open thread – May 27-28, 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 :)

{ 1,263 comments… read them below }

  1. LotusEclair1984*

    First time in a full-time position as a cataloger in special collections. Working on performance self-assessment and goals. Any advice for setting goals? Does your workplace set benchmarks for productivity and/or performance evaluations? Thanks in advance!

    1. Jennifer M.*

      Do you know what the goals for your department/division are? That can help you set goals that feed in to what your team as a whole is supposed to do for the next year.

        1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

          This is really the first step – understand the organisational goals and how they relate to your department and therefore yourself.

    2. Jennifer*

      Depends on your job. I don’t know what a cataloger does, but what could you think of that would benefit you? Starting a project? Taking classes? (Usually that’s the only goal I’ve got, really.)

        1. MoinMoin*

          Ooooh I read Special Collections as some sort of debt collector. SMH, thanks for pointing that out.

          1. insert name here*

            Ha. Literally yesterday a vendor came to my library and mentioned that he’d been super confused about his meeting with “special collections” because he assumed it was the department responsible for collecting fines!!

    3. 12345678910112 do do do*

      If you’re in academia, or maybe even if you’re not, then scholarship and contributing to the librarianship profession should be one of your goals. Even putting down that you want to write a paper, attend a conference, or serve on a committee can help you get the space and money to do one of these things. And keep metrics for yourself! My department sends metrics reports out each month, and I email myself a copy that I keep in a special email folder to make my performance self-assessments easier to write at the end of the year.

    4. Donna*

      Librarian here, but not a cataloger. My workplace sets goals in terms of projects or professional development. This can be something that my organization specifically needs, something that I’ve noticed that we need to improve, or just keeping up with the latest trends.

      I don’t know much about the cataloging world of librarianship, but I personally would stay away from having too many personal productivity goals.

      If your career plan is to be a professional librarian and eventually move up within your organization, then you should select goals that benefit the whole organization, the field of librarianship, or the field you support with the special collection. One example might be learning more about the capabilities of the library management software and presenting it to other staff members. Or if the cataloging department is chronically behind, then a goal might be to research and develop some productivity metrics in conjunction with other staff members. (On second thought, maybe not—your coworkers might not appreciate a new person coming in and scrutinizing their productivity.) Maybe the cataloging procedures manual needs to be updated? Belonging to a professional organization is a must.

      I do think at the beginning of your career it’s fine to say, “I’ve learned more about cataloging X, and have therefore increased my speed and accuracy” as a self-evaluation, but if you focus too much on that aspect of your job, you run the risk of casting yourself as a worker bee rather than someone who wants to try new projects and is interested in moving up. (Although, there’s nothing wrong with being a cataloger—I know several who love what they do and aren’t interested in moving up.)

      That said, still keep metrics even if you don’t use them in your performance evaluation. Most of the world doesn’t know what librarians do all day, and occasionally we must drag out our metrics and prove our worth.

    5. Seal*

      Academic librarian and department head here. I tell my entry-level librarians to keep track of all of their achievements, letters of appreciation, professional development activities from the minute the walk in the door because they’ll need them for performance evaluations and promotion. Set up a folder on your computer and in your email if you’ve not already done so.

      Presumably your department will set benchmarks for productivity with regard to cataloging, although any halfway decent department head should know that cataloging statistics only tell part of the story. Mention any special projects you worked on, backlogs or problems you resolved, additional training you had, etc. As far as setting goals goes, don’t go overboard; 4-5 per year is plenty. Make sure they’re ALL related to work or professional development with measurable outcomes, e.g. process the Westros map collection or volunteer for the chair of the Library’s committee on teapot collecting. Goals should NOT be along the lines of “keep an open mind about my annoying coworkers” (BTW – an actual a goal a former employee actually listed on their performance evaluation).

      Finally, don’t hesitate to ask your manager or mentor for advice – they want to see you succeed and should be happy to help you with this.

      1. Another Special Collections Librarian*

        Gain familiarity with the topics of your collection if that is applicable. Try to problem solve before moving a difficult “call” to your supervisor’s desk. She has her own backlog.

        Join list-serves or Facebook groups that support your specialty.

        Join professional organizations. It doesn’t have to be ALA. Perhaps the regional or state associations.

  2. Folklorist*

    Here is your (not so) weekly ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!! Go and do that thing—or those things—that you’ve been putting off and come back and gloat! You’re no longer encumbered! I know that the Open Thread is a seductive time-suck, but it will still be here. Promise. ;-)

    1. MoinMoin*

      You’re right, I’m going….
      I’m so bad at procrastinating, I wonder why? I should go read that Wait But Why article again to figure it out….

    2. Amber T*

      I bought a place (yay!). Closing next week, actually moving the following week. Guess how much packing and prep I’ve done? This is gonna be a busy weekend…

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Congrats! I just had an offer accepted yesterday but I probably won’t close until October (renovations). I’m procrastinating at work because I’m currently obsessed with picking out fancy bathroom wallpaper.

        1. Silver Radicand*

          W00t! Congrats, Lily in NYC and Amber T! My roommates and I had a rental agreement offer accepted (a big deal due to the area, us having pets and four of us) and are moving in July. Hooray for new places!

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Thank you and congrats to you as well! It can be so hard to find a place that takes pets.

      2. anonymouse*

        I’m closing Tuesday on both current and new houses. I’ve done that same amount of packing, and we get the keys tomorrow to start moving. Caffeine, lots and lots of caffeine!
        Congrats on the new place!

    3. Hellanon*

      This is excellent timing – I am working today because the Procrastination Monster got the better of me this week.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Not working today–or yesterday, or the day before, or until Tuesday. :)

      I already cleaned the house (on Wednesday) and I had been putting that off, so I guess that counts!

    5. on a train in some rain*

      I did the thing. A spontaneous last-minute road trip when I learned 12 hours prior that I had Friday off. Thanks for the validation. It does feel great.

      1. Folklorist*

        That. Is. Awesome! If I weren’t going away next week already, I would take your inspiration and do the same! ::Filing Away for Future Adventures::

    6. Accountant*

      Put in my billable time for the last week and a half. I was so behind. I hate billable hours. BUT I’M DONE NOW, BIATCHES!!!!

    7. Shark Lady*

      I closed the bank accounts that I no longer use and have been costing me service fees for months. I’ve been meaning to do it for ages!

    8. Rovannen*

      I took a personal day to clean my house….Feels Great! Hummingbirds are happy.

    9. Creag an Tuire*

      Ms. Tuire and I took the day off to go the kids’ preschool’s “Family Fun Event” — then we were able to drop them back off at daycare for the rest of the workday while we spring-cleaned the merciful hell out of everything. Feels noice.

    10. Christopher Tracy*

      I finally bought a new phone. I’d been clinging to my iPhone 4 for years, but that sucker was about to die on me, and I had to finally let it go. I miss my old phone already, though it is nice to have a bigger screen.

      1. Fish Microwaer*

        I finished an extremely boring online education module that had been half done for too long.

  3. Just Keep Swimming*

    There is a huge annual event in the city where I work. Last year my office had a booth there; I worked for comp time and got to enjoy the event too.

    This year I discovered the event has paid temporary positions to help run things behind the scenes. I’ve been job searching lately, specifically for positions where working similar events would be a factor. To get this temporary job would be great on my resume, plus it would put me in contact with the organization that runs this event and others, which may pay off at the very least with new networking opportunities.

    The problem is that my current work will have a booth at this event again. I’ll have to take two or three days off plus would not be able to help with the event for my office. I’d have to be up front about working for the event because it’s almost certain my coworkers will see me there. It’s not out of the ordinary for me to work events like these on the weekends outside of work, my coworkers all know this, but it would be the first time I work the same event where my current job is as opposed to working for them.

    I really want to do this temp job, I think the contacts and experience are definitely worth it, but I’m a little worried it might give a red flag that I’m job searching because I’ll be choosing other work over my current job. What do you think?

    1. SophieChotek*

      Sorry for double-post (below) was trying to reply to above and somehow started new thread.

      Sorry I don’t have any advice, but its an interesting situation. (I’ve done this twice this week now. Sorry!)

      One question: does/is Organization A (the one you work for) an obvious competitor to Organization B (the one you want to work booth at for weekend)? I could see where that would be a red flag then.

      On the other hand, if it’s well-known that you often work these type of events on weekends, that might be a point in your favor, but I agree it might be problematic if you’re not able to help your own company at least prepare their own booth. (Did you ever work your company’s booth at this event in the past?)

      1. Just Keep Swimming*

        Nope, Org A and Org B are not in competition with each other. They are not in the same industry, don’t share anything in common other than working in the same city. And I did work at my company’s booth at this event last year but they cut my shifts back to just one shift because they had so many volunteers, so I know they won’t be hurting for people to help.

        Thanks for the thoughts :)

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      Your office culture may vary, but to me the weird thing would be taking time off during an office event, and using holiday time to work elsewhere instead of contributing to the major event. It wouldn’t necessary say job searching, but it wouldn’t say anything positive. Could you find events in a different field to temp in, that won’t impact on your current job?

      1. Just Keep Swimming*

        I wouldn’t use any paid leave, I would take the time off without pay, since the event position is paid anyway. I can and have done work for other events but this being the biggest one in my city, connected to an organization that I’ve had my eye on, it feels like too big an opportunity to pass up.

        Also thinking more on it, I might be able to ask the event if I could have an hour or two off to do at least one shift at my office’s booth. Considering they cut me from three shifts to just one last year, my office never hurts for volunteers.

        Thanks for the thoughts :)

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think it’s a tight line to walk. What are the expectations from your current job about your availability to work this event? Is it a volunteer thing, or are they expecting you to work it because you’ve done so in the past?

      Since you already know who organizes the event, would it be possible to reach out to the coordinator for an informational interview, based on having attended the event as a booth-holder? If so, then your networking ability isn’t lost, and neither is your job-search-secrecy.

    4. fposte*

      With what you’ve described, it wouldn’t sound like a sign of job-hunting to me–you do this kind of stuff already, and this is the first year you’ve known of the opportunity at this event.

      But I think the place to be careful is the effect on your current job. If only a couple of people work at this event and it’s random or optional, you might be okay, but you really want to avoid looking like you’re bailing on a hard part of your “real” job to pick up extra bucks. Unless you’re leaving the job ASAP, leaving people in the lurch is going to have bad effects.

      1. NacSacJack*

        I agree. Don’t do it. If it was a volunteer position organizing it, I could see it and your workplace would probably love it “Hey look one of our employees helps organize it”, but if it’s a paid position I wouldn’t. It sounds like you’re competiting in the same industry as your employer. That’s not safe.

        1. Just Keep Swimming*

          I wasn’t going to tell my work that the position was paid. And my work and the organization are not in the same industries, to the point that I was surprised my work had a booth there at all. Do you think that changes things?

          1. Kay*

            As in you wouldn’t mention whether it was paid or not, or do you mean you would lie and say it was volunteer?

            1. Just Keep Swimming*

              I wouldn’t mention it; I certainly wouldn’t lie but I’d do my best to avoid the compensation behind the position.

              Honestly, I’d be interested in this temporary position even if it wasn’t paid. I’m interested in the experience and the contacts, not the pay.

          2. Dealtwiththis*

            I don’t see what the big deal is. We have a person on our staff that regularly takes vacation (several days at a time) to work a convention that comes to town once per year. She’s very vocal about why she takes this vacation and nobody bats an eye. It’s your time to do with what you want, whether you get paid or not. You can mention to your supervisor and colleagues that this is a cause you feel passionate about and want to help with. I really don’t think they will mind.

          3. Kittymommy*

            It just seems like it could get super awkward if you do it. While on the face I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong, I’d be afraid the impression is going to be bad to your current employer. In my head I’m thinking of the conversation afterwards with co-workers/boss ending with them asking if you wanted to work it so bad why didn’t you just work our table??

            1. Kittymommy*

              Let me also add that if the employer want there it’s not a problem, and if you are not given the opportunity to work the table it also gets easier, the problem, in my head at least, arises in that they are there and they want you there with them and you turn it down to take this opportunity.

            2. Just Keep Swimming*

              There is a big difference in working my office’s table for a couple hours and working for the event for days. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to work our one table for three days straight, it would get a little boring. But working for the overall event is a lot more interesting to me, something I have done at other events and really want to do here. Plus last year they cut back my volunteer shifts at our table from three to one because they had so many people volunteer, so my co-workers know I didn’t get to work as long as I liked where as this is guaranteed to last all three or four days.

              Thanks for your thoughts :)

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I think the key question is: Are you expected to work the event for your primary employer? If yes, then you can’t take that time off, regardless of the reason.

      If no – if there are lots of people who could staff the booth, so your specific presence wouldn’t be missed — then I think this is no big thing. Take the time, let your manager/colleagues know that you’ll be at the event in another capacity. Whether you get paid by the event is irrelevant to your employer, and not their business.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I would not do it. But I have an SOP of not taking PTO from one job to get paid to do another paid job. While the double dipping is nice for the wallet, it can not set well with some people— boss type people.
      While I believe that you believe no one will find out, my experience has been the opposite. People are supposedly no more than six degrees of relationship from each other. All it takes is one photograph or one person who loooves to talk.

      IF you can approach your current boss and ask for the time off and state the reason why, then my answer would be different. But it sounds like you cannot be straightforward like that.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Totally agree with NSNR! This is not going to sit right with your company. Don’t do it.

      2. Just Keep Swimming*

        I don’t plan to take paid leave; I would take is at unpaid, which I have done before for other weekend events. And I would be straight forward about what I’m doing because I know my co-workers would see me there. The only thing I would be hiding from my current job is the reason I want the temporary job: to add the event working experience to my resume and to network with the organization running the event. My boss and co-workers know that I work these kinds of events for fun on the weekends; this is just the first time that it would be the same event where my current job was also there.

        Thanks for your thoughts :)

  4. LeAnn*

    Almost 3 months ago I started a position as a Volunteer Coordinator for a small-ish non-profit (11 staff). The organization has a new ED (since Jan) and is at the beginning of a desperately needed revamp. Our Marketing Coordinator is going to be let go soon. For many reasons, they’ve decided to not replace him and I will be taking over most of his duties. One of the first things I will be doing is building a new website from scratch and working the org through a re-branding, plus handling social media, all of our IT stuff, etc. This is in addition to my current job duties.

    Do I ask for a raise at my 90-day review in a couple weeks?

    Some things that might make a difference:

    1) Our fiscal year is almost over, so we are in budget mode right now.

    2) The board is very likely about to approve a rather expensive software that I pushed for (it benefits the whole org, not just me) but we wouldn’t be getting it had I not pushed for it.

    3) I’m already paid under-market value. It’s hard to know what the market value is, but I had the same job title in the same town at a similarly sized non-profit and made $4 more per hour.

    4) I have the support from our ED in everything I’ve done so far and everything I want to do.

    Normally, I’d never even consider asking for a raise 90-days in, but everyone I talk to thinks I should. I can see their point…this is going to be a massive undertaking at the beginning. It’ll calm down some eventually, but re-branding and building a new site is going to be a lot of work and will either hurt what we’re trying to do or be really good for that. Should I wait until I successfully pull that off before I ask for a raise? Or do I wait for my 1-year mark? Or should I ask now/at my 90-day review?

    1. The Butcher of Luverne*

      Wow. That’s a complete realignment of duties and responsibilities. I should think you would want your position re-defined and re-calculated…

      1. BethRA*

        And that should happen now. Even if they envision this as a shorter-term change in your duties and expect to re-hire for the Marketing Coordinator down the road, the projects they’re asking you to take on are significant enough that it warrants a raise and change in title, at least while you’re doing this.

        Seriously, the projects you describe would have been a major undertaking for the Marketing Coordinator if that job still existed. IMO, to ask you to take this on without compensating you for it would be pretty shady.

        1. LeAnn*

          It probably doesn’t really change anything about what you said, but I do want to be clear that these projects are largely being pushed by me. My ED is on board, but I’ve been pushing for it since I started…I’m just finally going to be in a position to be able to do something. The current marketing coordinator is a large part of why we need these projects to begin with. So while yes, they’re asking me to do it, they probably wouldn’t be had I not been bringing it up for weeks or if they didn’t have confidence in my ability to handle it.

      2. LeAnn*

        That’s something I’m definitely going to bring up…was just waiting for it to be a little bit more official (right now it’s a “this is going to happen, I’m telling you so you’re prepared”). I have a good relationship with the ED, have known her for a couple years….our lack of solid marketing/branding/etc. has been a conversation we’ve had many times since I started because it’s making my job harder and because I have a marketing background. So while this becoming part of my job was totally expected, I’m definitely not going to be okay with my title still being Volunteer Coordinator when I spend as much, if not more, time on marketing. I’m just really uncertain if/how to bring up the money part.

    2. Ell*

      I… think you shouldn’t. Especially since you haven’t taken on those job duties yet. Maybe at 6 months once you’ve taken on the higher workload and had some success with it? Implementing a new system is a Big Deal but until you’ve demonstrated some accomplishments in doing it, I don’t think you’ll have much standing to ask for a raise. 3 months is just too early IMO regardless of the extra duties.

      1. Rat Racer*

        That’s what I came to say as well. Although I think that you can plant a seed now and say something like “after 6 months (or X # months) of taking on these additional duties, would you be willing to consider a reevaluation of my compensation – depending on my success in this new role?” Or something like that.

        1. LeAnn*

          I like this method. I couldn’t come up with wording that didn’t sound like ‘hey I’m going to be doing all this extra work so you should pay me more’…..this sounds much better.

      2. BRR*

        I’m behind this method. You have a much stronger case for a raise when you have accomplishments to support you.

    3. SophieChotek*

      While I’ve heard industry norms would almost never advocate to ask for a raise at 90 days, I agree–this is huge and I probably would consider asking for a raise or a re-evaluation of your job title/its scope and potential new pay.

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      1) Could you ask for the raise beginning in the next fiscal year? They are saving one post so there must be a little room.
      2) That shouldn’t matter. You pushed for it for business reasons, not to benefit yourself, I gues.
      3) That would have been something to negotiate when you were first hired, I think.
      4) Then perhaps you can find a way to float the idea that won’t have fall-out if the answer is no?
      Considering they are saving a salary because you can take on more duties, I would ask.

      1. LeAnn*

        1) Budget is being worked out now…my understanding is that the salary from the eliminated position is most likely going to fund the salary for a new position they’ve desperately been needing for a couple of years.

        2) True, but it’s going to save me a lot of time on my Volunteer Coordinator duties (will easily spend 50% less time on administrative stuff than what I do currently), which makes it a lot easier for me to take on extra work.

        3) No room for negotiation at that point. I have many reasons to believe what they’re paying me right now was the most they could offer me. Taking a job that was the right career move was more important than compensation, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be paid what I’m worth….I just want to make sure I’m raising that question at the right time.

    5. Jadelyn*

      I’d frame it as a re-evaluation/re-framing of your position. “I started in X position expecting to do Y [potentially adding, “at my current pay rate”], but the addition of Z is changing that significantly, and I’d like to make sure we’re in agreement on where this is going. Is this position going to permanently change functional roles, and if so, how does that impact title/benchmarking/etc. going forward?”

      1. Jess*

        Yes to this! I wouldn’t necessarily ask for a “raise” but would ask, almost in an presumptive way, what compensation comes with the added responsibilities.

    6. fposte*

      I would definitely ask before it starts. The 90-day review might be a place to do it, but I’d actually prefer a separate meeting, because it’s very much its own subject. They’re asking you to add a whole nother job to the one you were hired for–which doesn’t make them evil, but it’s also not something you have to just accept without asking for relevant additional compensation, and I think that’s true whether you’ve been there 10 years or 10 days.

      Figure out the number you’d want and consider appropriate based on what you know about the tasks and the organization and ask for it; figure out how much it matters to you, too, and when you’d like to revisit the question if the answer is no.

      (It could help if you’re requesting a raise that would put you above the exempt threshold in December when otherwise you wouldn’t be–the OT on that kind of job combination would be pretty lethal.)

      1. LeAnn*

        I wish I was anywhere close to what the exempt threshold is, but I’m definitely not and we just flat out aren’t allowed overtime except for maybe rare instances (not something that has happened yet)….so that whole thing probably won’t affect me at all.

        Thanks for the advice though…I like the idea of bringing it up separately, maybe when this all becomes officially next week.

    7. Jack the Treacle Eater*

      Is 90 day review the end of your probationary period? Asking for an immediate raise then might be awkward, though it sounds deserving given the significant increase in duties and responsibilities and you can make a good case.

      I’d think it might be best left towards the end of the review discussion but brought up; depending on the discussion you might suggest a raise after X amount of time dependent on your performance in the enhanced role.

      You should be able to roughly benchmark your salary by looking at ads for similar roles; there are also career guidance websites that give an idea of the range for particular roles.

      You should be careful in your enthusiasm for the enhanced role not to be blind to the pitfalls of taking on a lot more work; do you genuinely have the time, will you be given support and resources, and so on. Look hard at the potential problems that might catch you out. You should be raising these – in a positive way – in review as well.

    8. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      My larger concern is everybody’s expectations here, before you get to compensation.

      There’s a lot of potential for failure here as what you’ve outlined is both a huge job for one person (before you get to it only being half of your job) + something that goes s-l-o-w-l-y. Everything in marketing takes so very much longer to launch than anyone expects, it truly does.

      Take how long you think this will take to accomplish, do 2X, and then figure you will be to the halfway point at the 2X time frame. Not kidding.

      So! Please make sure that you and all interested parties have a reasonable time frame/plan/launch dates. Make sure that you have vendors or partners who have agree to these dates and the deliverables. Deliver everything you personally can on time, but please build delays, and changes changes changes XYZ again, into the expectation of the people who will be evaluating your performance.

      As far as compensation, I’d try to get it now and not at 90 days. IDK how much you’ll be able to show at 90 days vs what people expect to see.

      1. AF*

        Yes – totally agree! Frame it as part of the larger conversation of how long you’ll be doing this. If there is no end in sight, and/or this is a permanent change in your job, do it now. Good luck!

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          Launching a new website and an entire rebranding is when you double your marketing staff, not when you fire the one marketer and make marketing half of the volunteer coordinator’s job.

          LeAnn can do this but I’mma gonna worry about expectations because PTB is already employing magical staffing thinking.

      2. LeAnn*

        Oh yeah, definitely a concern but I feel pretty good about our expectations. I’m actually at the end of a major re-branding of a side project I run. It’s certainly not at the same level as what this will be, but I’ve been part of other similar organizations during similar projects, so between all that I’ve got a pretty solid grasp on expectations. We don’t have a current branding/marketing strategy, so that will largely be from scratch but thankfully we are an affiliate of a very large global nonprofit that has done a lot of research on that, so we have guides and resources from them. Our current website is just plain complicated and not at all functional, so it’s actually going to be easier to just start from scratch on that and I’ve built enough sites to know how long to expect that to take. I’ll be doing it myself because it doesn’t make sense to hire a 3rd party to do it, but I’ve got another staff member and interns to help out along the way.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          Okay so you’re doing the website actually yourself also. This is yet another job. That’s not marketing, that’s another job, so that’s three jobs. Unless you are planning on also doing art and design and then that four jobs.

          It’s terrific that you have this experience already that allows you to be confident in your planning.

          Lookit, I rarely say this but I think you should go for the money now. Marketing people will understand the difficulty level of your dive here but my experience with non marketing people is that if you do all of those different jobs + deliver + deliver good product (while doing your job also), they aren’t going to grasp what you just pulled off.

          I think you should be asking for market rate for a non-profit marketer in your region.

    9. Artemesia*

      It isn’t a ‘raise 90 days in’ it is moving into a different more demanding job which calls for reevaluating the role — you are essentially being promoted into a more important job and your salary should be adjusted to reflect this. I would frame it this way. If they expect you to work for long as the marketing director on volunteer coordinator pay I would be looking at this as a training experience and be scanning for marketing positions with other non-profits as soon as you feel up to speed.

  5. Not Karen*

    I was going to present my case for a raise at my 1-year evaluation. Then my manager had her baby unexpectedly early and went out on maternity leave just before my evaluation was due. Now I have to have the salary review discussion with HR instead. Any advice?

    1. Journal Entries*

      Bring in a copy of your official job description, then show how you’ve gone above and beyond.

    2. T3k*

      If you have emails from your manager praising your work, stats showing how effective you’ve been, etc. bring those as well.

    3. LUCYVP*

      I would be upfront with HR and ask how they want to handle this discussion.

      They clearly are not in the same position to evaluate you as your manager would be, but that should be obvious to everyone involved. Asking them in advance what types of materials or evidence they would like to see makes it clear that you are taking this seriously.

    4. Liana*

      I’m with T3K – if you have any emails from your manager praising your work or otherwise making you look especially good, definitely bring those in, as well as evidence of anything else you’d normally bring to your evaluation (initiatives started, performance metrics, etc). It’s also a possibility that your manager gave HR some material so they’d have a jumping off point for your review – even just an email saying “I’d like to give Not Karen an X% raise”. Other than that, see how HR would like to handle it. Good luck!

  6. ThatGirl*

    We all got called into a sudden, mandatory meeting yesterday, and its purpose was only to announce to the group, all at once, that one of my fellow editors had been abruptly fired on Wednesday afternoon for “violating company policy.” Leaving me extremely curious what happened – while I had a few minor issues with the guy, he never seemed unprofessional or in danger of being suddenly fired. Around here you have to do something pretty egregious for that to happen. And now I’m down a team member. Ah, well, we’ll see what happens.

    1. Amber T*

      Ooh this is one of those situations where I’d super curious and want to find out why, though I’d know it’s technically none of my business. I was going to say it’s odd they called a meeting for that, but I guess announcing it to everyone at the same time in person somewhat controls the fire – everyone found out at the same time, I’m assuming people got to ask questions (though maybe not get them answered). Diminishes the gossip a little bit.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It may come out eventually, but yeah, I assume they wanted everyone to know all at once to control the rumor mill, although an e-mail seems like it might have been just as effective?

        1. Bea W*

          An abrupt announcement like that without any details probably just got the rumour mill chugging along earlier. Now everyone will be speculating on what he may have done.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Possible, but … we work in cubicle farms and he had 7 other people around him, it would be hard to do that and not get caught. If he was using his work laptop for it at home, well, that’s just stupid.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Yes, but IT people find this stuff all the time – esp. when they have to deal with the ensuring viruses.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        It could be anything and it’s really impossible to guess. We just fired someone for running an online sneaker business out of his cubicle (using company resources). Never would have guessed that as a reason.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            He was so dumb (well, he is super smart but handled this like a dummy) – he didn’t get fired when he first got caught – he was given a warning. But he didn’t stop what he was doing and ended up getting escorted out of the building. And he ruined it for the rest of us – because of him we are no longer allowed to drop off stamped mail to be sent out from our mailroom (many of us in NYC don’t have an outgoing mail slot in our apartment buildings so we bring it to work).

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          I once had a co-worker get fired for day-trading using company computers (and company time).

          And another co-worker who got fired for looking at porn sites. . . during business hours. . . in his cubicle. . . which was set up so that his computer screen faced the hallway behind him. . . which was a major pass-through to the kitchen. I saw him on the local news a few weeks later, being interviewed as an older employee who had been [unfairly] let go as part of the 2008 recession. Um, no. He was fired for being unbelievably stupid.

          1. The Rat-Catcher*

            +100 because I love your name!!! It took me a minute to remember why it sounded familiar!

          2. RVA Cat*

            Note that doing this where it could be viewed by others could also make it sexual harrassment. Reminds of a story from several years ago of someone who should have known better doing this – after hours, but he *printed stuff out* and left it on the printer, where a female co-worker found it the next morning.

          3. Lily in NYC*

            Gross! But he sure had chutzpah to go on the news. I would move to Siberia if I got fired for something like that.

      3. NN*

        The vice chancellor of the university where I work does a yearly presentation to staff and every year, he reminds everyone not to watch porn on the work computers. This year he also noted that watching porn on your own device using the university wifi network also breached the rules and that they could track this. Sadly, I saw a few people go pale when he said this.

    2. Ama*

      Is it possible he ran afoul of a PTO or financial reimbursement policy? I’ve seen a few abrupt firings for people who seemed like exemplary employees and it was often because they violated a policy that HR had a no-tolerance rule for, usually involving financial reimbursement or benefits.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Possible, although there’s not much we do in our daily work that we’d need to buy and get reimbursed for. And our manager keeps fairly tight track of our PTO. That said, any number of things is certainly possible, and it’s also possible he had been on some sort of PIP nobody knew about?! He wasn’t “exemplary” to me but fairly average. But to me, the abrupt nature of it makes me think “some really big f-up was discovered”.

    3. NacSacJack*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. He’s gone. Adapt. They did the same with one of my co-workers and they called the group meeting to avoid any physical or emotional confrontations as well as to not embarrass the co-worker. I only knew why because the employee talked to me about the situation he was in. One manager called him away from his desk and another manager grabbed everyone on the floor and walked them to a conference room and told them then. I was on the phone when it happened and I tried to tell the second manager I’m busy, then stopped mid-sentence, turned to my phone conference and said, “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go right now.” and left my desk. I suddenly realized he was trying to protect us or not embarrass a long-time employee.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m not worried about it, I’m curious. Don’t worry, we’ve already adapted just fine.

      2. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        I would think employees would like to know what company policy this guy was breaking if only to avoid breaking the same policy. Many moons ago, a former coworker was fired for abusing a grossly vague Internet policy that had been omitted from the more recent employee manuals. This policy did not involve stock tracking or running a business using company resources. We are talking checking personal email and Facebook during lull times. Tasks did not fall through the cracks with coworker and said coworker was honored as an employee of the month not long before the firing. Some coworkers went on probation and others were told not to worry about watching cat videos. Sadly I (and almost anyone who was at this work at the time) think this was a case where the policy was vague so it could be unevenly enforced. Our crazy manager (as well as the coworker’s supervisor) had it out for certain people, who generally were those that gave crazy manager push back (instead of sighing and rolling their eyes). After the dust settled, several of us got together as a group to get the policy clarified.

    4. Liana*

      Oooh I would be SO curious. At my last job, my manager, who I worked with for a year, was suddenly fired with zero warning. We received an email from the department’s medical director (it was at a hospital) saying “Jane Featherbottom is no longer working with our department. We wish her the best of luck in future endeavors”, and THAT’S IT. I still don’t know why she was fired, two years later. Drives me crazy.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      I have had several supervisors escorted off the premises by the police at my part time job. I know why one was investigated and I wish I had never found out. Just wish them well and don’t listen to the gossip. You can’t make yourself forget certain things.

  7. TGIF*

    I want to majorly redo my resume. One of the tips I see is that the info for each former job should be what you succeeded in doing in that position, rather than just a regular job description. However I only have one real full-time job under my belt, with college jobs to back it up. Especially with the college jobs, I don’t have much I succeeded at the sides getting the job done. How should I go about doing this when I mainly just did my job to the best of my abilities, not going above and beyond in any spectacular way?

    1. Ell*

      https://www.askamanager.org/2016/03/how-do-i-write-a-compelling-cover-letter-when-i-dont-have-much-work-experience.html

      This is about cover letters, not resumes but I still think it’s useful to think about for framing your work. Did your supervisor in the college jobs give you good feedback when you got the job done? Did you get it done quicker than expected? Were you asked to take on additional duties on occasion because they trusted you? Getting the job done well IS an accomplishment, you just need to frame it in a way that is more specific. Just because you didn’t create a new system or become employee of the month doesn’t mean you didn’t have accomplishments.

    2. ZSD*

      Quantify whatever you can. “Counseled 400+ clients on best approaches to…” “Increased success rate of grant proposals from 23% to 38%”
      Also, even if you didn’t go above and beyond, did you become known in the office for being good at something in particular? What did your boss tend to compliment you on? Thinking about that could help you figure out what to highlight on your resume.

    3. Terra*

      Sometimes just doing the job is an accomplishment, especially at jobs that have a fairly low work standard/high turnover such as retail that tends to hire mostly high school/college students. With jobs like that I’d usually think back on your most “eh” coworkers. The ones you didn’t like working with who never quite got fired but you kind of wished they had because they never seemed to be able to keep it together, most places had at least one in my experience. Then compare yourself to that person. How were you better than they were? Those are the accomplishments you write down. Never missing a shift, always being nice about coming in if there was an emergency, never being late, your drawer always counted out correctly, etc.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        I agree with the advice here, though not the sentiment; there’s always ways to accomplish stuff in every job! I worked fast food for two years after college and I was everyone’s favorite coworker for many reasons. But the advice is the same: what made you someone that people wanted to work with? What made your boss want to give you more hours?

        I think comparing yourself to the co-workers you didn’t like working with is also solid because it reframes how you think about accomplishments, but I just had to butt in and defend the idea that even jobs that *seem* like they have low work standards still have a wide variance in performance, and you’re trying to capture why you were a top performer.

  8. Kristine*

    Any teachers here? I am looking to switch from marketing project management into teaching (preferably high school English) and would love any advice from teachers out there. What’s life like for a first year teacher? Anything to expect that they don’t tell you about? What are the best and worst parts of the job? What are the job interviews like for teachers and how do you prepare for them? What should I be looking for in a school?

    FYIW, I have a BA in Psychology and specialized in child psychology in college (graduated in 2011).

    1. No name for now*

      I just got my MA in Teaching and my first teaching job! I can’t speak to the first year yet, since I don’t start until August, but as far as the interview process, I found a list of 50 interview questions for teachers on Google and used that as my prep guide. Right now, schools are big on student centered teaching, so it was important to think about using data to drive decisions and how every decision you make benefits the students.

      I have also read a lot of “first year teacher” blogs and articles. Truthfully, they kind of freaked me out because they kind of focus on the negatives, but it has helped me prepare for what will most likely be a very difficult and stressful first year. The first year is always the hardest.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Any teachers here?

      Former high school English teacher here (both public and private) in the U.S.

      I am looking to switch from marketing project management into teaching (preferably high school English) and would love any advice from teachers out there.

      That’s going to be tough without grad school or some kind of teaching internship program, and many teaching internships are looking for people recently out of college. Since you graduated in 2011, you may qualify. Definitely looking into some private school internships (a bit late to apply for this year, but maybe next year), since that’s cheaper than grad school.

      What’s life like for a first year teacher?

      Tough. Stressful. Not the least bit glamorous. Rewarding at times. But very very tough. You’ll have working against you the following:
      * You’ve never taught before.
      * You (right now) don’t have any official training in teaching.
      * The kids (and parents) know you’re new and will push your boundaries.
      * If you graduated in 2011, you’re likely young, and I’ve seen very few young teachers be able to be authoritative in the classroom in their first year.

      Anything to expect that they don’t tell you about?

      If you teach in a (not rich) public school, be prepared for 70-90% of your job being police officer / test prepper and only about 10-30% of your job being actual teaching / facilitating learning.

      What are the best and worst parts of the job?

      The best parts were seeing kids actually understand stuff—good when it came from your explanations and best when they got to understanding on their own through discussions you’ve facilitated. Also, even though I hate it when people say teachers “get” summers off, you actually need the summers off, and they’re a relief!

      The worst parts were not being backed up by my department head (in one school) for standing against grade inflation for students who didn’t do work for the grades they ended up getting, or having a parent (in another school) tell me she didn’t agree with the grade I gave her kid, because she was an English major in college and she (in her obviously unbiased opinion) thought her kid’s paper deserved an A. Oh, also the one teaching assignment I had with zero prep periods, and five classes meeting every day at the exact same times every day.

      There were other bests and worsts, but those are the ones that are off the top of my head.

      What are the job interviews like for teachers and how do you prepare for them?

      They’re a lot like job interviews for other types of positions. You meet people (department head, head of school, future co-workers, current students), and they ask you questions. You also very likely will have to teach a sample lesson. That can be awkward, but they know it’s awkward, and it’s equally awkward for any other candidates, too.

      What should I be looking for in a school?

      Honestly, every school I’ve worked in has been dysfunctional in some ways, so I think you just have to figure out what kind of dysfunction works for you. I will say that one of the best things you can have is an administration and department head that have your back. In other words, if you discipline a kid or give a kid a bad grade (with good reason, of course), you want a department head who won’t tell you to change your decision just because a parent complained. Same with your head of school or principal.

      1. Kristine*

        Thank you so much for this, I really appreciate it. My biggest fear going into this is my lack of teaching experience and training. Right now I am taking classes (unaffiliated with any degree program) that are meant to prepare first time teachers, but I know that’s not the same as having in-classroom experience. I’m going to look into possible student teaching jobs/internships as well as substitute teaching to help get me some experience in a classroom before I apply for a full time position. But it seems like teaching is a job that will get easier with time and eventually I will have to jump in, even if I’m swimming against the current for awhile.

        1. Ama*

          Depending on where you live there may be some kind of a program designed to help people from other careers transition into teaching (it’s usually a way to try to recruit more teachers into the public school system). I know several big cities in the U.S. have them.

          1. Turanga Leela*

            Yes—Kristine, look for “teaching fellows” programs in your area, and there’s always Teach For America (you don’t have to be just out of college to do it). Substitute teaching is a good idea but stressful; you will learn classroom management skills FAST.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, it sounds as if you’re doing what you should be doing. You did mention your bachelor’s was in psychology, but you want to teach English. How much English coursework did you do? Typically, schools looking to hire English teachers are looking for people who either majored in English undergrad or have a master’s degree in English. Though, if you have significant history coursework and maybe some classics, you might be able to get away with a more humanities (English-history combined) curriculum.

          1. Kristine*

            I did not do any specific Engligh coursework in college, but I was a history minor in a program that was very literature-focused. I will have to see what my state requires for their English teachers.

            1. blackcat*

              Based on your background, it may be easier to enter in as a “social studies” teacher.

              Generally, states require a certain number of credit hours in the field you’ll be teaching in, even for unlicensed teachers in charter schools. You can google “Highly Qualified” +teacher +your state to figure out what the standards are.

              Depending on where you are, you may find that it’s nearly impossible to get an english teaching job without an MA. Even states that have a shortage of teachers overall may still have a glut of english teachers–it’s the hardest field to enter into.

            2. sam*

              depending on the school you are in a lot of teaching English might wind up being teaching kids how to read.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        Oh, one more thing—teaching assignments can vary greatly depending on the school. Some schools (mainly private, but also some rich public) will give you four classes to teach with only 14-18 students per class. Other schools (many public and parochial) will give you five classes to teach with 24-30 students per class. Some charter schools will even have you teach Saturdays as well.

        I’m one of those teachers who actually liked having more preps, but in your first year of teaching, the fewer preps, the better. In other words, you may have 5 classes to teach, but all 5 are sophomore English. Or, you may have 4 classes to teach, with 1 being freshman English, 2 being sophomore English, and 1 being senior English. In the latter case, you have three separate preps. That’s a lot of lesson planning!

        A few other things…

        Every school has its own culture and cultural norms. You won’t know these norms until you work at the school. You won’t know what’s acceptable or not acceptable in a school until you work there at least a year—and that goes for student language and dress, work being on time or not, quality of work, respect students who or not, etc.

        No matter how “good” a lesson plan you plan, many of your lesson plans will not go the way you thought they would. That’s okay, though. Stay flexible. And also keep in mind that a lesson that works really well for one class may totally bomb for another class.

        Time of day matters. Unfortunately, some schools will schedule the same classes to meet the same time of day every day. That means if you have section B of your English seniors last period on Monday and have them last period of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday… they will always be in last-period mode, and that sucks.

        1. Kristine*

          This is all great info to have and think about. Thank you for sharing! I know that there will be some culture shock going from the private corporate world to the (probably public) school world but it’s good to prepare myself for some of the specific differences. I hadn’t even thought about number of preps or time of day yet.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          That should be respect students give or not, etc.

          One other thing is that some schools will track English classes and others won’t. Tracking has its pros and cons, but I think generally I’m against tracking and would prefer an integrated English class over remedial/regular/honors or on-level/honors/advanced.

          And, at many schools, tracking is determined not really by ability or aptitude but by behavior. In other words, the kids in the on-level or remedial classes aren’t “dumb” but they are generally misbehaving or don’t actually do work. Likewise, the kids in the honors classes aren’t necessarily “smart,” but they are generally hardworking or better behaved.

        3. The Rat-Catcher*

          “Time of day matters. Unfortunately, some schools will schedule the same classes to meet the same time of day every day. That means if you have section B of your English seniors last period on Monday and have them last period of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday… they will always be in last-period mode, and that sucks.”

          This comment is fascinating to me…I don’t know if it’s a regional difference or what, but around here, having classes the same time every day is so very much the norm (in public, private, parochial, whatever) that any other type of set-up would get serious side-eye. Block schedules are not unheard of, but even then, they are always at the same time, just not every day.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Well, I’ve worked in both kinds of schools, and I assure you a rotating schedule is not deserving of any kind of side-eye. It’s definitely better to mix it up and have your class sometimes meet first period, sometimes meet before lunch, sometimes meet after lunch, and sometimes meet at the end of the day.

            Also, just strictly from a logistics perspective, classes that always meet at the end of the day get disproportionately hit with early dismissals for sports games, so that’s a lot of class time missed for one particular class for students.

            1. The Rat-Catcher*

              Oh, I think it’s a great idea! It just wasn’t something that ever even occurred to me because it’s so far out of the norm here.

              And yes, I remember always falling asleep in the after-lunch class, our first class always losing time because of housekeeping issues, and missing a lot of last hour for sports dismissals as you said (especially bad that year I had last-hour calculus!)

            2. Tris Prior*

              Huh. I would’ve really liked a setup like this in high school. I somehow always got stuck with PE early in the morning (thus destroying my 80s big hair pretty much first thing) and the tough classes like calculus last period when I had no brain left. I have never heard of classes rotating times!

          2. Turanga Leela*

            I taught in a school where every class was at the same time every day. My first period was always low-energy; I tried everything with them and got almost no participation. It was like pulling teeth. I had a ton of failing grades in that class and felt awful about it. Once, late in the year, I got to see that class after lunch, and I barely recognized the students—they had so much energy!

            When I was in high school, we had a five-day rotating schedule, and it really helped avoid that problem. Instead of calling the classes “first period,” “second period,” and “third period,” you call them “A block,” “B block,” and “C block,” and then you shuffle them into different orders on different days. It’s just as easy to schedule, and it’s confusing for the first week but fine after that.

            1. blackcat*

              I once taught a 90 minute block period of teenagers that started at 7:25am. It was awful. They were a really lovely bunch of kids (well mannered, eager to learn) but I seriously had to have at least 2 jumping jack breaks in the class to keep them awake.

              I later taught in a rotating block school, with no class starting before 8:15am. It was glorious.

    3. Knapplepi*

      You will want to check the regulations for the teaching profession in the states where you hope to work! In the state where I am employed, uncertified teachers cannot obtain employment in a public school unless there are no certified applicants. You should expect a huge learning curve if you get the opportunity to teach. I thought I was a pretty good teacher for my first two years. In my third year, I realized how much I had to learn! Twenty five years later, I am still evaluating my performance and trying to improve! I entered the profession after I obtained a BS in math and physics. All of my teacher prep work was done during my master’s program. The most valuable part was working with experienced, certified teachers in classroom settings. I learned so much from other teachers and they gave me valuable insight into my strengths and weaknesses!

      1. Kristine*

        I will definitely have to check that. Thanks for the heads up! I am actually in the process of getting my teaching certificates, I just don’t have an MA. In my state you can teach for up to 5 years without an MA so it’s my plan to get the MA in my first 5 years of teaching.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Something to consider if you do go into / stay in teaching: look into Breadloaf. It’s a summer-only English master’s program, and many of its students are English teachers. It’s a good way to earn your master’s (and get a higher salary, too) without having to take time off from your job.

          Oh, and speaking of going into / staying in teaching: when I first got to grad school for teaching, they told us some large percentage (I forget the exact number) of teachers quit within the first five years of teaching. I arrogantly thought “Not me!” and that I was somehow better or more dedicated than other new teachers. Nope. I quit after five years. It’s tough. And I know some people who quit right after getting the M.Ed. or quit within the first two years.

          1. Kristine*

            Yeah, I know there are high percentage of teachers who quit, and I can understand why. I (probably arrogantly as well) think I’m up to the challenge, but I might be kidding myself. I think I could thrive in the right circumstances and am looking into schools outside the public school system (like Montessori) and inside to see what my options look like. But my stepfather has been a teacher for 30 years, my SIL for almost 4, and my MIL is a retired teacher so I have a pretty solid teacher support system to help me along the way.

          2. academic*

            I taught teachers in an M.Ed. program for 15 years. I remember a failing grad student who just couldn’t get it together to hand in assignments. I met with Dean to try to help this student. (who by the way displayed huge resentment towards my “unrealistic expectations”) The Dean said, Betsy is in her first year of teaching and just realized this is her life and hates it. Some students are just begging us to tell them they shouldn’t be teachers.

        2. Ama*

          That’s a good plan. In my home state, MAs are not required to teach, but once you earn your MA you get paid at a higher rate. I’ve known a few people who have earned their MAs in their first teaching position, quit for a few years to have kids and then had difficulty getting rehired because the schools don’t want to hire teachers at the MA rate when there are plenty of non-MA candidates.

    4. MoinMoin*

      Not a teacher, but my SIL is finishing up her second year teaching High School STEM and from talking to her, parents and administration that don’t look out for the teachers seem like the biggest stressors by far.

    5. Turanga Leela*

      Former teacher here. The first year of teaching is relentless. It seems like there’s an endless amount of work. A few (long) pieces of advice:
      1) Make friends with experienced teachers. Learn from them how the school works, what the unwritten rules are, etc. They may also have materials that you can use.
      2) Look for resources that already exist: ideas for unit plans, texts for teaching particular ideas, processes for analyzing text… You will wind up writing a ton of your own material, and it’s fine to borrow and adapt other teachers’ stuff.
      3) Routines. Early on, think about what routines you want to have in your classroom, both for yourself and your students. Maybe when the students come in, there’s a “do now” assignment on the board. Maybe they keep English journals in your classroom, and they’re expected to structure journal entries in a particular way. Maybe every Friday is a spelling quiz. Teach the routines early so that your students know them. They will make your life easier.
      4) Come up with emergency lesson plans and time-filling activities in case you need them. You need a few things that will eat up 10 minutes if you get done with your lesson plan early or a fire drill takes up almost all of class. (Some teachers use worksheets or word games for this.) You also need full-period activities that you can use if almost the whole class is absent, or you have laryngitis, or you have to have a substitute. Until you know the substitute teaching staff, do not assume that they will be able to teach a regular lesson; pick an activity that your students can do with minimal assistance.
      5) Get involved in one student club or other activity. Seeing students outside your classroom can make a world of difference; some of my best memories of teaching are from field trips and our annual Math Night. You don’t want to overschedule yourself, but this is worth doing.

      Good luck in teaching! It is the most important job in society. I’m so excited for you and your future students.

      1. Kristine*

        Thank you for this amazing advice. I’m taking notes on all of this to keep on hand. I’m glad you brought up #5 especially– all of the teachers I remember fondly are the ones who participated in activities outside the classroom.

        And thank you! I’m also very excited and hope I can do right by my future students and be a great resource and mentor for them.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        Oh, your #3 and #4 just reminded me of something, which is to have something for kids to do if they arrive early. If your class started at 11:25, some of your kids will arrive at 11:20 and others will trickle in at 11:24 or even 11:25 on the dot (yes, others too will be late, but class will be well on its way by then. When I first started teaching, I would just chat with the early kids, but I found it far more effective to have something for them to focus on, even if it wasn’t directly related to the curriculum (for example, a “quote of the day” on the board). Then, with all the kids focused, it was far easier to transition that focused energy into actual class discussion.

        Also, it took me a while to realize I was a far more effective teacher when I wasn’t 100% earnest. I don’t think it’s good to be sarcastic (except with certain students who really like that), but I also think you aren’t 100% you when you teach—you’re a version of you, and you need to play that role a bit. I had a mentor teacher who told me “Don’t smile until Christmas!” which I couldn’t do, but I do believe the idea behind it, which is you aren’t there to be friends with the kids; you’re there to teach them.

        And, along those lines, it’s always better, especially if you’re a new teacher, to say “No,” and then eventually move that to a “Yes” than to say “Yes” and then try to switch it to a “No.”

        1. Turanga Leela*

          Yes to all of this, especially being a version of you! And it’s a version of YOU, not somebody else. A lot of new teachers try to emulate other teachers they know, but people have different styles, and what works for one teacher doesn’t always work for another. It takes work, but you have to find your own groove.

        2. Lily Evans*

          I never actually became a teacher, but one of my Education professors in college really emphasized that you should try to get your students to respect you first, then get them to like you. If you try too hard to get them to like you in the beginning, it would be hard to get their respect later.

      3. phedre*

        #4 is such great advice! I was never a teacher, but I did TA a couple of classes in grad school and ran my own discussion sessions for the classes. If I had a lesson plan or discussion questions that I thought would take an hour, invariably they’d take 20 minutes and I’d be left scrambling for 30 min. On the flip side, sometimes things that I thought would take 15 minutes took the entire hour. I wish someone had warned me to be more prepared for all eventualities!

    6. Artemesia*

      I taught HS for a few years and the first two years I worked every evening and every weekend either grading 160 essays or preparing material for classes. I was teaching before there was prescribed lesson plans and curriculum so I invented everything I did in the classroom. It was the hardest work I ever did — I worked every day all school year, collapsed with some respiratory stuff that I had worked through whenever vacation days occurred and then worked on my masters degree in the summers. And for really low pay. I think pay is a bit better now as are benefits. (I never for example had dental insurance)

    7. Mando Diao*

      Keep in mind that high school English is one of the most competitive teaching positions, if not THE most competitive. You’ll be going up against people with both BAs and MAs in English Education (or MATs, or whatever variant applies), and lots of them can’t even find teaching jobs.

      This isn’t meant to rain on your parade. Just be aware that it’s not an easy job to get, and you have none of the relevant credentials. You will need to get a teaching certification (and ideally a master’s degree in education too), and you will most likely have to backtrack on your undergrad education because you didn’t major in English.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Oh, yes, I forgot about that, too. If you want to get a job more easily, be a math or science teacher! English, history, and elementary are very competitive.

        1. Kristine*

          Yeah, my state specifically says it’s looking for math and science teachers right now. My problem with teaching those subjects is that they don’t come naturally do me and I wouldn’t feel 100% confident teaching them. I’m willing to put in the work and time for extra certifications and degrees in order to teach the subject I’m passionate about.

          1. Turanga Leela*

            If you’re willing to teach middle school and/or teach in a high-poverty school, getting a job will be easier. The job itself might be harder, but there will be more openings.

          2. Science Teacher*

            Middle school & high school science teacher here– I would only recommend you get into teaching science if you have a strong background in science. Even though there is a huge need for it, unless you have strong classroom management and support from admin and a science team, I would not recommend you jump into it. Preparing and running science labs easily takes up 90% of the prep time I have and can be extremely stressful.

            Another thing- try volunteering in a school in an area you want to teach.

          3. Rob Lowe can't read*

            Depending on your state/district, ESL might be a good route to go if you want to teach language arts (though obviously teaching ELLs is a very different ball game than teaching gen ed and is not right for everyone!). My area cannot produce ESL teachers fast enough to meet the need (or, in my district’s case, the federal requirements). I’m an elementary ESL teacher and I teach two sections of ELA/ESL (reading, writing, and language development). I graduated with an M.Ed in elementary education, got ESL certified on the job, and will be returning to school part time in the fall to do some additional coursework in ESL.

      2. blackcat*

        Yep. I taught at a prep school where all english teachers hired in the previous 10 years had PhDs in English. 1 had a PhD in English AND an MFA in creative writing.

        English teachers who had been there longer had MAs in English or MFAs, often paired with an MAT or MEd.

        Me? I was a 22 year old with a STEM bachelors degree and a teaching certification (no masters). I went to a super elite college, which helped. The only faculty on staff without a masters degree in their field or an MAT/MEd were us STEM faculty. I was one of only 5 such people out of a total faculty of about 45.

        Standards are wildly different depending on the type of school, but you need a LOT of credentials to get a high school english job at a good school.

    8. Aardvark*

      (Former teacher here–I taught for two years and have been in education-adjacent fields for another 8-10)

      I’d really ask yourself why you want to be a teacher first, and I would make sure you’re asking that question on a deep level. And if there is a hint of a “save the children” or a “teaching will make me a better person” mentality, or if you’re looking for a change and cannot clearly articulate why you are choosing teaching as an endpoint for that change, I would absolutely think twice about this career switch.

      Teaching is a skilled profession–I think a lot of people ignore that when they switch positions. In the vast majority of cases, walking into a room and delivering a compelling lecture will not be effective–you’ll also need to learn classroom management, assessment and pedagogical skills. Your background in psychology should be helpful, but expect to spend a long time mastering how to hook kids into the lesson, how to make sure your lessons teach what you’re intending at a deep level, how to support learners at multiple levels, and how to monitor and adjust these lessons on the fly. It takes a lot of time (more than 2 years! I was not a great teacher when I left by any measure) to become good at it.

      It can be really rewarding–especially those “aha!” moments when a kid really gets it, or when a complicated lesson goes off without a hitch, or when you wake up at 3 AM with a great lesson idea that actually works out, or when a student who never does their homework gets really engaged in an activity, or when you get to tell a parent their student has really turned around, or when someone who you reassured when they had a rough day says thanks the next day.

      This comes at a cost–you will probably spend at least one weekend day working, more than 8 hours onsite every workday, and a few more hours most nights prepping lessons, grading, calling parents, and dealing with paperwork. You may have to shoulder some of the cost of fingerprinting and background checks before you are hired as well as any preliminary subject area tests. You will almost certainly end up spending your own money on classroom supplies too–we had only a few thousand dollars to fund materials for an entire department, and the reimbursement process was byzantine to say the least.

      As for interviews–for public schools, expect government-style interviews where there is a panel and set questions. Panels will often contain senior teachers, department heads, and school or district administrators. You may not be interviewing for a specific position, but instead a specific type of position within a district (they may pull together a panel for all 9th grade English teachers within the district and interview a bunch of candidates for all those positions on a specific day.) This may be different if they’re hiring an emergency replacement–that may be more like a regular interview.

      1. Sami*

        Excellent points, Aardvark.
        May I ask what you’re doing now? I’m looking to do something education-related, I’m ready to leave the classroom.

    9. New Bee*

      I’m a former teacher–currently an instructional coach and most of the teachers I work with are in their first and second year. From a coaching perspective, I generally work with my teachers on being just as invested in the “how” as they are in the “what”. There’s no magic curriculum, or management trick, or school placement that will solve the challenges you’ll face in the first year (realistically, in the first 3 years). My most successful teachers try something, reflect on how it worked, and then adjust and try again, whereas my weakest teachers look for someone/something to blame and put their eggs in the “if my kids/admin/students’ families/district would do X, I’d be a better teacher” basket. Growth mindset is big in education right now, and I’d posit it’s just as important for teachers.

      I can also offer insight if you are considering entering a certification program: I did one (of several options in my city), and I have insight into a few other based on the experiences of relatives and close friends.

    10. Becca*

      I’m sitting next to my husband, who is a high school math teacher. Things to consider:

      – The workload for teaching English is going to be heavier than for a lot of other subjects. The constant essays being written in and for English classes all need to be read. Even if you’re a fast reader, that’s still a lot of pages.
      – Call homes early and often to be on the same page as the parents and to know who will back you up and who won’t. This is VERY helpful for both being evaluated and for keeping a track record of students who aren’t performing well, so that you have some protection if admin gives you grief about their grade.
      – It’s very hard to find out ahead of time, but the best environment for teaching is one where administration backs up the teachers. (You can’t really gauge this from the outside, since individuals often have different opinions compared with the truth.)
      – It’s great if you can get some lesson plans from coworkers in your first year who are teaching the same classes as you. Coordinate with them!!! They can help you a huge amount, and prevent you from haring off in the wrong direction.
      – Style-wise, what works for one teacher won’t necessarily work for others. My husband’s style is goofy, and he treats his students like human being. One of his coworkers is fairly terrifying, and that works great for him. Wouldn’t work so great for my husband…
      – Set boundaries. Set them early, make them solid. And make sure that you can actually enforce those boundaries.
      – Incentive structure: Make sure things consistently get worse for people who don’t do what they’re supposed to, and better for those that do, so students are constantly incentivized to do what they need to.

      Good luck!

  9. ThursdaysGeek*

    This is related to the discussion on question 1 on Monday, about the co-worker who was tracking the time of another co-worker who was taking a lot of time off.

    If you have a co-worker who is taking a lot of time off, wasting time at work, or doing lousy work, but their lack of work doesn’t affect you directly, how do you tell the difference between a manager who is dealing appropriately with that co-worker and a bad manager?

    My contention is that even if the co-worker’s apparent slacking does not affect you, whether you have a good or a bad manager certainly does.

    People keep saying that the co-worker’s work is not your business. I agree. But I do need to know if I have a good manager who is dealing with issues appropriately and a bad manager who would rather just let issues slide.

    It seems that managers who keep everyone in the dark about what is going on, perhaps even appearing as if they don’t even see that anything is going on, is a manager that is going to lose good people. And how is that being a good manager?

    I’d be interested in hearing how a manager should communicate to the team when there is potentially an issue with a person on a team.

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I think you will know if you have a good manager, regardless of whether or not you know if they’re addressing issues with a specific team member. Good communication, clear goals and expectations, feedback in the moment, even-keeled, open to different ideas, not micromanaging, etc.

    2. Sadsack*

      I think the only basis you have for knowing is how your manager treats you and handles issues that you are involved in. That’s it.

    3. Ashley (in PA)*

      I really don’t understand this thinking. Obviously, if its egregious enough, the person should be put on a PIP and show improvement or get canned eventually – that would be how you know something is being done. If there’s no improvement at any time, and they continue their job, that’s how you know something is not being done.

      If you were having an issue at work, for whatever reason, and you were under a performance warning or something – would you want your manager sharing with the team how she’s handling it? Doubt it.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        No, I wouldn’t want them to share*, but one of the comments on Monday told of a PIP and firing that took a year. So communicating with the rest of the team that you at least know there is a problem seems necessary, because that is enough time that good people can find another job…because nothing appears to be happening.

        *Although, the one time I was on a PIP, I shared that myself.

    4. Adam V*

      I think the main difference is how the manager reacts to you bringing it up. If you get the impression that she’s blowing you off, or just saying “okay, I’ll take care of it”, then you’ll probably walk away feeling unhappy. If, on the other hand, you get the impression that she wants to stay informed on how it’s holding you up, or how often it happens, then you’ll walk away feeling like “my concerns are being noted”.

      Granted, it’s entirely possible that the boss could give the wrong impression and be doing the right thing – and over time, you’ll learn the truth by what happens with your coworker.

    5. Anna*

      I think there are very narrow definitions of when you can address it if it doesn’t directly affect your work. And I’m not sure I understand you needing to know if your manager is bad or good. Don’t you have other data points to use to determine that other than what may or may not be happening with this particular coworker?

      Other than that, I would say since the way this coworker is failing doesn’t impact what you’re doing, your manager isn’t obligated to tell you there may be an issue.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        And I’m not saying that the co-worker failing is my problem. I’m saying that knowing your manager will take care of an issue is important. As others have said, there are other data points, and a good manager will be obvious on those other points. But a mediocre manager may not, and you’d want to know if you’ve got a problem manager. Knowing that they’re aware and taking care of issues is important.

    6. Amber T*

      If the coworker’s work isn’t affecting you, how the manager manages said coworker also shouldn’t affect you. If you like the way your manager handles everything with you and what does affect you, that’s what’s important. There could be a lot going on behind the scenes that you’re not privy to.

      I think you could only use your coworker’s lack of work as a measuring tool against yourself if/when you ask for a promotion/raise/increase in responsibility (without naming names, of course).

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it really matters if you have an objectively-from-the-outside “good” manager. I think it matters only if you see the results of the management. Does your department get things done? Does your manager treat you right? Do your co-workers managed by the same manager pull their weight and get things to you on time?

      If all that’s happening, you just have to trust that the time off your colleague is taking is warranted—and that’s really between her and the manager you two share. That’s absolutely none of your business.

      When you say “doing lousy work, but their lack of work doesn’t affect you directly” does it visibly affect anyone else? Does it make your department look bad? Or your organization as a whole?

      I think if it makes your department or organization look bad, you should absolutely bring it up. If, however, your org. just wants to pay people to do nothing… well, unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the only workplace like that to exist.

    8. Ad Astra*

      Well, if you have a good manager, there’s a decent chance you won’t know how, exactly, she’s handling the situation. Because it’s not information you’re supposed to know, and good managers keep stuff like this private.

      It would make sense to address the rest of the team if their work was somehow affected, but absent of that, what’s there to say?

    9. FiveWheels*

      I feel a slacking coworker can be a big deal even if their work doesn’t directly affect you. It’s a morale killer to work hard while you see a colleague slacking off.

      Even if they work different hours or have lower pay, the appearance of unfairness should be avoided.

      As an analogy, one reason cited why friends shouldn’t manage friends (or managers and staff have romantic relationships) is that even if there is no favoritism, it could look to the rest of the staff that there is.

      Be fair and be seen to be being fair… Same goes with people slacking.

      1. NacSacJack*

        But in fairness we don’t all work on the same thing at the same time and sometimes some of us are underutilized in our positions at various times of the year. What are we supposed to do? Stare at an Excel worksheet ?

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yes, that’s my point — someone apparently slacking is a morale killer, and how does a manager properly address morale, without mentioning PIPs or medical treatment, or anything else that is none of our business.

        And no, we don’t all work on the same things, but we often have a team where we do similar work and have similar hours. And since we are human, we do look around us.

        1. Jinx*

          I have a coworker who does the same type of work as me but on different projects who routinely is at work for less than six hours. Makes more money than me too (he couldn’t figure out 401k forms when we started, asked me to help and showed me pages with his salary). Today he showed up at 10 AM (two hours after me), took a half hour longer lunch break (a total of 90 minutes) and left just now. This is fairly routine, not holiday-weekend-specific. I don’t keep a spreadsheet but I have line of sight to his desk so I see it.

          It’s none of my business, fair enough. But the appearance of someone working four to six hour days and making a lot more money in the same role is something that affects my morale.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            And your morale is something that your manager should care about. Especially if you’re a good worker.

    10. eee*

      I feel like doing lousy work might be something where you would want to know your manager deals with that appropriately–knowing that they tell them clearly what their shortcomings are, what they need to improve, etc. But for everything else, it’s hard to know whether that’s “slacking” or just taking advantage of having a lighter schedule than usual. For my job, there are two cycles that affect our business–the general season of work progression (some months everyone is really busy, some months pretty much everyone has more free time), and where their individual projects are. Recently it was our busy season, and all my projects were really busy, so I was super duper busy and stressed. I have a co-worker who I like, but who during this really busy season actually had a lot of free time. Her job is not the kind where she could take over any duties for other busy people, and I’ll admit, it was a bit frustrating for me to be so incredibly busy every day and see her take frequent breaks during the day. But then I recalled several months ago, where it was the season where everyone has more free time and my projects were all in stages where I had nothing I could do, and I had plenty of free time. A third party who had no idea about our pressures and schedules may have thought that our manager wasn’t dealing with the issues appropriately, and would have drawn incorrect conclusions about our manager’s ability to manage–when in fact I think recognizing that our schedules mean that some months will be frantic, and some weeks will be relaxed is actually a good manager. If they tried to fill up those few weeks where things are more relaxed, we’d certainly burn out. So, I think it would be really, really hard to draw conclusions about whether the manager is managing appropriately.

      1. eee*

        er, missed an important sentence–when I had plenty of free time, she meanwhile was working weekends, working nights, working 12 hour days, all while working with an incredibly stressful person and dealing with her child’s illness.

    11. JennyFair*

      I think this is a legitimate concern, because a manager that doesn’t ‘see’ lousy work is also unlikely to ‘see’ good work, and therefore unlikely to have your back, help your development and career progression, pay you reasonably for your work, etc.

      I worked in a department where the manager, in an attempt to foster a very positive atmosphere, bestowed the same praise on everyone. In the exact same words. At the exact same frequency. How on earth were any of us supposed to know how we were really doing? Like it or not, some comparison is necessary, and feedback is extremely necessary, for those of us who want to succeed. Also important is feeling you can trust your manager.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      While I understand the sentiment that if it does not effect you, you need to ignore it, I also know that sentiment works up to a point and then it does not work any more. One lazy member of a group can kill the entire group’s efforts. A good manager knows that and a bad manager may know that but will feel no sense of urgency in dealing with this.

      In other words, it can be a year or even longer before you are able to conclude, “Nope. My boss is not doing anything here.” Added wrinkle, maybe your boss is all over it, doing everything possible and upper management will not support your boss. So you can make guesses about where the problem is but you can’t prove it.

      Generally speaking, bosses who allow slackers to go on forever, are also the type of bosses that make other bad calls. If this is the only problem you are having with the job and the boss, let it go. It’s not worth letting it wear you down to the point you want to leave the job. The bottom line is that you need your paycheck, Slacker is not worth getting upset over and possibly losing your paycheck.

      If you are having other problems with the job then my suggestion is to look to see what you can do to calm those other problems. Sometimes people get thinking about what Slacker is doing today and they forget that they need to look at the big picture. While Slacker is annoying, there are also ten other serious issues with the job. Thinking about Slacker can be avoidance behavior that allows us to avoid thinking about and working on what is really wrong with the job.

  10. bassclefchick*

    Well, it’s official. My last day at this assignment is next week. And I have nothing lined up next. Temp service is working on it, but nothing so far. And the permanent position I was hoping for is still stalled in the approval process, so it hasn’t been posted.

    I really wish I knew what I did to screw up my “career” so badly. I never WANTED to be a temp for the vast majority of my working life. Having a hard time and feeling like a failure. Hopefully something will turn up soon.

    1. Fabulous*

      I literally made this exact same post two weeks ago!!

      I was working as a temp in a year-long position, was hoping to be hired on but it didn’t happen. I didn’t have anything lined up (not for lack of trying) even though I was working with 3 temp agencies to find something in addition to my own targeted job search. I ended up in another 4-month temp position two days into unemployment, but it’s better than nothing. And it adds on some new skills to my resume. Eventually I’ll probably have to update my resume to have a bulk “Temporary Assignment” section rather than list each job individually…

    2. A. D. Kay*

      Don’t be so hard on yourself! You didn’t screw anything up. Temp work is becoming more and more common in this economy, sad to say. I hate it too.

    3. Formica Dinette*

      I don’t know you, but chances are you’re not the problem and the gig economy is. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this situation because I’ve been there and it sucks.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Yep. I’m also a temp, and probably won’t be hired perm for several years if ever. I’ve been a temp various other places for most of the last six years. A fair number of other people I know are in a similar situation. Companies are just cheap; why pay benefits when you can get the work without?

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          That last sentence is key – if a company can cut corners and find a way to save money, they will.

    4. bassclefchick*

      Thanks for the encouragement! It’s so helpful to know that, no, I’m not alone and I didn’t screw up.

      1. MMSW*

        I’m temping too while I look for something I actually want to do long term. It can be demoralizing, but ther upside is I don’t feel trapped in any job like I did when I was a perm employee at jobs I was miserable at. This current temp job wants me to stay on but I’m realizing I’ll be tired and unhappy if I stay after being here for about a month. If this was a perm job i’d feel obligated to stay at the job and miserable for a year or two.

        1. bassclefchick*

          Such a good point! And one of my coworkers told me today that I’m well respected at the company because I do great work and fit in with their culture. So, I do know that they WANT to hire me. But they just can’t snap their fingers and make it happen.

          Thanks so much for the support!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It’s darkest before the dawn. Trite saying, but some times it is true. Think back in your life when things looked bleak and then suddenly it changed. Just when you thought you could not hack one more minute of Situation X, the whole thing changed and you no longer had to deal with Situation X.

      Hang tough. The longer you work at something the higher and higher the chances of success are.

  11. anon today*

    I’m an admin assistant at a university. I’ve only been here for ~1 year but know being an admin is not what I want for my career. Problem is, I have no idea what I DO want and have no idea how to figure it out. Working at this university, I get a certain amount of free classes every year. I’d like to try taking a couple, but I don’t want to be taking aimless classes either – I’d like to have some kind of a (serviceable) goal in mind.

    I made an appointment at the university’s student employment services to talk to one of their career coaches – I know AAM frowns on their advice usually, but they’re free for me to use and that’s what I can afford.

    Any suggestions for other ways to figure this out?

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Are there certain aspects of your job your really like, or really hate? Admin positions and tasks can vary so widely. What about outside of work – what interests you? What are your hobbies? What do you hate?

    2. SophieChotek*

      Do any of those “aimless” classes excite you to go in a different direction? (if you’re unsure, I might advocate staying in not-your-final-job and taking other classes, perhaps with more directionality in mind.)

      Also besides college-employment services, books like “What Color is Your Parachute” (and a gazillion others) offer assessment tests; not sure how helpful they really are, but sometimes just sitting down and taking the test and seeing the 40-50 types of jobs might spark something.

      I feel you. I feel the same way. I know the job I have now isn’t something I want to do, but I cannot figure out what I want to do next either.

    3. Emmie*

      A lot of people are in your situation. Once you start taking classes and doing volunteer work, you’ll be able to narrow down your interests. I usually advise people to go practical in this situation like business, engineering (if you like sciences), nursing, etc… A major that can open different doors or lead to a defined career path. Sometimes what we like doing is different than what we are interested in studying. Maybe look at some job descriptions and think about the kind of life you’d like to have (8-5? want to work overtime? project work? like details? Want to work solo or with people? Like to deal with problems? Do you mind working weekends? If you like social work then can you live with the low pay, etc…). It sounds silly, but these are real long term quality of life issues. A degree was, for me, about quality of life and opportunities. We’ll all have some advice here. I’ll be interested in what others say.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Sometimes what we like doing is different than what we are interested in studying.

        And sometimes what we like doing is not always something we’re actually good at, so I’d encourage OP to sit down and figure out what her actual skills and abilities are, use those key words on job sites to pull up job descriptions, and see what’s out there for people with her skill set.

    4. Amber T*

      Not really helpful advice other than to say I’ve been in your shoes! Started off as an admin (in finance, not at a university) and didn’t like it, but I had no idea what else I wanted to do. I started taking on more work from a different department and (after a while) was promoted into a position there. Still not sure if it’s what I want to do with my life, but it’s a pretty steady career.

      You could also try volunteering at an organization you’re passionate about. You could always get an inside glance at what a company like that needs, and whether that might suit you.

    5. Mona Lisa*

      I am in a very similar position (admin at a large university) and am also taking classes as you mentioned. Something I’ve started thinking more about in addition to “What do I want to do?” is also “What kind of life do I want to lead?” This is leading me towards jobs that can be done remotely so I’m starting to look at some of the computer science classes offered by our university. Have you also thought about how you want your career to impact your life? Does it need to be something about which you’re super passionate, or are you ok with just having a job that you can be good at?

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      Instead of focusing on figuring out the subject or field, try evaluating the type of work out work environment you excel in.
      –Do you prefer doing the same sort of processes/information every day, or do you prefer going start to finish with a complete project?
      –Do you need to stop working at five, or do you need to stay until the job’s done?
      –Do you like planning, problem solving, or customer service?
      –Are you happy in a support role doing whatever is asked, or do you want to be a decision maker?
      –Do you like being interdependent on a team, or working solo?
      –What kind of management style gets the most out of you? The least?

      Knowing what kind if environment suits you best is a powerful aid in career hunting, because almost every industry has roles in those environments. Then you can look for an industry that interests you and research those roles.

      As far as classes go, I’d say no class is ever wasted if you’re genuinely interested in the subject.

    7. Jadelyn*

      You might have fun flipping through the Occupational Employment Statistics’ Occupation Profiles catalog (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_stru.htm) – I’ve done that in the past while doing career planning for myself. It’s a big list of job titles with job descriptions, employment outlook statistics (average pay, unemployment rates, etc.) and stuff like that. It might help you get a better sense of what you might be interested in just by showing you what’s out there.

    8. EA*

      So I am going through something similar. I know I need a more quantitative job because I dislike the social parts of my job.
      I spent a lot of time googling different jobs, you can usually find a “this is what I do” article on the internet. I also read a lot of job descriptions. I am trying to reverse engineer getting into certain project management jobs, and want to be able to expand my job to include parts of the requirements for those jobs.

      Anyways, not sure if this will help, but it is what I have done.

    9. danr*

      Take the “aimless” classes, without a goal in mind. You’re getting a valuable chance to explore everything. There’s a good chance that one of those classes will prove to be very interesting and then you’ll have a goal in mind.

    10. Manders*

      I could have written this a few years ago, although I was working for a small doctor’s office, not a university. I looked into getting various certifications, but in the end nothing was a substitute for learning what I did and didn’t like while actually working. In my case, that meant going down an internal checklist of what I did and didn’t like doing with my time. Filing, organizing, managing someone else’s schedule, talking to clients, marketing, editing, crunching numbers, designing a website, cleaning–the advantage of being an admin is that you get to try a lot of hats on for size, especially if you’re in a small department.

    11. Terra*

      If you think you might be interested in getting a degree (any kind of degree) you could start with working on your general education credits and see if any of those jump out at you as well.

    12. Pwyll*

      Just to add: While I think we spend a lot of time talking about the bad advice career services sometimes provide, I think that has more to do with the idea that people don’t often talk about things that work, but LOVE to talk about things that don’t.

      That is to say, there are absolutely good career services offices who give great advice. But there are also bad ones too, so going to them isn’t a mistake so long as you go in with an open mind and verify their advice. Grain of salt and all that.

      As for your career: I think admin jobs can lay the groundwork for a great many other positions. Is there any opportunity to branch out at the University with your own work? Can you participate on the admin-side on project management or presentations, that will give you the insight to perhaps do that work in the future? (I know someone who spent her admin time proofing Project Management plans for PM boss, who was able to transition into being a PM herself based on the experience, for example).

      I also echo the other comments above: perhaps focus less on “What” your doing, and focus on skills you enjoy. Do you like reading/proofreading? Take some classes on Communications or Journalism. Is managing the schedule something you do with ease? Perhaps audit a logistics course. Events? Lots of event management, Project Management courses. Etc.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        As for your career: I think admin jobs can lay the groundwork for a great many other positions.

        Yup. I started out as an admin, then became a paralegal, and now have a senior role in my particular niche of the risk management/risk financing (insurance) field.

    13. Lily in NYC*

      Think about what you would do with your life if you were independently wealthy – it might not be realistic but it can be helpful about giving you an idea of where your interests lie. When I daydream like this, it makes me realize that I’d probably be more fulfilled with a non-office job with varied hours (kind of like a real estate agent) and that I like working with my hands (I fantasize about being a fancy carpenter).

    14. Jules the First*

      Let me put in a good word for Cal Newport’s “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” – it’s a study of people who are passionate about their work and the process they went through to get there…I found it very helpful for understanding what types of tasks I’m interested and engaged in.

    15. k*

      trial and error. free classes sound like a dream. follow your gut in re. to interest, but don’t rule things out because they sound hard.

      i think it’s fine to seek advice but i wouldn’t look for advice specific to yourself. i would focus more on methods to explore career options, and spend a lot of time asking people about their own paths.

      don’t let other people pigeonhole you when you’re seeking advice, but most importantly, don’t do that to yourself. you can (and likely will) have more than one career. in one year of work, i met a nurse who was formerly a construction worker, another who was formerly an engineer, and another one who had gone to art school before her BSN. in college, i met a former boeing engineer who quit to go to art school.

    16. Snargulfuss*

      How did you come to work at the university? Was it something you thought you’d enjoy or just an available job? I also started my career in various admin jobs at universities. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I liked school. I thought I might like advising, so I started doing informational interviews with advisors at the university and eventually decided I wanted to go into career services. Universities have tons of different types of jobs, so you might want to start talking to others that work there. Pay attention to those people who seem particularly engaged in their work. You might think that working in, say, the Registrar’s Office sounds super boring, but as you talk to people you might be surprised at what the job actually entails.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      I’d recommend starting with your natural abilities. What are you naturally good at? If you are not sure, what do you get compliments on from others? What types of things make others groan and yet you have no problem, it’s just another day for you.

      Anything is fair game here. Do you go out and work happily in your veggie garden, that no one else in your household will even look at? Are you THE person Great Aunt Sally wants to talk to when she needs help filling out her tax form? Look at your life with fresh eyes. We gravitate to our natural abilities. You are probably already dabbling in something that you can build in to a direction in life for yourself.

  12. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    I made it to the third and final round of interviews and was wondering what you all thought of this. The final and most stringent round was conducted by an outside recruiter – it’s someone who has a relationship with the company but does not work there and doesn’t make final decisions. There some red flags through the whole process but I was just wondering if this is common? I’ve never encountered it before!

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      That’s a little different, but I wouldn’t consider it a red flag. It probably doesn’t hurt to have an outside perspective not entrenched with your org’s hiring process to give you some fresh perspective.

    2. MsMaryMary*

      Something similar happened to me when I was interviewing at my current job. Are you interviewing at a smaller company, or maybe one with a limited HR department (or no HR)? I work at a family business, about 80 people, but no real HR staff. My last interview here was with an HR consultant who is actually a client, but who does not work for the company. It was also the most rigorous interview in the process. I think they wanted a “professional” opinion before they hired me.

      Then again, our hiring process is inconsistent and not super great, so I don’t know if we’re a great example.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        Yes it’s a small company with no HR! I think it’s probably the same thing – that they wanted the person to be well-vetted, but they are not good at doing it themselves. I just thought it was weird that it would truly be the final step in the whole thing, but you and the person above brought up some good points about it.

    3. Pwyll*

      I’ve seen this a lot for early-stage companies, or companies with venture-backed financing, as a way for the majority investor to ensure the business is hiring the best employees, and not just hiring friends/the first person to walk in the door, and to verify that good hiring practices are being used (to protect the investment).

      So, I don’t think it’s necessarily odd, though usually they’re not the last interviewer. I’m not sure it’d be a major red flag unless something seemed off about the conduct of the third party interviewer.

    4. Laura*

      That’s not common, but if it’s company policy, then I wouldn’t be too worried. Is that what they normally do during hiring?

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I’m not sure because it’s a very small company (10-20 people, I think).

        1. Wheezy Weasel*

          I think it might be a positive sign…one of the most rewarding interview experiences I had was for a law firm that hired an outside, technical-focused company to give me a technical interview. That step told me that the law firm was serious about evaluating my skills and realized they didn’t have the ability to do so by themselves. They didn’t have final authority, but it was midway or most of the way through the process, which I called the ‘veto power’ step.

  13. AP*

    So the topic of health initiatives in the workplace has come up a few times here, and I had to share this because I think it’s wacky. We can earn money for completing challenges, assessments, and a “biometric screening” that includes cholesterol, height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, whatever. We all went to the screening and I actually thought it was nice to do this type of screening yearly, so you could catch any potential health problems. But guess what? The points, which are translated into money, are only awarded if you “pass” each section and fall in the “desirable” range. I found that just so demoralizing. I’m not against knowing more about my health or being advised to take action on certain things, but I just found that totally silly. Rant over. Thanks for listening, people of AAM :p

    1. ZSD*

      Wow. That’s horrible. My old job rewarded us for doing an assessment, period, not for meeting magical numerical goals. And they didn’t even tell you this in advance?!

    2. Sadsack*

      What? Your company is given your test results to determine if you are enough to get a reward? Am I understanding that correctly? Or are you saying that you have to do each if the individual challenges or tests to get the reward?

      1. AP*

        Both. You can get points from challenges, but the big points are from meeting certain fitness criteria. So everyone will get some money, but the fittest of them all with get more.

        1. Oryx*

          I can sort of understand if they are using it as a tool to motivate people to get fit so they can meet that criteria but it’s still a really horrible idea.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Just like only the most athletic can get an A in PE class, no matter how hard the rest of us try.

          How do they deal with those with disabilities?

          1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

            This ticks me off.

            PE should grade for attendance only. You show up and at least *try* to participate to your ability, you get an A. But nope, let’s fail someone because they aren’t athletically talented.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Ugh, yeah, even klutzy me used to be able to get at least a B for showing up and wearing my gym clothes and participating, and often an A. I never had a gym teacher who flunked me just for sucking. And I’m pretty happy about that.

              1. Bea W*

                I had one gym teacher who was like this. He’d straight up tell the class showing up on time dressed in gym clothes and willing to participate was all he required. We didn’t actually have to be good at anything.

                I want to say PE was pass/fail in high school, but I may be wrong. It was definitely graded at lower levels. I could at least perform decently in track and field type things, but my skill at anything that involved the use of balls left a lot to be desired. The archery segment scared the crap out of me. I didn’t trust my aim or that of my classmates.

            2. Rachel*

              At my school, they wouldn’t flunk you in PE for sucking. If you showed up and at least tried, you got a C. This was what I got most of the time. Occasionally, if I was lucky enough to have a couple units of activities I was semi-decent at in one quarter, I did get a B. But that was rare!

          2. Amadeo*

            LOL, as far as PE is concerned, I think I got an ‘A’ because I tried. I certainly didn’t get it because I was good at it.

    3. ThatGirl*

      This sounds fairly similar to my work but what happens is that you get points (money off premiums) for a) filling out an assessment and b) going to the screening at all, plus additional $$ for falling into desirable ranges.

      I personally fell short on the BMI goal but I can make up additional $$ up to the max by working with a health coach, going to the dentist, getting an eye exam, and there are other activities and options to choose from.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I should note at my company it’s handled by a third party and the info is not shared except as a mass statistical sort of thing.

    4. Lillian McGee*

      Yech. They had a “free health screening” in our building the other day too. I can’t think of anything I’d want to do less than getting measured, weighed and otherwise prodded in front of all my coworkers. Also I’m sure it was mainly a ploy to try to get people to join the gym. No thanks!

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        We occasionally have health screenings at work, too. I know I’m healthy (because I get an annual physical at my doctor’s office that is covered by our insurance) and I definitely don’t want to get the screening at work.

    5. SophieChotek*

      Wow that is awful.
      Seems like an invasion of health issues too. (maybe not literally, if one has all agreed to it at this point.) But I wouldn’t be happy with my employer now saying, “well, we know Sophie is unhealthy, look at her scores!”
      I agree with what others said — demoralizing.

    6. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      I actually submitted an question to AAM similar to this. There is a bonus program at work, and literally only skinny people can qualify. Even if you do all of the iniatives and go above and beyond, people with a BMI > 25 can not qualify.

      :<

      I feel like discriminating against fat people is the new "In" thing.

      1. Ama*

        Which is so ridiculous because BMI is not a reliable measurement of health, and plenty of elite athletes would be considered unhealthy under that restriction.

        1. blackcat*

          And 25 is low….. a couple of studies have shown that the people who live the longest tend to have BMIs in the 24-28 range. Called under 25 healthy just seems crazy to me.

      2. Oryx*

        Trust me, as a fat person, it’s not new. Plus, as Ama points out, the BMI is really the worst method to measure people against when it comes to health and fitness. My doctor is slowly starting to be less of a PITA about my weight, but she still needs improvement in some areas. I mentioned I was supposed to start training for a race soon and her response was “Oh, are you doing that now? Jogging?”

        No, doc. I run. I’m a runner. A 3x half-marathoner, thankyouverymuch.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Hahaha, there is nothing worse than being called a jogger! I always say that a runner is only called a “jogger” by the newspaper when something bad happens. “Jogger finds dead body” “Jogger mauled by dog” “Jogger hit by car”

            1. Rebecca in Dallas*

              Yeah, as soon as there are “joggers” on the screen, you just know they’re going to be the unfortunate ones to find the body!

    7. Adam V*

      That’s crap. What about people who start out less healthy, but are gradually getting themselves healthier over time? Shouldn’t that be rewarded too?

      1. AP*

        That was my big complaint, too! Say you learn you have high blood pressure and then you go and take steps to address it. That’s wonderful! You should get a reward! But that’s not how it works. There are challenges you can do to earn points, but they are worth way less than the health criteria points. Kinda lame.

      2. Lizketeer*

        That’s how my company does it. There are 2 different plans – maintenance and progress. If you are in the healthy range and stay there, you get rewards. If you are out of the range, but make progress to get there (some % I believe), you get rewards. And I don’t believe one is better than the other

    8. T3k*

      Good grief, they still stick to BMI after it’s been proven over and over it can’t differentiate between muscle and fat?

      1. AP*

        The funny part is that after you have your numbers calculated, you meet with a “consultant” who goes over the numbers with you. The guy I met with was like “Ignore all this BMI stuff, it’s not correct. They just make the categories pretty strict to make it harder to earn points. You’re in great health, get outta here and have a great day”. At least the consultants were honest, I appreciate that!

      2. Ama*

        Heh, should have read down in the chain some more.

        I took a nutrition class in college over 15 years ago and we were taught then that BMI was not a useful measurement — it’s astounding that it’s still being used (by health-related companies, no less).

      3. Ashley (in PA)*

        I was just about to say this. I’m fairly thin/average (wear a US womans size 4/6) but my BMI is “overweight” because I have a lot of muscle weight due to being an athlete growing up.

        1. Izzy*

          I suspect BMI continues to be used because it’s easy to measure- just plug height and weight into a formula. Easier than measuring body fat for example. For population health, especially if you’re surveying a lot of people, getting height and weight is the only thing practical. But using that for individual health assessments, not that useful.

    9. Terra*

      IANAL but if you’re in the US this might actually be illegal. The affordable care act allows for wellness discounts but by law they must be nondiscriminatory such that you can receive the reward both if you meet a certain weight (for example) or fail to but take certain additional required actions such as reading a fact sheet on healthy BMI and signing it (for example). Link in the following comment.

      1. AF*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. This can’t possibly be legal, and certainly not ethical.

    10. A. D. Kay*

      That is so insulting and demoralizing! It is amazing to me that companies still do this.

    11. The Rat-Catcher*

      Yuck! We have incentives, but they come from taking the actions, not the ranges you fall into. Seems really discriminatory and gross.

    12. eee*

      Um, that’s also really dumb–a lot of time companies do health initiatives to try and save themselves money with health insurance. If only people who fall into the “desirable” range get points, that discourages people from the “undesirable” range from participating in the first place-meaning people who are fat, people have cholesterol problems, people with other types of health issues–aka mostly people who are more likely to NEED those screenings, and for whom those screenings would be really helpful.

    13. Jen*

      Our company does this, but in the first year you get points just for doing the test. In subsequent years, you only get points/credit if you complete an action and POSSIBLY if you improve (i forget). You can go from extremely high BP to slightly less high BP and still get the points.

    14. Anonimity*

      That’s a pretty horrible policy. Our firm does something similar but they don’t have access to the results, at least they claim not to anyway, because it’s none of their business.

  14. The Butcher of Luverne*

    I had an interview this week that went pretty darn well (although you never know, right?). Fingers crossed for a call-back.

    One of my first questions was, “Are you adding to the department or replacing someone?” The answer was, “We’re replacing someone who does not, at this point, know that they are being replaced.”

    I appreciated the honesty.

  15. KatieKate*

    I JUST HAD A GREAT SECOND INTERVIEW OVER SKYPE AND NOW THEY’RE BRINGING ME INTO MEET THE TEAM

    SENDING THIS KIND OF FORTUNE IN EVERYONE ELSE’S DIRECTION

    *throws glitter*

    1. Kristine*

      That is awesome! Congrats and good luck on the in-person interview. I’m also going to absorb some of that good fortune glitter for myself.

    2. Worker B*

      Congrats to you and thank you for sharing the good fortune, could definitely use some :)

    3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Congrats but darn glitter. I’ll be finding this for weeks now. ;)

      (Congrats!)

    4. Snazzy Hat*

      Huzzah! I hope you’re a great fit with the team! And thanks for the much-needed fortune glitter!

  16. Anony*

    I left a toxic work environment about 2 years ago. This was my first professional job and, at the time, I didn’t have the confidence or knowledge to say no and stand-up for myself. I started having panic attacks at my desk and the thought of staying made me literally sick. This was also a job that where everyone was “life a family”, and you know how toxic that can be. Because of that, it was really hard for me to leave…it took me 2 years to build up the courage to even start a job search, and I still felt guilty. I cried when I gave my notice. Now, even 2 years removed from the situation and a billion times more knowledgeable and confident, I still get panicy when thinking about it and have some post-job PTSD that I fear I will carry with me forever.

    I keep in touch with one person from that job, whose friendship I truly value. She doesn’t know all of the details…she still works there, so in an effort to not badmouth my former employer or poison her thoughts against them (or my reputation), I still haven’t told her everything. I found out from her recently that, after I left, I was basically badmouthed by my former boss and the employee that replaced me. Apparently there was a lot of “If she had just talked to us about what was bothering her…” and “I can’t believe she left right before a huge merger!” (note: there was always a huge merger).

    On one hand, this just solidifies the reasons that I left. I know it was the right choice and this was a toxic environment. I know I’m better off. I want to not care. But on the other hand, I do still care. I did everything I could to handle things professionally. I gave ample notice. I thought I left on a good note. I’ve even gone back to visit and say hi. And now I find out that none of it really mattered, and I hate that I still care. I feel like I did something wrong, and I am equal parts angry and sad.

    Partially, this was just to vent, but also I want to know – how do you get over the feelings of something like this? When do you stop feeling guilty? When does the anxiety that comes just from thinking about it end?

    1. Jadelyn*

      It can take a long time. I had a toxic workplace that, thankfully, I ended up getting let go from because I got so disconnected from my work as a way to cope with the BS, and because of the way people had talked to me about my predecessor when I started I *know* they’ve talked shit about me after I was gone. For…I want to say about a year after that place, I would literally physically cringe and feel sick whenever I thought about that place and wondered what they said about me. What got me past most of that was my current job, where I’ve been surrounded by incredibly supportive people who genuinely want to see me succeed and are happy to share skills and knowledge and mentor me, so that started to counterbalance the “oh god people hate me” thing left from toxic job.

      Given that you’ve already been out of there for longer than that, and it sounds like you’ve got a pretty healthy workplace now but are still struggling with this, have you considered therapy? Not necessarily long-term, but just talking with a counselor or therapist for a couple of months to get some help in mentally reframing the issue so you can move forward.

    2. Rex*

      Congrats on your escape!

      I think this just comes down to forgiving yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong by leaving — people leave good and bad jobs all the time. The fact that they blame you for it? Says more about them than you. They can and have done just fine without you.

      Also, maybe ask your friend to stop giving you updates about what people are saying about you? Honestly, if your friend is offering this information unsolicited, it would make me question the friendship a bit.

    3. Lily Evans*

      There’s no magic way to stop feeling guilty. I had a similar situation and reframing the way I looked at it helped. People leave jobs. It happens. You didn’t owe them talking through what was bothering you when you were already set on leaving. That would’ve just wasted their time and yours. At the same time, you worked there long enough (I’m assuming) that you developed relationships with your coworkers and even when you don’t really like people, it can be hard to just completely stop caring about what’s happening with them. Accept that without beating yourself up about it. You left and they took it badly, that’s on them. When you think about them, wish them well but then give a mental shrug and move on, don’t dwell on it.

      But this is all easier said than done. I’d recommend talking to a therapist to help process some of those feelings, it helped me!

    4. Mark Eddy*

      If after 2 years, you are still thinking about it to an amount that distresses you, I would look into therapy. You may not need that many sessions just someone who you can talk to about about it and learn to let go of those upsetting thoughts. I get it though. Perseverating is a real thing.

    5. Laura*

      Two years down the line and you’re still feeling this way? THERAPY. Like, seriously. This is impacting your wellbeing from a great distance. If you haven’t already, please please please seek professional help.

    6. The Rat-Catcher*

      High school was like this for me. I always got told that this was what I would have to put up with in the “real world,” and then I started working and people have been super nice and normal.

      I think part of what’s hard here is accepting that you did everything right and it wasn’t enough. That’s a hard pill to swallow any time, but the more you work toward that (that there’s nothing further you can do), the better off you’ll be.

      Also, your current experiences seem to indicate that this wasn’t a problem with you. If it were, you’d have problems in every situation – you’re the common factor! But it’s the dysfunctional workplace that is the issue.

      It gets better as the current good experiences help solidify your perception of “normal.” The longer you go on in a normal environment, the clearer it will be in your mind how abnormal your first workplace was.

      I second (or fifth, apparently) Jadelyn’s suggestion that you might consider processing all this with a counselor, if that is an option for you. If not, know that it will pass and you’re doing great!

    7. AF*

      Anony, I totally understand your situation. I left two similar positions in the past. I’ve often wondered whether my former boss (who was just totally incompetent and a cheapskate) had badmouthed me to clients after I left. He had a habit of badmouthing my predecessors (in order to cover his own failings). I still deal with it. You’ve done a great thing by posting here, because of the supportive AAM community. And I think actually think it really helps to read about all of the toxic workplaces that people have written in about here. I agree with others that therapy could be a huge benefit, and not talking to this person who’s feeding you gossip (and whether this gossip is even accurate!).

      Also, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of soul searching, and are more confident now. As you said, you did everything you felt that you could do at the time. You cannot change toxic people. The badmouthing your previous manager has done has more to do with them than anything YOU did. You may feel like you failed at something, but really, you succeeded in protecting your sanity. Because this job was your first professional job, it may feel like this kind of environment is the norm, and that could influence how you view work life. As Alison has said, this would have been really harmful to you in the long run, so it’s great that you recognized that this isn’t normal and got away from the mess. Focus on what you did right for yourself, even if some jerks don’t like you for doing it.

      Best of luck to you as you navigate your feelings. I hope you get some time over the weekend to relax!

    8. h.cowl*

      Are you in therapy at all? I felt very silly for going to therapy for a job I’d been fired from over a year previously, but it’s amazing how much it helped. 2 years later, I can say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        Yes yes yes! Therapy helped me a ton with a crappy work situation, and I wasn’t even super impressed with my therapist. It’s amazing how many things we hold on to, in part because they feel too dumb to say out loud, but just having the opportunity to voice those things was so helpful.

      2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        I truly believe (and constantly tell others!) that every single person on the face of this earth can benefit from therapy. Heck, even therapists have to go to therapy before they can provide therapy!

        Therapy can provide coping skills for everything from anger to sadness, help you to process difficult events, and even just help you to continue to progress forward in your life.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Just a few thoughts of practical things you can do right now:
      You are friends with this person. I think that holding back with her is causing you some tension in current time. You can decide to see less of her. You can decide to be more forth coming with her. I’d make some type of shift in that relationship because by holding back you are still feeling the power of the toxic place. Think about how this friendship might be causing Toxic Place to still have some type of hold on you.

      Most toxic places pretty much cry, “Oh she should have told us there was a problem.” Yeah, right. That went so well for the last five people who told you. NOT. That line is a fairly common rebuttal. Don’t grant this babble too much power inside your thoughts. It was fairly unhelpful of your friend to relay this to you, I am sure she meant well but it’s not helpful information, UNLESS it confirms for you that you made the right decision.

      Going forward. Basically you are stuck right now. But you can find a way out. Others have suggested counseling and I agree. But I also suggest on reading up on toxic work places and bully bosses. First to learn that you are not alone, unfortunately this is too common a problem. Second to learn how you want to handle such a situation if you ever encounter it again.
      We feel stuck, like someone took our power away from us, if we do not learn how to handle tough-tough situations or build a plan of what we can do if we see it again. One of the things to learn is how to identify toxic situations quicker. Granted it is hard to read other people’s stories about toxic places, but in time it is less hard and you start seeing patterns and learning the mechanics of the situation. Knowledge is power. Part of your stuckness now is the lack of new knowledge.

      Yes, it will always be with you. And in some ways that is okay. However the way you perceive it will change. The way to start this change is to tell yourself, “this is part of my life that I will always remember.” Start there with a simple acknowledgement that what you saw and learned will shape you and your life for a long time to come. The opposite reaction of expecting it to go away seems to cause more problems than it solves. Decide it probably won’t go away and it is now a part of your life’s story.

      Lastly, this one is going to sound silly. Try it before you judge. Each time you think of Old Place, stop yourself and say, “That is not happening anymore. It is over. OVER. DONE.” Sometimes our mushy brains forget that we have moved to a different place and we have to remind ourselves that the bad thing has stopped. If you forget to do this sometimes just start fresh and renew you commitment to reminding yourself that it is over.

  17. Frustrated Optimist*

    I actually tried submitting this question on last week’s open thread Friday, but I was late to the party and I don’t think many people saw it. Anyway, here we go again.

    I have been trying to get into a major healthcare system in the Midwest for the past year. I have been applying to positions which are in education, administration, customer service, or some combination thereof. (My background comprises all of the above). Three times now, I have been selected for a phone interview. I’ll sign up for an interview slot, and usually the soonest available is about ten (10) days out. However, in each case, prior to the phone interview, I’ve been notified that the position has been filled, or that I am no longer in contention.

    The first time was a bummer. The second time seemed like a bad coincidence. By the third time, though, I am starting to wonder if there’s something else at play.

    Does anyone have any insight into this situation….? I have some vague indication that the positions are being filled internally, but I can’t confirm that. Do you think I was every *really* in contention? Or is the institution just going through the motions of “considering” external candidates when really they had an internal candidate all along? Does the fact that the phone interviews are always scheduled ten (10) days out suggest that external candidates are being treated more as “back-up” candidates, if their internal person declines?

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      I know at my hospital we are required to leave the role open a certain amount of time for internal candidates. Some new managers mistakenly think that they must interview all internal candidates! This leads to a long time before externals get a chance to apply and often I see managers “settle” for an internal applicant because the role has been open for 4 months by that point and they just need a body to fill the space!

      1. Frustrated Optimist*

        Very interesting insight; thank you. It did not even occur to me that by the time I see a job posting, it may have been posted internally for a longer time. If there’s a similar practice in the hospital system I’m applying to, that could explain quite a bit.

    2. BRR*

      Hmm that is really weird. If the last time was really recent can you respond and say this has happened multiple times and ask about it? Do you know anyone that works there and could ask about it?

      I’m also just throwing this out there that if you’re applying to a lot of jobs at the same employer in a lot of different areas it could hurt your chances. Not sure if that’s in play here.

      1. Frustrated Optimist*

        Thank you for the feedback. Yes, during the phone call with the HR rep who told me that we would not be having our phone interview after all, I did mention that this has happened multiple times, but she had no insight to offer. Similarly, when I’ve spoken to people who work in this mega-hospital system, all they can say is, “Yeah, these things happen. Don’t get discouraged!”

        I also hear what you are saying about applying to multiple positions in various areas. There is no way I would try this with a smaller organization, but this hospital system is huge with possibly dozen of HR screeners. In fact, each time I’ve been contacted by HR for a phone interview, it’s been a different screener.

        But thanks for the validation that this is indeed weird!

        1. BRR*

          I would just go with that the system is so large the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. Also there may be multiple screeners but are they using one ATS system.

        2. Blue Anne*

          From what you said I’m imagining something like the CLE Clinic which seems to be all over the place here. I would think it was totally appropriate to have multiple applications out to them.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You could be right that internal candidates get preference.

      Not the same field but our board interviewed three candidates for a position. The first person knocked it out of the ball park. You know that wish list that Alison talks about? The candidate had like 80% of that wish extensive list nailed. It was almost senseless to continue interviewing. But you know Ms Wonderful could win a million dollars in the lottery and run away to Hawaii. Then we would be back at square one. We have an ethical obligation to do what is best for our org, we can’t be following hunches or making snap judgments. We continued on to interview several more incredible people. We must fill this position so we will keep the list of candidates handy until we know that the one we pick is actually employed by our org.

      I can be straight forward here, we never, ever thought we would be getting candidates of this caliber. Our group is going slowly and carefully because we realize we have been very fortunate. If #1 goes to Hawaii, we will move to #2. If #2 takes off for the South Pole, we will move to #3.
      My suggestion to you is that what seems like bad coincidences may actually be the result of a person or people working slowly and carefully because of having several good candidates including yourself. It’s hard to know what goes on behind the scenes and oh-so-easy to assume the worst.

  18. rock'n'roll circus*

    I just found out that at my new job, the girl who lives in the apartment directly next to me works at my company (~75) people. My teammate mentioned it to me, (The rest of the office works together on other things but I work on a small 9 person team that’s on a different product thus doesn’t deal with the rest of the office)

    I also have a verrrrrrrry loud cat that I am nervous has been driving my neighbors nuts. Is it odd if I ask her if she can hear my cat/if he’s annoying?

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Do you want to open up that conversation at work? I personally wouldn’t. If noise was bothering her I would assume she would come knock on your door. I would personally try to avoid drawing attention to being neighbors at work.

      1. rock'n'roll circus*

        She was the one who brought it up to the teammate, and also she has very limited English skills. (I work for a non-american company where this is pretty common cause management speaks her language and she’s an Engineer so no customer facing rolls ) so I worry that she wouldn’t mention it otherwise. But I am probably just being overly paranoid, I pretty much only hear noise from the person living directly above me, so it’s likely that is the case for them as well. (And the person below me has a loud dog so I pretty much don’t worry about them and it’s a mutual thing)

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          Because I do not like mixing home and work life. There is no paranoia involved.

          1. rock'n'roll circus*

            Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen in my industry. It’s pretty standard for us to get together all the time outside of work go out / I’ve been to several parties at other coworkers places etc.

          2. Anon For This*

            This isn’t even about mixing the two. You can acknowledge that you’re neighbors without inviting them to hang out for a barbecue.

            1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

              Avoid drawing attention =/= not acknowledging we are neighbors.

              Avoid drawing attention = not bringing up neighbor related issues at work.

              1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

                LOL. AAM posted a Saturday morning question exactly highlighting why I do not want to be living near co-workers!

      2. Sadsack*

        I wouldn’t have that specific conversation at work either, but in general I don’t think it’s a big deal if it is known you are neighbors.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      You could ask another neighbour, but is there realistically something you can do if the answer is yes?

      1. rock'n'roll circus*

        Yeah, my cat stays in my bedroom at night and is loud. So I could move to the other bedroom in the apartment (that’s smaller) and on the side of the building where there is no next door neighbor. I’d just like to avoid that unless i know there’s actually a problem.

        1. E*

          Treat this as a separate issue, non work related. If your neighbor comes to you to complain, then you’d fix the problem. If she hasn’t come to knock on your door yet, it probably doesn’t bother her. But I wouldn’t bring this up with her at work.

    3. Anon Moose*

      Idk, I wouldn’t mention it unless it came up between you and the person who is actually your neighbor. I just don’t like to mix office and personal. I actually live down the street from a board member for my organization. I figured it out from an address form but haven’t acknowledged it because I’m not comfortable mixing the personal/professional with this board member.
      But really, at most if your coworker found out it might be “oh, you’re the one with the cat?” But it doesn’t sound like something a reasonable person would hold against you. If they had a problem as a neighbor, they’d knock on your door (or write a passive aggressive note.)

    4. BRR*

      I think there’s personal preference involved here. What I would do is first assess how sound proof your apartments are. If you hear a lot of what your neighbors are doing, next time I see the coworker (I wouldn’t seek her out) at home or work, I would say, “I know this is kind of weird but I’m worried my cat might be really loud. Can you hear it? I want to know so I could do something about it.” I think neighbors might be annoyed by things but rarely say something so I would want to be considerate, especially if they’re a good neighbor. That also reminds me that if she’s semi loud I would let it go.

      That all being said, it seems like the consensus is to not bring it up and I think it should be considered that so many people feel that way .

    5. Jaydee*

      I think it would be odd if your first interaction with your coworker/neighbor is to ask about the cat. I don’t think it would be odd at all to introduce yourself to the coworker/neighbor in general.

  19. orchidsandtea*

    I’m intrigued by the role of a business analyst. If we have any business analysts here, could you tell me a little bit about what your day and week are like, and what skills/training you use most?

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      BA’s are one of those roles that vary widely.

      I have had several BA roles:
      BAI: managed peoples schedules and fulfilled more of a “team lead” role; Researched the “why” of poor performance. Completed monthly reports.

      BAIII: (I skipped 2); Managed the data and appeals process for an incentive program. Used Macros to automate reports. Created flashly easy-to-understand dashboards.

      I would say the top skills I use are Excel, Visual Display of Quantitative Data, communicating trends and numbers to number phobic people.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        If someone on your team didn’t yet have BA experience, but wanted to move into it, what would you recommend they invest the most time learning, so they’d be able to serve the team best?

        I’m currently with a small market research consulting firm—and since it’s a tiny company, that means I research prospective clients and their industries, design and give presentations on highly abstract things to highly concrete people, do fill-in-the-gap admin work, and do lots of problem-solving. With my own processes, I’ve halved the time of doing core tasks over the last 3 years (while customizing each task more, not less). Right now I work from home, mostly independently, and I miss being on a team.

        What intrigues me about BA is 1) discovering how to make teams and processes work better, and 2) figuring out how to communicate that. And I like that the job description is broad, that it can vary depending on what’s needed. I love strategy, analyzing reasons (especially tricky ones that initially seem like something else), designing presentations, and especially bouncing ideas around with another person. I’m trying to figure out what sort of jobs I’d enjoy and be good at—and that I can train myself for without going back to school.

        Do you think I’d be eligible for an entry-level BA job, assuming I finesse my Excel and data-display skills? I have 6 years experience out of college, 3.5 in my current job, and half of a philosophy degree.

        1. Algae*

          I’m interested in more about this, too! I just spent a week at a conference that convinced my BA might be a great direction for me to move into.

        2. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          I think if you can show analytical and process oriented accomplishments you can definitely get a entry level or BAII position.

    2. Dawn*

      I’m a BA, and currently my job is pretty much being a BA/ Business Development/ Operations Manager/ Management Consultant to the company I work for (~40 people).

      In this job and my last job I do/did a LOT of “here’s what I think we should do and why.” I jokingly describe myself as being like Vanilla Ice: “If you have a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.” I’ve done everything from advising what technologies should the company use in its products to what the company competitors are currently doing to development and implementation of a 1,3, and 5-year growth plan to advising management on how to run the company better to complete evaluation and overhaul of all internal processes. I’ve written job descriptions. I’ve conducted 1st round interviews. I’ve advised on when to implement a PIP, how to best go about writing a PIP, and how to best tell the employee that they’re on a PIP (and HUGE thanks to AAM for getting me through that process!)

      A lot different than Tortoise’s response, for sure, as I am not working for a consulting firm (where there’s usually a more traditional track from BA -> BA level II -> Senior BA, etc). I got my start as a Research Analyst at a software company on a small team that advised senior management on technologies and competitors as part of the launch and development of a new division of the company.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        That sounds amazing, honestly. In my current job, what I love most is researching industries and trends and causes, and then strategizing about possible directions to take. I’m a fast study, but I’d need a lot of training. What we do and how we do it has given me a lot of good thought-experience but not with the specific action pathways a bigger company would use. I’m so-so at Excel (I plan to fix that before applying to jobs), and I don’t have experience with any fancy programs because my small firm has zero budget for that.

        If you were hiring for an entry-level business analyst role, what would you look for, to know a person could really work for your team?

        1. Dawn*

          If I tell you to do something and you don’t understand, will you ask for clarification before jumping in? If you’re in the middle of something and are unsure of the best way to proceed, will you Google what to do before asking me for help? If you do come to me because you’re stuck, are you going to have already tried at least three other things before asking for help?

          Ultimately as a Business Analyst, I have to stand 100% behind what I say, no waffling and no doubts in my mind. The ONLY way I can do that is to know without a doubt that I have researched enough and prepared enough that when I recommend something I can back it up- either with hard evidence and numbers or accepted best practices or even a convincing argument that my gut says we should do it the way I recommend.

          In my last position, I reported to a CIO who would ask incredibly probing questions about any solution that was presented to him and that’s how I learned to be so thorough with any recommendation that I might have- something that’s served me extremely well throughout the years! Not only am I prepping a viable recommendation, I’m prepared to answer any iteration of “Why are you recommending this?” that can possibly be asked. At my last job, I had to present those answers formally, while at my current job it’s a much more informal kind of thing, but the answers are still there. BA’s have to justify everything and justify it THOROUGHLY, because the stuff that we recommend ultimately impacts the direction of the company which, in turn, impacts the bottom line. I’ve gotta be SURE before I open my mouth!

    3. Accidental Analyst*

      I didn’t start in a BA role. I was able to move into it by being the only person interested in designing and testing changes for the company’s internal software. In that company my duties included designing and testing software modules, writing manuals, providing intranet training, company reports, erp implementation and support. In my new company I’m still designing, testing, documentating and training software.

      Suggestion from someone who fell into the role, is the only BA in the company and the company doesn’t provide training – make an effort to learn the language and processes. It’s harder to move into new jobs if you struggle to articulate your role and achievements in BA talk.

      So even though I can’t really talk about specific training or skills, I can let you know personal traits that have stood me in good stead: a strong sense of curiosity, a desire to understand how things work/interact, a compulsion to improve processes, and an ability to combine logic and intuition.

      1. Dawn*

        I HAVE A SOLUTION FOR THIS!!!!
        There’s a book called the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge that you can buy off of Amazon and it basically lays out (in very dry terms) exactly what a BA should be able to do. It doesn’t tell you *how* to do any of those things but it explains them enough that you can tell when it’d be useful to trot them out.

        I bought it when I was looking for a job so I could make sure and explain all my job duties using the correct BA lingo. It absolutely made me go “Huh, yeah my Research Analyst position was absolutely a BA role.” It’s also been helpful to read about all of the different BA tools that I can then go Google and see if they’d be useful for me to use in various situations.

        1. Accidental Analyst*

          Once my current project quietens down I’ll have to make another attempt. Do you have any tips for getting through it? I don’t think I’ve ever made it past the first chapter or two.

          1. Dawn*

            It IS a slog. I didn’t read it exactly word for word- I did skim some bits. I brought it to work and read it in 20 minute chunks every day till I got through it :)

        2. orchidsandtea*

          Fantastic! Thank you! Are there any other books or resources you’d recommend?

          1. Dawn*

            Not right off the top of my head. I DO recommend you read every book you can on interoffice communication and management- Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was a huge help!

    4. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I’m a business analyst and my role is basically that of a project manager. I don’t really have any regular daily duties, just whatever needs to be done on the project(s) I’m currently working on. As another person said below “if you have a problem, yo i’ll solve it”, I solve problems for many different groups at my workplace. I may not actually DO the solving but I come up with those solutions and I make sure they get executed by bringing in other teams or experts. We’re often referred to an internal consultants. I work in HRIS so all of our project loosely handle upgrades and improvements to the HR technology and processes my company uses and typically involves working with many different groups inside and outside of HR and always with IT. I have never felt happier in any other position. It’s creative, it’s analytical, it’s social, it’s independent, but most of all it’s interesting and engaging. Plus sometimes I feel like Nancy Drew tracking down information and clues to solve process problems.

      I do agree that there are many different definitions of a business analyst (duluted_tortoiseshell’s experience sounds very different from mine) which is why I often use the project manager description for ease of understanding with people outside my group/company. I was an analyst in my old job in the finance industry and it was nowhere near what i’m doing now-that old job was very much the literal translation of analyzing and manipulating data and creating and automating reports-all of which did solve problems but not in the way I’m doing now.

      I would say the most important skills for my job are excellent communication, creativity, flexibility, the ability to ask questions and hunt down information, being able to see things from different perspectives, and the ability to logic it all out. Is that last one a skill? LOL.

  20. career change*

    How do you determine what the market rate is for salaries in a different industry? I’m trying to switch from project management in digital publishing (basically, apps that let you read content online) to project management in an industry more focused on tech/SaaS/B2B. Glassdoor and Payscale are all over the place so I can’t really pin down what salary I can expect or negotiate.

    I work in Boston, btw, so high cost of living factors into salary needs. I know other industries pay way more than I make now since the publishing industry has relatively low salaries, but I don’t want to end up asking for something too high and lose all chance of a job or negotiation.

    1. Anie*

      I work in Boston too!

      It’s tricky. Try to ask what their range is first, I guess. That way if it’s much higher than you were aiming for, they’ll pay what they think you’re worth. (Which is how it should always go, lol.) Otherwise give a range for what you’d actually accept.

      I know the people in my industry make a range. A lot of my friends make a good 10k less than I do, but when I applied to positions I gave a range 10k higher than I make and everyone has alwasy told me that’s within their budget, sooooo….

    2. Witty Nickname*

      PMI does an annual (I think) project management salary survey that you can filter by industry and market (there’s not always enough data available when you filter too much, but you can get a decent idea of the market rate).

      I don’t know if you have to be a PMI member to access the survey (I think PMI members just get an earlier view of it, but I’m not 100% sure), but it has been helpful to me in assessing whether or not I am ready to move on my from current role (how far below market I am: the flexibility and PTO that I get – too far below market, and the benefits don’t really make up for it).

    3. Jen*

      I also work in Boston. “Project management” is tricky. I manage a project management function and we have lower level project managers making 75k to senior enterprise project managers making $140k (no real bonus for either role).

      Does the role involve on-site travel or will it all be remote? are the projects internal (typically less $$ and less experience) or client facing?

      So…without knowing all of that, I recommend researching glassdoor.

  21. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

    I am struggling with the IT department at work. I was promoted internally into a operational-IT role. Technically I fall under operations, but the role is very technical and is a senior level position.

    Once I accepted the role, I found out that the only other internal applicants were from IT. They have personally been a nightmare to work with but I am trying to give them time (it’s only been 3 months).

    However, I have started to notice a larger pattern of IT being extremely difficult for me to work with. This was not true in my previous role at the company and these individual’s opinion of me seemingly changed over night. I can only guess that, in their minds, I took a newly created IT leadership role and I was not even in IT.

    Does anyone have any advice for working in a situation like this? I am trying to foster good relationships with our group and IT, but it is really, really difficult when every single meeting I have with almost any member of leadership in that group is met with outright aggressive defensiveness.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      Hm, okay. So I see two problems: 1) These specific folks’ sour grapes, and how they’re expressing that. That’s a management issue to solve. When they do X and Y, it causes Z and prevents Q. In the future you need them to do A and B; can they commit to that moving forward? If not, what is their exit plan?

      2) How it impacts the rest of the department and your dynamic with them. If they’re badmouthing you and sabotaging you with passive-aggression, the rest of the team may not know how to partner with you. I wonder about doing a once-monthly meeting where you take lower-level people out to lunch (on the company’s dime) without the problematic managers, and ask them where they get stuck in their processes and what would make their workflow more fluid: new equipment, access to an industry journal with cutting-edge solutions, other departments responding more quickly, a pipeline to give feedback up the chain of command, whatever.

      You could use a different question, but something in that vein indicates A) you get that they’re the vertebrae of the department’s workings, and B) you genuinely want to understand how they see things and how you can help them. If you’re showing that you respect their work and their input in consistent, concrete ways, it’s a lot harder for the problematic managers to claim that you’re an outsider who doesn’t get it.

      1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

        These would all be great ideas if I was in leadership and a manager. I do not manage anyone though. ^^

    2. Windchime*

      I may be too late in the day for you to see this.

      IT people are a different bunch. I say this as a person who has been in IT for over 15 years. I love being in IT; a lot of people in my department definitely march to the beat of a different drummer and I find that very cool. There are some people who seem normal (to me, but then maybe I’m not normal?) and some people who are very, very different and bordering on strange. But these are my people, my tribe.

      Your theory could be right, that they see you as an outsider who came in a took a job that someone thought was “theirs”. But I wonder if some of it could be an adjustment to working with IT in general; we are not always a “normal” bunch of people. Either way, it’s no excuse for them to be hostile or aggressive in their dealings with you. I hope everything smoothes out soon.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        What the poster above said, but let me break it down for you. IT people tend to be very frustrated by management types. IT people are data-driven and don’t have much interest in social niceties. They’re very much into the “nuts and bolts” of how their machines work, and have both legitimate and un-legitimate needs that relate to the work they do.

        Legitimate needs include the following:

        Being able to concentrate. IT people frequently have to deal with reading/writing complex computer code, figuring out how to configure things, and solving complex problems which have to do with how software interacts with other software or with other hardware. An IT person who can’t concentrate is likely to be both ineffective and pissed off. IT people have far more need than ordinary employees for headphones and/or doors which can be closed.

        Access to necessary information. A substantial part of the Internet is concerned with how to solve IT problems. An IT person needs either unrestricted Internet Access or a huge technical library. (Guess which is cheaper.)

        Specialized software and equipment. There a probably a dozen pieces of software/hardware which your IT department uses/needs/wants which you know nothing about. This is a huge area and I can’t provide details, but get used to listening when IT people discuss this stuff and make the time to learn something about what they need.

        Non-technical people who can solve ordinary computer problems on their own. A large IT department frequently deals with users who are particularly clueless. It may be that they are understaffed/overburdened by users.

        Management by people who actually understand what they do. Fifteen years later I still remember my enormous frustration with a manager who continually told me “No!” whenever he didn’t understand something – usually followed by a rant, usually followed by a complete lack of comprehension when I tried to explain.

        Any one of these problems are likely to make the IT dept cranky. Two or more of these issues will make the IT dept positively venomous. This is frequently compounded by the fact that IT people are frequently socially challenged or high-functioning autistic.

        IT people are far more likely to respond well to “What are your problems and what can I do to help” than “Is the virtual-teapot project finished yet?”

        All this being said, I also read your top-post carefully and I think you need to find something out. Are they being difficult because you have been put in charge of them, or were you put in charge of them because they have always been difficult?

  22. Mike C.*

    Quick question – Is anyone here familiar with working in the anti-money laundering department of a bank or credit union? What sort of experience is needed, education, that sort of thing.

    I ask because I read about some of the work bring done in this area and it sounds really interesting!

    1. Emmie*

      I’ve interviewed for those positions. It is interesting! They really want someone with experience interpreting the regulations impacting the industry. So, anything you can do to become more familiar with those would really help. Good luck!

    2. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      I worked in that area, and it really depends on your position. I was a business analyst in Fraud and I really only completed KPI reports and never got to work on any of the interesting problems. They were pretty hard set on not letting anyone without a PhD touch the cool stuff.

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          These were mostly PhD’s in math related fields. Mathematics and Statistics or Computer Learning.

      1. Ultraviolet*

        I’d really love to hear more about the jobs the PhD holders were doing–even if you could just suggest some job titles or other keywords for me to search on.

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          Fraud and Operations Analyst III, IV, V, etc. Senior Fraud Analyst.

    3. violetta*

      I do that work at an investment bank, I really love it! My background is not typical for the job (I.e. Not law or finance), I had a couple years experience in banking and got into compliance a year or two back when recruitment started ramping up industry wide.

      I work on the advisory side in anti money laundering, sanctions and embargoes, and anti terrorist financing. I’m pretty junior but I think I really found my niche. I’m on my phone so I’m not gonna type a novel but if you have specific questions I’d be happy to come back later and answer them as far as I can.

      1. Mike C.*

        That sounds pretty badass. Any war stories you’d feel comfortable sharing?

        I’m really just curious rather than looking for a career change – my background is in regulatory/quality/process improvement in aerospace so the combination of regulatory work and analysis sparked my interest. That, and you guys take down some really, really shady folks!

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I have to do annual Know Your Client and Anti-Money Laundering training as I work in finance, but I never get to report dodgy characters. (Perhaps because they didn’t get that far, having been zapped by the Compliance department.)

          Nevertheless, it is drilled into us, that when in doubt, escalate.

        2. violetta*

          I don’t really have cool stories I could tell without giving any identifying details, haha. But yeah we see some shady stuff sometimes – 95 % of which I would say never comes to anything, i.e. We catch onto dodgy business before we on-board the client or we refuse a client request for whatever they wanna do that we don’t agree with.

          May I ask what article you read? I love reading about my line of work. The Panama papers coverage has also been pretty interesting…

          1. Mike C.*

            It was more some commentary on another forum about ethical jobs in the finance industry. One person chimed in about taking down slumlords and sex traffickers and illegal arms dealers and the like. I’m sure it was embellished a bit, but someone has to help enforce international embargoes and the position sounded really, really nifty.

  23. Karo*

    I finally stood up to the rude guy in my office and everyone has told me that they were really impressed with how I stood up for all of us without raising my voice and with turning everything back on him. Still riding that high from like 3 days ago!

    Also, I’m actively doing something to get myself out of this environment rather than just complaining about it to everyone who loves me. Wish me luck!

    1. SophieChotek*

      Good for you! (How did rude guy respond when you “turned everything back on him”?)

      1. Karo*

        He mostly just kept coming up with other things we were doing that annoyed him and I kept pointing out that he was guilty of the same thing but that we weren’t rude about it until he ran out of points. It was really so stupid and minor, but I’m such a passive person that it took a lot out of me :)

        (Also, I meant to say this in the original post – I asked a question about dealing with him in an open thread a few months ago but never had the guts to put anything into practice until this week, so thank you to everyone who helped!)

  24. Ads, ads, go away*

    Mobile reader note: has anyone else been experiencing intrusive mobile ads that don’t let you go back to AAM? I try to close it and it bounces me to another site with a spinning wheel and the back button is grayed out. I’m using safari if that helps. It’s been really annoying.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      Yeah, and when I mentioned it to Alison she said there’s been a string of iOS issues lately. Here are the two solutions she suggested:

      Change Cookie Settings
      1. Click Settings on your iPhone
      2. Select Safari
      3. Scroll down and click Block Cookies
      4. Select Allow for Current Website Only

      Clear All Website Data
      1. Double-click your home button and close Safari
      2. Go to Settings
      3. Select Safari
      4. Scroll down and click Clear History and Website Data
      – Note: This will close all of your Safari browser windows

      1. Gene*

        There’s a link on the Reply screen to report this kind of thing to Alison to help her fix it.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yep, this has been a widespread thing that’s affecting iphone users the past few days. I think it should be stamped out today based on what I’ve been told, but meanwhile the instructions above have fixed it for other people.

      But yes, going forward, please use the ad report form (linked just above the comment form) — I’m trying to keep this stuff out of the comment section now that that exists. Thanks!

      1. Ads, ads, go away*

        Oops, thanks. For what it’s worth it was still happening earlier this morning but seems to have slowed down :)

      2. Belle diVedremo*

        Just reported it, too; it’s still happening on my iPhone as of 30 min ago.

    3. Fish Microwaer*

      Yeah, I get these all the time. They were so bad that I have to read AAM via Facebook. I still get the pop ups but not as frequently as if I view via the browser.

  25. T3k*

    So I applied to this one part time job in the area because their pay range is right at the average for my field and to the point I could work less than 20 hrs. at this place and still earn more than where I was before at full time. They want to schedule an interview, my first one in almost a year. My only problem is I was really hoping to find a place I was willing to stay at for at least 2 years due to 6 months at my first job (laid off) and a year at my last (quit). Decisions, decisions.

      1. T3k*

        Well, it’s not really an “ideal” job (I know, I know, no such thing as one) and only part time, so I’d definitely be making more than where I was, but not enough to be stable, so I’d either have to find another part time job if I got this one, or just settle for a very low income where I wouldn’t be able to afford the activities I like to do in my spare time. I’ve always been of the mindset that if the job paid well enough, the hours were nice (no crazy 50-60 hours on a regular basis), then I could deal with my hobbies just being hobbies as I’d have the cash to continue participating in them and not try to make them into a job. I feel like it’s going to take me 10 years before I find that balance though.

  26. Nobody*

    It’s been determined that my department has a morale problem, and management’s plan to fix it involved an all-day, off-campus meeting/team-building event. This included a catered breakfast and lunch, some team-based games (pictionary/charades types of games), and meetings to discuss issues in the department.

    The nature of our work is such that we have a minimum level of essential staffing 24/7, so those of us performing essential duties that day or night — about a third of the department — were not allowed to attend the event. All non-essential employees were invited (but not required), and everyone who was not scheduled to work the day of the event was invited to attend on overtime (and all of them did, because who wouldn’t want time-and-a-half for a day of being wined and dined by management?). Meanwhile, the rest of us were stuck working short-handed and without most of our regular support staff. One of the managers even called us in the middle of the day to ask us to cover a meeting for him.

    Is it just me, or was it kind of crappy for management to hold an ostensibly morale-boosting, team-building event that completely excluded a third of the team? Obviously, there’s nothing they could do about needing minimum essential staffing, but they could have at least asked if we had any input about the issues in the department. And since they were buying breakfast and lunch for everyone else, it would have been nice if they had done the same for those of us doing essential duties. I’m not even a fan of team-building exercises, but I can’t help feeling a bit devalued.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      I got in trouble once for what I said about how I perceived my place on the team. Essentially I said that I saw myself doing more of the behind-the-scenes and support-type work and I used an example of how every single member of the team got called out individually for the work we did on the team building exercise except for me.

      Yeah. Moral not improved.

    2. super anon*

      That’s really crappy. If morale is already low, I can see those who didn’t get to participate and had stay in the office (and thus not get time & a half pay, or even breakfast) using this as their final straw to start looking elsewhere. I know I would for sure. Even if it wasn’t an intentional slight, it still would sting quite a bit.

    3. Rat Racer*

      Crappy on multiple fronts: a) the exclusion factor and b) thinking that a one-time offsite that includes pictionary and free food will solve endemic problems in the workplace

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Although, it’s really good for pointing out endemic problems in the workplace.

    4. Jennifer*

      These days that figures, I think.

      A friend of mine applied at Eat24 (that place that got publically called out by Talia Jane) and they wanted her to suggest in the job process how they could do morale building activities while a third of the staff was always manning the phones and unable to do anything.

      I think this kind of thing is a pacifier. They can’t or won’t actually provide you with enough staff under ANY circumstances to make you happier, so…this is what two thirds of you get.

      I just finished doing a stint on our company’s staff picnic, and we have a similar issue in that some people just plain can’t do their jobs. We can get free food to people who can’t leave via delivery, and we started putting on a night event for any night time employees who can leave their jobs, but unfortunately there’s only so much we can do for people who literally can’t leave work.

      1. Jennifer*

        Er…”I just finished doing a stint volunteering on planning our company’s staff picnic,” and “some people just plain can’t LEAVE their jobs.”

      2. MT*

        I’ve never thought about it from the event planner’s point of view. That must be such a frustrating dynamic!

        We have twice-yearly “staff appreciation” events that are run by, you guessed it, the staff. Dining staff caters, cleaning staff cleans, facilities staff sets up and breaks down, A/V staff mans the microphones and music, etc. We internally call them “admin appreciation” events because they really only apply to the white-collar staff.

        In terms of doing something “fair,” I’d say scrap the event altogether and close the place for an all-staff-day-off. *That’s* an appreciation event I can get behind!

    5. Ad Astra*

      Ooh, wow, this was ill advised. If your business is truly such that it’s impossible to get everybody off work at one time, the solution is to do something different, not leave people out. For instance, they could have done the same thing on two or three different dates, so everyone would be able to attend one of the dates. And knowing some people made time and a half while others didn’t? Yikes!

      I’d imagine anyone who didn’t get to go, as well as a good chunk of the people who made regular pay instead of extra, are feeling a real dip in their morale. And I bet the more conscientious overtimers feel a bit weird, too.

      1. catsAreCool*

        One something different is to bring in food more often for employees. People tend to appreciate that.

    6. Ada Lovelace*

      Definitely crappy. My job is planning something similar. They scheduled a family bby and fun day on the weekend for all FT employees in a park. They specifically mention building rapport with other departments and employees but in the process, they excluded all PT employees (about 1/3 of us), you can’t come alone (excludes childless employees,) only immediate family, and can only bring two people to the bbq (excludes larger families). Yea I definitely feel appreciated.

        1. Ada Lovelace*

          Yup. Thanks job. Way to raise morale. My coworker wanted to bring her grandkids, since her daughter is an adult and they told her only the daughter can go, without the grandkids. I am curious to hear how it will go.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Nice. I am sure employees who have no immediate family left feel very grateful for this stipulation.
        But maybe I could make it work for me. “I can’t come alone, yet I don’t have immediate family. So I guess I will be sitting this one out.” I am guessing that we have a few other regular commenters in the same boat as me.

        What a wonderful company. not.

  27. always and forever anonymous*

    I am SO angry about the way my department is handling summer hours and vacation time. Summer is our busy season, so we’ve never been able to have summer hours like the rest of the company does. Summer is blacked out for vacation time, too. It sucks, but my department is good about approving vacation policy any other time of the year.

    Except I just found out via an email from our dept VP that summer hours and vacation time are approved for people with families. Because apparently my department VP understands that it’s hard to have a spouse or children and not go on vacation in the summer. And apparently a few people complained that they could never take summer vacations with their kids even though they KNEW going into the job that summers were a no-go for vacations.

    I’m absolutely livid because it implies that as a single person, I’m not worth summer hours or vacation because it’s assumed that without a partner or kids, I have nothing going on in my life. I have siblings and parents, too. I have friends I go on vacation with. I’d also like vacation days to chill out during our busy period. Having an email be sent out saying “exceptions will be made for those with families” makes me want to scream and quit on the spot.

    I’m all for employers being family friendly, but not when being “family friendly” means punishing those without families.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That is absolute, complete, and utter bullshit. Point out that you have a family too, because, well, you DO. And people without families of relatives often have friend-based families or furry families. Ugh.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        I always get so angry that people assume that if you’re single, you don’t have any family. What about my siblings and parents and cousins who I hang out with? They’re still family! And what about friends and found families of non-relatives. It’s sooooo irritating.

        1. Chaordic One*

          One more thing, if you’re single and want to have a family someday, your employer is pretty much making that impossible (or at least very unlikely) when they don’t leave you any time for outside interests and relationships.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I agree completely, I hate that line of thinking, I had such an argument with my old supervisor when they said they were more entitled to Christmas off because they had young children.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        I made the mistake earlier in my career of always offering to go to conferences or travel in place of my coworkers who said they couldn’t go because they had kids. I stupidly assumed they’d make it up to me if there came a time when I couldn’t go, but after two times where travel conflicted with plans and those coworkers used the “I have kids, I need to be home” excuse, I stopped offering to go to conferences or travel in their place.

        I’ll gladly reschedule a meeting to a different date or time if it conflicts with a coworker who has to pick kids up from daycare or whatever, but I’m really tired of seeing some of them (not all, obviously) act like they deserve special treatment because they reproduced.

    3. SophieChotek*

      I agree that is a problem and I would be upset to.
      My company also has a no summer vacation policy; I would be upset if I found out Bob in Sales got to take a week because that’s the only time he and family can go to Disneyworld.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        Exactly. Not being able to take vacation in the summer sucks but I knew that going into the job, and it’s really not fair to let one person take a vacation for unimportant reasons, but not someone else.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        He said there’s nothing he can do. But my boss also benefits from this policy, so he’s not really going out of his way to say it’s unfair.

    4. Isben Takes Tea*

      It’s the same thinking that leads to people with families/spouses should be paid more because “they have a family to support.” All perks, rewards, and compensations should be based on the role and work performance, period.

      This is garbage.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        Right! I know of at least one friend who’s employer gave higher raises or bonuses to families because they have someone to support not only is it totally unfair, but it’s such an archaic mindset.

      1. R Adkins*

        Nevermind — I just realized that this is a local protection for us and not national. Darn.

    5. T3k*

      Wow, this would piss me off so much. I wonder if this is something that can be brought up to HR (assuming you have one)? At the very least, I’d be questioning if I’d want to remain somewhere that has double standards like this.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        Our HR is really unhelpful. They don’t really do anything with complaints except go back and tell the manager who complained about them, so I’m wary about going to HR. I’ve been looking for another job lately anyway, so hopefully I won’t have to deal with this much longer.

        1. Dawn*

          If you’re looking to get out anyway you could always magically construct a crisis in your family that ended up with you having to adopt your sibling’s kid(s) and whoopsies, now you have a family and need to get that time off.

          Only half kidding.

    6. Rebecca in Dallas*

      “People with families.” So that’s everyone, right?

      I’d be so pissed off. I’m married and childless (by choice, not that it’s my employer’s business). I wonder if my family counts?

      1. Birdibee*

        Im childless by choice also, but what if someone couldn’t have kids? Punish them for not being able to procreate? This opens a whole can of worms.

    7. Brooke*

      “exceptions will be made for those with families”

      OHHHHHH HEELLLZZZZZZ NOOOOOOOO.

    8. The Rat-Catcher*

      Rude!!! Your VP’s selective sympathy here for those with “families” (which as others have rightly pointed out is being VERY narrowly defined) is maddening.

    9. AFT123*

      As a married pregnant person, that makes my blood boil too. I hope if you decide to push against this that some of the people benefiting will fight on your behalf too!!

    10. AF*

      You are likely not the only person who feels this way. Talk to your coworkers and push back hard! This is such crap and is guaranteed to destroy a lot of morale, and have the unintended consequence on the people with families that others will resent them. Good luck and please keep us posted!

    11. Overeducated*

      That’s awful!

      I think in some ways people who are caregivers really can have trouble with some things that single employees don’t in the same way (e.g. staying late on short notice – it sucks for everyone, but leaving a kid at day care until you’re done or elderly mom alone after the nurse goes home is just NOT an option). Keeping resentment from arising from those legitimate issues and being fair is tough enough as it is. Mixing up “nice to haves” like vacation just increases the divide and makes people less understanding of each others’ needs.

      1. Ife*

        This, exactly. Sometimes commitments outside of work (most commonly, young kids) makes it legitimate for someone to say “nope, can’t” to things like staying late. Vacation during your preferred time frame doesn’t fall into that category, especially when people knew ahead of time that was the deal. It sucks that your company has decided otherwise.

    12. Amy M in HR*

      Wow..just…wow. This is an incredibly unfair and unjust policy, all of us have families in one sense or another. I happen to be married with children, and would never assume that my workplace should accommodate my vacation schedules just because I had kids.
      You say it is your department handling this “policy”, and that you do not want to go to HR for fear of being ratted out to your boss – what about approaching your boss’ boss? (And shame on your HR person if that is how they treat complaints!)

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Then this company should never hire people without families because an unjust workload is being foisted on single people by this very weird policy. They should only hire people with families so that everyone can share the workload equally./snark.

      I guess you could casually mention that employee retention and attracting a variety of new employees will become problems for them.
      You could mention that of the off summer vacation slots you feel that single people should have first pick and family people can have what is left over. Mention how you would like two weeks over Christmas and New Years. If you have the time in maybe you could ask for a week or so around Thanksgiving.
      Ask if there will be limits to how many family people can be on vacation at a given time.
      What about if a single person gets sick/injured and cannot report for work? Will a family person be required to give up their summer vacation?
      What about bereavement time? If there are too many family people out at a given time, will single people have to give up their bereavement time, also?

      Looks like a wall of words, right? This is how you can wear down a bad plan by asking too many but-what-if questions.

  28. ThursdaysWoman*

    Two things thinking about today.

    1) I have a part-time job at a university, and I have applied for every full-time job I am qualified for there for the past nine months. I have gotten one interview, which was a courtesy – a friend works there. (I know that it was a courtesy because as I was waiting, I heard one of the interviewers outside say, “This is the one we don’t know anything about right?” and another answer, “Yeah, X asked us to talk to her.” GAH.) Anyway, I’ve looked over who they hired for these positions and they are all people who have degrees from the university. Even though I have equivalent degrees from elsewhere, I’m thinking I’m wasting my time. What do you think?

    2) There’s an opening at a friend’s firm that I would like to apply for; but I applied for this same position last year and wasn’t interviewed. The friend did e-mail HR for me, but since it wasn’t her division had no real connection to it. I’m not sure if I should tell her I’m applying again. (Maybe I shouldn’t apply at all.) More thoughts or advice?

    I’m heading in to a year of job hunting, six months seriously. I’m employed so it’s not as bad as it could be – still have a roof over my head! – but I’m starting to really feel the despair. Especially since my student loans just came due…used up my year of deferment. This is terrible.

    1. T3k*

      Depending on your salary, most student loans repayment allow several different options to pay. I set mine to income driven for a time (basically you pay little at the beginning and it raises over time, the idea being you’ll earn more later in your career). However, if you really can’t make the min. payment, mine had an option for forbearance that I was approved for because I was unexpectedly laid off from my first job, and it lasts a year.

      1. ThursdaysWoman*

        I’d actually attempted to do that when I graduated because I knew my wife was going to be laid off, but they based the determination on our tax return and said we had to pay. What did you do to get them to acknowledge the loss of your job?

        1. T3k*

          It was fairly easy for me. I used their site, chose something like “need to change payment options” and there was an option to say “lost job” or something like that. I think there was a few other things to put in, like my total income (which being laid off and single, was 0). Of course you still have to pay the min. until you get approved for it, but that only took a few weeks.

    2. Jennifer*

      I don’t think a degree from that university is the deciding factor. I know plenty of people who didn’t attend the university they work at that can get jobs. However, universities are incredibly picky as hell and they literally want you to have every single requirement on the job listing, so it’s really, really hard to get in any more.

      1. ThursdaysWoman*

        This is going to sound arrogant – but I really do think I met every requirement for most of the jobs I applied for. I’ve checked…they really did hire only people who graduate from the university for every job I’d submitted an app for. Maybe there’s a hidden requirement they aren’t mentioning. :/

        1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

          Or there are so many qualified applicants that they can chose which over qualifications are most desirable. University positions tend to be very desirable, so are very competitive.

          1. ThursdaysWoman*

            Is one of those qualifications “graduated from the university”? This kind of practice is very common; I’m not sure why people won’t acknowledge that part.

    3. Laura*

      I work at a university. I can assure you, nobody cares if you attended this school or not. I would suggest that you NOT apply to every job you’re qualified for unless you truly meet every specification.

      1. Lia*

        The big exceptions to this at many universities are alumni and development departments. The rationale is often “alumni will be more likley to become involved/ give money” if solicited by alumni.

        1. Hey Anonny Nonny*

          I’m sorry to say, I worked at a university in both Alumni/Career Services and Development, and I can attest to this. It really didn’t matter what the qualifications were, an alum would most definitely have a very big advantage, in all roles, not just the fundraisers.

          However, sometimes I thought it had as much to do with those oh-so-important “graduates with employment” statistics, truth to tell.

          1. Laura*

            Depends on the school, too. I work at a very large university with so many alumni, it doesn’t mean anything special to the school anymore (though I’m sure alumni relations is an exception).

      2. ThursdaysWoman*

        I realize that you should not apply to very job unless qualified. I actually do. Unless the issue is that I’ve got a doctorate and not a master’s in the required field.

        I work at a university, too, part time; I’ve been working in university settings for seven years now. The issue is that I am the ONLY ONE in my department who did not attend this university. It really does seem to matter somehow.

    4. Formerly HigherEd Frustration*

      I literally just started a position a week ago in a university. I tried for 18 months before I got this position. So, I just want to let you know that you are not alone and it is super hard. The things that helped me were studying EVERYTHING on AAM to prepare myself for the interview and write a great cover letter and resume. The other thing was basically stalking the university for anything that might help, like interview guides, etc. I found this stuff after looking through their website alot and it really did help me understand their process and what they were looking for. Honestly, I think its a crap shoot. They are really picky and have certain requirements. I even got emails/phone calls from 2 different hiring managers telling me they loved me but they went with someone else bc they had a grad degree or they thought i should look for a job in a bigger dept. I know its super stressful, annoying, depressing, etc. but if you keep trying, even when you’re thinking of giving up, you’ll get an interview with a search committee that you click with and it will FINALLY happen! GOOD LUCK!

      1. ThursdaysWoman*

        Thanks. I guess I should keep trying but it’s honestly extremely depressing and I feel like I’m pretty worthless now. I’ve done all the prep, but it’s getting harder and harder to try because there’s so little encouragement or hope.

    5. Frustrated Optimist*

      Just wanted to share that I, too, am approaching the one-year mark of job-searching. For some reason, that milestone is very discouraging and depressing, even though probably none of the hiring managers realize it’s been that long for you. Frankly, I remember feeling the same way at the one-year mark in my previous job search, which was 18+ years ago. GAH is right. But the feeling will pass and you’ll be able to keep plugging away at the applications.

      1. ThursdaysWoman*

        Thanks. I’m sorry it’s been so long for you, too, and I hope that things get better soon.

    6. BRR*

      A couple of thoughts:
      -Are you applying to too many jobs at the university?
      -How long have were you in your current position before you started applying to other jobs?
      -There are some positions where they value “knowledge about the institution.”
      -I have noticed from working at a university that there seems to be a fair number of people who have degreed from there. I know they’re not specially looking to hire alumni but it might give them a leg up.
      -If the friends haven’t worked with you, their opinions are likely not really going to count for anything. That being said I would mention it to your friend at the firm and just see what she thinks. Give her an easy out though since she’s done it before.

      1. ThursdaysWoman*

        Alison said in a column that it’s fine to apply for many jobs as long as you fit the position. So I should be fine. I have been in my current position for a year, but it builds on six previous years of experience. I am very well acquainted with the institution and have even done the certification to be campus guide.

    7. ginger ale for all*

      I work at a university and when we open a job in our department for student assistants, we get over a hundred applicants per day from what one person told me. I heard that entry level jobs het a similar amount. You are competing against batch after batch of recent grads who need jobs.

      1. ThursdaysWoman*

        I’m not a student assistant or entry level….I’ve got six years of job experience plus a terminal degree. But I guess I am competing against those recent grads anyway.

  29. Clouds in My Coffee*

    Not a question but a small venting session: A coworker who drives me batty and is one of the least efficient people I’ve ever worked with (which likely has something to do with hardly ever being in the office) has used the word “prioritizing” in three different email responses to me this week. “This was late because we were PRIORITIZING…” “That got held up because we were PRIORITIZING…” “Sorry, can’t get that to you because we’re PRIORITIZING…”

    We’re all prioritizing! All the time! Stop mentioning it in every email!

    1. A Definite Beta Guy*

      “Prioritizing” is a buzz-word to me now. Our department has round-robin-type meetings, the kind mentioned earlier this week. We have roughly 200+ tracked projects, so we created a “priorities” tracker to minimize conversation.
      Then that wasn’t working, so we started talking about “prioritizing the priorities.”
      That’s not working either, so we’re talking about having a pre-meeting for our weekly meeting so we can prioritize the prioritization of the priorities.
      I am not making this up.

      1. Clouds in My Coffee*

        Yiiiiikes. That would make me crazy. One of the things that bothers me so much about her using it is that it doesn’t matter if we help her prioritize things (when she asks us to); she still can’t get things done efficiently or on time on a consistent basis.

      2. MoinMoin*

        lol. I read prioritizing as trying to say, “Sorry this is late, it’s just that I don’t care about it.”

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          We needed to figure out which project was the least important, and after writing each project down on colored construction paper and shuffling them around, we eventually put them up on the board in a hierarchy configuration and came to the conclusion that yours was by far the least important. Then we had coffee and pastries to make sure we could get through the important projects.

          O_o

        2. MT*

          It really is just saying “you’re not a high priority.”

          Which, sure, we’ve all been in that boat, but you don’t come out and *say* it. Especially not in every response!

      3. Aurion*

        I actually laughed out loud reading this. I’m not trying to make fun of your misery, I swear, but I can’t fathom anyone saying “prioritize the prioritization of the priorities” with a straight face.

        My deepest sympathies.

      4. mazzy*

        Sad but true. I’ve had the prioritizing the priorities among the priorities thing before. The root cause was the same. Not enough people, the stuff absolutely had to all get done at once, and in a good economy would be viewed as a staffing issue, not a priority issue.

        1. Chaordic One*

          And then one the branch offices calls (say the one in Australia) and they need the in-process report you’ve been working on and that wasn’t due for another week, early for some pathetically obtuse reason and out go your pre-established priorities.

          1. Mazzy*

            Or in my case, I’d find out a month later that one of my coworkers was calling IT behind my back to get totally non urgent work done, instantly knocking my priorities down to zero….

    2. Jennifer*

      Yesterday I wanted to have a seizure every time a guy said “evangelizing.”

      Nobody likes evangelists, dude. Nobody.

    3. Elle*

      Ha! Stuff like that is like salt in the wound when they are already annoying the crap out of you!

    4. Lizabeth*

      My word was “verbiage” being used wrong by acct rep constantly. You have my sympathy.

  30. I just want to scream*

    I’ve had such a crap week this week, work has been so rough since before Easter and not showing any signs of improving, some edited “highlights” included

    * Our tech team arguing that a 24 hour delay on updating our real time reporting system is acceptable.
    * Human error resulting in a $2,35 Million reporting difference in sales figures we reported to the board (not related to the above)
    * My Director expecting a six month project to be planed, implemented and delivered in 4 days
    * Another tech team point blank refusing to do their job resulting the me getting chewed out by the board
    * being shown nothing but contempt from the areas of business we support
    * Yet another tech team messing up our business critical processes with weak ass poorly implemented changes made without any prior notification
    * External developers providing untested junk code released into production with no testing or change control (not related to point above)
    * The only person on my team keeping me anywhere near sane is talking to their old employer about going back to them

    And I’m sure there is more that I can’t think of right now.

    My plans for this weekend had involved seeing just how much Vodka I could consume intravenously, but I have to work Saturday and I can see it spilling into Sunday as well.

      1. I just want to scream*

        Yeah I think I need too, the place is far to dysfunctional.

        The problem is the job is teaching me some good skills and I can’t see being able to move to another employer in a similar role for another six to twelve months at least.

    1. MT*

      As a member of a tech team, your tech teams suck. Our job is to make your jobs easier, and that “special snowflake I work with technology so I don’t have to be accountable to people” attitude is so grating.

      Virtually-clinking my vodka glass to yours. Hopefully you find a place with people who take pride in their work.

      1. I just want to scream*

        Thanks A new job isn’t really on the cards anytime soon unfortunately.

        I’m in a tech team myself, but I have to deal directly with the business so it ends up that I’m accountable to them but no one seems to be held accountable for the services my team is dependant on to deliver to the business.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      You must work where I do. Currently we are working down the the wire for the last two weeks on multiple papers that have had SINCE CHRISTMAS to be developed and socialized. WTF people. Oh, and throw in a strike action for next week THE DAY BEFORE it is all due and senior managers have to go cover workload and its been AWESOME.

      Can recommend whisky either neat or with an ice cube. One glass and I am ready to hit the hay and its maybe 8 pm. Not even yoga was solving the stress issues this week…

      Why do people do this? Alternatively, how can I become more incompetent/care less and make more money?

      1. I just want to scream*

        Nothing like leaving things to the last minute to cause a panic. Who knows why do people do these things? I hope you hit your deadline.

        Whiskey is good, and there are only two things you should ever add to it:
        1 – Ice
        2 – More whiskey

  31. Terra*

    Does anyone have advice on wording to withdraw from a position? Normally I just go with a generic “Thank you for your time but upon consideration it appears this position would not currently be a good fit for me. I’ve enjoyed speaking with you and wish you luck in filling the position” but twice recently I’ve gotten push back with people either not understanding that this means I’m not interested in the job or insisting that I can’t know that the position isn’t a good fit yet and should attend another interview before making a decision. It’s not the worst problem to have but it’s starting to get on my nerves. Advice?

    1. LisaLee*

      I go with, “I will have to withdraw from consideration because I have taken my job search in a different direction. Thank you for your time.” I think you’ve really got to have the word “withdraw” in there, because some people are dense.

    2. Glasskey*

      Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with your language here and easily see that it means you’re taking yourself out of the line-up. If I got a follow-up question from someone saying I should come in for another interview before deciding to withdraw I would probably just ignore it and not feel the need to respond further. Imagine if the tables were turned-I think many organizations who decide not to hire a candidate will use the softer approach in communication as you have done and if a candidate comes back and says, “huh? What do you mean?” or “You can’t really tell I’m a bad fit until you interview me some more!” that would be seen as a major no-no.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, unless one of the responses asked “do you mind if I ask why you felt it wasn’t a good fit?” and made it clear it was because they wanted to know what the employer might be doing to turn people off, I would just ignore their response. Any hiring manager/recruiter who tries to tell you you can’t possibly know your own mind is a pretty big red flag.

      2. Overeducated*

        You might just have to reiterate that you are not interested. A few weeks ago I told a search committee I had accepted another offer, thinking that was clear, and they actually emailed back an hour later asking if I wanted the job. They were just making sure, I guess.

    3. Jennifer*

      You could just say that your circumstances have changed or something vague like that. I don’t think pointing out the fit sounds terribly great, to be honest.

      1. Terra*

        I tend to use “fit” as a generic “its not you, its me” type phrase for anything from the salary being way too low to the fact that I found out in a phone interview that the office I’d be working in was actually three hours further away than the main office but I could change it if it seems too buzzwordy.

    4. Pwyll*

      I’m not sure that you even really need to offer a reason.

      “Dear Bob, I am writing to withdraw my application for x. Thank you so much for your time and consideration and best of luck in filling your position.”

      1. BRR*

        This is perfectly fine in my opinion. As part of interviewing being a two-way street, you get to reject employers.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The few times I have done this (before computers) I went through an in person version of The Begging. Honestly, I think that it’s just their shock talking, they are genuinely surprised and want to make sure they understood correctly.
      It could be that you are a great candidate and they want to understand what they did wrong. Or it could be that you are the x refusal this week and they wonder what is up.

  32. LisaLee*

    Museum/archive/conservation people: Are there any conferences that would be useful for a person who isn’t currently employed in the field but would like to be to attend? I really would love to get a job in museum or archive work, but I’ve been finding the competition pretty fierce (I have no master’s degree, but I do have some experience) and I have some money I could put towards a conference. The ones I’ve looked at seem pretty oriented towards people already doing the work and I’m not sure it would actually give me a boost to attend though.

    1. Liz W.*

      There are freelancers in the archive/conservation fields: I would go anyway if the topics are interesting enough.

      1. LisaLee*

        My issue is that if there isn’t going to be a concrete get-a-job benefit from a conference, I’d rather stick the money in my “grad school someday” fund. A lot of the topics look really interesting, I just don’t know if I can justify it as a cool thing to do.

    2. BRR*

      I’m not in the field but from the limited knowledge I have I would say it’s not going to give you a boost. Adding “attended conference” isn’t going to make you stand out when applying to jobs in my opinion. Unless you can easily swing it financially, I wouldn’t go. If you do go, think of it as attending a convention on an interest and don’t think of it as affecting your job prospects.

      I also know this field has really intense competition for jobs and a graduate degree isn’t going to really separate you from the herd either. I know not having a masters might disqualify you from some positions though. In an ideal world I would recommend trying to get a job first, then get your masters.

      1. BRR*

        So I didn’t mean for that to be so depressing. I have a masters and tons of student loan debt originally wanting to go into arts administration and I just don’t want others to waste their time or money.

    3. ElCee*

      Yeah, I don’t work in that field but 85% of my friends do. It’s a small world with a lot of importance on networking, but honestly even then it’s tight. I would say that without a master’s or prior experience at a museum it will be tough–I would focus on grad school not only for that but for the networking opportunities. But you can network for free too–volunteering at a historic site regularly and even just visiting a museum and chatting with the staff are great ways to do this. People always remember visitors who ask interesting, intelligent questions ;)

    4. Overeducated*

      A regional museum conference would be more affordable than a national one, and they are pretty good for networking. If you can find one where you wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel, it might be nice to go. Some associations also have “early career” or “emerging professional” (gag) interest groups, and have things like advice discussions and resume critiques at the conferences. Those did not actually get me a job directly but they did help me learn more about career trajectories and how to present myself.

    5. An Archivist*

      Oftentimes there are workshops attached to archives conferences–some of those might be interesting or useful. Particularly at state/regional conferences there are more basic “intro to” workshops that would actually be a decent intro to the field. They wouldn’t help you get a professional position but might help with a paraprofessional or temporary job.

    6. Lone Arranger*

      Honestly, you’re probably better off starting in a volunteer position at a library/museum- that’s how I got in to the field. These institutions are almost always happy to take on volunteers with little or no experience. For me the biggest benefit of volunteering for a large public library system (aside from the archival experience I was getting) was getting first dibs on entry level job openings and asked if I was interested in applying before they made them public.

    7. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      This topic makes me twitch because the best answer is volunteering, but . . .. The culture resources field (museums and archives are the most guilty) depends on volunteers to fill in the gaps instead of creating entry-level positions. By volunteering, one says this model is okay. Then the market is even more tight for those journey-level positions because institutions use volunteers to fill gaps team of creating positions. And the cycle begins again. I don’t completely blame all institutions because many have to make do with less. And many are tied to government.

      Are you hoping to go into conservation or more broad museum/archive settings (like being a collections manager who does basic repairs)? Either way, I think it’s best to have a focus. Not personally, because I’m a big picture person and think we shouldn’t silo ourselves. Instead, those who hire tend to think one with a wide range of experiences doesn’t know what they want and gets bored easily. Sadly this approach encourages one to get pigeon holed.

      If you do the grad school route, I recommend getting an assistanceship that gets you more experience. If you can’t do this, then try to get 20 hours of experience a week. This is the typical amount of hours students with assistanceships work. This keeps you from getting behind your peers.

  33. Noisehater*

    My work nemesis has a standing desk and it’s driving me a bit crazy watching him jig about and do his stretches at it out of the corner of my eye. Also it has a tiny mouse-moving area and he has two large widescreen monitors i.e. quite a lot of screen space to move a mouse across, so he picks the mouse up repeatedly and drops it back down against the desk with a resonant CLUNK against the hollow plastic desk-shell. No headphones I have yet found will block out this frequency.

    (Just venting really, though any suggestions for retaining my last scraps of sanity will be read with interest.)

    In cheerier, less neurotic news, it’s a long weekend here in the UK, so I hope AAM’s UK readers have a good one.

    1. anonymouse*

      I have a similar noise problem with a coworker who has one of those multi-band bracelets with like 3 dozen charms (if that’s what they’re called) on it and it clunks and scraps against the desk every ten minutes and it’s driving me crazy. Headphones also do not block it out and the sound is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

    2. Rex*

      Sounds like you’re at BEC levels with this guy. Can you face away from him? Wear headphones?

    3. Kristinemc*

      Maybe suggest a thumb track ball mouse – they take a little getting used to, but don’t require you to move the mouse around at all!

      1. Red*

        Yep — I have three monitors and not a lot of mousing surface, and a trackball made everything WAY easier on me.

      2. Hello Felicia*

        And now I have a trackball mouse on the way from Amazon. Thanks for the tip!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I love mine. I was getting wrist pain and now that is a non-issue. It’s lasted through several computers now, too. So it feels like I am getting my money out of it.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        Although evidently it’s just the “May Bank Holiday” in the UK — “Remembrance Day” isn’t until November.

        1. Dot Warner*

          Memorial Day is slightly different than Veterans’ Day. Memorial Day is for soldiers who were killed in war but Veterans’ Day is for all veterans, whether still living or deceased from any cause. Quite a few people in the US mix this up as well.

          This has been Dot’s Pedantry Corner. Now back to regularly scheduled programming. :)

    4. Erin*

      He can change his mouse speed so the mouse moves faster on the screen in comparison to how far he moves it on the pad. IT may have to install a program or give him admin settings to do it. He can also get a mouse pad to soften the noise. Can you rearrange your desk so it’s no longer in the corner of your eye.

      1. Noisehater*

        Thanks everyone!

        I have now attached a calming picture of a kitten to the top of my monitor to block the view. If I feel brave I might ask if he could use a mousemat for noise reasons. If I feel less brave and more passive-aggressive, he has mentioned wrist problems, so perhaps I should try the trackball line…

        (It’ll be slightly suspicious if I sing their virtues too much as I don’t use one, though I can truthfully say I used to and quite liked it but gave it up as it was wireless and ate batteries at an expensive rate.)

        And a good long weekend to anyone who has one, regardless of where! Commiserations to those of you who don’t…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “Oh, Noisy, my friend just mention her wrist hurt and she thought it was her mouse. So she bought a trackball mouse and she loves it. I have not tried one, but she seemed very happy with hers.”

    5. Snork Maiden*

      Declaim loudly and at length on the health benefits of using a trackball?

      (I have one, with a dual monitor setup. I love it. No sore wrist anymore.)

    6. Chaordic One*

      I have already complained on this board about one of my former co-workers, but I can’t resist playing “Topper” from Dilbert and talking about her again. After injuring her back in a hiking accident our employer gave this co-worker a standing desk as an accommodation for her back pain. (Now that I think about it, I wonder if maybe she was also on some very good pain meds.)

      The problem was that a big part of her work involved her conducting business with a speaker phone. With her standing desk she stood above the low cubicle walls and as she hollered into her speaker phone (she did not have an indoor voice) her voice carried throughout the entire open office. She believed that in order to establish personal relationships with clients she needed to share all the intimate details of her life with them. It seemed to work with the clients (go figure), but the entire office heard way too much of her personal information.

      I still cringe remembering the time she returned from maternity leave and told a client about her difficult labor with her first-born. It ended with her telling the client, “After the baby was finally born… my uterus fell out, and the last thing I remember was the doctor said, ‘Oh, shit!’and then I went under.”

      It was like an episode of “Call the Midwife,” only worse.

    7. Troutwaxer*

      You can probably order him a custom mouse pad for almost nothing. Put a picture on the mousepad you’re sure he’ll like and make sure it’s a big one.

  34. Audiophile*

    I’m having that kind of day today. My project for the day has fallen apart, through no real fault of my own. And I can’t get it back on track because I don’t have all the things I need to get it done.

    I’m ready for the day to be over already.

    I’ll move onto the next project.

    Anyone have plans for Memorial Day weekend? I’m debating going to event hosted by the meetup group I’m in.

    1. Hlyssande*

      I don’t have any concrete plans aside from cuddling with my cat and playing too many video games. And maybe laundry.

      Even if the company didn’t take Monday as an official holiday, we’d be out of the office because the office complex is essentially shut down and the AC will be off…

      1. Audiophile*

        I’m planning to buy my ticket for the event shortly.

        My office is closed Monday and an email was sent to everyone that the AC would be shut off from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning. (I’m assuming this is to keep some of the workaholic execs home for the holiday weekend.)

  35. MayravB*

    Researchers, I have a question for you:
    I’m trying to get a job as a research assistant at hospitals/research institutes. I’ve been applying in the standard way (online application system) where they don’t say specifically which lab/PI I’m applying to work with, just the division. My friend insists that the best thing to do is call and find out who the PI is, and then email them and ask to talk about the job, or better yet, show up at their office to show how interested I am in their research.

    This sounds like terrible advice to me–I think I’d just wind up annoying everyone. But when I was in university, that WAS how to get a position. Email, show up, chat, you’re hired. What do you think?

    1. the_scientist*

      I had the same experience in undergrad- I got my jobs by reaching out to PIs I was interested in working with, and they would tell me whether they had space/funding for summer students/co-ops/research assistants.

      I work in a hospital network, but not really in a research setting anymore so I don’t have any experience applying to “real” lab jobs. But my gut instinct is that your friend is wrong, and you are correct. Hiring a full-time staff RA is different than hiring a student- the funding sources might be different, there are benefits/union things to deal with, etc. so I think you’re correct that you’ll probably just annoy people and not actually get anywhere.

      That being said, you may be able to leverage your network here- do you know people working at this hospital? Have their PIs posted jobs? Can people in your network advocate for you? PIs really love competent RAs who need minimal training, so someone who can vouch for your skill with a particular protocol or piece of equipment can be invaluable.

      1. MayravB*

        Thanks for replying! I thought it sounded wrong, but he was SO adamant about it, so I thought I’d better double-check. Good tip about networking–I’m still working on being comfortable with having and using mine! But I should suck it up and ask if anyone knows anyone. Unfortunately, it seems like there are about 12 jobs for RAs in my field, in a major city with three universities, so competition is sure to be fierce.

        1. the_scientist*

          Yikes! Good luck….can I ask what field? I worked in cell bio and immunology labs and I can tell you in that field that your reputation is invaluable. Especially if you’re applying to the university you attended. I was offered interviews in very prestigious labs based on my reputation/word of mouth alone. Fields can be so small that people often move between labs, so longtime lab techs/RAs/managers get to a point where they know EVERYONE, and all the gossip- if you have a network that can help you, use it!

          1. MayravB*

            I’m looking at psychiatric research labs, but my previous lab experience is more on the end of cognitive psychology. Network it is!

    2. AF*

      I work in clinical research (behavioral health interventions/drugs/devices), and we have full-time positions in our departments. Each department works on multiple studies at a time (and sometimes, multiple PIs), so it might be a very general position that they’re posting. It would be VERY frowned upon if you just showed up in those departments, or possibly even emailed the PI out of the blue, because these are professional positions, and you need to have specific experience or education, go through the proper HR channels, etc. If you came to my institution, you wouldn’t even be able to get in the building without an ID badge, so showing up isn’t an option.

      If you were an student, it would be more appropriate to put feelers out because you’re already on campus, and the level of tasks you’re being asked to do are very different from a full-time professional research assistant. I don’t know other types of research (short-term and/or part-time positions, etc.). I would suggest contacting departments by email and let them know what you’re looking for. It would be good just to reach out and make connections.

      1. MayravB*

        That’s a really good point about access–the places I’m looking at are in psychiatric hospitals or within regular hospitals. Even if it was a good idea to show up, I wouldn’t be able to! I’m not a student, but it does sound like networking is the way to go.

    3. NN*

      I’m a clinical/behavioural researcher at a university. I often help with hiring research assistants. I definitely wouldn’t show up (and same as AF says, you can’t get into the building without access) and probably wouldn’t even call, as everyone is very busy. But I’d be perfectly fine with someone emailing to ask who the PI is and to understand what the project(s) is/are about, especially as our job ads are pretty generic. I think networking is really valuable here too as others have suggested, as often we hire someone because we know they’ve previously worked for X who thought they were fantastic (but maybe doesn’t have a grant to keep them right now) or they are being mentored (informally) by Y, who the PI respects.

      1. MayravB*

        That brings up the point that the people I talk to don’t need to have worked exactly in the kind of research I’m interested in to vouch for me, just as long as they can speak positively about my work. Good remidner!

  36. Gene*

    Our replacement hiring is moving right along. The posting closed Friday and we got 12 applicants (it’s a pretty niche field and we are asking for experience), more than we expected. The Supplemental Questionnaires will be graded on Tuesday, and the oral panel is scheduled for June 14. Once we get a list of people who passed the panel, it goes to the Civil Service Commission for certification at the end of June and we can do hiring interviews. So we could potentially have someone on board by August.

  37. dear liza dear liza*

    iSO interview questions!

    I’m on the search committee for an entry-level hire. We do a ton of training so in the interviews, we don’t need to ask a lot of knowledge/skill questions. Instead, we’re more interested in what kind of employee and colleague the person will be. Previously, I’ve used more scenarios/ “tell me about a time when x” prompts, but sometimes these can really stump those who are fresh out of grad school. (Example: “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a co-worker and how you resolved it” leads to a lot of “This hasn’t happened to me, sorry.”)

    I would love to hear about interview questions that you found illuminating. If it helps to know what we’re looking for, I’d say we want someone enthusiastic about our profession, with a good sense of professionalism, ability to work independently and in a team, and is good at balancing priorities.

    1. just laura*

      Can you expand the scenario –explain a time you had to resolve a conflict during a school project, how did you manage time with assignments/thesis, etc.?

    2. Jubilance*

      Can you rephrase the question? Instead of “Tell me about a time when you had conflict with a coworker…” try using “Tell me about a time when you had conflict with a teammate…”

      I’d be very surprised to hear someone fresh out of school say that they never had conflict with a teammate while in school.

    3. fposte*

      We also do scenarios about what happens in our workplace–we don’t expect them to do exactly what they’d do if they get trained, but we can see whether they think about the tasks in useful ways.

    4. Marvel*

      Honestly, in those situations, I feel like the strongest candidates will recognize the purpose of the question and extrapolate to a similar circumstance if they don’t have an example from the specific one mentioned. For instance, “I haven’t had any major conflicts with coworkers, but I had conflict Y with another grad student, and I handled it by doing X.”

      If you do get a “this hasn’t happened to me, sorry” than you could expand the question by coming back with, “well, what about conflicts with teammates while you were in school?” or “how would you say you handle interpersonal conflicts in general?” or “imagine scenario X; what would you do?”

    5. Not Karen*

      I think as-is the way they are answering the question is illuminating. A good job candidate wouldn’t say “This hasn’t happened to me, sorry.” even if it’s true; they would offer an alternative, such as a conflict with someone other than a coworker, or a hypothetical (e.g. “This hasn’t happened yet, but if it did, I would do X.”) This is covered in every single “how to get a job” book that I’ve ever read.

  38. beachlover*

    No question. Just a slight rant. So we are implementing a new Demand planning system, and I have to spend hours with software consultants going over and over our current processes and procedures. This on top of my regular day to day work. I have been on several implementation committees in the past. I find it interesting because I tend to be very logical and process oriented. However, reviewing things over and over and over gives me a headache! Thank god for 3 day weekend!! Woo Hoo!

  39. super anon*

    Outrageous story of the week:

    I am a new manager (1 month this week!), and for the most part I like it. I hired and trained 2 students to work for me for the summer. One has been doing amazingly well.. and the other not so much.

    I had had to have a very difficult conversation with him last week, after I found out that while I was on vacation he decided he could work from home because the “work” (quotation marks his, not mine) I gave him to do didn’t require him being in the office, even though I had told him multiple times summer students are not allowed to work from home. He continually came into work late – he was an hour late on his second day, and he told me it was because he was at brunch. When I came back to the office after my vacation, he told me that he had lied on his time sheet! He hadn’t worked from home at all while I was away, but he claimed nearly 20 hours and was paid for them because “he thought he might be really busy next week and would need more time to work”. It’s also blindingly apparent that he doesn’t respect me or the work I assign him, nor does he take me seriously as a manager.

    Normally I would have fired an employee on the spot for time stealing, because it’s theft and shows an amazingly stunning lack of awareness around what is acceptable at work, but my hr department wanted me to give him a chance because summer students need more mentoring than normal employees. So, we had a 1 hour long conversation where I laid out for him all of his unacceptable behaviour, that I would need to see it change quickly, and that most jobs would fire him instead of even having the conversation. I also told him that if he didn’t change, the next conversation would be me firing him. He seemed to understand. But fast forward to this week…

    Yesterday I told him that I would come to his office and see him before noon. I knock on his door at 11:30 and there’s no answer. I think that’s strange, but I told him he could wear headphones so maybe he just can’t hear me. I knock again – still no answer. So I open the door, and he is sleeping! Sleeping so deeply he is snoring! His computer is entirely off and it’s obvious he hasn’t been working all morning. I try to wake him up but he is dead to the world. So, I shut the door and go consult with HR on the best ways to wake up a sleeping employee that won’t get me in trouble (is shaking someone awake considered harassment?!) and how to approach this, because I was too aghast to even comprehend the situation. She also told me that last week he had left his office keys in the door to this office overnight. In a building that’s been broken in to 4 times since January. Keys to an office that has sensitive and confidential information and should never be left unlocked or easily accessible.

    Eventually we settled on sending him home for the day and telling him not to come in next week while I am on vacation again (I know, normally I wouldn’t go away so soon after hiring new employees, but these vacations were booked months before knowing I’d have direct reports). When I went to go tell him to go home he had woken up and was gone from his office – so I waited for him to come back. When he did I told him that when I came to see him he was sleeping and that was unacceptable, especially after the conversation last week. That because his access to our records system still hasn’t been approved and clearly he doesn’t take the other work I told him to do seriously that it would be best for him to go home, not to come in next week, and on Tuesday when I am back we will have a very serious conversation about the matter.

    Later that day he sent me an email demanding that I tell him why I sent him home, and that it was very inappropriate for me to send him home without having the discussion right away. He also told me that the reason he was sleeping was because he has family issues that are stopping him from sleeping well.. and that I should give him another chance (?!?!) because of that.

    I feel like I’m failing as a manager.. even though I know that isn’t true. But.. how many managers have to undertake disciplinary action (and essentially a PIP) on someone 3 weeks into their first manager role.. and then likely have to fire someone a month in?

    Anyway – thanks AAM fam and Allison, I feel like I never would have been able to approach this situation calmly and rationally (or even know what to do) without all of the great management advice I’ve read here for the past 2 years!

      1. super anon*

        I agree completely. I wanted to, but my hr department and the student worker program both told me I had to try to “mentor” him first, and then if he didn’t improve fire him.

        When we had our first serious discussion he told me that the reason he lied on his timesheet was because his other jobs allow it, so he thought that was okay everywhere?!?! I was so shocked it was difficult not to let my jaw drop the floor when he told m this!

        Also.. he’s not 18/19 and this isn’t his first job.. so his behaviour is even more baffling.

      2. Amy M in HR*

        “Fudging a time sheet usually means an instant firing. No excuses.” – Agreed – and this is normally written into an employee handbook so it is clear as day. With that said, by not firing him the precedent has been set, so if others fudge on their time sheets you would need to afford them the same “second chance” as you did this employee. Bad advice by your HR team!
        I managed employees for many years, and I can tell you that most of them will not be like this, hopefully this experience will make handling your other less difficult employees much easier. Good luck!

    1. Jennifer*

      It’s probably happened to other people before. Luck of the crappy draw, I guess.

      But hey, he’s conspicuously sucking, what else can you do?

    2. Karo*

      Does he not realize that he’s already on his “another chance”? That he should’ve been fired ages ago? This is ridiculous and so not your fault. There’s a basic level of expected behavior from employees that you can’t train into a person, and he’s not meeting that level.

      1. catsAreCool*

        “There’s a basic level of expected behavior from employees that you can’t train into a person, and he’s not meeting that level.” This!

    3. Rex*

      You have given this guy way more chances than he deserves. Firing always sucks, but this seems like a pretty clear case to me.

      1. Rex*

        Put it this way — you’re not doing him any favors about learning how the working world operates if there aren’t any consequences for this sort of thing. Honestly, that email he sent you would have been the last straw for me. See if HR will let you send an “actually, don’t come back at all” email.

          1. super anon*

            Hi Allison! Question – can you fire someone via email? From reading your blog I always thought this was the kind of conversation that’s best had in person?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Don’t do it via email — in part because you don’t know when or even if the person will see it. Are you asking because he’s not in the office for the next week? If so, I think it’s fine to do over the phone in a context like this one. However, if he will have to come back in anyway to returns keys and other property, I’d do it in-person – -have him come in, bring all his stuff, and do it that day.

              1. super anon*

                Oh, I was asking because Res suggested it and you replied to him, so I thought you might be endorsing that idea. :p

                I’m going to be on vacation next week and he won’t be back until the Tuesday of the week after. Do you suggest firing him first thing in the morning when he comes in?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Oh whoops, I’d missed that.

                  If you’ll be on vacation after today, then yes, I’d do it as soon as you’re back. You could ask him to come in Monday instead of Tuesday, but that’s probably not practical since you’ll be getting settled after a week away, so yes, Tuesday morning. Get all your ducks arranged with HR ahead of time.

      2. Sas*

        But, I will say this. I was at an hourly paid position. Came in early, started working 15 minutes early, adjusted schedule to reflect this. Was able to do so. But, then I got a call at the store from another employee that needed a ride to work now! I said that I couldn’t, but other manager said I needed to do so. So, I left and went to pick up this person. Then, I forgot to change my schedule back. Well, I got torn apart for that. I was almost asked to leave, it was that bad. Make sure that you aren’t that type of manager also. Seems like you aren’t though (to the OP).

        I am surprised, and after some of the posts on here this week, that some people are allowed to manage anything and not be fired!! Am I the only one?

        1. Audiophile*

          I’m a bit confused. You started working 15 minutes early and put that on your time sheet. You were then ordered by a supervisor to pick up another employee. Were you exempt or non-exempt? If you were non-exempt I would think that would have been considered work related and you shouldn’t have to change your time sheet when you left to pick up the employee.

          1. Sas*

            I was confused also. But, that’s to show you that not all managers are good even if they say they are! I am not saying that for the other person’s case, but yeah, they don’t all tell the honest truth!

    4. Laura*

      Fire him. Now. Just because he’s a student doesn’t mean that he can get away with all those egregious mistakes.

      1. catsAreCool*

        It’s better if he learn now then later that this behavior isn’t acceptable. Although his e-mail makes it sound like he’s not going to learn until he gets fired from his next job.

    5. fposte*

      Don’t let yourself be pushed by HR on this. This is not somebody in need of a little coaching–this is a slacker who will take all your work time to police. This is not an appropriate job for a PIP. Fire him.

      1. BRR*

        Exactly. Your HR is wrong. You are not failing as a manager. Your employees can represent how you are as a manager but in this case it’s not you. The best thing you can do for him and for you is to fire him.

        Falsely reporting time isn’t something that you learn once you enter the professional world.

      2. super anon*

        I agree. Unfortunately due to the funding grant I was given through the university there were some steps I had to follow first (I’ve even heard of cases were student workers weren’t instantly fired for blatantly and knowingly violating our student information confidentiality agreement… which is absolute insanity), before I could move forward with firing him.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed with fposte. This person needs help on a remedial level as he does not understand the basics expected in workplaces and he does not understand how to keep a job. The reason you feel like you might be failing is because you are not expected to provide this level of remedial help and you are not set up to do it.
        People who work to teach basic job skills to others are given more tools than you have been given by your employer. This guy needs way more supervision and guidance than can be expected from someone in your position. He is not prepared to handle the work environment.

    6. Ama*

      Honestly, if HR balks I think you should lay out everything he’s done to them and push to fire him. Falsifying the time sheet alone should be a huge problem for them, much less failing to follow security protocols.

      I don’t think this is your fault. He clearly knows that student workers are given extra leeway at your university and is trying to see how far he can push it.

    7. Rebecca in Dallas*

      “I was late because I was at brunch.”

      I’m going to try this excuse next time I’m late. Will report back!

    8. A. D. Kay*

      Unbelievable! Honestly, I think the best thing that could happen to this guy would be for you to fire him. Maybe that will be a wake-up call for him. It sounds like he has been coddled and given “second chances” all his life, and needs to learn consequences for his behavior.

    9. Marvel*

      You are definitely NOT failing as a manager! You had a very difficult conversation with him in which you clearly laid out the issues and the expectations going forward. Now, things have not improved enough, it’s time for consequences. That really is all you can do–you can’t make people do the work and do it right if they’re unwilling to, no matter how hard you try.

      I think more new-ish managers have been in this situation than you realize, ESPECIALLY with student employees. It’s unfortunate but not unheard of. How involved were you in the hiring process? Because with issues like these coming up so quickly, I think that’s probably where the problem lies. While it’s not always possible, ideally this is something you’d weed out during interviews or when checking references.

      1. super anon*

        I was very involved in the hiring process. I conducted all of the interviews and reference checks myself, which is why I feel I extra-failed here.

        When I did the reference checks I asked questions about reliability, attendance, trustworthiness, and ability to do the work. All 3 references came back positive and indicated no waving red flags. One said he needed more structure than most, and to make it very clear what was expected of him… but with student workers that’s usually par for the course. He wasn’t my first choice candidate, but due to low applications I had to hire him after my top 3 choices had accepted other positions or else I would have lost my grant funding for the position. In the future I think I would rather lose the grant than have a situation like this happen again!

        1. fposte*

          “he needed more structure than most, and to make it very clear what was expected of him… but with student workers that’s usually par for the course”–but mostly when somebody mentions it it’s because it’s more than usual.

          1. super anon*

            Absolutely – I wish I had known that when I was hiring. Our hiring guide for these types of student positions indicates that these positions are typically to be used as mentoring/PD experience for students who may not have a lot of experience, or who need guidance, etc. It says that we should take that into account when hiring and checking references, so I did.

            This is definitely a learning experience for me too, and now I know something to definitely look out for in the hiring process. It sucks, but I’m going to try to see this as a positive and learn from it, the way I hope my (soon to be) former student worker does.

    10. Silver Radicand*

      I manage many college student and student-aged workers and I have totally had similar conversations and situations with several employees. At this point what you’ve described warrants immediate firing. Over the phone, if necessary (though having a witness with you is a good plan given his contentiousness).

      As far as feeling it reflects on you, this person has shown that it doesn’t. This is clearly their own mess. Now, you can always try look for any signs that might’ve tipped you off when hiring to steer away from such employees in the future, but seriously, this guy is far into territory where the learning he needs is This Will Get You Fired.

      Also, fist-bump to my fellow manager!

    11. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Yep, you need to fire him. No point in a PIP – to me those are for people who are doing their jobs but just not well enough … he’s not doing his job. He’s lying, stealing and sleeping on company time. And I’m sorry that he has family issues but so do many, many people who aren’t sleeping at their desks. He needs to go. I’m not sure who you talked to in HR, but if you need to, take it up the food chain and don’t let them try to push you around because you’re a new-ish manager.

    12. Dr. Doll*

      Good lord, YOU are not failing at all. He is spectacularly nosediving. Fire him immediately with no further discussion. It’ll just be harder the longer you wait.

      And don’t worry; we all hire at least ONE that we wish we hadn’t.

  40. Lizzy*

    I have a question for other Executive Assistants (out of curiosity): What type of personality or personalities do you work with/have worked with?

    I ask because I am in a first-time role assisting a marketing executive who is very sweet and a great people person, but is crazy sloppy and unorganized (hence where I come in). At his worst, he can be impulsive and anti-procedure/anti-authority, which makes it harder for me to do my job. He is essentially the antithesis of the stereotypical Type A executive and the only senior leader in my org who does not have Type A tendencies.

    I guess I am just curious to see what types of personalities other EAs have to deal with or dealt with in the past, good, bad, or ugly…

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      When I was an admin, my least favorite person to work for was the one who gave me half-instructions. If I went back to get clarity, she was annoyed. If I used my best judgement based on my knowledge of her and past requests, and got it wrong, she was annoyed. I’m not a mind-reader!

      1. SJ*

        Amen! I’m not an admin but this is my boss all over. Half-instructions or one-word emails that say “Update?” ……ON WHAT? And then, of course, the pissy response when I ask for clarification.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Or getting cc’d on a long chain of emails. Sometimes I’m supposed to intuit that it’s just FYI and I don’t need to do anything; other times there’s a request, made by someone else to someone else, buried 10 emails deep in the chain and I’m supposed to intuit that I’m being asked to fulfill it.

    2. formerea*

      haha! my old boss whom I worked with for 2 yrs as his assistant was an asshole but he adored me.

      22 & freshly out of college, i interviewed for a EA position for a large corporate law firm where my boss was C-level executive. he’s also from Colombia and has a very machismo attitude. I was hired on the spot and shortly after two wks of working there i found out his previous assistants (5 total in 2 yrs) quit or he fired. so i was terrified.

      my desk was outside his office so i saw him come in every morning and would say good morning but he would straight up ignore me. i also was the messenger for anyone who needed to speak with him. so i was constantly popping into his office. he would ignore me. he was/and is an asshole. very private guy, he is always right, VERY unorganized, impulsive and does whatever he wants whenever he wants. missplaced files all the time, couldnt remember details, chose not to/forgot to go to meetings. basically acted like a bratty little kid.

      i started going and sitting down in a chair across from him and asking how he was. eventually he started saying good morning. I never argued or questioned him. if i knew what he was telling me something & it was incorrect, i never told him. i just said ok & went & did things correctly, got the job done right. THEN when completed i would explain that x wasn’t possible for y reasons and this is how i got the results. icing on the cake was, i decorated his office for his birthday and brought cake. he beamed like a kid & left the balloons & streamers in his office for almost a yr. i also respected his privacy. never spoke negative to or about him. i respected him as a boss and was patient in earning his trust so that way I could start being more vocal about things.

      after his birthday, he became more open minded to my opinions and i was able to *slowly* try things my way. due to his unorganization, i on my own started going into his office and cleaning his desk daily. getting all his files and reorganizing them. i started implementing policies and procedures for him to follow and routines. he obviously wouldn’t abide by them but i was strict and let him know that we had to do these things in order to keep him on track. i became more vocal and assertive about how to manage him, he would push back slightly in not following “my rules” and i would let him do what he wanted but as soon as he did he would mess up and realized i was right. example: i constantly had to remind him about meetings but he hated them and one day just told me i nagged him more than his wife did. so i didnt “nag” him for a day and he missed multiple meetings with important people. he was upset he missed them (was disrespectful or rude) just asked why i didnt remind him. so i told him i wasnt going to nag him. after that he kept his mouth closed. and never missed a meeting again.

      he also became more laid back and happier in the office. after 6 mos, people noticed a difference. even his wife. it was a slow process to get him to where he’s at now. he told me i was the best assistant he ever had and the most trustworthy person who worked for him.

      1. Zahra*

        Oh my, that would be so me if I was in a similar position. Those are very ADHD traits and the way you managed him and gave him structure is exactly how you can manage someone with ADHD (but you need cooperation, or it might backfire).

      2. Aurion*

        Wow, kudos to you for figuring out how to work with him! And you were only 22??

        How did he handle you leaving? “Please don’t leave, I’ll double your pay?” And how did your replacement fare under him, do you know?

    3. Pwyll*

      I’ve had the super Type-A bosses who wanted to micromanage everything I did for them, and the entirely scattered artists. I’d get e-mails (after MONTHS of working for the Type-A) like: “Place my invoices in a blue folder with a label in type 14 font bolded on a rack at the top-right of my desk”. Or, “I want to be on the Delta 1231 to DC arriving at noon, and arrange for a couch to take me leaving at 9:45” who would go absolutely insane when I’d tell her that Delta doesn’t fly to DC, there aren’t any flights arriving at noon, and a 9:45 pickup would make her late for the flight. She was special.

      I was also EA to a CEO who literally couldn’t fathom what I did with my time all day. He just knew that things like his schedule, office, travel, etc. just magically happened, but couldn’t grasp how such things could take up so much of my time. Once we had a huge conference as a client and he loaned me to the conference organizers because “You have details that need to be accomplished, and Pwyll makes it so I don’t ever see details, so I think he could be helpful with this” which I think was meant to be his highest compliment of me.

      1. Brooke*

        ““I want to be on the Delta 1231 to DC arriving at noon, and arrange for a couch to take me leaving at 9:45″”

        I know you meant coach but I have this awesome picture in my head of a flying couch AND I WANT ONE.

        1. Pwyll*

          Hah! Though, if I were truly accurate, it would have read:

          “Pywll: i ned to be in dc tmrrw. bk Delta 1231 ariving noon order couch take me lving 945”

    4. I'm Not Phyllis*

      So I’ve been EA to three people. The first was basically a no-show during working hours (she was only acting in the role, though so at least it was temporary). With her I just learned to work with her hours – never book meetings in the morning. It was annoying but it was only for a few months. The second person was literally the boss from hell who expected me to work 24/7, didn’t want to talk to me but still somehow expected me to know everything – I can’t even tell you what a miserable experience this was. With her I learned basically just to do what she wanted, when she wanted it, whether it made sense to me or not, because there wasn’t really another option. She got rid of everyone who disagreed with her.

      Thankfully the person I’m working for now is AWESOME. He’s smart, kind, reasonable and very communicative. He doesn’t need to be “managed up” and he’s generally just a joy to work with.

      So the answer if there is one – it’s the luck of the draw as to what personality type you’ll get. The big difference between a CEO and other managers is that they don’t have anyone above them to regulate their behaviour (unless you count a Board of Directors, but they’re not on site …) so sometimes their quirks can be more pronounced.

      1. newreader*

        Very much this – there are a variety of types of executives and managers and it really is the luck of the draw in many cases. I’m currently an EA to a VP and he is wonderful to work for. Unfortunately, he’s leaving our company soon and I’m a bit worried about who I’ll be working for next. Hopefully none of the horror stories in these comments!

  41. MoinMoin*

    Started with a new company in July, got promoted in December. Husband was offered and accepted a promotion out of state, so now we’re moving and I feel like I’m starting over again in my career. I’m still in the original location selling the house while he’s already moved up and I’m trying to figure out when to tell my employer. The plan was that I’d sell the house and while doing that job search so I’d have an idea of the job market by the time I was our of the house. Instead, the house was under contract within 72 hours and I’ve been out of town and haven’t started looking for a job at all and now I’m looking at 2 weeks before we close. I can stay indefinitely in a family member’s winter home until I’m ready to move up with my husband, but I’m having trouble figuring out the right time to tell my employer.
    I’d be willing to give a long notice period (through January if I don’t get another job in the meantime) but our department has had a lot of restructuring in the last few months and the few coworkers I’ve spoken with don’t seem very confident that me giving a long notice would be to my advantage. Still, 2 other people on our team of 8 are being promoted to other departments and since I know they’ll be hiring and training anyway, I guess I’m wistfully stuck wanting to tell them for efficiency if nothing else. And/or the 2% chance I could work remotely.
    I think I know anyone from the outside would read this and say it’s obvious that I should look out for me and not advise them until I’m ready to leave anyway, so I’ll just ask if anyone else has been in a similar position and what they did.
    Or alternatively, if anyone knows about the job market in Fort Collins.

    1. Laura*

      The job market in Fort Collins is good. Not sure what industry you’re in, but you might have skills that would be valuable at Colorado State University. It’s a great college town– I’m sure you will like it!

      Giving notice– what would you prefer? Do you like your job enough to stay longer? Can you afford to not have income for a little while while you search for a job? Do you WANT to be away from your husband that long? Just questions to ask yourself. It doesn’t seem like it would hurt for you to give two weeks’ notice like anyone else.

      1. MoinMoin*

        Thanks, you have no idea how much I appreciate a little assurance on my future home.
        My current job is accounting-adjacent and it kills me that I may be leaving them in the lurch for year end. But I’ll give as much notice as I can if I get a new job (or decide I just need to move already and continue my search locally), and in the meantime just trying to do everything I can to document and streamline processes and generally make it as simple as possible for anyone walking into the job.
        I guess I really want to be honest because I’ll feel less guilty and in my head this would play out with me having some certainty about what I do for how long while I’m here and I wouldn’t have to worry about being so discreet with my job search and I’d get a glowing recommendation from people here and then they offer to let me work remote for a bazillion dollars and it just all works so nicely.

    2. Dot Warner*

      I’m not familiar with the job market in Fort Collins, but the town as a whole seems like a great place to live! The downtown area is very nice – lots of shopping, restaurants, bars. In addition to CSU, Fort Collins is home to the New Belgium Brewery (makers of Fat Tire), which might be a good place to work if you’re a beer drinker. :) It’s also a short drive to the mountains and there are lots of opportunities for skiing/snowboarding, hiking, and whitewater rafting.

      1. mander*

        An excellent point on the beer, though Fat Tire is not my favourite (I prefer 1554 black lager — excellent!). I’ve never actually been to Fort Collins, despite growing up in Colorado, but it always has had a reputation for being a nice place.

  42. on a train in some rain*

    Hello Friday open thread,
    I think there have been posts/threads on AAM before about how to train oneself to wait to speak until the message comes out tactfully and appropriately. I think I’m good at that, but lately I’ve been getting feedback from a coworker that my facial expressions are very expressive and the negative faces I make expose my gut reaction. I’m asking for suggestions on strengthening control to keep a calm, neutral face.

    1. Jules the First*

      Ask someone to flag it for you. I have a colleague who brings out the snark in me and we regularly end up in meetings together where I have to be polite. I enlisted another meeting attendee to sit opposite me and signal discreetly when my body language was inappropriate – it took a few months, but I can now meet with this guy without incident (mostly – the odd day I’m tired or grumpy, he can still push my buttons).

      1. on a train in some rain*

        Thanks to both of you for the suggestions. They sound like good ideas to try.

    2. Frustrated Optimist*

      I try to follow the maxim of “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” To this end, I try to focus all of my attention on what the other person is saying, versus formulating my response in my head while they’re actually still speaking. This, I believe, keeps my face from revealing emotions I may not be ready to share.

    3. Joanna*

      This probably sounds dumb, but sometimes pretending like you’re a spy who is there to observe as much as possible while saying and expressing as little as possible helps.

  43. Lunar*

    Hi AAM friends! I have a question about resumes and creative jobs. Basically my situation is this: I will soon be relocating to a new city (with many creative industries) and will be looking for a new job. What I’m most interested in is art and I’d hope to someday have an art/design related job or hage my own small business making/selling my art. I didn’t go to school for art and my current job is at a small nonprofit (not arts related) where I wear many hats (website management/social media/admin/programs/operations – we’re very small). I’d love to learn more/break into the arts industry and would be happy to work in a position doing the more admin-related stuff that I’m doing now for an artist or at a more arts-focused company. Any advice on how to do this?
    My resume right now is extremely nonprofit heavy and I don’t really have any professions art jobs to add to it (I do have a small following on social media and have been featured in a few small publications, but not really anything I’d normally include on a resume). Should I add my more art related stuff to my resume, even if there isn’t much of it? Or should I keep it off and just write about my passion for art in a cover letter? Are arts jobs (even not as an artist) completely different in hiring and I’m doing this all wrong? Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. First Initial dot Last Name*

      Start looking at the resumes of artists working the way you want to work. You’ll begin to see that Artists have a different kind of resume than a regular work resume. They’ll maybe have a chronological exhibition record broken out in solo and group shows, awards, (grants and special honors), publications etc., as well you will have to maintain a portfolio, no more than 20 slides, generally no more than 5 minutes of moving image or sound work (give or take). You must, must, must have a portfolio website. period.

      “Juried” shows don’t count, they’re pay to play and have little value on your exhibition record.
      Document all of your work. It’s fine to make and sell, but, pix or it didn’t happen.

      Speaking as an enculturated and specially educated artist in multiple disciplines, it’s still hard to “break into the arts” as a creative. I was an “outsider” artist for 25 years before finally going to school because I felt that I had to in order to break through the ceiling I was bumping into. Depending on the field you’re talking about it may be necessary to have a degree, even if that degree is only an associated degree where you’d at least take discipline related history classes, which (I agree) are important to understanding the context of your work in the field. For example, it’s one thing to be a typeface/font nerd, it’s another thing to understand the nuances of how a specific serif evokes particular feelings. And, there’s also a LOT of value to having sat through class critiques.

      A lot of “breaking in” to the arts and creative work is just showing up. Go to the art walks in your area, hobnob, talk with people, go to the screenings, (again I don’t know what art practice you’re referring to), gallery openings, readings, performances, schedule and plan and make yourself go. The more familiar people are with you as a person the more likely they’ll think of you when a creative task comes up, or when a business participating in the neighborhood art walk is thinking about hanging an emerging talent on their walls. Seriously, I hate this part of it, but networking is super important.

      Good luck, be persistent and tenacious.

  44. Abigael*

    So I’ve seen posts on AAM about what is the correct salutation to begin emails (dear/hello/colon/comma/etc), but I’m wondering what people like to use as their closing, especially for more informal emails. I typically use “sincerely” but sometimes that feels a bit stuffy when it’s just a short note to someone in my office. However, I also don’t want to end with JUST my name because that seems to be too abrupt. I’ve seen variations like “Kind regards” or “respectfully” but those also seem very formal to me. I’ve also seen people use “thanks” as a closing, but what if I’m not thanking them for anything?

    So, what do you usually use for your closing for emails? Do you just have one standard closing, or do you switch it up depending on context?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I use “Best,” and “Many thanks,” a lot — the thanks even if I’m not thanking them for anything. It’s just an acknowledgement of, thanks for reading this and taking the time to handle my request/whatever.

      1. Karo*

        I use thanks as well, and this is sort of how I think about it.

        Honestly, though, your best bet is to look at how others in your organization or that you’re emailing are signing off and to copy them.

    2. Jennifer*

      I say thanks. Everything else sounds just too pretentious. Even if I technically have zero reason to thank them for anything, I’m using it because I have to say something and I don’t like “best” or whatever else we’re supposed to use.

    3. Ad Astra*

      If I’m not thanking them for something, I sometimes just let my email signature do the talking. Or I’ll throw in “Have a great weekend!” or something conversational. Stuff like “sincerely” or “kind regards” would be way too formal for my office. Really, “Best” is a bit formal for my office, but I think it would work in a lot of other settings.

    4. Canadian Natasha*

      When I compose emails for work purposes I most often use “Yours,” (short for “Sincerely yours,”) in my primary email and adjust formality from there. Once someone replies, I’ll close with “Thank you,” or “Thanks,” depending on the formality of their response. Once we’ve been in regular informal communication I may even close with a casual “Have a great week(end),” or similar. With same-level coworkers I would default to just my name or else a smiley face emoticon (We are the type of office where this is considered appropriate. Obviously not all workplaces feel the same.). FWIW, I am in an admin position where I regularly communicate by email with judges, lawyers, and doctors.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I use “thanks” when I close an email, but I don’t close emails to people I speak with regularly. “Thanks” then works out to be appropriate 98% of the time anyway. I don’t think people think about the 2% of the time that it’s not.

      I use “Best” when I’m blowing someone off. :) “Best” is for “Here’s some info, I can’t help you any more than this, hope to not hear from you again, best of luck”

      1. Ife*

        I also use “thanks” for everything, or end with my signature. The way I see it, it doesn’t have to make sense, it’s just a filler word that means “I’m done now.”

    6. De Minimis*

      Most of my e-mails are internal, so I normally use “Thanks.”

      I will use “Thank you” with outside people depending on the nature of the communication, people that I know a little better [if we’ve met in person or talked on the phone a lot] I will go back to “Thanks.” I rarely use anything else.

    7. SS*

      My default is to end with “Thanks,” then my name. I don’t see it as thanking them for something in particular, but more like ‘thanks for your time’. If it’s a quick back and forth I’ll just end it with my name. I’ll change it up if it’s something more formal to end with “Regards” or “Sincerely”.

    8. LQ*

      I do variants of thanks. Thanks! Thanks, Thank you, Thank you very much!

      I have concerns about being seen as too abrupt and too harsh and thanking people for their time when they’ve read my email is one of the easiest things to do.

      I had a day where I was just signing off as
      – LQ
      and I had like 3 people stop and ask if I was mad at them, so back to thanks it is.

    9. BRR*

      I use depending on the situation thanks, with thanks, warm regards, all the best, or have a great weekend (like the one I sent this morning).

    10. super anon*

      I use “Cheers” for informal emails, especially with people I have a good rapport with. I use “Best” when I’m sending emails to large groups of people, especially in emails where I’m asking for something. I’ll also use “Thank you,” if it feels appropriate (usually if there’s a big ask involved, or if it’s an email i’m asking to be forward to other people who i missed).

      I’ve seen some weird salutations come through my inbox though. “All my relations” is the most baffling one, followed by “With respect”, especially because it is my coworker who is always trying to undermine me who sends that one… so I always read it in a passive aggressive tone.

      1. De Minimis*

        “All my relations” is a popular phrase within some American Indian communities, it is sort of like “Cheers…”

        I’m guessing it’s some kind of weird affectation, though, I’ve never heard of anyone using it as a substitute for “Sincerely yours…”

        1. super anon*

          Oh, that’s good to know about all my relations! I googled the phrase and the first result was an article about indigenous erotica, which made me even more uncomfortable receiving it in an email.

          1. AnotherFed*

            That just made me bust out laughing. Good thing most people are gone for the day!

    11. Dot Warner*

      I use “Cheers” most of the time. If it’s an informal context, I might do “TGIF” or “Happy Hump Day.”

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks for reading.
      Thanks for considering.
      Will be in touch
      If you have any questions, please call/email me.
      Have a good afternoon/day/weekend.

      It’s also helpful to consider the individual. Most of the people I email are so busy they would not even realize that I just abruptly ended the email with just my name. One of these busy people signs with his first initial. So I take my cues from that.

  45. Anon For This*

    I had an interview last week that I think went well, but I don’t think I’m the right fit for the position. I really hate when you show up in a suit and everyone’s in jeans. Anyway, they said they’d probably make their decision early this week and not it’s late this week and I’m trying not to be impatient, but I think today I’ll do a quick follow up email just to let them know I’m still interested, etc. Not so much a question; more an…update?

    I seriously hate this part of the job search/interview process.

    1. Collie*

      3-5 days, but be prepared to request more last minute in case there are complications. I ended up having issues (an infection? I can’t remember at this point…too many drugs) and, while I was a student at the time and it was during the summer, I was pretty much on the couch for a whole week. I understand this was somewhat unusual, but it’s best to be prepared!

    2. Marvel*

      If it helps, it’s pretty normal to be dressed more formally than the interviewers! Expected, even, in some cases. That’s not indicative of a problem on either end.

      Did you send a thank-you email after your interview? If so, I’d skip the follow-up email now; it’s only been a few days since they said they’d probably (emphasis on probably) get back to you, and that’s hardly any time at all. If you don’t hear from them in another couple of weeks, you could maybe send an email then, but I’d honestly just figure they’re not interested and move on.

      1. Anon For This*

        Yeah, I sent the Thank You email the day after the interview. I’m trying to remind myself that it took them a month and a half to even call for the interview so it might take them forever to even tell me they’ve made another choice.

  46. LabTech*

    Hi All, a quick question: What’s a reasonable amount of time to take off for getting all four wisdom teeth extracted? Or, how much time did you take off if you got them extracted?

    1. Ell*

      I had all three (never grew a 4th) taken out and was down for about 5 days. I’m extremely sensitive to anesthesia, vicodin and the like so I was woozy for like 4 days. I had an employee who took three days off recently and was fine though.

    2. Minion*

      I took about 3 days, I think. It’s been so long ago it’s hard to remember, but I do remember being in a lot of pain and on a pretty powerful pain pill, so I would have been useless at work even if I had gone in.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      I had mine out on a Monday and went on to work security an all-day concert on Saturday (Ozzfest!). I was still on drugs but I don’t think a whole lot of people that day weren’t at least somewhat chemically altered…
      Anywho, I remember not being able to open my mouth more than a centimeter for the better part of that week, and being too weak from not being able to eat to do much of anything. If I had to do it again I’d give myself a whole week.

      1. Lillian McGee*

        Reading these other comments, I feel I should qualify my recommendation with: I was pretty weak in constitution to begin with, and I reacted badly to the anesthesia so if you are of tougher stuff, you may not need a whole week.

        1. Lillian McGee*

          Yep! Backstage, which sounds super serious but we were venue security so really just checking passes and telling people where stuff is.

          My best one from Ozzfest was the year the Hell’s Angels showed up and just walked on through the doors. The guys at the gates tried to stop them (verbally) but they didn’t even turn their heads. Even the tour security boss was scared. “Uhh, just let them in. I’ll keep an eye on them” he said. Better him than me.

      2. Hlyssande*

        I had that same problem….but also got dry sockets and strep at the same time. :D

    4. the_scientist*

      I think I took two or three days off, plus a weekend? I’m pretty sure I had them out on a Thursday and was back at work by Monday/Tuesday. However, I was awake for my removal, not under general anaesthetic (DO NOT RECOMMEND, FYI) so didn’t have to deal with complications from that. I had all four done at once without complications, but I had pain for about two weeks and significant (hilarious) swelling. I don’t know what they gave me for the pain, but it was fantastic–I could drive while taking it!– which also eased recovery considerably.

      It really varies person to person and you can’t know in advance if you’ll have complications or react poorly to the anaesthetic or to the drugs. My brother had his out a year after me and was fine within a day, and a friend had every complication imaginable (cysts over the teeth, dry sockets, infection), so you just never know! Three days would be the absolute minimum, I would think.

      1. ThatGirl*

        To counter this, I had both top ones out at once and one lower one later – all without general anethesia – and I did fine. No complications, not much swelling, the only problem I had was the vicodin making me nauseated. I took about 2-3 days to recover in both cases.

        BUT, my dad had five out at once (yes, five) and looked like a chimpmunk for a week, so … YMMV.

    5. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I was out for one day, plus a weekend. My sister was out for an entire week. It really depends on your reaction to anesthesia, the post-op meds, and your general recovery time.

    6. Wisdom plus*

      I had 5 wisdom teeth, 2 of which were fused together and had to be hammer-chiseled into pieces for removal. Skilled dentist. I was a little sore for a few days. Never needed more than Tylenol, though, and I am a wuss for pain. Point being, don’t assume this is going to be that difficult because it may not be.

    7. Anne S*

      It depends hugely on how complicated your removal is. Mine was about the easiest possible – they popped them out after giving me some novocaine, no drilling/cutting/stitches required. By the next day I didn’t even need advil, and could have gone to work if I wasn’t eating pudding or ice cream every 2 hours. (I had taken that day off, though, so treated it as a surprise vacation day.)

      1. Snork Maiden*

        Yes, they just popped mine out, no cutting or anything required, just some freezing. I took an ibuprofen and walked home, went to work the next day no worries.

    8. MsMaryMary*

      I took three days, but there was a weekend in the middle. I think I had my teeth extracted on Thursday, and then took Friday and Monday as PTO too. I probably could have worked on Monday, or at least worked from home, but I was still taking Vicodin. I get loopy/sleepy on Vicodin, so working while on meds is a bad idea.

      1. Jules the First*

        I took a week (had mine out under general anesthetic – learned the hard way that anesthesia and me are not friendly!), but I looked like a boxing-mad chipmunk for about a month (yay for red hair and fair skin!!) and couldn’t really chew for much of that month.

        My younger sister had hers out at the dentist, took three days off and was back at work on day four.