open thread – April 22-23, 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 :)

{ 1,370 comments… read them below }

  1. ZombieGurl*

    My boss is often very hard to pin down when I need to talk to her about something. She’s often in meetings both in and out of the office and her calendar is infamously incorrect most of the time. When I need to give my two weeks notice to leave the job, should I send her an email that basically says ‘Need to speak with you, please come find me when you have a moment’?

    It’s not something I’d normally do but my work also never had a deadline so I usually just talk to her whenever I’m able to find her. I think an email would be the best way to let her know that I need to talk to her, and soon, but will also probably give her a heads up that something is up since I’ve never sent an email like that before. Should this be the way I go or is there another way to get her attention?

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      I’d aim for softer language. Just that you’d like to have an in-person meeting and when would she have time.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Agree. Maybe something like, “Need a few minutes today, when would be a good time?”

        1. Rob Lowe can't read*

          You might also suggest one or two times, ex. “I can stop by your office at 10:15 or 1:30, or let me know if there’s a time that works better for you.” This is what I usually do when I’m trying to schedule a quick check in with my boss (or anyone else I work with, we’re not really a calendar using workplace).

    2. Charlotte Collins*

      I would try scheduling a short meeting. Based on your description, this seems to be the best way to make sure you’ll get actual face time with her.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      I’d send an email except instead of asking for time to speak with her, say it in the email. “I wasn’t sure I’d have a chance to grab you in person for this, but I wanted to let you know ASAP that I’m putting in my notice and my last day here will be X. I’d still like to sit down with you and go over what needs to be done in the meantime so please come find me when you have a moment.”

      1. gsa*

        ^^^this and maybe attach the formal letter.

        BTW, are you leaving, planning to leave, or something else…

        Good luck regardless.

    4. Rat Racer*

      I had a boss like this – I used to camp outside her office for a chance to talk to her, and follow her into elevators to get in a 30 second question on her way to the top floor. She didn’t respond to email, text or voicemail, and cancelled our 1:1s about 80% of the time, so acting like a pathetic stalker was seriously the only way to resolve issues that required her input.

      For your situation, I don’t recommend announcing your departure in an elevator, but maybe you can catch her in her office between meetings?

      1. Beezus*

        Haha, I had one like that, too. And when he did encounter me in hallways on a busy day when he didn’t have time to talk, he’d avoid eye contact and wouldn’t say hello – I could almost hear the “donttalktomedonttalktomepleasedonttalktome” prayer in his head. I minded it less because you could tell he felt terrible about it, and he did eventually get it fixed – he split off one big process and about 1/3 of the team to work under another director who had time, and added a mid-level management role to handle another process and ~1/3 of his direct reports.

        1. Beezus*

          Oh, strategies – I paid attention to which times were best to catch him (noon and at the end of the day) and tried to ambush him then. I also knew which times were always awful (right before his Tuesday staff meeting was a no-go unless something was literally on fire). I’d also give him a heads up (“Hey, I need 10 minutes of your time sometime today to talk about the ACME project – I will work with any time you have, but it has to be today”). I always made sure to tell him how much time I thought I needed, and I always led with the most important thing in case I got cut short. If I could tell it was a bad day/time, I’d prep as much as I could and make sure I was coming with specific problems and solutions he could say yes/no to, instead of expecting a discussion. If I could frame it as one quick question or a one-sentence FYI update and it was urgent, I’d just send him a text instead.

    5. Ralish*

      I think your note is right (although you might say “I need to speak with you today.”) And yes, she’ll likely understand that something is up, which means she’ll be more likely to carve out a few minutes to speak with you. Good luck!

    6. Lily in NYC*

      Does your group send calendar invites? If so, how about emailing her and letting her know you need to put a few minutes on her calendar and then send the invite. Or if she has an assistant, ask him/her to find a time for you to meet.

    7. Soupspoon McGee*

      If she is impossible to pin down for even a few minutes, give her two attempts to meet with you, then email her your notice and note you’d like to talk about it.

  2. Fallow*

    Today is my last day at my current company and I have an exiting interview with HR this afternoon. At least 50% of the reason why I am leaving is because I cannot stand working with my co-worker, “Bob”, anymore. I brought concerns to my boss about him twice in four months and my boss told me the first time that he was new to the working world and to cut him slack, and the second time told me that we didn’t have to be friends, we just had to work together.

    Working with Bob was miserable. We were hired on the same day in a brand new department of the company doing something that the company had never tried before to see if it would take off. Bob had just graduated college and was joining the field for the first time. I had been in this field for years.

    To make a year-long story short, after 2 weeks Bob realized he was in over his head and shut down. He wouldn’t do his assigned work, he wouldn’t pick up any work from our shared pool unless I specifically told him to, and the customer suffered because of it. He would come in and browse Facebook or play games on his phone and completely ignore his work. Our work is customer serviced based and his interactions with customers were cringe-worthy and I was embarrassed by the way he represented the company. Customers eventually stopped wanting to deal with him.

    Fast forward a year and Bob is a nightmare. We had to hire a 3rd person in my department because Bob comes in 20 minutes late, takes 1 1/2 hour lunches, then starts packing up at 4:45 on the dot while the department is still hustling with work. He has a bad attitude if you ask him the status of his work or to pick up additional work and will either give a smart-ass remark, grunt, or just ignore you all together.

    The new hire, Jane, openly despises Bob. Jane is encouraging me to speak up about Bob during my exit interview since she has also went to Boss and he waved her off with the same excuses. I feel like the exit interview isn’t the place to air dirty laundry about co-workers and I don’t want to jeopardize the professional relationship I have with my boss. Aside from Bob my boss and I worked very well together and he was pleased with my work.

    What are your thoughts on this? Do I go ahead or just leave it behind me?

    1. Kasia*

      If they ask why you’re leaving I think you should tell them the truth. You don’t have to go into detail unless they really ask but there’s no reason for you to keep this a secret. Don’t expect things to change for Jane though, I’m sure management knows about Bob and they don’t seem to care.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Leave it behind. You’ve recognized the most important point: not to jeopardize the relationship with the boss, who will be your future reference.

      I’ve never actually seen any action taken by a company on items brought up during exit interviews, anyway.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I’m in agreement. The only time I’ve given an honest exit interview was when I left my previous division to join my new one (same company). Frankly, I didn’t give a damn whether I burned a bridge on my way out – my boss’s boss, the one who conducted the informal interview, was going to know my boss was the reason I was leaving and just how psychotic she really is.

        But in the past, when I still needed glowing references from all of my employers because I was still entry-level and/or very junior, I always smiled and lied – everything was great. I’m leaving for growth and advancement opportunities. I wish your company/firm much success. That kind of thing.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      For Jane’s sake, I’d sure be tempted to say at least a little bit. “You can have good workers or lazy workers, but you can’t have both. Lazy workers will eventually drive off the good ones. Jane’s a good worker.”

    4. Daisy Steiner*

      Personally, I’d definitely be straight with them on the reason you’re leaving. There’s no need to be nasty, or to get carried away with your frustration, but telling them clearly how difficult it has been to work with Bob and that that’s the main reason your leaving doesn’t, to me, seem like ‘burning bridges’ (I think that’s why some people disagree with being free and frank in your exit interview?).

    5. Ann Cognito*

      It’s definitely a tough one because of your relationship with your manager/burning bridges. The majority of people wouldn’t say anything, and that’s exactly the issue with exit interviews, because people think why bother at that stage. You tried while you were there and nothing was done, which is actually a bad reflection on your manager.

      If you were to say something today, even if you have a great HR department, and they bring it back to the manager, is he going to do something about it now? Why doesn’t Jane speak-up? Are you the only one who’s spoken up to your manager at this stage? Maybe he might do something if Jane also brings it to his attention.

      I’ll be interested to see what others say.

      1. NoProfitNoProblems*

        She specifies in the comment that Jane has gone to the boss and been brushed off.

        1. Ann Cognito*

          Oops, I read too fast, and ended-up with it in my head that the LW had gone to the boss but not Jane!

      2. Fallow*

        Thank you for your feedback!

        Jane brought it to boss’ attention in a one-on-one and he also told her that he was new and was still learning. I reiterate that I really liked boss, but he had kind of a “bro” relationship with Bob. Boss could professionally say “good morning, how are things?” to me and Jane, then would get to Bob and slap his back and exclaim “What’s going on, man! Did you see the game?” etc. etc. while Bob had his nose in his phone (which he was not supposed to have out on his desk – CEO banned cell phones because of people like Bob abusing the privilege).

        1. Meg Murry*

          Ok, this brought me around to the point that you have a *manager* problem, not a *Bob* problem. However, throwing your manager under the bus at this point probably wouldn’t do anything other than burn bridges. I’d just go with the standard generic reasons for moving on, and maybe throw a “Jane’s been doing a lot of good work, now that I’m leaving I’d hate to see her overburdened – I’m afraid she’ll burn out if she doesn’t get some good assistance fast” or something similar [sorry my wording stinks] to let them know that Jane is great and imply that Bob isn’t without saying anything.

        2. RVA Cat*

          I have to wonder, is Bob somebody’s nephew or something? There has to be some political reason he gets to slack off like this.

          1. Windchime*

            Everyplace I’ve ever worked has had a slacker that doesn’t do a fraction of the work of others. It doesn’t usually do any good to complain about them; for some reason, management tends to be protective of them. I have no idea why.

        3. Lily in NYC*

          I’m mouthy so I advise saying something, especially for Jane’s sake. I’d be sure to mention that you have both tried to speak to your boss about coworker and were brushed off and also bring up the “bro” friendship and say you feel like your boss is sexist and cutting a crappy worker too much slack because he’s a dude. That might get their attention.

        4. Sally*

          How would mentioning the fact that you have to do extra work because of bob burn any bridges with a boss who obviously won’t do you any favors in the future anyway? Especially if you are male, I’d encourage you to speak up for Jane and other female employee’s sake. Glad you are getting out of there and good luck!

    6. Ama*

      I think it’s fine to say something if you *want* to (although I’d keep it to how Bob’s attitude/inaction made your work environment so unpleasant you decided to leave, and keep Jane’s thoughts and your boss’s refusal to act out of it), but if you have reason to think even bringing the subject up will prompt a defensive reaction from your boss or make him penalize you in references later, you don’t have to say anything.

      I was fairly circumspect in my last exit interview even though it was with a central HR rep and not my boss because the reasons that I was leaving that my boss understood (overwhelming workload, complicated organization structure that made it difficult to get anything done) she was already aware of, and the other issues (such as the fact that her efforts at helping me with said workload were just making things worse) she would have seen as a personal attack. So I kept most of my comments to concerns about changes in the overall workplace culture that I’d noticed (and which the HR rep said I wasn’t the only person to note).

    7. Mando Diao*

      Since you’ve spoken up about Bob before, I don’t think it would seem petty or “out of left field” to mention it in your exit interview. I might say something like, “I enjoyed my role here, but as I and Jane have indicated multiple times, Bob made it difficult for me to be proud of the work I was doing. I cannot continue to pick up his slack for him when his poor work ethic is a known issue.”

        1. Erin*

          I like this approach as well. Just remember to be matter-of-fact, keep emotion out of it, etc. But yeah, I’d err on the side of transparency.

      1. Mephyle*

        Or even more elliptically – “There was a known issue that has been impeding our ability to do my work. I brought it up to our manager, and I believe Jane has done so too, but nothing was done. I am looking forward moving on to an environment that is supportive of employees doing their job instead of ignoring employee feedback on known hurdles that affect the efficiency of their work and the bottom line of the company.”
        tl;dr: I told you this was bad but you preferred to ignore me. Now you are asking me again. Still the same thing.

    8. Gandalf the Nude*

      Your manager is the problem way more than Bob is. Here’s an employee with a bad attitude, providing poor service, and goofing off on company time (and dime), and the manager has apparently decided not to address it. If your manager were any good at his job, Bob would have either improved or been managed out by now. Instead, he added to the budget by hiring a third person to cover work that could be done by two competent people.

      But if you’re truly concerned about maintaining a bridge with your boss, you should probably let it go and demure in the exit interview. Not your circus, not your monkeys, after all.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Yeah, your boss truly sucks and isn’t managing, just ignoring that there is a problem(s) at all.

        I would say something, purely for Jane’s sake. Other people have given excellent scripts of what to say. Good luck!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. The first few weeks or even months this was a Bob problem. Because it has been going on for a year or longer, it has graduated to being a boss problem. Your boss can’t manage people.

        I am sitting on the fence about mentioning Bob or not. I don’t think anything will be gained from mentioning it- the boss likes where things are at. I might be tempted to thank him warmly for the opportunities he gave you and let it go at that. If he asks you point blank if problems with Bob drove you out, you could say something like, “Well, the problems with Bob did cause me to start to look around. But now I have this wonderful opportunity and I really cannot pass it up.”

      3. CMT*

        Agreed that the real problem is the manager! If two good employees have brought up the issue, I don’t think mentioning it in the exit interview will make any difference.

    9. NoProfitNoProblems*

      It’s not ‘airing dirty laundry’: Bob is the main reason you are leaving, plain and simple. If they’re losing good workers because of Bob, the company needs to know that.

    10. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Eh, I’d say you should mention it. You’ve mentioned it to your boss before, and it’s not like it’s a secret. You can keep it short, even something like “I’m leaving in large part because Bob is a nightmare to work with, everyone knows it, and nobody is willing to do anything about it.” You don’t need to get into details, I think, because the behaviors are so egregious. I understand why you wouldn’t want to talk about it, but I’m a big proponent of transparency in the workplace, and for me it would be a “be the change you want to see in the world” situation.

    11. NacSacJack*

      I would be careful what you say. Do not burn bridges with this employer. I would simply say I’ve had to take on too much work due to the performance of fellow employee. It sounds to me like your boss is buddy-buddy with Bob which makes me think Bob has connections within the company that your boss needs to cater to.

    12. Elle*

      I have to chime in as an HR Manager. You better believe I would want to know something like this, I would also be keenly interested in the part about the manager ignoring the issues/brushing you off. Others have helped with the phrasing to avoid burning bridges, I think you should use it.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I supervise a Bob right now. He has three more months to demonstrate that he can do the work in a timely manner, be respectful of co-workers, keep the phone off and not on his desk. The chill/bro attitude is hard to evaluate. Feel free to give advice.

    13. Nico m*

      I think you should either be bold and state the truth, or decline the exit interview entirely.

    14. TinyTim*

      Everyone has their own philosophy on exit interviews. Mine is to never, under any circumstances say anything that would come back on my manager. It’s hard to throw a co-worker under the bus without making your manager look bad. I protect my future reference at all costs. The only time I feel as though I “must” mention something is a black and white issue like theft, sexual harassment, etc. But that is more of a personal moral obligation.

      If I hadn’t already, I might tell my manager “FYI – Bob is a worthless piece of crap and the primary reason we had to add a 3rd team member” but I wouldn’t put it in writing. My current manager has sort of a pre-exit interview when people on my team leave so they can tell him anything they don’t want to say to HR.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Re: protecting your manager,a nd the reference

        I think you can say, “My manager’s been understanding, but he hasn’t been able to actually do anything about it; maybe he thinks he can’t or something, or could use some backup.”

        Of course, you’re sort of at their mercy if they decide to dump it all on your boss, etc. (remembering a letter from earlier today).

        you can also say to HR, “it’s important to me that this conversation with you not damage my relationship with my soon-to-be-former boss, because he is a reference for me, and I need to be sure he doesn’t think I’m badmouthing him. I’m only telling you this because I think if he gets the support he needs, and can deal with this, it would be good for the company.”

    15. Chickaletta*

      This is not a personality clash, so I wouldn’t describe it that way (ie don’t say “Bob and I didn’t get along”.

      The real problem is that he’s costing the company, specifically

      A) work is not getting done
      B) the company is losing clients
      C) he is costing the company money because they’ve had to hire an additional employee to make up for his slack.
      D)the company is losing employees (you, and possibly Jane someday)

      Those three things should be enough for the company to care about fixing the Bob issue. Also let HR know that you and Jane have brought these things to the manager’s attention but he’s brushed it off. It’s time that someone besides your manager became aware of the issues Bob is creating.

    16. Azul*

      My two cents – recently I left my extremely toxic department because of a terrible boss. My coworker, similar to Jane, had already complained up the chain of command previously, but it was looking like my boss was untouchable. In my exit interview (and a second meeting with my boss’s boss), I said “what the hell”, and told them what had been going on. Like others have mentioned, the key is to remain calm and rational. Everything I said corroborated her own complaints (which was really helpful because boss often made it seem to others like coworker was incompetent in her own way), which bolstered the validity of my coworker’s complaint. Now they’re investigating the office and have put old boss on a PIP, and this was within a month of my leaving. This was also within academia, which is notorious for letting BS ride because “no one can be fired”. When word got back to me I was in complete shock and awe because I truly thought they would never do anything.

      Long story short: ultimately you know better than we do, but it’s very possible your claims may help corroborate Jane’s.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I also once saw things change because (I think, I don’t -know-) of some honest feedback in an exit interview. But when my subordinate left, I brought up the topic of his exit interview, and in talking w/ me about it, they were able to get corroboration about the specific issues over both of ours heads.

        And things changed afterward.

        So I’m more likely to be honest.

    17. TootsNYC*

      I think another way to frame this is “I see a problem in my department that is damaging the company, and I want to alert you to it so you can fix it. I have tried to fix it from inside the department, bringing it to boss, but it really hasn’t changed. It’s still damaging the department, and to be honest, it really is a significant factor in why I’m leaving. I’ve found it frustrating to work somewhere that I’m expected to pick up so much slack, and mop up so many messes from damaged relationships, etc., because my colleague is doing such a disrespectful and irresponsible job. I like to be proud not only of my own work but of the place I’m working, and I can’t really be proud of working in XYZ Dept. at LMNO Company anymore.
      “But mostly I want to share this so that you can fix it, because the problem is going to keep damaging LMNO’s reputation, with its customers as well as its employees, long after I’m gone.”

      “I want to help you by giving you information you don’t have”–that general approach.

    18. Brett*

      Don’t count on there even being a place in an exit interview to say something.
      My last one consisted of a check the box survey, where there was a handful of options under reason for leaving and no blanks to expand on your answers.
      The only part I talked to someone about in person was whether or not I had been discriminated against during my employment and if that was a factor in leaving (which the interviewer then put into writing for me to sign).

    19. Fallow*

      Thank you all a hundred times over for your advice on this! An update:

      I went to my exit interview and said what I wanted to say off the record. My HR manager was shocked and asked me to let her share it with the CEO. I agreed, and once I got back to my desk I got a call from the director of administration wanting to know the situation in detail. She said she would protect me at all costs, since she wants to see me come back in the future, and will talk to the CEO about the future impacts on Jane with Bob’s continued employment. She said Bob will be placed immediately on a PIP and said she was so sorry to see me go on these circumstances.

      I left my last day feeling energized and very positive about the situation. I informed Jane that HR will be speaking with her next week and she said she would keep me up to date with what happens. I hope Bob can get his act together.

      1. Alston*

        That sounds like it was about as good of an outcome as you could have hoped for. Nicely done!

      2. CM*

        I guess your company has good HR people! I’m glad it worked out and that what you said made a difference. (Plus I bet Jane will love you forever!)

  3. NarrowDoorways*

    Mutli-pronged question I’d love outside thoughts on.

    I’m an editor, working with many outside writers. One—I’ll call Paige—doesn’t get paid by my company, but does get paid by an outside company to contribute her work. Unfortunately, that means Paige often turns in material that is promotional. We don’t accept promotional pieces. My previous boss (who I’ve replaced) had spoken to Paige about this issue.

    Paige turned in a piece recently that wasn’t just slightly promotional—it was basically an advertisement for the company that pays her. I spent ages, far beyond what’s normally expected, editing it. When the material hit the desk of my company’s chief operating officer—I’ll call her Mandy—she was not pleased. Mandy said it was still wildly promotional and told me if it happens again, she’ll pull it from the publication. I agreed, apologized, and mentioned I’d already been planning to email Paige about the issue.

    So I emailed Paige’s assistant with the final version, which I do every time Paige contributes. I have basically no interaction with Paige, and she’s previously ignored my emails until I go through her (many rotating) assistant(s). I explained all the editing and mentioned I’d been told it would be pulled if it happened again. I thanked her and said I was looking forward to the next piece.

    Paige did not react well. She emailed Mandy, copying me, and raged that I was rude to email that to her assistant, she deserved a direct phone call, and she’s been doing this for years so she knows perfectly well what material is acceptable. I think Mandy mostly backed me up. My boss cautioned me to handle Paige extra gently, be more careful with my tone, and not “over-share” in the future. I’m having a meeting with Mandy Monday.

    I…don’t like this. I strongly disagree I “over-shared.” If this had happened again and the story was pulled, Paige would have been just as livid, probably. Past discussions about not accepting promotional material hasn’t gotten through to her, as she keeps doing it, which is why I thought showing potential consequences was important.

    Is it an option to disagree with Mandy? Obviously, I’ll follow Mandy’s preferences and call Paige from now on, but 1) was I wrong to share consequences? and 2) can I express disagreement on the conclusion that this woman needs to be handled especially gently? It’s important to be professional, but at the same time I feel like being the “bigger person” means I cant stand up for myself to Paige. It was her behavior that wasn’t acceptable. She isn’t a client and, in fact, depends on us publishing her work to get paid elsewhere.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Does Paige’s assistant(s) have any interaction with the process? So you told the assistant what the issues were with the article so she could pass this onto Paige? Is that right? The poor assistant, if so!

      I think I would’ve set up a meeting with Paige and explained what you need to see from her i.e non-promotional articles.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        The sad thing is, the only time I’ve ever spoken to Paige on the phone was immediately prior to her turning in the piece before this one. It was basically her going on about knowing non-promotional material isn’t acceptable….

        I do feel for her assistants. I’ve seen some forwarded emails in the past between her and them. Talk about abrupt and rude. I’d be livid if my boss interacted with me like she does with her assistants.

    2. Mando Diao*

      Is it possible that the outside company is giving Paige directions that differ from yours? I think you might need to eventually speak with them; Paige is their employee, not yours, and Paige might not be the one at fault here.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        It’s tricky. Paige has worked with us for the last couple years. She doesn’t actually always work with the same company that she writes in the voice of. She is a marketer and contacts companies using this column as a way to get their executive’s voices into industry discussions. Basically for them to become more visible in the industry.

        I do believe the company she’s currently working with leaned on her quite a bit to send me promotional material, but after her longtime experience with us, she knew it wasn’t acceptable and did it anyway.

          1. NarrowDoorways*


            She is replaceable. Maybe she should have thought of that BEFORE she was rude to me in the face of constructive, extremely mild criticism.

      2. Manders*

        Yes, I think this is an important thing to clear up. NarrowDoorways, is your company paying someone (the company that Paige works for, maybe?) to write this content, or are you looking for free articles? In my experience, if you work for a place that needs a whole lot of free content, a lot of that content that gets submitted is going to be promoting something.

        1. NarrowDoorways*

          We have a mixture of paid and free. She is specifically one of 8 people on rotation for an unpaid column, but of them, none of the other writers get paid by an outside company and none of the others have ever turned in promotional material.

          Perhaps that’s the key. The minute she contacted other companies to write it for pay, we couldn’t avoid the promotional issue. Well, this just add to my desire and reason to fire her.

          1. Manders*

            Yep, I think that’s your problem. If you’ve got people writing for free, those people are much more likely to have some ulterior motive for writing that column. Some people may have motives that align with what your company wants to see in their articles, like promoting a cause they care about. But if you open the door to marketers, they’re gonna market, because that’s their job.

            The real problem is that she’s a lousy marketer. A good content marketer should be able to write an informative article that doesn’t read like ad copy, and the common sense to remain on good terms with her contacts. Either someone above her at her own company is leaning on her to blast promotional materials out to everyone, or she doesn’t have the tact she needs to represent them. I think it’s time to cut her loose.

              1. Manders*

                Some other considerations that might prevent a problem like Paige in the future: if Paige is allowed to link to external sites in her articles, are you making sure those links are nofollow? Are your submission guidelines posted very clearly, and are all new columnists made aware of them? Are you able to reach out in advance to people who might be interested in writing articles for you, whose causes are less commercial than Paige’s? Is it possible to reprint articles that have already appeared on small-time blogs? Could you wrangle an addition to the budget so no one’s working for free, even if the payment for this particular column is small? Does your organization have a system in place for handling press releases and other promotional content? Could you tell marketers that *they* must pay *you* to publish blatantly promotional content, but writing about a topic without pushing a specific company is free?

                Unpaid writing opportunities are always going to attract marketers. Your company needs to have a clear policy in place for dealing with them before they become a problem. I also would stay away from language like “fire” when talking with Paige–you’re not firing her because you never paid her for her work, you’re just not accepting her articles anymore.

                1. NarrowDoorways*

                  Naw, I’d never actually say fire to her or anyone here. But it makes me happier to say it to myself.

                  There’s no way I’d ever get this to be paid, but if anything, I’m finding more and more reasons to start looking for new columnists. If anything, most of the content has gotten stale. The writers have been doing this for years and have fallen into that “comfortable” setting where they aren’t trying as hard.

                  I’ve spent most of the year finding new paid writers as the old ones rotated the same half dozen sources for every story. It was easier so they stopped bothering to do new research.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              Yes: while I don’t think it’s good to keep sending inappropriate material when you’ve been told it’s inappropriate, I do know that if the company that was paying my wages said ‘do it this way’ and the company that wasn’t paying my wages said ‘no, don’t do it this way,’ I’d listen to Company A. Because they’re the ones paying for my work, whereas the other company is getting it free.

              It also sounds like she’s just not a great marketer, yeah. But there’s an inherent conflict of interest here, really, at the end. It’s IME a fairly normal tradeoff when you’re getting unpaid written work.

              1. Manders*

                Well said. I’m not going to start in on my whole rant about not paying writers when you want high quality, non-promotional work, but if you absolutely can’t pay your writers, the people who are interested in writing for you are more likely to 1) accept money for creating these articles some other way, like Paige, or 2) put less time and effort into cranking out that content, like your other writers.

                Again, if your publication is online, you gotta check your links. Switching to nofollow links if you haven’t already may go a long way towards fixing your marketer problem. Link building is a very hot topic now that Google Penguin is penalizing spammy backlinks. A lot of marketers are reaching out to every publication with follow links that will take their work right now.

                1. NarrowDoorways*

                  Oh yeah, trust me, I freelance as an editor and a shocking number of people expect you to do it for free because you like it, not because it’s work you deserve to be paid for. I completely dislike doing something similar to writers.

                  It’s slightly off because I work in the pharmaceutical industry, and quite a lot of execs are interested in broadcasting their thoughts to others within the industry. I think, as they’re not professional writers and mostly want to discuss their issues outside of the conference setting, they don’t ever make the connection that this is something others are paid for.

                  We’re print, so the link issue haven’t come up, fortunately.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I agree with Carrie; I think it’s time to meet directly with Paige. Also, I’m confused–Mandy is not your boss, correct? And she’s the one who got upset about the promotional material (as well she should, if your company doesn’t accept it, why should she waste her time on it?), but your BOSS told you to handle Paige gently, correct?

      Is your boss friends with Paige or afraid of her or something? Because this is weird.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        Well, ugh, it’s complicated. My boss and Mandy were at a conference when everything blew up, so they discussed the issue together. My boss came back from the conference and shared Mandy’s expectations with me. Mandy isn’t yet back from the conference, though I have a meeting with her Monday.

        No one is friends with Paige, lol.

    4. neverjaunty*

      This really sounds like your boss not having the spine to tell you that Paige is in fact a problem; it’s easier to dump unhelpful, mealy-mouthed feedback on you. This is useless to you and puts you in a completely unfair position: you’re expected to enforce certain guidelines and to give Paige feedback on them, but then take the blame if Paige throws a fit.

      I’d put your boss (Mandy?) on the spot for specifics: “Going forward, can you give me some guidance on what language you would like me to use with Paige if this happens again? Would you prefer that I stick to a phone call as Paige has requested?” If Boss has better ideas on the right way to handle Paige, surely she can share those ideas. If (as I suspect) this is just Boss trying to avoid conflict with Paige, then Boss is hardly going to be in a position to say “I don’t know what’s the right or wrong approach until after you do it.” And if she does, look for another job.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        I think this makes sense. Any other way I could have done things would almost certainly gotten a negative reaction from Paige. In my meeting with Mandy Monday, I’m going to bring up other ways I could have gone about informing Paige of the issue and what I think would likely have happened. (Bad things. She is full of bad things.)

        I don’t like that my boss and Mandy feel I had a “tone” in my original email. I was very polite, and I’d had other people read it over. The content itself is why Paige got angry and I don’t think my word choices would have changed that.

        Now my boss wants to re-read all of my emails to make sure I’m saying things as sugary-sweet as possible, which–ugh, but fine. It still really bothers me that the onus is on me to put out fires when I think this woman isn’t in the position to start any. She’s 100% replaceable. There’s not contract or financial implications on my end.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Why does your boss feel it’s so important to placate Paige?

          And actually, maybe that’s the solution – before you email Paige, you forward the emails to Boss for revision. Then Boss can hardly complain about the content of the emails.

          1. NarrowDoorways*

            To be fair, my boss is amazing at emails.

            But I never usually email Paige things. I email her assistant. I feel like I should always email Paige now, in case it’s content she somehow disagrees with.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If you can try to figure out why your boss is so interested in stringing Paige along when so much of her work does not fit your criteria. I would stress with both your boss and Mandy that MOST of Paige’s work is promotional in nature. Make sure they understand and ask them how to proceed.

      The next thing I would do is ask your boss and Mandy for a set of written guidelines for materials that will be accepted and used. Ideally, these guidelines would spell out most of the things that Paige is doing wrong, but the guidelines should be something that are useful to anyone who wants to submit articles to you.
      Then, get the guidelines to each one of your contributors, by either your boss, Mandy or yourself sending the guidelines to them. Again ideally, someone who is NOT you should be sending them out.

        1. MillersSpring*

          I disagree about asking your boss for guidelines or asking for wording for your emails to Paige. You’re a talented writer/editor, so you should be drafting these emails and guidelines. Also, I your next 1:1 with your boss, I’d print out this email and ask for clarification about which phrases were problematic in tone. Also, IIWM, I wouldn’t email Paige’s assistant again. Communicate with her directly. Kill her with kindness, too. Good luck.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I like the idea of asking your boss why she wants to coddle this woman. And definitely explain that you can never reach her and always go through her assistant and make the point that Paige is reacting to the message, not the delivery. I am angry on your behalf. I can’t stand non-confrontational bosses who will do anything to avoid their own discomfort.

      2. TootsNYC*

        also–have someone you can suggest as an alternative to fill the holes in your lineup. So you can just gradually dial back.

        is there any reason your boss and Mandy particularly care if it’s Paige that does this stuff?

        1. NarrowDoorways*

          I brought up an alternate to Mandy when a different columnist kept going on month-long sabbaticals to India and skipping his scheduled time. She’s just…weirdly resistant to any and all change.

          I can’t figure out her attachment and Mandy certainly complains about them enough herself, so…

    6. Anon Moose*

      Sounds like the main error was sending that feedback to her assistant when it should have been emailed to her directly and separately. The assistant doesn’t need or probably want to know!

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        Is that out of the norm? I guess I assumed that’s what assistants were for? If one person is your primary contact, assistant or not, why wouldn’t you use them?

        I suppose I can see the argument not to if sending confidential or sensitive information. Maybe the disconnect is that I didn’t see it as a sensitive topic and I believed the issue to be easily corrected, whereas Paige is hurt or feels a deep need to save face in front of her assistant?

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          No, that’s not what assistants are for! I’d HATE to give critical feedback to my manager/someone I was working for, especially if they were like Paige. What I would’ve done was ask the assistant to pass on your message that you needed to talk to Paige.

          I feel for that poor assistant, that cannot have been an easy conversation to have, even if she was just passing on the info, it’s very…shoot the messenger-y :(

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Yes; it puts the assistant in an awkward spot, but also, as a writer I really hate getting secondhand feedback if I can avoid it. I’ve had too many situations where the message got garbled or lost entirely in translation. It makes sense to have the message be, “Please let Paige know that I need to speak to her about her article.”

            1. NarrowDoorways*

              I see what you’re saying, though in my time as a department underling, I’ve definitely received emails about corrections that I forwarded on to my boss. I guess I never thought to much about it. It wasn’t my work, it was something she needed to handle. I was more thinking, “this chunk it what the assistant always needs, and if there’s anything else here she doesn’t, she’d just forward it on to her boss.”

              I would find an email saying I needed to speak with someone else suuuuper awkward. If I felt I needed to talk to someone….I’d talk to them. The issue here is that I DIDN’T think I needed to talk to her boss, which is why I didn’t go out of my way to do so.

              Ugh, actually, Paige did something like that to me once. The only time I’ve ever spoken to her on the phone was preceded by a bunch of emails with “We need to speak” in the subject box and the whole message just saying “call me.” Rude and ominous. What was worse was Paige had MY number but I didn’t have hers. I sent 3 emails saying that and each response from her had the same rude subject line and a mangled number in the email body that never worked. She finally called me after 5 days of me re-stating she could call me any time and that every number she gave me wasn’t right.

              1. TootsNYC*

                well, small corrections are one thing.

                A major message (“you have completely missed the mark and your work with us is in jeopardy”) is something completely else.

                Of course, if you have no other reliable way of reaching her, you might be stuck, but you really should have the assistant relay only a “this is important; call her” message.

                1. Anon Moose*

                  +1 This isn’t a run of the mill correction. This is a broad critique/ ongoing issue and an assistant may feel uncomfortable passing it on. You really need to deliver it yourself if you want the message to get through.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  Right: I’m fine with getting small and relatively objective corrections (typos, “please use X style for commas,” “please incorporate information from this more recent press release,” etc.) secondhand, but something as sweeping as “your approach to this document is so wrong that I had to spend hours editing; this is a major issue that may cause us to be unable to work together” is another matter.

                  Also, it doesn’t have to be an ominous-but-vague “WE NEED TO SPEAK: call me.” It can be “I have some concerns about the direction of these pieces and would like to talk about it directly.”

          2. WellRed*

            I’m an editor as well and I can’t imagine going through an assistant to give someone feedback on writing. That said, Paige may need to go. We all have house styles and writers need to follow them.

        2. Anon Moose*

          God. No. You are presumably sending things to the assistant for archival purposes. By including critisism you are getting in between this person and their boss. The assistant probably has no power over the content of the pieces, so why would they have to know? And clearly you have upset Paige which affects the assistant. Paige may see it as disrespect that you’ve taken the decision about what to loop her staff in about away from her.
          I always was taught praise should be public and criticism private. If you’d given the feedback in person in an office with an assistant, wouldn’t you close the door? Why would email be any less awkward?

        3. TootsNYC*

          I agree; it’s out of the norm to give that sort of feedback through them. The message to the assistant would be “Please have Paige call me; we have some important feedback on her work that she needs to hear.”

          It doesn’t matter if it’s sensitive; it’s something Paige should hear directly.

        4. MillersSpring*

          Yeah, assistants are not the appropriate channel for giving feedback and/or moderate to serious conversations about your relationship going forward. Also, Paige sounds like she’s questioning why the “department underling” is giving her feedback–note how she went way over your head to complain.

          You have valid concerns about the quality of Paige’s submissions, but it seems like your boss and grandboss have valid concerns about how you handled it.

    7. Observer*

      I think you should have both emailed and called Paige directly, and then said what you said to the assistant – ie that her work needs to be completely non-promotional, and that the next time it happens it will not go in.

      The issue I see here is not that you clarified the consequences, but that you did it through the assistant. That’s not fair to the assistant and I think there is an argument to be made that it’s really not the business of the assistant.

      Also, there are many ways to say the same thing. Given her sensitivity, it pays to use a more diplomatic way than less diplomatic way. If you chose to be blunt own up to it, and commit to being more diplomatic in the future. If you were as diplomatic as you could be while still being clear, bring the text of the email and ask what you should do differently next time.

      I realize that you may have already had your meeting with Mandy. How did it go?

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      I get 17 days of vacation, 12 days of personal time, 1 floating holiday (all used interchangeably), 5 days of carry-over, and 10 paid/set company holidays a year.

    2. Fallow*

      Old job was a PTO pool with 16 days a year for vaca/sick. New job is 12 days vacation and 10 sick I believe.

    3. TheIntern*

      In my previous direct care role (mental health agency) I earned 7.45 hours per 80 hour pay period. Up to 140 hours could be carried over annually and 80 hours could be paid out when you left.

    4. Collie*

      I get about five hours every pay period (two weeks) to use as either sick or vacation leave. Adds up to a little over 16 total days to use how I wish.

    5. CherryScary*

      10 days of vacation, 2 unexcused sick days (paid, no dr. note) 4 excused sick days (dr. note)

    6. KathyGeiss*

      Good question. I get 15 days vacation plus 2 floaters (to even out holidays that other provinces get that my province doesn’t get (in Canada)). We also get 1 volunteer day. Sick days aren’t spelled out. Essentially, you don’t come in when your sick and unless it becomes a problem or you abuse it, no one bats an eye.

      I’ve been working here for 4 years and in the industry for 8. In 2018, I get another 5 days of vacay.

    7. sparklealways*

      Our company recently switch to an “unlimited PTO” policy. Before that it was 16-25 total days (1 bank for sick/vacation), depending on length of service. I have mixed feelings on the new policy because it really depends on your boss. Luckily, I have one of the best managers in the world!

      1. Arielle*

        Ours is unlimited as well. I have a hard time with it because I’m the kind of person who feels guilty asking for time off, and I think I would feel more entitled to use PTO if I could see a specific amount of days allowed.

        1. Tomato Frog*

          I’ve thought about how I would deal with this, as a person with a lot of misplaced guilt but who also likes to visit her family. I think I would allot myself a number of vacation days at the high end of typical and just behave as if that’s the amount of vacation time I have (workplace culture permitting, of course).

      2. talking backwards*

        We have an “open leave” policy as well. Has its benefits and drawbacks — most people don’t take much time off. Luckily my boss is also great and take a good amount of time off herself, so I am able to take time when I want/need.

      3. Charlotte*

        I’m in a small, private company with unlimited sick and vacation days as well. I took about 25 days off last year including federal holidays. The nice thing about it is that I have an end goal of working a certain amount of hours, and I can take vacation (mostly) how I want as long as I manage my work to meet those goals. I do end up working during vacation on occasion, though, being in a client-service-based business. I have great supervisors who are supportive of taking time off to recharge, so that is also key.

          1. Aella*

            Can I ask how/when you got into that field? It’s what I’m looking at, and my applications are being turned down before the stage where they give you feedback.

            1. Dangerfield*

              My comment is in moderation, but I’m happy to answer questions and have given you an email address in case I forget to look back at this in a timely manner!

              1. Dangerfield*

                Sigh. And I just realised I forget to retype the question that affects the answer in this comment. It’s been a long week. Are you looking to get into administration or academia?

          2. Caroline*

            I’m also in British academia and get 29 days PTO plus 8 national holidays with no specified limit on sick leave. I also get to flex my hours. It’s awesome :)

    8. super anon*

      4 weeks of vacation and 6 months of sick time that is in a seperate pool from vacation. I work at a university.

        1. super anon*

          Nope – it’s true! We also get a year of mat leave, berevement leave, and other assorted leaves. Vacations scales too, so after 5 years of service you get 5 weeks, etc with a max of 8 weeks. We can also carry over 2 weeks of vacation each year.

            1. super anon*

              I don’t understand it either tbh. I’ve read that after you take a certain amount of days off in a row you may need to provide a doctor’s note, but my department doesn’t do that. I think the 6 months is also so you could take a long term paid health leave? I’ve never had to use much of my sick leave so I’m not sure.

            2. Snow*

              I’m in the UK – where I work we technically get 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay sick but it isn’t like the US where your sick days are there to use up as part of your benefits. If you had a serious health crisis you would get that money. If you called out one week a month or every monday because you were ‘using up’ sick days to use up you’d probably end up on a PIP for absenteeism and let go. (Unless you had a disability that caused you to be ill on a cycle – that would be protected.)

            3. De*

              The way it works in Germany, you get fully paid by your employer for anything up to 6 weeks for one medical condition. If you are out for more than 6 weeks for the same thing health insurance takes over and pays 65 percent of your wages while your employer stops paying you (but you are still an employee). Maybe it works something like that, only with longer time.

          1. Vancouver Reader*

            That’s the only thing I miss about working at a university. Although now I’m at an elementary school, I guess we get way more time off. :)

    9. Charlotte Collins*

      I used to get a substantial amount of PTO. However, there was a restructure that included reclassifying my job. Now, at my next anniversary (17 years), I will only get one week of vacation and some sick time (which does accrue), as well as a couple personal days.

      One of our (fairly new) CEO’s goals is a “fully engaged workforce.” I am now fully engaged in looking for a new job.

      1. Callie*

        Ugh. 17 years and only 1 week of vacation is BS. I would be fully engaged in a job search too, if I were you.

    10. Sunflower*

      15 days PTO, 7 unplanned time off(any days taken with less than 24 hrs notice, can be for anything), 1 floating holiday, 2 emergency vacation days, 9 set paid holidays.

      1. Sunflower*

        I should also add I’m non-exempt and in the US. Exempt get the same except there is so sick time policy- just don’t abuse it is the rule.

    11. Gandalf the Nude*

      I currently get 80 hours of PTO per year (sick and vacation lumped together) and 9 static holidays.

      We get 120 hours after three years and 160 hours after ten, rolling over up to 40 hours each year.

    12. Karowen*

      I started accruing at the rate of 3 weeks per year, now that I’ve been with the organizations for awhile it’s 4 weeks per year. This is all encompassing – sick, vacation, personal, etc.

    13. Danae*

      In theory, I get 14 days a year vacation and…maybe one day sick time? Sick accrues so slowly (after a year here and taking no sick time I think I’m up to three hours accrued) that I’m not sure what the actual number is.

      In reality, PTO accrues with hours worked, and I have more 20 hour weeks than 40 hour weeks. Hooray for being paid by the billable hour.

      (This is far, far better than the jobs I’ve had for the last five years, which came with zero PTO or any other benefits, so I’m actually happy. Having an employer kick in for health insurance is also really nice!)

      1. RKB*

        Yup. I get to work on stat days, though. If I work both my jobs, both 8 hour shifts on stat days, I rake in almost $1000. So I’m not complaining.

    14. Bowserkitty*

      OldJob was more suited for people needing vacation time ASAP, NewJob is more suited for long-term.

      I had 20 days of PTO at OldJob (10 sick days, 3 personal, 3 floating, etc) and accrued vacation. NewJob you accrue from hire date and it’s unlimited sick days and I forget how many vacation but I think it maxes out at 380 hours. The accrual rate is pretty sweet for both categories.

      OldJob, after the big lay-off, did away with accrued time and switched everyone over to a flat 30 days.

    15. S0phieChotek*

      9 holidays, 1 floating day, no sick time (that is different than PTO), and after 3 month “introductory period” start accruing PTO (most people can only accrue about 120-160 PTO hours per year); max carry over of PTO from year to year is 5 days (40 hours)

    16. Amy M in HR*

      We receive PTO on an accrued basis, which works out for a full-time employee to 21 days a year, however, we must use PTO for the six major holidays and any days they may choose to close the office early (last year we closed early the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve). PTO is to be used for vacation, personal and sick time, and we can only use it in 4 hour increments.

    17. Anonymous Educator*

      I get 17 paid holidays (inflexible dates) and 10 vacation days (flexible dates). I don’t remember the exact number of sick days… I think it’s 8.

    18. Ad Astra*

      – 10 days (80 hours) vacation
      – 10 sick days (80 hours)
      – Up to 2 hrs/week of “personal time” (used for appointments, going to the DMV, taking your car to the shop, etc; not supposed to be used every week)
      – Office closes at noon on Christmas Eve and re-opens the Monday after New Year’s Day, so that’s about 5 more days off

      I work at a business that deals with billable time and employs a decent number of non-exempt employees, which is why there’s so much focus on hours rather than days.

    19. ThatGirl*

      16 PTO days, 2 floating holidays, that includes sick time, plus bereavement time as needed and 8 holidays.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Oh, and that’s use it or lose it; you also get more PTO after 5 years and 10 years of employment.

    20. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Current Job: 15 vacation days, 5 sick days, 3 personal days, and like 9 paid holidays.

      Old Job: 20 vacation days, unlimited sick days, and I think 9 paid holidays.

    21. Anonymosity*

      Exjob–two weeks a year (80 hours), awarded in January. This job–5 hours accrual each pay period and all benefits started at 30 days (!!!!!), including that. I think that the longer you’re here, the more you get each pay period. We also get to go up to 40 hours in the hole on PTO, and then we have to earn it back before it starts accruing again. The only bad part is that at fiscal year end in June, we can only roll over 40 hours. This is to encourage us to actually take our PTO, and we rarely get pushback when we do, but it’s hard when you only get 5 hours every two weeks to build it back up again. We also have the standard holidays every year (Christmas, NY, etc.) and we get a few federal days too because our clients take them off.

    22. Jennifer M.*

      Just accepted a new job. For the first 36 months I get 15 days/year for vacation/sick/personal time plus 10 federal holidays. Not the worst I’ve ever heard of, but probably the worst I’ve had. In my mind I break it into 2 weeks vacation and 5 sick days. I usually take about 2 sick days/year due to actual illness, but I have problematic teeth and use sick time for dental appointments. I may need to switch dentists to someone near the new office to reduce transit time. I typically take one 1-week vacation plus 2-3 three-day weekends per year. I need to be careful with the leave since we are planning a big family Christmas in 2017 that could take some time.

    23. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I get 25 days of pooled PTO per year in addition to 9 0r 10 paid holidays (I’ll have to check later), but that’s the maximum for our company by seniority.

    24. NoProfitNoProblems*

      Unlimited paid time off! In practice most people don’t go over two or three weeks in a year, but it’s so so nice to know that you can take sick days when you need to or embark on an impromptu three-day trip somewhere.

    25. GG*

      Each year I get 10 Vacation days, 5 Sick days, 8 Personal hours, and 9 Holidays. The first year I actually got 5 of the Vacation days after 6 months, and the other 5 when I hit my 1-year mark. At 5 years Vacation time goes up to 15 days, and at 10 years 20 days.

    26. danr*

      My old company had 13 official holidays off plus two to three more days that were given by the company, usually one day before or after Christmas, sometimes two, and a before or after July 4th. I had maxed out vacation at 5 weeks and 12 sickdays were allotted per year and those accumulated. Vacation was theoretically “use or lose” , but not really.

    27. matcha123*

      PTO: 20 days
      “Summer vacation” (aka obon): 5 days
      Care (for a parent, for example): 6 months
      “Sick” (basically if I’m hospitalized): 70 days
      Child-rearing: until age 1
      Other “special” time off for marriage (my own), birth, taking care of a sick kid, bereavement, and some others that aren’t written down (probably a day each month to use for period related pain).

      I work in Japan and “sick” days are not for colds, but rather for surgery or cancer treatments or something serious like that.
      I have 20 days a year I can take off, and most? all? of the unused days carry over. Most people do not take off 20 days in a year.

      1. matcha123*

        And typical Japanese holidays.
        I get about 5 days off at the end of the year and whatever holidays that fall on weekdays, such as Golden Week.

    28. Beezus*

      I get 17 days of vacation (because I’ve been here 10 years; I started with 10 and have been bumped up 2-3 days every few years), 11 paid holidays, and no defined sick leave (if I am sick, I am just not here, I don’t use PTO – rules are different if it rises to the level of FMLA).

      Vacation time rolls over, and I can bank up to 2 years’ worth before I stop accruing it.I currently have just shy of 4 weeks in my bank. I can cash out vacation time, too – there are limits on how much per year, a minimum number of hours at a time, and a minimum I have to leave in my bank when cashing out, but I’ve done it a time or two.

    29. Dalia524*

      24 days vacation, 20 days sick leave, both accrued bimonthly, and at least 12 paid holidays per year. They’ve bumped us up from 1 week to 2 weeks off for Christmas/New Year’s the past couple of years, which is really nice. I work at a US university.

    30. ACA*

      1.75 vacation days accrued per month (will go up to 2 next year!) with a cap of 24 accrued at one time, 1 sick day accrued per month, 8 federal holidays, plus the week between Christmas and New Years.

    31. EA*

      20 days vacation (Carries over, up to a max of 25 days total in the bank … once you hit that, you stop accruing)
      10 sick days
      4 floating holidays
      6 company holidays

      (I have 11 years with my current company … started out with 10 days of vacation, and 3 floating holidays)

    32. Gene*

      I’m a municipal employee, been with the city for 25 years, so I’m maxed out on vacation earning. I get 200 hours of vacation per year and can carry up to 400 hours on the books. New employees in my bargaining unit earn 80 hours per year and can accumulate 160. For sick leave, I get about 100 hours per year and can accumulate up to 960 hours. Vacation and sick leave is accumulated each pay period. 10 holidays and two floating holidays per year, no carry over.

      On separation in can have up to 160 hours vacation and 10% off my accumulated sick leave paid.

    33. LQ*

      US – gvt (not fed)
      10 paid holidays
      1 floating holidays
      12 vacation days per year (roll over up to about 30 days) – after 5 years it goes up to about 16/year
      12 sick days per year (infinite roll over) – also goes up to about 16/year after 5 years

    34. Jadelyn*

      10 days vacation to start, 15 days after 2 years’ service, 20 after 6 years’ service. 12 days of sick for all employees. Both are prorated according to your FTE – so a part-time employee working 20 hrs/week would receive 6 sick days, etc.

    35. NacSacJack*

      If I remember correctly, 20 days PTO to start, then 5 days at 5 years, 3 days at 10 years, 2 days at 15 years, no days at 20 years and 1 day at 25 years. Something like that. I have 30 days at less than 20 years. We’re expected to use PTO for sick leave.

    36. WIncredulous*

      I’m part time. I get nothing. However I can basically call in whenever, since I’m not paid.

    37. Dip-lo-mat*

      6 hours of annual leave and 4 hours of sick leave per pay period. I can roll over up to 240 hours annually when domestic, 360 when overseas.

    38. LawCat*

      We have a choice between PTO or vacation plus sick leave. You acquire less PTO than vacation plus sick leave combined per mont (e.g.,11 hours PTO, or 7 hours vacation and 8 hours sick leave) but you can use PTO for any purpose and it can cash out when you leave employment. Sick leave cannot be cashed out though vacation can. I did vacation and sick for two years and then switched. I use my banked sick leave when I get sick.

    39. TAR*

      Currently contracting at a Fortune 500 company. My agency gives me 40 hours PTO for the year and absolutely no sick time despite being in a state that requires it. (If you’re a contractor on a W-2 apparently the law doesn’t apply?) I am currently sick but have no choice but to be here and got snarky comments about it.

      The job I had before that was 10 days PTO, up to 15 after 4 years there. No sick time. (Different state at the time. Didn’t required it.) I had an emergency operation two days before the end of the calendar year a few years back when I was out of PTO and my boss made me make up the time I was in the hospital (despite pulling down countless to 60-70 hour weeks) so no one would think it was “unfair.”

      Do I just suck that badly that I only get these crappy jobs? :-/

      1. Danae*

        That’s pretty much the contracting game, I’m afraid. I’ve been a contractor for the last seven years, and until I joined my current company benefits were nearly non-existent–and if I had them, they were very grudgingly given.

        For me, the ability to leave work at work, not play office politics, and not have to spend six months of the year going through the review cycle is worth it.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I contracted for 5 years before getting hired “for real” and had zero benefits – no paid holidays, no PTO, nothing.

        And my previous jobs had 2 weeks (10 days) PTO, no sick time. So neither of those seem crappy to me, even though they’re not great compared to what others may get.

        1. TAR*

          I should note that the previous gig WAS full time, but yes – I’m happy to have even 5 days PTO since I’m not allowed to work on company holidays.

    40. AVP*

      5 days vacation, unlimited sick days to be used responsibly (I usually take 3 per year tops).

      I also get some comp time that I use as vacation days later in the year.

    41. AVP*

      5 days vacation, unlimited sick days to be used responsibly (I usually take 3 per year tops).

      I also get some comp time that I can use as vacation days later in the year.

    42. fposte*

      For vacation, 24 days with some rollover that I don’t remember the rules of, so I usually start the year with 48 days; sick days, 25 days, 12 of which can rollover. It does look like administration can request longer sick leave for an employee, up to half a year, but I have no idea if that ever actually happens. (State university.)

    43. Elkay*

      25 days plus option to buy another 5 and 8 bank holidays. I can carry over 5 from the previous year too. No limit on sick time.

    44. Cambridge Comma*

      30 days of leave, 10 official holidays, up to 10 days time off in lieu, 10 days of uncertified sick leave but unlimited sick leave with doctor’s note.

    45. Janet*

      Fed employee: 6 hours vacation & 4 hours sick leave/pay period (2 weeks). Unlimited accumulation of sick leave and annual rollover of 240 hours of vacation time.

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

      New hires get 17 days of PTO. This is my 5th year here so I get 22 days.

    47. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I’m starting a new job on Monday! the PTO they offered was 2 wks vacation, 1 wk sick (I think the sick days can roll over indefinitely). I thought it was nice that they start accruing as soon as you start instead of after the probationary period, but cannot be used for the first 90 days.

      My sister recently started a job and they don’t have any vacation or sick time for the first YEAR! I thought that was pretty terrible, but she needed a job and she likes the work.

    48. praise hands emoji*

      15 sick days, 15 vacation days, 14 holidays (13 set + 1 floater, though you can actually float all of them) and 3-5 personal days, I forget exactly, plus the week between Christmas and New Year’s off with pay. This is to start; sick time accrues/rolls over up to 60 days I think, and you accrue more vacation time as well but it’s unclear to me exactly how it works–I was/am so thrilled with the amount of PTO I have now after a job with no benefits that I haven’t bothered figuring out the details yet!

    49. StudentAffairsProfessional*

      I get 26 days PTO (vacation/personal/sick leave) and 11 paid holidays. We can cash out 70 hours (~9 days) once every year if we want to. I have never taken advantage of this but thinking about it, I should! I never use all my vacation time. We can roll over up to 39 days, anything more than that is “use it or lose it.” Most of our holidays are towards the end of the year – I don’t get Labor Day off or any of the bank holidays like Columbus Day, President’s Day or MLK day. but we do get the day before AND the day after Thanksgiving, and December 23-25 as paid holidays. I work at a state university.

    50. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I get 12 hours per month (18 days per year) for vacation/personal, eight hours per month (8 days per year) for sick leave, and 14 paid holidays. We are closed between Christmas and New Year’s, and if any of those days are not covered by holiday pay, we are allowed to work overtime in December to cover the hours so that we don’t have to use our vacation/personal hours for it.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Duh, 8 hours per month = twelve sick days per year. Don’t trust my math on converting hour/month into days per year.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        And I forgot the 8 hours of “children’s educational activities”, which I think should be made into a more general something (volunteer hours or some such) because all people have commitments whether or not they have children.

    51. StudentPilot*

      19 vacation days, 15 sick days, 5 family related (if kids/husband/parents are sick or have an appointment) 1 volunteer day and 1 personal day.

      Next year I get an additional 5 vacation days.

    52. Lily in NYC*

      5 weeks vacation plus 4 floating holidays. I think I get 10 sick days, not sure. And I get to sell back up to unused vacation days every December, which I love.

    53. Kyrielle*

      Previous job (with over 10 years with the company): 4 weeks of vacation, 9 holidays, and 6 sick days per year. (It used to be 10, but then we got purchased and they cut it.) I will note that new hires started with only 2 weeks of vacation, but the same holidays and sick time.

      Current job: 9 holidays, I think? And unlimited PTO/flex time, at manager’s discretion. Their old policy before they changed to this one (and before I joined) used to be 24 days of combined PTO, so I’m trying to land in approximately that ballpark.

    54. Z*

      10 vacation days and five sick days. Sick days can carry over, we can carry a max of (I think) 25 days. I think starting in January I move up to 15 vacation days, and that’s where we max out.

      Yes, I am considering leaving my position because of their stingy vacation day policy.

    55. anonnymoose*

      For first 5 years of service, 15 days per year (accrued throughout the year), for personal use or sick days, plus a few floating holidays and ~8 paid holidays. After that it’s up 5 days every 5 years, I believe. We can have at most 2x annual amount.

      But since MA enacted that law about sick days, we get 10 days for personal/vacation use and 5 sick days. So now that’s only a max of 20 days stored. The sick days can also be carried over for a maximum of 10 and it’s unclear at this point if HR is being flexible about sick days being used for personal/vacation too. I don’t understand why they didn’t just leave it the way it was.

    56. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      Old job was 18 days vacay, 6 days PTO that then got combined into a giant 24-day pool. But since I live in a state that does not require employers to cash out vacation, my company was really generous with it.

      My current job is 8 days for your first two years (and you can carry up to 180 hours) . With sick leave we earn a day every month and there is no limit for carry over. This is also the first job where as a full-time exempt employee, I earn compensatory time that is tracked and monitored. We also get 12 holidays + one floating holiday.

    57. INTP*

      15 days cumulative PTO (prorated at 6.4 hours/day because I work 32 hours), plus a day each for a birthday and a professional development or volunteering day (my boss is lenient about the use of both of those, it’s basically 2 days), and my division does our bonuses in the form of bonus hours (about 8 days per year). Part time employees can either use those as extra PTO or tack the hours onto a paycheck to total up to 40 hours for extra money.

    58. 39281*

      I get 11 holidays off, 30 days of vacation, 7 uncertified sick days (no doctor’s note needed) and up to 20 certified (doctor’s note needed) sick days. After that, I think you have to take a leave of absence. The vacation rolls over (up to 60 days) and gets paid out when you leave, while the sick leave starts over again each year. It’s super generous!

      The culture makes it hard to take days off for more than one or two days at a time, it’s frowned upon to use all of your uncertified sick leave, as many people just use it as vacation. After 2 years, I have about 20 days of vacation saved, but no plans for more than a few Mondays or Fridays off every few weeks.

    59. animaniactoo*

      15 days PTO (used to be 16, but they dropped one when they went from specified 10 vacation, 4 sick, and 2 personal days), and this year is 13 paid holidays (some years it’s 10, some years it’s 15).

    60. Always Anon*


      30 days of PTO, plus the week between Xmas and New Years. After 10 years with the same organization. New employees start with 20 days of PTO.

    61. Cruciatus*

      I earn 18 vacation days over the course of a year, for the first 10 years (12 hours a month). I’m using one today! We earn 12 sick days a year (8 hours a month), we earn 1 personal day a year. I don’t really get the personal day. Do you just use it like a vacation day? Are there different expectations to use it? We get PTO between Christmas and New Year’s Day and have 5 other paid holidays off.

    62. DL*

      State University – these are are for 12-mo faculty and researchers (also staff with more >10 years).
      Vacation – 21 days (14 hours/mo); up to 45 days roll-over annually and pay out when you leave
      Sick – 12 days (8 hrs/mo)
      Holidays – 12
      Plus usually a couple of bonus snow days.

    63. Anxa*

      I work for a public community college.

      We have quite a few days where school is closed for holidays and academic breaks. I pretty much have 3 weeks off around Christmas which is good because my family lives 500 miles away. I can also travel in the summer. Of course that’s theoretical, because I can rarely really afford to go.

      We can call out whenever we’re sick. I don’t think anyone has gotten any flak for it. We have to be present to do our job, it’s not at all a work from home kind of a thing, so our absence is pretty inconvenient, but since our service is free to our patrons, I think it allows us a little more freedom for cancelling appointments if we can’t get coverage. Same for personal time, we just have to mark it on a calendar. There’s no policy as far as I know for how much you can take.

      We have no PTO, whether we call out or whether school closes.

    64. Auntie J*

      56 days paid time off per year (31 vacation, 12 sick, 13 set holidays).

      This is at a not-for-profit college.

    65. wanderer*

      I get 20 vacation days, 14 statutory holidays, 3 non-emergency family days, two additional days off between Christmas and New Year’s for a total of 39 days. Plus an unspecified number of sick days (not to be abused or you will be red flagged by HR, after a certain number of days a doctor’s note is required). We also get (separate) time for jury duty and bereavement leave. I work in a unionized environment at a university in Canada.

    66. De Minimis*

      Really generous where I work, we used to be part of a university system and though we’re now less closely affiliated we’ve kept their same policies.

      I get 2 vacation days a month, and 1 sick day a month. I don’t think the vacation days cap, but they really want people to use them. We close for a while during the holidays and part of the vacation days are used to cover the time period that isn’t an official holiday [usually about 3-4 days of the holiday break period.] The accrual rate is the same for everyone, regardless of how long they’ve been there [at my federal workplace you had to have 15 years in before you were able to accrue vacation time at a similar rate to what I get now.]

      Also have a ton of holidays beyond the main ones, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas are official holidays on our calendar.

    67. 2 Cents*

      Old and New Job both have 20 days in a general pool after the 1st year (when it was just 10 days): sick, PTO, personal, vacation, etc.

    68. TinyTim*

      Large (15K+ employees) private company and I get a pool of 15 PTO days for everything. We get all of the usual holidays plus Black Friday and a few floating holidays we rarely seem to take.

      On a side note, It’s the first place I’ve ever worked that has no official method of tracking days off. I got confirmation from HR that we have nothing. An in-house developer created shared calendars that IT managers use to track days but I’m not sure what the rest of the company uses. It’s weird.

      On the plus side, that gives managers some leeway. For example, I put in more hours than most and have noticed my sick days never get subtracted from the vacation calendar (others have confirmed theirs do). And we have a change freeze over Christmas so my manager “unofficially” gives my whole team the week off (though we’re technically on-call). 15 days is a decent amount when you don’t have to save 4-5 days for Christmas.

    69. LizB*

      We accrue 20 days per year of PTO. Whatever you have saved up rolls over every year, and it only stops accruing once you hit that 20-day cap. Your cap and accrual rate go up at 3 years and 10 years of service (I think?). We also have major public holidays off; if you need or choose to work on one of them, you get a Holiday Flex day that can be used any time during that calendar year, but disappears at the end of the year.

    70. Z*

      I get 15 vacation days per year, of which 12 can roll over year to year. 12 sick days per year, and I think those roll over as well.

    71. Swoop*

      I’m part-time so no paid vacation but vacation pay offsets that somewhat. For paid days there’s stats + the company pays some other days they close.

    72. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

      We have a “work it out amongst yourselves” policy, which has basically worked out to one full week (5 days) per six months, plus an additional 5-7 scattered days throughout the year.

    73. Minion*

      Ours is all rolled into one big ball of personal leave. We earn 8.31 hours per pay period, which is bi-weekly. Once we’ve been here 5 years that goes up to 9.something and after 10 it’s 10.something. I’ve been here for 1.5 years and I have 200 hours available to me right now and that’s what’s left after I’ve taken days off and had a week’s vacation, etc.
      All in all, I think we have a very generous personal leave policy.

    74. Pwyll*

      I’m at a small private firm and receive 2 weeks (80 hours) of vacation. We don’actively track sick or personal time or have a specific pool for it, and I can pretty much call out sick or go to medical appointments as I deem appropriate.

      That said, we’re in a billable hours environment. If I take vacation it is counted for my billables , but nothing else is. So, I have a great deal of flexibility, depending on my billables.

    75. Apollo Warbucks*

      Holidays 25 days and 8 public holiday paid as well as 5 additional days to take unpaid.

      Sick pay I don’t know off hand but at least several weeks paid as long a doctor sings a sick note

    76. Leetaann*

      I’ve been with my company 10 years. I currently get 20 vacation days, 3 floating holidays, 2 personal days and 10 sick days.

      I also have bereavement leave, should I need it and can take paid time off for volunteer work as long as my manager approves.

    77. Melissa*

      I work for a university in the US. I get:
      1.5 vacation days per month, up to a total of 349 hours. After that it’s use it or lose it.
      8 hours sick time per month, no maximum
      5 paid holidays per year
      5 days between Christmas and New Year’s when the campus closes down

      I don’t get summers off because I don’t teach. But that also means I don’t play the ‘publish or perish’ game or have to do as many community events each year, so I’m satisfied with the deal. :)

    78. Schnapps*

      Canadian/Municipal gov’t/union here.

      Currently: 20 vacation, 18 earned days off , supplementary vacation 5 days which have to be used up by 2018, currently 5 and a half months of banked sick time, 3 days banked gratuity (for each quarter we don’t use our sick time, we get a day’s gratuity, up to 3 days/year, bankable up to 120 days), 12 public holidays.

    79. Khal E Essi*

      – 20 days vacation time (15 days, plus everyone gets the week off between Xmas & New Years). Unused vacation time carries over into the next year, w/ a max of 30 days vaca for those under 5 years of service, 40 days for those with 5+
      – 3 personal days which are use it or lose it
      – 12 sick days. Unused sick time carries over, for a max of 130 days.
      – 11.5 paid holidays (Xmas Eve is a half day but I was pretty much the only one here that day last year!)

      This is higher ed in the US. I am in my first year so I haven’t accrued any carry-over vacation time.

    80. Brett*

      I’m a contractor now, so I get 12 days vacation, 5 days sick, 1 personal holiday.

      Old job, while being bad in so many ways, had amazing time off.
      21.5 days PTO to start, 25 days after your first year. Another 5 days each at 11, 21, and 26 years for a max of 40 days.
      Plus 10 holidays and 5 double pay days (so if you worked the scheduled holiday, you received double pay and you still got to take a different off in place of the holiday).
      Carryover cap was 1.5 x yearly, but because we were so short staffed and almost never could get vacations approved, the carryover cap was suspended my last three years there. When I resigned, I had two months of PTO accrued and got to cash out all of them at full value.

      Though that was nothing compared to employees hired before 1996. They had a grandfathered policy where vacation was accrued at 2/3rds of the current PTO, but you also received sick pay equal to your vacation. Sick pay had no carryover caps and you were only required to use it if you ran out of vacation. That meant that any employee who worked to full retirement and never took sick pay could get an extra $150k pay out at retirement, 50% of which was credited towards their final salary for calculating their pension.

    81. Crystal Vu*

      Each year, I get:
      9 national and 1 state holiday
      12 sick days
      15 vacation days
      2 floating holidays

      I started at 10 vacation days a year, 6 months’ waiting period to use. It’s also possible to get 20 days and 25 days after working the requisite number of years.

    82. Willow*

      No official policy–informally I take about 3 weeks of vacation/year, and personal or sick days when needed.

    83. NoCalHR*

      We’re a not-for-profit property management company. Employees accrue (on the basis of regular hours worked) 12 days sick leave/year (can carry over up to a 30 day cap); 10 days vacation/year (can carry over up to a 20 day cap) which goes to 15 days (30 day cap) with 5 years of service and 20 days (40 day cap) with 10 years of service; 10 paid holidays per year. No personal time or floating holidays.

    84. Witty Nickname*

      I get 27 days of PTO, 10 company holidays, and our official sick time policy for exempt employees is “just make sure your work is getting done.”

      New hires start at 17 days PTO, then get another 5 days after 3 years, another 5 after 8 years, and 5 more after 20 years. (I’m in CA, so my PTO is accrued each pay period. I can accrue up to 1.5 times the annual rate, and then it stops until I use some, but I can never lose anything I’ve already accrued. Employees in other states get the same amount but accrue it differently and must use it all each year).

    85. Marian the Librarian*

      Full-time employees get five PT days at the beginning of the fiscal year, and five PTO days the day you start your job. Then, every six months, you get five more PTO days. We accumulate 1 sick day each month. PTO carries over from year to year, but nothing else does.

    86. Bea W*

      3 weeks vacation, 3 personal days, 2 floating holidays, 6 sick days, and the office closes the last week of the year for which we are also paid. We have a “use it or lose it” policy. If you haven’t used your time by Dec 31 you lose it.

    87. Anon for this*

      Taiwan, contract employee (no tenure) at a government research institute. Vacation/sick leave are set by the government and non-negotiable.

      15 days paid sick leave from the beginning, but if we take more than 10 we can’t get the highest rating on our annual performance evaluation. There is provision for longer unpaid leave. We do need a doctor’s note for more than one consecutive sick day, which sucks, but the doctor’s appointment doesn’t cost anything, and it’s easy to get a next day appointment with a GP.

      Zero vacation at first, but it gradually increments with length of service, starting at one week. After ten years, I’ve maxed out at 25 days a year (paid). Usually no problem with approval. So I’m good now, but it sucks for postdocs and anyone who changes jobs.

      We usually get about a week off at Chinese New Year, and nine other stat holidays (founding of the ROC, 228 memorial holiday, tomb sweeping, children’s day, labour day, dragon boat festival, mid autumn festival and national day.) They do this weird thing where if the stat holiday is on a Tuesday or Thursday, they give us the Monday or Friday, for a four day weekend, but the next Saturday is a work day (and the same thing to make the New Year’s holiday a full week).

      My employer is fairly flexible for the occasional work from home, for things like plumbers and food poisoning.

    88. GreenTeaPot*

      Ten days vacation until five years, then fifteen. Six sick days a year. Six paid holidays. No personal days, but time off for personal appointments, as needed. Three days funeral leave.

    89. Melissa*

      My first year on the job. I can’t remember all the exact details, but here’s the gist. This is for state govt work.

      – 8 hours of PTO and 8 hours of sick leave accrue per month. I think PTO accrual increases with seniority, but not sick leave. These carry over year to year, although if I accrue enough I have to use it or lose it. I forget what that limit is since I’m obviously no where near it.
      – 10 paid holidays per year.
      – 8 hours “personal holiday” and 8 hours of “personal leave” per year, which don’t carry over. As far as I know, they can be used for anything.
      – 40 hours of life giving PTO every… I want to say every year, but maybe every 2-3. It’s paid time off for things like blood/plasma/marrow donation etc.
      – 3 days (I think) bereavement leave every year or 2 years, something like that.

    90. skyline*

      20 days vacation, 12 days sick leave, 3 floating holidays, and 11 organizational holidays a year. Max accrual for vacation is 160 hours (20 days), no max accrual for sick leave. I’m a senior manager for a public agency.

    91. Jen RO*

      21 days of PTO (this is the minimum level mandated by law – at 3 years with the company you get bumped up to 25). I’ve never counted the public holidays, but we don’t get the following Monday off if a holiday falls on a weekend, so it varies year by year. A couple of months of sick leave, only with a doctor’s note (the exact amount of days and the exact pay you get depends on the illness). In my company the concept of ‘calling in sick’ doesn’t exist – you either take PTO, get a doctor’s note and take sick leave, or you go to work. I’m in Romania.

    92. Punkin*

      24 days vacation, 13 holidays (including week between Christmas & New Year’s), 12 sick days

      We can roll over 22 vacation days per fiscal year – anything over that rolls to sick time. Unused vacation time will be paid at time of separation, but not sick time. Unused sick time can be used to pad end date at retirement.

      State higher ed in US. Classified as professional. Support staff (admins, janitorial staff…) get about half of the sick & annual leave, plus the same holidays.

      1. Punkin*

        I forgot 3 day bereavement leave. And our sick time can also be used for family members’ illnesses or doctor & dental appointments. The OldJob made us use vacation time for family members’s appointments. UGH.

    93. Anonyby*

      PT in CA here, so I get 3 days sick. (Company was rather generous in that they counted the three days as full 8hr days, when they could have legally gotten away with giving me three 5hr days.)

      I might be moving to FT soon, so I’ve been looking into the policy. The number of days are based on the amount of time you’ve been working, ranging from 14-26 days pooled PTO and split into four tiers. Max accrual cap is roughly 1.5 years’ worth of PTO. What would suck for me is that people who go from PT to FT don’t get their PT years counted when determining benefits.

      There’s also 8 company holidays that get paid at 80% of your normal day’s pay.

    94. J*

      16 days vacation (front loaded), 5 days personal (front loaded), 12 sick days (accrue at one per month). US local government. After 5 years, another 5 days of vacation.

  4. Audiophile*

    Woo-hooo! It’s Friday!

    Work is insane. We have an event next Thursday and then an event the following Friday.

    Then I can breathe a little until June. They pushed up their November event to July, so I’m going to have to finagle a vacation somewhere in there. I’ll be in the job six months at that point. Since I don’t expect any type of raise, I’m definitely getting away for a bit.

    I’m in the middle of a chain of emails, boss decided we should send out a Passover email. We already had an event email scheduled, so everyone of our contacts will get both emails. I’m waiting for the onslaught of unsubscribers.

  5. Hungry*

    Hi all! Hoping you can advise on salary/promotion info and expectations. I’m the director of a department overseeing three direct reports. I had a counterpart (same title) in a different department with no direct reports but overseeing an agency. That counterpart left, and there has been discussion of moving her responsibilities over to me, and promoting me to a larger strategic role overseeing both depts. No salary or title has been discussed yet, and I’m not sure what I should ask for or expect. The other director presumably made around the same salary as me, though I certainly don’t expect that I would get all of that. What’s a typical jump for a promotion? I’m afraid the company is going to seriously lowball me under the assumption I should be honored to take this on.

    1. LanLinesareLosers*

      Without a title it is challenging to know. Typically I have seen that a director is an AVP. If you are overseeing several departments, typically, you over see directors as well and would become a VP. In your case, however, you are not overseeing any directors.

      You definitely are not going to get a 100% raise for taking on the work of another co-worker. I would try to think about this role in reverse. Assume you eliminated a direct report and think about the work that would be divvyed up. How would that impact their salary if at all?

    2. Janet*

      You should also expect some of your counterpart’s salary budget to be used (presumably by you) to back-fill some of your role if you take a step up, and start thinking about how this structure would work best as you frame out your new role (and salary and title).

      Example: you become senior director/AVP/VP; you won’t be able to do the full time role of what your counterpart did AND manage your existing 3 direct reports. That’ll have to go to your reports, to a new hire, you, or some combination.

      I would also recommend you figure out what is more important if push were to come to shove: title or salary. I know this sounds like a no-brainer (SALARY!) but there are often cases where title matters more to people after a certain level. Because you asked, and I have no idea whatsoever about your industry, here are some for-instance numbers, though they might be low if you are a director in a for-profit company (i know many on here are not).

      You currently make 100k; your counterpart makes about 100k. You get a title bump/promo that’s 15-20% bringing you to 120k. Maybe you can negotiate a bigger bonus (if your company does them) to accompany the new title/role.

      You then need to restructure things so one of your direct reports, who currently makes 80k, takes over some agency-mgmt tasks. 20% bump for them. Or you hire new, eating up 80k.

      I suggest you check Glassdoor and other sources for what people in your industry make at various levels. When I was a senior mgr, I made 120 with a 5% bonus; as a director i made 125 with a 25% bonus and as an AVP I made 160 with a 35% bonus. I will tell you I was grossly underpaid compared to my peers in both the Director and AVP titles, but I was also the youngest (ie least experienced).

      DH is a senior director and makes 190k with a 35k (not %) bonus. We both work in technology-ish companies (but not those crazy start ups or anything particularly lucrative!!)

  6. Anonymous Cookie*

    How long after having a phone interview do you assume that you’re not moving on in the process? I had a phone interview last Tuesday; they wrapped up the phone interviews on Monday and I was told I’d hear back by the end of the week.

    1. Anon for this*

      Depends on the industry, of course, but if you take what they say and AT LEAST double it, then add a week, you might be getting close. Take Alison’s advice and mentally move on (preferably including applying somewhere else) so that a phone call/email update is something that just happens, and you’re not spending all your time wondering about it.

    2. Charlotte Collins*

      Didn’t Alison do something about what expectations should be? I think I’d wait at least a week before assuming that I wasn’t moving forward. (Or until you get an email letting you know that you won’t be moving forward.) People are often a lot more optimistic about when they’ll be able to get back to you than they should be.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I would assume right away, so you can be pleasantly surprised if that’s not the case. I’ve seen a lot of weird drawn-out hiring timelines, so don’t hold your breath.

    4. Joanna*

      There’s no set amount of time. I’ve had everything from an hour to a month. In the meantime, keep working on applications for other jobs otherwise you’ll loose momentum if this one doesn’t work out

  7. Jennifer*

    This week’s news:
    (a) My supposed transfer off public service is now at least SIX MONTHS away. And that news was BEFORE finding out that my coworker being left behind needs arm surgery. Oh, and I’m going to have to apply for the job due to my stupid union (I am not anti-union, but my union is awful to its members) not wanting to let me go and the dream job I am supposed to be getting into doesn’t have one. I’m starting to think this may not happen. I really don’t think they can afford to lose me serving and smiling when they will be down to three people.
    (b) I caught someone lying to their employer this week, but I had to be super cagey and get two supervisors to check my e-mail before I could tell the HR lady anything. She has apparently had all hints fly over her head like butterflies and it sounds like they are going to hire him anyway! And he’s lying to her but I can’t say that! She just didn’t get it! Grrr!

    1. S0phieChotek*

      (b) You can’t tell HR that an employer is lying? Would not re-act well? Favor this person?

      1. Jennifer*

        I’m not allowed to tell her anything that isn’t “public information.” Especially with two managers having to check my e-mail before I send it. There’s probably legal issues if I get caught telling her he’s straight up lying.

        1. TootsNYC*

          He’s lying about something you can confirm?

          Can you simply say: “That doesn’t match our records” or “I cannot confirm that”?

          Or if he’s lying about something that’s not yours to directly refute, can you say, “If I could be so bold; you might check more carefully into that”?

  8. TheIntern*

    I was one of two finalists last week but did not get the job. The Executive Director was transparent throughout the process and shared with me that one of the board members (who played a role in the decision of who to hire) felt I was overqualified. The job required a BS and I am graduating with my MSW this week, but I understood the role and really saw it as a great entry level position for me to grow in my skills. I am continuing to apply to similar positions because I lack the management experience needed for higher level roles. I never thought of myself as over qualified before, but I guess I could be for some jobs with an advanced degree plus 5+ years experience in the field.

    Do I address this proactively in a cover letter or interview moving forward or just take it as a one off remark?

    1. IT Kat*

      If the field’s norms do make you overqualified with a Masters… then take it off your resume.

      Don’t hide that you have it, obviously, but the resume is a marketing document, and if it’s hurting your chances, there’s no point to having it on there.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        I agree. I am always skeptical of applicants that have a Masters in a field totally unrelated to the job I’m hiring for. I would not DQ for that reason, of course, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical. I’m just assuming that this person is a flight risk because they obviously want to be doing something else.

        1. TheIntern*

          I should have specified, the jobs require a Bachelor’s in Social Work or related field; however, I have a Master’s and 5+ years experience in the same field.

          1. MM*

            Fellow MSW here with 5+ years in the field. You don’t specify if this was a direct service role or not. A lot of direct service roles I’ve seen will have a line like MSW preferred, BSW high school diploma with experience required. Run away from those jobs! They will not pay what you are worth and burn you out quickly. You have a masters and previous work and field education experience aim higher! Unless a job posting specifies they need someone with a clinical license you should apply for them. Good luck!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you should address it in the cover letter directly in the sense of “I know I’m overqualified, but…” Instead you should really make a case for both why you’re good for the position and why you’re interested in the position. Usually, the focus in the cover letter is to explain what you can offer, and it’s less about why you’re interested, but if you’re probably overqualified, it’s worth mentioning what appeals to you about the position. Otherwise, the hiring manager will just think, “This person’s just applying to whatever, and she doesn’t really want this job.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        what is there about the job you’re applying to that will be growth for you?

        Emphasize that.

        Maybe the organization is a new structure, different size. (Bigger = chance to see more complexity; smaller = chance to observe and be involved from a closer perspective)

  9. Aunt Vixen*

    Paging Katie the Fed and other feds!

    I have an interview for a federal position in a couple of weeks. What can you tell me about the difference between interviews for federal jobs and interviews for jobs out here in the rest of the world?

    1. Milton*

      In my experience they are fond of the STAR method of interviewing. Especially the R (result)!

      I pulled my experiences from all points in my life: high school, undergrad, grad school, personal, professional/current job. This was particular for my position, so you may not need to share as much about your life. Good luck on your interview!

    2. Statie*

      In my agency, you could expect structured interviews with few opportunities for follow-on questions to get more out of your answer. It makes for awkward interviewing; interviewee finishes sentence, interviewers write, then everyone moves to the next question. I always make sure I have key things I want to convey and find a way to do so through the questions I ask at the end of the interview if I haven’t been able to hit those topics in responding to their questions.

      We also tend to have score sheets with a rubric for each of the structured interview questions. The best answers (as in any interview) show how you think, how you prioritize, and how you handle competing interests.

    3. Elle the new Fed*

      Also it will feel very staged and rigid because there is a list of questions they have to ask.

      Personally when I interview I don’t love the structured questions because people always miss the STAR. Answer the question is so important. I do love the questions at the end because it allows me to have much more meaningful conversations and probe more deeply into experience.

    4. Slippy*

      If you are applying for something below a GS 13 most of the interview should be about how well you can do the job. At 13 and above they generally start asking more about strategic issues and managing the people doing the work. YMMV.

    5. AnotherFed*

      There is probably a very set list of questions and interviewers rarely are allowed to ask follow up questions, so make sure you really answer the questions (with relevant examples). Especially for formal panel interviews, the panel isn’t allowed to interact with you beyond introductions, including smiling, nodding, looking interested/bored/hungry. Most people suck at doing that in a neutral way, so don’t get thrown by people with RBF or who suddenly scowl or shut down because they realized they were making some other expression.

      Also, expect it to take them forever to get back to you after the interview – even if you are the top candidate, it can take a long time to get the necessary approvals to have an offer made. One job we posted took 3 months, and I’ve heard horror stories of much longer than that…

    6. K130*

      Congrats on the interview!
      I’ve had 2 federal interviews, one for my previous position, one for my current position and two since then (because I’m trying to find a higher grade position, but that’s a different story). I think they suck. Three of them were scripted, like read directly of the page, no room for dialogue. Two of them were over the phone (not a screening, the actual interview) and a third was in the same room as one of the interviewers and over video with the two other interviewers. One of them, I was interviewed by counterparts of equal grade at three separate locations and they would present their recommendation to the hiring manager in a 4th location, none of them worked at the hiring location. And my FAVORITE part is how long they take to get back to you. My position now I applied in August, interviewed in October, got the offer in late November. I had an interview last August and one in January. I’m still waiting to hear back on those. ;)

      1. De Minimis*

        Entirely depends on the agency, department, and the individual hiring manager.

        The interview I had for my federal job [accountant for a group of medical clinics] was no different than a private sector job interview. This is just a theory I have, but when it’s a job that also exists in the private sector, the interview is more likely to resemble a private sector interview. If it’s something that is really government specific [like an IRS agent] it’s more likely to be ultra structured.

        BTW for the interview at my last fed job, they called me with a tentative offer the next day…

        I’ve had others that were 100% structured [and you should probably be ready for that just in case, that seems to be pretty common.] For federal jobs I’ve never had any that were so structured that you couldn’t have any kind of dialogue with the interviewer [have seen that a lot though with county and municipal jobs…]

        I tell people that the key to preparing for these interviews is the same as any other interview, the only extra thing to do is to be prepared to tell your “story” in whatever format is necessary.

    7. Pwyll*

      Agreed with the others: my Federal interviews were very strictly orchestrated. We weren’t allowed to deviate from the prepared question pool, and they weren’t allowed to accept any supplemental documents I brought (think writing samples, a prettier version of my resume that isn’t the ugly thing USA Jobs spits out, etc.). But the formality and tone of the interviews really varied from agency-to-agency. One agency was heavy on process, “here’s a problem how would you solve it” and others were more “tell us a story from your past on these subjects”. But all of them would cut me off if I got too far afield from the question prompt.

      And don’t take the lack of followup personally: I didn’t get an offer a full 6 months after my interview for one of them.

    8. Student*

      Federal job interviews are just as varied as “rest of the world”.

      These people are more “stuck” with you than “rest of the world” in some aspects, so they are likely to want to know if you’ll be reasonable to work with longer term.

  10. Mona Lisa*

    Thanks, everyone, who responded when I asked what to do about my class that was teaching bad resume skills a few weeks ago! Today we traded around resumes in class to offer constructive feedback, and the freshman I helped told me, “I’ve learned more in five minutes of talking with you than I have this entire semester.” There was also a natural in for me to suggest AAM to the TA when he came by our desks, and he put the link up on the board and made a big announcement that everyone should check it out. Hopefully Alison will have a bunch of new readers (with awesome resumes) soon!

  11. Tilly W*

    Last week there was a post regarding reaching out to a fired employee and I wanted to share my recent experience.

    I was part of a large layoff two weeks ago and last week my boss asked me to coffee. I was a little skeptical but when we met up he wanted to explain the scope of the layoffs. He also offered to help in my job search/reference and reminded me that I have a great skill set so I shouldn’t settle in my job search. I left the meeting with some confidence because even though layoffs were inevitable at our company, I was feeling knocked down. He didn’t have to reach out but it was a really nice gesture.

    And I realize this would have been much different if I had been fired.

  12. Karowen*

    In the Jekyll/Hyde post from yesterday, the manager mentioned that her team was incredibly frustrated and of course didn’t know about Hyde’s PIP. I know that this is the correct thing to do, but what do you do if you’re in danger of losing a number of fantastic team members because they don’t know that you’re aware of/taking action against a bad team member? Is there a way for a good manager to let her team know that she aware of the issues the bad team member is causing and is working to fix them?

    (I’m not in a managerial position at all; just genuinely curious.)

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve gone to my manager about issues with an employee and they said they were aware of the problems and there are new steps in place to address them. I took that to mean that the person was on a PIP. You can’t tell everyone about a PIP, but if someone directly asks, I think it is best to at least acknowledge that there is a problem and you are addressing it.

      1. Kira*

        That sounds really straightforward. I get frustrated when Edwin is dropping the ball and I describe it out to our supervisor, whose only response is “well maybe then you should pick up the ball” instead of ever acknowledging that maybe Edwin should be held to a higher standard. They say that, understandably, that performance issues are handled 1-on-1, but it’s annoying when you don’t even know if they recognize there is a performance issue! And so many people have been fired abruptly, I don’t think they got clear feedback that they needed to improve.

        1. AVP*

          I’m sorry, that is a really frustrating answer to hear as well as a metaphor gone awry. I wish you could have kept it going…. “But what if I already have two balls in my hands and one was in the air and about to be thrown under a bus?”

      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        When I have had a problem employee on a PIP and people have come to me with concerns my go to statement is, “thank you for sharing your concerns with me. I want to let you know that I am aware there are concerns and am taking steps to address it.”

        Because I have proven myself to my team, most of them walk away with “cool, Not the Droid is on top of things…” The only time it was frustrating was when I had the employee who followed the PIP to the letter, but then continued to do things that weren’t on the PIP. After the third time I had to amend the document, HR finally said enough was enough and that we could just move forward with termination.

      3. LBK*

        Yes, I had this same kind of interaction with my manager re: a problem employee – I brought my concerns to him and he said he was aware and steps were being taken.

    2. LanLinesareLosers*

      That’s when a team meeting outlining behavior is a good idea IMO.

      If management comes to meeting and says, X, Y, and Z are unacceptable. I want to let everyone know that we take this very seriously. If this behavior is witnessed you will be put on a PIP and potentially dismissed.

      Then you didn’t go air Mr. Hyde’s business but you did let the team know if is being addressed.

      1. Sadsack*

        Yeah, but do they know? That type of messaging can also cause people to wonder if they are being accused of wrongdoing and they won’t necessarily know that someone they know to be a problem has actually already been put on PIP. I think AndersonDarling’s suggestion is good, although only in the case where someone comes to you about the problem.

      2. LBK*

        I think that only works for instances of someone breaking hard rules, ie “using your cell phone while on the clock is unacceptable”. I think it would be really weird to have a meeting to state that broader behavioral characteristics are unacceptable…mostly because it goes without saying for most people that being a jerk to your coworkers is unacceptable, and it’s going to be really patronizing to tell your entire team at once that you expect basic professionalism out of them unless it’s a widespread issue.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          This. I hate these kind of talks from management. If you have a problem employee (or several), address that person directly. Don’t lecture at me.

    3. KR*

      When I’ve talked to managers about a problem employee, they usually use a wording pretty close to yours. “I’ve had several people talk to me about Ramona and I want you to know that we are working with her to reach a solution.” They keep the details vague but they let us know that they are aware there’s a problem without sharing specifics. This is in the case of an employee who is at the same “level” as me, whereas if I’m reporting a problem about an employee that I supervise they usually give me specifics so I can better coach them or answer questions they have.

      1. Karowen*

        Interesting. What if you as the manager didn’t have anyone come talk to you, but you could sense the mood shift? Would you proactively say anything?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have done subtle things liked watched for an eye-roll (from one the complainers) and then nodded, as in “yes, I see the problem.”

          Never underestimate other subtleties, too. When a person is called into the boss’ office and the door is closed, we ALL understand that visual.

          Depending on the nature of the situation and the other employees’ involvement in the original issues, I might reopen a previous conversation. “A while ago you came in and told me there was difficulty with Bob. I’d like to know if you have any updates on our original conversation.” But this is a gray area, and I would use several factors to figure out if I would do this or not. For example: Let’s say someone uses a machine/chemical/something in an unsafe manner. I’d speak to the individual after receiving a complaint. Then later, for some reason, I get the idea that the individual is STILL working unsafely. I would go back to the person who complained and ask “Have you noticed any further problems with safety regarding Coworker’s use of machine/chemical/other.” Safety issues were always easy for me to reopen the conversation because safety effects everyone.

    4. Manager thoughts*

      We tell staff that whenever concerns are raised, we follow up, but that that process may take a while and may not be visible to them.

      1. Rebecca Too*

        Yes, especially because confidentiality is a big deal in the whole PIP process. Even if an employee is a “known problem” and others have expressed frustration as to why that person is still employed (I used to get those complaints all the time!), as a manager you probably need to tread lightly while still acknowledging that you’re “on it”.

    5. Mary*

      I’ve had this happen to me before–I was the employee in danger of leaving over frustration. After months of covering for an co-worker’s frequent absences, I finally asked my boss about the situation. She just looked me straight in the eye and said, “It’s being handled.” And that was that. (Of course, my supervisor is a terrific manager, and I trust her.) The employee was fired several months later–but I was able to stick it out.

  13. Depressed Millennial*

    To summarize: I graduated from college six years ago, I have yet to land a full time salaried position and I feel worthless about life.

    I graduated from college in 2010. During the recession not many companies were hiring, and neither I nor anybody I knew got a job out of college. After graduating I was unemployed for almost a year before landing a minimum wage job at a museum. I worked there for a year and a half, then went to graduate school. After getting my master’s, I spent the next two years looking for jobs in my field – I am interested in non-profits dedicated to educational equality. Found nothing after two years of searching, and out of desperation took a part-time job answering telephones at a company in my town, where I still work. I am the only person at the company with a master’s degree, and I would estimate about 75 percent of employees only have a high school diploma.

    This past month I was interviewing for a job I really wanted. There were four rounds of interviews. I made it to the third round, and I thought I did a great job. But I got a rejection email this week. It’s always the same: “Your qualifications are amazing, but we’re going forward with other candidates.” Well, joy. It’s great that they think I’m amazing, but second best doesn’t get you the job. And six years of applying for jobs and being rejected really wears on your self-esteem.

    I have had to get pretty creative when it comes to gaining experience. I have done a lot of freelance work in the non-profit world. I also do a lot of volunteering. I have even started my own charitable projects. I run a blog in my niche. Most employers tell me that my resume and cover letters are very impressive. I got an email back yesterday from a position I applied for saying “Thank you for your interest. While you would be an awesome candidate, we have filled this role. Best of luck finding something where you can use all of the valuable skills you possess.”

    I think the thing that bums me out the most about all of this is that I am really interested in non-profts. I don’t want a job in order to make money… I want a job in order to help people. I know that I have amazing talents and I know my purpose in life is to help others. I see so much inequality in the world, and I want to help others rise up. My passion is giving everybody a chance at a high quality education, and solving poverty. I have had plenty of jobs where I made barely above minimum wage, and I was happy because I knew I was making a difference. (Okay, having a job to help me pay off my $70,000 in student loans would be nice). There are so many people in the world who need help, and I want to help them, and I just want somebody to hire me so I can! But I go into these interviews and I talk about how dedicated I am to the mission, and my experience… and I get rejected. If passion, enthusiasm, and experience doesn’t get you a job, what the heck does?

    Thanks for giving me a space to vent. It’s been a tough week.

    1. Collie*

      I hear you. Your contributions are important, you are important, and from one Millennial to another, you’re not alone.

      1. Mark in Cali*

        I used to be like you and only wanted to work for a non-profit and the “greater good.” I work in corporate after many years of waiting tables and piecing together jobs at various non-profits just trying to wait my turn. Consider this: many corporations are actually very responsible and do good work and, get this, have way more financial benefits than non-profits.

        Can you consider finding a job in the corporate sector? You’ll find that many corporations encourage their employees to get involved on a board of directors and do volunteer work with organizations their foundations support. Going this route could 1) satisfy your need to work in or with a non-profit, 2) put you on a better road financially, 3) save you lots of frustration and 4) open doors for the future to work with a non-profit after you get more skills.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, Mark gives good advice here. Don’t limit yourself just to non-profits – you can find reputable corporate companies that will provide you with excellent skills and training so that in a few years if you make the move to a non-profit you will be much more *useful* to them.

          Also, Callie downthread makes an excellent point that if you haven’t actually worked in education, you can be as passionate as you want but you may not make much progress without some experience in the field to back that up. Most people don’t take well to advice from “experts” who have studied their field but not actually dealt with the day-to-day.

          Have you considered a program like Teach for America to get you some on the ground experience with education?

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            Teach for America is a great idea, as is AmeriCorps.

            If I remember correctly TFA also has some sort of Loan Forgiveness program during your time in the classroom.

          2. Rob Lowe can't read*

            If the OP decides to go with a program like TfA or another alternative route to teaching, he or she needs to make sure the program is an ideological fit. Some school districts have their own residency/training programs for prospective teachers that are more focused on traditional public schools (Boston has one, and I know some people who have done them in Richmond VA and Memphis TN also), although those usually only pay a living stipend the first year. City Year or other AmeriCorps programs might also be good options, as might Citizen Schools if that’s offered in the OP’s local districts. Becoming a teacher’s aide or paraprofessional would be another route to gaining experience (and probably pays better than national service positions).

          3. Meg Murry*

            I would also add that if you spent a few years working at a corporation that you trusted and got your loans paid down/off, that would give you a lot more flexibility in the kind of jobs you could afford to take in 5-10 years. I’m not saying sell your soul, but making money at a company who’s mission you generally agree with (or at least don’t hate) to get yourself out of debt is a valid path, and one worth considering.

          4. Callie*

            Teach for America… I have many issues with them. They don’t train their teachers enough, they take kickbacks from districts that are already struggling financially when they place their “grads” there, and they really don’t encourage teachers to stay. They aren’t interested in developing teachers. They are interested in developing policymakers. Get a little teaching experience and move on to something else is their mindset. Kids deserve better than this. They deserve teachers who are committed to them and to the community. High rates of teacher turnover are terrible for schools.

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          I definitely agree with Mark, sometimes for-profit can actually be the jumping off point for non-profit.

          You could also look at companies that do non-profit consulting (RuffaloCody, Wilson-Bennet, etc.) you’ll likely end up running a phone program somewhere (not super exciting), but you will get valuable experience and make a lot of connections.

        3. Sunflower*

          Yes I’ve been pressing my friend to do this. Lots of corporations have community outreach programs.

        4. Mallory*

          I agree with this statement. I started out in the corporate world, and after 6 years I recently started an amazing job with a large non-profit (and it pays really well too!). Getting work experience will put you into a much better position to find a job with the kind of company you are looking for.

    2. AnotherMillenial*

      I understand where you are completely. I also graduate in 2010 with 2 advanced degrees and huge student loan debt (6 figures) and ended up working at a Starbucks-like coffee shop FT because that is all I could. I hear you and commiserate with…but have no advice as I am in the same boat!

    3. LanLinesareLosers*

      First – I wish you the best of luck and sadly I know many millenials in your shoes. They have been out of school for 5 – 7 years with only part-time of reail work to show for it. They feel like employers would rather hire a fresh out of college millennial into an entry level role than them. : c

      That last letter you shared made me concerned that you are coming across as overqualified. With a masters degree, if you are applying to entry level roles, my guess is that most non-profits are concerned that you won’t stay in the role long and are just looking for a “jumping off” point.

      Have you tried contacting any of the companies that rejected you and asking for feedback?

    4. Bowserkitty*

      Hang in there – we’re in a similar age demographic for this and I definitely understand. I was still working just above minimum wage for well over a year after graduating and managed to break into my first well-paying (well enough that I could finally afford rent AND loans and other bills, but not much else) job after temping there for several months, also at a couple dollars above minimum. And even then, the job I was offered was the job nobody else wanted but it looked good on my resume, all three years of it. You will get through this. <3

    5. Fabulous*

      I am in the same boat and I graduated in 2007! I had a job in my field (theatre) at one point and then the market crashed and poof! I started working in finance. Now I’m trying to get back into nonprofit theatre development. I went back and got my Masters, and have been applying like mad since Nov 2014 with barely any bites. Of the interviews I’ve had, I’ve also gotten to the final stages with no avail. It sucks. No better way to describe it…

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

      *hugs* I really wish I had answers. I’ve been in a similar boat for a long time. Well except I really don’t like people… ;)

    7. Mando Diao*

      Your current call center job is absolutely a good stepping stone, so don’t feel bad about that. I’ve known a lot of people who stuck it out for two years at jobs like that and used that office experience to land something more in line with what they want.

    8. Temperance*

      Why not look in to the for-profit world for now? Everything is unfortunately more competitive than ever.

      I work at a large firm in the pro bono program. For me, it’s a great fit. I don’t have to deal with the stress of low resources/dealing with difficult people 24/7, as I would working at a legal services org, and I am making a MUCH BIGGER difference in my current role, running this program.

      Have you thought about trying to get in to corporate social responsibility programs? I honestly love it, and can’t ever imagine doing direct services, which was my original goal. I still work with some clients and at clinics, but I make a bigger difference.

    9. Shiara*

      I’m sorry you’re having a rough week. You’re definitely not alone.

      I do want to say that I think it’s absolutely fantastic that you’re finding ways to help people through freelancing, volunteer work and other projects, even though I know it can be disappointing that you aren’t able to turn your career to that purpose yet.

    10. EddieSherbert*

      Yeah, I would consider looking at some for-profit or corporate jobs to start with. My first job out of college (around the same time as you) wasn’t really what I was going for and I didn’t feel passionate about the work – but I still learned a lot, made some good connections (stellar references) and it was a great stepping stone for the future.

    11. Callie*

      Do you have any experience working in education? As in, actual teaching?

      I have been in education for a very long time, working with all levels from pre-K to PhD, and the biggest thing that people in the field push back hard against is people (consultants, nonprofits, “reformers”, etc) telling them what to do when they have NO teaching experience whatsoever. If you want to solve education problems but have never been an educator, that might be a big reason you are not getting a job.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I came here to say the same thing. I’m a teacher, and I have zero interest in listening to non-educators who want to tell me what I should be doing to address my students’ many challenges. I definitely appreciate that there is broad interest in the difficulties faced by the demographic of students I teach (urban, low-income, English language learners), but I appreciate it even more when it’s coming from someone with a base of knowledge and experience and understanding.

        1. Muriel Heslop*

          Another teacher agreeing with this. I encourage you to check with some places you have interviewed to see if your application would be improved with some educational experience. I always need awesome subs and it’s a great way to get a feel for the environment with a number of different schools.

          Good luck! I appreciate your passion.

        2. Callie*

          One of the first things I want to know from someone who is trying to “help” me is “what is your experience in the classroom?” If the answer is “none,” my brain just shuts down. I don’t care if you’re Bill Gates. If you’ve never been the person at the front of the room (and that room being children, not adults), you just Do. Not. Understand.

      2. A Teacher*

        3rd teacher agreeing. I teach in an urban district that’s poor and very diverse. It is great to have speakers that can attest to the challenges of my students-but it isn’t a big value add when someone with zero experience in the classroom comes in and tries to explain how to diversity my learning, how to use concept maps, or any of the other big words thrown out by educational advocates that have never taught in an actual classroom setting.

        1. Anon for this one*

          4th teacher agreeing. I am working with a Phd student right now in Education who has zero. Yes, that is right zero classroom experience pre K- 12.

          1. Callie*

            How in the F can someone get a PhD in education with no teaching experience? When I was looking at PhD programs, they all required a minimum of three years, and tbh that’s really not enough. I have 15, all my colleagues at my current adjunct position have 10+, and so do my soon to be colleagues at my new position.

          2. Rob Lowe can't read*

            That’s insane. I had one professor in grad school who only taught for three years (which was the same amount of experience I had at that point) and I found her to be mostly sizzle and very little steak. She was obviously very knowledgable about her research areas, but I felt like when we discussed actual issues related to the topic of the class she was all like, “Throw theory at the problem!”

            1. Callie*

              Exactly. There are times when you apply the theory and it doesn’t work. What then? You can’t just look at a kid and go “but this book said you would do x if I did y so why aren’t you doing x?”

    12. voluptuousfire*

      My sympathies, OP. It’s rough looking for so long and being told “you’re an amazing candidate but someone is a better fit!” over and over. I can’t offer advice but can commiserate.

    13. neverjaunty*

      This is so, so common for people your age. I hate being the old person who says “hang in there”, but, well.

    14. CMT*

      I hear you. I graduated in 2010 also, and I feel like searching for jobs has been my real full-time work since then. I’ve been unemployed or underemployed almost the whole time.

    15. Manager thoughts*

      Many jobs come through networking. You might try volunteering with Friends groups that support nonprofits, for example, who run events to promote the organization. Those events are an opportunity to meet people who share your interests, and your co-volunteers may be good contacts as well.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Take a hard look at your last paragraph. Make sure that major portions of your last paragraph are in your cover letters. Take that preemptive strike, anticipate their objections and answer the objection before being asked. That is what Alison says to do.

    17. Christian Troy*

      I’m roughly the same age as you and have had similar experiences. When I finished my master’s last year, I was adamant I only wanted a job in patient based research because I wanted to work on projects that were directly helping people. Earlier this year, I really pushed myself to apply to other kinds of jobs in other somewhat related sectors where I thought I could apply some of my skills. It is really hard for me sometimes to see friends get interesting fellowships or work on cool projects, but at some point I am only hurting myself by having such a narrow construction of what a career looks like. I am sorry things aren’t working out for you and my advice is sincerely for your own sanity, consider looking at other kinds of jobs or non-profits.

    18. themmases*

      I’m sorry, this sounds so hard and discouraging. I graduated the year before you and am also in a do-gooder field (public health) so I’ll share a little based on what I do and what my peers do.

      I realize you’re posting anonymously, but make sure you can articulate your interests very specifically, and only get just vague enough about them to fit that organization under your umbrella and make clear why you’re a match. Many people are passionate about education or poverty… Those areas are very broad and saying that doesn’t distinguish you to a non-profit. Always try to frame your interests and accomplishments in a way that makes clear why you belong at this organization as opposed to just any education non-profit.

      A big part of that is making clear that you want to be part of a specific organization’s mission. They aren’t just the group that will pay your bills while you fulfill your destiny of helping others… Ideally you will be part of a team that makes an impact according to that group’s mission and values. Passion is great, but I think sometimes people can stray too far in the direction of emphasizing how a job will be a great opportunity for *them* and help them do what they want to do. That can impress others without it making them want to hire you. In most non-profit roles you serve others through service to the organization.

      Finally no one gets everything they want in a job. If your #1 goal is to work in a particular type of organization, then find out what specific skills they are often in need of. What is the thing that, if you could do it, they’d have to have you? How do you guarantee you’re in the room? Go forth and get that specific thing, not generalized accomplishments. Reach out to people in the field, read the Bureau of Labor Statistics handbook, find blogs about your field. You may also just not be applying to the right level of jobs if you are always being told basically that you’re overqualified. A human with experience will be able to tell you “You have the profile of an analyst, not an assistant, and if you added X…”

    19. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      ~hugs~ I feel you! I graduated college in 2008, had to move back home with my parents because I couldn’t find something to support myself. I was unemployed for about a year, worked temp for awhile, went back to get a teaching certificate because I thought that might work. I substitute taught, trying to get into that industry. I did end up teaching in a classroom for 1 year, but ended up out of that job and for the last 4 years I’ve cobbled together enough of a living from several part time jobs, but I’ve been underemployed for most of my career.

      If your concern is helping people, there are a number of ways to help people, even within corporations. One of the reasons I leaned towards education was because it felt “important” and “helpful”. There are a number of companies that provide services to people where you can feel like you’re making a difference for people.

      I finally got a full time job offer for a position I’ll be starting on Monday… I’m so excited to have something, and I hope you find something too. It takes a LONG time to find something that will make you happy. Good luck!

    20. Camellia*

      I am curious – are you limiting your search to a specific geographical area? If so, is there any way you could open yourself up to a nation-wide search? Sometimes the jobs are there. not ‘here’. Just a thought.

    21. MillersSpring*

      I wouldn’t put much stock in the verbiage of rejections as they are usually form letters. You might have some luck getting feedback from past interviewers.

    22. Rubyrose*

      I’m missing something here, and apologize if this has been answered. I hear what you are interested in. But exactly what are your degrees in? I know some people who got degrees in areas that have nothing to do with jobs they are applying for.

  14. Fabulous*

    Welp, my replacement has been hired at my temp job so I’m out of luck. My targeted job search has generated no leads, so I refreshed my resumes on Careerbuilder and Monster. I have now been contacted 5 times this week by recruiters. Apparently that’s the way to go! Had an interview on Wednesday, another interview this afternoon, and one more next Tuesday… in my selected field no less!

    Glad to finally have some movement on my resume, even if it is through recruiters. Let them do all the work instead of me for once :)

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Hmmm, I’ll try Monster. I didn’t think it was as popular as it was last time I was in the job market.

    2. AMT 2*

      That’s great! I’ve used a recruiter for my last three new jobs – some are not great but I’ve always had great luck (but it might be field-driven, I’m in accounting), but that’s my rationale – let THEM do the searching, I tell them what I’m looking for and they bring me what they find that fits (the last time around the first call they gave me was for a job in tax which I flatly refused to even interview for, but wound up at the same company but NOT in tax!)

    3. Delyssia*

      Thank you for posting this! The last couple of times I’ve been seriously job searching, I’ve had good luck from posting my resume online and having recruiters reach out to me (admittedly, I’ve gotten plenty of irrelevant calls and emails, too, but I’ve also gotten a number of interviews and two jobs). But I know Alison and a lot of folks around here are against posting your resume online, so I’d been a little reluctant to do so this time.

      I just posted my resume on Indeed, and I may go ahead and post on Monster and Careerbuilder while I’m at it. I’m struggling to find positions I’m interested in to apply to, I’m not really sure what I want my next position to be (other than a step forward in my career), so let’s see if anything interesting finds me!

  15. Lauren*

    Vacation Payout (Massachusetts Laws?)

    My current job is in Mass, and I know that Mass requires vacation payout when you leave a job. My company headquarters is located in Pennsylvanie though, and HR said ‘you are entitled to 50% of your unused vacation pay.’

    Does Mass law trump PA law because I am employed in Mass? Or is it based on where company headquarters is located?

    HR messed our insurance based on Mass insurance law last year so its not unheard of HR just being unaware of the laws pertaining to Mass employees.

    1. ZSD*

      IANAL, but I think that if the office you’re working for is located in Massachusetts, then they’d have to follow Massachusetts law.
      If your job is in MA in the sense that you live in MA and *telecommute* to PA from home, then I think they’d follow PA law. But I’m not sure.

      1. Lauren*

        Nope, I work the in the Mass office. I have 80 hours left for the year, but Mass law is about earned time. Company is saying i will get 27 hours paid, but if I go with Mass law, I would have earned 37 hours.

        Is it worth noting? Yes, I want my money – but more importantly, I want others to get what they owe too when they leave.

        1. CAA*

          Can you clarify how you’re calculating your accrued hours? By the end of the month, you will have worked 1/3 of the year, and 1/3 of 80 hours is 27 hours, so if they pay you for all of the 27 hours, that should be correct. I’m not understanding where the “50% of your unused vacation pay” and “earned 37 hours” is coming from.

          1. CAA*

            Oh I see you explained this below as I was posting. It does look like they should pay out the full 35 hours.

    2. KR*

      I’m pretty sure they have to follow Mass laws because the work is taking place in Mass, but someone who is more qualified might have a better answer.

    3. Ann Cognito*

      CA is also a “pay-out accrued vacation when you leave” state, and I know that if an employee is based in CA they’re considered a CA employee no matter where the company is headquartered, and has to be treated as such.

      My husband was working a few years ago in CA, but the company’s headquarters was on the East coast, and they followed their state law rather than CA law a number of times. He would come home to me and ask me about it (I work in HR), and I would tell him they can’t do that, so he’d make a call and politely tell them that since he was based in CA, they had to do it this way. They would comply, no problem, but it happened more than once!

    4. Adam V*

      Alison has said many times that workers in California, even if the company is based elsewhere, need to be treated under California law. So I’m fairly certain the same would apply to you in Massachusetts.

    5. Liana*

      In this case, MA law trumps PA law – it’s based on where the employee is located, not the company headquarters. Enjoy your vacation payout!

    6. Is it spring yet?*

      While I agree with the others that Mass law should control all you say is that Mass requires vacation payout. The law could allow for less than 100%.

      1. Lauren*

        Employers who choose to provide paid vacation to their employees must treat those payments like any other wages under M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148. Employees must be paid for all earned vacation upon termination of employment. Withholding vacation payments is the equivalent of withholding wages and, as such, is illegal.

    7. alter_ego*

      I think it the question aam got last week about working remotely in another state, one of the big issues that came up was that you have to follow the laws of the state that you’re working in, not the state that the company is headquartered in. Otherwise, people working for European companies would get all kinds of crazy vacation benefits we don’t get here.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        And, otherwise, American corporations who offshore work to Asia to get cheap labor couldn’t get cheap labor. The headquarters location doesn’t matter.

    8. Kenzie*

      I work in PA and received my full vacation payout when I left my last job. This could just be your company not understanding the laws.

      1. Rebecca*

        I live and work in PA too. At my company, PTO is sick time, and does not get paid out if you resign, but your accrued vacation does – 100%. I wonder, though, since companies aren’t required to provide vacation or sick time at all here, if their company policy is 50% of what accrued?

    9. Meg Murry*

      Do you accrue vacation or is it given to you in a block at the beginning of the year? The 50% could be pro-rating since it’s only April now.

      1. Lauren*

        I get 144 hours (18 days) for the year. I can use it during the whole first month if I want to, but if going by earned (diff from accrual for Mass law) it breaks down to:

        Used 13 hours
        Earned through April = 48 hours
        That means I have 35 hours, but HR is only paying me 27.

    10. Pwyll*

      Massachusetts’ vacation and sick time payout laws are relatively new (specifically the sick time one) and are wicked complicated based on accrual schedules and such. It’s really going to depend on how the PA company’s sick and vacation policy is written (if they have a written policy) to determine how the accrual works.

      You may want to contact the Department of Labor Standards’ Wage and Hour Hotline. You’ll generally get a law student under the supervision of the general counsel, but s/he can explain to you more specifically how the accrual laws work. They can’t give you personalized legal advice, but I’ve found them helpful in summarizing how accrual payouts need to be structured. 617-626-6952. Just note that they’re not the enforcement agency in Massachusetts, they only interpret the statutes. If you need to make a complaint, you’d do that with the Attorney General’s office.

    11. Student*

      It’s not perfect, but one good way to think of the jurisdiction of things like this is to think about where you pay income taxes. You pay income taxes to the state where you do the work – Massachusetts in this case. That’s the state with applicable employment laws. You don’t pay income tax to PA because you aren’t subject to their rules.

      Taxes are complicated, so this doesn’t follow perfectly, but if you have to look up the relevant tax laws for a state to figure out how it’s handled then you should probably also consider the employment laws for that state.

  16. T3k*

    Just one more week to go and I won’t have to deal with these people anymore! I gave my boss just over a month’s notice and she only just posted the job opening earlier this week. I hope she realizes I don’t plan to drive all this way after my last day to train someone, so she better find someone so they can come in next week so I can show them what to do.

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      Congrats! She’s better figure it out, because it’s not on you once you’re gone.

    2. Over Development*

      My boss didn’t. I gave her the heads up I was looking then two weeks later the note that I had found a new job with four weeks notice.

      I am now three weeks into my new job and they still haven’t found someone. Instead she is relying on a temp and a part-time consultant…all while BLOWING UP my phone via text.

      1. T3k*

        Oh god. The sad part is, I can see my boss doing something very similar with my phone after my last day so I’ve devised an idea where, if she does call for help after my last day, I’ll tell her I’m now a freelancer and will therefore bump my rate up 3x what she pays me now (and that meets the average amount for a contractor rate, that’s how little she pays me).

        1. Rubyrose*

          Since you have direct experience in what she needs, I think you are more valuable than the average contractor. Make that 4x!

  17. Christy*

    I got to meet my bosses and my coworkers for the first time last week! It was awesome. Every remote team should do its best to get together and meet.

    And I’m not the only young one! My boss is only six years older than I am and I have a peer only four years older! It was a very fun trip. And I really feel like my boss has my back, which was really great.

  18. Golden Yeti*

    Hi, all. Quick update:

    I got a raise. Not my top number amazing raise, but one that’s enough to let me know the company is trying, and I’m okay with that. Thank you for the well wishes last week.

    I also got a title change. Not a promotion (same duties), but a change of title to something a little more accurate to what I actually do. This has me wondering now: should I just change my current job title on my resume, or treat it like a promotion even though it isn’t?


    1. LanLinesareLosers*

      Did you have the same supervisor? If so I would have the entire job as one role – since your duties did not change.

      1. Golden Yeti*

        Yep–everything is exactly the same, just with a more impressive/comprehensive title. :)

    2. Bowserkitty*

      That happened to me. The new title had a “Senior” in it so I definitely changed it on my resume and made a note about “title change from BLANK to BLANK in Month/Year” in the notes.

      I added a new space on my resume for it but not sure if I should have?

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I would list it as:

      New Title (start date-present)
      Old Title (start date-end date)
      – Job duties
      – Job duties

      No need to make a whole separate section for it, but I wouldn’t list the entire employment under the new title, since that would be misleading.

  19. Payrollcompanyrec?*

    Anyone have a payroll company that they recommend? We’re in the US, in Georgia, if that helps.

    We’ve thought about QuickBooks Payroll, but need the ability to have preprinted signatures on checks, which they don’t offer. (and not all of our employees are on DD, which is a whole different issue!)

    We’ve used Paychex in the past which was a rotating cast of payroll reps, and have also used PayPro. Anyone else that anyone would recommend?

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        I remember hearing bad things about ADP, but honestly I like their RUN system. I used it to run payroll at my last job.

        My current job uses Namely, and they really like it, but it’s a larger system than just payroll so it might be more than you need. But look into it!

      2. Meg Murry*

        I’ve worked multiple places that used ADP and I liked it as an employee (although I always used it in conjunction with direct deposit, not paper checks). No experience with it from the payroll side though.

        Do you have employees grandfathered in to not require direct deposit or similar? I haven’t worked anywhere in the last 10-15 years that didn’t require direct deposit for all new employees.

        1. LBK*

          Yes, I like ADP from the employee side. Not sure if that trumps concerns from the payroll side but maybe worth considering.

        2. Meg Murry*

          Oh, based on what others are saying I am remembering that at most of those places the PTO numbers on the ADP paystubs were often not correct – but I think that was 75% due to the way the company handled PTO and whether the data was entered correctly before the deadline, and 25% due to them just not bothering and handling PTO as a separate system outside of the paycheck. I’m pretty sure they had made it part of the training that go over with everyone that the PTO on the paycheck wasn’t necessarily correct and you had to go through your manager/HR to get the correct PTO balances.

    1. Lillian McGee*

      We do the full PEO with Insperity, which has a really amazing payroll team. They are expensive though, and I am not sure if they do payroll a la carte.

    2. S0phieChotek*

      This is jut my experience at my company, and I’ve only worked at the company for less than a year, but the company I work for uses Paychex, Inc. and so far they’ve not taken my taxes out correctly (though I noticed it right away and the peron in the appropriate department got it fixed for the next round) and just last week we got an email from HR saying Paychex had miscalculated all our PTO so we needed to mentally subtract X hrs. (Our HR has to keep a separate file of PTO, apparently, because Paychex makes enough mistakes with PTO that their number is not reliable. Which seems odd because we all get X, Y, or Z hours per pay period each time.)

      The other company I pick up hours from used ADP and they’ve never made a mistake (that I’ve experienced); and I find their online portal easy enough to log on to see hours, download forms, etc. (The one time I did not get paid correctly from ADP was my manager’s fault when she went into eh computer to edit punch-in/punch-outs and accidentally deleted my entire day.)

      Just my experiences.

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

      I interviewed at PayrollMaxx. They’re small, seemed like nice people. Didn’t hire me, so there is that… ;)

    4. In the Middle of a Payroll Change*

      OMFG, never go back to Paychex. They are the literal worst! I could write a rant to put the rest of the rant thread to shame about these people!

      We’re switching to Infinisource right now, so I can’t say for sure, but so far they’ve been great. The product looks amazing and way more user-friendly and modern. Paychex and ADP both have systems that they built years ago that just don’t work well with the way businesses run today.

    5. LQ*

      We used Paychex in my last job and it was the rotating cast for a while and then they screwed up 2 of our payrolls in a row. After that everything was great, and we had a great long term senior type person managing our account. But the whole, they screwed up 2 our of payrolls in a row, it was a HUGE problem, and there were only 2 of us working there at the time but it was a giant problem. If you’d still been with them I’d have said push to get a much more senior person on your account, but don’t return.

    6. Jadelyn*

      I would caution against Ultimate Software/UltiPro, too – our senior executive team has basically forced us to keep on with our transition to Ulti because they claim our issues are unusual according to reviews and maybe our implementation was poorly planned (which there’s some credence to because our initial account manager got fired halfway through), but tbh they’ve screwed up so much stuff so many times we’re all super sick of them and would rather go crawling back to ADP.

      1. lucyskybiscuits*

        I am surprized to see this about UltiPro. We just finished our implementation about 9 months ago and it has been great. All the Ulti staff were happy (seriously really happy people) and helpful and we had just come off an terrible accounting system implementation. I will say that the outside “expert” consultant that was hired to help left a lot to be desired.

    7. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      ADP is my recommendation. I’ve used them at multiple jobs and have never had issues with them in terms of the payroll side or the employee side.

      And yay, I’m in Georgia too!

      1. Observer*

        Unless something significant has changed, I would not touch them with a 10 foot pole.

        We used to use them and they NEVER contacted us about updates – the only time we ever heard about updates was when we had an issue and they told us that we needed to upgrade to do whatever. They are the ONLY company I have ever dealt with that acted this way.

        Then Sandy hit and our site was wiped out. Fortunately, we had good off-site backups and were able to arrange to get all of our stuff on hosted servers within days. However, it was then that we discovered that out ADP software was YEARS out of date, and that it wouldn’t work on the servers we had arranged. Ok, we’re desperate, we’ll pay whatever it takes, so we place the order – and we also pay (by credit card) for their assistance to do the installation. But, we can’t just get to it, because they don’t have the software available for download! OK, we’ll pay for overnight shipping. Fortunately, I had to call them back for something because it was only then that we discovered that they have NOT marked the CD for shipping that day (and no indication of when it would be shipped)!!! So, we got that taken care of, but really!? For a payroll company to not understand that payroll processing is HUGELY time sensitive it just jaw dropping.

        Then they refused to help us install the software. Our server was not “approved”. It was baloney, and fortunately we were able to call them on their baloney (they claimed technical issues – that didn’t exist) and we finally got it up and running. When I told our controller what had happened, that was the final push to move to a different payroll processor.

        They are not great, and I would not be sad to find a better processor, but I can’t imagine them pulling this stuff. The best part is that we did consider going back to ADP. We got a new rep who said all the right things, and they showed us the current on line version which was nice and also alleviates the issue of upgrades. So, our controller decided to test their system. That requires a dummy account, which was set up. After some testing she decided that it was not a good time to make the move and informed ADP that we’re not moving ahead – and please cancel the dummy account. It didn’t quite work out that way. It took several months – during which ADP started billing us, to get it straightened out.

    8. Pwyll*

      I’d try to find a local company, honestly. Found ADP to just be fine. Paychex was a nightmare, though. When I worked for a non-profit, we found out that they hadn’t remitted our payroll taxes to the government. When we called them on it, they responded “You’re tax exempt.” It was a nightmare to correct a year’s worth of payroll. And they were completely unapologetic about the whole thing.

      In case you’re curious, working for a non-profit does not make YOU tax exempt. Still baffling 10 years later.

      1. Observer*

        How did it take a year to find this out? If they weren’t taking the deductions of the paychecks, then it should have showed up immediately, and you should have caught it right away.

        On the other hand, if they WERE taking the deductions and just not remitting them, that’s flat out fraud.

    9. ILurkALot*

      I worked at Paychex for two+ years. Look, the problem with the Paychex and ADPs of the world is that they are volume based businesses and only know as much as you tell them. This often leads to several mistakes either because of questions they didn’t think to ask or information you didn’t think to provide.
      When I started there in 2012, they used to train you for two weeks on how to do payroll. That’s what you got, two weeks. If you live/work somewhere where there are locals (Ohio, PA), or unique payroll taxes (WA Worker’s Comp), you get no training on it from corporate. They don’t care, it’s not a big enough piece of the pie to matter.
      Honestly, I would suggest trying someone local. Many CPAs will work with you and a 3rd party payroll provider (like Paychex, ADP) to ensure that your payroll is set up correctly and continues to be processed correctly. Who helps you file your business returns/personal returns? I’d start with them.

      As far as big payroll companies, maybe give Paylocity a shot. But with all of them the most important thing is to make sure you are asking all the questions, READ YOUR REPORTS, and verify everything (independently if possible).

    10. Allison Mary*

      I don’t know how big your company is, but for smaller businesses, OnPay is great.

      I used to do volunteer bookkeeping for a very small nonprofit (only two actual employees), and before I came along, their previous bookkeeper had been doing payroll manually in a spreadsheet. I was pretty opposed to that, and luckily I got them to sign up with OnPay. I don’t do their bookkeeping anymore, but I still run their payroll through OnPay twice a month. It’s affordable and easy to use, and they’re very accessible by chat and phone for questions.

  20. Crash Kart*

    At least a few times a week, my supervisor holds surprise random checks of our workspace to see if we are currently doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We are told to freeze and stand up, while she checks our computer screen for web browsing and web history, and also looks at all of our outgoing calls. Any sign that you are doing anything but work, and you get berated in front of everyone. How do I deal with this? It’s making me ill.

    1. NoProfitNoProblem*

      Wow. That’s totally unreasonable.

      Is there any way you could approach this with your supervisor using a “this is interfering somewhat with our work productivity, would you consider cutting back” angle?

    2. Tsalmoth*

      Wow. Simply put, your boss is terrible. Unless you think he’ll be moving on soon, you REALLY want to get out of there.

    3. ZSD*

      Does it help you deal with it to at least have reassurance that this is insane? This is insane.
      Is your supervisor worried about her own job, perhaps? That doesn’t excuse her behavior, but I once had a supervisor who was always worried that she would be fired (and was, in fact, fired after I left), and she did a lot of inappropriate micromanaging, partly as a result of her insecurity.
      If that isn’t the reason, why is she doing this?
      I was going to say that you could perhaps have a discussion with her about why this is inappropriate, but then I realized that she’d probably just hear your words as, “I want to be on Facebook all day,” and she’d just police you more closely.

    4. Clever Name*

      That’s crazy. Your boss is unreasonable, and unless there are very compelling reasons for working there (like you make 6 figures, get 2 months of vacation, have amazing health benefits, can walk to work in 5 minutes, and they give free massages and puppies) I’d start a job search.

    5. Pontoon Pirate*

      That’s perfectly ridiculous. I’m sorry to say–because I know from current experience how much of an effort this is and how much is can suck–but you deal with it by finding a different job.

    6. Ms. Didymus*

      How do you deal with this?

      By finding a new job. This belies a shocking lack of trust (and weirdly paternal behavior pattern) in you and it is not something I would personally put up with if I could find other employment.

      This is just….wow.

    7. ACA*

      WTF? That is insane. I hope you’re either able to get a new supervisor or a new job soon. Good luck!

    8. LanLinesareLosers*

      Also you can set up your internet browser to auto-delete on exit. Just saying. The freeze with your hands up thing is just so … so like you are prisoner. That part alone is disgusting enough to make me leave.

    9. T3k*

      Heh, wouldn’t work if my boss did that. I have my browser set to delete all web history/cookies, when I close it. If she was smarter, she’d just install one of those web trackers that some employers are fond of instead of physically checking each computer.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Seriously! The worst part is how demeaning and disrespectful this is, but what’s really ridiculous is that this is TOTALLY the wrong way to improve productivity.

        The best option is to simply monitor productivity and address that without micromanaging, of course. But if someone feels the need for limiting calls and web surfing, there are much better technical solutions. You could just have firewall rules that limit the websites that people can visit to those necessary for work, or spot-check individual’s internet usage remotely. This way is ridiculous…there are plenty of apps that have panic or supervisor keys, single keystrokes that hide them, or you could just do what you said and use an incognito window and keep your fingers on Ctrl-Q.

    10. Ann Cognito*

      That’s crazy! No wonder you’re feeling ill – it’s not normal behavior that he’s subjecting you to. Have you and/or your colleagues brought it to anyone’s attention? If not, maybe you could speak up as a group to him directly, or if you’re too nervous of doing that, to his boss?

    11. Manager thoughts*

      Well, if you don’t want to feel ill about it and you don’t want to or can’t quit, another option is to see it as humorous. Whenever it happens, consider that this is your Monty Python moment. You might even hang a picture of John Cleese in your work space to remind you that when something is this absurd, perhaps all you can do is act like you are in a skit.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Deal with it by telling yourself that this is a person who has absolutely NO confidence in their ability to manage people. She’s a duck out of water. She has no clue how to do her job. She uses management rules from the Stone Age.

      Does anyone get fired or do people just get screamed at? If they just get screamed at then tell yourself that it’s all show and nothing else.

      And start or beef up your job search.

    13. Jadelyn*

      That is, frankly, harassment. Not in the legal sense, unfortunately (since it’s not based on a protected class) but if you work somewhere like California which now includes bullying in the list of things your company can get in trouble for allowing, there might be something to pursue there. Out of curiosity, does your manager’s manager know she does this?

    14. Florida*

      As everyone else mentioned, this is crazy, but that doesn’t help you deal with it. The way I would deal with it would be with humor. When the boss came in, I would hold my hands out like a TSA search and say something like, “At least our office doesn’t have the full-body x-ray machines yet.” Or maybe put your hands on the wall like a police frisk, “I never thought my work as a (job title here) would require this many searches.” I would use humor to point out the absurdity of it.
      Is this the BEST way to handle it? I don’t know. It’s just what I would do. I have the type of personality where I can usually get away with dorky humorous stuff. It also depends on the personality of your boss as to whether or not this would work.
      I’m sorry you have to deal with this type of environment. I’m sure your boss thinks this makes people more productive, but I would bet money that it makes people more resentful and in turn, less productive.

    15. Turtle Candle*

      WOW. I found this ridiculous when I was in seventh grade (mostly because it was like, you KNOW which kids are messing around when they should be working; don’t humiliate all of us just because you can and because it seems somehow ‘fairer’ than just talking to the messer-arounders). As an adult, yiiiiiiikes.

    16. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Ew. So she’s basically telling you that she doesn’t trust you. You could try saying “can you help me understand why these checks are necessary?” (or something to that effect) to see if it helps her realize why it’s not. But that’s poor management on her part, in my opinion.

    17. Brett*

      Totally unreasonable.
      All of those things can be easily audited for misuse without her spot checks.
      If you really are not supposed to be doing anything other than work, then IT should be filtering websites and outgoing calls instead of using this shaming system.

    18. Joanna*

      It seems very unlikely that this is about checking for unauthorised activity. They could easily look at your web history or phone records outside of work hours or directly from the server without interrupting you. This seems to me to be an intimidation tactic designed to make people paranoid.

    19. Observer*

      As others have mentioned, this should not be necessary, even if she had some reason to think something was going on. Which makes me wonder if she’s on the same page as her supervisor(s) / HR/ IT or anyone else up the command chain.

      Is there any way you can raise this with someone above her or HR?

  21. LanLinesareLosers*

    My company has weird titles and I was promoted to a system administrator role. There was a huge salary fiasco and they actually cut my pay pretty significantly after I accepted.

    Now I see they have posted another role with my title, except they are putting in parenthesis next to it (System Analyst).

    Does anyone have advice on how I advertise my role on my resume? Does it need to be consistent with how they are advertising the role in the job ad? Even though it was advertised as a system administrator when I applied?

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      I know people who include a more industry recognized titles in parentheses on their resume after their official title.

      If you company has odd titles, including the more recognized title too makes sense.

    2. bluesboy*

      Personally I would stick with what it said when you applied. Unless they tell you otherwise, that’s presumably what HR has for you, so if someone at a potental future employer reaches out to them you know the titles will match.

      Also some people overreach with job titles ‘I do more or less the same as Debbie and she’s ‘Senior’ so I must be Senior too…’ without considering all the other things that poor Debbie has to deal with. Stick with what you applied for and you can never be accused of trying to stretch it.

      Of course this doesn’t help those poor people who get 3 promotions without ever actually getting a title change so they’re managing 20 people and a million dollars but are still technically Assistant Junior Trainee. But it doesn’t sound like your situation.

      Of course, you could always ask? If you’re worried it’ll sound like you’re looking for a new job you could just say you’re thinking of getting some business cards printed/need your official title for some kind of insurance documentation or suchlike.

      The title on my contract is sooooo different from what I do…but I live in a country where nobody EVER checks references so it really isn’t an issue…

    3. SAHM*

      I think Allison has addressed this before, you put your current title and then list your duties, all the sys admin computer fun stuff you do, or I think (and I believe I could be wrong) you list your current title and in parenthesis put (Mac Systems Admin) or what-have-you.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      I have some weirdo titles, so I just try to make it really clear in the text under the official title, so if they call HR, my resume aligns with their records. So it says:
      Teapot Administrator (dates)
      Managed teapot supply chain for blah blah blah

    5. LanLinesareLosers*

      I appreciate all the replys, but I clearly did not do a good job stating my question.

      I am in the WackyTitle role. When it was sold to me it was sold as “System Administrator.” The recently posted a new job for WackyTitle in a different group. Same job description. However they now have posted it as WackyTitle (System Analyst).

      I’m worried that my resume, which says WackyTitle (System Administrator) will look like a stretch if they search my company and see the open WackyTitle (System Analyst) position. Is this something I should worry about?

      1. Jules the First*

        Having held a job where my actual title was ‘Resident Genius’, I hear you on the wacky titles! Is your job description closer to a system analyst or a system administrator? If the job overlaps both, I would use “WackyTitle (System Administrator/Analyst)” and then explain, if questioned, that WackyTitle encompassed both roles at WeirdCorp.

        1. LanLinesareLosers*

          Well I don’t manage the SQL or DB maintenance since a 3rd party does all of that for us (very common in my industry). However I am the internal “owner” of the system. I’m responsible for insuring it is compliance with our regs, that there are process controls in place to insure adequate security around accounts, and I manage the 3rd party relationship as well as act as the liason for our system to all departments. If something breaks inside our system (think configuration of an interface) that the 3rd party does not own I role out of bed on Saturday morning and fix it with guidance from our 3rd party system owner.

          1. SAHM*

            That sounds more System Administrator role rather than System Analyst. I have only fringe knowledge as hubby is/was the Sys Admin (before they bumped him to Manager) and it sounds very much what he did/what his team does now. Brb

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

    I’m asking this for my husband. He was on a 3 person team that’s part of IT, DH, Fergus (also on his level), and Jamie, their boss. Fergus used to be in a different department but left it because of one guy he didn’t like, Dougal. Dougal got fired last week and they asked Fergus if he wanted to move back, which he did. Then on Friday afternoon, Jamie put in his two week notice. On Monday HR told Jamie that he didn’t need to finish out his two weeks and he’s now gone. So DH went from a 3 person department to a 1 person department. He plans to apply for Jamie’s old role, as he says if he doesn’t, he’ll end up training that person anyway. Right now DH is hourly and the manager role would be salaried. Assuming he gets it, how much of a salary bump should he try to negotiate for? We’re in a small Midwestern city, not on the coasts, but they do have a hard time filling IT roles. On Glassdoor I’m seeing salaries almost twice what he makes now but I doubt that he’ll get that much of a bump. He does have several years of experience, but only an A.A.S. degree, if that matters. Regardless of how his role shakes out, the other two positions would be back filled eventually anyway.

    1. themmases*

      I would negotiate based on the market rate for the position regardless of what he makes now. The pay he earned in a different, lower level job is not really relevant to what a different role is worth. I can see why it will feel awkward since the company would know what a big bump it is for your husband, but that doesn’t change what the work is worth. Being a known quantity who already knows the work and the department is worth more money, not less– especially in an areas like IT where institutional knowledge can be very important.

      If he can, your husband should try to find out what the band is for that job within his own company. Unless a specific degree is required for the job, he should use experience to decide how high up in the band to ask. He should be able to just ask if he gets to that stage. If his company assigns job grades with pay bands, he could also use Glassdoor to look at not only that specific job, but the pay reported by employees whose jobs are listed in the same band. (My old company always put the band, a letter of the alphabet, on job ads even though it meant nothing to outsiders).

    2. Zahra*

      Is your husband in contact with Jamie? Could he say, “I’m thinking of applying to your old role. Glassdoor says average pay in the region is X$. Does that seem reasonable to you, regardless of how much of a bump it would be from my current salary? Is there anything in the total compensation that I should consider asking as well? (More PTO, more telecommuting opportunities, etc.)” Note that he’s not asking what Jamie was earning, just his opinion on a fair compensation for the position. Said fair compensation, considering your husband’s experience, may be lower than Jamie’s or similar.

    3. Peggy*

      Make sure the new salary at least covers whatever extra he was making with overtime; the promotion shouldn’t be a pay cut.

    4. SAHM*

      +1 on the overtime/paycut that Peggy mentions. Definitely negotiate for the industry standard, unless you’re willing to get the job just for the title and in a year or so apply to other companies so you can have the appropriate salary for the position. Last Company gave Hubby a promotion in name only, no raise (after 7 years of working his way from desktop support to sys admin) , within a year he had jumped ship and made 2x as much. But he didn’t want to work for Last Company much more anyway, they were a terrible company. We’re much happier with New Job.

  23. AnonForThis*

    So I read linked in another post and whoa. Mind blown. This could have been based on a fly on the wall account of my office. It’s given me the kick I need to make a formal plan to get out, not least because it listed pretty much every reason I didn’t get out years ago!

    My particular difficulty is that I am a good friend of my boss outside of work. His “sick system” behaviour exists in our friendship as well. This makes everything ten times more fraught.

    Has anyone here escaped a sick system with their sanity intact? Any tips as to how to do it? I gather this is going to be a no-contact situation when I make it out, with the friend as well as the colleague, and I’m somewhat terrified of the prospect…

    1. neverjaunty*

      Understand that it’s going to be difficult. You’re ripping off the band-aid here and that will hurt, but it’s worse if you don’t do it.

      Understand that you are going to have regrets. There will be lots and LOTS of times where you think ‘maybe this is a mistake’ or ‘Fergus isn’t so bad, really’ or feel like maybe you’re betraying your friend and your co-workers.

      Also recommend reading Captain Awkward, which has fantastic scripts on dealing with and extricating yourself from toxic people.

      1. AnonForThis*

        If it helps, Fergus is the only one of my co workers I care for so I have no qualms about abandoning them! I’m not a big fan of Captain Awkward, even though my Office is Full of Evil Bees. I mean essentially I have a Darth Vader boss but my line of “this is the price of admission is very different from hers. Partly because I can be a Darth Vader too.

        Right now I feel like I’m Alan Shore and I’m about to tell Denny Crane we can’t be friends anymore.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Even so, sick systems are good at messing up your sense of what’s correct and what your feelings are – otherwise nobody would stay in them. It’s REALLY common for people who wouldn’t piss on Wakeen if he were on fire to do an emotional 180 later and think ‘well, maybe he wasn’t so bad’.

          But if that doesn’t happen (and yay if it doesn’t!), then just run over that bridge as fast as you can before you blow it up behind you.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Even in dysfunctional families the victims can become the abusers. And part of the reason is because in order to survive we have to mimic what THEY (the abusers) are doing.

          As part of your escape plan, decide to read things that are either positive or instructive. Yeah, I am gonna say keep reading AAM because it’s a good idea. Boundaries books would be great for this purpose also, these books would help you take back your sense of right and wrong. You still have it by the way, I hope you realize that and when you get out that sense will come flooding back to you.

          When I was at my “downest” I read a lot of Chicken Soup books. I was desperate to find stories of people actually being kind to one another.

          And of course you can talk about it here on this open forum if that is helpful.

          As you break the tie line/strings, not everything that happens next will be bad. Please hang on to this thought. Wouldn’t it be nice to get up in the morning feeling like you got some rest? Hey, it’d probably be great to actually have an appetite for dinner too right? Stuff like this that has been gone from your life will start coming back.

          Life has an ebb and flow. When we get rid of toxic people from our lives some how doors open and we suddenly meet new and interesting people. This will happen to you, too. Trust the give and take of life.

          1. AnonForThis*

            Great great advice. I come from a dysfunctional family and part of why it took so long to get to this point. Boundaries? What are those? Ha!

    2. Anonymously Yours*

      Yep. No contact worked for me. Think through what that means to you and prepare yourself for it. I could afford to torch my bridges, so I did – no going back. Develop friendships outside now, if you can, it sucks to go through it alone – but you can do that, too, if you have to. Read that link as often as you need to, to remember why you’re doing it. When you do it, there will be a void in your time and your social circle – think about how you’re going to fill that. Hobbies are good. If you have access to therapy, it’s really helpful – and don’t just assume you can’t afford it or that it’s a big step you don’t need…it’s just talking to someone who is really good at listening, and a few sessions are a lot better than nothing. My change ultimately involved a move to another state – not necessary, but I found that it felt more normal to feel torn out by the roots and a little lost when I was in a new setting and had to find new things to do and new friends no matter what.

    3. themmases*

      Yes– just start taking steps, any steps. You may be genuinely surprised by how much easier and faster it is than you might have thought.

      When you reach out to normal people in normal situations, the normalcy and seemingly easy appreciation can be exciting enough to keep you going on to the next step and the next. I moved up my grad school plans by a couple of years when my old job finally crossed the line and the process was very validating– I’d assumed I wouldn’t be that competitive because I wasn’t being rewarded where I was. I found out pretty quickly that my skills that were totally discounted and taken advantage of at my job distinguished me to others and that these other places wanted me. It was so motivating!

      Once you start getting exposed to appreciation and interest from the outside, it becomes a lot easier to see how insulting your current treatment is.

      I had to keep up occasional contact with that boss and I just was nice to her face but without ever expressing interest or inviting further contact after whatever conversation. I have to see her next month at a work event most likely. She likes to say she hopes I’ll come back or maybe I could consult. I thank her like she paid me any other compliment and then never get in touch. Personally I would keep the friend boss happy until finding a new job, then arrange to grow apart.

      1. themmases*

        Oooh and I forgot to add– start getting any other source of engagement and validation outside your work. Pick back up any hobbies you’ve let go (especially creative hobbies and exercise, they are very mentally healthy). Find professional development that is just for you and doesn’t necessarily benefit your employer.

        For example I actually found my old job very interesting (medical research and research ethics). But I resolved to stop giving them my best stuff anymore for them to just waste or ignore. I started a blog where I wrote about those topics instead, many of which did not relate directly to our work– they developed me and only me. I used a post from that blog as a writing sample that got me called back for my next job in less than a day after I submitted it. :)

        1. AnonForThis*

          Hobbies are not a problem! I play sport at a high level and I truly love my team. One of my first warning signs about this place was that I sometimes I had to skip training in order to work.

    4. TootsNYC*

      is there a reason you want to be “good” friends with someone who uses the “sick system” approach (whether instinctive or well thought out) in your FRIENDSHIP?

      It would be one thing if he acted a bit differently outside work; or if you weren’t that good of friends.

      But if he gets so upset that you lose him as a friend–is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

      1. AnonForThis*

        I enjoy his company a lot. If he was a loony tunes friend who was prone to unpredictable outbursts of craziness or disappearing acts, it wouldn’t overly bother me – I’m prone to those behaviors myself. But there was an Inciting Incident recently which followed up by that article, has made me realise the continued work relationship is probably impossible.

        If the same thing had happened with a regular friend, I’d flip the bird, we wouldn’t talk for a month, and then we’d be fine. Can’t really happen like that at work though…

    5. Observer*

      If this behavior is also in your friendship, it means that you really need to end that, too.

  24. Bowserkitty*

    One of the newer admins here has, over the half year I’ve been here, been forwarding me solicitation. The first time she sprung them to me in person at my desk. (Two hotel salespeople looking to get our business for conferences.) Just today I was cold-forwarded a call from somebody peddling a free magazine subscription renewal for my boss, and I had no idea what it was about being new, and they wouldn’t give me any more details. When I was asked for the first letter of the place I was born, I shut it down and said “you don’t need that” and refused to talk to them more. One of my other coworkers suggested I bring it up to the admin’s boss because they shouldn’t be transferring on anything like that.

    This woman has already had bad run-ins with her boss and I’m not sure I want to get her in trouble but at the same time I do NOT want to keep getting these things. I’m probably going to talk to her boss soon but am I doing the right thing? I just plan on saying “hey, does Liv Moore know we shouldn’t even be entertaining these things?”


    1. Delyssia*

      Have you tried talking to the admin directly first? If not, I’d recommend that as the first step.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        Clearly I am not caffeinated enough because I didn’t even consider that. Thanks. :) If she gives me any pushback should I then speak to her boss? This woman only has four months of seniority on me so I worry if she tries to assert that.

        1. Delyssia*

          If the admin pushes back, or if she agrees at the time but continues to forward you sales calls, then I think it’s absolutely fine to bring it up to her boss at that point.

      2. Ama*

        Yeah, I’d just go talk to her. Possible reasons that she could be doing this (things I’ve encountered with other new admins):
        -She doesn’t think she has the authority to decide whether a call is legit
        -She thinks you are the person who is supposed to handle these calls/the last person in your position wanted all solicitation calls forwarded
        -She’s having trouble telling the difference between a legit call and a sales call
        -She has a hard time telling people no

        The first two can be pretty easily cleared up with a quick conversation. The second two may require a little more coaching, and at that point you may need to loop her boss in if it seems like she needs more help than you can/should provide.

        1. Bowserkitty*

          I think more than likely it may be one of the first two, so thank you for this perspective! :) I love this blog. I would have gone straight to her manager so I’m glad I asked.

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Sales people can be sneaky and sometimes they can make it sound like they know you. For example when I was an receptionist, I had one sales guy who said “Can I speak to (boss’ first name)?” and when I asked who was calling they told me it was a friend of my boss’s from her previous job – and they knew the name of her former employer. I was still fairly new (but probably still should have known better!) and I put the call through. They have their sneaky was! So yes, just talk to the admin first and let her know. If things don’t get resolved then sure, you can always speak to her boss.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t know if this person is new to the world of work or not. When I was new someone had to tell me to take a name and number and message. Then tell the caller,”If the boss is interested she will call you back.”

      This is how to get the idea of who is calling and what they want, I was told. Then my mentor went on to say there are certain calls we never respond to and gave examples.

      Yes, I had to be told this, it was not immediately apparent to me. Once it was explained, that was the end of it. I never did it again.

  25. Anon Today*

    I have an upcoming performance review. For the last year, I’ve been actively job searching to get out for a variety of reasons. I don’t plan on bringing this up, but I also don’t plan on asking for a raise when I could be leaving within a few weeks (or it could be a few years at this rate, who knows — fingers crossed). Will it raise red flags if I don’t ask about a raise?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I don’t know, but if you have no firm plans to leave, why not ask about a raise?

      Every performance review I’ve been a part of, though, raises have been brought up by my manager and not me.

      1. Anon Today*

        Interesting. I just feel so…dishonest about it? I’d feel uncomfortable accepting it when I’ve been so eager to get out. Like, it would be a show of bad faith. I’m too honest a person (especially when it comes to guilt/myself — it’s a problem; I’m working on it). Plus, I’m a little concerned it will make accepting a lower-paying position more difficult for me, especially when I’m desperate to leave but I live in one of the more expensive areas in the country and student loans will be due soon and a little more money would be so nice.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          I feel you, I do. But you’ve earned the raise with the work you’ve done, right? And you might be there a while yet. If you’re worried about getting used to the extra money, set up an automatic transfer of the “excess” into a savings account – or better yet, if you’re on direct deposit, have payroll split your check for you.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Personally I would not feel bad about getting a raise — you don’t know how long your job search will take, and there are ways to avoid talking about salary for a new job, or just flat out saying you’re willing to take a pay cut if you truly are. (Personally, I also wouldn’t be looking for a paycut, especially if you’ll be struggling to pay your student loans on your current income, but I understand that desperate times call for desperate measures?) If you deserve to be paid more where you are, you deserve it, regardless of how much longer you’ll be there.

    2. S0phieChotek*

      I’m pretty new to the corporate/business world, but if it’s traditional to ask for a raise and you think your work deserves it, I would ask.

      A higher salary would put you in a better place to negotiate for salary for your next job, and plus you would make more money as you continue to look.

      Getting a new job takes time and effort and as long as you do well in your current job, I don’t see why you can’t get paid for it. Unless you actually have a job offer in hand, I would ask — job searches can take longer than anticipated and having a higher salary (if asked about previous salary) is good too.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      You never know how long a job search will take. Ask for the raise if you’ve earned it. Don’t feel bad if you get a new job after you get the raise.

      1. justsomeone*

        I have been putting off scheduling my annual review for a similar reason, and this was the push I needed to actually schedule it. So what if I get an offer next week? I can at least get a couple of weeks at a higher pay from my current employer. I’ve only managed to take money out of my own pocket at this point.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          OMG, I am totally kicking myself right now. Today is my last day at my current job. I gave my notice the same day I was supposed to get my (way overdue) annual review, and the review never happened – I didn’t care because I didn’t really want to know how much I was leaving on the table by taking the new job. But I just realized that I may have just opted out of MONTHS of retroactive pay.

    4. Anon Today*

      Thanks, all. I hadn’t considered these perspectives and am feeling a lot less guilty about the prospect of it now — of course, it may come to nothing (though, frankly, I’d be a bit surprised if it wasn’t offered given the feedback I’ve received). I appreciate it!

      1. Shell*

        So it looks like others have convinced you, but I’ll add my own story.

        At my previous job, I had my yearly review, we talked about my increased duties, and I asked for a raise (and they granted it after talking it over). About a month later, I’d handed in my resignation as my current job made me an offer (due to networking connections, basically everything to do with my current job’s offer happened over the Christmas holidays so it came as a surprise to me too). I felt bad about it, but I had no idea I would even interview or get an offer so quickly after the raise, and if I were to be doing my previous job with the expanded duties I’d absolutely want that raise.

        You can’t predict the future, and if your current bosses are reasonable I think they’d understand that sometimes things happen out of nowhere. Good luck!

  26. Elsa*

    How should I negotiate salary for a promotional move from c-suite exec support (one principal plus ad-hoc general office admin support to a staff of 18) to CEO exec support (1 principal, no staff support)? The varying factors are:
    1. new organization (so new benefits structure and pricing related to benefits)
    2. may be in the suburbs (current location) or downtown in a Midwest large city
    3. I would have increased costs related to adding public transportation to my monthly expenses

    “soft negotiations” that are important to me are:
    1. flex scheduling/telecommuting (shouldn’t be an issue with CEO, new HR dept may take pause)
    2. keeping my current paid time off/vacation days if not increasing (at current organization I will be at 18 PTO days next year, based on my full professional work history, I should be at 25 PTO days). Which should I start with?

    What is a good “first offer” for a promotional role? 30% increase of current salary? 40%? The industry would be similar and I would have a decently high amount of negotiating power but also don’t want to “shoot too high”. I also want to ensure that I’m not lowballing myself by missing a negotiation point. How should I organize my negotiation points so that I don’t negotiate and receive a higher base salary, only to have that eaten up by increased benefits costs and such?

    Thank you!

    1. EA*

      Does the new job know your current salary?

      I wouldn’t base anything off what you make now. I would look up with CEO exec support make in your area. (I am in a large area in the northeast, and depending on number of years experience, its 70k-100k a year, depending on industry, size of company, yada yada yada)

      I would ask for PTO stuff first, and then after you have that, suggest X amount of money, while also wanting to consider flex time and work from home.

      1. Elsa*

        New job knows “close enough” and coincidentally my current base plus 30% would be the average salary for the new role (for both a city and suburbs position).

        I know that flex time/work from home won’t be an issue but I want to be able to shape my thoughts around that a bit more (I’m torn between a 3 day in the office/2 day at home scenario or a 5 day in the office but reduce “in office” time and working early morning/evening in order to maintain daily presence).

        In negotiating though, should I be asking for the 30% (and I just keep using that because it does happen to fall in line with the average salary of the new job so it’s a reasonable number I think) and then additional adjustment for healthcare coverage? I don’t know how the new company has their healthcare structured so my concern is asking and receiving the 30% and then having that all eaten up with increased healthcare premium costs.

        Do you (the general you) typically break up your compensation package negotiation in order to accommodate for possible increases in healthcare and commuting costs? I want to assume yes but not sure at all. I am the preferred candidate and I think I have a lot of negotiating room but don’t want to shoot so high that even if the CEO goes for it, HR has fits over it. I mean I’m pretty sure that if I’m top candidate for a CEO that HR may show some flexibility as long as I’m not asking for the moon and back again.

        1. Zahra*

          Don’t ask for 30% + healthcare adjustment. Ask for the health insurance information: coverage, deductibles, premiums (the portion that you’re expected to pay, at least). Then negotiate the whole thing. I think that’s what Alison would suggest.

          1. Elsa*

            Ok thanks! I likely wouldn’t ask for it broken out like that but I should definitely consider the entire compensation package. So with that, are there any critical points that I’m missing from the items I should consider?

            My other random question is that I’m not fully vested yet in my current company’s 401k which means that if I leave prior to the vesting date I would lose the company match that I’ve been earning on. Is that ever a consideration point for those of you who have left prior to becoming fully vested? Or do you just consider that company match portion a “loss”?

  27. Anonymous Cheech*

    TLDR: Will failing a pre-employment drug test for company A be reported to company B or company C if B is a child company of companies A and C?

    Last fall, I accepted the offer of a job at company A starting this summer. Conditional to my employment was passing a drug test. I had been an almost daily user of edible marijuana for about a year prior to that point (it helped my anxiety loads, roughly 10 mg per day of THC). In late September, I went cold turkey with the MJ, only lapsing twice: on Thanksgiving and New Years I smoked a little with friends. I have to be responsible, right? I never really needed it but if I don’t use MJ I am drinking almost every night, which I think is worse for my body and brain.

    ANYWAY, recently, I was told it was time to take the drug test- no problem! I’ve been clean of chronic use for almost 7 months and the last single use was almost 4 months ago. I went in and took it and about a week later, they called and said I needed to come in and take it again. They wouldn’t tell me why. I did of course, but I’m really worried about the whole situation. There are 3 major companies I want to work for: A, B, and C. A and C got together and had B, so I’m worried that if I fail this pre-employment screen at A it will hurt my chances at B since they’re related, or even at C. Does anyone know about whether that’s the case?

    I don’t truly think it’s reading THC-COOH in my urine. It might be that I drank too much water, I fumbled my initials a little on the tape on the sample, or the fact that I ate a ton of poppy seed crackers the night before. My wife smokes every day in our basement but I don’t think it would affect me that much. It’s just a hit or two- not hot boxing the place.

    1. Pwyll*

      I’m not sure what you mean by child company. If you mean they’re all subsidiaries of a common parent company, the answer is “maybe.” It will really depend on how centralized their HR departments are. If you mean company A and company C have entered into a joint venture to create entirely separate company B, it’s still possible, but I’d think fairly improbable that they’re sharing drug testing info. Seems like an unnecessary risk the companies would take, to me.

      I won’t get too soap boxy, and I’m pretty much entirely for recreational legalization, but the tone of your comment seems a bit off to me. Please try to see a physician for your anxiety, if you aren’t already. Anxiety is no joke, and using substances without at least some guidance from a physician can be dangerous (personal experience there). Sounds like you’ve made positive steps in your life, but please take care of yourself! :)

      Also, it’s fairly common for drug test results to be inconclusive for no reason at all and for them to be redone, so it’s certainly possible this is all just a testing/paperwork error.

    2. Ashley*

      I seriously doubt you tested positive after that amount of time. I’m also a former chronic MJ user, only socially now, and I always was clean for urine tests in 1-2 weeks.

  28. NoProfitNoProblem*

    Are there any epidemiologists out there?

    I’m kinda at a crossroads in my career. I’m in my first job after graduating with a B.S. in public health, where I mostly do health communications. I find myself really liking it, but I always thought about going back to school for epidemiology.

    Is there anyone in that field now who can tell me what it’s like? Job prospects, what kind of offices and organizations can I expect to work in, what are reputable schools, what are hours and workloads like, do you enjoy your job? Can you switch fields easily with epidemiology experience? What kind of person is best suited for epidemiology? Am I even asking the right questions?

    I tried to google but there are some things that I really just need to hear from someone real about.

    1. the_scientist*

      Hi! there are a couple of us on this board, actually :)

      I guess my question is- what do you envision yourself doing as an epidemiologist? What captivates you about the field? Do you enjoy statistics/math? Developing innovative statistical methodologies? Writing software code to translate a methodology into data? Study design? Do you like health promotion? Policy? Communication?

      The reason I ask, is because I think it’s worth thinking about whether Public Health (i.e. an MPH) or pure epi is the better path, as well as what specifically you’d like to focus in. Generally speaking (VERY generally speaking), a MPH focuses more on health promotion, health policy, and health communications. Usually you do a practicum or two, and a capstone project, as opposed to a master’s thesis. Some schools let you do an MPH with a specialization in epidemiology/nutrition/etc. An epidemiology masters degree is much more research-focused. It’s about study design, methodology, research best practices, statistics, and programming, and you need to write and defend a master’s thesis. As a bonus, you can usually (in Canada, anyway) get a stipend for a masters in Epi. I got my graduate degree FOR FREE.

      Most Epi and MPH graduates in Ontario end up working in the public sector- provincial or federal government, public health agencies, hospitals or local public health units. Epi grads also often work for research programs, as study coordinators or analysts. People who are rockstars with statistics and SAS/R programming can get *extremely* lucrative private sector jobs- after all, math is math, right?

      One thing I will mention, is that it can be very difficult to get a full-time permanent position in this field. Most positions are temporary contracts that may or may not lead to permanent positions. Depending on the organizations, contract employees still can access benefits and paid vacation (and the holy grail, the defined-benefit pension plan) but it really depends on the employer.

      For more about my personal background, I have a BSc in molecular biology/genetics and an MSc in epidemiology. My graduate research was in mental health and I now work in cancer epi. Most of my work is around performance management, program evaluation, and communication. I basically take data and figure out how to explain it to people, and what it means from a policy and program performance perspective. I’m strong in writing, study design, and data interpretation, but I’m not a statistician or particularly skilled SAS programmer.

    2. I've read that study!*

      As an allied field, you can also look into industrial hygiene. You can enter this field with a public health degree, although most industrial hygienists have a masters. The field covers everything from chemical use to bloodborne pathogens and much more. You can work with written programs and management or do or more technical stuff like air, noise, and radiation testing. Work is available in many industries, including healthcare, construction, and oil and gas. Health of workers is regulated, so businesses have need for these services. You could also work for a government agency, such as OSHA or MSHA if you like regulation or NIOSH if you like research. Similar agencies exist in countries outside of the United States (where the field is often called occupational hygiene).

    3. themmases*

      Hi! I’m finishing up an MS in epi right now and starting a PhD in cancer epi in the fall. I’m in a large Midwestern city and I can share a bit about my own research before I decided to do this, how epidemiologists spend our time, and what I see going on in the market around me.

      As an epidemiologist you’re kind of the bridge between research methods that can be quite complex, and the public. It’s like your job is word problems. You need to translate a real world problem such as “how long do people with colorectal cancer liver in my state?” to a study design that can answer it, data collection and management, and an analysis plan that will usually involve mathematical modeling and maybe other stuff as well, such as secondary or spatial analyses. Then you need to put all that back in public health (i.e. layperson) terms while somehow being clear about where your answer comes from and its limitations. Statistical programming is a huge part of the job, and using those programs to manage your data. Good communication skills are very important but honestly, we vary in how good we actually are and clear communicators are prized.

      I love my job (a research assistantship at my school, plus my thesis work). I use geographic and cancer registry data to try to figure out small area cancer rates and how our local transportation system is affecting survival. A fun day for me involves building a database, writing a program in SAS, mapping cancer rates in ArcMap, and writing up just enough to get my point across. :) I picked this field because I coordinated medical research and was enjoying the study design and data management parts and wanted to be more involved. I could see that I would need clinical skills or analytic skills to get ahead in that field so I picked the most analytic area I thought I could thrive in.

      In the US it’s not common for masters students to be offered funding with admission, especially MPH students because it’s a professional degree. However I had no trouble finding an assistantship once I was in and only ended up paying for one semester and some fees. Your relevant work experience will definitely help you there. In terms of choosing a school, pick a CEPH accredited one if you’re in the US. Ideally, pick somewhere with a full school of public health and other health related schools too such as medical or nursing– you will have more opportunities for jobs and collaboration.

      Public health is growing but in the US at least unstable government funding is holding it back. Many epidemiologists work for some level of government, in a school of public health, or for an organization or project that is grant funded. When I choose this path the BLS projected us to grow faster than most jobs… We’ve been downgraded to average growth since then because the federal government and state governments often don’t adequately fund science and public health. An epi degree can set you up for a good plan B in pharma, data science, or GIS analysis to name the ones I am more familiar with, but you need to be clear what your preferences are and be strategic about which extra skills you gain.

      Epidemiology is really research methods for human health. If you want the skills but aren’t sure about being a researcher yourself, you could do an MPH with an epi concentration and you will come out with the core skills, a practicum, and more well rounded exposure to the other areas of public health. If you do an MS you will gain a deeper knowledge of just epi and biostats, and do a research thesis. Either would qualify you for a PhD if you decide later that you definitely do want to be an independent researcher, but the MPH is more practice oriented.

      1. I've read that study!*

        You mention funding affecting research jobs, and that is a good point. Every year, Obama proposes cuts to the National Institutes of Health in his budget proposal. Instead of providing new funding for zika research, funding is being pulled from ebola. On the industry side, the Dow-DuPont merger means major cuts to R&D, and while that is in chemicals, it demonstrates a corporate trend that extends into pharmaceuticals. If OP really wants to do research, they probably need a PhD to even compete for the limited number of jobs.

    4. NoProfitNoProblems*

      Thanks so much! This is really helpful. I’m going to save this thread and chew over the comments a bit.

  29. NonBossyBoss*

    Folks, is it worth correcting misinformation in someone’s LinkedIn profile? Context: Our former Toxic Employee lists an extra year of employment here (claiming to have started a full year earlier). I know there’s a form where I can file a correction, but if I do, what’s the process? Will Toxie get contacted? Will they know I’m the person who contacted LinkedIn? Is it worth the drama and hassle?

    1. Clever Name*

      Why does it matter? My old boss lists himself as “VP” at his new job, but when I searched the website of his new company (I’m nosy), he’s listed as a geologist. I just laugh about it.

      1. S0phieChotek*

        It could be an unintentional error.
        Also I would think that would be caught in employment verification when former employee applies for new jobs? If far enough back, it might not matter anyway? I get it is annoying but unless somehow it directly affects your employment, I’m not sure it’s worth getting involved?

        Others might have better opinion and more sage advice.

      2. NonBossyBoss*

        Honestly? Mainly schadenfreude. This person was REALLY toxic, and I just hate the idea of them pretending we put up with them for longer than we did. I’m pretty sure it’s not an accident — they had to change the date of their previous job to make the claim about the one with us.

    2. Kasia*

      People don’t generally put much stock into LinkedIn and it certainly wouldn’t be the only place they get their information on a new hire from, so I would just laugh it off. Not worth the effort

    3. LanLinesareLosers*

      I would say don’t bother. I’m also curious why you are perusing toxic ex-employees LinkedIn. Is it for schadenfreude or are you actively trying to prevent their future employment anywhere?

      1. Jules the First*

        I usually drop ex-staff one message saying ‘I notice you haven’t updated your LinkedIn recently’ in case it was a genuine oversight, but the only time I’ve actually taken action was when someone exaggerated her role and claimed someone else’s work, and that someone let me know they’d been challenged about it in an interview (Jane did the project alone, but because Wakeen also claimed it on LinkedIn, an interviewer called Jane a liar)

        1. LanLinesareLosers*

          The interviewer who called Jane a liar was completely out of line. However Jane learned that that person is a jerk – so in essence this was a good thing.

          I do not think you should track ex-staff and send them messages. That is just weird. It also doesn’t help Jane or your current staff any. Just let it go.

          1. Jules the First*

            For the record, I don’t track them forever – just once, a couple of months after they leave us. Generally, I ignore LinkedIn untruths, with the one exception being Jane where it was impacting her ability to get a new job.

  30. Aella*

    Aaand my manager just called to tell me that, though I’m signed up for Sunday, they’re taking me off the schedule due to equipment issues, because I signed up for an additional shift today. Which is half the length of the Sunday shift. But! She is delighted to inform me she can sign me up for an additional Friday shift next week!

    …I should have a cup of tea, then head to today’s shift, and make sure that my direct managers know, and also that it won’t affect my being paid for my training, because it does say in my contract that being paid for that is contingent on me carrying out my expected shift pattern.

    I am telling my headweasels that this is probably because of her exact motivations as laid out, and not because I offended her when I was asking her about a) when permanent jobs open up at the office and b) who I could put down as a reference when people asked me for my current job, even though I’d only been there a few days, emphasising it was just to check.

    1. ZSD*

      Wow. This is why people are fighting to pass fair scheduling legislation, which will include anti-retaliation protections.

      1. Aella*

        I am 99% certain this is not why.

        Also she has just emailed me to say that I’m definitely getting training pay, and receiving three hours pay as a gesture of goodwill, and now I am paranoid that she reads AAM!

        (I have had a lot of other stuff going on with uni and job search, and I suspect it is making me pessimistic and anxious about this job.)

      1. Aella*

        I then had a ‘bleargh’ shift which became much better fifteen minutes before it ended, and am now feeling slightly better.

        ‘Headweasels’ is such an evocative word. I am glad it’s spreading.

  31. Mimmy*

    I’d posted this late in the day last week, so it got buried – reposting a revised version.

    Although my Law & Policy class has been a hot mess pretty much all semester, it has re-invigorated a desire to build content knowledge on topics I’m deeply interested in. I’ve always wanted to be a “SME” in a couple of major topic areas – I think we had a thread on that some time ago? But…how does one translate extensive content knowledge into a career? For example, I’ve thought doing of some sort of freelance consulting on the ADA or disability awareness, but I don’t have any business skills, and I know becoming self-employed can be very difficult since it takes time to build a client base, especially for someone like me who does not have a lot of work experience.

    1. Nanc*

      If you’re going into business for yourself start by contacting your local Small Business Development Center. Go to sba [dot] gov and click the Local Assistance link. They’re a great resource for general information and the local office will be able to help you with the ins and outs of business licenses, etc. that are pertinent to your area.

    2. Rubyrose*

      It sounds like you need to get a job with an organization that deals with these major topic areas. This position could well be entry level and may not initially deal directly with your specific interests. But the goal is to get in the door, show you are valuable, and keep your eyes open for projects/positions that match your interests. Your business skills can be developed in this setting.

      A true SME is not created on education alone. It requires experience that can take several years (or more) of full time work. I don’t know your background, but building that experience by freelancing with only education may not give you the concentrated experience necessary to be a SME.

      You might also want to visit the earlier discussion started by Depressed Millennial, specifically the responses from teachers who are clear that they don’t appreciate educational advice from people without classroom experience. I think it shows the importance of having the “boots on the ground” experience.

      I had IT experience and then got a degree in Health Care Management. With those two but without experience combining the two I was not a healthcare IT SME. With 20 years experience working in a variety of healthcare IT settings (hospital, LTC, research, managed care claims, public health) I am now a healthcare IT SME. I would say I earned the SME title at about the 5 year mark.

      I really like that you are thinking about this and are asking the right questions to make yourself successful in the long run. Keep on with this process!!

      1. Mimmy*

        Just read through the whole thread – thank you for pointing me to it. I’m older than Depressed Millennial but the suggestions and perspectives were still very helpful.

  32. an1ymous*

    things have gone from more interesting to almost worse. interim manager is most definitely out for some duration of time. have been told things will be very rocky for awhile.

    i keep trying to push forward with projects and work and everything being up in the air but i’m not sure if i can deal with a rocky patch again. i feel stagnant in the water and am just trying to keep my head afloat, but at the same time i’m wondering if this is an opportunity to step up to the plate and manage projects on my own.

    any advice from people who had a manager leave, their interim manager go out and how you handled it would be much appreciated.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Are you able to be in regular contact with your boss’ boss?
      If yes, then I would go to big boss and explain, “I am working on A, B and C. However I see that no one is working on D and E because there is no immediate boss. Would you like me to pick up on D and E for the time being?”

    2. Rubyrose*

      Not So New Reader is correct about proactively making that next level boss proactively informed about what you are doing and offering to help in whatever manner you can. It shows initiative, which will be appreciated by upper management who may be overwhelmed by this situation. It can also give you the feeling of being in control and having movement, as opposed to being stagnant.

  33. MAB*

    My company is at a tipping point of succeeding or not. Which sucks because I do like it here and I do enjoy my job. The question is do I start really searching now, or wait until I am sure its a sinking ship?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Knowledge is power. Knowledge also gives us a broader perspective. It’s always good to get inputs from other people and it’s always good to be looking for new people to get inputs from.
          I vote for keeping an eye on the job openings that come up.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      Start searching and brushing up your resume and figuring out what skills you’ll need to improve based on what the job postings are listing. Then when it’s time to submit your applications, you’ve got the ducks lined up and can jump right in. Bonus, your brushed-up skills may be helpful in your current role, however long that lasts.

  34. Anon For This*

    I could really use some encouragement regarding a situation at work.

    Very long story extremely shortened… I have MCS. Last year I asked for (and got! ) an ADA-ish (state equivalent) accommodation which resulted in one of my co-workers being told to stop wearing perfume. Things were good for a while. But not so much lately. 1) She’s been wearing perfume more and more often lately, 2) Another co-worker’s perfume has been bothering me more and more, and 3) We’ve hired a few new people who bathe in it.

    I’m at the point where logically I know I have to go back to my boss and ask for my accommodation to be escalated to an office-wide perfume-free policy. But I just can’t get myself to do it. I know there will be at least pushback if not outright hostility/retaliation. I don’t want this to jeopardize my job, which I otherwise love, and am so relieved to have after several years of bad luck with layoffs. But I’m suffering every day and can’t take much more of it. I’m so full of despair about this because I just can’t see a winnable scenario.

    1. Confused Publisher*

      I realise we’ve all read multiple stories where asking for accommodations that people really needed had horrific consequences (think of the dog-friendly workplace from last year).

      But, decent workplaces do exist. I had to ask for something similar last year, and after some good-natured ribbing, my colleagues all acceded to my request. And it’s made such a difference to my workday.

    2. Lillian McGee*

      Your right to breathe and not actively suffer trumps their right to choose smell a certain way. Even typing that sounds ridiculous me! Be firm about it because you deserve clean, unscented air.

    3. Terra*

      Can you tell your manager you’re concerned about pushback? Can you ask if it’s possible for you to be moved to a different office/area or work from home instead of instituting a perfume free policy? Honestly, when it’s your health at risk I’d say putting up with it is not acceptable but there may be options you aren’t thinking of because you’re so caught up in the negative thinking death spiral that it’s easy to get caught in, especially when bad things have already happened to you. Try talking it over with your manager or a doctor and see if you have other options if you’re really concerned that a complete perfume ban is going to be a no go.

    4. Mimmy*

      These cases can be tricky. People certainly have the right to wear perfume, but I also think it’s generally rude to wear a lot of it for this very reason. Do you have a good relationship with any of the perfume wearers? If so, you could remind them that you are very sensitive to it and to ask that they refrain from wearing it.

      If that doesn’t help, I would definitely go back to your manager and discuss the issue. MCS or not, I think it’s inconsiderate of the new hires to come in “bathed” in the stuff.

    5. Shell*

      I understand your hesitation, but I still think it’s worth taking the risk. Working long-term in an environment that makes you suffer (your word) every day isn’t sustainable.

      I asked the new hire in front of me to hang his jacket elsewhere because I could smell it on him when he went out to smoke. I didn’t suffer, really, but I didn’t like the smell. He apologized profusely and did so, and checked in with me the week after to see if it helped (bonus: he quit smoking about a week after that. I wasn’t the reason, obviously–he’d been thinking about it for a long while). And not wearing perfume is a lot less difficult than not smoking!

      Give it a shot. You breathing is not negotiable.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Before you do anything else, I would try just going to the boss and saying, “The perfume is getting out of hand again. What can we do here?”

      It depends on your boss. I would have no issue telling people that NO cologne is part of the dress code. I would not even feel a need to explain that.

    7. The Anon OP*

      Thanks to everyone who already replied. But of course, in trying to summarize and not write a novel, I wound up leaving out relevant details
      * I work for a very small business, so rearranging where people are in the office won’t help. And due to the nature of my job, I can’t work from home.
      * Okay, I will admit I’m certainly not in the best headspace. But when I wrote that I know there will be pushback, that wasn’t negative thinking. I actually know there will be, because there was already when I originally had to deal with the situation last year. The employee in question (who at the time was the only one bothering me) got extremely hostile and told me “I have to wear perfume!”
      * Unfortunately talking with my doctor won’t do any good. While she knows of the existence of MCS and believes that I have it, she doesn’t really know anything about it. (Ironically, when I go to see her I wind up waiting on the patio outside her office, as her waiting area is toxic to me.) And until the AMA recognizes MCS as an actual condition, there’s very little I can do. (There are some doctors who are more knowledgeable, but I haven’t yet been able to find one near me. But even then, all the research I’ve done about what I can do about it basically boils down to “avoid exposure”.)
      * Part of the problem is that while my immediate boss appears to be sympathetic , if we were to try to implement an office-wide perfume-free policy it would have to be approved by the company owner. And okay, I don’t “know” this to be true. But based on everything I do know about him, I highly suspect he’s going to fall into the category of people who think that MCS is a mental illness and everyone who claims to have it is an attention-seeking whiner.

      But definitely, thanks to everyone for the encouragement. And even just being able to talk about it here helps.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        If it were me, I would still start with approaching my direct manager and mentioning that the perfume has become an issue again and see what she suggests. Since it sounds like your manager was sympathetic before, that might be all it takes.

        If you do end up having to approach the owner, could you frame the request more specifically as having a problem with perfume in particular causing some health issues for you, and talk about some of the symptoms you have (rather than talking about it as an accommodation for MCS)? Maybe framing it as causing a specific health issue would be more relatable for the owner?

      2. Sarah Nicole*

        Hi, The Anon OP. I work in healthcare (a chronic dialysis clinic) where it’s generally accepted that if we wear too much perfume, our patients can be affected by it. This is just the way it is, but I’m sure it took some time to get to the place it is now, and that probably included patients, visitors, and even employees speaking up about how much it bothers them. I’m not saying it will be easy, especially if you’re working with some unreasonable people. But if you enjoy the job and want to stay, I would push for the accommodation. You do have the right to work in an environment that doesn’t make you miserable. I also would like to know if this one lady is the only one that has complained about it? Sounds like maybe some of the other newer people may not know that it bothers you so much, and I’d bet that at least a few of them are likely to be very understanding of your situation.

        If I were you, here’s what I would do: I would continue searching for a doctor to at least consult with about this one issue and help you with some documentation. I would also go back to your boss and just say exactly what you did here, that Mean Lady has returned to her heavy perfume use, and that some new hires seem to wear a lot, but that you understand they may not know and could she please talk with them. Then, I would just ask if it’s something that can be an office-wide rule and let it go up to the owner. Hopefully it won’t end up being as bad as you think. And if it is, you can evaluate what to do at that point. But I don’t think your solution should be to just not push for what you need. You deserve a workplace that doesn’t adversely affect your health.

    8. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Many, many workplaces have scent-free policies. I wouldn’t sweat it – go ahead and ask for the accommodations. Your employers can certainly frame it as a workplace decision, rather than it being about your accommodations (while getting the same result). But really – they shouldn’t get to make you feel badly about that.

  35. Dom*

    I had a question about relocation assistance. My husband is interviewing for a position (Operations Manager salary range $55k-$70k) that is halfway across the country. He has had two phone interviews and has one more phone interview and face to face interview next week. When should we broach the subject of relocation assistance if at all? My husband doesn’t think we should ask because they have agreed to come up from the salary advertised on the job post to a figure that is closer to his current salary. But I think it would be ok to ask. The amount I was thinking would be $8k. This figure is about half of what it is going to cost us (we have to break our lease and move 2 cars and all our belongings). Thanks for reading any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Tsalmoth*

      At the offer/negotiating stage, and not before. Instead of a figure, maybe lead with, “can you tell me about the sort of relocation package you offer?”

    2. Not Karen*

      At the offer stage. I didn’t name a number; I just asked for relocation assistance if possible, and they came back with a number.

    3. Clever Name*

      I agree. Make it a part of salary negotiations. How big is the company? Larger companies will likely have more resources for this type of assistance. When my husband transferred to another location across the country, his relocation package was valued (albeit by rumor, but I think the number is pretty accurate) at around $60k. In contrast, my small company doesn’t offer any kind of relocation assistance. So it’s all over the place.

      I also wouldn’t lead with a figure, especially one that is half of your actual expenses. I know you don’t want to seem greedy, but you may be surprised. $8k may be nothing to the company and would gladly pay $16k to help the right candidate. You never know. Don’t sell yourself short.

    4. Emmie*

      There may be some tax benefits to paying relocation costs yourself. I’d figure out if it was a better personal decision to negotiate other things like salary, PTO, some remote, etc… -But, you’d negotiate it at the offer stage.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        If the company pays the movers, it won’t be taxable to you, so it’s a wash if they pay, or if you pay and are given money by your new employer. In my experience the important question about taxes kick in when the company pays the real estate fees for selling your house. In one move I had, I actually sold our house to my new employer (with no RE fees), and then the employer sold it to the buyer (which did include the RE fees). That way I didn’t have to pay the RE fees, and the company included them as a business expense. In another move, I had a multi-family house, and the rules said that the new employer couldn’t buy and sell a multi. Instead, I paid the RE fees myself, and my employer reimbursed those fees, including grossing up the amount so that it was tax neutral for me. In the end, your goal should be to come as close to break even (after taxes) as possible.

    5. Dom*

      Ok, so it is ok to ask for assistance. I will definitely make these suggestions to my husband. Thanks, I really appreciate this advice.

    6. Jessica*

      My husband just got $7k for a relocation from NY to Chicago for a job with a $75k salary, so $8k is within the realm of possibilities but might be on the high side. They also recommended two different moving companies — they had long-term agreements in place with both companies to give discounts to this company’s employees. All of this was discussed at the offer stage.

    7. HR Pro*

      I worked for a financially comfortable nonprofit and their max relocation assistance was $5k. (Yes, it was a nonprofit but they were not cash-strapped at all.) They followed the IRS rules for non-taxable moving benefits, and I don’t think that the cost to break a lease would have been included.

      My current company (another nonprofit, with perhaps a little tighter budget) rarely gives relocation assistance.

      Obviously many companies do give generous relocation assistance. Just wanted to give you some other perspectives.

  36. Impatient LW*

    I submitted a question to Alison a few weeks back, and it hasn’t run. At what point is it safe to assume it won’t get answered and I can post here? I know she gets so many, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it won’t run, but I don’t want to mess up her queue by accident…

    1. neverjaunty*

      Maybe just email Alison and let her know you’re posting in the open thread so no need to answer?

  37. Need cheering up*

    This week my boss asked several staff members, including me, to prepare for a meeting. I prepared 3 power point slides and sent him them the day before the meeting. He specifically asked for an update on sales numbers and a plan on how I intend to meet this year’s target. This meeting was with local staff in the office as well as over a conference call with staff in other regions.

    As it was my turn I went through them. Half way through he interrupted me and said ‘If everyone talks as much we’ll run out of time.. and things like what you have is not a real plan. I asked what a real plan would be and whether he can give an example and he just said ‘that should come from you’. I got quite agitated and just continued going through the slides. I felt undermined in front of the whole group, which upset me most. I feel his comments were totally inappropriate or am I overreacting?

    1. Sadsack*

      Was your presentation different from the others? If so, in what way(s)? I think considering that may be a place to start.

      1. Need cheering up*

        Five people were asked to prepare and I was second. The first one did not have slides but was reading from notes. Another colleague after me also had 3-4 slides, some had none and were just talking. Sure I could have moved on quicker, but something like ‘Jane, make sure you focus on the main points as we are pushed on time’ would have been sufficient instead of questioning whether or not I have understood the assignment. I did not think I was taking more time than others.

        Prior to the meeting the task simply was to give an overview on the current numbers and a plan to meet the 2016 target, such as key campaigns. Plus I had sent the slides the day before. If they really were not fit for purpose my boss could have told me before or after.

        I think he was just in a bad mood and gets pressure from his boss. However, I did not appreciate the way I as spoken to nor did I appreciate my reaction. I became defensive and stood up for my plan.

    2. Sadsack*

      Sorry, I totally left out the other part – no, I don’t think you are overreacting. I would also feel put off by having those comments made in front of the group. However, you can’t really do anything about that so it is best to try to figure out what he wanted.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The rest of the group was wondering if he would treat them in a similar manner.

      Okay helpful message very poorly delivered. Shortening your time is something you can work on and figure something out. The slides though that is a different story, he should have told you the day before. I guess the next time I submitted slides I would make sure he gave me feedback before the meeting.

      I don’t know what your boss is like. I might consider going to him even now and telling him that I want to write a good plan, but I am not sure what he is using as criteria to decide when a plan is a good one. What is his criteria?

      Sometimes people get brash in front of others, but when you go back in on a conversation privately, they change their tone and give you real answers.

  38. Lillian McGee*

    How does your employer handle 401(k) contributions?

    We are switching from a 403(b) to 401(k) and we can’t use the method we’ve been using (a “stipend” where a set amount per employee is applied to health insurance if elected and then any remainder goes into 403(b) as an employer contribution). We are starting fresh with new hires, but we’re having a hard time figuring out how to grandfather in existing employees who are all getting different amounts contributed.

    1. Is it spring yet?*

      I don’t think you really can accommodate all current employees at their same levels. Although one possibility would be a base amount (Y% or X% match) with an increase for longevity or maybe a “bonus” deposited quarterly or annually. But first you have to see what the regs for 401(k)s say. This could limit what you do.

    2. Jadelyn*

      My employer does a dollar-for-dollar 6% match to either a regular or Roth 401k, plus an additional contribution of 3% of the employee’s base pay after they’ve been with the organization for 1 year. So if you max your contribution, your 401k gets an amount equal to 15% of your base salary.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I’m not sure if I’m reading this correctly, but I would move to a “match” system instead of giving them a percentage of their salary. I have two separate retirement accounts here – one is a 403B to which I cannot contribute, but my company puts 15% of my salary into it each year. The other one is more like a 401K where we contribute a percentage of our own salary into it.

  39. Ivy*

    Long-time commenter, using a throwaway name…

    My grandboss seems irritated with me. I have been here for a month and replaced someone who retired after 20 years.

    My actual boss is friendly, encouraging, and has only had positive things to say. She isn’t holding back any issues; she raises them in a constructive, actionable way.

    What do I do? I don’t want to make it worse, and he might just be missing my predecessor (and 20 years of experience).

    1. NoProfitNoProblems*

      Don’t worry about it. If it continues for a while and actively starts to interfere with your work and advancement prospects, you can ask your actual boss for advice/ask her to advocate for you. Hopefully your good work will just make its way up the chain!

    2. LanLinesareLosers*

      I had a similar problem. My boss loved me, his boss not so much. It turns out his boss was just unhappy and everything I perceived to be about me was not at all about me. When his boss left for another org she turned around and offered me a job there.

    3. Rin*

      Just keep working and learning. He’ll either come around or always compare you with the person you replaced; sometimes you can’t change people in that way. If he outwardly picks on you, then maybe you can ask your boss for advice. BTW I love the term Grandboss

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would not lose a lot of energy on it either. Pretend to be oblivious to the grand boss’ irritation. Be pleasant, helpful and open.

      In a couple of jobs I have asked my immediate boss, if I needed to be aware of anything with the big boss. I have said things like, “I don’t want to tick the guy off and I want you to be in good standing and not have issues because of me.” Your boss may give you a few pointers OR your boss may just say, “oh he’s always like that with new hires, ignore it.” Trust your boss to tell you how to handle things.

  40. Crystal has a question*

    This week I started my new job. On my second day my manager said he couldn’t believe that someone with my background was able to get such a good job and that he never expected me to be anything more than a receptionist and frankly even that was pushing it for someone who came from where I did. He went on about how shocked he was for almost 10 minutes and said he couldn’t believe that I got hired for this job. His boss echoed this sentiment as well.

    My background = growing up in the poorest place in the country, in a family where every single person was on welfare, no one ever had a legal job, no one had more than a grade 10 education and every person had a criminal record and at least one child by the time they turned 17. No exceptions. I left home when I turned 18, hitchhiked to the nearest bus station (yes seriously) and bought a ticket  for as far away as I could afford. I didn’t even know where I would end up and I didn’t have any family or friends in the area. I spent 10 years earning my GED and then my degree by taking night classes and working as a receptionist during the day. I still work at the same company, but I got a different job there after I earned my degree. Between this and the fact that I am much older than most graduates seeking their first job (I’m 28) people here know my story.

    Am I right to be offended by their comments or am I being too sensitive? I don’t have any reference points to compare this to because I didn’t know anyone who worked in a legal, legitimate job until I started working here. No one else was there when they made their comments. Until now my colleagues have always been really supportive and helpful. This is the first time I’ve comments like this made to me and I’m not sure if I’m right to feel offended.

    1. ZSD*

      Your manager is a dick. Yes, you’re right to be offended. Even if he is surprised by your success, he should keep that to himself.
      How could your manager think this wouldn’t demoralize their new employee?
      HOWEVER, I don’t think you should let this set the tone for your new job. You’ve done amazing things so far, so now the thing to do is be a rockstar in your new position. Eventually, they’ll see how wrong they were about you. Good luck!
      (And seriously, congratulations on all you’ve achieved. You’re an inspiration.)

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        What they said! It took an amazing amount of courage and determination to do what you’ve done. Don’t let one turbo douche get you down.

      2. The Butcher of Luverne*

        Your manager is actually the biggest dick in the room wherever he goes.

        Good on you for your accomplishments. No one can take those away from you.

    2. Mando Diao*

      It’s annoying and offensive, but I think it’s possible that they had positive intentions and were impressed that you’ve made it so far. Next time say, “I agree, I’m very happy to have beat the odds.”

      1. Crystal has a question*

        I don’t think he was impressed. He was going on about how the only “people like me” he has ever known are hotel maids and janitors because most of us are in jail and it was surprise that I was able to act smart enough to get such a good job (I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a hotel maid or a janitor or having any other job that is legal). He also commented about how it must be hard for me being around people who are above my station so much and he hopes I fit in and don’t show my poor background around people so I don’t embarrass myself.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Um, upon reading this elaboration, I’m having a hard time assuming the best of this guy. Is this your direct manager? That you have to deal with on a daily basis? If so, that’s a bad sign. The best you can do is say something like “Yep, I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved” and change the subject. But this is offensive and gross and you shouldn’t have to deal with it.

        2. KR*

          If the people from where you grew up are predominately a certain race, I would definitely point it out that this type of talk is discriminatory. Please know that he is a jerk and I’m sorry that you have to deal with that at work.

          1. Crystal has a question*

            I’m white (and he is white also but is married to a woman who is not, although she comes from money like he does) so it’s an issue with classism and not racism in this case. I do get where you are coming from though :)

            1. Observer*

              Did he at least have the sense to avoid the terms “trailer trash” and “white trash”?

              Start looking for something else – either in your company or elsewhere. Your boss has made it clear that he’s never going to see as a full equal and you’ll have to work twice as hard to get half as far – IF you are lucky!

              You’ve done something very difficult, and you deserve to be in a job where your abilities and character would be rewarded.

              1. Observer*

                I put in “rolling eyes” after my first line, but in angle brackets. The system swallowed it.

        3. Lillian McGee*

          Never mind what life would be like WITHOUT hotel maids and janitors! It’s simply infuriating that some of the most important jobs in our society are treated with such scorn and derision. Not to mention wildly inadequate pay and appreciation.

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              Seriously. That is HARD work. I don’t think I’d make it through a full day in either of those jobs.

        4. Mockingjay*

          I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. Suggested response:

          “Yes.” [Noncommittal, doesn’t mean anything.] “Now, about the teapot report…”

          If he brings it up again: “Yes. Now, about the handle inspection report…”

          Repeat each time. The goal is not to engage him on this; he’s looking for affirmation of his superiority. [Clearly, he has none.]

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            And if failing to turn the conversation back around doesn’t work… “I’m sorry but what do you mean by that?” or “I don’t understand that reference, could you please explain?” Yes, he’s a snob but once he has to explain his snobbery, he should hopefully be somewhat ashamed of what he’s said. Perhaps.

            I would also suggest that you keep an ear to the ground for other jobs/department transfers. And maybe make a small secret diary of the kinds of comments he drops. Just in case. Because I have a feeling that you might outclass him in more ways than one and that would be threatening to him.

        5. mander*

          He is a grade A++ asshole. Who says demeaning stuff like that to their staff? I’m livid on your behalf!

      2. neverjaunty*

        No, I really don’t think it’s possible that somebody who goes on and on for ten minutes about how they can’t believe someone of the OP’s background works for them has positive intentions.

        OP, you have every right to be offended and their behavior is way, WAY outside the norm.

    3. KR*

      I think you have a right to feel offended. Coming from a place of privilege, I probably don’t have the best script to deflect this sort of thing – but I do think that there’s an power dynamic at play because they’re your bosses and that really prevents you from sticking up for yourself properly. If he brings it up again, would it be out of line to say something like, “I’ve worked very hard to get where I am today, and I would appreciate it if we did not discuss my background like this” or “Coming from [area] I would really appreciate it if we could cut down on the assumptions about people who come from [area], since I’ve worked very hard to get where I am today.”

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      You’re inspirational (which is what your boss should’ve said!) and you’re right to feel offended by his comments.

    5. anon for this*

      You’re definitely right to be offended. I grew up in a very poor area of Boston with a very thick Boston accent – you know, the type people love to make fun of and the type that is very obviously a blue collar lower income accent. I had a better situation than yours since most people had legal jobs, but they were all construction or truck drivers or other lower level jobs people don’t generally aspire to.

      Unfortunately in Boston, there are “middle class” and “upper class” Boston accents which aren’t that thick and just sound like normal Northeast or East Coast accents and “poor accents” (again, the type everyone likes to imitate and stereotype) and you don’t get far with a poor accent in this city. I worked really, really hard to get scholarships to a good school and to hide my accent because even in Boston, most middle class schools and most white collar companies don’t have people with “poor” Boston accents. I once was stressed and slipped at work and had a few coworkers say they couldn’t believe someone who grew up where I did and went to the K-12 schools I did and sounded like I did got a job in a well-known corporate company as something more than an admin or assistant. And once they knew I had to suffer a loooooot of people making exaggerated comments about my accent or stereotypes about my background and general disbelief that I made it so far.

      So, long story short, yes, you have every right to be offended because it’s classism. I’ve learned the hard way that middle class people who love to talk about how liberal and accepting they are can be very, very classist – sometimes without realizing it. If they keep on like this, bring it up and tell them that it’s not okay. Because acting amazed that someone from a lower class background actually moved up in the world is really, really gross.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Because acting amazed that someone from a lower class background actually moved up in the world is really, really gross.

        Agreed. People say we don’t have class issues in the US, but that is so not true. I have a relative who, when she was establishing herself in her career, would not tell anyone we grew up in a small town. Plus, isn’t this SUPPOSED to be the American Dream!?

        1. anon for this*

          Yeah. The US has a huge class issue, especially how the middle class regards the lower class. (Obviously how the upper class regards the middle class is an issue as well, but that’s addressed way more than the lower class/middle class divide imo)

          I don’t think a lot of middle class people realize that when you hear comments like this all the time, they come off as backhanded compliments. Someone being impressed that you made it out of a lower income lifestyle can be very condescending.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I have heard rich people say things that would absolutely curl your hair. The ignorance is profound.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Middle-class people who love to talk about how liberal they are, are often the most classist, tbh.

        I mean, the OP’s boss wasn’t even saying something well-meaning but clueless like “wow, it’s so inspirational that you were able to overcome all of that and work here!” Ten. Groudon. Minutes. And then HIS boss jumping in.

        1. anon for this*

          Definitely. It bothers me how many middle class people love to express their support for race, gender, sexual, religious equality, but then turn around and make horribly classist comments. It’s way more common than people realize, I think.

          It kind of makes me wonder how many people make those “in spite of your background” comments without realizing it’s an insult.

          1. Crystal has a question*


            I don’t mind at all when people I know well, or the people I mentor at the community center (where I got my start) say things like “It’s really cool how you have been able to rise above so much”. But the whole “in spite of your background” and other comments really rub me the wrong way.

            1. anon for this*

              Yes, exactly. It’s completely different if someone who comes from the same experience or background says something like that, but someone else saying it, especially someone from a higher social class is really not okay.

          2. Turtle Candle*

            Yeah. I’ve had that conversation many times with middle-class liberals (and I count myself as a liberal, but it’s a VERY common blind spot). “Oh, I just don’t understand how people can feed their children Kraft Mac n Cheese and canned tomato soup when it’s just as easy to make noodles with parmesan and real tomato soup!” Well, it’s not just as easy, but even more so–“Uh, because it costs about a third as much?” Fluster, fluster, oh I just think ~your family’s health~ isn’t somewhere you should compromise.

            How very nice for you!

            I remember my mother, who grew up genuinely farm-laborer poor, being incandescent with rage back in the 90s when Alice Waters said that everyone could afford organic food if they’d just stop buying Nikes.

            1. anon for this*

              I get annoyed when people talk about how “poor” people choose to eat unhealthy food when eating healthy is cheap, but $5 can buy 5 $1 burgers at a fast food restaurant or 5 boxes of mac and cheese, whereas $5 might buy you a bag of apples or potatoes at a grocery store. Fresh produce is expensive.

              It’s that sort of privilege that doesn’t acknowledge that raising subway fairs to $3 is a big deal for some people because some people rely on every dollar they get and it’s not just “the cost of a coffee”.

              1. AnonAnalyst*

                Not to mention the fact that in some really low income areas, there aren’t any stores that sell fresh produce, or sometimes even many healthy food options. But if you’re living there without affordable transportation to go outside of your neighborhood to a proper grocery store, you’re stuck making the best of what the corner convenience store or the fast food restaurant down the street offers.

                When you can’t even get to a store that sells those things, it’s sort of meaningless for someone else to point out how many apples or potatoes you could buy with the same $5 you spent on 5 burgers.

                1. anon for this*

                  Yeah, tell me about it. I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to a local college and I gorged myself on fresh produce in the cafeterias because it was such a rarity growing up.

            2. all aboard the anon train*

              I generally find a lot of middle class liberals are only liberal in the mainstream sense. So, for instance, when it comes to gay rights a lot of them think the LGBTQA+ community is mostly gay men and lesbians and that gay marriage is the only big issue when it’s really a small issue in the larger scheme of things. The mainstream queer movement is mostly focused on white cisgender gay men, just the same way that mainstream feminism still primarily caters to white middle class heterosexual cisgender women.

              So a lot of people end up championing equal pay for women in white collar jobs and better healthcare for women who already have access to healthcare through their partners or jobs. Most of the conversation isn’t about equal pay for women in blue collar work or healthcare issues for lower class, queer, or minority women. Or how abortion may be accepted as the women’s choice in a lot of white middle class circles, but it’s still stigmatized in a lot of other circles.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                + 1,000 to this whole comment. It’s very, very true. A lot of middle class liberals really aren’t that different from their conservative counterparts, though they like to think they are.

            3. neverjaunty*

              “Exactly. You don’t understand, you stupid, overprivileged sack of giraffe droppings.”

              I guess that’s a good place to try out that five-minute rule, huh.

    6. Ad Astra*

      You’re right to be offended, but I don’t think you should say anything about this comment. He might have even meant it as a compliment — which doesn’t make it an OK thing to say, but I think intent is important.

      If he makes a similar comment in the future, you might try responding with something like “Oh? What makes you say that?” Sometimes explaining their thought process helps people realize they’re being crappy.

    7. Sheepla*

      Just my opinion, not a very sensitive thing for them to say so I understand your tendency towards feeling offended, but it sounds like these comments were meant to be complimentary. Like “wow, look at what you’ve achieved in spite of your background.”

      1. Crystal has a question*

        I didn’t feel like he was trying to complement me because he talked about me working around people who are “above my station” and said he hopes my poor background doesn’t lead to embarrassment. He said if he was me he would lie about where he came from because he would be ashamed and he mentioned it was shocking that I was able to act smart enough to get this job. That is just some of what he said over those 10 minutes. I realize people can sound awkward when giving complements but I didn’t feel complimented at all by his comments.

        1. Muriel Heslop*

          Crystal, you are amazing and obviously talented and capable. Kudos to you! Your manager sounds like a small person. I am embarrassed for him, and would also like to punch him in the nose.

          I am sorry you are dealing with this, because he is being rude, mean, and inappropriate. He has told you much more about himself than he could tell anyone about you. I don’t know the circumstances of your employment, but I would say something to him privately about his insulting behavior. And say something in the moment if it happens again. “Yes, Jerk Manager, you have made yourself clear on the topic” or something like that.

          And as they say, “Living well is the best revenge.” Rock this job!

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              You should seriously consider doing something with your life story. I mean, there are probably young people back where you come from who would benefit to see a story like yours so that they know that they can get out, too, if that’s a choice they want to make for themselves. Sometimes, we need someone to show us the way or that there is an alternative.

          1. neverjaunty*

            “He has told you much more about himself than he could tell anyone about you.” – SO much this.

        2. another IT manager*

          “Act smart?” WTF.

          If you got a job that requires brains and kept it, you have brains. QED. You also have a jerk for a boss, and for that you have my sympathy.

        3. Anon Moose*

          WTF. Write everything down- exactly what you heard and who was there. I would not be at all surprised if these jerks continued to bring it up. Being poor may not be a protected class as such but I think it would definitely creating a hostile work environment if it continues and HR should know about it and any future comments that make you feel unwelcome. Wow. That is so out of line.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Just to be clear, hostile work environment has to be based on a projected characteristic like sex, religion, or race, so it’s unlikely to apply here. But the boss is a huge ass.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        It’s a backhanded compliment. It’s pointing out an “otherness” about someone and commenting on it. The comment would be just as insulting if it was about race, gender, or sexuality.

      3. Anona myous*

        Congratulating someone on their achievements is fine. When you add things like “in spite of your background” it is classist and insulting, even if you mean well.

    8. Lillian McGee*

      It sounds like you’ve worked very hard for everything you’ve accomplished and to hear shit like that is not only offensive, it’s extremely ignorant on their part. I have no advice on how to deal with such things but I join you in your outrage.

      I hope it doesn’t remain a problem and I wish you much continued success.

    9. LanLinesareLosers*

      Is there a reason your background is even coming up this much?

      I say this as the only person in my family to graduate from high school, let alone attend college and earn a Fulbright. Both my parents are felons. Everyone in my family is a drug addict and/or alcoholic. It’s not stuff I talk about at work. All people see when they talk to me is a bright, accomplished young lady. I don’t bring up my background because its not something I feel I should be judged on. Positively or not. When the questions around family come up I politely deflect.

      I am not saying that people should not handle this information better, but I am saying that by airing this information at work you will experience jerks like your boss trying to “compliment” you by making gross, broad stroke assumptions about what “people-like-you” are like. Regardless of your race or ethnicity you will experience this coming from a poor background.

      1. Crystal has a question*

        Other than in passing in my job as a receptionist I had never spoken to my manager before.

        As I said the reason everyone knows about my background is because I have worked here for 10 years, many people knew I was attending night school and that I wasn’t from this state. Plus I am 28 and much older than most people who are applying for jobs right after they graduate. I don’t air my background but it has come up in regular conversation in the 10 years I have worked here. Me having a GED and attending night school was also discussed in my interview.

    10. Evie*

      Is he a different race than you are (you don’t have to answer)? People like you has a very racial undertone. I would watch for other signs of discrimination and keep some notes. This isn’t you being sensitive and I’m sorry this is happening.

      1. Crystal has a question*

        I don’t mind answering :). Both he and I are white. To me it’s a class issue and not a race issue because I am white and he is married to a woman who is a different race. I get where you are coming from though. In my case he’s not being a jerk based on my race, but my class.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Are you from very different regions? I’ve occasionally had to point out to people in one part of the country that people from another part are not necessarily “less” than them. But a well-off New Yorker, for example, really can think there’s some sort of real difference in intelligence, ability, and even value between him and a poor person from Kentucky.

          As someone who hasn’t had this struggle but has heard about a similar one from older family members, I have to say I admire you. Leaving the familiar (even if it’s awful) to strike out on your own takes a lot of bravery and character.

          1. Crystal has a question*

            Yes there is a regional difference. I’m originally from Kentucky and I live in California now. The area I come from has many well known stereotypes (Hicks and hill people from the Appalachians, etc).

            Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate them.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              One of my beloved uncles was from Kentucky. I’d say if his abilities were good enough for NORAD, they should be good enough for anyone. (He never lost his accent, and I loved it – but I have older relatives from north of the Ohio River, so there’s a connection there, too.)

              Besides, Abraham Lincoln was a poor kid from Kentucky, and look what he did!

            2. TL -*

              Oh yeah. There’s definitely a people like you that means “you hicks/rednecks/ignorant racist republicans in the south.”

            3. Nerdling*

              As a fellow Kentuckian, I feel you. Good for you on kicking ass and taking names! And I have words I won’t use about your jackanape boss.

            4. Nerdling*

              Support from a fellow Kentuckian right here. You are awesome and he’s an ass. Neither of those things is likely to change, so I think you by far got the better deal.

      2. anon for this*

        “People like you” is also used in classist remarks regardless of race. Classism is still discrimination.

        1. Evie*

          Yes it is but if I was wondering if it was possibly race based and should could be protected in that way which is why I suggested notes.

    11. Temperance*

      Nope, you’re right to be offended. I’m an attorney and I grew up in a trailer. Most of my family is lower-class and also lives in trailers outside of Scranton, PA. I’m an attorney. I’m the first person on my dad’s side of the family to obtain a 4-year degree, and first on my mother’s to obtain an advanced degree. I have one cousin who has an MSN.

      I don’t share my background at work, ever. My first name is a pretty obvious class marker (it’s something like Brandi, but not Brandi), but otherwise, I fit in fairly well, dress appropriately, etc. It’s still hard to dodge questions about my family.

      1. Crystal has a question*

        I grew up in a trailer too. My first name is a pretty obvious class marker as well, especially when it’s paired with my middle name (Crystal). It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. Thank you for responding.

        1. Navy Vet*

          I made this mistake at last job. I was really open about my past. Not because I wanted people to feel bad for me or treat me differently. Because I am proud of where I’ve gotten in life and what I overcame. It would be just a matter of fact statement here or there that was in line with whatever lunch discussion was going on.

          Once someone asked me how I came up with my ideas for cooking (I’m pretty creative in the kitchen) And I told that person that it was a skill I learned growing up poor. When all you have in the cabinet is ramen noodles, garlic powder, pretzels and if you were lucky Velveeta, you make it work.
          But stories like that colored my coworkers view of me. I thought it was funny. (Still do) Along with lots of my other childhood exploits.

          And holler to Scranton! I lived in Greensburg as a small child!

      2. Jules the First*

        Out loud: “I’ve worked hard to rise above my background; I wish everyone could do the same…”
        In my head: “Including you, you entitled little shit…”

    12. animaniactoo*

      fwiw, I read the stuff above, and I would directly answer his comments when they come up again.

      “Actually, I’m not ashamed of where I’ve come from at all. Many people in that area try really hard to make a better life for themselves and are shut down through lack of opportunities in the area. I’m happy that I’ve been able to succeed in finding a better situation for myself.”

      “I’m not sure what you mean by “above my station”. Is there a need for something other than the professionalism that I have always shown while working here?”

    13. Jacket*

      Document it. Classism, regionalism, paternalism, whatever, this dude is wanging his privilege around like a wet monkey and it’s inappropriate (and abusive–to you and the monkey). As others have said, you’re amazing, keep your chin up and just be as good at what you do as possible. Stick it out as long as you must and work towards a job with a company that doesn’t hire douchefaces like these. But yeah, keep a little diary, save any emails, etc. Just in case.

      As someone who grew with college educated parents, one from an upper middle-class family and the other who had clawed her way out of rural poverty, I can attest to the deep-seated classism in this country (USA) on a very personal level. It’s insidious. My mum fought to make sure I got the best possible education and so I went to private schools my entire life (on hard-earned scholarships). At one particularly low moment when I was about 16 I made a snide remark to my mum about people who went to a particular state college were dumb and then remembered that was the school she went to. It was really an eye-opening moment for me about how far I had bought into the “Ivy-League-or-Bust” mentality of my New England prep school. What had just come out of my mouth? Did I really think that? Ugh! Thank goodness I had that slap in the face when I did. Woke me right up. All of us are more complex and curious and worthwhile than our circumstances.

      Your boss deserves a good whack in the face with a herring. You know they say being kind to your enemies is like putting a hot coal on their head…

    14. NacSacJack*

      Hang on a minute. I’m not so quick to jump on the “Offended” bandwagon here. Do they know your background? Did you tell them how every member of your family was jailed and a parent before 17? Reading your story, I got the impression, that included you. Have you been running yourself down in front of them? I think they are very impressed with you, given their knowledge of your background and are giving you kudos trying to build up your self-esteem. Two items – First, my dad was in the employment service all his life and I have cousins on his side of the family who have a similar background. Know what it took us (his kids) to get through college even with the support of our parents who knew the importance of education, I am still impressed by my cousins who did get their college degrees and have had careers other than minimal wage jobs. That’s tough to do. Second, I’ve met two people in my life whom I’ve been impressed with and have asked/hinted/curious friendly discussed their family background. They grew up very poor, had no money, have gone on to get college degrees, made their way into positions of authority and excude this sense of self-confidence/self-esteem that typically we expect from people of good background. They figured it out. They figured out how to walk the walk and talk the talk when their background did not. I still cant figure it out. It is not easy to make the American Dream happen. If it concerns you, ask them. I’m curious to see if you respond and tell us whether they knew your background or not.

      1. Crystal has a question*

        Yes they know my background. For the record I am not a parent and I have never been to jail. They know I have no record based on questions on my job applications with them (have you ever been arrested, have you ever thought been convicted of an offense for which a pardon has not been granted). Other than in passing when I was a receptionist I had never spoken with either of them before. I never run myself down, but even if I did they have never had a conversation with me so they would not know that.

      2. Anona myous*

        The OP stated right in her original post that they know about her background.

        Also as per her other comments, telling her that the only other “people like her” are either maids or janitors are in jail, saying she is working with people “above her station” and will be an embarrassment, telling her that if he was her he would lie about his background because it is so shameful and saying it was shocking she was able to “act smart” enough to get such a good job is not someone showing how impressed they are with her. It’s the total opposite.

    15. Undine*

      Who hired you for this job? Presumably there is someone in the company who thinks you can handle this and is on your side, yes? Can you go talk to them informally, as a mentor, and ask them what you should do? I realize that runs the risk of getting back to your boss, but I’m hoping there’s someone there who is impressed by your work ethic and tenacity and realizes how much you bring to work, who would be willing to help you think through how you are going to handle this.

      My concern is that you need/want to be evaluated on your performance, not your accent and if this guy can’t get past it, then you will have a real problem on your hands. You have a lot to be proud of, and I’m sure there are people where you work who are really impressed with you. There’s no doubt you earned your new spot.

      This might be one for the Carolyn Hax response: “Wow.”

    16. Not So NewReader*

      OP, you have the right to feel offended when ever you feel offended. No one can take our feelings away from us. It’s what we do with our feelings that matters the most.

      I hope at some point you can turn this whole conversation on its head. Your boss lacks the ability to work with a diversity of people. (I’m not always great at it BUT I am willing to learn more. Your boss does not seem willing to learn more.)
      Successful people come from all kinds of backgrounds* and he does not seem to understand this basic concept. There are lists on the internet of people who came up out of poverty and/or extremely abusive environments and went on to having amazing careers. Please give him one of these lists.
      You can also point out that there are extremely well off people who went on to living life on the street or in a shack because they blew through everything they had. The stories go both ways. Class level does not insure success. I can’t tell you the number of ivy league grads I know who have done NOTHING with their lives.

      *Stories: My friend had an uncle who married into his family. This uncle was orphaned very young. He started working in X arena as a teen. He worked his way up. He became a multi-millionaire who rubbed elbows with some of the richest people in the world.

      Conversely, a friend of mine handled the books for a fairly wealthy family. The parents were okay, the kids… they had problems. My friend got tired of writing out checks to the adult children when she KNEW for a fact the kids were just going to it snort up their noses.

      FWIW, your story is inspirational to me. I had a tear or two come up as I read along. I will use your story to give myself a kick in the butt on days when I am slacking.
      Rock on, OP. There’s assholes everywhere, don’t let them get in your way or even slow you down. Keep setting your goals and going after those goals, this guy is a temporary hurdle in your day/week. Step over him, step around him, whatever and keep rockin’.

    17. Doriana Gray*

      You were not wrong to be offended, your boss and grandboss were wrong for voicing their ignorant opinions to you in the workplace. It just goes to show that money doesn’t buy class (or apparently manners).

  41. Callie*

    About a month ago, I wrote in an open thread asking for advice on what to wear to an academic interview. WELL, I GOT THE JOB!!!!! A full time, tenure track job with the option of summer teaching. I’m so excited! I’m still waiting on the final formal offer letter from the provost, but I spoke to the dean a few days ago. I haven’t told anyone at my current job yet, because I’m waiting for that formal offer letter. BUT I GOT A JOB!!

    now to plan another cross country move…

    1. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

      YAY! What did you end up wearing? :) Welcome to the tenure track!

  42. El Rugg*

    What is the etiquette for emailing a coworker who is on vacation? I definitely think calling someone who is on vacation should only occur if there is a true emergency, but what about email? If something comes up and there’s a quick question, is it better to email them knowing they won’t see it until they get back? Or hold off until they do return?

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      Do you mean emailing their work email address? I’ll do that and write something like, “Hi X, I know you’re on vacation, so when you get back and have a moment to answer this, could you let me know Z?”

      I would never email their personal email address while they were on vacation, though.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      Is there anyone else you can ask? Like…their boss or coworker?

      If not, I’d email there work address and ask them to get back to you when they come back.

    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I would say just send it. I know I’ll come back to a lot of emails, but I would rather have them in my inbox than a deluge on Monday (I usually will spend time sorting through my inbox the night before I head into the office_.

      If you want you could put something in the subject line like “[Can be handled after 4/25] Quarterly Teapot Earnings Question”

    4. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I usually write the email but then save it in my drafts folder until the day they get back. That way I won’t forget about the message/question, but I don’t worry about the recipient feeling pressured to respond during vacation.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      I would put “not urgent – wait until you are back to read” or something similar in the subject line…

      1. Kyprea*

        This is what I do. I’ll put a subject like “Non-urgent: Contracts need your signature” or “For after your vacation: Where is the office waffle maker?”

    6. Beezus*

      I send the email when I think of it. If I know they are reading email and what I’m asking for is time consuming, I am careful to clarify that the request is for when they return, and spell out a need-by date.

  43. AnonForThis*

    So I read that article about sick systems. It could be based exactly on my work. It’s given me the kick I need to start looking elsewhere, especially because it explained some of the disordered thinking that’s convinced me to stay before.

    To complicate matters, I’m friends with my boss outside of work and his non-work persona is every bit as bad. I’m terrified of going non contact, even though I know I need to.

    Any tips or anything from people who have escaped themselves?

  44. NGL*

    Wondering about etiquette on asking a former coworker for a professional contact…

    I worked with a contact (dedicated to my industry) for a social media network at Old Job, and have lost her contact info in the transition to New Job. I assumed that someone here would have the contact’s info, but apparently New Job has never dealt with this network on a corporate level before (I’m shocked!). So I’m thinking about asking a co-worker I’m friendly with from Old Job if she can send me the contact’s e-mail address (I’ve googled extensively and I can’t find any contact info online).

    But I want to be sure that this would be an okay exchange of info and wouldn’t seem weird! Any advice?

    1. Sarah Nicole*

      I think that if you had her contact information before (I’m assuming she gave it to you willingly), then it should be fine to ask for it from someone you know has it. It’s not like you’re asking for a stranger’s contact info to randomly contact her when she doesn’t already know who you are. :)

  45. ELW*

    Any advice for how to list on my resume – especially a federal resume – multiple positions at the same organization? The positions were very similar but with increasing responsibility (say, Teapot Policy Assistant, Associate, and Analyst) over nearly 5 years total. My job duties stayed very similar – nothing much fell off my plate, I just got more responsibility and oversight in doing them independently, or leading rather than assisting with the projects. That makes it hard to describe the jobs separately on my resume without a lot of repetition, so I’ve often listed the titles & dates together with one block of text describing the job duties for all 3 positions. But now I’m working on federal resumes for the first time, and wondering if that approach still holds. Or if not (if I should list and describe each position separately), any advice on how to do so without a lot of repetition? Thanks!

    1. KR*

      I’m having this problem. My job has evolved and turned into so many different things over the years it’s hard to list it in a clear way on a resume.

    2. Sualah*

      No idea on the federal resume, but it was suggested to me to do it like this:

      Current Employer, Current Job Title, Start Date – current
      Promotions: Job Title 1 to Job Title 2 (date), Job Title 2 to Job Title 3 (date)

      All job duties for all levels listed above as bullet points.

      Alison may have a better suggestion, but this has worked for me at my (extremely) large company (but I have mostly been doing internal transfers, not applying out).

    3. LC*

      Personally, I’d list the job title in bold, then underneath list Most Recent Position in italics (along with the dates you’ve held that particular position) and bullet-pointed achievements. Below that put your prior position at the company in italics (along with dates of employment) and beneath that relevant bullet points. Etc.

      So it would look something like:
      Teapots Inc. Somewhere, IN
      Teapot Policy Associate, Jan. 2015 – Present
      -Managed ten-person department, increasing teapot productivity by X% over Y months
      Teapot Policy Analyst, March 2014 – Dec. 2014
      -Designed and implement new teapot delivery system, reducing shipping error by Z%
      Teapot Policy Assistant, Nov. 2013 – Feb. 2014
      -Coordinated accounts for twenty-person teapot team

      If you’re focusing on achievements (rather than duties) in each position, there should be enough to differentiate each position, and it may give the reader a better sense of why you were promoted and what your new responsibilities were.

      However, if your jobs really were quite similar, you might just list your prior positions as a bullet point, like:

      Teapots Inc. Somewhere, IN
      Teapot Policy Associate, Nov. 2013 – Present
      -Managed ten-person department, increasing teapot productivity by X% over Y months
      -Designed and implement new teapot delivery system, reducing shipping error by Z%
      -Coordinated accounts for twenty-person teapot team
      -Previous positions: Teapot Policy Assistant (Nov. 2013 – Feb. 2014); Teapot Analyst (March 2014 – Jan. 2015)

  46. all aboard the anon train*

    So, something came up in the office yesterday that I’d love to get people’s opinions about. I found out a coworker is moonlighting during work hours.

    This coworker, let’s call her Jane, is actually a former team member. I switched from her team to a different team six months ago because my former team was pretty toxic, so I don’t really work with her anymore. But when I did work with her, it was awful. She never did any of her work and passed it off complaining that it was too hard to understand or no one told her how to do it (despite the fact that we have multiple training docs on the processes and people sat with her to teach her – but she wanted someone to sit with her every single time she did a project). She’s been at the company for over 5 years and is not new to the workforce (she’s at least 20 years older than me). I ended up doing most of her job and my former boss was okay with it because Jane was her favorite and she didn’t want to overwhelm her.

    Jane used to disappear for long stretches during the day claiming she was so stressed she needed a walk or that she had a medical appointment. Come to find out, she was at masseuse classes. Now she’s taking her long breaks or “medical appointments” during the day to meet with clients. I found out from someone in a different department who actually scheduled a lunch time massage and saw Jane there, and when she looked up the massage company’s scheduling online, she said that Jane has available appointment times scheduled periodically throughout the work week – sometimes up to three hours a day. I checked out of curiosity and it’s true. Today, for instance, she has available slots available from 11 – 1 and then from 3 – 4.

    My former boss wouldn’t actually do anything if she found out. I feel bad for the two former team members I left behind who are now dealing wit Jane’s flakiness and having to do her work. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with moonlighting in a different industry – I do freelance work, but I don’t think it’s okay to work a second job while you’re working your first job. Should I say something to someone or ignore this completely?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’d report it because she is stealing form the company. She is being paid to be there working, and instead she is working for someone else.
      I am a massage therapist part time and I work after hours and on weekends and do my 9-5 job during the day. There are plenty of places to work outside of office hours. Wow.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I know! I freelance after hours and on the weekends, but I would never consider doing freelance work during the workday.

        1. Anonymosity*

          I’ve done it, but ONLY after all my primary work was done and on unpaid lunch hours. And it didn’t require me to leave the premises.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            When I read “moonlighting during their workday” my eyebrows disappeared into my hairline. At SecondJob, someone had apparently done just that, passed on projects because they were “too busy” and then when they were away one day, someone went on their computer to retrieve some work and found… all kinds of projects that weren’t on the company docket. Needless to say, their term of employment was drastically short after that and it became a cautionary tale/gossip that was spread around.

            I can sort of understand that if you’ve got some sort of side business, you might need to answer some quick e-mails during the day or take a call during lunch. But to leave for hours a day to take classes to become a masseuse? Wow. That takes some extra strong lady balls. It’s one thing if this is some sort of arrangement Jane has with her boss and she’s not getting paid for the time she’s taking off/is effectively now a part-time employee, but if she’s still getting paid for that time? Double wow.

    2. LCL*

      What Jane is doing would get her fired where I work. I would send her boss a link to Jane’s online schedule. You aren’t outing her; she is outing herself by posting her availability on line.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I really don’t think Jane’s boss would do anything based on my experience with her. I was considering sending it to Jane’s boss’s boss or HR.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          This is what I’d do. I’d maybe include a note to the effect of “I hate feeling like I need to go around Boss, but based on my past experience on his team, I’m concerned it wouldn’t be addressed at all.” Added bonus that you’re calling out Jane AND the boss that enables this awful behavior.

    3. Sunflower*

      I would talk to Jane’s co-workers. I mean, I’m 99% sure this is what is going on but…idk. In order to go forward, the proof you’d present is a little shaky- mostly because you’d have to say X employee saw Jane there. Also, what if Jane was taking PTO during this appt? Not likely but I’m putting myself in Jane’s shoes who, if she is crazy enough to try to do this, she will come up with a ton of ways to deny it.

      If it was Jane’s coworkers they might have a better case saying ‘Jane frequently disappears throughout the day and it’s interfering with her work because of X and Y. I’m not sure if Jane took PTO at the time but another employee saw her working somewhere else mid-day.’

      If I was them, I would definitely escalate it though if former boss refuses to do anything. Something tells me former bosses boss would not be happy about her handling of this.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        It definitely wasn’t PTO because she made a point at the end of last year to say that she had all her vacation and sick days to use up before they were lost in the new year.

        I definitely worked with her when she was disappearing and it interfered with my work, but there wasn’t much I could do because my former boss just told me to take over Jane’s projects. My former coworkers still on the team are now in that situation. So basically, nothing has really changed from when I worked on the team 6 months ago, just that we now know the reason for her long absences during the work day.

        Though I don’t think the evidence is that shaky because there’s an online schedule with her name and the massage place has her profile and times of availability listed, so it’s not like she’s hiding that she’s working two jobs at the same time. Maybe she thought she’d never get caught?

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Okay, I say definitely, but I’m 99% sure it wasn’t PTO just because at the end of the year her calendar marked her out of the office for three and a half weeks which is all out PTO, vacation, and sick time combined.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I think HR would take this very seriously – I’d go talk to them instead of your boss. We recently fired someone for working on his online sneaker business from the office (using the mailroom’s resources and his work computer). He was warned once, didn’t stop, and got fired.

      1. Rubyrose*

        I don’t know where people like this get the nerve to do these things!

        I had someone once who was using company time and resources to write a monthly newsletter for a national political party. When confronted with it, there was no remorse.

  47. AndersonDarling*

    I run a program that has really high licensing fees. Every once in a while someone will ask for a license and I feel like it is wrong to say the equivalent of “It’s really expensive and what you need isn’t worth it.” So I beat around the bush asking what they need and providing it from other sources. I think this non-direct method may make me look like a jerk for only letting the star employees have access.
    Am I being to sensitive and I should just say, “This costs $XXXX. We can’t invest that into your request.” It just sounds crass to quote dollar amounts.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think it’s totally okay to say, “Okay, can you give me more information about what you need it for? and “Actually, this license is pretty expensive and I think you can do what you need with [resource] instead.”

      I have some oversight for our purchasing and people have no idea what stuff costs, and I have to redirect them all the time using language like the above.

    2. another IT manager*

      Does the license come out of your budget or theirs? I usually tell my people something like “It’s $XXX, paid annually.” Responses range from “Oh, nevermind,” through “Let me check with my boss,” all the way to, “Yeah, go ahead. You want an email for backup?”

      Technically, I think the money comes out of my budget, but some people don’t really understand the idea of licensing and think that if we have one license we can put it on ALL the computers.

  48. Big Hat No Cattle*

    My company is in the process of being bought. It’s scheduled to wrap up later this year. Obviously, I’m keeping my eyes open for new opportunities outside of the company, but honestly – nothing has really appealed to me. I like my job, like my coworkers, have a lot of flexibility, and it doesn’t stress me out too much and I really hate to give that up…unless it was an out-of-this-world opportunity.

    Since the acquisition was announced last year, people have been leaving left and right. Generally speaking, we are really short staffed and people are being asked to do “less with more.” They aren’t backfilling positions unless they are very critical to the business.

    I’m debating on whether or not to stay until it’s “my time to go” or really taking anything that’s comparable to what I have now.

    1. Searching*

      I wonder if we work for the same company? ;) Except in our company, people appear to be hanging on to their jobs. I think the reason is that if they last until the deal goes through, and they are let go afterwards as part of post-acquisition downsizing, their severance package doubles.

      1. Big Hat No Cattle*

        Insurance? ;)

        I do know a lot of employees who have been here for a long time (10+ years or more) are hanging on because of the severance packages they are *supposed* to receive. But I’m pretty sure they aren’t being doubled. I’ve only been here 5 years, and according to what I’ve been told I would get, it’s not worth hanging on for.

    2. Ann Cognito*

      I would start your job search now. There are other good jobs out there offering the flexibility and good colleagues you currently have, but you might have to search a bit and that can take time. You’re in a good position because you can look while you have another job, and hopefully find something good that you like while still employed. Try to avoid waiting until you have no choice as then you’re under more stress and could end-up taking something just to have income. I mean, you could end-up in that situation, but right now you have the luxury of being somewhat selective.

  49. March*

    Tonight is my Iron Ring ceremony! It’s pretty special for newly-graduated engineers in Canada, I’m excited.

    On another note, I leave next week for a three-week vacation to celebrate my graduation. Which is great and I’m excited, but since I’ve applied to a couple jobs, I’d hate to be contacted for an interview and then not respond because I’m out of town. I’m going to put an out-of-office message on my email, saying that I’m out of town until May [X] and I’ll respond within a few days, but I don’t know if there’s anything else to do. Is there anything else I should do?

    1. Ralish*

      Are you going someplace that will have Wi-Fi access? If so, I’d recommend checking email every so often.

      1. March*

        It’s a tour of eleven countries in Europe, so I would think that the hotels would have Wi-Fi for guests. I’ll definitely check every few days though.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Even hostels have wifi and computers so you can check your e-mail. You’ll be fine!

    2. Sadsack*

      Forward your work phone to voicemail and have a great vacation! You might add in your message that they can call Bob in an emergency or something like that, if it is appropriate.

      1. Sadsack*

        Oh geez sorry I completely misread your post. I was thinking you were leaving the office for vacation. Never mind!

    3. Jules the First*

      Congrats, March! That’s a big deal and a huge amount of work. Enjoy that vacation!

  50. Anon For This One*

    A few of you might remember when I posted a few months ago asking how long I should wait to be concerned that my new manager didn’t seem to be learning anything or engaging in the work of the team at all…well, I guess his boss went ahead and answered that question for me because he got fired yesterday. He still hadn’t gained any more knowledge than what he’d learned in his first or second week here, and the few projects he had picked up had made zero progress in weeks (these were projects anyone else on the team could’ve done in a couple days, including the 2 people who got hired after him). Never mind actually doing anything managerial – his team lead was basically running the department, including managing the few of us that don’t report to him (we reported directly to the manager).

    Really thrilled with his boss for going through with this. Seems like we never hear about stories here of ineffective managers actually being dealt with, so it was refreshing to see such cut and dry action being taken. Yet another piece of evidence for why she’s the best boss I’ve ever had.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I like this boss a lot. Nice to hear of a boss who is not afraid to do their job.

  51. Grey*

    If 10 of your customers are happy, they’ll always tell you. But if just one is unhappy, who do they call? HQ, of course. I wish there was a good way to tell the happy ones to call my bosses at the main office. I’d like to tell them but I imagine the conversation will go like this: “Grey wanted me to tell you what a great job he’s doing!”

    1. ZSD*

      Are the customers calling or emailing to tell you they’re happy? If they’re emailing, I think it’s fine to forward the emails to your boss as an FYI.

      1. Grey*

        It always in person, like, “Good morning. Hey, great job since you took over. It’s so much nicer here.” Or, I’ll go the extra mile for someone and hear, “Wow. Thank you. I really appreciate the job you’re doing.”

        My employer is very much concerned about our image at this location so it would be nice if they knew I was delivering.

        1. Sarah Nicole*

          Is there any type of survey system your company uses? Since you said “this location” I’m envisioning you work at a large company. If not, maybe that’s a fun initiative you or someone you manage could work on! I’ve seen these before, it’s typically something like a web survey or compliment phone number I can call that gets sent to me by email.

          Or, you could ask your boss if they would mind you sending out an informal customer satisfaction survey by email, and you could ask specific questions and leave room for comments. Then when you receive them back, simply forward to your boss. Not sure if these would be practical for you and your company, but just some ideas. :)

          1. Grey*

            That’s a good idea and not an unusual thing to do in this business (For context, I’m an apartment manager). Maybe I’ll attach a feedback form to my next newsletter so people can comment on the property and not just me, specifically.

            1. Sarah Nicole*

              Yay, so glad my suggestion might help! Good luck, if your customers have said these nice things about you, they’re sure to repeat them on such a survey.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      My husband and his friend once in a while would get people who were extremely complimentary. So they would point blank ask, “Will you tell my boss?” I can’t replicate the voice inflection here, but the voice inflection was soft/inquisitive. They were usually told YES, and the customer dashed off a letter/email to the boss.

      Where this starts is with you having a higher awareness of just how gushy the customer is, choose the customers that gush the most. Of course, people who ask what they can do for you, those folks are easy. It’s just a matter of having the wording prepared so you can answer them.
      Them:”You have done such a wonderful job here. Can I buy you a coffee for your ride home?
      You: No, you don’t need to buy me a coffee, but if you wanted to drop a line to my boss, it would go in my file and be a feather in my cap!

      Them: I tell everyone what a great job you do!
      You: Would you mind telling my boss, also?

      Them: Is there any small way I can give you a token of thanks for the super work you did here?
      You: Well as a matter of fact, if you have time, I know my boss loves getting compliments about his crew from customers.

    3. Roll Fizzlebeef*

      I once sent a “happy customer” letter to HQ after a very positive customer service experience. It seemed appreciated :)

      Not sure how you’d convince other customers to do that though.

  52. INTP*

    This topic came up in a couple of ways this week, so I thought I’d ask about my real-life situation. (Well, not mine, in that I’m not directly involved, but raised an eyebrow.)

    Thoughts on a former coworker, current somewhat-colleague (different company that works with the old company, small industry, still makes regular visits to the site) asking you if his kid can rent a room for an internship? Or a random acquaintance that you did not work with?

    My brother is likely to get an internship for my stepdad’s former employer in a very expensive city with a tight rental market. Stepdad thinks he’s going to email a bunch of people he knows offering rent money for them to give my brother a room for the summer and it’s going to work out easily (I do think he plans to offer slightly above market rate rent for a shared room so maybe someone will be glad to offer). Obviously this is a far cry from a boss sending his nephew to live in your house but it still seems a little intrusive imo – everyone else’s thoughts? (I don’t plan to interfere or need personal advice here, just curious in light of the discussions this week. Apparently expecting employees to house interns is A Thing for at least two parents on the planet?)

    1. the cake is a pie*

      There are two potential issues here. First, would any of the people he e-mails feel pressured to agree thinking that it would look bad to say no (e.g., if your stepdad is influential in the field)? Second, if your brother is in his teens or early twenties, it might come across as “millennials who have their parents do the work for them.” I know this is an obnoxious stereotype but it’s sadly something that people seem to believe and so could make an iffy impression.

    2. Jacket*

      I agree with The Cake is a Pie. However I do think this is a little different, because stepdad is emailing people he knows — ie friends, yes? Not current employees? and he’s offering fair monetary compensation? I mean it might be better for brother to email saying, “stepdad said I should reach out to you.” But reaching out to your friends and offering them three months of rent money to house your kid is pretty reasonable, and even if your stepdad *is* super duper influential in the industry, it’s a request, not a requirement. But it would obviously be best if he clearly understands he’s asking for a big favor. And having brother do the contacting would be good practice for brother, but depending on the contacts it may actually just make more sense for stepdad to reach out — plus it gives him a chance to reconnect with some folks. There is some potential awkwardness but I think you have to just trust your stepdad’s instincts on this one. Those contacts may not be able to offer a room but they may be able to refer him to someone looking for a roommate or subletter for the summer. I dunno, I think it’s probably fine.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      I think Stepdad would do better to e-mail these friends of his a generic “Son has an internship at XYZ for the summer and we’re looking for a rental for him. Does anyone know of a sublet or a place that rents rooms in a good/nice/clean/safe/whatever area? We’re hoping to pay $ThisMuch but we are not certain if that is a reasonable amount.” and then leave it up to the friends if they want to clear out a room and make some money on the side. These friends might have some leads or ideas on places that are available. Sometimes when I’m driving, I’ll see “room for rent” signs up that are probably not listed with an agency or online.

      1. TootsNYC*

        he can add, “Or do you know anyone reliable who’d be willing to rent him a room in their home for the summer?”

        And leave the ‘hint, hint’ unsaid.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely third party the request and let people self-select.

        As DB is saying here, “Does anyone know of anyone who has rooms…..”

  53. NoName for this*

    Can people who work in payroll tell me if all the jobs are understaffed or otherwise time consuming?

    I am close to someone who had a payroll job for a small company. The company kept adding new business units — mostly under 50 employees — and payroll kept growing and getting more complicated because new workers were in other states, including California. The job went from around 60 hours a week to 70-plus hours a week when the company made a disorganized transition from Ceridian to ADP.

    The worker finally escaped last November to a job that looked like, based on a lot of probing during the interview process, to have more reasonable hours. But the department was reorganized and then the hiring manager left for another job where the hours would be more reasonable. In addition, another payroll worker left abruptly, leaving no instructions for the payroll responsibilities she handled. All of a sudden, the two departures meant the two people remaining in payroll were doing the work of three. They are exhausted.

    The employer says there is no money for additional staff. Both payroll workers are job hunting, but they are so tired they may not be coming across very well. And it isn’t like they can decide to put off any of the work because it is lower priority.

    Are all salaried payroll jobs this kind of indentured servitude? How is it possible to find out whether the job will be every-night-and-weekend? And is there temp work for Certified Payroll Professionals who want a life?

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      I’ve had two payroll jobs and one was kind of how you described, and the other was for a huge company with a lot of structure so the hours were totally normal. However, the one with the normal hours was hourly and the one with the crazy workload was salaried.

      I would think longer term temp work in the form of coverage for LOA, etc. would be available.

      1. NoName for this*

        Thanks. I am just standing at the sidelines watching someone I care about work themselves into exhaustion. They know it is bad, but management seems to be indifferent.

  54. Ad Astra*

    So, I’ve got my first review at my newish job coming up, and I’m supposed to fill out some paperwork on my own ahead of time. The paperwork asks me to identify one thing about my performance that needs to change. I’ve been thinking about this for days and I have no idea what to write. As far as I know, I’m doing everything right. I haven’t received any negative feedback. I’m very interested in my manager’s answer to this question, because there’s always something I could do to improve. I just don’t know what that that is.

    How do I deal with this? Obviously, I don’t want to write “Actually, I’m perfect, so this doesn’t apply to me.”

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve answered similar questions with “I’d like to build better relationships with my co-workers.” It’s an easy out for a tough question.

    2. Confused Publisher*

      If you were evaluating yourself as an outsider, is there anything you do where you feel even slightly less confident than in other areas, whether that be a process or a discrete task? I found that quite useful as a starting point even though I was beating my set targets by miles.

    3. Ad Astra*

      I’m going to give these answers some thought, but for context, my job is proofreader at an advertising agency. The primary way of measuring my success/failure is how many times we have to write off an expense because of a mistake. Since I got here, there have been no write-ups. So, it’s kind of a weird job because I do essentially the same task all day. I think my managers will have some useful feedback in this meeting, but it will be the first time I’ve heard any of it.

      Maybe I should focus on learning more stuff, rather than doing something better?

    4. ThatGirl*

      I tend to say things like “continue learning as standards change” or “continue to improve processes” … basically, keep doing what you’re doing and keep learning on the job.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Everyone can always grow, so say that you are not sure how you can grow yourself at this point and you would like help figuring this out.

  55. Leaving post-promotion*

    Hi all, is there an amount of time that needs to pass after a promotion before it is considered acceptable to look for a new job? I was in an interview the other week and got a question from an interviewer to the effect of “You got promoted last year. Why are you leaving? That seems really soon.” At that point about 16 months had passed. I think I answered well, but it threw me off. Thoughts on how to answer?

    1. Erin*

      Hm, yeah 16 months isn’t nothing. I suppose it also depends on how long you’ve been with the organization.

      Remember, they’re looking for stuff that could be red flaggy, and they want to ensure you won’t leave them right away if you’re hired. In this case, they must be wondering, “If I hire her and she does well, and we promote her, will she then use that to just move up the ladder somewhere else?” So just try to address that in your answer.

      You could also say something like, “I actually am really happy with my role and responsibilities since getting promoted, but the job ad for this position just kind of fell into my lap. I’d been following your organization for awhile and I’m really interested in X work that you do – I figured it couldn’t hurt to throw my hat in the ring and have a conversation about it.”

      1. Leaving post-promotion*

        Thx! I was struggling b/c in my current org is that we tend to take on more work and responsibilities long before we ever get money/title change, so I was struggling on how to say that without sounding negative or raising some other issue/red flag.

  56. Anon for this*

    Regular commenter going anon. Last week I posted about what I thought was a promising conversation with a hiring manager about my interest/background for a potentially great position for which I’m an excellent candidate. I still hadn’t heard anything from the hiring manager about first round interviews for this position, so I reached out to a colleague in the know who said that the hiring manager has completed first-round interviews and on-site interviews are going to people who have little to no experience working in this type of organization. I’ve seen a number of orgs in this field appear to be hell-bent on the new/shiny/disruptive candidate (who often doesn’t work out). Unfortunately, I think I resemble the last person in this role too closely, and they’ve decided to go very much outside-the-box with this hire. Very frustrating to be a well-qualified and experienced candidate who couldn’t even land the first-round interview. Time to figure out for which role I’M the “disruptive candidate” and go for that.

    1. Mirilla*

      That sucks. What a ridiculous way to go about hiring. I hope you find something even better!

  57. Delyssia*

    How do you tell your boss, who works in another office a few states away, that you’re at your breaking point? To complicate it further, I suspect that my manager can’t do more than sympathize, and it’ll take director involvement to actually make any changes. I don’t want to start off by going over my manager’s head, but I also don’t want to sit and listen to meaningless sympathetic noises.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “Boss, I have A, B, C, D, E and F on my plate. I also need to look at G, H and I. Then there is J and K that I cannot even get next to. I am discouraged to the point of overwhelmed. What can we do here?”

      My one question to you, is it reasonable that the manager or director can even fix the situation?

      1. Delyssia*

        I talked to the director a couple months ago about the fact that my current workload is not sustainable long term, and she talked about the possibility of hiring someone to take part of it within the next few months. I have no idea if that will be moving ahead soon or not, but when I wrote my question above (I’m in a better mental place now than I was yesterday morning), I was about ready to just quit. I was running through scenarios on how long my savings would last, what kind of job I could get quickly to get by for a while, etc.

        And the thing is, I know that as soon as I give notice, they will be ready to do whatever they can to keep me. I just don’t know how to get them to take it seriously that I’m at my breaking point without actually turning in my notice, since I feel like that’s pretty much the nuclear option here.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Unfortunately all we have is our words.
          “I need us to talk about this and I need you to take me seriously.”

          “I really need help here. I cannot sustain this workload. What is the time frame for getting help on this?”

          ” We have discussed this before and I feel that I have failed to get across how serious this situation is. I can not sustain this work load. I need help. With each week that goes by the situation gets worse. I have been doing this for x months. What is the time line for change in this situation?”

  58. Mimmy*

    Another question – In a nutshell: Anyone here feel that they write way better than they speak? I think this has affected me professionally, and it’s disheartening.

    Last week, I attended a lecture and panel and came to a horrible realization: I think I come across a little….stupid…around professionals. I can write a high-quality paper on a topic of interest, no problem. I can also understand discussions of topics and I nod in agreement and am filled with passion for the topic at hand. Yet, when *I* start to speak off the cuff about a topic, hardly anything coherent comes out of my mouth. I just want to be able to have an intelligent conversation with other professionals and even people or families seeking advise.

    I think that might be the heart of my problem: I know in my head that I’m probably better suited for something that doesn’t involve a lot of public interaction (working with information or data, for example), but there’s a part of me that misses the direct contact work and mourns the fact that it takes me too long to process a person’s situation and come up with suggestions. Maybe it’d just take some practice. And forget about urgent or crisis situations :/

    As the song says, I should just “let it go”. (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

    What I probably need is a career counselor, but between my own experiences and what I’ve read here on AAM, I’m a little skittish to go back to my previous resources; plus, I know private ones can be expensive.

    Sorry I know I keep harping on this. But I’m determined to make something happen once I’m done with school at the end of May.

    1. Mimmy*

      Ha! I talk about writing better than I speak, and I write: “…and even people or families seeking advise“?? Should read “advice”

    2. S0phieChotek*

      I hear you. I think I write pretty well (when I take the time) but in front of people or people I do not know well, I think I sound rather uninteresting and incoherent. Some people (often I think of professors and preachers) seem to be able to speak passionately and coherently with (few/no) notes…and I am always envious of those types!

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      Yes! My problem is that I have too many thoughts and they all tend to overlap so sometimes I’ll lose track of which one I want to talk about. So sometimes I just ramble, which is pretty awful and no one likes a rambler.

      I also had this problem growing up when we had to go around the room and read aloud. I always read faster than I spoke, so I’d stumble over words because I couldn’t read them aloud as quick as I was reading them in my mind (if that makes any sense). I was always afraid it made me look stupid.

    4. Ad Astra*

      I’m definitely a much stronger writer than speaker. I find that I really struggle in offices that are particularly formal, while a more casual environment does a better job of masking this shortcoming. I also don’t interact with the public or clients at all in my position, so it doesn’t come up a lot.

      Practice, though, is your best bet.

    5. Myrin*

      Oh man, I feel you on the writing better than speaking. I’m on my way to becoming an academic in German literary studies. I am German and I am in Germany. I should be a great speaker. I’m widely known among my professors and peers for writing excellent papers. And yet… I basically just arglbargl when you meet me in real life. I mean, if I really commit to it or when I don’t think about it at all, I can speak very well (for example, I teach a class and generally find myself being very eloquent there) but when I’m in some kind of inbetween-no-man’s-land it just becomes blablubb. (As an example, I met with my mentor/advisor today regarding something about my studies, but it was an informal meeting and I basically just blubbered my way through it. Fortunately he knows that I don’t write like that.)

      As an additional hurdle, I almost exclusively read English stuff which makes so many English words come to me faster than the German ones. Highly embarrassing for a native speaker in general and especially so for someone whose entire job is being good at Germaning. I just cringe hearing myself talk sometimes and I need to really commit to reading high-level German literature again because bah! (The eloquence, here it is again.)

      1. Tau*

        Shall we have a mutual huddle of woe re: bad Germaning? I also almost exclusively read in English, and although at least my job is in no way based on my ability to German, I still feel miserable at how badly my written German has atrophied. It takes me a lot more focus to read German than English, when I speak German now it generally comes out severely Denglish and peppered with English words because I can’t think of the German ones, and my written German is a mess. I keep meaning to read something in German – the Spiegel, Faust, effing children’s books even, because I know it’s just being out of practice. And then I come home and open up the English-language blogs and crack open the English-language books.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Yes – this is difficult for me. Actually, I have difficulty following meetings and getting a grasp on outcomes, especially when they aren’t clearly outlined in the meeting. And I have difficulty talking on the phone (work, life, doesn’t matter). I find it hard to organize my thoughts coherently and make an argument speaking, but written? No problem – easy as can be.

      I think its partly due to shyness and partly due to lack of self confidence and partly due to something about how my brain processes information. I work with plenty of people who DONT stop to think and just start talking and utter, senseless crap comes out of their mouths most of the time, and they think its gold.

      Ive been in the workforce 15 years in a counseling type role (but not social work) and this is still a problem that comes up, only it seems to have gotten worse in the last 5 years when I have had managers who came down on me like a ton of bricks for not speaking up in meetings, which just drove greater anxiety. Its a little easier now with my current boss and workplace, but hes a phone talker (and I usually have to edit most of his written communication for clarity) and his big thing has been to get me talking on the phone more frequently. Sometimes I wish people would just let me be!

    7. Tau*

      This is… not exactly the same, but I have a speech disorder that likes to rear its head on a regular basis. Apart from the basic frustration of wanting to say something and it not coming out, one of the consequences of this is that I am pretty sure a lot of people are going to initially misjudge me based on my speech – I know the stereotypes stuttering gets tagged with and they’re not good.

      In all honesty, the way I deal with it is mainly just… ignoring it. *g* I figure that as I spend time around people it’ll become clear that I am actually a perfectly intelligent, confident, capable person who just so happens to have a neurological issue that makes talking a little tricky sometimes, and anyone who fails to see that is someone whose opinion I shouldn’t care about anyway. Getting worked up about it will just make me overly anxious when meeting new people which will exacerbate the whole thing. I can’t control the first impression I make, but first impressions aren’t everything and time will give the other person a more well-rounded picture of who I am and what I’m capable of.

      Your mileage may vary, particularly since for me fixing the underlying problem is not an option and it may be for you.

      1. Jen*

        Do you mind if I ask for an honest opinion? I don’t hear very well and one of the offices I go to in order to pick things up has someone with a stutter. I don’t always wear my hearing aid since I am just out and it is a ‘hey, while you are in that city can you pick this up?” type situation.

        Since he is mostly the one I interact with I feel like I am insensitive when I ask him to repeat what he has said, and I feel like telling him about my hearing issues comes across as an excuse but it is extremely hard in this situation to sub in some lip reading to make what I think I am hearing make sense.

        I am fine with hearing women’s voices most of the time since my loss is in a certain section of pitch (or whatever) and I have a much harder time with men.

        If you were the gentlemen in question, any idea of how to approach this better?

    8. Ama*

      Oh this is definitely me. I have two writing degrees and have been told by bosses that written communications are my strong point, but I seem to have trouble getting my point across sometimes in conversation (especially if it’s a conversation I don’t have advance notice of — I’m better in meetings/conference calls I have time to prepare reference sheets for but an unexpected phone call can really throw me off).

      Practice is your best bet, but if there are common topics that you find yourself stumbling over and you can put reference sheets somewhere that’s easy to see, that can really help (a lot of times, even just being able to quickly see the first part of, say, my cheat sheet on our grant eligibility criteria helps calm me down and get me focused).

    9. Peggy*

      I’ve heard good things from a variety of sources about Toast Masters. Chapters aren’t necessarily attached to companies, and it’s not exclusively about making public speeches. You get a supportive environmentto practice in and useful feedback. This kind of practice will eventually translate to other contexts.

      Improv class at a comedy club or local community college may help as well. Again, they provide a place to practice and get different ideas. They can be fun, too.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      It’d be sad if you let go of this just because you did not realize you needed practice or more familiarity.
      Yet I don’t want to push anyone toward something that they genuinely cannot do- because that is so wildly unfair.

      Is there anyone around you who you trust to give you truthful feedback?

      Personally, I think that I sound like an idiot every time I speak. But I look around and people are nodding and taking me seriously. With the written word, I can reread and beef it up. With the spoken word, once it is said, it’s over. I have come to the conclusion that many people understand the difficulty of expressing thoughts in a group setting and people cut us more slack than we realize. I have also seen people ask questions to help fill in my gaps that I make as I speak.

      Where’s this put me? I am probably an average (not great) speaker with bad self talk. Lighten up on your self talk and look at people’s faces. How are they reacting to you?

      I hope you laugh. Just recently I was at a meeting. I needed further info to do what they asked me to do. One person was CLEARLY getting very restless as my questions went on and on. Other people were answering my questions. Yes, I will watch myself the next time but I will not dwell on that one restless person either.

  59. fishy*

    I’m applying for an IT job at a middle school. On the part of the online job application where it asks you to upload documents like your resume and transcripts (and teaching certificate… I’m guessing they use the same application for both teachers and non-teachers, because this is definitely not a teaching job), one of the documents they want is a “letter of introduction”. I’ve never heard that term in the context of a job application before, so I’m not sure what they want. Is it like a cover letter? Or maybe I should say, how is it different from a cover letter? Or is it something else entirely? I’m probably overthinking this, I’m just worried that I’ll look clueless if I submit something that isn’t what they’re looking for.

    1. Sarah Nicole*

      I would submit my cover letter. It sounds like that’s sort of what they’re looking for. In a way a cover letter “introduces” you and gives an overview of who you are and why you’re seeking the position, so I’d say it is totally acceptable.

      1. fishy*

        Thanks! Good to hear a cover letter is probably okay. I submitted my cover letter, so hopefully that’ll be good.

        1. Sarah Nicole*

          Good luck in the process! Oh I should have mentioned before that I have applied for jobs that have requested a “letter of interest,” and I sent a cover letter, of course crafted specifically for that job and company. I got the job for one of those, by the way, so I guess it worked for them. Besides, I applied for the job, so why do I need to say I’m interested?! Lol, just seemed so weird to me.

  60. Milton*

    I dropped the ball. I think…

    My boss was supposed to get back to me about a one day conference she wanted me to attend. I was down and expressed my excitement to go, but then she told me to hold my horses and that we needed approval from her boss for me to go. I never got approval or at least heard that I got approval. I also never followed up due to several work emergencies and illnesses my boss had leading up to the conference. I don’t even want to go anymore.

    Anyway, my question is, is there a way for me to email her and let her know that she won’t see me at the conference without sounding like an asshat? Or do I just not say anything and pretend it never happened? Ugh, palm–>forehead.

    1. Ann Cognito*

      I would do nothing. If she says anything about it later, you can say you had assumed she hadn’t gotten the approval from her boss, since that’s where you guys left off with the conversation. If she says you should have followed-up you can say you know now to do that next time.

    2. Jennifer*

      I think everyone’s forgotten about the conference by now, so it doesn’t matter. Just let it go, don’t mention it.

  61. super anon*

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to get your managers to respond to your emails or make you a priority to meet with? My managers are absentee and both have full time positions, neither is seconded into the role. We do not have an on-site managing director. One is a surgeon and doesn’t live in the same city I do. The other is in the office sporadically (a handful of times a month, if that) , and is nearly impossible to pin down when she is in the office. I have been in my position for nearly a year and have never had a one on one meeting with both of my bosses without other people being present. This is important because it’s the only way to get a decision from them. I’ve tried going to just one boss with my issues but that didn’t work to get direction either, because both need to talk together to make decisions, etc.

    I send emails as my primary method of communication, but more often than not I never get a response. I’ve tried every tip posted here in previous threads to get responses. I title emails with the action in the title – if it’s urgent and needs a response I write URGENT: in the title & include a date. I’ve asked via email multiple times to meet with both of them because I am having major issues with a coworker telling me to look for another job, and I wanted to talk to my bosses about it, but they never respond to meeting requests. The only time they meet with me is when they want to assign me more projects, even though I am already doing the work of 2 people.

    I am getting increasingly anxious and burnt out over the lack of direction or help from my bosses. They need to approve everything I do, but getting them to do so is nearly impossible. I made a huge mistake 2 months ago that severely impacted a project I was working on, and I haven’t been able to move forward with it since then, nor have I gotten any feedback. I worry every day that I will be fired, because I never get any feedback or direction, or even contact with them. The other 2 people who report directly to my bosses have weekly 1:1 phone calls with them – this has never been offered to me. I don’t know if they realize I’m floundering, but I am at a loss of how to bring it up directly to them and to ask for these meetings, when they don’t respond to me any other time I try to get in touch with them.

    This isn’t normal right? Is it even changeable? I’m already looking for another job, but the going is slow in my field and there isn’t a lot of openings… so I just accept that this is how it is and try to deal with it, even though being left completely in the dark makes me extremely anxious every single day?

    1. Student*

      You should try to set up a weekly 1:1 like the others have. Don’t wait for the boss to initiate it, just put it on the schedule and make the call.

      I deal with this too in my job. I have no idea what exactly is going on with your work, but here’s what happened for me:
      I stuck with it, kept sending the emails for a long time with no response, doing whatever I could on my own initiative and occasionally seizing some power to get things done.

      My boss was sticking me with the projects he didn’t care about or expected to fail. He never checked in because he didn’t care about the projects and had no interest in how I was getting along. When something went well, he’d take credit for it as if he’d been deeply involved, or even give credit to other team members who were not involved at all. When something went badly, he’d badmouth me to various bosses – sometimes when I wasn’t even involved in the project. It took me a long time to catch on due to the major isolation, so by the time I figured out what was happening a lot of damage had already been done. I was basically his official scapegoat.

      I’m moving on now. It’s rocky, as I’m still in the same job position, but transferring to different project leaders/departments. However, normal people here don’t work like absentee boss does. They treat me like I’m worth talking to and treating as a colleague. It’s a reaffirmation that normal people don’t do business that way. If your boss doesn’t value your work, then your boss doesn’t value you either and you need to look elsewhere.

      1. super anon*

        It isn’t possible for me to set up and make a call with my bosses. We have no communal schedule for everyone to see, and because there is 3 of us they would have to phone in to our teleconference line. The only way to get a meeting with them is to work with their 2 assistants and our admin to get a time slot to speak with them, and even if you can manage to get a time, more likely than not it is cancelled for a more important priority. Because they both work other jobs and one is doing surgery & clinic appointments multiple days of the week, just deciding to call them doesn’t fly.

        It’s an incredibly frustrating system – I don’t know if it’s even fixable, tbph.

    2. MillersSpring*

      Have you tried send them a meeting calendar request, titled “Weekly 1:1”? If they decline, then tell them that, like Jane and Fergus, you really need a regular time to meet with both of them together. To me the weird part is that they’re doing exactly what you want with two other coworkers.

      1. super anon*

        No, because that wouldn’t work. I don’t know their schedules to find a free time when I could schedule the meeting for, and one of them doesn’t use outlook calendars for me to see a meeting request too. When I had tried to schedule something before (not a meeting with me, but an appearance at an event) I was told to contact their EA to book the meeting. However, any time I email the EA to try to pin down a time to meet my emails are ignored, and my phone calls aren’t answered either.

        1. super anon*

          … that was a lot ruder and more direct than I meant it to be. Ahh, sorry!

          I work in an environment where I can’t try to book anything with them directly, and my emails to them to ask if we can please meet are ignored. Our admin could possibly get me time to meet with them, but whenever I ask her she brushes me off as well, or drops the ball. It’s all very frustrating, especially because a lot of my projects are starting to fail because of the lack of communication.

          1. Student*

            There is nothing good in this for you. Look for a new job.

            If you’re not quite there, it’s past time to just tell your boss this:
            “I need a weekly 1:1 with you to keep projects moving forward. As previously discussed, I tried booking that through your EA a couple of times, but I can’t get on your calendar. How do you suggest we proceed from here?”

    3. another IT manager*

      How did the other two reports get 1:1 meetings? Are they 1:1 or 2:1? It sounds like trying to get all three of you on the phone at the same time is extra-complicated, so I’d try getting one at a time.

      As far as approval goes, I think there was a discussion a few weeks ago about how to deal with a boss who won’t approve Things What Need Approving. Basically, you want to tell them what you’re planning to do, give them a timeframe to object, and go ahead and do it if you don’t get an objection. So: “Jane, Fergus, I’m going to send this version of the teapot report out at 4 PM unless you want edits.” If they object, ask how they want you to get confirmation/approval.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Send them an email.
      “Bosses, I have been sending you emails but I do not see your replies. Please understand that if I do not touch base with you at regular intervals the projects are in jeopardy. I see that Bob and Jane have weekly check-ins with you. I am requesting weekly check ins starting this week. These projects are in jeopardy and I need your approvals/decisions and other time sensitive inputs. Without these inputs these projects will stagnate.”

      Conversely ask Bob and Jane for tips/suggestions on how to get the bosses to respond to you.

  62. Rocky*

    I have a new hire, Francesca, who does great work and is extremely smart, energetic, and driven. Her major assignment requires working with Beauregard, a manager in another department. Francesca has repeatedly raised concerns with me about Beauregard’s behavior. The concerns boil down to:

    1. He is often overbearing in verbal communication
    2. His response to email is slow, at best
    3. He doesn’t follow up consistently on important business with outside stakeholders
    4. He asks Francesca to do work that his team should be handling.

    For the record, Beauregard is my peer, I have a good relationship with him, AND I 100% agree with 1-4. To me it’s just annoying behavior from a new manager with a steep learning curve, but Francesca is much more concerned. She thinks that 1-3 in particular are damaging their relationships with important stakeholders, and could impact the success of their project. For example, Beauregard is our designated liaison to important collaborators in the Coffee Pots Division. Some people in the Coffee Pots Division keep contacting Francesca, even after she redirects them to Beauregard. Francesca thinks they want to work with her instead, because he’s so difficult.

    At our last one-on-one meeting, she went on for 10 minutes (yes, I timed it) about her issues with Beauregard, and concluded by saying she’s afraid he’ll drop the ball on their whole project. My response was, “How can I help you with this?” She said she wants me to “facilitate” things with Beauregard. I am pretty sure she hoped that I would go read him the riot act. What I told her was:
    1. We can both point out Beauregard’s overbearing communication neutrally, when it happens. For example, it’s fine to say, “Please don’t interrupt me,” or “You seemed really annoyed with that vendor rep – did I miss something?” But I’m not Beauregard’s manager so I can’t demand that he tone it down, or else.
    2. We’ve talked about how Beauregard doesn’t respond quickly to email, so it’s a good idea to stop by his office or set up a meeting when something is urgent.
    3. It’s not your responsibility to manage his business relationships. Don’t try to work with stakeholders on his behalf, schedule his meetings for him, or do damage control. If he mis-manages his relationships, it’s on him.
    4. I’ve talked with you and Beauregard about this before. You can’t help with teapot production because I need you to spend 100% of your time on teapot marketing. If he doesn’t agree with that, he can talk to me directly.

    Finally, I told her that if someone else drops the ball on a project she’s working on, she won’t be blamed. I think this is what a lot of the fretting is about – she’s new and has one high-profile project, and could be catastrophizing that if someone senior to her messes it up, she could be the scapegoat. I also think she’s expecting Beauregard to prioritize this project as highly as she does, when in reality it’s one of many high-priority projects he’s juggling.

    I just talked with Beauregard about how the project is going, and it was a totally unremarkable conversation. He did not indicate any kind of conflict with Francesca. I don’t agree with some of Beauregard’s approach to this project, but it’s going just fine. I don’t see a reason to escalate things because one of my staff is worried that he could cause something bad to happen later. If I saw evidence that Beauregard’s behavior was actually threatening the project or Francesca’s effectiveness, I’d definitely address it.

    Does this seem reasonable? Is there something here I’m not seeing?

    1. Sadsack*

      One thing I wonder us, how often is he attempting to give her work her team should do? Does she have to remind him every week that he needs to give that work to his team? I’d be frustrated if I were Francesca in that case, it is probably uncomfortable for her to have to keep telling a manager to do his own work.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, I had a situation once where someone kept trying to push projects on me. My boss had my back in the sense of saying ‘you can tell him no,’ but the overhead of saying “No, I don’t work on X,” “No, I don’t work on X,” “No, I don’t work on X,” over and over, week after week, sometimes with pushback that I then had to deal with (“oh but it would be easy for you, just tack it onto Y”) was demoralizing and wearying. In my case I finally had a meeting with my boss where I said, okay look, he has asked me to do something that is clearly his/his team’s purview fifteen times in the past ten weeks, and they’re the same things over and over, so it’s obviously not that he doesn’t understand the boundaries of my work vs. his team’s work–he’s just continuing to try for some reason. (Unspoken: because he’s trying to wear me down until I give up and do it, probably. Or he thought I was his to ‘borrow’ whenever I had ‘free time.’ Or something. I don’t know.)

        When she saw the numbers, she went, well crap, that’s clearly a problem, I can see why you’re frustrated. And she talked to him and the behavior stopped. But I doubt I would have stayed in that position long had she just said ‘oh, just keep telling him no.’

      2. Rocky*

        I think it’s happening a couple times a month. The first time the request was directed to me (can Francesca help us with this), and I said absolutely not, all her time is committed to xyz (I have my director’s backing on this as well. The answer is definitely ABSOLUTELY NOT). I get that it’s exhausting and demoralizing to have to keep saying no, even if you have 100% backing from management.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If he is still asking, that is a problem. He has been told no. He is earning every inch of disrespect that Francesca is starting to feel.

    2. Kelly L.*

      Well, my first instinct is to wonder if Francesca is actually right–maybe stakeholders are getting disgruntled, and maybe they tell her but don’t tell you, for whatever reason.

      But if you’re sure they’re not, I’d recommend just telling her “don’t worry about the stakeholders, they know how he is, and pretty much what you just told us–that if he screws up, it won’t come back on her.

      1. Rocky*

        Thanks. I’m going to just continue to reinforce “If someone else screws up, it’s not your fault.” If she had evidence of a disgruntled stakeholder I think she would tell me. Like if someone told her, “I know I’m supposed to talk to Beauregard about this, but he doesn’t respond to my emails and you do,” I would definitely escalate things.

    3. Student*

      She thinks this project is failing. That kills morale, especially in people who care deeply about their work.

      Your options are:
      (1) Convince her that the project is not failing. Are you sure it isn’t failing? She works on it – I’d think she’d have much better perspective than you do after a couple minutes of watercooler chat with Beauregard. He does not have much incentive to reveal to you that a project is flailing.

      (2) Convince her that even if the project fails, she will get something useful professionally out of it. Maybe that’s professional ties with someone more useful than Beauregard. Maybe that’s experience doing X, which is valuable to the company.

      (3) Put her on a project that’s doing better instead of putting her on a lousy project with a crappy manager. If she’s doing superlative work, why stick her with the train to nowhere instead of putting her where she can make a bigger impact and contribute to something successful?

      1. Rocky*

        She doesn’t think it’s failing. She loves working on it and is positive and excited about how it’s going in the moment. I know it’s not failing because I proposed it, got it funded, and track the major goals, which we’re meeting. It’s going just fine. She’s worried that the project *could* fail at some point because she doesn’t trust Beauregard.

        1. Student*

          See, you’re wrong there. You don’t think it’s failing. She thinks it is on the path to failure. She’s not escalating things to you for fun – she’s actually concerned.

          It’s absolutely reasonable for you to have a different opinion of the project – you have better perspective on this than she does for sure. It’s not okay for you to project what you think she should think onto her. That’s the assumption that is causing your communication difficulties here.

          Just set her straight on that point – the project is on the right track. Beauregard’s issues are not a big concern to you. You are happy with her performance. If you say those things and she keeps bringing up gripes about Beauregard, then it’s time to ask her something along the lines of, “Why are you bringing this to me?” or possibly the more soft “What specifically are you asking me to do?” I’ve had to have conversations with underlings that there are certain things they can vent to me about, and certain things they can’t vent to me about. If this is just about not wasting your time on this type of venting, then say so to her directly. It’s normal in some jobs for managers to be venting outlets for your underlings, and it’s also reasonable to set up bounds about that.

    4. MillersSpring*

      If it was me, I’d speak to Beauregard to ask him to address 1-4. His failings are directly affecting your diresmxt report’s ability to do her job, and ppl are trying to come to her rather than properly go to him. I think confronting him–firmly but politely re: 1-4, is definitely part of your role as Francesca’s boss. I wouldn’t characterize it to her as just his personality that everyone has to learn to adjust to if he truly has problematic behaviors.

      1. Rocky*

        Like I said in my original post, I would definitely do that if I saw evidence that 1-4 are directly affecting her ability to do her job and the success of the project. I don’t have that. In fact, everything is going fine – Better than I expected in some respects. I’m totally willing to say, “Beauregard, please don’t interrupt me,” but not, “As your peer, I’m asking you to change your behavior because Francesca thinks you might drop the ball on her project.”

      2. TootsNYC*

        yeah, i think she’s bringing you these things because she wants you to do somethign about it.

        she wants you, at the very least, to go to Beauregard and say, “I need you to stop pushing your team’s work onto my team.”

        And maybe even say, “I’m not happy with the brusque tone you use w/ my direct report; please be more civil to her.”

        i think you can and actually SHOULD do this. He’s your peer, so you can give peer-to-peer feedback.

        i’d be so frustrated. It wouldn’t matter that I wouldn’t be blamed!! I want to work in a functional, energizing setting. It’s not about blame; it’s about working well and with energy.

        1. MillersSpring*

          Exactly this. If you agree with her 1-4, you can go to Beauregard and address how he treats your team, and that ppl are bringing requests to Francesca instead of his team. More than her concerns about whether the project will fail, you have Francesca’s morale at stake and her probably surmising that you’re avoiding confrontation by not speaking to Beauregard. You don’t have to be someone’s manager to confront them and advocate on behalf of your team.

    5. AnotherFed*

      Does Francesca have the background and experience to be able to discriminate between major issues and minor ones? There’s lots of times that one person’s approach to a project or customer relationships is less effective than another way, but still nets an okay but not spectacular result or at least is not a failure. Meh/not-failing results may be fine to others (and even company leadership) if they free up resources for other things or otherwise work towards other priorities. 2-4 on your list of issues with Beauregard would tend to point towards that going on in the background.

      It sounds like you need to sit down with Francesca and make it clear that her priorities are almost never going to be completely aligned with someone else’s. If you and Beauregard both think status quo is mostly acceptable, make sure you tell Francesca that, and make sure she’s only being evaluated on her role/scope in the project. You also most likely need to stop letting her take over your 1:1s with rants about this. Give her tripwires for where she should loop you back in because it means things are getting worse, but other than that, shut it down and save your 1:1 time for more constructive things.

      1. Rocky*

        Wow, this is right on target, in so many ways. Thanks so much. To your first question, I think the answer might well be no, and I need to help her understand the difference. And yes, the 1:1 rants really need to stop.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I think you can go to the folks int he Coffee Pots Division and say, “I see that you guys have been going straight to Francesca instead of Beauregard, which means she gets derailed by rerouting you to him. Please be sure you’re not making her do that.”

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Look at it from her perspective. Beauregard is obnoxious, does not answer emails and is rude to stakeholders. She doesn’t think he can do his job because basically he can’t do his job. In many work places these behaviors are unacceptable.

      Additionally, no one wants to put their all into a job only to have the work lost/trashed because of someone else. Why would you show up for work? It’s a basic human need to make an actual contribution to the effort. Why would she do all that work, collect a paycheck and watch her work go in the waste basket when she could work for a company that actually valued her efforts and used it to grow their company in some manner?

      Yeah, she went on a ten minute rant. Because she probably heard you say, “It’s okay if you worked on X for weeks and your work gets lost because others dropped the ball. Don’t worry about it.”

      I worked with one guy who literally came right through behind me and took my work apart. He was three feet away from me and doing this. But I needed to learn how to get along. We had to recycle paper because “don’t waste paper” but human effort (labor) was perfectly fine to waste. I went through behind him and reset my work. The company did not mind paying me to do the same thing twice. And the company did not mind the lost revenues involved here. I totally hated having my work devalued so much. I gave up on the job.

      I know you can’t fix Beau but you can change your answers to your employee. The answers you are giving her are not resonating with her to the point of not helping her. She does not believe her work is valued by you or the company. Until you can show her that she is not wasting her time and that her work will get used by the company probably this process will continue.

    8. NicoleK*

      You see this as new hire Francesca fretting about one high profile project. While Francesca sees Beau as a major obstacle to her success. She is probably concerned about future raises, opportunities for promotions, external opportunities, and internal and external stakeholder perceptions of her. People generally form an opinion of new hires within 3-6 months and once negative opinions are formed, they’re very difficult to change.

      Several months ago, I was “Francesca”. And that is what my boss failed to see.

  63. Feeling hopeless*

    Anyone have any ideas on how to feel better about job searching when you are super hopeless? I have been trying to leave my employer for 7 years but it feels impossible as I always fail at the interview stage, and the job continues to be awful. I have read countless books (including Alison’s!) on job searching, had interview coaching 3 times and extensive therapy but nothing makes me believe I can actually get a job. Should I try career coaching or has anyone been able to turn around a seemingly hopeless job search? Do beta blockers work to make you less nervous in interview?

    1. Navy Vet*

      It took me 3 years to find a different job last time. And I felt hopeless. It sounds corny…but what worked for me was kind of pumping myself up before the interview…the whole time really. And make a conscious effort to not say mean things to yourself. Be nice to you. If you feel a little like Eyore, you might be presenting that way and it will make it harder for the interviewer to see how qualified you are as a candidate. Believe me, I know how hard it is not to get swallowed up in the misery of a job hunt that is not bearing fruit.

      Even just something simple…If you say it to yourself enough you will start feeling it.

        1. Navy Vet*