open thread – April 1-2, 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 :)

{ 1,304 comments… read them below }

  1. LadyLep*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for an ATS that will also keep a company OFCCP compliant? We’re a relatively small company that currently uses Taleo, but we are debating making a change due to rising costs. Thanks!!

    1. louise*

      Have you looked at ApplicantPro? I’m happy with it and the reporting features for that seem good to me, though I don’t have to use them. It’s really economical.

    2. Raspberry21*

      As an applicant,I’ve seen a lot of companies use iCims lately. I really like it because it doesn’t make me re-enter all of my information again. It also seems to be fairly customizable.

      1. Mary*

        I just want to agree with this comment. As someone with an ongoing job search, I am quite grateful for the ease of use with iCims.

    3. Bridget Banana*

      We currently use Deltek Talent – it used to be HRsmart but they acquired them last year. We like it and the reporting is really good and support is great too. I know they do a pro edition for smaller business as well.

    4. E*

      My company uses Hirebridge. It’s been easy to use and getting reports annually for Affirmative Action plans is not too difficult either. The biggest challenge is making sure dispositions of applicants is done promptly to keep records updated.

      1. Vicki*

        I’m not being mean. I enjoy watching jargon float by.

        I recall once, sitting back in a meeting in one of my first jobs (they were biologists; I was a programmer) and thinking “None of these people are speaking English.”

  2. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

    I have to let a person go today or Monday (waiting to hear back from our owner-I told him I think April 1st is a weird date to do it). Am I overlooking any options I could present to the owner? And if not, and I have to let him go, what’s the best way to word this very difficult news?

    Individual has been off a couple weeks due to a medical condition. He does not know when he’ll be able to return. He’s a low-paid laborer, but does good work and we all really like him (not that not liking him would make it okay, but you know…this just makes it even harder).

    He doesn’t qualify for FMLA. Our attorney already looked into what ADA accommodations we could provide but he isn’t able to be present at all to even put an accommodation in place–that is more than an undue hardship for us as he is a manual laborer and a basic presence is needed. We’ll happily rehire him when he can work again, but we can’t afford to pay his insurance during that unknown length of time, nor do we want to set a precedent of doing that.

    I hate that health insurance is tied to employment when he desperately needs it right now as he sees specialists to resolve this. I’ve suggested to the owner that we give him a little longer (maybe 1 week for each of the 6 months he has worked for us, for example) in hopes the drs can get him to the point of returning with accommodations. But honestly, he’s not likely to be able to return in that time frame AND we would then have a precedent that we don’t want for all first year employees.

    Am I overlooking any options I could present to the owner? And if not, and I have to let him go, what’s the best way to word this very difficult news?

    1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

      TL;DR: no FMLA, no ADA accommodations, have to let employee go right when he most needs his insurance. How do I tell him?

      1. videogamePrincess*

        Wow. That is hard. My heart goes out to you. Might you be able to start a donation towards his medical expenses, or find a charity that can help him?

        1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

          As the HR person, I’ve got to stay away from something like a formal donation opportunity, but I am looking into non-profits now to see if any can help him.

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            Assuming you are in the US…Does your state have a health insurance exchange or participate in the federal exchange?

            Please refer him to whichever agency can help him get signed up ASAP. Being out of work, he likely won’t have a cost (or it will be quite low) depending on federal vs state exchanges.

            I’m so sorry for you and for him. How horrible.

      2. Rat Racer*

        I am so sorry – that really sucks. Sometimes doing what’s right for the business is exactly the opposite of doing what’s right by your heart.

        1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

          Ain’t that the truth. I’m the lone HR person here and am frequently accused of being a bleeding heart by those above me, and a b**** by the employees. They’re both right–I am either depending on the situation.

          1. F.*

            I’m also the lone HR person, and I definitely feel your pain. Some days it is a thankless job.

      3. NJ Anon*

        Does your state have disability? He should be able to collect unemployment and possibly qualify for Medicaid. Check your state’s dept of labor website.

    2. F.*

      That IS difficult. Are you in the US? Is he eligible for COBRA? That might provide a stopgap until he can get into an ACA plan.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Also, today or Monday is much better than yesterday for this – at least in my experience, he’ll now have coverage until the end of April, which is probably going to be a huge help at least. (In, yes, a bad situation.)

        1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

          Our insurance ends on the day of termination, unfortunately.

      2. TCO*

        People wanting ACA plans should NOT sign up for COBRA. Outside of the open enrollment period, you can only sign up for a private health insurance plan via ACA if you involuntarily lose your other coverage. Voluntarily enrolling in COBRA means that you haven’t lost your current coverage, therefore making you ineligible for a subsidized private plan until COBRA expires. That would be very expensive. (The rules are different for people enrolling in Medicaid/public programs, and I think those rules vary by state.)

        OP, if he’s concerned about his insurance you should connect him to a certified insurance navigator from a local nonprofit. Your EAP might be able to help with a referral.

        1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

          I love the suggestion of finding a navigator to help him! No EAP unfortunately, but I can find him something with the googles. Thank you.

          1. Anxa*

            In my experience, the navigators are….um, extremely poorly trained. They seem to be helpful only to people who have no knowledge whatsoever about the marketplace, and can’t answer or even understand any specific questions.

          2. Packers Fan*

            Try looking for a local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). They are a great resource for people who qualify and have information on other resources in the area. Good Luck!

        2. AnonInSC*

          I was going to suggest getting him connected to a certified navigator, as well. A navigator will know this, but he should also make sure he does his best to look at the networks/providers included in any plans on health exchange. In my state there are some with very narrow networks.

      3. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

        COBRA’ing our plan is almost $500/month and won’t be an option for him.

      4. Mimmy*

        Duh…I was just about to ask why doesn’t he enroll in an ACA plan but I think you have to wait until open enrollment, which I think is usually in October?

        I think having insurance tied to employment is a laudable policy, but….yeah…that doesn’t help when you are unemployed and unable to work. Might be why ACA was enacted, but I don’t think it’s proven to be affordable.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          You don’t if you have a “qualifying life event”, and losing your previous coverage totally counts.

        2. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

          No, losing his job will qualify him to enroll outside of open enrollment, thank goodness. It’s just the money and the overwhelming thing of getting this news and trying to navigate the unknown when he is already struggling both healthwise and financially (because he never made much money and because the last couple weeks he was unable to work).

          1. F.*

            He may (and I’m no expert) be able to qualify for Medicaid and not have to pay premiums at all. He really does need to investigate his options under the ACA.

        3. Creag an Tuire*

          No, he can go on the ACA exchange outside of open enrollment if he’s undergone a “qualifying life event”, which losing employment qualifies as.

        4. Artemesia*

          If you divorce or are widowed or lose your job or your partner loses his job and insurance etc etc this allows you to get new insurance without waiting for open enrollment.

          I would be working out a deal to keep him covered until the new insurance is arranged and would actively work with a navigator to get him covered asap. There are times for mercy and I would be less concerned about precedent than being decent to a human being who has no choices through no fault of his own. I would strongly advocate for making sure he stayed covered at least through April while new insurance is put in place.

          1. The Butcher of Luverne*

            And of course, he is penalized at tax time (next year) if he goes without health insurance for even a month, so there’s that.

            1. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

              Nope, not penalized unless gap is more than 2 months. Called short coverage gap.

    3. Anne*

      Ugh, that sucks. I think all you can do is be compassionate when telling him, hopefully he’s aware of the needs of the business and understands your position. Will he have insurance through the end of the month? That will help, since it’s at the beginning of the month. Can you give him any severance pay? Maybe offer some resources to help him look for insurance?

      1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

        The plan terminates on the day of employment termination, but I’m going to look for a resource to connect him with. Severance is a dirty word here, sadly.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Severance pay? That would at least let him pay bills for a while as he recovers. Can your attorney help get information that this guy could use to get insurance on his own?

      1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

        I’m HR, so the attorney would check with me on that…I am looking into it now! Severance is out of the question, unfortunately.

        1. Cathy*

          If he has no household income, he may qualify for Medicaid. (Medicaid doesn’t count just his income, it counts the income of anyone living in his home) It’s worth a try.

          1. AnonInSC*

            Unfortunately, that will vary greatly by which state he lives in. I hope it is an option for him.

          2. OhNo*

            Technically, in most states, Medicaid actually counts the income of people in your “household”, which is different than people living in your home (e.g.: it wouldn’t count roommates or long term boy/girlfriends, but usually does count spouses, kids, and the like).

            I’m going to second it as an option, though. Hopefully he qualifies.

          3. SirTechSpec*

            Yeah, my roommate didn’t qualify for food stamps since we share groceries, but did qualify for Medicaid – it’s accounted differently.

        2. Gandalf the Nude*

          No severance at all? Could the company offer to pay even a portion of his COBRA? Not as much as they would contribute for an active employee but enough that he wouldn’t have to pay the whole thing?

    5. LawCat*

      Can you give him info on state disability benefits? Not sure if you’re in the US or what state, but he may be eligible .(I imagine he is not eligible for unemployment benefits since it sounds like he is unable to work, but disability benefits may be similar to cover inability to work due to disability. That’s the case in my state.)

    6. Mike C.*

      Wait, can’t you put him on FMLA anyway? Isn’t FMLA simply the minimum that a workplace has to do?

      1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

        You’re right. I explained that to the owner yesterday and asked if we’d like to do that and continue to pay his premiums. He said he’s not starting a precedent of paying for something he doesn’t have to. Sigh.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            To be fair, we don’t know if the business can afford to do this for everyone who ends up leaving their job, or wants to take the risk of lawsuit when to do it for Steve but not Bob. We don’t even know if they can afford it for Steve. I’m not going to fault a company for having limited $ to spend on someone who’s not providing any work, I’m going to fault a system that tells people if you can’t work, die quickly.

            1. ActualName*

              ” I’m going to fault a system that tells people if you can’t work, die quickly.”
              This 100%. My solution to this fault is a basic universal income.

              1. TootsNYC*

                Every business owner in America should be clamoring for universal health coverage. That way they don’t have to be involved, and if insurance is expensive for them, they don’t have to worry about competing with companies who can afford it, and their workers will be healthier and able to work sooner/longer.

                1. ActualName*

                  That’s a great solution as well. I also think it would combat many of the harmful views held by society about who “deserves” health care.

            2. I'm a Little Teapot*

              “If you can’t work, die quickly” is a brilliant way to sum up the American* philosophy (unless you’re over 65, because retirees are a big influential voting bloc). It’s disgusting.

              *(I am American)

            3. Ruffingit*

              I’m going to fault a system that tells people if you can’t work, die quickly.

              AMEN! This is perhaps the best, most succinct, way I’ve ever heard of summarizing the many issues in America re: employment and employment tied to health insurance.

      2. F.*

        Mike C., FMLA applies only under certain circumstances. The employee must have worked for the company for the past year, the company has to have at least 50 employees working within a 75 mile radius of the location where the requesting employee works, and there are other requirements. If this is a small company, FMLA does not apply. Besides, FMLA just guarantees the employee’s position (or a similar one) when they return to work. It does not provide for pay or benefits while they are off.

        1. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

          Right, but you can invoke it for someone who doesn’t meet the bottom threshold and treat them the same as you would someone who does if you want to. Our owner just doesn’t want to. :/ Our company does in fact continue all benefits, including paying the full insurance premium. I can’t remember what the bottom threshold of requirement is on benefits, but I don’t believe you can drop them from health insurance while on FMLA. We certainly don’t, at least.

          1. F.*

            You’re absolutely right that it can be invoked at the employer’s discretion for employees who don’t otherwise qualify, but based on your other comments, it didn’t look like your management would be receptive to that. I wonder if your management is being rather short-sighted considering the way this will look to the remaining employees.

          2. TootsNYC*

            well, you’re not really “invoking” FMLA. It’s more that you’re copying or mirroring it, voluntarily.
            The law still doesn’t apply.

      3. anonymous (and heavy hearted) today*

        To be more precise, I said “there’s no law that forces us to do anything for him, but I think it would be smart to go beyond the bare minimum of what the law allows here. I understand it will cost us, but I really hate that losing his job = losing his insurance.”

        1. orchidsandtea*

          I’m sorry. Thank you for going to bat for him, even though it didn’t work.

          If you can do the heavy lifting of finding him an insurance navigator, connecting him to local health charities, putting him in touch with a national support group for his condition (if there is one and if that feels helpful/appropriate), and assuring him that the job will be waiting for him as soon as he’s ready to return…it doesn’t make his circumstances stable, but it at least gives him a start on the path, and an anchor.

          I know you know this, but just in case it helps to hear: The problem in this situation isn’t you, and it isn’t yours to fix. It isn’t even your employer’s unwillingness to pay his benefits right now. The problem is the way the US healthcare system is set up. You can be a spot of compassion, but you can’t fix a systemic problem, and you can’t take the weight of it on your shoulders.

          1. Artemesia*

            I used to teach public policy and often our focus was on health care policy. I remember the moment each semester when our very privileged students would look puzzled and say ‘so if I get so sick I lose my job then I lose the health insurance I need because I am so sick? How does that make sense? Why do we do it that way?’

            1. Mike C.*

              Oh, that must be a magical time for you. Like when a mother bird pushes her fledgelings out of the nest to force them to fly for the first time.

          2. Anxa*

            Also, FWIW…

            Millions of Americans pay for their own insurance with 0 help from their employer or go without. I think people think that employer-based insurance is nearly ubiquitous in the US, but it’s not.

        2. OhNo*

          Well, just in case you don’t hear it from anyone at work: thank you for doing your best for this employee when he’s going through a rough time! Even if you can’t find a good solution that works for both the employee and the company, the fact that you’re trying so hard to find one says a lot.

          I think someone mentioned it above, but if nothing else maybe you can find a person or agency who can walk him through his insurance options if you have to let him go. And definitely let him know that he’s eligible for rehire, that you hope to have him come back in the future, and that if nothing else you will gladly provide an excellent reference. Honestly, even just knowing that he might have a job to come back to after everything is sorted would probably help an awful lot.

      4. HR Dave*

        Even on FMLA, he would likely be required to pay his portion of insurance premiums, which would give him the same out of pocket cost as electing COBRA coverage.

        1. Judy*

          Both times I was on FMLA and the time my husband was, we only had to pay the employee portion. The company still paid their portion. Every time I’ve received a COBRA letter, it was for an amount equal to the total payment for the employee and the employer. So coverage under FMLA has been much cheaper in my experience than COBRA. (My husband had surgery and was on FMLA about 6 months before he left a job. The employee portion while on FMLA was in the $200 per month for employee only, while the COBRA was nearly $800.)

    7. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

      Can you talk to the boss about giving him a termination date that allows him to have no gap in insurance coverage? If your state is like MA, he would need to sign up for an ACA plan and pay his premium this month (by the 15 or 23 I forget which) to have coverage start May 1. A full month of no insurance with no notice would be a really terrible thing to do to someone with known medical problems. (I am sure you know this, it sounds like your boss is the one who needs convincing …)

      1. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

        ETA: if he knows of the qualifying event in advance he should be able to sign up, I knew I was losing insurance due to changing jobs and could sign up while still covered to avoid a gap. A navigator was really helpful for this process!

    8. HR Dave*

      IF he’s been a valued employee and IF you are reasonably certain that he will return to work in the foreseeable future, can you look at the option of putting him on an unpaid leave of absence and having the company still pick up his insurance premiums? You may be able to work out an arrangement where he repays those premiums out of his paychecks once he’s back at work. Legally it’s allowed but obviously there are parity and financial issues specific to your company that you’ll need to take into account.

      1. EW*

        YES – unpaid leave is exactly what I was going to suggest. That way he’d stay on as an employee, technically, even while not actually able to work or getting paid.

    9. Chriama*

      Is there any sort of severance you can offer him? Keep him officially on the payroll with 0 hours for a few months so he at least qualifies for health insurance at the lower premiums? This really sucks and I’m sorry you have to go through this. Also, is there any worker’s comp available? Was it an injury that originated at or was exacerbated by work? I get that you might not want to get yourself into any issues with insurance. but anything you can do to soften the blow would be really compassionate.

    10. Dulcinea*

      Can you give him “two week’s notice” so he can get his ducks in a row w/r/t the insurance before you officially let him go?

    11. Rebecca*

      I know I’m really late to open thread, and this is one of the first things I read. I am curious about something. What happens if one of your employees gets up one day, their appendix bursts and they need emergency surgery, are hospitalized, and the doctor tells them they need to be off work for at least 8-12 weeks, depending on their job duties? Like, they need to have traditional abdominal surgery vs the newer scope procedure, which has a much longer recovery time? Are they terminated as well?

      Personally, I’m horrified to think that many of us are one unplanned medical emergency away from homelessness in one of the richest nations on the planet, but I guess this is the case.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Theoretically short-term or long-term disability insurance would cover this.

        Not all employers provide it, however.

  3. Sunflower*

    How do you ask people/resources about salary expectations for your field?

    I recently found out our company extended an offer to someone for a role slightly senior to me for a lot more money than I would have expected. I want to know more about average salary for my position/field(legal marketing). I like my job and am not job searching but I’m wondering if my next step should be away from event planning/legal marketing and into something else. I’m part of our local legal marketing association and have quite a few resources but have no idea how to approach this topic. I’m curious to know what salaries should look like for a few steps above me and how that compares to event planning in another field or doing something else all together.

    Also I am finding online research doesn’t help me at all. It seems like for everything I’m interested in(project management primarily), the titles, duties and salaries vary so much that it feels useless. Any specific resources or other ways people have found reliable to find salary information?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’m an event planner. When I switched jobs (and industries) last fall, I encountered the same problem as you in determining salary expectations. I tried using Glassdoor, but ran into the same problem with job titles not corresponding with the duties. (For example, at a Big 4 Firm: an event planner may be called an Associate, but the mid-level accountants are also called Associates, and I knew from past experience that the latter would be making much more money than the former.)

      The only way I was able to determine market rates was to participate in a few phone interviews and be lucky enough that the HR rep was forward about their salary range for the position. I’ll be following this thread!

    2. Mostly Lurker*

      Try looking up Event Planner on the ONET website (www.onetonlineorg); the report includes salary information that can be adjusted by your location.

    3. CM*

      Can you ask around? I’ve found that the best way to get people to discuss salaries is to avoid implying that you want to know what they personally make, but to say you’re interested in learning about the market and to share any information that you have. So, at a networking event or coffee with someone, you could say something like, “Hey, do you know how to find out about average salaries? I’ve checked resources X and Y but I didn’t find much. From what I’ve heard, the range is $$-$$$. Does that sound right to you?” Most people are very interested in sharing information about this; the ones that aren’t tend to clam up immediately with any mention of money, so you’ll know right away.

  4. Kit*

    Tips for surviving getting promoted and having to do your old job and your new job at the same time? I’m stretched pretty thin and my managers are sympathetic but they have no real timeline on when they’ll have someone able to fill my role. So tired. –_–

    1. fposte*

      Perhaps they don’t have any real timeline because it doesn’t seem like an urgent need while you’re doing it all. Can you identify old-job things to deprioritize and then let your boss know that you’re not going to get to A, B, and C for a while?

      1. neverjaunty*

        This. Your managers aren’t being stretched thin by your doing more than one job and are saving money, in their eyes, by having you do both. Unless you change that dynamic their timeline is going to be “why bother, things are working fine for us”.

      2. NarrowDoorways*

        This is what I did.

        When my last boss was fired and I was put in this place, the company labeled it “restructuring” and had no intention of filling my role.

        Basically, I prioritize. “Hey, I can’t keep up with everything. These are the things I generally don’t get to, FYI….”

        It doesn’t work 100%. Every now and then, the COO asks, “Oh, are you still doing this?? Do this more and faster an better.” So I try to adjust. Bah.

        Do your best. That’s all anyone can ask for.

      3. Artemesia*

        This. There is no reason to replace you ever if you can carry the load. A couple of sick days and then a re-prioritization are in order. WE have these 3 big deals in Newjob and these 4 things hanging in Oldjob. Which do you want me to prioritize. I won’t be able to get them all done?

        Why should anyone fix this if it doesn’t affect them? Time to offload some of Oldjobs tasks on other employees or hire a temp for everyone’s routine work while people tackle the unique stuff.

      4. Kit*

        No, I’ve spoken with them and they’ve been very clear that the hold up is that none of the guys we currently have can do it yet, and my field is of the on-the-job training sort so hiring someone who can already do it is unlikely. Some of my old duties have been shifted to a coworker, but though he’s more easily replaceable, he’s not skilled enough to take over for me. I’m also getting help with my new duties while I get up to speed. I guess I’m looking for coping mechanisms? I very much trust my managers and believe they’re doung their best to move me over.

    2. VintageCampus*

      Ugh! I’m in the exact same shoes! Except my new boss is also one of the ones continually demanding the items I use to do in my old job!

    3. Jwal*

      Is there anybody in your old department that they can delegate some of the work to?

      Otherwise it might be worth having a “I can do X and Y but not Z” conversation and see if the powers that be won’t mind if a couple of things slip here and there.

      Congrats on the promotion :)

      1. Kit*

        That’s basically where I’m at! I had another discussion with my bosses a few days ago and they told me they know things will slip a little with my foot half out the door, but there’s no one in the department who can do what I did yet.

        And thanks!

    4. F.*

      Been there, done that, damn near killed me! Be sure to communicate frequently with your managers about everything that you are getting done and everything that is being postponed/falling through the cracks. Productivity and accuracy suffer the longer you work at top capacity. Don’t make the mistake that I did and forgo taking much needed time off. Nothing will get done if you are burnt out or become ill. If you are exempt, I hope you got enough of a raise to cover the additional hours you must be working.

    5. Lillian McGee*

      I was in this position too. I straight-up told people in the old department “I’m not going to be able to do x, y and z anymore, so let me show you how to do those things.” or “This is going to be yours from now on. I can answer questions if you get stuck, but I need to focus on my new duties.”

    6. KiteFlier*

      This happened to me last year and I’m still doing double-duty. Being able to delegate whatever small tasks you can really helps, as well as doing those smaller administrative tasks in advance if any downtime occurs.

      Talk to your boss about what tasks/projects have the highest priorities and warn them that other things might fall behind and ask what they suggest you do. Hopefully they are understanding!

    7. No Longer Just a Lurker*

      This situation is why I left my last job. Got promoted within the same group and after 18 months of 60+ weeks onsite plus working at home nights and weekend for peanuts they still hadn’t backfilled the old position. My boss was great about pushing and prodding the higher ups but we always got a bunch of BS back about determining if that was really a necessary job anymore or potential hiring freezes etc… I found a job in less than a month and my boss and I turned in our notices a day apart. They had the gall to ask what they could do to keep me and then looked at me like I was demented when I laughed in their faces. I’m pretty sure I burned a bridge when I got called into the VP’s office for their 3rd attempt at keeping me and showed him proof that he has been lying to our entire department. Meeting ended quite quickly after that.

      Do what everyone else is suggesting and prioritize and clearly tell the overlords what you cannot get done. When they come back with “but we really need that” say ok…which of these items would you like me to stop doing?
      WHEN they say we need all of them ask who will do it because you are maxed out – you need to set firm limits. If you normally worked 40-45 hours a week it is normal, expected etc…to work 50 hours or more during the transition. Commit (and communicate) to spending X hours/week on NewJob while continuing 10-15/hours on OldJob for 8 weeks. After that all of your focus needs to be on NewJob because (and this is where I got royally screwed) your annual review will be 100% on NewJob duties. I was still spending so much time on OldJob (had to as I needed those tasks done in order to do NewJob) that I had not achieved/completed any of my NewJob goals and got no merit as a result. It didn’t matter that the reason was because I couldn’t do my job without OldJob being done (think teapot painter needs someone to make said teapot before they can paint it – all of my time was making the teapot so all of the teapot were plain white instead of having floral designs).
      Hopefully NewJob for you does not rely on OldJob getting done. For the record they had to hire 3 people to perform those functions that I was doing. When I left I got a 20% pay increase and 50% decrease in hours.

      1. Kit*

        Oh gosh that sounds horrible. Luckily my new job does not rely on my old job, but unfortunately my old job is in essence the head of a department and my new job is one piece of a larger department (I’ll be in charge of less but it’ll count for more), so I’m struggling right now with leaving things undone in Old Job so I can get to New Job. It doesn’t help that one of my guys in Old Job is a bit self-important and resents having my work on his plate, especially when it’s lower priority stuff that nevertheless must get done. I trust my bosses, so I think my problem right now is really being a control freak and a people pleaser who wants everything done my way and everyone to be happy with me.

  5. Rat Racer*

    I am just coming here to say that I am so overwhelmed with the 20,000 things on my plate that I am in deer in headlights mode. I look at my to-do list and my eyes glaze over – so what am I doing? Going to AAM to sing my sad song and postpone reality for another 5 minutes or so. (singing) Oh woe is me…

    1. Persephone*

      I’m the same way. It’s hard for me to focus when I have so much going on. I’ll work on something for five minutes, then switch to something else, then something else, then check out AAM… I’ll buckle down and prioritize and focus for one day, then the next it’s back to the same unfocused haze.

    2. Sadsack*

      Take a deep breath and do one thing at a time! I have to frequently remind myself to stay calm and work on one thing at a time. Multitasking is necessary sometimes, but trying to work on many projects at once causes me to overlook important details and make errors. That is bad. Sometimes it is necessary to decide to look at only one thing for the next hour or even quarter hour and ignore everything else, including the phone and email. Good luck!

    3. neverjaunty*

      Stolen from Captain Awkward: don’t try to get everything done, just try to make the task smaller. Chip away at it and don’t beat yourself up that you can’t get it all done. You just need there to be less of it.

      1. Rat Racer*

        It’s death by 1,000 cuts today, rather than any one big task. Really, alls I need is a little discipline and another cup of coffee, but (#whining) it’s Friday and I’m tired.

    4. FelineFine*

      I’m sorry that you’re in this situation, but happy that I’m in good company. I’m thinking of blocking off a couple of half days to work away from the office (where I won’t be constantly interrupted).

  6. videogamePrincess*

    Which is more important, the title, or the work? I’m interviewing for a position called “data analyst” with an economics firm, which if I took (assuming, of course, I get it) would mean I operated in a very clear-cut role in what seems like a stagnant industry. On the other hand I could hold out and wait for a job which lacks the title but allows me to learn new coding skills. I’m posting this now because if I got a job offer I might have to make a choice before the next Friday open thread.

    1. VintageCampus*

      I think you are pigeon holing the “stagnant” job a bit. I have been I a variety of analyst roles that allowed me to learn coding, process improvement and more!

      1. videogamePrincess*

        Thank you, that is very helpful, but they already stated that they were one of the largest companies in their niche (at <50 employees!) and had no room for growth. They also said very clearly that there was little coding at all, and that everything you needed to do you could do in a spreadsheet.

        1. CM*

          Don’t take this job if there’s no coding and you want to do coding.
          I think most employers understand that titles mean different things at different places, so I wouldn’t focus on that too much. It sounds like you won’t be happy at this job and won’t have opportunities to pick up the skills you’re interested in.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            This. You already sound less than thrilled with the possibility of the role, so if you don’t absolutely need the job (e.g. you’re about to become homeless), I think you should pass. Hold out for something that interests you.

    2. Rat Racer*

      What do you mean by title exactly? Is the title at the job you might hold out for less prestigious than “Data Analyst?” Or is it just less specific? Speaking as someone who works in an organization with severe title inflation (everybody and their pet goldfish is a director), I can tell you that the bullets below the title on your resume are more important than the title itself. I would not recommend making your title the deciding factor between two opportunities.

      1. videogamePrincess*

        The point is that I want to get into data analytics or data science in the long run, and having the title “data analyst” in my resume might stand out to recruiters and companies.

        1. F.*

          Just having the title is not enough to impress a hiring manager unless you have experience to support it. IMHO, it sounds like this position may not be a good fit for your future ambitions.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I agree–because I think hiring managers understand that titles are different; they’re going to look at experience.

        2. Rat Racer*

          What would the alternative title be? And would you get the same kind of data analytics/data science experience under option b? If so, don’t worry about the title. If your conundrum is “Take boring job as entry into promising field vs. Take exciting job that isn’t in the direction you’re seeking” that is a toughie. I say that as someone who has worn lots of different hats and moved in all kinds of crazy directions but found that some of the more random jobs I had early in my career continue to pay dividends today.

          I’d recommend using a combination of company culture, salary/benefits, learning opportunity, logistics (i.e. commute) and overall gut feeling to make your choice.

          1. videogamePrincess*

            I do think that is it as well. It’s hard for college students to get data analyst roles, at least from a quick search on Indeed and Dice. All the positions advertised are “senior data analyst”, and seem to require 3-10 years of experience and a PhD. I will have to get that PhD at some point, but right now it’s not feasible, so that limits my opportunities.

        3. Creag an Tuire*

          From my experience, different employers use the title “data analyst” to mean anything from independent researcher to data entry monkey. I suspect most other employers know this, and your title won’t help you if you don’t have the accomplishments to back it up, which it sounds like this company won’t let you get (props to them for honesty). I wouldn’t take it if you’re in a financial position to turn down the job.

      2. Rabbit*

        Depends on the industry and manager unfortunately. In my experience at least, I have had some interviewers tell me that because my title is “assistant,” I don’t have skills X, Y, and Z, even though I’ve been doing the bigger job for a few years (just without the title). :C (And yes it’s all spelled out in my resume. Oh well!)

    3. Sunflower*

      Job title is something you may be able to negotiate. I don’t know much about your field but if the job that lets you learn new coding skills is a smaller company, negotiating it to data analyst or whatever you want might be an option.

      I would not let the job title be the determiner of what job you took. I would focus on what’s more important to you. If you want a job where you’re learning new coding skills, then take the second job. Everything you’re doing will still be on your resume.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      It may depend on your industry, but in my experience it’s been more about the work. It’s highly embarrassing when you are job searching with highly-inflated job titles on your résumé that, when you get presssed, you honestly can’t say matched your day-to-day responsibilities.

      Also, the times I’ve been in a hiring position, I always look at the bullet points on a résumé more than I look at the job title.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      I think the work is more important. I wouldn’t care if my title was something awful like “Office Loser” as long as I was paid well and liked what I was doing every day.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          Related to that, I think Allison has a template for how to write the resume to reflect your actual job duties, something like “Office Loser (Data Analyst)”, right? It’s necessary for those companies that insist on being Cool and have titles like “Senior Happiness Officer” and “PHP Love Doctor”.

    6. StellsBells*

      I’m going to agree with the above that the work is more important than the title. I’m in data analytics now, but started in recruiting and HR. I got my first analyst job not because I had the title, but because in my previous roles I was doing analytics as a part of my other HR/Recruiting duties.

      Then again, recruiting analytics is a fairly new field and there aren’t very many of us that specialize in it.

      A comment you mentioned earlier makes it sound like you’re still in school, is that the case?

      1. videogamePrincess*

        No, I just graduated last May. My tech skills aren’t really great right now either, because I majored in economics. Waiting for another position might be a gamble.

      2. Natasha*

        My title is Database Analyst, and I do 50/50 coding/spreadsheet tasks at a smaller company. The way I got the job was by teaching myself coding and database management skills in an unrelated sales job, and putting those bullet points on my resume, as people have already said. I would add that chances are there is room for automation of the spreadsheets, likely with VBA or maybe even Python.

  7. anonanonanon*

    Some office fashion questions:

    1. Does anyone think it’s weird if most of the office dresses casually (jeans, etc.) and one or two people dress up a little more? Like wearing dresses or skirts every day instead of jeans and a t-shirt. I’m more comfortable in a dress than jeans, but a friend insists this is weird and I should dress in jeans to fit with the culture. No one has said anything about my clothes other than they like the color or the dress, so I don’t really think it’s a culture fit issue, but I maybe I’m not seeing it from the other side?

    2. Is brightly colored or non-traditional nail polish still taboo in casual office environments? I wouldn’t wear neon yellow or mint green or other crazy colors when going on a job interview, but I don’t think it’s unprofessional to have nails painted something other than coral or pale pink during a normal work day. I have one coworker who thinks it makes women over 25 look juvenile and unprofessional. I could understand not wanting crazy nail colors in certain industries, but aside from that I kind of loop it in with non-traditional hair colors. If there’s no rule about not wearing it, it’s a use your best judgment type of thing.

    1. Jubilance*

      1 – I don’t think it’s weird and it wouldn’t be weird in my office. We have a business casual dress code, but there are few folks who like being dressier, or guys who do “Tie Tuesday” and dress up a bit more on Tuesday. If you’re comfortable in dresses, I say go for it.

      2 – Once again, this isn’t an issue in my office. I’m currently wearing bright blue nail polish, the week before it was two-tone mint and lavender. I’ve worn every color nail polish here and the only comments I get are “ooh your nails are so cute!”.

      1. Sadsack*

        Agree to both. I am in my forties in a bus casual office and wear some bright nail colors. I keep my nails short, so it doesn’t seem as distracting as it would if they were very long, at least to me.

      2. NarrowDoorways*

        I looked down at my hands and remembered I just painted them a BRIGHT blue with 2 nails absolutely covered in glitter polish. I dunno it it would work for all offices, but in mine, I either get no comments or compliments.

      3. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        I’m the person who dresses up in my office :)

        It’s a combination of comfort, what I already own, and job function. No one even thinks about it.

      4. Mabel*

        I’m a dresser upper, too. I like dressing up, and I’m always more dressed up than just about everyone else in almost any situation, and I’m fine with that. Also, I lived in NYC for 20 years, and people tend to be a little more dressy there. My nails are currently very sparkly pale pink, but they’re short, and I don’t think anyone notices the polish. I don’t think I would wear green or blue nail polish to the office, but that’s just my current preference (I did wear both of those colors at work when I was younger). If I saw non-traditional nail colors on someone else, I don’t think I’d give it a second thought (except to think to myself that I like how it looks). I know we don’t yet live in a world/culture where what you do is more important than how you look, but I’m hopeful.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Agreed. Plus, if it’s jeans casual, that to me is a signal that your office won’t care about nail polish.

    2. Kyrielle*

      1. I don’t, but then, I tend to always wear slacks and often a business-casual shirt, so I’m inclined to want to think it’s okay/normal. :) Honestly, though, as long as you’re not in a super-formal outfit (business suit, say), I wouldn’t think it was that odd.

      2. Depends on the office. Your coworker would be appalled by the nail wraps I sometimes wear, which are definitely not office-professional. (Espionage Cosmetics – pretty sure nebula, cherry blossoms, cats, or heavens, circuit boards would make your coworker look at me oddly. I love them, and I don’t see clients, and my coworkers and boss are unlikely to think anything of them.)

      1. anonanonanon*

        I’m kind of taking the nail polish comment with a grain of salt since it’s from a male coworker who is….picky about appearances. I was just wondering if it was just him or if other offices had issues with that now, since I thought we were waaaaay past nail polish issues in the workplace.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Most of my male coworkers don’t *notice* my nail polish. I think they might if I put the circuit boards on, because of the industry we’re in, but that’s about it.

          Pretty much any solid color is fine, as far as I know. In casual offices, I’d expect most patterns to be fine. I do think the ‘blood of your enemies’ Halloween ones that make it look like you’ve been scratching something and have bloody fingernails would be reasonably considered inappropriate in the workplace, but short of that sort of thing….

        1. Kyrielle*

          *grins* I love the EC wraps. They’re basically stickers, much easier to deal with than some other wraps I’ve tried. I have weak nails, so I do put a base coat on first (but otherwise it’s not even necessary). I can usually get a week without touch-ups, maybe two with, so it’s imperfect given the price. But the designs are awesome. (I don’t love all of them, but that’s a given; there are so many designs and I’m sure other people love ones I don’t!)

            1. Kyrielle*

              They do! I keep my nails short, I just apply them (they also work on hugely long nails) as instructed, fold over, file off, and they look great. There’s more awesome design that doesn’t fit on my nails, of course, but what does go on looks great as-is.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            My co-workers are always showing of their Jamberry nails. I haven’t heard of the EC ones before (I think ‘Erin Condren’ when I type ‘EC’), but they sound really cool.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Jamberry nails are gorgeous, but they’re so not worth the effort for me. Espionage Cosmetics nails don’t need any heat to apply. (They also need a top-coat if you want them to last more than 2-3 days, because they are just a sticker, but they’re up-front about that, and applying a top coat is a lot simpler for me than fiddling with a source of heat and trying to flex the Jamberry ones on. I know people who find doing that no big deal, though – just different tastes/approaches.)

              They are cool, and there are a lot of different patterns. They are explicitly geeky, but some of the geeky ones just look like fancy shiny nails on – they’re color themed to comics or something but they’re just sparkly colorful nails. (Others, like the cats or circuit boards, not so much.)

    3. Ad Girl*

      To #1 – My office is casual, like yours. I really think it just depends on the person and your preferences. Most people choose to dress casual (jeans, etc.), unless they have a client-facing meeting, but there are some people that choose to dress up every day and wear dresses, heels, skirts, etc. If the only comments you are receiving is compliments and nothing about it being too casual, I wouldn’t worry about it!

    4. Florida*

      I think it depends on how much dressier you are than the rest. If everyone wears jeans, and you wear a casual-type skirt/dress, I wouldn’t think much of it. If you wore a business suit, that’s a little much. For men, if everyone wore jeans, and you wore pants and a nice shirt or jeans and a jacket, no problem. If you wore a suit with matching tie and handkerchief, I’d think you were out of touch with the culture.
      Sometimes offices are pretty casual except if you have an outside meeting with a client or something like that. In office like that, there is often one person on any given day who is dress nicer and everyone assume they have an outside meeting.

      1. Anne*

        I agree with this. I would keep it to more casual dresses/skirts, and I think it would be fine.

      2. anonanonanon*

        Mostly I’m wearing a dress with tights and boots/heels/flats. They’re more casual dresses than formal business dresses. It’s the same type of clothing I’d wear to meet friends for dinner or brunch or to go to the movies.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Then you’re fine. I work in exactly that kind of office, where there are a couple of people who wear casual dresses or nicer outfits and go above and beyond the normal jeans mode of the rest of us. It’s truly a non-issue that Jane likes to dress up a little. Also, the person who has issues with nail polish is a big bag of dumb (and I say this as somebody whose nail polish is extremely conservative).

          The only time this might be weird is if you’re normally a jeans and casual top kind of person and suddenly you change your style.

          1. TootsNYC*

            And it might be a good idea to at the very least dress up every couple of weeks, so if you get a job interview, you don’t have to worry about people getting suspicious.

        2. Observer*

          Your friend is really off base. As others have noted, if you were doing the whole formal suit thing, that would be weird. But dress and boots that you could go to grab brunch? That sounds like her hang up.

          I’d be pretty conservative with nail polish, but I think your co-worker is also a bit over the top.

        3. FTW*

          I’ve found that men read dresses and skirts as ‘dressed up’ vs pants, whereas women don’t make that distinction. Casual dress serms to equal business formal dress for a lot of men, although I definitely percieve these dresses differently.
          I love wearing dresses, but will wear pants if I want to look less formal.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I think even women think of dressed as “dressed up,” despite our first-hand knowledge that dresses are one piece and easier.

    5. ThatGirl*

      re 1: We have jeans Fridays, where you see a lot of people in jeans and sometimes sneakers, t-shirts, etc but you will still see people in suits or dressier clothes – I usually assume they have client meetings or something, but you do you. I love jeans, personally, but my clothing choices do not have to be yours!

      re 2: I work in a fairly corporate environment, I’m 35, and my nails are currently light blue. I own a huge range of colors and wear them all, from blues and grays to neon orange. Who cares what one co-worker thinks, as long as they’re trimmed and neat.

    6. NGL*

      1. I often dress a little fancier than the rest of my office, because like you I’m more comfortable in dresses. When I still want to be casual but in a dress, I wear jersey/knit dresses – they’re like long, tailored T-shirts! I’ve never had a problem.

      2. If the nail polish is being worn in the same office where everyone wears jeans, I think you’d be okay. I also like to have brightly colored nails (I’m a nail biter, so keeping my nails painted helps me void the worst of the biting), and the only time I felt self-conscious was when I was in a meeting with a higher up who I knew had some outdated opinions on how women in the office “should” dress (she never said it publicly, but it was an open secret that she preferred to work with women who showed up in dresses and makeup). The day I had bright blue nails I kept my hands folded in my lap during the entire meeting and made sure I had a softer color on the next time I had a meeting scheduled.

    7. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I find your questions interestingly at odds with each other! It feels like someone (or several someones) have very narrow rules for what’s “right”.

      I think as long as your dresses/skirts are pretty casual there shouldn’t be an issue. Queen Elizabeth tweed suits would stand out. Unfortunate possible exception: if you’re in a male-dominated industry like tech, in some offices wearing traditionally feminine clothing could be a disadvantage and could make some make coworkers write you off as “less serious”. I HATE THAT I HAD TO WRITE THAT. Even so, if encourage you to keep being you unless you think that your office is one of the more misogynistic ones.

      If you’re in an environment where people mostly wear jeans, it seems very very strange that anyone would have an issue with sky blue or mint green fingernails.

      1. anonanonanon*

        It’s definitely a female dominated industry! I mean, I think it’s great that I work somewhere where women don’t feel the need to wear skirts and dresses, but I never thought too much about it until a coworker I’m friendly with made a joke about how she wished she had the desire to put more effort into her clothes in the morning – which is ironic since I mostly wear dresses since it’s one piece of clothing and it means I don’t really have to color coordinate with much else aside from shoes.

        1. Rocky*

          I’ve gotten a lot of comments like this. I dress up a little more than average. No reason, I just like to. One time a co-worker said, “You’re trying to make us feel bad by dressing so nice!” That was pretty weird. I put it in the same category of backhanded compliment as, “You’re so thin, I hate you!” or, “You’re lucky you can afford to retire!” Not necessarily meant to be nasty, but really awkward and reflects more on the person making the comment.

        2. SMGW*

          “…which is ironic since I mostly wear dresses since it’s one piece of clothing and it means I don’t really have to color coordinate with much else aside from shoes.”

          Totally agree! My standard office attire is nice dress, cardigan or blazer, and heels. It’s like a uniform. All I need to do is pick some accessories and go. I’m so lazy, it’s great.

          1. Anomanom*

            I can’t even be bothered to figure out matching cardigans/blazers. I just refuse to buy dresses without sleeves :) I get the same comments, and truly, its a case of this is the easiest for me. I have like 15 or so dresses in rotation, and can shop completely online for them because the fit is so much more forgiving on those of us with curvier body types than pants will ever be. It’s totally my uniform, and I’m totally okay with it.

            1. TootsNYC*

              Actually, I find that dresses are MUCH harder to get to fit me properly.

              Because there is the top, and the bottom. And trying to get one garment that’s going to fit both of those at once is not possible.
              Also, getting something that fits properly in terms of height is much harder with a dress as well; two pieces are far more adjustable that way.

            2. anonanonanon*

              Yes, this is exactly why I prefer dresses. Having a smaller waist than hips or bust, it’s really hard for me to find shirts that fit well. Most of them tend to make me look boxy and it’s so much easier to just pick out a dress that’s designed for my body shape.

              1. Guinness*

                +1 pants are my kryptonite. I have a small waist but giant hips and long legs and it’s just impossible. Dresses with full skirts are the best.

      2. Tau*

        Unfortunate possible exception: if you’re in a male-dominated industry like tech, in some offices wearing traditionally feminine clothing could be a disadvantage and could make some make coworkers write you off as “less serious”. I HATE THAT I HAD TO WRITE THAT.

        I’m glad you wrote it because I was thinking I might have to. /o\ I have seen this dynamic a LOT in male-dominated areas and it sucks and I wish it didn’t exist. Luckily for me, I’m not much one for particularly feminine wear anyway.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          If it were me, other factors would then play into my decisions about how to dress. If I were entry-level, I might play it safe and dress like the crowd a bit more. Once I established a reputation as someone smart, capable, and reliable, though, I’d drift more towards my own personal preferences. Then I’d be (hopefully) combatting the stereotype with my existence: “Hm, Elizabeth is a fantastic programmer and also wears skirts. Maybe those two things actually aren’t correlated.”

          1. AnonAcademic*

            I have basically taken this approach! I am in an area of the sciences that is male dominated and have always dressed however I wanted. I noticed at some point after I got my MA but before my PhD that dressing in my preferred 50s-inspired style helped students find me more accessible, and during talks it created an amusing dissonance for some audience members when the lady in a dress and heels starts talking about algorithms! I think my appearance helps disarm people and maybe slightly underestimate me which I totally use to my advantage – makes it easier to clobber mansplainers with my stats knowledge ;).

          2. ScarletInTheLibrary*

            My workplace approved jean Friday (with some exceptions that are reasonable). I still “dress-up,” because maybe one pair of jeans meet all of the requirements (I have a lot of fashion jeans or they have been abused in the years I’ve had them). My wardrobe has diversified over the years, but I would have to make an effort to buy clothes so I fit in on jean Friday. For many, buying clothes to dressdown is not a purchasing priority. Especially if one’s industry is all over the map.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      1. Nope. That’s what it’s like here–most people wear jeans, and we have a few who like to dress nicely every day. I even dress up a little bit now and then (mostly my shirt and nicer shoes; I’m always in jeans, LOL).

      2. Your coworker is silly. Wear whatever nail colors you like, if your dress code doesn’t prohibit it.

    9. AnonymousNE*

      1) I think you should wear what you want. I used to teach in a pretty casual academic department and I definitely dressed less casually (i.e. Jacket and heels with jeans or a dress and flats) than my counterparts/superiors. The only negative impact was that people would comment on my appearance, which I found annoying.
      2) In just about every workplace (except the most formal) I think any color of nail polish is acceptable as long as you keep your nails short and maintain the polish. Crazy long neon nails are likely to raise eyebrows just about anywhere and chips just look sloppy. However, I work in state government and I’ve seen both of those things at work. Makes me wonder how they type!

      1. Payroll Lady*

        My nails have always been long (I can’t do anything if I cut them real short since they are pretty much an extension of my fingers!) I currently work for a construction company, so jeans, t-shirt and my nails are no an issue. I have also worked in large corporations as management and always had my nails funky. Airbrushed for holidays, outrageous colors.. no one ever questioned me and most comments were.. “how cool” they were~!

        1. Amy UK*

          I think there’s a mismatch there between yours and AnonymousNE’s definition of ‘long’. I assumed A-NE was talking about the really long, acrylic -type extensions some people have. The ones where you wonder how they wipe their butts or not have gashes across their face from scratching an itch.

          If your nails are the kind of long that comes naturally (or your extensions are a length that could be natural), I’m sure you wouldn’t attract anyone’s attention except for with the awesome colours!

    10. F.*

      I don’t do my nails, so I can’t speak to that, but I do love to wear skirts and dresses and am very much looking forward to warmer weather so I can do so. I work in an office where most of the men wear jeans and t-shirts every day. We three women wear slacks (or nice jeans on Friday) and tops or sweaters. I’ve never seen the other two women in skirts, but that is just their personal preference.

    11. non bluejean person*

      It is not weird not to wear blue jeans to work. I can wear blue jeans to work, but I do not. I own one pair of blue sometimes they fit and sometimes they do not fit. In the morning, I do not want to deal with is my blue going to fit today. The weird thing is that my khaki pants which is the same size (a 29 waist) always fits me.

    12. AdAgencyChick*

      Both of these would be fine in my world. Nearly everyone wears T-shirts and jeans to work (unless a client is in), but there are a few people who like to dress up a bit more. We’d all look askance at someone who wore a suit every day, but coming in wearing something a little more business-casual every day wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. (It’s when the jeans-and-sneakers type suddenly wears a pressed shirt and khakis, though, that we know you’re interviewing — so consistency matters!)

      And I’ve seen every color of nail polish in the rainbow here.

    13. NarrowDoorways*

      I’m generally one of the few people in my office that always wears jewelry and dresses/skirts. Most everyone is t-shirts or button ups, with jeans.

      Today, I wore a more casual black shirt with a zip up hoodie and jeans. People were shocked. My level of dress, while nicer than others, had become something of a norm and I didn’t necessarily stand out in a negative way. The change to casual, even for a day, was more surprising.

        1. surprised*

          Wow really? That seems pretty rude of them to do (unless you guys have that kind of rapport where it wouldn’t be weird)

    14. Tris Prior*

      I think both are fine in most casual offices. I usually prefer dresses/skirts over jeans, but I’ve been wearing jeans to work all winter because it’s been cold. Now that it’s warmed up a bit I’m often switching to skirts. And I did feel a little weird about it at first because everyone is SUPER casual here and they’d only seen me in jeans (I am relatively new here). I do usually pair the skirts with a more casual top so that I don’t feel like I’ll be suspected of interviewing.

      I am {cough} significantly older than 25 and my nails are often mint green, bright blue, black, or sparkly. No one has ever noticed this as far as I am aware.

    15. Julia*

      Re: nails, I think you can get away with a wide range of colors as long as they’re maintained. I work in a professional services firm, and I go the gel route for this reason – they’re always shiny and chip-free. In the past few months, I’ve gone ultra dark green (nearly black), red with gold glitter topcoat (for the holidays), black with glitter (for New Years’), coral, red, and light green, and haven’t gotten any comments. Of course, if I were going to court, or anything particularly formal, I would probably go a neutral route.

      In my experience, though, red is always appropriate.

      1. The Butcher of Luverne*

        OMG gel polish is the bomb diggety.

        Old way: four days, tops.
        Gel: up to three weeks. Totally worth it.

      2. FTW*

        I always say that you get to cheat the professional dress code in one way… nails, OR interesting shoes, OR sweaters that are a little to casual, etc … but not more than one at the same time.

    16. Lady Kelvin*

      They say dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. Anyways, I work in a super casual field and when I started attending these important international meetings I worried alot about dress. I went with buisness casual with dress pants and short sleeved tops or comfortable dresses. Everyone else is in shorts, t-shirts, etc. Now, I make it a point to dress nicer for these meetings just because I can and I get noticed (I’m a young woman in an old man dominated field, so this is important to me). In fact, the head of our delegation told me once that I was the best dressed person in the room. It was a compliment for sure, and I’ve never had any other comments about my dress except positive ones, so I’d say not to worry.

    17. Calacademic*

      I have totally been the person judging you* if you consistently dressed in a skirt and worked with me (I’m a woman). In my defense, I’ve only worked in academic labs where everyone wears ratty jeans and t-shirts and where there are legitimate safety concerns about shorts/skirts. I always said that the day I wore a skirt to work would naturally be the day my $5M machine breaks — Murphy’s law, etc.

      Which is to say, if there isn’t a safety concern, people shouldn’t care.

      *there was this post-doc…

      1. Liana*

        Please don’t be that person anymore. That’s really not fair. If there are legitimate safety concerns, and someone who reports to you comes in wearing one, then please raise it as a performance issue – not as a “judgment”one.

        Women’s professional clothing is such a complex topic, and in a lot of cases it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. We get enough flak from men who feel the need to comment on what we wear, we don’t need it from other women as well.

        1. Anxa*

          Yep. I have seen men wore shorts in a lab to no criticism, and women be chastised to wearing a fitted dress or skirt (neither body con nor flowy).

          I’ve been tempted to wear dresses in labs because it can be SO HARD to find shoes that actually cover your feet that aren’t canvas…so I live in tall boots in the winter. It would nice to wear something other than jeans tucked into them once in a while.

          1. Ultraviolet*

            Yeah, I’ve heard plenty of men commenting on whether a given woman’s outfit was appropriate for the lab. But the only time I’ve ever seen someone’s clothes actually cause a problem, it was a guy whose baggy sweatshirt was getting in the way.

            This brings to mind the time I discovered that labmates were trying to do certain tasks without me because they assumed I wouldn’t want to risk messing up my “nice clothes.”

            1. Anxa*


              I wear my ‘nice’ clothes in lab all of the time! They often have a tiny stain somewhere that renders them inappropriate for actual nice occasions, but aren’t obvious enough to make them noticeable.

              I am actually pretty passionate about workable health and safety policies. In an academic lab, compliance is incredibly difficult as it is. And sometimes for good reason. I avoid the communal lab coats because I’ve never seen them washed. Maybe my long sleeve shirt is better than putting a contaminated coat on y bare skin. And they’re always far too big, so I avoid them when possible, as I’m more likely to spill when I have too much fabric hanging from my arms. I considered bringing one from home, but I couldn’t get a straight answer about where I could store it.

                1. Anxa*

                  Oh, they do get washed, but there’s never any clues as to whether they were or not. There’s no ‘contaminated’ section or section for freshly laundered ones, and undergrad researchers don’t get their own.

              1. Ultraviolet*

                I’d rather wear clothes I like every day and risk them getting damaged occasionally than just wear stuff I don’t like! (I rarely work with things that are likely to stain clothing though, which probably influences that opinion.)

                It’s nice to hear from someone who’s interested in practical health and safety policies! I wish more people were.

          2. TL -*

            I wouldn’t do it in a chem lab, probably, but I’ve always been able to wear skirts + tights in my labs. (Knee length ish ones).

            But if canvas shoes are a concern, then this probably won’t fly either.

            1. Anxa*

              FWIW, nearly everyone wears canvas or mesh (athletic) shoes. I personally am not a fan of wearing them in labs. I’d rather wear tights with solid shoes than jeans with canvas shoes.

              1. TL -*

                Yeah I’ve never heard of a lab where that’s not allowed but I figured weird things happen in chem labs.
                Also, your undergrads should talk to your PI about getting their own lab coats. (And putting a piece of tape with their name on it.) If they’re in the lab, they need them.

    18. Rat in the Sugar*

      RE:nails, nail art is a hobby of mine, so I have all kinds of patterns and glitter and rhinestones on my nails all the time. I follow a few rules for my biz-cas office: no little pictures, no neon, no rainbows, and all nails must match unless you do just one accent nail or have an alternating pattern (so none of those crazy ones where every nail is different). So far I’ve had nothing but compliments, and my boss says I’ll have to paint hers sometime!

      Of course, if I were in a more formal office or meeting with clients (I’m an accountant so a client meeting is usually a formal thing) I would take extra steps to ensure the colors I wore were more muted (and mint green IS a muted color! It’s pastel!) and that any patterns I had were painted exceptionally neatly and were more conservative. Of course, different patterns can have different effects–my family agrees that the white and gold I chose for the triple-scale gradient I’m wearing this week (DRAGON SCALE NAILS FTW) was much more “quiet” and tasteful than the bright, sparkly purple and red that was in the original tutorial.

      If you’re talking about just painting solid colors, I imagine you’ll be fine with anything that’s not too neon as long as your office isn’t super formal.

    19. Faith*

      I’m a pencil skirt or a sheath dress kind of woman, so I tend to stick to those even when everyone else around me wears polos and khakis. I used to work for a company that initially had very conservative dress code (think suit and tie for men and pantyhose and skirts only for women). Then, after a couple of mergers, they went full-on casual (think jeans every day and god knows what when you are working nights or weekends). One of the guys in my group was so old school, that his version of “casual” just meant he did not wear his suit jacket (but pressed slacks and tie were non-negotiable). So, he really appreciated it when I would show up in a button-down blouse, a pencil skirt, and conservative black pumps. Made him feel less like a stick in the mud.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Plus, you’ve got those clothes in your closet already, when -would- you get to wear them, if you didn’t wear them to work?

        In college, I had that reaction once, looking at my closet–these nice outfits, just hanging there. So I wore a blouse and skirt. And got the “what are you dressed up for?” reaction. Which annoyed me, so I said, “It’s Monday.” Oh, do you always dress up on Monday? the person asked. “Yes.” And from then until the end of my college career, I did. Every Monday.
        It became My Thing, and no one ever commented on it.

    20. Lily in NYC*

      I work in a very conservative office and lots of people here have funky nails. I know people get away with more (fashion-wise) here in NYC, but I think it’s fine pretty much anywhere. I’d rather see bright nails than long talons. Super-long nails creep me out for some reason and I always wonder how people type with them.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Yeah, I can’t type – or really do much else – if my nails stick out beyond my fingers. I don’t know how other people do it. I once met a woman who owned a small farm – yes, a small owner-operated farm – and had long perfect manicured and polished nails. It boggled my mind.

        1. ThatGirl*

          My nails are not super long, but they extend slightly beyond my fingertips because that’s what’s comfortable for me (the little whites go that far!)

          I type partly with my fingertips and partly with my actual nails – it’s not uncomfortable, it’s just normal for me.

      2. Lady Kelvin*

        I have long (natural) nails that I don’t paint only because I hate when they chip, which inevitably happens 6.3 seconds after I paint them, but I can’t understand how people survive without nails. I use mine for everything. I also use the pads of my fingers for typing, not the tips, so that’s how we do it. :)

        1. Talvi*

          This. (I also have long natural nails, except when they break.) The only time I type with my fingernails is the teeny-tiny keys on my phone’s keyboard (sending texts on my phone becomes very, very frustrating when I’ve broken a thumbnail!) That said, the letter “A” on my laptop keyboard always ends up worn off because my fingernails inevitably hit it in just such a way that it chips away at the letter…

    21. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

      I am this person! And it has always been fine. I finally settled into a personal style that makes me happy. I’ve had some more formal work environments where I fit right in. But my last position (there for 2 years) I was noticeably dressier. I didn’t mind, and if anybody ever commented it was to say something positive (interestingly, most of those comments came from students, not colleagues!).

    22. Steph*

      1. Wear what makes you feel good

      2. I work in a fairly formal office (university fundraising… have to look presentable to meet with donors/deans/chancellors) and we all wear whatever nail color we want. My director wears bright orange-y red as her signature color. I am currently rocking a dark purple. As long as your polish isn’t chipped and your fingernails aren’t talon like, I don’t think it matters.

    23. FelineFine*

      #1 – As a manager I love seeing employees dress above the dress code.
      #2 – as a 40-something who wears nail wraps, the only comments I hear are “let me see what’s on your nails this week”. I don’t go crazy if I have a lot of stakeholder meetings though. Right now I’m wearing a purple-ombre lotus design on my nails (Jamberry brand)

    24. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Both of those things (variances in how you dress, and bright nail polish) are things that people in my casual office don’t even notice. Some people dress up a bit for work. Some people are totally schlubby (me). Nobody cares here, I think you’re overthinking it! The goal of casual workplaces is to let people wear whatever is most comfortable for them.

    25. periwinkle*

      Dressing on the business side of business casual would be perfectly normal in my org. Generally the higher you are on the org chart, the more business-y you dress. In my group we have women who prefer skirts/dresses, so they wear them. Some of the men wear jackets on occasion. Others stick to polos and chinos. As long as you’re somewhere in the business casual spectrum, that’s fine.

      As for the nail polish, that might depend on the office. I’ll wear purple polish sometimes and no one cares. During the NFL season, lime green/dark blue nails are perfectly acceptable because it’s Seattle.

    26. Lori*

      My job is not customer-facing. We have a dress code but it’s basically “don’t wear muscle shirts, dirty/ripped clothes or athletic shorts.” People wear everything from jeans and t-shirts all the way up to suits. I myself wear jeans or leggings with tunics a lot, but sometimes dresses, just based on how I feel that day!

    27. No Longer Just a Lurker*

      1. Wear what is comfortable. I could see it being unusual if they were in jeans and you were wearing business suits but a dress or skirt to me is a non issue. I would probably be careful to make sure your dress are more on the casual side though so it is less obvious.
      2. Unless you are client facing and your clients are bank presidents or something like that (which given the jeans culture I highly doubt you are) I see no issue. I am an accountant and my toes are navy blue with a glitter overlay and my co-worker (high level financial analyst) has fingers and toes that look like Easter eggs – a different pastel color on each finger with polka dots or stripes.

    28. Doriana Gray*

      1 – my company is business casual (and some divisions take the casual part very seriously). Still, I regularly wear dresses and high heels. I dress in a way that makes me feel comfortable and allows me to express myself. I get along just great with my coworkers, so I don’t worry about not being a culture fit just because everyone else isn’t a clothes horse like me.

      2 – many women at my company wear bright nail polish (probably not in our corporate office though), especially a lot of the older women. I don’t paint my nails, so I don’t think I really pay attention to it all that much.

    29. LF*

      If most people wear jeans in your office, brightly colored nail polish should not be an issue.

    30. Irishgal*

      1. I think this is more about your friend’s perception of themself and projecting that onto you so I would disregard. Any office I have worked in that is “casual” (no formal dress code) has people dressing as they feel comfortable individually resulting in an array of styles.
      2. I agree; can’t see why nail colour would be an issue in general.

  8. ACA*

    Guilty work confessions thread?

    Mine is that I am the person who never replaces the water cooler jug (tank?) when it’s empty. I will go thirsty and/or go buy a bottle of water rather than try and heft a new jug onto the cooler. I’m sorry! But I am short and weak and the last (only) time I tried I ended up wrenching my back and I’d rather not repeat that experience.

    1. De Minimis*

      I’m right there with you, though for me I just don’t want to risk spilling it everywhere. I am pretty clumsy and have been in offices before where people spilled the water and it’s a huge mess. I just don’t want to chance it.

      I’m even worse, there is one right next to me in our small department, but I won’t drink from it because I’m afraid if I do I’ll be expected to replace it. I go to another floor and use theirs.

      1. Florida*

        I’ve never even tried to change the water jug. I will ask someone else to do it and flat out tell them it’s because I afraid to do it because I don’t want to spill it.

        1. Florida*

          I should add that I make up for not changing the water jug by also refilling the copy paper when I use the last of it, and even when the jerk before me leaves it empty. I also clear the copier of jams, too.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              … isn’t this just basic decency? You use the last of a thing, so you replace it? Or you need a thing and someone else didn’t replace it, so you do? Or you break a thing (i.e. the jam), so you fix it?

              1. TootsNYC*

                I agree that this is the decent thing to do. And so if it’s close to the bottom of the bottle, I won’t get a drink.

                Or, I’ll go get someone who can do it, so that it gets done then, but not by me.

        2. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

          I stopped trying to change the water jug when once I tried and …. it did not go well.
          I have skill sets. This isn’t in it.

        3. Sparkly Librarian*

          I always change the water jug, because I am sturdy and make a minimal mess, and I don’t mind. But I DO notice — and detest! – that I replace the paper towel roll many many more times than I am the one to take the last paper towel.

      2. bridget*

        I will gladly replace the water jug, as long as NO ONE ELSE IS AROUND. If I have an audience, forget it. I will instantly become too self conscious, and spill the entire contents on the ground ala Liz Lemon.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Serious question. How does one spill some of the water? All I can think is that system must be different than what I am used to. I had to flip the bottle over and there was a little spindle waaay down inside the machine that punched the lid open. By the time you punctured the lid, the bottle was upside down and in the machine. The top (open end) of the bottle only needed to go an inch more or so.
          While I totally understood people thought they could not lift the bottle and invert it because of height/strength/etc, I never understood why people thought water went all over the place. Do people do this?

          1. OhNo*

            A lot of similar machines require you to take the cap off the bottle before inverting it – they don’t have the puncture set up that yours did.

            So basically you’re trying to invert an open bottle and hope to god that the spout is pointing in the right place, otherwise you’ll just turn it upside down and dump the contents everywhere.

            1. Kimberlee, Esq*

              Yeah, I think old machines are set up like that. Since many are rentals, if you truly are in an office where you have an old might-spill-water design, you should pay the $3 a month or whatever it would take to get an upgrade.

          2. nerfmobile*

            For the older-style designs without the puncturing thing, the trick is to consciously understand that you are pouring the water into the holder as you are inverting the jug. Some water will come out, it’s inevitable. If you try to prevent that, weird things will happen. But if you think that you are pouring it in, you’ll get the right parts in the right places.

        1. Minion*

          Caught up? This is an unfamiliar concept for me. Is this something that happens in some strange, but wonderful, land that I’ve never visited or even heard of? Please, tell me what it’s like! ;)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            LOL it’s what happens when 1) all the other department works from home on Fridays; 2) your team is either all gone or in meetings; 3) you’ve busted your ass all week; 4) your department is changing and you’re only getting little bits of stuff to do and wondering if you are either going to be made redundant or get so buried that you’ll never see the light of day again so you’re enjoying it while you can.


        1. the.kat*

          Fridays are literally the worst. The office is quiet, the music is playing, work is dragging…

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yep, if anything seems too hard or daunting, I hop on AAM for a bit of soothing procrastination.

    2. Clever Name*

      I tend to get annoyed at my office mates. This has happened to about 40-50% of the people I’ve shared offices with over the years. It’s usually because they like to chat more than I prefer, or I start picking up on personal habits I find annoying (like chewing loudly, or the heavy smoker who smelled bad, or gulping water, or sighing incessantly) I acknowledge that the common denominator between me and the office mates I dislike is me.

    3. Rat Racer*

      I am considering moving a meeting with a colleague today so that I can go to a noon yoga class. Just typing this makes me feel so guilty that maybe I won’t do it. Maybe…

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yoga is good for you, and being healthy will help you be a more productive worker. You can have a boring old meeting anytime.


      2. bridget*

        If my colleague asked me to move a meeting with me for this reason (provided I had a reasonably flexible schedule), I would think it’s totally acceptable and want you to go. And maybe ask if you have any guest passes, because my hamstrings are tight and could use some downward dogs.

      3. Hattie McDoogal*

        Mine is pretty similar. I think my boss is going to ask me to stay late today and I might tell him no because I have a “previous engagement” (aka, a class I really want to go to at my gym).

    4. Raspberry21*

      My office is an open-office plan with no walls or private spaces. Whenever I need to take a private phone call (i.e. phone interview), I hog the only single-occupancy bathroom (there are other bathrooms on this floor) since it’s the only place I can get privacy without fearing someone else will overhear!

      1. Analyst*

        I don’t take phone calls in the bathroom but I do take my sweet-ass time. Because, also open office/no privacy and I find that I really do crave visual privacy throughout the workday.

    5. Sorry and not sorry*

      Nightmare Boss at ExJob would ask me to make him coffee in a very specific and patronising way. So I spat in it.

      1. Lily Puddle*

        That is fantastic. I shouldn’t think that, and I certainly shouldn’t say it, but that is fantastic.

      2. PsS*

        That’s incredibly immature and disgusting. You are just as gross as the taco bell/fast food workers that pull that crap.

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

        Omg if he was one of those people who, when you’ve asked one simple question for clarification, just repeated what he said more slowly with a shit-eating grin (or… *spit*-eating grin.. couldn’t help it) and condescending tone that implied your Absolute Idiocy for not being able to hear his repertoire of Pet-Peeve Madness over the whiny, obnoxious din engulfing every word, let alone committing such whimsical insanity to the precious resource of memory in the face of such boorishness, in theory of Reciprocity, he deserved it.
        I hate people like this, because if you’re a nice person (or, just trying to scrape by your day without Dealing with the Crapitude of Others), you politely apologize and say something to the effect of clarifying the misunderstanding (whether yours or theirs, you don’t mention) and wish to move on, into a bright future built on understanding and social compromise; however, what the Jerk just heard was your cosigning on their bullshit, and he/she will now triumphantly ruminate (if only subconsciously by simply adding this latest example of your inadequacy to a long-running, internal list to which you will never have full access) on how to further establish their dominance and unwavering rightness that leaves only room for subversive retribution… in all its many forms.
        Though spit grosses me out to no end (I won’t let my bf eat off my spoon because he “mouths” all over it), I applaud you because you do what you can with what you’re given.

    6. T3k*

      Where I work, our hours are 10am to 6pm, but I tend to arrive around 20 minutes early and, despite our set business hours, if my boss is there as well, expects the phone to answered, even if it’s 9:30. If she’s not in though (and most times she’s not) I refuse to answer the phone unless she or another coworker call before opening time. I also have locked the front door when I come in because, again, we’ve had customers arrive before opening time and, despite the blinds being closed, come in anyways.

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        Oh man, I do both of those things. I’ve been caught by my boss a couple of times on the door thing when he shows up earlier than expected but I pass it off as “forgetting” to open it (we have to initially come in through the side door so it’s plausible).

      2. Rubyrose*

        I would not feel bad about this.
        I had a job at an Air Force base hospital, working the appointment desk. You could come in half an hour early and all three lines were already ringing. If you answered early and someone found out you could be accused of favoritism, since those appointments were coveted. To this day I can still ignore a ringing phone.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        I adore the matter-of-fact delivery of that. I have days where I do here as well. You’ve got my support Pete.

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

          I’m currently looking at a cube wall in front of a window. I’m not even joking. Sure I can see over it, but I also can’t see through it.

    7. Mike C.*

      They actually switched from 5 gallon jugs to 3 gallon jugs because it was causing back injuries here.

      By the way, as someone who can lift those, don’t feel bad asking for help. I have lots of folks that look around for the nearest person who can lift those and it’s really no big deal.

      1. hbc*

        Yeah, I loved doing it because I look short and wimpy but am actually pretty strong. An empty container was a bright spot in the day!

        I guess my related confession is that there are a few times when I dawdled changing the bottle if no one was around, to increase the chance that there were witnesses to my awesome feat of strength.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        We had the 5 gallon bottles. It did not bother me if people asked me to get it for them.
        The only thing that bothered me was if I knew a person was capable of lifting a bottle and they walked away leaving an empty bottle in the machine. This is more of “if you use the last of the toilet paper, then hang up another roll for the next person” type of thing.

      3. Shell*

        I beg off on lifting those as well. I’ve done them before in an absolute crunch, but my back and knee really hate me after. So on behalf of those of us who can’t lift the thing, thank you!

        (I make up for it by always being the one who replaces the paper towels.)

    8. Literally the worst*

      Whenever I end up working unpaid OT (at least a couple days a week) I take “payment” in other ways. An extra bag of chips from the break room here, a notebook there…you get the idea.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I would have thought that this was common knowledge among employers by now, if you ask too much of people they find ways to get themselves paid. But apparently employers have not figure it out YET.

        1. TootsNYC*

          well, I actually plan those sorts of extra “payments” It’s a pretty cheap way to purchase the goodwill. It apparently works; people still rave about the Insomnia Cookies.

    9. Jen*

      I will use people’s fridge condiments/creamer. If it’s labeled I’ll ask but otherwise, if it’s in there and and I need creamer, I’ll use a little bit of it. I would never use the last of it but I hate powdered creamer and yet I drink coffee at work so rarely that it doesn’t merit me buying my own carton that will go bad before I use it.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Think about it – if everyone felt free to do so then the person who actually paid for the milk gets very little of it and has to replace it a lot more often. I am the one everyone used to do this to and I had to resort to buying my own tiny fridge and hiding it under my desk. Now my milk lasts over a week instead of 3 days. What you are doing is stealing from your coworker and it’s not ok.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          OK, I just saw that you rarely drink coffee and I do think that’s a bit different. I assumed it was an every-day thing at first.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            But I still think Jen should occasionally buy creamer to share and pop it in the fridge.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        I do this too. I also often buy my own milk and keep it in the fridge. I don’t care if anyone else takes steals a little, but when it’s my own milk I also sometimes take a little swig straight from the carton to make sure it’s still good. May the milk-stealer beware.

      3. Guinness*

        I have left a year’s worth of IOU’s for someone else’s Tylenol. At some point I just stopped leaving notes.

    10. Minion*

      I have a coworker that I absolutely can’t stand and the whole time she’s talking to me I’m making awful, snarky comments in my head. I have also been known to make horrible faces at the phone when she calls or walks out of my office. Yep. My confession is that I’m actually in middle school but masquerading as a 41 year old professional.

    11. Lily in NYC*

      I hog all the ice from the ice maker in the fridge! And I acted childish when I ran into a former boss at a happy hour on Wednesday – I HATED this woman – she did something incredibly crappy to me when we worked together. She tried to apologize to me on her last day and I wasn’t having it. This is the first time I’ve seen her since then and she came over and tried to engage me in conversation. I answered her two questions and then just looked off into space and ignored her until she gave up and walked away. Not my proudest moment but I’ll never need her as a reference. And holy wow can I hold a grudge – her last day was 2 years ago.

    12. Temperance*

      I don’t wear shoes at work unless I leave my office and also I listen to Kesha and N’Sync early every day. Sorry not sorry.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        *NSYNC was everything when I was in middle school. And I too have their music on my mp3.

    13. Annie Moose*

      I confess to stealing pizza from the fridge at work. To make things worse, I stole it from another floor’s fridge, and it was a slice of supreme pizza (my fave, the more toppings the better) while all the other leftovers were plain cheese or pepperoni.

      In my defense, it looked like it was left over from a team lunch, not someone’s personal leftovers, and I was so hungry I thought I was going to faint if I didn’t eat something! Now I keep snacks in my office for emergencies. :P

      1. Rubyrose*

        We had a VP who would raid the two refrigerators on a regular basis (2-3 time week) when he was working after hours. We knew it was him because he was caught red handed a couple of time. It created hard feelings and the CEO was unwilling to address it.

        1. Guinness*

          In my first professional job (where I made peanuts), my boss, the owner of the company, ate my yogurt right in front of me. I still can’t believe I had the balls to say something to him at that time in my life, but I was hungry and poor.

    14. Bowserkitty*

      The one time I attempted to do it I DID drop and break it. Hah. Luckily the only crack was at the bottom of the jug (aka the part that goes on top) so it didn’t make a huge difference but I’ve refused to do that ever since :x

    15. Artemesia*

      I make a mess of it when I do it alone, so when we had one in our office, I would ask someone to help me — two of us could usually wrestle the thing into place without pouring water everywhere.

    16. Rabbit*

      I look a lot busier than I really am. *shame* I tell myself I’ve gotten so good at my job, but truthfully I’m enjoying the slower pace in my life currently. :X

    17. blackcat*

      I have always been a water jug changer, despite being tiny. I figure, I have the strength/balance to do it, so I should. But I have alarmed many people who have observed me doing it. One building installed a couple of 10 gallon(!) jug water coolers. Being used to 2-5 gallon jugs, I totally underestimated that challenge. I still did it, but no fewer than 5 men started running towards me as I lifted the jug….

    18. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve realized that my emotions play too much of a role in influencing my performance. At my first university department, I fell in love with so much about the job (the building, the students’ amazing art pinned up on the gallery walls, the people, the kind of work and research the professors did, everything). I was so motivated by pride in what they did and a sense of belonging there and contributing to something that I idealized. Now, without those emotions for my current job, everything I have to do feels like merely a bunch of dry, meaningless tasks. I’ve tried to take the task-oriented versus relationship-oriented advice and motivate myself into being more task-oriented, but it is a big, fat lie and my lack of feelings for my job makes it so much harder to self-motivate than when my emotions were engaged.

  9. BRR*

    Any tips to help my manager be more focused on work tasks? She’s very into relationships with coworkers and emotions which I am happy that she considers how we feel but after chatting with a colleague today we discussed how we need more of her attention to be on outcomes.

    1. fposte*

      Can you be more specific (to her more than to us) about what you need from her that you’re not getting? As usual, you’re going to have a better chance asking for her to do something different than to be something different.

    2. whatperfomancereview*

      I am also struggling with this! “Managing up” is quite the challenge…

      I haven’t come up with any great system yet, but basically I make sure to develop an agenda for every meeting we have. I constantly refer back to it like a broken record: “let’s go back to item 2 for just a second.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Tell her, “I feel that I need to focus on my work more and talk about how I feel less. I get very antsy when my work is not done and that will keep me awake nights.”

      Seriously, tell her. Tell her that it is lovely she is so concerned about everyone. But you and others are concerned that the work itself is starting to slide and you wished the group was more work focused.

    4. Joanna*

      Perhaps something like “Hi ______. It’s great to been great chatting to you lately. I really appreciate that you’re trying to build an inclusive, happy work place culture. However, I feel like in all our conversations, we’re not talking much about our work outcomes and what we can do to make progress on those. Can we make some time to focus on that?”

  10. VintageCampus*

    So I got promoted recently, and I agreed to help provide some of the reports for my old role until they replaced me.

    Well … they just closed my position with no plan to hire until that department re-organizes/aligns!

    This puts me in a real bind since my new role requires a ton of work! I’ve only been here 4 months and I am already working almost every weekend and each evening!

    Problem is, my new boss wants the reporting that the old departmeent use to do. So she is demanding more and more of the work I use to do in the old department on top of all my new responsibilities. It’s too much!

    What should I do? I’ve tried talking to my supervisor about how busy I am, but it’s a hard sell when my supervisor is working until 3am every single day. If it weren’t for me being asked to do my old job on top of my new job I could manage a decent schedule – 50 hours a week. But with the old job and the new job I am already wishing I didn’t take the new position!

    1. neverjaunty*

      Sounds like it’s time to look for a new job. If you’re overwhelmed AND they’re shutting down a position so that you have to cover it AND your boss is in exactly the same situation – you’re probably at a company that thinks overworking people is a swell way to save money.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      In order to get advocacy for yourself you may have to advocate for your supervisor. You could ask questions like, “How many years do you think you can work until 3 am without getting hospitalized for weeks on end?” Show her that it is a bad plan for HER, and in the process it will become apparent that you should not do it either.

      Tired people become focused on what THEY need. If you are talking about her concerns and her needs she will probably hear you.
      I realize that focusing on how it impacts her is a low priority compared to your needs/concerns, BUT I have tried this many times and found it to be an effective way of getting my needs heard also.

    3. CM*

      It sounds like you may have already tried this, but could you flatly say “I can’t continue doing both my old job and the new job. Can we come up with a plan to transition the reporting duties to someone else within the next 2 weeks?” (Or, would it be possible for you to come up with a plan on your own, that you could propose to her?) If the answer is, “Look, I’m here until 3 a.m. every day, and I need you to step up,” then I guess it depends how much you want to stick your neck out. But if you’re going to be job searching over this, you don’t have much to lose by insisting that you are not willing to continue like this.

  11. T3k*

    So, after a year at my current job, I’ve decided to quit and gave them a month’s notice as I know it’ll be hard for them to find a new replacement (mainly because she pays half the salary for those in the area/experience). Oh, and nothing lined up. Not ideal, but I realized I spent so much time driving and working, eating, and sleeping, I didn’t have time to work on the skills I needed to get where I want to be, and this job doesn’t offer any way to learn them. I have about 6-9 months worth saved up before I need to find another source of income and I am applying around to other jobs and going to call up this creative agency in my area for help if I need it. The boss hinted at wanting me come in 2-3 days a week after my last day if she can’t find a new designer and I said I’d think about it, but honestly I want to make a clean break because I can’t put up with how things are run here anymore (but I decided not to tell her that).

    Also, I got an anonymous message through my website (standard as it hosts my portfolio) telling me I misspelled a word for an application on it. That was pretty embarrassing and I fixed it right away but now I’m all “are they going to hold this against me? Is this why I haven’t heard anything from anyone?!”

    1. S0phieChotek*

      Just my opinion — I agree with the “clean break” unless your contract states you have to help out a little (seems like there was a discussion about this last week/earlier this week.) Or “contract” wage to help out. Otherwise it seems like a lot of people here have told stories of old managers trying to get a lot of “free” work from them

      I think there was a thread recently about typos and how much people took that into account:
      – the fact someone anonymously pointed it out — maybe intended to be nice, but (to me) seems a little weird…

      1. T3k*

        Thankfully, I’m not under contract. This company is so small, there wasn’t even an official paper signed when I agreed to start working for them (also thankfully, that probably means no exit interview and such). I do know that if she presses the issue if she can’t find a replacement in time, I will tell her I’ve switched to being a freelancer and therefore would need to charge a rate about 3 times more than what I’m making now to match the current contractor rates. That’ll probably be the only way to get her off my case if it comes to that because I know she can’t/doesn’t want to pay that much.

        Yeah, I think the anon was being nice (literally, their message was something like “you might want to look at this section of your website. You misspelled [word]”) as one’s portfolio/website is to showcase our best and is just as important as a resume in the field. But since that was the only misspelling (I double checked everything after that) hopefully they’ll let that bit slide.

    2. AnxiouslyAnon*

      I did that two weeks ago, too! I just gave 2 weeks notice, though. But that’s because I gave my last day as the day before I go on vacation.

      My boss didn’t hint about contracting work, but flat out said it. Because trying to train people on the things I know actually losing almost triple revenue at this point, between time and pulling people off their usual tasks. And since I have only 3-4 months of savings myself, I figured it was a safe plan. Because at the end of the day, working part time at my job wouldn’t be terrible, because the other half of the time I could be applying for jobs with no abandon. (Also my workplace isn’t toxic, in general, but the job was toxic to me for many, many reasons, all of which my boss understand.)

      Good luck with the hunt! If you were anything like me I’m sure you’re feeling fantastic right now!

      1. T3k*

        Thanks, and good luck to you too! And yes, I’m feeling (mostly) great about it. I know my mom doesn’t like the thought of me quitting without a job lined up (hell, I don’t like it much either) but sometimes you have to do what you think is best, even if it is risky.

    3. CM*

      It’s great that you have so much saved up! It’s a little scary to leave with nothing lined up, but it sounds like you have lots of flexibility. I’m with you, I would want a clean break too — and as long as you leave on good terms, you may be able to keep that as an option in the future in case you need work. I doubt your one website typo is making potential employers ignore you — I’ve also written notes like that (not anonymously, but it doesn’t really matter), and they’re 100% intended to be helpful.

  12. ZSD*

    Today, New York is becoming the fourth state to have a paid family and medical leave insurance program! Starting in 2018, New Yorkers (state) will be able to take several weeks off of work to care for a new child or an ill family member or recover from their own illness or injury, and still get part of their paycheck. Hooray!
    It’ll start with 8 weeks in 2018 and gradually increase to 12 weeks. The wage replacement rate will start at 50% and gradually increase to 67%, I believe.
    (The three states with these programs already in place are California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Did you know you had this support?)

    1. Meg*

      I live in one of these states. It’s a good step forward, but it’s not great — we have 13 weeks off, 6 of which is paid if you’ve been at my workplace for four years. :/

      1. ZSD*

        The money from the state paid family insurance programs doesn’t have a four-year wait period! Maybe your own employer will pay you for six weeks after four years, but the insurance money you can claim pretty much right away.
        I’ll put a link to a summary of the state programs in another reply.

        1. Meg*

          Wow, that’s really helpful, thank you! I’m new to the state and new to the thought process of having a child soon :) so I haven’t done all my research yet!

    2. NGL*

      I just read about this! As a New Yorker who may be having a kid in the next two years, I’m excited. I wonder if it will stack with FMLA, so you could take your 8 weeks paid and then another 12 weeks unpaid. And then if a two parent household can stagger their leave, you could end up with a parent at home for almost an entire year.

      1. ZSD*

        Usually the paid leave and the FMLA unpaid leave work concurrently, so you’d have 12 weeks off under FMLA, 8 of which would be paid through the state insurance program (in 2018 – more weeks in subsequent years). On the other hand, New York also has a temporary disability insurance program that covers recovery from childbirth (or bed rest before delivery, etc.), so as a delivering mother, you might be able to take a few weeks paid leave under the temporary disability insurance program and then 8 weeks under the family leave program, though FMLA would still only cover you for 12 weeks, I think.
        And yes, two-parent households should be able to stagger the leave.
        I am not a lawyer!

    3. Liana*

      This is so exciting! 50% is still not very much, but it’s something – and a sign that states are starting to move in the right direction regarding paid leave.

    4. Msquared*

      Are there any restrictions here? I am in a New York office but we have a total of 2 FT employees, plus 2 PT, so I’m wondering we we would be considered too small for these benefits to be eligible to employees.

      1. ZSD*

        This new paid family leave law itself includes job protection, so it will apply even if your business isn’t covered by FMLA (which is what normally provides job-protected leave). From what I’m reading in a document from A Better Balance, “Most workers in New York will be eligible. If a worker is covered by New York State’s current Temporary Disability Insurance law, he or she will be covered by the paid family leave program as well. Workers will be covered regardless of their employer’s size.”
        Note that the insurance fund comes from employee payroll deductions, not employer contributions.

    5. CAA*

      In California, I’m not sure how widespread the knowledge is. I know because I’m a manager who’s had several people use it, mostly for parental leave. It’s commonly used first by the Mom and then by the Dad to extend the total amount of leave for the family.

      I know our great HR/Benefits person makes a point of telling people about it when she knows they will have a use for it. Usually we are aware if someone is becoming a parent or needs a medical leave for themselves, but it’s hard to know if someone has an ill family member unless they mention it.

      1. ZSD*

        Yes, awareness of the programs is a real problem! I think a recent survey found that only 31% of Californians know about the state’s paid family leave insurance.

  13. Meg*

    Happy Friday, everyone! It’s annual review time in my office, and next week I have to fill out my evaluation form. It’s pretty standard — accomplishments, challenges, desired development opportunities — but it’s my first one! I’m not too worried about it, per se, because I’ve had a good year but would love any tips! Either from ones you’ve submitted or particularly good ones that have been submitted to you. :)

    1. ZSD*

      It might be too late for this for this year, but at least for future years, be sure to keep a file with a running list of your accomplishments that you update regularly, and keep an “I Rock” email folder where you keep all the compliments people send you on your work. That will help you list your accomplishments when evaluation time rolls around.

    2. TCO*

      I recommend finding out who will be reading your self-evaluation. For instance, in my company the self-evaluations are shared up a few levels, and those leaders enjoy reading all of them. So I keep that in mind as I write–how candid should I be? What accomplishments might our director not be aware of yet? What kinds of goals will meet her approval? Your self-evaluation is a strategic document, so apply that lens as you write.

      1. Meg*

        That’s a good point, thank you! I hadn’t really considered the fact that people above my direct manager might read it.

      2. Liza*

        Along the lines of what TCO wrote, also keep in mind that those higher up might need more context to understand your accomplishments than your boss would. For example, if I thought my boss were the only one going to see it, I might write “Accomplished Y in X circumstances.” But if I know people higher up are going to see it, I’d be more likely to write “Accomplished Y in X circumstances. This included doing A, B, and C.”

    3. AMD*

      The more concrete you can be, the better. Don’t be afraid to list your real challenges/weaknesses as long as you are also listing your strategies for overcoming them.

      For me, I prefer bullet points, resume-style, to long narrative paragraphs, but that might vary by workplace.

  14. TGK*

    I have been at my company nearing two months. We are a small start-up. The owner of the company mentioned to my boss last year that he knew I was due for a raise. A few months back I reached out to my boss and explained I am having a child soon and would like to talk about adding in vacation time or pay raise. My boss said he talked to the owner and he once again mentioned that he knows that he promised me a raise. It has been a few months and I still have no received either a raise or added vacation time and nothing has even been discussed. I am not afraid to bring it back up as we are all pretty close here. My issue is that I am also searching for other work – is it really worth asking for a raise/added vacation if I am searching for other opportunities? I feel like it might be difficult to leave if they do offer me both.


    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’m assuming that’s a typo and you meant you’ve been there for two years, not months. Do not feel guilty about asking for a raise/additional PTO that you have earned and that you deserve. Your potential departure is just that: potential. What if you didn’t speak up about it, and don’t end up finding a new job? You’d be stuck where you are for less money/benefits than you deserve. Get what’s yours!

      Don’t feel beholden to them if they do give you what you ask for. Remind yourself if/when you debate leaving that it’s okay for you to put your own professional goals above the needs of the company you work for.

    2. Mike C.*

      Also, while having a kid may be a personal motivator for you to bring the issue up, don’t make it part of your reason why you deserve additional benefits. Use your good record, industry norms and so on to bolster your argument.

    3. Agreed with NaRG*

      I agree with Not a Real Giraffe. The raise/leave issue should be totally separate from your potential departure. Don’t feel guilty. You deserve it, even if you may only get to enjoy it for a few weeks/months before finding a new job. Also, in the future, I would be very careful on how you talk about getting a raise in connection with having a child. I think there are other AAM posts on this (or maybe some other reasons why someone’s life is harder/more expensive now) which are more elegantly written, but I think it has the potential to undermine your case. Again, this is really about your contributions and your value.

      1. Artemesia*

        And if you do get a great offer. Take it. And if they say ‘but we just gave you a raise’ say well after two years of promises I started looking for a new position and this was already in the works before the recent raise came through.’ And leave. A business would cut you in a heartbeat if it was in their interests to do so; they stonewalled you for a long time; do what is in your best interests.

        And never mention planning to have a child as a reason for them to give you a raise. NEVER.

    4. CM*

      I negotiated a large raise once, and ended up leaving a few months later… I didn’t regret it, and I don’t think they held it against me since we maintained a good relationship after I left.

  15. Jwal*

    My brother is doing a year abroad in Germany (he’s doing German, French, and Italian in uni).

    He had an internship lined up but they’ve now decided that they can only make it 3 months (when he needs at least 9 months worth of work) so he’s got to find something else in a bit of a hurry.

    He can do a job, volunteer, or do an internship (but it can’t be “working in McDonalds or on a hotel reception”). His internship was doing translation, but he’s happy to do most things.

    Any suggestions for places he could look that might not be immediately obvious to a UK student?
    Or has anyone worked in/lived in Germany (or a German-speaking country I suppose) that can give any advice?

    1. Tiger Feet*

      This is likely to be immediately obvious but…. if he’s looking to work as part of a degree, it might be worth approaching German universities and asking if they have any opportunities (paid or unpaid) or are perhaps willing to create a role for him. I know Munich University is considered to be particularly good. Alternatively, to utilise his translation skills, what about archives (national and local), libraries, public record offices etc.?

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Ah yes, in my day I was an English Assistant for a school year, but I think this is no longer an option.

        Employment agencies offer short term contracts and this might be a possibility. My local branch of Adecco has proposed internships, and I currently have an intern in my team.

    2. anonforthis*

      Very interested to see responses to this as I might be moving to Germany soon! I’m looking at TEFL at the moment if that would be an option for him?

    3. Mephyle*

      And the obvious one – translation agencies. He can search for them directly, or go through the directory of translation agencies (which can be accessed by country) at ProZ-dot-com.

    4. Jwal*

      Thanks for the suggestions :) I’ve passed them on and hopefully he’ll find something soon!

  16. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I’m in a weird spot! With the departure for mat leave by my coworker, I am now the most senior employee at my work behind my boss, the founder/owner. The mat leave replacement he hired seems to not be working out–he won’t ask questions but would rather do nothing until we ask if he needs help, for example.

    My boss has asked me for my feedback on the replacement and I’ve given him my honest opinion, which is that he either needs significant training (although he had a full month) or something else needs to change. My boss’s response is always “the job will come to him,” but he isn’t interested in actually giving him any help or fixing the mistakes. His idea of fixing things is to ask “so, did you do X?” And then when the replacement says “yes!” (Even if that is not true), considers things fixed.

    Now in our internal system I can see that the replacement has been making up false records (I. E., saying he talked with people on the phone or left messages when I know for a fact he didn’t. I sit in the next cubicle and haven’t gone anywhere all morning. These conversations are fictitious) and while normally I would bring it to my boss’s attention, my boss’s reactions have been less encouraging than I would have hoped. Should I say something? Or get the message that my boss simply doesn’t care about things like this?

    1. fposte*

      The message I’ve gotten from your boss over the years is that he doesn’t care about much of anything when it comes to running your office well. I think it’s fine to bring it up to your boss with this new information, but I’d assume he’ll do nothing.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      Falsifying records is fireable, a professional license discipline, and/or possible prosecution depending on severity in my field. I’d definitely bring it up, not sure the severity of falsifying in yours

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Same in my field. Wow, I can’t believe someone would do this. (Actually, I can, but it still boggles the mind.)

    3. Folklorist*

      Isn’t it harder to falsify records about phone conversations than just…calling and leaving messages? What’s even the point? People mystify me sometimes!

  17. Ad Girl*

    After having a discussion with a friend about this topic this week, I am curious about hearing other peoples’ thoughts and the differences between industries. As someone who works in advertising, I am always conscious of my appearance on social media as far as what requests I choose to accept and what I choose to post.

    Some background: my friend’s office has hired a new employee who comes from our alma mater. This week, she sent a FB friend request to my friend in anticipation of her starting next week. I assuming the fact that they have mutual friends and have met in the past at school (we are only a couple years out) factored in to her sending this request. He accepted her request and quickly saw that she posts a lot of NSFW content of her half naked doing modeling, etc. This started a discussion between some friends on where you cross a line and jeopardize your job with your social media presence outside of work.

    This leads to my questions for readers – Does your field put any weight on personal social media presence when it comes your job? (i.e. can you lose your job for what you post on social media?) As someone in advertising who works with social media daily, I know that my field puts more emphasis on social media presence and representing yourself in the best light; but I am curious how others feel about this and the standard in other industries!

    1. whatperfomancereview*

      I work in the international development sector. There is not a lot of emphasis on social media for most people (although naked modeling is probably a good line to draw in the sand…), but since there are a lot of consulting gigs out there, there is also a sense that you can distinguish yourself through social media. Posting “influential content” and being connected to the right people on Twitter and the blogosphere can raise your profile and help you get consulting gigs.

    2. anonanonanon*

      Mine doesn’t, unless someone is spilling company secrets or making racist/homophobic/sexist/etc comments.

      Facebook and LinkedIn are the only social media accounts I have linked under my real name. Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and anything else are under a random name and a separate email address and I never post detailed info or pictures of myself, so they’d be pretty hard to trace to me. I don’t post anything awful, but I don’t want my geeky ramblings about my love for fandomy stuff to be linked to my professional presence.

      I honestly would hate to work in an industry where I’m required to have a social media presence. I think NSFW content is a case by case basis. I mean, sure I wouldn’t want to know about a coworker doing NSFW modeling, but if it didn’t go against my company’s policies, I’d just block those posts and go about my business.

      1. Ad Girl*

        Your last sentence was the exact reaction my friend’s boss had – if it doesn’t affect her work life and she changes the account to be private to hide the content, then it really isn’t anyone at works business.

        I tend to lean that way as well. If I see something like that I don’t want to be seeing, I just block it and go about my business!

    3. T3k*

      I work as a graphic designer and while there’s no focus on social media where I am, I’ve always been very conscious of what I post/who I accept requests from. Most of my generation uses Twitter, but I don’t. I set one up with my name to reserve it, but after that, I haven’t used it since. My Facebook, I have the privacy set so well most relatives can’t find me on it, and even then, I have friends in categories to hide certain posts/pictures from. I really take the whole “once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever” pretty seriously.

    4. Apparatchic*

      I’m in international development too, and I agree that it is not a major factor – like, you don’t want it to be negative, but I’m not sure most of my employers even bothered to look beyond LinkedIn. I lock down my Facebook and never post anything on Instagram that would make me have to defend myself to any very conservative coworkers, but that’s about it.

    5. anon airline employee*

      I work in corporate for an airline, and writing negative things about the company or writing anything that could be seen as trying to speak on behalf of the company could get me fired for sure (it’s in our social media policy). But as far as my general presence, while it might not get me fired, it would certainly impact my colleagues’ opinions of me, which I think is true for any industry.

      Due to me having a wide circle of facebook friends from business school and a few colleagues and just being generally reserved, I have an extremely bland facebook page. Pictures of me with a glass of wine in hand is about as controversial as I get on my page, because that’s all I’m comfortable with putting out there both personally and professionally.

    6. Rocky*

      I’m in academia and it’s pretty normal to review social media as part of screening candidates – usually we’d just be seeing if the candidate has a presence, and looking for big red flags that others mentioned. Having a strong professional social media presence can be a plus in my field – it can make you appear to be an influencer, whether that’s true or not. Not having a social media presence at all would be a little unusual, but not necessarily a problem. Most people fall somewhere in the middle and it’s fine. My institution has a social media policy that extends to personal accounts, and you can absolutely lose your job over it.

      I will say that I was considering recruiting an acquaintance to apply for a job, but I noticed she had a habit of posting daily Facebook rants about how terrible her current boss was. The posts were super detailed and personal. It might have been all 100% true, but I thought it showed poor judgment, so I decided not to reach out to her about applying.

      1. F.*

        I also review social media to screen candidates and have had a few screen themselves out by their inappropriate posts, including racists rants, recent photos of totally drunken parties and drug use, rants against police, bosses and workplaces. Like Rocky, these all show poor judgment, and I’d rather steer clear than deal with likely problems later on.

      2. anonanonanon*

        I’m always curious about people who look for social media presence when hiring employees. If someone doesn’t have one at all, are they withdrawn from the candidate pool? Several of my friends don’t have Facebook or have instagram accounts that aren’t under their legal names (think something like jesstakesfoodpictures or landscapesandpuppies). I keep my social media profile low due to privacy concerns.

        I can understand if social media is required for a job, but for jobs where it’d be a plus or not really necessary at all, what happens to those people whose names come up with nothing when you search for them online?

        1. Rocky*

          In my field it would be considered a little odd, but not a dealbreaker in any way. I would assume the person was just really private. Professional networking is really important here, so I would wonder if they were aware how having no social media presence could limit their growth.

          1. Ad Girl*

            My company is the same way. It would be a little odd for them not to have some sort of social media presence, but it definitely isn’t a deal breaker at all.

        2. F.*

          I, for one, heave a little sigh of relief when I find a candidate’s FB page that I can’t view because it says the person has enough common sense to at least hide whatever they may be doing (if anything at all). My own FB page is set to the highest privacy. We do run a 7-year background check for any employment offers that are made, so problems usually show up there if there is anything very serious. As far as non-criminal stupidity (racist rants, etc.), that will get them shown the door here in very short order if they start it up at work. Checking FB etc. isn’t a foolproof way of weeding out unsuitable candidates, but it is one of many screening methods that can be used.

      3. Ife*

        Isn’t there a setting on Facebook where you can prevent your page from showing up in google results? I have mine set that way and last time I googled myself nothing came up from Facebook except some relatives with the same uncommon last name. Maybe that’s changed in the last couple months, but it definitely is/was an option.

    7. AnotherFed*

      For us, one of the few surefire ways to lose your job (or never get called to interview) is to post inappropriate things on social media, because that can cost you your clearance. No clearance, no job. We’re also subject to the Hatch act, which limits what political activities we can do, and my agency interprets that pretty strictly. We’re also required to keep things locked down pretty tight, but that’s basic internet security 101 and I’d be doing that anyway. The end result is a lot of people who have pretty bland profiles and don’t look like they should know each other.

    8. Anxa*

      I can’t tell you how anxious and withdrawn social media has made me.

      I used to hang out with a bunch of kids in high school and college. One of them video taped all of our parties. This was before smartphones. Well, over 10 years later and he’s uploading them all to facebook. I have been worried sick that videos of my underage drinking are going to be posted (not so much that it was illegal, but do I really need that published?). On the one hand, I know I probably need to take some responsible for any off-color comments I made, but on the other I hate to think that I’ll have to be judged based on who I was and now who I am now.

      What really bothers me is that this group of people came from really wealthy families, and I always felt stressed around them because they had absolutely no regard for consequences of actions. And it hasn’t changed! Ugh.

      This was an issue in college, too. I’d ask them please not to tag me in certain pictures, and they’d just do it more to tease me. They had no concept of a job being more important than having fun. They’ve never known unemployment or poverty or insecurity.

      (Yeah, I was never really close with these people, but my best friends were friends with them)

      1. Ghost Umbrella*

        You can untag yourself in other people’s FB pictures. You can also set it so you have to approve it whenever someone tags you.

      2. catsAreCool*

        A lot of people will probably realize that 10 years between college and now is a long time and that a lot of high school and college students do things they’re not proud of later.

    9. Ad Astra*

      I work in advertising and have been surprised at how, uhhh… casual (for lack of a better word) our approach to personal social media is. There’s not really a written policy, and we don’t spend a lot of time talking about what is or isn’t appropriate. Generally, I say whatever I want on Twitter (using my real name but not listing my job or company in my bio) and everyone in my office seems to be friends on Facebook. Drinking is fine; cursing is fine. Obviously stuff that’s racist or hateful would probably not be fine. It feels like we’re not expected to be “on” at all times, which I appreciate. But the NSFW photos, even if they’re tasteful or fairly tame, are sort of tricky. I would feel weird seeing my coworker like that.

      When I worked in banking, there was a much stricter policy and people were far more concerned about keeping up appearances.

    10. AliceW*

      I work in finance. Most large firms have a social media policy. You can be fired for inappropriate content. In addition if you post content about the company it could be viewed as an advertisement for the company by the SEC and must conform to their rules regarding advertisements. So my firm monitors employee linkedIn pages, twitter etc.

      1. Grumpy*

        Engineering here. Same company policy about firing anyone, instantly, for inappropriate content or posting something that embarrasses The Company (which happens surprisingly regularly). Yet The Company’s own site and Twitter page are horrifyingly bad. Many Coworker and Supervisor FB and LinkedIn pages are also cringeworthy.
        I don’t have any social media accounts myself, no regrets.
        Full disclosure: we can’t actually “Google” someone without their consent because of various laws, but I have refused to pass on an application from a friend’s daughter because her LinkedIn profile showed her passed out in a bar and I told him why I wasn’t passing the application along (meanwhile, around here power drinking is highly respected… ). So yeah.

        1. Grumpy*

          Oh, one more thing: The Company is trying to figure out how to handle employees bashing each other on FB when the accounts are private. Right now we ask the offended party to take a screen shot of the offending post and email it to HR and their supervisor. Any one with better ideas, please share!

            1. Grumpy*

              Because it can count as bullying, harassment and creating a toxic environment if someone refers to behaviour at work.
              Worst case so far involved someone who not a native English speaker believing that someone was threatening to burn down their house when they misunderstood a posting that was meant in jest.
              Often two employees will post nasty comments about a third employee’s actions at work (or worse, suggest they’re having an affair with someone) but the third employee can’t prove it because the post is private.
              It may be invasive buts it’s the reality we deal with.

    11. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      I do a lot of social media strategy, so I put a lot of emphasis on it. Often, clients will google the people on their project team. I’ve had people I am meeting for the first time ask me about races, or recent trips based on my instagram feed.

      In terms of monitoring employees or checking during the hiring process, I mostly just look for their privacy settings…i.e. do they have their facebook locked down so that I can’t see anything (which is perfect!) or do they have an open twitter feed that has inappropriate things.

      I’ve walked employees through updating their privacy settings and only once have I had to ask an employee to change their facebook profile picture (and that’s because the request came down from people above me).

      1. catsAreCool*

        If someone doesn’t have facebook locked down but is only posting harmless things, is that also considered OK? I don’t really trust faceook to be “private”, so I try to be careful about what I post as if anyone could look at it.

    12. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Only my Facebook and LinkedIn and a couple of other innocuous things are under my real name, and I almost never use FB and LI and have my FB set to friends only. My other online activity, including a Twitter feed, is either under my fiction-writing pseudonym or other pseudonyms – including the one I use here, which I don’t use anywhere else. HR and a few coworkers know my pen name and know about my writing (HR knows because of an intellectual property agreement). My Twitter definitely has some swearing, kinda-NSFW stuff, and a bit of sociopolitical soapboxing; sometimes I worry about someone at work reading it – or even my fiction – and objecting, but I doubt that’s likely. I certainly don’t reveal my employer or say anything disparaging or confidential about them.

    13. Irishgal*

      In a word Yes. Not sure where you are based but in UK and Ireland social media presence can lead to being sacked under “gross misconduct” rules. I worked in one company where anti-capitalists actively sought out posts by employees in an attempt to cause trouble and we were repeatedly warned not to post anything that could link back in any way to our employment directly or indirectly). More and more companies are having social media policies that allow for disciplinary action if you post anything that can be construed as offensive (shaming another personal characteristic of any kind e.g. racism, anti-LGBT, sexism etc). I’m even aware where people have had their posts captured as a screen shot and used against them professionally so no matter how private your settings once your post it’s fair game.

  18. Ruthie*

    It’s been made clear to me that I am the top candidate for a position very similar to the one I have now, but at or organization that works on an issue I am very passionate about, the kind of thing I go home and read about in my spare time and talk about to anyone who will listen. While the responsibilities are pretty linear, they’ve also made it clear that they pay is significantly less than what I am making now, which is a little above average. We’re having a phone conversation on Monday to discuss salary and to see if I’m willing to move forward in the process. I have a number in my head $7,500 less than what I am currently making, but I’m bracing for them to come with me at $13,500 less. Does anyone have any experience taking a significant pay cut? I’ve turned down another great job once before because of the pay, but am coming to terms that I will likely be facing a cut if I move into this field. I’m just trying to figure out what would be too much, and what I can ask for in return.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Ask for extra vacation time and/or a flexible schedule. You never know, they may surprise you with a better number.

    2. F.*

      From the employer’s point of view, pay is based on the employee’s value to the company in context of budgetary constrictions. I assume you have researched pay for the position in your geographical area and for the size of the new company. Large employers usually pay more than small ones, and can generally afford to offer better benefits. Pay is usually better in larger cities vs. the suburbs. From your point of view, do at least an outline of a monthly budget so you know what your financial needs are and what you can realistically live on. Do not count on automatic raises to make up a shortfall, in this economy raises don’t always happen.

      1. Ruthie*

        Definitely, and they sort of implied to me that there is across-the-board low salaries at the organization at the ED’s insistence, and that he is concerned about “parity,” so the hiring manager doesn’t have any flexibility when they come across rockstar candidates. This is dumb, but unfortunately common in non-profits in DC where I live, despite the cost of living.

        I’m an obsessive budgeter, so I know to the dollar what I need to get by, but I don’t know if I should just because I can. I’ve been talking with mentors and my boyfriend about what’s practical and what’s just too pragmatic for my own good.

        That’s a good point about automatic raises, thank you for your insights.

    3. BRR*

      Well the what would be too much is pretty dependent on your personal situation. Don’t forget to look at the insurance, vacation, retirement match etc. I agree with Master Bean Counter to ask for other things that might make it more attractive. Decide what your lowest realistic number is though and don’t accept anything below it, you’ll be unhappy.

    4. Chris*

      Do you actually know the salary range of the position? Or do they know what you are currently making? I guess I am wondering why you are so sure that the pay is significantly less. I also work in non profit, and I find that many people actually underestimate how much we pay and come into a negotiation at a disadvantage because they’ve already assumed they will need to take a pay cut.

      Of course, it’s smart to have a salary floor given your budget. You may know without a doubt that the salary will be lower, I just am not clear from the post.

      I always ask for an extra week of vacation/year no matter the offer, and I’ve always gotten it. You could also ask for a signing bonus.

  19. reference help!*

    Do you list your references with their current titles or what they had when you worked with them? One of my references has changed industries.

    I’m only in my second office after college, so all my references come from my first office (since the second doesn’t know I’m looking). Reference A is my last manager and I’d like to use Reference B, who was my other manager, but she’s gone off on a remote travel sabbatical (her husband writes books on remote destinations so she’s frequently unavailable by phone or email for long stretches of time). I was naive enough to not ask for a written recommendation when I left that office, and now Reference B is out of contact for the next 6-9 months.

    Would it be bad if I only had one managerial reference and two coworkers?

    1. Jwal*

      I would say give them both managers as references, explain the situation, and then say that you’d be happy to provide peer references if they’d like them. I’m pretty sure someone wrote into AAM with something like this before and that was what Alison advised.

    2. ModernHypatia*

      For references who’ve changed jobs, I do a “First Last (was Relevant Job Title at Previous Job)” on a single line, followed by their contact info, to give context for how they knew me. I may put the dates if it seems particularly confusing.

      For the reference who’s out of contact, when you’ve only had one previous job, you might only have had one possible manager, you know? If there’s someone else who’s managed you in another setting (an ongoing volunteer project or organization), it might be good to check and see if you can offer their name, but if you don’t have two managers, you don’t have two managers.

    3. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I usually list it like this:
      Current Position (previously Previous Position)
      Contact details

  20. whatperfomancereview*

    Ohhh, AAMers…I have been so incredibly down in the dumps lately about everything to do with work. Just as a small example, this week was my performance review, which consisted of 5 minutes of “you’re doing great!” and 55 minutes of “explain to me how to find documents on the shared file.” So frustrating!

    In the broader picture, I’m feeling so cynical that I’m considering a change from the international development sector to something more community-oriented. Not frontline social work, which I know would leave me even more burned-out, but something like communications work at a community centre. (Basically, I think that I need to feel a more tangible connection to people. As it is now, I’m just sitting at a desk writing proposals. If I win, we implement a semi-effective project. If another company wins, they implement a semi-effective project…So what?)

    Anyone made a similar career change? Thoughts on that, or the phenomenon of burn-out/cynicism more generally?

    1. Jules the First*

      I had one memorable annual review at old job which was two minutes of ‘you are amazing and please don’t ever leave’ followed by 87 minutes of ‘please tell us how to fix out broken company culture because we have no idea what we’re doing wrong’

    2. KW10*

      I also work in international development and I think cynicism/burnout is fairly common because people go into it expecting to “change the world” and quickly find out that the jobs are more about proposals, reports, regulations, bureaucracy, etc. That said, I wonder if switching to the program management / implementation side (instead of business development) might be more fulfilling because you get to help implement programs, work closely with the team in the field, travel to the location, and generally feel closer to the actual work on the ground. I’m a program manager and while it’s not like every day is super exciting, in general I really like it and I do feel like I’m at least contributing to important changes. The other route would be to develop technical expertise in an area (such as gender, m&e, maternal health, agricultural devel, rule of law, etc) so you would be working on the more substantive technical issues.

      1. whatperfomancereview*

        Thanks for replying! I have always been fairly cynical and knew that I was getting myself in for 99% writing reports and 1% “world changing,” but somehow the last little while has been particularly emotionally draining. I kind of fell into the business devt side of things, though I did enjoy it for a few years.

        I’ve considered both routes that you suggested and am much more inclined to go the technical expert route. I have some management experience on the ground in SSA and found it interesting but also quite frustrating. But on the technical side too, sometimes it seems like such a waste of time. We sit around conference tables and hold seminars to tell us what we already know (i.e. consult the beneficiaries! build local capacity! long-term investments! holistic approaches!). And yet we still don’t actually trust people in developing countries to manage projects!

        Maybe I have become disillusioned by “aid” in general. Not the *idea* of helping people in developing countries, but the way the donor-driven system operates.


        1. misspiggy*

          I work in the same field. For me there is satisfaction in navigating the system to deliver some positive change against the odds. The system is not set up well to deliver on poor people’s rights – it is set up to account for money, and to forward the interests of the people funding it. But with a great deal of wrangling, it is possible to support the creativity and strength of the people at the bottom. Sometimes genuine long term change occurs. There’s no other money coming for those people. If this very limited setup doesn’t sit well with you, there’s no shame in moving into another field.

      2. Apparatchic*

        I think this comment is great advice. I also work in ID, but I have a technical specialty (MEL), so my job is a really satisfying mix of the usual office work (proposals, reports, templates, analysis) and field work (implementation planning, proposal development, monitoring visits, baseline surveys). It mixes everything I love about statistics and data with everything I love about field work and travel. I find that without a technical specialty, a lot of people end up in either straight up program management or business development. This suits a lot of people, but not everyone.

        For whatperformancereview- I agree that cynicism is fairly common, and I have my share of skepticism about the aid industry, but my caution is not to discount what your organization or the industry is doing. I always try to remind myself that while I don’t agree with the donor-driven system and I hate the power dynamics and the smug, inherent racism that so many people don’t even think about, I also love that people work together on solutions to problems like poverty, inequality, and injustice, and I am in the best possible position to try and make that work better. That’s just my way of keeping my chin up when everything seems awful, don’t know if it helps at all.

  21. Tilly W*

    So, I came accidently came across a memo that stated layoffs would occur next Thursday at my work. (Not a big surprise, they’ve been happening across my industry.) I’m 50-50 that I will be part of the layoffs, maybe realistically 75 percent sure given my boss and senior team member’s interactions with me in the last week.

    Any advice on how to not lose my mind until Thursday? Like how do you not agonize and overanalyze every interaction during the days in between?

    I’ve been laid off before so I shouldn’t be having this reaction. I’m controlling what I can by taking the weekend to update my resume and take personal files off my computer etc. However, I woke up in a panic last night and couldn’t go back to sleep and I find myself really down about the whole thing.

    1. Jules the First*

      No advice, but I’ll be watching to see what other people say. My boss (not my flawed manager you’ve heard me complain about, but the amazingly talented woman we all worked for) died suddenly this week so I’m not even sure I have a job once the shock subsides.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        I’m so sorry for your loss. Whether or not she was someone you interacted with often, it’s clear that she had a strong influence on you and your work sphere. Best wishes with your job, whatever comes next.

        1. Jules the First*

          Yes, I do. And thanks – we’re all a little stunned. People keep wandering aimlessly through rooms and leaking unexpectedly in meetings. Hoping next week will be better…

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      Just plan on being cut and do what you can to prepare. That way if you don’t get cut it will be a pleasant surprise. Just know that everybody at work is going to be acting funny because of the layoffs anyway, whether it’s you or somebody else. This kind of situation makes everybody nervous.

    3. KiteFlier*

      Don’t beat yourself up for being upset and worried – who wouldn’t be? Reach out to any old coworkers who have already moved on. Contact temp agencies in your area. Make sure to take care of yourself!

    4. the.kat*

      Take care of yourself. When I know something bad is happening at work, I pack my favorite lunch, pick out my favorite outfit and stop for fancy coffee on my way. Whatever you use to self-soothe, adapt it to an appropriate level for work. When I was facing this situation, I packed everything that was in my drawers at work into boxes and left my picture frames, stress balls and anything on top of my desk out. I have that stuff out for a reason, because it makes me happy, and I needed it there.

  22. Persephone*

    After two years of a Director position and learning it’s not for me, I’m looking for a new place to work and I want to go back to an admin/support type role. I was really good at it and I really liked it, but I thought I wanted something with more leadership and that I needed to “move up” to succeed.

    I’m worried that by stepping away from a Director level that it looks like I am selling myself short, but I know I’m not. Is this imposter syndrome? I know what I want to do and what I’m good at, but why do I keep doubting myself that this will look like I’m “giving up” in the eyes of other employers?

    Also, what’s the best way to address this if it does come up in interviews?

    1. My two cents*

      I think you have to address it head on and perhaps even in your cover letter. It’s not a typical trajectory, so the hiring manager might worry that you’ll change your mind later and either leave the org or ask for a different role a few months in. I think things like “I find XYZ to be more fulfilling” are fine if they come across as compelling and non-defensive.

      Regarding the imposter syndrome, I think only you can know that. It’s definitely a real issue for lots of people and is worth considering. At the same time, I think it kind of sucks that in many careers advancement can only look a few ways, i.e. managing more and more people or taking on more and more hours/stress.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I went back to being an EA after having a management job in journalism – I found that I really hated the “managing” part of the job and just liked the “work” part. In interviews, I explained it by saying that I realized that I have a very “service-oriented” personality and that I am happier in a supporting role. Random aside: I make a lot more money as an EA than I did as a manager and I work fewer hours. Print media sure pays crap!

  23. De Minimis*

    We’re having an audit this week. Aiiiieeeee!

    I’ve never gone through this process before [my last employer I guess had significant internal controls to where there was no need for outside people to audit the individual facilities.] It’s odd because I was not here for the time period under audit, so in a way I feel like if anything’s wrong at least it’s not my fault.

    Been working 11-12 hour days since it started…not because I’ve been told to, but I know it would look bad if I didn’t. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

    1. Tiger Feet*

      I’ve been audited before (one month into a new job…) and fear of it is usually worse than the process itself!

    2. Apparatchic*

      YIKES. I have been there! My very first job out of grad school had me dealing with an IRS audit of two or three years before I started – and I was a foreign national there to boot! It is stressful, but don’t worry, you’ll get through it and if there’s a next time you’ll be way better prepared. :)

      1. De Minimis*

        Thankfully this is just the yearly audit for our financial statements, not tax related!

        Nothing is really bad, though I feel like more could have been done to prepare [and maybe over the course of this year I’ll try to plan things to where we can do better on that.] This is a case where I feel like our inefficient processes really come back to bite us.

        1. De Minimis*

          Today was the first frustrating day….I can’t really answer their questions well because I’ve just been here 5 months and am not really involved in every process yet. So that bugs me that I can’t really help out more.

    3. Sibley*

      I am an auditor. Spent 6 years in external audit, and 2 years now in internal audit.

      First, we’re people too. We’re just there to do a job. Be nice to us, we’ll be nice to you. Even if you make a mistake and get a finding, we write those findings – and believe me, if you’re trying to do things right, if you’re pleasant and responsive, then we’ll be a little gentler. Sometimes we can combine findings, reducing the total number. The less you’ve annoyed us, the more willing we are to put in the extra effort to do that.

      We tend to have a lot of knowledge. Not the newbies, but those of us with 2-3+ years experience have seen a lot of clients. We’ve seen plenty of ways to do things, and we know what works or doesn’t work. We may share that.

      If someone brings in treats for the whole office, feel free to offer them to us. But don’t pressure us to eat them. We often travel a lot, and are tired, stressed, eating poorly overall. Auditors at the Big 4 audit firms may be working 80-100 hours a week during busy season. Smaller firms are often fewer hours, but it’s still a lot. I used to travel 60%, and work 55+ hours a week, working from the hotel rooms at night, weekends at home.

      If we give you a list of documents (a prepared by client list or similar name), please check off every single item. And get the documents to us timely. If you don’t understand what something is, ask us! If you don’t know why we need it, ask us! If you’re having trouble getting something by the due date, talk to us about it. Not sure what format, how to send it? Ask! A good auditor will be happy to discuss, and will work with you as much as they can.

      If we’re internal audit – I work for the company too. Yes, I’m an auditor, but if you screw up it can hurt my bonus, my job security. I have a stake in it as well. I want to understand, I want to help. Work with me, and I’ll work with you. I’m a partner, and believe me, you’d rather I found the issue than the external auditors.

  24. Cubicle Zits*

    Somewhat embarrassing work beauty question: How to you keep yourself from breaking out at work?

    I don’t know if it’s dry air, stress, bad food, germs, or everything all together, but I find my skin gets noticeably worse on days I go into the office. Oily, itchy, and all sorts of fun new pimples. Any tricks? Or midday skin freshening tips? I don’t wear any makeup, so touchups don’t really need to factor in.

    1. the_scientist*

      Are you touching your face or resting your face in your hands while working? Be mindful of how often your hands touch your face during the day- if you spend a couple of days paying attention to that, I suspect you might be surprised at what you find. I am super guilty of this and have insanely sensitive skin so hand moisturizer + resting chin on hands = breakouts for days.

      If you get oily skin, you can stock up on blotting papers or even in a pinch the recycled brown napkins from Starbucks (it has to be the brown ones, regular white napkins don’t work) to blot oil throughout the day. I always have a stash of blotting papers in my purse/desk because I am a card-carrying member of the shiny face club and I hate it. Added bonus: blotting papers leave your makeup pretty well intact, if you wear it.

      1. Cubicle Zits*

        Ah, the face-touching…I can’t quit it! I know it’s my worst habit, but my skin starts to get itchy, and then it’s down the face-touching-more-zits spiral.

        However– there is an Sbux right across the street from me! I will have to test this out stat. Thanks for the tip!

      2. Jennifer M.*

        This is key! Touch your face as little as possible. This is also good advice for hair. I was wondering why my hairline was getting so oily – turns out I was being vigilant about moisturizing my hands, but then running them through my hair.

        1. SJ*

          ugh, yes. my bangs are really long right now because I’m growing my hair out, and I keep getting oily hair because I keep pushing my bangs out of my face. So annoying!

        2. Afiendishthingy*

          Also be careful with hair products- if I use hair products, I just put hairspray on my hands to apply it, then immediately wash my hands

    2. Ruthie*

      I sometimes use oil blotting tissues if I really need to look presentable in the middle of the day. Have you ever used micellar water before? Simple and Garnier have drugstore versions, and you can wipe your face off with a cotton ball with no need to rinse, so it’s a discreet way to clean your face throughout the day. Then there are those facial wipes, but those usually cause me to breakout more for some reason.

      1. Cubicle Zits*

        I have never heard of micellar water before, but this sounds like it’d be perfect! I can’t use facial wipes either, but I could definitely get away with a discreet swipe with something like this. Thanks for the rec, I’ll definitely try it out.

    3. ThatGirl*

      A few thoughts – do you use the phone a lot? Make sure it’s regularly wiped down with alcohol swabs/disinfecting wipes. Ditto for anything else you touch a lot, you may be transferring dirt/oil/etc to your face when you touch it. And make sure you wash your hands regularly.

      You could take some facial cleansing wipes (or even just baby wipes) in your bag and do a quick mid-day refresh, too.

      1. Cubicle Zits*

        That’s a good point– I don’t use my phone daily, so I’m not as vigilant at keeping it as clean as I should be. Time to go wipe down the keyboard and mouse too. Thanks, keeping my fingers crossed!

    4. Apparatchic*

      All the other suggestions are great; I would also add that introducing a mild exfoliant (chemical is best, but a GENTLE physical exfoliant is fine too) into your routine might help if your breakouts are related to dry skin. In the evenings, just wash your face, exfoliate, and moisturize with something that works for your skin. Exfoliating has really helped with my skin!

    5. MsMaryMary*

      Cosign to think about things that touch your face (hands, hair, phones, etc), but what do you do before/after work? The summer I commuted for an hour in Chicago traffic with no A/C was a disaster for my skin. Sweat + polution = major breakouts. If you work out before or after work, that could contribute too. Using wipes, toner, or micellar water after working out or commuting could help too. And stay hydrated at work! Drinking more water can’t hurt.

      1. Cubicle Zits*

        I never thought that pollution would have that much of an effect, but I do commute in a big city– will have to start accounting for that!

    6. Lillian McGee*

      I can see this being moved to the weekend open thread…
      If there’s a clear pattern, a dermatologist (or heck, even an esthetician) can maybe help you find a preventative treatment. In my opinion as a fellow acne-haver, I’d say since you don’t wear makeup, try moisturizing more. The oil may be your skin overcompensating because it needs more moisture.

    7. Sadsack*

      In addition to the good tips others suggested, are you eating anything at the office different than you normally eat at home? I instantly breakout from sugar. Consider if there is a candy jar or vending machine, or other food source.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, do you have the ability to drink water regularly at work? I know my breakouts get worse when I forget to refill my work water bottle and only drink coffee all day.

    8. voluptuousfire*

      Try the toilet seat covers you have in the bathroom stalls (if you have them). I learned that from some interview with Courteney Cox years ago I saw on TV and it actually works. It’s similar to blotting papers with soaking up the oil.

      Also, definitely drink more water if you’re not already. I can have pretty bad acne and that can be exacerbated by stress and I found out from my esthetician that my skin had dry patches because I was dehydrated. My skin went haywire during a really stressful period I had at my job at the time. I drank more water and started using a better moisturizer (I recommend Korres Greek Yoghurt Moisturizer. Pricey but worth it!) and it started to clear up.

      I also second keeping your phone/mouse/keyboard clean and the Starbucks napkins.

      1. Lillian McGee*

        I freaking love that Korres stuff but I had to stop buying it because my family was starving! (jk!)

    9. my two cents*

      My skin breaks out really bad when it gets too dry. I’ve since switched to Smashbox’s Photo Finish Oil Primer to help keep my face from drying out in Wisconsin winters.

      If you think it might be an allergy to something, maybe the dust in the air filter system at work causing you to itch more often, try taking an over the counter anti-histamine (I like Wal-atin 24hr, Loratadine) to see if it helps with the irritation.

      1. KWB*

        Yeah, this–if the office has drier air that might do it. Drink lots of water & moisturize?

    10. AFT123*

      Just a thought, but if you are open to it, try taking a mild allergy medicine like Claritin (or generic) everyday for a week or so and see if you notice any change. It sounds to me like it may be an allergy.

    11. CM*

      Since you don’t wear any makeup, could you wash your face and apply moisturizer when you get to work and maybe halfway through the day? Also, I don’t do this myself, but apparently it’s common for Korean women (who are famous for their skincare routines) to mist their faces using spray bottles throughout the day.

  25. Apparatchic*

    Long time reader, first time poster… hope this is okay!

    I hope it’s okay to post this; I did send a question in a few months ago but this is only related, not the same question. Basically, in February (after putting up with more than a year of conduct ranging from irritating to straight up gender-based bullying), my boss (I’ll go with Patricia) convinced me to register a formal complaint about the coworker who has been harassing me (let’s call him Jake). With the help of another member of our management team, we decided on a process that would shield me from taking Jake’s wrath directly – an outside party will interview all members of our team and then sit down with Patricia and Jake to discuss the problems he is causing.

    Our jobs involve a lot of travel and we work for a smallish nonprofit, if this makes a difference; both Jake and I have been traveling very frequently over the last month, as has Patricia. Particularly, Jake has been out of the office for the last 4 weeks, for work and on vacation.

    What I’m wondering is if anyone has any insight on what kind of timeline I should expect from Patricia on taking action on this. It has been about 7 weeks since I made the complaint; I asked after a month about where the process was and she said she was bringing it to our CEO the next day. Since then, I haven’t heard anything.

    Am I being unreasonable for wondering what the hold-up is? I have never dealt with this kind of issue before (in terms of a formal complaint; I have, unfortunately, dealt with a LOT of sexism and harassment in my relatively short career) and I don’t want to push if it does take a long time, but he comes back from vacation in about a week and I’m absolutely dreading it now.

    1. Boo*

      A formal complaint should have a set timeline, have you checked your company handbook/asked HR complaints for policies/procedures? Failing that, I’d drop Patricia a line and ask if she has an update or when you can expect one. I’m sure she’ll understand that it’s going to be preying on your mind a bit and I think she has been remiss in not being clearer about the process.

      1. Apparatchic*

        Sigh. Nonprofits! I did just go talk to Patricia and apparently the process has not only changed, but because the process we agreed on was not what was in the staff manual, my complaint is being treated as informal rather than formal. Which is fine – I prefer this method anyway, and am more than willing to escalate to a formal complaint if the behaviour doesn’t change – but would have been nice to know earlier.

        Anyway, she updated me that she is planning to address this issue at Jake’s performance review this month and then the team will sit with an HR advisor to discuss it. So at least SOMETHING is happening, even if it’s not the initial process we’d discussed!

    2. BuildMeUp*

      If it’s been about 3 weeks since you asked Patricia for an update, and Jake comes back in a week, then I think now is the perfect time to check in. It will probably depend on how your company handles complaints as far as the timeline goes, but checking in again now wouldn’t read as pushing to me at all. It’s been long enough since the last update, and I think it’s likely that it’s taken so long because Jake has been out of the office for the past month.

      Talk to Patricia and say you want to check in with her about how the process is going and would like to know what specific steps will happen when Jake returns. It’s totally reasonable to want to know what’s going to happen next.

      1. Apparatchic*

        I talked to her! I always get the sense that she really hates HR stuff like this (which is fair; it can’t be fun) and I had to explain that while, yes, I can work with Jake because I have become an absolute expert at smiling and nodding through metric tons of his crap, it does take a toll on me to have to do that in order to succeed at my job. (How many ‘jokes’ about one’s marital status can one person be expected to tolerate!?) As I mentioned above, she decided to treat my complaint as an informal complaint, but is still taking steps to deal with the behaviour, which is really all that matters to me.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I’m not sure she can do that. She’s your superior and you’ve reported it. They’re on the hook.

          1. Apparatchic*

            I’m a little bit upset that she didn’t take any time to talk me through this process and where she was with it and how she was interpreting it, to be honest, but to be fair I was adamant that I didn’t want to go through the usual complaint process which requires me to basically put a huge red target on my back with the colleague in question. Part of the problem is that there isn’t one big incident I can point to, it’s a list of dozens of “jokes”, mean comments, speaking in extremely derogatory terms about our partners… etc. What happened the last time I brought this up (not an official complaint, but more open than this time) was that I got the silent treatment for three months until he decided we were pals again. And since my job performance relies on this guy’s input and access to his projects, that was not ideal.

            It sounds so crappy and unfair when I write it out, but I don’t know how else to handle it without torching my ability to do my job and exposing myself to yet more BS from an insecure jerk who seems really great at identifying weak spots.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              So it is a long-term pattern of gender based comments. And then he retaliates when you tell him to stop.
              Uh, that clearly qualifies for sexual harassment. This isn’t maybe.
              Your manager should be taking care of this. You should not be minimizing this. It will only get worse.
              If you have a competent HR department they should be freaking.

              1. Apparatchic*

                I literally just buried my face in my hands, because the worst part is, I KNOW. I know, and I would tell anyone else the same thing, but… it’s like, my manager takes it seriously when I’m obviously upset, but once things have calmed down, not so much. And I probably do minimize it, because I’m in the most junior role in the department and I lost my last job because of my insane, sexist, addict boss, and I really *like* my job and hate causing problems. Except when fielding crap from this guy.

                (We do not have a competent HR department. Or even a person who is trained in HR. We have a staff manual? That actually says exactly what you say about complaints? But that obviously only works if the person in question is brave enough to go through the formal process.)

    3. Undine*

      Could you go to Patricia and say exactly that: “Jake is coming back next week, and I’m worried about it. Is there anything you can tell me about where we are in the process?”

      1. Apparatchic*

        Thanks so much for this – I basically used exactly these words and having a bit of a script helped a lot. She was surprised I was nervous, because before Jake left last month I had just been coping by pretending everything he said was perfectly inoffensive and she thought I was fine. Which was not the case, but I get it.

        1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

          Just in case someone hasn’t yet said this to you:

          It is okay to NOT be fine. It is okay to be upset, and to act upset, and to get upset. You are being harassed, and that is okay, and it is okay for you to speak up and to be heard and to say, this is NOT okay.

          It is also okay if you decide that you need to leave this position.

  26. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    My job recently completely changed my duties and I’m looking. It kinda sucks because I really thought this job would be more long term, but they essentially told me that unless I’m able to do these new duties successfully that the business won’t be able to afford to pay me. I know in small businesses people wear many hats (and I’m happy to do that), but they basically changed me to sales which is NOT in my expertise at all. :-/ Bummed that this job is coming to an end, but I’m hoping something even better will come along.

    1. T3k*

      I feel for you. My current job (that I’ve now decided to quit) is very similar: small business, wear all the hats and turned what I was hired to do from 75% of my job to 40%. Hope you find something that’s a better fit soon ^.^

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      My sympathies. When my last job started moving in the direction of herding cats…er managing sales people, I stepped up the job search.

  27. KS*

    I’ve been at my job for 7 months. Another person was hired about a month before me. they told us both there was unlimited opportunity for growth but I feel like he’s getting all the attention and opportunity for growth. I’m in a support role and I feel like they’ve just written me off as following the standard support role track but I honestly don’t want that. Is it too soon to start applying for another job?

    1. EA*

      I would say it depends on your job history if you can afford to leave after 7 months. I did it to leave one horrific situation but don’t want to do it again. Have you tried specifically asking? Something like “Part of the reason I took this job was that I am very interested in growth opportunities, while I enjoy support work, I am also interested in exploring X. Is there any projects or opportunities in that area?”

      1. KS*

        Currently my job history consists of working for my family business for 7 years (5 years while college and 2 years full time out of college) and a couple of temp jobs sprinkled in when I was trying to leave the family business. This was originally a temp job and they decided to keep me. Another gripe I have with the company is that I’m not eligible for benefits until I’ve worked here for 6 months but it doesn’t include my 3 months of temp work. So no benefits for another 2 months.

        I’ve thought about sitting down with my boss but he’s never around. He travels a lot for work.

        1. EA*

          I would stay, given your job history. This is your first perm non family job. I would wait until you get to your 6 months of benefits and ask for a review/feedback. Then bring this up. Other then your boss, do you have any friends/senior coworkers at work who can help you? Just to bounce ideas off of? Talk to those people, they might know how to best approach your boss. If you can come up with some career goals (other than not being an admin any longer, think I want to do X because Y, that can help).

          I don’t think your situation is terrible yet, you need to work on figuring out if they will eventually give you growth opportunities, and then reassess.

    2. whatperfomancereview*

      Well, I suppose it depends in part on what past job history. It seems that Alison’s general rule of thumb is that you’re allowed one “job hop” for every 5-7 years or so. (Or maybe I’ve wildly misinterpreted some she’s said!)

      But first of all, it sounds like you may not have explored all your options with this firm. It’s performance review time of year for most companies– why not raise your concerns during this review and clearly express that you’re eager for other professional development opportunities? Even if you’re not scheduled for a review, why not identify some conference/seminar/presentation that you’d be eager to go to (related to your field of course), and ask your boss to attend that. You can use that to open up a broader conversation about how you’d like more opportunities for growth.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t know that I’d say every 5-7 years; it really depends on the total picture of your job history. Generally, you get one, and that one needs to last you for a long time. So if you leave now, you need to make absolutely sure that wherever you go next, you’re going to stay for a solid amount of time.

  28. EA*

    Does anyone have suggestions for finding a company that actually deals with performance concerns? I am in my late 20s and have worked at 3 companies in 2 different field. At all of the jobs, people were not fired. At my current job, a girl in another department SLEEPS on the job and they are trying to get rid of her, but failing. The process involves months of written warnings PIPs . Most people are mediocre and don’t get promoted, but they can languish in their jobs forever. Solid performers seem to move up. It is not a bad company to work for, I mostly like my job. It is just bureaucratic.

    I know I should ignore it, but I get frustrated when I have to pick up the slack from coworkers on facebook all day long. Or when everyone leaves early. I’m not planning on leaving anytime soon, but I want to start screening for this in job interviews. I am not interviewing for management positions, so i am not sure how appropriate it is for me to ask about this.

    1. ann perkins*

      I feel your pain. At my company, you have to fail two of the SAME PIPs before getting fired (so if you failed a performance one and then they put you on one for tardiness and you failed that one, you’d STILL have a job). It is REALLY hard to get fired here because no one wants to put in the effort of putting someone through multiple PIPs. Therefore a ton of people here get away with coasting or flat out doing nothing, and it is frustrating to watch. I am not sure there are many companies out there that deal with things like this (at least in my experience there are not).

      I feel the same way – like I should ignore it, expect when the slackers are directly impacting my team. Then it’s impossible to ignore, but STILL the managers do nothing.

    2. AnotherFed*

      In my experience, this is less an overall company culture thing and more an individual manager thing, though it is harder to get a good manager in a place that’s overall bad at weeding out bad employees. So, interview your hiring manager right back – ask things like why the position is open, how he/she prefers to give feedback, how much of the job relies on inputs from others/teamwork, what they expect good vs great to look like, etc. Those will give you a sense of what the minimum standard is, what they do about people who don’t meet it, and whether crappy performers will be able to get in your way.

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

    We have an occurrence attendance system at work. Basically if you call in sick you get an attendance occurrence. If you’re late, it’s a punctuality occurrence. If you get 7 (not sure if it’s total of either category or separate) then you get written up. More and you could be terminated. You can call in up to 3 days in a row and it counts as one occurrence (after that they want you to look into FMLA) and if you have an intermittent FMLA set up for health or other issues, then you won’t get an occurrence if it’s for one of the covered issues. Also, it’s within a rolling calendar year. So if you called in sick March 31, 2015, that one is no longer on your list since it expired yesterday.

    I know Alison has mentioned these in the past and I believe she’s called them lazy management because it’s treating everyone as children and the same. However, recently in a meeting management said that they are doing this to basically cover them, legally, to prove they are treating everyone the same. So if say Wakeen gets terminated for calling in sick 9 times but Cersei calls in sick 9 times and doesn’t get terminated, Wakeen could say he got terminated because of discrimination reasons.

    So my question is, is the legal issue really a reason to use this system? I don’t call in sick a lot, I just think it’s an idiotic system. And if I’m going to get an occurrence for being 10 minutes late, why not just take a half day since they count the same.

    1. De Minimis*

      One of my former employers was even worse, they just had attendance occurrences, so if you were 5 minutes late it was treated the same as if you’d not come in at all. Made attendance even worse, which is usually what happens with these type of policies. The saying was, “Going to be late? Burn ’em for 8….”

      1. Artemesia*

        My daughter’s school did this. If they were 3 minutes late (and many took public buses and that could happen) they were charged with missing half a day. So lots of kids were having coffee at the nearby Starbucks when they would be late.

        1. RKB*

          At my old high school the automated phone system would call home and say that we were late or absent. Never specified which one. Got to the point where if I was late enough, I just skipped…

          … I’m a phD student now and wish I could still pull that off.

    2. fposte*

      I guess it saves the trouble of thinking individually. But it also sounds like your company doesn’t offer sick days, so maybe they should start doing that as a better way of avoiding the problem.

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

        We just have a PTO pool. You get an occurrence for any absence that’s not requested at least 48 hours in advance. Other than bereavement or FMLA.

        I actually knew someone who was a temp, so she had some occurrences because she wasn’t stupid and didn’t believe their line that she’d get hired on after 90 days and had taken time to interview. When her last occurrence happened she was fired, despite the fact that it was due to her having a stroke and she was still in the hospital.

        1. fposte*

          You get an occurrence if you don’t know you’re going to be sick 48 hours in advance? That’s seriously dumb.

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

            Yep. Any unscheduled absence. Also, since my previous boss walked out about a month ago (second one in less than a year) I have no idea how many I currently have. I have a rough idea, but I’m not certain. I know it’s > 1.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, it’s BS. (You can look to the fact that the vast majority of companies don’t use this system to indicate that, for one thing.) It’s lazy management. You can treat different workers differently based on performance, the circumstances, and all sorts of other reasons. The only reason you’d use a system like this is if you didn’t want to deal with nuance or judgment calls, and/or if you were so highly risk averse that you allowed it to trump literally every other consideration.

      1. Edward Rooney*

        It’s not always BS, my wife has always had this policy related to working as a RN in a hospital. If you call out sick (usually it happens from 3-12 hours before your shift started, it can be a struggle (or expensive in the case of agency) to find a replacement worker, and it can be considered a liability if it affects the patient ratio. It is a way for management to track things in a reportable manner when they don’t work the same shift/days as their employees.

        A similar issue can occur with punctuality issues, forcing a worker to stay late when working 12 hour shifts can affect the amount of time they have to sleep before their next shift, or create bad morale with having to wait for Suzy to get to work in order to provide updates.

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

          We’re not nurses. No one is going to die if someone calls in, and no one has to stay late or cover a shift. I can totally see it in a situation like that though.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          So basically an employee has to work sick. I never understood this. And a sick worker is not a liability to the patients? It just does not make sense to me. FWIW, I think nurses, overall, have very harsh working conditions.

          1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

            Yeah, knowing nurses personally, that’s a whole can of worms that no one wants to open.

            Hospitals (and other care facilities) are grossly understaffed, those who do the grunt work are horribly underpaid, and they work insane shifts that often put them in a severe state of sleep deprivation. It really makes me want to go to the hospital!

    4. MsMaryMary*

      Do you work in a unionized environment? My brother works in unionized retail/sales has the exact same attendence system. He figures that it got bargained in somewhere and management decided to micromanage attendence in return for giving up something else.

      His perspective is a bit biased against management, but I am curious about the kinds of workplaces that have these policies.

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

        No. I see this most often in call center environments. Two previously that I’ve worked in, but in the first instance I wasn’t in the call center and wasn’t subject to it, the second one was a call center job. My role here isn’t in the call center but I fall under “Member Services” which does include the call center.

        I know they are also doing this to avoid any semblance of favoritism, which is ridiculous because it’s very obviously apparent in every other aspect of how management operates. Like who gets promoted, who gets better assignments, etc.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          One of my friends works for the financial side of a national brand, and they have a similar policy.

          Though if they have three occurrences in a three month period, they can be fired. As you can imagine, her office is filled with sick people constantly.

    5. orchidsandtea*

      My husband’s work uses this. It’s a hospital system. Particularly asinine considering how often new nurses and techs get sick their first year.

    6. Engineer Girl*

      You have to treat employees equally. That means NOT treating them the same.
      Their claim of legal compliance is pure silliness.

    7. Karowen*

      That’s like the idiots that say you can’t give a negative reference because of legal reasons. It’s the easiest, laziest way to apply a general principle. “Need to make sure we’re not lying” becomes “Need to say the bare minimum.” “Need to make sure we’re not discriminating” becomes “Need to create an idiotic system.”

    8. Irishgal*

      Where are you? In UK these types of measurements can be used to trigger the attendance monitoring process however once triggered each situation, by law, must be considered on it’s individual merits and circumstances not by blanket approach. So everyone with Score X will be called in for a conversation (consistency of overall approach) but the outcomes of the conversation will vary from there depending on the individual circumstance. So your management may have gotten the wrong end of the stick about the fairness aspect.

  30. Just Me*

    Anyone have advice on networking? I know it’s something I need to work on both inside and outside of my company but it feels so…unnatural. I’d love some tips for how to naturally expand my network beyond those I work with day-to-day. I’m at a fortune 500 and eventually would like to move to a different part of the company where I don’t have any contacts.

    1. Sweet Potato*

      Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to organize things. Do things that you enjoy doing, whether it’s a teapot design lecture or a teapot makers happy hour. It’s all good as long as you’re meeting people. And don’t be afraid to ask people about their jobs and express interest in their field.

      Also, don’t sweat the awkward moments that sometimes go with networking. The point is to show up and meet new people. It gets easier the more you do it.

    2. CM*

      I would think of it as making new friends (or at least friendly acquaintances) and taking the opportunity to learn more about your industry. If you’re networking within your own company, it’s even easier. If there’s some work-related excuse you can use for getting in touch with people outside your current network, great. If not, you could say to a coworker, “Hey, I’m interested in learning more about Division X. Do you know anybody there who I could talk to?” Or you could just look up somebody in the company directory and stop by their office or send them an email saying, “Hey, I work in Division Y and I’m interested in learning about the work you do. Could I buy you coffee sometime and chat with you about it?”

  31. March*

    Does anyone have advice fir when team relations suddebly foul and people become spitey?

    To make a very long story short, the are people in my class who, out of nowhere, started verbally attacking someone in my class who was responsible for planning a group activity, who I’ll call Jane. They said some very nasty, rude things, and are now going out of their way to spite Jane on endless things. Jane has admitted that they’ve made her cry and she isn’t a super emotional person. Jane volunteered to plan the activity and now she doesn’t know why she’s bothering. She’s one of my closest friends and I’m not sure how to go about making the spitefulness end. Any help?

    1. fposte*

      If they say anything to you, push back calmly. “I haven’t found that to be true about Jane, actually. And she’s my friend, so please don’t talk about her that way in front of me.” And be supportive of Jane. If this is a class activity/assignment, suggest to her, if she’s already talking to you about it, that it might be worth going to the professor and saying that Bob and Roberta are being personally vindictive on the project and she’s finding it hard to do it–is there an alternative? If it’s an extracurricular, point out that she absolutely can just bail.

      But don’t actively seek involvement in the situation. All that does is make it bigger, which is the opposite of what you want to do.

      1. March*

        Thanks for the tips. It’s unfortunate because we’re literally a couple weeks away from graduating, and before this we were a very tight-knit class. Most people seem to agree that the couple being spiteful are just really doing it out of nowhere and a few are really supporting Jane. Since Jane and I are both members of the committee planning these events (unfortunately it’s for planning graduation week activities, so it’s hard to bail at this point), I’ve told her that I’ve got her back, and the people on the committee who know about it are the same.

        I’ll definitely shut down any spite I hear, and remind her that she has a lot of support. Thanks!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I find that the people who are not doing the work, complain the loudest. No idea why this happens but it does.

          Definitely push back, even if it is just to say, “Sounds like you want to help. You could work on X because no one has gotten to that yet.”

          But do have a few stock replies ready to go:

          “That remark was not necessary. It does not help the process.”

          “Why don’t you help Jane rather than criticizing what she does? Maybe you can get that particular problem fixed yourself.”

          “You know. I have heard several people complaining already. I have to wonder if they are just nervous about graduating and going out into the world, maybe that is the real issue here. Lashing out at Jane won’t fix that.”

          “That’s odd. You know, everyone seems to think Jane is doing a great job.”

          This is just to give you an idea, you can craft some stock replies that fit your situation closer than what I have here. When you plan out what you will say, you will find that helps some. Encourage Jane to do the same, create a couple of go-to responses to this drivel.

  32. Peeps!*

    I’m trying to make the jump from individual contributor to a management role and know I need to get some leadership experience under my belt. Everyone in my dept tends to work on their own projects alone so I’m struggling to find ways to exercise those leadership muscles in a way that would hopefully get noticed by my manager. Anyone have suggestions?

    1. Jubilance*

      Does your company have affinity groups or employee resource groups you can take a leadership role in? That’s a great way to get leadership experience in a safe environment.

    2. CM*

      In addition to Jubilance’s excellent suggestion, could you identify any projects that would improve life in your department and take them on? For example, you’ve always wished you had a system for processing teapot handles. If putting that system in place is within the scope of your work, you could talk to colleagues to gauge their support and bring a plan to your manager for making it happen.

    3. SS*

      Management isn’t always about managing other people. It’s also managing situations, problems, schedules, etc. I got into management by enthusiastically showing initiative. For example: offering to write up templates or standards that don’t exist but would be helpful, or asking to be the point of contact for a client or consulants, becoming more tuned in to your boss’ role (like asking or showing concern about a project schedule when you aren’t usually involved in that aspect). The most important part of management for me has always been about “seeing the bigger picture. If you clearly express interest in management to your higher ups, and take on small initiatives like this that show you are thinking about things in the grander scale, people will take notice.

  33. Paige Turner*

    Automating tasks for your job-
    I’ve read a lot of comments/posts here where people say something like, “The person before me left this job saying that she was overworked and couldn’t get everything done. I was able to automate a lot of tasks though, and I get everything done and still have time to do other things!” I’m in an admin position looking to get back into a research position related to my social science MA, and automating tasks interests me, but I don’t really understand it. Can anyone give examples of the types of tasks that you have or could automate to make your job easier?

    1. super anon*

      When I have to send mailings to a large group of people (anything more than 5) I’ll use mail merge to send it out for me. It takes me the same amount of time to set up the mail merge as it would to send one email, so it’s worth it.

      If you have to sort through data, you can find ways to automate that process in excel. In my last position I used pivot tables to quickly extra data from large excel files. My predecessor counted everything by hand so it took him a lot longer than me to get it done.

      1. super anon*

        Oh, and in my last office we had a wiki page that needed to be taken down because of security issues. People in the office wanted someone to copy and paste each page into word by hand, but instead someone wrote a python script to automate the data pulling process.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      One simple example of automating something I did was using Excel. Instead of manually keying in an employee’s id, name, and title on various forms, I used VLOOKUP in Excel to automatically fill in the name and title when I entered in the employee’s id. It may not sound like much but it did reduce time and errors. For example, if I typed in the employee-id wrong, nothing would show up and then I would know that I did something wrong. I also used conditional formatting to verify that total of the columns matched the total of the rows and also matched the total of all of the individual cells for an expense report. Again, it didn’t same that much time but it did catch a bunch of errors which did save time.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      I set up really nice excel templates where I can just dump downloads in and get what I want on the first page. Saves a ton of time.

      1. TheLazyB*

        !!!!!! This would make my life so much better!!! How can I find out more…. Just google excel templates or is there something better to look for????

        1. Master Bean Counter*

          I create mine. I look at the finished product and figure out how to get there from the raw dump. Expect to spend an hour or two setting one up.

    4. Persephone*

      I don’t know if this is so much automation but better process. At my old job I inherited a monthly report when another employee left. I forget exactly what it was, but I had to run the previous month-end numbers and input them into an already established template. What my predecessor did was take numbers from the report and manually add them together in the formula line. The problem was, there were at least 20 numbers for each cell so it was difficult to find an error. And with the manual entering, there was almost always an error so the report took her forever.

      The first time I did it, I took the numbers from the report, copied them into another worksheet, then did a basic sum formula from the main page. Took 5 minutes.

    5. Lillian McGee*

      Not automation, but definitely helps with efficiency: dual monitors (or having the capacity to work two programs side-by-side).
      My predecessor trained me to run a list of formulas in Excel, write down each number in the list, then type those numbers into a list in Quickbooks. Nahhh!

    6. Mockingjay*

      If you think of automating tasks as information and process management, you can come up with all kinds of improvements. Consider what would help your team, not just you.

      Standardize: templates, forms, reference materials. Gather them in one location. Post links to frequently used stuff.

      Storage: Accessibility is key. If the company has a server or SharePoint or cloud storage, make sure you are using that instead of your desktop. Set up a standard folder system. You don’t have to have an expensive system. Use what you have.

      Tracking: Who needs What and When? At ExJob, we didn’t have a way to track large numbers of documents during development and delivery to the customer. I started with a Word table of doc info: owners, due dates, routing status, etc., which I eventually converted into Access and had one of our web developers import it into the main SharePoint landing page for all to see. Even a simple Excel sheet posted somewhere can help, as long as it is visible.

      Priorities: Who decides tasks? Who do you go to when both A and B are due this afternoon? What’s the process for getting a decision? Capture that, whether SOP, email, workflow.

      Let us hear back from you in a few weeks. I bet you come up with some awesome ideas!

    7. orchidsandtea*

      I use templates for most of the emails I send, including certain everyday reports for my boss. Yesware’s templates are highly customizable (and the tracking is optional), where Gmail’s built-in Canned Conversations is pretty static. But it greatly speeds up most of the emails I send so I’m not fussing over language—I even have a starting-point template for asking what people want to focus on for a meeting. Very useful for an overthinker.

      I also have set labels that I copy/paste into our CRM to track what I’ve done with each client. “4/1/16 Sent email on mocha spout offering.” “4/1/16 Asked for meeting on the lid-fitting issue.” It’s such a small thing, but not having to retype it (or even think about it) saves me so much time.

      I have a standardized project proposal form, and a standardized intro template. Update whatever’s in red, triple-check that there’s no red left, and send it off.

      I’m looking for a class to learn about mail merges and Excel. The library has one, but only on weekday afternoons!

      1. Paige Turner*

        Oh, I’ll have to look into the templates, thanks! I already do something similar by saving common messages in google drive.

    8. Golden Yeti*

      I don’t know if this is applicable because it’s a Thunderbird add on, but I use Send Later a lot. I can immediately compose emails that need to be sent on X date, and I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll remember to send it on the day.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      You can do a lot of automation with Excel. For example, let’s say you have two extremely long lists you want to de-dupe. Put them both into an Excel workbook (one on each sheet), and then use VLookup to see which values in one sheet match on the other. I’ve seen a lot of people de-dupe lists by eye, which can be extremely time-consuming and imprecise.

      You can also use the EXACT formula to check dupes within a sorted single list or use a simple formula with & signs to combine a bunch of cells.

      These are all things I’ve seen people do manually, and it’s painful to watch.

      1. TheLazyB*

        EXACT??? *makes note to look this up*

        I have become so much better with excel since starting this job. I’m currently working on a biannual task and I’m so much better at automating what I need to do than I was last time. It’s awesome.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, you sort the list, and then in the column next to it, you just put in a formula like

          =EXACT(A2, A3)

          and then copy that all the way down the column. If there’s a duplicate, you’ll see TRUE instead of FALSE.

    10. LCL*

      Payroll. I spend hours on complicated shift worker pay- we have two different classifications that do the same job, their base pay is the same but some premium pay is different, some is the same, vacations and sick pay are different by classification.
      Of course this should all be automated, it is the kind of mindless number crunching meant for computers. Because there isn’t any judgement involved, the hours are what they are. it hasn’t been automated for 2 reasons 1. I don’t have the computer/IT chops to do it. 2. The system would have to be changed by the payroll group, and they are too busy administering pay for 1700? employees.

      1. RKB*

        This sounds like my job, expect there’s 13,000 employees. So I can see why they hire people to go over it manually — a mistake in automation would be a thirteen thousand person mistake.

    11. Liza*

      Paige, the very basic idea is to think of tasks that you do repeatedly, and then look for ways to make the process more efficient. (Others have given some great specific examples, but when I’m learning a new concept it’s helpful to have someone state the concept itself, so there it is.) There’s not much benefit to automating a task you do once a year, but if it’s something you do a lot more often than that, it can be great.

      Once you’ve identified some tasks that could benefit from being automated, then you can start thinking about how to do it. One of the simplest things you can do in this category is to re-use text you’ve written already by just copying and pasting it instead of composing fresh text each time. You may already be doing some of that! Writing Python scripts and all is great, but I don’t want you to think you have to learn to program in order to get the benefit of automating tasks.

      1. newreader*

        Very much this. I’ve automated and streamlined many processes and tasks because I figured there had to be a better way when dealing with recurring, routine, and tedious tasks. I often just Google “how to (whatever the task is)” and find lots of resources, such as articles and tutorials, about a vast array of helpful tips and processes.

      2. Paige Turner*

        Thanks! I unfortunately don’t have much to do at my current job, which makes it hard to think of examples based on my own experience. It’s been very useful to read some ideas that I can hopefully use in the future.

    12. Ife*

      I started out as a database developer, so when I hear automation I think about reports and writing code to look up values/auto-complete forms. At my first job, I worked at a university providing services to students. We used a database to track all our orders for the semester, which were due at different times. When I started, the process I was taught was, “I scroll through all the entries and figure out which ones are due next” (yikes). By the end of it, I created reports in that database that would say what’s due in the next week, month, etc. Then I could just print out the report and in about 2 minutes be confident I knew exactly what was due this week. At my next job, we had the server run reports for us every day/week/month and email them to the correct people. No need for anyone to remember to pull the numbers, they just showed up in their inboxes on Monday morning (or whenever).

      I have also done things like set up rules in Outlook to route emails to a particular folder so I can deal with them all at the same time. I also like to use “Delay Delivery” to send an email later (really good for sending those “I will be out of the office on XX day” emails, which I think about all week leading up to it but then forget to send the day before!).

    13. LabTech*

      In my case, we have a huge spreadsheet of results each day that we have to do quality control checks on. I wrote code (An Excel macro; there’s an abundance of demos on how to get started with macros.) that would look for the quality control samples, record the associated sample ID, then look for that sample ID in the rest of the spreadsheet. The second tedious part was deciding which values to for redundancies, so I wrote code to decide which one to pick. The third, most tedious, part, was making sure the values that we were expecting all up-to-date, so I made a second workbook that listed all the values we had used, and associated dates, so that you only have to enter in new values once, and can go back and forth between different dates. Finally, I added color-coding, so it would highlight something in red if the error percentage was too high, and yellow if it didn’t spit out a number.

      It’s a bit more buggy than I’d like, but it saves time for more typical runs, and started me off on a project to fine-tune how we’re generating these numbers (which I’ll get to as soon as I fix all these bugs).

    14. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      I am persnickety about the term “Automation” because in my opinion it is not “automated” unless it is completed at the touch of a button. I will provide some examples of processes I have automated, semi-automated, and streamlined.

      Old process. Take data. Manually filter. Copy into template specific for department. Save template as “Month Department” report. Repeat for each department. It took 30 minutes per department.

      Automated process: I redesigned the template to be dynamic enough to handle each departments data. I created a macro that takes the data extract, filters for each department, copies to template, and saves the template as the department name. Now the monthly process once the data is available is “click button” wait 2 minutes.

      Old process: Run reports A, B, and C. Copy sections from each report into a template to create “Combined”report.

      New process: I created a macro to pull the relevant data from each report. Run reports A, B, and C. Run Macro. “Combined” Report is updated.

      Process Improvement/Stream-lining:
      Old process. Copy TPS Data into TPS report template to create TPS report. Copy TPS report into TPS analysis template to create TPS Analysis report.

      New Process. Create new report with two reporting tabs: TPS report and TPS Analysis. This template will have updated formula’s eliminating the need to copy and past the TPS report into the TPS analysis templte. Copy the TPS data into the new template.

  34. Master Bean Counter*

    Excel people—
    Is there a good way to line up rows from two different tables so that one value matches?
    If I have one table that is columns a-f and one that is h-m I’d want the values in columns c and g to line up and take the rest of their perspective rows with them.
    Is there a good way to do this that I haven’t found yet?

    1. Silver Radicand*

      You mean have the tables simply displays that same numbers?
      If so, just put “=C1” in G1 and drag the marker in the bottom right corner to the end of the table. Then drag it down to the bottom of the table and second table cells will draw their values from the values in the first table.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        No I mean value in c3 is the same as the value in h7. So I want A-F3 to move down so it lines up with H-M7.
        And I just realized that g7 was a bad pick because it isn’t part of the second table. So we’ll just pretend I said H7.

    2. Just Me*

      Have you tried doing a custom sort with levels? Highlight the whole area with data (A1-F30) and on the home tab click ‘sort and filter’–>’custom sorts’. You can sort by numerical order but you can also specify the exact list order and everything else in the other column will reorder in the same way.

        1. Master Bean Counter*

          Does that work if one table has more values in it than the other one? Table one may have 1,5,9 and table two may have 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.

  35. Ruthie*

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s usual for an office to have poor performers who just sort of get away with it. Termination in general is a long process because of the legal liability, which is why I coached out my low performing report. My teammate works much shorter hours than me and accomplishes very little, but is a self-promoter, so everyone adores him. It’s annoying, but at the end of the day, I’m paid to be here and it’s not like I do this for fun, so I just consider it “part of the job” since it’s out of my control.

    To ensure that you’re good performance is being recognized, put together a list of your accomplishments and make sure your managers know how you’ve been contributing. If your office isn’t good about performance reviews, request a meeting and show them your accomplishments and ask for feedback.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I alway Santa weekly activity report to my management. It talked about my accomplishments, plans for the next week, challenges. It also discussed resolutions to problems. It was a way to quietly self promote that didn’t feel pushy.
      At the end of they year round up all the activity reports and use the accomplishments in your performance review.
      I found it to be helpful because I actually would forget everything I had done.

      1. fposte*

        +1 for the idea, +10 for the wonderful typo. “Ho, ho, ho–who’s been a good little manager this week?”

  36. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

    I work at a large public university (which is *not* in Louisiana) as a non-exempt staff member and I feel like a fourth class citizen at work. In the first class is the tenure track faculty. In the second class is the non-tenure track faculty. In the third class is exempt staff and in the fourth class is the non-exempt staff. As non-exempt staff we do not get the same benefits as the other three tiers (we do not get matching retirement funds), exempt staff accrue annual leave at a higher rate than non-exempt staff (except for those non-exempt employees who have been here for over 20 years) and non-exempt staff are at a lower priority for getting football tickets (unless we have more than 15 years of service). Trust me the football ticket thing is a big deal around here.

    Further, the staff overall has no voice in pretty much anything. My department is very rare case in that we actually get to attend the faculty meetings but we are only guests. However, we cannot even move or second the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting. Per university policy, the staff has no official voice in hiring faculty members, department heads, deans, etc. This includes the secretary to a department-head/dean who does not have any official voice in hiring his/her boss who that person works with daily but every faculty member has an official vote even if they are on-line only instructors who rarely deal with the department-head/dean directly. Per university policy no-staff member is a default member of the search committee for a department-head/dean. (Granted there is one slot which is appointed by the provost and that can be a staff member but that rarely happens).

    Overall, as a staff member, especially as a non-exempt staff member, we have worse benefits and only in a few cases do we have any voice in the University. I am wondering, is this normal for a public university or is it just where I work.

    1. super anon*

      I work at a large, public university in Canada and this seems similar to what we do. The different management groups and unions all have different benefits packages that vary widely. Tenure & tenure track faculty here have a benefit that helps with buying a home that isn’t available to staff, for example. Some of the union benefits are better than the benefits the salary staff get as well. Our pension matching is based on salary, so those who are paid more get more pension funds from the university.

      In my unit, only core staff attend faculty meetings, and often they’ll have in-camera sessions about staffing decisions, etc. I don’t know for sure if the staff have direct say in hiring, etc but I don’t think they do.

      As staff we have unions and management associations who speak for us as a group to the university at large. I don’t know if our presidential search committees have staff members on them, or about our senate or board of governors. I think there might be a staff rep from the board of our management group, but I’m not sure.

      I’ve never felt like a lower-class citizen because I’m staff. A lot of the things the faculty are involved in don’t really apply to me because I work directly with students and other staff members and not faculty, and honestly I wouldn’t really want to be involved in faculty hiring, etc. I don’t know the research requirements our school has, what gaps we need to fill, or even how to properly evaluate a CV and work. I’d rather do what I’m good at, and let the faculty do the heavy lifting.

      1. fposte*

        I agree with your take–I don’t think this is a community, where we might all be supposed to be equal, so the “citizen” concept might be rather misleading. While plenty of workplaces have equal amounts of leave, it’s not uncommon for leave to increase based on how long you’ve been working there, and it’s pretty common in workplaces for higher-ranking people to have more authority and more perks.

        1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          Thanks for your comments fposte. I know it is common for leave to increase for people who have been there longer. However, for it to take 20 years for a non-exempt staff to catch up to an exempt staff member seems a bit extreme.

          When it comes to faculty, they can pretty much whatever they want when it comes to leave as long as they get their classes taught.

          1. fposte*

            I do think it’s weird to make such a huge gap between non-exempt and exempt, as if the former were temps. That’s harder for me to compare since most full-time non-exempt here are civil service, so they are coming in with different rules and union protection.

          2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            The last time I worked at a State University the leave accrual was done the same way (with non-exempt accruing slower), and it never made sense to me either.

          3. Mallory Janis Ian*

            That’s how it is at my university with leave. Exempt staff members start off accruing fifteen hours per month of leave. Non-exempt staff start out with acting eight hours per month of leave, and it takes eighteen years for us to reach the accrual rate of the exempt staff. I can see giving them more perks for higher levels of responsibility, but come on! Are they really eighteen years better than the non-exempt staff?

      2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Thanks for your reply. I agree that staff can’t determine the validity and value of a faculty member’s research. However, staff can help determine if a candidate is a jerk or not. I work mainly with/for the faculty and I do very little with students. We have some of the most wonderful faculty here and truly appreciate what we do. However, we also have some that are elitist and think that they are above university policies, such as wanting to stay in a hotel that is above the allotted amount per night (because he didn’t want to stay at a HoJo but wanted a nicer place to stay) and wanting the staff member to find a way to “justify it”. True story, happened to me.

        1. super anon*

          To be honest, in my limited experience with faculty, their interpersonal skills aren’t really as important as their research capability, the level of esteem they hold in the academic community, and their ability to bring in research and grant funding. Depending on if they’re research or teaching faculty, their ability to effectively lecture could come into play as well. My school is mainly made up of research faculty, so this aspect is less important.

          1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

            You are very right in that this is the way it is done; however, I do not believe that is the way it should be. It is especially hypocritical in the department that I am in since the department I am in advocates for diversity, treating everyone with respect regardless of their life situation, etc.

            1. fposte*

              But treating people with respect isn’t the same thing as saying they all get the same money or authority, or even that you’re valued equally, so I think some stuff you’re discussing is problematic and some of it isn’t. It’s not disrespectful that the admin in the university president’s office isn’t consulted about presidential appointments.

              1. Cajun2core*

                I see what you are saying. I agree with the money or authority. However, I do think that everyone should be valued equally and that the presidents’ secretary should be consulted on her new boss if the vice-presidents are consulted. Either all or none at all.

          2. TL -*

            Yes to the research and importance of faculty being way more important than social skills.
            I work in a place where there’s a lot of big name professors and to be honest, some of them are known jerks and nobody cares. (Many of them are really kind people though!)

          3. Jenn*

            Umm no, a research professor still has to deal with people in presenting their research and working with research assistants.

    2. fposte*

      The limited-voice thing seems pretty normal to me–faculty governance is laid out very clearly and has university-wide, possibly state-wide rules; I don’t think academics is unusual in not giving support staff an established voice in hiring high-level bosses, either, so that also seems normal to me. Benefits-wise, I think that difference is not universal but not unheard-of. At my university there’s a civil service component in there that complicates things; I don’t know if civil service benefits are better or worse, but they’re definitely different.

      I do find in practice there are often exceptions–we’ve had several staff members who outrank many professors when push comes to shove, usually based on duration or funding effectiveness.

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        An example that happened here recently: The director of the Master’s program (not a department head nor even an assistant department head, just someone with a bit more specific responsibility in certain areas) has his own secretary. He recently stepped down as the head of the Masters’ program and they are hiring someone new (a new faculty member, not someone internal). The secretary got to spend a total of 5 minutes (and even that was an after though) with the candidate and has no official vote in the hiring of her new boss who she will be dealing with on a daily basis. However, every faculty member got a chance to meet with the candidate (though not one-on-one) for at least 1/2 hour and has a vote in hiring this person even though they may not work with that person that much.

        1. fposte*

          And that’s standard. To be honest, I also think that’s okay. In general, secretaries don’t get to vote on the hiring of their bosses, whether outside of academics or inside it. Even in places that accept their input (ours would be one of those–anybody can comment on such a hire, I think, and we’re usually invited to do so), it wouldn’t be nearly as important as those who are concerned with the impact of the directorship on the program.

          Yes, sometimes that means Professor Absent, who’s never shown up for a faculty meeting or touched the master’s program in his life, has the opportunity for more impact than the person who works with the hire. But again, that’s not uncommon, and usually people aren’t going to take Professor Absent’s remarks all that seriously.

          I’ll add something that may not have come to your attention: adminstrators outrank the faculty big time, but faculty often doesn’t realize that. So faculty is often standing at Everest Base Camp saying “Whoo, I’m on top of the world!” while the administrators at the summit look down and roll their eyes.

          1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

            Fposte, thanks for your reply. I must disagree with you though because I do not believe it is okay. Yes, often secretaries don’t get to vote on who their new boss will be, but in those cases, the other managers at the same level usually don’t have a vote also. However, this is what happens in academia. I don’t know about where you work, but whomever the director of the Master’s program is, does have a large say so in the running of the department in our case.

            I am sure you are right about the administration. However, I feel that shouldn’t be the case either.

            1. fposte*

              If you haven’t, you might find it informative to read through your university by-laws, governance policies, provost communications, etc. because a lot of this stuff gets hashed out there.

              I mean, yeah, universities regularly underappreciate their support staff, and it sounds like your benefits suck. But it also sounds like you’re conceiving a university as being more different from a company than it really is and also thinking that the ways that it *is* different must be in the direction of greater democracy, and you’re disappointed that that’s not the case. And that’s a cool notion, but there are a lot of reasonable reasons why that’s not going to happen as well as some unreasonable ones.

              (P.S. Union.)

      2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        In my department, I can’t imagine any staff member that would “outrank” any faculty member when push comes to shove. The one staff member who tried to assert this was recently fired.

        1. fposte*

          That could happen here too, but it would depend on the issue, the faculty member, and the staffer. We’ve definitely had long-term staff who were more valuable than low-revenue faculty.

          1. JaneB*

            And it also depends on what you mean by ‘staff’ – people like the director of the centre for learning enhancement (is not and never has been an academic, MSc and pure administrative background) or the Faculty Administrator (Dean’s PA/WomanWhoKnowsEverything) are both staff in most senses, but they definitely outrank me and I’m above the mid-point of the ‘status hierarchy’ in my department.

    3. TCO*

      I am non-exempt staff at a large public university, and my experience is similar to yours. I used to be exempt, and when my role was demoted into non-exempt (as part of a large university restructuring), my benefits were reduced in ways similar to yours. I lost all kinds of PTO (vacation, sick, and family leave), my retirement contributions were reduced, and I lost some insurance benefits, among other things. The only major benefit our university doesn’t differentiate on is health insurance. Everyone, from custodians to professors, gets the same excellent insurance coverage and rates. Everyone also gets the same access to sports/arts tickets, but faculty get to jump to the top of the 8+ year waiting list for parking passes in the most desireable lots.

      I can’t comment much on the governance and hiring side. But overall, yes, I think this is normal. And yes, it sucks.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        That is awful! I can’t believe they didn’t grandfather in people who had been receiving those benefits before the change.

        I also work at a large, public university and, before my last job, at a major private one, and my experiences sound pretty similar to everything that everyone here has already said. Though I will say that the benefits at the private university were significantly better and closer to the exempt staff than they are at the public institution.

        1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          Thanks Mona Lisa. Yes, it is awful that those people who had been receiving the benefits were not grandfathered in. I do hope though that TCO did not lose any of the leave already accumulated (as in had 4 weeks accumulated but that is more than non-exempt can carry over so they cut the accumulated leave for TCO down to 2 weeks).

      2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        TCO, thank you very much for your comments. I am glad to hear that it is not just me, and I am glad to hear that someone else also thinks that it sucks. It is much appreciated.

        Did you actually lose already accrued PTO?

        Though our health insurance sucks, it sucks for everyone. Actually, in this one case, *some* non-exempt staff are treated slightly better. If you make less than $26,000 you pay less for your health insurance than those who make more than $26,000. However, I am fairly low level non-exempt staff and I make more than $26,000 so it doesn’t apply to most non-exempt staff.

        As far as for parking, that is one area where we are treated equally. If you want to park in a “premium” (gated) parking spot, you have to pay extra. There is a waiting list, but as far as I know it is first-come first-served and not based on rank.

      3. fposte*

        Yeah, they really should have grandfathered people. And I wonder what they’re going to do if the exemption threshold changes as radically as proposed?

        In general, I think making such huge divisions between exempt and non-exempt is foolish and counterproductive, even in a situation as taxonomically obsessed as a university.

        1. TCO*

          These changes were partially done in preparation for the new exemption thresholds, but that didn’t require them to reduce benefits for the people whose status changed. I did not lose vacation time I already had, but I now accrue at a much lower rate. I went from “unlimited” sick leave to 13 days/year, and the day my demotion was made effective I had to start accruing from zero sick leave. Fortunately my retirement benefits were grandfathered or my employer contribution would have dropped by half.

          It’s been a tough year around the office; this restructuring affected a lot of us and destroyed morale.

    4. Raspberry21*

      That really sucks that non-exempt employees have worse benefits. I also work at a University and your points about staff not voting at faculty meetings or not having a say in faculty hiring don’t seem that outrageous. In fact, it seems like your school is being generous by allowing you to attend the meetings at all since our school only allows faculty members to attend faculty meetings. We have staff sit on hiring committee (usually the department administrator) but they don’t evaluate candidates; they just make sure the committee is staying on track.

      Could you talk to your HR about some of these issues?

      1. Raspberry21*

        In terms of benefits, non-exempt staff are part of the union and have much better benefits than exempt staff. Our healthcare is cheaper and we’re able to take classes at the School for $40/class. Our pay is lower overall since exempt is basically all of management, but I think it’s worth it.

    5. dear liza dear liza*

      It sounds pretty normal to me. Most universities aspire to be ‘faculty governed’, which means the faculty are supposed to be at the center of things. In reality, administrators get the most perks (and most headaches), tenure faculty come next, then tenure track, then 12-month faculty, and then staff. But the worst treated are, by far, the adjuncts. No benefits, no guarantees of employment, and limitations on how much they can teach.

      1. Tenure track academic*

        I find it hard to be sympathetic with these concerns of a non-exempt employee. I love my job but it never ends. No I am not exaggerating. To achieve tenure, I must publish. I must research and publish in peer reviewed journals, I must write a book. All this happens in the hours beyond my 12 month teaching schedule, my prep for my classes, managing my department and students. I must be responsive to students. I must go and present at conferences- often a lot is on my own dime. My professional associations. My time. My dime. I must serve the University community on committees and be visible and give service to my profession. I must maintain an international reputation. If I can’t make a class- there are no “subs” I have to reschedule those hours. There is no such thing as “having a bad day” as I must demonstrate collegiality to all. Oh, and I am on an annual review basis, for six years (Can be fired after those reviews) and if denied tenure, I lose my job. I’d happily let anyone who wants to go to faculty meetings in my place. They are a slog. My benefits are the same as the “support staff” except they get to accrue vacation time.

        1. fposte*

          But this is falling for the Oppression Olympics fallacy–because you have challenges in your job you don’t allow for the possibility other people’s suck, and this is kind of why support people at universities roll their eyes at the insularity of faculty. I have to travel on my time and my dime too, and I don’t have the prospect of subs either–or tenure at the end of it, or a faculty salary. And the poster who started this thread could be fired tomorrow, like most people, so it seems odd to complain to him that you could be fired at the end of each year (like me).

          No argument that there’s a lot of pressure on pre-tenure faculty (and no argument on faculty meetings, that’s for sure), but you’re sounding like you think nobody at a university could have a bad job but you. And it ain’t so.

          1. Tenure track academic*

            fposte, I suppose I was reacting to the statements about wanting to be on the hiring committees/interviews/having a voice in the hiring of faculty.
            At my institution, non-exempt staff do meet the candidates and their input is solicited.

            And no- I do understand that there are plenty of crappy jobs as well. I have had plenty in my day.

            And yes, I do get that I am privileged to have my position at all considering the academic hiring environment today. And I am not looking for sympathy, as I chose this path.

    6. blackcat*

      I’m at a private reserach university (as a grad student), and a lot of this is pretty standard.

      Having watched the hiring process in my department, staff & grad students had informal input. One person was cut from the list for a tenure-track job because he was a jerk to the admin who arranged his travel. Another was cut because he asked me super inappropriate questions about my personal life (I was the only female grad student who showed up to the meet the candidate coffee–the dept is 90% male). So us low-ranking folks do have some power in hiring, but that is at the discretion of the department chair/whoever else is on the search committee.

      Benefits are tiered at my institution, too. Different classes of staff (TT faculty, exempt admin, non-exempt admin, and adjuncts/NTT faculty) are in different unions, so that makes sense. The contracts are negotiated separately, and so it makes sense that they are different. Periodically, the grad students threaten to unionize to make our health insurance suck a bit less, though the follow through has never happened, largely because the adjunct contract terms state that grad students who teach as instructors of record (as opposed to TAs) are required to be paid at the (quite good) adjunct rate.

    7. newreader*

      Wow. I work in public higher ed and it’s a very different place than the ones described here. I’ve been in both exempt and non-exempt roles (not faculty) and the benefits for non-exempt are actually better. Ours is a much more inclusive environment for input into all types of decisions, including hiring. It’s definitely not perfect and there are a variety of issues between employment categories, but nothing as severe as these.

    8. Tommy*

      From the dawn of time, people have been figuring out ways to separate people into different groups and to rank the groups. This isn’t going away anytime soon. Sure, people are trying to make the groups be based on different criteria, but everyone seems to be attached to the group idea anyway.

      You’ve got managers/non-managers, associates/assistants, exempt/non-exempt/temp, contract/employee, new grad/experienced candidate, etc.

      My advice is to not be a part of the problem but also not to expect it to go away anytime soon. If you care, then go ahead and try to get in a better group, but do it for the benefits, not because you think it makes you a better person in some way. And don’t forget the people in the groups you leave, or even the groups you were never a part of.

    9. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      The things is – you get paid for every hour you work! That is a huge benefit that hourly workers often overlook.

      Here is a real example from my very first post-college job. I was hired as exempt making $35,600 per yer. We got 4% 401K matching and 5 weeks vacation. The hourly staff we supervised got 4 weeks vacation and were paid $25,800 per year. Now at my company hourly employees also got 401K … but for illustration purposes let’s say they did not.

      At a glance it looks like exempt staff have it so much better right? With benefits, exempt make $19.69 an hour compared to the hourly $14.66 an hour – right?


      This comparison makes the assumption that exempt employees work an average of 40 hours a week just like the non-exempt and this is simply not the case. On average, exempt workers put in 50 hours or more each week. And that extra week of vacation we get? Well on average I had to work during 1/3 of my vacation days – for which I still got deducted PTO. When you add in all these additional worked hours, suddenly the exempt employee’s hourly pay plummets to only $14.73.

  37. Take Me 2 Atlanta*

    Alison, your previous posts and discussions have talked about how it’s harder to get position if you don’t live in the nearby area. I’m wondering how employers might view candidates whose work history includes jobs from all over the country?

    I work in scientific research and in order to keep building skills and doing research that interests me, that might take me all over the U.S. I’ve held jobs anywhere from the Northeast, Midwest, and (currently) the deep South. Would employers out of the area look at my resume and have less worry about interviewing me because I’ve already demonstrated that relocating is no problem? I know academia is different, so I know the answer might not be clear-cut.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      I have a history sort of like that. The only time I’ve had a problem with it is when one interviewer kept asking if I was a military spouse. She wouldn’t believe that I am where I am because I wanted to move closer to my Mom. But that company was/is a failure at retaining people anyway.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      IME, if you’re planning to stay in research, that kind of history can be a real asset. You can use it as part of a narrative of how you’ve been seeking out the absolute best training and research opportunities available, rather than taking an “any halfway relevant job will do” position out of geographical convenience. I know that people who stay in the same city from undergrad to grad school, and especially from grad school to postdoc, are at a hiring disadvantage.

  38. anon anon.*

    No question, I just need to vent.

    I wasn’t in the office for over a week because of traveling and holidays and coming back was really hard. I’m at BEC stage with a coworker and my office in general.

    While I was away she sent me a snarky email about how I need to cc her on everything I do from now on. There was an issue with a deliverable that I had sent a week before the deadline to another unit. The unit emailed my coworker looking for it (she was the contact person here before me and is our admin, but I’ve been in my role for almost a year now), and instead of contacting me about it she took it upon herself to redo the work I had done, and then when the other unit realized the mistake was on their end, she blamed the situation on me for not including her on the original email in the first place. (Side note: do most people include their admin on all the work emails they send? Is that weird?)

    At the same time I had to host an event while I was gone (because of poor planning the only day left was the one. My bosses asked her and another coworker to attend in my place and do the 5 minute presentation we were supposed to do. Except – she didn’t go. After she was there for a few minutes she bailed to help someone else, and then came back to the office 3 hours later. No one knows where she was. I learned about this while asking the other coworker how the event went when I came back.

    To compound on that – the first day I was back in the office all of my coworkers were eating lunch together in the kitchen and no one invited me. My office is beside the kitchen and one of my coworkers walked by my office and said hi to me on her way to the group lunch. I didn’t have time to eat lunch, but damn does it sting to be left out.

    We have a weekly teleconference. This week when I joined no one was there. I waited 15 minutes before sending a “hey… is this canceled??” email, and got a reply from her 5 minutes later that it was. Except – there was no indication before the meeting would be cancelled. A call got agenda items was sent out the day before. We didn’t receive an agenda, but that’s par for the course with this admin. Now I’m left wondering how everyone else knew the meeting was cancelled, and why I was the only one who didn’t know. Considering these meetings take place outside of the management group approved work hours, it’s extra frustrating.

    I’ve talked to someone else and they’ve straight up told me that she isn’t good at her job (and everyone knows it), but she’s protected by our directors and there’s nothing I can do about it. But she’s hurting my morale so much. I feel anxious and unsafe when I talk to her because of the way she’s treated me in the past. She’s been openly racist toward me, and she holds grudges. I made a fairly significant mistake that came to light recently during a conversation with her, and when I told her she got very angry with me and then wouldn’t talk to me for a week. She’ll take my mail from the mailbox and keep it in her office for safe-keeping, but she doesn’t do this with anyone else. She’s told me multiple times I should apply for other opportunities, which makes me worry I’m going to be fired or let go, even though the minimal feedback I receive is positive.

    I don’t know if there’s anything I can do about it at this point either. If i talk to our HR manager she will tell the coworker as soon as I’m done speaking with her, and there’s no one at the office I can trust. My bosses won’t meet with me ever to discuss this (I’ve been actively trying to get them to meet with me for months and am always ignored) so I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    I’m job searching, but it’s a tough market for a liberal arts grad, I’ll tell you what.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I always get so mad when I hear someone say a bad employee is protected by management. I hope you find something soon, because if they won’t do anything about her, then it probably won’t change. Fingers and toes crossed.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      Document, document, document. Especially for any of the racist remarks. Also follow her instructions and CC her on at least the most important emails. Me, I’d copy her on everything and clog up her in box. But I’m mean.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Seems like HR/company heads should care if an employee is saying racist things at work – big liability for them even they are too much jerks to care otherwise.

        I’d also cc her on everything if that’s what she asked me to do. And yes, she probably wouldn’t like it.

    3. CM*

      This is awful. I wish I had some magic advice to help you! Openly racist behavior, telling you to look for other jobs, taking your mail??? Hope you can get out of there soon!

  39. Tiffany Youngblood*

    So I did something really really exciting this week. I launched a project that I’ve been thinking about for over a year and spending every free moment for months building. I tend to be an idea person and usually never actually see ideas all the way through, so I’m super stoked I finally did. The response from the community has been amazing…tons of texts/comments/emails/etc. and while it’s only Day 5, it’s taking off even more than I anticipated it would. So yay for finally doing instead of just thinking about it!

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      Awesome! What did you find the most helpful for you in sticking with it? Asking for a fri- OK, myself.

      1. Tiffany*

        For me, having someone hold me accountable seemed to do it. One of the first people I talked to about the idea would periodically ask me about it (I didn’t ask her to do this, she was just really supportive of the idea and me). My reputation is everything to me, so I didn’t want to do any damage to it. It also seems that this idea, more than any I’ve ever had, had a really good chance of success from the beginning and I knew that because of how well I know my community, its needs, and the needs of the target market.

    2. CM*

      That’s great! Doing is much harder than thinking… congratulations on getting it done! (Plus, in my experience, people remember for a long time when you pull off a big project like that, and they start thinking of you as a person who gets things done.)

  40. Felix*

    My organization is notorious for offering new contracts at really short notice like 2-3 weeks before the current one expires (at the earliest). I don’t want to waste a ton of time applying for other jobs if there’s an option to stay. How can I ask about this without coming off as needy/greedy/desperate?

    Also, we don’t usually talk about these things. We have a weird/not awesome culture but I like the work well enough and the pay is better than anywhere else in town so I’d rather stay than leave.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Can you gently ask the boss if this could be handled differently so that people can plan how they will cover their basic living expenses if their contract is not renewed?

  41. Megan*

    I had this all typed out beautifully and then it got eaten. Argh.

    I’ve been at my new job about 5 months. I worked for this company at a different location several years ago, and the culture there was pretty good. It’s a field where attention to detail and safety are highly emphasized, and so the company spent a lot of time and energy into creating a non-punative culture – it made it easier for people to self-report errors, it became easier to see trends and address them, etc. It was a pretty effective model.

    This other location, however, is smaller and less on the radar, and due to a few different factors has bred quite a different culture. It’s less collaborative and more witch-hunting. If an error is found, it’s more about WHO did it so we can chew them out, rather than re-education or analyzing. It’s led to a situation where people have become incentivized to hide their own errors, and it’s causing problems to the point where people are actively seeking out other people’s errors, belittling, and overall trying to make themselves look better.

    The manager is pretty hands-off and non confrontational. It seems that any time a problem is around, he’s found somewhere else to be – be it short staffed, equipment malfunction, stressfully busy times, he’s not available when he should be. He also seems to appear to avoid confrontation, and may not actually see the problem that’s going on. In his absence, my peers are squabbling amongst themselves about the best way to do things, and it’s just generating more poor behavior when two people can’t agree. The manager’s upline is a nice guy, but he’s only been on the job for two weeks, stepping into a role that’s been vacant for the better part of a year. He just doesn’t have the tools or information to be helpful right now.

    SO, here’s the crux: We’re in the middle of massive turnover (40% since the beginning of this year, which should tell you how crazy this has gotten), which is unusual (we have several people who have worked there for more than 30 years). With this massive turnover, as new people come in, it seems like an ideal time to try and make a shift in the culture to something more positive. This is a thought that’s shared by several of us who have come on in the last year, but we’re not sure how to capitalize on this.

    What’s the best way to use this new opportunity to create a safer and less angry work environment?

    1. Annie Moose*

      I don’t have any experience in a situation like that and I wish you luck, but it might be helpful to lead by example–if you and a group of others who’ve been there at least a little longer than the newcomers commit to being open about your own mistakes and publicly talking about how they could be avoided or mitigated in the future, that could go a long way to encouraging the newbies to act the same way. If there’s enough of the old guard still around, this could be risky for you, but if a whole group of you work together on this, it’ll be a lot harder to single you out for bad treatment.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have done this and I agree this will work. It takes time. Maybe 8 months or longer?
        I have used certain statements and found these helpful:

        “It’s more important to catch the mistake and not let it leave here than it is to yell at someone for it.”

        “We have a finite amount of time to work. We can use that time to yell at someone for making a mistake or we can build stops so it is harder make that mistake again in the future. We can only do one of these things given our time constraints.”

        “If you want people to hide their mistakes then make sure you yell at them for those mistakes. The result will be that lots of work goes out of here with very well hidden mistakes. Is that what we want?”

        “Everyone makes mistakes. But good workers focus on fixing the mistakes rather than assigning blame.”

        I am not sure if you supervise people or not. When I supervised I would say, “the only mistakes I get upset over are the ones you do NOT tell me about. If you have a problem then come get me and we can look at it together.” I made darn sure I did not show a single ounce of upset when they showed me something. I knew they would test me and they did. When they saw my word was good on this, they felt free to show me all kinds of problems. They SAVED my butt! I would not have caught many of the things they caught. We fixed it together and life went on.

    2. Liza*

      This is just to say
      that I have eaten
      the post you typed out so beautifully.

      Forgive me
      it was delicious
      so grammatical and well constructed.

    3. Liza*

      On a more serious note: I don’t know, but I’m interested too–I’ll keep an eye on this thread to see the answers you get.

    4. CM*

      Could you come up with a plan and present it to your manager, and then ask if you could also present it to higher-ups? The plan could include official policies for how to handle errors, training for new and existing employees, and changes to current processes. You said the company put a lot of effort into this at the other location — how was that done? Maybe you could talk to someone who actively worked on this and ask them how to implement it at your new location?

  42. Regular reader*

    I have a second interview today! Super excited! I would not have gotten this far without Alison. :) :)

    I’ve never been on a second interview in my life, but I prepared similarly to the first one, and checked out Alison’s post on second interviews.

  43. Bye Academia*

    I know it’s best to put a job out of mind after an interview, but I just heard back from a job I think I would really enjoy to ask what my start date could be if offered the job. This whole job search has moved really slowly, so it could still be a few days before I hear whether I do get an offer. Meanwhile, I am going crazy waiting. The email has to be a good sign, though, right? They wouldn’t bother to ask when I could start if they didn’t want to hire me??

    1. WhiteBear*

      I think they’re really interested and consider you a strong candidate. Of course as Alison always says, really interested does not mean getting a job offer, and strong candidate does not mean definitely will be hired, but I still wish you so much luck and hope you get the job!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      For your own well-being and financial security, assume that you did not get the job and keep looking.
      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for ya!

    3. catsAreCool*

      They sound interested, so even if someone else gets this job there, maybe you’ll get the next one in your area.

  44. Tiffany Youngblood*

    Does anyone know anything about student loan consolidation? I gotta start paying those off but I have 3 seperate companies that I got loans through I guess (all federal loans through FAFSA) and it’s just too much to manage. Also a factor is that I’m fixing to start working FT for a non-profit (I’ve got 2 part-time non-profit jobs right now, 1 of those ends in a couple weeks and the other will become FT). Some of my loans don’t qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and my understanding is that I can consolidate them into a loan that does. I don’t even know where to begin though…

    1. Marketeer*

      Mine are consolidated through a Direct Consolidation Loan; and it does make it much easier making one payment rather than 4. I believe you can apply online to consolidate them together and it goes rather quickly. I’m not sure about the loan forgiveness as that doesn’t apply to me.

    2. LawCat*

      If you consolidate with Federal Direct Loans, that should work. For loan forgiveness, you have to make sure your non-profit work (depends on the type of non-profit) is qualifying employment.

      Check out She is a student loan expert. I heard her speak at an event shortly before I graduated 5 years ago and that event really helped me figure a lot out.

    3. S0phieChotek*

      Your loan service provider should also be able to help out with consolidation. Be careful though–bout interest rates in loan consolidation; one person told me that unless it’s a guaranteed low interest rate, you could end up consolidating for potentially lower-monthly payments (or just the ease of one lump payment vs. several different ones) but the interest % could go up. Anyway, I don’t know if that’s true for all loans but something to consider.

      Definitely agree with LawCat – make sure your organization qualifies for LFP and ensure you get all the paperwork filled out properly, on time; I’ve heard (maybe untrue) horror stories about people that have worked for years for LFP and somehow missed some important documentation and then those years did not count, so I’d triple check that and keep copies.

    4. BRR*

      Your loan servicer should be able to answer your questions. I am skeptical in being able to convert a non-qualifying loan to a qualifying loan. Whatever you do don’t do it through a private company.

      1. LawCat*

        Yes, it is possible to convert. I had FFELP loans (basically private lenders making government-backed loans) and those could be consolidated with Federal Direct Loans (where the government is directly the lender). I had a mishmash of direct loans and FFELP loans once I got out of school. If I hadn’t consolidated with Federal Direct Loans, the FFELP loans would not have been eligible for loan forgiveness because the private party, not the government owned them.

  45. Msquared*

    Writing in about an issue my fiance is encountering – there’s a lot of data points here so I apologize if this gets confusing:

    So my fiance lives in an area with an extremely low cost of living. His annual salary in $67k, which is almost 3x the per capita income in our area (in other words, this is an extremely generous salary). He is looking to move into a job in New York City, where I am, and is talking to a bunch of recruiters. He did his research and found out that the equivalent salary here in New York is $130k, and that the median salary for someone in the positions he’s looking at here in New York is $112k. he has 8 years of experience in his field. He has been stating to recruiters that he is looking to make around $120k.

    This week a recruiter he talked to told him that a) it was unrealistic to ask to go from $65k to $120k, because it looked entitled to ask a company to almost double his salary, and b) that is looks “bad” that he has been in this field for 8 years and is “only” making $65k now. The receuiters advice is to ask for $80-90k max.

    I think this is bad and unfair advice, because the recruiter is comparing apples and oranges – the cost of living where my fiance lives is ridiculously low and the cost of living her in New York is ridiculously high. He’s not asking for a huge raise, he’s asking to not take a financial hit when moving to a more expensive area. However, this recruiter kind of made him nervous and he’s not lowered his asking salary sown to $100k because he’s worried he’s going to have trouble finding a job otherwise.

    Thoughts? Is the recruiter right? Should he lower his salary expectation?

    1. Megan*

      Is 120K right if your husband had eight years of experience working at New York wages instead of where he is now?

      1. Msquared*

        I don’t actually know what 8 years of experience in the field would get you in New York, only that $112k is the median in the field for New York and $130k is the equivalent in New York of what he’s making now.

    2. Erin*

      Does he need to disclose what he’s already making? How would they even know?

      But yes the much, much higher cost of living in NYC must be taken into account.

      That being said, I was going to suggest a compromise, but it looks like he’s already done so. Recruiter wants him to ask $80 to $90; he wants $120. He’s settling on $100. Maybe he could go up to $105 to $110.

      1. Msquared*

        I don’t know if he’s been self-reporting or if recruiters have been asking, but the recruiters know (or at least this one does).

        He and I are hesitant for him to go lower because even with asking for $120k he’s taking a financial hit considering that the equivalent salary in NYC is $130k. By asking for $100k he would be taking a 25% pay cut, so he’s trying to minimize his losses while also staying competitive in his job search.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Does he have to work with this recruiter? Conventional wisdom on this site is that you don’t disclose your previous salary, no matter how much they press for it. Market rate should not be dependent on your previous salary, especially if your previous salary was in a lower-cost-of-living area.

          That said, people often talk about market rate as if it’s some static number. Ultimately, though, “the market” is the best you can get.

          If your fiancé can get a job for $130,000, he should get it. If he can get a job for $120,000, he should get it. In other words, if this recruiter is representing company A, and that company wants to pay only $90,000, but your fiancé knows he can get a job at company B or company C for $125,000, then he should take those offers. But if company A is the only company offering your fiancé a job, then that’s the market rate for him.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I more than doubled my salary moving to NYC from a city with a far lower cost of living, but then I was going from like $29K at a nonprofit to $65K at a for-profit. So it can be done, but there are caveats.

      Yes, your fiance’s new salary should definitely take into account the way higher cost of living here. The recruiters may be pulling a bit of a “Freakonomics” move where they’re trying to get him to take a lower salary than he could, just because it gets the position filled faster and the recruiter moves onto the next slot. However, I suspect a bit of what is going on is also that some employers won’t value eight years of experience in another city as highly as eight years of NY-area experience. There’s a perception, with varying amounts of truth to it, that things move faster here than in other cities — that, say, holding the title of Account Executive at a NYC ad agency involves longer hours and tighter deadlines and a faster pace overall than the same job title at a Chicago shop. I know I’ve heard in my industry that the West Coast shops are much more relaxed.

      If there’s a perception like that in place, the recruiters may very well be right that your fiance can’t expect a salary commensurate with having the same level of experience at NYC-area companies. I realize that’s a total non-answer because it’s a “maybe that’s what’s going on,” but…maybe that’s what’s going on.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Look into NY market rates for the position with his experience level and negotiate based on that data. If there’s a surplus or a shortage of workers in that field in NY, it’s going to affect the market rates. You can’t just use previous experience + cost of living adjustment.

    5. FS*

      I am no expert in negotiation but I would not compromise. I have always read that you ask for what is fair for the job regardless of what you made before. If he took a job at 80K when they would have paid someone else 120K, he will never be able to make up that difference and get up to the industry standard..

    6. Liza*

      One suggestion for the next time a recruiter asks his salary: “With the different cost of living factored in, my current salary is equivalent to $___ in New York dollars.” I used similar wording when I moved to my current city, and though I confused some recruiters, I did get the salary I wanted!

    7. BRR*

      I would not lower it. Yes it’s a big leap but so it COL and he’s not asking for more than market rate. If he takes less it will affect his earnings going forward and he’ll have a lower quality of life.

    8. CM*

      Get a new recruiter! It’s just plain wrong for a recruiter to tell you to lower your salary expectations based on your current salary. If they were saying that his expectations were unrealistic given market rates, that would be different.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, if it’s an internal recruiter, just look at other companies, too.

        If it’s an external recruiter, that’s baffling, because they make their money on commission, so presumably they’d want you to have a higher salary…

    9. AnonAcademic*

      I can speak to this as my husband negotiated a similar raise in NYC. He was working at a nonprofit that was paying him half what his position typically gets paid in that area(~$65K). He then moved to the private sector with the hope of making between $90-130K depending on the role. He ended up being offered a job at $100K plus a $20k annual bonus.

      If you talk to 10 recruiters they’re likely to tell you 10 different things about what to ask for because they’re all dealing with different clients. Nowadays my husband has the salary talk up front, starting with his ideal rate, if that’s too high moving to an “acceptable” compromise rate, and then he has a “lowest acceptable rate” that he will.not.budge.on. I believe his line is that “I’m a top of the line candidate and I can’t devalue myself by going any lower.” Your husband might want to find a way to emphasize the difference in COL in recruiter friendly terms – e.g. “I’m renting a 2 bedroom house here for $1000/month and in NYC that much money will only get me a studio in an outer borough. I need a significant COL increase to make the transition worthwhile to me.”

    10. Tommy*

      Yeah, you have to remember that his and the recruiter’s interests are not exactly aligned. A 30-40k lower salary for your fiancé is much less of a hit for the recruiter.

      Also, I would hold the line. Such a jump only sounds big to someone who doesn’t understand cost of living. My new job offered me a 70% higher salary than they knew I was being paid without negotiation. I asked myself why. Some reasons I thought of: they had to give me a reason to want to go through the stress of moving and changing jobs (esp. to a more expensive area); they probably thought that I could get such an offer from one of their competitors anyway; they hire enough people that they have a somewhat standardized process that wouldn’t consider it normal to pay someone 25% lower than everyone else without a really good reason.

  46. Tiffany Youngblood*

    Last one for today…I’ve missed several weeks of this and have had questions.

    My new job (1st “real” one out of college) doesn’t have any kind of retirement plan benefits or anything like that. I know I need to set one up but how do I even do that?

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

      Are you in the US? You could check into Scotrade. That’s where I have my IRA. They are pretty nice to talk to and work with.

    2. ZSD*

      Talk to your bank about a Roth IRA and/or traditional IRA. Get a Roth IRA if your current salary is low enough that you expect to be in a higher tax bracket when you retire. Otherwise, get a traditional IRA. I believe you’re allowed to put up to $5500 per year into either of them.

      1. T3k*

        This. My first (and second) job had no retirement plan set up so I set up a Roth with my bank because I’m in a very low tax bracket right now. If you’re in a higher one though, look into the traditional IRA, but be sure to research both first to see which one might cater to your more.

    3. Silver Radicand*

      Might also check out the “Personal Finance” reddit. There is a link on the side about setting up IRA’s and such.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        This! I was struggle with the concept of IRAs and that subreddit was sooo helpful!

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      Talk to your bank or a financial adviser. My recommendation is Edward Jones. They can set it up so you can just direct deposit a portion of your paycheck with them and they’ll invest it in the IRA. Really convenient.
      Also something to think about in retirement, if you are looking at an early retirement and anticipating having to use ACA insurance, The principle from a Roth IRA doesn’t count as taxable income. This is important if you want to take advantage of the tax credit for insurance.

      1. fposte*

        While there may be a few good Edward Jones folks, I have to disrecommend them pretty strongly overall. They tend to sell high-cost financial products with big commissions and put their clients into unnecessarily complicated investments. Outside of a 401k/403b, where you’re limited to the work-provided options, there’s no reason to pay an expense ratio over .20 or any commissions at all.

        Put your money in an IRA with a low-cost service like Fidelity, Vanguard, or Schwab; pick a target-date retirement fund that suits your risk tolerance, and let it go.

        1. Master Bean Counter*

          Interesting…I get charge a flat yearly fee. A very low yearly fee. But, yeah, know your fees is excellent advice.

          1. fposte*

            You might have found one of the good ones, but the complaints of people who’ve started unpicking their statements and find that they’re in twelve overlapping funds with front loads are legion.

    5. Undine*

      As everyone says, set an IRA or Roth IRA. Look for a company that has low fees, they add up over the lifetime of your account — google “low-fee IRA”. There are targeted funds, that are based on your estimated year of retirement, so a 2040 fund will be set up to be optimized for someone who would be retiring in 2040. Those funds are made out of different funds, look for the smaller funds to be “index funds” where applicable (as opposed to “managed funds”).

      You can call the company to set up your account, and set up a plan that transfers money every month from your regular account–this is the standard way to invest – it smooths out the bumps from fluctuations in the market.

      I would also look for an intro book on personal financial planning.

      1. fposte*

        In fact, some places–the aforementioned Fidelity, Vanguard, or Schwab, for instance–don’t charge for IRAs at all.

    6. AFT123*

      If you’re like me and if it isn’t simple you’re less likely to do it, check out Fidelity’s website and setup a Roth IRA through them. I did it from my phone and it was very simple, took less than 10 minutes, and I had set up an automatic withdrawal from my bank account.

      I’m sure there are other better ways to go about this and research your investments, but for me, this was an easy way to get started and I’ve all but ignored it since then and its still growing.

    7. justsomeone*

      I’m in the same boat. I’ve been looking at Betterment. It’s online and helps you set your goals and has low/reasonable fees. My favorite resource right now is Money Under 30. Great advice, definitely sign up for the free email course. I learned a lot.

    8. Sibley*

      Call Vanguard, they’re really great about helping you get setup.

      As for learning about investing, read J collin’s stock series.

  47. Nervous Accountant*

    Glad I’m in early…an incident happened this week, which (I think) is done and over with (I hope) but it happened this week so I wanted to get feedback….I’ll try to be concise but it’s gonna be long so bear with me pls!

    I have a coworker I’m not really comfortable speaking to for various reasons. I kept my interactions brief but professional so there was nothing for about a month. There were a few eye-roll moments but none so serious that had to be discussed with anyone.

    My boss and I had a conversation about an email I sent to him that he had complained about. I acknowledged that my tone was not the best. I explained why I felt that way and the events that led me to this. She told me how to deal with that in the future, reminded me that we have a new HR director and while she knows this is not characteristic of me, I have to be able to work with everyone. I agreed with everything and understood…right after the conversation, I apologized to him (CC’d her so she knew) and it was accepted.

    Now this may or may not be relevant but I want to add it here—-I then (literally minutes later) found out from other coworkers that he was going around asking if they think I’m a nasty person. These coworkers I’m on good terms with so they told me in confidence. After taking some time to cool down, I approached him directly, apologized again for my unprofessional tone. I asked that in the future if he can talk to me directly rather than going above me and put my job in jeopardy……and I said that talking to others about how I’m a nasty person isn’t professional either. He barely acknowledged that, no apology, nothing. Just that “your tone is unfriendly.” I then find out from the same coworkers that he was giving them a hard time…I felt terrible about putting them all in that position (to me, this is not behavior that a normal person does–I can be awkward but were it me, I would immediately have apologized in that instance). Regardless, to me the pattern of lack of communication was more of a concern than going around to coworkers.

    I then requested a talk w my supervisor to address the lack of communication and why its a serious concern for me. I made sure to mention how much I like working here, and that I value all the feedback I get from all my supervisors/managers. But I’m finding it hard to work with someone who refuses to give me feedback and instead complains to my managers without giving me a chance to correct. How can I fix what I don’t know is broken? Supervisor told me that he complained (not that he agreed or disagreed) that I sound impatient or not friendly and therefore unapproachable.

    I reminded him of a past incident when we were on very friendly terms, and he still did that. His response was that while it’s not the best mode of communication, he has a right to approach someones manager if he’s not comfortable talking to the person directly. I don’t disagree with that–I just think it shouldn’t be the first thing.

    I was trying to look at the big picture of things and I’m even willing to let go of the gossiping/backtalking (I showed him the chat log where I addressed this) but there’s no reason he shouldn’t communicate these things to me first. However, supervisor did say that wasn’t right of him and he will talk to our boss about it. Ultimately he did acknowledge that there’s a communication issue here that needs to be addressed. I said I was willing to do everything to make it work for the remainder of the tax season.

    The next day supervisor and I spoke informally–he said he talked to my boss, and he’s had multiple conversations with the coworker (prior to this and currently) about communicating with me. We agreed to put it behind and make it work. My fear was, everything will seem OK and fine but then he’ll go to HR/my boss’s boss with this one email, therefore bypassing everyone and I’ll lose my job. I relayed these concerns to him, and he said that I have to respect his right to do that (go to others), but I will be made aware of what’s going on and it won’t be one sided, and I’m entitled to do the same.

    This was kind of what I had feared and predicted would happen. Even though I’m constantly getting good feedback from my supervisor, and I’ve worked hard and let go of so many small issues to focus on the big picture. I feel like my job is in jeopardy because of this person, and just bc of that I’ve lost any shred of respect I had for him.

    Things are done and over with (I think and I hope) but is there any point I’m missing, another side I’m not seeing here? I don’t regret standing up for myself, but I’m wondering if there are any long term consequences that I may not know about.

    1. Tiger Feet*

      Ah. Been there. The main difficulty (aside from the nasty atmosphere which must be getting you down) is that so much ‘he said/she said’ can reflect badly on you, regardless of actual culpability. Your actions (whilst completely understandable for wanting to address the issues directly and clearly) may demonstrate the opposite of wanting to put it behind you, and seem like picking at it over and over. Too much communication and analysis can be exhausting. My advice is to try and alter your mindset and reconsider the frame you’re viewing this person’s actions through. You can’t change them, and you’re never going to be best friends, but that doesn’t mean it needs to cast doubt on your employability. Be bright, breezy and pleasant, even if your coworker is being exceptionally awful. Demonstrate with your actions that you are positive and approachable. Hopefully this will, in comparison, make said coworker look difficult, unapproachable etc. It worked for me.

    2. BuildMeUp*

      I would do everything you can to accept that your coworker is probably not going to start coming to you to address anything. He would clearly rather take things above your head. Work on trying not to take that personally. When you talk about having difficulty working with him or that you’ve lost respect for him, well, your job involves working with him. You don’t need to be friends with him, but you do need to continue to be polite and professional when you work with him.

      As far as the gossiping goes, try to stay out of that as well. Do everything you can to make it clear that you’ve moved past the issue; then if your co-worker starts things up again, it should be clear to everyone else that the problem is entirely on his end.

    3. Nervous Accountant*

      Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT want to be friends with this person. In fact I think that’s what led to this, I was feeling creeped out and uncomfortable with him so I tried to remove any non-work related language from my interactions (“lol” “:)” etc) all the while trying to remain professional. But even when that wasn’t the case, hwhen we were chattign on an almost daily basis, he just went around. I understand what everyone is entitled to, but I find it very toxic to work with someone who constantly does that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am wondering if TPTB encourage this. I worked in one place where NO one was allowed to address an issue with anyone else. It had to go to the boss first and she would decide what was best to do. (Yeah, this went very badly.) I left the job.

        I’d like to caution you about self-fulfilling prophecies. Every time you worry about this guy you are granting him power. While you may not lose your job directly because of him, you may lose it because you worry so hard that you can’t even drag yourself to work.

        Those people who told you that he was asking about you were NOT helping you. They should have handled his question and said nothing to you. Next time tell them to mention it to the boss if they feel they see a problem. All they are doing when they tell you is throwing gas on the fire.

        From what I read here, it sounds like the bosses do not think you have any serious problems and they are not concerned about you or your work. So I would not continue discussing the point- it’s tired, let it rest. If he puts in another complaint then repeat what you said about your preference that he discuss it with you and add that you cannot fix a problem when you do not know about it. These are very logical things to say so you can stick with these statements.

        Refocus yourself on your work and your job- some of that feeling of eventually getting fired over this can be attributed to current time- not feeling focused enough on your own work right now. Take back your focus on your own work and in doing so you will take back some of your power in this situation.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          Thank you!!!!! you always seem to be spot on even when I can’t figure it out :)

          I don’t think its an issue with higher management, at least that’s not what I’ve seen. In my 18 total months, I’ve always gotten feedback directly from my supervisor/boss/coworkers. My supervisor clearly said “If you don’t hear that something is wrong, then assume everything is fine.”

          Tbh I haven’t had that stress/anxiety/nervousness this season that I had last few seasons, because I’m producing well, and get fairly decent feedback (or, you know, “no news is good news”). You’re so right about losing focus. This all happened over 2 days and I’m done talking about it with anyone else at work. I’m mad at losing my focus over this.

          1. catsAreCool*

            It’s perfectly normal to be mad about this, but treating him nicely and sweetly will probably eventually make it clear that he’s the one being a jerk (or he’ll leave you alone). This is a tough thing to deal with.

    4. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Oof. I’ve been in your shoes.

      1) Never tell a co-worker they should not go above your head. No matter how much you mean this positively, it will not go over well.

      2) Once a co-worker is bringing problems to the supervisor AND the supervisor is relaying them to you, it’s time to start doing the same back. Your supervisor has made it clear he is going to play the middle man here. It’s time that you start using that too – right now the power dynamic is the other co-workers court. Look how mean her emails are!!!

      3) Definitely bring up the fact that this co-worker is trash talking you to other co-workers. List your friends who brought this to your attention as witnesses and let the boss sort this out. If you try to be “the bigger person” and let this individual trash you to your boss while you take the “high road” and deal with them directly it will do nothing but tarnish your reputation.

      Like I mentioned I have been in this situation before. Your co-worker sounds like a real pot-stirrer. The fact that they wait until they have written evidence and then throw it up the command post, only to then turn around and verbally try to stir up your other co-workers into feeling similarly about you is a huge red flag. Nip this in the bud!

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        OOo I came back today to check any comments. I would do #3, but it could possibly harm my relationship with them, and that’s more valuable to me than dealing with him at this point…I’m just going to be on guard abou t everything and just hope it ends soon!

  48. WhiteBear*

    I worked as a seasonal employee for an organization during my four summers while I was in university. I worked in their retail department for two summers and their research department for another two summers. I’ve always wanted to work in their care department but it is notoriously difficult to get into. They have very limited spots and last year they only had internal hiring/job posting. I really really want to work for them! Right now I’m at another facility in a different town doing the exact work I want to be doing which makes me a stronger candidate for my, for lack of a better description, dream job at my dream company. Should I just send the HR department my resume and a cover letter explaining why I want to work for them and what I have to offer so that they at least have me as an option on file should they be hiring this year? I hope it wouldn’t come across as too random or unwanted, especially since they have a job opportunities page, they just rarely have postings for job openings in the department I want to work in. Thanks in advance for the advice!

    1. Silver Radicand*

      Do you have any contacts from the research or retail work that might work in or with the care department? If so, getting in contact with them might get some attention you wouldn’t get otherwise for a job that is difficult to get into.

  49. SJ*

    How exactly do you navigate the subject of having a horrible, demanding boss in an interview?

    One of my greatest strengths is my patience and ability to work with a boss who has a frankly awful and impossible personality (to the point where several people before me quit because they couldn’t handle him)… and obviously I can’t say that in an interview! But in a field where being able to work successfully with strong personalities is particularly highly valued, it’s something I feel is important to discuss in some way. He’s made impossible demands and I have successfully met them, but he thinks it’s just business as usual and doesn’t think anything he asks of me is ridiculous, so it’s hardly like he would talk that up for me in a reference check. I just don’t know how to diplomatically do it.

    1. WhiteBear*

      You could say that you always go above and beyond to do what your boss needs of you, and that you have a thick skin and are able to work with people of many different personalities and people whose needs are very specific or out of the ordinary. And the best way to show that is through past examples, highlighting things like time constraints, juggling multiple demands/projects on your plate, busy times of the year, scheduling conflicts, etc. and how you were able to do the impossible under those circumstances, rather than focus on “my boss is so difficult/demanding.” If you can describe the scenario vividly enough, people will conclude on their own that your boss was very demanding or hard to work with but despite that you are able to succeed.

    2. Tiger Feet*

      “able to work successfully with strong personalities”
      “made impossible demands and I have successfully met them”
      You’ve sort of answered your own question! It sounds like you’re concerned that because your boss doesn’t appreciate these things, he won’t mention them in a reference. Personally, I would use the two statements you’ve made above (without mentioning that they pertain to your boss of course) and have examples to use, as well as perhaps mentioning that there has been a high turnover for your role previously, but you have managed to blah blah blah etc. That is factually correct (and likely to be backed up by your boss) but doesn’t directly criticise him. Good luck!

    3. Sadsack*

      I would leave his personality out of it. Say that in this very demanding field you take pride in consistently meeting all requirements and frequent last-minute deadlines. Or something like that. Have some examples in mind that illustrate this.

      1. CMT*

        But if dealing with tough personalities is important in the industry, wouldn’t you want to touch on this? Definitely in a diplomatic, neutral fashion.

        1. Sadsack*

          I think giving examples including the nature of the request and the required turnaround time are enough without saying the Mr Burns has a difficult personality. Saying that I had to prepare a power point presentation of the Lord of the Rings movies with a half hour’s notice for the board will probably be enough detail without mentioning my manager’s personal idiosyncrasies.

          1. Sadsack*

            Although I suppose you are right that it might be good to leave in that Mr Burns was known to have released the hounds on several of your predecessors, but he apparently found you work satisfactory as you have never seen said hounds.

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      I was able to X time in a position that previous had only been held for an average of Y amount of time by the previous people. –This is code for this guy is a known loon, but I lasted way longer than anyone else.

    5. JMegan*

      You can absolutely say that in an interview! Maybe not the “awful and impossible personality” part, but you should definitely say “One of my greatest strengths is my patience and ability to work with a boss who makes impossible demands, and doesn’t realize how impossible they are.”

      And give examples. I would prepare 3-4 good ones, using the STAR approach (Situation, Task, Action, Result), and use them wherever you think necessary in the interview.

      Good luck!

  50. Applesauced*

    Open office gripes!
    Old-Job had what I thought was an open office, but now that I’m 3 months in to a REAL open office (benching, and desks as far as the eye can see) I’m severely missing my half walls and cubbies 
    Today’s issue – people who either don’t turn off the sound on their computers. Someone nearby is having a lively Skype conversation and I keep hearing “doo-doo-doo-bloop!”

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      Dude…I am so with you.

      I used to go hit the mute button on those people’s laptops!

    2. hermit crab*

      SOMEONE in my office (and I’m pretty sure who it is, but not 100% sure because they’re not right next to me, and we have a sort of half-wall/doublewide-cubicle setup with blessedly few sightlines) sometimes listens to music without headphones. MUSIC WITHOUT HEADPHONES! The cardinal sin of the open office. There was one time, years ago, in a more traditional cubicle setup, when I thought I had my headphones plugged in but didn’t, and I still cringe when thinking about it. Who thinks that this is OK?!?!?

  51. SpringAllergies-Yay*

    I am wondering whether or not I should have a conversation with my manager about my role in my department. I started out in the department taking care of both project management and low-level technical duties, but my role was never clearly explained to others in the department. As time has gone on (almost 5 years now) my role has changed to having some project management aspects, but more technical and lead technical duties. The changes to my role has never been clearly stated by my manager, like you are no longer project manager you are this. But changed over time organically because of weak hires where I found myself picking up the technical slack because of the lack of abilities and the lack of my manager wanting to fire the person. Which is great for me professionally as I got a promotion from it, but I want to go into more of the project management and people management of things. Around this time a team member got promoted to defacto project manager of the department and took on some of my project manager duties. I talked about this with my manager but it was played as this was more to allow me to concentrate more on technical stuff and not a diminishment of my role. But what my role is was never clearly communicated.

    The old project manager left and they are looking to hire a new one. I feel like I should go talk to my boss and ask them about my role and see why I’m not considered for project management and what I could do to improve. I’m cautious about it because my manager could be a bit sensitive about asking them about issues like that. How would you approach that question?

    Sorry for the rambling!

    1. Sadsack*

      Have you told your manager that you are interested in being more involved in project management and less in technical?

    2. Sadsack*

      Furthermore, I’m not sure what you mean about your manager being sensitive about these issues. This is your career. If you are interested in making changes, you need to tell your manager that you’d like to apply for that job. I am not sure how that’s an issue. Your manager may think you are not qualified for that position, but he should be able to explain that to you. You apparently need to ask him about it or you’ll never have the conversation.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Go back to when you were hired and the job you agreed to take on. Let him know that is the work you want to be doing. Explain that you ended up with tech stuff by default and that it is not your primary career goal.

  52. Almost Architect*

    I work in design, and am very close to becoming a registered architect.
    You need three basic things to be an architect – a degree, work experience in various disciplines for (a total of 3700 hours – a set amount on drawings, material, management, contracts, construction, etc) and pass 7 exams.
    Before I started, a friend who works at the same company told me that there’s either a $10k salary increase or a $10k bonus (he can’t remember which one) upon registration.
    Other than my friend (so, a rumor) I haven’t heard or read anything about a registration bonus or increase.
    I’m going to get registered with or without this phantom $10k – but $10k would be fantastic.
    I feel weird asking, but I’d like to know… How would you go about asking this? Would you ask? Do I ask before or after I finish?

    1. CADMonkey007*

      Definitely ask now! Also ask if your company contributes to the ARE exams. It’s fairly common to get compensation for the exam cost (if you pass) and some places provide study materials. Good luck! I’m 2 exams in…

    2. Jules the First*

      At most companies, this happens at your first annual review or salary increase after registration. If you do want to ask about it, the person to ask is your sponsor (whoever signs off on your hours-for-certification) or your manager. You can have this conversation in the context of ‘what does registration do for my career’, which may be easier than asking outright.

    3. Tiger Feet*

      *waves* Architect’s wife here. It’s normal to see qualification reflect on your pay, as registration equates to legal responsibilities and so on. The exact amount will vary (so don’t make plans based on that $10k!) but it is standard in the industry and I’m fairly sure you won’t need to ask to receive it.

    4. KG*

      I work in an Architecture office. You do not receive a guaranteed raise or bonus for becoming registered here. Being a registered architect implies that you should be able to handle a more senior role, but compensation is determined by your level within the company/how well you perform your job as opposed to a you passed here’s some money.

  53. Pokebunny*

    How do you ask for more challenging work? I’m getting really stagnated at my PT work. Right now I’m just sitting around waiting for something to happen (IT support), but what I really want to do is implement improvement projects. My bosses, however, are extremely risk-averse and right now, nothing is broken and hasn’t been broken since I made a few changes a few months ago, so they want it to stay that way.

    Obviously “talk to them” is the answer, but I don’t have a good reason to ask other than “because I want to”. Are there business benefits to doing those projects? Possibly, but very minute (we’re so small scale that it may be seen as “overkill”). Since I’m really just sitting around waiting for something to happen right now, I can’t even use the “I’ve been spending $X and Y hours doing this, and an improvement project that I have in mind will cut costs and time down”. It’s really just for me — professional growth I can put on my resume.

    1. WhiteBear*

      I can’t tell if your managers have any IT knowledge or if they are just there to manage people (so they won’t understand the developments or changes you propose). Maybe ask if there if a full-time senior person at the company who can spend some time mentoring you or help you develop new skills and help you learn and grow professionally, and maybe there are some full-time staff with too much on their plate and may be able to delegate some of their lower responsibilities to you. Ask around, ask you manager if that would be okay, and essentially find out if there even is room for you to continue growing professionally with this particular employer.

  54. Anon this time*

    I’m currently in the process of interviewing for a position that is a confidential search. They’re looking to hire someone so they can fire the person currently in the position. How does this work exactly? Do they wait until the day before the new person starts to fire her or do they do it when someone accepts the offer? My fear is that the other employees would be upset thinking the new person “took” her job although she is being fired for unexcused lateness and absences.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Sounds like the issue here is how to fall right into a team when it’s possible there could be some negativity, not what the person being fired thinks.

        OP: I would assume they’d have a plan in place for letting her go close to making a hiring decision, but I doubt it would be that small of a gap between her leaving and you starting. It’s also likely that if she’s being fired for things like frequent lateness or unexplained absences, the rest of your new team might be grateful you’re there or at least relieved their management did something about the attendance problems- that kind of thing breeds serious negativity.

    1. FTW*

      Or, they could be thrilled they finally have a coworker that’s not a slacker… you just don’t know. Since you can’t know, it’s probably not worth worrying about.

      You might ask the hiring manager about onboarding and your concerns to get their take.

  55. Student*

    I’ve got a temporary line manager… for the next two months, at minimum. They knew the prior line manager was leaving with at least one month’s notice, probably closer to three month’s notice. Companies, please don’t hold manager positions open or in limbo like this! It’s ridiculous.

    I wanted to get a promotion this year, and I think this means I either have to try to get the temporary manager (who I haven’t met) to put me in for it, or I have to try to convince the new line manager to put me up for it very soon after he steps into his role, because we have short windows where promotions can be submitted every year. So I’m thinking that’s terribly unlikely, and I’ll probably be stuck in a job level that’s significantly lower than what I’ve been performing at for yet another year. Our prior line manager only stuck around for about 6 months.

    1. WhiteBear*

      It sounds like a string of short term line managers is making it hard for one of them to be able to back your skills and performance and go to bat for you for a promotion. I say apply anyway, maybe reach out to the former line manager and ask if they would be able to speak to your performance since the current line manager is so new and doesn’t have a solid professional relationship with you yet.

  56. KL*

    My other half just found out last night that he has been called back for a second interview! I am on the edge of my seat and overjoyed for him as I know how badly he wants this position. Any advice (besides the already incredible advice given by AAM) for him? Good vibes are welcome as well.

    1. WhiteBear*

      Tell him to keep on being as friendly, thoughtful, and enthusiastic as he was in the first interview. Sending good vibes!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Many good vibes….

      If he wants the position so much have him explain to you why he wants the position so strongly… this is good practice for what to say to the interviewers. You guys can go over what he says and polish it. Also it’s never a bad idea to practice for an interview.

  57. Starboard*

    I have a question for all you hiring managers out there. Have you ever had candidates that you felt were just ‘”meh” (in other words, they were just ok – nothing terrible, but nothing that got overly excited), but moved them through the interview process anyway because you couldn’t find what you were looking for? And then, in the end, they wound up being terrific? Please tell me this happens because I have been trying to fill an Executive Director position for 5 months, and to date, I have only received one strong/qualified candidate (who ended up taking a counter offer from his current employer). I’ve recently received a small handful of “meh” candidates where there were some small red flags (maybe not event red, more like orange). I’m wondering if I should invest the time to go through the process anyway because I don’t have any other candidates.

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

      I’m not a hiring manager but in a previous job I was trained to be a peer interviewer. We had a candidate that we had no problems with. She didn’t wow us or anything but there was nothing wrong with her either. We had no other applicants (well that’s what HR told us but based on other experiences I doubt this very much) so we offered her the job. She did a good job, everyone was happy with her. It was an AA job though, not a Director. Not sure if that makes a difference.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It can happen, but I wouldn’t count on it happening. In the case you describe, I could see moving the meh people forward one step in the process to get more data — but if they’re still meh at that point, I probably would not continue. Definitely don’t hire someone you feel meh about, especially for an ED position. Instead, I’d look at why you’re not attracting the candidates you need — is it salary, the recruiting process, something else?

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve seen it happen once. I was on a hiring committee for a teacher. We had a bunch of teachers come in for demo lessons. Unfortunately, the best candidate was just “meh.” We debated about it for a long time—should we just hire this candidate or extend the search? Eventually we hired the candidate, and the candidate ended up being an amazing teacher!

      But, yes, echoing what other people say about you can’t count on a “meh” candidate ending up being terrific as an employee.

    4. Felicia*

      We’ve hired meh candidates twice because we couldn’t find what we were looking for , and they both ended up being even worse than meh as employees. We learned not to settle.

    5. FTW*

      I’d assess what is making them ‘meh’, and review if those are really deal-breakers. Example, so-so communication skills might be a no, but if they are light in experience in an area, but show passion and have a plan to overcome that gap, maybe that’s not really a ‘meh’.

  58. Felix*

    Also wondering what your tips are for welcoming a new co-worker into a shared office? New person starts next week and I’ll be sharing an office with him. What are some good things to do first to set up a successful shared work space?

    1. Paige Turner*

      This is very considerate of you :) I don’t have experience with this personally, but I’d say that one thing to keep in mind is that what your office mate prefers might not be what you’d think of, and to keep an open mind. Like a roommate situation, one person might not even realize how they are impacting the other person, so you could say to your new office mate, “If I’m ever doing something that’s distracting to you, please let me know.” That way, you’ll both feel comfortable talking to one another, and it won’t be A Big Deal if he asks you to put your phone on silent or you ask him to put his banana peel in the break room trash. Good luck!

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

      Clean the dust off their desk top. If you really want to you could also get some basic office supplies for them. But very basic, like pens, a stapler, etc. Anything more than the basics they’ll want to pick out themselves.

    3. Ad Astra*

      Making sure their work area is clean and free of other people’s clutter will go a long way. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to start a new job and find your desk drawers are full of your predecessor’s stuff and there’s crumbs on the keyboard rolly thing.

      A box of Kleenex might be handy, too, since it’s allergy season and people often don’t think to ask where the Kleenex are until after they’ve got a hand covered in snot.

    4. Packers Fan*

      I just started sharing an office. The person I share with isn’t the most organized person in the world and I’m told she worked “wonders” to clear her stuff off my side of the office which was much appreciated. The one strange thing I encountered is that she is still keeping stuff in some of the storage space on my side of our shared space. We have a weird set up with cabinets/drawers so I get it but she didn’t tell me this and I felt like I was intruding when I opened these drawers and cabinets not realizing that they were still hers. My advice would be that if you have a set up like this that you let the person know ahead of time. I’d also touch base with person after a few weeks to make sure everything is still going ok. They might not be willing to speak up about things like lighting or chair placement etc. in their first week when they’re still getting to know you but may be more open down the road. Good luck and enjoy!

    5. Student*

      Acknowledging their existence with minor social niceties like, “Hello” “goodbye” and introducing yourself proactively if the other person doesn’t do so immediately. I have shared many an office where these just don’t happen at all, ever. It makes things more awkward and tense when you do need to talk about some shared-office issue if you aren’t even on a “hello” basis.

  59. reader, usually not commenter*

    How do you determine the difference between imposter syndrome vs. actually not being qualified to do things? I’m in a fellowship and my position has involved me working on some pretty important projects. My team within the office is all much older than me (I’m in my first year out of undergrad, most folks here have several more degrees and are in their 30s/40s), and they all seem to trust and respect me a lot. I really appreciate the opportunity to work on these things with a lot of control, but can’t get over the terrified feeling of “eeeek what if I mess up!”

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you have to look at any objective evaluations you can:
      1. Do people praise you for the work you do (your manager, people in other departments)?
      2. Have you been able to get multiple jobs in your field and actually do those jobs?
      3. When you read professional articles / blog posts for your field, do you get what they’re talking about, or does it seem above your head?

      You’re probably fine!

    2. Jillociraptor*

      An important thing to remember: even people who are qualified to do things mess up sometimes! “Never making a mistake” is not really a very good measure of efficacy. Sometimes you need to take risks and try something a new way, and sometimes even the most well-prepared person misses something that could have prevented an issue.

      Instead, try coming up with another way to measure your success. What would successfully completing the project look like, and what would be true if you totally knocked it out of the park? Talk those over with some colleagues to get a gut check, and then assuming it checks out, go forth with confidence that you’re on a right path.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      From what you wrote here, my vote is for impostor syndrome. If your major concern is messing up, then try to remind yourself that you are a human being first. I have also found it helpful to make a rough plan of what I will do if I mess up. Prevention is the best course so I organize resources for my weak spots, too. If you think you have too many weak spots to gather resources for then just go by current needs. What are your current weak spots? If you do this routinely you will have yourself a nice library in years to come.

      In short the answer to impostor syndrome is to find cool ways to step up what you are doing.

  60. AdAgencyChick*

    Is this normal:

    Orientation at my company takes nearly a full day. (9 AM-3 PM) That is long relative to other companies I’ve worked for, but my question is not whether orientation is too long (it is, IMO; a lot of it could be done more efficiently and it gives a first impression that we’re boring as hell to work for!). My question is, is it normal for orientation to be that long and not to include lunch? On my first day, they turned us out at 12 and said “see you at 1, bye!” They didn’t make arrangements for me to meet with my supervisor or anyone I’d actually be working with, just “come back in an hour!”

    I think it feels pretty unwelcoming to handle orientation this way, and since I have a new employee starting in a couple of weeks I’ve cleared my schedule and asked him to text me when his break happens so that I’m able to take him to lunch between the morning and afternoon sessions. But I think it would be a nice gesture either to have the new hires go out to lunch together, or to make sure that the new hire’s manager or a “buddy” from their team takes her out on her first day. Amirite?

    1. Liana*

      I have no idea how big your company is, but that’s pretty standard at mine (my organization has 18K employees, so it’s pretty huge). I also don’t remember orientation including lunch. How big is your company?

    2. CheeryO*

      Yeah, it would be nice to include either an organized lunch outing or some kind of catering/subs/whatever. I’m weird and would probably prefer having an hour alone to decompress between sessions, but it’s not the most welcoming message.

    3. MsMaryMary*

      The places I’ve worked have made a special effort to make sure new hires have lunch planned for them for the first few days. Different places have done it differently, but there’s usually a lunch with the new hire’s manager, the new team, and maybe the new hire’s coach within the first week. When I had project management but not people management responsibilities, I liked to have lunch with new hires to introduce myself. I do think it’s odd to tell a newbie they’re on their own for the first day.

    4. Nanc*

      I think it depends on the person. It’s been years since I went to an orientation but I was quite happy to take myself off to lunch and decompress for an hour. I sat there, ate and read over materials and took a short walk.
      There’s nothing wrong with suggesting a group lunch or offering to take your new hire to lunch, but it could be that not everyone in the orientation minds having that time to themselves. You could ask your new hire would they like to have lunch with you, or would they like some suggestions where they could grab a quiet lunch and let their brain relax.

    5. Redrum*

      My previous company catered lunch on orientation day and invited each person’s manager to join them.

    6. Applesauced*

      I started a few months ago, and the first day was 9-12 orientation, 12-1 lunch with your buddy, 1-5 more orientation.
      Yes to lunch – with a buddy is great, the “orientation-ers”can be a bit… cheerlead-y, and it’s nice to get other prospective.
      Does your orientation need to be that long? It’s A LOT to take in, and most of what they went over doesn’t relate to me, and by the time I need to book a business trip I won’t remember what I learned on day one.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Does it need to be six hours? HELL NO, not in my opinion. But my power to change that is pretty minuscule — it’s driven by HR, not us worker bees.

    7. AnotherFed*

      We have a morning session for all the new hires, then they get cut free for lunch. Usually the group they’re working with and the hiring manager take them to lunch, and afterwards go into job and group specific orientation stuff. That’s pretty informal, though, and is usually up to the hiring manager to coordinate and pay for out of pocket.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        On your first day, it’s always nice to at least know the lunch possibilities around the office. (Canteen, Supermarket, Fast Food, Pizzaria, Delivery Service etc.)

    8. Laura*

      I work at a large public university and every new hire is required to go to orientation lasting a little longer than that. It takes place at HR, which is offsite from the main campus. When I was hired, my boss didn’t ask me to do anything that first day except to attend orientation. She considered the next day my real “first day” since orientation is usually so mundane and exhausting, you just want to go home once it’s over!

      That being said, I was the only new hire in my office at the time, so there were no friendships to be made. I love that you care about this so much!

    9. hermit crab*

      I agree that it’s a nice gesture. We don’t have a formal orientation in any way, shape, or form, and new hires still get taken out to lunch on their first day!

    10. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      My orientation was a week of this, although lunch was included and it was 8am – 5pm. We did introductions, learned about the companies history, and a whole host of other things that were not useful. I’ve yet to have a useful orientation at a company – so I would love to hear of anyone who has had orientation they thought was helpful.

  61. Job Searching*

    I haven’t had much luck in my job search yet. I registered with a staffing agency and they sent me a few jobs right away. But I have to send in my resume without knowing what the company is. The industry was mentioned and it’s one that I don’t think would be a good fit. I think it might actually be a company I’ve been hoping to avoid, in part because of a few people I know who work there (long story). What should I do?

    1. Liana*

      I used a staffing agency after I graduated college, to great success. It might depend on the specific agency, but I would suggest just telling them! If they try sending you to to interview for a job in Industry A, and you really don’t think it would be a good fit, I don’t see anything wrong with telling them this and explaining why your skills are not well suited. I’d also recommend focusing on why you don’t think you’d be a good fit for that industry, and not on a specific company and why you want to avoid people there. You may have perfectly legitimate reasons (I can think of a few previous coworkers where I’d rather chew my own arm off than work with them again), but it might bring some judgement.

      1. Job Searching*

        That’s pretty much what I was thinking. I’m in a tough position right now, though. I intentionally took some time off between jobs. I knew this could make it harder to find something again and now that’s what I’m running into. I’m not sure if I should talk to the staffing agency further about my skills and interests or just appreciate that they’re sending me something.

        1. Liana*

          I think it’s totally possible to do both. You can be appreciative of the opportunities they’re sending your way while also clarifying your own skillset in order to find the best fit. They’re a business, not a charity – it’s a two-way street to find something you like (and they get their commission). They should also want to find something you’re well-suited for, because their reputation is dependent on sending their best possible candidates to interview with the businesses they work with.

  62. CultureFit*

    Hi all — I’m in the late rounds of interviewing for a job that I’m really excited about. The job responsibilities reflect exactly what I’m looking to do, the organization itself is really well-respected and does good work, and it would be a substantial pay increase for me.

    However, I do have some concerns about the culture fit. They have a results-oriented work environment, which sounds great in theory, but seems a bit constraining in reality. And while everyone I’ve met has been incredibly nice and seem superbly competent, I didn’t meet anyone where there was an immediate ‘click.’ (Perhaps not unusual, but I’ve been lucky in the past!)

    So, two questions:
    1. Has anyone worked in a results-oriented workplace? If so, what should I be prepared for if I’m offered (and accept) the position?
    2. Are there particular questions you’ve asked that have helped you suss out the organization’s culture?


    1. ROWE employee*

      So, I work in a results only environment (ROWE) and I love it, but I know that even within our organization there’s a lot of variation in how it works out in practice. So my experience of ROWE might not at all be how you would experience it. That said, here’s some things I’d probably try to suss out, if you haven’t already:

      -What are the norms in the team you’ll be in? For example, do most people tend to come in to work on a daily basis, or is it common to work from home 2-3 days a week? I would particularly try to find out what the hiring manager’s schedule is like (which may or may not have an impact on your potential schedule), as well as her expectations for the person in this position.
      -How do the position duties affect ROWE–for example, if this position is about providing on-site support during specific hours, that position is going to have a lot less flexibility with ROWE than someone who could potentially do their job from anywhere, anytime.

      As far as things to be prepared for, in no particular order:
      -When you do go in to work, it might feel empty compared to other workplaces. It’s pretty rare that everyone in our team is all in the office at the same time. It may take longer than normal to get to know people you’re working with, because you likely won’t see them every day. I think some people can find it a little bit lonely.
      -99% of all meetings, even 1-on-1 meetings, will have a webex/conference call component.
      -You’ll probably need to spend some time learning your coworkers’ communication and work styles, as well as your own. For example, I’ve found that I’m really happiest when I’m physically in the office for our large team meeting, rather than calling in, but smaller meetings, I don’t mind calling in at all. (But others call in to the team meeting regularly, so that’s not true for everyone!)
      -Taking time off isn’t so much about requesting approval as it is making sure someone can cover for you. I think some people feel like “unlimited time off” means there’s no motivation to ever take time off, so don’t fall into that trap–make sure you plan for time off. In my experience, people are always happy to cover for you, and there’s a lot of value placed on work-life balance.

      It’s not for everyone, but in the end, I really value ROWE, and generally, I find that the people I work with feel the same way.

      1. CultureFit*

        Thank you so much! This is incredibly helpful (and have calmed some of my worries a bit!) Of all of these things, it’s the lack of in-person communication that seems like it might be difficult to adjust to. I’ll be sure to ask the questions regarding team norms — I didn’t ask that in my previous conversations. Thanks again!

        1. ROWE employee*

          If in-person communication is something that is important to you, you can definitely find ways to make it happen–for example, making sure you’re in the office on the same days as your coworkers. (For me, Tuesdays and to a lesser extent, Thursdays.) Or I’ll email someone about something and end with “let’s chat about this more when we’re both in the office again–for me that’s tomorrow, how about you?”

  63. Lillian McGee*

    I wonder if I am stuck in my job…

    It’s totally fulfilling for now, but this week I saw an admin job opening at a museum which, as an art lover would be SO cool to have… and I fantasized about applying but when I thought about the references question…

    This is my first professional job and I have been here for six years. All my references are here! I don’t think they would do anything like fire me for looking, but they would be very very disappointed and the guilt would kill me. Any advice?

    1. Liana*

      What about professors from college, or coworkers/managers that used to work at your organization but have since left? Or a manager from an internship?? Who did you use as a reference for your current job?

      Finding references when you’re just out of school can be a pain in the ass, but … you have to move on from your first job at some point (especially after 6 years!). I think you should apply and see a) how many references they ask for, and b) think about who you used for references in the past, and consider reaching out to them. Luckily, the reference stage is usually the last in the interview process, so you have time to think about it. Good luck!

      1. Lillian McGee*

        Haha. I did my internship here. Literally all my managers are here! I don’t remember who I used to get the internship… probably my manager at the Subway I was working at at the time… urgh.
        I think former coworkers would be the best I could do. Which may work out because I was in a not-directly-but-still-subordinate role to some of them.

        1. Liana*

          For my current job, I used a former coworker as one of my references, because I was still in my first post-grad job at the time. I let the hiring manager know upfront and she was totally fine with it.

      2. Guinness*

        I was promoted internally, so I use my former manager who is now my peer (and she is looking too so doesn’t really mind being a reference), another peer, and a former manager who left and works somewhere else now. Good luck!

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Have you had any managers or senior people who have moved to new jobs who could be a reference for you? Or maybe a client/partner who you’ve worked with closely?

      Keep in mind, all those people can still be risky, depending on their ties back to your current org. I have former senior coworkers who I keep in touch with, but who also keep in close touch with my current managers, so I wouldn’t necessarily trust them.

  64. Conflicted*

    I have been on the job-hunt for about 2-3 months, and finally feel close to a good match after 3 rounds of interviews with the team and completing an in depth assignment which I received positive feedback for. I should be hearing a decision any day.

    During this job searching process I have been confiding in my mentor, a colleague I worked closely with at a former organization and have stayed closed with since. I always enjoyed working with him, and he was senior to me, but I never reported directly to him and thus we always maintained a very informal and friendly relationship. I just found out that he, coincidentally, is interviewing for the position that my (potential) role would be reporting into. I feel very conflicted about this for two reasons 1: He is a strong reference for me from my former company and now I am not sure I would still be able to use him now that he is also seeking a position at the company 2. Although I liked working with him, I do not want to work FOR him and this is making me view the position in a totally new and negative way.

    I know neither of us could get the job, or one of us, but I can’t stop thinking about the ‘what if’.


    1. Not So NewReader*

      I’d line up another reference in case they ask. However this may be a moot point.

      If you are viewing the position in a negative way, then your answer is not to apply for it. Don’t put yourself in places where you feel you will not succeed. Only apply to jobs where you feel you stand a good chance at doing well.

  65. Liana*

    I have a coworker who has just had a sudden death in the family. The death was not expected, and involved a child. It was shocking and traumatic, and I just … I have no idea how to respond in a helpful manner. She’s taking a couple weeks off, and our department is sending flowers and food to her family, but I can’t even begin to understand how she feels right now and I’m not sure how to help her without being intrusive or nosy or just plain in the way. We’re not particularly close, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable texting her privately, but she’s a good coworker and I, along with the rest of the department, want to make her transition back into the workforce as easy as possible. Does anyone have any experience or words of wisdom on how to handle this? Should I say something directly, ignore the elephant in the room, or do something else entirely?

    Tangentially related: I was talking with another coworker about this issue and we were trying to figure out the best way to deal with this, when a third coworker (Lucinda) piped up with all these awful, contrite statements like “All you can really do is pray for her” and “Sometimes these things happen for a reason”, which I HATE SO MUCH and it’s getting on my nerves. I’m pretty much at BEC stage with Lucinda anyway, so I may not be entirely reasonable at this point, but phrases like this are such a hot button issue for me that as soon as she said that I just sort of stared at her and went back to talking to my other coworker.

    1. eunice*

      I’m so sorry to hear that, and I too agree about the stupidity of “Sometimes these things happen for a reason.”

    2. Sweet Potato*

      If you’re not close, I don’t think you have to say anything. Just be really really nice to her and give her space if she seems to need it.

      And I would find those comments irritating too.

    3. Silver Radicand*

      Honestly, when I am not sure, I generally just offer my condolences and let them know I’m thinking about them. Then I try to treat them as normal as possible, with the understanding that small talk might not happen/be the same for a couple days.

    4. fposte*

      I think you don’t ignore the elephant in the room, but you also don’t dwell and make her feel like she has to say anything beyond “Thanks.” “I’m so sorry for your loss, and we missed you” should cover it. Obviously you can gauge it to her reaction, but in general, when you’re bereaved the traditional script is a great gift, because you can say your lines without having to think more deeply.

      And be ready to cut Lucinda off at the pass if you hear her start on your co-worker–not to openly disagree with her, because your co-worker doesn’t need people fighting about condolences at work, but just to ask her about a file, or her new boyfriend, or whatever.

    5. anonanonanon*

      I have a hard time not snapping at people when they make those comments because I think they’re rude and insensitive. The last thing a lot of people wants to hear is that a person they cared about died for “a reason”.

      If you’re not really close, I don’t think you have to go out of your way to say anything. It’s hard because everyone takes things differently, but I know when I had someone close to me die, I was uncomfortable with people I didn’t know well offering condolences or bringing it up because I didn’t really want to grieve with them. Offer condolences if you feel the situation calls for it, but recognize that she might not want to discuss or acknowledge it and give her the space to do that.

      1. Liana*

        Thanks! I suspect she might fall into that camp. She’s generally fairly private and I worry that offering standard condolences would make her uncomfortable. On the other hand, I don’t want to seem insensitive or that I don’t care about her grief, because I do.

        The comment that actually sent me over the edge was the “All we can really do is pray for her.” (Full disclosure: I am an atheist). But just … NO. No, there are lots of things we can do besides pray for her, including sending food, covering work shifts, or handling logistical issues that may fall by the wayside. There are tons of things that we can do that are more immediately helpful, so it just struck me as a comment that was made to assuage Lucinda’s conscience rather than out of a desire to help the grieving coworker.

        1. Sadsack*

          I see nothing wrong with making that last statement to Lucinda, in a nice and matter of fact sort of way.

        2. fposte*

          The thing is, it’s so, so much more hurtful to say nothing to somebody who doesn’t feel awkward about a condolence than it is to make somebody awkward by offering a condolence she didn’t need. Unless you know for 99% sure–like somebody said she’s asked not to hear it any more–go with the condolence. Just make it simple and move on.

    6. Kay*

      Say something. Don’t just ignore the elephant in the room. But don’t expect coworker to be communicative either. Let her tell you if she wants to talk about it – she may, she may not. I think the kindest thing would be to just tell her that you are thinking about her, that you are deeply sorry for her loss, and to treat her normally.

      Lucinda is a jerk. That’s never the right thing to say, ESPECIALLY about the death of a child.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have a related question coming in tomorrow’s short-answer post! But in this situation, when she returns, I’d say to her, “I’m so, so sorry about your loss. If there’s anything that I can do to make your life easier right now, please don’t hesitate to ask — I’d really like to.” And then I’d also look for low-key ways to do that without even telling her about it too.

      1. Liana*

        Thank you Alison! I really like that wording – I think I’m going to steal it. I have a couple weeks until she returns anyway, but I’m also a fan of looking for low-key ways of helping out.

      2. Ad Astra*

        I like that you added the “if there’s anything I can do” line. I’m sure people usually assume you’re just saying it to be nice, but at least it gives them an opening to ask for whatever favor or accommodation might help. I’m usually happy to run errands or take over a task or cover a shift, but it’s not always clear from the outside what someone needs.

    8. Lady Kelvin*

      One of my co-workers just lost his son in February suddenly (he went to the ER for a really high fever and died a few hours later) and so we all just went through this thing on how to talk about grief with co-workers. There are lots of resources on the google, but I think the biggest thing is to 1. Don’t ignore it, definitely acknowledge their loss and give your condolences, tell them not to worry about work for a while, etc; and 2. let them decide how much to talk about it. The biggest thing about my coworker is that he just had his second son last week (yep less than a month after the passing of his 1-yr old son he had another) and it was a relief to everyone when he talked about how difficult and conflicting his emotions were right now. But not making a big deal out of it is important too.

    9. cjb1*

      I’m so sorry to hear about this. I agree so much with Alison with finding low-key ways to do things for her and definitely get rid of Lucinda if she starts trying to engage too much with the employee.

      Also, when someone says, “This happened for a reason.” I just want to be like, “If you had to name it, what do you think the reason was specifically?” Obviously, I don’t have the guts to engage in something like that, but seriously.

      1. Liana*

        I wish I could say that. Unfortunately, in the interest of maintaining good professional relationships with Lucinda, I probably won’t, but it’s super tempting.

    10. tk*

      My brother died unexpectedly at the age of 30 last year, and my coworkers were amazing. Obviously anyone saying that this happened for a reason is ridiculous and that should never be said/implied to someone going through a loss. The other thing that really bothered me was people saying “I can’t imagine” because it made me feel like, well aren’t you lucky that you don’t have to imagine going through this. I know that’s probably overly sensitive and they meant well, but I now hate that phrase. I don’t think that you should ignore it, but just say/email something heartfelt like “I’m so sorry for your loss, I’ve been thinking about you”. Hearing that kind of sentiment meant a lot to me.

      When I came back to work, I had a care package at my desk that was a gift bag of comforting things – a fuzzy blanket, a candle, a bottle of wine, a coffee gift card, as well as a regular gift card because everyone was so generous that the gift assemblers didn’t know what to do with the rest of the money. There was also a really nice card that people signed. It was so thoughtful it made me cry, but in a “I’m really lucky to work with these people” way. I was friends with some of my coworkers, but certainly if she is private she might not want it acknowledged in that way. In that case, I would just recommend buying a heartfelt card and having people sign it.

      1. Liana*

        This is good to know. I want to avoid saying something that would make her feel worse, and I’ll definitely keep in mind that saying “I can’t imagine” might not come across the way I want to.

        I also love the idea of a gift basket of comforting things.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Every loss is different and each of us can have different reactions to different losses.
        Confusing matters grief snowballs, all our previous griefs can roll forward into the new grief. UGH! This means it’s impossible to predict what she will want/need or what will resonate with her.

        Not to be confusing, but just as an example: I loved it when people told me “I can’t imagine…” and this is because I had years of people telling me exactly what I SHOULD feel and WHEN I should feel it. It was nice to be around people who were honest and did not pretend to “know all about what I was going through”. It’s differences in people and differences in life experiences. It’s good to realize that you may not say the perfect thing, all you can do is try.

        I think try this then try that but don’t keep doing the same thing every day. If you ask her if she wants help with something today, then don’t ask tomorrow. She knows you will help, if you ask every day it gets awkward. So maybe a few days later buy her a coffee or whatever. Mix it up, do different things. Remember, nothing has to be big.

        One thing I feel that we do wrong as a society is we do everything for the grieving person. So, peach, their heart is broken in five places and people think they can’t do the simplest tasks. It’s good to ask permission before lending a hand. Her car won’t start- ask before you drag out the jumper cables, don’t assume.

        Sometimes just keeping a caring eye from a distance is enough. When my husband passed, I had to learn to use the tractor. This was a bfd, in part because grief took away my ability to concentrate which I needed to do while driving this beast. A couple neighbors just did spot checks by looking out their windows when they heard me mowing. One neighbor who is a good friend, would check the window when she heard me stop or slow way down. Just knowing there is a safety net is such a comfort.

    11. KR*

      I’ll echo the others, having gone through a couple of significant losses in life. For me, the way to go is to acknowledge the loss ONCE with a heartfelt statement (some good suggestions here). Then let life go on as normal, while being sensitive to the fact that the person is in a heightened emotional state, most likely not taking enough time for herself, and stressed with all the things that go with death like funerals, divvying up belongings, so on.
      Some pet peeves from someone who’s been there include bringing it up every time you see the person, constantly asking how the person is, trying to shelter the person or infantilize them because They Must Be So Sad, talking to them about your own losses, forgetting that they are more than That Lady Who Lost Someone, and thinking every time they’re not smiling that they’re actively grieving and about to burst into tears (they might be, but they might also have a stomachache/be figuring out a problem at work/hungry/ect).

    12. Lauren*

      When this person comes back, having so many people come to her to say this may end up being traumatic. It is going to take a lot of mental / emotional preparation to go to work and do the simplest of things after such a loss. You may want to designate someone in the office to say this on everyone’s behalf on the day she comes back. You don’t want to trigger emotions that may boil over with every new person offering in-person condolences. Also, most people are not special snowflakes / close friends of the coworker – if you go the ‘spokesperson’ route – get people to understand why this may be better than individually offering condolences leading to 10-30 individual interactions on her first day back.

    13. orchidsandtea*

      The kindest thing you can do is be purposeful and warm, focused on the task at hand. Also, please cheerfully interrupt Lucinda if she starts to say that to your grieving coworker—cut her off mid-sentence and ask about something work-related, or get her advice on something, or anything it takes. We had a loss in the family recently, and dealing with others’ emotional reactions was exhausting. Platitudes made me angry, advice made me angry, sympathy made me sadder. I am religious and I do want people praying for me, but those sorts of comments are intrusive, disrespectful, shallow, and unhelpful. Especially if your coworker is a private person, insulating her from Lucinda is the greatest kindness you can do her.

      Also, please be as patient as possible if it takes a few months for your coworker to be all the way present, mentally. The emotional centers in the brain are responsible for a lot of things we don’t normally think about, including decision-making, so it can be unexpectedly hard to get back up to speed when you’re emotionally overloaded.

    14. No Longer Just a Lurker*

      The biggest thing I have realized after losing someone suddenly (my FIL) is that it really sucks when people start acting like nothing happened several months later. Don’t ignore the elephant. When you first see your coworker back simply tell her you were really sorry to hear about what happened and that it sucks. You will mostly likely be able to tell when she is having a bad day (usually near holidays or important days to that person) and when you do notice, a simple comment like “its got to be hard dealing with birthday/Christmas, etc.. without so and so”. It reminds them that other people remember and give a crap and gives them an outlet to talk about it if they need to.
      FIL passed last April and in January some friends of ours called and set up a little group weekend for everyone and we went to his favorite restaurant and drank copious amounts of tequila and told goofy stories.

  66. pwa*

    Hi all! I applied for a job a month ago at a great company with amazing benefits. I was recently contacted for a phone interview and I’d say it went well. The hiring manager said he’d call me within a few days to schedule an in person interview. After the call, I went back into the online job board to check on my application and I found another position that matches my skills and experience closely. It pays a little less, but I’d be happy to do that job as well. Job posting 2 closes in two weeks, and Job 1 doesn’t have a set interview date but it’s likely going to be around the same time that the Job 2 posting closes. Job 1 and Job 2 would work closely together because they’re in the same division, but have different hiring managers. My question is, do I apply for Job 2 now or wait it out to see how Job 1 interview scheduling pans out? What do you think?

    1. KL*

      Apply for Job 2! Won’t hurt your chances, and will show you’re interested in the organization.

    2. FTW*

      It depends on the situation, but I’d be hesitant to apply to both. As a hiring manager, I’m looking for someone who’s interested in the job I have in my group. I want to hire someone who sees that as part of their career path. If you’re applying for both jobs, you don’t look like you’re really serious about working with me. And if you’re customizing your cover letter for each job, which you should, you will look misaligned saying that you’re passionate about Job X in one letter and then saying the same thing about Job Y in the other.

      The exception would be if the jobs are really similar. However I would not assume that they are even if they’re in the same area. When I am recruiting at universities, many students make the mistake of saying I’ll take any job in your group. The problem is there are a lot of different specialties in the large group, and you have to know what you’re really interested in.

  67. anonnonalltheday*

    My coworkers are constantly whispering in the next cube over. It’s a very quiet office, and our boss sits across and down from us. It’s not work related, but some of it is mean girl style gossip (making unkind remarks about what I was wearing for instance). I try to tune it out by it’s totally distracting. I really don’t like wearing headphones. Since I am new, I am not sure how well me asking them to just talk quietly instead of whispering would go over (” I know you are trying to be polite by whispering, but it really distracts me. Could you just talk quietly?”). We all moved offices a couple weeks after I started, and they were seated next to each other. I don’t want to go to my boss with this. Thoughts?

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Just say what you’ve stated. Chances are they’ll be embarrassed and will move the conversations away from you.

    2. the.kat*

      I think your comment would be entirely appropriate. They may not know how distracting they are and they may know and don’t care. Regardless, your comfort shouldn’t be held captive by their comments. They probably don’t know that you can hear them. Finding out that you can might just rock them back on their heels a little.

    3. No Longer Just a Lurker*

      Next time you are mentioned simply say “good to know – next time I’ll wear the purple shirt” or “you do know I can hear you right?”
      If possible put a camera somewhere that will record their expressions when they realize – could be really funny!

    4. hermit crab*

      I think your suggested wording is perfect! In addition to the totally legit surface reason (that the whispering is distracting), it lets them know that you can hear them without directly calling them out for the gossip situation.

  68. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Last week, it was discovered that I made a big mistake back in November or December. We had no idea. My boss was very, very angry, and I’m lucky to still be here. Ultimately, after some contemplation, it was determined that while the mistake was my responsibility, there were some factors that contributed to the mistake not getting caught and we need to do better.

    Since then, I have been a wreck. I’m having trouble sleeping (the night after this happened I slept for maybe 30 minutes), but the worst part is that I’m now completely paralyzed. I am also running absolutely every single thing by my boss, which is new, and which is obviously starting to annoy him. When I’m asked to update something, I make sure someone else proofs it (which causes delays). These are things we were supposed to be doing all along, but because everyone is so busy, we’d been letting things slide– which is how the mistake happened. The “get it out the door” mentality caused a mess. As a result of this blow-up, I am unfocused, I can’t seem to think for myself, and I question every single decision I make. I worry about things that I would have trusted two weeks ago. I find myself going over everything with a fine-toothed comb, over and over again, making myself crazy– this week, I had about 10 incidents where it looked like I got a number wrong but I was checking against the wrong document and my numbers were actually right.

    What can I do to get past this? Will it simply take time? Should I stop worrying about being annoying and just make sure that I give myself and my team the time and space to do things the right way? What have you done to gain back your focus and trust in yourself after a big mistake?

    1. anonnonalltheday*

      Outside of work, do everything you can to reduce your anxiety. Ambien helps me but your mileage may vary, meditate, exercise, whatever you need to do.
      At work before I run something by my boss I stop and evaluate if I need to do that. Is there another way to get the information for instance? Is it something critical? etc.
      You will get past this. Think of all the times you didn’t make a mistake. You have identified factors that caused the error and ones that will prevent it in the future.
      Right now I would say your anxiety is probably a bigger issue than your competence. I can be the same way! I do a lot of check lists for myself to stop my bad reassurance seeking behaviors!

    2. Confused Publisher*

      First of, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It’s really really hard when your confidence gets knocked like this.
      I wonder: would having a written checklist that you can cross off as you go through the stages/processes, help? That way you can be sure you’ve covered everything you need?
      Also, I don’t know if that’s feasible in your work, but could you finish something, and then let it sit for a bit, and come back to it with fresh(er) eyes? Sometimes I find that it helps me spot things that I missed: for me they were small but significant things that added up and prevented me getting promoted for a long time.
      And, be gentle with yourself. You didn’t mean to mess up, and you’ll do better next time.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Your boss has decided to keep you on. He has also decided to revamp things because he realizes this could happen to anyone.

      Your boss gets to decide if you are fired, not you. Please don’t fire yourself.

      Is this your first big mistake at work? I think most of us have had this happen, with our first (and even our second ) big mistake we learn that the world does not fall apart if we make a large mistake. Life goes on. Which is annoying/scary because we have to prove all over again to ourselves that we CAN do our jobs. It would almost be easier to be fired than to stay in the situation! “please let me out of this nightmare!”

      Get some good foods into you, as someone with this level of stress is likely to burn through vitamins and minerals like wildfire, which will only raise your stress levels. Get a drink with electrolytes in it. Maybe get some calming herbal teas to drink.

      Next. Watch your self-talk. Pretend this happened to a friend. How would you speak to that friend? You would not tell her everything she does is wrong, right? So don’t speak this way to yourself. Correct your negative thought with an affirmation such as “I CAN do a good job.”

      Next. Starting Monday, make a point to run into your boss’ office less. Find reasons NOT to go running for assurances. See, when you run in there you are validating the negative thoughts in your head. Don’t feed the Negative Nancys in your brain.

      This weekend. Realize that the lack of concentration maybe from grief. Grief is just not for situations where someone died. Grief can also be for situations where we feel we have let others down and even more disturbingly we let ourselves down. Cry. Have a good cry this weekend, put on some sad music or whatever, if you need help getting the tears rolling.
      Here’s a secret. You did not let yourself or others down as badly as you think. You caught the mistake. THINK. You caught the mistake.

      All is not lost here. You’ve had a verrry bad scare. That is all it is, a very bad scare. You have taken the situation to heart strongly enough that you probably will not make a mistake of this magnitude for a long time, if at all. Tell yourself the situation is over, it has been remedied. Don’t allow the tapes inside your mind to bamboozle you into thinking the mistake is happening fresh each day. It’s not. It’s over.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thank you. Really, all of you, thank you so much. I think my biggest problem is that I went very far in my career with only a few bumps, then I moved to a position where I felt like I knew less than nothing. A big, steep learning curve, but so far I’ve been proving what an asset I am. That all came crashing down on me last week.

        I need a rest, to be honest. I need to get out of my own head. I have a four-day weekend coming up in three weeks, and I’m kind of pushing toward that. My boss will also be on vacation soon, so it will be a chance to refresh without having to see him on a daily basis.

        The one big thing I have to remember here is that my team has been AMAZINGLY supportive. And they are for a reason. Sigh. I used to tell my team that they need to have something else going on outside of work so their mistakes don’t feel so earth-shattering, and I guess I ought to take my own advice.

    4. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Mistakes happen.

      I once screwed up bonuses and over paid staff $5,000 one month. Since HR DOES NOT like to take money back from people, we ate it. My boss was basically like – it’s okay. Mistakes happen. Please review the process to see how the mistake happened and come back to me with recommendations to insure it does not happen again.

      Your boss should have said the same thing. Stop killing yourself over the error.

  69. Mona Lisa*

    Thanks to everyone who commented last week on how to deal with my teacher’s upcoming bad resume advice! I e-mailed him with my concerns and a few links to other articles and the AAM blog. He responded to say that the rubric came from the professor who wrote the course curriculum (as I’d thought) but that he’d be glad to have me talk about my experience with writing cover letters and resumes and interviewing! I’m going to work with him to develop a short presentation in which I will surely feature lots of AAM advice.

    In bizarre work news, I ran into my former CEO from my last job at a bar yesterday, and she was completely blasted. She kept spouting off stuff about how they’d finally hired someone to replace me (7 months after I gave notice) and how she was done with working at LastJob. I kept asking where she was going next and getting confused looks in response. She also insisted on buying me a drink and wouldn’t let me get back to my husband and friends until I’d had one with her, which was awkward to say the least.

    I texted my former co-worker/friend to relay my surprise that she hadn’t told me about the leadership change, and she had absolutely no knowledge of it. I mentioned that I’d run into the CEO at the bar, and the co-worker said that CEO had left ill at noon so I think she’d been drinking there for about six hours when I arrived. There were rumors of her showing up to work and events (where children were present) inebriated when I worked there and afterward though I never personally witnessed it. I’m kind of concerned about her and what appears to be a drinking problem (she said last night, “What should it matter if I drink all night? I still show up to work before 9!”), but it’s not my circus at this point. I’m so glad I got out of there when I did!

  70. Worried Walrus*

    Hi all,
    I’m going to give notice at my job and I’m very anxious about doing it. I’m vaguely unhappy at the current job,but don’t really know why. When I’m asked why, should I say that or just make up some BS about better opportunity (it’s not really), more money (technically, yes, but it’s a negligible increase), what it is is a former employer that I’m comfortable with. I left primarily because there were two people I really didn’t like, who have since been fired.
    I’m also feeling a little guilty because I know the workload is starting to pick up and I’m putting them in a bind by leaving. I’m a little fearful that they are going to be spiteful and term me on the spot, which leads me to my next question, how binding are employee handbooks? Ours clearly states if you give at least two weeks notice and are released, they will pay out the notice up to two weeks. Now my rational mind says they aren’t going to open themselves up to a potential lawsuit over what amounts to two weeks pay and 1 week vacation pay, but I’m nervous about giving notice and not thinking clearly :). I should add there is no reason to believe any of this will happen, but like I said I’m nervous about it and fearing the worst. Talk some sense to me please!

    1. Tiger Feet*

      Resigning is hooooorrible (despite Friday afternoon fantasies of telling your boss to stick it, slamming the door on your way out, sunglasses on, peace out etc.). Overthinking it will make it worse – write a very brief, factual letter of resignation and take your boss to one side. You don’t have to give a specific reason, stick to the BS, it’s simply a “new and exciting opportunity”. My hands were shaking so badly when I resigned (to nightmare evil boss) that it looked like I was fanning him with the paper rather than handing it to him. He was surprised but ultimately, if you’re upbeat and enthusiastic, people tend to follow suit. Be as helpful as possible during your notice but don’t feel guilty, life goes on in business and they will cope. Good luck!

      1. Worried Walrus*

        Actually, this would be so much easier if they were horrible people, but my boss is pretty decent. So is there a good time for this discussion? I don’t want to ambush her when she walks in on Monday morning, but probably don’t want to do a hit and run on my way out the door.

    2. Packers Fan*

      When I left my last job I was able to catch my boss at 2pm but it was the week before the Christmas and New Years holiday. Surprisingly (to me) she was really cool about it. We had a lot of new trainings and programs rolling out (I was the trainer) but I needed to do what was best for me and she understood that. I don’t think there is ever a good time to give notice. The important thing to remember is everyone comes out of the on the other side. Unless you’ve seen other people who were terminated as soon as they gave notice I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I also think that if your employee handbook says they will pay if you are released immediately that you will get paid. If it makes you feel better, make a copy of this page and take it home so that you have it just in case.

      Good luck and congrats on your new job!

  71. ActualName*

    I just accepted my first job this past Wednesday! :D
    I’ll be working at a girl scout camp and I’m so excited!!!

    1. Silver Radicand*

      Congrats! I still remember my first job and I learned a lot from it. I hope yours turns out well too!

    2. ActualName*

      Thank’s both! I applied for a lot of jobs and this is the one I wanted the most.

    3. AFT123*

      That sounds like an absolute BLAST! Great job, and have so much fun! I loved Girl Scout camp and can’t wait until my own children can be in Scouts.

    4. hermit crab*

      As a former girl scout camp attendee, congratulations and I bet it will be great!

      Do you get to pick an awesome code-name that the campers will call you? That was A Thing at the camp I went to — I remember staff members named Spider, Pizza, etc. — and it was this fabulous huge reveal on the last day of camp when the staff told you their real names. :)

      1. ActualName*

        Well, I’m filling out new hire paper work and there is a place for “camp name” but I don’t get to pick it at this step. Either it will come up during orientation or it’s just a nick name and me real name isn’t kept a secret.

        I have a name that is a word. It’s an /super/ unusual name. I’ve only met one person who’s name was the same as mine, she is a Chinese exchange student and spells it differently. So I’d love to be able to go with my real name for my code name and then have it be revealed that yes, that is my actual legal name. It would just be so cool….

  72. Ann Furthermore*

    Should your LinkedIn profile be the same or similar to your resume? I’ve seen people with just their company name and job title, but with no detail. And I’ve seen people with huge amounts of detail for every job. Is there a preferred way to do it? A way to do it that gets your profile viewed more?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think there are any hard-and-fast rules about how to do your LinkedIn profile. Like you, I’ve seen it every which way:

      1. Exact copy of résumé.
      2. Titles with short descriptions.
      3. Only titles.
      4. Only the most recent job.

    2. Laura*

      I use LinkedIn as the place for the most information. So, I have all the jobs I’ve ever worked on there, with detailed descriptions of what each position entailed. But when I applied for my current job, I only put my relevant experience (why should they care that I was a high school lifeguard?). You can use it however you want!

  73. Anon4This*

    Do you think it’s ethical to use sick days for recovery from a partially cosmetic surgical procedure? I’m getting a septorhinoplasty in a couple months to correct my deviated septum – my health insurance deemed it medically necessary since I have breathing issues, but I’m also having some minor cosmetic work done at the same time (namely, getting a bump shaved down and having the tip rotated a bit). The recovery time is about a week, and it would be the same even if I were just getting my septum fixed.

    I work for state government, and my boyfriend was horrified that I was planning on using sick time instead of vacation days. I know I should probably just run it by my boss, but I was curious what the general consensus would be. I hadn’t even given it a second thought! I get 13 sick days per year, and they roll over and get paid out when you quit/retire.

    1. neverjaunty*

      My new phrase today is “a big bag of dumb”, and I am applying it to your boyfriend. You’ll be recovering from a medical procedure. Even if, for the sake of argument, there were something wrong with taking sick leave for purely cosmetic surgery (there isn’t), it’s incidental to the medically necessary surgery you’re getting.

      Look at it this way – if you were sent on a business trip for a week, and you watched a pay-per-view movie in your room one evening after work, would you use vacation time to ‘cover’ the movie-watching because it wasn’t strictly part of your workday? Would your boyfriend be horrified that you happened to watch a movie while you were on a business trip? Of course not.

      1. Anon4This*

        “Big bag of dumb,” love it. Thanks for backing me up. I don’t think he understands how miserable I’m going to be that week. I think he’s picturing me reading books by the pool or something. Anyway, I appreciate the input.

        1. Same Surgery*

          I had the same surgery in my teens and the recovery is miserable. It’s just so uncomfortable for a few days. I slept a lot.

    2. Marketeer*

      If it’s the same recovery time as what you would need for just your septum, then I can’t imagine why it would be any different. I would take them as sick days if I were you.