problems I’ve had in life because this one problem (job interviews) has totally overwhelmed me.

    1. Librarian-to-Be*

      Have you watched Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on body language and confidence? It totally changed my life.

        1. Librarian-to-Be*

          Yes! I find they’re more helpful in the moment as opposed to over time. In college, I found I got a HUGE confidence boost. Once I left, I regressed severely and am still working to build it back up almost two years later. Anyway, my point is that I think what helped make me more confident in college was having a really good support system there and being around people who helped build me up (and I did the same for them in return). It was a natural, organic thing, but you can manufacture this to some extent by either having conversations with close friends about this and asking them to help you out or joining groups (Meet Up is a great resource for this) that help with this sort of thing. Or, you know, some other Meet Up group that has nothing to do with confidence building/social anxiety, because then you’ll be around people who share an interest and can do the organic thing from there.

    2. CheeryO*

      I’m not going to be much help, but do you have any flexibility, location-wise? One of my close friends was just interviewing for librarian jobs and was expecting it to be insanely competitive, but she actually got hired in a small city pretty much right after finishing up her MLIS. (I also don’t know what she makes… maybe it’s easier when you’re entry-level/lower salary.)

      Also, that is absolutely horrible that your mother told you that. I hope the therapy helps, because no one should have to carry that kind of burden with them, especially from someone who should be one of your biggest supporters. :(

      1. Hopeless Librarian*

        Thanks for your support! I feel like I tried really hard to get where I was despite parental abuse and I really hate my workplace for taking that away from me. I am not mobile unfortunately but maybe I can frame giving up my job search as ‘choosing to stay in my area’ rather than ‘having to give up my career’.

      2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        Recent graduate, who is also job hunting.

        Moving is key. If you can’t/aren’t able to move, I’ve heard of endless job searches, particularly in areas with library schools. Those who are willing/able to move (particularly to less desirable areas), I am seeing people getting hired in less than 6 months. Those who aren’t willing/able to move, they’re lucky to get one or two part-time jobs that they work at until something opens up.

        Are you still in therapy? If not, it sounds like you need what I like to call an annual “check-up”. It’s kind of like needing to get your car worked on every year. You have to change the oil, fill the fluids, etc. Therapy is like that for many people. Sometimes, you just need to change the oil!

    3. 39281*

      Not much job search advice, but wanted to echo what other people have said – it’s a terrible burden to carry around shit your mom said about you. It’s also really hard to release that burden. It sounds like you’ve been working on that with therapy, but I really hope that you can see that you are better than whatever crap she told you.

      As a fellow librarian, I feel ya with the job search. Best of luck! You sound really self-aware and clearly have a lot of experience in the field.

    4. Just a thought*

      You’ve probably already tried this but have you applied to different kinds of businesses? My law firm employs reference librarians for help with legal research. They also maintain the physical libraries.

  44. Sharedoffice*

    Tips on sharing an office space? I’m at my wits end.

    Can’t wear headphones too often as I’m the project lead and have to often field questions so others can move forward on time sensitive work. I’m making more errors than usual because of constant interruptions that I can’t avoid.

    Also the red tide is imminent and while I believe women are more than capable of handling work during this time, my PMS is killer right now (I’m incredibly physically uncomfortable) and my patience is at breaking point.

    I’m loosing it! The loud typing, chewing, phone calls, private laughing, cell phone text vibrations, ranch dressing smell, breathing noises, swallowing noises, chatter, clatter, rustling, sighing. OMG SAVE ME!!!

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Any chance of leaving early and finishing up your work at home? Otherwise give into the cravings or what ever else you need to do avoid having to ask for bail money later.

      1. Sharedoffice*

        Lol this made me laugh. Sadly no, I can’t duck out early, but I do think I should give into some cravings. Thanks for the laugh!

    2. Meliora*

      I don’t know if this is the kind of advice you are interested in, but I was having a lot of trouble with distractions that were more internal, (couldn’t stop thinking about x,y,z) and I found that mindfulness meditation practice really helped actually pretty fast with being able to just tune out what I didn’t want to be distracted by. I know it’s not quite the easy or quick fix, but it made me a lot more confident and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could eventually get to where that level of distraction didn’t phase you.

      1. Sharedoffice*

        This is a great suggestion. I’ve actually been practicing a lot of yoga lately and it has helped me slow down the internal thoughts. I should try to channel this process today. Thank’s for this thoughtful response.

        1. LawCat*

          Check out “One Moment Meditation”. Probably the only useful thing I have ever gotten from a workplace wellness program was learning about one moment meditation. It’s basically a very brief (one minute!) mindfulness meditation with breath awareness (like with yoga). I was shocked at how effective it has been for me.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      Take a sick day! Or a half-sick-day. Even if the symptoms aren’t too much to bear it sounds like you can use it for mental health reasons and that’s perfectly legit.

      As for the bigger issue… if moving is not an option, I’d recommend trying white noise to drown out the little noises. For me, the little noises are way harder to ignore than the big ones because they are so pervasive. White noise helps!

    4. Liz W.*

      Right there with you!

      1. Flit about completing persnickety/stupid/tedious tasks that don’t require concentration (you are available but not anchored to your desk).
      2. Leave for lunch
      3. Hide for 30-40 minutes (I’ll be in this nice quiet conference room sorting this stack of paper…see #1)

      1. Ama*

        Leaving for lunch is a great one! Or even just go out and walk around the block a couple times if you’d rather eat at your desk. I went from a job with an onsite cafeteria (so I never ever escaped my coworkers) to one where I can walk home for lunch and it really brought home how important it is to my stress level and ability to focus that I have a designated period where I can get a mental break. (I’ve noticed that on days where I am overscheduled and can’t get home for lunch I also just mentally give out at almost exactly the eight hour mark– if I take my lunch break I can easily work late if necessary.)

    5. KR*

      I’m in the same boat. This week everything the other person in my office does is making me want to quit.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          If you’re read No Exit by Sartre, you’ll realize that hell is a shared office for eternity.

    6. Megs*

      Hah, that sounds exactly like my workplace. At least my current project doesn’t include the guy with the Game of Thrones ringtone that went off multiple times a day. As Anna said below, I find getting out of the room regularly a great way to gather my focus. I also smoke, which I definitely don’t recommend, but it does help the focus! I also try and grab lunch someplace a reasonable distance from my office then eat at my desk, so my lunch break is a mini-exercise break as well.

  45. Stopping By-post academic interview*

    I just want to say thank you to all who commented on my academic interviews question on the holiday open thread. Your comments were very helpful. The interview went very, very well and couldn’t have gone better, really. So, thanks again.

  46. Cleo*

    My partner works for himself and REALLY doesn’t like talking about his work. It’s not confidential, but he’s a very private person and I find it somewhat unsettling. Mainly because I don’t have a framework for him in the public sphere. I wish he was more open about work so I could understand this aspect of his life more fully. I also get that it would be super annoying to be asked about it all be time, so I don’t do that.

    Anyone else private like this or have a partner like this? Advice for getting past it?

    1. Megs*

      I do not have a partner like that, but I can understand why it would drive you bonkers! Have you tried getting to the root of why he doesn’t like talking about work? You say he’s private, but you’re his partner for pete’s sake! Being intimate doesn’t have to mean sharing every single thing ever (side eye at people who don’t close the bathroom door) but it should mean sharing things that are a significant part of your life.

      1. Cleo*

        I’ve tried, but he claims he just doesn’t like/need to talk a lot about work. He’s also a bit of a creative so he finds that talking about ideas can stifle creativity. I actually totally understand that part, but I more just wish he would tell me general things about projects, clients, meetings etc.

    2. AnonForThis*

      I grew up in a DoD family, and now work in the defense industry myself, as does my boyfriend. Not sharing about work is really normal for us, but it still sometimes takes getting used to. Beyond what I can’t share, I also find that I don’t often want to share because:
      1) When I’m done with work, I want to be done, not dissect what did or did not go well with someone else.
      2) Work is interesting, but mostly not highlight-worthy. If something big goes awesome, I’ll probably share a sanitized version, but the amount of background to explain a small success isn’t worth it. That was true even when the small success was that I finely got the cash register to void a transaction without help.
      3) I’d rather listen than talk when I get home. Someone else’s day is much more interesting – I already know what happened in mine!

        1. Granite*

          It also might help if you could tell him more specifically what and why you would like to know.

          Is it the people? IE, you always run into his co-worker Jane at the supermarket and would like to know a fact or two about her with which to make small talk (I heard you went to Hawaii last month?)

          Or are you trying to gauge when he’ll be more or less stressed? Maybe you don’t need details, but would like him to let you know that there’s a big deadline for Project B coming so he’ll be working late in two weeks and you should plan a girls night. Or offer to make extra on the go meals for him to eat at work when he’s putting in long hours.

          Or is it just feeling left out of that part of his life? whatever it is, you probably need to be more specific for him to ‘get it.’

  47. Nicole J.*

    There were a couple of questions last week involving small businesses, and most of the opinions about the issues of small business seemed to be negative. I was just wondering if anyone had had good experiences working within a small or family business?

    1. BSharp*

      Yes, several experiences, many of which were very positive. The ones that come to mind are two small medical offices, a store that sold eco equipment and boat parts, and a consulting firm.

      The medical offices were good as long as I got along with my manager. In a small office, it’s not so much politics as personality. But there’s a lot of opportunities to cross-train, and I met great people. Downside: One place had so many employees I couldn’t get enough hours, but so few employees I couldn’t get a day off if I asked a month in advance.

      The eco store was both good and bad. I was underpaid and my paychecks bounced, but the work was interesting, and the experience helped me get my next role.

      The consulting firm is lovely. The boss/founder is a stellar human being, and our services are valuable to our clients and to the people our clients serve. I have learned so much. It’s flexible.

    2. Dawn*

      I LOVE where I work now- it’s a small office of about 40 people, started and run by a husband and wife team. Everyone here is like family, in a GOOD way- we’re all treated with mutual respect and understanding, and they’re really flexible about time off for vacations, doctor appointments, whatever. It took some time to settle in because, again, it’s like a family and everyone had to figure out where this new person fit in with that dynamic, but now I feel very welcomed and liked by everyone in the company.

    3. afiendishthingy*

      I had an ok experience working at a tiny (like 4 full-time employees) non-profit in college. It was part-time, I learned a lot of handy office skills, it was casual and pretty flexible. There was some drama of two of the full time people hating each other. It wasn’t a great experience or anything but it was pretty neutral. My experience in a tiny family run business was absolutely awful, but it’s a small sample size. My best experiences have been at medium sized orgs, and the biggest company I worked for was also pretty bad. It just depends.

    4. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      There are pros and cons to everything. I’ve only worked for small businesses, most of them dysfunctional and toxic to varying degrees (but that’s not specific to small businesses). One thing I’ve enjoyed is that I’m not tied to a very rigid role – I “specialize” in one thing, but I am able to get experience in a large variety of areas and I think this helps me understand the whole business better. I have an easy time grasping how each aspect of the business affects the other because it’s more easy for me to see the direct impact of my or others’ actions. It’s fast-paced and there’s less bureaucracy. There’s not much structure which is a pro or con depending on what you like. The biggest thing I like though, is that often there has been a lot of room for improvement so my results are fairly quick and visible.

    5. Elle*

      Me!! I am at one now, and will have 14 years next week. There are 25 of us here, and I love the small company atmosphere. In my previous, medium sized company, my job function was 100% HR. Here, I’ve been able to participate in running the business, as a complement to my HR responsibilities. I’ve learned about purchasing, accounting, marketing, sales, and general admin. I feel like the ability to be a part of so many things has been invaluable. Plus, there are so few layers so it’s easy to get things done. We’ve got a great culture too, though — very supportive & positive.

    6. Ihmmy*

      Last Job was at a tiny office, and at one point we had 4 people and three of us were family of varying degrees (me, my cousins husband, and his mother, plus our CEO). We all worked really well together, it was actually the CEO who was the problem point in that workplace

    7. KW10*

      Ooh, yes! I’ve only ever worked for small companies. After high school I had a summer job at a tiny law firm – 4 lawyers and 2 admin staff. I loved it! Everyone was super friendly, their clients liked them, no workplace drama, and I really learned a lot. I liked it so much that I went back the next summer too.

      Then my first full-time job after graduating from college was also a tiny business: owner plus 2-3 admin/support staff. It wasn’t completely negative since I liked a lot of the actual work, but the owner was hard to work with, fought with clients frequently and then seemed surprised when they didn’t like her, didn’t know how to manage, and yelled at employees whenever she was in a bad mood. She had constant turnover due to how awful it was, and justified it by telling herself that it was because she hired young people right out of college who don’t know what they want in a job!! Plus after I finally left, I found out she had underpaid several of my timesheets. (At that point I was so glad to be out of there I didn’t even fight over it.)

      My current company has about 20 people in the US – so it’s still small, though it feels big to me compared to my previous jobs. It’s been a really positive experience so far – I enjoy my job, have gotten great opportunities for career advancement, and really like my coworkers. A number of people have been here a long time (think 30-40 years), which shows they’re happy!

      So basically – small business environments can be positive or negative, just like any other size company! One pro I’ve found across the board is that you basically always avoid the bureaucracy that big companies have.

    8. Elsajeni*

      Sure! My first job was at a very small retail business — my bosses, a married couple, owned two franchises of a cards/gifts/knickknacks store on different sides of town, and I think altogether they had about 8 employees. (I’m considering this as a “small business” because the larger company we were franchised from had essentially nothing to do with the day-to-day running of the store; we got shipments from them and sent them inventory reports, but I never heard of a company policy that originated from them or met anyone who worked for the larger company.) I didn’t love the type of work, and I don’t think they were super business-savvy, but I didn’t feel like the environment was dysfunctional or anything, and honestly, I suspect they put up with more of my 19-year-old first-job crap than a bigger, more professionally-run business would have.

    9. Boutique-y*

      I work for a small company (four full-timers, and a few part-timers who do book keeping and billing) and really enjoy it. I previously worked for two other small organizations where the atmosphere was either not good or neutral. Now, I’m at place where there is no drama, we all work hard, our work is highly valued by our clients, my work is valued by my supervisors, and benefits are good. My work is valued, and they invest significant time in my training. Plus, I can take advantage of our benefits (I take vacation; receive a great 401k match). Sometimes I feel like I have a unicorn job, but who knows. All I know is that it is a great fit for me. It’s a positive office with people who are nice, smart and reasonable.

    10. Nicole J.*

      Not sure how to reply to everyone who replied, so doing it here – thanks for sharing those experiences!

      I work in a tiny tiny company – husband and wife, then me – and I do enjoy it but there are pros and cons, and a lot of things that are pro or con depending on who you are/how you like to work.

  48. Nefarious Hibachi*

    Hey All,
    So I have a friend who I work with who is originally from Scotland. He came over here for school and his visa is up in July. He’s been looking for a job that would grant him an H1B visa, but hasn’t had any luck. Does anyone have any advice about selling the idea to a company. He majored in Math at school but doesn’t have a ton of experience yet. I’ve redone his resume so it focuses on accomplishments and sells a lot of his best features but he doesn’t have any really specialized skills.

    1. Pokebunny*

      H1B looker here. Not much he can do to “sell the idea” unfortunately. Companies either will or will not sponsor. What I do is when I find a company with a posting I like, I look at and see if they had sponsored in the past (public record) — that seems to be the most reliable indicator.

      As an aside too, if he’s looking for jobs at regular companies, the window for getting an offer is rapidly closing, because the lottery date is April 1st, which means he needs to have an offer long before (around this time, early March at the very latest) so that they can compile the paperwork and be ready to file on April 1st.

      Does he have OPT? That will make things a lot easier. If this is his first degree of that level, then he gets a one-year (possibly 29 months if he’s a Math major) work authorization (check with the international student advisor at his school). So he can start working for a company without an H1B sponsor, and he can then spend that year (or 29 months) “selling” himself so that they may consider sponsoring later.

    2. Trill*

      Former H1B holder here.

      Agree with the OPT route if possible.

      Otherwise I might try to focus on larger organizations who have sponsored visas before. They usually know the process well and it wouldn’t hinder the hiring process as much if they really want to hire him.

      And like Pokebunny pointed out, the deadline for the lottery isn’t too far away, so it might be better to focus on employers who aren’t subject to the cap. Universities, non-profits associated with higher education or research. I worked at an academic hospital on H1B and it was great because they weren’t subject to the cap and they had a well established process for sponsoring visas so the process went really smoothly.

  49. HowMuch*

    If I have a resume that looks something like the following:

    FT Job – Sept 2014 – present
    PT Job – Sept 2014 – present
    PT Job – Feb 2015 – present

    …and I get a question, in multiple choice format with no room to explain, that asks “How many years experience do you have doing x?” (no specification of FT experience; just experience period); is it appropriate to select an option that is more than 1 year, 6 months to account for the fact that there’s more than one position going on? I’m hesitant to say 1 year, 6 months plus 1 year, 6 months, plus 1 year — that’s excessive. But maybe something more in the middle? I’ve worked really hard to manage getting so much experience in the last 1 year, 6 months, and hate to see it boiled down to “just that” because that’s what’s on paper.

    I’m also concerned about HR folks looking at it and rejecting me for putting more than 1 year, 6 months, because speaking in actual time past, no, I don’t have more than that 1 year, 6 months. But I have more experience than someone working the same amount of time but with one job instead of three.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think a case can be made that 1 year of experience is typically around 2000 work hours, so if you work 4000 hours a year at something, that’s two years of work experience. (Unless 80-hour work weeks are considered standard in your industry, I suppose.)

    2. EmilyG*

      Personally, I would find the idea of counting Sept. 2014 to the present “double” to count your extra hours to be a stretch. To me, it’s not just hours at the desk, but the amount of time you’ve had to think about the content of the job, and I’m kind of skeptical that your entire existence is happening at hyperspeed.

      But as has been discussed here before, it’s okay to be a little optimistic about how much experience you have when applying to jobs and let the employer decide whether to consider you. If you had four years, 8 months of experience, and the job posting says five, I would definitely say apply.

      So I am wondering exactly how this question is being put to you, because I don’t quite understand from your post. Do you have to pick from a list of options, like “less than 1.5 years,” “more than 1.5 years,” “more than 5 years,” etc.? Or is there just a screener question that’s implying “do you have at least 1.5 years’ experience doing this”? If you started in Sept. 2014, I think you have enough time at your FT job alone to say yes to that.

      1. HowMuch*

        There’s a list of options with ranges increasing by one year. So, 1 year, 1 year but less than 2 years, 2 years but less than 3 years, etc. At least, this is how I’ve most frequently seen it.

  50. Cristina in England*

    Many posts here generate comments from those of us outside the US who are horrified by aspects of US work culture. The most recent instance is the norms around taking vacation time, especially in your first six months in a job. I was wondering if anyone also looks at US work culture and finds something enviable in it compared to where they are?

    1. Pokebunny*

      Love the fact that only your accomplishments and what you have professionally achieved matter in the job search. No questions or expectations that you will provide marital status, religion, blood type, overall health, parents’ names, number of siblings, photos, etc.

        1. Granite*

          I’ve seen lots of references to Martital / parental status and photos being common in much of the world. I suspect (hope) some of the others listed are hyperbole, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    2. Aussie academic*

      Cannot identify a single thing that would make me choose working in the US over Australia! Between not having a contract, jobs paying less than a living wage, no paid time off (I get 4 weeks holiday leave, 12 days sick/carers leave, 12 public holidays, 7 days personal leave plus a range of entitlements for bereavement, jury duty, volunteering, etc each year – plus 6 months maternity leave after 1 year and 12 weeks long service leave after 7 years)… And my employer gives 17% to superannuation (on top of my pay, not from it) for retirement savings. Honestly it freaks me out to hear about working in the US, seems positively medieval!

    3. Cristina in England*

      Since I’m American but living in the UK, when people here ask me if I’ll ever move back, I usually say that I was really happy to live there when I was young, childless, and really into working. For that part of my life I think it’s hard to beat the opportunities I had in the US. Now though, I would rather be in the UK because of maternity leave pay, health care, better annual leave, and a better work-life balance overall.

  51. Lillian McGee*

    Question about what to wear to a panel type event where I am a panelist…

    Well, it’s really going to be a sit-down dinner where a professional membership org talks with various graduates of a related university program as part of its endorsement evaluation. I am one of the graduates. They want to know about my experience in the program and my current role in the field.

    The org represents a traditionally “business-formal” field (think banking, but not). I imagine the university wants me looking polished and professional but I work for a fairly casual nonprofit. I would never wear a suit to work. I would say I dress “smart casual” most days—dark blue or black jeans, clean tennis shoes or flats, and a nice tee or blouse or button-up with maybe a cardigan or blazer if I feel like it. Rarely skirts. Never heels.

    Would that be an appropriate way to present myself? I’m tempted to class it up a bit, but I think it might also be worthwhile for the org to see that not every job in the field comes business-formal or even business-casual. Thoughts?

    1. Overthinking Potential Jobhunter*

      Because it’s a sit-down dinner, I’d probably wear something more formal but add funky jewelry, then say in the speech that “I love my career in part because not every job in the field is the predictable business-formal banking gig. In fact, in my current role…”

    2. Development professional*

      I would wear the nicest/most dressed up version of something you’d actually wear to work. So, flats instead of sneakers, blouse and blazer instead of tee, etc.

  52. Overthinking Potential Jobhunter*

    For 3 years, I’ve been working in sales for a splendid little consulting firm. We sell expensive, specialized services. My first two years I made respectable sales. Last year I sent the same number of proposals but either we didn’t get the job or the client had to drop the project, and overall I just didn’t get as much traction. I may need a new job. Which is heartbreaking, because I feel like our services help big companies listen to and serve their consumers better.

    I can’t figure out how my skills translate to other roles, or what I should search for, or what I’d be eligible to apply for.

    My previous work was mostly variations on Office Flunky, with one job doing marketing for a small business. I don’t yet have my bachelor’s, and our household can’t take on more student debt. I’m good with people and relationships, I love writing and editing, and I can create organization out of chaos. I love consulting and creative roles, but sales is discouraging, so I probably don’t want to work for our competitors. While I’m intrigued by our clients’ roles, they all seem headed for a heart attack in the cubicle. It’s 50% office politics and 50% “Drop that priority and work urgently on this instead!” I like when my work has meaning.

    Any advice?

    1. Lillian McGee*

      Perhaps development/fundraising or grant writing for nonprofits? You get people/relationships with donor handling… writing and editing for sure… creativity maybe. Many nonprofits have communications/marketing rolled in with development so there’s that possibility. There can be personal meaning too if it’s a cause or mission you really care about!

  53. Emrin Alexander*

    I’m a medical transcriptionist (one of several hats I’ve worn over the years). The hospital I work for has just transitioned us to doing back-end editing on Inscribe VR. I love it. The problem I’m having is that our team lead’s level of ability with computers in general and VR in particular is tenuous at best.

    So everyone in the department comes to me when they have a “how to do” something question – including the team lead who supposedly is trained as our “super user” resource/troubleshooter.

    I know this is going to sound really petty, but I get no recognition for essentially training 7 other people on the new system. Instead, my manager and her boss go around telling everyone that our smooth transition is entirely due to team leader’s awesome computer and people skills. I should also mention that the others ask me for help rather than team leader because “Jane makes me feel stupid if I ask any questions.”

    I don’t need a parade, but I am training others and serving as the central resource point and not meeting my own work quotas as a result of the time that takes. When I talked to my manager, she said I should just sit there and edit because they were not paying me to do team leader duties. I know that, but team leader is one of my most frequent “customers!”

    I love my job, coworkers are good people, and it’s close to home, so I do not want to go elsewhere. Just, is there a diplomatic way to say “I’m the one doing the actual training,” without throwing team leader under the bus?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I would consider keeping track of the frequently asked questions and then ask your boss if you can do a formal training session on these items. It sounds like it is necessary, and it would be hard for your boss to ignore your contributions as a trainer.

  54. Sunshine Brite*

    So frustrated with our computer systems. Probably been down about 2 weeks so far this year and will be off again over the weekend and again Tuesday evening. I’ve also been kicked off due to server issues three times this morning. Ugh.

  55. MaryMary*

    The profanity-prone VP in my office has finally stopped apologizing to me (and my delicate female sensibilities) when he drops an F bomb. Career milestone f@#%ing achieved!

    1. Elle*

      Maybe he can give the guys in my office a lesson. I feel like I’m in the 18th century or something! Like my ears will explode if I hear *gasp* THE F WORD!! And I may collapse if I have to open a door on my own. Sheesh.

    2. Dawn*

      Because I am a sarcastic gal, I would have replied “yeah, watch your F@#%ing mouth!” every time he apologized, followed up with a big wink :)

  56. ThatGirl*

    So I just want to give a shoutout to my manager, because I read so much here about bad ones – and I really have a great one. She sets high standards for us, lays out expectations clearly, and then we are treated like adults – we manage our own time and workload, she’s easily available for questions and guidance, but she doesn’t breathe down our necks at all. She sticks up for our team in the larger department. And we have plenty of flexibility; just on Wednesday I went home two hours early because a winter storm was blowing through and finished things up from home and it was zero problem.

    1. newreader*

      It’s great to hear positives! Advice is usually sought for problems, so it’s easy to forget that there are great managers and workplaces, too.

  57. Christy*

    I’ve been having a much better time at work recently! Anti-anxiety meds and a new manager have combined to make it a much better work emotional atmosphere for me. I’m loving how many different things I’ve been doing, and some of the harder/overwhelming stuff was taken off my plate – happily! Much better. Loving life.

    1. Elle*

      That is GREAT news, good for you!! Feels like you’re coming out of the darkness a bit, doesn’t it? Enjoy!

  58. Callie*

    Just how important is a suit for an academic interview?

    I am normally a dress-up person (dresses or dress pants/blouse/cardigan) but I don’t own a suit. I am a size 20/22 and my hips are much larger than my waist, which means that any suit (or sheath dress) I try on has tons of excess fabric in the waist. Not such a problem for skirt/pants as that’s easy to alter, but my tailor tells me that altering a jacket to remove material in the waist while still being wide at the bottom to deal with my hips is either is impossible or more expensive than the jacket itself. I have tried looking for shorter jackets but frankly in the plus sizes there are basically no choices. And it’s always BLACK, which makes me look like I’m either playing in an orchestra or going to a funeral. I’d love a nice charcoal gray or navy but on the rare occasions I see that option it’s sold out. (And nothing is ever in an actual store. I have to order online, which is a huge guessing game.)

    So I don’t know what to do. I’m just an adjunct right now so I can’t afford stuff like Talbots. My price range is more JCP, Macy’s etc.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Try stores that cater to a younger clientele (I’m thinking Torrid in particular, and yes they’re online), as they’re more likely to have cropped jackets.

      1. Callie*

        I didn’t think about DB; I used to buy a lot of stuff from them when I lived in a town that had one, but there isn’t one in this town. There’s one an hour away from here, though, and that’s worth checking out. (I really hate buying online if I can help it. My proportions are so weird that it’s hard to get things right without trying them on.)

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      I’d also check out ModCloth, they have a ton of plus size options. Maybe instead of thinking sheath dress or suit for interviews, think skirt plus top/blazer. It depends on your field in academics I think, but in general we tend to dress a bit more casually in STEM and really only care if you look professional and match (matching can be optional…). And thinking about all the people I have met in academics (I’ve been in it 10 years now as a student) suits are rarely worn for interviews. But seriously, A-line skirts and a nice top and cardigan might be your ticket rather than a super formal suit.

      1. commiserator*

        Cosign ModCloth. Also, what about a ponte blazer with a decent amount of stretch with a coordinating but not matching pencil skirt or pants (maybe charcoal on top and black on the bottom with a colorful or patterned blouse).

      2. Callie*

        I’m in a performing-arts-education field. We don’t dress formally for day to day (I don’t wear jeans to teach in but some of my colleagues do) or really even at conferences unless you’re presenting at the national conference. I wore dress pants or a skirt and a blouse and cardigan when I did two presentations at our state conference this winter. However, we have recently had some men on campus to interview for a position in our department and they all wore suits.

        I’m on the west coast, and we’re a little more relaxed. However, I had a phone interview and a possible upcoming interview with a school in the southeast and I suspect it will be a more formal atmosphere than out west!

    3. commiserator*

      Also online, but check out Eloqui. Not too expensive, good sales, suit separates in grey and navy.

      I’ve heard great things about Eshakti–more custom options, I believe, but also a little pricier.

      Also, check out Filene’s, Ross, TJ MAxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack. These are all hit and miss, but sometimes are great. Also hit and miss are consignment/ resale stores, particularly for larger sizes.

      Finally, Macy’s runs really good sales from time to time.

      Good luck!

      1. Callie*

        I have bought a lot of dresses from eShakti and I love them for day to day, but I don’t think they are interview wear. (I wish. SO comfortable.)

        I looked at Eloqui and their stuff feels a little too “trendy” for me. They seem to have a lot of ankle pants, which just look odd on me.

        I’m hoping for a decent Macy’s sale soon. The Macy’s here has a terrible plus section (mostly nonexistent) but they carry a nice calvin klein suit in grey I’d like…. I’m just hoping it fits.

    4. commiserator*

      One more thought–I know it seems counter-intuitive, but a peplum can actually be a really nice shape on someone with a fairly large waist to hip ratio. I’m thinking something like this:

    5. KR*

      If a black blazer is too much like funeral wear for you, could you possibly pair it with a bright colored dress or skirt?

    6. Squeegee Beckenheim*

      A tip from a friend of mine is to look for structured sweaters that are like a hybrid of a cardigan and a blazer. I’m still not 100% where you find these, but I like the look.

    7. themmases*

      You may also want to look at eShakti. They sell mostly dresses in a wide range of sizes, and will customize to your measurements for a small fee (I think like $9). I don’t know whether they sell suits, but they often sell jackets and have recently branched out into pants. I have bought several dresses– including my wedding dress for $140– in custom sizes and they were done well especially for the price.

      The one drawback of eShakti IMO is that many of the fabrics are synthetic. However, they will also customize the styling of most pieces– such as necklines and sleeves– so if you find something you mostly like you can probably pay the $9 fee to turn it into something you really like.

    8. Student*

      I got my interview suit in a department store for about $200. It’s bright blue. They had some other color options as well, like more traditional black, grey, navy, and more out-there red. I had to go through a few department stores to find something that fit correctly. I think I got mine in either Macy’s or Sears.

      If your jacket doesn’t fit perfectly, and you’re doing an academic interview, it’s very likely no one else will notice or care. They do generally care that you make an effort to dress up, but they aren’t generally fashion critics. mainly, make sure it’s comfortable to be in for hours and not obviously way too small or too big.

    9. dk*

      What if you had a suit made from scratch to fit your measurements? I’m not sure how much that would cost compared to buying ready-made clothing, but you might ask your tailor how much she would charge and how much the materials would cost to get a suit made to order. I know when it comes to special occasion dresses (e.g. wedding/bridesmaid dresses), it’s often cheaper to have them made than to buy them. The last time I had a dress made was when I was maid of honor at my sister’s wedding 16 years ago; I don’t remember how much it cost, but I have the idea that it was fairly reasonable. And it’s easier to make pattern alterations to fit a hard-to-fit figure than to alter an existing garment! Another plus is that you can pick any combination of fabric and style that suits your taste and budget.

      1. BRR*

        I’m not sure for women but there many sites that do made to measure suits for men. I’m not sure if some exist for women. They’re semi reasonably priced but fit much better than off the rack.

    10. ModernHypatia*

      About your size, and I can never find jackets that fit my body (in my case, very broad shoulders, plus chest.) I gave up on suits two job hunts ago (librarian, but I was interviewing academic libraries as well as others), and instead do a nice dress, with a high quality cardigan over it or a shawl depending if I need the extra layer.

      The trick is that you have to absolutely nail the formality and cut of the dress and accessories – both of mine are Jones New York. One is a black and white with several design elements, the other is a dark gray structured heavy knit thing. If I want a brighter color in the mix, that’s the shawl or cardigan’s job.

      I found them both by going into Macy’s and throwing myself on the mercies of the nice woman in their plus size department (this was in 2011, but they’re still decent for that, I’ve heard.) Black flats, black bag, and a piece of eyecatching but sedate enough jewelry. (Good friend who’s a jeweler helps with this one.)

      For just slightly more casual, I’ve actually had really good luck with Lands’ End fit and flare dresses in a suitable pattern, maybe with a cardigan over it. Not right for an interview where a suit would be expected, but useful if you’re doing dinner the night before or something like that.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Not plus size, but I’ve worn fit and flare dresses from ModCloth (made by Closet London) with a nice cardigan to interviews in industries that often do require suits and have never had any problems. (In fact, I get lots of compliments on how classy I look – people call them my Jackie Kennedy dresses.)

    11. Dear Liza dear liza*

      The need for a suit depends on the discipline. Humanities folks can totally do a nice twinset with black pants. Performing arts- I’ve never seen a female candidate in a suit (below Dean level.) If you are in business, then you need a suit.

    12. Aussie academic*

      I faced this recently, interviewing for a new postdoc position and I’m a similar size (16-18 on top, 18-/20 on bottom) and proportions. I knew the interviewers would wear suits and although I could perhaps get away without a jacket, it just would look like I didn’t know the conventions, so I hit the shops. What has worked for me is buying dresses with A-line skirts in the size to fit the bottom and then taking them in at the top, and getting a cropped jacket (in black, blah, but it’s all I can find) that fits on the shoulders. I wear the dress with the jacket over into the interview, shake hands and then take the jacket off. I’ve worn a jacket to show I understand the level of formality required, and then I’m just wearing a dress that fits well and I feel good in, so I’m not thinking about the jacket for the rest of the interview.

    13. mander*

      I feel your pain — I’m about the same size, and clothes shopping is always a nightmare.

      A ponte knit or something similar is probably your best bet. An unlined jacket will be much easier to alter to take a bit of the excess out of the middle, and will probably need a lot less alteration anyway. I never have any luck with higher end shops but I’ve found nice things at the kinds of stores you mention (even Wal-Mart, horror of horrors! Actually some of my best clothing scores came from there).

      Also, if you have a Ross near you I’d check that out. They often have brands that I’ve never heard of and it can be a real goldmine for dresses and other more “formal” clothing. It’s the single biggest thing I miss since moving to the UK.

    14. TootsNYC*

      You need a tailor. Someone who does alterations.

      And then ask them to help you figure out which part of the fit is the most important to get right. (Hint: waistlines can be taken in like crazy; armhole height is pretty much set.)

  59. De Minimis*

    I conducted my first job interview [as an interviewer] yesterday…thought it went okay. I have another one later today.

    They are student positions, so it’s not as huge of a deal as a regular hire would be, but we still want someone that will hopefully be around for a good portion of their college career. I used a list of questions that have been used in the past, but they are the type of questions that should be asked in an interview, so I thought it was okay to use them.
    I tried to add to it and do follow up when needed.

    The ones I picked I thought were the best out of the resumes submitted, so I went into it thinking if they don’t totally flub the interview or do anything strange I will offer them the job [we can use both of them.]

    1. Liza*

      De Minimis, I recently did my first job interviews (as the interviewer) too. It was exciting but scary–is that how it was for you too?

  60. Glod Glodsson*

    I hope this doesn’t come off as a self entitled whine but I need to rant somewhere.

    In January this year I decided I really needed to get out of the industry I’m currently in if I want to grow professionally. I figured an ideal job would have three things: a) better pay, b) in an industry that would allow me to learn entirely new skills and c) a huge international company where I’d also be able to move in other ways than just up. I counted on it taking about a year.

    And then two weeks later I was called for an interview. It was in an industry which is hard to break into. And while I had some doubts about the job (mainly the team I’d be managing, which is not performing super well), in the end I decided to take it because it paid better and they offered to pay for my education in this industry. Because it was so early in my job search I wasn’t sure as to whether this would really be the best thing to come along but I had no way of knowing and I didn’t want to regret not taking it later. I did get a call for an interview with a second company but I didn’t like that position as much. So fine.

    Fast forward to now. I’ve started on my first course in this industry and I’m struggling. I know I’m asking a lot of myself because I’ve only started studying a week ago but between my boss flipping out over me leaving and this, I’m having a hard time being enthusiastic. But today I got a call from a HR rep from a huge international company I applied to that they want me in for an interview. That job was my absolute favourite but since I hadn’t heard from them past their set date of two weeks, I thought I didn’t have a chance. I declined the interview because I’ve already committed to the other job but I broke down crying in the car afterwards.

    I know I’m really in a luxury position and that an interview doesn’t equal getting the job, but I am so bummed out right now. Making important life choices is THE WORST, y’all.

    1. Dawn*

      1- your boss flipping out is on your boss, not on you. Not your circus, not your monkey.
      2- Go read Zen Pencils #90- Ira Glass (google it). I think it’ll help in your new venture!

      1. Glod Glodsson*

        Thanks, you’re right! One of the reasons I wanted to leave this job was because it was too demanding emotionally – my manager has said several times that it felt like I was dumping her since I resigned – but I find I’m having troubling actually disengaging.
        And also thanks for the linkage. That’s exactly what I’m struggling with in a way and it’s good to know this is a universal thing.

    2. Observer*

      Your boss flipping out says that you are competent enough that people WANT you at work.

      If you’ve always learned quickly and easily, struggling can be a strange and scary experience. But, you certainly have the competence to learn what you need.

      1. Glod Glodsson*

        So true, I’m trying to remind myself of this all the time. Getting three calls for interviews within a little over a month and my manager’s reaction to me leaving indicate that I don’t suck at this work thing, so even if this job doesn’t work out I’ll find something that will…but I’m having trouble getting out of that negative thought cycle.

        Also yes to the second one. I was suddenly reminded of my first year at uni, where I suddenly had to work for my grades again. That took a while to sunk in :D I’ve been working in my current field for over a decade, starting from scratch again has become unfamiliar to me, haha.

  61. VGN*

    To anyone who has freelanced for online editing and proofreading companies, can you recommend any that are particularly good to work for or that I should avoid?

    For background, I’ve worked part time for a tiny nonprofit writing and designing marketing materials and doing some administrative assistant tasks for the last 3 years. Before that I did a lot of volunteer work as a stay-at-home-parent and I was an administrative assistant for a tech company.


  62. Savannah*

    I need advice on building up a career.
    I am a program coordinator for a hospital and I run two programs which are completely not related to each other, I have two different program directors that I report to in two different departments etc. Program A is very much squarely in my field and it is exactly the kind of work I want to be doing (at a higher level) in the future. Program B I have a lot of experience in, but it is neither in my academic background or anything I would like to be pursuing in the future. Due to some politics about my head, I was recently permanently switched over to just work for Program B. I have lost some major job perks associated with Program A including a monthly work trip up to the area my parents are living which give me time with them and an extra $500 per month (due to mileage) as well as 15% international travel to coordinate program A.
    Normally I would be job searching and looking for another job closer to the work I was doing in program A. However, I am thinking about sticking it out for two more years while considering the following: My main concern is that I am about $30,000 overpaid in this position and would have an incredibly hard time (if not impossible) in finding a different, but still non-profit job without taking a large pay cut. I also receive 5 weeks of vacation time with this position, another benefit I doubt I could replicate. My time limit would be two years because I am planning (and saving for) a wedding in 18 months and ideally would be able to take a 3 week honeymoon at the end of that time with my currently company. My question is basically am I messing up my chances of building up a career in program A’s field by staying with my company doing program B work for the next two years?

    1. Librarian-to-Be*

      Probably not, but is it possible to volunteer doing something like Program A elsewhere in the meantime? That certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    1. Cristina in England*

      That sounds awful. Six! Even ONE academic boss can make it feel like no one is driving the boat. You have my heartfelt sympathies.

    2. Nanc*

      First you have to form a committee to decide what type of help, how much and when it should be implemented . . .

      I’m thankful to not longer work in academia, although I miss being around the students!

  63. RVA Cat*

    Any thoughts on coping with a sick building? I did read through this:

    We are scheduled to move but it’s not until January 2018. I’ve been here for almost 5 years now and every winter I get a hacking cough that lasts for weeks and lots of other people have the same. The building is from the 70s and there are visible stains all over the ceiling tiles, so I’m thinking there is mold. The youngest, healthiest person in my department has started coughing at work – but she never does outside of this building. I doubt there will be anything done with the move scheduled – would air filters and maybe some plants help at all? It’s a dreary, windowless cube farm on the top floor that was meant to house mainframes instead of people….

    1. KR*

      Plants helped me immensely. I used to get a hacking cough every winter, not for mold issues but because the house was closed up and the air was recycled. Once the windows started opening and fresh air started circulating through the homes and businesses I frequented, the coughing stopped. Since putting plants in the house, my coughs have stopped completely. I have three small plants in my apartment now and I have yet to get a cough this winter.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Thanks. I saw where snake plant/mother in law’s tongue is supposed to remove toxins from the air and does well in an office, so I’ll see if that helps at all. It should at least help the scenery….

    2. Ollie*

      Worked where there was mold and our boss would use Lysol or similar product and spray the tiles and A/C ducts and it helped reduce our allergy-like symptoms. I also got my supervisor to pay for an office air ionizer, and I got the office ok to use a diffuser with a consensus on which oils to put in it. Would these be an option for you?

    3. Irishgal*

      Often it’s dust/mould in the ventilation system which, in large enough doses, can be a respiratory irritant. The airway then becomes inflamed by the irritation making it more susceptible to the dust and round and round the coughing goes. Often the systems were build to have an (at least) annual cleaning to reduce this risk but that often never happened and I’ve seen some that haven’t been cleaned in years. Speak to management to see if this can be checked out.

    4. Observer*

      Air filters AND plants. The other two things to think about are humidity and lighting. If it’s too dry, humidifiers can make a HUGE difference. Also, some people do better with different types of lighting. It wouldn’t be a direct cause for the coughing, but it can be an additional stressor.

  64. Here Goes Nothing*

    I have a contact who recently made her second pitch to me of “want to come work for us?” The problem is, I’d like to work for her eventually (she’s super talented and very high level and well connected), but now is really not the right time for me to make a job switch (see reasons below). I already said no in December but left it open with”if the position were different, my answer might be different.” For the reasons below, my answer to her recent pitch (which doesn’t come with a specific position in mind) is no again — but how do I say no and still leave open the possibility of saying yes down the line? How many times can I say no before she’ll just stop asking?

    Reasons to not make a job switch right now:

    – I’ve only been in my current role for 10 months.
    – We just went through extensive discussions of restructuring my role (as part of a restructuring of our team), and we’ve finally settled on my portfolio of work for the coming year(s). My bosses were very inclusive of my opinions and preferences in this process.
    – My contact used to work at a government agency (that’s how I came to know her), but right now she works for a political party. Long story short, I’m currently in a period where I need to work in “public service” due to a graduate school fellowship, and working for a political party would definitely NOT satisfy that requirement — whereas my current job DOES satisfy the requirement. If I don’t complete four years of public service work within a six-year period following my graduation, then I have to pay back the fellowship as if it were a loan.

    Thanks for any and all advice!

    1. Dawn*

      Lay it out honestly like you have done here!

      “Sansa, OMG I would *love* to work for you and I promise the second that I can I will call you up! Right now I HAVE TO work in public service for X amount of time or lest I have to pay back a graduate school fellowship. That time will be up around (Date), and I would love to have a sincere discussion about coming to work for you at that time.”

      If I were trying to recruit you and you told me that I’d be completely understanding and really happy to have you “in my back pocket” to know that you’d be available down the line.

      1. Jen*

        This. And, depending on the amount you have to pay back, it might be worth exploring anyhow. If you’d owe 25k but they offer you an annual salary that’s 15k/ year over what you make now, and a signing bonus of say, 5k, you’re ahead of the game.

        This is, of course not your only reason. But it’s worth a consideration! I bargained a 15k signing bonus to make up for lack of tuition reimbursement perks I’d lose by movin. From working for the university to private sector. It also came with a 25k/year pay increase (30k to 55k). My remaining tuition only cost 14k, so I still won even after taxes.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Long story short, I’m currently in a period where I need to work in “public service” due to a graduate school fellowship, and working for a political party would definitely NOT satisfy that requirement — whereas my current job DOES satisfy the requirement. If I don’t complete four years of public service work within a six-year period following my graduation, then I have to pay back the fellowship as if it were a loan.

      There’s your answer in a nutshell. “I’d love to work for you someday. Right now I can’t, because I have to complete four years of public service work or else pay back my fellowship. But let’s talk in (year).”

    3. Marketeer*

      I think you should explain your last reason. That’s important and could impact you in more ways than one. Maybe say something like, “I would love to come work with you, but I need to finish up my obligation to work in public service before I can think about joining somewhere that doesn’t meet the requirement.”

  65. Luna Lovegood*

    I had my year-end eval and feedback I received included that I come across as cold. I have no idea how to improve in this area – any suggestions?

    1. JustAnotherHRPro*


      for one – awesome screen name. :)

      Did you ask your reviewer for some specific examples?

      Sometimes I come across that way, and my response is simply that I don’t realize it, but I do tend to not mix work and pleasure so I am not always interested in anything other than small talk at work.

      I also know that Alison has addressed this before, but I can’t recall when or what she said so try googling it on the homepage.

      For what it is worth, I doubt you are as cold as you come across. Anyone with that screen name cannot possibly be…

    2. Dawn*

      Story time!

      When I started at Old Job it was the first professional office job I’d ever had, at a large international company, in a real tall office building, with cubicles and everything! I was slightly terrified and, due to several crappy jobs where I’d been told I was too outgoing and I should be more “professional”, I was absolutely buttoned up at work for a long time- just saying hi to people, not being outgoing, trying my best to be *very* professional and stiff upper lip. Eventually as the team I was on grew I realized that everyone else was pretty loose and friendly at work and I started to “melt” and became really good friends with everyone, at which point they all told me they thought I was the Ice Queen when I started because I came across as being Patient Zero of RBF! I was super shocked because what to me was “professional and straight-laced” came across as being “Queen Bitch of Bitchville”.

      I absolutely think you should ask for examples of coming across as cold, as a start. Also, what helped me a TON at New Job was going into it remembering that story and making a concentrated effort to smile and say good morning to everyone and learn everyone’s name. IDK your exact situation, however I have found that being on friendly terms with everyone (saying hi, chatting while getting coffee, etc) means that everyone thinks of me as being nice and friendly and if I ever inadvertently come across weird in an email or whatever, it gets brushed off because everyone knows that I’m friendly.

    3. ZSD*

      I received similar feedback and was given advice to “manage the first three minutes.” That is, whenever you have a meeting with someone, set aside the first 2-3 minutes for small talk. Ask them how they’re doing, compliment them on their sweater, etc. If you mentally designate this time for non-work discussion, you won’t feel like it’s time wasted since you’ve scheduled it in, and you’ll come across as much warmer to your co-workers or clients.

      1. DeeBee*

        Bingo! This is the technique I use as well. Except that some of my colleagues need 15 minutes to warm up. Others need 10 or 30. I found that if I just keep talking until the other party comes down to business we generally wrap it up in about ten minutes.

        Inefficient, yes, and I hated it at first but there’ something soothing and relaxing to taking it easy, especially when you’re stressed. It got used to it so much that I actually feel offended when someone now immediately dives into business!

        1. Granite*

          Yup. Part of your job, in almost any job, is building relationships. Taking that time is how you earn the chits you’ll need to cash in when tough conversations have to happen down the road.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Look around. Try to copy what you see others doing with each other. For example, they all say good morning to each other. Make sure you are saying good morning also.

      Reflect on ways that they might have tried to connect with you that you might have missed. Don’t let those attempts at building a connection with you slide by again. Look at the picture of the new grandchild, tell them their new puppy story is cute, ask them how their vacation trip was. If they are taking turns making coffee runs, bringing in fresh fruit or snacks, emptying the garbage cans, make sure you are taking your turn at these things.

      Realize that you do not have to do everything they do, but you have to do enough so that they feel you are a part of the group.

      When it comes to the work itself and when appropriate, ask if they have everything they need from you or if a person lined up some things you needed, be sure to say thanks. If someone is super helpful let them know.
      It’s no one thing and it’s no one particular way, it’s a bunch of random stuff all day long. Not everything here will make sense in your setting, but it will give you ideas on parallel things to think about.

  66. TotesMaGoats*

    So, I’ve been at NewJob for 9 months now. And I think I’ve come to the conclusion that leaving OldJob was definitely a good thing, coming to this particular NewJob wasn’t not necessarily. I’ve had some awesome successes while here. Partly because no one had been doing my job and partly because I’m good at what I do. But I’m not happy. The commute is a killer, which I knew it would be hard at times but I spend 2 hours in the car every day. Plus $100 in tolls each month. It’s really cut down on family time and completely cut out gym time. Plus, while they hired me for a director level role they also want me doing all the travel for a role that doesn’t exist (but should) below me. I’ve got no time to do strategy because of all the events they want me to go to. Plus the data doesn’t back up that we should even attend these events but we should go because HISTORY. And I while they want growth, there is actually a cap on that growth and that’s just short sighted. Plus the highest high honcho almost sabotaged a relationship we’d been building with our local promotion and arts org for a major sponsorship. So, I’ve started looking. I wanted to stay for the full year but it’s not going to hurt to throw things open now. Who knows. I just know that this really isn’t the right place for me. It could be were other things in place but not as it is now or will be for anytime in the near future.

    1. Good_Intentions*


      As someone who just resigned from a position after 10 months, I completely sympathize with you.

      It can be difficult to leave a position, even if you know it’s not right for you, because of larger structural issues and lack of resources after a short period of time. However, the reasons you listed, particularly those tied to quality of life (family and gym time) really need to be taken into consideration and prioritized.

      I wish you the absolute best of luck as you update your resume and begin the application process. In my experience, most interviewers understand that sometimes things just don’t work out, and a person needs to move on quickly.

      Again, good luck!

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Thanks for the comment. I’ve been working on how would I answer the question of “why are you leaving after 10 months”. Trying to find a tactful way of saying these people are crazy and unorganized and have no clue what they are doing.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I would be awfully tempted in your shoes to say that the role was materially different than expected, wrt the travel vs. strategizing.

  67. Nanc*

    Any suggestions for new hire background check service for a small business? It’s been so long since I’ve had to request one that the last time I did it we hired a local private detective (yep, that was last century!) and he’s long retired. I see there are all kinds on online options–any suggestions for the good, the bad and the oh-heck-no-don’t-touch-that-one-with-a-full-hazmat-suit would be appreciated.

    FYI–we’re hiring two people this year and may not hire again for a couple of years, so we don’t need anything ongoing.

    1. Librarian*

      If your local library has A to Z Reference, you can do a basic background check through that database.

    2. Adnan*

      My former employer has offices in major US and Canadian cities. They use for Canadian new hires but I am not sure if this service is offered in the US. The Canadian checks cost about $60.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      What part of their background do you want to know about? Criminal? Financial/Credit?

      I think some police departments will run a criminal check for an employer for free.

      Barest minimum, I would be tempted to check with police departments to see if they can recommend a background checker in your area.

  68. JustAnotherHRPro*

    Just need to vent….and where better to do so then here? Im sure I am not the only one with this experience.

    So I have been trying to get into this Teapot Defense Contractor for like, 10 years now. A position recently opened up that is in my field, and I believe I am qualified for (even has the same title as my current title/job duties, etc). So I apply…

    I get an email from their recruiter – at 10pm on Tuesday night (WTF???) – asking me for my contact information (which BTW is in the recruiting system and on my resume) as she wanted to speak to me ASAP, and that she was looking to conduct interviews late this week, early next week. I emailed her back on Wednesday morning telling her that other than a 2pm on Wednesday, I was available any time for a chat or an interview, and that I looked forward to hearing from her soon. No reply.

    So yesterday I google searched on AAM, and saw a few similar occurrences, and Alison’s advice was to call her and talk to her. I was also thinking that since maybe my email was from gmail, said Teapot Defense Contractor would maybe mark my email as spam. So I called her this morning at 9:30, left her a message stating I was following up on her email, I was excited about the chance to speak to hear about the position, and left her my phone number again. Still haven’t heard back.

    So now, of course, my mind is wondering…I am not going to call her back or email her. But I looked her up on LinkedIn, and now I’m wondering if she saw that I did and didn’t appreciate that I snooped on her (I didn’t offer to connect, just looked her up to verify she was who she said she was). I did, however notice shes seems to not be able to stay at one place for more than a few months. But anyway….

    I’m really frustrated because I really want to work for this organization, and this is not a good start to the recruitment process. Plus, I don’t treat my “external clients” like this. While I am not in recruiting per se, I am in HR and as such, I do interact with inside and outside clients. And I typically don’t reach out to people as such, then never respond when they respond. But who knows? Maybe something came up…..but even if that were the case, she really should return a call or an email.

    Just venting. GRRRRRRR…..

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think it’s weird for her to email at 10. I don’t think she would have considered a gmail address to be spam. I don’t think she cared that you looked at her LinkedIn profile.

      I do think she’s a flake, though.

    2. Sadsack*

      Looking at someone’s profile after she contacted you is not snooping. My limited experience working with recruiters is to have zero expectations. Do not rely on her timeline. She contacted you, you responded, now let her get back to you.

    3. Marketeer*

      I had a a similar experience. Someone called me at 5:25 PM and I called back as soon as I left my office around 5:50 and left a message. I heard nothing from him so I decided to call and leave a second message 2 days later after searching AAM. Never heard anything from him, I don’t understand why they bother leaving a message if they’re not going to reach back out.

    4. KurinK91*

      I’m a recruiter and I’m 100% sure some of my candidates could tell the exact same story.

      Her emailing you at 10pm – not weird, but a probable sign that she is overloaded.

      You checking her out on LinkedIn – totally fine and would not raise red flags at all.

      Your follow up phone call was fine, but I would leave it at that, at least for the next week. You are now on her “I need to get back to X” list and continuous pressure does not get you moved up that list, it just makes her feel more overwhelmed (and possibly annoyed).

      Sometimes it can take me a few days (if I’m correct, you wrote this only about 48 hours after you first contacted her, right?) to get back to candidates, even if it is urgent. I know it’s not ideal, and I’m sorry. The problem is everything is urgent! Give her a little time, but don’t freak out and assume she’s screwing up your one chance to get into this company.

  69. afiendishthingy*

    Best/worst of work week?

    My worst: I’m a human services professional serving kids. I’ve had one case for a year and a half that has been endlessly frustrating because kid’s mom is borderline and swears she wants the services but constantly sabotages herself and the services. We had a meeting on Monday to try to get the case transfered to another agency because we’re getting nowhere- the mom has decided I am the root of all her problems and tells my coworkers about all of the insane things she suspects I’m doing, then backtracks if I try to address it with her. It really isn’t personal, I know it’s about her issues and not mine, but it’s super confusing and stressful to say to someone “We want you to get services elsewhere because you don’t like me, I have an ethical responsibility to discontinue services if they’re not effective” and have that person “It’s not that I don’t like you, I think you’re a good person, but I did have a problem with you doing x y and z, but I can get past my feelings, maybe YOU can’t get past YOURS, how DARE you try to discharge us, I have rights, I’m going to appeal this decision at the state level, also here are some new crazy complaints I have about you that I’ve never mentioned before”.

    Best: I had a good tearful talk (release of pent up anxiety & frustration) with a couple coworkers after the meeting and the next day I found a really sweet card and a gift certificate to a lunch place we like on my desk. So hurray for supportive coworkers.

    1. Coffee Ninja*

      That is so terribly awful! You are lucky to have great coworkers though, that helps a lot. I work in a similar environment and I always say that, unfortunately, some of our kids don’t stand a chance because the parents aren’t receiving help for their issues. (I have never seen so many legitimate personality disorders in my life). It’s heartbreaking but it sounds like you did all you could.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes. This. I saw a lot of this type of stuff in human services, where the provider ended up being the target. IF you have a good company they will rally around you and support you. If you have a bad company this stuff is a nightmare.

        The reality is that this is the nature of how things go in this arena sometimes. The parents/guardians needs help and they are not getting it. So the care recipient never receives the benefits she should be getting. And yes, the guardians blame it all on their contact person/case worker. Not unusual, at all. When the person resides in a group home, the house staff will also blame the contact person/case worker. I watched that one, too.

  70. Benefit Woes*

    Good Morning, maybe this is a question for a different forum, but…

    If a person made certain benefit elections during Open Season at their place of business and say (in this case specifically) that one had elected to continue their FSA at the same amount as last year $500.00 and found out that Payroll has not been deducting for it, is it too late now to bring to their attention and ask them to fix it?

    My husband didn’t notice it until I went to the billing department at the hospital and my FSA card was declined. We contacted the company thinking there was a mistake, and found out the FSA wasn’t continued.

    Part of why I asked is because HR at this company doesn’t make themselves easily available to employees at my husband’s level, and getting an appointment is often a chore (which is why it is almost March and there hasn’t yet been an opportunity to bring it up).

    They can also be rude if they feel like you are wasting their time by asking a question they cannot easily answer, and if we don’t go in knowing ourselves what can be done or what they are obligated to do they won’t do anything.

    Thanks in Advance!

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know about the obligation, but can’t he email or call? I’ve never seen an HR person in person at my university and I’ve been here for decades. (And for $500 I wouldn’t let rudeness stop me.)

      1. Benefit Woes*

        Hi fposte!

        “(And for $500 I wouldn’t let rudeness stop me.)”

        For the record rudeness would not deter *me*. If it would’ve been acceptable, I would have been in their office already, because *I* was the one who was put in the embarassing bind at the hospital, and had to put off paying other bills because I needed to pay on the spot with money from elsewhere.

        Unfortunately I have already spent several *days* sorting with the FSA administrators the authorization from my husband for me to even talk to them (we are in an inconvenient time zone and he is at work the only hours they are open) only to find out the problem was not on their end.

        Now that we have found out it is the company’s problem, my hands are bound. If it would not reflect badly on my husband professional norms wise “having his wife go in and do the dirty work,” I would have *politely* waited them out already, their rudeness be damned. For the reasons mentioned below to BRR, my husband doesn’t have many options either.

        (As an aside I will never understand why it is “unprofessional” to discuss with my spouse’s company HR the administration of the benefits that affect ME and MY family, and that I am furthermore held legally accountable for come the tax time and the IRS. Especially when I can be authorized to speak with the dental companies directly etc.

        Or to be fair maybe I just *assume* it would be considered unprofessional. Maybe I *could* go in and sort this.)

        (insert dissenting voice here)

        There really isn’t a website that can keep up with all the nuances that do and don’t violate workplace taboo, (Bless Ask a Manager and the EvilHRLady for doing their best anyway) so I am just left to assume this is a blanket one.

        Thank you again for responding!

    2. BRR*

      I would email or call and say your fsa didn’t continue correctly from last year. If he has some sort of confirmation I’d attach that to the email. Just knowing how people are in general, I’d also be prepared in case they ask why he just noticed. I’d figure out the polite way to say it doesn’t matter because it’s not him who made a mistake.

      1. Benefit Woes*

        Hi BRR : D !
        It is funny you should say: “I’d also be prepared in case they ask why he just noticed. I’d figure out the polite way to say it doesn’t matter because it’s not him who made a mistake.”

        …because we are counting on the fact that that is exactly what they will say, despite being absolutely unavailable until now.

        We discovered this mistake last month, but they did not have the time to see my husband and are still giving him the run around. We are pretty sure they are going to say: “So sorry March is too late there is nothing that can be done now,” despite the assurances to everyone (ie. upper levels) they can correct stuff like this later.

        This HR doesn’t respond to emails or return phone calls. Nobody at my husband’s level (or even several steps higher) has a company email address and there is “nothing in company policy” that obligates them to reply to outside emails… so generally speaking, they don’t. Phone calls go to voicemail and nobody ever calls back.

        Or they do pick up the phone they play this game: “sorry you need to come in for this, but everyone is in meetings all week,” if my husband turns up at their office he will get “sorry you need to phone in for an appointment first”, or your “manager needs to handle this”, and from there it will go back and forth until it is dropped, with them being increasingly rude and applying subtle unprovable retaliation in the meanwhile.

        Once in the office, people have been abandoned. Managers have sent people in on their lunch break, to have HR say “oh sorry I have to deal with this just wait here,” and disappear, leaving you with a choice of leaving before the break is up to be back on time, and having them say well it must not have been important because you didn’t wait, or waiting and being written up by the boss on return because you were not back on time, and having HR say “that is the boss’s perogative” when someone complains, and “I didn’t say be late getting back waiting for me, you should have known we could have handled this later.”

        Best is when they tell managers at meetings: “There is an open door policy and people can stop by anytime!”
        (To then have said managers say to us “See? That wasn’t so hard! There is an open door policy! Problem solved, now don’t bother us again, the issue is closed.” Without actually addressing the issue.

        Seriously, they treat any implication that they could have made a mistake like a personal affront.

        So sorry for the diatribe, all this aside, unless HR’s legally obligated to correct this, they won’t.

        Also past experience has shown they can’t be depended on to know anything is “the law” or even following said “law” even if they do; they tend to hedge their bets on employees not knowing what HR is actually obligated to do and/or giving up after getting the run around.

        We (as in hubby) cannot risk going in unless we know they are bound to act and will be held accountable by outside agency if they don’t.

        So if anyone knows? Do they have to fix this?

        Sorry none of this was included before, I had to go to bed earlier and didn’t get back until now to further explain.

  71. Eager Job Seeker*

    Me again. Found a career coach. Never heard back from the PAC I interviewed with but I’ve had some interviews elsewhere and continue to apply for jobs, revamp my resume, and network. Pretty discouraged at this point and miserable at my job/because of its duties.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Hang tough. Nothing stays the same forever, although it sure as heck feels like it does. Sending good vibes your way.

  72. ginger ale for all*

    There was a recent letter about putting experience transcribing archive material for the Smithsonian on a resume. I didn’t read all the way through the comments but I recently heard about a program that is looking for volunteers to do transcribing for the Smithsonian and I thought it might be of interest to the posters here.

    This is the project that may or may not be the one the writer wrote in about – cutting and pasting from the project page –

    The Freedmen’s Bureau Project — a new initiative spearheaded by the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — will make available online 1.5 million historical documents, finally allowing descendants of former African-American slaves to learn more about their family roots. Near the end of the US Civil War, The Freedmen’s Bureau was created to help newly-freed slaves find their footing in postbellum America.

    The Bureau “opened schools to educate the illiterate, managed hospitals, rationed food and clothing for the destitute, and even solemnized marriages.” And, along the way, the Bureau gathered handwritten records on roughly 4 million African Americans. Now, those documents are being digitized with the help of volunteers, and, by the end of 2016, they will be made available in a searchable database at

    According to Hollis Gentry, a Smithsonian genealogist, this archive “will give African Americans the ability to explore some of the earliest records detailing people who were formerly enslaved,” finally giving us a sense “of their voice, their dreams.”

    You can volunteer for the project by going to this site –

    1. ginger ale for all*

      I put this on my libraries facebook page and it reached over a thousand people when our normal reach is around 20.

  73. Joelle*

    Interview / Follow Up Question…

    I applied for a position in city that I am in the process of relocating to. I applied online and received a call from a recruiter that same day. I discussed my experience/education and proceeded to set up a second interview. I made travel plans and purchased a plane ticket. I confirmed with the recruiter two days before the interview and tried to get a sense of how strong of a candidate she thought I was. She was evasive and confirmed the interview time and said the manager was looking forward to meeting me. I thought the interview went well. The manager said I was the only one who the recruiter had sent in to interview and when I closed the interview he said that he was sure we would be working together soon and to look for a call that afternoon.

    That was a week ago. I noticed yesterday that there is a new posting for the company, almost identical job description but a different title. The posting that I interviewed for is gone. Should I apply to new job? Do I reach out to the recruiter? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks :)

    1. BRR*

      Does the new position report to the same hiring manager? Id probably follow up with the hiring manager but not reference the new position. Just do it as a normal follow up.

  74. SleepyMcSleeperson*

    I have a history of struggling with insomnia/sleep issues. I’ve mostly got this under control now and get at least 6-7 hours of sleep a night, but it’s not a DEEP enough sleep to be fully rested. Also, my deepest sleep happens between 5-8 am. This is a problem because I routinely sleep through my alarms and I’m often 30-45 min late for work.

    I have a wake-up light by Philips (it gets BRIGHT), an alarm clock AND my cell phone as backup. However all this light and noise are routinely features of my dreams (“oh no everyone, the building fire alarms are going off, let’s go outside into the bright sunshine”) so it doesn’t actually wake me up.

    Any suggestions from others out there who have dealt with this? I’m glad I’m finally sleeping, but I’m embarrassed that I’m so often late for work because I can’t wake up!

    1. Anananon*

      I could be completely off base, but I had similar issues waking up when I was hypothyroid. I would get up and get ready for work, then realize I was still sleeping. Then I would really get up, and brush by teeth, and realize I was still sleeping.
      It was scary and took a long time to figure out the cause. If you have another appointment with your doc, I’d suggest having your thyroid levels checked. Good Luck!

      1. SleepyMcSleeperson*

        Oh good suggestion. My aunts all have thyroid issues, never thought about that. I’ll have to book a Drs appointment. Thank you!

        I’ve totally had those dreams where you are getting ready for work. They are so unsettling.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Are you sleeping all the way through your alarms, or are you snoozing them/shutting them off in a semi-conscious state and going back to sleep? If it’s B, moving your clock/phone out of arm’s reach might help.

      1. SleepyMcSleeperson*

        Not in so many words, but I already have the latest starting time permitted (you get to choose between 730-9 when you first start). So I don’t think I could realistically get a later start time….

    3. Squeegee Beckenheim*

      I recently got a Fitbit Charge, which you wear on your wrist, and it has an alarm mode where it vibrates to wake you up. Would something like this help, since maybe it won’t get incorporated into your dreams as easily?

      1. Vulcan social worker*

        If you don’t want a fitbit but like this idea, there are vibrating alarm clocks that will shake your bed. I have one that a Deaf friend suggested to me years ago. Noise wakes me fine, but I find it unpleasant. The one that sits on your night table and has an attachment to go under your mattress isn’t cheap (maybe $50? I don’t have that one but you can find it online), but there is an inexpensive option: the travel size has a clip that attaches to your pillow. If you find you like it, you could upgrade. I now have a fitbit for the actual pedometer purposes and use the alarm function too, but I used the travel vibrating alarm clock for years.

        Most mornings I actually use the feline alarm clock which will definitely get me up before 7, but sometimes I do need to be able to set it a little more precisely for an early appointment or flight or something.

      2. Allison Mary*

        I second this. I’ve been using a Jawbone UP2, both to track how much walking I’m doing every day, and to track both quality and quantity of my nightly sleep (it actually does a really good job of this). It also lets me set several alarms, and boy, the vibrations on my wrist really do the trick! They’re tough to ignore.

        1. Allison Mary*

          Oh, also!

          This is kinda expensive, but my mom got one for me a few years ago, and when I started seeing sleep specialist doctors last year for my own chronic insomnia, one of the things they told me to do was to sit in front of this light on the brightest setting every morning, immediately after I got out of bed at 6:00 AM, for 15 minutes. I combined that with more walking, no phones/computers/TV’s after 8:30 PM, and these red LED “fairy” lights (link below) for soft, super dim lighting one hour before bedtime. After just a few weeks of sticking to this religiously, my nightly insomnia (which I’ve struggled with since middle school, I’m 29 now) improved DRAMATICALLY. And what’s more, I started waking up automatically around 6 AM every day, because I had so thoroughly re-trained my body’s circadian rhythms.

          Here’s the link for the red fairy lights:

    4. Liza*

      SleepyMcSleeperson, I see in another comment that you’re going to talk to your doctor about thyroid. If that turns out not to be the issue, it might be worth seeing a sleep specialist–your doctor might suggest it to you at that point, like mine did. (I had to see one a few years ago. It turned out I needed a CPAP, which surprised me because I thought everyone with sleep apnea snored.)

      Good luck!


      I’m a super heavy sleeper and have had many problems sleeping through morning classes, getting to work late, etc.

      It’s good that you realize that your dreams accommodate your alarm systems… You might be able to consciously in your dream think ‘oh, this bright sunshine I just noticed is totally my alarm in Real Life, so I’m still in my dream, but I need to wake up.’ It’s kinda crazy, but it works!

      I also use the Alarm Clock Plus app for my phone, using my phone’s music as the alarm noise, and is set to make me solve math problems (difficulty can be set to your preference) to help me get more conscious. On work days, my final alarm is set to 5 problems… It really sucks, I hate math, but I wake up. At the same time, I have the Sleep Time Smart Alarm Clock app from Azumio on a different phone that tracks my sleep cycle and wakes me up at the lightest part of my sleep cycle. A lot of settings are adjustable in that app as well.

      When you’ve successfully made a routine out of waking up at the time that is right for you, your body will change when you get the deepest part of your sleep! Also, to help me know that I Really Really Need to Wake Up, I have the 30/30 app from Binary Hammer, which is on the Apple App Store only. It’s a pomodoro system but you can adjust the times, labels, and save each list of timers, and I have a 1.5 hour morning, and a 1 hour morning listing so I konw EXACTLY what needs to happen to get from sleeping to in my car on the way to work. It stops me from saying 5 more minutes… I say if I don’t wake up now, I’ll lose the 10 minutes that I make sure my work bag is ready, or whatever.

      I hope any part of my suggestions help with your sleep/morning issues like they have for mine!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You have worked yourself up to the point where you can sleep 6-7 hours which is remarkable, that is not easy to do. How about shifting it such that your deepest sleep occurs between 4 and 7. I’d shoot for moving it 15 minutes at a time. So my first shift would be to go from 4:45 to 7:45. I would keep going until I had reset my internal clock that my deepest sleep was over by 7 am.

      I think part of what is going on is that you have exhausted yourself and now when you do sleep, it’s like rain in a desert for you. In order to get my sleep habits to shift by 15 minutes, I would experiment with going to bed a half hour earlier or maybe 45 minutes earlier. Another thing I have found very helpful is to get up the same time every day. So even on your days off, get up at the same time you would for work. Here’s the trick, on your days off, get up do a few things, then go take a nap because you actually have a “sleep debt” that you need to work down. I found it much easier to get up for work when I got up at the same time every day. And naps on weekends are huge treats for me, even now after years of doing much better health wise.

      Story. Part of my health crisis years ago left me not sleeping. I was running on 1-4 hours of sleep a night. This causes even more health issues. I remember my husband telling me that one morning he actually shook me and I did not wake up. You know the expression “dead tired”? There’s something to that. I eventually woke up on my own but by then it was 9 am. I found a note on my place mat from my husband saying he had called my boss and I was to go back to bed. When I decided to get up at the same time every day and take good naps on the weekends my problems were less severe.

    7. TootsNYC*

      If the sleep is not deep enough–why? Sleep apnea?

      Can you find someone who can help you, medically?

      (also, I read a book called “Sleep Thieves” that talk about a lot of the studies about sleep deprivation. There’s a chapter on food & drink, and how it affects us. I don’t want to give medical advice, but there was interesting stuff there.)

  75. Ife*

    I have been waiting all week for today! There’s something that’s been bothering me for awhile and I need a reality check and/or other people’s perspectives. To summarize, I’m having trouble transitioning from working part time to working full time and I need some perspectives on how other people work 40 hours a week, especially when you don’t actually have a full 40 hours of work to do but you still have to look busy.

    The longer version: I worked part time (15-25 hours) for the last 5 years, and loved it. I was productive, and I always had things to do. I also had time to do things outside of work that I needed/wanted to get done. I felt like I had a great balance between work and non-work life.

    Now, I am working full time at a different job. This is the first time I’ve worked full time, so I expected I would need some time to adjust, but it’s been over a year and I’m still feeling stretched too thin by it. I feel like I spend the majority of my time commuting or at work and I don’t have adequate time for my friends and interests. Plus, I’m doing less work than I did when I was working part time, so there’s an extra sting to it, because with my workload I *could* be working part time.

    Maybe I would feel differently if I felt like my work was important to society or at least interesting (or if I actually had close to 40 hours of work to do in a week!).

    How do other people manage this lifestyle? How do you fit in things you want to do, things you need to do, and things your partner and kids want/need to do? Do you actually have around 40 hours of work, or do you have to spend a lot of time trying to look busy?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Oh man, I feel you on this!

      For the work side, it depends. Some weeks I’m so busy I barely take breaks, and some weeks I have long stretches of empty time that I spend reading news/industry pieces/business development articles/rearranging my cube to be more ergonomic. I find that it balances out.

      And heck, I’ve been working full time for years now and I’m still working on the work-life balance. It helps that my husband and I have a 50/50 split with chores, but a lot of things that need to get done still slide. We try to schedule fun events on our calendar so that we stick to them– once it’s on there, the time magically appears. I’ve also had to get a lot better at deciding when it’s time to just pay someone to do something at home, or when it’s time to order a pizza and forget about the time sink that is making dinner.

      Hope other people have some good tips!

    2. super anon*

      My work ebbs and flows depending on the time of year (ex: December & August are notoriously difficult to get anything done because a lot of people are on vacation, especially in August). I take advantage of downtime to do tasks I’ve been putting off, like organizing my filing, or doing prep-work for a big project.

      I’m also lucky in that my time is very flexible. I can come and go when I please, and I’m also free to do errands on breaks, etc. I’m a high performer and easily get everything done that needs to be done.

      However, I don’t know how people with kids do it. I’m single and even with working, going to the gym and cooking dinner/cleaning I feel like I have no time or energy for anything else. I’m really worried about how I’ll be able to function if I were ever to have a kid.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        This is actually why we haven’t had kids. I spend nearly all my time on “staying alive” (working, commuting, cooking/grocery shopping/etc., cleaning, working out).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Most of my full time jobs have been killers. I have come home totally wiped out and frustrated because I still had tons to do. But yeah, I had like no personal time. My commute took an hour at one job, because I always had to stop for something on the way home. Every. Single. Day. There was dog food, stamps, bread, light bulbs, always something.

      Where I live is fairly rural and the running commentary here is “if you have a full time job, you probably do not know your neighbor’s names”. Yeah, this is true.

      I tried to do smaller things on week days and save larger stuff for weekends. But it was a slippery slope and that was at the forefront of my thinking. If I did not get my daily tasks done each day, I would fall way behind. I ended up becoming fascinated with the topic of how to simplify daily activities. I opted for seeking a simpler life style that would accommodate so many hours away from home.

      Having said all that, I could not do what you are doing. I have to know that my work is worth something and I am not killing time. When I was young I made the mistake of saying, “Don’t ask me to stand around and do nothing. I have plenty I can do at home and I would rather be working on something.” My comment went over like a lead balloon but my point was taken. If you cannot get your hours reduced, then maybe you should look for a different work place. In my case they switched my hours to 32 hours per week and they gave me more responsibilities (after they got done telling me I was rude). If they had not done that, I would have had to quit. I cannot stand doing nothing. If I can only choose between being busy beyond belief and doing nothing, I rather be busy beyond belief.

  76. super anon*

    I’m feel really down and disappointed in my coworkers and boss this week. I can’t decide if I’m being too sensitive or not.

    My coworker asked me to do her a favour and run an info table about our department at an event she was putting together. While it was outside of the scope of recruitment work that I usually do, I agreed to help her and said yes, even though I didn’t have to.

    My coworker never sent me the information about the event – where it was, what time, nothing. I sent her an email and received no reply, and she wasn’t in the office the entire day leading up to it. I got lucky and caught her the afternoon of the event – when she called me 10 minutes before I normally leave to ask me to help her with preparing the info packets for the event. On the day of the event I showed up to run the table and and was completely ignored. The coworker who invited me, my boss who was present, and another coworker as well. I may as well have been invisible! I finally was able to get someone’s attention and set up the table, and was told to come back at 10:00 am for the break. I showed up at 10… only to find out the break was at 10:30. It was really awkward – it wasn’t the kind of event where people wanted to talk to me, they just wanted to pick up info packets and sit down. Additionally – my specific role has nothing to do with what the event was about and I knew nothing about the presentations, so it was really a waste of my time. The coworker who invited me easily could have handled it. Instead, I watched her network with everyone in the room – which leads me to believe she wanted me there so she could mingle unencumbered by table duties.

    I had to go back at noon to clear the table, and when I did I was waiting for the room to clear out. I watched my boss and my coworkers leave ahead of everyone else and walk past me and say nothing. They stopped a few feet away to talk and exchange presents and cards. After that there was a lunch – my coworkers went to eat and mingle while I did the tear down… but I wasn’t invited. I went in to ask my coworker what she wanted done with the info she had brought and she invited me to eat then – but there were no chairs left at any of the tables they were at and I would have had to sit alone. The way she said it made it clear inviting me was an afterthought.

    I feel really silly being so hurt by this – but I was invited by them and did my coworker a favour, and in turn I was completely ignored and had my time wasted. I already barely see my bosses or anyone on my team unless I hunt them down myself (and even then it can be like pulling teeth). My coworker tries to keep our bosses to herself, and I often hear them planning to go eat/get drink/go shopping together, and I am never invited – even if I am in the room while it’s happening. I wouldn’t want to do those things with my boss anyway, but knowing that I can barely get an answer to my emails but my coworker gets all of the attention (she has weekly one on one meetings with our bosses and I can barely get time on our weekly team conference calls to talk to them… and it took 6 months to get me added to the calls).

    Oh well, hopefully next week will be better.

    1. Dawn*

      “knowing that I can barely get an answer to my emails but my coworker gets all of the attention (she has weekly one on one meetings with our bosses and I can barely get time on our weekly team conference calls to talk to them… and it took 6 months to get me added to the calls).”

      Run. This is some Mean Girls crap right here and you deserve better!

      1. super anon*

        I’ve been applying elsewhere, but my field is small and niche and there aren’t a lot of openings. I’m currently trying to decide if I should change fields completely or not.

    2. Ollie*

      No, you are not being too sensitive about it. Just realize your co-worker is making power plays and that you should be looking for a better job. You say you cannot leave but always be looking!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed, there is always a way out, as they say, if you cannot find a door, look for a window. There is a way out- keep looking.

        Please remember that depression can be anger turned inward. Do not start down this road, your bosses are lacking in management skills, in too many ways to list off here. Do not get upset with yourself for their massive fail. Okay, their epic fail. Do however keep your work ethic and keep your attitude, you will need those two things at your new place.

        We cannot help people who do not allow us to help them. Period. That is it in a nutshell. They are not allowing you to help them, so, yes, you will not be able to do that much for them. Chin up, there is someone out there that will think you are the best employee. You can find this person/people.

  77. Fabulous*

    There is something in the air this week. I finally heard back* about scheduling an in-person interview for an awesomely well-paying job. I also got a call on Tuesday about another job, but it turned out to be part time instead of full time so I turned down their interview offer. Then yesterday this company called me back and said they were changing the job to be full time with higher pay, so now I have 2 interviews next week! AND THEN I also got a call from a staffing group who found my resume online for another job. What the heck!?

    *Funny story: So I had been waiting to hear from this guy because he straight up told me he would be scheduling an in-person interview after our initial phone call. I had been checking my email nonstop, but nothing. I accidentally clicked on my Deleted folder (I was aiming for Drafts) AND THERE WAS HIS EMAIL. How it ended up deleted I will never know. Thankfully it had only been sent that morning so I was able to quickly reply, but it was just divine intervention that I clicked on the Deleted folder. THAT could have been bad!!

  78. cereal killer*

    So I was working as a contractor for Company A through staffing company B. I was classified as a 1099 contractor, and company B handled my taxes and health insurance. My contract with them ended last month. I decided rather than to extend the contract, to travel for a year. My manager at Company A wants me to keep working for them on a freelance basis- which I am happy to do.

    However Company A compliance officers are now insisting that I remain a contractor through Company B if I continue to work for them and are denying my status and an independant vendor for Company A even though I have established myself as an LLC. Can they do this? Working for staffing company B was a nightmare for a variety of unrelated reasons. I do not want to continue as their employee. Does any one have any experience with this? Is there anything I can try?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    1. fposte*

      My guess is that they don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with Company B, and they may even have a contract with them that precludes them from contracting with their people separately for a certain amount of time.

      You can ask them if there’s any other way, but it sounds like you already have; I think you’ll have to decide if it’s worth dealing with Company B to keep working for Company C.

      1. cereal killer*

        Yes they do a lot of business with Company B, but I never signed anything saying I would not work independently for Company A. I now feel like I am being held hostage!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But Company A may have signed an agreement saying they wouldn’t hire anyone who leaves Company B, whether or not you signed anything.

        2. fposte*

          Yup to Rusty. You’re not held hostage–you can work for anybody who doesn’t have a contract with Company B. But there’s no right to insist that a business with a staffing contract hire you outside of that contract.

    2. ThatGirl*

      The company I work for originally hired me as a totally independent contractor (I was hired off Craigslist!); after about a year they switched every contractor over to a staffing company, with very limited exceptions. No more just bringing randos in from CL, everyone had to go through the agency.

      I get that it’s annoying, but yes, they can do it.

  79. Random Lurker*

    My terrible employee’s last day was Tuesday. Naturally, he continued to behave and scorch the earth up to the very end.

    My boss is not very sympathetic and doesn’t want to hear me vent. I can’t vent to my staff because that would create a very unhealthy environment. But I NEED to get rid of all the toxicity that has built up from him.

    Thank you open thread. You all understand what it’s like to work with an unreasonable asshole.

    1. DeeBee*

      Glad he’s gone! Anything else you’d like to get off your chest? I’ll happily listen (well… read) :)

  80. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I’ve noticed recently that I give a lot of compliments on people’s clothes/hair/etc…. to women, at work. Ack!

    It feels like there are two potential problems:

    1) I’m overcomplimenting in general. I use it as a conversational crutch when I run into someone in the hallway. I don’t always “love the color on you!” but I say it almost always.

    2) I almost exclusively compliment women. There are a few men that I regularly compliment – men on my team, or who I know through another organization – but it’s nearly all women. I don’t know why, but I can’t think of a reason that I would be comfortable with (for example: I am more naturally comfortable with women; I pay attention to or value women’s appearance more than men’s; I better recognize personal/professional boundaries with men than women; etc.).

    I don’t think I really have a question (although I’d love to hear from anyone who has struggled with something like this, or been on the receiving end, or whatever). I just wanted to admit it to myself and prompt myself to think about it and make some changes.

    1. commiserator*


      I’m not sure how helpful I’ll be, but I do this too! Also, only to women. It also makes me uncomfortable when I notice myself doing it.

      I think, for me, it’s because I view it as a rather “cheap” way to ingratiate myself. In other words, it feels exemplary of a problem in general, which is thinking people will only value me if I’m “nice”. I think it can come off as needy and unprofessional. It could be perceived as “focusing on the wrong things” so to speak.

      Also, from a feminist perspective, it does reinforce that women are prized for appearance and men aren’t.

      It’s all a jumble for me, but the struggle is real! Kudos to you for being self aware and self reflective enough to think it through:)

    2. Glod Glodsson*

      I might be totally wrong here but I don’t see this as a problem as long as the compliments are genuine!

      We once had a problem with this when a guy did it. He complimented all women in the office once a day on their clothing or whatever. It felt super weird: I think he probably read somewhere that this would help him socially so he implemented it literally.

      I think it’s different when women compliment each other. I love it when my female coworkers say something about my new dress/hair or whatever. Women are so often conditioned to see other women as enemies – even more so professionally. Complimenting female coworkers every once and a while is a way to build positive relationships. I’d just make sure not to do it daily or whatever.

      The only thing I’d be careful with is only complimenting on things women have control over, like a new hairdo or dress. Complimenting stuff like weight is problematic.

      1. Glod Glodsson*

        (by which I don’t mean to say you shouldn’t compliment men, but just that I see the act of complimenting from woman to woman as a way to confirm a positive relationship)

      2. Doriana Gray*

        I’m with you Glod. I have no problem being complimented on my wardrobe – it’s why I buy what I buy in the first place! I also have a million and one professional designations to my name, and get complimented on that as well, so it balances out.

    3. Nanc*

      Hmm, practice complimenting them on work related stuff? Great job on the new teapot design. Hey, loved your blog about antique teapot spout production. Thanks for the heads up on the potential production problem–we got it fixed.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This a bad plan is better than no plan. Build plans of what you will replace the compulsive complimenting with. Perhaps you are using the compliments as conversation starters- then at home, in a quiet time make a small list of good conversation starters. Maybe you are using the compliments to fill in pauses, same deal here, make a short list of pause fillers. Or maybe it is something deeper, you like to know that you look nice so you tell others they look nice. Well, how about checking your look in the mirror before work and complimenting yourself? I always managed to pick out crappy clothes when I was growing up. Now, when I pick out something that hangs okay on me, I do congratulate myself for having better discernment. It’s not vanity, it’s about having a higher awareness of how I present to others- frumpy vs. professional.

    4. MaryMary*

      It’s interesting that you think this may be a problem, because I’ve heard/read several sources that say compliments are a great way to build rapport and put people at ease. Most people love to talk about themselves. Personally, it’s my preferred small talk. Instead of talking about the weather or sports, I’ll compliment someone’s outfit or accessories. I actually do this for both men and women, but I work in an industry where a lot of men dress well, so they’re delighted when I notice their pocket square. It was harder when I worked with techies who wore khakis and polo shirts.

      If I can compliment someone’s accomplishments, of course, that’s even better. I thought that article you wrote was great. I heard you landed a new account, congrats! Etc.

  81. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    My office is right next to the bathroom. Someone goes in there multiple times a day and gags extremely loudly and spits up whatever phlegm they manage to work up. It’s so disruptive and nauseating to me. I listen to music, and otherwise make as much noise as possible, but I can’t cover the sound and I don’t have the type of job where I could wear headphones.

    Is there way I could approach with this while being sensitive to/of possible cultural differences? Or is it something I need to just suck up?

    1. fposte*

      Oh, unfortunate last line there :-). But yeah, I think you need to roll with this, whether it’s cultural or health or whatever. Somebody spitting in the bathroom is doing it in the appropriate location.

    2. Sadsack*

      I don’t see how you could comment on what someone is doing in the bathroom.. Maybe you could get your desk moved?

        1. Sadsack*

          I feel for you, I would find that really difficult to bear. What about a fan or something else for white noise? Sorry, can’t think if any great suggestions.

    3. KR*

      Maybe whenever they go in the bathroom you could get up to refill the printer paper or look out the window conveniently. Or if you don’t know the person and never work with them, you could just stare at them really hard with a raised eyebrow next time they walk out of the bathroom. That’s what I would do.

      1. CheeryO*

        I was going to suggest taking a lap around the office whenever they head for the bathroom. Maybe wait until they close the door so they don’t notice the pattern!

        I think the staring/raised eyebrow is kind of cruel, though. It might be a genuine health issue – my boyfriend has severe mucus problems relating to his allergies (which are as under-control as possible), and he does the hacking/gagging/spitting thing several times a day just to avoid feeling like he’s drowning in his own fluids. It’s a seriously gross sound, but it doesn’t really bother me at this point.

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Please do not do that. They are expectorating in the correct environment. It’s gross, but presumably they’re not doing it for the fun of it. No one would say this if they were having unfortunate bowel issues and making uncomfortable noises.

  82. shep*

    I am about to undergo a breast augmentation and am taking a week off from work to recover. It’ll be very obvious when I return why I was out. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it by saying anything, but neither do I want to make my colleagues uncomfortable/afraid to ask by not saying ANYTHING upon return, in light of the obvious change.

    I know some women in my office have had augmentations, and that makes me feel a little better, but theirs were several years ago and/or before they came to this organization, so I haven’t seen how they’ve handled gossip or questions and the like.

    I’m comfortable with my decision and wouldn’t have problems answering any questions or just having a discussion about it (aside from the fact that if I saw someone ELSE undergo the procedure, I wouldn’t ask questions out of respect for their privacy), but I don’t know how to go about portraying this comfort without inciting undue gossip by announcing it.

    I do admit I’m a little concerned about gossip, but I feel like I do good work and have good relationships with my coworkers, and those are the bars by which I should be judged anyway. I can’t control the gossip. I just want to do what I can to mitigate it, you know?

    So, my currently plan is to just quietly mention it to my supervisor, who is very discreet to begin with, and then just field inevitable gossip as it comes.

    Any additional suggestions? Thanks, all!

    1. Dawn*

      Treat it like Not A Big Deal At All and that’s how everyone else will treat it too.

      First of all, CONGRATS!!! And I wish you a speedy recovery! High fives for doing exactly what you want with your body!

      Secondly, I’d mention it to your boss and then go back to business as usual at work until someone brings it up, and then be jovial about it- “I made a wish on a falling star and then I woke up like this! Who knew!” or “Thanks, it’s great to be back at work!” or “yeah I’m happy to be done with a long journey!” or whatever tack you want to take on while talking about the subject.

        1. Dawn*

          Yes, or that… that sounds hysterical actually!


    2. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I just had a reduction and while it’s somewhat different as far as perception goes, I did not mention it to anyone (except one person I was friends with). I gave the people in my office the benefit of doubt and assumed that no one paid much attention to my breasts to begin with, ha! If it were me, I would not mention it at all to anyone, and if someone asked, would be forthcoming, but it’s really a matter of your own comfort level. I think if people are going to gossip, they can find other things to gossip about as well.

    3. ButNowAnon*

      I wouldn’t say anything. It may be obvious to folks, it may not be. I had an augmentation last year and I was super nervous about coming back, because I felt the change was, ahem, substantial. But nobody’s said anything, looked askance or otherwise indicated they’ve noticed. And if they do notice, so what? They aren’t going to say anything.

      It would be a nightmare for me to have to discuss that kind of procedure in the work place because socially the breasts are reserved for “non-work” spaces. If I won’t wear a black bra under a white shirt to work, I also don’t need to talk about what that bra is holding.

    4. CheeryO*

      I think your plan is fine. I’m having a septo-rhinoplasty done this summer, and I plan on being completely open about it with anyone who asks. However, I am not going to go out of my way to point it out – drawing attention to it seems more awkward to me than just letting people notice on their own (or not – honestly, I think you’re probably overestimating how familiar your coworkers are with your breasts).

    5. Squeegee Beckenheim*

      I wouldn’t say anything, but I work somewhere where I’d expect people to be polite enough not to comment or ask about it.

    6. Ad Astra*

      I think a lot of people in the office just won’t notice — which sounds crazy, but a lot of folks are unobservant, and they probably haven’t been paying close attention to your boobs. If you’re quite close with some of your coworkers, you could mention ahead of time how excited you are to be getting a breast augmentation. They can help with gossip by confirming “Yep, shep got a boob job. Good for her!” Not everyone has coworkers who are that close, but this would work in my office.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It took my coworkers four months to notice I had started coloring my hair. When they figured out something had changed they just assumed that I used to wear glasses and I had gotten contacts. (Serious, not joking.) I actually had to tell them I colored my hair.
        OP, it could be that three months from now they ask you what you did to lose weight or ask you if you used to wear high heels and be taller. Expect them to guess and their guesses will be very funny.

  83. What now?*

    So, I’ve pretty much decided that my current field (the field that all my education is in, lol) and my current position are just not going to be for me in the long-run. My job isn’t actually terrible, I have good benefits (but I get paid pretty little), my coworkers are okay, etc. so I’m not in that much of a hurry to get out, even though I can’t see myself here for more than 3 years.

    Anyway, my question is, so once you realize you’re in the wrong career… WTF do you do then? I know I’ll probably need to go back to school or get additional training, whatever, I’m okay with that, but I just have nooooo idea where to go from here. I tried investigating my interests, but… none of them are really career worthy? I just don’t know how to even BEGIN the “career change” process. I’m only 27, so I hope it’s not too late, but I’m sort of terrified. Any advice?

    1. Glod Glodsson*

      Getting additional education is one way. Another is figuring out what you WOULD like to do and see if there are any jobs in that industry with overlap with yours. Apply to those jobs to get industry experience and go from there. I think most people end up in a different field than what they’ve studied for. The real question is how your skills transfer!

    2. Meliora*

      Well, I didn’t exactly switch careers but at age 30 I had to put together a lot of random pieces in order to come up with something resembling one.

      I figured out what I didn’t want.
      I looked over my experience and education and tried to pick out themes like organizing things, working with food, customer service, and whatever else.
      I decided which of these themes I found most statsfying.
      I tried to come up with jobs that might take those themes and skills to the next level.
      I picked something out of that list that seemed like it might be in demand and that would take the least amount of qualifications and made that my goal.
      I highlighted those themes on my resume and got some additional qualifications and experience to get that job, or in my case something similar but unexpected where I found a random opportunity.
      Now I am working on phase 3 which is to take my next level skills that I’ve developed and proved and jumping off into something slightly more specialized now that I’ve had a chance to dip my toes into what the options going forward might be.

      Since I didn’t really know or care what I was going to do other than not this or that, I feel like this was a good strategy for me in order to not have to completely start over or waste my time working towards something else I might not be that into. I would not have imagined myself doing what I am doing now, but I like it, and beyond that, I’m excited to see where I can go from here.

    3. Aussie academic*

      I feel like I’m all over this thread today (and I’m not really, but more of a lurker than a poster) but I had to reply to this. I realised in my mid-20s that I wanted a big change. I went and got some career counselling and also spoke to lots of people about what they did. A few people were kind enough to let me job shadow them (basically follow them around) for a few days and figure out if what they did could be a good fit for me. I went back to university at 26 and got my degree at 30 and haven’t looked back. My journey than involved a grad degree (PhD) too, but that came a bit later. At the university where I work, there are A LOT of people who are in their 20s, 30s and beyond either going to university for the first time or going back for a career change – it’s really pretty normal nowadays, so don’t worry that’s you’re too late. I always find the “mature aged” students do better anyway as they value their learning more and are more comfortable asking for help/seeking out opportunities. (No offence to school leavers meant and a realise this is a blanket statement, but it is a trend I see.)

    4. Mreasy*

      I’m going to go out on a limb here & recommend finding a good life coach to talk about this with. I have been working with one, and once I started the process I discovered the some of the most accomplished people I know also have done. Sometimes this is too big to figure out on your own! Working with someone specifically with the goal of discovering a path forward can help you unearth ideas about potential careers you may not even have known would be possible. Mine has helped me realize that I need a five-year plan for getting out of the industry that I like, but that ultimately leaves me feeling drained & like I’m not contributing as much as I want to be nor using my talents enough. I’ve got almost a decade on you, and even so I found her help incredibly eye-opening. A thought!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing a good life coach. I went to one and it helped to give me a sense of direction.

        I think my biggest take away was stick to areas that you have natural abilities. We ignore/take for granted the things we do with ease. If you go in the direction of your natural abilities the likelihood of you staying employed is probably better. When things get rocky at work, it will be a little easier to navigate because you are doing something that comes naturally to you.

  84. Definitelyanon*

    Anyone have tips for working with the person you covered during mat leave? I’ve been kept on for another year to work on a different but related project and there is some serious tension between the woman I covered and myself. We have very different work styles… Without getting into details it’s really stressful. I don’t think anyone else sees it, thankfully.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think this is more a question about different work styles than the mat leave. Look for places where you can compromise, look for where you can flex and try, try, to spend less time thinking about how dis-similar you guys are. Try to find something she is good at, use that as a focus point and then try to find another things she is good at. Practice random acts of kindness.

      Sorry, this is not very specific, it’s just general things I have done that have helped me. Without knowing what the details are, I could be way off course. She could be throwing scissors at you and dumping your desk over. If that is more the case, then ignore me.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Also, someone with a different work style may enjoy working on things you don’t like working on and vice versa.

  85. Ihmmy*

    how do you respectfully tell customers/visitors to stop wearing so much galldang perfume/scented products?

    Our (Canadian, post secondary ed) business is “Scent aware” but not technically scent free by way of company policy. Some scents aren’t bad but many give me very nasty headaches. I have a scent aware poster up but obviously not everyone sees it, and if they’ve already doused themselves in product it’s not like they’re going to go and wash it all off because they need to stop into the main office (where I work out of) for 5 minutes.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Get a small desk fan and point it outwards from your desk. The idea is not to blow away anybody that comes in, but to have a gentle breeze that directs the airflow away from you toward them. It really helps.

    2. Vulcan social worker*

      Is there any possibility of having the scent-aware policy distributed in more places? Can it be at the bottom of email messages you send out to people who schedule appointments with you? Something like, “Please refrain from wearing heavy perfumes or colognes when you visit our office as others may be sensitive to fragrances. Thank you.” I know a lot of people don’t notice and you’re not communicating with everyone by email, but you’ll catch some people that way. In addition to the poster, how about a sign at the reception desk as well, the kind that is like a nameplate that people might be more likely to notice because their eyes go to things on a desk?

  86. eliza*

    I just want to complain a little about my new (as of 3 months ago) manager. We went from having an amazing, involved manager who would push back and advocate for us to a completely hands-off manager whose only involvement with my team is a weekly meeting where he uses the time mostly to show off what he’s been working on rather than check in with any of us – and when we do have problems, there’s nothing he can do (or will do) about it. In addition to this, he commonly makes jokes that come off as sexist (frequently noting my team is all female and the other team he manages is all male, talking about using the image of a woman to hold engineers’ interest) and does not do anything in the way of teambuilding at all, which is unusual in this organization. I had to prompt him this week to have a team lunch to welcome our newest temp-to-perm member, which I came to expect under my other manager and from observing the other teams. I’m not happy at all, the rest of my team is unhappy, none of us respect him, and our morale is generally in the toilet. If this had been the situation I came into, I wouldn’t even see a difference, but having started with an awesome manager, I know now what I’m missing under a bad one.

    1. Dawn*

      That sexist bull $#!& needs to stop. Go to his boss or HR if you have to, but shut it down- that is NOT. COOL.

  87. Kyla*

    Does anyone else feel really uncomfortable with jobs asking you to upload a video as part of the application process? I feel like it is a non subtle way to screen applicants for ‘attractiveness’ but they can use the ‘want to see how someone speaks’ excuse while a picture is a bit more obvious.

    Or am I just being paranoid because I am self conscious about my looks?

    1. Princess Buttercup*

      I’m sorry you are encountering this! No advice, just my 2 cents. I think the videos for applications are ridiculous. We don’t do them, but occasionally we use a staffing agency for long term temps (such as when a receptionist was out for mat leave) or temp-to-hire positions, and the staffing agencies use them. I’ll look at them but pretty much find them useless. Either I’m going to interview based on the resume or I’m not. A video doesn’t affect my decision either way (there’s no interaction as there is during an interview, so it doesn’t really give me any relevant info).

      And personally, I think it is an way for *some* companies to weed out those *undesirables* – such as people of color – before bringing them in for an interview. Look at a video, see a POC, and rule them out based on “personality” or whatever, when the real reason is more insidious.

      Maybe I am just cynical (and this is coming from a white woman in a company with diversity across all staff levels). But I really don’t see any legitimate reason for videos in the application process (of course, other than things like demo reels for TV reporters and similar on-air roles).

  88. Hlyssande*

    We had an exciting meeting regarding updated sanctions against a certain country in the Middle East and how we’re supposed to figure out how to avoid accidentally doing business with them (even in a 3rd party fashion). Joy!

    Fun fact: We have to make all procedures in advance before the (gigantic, global) company does any business at all with said country, else it counts as facilitation.

    *jazz hands*

  89. Red Wheel*

    Lately my boss ( who is insecure) has been asking for my comments and inputs on written products and then passing them on to our higher bosses as his own feedback. Is there anything I can do about that?

    1. Pipette*

      If you are given hard copies, sign your initials by any comments. If you are given electronic copies, use the in-file commenting options that show the user name of the commenter.

  90. Me*

    So, I just had lunch with my former boss. I wasn’t in the job for more than 10 months, because I hated the work, wasn’t thrilled with the company, and my boss was a micromanager who wore her emotions on her sleeve and liked to talk to us like we were school children. Lunch was fine, but it felt like I was back working for her again. I felt like I couldn’t get a word in edge-wise or finish a thought, which was exactly the way I felt when I worked for her. If you ask me a question, please let me answer it! *sigh*

    1. Princess Buttercup*

      Sounds like it’s time to move on and not do lunch (or whatever) with ExBoss. Not sure who initiated it, but in future, don’t initiate and don’t accept invitations from her.

      If you need to maintain a relationship (for reference purposes, for example), you will need to be careful in how you decline future invitations- “So sorry, work is just too busy right now, and I’m not sure when it will lighten up, so I just can’t make plans for lunch/drinks/whatever.” And if she presses, say that you’d hate to make plans only to inconvenience her with last-minute cancellations.

      You may need to occasionally meet up with her to preserve the relationship, but I’m guessing that the more time that goes by since you worked for her as well as the rarity of these lunches will make it more bearable.

      1. Me*

        It’s been over a year since I worked for her, and this is the first time we’ve gotten together. She initiated, because she was visiting my company for a meeting. She will be there again in a few months, so I’ll likely say my calendar is full.

  91. Professionally Anon*

    How do you start demanding respect from your peers in a respectful way? My colleagues and I are constantly seen as lesser beings and yet we’re also come to when advice is needed. Disrespect runs rampant at my place of employment and I really want to see that change.

    1. danr*

      You can’t “demand” respect. But you can earn it. Be professional in your interactions with your colleagues and be willing to relax too.

    2. Charity*

      I think asking for “respect” in vague terms might not work (either they won’t understand what you mean or they will refuse to understand what you mean) but it might help to isolate specific instances of discourtesy/disrespect and push back based on that. You might try pointing out when someone is being rude when it happens. If that doesn’t work you can then point it out when the rude person is asking you for help.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think I would start by setting boundaries. Start with the things that are way over the top.

      Ex: Calling me the c word or throwing things at me are never acceptable, I will report those things.

      The next layer of things that I would tackle is things that impact my work OR my reputation with the boss. Ex #1: I need Bob’s work, but he never gets it to me on time. Bob and I will have a chat about that. Ex #2. Jane tells the boss I am causing problems for her. I will request a meeting with the boss and Jane to go over the issues.

      My last layer is when people don’t say thanks or ignore me, etc. I try to figure out if this is the hill to die on, given all the other problems. If I have someone ignoring me, who I need to work with, then I will take steps on that problem because that is actually a level 2 problem not a level three problem in my little system I have here.

      Keep in mind the differences in people. Some people are just disrespectful. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
      Some people are willing to dial it back. It could be you have to call them out on it. Or it could be that you have to explain to them what they are doing is causing an issue and WHY. Different personalities can mean different courses of action.

      It sounds like you need a massive overhaul for these people. That may not be possible. Go for the worst aspects first. Only target a few things at a time, pace yourselves out. If you don’t, you will exhaust yourselves because it will feel like you are rebuilding the world. Do not fight on all fronts at the same time, for your own sanity.

      And lastly, do a self check. If you change things that you are doing will you get a more positive response? This works well on smaller problems, those problems that are not the hill to die on.

  92. blackcat*

    A friend/colleague of mine just got invited to an out of state interview (they know she’s out of state and have offered to fly her out. She said she’s “looking into her schedule”). She got the interview through a head hunting firm, so she didn’t even apply per se. Her file was given to them.

    The big issue is that she’s the single mom of a toddler and the kid’s dad can’t be trusted to show up on time to take care of the kid.

    I think it’s 100% out of line to bring the kid and use a sitter there, right? Even if she pays for the extra ticket?

    The other option is that I take the kiddo for the duration. Kiddo likes me. While my cat is super child-friendly, my house overall isn’t. I’m not thrilled about staying at her place with the kiddo because then my cat is alone (and he’s a needly cat).

    Should I just suck it up and figure it out? Or should she ask about booking (and her paying for) a second ticket for the kid?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I don’t see anything wrong with her buying out of her own pocket a ticket for the kid and getting a babysitter out there. How would the company even know?

      I guess it comes down to would she be more stressed out having flown a couple hours (or more) with a toddler and leaving him for a few hours with a stranger or leaving him with a friend for a couple days? You actually don’t have to do that much to “baby proof”. Get the breakables above height limit. I’ve got a 2 year old and we’ve got no gates, no cabinet locks, no outlet covers. No nothing.

        1. KR*

          You could designate a part of your house as kid-free. For example, it could be that you have a second floor and the kid doesn’t go to the second floor of the house and all your non-child friendly stuff goes up there for the week (a friend of my dads used to do this when he had parties with lots of little kids running in and out of the house – they knew there was one rule and that was to not go upstairs). Or you could try to corral it all into a couple of rooms and close the door for the time being that the kid is there (my favorite when babysitting).

    2. Sadsack*

      I don’t really understand what the question is here. What is to stop her from buying her own tickets for her kid or whoever she wants?

      1. Sadsack*

        Sorry, I seem to have skipped over a part of this when I first read it. Anyway, I am now not understanding why it is out of line for her to bring her kid and get a sitter. Or do you mean she would be bringing her kid to the interview?

        1. blackcat*

          I mean she’d have to tell them that she’s bringing a kid (even if it was on her dime) and check that a sitter can hang out at the hotel where she’s staying. I guess she could do that without telling the employer, but I was afraid that they may pick her up/drop her off at the airport rather than rely on cabs (I know the area, and a cab to/from the airport would be as much as the plane ticket. And there’s not good public transit). I guess she could ask for a rental car?

    3. Stella Maris*

      What does she do for childcare now? If there is a regular provider it might be easier (and cheaper) to pay for a couple of overnights with the current and known provider.

      1. blackcat*

        Kid is at a combination daycare/preschool from 8am-4pm. Staff there are not allowed to babysit for the families.

        1. blackcat*

          And the kids school is at our workplace (a university), so it’d be easy for me to do drop off/pick up.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Him being at daycare actually makes this easy.

            i discovered when our child was a toddler that she really wasn’t “loose” in the house that much!

            Came home from work, and there was dinner. Then bedtime.

            If you have to do much cooking, that’s a bit difficult, but depending on the kid’s age, you could get him to help, especially if you make dinner that night be something like peanut butter & jelly.

            The non-child-proofness of your house is probably not a real problem.

        2. Stella Maris*

          I meant for evenings/weekends like this would likely be. (Bonus – if the child stayed at home they would have day-time care taken care of!)

    4. Laurel Gray*

      blackcat, if you feel you are able to (and want to) I say watch her kid. I wouldn’t be too comfortable at the interview stage having child care logistics be in discussions with a potential employer (don’t want that part to have any weight in their decision about me). My house has never been child friendly (still isn’t) and I have a toddler. It can be done. You watch them and keep them preoccupied with things they like, and at your house with your cat. The toddler is your (plural) guest and I am sure the cat will feel better knowing he didn’t have to make any adjustments for your short baby sitting stint. You’re a good friend!!!

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree that “childproofing!” a house is really not always that necessary.

        Children don’t really run around doing that much sticking of fingers in sockets, especially if they’re not left on their own for half-hours at a time.
        Really the hardest part is that you will be occupied completely until bedtime. So don’t try to do any leisure stuff after you get home; it’s Playing With the Toddler time, and you simply incorporate stuff like making a quick dinner and setting the table into it.

        You’ll get home from daycare, and you’ll need to feed him supper; he’ll be all preoccupied with the CAT!!
        You can boil water for Mac and Cheese, and then ask him to put the paper plates on the table, one by one.
        Then you eat. Then maybe it’s bathtime (play! but don’t leave him alone), and pajamas, and reading a couple of books. And bedtime.

    5. KR*

      I wonder if the child has any friends that he frequently has play dates with. Their parents might be willing to look after him/her or split the time with a family member (one night at friends house, one night with a grandparent).

    6. blackcat*

      Thanks for the input, everyone!

      “I wouldn’t be too comfortable at the interview stage having child care logistics be in discussions with a potential employer (don’t want that part to have any weight in their decision about me).”

      Yes, Laurel, that’s exactly her concern.

      As for play-dates, I don’t get the sense that my friend is comfortable enough with the other parents. The daycare/school is generally filled by kids of older, married couples and as a younger single mom, she’s found it difficult to build relationships with the other parents who she could ask.

      Conveniently, my friend’s relative (who is beloved by the kiddo) is retiring at the end of February and will travel to take care of the kid! My friend didn’t know about that her relative was retiring *so* soon until she talked to her mom on the phone at lunch today. Relative is excited about visiting! Kiddo will be happier.

      I’m still back up in case something comes up (like weather making it hard for relative to drive the 6 hours to here), but this seems like a win-win-win.

    7. mander*

      I don’t think it would be out of line to take the kid and a sitter, provided your friend pays for it. My sister did this a couple of times when she was nursing her kids and had to go to work conferences, except she took her husband. As long as she doesn’t bring the kid to the interview, or expect the sitter to be able to hang out in the company office with the kid, I don’t see what the issue would be.

  93. Stella Maris*

    Hello, AAM Commentariat. I’m working on a research proposal about social media and anonymity.

    I would love to hear your input – wanting to make sure I don’t miss any ‘biggies’ as I plan my survey – about:
    1) things they would not feel comfortable posting about on social media associated with their real names (e.g. mental illness issues, disability issues, sexuality, criticism of their workplace, feminism, social justice activism, politics, religion, hobbies, drinking or drug use, etc.)
    2) reasons why you wouldn’t post about those things (e.g. negative judgement or possible retribution from employer or future employer, or colleagues or future colleagues, etc., working in a school, known as a public figure, etc.)

    Your thoughts would be very much appreciated.

    1. Stella Maris*

      I should clarify – the things you wouldn’t post and the reasons aren’t the research itself – I’m just looking for examples to include in my interview questions and surveys, trying to make sure I hit as many areas as I can.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      My husband doesn’t post most of what he thinks in regards to cybersecurity/national defense/etc because he has a clearance and any particular opinion he might express could be cause for concern. So, I get to hear it all. :/

    3. DeeBee*